Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If You're Happy and You Know It

OK, as much as I enjoy rubbernecking, it's time to attempt to be A Better Person again.  So I decided it was time to do another post about things that are making me happy right now.  We haven't had one of those lately, and I have more reason to be happy than I have in a while.

The first thing that's making me happy right now is I Am a Paleontologist by They Might Be Giants.  Someone is using it in a commercial right now, and it makes me want to boogie every time I hear it.

Something else that had me whooping and bouncing on the bed recently was Monday night's episode of The Closer.  Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell) was first presented in the show as a nemesis to Brenda.  Then she shifted to an unlikely ally.  This season she's been revealed to be a pretty valuable supporter, even if Brenda doesn't always know it.  (Chief Pope can seriously bite me.)

Anyway, I loved seeing Raydor lead that chase last night.  And then when she whips out that shotgun?  Whoa, momma.  You go girl!  Definitely one of the most badass moments of the series so far.  And I absolutely loved the look Tao gave her as she was walking away.

If you haven't ever watched The Closer, and you at all enjoy cop shows, I suggest you do what I did a few years ago and rent season one.  It's a fantastic series, and well worth watching.  (Although I'm bummed that this is the last season.)

Happy Thing #3 is that it's looking like I've got at least a little bit of my knitting mojo back!  I hadn't touched the needles in months, until this past weekend.  I poked around on Rav until I found a pattern that looked promising (of course I changed my mind and did something different when the needles actually kissed yarn), and then I hauled out all my sock yarn scrap.  Y'all, I have a boat load of sock yarn scrap.  Three big, overflowing bags of the stuff, and then some.

I sorted out all the scrap, and most of it was sufficiently bright.  So then I sat and watched TV and wound a ginormous ball of scrap yarn, tying on a new color when I came to the end of each scrap.  This thing was easily half again the size of my fist.  When you consider how thin sock yarn is, that's a LOT.  And then I cast on my Shawl of Many Colors.  (It'll probably change names a few times, but that's what it is for the moment.)

After a couple of days, the SoMC is on row 87 or so, and growing all the time.  This pattern isn't super specific.  You get to a certain point and then they give you a general recipe to continue, because the size needed on something like this can vary so much, depending on who it's for an how they want to use it.  I could probably stop right now and have a respectable head scarf.  But I want a full size shawl, which means the wings span is equal to the height of the wearer.  I'm 5'7, so I've got a ways to go.  Fortunately, I'm pretty sure I've got enough sock yarn scrap to make it happen.  But at some point in the not too distant future I'm going to have to start rolling another ball of yarn.

I'd planned to post a picture of this grand masterpiece, but I can't find my camera.  Or the batteries that go in it.  So that's going to have to wait for a day or two.  By then it will be bigger and more colorful and more impressive anyway.

One more thing that I'm really excited about.  There's a challenge coming up in my M/M reading group called the Quarterly Gang Bang.  (Trust me, not as kinky as it sounds.)  Every person who signs up picks a book for each other member, and they all pick books for you.  By the time the picking is done you could have 50-60 titles on your list.  The idea is to read all those books in the next quarter.  The reading part doesn't actually start until October, but sign ups start on Thursday.  I've been wanting to do this for MONTHS, but I felt like I needed to clear out some of the mainstream romance I'd managed to accumulate but not read in the last several years.  I did get some of it read (89 out of 198 books read so far this year were non-m/m), and I hope to knock out a few more in September.  And then the rest of the year will be dedicated to reading as much delicious m/m lovin' as I can handle.  I even have a few holiday reads lined up already.  I've been looking forward to this for a long time, and I can't wait to dive in.

So that's all the happy stuff.  And I know I said I wasn't going to gossip any more, but I just have to mention that we've had our first official *flounce*!  Someone who, by her own admission, left the group for a while and only recently came back, felt the need to declare us all terrible people and announce that she was leaving the group again.  So there!  It was kind of funny, because a) although she claimed we were all rude, her post was by far the most obnoxious one to date, and b)... oh, hell.  I forget what b was.  But anyway, you know you haven't had a good internet kerfluffle until someone loudly declares that they're taking their ball and going home.  I suspect the whole thing will have petered out to nothing by this time tomorrow.

It was all amazingly civil for an internet dust up.  If this had happened on my knitting forum there would have been a pile on, and by the time the mods stepped in the offending parties (not always the original offenders, either) would be ripped to shreds.  A half dozen people would dramatically flounce (only to quietly return next week), and whoever is left when the dust settles would be quietly knitting sweaters from the remains of the deceased.

Knitters are Hardcore.

I couldn't imagine it happening in the Betties.  I mean, I know it could happen anywhere, and we certainly aren't immune to petty scandals.  But accusations?  Histrionics?  I don't see it.

Anyway, that's what's going on with me for the mo.  I'll try to control myself in the future.  And I'll let you know about positive developments.  I'm not quite ready to say anything about them yet (besides, this post is ridiculously long already), but I'll update you when the shift from "things I intend to do" to "things I'm actively doing".  Intention is important, but if you don't follow it up with action you won't get very far.

Lip balm flavor of the day: Gummy Bear

Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm a rotten person

There's an online group that I follow (for the handful of people who actually read my blog-- it's not the one you're thinking of), and it's experiencing a bit of a crisis.  It turns out that two very popular members have been at best misrepresenting themselves and at worst may be completely fictional.  And now a third, equally popular member has just announced he's going radio silent for a while.  Not that that's not a perfectly legit thing to do.  Shit happens, and real life always trumps internet life.  But the timing is suspicious.  (And now I've discovered there is a fourth member who is supposedly related to guy number three, so if Three is a fake, Four is most assuredly one, too.)

I can hear you all now.  "How does any of this make you a bad person, Becky?"  It makes me a bad person because I'm enjoying the whole thing way too much.

Look, here's the deal.  These three people were all wildly popular.  The darlings of the group, with lots of attention heaped upon them.  Two of the three posted pictures that showed them to be incredibly good looking.  (It was the pictures that started the whole thing-- they were found to be a professional photographer's copyrighted work.)  All three claim to be young (18-19) and in incredibly mature, loving relationships.  All three are extremely articulate, sounding much more wise and mature than the typical 18 or 19 year old.  All three have families who are completely accepting of their homosexuality.  Only good things happen to them.  Any bad things happened in the past and are straight out of an after school special.

Do you see where I'm going with all this?  We're talking about teenagers who have it all figured out.  (And not in that annoying, you don't know anything yet kid, teenagerish way.)  Kids who have perfect lives, perfect relationships, and nothing but sunshine and rainbows in their future.  There's no way that it's real.  And yet a whole bunch of otherwise intelligent adults have been taken in by it.  Now everyone's scrambling around, some condemning them, in the politest language possible, for lying, while others are getting progressively more upset because they see it as a whole bunch of adults ganging up on a couple of kids who made a mistake.

But the thing is, I don't think these are kids.  My pet theory, and I'm starting to doubt that there will ever be any clear truth to match it up with, is that this is a big prank.  I think Dudes #1 and #2 (who are supposedly a couple) are actually one person creating a story, maybe for the fun of creating a story, maybe for attention or the fun of pulling one over on a bunch of people too willing to take a story at face value.  Maybe just for the hell of it.  I think Dude #3 is possibly a little more on the level.  I think he really is a 19 year old.  I think some of what he's said is true.  I think his relationship is probably an invention, possibly because he saw all the attention that Dudes #1 and #2 were getting, possibly because he's a 19 year old who desperately wishes he had that perfect relationship.  If that's the case, then Dude #4 is probably a sock puppet invented to prop up the stories of Dude #3.

Other than being kind of amused by the lengths some people will go to for a bit of attention, I don't really care that they've done this.  It was so obviously not the truth, or at least not the whole truth, that I have nothing invested in these people or their stories.  But there are other people who do, and who are really upset about all this.  (See, bad person.)  I'm just hoping that the bad feelings blow over soon, because this really is a good group, if a little too willing to believe whatever random internet bs they're fed.

In completely unrelated news, Dad has been running a low grade fever all day, and now I am, too.  And the lip balm flavor of the day is peppermint.  Yum!

Update: Dudes #1 and #2 have admitted that they grabbed a couple of pictures off the internet and claimed them as their own and apologized.  They still claim to be two 18 and 19 year old gay guys, and while they also admit that may have glossed over some things, what they have said has been true.  Their supporters immediately started praising them for their courage in coming clean and admitting their mistake.  A few brave souls have said (politely) that they don't believe that these guys are really guys.  (It's a m/m romance community, and apparently it's not just the authors who are often secretly women in groups like this.)  The supporters are now getting outraged at the skeptics, claiming that they are so guys!  And anyway, they don't care if they aren't.  Lots of people wander in to quote "this too shall pass" at everyone and wander back out again.  I think a more apt quote at this point would be "there are none so blind as those who will not see."

Dude #3 popped back up today to say that he had a panic attack and that's why he posted yesterday that he was taking a break, although his wonderful boyfriend helped him through it, and he's considering getting some counseling, because the panic attacks have happened before.  Highly dubious, although I'm still inclined to believe that there is a real 19 year old gay kid behind this one, even if a lot of what he's said about his relationship is pure fiction.

And I'm still a bad person, because I'm still sitting back with my popcorn, enjoying the whole thing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fully Favorable

I got a letter in the mail today from Social Security, y'all.  Fully Favorable.  That's government-speak for "approved".  I got my Social Security.

I called the lawyer right away to let them know, and the woman I talked to said that was the fastest turn around she'd ever seen.  The hearing was August 16th, and the letter was dated August 18th.  I don't know what my monthly benefit will be yet (although I have a ballpark idea of what it might be based on the letter that Social Security sends out every year) or when exactly I'll get that first check.  Sometime within the next 90 days hopefully.  But it's just a relief to know that I'm approved and that there will be money coming eventually.

I'm... actually not feeling a whole lot right now.  I was pretty certain coming out of the hearing that I would be approved, and this is just confirmation.  No doubt the freak out is coming.  If the government agrees that I'm disabled, I must actually be this fucking sick.  (Knowing how I feel day-to-day and having the government acknowledge and accept it are two different things.  Also, who said anyone's internal logic was ever consistent?)  But for now, I'm good.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Are Entering.... The Freak Out Zone

OK. My hearing is 36 hours away.  Y'all, I am freaking the hell out.  The rest of this post may be TMI, so feel free to either click away or scoot to the bottom and leave a comment, whichever you prefer.

Today was not a good day bathroom-wise.  I know it's a combination of stress and the flare I experience every month.  And I know it's only going to get worse over the next two days.  (My hearing is naturally scheduled for the first day of my period-- my most poop-o-rific day of the month.)  And for some reason my left wrist and elbow, the wrist and elbow least likely to give me a hard time, both decided to play up today.  The ones on the right are slightly achy, but well within the normal range.  Which means if I think about it I realize they hurt, but they aren't twinging and demanding my attention.

To add to the stress, my hearing will be not only on the first day of my period, but also on MTX day, which I occasionally refer to as Poison Day when I'm feeling grumpy about it.  MTX is a chemo drug, a poison.  I take it one day a week to bring my immune system down enough that it hopefully won't try to eat a hole in my insides.  It's not a fun drug.  It knocks me out flat-- we're talking Jr Narcoleptic time-- and frequently gives me the mother of all headaches.  I'll have to be sure I pack my sunglasses, just in case.  Part of me, the conniving part, thinks all this is a good thing.  Let them see me at my day-to-day worst (understanding that if/when the Crohn's rages out of control I'm looking at symptoms an order of magnitude beyond that-- and probably a hospital visit).  The practical side of me is thinking this is a terrible idea and wondering how I'm going to hold it together under all that stress on what will probably be my worst symptom day of the month.

For the last week I've been preparing mentally.  Thinking about the questions he's likely to ask and how I might answer.  I've also been mentally rehearsing interrupting the hearing to make a bathroom dash, if necessary.  (I feel like I've adapted to the indignities my condition treats me to on a regular basis, but the thought of holding up legal proceedings, with all those Lawyers, because I've ohmygodgottagorightnoweverybodyoutofthepool is not a comfortable one.)  Tomorrow I need to weigh myself, because they'll want a recent weight, and I need to find a letter (pretty sure I know where it is), and make sure everything I want to wear on Tuesday is clean and ready to go.  And then tomorrow evening I need to take a shower and figure out some way to get some sleep and not explode from stress.  And then Tuesday afternoon will be The Big Moment.  Mom and Dad want to go out to eat somewhere afterwards, to celebrate I guess, even though it's very unlikely I'll get a decision at the hearing.  (It will probably come in a letter in a month or two.)  I think I'd rather come home to my own bathroom while my body no doubt continues to attempt to expel foods I haven't even eaten yet.  Speaking of, it's about time for me to make another pit stop.  Thank god that bathroom reading is accepted practice around here, or I'd be so screwed.

So anyway, that's why I'm Freaking The Fuck Out right now.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Closed and Self-Righteous

Dinner was more than 7 hours ago, and I'm still pissed off.

One of my parents' friends from Massachusetts spent the night here last night on her way to a temporary assignment in the Midwest.  (This was not the problem.  I met Beth in the short period where I was in Massachusetts last fall, and I really liked her.)  But Beth went to the same church as Mom and Dad.  After she left it kicked out a whole Open and Affirming rant from my mom that still makes me want to vomit.  (It may have been the bologna sandwich I had for dinner, but I'm pretty sure it was the exclusionary, anti-LGBT crap that she was spewing.)

A little primer on the situation.  The first church they attended in MA adopted an "Open and Affirming" policy within the church.  Here's the language I found for this:

“Open and Affirming” means that it has publicly and specifically declared that those of all “sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions” (or “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” people) are welcome in its full life and ministry (e.g. membership, leadership, employment, etc.) It bespeaks a spirit of hospitality and a willingness to live out that welcome in meaningful ways.
Sounds reasonable, right?  Everyone who chooses to belong to a church should have the right to be a member and to feel welcome in their church home.  Well some people, like my parents, don't see this as reasonable at all.  "It's against the teachings of the Bible!"  "It's against the teaching of God!"  "The Bible says what the Bible says!  You don't get to pick and choose!"  (She says as she eats ham for dinner.)  I hate to be the one to break it to you, sister, but modern Christians pretty thoroughly pick through the Bible, only following the rules that work for them.  I haven't given Leviticus a read lately, nor do I plan to.  But if memory serves, the anti-homo stuff is just about the only bit that people like my parents choose to follow.  They don't bother with the animal sacrificing, or the "women are unclean after child birth" hoey, so why this?

Bigotry.  That's the only answer I can come up with.  It's infuriating.  It's bad enough to know that they feel this way and still be forced to live with them.  If she fixates on this, and I start getting regular anti-gay rants, I don't know how I'm going to be able to keep from giving her a piece of my mind.  And I won't be able to be any more polite about it than she's been.

Get me out of here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Lupus Foundation of America- Swagbucks' Charity of the Month

Over at Swagbucks (which I've pimped a few times, and yes I'm still racking up the $5 Amazon gift certificates) they've started doing a charity of the month.  People can donate swagbucks (points) that they've earned through different activities on the site.  Based on the number of swagbucks donated, Swagbucks will make a cash donation to the charity.  This month it's the Lupus Foundation of America.

Now, I don't have Lupus (knock on wood), but I know people who do.  It's an autoimmune disease, and in a way all AI's are related.  An advance for one usually means an advance for all of us down the line.  So in that sense this is personal for me.  I'd like to see the Lupus Foundation get the biggest donation possible.  Plus, the exposure is really great.  Everybody knows somebody with an autoimmune disease, but not very many people understand what they are or what we go through in trying to manage our diseases.  (I can't really blame the general public for being ignorant in this.  Far too many doctors are completely clueless about autoimmune disease.)

If you'd like to help with this donation drive, you can sign up for Swagbucks here:  That's my referral link.  An easy way to earn swagbucks is to use their search engine when you want to do an internet search.  You won't win points every time, but when you do I'll get a few kickback points.  I pledge to donate any of those points to the Lupus Foundation, in addition to my regular donation.  There are lots of other fast, simple, free ways to earn swagbucks.  If anyone decides to sign up and wants to hear about them, I'll blog about that next.