Monday, January 31, 2011

Hanging on to the Happy

I've been dealing with some difficult internal stuff this past week, and there have been a few things that have saved me.

1) Comfort food.  Last night I made a Mexican casserole that I used to make in Houston.  It wasn't quite how I'd have done it if I were working from scratch (I'd rather start off with chicken and rotel in the crockpot instead of left over cooked chicken), but it was still pretty good and a taste of home.  Then I made a Strawberry Dream Pie.  Tonight Mom made mashed potatoes and gravy just for me.  Yum.  I had a bowl for a midnight snack, too.

2) I'm reading a really fantastic book called A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Really.  It's fab.  I'll be reviewing it soon.  I'm about half way through the book, only 275 more pages to go.  It's a big 'un.

3) I've been listening to a LOT of Katy Perry.  Very peppy.  My favorite is Teenage Dream.  But I don't love the video, so here is the boys' choir from Glee doing their version.  Hope it makes you as happy as it makes me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy, Happy Day!

The doorbell rang a few minutes ago.  FedEx delivery.  It was addressed to me, although I wasn't expecting anything.  I open the package, and lo and behold-- medicine!  Three months worth of Lyrica, free!  That's almost $750 retail.  I sent in paperwork to Pfizer's patient assistance program a couple weeks ago, and they've already sent me my first shipment.  Thank you, Pfizer!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If I Had a Million Dollars

I have a rich fantasy life.  Lately I've been imagining what I would do if I won the lottery.  The short answer is that I'd move back to Houston.  I'd buy a little house and I'd get set back up with my old doctors and go back to my old life.  (Mom has been nagging me about getting on the ball and finding new specialists.  I know I have to, but I don't wanna.)

Then, I would buy a car, because I really miss having my own wheels.  I loved my old Camry, but if I won the lottery and had virtually unlimited funds, I think I'd buy a hybrid.  Houston may be oil country, but I really like the idea of spending less on gas.  And while I'm going green, I'd want solar panels on my house.

I'd hire someone to come in and do all the cleaning and maybe some cooking.  I'm just too run down to keep up with that kind of stuff, even if I didn't hate cleaning and avoid it whenever possible.

And then the biggest thing, the one that probably won't be practical even if someone handed me a million dollars right now, is that I'd travel.  I'd love to head out to California and go to the RT convention.  I'd like to go to NYC to the RWA convention.  I love all things Disney, and I'd love to go to Disney World again.  I haven't been there since I was a freshman in high school.  They've opened like three new parks since then.  I'm pretty sure that just one of those trips would leave me scary exhausted, let alone doing all three this year.  Maybe it's a good thing I'm broke.

On a smaller scale, when/if the government ever comes through and decides to pay me my social security, I'd like to take some of the back benefits they owe me and buy some bright yellow paint and get rid of this drab gray/purple color on my bedroom walls.  (This dingy room is enough to depress a person all by itself.)  I'd like to get some sort of media cabinet organization thingie so that I have something to unpack what little stuff I have into.  More yellow paint for my bathroom.  And maybe some new towels and bed linens.  (Not yellow.  I'm thinking blue for the bed and bright pink and green for the towels, to go with my flamingo shower curtain.)

My realistic fantasies are much more modest than my fantasy fantasies, but at the moment they're all out of reach.  Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets.

Friday, January 21, 2011


We're having a problem here at Multi-Generational Housing Solution Central, and it's really getting to me.  A couple weeks ago Mom bought a package of hot dog buns and left them sitting on the kitchen table instead of putting them away in the pantry or refrigerator.  Later that evening, while everyone was watching TV, Trouble jumped up on the kitchen table and chewed a big hole in the package, eating a good part of four of the eight buns in the pack.

Mom lost her shit.  She cleaned up the mess, and then she came into my room, where I was sitting watching TV and Troub was sleeping on the bed, and started yelling at him.  Mom is loud anyway, because she's losing her hearing, but this was right up in his face, shaking her finger at him, loud.  He tried to back up a bit, she just kept coming.  So he hissed at her.  She gave him a little tap on the rump and kept yelling.  He hissed again, she hit him a little harder and kept yelling.  He hissed louder, and she really started whaling on him.  At this point I started yelling, and Mom backed off enough for Troub to get under the bed and hide.  Then she tried to come around the bed and go after him again.  Can we say out of proportion response for a $2.50 pack of buns?  I had to chase her out of my room to get her to leave him alone.  And he'd been sleeping on my bed for at least 45 minutes before she came in screaming, so he probably had no idea why she was suddenly attacking him.

Now it's weeks later, and Troub still hisses and runs away every time she comes into my room.  It doesn't help that she insists on making eye contact and pushing his personal space boundaries.  She seems to be taking a nasty pleasure in tormenting him, and when I pointed out today that he's still upset about what she did (after she came in and chased him off AGAIN), she said she's still upset about what HE did.  Dude.  He wrecked a package of hot dog buns.  Get a grip.  If it's such a big fucking deal I will buy you another pack of fucking buns.  When I pointed out that Troub has a right to not be hassled in his own space, she said something to the effect of "It's not his space, it's my space."  So much for the whole "it's your home, too," speech I keep getting.

I never thought I'd have this kind of problem when we all moved in together.  It's bad enough that I feel like I can't get a moment's peace, with her constantly poking her nose in my room and sometimes just opening the door and walking in.  (What does a closed door say to you?)  But I can't tolerate her hassling my cat anymore.  I don't know how I'm going to handle this.  She's proven to be completely impervious to hints and subtle suggestions.  I'm going to have to get forceful about it, and probably about her leaving me the hell alone while I'm at it.  We both have a right to be left in peace when we've retreated to our room-- the only place in the house that is supposed to be just for us.  (I can't even get her to leave me alone in the bathroom!)  The only outcome I can see of this conversation is for her to get all cranky and butthurt and even worse.  And if I don't find a good way of doing this soon I'm going to end up snapping and saying it in the rudest way possible.  But I'm sorry, the way she's behaving is not OK.

ETA: Mom walked into my room a few minutes ago and asked, "are you mad at me?"  I told her I wasn't happy about how she was acting with Troub.  First she starts on, "well, he's just a cat," and then she changed the subject and walked out.  Now she's crashing around in the kitchen.  If she doesn't take it easy she's going to break something.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Country, Part II

I started this as a response to Julie's comment on the last post, but it grew until it just seemed smarter to create a whole new post for it.  So here you go.  Visiting the Christian Book Store, Part II.

I try to keep my snarky opinions to myself in these situations, because as much as I think this stuff is ridiculous, the rest of my family has an honest interest in some of it.  (Not the more junky stuff that I made fun of here, but the books, music, and movies are of definite interest to the fam.  My brother and SIL stood around giggling with me at some of the more out there product offerings, so it's not like they hold the scripture covered lolly pops as sacred or anything.)  They've all been amazingly good about not pressuring me to attend church.  I don't want to repay that with even the appearance of ridiculing their beliefs.

Underneath all the eye rolling, I'm kind of disturbed by what stores like this represent.  Christian merchandising is a multi-million dollar enterprise, and to me it just feels really cynical and oily.  I can't shake the idea that the people who make and sell most of this stuff do it only because they know they can sell anything if they can find a way to make it "Christian."  And a whole group of people who are too young in age, too new in their faith, or just gullible are gobbling it up as fast as they can crank out some new piece of crap.

I know that there are New Age stores doing much the same thing.  It's not restricted to the Christian market.  And maybe I'm letting my prejudices show here.  But it just seems so much more overwhelming in the Christian community.  Did you know that churches, especially mega churches (Texas is the land of the mega church, so I have some unfortunate experience of this), have gift shops now.  You can get mugs or tshirts or bottled water with the church's name and logo on them.  And signed copies of the minister's latest book.

The prices on all this stuff are outrageous, too.  My parents joined a Bible study at church, and although there are three Bibles on the bookshelf in the living room right now, none of them are the translation they needed, and they have a couple of expensive study Bibles still packed somewhere, but who knows where they are?  So Mom went to a different Christian store last week and bought two more Bibles, one for each of them.  She lucked out and the store had some on clearance.  She got two copies at 50% off.  She still paid $50 for the pair.  That means each Bible was originally priced at $50.  That's a lotta moolah for a book that's been in print for hundreds of years and could be downloaded as a free ebook from Amazon.  (That's not a judgement on how they choose to spend their money.  That's outrage at greedy publishers and store owners who choose to ask that kind of money.)

I know I made fun of all of this yesterday, but it just makes me sick when I see people being taken advantage of in the name of faith.  I know there are other things my parents could have done with that $50, but they felt they had to spend that money to participate fully in their faith.  The lady in line ahead of me at the store last night bought $90 worth of stuff.  I honestly have no idea what she bought, I was busy goofing off with my brother and SIL at that point and just happened to hear the cashier give her the total.  But she definitely looked like she could have put that $90 elsewhere.  Like maybe shampoo.  (Not that I have a lot of room to talk.  I woke up this morning looking like Helena Bonham Carter at the Golden Globes.)  Again, I'm not judging anyone's choice in how they spend their money.  I'm mad at the church culture that pressures people to have these books to participate in their religion, and the stores and publishers that set the prices so high, knowing that there are people who will pay their prices no matter what.

Are those supposed to be dreads or what?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My visit to a foreign land

Today I went out to dinner with my parents and brother and sister-in-law.  But before we went to the restaurant, my SIL had coupons that were about to expire for a local Christian store.  I didn't burst into flames upon crossing the threshold of the store, so I decided to look around a bit and report what I saw.

First of all, let me just say, there is a lot of Christian crap out there.  There were a million books, including Christian weight loss and Sarah Palin's latest.  My dad picked up a copy of George W's book, and I was a very good girl.  I didn't once stick my finger down my throat and make gagging noises, even though I wanted to.

There were CDs and DVDs.  There were wall hangings and statues and tchotchkes of all kinds.  They had cards, which wasn't surprising, but they also had boxes of children's valentines.  They had gift bags with Christ-centered messages on them.  Children's toys.  I spotted a box of Bible Scrabble.  I'm not sure what the difference between that and regular Scrabble is.  Maybe the dirty words don't count, or the "no proper nouns" rule is waved and you get to use names from the Bible, like Habakkuk or Abednego.

What was most odd to me were the items that were trying to ape secular crazes.  Like Faith Bands- a Biblical version of silly bandz.  This dog tag amused me.  It says, "thelight", but the font used makes it look an awful lot like Twilight merchandising.

And this was quite possibly the weirdest item I spotted: 

It's the Solar Powered Praise Flower!  (The ones they sold had words like Love or Hope printed on the base, along with a scripture reference.)  These flowers sit on your desk or windowsill and just sort of... sway.  Bounce.  Cute, but kind of weird.  And other than the reference to the Bible verse, I'm not sure what makes it a Praise Flower as opposed to just a plain old flower.

So, that was my trip to the Christian bookstore.  Nothing caught fire, and I entertained myself by laughing (quietly, I hope) at all the odd things that people will buy if you slap a cross on it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Things That Make Me Happy

There has been a dearth of happy in the world in the last week.  It certainly hasn't been sunshine and rainbows for me.  To me this means only one thing.  It's time to do another Things That Make Me Happy post.

1. Pancakes for dinner.  Especially if they're apple pancakes!
2. My library already has a hold list going for the audio version of The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.  Woo hoo!  I love Sarah Addison Allen, and I can't wait for her next book.
3. Farkle is on it's way out!  I won't share any of the gory details, but I will say I'm relieved to see progress.
4. Sunday Morning!  It's quiet, and I have the house all to myself.  I forward to these hours every week.  I'm dealing with the change in living situation fairly well, I think, but I desperately need these few hours by myself every week.
5. Trouble.  He's a little twerp, but I love him like crazy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Do you ever just feel like a nap?

I took a 3 hour nap one morning this week.  (When your life is one big sick day, you can do those sorts of things.)  It would be lovely to do it again today.  I had a hard time sleeping last night, and when that happens I know I'm going to hurt the next day.  And I do.

But here's the thing-- even those of us whose lives are one big sick day have to leave the house and do stuff occasionally.  On Monday I went to the doctor, and she filled out a bunch of paperwork to get some of my meds for free (hopefully) from the manufacturers.  Everything is all signed and ready to go; I just have to go somewhere to fax it.  We've had snow and bad weather for most of this week, plus I was recovering from Monday, so today is the first day we've had a chance to do it.

I just had a brainwave.  What if, instead of dragging myself out of the house every time I need to fax something (which is fairly regularly), I just BOUGHT A FAX MACHINE.  Between all my medical crap, and Dad's retirement crap, and Mom's Mary Kay crap, I think we can justify the expense.  I tell you what.  I may be a little slow on the uptake these days (shut up), but when inspiration strikes, it really strikes!

Anyway, back to the original topic of this post.  What was it again?  Um, I talked about napping....  I forget what my point was.  (I do this often, which is why there are many posts marked "draft" compared to what's actually posted.)

I'm going to the grocery store with Mom in a little bit.  I want to poke around and put things in the cart that I want.  Just asking for a particular brand of whatever isn't good enough.  Mom and Dad like to talk about when I was little, and I'd constantly say, "I do it myselpst!"  (That's "myself" for those who don't read 2 yr old.)  There's been surprisingly little change in that department in the last 34 years.  I hurt, and I'd really rather stay home in bed.  But the weather is supposed to turn foul again tomorrow, and this may be my last chance to go out for a few days.  And I want to do it myselpst.

I'm off to research fax machines now.  And then later, after I've had my excursion, I think I'll take a nap.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a Sign

This video cheered me up immensely.

 Also, the doctor's appointment went well.  Antibiotics, but no lancing for now.  I've named my abscess Farkle.  Anything that big really ought to have it's own name.

Off My Game

I'm feeling weepy and out of whack today.  Too much news, too much misery, not enough sleep.  Troubbie the Wonder Cat woke me up at quarter to six this morning wanting to be fed.  (Yes, he's still alive.)  I have a doctor's appointment this morning, and I have something I'm scared to show her.  Think it's an abscess that will need to be lanced, possibly requiring minor surgery and costing a million dollars.  The book I've been reading, The Awakening by L.J. Smith, is angsty and depressing.  Only 50 pages or so to left, and I don't want to go there today.

So what should I read?  I'm seriously considering breaking my self-imposed book buying moratorium and downloading a book for the Kindle.  What do you suggest?  Something happy happy, please.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Accidental Altar

I was unpacking a box of tchotchkes a couple of weeks ago, and I ended up arranging my favorites on the only empty flat surface in my entire room-- my dresser.  It wasn't until a few days later that I realized that it's got the vibe of an altar.

Starting at the top left, there is a picture of my brother and sister-in-law.  (I fuzzed out their faces because I don't have their permission to post a picture of them on the internet.  As far as I know, they don't even know I have this blog.)  In the middle is Flower Annie, my Wee Peeple doll, made by the wonderful Kandra Niagra.  Isn't she beautiful?  I love Wee Peeple dolls.  They have such personality and energy.

Next to Annie is a drawing I made when I was about 10.  We'd just moved to Texas for the first time, and it was the Sesquicentennial.  (150 years of Texas statehood.)  I was the new Yankee girl, but they liked it so much that it was framed and posted in the hall at my middle school for years.  I'm not sure how my parents got a hold of it, but they put it on the wall in the yellow guest bedroom in Massachusetts (which was briefly my bedroom).  I think because the frame is yellow, so it matched the room.

Coming around the corner, there is a little pixie box I've had since I was a little girl.  It's sitting in a wooden bowl that my dad carved.  I'm not sure why it's sitting in the bowl, but when I took it out it didn't look right to me, so back in it went.  Next to the pixie box is a large shell I got once on a trip to the beach in Galveston.  The beach is kind of a special place to me.  (I'm a Scorpio.  That's a water sign, so I guess that makes sense.)    I always feel more relaxed at the beach.  Like I can exhale.  All my muscles unknot and I sleep better.  If I ever win the lottery I'm buying a house on the beach.

In front of the pixie box there's a crystal that I love.  When I did have an official altar I used it to represent the energy of the God.  There's also a pretty little shell that I found once walking on the beach.  In the bottom right corner is a little dish given to me by a friend.  She used to read cards at the Texas Renaissance Festival, and she used the dish as a tip jar.  I know you can't tell from the picture, but it has suns and moons and stars all around the edge.  In the dish is the fortune I got in my fortune cookie when we had Chinese food New Year's Eve.  It says, "A new romance is in the future."  I'd say that's pretty accurate, since a romance novel that I'd pre-ordered downloaded to my Kindle on January 1st.

Next to the bowl is a plastic canvas coaster I made for my parents.  Their living room in Massachusetts was painted barn red and tan, with black accents.  I made about a dozen of them in different quilt block designs, and I made that one, with a black cat on it, to represent my cat, Trouble.  Mom and Dad love him to bits, and Mom calls him her grandson, so I thought they'd like it.  I stole that one in Massachusetts so that I had something to put my sweating drinks on in my bedroom.  Somehow it never got put back with the rest of the coasters when we packed.

In the center, in front of Flower Annie, is a little frame that used to sit on my grandfather's nightstand.  On the left side there's a picture of my mom as a little girl in her Girl Scout uniform.  (You can't really see it because of the glare.)  We looked so much alike at that age, that I asked my granddad once when that picture was taken, because I didn't remember doing it.  I thought it was me.  There used to be a little picture of her brother, my Uncle George, tucked in there, too, but it slipped out.  It's probably still in the box the frame was packed in for the move.  I need to look around for it, because I don't want to lose it.  On the other side is a picture of my grandmother and grandfather.  I can see that picture from my bed, and it makes me happy to be able to look at them.

In front of the frame is my mascot, Super Becky.  When I was a freshman in college I went into a Hallmark store around Halloween, and I spotted these cute little miniatures.  My roommate and best friend is a huge fan of dragons, and I found a puppy in a dragon costume for her.  For me I found a bunny in a super hero costume, with a capital B on his chest.  I immediately knew his name was Super Becky.  (Don't ask me why Super Becky is male.  It makes no sense.  But it is what it is.)  I don't know how I managed to hang on to Super Becky for almost 20 years now without losing him.  As you can see, he's pretty small.  But I have.

Moving on to the left, there's a pretty little porcelain box that I got as a favor at a birthday party when I was in elementary school.  It's got a butterfly on top and my name written in liquid gold on the front.  I always thought it was the coolest thing.  Next to that there is an old-style Weeble Wobble.  I was at my grandparents house one day, and I decided to give it to Grandmom.  She was so touched that I gave her one of my toys that she kept it forever after on display in her china cabinet with all her other treasures.  I never had the heart to tell her that my 5 year-old self decided that he was the grumpy one, and I didn't want him any more.  It kind of makes me laugh now.  I still think of him as the grumpy one!

The stack of stones in the bottom left corner is something that my brother collected.  I'm not sure why I kept them (I found them on the bookshelf in my room in Massachusetts), but they seem to fit there.  Behind the stones is a little angel that Mom used to put out as a Christmas decoration in my room every year.  I loved to play with her.  One year I kept her, and she lived on a shelf in my apartment in Houston.

Behind the angel is another item that was always on display at my grandmother's house.  I think I mentioned a while back that she was a professional church soloist in Philadelphia.  As you may be able to tell from the little photo that lived on my grandfather's nightstand, Grandmom was also a sizable woman.  This figure looked so much like her that her coworkers gave it to her as a gift when she retired.  I love having this little piece of my grandmother on my dresser.

And the last figure is pretty well obscured by glare, but she is the little statue I used to represent Goddess on my altar.  Here is a site that has a picture of the collection she came from.  The name of the figure is Devotion, and she's just about exactly in the center of the page.  You may notice that the whole collection is a bit, um, Georgia O'Keefe, but I like them.  You can't see it, but there's another little shell at her feet.

And that is my accidental altar.  Little bits and pieces of family and history and places that are important to me.