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27th-Jan-2014 03:55 pm - Can't hold us
Real world
So I cancelled my cable today. What? WHAT? Now what am I going to hate-watch when I could be (and probably should be) doing literally anything else???

Well, honestly. If they offered a cable package that was Comedy Central, Food Network, and whatever channel happens to be marathoning Mythbusters at the time, they could talk me into staying. Otherwise, I'm paying out the nose for a zillion channels I don't actually watch and I can get basic cable for free if I get a digital antenna. I like free! I also like the idea of cutting two thirds off my AT&T bill because my internet is actually fairly cheap.

The customer service rep I spoke to, Frank, had a deep voice with a thick Southern drawl.

"Now, how may I exceed your expectations today?"
"Well, I'd like to cancel my television service."
"Ouch."

He was extraordinarily nice and understanding when I explained that it was really nothing AT&T did or could have done; I just need to take that charge out of my budget, period. He sounded like a Southern Eeyore, though, and that made it funnier.

Now I'm debating the merits of Hulu Plus vs. Netflix for my entertainment fix. After all, I still have a perfectly good TV and couch. No need to let it sit there and molder.
12th-Jan-2014 06:13 pm - It's been said
Captain my Captain
The inhabitant(s) of the apartment above me must be the cleanest human being(s) on the planet because I swear the shower runs about three times a day. I notice these things. And thanks to the stellar construction of the building, I could do a Family Circus-style dotted line tracing the paths that anyone up there takes as they walk around. That's why I'm confused as to how many people might be living there: it is SO CREAKY AND NOISY that I have to entertain the possibility that an actual army squadron has taken up residence.

Yeah, I really need to get out of the apartment. Possibly.
6th-Jan-2014 12:45 pm - I'm gonna make it through this year
DT
Would you like to know my New Year's resolution? It's simple and health-oriented, but perhaps not the same health resolution most people are making at this time of year.

I, stormswift, hereby declare that I am not going to buy anything that is specifically targeted towards weight loss.

Sure, I'll do my best to eat a healthy and balanced diet, but it's not going to be at the expense of my self-esteem. I'll ramp up my fruits and veggies intake, I'll dial back on saturated fats, fine. But no, I won't spend a single cent on companies who are trying to tear down self-image. I won't buy anything that touts how few calories it has. Nothing that advertises itself as a weight loss supplement, or diet food, or anything like that. They've spent all that money convincing people (mostly women) that we don't look like we should, and so I refuse to give them any of that money back. Nope.

I think I may expand that scope towards image-based selling in general. Has anyone seen that deodorant commercial that says "Reduce underarm dark spots!!!"? Because I nearly threw something at my television when I did, thinking "Is this seriously what we're shaming women about now? UNDERARM DARK SPOTS?"

I have a feeling that this resolution will do wonders for my mental and physical health.
13th-Dec-2013 10:45 am - Prime the pump
DT
Oh, the universe said, eyeing me with a speculative gaze, I see that you updated blog. Bless your heart, did you think that you finally had something to write about? Why didn't you say so?

Yesterday morning. I get up, go about my business, make a cup of tea.

If only I'd known that the simple act of making a cup of tea would soon become a luxury of the highest order. When I decided I wanted a tea refill, I went to the faucet and stuck the kettle underneath. Turned the handle.

Sputter. Sputter. Nothing.

What? WHAT? How could this be? As much as I might complain about my apartment, they've been very consistent about warning before outages. I went out to check that no notice had been pinned to my door that I somehow missed. Nope, nothing. Then I realized that oh yeah, I should probably tell them about this, so I pulled out my phone and dialed. Sat through the menu. Picked an option. Waited too long and got hung up on. Typical.

Then what should I hear but a tapping, tapping, upon my front door. The delayed notice had appeared and I took it, puzzled. The thing was torn instead of neatly cut, and confirmed my worst fear: We need to inform you that the water to your building will be on intermittingly [sic] over the next 24-48 hours for pipe inspections.

24-48 hours? Intermittingly?? I wasn't sure which offended me more.

First off, the "intermittent" thing was a flat-out lie. I didn't have water all day. The other lie? That it was for "pipe inspections", since they finally came clean in an e-mail at the end of the day: a water main had burst, leaving five buildings without water. FIVE. BUILDINGS. So that explained the hasty note, the lack of forewarning, and the complete lack of water at all. Gaaaaah!

But never let it be said that I can't adapt. I gathered all the water bottles available to me and went to choir rehearsal, filling them up in the water fountain so I could at least have my tea, damn it.

This morning: still no water. I'm forced to borrow other peoples' showers. This would have been a good time to have a gym membership, right?

Welp. My life.
11th-Dec-2013 10:33 am - Which shall be to all people
Billie

I went to a Christmas party on Sunday and gave a white elephant gift a year in the making. And lo, I found it good.

See, last year, I had all these Christmas parties to go to because I am so effing popular (/humblebrag) so I raided Target for a bunch of random stuff for white elephant exchanges because apparently Christmas parties aren't legally binding without a white elephant exchange. I got a bunch of gift bags and some tissue paper and wrapped each one of them up nicely, then kept them on the table to grab on my way to each respective party.

Well, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and that weakest link is my ability to remember what I need to take with me, and one got left behind. I was all the way across town with a rapidly-cooling appetizer in the front seat, so I think I ran into the nearest pharmacy and mocked up a replacement instead of heading back to get the original gift. So, that gift sat in my closet, still nicely wrapped, waiting for its time to return to glory. The gift? A coin bank with a picture of a mustache on it and the words "MY STASH". Yes, I, too, am susceptible to silly puns. No one's perfect.

Fast forward to this year and the season of white elephants is upon us once again. I triumphantly reclaimed the gift from my closet but I wondered: am I being fair? The cap at this party was $15, and I think I only paid $3, tops, for this silly coin bank. So what else could I throw in to make it better? I rummaged through unopened shower gels, leftover Halloween tchotchkes, and the other assorted contents of my closet. I could through any of these in, but they don't go together. Would that be part of the charm? Or would it just be "Oh...great...shower gel. And a coin bank. Best gift ever."

Then inspiration struck in the form of my coin sorter. I had so many pennies already wrapped. In fact, I had $5.50 worth of pennies wrapped. $5 seemed like a fortuitously round amount so I wrapped them up and put them in the bag, too, which had the added bonus of making this tiny gift bag EXTREMELY HEAVY. Perfect!

There's nothing quite like watching someone's face as they unwrap 5 dollars' worth of pennies, that's all I'll say. And I ended up with a plushie Totoro, so everybody wins!

Christmas parties: doin' it right.

5th-Oct-2013 12:33 pm - Carry on
Captain my Captain
I think I had the flu this week. Or something. I did not feel well, is the long and short of it, one of a few episodes per year where I get laid low by something nasty.

All was not lost, though. After emerging from the depths of my own misery on Wednesday, I managed to get my rear in gear and do several things:

1) Finished TWO books!
2) Wrote another blog post
3) Got to see Tori!
4) Tried some of the best fried chicken in town because what else do you do when you're convalescing?

In order:

I finished Forever Innocent by Deanna Roy, a new adult romance. And it was SO GOOD! You can read my thoughts about it, as well as another chapter of Eye of the World, at my other project blog, http://wordswithhannah.wordpress.com.

The other book? I've officially made my first baby steps into the Rory Gilmore Reading List since I've finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon! Move under the cut at the bottom to see what my next assignment will be.

Thirdly (sort of), Tori came into town and we got to hang out! Finally! After missing each other whenever we're in the same neighborhood but it finally happened. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy and let's be real, very few things from high school can do that. <3

Fourthly, chicken fried deviled eggs. Yeah, you heard me. Sorry to abuse the italics, but the few years I just took off my life were completely worth it. Fried chicken, collard greens, and grits...if that doesn't haul you back to life after an illness, you're officially dead. It's science.

Rory Gilmore"s Reading ListCollapse )
24th-Sep-2013 09:32 pm - "Eye of the World" Re-Read
Real world
In case you haven't seen these in my other web presences, I have proceeded apace with my Wheel of Time project! Currently, I've done the prologue and first chapter of Eye of the World and they can be found, respectively,

Here (Prologue)

and

Here (Chapter 1)

The stats counter that comes with a Wordpress blog gives me so much satisfaction. It shows you how many visitors/views you receive in a day, which pages they're on, WHERE THE IP ADDRESSES ARE REGISTERED (country-wise, not super specific, don't worry about the safety of your underground bunker I totally see you there), where they clicked in from...I love it. Apparently, I got one visitor last week from Sweden. The internet! What could be better?

In conclusion, go read about me reading. Fun for both of us.

I do have other things I'm reading as well. I made it halfway through The Panopticon on a whim today, which everyone warned me would be distressing to read. Perhaps the distressing part is at the end, because while the material is anything but light and happy-go-lucky, apparently I've simply read worse and you'll have to try harder than drug-addicted Glaswegian foster kids to truly trip my heartstrings. Very enjoyable, though, for certain definitions of "enjoyable", and a very quick read. I'm also still hacking through The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which I did not realize tipped the scales at almost 650 pages. I'm a little over halfway through now, and I like it very much as well. I jumped in without knowing anything about it: not the plot synopsis, not the length, and not much at all about Michael Chabon, the author. What I now know: Chabon is the first (and thus far only) author to win both a Pulitzer and a Hugo. That's no small accomplishment, and an excellent testament to his versatility and ability to cross over genres. Kavalier and Clay is not his science fiction work, but reading it gives you a sense that yeah, you can see how he would do very well in the genre. His love of fantasy shines through in this novel, as well, since it's basically a dictionary-length love letter to comic books and their shamelessly bold and unrealistic superheroes. It's not as simple or easy a read as The Panopticon, but hopefully I'll finish it sometime this year...we'll see.

Unemployment blows, but I do appreciate the time it gives me to read. I keep trying to write, but it's hard, sometimes. Maybe these new blog posts will give me something tangible to work for. Maybe that's what I need right now: concrete results in the form of a rising stat count.

I had a job interview exactly a week ago and they said they'd get back to me "in a week or so". I'm no longer holding my breath that I'll ever hear from them again. (After all, holding your breath for a week begins to grate after the first few days.) If I do, it will almost definitely be a rejection. I'm getting used to that, in a weary, beaten-down-by-the-world sort of way. Next month kicks off faire season, though, so I'll get some more money in the bank soon enough. Time to work on my stamina. Becoming a hermit probably atrophied my standing muscles something awful.

Ah well, what are you still doing here? Go drive up my statistics. Give me something to look forward to.
31st-Aug-2013 09:26 am - Update!
Converse
Exciting news in the realm! Well, it's news, anyway. I wouldn't presume to define it in your terms.

I have started a new blog!

Now, calm yourselves and cease your wailing and gnashing of teeth. Of course this blog isn't going anywhere! This is and always has been a blog of personal things, and it will remain thus. After all, I have another season of Faire coming up and I'm sure I'll wring a horrific/comedic story or two out of that. No, this new blog is merely an addition to my lexicon.

http://wordswithhannah.wordpress.com

This blog is geared more towards my literary side: writing about writing, writing about reading. I've decided to really kick it off with a blogging project wherein I re-read the entire Wheel of Time series and chronicle my experience re-discovering these massive, massive books. More information can be found on the blog itself. I hope you'll join me!
11th-Aug-2013 04:43 pm - Will you be my Rory Gilmore?
Real world
In an effort to expand my literary horizons (because, as we all know, good writers are good readers), I have decided to take it upon myself to complete the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

If you've never heard of Gilmore Girls, I'm

a) rather sorry for you and

b) not quite sure where you were in the 90's. There's no excuse. NONE.

But for the unenlightened, Gilmore Girls was a TV show that followed the titular Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, mother and daughter forging their way through life in Stars Hollow, a small town in Connecticut. They spoke a million miles a minute, they drank copious amounts of coffee, and Rory Gilmore was a big fat bookworm. It was seriously amazing. And guess what? She got boyfriends by being well-read and nerdy. Basically, it was like Wish Fulfillment: The Nerdy Girl's Show.

Having said that, someone far more enterprising than I compiled a list of all that books read or mentioned by Rory over the show's considerable run. It seems as good a place to start as any, so here it is: the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. 340 works of literature. Strike-throughs mark what I have already read (ha ha!) and bolded is where I'll begin this adventure.

Rory Gilmore"s Reading ListCollapse )
3rd-Aug-2013 09:45 pm - Sleepwalking
Captain my Captain
I can't quite pinpoint when I got the idea that no one wanted to hear me, but it had firmly taken root by puberty.

I am an introvert by nature, and a shy introvert at that. I never understood, as a child, why my mom had to talk to everyone we encountered. Her extroverted nature skipped me completely, but I still feel like I was fairly social as a child. I enjoyed play dates and I had some close friends. But I also enjoyed being immersed in make-believe, and I was never a social butterfly. I only had a few friends, but they were very good ones.

When I was ten, we moved away from the only house and town I'd ever lived for a completely different state. That might have been when I realized that I was not very good at making friends. I didn't really try, because I'd never had to before. All of my friends had been in my kindergarten class or Girl Scout troop or our parents were friends. It was just expected. It was easy.

I wasn't bullied or picked on. Nothing like that. I simply lacked the initiative to go talk to other kids and join in their games. Maybe it was because I thought they wouldn't like me, but the majority of it was that I'd learned to entertain myself really well and decided I didn't need anyone else. When it came time for recess, I didn't go down to the soccer field or the swings or the jungle gym. Instead, I found a flat patch of dirt, shaded nicely by some trees, and I would build. With twigs and sticks and rocks and sometimes mud, I created a mini city from scratch. I can't remember exactly what the stories were, but I liked telling them to myself. Inter-family rivalries, nosy neighbors, maybe a corrupt mayor or two. You know, ten-year-old stuff. Sometimes some boys would come by and knock everything over, because they were jerks. If it happened once, I would go back to painstakingly recreating my little society.

Sometimes it happened repeatedly over the course of one recess. New Skill Acquired: shy introvert learns the joys of swearing like a sailor.

I eventually gained two very close friends. Their mothers told them to go talk to the new girl and make her feel welcome. My parents found a Girl Scout troop for me. I abandoned the dirt patch to race down to the soccer field and try to win the coveted position of goalie. I moved on.

Whatever happened, it was subliminal. I don't recall anyone flat-out telling me "Your worries don't matter. No one cares. Keep it to yourself." And yet, by the time I was twelve, I'd stopped talking to my parents almost completely. It baffled my mother. She thought it was a teenage thing. Maybe it was, but that seems trivializing. What I really, genuinely thought was that no one cared about my life. No one wants to hear about how my day went. Nothing that happened in my life was of any consequence. This isn't speculation anymore. I thought those exact sentiments. I stopped talking because I assumed no one was listening.

It might have been a societal thing. I'd absorbed that teenagers were silly and shallow. I'd seen depictions of teenage girls gossiping and talking and everyone around them being bored to tears because god, girls, am I right? What meaningless thing is she yammering on about now? Probably nail polish or boys or some shit. What a drag.

It wasn't a teenage thing. It didn't miraculously vanish when I walked across the stage at graduation. In fact, it grew worse. It became a full-blown social phobia. My first year of college was miserable, partly because I was so awful at making friends. I joined groups, but couldn't get the hang of talking to other people. But mingling terrified me--who would want to talk to me? What did I have to offer? They would probably think I was boring or stupid.

Of course, none of this was alleviated by my roommate viciously alienating me from everyone in our dorm. That didn't help my mindset or self-esteem in the slightest, as I'm sure you can imagine.

This still challenges me. I don't like going places by myself. I find it difficult to strike up conversations and fear once I do that I'm doing it wrong. I dwell on past mistakes to a ridiculous degree. The root of all of this is the same: despite still loving my make-believe and still immersing myself in my own worlds, I'm constantly afraid that what I have to say, no one wants to hear.
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