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The Lion's Den


Ook! Ook!


So I was chatting with my friend Andy the other night; talk turned to email and the internet (as it so often does) and he asked me, "So have you started a blog yet?" To which of course I had to admit that I have not - that in fact, I resist starting a blog simply because so many other people I know have one. It's sheer perversity. Plus, sez I, I have this page! Hmmm. Then it occurs to me I've only added to this slop heap once since I lost my job, and that was to publicly announce the fact that I'd stuck my hand in a moving blender.

And it's healing nicely, by the way! There's still a kind of grim looking scab on my finger right at the base of the nail, but I think that's not really so much a scab as just blood that got trapped under the cuticle when it was all bandaged up. The next day mom and dad came over, and mom gave me a cool bandaid with a shark on it. Dad gave his professional doctor opinion - "Looks fine" - right after he said, "She stuck her hand in the blender? Are you sure she's our child?" Mom, the only person I know whose capacity for ridiculous injury rivals mine, said "Actually, I'm pretty sure this proves it."

And in other news of the truly pathetic, Charles points out that I have been in this house a full year, and the only light switch plates and outlet covers which have been reinstated after painting are the 3 he himself kindly put up when he visited me last July. Sigh.


My friends know that I have a tendency toward embarassing personal injuries. They delight in reminding me of The Bagel Incident, The Flowerbox Pratfall, and the Toothpick Impalement. (And those are just from the last year or so. We needen't even go into my high school/college years, when the stupidity factor was even higher.) I have, yet again, provided them with fuel for the seemingly eternal flame....

Yes, it's true. I did stick my hand in the blender. In my own defense, let me say that the blender was OFF at the precise second when I decided to put my hand in to tamp the food down a bit. However, due to the vigilant presence of my other hand on the "pulse" button, it was suddenly ON again for one brief but important moment. Apparently I suffer from what they used to call in the old west an "ichy blender finger." So the blade caught the middle finger of my left hand, and had I been just a shade more unlucky I might have blendered it right off. As it was, I yanked my hand out of the blender and put it under a cold tap just in time for it to start bleeding like hell. I was terrified I'd actually partly severed it, my dad did that once to himself with a table saw and it was an awful mess.

But it seemed, when I finally could bring myself to check, that while the cut was deep and messy, the blade didn't actually cut through my fingernail so nothing was about to fall off. But the cut on either side of the nail bled so much that the 10 step trip to the bathroom to get toilet paper to wrap it in ended with me looking like Lady Macbeth, my hands full of blood and spatters all along the trail... By which time I'd calmed down enough to say, WOW. That was really STUPID!

Anyway, as I write this, it's been wrapped in gauze and tight tape for nearly 7 hours, and I haven't checked to see what it looks like. Frankly, I don't want to know. I've already been ridiculed (kindly, mind you) by my gaming group who came over for the dinner I nearly bled out into. I have to go to a family wedding tomarrow, and that'll entail another round of embarassing explanations. So really, all told, the week is ending on a high note.

And no, I don't have a new job yet. But my house is getting really clean!

IN MEMORIAM. May 31, 2002.

Let me say, first off, that I had a great Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to the efforts of Jeremy and his full powers of Annoyingness, I had decided to go to Madison for the annual sci-fi convention a bunch of us folks attend every year. (I had been resisting going, worrying about money issues and time off issues, etc. But Jeremy goaded me, with the able assistance of Alex. And Heather. And Erin. And so on.) At the last moment before departure, I found that my faithful 96 Saturn SL1 was making a mysterious brake-related noise; my parents generously loaned me their gigantic Toyota van, and the day was saved.

So I picked up Alex, and in conversation on our way to O’Hare to get Girl-Erin and Jeremy, Alex alluded to our return from the con on Monday. “Monday?” I said stupidly. “Monday?” I repeated, as I felt a cold slosh of ice water in the pit of my stomach. “Monday.... Oh god....” I had completely forgotten that this con goes Friday to Monday, not Friday to Sunday. Upshot being, that I was scheduled to work at noon on Monday; I was also scheduled to return Jeremy and Alex to Chicago that day. Bad. Very bad. Madison is at least 6 hours from Indianapolis. Extra super bad.

Setting badness aside, we made it up to Madison in good time, hooked up with Boy-Aaron, and I appropriated Jen’s husband’s unused registration pack, complete with nametag reading “Jeff.” (The high point of the weekend was playing movie charades at midnight Saturday, with a whole roomful of people encouraging me on by chanting “JEFF! JEFF! JEFF!” And Jeff won a bag of chocolate turtles.) Went to some good panels, one or two awful ones as usual, and saw Attack of the Clones for the second time. I liked it. I really, really liked it. Sure, you spend a good part of the movie wishing Anakin and Padme would just die, right there, and be replaced by better actors with more chemistry.... But it’s not going to happen, so we might as well cope. And the clones were cool. Soooooo cooool.......

So the solution to the Monday problem was that Jeremy would find his own ride back; Alex and I would rise at 5:15 am and head back to Chicago by 5:30. Naturally, we went to bed around 2. So on a refreshing 3 hours of sleep, I drove the 2.5 hours back to Chicago, deposited Alex in Lincoln Park, and drove 3.5 hours back to Indy, going straight to work without stopping at home. Got to work 10 minutes early, and spent the rest of the day trying not to fall asleep in the office.

That was the weekend. On Tuesday, I got my brakes fixed, to the tune of $300. When I returned to the store from picking up my car, the owner was waiting there for me to have a little chat with her. She took me for a walk, thanked me for my 14 years of faithful service, told me things were not working out lately, and fired me.

To understand this completely, you sort of have to know Kit. And you have to know me, but presumably you do or why are you reading this anyway? You probably know also that I have been slowly moving toward a career change, due to being fed up with retail, my salary, my lack of benefits other than basic health insurance, and my continual clashes with upper management on the best way to run a business. So yes, the end result is for the best--I am no longer obligated to keep the Game Preserve’s needs in mind while negotiating with new potential employers. I am free and clear, paid through the month of June, able to relax just a bit before plunging back into the workforce. And yet, I’m angry. I’m hurt. I got fired for a lot of reasons, but the main one was that my boss and friend, Kit, was unable to cope with the fact that I do not agree with her 100% of the time, and that I made my opinions known rather than just nodding and saying “Yes, Kit, of course you’re right.” (And for my part, I’m unable to cope with being snapped at whenever I’ve made a goof; sure I know it’s not personal, this is how she relates to everyone when she’s angry. But no one deserves to get snapped at regularly. It’s unprofessional, it’s unpleasant, and it provokes a visceral response of fear and anger which became harder and harder to supress over the last year.) Anyway, enough of that. Life goes on, with or without the Game Preserve.

IT'S THEM! May 6, 2002.

I had rushed back from Kalamazoo late Saturday so that I could spend all of Sunday doing yard work. I hadn't mowed the yard yet this spring, and in places the grass was well up my shins... not to mention the poison ivy, baby trees, and ubiquitous honeysuckle shrubs that plague my little half-acre of heaven. So I got up early, gassed up my dad's mulching mower (all praise the mulching mower! no bags to empty!) and plunged in.
Did the "front yard" with no trouble, which basically consists of about 15 square feet of grass. Then moved on to the south side of the house...and there was confronted with an ant colony approximately the size of Rhode Island. I mean, really--they've got little condos going up, For Sale signs all over the place--it's huge! Plus they appear to have annexed part of the canal bank, 20 feet away from their main outpost. Now, I don't really object to ants as a general rule; they don't give me the willies the way centipedes and spiders do. But as I carefully mowed around the mound (not wanting to stimulate them to pour out, en masse, and cover me and my mower in a tidal wave of irritated antdom) I was forced to recall a game we played in college on our little Mac SE's... It was part of the SIM series of games, which gave us SIM City, SIM Farm, SIM Earth--and SIM Ant. SIM Ant's plot was the same as all SIM plots: keep your subjects happy, keep growing, raise production. In addition, your black ants eventually went to war with the red ants in another part of the yard and (hopefully) destroyed them. But the last step of the game involved taking over the house--your goal was to drive the humans out of their own home by colonizing their walls and floors. Could this be my fate this summer? I am now eyeing the mound with fear and suspicion.


It's that time of year again... I headed up to Kalamazoo Friday for the annual Medieval Congress at Western Michigan University. I've never presented a paper there; the farther I get from grad school the less likely it becomes that I ever will, but that's frankly just fine. So why go, you ask? Got a gal in Kalamazoo? Ha--no. I wish. But somehow this little burp of academia in my life has become more necessary as the rest of my life has drifted in another direction. I want to reassure myself that I do, indeed, remember who Margery Kempe is, and why she's so annoying. I remember critical readings of texts, struggling to translate from the Latin while making it look smooth, the thrill of actually finding a mote of information in the middle of an otherwise obscure text that might actually pertain to my topic... Of course, I also go to remind myself why I did NOT choose this as a permanent career path. The really tedious papers (of which there were blessed few in my sessions this year,) and the tendency to make something out of nothing in order to have something to say are the hallmarks of the history PhD. "Shit! My paper is boring and makes no sense! Id better make something up as a diversionary tactic." The session I went to on Saturday afternoon was a good example of this, though not the best, as it was full professors rather than grad students doing the diverting. When grad students do it, it's funnier. Anyway, so I spent an hour and a half listening to an Englishman, a Welshman, two Americans, a New Yorker (who made a point of saying she didnt see herself as American) and a German national who teaches in England arguing rather vehemently about whether the term Celtic should be used when teaching students and writing papers. Its a generalization, of course--I do/did Celtic Studies and its a convenient way of avoiding saying "Scots-Irish-Welsh-Manx-Breton-and-sometimes-Cornish Studies." It's no more damaging or, to my mind, controversial than using the term Native American to describe a set of diverse cultures who were ethnically, geographically, and linguistically related. But you'd have thought from this discussion that Celtic was a term devised specifically by Satan himself to confuse and irritate scholars... Things like that make me appreciate retail just a tiny bit more.

POSTSCRIPT. May 2, 2002.

Reggie Miller is a god. It doesn't matter that we lost. We lost in double overtime, and Reggie is my hero.

SPORTING GOODS. April 30, 2002

So this evening we forwent our weekly gaming session in favor of going to a baseball game. Sure, we gamers got game! I brought my d-20's! Seriously, it was Penn Station night, we had 2-fer-1 tickets, and everyone seemed pretty enthused about going. by one....our players fell by the wayside. Stephen and Francie were closing on the house today. Steve doesn't really like baseball that much, Julie and the kids were tired (I'm guessin') and our commuter baseball freak, Bryan the Wookieman, utterly wussed out on us. (Hear that, Bryan? Wuss. Wussieman. Wusserpants. Just coz you couldn't leave Bloomington before 6:15... No excuse.) So I got there, and it was just Evan and Anne waiting, and I could see Anne's face fall as I hove into view. She's here, she thought to herself, dammit. Now I can't convince Evan to just go home... Sorry, Anne. I doomed you to two hours of 50 degree temperature and spattery raindrops--but it's baseball! It's minor league heaven! We're so close to the players you can hear 'em spit, we could be critically injured by a foul ball at any moment--I ask you, what could be better?

Basketball, that's what! After watching the Indians beat the Buffalo Bison 8-2, I made it home in time to watch the Pacers crush the Nets in Game 4 of the first-round playoffs. I haven't watched much b-ball this year, I'm still sorta sulking about the Pacers' trades in '01-'02--it's no longer the team I fell in love with. But damn! I could get to like Ron Artest. It could happen.


Yes, on Friday, It returned. It being the guy mentioned below in BATWATCH. His malign presence may become a regular pall on my Friday afternoons.... Actually my role as an Awful People Magnet was sharpened this week, I had rather a lot of practice. Why can't things like this go on your resume? "I've had a lot of experience not killing really annoying people. I feel this qualifies me for a position with your company."
In other news, I spent yesterday morning assisting in the murder of a dozen pecan trees, which had the misfortune to have been planted several years ago on the site of what is now the Rocky Ripple community garden. So our well-meaning community garden coordinators concocted a plan to move them to Peace Park (a great little park around the corner from me, with rough hewn playground equipment and lots of tree room.) Unfortunately, the volunteers on tree detail were inexperienced in tree transplantation techniques. I winced when the IUPUI frat guy next to me held up a tree with three inches of tap root and no dirt attached--"How's this?" Well, that's dead, basically. Three inches of tap root on a 6 foot sapling just seems a little, well....a little too little, you know? It's my suspicion that within a few months Peace Park will be totally pecan-free again. Nuts.


I'm cold. Those who know me know that I am frequently cold, when other people are comfortably warm... Yesterday, I wore a t-shirt, flannel shirt, and cardigan sweater over to Steve and Julie's, and I was still cold. They say, cold hands, warm heart - but what about cold everything? What does that mean? The weather's gone a bit chilly here, dropped back down to 40's over the weekend. Plus I'm in one of my moody moods lately, and to top it off have been having some pretty severe (for me) asthma in the mornings. So maybe my coldness resistance is down. I managed to force myself to brave the outdoor cold yesterday afternoon to plant morning glories along the front fence. Today we had a severe rainstorm which probably washed the little suckers right into the canal, as well as filling my car with water. (I knew it was going to rain. Did I close my car windows? No! Of course not. That would require connection of independent concepts, and right now I'm not in peak form on that.)

QUIZ FOR THE DAY: Name the mystery animal that leaped off the canal bank and into the water when I went out for my mail tonight. Was it A) A beaver? B) A muskrat? C) A duck? or D) A turtle? I have no idea, actually, it was pitch dark out and I was about 15 feet away when something hit the water that sounded like a cannonball. Then splashing, then silence. Usually ducks make irritable quacky noises when startled.... Muskrats are diurnal, but I guess I could have scared one that had settled in for the night... I don't really have a good turtle spot on my part of the bank.... Beavers have apparently been seen in my neighborhood, but that seems really unlikely. If it was a beaver, I wish he'd take down my mullberry tree before it flowers this spring.

NERD TALKIN'. April 20, 2002.

Sound the triumphal trumpets! Pour the ale! I actually did well in my first Warhammer tournament. For those who don't do games, this is toy soliders on a tabletop. Hills, valleys, trees, rivers, and little painted figures straight out of Lord of the Rings. Or in my case, more Hobbity. I have an army of little lead dwarves, painted by me; I have been painting them since I was in high school, but I hardly ever play games with the figures I paint. This year I had an epiphany--dumbass, I said to myself, why are you collecting all this junk and not actually DOING anything with it? So I decided to learn to play. And while the nuances of Warhammer rules still elude me, I managed to win both the games I played, plus a trophy for best painted army. So I went home happy. I've always had a thing for guys with beards....

BATWATCH. April 19, 2002.

After one of the most ungodly awful days at work I've had in a long time, I had one of the best evenings of my recent existance. Why was the day bad? It was bad in a way only people who've worked in the service industries (and particularly in a game store) can fully appreciate. We have a customer-who may be mildly mentally impaired-who has been coming in on a more and more regular basis to our Greenwood store. He has a favorite game. He likes to tell us about his favorite game. He likes to ask us why we don't play his favorite game in the store, in slightly beligerant tones. He likes to interrupt other customers talking to us about their favorite games to give a 5 minute presentation on his favorite game. You get the idea. Today was incredibly slow, so Ted and I were playing a game of Iron Dragon in the store after all the real work was done; annoying guy showed up and proceeded to talk about his favorite game. This is fine, it's expected. Then Jenna stopped by and said, "Ooo, Iron Dragon! Can I get in on the next game?" Sure, sez I--at which point annoying guy says, "All right!" grabs a chair, and sits down to intently watch me and Ted finishing our game. He waited a full hour for us to finish and Jenna to return. I won't got into details about the actual game, but needless to say it was excruciating. I have never been so glad to see 6 o'clock in my life.
So driving home, the whole 40 minutes I was going "I can't wait to be home, I can't wait to be home," like a sort of mutant Dorothy returning from a hellish retail version of Oz.... I pulled into my driveway, got out of the car... It's 70 degrees out, the sun is just starting to set, and there's lamb steaks marinating in the fridge. I start a fire in the grill, get a soda, and go out by the canal to watch the sun go down. Looking up as it gets dark, I can see a few bats fly overhead. I probably saw 5-6 of them (or 1 bat, 5 or 6 times--hard to be sure.) Think they are probably Little Brown Bats, there's only a couple kinds of bat in Indiana and that's the common one. So that was great, I sat at my picnic bench waiting for the steaks to be done and soaking in the night air. The steaks were perfect. The evening made up for the day, in every way. More evenings like this, and I could handle the day to day rigors of game goobers...