is that a narwhal in your pocket, or…

I got a fun surprise from my friend Jennie today…

I’ve got Narwhals!

I don’t quite know when my mild obsession with narwhals started, but I know being at CPS definitely fueled it. That was mostly in part to all my attempts to convince our friend Molly that Narwhals do indeed exist. The Unicorn of the Sea isn’t my absolute favorite animal–because that title will probably always be held by the shark–but they are freaking cool. Just like these little narwhals.

After a 9-hour work day, these narwhals were a really nice treat. I’ve already spent some time tonight convincing my cat, Kaija, that narwhals aren’t for eating. Which means I might have to find a good place to keep them… Which is the perfect excuse to carry them around with me all the time.

So. My Monday wasn’t so bad. How was yours?

a family that games together…

Growing up, the only time I could really get a chance at our gaming systems was when my brother was off running through the neighborhood. Luckily he was a really active kid.

In case you were curious, I played a lot of Super Mario World, F-Zero, and ChessMaster on our SNES. (The Playstation was basically only Tim’s, but I was still allowed to play my Spyro games every so often. Okay, my brother wasn’t that stingy, he just played a lot.)

The gaming gene didn’t stop with just my brother and I. It seems my younger sisters have it too (even though the 16 year old might deny it). My little cousin? Mario Kart addict–he’s 7. And my beautiful niece? Yep. She’s definitely my brother’s girl. She has a DS lite now, and rumor has it she’s might be getting a 3DS as well as her own games for daddy’s xbox.

But what’s really awesome is that a year or so ago, I brought my Wii home for the holidays, and was pretty surprised with the outcome! For one, that year I found out I could beat my brother at one game at least–Wii Bowling. Also, we found out that my grandmother was more skilled than any of us knew. She took home the Wii Bowling championship on dad’s side. Even with all the cousins in, no one could be grandma. That wasn’t the last time we had a Wii Bowling tournament. While I was living with my dad, we had one as part of our family game night. I got creamed.

This year I’m looking forward to more holiday gaming memories. Dance parties with my niece (and hopefully my mom too!) on the kinect. Inevitably getting beat in Mario Kart by a 7 year old. And our own family Wii Olympics with Mario & Sonic. I still expect that our family will continue to play our traditional games: phase 10 and skip-bo (where Grandpa and I were the unbeatable team for years and years)… and now Apples to Apples and Rummikube (and hopefully one day Settlers of Catan, because that will always be one of my favorite board games). But I’m glad to see what was just something Timmy and I did, is now also a family favorite. … Now if only I could succeed at getting my mom to play Beatles Rockband with me…

Does your family have any traditional games? Any new ones you’d like to see added? I want to hear fun family game stories!

My sisters only get 30 minutes to either play Wii or be online each day (as long as their school work is done), and so each takes their 30 minutes and they don’t play together. (Because this means they can sit and watch their sisters play.) But during the holiday time we can actually get them into cooperative play–which to me is important. And setting up various family tournaments is even better. Though I generally find most of my dad’s rules a bit too limiting, I do agree with their limitations on using the TV/playing the Wii. I love the Wii, but I think it should be a reward not a right. I love that my sisters read a lot, or spend a lot of time with imaginative play inside and out. (On the reverse side, by brother and I had free range to do what we wanted, and I think we turned out pretty well.)

no bullshit. just happiness.

“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.”
― Charles BukowskiWhat Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

That sentiment has been pointed out to me, most often unintentionally and indirectly, quite a bit as of late. All those “life is what you make of it” and “focus on the positive” lines, well, there’s some truth there. You focus on the bad parts, you focus on all the negative… and it’s just a downward cycle. When you’re surrounded by a lot of negative influence, it can be hard to stay a float. But it’s not impossible.

However, I’m not here to give some sort of inspirational, “get your life together” message. Sometimes, what you do under constant stress reveals more humanity than not. Humanity is not a weakness. Showing that you’re troubled by something, that you can be be broken… there’s something important in that. But as is the point I feel Bukowski is getting at, we still must overcome and continue on with our lives. I can’t quite picture, at all, Bukowski rambling on about finding happiness, but maybe that there is some happiness to be found in just not letting your stresses win you over.

Of course, Bukowski also saw a solution in drinking a lot (and having a lot of sex too). Who knows, maybe he was on to something.

All I can say is, my life isn’t perfect. But I’m pretty happy right now. My endo and vertigo tried to knock me on my ass, work isn’t perfect, and I’ve still got financial stuff to get through… but I’ve got some kick-ass friends, my work hours are pretty great, and I’ve had some fun at concerts and parties recently with said kick-ass friends.

thankfulness and food comas.

I love Thanksgiving. It’s sort of the culmination of my love for fall foods. (And this year I got to try my hand at cornish game hens. Since it’s just me and the kitties, there was no need for a huge bird to myself. However, the kitties had their own turkey & giblets meal.)

But before the kitties and I, or well, before I nod off into the wonderful land of food coma (because holy crap do I make a tasty and juicy hen)… Here’s some of the things I’m thankful for this year:

My little furballs, Tuija & Kaija. They’ve put up with more than one move, and have been great little troupers.They’re just furry balls of love and cuddling.

Mucca Pazza. I love these people. They’ve been an amazing family of friends for me over these past years. I have so many great memories with them this year–various Tour de Fats, their dance film, and the California tour just to mention a few of them. In fact, it was during the California tour, the last show in San Diego, that I felt so much joy and love from and for this group of people that I started crying, right there in the middle of their show. I’m absolutely grateful that I have these people in my life. Each and every one of them.

CPS. This was the push I needed. For a long time, I’ve been all talk and I needed a kick in the butt to get moving. And while I don’t see myself pursuing a career in advertising, or well, probably not graphic design either… CPS has been a great opportunity for me. I’ve grown as a creative, and well, met some very awesome people… which leads to…

My CPS friends. It’s hard not to get close to people when you’re spending all day, 5 days a week with them… and in your free time you end up still wanting to hang out with them. These guys and ladies have seen me through some tough times. I can definitely see some long term friendships coming from this place.

A job that I actually like. It’s not perfect my any means, but it’s part of why I’m happy. Even though I’ve been building websites for 13 or so years now, I sort never truly considered it as a career. But once you start making money, like real money, from something you enjoy and are halfway decent at… well, it opened my eyes a bit. I didn’t need to find this perfect job that encompassed all my talents. I needed to find a job where I could support myself, yet still have the freedom for the other things I love. And this job is doing just that.

An understanding landlord. I panicked when I was moving back in April. I was having the hardest time finding and then securing a place. I actually lost the first two places I wanted, but my current landlord gave me a good deal on a unit bigger than I’d been looking at. It’s not perfect, but it’s becoming home for the time being.

My family, duh. I have so much family, so. freaking. much. family. But I love them all. I’m grateful for my dad and stepmom taking me in when I had no place to go. I’m grateful for a chance to really get to know and love my new stepmom, Cynthia–to be able to look past our differing beliefs and just love each other. I’m grateful for new family and getting chances to get to know them. From my cousin-in-law to my step-cousins, and my brother’s girlfriend. I know I have 4 other sisters, but getting a 5th in my hopefully new sister-in-law, is just awesome. She and I are both dealing with endo, which has actually given us more of a chance to bond. I’m grateful for my niece, who is growing up so fast! My brother, who still calls when he’s bored. And of course… my mom. I love this woman. She is absolutely amazing and beautiful. Isn’t it suppose to be that the parents are proud of their kids? But I’m super proud of my momma. Next year, I’m making sure she comes up to Chicago to spend thanksgiving with me. Love this woman so much.

.. and right now, I’m thankful for my new couch so I can now pass out in full-on food coma. Gotta sleep some of this off because I have an entire pie to eat.

As, I’m sure everyone else is asking… what are you thankful for?

one challenge at a time.

So this is day two of OMG ENDOMETRIOSIS IS STUPID, round…. I have no idea.

There’s not much I can do other than rest and hope that the ripping feeling goes away. Basically, my medicine is apparently not working. I don’t know whether it’s just something messed up with this batch, or if my body is just not reacting to it any more. It’s happened before. I was on a basic birth control pill and my body just got worse.

I just get to sit and wait and see what happens.

It’s been over a year since I was in the hospital. It’s been a hard year. For the most part, my medicine has helped make me feel normal. But over all, this disease has been a challenge. It’s damn near impossible to feel remotely attractive or sexy when it feels like your insides are being ripped apart. It’s hard to earn a living or keep a job when you can have a full week straight that you can barely get up let alone move around or even think of putting on anything other than a very loose fitting dress.

Today’s big challenge was grocery shopping. I wanted to head down south a few neighborhoods to save some money. But I was feeling the pain before I even got to the train station. Just past the train station is a small local grocery. But I got it in my head that I wanted to save some money. Nothing like hobbling through a grocery store, having hot flashes, on the day before Thanksgiving. The benefit of going is now I’ve got the stuff to have my own little holiday meal with the kitties. Including two little cornish game hens–no reason to do a big turkey, or pay for one, if it’s just me. Hens were cheaper, and far more amusing.

The challenges of this disease aren’t over. They might not even be over once I finally have my surgery. But it’s these small victories that remind me I can get through it. It’s knowing that so many other women, unfortunately, know exactly what I’m going through and have been there too. Complete strangers, acquaintances, close friends, and even family–these women have pushed through this too.

My brother’s girlfriend and I were talking yesterday–she had surgery for endo a week or so ago. We couldn’t believe just how many women we knew who had been going through this too. We wish we knew why. But we knew one thing: the next generation of girls in our family would never have to suffer for long. We’re just too aware of this disease to let anyone else wait like we did.

This is one reason why I’ve chosen to be so open about having endometriosis. The average time for a women to get diagnosis and receive treatment from the onset of symptoms is about 10 years. Ten years of debilitating pain. Women just think it’s bad cramps. That it’s normal. It completely baffles me. But no one talks about this. Periods are taboo subjects. Do they suck? Can they be messy? Yeah, they can. But regardless of your gender, let’s just be mature about this. I’m not asking anyone to “become uber in touch with their bodies and femininity” and save their menstrual junk to fertilize their gardens or use it in art or anything like that. Just stop acting like a sissypants. Maybe in the end, less women will have to go years and years in pain.

being alone means…

I felt like crap today. More endo problems. Nothing like waking up and feeling like your insides are tearing.

As I lay on the couch, trying not to move, it hit me… There’s no one here to help take care of me. If I need my heating pad reheated in the microwave, I’ve got to get up and do it. Hungry? I’ve got to get up and make it. Earlier I was craving potato chips like crazy, now it’s ice cream, and the only way I’m going to get it is if I get dressed and go out to the store myself. If I need to go to the ER yet again, it’s just me.

The cats do pretty well with comforting me when I’m sick or feeling lonely… But well, this was not a day for cats to be all over my stomach.

I don’t want it to seem like I’m overly needy or anything, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone to take care of you. Or at least someone who’ll come stick it out with you. Just someone to run their fingers through your hair as you use their lap as a pillow. Or someone to gently rub your back. Someone to make you laugh even though it hurts. Just someone to remind you that you’re cared for. (Or just someone who’ll run out and get you potato chips and ice cream.)

Luckily today wasn’t too bad. It was painful, but I’ve unfortunately had worse pain–and expect there’ll probably still be worse pain to come. I’ll be honest and say I sometimes wonder if I’ll be tough enough to handle going through surgery alone. (But first I gotta get a job with insurance before that can even become a reality–who knows when that’ll be.)

There are just some days that living on your own, being single, and not having any friends living close by or available to stop by just all hits hard.

Don't be a dick. (or: Rini's 13 rules for a tolerable CTA bus experience)

One of the things I love about Chicago is the fact that you can get around pretty damn well without owning your own vehicle. It’s actually a very walkable city. It’s pretty good for bikes too, I mean, not perfect, but seems good. And as walkers and b-cyclists can attest, we’ve got a great number of cabs. Also, the one we love to complain about–but I couldn’t function without–the CTA.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the CTA, or Chicago Transit Authority… I’m more of a bus person than a train, but I’m comfortable taking either. However, as I am more of a bus person than a train person, I’ve noticed there’s some simple common sense things for making the bus experience for everyone more pleasant. And so I’m going to share that with you.

1. Unless you’re running to catch the bus, have your fare ready. Nothing like waiting for the bus to arrive and then having to wait for someone to dig through their pockets and bags to find their card. If you can’t find it, step aside so others can board the bus. This is crucial in bad weather.

2. If you can’t find a seat, just go toward the back of the bus. Don’t hang out near that front door and stand there–I mean, if you’re getting off in a stop or two, okay, but don’t block the way. Especially if a lot of people keep passing you by… just suck it up and go with the flow. Only acceptable reason to stand awkwardly in the front of the bus is if whomever you’re with is sitting. But let people pass.

3. If you’re standing and a seat opens up near you, either sit in it or move so someone else can sit. Don’t block the seat.

4. Your bag does not belong on the seat. If the bus is empty, and you got like 7 bags because hey, Target had a sale.. then okay. But otherwise it’s either going to have to be on your lap or on the floor or both. If this is one of the work commute times, then just don’t put your bag on the seat. I ride an express bus, the only acceptable time to break rules is once we’re on Lake Shore Drive.

5. Hygiene.

6. To all dudes: I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s no way your junk is that big that you need to spread your legs that far part. Are your balls on fire and you’re airing them out? Probably should just stay at home, or you know, see a doctor… but if you take the bus maybe you should stand instead.

7. Related to #6… You get one seat. Stay out of my area. Yes, this is just like the back seat of mom’s car. I will draw a line and you can’t cross it. (Unless you’re a hot dude, then, well, that’s something else.)

8. CTA says you’re not supposed to eat on the bus or train. If you are going to break this rule, do it with bus-friendly food… not something like Chinese take-out or chicken wings.

9. Please don’t lick the bus.

10. I don’t need to hear your music. Or your awkward phone conversation.

11. If you’re standing, don’t get all up in the sitting people’s space. If the bus is completely pack, then well, there’s nothing you can do. But remember they’re sitting so their faces are either are at ass/crotch or boob level and no one needs that in their face on the bus.

12. When your stop is next, pull the cord to alert the driver. You only need to pull it once. Just make sure you either hear the ding or you see on the marque that it says “stop requested”. Remember, others might be getting off at your stop, so someone else may have pulled the cord already. So there’s no need to pull the cord 20 times if that’s the case.

13. Chicago buses have “easy out” back doors. Wait until you get to your stop–and you know, the bus stops–and the light above the door turns green, then push on the yellow strip on the door. Might have to push more than once. If the bus starts to pull away from your stop and you’re still on the bus, you have every right to yell “getting off!” to the driver from the back door. Just remember to look for the green light because sometimes the bus stop is actually across the intersection and you just have to wait to the light to change–aka you’re not at the bus stop yet.

The bus really isn’t that bad. Especially with the google maps integration with the transit system. The train’s even easier. Get on. Get off. If drunks can manage the train, then any one can. And if you don’t act like a dick, then anyone can manage the bus too. Which I guess is the main rule: don’t be a dick.

a nice unexpected surprise for my Sunday

Ask me yesterday how I’d be spending my Sunday… and I would have said a little cleaning, a lot of resting, and probably some Deadliest Catch with the kitties. Who knows, maybe I’d get a little adventurous and go get groceries or maybe finally get my hair cut.

Well, I woke up to the kitties going full speed with their morning parkour. Someone needs to tell them that parkour is rarely cool. Especially not when done at dawn… even less so when I get home after 3am.

Even though it’s still pre-Thanksgiving, I decided to cruise craigslist for Christmas trees. At this point in time, I’m not interested in green trees. I have a 3-foot pink tree… but I’d like something a bit taller. Struck out on the trees, and ended up in a familiar search: couches. Well, one couch in particular. The ikea klippan loveseat. It’s $249 in store, and that’s just the basic model. Of course I want the one with the yellow slipcover… so that’s more like $319.

Randomly stumbled into this listing that didn’t mention anything about sofas or loveseats or couches or even ikea in the title. And low and behold, there was the exact couch I was looking for. And for a mere $85. And it was in the city of Chicago, not a suburb! With one email, I found out it was still available. So thus the scramble to find a truck started.

I pretty much knew from the get-go that it would be highly unlikely any of my local friends would be able to help me out… so, that left the internet and strangers. Tried Zaarly. Someone wanted double what I was offering. So it turned into a game of phone tag with some moving services. I really didn’t want to pay the same amount or more than the couch just to get it home.

Long story short, ended up finding a company who said they’d be at the owner’s place in 45 minutes. So I run there quickly, pay, then return home immediately to try to get the living room somewhat ready for the couch.

This was really happening.

Before I knew it, my couch was in my home…

And it came with throw pillows! So for $160, I now have a new (to me) couch. Only a year old, and in pretty good condition. Granted, with having one black cat, a white couch wasn’t going to work. So a trip to Target was in store…

Some fabreeze and a full fitted sheet later…

Okay. So it doesn’t fit perfectly, but it’s a nice, cheap, fix for trying to minimize the cat hair’s noticeability. I still want to get a nice bold yellow/golden rod slipcover some day. But this sheet set was $25… and it’ll fit on my bed when it gets retired from the couch. Plus, it came with pillow cases that I’m going to modify to fit the throw pillows a bit better.

All of that happened before 1pm. Well, not the Target run. I did that after testing out the couch with an inaugural nap. I can say, Tuija is in love with this couch. It’s got a nice wide back, so it’s a perfect cat bed/ledge. Total of $185 when all was said and done. Still cheaper than buying from ikea, and well, I’d still have to figure out how to get it home.

Definitely wasn’t planning on this. I’d been hoping to get a couch eventually, but my apartment completely wasn’t ready yet. And that was a nice chunk of money to see disappear… But… YAY COUCH! (Which means I can stop treating my bedroom like a living room!)

writing frustrations.

There’s a reason I nicknamed my NaNoWriMo piece last year “Trebek”… Suck it, Trebek.

Hitting the frustration mark. My NaWriFuMo challenge is only to 11,405 words as of before writing this. That’s not bad, really. But at this point in the game I should be near or over 30k–if, well, I’m still striving towards the 50k mark. But what’s pushing it along is the NaBloPoMo part, which I’m still affectionately calling BloMo.

I haven’t written anything fiction-wise in a while. Probably a week. I’m not working on a novel this year, just short stories. Afterward, I may flesh one out, but for now I just want to focus on writing a shit-ton and getting as many different ideas out there as possible. Started out okay, then just hit a wall. Then I blew it off for the new Super Mario 3D Land… and well, I just haven’t been in the writing mood since.

Part of me is ready to throw in the towel. The month is almost over, and I’ve got bigger things to worry about. I haven’t been able to work on Season’s Geekings for a week now either. Getting that first prototype card done is a priority. I need to call printers and get quotes… nail down packaging… Then from there I can talk with my artists and writers and get them some ideas of their percentage… Anyway. Gotta get some work done.

But I think the biggest frustration is actually with the BloMo part. I’ve never been big on blogging just to blog. I want to do it with some sort of intention behind it. It’s why I never really cared for Blah Blah Tuesdays or Such and Such Thursdays. They work fine for other bloggers, but well, they’re just not my thing. I know that getting over the blank screen is just part of the challenge of BloMo… but still… there’s a quantity-quality issue going on in my head. (I mean, hey, this whole post is just filler so I get my count for today.)

Didn’t I do that whole “I’m taking a break from the internet so I can figure out it’s purpose in my life” thing for a reason?

Bottom line: I’m not going to concern myself with it too much. I’ve got a Back Matt to the Future party tonight. Time to start Teen Wolf-ing it up.*

*What? Michael J Fox filmed Teen Wolf before Back to the Future, even though it was released after… It’s just an excuse for me to wear the Tanooki hood to a party.

The good, the bad, and the dizzy.

Welp. I messed up. Missed my first NaBloPoMo (or, well, BloMo) post yesterday. But with good reason.

Last night I went out to see a really fun concert. Lord of the Yum Yum, Ami Saraiya, and Detholz! at the Empty Bottle. Thanks to mistimed transit in the form of waiting for a bus for about 20 minutes.. outside in the freezing cold… I missed all but the last two songs of Lord of the Yum Yum. Hadn’t seen him before and I’m definitely kicking myself a little bit for not getting there earlier. But Ami Saraiya and her band rocked, as did Detholz!

The night was sort of made by the company. Every time I’d turn around there was someone else I knew. A good handful of Muccas came out–there’s a Mucca each in Ami’s band and in Detholz! Plus there was a nice turn out from my own band. Got to see three bandmates I haven’t seen for a very long time. It was a great night. Lots of dancing. … just not by me.

Back in high school I was diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo*. It’s an inner ear disease that basically means I get dizzy. It can be triggered by simple things like the position of my head, or atmospheric pressure changes (like before it rains or snows). So seasonal changes? I tend to experience some mild dizziness. It’s not terrible, or at least it hasn’t been. But it’s hard to focus–my head feels full and foggy… and it feels like I’m on a boat, which means yeah, just a tiny bit nauseous. But it’s generally manageable.

So apparently the headache of doom was just a nice little warning to “Oh hey, non-drunk spinning time.” Normally I don’t experience vertigo to this annoyance until the change from winter to spring. So fun times for me. I’m just trying to be careful because the past day or so on the bus I’ve noticed feeling dizzy–which is strange because I don’t get motion sickness. And trying to dance last night? Well, my body told me it was a bad idea.

This morning the dizziness didn’t go away. So I’m at home. In the security of my bed, which means if I need to fall over, I have a nice memory foam mattress pad and goose down pillows to collapse into. I’ll be missing the Pre-Thanksgiving potluck tonight, but hopefully I won’t miss the party tomorrow. At least I have my brand new coat (which arrived earlier than estimated), scarf, and uber warm and furry hat to keep me warm on my way there (and the rest of winter).

*Yeah, I know. I’m a bucket full of fun medical things. Endo, BPPV, paresthesia and that whole weird acute paralysis that comes and goes… But I’ve managed with it. Can’t let those things keep me from having a full and happy life–just make the minor adjustments that are needed and go on. I just hope the BPPV is just that and not Ménière’s disease like what my IsoIsa has. No interest in gradually going deaf.