Tuesday, August 29, 2006

4 Paragraphs of My Best Writing About Me

I've been filling out gradschool applications. Yes, really. They vary a lot. Some just want my name, address, a transcript and how I'm going to pay for classes. Some want a writing sample (in triplicate, manuscript form, paperclips instead of staples). I have to get Letters of Recommendation from...I can think of two people, possibly three. I am not sure. Anyone want to claim familiarity with my writing and scribble me a glowing Letter of Recommendation?

One of them wants a Personal Statement. They are very specific about it, too -- must be My Best Writing About Myself; must outline why I want to enter this writing program; must include how I want to structure my course of study; must include my JOB RESUME.

Yeah, that's right. Oh, and they want $40 to touch my filthy paperwork, too. Of course they do. They sent me the nicest, most artsy brochure.

Once again I find myself wondering why I want to do this. It's no breeze, this grad school thing. I know that. It's a challenge just getting the applications put together. Will having an additional degree make a difference in my life? Will it make me a better writer? Will it leave the world panting at my feet?

Probably not, on all counts. But I want to do this...because it keeps looming up in front of me, this thing I should have done before, just like getting my BA kept looming in front of me until I finally managed it. And I do my best writing in classes, with deadlines and feedback and cruel remarks penciled all over. On my own, I just shove those into the folder and never look back (well, hardly ever). There's some magic in the interaction that I need.

Also, I want the paper that says I did it. I just want that proof. Ok, that might be the most hollow reason of them all, but there it is.

How do I want to do this? I want someone else's eye on me. I want to read and write and write and revise and then do it more. I want to feel that rare certanty that a story is done -- if not perfected, at least done as far as I'm concerned. I've done it a time or two and it's a wonderful feeling.

Right now, though, I wish someone else would do these damned applications.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A few seconds

Hve you heard the Dave Matthews song "So Much To Say"? I don't have any of that. Stuff to say, I mean.

Ok, I can fake it. Right now, at this very moment, I'm having one of my little episodes of "can't quite breathe". My chest feels a little tight, as is my throat. I know I'm breathing ok because I'm not turning blue or anything, but the SENSATION won't go away.

What's puzzling is that I'd pretty much figured it was all anxiety based, since I've had long periods of nothing-at-all-wrong interspersed with the Breathing Thing and The Breathing Thing always had something somehow stressful to blame as a trigger. Right now, though, the only thing I can blame is the English Muffin with ginger preserves, and for the life of me, I can't see the stress in that.

Or maybe my subconsious is thinking about the TV room that needs more stuff pulled out so we can continue with the carpet ripping in preparation for the Great Tiling. But I was messing with that all weekend and there was no breathing issues. There should have been, too, because the dust and Eue de Cat Piss was mighty in that room as the carpet came up. Those kitties of ours, they are great fountains of urine. I might keep some of the carpet to line litter boxes -- you know, so they feel homey.

This room is hot. Maybe that's it.

No clue. However, it is now bothering me and I'm going to lie down until it goes away.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I don't want one for myself

...but I do want to attend the time trials when they start racing.

Have you seen a Zorb Ball yet?

Neither have I, but a random link click led me to this...

Where all your dreams are realized (as long as you dream of rolling down a hill inside a giant plastic ball).

Where extreme sports are developed for everybody -not just those crazy kids who want to ride tornados.

Where the chance to mutilate yourself and die a terrible death while screaming your lungs out is replaced by the chance to partake in a totally bizarre and fun experience protected by a MASSIVE cushion of air with no chance of mutilation or death while screaming your lungs out.

Where mad scientists have combined ancient technology with today's force of gravity to re-popularize the forgotten wheel.

and then I just had to know what the hell was going on. I don't want to be in one. I just want to watch the other idiots bouncing around. Through my camera.

I bet someone vomits in their humanster ball.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Mummy and Me

Ok, today's doctor visit has resulted in -- as doctor visits will -- more doctor visits. Today they again made a recording of my heart rhythm, took my blood pressure a lot, and asked all the questions I've been asked in the last two weeks. I have my answer down to patter. That's one of the things I hate much about doing this.

But just one. There are so many more.

Also, my blood pressure actually drops a little when I stand up, which is a condition for which there is a Latinate phrase I can't possibly remember but could probably learn to pronounce given a week or so. For this I must remain hydrated and be careful standing up. It doesn't mean anything in or of itself as far as anyone would tell me. Ah, yes, the wonders of medical discovery.

I go back in September for the stress test (and here I thought that was TODAY, but NO, no, today was a visit to talk about doing a stress test and possibly blood work and maybe something else, I don't know.) and a day wearing a thing refered to only as "the harness" but which television watching indicates is actually a medical apparatus worn to measure one's breathing and heart action over a 24 hour period. Doesn't sound nearly as interesting as other possible interpretations, but, hey, it was family hour TV.

And my week as the human scratching post continues. My much beloved Ben has been going though his own bout of anxiety. He has times when he's so hyper aware that, while walking across the bed he's lept suddenly in the air, certain that the pillows moved to attack him. Well, yesterday he was crawling under my desk for the 25th time or so, trying to annoy me. I picked him up to relocate him. He, wiggly as usual, kicked something off the desk and it made the noise something falling off a desk onto carpet makes, which is apparently identical to the noise a cat chomping snordwangler makes just before attacking. Ben became a whirlwind of claws and little puffs of white fur (pretty remarkable for a cat who's mostly black). All this visited my right hand and wrist.

The result? A series of slashes that look like a real half-assed suicide attempt, cuts in my fingers, and one rather worrisome puncture on the back of my hand (he's very thorough). That's the THIRD close encounter this week.

Oh, and there was much toenail clipping that night. Even with my arm wrapped to look like The Mummy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Little Woes

So anyway, I'm hanging at the doctor's office on Tuesday so they can, you know, like, take pictures of my heart and shit? Figure out this shortness of breath thing? Run some tests?

I'm fine.

D'uh.

I've got an appointment with a cardiologist on Friday for the stress test thing (should I wear gym shorts and a sports bra?). "Ruling out", they call it. To me, it looks like the "anxiety" diagnosis is sort of a given. And I shouldn't be ashamed of my mental illness, right? Millions of Americans -- hell, millions of people around the world -- suffer from depression and anxiety. Societies have stigmatized it unreasonably. It's either villanized or minimalized..."it's all in your head" translates to "you're making this up for the attention, aren't you, you infantile, pitiful creature, you."

Feh.

The new laptop arrived. It was not per order. Wrong screen, and a wonky, anti-typist keyboard that I pretty much hated as soon as I touched it. It is now back in its box, awaiting return. Feh. The laptop I actually ordered is somewhere else.

Every cat in this house has been sharpening its nails. On me. I've a new collection of pokes, scrapes, and scratches.

Other than that, my life is pretty good. How about you?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sheepily Doing a Meme

Partly because LazyGal tagged me, and mostly because it's actually an interesting meme. I always was the sort to listen to the librarian...

1. One book that changed your life?

Good gravy, sometimes I think every book I read changes my life somehow. But just one...Narrative Design by Madison Smartt Bell. Altered entirely how I look at fiction.

2. One book you have read more than once?

Again, what's with this "one" thing? I've got LOTS of books I've read more than once. Some I've read more than 5 times. Just one...The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

One again? I can't even take a plane trip with only one book. But...The Annotated Sherlock Holmes would keep me busy (ok, technically it's two books, but it's a BOX SET.)

4. One book that made you laugh?

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris


5. One book that made you cry?

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell


6. One book you wish had been written?

There are a lot of silly series books and oddball books I wish had sequels. But mostly I wish Jane Austen had finished "Sanditon".


7. One book you wish had never been written?

Light in August by William Faulkner. The Beginning Place by Ursula Le Guin (in fact, she's done a few in recent years I wish she hadn't, but that one met my "Toss at the Wall" test..) Several Laurel K. Hamilton books also fit.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Just finished Petty Pewter Gods by Glen Cook, part of the "Garrett" series. Crunchy popcorn summer reading. Philip Marlow with ogres and elves.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

On my list to read is Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. Got a few pages in, just haven't gotten back to it.

10. Now tag five people:

OK....Brendan, Scott, Canuck Girl, Jammies, and Fabulous Michael. I'd tag Severina, but she'd hurt me.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Keep Breathing

In...out...in...out

This is my mantra.

Why should I need to remind myself of this simple thing (with the Kate Bush song echoing in my head?) Because I'm having trouble with it.

Now, I've had a long history of such episodes. When younger, it was usually related to my hypoglycemia and fast dropping bloodsugar, but these days that particular problem seems resolved (or potentially replaced by insulin resistance). In short, I get breathless, feeling like I can't draw in a sufficiently deep breath to sooth my lungs. Sometimes I realize I'm holding my breath. I don't have to be doing anything for it to start -- in fact, brisk exersice doesn't cause it that I've noticed. Sometimes I get very dizzy. On a few rare occasions, my heart has started palpitating and once I very nearly blacked out. This has been going on since about the beginning of the year. I didn't pay it much attention, as there always seems something minor or imaginary or unfixable or half-assed diagnosable going on with me.

I don't have a great relationship with the medical profession.

But Tuesday afternoon, while I was filing paperwork and sitting on the floor, perfectly happy in my house, it started. And it kept on. And on. Every time I stood, I was dizzy. By evening, I was quite tired of the whole thing, and The Husband was rounding on me for not having called to go to the doctor after the last time this happened (when we were in San Diego). So, I agreed I'd go in the morning. I took my blood pressure with our home monitor and it was pretty high. That was unnerving. I couldn't sleep for wondering if the problems of my parents were coming to me now.

I did wake up the next morning and I was still feeling gaspy. Only occasionally could I get a good breath that relieved the feeling of pressure. I called to get an appointment, but the office is not CLOSED on Wednesdays. Lovely. It was almost 9 am, and I was dizzy enough that I didn't feel I could drive, so I called The Husband home from work. We went to the walk in clinic -- it would be a few hours. I should go to the emergency room (where I could wait a few hours. I've been there, while BLEEDING COPIOUSLY. I've been there where I was unable to stand up from pain. If you can walk in, you can fucking wait. I have no faith in emergency rooms.) So we called the Urgent Care clinic to see what the wait was (I can wait at home). They were clear so there we went.

Tests and tests and x-rays and I'm dizzy and I can't breathe well and I'm tingly in my hands and feet and face and...nothing's wrong. Nothing. Bloodpressure is fine. Respiration, fine. No sign of anything.

Doctor's opinion -- I'm having an anxiety attack.

A WHAT?

A Panic Attack.

Wait, wait...isn't there supposed to be PANIC involved in that? I'm not particularly panicky. Hell, the only thing I'm disturbed about is that I don't know why I can't breathe, and since there's no heart attack, no stroke, no anything they can see, at least it isn't life threatening, so I can dismiss that, too. But isn't a panic attack supposed to be...more exiting? Tunnel vision, manic fear, uncontrollable emotions? I got none of that going. I just can't breathe very well.

It's still going on today. Alcohol seems to help a little -- at least, a nightcap helped me sleep last night (it was one shot of chocolate vodka above a glass of milk, ok? A BIG glass of milk.) So, I'm not opposed to drinking myself to calmness. Hey, if it helps, it helps. Got tests lined up for next week so they can tell me 1) lose weight 2) watch the cholesterol 3) get some exercise 4) otherwise you're fine, we don't know why you have this problem. Come see us next year.

The same as every OTHER time.

Fuck it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

And Again

I've hemmed and hawed around this whole idea of going for my Master's in Fine Arts: Creative Writing for a couple of years now. I'm over it. I'm going to do it. Oh, it's just as daunting a thought as ever, and I still feel overwhelmed and brain locked with I start looking at the information, but, damn it all, I'm gonna do it anyway.

Of course, my best friend in the whole world, Twinkie, is currently home with her new Cupcake (also known as The Most Perfect Baby Ever) and she's going a little stir crazy, which means in between burping and feeding, she's willing to help me out. She's already done the low residency MFA route, so she knows all about it. She's offered hand holding and ass kicking.

Now there's just the application part. I've been cruising the Interwebinet, pulling information from where ever I can find it. So far, I've only seen about 6 schools with such programs, and I know there are more (where did that directory I bought run to?) Last year when I started doing this, I got all weirded out with the programs and such. This year, I'm just applying across the board, and I'll wait until I get some acceptances before I start being picky. Seems that's how they told me to do it a million years ago when my highschool counselor thought I was Big College material (back before the idea of going to a big collage vanished) -- you apply everywhere and then worry about where you'll go. The Husband has assured me that when I pick a program, we will find the money to pay for it. We've just rearranged a load of debt and cut down a lot of it, so we aren't so bad off (as long as no one loses any jobs around here).

So, if any of you smart folks have some ideas or advice, lemme know.

In other news, my new laptop should be showing up by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. Bastet, the current laptop, is still limping along as steadily as possible, with one mini-crisis after another arising and abating (this week, installing McAfee so I'd have some working yet non-annoying protection prevented my computer from booting. At All. Memory problems. Joy.) I'm kinda jazzed for the new machine, although I have no current plans for offloading this one as yet. If someone needs a 5 year old Inspiron 8200 laptop with a slightly funky "B" key, as much ram as can be crammed in, and assorted add ons (including the cutest little portable color printer that still works great, but cannot be used with the new computer), lemme know. We'll work out something.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Paris Hilton Says She's Celibate

to British GQ Magazine.

Things I could say

"Oh thanks be!"

"You need duct tape to keep those legs closed, girl?"

"Doing it with girls still counts as sex."

"Did someone look that word up for her?"

"Someone found out about that infection, didn't they?"

"Why is this top line news? Is the stock market going to drop? Will the war in Iraq cease because the insurgency leadership are crushed they have no chance with her now? Will Hezbollah now turn their efforts to rocket assaults on her thighs while Israel announces a national week of mourning? Will Prezzie Shrub threaten suicide because his blonde won't put out? WHY IS THIS NEWSWORTHY?"

Update: Best thing about blogs? When you write something and go away and later think of all the things you SHOULD have said, you can go back and SAY them!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

10 reasons I have Pets

Because there's this Irishman in doubt...

1. Pets are endlessly interesting. Hardly a day goes by that they don't do something either confounding, confusing, frightening, flabbergasting, utterly adorable, incredibly endearing, or indescribably loving. Sometimes they can accomplish this all at once and it usually involves the formal presentation of a Dead Thing.

2. Pets provide unconditional love, especially when you are reading a book, it's raining outside and she REALLY HAS TO GO, any hour you are sleeping, almost anytime you are eating, whenever you are doing something involving a large number of very tiny pieces, or you are wrapping gifts. OK, so it's not on YOUR personal schedule. It's still LOVE.

3. Pets give you a from quarter to a half point toward being human when talking to People with Children. People with Children love their children, and hate the Undchilded for not sacrificing their lives, luxuries, hopes, dreams, and financial and mental stability on the alter of Childrearing. If they know you have pets, they know you have cleaned up poop, stayed up all night worrying about that cough, and been vomited on. Tthey won't immediately kill you from misdirected frustration. The more pets you have, the closer you are to being human. Larger pets count as larger point amounts. Goldfish barely count and ants don't count at all, so stop it.

4. Pets offer you chances for education in areas you'd never before considered, such as grooming, yard maintenance, carpet cleaning, assorted home repair, odor elimination, Creating the Perfect Litter Box, Identifying Half-Chewed Things In the Dark With Your Toes, and Post Digestion Detection.

5. Pets encourage you to improve your communication skills, since they don't understand most of what you say and certain of them couldn't really care anyway...which is very much like talking to people. However, you can curse, yell, talk babytalk, or sing to your pets and they will never tell anyone nor offer commentary of any kind.

6. Pets never offer critique on your weight, your manner of dress, your choice of music, television or movies, the length of your hair or toenails, how often you shower, your job, your hobbies, or how much garlic and onions you eat.

7. At least once a week, your Pet will do something (unconsiously or on purpose) so outrageously funny that you will laugh until you can't breath anymore. You might have to clean something up afterwards, but you will be weak from laughter and need some exercise by then. The more pets you have, the more opportunities you have for this kind of experience. Also, they won't mind too much that you laughed.

8. The Average Pet has a very short memory. They won't remember you were an asshole yesterday, that you forgot their birthday, that you cry over certain TV commercials, that you drink out of the container, or that you occasionally lie. They won't tell anyone your masturbatory habits, your middle name, or where your porn is stashed. They will never reveal what you said about your boss, your mother, your mother in law, or that jerk who lives next door. They are the perfect confidants.

9. Pets are never too busy to listen to you, to go for a walk, or to share a meal. They always like to sleep in and can usually be persuaded to share the blankets. They are happy to see you, even if they are very good at hiding it. They think you are the most interesting, wonderful, fabulous, glorious creature on the face of the earth (in the case of cats, next to themselves). To own a dog is to be nigh unto a god. To be with a cat is to share a comfy chair with a god. There's not much to be said for goldfish.

10. Pets will not break your heart as long as they live. Ever.