Remember when I used to blog?

Life has been…different, lately. And very busy. I don’t know that I’m actually doing a whole lot, but it sure feels like I’m spending every moment on something. It occurred to me that it’s been awhile since I actually blogged, so I thought I’d put down some sort of update.

There are several new people in my life, friends I’ve made through the Welcome to Night Vale fandom and through Sean. It has been so wonderful getting to know them and sharing things with them. I’ve been doing a lot more chatting recently than I had for years. I’d really missed it. So many of my new friends are artists or writers, so we’ve been inspiring each other to create fanworks, and it’s been so much fun.

My online life has sort of shifted; I used to spend a lot of time on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, but now I hardly ever look at those two sites. I’m enjoying the chatting a lot more—it’s more personal, and it’s with people I care a lot about. (Sometimes on social media I get a bunch of updates from acquaintances and barely anything from my closest friends.)

I have a trip coming up soon; I’m going to New York City! I’ve only been once before, during Sean and my visit to New York state in 2011 (which I never finished writing up, alas). I’m really excited to see the city properly. I’m going to a Broadway musical, even! But the best part is that I’m going to meet someone very special in person for the first time. :)

I went home to visit my family over Labor Day weekend. It was nice. I didn’t feel like doing much, so I hung out in the office with Mom most of the time. On Sunday, the day before I left, we had a cookout, and AJ let Connor and Logan invite a bunch of their friends. Mom and Dad’s yard was filled with teen and pre-teen boys, swimming, playing horseshoes, tossing beanbags, and helping with the grill. It was amazing. Eventually we all sat down to eat wherever we could find a spot and one of Logan’s friends, Cade, entertained us with jokes. Then he and Logan challenged each other to eat various food items with lemon juice squirted all over them. It was funny.

Ben had no idea I was visiting, so I didn’t see him at all. Gah. Next time I will be sure to tell him myself that I am coming!

My daily writing challenge has kind of faltered. Some days I have been too mentally exhausted to write. Some days I just haven’t been in the right headspace. I’m still trying to write regularly, but it seems like every day isn’t sustainable. I’m trying not to beat myself up over it, and instead to enjoy the writing I’m doing.

So far the vast majority of my writing has been fanworks. I’m trying not to feel bad about this, either. For some reason I feel like I should be writing original stuff, like the work I’ve done isn’t “real.” But people have enjoyed what I’ve written, and I’ve enjoyed writing it. There’s value to it. I’m trying to break out of the “if it can’t make money, it’s worthless” mentality.

(Of course, I’m also nervous that I’m just scared to try to write something original, because I don’t feel like I can do it and I don’t want to fail…)

Sean and I eat out a lot these days. Neither of us is a big fan of cooking. For Sean, it’s mostly that it takes so much time. For me, there’s the added issue that Sean is fairly picky, so there’s the danger that I’ll spend forever making something and then he won’t like it. So we tend to get takeout or fast food, or just go to a restaurant.

We have been trying to make healthier choices, at least. I’ve been getting Starbucks’ Protein Bistro Box for breakfast pretty regularly. It comes with a hard-boiled egg, two slices of white cheddar cheese, a small multi-grain pita with honey-peanut butter spread, apple slices, and grapes. It is so yummy! Much nicer than a sausage or bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, and healthier too. It’s a struggle not to just eat one every day. (I’ve been thinking that I could probably create my own version at home that would cost less. Maybe I’ll do that.)

Exercise-wise, neither of us is doing much of anything. We have to go up a flight of stairs to leave our apartment, and I take the stairs in the parking garage at work, but that’s about it. I’ve been thinking about getting back into walking or running in the mornings now that the weather is cooling off again, but I’m not sure I want to get up any earlier than I already do. My evenings feel pretty short already, especially since most of my friends stay up late.

Yesterday one of my friends linked me to a couple of videos: the pilot short and the first episode of the miniseries Over the Garden Wall. I had never seen it before, though I knew a lot of people were fans. It was absolutely incredible. So unique and charming. Creepy and cute all at once. The music is spectacular. At some point I need to sit down and watch the whole thing. (I was disappointed that both of the two main characters are boys, but my friend says there are important girl characters in the show, so I will hold out hope.)

Otherwise, I haven’t been watching or listening to much of anything lately beyond Welcome to Night Vale. I’ve heard of a couple of podcasts that sound great, but it’s hard for me to find time to listen to podcasts. I need to be doing something with my hands, but it can’t be something that takes too much mental energy, because I’ll get distracted from the show. Maybe if I start walking again, I could listen then. I’ve also been thinking about learning embroidery, or at least cross-stitch. I could listen to podcasts while doing that, maybe.

Well, that’s basically what’s going on in my life right now! On the whole, things are really good. Love, family, friends, hobbies, adventures, happiness. :)

A completely unscientific comparison of my social media sites

Today I posted the same status across three different sites: Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Here’s the status as it appeared on Twitter:

HILARIOUS RIGHT

Anyway. I posted the status at approximately 9am. Here it is, just after 8pm, 11 hours later. How’d this plucky little status do?

  • Twitter: Absolutely no response
  • Tumblr: Absolutely no response
  • Facebook: 7 likes

To be fair, if the status had had anything at all to do with human rights or Welcome to Night Vale it probably would have gotten a couple reblogs on Tumblr. I know the audience there. (Look how many notes this ridiculousness has.)

I’m pleased but not surprised that people on Facebook liked the joke. The people I’m friends with on Facebook are people I actually consider friends, people I’ve known for awhile either online or in person. So there is actually a relationship there.

Twitter, I don’t know. I don’t think many of my followers actually follow me. Even if they did, there are so many other people posting things that are far funnier. I haven’t managed to make many real connections on Twitter, even though I’ve been using it the longest out of all three services. Maybe that’s why? Maybe I sort of learned how social media works from Twitter, but only applied that knowledge to Facebook and now Tumblr.

In any case, it seems like the best way to achieve interaction is to make friends with people (shocking), and I really haven’t done that on Twitter at all. It feels so public, it kind of embarrasses me to try to strike up conversations with people I don’t know. I have started to make friends on Tumblr, which has been a lot of fun. Nothing too serious yet, just reblogging and liking each other’s posts, and a few asks here and there. But it’s nice. I like friends.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I use Twitter, and what I even use it for. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, if anything—I do have a couple friends there. But I feel like I spend an awful lot of time on it, and I want to be sure it’s worth it.

Mary

For whatever reason–my introversion, the fact that I lived off-campus–I bonded with very few fellow students in my years at the University of Kentucky. There were perhaps three people who truly meant something to me, enough that I think of those people frequently to this day.

One of those people is my friend Mary, who I met in my Teaching English as a Second Language courses. She was taking them at the graduate level, while I took them as part of my undergraduate linguistics degree (and received a Certificate in Applied Linguistics for TESL upon completion). Mary had children around my own age, but the difference in years and experiences between us never mattered. We were kindred spirits. We were interested in people, in stories, in learning. I remember riding the bus around campus with Mary, talking about anything and everything. I remember visiting her house and trying her homemade sushi rolls.

For class once, students were to prepare lesson plans as if we were teaching non-native speakers of English. I focused my class on advanced learners and made a creative writing lesson. Mary eagerly read her paragraph to the class, about a craft she’d once learned, and while I don’t remember the details, I can still hear her in my head saying “We would poke holes in” whatever substance the craft was made of. “Very sophisticated, Mary,” I remember saying, and thinking later that since I was supposed to be teaching English, I probably should have written the word “sophisticated” on the board.

Mary had curly auburn hair, glasses, pale skin and an easy smile. I can still see her face in my mind. She seemed young. She was an accomplished singer and songwriter. A recent skim through some old blog posts made me remember a party she’d held, how much fun I’d had playing pool at her house and looking at her husband’s LEGO collection. “I bet she’s on Facebook,” I said aloud. And so I searched.

I found many people with her name, but none that quite fit. Many were too young, many had the wrong background. Finally I decided to just google her and see what came of it.

And that’s when I found out that my friend died of breast cancer in 2007.

She died five years after I graduated and we lost touch. Just five years.

Now that I think about it, I’m remembering her saying something about battling breast cancer before. I had recently beaten cancer myself, which is probably why we talked about it at all. She always seemed so strong. Sure, she had stress, and there were things she confided in me that I will keep to myself forever. But I never felt that she was in danger. I never worried.

I never thought to keep track of her after I moved and changed my name for marriage. She probably had no idea how to find me.

I just let her go, as if friendships should be discarded the moment something in life shifts.

I’ve always tended to punish myself in this sort of situation, to feel overwhelming guilt. I do wish I had been a better friend to Mary after college. I wish we had stayed in touch. I wish I had been there for her when she was struggling at the end.

But more than that, more than my petty, destructive need to blame myself: A beautiful lady is gone. A wife, a mother, a writer, a singer; a caring, philosophical, intellectual woman is gone.

My friend is gone.

Happy Birthday, Dawn!

Yes, it’s August 8 in Malaysia already, which means my dear friend Dawn is celebrating her birthday. I suppose it wouldn’t be proper to put her age here ;D

Dawn and I have known each other since fall/winter of 1999. Actually, the first time I learned of her existence was, I believe, when I visited Sean for the first time in the summer of 1999. I’m actually having a little trouble putting the facts together, but I know that my first encounter with Dawn occurred while Sean and I had our computers over at the Mental Soup offices. We were there after hours hanging out online, and a message popped up on Sean’s ICQ for “Ryu-chan”. Somehow, I also discovered that Dawn had sent him a Christmas card. (He must have still had it on his desk with the rest of his mail. In the middle of summer. I don’t know ;P)

“How did she get your address?” I asked, as this was back in the ‘jealous girlfriend’ stage of our relationship.

“I gave it to her,” Sean said without explanation or apology. (My husband is cool.)

Since I had no real response to this–even jealous-girlfriend-me knew that throwing a hissy fit would be stupid and immature–I dropped the issue. I went back to reading the AMRN to see if I could find her posts or any idea about her (at the time I was not a member, but I had started reading the boards because Sean spent so much time writing there. If I use another parenthetical I may kill myself).

I never did find anything to fuel my jealousy, and I forgot about the whole thing shortly thereafter.

Months later, I decided to join the AMRN with my new character idea, Julien Straub. Shade (who I had also met in person on that trip) and I conspired together to come up with the idea. Basically, Julien would be closeted gay, and he would realize the truth about himself by falling in love with Ryu Connor, Sean’s character. It was going to be a hoot, or so we thought.

So I started roleplaying with Julien, and I discovered that I was really, really liking it.

During the transfer story in which Julien and a crowd of others were shuffling into various squadrons on the Etrakis, I–or rather, Julien’s player–met Dawn–or rather, Dawn and her alter-ego Hellspawn. Oh, boy, this is more convoluted than I thought.

Julien and Iliana’s players, which were of course me and Dawn, began conversing through email. The messages were really interesting and “we” got to know each other quite well. Meanwhile, on ICQ, “Hellspawn”, who played on the AMRN, joined “Julien’s” contact list. Julien and Hellspawn talked for a bit about videogames and RPGs, but ultimately didn’t have much to say to each other. (I was having trouble pretending to be a man. I really had no interest in videogames and RPGs, and I didn’t know what else to talk about.)

Finally, Hellspawn decided that “he” could no longer lie to “his” good friend Julien, and spilled the beans in an email from Iliana, letting me know that they were one and the same person.

After receiving the email, I was sort of shocked, and I wasn’t sure what to think. When I saw Hellspawn on ICQ later, I sucked it up: “You play a pretty good woman, Hellspawn!”

Then Dawn responded with the killer: “That’s because I am one, dearie ^_~”

I about fell out of my chair. But I could hardly fault her, since I was doing the same thing.

I wanted to paste the log of that conversation here, but I seem to have lost all of my Julien chats :P I have checked all my backup CDs and DVDs and I guess I just never thought to copy over Julien’s ICQ stuff. I’m amazed that I didn’t save the chats as text files though. What was I thinking?

In any case, I didn’t tell her who I was for awhile. I actually began living a double life, because as my chat logs with Sean attest, I met Dawn as Heather on January 21, 2000.

Me (9:02:38 PM): Hellspawn, huh?

Sean (9:02:59 PM): Yeah, approve her.

Me (9:03:02 PM): I did.

Me (9:04:02 PM): That’s the same person you were talking to that one time, right?

Sean (9:08:35 PM): Right.

I believe I’m slyly referring to “that girl who called you Ryu-chan?” without actually saying it. I was such a dork at the beginning of our relationship. ;>

Anyway, I don’t have any logs from Dawn until February 4, 2000. By that time we seemed to know each other’s secrets. This excerpt is interesting:

————————————–

ICQ History Log For:

64474335 Witch Child

Started on Wed Sep 27 15:56:59 2000

————————————–

COSLeia 2/15/00 2:31 PM This is weird.

Witch 2/15/00 2:43 PM I agree… ^_^

COSLeia 2/15/00 2:43 PM Back as me. And sure, I’ll talk to Boomer

Witch 2/15/00 2:44 PM ^_^

hold on a moment while I set it up?

COSLeia 2/17/00 4:01 PM :)

Witch 2/17/00 4:02 PM hehe… just noticed?

is Dave online btw? he hasn’t authorized me

yet

COSLeia 2/17/00 4:07 PM I’m not on as Julien so I can’t tell hold on

As you can see, after Dawn found out I was Julien, I still kept up the charade for quite a long time. I even had a few conversations with Sean as Julien, on AIM. O, the deception! These, of course, I managed to save. Just for kicks, here’s an example:

Hellfire00 (11:49:49 PM): Hmm, just Tuesday, was hoping for a new Penny-Arcade.

JulienStraub (11:49:52 PM): Oops. I have to go.

JulienStraub (11:49:59 PM): Penny-Arcade!

JulienStraub (11:50:06 PM): My gaming friends told me about that.

JulienStraub (11:50:08 PM): I never miss it now.

Sean (11:50:14 PM): It rulez.

JulienStraub (11:50:20 PM): 3r33t

Sean (11:50:28 PM): LOL, you know l33t speak!

JulienStraub (11:50:44 PM): I’m on AOL. What do you expect?

Sean (11:50:45 PM): OMG! I thought I was all alone!

Sean (11:50:46 PM): Roxor!

Sean (11:50:49 PM): Heh.

Sean (11:51:19 PM): Alright, take care man, I will chat at you tomorrow I am sure.

“My gaming friends”…peh.

And just for good measure…

JulienStraub (11:14:44 PM): Hello. ^_^

Sean (11:14:50 PM): Hello. ^_^

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay…

Hm. Well. This turned into more of a ramble about Julien than a discussion of my relationship with Dawn ^^;;;; I guess it would be easier to chronicle my friendship with her if I hadn’t seemingly lost all the old chats and emails. :( I don’t know why I didn’t save them. I’ve been saving things like that since 1996. Oh well. I must have lost it all in a format and forgotten to back up beforehand.

Well, I guess I can break the suspense and let the reader know how Dawn found out that I was Julien.

I was having trouble keeping the identities separate after I started talking to Dawn as myself, especially considering how close I had gotten to her as Julien. One day I was telling her about my struggle with cancer, and Dawn paused and then said, “This sounds familiar…”

I froze. I had told Dawn about having cancer as Julien, in email, and completely forgotten! I didn’t want to lie to her (I seem to have no problems with deception as long as I don’t have to actually lie straight out), and so after a moment of consternation, I finally said, “You probably remember it from Julien telling you about it. And I’m Julien.”

I’m sure Dawn almost fell out of her chair…and thus our true and open friendship began :>

Since Dawn and I really started to know each other, our friendship has really deepened and blossomed. I’ve never met her in person, but I can say without a doubt that she is the closest female friend I have. I wanted her to be the maid of honor at my wedding, but unfortunately she couldn’t make it. I told her that she was my maid of honor whether she was there or not, though :)

Since we became friends, I’ve watched Dawn go through some hard times, especially in her relationships. I wish I knew the right thing to do or say to help her find the man for her, but I guess it will just come in time. She seems to attract people who don’t appreciate her…and sadly enough she tends to cling to those people. I guess some of that is natural…women like the ‘strong, silent type’ and would actually rather be dismissed outright by a guy than coddled and pampered by one. But when it goes to the extreme, it’s just hurtful and sad. There needs to be a good balance…two people who know they love each other but who don’t lose their identities and opinions in the process. It’s hard to do, and a lot of it is purely left up to chance. (Who knew I would meet my perfect match in a Robotech chat room?)

I want Dawn to be happy. One of my goals in life once I’m rich ;) is to sponsor Dawn to come to the US. I know she wants to come here and meet everyone. I don’t know that she would necessarily want to stay, and I wouldn’t force her to do anything, but I would love to have her close, so we could hang out in person. It would just be great :>

I sometimes wonder how we would get along in person. She likes to go to clubs and stuff, and she’s a smoker. I imagine she drinks, too, but I’m not sure. Compared to Dawn, I’m pretty boring ^^;; I wonder if she would have fun with me, or if she would need more excitement in her life.

Maybe someday I’ll find out!

Time to ramble

This is my last week of school. Finals week is next week, but I have no finals, only papers. I should be able to get everything done fairly easily. What’s on my mind right now is the short story revision due tomorrow; I haven’t quite started on that yet ;> I had a group presentation today, and that seemed to go pretty well. Other than that, I don’t have anything pressing until next week. I think.

I do need to do some observations of a non-academic teaching English as a second language class…I’m not sure how I’m going to get that done. I went last week with Katie from TESL class, and that sort of went badly. She got really offended about the way the group proctors kept making derogatory jokes. They invoked stereotypes and things like that to get the foreign students to open up. I personally didn’t really see a problem with it; humor is usually the best way to break the ice in a situation. I thought it could have been pretty fun, but Katie was so adamant that it was stupid and degrading that I would have felt like a traitor to stay longer. Well, that, and they were going to a bar, and I’m not really a bar person.

So much of what we believe is based on perception. Katie believed that the students were offended by the proctors’ remarks, whereas I thought they either found them amusing, or didn’t quite understand yet. I definitely felt that an introduction to humor and slang was appropriate and useful for the students…they probably learn quite a bit about conversation from that group. I will have to talk a little about the experience tomorrow–we only stayed for about half an hour, so I hope I’m able to speak authoritatively on the subject somehow. I do think I’ll have at least a few things to say.

My short story, which doesn’t really have a title right now, is pretty good. I actually like it quite a bit, but it does need tweaking. I think I’ll hold off and put the “final version” (or at least, the final class version) on the website. People don’t really need to see the drafts. I may as well take “Mikey” down completely…I’m thoroughly disgusted with that story. It’s a load of crap :>

I seem to write the best stuff about Japan. At least lately. I suppose that’s what’s been on my mind, both subconsciously and consciously. I didn’t do a whole lot of writing about the experience while I was there, or even when I first got back. Things seem to come out better after a little time has gone by. The bad thing about that is that I can forget things…and my notes aren’t all that great :( I do know one thing, though: I love Japan and I want to live there someday.

I sometimes wish I had accomplished more in college. There are people who have done independent research projects, been active in clubs or Greek life, been activists, received scholarships and fellowships, and other things like that. Me, I just plug away at classes, then go home and do my own thing. There is a distinct lack of community there. Part of it is because I don’t live on campus, but even the year I did live on campus, back in Huntsville, I wasn’t extremely active. I was in one club, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, mainly because I liked the people in the club and had fun hanging out with them. I helped organize stuff, and I even became the Treasurer for the club, but I wasn’t intensely active like other people. I had my own hobbies, and there were times where I would just withdraw into myself.

I’ve always been like that, I suppose. I’m not necessarily a loner, because I love talking to people…but I do like having my own time, too. I don’t mind going to restaurants and movies by myself. I would prefer to have some people to go to the ballet and opera with, but right now everybody’s so broke that I can’t go anyway. Sometimes I feel like I distance myself from people who are near me, developing close bonds only to people online. I guess the online people will always (in general) be around, but the people I know in person won’t. I’ll be moving to Georgia next year, and it seems useless to get attached.

But that is pretty cynical and depressing, too.

And it’s not like I don’t have friends here. I’ve actually gotten pretty close to a woman in my TESL and Semantics classes, Mary. She has a husband named Phillip, two daughters (Lisa and Rebecca) and a son named Don. The girls are out of the house, but Don is 13 and still in school. Mary, Phillip and Don moved to Lexington from Nashville; Mary’s a natural musician and writer. She’s fantastic, really. I went to her house today and had lunch (a taco salad without the shell); it was really good. She also hosted a party last week, which was a blast. I knew most of the people there, and I skunked them at pool :D

So I can’t really say that I’m totally out of the social arena. But there is a feeling of detachment. Often I’m more comfortable on my computer than I am in a group of people.

My most comfortable place, hands down, is with Sean. Whether it be online together, on the phone together, or in person, there is no place I’d rather be. I don’t know, it is just so strange to me sometimes, to have my heart swell up and fill my chest, and this silly smile come on my face. It’s like a definite knowledge, something that no one can take away. He is the man I love. I’m going to marry him and live with him and grow old with him. And this certainty doesn’t make me feel trapped…it’s exciting. Together, we can do anything.

And really, he is the most fantastic man I have ever met. Our relationship is amazing to me sometimes. We are so comfortable with each other that we tease each other mercilessly, but we also comprehend each other on such a deep level that we know when to stop. We support each other, but we respect each other. We know each other. And damned if I’ll ever find someone as uniquely intelligent and intuitive as him. I can tell him everything, even silly things, and he’ll only love me more. I just can’t believe it sometimes. I can’t believe what I’ve found. I, to be cliché, must be the luckiest girl in the world.

I hope everyone feels this way when they find true love :)