Fire Engine Red

26 Jan

Tonight, as I stood in the 39-degree evening wearing only pajamas and a bathrobe, watching smoke pour out of the next building and taking stock of the pocketful of items I’d grabbed on my way out admist the alarms and strobe lights, I found myself deeply frustrated that I hadn’t grabbed my Walker Stalker Con Disability Services binder.

Not that I was woefully underdressed. Not that I’d spent 10 valuable minutes chasing two panicked rabbits around the apartment while visions of smoke and flames filled my imagination. Not even that I’d left my external hard drive with my entire digital life on it sitting on the desk. No, I regretted not grabbing that blue binder.

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My life in page protector form

This is what Con life has done to me. However, it did give me an opportunity for another awkwardly empowering moment.

Continue reading

Well, That Was Fast

7 Jan

I didn’t think my plan would be put to the test so quickly. To embrace the awkwardly empowering moments of life this year seemed like a grand goal last week. You know, when it was still a theory.

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Someday I will learn to quit challenging fate. Luckily for you all, today isn’t that day.

I’ve spent the last three days trying to arrange last minute flights due to a last minute locale change for a business trip (the good news- it’s not Tampa anymore. The bad news- it’s the other side of the country now.), and it’s been an exercise in patience.

Actually, I take that back. It’s been a marathon in patience. Perhaps even a biathlon where one event is a marathon in patience and the other is any event that will distract me from trying to telekinetically explode a sales rep’s head over the phone.

kill you with my brain

Yes, that’s a good metaphor.  Let’s go with that.

Anyway, during the course of this mental athletic event, even more complications arose, to the point that my booking the flights was no longer feasible. We shall henceforth refer to this as The Awkward Event.

In order to resolve this The Awkward Event, I needed to call someone and ask for something that I haven’t asked for in several years, and in fact, make it a point to avoid asking anyone to do.

I had to ask someone to pay for me.

Longtime readers will know that I have serious issues with having other people pay for things for me. There’s a whole post on this in the archives if you’re curious, but let’s just say that I haven’t made much progress on this front since 2012. For whatever reason, having someone pay for me inspires a lot of guilt, like I’ve failed somehow. There’s all kinds of theories behind this, and I know that it’s ridiculous, but that’s beside the point here. The point is that I hate very few things more than having to ask someone to pay for something for me, and that’s exactly what I had to do today.

Once I realized that The Awkward Event was happening, I stared at my computer for a long moment. Then I stared at my phone for a longer moment. Then I stared at the computer again for an even longer moment. Finally, I forced myself to focus, and I ended up staring at the rabbits for at least 20 minutes.

They stared back. And then demanded treats. Because rabbits don't find requests for assistance to be awkward.

They stared back. And then demanded treats. Because rabbits don’t find requests for assistance to be awkward.

When I couldn’t avoid it any longer, I picked up the phone and made the call. I explained the situation, I made the request, and then I took a deep breath and I waited for the response. And you know what?

It wasn’t awkward at all. My request was considered, it was approved, the The Awkward Event was resolved, and everyone went on their merry way. Honestly, I spent longer on hold this morning than the entire conversation took, and I certainly didn’t want to telekinetically explode anyone’s head afterwards.

The takeaway here is that there’s a lot of empowerment in asking for what you need. It takes courage (and possibly countless hours of therapy), and yes it can be awkward, especially when it involves money. But it can also be a huge relief to at least own up to the need, and I’m glad I did. I’m even gladder that it worked out in my favor, but that’s a different post.

Awkwardly Empowering

2 Jan

It’s the beginning of a new year. Usually, I don’t go in for celebrating the perceived passage of an arbitrary concept like Time, but I do like the sales. (Seriously- the local bookstore runs a “buy 2 get 1 free” sale the day after Christmas every year, and I’m not enough of a chronologic elitist to pass that kind of a deal up. Especially when I’m *this* close to finally gathering the entire run of Chibi Vampire.)

A new year is also as good an excuse as any to get back into blogging. A lot of things happened to me in 2014 that were worth blogging about, but most of them never made passed a few hastily scrawled lines on one of the approximately 397 notepads sitting around my apartment. (Most of which were stolen from hotels. Some people go for the shampoo, but I’ve never understood the point of trying to smuggle tiny toiletries back through airport security.)

Among the highlights I missed were 7 conventions (4 zombie, 1 time-travel, 1 general sci-fi, and 1 video game), half a dozen business trips around the country (Portland was beautiful, Tampa was awful, DC fell somewhere in between), a new side job, two new furry companions, and a whole host of ridiculous situations that only Facebook got to hear about.

Instead, I blogged 8 times in 12 months: a new couch, a pile of books, a student loan mix-up, a weather-related game that everyone loses, a somewhat-angsty post on dealing with people, a photo collage of my living room wall, an obituary for the best friend I’ve ever had, and a definitely-angsty post on childhood and rabbits.

I’m better than that.

Ok, I’m better than MOST of that. I’m not above the occasion descent into angst (especially when I’m in Tampa), and there are always going to be inconvenient trains, tornadoes, and taxes to whine about online. But there was an event that happened to me back in 2006 that I’ve never shared, and I think the time has come for the story to see the light of day.

My college had, like most other colleges, a student counseling center. It was understood that the center was there for career guidance more than any kind of psychological therapy, but the school still gently encouraged (read: obsessively reminded) the students to check in there at least once a year. My junior year check-in happened to fall on a day when I’d gotten into yet another argument with two of my roommates over why wearing a shirt when answering the door seemed out of the realm of possibilities for them, so I was a little preoccupied as I sat down across from the career counselor. Suffice it to say, we didn’t get to my resume review that day. After listening to me rant about the budding nudists for 45 minutes, this young white guy folded his hands, looked straight at me, and said, “Bitches always gonna be crazy. Best you can do is make them want to be crazy somewhere else.” Super awkward, yes, but also unexpectedly empowering. It remains the single best piece of advice I’ve ever been given.

To honor that, I’m declaring 2015 as my Awkwardly Empowering Year. I’m going to own the ridiculous situations that tend to make up my days, pull whatever deeper meaning/ life lessons I can out of them, and when all that inevitably fails, I’m going to at least remember to post about them. 2015 will be full of conventions (zombies, time-travel, general sci-fi, and video games again), business travel (including Tampa again), new rabbit antics, and everyone’s favorite topic: my ever-present student loans. Next January, I want to be able to look back on my archives and see more than excitement over a new couch. I want to be proud of myself- to be further along on my human journey when the Earth slides back into the same place in twelve months. Life, like the proverbial bitches, may always be crazy, but this year I’ve got it covered.

Rabbit-Sized Hole

13 Sep Eppy Box

Eppy Box

I remember being out in the backyard at my dad’s house when I was 13 or so.  There was a privacy fence running along the back, and it captured my OCD attention because it didn’t match the post and rail fence that enclosed the sides of the yard.  One day, I was inspecting a hole at the bottom of the privacy fence when my dad came outside and asked what I was looking at.

Keep in mind, I was 13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had just been released, and I was also reading the Chronicles of Narnia to myself for the first time.  Every hole in a fence was an instant portal to another world, if I could just figure out how to get through it.  That’s exactly what I was looking at, but I also had enough sense to not admit to that in front of an adult capable of having me committed.

Instead, I just pointed to the hole and said that I thought a chipmunk had made it.  My dad knelt down and looked at the edges for a moment or two before proclaiming it, “a rabbit-sized hole.”

This was probably the worst thing he could have said to me. After all, I had just read Alice in Wonderland, a story that would fascinate me to this day.  Now that hole was not only a portal to another world, but a portal involving magical rabbits that led to Wonderland!

Sometimes I feel like I owe my parents more than just verbal thanks for buying me books and letting me dream as a kid.  (Aside to dad- this story is coming out the next time you look at me and ask where I got my skills from.  It’s not just mom’s fault for buying me all those books.)

The point of this trip down memory lane is that the concept of a rabbit-sized hole stuck with me.  Not necessarily literally, as I’ve never been good with spatial concepts (see The Bureaucracy Strikes Back for proof of this), but the inherent magic in it.  Now, a literal rabbit-sized hole can be any size, as rabbit can range from 2 pounds to over 25 pounds and can compress their skeletons like cats to fit into smaller spaces.  But as I learned recently, a rabbit-sized hole can also be metaphorical- a chunk of a heart stolen away by four lucky feet and a wibbly nose.  But most of all, a new rabbit-sized hole can be appear when you least expect it.

10 days ago, I submitted an application to be considered to adopt another rabbit.  The process normally involves multiple levels of approval and several classes.  However, my application was fast-tracked and I find myself getting ready to go pick up a bonded pair this afternoon.  I went through a lot of emotions between then and now- excitement, grief, panic, anticipation, anxiety, joy, and fear all cycled unpredictably.  One minute, I’d be happily browsing the website and reading bunny bios, and the next I’d be in the library holding one of Eppy’s favorite toys and unable to deal with how it still smells like her.  I spent almost an hour scrubbing down her old cage and exercise pen, and alternated between fear that the new ones would still smell her on them and not settle in right, and excitement that the things were no longer packed away on the bottom shelf of a bookcase and hidden behind a chair.  I worried over names- how do you name somebunny that you’ve never met? I stressed over how I don’t have any new toys for them, or soft blankets or pet pads for them to sit on, or even a bag of food that they’ll like.  I thought how nice it will be to have someone to say good morning and good night to everyday, and to hear soft hops across the floor again.  Essentially, my every thought was affected by the new arrivals and if I was really ready to bring them home.

In the end, it’s the memory of looking at that fence 15 years ago that is going to get me out the door today.  After all, the magic is not in the known world on this side, but in the unknown waiting just on the other side. A new rabbit-sized hole has appeared in my heart, and it brings the promise of an excellent adventure with it.

To Eppy

30 Jul

Dear Eppy,

I often wondered what your last day with me would be like.  Would I know that it was almost over?  Would we spend the day snuggling and playing? Or would it come unexpected, on a normal day, or even a day when I was annoyed with you for chewing something of mine up yet again?  Would I have time to say goodbye?  Or would I have to make the most difficult decision of my life?  Most importantly, would you know and would you be in pain?

As it turned out, it was so much more unexpected and yet so much better.  I did get to say goodbye, and we did have two wonderful last days together.  We spent time snuggling and playing, you got extra treats and attention, and none of it had the cloud of death hanging over us.  Then again, maybe you knew it was coming.  You were always so much smarter than me.

But now I’m left here alone, and while I know each day will get easier, I can’t stop the tears that come with every small reminder.  Your cage has been cleaned, your favorite toys packed away, and your treats and hay sent to the guinea pig next door. (I’m sorry about that last part- I know you didn’t care much for Maisy, but I couldn’t bear to throw away the yogurt chips and baked pretzels that you loved so much.)

Now it’s the little things that get me.  When my mom asked me to come to the house tonight so that I wouldn’t be alone, my first thought was, “I can’t- someone has to feed Eppy.”  Then I sat on the edge of the couch and cried.  When I left the apartment tonight, I did so with my usual refrain of “bye Eppy, be a good girl.” It stopped me cold in the doorway when I realized that you weren’t there to hear it anymore.  I cried the whole way down the stairs.  The dog rustled her wicker toy basket tonight and it sounded like you chewing on your hay basket.  I looked over automatically, but you weren’t there. (And neither was the hay basket.  That also went to Maisy.  I’m not apologizing for this one though- you know how she felt about it.)  No one now will come bounding around the corner of the couch to frolic with a toy.  No one now will wait until I fall asleep on the couch to leap onto my chest.  No one now will be there for a snuggle when the day has been hard and people have been too much, and that is the part that hurts the most.

But maybe I’m not completely alone.  You did tolerate the hundreds of photos that I took of you over the years, especially the ones when I made you wear a scarf.  (Don’t think I missed the thinly-veiled hatred in your eyes at those times.)  Those photos tell your life story better than I ever could, and they remind of who exactly you were.

You always knew how to pose for a camera, even at 9 months old.

You were the one who knew how to pose for a photo, even at 9 months old.

IMG_20130903_093331_742-1 Eppy hide and seek

10 months, 4 years, or 7 years old- it didn't matter. You always won at hide-and-seek. If there was a box or a blanket, you would be inside it.

You were the world champion at hide-and-seek.

You really were smaller than your food bag when you came home with me.

You were smaller than your food bag when you first came home with me.

begging for food

And thus began a life-long obsession with treats, from 2 years old to 8 years old. Not even a table could keep you from your treats.

But you were also the one who always knew where to find a treat.

Once I made you wear a scarf and pose for a holiday photo.

You were the one who once had to wear a scarf and pose for a holiday photo.

Ok, maybe I did that twice. But even though I waited 6 years in between the two, you didn't forget.

Ok, maybe you had to do that twice. But you never forgot the injustice of it, even though the two events took place 6 years apart.

You loved to be outside

You loved to be outside.

But inside was OK too if there was a sunbeam to sleep in.

But inside was OK too if there was a sunbeam to sleep in.

Eppy thieving

Sometimes you stole things that didn’t belong to you.

And you apologized when you stole things.

But you always apologized afterwards.

You could snuggle with the best of them.

You could snuggle with the best of them.

You were my constant companion, always welcome even when it made working difficult.

And you were my constant companion, always welcome by my side even when it made working difficult.

Now as you move onto the rabbit heaven perfectly made for you- a place of endless grass and puzzle balls to break into- know that a very large piece of my heart goes with you.  Rest well, my bunny girl.  There will never be another like you.

Eppy last day

Epinephrine “Eppy” Anderson 2005-2014

 

364 Days

24 Apr

Exactly one year ago, I somehow convinced a good friend to help me turn a blank wall into something better.

Last night, we finished it.  And it is glorious.  11 feet tall, 13 feet wide, and guaranteed to make the leasing office feel really guilty for having to paint over it if I ever move out.  What more could you ask for in a wall mural?

A photographic progression of the wall over the last 12 months, you say?  Well, you are in luck!  I happen to have just that ready for you today. Continue reading

Handling Instructions

2 Mar

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As I sit in my apartment on the eve of yet another out-of-state trip, doing what seems like endless loads of laundry but is really only three, I find myself contemplating a world where people come with the same sort of handling instructions as clothes.

Think about it. How much easier would social relationships be if you could just flip over someone’s tag and see how best to keep them from unraveling? A peek at the back of their shirt, and you’d know if this person is your new BFF or your mortal enemy.

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See “machine wash cold” on a tag, and you know that you have a sturdy person. They’re made from a durable fabric in a bold color and can handle life’s spins and bounces with ease.

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The ones who require warmer waters are those whose colors may run easily or who absorb stains a bit deeper. They need a bit more attention to come out clean, but they’re often the ones that we hold the closest to ourselves.

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You see “dry clean only,” and you know you’re dealing with high quality and probably high maintenance. But you also know that if properly cared for, the fabulousness will last forever.

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If you’re anything like me, the hand wash only crowd makes you nervous. These are the most fragile of the bunch- the most prone to falling apart, and the ones we want to protect the most. We wear them like the others, but then we fret over their storage. We spray them with Febreze to avoid having to decide how to wash them, for fear of doing the wrong thing and ruining them.

But these aren’t just soft- they’re the gentlest among us. The handmade-with-love ones, the treasured ones, the ones that are worth the effort it takes to care for, and the ones that can shine the brightest.

Just like with any good wardrobe, I have a mix of all these people in my life. But as I thought about what their tags would say, I started wondering what my own would read. Could I handle a tumble dryer, or would I need to be hung up? Would I need to be separated, or could I hold onto my colors in any temperature water? I’m not fancy enough to be dry clean only, but I’m not a lost sock either.

Ultimately, I think I’m a machine wash warm & tumble dry. I’m pretty secure in who I am, and I can handle the spins of life (vertigo pun intended), but sometimes I need a little extra care. And if today’s laundry adventure was any indication, there should probably be a notation to check my pockets for forgotten items, too.

While I go Google how to remove melted chapstick from jeans, I leave you with this: what would your tag read? How are you best handled by other people?

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