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10 January 2020 @ 03:42 pm

Hey, gang! Welcome to my weird little corner of cyberspace.

I love meeting new friends, so I hope you'll introduce yourself. You're welcome to comment or lurk as you please, but most of my posts are friends-locked, so you won't see much in this journal unless you add. (All posts over 30 days old will be locked) Even if you don't feel like introducing yourself, I'm happy to add you back. You can learn a little more about me on my profile.

If I've added you, it's because we've got a few things in common or you said something mindblowingly wise in a friend's journal and I wanted to get to know you better. I hope you'll add back, but if you don't after a couple weeks, I'll take the hint and bugger off.

Pleased to meet you!
18 June 2016 @ 09:56 am
We did it! After several failed attempts to collaborate on comic books (where I write & Alan draws), Alan & I finally found an art form where we can both create together. =D We're making fun YouTube movies with me as the writer/director and Alan as the camera/editor.

They take forever to make, even with 2 people with complementary skill sets. Even so, we set ourselves a high-paced goal to force us to learn how to crank through the basics faster. (Alan can be a bit of perfectionist and spend too much time on minutiae, so I thought a NANOWRIMO-style speed run would be beneficial.) We're making & posting a video every week for an entire year and we're about six weeks in. You can find all our videos at ♥ MightyMayhem.com. Thanks for watching! ^_^

Here's one of my favorites:

28 April 2016 @ 08:27 am
I got a sad letter in the mail yesterday. My address on the front was a sticker rather than hand-written--I used to send a sheet of return address stickers to online friends so it’s easier to write to me. A tiny envelope so thin I could tell it only contained a small piece of stationary.

I recognized the return address and the last name as one of my best internet friends, Evelyn Jenkins AKA aveline_rei. But the first name wasn’t “Evelyn” on the return address. I suspected it was probably her mom’s name. This feeling of dread and premonition washed over me. This wasn’t a letter from Evelyn; her letters were always at least 5 pages, more typically 10+. She’d write these lovely long letters that read like a rambling conversation between friends. This skinny envelope couldn’t possibly be from her.

I knew. She’s gone.

I ignored the envelope on the counter for a long time, because I knew what it said. But finally I screwed up my courage to confirm. Her mom was writing to me because she knew Evelyn and I were friends. She wanted me to know what Evelyn passed away on November 29, 2015. I’m glad she told me.

Rest in peace, Evelyn. I knew you for 15 years--longer than any other friend besides Alan himself. I love you, and I take comfort knowing that you knew I loved you. I’ve never lost someone close to me before, certainly not someone so young. Selfishly, I want one more letter from you. We weren’t done yet, were we? I wanted to stay in touch until we were old. And we could look back and say, “It’s crazy how long we’ve known each other. Remember when we were stupid kids? Look how far we’ve come.”

I miss you, wonderful friend. I know we’ll meet again.
09 December 2015 @ 07:28 am
Holy smokes! It's like the end of days outside. Hail the size of peanut M&Ms raining down from the sky and thunder & lightning like crazy. @_@ I've never seen hail this huge before, but it doesn't even feel cold outside. Alan and I opened our front door to watch the hail and all these enormous hail chunks bounced into the house like they were invited. While we watched a bolt of lightning slammed down across the street, so close the thunder was simultaneous.

My poor tabby cat is TERRIFIED of thunder and promptly wedged herself into our closet (the closest place to the center of our house.) I feel terrible leaving her at home while I go off to work. I know she's going to be exhausted from fear by the end of today. Poor kitty. ={

Finally turned in my final report and made my final oral presentation for my marketing class last night. Scraping off those last bits of unnecessary stress. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and I find out there's some other huge task I need to do that I've been overlooking or putting off. I've been so overscheduled and burned out lately, it's like a stress dream that lasts for years. @_@ Now that I've got a little down time, I hardly know what to do with myself. (Besides blogging again, of course!)

How do you handle a sudden break in the storm when you've been stressed for months and it finally ends? What do you do for relaxation and down time when you've kind of forgotten what that is? ^^;;
05 December 2015 @ 12:04 pm
Back when I was about 12, I played this educational game called "Oregon Trail" where you get to set the pace at which your wagon train travels west. I invariably chose "grueling" for the pace and chuckled as most of my family died of dysentery on the journey. Now I'm learning that even as an adult, I still tend to set a grueling pace for myself when I've set a goal. It's just not as amusing as I remember. (But at least there's less dysentery!)

I just finished a grueling pace of self-study to become an Enrolled Agent (EA)--an IRS certification that basically says you know tax law forward and backwards and grants you authority to have power of attorney in tax-related matters.

Why do this? The usual way to climb the corporate ladder is work experience, but I've only got 2 years down, and I don't want to suffer through years of bad management and menial work when I'm ambitious and hard-working enough to have a good job now. So I keep gulping down education at a miserable pace, hoping that I can compensate for my lack of experience with an overabundance of certifications.

When I learned that the CPA firm where I want to work insists on a year of tax experience, I thought, "Crap! Too late for that this year." So I signed up for the 3 exams I've gotta pass to become an EA, each a month apart so I could be sure to finish all 3 by the end of the year--in time for tax season. Maybe they'll consider hiring me if I've got this valuable certification instead of experience. (There aren't many EAs in the whole country, so it's a pretty rare and valuable notch on one's belt.)

I can say without exaggeration that this was the hardest thing I've ever done. People usually become EAs after they've already done tax preparation for a few years and they're ready to take their career to the next level. So I'm learning every nitpicky detail of the law from scratch instead of supplementing prior knowledge. They also recommend studying 12 weeks for each exam, so of course [sarcasm]this genius[/sarcasm] decides to only give himself 4 weeks for each. I knew it was going to be hard when I signed myself up, but I figured, "Hey, I'm pretty smart and I'm good at taking tests. I've got this." Then I cracked the text book and it was SOOOO much harder than my worst-case scenario. Then I sat for the actual exam and it was SOOO much harder than I'd imagined that would be, either. Oh, gawwww that was awful. ~_~

And the punchline is that the CPA firm where I wanted to work was very impressed I was able to pull it off so fast, but they're not hiring any new staff this year after all. Ah, well. After a few months of 60-hour weeks (working full time, taking a night class, AND studying for the next beast of an exam), I'm kind of happy just to y'know... not be working all the damn time.

Right now I'm still working full-time, but it feels like I'm on vacation just because I'm not whipping myself over tax law books every night. @_@ Feels pretty awesome to have some margins in my life again. I really missed having a sex life, and time to blog. <3

Mom's not doing too great. She broke her hip a few months back, and I guess the repair job they did wasn't ideal. A bolt was still sticking out and digging into her flesh, so they'd have to re-do the surgery. In the meantime, she took another fall and broke the other hip. ~_~ So she's had double-hip replacement surgery. She's doing surprisingly well, and able to walk (with the aid of a walker). My folks are still hoping to be able to visit for Christmas, but we're playing it by ear.

How have you all been holding up this holiday season? Any new developments?
31 December 2014 @ 07:16 pm
Highlights from Episode 2 (Make by Alan and Nolan): Iris ponders memories of a robot taking a missile to the groin and later receives an unexpected visit from the Sasquatch...

29 December 2014 @ 08:49 am
I’m still on hiatus from writing novels, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing in all its forms. ;) After years of creating our own art independently, Alan and I finally found a collaborative art form we can enjoy together—movie-making! I direct and write the scripts and Alan does the camera work, lighting, and editing. It really plays to both our strengths—I’ve been in dozens of plays and have a flair for the dramatic, while Alan’s experience drawing comics translates very well to framing camera shots creatively and his Photoshop experience translates perfectly to movie editing software. The best part is that it doesn’t feel like the “main art form” for either of us, so we can relax and just play creatively. (Whereas, I put so much pressure on myself with novels and Alan puts too much pressure on himself with his comics, it feels like work.)

The video has its rough spots, but it’s not bad for a first attempt. If nothing else, you can see what Alan and I look and sound like IRL. ;) Take a peek at our wacky opening credits sequence at least. hehe

In Reviewed for Two, secret agent Drake and bigfoot-hunter Iris help viewers find the best two-player board games. This knowledge could save your life in the upcoming robot apocalypse!

Episode 01: The Jason Bourn-like agent Drake waits endlessly for his government HQ to phone in with his latest orders. While he waits, he and Iris review Jaipur--a resource-trading merchant game set in India.

Enjoy! ”VideoCollapse )
I’m in the habit of watching movies or reading books loooong after everyone else has discovered it. For instance, I watched online fandom explode over Harry Potter for years, but never read the books myself until the last book was released. I read the entire series back-to-back, but when I tried to chat up folks I knew were HP fans, they usually couldn’t remember the details I wanted to discuss—it had been too long since their last reading. (I also felt discouraged from writing fanfiction because surely anything worth exploring about the canon had already been written a dozen times already.) Continuing this tradition, I’ve finally watched a few shows that my friends have already discovered and dissected.

First up: Frozen. I had no idea how iconic this show had become. Apparently everyone and her sister has seen this movie, but it passed me by completely. I liked the movie, but I couldn’t say I loved it. I can see why some would complain that “nothing happens” in this movie. Similar to The Lion King, there’s a lot of activity in the movie, but not a lot of forward motion. There’s a big insurmountable problem, but no one really gets closer to fixing it as the story progresses. It’s mostly characters fretting and chasing each other around until the final climax.

I wish I’d been more involved in online communities when this came out so I could see others’ interpretations of what Icy McGee’s unfortunate powers symbolize. A friend says it’s been interpreted as an analogy for mental illness. From my perspective, the “conceal it; don’t feel it” mantra reminded me of LGBT persecution; particularly the “T”. It felt familiar and accurate enough to send an icy shiver down my spine.
My favorite aspect of this movie is probably this metaphor’s potent potential, as well as the relationship between sisters (Holy crow!—sibling intimacy instead of romantic… and both women!) The snowman singing about looking forward to summer cracked me up, but I probably wouldn’t watch this one again.

Instead, the CG kid’s movie that grabbed me by surprise was Rise of the Guardians. I was prepared to dislike this one, but it was surprisingly heartfelt and thought-provoking. I also thought the graphics were far more beautiful than in Frozen where some of the background characters looked cardboard and the protagonists looked doll-like.

I was prepared to hate the Jack Frost character as a token heartthrob, and to wrinkle my nose at the holiday motif, but all the characters felt well-developed, likeable, and 3-dimensional. I really got the sense that these characters existed before the story picks up and they’ll continue to exist afterwards. This is a sense of depth I don’t get from a lot of kids’ movies where the characters don’t really seem to be “born” until the story starts (all characters meeting for the first time, have no sense of prior history or relationships with each other) and don’t seem to have anything interesting to do after their Happily Ever After.

I enjoyed The Man in the Moon as the silent, guiding hand and interpreted him as a metaphor for my benevolent God. Jack shaking his fist at the heavens and demanding answers from the Man in the Moon felt appropriate to the complexities and disappointments of real faith. It’s not simple, easy, or obvious.

I really appreciated the theme of identifying one’s “core”—your unique purpose and role in life based on your natural personality type. Plenty of kid’s movies have whimsical action and adventure, but not many inspire such deep introspection. I’m sick to death of most kids’ movies messages like “follow your dreams” and “the power was in your heart all along.” The first seems unhelpfully obvious (what else are we to do?) and the second strikes me as outright destructive. Any endeavor that’s worthy and life-changing is likely to be difficult. Difficulty requires grit, discipline, and hard fucking work. Passivity and reliance on one’s inherent goodness accomplishes nothing, yet a hundred cliché moments of a mentor pointing to the hero’s chest keep suggesting otherwise.

One’s inherent goodness is worth questioning instead of assuming, I think. Even murderous scumbags like Aparteid leaders and Kim Jong-un probably fancy themselves as good guys at heart. That’s why I appreciated the character growth in Thor where he starts out as an arrogant war-mongering prick and ends up learning some maturity and humility on the road to becoming a hero. I realize that a timely montage is a good way to keep a movie’s pace going, but it’s worth showing the character struggling, sweating, and suffering through her training instead of breezing through it. It might set children up for more realistic expectations when they try to start learning guitar or exercising and realize, “Hey! This is hard! It might make my body hurt and take months of training to get any good at this.” D=

Whoops. Tangent there. Anyway, I appreciate a movie that doesn’t dumb down its themes for kids. One protagonist identifies his core as “wonder”—a delightfully complex idea for kids to get their heads around, but also really important. One of the things I dislike most about modern American culture is its contempt for wonderment in adults. “Keep your feet on the ground.” “If it can’t be explained by modern science, it doesn’t exist.” “Enthusiasm and wonderment is embarrassing. You look silly if you express it too much.” Barf. You can keep your reality TV and office gossip; I’ll keep on dreaming and taking delight in the little things, thankyaverymuch.
Hugh Jackman was an amazing Easter Bunny and I liked that he was able to use his natural Aussie accent. Really, all the characters were delightful. I liked this movie so much, I would definitely watch it again, maybe buy it.

What was your take on these movies? (I’ve only see each movie once, so I’m sure there’s a lot I missed.) What else are you watching and enjoying these days? I’d love some recommendations.
Current Mood: weary
21 May 2014 @ 09:38 am
I took a women-only self-defense class last night and really enjoyed it. Holy crap, all my natural instincts would not have served me well. I enjoy a mixed martial arts class with lots of boxing moves as exercise, so if I was fighting to defend myself, I'd reflexively default to throwing jabs, with my fist/knuckles going straight forward. Turns out, this is a fast way to break your hand. Boxers wear chunky gloves to protect their own hands--the gloves provide very little padding/protection for the person you're actually hitting.

So if you're in a tough situation, don't jab--hammer fist. That's where you make a fist and use the side of your hand like you would if you were pounding hard on a wall. It doesn't hurt your hand and you can get a lot of force behind it. Then pound on your attacker's clavicle. It only takes about 8 pounds of pressure to break it (easy), and as soon as a person's collarbone is broken, their entire arm on that side is useless. There's also lots of other great places to strike--the nose, the fragile bones on the back of the hand, the knee. Going for the eyes with your fingers is always a good choice. I think most women (including me) think going for the groin would be wise, but men also know how to reflexively guard their groins. Other strike areas are more vulnerable and they won't see it coming to guard against it.

If I threw a kick to defend myself, I probably would have used a low roundhouse, using the top of my foot as the point of impact. Again, that's a great way to break your foot. Turns out it's better to use your shin, knee, or heel/side of the foot (including for the popular groin shot.)

There were tons of useful tips that seems obvious in hindsight, but I definitely wouldn't have known it without this class. Tactics that attackers use to lure people, awareness of your surroundings and making eye contact as a way to avoid attack in the first place, the times and locations you're most likely to be attacked (in your own home in the morning, not in a dark alley at night.) I'm glad I didn't rely on myself "knowing enough"; professional training makes me feel much more prepared.

I also recently took a thorough trauma/AED/first aid/CPR class taught by paramedics from the local fire department. I had a vague idea of how to perform first aid in a crisis, but if someone had a sucking wound or was having a heart attack in front of me, I couldn't honestly say I'd know what to do. I'd try to help, but I'd be only marginally useful. Throughout the class, I had a dawning sense of, "Oh, that's what you do!"

Anyway, I wanted to throw out a pitch for taking an advanced first aid class or functional self-defense class. One afternoon's training could save your life--or someone else's. ("The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war" and all that.) I feel more personally enriched and helpful to society already. If you get a chance, I hope you'll consider it.
10 May 2014 @ 08:13 am
Isn't it weird when you have all these strong opinions about what's important and what you want, but then when you actually arrive there, you realize it's not what you wanted at all? "Yay! I got just what I wanted! ...Now how do I get rid of it?"

Before I ever started dating, I had these ideas about what I would want in a potential partner. I thought intelligence was more important than a sense of humor, for instance. Or that having compatible hobbies and interests was more important than compatible morality and world view. (In the end, I found a diamond in the rough who scores a 10/10 in all these categories, but the people I dated before that showed me my priorities were mistaken.)

Or in work, I thought skating by with the least amount of work would be the greatest. Turns out the work day flies by faster if I stay busy and I gain more pleasure in my work when I see how much I've accomplished. I thought I wouldn't care about my coworkers as long as I enjoyed my job; now I realize it's impossible to enjoy my job if I have terrible toxic coworkers. (And the opposite is also true--a truly awful job can be tolerable and even fun if you've got a kickass group of coworkers.) I thought a manager who was totally hands-off and left me alone would be awesome, but now I realize that's just a sign that she doesn't give a crap about me or what I'm doing, and that's more discouraging (though less aggravating) than micro-management.

What are things in life that caught you by surprise? (What you thought was horrible was actually wonderful; what you thought would be great turned out to be awful) Did you have to actually live it out to find out your preliminary guess was wrong? Or did you figure it out by watching other people's mistakes and changing with time?