Sunday, November 30, 2003

Let's Talk About Work, Baby


I think it's been long enough since I last bitched about work, which is probably fortunate for everyone because I'm about to launch into a full-scale rant. November at work has sucked on pretty much every level possible. We have been increasingly busy, which means that everyone has been busting extra ass.

While working more hours might benefit the people who actually receive a decent hourly wage, the servers have been making some of the shittiest tips of the year. So basically we've been working harder and longer for less money. Tell me that doesn't suck ass.

What I don't understand is that this is supposed to be our money season, the holidays. People are out shopping and thinking of family and friends, and they usually are way more generous with their tips. The difference between the holidays and the rest of the year is that during the holidays, usually money flows so well that servers are happy to give away shifts; the rest of the year, people are desperate to pick up whatever they can. I know that the lack of good tips this month isn't just me, since people are still just as desperate.

I understand that holidays can be tight for people, what with the gifts and all of that, but what about us? I think part of the problem is that people just do not seem to understand that we don't make a normal hourly wage -- we make $2.13 an hour. Yeah, we make less than half of the federal minimum wage, and we literally depend on people's tips to live. So when I work really hard, as I have been, and then continually get less-than-mediocre tips, it's extremely discouraging.

I have even been extra nice and helpful in a desperate hope that it will help my tips, but honestly it seems to make no difference whatsoever how I act. I get some of my worst tips when I'm at my serving best, and I get some of the best when I'm a cold bitch. I try to figure this out in my head, because it makes no sense to me; why do people tip me more when I'm mean to them? And to me, tip = appreciation, so I want to know why people appreciate bitchy service more.

When I go out to a restaurant, I want a server who is warm, friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. There is no way I'd want a server like me when I'm in bitter mode. If it weren't for the fact that I know it's bad service, I'd probably just be a bitch all the time. I mean, Jesus Christ.

And then there are the people who are just so super nice and you get along well with them, they have a great time with you, they may even go so far as to compliment you on the service, and then they leave something along the lines of 10%. I mean, WTF? Actually, this is what I call 'the verbal tip'. If they tell you you were a great server or anything like that, you know immediately you're doomed. I have noticed, too, that the verbal tip is apparently taken to be an invisible 5%, because when you get the actual tip, it's usually only 10%.

What is wrong with people??

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Dead Deer, Freaks, and Thanksgiving


Kind of ironic that I was just writing up a post the other night about my freakish neighbors, because you will not believe what is hanging from the tree outside my kitchen window.

A dead deer.

Yes, a dead deer. Dozer, being the typical male West Virginian that he is, enjoys hunting. But at least never before had he actually brought back a deer carcass and hung it outside my window.

You have to understand that as a Wiccan, I am against killing things. I don't really believe in war, I don't believe in hunting, I don't believe in killing insects. I believe that every living thing, from plant to human being, is holy, and that it's wrong to kill unnecessarily.

Now, if you're lost in the woods and starving, by all means, kill a deer and feed yourself. But someone living in normal life, who isn't starving and simply hunts for the mere pleasure of killing? That is so beyond wrong to me.

And then, to bring home this poor deer and make me have to deal with seeing it and feeling bad that it lost its life.. it's gross and it makes me angry. Not to mention they decided to do all their hacking away and skinning and cleaning and all of that right outside my window.

When I saw them lift the deer from the truck, I just went, Oh no... poor thing and turned away quickly because I couldn't bear to see it. I honestly had half a mind to go out there and do a blessing for the deer, to thank it for living and for giving its life to feed the people who had killed it. However, I'm not sure the good Christians around here would understand much of that. Besides, they never left the deer alone, and since I heard them hacking away, it's probably too late.

So there's that, and the fact that I'm spending Thanksgiving alone this year. But on the bright side, I haven't seen the freakazoid since the day we first talked, and I'm hoping that she decided she didn't want to move in after all. And due to very strange turpentine-like fumes drifting from downstairs, I had a headache yesterday and was petrified that my gas heater was leaking.

I called my landlord to come over and check, just to be certain, and there was no leak. I've always had trouble with getting the heater to light; it's kind of old and you could stand there pressing the ignitor for 30 minutes before it actually caught the pilot.. and then the pilot wouldn't stay on when you turned the knob, so you'd have to do it all over again and try to turn it just the right way so the pilot would stay lit and the heater flame would catch.

Well, he couldn't get it lit either, after he'd turned it off and checked for a leak. So he kept it off and told me he'd come back today with a certain part he thought wasn't working. Well, I lucked out (maybe cause he really likes me) and got a brand-new heater!

It's way, way more modern-looking, and it is so beyond easy to light. It's apparently got an electric pilot or something, to where it only takes one push of the ignitor and *click*, it's lit. Freaking awesome, I say.

And lastly, I just booked tickets for my Christmas/New Years trip to Italy to visit my mom, sister, and everyone. And get this.. Usually I don't check the internet for plane fares because as long and as hard as I have searched, I have always gotten better fares through a travel agent. I mean, majorly better fares, by $300 or so, so mucking about online has always been a pain in the ass and a waste of time.

Well, the travel agent quoted me $1000 for this ticket, and I knew my mom was not going to be happy about that. So I logged onto Travelocity today and searched for some fares and -- you're not going to believe this -- I'm flying to Italy and back for $443.95. $443.95! Round-trip! Utter craziness, I tell you, but I know my mom will be quite pleased. So yeah, if anyone feels like taking a holiday trip to Italy for cheap, there you go.

Anyhow, off I go.. and happy T-day to you all. Eat some stuffing and turkey for me.. I'll be having shepherd's pie and magic brownies.

:D

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Try Me

I'm kind of weird about advocating products I really like. If I find something awesome, I want to tell everyone, so they might be able to enjoy it, too. Anyhow, I took a major chance tonight while grocery shopping. I've been kind of craving popcorn, so I looked over the choices. The last time, I noticed something called Orville Redenbacher Cinnabon popcorn. I was intrigued by the idea of cinnamon popcorn, but the cinnamon roll frosting kind of put me off. I mean, cinnamon popcorn -- and with a frosting-- that's just kind of weird and freakish.

Well, I took a chance and tried it and I can't even begin to tell you how fabulous it is. I'd been kind of afraid of the whole flavored popcorn thing ever since I tried Act II's caramel corn variety. The thought of the so-called "caramel" alone makes me want to hurl. The caramel popcorn was just disgusting, and I don't even know why they continue to make it; I can't imagine anyone actually likes such a shoddily designed product.

So, because I'm bored and have too much time on my hands, I'm going to do a product review on these two popcorns.


Type: Act II Caramel Corn microwave popcorn.

Packaging: You get three bags of popcorn and three foil pouches of "caramel". The bags of popcorn are designed differently from all other microwave brands; instead of lying the bag flat, the butter and kernels are at the bottom of the bag and it's stood upright. The pouches are made of impenetrable steel and must be attacked with sharp objects to get the caramel out. Your hands will get sticky, there is no avoiding it.

Popcorn Flavor: "Caramel", but in truth, the popped corn itself tastes nothing but salty and burned.

Topping: A dark brown brick they call caramel, but which looks and tastes like no caramel I've ever eaten. It's not gooey like caramel, and not the lovely chestnut color a person might usually be accustomed to. It's thick, heavy, grainy, and has a sickly-sweet and vaguely caramel odor to it.

Convenience/Ease of Use: Nonexistent. The way the bag is designed, in my opinion, contributes to the fact that no matter how short of a time you cook the popcorn, it always burns. Add this to the fact that you're supposed to microwave the popcorn, toss in the caramel brick, and microwave it again for two minutes, only further burning the already-burnt popcorn. Then, I found it pretty much impossible to actually melt the caramel, no matter what method I tried. I even put the foil pouch in boiling water, and what I got was soft brown goo and a lot of oil. Really fucking nasty.

Taste: Sickeningly sweet, with a mellow burned flavor. And that's the pieces that actually have caramel on them; since the caramel never totally melts, it's impossible to actually coat the popcorn with it. You end up with big clumps of brown goo with some popcorn pieces stuck to it. I'm not sure how to describe the taste of the so-called caramel; it doesn't taste like real caramel, it's thicker, grainier and altogether way more disgusting.

Other Product Flaws: On top of the popcorn burning, there was constantly an unacceptable amount of unpopped kernels remaining. For one, if half the popcorn can't pop before it burns, there's obviously something wrong with the design, no? Secondly, watch your teeth.. I mean, you're supposed to shake everything in the bag up with the caramel -- which means a little surprise or two when you crack your teeth stumbling upon them.

Conclusion: Whoever came up with this entire product concept needs to be dragged out into the street and publicly flogged.




Type: Orville Redenbacher's Cinnabon microwave popcorn.

Packaging: 4 bags of popcorn with a foil packet of frosting bundled in each.

Popcorn Flavor: Cinnamon butter. I have to say I was a bit stunned, but it was absolutely delightful. Plenty of cinnamon flavor, plus the butter gives it a slight salty-sweet flavor combination that is just yummy.

Topping: "Sweet Pour Over Cinnabon Frosting". I will pay someone a quarter to bitchslap the person that came up with that name. Other than that, I have no complaints about the frosting. It's fairly liquidy and tastes like the generic cinnamon bun frosting you get everywhere. You get quite a bit of it to squirt all over everything, which is great, because the liquid seems to seep down and get the popcorn on the bottom, so you can get a fairly even coating without even having to shake the bag.

Convenience/Ease of Use: Yes, yes, yes. Everything about this product is convenient. I mean, leave it up to Orville to come up with the perfect popcorn product -- Act II just totally sucks monkey weiner in comparison. First of all, each bag of popcorn has its idiot-proof frosting pouch all bundled up and ready to go. Then, the bag is actually designed the correct way, so the popcorn popped perfectly and I had very few unpopped kernels. The bag itself is designed to be used as a bowl; you simply rip off the center section and voila! This is ideal for lazy persons like myself, who would hate to dirty a bowl when they could simply eat right out of the bag. Well, if I had a bowl, anyway. But at least your hands don't get all buttery and stuff when you reach in. And then the frosting pouches couldn't have been more simple; all you have to do is knead them before you pour them on, and they're designed with an easy-to-rip-off strip and a narrow opening so you can squirt it on in moderate amounts and thus eliminates the problem of shooting your wad all at once.

Taste: The popcorn alone is delicious. I absolutely love cinnamon, and I'm not a stranger to sweet popcorn; the French eat popcorn with sugar on it instead of salt, and I liked that a lot. However, even though I was a little wary of the whole frosting deal, especially after the disgusting caramel crap, the popcorn was about a million times better with the frosting on it. I don't know exactly why, maybe because it made the popcorn a bit more sweet. Or maybe because cinnamon rolls are always better with frosting on them. In any case, I was so amazed at the superiority of this product, how every detail and convenience was thought of and put together so well.

Conclusion: I know it sounds kind of weird, but trust me. It's really, really good. Major thumbs up.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Semi-Vacation


I am now officially on Thanksgiving vacation, at least until Thursday night. No school, no work.. I’m free to be lazy and bored, and maybe recuperate a little. Yesterday during my second round at work, I started feeling like I might be coming down with something yet again. I mean, this would pretty much make it the third week in a row that I have been sick and it’s getting a little old. I still have a cough from the last go-around, so I think my immune system will probably appreciate some rest.

It was suggested to me by Mikey during my makeover that I might benefit from a little color – i.e. I should visit a tanning bed – mostly to make the dark circles under my eyes less pronounced. I agreed that color would help, but I have always had issues with the whole tanning salon thing. First of all, being always tan is bad for you and totally increases your risk of skin cancer. My grandfather on my mom’s side died at a fairly early age of melanoma, so not only am I at definite risk, but I’m a bit more sharply aware of the reality of skin cancer.

Then, there’s something really vain to me about actually paying to go somewhere and get tan, no matter what the season. I mean, I really like being tan and all, but would never actually pay to do it.

What finally swayed me is me and my damn skin problems. I originally thought I had eczema, since it was just dry, itchy skin that I would occasionally scratch raw, but a girl at work with psoriasis is convinced it’s not eczema, but psoriasis instead. I could deal with having eczema, because it’s nowhere as ugly as psoriasis. I can’t afford to go to a dermatologist and find out for sure, but one remedy to clear up trouble spots is to tan. Apparently a B vitamin you can only get through the skin from the sun is transmitted also in the UV rays in a tanning booth, and this B vitamin helps the skin heal.

So today I went to a tanning booth for the first time. I was a total tanning virgin and had no idea what to do, or how long I should tan. I have the Scottish fair skin and rosy complexion of my grandfather and I tend to burn really easily. I once got a third-degree sunburn on my left shoulder after driving three hours in a tank top.

The girl and I decided on eight minutes, she filled me in on everything, and then showed me my bed and how to work it. It’s amazing how long eight minutes can be when you’re in practical sensory deprivation. I got out at seven minutes to check the time left; I was sure it had been at least eight, maybe ten, minutes.

Anyhow, eight minutes seems to be a good amount of time. I did get a little burned, but in some random places – the backs of my calves, my back – and what freaks me out a bit is that some of the tan patterns looks suspiciously like the tube lights in the tanning bed. Like I put my right elbow right up against the bed so the eczema-whatever patch there could get good exposure, and now I have a semi-diagonal sunburn stripe up my outside forearm.

So, like, I want to know how one is supposed to tan in a bed like that without getting stripes. Are you supposed to shift around in there, or what? Gimme some tanning tips.

Otherwise, my skin feels nice and warm, like I spent a good day outside. I just hope my mom doesn’t kill me when she finds out I’m tanning… she’s always been so on me about protecting my skin against the sun.

I take it back – I’m definitely sunburned. Ow. I’ll definitely have to invest in some sunscreen or something.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Please, God, Help Me


Since I have my PC up and running at home, but still no internet, I’ve been amusing myself with blogging at home and then saving the entries to disk for back-dating when I get to a computer.

I don't think I've talked much about my freakish neighbors, which is kind of amazing because I suffer daily at the hands of their weird and random ways. I should say first off that my landlord made a point to tell me, when I first moved in, that he did not want to be involved in any neighborly conflicts, and that if we had problems with each other, we needed to work them out amongst ourselves. I know that as a landlord, he should take care of problems, but he is a hard-headed little 80-year-old man, and I don't feel like arguing with him.

My next-door neighbor -- I have never bothered to learn his name -- is the King of Freaks at my apartment complex. He works very odd hours at Wal-Mart, sometimes graveyard, sometimes normal hours, and pretty much everything in between. He's got to be in his 40's, and he is not what I would call an attractive man. I personally think he's gross, but that's only because I know he is obsessed with porn and is a scary alcoholic, to boot.

A few days after I'd first moved in, it was something like 9pm and dark outside, when I heard someone come up my steps and knock on my door. My other neighbor had lent me his snow shovel to dig my car out of huge snow drifts and it had broken while I was using it. I'd left him a note saying I was sorry and that I would get him one to replace it (and hadn't, because Lowe's was sold out) and I was expecting him to come chat about it. So when I opened my door, I thought it was him at first, and I was friendly. Then I noticed the open beer can in his hand and the guy swaying a bit, and when I got a better look at his face in the dark (not thinking to just turn the porch light on), I realized I had some drunken stranger on my porch. This freaked me out.

It freaked me out even more when he said, "I was wonderin' if I could stop in for a bit."

I blinked and replied, "I'd actually rather if you didn't.."

I was afraid of some belligerent outburst, but he just said okay and turned around and walked off.

I have had to call the cops on this man twice. As I mentioned before, he keeps really odd hours, so it means sometimes he's up and in prime time when I need to be sleeping. He's fond of having buddies over, and they all sit around getting pissed and blasting the stereo. I don't care so much if he blasts it during the day or at normal times; if I'm up, I usually have music on and I can ignore it. But one night he'd been blasting the stereo since 1am, and when I went to bed at 3:30, the party was still going strong. This was not the first time he'd kept me awake with the stereo, and I was fed up. Particularly so when I laid in bed for an hour, unable to fall asleep at all due to the music next door. I know the guy is an alcoholic, and my 80-year-old landlord has told me to stay away from him, so I wasn't about to go over there at 4am to ask him to turn his music down. I got up and called the cops on him, which is a story in its own, but thankfully the stereo blasting has been mostly kept to decent hours.

Then, not long after, I happened to be coming from work and when I got out of my car, I heard the distinct sound of porn. At first, I was like, Uh.. that cannot be what I think it is.. but as I continued to listen, it was abundantly clear, amidst all the faked Uuungh!s and Oohh yeahs. I looked up to find the source of the sound and my next-door-neighbor's window was wide open. To make matters even worse, as I started to walk past his apartment, I immediately noticed that his front door, too, was wide open. I suddenly got the image of him sprawled out on his couch, probably facing the door, wacking off. It was too disgusting.

Then, the blasted porn, combined with the open window and door, became a regular feature of living here. I would be awakened in the morning to blasted porn, get ready for work with blasted porn, come home to blasted porn. It would go on for hours sometimes. And he almost always had both his windows and door totally open. At one point, I guess he began to realize wacking off with the door open and porn blaring might not be kosher, so whenever anyone pulled up in the parking lot, he'd click the video off. But as soon as it seemed the coast was clear, he'd click it back on, and just as loud. It seemed really wrong and gross, but I didn't know what to do about it. I mean, anyone walking by would be assaulted by porn.. and there are lots of little neighborhood kids running around.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't care about porn itself. If you want to watch porn, that's cool with me, and I admit I've watched it, myself. I just don't think I should have to be subjected to that all the fucking time. And the fact that he did it with his door and window open, that he could very well see me walk by whilst diggling his niggle.. that's just creepy and disgusting. I mean, close the freaking door, for god's sake!

Like with the first time I called the cops, I was too afraid to go talk to him myself, and it didn't seem like any of my other neighbors were particularly bothered; at least, no one ever asked the guy to knock it off. The cop actually knew him, so he didn't get angry or anything, and at least my life has been porn-free ever since.

I've been the only woman living in the building, and never is that more felt than when I run into Dozer. Yes, that is apparently his name. Dozer. He's got to be in his 40's, wears glasses, and is somewhat heavyset with a beerbelly. Again, not really what I consider an attractive man, though he has always been friendly to me. He looks just about as West Virginian as you can get, complete with red truck (with "Daddy's Baby" in red letters across the windshield), camoflage obsession, and a love of hunting. As far as I can tell, he lives with at least one other person, even though the apartment is only a small one-bedroom. I never could figure it out, what the living arrangement might look like inside; and during the summer, he even had his two kids living there with him.

The first time I met him, he came outside while I was attempting to dig my car out of the snow with a dustpan and asked me where my 'old man' was, and why he wasn't helping me. He then kept asking questions and talking to me until I was forced to tell him I was single. He then went on about how it was such a shame, a pretty face like mine, blah blah, and pretty much totally embarrassing me. I really wish I could have simply said, "Well, actually, I'm gay," but the rednecks around here generally don't cotton too well to us homos.

From then on, every single time I ran into him, it was "Hey, pretty lady" this and "Why, hello, beautiful" that, to where I hope he's not outside when I go to get into my car. Actually, he was gone for a while, at least a couple of months, and I was starting to kind of hope that it was a permanent move. You know, the less freaks I have to deal with, the better. But he just came back last month, he apparently was with his fiancee in Canada or something. But fortunately, I haven't been running into him much.

Then, the last of the other three units was Aaron, my landlord's grandson, just below me. Aaron was in his early 20's, not bad to look at, and also a very nice guy. He would occasionally do little favors for me, like bringing my trash can back from the curb before I had a chance, or mowing the area beside my porch. I liked that Aaron lived here, because he was one other normal person that I could count on.

But Aaron just moved out, which brings me great consternation, especially now because today I had the pleasure of meeting my new downstairs neighbor. She told me her name, but I forgot it, because once we were introduced, I was absolutely entranced by her utter and total freakishness. First of all, I worked a split today, and I had a couple of hours to just relax at home before I had to go back. I'd eaten lunch and was in the middle of a game of Starcraft when someone comes a-poundin' on my door.

When I answered it, she was on my doorstep, poking her nose around me to see into my apartment and looking very much like she wanted to be asked in. She was in her 40's or so and looked pretty grizzled. Not to mention she had like four teeth -- she kind of reminded me of those crazy bag ladies that sit next to you on the bus and then won't stop talking to you. I disliked her immediately and did not want to deal with getting her out once she came in. She asked me eighty billion questions, starting off with did I like living here, what's it like, what are the neighbors like, and then she started in on the personal questions. Am I married? No? Divorced or anything? 'Cause I'm divorced. Well, you must be seeing someone. No? Well, I can't believe that, someone as pretty as you.

And it just went on and on. Early on, she'd imposed on me, on my break, to help her move her fold-out bed inside, and she just would not shut up the entire time, she just kept babbling on and asking me a ton of questions. I did tell her about the roaches, and she fixated on that as something to worry over, whether she'd picked the right apartment, and she mentioned repeatedly that the landlord liked me, I suppose hoping I could sway him to get an exterminator to come out and spray. Though I did tell her that I've mentioned it a few times to him, and he just stubbornly refuses.

At one point, she bluntly asked me if I had a phone. I mean, on top of everything else, now this? I warily answered that I did and she then went on to not-so-subtly insinuate that she might like to use my phone for a few days until hers got installed. This woman just got more and more imposing and freakish as time passed.

I tried to get away politely, but she wouldn't have it. She kept talking and asking questions, and bending my ear while I stood there wanting to simply bolt. I finally started to get away and she stopped and asked me if she'd done anything to offend me. I told her no, but she continued on about it, and I again told her she hadn't offended me. I got back inside finally, sat back down and resumed my game. I had peace for about five minutes, when again I heard her climb my stairs and pound on my door.

I opened it and she said, "I'm sorry, I just.. Well, back when we were downstairs, what did you mean, when you were holding your nose?" she mimicked what I'd done, "Well, I was wondering if it was me or something, like, do you think I smell?" and then she lifted the lapel of her coat and sniffed her armpit. I stood there feeling like I'd stepped into the Twilight Zone.

The gesture she'd done to mimic my supposed holding my nose was exactly how I often scratch my nose. I have skin issues and I'm an itchy motherfucker, what can I say? I guess I can't even scratch my nose without offending someone. I mean, good god on a gravystick.

So anyway, I had to spend five more minutes of my time assuring her I hadn't meant that she smelled, and trying to get her to go away. Before I got away the first time, she'd said something to me about wanting to know the other neighbors because she wants friends, I told her that I just like to do my own thing and be left alone, knowing that was pretty blunt, but I wanted to make it clear that I just want people to let me be a hermit and leave me the fuck alone. I don't think that's too much to ask for, do you?

If my next-door neighbor is the King of Freaks, then my downstairs neighbor is their High Queen. She's not just a freak, she's a freakazoid.

I swear, people, you just wait until I get my mom's digital camera over Christmas. I'm going to take pictures of West Virginia, and you will all see that all the tales I tell you are the absolute truth. I mean, if Forrest Gump and Rush Limbaugh had a love child, it would be West Virginia.

One of the most ironically amusing things about Parkersburg is they actually have a sign up as you enter town that says "Parkersburg respects diversity." Every time I pass that sign, I go, "Ha!" Because people around here, in general, have no idea what diversity really means.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Party Like It's My Birthday


Sippin' Bacardi like it's my... Er. I'm a dork, but yeah, it is my birthday. The big ole 2-7, which I think means, officially, that I am just cresting the hill now, and soon enough I will be passing over it.

God, how did I get so old??? I see 30 coming up, and I'll tell you what, boy -- I do not feel 30.

I went out with Kit and Mikey last Saturday for my birthday. I didn't think I had that much to drink, but I ended up pretty fucked up anyhow. Kit left relatively early, with the 'friend' I was sort of set up with a week or whatever ago, but those of us who remained were all starving when the bar closed, so it was decided we'd go to Mountaineer Family Restaurant.

Now, I had never actually been to the Mountaineer, although I have heard all about it -- it's the diner people go to at like 3:00am. Jan had mentioned it to me, actually pretty fondly, but I had a really difficult time picturing her there. Well, not just picturing her there, but there and liking it, too.

The first thing you notice after you get out of your car is a certain greasy stench that permeates the air. When you go inside, you realize that the stench can and does get worse, then top that off with the restaurant (if you can call it that) being filled with some of the scariest, most unsavory types you can imagine -- and that is the Mountaineer.

I have been craving pancakes for months, but haven't felt like actually making them for myself, so I was really looking forward to having some along with a big glass of milk. We sat down and the service was so slow and crappy that the time I spent sitting in the booth breathing in the grease stench and getting eyeballed by a really big, scary biker-type woman across from us.. well, I started to get nauseous.

I went outside for some fresh air, but of course you can't escape the grease-laden air, not for a good few hundred yards or so away from the Mountaineer, so it wasn't much help. I went back inside and told Mikey and Aaron that the place was making me sick, and since our waitress was a total bitch, and we'd been sitting there for like 20-30 minutes, everyone decided to bail. Thank god, because I knew I was going to puke, and soon.

Me and alcohol, we don't really get along; especially now that I'm older, I definitely find that I cannot handle my alcohol nearly as well as I used to. There's a very fine line for me between nicely buzzed or drunk and plastered, and when the line gets crossed, it usually bodes really badly for me. It means that if I'm going to be sick, or if there's any chance whatsoever that I might be sick, I will be. Because once that line is crossed and I'm too fucked up for my own good, it only takes something like being inside with the heat cranked to push me to worshiping the porcelain god.

So yeah.. Mikey and Aaron rushed me out of there, and we drove all the way back to my house -- me with the window wide open and my head resting on the door and halfway outside. I knew I was going to puke but for some reason I decided I would hold it until I got home so I could at least be in my own bathroom.

Then I was supposed to work a split shift the next day -- ha! I barely made it to my morning shift; Mikey called me just after 11 -- thank god, because he woke my dumb ass up -- knowing that I was still in bed. Thankfully someone picked up my night shift, because I don't know if I could have made it. I was on the verge of hurling again, when I first walked into work. But it was kind of funny because everyone was teasing me and giving me shit about the whole Mountaineer escapade; even Bill, our GM who can be extremely pissy (especially when you're late), was teasing me and giving me shit when I came in 15 minutes late.

And then I do have some good news, finally! I got my motherboard combo kit and the RAM last Friday. Chris came over during my break from work, we smoked a bowl, and then I was so anxious to get my computer up, I attempted to install the motherboard myself. Well, the motherboard I got is a micro, so it's about a third smaller than my old one, leaving several screw holes empty because there isn't a screw riser beneath them. Chris helped me by screwing in some of the screws, pointing out where I needed to plug stuff in, yadda yadda.

But the computer would not turn on. I knew the power cable was fine, and I was almost positive the power supply was fine, too.. but plugged in and the switch in the back on, the power supply was making this really weird clicking noise, but that was all. The computer wouldn't turn on, no fans, nada. It was pretty freaky, especially that clicking noise. I figured I must have royally screwed up the installation, maybe broke the motherboard, or that I did break the video card (which I'd tried hard to wrest from its housing, bent pins doing so, and then realized it was screwed onto the case), or that it was some other fucking issue I had to deal with.

Well, thank god for Paul, he's my computer guru! He told me he'd take a look at it, so I went over there last night. He was just as stumped as I was, since everything was plugged in and the parts should have been getting power, but nothing we tried worked. We looked it up on the web, but found nothing conclusive that would explain the problem.

We were both getting to the limit of our ideas as to how to fix it, when Paul decided he would take all the cables and junk out, reseat some things, and go over putting everything together step-by-step. When he'd taken all the cables out, I looked into the case and noticed something odd; the motherboard looked like it was bent down in one corner, and I pointed it out to Paul. What had gotten me is that I didn't like seeing my motherboard bent like that, and then Paul asked me if the motherboard was touching metal.

It sure was -- Chris had screwed the motherboard into a screw hole that was not one of the riser variety, meaning he had grounded the motherboard. Paul and I quickly unscrewed the offending piece of metal, and sure enough, the fans all came on. Fucking A, I'm telling you.. something as simple and as dumb as a screw grounding the motherboard!

My computer had some other issues, such as a floppy drive failure message, and a corrupt driver or something that was causing it to restart during boot-up. I ran home to get my XP disk while Paul solved the floppy error. And voila, I now have a working PC at home again! Once I deal with all my car issues, maybe I can actually afford internet again...

The thing is that this new processor should be something like 1.4GHz - 1.5GHz, an upgrade from my 975mHz, yet the computer doesn't seem faster at all; in fact, if anything, it seems slower. So I don't know, maybe it needs some tweaking or something. But I am so totally, totally happy to have my good computer back, all my music, games, etc. Hurrah!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Nifty


I'm busy searching for monologues online, and I randomly stumbled across this thing called Gender Genie. You paste in an exerpt of text and it will predict, based on some algorithms, whether the author is male or female. I pasted in my last entry and it predicted correctly (that I'm female, duh), then I pasted in an entry from Alex's blog, and it again predicted correctly.

Pretty nifty!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Insert Witty Title Here


If anyone had any doubts as to what a loser and a dumbass I am, last Friday, I was pulled over yet again, due to my illegal car, and given another $300+ ticket. Fab. What kills me is that I was pulled over about three blocks from my house -- I was just pulling out of my street and there happened to be a cop right there, who apparently was out to bust me for something from the get-go.

So here I am, months after the first ticket, only now just able to finally pay the fucking thing off, and I get another one. My plan was to save up and pay off the ticket, then save up and pay to register/insure/inspect my car. So now I'm set back yet another $300 or so.

Of course I only have myself to blame, because I'm such an irresponsible dope, but you know. God damn it.

The ticket happened on a day where I was pretty much very happy and satisfied with life. Andrea and I had gotten together the night before, and she spent the night at my house -- shock of all shocks -- and because it was really good, I was feeling great. She left, Chris called me for a ride, I went to pick him up, and boom.

Grrrrr.

So then I got to thinking. I don't understand why every time something really good happens to me, something really bad also has to happen. Why can't I have good things happen, and be allowed to revel in the happiness afterward? It's rather frustrating.

My solution is that I'm not going to drive anymore, unless absolutely necessary -- and especially not in Vienna, where the cops are obviously so bored they're out looking to bust people for shit. I bought myself a bike for $70 at Wal-Mart, for transportation around Vienna, and am going to do the bus thang, to get to school.

Despite the fact that I think, at the heart of things, my bike is a piece of crap, at least it looks fairly cool. I went into Wal-Mart thinking I wanted a purple bike, and I got one. It's a nice-looking mountain bike with front shocks, purple and silver with light blue trim. I bought the chintziest lock because I didn't think I had enough money -- that, too, is purple. I'm so stylin', what can I say.

Then, my birthday is coming up, y'all. 6 days and counting, and even though I am kind of freaked out that I'll be 27, I'm happy about my birthday gifts. I had my PC diagnosed -- dead motherboard and dead RAM -- and thanks to my wonderful mom, I picked out the parts I wanted on eBay and they are on their way to me as we speak.

The upside of this is that I'm at least getting an upgrade in processor speed, from 975mHz to 1.4GHz, and probably an upgrade in all the various parts that come with the motherboard (CPU fan, etc.). I can't even begin to describe how utterly and totally happy I am that I'm finally going to get my good PC back -- all my music, good games, yadda yadda, back at my disposal. And timely, too, since I'm apparently going to be non-mobile for a while.

On top of the motherboard combo and RAM my mom bought for me, she sent me $100 in cash. I thought hard about what to spend it on, and I decided it was time for a new phone. I've been ogling a certain Vtech phone/answering machine for months, but could never justify blowing $40 on it, when my old phone and answering machine work just fine.

When I went to Wal-Mart, I couldn't find the phone I'd been eyeing, but instead, I noticed an even better, cooler phone for $54, and decided to get that, since it had all the features I wanted (2.4GHz, digital answering machine, caller ID), plus it has something called TeleZapper, which supposedly will cut down on those really, horridly annoying computer-dialed telemarketer calls.

After I bought that, I had $42 left over, and I wasn't sure what I would buy. I thought of buying my mom's Christmas present with it, but then it occurred to me that it might not be cool to buy someone a present with money they gave you as a present. So then the debate began, between new shoes and new bras.

I decided to get a couple of new bras, thinking that the $42 wouldn't quite cover it.. but Lane Bryant is having a sale on bras, where it's buy one, get one half off, so they were cheaper than I'd anticipated. I know it may seem silly to be excited about things like getting a new phone and getting new bras, but when you are po' like I am, it's the little things. I can't even remember the last time I had a new bra.. has to be like two years ago or something. Criminy.

So the main things I've been mulling over this past week have been Andrea and my new traffic ticket. Andrea is a long-time friend of Mikey, and I think she's really cool and fun to hang out with. And unlike some people, *cough*Angie*cough*, a person can hold a decent, interesting conversation with her. She's a goth chick, a bit taller than me, short, black hair, stunning blue eyes, very small frame and nice body. When I first met her, I thought she was hot, but Mikey told me she was straight, so I thought that was the end of that.

Well, it turns out she's not simply straight, but that she has some fairly strong bi tendencies. She also told me she thought I was hot, but I didn't think she meant she thought I was hot hot. It honestly was the first time I'd ever had a one-nighter with a woman, and it was probably the best unattached sex I've ever had. I knew she was leaving for New Mexico soon, to get away from Parkersburg (which I highly encourage of anyone who has grown up here) and go to school, so we both were aware there would have to be very limited attachment.

The weird thing is when I have sex with people outside of a relationship (and occasionally in the beginning of a relationship), I experience an odd feeling of detachment, like I'm not totally there, in the moment. I think this is why I'm so satisfied with the whole thing with Andrea; I felt very in the moment and the sex was good. I think it's a pity, though, that she never called me afterward -- I don't want to give the impression that I expected anything, although on Thurs. night, she expressed regret that she was leaving, now that she and I were getting down to it.

I think, though, that maybe she's freaked out by the whole thing. The night we were together, she expressed a desire to get together again before she left, and I told her when I'd be free over the weekend, but then never heard from her. Mikey hasn't talked to her, either, and agreed that he thought she was probably freaking out. But that's part of the reason I wanted to talk to her after she left -- to possibly assuage some of those feelings.

But ah well, I guess. Maybe she'll overcome it, maybe she'll want to talk.. or maybe not. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

And lastly, I finally found and got a hold of Adriel, my first girlfriend/first love, after about 5 years of lost contact. I've really regretted how that whole thing ended up, because she's always been one of my favorite people, and I've missed knowing her. The good news is that she is just as excited as I am, to be in contact again, and we've been happily emailing and trying to catch up.

Happy joy!

Monday, November 10, 2003

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!


I just posted this long-ass thing, and Blogger ate it.

I'm pissed off.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Boooooo!


I don't know what's been up with me lately, but once I get in front of a computer, I lose all desire to blog. I know I've been slacking in this area, but I've had all sorts of other things to keep me occupied. Although I have all sorts of things to say when I'm away from a computer, I kind of blank out when it comes time to post.

Kate is gone to Denver, and that's kind of sad because I know I'm going to miss hanging out with her. Before she left, she gave me this book on basic figure drawing -- she and I had been discussing art, and I'd showed her my sketch books. Some of my sketches are missing things like hands, feet, and heads, since I've never been good at drawing them. So Kate thoughtfully gave me exactly what I'd been wanting for years, some instruction on figure drawing.

I've been sketching quite a bit, playing around with proportions and shapes and such, and I'm really pleased to see an immense improvement. I sketched a wood elf the other day, though I'm not pleased with her face, I really like the rest of her. Today I started a sketch of another elf from a picture in a Computer Games magazine, and even though I just have the basic face done, I can tell you already it's about a million times better than any face I've drawn in the past.

I'm in the home stretch of fixing my PC. I got it diagnosed -- dead motherboard and dead RAM -- and am in a bidding war on eBay to buy an awesome motherboard combo for dirt cheap. I hope. I pray that no one outbids my max. I'm also paying off the lapsed cable bill, so maybe eventually I'll be able to actually have cable at home again. I would do the dialup thing, but I don't think my PC has a modem in it.. and I haven't felt like dealing with that, on top of everything else.

As for school, I dropped my history class, but I am doing very well in math and psych. Actually, I'm pretty grateful that the semester is nearly over with.. that means that I am actually moving forward toward my goals. And of course, I absolutely cannot wait to move out of Parkersburg to Morgantown. I'd go in a heartbeat, now, if I could.

So I've been incredibly broke the past couple of months, and really freaking out about all my bills, my traffic ticket looming over my head, fixing my PC, yadda yadda. It's sort of felt like I'm drowning in it all, and I prayed for some sort of financial miracle to help me get my head back above water.

My dad/step-dad in CA signed me up for some pyramid scheme his buddy got into, in hopes that some free money might come my way. So far, I haven't seen a cent from the scheme, but even though I know it's not very likely, I still have a small glimmer of hope that I might get some freebie check in the mail to help me out.

But actually, what happened instead is that I got a couple of letters from Crapplebee's, informing me that there were two checks I never picked up and that I could claim them if I wanted them. The total amount of both checks was almost $93 -- not any amount to sneeze at, and applied to the $100 I have put away for my ticket, that puts me at 2/3 of the total amount. That, my friends, is a true miracle.

The thing is, I have no idea where these mystery checks came from. After I quit Crapplebee's, I picked up my last check on the following payday. I remember going in for some reason, some time after quitting, and being surprised that there was a check for me. So where did these other two checks come from?

Not that I'm going to complain or anything.. I just can't figure out how I came to have the checks. But folks, sometimes when you ask for a small miracle, it happens.

Halloween was absolutely and totally super. Mikey threw on some random, clashing clothes -- his checked polyester golf pants, gay-ass red librarian glasses, and funky bucket hat were the highlights -- and went as a gay hobo.. I threw on my plaid skirt, pink-topped tube socks, chunky brown shoes, and a grey tank underneath one of my work shirts, put my hair into pigtails, and went as a schoolgirl. The only problem was there were about five other schoolgirls there besides me, and they either were hotter or had better costumes, so Mikey and I decided I'd be Mary Catherine Gallagher, instead.

I had a feeling that I'd be running into Mel, Angie's girlfriend, and at first that made me a bit anxious. But after she had bumped into me, literally, three or four times, without saying a word or even acknowledging me, I started to get amused, instead. I mean, if her idea of intimidation is following me around the bar and bumping into me, well, sheeeit. That's child's play.

Mikey'd told Andrea about Angie playing me like that, and when I sat down with her and told her about Mel following me around and bumping into me, she told me she was going to take care of it. This made me a bit nervous because I really hate that kind of conflict, where you don't know whether it's going to come down to blows or not. And I've always been more of a pacifist than anything else; the only time I've ever full-out fought anyone was after they (yes, they, as in two girls) jumped me and I had to defend myself.

So Andrea had me point out Mel to her, and went over to talk to her. She told Mel, "We have to talk. What is up with your girlfriend, all over my girlfriend, playing her like that?"

Mel was probably surprised to be confronted, much less finding herself with Andrea all worked up and in her face. Andrea has a pretty powerful energy to her, and Mel immediately started kissing her ass and apologizing. Then, Andrea said Mel really, really wanted to apologize to me, so the next thing I know, Andrea is leading Mel outside onto the patio. I was still really uneasy about a possible confrontation, but Andrea sat down next to me and announced that Mel wanted to apologize.

So Mel said she was sorry, and I was so surprised at the complete twist in events that I asked, "Why?"

I don't think Mel even knew what she was apologizing for, but she apologized anyway, and then the details of Angie's little drama came out. My feeling that I, and our kissing, was simply something juicy to pass on to Mel and piss her off was confirmed. And apparently I'm not the first, nor the only, girl Angie has screwed around with to get Mel worked up. Angie had made Mel out to be this horrible, possessive person, but I see what a liar Angie is, how fucked up, because it seems to me that Mel, even though she has stupidly been hanging on to this thing with Angie for three fucking years, is the more normal and honest of the two.

See, Angie'd told Mel I was giving her dinner and champagne (!), romancing her, and all this utter bullshit. For one, yeah, I did make dinner -- shepherd's pie, so romantic -- but not only did I feed Angie, I fed Chris and Katie when they stopped over. And champagne?? Whatever!

And I just knew the kissing was going to be twisted.. Angie, I swear to the God, the Goddess, on the Bible, cross my heart, whatever.. SHE kissed me first. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm generally a big chicken when it comes to girls, and I rarely ever make the first move. I also wasn't feeling really great about the whole thing; I'd had a very bad feeling about Angie since she began coming onto me, so I didn't want to encourage anything, when I wasn't sure how I felt.

To make a long story short, Mel started crying out on the patio with us. She's this macho-ass little dyke, and frankly I was a bit thrown off by the tears. We all watched in morbid fascination, sort of like watching a slow train wreck, not knowing how to react or what to say. But then Mel said that was it, she was done with Angie, and that when Angie arrived, she was going to break up with her.

Even though Angie wasn't supposed to be arriving for another half hour or so, all of a sudden, she was there.. and I was going, "Oh my god.. it's like the showdown at the O.K. Corral here." All of us on the patio knew what was coming, and Angie just walked right into it. Mel started ripping into her, asking her questions, all the while I'm sitting there somewhat paralyzed, completely disbelieving this was going down.

When Mel turned to me and asked me who kissed who first, I looked her straight in the eye and told her the truth, "I'm sorry, but no matter what she says, she kissed me first."

Everyone then turned to look at Angie, who said, "Well.. that's how I remember it..."

WEAK!

So yeah, they broke up.. the two of them in their separate corners, crying. However, the very next night, Mel was beyond drunk, and somehow they got back together. They were seen sucking face in the booth near the bar.

Certain things just make you shake your head because they couldn't be any stupider. But like I was telling Andrea, she and I were just part of that ongoing three-year cycle of drama, fucked up shit, and breakups; now they're back together, and the cycle is complete.

For now, anyway. Heh.