How do you piss off nearly an entire store full of people in the middle of the night?

Buy the last comtainer of santizing wipes in the entire store…. and do so while cheefully singing the song that’s been stuck in your head for days…

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine!

So last night after my son went to sleep, I went to the nearby Ingles grocery store to buy a few things we needed for the house. One was popsicles. With the days getting warmer and my son out of school for the next two weeks, I need those to help keep him cool. And they’re a nice bribe to get him to behave when necessary. I also needed to get some extra snacks for him. You know – Nutrigrain bars, more fruit, poptarts, and an extra box of cereal. That kind of thing.

Thank the gods I bought toilet paper, hand soap, and baby wipes a few days ago. No, I didn’t hoard it. Just bought an extra couple of packs of wipes since we use them frequently already. An extra thing of toilet paper since I’m limiting my trips out and about due to my and my mother’s compromised immune systems. That kind of level of prepping. Think of it as light-weight Hurricane Season prep really. Anyway, so I’ve got a couple of things in my cart, and the bag of dog food we needed (we legitimately were running pretty low on the kibble and our dog’s gotta eat, too y’know). The store, even in the middle of the night, is playing some good tunes on the radio. Songs I know. Songs I can sing along to. And I’m in a good mood. Not because I’ve stocked up already, but because I genuinely am in a Good Mood. While my day had been relatively odd, as all my Friday the 13ths are, it was uneventful and good.

So I’m walking around, jamming out to the music, and having a Good Time. Dancing, when I take a fancy, in the aisles. I’m in THAT GOOD OF A MOOD.

And it was annoying the fuck out of people around me. Now, I know – I KNOW there’s a pandemic going on. And we are in a State Of Emergency. I could very well catch the Covid and die because of my shitty immune system. But that does not change the fact that despite shit shutting down left and right, there’s still shit I gotta get done. I still gotta get up every day and take my meds. I still gotta get up every day and take care of my son. Yeah, shit gets harder when you’re on lockdown. Shit gets harder with resources becoming scarce. But that doesn’t change the fact that my kid don’t eat if I don’t get in that kitchen and make him something to eat. My house don’t get clean if I don’t get up and clean it. Life, such as it is, marches on even in the middle of a pandemic.

But that’s no reason for me to throw myself into a depression spiral. So yeah, when I hear a song at the store and it’s a banger, you bet your bippy I’m gonna seize that silver lining with both hands and enjoy the fuck out of it. Because if I don’t then I’ll be like all the other paranoid, miserable fuckers out there willing to punch a bitch over a single 1000 sheet roll of shitty one-ply ass wiping paper.

As for the container of wipes? You bet your ass I bought ’em. You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and again – it’s not hoarding as I’d honestly used the next to last wipe in my house cleaning up a mess while making dinner last night. And as I rang those bitches up at the self-checkout register in front of many others complaining about there not being any meat, no toilet paper, no hand soap, I’m singing along to the song in my head.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Ramen. Sushi. Burrito?

Ramen. Sushi. Burrito.

One of these words doesn’t belong, right?

Well, you’d be wrong. And here’s why.

We have a local restaurant called Zen Ramen & Sushi Burrito. Not really sure how long it’s been around, but long enough to not have its liquor license yet. It’s Facebook says that the restaurant is family owned, but you wouldn’t guess it when you walk in the door. Now, walking into a place with Ramen and Sushi on the name, with a claim of family-owned and operated, you’d expect to be greeted by probably a middle-aged or teenaged Japanese person. This was not the case here, as nearly all of the front-end staff are young college students, mostly white (I mean, come on, it IS a small backwoods southern type of town so that’s pretty much mostly our demographic here), with a couple of young Latinos and a college age black woman. Now, this was just the staff on Sunday evening. For all I know the rest of the week it’s completely different.

The music is nice, mainstream J-Pop, but mostly ballads. I looked up some of it and it’s all pretty current stuff, too. Mostly released in the last six months or so. I asked if there’s a specific radio or streaming station they use and our waiter said it was a custom playlist one of the kitchen staff had put together.

The decor was very dark. Lots of dark brown and black, but it was surprisingly very classy. For a few minutes I felt severely undedressed until I saw what was waiting for us on the wall at our table.

tumblr_96c3381cb1889571303cda032abe5813_bbac060f_640Each table had a framed picture similar to this. This particular one I THINK is some Naruto fanart, but I’m not sure. I never really watched that anime. I certainly wasn’t expecting it, that’s for certain.

Then we got the menus. And hoo boy. I have never, in my life, expected to see so many brands and types of Sake available in one place outside of Japan. Especially not somewhere in Georgia. So that was a delight. Of course, there’s 3 things wrong here. First, I can’t drink anymore because of my medications. Alcohol and Methotrexate (my skin issues) are even bigger no-nos than Alcohol and Ibuprophen (high doses combined with the really good shit gives you ulcers! The more you know!). And second, they don’t have their liquor license yet. So I couldn’t order any even if I had wanted to. And once again, third – my husband doesn’t drive. I drive. Therefore, only one of us could drive us home from date night. And I don’t drink and drive. I’ve done it exactly twice in my life. THe first time because I didn’t have any other option (no, seriously, it was an emergency situation, no public transportation, before Uber, and I didn’t have cab fare for the middle of fucking nowhere.) The second time because I was a dumbass and thought “Well the first time actually went so well nobody knew I was drunk so fuck it let’s do this!” and scared the hell out of my damn self. So no, not doing THAT again any time soon.

Anyway, back to the Ramen & Sushi Burrito place.

So, we get the menus. Massive sake selection (hopefully one day). For normal drinks they’ve got iced green tea, hot green tea, Ramune sodas (basically japanese sodas), and regular fountain drinks like Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc. I of course get one of the Japanese sodas. I haven’t had one since I lived in Florida so fuck yes I’m having me a time on date night! It was melon flavor, my favorite! Husband got a Dr. Pepper, no ice. Later he got an orange Ramune to try. It was alright. I expected it to be a little sweeter than it was. But I was perfectly content with my melon flavor.

Now then, the food. We each had a ramen bowl. Now I know this SOUNDS boring, but hold up. This was a massive fucking bowl of ramen soup. Bok choi. Chicken. Boiled egg. Mine had tomatos and spinnach added to it. Bamboo shoots. Basically, everything but the kitchen sink. Now, I’m not SUPPOSED to be eating ramen, because it’s got wheat in it, which I cannot have because of health reasons. But by the gods, I was going to have a fucking time of it on date night! This bowl was huge. And it was DELICIOUS. It also came with fries lightly battered in tempura batter and fried. And topped with this sweet salt which was weird. And it came with a side of spicy ketchup. I hate ketchup in all its forms and husband said the ketchup was too hot for him (which told me it was wasabi ketchup cause the man loves spice in his food, but wasabi is one of the things he can’t stand). The fries were oddly good and I hadn’t realized I’d eaten them all until I went to reach for another and found my little fry boat empty.

And now, about the Sushi Burrito part of the name. It’s pretty self explanatory.

It’s sushi, like, you know. Those little rolls you can get with the fish or the shrimp or the crab rolled in with some veg or without veg. Wrapped in a later of sticky rice and seawead. Or seaweed then rice. I mean, sushi is pretty universal in appearance at this point.

Now imagine a sushi roll. But make it bigger. Not just longer, like an uncut roll of sushi. But longer and fatter. The size of a god damned burrito. Imagine the seaweed wrapper being folded around this wad of fish and veg and rice like a tortilla. Imagine this seaweed being folded just like a buritto tortilla. Then wrap that fucker in a sheet of paper like a sub sandwitch at Subway. Cut down the middle like one, too. And there you have it. A sushi burrito.

Before the evening was over, I did get to see at least one of the people that own the place. She was the only one who spoke English, and even that was a little hard to understand but man she was awesome. Whenever someone had an issue with the food, she didn’t put it off on the staff to deal with, she came out herself and spoke as well as she could to the customer to figure out the problem and if the kitchen could fix it, they would. And if they couldn’t, then she explained why and offered to help them resolve the issue in another manner if possible. I didn’t catch her name, but she just looked so happy to see so many people eating her food.

When we arrived, there were a few tables full. By the time we left, there were people waiting to be seated because there wasn’t any room left.

While the price can be a bit much if there’s three or more people, it’s definately worth a visit back for me and the husband. Besides, the man loves ramen in all its forms, and next time I’m gonna be good and stick to my diet by getting the sushi burrito instead.

Acer Cloudbook: The End

In my last post, I mentioned the accursed device called the Acer Cloudbook. Any longtime readers would remember my… adventure with that horrid piece of metal and plastic. Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it before but the little bastard and I ended up becoming far more aqauinted than I would have liked. But when the going gets tough, the fish get outta town, I mean, you make do with what you’ve got. And when the old TARDIS finally reached a point where I couldn’t limp her along anymore and her battery went kaput and could’t be replaced, it found myself at a loss. I couldn’t take the darn thing anywhere that I didn’t already know where all power outlets available were. And I couldn’t take it anywhere that access might be an issue – meaning no taking my laptop to Starbucks any time soon.

And thus, the Acer became my Travel Box. I named it Dragonzord, as I tend to name all my machines after things that I enjoy. That and the Acer required the use of MANY peripherals due to space constraints. WIth a 32GB internal memory, with only around 12GB at max available because Windows 10 took up so much damned space on the thing… You can see where I’m going with this. And so Dragonzord became my main machine where I did a bulk of my work. Mostly writing, and anything to do with the internet. Now, the Cloudbook is perfect for people who do literally everything online only. People who use Cloud storage religiously. I’m not one of those people. Preferably I would have hardcopies of all my work, but lacking a reliable printer and funds to replace ink as frequently as would be necessary that’s just not a feasable option. So saving my work to my computer is the next best thing. Unfortunately… A Cloudbook is NOT built for such use.

Now, the Cloudbook came with 1TB of Cloud storage for free! As long as I bought a one year subscription to Microsoft Office and all that entailed. Even then, the free 1TB would either be dropped down to the standard 50GB (that microsoft offered at the time, and it has since dropped further than that I believe), or I pay for the 1TB of cloud storage at full price… AND continue to maintain the Microsoft Office subscription.

Nope. Nope. And…. how about Nope. Not when Google, as oft bemoaned as they are, offer the same suite free for any Google account holder and 15GB free storage in GoogleDrive. Which I also have on my phone because it’s an Android. And that’s 15GB PER ACCOUNT. I’m sitting on literally 4 different accounts (each for a different purpose) so that’s… lets see. 60GB free storage on GoogleDrive. Not bad. Not bad at all. Annoying to switch accounts when I need a specific thing, but not so much that I’d consider a different service. Mind you, the dollar doesn’t go far these days.

The limitations of the Cloudbook didn’t stop with just the storage. Because of the storage issue, I couldn’t run even some of the most basic of programs. If I wanted a lightweight and stripped down word processor, I couldn’t even have Solitaire installed. Heaven help me if I wanted to put a basic antivirus software on the damned thing. Now, I did end up buying a 64GB card to put into the SSD slot, but it was literally put in for one singular purpose: redirecting windows updates to an additional drive just so I could update the damned thing. You see, Windows 10, when it does a FULL update and installs an entirely new build of itself, doubles in size. And if it currenty takes up 15GB on your harddrive, when that asshole goes to install the newest build, it now requires 30GB. But if you’re using 3GB of that space? Well son, you fucked up. Now you can’t get the newest build. Normally, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, right? Just clear out that 3GB and you can proceed. WRONG.

Because Windows, even paused, will NOT let you have enough memory to even open the tools necessary to clear the space for it to continue. Okay, no problem, just run the built-in stuff. Compress the disk. Etc. WRONG. THAT is the very stuff it won’t let you run in the first place.

So you can see why redirecting the bulk of the windows updates to another removable drive was a necessary step to take.

Now, my time with the Acer wasn’t entirely hell. The thing is damn useful for basic tasks. It’s got a decent built-in camera. Better than my new laptop, surprisingly. It’s perfect for watching Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. Youtube runs on it almost like a dream.

Ultimately, the replacement of the Acer came down to three factors.

  1. I have a wonderful husband who, when he came into a windfall, went behind my back when we went to Walmart last week and then tricked me into holding something for him that he’d bought because he “forgot to look at printers”. (Forgot my left asscheek.)
  2. I have a 6 year old (then 5) who LOVES to pry buttons off things like they were legos. And while I can get used to typing on a keyboard with one or two buttons missing, when most of the keyboard is gone and I type rapidly… those little nubs are hard to hit when I’m needing to work quickly. This necessitated the use of a USB keyboard. (The computer had issues with STAYING connected via Bluetooth, and I only had 2 usb slots so going “wireless” with a dongle didn’t make sense if I was tying up a port anyway.)
  3. One of my only 2 usb ports failed, requiring that I buy a USB hub so that I could both type AND save my work.

And so, last week, I retired both TARDIS (which was used primarily as a DVD player and a photoshopping machine at this point anyway), and Dragonzord.

I can happily say that my new computer, Pendragon (on account of the machine’s case being a nice Welsh Dragon red), can handle a hell of a lot more load with a 500GB hardrive and 4GB of RAM. It has a nice touchscreen as well but unfortunately THAT is glitchy and still working out the kinks. I am typing this up in the WordPress app for Windows and boy does it feel damn good to be using it again, too.

TARDIS has been stripped down of anything of value save my gaming roms and music in case my husband wants any of that (it’s damn near impossible to get your hands on Nintendo roms anymore for the really big names like Mario, Metroid, Pokemon, and Zelda). After he’s decided if he wants the roms and music, it’ll get turned into a Linux machine as it has a pre-Skylake archetecture processor. (For those that don’t know, certain processors are made now in such a way as to prevent people from switching from windows 10 to literally any other OS. Attempting to do so will btick the machine, which is why I couldn’t swap my OS on the Acer despute Ubuntu or literally any other Linux based system would have been a hell of a lot better for the size of the hard drive I had in that thing.)

The ultimate fate of the Acer called Dragonzord? Well… I’ll be hanging onto that one a little while yet. You never know when you might need a backup machine.

My joints, my joints, my joints are on fire!

We’ve officially hit, I believe, cold wintry weather. With lows in the 30s at night, and the grinding of bone and cartilage in my knees, it’s kind of a hard thing to miss.

My pain management, however, has taken the unfortunate turn of now having to take the meds as soon as I get up because I’m waking up to anything from lower back and full leg pain to whole body joint inflammation. I’m calling my doctor after the holiday – I need new X-rays done on my back and now both my knees.  It feels like I’m getting stabbed in the patella with a very thin knife every time I bend my knees to walk or sit. Heaven forbid I need to kneel down on the floor for something.

Now, I know I could have hurt myself when dealing with my kitchen, but this was a problem before doing all that hard labor cleaning (well, hard labor for me these days anyway).

I know some of you deal with far worse pain on a daily basis (one of you in particular I would never wish your condition on my worst enemy because holy fuck that’s… I honestly can’t even imagine what you deal with guy) but keep in mind we all start somewhere which chronic pain before hitting that point of “whelp, this is my life now then I guess”. I’m hoping that the majority of this is just due to the cold weather aggravating my pre-existing problems rather than the normal evolution thereof. I can hope!

As a result of adjusting my medications to compensate my body’s been doing the whole “it takes 2 weeks to readjust to this shit” sort of thing so I’ve been sleeping weird times.

Plus side, I’ve gotten some kitting done, and some writing too. So score one for the bonus team!

Thankfully my mom, also chronic pain sufferer, is off on Wednesday and Thursday. Together we make 1/2 of a functioning human being which incidentally is all you need to pull a Thanksgiving dinner together.

Rambling: I’ve got 2 laptops and finally figured out what to do with them.

So I have these two laptops. One of them has no usable internal storage (something I am working on dealing with) and the other is an old beast with missing keys and parts falling off. But plenty of internal storage. Both run Windows 10, but 2 different accounts (and  don’t want to deal with resetting my much hated Acer Cloudbook AGAIN and deal with uninstalling the 10 gigs of bloatware AGAIN and have to deal with Powershell code fuckery AGAIN) so I can’t exactly sync them up. But I really didn’t want to do that anyway.

So, I have these two laptops. The beast machine is my main rig. I do nearly everything on it. Except watch youtube or streaming. It’s so old now that it can hardly keep up with that and it has to buffer a long while before I can watch anything. I do all of my photo editing/artistic stuff on it, and nearly all of my writing. Again, it has much more storage wise than the Cloudbook. I also listen to my music on it. But pretty much my projects are all done on that machine. The Cloudbook is my “travel laptop”. Having a much longer battery life, and weighing roughly 1-2 pounds max, it’s ideal for when I need to go to the laundromat and need something to do. I can do some of my writing on it, via GoogleDrive and Evernote. But I can’t really do anything else but watch Youtube and stream movies.

Well, I finally figured out a good use! I’ve been trying to sort out how to efficiently do my tarot reading online. It requires I have a camera of some sort. Well, being strapped for funds as I always am (we pay bills and provide for our son just fine – comfortable even – but stretching beyond that is dicey as we have a crappy car and other things that we need to be careful of and keep extra money in reserve in case of emergencies. That kind of thing) so I can’t exactly just go buy one. My mom has one she got a few years back, but half the time we can’t find it and the other half the time it’s frustrating as hell having to go through and delete all my pictures after I transfer them to my laptops. And no, I don’t own a smartphone that actually works anymore. The one I do have can only be used while plugged in, and even then I can’t move it because it’ll shut off if the cord is moved too much. So, what do I do?

I recently discovered that my current phone, an LG prepaid flip phone has Bluetooth on it. Windows 10 also has Bluetooth compatibility… provided the device it is on also has compatibility. The beast of a laptop does not have Bluetooth… but the Cloudbook does. Essentially I’m going to be using the Cloudbook for basic blogging (like this), and business related things because I can use my flip phone to take the pics I need, transfer them to the Cloudbook via Bluetooth so that I can put them into the e-mails and such that I need to do to fill in my orders when I get them, or when I do my freebie events on Tumblr.

My clunker beast will be used solely for my projects and hobbies. This will help me manage my time better as well, and will help me dicipline myself to sticking to specific tasks I’ve set out for the day. Such as “Today, I’m only going to work on my novel.” So then I’ll be using the beast all day. Or “Today’s a casual work day!” so I’ll pull out the Cloudbook for streaming while I update my blogs, process payments, do ebay, etc.

At least, that’s the goal at any rate.

Finding My Goddess; or “The path to Hecate was littered with shitty fanfiction. And I wrote most of it.”

I was sitting on my toilet earlier and thinking, as one does when waiting for their loving spouse to locate a roll of toilet paper for those emergency “Why the hell didn’t you replace the roll after using the last of it you dipshit!” situations, when a thought occurred to me that I forgot about until a few minutes ago while browsing Twitter (no, not while on the toilet).

The gods (or God, whatever your belief) come into our lives at such strange times and we often aren’t even aware of it until years later. I’ve said before in passing that Hecate is considered my household’s patron goddess, and has been for my mother and I since before I married. Since before we came back to Georgia in 2010. I’ve also told my long, winding spiritual journey and yadda yadda yadda. That’s the “official” version, at least that’s what I call it. It’s got the main plot points, the important details, but lacks the down to earth, slice of life details and stories between the major plot points. This is one of those little, silly detail stories.

My mother’s a Christian again, but not the sort to completely ignore or rally against what she believed before. It was a natural progression for her, and it makes her happy. And I’m happy that she’s happy, too. But that’s just here for context. Before she returned to Christianity, she worshiped Hecate. And through the part of her life that she did, Hecate was what she needed most. And I am happy that the goddess welcomed her and helped her through a very troubled and dark time of her life in ways that I could not be there for her.

And while I do not consider myself a devotee and have her as my main deity – she is among my personal pantheon and does fill the role of primary goddess in it, with Death itself as the god role (which for my personal spiritual practice takes a more prevalent position in my worship. More on THAT in another post on another day). So, in my practice and worship, she’s around and pops up when she feels she needs to.

But it occurred to me earlier, and again right before making this post, that I was drawn to Her long before I knew anything about paganism beyond basic Greek and Roman mythology we learn in grade school.  Bizarrely, this particular stroll down memory lane takes a sudden and sharp turn into the world of Fanfiction. I’ve mentioned before that I write the stuff (but I do not post it to this blog). But first, a bit of context as to how this links up with the rest.

I love books and I love learning (despite what all of my teachers in the past were led to believe). I would think of a subject, and look it up in the dictionary, then thesaurus, and eventually the encyclopedia. When I had a chance to go to the library, I’d take a notebook and just do as much research from as many different sources as I could. I didn’t have to, no one made me, but I just did it. I would devote entire summers to learning about a subject as much as I possibly could. This continued from second grade all the way up until part way through college and I had a job that took most of my time away from my academic leanings.

In 1997, my family got our first computer through the Finger-Hut catalogue. Technically it was my mom’s, but we kids were allowed to use it for school and a little bit for the internet (mostly, again, for school). A family friend set it up for us, and he gave us some nifty programs for it, too. One of them was an encyclopedia program. Needless to say I was the most excited of all of us over that one. Mind you, Wikipedia would not be launched until 2001. So this program that I got for free was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. The summer of ’98 I used that encyclopedia program to do a lot of reading. Every subject I could think of until finally, I settled on Greek and Roman mythology. At the time I already had a basic grasp on it, a little more than my peers, but only because my favorite anime or all time had been (and still is) Sailor Moon, who’s characters’ super heroine forms are named after the planets and have attacks based partly on the elements and partly on the particular gods/goddesses associated with their planet (except Saturn and Pluto. That one gets a little weird and mixed up – but the rest are pretty close to the mythical origins to an extent). It was also around this time I discovered… Fanfiction. See, I told you it would all connect together.

One of the main plot points of Sailor Moon is the love story between Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom and Prince Endymion of planet Earth. I had never heard the name Endymion before, so I was curious to see if like many other aspects of the show, it was based on mythology. Imagine my middle school aged surprise to learn there was more than on goddess of and/or associated with the moon. I read up about the Selene and Endymion myth, which led me to an entry about moon goddesses in general. This entry, of course, led me to Artemis and Diana (funny enough, the names of 2 of the 3 talking cats on the show). However… in a footnote among other articles and names of gods and goddesses in the “See Also:” section was Hecate. I’d already decided to go through every entry even remotely linked to Greek and Roman mythology that I could uncover, but that entry in particular caught my interest.

And later that summer, when I decided to try my hand at Fanfiction, it was with my fanmade character Sailor Dark Moon, Princess Hecate. A dark and edgy version of Sailor Moon who came from the dark side of the moon. Yes, very original, I know. Go ahead and get your giggles out now.

Take a breath. How about some water? Need a bit of air?

You good now? No?

I’ll give you another minute to compose yourself.

Okay. Let’s continue. Yes, that was a very awkward period of my life and I am insanely grateful that I never committed any of THAT fanfiction to digital format. The handwritten stories that were circulated among my friends now no longer exist, thank the gods. I burned every single last copy. The take-away from that experience though is that I devoured the information more than I had any other of the gods and goddesses in the encyclopedia at the time. And over the years, when I happened to come across information regarding Hecate, I’d read through it. I didn’t seek it out though. Just one of those “Hey, random article about this subject cites this other article about Hecate. Neat. Wonder if there’s anything in the Hecate article I don’t already know.” And so I’d click it to read it. But I never went out of my way to look for information after that summer.

Well, after that summer, I really didn’t want to go to church anymore. I wanted to branch out and explore other beliefs. But at the time, my hands were tied and I kinda had to go to church if I wanted anywhere to go out and do. It was the only way we could afford things like bowling or skating at the skating rink, etc, as part of church trips. A few years later, around early 2000, I didn’t have to go to church anymore, and this afforded me the freedom to explore other beliefs. So I read a lot. Went to the library, and checked out any book I could about all kinds of beliefs. At the time my library wasn’t even close to being as big as it is now, but it was better than nothing. It was nice. Of course, I looked up old Hecate when I explored Greek/Roman polytheism and at the time it really didn’t connect with me all that much. Still, it was an interesting read to me at the time.

A few years later in early 2003 (my 16th birthday no less) my family moved to Florida. Much of the first few weeks I try to block out of my mind. However, where we lived – we were very close to a little store within walking distance of my house called The Purple Door. And it was run by a nice Wiccan named Gretchen. It had all manner of pagan stuff, and it was here that my mom found her path, or rather, the path that was needed most at the time. We stopped in just because “Hey, there’s this place that literally has a purple door.  They’ve got neat stuff in the window. Let’s stop in and see what they do there since we have time to kill today.” and it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it really was. My mom went back, bought a couple of books. Talked with Gretchen a bit. Of all my mom’s kids I was really the only one who had an interest in her newfound spirituality because I was the only one who’d really tried to branch out and find something new for myself. And I felt she needed at least someone in the family who was supportive of her in this regard that she could talk to with no judgements. She experimented with different gods and goddesses, until at last she had settled on with Hecate. Boy was she surprised when she told me about Hecate and I went and told her even more (at least in the academic sense).

At the time I remember thinking it was pretty funny because of my silly little Sailor Moon fanfictions that were inspired by Hecate. And while she wasn’t exactly one of my personal pantheon at the time, she was still an influential deity of my spiritual life at the time because she was the one to which my mom turned in her faith and belief (alongside Hestia and other home-maker type goddesses to a lesser degree).

Ten years later, after meeting my husband and right around when we started dating (right before we “officially” started dating. He actually courted me. It was cute. This next bit is during that “courting” period which lasted about 2 weeks) I’m over at his and his mother’s house for dinner. Somehow we got on the topic of spirituality and witchcraft and Wicca in general (I must note, by this time I firmly identified as not Wiccan) and something I said must have impressed his mother quite a bit because she actually started going pretty in-depth into the topic with me, and later said it was a better conversation on the subject than she’s ever had with any of my then-almost-boyfriend’s past girlfriends. And of course, given the subject matter, Hecate’s name came up. She might have been impressed with the fact I didn’t do full on woo-woo new age sparkly glitter about the sparkly glitter version of Hecate that most of the fluffy woo-woo types go on about, and more on the realistic expectation of personal belief plus the academic perspective. At least, I like to think that’s what it might have been. I know she was surprised that I knew some stuff that typically doesn’t come up on a surface level Google search. Whatever it was, she was satisfied that I gave the goddess her proper respect and reverence, so I guess that’s a tick in a win column somewhere.

But thinking back on all of that, earlier today, it makes me want to giggle. Because again, you never know when the deities you may or may not believe in will step in, make themselves known, and then just kinda poke their head in from time to time whether or not you actually believe in them. Needless to say, by 2013 Hecate had become part of my personal pantheon as the main goddess among them, where she continues to be to this day.

But it’s just a little funny that for me, the road to Hecate started not with a dire need for something to believe in. Nor was it a deep spiritual devotion and hours upon hours of meditation. It started with a 1997 no-name computer from a mail order catalogue, with 1997 encyclopedia software, and an obsession with the anime Sailor Moon.

Emotions or “Why I, a US citizen, avoid July 4th. And no, it’s not because I’m a commie bastard.”

Not written here for a bit. There’s a few reasons for that. Life gets in the way, as per usual. But in this case it was more of an emotional/psychological bit of thing going on. Since 2010, the 4th of July has always been hard for me to handle and deal with, and in the last few years it’s been especially bad emotionally, for different reasons.

Growing up, July 4th was never just America’s Independence Day. It was my father’s birthday as well. My dad was born in Cuba, and came to the US when he was (I think) 9 years old. He always thought it was funny and really cool that his birthday was Independence Day. We always had cake, usually some variation of red, white, and blue in some way. Some years we even had actual sparklers on the cake. Cookouts every year, rain or shine. If it were raining then… well, the basement door, which was more of a giant garage door, would be opened up and set to an angle. The grill placed just below it, technically outside, but just barely.

Life was so very far from peachy, especially the last 10 years before my mom and I left my dad in Florida. Often for holidays, even his birthday, entire dinners would be thrown into the trash because he didn’t tell any of us he was going to head over to his sisters for the entire evening instead of come home for the holiday meal. And none of us were allowed to touch the dinner until he was home There were a lot of problems then – ones that most parties that are still alive agree could have been handled better. And pretty much all of us were suffering from mental illness in one form or another.

So to say that holidays for me are rough is an understatement. I’ve managed to work through my issues with nearly all of the standard holidays because those were easier to deal with. They were JUST holidays. Many of which I’m able to focus on other people for. Christmas? Spoil my kid rotten. Halloween? Take my kid out trick-or-treating! Easter? Here comes the easter bunny! New Years? Valentines? Father’s Day? Focus on my husband. Celebrate fresh starts and new ideas with him. Celebrate the fact that Valentine’s is exactly one week after the anniversary of when we started dating. Father’s Day is for dads, and my husband is my kid’s dad. Mother’s Day? Hey I’m a mom, and so is my mom! Thanksgiving? Surround myself with my family. St. Patrick’s Day? My husband’s part Irish and likes to drink so why the fuck not. (Unlike most on St. Patrick’s Day my husband actually IS part Irish, not just claiming to be. He’s also part Sicilian and has a blood card somewhere for Cherokee so, that’s a fun combination.)

But… Independence Day is much harder for me to refocus. Had the story simply ended in 2010 with my mom and I leaving, I think I could have been able to refocus it easier. But… in 2013 my life changed in a huge way. And by 2014, my perspective on many things had changed. I now finally could see things from the other side, and I regretted a LOT of things I had said and done, especially to those of my family I left behind in Florida. But mostly my dad. The last thing I ever said to him was on the phone after receiving a letter from him. I used someone else’s phone so he wouldn’t have my number to reach me. I told him I hated him, and never wanted him to contact me again. That I didn’t need him and I was happier without him. That was roughly a week after I started dating my husband in 2013.

And to this day it eats me alive knowing that’s the last thing I said to him. Later that year, he had a massive mental breakdown, resulting in his inability for quite some time to recognize anyone, even my baby sister who had been stuck taking care of him. He had the breakdown around the time I started telling people I was pregnant (I was a few months along at that point) and I had made it known that I didn’t want him to know, that I didn’t want him to know anything about me or my life. I don’t know if he ever found out or not. After my son was born, I did try to make amends the only way I knew how. But I didn’t have a good phone number for him. I didn’t even know if he still lived at the address he was at when I left after staying with him for six months looking or work in 2011. I contacted a sister of mine, to ensure I had the right address. I sent him a card, apologizing for my actions and words and acknowledging that I had hurt him in such a way that no one should ever hurt another, let alone their parent. I sent a picture of myself and my son, and my son and my husband with the card. I don’t even know if he ever received it – as I came to find out later that he wasn’t at that address anymore.

He died a few years ago.

Heart failure, from what I understand.

I’m not making this post for pity or sympathy. I want to make that VERY clear right damn now. Just…  just trying to work out my feelings and put them into better words than I did for my therapist on Friday when I brought it up with her. The closer the calendar gets to July 4th, the more withdrawn I tend to become. And after the holiday, it takes me a bit to re-enter the world so to speak. I try to separate my personal feelings from the actual holiday of Independence Day, and I do the typical Fourth of July activities. Cookouts. Burgers and hotdogs. Lots of soda. Fireworks. Oh the fireworks. My son loves the fountains, but hates the fountains that have all the popper in them. The noise is jarring for him and frightening. He finally got to watch some this year without freaking out too badly. He actually started getting excited for some that he liked when we had more than one of that type. But even as I do these standard, regular holiday activities, the memory of my dad is nagging at the back of my mind. And the harder I push it away, the stronger it is and the harder it is to push it away at all. I also tend to avoid social media the closer it gets, and on the day of, and immediately following, because of family members.

One of my sisters visited his grave marker on his birthday. She took pictures, and wrote a touching post about him and honestly I can’t fault her for that. He was her dad, too. And I’m genuinely glad that she can speak well of him. And that she celebrates his birthday on the 4th of July with joy and laughter and so much life. I want that for myself, but I know it’s a long road yet for me to work through all of this baggage and let it go.

I am optimistic. One day, I’ll be able to wake up on July 4th and not dread the day. Not dwell on my regrets and the might-have-been and maybe even share funny stories with my kid about his grandpa on his birthday (especially the funny birthday stories like the time we found out or next door neighbor was also born on the 4th of July!). One day I’ll face the day and not feel the need to hide in the kitchen and cook so I can hide any tears by cutting up an onion for burgers. But I’m taking it a year at a time. It’s all that I can do, really. In the meantime, I’m gonna make pies or Jello. Cook up some burgers and brats. Crack open a cold can of Pepsi (fuck you, I like Pepsi!) and watch my husband as he fails to blow himself up with the fireworks I bought at the actual fireworks store we have in town now.

Rambling: Cigarette Ash and Clock Radios

There are times I yearn for my teenage and early adult years. No, not the depression and anxiety. The stress of high school/college. The near death experiences and occasional hospitalizations. More I yearn for that period of creativity that I had.

I yearn for the late nights spent up well past my bedtime, during punishments of not being allowed internet because of bad grades, typing away at my old 1997 off-brand computer from FingerHut. The once pristine white casing stained yellow from years of cigarette smoke and tar that no amount of cleaner or bleach could clean or scrub away.

The bright light of the old hulking monitor as my clock radio played beside me. My window cracked as I smoked the cigarette butts that I had foraged from my parents’ ash trays when I thought they weren’t looking (but they knew). The heavy smell of cigarette smoke and eucalyptus incense that I burned in my room nearly day and night.

The first light of dawn as I realized what time it was and had to rush to get dressed for school – racing to the bus stop on less than an hour’s sleep because I was up all night writing.

The seeming unending inspiration as I jamed out to my stolen Linkin Park cds (stolen from my sister, not the store.).  The 1 foot tall stack of disks that held all my stories, my books, my poetry, my notes and research for my stories.

To this day, I can’t make a single playlist to listen to for my writing that does not include every single song from Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory and Meteora albums – because their music just always hits the right buttons for my creative streak. They are both my muse and my soundtrack for life itself.

I mean, I’m happy with my life as it is, and where I am in it. The people I still have in my life and the people that have come into it.But there are some days, some nights like tonight that I can’t help but long for those old days when it was just a blank Notepad file, the blinking red of a clock radio with the time still not re-set after a power flicker, and my own thoughts in the dark before the bright, brilliant screen of a 10lb late 90s computer monitor.

Ramble: Eliciting Emotion Without Details

Recently I posted 3 new chapters to a fanfiction I’ve been writing for a rather long time now (no, I’m not going to link it. It’s embarrassing. If you happen to find it though… well… anyway). These chapters dealt with some very harsh, dark themes such as rape, torture, mental fuckery – among others. One of my favorite readers, who leaves reviews nearly every update, mentioned this in one of her latest comments:

“You weren’t kidding about there being hard things in this chapter, but you did a good job of having us feel the horror without needing to go into gruesome detail.”

And it got me thinking about all of the stories I’ve read over the years that I can remember. Both in regular and in fanfiction And I’ve come to realize that many of the stories I have enjoyed the most leave a great many details up to the reader’s imagination. While yes the basic description of characters and scenes are given, or building up to an event and using language to direct the reader to experience a certain emotion, stories that suddenly jumpcut immediately after making it clear what is about to happen, but not having you read the gruesome detail (especially in horror and suspense situations) – those to me are the best. Not only does it allow every reader to have their own personal experience with the work, but there is nothing more frightening than the worst possible things we can imagine. Perhaps the scene was leading us to believe that a favorite character was about to be tortured to death, but then didn’t let us see/read the torture taking place. When we read the segment that the character appears in afterwards, perhaps having escaped their jailers, how they are described and appear will guide us to imagine the things that may have happened to them. Perhaps the reader is more afraid of water torture – they may imagine that’s taken place to the hero. Or maybe starvation and beating? They’ll imagine that THAT is what may have happened to them.

But later still in the story, the hero may confide in their best friend or lover what truly took place in the jail/dungeon/cavern, etc. And how relieved the reader is that what they feared most wasn’t the thing that has happened… Or, for those who imagined correctly, the overwhelming empathy the reader feels for the hero. This method, which I honestly unintentionally used in my piddling little fanfiction, makes the reader more emotionally invested in the story, and in a way makes them feel like they are part of it. And when a reader becomes so invested in the story, they will keep reading.

That’s my take on it, for what it’s worth anyway.

Ramble: Small Town Blues

I have a love-hate relationship with small towns. When I lived in Debary, then later Deltona, FL I loved it. They were small in their own right, but smushed together so closely it felt like a larger city. It was perfect, really. And had easy access to anything I needed via public transit. The town I currently live in, the town where I grew up… I love it because it’s so peaceful (usually) and reasonably quiet. It’s a kind of place where everyone either knows everyone, or you know of them enough to wave and say hi, have a great day.

But at the same time, it is this “everyone knows everyone” aspect that I hate. It’s the inconvenience when there is no public transit that I hate. It’s the inconvenience of everything being so spread out that I hate. Being such a small town that if I want to catch a special showing, one night only event at a movie theatre, I have to drive out to Rome or Atlanta to do so (Rome is about 45mins to an hour away; Atlanta is abut 2-3 hours depending on traffic).

But most of all, it’s the higher likelihood of bumping into people you’re not exactly fond of (to put it lightly) when you step out the front door. This has happened to me exactly 3 times in the month.

First, my husband and I bumped into a guy we both met around the same time in 2013. We’ll call him, uh, “Rob”. When we each met Rob, he was in a long term relationship. But he and his girlfriend wanted more. They wanted to be in an open relationship. And hey, that’s fine. I got no right to judge. Well, turns out that Rob wanted me to be his fool around buddy. Just like his girlfriend, we’ll call her “Margo” had already hooked up with the man that later I would end up with. (It must be noted at the time that my husband and I were not dating yet. We were both single. It must also be noted that meeting him and these 2 people, and when we DID start dating happened in the span of 2 weeks.) Between meeting my husband, and meeting these two people, whom he met at the same time, and when my husband and I started dating, the following happened: Rob and Margo fought daily, resulting in a domestic violence situation. Margo pulled a knife on Rob. Rob pulled a knife on Margo. Margo lost her shit and pulled a knife on the landlord. Rob repeatedly tried to get into my now mother-in-law’s pants (despite her frequent protestations of being a lesbian), continuously tried to flirt with me and having the goal of sleeping with me, and Margo doing the pants off tango with my future husband (again, during this 2 week period, my husband and I were NOT dating one another, and I didn’t really care what all he did because he was just a friend). This resulted in false claims of abuse, rape, and a fake pregnancy. This all came out at the end of 2 weeks when Margo’s aunt tried to step in and defend her niece, only to discover it was 100% made up and she slept with someone else of her own free will, was not pregnant, and was the primary abuser in her own domestic situation. And that ALL of the drama stemmed from the fact that she got booty outside of their “open” relationship while Rob was continuously turned down and rejected… because it was Rob’s idea in the first place.

Needless to say, it was rather awkward seeing Rob again after nearly 4 years – jobless, homeless, and with another woman. We gave him $2. I told him about different places in town that were hiring, and then husband and I quickly went on our way to Gamestop, then dinner. This encounter reminded me to appreciate my relationship with my husband, and our narrow escape from the drama llamas that were Margo and Rob.

Next up, we’ll call her “Penny”. Penny was my brother’s fiance up until his death in January 2014. Generally a decent person, we lived with her after my son was born, up until August of 2014. While she herself is generally decent, one of her kids caused multiple problems while we were living there, resulting in potential legal issues simply because we happened to live with her. Penny’s daughter, however, was taken into the foster care system for reasons I’ll not divulge. Penny is a decent parent, but her daughter is an out of control fucking monster. Penny knows this. However, Penny also lied to us about the situation and tried to use us as a shield so that her daughter could not move back in. She also lied to us about how her court proceedings would affect us – this resulted in us having to move out in 2 weeks or less with no notice. She was upset that we didn’t pay the next month’s rent… rent and all utility bills for a place we would no longer be living in. What we DID do was give her our share of the utilities up to the point we moved out, even though we were under no obligation to do so. And rather than hand the money over to her like she had wanted, we went directly to the offices and paid only our share, leaving the rest for her to deal with. She had also lied and said the landlord had not wanted to add our names to the lease. After we moved out and were settled in, I contacted the landlord. He was surprised to learn we had moved out, as he had been expecting Penny to be moving out and us to take over with a new lease. He had also been willing to lower the rent because my husband was on disability.

Well… I bumped into Penny oh, about a week ago at the laundromat. First time I’ve seen her, really, since we moved out. Life has not been kind to her. That daughter I mentioned? Made Penny a grandmother, and Penny is raising the baby. She’d bought a trailer, and had to give it up again. Her mother, last I knew, lived on her own in low income housing. A nice little place, too. Now she lives with Penny and her roommate. In the time since we moved out, with the exception of my Asshole Neighbor Eddie and my older sister whom I’ve written about before, we’ve actually been doing much better physically, emotionally, and financially. Our lives have been more stable, and less drama filled (again, with the exception of the 2 things mentioned above). Bumping into her made me remember to appreciate what I have gained and what I have.

And lastly… that dastardly sister who lived with me for a good chunk of 2015 (as read about in my Word to the Wise series of posts…) For those who don’t want to read that clusterfuck, here’s the long and short f it. I let my sister move in, in good faith that she would maintain the progress that she had made, and look for a job. Four months or thereabouts fly by, I’ve had enough, tell her to get a job. All hell breaks loose and we end up falsely imprisoned in our own home, scared out f our minds, and she threatens to have my child taken away for the sole fact that she had her kids taken from her and I made her upset by telling her to get a job or get out. We finally managed to kick her out. But the lasting damage to my marriage, and to my mother’s mental state, is still evident. Last we knew, she had gone to Savannah. We haven’t seen her since my mom stopped by her motel a few days after we kicked her out, to let her know my dad was dead.

Well… I saw her Saturday. Same laundromat as Penny. Thankfully, unlike with Penny, I was already done and loading up my car when she showed up. I noticed her getting out of a car that happened to have parked right in front of me. I was halfway through loading up my car when she came back out of the laundromat and called me out by name to say hi. Needless to say, given her history with me, I wanted out of there ASAP. I did try to be kind-of polite because hey, we were in a public place. But still… it had me rather shaken up. If I was a drinker, Saturday is the day I would have switched from beer to whisky, that’s for certain.

So what did I learn from THAT encounter? Well… it might be time to look for another laundromat. Unfortunately, that one is the only one with free wifi.

Ah, higher frequency of awkward and unwanted reunions. Such is the price we pay for quieter, more relaxed and peaceful living.