Monday, December 30, 2013

the things we find when we downsize our lives

Stephen and I had planned all along that we would take down Christmas today.  To make room in the storage closet out on the deck, we also sorted through a box (or FOUR) to see whether all the old paperwork from our pasts needed to continue traveling with us into our future, or if we could shred, discard, or give away anything we haven't looked at or thought about in over a year.  We managed to shrink four boxes of stuff down to one!  Along the way, I found the following, which I wrote sometime in the last decade, probably as a personal acting exercise (I don't believe it was for a class, although I may have decided to use it as an audition monologue if ever I needed an original piece).  This may have been the only other time I ever looked at that piece of paper since I wrote it.  Obviously, it was never used for anything, but I think it's kinda funny, so I'm sharing it with you here.  I hope you enjoy it, at least a little.

     "Hi, my name is emelle, and I'm a slob."
     "Hi, emelle."

     I think, looking back, I've always been a slob.  When I was growing up, my father worked an odd schedule and my mother stayed home.  As soon as we kids could feed ourselves without burning the house down or cutting each other with the cutlery, my mother ceased cooking.  I don't remember having "home-cooked" meals on a daily or weekly basis - they were strictly for special occasions.  Not that I grew up on McDonalds, either.  Probably mostly peanut butter and jelly or tunafish sandwiches.  But I digress...

     I addition to not cooking, my mother also did not clean.  Not that the house wasn't clean, mind you, but it was cleaned by three little kids who didn't quite grasp the basic concepts of housekeeping until adulthood.  I mean, I know NOW how to vacuum and dust, and sweep and mop, and wash dishes and clothes, and scrub toilets.  But as a child, there was never any motivation to do any of those things WELL - we were much more concerned about doing them quickly, so we could go play.  My entire childhood, I always thought vacuuming was an enormous waste of time; I thought I was allergic to it, because the dust produced by that thing always made me sneeze my head off.  Turns out, the filter was not changed - not once in at least 18 years!  Filter?  What did we know?  You plug it in, flip the switch, and the damn thing makes a lot of noise, doesn't eat the little bits of debris you have to physically "feed" it, and you sneeze the rest of the day!  That's normal, right?

So now I can shred THAT piece of paper, along with the ~1/2 box of other pages we sorted out.  And Christmas is over, but that got downsized, too.  So we're making progress!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


I don't know about you, but I come from a good family.  We're weird, we're obnoxious, we're geeky or nerdy or dorky or just goofballs.  We're LOVING.  We're nuts.  We're FUN.  But most of all, we're all living our lives, spread out across not only the country but also the globe, and we only <really> get "together" online anymore.

Stephen and I moved from California to the wrong coast a year (or so) ago to help out his ailing Dad.  We live a mile-and-a-half from his Stepmom, maybe half an hour from his half-sister, and further and further from the rest of either of our immediate kinfolk.  His stepmom seems to be coping well enough via her own actual immediate kinfolk (brother and daughter); his half-sister has her own family unit to keep her insane, as it were.  So here we are, separated from home, looking for reasons to "visit" with ANYONE offline, and struggling in that area.

Today I was supposed to join a friend at the movies.  I was going to drive 40 minutes to the friend's house because I didn't know the theater, and carpooling is always better anyway (IMHO).  But then I got a text message, and my day changed.

My sister-who-is-not-related-by-blood-or-marriage-but-is-my-sister-nonetheless suggested we meet up - did I want to drive halfway to visit in some unfamiliar location, or did I want them to come all the way to me?  Are you KIDDING?  Come to ME!  You gave me a cookbook when I got married the first time, of all of your within-our-family-famous recipes!  I now get to prepare for you and your family A MEAL... A PIZZA... made by my own two hands, in my own kitchen, using whatever ingredients I happen to have.  Come to ME!  How many are you bringing, and what time should I expect you?  (And will you be able to dine late enough to also visit with Stephen when he returns from work?)

They came - all five of them.  I made one pizza with MY version of "the Works" and we all ate it.  Not one of them expressed sufficient hunger for more than that, so I made sure they also had access to the cookies and Southern Sweet Tea.  It was such a lovely visit.  We laughed together, we reminisced, the youngest (who barely remembers me because, well, when was the last time she actually SAW or talked to me? - it's been YEARS) proclaimed my pizza the "most awesome" she'd ever tasted (which gained her an immediate high five from ME) and gave me a sparkly plastic bracelet that she had JUST made for me.

As a group, we all sort of pined for "simpler" days, when you didn't have to plan a visit, and your "spontaneous" visit didn't involve a workday's worth of driving just to make it happen.  Yes, I could have gotten in my car and shortened their drive, but would we have had as long of a visit?  I really don't think so.  Maybe, if there's somehow time to "do this again" before I leave the wrong coast, we WILL meet in the middle.  But where, and for how long?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Three Days After Christmas, When Everybody's Broke, and to top it all off, [She] Had a Twin!

One of the blogs I follow is Holiday Doodles.  Today is Card Playing Day and National Chocolate Candy Day.  It's a good couple of holidays, considering what else today is.

Today would be my mother's 70th birthday, so if I had friends around who knew how to play, I'd spend the day playing "Kings in the Corner" or even possibly Pinochle, in her honor.  Daddy would probably also buy her a Whitman's Sampler to share at the card table.

This is a good holiday.  Happy Birthday, Mommy.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

winding down? or getting wound up?

2013 is definitely drawing to a close.  We've survived Halloween and Thanksgiving and Black Friday and Christmas and the anniversaries of the deaths of a parent, each, and now Boxing Day.  ;)

Next up is the 70th anniversary of Mommy's birth, to commemorate in our own way, in her absence.  Then New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and we'll un-decorate the house, and then we'll start looking for w-2's in the mail, and we'll plug numbers into the tax software, and we'll hope to get back as much money as possible.  And we'll rejoice in every day that feels warmer, and we'll rejoice in the sun being in the sky longer.  And we'll grumble when they make us "Spring Forward" with our clocks, but with the knowledge that Daylight Savings Time is getting longer and longer and longer, and eventually, hopefully in our lifetimes, it'll be the "norm" and we'll never have to change the clocks again.  And we'll tell tall tales to all the children, about "way back when" - when we had to change the clocks for no good reason, twice a year.

<<I digress.  I've gone off into the distant future, and not ONE of you kept me here!  In the near future!  Thanks a lot!>>

And in this household, we'll start finding the right places to sell the right pieces.  We're downsizing so we can move.  Our #1 priority for 2014 is to be gone from the wrong coast and back home by summer.  Everything we own is USED; some ever-so-gently; the rest, er, not-so-much.  So some of the more "collectible" items will be listed on either Amazon or e-bay; the big stuff like furniture will go on Craigslist or maybe even get hauled down the road to the nearest flea market, if we decide that'd be worth it ( :/ ).  If you already have interest in anything we own, get in touch.  If you have suggestions for where to list or how to price, get in touch.  We know that one man's junk is another man's treasure, and none of what we own is "junk" so we (or I, at least) have high hopes for good, steady progress.

Unless some other form of employment finds me, downsizing will be my job for the next 3-6 months.  Keep me in your prayers!  Or send your good vibes my way!  Or, heck, just show up at my door with a big ol' trailer and a big ol' check (lots of zeroes before the decimal point, thank you)!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 (and then some) in review

Starting in Summer of 2012:

I was gainfully employed as a Script Supervisor on a 15-week shoot for a FANTASTIC web series, East Los High.  We had a great cast and crew; many of us had not worked on a web series before, so we didn't know what to expect (versus our experiences with television and movies).  Our production team was so "on top of things" - our days were long, but not excessive; our caterer and Craft Services were THE BOMB (and a well-fed crew is a happy crew, so there's that); the locations were pretty amazing.  We were doing something that MATTERED, and it was a good summer.

Stephen had his table-waiting job, so he always had cash.  He wrote with his partner on weekends, and they made progress.

At the end of the summer, we got wind of his Dad's diagnosis: SEVERAL "bad" Cancers.  We both (each?) made multiple phone calls to loved ones "back home" so that no one was "out of the loop" regarding any of the progress of anything (or would this be a case of "Congress"?).  When my shoot was complete, I went back to doing background acting as it was available, and "living" on what my then-current unemployment claim had dwindled down to.  We had enough money on credit to either:
  1. put Stephen on a plane to NC to nurse his Dad back to health, taking a leave of absence from his table-waiting job, and hoping that my income would pick back up, OR
  2. MOVE.  Both of us, with the cats, across the country, in time for his Dad's chemo to have been completed, and missing Christmas at the restaurant (on purpose), as well as me getting hired at the Brand New Trader Joe's that was opening in the area at the end of October (no, I knew I'd be in the "second wave" of hiring).
... guess which option we chose?  BIG MISTAKE?  Maybe; we'll see.

By the end of October, we'd sold some appliances, packed up a PackRat (moving/storage unit), and arranged for housing near his Dad.  We graciously, gratefully accepted all offers of every kind of help that came our way.  My Mommy had died on October 28, on the road, a few years back, so we did not get ourselves on the road until the 29th.  I'm not superstitious; I just didn't want to have to be behind the wheel and crying, so I purposefully planned our departure for a Monday.

We didn't take the shortest route.  Neither did we dilly-dally (or lollygag, as your preference may be).  We saw the Grand Canyon (not on the clearest of days, mind you, but we DID see it); we spent a night with his brother (et. al) and then one with mine (et. al).  His Dad died in the morning, on the day we arrived at my brother's.  I don't remember if Stephen drove at all that day - it was the shortest day of driving, I think, and I didn't want him to have to worry about waves of emotion, so I did the bulk, if not all, of the driving that day.  We arrived at my brother's, had a lovely home-cooked dinner, and after whatever commiserating you do, we went to bed.  The next day we got up and drove "home" - to our new home, on the opposite coast from our real home.

In case you're wondering, the cats had been leash-trained (to some extent) in the weeks prior to our departure, so they traveled much better than we could have hoped.  We gave them the run of the car, and we learned that I had to drive FIRST each day, in case one of the babies wanted to sit in the driver's lap.  They ate a little; they drank a little; they peed a little; they did best when we did NOT look for a "pet-friendly" hotel ("pet-friendly" does NOT equal CAT-friendly, FYI), sleeping under the tent we'd set up for them in the back seat.  This was, after all, their new home, as far as they knew.  Better get used to it (which they did).

So then it's November, and we had mourning and legalities and new utilities, etc. and no real source of income yet (beyond my pitiful unemployment, which I was still collecting).  Stephen's plan was to help his Dad do his Handyman gig, and have cash again/still.  So much for THAT one.  My plan was to get hired at TJ's.  So I went in to TJ's, having already sent in my application to BOTH addresses (on the phone, I was given two potential mailing addresses - the store was so "new" that they didn't know which would be correct), and I introduced myself to the Captain and a Mate or two.  They gave me the "pre-interview" but asked me to fill out another application, because they KNEW they received both, but couldn't find either one in the files (there were originally somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 applicants, so I don't fault them the misplacement).  Then we all followed all the regular interview processes, and I got HIRED!  HOORAY!

In December, Stephen had to do all the Christmas decorating by himself again.  I don't really know why, but I hadn't had enough holiday spirit to participate in decorating for years.  Last year was our first with a tree, which we rescued from his Dad's attic or barn, but that still wasn't enough for me to want to help.  We were in the throes of "firsts" - all those first anniversaries without the loved one, so it wasn't a terribly joyous time.  We survived it, though, and I was making friends at work.

January... February... March... the months happened; I continued driving 45 miles a day for fives days a week, and Stephen CRANKED OUT his writing.  Instead of meeting with his partner, they had to have weekly phone calls.  Which, actually, kinda worked in his favor.  Sorta.  Stephen had all of this free time to devote to writing, so at the first of the year, he was always WAITING for something... edits, or opinions, or illustrations.  We thought they would publish on January 1st.  Then we thought they would publish by February 28th.  We kept thinking that they were THIS CLOSE to publishing, and they weren't!  It got frustrating for me, because there was NOTHING that I could contribute to the process.  It got frustrating for Stephen, because he was spending his time WAITING.  I'm sure it was frustrating for the partner, because there was plenty else going on in his life that he couldn't devote enough time to meeting "our" deadlines.  Then my hours seemed to be getting cut, because summertime is apparently not very busy in the grocery industry.  So I started hounding Stephen to find a job.  No bueno.  Much stress and many arguments later, his leads finally started following through.  He got phone interviews (always when we were out together shopping at Walmart - how weird is that?).  He got in-person interviews.  May arrived, and he got HIRED!  HOORAY!

So, we had a Mommy-less Mother's Day for me, and then a Dad-less Father's day for him... and then, Wonder of Wonders, on July 1st, my husband became a Published Author! ... ah-bout the same time that "things" started falling apart for me at work.  *I have a very "large" personality, and with it, I grow a "fan base."  At Trader Joe's, I had a MULTITUDE of customers who would seek me out when they shopped, because I always made their shopping more fun.  This is NOT to say that I was loved and adored throughout the store by one and all.  There are always going to be sourpuss customers, and there are always going to be "difficult" co-workers with whom you don't "mesh."  Over the course of the late summer, I got written up for "customer relations" difficulties; the non-members of my fan club found a way to get me outta there.

By September, I had had a good ten months in the only other job I ever loved as much as being on a film set.  And then it was over.  I filed a new unemployment claim, and then I waited for it to be approved, since I'd been (wrongfully) fired.  I looked for more work, but where?  Doing what?  I'd already put enough miles on my car THIS YEAR to have traversed the entire country FOUR TIMES... I didn't really want an unhappy-making source of income that was as far away, but where we lived was not a real potential source of income.  I put feelers out; I applied online; I tried to apply in person.  Nothing wanted to stick.  All this time, I had been trying to continue my Showbiz work here on the wrong coast, but with minimal success.  We talked about what to do.  Had we played out this hand?  Was it time to re-deal?  We both thought so.

Halloween passed.  We handed out candy to FIFTEEN kids.  We hadn't decorated or anything like that, and we live in a somewhat large apartment complex in a very RURAL area.  So we were proud of the 15 kids we saw.  Then Thanksgiving approached, and since I wasn't working, I went to Florida with my brother and his wife and their "new" baby (a whole year old!) to spend that holiday with Daddy.  While I was there, the unemployment claim came through, I fell in love with my newest niece, and I helped my SIL cook her first Thanksgiving turkey.  Then everyone who was driving home on Friday finally caught up to the daycare virus that the baby had brought along, and we drove home with low-grade fevers and nausea and fatigue and general puniness.  FUN!

Which brings us to the Christmas season.  As I aluded to earlier, I haven't had a desire to decorate, probably since Mommy died.  I've appreciated the decorations that have been displayed for me, particularly all of those that Stephen has hung since we've been together.  This year, I participated.  We have a tree.  Nothing to put under it, BY CHOICE, but a decorated tree in the window nonetheless.  We have a plan.  A plan to get home.  We've started rebuilding our coffers, and if things go well (once we start selling our possessions), we'll be heading back across the country with the two cats in harnesses by the end of March.  If things don't go *quite* so well, we ought to be able to get there right after one last visit with this coast's parental units in JUNE.  HOORAY!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


I think I'm DONE with the Ab Challenge.  I made it through Day Thirteen today, but only by splitting up the exercises and resting for several hours between (got some shopping done in there).  I don't think this "Challenge" is good for me, physically or mentally.  I know it doesn't make me HAPPY or SATISFIED or even just feeling better about myself.  This $#!+ HURTS both my back and my weak abs, and I think that now that I've split it in half just to COMPLETE the damn thing is a strong indicator of my lack of will to complete it.  I'm not getting that body in 30 days, even if I DO complete it.  And even if I DO "succeed" in the challenge, what's the friggin' point?  I'll have to continue doing ab work for the rest of my life, if that body is my goal.  And it's just NOT FUN.

Here's the thing: I KNOW that there are three "legs" of the health stool.  I'm not an idiot.  Good health typically rests on a balance of good diet, good sleep, and good exercise.  So let me break it down for you:

I believe in eating dessert first.  That's the kinda girl I am.  If dessert is WORTH having, if it's WORTH "breaking" or "bending" a diet for, if it is clearly SPECIAL and possibly made with love, then I'm having it.  I'm having a BIG serving of it, and I'm having it FIRST.  Don't get me wrong; I'll also have a healthy meal that I'll nibble on and take home the rest for later.  I love leftovers, and I love to eat GOOD food.  Special, Made-with-Love, Worth-Having Dessert qualifies as "GOOD."

I also believe in getting a good night's sleep.  If I somehow don't sleep through the night due to noise or light or other physical or mental disruptions, I am VERY likely to make up for it with a Power Nap the next day.  Because I know how important GOOD sleep is for my overall health.

Which leads me to this stupid Ab Challenge.  I believe in getting enough appropriate exercise as a contributor to overall health.  For some folks, RUNNING gets them going, and they LOVE it for all the reasons I stated that I didn't love the Challenge.  I love to DANCE, folks.  My baby brother got this family started with Ballroom dancing, and after Mommy died, I took my portion of the insurance settlement and bought myself lessons at Arthur Murray.  Dancing is GOOD exercise, because it DOES move body parts you're not used to moving, and it improves posture, and if you do enough of it, you will sweat.  I'm all for GOOD exercise - whatever that means to you, I will cheer you on!  But I've had enough of exercise for the sake of exercise, and I seriously doubt I will continue the Ab Challenge after today.  It's just not FUN.  I don't LIKE it, much less LOVE it.  I'm DONE.

Friday, December 20, 2013

news from "the world"

I don't get out much.  You may or may not know that about me.  I'm currently unemployed, so if we need groceries and Stephen's schedule will allow it, he does the shopping on his way home from work.  Otherwise, I get to make a special trip for shopping.  If I don't make a special trip for shopping, I don't get out much.  We live in a small town at present.  There's not anywhere to go or anyone to see without a special in-the-car trip.

Having *enough* money to cover all the necessities means rarely having excess money for luxuries.  So we've seen TWO movies in theaters this year.  We go out to eat maybe? once a month.  If we just need a reason to GET OUT, we'll head to Walmart to peruse the pet aisle and Blu-Ray deals; we'll see if Dollar Tree's got anything fun, because you know, "for a dollar, I'd watch monkeys f***."  Maybe while we're there, we'll stop in at Game Stop for giggles.  There's not much else to do in that particular shopping center, but it gets us out.

So today I had "adventures."  As a Voice Actor, I needed to send a CD to one producer in particular, and I didn't have an appropriate envelope.  Also, I had a Mega Millions ticket I needed to cash in - yes, I won a WHOLE DOLLAR out of the $650M jackpot, so I wanted to trade that dollar for a ticket for the next draw.

I head over to the Dollar Tree/Walmart "complex" to see what I can get with my pocket change - SCORE! 6 brown kraft envelopes for $.74!  For the lotto, I drive home by way of the CVS, which I discover does NOT sell lotto.  Back in the car to the gas station only two doors down (because it's on the way, not because I'm lazy!), where I make my big exchange.

And then, the "adventure" begins.  My car won't start.  I put the key in and turn it, and all the lights and warnings ("you're about to start your car" noises) do all the what-the-what, and then, NOTHING.  Tracy Chapman starts singing at me, but my engine is not idling.

  • back in 2008 when I bought my new car at the North Hollywood dealership, those RAT BASTARDS upsold me on the "Prevent-A-Start" system, after failing to sell me the much more expensive Lo-Jack.  I was in LA, and I thought it might be a good idea to not just leave my car ripe for the picking.  PAS is, in fact, a PIA.  There is a key fob with two squishy buttons, labeled "1" and "2".  If you DON'T use the "valet" setting, then you MUST press the "1" EVERY TIME you start your car.  Eff that.  I use the "valet" setting, which allows me six starts before I have to press the "1" and then the "2".  Back to today:

I press the buttons on the key fob, and turn the key.  Nothing but lights, buzzers, and Tracy.  I press the buttons on the SPARE key fob, and turn the key.  Same outcome.  I turn the key WITHOUT pressing buttons; same outcome.  I take the car out of gear and try the multiple combinations; same outcome.  I "wait" (a whole ten seconds, probably) and try again.  Jack Diddly-Squat.

There is a sticker in my window telling me my insurance offers roadside assistance.  I call the number... it will be an hour before my rescue is there, and it doesn't sound like I need a jump, and oh, by the way, there's no evidence of roadside coverage on my insurance plan, so what credit card would I like to put this $62 charge on? (?!?!?!?!?!)  I very politely disconnect myself from the phone call and go inside the gas station to see if they sell the watch batteries I need for my PIA key fobs.  They don't, but there's Big Lots and a Radio Shack across the street (HIGHWAY), so...

I remember that I don't have to cross the street (highway) if CVS sells 'em - so I walk over there!  And they do!  So I buy two packs, to replace the batts in both PIA fobs.  Not that I NEED batteries, mind you.  When I press the buttons, the little red light comes on, so I know there's juice.  Just like when I turn the key and Tracy Chapman starts singin' at me again.  I KNOW there's juice.  But I buy them anyway, because I really want my car to start, and for it to be a simple fix.

It isn't the batteries.  Stephen has called to let me know he's on his way home, and I inform him of my sitch, in case he needs to swing by to get me.  I really don't want to have to leave my car overnight sitting at the front door of a convenience store.  Nor do I want to have to tow it at night.  Nor do I want to have to PUSH it to a "better" parking spot.  Stephen asks if I have a manual for the PAS - I don't.  He asks if I have any Honda phone numbers - I do; it's the LA dealership, but since I used to always use their service department, maybe they'll forgive my being on the wrong coast.

  • Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, Thank You VERY MUCH, Mr. Mechanic Man, who points out to me the "Emergency Start" kit in the little brown envelope that lives in my glove box, and for talking me through the process of DISENGAGING the PIA!  
Now I just have this whole system and four new batteries I don't need.  Yay!  At least Stephen had a good day. ;)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

To Do (Today, or Every Day?)

  1. Make it a good one
  2. Laugh
  3. Think
  4. Cry
  5. Ab Workout :/
  6. Downscaling progress
  7. Prepare a real meal
Yesterday was NOT a good one.  It wasn't a "bad" one, per se, but most of the rest of this To-Do didn't happen (#5 did, but YUCK), so the day was, overall, kinda blllllleeeee(c)h.

So I started my day (after feeding the cats, of course) with coffeenog and a magazine, and apparently, an available lap for Cocoa.  No reading happening with a kitty who needs her belly rubbed.  No problem.  This is a good start. (half check)

I would like for something to give me a good belly laugh.  Don't yet know what that will be, but after my "good start" I'm hopeful.

I have to think in order to blog.  This stuff isn't just brain-diarrhea that spews out of my fingertips, guys! (check)

I have had a decent cry today.  I'm a sensitive sort, and rather empathic (empathetic?), so this is what got me today: British X-Factor. (check)

I'm on Day Eleven, and I'm not really sure what my motivation is, here.  I keep DOING it, but it hurts so damn much, and I really hate it, and I don't feel better afterwards, so ... WHY?  I guess I'm hoping, one of these days, to look like the body in the BG of this pic:
We've got some boxes in our patio closets (yes, we have TWO closets on the deck!) that have made it across the country once (well, multiple times, really, if you go back to their origins) that MUST be sorted: keep, sell, give away, or TRASH.  I'd like to make it through one box a day until there's nothing but "keep" in those closets.  We'll see.

Yeah.  Stephen's working a day shift today.  He should really come home to a hot meal.  I've got an idea - I just need to venture into the kitchen and fire up the crock pot!

#8 is blank, because, well, is there MORE that I should want to accomplish today?  Probably.  I'm open to suggestions.  You're welcome to comment HERE, rather than on Facebook, you nutty "I'll share your blog but I won't comment" kids!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My stint in Juvie

*** I tell this story now because I was visiting with my friend Sheila, who commented on my gorgeous (unemployment-enabled) fingernails, which led to this:

I grew up in Miami, Florida, in a time when that public school system was one of the best in the country, and to parents who valued education along with curiosity (and to some extent, questioning authority).  My siblings and I walked to the elementary school and rode bikes to the junior high, which was a mere 2 miles away.  We never rode a school bus except to go to the Gifted Program (which happened at a different school but would pick us up from "home base" twice a week), or if there was a field trip.

In the middle of my eighth-grade year, we moved to North Carolina.  My mother, God Bless Her, told me that I'd be smarter than everyone in Charlotte.  She may have said the same to my siblings, because God Knows it would have been true.  It certainly was true for me, at least as far as I could ascertain.  What I didn't know at the time was that education and knowledge were not valued in Charlotte, at least by my classmates.  So the Smart Kids hid that fact, never volunteering answers, and certainly never CORRECTING a teacher's error (written on the chalkboard for ALL to see - c'mon, you guys, how do you not SEE that that's WRONG???)!  I hadn't ever learned how to hide my intelligence.  Needless to say, I had NO friends in Charlotte - ZERO.  I did have ONE person do her best to protect me from the meanest girl, who would DAILY threaten to "stuff me in a locker;" the protector successfully prevented said stuffing.

We had to ride buses to school in North Carolina.  We lived too far away from our schools to ride bikes, and they were three different schools because of our ages, so it didn't make sense for someone to take us in a car.

I was incredibly unpopular, so I rode in the middle of the school bus.  I knew better than to try to sit with the cool kids at the back, and there was NO WAY I'd sit in the front with the total retards.  So I sat in the middle.  It was RARE that I ever had to share my bench seat, as I was The Pariah at my school.  Until this one Monday, when the weather had threatened (and possibly delivered) rain, so in addition to all of my books and my flute, I had a raincoat.  Not an umbrella; not a windbreaker.  I'm wearing a full-length tan trench/raincoat.  Sounds "cool" today.  It wasn't.  Knowing I wouldn't be sharing my bench, I had myself "spread out" on it, in the middle of the bus, at the end of the day on this particularly fine Monday.  Let me take you back:

(Possibly the ONE person at the school who is even more hated than I), a boy named Michael, comes to my seat and stops.
"Scoot over," he says.  "No," I reply.  "Scoot over," he repeats.  "Not happening" (or something to that effect), is my response.  He continues being rude (would it kill him to say "Please"?), and I continue not to budge, offering the plethora of alternative seating available to him right in that very moment.  Finally, he SITS DOWN.  On my raincoat.  Pushing me with his little bratty ass.  I'm not having it, but neither am I going to get into a fight.  My fingernails are much too gorgeously long and healthy to risk breaking one on this snot-nosed BITCH.  So I reach across my own body with my left hand and grab Mr. Shitbag in his face.  We're both facing forward, and not another word is spoken.  I've got Little Mr. Priss' face in my hand, and it's a pretty long ride to his bus stop, so I'm having to collect a little skin under my beautiful nails in order to hang on.

We reach his stop, and I release my hold.  He gets off the bus, and as we're pulling away from the stop, the COOLEST girl comes forward and shakes my hand.  She says, "Do you know he was bleeding and crying as he got off the bus?"  I don't, nor do I care.

I get home, and my protector (who ended up being my best friend, once I figured out that she was not only cool and funny but also incredibly intelligent and had fun parents) calls me as soon as SHE gets home.  Because she knows.  She's already heard.  No one's got a cell phone, and everyone travels in different directions, by car or bus, but by the time I walk in MY door, EVERYONE knows what went down.  So she's calling to let me know that what I did, while "cool" in everyone's book, is going to result in a visit to the Principal tomorrow, because Mr. Prissy-Pants' MOTHER will most assuredly call the school.  So I tell Mommy what I've done, and what I know about our judicial system, and her response is, "Fine.  I'M not taking your punishment."  I have no idea what she means, so, um, okay?

The next day - Tuesday - I'm at school.  A few periods have passed and I'm sitting in Mrs. Edwards' English class.  The student body is abuzz but the teachers appear oblivious.  Nothing's happened TO ME yet, so I'm playing it "cool" and just being the nerdy, raise-my-hand little smart girl I always was.  Mrs. Edwards' PA system crackles to life:  "Miz Edwards, do you have [emelle] in your class today?"  "Um, yes, of course, she's here."  "Will you send her to the office, please?  And have her BRING HER THINGS."  "Um, okay."  The classroom is SILENTLY buzzing with a stadium roar.  Mrs. Edwards is COMPLETELY confused, but she sends me on my way, and I walk out of that room with head held HIGH.

I get to the office and lose my nerve.  I know I'm in trouble, but I don't know really what that means.  The Principal explains to me that Mother Prissy-Pants has called and accused me of this HEINOUS crime against her sweet, sweet boy (BLECH!) and did I do such a thing, and am I prepared to pay his MEDICAL BILLS?  Well, yeah, I did such a thing, because he's an asshat.  No, I didn't say that, because #1, I WOULDN'T, and #2, no one used the word "asshat" back then.  But, yeah, I do fess up, although I'm fighting the whole medical bills thing, because, c'mon!  It's a friggin' SCRATCH!  So the Principal gives me two options for my "punishment": the rest of the week off the bus (starting with today's - Tuesday's - ride home) OR the rest of the week in In-School Suspension.  I'm starting to lose it at this point, because I really want to pick Door #3 - go Straight to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.  He tells me I can call Mommy, so I do.  She very calmly reminds me of what she said yesterday, "I am not taking your punishment."  I REALLY need her to spell that one out, so she says, "You're going in In-School Suspension, because I am not driving you to and from school."  Ohhhh!  Um, okay.

So I have my things, and I walk down unknown hallways to a room filled (yeah, I'm one of maybe six kids in there) with REAL unsavory types.  The only other girl in there has used her nail file in a KNIFE-FIGHT.  We're allowed to do schoolwork in there and nothing else.  There's no talking, there's no napping, there's no anything but schoolwork or cleaning our easily-accessible body orifices.  When we walk to the cafeteria for lunch, we walk single-file with ONE FINGER HELD UP TO OUR MOUTHS.  I shit you not.  Like Kindergarteners.  Because that's discipline that will help us learn the error of our ways!  Riiiiiight.

My (now-) best friend brings me my assignments every day so that I have something to do, and I'm staying on top of everything.  Because, SERIOUSLY, I AM the smartest kid in Charlotte!

By THURSDAY of that week, my teachers have all (ALL of them, together, united, like in a union or something, in North Carolina, a right-to-work state!) rallied to get me back in class.  By the time I'm supposed to be in Mrs. Edwards' English class on THURSDAY, I am.  Back in class, where I belong.

Thus endeth my stint in Juvie.  My Daddy was so proud!

Sit-ups Suck, REDUX

Did 45 today.  Tomorrow I'll do 50.  They still suck, and I hate them.

In other news, I've made it through the "second round" with a potential employer.  I'll know next week if I make it into the "third round."  Potential income from a potential local JOB in NO WAY impedes or distracts from our shared dream/goal/plan to downsize and move back home.  If said job becomes a reality, one of its beauties is its relocatability.  Updates to follow as they exist.  Keep us in your "positive vibes" corner!

Meanwhile, I continue looking for reasons to laugh and cry, and for things about which to have "deep thoughts" (WITHOUT Jack Handy, in case you were wondering).  And I continue my Abs Challenge.  And I unload and load the dishwasher.  And I do laundry.  And I loiter on the internets and scan the television queue for things to NOT think about.  And I make lists and go grocery shopping.

What a life!  Don't you wish YOURS were as exciting as mine?  Let me know if yours IS, or if you have suggestions for any of the above, or if you just want to say, "Hey, man.  I feel ya about the suckage of sit-ups thing, but what sucks worse is ___."  I look forward to your insights!

Is this what writer's block looks like?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Inundated with "news"

As some of you know, I consider myself to be a "newsphobe."  I despise "news" of all sorts that is pushed through the various media, be it print, television, radio, web, or anything else in perpetuity.  My reasons for this are as follows:

  1. by the time the media's got their "hands" on it, it is no longer "new"
  2. it's very (VERY) rarely "good" news
  3. it's ALWAYS "spun" by the presenter's personal bias.
  4. there is nothing that I can do to change that course of events, so how does that news really affect my daily life, personally?
My response to the newshounds has been, "if something REALLY important happens in the world, do you REALLY think I'm not going to hear about it?"  I have about 200 Facebook friends - that's enough to tell me about the latest tragedy or incident of human suffering, and, more often than you might expect, the GOOD stuff (like the Westjet Airlines stunts)!

Lately, the unavoidable "news" has dealt with improving health.  I have already made a lot of changes, for myself, and where possible, for my loved ones.  I no longer consume high fructose corn syrup in anything.  I still use cane sugar, but with as little refinement as possible.  I don't like the taste of honey or stevia, so my sweetener has to be sugar.  I'm okay with it, as long as I can be sure that it's non-GMO.  I also no longer consume anything that's been hydrogenated - I'll take my fats saturated or MonoUnsaturated, thank you.  I have vegetarian and vegan (and in-betweener) friends whom I love and respect, but I am an omnivore and will likely never give up red meat or dairy.  I shop at Trader Joe's as much as possible, because they have a commitment with their food producers to only give us non-GMO, non-artificial, non-MSG, non-etc. etc. etc. (did I mention "etc."?) GOOD foods.  I don't have food allergies, so bring on the peanut butter!  I don't have gluten intolerance, but I've never been driven by bread or other baked goods, so I just look for the best ingredients when I buy those types of things.

Mostly, I just look for the best ingredients in my food.  If someone posts a yummy recipe on Facebook, I'll give it a look.  If it's got good ingredients that are easily found and affordable, I may give it a try.  I have not tried the Atkins Diet, or the South Beach Diet, or the Blood-Type Diet, or (any) Paleo Diet.  I don't go crazy, making myself and my friends crazy, with reposting the latest "science" regarding food.  This is because I often feel INUNDATED WITH NEWS and I know that anyone out there who is just getting started with making changes for themselves and their loved ones is likely to feel completely overwhelmed and not know where or how to start.  I am not a nutritionist.  I only know what works for me and my own body:
  • portion control - this is the only part of a nutrition label that I care about - how big is a "serving"?
  • good ingredients - in a pre-packaged food, how many ingredients are there, and do I recognize them all, and are there any of the "bad" items, like hydrogenation or high fructose?
  • PAYING ATTENTION to my body after I've consumed anything - am I bloated or constipated?  How "hungry" was I before I started, and did I overeat because it was just so damn yummy?
If I wanted to change my world even more, I would shop only from local food producers, and buy organic, and maybe get started with homesteading (or some other such thing that holds NO APPEAL for me).  Obviously, I feel like I've changed my world enough.  If you personally shop locally, or for only organic, or you homestead, then I applaud you.  If you live near me, I'm happy to share in your bounty.  ;)

I will continue to avoid "news" - if you're feeling inundated, I recommend taking a "news holiday".  You can determine the length of your holiday, and if you decide to join me in my phobia, then I welcome you!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sit-ups Suck

They are an abomination.  I hate them.

They were invented/discovered/created/stumbled upon/developed by the Spawn of Satan.  I hate them.

I did 35 today.  I'll do 40 tomorrow.  I hate them.

They suck, and I hate them.


Last night, I went to bed with thoughts of blogging careening through my head.  It's exciting, you know?  To start a new adventure, doing something you don't consider a personal strength?  Exhilarating, actually.*

Facebook is doing a new thing - your "year in review" - and it's actually a pretty neat thing.  Here's mine: emelle's year in review.  The "machine" that is Facebook did a pretty good job of encapsulating MY 2013.  How'd they do that?  Do they have a thousand monkeys sitting at a thousand typewriters, trying to write Shakespeare, and they ended up capturing my highlights instead?  Hmm.

So anyway, Day Two.  Yesterday, I did complete the required Ab Workout.  I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.  I made progress on the hubby's computer fixes.  I got to talk on the phone to my own personal "Tech Support in India" (Daddy), and even though he was "celebrating" marking the passage of another anniversary without Mommy (she died in 2006), he seemed in good spirits, and our conversations, while mostly tech, were fairly lively.  I don't know that I cried over anything, but I did laugh and think, so I hit 2/3 of Jimmy V's daily goals.  Overall, a Not-Too-Shabby Day!

Hubby gets home from work and we both ask "how was your day?"  His response is "crappy" (or something to that effect); mine is "fine, okay, whatever" (or something to that effect).  He asks me about the progress on his computer and then thanks me for my efforts.  He goes out to the living room to log in to the netbook and check all his online stuff while tuning in to ESPN or some such to hear his sporting news.  I'm in the office playing Solitaire (I know, lame, right?  I'm not even using ACTUAL playing cards; I'm clicking a mouse).

Minutes pass, and he says, "you didn't tell me you started a BLOG today!" to which I respond, winkingly, "you didn't ask!" and the conversation spirals from there - "I didn't ask yesterday.  How could I know to ask today?  You said your day was 'fine'..." etc. from the living room, and my smirking responses from the office.  I'm having a good time, enjoying this repartee a room apart, until I hear what sounds like muttering, under the breath, self-doubt or self-blame coming from the living room.  That was NOT how I planned this conversation, so

I ask, "are you upset that I didn't tell you I started a blog today?"
He replies, "why would I be upset about that?"
"I don't know - you sound grumpy.  I figure you're grumpy with me."
"My customers were grumpy today," he says.  "I'm sorry that I snapped at you."
"You didn't snap at me.  I'm sorry your day was bad, and I'm sorry that I didn't tell you I'd started a blog.  I honestly didn't think of it when you asked how my day was, and I knew you'd discover it on your own."

... and then later, when I ask if he'd actually read it, he says, "yeah.  It sounds... bloggy, like a blog."

YAY!  I sound bloggy!

*What I don't consider a "personal strength" is WRITING.  I'm an actor, meaning I can portray a character someone else has created.  I'm a Voice Actor, meaning I can bring life and character to words someone else has written.  I'm a Script Supervisor, which means I can take copious detailed notes on scenes that I'm seeing and generate reports to help the director and editor piece together a fine filmed work.  I don't have a vision of how stories should be told, so I'm not a Director.  I also don't have stories in my head that are begging to be told, or at least, this is what I've told myself for my whole life.  This blog is a step outside of my comfort zone, to see if I DO have stories to tell.  If I end up, a year from now, having only documented my life as it happens, then we will all know: I am NOT a Writer.  If, however, this blog transforms into "stories," then it will have been a period of personal growth for me, and hopefully, a fun ride for you.  My HUSBAND is already a Writer.  The reason I thought he may have been "upset" with me is that I'm venturing into HIS territory.  I'm not doing this for any kind of capricious reason.  I'm looking to grow here.  I may step on some toes along the way, but I hope that they don't belong to my loved ones, and I hope I don't do it in my first week!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day One

I'm sorta geeky.

I like Star Trek (The Next Gen, mostly) and I "follow" folks like Wil Wheaton (and his wife Anne) and George Takei.  I like comic book and superhero movies but don't "follow" anyone affiliated with them.  I read other blogs like Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess and It Just Gets Stranger, and I also visit a couple of comic-based sites: Scott Meyer's Basic Instructions, which led me to his wife Missy, and then she started  I'm not particularly nerdy about technology - I can find my way around hardware or software but don't have inclinations towards "the latest and greatest" nor towards BUILDING things like websites.  I'm a bit of a Luddite in my attitude towards iAnything; maybe I'm a "control freak" when it comes to things that are proprietary.  I don't tweet.  I'm not on LinkedIn.  I can spend a day and a night my LIFE in Facebook but play none of the games there. 

I DO like building things with my hands and power tools, but I also like letting my nails grow out, which doesn't really happen if you're working with lumber and pointy things (neither of these qualities relate to my geekiness but I mentioned building and it reminded me of the other dichotomies of my psyche).  I cut my own hair, and then I get professional headshots so my agent can submit me for principal acting work, and then my hair grows because I'm letting it, and the headshots no longer reflect how I look.  I want to be working in the entertainment industry (my fave place in the WORLD is "on set") but in any position that would rather have a current snapshot than a professional headshot, or, even better, no photo at all (voice acting or Script Supervision).

I'm not sure how today's going to go, and that's okay.  I'm in the middle (well, first week) of a 30-day Ab Challenge that is already kickin' me... in the ABS, and I haven't yet done TODAY's workout.  We'll see if I can "get 'er done" in one sitting or if I have to spread it out over the course of today (I should at least go TRY to start).  I'm in the middle of daily attempt to follow Coach Jim Valvano's last advice: Laugh, Think, and Cry every day to have a full day.  I'm in the middle of trying to "repair" my husband's computer issues.  I'm in the middle of a bout of unemployment and cold weather in a location that isn't even REMOTELY my preference.  I'm in the middle of stuff, and today is Friday (the 13th, ooh, scary), and I don't know what I'll manage to COMPLETE today, or if I'll just blow off everything and play Mahjongg until my eyes bleed.

I suppose this is sufficient for an intro to blogging.  Let's see what comes!