Monday, July 23, 2012

Whatever Gets You By

As if it even needs to be said at this point, but I don't exactly handle stress well.  Since I'm still easing my way back into writing, I figured I could just talk about what I've been using to get myself through the past month or so, as coping mechanisms/distractions/inspirations/etc.  This won't be long.

1. Comet

The same way Against Me! came out with White Crosses just when I really needed to hear all the words on that album, Bouncing Souls have done the exact same things for me now with Comet.  This here is the title track, but there are so many songs I love on it, like this one or this one.  You can stream the whole album on YouTube, and it's only nine dollars to download on Amazon or Chunksaah Records' website.  So yeah.

2. My Family

Seriously, these poor people.  Remember my last post where I said my visa was on its way?  Also, remember when I said that there are no purely good things?  Well, the e-mail I got said the visa would be coming the next business day, which was a Friday.  My parents both took the day off (they just randomly take days off to hang out because they like each other a lot), and I swear they told me I didn't have to wake up early to sign for my visa since they'd both be around.  However, my parents swear no such conversation occurred, and rather than be around all morning they decided to travel the whole city in search of a hutch to put in the kitchen because the kitchen really needs a hutch, I guess.  So I woke up on Friday around eleven all excited to finally have my visa after over a month of stressing out, only to find a "Sorry We Missed You" note stuck to the front door courtesy of UPS.  I proceeded to freak the hell out.

I can't explain how much pent up stress I had over this visa.  It can take up to and sometimes over six weeks for them to be processed, so there was some concern I wouldn't receive it in time for school.  I'd had to borrow the money to pay for the visa, which I felt terrible about, and had to get my work schedule moved around in order to get to the Federal Building in Cleveland for fingerprinting.  Then I finally got word that all of that had been worth it, that my visa was on its way, only for it to come to my doorstep and go away again.  My parents listened to my ranting and, when they got home, set about calling UPS and arranging to pick up my visa whenever the driver got back from his deliveries.  I had to leave for work, but the last thing I heard was that the driver may not return until after six, at which point the center would be closed and I couldn't get my package until Monday.
Luckily, my parents kept up on things even after my panicky self had left for the night, and when I got home that evening, my passport was sitting on my easy chair/office unassumingly like nothing even happened.  All that work for a sticker in my passport.  At least that's the least terrifying thing that happened over the last week.

A couple days after the visa ordeal, I came home from work to find about ten ants hanging out in my bathtub.  I killed them and hoped against hope that it was just some sort of fluke.  Of course, when I went in later to take a shower, there were about six more in there.  Now I'm not really afraid of bugs, but I'm hardly a fan of them crawling all over my naked body, so after taking the quickest and most frightening shower of my life I sprayed tile cleaning into every nook and cranny of my shower and hoped that would kill any remaining ants.  It did not.  The next morning there was a new crop of them in the tub, and I did my very best not to cry.  After some brainstorming with my parents, we decided to try spraying Home Defense into the gap between my tub and shower (it's a pre-fab installation) and see what happened from there.  Since then I've only had one ant in the tub, so that's a success, right?

I was supposed to wash out the shower thoroughly before I used it that night, and I thought I did, but the next day I woke up completely unable to stand from dizziness.  My head was spinning all day and part of the next.  It might not be Home Defense's fault, but I have no idea what else it could possibly have been.  Anyway, my family has been dealing with a lot of nonsense from me this week, so I thank them for that.

3. Pruning Burning Bushes

This is a book of poetry by a friend of mine, Sarah M. Wells.  She's been through a lot more joy and pain in her life than I have, and she manages to write about it all from such a peaceful place.  I won't go into a ton of detail, but there are things here I relate to so much, and at the same time not at all.  "Ten Reasons Why He Didn't Die" sticks out to me while I'm typing this, because I can hear my own mother's voice in the way she describes her children and just how desperately she wanted them to be.  As the product of a similar desperate want I can't help but react on a gut-deep level.  Reading this book was a big part of what helped me get back into writing after my hiatus, and while what I'm producing now is different from what I've done in the past, I'm looking forward to where it's going and possibly getting some of it out in the world sometime soon.

Also, Sarah is my friend, so I want everyone to know that she's great and that she wrote a book.  Go her.

I guess I lied when I said this wouldn't take long.  Sorry.  And finally, the title of this post is from a song by The Features, which you can listen to here.  It doesn't relate to the content of this post in any way, but I liked the way it sounded.  The End.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blogging Will Now Resume As Regurlarly Scheduled

Scotland is still happening, and taking forever to do so.  The whole registration process in UK schools takes place much later than it does at US schools, and while I know this factually, all the panic sensors in my brain persist in firing at random intervals.  "You haven't heard from them in a few weeks, is everything okay?  What happens if they tried to get a hold of you and you missed it somehow?  Do you even still go to that school?  Does the school even exist?  What about your visa?  Your visa isn't here yet, so obviously it will never arrive and you'll be stuck at your parent's house forever."

But it's fine.  Probably.

One good thing, I suppose, is that other aspects of my life are starting to matter less to me as my departure date gets closer.  My job is almost easier now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm spending less time tearing apart every little thing people say to me.  Since I'm leaving the country it's like I just don't care anymore.  I imagine this is how some people feel all the time, and it makes me a little bit jealous.
There have been other good things.  For one, I'm starting to overcome my fear of roller coasters.  I've always liked wooden coasters, something about how you can feel the weight of them, how they chatter your teeth and knock you around a little, you know it's something sturdy and real.  Steel coasters are scary, fast and merciless things lacking any sort of charm.  But about a week ago I went with a friend up to Kennywood, a National Historic Landmark and all around great amusement park.  It has wooden coasters dating back to the '20s, and more than one "last of its kind" classics like the Kangaroo, Noah's Ask, and the Turtle.  There are actually three left of that last one, but come on.  Good stuff.  I know all this because one of the people I met there knew the whole history of the park and managed to talk about it without sounding like a total asshat.

Anyway, I originally wanted to leave the few modern coasters they have alone, but while in line for the Jack Rabbit (wooden coaster from 1920) something changed my mind: a six-year-old.  She was talking to her dad about how she wanted to sit in the back of the coaster so they could lift higher out of their seats on the drops.  I don't even know if that logic is sound, but I do know that she was giggling about how fun the Phantom's Revenge was (steel coaster I'd been forcing everyone to avoid one day) and it pissed me off.  There's no way I could allow myself to be outdone my a small child, so I turned to my friend and said "Next we're going on the Phantom," which was all well and good until we actually got on the thing.

Sitting in the car, slowly going ascending the main hill of the coaster, I looked to my left and saw the stairs personnel and maintenance workers use, and that was fine.  Then I looked to my right and saw nothing but empty air and the parking lot below us.  Then I lost my mind.  Seriously, I started screaming at the top of my lungs "No, NO!" over and over like anyone would care or try to help me.  The people in the car in front of mine turned around and laughed.  Once we got to the top I was so stressed and worn out that I couldn't say anything, but I'm sure if anyone had tried to touch me I would have punched them in the face.  I had about two seconds to curse the backs of those snickering idiots in front of me before we went down, after which I alternated between sharp yelping and hysterical laughter until we came to a stop, and I kicked my way out of the car like cornered animal.

Lessons learned: 1. I can ride a roller coaster like a big kid and not die.  2. Laughter sometimes comes from a place of fear as opposed to one of mirth.  3. The rush of relief that comes after the ride has ended is quite nice, though I'm still not sure whether the ride itself is worth it.

There were fireworks at the end of the night, which is great because you get to see kids get really excited about fireworks, and strangers get really petty over bench space.  I'd call that a successful day, though I still managed to get a speeding ticket on the way home.

Nothing ever runs smoothly for me, does it?

Another good thing: I started this post yesterday, and this morning I got an e-mail telling me my visa has been issued and will be arriving any day now.  So at least a couple of those inner mind quotes from the first paragraph no longer apply.  Yay!