Monday, August 31, 2009

Day Fifteen -- Short and Terrifying

No, I'm not talking about myself. Or munchkins. Or spiders.

No, I'm talking about the proof that the world is coming to an end.

Please join me in my fear.

"Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects."
--Roger Zelazny

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day Fourteen -- Gratitude

It would appear that my efforts at discipline in regards to blogging fell woefully short yesterday. My deepest apologies, dear friends--I will do better in the future.

I had thought of doing two separate posts today to make up for it, but it seemed somewhat silly to me. My thought for today's post was to post a list of five things that I am grateful for in my life--a good thing to remind oneself of from time to time, aye? So, my penance for not posting yesterday will be to do a list of ten rather than a list of five.

Aren't you lucky?

In no particular order, here is a list of ten things I'm grateful for in my life:

  • My job. If you've spent any time around me you know that there are days (and weeks, and months) where I complain bitterly about my particular job. However, at the end of the day I am grateful that I do have a way to earn a living and keep a roof over my head and food in my freezer. Also, I would go insane if I did not have something to occupy my time.
  • My family. I have witnessed far too many families wherein there is hatred and strife between children and parents, or brothers and sisters, or mothers and fathers. While there have been times when my family and I have not seen eye to eye, for the greater part they have ever supported me in my endeavors, and I have never once doubted their love for me. That is a rare and wonderful gift. Also, I am grateful that somehow my mother and I survived my teen years. I was, to put it mildly, a royal pain in the ass. (And yes, I am continually haunted by my parents' curse that I have a child just like myself.)
  • Oreo Cookies. Where did it say that all the items on this list had to be deep? I am very grateful for the invention of Oreo Cookies and the guy or gal who had the original idea of dunking them into milk. That person was a genius to put Einstein to shame. Or Da Vinci. Or... well, you get the point.
  • My husband. It is said that it is not good for man to be alone. It is equally true that it is not good for woman to be alone. Every morning I wake I am continually amazed at the joy and comfort Sam brings to me, and I do not know how it is I ever got by without him there. It would appear that Will was right--I did eventually settle down and marry.
  • Theatre. If those silly Greeks hadn't decided to act things out for their religious purposes, my life would have taken a distinctly different turn. In fact, I would probably have ended up either a journalist (horror of horrors) or a politician (and yes, I would have been amongst the first killed when the revolution comes).
  • Rockband. This game has reminded me the love I have and the joy I take from music, whether it's listening to it, singing, or pretending I have a sense of rhythm and playing the drums. I have always been happier when music is incorporated into my life. Probably one of the reasons why it's a good thing I married Sam!
  • My friends. "A strand of three cords is not easily broken." Praise God that my strand is made up of many more cords than three. I have never excelled at telling people how much I love and appreciate them, but let there be no doubt whatsoever that my life is deepened and enriched by the people in it, particularly Sherri, Brad, Regina, Eric, Philip, Kelly, Will, Kim, Travis, Daylene, Alicia, and dozens more that my horrid mind is blanking on. I love you all.
  • My kitties. Purportedly there are studies which show that pets lengthen lives and give people a better quality of life. They obviously never lived with Nala. (No, I really don't mean that. It just wrote itself. Really.) There were days when the only reason I got out of bed was because I knew a) the cats needed fed and b) the litter-box needed cleansed.
  • Language. I know it seems like something totally random to be thankful for, but I really am glad that language exists. Even as a small child I took delight in things that had to with language--reading, writing, spelling, speaking, the way words interact and the ideas conjured--all of it. In particular I have fond memories of a Speak-And-Spell that my parents gave to me as a little girl. I was still playing with it when I was ten years old. If I knew where it was, I'd still be playing with it at age twenty-five.
  • God. This one is obvious and shouldn't even need a statement, but it's there. Without God there would truly be no joy in my life, and I likely would have given up, curled up, and died a long time ago. All glory and honor goes to Him, and everything on this list for which I am grateful is a direct gift from Him. All I need do is look at this list and remember His unending love for all of us.

And there you have it! Ten things for which I am very grateful for. Go forth this day and think of ten different things you're grateful for!

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
--Melodie Beattie

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day Twelve -- I Hate Being Sick

I am ill to my stomach.

(I blame the food at Cafe Mimi's)

I am cranky.

(That's the joy of not being more than twenty feet from the bathroom)

I am tired.

(See all of the above)

Good night.

(Sorry, no quote tonight)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day Eleven -- Date Night

Sam has declared Thursday Nights to be "Holly's Night" aka "Date Night." As such, I will likely never post anything of note on Thursdays (my apologies, dear readers).

So I'm going to open the floor to anyone who wishes to comment: is there anything that you've every wanted to listen to a strange, short, bossy 25-year-old rant or expound upon? Here's your chance to ask!

"To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions."
--Sam Keen

P.S. I immediately thought of MMO's when I saw that quote.... *hangs her head in shame*

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day Ten -- Best laid plans...

So I thought about keeping a running commentary of things I did, but that didn't end up happening because my plans were all wonky today, thanks to forgetting I had a doctor's appointment (wellness checkup, nothing to worry about) until I woke up this morning and Google Calendar reminded me.

Oi vey.

Between that and looking over the lighting system at our church, nothing went quite according to plan today. And I'm tired. So I'm just going to leave all of you with this insightful Lolcat:

"If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer." -- Alfred North Whitehead

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day Nine -- Lunch Idea

Sunday I mentioned both here and on Facebook that I had spent the afternoon cooking up meals to freeze so that Sam and I could have lunches. Imagine my surprise at the amount of response I received from various friends and family over on Facebook and via email. The most common response was something to the effect of "Wow, that's amazing! How did you do that?"

Well, as I'm planning to do more cooking along those lines tomorrow, I thought I'd share my escapades, and the reasoning behind them.

Back in the day, I used to make large dinners and then use them for leftovers, but lately that hasn't worked out so well. With Sam starting up classes this week and living so far from campus, there's no way he can duck back to the apartment and get lunch and/or supper between classes and rehearsals. This means Sam's choices are either coming up with food to take to school, buying a meal plan, or eating out.

To be honest I do not know what the cost of a meal plan would be for Sam. However, most of the research I've done postulates that the average lunch costs someone $5, and that if you bought it five days a week on average you'd be eating out 260 days a year. This means you'd spend roughly $1,300 in the course of a year. Now, the average "brown bag lunch" costs about $1.50 to make. This means if you did a packed lunch those same 260 days you'd spend $390. That's a savings of roughly $910. For one person. When you consider that there's two of us, that means saving $1,820 in the course of one year.

Now, admittedly we're only talking about one semester right now (no telling what his schedule will be like next semester) so we're only looking at 17 weeks. That's still 85 days. If we only do lunches, and he did lunch every day, that would still be a savings of $297.50 for just Sam. Double that for the two of us and it's nearly $600 (and two days of week he has to take supper with him too!).

Six-hundred dollars? That's a pretty rocking Christmas present!

So with all of this in mind, I decided to get back into the habit of packing lunches for the two of us. However, because trying to cook extras for leftovers isn't working out, I decided to do batch cooking and freeze everything. After Sunday, my inventory of frozen food for lunches was such:

5 servings of Cheeseburger Mac
2 servings of Stir Fry Pasta (Rotini with grilled fajita chicken and mixed veggies)
2 servings of Fajita Chicken by itself
2 servings of mixed veggies by itself
5 1 cup bags of cooked rice
2 servings of green beans
2 servings of broccoli

The reason why I had some of the stir fry sets mixed together with pasta and some separate is that Sam has issues with foods that have "pieces and parts." If it's just rice/noodles with meat, he's fine. But mix in veggies with different textures... yeah, no deal. So I left some of them separate so he could mix and match as he wished, and left other veggies in little containers so we could add veggies for main dishes as we wish.

We've also packed various drinks (sodas, juices, Capri Suns, etc.) and little snacks (like grapes, raisins, cereal bars, crackers, or Cheez-Its) to flesh out the packed lunch, so that if we have a break and want something to drink/munch on we're not popping $2 into a vending machine. Other extras that have made their way into the lunch boxes are little containers of soy sauce/Italian dressing for the stir fry (yes, I like Italian dressing instead), made from little medicine measuring cups covered by press and seal wrap.

My goal tomorrow is to cook up a batch goulash and maybe some additional veggie choices, as well as freeze some sandwiches. We'll see how it all turns out! Maybe I'll also do a post tomorrow as I go along, describing my freezing techniques, inventory system, and so on, in case someone out there becomes inspired.

I know I'm a dreamer. But I have fun!

"The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket."
--Kin Hubbard

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day Eight -- Co-Exist

Sunday mornings are always rough for me, namely because church in general is rough for me. I started going to my current church when Sam and I got engaged, and it's been a very different experience. Up to this point all of the churches I have consistently attended have been, well, small-town churches with no more than about 50-100 people in attendance. This is a much, much larger church (though no where close to being a mega-church, much less a Six-Flags Over Jesus). Which is great and all, but I feel overwhelmed by people every time I'm in there.

Also, I find myself having a hard time listening to the pastor there sometimes. It's not intentional, it's just invariably he'll tell us what chapter and verse(s) he's looking at for the day's sermon, and the next thing I know I've read about 5 other chapters in that book and he's two-thirds of the way through his sermon.

Books have always had a way of distracting me.

Anyway, on Sunday our Pastor was talking to us about the idea of unity and community in the church, which overall I thought was good. At one point, however, he began talking about how American culture as a whole is obsessed with the idea of unity or "oneness," and that in the process we lose truth. He then proceeded to talk about how he had seen this bumper sticker:

and that he had serious issues with the idea presented here. He continued to illustrate the point by talking about how he'd heard a "former President" speaking about why couldn't people of the various religions in the country set aside their differences when it comes to things like abortion and homosexuality and find points of unity. The Pastor disagreed with this because he felt we should "stick to our guns on these matters of truth. What's so great about the ideal of unity if we lose the truth?"

I completely understand, on an intellectual level, what his words were trying to communicate. However, the way he stated it, and the approving murmurs from the congregation set my hair on end. The tone wasn't one of "lets not compromise our values in an effort of trying to find 'unity' or 'acceptance' in the world, for while we are in the world we are not of the world." The feel of the words--and the emotions it sparked in the congregation--was of self-righteousness and arrogance, of hate and superiority. It actually made me grind my teeth.

Because to me, bumper stickers like the Peace sticker above or the better known Co-Exist sticker--

--is about promoting the over-riding tenet of love that these religions claim to profess. Are there sound, objective, Biblical and moral truths that we should live by? Absolutely! (For an excellent argument about this, I recommend C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.) But tell me what is wrong about recognizing the fact that we are all people, great or small, that we all have the same basic needs--physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual--and that nothing will change unless we can have intelligent discourse? The vibe I received (and it could totally have just been Holly in natural paranoia mode) was the unyielding anger of "we're right, no matter what anyone says, and we shouldn't have to listen to them or try to find out why they think and feel the way they do. We should just get rid of them all. Who needs'em? Damn queers," and so on and so forth....

Should we be willing to discuss our tenets and beliefs? Should be willing to tell someone that they're leading a life of sin and need the redemptive blood of Christ? Without a doubt. Does that give us the right to espouse violence and spew forth hatred and claim that we are "sticking to our guns" and "not diluting the truth"? In my opinion, no. Hate the sin, not the sinner. Show them love. Tell them of Christ and what He's done for us. Explain why our beliefs show their and our actions to be sin. And tell them that we love them any way. That we are here for them no matter what. Because that, that is what the Christ tells us every moment of every day.

I believe my feelings about talking to others about sin is best described with the following:

A good friend of mine at work told me the story of one of the last times she ever spanked her son. She couldn't even remember what it was that he had done that she felt the need to spank him, but it had completely infuriated her. After about twenty minutes of spanking him, he finally stood up, took the belt gently out of her hand, and told her that was enough, which simply enraged her more. Before she could do or say anything, however, he asked her: "Are you punishing me because you truly love me and need to discipline me, or because it makes you feel better?"

He then kissed her on the cheek, thanked her for loving him, and walked out of the bedroom. To this day she still hasn't decided why she spanked him that day.

So here's the thing about talking to people about sin and beliefs in regards to abortion, murder, usury, lying, sexual misconduct, whatever: are we talking to them about it because we love them and need to discipline/help them to learn and grow, or are we talking at them and using it as an excuse to hate them because it gives us a sense of superiority and makes us feel better?

The feeling I got from the people in the church yesterday was the latter.

It terrified me.

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."
--John Wesley

(Please feel free to make comments and discuss as you will, or completely ignore it as you will. All I ask is that it stay cordial and in the spirit of love.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day Seven -- Sleepy Sunday Evening

Having spent all morning in church and all afternoon cooking up various meals for the upcoming week, I'm afraid I just don't have much wherewithal to post anything in depth today (though today's sermon did spark some thoughts that I want to share once I have a chance to dwell on them a little longer.)

So, instead, I'm going to leave you with the following clip, because it's been stuck in my head all bloody day. o.0

"Good painting is like good cooking: it can be tasted, but not explained."
--Maurice de Vlaminck

Day Six -- Sitting at Maker's

[Note: this was typed and posted via my phone--please excuse any typos.]

I am curently sitting at Maker's in a little black dress, sipping my drink while sitting in a dark corner, and watching my husband play jazz. All the while I'm texting people and blogging on my iPhone. I feel incredibly trendy at the moment.

I love sitting and watching Sam play. He's one of those musicians that you can tell without a doubt enjoys himself immensely when he plays. It's part of what fascinated me about him the first time I watched him at the Prohibition Room.

Anyway, the "plan" at the moment is that, as the night goes on, I'll periodically jot something down on my iPhone, and when we head home I'll post it.

So I'm currently seated in a corner of the bar where I can see not only every person in the bar, but every person taking the elevators to the establishments upstairs AND everyone stumbling off to the bathrooms. This bodes well.

So of the thirty-odd people here right now, about six appear to be listening to the music--mostly middle aged couples out on a date.

Oh my, I just watched a guy walk by in the diamond sweater from Jesse's costume in It Could Be Anyone of Us. I kid you not.

One of those middle aged couples has friend with them now... and are apparently friends/family of Joey, the vibes player.

Oh sweethearts, that's not remotely attractive. Just watched two women in their late 20's - early 30's walk by, and they were both about 60 lbs overweight, had badly dyed platinum blond hair, and were wearing haltertops which showed their midriffs hanging over their daisy dukes--daisy dukes that didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of containing their thighs--and three inch strappy heels. They look like horrific versions of 1980's Texas street walker.

If ya'll ever let me go into public looking like that, I can only assume you are all secretly my enemy.

So some jerkwad decided to crack open the tinted door I was sitting next to, causing me to have to move, so I don't have nearly the view of my surroundings that I did. We'll see how that affects my snarkiness.

In other news, Sam just had his first break of the night and bought me a coffee and Bailey's--apparently I looked stressed.

For those of you unaware, Maker's is a "cigar and piano" bar, so 4/5ths of the people in here are smoking. It's a good thing it doesn't bother me; otherwise I'd have been gone after ten
minutes when there were only 30 people here. The place is mostly full by this point.

The nice thing about the haze of cigar and cigarette smoke is that it does wonders for the lighting in here. The birdies they're using to light the band make me smile, but with the smoke it works very well. Of course, the light on Sam is a warm amber, which when combined with his hair and red shirt, makes him very eye-catching. Good thing I already have my claim on him.

So I feel sorry for the poor waitress tonight--from everything I can tell, she's the only waitress here tonight, and all but like three tables are filled. Here's hoping she's making good tips.

Totally can tell university is starting back up on Monday--there's an over abundance of college kids on the prowl now. It's rather amusing. Of course I didn't go bar-hopping until after college, but that was a side-effect of age and location.

It's the second break of the night, and the official word is that the bathrooms here are completely, totally, and utterly disgusting. The kind of disgusting that makes you afraid to wash your hands for fear of leaving with more germs than you started with.

We've now reached the point were most of the people who are left are either here for either the music or are too drunk to care. However, I'd say the first half outnumber the second, which is a pleasant surprise. And then there's the guy who just likes whoop, hollar, and whistle.

Joey just took his jacket off. Either it is way hot up there where the band is or Joey's in a place of I don't care. That or he's trying to show if his torso. There are sone OCU girls here, so that is a possibility, I suppose.

If I were a character in the Sims, my mood meter for comfort would be into orange headed towards red. They have these hard wooden chairs at most of the tables, and I would need to have been drinking a whole lot more than I have before they'd feel comfortable. Still a little over an hour to go.

Almost there--one more set to go.

Meanwhile, I've had fun watching all of the really drunk college girls trying to walk by in their 2-4 inch heels. I've seen two fall on their asses, and a half-dozen more ran into the wall when trying to turn the corner to leave. Schaedonfruede? You bet!

Well, if the tip jar is anything to go by, it looks like the guys are having a pretty decent night tonight. Quite a few bills in there. Also have had two women figure out I'm "with the band," as they each made a point to let me know how good they are. That makes a wife proud.

We're down to last 15 minutes of the gig, and all twenty or so people left in the bar are applauding each song the guys play. Ah, the joys of social lubricants at work. Still, I'm really enjoying the music tonight--it's got a lot more tempo and, well, life to it than what I've heard at Sam's gigs in the past. Despite some of the aggravations, I'd call tonight a success. And while they're not officially done yet, I'm going to go ahead and start the process of posting this.

Good night everyone! Thanks for keeping me company (in spirit at least.)

"It's taken me all of my life to learn what not to play."
--Dizzy Gillespie

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day Five -- Flash Games

To be honest I have a little bit of an upset stomach tonight, so I'm just going to leave ya'll with my personal favorite top five flash games (because apparently I'm all about top five lists):

5. Addiction Solitaire

When I was a lone, solitary sales rep at Radio Shack, I could literally go several hours without ever seeing another human being. This game was what got me through without becoming completely homicidal. I originally knew this game as "Gaps" on an old Sierra card game my mother had on the PC when I was a kid. Definitely a fun time killer.

4. Zuma

This game always makes me think of Tarvis, Will, and my parents. In that order. Highly recommend you play this game with a mouse and not a touch pad, however. (Speaking from sad, sad experience.)

3. Gridlock

In case you were unaware of this fact, I am a complete puzzle nut. I adore puzzle games. Gridlock is all about trying to get a specific block off the board by moving all of the other pieces in a unilateral direction. When I was a kid it was a board game known as "Rush Hour."

2. Word Whomp

No list of time-killers would be complete without a word game, and this one is my favorite version of the lot. The basic premise is to take 6 letters generated by the game and find as many words you can make from those letters as you can in about a minute and forty-five seconds. Another good version is Text Twist.

And what is our favorite time-killer at Angel Cole's Work in Progress?

1. Bejeweled

A tried and true classic, nothing has sucked up endless hours for me quite like Bejeweled. One of the best and worst things that ever happened to me while working at the DTC was having this game on my phone. (Yes, that is what I did during performances. Your point?)

There you have it--five time-killers to make effective use of whenever you want to put off being productive. :-)

And if you want a truly, ahem, memorable experience, you can always try this game. (Sherri, I'm looking at you.)

"The nice thing about doing a crossword puzzle is, you know there is a solution."
--Stephen Sondheim

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day Four -- Things They Never Think to Warn You About When You Get Married

Married life has been a wonderful experience thus far, and I'm very glad and grateful that I married Sam a little over two months ago [Editor's note: I originally wrote two years. Wonder what that says about me?]. I knew going in that it would be a terrifying and exhilarating experience, and despite all I had heard and read there would be a multitude of little things that can only be learned through said experience.

One of those terrifying things that no one thinks to warn you about is grocery shopping.

Oh, it may not sound terrifying, but trust me, it is.

You have to understand, by the time I married Sam I had been living completely on my own for about three years, give or take, and completely used to shopping in a specific way. I'd make up menus for the upcoming week or two, figure out what exactly I needed to purchase to make meals for said week and have a handful of snacks and drinks. Then I'd allow an extra $5 to $10 for an impulse buy (depending on how tight my budget was), and never allow myself to spend more than my set amount at the store (typically between $60 and $80 for two weeks).

That was then.

Now, now it is an adventure in trying to rein in constant impulse buys. It's not that Sam can't stick to a budget--he's very meticulous when he sets his mind to it--but he brings out the "oooh shiney!" personality trait in both of us. And heaven help us if we make the mistake of shopping while hungry. We've never crested the $200 mark, but there have been times I thought it a possibility.

There's also general food choices to consider. Sam, bless his soul, still has a bachelor's tendencies at times. There are days when he still thinks it's completely okay to live on nothing but Ramen, chili, rice, crackers, cookies, and juice. I, on the other hand, at least try to buy healthier foods and make complete meals instead of just meat and and a side dish. It's two completely different walks of life.

Also, Sam easily consumes about twice as much food as me on a daily basis (which is completely understandable as Sam has about 13" of height and over a hundred pounds of weight more than me). Dishes I could live off of for two or three days thanks to leftovers are now eaten in the first sitting. I've had to learn to basically double all of my recipes if I want to have leftovers for lunches.

This means grocery shopping can become a wee bit stressful for me, as I spend the entire time mentally keeping track of everything we buy and trying to persuade Sam and myself that we really don't need to buy an extra large tub of coffee this time (though we will need to get it next time). Not that I would trade it for anything in the world--I completely love and adore my Sam!

Anyway, this is why you're not getting anything deep and insightful, or silly and humorous tonight. Because, that's right, we just the entire evening planning, shopping, and unpacking groceries.

But the extra $1.50 for the Special Dark Chocolate Hersey's Syrup was totally worth it.

"Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!"
--Anne Tyler

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day Three -- Happy Birthday to Sherri and Susan!

August 19th is a pretty good day, when all is said and done. On this august occasion several different people have been born (pun intended), including but not limited to: my almost-twin Sherri, my sister-in-law Susan, and as of about 10 am this morning, Jude (Sam's best friend Paul's new son!).

That makes this a pretty rocking day in my book!

Sam and I went to Shawnee this afternoon to help Sherri celebrate her birthday, and I believe a good time was had by all. Still, I can't resist an opportunity to make a big deal about my sister, so I wanted to say one more time for all the world to see:


That is all.

"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time."
--Clara Ortega

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day Two -- I Am Not A Man or Why Holly Hates the Social Security Administration

Today's rant is brought to you courtesy of the U.S. Government.

Ever since I tried to get a job with Radio Shack in the summer of 2005, I have had an ongoing argument with the Social Security Office as to my identity. When "the Shack" (whose horrible idea was that catch-phrase, by the way?) ran a credit check on my Social Security number, it came back that I was a man. You can imagine my surprise when I heard the news, as everything I'd been taught in the 9 consecutive years of sex-ed I had in the Wellington School System told me that I was definitely female. Of course, we are talking about public education, so there was a chance I'd been misinformed, but I was pretty sure I fell under the definition of "female."

Radio Shack decided to go ahead and hire me despite the discrepancy in the paperwork. I submitted a few forms to the Social Security Administration (from here out referred to as the SSA) and thought it was all resolved.

In the summer of 2006 I moved to Dallas and decided to open up a bank account there. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was already an account opened under my number. Further research determined that a man back in 1993 had opened an account with that particular bank, and they'd transposed two digits on his Social. They'd opened a new account with the correct Social for this gentleman, but they'd never actually closed the incorrect account under my Social Security number. They closed it out while I sat there and I thought to myself, Well, at least we know where that particular confusion originated.

In April of 2007 I submitted my tax returns. Rather, I tried desperately to submit my tax returns, but they wouldn't actually process them because it said my birth date was wrong. Down I traipsed to my local SSA building with my passport to have the birthday corrected--apparently they thought I was born on the 18th instead of the 17th. They said they had everything updated for me, and once I again I thought I had the issue taken care of.

In April of 2008 I once again submitted my tax returns.... and once again they told me they couldn't actually file it for me because my birth date was wrong. This time, however, I was in a panic trying to figure out where my next job was going to be, so I didn't actually go to an SSA building until in the summer to get it straightened out. This time when I went to the SSA they told me that my passport didn't count--I'd have to present them a birth certificate. I also found out that they had the right day; now the month was wrong.


Later in the fall, after I'd obtained my birth certificate from my mother, I went downtown in OKC to present my birth certificate and get everything fixed. They looked at my birth certificate, told me everything was hunky dorey, and sent me on my merry way thinking everything was fixed. And when I filed my taxes and everything went through, I believed them.

Fast forward to July. Sam and I had been married for a month, and we'd finally received our marriage certificate from the wonderful state of Nevada. Hurrah! Holly can now go to the SSA and get her name officially changed! Being a paranoid person, I decide to take my birth certificate with me, because that's the way my luck runs.

Sherri and I had decided to spend the day together, so we went to the SSA in Shawnee to submit the paperwork to get my name changed. I sit down, tell them my Social, tell them my birthday, and have the gentleman tell me that that's not the birth date they have on file.

You. Have. To. Be. Bloody. Kidding. Me.

I present the gentleman with my birth certificate, proving once again that I was born when and where I was born. The nice guy behind the desk says we'll get that updated at the same time we update my name. We move further along in the process, and finally determine that the birth certificate I have was issued by the hospital and not the state, and therefore does not actually count.

Apparently, when I was at the previous SSA, they had thought that once they saw the certificate they could just file the form and it would be done, but they actually needed a number that's only found on the state-issued certificate. And instead of trying to contact me to inform me of this, they just let it go. I am currently awaiting my birth certificate from the state of Kansas to arrive so that I can put this to rest for once and for all.

Until April comes and we find out that my name was never actually changed, even though I have my new SSN card.

"The information encoded in your DNA determines your unique biological characteristics, such as sex, eye color, age and Social Security number."
--Dave Barry

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day One -- Welcome to my 25th year!

It's official: I have now lived for a quarter of a century. To be honest, a part of me never expected to make it this far. The rest of me has been waiting for me to be in my 70's and the matriarch of a large family (if Sam has his way, it will be a large family *mutters something about five kids*).

Perhaps I should have some great words of wisdom, but all I can think of is that God has been incredibly good to a small girl from a small town in Kansas. I look forward to all of the great and small things He has in store for my future!

I'm having a great birthday so far. I had to work (on a Monday no less [which is always the worst day on the phones at work]), but all of the customers I worked with today were extremely happy with me by the end of the call. I even received two compliment calls. This is exciting because I never get compliment calls, though I always score well on the surveys they do of customers after the call.

I've talked to lots of people yesterday and today and been inundated with text messages, emails, and Facebook posts. Makes a girl feel loved. Also, in addition to the fantastic present of an iPhone(!), Sam got me a cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory and we're getting ready to download some songs for Rock Band. Even more importantly--Sam cleaned the ENTIRE APARTMENT for me while I was at work today!

That, my friends, is a prime example of genuine and selfless love.

"I mean, what is an un-birthday present?"
"A present given when it isn't your birthday, of course."
Alice considered a little. "I like birthday presents best," she said at last.
"You don't know what you're talking about!" cried Humpty Dumpty. "How many days are there in a year?"
"Three hundred and sixty-five," said Alice.
"And how many birthdays have you?"
--Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Prologue v -- For Love of Cats

When I got my second cat, Nala, I posted a question on Facebook asking how many cats I had to have before I became a cat lady. The general consensus seemed to be three cats, though Sherri allowed me as many as five and I believe it was Scott who said that I was a cat lady as soon as there were more cats than people in the house. Having married Sam, there are now an equal number of cats and humans in the house. However, I've been assured that I'm still a cat lady.

(On a side note: Sam says that if I get another cat, we have to get a dog first. To have any more cats requires an equal number of dogs. We're going to have a lot of animals when we get an actual house.)

All of this to say, I absolutely love cats. I have two cats in my home currently:



They are both onery as can be, but I absolutely adore them. As time goes on, I'm sure you'll hear many stories concerning them. For now, however, I just wanted to establish myself as a cat woman, and I felt like sharing one of my favorite lolcats:

(And no, that's not a picture of Spartan, even though it looks like him.)

"I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul."
--Jean Cocteau

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Prologue iv -- Of Ferrets and Lions

Everybody has a dirty little secret. Mine is a dirty little we-all-know-about-it-but-pretend-otherwise secret. That is to say, I have an unholy addiction to fan-fiction. I absolutely love reading what people imagine could have happened in someone else's sandbox. (A side effect of spending my teen years playing MUSHes, but that's a different post.)

Without a doubt, I have read some truly atrocious things over the years. Many who write fan-fiction are still in high school and are in the process of developing thier writing chops. I have found some truly amazing and enjoyable stories as well. Not necessarily the best crafted from a critical standpoint, but truly enjoyable none-the-less. And, even more rarely, I have come across tales which are well-crafted, well-written, and extremely enjoyable.

As such, tonight I'm going to share with you some of my favorites from a fandom that is near and dear to my heart: Harry Potter. These are my top five favorite stories in the Harry Potter Fandom--as determined by the number of times I have reread them.

5. To the Rescue by DrT

One of the big things I love about this story is the original character of Tabitha Spellman created by the author, as well as the idea that there are other magical cultures out there, including one in North America. Set during Harry and company's sixth year, this story was written before Half-Blood Prince came out.

4. Dumbledore's Army by DrT

"Remember Cedric Diggory!"

"And all the innoncents slaughtered!"

Also set during Harry and company's sixth year, this one is a far more martial take on what could have happened in canon, had things gone differently. DrT has written many, many pieces of fanfiction, all of which are as lengthy as the two mentioned here. However, these are the two that I absoluely love reading. Written before HBP came out.

3. The Psychic Serpent Series by Barb

Probably the best known of any of the fanfiction series out there in the HP fandom, Barb started writing her vision of the Harry Potter universe in the long summer between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, and as such is AU after GoF. Of all of the stories, this is one the one that comes to mind when I think of fanfiction that is "well-crafted, well-written, and extremely enjoyable." She did her research to make it as authentically British as possible in language and description while still being an American. Plus, the character of Buttercup in the second book, Harry Potter and the Time of Good Intentions, always makes me think of Sherri.

2. Draco Malfoy the Amazing Bouncing ... Rat? by Maya

This one is pure crack, and I love it oh so much! This is for all of those people out there who have a soft spot in their hearts for Malfoy, think the Gryffs are waaaaaay too innocent at times, and are in love with coffee. "There's too much blood in my caffiene system!" Written between OotP and HBP.

And my absolute favorite Harry Potter fanfiction of all time (and the one that probably made me resent Rowling's Canon so much)...

1. The Refiner's Fire by Abraxan

If you can make it past the first five pages, you'll absolutely fall in love with this story. To me it's a realistic look at the way everything could have fallen out from a Wizarding War point of view, rather than the disjointed world that Rowling presents to us. Also, it has an absolutely kick-ass version of Ginny in it, and realistically handles Harry's reaction to Sirius's demise in OotP. Written before HBP came out.

So there you have it--proof that I am a geek who needs to get out more. I hope that at least one person out there will read one of these, even if they never admit it to anyone else. I feel it proof that there is enjoyable fan-fiction out there. You just have to find it.

Until next time, my friends!

"A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote."
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Friday, August 14, 2009

Prologue iii -- Chicken and Rice

I'm not feeling too creative today (or, rather, I'm completely enamored of my new iPhone), so I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes with everyone. There are two versions of it: one cooked in the crockpot and the other in the oven. Now, you'll need to understand that some of the proportions are very... loose... as I typically don't measure ingredients, but instead eyeball it/taste it and make adjustments as necessary.

We can all thank my Grandma for that tendency.

Crockpot Version

1 can Campbells French Onion soup
1 can Campbells Cream of Celery soup
1 can Campbells Cream of Chicken soup
2 cups Minute Rice
4-8 chicken breast tenderloins

In a medium size bowl, mix together the three cans of soup and 2 cups of rice until an even color/consistency. Lay your unbreaded chicken tenders in the crockpot and then fill said crockpot with the soup and rice mixture. Cook on high for two hours and then on for at least one hour (or until time to eat), stirring occasionally. Alternatively, mix it together and put it in before you go to work on low, and when you get home it will be done!

Oven Version

1 can Campbells French Onion soup
1 can Campbells Cream of Celery soup
1 can Campbells Cream of Chicken soup
2 cups Minute Rice
4-8 chicken breast tenderloins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium size bowl, mix together the three cans of soup and 2 cups of rice until an even color/consistency. Spray a 9 x 12 pan with Pam. Lay your unbreaded chicken tenders in the pan and then fill said pan with the soup and rice mixture. Cover pan with aluminum foil to keep the chicken moist. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until chicken is tender and falls apart.

There you have it! For the record, it is very important to use Minute rice and not regular rice in the oven version. Otherwise, the rice just never cooks properly. Also, one variation on it is to mix in a can of green beans as well. You know, for those people out there who want to pretend they're health conscious.

Anyway, until tomorrow my friends!

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.: ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prologue ii -- Phone Adventures

There may be a few of you out there who do not realize that I am not a morning person. It is for your sake that I give the following warning: I am not a morning person. I am especially not a morning person at 4 am.

Why do I mention this? Because my day started today at, you guessed it, 4 am. This wasn't a planned awakening at 4 am--if it had been, I would have been merely pissy, rather than homicidal. (Before you fear for his life, yes, Sam is still alive. Not even his fault I was awake that early.)

What happened? Well, it actually all begins last night as I'm getting ready to go to bed. You see, yesterday my phone decided to go on the fritz--completely powered off at about 6 pm, even though I had charged it the night before. Ah well, sometimes it doesn't get a complete charge, I think to myself. With this in mind I decide to plug in the phone while Sam and I settle down for the night.

It is an unfortunate happenstance that the outlet in our bedroom is on Sam's side of the bed, and the power cable for my LG enV is just barely long enough to make it from the outlet to my nightstand. In the course of drifting off to sleep, I accidentally nudged my phone, and the tension on the cable pulled the phone down to the floor. With much grumbling I manage to retrieve it, and Sam sets the alarm on our actual clock in case I knock the phone off the bed again in the middle of the night.

Fast forward to 4 am. I wake up a little as I hear Sam move around the bed, just enough to identify that yes, Sam did get out of bed. With a mental shrug I roll over to go back to sleep. Only, there's one small problem: the side I rolled onto had no bed to catch me.

Down to the floor I go.

Wide awake now, I grumble and start to get up, only to notice that my phone has fallen off the nightstand during this transaction, and of course has been pulled underneathe the bed. I crawl around--in the dark with no glasses--trying to find my phone, and eventually determine that it has fallen between the bed and the wall.

Cursing, I decide to move the bed away from the wall so I can retrieve my phone. (Sam has [wisely] by this point retreated to the bathroom--which I believe was his original intention when he got out of bed in the first place--after I nearly bit off his head telling him that "I'm fine.") So I tug on the bed to move it, and succeed only in moving the mattress but not the box springs. Thoroughly irritated, I go to push the mattress back into place so I can grab the actual bed frame to shift it, and instead manage to roll the whole bed.

Over my toes.

At this juncture I start to invent new profanity. Finally I manage to move the bed and retrieve my phone, which is also the time when Sam makes it back into the bedroom. Having successfully got everything set back up, I drop back into bed to go back to sleep.

I awake to my alarm this morning, pull out my phone to tell it, yes, I am awake, and notice that, lo and behold, it only has one bar on the battery.

Le sigh.

I manage to make it until my lunch before my phone completely dies.

However, my wonderful husband decides it is in the best interest of humanity (and our sanity [or is it his safety?]) that we should go ahead and get my birthday present early: a brand new iPhone 3GS. :-D I am totally, utterly, absolutely, without a doubt completely psyched by this!

God sure knows how to make a bad thing good, doesn't He?

"We're just going to go home, go to bed, and play with our phones aren't we?"
"Nope. I'm going to go home and write in my blog. Then we'll go to bed and play with our new phones!"
--Sam and I driving home tonight

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Prologue i -- The First Step

A little under a decade ago, I made a (not so) noble attempt at keeping a blog. Not that it was called a blog then--oh no, it was just journaling online. Unsurprisingly, the home of my journal was LiveJournal. I managed to keep it going for about two years, from 2000 to 2002.

Why did I stop? Well, it was a combination of several things, but the largest contributor was that I had left for college and flat didn't have time for it any more. While I have written the occasional post since then on various social networking sites, they were not a serious attempt at keeping a blog. Rather, they were "I want to communicate something to a bunch of people I don't have email addresses for any more but may check this page." That, or doing memes on Facebook.

(Yes, I did do the 20 things meme. Your point is?)

To be quite honest, it isn't anything I've really had a desire to pick back up since then, either. This begs the question of why I'm attempting to start it back up now.

Truthfully, it is once again a combination of several factors, but the biggest reason is that I miss having a creative, interactive outlet. From the time I started high school until July of last year, I was doing theatre pretty much non-stop. I may have had the occasional month here or there where I had time away from it, but even then I was thinking about the next show. I had a forum in which to communicate with the world around me, even if no one actually knew I was there.

Last summer I was working on a lighting rig for a theatre company and managed to screw up my hips fairly badly, to the point where I really can't climb around with fifty pounds of equipment any more. As such, I decided to leave theater and try to settle down into the "real world" and make my way in that. A year later I'm itching to get back into theatre, but I am waiting until my husband finishes his masters in music before I go back for my own masters in theatre.

(Sweet, I just made my first reference to my husband! Awesome!)

Since I'm looking at at least another year of mundane worklife, I've decided I need some consistent form of creative outlet that isn't Rock Band or the Sims 3 (both of which I am addicted to, but aren't exactly enough to satisify my craving to communicate with an audience, even if that audience just turns out to be Sam and Sherri). This thought has plagued me for the past month or so, but I couldn't think of what that "creative outlet" should be.

Then, my dear sister sent me links to some friends' blogs that I used to follow before losing internet access for six months, including a new one that my friend Will has since started up. Now, Will made a resolution to do 365 days of blogging going from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2009, and he's done an amazing job keeping up with it (up to Day Two-Hundred Twelve!). I was immediately taken with the idea and wanted to do it myself. (Yes, I am completely, totally, and utterly unoriginal. This should come as a surprise to no one.) [Editor's note: according to Will he actually started it on January 12th. Yep, I'm observant.]

I had obviously missed the opportunity to start on January 1 and have no desire to wait until next year to start this. And while I could just say that August 12, 2009 is day one, it felt a little... lacking. Besides, what was going to be the point of this blog, aside from just giving me a soap box to ramble on for awhile? It was at this time that the little light above my head went off and I thought Hey, my birthday is next Monday, and I'll be turning 25; so why don't I do the 365 day thing but have it "officially" start on my birthday? I could say the "official" purpose of the blog is to chronicle my 25th year of life! (It is so much "fun" making "use" of "quotation marks" [Like that joke's never been done. I told you I was unoriginal].) Having made that decision, however I didn't want to actually wait until Monday to start this, because by then I'd probably give into laziness and not even start.

Hence why I am starting today with my "Prologue," with the intent of beginning my training to do this every day, even if it is only a short post with a few links to things I like. And yes, there will be short posts like that--I promise!--despite the length of this first post.

Until then, I leave you with the following quote:

"Take the first step, and your mind will mobilize all its forces to your aid. But the first essential is that you begin. Once the battle is started, all that is within and without you will come to your assistance."
--Robert Collier (American motivational author, 1885-1950)