Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I just checked the sunrise/sunset times for Edinburgh, and tomorrow they get a whopping 6 hours and 58 minutes of daylight (8.42am-3.40pm), by midwinter it will be 5 minutes less than that. It's cloudy too, so it won't really feel like daylight until at least 9.30, and by 2.30 the sun will be so low in the sky it will already feel well into twilight. I remember days where it felt as though the sun had never risen, going to school in the dark, coming home in the dark.

My mental image of November in Edinburgh is walking down the Cowgate (a street in the Old Town) in the dark at 4 in the afternoon, hunched against the rain blowing around me and trying not to slip on the wet flagstones, or step on one that will tilt and cause a puddle underneath it to jet cold water up my ankles. Christmas shopping is always in the dark, the light provided by the advent calendar style panels lining Princes Street, the huge city Christmas tree, the shopfronts full of cashmere sweaters and sparkling things of various descriptions.

I don't know why, but I still miss my home town at this time of year, even though when asked what I remember most is being cold and wet, longing for a sunny day without the necessity for a thermal undershirt under my school uniform. In the winter, warmth came from the atmosphere of the city: the pre-Christmas bustle, the preparations for the huge street party on New Year's Eve, the ubiquitous bagpipers on the street corner, only with the addition of a Santa hat and a few variations of carols in their repertoire to keep them up to date with the season. The cold air felt good on my face with the rest of me bundled up, I walked fast to keep warm, winter forced a spring into my step.

Now I come to think of it, it's the walking I miss, winter or summer. It's easier to feel energetic when every day contains at least 20-30 minutes of brisk walking to get where you're going, especially when that walk isn't following 30-45 minutes sitting in traffic in your car. Sometimes I think fondly of lazing around the garden on a warm summer's day, but most often when I think of Edinburgh it's walking: up hill and down alley, from Old Town to New, beside vendors stalls and street performers in festival time, weaving in and out of laden shoppers in December. This time last year that's exactly what I was doing. Walking around Edinburgh, frequently arbitrarily. I even planned my schedule so that I would zig-zag across the centre of town horrendously inefficiently, just so I could walk across Waverly Bridge and North Bridge, go up Cockburn Street then down The Mound, circling around by a long route for the hell of it because all I had to do was wander about town all day and buy souvenirs for my friends.

I probably won't be there again until close to this time next year, I think that will be a record length of absence for me, though the prospect of it doesn't scare me the way it did a couple of years ago. I miss the city and the people there, I get to see my parents here, but I don't get to see my friends or the cats. The difference is that now I'm much more established here, San Diego feels a lot more like home, my home feels a lot more like home because I have Matt sharing it with me, and cats of our own to hog the bed and sprinkle cat litter on the bathroom rug. I have a job I enjoy, a couple of hole in the wall places where I love to go eat, I have favorite places to go...I'm starting to feel I have a place in the general scheme of things.

It's still a pity I can't walk between most place, it takes more work to be active here.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Dreaded Lurgie has caught me. Or, rather, I've caught it. The cold/flu that's been going around my work, and has already hit Matt, had until now passed me by. Until Last night that is. My throat started feeling oddly scratchy, and Matt's foot jiggling on the bed made me feel positively dizzy, even for a few minutes after he stopped jiggling.

This morning I woke up with a rasping gurgly windpipe, achey all over, but strangely not feverish, I've still got most of my mental capacity. I'm waiting for that to depart also. A few minutes ago I laughed at a joke made by a coworker, and the laugh turned into a raspy wheeze, I sounded like a dirty old man who's been smoking cigars for 40 years. Oh boy am I glad I'm not still a smoker, I'm certain I'd be a whole lot more sick already if I were.

Right now I'm feeling the urge to go home early and curl up with the cats, who will hopefully have figured out how to bring me soup without getting their mucky little paws in it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

RE: Handfasting

I have a lovely two-page list of things to consider for the ceremony, everything from mechanics of the ritual (who stands where, how we're going to cast the circle, the order in which to have the exchange of rings and binding of hands) right down to the color of the altar cloth, what goes on the altar (and where) and if we're wearing shoes or not. John also sent us three sample ceremonies, which is exactly what I needed, a bunch of random specifics to ponder, and a few examples of how other people have done it.

The nice thing was that none of his questions completely threw me, I knew what he was referring to and why it was important, and we already had answers for quite a few of them. Oddly enough we both know exactly what we're wearing, and have had many ideas for the material aspects of the ceremony, but not so many ideas on the substance of the wording. John made a very good point: we have complete control of what the ceremony says, which means we control the symbolism, and the form of bond it describes. We can skip the parts indicating that two people become joined into one big squishy entity in favor of emphasis on partnership and retained individuality. We will make the point that neither of us is being "given away" by anyone, but that we enter the circle already joined, as equals, and leave the circle having strengthened the bond.

One of the ceremonies I read over also gave me ideas for the wedding ceremony, which will be toned down on the pagan aspects, but still be very personalized. I'll get to that bit in a moment.

So far we have some basic points established. The handfasting cord will be white ribbon, embroidered by yours truly in a design we have yet to figure out. John will be the only one inside the circle with us, the audience will either be inside a larger, loose-cast circle, or none at all. There will be a broom-jumping at the end (too fun not to include it, and it's a Scottish tradition besides). We've got to decide on candles and colors for the altar, and find a chalice. There' is a lot to think about and do, but now we know what we're supposed to be deciding on, rather than "we've got lots to think about...but we don't know where to start".

The most important thing is that I bought a pair of silk slippers to wear, they greatly resemble shoes I've seen from the 16th and 17th century, only more foot-shaped. Gold silk with green and pink floral embroidery. I never thought I'd squee over something that fits that description.

RE: Wedding

As mentioned above, in one of the handfasting ceremonies I read I found something I definitely want to include in the ceremony involving the families (and less Pagan Claptrap [TM]).

It's an alternative to the traditional "giving away". Rather than walking me up the aisle and consenting to hand me over to Matt as one would a sack of potatoes (albeit a sack of potatoes in a dazzling white gown), this involves my father, and Matt's mother, representing the respective families. Giving blessing to our marriage and welcoming their child's partner into their own family. So my Dad gets to walk down the aisle with me, Marilyn gets to walk down the aisle with Matt, and instead of a handover of bride-as-property, we have a mutual welcome-to-the-family.

It sounds like my Dad's side of the family are up for the trek from Europe to California to be present, I love the idea of having a big party with my US and European family all present, I'd like to see a conversation between Aunt Pat and Aunt Julia, my two most outspoken aunties, the idea amuses me. Two women who have both influenced my development, and yet have never met. I hope Matt's family also surprises him by making more effort than he suspects they're willing to and all showing up.

RE: Stuff

Clearly, things are falling into place rather well, both ceremonies are beginning to take a more solid form. I'm getting a nice picture of both, and the differences between the two. I'm more sure that, for us, this is the right way around to do it, the slight separation of an "us" ceremony and a "them" ceremony.
And Now, We Get To Practice Normality

Whatever that is.

Even though we've lived together for six months, (and been in our new place a whole month) I don't think Matt and I have developed a true routine of living together. The only real routine seems to have been one of transition. Moving the furniture around, re-organizing, getting stuff in the orientation we want and completely failing to ever truly tidy up, him going to Japan, getting back, getting laid off...getting 60 days notice to quit...no point settling in further, getting cats, selling off extra furniture, re-organizing, moving (the move that never seemed to end), Matt starting new work, rearranging furniture, re-organizing, buying shelves, re-organizing, taking excess furniture up to LA, re-organizing.

It needs to stop.

We need to relax. Before we forget who we both are in the continued re-organizing and "improving", before we wear ourselves out further by unnecessary efforts to be superhuman streamlined and efficient beings.

Since mid-September we've both been afraid of losing forward momentum. If I stopped moving I might have been hit by the full force of how screwed we'd be if Matt didn't find new work, of how unfair it was that we had to leave our first home together after only 5 months, if I stopped moving I might not have been able to keep up being supportive, I might have turned into a selfish gibbering heap begging Matt for reasurrance that he wouldn't end up chronically unemployed, depressed and angry at the world.

If he stopped moving he might have stopped filling out online applications, going to job fairs, tweaking and polishing his resume, if he stopped moving he might have had the full force of the feeling of rejection hit him in the face, he might have started to wonder more and more at his own worth and abilities. If either of us stopped moving we might not have made it through the rough patch. It's the rule with rough terrain: don't stop moving, if you stop moving you lose traction and start to slide, to skid and get stuck in the mud.

The determined maintenence of momentum was good. It got us through, but now we're back on a smoother path momentum is not nearly so desperate an issue. We can hit cruise control, even take a little break and wander about looking at the scenery. Enjoy our new home and the deranged animals we share it with. Enjoy each other again, rather than "being supportive" through a difficult time.

Oddly enough the first thing I'm going to do to achieve improved relaxation is join a gym. Extraordinarily I've come to view exercise as rather a treat, since it serves no purpose other than to make me feel good. It's ultimately purely for me that I would climb on to a rowing machine, because I'm the one who benefits from the good quality sleep that follows exercise, and the increased energy levels that come from sticking with it. I surprise myself, it's not too long ago that it was a chore, something I was supposed to do if I wanted to be a virtuous bunny, karate helped fix that, then my work schedule made karate feel like a chore again.

My Christmas vacation time is on its way, hopefully before that I won't feel quite so in need of a holiday, then I'll be able to enjoy it more.

Monday, December 01, 2003

This time I shall attempt to post more than a sparse paragraph about the sleep deprivation torture the cats are trying to inflict upon us. Which is still periodically in effect, Talli brought me his toy carrot at some point last night, and then meowed from the bedroom windowsill to announce the arrival of dawn. It was a pretty spectacular view, so I don't blame him for wanting to share, a very bright scarlet morning sky to my sleepy eyes. I'm almost sorry our patio doesn't have an Eastern view too, every once in a while it's nice to watch the dawn.

*warning* Christmas Shopping Linkfest Approaching.

I spent $100 on my face last month. In true Californian me-me-me fashion I started my Christmas shopping by buying something for myself from Clinique [>]. It seems rather silly since I rarely wear makeup, but I got a different foundation, a fancy oil-control cream that is working wonders (no more daily oil slick on my forehead), and two gift sets: one containing a collection of eyeshadows, the other a set of makeup brushes with a travel case. I always love the little compact makeup palettes you can get, but I only really use eyeshadow, not blush or lip stuff, so they're not something I can justify getting, this one is practically custom-made for me, shades of brown: cream through golden brown ending in a coffee-ish almost black. And brushes! Soft brushes! In a bright red patent leather vanity case just big enough to hold a basic essentials kit of makeup. Hooray. It's shiny, and it makes me happy.

After breaking the seal on the Christmas spending thing, I proceeded to check off a few singificant people from the list on the day before Thanksgiving. Online shopping is a wonderful thing, I found onyx pillar holders for Mum at Illuminations [>] for 30% off the store price, and free shipping (yay for free shipping). A custom-made boutonniere that looks like a little sprig of flowers from Tradewind Tiaras [>] for Granny, and pewter candle cups (again from Illuminations) for Evie. Yesterday Matt and I went up to the Witch Creek Winery [>] in Julian and stocked up on port, and some wine. Dad's getting port again for Christmas, since it was a big hit last year. I hope nobody points out the slight illogic of presenting my Mother with chunky onyx Christmas presents when she's got to lug them home again, I did skip the decorative onyx fruit-bowl because of potential impracticality of transport.

The cats are still...cats. Marble is getting more noodlesome, spending most of the time scampering about the apartment looking like she just got a static shock on her rear. She seems a little less affectionate these days, more concerned with being off on her own little feline missions. But that could be due to her figuring out that the feather wand lives in the arm of the futon, she spends all her non-scampering time trying to figure out how to open the lid and get to her favourite toy. Well, when she's not sleeping curled up with her brother in the large cat bed I bought them, they've still got that bookend image to maintain after all. Gah! They're so cute and fuzzy, so silly and crafty at the same time, and so FUZZY...I can't keep from waffling about them. Be warned: I bet it's going to be even worse when I get around to having children.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Monday night's 2am routine was repeated again last night, without the sock this time. Evidently he just wanted some extra loving and an invite to sleep under the covers on MY side, maybe he thought Marble was getting special treatment or something. These cats are so adorable, in the superfuzzy way and the quirky noodle-brain way too.

They'd be a lot cuter if they let us sleep through the night on a regular basis.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

2am Fun During Sock-Hunting Season
I was woken up last night by the sounds of one of our ravenous and deadly beasties running about with a rolled-up sock gripped between his teeth. I am assuming this was after thoroughly killing said sock, through the method of picking it up and shaking his head about vigorously. Always the best way to kill a sock.

I suspect this was an attention getting ploy, since his sister was asleep under the covers somewhere near Matt's legs, and he had nobody to play with. After 1/2 an hour of noisy purring and mewing and chewing on my hand he finally settled down and let us all sleep again. But not until after he'd succeeded in getting Marble ejected from her hiding place by jumping up and down on her head through the blankets.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Pretty much any sort of planning or ceremony writing for the Handfasting has been put off until after our move. We've now moved, so I suppose it's time to start on the ceremony, I want a basic framework to start from, other than the trad Christian wedding we all pretty much know by heart. Otherwise it's just too daunting. Time to call in John, the officiant, for a bit of prodding us into action.

* * *

Matt told his family we're engaged, it had been put off to allow a decent interval between his sister's wedding and our announcement. Some members of his family seemed to think it might be held in Pennsylvania, and were shocked to hear it's going to be in San Diego, which would involve travel for them, possibly even by plane. If anyone actually whines about it I'll point out they're lucky it's not going to be in Scotland, which would require not only travel by plane but getting a passport as well. The idea of getting married in a castle somewhere in Scotland is still very appealing to me, but it's so impractical to arrange, we'll just have to make sure we stay in a castle hotel sometime when we visit.

My Mum tried to convince me that it would actually make more sense to go for LA over San Diego, since then everyone could stay at Granny's...I shot that down pointing out that the planning part would be made considerably more complex by doing it in a city other than where I live. We're fortunate that nobody in either family is going to make a real issue out of the location, it seems it's just par for the course that everybody is going to think it would be a splendid idea for us to be married on their doorstep rather than our own. I think that's the first stereotypical "wedding planning conversation" I've had so far.

I was concerned that my determination to abandon the modern tradition of a white gown would lead to some tutting and head-shaking. Fortunately for me nobody in my family gives a rat's ass if I choose to wear blue or green, or even burgundy, over white, which relieves me. My Granny was married in a tweed suit at a little chapel in LA, and my Aunt in a plaid skirt in a Courthouse, nobody's going to care if I don't have a trad wedding (at least in the sense of the level of formality). Hooray.

OK, so Matt's family will be somewhat nonplussed at the absence of a big white dress, but they will also be nonplussed by him wearing a kilt, and by the various accents of my family. That's not even counting my European cousins, that's just my Mother (transatlantic), Father (English), and Sister (German-influenced brit). So I'm not really worried about confusing or disappointing them, because I already know it'll be pretty darn unlike their image of a wedding.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Today we're grabbing the FINAL scraps from our old place. Yes it took us this long, the difference between moving just up the stairs and moving to an entirely different apartment. Last time I opnly had to pick up everything once, this time I had to load my car, then unload it all and haul it up two flights of stairs.

It's been a long slog, but we love our new place, we just need to find ways to make ourselves fit more comfortably in here, we need to streamline our possesions, store them efficiently I mean, we've already done the throwing-out part of streamlining.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Status Report:
All available boxes have been filled, I should have been stockpiling them from work for the past month, we've got much more stuff than boxes to put it in. My car is full to the roof, except for one spot in the trunk, a little smaller than a shoe-box. Matt's car is not full to the roof, but he has an insane volume of cargo space, there's still a lot of boxes in there. Work is going smoothly so far, helped along by my considerate boss not dropping 5 hours of work in my lap on moving day (considerate employers make life much simpler).

Back to the cell culture hood for me, then it's box-hauling time!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

The plan for the move is taking form. We can get the keys tomorrow any time after 2pm, I am also supposed to be picking up the U-Haul around 2pm tomorrow.

So. Tomorrow...I will bike to the med center, catch the shuttle to campus, work for a few hours, catch no later than the 12.30 shuttle back to hillcrest and then bike to the U-Haul place to collect my 14' monster. They double-booked the 10' truck, and originally tried to offer me the 17' as a replacement, fortunately I thought to ask if they had anything smaller. After picking up the truck, I will drop it at the old place, pick up my (already loaded) car and drive with Matt to hand over our rent check, get our keys and start filling the new place with our junk. I'll unload my car while Matt does a Boot Camp Inspection of the place and fills out the move-in inventory. He's really good at finding random little bits of damage to make sure we don't get screwed on our deposit.

Then it's back to load up the truck as much as possible, hopefully with everything, but failing that with essentials like the bed. The goal is to be able to move the cats Friday night, which means having the bed set up so they have something familiar to hide under when we lock them in the bedroom on Saturday so they don't get underfoot for the rest of the move.

Around 5 a friend is showing up to help with the loading/unloading of one lot of furniture in the truck. Saturday morning will be the second load of furniture, if needed, I have to return the truck within 24 hours, so we have until 1 or 2pm to make use of it.

I'm hoping very much we'll get the actual moving part done by the end of Saturday, so we can use Sunday to unpack, clean the old place, and recover.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The packing has begun, I took home every decent sized box that came into work yesterday containing shipments from various biotech supply companies. None of them biohazardous I hasten to add.

I'm having what seems to be the usual pre-move misconception that all of my belongings will be relatively simply and quickly stashed into conveniently categorized boxes, leaving no random detritus of odd-man-out items that doesn't fit (either physically or categorizationally) into the other boxes.

I know this is a misconception because it's happened every time I move. I start packing with the conviction that in no time I will have everything neatly and securely packed into appropriate boxes. With no leftovers. Then I keep stumbling across more and more stuff that must be packed and moved and it all has to get packaged up somehow. All of this ends up being unceremoniously crammed into whatever receptacle happens to be at hand, as long as that receptacle has handles.

There was the large IKEA bag that ended up containing the last-minute stuffing of: two silk cushions; a half-dead woolen sweater; a season of Sex And The City on VHS, still in it's plastic wrappings; a roll of ribbon; some pens and a couple of books. There is also the large cardboard box I still haven't unpacked entirely from moving in to this place. At one point it had candlestick holders, candles, a fire iron, tubes of decorative frosting...And a spurtle. A spurtle is a wooden spoon without the spoon part, it is used for stirring porridge. In other words: it's a stick. Only this stick has the shape of a thistle flower at one end, and a little tartan bow around it. Just in case you were in any doubt that it is an object of Scottish origin.

It is vitally important that I own a spurtle.

Important enough that it languished among the drying out tubes of frosting for four months before I thought to go find it and put it with the more frequently used kitchen tools.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Halloween has been survived, this year we had two parties to go to, in place of the big fat none of last year. We just had to stop back at home to re-apply our fake blood in between. We were Bonny & Clyde: vaguely 1920s clothes and bullet holes in our heads were all we needed.

It was unsettling seeing Matt with a pair of bloody bulletholes in his temples, he looked gory from all angles, I looked normal from one side, but when I turned the wound on my throat, and the one on my temple, became visible. It was kind of fun being the goriest pair of people present at one party. I think we got out-gored by the guy who came to the second party as one of the Reservoir Dogs, he was wearing a few more pints of fake blood than us.

Now it's time to start packing up our apartment, we're moving into the teeny weeny super cool place this weekend. Hopefully things will stay settled for a little longer after this move. I don't want to average 2-3 moves a year any more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

We are paranoid parents. I didn't realize until we got the cats home how worried both of us had been that the visit to the vet would result in their complete trauma, and possibly news of some terminal illness causing the sneezing fits. Or that after one trip to the vet they'd never trust us again.

The only thing that seemed to bother them was being trapped in individual cardboard boxes, unable to see each other or what was going on around them. They're curious enough that they don't think to be particularly scared, they just want to check everything out. Including all the cupboards in the Vet's office. I solved the cardboard box problem by buying a carrier big enough for both of them (only just), so that on the way home they could be together and check out the world as well.

They got inspected, and had a giant worming pill each shoved down their throats, and were sent away with the verdict of a case of the sniffles that will clear up on it's own. We were given antibiotics to give them just in case, also to prevent secondary infections, we get to capture them twice a day and squirt orangey medicine down their throats with a needle-less syringe. Again, something that seems to traumatize them for all three seconds. I wish I had such powers of recovery.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Day five of cat-ownership. They've learned they don't need to wake me up to ask permission to jump onto the bed, so we all four sleep peacefully together. Maybe we need to upgrade to a king-sized, just so there's room for me, Matt and two cats.

We've figured out that Talli just pretends to be standoffish, all you need to do is pick him up and put him in someone's lap and he turns into an interactive teddy bear, complete with purr and the happy trample dance. We've also figured out that Marble is the bubble-head of the pair: she lives entirely in the moment, easily distracted by shiny things and her own tail. They both love milk (my morning cereal was eaten in a besieged state this morning), and butter, and one of them even decided they wanted to sample the Parmesan garlic bread I'd foolishly failed to put away immediately.

Other items of note are: Talli's developed a sniffle, he's been sneezing comic little squeak sneezes; Marble gave us a little present of a hairpellet the size of my little finger, and she may have *ahem* worms. So they're going to the vet tomorrow, I'm glad I've already signed up for a healthcare plan for them that covers vet visits, so I know exactly where to take them and don't have to pay just to be told what's wrong with them.

Parenting...It's a blast. I love having them around, the sniffles and hairballs are just minor hiccups. Pardon the pun.

Speaking of parenting, my parents will be in LA on Wednesday, then down here for the night on Friday. Before then I have to try to make more inroads into organizing our things for the move, with the side effect of the apartment looking tidier for their visit.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Later on Wednesday I got a call from a woman at the Friends Of County Animal Shelters (FOCAS) office, asking me when we were moving, and if I could give her the number for our current manager too, just to make sure it's all legitimate. Other than that we could collect the "little buggers" as soon as we were ready. She also said she'd knock the adoption fee down to $75 a cat so it was $150 total. Needless to say I was very excited, apart from having to sort out permission for them to be in our current apartment, that could have put the kibosh on the whole thing.

I couldn't give her the number right away, as it was saved in my cell phone, and we were speaking on my cell. This fortunately gave me time to call Matt, get him to ask Red if he'd say it was ok, even though the previous owner didn't allow pets and the current owner seems only concerned with getting all of the tenants out asap...Red said ok, so I called and gave FOCAS his info.

Much calling back and forth on Wednesday. I gave the FOCAS volunteer at Pet Smart the number for Red, then Deborah from the FOCAS office called me a while later only to realize the number was sitting on her desk already. THEN the afternoon volunteer at the Pet Smart called to ask if I'd given anyone the number for my current landlord. They may not share information too well, but they're certainly thorough about following up on adoption prospects.

By the time I left work I was hoping to be able to pick up our beasties on my way home, but I was also wondering if anyone had been able to get through to Red, and if so, had they told the people at the Pet Smart so that they'd give me the cats?

On the way there I got a call from Deborah, the woman in the main office, just to let me know everything was a-ok, she gave me her cell phone number in case the people at the store weren't sure if I'd been cleared or not.

Many forms to fill out, in duplicate (one for each cat), a great long string of coupons from Pet Smart to get started with kitty supplies, a 30 minute shopping spree involving much internal debate over brands of kitty litter, which food dish is cuter, and if they really need a climbing scratching post...and I was ready to claim my two meowing cardboard boxes. The cardboard boxes which contuinued to meow most pathetically all the way home. Especially when I turned a corner.

I called Matt when I was nearly home so he could hear the complaining for himself. With all the whining going on I fully expected both of them to bolt under the futon and stay there for a few hours as soon as we opened their boxes. As it turned out, both of them started for the shelter of the futon, but after a foot or so got distracted by checking out their new surroundings. Then they proceeded to wander about with their tails in the air examining everything. Especially Marble, she very soon was sidling on everything, which is a way of claming things as her own. Inside a couple of hours their body language changed from inquisitive and a little suspicious to inquisitive and feeling well at home. About 3 hours after we opened the boxes Talli had jumped up into Matt's lap and done the circular trample dance, complete with loud purr and face-nuzzling. It was like he was saying thanks for bringing us home, I like it here.

They're both enjoying having room to zoom about and chase each other in, and they both like coming into the bedroom at night to meow pathetically until invited onto the bed. They need to learn to just jump up without being asked, I don't want to have to wake up to give permission every time one of them feels like sleeping on me! Funny beasties.

Marble is still very kitteny, when I left for work this morning she was busy attacking the edge of the random spare square of carpet we have in our hallway, she wasn't having much luck in getting under the carpet, but she was giving it hell nontheless. I'd almost forgotten about cats' fascination with rugs and edges of almost anything.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The ginger cats were huge and standoffish as it turns out. Not unfriendly, just not really caring if they're getting petted or not. They're the big living teddy-bear variety of cat, and the lack of curiousness was the main putoff for both Matt and myself. There was, however, another pair up for adoption who checked us out pretty well. A brother and sister pair, the boy cat kept giving Matt the eye, and the girl came by for attention in between her frequent naps. They're both friendly and playful, and seemed unfazed by being in a small room with strange people and a bunch of other cats. So we applied to adopt them. All they need is to get in touch with the manager for our new building and confirm that they allow pets. The one potential barrier is that it looks like the adoption fee may be $100 per cat, not $100 for the pair, which is what I was told on the phone. $200 is...just too much, even though they're very sweet.

It's odd that there isn't a slightly lower fee for adopting a bonded pair, they're harder to place. Fingers crossed we'll be able to bring home Scout and Radley soon, though they'll get new names if we end up adopting them!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I may be about to get myself in trouble. Not big serious trouble, more introducing mildly uneccesary turmoil to my life kind of trouble. Leaping with minimal looking. Leaping after extensive looking but not at the optimal time.

There is a pair of pale orange feline brothers at an adoption center in Point Loma and Matt and I are going to go meet them tonight. If we want them, we'll have to take them as soon as the adoption is processed, not in a month when we'll be moved in, they won't hold them for us, their spots are needed by other homeless cats.

I'm not sure if I want them to be adorable, and to make friends with them right away, or if I want them to be too big and a bit standoffish, and not so fabulous so we just decide to see who's up for adoption when we've already moved.

I guess it's up to the beasties, if they decide they like us we'll be powerless to resist.
I called and left a somewhat stilted message for the building manager, it's rather hard to figure out a polite and non-psycho-sounding way to say "please mister, can I have your kitten? He's awfully cute...", and I haven't heard back, not surprisingly. It was a long shot, but it didn't hurt to ask/offer. I'm now on the trail of a pair of ginger cats up for adoption through a San Diego animal shelter, but I suspect I'll be told they won't hold specific animals for the 3-4 weeks until we've moved, and that's also understandable, the rescues run on tight budgets. Holding two cats for me would mean two places that could be given to animals in need would remain filled for longer than necessary.

I think it's pretty apparent to all that I'm getting really into this cat-hunt thing. I haven't lived with pets for two years, and the three years before that it was only weekend visits and vacations with my parents and the two cats there. Now that I know I'm going to be able to have a cat (or maybe two), I want 'em immediately.

Of course, I'd also like to be already moved in, settled and organized in our new place. Without having to do the actual moving, settling and organizing myself. I want to locate a magic moving device that will also (as a convenient side-effect) transform myself and Matt into more organized and tidy people. We do ok, but we're both spoiled by having a great deal of floor space on which we can accumulate random heaps of papers and junk with no assigned home. This will not be the case in our new home. Heaps of junk also don't mix too well with cats, they find things to chew on (and choke on) and may even decide that pile of papers looks like a litter box one morning and pee on the paystubs and receipts for some variety from peeing on a pile of absorbent gravel.

This time next month we'll be in the process of moving. It seems I was only just talking about us moving in together in June, it was only four months ago. We'll be leaving our building almost exactly a year after I took up residence in the studio on the ground floor. In that year a lot has changed, things have gone better than I could have hoped, even with the upheaval of having to move again so soon.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Sweater weather! Hooray!

Today I want to get around to calling the manager of our new place to offer to adopt the third kitty he just inherited from a former tenant. Buster the gangly grey purr-pot. He may already be attached to him of course, but it's worth asking/offering.

The only other significant news is that I just narrowly avoided being stuck at work until 7ish, being told to begin a 6-hour treatment at noon...but it hasn't been pre-treated so I get to do it tomorrow morning and leave at a reasonable time. Again: Hooray!

Sunday, September 28, 2003

That threatening cloud I mentioned earlier, about our apartment being condo-fied, and us having to move again, well, that cloud burst a little over a week ago. We received 60 days notice to quit, or the option to buy our current apartment "starting at $320,000" It's a nice place, but there's no way in any version of reality it's worth 1/3 of a million. If it were a free-standing two bedroom house of the same size, with a bit of a yard...maybe, and then only because I live in San Diego and the world of real estate has gone collectively insane.

On Friday we found out that a notary public who lives in our building had gone to a lawyer and had a letter drafted to the new owner, pointing out his complete lack of legality in ousting us with 60 days' notice. Apparently we're supposed to get 90 days' notice of his intent to file for city approval of his conversion, then two more notices, the final one being 90 days' notice to quit (or buy). It all adds up to nearly 11 months worth of notice. We were given 60 days. Ooopsie, naughty new mister landlord evidently thought he could pull a fast one.

So mister corporate bigwig is going to have to backtrack and start again with the whole condo thing, but we're still leaving. I don't want to be providing this guy with a nice fat rental income while he plans to oust us all, and in the gap between being given notice and hearing we might not have to leave so soon after all we found a new place we love.

It's tiny compared to this apartment, but it's a tiny little 3rd floor penthouse with a private roof garden, hardwood floors, wood beamed ceilings, wrought iron decorations in the archway to the kitchen, mellow colors on the walls, a window in the bathroom...did I mention the private roof garden? It's rather important, because it's our new dining room, the indoor living space doesn't have a dining area.

Moving will be a pain in the ass, we'll have to learn to be a lot more neat and tidy in a smaller space, there's no dishwasher, and only one washer and one dryer for the while building, but it's one of those places where "charming, cute two bedroom" means that yes, it is ridiculously small, but it's got the personality to make up for it. Plus it allows kitties. KITTY! I've been missing having a pet more and more. Two years catless is quite enough thank you. Lori and Glen's beasts have made me realize how much nicer life is with a pleasant furball around.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Haitus. Maybe.

Every time I come here to write about what's going on I can't think where to start, or how to express how I feel about what's going on. I've been feeling somewhat in a rut, probably based on the plateau in my weightloss and fitness, and there's nothing drastically wrong that needs fixed. This is somewhat new to me. There's a lot of things that I do...but I'm not really sure why any more. They don't mean the same thing to me any more and I can't tell if I'm continuing out of habit, a sense of obligation, or a genuine wish to continue. This site is one of those things, karate is another, actually those are the main two. I know I enjoy karate, but it's no longer some sort of refuge for me, because I don't need a refuge any more. I need to come back to it knowing why I'm there, or it will continue to feel like something I'm supposed to keep doing for no real reason other than to just continue.

So I think I'm taking a haitus from blogging, I know I'm taking a haitus from karate, though I suspect the latter won't last very long. That handfasting log is probably coming down too, I don't have any significant issues that I need to work out in print regarding my marriage, so it's already degenerating into a list of sparkly objects I want to involve in the ceremony.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The world is coming to an end.

Starbucks is no longer agreeing with my innards. The last two times I've partaken I've ended up with some interesting efects in the lower gut region. Odd, since my morning espresso that I make myself doesn't disagree with me, nor does brewed coffee, but it seems I am not to have espresso based drinks during the day any more. Wagh! Oh well, I suppose it will save me some money.

I never did get to see the tiaras last weekend, I got about 30 minutes away from the studio and Matt called from San Jose to say his trans pacific flight had arrived early enough to allow him to get an earlier flight into San Diego...so could I pick him up around noon. OK sweetie, I might be a little late...I'm north of Anaheim right now but I'll get off at the next exit and head straight back to San Diego. A complete waste of half a tank of gas, but at least I knew what my "something's going to go wrong with this escapade" feeling had been about. It wasn't that I'd get stuck in La and miss picking him up, it was that I wouldn't get to make it to the studio in the first place. I didn't care at all, because it meant I got to see him 4 hours earlier than expected, it meant we got most of Saturday to catch up instead of just Saturday evening.

We're still catching up, making up for two weeks of not being able to hang out and blabber at each other, not to mention two weeks of no snuggling. We've got lots of plans to be made, much plotting, for the Handfasting and for our lives together. Some of it serious, some building toy castles in the air, it's all fun.

There is a slight cloud hanging over us at present that involves our apartment building being sold, which could mean a hike in rent, or even being ousted in favour of converting the building to condos, but we don't know for sure yet. We could be allowed to continue just as we've been, or we could be presented with 30 days notice and yet another move. Que sera, sera. I'm willing it to turn out to be a false alarm, I really like our place as it is thank you very much.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Damn this sleeplessness.

I was such a zombie this morning I ended up submitting my car to the $50 special wax and polish thingy I talked myself out of last week. The oxidised patches on my car are still dull and oxidised, the rest of it is pretty shiny I suppose, but the guy didn't even bother to wipe off all the streaks, that's shoddy service.

This monetary stupidity was a result of me being too lazy to try waxing the thing myself first, the assumption that they've got some magically super effective waxy stuff, and the all important zombification. Oh, and being way more than ready for Matt to be HOME already dammit. Oh Lord, I just comfort-bought car maintenence. That $50 could so much better have been spent on lacy underwear, or a fuzzy sweater, or a purse, or something more frivoulous and, well, comforting!

At least I got the important task of replacing my engine coolant done as well, I've been meaning to do that for a couple of months, and considering I'm plannning on driving to (and from) LA on Saturday it seemed insane to put it off any longer.

So now I feel tired, crappy and really stupid for the whole car wash thing. It's only $50, it won't kill me, but it's still a significant amount to have wasted. It's official, I'm pining. Pity I can't pine by having a reduced appetite, I feel I've been pigging out in excelsis for the past two weeks.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I have achived one of my goals for while Matt's gone: I successfully ordered my dress for the handfasting. I went to September War and hung out with Peldyn for a while, looking at the swatches of fabrics. It's going to be a deep green velvet irish style dress, with a damsk insert in the front of the bodice, and silver trim. I'll have a fitting at May War, which seems a long way away, but this way I don't have to drive all the way to the central valley to try it on at her shop.

It was a new experience to be ordering a custom made dress, able to pick and choose my colours and fabrics and say "make me this!" and know that it's going to come out the way I want. She's an excellent seamstress, and has a good eye for what works too.

Matt will be home soon! Before he gets back I'm going to: go try on modern traditional wedding gowns, just because I have an excuse to, go to Costco to restock our cupboards for his return, and drive up to Pasadena to look at a tiara. Yes I'm crazy, but it's less crazy than ordering a custom made headpiece over the internet without looking at any examples in person first.

Friday, August 29, 2003

I think this past week has been the "wallowing in self pity" phase of Matt's absence. Though I've not exactly been moping about with my lower lip dragging on the floor, I had pretzels and two bowls of ice-cream for dinner on Wednesday, and I haven't tidied up the apartment, or tackled my filing box full of unfiled papers, or written out my recipes onto index cards...or any part of my grand plans for being super efficient and making up for a few months of borderline organizational laziness. Instead I've been sitting around watching my leg hair grow.

(It's rather fascinating actually: I have random bald patches on my shins, rectangular bald patches, maybe the result of super-efficient waxing.)

I did better last night, I had some pizza and only one bowl of ice-cream for dinner, and I didn't eat the whole pizza, I had the appropriate portion size (so I could cancel out my virtuousness by eating ice-cream afterwards). So what if I washed it down with two hard lemonades... I've been completely alcohol free since Matt left, and it's a lot better than having a whole bottle of wine to myself. I certainly hadn't expected how much my alcohol consumption would go up when we lived together, but I can't entirely blame our cohabitation, there have been festive gatherings and many private causes for celebration since the beginning of June.

So, tonight I will not turn on the TV and vegitate, I'll crank up the stereo and work from one end of the living room to the other, transforming the little chaotic heaps of papers, discarded jackets and sweaters, and various pieces of debris from Pennsylvania, into neat stacks of debris. Preferably not stacked on the floor. I may even put away some of the stacks, it depends on how much into the tidying thing I end up getting.

After that I may even have a bath, a proper bath. It's a pity rental apartment bathrooms are so box-like. It's much more relaxing soaking in a tub in a room with a window, and some colour on the walls. If I were to decide to blow off the security deposit, the bathroom is the first place I'd want to paint.

This weekend will be busy, which is good, it'll keep me distracted. Tomorrow starts with waffles at my place, followed by a drive out to Potrero War. There I'll get to see Dawid, and talk to Peldyn about my garb for the handfasting. Mostly that'll just be me picking a fabric from the swatches and getting measured. I already know I want it to be green, preferably hunter green, I just hope she has a nice shade.

Sunday I'll be hanging out all day with Lori and Glen, there will be volleyball at the beach (the beach!), and a lot of sitting about talking and drinking. Monday is undecided, there is a remote chance I'll be driving up to Pasadena to look at tiaras, but more likely I'll be watching The Two Towers on DVD with Bob, and maybe going to try on wedding dresses just for the hell of it.

Maybe next week I'll turn into the super efficient reorganizing machine I had envisioned. Next week will be the approach of Matt's return, that'll spur me into more action than inaction. At the very least I'll wax my legs, and possibly even my car too. No, not using the same products.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

It's all Bob's fault. Though I suppose I have only myself to blame for entering all the screen-names I can remember having used.

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Striding through the tarmac, cutting down all who dare stand in the way using a bladed baseball bat, cometh PainfullyFluffy! And she gives a gutteral grunt:

"I'm going to hack into your brain, and type FORMAT C: !!"

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created by beatings : powered by monkeys

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Zang! Who is that, striding over the fields! It is Ashenfaerie, hands clutching a mighty sword! And with a booming howl, her voice cometh:

"I'm going to brutalize you so painfully, your screams will shatter lightbulbs world-wide!!"

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created by beatings : powered by monkeys

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Zang! Who is that, sprinting across the mini-mall parking lot! It is Argantfae, hands clutching buzzsaw hand extensions! She howls gutterally:

"I'm going to pound you harder than God thought possible, and roll you in creamy neugut!!!"

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created by beatings : powered by monkeys

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Prowling across the tarmac, brandishing buzzsaw hand extensions, cometh Argantlowen! And she gives a mighty grunt:

"I'm seriously going to punch you until you smell like barbeque!!"

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created by beatings : powered by monkeys

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Matt leaves for Japan on Friday morning. He'll be gone two weeks, two weekends apart as he counts it. One of which will be taken up by travelling and working for him.

This weekend I'm distracting myself by going up to LA to visit Granny, and then I have to work for about 4 or 5 hours on Sunday afternoon. This kinda sucks, but it's distraction from an empty apartment, and it also makes up for my going out of town during the critical grant application crunch time. Besides mimicking Matt's schedule of travelling on Friday and Saturday, followed by setting up the classroom on Sunday.

I don't think the weekends are going to be so bad, you can go do stuff on weekends, it's the mornings and evenings that will feel very empty. Grrrr, must stop being whiney.

Hurry up September 6th, I can distract myself from him going away by looking forwardto his return.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

We're both beginning to realise that maybe we need to point out to those we've announced "We're getting handfasted" to, that this also translates as "We're engaged". Even the ones who know that handfasting is an alternative form of wedding ceremony don't seem to carry this knowledge through to mentally connecting it with other weddingy things. Two people haven't responded at all to the egreeting announcing our intent to be handfasted next August, one of whom probably has no idea what the word means. Monica was grossly dissappointed when I told her that although it's going to be different, there won't be any sacrificing of pigs and smearing each other with blood.

Meanwhile, I wonder how long it will take Aunt Pat to notice the ring when I go up to LA next weekend? It feels somewhat odd to announce an engagement, we've both felt ourselves on the path to marriage for a while, the only main difference now is there's a ring. Nevertheless we will have to call around the important family members and announce our intentions, deflecting any inquiries as to when, where and how.

Friday, August 15, 2003

The Diamond Debacle

The title comes from a comment Matt made last night when we were standing in Zales [>] ruling out rings because they didn't cost enough...

Yes you did read that correctly. No, we weren't targeting the one month's income (or two month's, or whatever it is) rule for an engagement ring, we were trying to make use of a token he had from a previous relationship. About 6 years ago, he had just arrived in San Diego, was stationed on a boat at the 32nd St Base, and planning a future union with a girl he'd met in A-School, who was stationed elsewhere. So he bought a wedding set, a diamond ring and an "enhancer" to nest around it and act as a wedding band. Life intervened, the engagment ring never met it's intended wearer, and Matt was left stuck with a very non liquid asset of $1100 in a teeny little jewelry box.

We got the idea of attepting to trade it in somehow for a ring for me, both of us thinking that Zales would offer us some percentage of the original value of the set. Nope. Zales' buy-back policy is very explicit: they will buy back any diamond purchase for the original price paid (not including taxes)...but only if this amount is used towards a purchase at least double the value of the trade in. It also has to be a single item, one ring, one necklace, one set of earrings, not a bunch of stuff adding up to the magic number. Meaning, to trade in this set, he'd have to shell out an additional grand, and I'd be walking around with two thousand dollars on my finger.

I understand that for many women this would not be a problem. "Hurrah, he has no choice but to get me that trillion-cut 1/2 carat platinum number I've had my eye on since I turned 16!" I am most emphatically not that girl. I like sparkly things, but I don't have any fondness for large pricetags. Nor do I want an expensive gift from someone who didn't want to spend that amount of money. To be honest, when it seemed that the only way he'd be able to reclaim the value of the ring set was to spend (waste) an additional thousand, I felt sick. It seemed so unfair that he couldn't redeem it's value and rid himself of an unhappy memento. Not to mention the completely shallow fact that I want a sapphire, dammit, not a plain (but immensely sparkly) solitaire diamond, and sapphires are nowhere near as costly, and are not generally set with large diamonds to bump up the price.

Have I ever mentioned that I am not fond of fine jewelry shopping [>]?

Then inspiration struck: the solitaire and enhancer were seperate items, they didn't come as a set. So why not trade in the less expensive part and worry about reselling the solitaire elswhere? This took the target pricetag down from approximately $2,000 to just under $400, and returned our collective blood pressures and heart rates so somewhere around normal.

I had already narrowed my selection to three rings, one I eliminated immediately because it looked too dinky on my hand, and besides, at $199 it was nowhere near the $400 benchmark we had to meet. This left two rings, which Matt and I had already had a hard time choosing between aesthetically, one had three ceylon sapphires in a row, with teeny round diamonds between them, it looked well proportioned on my hand and was exceedingly sparkly due to the alternation between blue and bright white faceted stones. Pricetag: $299. The other had a significantly larger single ceylon sapphire, with three small round diamond on either side, also well proportioned for my hand and exceedingly sparkly, though it flashed less when I moved my hand side to side. Pricetag: $399.

This brings us to point at which I started this narritive. "Well...I think I prefer that one very slightly, but it just doesn't cost enough...so I suppose we'll go for the $399 one?" Not something I thought I'd ever hear myself say, especially not in a jewelry store.

Problem solved. I've got my sapphire (I have no idea how I got so fixated on a sapphire, I must have been a gem-hoarding pirate in a past life), Matt has offloaded part of the uncomfortable reminder of a past relationship, and Zales sucked an additional $200 out of a customer.

The Winning Candidate [>] is beautiful, I don't get to wear it today and sparkle at my coworkers because Matt is going to give it to me properly on our date tonight. Wonderful timing we have, we've managed to arrange things so that he can present my engagement ring to me on the romantic evening I planned as an early birthday event for him!

We are going to try selling the leftover solitaire on eBay, if anyone's in the market for an engagement ring it's square cut, 0.24 carats, set in a 14k yellow gold size 4 band... Offers around $800 please. We're willing to bargain, but only if you buy us dinner first.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Home again, home again jiggety-jig.

I've had my blog up for over two years now, quite a lot has changed in that time. It's odd to look back and remember how unhappy I was then, or perhaps troubled would be a better word. Knowing I'm still fundamentally the same person, but still so different, the largest difference seems to be that I'm more firm in my decisions now, stronger in my convictions. I don't go back on resolutions that I make to myself.

The return to work is going fairly smoothly, I took a sick day yesterday to allow my stuffed ears to attempt to return to normal, it worked pretty well.

Now I must go plate some neurons.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

In the face of planning a handfasting, my handfasting in fact, I'm beginning to realise that not only do I know nothing about planning an event with many people, and food, and a ceremony in the middle of it...but my only ideas so far about the actual ritual are that I like the idea of a headband with silver flowers in it, and I think I'd kind of like to be wearing a green dress.

I'm in trouble.

Most couples opt for a generic ceremony in their families chosen faith, or a courthouse, so the words spoken to cement their relationship are already mostly decided for them. Easy, but boring. We don't like boring, so we've decided to chose our own path and make a joining ritual that's entirely personal to us, not just personal vows, but an entire ceremony. We're pagans, and we evidently like to challenge ourselves. No familial expectations to work around, no worries about shocking grandma by invoking the elementals. Grandma isn't invited.

It's fantastic, and terrifying, I have so much to learn before we can even start working for real on the wordings for the ritual.

The other most unusual thing about this "wedding" is that it isn't about the certificate. In fact, legality isn't coming into it at all. We're doing this because we want to make a pledge to each other, and we want to do it our way. We are purposefully omitting the paperwork in fact. The legally binding version will come later, and Grandma will be invited to that one, so it'll be somewhat watered down in order to accomodate the catholic/baptist/atheist/agnostic/sceptic audience that is our family.

I just felt a pang of guilt that my parents are being left out of this. Even though they wouldn't really understand all of it, they'd still probably appreciate seeing something so important to me. I hope I'm not copping out by taking the easier route of keeping this to myself and promising that they'll be part of it all when we come to repeat the performance with full paperwork.

Anyway. There is going to be a lot of growing plans and wedding-related babble coming up. Along with my steep learning curve on the process of building a ritual all our own. Wish me luck!

Lord and Lady watch over us, keep us wise in our actions and kind in our words.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Fresh Brain In Refrigerator

Oh goody! Just when I was wondering what I was going to have for lunch. Though I think I've made the "quick, I need to get Eliezer some mustard for that brain" joke often enough that Dianne and Aline might decide to stuff me into the -80C freezer if I try it again. Maybe not, I seem to have taken up the role of Chandler Bing in our lab.

The boys in the next room play pranks on people and maybe even deposit a banana skin or two under your windshield wiper, I make the sarcastic comments. Eliezer asks for the key to the methamphetamine cupboard because it's nearly the weekend...and it took me a few minutes to realise he was pulling my leg.

It's crunch time right now in the land of Experimental Neuropathology. At least in our little section of the kingdom it is: it's grant submission time. This is where Dianne sends off a bunch of preliminary data, and a short dissertaiton on the data, to the people with the greenbacks. In this case the NIH, which is the real ca-ching kind of funding. So Dianne is going crosseyed writing the grant and editing figures, and I'm praying all the last minute backup experiments go smoothly so we have a good comprehensive set of data points.

After Monday evening, pray is all I will be able to do to help them out, since Matt and I are leaving for PA at about 6am on Tuesday morning. I keep thinking of details of treatment for the three cell lines we have in culture that only I know about, and I'd better write them down somewhere so I don't come home to a bunch of mutated "stressed" endothelial cells with wierdo morphological traits that weren't there when I left. I'm torn between being glad I'm out of the pressure fora week, and feeling like a deserter. I know we've got most of the data already lined up, we're on schedule, because I gave a couple of months warning of my absence.

This is a big turnaround from my previous job, I had a constant feeling of need to escape from there, largely because I wasn't kept in the loop as to what we were doing and why, it was assumed either that I knew already, or that I didn't need to know. Even when we're pulling out all the stops here we still find the time to go out for a lab lunch, followed by a couple of hours at the Nordstrom sale...my bosses are still nice people when under pressure. This is a rare thing.

I want to stick around here, I like the feeling of being intellectually involved in my work, and I'm hoping that I may even be able to do a Master's in this field. Some day. Right now I have more immediate things to think about, like how not to melt in the PA humidity, and the new project Matt and I began formulating a few days ago. We're planning a handfasting this time next year.

Friday, July 18, 2003

I wonder how much of a shock to my system having real food for breakfast and lunch is going to be. Matt and I have agreed that slimfast shakes were a handy thing for a while, but it's definitely not working as a long term way to fuel oneself. We've both beeen increasingly lethargic, and neither of us is losing weight any more. I suspect we may have both been skimping on the neccesary calories to support the current activity level and managed to lower our metabolisms. Yay us!

In an attempt to fix this metabolic empass I have rejoined eDiets, since it was a great tool for me before. My attempt to follow one of the new trendy brand name diets they now offer lasted about 24 hours. The initial mission statement was to keep the diet closer to what hunter-gatherers would have eaten (IE, what we evolved eating, and what our systems are designed to digest most efficciently). However, this didn't really lead me to expect to be supplementing my diet by mixing "ZonePerfect Protein Powder" into my porridge, or lunching on "ZonePerfect Nutrition Bars". And the concept of buying a gallon (or whatever) of liquid egg whites just turned my stomach.

In short, upon seeing what the diet really consisted of I decided it was pretty hokey and full of BS. I want my diet to be one more suited to my body chemistry, and closer to nature...I don't want to be buying supplements and heavily processed food. The whole point is to get away from pre-prepared nobrainer concoctions. Nor do I want to have an eating plan that would require me to explain the limitations to anyone generous enough to offer to cook for me. Though it's never bothered me to attempt to accomodate other people's foodish foibles.

I've been floating along letting my eating habits form themselves the past year, and I'm impressed that it hasn't lead to regaining the weight I had from my bout of depression. Now it's time to conciously tweak things, especially since my resolve to harden my body into a lean, mean kicking machine has been somewhat delayed by my new mild asthma, and bruising my ribs on a large rock in Kern River. More veggies will help me feel better in my own skin too. Unfortunately, as I type this I'm sitting here craving a large helping of tater tots, but I'll get over that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

You Might Be A Redneck If...

I've been mostly inactive at work recently. Very few experiments, lots of researching products and protocols, ordering reagents for new protocols, trying to figure out which line of microvascular endothelial cells to go with, arguing with Cell Signalling tech support to convince them that their antibody didn't work because it didn't work, not because we (specifically I) used it wrong. Trying out a fancy schmancy digital camera system which will enable us to get vastly more precise results...if I can get the sucker to WORK. It didn't help that I simulteneously trying out a new chemiluminescene reagent, one that requires far lower antibody concentrations than we use, so it didn't work either.

The only point of this is that it looks like I'm going to get to do more bench work again soon, and I'm glad, I don't like this desk job thing. Nor do I like training people, I'm not used to having to add someone else's "I can't find this antibody, where might it be?" to my own. That part will pass as the new associate finds her feet, and I'll get used to it as I've been here longer and find mine.

Now to justify my title.

You might be a redneck if you bring a gasoline-powered weed whacker on a camping trip.
You might be a redneck if you wear a cowboy hat with either an Iron Cross or a Confederate flag on the hatband.
You might be a redneck if you see a roadkill king snake as an opportunity to have an unusual meal and get a snakeskin hatband (for your cowboy hat) out of it as a bonus.

All of this was part of the Kern trip. Along with innertubing one day, followed by drinking at night, then hiking to a natural rock water-slide the next day, followed by drinking at night, followed by four guys (one-and-a-half rednecks and a whole halfwit) innertubing down the river by night wearing wetsuits and headlamps and being pursued by Park Rangers who were trying to enforce the river's curfew.

Who ever heard of a river having a curfew? Strange concept.

There's more...Shane threw vodka on the fire because his girlfriend wouldn't let him drink any more, the resulting fireball singed off a significant patch of leghair on both myself and Matt...Travis didn't have a whiny girlfriend with him this time, but still spent most of the time talking about a bunch of whiny girls he can't handle but just can't live without...Sharkie did a highly amusing impression of a dolphin having an orgasm (I have no idea how this came up in conversation)...Natalie threw twizzlers at people, and shoved a couple up Travis' nose for good luck...Sharkie's brother sat in his tent peeking out the zipper and sang the "meow mix" theme for no apparant reason...Shane and Sims rode a child-size motorcycle into town together at 2am and managed to get the 50cc engine to carry them at 35mph before they realised that neither of them could reach the brakes...

During all this Matt and I mostly sat back and watched with amusement. It would have been easy to get stressed out by all the chaos, but somehow it was just fun, because it wasn't happening to me, but around me. Plus there was messing about in the river and not worrying about the usual BS, that always makes a nice change.

The snake didn't get eaten in the end, Travis got bored with picking out the bones before cooking and gave up. He preserved the skin though.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

In the past 24 hours Matt and I have obtained: a case of Mike's Hard Lemonade, a dozen muffins, a bulk package of Claritin D antihistamine, a small canister of propane, a portable firepit/grill, and a large-ish tent...

Sounds like a party waiting to happen doesn't it? And yes, we are going camping this weekend, however did you guess? My second time on the annual Kern River trip. Matt also bought himself a headlamp. The kind people use for cave expoloration. He's planning to innertube down Kern river by moonlight. I declined joining in, mostly because I will never get warm again after dunking myself in the river at night. I rather shocked myself for having that reason spring to mind before the more obvious "I would rather be able to see when I'm about to hit a large pointy rock thank you".

On the general health side of things, I finished the course of antibiotics, just in case it ws some kind of infection, even though my lungs are clear. It's pretty apparant that I have some variety of asthma, which seems to have developed very recently. I do have the inflammation of the muscles in my chest too, probably from getting thwacked there during takedowns in karate, that certianly doesn't help my breathing any. But it isn't the sole problem: two or three times in the past few days I've had serious trouble catching my breath, having to pant for a few minutes when what I really want to do is take a big long breath...but it just won't happen. Once was during karate, which makes sense, but it's also been caused by getting anxious. I'm more familiar with the latter, I have a habit of almost stopping breathing when I'm really keyed up about something, and the release of that tension leads to panting for breath to make up the oxygen dept. I always figured it was a form of hyperventilation in response to anxiety, maybe it's asthma.

I don't know how common it is for people to develop this at my age, smoking certainly didn't help, it's extremely frustrating to me that this has become more of a problem after quitting. I never had this much of a problem until recently. It makes me mad, at myself for ever smoking, and in general because I don't want to have to deal with trying to get fit in the face of a respitory tract disorder. Getting fit is also a higher priority now because this being out of breath thing really sucks.

I am going to rant about it periodically until it's gone (or until I get over it), but for now I have ranted enough. I'm looking forward to the camping trip. Even if I will be carrying my inhaler in a ziplock bag as I scoot down the rapids on an innertube.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Evidently I have inflamed connective tissue on my ribcage. There's a latin term, but I can't remember it. I have no clue how I got this injury, as the most common cause is being slapped by your seatbelt in a fenderbender. Just in case my constricted breathing isn't purely due to this, I've also been prescribed antibiotics and a steriod inhaler. Combined with my antihistamine I'm now on the most drugs simulteneously that I've ever been on! Oh! I should count my progesterone shot thingy too, that means five different medications. I'm such a druggy these days.

On a side note: never drink chammomile tea that has been stewing in a mug over the weekend, it tastes like sweaty socks and mould. Bleurgh.

Monday, June 23, 2003

It's Very Good Jam

We made jam yesterday, 36oz of black cherry jam courtesy of Costco's bulk-buy fruit. Jam worthy of paying a Queen's Lady's Maid. Only every other day though. Yes that is a literary reference my dear, how very kind of you to notice.

I've been re-reading Alice In Wonderland, and Through The Looking-Glass; it's rather disconcerting to realise how much those two stories shaped my youthful internal monologue. Especially my tendency to scold myself in an upper-class accent, just like Alice. I found that I remembered almost every line verbatim, they're stored in my brain permanently, probably the result of having an excellent book on tape version of them, read by Alan Bennet. I was barely reading the book, more opening the door to the part of my memory where Mr Bennet's nasal voice resided, providing perfect inflections to the White Queen's assertion that it's always "jam tomorrow, and jam yesterday, but never jam today..." Because it's jam every other day you see, and today isn't any other day.

If anyone ever accuses me of creative circular logic, I can now point to Lewis Carroll for the reason. Just as I can lay my sick sense of humour at the door of Roald Dahl and Monty Python. I wish the Disney version of Alice had tried harder to carry accross the intelligent surreality of the book, and not just the random cartoonish characters. Alice is a permanent resident in my subconcious, bitchy little asides and all. Such a contrary little thing, but I suppose she can't help it.

Oh dear, I'm rambling in Carroll-ese, it probably only makes sense to me as well. I had better go do something serious and important immediately.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Pros and Cons

What could possibly be wrong with getting closer to a healthy weight? I'll tell you what, constantly changing shape and proportion is what's wrong with it. Even though the general trend is one of improvement, I'm starting to find it disconcerting that my bra size has now changed at least three times in the past six months. I say "at least" because I don't get measured that frequently, so there may well have been more fluctuations than I'm aware of, because I've certainly been having trouble finding ones that fit comfortably. I came to the conclusion that bras for anything along the lines of 36DD or 38D and up are incapable of providing support without looking and feeling like some kind of immobile cantilevered contraption strapped to your chest. So, of course, I'm relieved to be back in the realms of 36D, it's where I'm used to being: I have a significant bosom, I can choose a fairly wide range of attractive styles, but it no longer feels as though a civil engineer had to be called in to calculate the arc of the underwire. Hey!...my beloved 1940's style bikini might fit again now...

Now I am caught in a little bit of a dilemma. I have just found jeans that fit me. I have just gone to the Victoria's Secret clearance and bought a couple of bras in the new correct size, and even more knickers in frightening colours...and I don't particularly feel like changing the shape of my ass right now. Even though I know I'll feel better after the fact, even though I want to be more flexible and toned, I keep thinking of the pricetag on the fun "I shrank out of those clothes so I need some more now" shopping sprees. I am in a mindset where I feel I'm supposed to try hard to continue my shrinkage, rather than truly wanting to for myself.

The last 40lb I lost absolutely had to go, I hated the way I looked and felt in that version of my body. But I've always been on the large side, I do remember the brief period when I was a svelte size 11/12, but I don't think I ever really registered how it felt at the time, I just know that I was wearing a size 12 with room to spare, but I was still plenty curvy even then. I don't do dainty.

So where does that leave me on the self-improving resolutions? I don't really know, though I do know that I want to be stronger, I know I want to be more flexible, and I know I want to have the ability to work on the speed part in karate. I want to be the woman who can make a spin kick a practical attack because I'm just so damn fast with it. I want to be the woman who snaps out a strike and it looks as though I've been standing there with my fist out all along because the transition was so fast.

When it comes down to it, aesthetically, I like the shape of my body right now, ideally there'd be a little less roundness in the tummy and less squish in my thighs. There will always be such foibles, nobody is every completely satisfied with themselves. What I'm not so happy with is the achey joints and stiffness, the fact that after about ten minutes of sparring I slow down significantly because my arms get tired and that makes me feel pathetic and weak.

Perhaps this spells pilates tape and home weight training. More sparring drills and possibly picking up a shinai on Sundays. Stretching before bed. Ignoring the "dieting and weightloss" stuff for a change and working on feeling relaxed and well exercised. I'll probably end up with a tighter belt as a side effect, but it's not going to make me happy if the size 12 jeans are my goal, rather than a pleasant side effect. I can't allow myself to focus on those numbers, what I want is to feel healthy, to know my body is less of a limiting factor on my activities, maybe even to find some muscle definition in places that haven't had it before.

I suppose this has turned into a declaration of sorts. That what I really want from my body is to be strong, fast and capable. So what if the girl standing next to me has far prettier legs? I don't care how I look in a bathing suit if I can go through my forms and feel every move coming out as it's supposed to. I don't want to look like this or that I want to feel comfortable in my own skin (which requires being small enough to avoid the titanium reinforced brassieres), and to learn to kick ass properly and with style.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

I am, as hoped for, sitting at my desk in the new apartment. I just got it set up, and everything seems to have survived the epic move of about three metres up, and 70 to the southeast. My desk fit back together with considerably less problem than it's original construciton, all of my furniture fit in the elevator, and with the combined help of Brandon and Rachel on Friday, and Bob today, we have everything but the odds and ends moved in and arranged meticulously in large random heaps all over the living room.

Somehow there is still space in the living room, even with most of our worldy possesions and a queen-sized bed in there.

Friday, June 06, 2003

The building excitement of our impending move was somewhat dampened yesterday by the news that they still need to replace a drainage pipe behind the washer/dryer. Which requires access through the wall of the master bathroom, and the hall closet that backs onto the bathroom. There is still a functional bathroom, and it'll be done in a week or so, but Red asked us not to put all the bedroom furniture in the master bedroom in the meantime, so that the plumber can come and go with equipment and not have to worry about smudging our bedroom set. So we shall be camping out in our living room for a little while.

Funnily enough this is starting to sound like fun. It's a perfect excuse for not having it all set up perfectly immediately, we'll be able to get used to the space before we put the furniture in a more final arrangement. Not to mention the fact that it emphasizes how huge our living room is. I am leaving a generous studio, a large open rectangle given the appearance of an interesting shape by a slightly reccessed patio door and window. The main body of the living room in the new place, not counting the dining area branching off from it, is larger than my entire studio. For now we're going to have a queen sized mattress and boxspring in one corner, Matt's living room furniture, plus his dresser, plus my bed leaning up against a wall, plus a bunch of boxes and a large heap of unstowed bedcovers and blankets...and we'll have space to spare. It's positively cavernous. Without the attending fanged beast lurking in the background, and less moss on the walls than is usually seen in your standard cavern style abode.

Once we had made it clear that we still wanted to move in asap despite the inconvenience of the pipe replacement, Red stopped by with the keys, a day early, we were somewhat nonplussed at first, but then realized we had just been given an extra evening to get a head start on moving in and began to haul boxes for all we were worth.

I'm pretty useless at work today, I can't wait to get back to North Park and get moving. I can't wait to truly live with Matt, we spend so much time together it's been much more a frustrating timewaster to accomodate two apartments. Neither of us got housekeeping done, and whatever thing we wanted to wear on a given day usually ended up at the wrong apartment. It was a neccesary stage along the way, now we know for sure that we want to be together, we're moving in together to be together, not for financial reasons or some ideal of playing house.

Alright, I am going to do some work now dammit. I will justify my paycheck by labelling 15ml tubes for Dianne and braving the darkroom yet again to see if another three year old antibody has died from neglect.

With luck the next post will be from me sitting at my desk in the study of our new apartment.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Oooooh, Blogger redesign. I can't see where to republish my archives if I change the template, I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Tonight is the last night in my studio, I'll have to pack up the last bits of my kitchen once we finish eating. Aside from coffee-making apparatus, which is essential for morning survival.

Meanwhile I'm heading in to work a bit early, so I can get finished up and get out earlier.

Monday, June 02, 2003

What a great weekend, and surprisingly productive too.

As if a four-day working week following Memorial Day weekend wasn't enough slacking, I took off from work at 12.30 on Friday to go pick up Monica from the train station. Yes, I did say Monica, she made it to San Diego! Only for about 18 hours, but it was enough for her to get a taster of "sunny" San Diego, and enough to show her a little of my life here. The June gloom was in full force when she arrived, but during lunch it burned off and we got to sit in the sun for a while in the courtyard of UTC mall.

I had completely neglected to inform her of the layering rule of dressing here. It may be sunny most of the time, but the gloom and breeze make some variety of sweater a neccesity. I must remember to make this a standard part of any invite to visit me here, soomething along the lines of: "Come see me, we can go to the beach, bring a bikini, sandals, and a big fuzzy sweater!"

Eventually we got back to my place, with the slight chaos excused by my impending move (nice cover for the usual state of dissarray in my apartment). Matt wandered down and met us there. Monica got the full experience of my apartment, right down to the shower flooding itself again, this time while I was doing dishes. Got to love those interconnected drains. So we made a hasty exit and headed down to Ocean Beach to watch the sun set behind the marine layer. The rocky cove Matt discovered is fantastic, the waves make a great show splashing up against the crags, and we managed to avoid getting splashed full on until the very end. There were a few narrow escapes, but that's all part of the fun. My poor shoes are now officially dead. Two occasions of a saltwater soaking spell doom for any suede.

After we dried off somewhat we met Bob at the Cheesecake Factory, he and Monica bonded over the atkins diet, which is still a mystery to me, being allowed to eat eggs and cheese till the cows come home, but no tomatos because they've got sugar in them. Wierd.

Back to Matt's place for the night, since my bathroom was somewhat out of commission. Up at 5.45am (bless the coffee machine with a timer function) and back to the train station by 7, so Monica could go back to LA and schmooze more Democrats.

That only covers Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. After we got back from the station, we watched The Ring, Matt did a bunch of packing while I had a nap, then I went back to my apartment to find the building manager attacking my drains with a motorised snake, he got the blockage cleared apparantly, with another flood on the bathroom floor in the process. So instead of packing my kitchen I went to the laundrette to wash my towels and bathmat. It was ok though, because the laundrette had the History Channel on one of the TVs and I got to learn about how insane Ivan the Terrible really was.

The rest of the weekend was packing, until I ran out of newspaper to wrap kitchen stuff in, a short cycle up to the Antique Row Cafe for lunch on Sunday, Costco for supplies for this week, Lane Bryant, Express and DSW for (in order) jeans that FIT, more tshirts and a pair of maryjane clogs.

Oh, and Brandon and Rachel called by for a while, so we have another helper for the move next weekend.

Four more nights until we spend the first night in our place.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

The refund showed up on my statement today. A voided transaction gets processed as a "refund" so they can hold on to my money for six days.


War was even better this year, with the feeling of returning to a group of friends, even though we'd only seen Lori and Glenn once since the previous War, House Rittervald welcomed us in, and even fed us. Matt found a beautiful Sghien Dubh (I have to check my spelling) in damascus steel, and I resisted the pull of a norse-style short sword and came home with a hand-thrown pitcher with knotwork on it. We both found braided ribbon trim for our cloaks. Bob was a pirate in sneakers, thus saving himself from the fun of War-dust between his toes.

There was singing around the campfire, two guitar players taking turns and playing together, much sitting around drinking divine coffee drinks courtesy of the Goddess Kaffeina, getting chased away from the sidelines of the heavies fighting by autocrats, being woken up by crows and demented ducks, but no sun burn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

The Saga Of The Pendant Continues

I went back after work on Friday, and the woman who had handed me the empty box was very glad to see me, and had bought a little box of four Godiva chocolates by way of an apology. I had been pondering my purchase all day and in the end decided to change the little filligree heart for a slightly larger heart with daisies engraved on it, and a couple of tiny diamonds. It was more than the other (of course) but it was very much more her.

Granny loved it, and even has some silver earrings to wear with it, she doesn't wear much silvertone stuff because she doesn't own much, not becasue she doesn't like it.

Then, this morning, I checked my credit card balance online. The original charge is still there. The one I asked her to erase and put on a different card. So I have paid for a white gold (with diamonds) pendant on my UK card, and am now expected to pay for a transaction that was (supposedly) cancelled before I even left the store the first time. Human error allowing this is starting ot piss me off.

I'm now wondering what proof I have that the initial transaciton was voided, I didn't ask for a copy of the voided receipt, and I didn't keep a copy of the receipt from the first purchase. All I have is the receipt from when I exchanged the little heart for the larger one, and a printout of my online credit card statement showing the erroneous charge. I just hope it's enough. I don't want to be $50 out of pocket because someone didn't let my credit card know that they cancelled a charge.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Now I know why I don't wear much jewelry

Because, to put it simply, shopping for jewelry is a more frustrating hell than trying to find a bathing suit that doesn't make me feel like a trainee blue whale.

I spent two hours searching the UTC mall for a pendant for my Granny. I saw many things I liked, but most of them were too "funky" looking for my Granny, oddly twisted hearts and some lovely middle-eastern influenced scrollwork and tassled necklaces that my Mum would adore. Plain, simple, understated pendants involving yellow gold and perhaps some pelasant-coloured semi-precious stones? Nope. Not on your nelly. I waded through every department store, two jeweller's and one costume jewelry store where the clerk tried to convince me that my grandmother would just love to own a chunky silver chain with starfish hanging off it. There are very few ways to politely say "no thank you, that's much too gaudy for her" and "can we keep it under $150 please?" and I ran out of tact somewhere between Nordstrom's and Robinson's May.

Eventually I returned to Ben Bridge [>] and went with a little filligree heart in white gold, even though I know she wears yellow gold. It was the only thing that remotely said Suey to me. I was also encouraged by it being half the approximate amount my Mum told me to expect to pay.

Then I managed to pull out the wrong card to pay for it, and didn't realise until it had already been rung up, so I had to get her to void the first transaction and start over. The second card took an inexplicably long time to clear, thus wasting an additional 15 minutes or so.

By this point I was ready for a nap, my eyes were aching from staring at so many sparkly things under bright lights, trying to search for the invisible understated pieces amongst the carbuncles, and I was well overdue for a boost to my blood sugar. I got straight on 805 and headed home. Matt already had dinner ready, bless him.

I pulled out the package to show Matt what I'd wasted two hours looking for, opened the cardboard gift box, then the jewelery box...and proudly displayed to him an empty cream velvet interior.


That's right, I walked out of there with a gift box. But no pendant.

I'm going to call them as soon as they open this morning. I am just praying it gets sorted out easily. I'm also very glad that I didn't go for the $200 locket and then have this happen, I would have completely freaked out. As it is I feel I've had a lucky escape from proudly presenting Granny with an empty box. Thank Fate I took it out to show off...

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

*ahem* If you stop paying attention for a moment you'll turn around and find I've implemented some large change again. The last few months it was limited to rearranging furniture, apart from that whole switching jobs thing that's made such a huge difference to my working life...

Now I'm moving again. Upstairs in fact, to a large two-bedroom (and two full bathrooms!) apartment that just came available. Moving from a studio to a two bedroom and dropping my rent by $100.

Yep, Matt and I are moving in together. To some it's "finally" and to other's it's "already", but to us it's just right.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Getting Back On Form

Last night was a really good class, for the first time in ages I felt as though my legs and arms (but especially my legs) were paying attention and remembered what this whole karate thing was about. I ended up giggling in the middle of warmups, mostly because we were leaping back and forth between back-stances facing opposite directions and my hair flopping side to side made me feel like a karate-muppet unable to make up it's mind where to block. As Miss Piggy holds a firm fighting stance facing off her oponents she hears a movement behind her and switches around only to find an equally large group of attackers on that side too...

This is where the medium of words on a page, or on a screen, completely fails to convey my muppet impersonations. Muppet, fraggle (more when I had the pink hair) or straightforward Tigger, that's the side that doesn't get out much here, because it's mostly in the body language and tone of voice. I asked Matt the other day what animal I'm most like, as he thinks of himself as a golden retreiver, I was expecting cat, or kitten, maybe squirrel (since I'd been told that one before)... Instead of an animal, he came up with "a combination of Pooh and Tigger, with a bit of Roo, because of the mommy thing" this pretty quickly turned itself into me being mostly Tigger. At least it goes to explain why I got on my sister's nerves so much: she's Eyore.

Imagine a moody mid-teen-ager dealing with the strains of advanced classes in high school, first boyfriend, a hereditory tendency towards depression, and all the fear of picking colleges and planning your life, being presented with a bouncy prepubescent smartass of a kid sister. Reicepe for disaster? You got it. Though I'm not sure if Eyore ever tried to throttle Tigger after being bounced into the river.

I'd go out and get the litle fuzzy Tigger to match my toy Eyore, but I think Peppermint the snow leopard is quite enough kitty-shaped toys for this 23-year-old scientist.

Besides, the orange would clash with my comfy chair.