Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Looking Back

Five months ago, I suffered through my last day at a job that bored me, drained me, and held me back from all the things that I had actually kept the job in order to have time to do. Five months ago, I drove away from IBM Boulder and remembered the irony in how I used to drive by the complex every day on my way to class at CU and think, "I'm glad I'll never have to work in a place like that." Five months ago, I left Corporate America and was damn glad to do so. Tomorrow I'll walk into a job that actually has potential for growth. Tomorrow I'll walk into a job armed with a writing schedule and a couple projects already rolling to defend my writing against what happened at the last job. Tomorrow I'll put the past five months of learning to the test and see how to go about working and living with the knowledge I've gained about myself and my writing. But before I do so, it seemed appropriate to reflect a bit on my unemployment.

April started out great. I was actually happy to have been laid off as I was able to get the hell away from a bad job without having a new bad job lined up and still bring in money. I was ready to write the month away. To finish up all those Human Dignity revisions that I'd been slogging through. To do all the research I wanted for The Masque so I could start writing that project again. I was energized and refreshed, walking every day, taking care of myself and ready for about a month or two of trying to find another job. Then I encountered The Peaches, and all of that energy vanished. The depression I had been flirting with ever since I decided against my original career plan descended with nasty hooked claws. And I had no job to occupy 40 hours of every week and keep me well and distracted from all the nasty issues that depression demanded I face. However, I was able to keep myself busy enough by finishing up Human Dignity by the end of April.

May and June is a bit of a blur to me. I didn't do a thing those months. I ignored my writing, I ignored my depression, and I buried myself in fun books and video games to drown out the sounds of my pain. The worst part about May and most of June was that I knew full well what I was doing. And I did it anyway. I didn't know how to go about dealing with the myriad issues that had been piling up since I sat down one November afternoon in 2001 and said, "You know, I really don't want a career in academic research." Not only did I not know how, but I got the sense that these issues went to the core of who I was, how I had adapted to this world--and who wants to sit down and get into that?

In July, after an afternoon spent weeping because I kept getting pounded by a particularly challenging boss in Final Fantasy X-2, I started to get serious about fixing me. Went to a therapist, got some good books to read, started to piece together a lot of things. I even began to write regularly again. Granted, it wasn't on The Masque, but I settled that issue by expanding the universe The Masque exists in and carrying it far into the future for a whole series of short stories/novelettes. And no matter what I was working on, I felt the joy of actually writing again. I finished two of those novelletes (or, rather, finished one and wrote all but the last scene of the other) and started developing a whole cast of characters and really got into the idea of cultural and historical development of the two nations in conflict in the series. It was great. I was starting to chip away at all the blocks I had put up to keep me from seeing what I needed to fix. It was an exciting month.

August, however, was not so thrilling. All those blocks were down and I was faced with a lot of harsh truths in my life, stretching all the way back to when I was 8. In the month of August, I had to examine me and build me up at the same time. It's not a pretty sight to realize you've been systematically excising a part of who you are for nearly twenty years. But I faced it, and faced it, and faced it, even when it kept getting harder and harder and harder. And then last week, the last of all my illusions was brutally yanked away. It's been a long time since I've cried as hard as I did last Tuesday and Wednesday. By Wednesday evening, I felt calm and relaxed, ready to start living the life I wanted to live--writing, no matter what 9-5 job I had to take to keep money coming in. Then I got a job offer Thursday morning, and I saw the pattern of the past five months. April to August was an incredible journey for me. Each step was necessary, each tear, each pain, each joy, each moment.

And to further cap off the past five months, to put that final conclusion on everything I've been through, I got 100% completion for Final Fantasy X-2 last night and was able to see the "Perfect Ending" I've been aiming for since I started the game back in May. Things do fall into place in mysterious ways.... :)

Monday, August 30, 2004

A Shout-out to the Geeks

Quizilla is so cool. I like all the random people who put together various quizzes. I knew someone would do something like this next quiz eventually, but I didn't realize how deeply it would touch my science nerd core. Via Kat:
You are glucose. People feed off of you. You are
sweet, caring, and a source of energy for
everyone around you. You can inspire others
with your creativity and depth, and you can
keep people alive when in times of famine.
People love you...or at least the way you

Which Biological Molecule Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, August 27, 2004

Woo-hoo! Go Me

After five long months of unemployment, I will start working again on September 1. And this is a job I really want. I'll be a Project Support Specialist for a local biotech company that provides endocrinoloy data collecting and analysis services for pharmaceutical companies doing clinical trials. It's a very adminstrative intensive job, so it'll be closer to being a secretary in many aspects, but there's a lot of technical stuff I get to do. And the potential for advancement isn't only a real thing, but something they expect of me. The challenge will be to take all the hard work I've done on my writing and my identity as a writer this summer and not let a nine-to-five job with career potential tank it. More to come.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Really Sick, Apparently

I wasn't too worried about the nasty sore throat bug that Mark passed on to me until Friday evening. You see, every Friday night when I'm in town, I make an effort to go to Forward Motion and hang out in the chat room for a writerly Think Tank. We laugh, we pun, we make very bad fish jokes, and we ask and answer various questions related to the art and business of writing as well as writers' individual projects. It's a blast, and part of why I don't mind that Mark goes to play volleyball every Friday night. And after I do the Think Tank thing, I watch Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis and read until Mark drags his sweaty self back on home.

That didn't happen this Friday, unfortunately. Right about 5PM, I realize that the stupid sore throat thingy has decided to mess around with my entire body. Joint pain, fatigue, that hit-by-a-freight-train-out-of-nowhere feeling. So I curled up in bed, watched the early showings of SG-1 and Atlantis, took me some primo NyQuil and passed out. I was just awake enough to say all manner of odd things to Mark when he came back.

When I woke up Saturday and realized my sore throat was completely gone, I thought I was out of the woods. Not so. Things got horrendously worse on Saturday. After going through the usual morning routine of read paper, eat breakfast, do some journaling, check things out on line, I had to go back to bed. I spent all of Saturday watching the Olympics and moaning as I would ocassionally decide to roll over onto one side to see if that made me feel better. It was not pleasant. Sunday saw me feeling much better, but still pretty weak. I used up all my spare energy to do the laundry.

And now here I am on Monday, thinking for sure that I've got to be better, right? Yet four hours into my day I'm ready to call it good. I've eaten, I've done some "meditation through movement" thingy, I've journaled, I've showered (and shaved!), I've check my email, and I've blogged. Sounds like a full day to me. Here's hoping that I'll be able to last a whopping six hours tomorrow. I'm going to take a rest so I can hopefully summon up some energy to walk over to a nearby store and buy 10 notebooks for a buck (I *heart* back to school sales).

Friday, August 20, 2004


The month of August has seen both Mark and I suffering from stupid summer-time bugs. I think we picked them up at the airport coming back from Buffalo. I caught a bit of a cold-like thingy while Mark got a nasty sore throat virus. We dealt with those for a couple weeks and then switched maladies this past weekend. Fun. I'd rather have the cold. That didn't make me feel too bad. I was occassionally tired, I had a mild sinus headache for an hour, and I was tired enough to take a two-hour nap one day. That's it. This virus thing is making my throat just awful to live with. And I've got just enough fatigue and joint pain to keep me fairly inactive for long periods of time. Yippee-skippy. Here's hoping to better health for next week. Maybe then I'll be able to stick to the schedule I put together this week. 'Twould be nice.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Muted Anthems

Is it just me or did the Athens 2004 Olympic Committee decide to play the most lackluster arrangements of the national anthems for the medal ceremonies? I remember watching Michael Phelps get his first gold and hearing the Star Spangled Banner and thinking, "What's with the strings? Where's the brass? Where's the crescendo? Where's the power?" Then I started paying attention to the other anthems. The only one I've heard that seems to have any oomph to it is Romania's. The others are all ho-hum, so this is our big song, whoop-de-do, OK let's go get some gyros. Maybe they sound much more dramatic and impressive in the actual venues over there, but I have my doubts.

As a military brat, our national anthem has been a staple in my life, especially once we moved overseas. I heard that song every single day at 5PM when the base played taps and we all had to stop what we were doing, turn in the general direction of the base headquarters and be all respectful and patriotic as some military folks in their fancy uniforms did their fancy flag-lowering routines. They also played the German national anthem, since that was our host nation. Now, if the military can rig it so anywhere on the base, you can still hear the brass and the boom and the power and the emotion of the Star Spangled Banner as it trickles out of a decades-old speaker system, why can't the Olympics do it?

I'm also no stranger to various arrangements of our national anthem as each movie I saw at the base theater was prefaced by the usual host of previews and a nice patriotic montage to go along with the anthem. And we all had to stand and take off our hats and try very hard not to giggle at the really wretched versions we sometimes had to suffer through. This was especially difficult if you were already sugared up with your pals and were getting ready to see a rollicking comedy. But never once did I have to strain my ears, waiting to hear the big finish, waiting to feel the oomph of the song. Even when I was biting my lip to keep from guffawing at the really cheesy male choral arrangement that the base theater seemed particularly fond of for a few years, I still felt the rush of "home of the brave" (which was particularly cheesy in that male choral arrangement, especially because it was followed by this really bad tag of "America, my home" - you really can't understand it until you've heard it).

I mean, strings? That's nice for some classical music event, but when it comes to the Olympics, you want the gut-wrenching brass and drums that will just wring the tears out of our athletes as they stand on the podium with the weight of gold around their necks and feel the awesome rush of accomplishment. You want the arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner that made me tear up just before I saw Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Is there a proper way to inform a neighbor that his/her late-night amorous activities are preventing you from getting sleep? I've consulted my copy of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette (got it free along with a box of other books by helping out at a book sale) and found nothing on point. Were this anything other than an hour of constant the squeaky-squeaky of their bed, I would have no problem knocking on said neighbor's door and politely requesting that the loud noise stop. However, the nature of the noise presents a whole mess of problems. I would just ignore it, but it's really loud and has woken me up out of a decent slumber the past two nights - and after 1 AM, no less. At least it's just the noise of a bad mattress that I hear and not the other various sounds that can accompany such activities. I've contemplated leaving a note on the door to the effect of "Just so you know: your bed squeaks very loudly." Any other suggestions?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Business Side of Writing, Analyzed

Via Jaquandor, here is an excellent dissection of the wrong-mindedness thrust upon writers by other writers and the publishing industry. It's geared toward the mystery genre, but it applies to anybody who writes fiction (and probably even non-fiction). The author of the piece, Jim Huang, puts all the links and info about the sources he quotes in his footnotes, so be sure to check them out too (especially that infernal Jane Austen Doe salon.com article that had every writer rolling their eyes earlier this year). But I also recommend that you read this speech while ready for action. I know it made me get up and actually get ready for the day because, dammit, I had work to do. It's impossible for me to read things like this without getting revved up for the writing that I've been putting off for a myriad of reasons ranging from the valid and serious to the "But I need to watch that mole on my leg today because it might suddenly turn cancerous" variety.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Reading Deprivation

OK, so I'm really liking The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, but I wasn't expecting the instructions for this week. Wekk 4 of the book is the "reading deprivation" week. That's right, no reading. Not even for a job (which I don't have, but still). No reading. For a whole week. Hence the utter lack of posting. It's hard to post something without playing around on the Internet for a while, reading blogs, reading bulletin boards. So I haven't posted so I wouldn't be tempted. But I figured I could control my reading urges with a quickie post to let everyone know why I dropped off the face of the Earth this week. I thought about ignoring the "no reading" directive at least when it came to the internet since I'm still struggling to maintain this blog and any internet presence while I try to sort through the Unemployed Life. But I've always been such a goody-goody when it came to following instructions, so I haven't read a thing (beyond a tad of background info on the candidates for Tuesday's primary election - yes, I officially registered Democrat and said good-bye to the days of being "unaffiliated"; more on this later). The point of reading deprivation is to prevent folks from that whole escapism thing. No avoiding life by diving into a book. No ignoring those inner voices because work's just swamped you with a bunch of reading material. And so on. It worked in my case. Again, more on that later. I'm still processing a bunch of it.

The point: Never fear, Kellie's still here. She just can't read anything right now. So please forgive any typos you find in this post.

Friday, August 06, 2004


I strongly encourage everyone without a silly novelty T-shirt to pick one up immediately. Kohl's is selling some (but the best ones we found at the store and I can't track them down on-line; things like a shirt with the parental advisory label). And Target always has some fun ones around holidays. I usually pick one up for Mark (they become colorful sleep shirts along the lines of "Who Needs More Presents? You've Got Me!" and a really pretty snowflake with the word "FLAKE" underneath it) as a quick gag gift. I got one for myself last week that says "Don't Start With Me...You Will Not Win". I love it. But my favorite one says "Floggings Will Continue Daily Until Morale Improves". Excellent. These shirts give you an inner giggle or an inner bit of attitude on rough days. They are excellent for appeasing reluctant muses or starved inner children. And they're usually less than $15, if not less than $10. Buy one today!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Summer Movies

Last week, before Friday, I was driving past the mall and happened to take a look at the marquee listing the flicks on screen. This is what part of the list looked like:
  • Spiderman
  • Catwoman
  • Anchorman
  • I Robot

It made me laugh and wax philosophical in far too nebulous a way to get into here. It's nice when the normal things in life can be looked at in interesting ways.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

When Bad Days Collide

Any day that starts out with me getting up early and taking my husband to the airport so he can get on a plane without me is by definition not a good day. It doesn't have to be a bad day, but it isn't going to be good. Such was last Tuesday. Add in the fact that I got four hours of bad sleep the night before, and we're starting to turn "not a good day" into a bad one. I chugged a grande vanilla latte on the way to the airport, hoping the caffeine would at least kick in before noon. I'm beginning to wonder if the words "grande vanilla latte" were code for "decaf coffee with tons of sugar" at Starbucks that day because the drink only made me punchy, in a "I'm really tired but something's trying to make me hyper" sort of way. I was too tired to even take a nap that day. I was too tired to write. I was too tired to read. All I managed was to sit on the couch and stare at the TV and the clock, waiting for 6:30 to roll around so I could go to my writing group. Little did I know that my day was heading for train wreck territory.

I'm basically the moderator of our group. We're a pretty laid back bunch, so my job is mostly really easy. The biggest challenges I've had in this role are to remember to update our roster and get my contact information updated in the RMFW monthly newsletter. Well, last Tuesday presented the worst issue I hope to ever deal with in this group. And, of course, I was far too tired and cranky to deal with it in any positive way.

It turns out that two other people were having off days. And their personalities are such that they usually don't back down on good days. On their bad days, diplomacy is antithetical to one of them, and the idiom "discretion is the better part of valor" only makes sense in hindsight to the other. Needless to say, they clashed and clashed loudly. Over something that did have merit, but was better to talk about after we had gone through all of the selections to be critiqued that night. I tried a couple of times to break into their "discussion" with no luck, as did one other person in the group. When I cut to the chase, indicating that I was having a bad day and wasn't going to solve their little scuffle diplomatically, they didn't hear me. So I walked away to buy a book (it's both very nice and very dangerous meeting at Borders) with the order that they had to work it out by the time I got back. They had, but I think due to the intercession of someone else in the group, and one of the arguers had to say one last piece before we moved on still. The other arguer got up and left herself, realizing a little too late that her resources were tapped due to her own bad day. And the "What, me be diplomatic?" guy eventually realized he had crossed a line by the time the night was over. It all worked out, but I left Borders that night, kicking myself for not being able to moderate. Granted, I was in absolutely no mental (and physical) position to do so at the time, but that didn't stop my inner perfectionist from raking me over the coals about the incident.

I'd like to say that Wednesday was better, but it wasn't. Last week pretty much sucked over all, ending with a flourish in Cincinnati (I'm counting the wedding onward as the weekend, and therefore devoid of last week's suckiness).

Monday, August 02, 2004

Adventures in Cincinnati

I had a good two or three posts for last week, but Blogger and I kept having scheduling conflicts. Anytime I was able to blog, Blogger was down. Anytime Blogger was up was a time I wasn't on-line. Go figure. And then I had to travel to Buffalo on Thursday, thus preventing me from blogging until today, when I'm back in Colorado. So the next few posts were originally supposed to be up last week. But not this one. This post had no presence in my mind until I landed in Cincinnati Thursday night.

Last week in general wasn't grand because Mark left ahead of me for Buffalo since when the flights were booked, it was possible I would be working last week and not able to get the time off. As it turns out I wasn't working, and I spent the week husband-less and hearing about his great time with his family in Buffalo. Doesn't make for happy days. Thus I was very eager to be getting on the plane Thursday evening. Because I wanted to get to Buffalo as quickly as possible, I invoked a few nasty clauses of Murphy's Law.

The plane for the flight out of Denver was 45 minutes late getting to Denver. And then a weather cell decided to hang around the airport, keeping us grounded on the runway for another 45 minutes. Add in all the usual delays of deplaning and planing, and we got off the ground almost two hours after we were supposed to. It's a good thing that I called Mark as soon as I heard the plane was late getting into Denver. I only had an hour to make my connection in Cincinnati, so I had called to give everyone a head's up that Bad Things May Be Afoot.

We land in Cincinnati probably just as the plane bound for Buffalo took off. You'd think Delta would've held that plane, seeing as how it was the last one that night and wouldn't it be cheaper to hold a couple planes for a half hour instead of putting a hundred or so people up for the night? But no, they sent all those last flights out of Cincinnati on their merry ways. As soon as I turned my cell phone on when the plane landed, Mark called to tell me that they had already called Delta and were told that I would be staying in Cincinnati that night and would get on a flight the next morning to Buffalo--via Atlanta. This stroke of genius by Delta had me arriving in Buffalo at 1:10PM. And the whole purpose of my visit was for a wedding that started at 1PM. My mother-in-law yelled at Delta after learning this and got nothing but attitude back, including the gem "Well, if she doesn't like this new itinerary, she can fly back to Denver." I tried yelling at the Delta people and was told that every other flight to Buffalo on Friday was booked, including competitor comparably priced flights. When the Ice Queen Ticketing Agent brushed me off, while holding my bag hostage (they said I could get my bag, but it would take a lot of time and effort and would make it more difficult for me to get my bag on the right flight on Friday), I decided to just accept my fate of missing the wedding.

I should mention that I was hopped on Dramamine at the time. And the original formula to boot, not the non-drowsy one. I should also mention, to borrow a line from the fabulous movie Clueless, that I was surfing the crimson wave and all the various accoutrements necessary for such an occurrence were safely stashed in my bag. The one I couldn't get to. Not to mention the fact that my glasses were in there as well, right along with my contact solution. Were it not for a kind-hearted passenger staying at the Hilton with me that night, I would've been both blind and very unsanitary on Friday. As it was, I was only blind.

Fortunately, said kind-hearted passenger graciously offered to help me around Cincinnati so I didn't have to squint continuously. And it turned out she was on a 9:15 DIRECT flight to Buffalo. Funny how Delta had no problem getting her on that flight when it was supposedly booked for a piddly peon blind menstruating customer like myself. But, like the dutiful flier I am, I went right up to the gate for the Hated Flight to Buffalo Via Atlanta anyway. I asked the agent there about getting me on the 9:15 flight, prepared to do battle. The agent, however, took about ten seconds to confirm she could indeed get me AND my bag on that flight. And as she printed out my boarding card, I finally squinted at the letters behind her and realized I wasn't at the Hated Flight to Buffalo Via Atlanta Gate at all. I was at the Cancun gate. I almost asked to get on that flight instead.

So I made it to Buffalo by 11AM on Friday, raced to Mark's parents' place, hurried through a shower, and made it to the wedding on time. Where I had to last through a two-hour Catholic wedding on four hours sleep, a barely remembered breakfast (total cost of $12, and Delta only gave me a voucher for $4), and yet another dose of Dramamine pumping through my system. Life is never dull.

Oh, and guess how many empty seats I counted on that booked solid flight to Buffalo. Four. I don't know who at Delta decided to *#$% around with me on Thursday night, but he's going to be a character in a book who comes to a rather embarrassing and unfortunate end.