Archive for November 2014

All was well   Leave a comment

Harris Teeter doesn’t have a whole lot of Starbucks hours to give, so I’m working less than I have been recently. Yesterday, for example, I got out of work while the sun was still up. I haven’t seen the sun a whole lot recently. It seemed like such a big thing. Once got home, I changed out of my work clothes, into some casual clothes, then put on some walking shoes and took a walk.

I spent most of the walk thinking just how amazing it was that I was able to take this walk. Then, after a while, I found myself thinking that this would be more fun with a dog. But for now, I should just be happy to walk. The peak of fall had already hit, so I was looking at a lot of bare trees. But the temperature was nice. The sun was making everything gold. Work had been thoroughly dull — they have so few hours available for Starbucks that I had spent the whole day training in Pizza. Once you get over the initial excitement of oh my gosh pizza!, the actual work of pizza is quite dull. As soon as you get one pizza out, you turn around, beat a new piece of dough into shape, spread the sauce, and sprinkle on the sauce and toppings, and then bake it and get it out. Repeat ad finitum. But my whole head felt clearer after just a 30-minute walk.

This morning, I was able to sleep in until 9:00. Actually, I didn’t even sleep that late. I spent the last hour just lying in bed thinking how nice it was that I didn’t have to get up if I didn’t want to. I’m closing the pizza bar tonight, so I don’t have to do anything until 2:00. Technically, James asked me to finish cleaning the kitchen, since he would only have a little time to attend to it before he had to leave for work. I had said I would. But that wasn’t, like, pressing.

I ate breakfast and read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for an hour and a half, before admitting to myself that it was now 11:30 and I really should get ready for the day. Once I did all that, I went and got all my schedules figured out and entered into my calendar and synched up to my phone.

I have Friday 5 off. I somehow got a random day off. James and I will be Christmas shopping that day. I was finally able to sign up for the ACT workkeys test that I need to finish applying to Wake County Schools. It’s, uh, tomorrow. My tests are tomorrow. Huh.

If all goes according to plan, I should be leaving for DC on the night of Thursday 11, and then I’ll leave either Sunday night or Monday, depending on how my work schedules line up.

I’m feeling good, guys.

Posted November 30, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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Razzle Dazzle ‘Em   Leave a comment

Song Reference if you haven’t seen Chicago

[MEDIA]
Who’s Mi-chael Brown?

[DARREN WILSON]
A Black Teenager.

[MEDIA]
Why’d you shoot him?

[DARREN WILSON]
We were fightin’.

[REPORTERS]
Was he angry?

[DARREN WILSON]
Like a monkey
Still I said, “Mike, move along.”

[GRAND JURY]
He hasn’t done anything wrong.

[MEDIA]
Then describe it.

[DARREN WILSON]
He ran toward me.

[MEDIA]
With the pistol?

[DARREN WILSON]
From my holster.

[MEDIA]
Did you fight him?

[DARREN WILSON]
Like a hero.

[TOM JACKSON]
Mike had strength and he had none.

[DARREN WILSON]
And yet we both reached for the gun
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes we both
Oh yes we both
Oh yes, we both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun
Oh yes, we both reached for the gun
For the gun.

[MEDIA]
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes they both
Oh yes, they both
Oh yes, they both reached for
The gun, the gun, the gun, the gun,
Oh yes, they both reached for the gun
for the gun.

[KKK]
Understandable, understandable
Yes it’s perfectly understandable
Comprehensible, Comprehensible
Not a bit reprehensible
It’s so defensible

[MEDIA]
How’re you feeling?

[DARREN WILSON]
Very frightened

[MEDIA]
Are you sorry?

[DARREN WILSON]
Are you kidding?

Posted November 29, 2014 by agentksilver in history

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Actual Thanksgiving Post   Leave a comment

James and I spent Thanksgiving with his aunt Lynette and her family: husband Jeff, kids Paul and Alicia, and granddaughter Aiyana. We showed up only about twenty minutes before dinner was served, so we sort of got right into the whole feasting thing right away. Unfortunately, Alicia wasn’t feeling well and was upstairs for most of the night.

Before we ate, we did the usual what-are-you-thankful-for thing. Jeff went first. I was sitting on Jeff’s right, and therefore assumed that I would go last. In my family, we pass everything to the left: dishes, responsibilities, etc. However, in this family, they pass to the right. So instead of having four people recite their gratitude before me, I was thrown on the spot before I could come up with a list, much less compose it into something nice. I sort of sputtered out something about how I was glad the economy was recovering, realized that sounded cold and political, and decided by saying that I was grateful for how supportive and understand James is while I’ve been getting on my own two feet, financially speaking. James in turn said that he was grateful for the opportunities he’s had at work this year (getting into the management training program), and that he was glad he finally got to have me around all the time. Apparently James’ family had been experiencing a lot of health issues this year; they were grateful to still have each other, and were hopeful for a better next year.

We asked Aiyana what she was grateful for. She stared at us over the apple she had started eating. We laughed.

Conversation flowed pretty well. James was pretty quiet, but he perked up after he drank some water. Obviously we all overate. I had made the decision this year to only have one piece of turkey, since I always regret having a second (I got the drumstick! They gave me the second drumstick to take home!) I had planned to, instead, have two helpings of all the side dishes I liked.

After dinner, James passed out on the couch. I stayed out of the way while Lynette and Jeff cleaned up. I sat with James on the couch and started drawing in my sketchbook. James put his arm around me and straight-up fell asleep, so that I couldn’t move. Eventually James woke up, and we headed out with leftover turkey and the cheesecake James had made, thanking Lynette and Jeff profusely for dinner.

When we got home, it was time for Christmas. James turned on his Pandora Christmas station: the first song of the Christmas season was Bing Crosby’s “Let it Snow”. All was well.

black friday is here

YES WE KNOW TARGET.

Posted November 28, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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tl;dr The new blankets and I have come to an understanding   Leave a comment

I am not very good at sleeping. Part of the reason James and I set out on this project of redecorating our bedroom is because our bed usually looks terrible. James needs one bedcover under a single sheet. He lays down, crosses his arms over himself like a mummy, and falls instantly to sleep. I kick the sheet off of me, and sleep in layers of blankets:

Layer 1: a thin, loosely-woven blanket directly over top of me, to let air in
Layer 2: a quilt, not very heavy but still has weight, over my upper half
Layer 3 (optional): a nice warm blanket for when I get cold (usually when I first go to bed and need to warm up, and when I wake up but still have an hour or so to sleep)
Layer 4 (optional): a small, heavy blanket for when I am really, really cold

So James’ side of the bed is always nice and neat, while my side is a tangled mess of random-looking blankets. I toss and turn for a while, sometimes using a heating pad to warm up just my stomach or feet.

James decided to spend part of his bonus check on new bedroom decor for us. We had finally settled on everything, and it all showed up while I was working a double shift on Wednesday.

blue and yellow striped bedset

James set it all up as a surprise for me. He rotated the mattress, bought new pillows and a mattress cover, washed all the new linens, and set it all up. It was apparently all worth it to see me jump up and down in excitement when I saw it. It was just so pretty!

We went to bed around 11:00, and I got frustrated around 4:30 because I was so hot and tired and unable to sleep. I had even tried pulling the sheet and quilt out from the edges of the bed and sticking my feet out to cool them off. I had tried a heating pad to lure me into relaxation. I stuck extra blankets on my shoulders. But the mattress pad seemed to absorb all the heat and turn everything into an oven. The new pillow was so fluffy that I couldn’t breathe if I lay on my belly, which is how I normally sleep. Nothing felt right.

Finally at 4:30 I took one my normal blankets and my HP Lovecraft book out into the living room (I’m in the middle of The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath, where the biggest thing to fear is all the blatant racism). I turned myself into a cocoon and read until I couldn’t hold my eyes open anymore.

At 5:30 James woke up to go to work. He woke me up from my spot on the couch. I’m not entirely sure what words were said. But when he got into the shower, I crawled into bed. I tossed the new blankets onto his side of the bed and put my small, thin blanket over top of me.

I felt cold, so I decided to pull the new blankets from James’ side of the bed back. I pulled them onto my shoulders. That was fine. I rolled onto my side and fell into a weird sort of sleep, because I was sleeping on my side. I woke up again and felt cold, so I pulled my heavy quilt over top of me and fell asleep again.

On my first day off in about five weeks, I got about five hours of light sleep. But I figured out how to make the new blankets work for me. They just can’t be my primary blankets, that’s all.

Posted November 27, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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Random thought of the day   Leave a comment

I had a random thought coming home. I recently reread Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art, a book about the philosophy and science of storytelling through comics. It’s told in graphic novel format, and it’s a really good read, if you’re interested in expression, art, or philosophy. Anyway, I specifically read the part about “closure.”

Even today, as I write and draw this panel, I have no guarantee that anything exists outside of what my five sense report to me. I’ve never been to Morocco, but I take it on faith that there is a Morocco!…All of us perceive the world as a whole through the experience of our senses. Yet our sense can only reveal a world that is fragmented and incomplete. Even the most widely travelled mind can only see so much of the world in the course of a life. Our perception of “reality” is an act of faith, based on mere fragments. As infants, we’re unable to commit that act of faith. If we can’t see it, hear it, smell it, taste it or touch it, it isn’t there! The game “Peek-A-Boo” plays on this idea. Gradually, we all learn that even though the sight of Mommy comes and goes, Mommy remains. This phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole has a name. It’s called closure.

…Comics panels fracture both time and space, offering a jagged, staccato rhythm of unconnected moments. But closure allows us to connect these moments and mentally construct a continuous, unified reality.

…Every act committed to paper by the comics artist is aided and abetted by a silent accomplice. An equal partner in crime known as The Reader. I may have drawn an axe being raised in this example, but I’m not the one who let it drop or decided how hard the blow, or who screamed, or why. That, dear reader, was your special crime, each of you committing it in your own style.

*

This particular part about closure blows my mind every time I read this book. I found myself pondering it on my way home from Petsmart today. I parked, got out of my car, walked up to my front door, put my keys in the lock, turn the key/lock, opened the door, walked inside, and closed the door. I then wondered how much of that sequence would I need to show, in, say, a comic, for a reader to understand what I was doing. My exact thought was “how much would a movie show?” which was not at all in the mood of where I learned this concept, but whatever. It’s what I thought.

Driving–>hand on car doorhandle–>open car door–>step out of car–>car door close–>walk up front walk–>keys out–>key in lock–>turn key/lock–>open door–>–>retrieve keys (an easy step to miss)–>step into doorway–>close door

driving–>car door close–>walk up front walk–>key in lock–>open door–>step into doorway–>close door

Okay, but can I make it shorter?

driving–>walk up front walk–>step into doorway–>close door

What is the shortest I can make this without completely losing the meaning?

driving–>step into doorway

?????

*McCloud, Scott, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, pg 61-68, HarperCollins, New York: NY, 1993

Posted November 25, 2014 by agentksilver in animation

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Now I know   Leave a comment

I’ve been trying for a week, and I finally got in touch with someone about taking ACT courses (in order to qualify for a teacher assistant position). I have to sign up on a specific website. There’s three mandatory tests that I have to take:

Applied Math
Reading for Information
Locating Information

These tests are each $10 and take 55 minutes to complete. I can also take a fourth test, Business Writing, which costs $20 and takes 35 minutes to complete.

Time-wise, that seems really steep. The first three tests clock in at $1/5.5 minutes. Business Writing is $1/1.75 minutes (100 seconds). But it’s also the shortest test. According to the woman I spoke with, if I pass all four tests, I get a certificate from the governor. I’m not sure what the certificate is for. But it’s from the governor. Wait, who is the governor of North Carolina?

This guy. Pat McCrory.

Posted November 24, 2014 by agentksilver in teaching

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Sorry   Leave a comment

On Saturday, I did some volunteer work for Wake County Animal Shelter. My plan had been to go to Southpoint Mall afterwards, eat lunch, and wander around the mall looking at different bedding options. As I was driving back towards the West side of Raleigh, I got a phone call from my boss at Harris Teeter. Apparently another Harris Teeter needed someone to close that night. So I agreed to take the shift, although I gave myself some time to grab some lunch, eat the lunch, and change clothes.

James got home around 4:30. I wasn’t home, but as I had told him I intended to go to the mall after volunteering, he didn’t worry. He sat and vegged on his computer for a while. Around 7:00, he realized that I still wasn’t home, and gave me a call. My phone rang, lonely in my car, and the call went to voicemail. He contemplated what to do next; he decided that if I hadn’t contacted him 9:00, then he would start contacting my family to see if they knew anything was up. I called him at 8:30 and explained what happened. He was extremely relieved.

We went out to dinner, to a local burger chain, where he ate a burger and I ate hot wings and a salad. We mostly discussed an exam he had to take for his managerial training program. But it felt like a date night. We were out and about, there was good conversation, we were silly with each other.

At home, we snuggled together on the couch and flipped through pictures of comforters together. We discussed our future. We discussed our visions of home. We were warm and happy. He had worried about me. But now we were just together. There was nothing easier in all the world.

Posted November 24, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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Ghost Hunters: this was supposed to be a twist but whatever, Andy discovers what Eva is   Leave a comment

As an atheist, Andy sincerely believed that nothing came after death. She had found comfort in it, in fact. When one died, there was no more worry about earthly problems; all your affairs were in order, whether you had planned it that way or not. You literally could not be bothered anymore. It took Andy a while to realize that she was even dead. She felt herself float in darkness and confusion. If there was life after death, was this it?

It was strange, not feeling anything. She couldn’t blink her eyes. She couldn’t feel her hair, or her skin. There was nothing around her.

But if she was nothing, then what was there?

She was welcome, wherever she was.

Ah, but there was a set of scales before her. What were the scales for? Did they weigh your deeds, put your evil ones on one side and your good deeds on another?

She knew that one side was filled with the people you had loved when you were alive. The other side was filled with the people you hated. If you loved more than you hated, you got to move on. Move on where?

That was yet to be decided. She had not been weighed.

She saw, then, her grandmother stand before the scales. She had just died. Eight years ago was now. There was no time here.

Her grandmother’s scales were tipped towards love. Her grandmother’s entire family (include Andy? How was she there?) stood there, as well as several friends; dozens, hundreds of people she did not recognize. There were only a few people on the hate side, people Andy did not recognize. Andy’s grandmother disappeared.

But what happened if someone hated?

Before the scales were Adolf Hitler. Only a few people stood on the Love side, people Andy did not recognize. But the Hate scale was weighed down by the millions, more than six million, more than eight million. How many?

Racism caused that. To hate a race was to hate millions.

But to love — Andy saw Mother Theresa before the scales, and all the children she had loved weighed down the scales. Mother Theresa disappeared.

What about a child? And she saw a child of about nine, skinny and sickly. Not a lot of people were on the scales, but the child had loved more than hated. Was that any child? Was any child born loving?

Andy saw a child of about three crying before an empty set of scales. No, in order to love, someone must learn to forgive. This child was too small to learn to forgive. And so the child cried.

But the child’s grandfather appeared. He lifted the child up and claimed the child as his. The two of them disappeared. The grandfather was capable of love, and so truly loved the child.

But Nathan Bedford Forrest stood before the scales, and though he had been loved, the power of all he had hated — all the people different from him — so outweighed the many he had loved, that he was not chosen.

Could an adult’s grown soul be empty?

Andy looked and saw Eva before the scales.

Andy and Eva looked at the scales.

The scales remained empty. They waited, but nothing appeared.

Eva had to be sent back. Andy knew that this was the cause of ghosts. Eva was going to become a ghost. But then Eva was called back, by the hospital, by the emergency room doctors, who were working desperately to save her life. Eva had to go back, but she had been measured. Her worth was nothing. She was an empty soul.

This was why the ghosts responded so well to her. She was one of them, although she hauled a body around over top of her soul.

Andy called to Eva, in this timeless nothing. But Eva couldn’t, or wouldn’t, or didn’t, hear her. Eva went back.

Andy yelled, but there was nothing in this existence. She screamed. She felt. The scales were before her — she saw all the people she loved, her parents, her brother, Claire, her grandmother, Liz, Sarah, Michael, all the nurses who worked her shift, a few girls she remembered from college, that barista, that waiter, how were they there? She saw the three people she hated, the three girls who had bullied her mercilessly in fifth grade — she had been weighed and she could move on, she could feel herself being pulled.

She yelled for Eva again. She need Eva to know. Eva had to know that her emptiness could be fixed, she could be saved, she could move on, if only she learned to love, if she learned to forgive, if she opened her heart and showed it to someone else —

Andy’s eyes blinked. Slowly her vision cleared. She found herself focusing on a chart in front of her. It was a white board. Instructions for nurses on it. To her right, a wall, a door. To her left, a curtain partition. She was in a hospital. She felt as fluffy as a cotton ball, and wondered if she was high on morphine right now. She didn’t remember anything, really, except that Eva was in trouble.

Andy had been brought back to save Eva.

Posted November 22, 2014 by agentksilver in writing

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I haven’t volunteered in a while, so I was super excited to start again   1 comment

I have to be honest: I fall a little in love with every single dog that I walk.

I started out my dog walking with an expectant mama dog, Jessica Rabbit.

jessica rabbit in a hat

I took her out for her third walk of the day. I felt bad for her, what with being pregnant in an animal shelter and everything. She was a well-behaved dog, eager for treats but not particularly excited about humans. I was able to get the collar on her without wrestling her, and she walked nicely, not pulling on the leash or anything.

The next was a handsome boy named Stewie.

It made me think of Stewie Griffin, but Stewie was also a very well-behaved dog, although he was excited enough about the walk that I had to wrestle the collar onto him. Since he was such a big boy, I was nervous about him pulling, but he only pulled a bit and calmed down a bunch as soon as we were outside and he was able to relieve himself. He still pulled after that, but not as violently.

The next dog was honestly my favorite dog out of the whole bunch, Lil Eddie.

His bio says that he “walks well on a leash” which is a half-lie. I’ve seen worse. But Stewie and Jessica were such good walkers that Eddie was stinker by comparison. But Eddie charmed me. He was clearly going to be more difficult than the previous two dogs, so I held out my hand for him to sniff — and he put his paw in it.

Eddie knows Shake.

Eddie also tried to pick fights with dogs in the kennels he passed. But away from dogs, away from the shelter, when it was just us and the outside, Eddie was great. He didn’t pull during the walk, but he would just randomly stop. He would look at me to make sure that I was seeing what he sniffed (I didn’t), and then, when I didn’t react, he would take off. I decided to see what other tricks he knew. He seemed to only know Sit and Shake, but he was absolutely delighted to be asked and leaned against me. I was completely charmed.

The next dog was Roscoe.

I was nervous even going into Roscoe’s cage. He kept jumping against the door. I tried to distract him with a treat, just as I do the other dogs, to get him away from the door so I can go inside. He would go for the treat, but as soon as he heard the rattle of the door lock, he would run back to the door and jump on it. There were three uneaten treats on the other side of his kennel, and he was more interested in the door? Finally I just did my best to slip in. He didn’t even try to escape. Apparently he was really excited that I was there.

Roscoe jumped all over me. It took me a while to slip the collar over his head. I then started stroking his back and whispering shhhhh at him, hoping to calm him down. And he did calm down! So I reached over to adjust the collar to fit. That is how I discovered that he was chewing on the collar. As soon as I got the collar out of his mouth, he began jumping all over me, almost knocking me down. I felt a sudden pain on my cheek, and felt it go hot — he scratched me!

I got the collar off of him and got out of his kennel as soon as I could. I took out my phone and checked my face with the camera. There were three hot pink welts across my cheek.

Face scratch
(sorry for the weird hipster angle. my webcam is terrible at picking up details like thin scratches on the cheek, this was the best I could do)

I decided, after a moment of thinking, that Roscoe had just been over-excited. There was no malice in his scratching. However, he was clearly too much dog for me, and even though he clearly needed a walk, I decided not to go back and try to walk him.

I chose the next dog simply because there was a ribbon for Best Leash Walking in her portfolio.

Novia was a great dog with a sad face. Not too much in the way of personality. More than anything she seemed insecure. She kept stopping and looking at me like she expected me to validate her or something. She was, indeed, great on a leash. I had no problem getting the collar and leash on and off. Just because she was so easy after the Roscoe fiasco, I gave her extra treats.

Lambeau was my second-favorite dog. There are a few dogs who interpret leashes as tug-of-war ropes.

IMG_20141119_192718_653IMG_20141119_192657_312
IMG_20141119_192733_664 I will never stop a dog from playing with a toy. Especially not a shelter dog, who gets so little playtime anyway. Lambeau and I had a blast playing tug-of-war with a leash in the parking lot. Whenever James and I are finally able to get a dog, I am going to tell the matchmaker volunteer that I want a dog that likes tug-of-war. Lambeau knows. Tug-of-war is life.

Posted November 20, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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Sam Bellamy the Pirate Mouse   4 comments

What happened on November 6 is this:

I hadn’t cleaned Sam’s cage in a week, so it was high time to do so. The first thing that I always do is move Sam to a small critter carrier so he can’t run away. He usually puts up a fight, since he hates getting picked up. But this time, I found him just lying next to his chew tunnel. He didn’t move when I touched him. And he felt cold. So I immediately called the exotic animal vet and set up an appointment for within the hour. I then gathered up Sam and left.

I knew Sam was still alive because I heard him move a little bit on the drive over. He shifted a little bit. My heart was pounding in my chest and I was stopping myself from crying. I kept saying things out loud to him about how it would be okay.

Last time I had arrived at the vet, Sonny and I had had to wait for about 20 minutes, even though I called them and made an appointment for ASAP, just like now. That hadn’t been weird. But this time, as soon as I walked in, they immediately took Sam to the back. The nurse at the front desk asked me twice if I wanted water. I was shown into an exam room as soon as they had one available. That, more than anything else, told me how close to the end of the line Sam was. I was asked again if I wanted water.

Pretty soon the doctor walked into the exam room. Sam had a tumor, a big one, and it was causing him a lot of pain, and they could treat it, but it would be painful to treat, and it might not really be effective. I nodded. I said that I thought that was what she would say. She asked how he had been acting the last few days. I said that I hadn’t really looked at him on November 5 — I had worked at Petsmart, then got sick and went straight to bed — but that on November 4, he had been crawling up and down the sides of his cage and demanding Cheerios as usual. I said that I had noticed that he looked a little bigger than usual but just figured that he was fat. The vet nodded and said that animals did a really good job of hiding weakness.

I agreed to euthanize Sam.

“Do you want to say goodbye to him?” she asked.

I said yes.

Sam was brought in on a heating pad. He was completely still. He looked terrible, especially since he was lying right-side up, showing his sewn-up eye. I wondered if the tumor had been the cause of his mysterious hair loss I had noticed a few months ago.

He was too far gone to stop me from finally touching his tiny baby paws and his cute ears. I ran my finger down the length of his tail. It didn’t flick like it normally did. He didn’t care what touched him. His spirit was already gone. That was when I started crying. I may have already been crying, but that was when I started crying hard.

After a while I calmed down and when the vet came back in, I said that it was time. I agreed to be there when they put him down.

Sam fought for a bit. But he lay there and slowly finished dying. I told him what a brave little pirate mouse he was. I told the vet how he lost his eye. I told the vet about how he fought Moby over Christmas.

Sam didn’t live for very long, but he had lived an exciting life anyway.

Posted November 20, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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