Monday, July 13, 2015

The "Semi-Colon" and Tattoos

I've been reading a lot of controversy lately about the Semi Colon Tattoo.  People hate it, people love it, and people are fighting over it.  For me, possibly the most ironic thing realized while reading the slew of hateful internet comments about the punctuation mark tat, is that the grammar and spelling in those comments are so atrocious that I can't believe that any of these individuals would know what a semicolon is or how to properly use it in a sentence anyway.

For those of you who don't understand grammar rules surrounding the semicolon, I'll just leave this here:    Explore at your own pace.


So, here is the reason for the controversy. (For those of you who are in need of playing catch up.)  This hated-by-college-professors-everywhere punctuation mark is being caught in a tug of war struggle between two main factions.  First there are those who have lost a portion of their colon (the organ) due to any disease, (though mostly cancer or crohn's victims.)  This is a quite literal and clever play on the symbol's name: semi-colon.  Ha!  Get it?  Because they, or someone they love, don't have a whole, functioning....  ah, nevermind...
The other faction trying to stake a claim on the mark is all about suicide prevention and mental health, and thus they are emphasizing the metaphoric rule of the semicolon: where you thought a sentence would have ended it continues anew.  It wasn't the end at all!  Surprise!  Just like you thought you were gonna...  um, well...  yeah...

Now let me say right now that BOTH are worthy causes, and worthy of claiming the mark.  (Even if you don't understand how to use it in an actual sentence.)  I have lost friends and loved ones to suicide.  I have lost friends and loved ones to colon cancer.  It doesn't matter who had "claimed" the mark first.  There is room for BOTH factions.  After all that's what a semicolon does, you idiots!  It takes two separate clauses and joins them together showing they are related though stand on their own.  Members of both factions have faced hardships and have overcome, or continue to struggle to overcome, them.  It is so insanely silly that people who have been through hell and back would point fingers at the other party and say, "how dare you use the same symbol I use."  Especially when it could be seen as something beautiful that brings these individuals together.  Surviving, or battling darker days.

So, here are a few rules and tips I'm putting into place for a better, and more peaceful understanding of all this commotion.

1.       How to tell the difference.
A person who has a missing portion of their colon will likely place the tattoo on a shoulder, or arm, or stomach, or just about anywhere, really.  Meanwhile a person raising awareness for suicide prevention often has the mark across their wrist.  It’s something easily visible to them when reaching for a razor blade or bottle of pills, hopefully stopping them—savvy?

2.       Don't get one of these tats if you can't handle questions about it!  Or at least get it in a discreet place that won’t prompt unwanted questions.  People are going to be curious about any tattoo.  It’s natural to ask, and getting affronted is not going to help anyone.  Unless if they are being jerks about it, look at it as an opportunity to educate others and raise awareness for your cause.  (Which is why many people are getting the tattoos in the first place. Duh!  Raising awareness!)

3.       Don't assume you know what it means.  If you haven’t caught on by now, (then I don’t know what you’ve been reading this whole time,) but two very different factions are at war over claiming this symbol at the moment.  If you see a person with this symbol tattooed on their person, it could be for either thing.  Or maybe they just like grammar.  Who knows!?  Ask if you really must!

4.      And Lastly, don't hate on someone for putting a visual reminder of s hardship they lived through on their body. I already explained that there is room for both groups in this.  The symbol can join them, and keep them separate at the same time.  But that’s not what this rule/tip is about.  This is for all the haters out there who are saying this is a horrible “attention seeking” tattoo—especially for those facing suicidal thoughts.  Raising awareness, is not the same as "attention seeking," and neither is reminding yourself of the potential for for better days ahead.

I read so many comments like this one responding to an article about suicide awareness/prevention, (I left the bad grammar intact of course):

“Can do it without a tattoo. Don't need to come part of a fashion and show off the fact you had something hard to deal with in your life and just like the attention of it. Grow up. People love drama. Just get on with it. You ent the only ones how have problems. Shit happens. Deal with it and move on. Having this tat means you keep that shitty past with you forever.”

To this ignorant comment I had the pleasure of responding: 

“Or it's a reminder that whatever happened before, wasn't the end.  There is always more to be said.  A happier life to move forward to.  I find it funny that the tattoo is supposed to represent exactly what you're saying.  'Move on with your story.'  Some people just need to remind themselves that.  Everyday.  If YOU can do it without a tattoo, then bully for you.  Why tear down others that need a little help, or reminding?

“Oh, and just FYI...  one of the demographics that have the highest statistics for suicide rate?  Veterans.  1 takes his or her own life every 65 minutes.  Way to be a dick and tell people to "just get over" the suffering they did on YOUR behalf.”

The long of short of it is…  If you are an individual who has been lucky enough to not deal with either of these issues, suicide or surgery, then shut up.  You don’t know what you’re talking about, and hopefully never will. You may be right, “everyone has problems.”  There’s just no need to add on to someone else’s pile, okay?  Don’t be a dick.  And if you’re an individual that falls into one of the demographics using this symbol as a tattooed reminder, remember that there is room for everyone.  You of all people should know that life is far too short to be petty and angry over a tiny little mark that so few know how to properly use in a sentence to begin with.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Financial Responsibility, Special Needs, and Politics.

For those of you who don't know what I do for a living right now (putting myself through school) it's teaching/tutoring students with disabilities. This ranges from visual impairments, hearing impairments, autism spectrum, down syndrome... you get the idea... UWW Whitewater is one of the most accessible schools in the country for students with disabilities. We have a champion wheelchair basketball team, 15 miles of sidewalk to assist mobility, and more. I'm proud of where I work and what I do. It's hard, stressful, and pays hardly more than minimum wage after years of working there and becoming the lead of my department, but that's okay. I do it because I know I'm damn good at it, and these kids need me. I've been told time and time again by my students that I'm the best tutor they've ever had and I'm the most requested tutor for CSD. So yes, damn proud.
Now here's what's bothering me right now... There are rumors. So far, they are just rumors, yet to be confirmed, but circulating none the less, that the 300 million dollar budget cuts are going to effect Students with Disabilities most. Why? Because currently the standards for accessibility laws are somewhat lacking. In other words, all we do at our campus to make our students feel comfortable and give them an equal chance at education is considered "excessive." And since we've already cut and stripped every other area of campus to bare minimum over the past few years, this is one of the only area left to take a hard hit. But I'll say again, this is a "rumor" at present, unconfirmed. Unfortunately a very likely to be true one. But rumor or not, my students are coming to me for answers in a panic, which makes focusing on their studies all the more difficult. And even if I did have answers, I am strictly forbidden from discussing the budget, or politics with any of them per regulations of our department.
So, I am discussing this here, raising my voice so all can understand the impact of certain actions. I know this may alienate me from some of you, and know many of you may want to end your friendship with me after this. I know some of you will want to believe none of this is true and listen to commercials and political sound bytes that make you feel warm and cozy about this travesty instead of hearing out someone directly reporting as an eyewitness. That's up to you. And I can't blame you. Ignorance is bliss. If I could turn a blind eye and live in a world of make-believe, maybe temptation would get the best of me to do exactly that. But I can't.
Bottom line is, we want our cake and to eat it too. And our governor has promised both. And it's true, property taxes have lowered as a result of these budget cuts. A whole five dollars. A future is being stolen from many students so the average property tax holder can afford one more meal at a fast food restaurant. That's what was voted for, but it doesn't have to be this way.
Now I'm not proposing that anyone go out and march and make attempts at recalls. That costs everyone time, energy, and money that we just don't have. What I am proposing is, if this is really a matter of just 5 dollars a person, that means we can save our university system without all that fuss.
Currently, the Whitewater campus is in desperate need of repairs. Particularly in the building that house the English, Math, and Language courses, as well as the Library, but these are far from the only buildings in desperate need. In fact the only two buildings on campus in a range of good to excellent condition are the University Center and Hyland (the building dedicated to accounting and business) which are both soon to suffer along with the rest as well, I'm sure. By donating directly to the UW schools, we can fix this, together.
But please, more than anything, keep all of this in mind when the next vote comes around. Don't let our nation go in the same direction that our state is slipping. Right now the Governor is giving more attention to his potential bid at the presidency than the job he's being payed for--but that's politics and not surprising. If you type in the words "donate to" on Google the top suggested result is currently "Scott Walker." Please, consider what is more important to dedicate your money to, and who is responsible for the need in the first place when the next election comes around.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What is Swagbucks and Why do I Keep Talking About It?

(Skip to FAQ and Earning tips if you just want the short story.)

Okay, so getting down to the crux of things, I'm an adult student with no support from parents or family, and college education is very expensive--about 4,000 dollars per semester for tuition only.  (And that's at a State school!)  So, I need to be frugal about spending and any opportunity I have to make a little extra cash is something I pounce on.  After all, as an adult you have some additional obligations and bills that the average college student can get away without too much worry.  For example, I can't really comfortably live in the dorms with a meal plan.  I need an apartment, complete with furnishings, pot and pans, a car, etc...  However, flexibility is ALSO an issue as I need to work a schedule around classes, and group activities.  How have I done this so far?  I tutor at the Center for Students with Disabilities with the college I attend.  And while I can make my own schedule and have risen in ranks a notch or two now, it still only pays slightly above minimum wage and between work and school and homework I'm scheduled over 60 hours per week.  Of which I'm only getting paid 20 or so.   So how do I make ends meet?

Swagbucks helps.

There's a lot of conflicting opinion about Swagbucks out there.  (Mostly because some people think it's a get-rich-quick scam or pyramid scheme.  It's not.  I make about 75 dollars a month doing it in those little "down time" moments I have to spare in my day.  Mostly while waiting for class to start or a student to show up to our appointment.  Or even while watching TV sometimes (because I don't even really have to pay that close attention to what I'm doing with the site anymore.  Just a lot of pointing and clicking.)  But whenever I talk to someone about this I always seem to get the same questions.


How do you get paid?:
 In "gift cards," or so they're called.  But I usually select the PayPal gift card option, which deposits to my bank account after verifying with PayPal.  It takes about 10 days for this processing to go through but it's never failed me yet.

Is it a scam?:
No, I have been paid every time I've requested my rewards.  (But you do have to be patient for processing sometimes.  Remember they have THOUSANDS of prizes to process every day.)

How can they afford to pay people?:
Think of it this way--Have you noticed all the ads on facebook lately?  Do you realize how much money Facebook is making off of that?  Well, Swagbucks is a lot like Facebook, but without "friends" (or as much drama.)  It's a social hub that advertisers are paying for space on, and Swagbucks is giving you a cut of that money as a reward for clicking on links, or shopping at certain stores.  Swagbucks isn't really paying you, the advertisers are!

Do I have to enter a credit card or anything like that?:
 NO!  AND DON'T EVER DO THAT!  (See section about Special Offers, Shopping and Credit Cards at very bottom of screen.)

How much are Swagbucks "worth?":

Every 100 Swagbucks is about 1 dollar.  So it's a slow build, but think of it like putting change in a piggy bank every day.  It adds up FAST.

How do I sign up?:
Easy.  You can even connect it to your facebook account so you don't have a pesky login screen to type in each time.  But if you could do my a HUGE favor, let me refer you!  It will help us BOTH out in the long run.  (Referals earn 1 cent for every 10 cents you make outside of bonuses and similar earnings.)  All it takes is you signing up via this link:

If you have more questions please leave them as comments.  My referals will have priority in Q&A of course.


It took me a long time to figure out the ins and outs of the site on my own.  And there's still more to learn!  But these are some basics that will send you on your way and a step ahead of the rest.

The best/fastest ways I find I earn are...

1. clicking videos in the "watch" tab
      -Every ten videos you watch will give you 3 swag bucks.
      -You don't have to watch the WHOLE video.  Just wait for the little green circle on the "SB METER" at the top of the video screen to fill in and click the next one in line.
      -I keep sound off

2.  Play
      -There is a game called Swag Jump.  You will be awarded 2 swagbucks for every other game you play no matter how high or low you score.  Just grab about five icons in the game and you'll be good.
      -Swagjump is the fastest that you can play and "lose" without consequence.
      -There's a limit of 10 swagbucks per day for games. (In other words, 10 games earn 10 SB.)

3.   Search
      -Just like you do with Google search.  I usually sit back and just type in random words in the Swagbuck Search Bar.  Every so often it will reward me with anywhere from 5 to 30 swagbucks.  SUPER easy, I usually win about 10 each time.

4.   "Swag Guy" is on the front page.  And just a generic term the community gave this picture.
      -This one is a little trickier, but FAST.
      -I tend to keep this function up on half of the screen with the "watch" videos open on the other half.  (double your earnings/half the time.)
      -You will either have to sample watch a few seconds of videos, or one commercial then click it to "interact" with an add to earn 2 swagbucks.

5    Swag CODES
      -Follow Swagbucks on Facebook and Twitter or install the Swagbucks extension on your browser to be alerted to "codes"
      -There is a little "gear" icon at the top of your homepage where you enter it for free swagbucks.  (Usually 3 or 4 each code.)

6    Shop.
      -If you're going to shop at,,, etc.  You get cash back by letting Swagbucks refer you to those sites.
      -Installing the swagbucks toolbar extension for your browser helps to never miss one of these cash back opportunities too.  Everytime I visit a site that qualifies it asks me if I want to activate swagbucks shop and earn rewards before purchasing!  YAY!

7    SBMobile TV app
     -REALLY fast (skip feature) to earn 2 swagbucks every 5 videos.
     -Unfortunately, this is only good if you have a smartphone with free wifi connection and has a limit of 36 swagbucks per day.

8    Special Offers
     -There will be a tab that says "Discover" and "Special Offers is under that
     -Here is where you'll find a lot of videos and things that are worth a buck or two just for clicking on them.  EASY BUCKS!!!  (I like the "Radium One" tab in this feature.)
     -There are other "better paying" offers here too BUT PROCEED WITH CAUTION
     -Remember never enter a telephone number or credit card number unless REALLY MEANING TO.  Even for "trial offers"  They don't cancel on their own most times and you'll get a bunch of telemarketers calling your number if you aren't careful.  Just remember this is not Swagbucks collecting that info, but the advertisers Hiring Swagbucks to connect them to you.


    -Stay away from the surveys.  They are often pointless, really long, and usually "disqualify you" at the last second anyway.  SUPER FRUSTRATING!

    -Pay attention to your "daily goal" meter on the left hand side of the homepage.  
          *This is where the REAL bucks come in. If you meet your goal every day for 7 days, you will not only get your daily bonus but a winning streak bonus too.
          *Bonuses are credited to your account on the 5th of every month.  So anything you earn the rest of this month will be credited on the 5th of next.

    -Watch for CONTESTS.  (Usually seen as an icon at the top left of your home screen.)
          *You have to "sign up" or agree to be assigned a team.  But last month I got a bonus 100 swagbucks for being on the LOSING team. (The winning team got 500 I think.)

    -NEVER ENTER CREDIT CARD ----unless you're really meaning to buy something through the "Shop and Earn" feature.  (I stay away from all the "special offers" things.  It's very spammy.)
    -Redeeming for gift cards is tricky the first time and takes about a week to credit, so I was nervous my first time.  But just give them time to "process" your request.  You'll get your money!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Hahahaha....  no.  I'm FAR from tying a second knot.  But I won't pretend like the potential of a second marriage hasn't crossed my mind from time to time.  More just the party planning portion of it than any imaginings of a second marriage.  You know, the FUN part.  Because It's natural to imagine yourself in other's shoes and, after all, it does seem like just about everyone I know is either getting married, remarried, or even having kids soon.  With so many wedding preparations abounding, it's easy to think, what would you do if it were your shindig?  (And if you read this to the end, I promise to elaborate on some of those fun bits of what I would plan.) 

As a little kid I was never the kind of girl to dress in white and pretend to have a wedding with a bunch of stuffed animals in attendance.  Nope.  I was much more the girl to imagine having super powers or battling dragons, and fantasize about growing up to someday own my own movie theater that would have an automatic delivery system so you could order popcorn or even pizza right from your seat.  Yup, I was apparently fervently determined to contribute to the nation's obesity epidemic.  Not much has changed since childhood.  Well, minus the thinking robotic food services are a good idea...  I'm still that bull headed kid that imagines awesome adventures and fun gadgets.  Deep down, (or maybe not so deep,) I'm still that kid that sees a whole world through a lens of imagination and promise.  Which is exactly why I'll likely never get married again, despite having an entire wedding near planned out.


As mentioned earlier, I keep seeing friends marry and remarry.  It's all fine and dandy.  I'm happy for them.  But sometimes it bothers me.  Not in an envious way by any means.  More in a, you were divorced for all of two minutes and met the REAL "love of your life" already?, kind of way.  I just feel people jump into some commitments WAY too fast.  Because I'm pretty certain that you referred to your last husband or wife as the "love of your life" once upon a time too.  It comes off as less genuine and more of you and your ex racing to see which of you can find someone to rub in the other's face first, or you just being too uncomfortable to be without someone.  ...I can think of better reasons for getting married again.

On the same note I can't stand when people approach relationships like job interviews and when asked why they're remarrying answer, "well, he gives me flowers, and has a steady job and is good with kids/animals..."  Nothing makes me wince more.  This is not a position you're filling!  If your answer is anything less than, "Because he makes me feel like I can reach out and touch the moon if I really wanted to, and makes me so happy I can't stand it!" you might want to take a step back and reevaluate the partnership.  Because I'm pretty sure I'm capable of buying my own gorram flowers, establishing my own career, and taking Fido to the vet.

Me?  I've never been so happy to be single.  I'm not saying I would turn my nose up at a relationship if it came along.  I can picture myself happy that way too.  But I will say, if I had someone in my life I probably wouldn't be as focused on my schoolwork, nor would I feel as free to go to Japan.  Why?  Because the kind of guy (once in a relationship) that is supportive of such things (I've found in my personal experience) is rare indeed.  These last five years of being single gave me ample opportunity to explore the world and discover myself all over again.  And in that five years, I've come to realize what I've worked for and what I deserve.  And that's first place.


Good question.  And perhaps the best way to define "first place" is by recognizing if you're second place. 

  •             Second place is when you're with someone as the consolation prize.  They actually wanted Jane Smith, but after a lengthy failed pursuit, decided to settle for you instead.  

  •             Second place is when you are dedicated to a relationship, but your husband or wife is dedicated to their job, (not even career but "job") and their family (not counting you as family,) or their friends, or their hobbies... or basically EVERYTHING under the sun except you, first.  There has to be balance and these other things need ample attention too.  But I had once listened to several years of "(insert random activity or weather condition or...) is only good for a few weeks, and we have all the time in the world."  Well...  apparently we don't.  I've never had a relationship where something or someone wasn't a higher priority than I was 100% of the time, and I refuse to pander to that kind of "partnership."

  •             Second place is when YOU'RE the one that "filled the position."  If you think your partner is more interested in your character traits or skills than they are in you?  Don't settle.  You deserve someone that loves you.  Not someone that's "hiring" you.  As much as you may be in love with that person and thinking, well as long as their mine what does it matter the reason why/maybe they'll grow to love me...  I promise you in five years or so, you aren't going to feel that way.  You're going to get tired of waiting for them to catch up to where you are emotionally, and resentful if they haven't.  I remember during my divorce talking with my ex about different ways he can replace the things I was always doing for him.  Dishwasher and laundry service kind of jokes.  (We tried to get through things with a sense of levity.)  But I'll always remember when I suggested restaurant food he replied "Yeah, but restaurants don't cook as good as you."  ...My head heard the compliment.  My heart heard something different.  I know what was meant behind the comment, but I felt if I had stayed it would have been because I was a valued "employee."  Not a wife and partner.

  •             Second place is when they deny telling you how they feel.  Now, I'm not talking about actual verbal communication.  Just communication in general.  Love gives you the jitters.  It makes us clumsy fools.  But it also gives us courage.  I'm sick of watching people admire from afar, brooding over what might have been, when they never "spoke up" in the first place.  There are a million ways to tell a person you care about them besides calling them up on the telephone.  It doesn't take vocabulary, per se.  But dude, find a way to say it one way or another, because, a word to the wise? If you love someone, you tell them. If you can't find the courage to do so? Well.... That's probably not love.  And you probably don't deserve that prize after all.

Of course there are more Second place qualifiers, I'm certain.  But these are the big ones for me.  So, I'm going to be single for a good long while still, I'm sure.  I'm picky now.  Pickier than I've ever been.  I know what I deserve because I know what everyone deserves.  To be loved.  Genuinely.  And I'm not backing down.  Me and my pet dragon are going to keep having adventures until someone comes along that can keep up with us.  Someone that has as much a sense of inner child/no settling stubbornness as I.  And if they don't... well, I still have a pet dragon, and that's awesome enough on its own.

But I promised at the beginning of this post some fun stuff if you got to the end.  Namely, what I would do if ever planning a wedding again.  Something better than stuffy white lace and boring flowers.  No.  If I ever did that whole mess again, it would be a celebration that would reflect me and my partner and our adventurous spirits.  It would be a pirate wedding.


My last wedding had a guest list so large that I had to cut a bunch of my friends from it to accommodate a bunch of people I barely knew that were friends or relatives of my mom.  I pandered to everyone.  I didn't want alcohol present, because several people I knew to be in attendance have "problems" and I didn't want drama.  (Besides I wasn't legal drinking age yet either.)  But I was talked into it...  not that it mattered, since those individuals brought their own anyway.  ...You can't make this shit up.  Anyhow...  The day was very very little as I wanted it to be.  The groom was about the only thing that remained as originally planned, in fact.  But I made the best of it, and now I know exactly what to place on my list of do's and don'ts.  And my next wedding, I'm going to make certain is about my partner and I.  No one else.


Let's start with the ceremony shall we?

1.  I'm on a boat!

People making a big deal about your wedding attire or those creative vows you chose to write yourself because pesky second cousin Beatrice, whom you've never met, won't appreciate the humor?  Well, a sailboat wedding is for you.  Limit the guest list to those close friends and family by having it on a boat with a limited capacity.

2. Attire.

Don't want to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a big bulky dress that you're going to sweat your ass off in, be too uncomfortable to eat while wearing, and worry about staining or ruining by the end of the night?  Not to mention need your maid of honor's help to go to the bathroom because it's so hard to get in and out of?  Funny how those pirate gals had these troubles on the back burner, eh?  The fun thing about pirate wear is, you probably already have some in your closet.  Yup, grab a pair of capris, and that ratty old shirt that a bit too big, get a corset to throw on over it, and you're set.  (The picture above is actually from the Pyramid Collection for about a 100 bucks.  Which can be found here.)   Instead of spending a fortune on fancy shoes and jewelry, any gaudy costume jewelry from your local antique mall or Goodwill store will do.  And about those shoes.  Boots for the ceremony are great but for that reception?  How does abandoning painful high heels for barefoot on a beach sound?  Which brings us to...

3.  Location!

No expensive reception halls, or stuffy church basements.  Let nature do the majority of the decorating for you.  And again, did I mention the sand is more comfy to dance on than heels?  Grab some tiki-torches and some wood for a bonfire come nightfall, open the rum and let the party run itself!

4.  Menu

You're on a beach.  You've got a bonfire going, and music, and....  who needs fancy place settings and such?  Pirate food can be anything.  But c'mon, who can picture movie with a captain's table, or any pirate feast without a roast pig?  Let's do this thing luau style...-ish.  Add a few kabobs and potato salad on the side...  Hey, sounds like a good feast to me.

The drinks are as equally easy at that point.  Rum and Ale are all you need, as mentioned.  Make a Rum Punch,  or have some rum and coke, and then beer will do the rest.  No need to buy an entire liquor store.  (Just the entire stock of Rum.)

5.  Decorations.

The decorations are possibly the easiest part.  Tiki torches instead of candles, a pirate chest for a card box/gift table, sand dollars and fake jewels and chocolate coins strewn about on the sitting tables, fish net table clothes...  And hey, nature does the rest, you have the beautiful ocean and beach full of sea shells to use  If you really want candles, fill shells with was and wick.  And why not have your guests not only sign your guest book, but rope off a section of sand for writing messages in as well.

6.  The Cake and favors, or, I've Got a Jar of Dirt!

Nope.  I've seen too many cake disasters.  I used to be a decorator.  It was my job to witness them.  When faced with paying for an outrageously overpriced, and likely extremely dry and bland tasting cake, I'd rather eat dirt.  This is the best Idea I think I've ever had.  A jar of dirt cake for each guest.  No worries about it getting stale, or sand or bugs getting to it, because the jars will be sealed.  Only one small truffle dish with a cake topper will set out for the ceremonial Bride and Groom Cutting...  er...  Scooping of the cake.  (With a shovel instead of a knife of course.)  :D  The jars double as favors.  Each labelled or engraved with the names and date, a packet of flowers will accompany each to be taken home, filled with real dirt, and flowers planted in them.

7.  The Ring.

 Yes, I have even fantasized this down to the ring.  An affordable, yet stunning, and completely unique ring.

It seems the only thing I don't have in this fantasy is the groom.  So no...  no plans on ever getting married again.  Just playful imaginings of one little day.  Maybe I'll give one of the characters in a future book this fabulous ceremony.  Doesn't have to go to waste that way.  Hell, maybe I'll write in a dragon or two too.  ;)  Just for good measure.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I SEE THE LIGHT!!! ....literally

My life is far from uneventful.  And that (practically free) vacation I mentioned in my last post?  Is needed more than ever...

It's pretty common knowledge that my life pretty much revolves around reading, writing, and art.  Once upon a time, in my wee teenage years, I was about to embark to an art school for computer animation.  A mere 6 months or so before this I was diagnosed with an eye condition that (what I was told at the time) gave me a 50/50 chance of going blind.  Well I still went to school anyway giving the odds for my eyes my proverbial finger.  Why I came home from school that time isn't relevant, and I never really regretted the decision.  A few years later (as more was discovered about the condition) I was assured there are two different kinds and I would not be going blind after all.  Yay!

Since all of this, my life has taken a great many turns and I found that professionally art takes something of a back seat to my writing.  Well... maybe it's more riding shotgun.  But somehow (despite being told I'm not going blind after all) I was comforted with the idea that I was no longer going to try to make a career out of something so dependent on my vision.  You know...  Just in case.  Never really thought about how dependant writing was.

I've been trying to play it cool the last couple of months.  But something has been horribly wrong.  Maybe "play it cool" is the wrong phrase.  Denial.  Yeah, that seems a little more suiting.  Straight up denial.

It started with a crack... 

I find it funny how many parallels I can draw to Amy Pond's character in Dr. Who.  Here I am, staring at a crack only I can see, yet it's very real and is a precursor to bad things coming.  But as much as I would adore thinking that The Doctor was about to show up in my yard with an apple I gave him as a child, I knew that wasn't going to be the case.  For a good solid week (plus some) this squiggly black line was dead set straight across my right eye's field of vision.  It would move if I moved my eye.  I don't mean it would move as if it were some kind of sticker glued onto my eye and moving my eye took it with it, but it would move as if it were a flag on a pole with the wind shifting east to west and back instead.

Now I've had a couple of friends and family members go through "retinal detachments" in the past and like any proper OCD person obsessed with learning would,  I dug into research mode.  I love when new things come across my sponge-like mind.  This black crack is called a "floater" and is actually pretty common and not to be worried about.  All that's happening is the visceral fluids in the back of the eye begin to shrink as we get older and sometimes this leaves something of holes back there.  Sometimes they go away.  Sometimes they don't.  Some people just learn to live with them.  But sometimes, just sometimes, this shrinking fluid action causes the retina of the eye to pull and strain away from the eyeball until it tears/rips/detaches.

Seeing the Light
A couple of weeks after the "floater" went away, I found I had these sparkly shadows forming over my vision in that same eye.  It was as if a camera flash went off and the light imprint just never completely went away.  I didn't make the connection right away.  It was as if I just stood up too fast, and I figured it was just because of stress and such things.  And then it kept getting worse, until on occasion entire blocks of my vision were missing in that eye.  Several nights I'd wake up and half of the vision was just plain black.  I made an appointment afraid that the combination of floater and new lack of vision meant what it did for my friends.  Detached retina.

Let me explain the hazards of the detached retina as simply as possible.  The retina is responsible for (among other things) providing oxygen to your eye.  Think of it like the tube that connects the tank to the mouth piece when scuba diving.  No air, means no life.  Another example?  Ever put a rubber band around a finger and watch it turn purplish until mom yelled at you that your finger is going to fall off?  Something like that.

It isn't completely without hope of course.  In the 1980's, before we knew much about this, it usually meant you were out of luck and there wasn't much to do but pray to the archaic God of your choosing.  Today, we have the surgical advancements that allow us to fix the malady, first by inserting a small gas pocket behind the eye where it will push it back on, and then using a laser to, in essence, "seal" it in place.  It's time sensitive though and must be caught within a day or two.  (I'm paraphrasing and simplifying of course.)  Not the worst thing in the world, and relatively painless as far as surgery can go.  But for me, it couldn't come at a worse time.  Why?  You can't go in a pressurized cabin dramatically changing altitudes with a gas pocket sitting in your skull.  In fact you can't do much else but lay face down for weeks on end while it heals.

I was freaking out, and only furthering my own denial that anything was actually wrong.  I was NOT going to let this stop me for going to Japan!  Hell NO!  But I couldn't just let my eye fall out either.  (*Note that is hyperbole.  It wouldn't literally fall out.)  I made an emergency appointment at the doctor who wanted to see me immediately worried about that I could lose vision permanently as well.  When I got to the clinic I was assure that I do not have a detached retina.  I was going blind for a completely different reason.

The People of Glaucoma Welcome you!

I have what?  I'm not even 32 yet!  Glaucoma?  And how was this not seen coming?  No pun intended.  I wanted to hit someone.  Namely the assholes at the Walmart Corporation (back when I worked for them a couple years ago but I'm sure this hasn't changed) that decided a suitable substitution for providing an option for eye insurance was to give us a 20% discount off their store's eye centers, forcing us to use their sub-par services instead.   And when you need things like being referred to a specialist?  Or eye surgery?  IF the doctor there is educated enough to catch such things, you have NO recourse to pay.  The assistants working the pressure tests and color blind charts were rotating tires last week in the auto center, and the "doctor" is probably there because he flunked out of dental school.  My point is, the type of Glaucoma I have?  REALLY very painfully obviously catch-able if you know what to look for and shouldn't have come to this.

But, looking on the brighter side, I will still be able to go to Japan as the surgery I'm scheduled for is going to be fairly simple and should have me completely back on my feet after a couple of weeks.  In fact I shouldn't be too bad off after a couple of days.  I just can't put too much strain on my body physically for the more long term.  Classes are of course going to suck as I'm supposed to refrain from computer work... or reading....  or art....  or even watching tv......  shit.  Looks like I'll be going for a lot of walks?  As long as I don't look where I'm gonig :P

But of course as mentioned it could be worse.  The surgery uses a laser which will punch a hole in my eye where other people already have holes naturally to allow the pressure that's building to drain.  The doctor is willing to work with me on costs, and I seem to have several friends willing to help with chores, rides, and in "other ways" too....  I seem to have collected several offers for something that hadn't even remotely crossed my mind as it is just generally not part of my life style...  But hey.  Not saying I'm accepting...  But those walks may have the potential to be more entertaining than television after all?

Friday, March 1, 2013


In the last few weeks, a few things have changed.  Some pretty major changes actually...  And I can hardly breathe.

For starters, I changed jobs.  As romantically cliche as being able to say I put myself through college by (literally) scrubbing toilets is, I've moved on.  I was offered a position with the university tutoring.  Something I had applied for last year but had yet to acquire enough credits to qualify for.  And as teaching is going to look far more desireable on a resume vs janitorial, I was compelled to take the offer.  ....Despite the fact that it is at a pay cut back down to minimum wage.  (*sigh....  It would be fine if it weren't for the fact that my appointments keep cancelling on me, and I don't get paid if they don't show.)  I went from making about 100 a week to 50 a week.  Getting nervous.

I will admit I'm starting to panic just a little about finances.  My internship in Japan is not going to come cheaply for me.  Now, granted, the airfare is covered as well as meals and bording.  But, that doesn't mean I won't have my regular bills back home to keep up with.  Credit cards, phone, rent....  I've put together a plan to get by for the most part, and really that's where basically ALL of my tax refund is being dedicated.

I still have some hopes for a scholarship or two I applied for.  The other day one of my professors paused while walking past my desk, tapped it, and whisperred, "expect some good news soon."  Part of me wants to stay realistic and assume that she was simply saying that she graded a paper that I did well on.  But the other, more optomistic side, wants to imagine that she is on one of the deciding boards that awards the applicants.

But I suppose one good thing has come from my needing to raise funds for my education.  It has afforded me an unusual opportunity.  I have a difficult time ever "asking" for money.  And that goes double for family.  My mom's side tends to always tie strings on.  A gift is never free with them.  You will somehow owe them.  And they will cash in by evoking guilt over not going to church services frequently enough or... Anyhow, I always make it a point to earn what I'm given.  Either by promising to do my best academically to qualify for scholarships or rally sponsors, or by manual labor.  I have a need to prove my worth.  And I'm going to come back to that concept in a moment.  But first...

Keeping it in the Family

So, in my need for funds, upon visiting my parents the offer was made to help (however mildly) to alleviate my financial stress.  They really aren't in much of a position to do so, and as I said I don't take anything I haven't earned.  Lucky for me I have excellent handyman skills.  Couple that with my crackerjack cleaning skills and consider the remodling of the bathroom good as done.  I'm replacing all the caulk, restoring the floor grout.  Refinishing the cabinets.  Restoring the tub....  It will be a well earned commission.  Cheaper for my parents than hiring a professional, and mutually beneficial for me.  But the commission is almost besides the point.  In my time spent there these past couple of weeks, a piece of information was finally divulged to me.  A peice of information I have been without for the past 31 years.

Everyone knows I love my dad very much.  Hell, if I had to choose between my mom or dad, he's the victor 99.9 % of the time.  But in the biological scheme of things, he is my adoptive stepfather.  My biological father, the sperm donor, has been kept a very closely gaurded secret by my mother.  Decades of asking, acheived nothing.  My birth certificate was intentionally left blank.  No other family member knows, and for a long time I was confident that my mother would take the secret to her grave.  Until two weekends ago.  Whatever magic words I managed to say this time, I'll never know.  Whatever changed my mother's mind...  I have a name now.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  I knew whatever it was that I was going to feel I wouldn't feel it right away.  I think it's starting to sink in now...  And I'm struggling with it.

I should mention however that I have NO intentions of ever contacting this man.  ...or his wife.  ...or the 3 other half siblings I apparently have.  ...or....  fuck.  .......Wellllp.  At least I have a name to go off of, so I can at least avoid accidentally dating a cousin or something.  I just don't want to disturb things.  After all... I'm not sure he actually knows I even exist, let alone any of the rest of them.  In fact, I have very good reason to believe that he doesn't know I exist.  If I show up now, it could very potentially destroy an entire family.  It's best I just stay away.

But as I said I'm not done processing so let me go back to the whole other thing I was talking about--

My Monetary Worth.

So today I was talking with another student, and we were discussing student debt and such.  This girl, let me start off, is rather clueless.  She doesn't seem to know what she wants to do.  She seems thoroughly unenthused about doing assignments, usually half-assing it.  She is one of those individuals that goes to college because you're supposed to go to college.  And one of those individuals that you can tell has never truly worked a day of her life.  Yet she always has fancy manicured nails, has an expensive phone, etc...  I struggle sometimes with the concept of being happy for the fortunes that smile upon others.  I admit that.  This is one of those times.

This individual was awarded a scholarship in the TENS of thousands for attending our university.  She has NO student debt.  Between the scholarship and the grants she's been awarded, she's covered.  When I ask if her family helps her cover her other bills, like food and phone, she replied "no."  I couldn't let it go.  I didn't understand how she could have that much just being given to her in grants.  Turns out, her grandmother invested more than 15 grand in stocks for her to use in college.  Somehow, she doesn't consider this as help from family.  ...If I were dead I'd be rolling in my grave.  Why?  Because when I asked how she qualified for the scholarship, if it was for good grades, or talent in the arts....  WHAT was it that made her so special?  She wrote an essay.  That was all.  She wrote a few paragraphs on why she needed the money.  The person who already had family supporting her with thousands upon thousands of dollars, wrote an essay about why she so desperately needed the money, and won first place.

I'm happy for her.  I am.  But I struggle to be.  Because through all of my hard work, all of my turmoil, I have nothing but debt to show and more turmoil ahead?  This path is by no means going to get easier.  While others just breeze through life, and never even appreciate what a miraculous scenario they've been given:  a supportive family, the freedom to enjoy education, and the luxuray of free time to dedicate towards it...  And I don't need the lecture that this is just a lesson so I WILL appreciate what I've worked for.  It is a lesson I have learned long ago, believe me.  I just can't help but wish I had just a portion of that good luck.  Just enough to alleviate some of this.  I just can't help but think how many other students at her school were probably in so much greater need, or so much more dedicated to accademic excellence.  I can't help but think that the people that donated that scholarship had intended it to go to someone that would have fully appreciated it.

.....I need a break.  I need a vacation.  And I'm taking one!

I know what you're thinking, "what? you're going to spend money on a vacation after all this bitching about financial stress?"  Let me rectify that assumption.  I will be working nonstop, (7days a week between the remodling and the tutoring gigs, not to mention my writing assistant job as well) until the end of the year.  I will have 2 weeks of time between the end of this semester and start of summer semester, where I will begin classes again, for a couple of weeks, and then my internship for Japan begins.  I will be working hard in Japan and return the weekend before Fall Semester begins.  (In other words, I will not have a break again until Winter Break of next year.  Savvy?

But you're right.  I still can't afford a luxurious get away.  Nor can I "waste" any time.  So, I'll be heading off to visit a friend, who is allowing me a place to crash.  Which means a kitchen to cook in... etc...  In other words, it will be no more expensive (aside transportation out there) than if I were staying home.  As for wasting time, there is a university out there I want to check out.  No I'm not planning on transferring schools.  (...Not yet anyway. And if I were I'd be looking at Miami.)  No.  What I want to look at is a University which just so happens to be rated in the top 20 in the world for creative writing PHDs.  Again, it's kind of just a pipe dream right now.  But it's kind of like shopping for a car.  Sure, you know you're going to end up in the sensible VW, but how often do you have an excuse to test drive the Ferrari?  (There are also 3 schools in New York that boast such reputations I wouldn't mind seeing either BTW.  But that trip will have to wait until more affordable.)  In the meantime, I'm justifying this trip as productive and frugal, as well as relaxing.

So that's where I am.  Oh and as a side update, we are almost to the halfway point and it looks like I'm maintaining A's in all 6 classes thus far.  (Seeing as I'm taking 18 credits this semester, I'll admit I'm proud of that.)  Yay.  I'm hoping for another Straight A finish.  Keep random body parts crossed for me to make it to the end maintaining it.

One last thing...  If any out there are so inclined to donate a buck or two to this silly education idea I have, I have put together a Gofundme page.  (THANK YOU to those that already have by the way.  You have no idea how much its appreciated!)  I'm looking at this page as a scholarship I'm putting together for myself funded by YOU, my audience.  I will never ask for any more than one semester's tuition at a time, and in exchange I give a whole hearted promise that my academic performance will ALWAYS be to the very best of my capabilities.  If you so wish, all you need do is follow the link below.  Thanks!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Another Writing Exercise Story

I wrote a short story during my new creative writing class for an exercise.  It's...  strange.  Not something I would typically write.  But it turned out better than I anticipated.  We were given a list of 6 words, and had to use 4 of them.  We were also given a situation where we were in a vehicle of some kind where we had to imagine someone's mother in the car or truck with us and what we were doing, what the vehicle looked like... etc...  Then we were given a quote (just one line,) from a story we read in class, and try to work that line into our text as well.  At the end I will tell you the four words and cite the line that was worked in.  Until then...

Happy reading.

When you think of a blur of red down the freeway, you tend to think of a sporty little car; sleek and young.  We are not that car.  We are a minivan, clunky, and awkward, same as this ride.  I'm sitting in the far back with my cousins, my mother's mother at the helm, stern faced and unforgiving as Captain Hook, but without the Disney charm.  She turns the radio dial, flipping through stations until finding her usual Christian A.M. station. Her salt and peppered hair blow in our silence that follows.  Her polyester blend elastic waistband pants complete the look.  ...Strangest pirate I've ever seen.

These rides used to be enjoyable.  A ritual part of Saturday afternoons with Grandma, right between the tuna fish sandwiches and bowling pins.  Yup.  Saturdays used to be fun.  Saturdays used to be about family.  But we had grown apart.  We had grown up.  And the adults in my family saw me differently too it seemed.  My love of psychology and rationale made the rest of them look at me like I was unstable.  As if I was going to begin spontaneously lighting things on fire.

Gram-Gram the pirate.

Me, the pyromaniac.

The backseat was making me sick, but it was better than the alternative, up front.  First mate.  That seat had passed to Tommy, the youngest of the cousins.  Still naive enough to not understand my mother's mother's racist or homophobic rants.  Or worse, maybe he does.   ...I worry about Tommy sometimes.

The bowling alley smelled of cigarettes and sweaty stale socks.  I didn't hear the argument that started between the pirate and the simple shoe rental boy but one look at his rainbow bracelet, and the missing pieces of what it was REALLY about filled themselves in.  My cousins remained quietly lined along the counter that turned the corner and lead into the bar, patiently waiting for the scene to be over.  Some of them had the sense to look ashamed.  All of them had the sense to look sympathetic to the rainbow clad young man while the pirate rolled up her eyes, and screwed up her mouth and stuck her leathery thin face into his smooth bland one.

I sighed, losing patience and tried to find the courage to take another stand against our grandmother.  But I halted a second, distracted by young Tommy's stirring.  He picked up a small book of matches from the bar and started toying with it.

I smiled.  Maybe there was some hope for the kid after all.
Four words (or phrases) used:
Tuna Fish Sandwich
Bowling Pins

Line used:
"(She) rolled up her eyes, and screwed up her mouth and stuck her leathery thin face into his smooth bland one."
(From A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor)