Another Fresh Start

As I write this, I’m not sure where I’m going to post it. I maintain two separate online identities, neither of which is a fully accurate representation of me. But more on that later.

The holidays tend to be a time of introspection for me. I’m currently in Hollywood for a week for my husband’s company Christmas party. I’m not very interested in celebrities, fashion, or spending gobs of money, so that leaves me with little to do while he’s in the office. I find myself with a lot of time for hot baths and writing things like this.

Several months ago, I created a new online identity for myself. I wanted a space where I could talk about controversial topics without worrying about them showing up on a casual Google search of my name. This seems to have caused more problems than it solved, though. My attention is split, and I’m forced to compartmentalize my thoughts for two different venues. Having two different accounts on social media sites makes it more difficult to stay caught up on what my friends and family are up to. My life feels more cluttered, and I detest clutter.

On top of that, even under a false name, I have to censor myself. Sure, I can talk about the more salacious details of my life without worry, but because I’m trying to stay anonymous, mundane personal details have to be scrubbed away.

I’m considering abandoning the new identity and only blogging under my real name. It would simplify things immensely. The question, of course, is how much do I value my privacy?

Honestly, I’m not a very private person. If it was just me, I wouldn’t care what details of my life might be out there, but I have a husband and a daughter to consider as well. Part of my motivation was the fear that, if my husband were to lose his job, my eccentricity might hurt him in the search for a new one. Or what if some day we wanted to get our daughter into a fancy private school? If I lay my entire life out there for anyone to see, that leaves my family exposed as well.

But let’s be realistic: my husband works in web development, a field that tends towards the liberal and eccentric. I have a hard time picturing him being happy at a company that wouldn’t want him just because his wife is a little weird. And as for my daughter...well, the same reasoning applies. I probably wouldn’t want to send her anywhere that would turn its nose up at me.

And what of the other looming fear--that some of my more tech-savvy relatives could come across my rants and ruminations and engage me in some very uncomfortable conversations? Well...as time goes on I seem to care about that less and less. Somehow I suspect those conversations would be far more uncomfortable for them than for me, and as such, they’re unlikely to occur.

Going back to using my real name would still be a big step out of my comfort zone, though. There’s a lot of reassurance to be found in knowing my writing can’t be easily traced back to me. But as I've been discovering, blogging anonymously is a bit out of my comfort zone as well.

Weight Loss

I'd say it was about four months ago that I started dieting. I tried low-carb for 3-4 weeks, then went for a more traditional calorie-counting approach. When my husband joined me later, we both started using LoseIt to log food and exercise. After a while, that got frustrating: because he's a guy and he weighed more to start with, his daily calorie allowance was far higher than mine. He got to eat about 30% more than I did, and to make matters worse, he started losing weight and I didn't. After 3 months of jogging and salads, my weight had gone down at most 3 pounds, while he had already lost 20.

Weight, of course, isn't the sole measure of a diet's success, but I wasn't seeing a noticeable change in my appearance either--mainly, I suspect, because it was happening so gradually.

Then a couple weeks ago, I had my first confirmation that it was working. I pulled a pair of pants out of the closet that had been a little tight when I got them. I'd been trying to lose weight at the time and told myself I'd fit into them soon. Well, I didn't. The pants went from "a little tight" to "uncomfortably tight" to "I'm not even going to bother." So when I pulled them out a couple weeks ago and tried them on for the heck of it, I was absolutely thrilled to find that not only did they fit--they were loose enough that I needed a belt! I didn't notice anything with the pants I usually wear, because I usually wear them with a belt anyway.

Since then I've been noticing more changes. My face looks thinner. My butt is firmer. I no longer have a muffin-top in my tight workout pants. It feels good to have some confirmation that all my hard work is paying off. I had been on the verge of giving up--now I have no problem getting motivated to go to the gym.

Ancient History

This post has been sitting in my drafts for over a month. Oops. Apologies to my 2 1/2 followers.

I've been living in this area for 2 years, and until today hadn't actually looked for a new general practitioner. I finally got the kick in the pants I needed when I contracted strep throat after attending Archon over the weekend.

I was lucky; the first place I called had a doctor who was accepting new patients and had an opening today. I liked her, but I realized as I was talking to her that she was probably younger than I was. It was a little jarring--I know I'm 30, but this is a thing that can actually happen?

I really don't mind having a young doctor--in fact, I prefer it. I like knowing that medical school is fresh in her memory, and she hasn't had long enough to get too set in her ways. My old doctor in California was about the same age...of course, she was still older than I was at the time I was seeing her. Something about that transition of doctors from elders to peers makes me do a second take.

I guess it wasn't helping matters any that the office was entirely populated by girls who were even younger--fresh-faced buxom young lasses with "student" badges from the local health care trade school. I doubt any of them was older than 23.

I stopped at the appointment desk on the way out because I'm long overdue for a physical. When the girl there pulled up my information, she blinked at me. "You're 30?" she asked, incredulous. "You don't look 30."

I wasn't sure what to think. On the one hand, I'm happy that I apparently still look young. On the other hand, I'm old enough that a 22-year-old can be shocked at how old I am. (Oh my god, 30? That's, like, ancient! Were people still alive back then?)

I never thought I'd be one of those people who stressed out about their age. But then again, I never thought I'd be this old, either.

Star Trek Light Bulb Jokes

I've been on a Star Trek kick lately. I've watched the entirety of The Next Generation, and moved on to Deep Space Nine, which I'm now on season 4 of. In the spirit of Babylon 5 Light Bulb Jokes, I've been coming up with Star Trek light bulb jokes while I work on the deck. (Which is turning into a bigger project than I anticipated. I want to strangle the house's previous owners who didn't maintain it properly for years.)

Q: How many Bajorans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: I didn't spend five years in a Cardassian labor camp just to change your light bulbs!

Q: How many Cardassians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two. One to change the bulb, and one to claim it was always lit.
A: I don't know, why don't you tell me?
A: Just one. [delivered with a smug grin]

Q: How many Borg does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One. One to remove the old bulb, one to fetch a new bulb, one to screw in the new bulb, and one to dispose of the old bulb.
A: Resistance is futile. You will be illuminated.

Q: How many Klingons does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Why change the bulb? A warrior does not fear the dark!

Q: How many Vulcans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. It is illogical to use such outdated illumination technology.

Q: How many Ferengi does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, but if you change them in bulk, he can offer you a substantial discount.
A: Three. One to change the bulb for a small fee, one to research the average life of a light bulb, and one to sell you a warranty that expires just before the bulb does.
A: I'd be happy to tell you...for a small fee.

Q: How many Starfleet captains does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Three. One to go on the away mission instead of the ship's Lighting Maintenance Officer, one to start a fistfight with whoever broke the old bulb, and one to activate the ship's self-destruct sequence in case the bulb can't be changed.

Q: How many Romulans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Five. One to change the bulb, and four to hang around in cloaked Warbirds in case anyone tries anything funny while he's doing it.
A: I'm not sure--nobody's ever actually seen them doing it.

I don't know why, but light bulb jokes about fictional universes are probably my favorite joke form ever. I am, I admit, a bit of a nerd.

Old Words

I'm working on adding more digital collage sheets to my Etsy store. Vintage and antique dictionary pages are pretty popular items, and I happened across a 19th century Webster's dictionary for $5 in a thrift shop a while back. Even better, the binding was gone, the pages were yellowing and cracked, and a fair number of them were missing--in that condition, I don't have to feel bad about tearing pages out to scan them.

The only date I could find in the whole dictionary--1847--was in one of the appendices. One of the things I'm enjoying about this project is seeing how the English language has changed since the mid-1800s. Some words that I consider common are completely absent, others are there but have entirely different meanings, and I keep coming across words that just aren't used anymore. Leafing through this thing is heaven for a language nerd.

For instance, the word "date" has absolutely no romantic connotations.

Courtship was more formalized back then; ladies tended to entertain gentleman callers in their homes, closely watched by a chaperone. No such thing as "dinner and a movie" in 1847. Also on this page, I learned that daughterliness is "the state of a daughter" or "conduct becoming of a daughter."

With Halloween coming up in just over a month, this one could be relevant:

Constant Overwork

I've been stretched too thin lately, as is usually the case with me. I wrote a bit about my manic tendencies before, when I was in the process of switching medications to something more appropriate for bipolar depression. I've been on Lamictal for about three months now, and while it has curbed the pure giddy "wheee, I can do anything!" moods, it hasn't stopped me from slowly adding more and more projects to my plate until I just can't handle them all anymore. I think it's just become habit; I've been in this state of frantic overwork most of my life, so I feel like a lazy slug if I'm not on the verge of physical and mental collapse.

Last week I finally recognized I'd taken on too much, and I sat down to analyze my projects and obligations. I tried to figure out which ones were most important to me, which ones fit neatly together, and which ones I didn't really enjoy, and only did because I felt I had to. I resolved to stop working on several things entirely, and to quit some others as soon as I'd finished the bit I was currently working on. I came up with a plan for the things that were left; 45 minutes a day on this, 15 a day on that, and I would have time for it all.

Problem is, it was still too much. What I failed to realize was that, figuring in things like cleaning, preparing meals, and working out, my "plan" consisted of about 10 hours a day of scheduled obligations, with no breaks or weekends. And so, inevitably, it led to me breaking down once again, full of guilt and self-loathing for not being able to accomplish even my lightened workload.

I believe the root of my problem is that my end goal for most of my projects is "make money." Growing up in poverty has led me to feel that one is not contributing to a household unless they're paying bills. So when most of my projects are the sort of thing that require a lot of time and effort to see a profit on--music, art, writing--suddenly my hobbies and passions become daily chores I dread, and I have no downtime, because everything I do is work.

As always, the solution to my problem is to internalize a logical thought process, never an easy task. Our family is extremely fortunate: my husband makes a good enough income that I don't need to work outside the home. The key to my happiness is to embrace my role as a housewife (as much as the teenaged me would have shuddered at the thought), and truly believe that if the house is clean and dinner is on the table, I have done my job. And once my job is done, I can spend my time any way I want. No rigorously scheduled writing time each day--if I feel like writing, I can write.

And if, after cooking and scrubbing and mopping, all I really want to do is play video games? That's okay.

War Declared on Mystery Bugs

Something has been biting us at night, and I have no idea what. It seems most likely that it's either bedbugs or fleas. However, I've thoroughly inspected the mattress and found no signs whatsoever of bedbugs, and the bites aren't in the common "three in a row" pattern that bedbugs usually do. As for fleas, our cats are indoor-only, and they're treated for fleas anyway. I bought a flea comb and combed them several times, and found nothing. No fleas, no eggs.

Not knowing what we're up against, I've declared war on everything crawly. The mattress is now in a bedbug-proof cover. The carpets in every room have been thoroughly vacuumed and shampooed with near-boiling water. All bedding has been run through a hot wash cycle, and I'm working on the clothes as well. Everything goes into a plastic garbage bag after it's washed, and all the bags are sitting in a non-carpeted room. I sprayed flea spray on every carpet and practically soaked the couch with it. I've ordered some diatomaceous earth and a duster, and plan to apply that stuff to every nook and cranny I can find.

I was pretty disappointed when, having done all the vacuuming and shampooing and spraying in my bedroom yesterday, I still woke up with new bites today. I finished up the rest of the house today, so if I have bites tomorrow morning...well, we're clearly up against some kind of superbug, and our only hope will be kryptonite, or nuking the house from orbit.

I think the most frustrating thing about all this is not even knowing what I'm fighting. If I could find a bug, or evidence of an infestation, I'd be able to take targeted actions against that specific bug. Currently the only evidence of anything is the bites, and they don't tell me much, apart from that I hate biting bugs.

Little Monsters

I'm about 90% sure that two older children were hitting my two-year-old in the Chick-Fil-A play area today. She came out of a tunnel or slide crying twice, and the older children hid while I comforted her. My daughter doesn't generally cry unless she's hurt or throwing a tantrum, and this definitely wasn't tantrum crying. Then she was acting like she was afraid to go back in the playground until the older children left. On the way out, one of them shook his fist at her.

I couldn't very well yell at these kids; they're not mine, and I didn't actually see it happening. And when their mother showed up to take them home, I didn't want to bring it up with her. After all, I don't want to be one of those parents, whose children are always perfect angels while other children are always monsters. There was, after all, a chance that I'd be blaming innocent kids for a couple of totally accidental bumps or trips.

Still, as I held her, her tears soaking into my shoulder, I couldn't shake the feeling I was somehow failing her as a parent. My sweet little girl had been treated unjustly, and I wasn't doing a damn thing about it. I could only stroke her head and tell her that it would be okay.