What it’s like reading HP Lovecraft   Leave a comment

Something like fear chilled me as I sat there in the small hours alone–I say alone, for one who sits by a sleeper is indeed alone, perhaps more alone than he can realise. My uncle breathed heavily, his deep inhalations and exhalations accompanied by the rain outside, and punctuated by another nerve-racking sound of dripping water within–for the house was repulsively damp even in dry weather, and in this storm positively swamp-like. I studied the loose, antique masonry of the walls in the fungus-light and the feeble rays which stole in from the street through the screened windows; and once, when the noisome atmosphere of the place seemed to sicken me, I opened the door and looked up and down the street, feasting my eyes on familiar sights and my nostrils on the wholesome air. Still nothing occurred to reward my watching; and I yawned repeatedly, fatigue getting the better of apprehension.

Then the stirring of my uncle in his sleep attracted my notice. He had turned restlessly on the cot several times during the latter half of the first hour, but now he was breathing with unusual irregularity, occasionaly heaving a sigh which held more than a few of the qualities of a choking moan. I turned my electric flashlight on him and found his face averted, so rising and crossing to the other side of the cot–

Oh god don’t do that.

I again flashed the light to see if he seemed in any pain.

I SAID DON’T DO THAT.

What I saw unnerved me most surprisingly, considering its relative triviality.

THIS IS GONNA BE GOOD.

It must have been merely the association of any odd circumstance with the sinister nature of our location and mission, for surely the circumstance

GET ON WITH IT MAN.

was not itself frightful or unnatural.

What.

It was merely that my uncle’s facial expression, disturbed no doubt by the strange dreams which our situation prompted, betrayed considerable agitation, and seemed not at all characteristic of him. His habitual expression was one of kindly and well-bred calm, whereas now a variety of emotions seemed struggling within him.

Well that’s disappointing.

I think, on the whole, that it was this variety which chiefly disturbed me. My uncle, as he gasped and tossed in increasing perturbation and with eyes that had now started open, seemed not one but many men, and suggested a curious quality of alienage from himself.

Oh no.

All at once he commenced to mutter, and I did not like the look of his mouth and teeth as he spoke.

You’re going to kill your uncle with the flashlight, aren’t you? DON’T KILL YOUR UNCLE WITH THE FLASHLIGHT.

The words were at first indistinguishable, and then–with a tremendous start–I recognised something about them which filled with me icy fear

He’s speaking French, isn’t he?

till I recalled the breadth of my uncle’s education and the interminable translations he had made from anthropological and antiquarian articles in the Revue des Deux Mondes. For the venerable Elihu Whipple was muttering in French

OH GOD HE’S SPEAKING IN FRENCH KILL HIM WITH THE FLASHLIGHT KILL HIM WITH THE FLASHLIGHT

and the few phrases

WHAT WAS THAT NOISE

I could distinguish seemed

I THINK THAT WAS A CAT SCREAMING

connected with the darkest myths

WHAT WAS THAT NOISE THAT WAS A DIFFERENT NOISE

he had ever adapted from the famous Paris magazine

I AM LITERALLY GOING TO DIE SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THAT NOISE IS

Posted November 1, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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An odd conversation   Leave a comment

I left Harris Teeter today. I sat in my car, and then remembered that I had put my purse in my trunk. So I got out of my car and muttered to myself, “I always forget that I leave it in there.”

“You’re not talking to Martians, are you?”

There was one of the cart attendants standing nearby. He was an older gentleman, wearing a Harris Teeter shirt and a bright orange safety vest. His glasses hid the fact that his eyes were spread apart farther than is typical.

“No,” I said.

“We had one girl who swore the Martians were after her,” said the cart attendant. “She ended up throwing knives and screaming that the Martians were coming to get her. We couldn’t get her to stop.”

“Oh my goodness,” I said.

“It happened twice,” he said.

“Well I just mutter memos to myself,” I said. “Nothing to worry about.”

“Are you excited for the success sharing check? Of course, I suppose you probably won’t be taking part in it, you’re probably too new. And by the time you get to participate — March, I think — they’ll probably be discontinuing it anyway, because Kroger bought us.”

He was talking to fill air. It was 11:30 on a Tuesday morning and he probably had absolutely nothing to do. No carts to put away. No customers needing their trunks loaded. I was probably the first person he had seen in a while.

“Oh that’s a shame,” I said.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t worth much, depending on what you contribute. It was $50, before taxes. It’s a big disappointment.”

I wondered how relevant my experience with success sharing was. $50 gross was typical with Home Depot. James had said that he typically got more than $50, although I couldn’t remember the exact amount. Splitting the bill based on your position seemed both fair and unfair. The lower-earning unskilled workers probably get less than the higher-earning skilled positions. This didn’t seem like the sort of thing to bring up in a random conversation with a bored stranger, so I simply smiled and nodded to show my ignorance.

The conversation sort of petered out soon after that, and I was waved on my way. I turned on my car, gave him a wave, and drove off.

Martians after me indeed.

Sonny Visits the Vet (warning: some grossness ahead)   Leave a comment

Sonny is…okay, guys. Just okay.

He had a big poo today, and I had to give him a bath afterwards. He started acting odd as soon as the bath started. He made himself as wide as possible, and started drinking heavily (bearded dragons drink by sticking their head underwater and licking, but only in the bath). This is pretty typical, but he normally only does it for a minute. He did it for several minutes, until I finally splashed enough water on his face and back to get him to stop. Then he sort of floated, still as wide as possible. He wasn’t really playing like he normally does. I got paper towels and started wiping poo off his tail and foot, since he was being so weirdly calm.

After I got done, I threw the paper towels away and washed my hands. Then I turned and looked at him again, and noticed gray stuff around his mouth. Concerned that I may have dropped a towel in the bath (although I didn’t remember doing that), I picked him up and started wiping around his mouth.

Then he straight-up vomited crickets. Entire crickets.

I put him back in the tub and freaked out. James rushed in and started cleaning up, assuring me that everything was fine, he probably drank too much, etc etc. Combined with Sonny’s weird behavior, I knew something was wrong. I called the first exotic vet Google listed, made an appointment for 45 minutes later, and then picked up Sonny and left. James offered to come with me; I went back and forth on the issue and decided that I didn’t really need him, not even for moral support.

I found the vet alright. Funnily enough, the person in front of me also had a pet named Sonny, although that Sonny was a parrot of some sort. After the parrot was seen, my Sonny and I talked with the nurse. She weighed him (he’s 370 grams, on the lower end of average) and took an account of the last few hours, the feeding schedule, and Sonny’s tank setup (specifically lights and substrate — a heat lamp, UVB, and stone tile). Then she left.

A minute later, the doctor appeared. The doctor inspected Sonny, wiggling his limbs, poking at his belly, and trying to get Sonny to open his mouth. She asked me more questions about the feeding schedule and the events of the last few hours. She also asked if I had a temperature gauge gun. I said no.

The results of the visit are this:

Sonny is skinny for his weight. The nobs behind his eyes are sunken, his spine sticks up, the fat stores near his back legs are nearly gone. He is not being fed properly, and since we don’t know the temperatures in his cage, he might not be processing food correctly. Since I didn’t have a fecal sample, we couldn’t test for parasites. But it was most likely that, with the odd feeding schedule, he was probably impacted. I feed him too many crickets at once; he can’t process all of them; he doesn’t digest properly. Likely the big poo that prompted the bath was the body releasing the impaction. The stress of bathtime caused him to need to release his food the other way.

So I need to adjust his feeding schedule. Less crickets, more vegetables. I need to start measuring the temperature of his tank. I should start giving him a bath once/twice a week, to give him regular chances to poo. In a month, I should bring him back to the vet, to see if he’s gained any fat.

James and I are preparing to go to Petsmart to prepare for these changes. Actually I’m holding up the move. I will end the entry here. A less disgusting post next time, I promise!

Id possum tollere   Leave a comment

I’ve started on Chapter 6 of my Wheelock textbook, trying to relearn Latin. I’m focusing a lot more on the vocabulary this time around. It’s helping! I’ve never had difficulties understanding the grammar of foreign languages, but applying it practically has always been difficult, because vocab is hard. I drill myself a few days a week on it.

For Chapter 6 one of the vocab words was salvus, -i, and the definition given was safe, sound. This immediately put into my mind Capital City’s “Safe and Sound”.

I thought, Sumus salvus. I then began humming the ending of the song, which is basically “We’re safe and sound” over and over. They have the same amount of syllables, too. Suuuumus, sumus salvus — suuuuumus sumus salvus! Because I am a huge nerd. Then I tried translating the whole thing from the beginning, and then I got frustrated because I don’t know enough Latin grammar, basically.

I could lift you up Te possum tollere
I could show you what you want to see Te possum exhibere oh no I ran out of room
And take you where you want to be Et te word for take? It can’t be carpere, that is the figurative use of “take”, could it be “bring”? Is that in the subjunctive or is it ablative or what?

So I gave up and went back to studying Wheelock. But the first sentence took me a surprising amount of time. I couldn’t find a word that fit with “lift”. There isn’t a direct translation for the word, as with most English:Latin vocabulary. Latin is a very direct language. It doesn’t allow for much poetry. The first word I found that I sort of liked was “atollero”, and it took me forever to find proof that “tollere” was the same word (it has one less syllable). So the word stuck out in my mind.

So this morning I picked up my biography of Cicero. I read about the success of Marc Antony’s march on Mutina (he wanted the governorship of the Cisalpine province for strategic reasons, but Decimus Brutus already had the position, and anyway it was a big conflict between the people who wanted the Republic to stay unified and those who wanted it to have a stronger central command — an imperator or a dictator at its head). I came across this paragraph:

If the Consuls had survived and his strategy had succeeded, as it very nearly did, Cicero’s attitude towards Octavian would surely have been very different [Cicero had praised Octavian and pushed for honors and complacency towards the boy, hoping to appease him], for his usefulness to the Senate as its protector against Antony would have been at an end. In this connection it was most unfortunate that Octavian learned his “father’s” true intentions. Never one to avoid careless talk if a witty remark or a pun occurred to him, Cicero had observed that “the young man must get praises, honors–and the push.” The Latin is laudandum, ornandum, tollendum; the last word had a double meaning: to “exalt” and to “get rid of”. Towards the end of May, Decimus Brutus warned Cicero that someone had reported this joke to the young man, who had been unamused, commenting tersely that he had no intention of letting that happen.

I thought about how terrible of a Latin translator I am. And how weird of a coincidence it was that the word I had struggled over yesterday, tollere, turned out to be the central word in a pun by Cicero written two thousand years ago; and that I happened to have read that pun the day after I learned about the word. Then I thought how weird it was that Latin had a word that meant both “exalt” and “get rid of.” How often do those situations come up together?

The Adventures of Pizza Boy and Maggie: how I might end the play   Leave a comment

But Valedictorian manages to slip away. She runs away — nearly exits the stage — but runs into Emily, who is just entering. Valedictorian and Emily fall to the floor, both shouting in pain and trying to keep the other down. Maggie joins the fray, giving instructions to Emily, and somehow they all emerge with Maggie and Emily holding Valedictorian up by the shoulders and legs.

Valedictorian: Unhand me! (She continues to struggle, but Maggie and Emily are able to handle it)
Emily: So, do you get paid by the pizza company, or by the city government? I just feel uncomfortable with the idea of a private employee doing a public service.

Maggie and Emily both laugh.

Emily: I’m sorry I yelled at you.
Maggie: I’m sorry I lied to you.
Emily: Friends again?
Maggie: Friends ’til the end.

They start exiting, carrying Valedictorian offstage.

Emily: Birth to earth.
Maggie: Womb to tomb.
Emily: Sisters from another mister.
Maggie: Sisters from another hyster.
Emily: Haha!

Fin.

Stellapecunia and the start of carrot soup   Leave a comment

So the Starbucks at the Harris Teeter still hasn’t opened yet. They haven’t even broken ground. I’m going in every few days to a different Starbucks over in Durham. When I was given the store location, the store manager said, “But don’t worry. It’s near the border of Durham. It’s closer to Chapel Hill.”

I replied that I was new to the area and didn’t really know the geography of the area.

“It’s not in the Durham you’ve heard about,” he said. “It’s near the border. It’s practically Chapel Hill.”

I hadn’t heard anything about Durham at all. Apparently my confusion reached my face, because he said, “You don’t have to be nervous. It’s not really Durham at all.”

I hadn’t been nervous until he had said something.

I’ve only been once to this Starbucks at Harris Teeter. I worked an opening shift. The morning was extraordinarily slow — they usually get rushes of eight people at a time, but this time, there was just one rush, of four people. People came in ones and twos and there were long stretches of no one at all. We got to stand around and shoot the breeze a lot. The lead barista, Steve, has announced that he will completely retrain me in my espresso-machine-operating skills. I was trained to squirt the syrups into the cup, start the espresso, and then steam milk. Apparently he starts with the milk. I’m not sure what the difference is, but if that is the Harris Teeter way then I suppose I will learn it.

I don’t really mind taking my time with this training. They haven’t even broken ground yet on my Starbucks. A lot of my coworkers are getting assigned as cashiers just to get their hours. I suppose I should be more worried, about, like, my money, and stuff, but it still hasn’t really fizzled into my conscience that I make money to pay bills. Besides, I have a bit more time off, so I get to rest and focus on other things.

Like make new recipes! I’ve spent some time reading through various recipes on carrot curry soup, so I think I’ll head to the grocery store to get some ingredients. Last time I just made up a soup recipe after doing some consultation it worked out alright, so I’ll do it this way:

4 cups chicken broth
1 bag carrots (grated? baby? I’ll decide later!)
1 cup milk or sour cream or coconut milk or something
1 tbsp curry powder
Seasonings (I’ve seen ginger, cinnamon, and garlic all suggested)

I also felt sick this morning, and it just got worse and worse as the morning progressed, so I took an early lunch and stopped by Target to buy lunch and pain meds. I chatted it up with all my former coworkers, like Levy, Hunter, and Matt. Cheryl stopped me as I was leaving. She shops at the Harris Teeter where I’ll be working, and had talked with Angel, the hiring manager, about the Starbucks. She had found out from Angel that I’ll be working at the Starbucks there.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to tell anyone at Target that,” I said. “It seemed inappropriate to say, ‘Hey, Starbucks, I’m going to a different Starbucks.'”

“I’m glad you finished out your two weeks,” Cheryl said. Referencing a comment I had made about Ashley dropping Petsmart like a ton of bricks, she said, “We’ve had a lot of people just quit with no notice, and we had to scramble to cover their shifts, which you can’t really do, because no one here is trained in Starbucks.” She said it showed a lot of my character, and I got embarrassed and tried push the conversation on a different path. She said stuff like that a few more times, but I think her statements had more to do with her frustrations over the past several months. Lots of people have been quitting the Starbucks at Target; Manny, the lead, openly loathes his job, and Cheryl can tell his higher-ups all she wants about her frustrations with the job, but nothing gets done. I wasn’t the first person to quit Starbucks after just a short while, but at least I had the courtesy to treat my coworkers like human beings. I got the sense that Cheryl had talked to Angel because Cheryl wanted to get hired by Harris Teeter. Like me, she wants to try the same job with a different company.

People are more complicated than they appear on the surface. Manny appears to be a chill boss during the interview process; he avoids doing work. Cheryl openly rants about employee performance; she cares about your work and wants you to do better, and also she’s frustrated and needs to get it out.

Posted October 23, 2014 by agentksilver in Food, Personal

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This is what I do with Norepinephrin most of the time   Leave a comment

I walked three dogs today. The first dog was a wonderful dog, Hutch. I think Hutch is probably the first dog that I’ve ever done well at walking. He walked in a straight path, I scratched his back, and then we returned. Then I walked Clyde, then I was so exhausted from walking Clyde that I walked Friendly, who is a sweet and calm dog.

clyde

This is Clyde, dressed in his proper attire. His canine bio states that he is “good on a leash” which is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. Clyde pulls on the leash constantly. He also barks a lot. That second reason especially is why he’s the dog that’s been in the shelter the longest. One of the other volunteers told me that Clyde had already been out but that he needed “special enrichment” — basically, he needs to spend extra time away from dogs, with humans. He barks a lot because having other dogs stresses him out. He needed to be taken away from the other dogs and petted a bunch. That sounded like a good time to me.

Haha!

I spent about ten minutes nearly getting my arms pulled out from their sockets. So I started trying to pull him in the opposite direction he was yanking — not trying to get him to stay on a path, just trying to not get him what he wanted. Maybe if he got distracted by not getting what he wanted? Anyway, after like a minute it was obvious that wasn’t going to work, so I started planting in place whenever he yanked. If he pulled, we would stop walking. That actually worked? He learned very quickly that if I stopped, he should stop, and wait for me to move. Except that whenever I moved, he would try to run ahead, leading to me just stopping.

I returned sweaty about twenty minutes later. The other volunteer, tossing tennis balls for two dogs in the yard, asked me if I had petted him and given him the treat she had given me. I confessed that I had been too busy trying to get him to stop yanking to even pet him. “He needs a lot of one-on-one time.” She understood, and said that behavior like that was exactly why Clyde was on the “enrichment” list.

Once we were back in his kennel, Clyde suddenly decided that he needed some petting. I tried to get the collar off, but Wake County uses these ridiculous Martingale collars that are impossible to get on and off easily. The dogs always interpret my attempts to get the collars off as scritches. So Clyde thought I was trying to pet him, and he began jumping all over me, and then suddenly I was sitting on the ground and Clyde was laying on my lap, happy as a clam.

I realized that Clyde was overstimulated by all the other dogs, and massively undertrained. He was a good dog — he craved human contact and wanted to do good for us. He didn’t seem to hate other animals. He just…couldn’t handle everything. I felt sorry for him. I wondered what would happen if I walked him every day. Would it be like the fox in The Little Prince? If I walked him every day, would he like me best, and start behaving more, and calm down, because he had the same person walk him every day? Would I even be able to get to the animal shelter every day?

I pondered this as I walked Friendly, because she was such a good walker that I didn’t have to focus all my energy on her. What would even be the point, I thought, of walking the same dog every day? What was my end goal? How did I expect him to change? Was I here to save animals, or help them?

That was a strange question. Friendly and I walked up a side street and I watched as she pondered a tree. In my head, the conversation turned, abruptly, between Maggie and Emily. It was an extended conversation, since I had to justify to myself why Maggie and Emily would even be talking about dogs. Neither are particularly interested in animal welfare, unlike their creator. But saving people was a natural interest to Maggie.

Maggie: What’s the difference between saving and helping, anyway?
Emily: I don’t know. I think maybe saving is when you rescue people, but helping is when you get them to rescue themselves.

I hadn’t realized that Maggie and Emily represented my superego and my id. They’ve come so far since I came up with the characters as a junior in high school. They weren’t even friends when I came up with them. They ran in different circles. But now they’re inseparable in my head. I don’t want to hurt them. Maggie is smart, she always does the right thing. Emily always says the right thing, though.

I turned Friendly back towards the animal center. It wasn’t my job to save animals, I decided. I’m only here to help them.

Posted October 20, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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