Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monsters and Angels

The title is only because a song has been running through my head for a week - despite not having actually heard it in over a decade. And because I could think of no appropriate title. Perhaps one will come to me, and this whole paragraph will have to be deleted. Perhaps not.

Warning: This post is rambly, slightly graphic, and potentially entirely nonsensical. Read at your own peril.

My brother manages a small fleet of semi-drivers. They are a company operation, and recently had a company meeting several hours away from their home base. My brother sent a driver to the meeting, and on the way home the driver pulled to the side of a major interstate freeway in his rig, and killed himself. The company (and therefore my brother) did not have a lot of information about the incident, though they had been concerned at the driver's five day absence from work.

This is what boggles me the most about this incident. The truck sat on the side of this major interstate, high traffic corridor, for five days. And no one stopped. Not another rig, not a random passenger vehicle, not the Highway Patrol for the area. Five days, and no one noticed this semi truck sitting in the same place, day after day as they drove from one place to another, talking on their cell phones, daydreaming about dinner, chatting up the vacation plans to be implemented upon arrival to wherever.

I didn't know the driver, my brother lives in another state after all, and we have never been overly close. But that isn't the point, is it? How many times have I driven past a car on the side of the road thinking 'oh, everyone has cell phones, I am sure help is on the way'? How much time would I truly lose by stopping and offering a hand? What is the world coming to when no one does?

When I blew a tire out on a deserted road at midnight a couple of years ago, I stood there, a woman, in the light of my own car's headlights in the snow, and watched two highway patrol cars speed past along with a long stream of other cars. I was near tears when someone finally did stop. A minivan. With two men in it who hopped out together to ask what I needed, where I was going (I had at that point decided to stick my thumb out in hopes someone would stop for a hitchhiker who would not stop for a broken car, funny how that works). They were my lifesavers that night, possibly literally. They let me use a cell phone, and I called the closest friend who could come help, and they came, and we all went home happy.

I spent perhaps 30 minutes alone on the side of that road, no more. And yet it was terrifying, it was an eon of scariness and despair. And yes, I was terrified when these nice young men hopped out of their car - I am a woman of a certain age, and I was taught to be terrified, to never talk to strangers, never stop on the freeway, never trust strange men who stop to help you.

Is this why no one stopped to find my brother's worker? Because that's how we were raised? If so, how sad we are as a nation, as humanity. There is no kindness in strangers anymore, because strangers are afraid of one another. This is what kept me from sleep last night, and what makes me want to put my head on my desk and cry today.

I won't though, because I know that there are monsters and angels, and that each comes by turns in a well-balanced world. I can't really change that, but I can try to be the right thing at the right time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The I inside

With apologies to Mr. Heinlein...

Loyal reader Marie did not so much ask as declare in the comments that 'You are so Not an I!'. I have spent the better part of the week mulling this over, since according to Meyers and Briggs (the full 500 question scantron test, not the abbreviated ones you can find on the internet) it is something I scored very high on in High School. THe F and the P, they were a little bit more of a 'win by a nose' thing. However, even more recent abbreviated tests show an extreme N-ness.

However, this post is about the Introversion. Which, I admit, has crept closer to a dead heat over the years, mostly by great effort. What I think that Miss Marie sees is the end result of that great effort - the fact that I deal well on a superficial level with people in a structured environment. (In other words - I can sell me some yarn and teach classes and be charming on a limited scale in order to do those things.)

And I am certainly extroverted and even mildly entertaining enough in a party/gaming convention/etc setting. So, what garners me that I rating from those respected test writers? Simply put, the MBTI measures internal responses and though processes. The type indication is a preference indicator, a measurement of 'how we like to interact with the world', not neccesarily how we actually interact with the world.

I am a huge fan of A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh series, most particularly a fan of the 'Very Small Animal' that is Piglet. Piglet, he has an understanding about the world - a certain timidity that I can relate to, a self-doubt that could be paralyzing if it were simply allowed to be. THe trick is in disallowing, in girding your loins and going bravely forth into the scary environment. For me, a scary environment is pretty much anything with a faint whiff of social uncertainty.

If you do not suffer from this internal introversion, coupled with the deep desire to be with people and enjoy social events....It is like a roller coaster ride in many ways. Not one of the new fangled fancy ones, but the old, creaky, wooden kind, with the very long hill at the beginning. And all the creaking and clattering and clanking that makes your heart start to pound in anticipation of the free fall on the other end - knowing that the loops and spins and falls will be fun and exhilirating, but also terrified of their presence.

The introverted part - that's the long ride upwards. I spent two weeks fretting and stressing and cancelling my plans in my head before going to Conquest, imagining a mass gamer-shunning, being hated for cancelling that first year, for the other things that happened then (Or were rumored to have happened, even worse!), etc, etc. I thought up a hundred Very Bad Things that could happen, and buried my head under the covers and came >< close to not going at all.

But this year is the year of living dangerously for me - the year that I don't let that happen. The year that I do go and join a gym alone, I do go to the theater or concert I want to see, and so what if noone else I know wants to go? The year I don't cancel dinner plans, or working conventions, or...whatevers. Its difficult, but the rewards are so great (Better body, less asthma medication, good theater, great music, and, best of all, people. New people, old people refound...) that I cannot bear to let that long slow ride upwards defeat me.

But I am still an I. Because I still want to crawl under the covers and hide instead of taking the risk. I don't think that will ever change...and that's okay. I'm learning to beat down the hiding instinct, to go forth boldly and have fun, dammit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

By the pricking of my thumb...

So last week, it was 105 degrees Fahrenheit up here in the Great Hot North of California. This week, it is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sky looks like something out of 'Something Wicked this Way Comes'. And so Fall begins in earnest. I have spent the better parts of the last few days in a daydreamy, whimsical, wanderlusty state as my favorite season has descended rather abruptly into my little corner of the world.

It happens this way every year - I can look in all the diaries and journals (online and off) that I have kept over the last mumblesomething years, and the theme is there. Suddenly, Fall hits, and there are seventy billion and one entries on leaves skirling, and rain falling, and the scent of woodsmoke, and the way sunsets are so much more spectacular when there are clouds, and....

Did I happen to mention that Fall is my favorite season? I think I might have before setting off on that purple prose journey, but I think it bears a little bit of extra mentioning. I love Fall. I love the turning of leaves (please let the wind not be so bad this week that I am deprived of full leaf turning), the smell of rain, a fire in the fireplace (I much prefer them there than in the neighbors field, yes, yes), fresh homemade hot cocoa...

It is the time of year that I look forward to the most, and it is where I am at my most restless. Fall comes, the air changes, and I fantasize about globetrotting trips, hiking in the wilderness, gallivanting about some distant city...heck, I fantasize about just getting in the car and driving until it is out of gas.

With Fall comes, as well, a sudden bout of knitter's startitis. I begin to covet, to hoard yarn, to loathe whatever thing is on my needles (Oh, Arwen! You are so very close to done...) and yearn to start every darn sweater I lay my beady little eyes on. I am being loyal though, this time. This year, I am finishing (no, really, don't faint.) Arwen, and dragging out the winter 2005 project from Cheryl Oberle that only has 1.5 sleeves to be done.

Does that mean I"m not starting things? Heck no! I'm casting on a red scarf in Nikko's Red Scarf Project's name. I'm also starting the tangled yoke sweater from Interweave Fall. But not until Arwen is done. And mom's birthday scarf. Really. I promise. Well, maybe a swatch isn't cheating....

Friday, September 14, 2007

What I did on my Blogger vacation

It occurred to me that you all might be wondering what became of that almost-year. So, some highlights:

  • Attended a housewarming party in a barn. (No snickering, I live in ranchland!) It was held for our 'across the street' neighbor, and his two brothers' significant birthdays. I didn't get all the appropriate details. But I did get some delicious food (Very nicely marinated Bambie and Grilled corn, yummers!), some very nice wine (and a very very nice whiskey called Elijah something or other), and met some really way cool people.

    Also, I stayed at the party after my parents left. You all might not be aware of my extreme INFP personality with a huge ol' emphasis on the 'I', but....I stayed at a party, with only vague acquaintances (mom's coworkers) and people previously unknown to me. For several hours. And shhh.....don't tell my inner introvert, but I had fun. And, not to make a huge deal out of this one lonely event in the year or anything, but I got to dance. With people who know how(Aged 20something (slightly spastic and a bit more East Coast than Western, but I is not fussy) to 80something (Very sweet, dancing in his tennis shoes, and not-so-much swing, but hey, he's 80)), and are not my Father.... For several hours. We shall not discuss how this particular portion of the event made me realize the following interesting personality quirks:

    1. I can Western Swing quite well, thankyouverymuch.
    2. I can only do #1 with a Very Strong Lead. Otherwise, I am craptastic and trying to lead and step on my partner. Or frustrate them, which might explain some other things about my life.
    3. Yes Dad, that means you were right all these years, and its a darn good thing you don't read blogs, or I'd get the 'I told you so!' lecture. Again. :)

  • Joined a Gym. This is a Big Deal, since the last time I attempted such a thing, I wound up paying for a gym membership for two years and going like...twice. This time around, I have gone. I joined classes! (Please see above introvert notes) I do yoga 'for real'. Most of you who read this will know that I have tried to 'do yoga' for several years. With books. Not so much the same as having the amazing awesomeness of a real life instructor who takes the time to come around and fix your positioning. I lift weights....a thing I swore off back in the old High School swim team days. (And I get excited when I got up to 35lbs on the bench press...again, no snickering!)

  • I have had much ranch sportiness. This includes:
  1. Riding horses on trails, in the arena, etc.
  2. Running the roping chute for the parentals and friends to rope cattle.
  3. Herding cattle on horseback (And on foot when my horse gets cranky.)
  4. Shooting guns. This one perhaps requires some explanation, because some of you just went all slack jawed and gapey. Yesyes, I am still me. I live on a ranch. With coyotes who eat cats. And rattlesnakes who bite cats (And dogs, and horses, and maybe me). There are guns on the ranch. For purposes of ridding it of the above. I had /no idea/ how to handle a gun. This is a potentially dangerous situation. I am still sometimes stupid in my handling of them, but at least I am learning. In specific, I shot skeet with my aunt's rifle at Thanksgiving. I do not think I actually hit a skeet thingy, but hey. I learned how to handle a longarm. So good. At Easter, I learned how to shoot a pistol, which is much more 'fun', and it turns out, I am better at. I shot Mom's 357. And hit my target on shot 2. Hit where I was aiming on shot 4. Apparently, this is very good, so I will brag slightly. Bragbrag, yay me. Last night (so technically not during vacation at all, but whatever) I learned how to shoot a little air gun pistol. This was very very cool. Mostly because it is small, very lightweight, and does not kick back like the others do. Also, slightly less dangerous. In short, a good way to learn how to aim, pull trigger properly, etc...especially since it can be shot now without risk of lighting our property on fire, unlike the other things. It is something easier for me and the motherly one to handle when there is a rattlesnake threatening the cat under the deck next time, so, it is good and important to learn to aim and handle. And....its much fun.

That's it. Really, not much to report in a whole 11 months....there was more, of course, but it was mostly boring and involved work, and ranch work, and work. My brother and his wife visit often now that he is no longer ignoring us, and he has turned out to be not as much of a jerk. This is also a good thing, but not entirely worthy for blog fodder. ;)

Do comment so I know I'm not talking to myself, too. Not that I mind talking to myself, heh.

Friday, September 07, 2007

'Tis the season

No, no, not for 'Santa Claus and Hohoho and presents for pretty girls'*, though someone needs to tell the catalog companies that, they are already overflowing the mailbox. Here in the lovely North State, it is that most dreaded of seasons for allergy sufferers, asthmatics, and wildlife. Fire season. That space between summer and fall when the storms start to wander in without enough rain, and too much wind and the seared grasses light at the barest kiss of lightning.

It is the season of blood red suns at rising, at waking to blood in your throat and eyes that feel like sandpaper. This year, we don't have the great smouldering next door, but the smoke from more distant fires still lies thick and greybrown over the property.

It is the season of scratchy throated cranky lethargy. I think I need to find an inhaler before the gymkhana** this weekend.

Oh, yes, and the more astute of you (Well, that would be all three of you, woulnd't it?) will have figured out by now that this is no longer strictly a knitting blog. I decided that was part of the whole 'no posts for a year' problem - I didn't write what I felt like writing unless I had enough knitting content to qualify. And I never have enough knitting to qualify after I've read the other knitbloggers. So...welcome to my brain. :)

* Schultz, Charles' character Lucy, explaining Christmas to Schroeder.
** AKA Barrel racing. But I am entering the walk/trot class, cuz I is chicken. Bwak!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back to School

Today is the first day of my last semester of college. At least, for the incredibly long overdue bachelor's degree. It is entirely likely that I will return for something with more letters attached to it in the nearish future.

Its a little scary, the end of school looming on the horizon like, well, like something large and scary looming on the horizon. Anyway, its funny, a year ago at this time, it felt like I was doing something. Taking charge of my life. Moving forward. And so on. I am woman, rawr, or whatever.

Now, its almost done, and I find I am casting about again for the next big step. Great, I'll have a nice little degree. Now what? Do I truly want to go on with this career? Training an ending parade of snot nosed teenagers, overly pompous PhDs, cocky computer geeks? Maybe. That part of the job is tolerable. It the endless stream of paperwork produced by these folks that is tedious and soul draining. Meh.

Plus side of last semester - first class is Marketing.

Down side of last semester - I wholly dislike the professor's teaching style.

Wish me luck. And, you know, if you have a lead on a good lecturing / convention organizing job that pays relatively decent know where to find me.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back In the Saddle

Metaphorically speaking, of course, I am in a saddle with too little frequency, but often enough for it not to be a blogworthy event.

What I really mean is..I worked at my first gaming convention in almost two years this past weekend. You might wonder why anyone would spend their Holiday weekend working without being forced to do so, but by now if you read this little ramble of mine, you should know I am not entirely defined by normalcy. ;)

So, I returned to my 'other' hobby for the weekend, and re-acquainted myself with old friends from the industry. I also met a few new potential friends, which was a wonderful added bonus. :)

It was a fabulous time, and I am very glad I went. I was reading someone or other last week, I think Crazy Aunt Purl, but dont' go and quote me on that or anything. At any rate, she was talking about how sometimes, you do things because the SO does them, and yes you like them, but maybe that thing isn't really 'you' in the full sense of the word, if you know what I mean. She used the example of a friend who basically listened to whatever music her SO of the moment listened to. And I nodded my head at the screen and said, 'yesyes, I do this.' And 'Oh crap, what if I am not, in fact, a gamer at all?! Aiiie. What if I go, and everyone knows this, and mocks me, and....' Okay, so I got a little melodramatic.

Of course, when I was a younger thing, I played games when I could find people to play them with me, I read 'choose your own adventure' books. I cut my literary teeth on Asimov, Heinlein, and McCaffery. And yet, and yet...what if this whole gaming thing was /his/ thing? And I was only doing it because, well, that's what a wife does?

This weekend I realized that I was not, in the words of one attendee/friend 'Just a gamer wife type'. I am a gamer. Yes, and all the geekynerdiness that that entails. WHEW! And thank goodness, and all manner of other cheesy cliches that could be spewed around about this point.

OH, and yes, I did get knitting in. I am now exactly >< close to finishing the Cardigan for Arwen that was started last winter. Perhaps in time to wear it /this/ winter.

Someday, I will load pictures from the camera and show y'all some pictures of knitted projects, and things like the great coyote hunter cat series, and etc. Don't anyone go holding their breath though.