Monday, May 28, 2012

That Thing I Always Talk About But Never Say

I feel like I've been hinting at this on here for a million years, but here's the deal: I'm going to Scotland.  This September, I've heading off to the University of Stirling to complete my MLitt in Creative Writing, the UK equivalent of the MFA.  Up until now I've been tight-lipped about the whole thing because I wasn't sure it was going to work out, financially or otherwise.  I didn't want to tell everyone about it only to tell them later it wouldn't work out.  But it's working out.  I'm shocked.

Of course, I'm still terrified about a bunch of other things.  Maybe I won't find a place to live.  Maybe I won't be able to understand any of the Scottish people's accents and they'll all get mad at me (collectively).  Maybe they won't like my style of poetry.  Maybe some unforeseeable comedic hijinks will ensue at one or multiple airports and I won't even make to Stirling in the first place.  Maybe...

You get the idea.

Still, I want to do this.  As soon as that acceptance e-mail showed up, I knew I wanted to do this.  There have been a lot of people telling me not to do this, mainly because of money, but I just can't justify keeping my money and missing out on this.  I can't.  Years from now I can't imagine I'll be saying to myself, "Oh, if only I stayed at my crappy mall job another year and plodded around Akron looking for better work!  If only I hadn't spent that amazing year in Scotland improving my writing!"  And sure I'll come back with the exact same problem, but I'd have it either way, so why not use my time to do what I love while I can?

But I'm not going to worry about justifying it anymore, because this is what I'm doing.  Scotland.  In less than four months.  So get excited.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Eleven Years Ago Today

So, I changed the look of the blog a bit.  I like keeps things as clutter-free as possible, and while I was happy with how the page looked before for quite a while, I wanted to see if I could make it even cleaner.  It's mostly done for the time being, though I'm still messing around with the font a bit.  I'm stuck between one with serifs and one without.  You might think this is trivial, but I assure you it is not.

Recently I'd been thinking a lot about my paternal grandfather and wasn't quite sure why, but then I remembered: May 21 is the day he died, back in 2001.  The date sticks out in my mind because I used to wish it was my birthday.  When I was little, I didn't like purple, which is the color of February's birthstone.  My favorite color then was green, and May's birthstone is the emerald.  The obvious conclusion I came to is that I should have been born in May.  May 21 to be exact, because I have always been a fan of exactness.

I lived wishing May 21 was my birthday for a few years until we got a phone call one morning letting us know my grandfather had passed.  When my little-kid brain realized it was May 21 I started feeling guilty, like I had focused on that date so much I had somehow inadvertently willed this into existence.  It wasn't like his death was sudden, it was a long, slow process of prostate cancer that spread into his liver, bones, and lots of other places.  It was the kind of death that was almost a relief, like at least he wasn't suffering anymore.  But still.  Why did I have to pick that date?

He was an old school, hard working man from West Virginia, a former moonshiner, avid gardener, and treated his grand kids like they were the pinnacle of creation.  My parents both worked, so most of my childhood was spent at his house (free babysitting) playing outside, listening to his old gospel tapes, and watching The Price is Right.  I find myself wondering what he'd say if he was here now.  What would he think of my nervous breakdown, or my choice to pursue writing over any sort of lucrative career?  He was such a practical man, I imagine we'd argue about these things, and I really wish we could.  I wish he was a feeble old man in his nineties, pounding his cane into the hardwood floor and he told me I needed to think about my future, and I'd tell him that I do think about it, that I think about it all the time and that's why I have to do things this way.  He wouldn't understand and I'd be upset, but not really mad because I'd know he just wants me to be okay.

Before he was too sick to move around or think clearly, he knew he wasn't going to see me reach adulthood.  So he bought my high school and college graduation cards ahead of time, signed them and put them in envelopes, and gave them to my parents.  They gave both of them to me when I graduated high school, but I saved the college one to open properly.  Three years later, after the six hour drive from my college back home (my last one), and I opened my dresser drawer where that card had been waiting and read it.  It was a religious card, as he was pretty big into god, and was signed "Grand Pa" and "Grand Ma."  I felt so simultaneously loved and cheated.  A person like that should still be here.

I spent this May 21 fretting over my teeth (I think I'm getting a cavity), installing my window-unit air conditioner, and watching the geese who've taken residence in the nearby pond trot out their fluffy little goslings.  Overall not a bad day.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Everything is Okay, I Guess

Look at my life right now:

Yeah, that's me, sick in bed, using an inhaler.  Because my body has suddenly decided that breathing is optional.  I'd been having trouble taking deep breaths for a few weeks, then this terrible coughing thing started.  I was losing my voice I was coughing so much.  Then someone asked me just how bad I was going to let things get before going to the doctor, so I went, and they gave me this inhaler.  However, they said they don't really know what's causing my problem.  Now I have to go see a specialist.

The inhaler does help a little, but it pisses me off.  It's like they said "Oh, here's a bandage for that gash in your side... Sure, there might be some internal hemorrhaging and broken bones, but whatever, just go with that bandage for now."  Thanks guys.

I guess it always blows me away that most medical problems are treated with so little urgency.  When I was in the emergency room a couple years back, in excruciating pain, I laid on the floor in the waiting room for almost an hour before anyone did anything for me.  It's not like they were particularly busy, either, just not in a hurry.  My (unplanned) revenge was to throw up on the nurse's station when they finally did get to me.

Nurse: How's your pain on a scale of one to ten?
Me: *barf*
Nurse: ... I'll mark that as a ten.

Then I told her to make it a nine, because I didn't want to max out my pain scale that early in life.  Turns out I had a kidney stone due to dehydration.  Now I live in constant fear of a repeat performance, hydrating like a beast in order to prevent it.

For now, though, I can breathe moderately well, so I'm trying to just do everything normally.  Which involves things like going to work, grocery shopping, and getting my hair cut.

Notice anything different there?  I've mentioned my stupid cowlick before, and how it gets in the way no matter what I do with my hair.  It causes a lot of problems with my bangs because it makes one little clump of them want to be separate from the rest.  When I got my hair cut this last time the girl cutting said switching my part from my left to my right might help, so that's what she did.  If I look a little nonplussed in that picture, it's due to my whole world having just been flipped on its head.

It might not seem like that big of a deal, but moving my bangs from one side of my head to the other pretty much altered my perception of reality.  Everything felt weird, and the worst part is that I couldn't keep my hair out of my face anymore.  You know that flip thing Justin Bieber used to back when he had those hilarious head-encompassing bangs?

Well, I have to do something similar, and hopefully less absurd, to move my bangs out of my eyes.  I've had this style since 2010, and I've always tipped my head down and then to my left to flick my hair back where it needs to be.  With the bangs on the other side I had to do it the other direction, and I just couldn't.  Seriously.  My muscle memory is too strong to relearn this process.  As a result, the bangs stayed on my right for about a day before I had to switch them back, or risk losing my mind completely.
So the world seems right again, or at least more right than it did yesterday.

Side note: if the FBI ever looks into my Internet search history, what I'll be most embarrassed about by far is "Justin Bieber hair flip gif".

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A to Z Look Back

So now that it's over, what are my thoughts on the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge?
Well, I made it through.  At one point I wasn't sure if I was going to get all the entries done, and technically I suppose I didn't, since I did that one two-letter entry.  The problem is that my work schedule each weekend is as follows: Friday 1:00-10:00, Saturday 1:00-10:00, Sunday 9:00-5:00.  This means I get home around eleven at night all weekend, and have to get to bed pretty soon after that in order to get up on Sunday, which made the Saturday night entries kind of difficult and rushed.  A couple times I wrote entries a day or so ahead of time, but more often than not I was barely getting the entries done on time.

On the plus side, I think I got a lot of things out of my system that have been stewing around for a while.  I originally intended for all the posts to be upbeat, but they quickly turned into a lot of angst-ridden purging with a couple funny bits, but mostly purging.  Those things needed to come out, and this exercise provided a way for me to do that.  Now I feel like I'm in a better position to finally move forward with my current life plans.

I swear I'm actually going to explain what those plans are, soon.  Some more things need to come together before I'm comfortable "going public" with all that.

As to whether I'd do this again next year, I doubt it.  It was just too time consuming, I didn't like the pressure of having to get my entries done by a certain time (midnight), and having to write a complete piece every single day.  But if I've got another load of crap I need to get off my chest by this time next year, it might be helpful.