Sept Choses

aka Seven Things.  aka Confess!

1. I’m a card carrying SCA fighter.  I haven’t fought in about a year, but I have every intention of returning this spring. 

(Wearing armour in the cold and wet sucks.  What sucks even more is wearing armour in the cold and wet, and then getting beaten with sticks.) 

I have a full set of armour, much of which I made myself.  Thanks to that experience, I now have the skills required to  build armour, including basic metalsmithing, basic to advanced leatherworking, and expert chain maille.  Ergo, I am a total geek with a very high pain tolerance, a knack for tools, and a penchant for beating grown men and woman about the head and body with sticks, and a tendency to occasionally dress in funny clothes (some of which I also made myself).  Fear me.

2. I am a pyromaniac.  When I was a kid, I built a fire on my front steps out of newspaper, took a disposable camera (they were the latest thing!), stuck my hand in the fire and took a picture.  I never did develop that film, but I really really wish I had.  Heck, I might try it again someday. 

3.  I’m convinced that I will die in a car accident.  I’m hoping that the fact that I *am* convinced of that, will cause me to be more cautious.  So far so good.  *knock on fake wood laminate*

4. I’m not sure this one counts, because it’s not something I did, but I didn’t really see any rules.  And I just have to get this out – I’ve never told anyone this.  A friend of mine, who I used to hang out with a lot years ago but have since lost touch with, had a cat.  A calico cat named Q.  She was cute, and young.  And unfixed.  Sooo, my friend, who was living on very meager means at the time, couldn’t afford to have her fixed.  And then cute little Q went into heat.  My friend was working hard at home on her career as a fashion designer, and got so frustrated with Q’s incessant yowling that she one day took a Q-tip to Q.  Yep, you got it…she fucked her cat Q with a Q-tip.  Apparently it worked though, Q was…satisfied.

5. I watched the very first video on MTV.  I know lots of people who *know* that Video Killed the Radio Star was the first video, but I don’t know a lot of people who watched MTV go on the air.  It’s kind of a cool memory to have. 

6. I used to be fluent in French.  It was a pretty weird feeling when I realized it.  I was walking down the street, just thinking about the stuff I had to do, and people I needed to talk to, so in my head was “Blah blah blah blah blah”  Except I realized, mid street crossing!, that what I was actually thinking was “ze Blah ze blah ze blah ze blah ze blah mais oui!  Zut alor!”!  Have you ever thought in a foreign language without realizing it, and then realize it?  Weird.  It’s long gone, of course, since I quit using it as my relatives learned English/passed away, but those synapse highways are pretty fused.  The cool thing is that I realized not only could I pick up French again pretty quick if I needed to, I could probably do Spanish pretty darn quick too.  But what I really want to learn is Portuguese, so I can talk about saudadeThere’s no real english translation, but I am intimately familiar with the feeling.

7. I am a feeling person.  I live in my feelings.  So it should come as no surprise that I am a total romantic, with a streak of realism that’s been beaten into me.  I truly believe in love, in all its forms, and in my opinion it is one of the most important things in the world.  It is human connection.  In my mind, it is the reason we exist; to foster, create and perfect those human connections.  And as love, connection, exists on a human scale, so it exists in others as well.  Love exists in the attraction of planets, and in the attraction of electrons to protons.  It is the compulsion to unite.  But then, my beliefs have been called ‘the science of faith’. And I better quit there before I get all preachy…I have a tendency to do that when I get on this topic.

I knew I should’ve been a physicist.  Damn.  Physics is the branch of science most likely to prove the existence of G-d. 

There.  Thanks @jarvitron for taggin me, and I mean that in the nicest way.  I’ll tag @cecivirtue, @djtv, @metroknow, and @camikaos.

Quit smoking in 15 easy years

I started smoking when I was 16.  I had a group of friends, and we would all hang out right after school and have a smoke together before we left on our respective busses back home.  As the oldest (I was a year ahead) of most of my friends, and because my last class of the day was a study class (seniors with good grades were allowed this luxury), it fell upon me to walk into town during the last class, buy smokes for everyone, and walk back.  My first cigarette, however, was my dad’s.  I found a forgotten unopened pack of marlboro lights in the back of his car one day, and quietly slipped it in my pocket to satisfy my curiosity at my convenience.  That first cigarette was hilarious; I opened the window in my bedroom and leaned waaaaay out, and smoked that puppy as best as I could.  It was nasty, but it kept giving me these really cool head rushes.  When I was done, I turned around, took one step, and fell flat on my face, totally passed out.  I woke up a few minutes later, and thought “cooool…..”  I had a fascination with altered sensation from then on.

I quit smoking about 3 years ago.  I say about, because I’m not sure of the exact date.  I know it was around thanksgiving, but I don’t remember which year, believe it or not.  That’s because for most people, quitting smoking is something that they plan, it’s a great event, a chance to wrestle control of their lives from the grip of those tiny, innocuous-seeming paper wrapped leaves.  But in my case…I had no say in the matter.  Of course, if I did have a say in the matter, or should I say my *brain* had a say in the matter, then I would’ve been all for it.  If the part of me that was my addiction had a say however…no chance.  Here’s how it happened:

Thanksgiving, 2004? 2005?  We’re at the inlaws, everyone’s making merry, my birthday is coming up which usually puts me in a good mood too, and I’m sick.  Not that big a surprise however, since I usually would get pretty sick around this time of year.  Bronchitis, pneumonia, and the flu where the usual culprits.  I remember the first time I got this kinda sick…it was in 1991 (now how do I remember *that* particular year? )  I remember doing everything in my power to continue smoking through the whole thing, and I managed.  Yay me.  I ended up at the doctor for sure that time.  Anyway, it was looking like either the big B or P.  The inlaws were feeding me lots of irish cream and coffee to soothe my throat, and that was good.  But I really just wanted a cigarette.  However, every time I stepped outside to light up, I would light the cigarette, go to take a drag, and nothing happened.  No air.  Panic!!!!  My lungs just Would.  Not.  Work.  I suspect it would be kind of the same feeling you’d get if you walked into one of those vaccuum chambers, shut the door, sucked every last big of air out of their (and you of course did not explode in the process), and then tried to take a breath.  Again, PANIC!!!  The more likely situation was that the muscles that make my lungs work said “Sorry pal, we’re not workin under these conditions any more.  Period.  So hit the road.”  Ok, I thought, that’s reasonable, I mean I am pretty sick.  And since every time I tried to smoke this happens, I’ll just give it a rest for a day.  I mean…I AM sick and all.

Except it didn’t stop the next day.  Or the day after that.  I started getting better, but every time I thought I might be able to smoke again, the answer was a very loud NO.  The magic three days went by (the amount of time it generally takes for all the nicotine to leave your system) and still no luck.  Physically, my addiction is pretty gone by now, but the pyschological is 1000 times stronger, as all smokers who’ve tried to quit know.  But my lungs were persistent.  They were firm in their conviction.  They were DONE.  A week goes by, then two, and I still just can’t smoke.  It’s getting to the point where I don’t so much mind anymore, since I feel so much better (more so than just the recovery from illness), I have more money in my pocket, and I”m starting to smell what smokers smell like and I don’t like it.

It was nearly a year before my lungs let me take a drag, and only barely at that.  By that time it was pointless…it tasted bad, and I ended up just puffing on them once every six months or so at certain parties.  The mere thought of a deep drag of nicotine smoke still makes my lungs do a cautionary seize, and that combined with a habit I”ve developed of taking a deep breath …a DEEP breath…every time I think of smoking, makes it pretty much a done deal.  Those deep breaths feel glorious.

Transition time again

I am in the middle of my personal transition time.  It comes every year, although some years are more impactful than others.  But every year, between the days of January 6th and January 9th, something, somewhere, happens that affects or will affect me.  For instance:

  • January 6th, 1990 – I get on a train in Boston with all my worldly possessions.
  • January 9th, 1990 – I arrive in Portland, Oregon for the first time.
  • January 6-9th, 1995 – My cat Jack was most likely born sometime around this date.
  • January 6th, 2001 – I met my recent ex.
  • January 9th, 2001 – We have our first date.
  • January 6th, 2006 – My dog Jessie was born.
  • January 6th, 2007 – I begin to recover from a crippling, soul numbing bout of depression.

I know there’s more, and it started with that train trip.  The pattern didn’t emerge until later, although for the first 5-6 years I would always remember on those days, that fateful train trip.  Something happened to me on that trip – I knew that within a few months – and it changed me.  I felt a shift in my psyche during that trip, I felt more grounded, more in touch, more thoughtful, more …aware.  And apparently the ripples of that experience are still…well, rippling.  Ever since I stopped consciously commemorating those few days, those days things happen to me.  Not every year, not that I can tell, but they’re usually good.

So the short version is….I’m feeling better.  Maybe it’s because I started working out a few days a week.  Maybe it’s because I’ve had good friends call me and say hey I want to hang out with you, just because, and we stole a wicked cool ash tray from a place called Chopsticks III .

Or maybe…it’s the power of those four days. 
I think it’s both.

RedEye

You may have noticed on my previous blog about my flight to Boston that I referred to the first leg of my flight as disturbing:  Previous Blog Posting

Now for the why. 

I sat on one of the aisle seats.  There were 3 seats on each side; a window, middle and aisle seat.  When I got to my seat, 6D, there was already someone sitting in the middle seat.  A somewhat attractive young man, probably in his early to mid 20’s, middle eastern, with an extremely straggly beard that he had obviously never shaved. In other words, a nice young (quite possibly) Muslim guy.  Now I do my best to not let prejudices bother me, but this guy was just creepy, once you sat next to him for any period of time.  He looked eXTREMEly nervous.  His eyes where kinda shifty.  He did not smile, or anything.  The one word he spoke to the flight attendant later, “Water”, was the only word he spoke the entire flight (out loud) and that with an accent.  Taken on their own, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but in one package?  Oy.  Maybe if I’d told him my father was Muslim (not really, he just told people that) he would’ve relaxed.  Until I told him my mother was Jewish, ha!  However I, always trying to assume good intent, chalked it up to perhaps he was afraid of flying. I hope.

The window seat was empty, so I felt a bit concerned that I would be sitting alone with him at this point.  It wasn’t until the very last that another lady sat in the window seat, which made me feel a bit better.

So we start taxiing down the runway, and young muslim dude starts muttering to himself.  Or maybe he was praying.  He was obviously very disturbed about something, because he kept it up for a solid half hour or so.  Are you getting a picture of this now?  Young, unfriendly, muslim, nervous, on plane, with accent, talking/praying/muttering to himself?  Good.  Let’s continue…

I was pretty desperate to get some sleep on this flight.  It was only about 4.5 hours, and I wouldn’t really have any chance to get any decent sleep afterwards; this was my only shot.  I did stay up long enough to get my little shuteye kit, since it had ear plugs and a sleeping mask, which was a big help.  I also wanted to get some soup to warm me up.  Once I got that all settled (they initially claimed to not have any soup, but they ‘found one in the back’.  I didn’t ask) I slapped on my mask, attempted to squeeze the earplugs in despite the fact that they did not remain rolled up for longer than a nanosecond no matter how much you rolled and squeezed, and tried to get some sleep.  Muslim boy apparently had the same idea, which was all good with me.  He had found a blanket somewhere and was doing something underneath it, but I tried really hard not to think about that.  I mean, he did have his mask on too…

I woke up about an hour later.  Muslim boy had his elbow clearly in my personal space, pushing on me a little with it, but the hand at the end of that elbow was caressing my leg.  And squeezing.  And stuff.  I shifted and tried to move away (ha! I might as well be a sardine!).  But nothing, he just squeezed and stroked my leg.  I looked at him and he appeared to be asleep.  And the hand seemed to be getting more into it, squeezing harder and more of my leg.  I just sat there, totally dumbfounded, for at *least* 10 seconds before I shot up out of my seat and stalked to the bathroom.  And stayed there a good 5 minutes, taking my time.  So much for my attempt to get as much sleep as possible, since I had lover muslim boy next to me.  I mean, cute can only take you so far, and everything else was just…creepy.  I sat in there trying to figure out what if anything I should do.  I mean, it’s entirely likely that he *was* still sleeping, and was….sleep…fondling?  Brother.

I went back to my seat.  Sat down.  Muslim boy had shifted away…good.  I slapped the mask back on and went back to sleep, thankfully for the majority of the rest of the flight. 

Fun stuff.

When Hawks Attack!!!!

Category: Randoms_
It’s fairly common knowledge at the building where I work that we have a family of resident redtail hawks that live there. This year, one of my coworkers has a website where he posts all the pictures that he’s been taking of the family and thier little new arrival. People for the most part are really good about keeping their distance and letting the little family be, but the other day a guy who works just around the cubicle bend from me was outside on the balcony checking out the baby from a distance, when the dad came swooping down and attacked him! Apparently it was quite the event, since the whole floor talked about it all day. I, sadly, was out at lunch. Well, no not really sadly. Thankfully is more like it, cuz then I didn’t have to endure the whole office going on and on for an hour about the ‘incident’.

Anyway check out the site. It’s really quite cool, and he’s gotten some absolutely fantabulous shots of the baby and his first steps…or swoops!

http://www.portlandredtailhawk.com/