The Empty House

August 30, 2014 :: 1:27 PM

i don’t know why i am smiling, but i’ll have you know it feels so good

*sigh*

It’s been a long few weeks.

The Apache-sized hole in our lives hasn’t begun to shrunk yet and it was really noticeable yesterday. I had a half day, so I was alone in the house for several hours before J & Guinness got home. It was pretty traumatic. I kept looking for him, listening for his bark or his tags jingling, just those little things that remind you you’re not alone in the house.

——

I decided to rework UkieGirl to make it easier to have a photo gallery. I’m using a stock template and another tutorial. (I HATE the new Expression Engine - there’s just enough that is different and it’s tripping me up left and right.) It’s nt anywhere close to being done yet, but in the meantime, for a quick break, I did redo the current blog to combine some “channels” and add some more navigation. There may be errors. I don’t care. It’s not like the blog is getting any traffic right now.

I’m a little pissy about the half-reboot because I asked for help on combining the channels and all I got in the EE forums was BS. I responded to the first answer I got with basically, “I don’t know what the fuck you mean. I know it’s not as easy as you make it sound. I have [boring tech shit here].” The response I got to that made my blood boil. That same unhelpful person wrote back, “Well, I guess you need to research how channels work.”

ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS, DUDE?

I’ve been using EE since it was in fucking BETA. I have googled what I’m looking for. More importantly, I only post questions to the forum when I’m really confused and want my hand held. Smart ass answers help NO ONE.

I couldn’t even respond to his post, I was so angry. I even ended up unsubscribing to my own thread. I don’t want to know what other brilliant answers are out there.

——

While I’m on the topic of things I’m probably over-reacting to, let’s talk about Soulmate Boy.

He had been doing fairly well in a halfway house and being a productive member of society while he counted down the days remaining on his sentence. His wife decided to divorce him (which is not my story to tell, but I totally saw that coming.) After threatening to commit suicide several months ago, and creating all kinds of havoc in my life. I mean SERIOUS HAVOC, he wound up back in prison, in a mental health ward.

I fought with J because of him. I never fight with J. It’s probably due to the dynamics of the fact that he’s the youngest and I’m an only child… I’ll leave that for the shrinks to decide. The fact remains that we argued quite a bit over the things I was promising SB to get him to calm down and think rationally. I meant every single one of those promises and I was going to deliver on every single one J would agree to.

Finally, we negotiated down to adding him to our cell phone plan. In March. Before he got locked up again.

He wouldn’t write me directly, choosing instead to dictate letters to me through his mother. I got email after email after email begging me to get him a damn cell phone.

Did I mention he wasn’t going to be free / able to use a cell phone until August 18th? This shit started in MARCH.

We went and upgraded our iPhones, looked at new plans, looked at phones for him, etc. If the girl at the AT&T store hadn’t been such a fuckhead, I probably would have had every thing all set for him. In July. When I got sick of the bullshit. (And did I mention, he had to have a CT phone number because he was afraid that a NH number would violate his probation or some such shit? So, that added an extra layer of bullshit to deal with. We live in NH. My account is in NH. Getting a CT number required some work.)

The very next day, I got an email from his mom telling me he convinced his aunt to get a cell phone. Supposedly, she didn’t know about him begging the aunt.

My blood literally started to boil. My heart acted up. I was unable to calm down.

I just couldn’t believe how selfish he was. I was going to lose my AWESOME cell phone plan (unlimited data, text, voice, iPad, roaming, etc) because we were adding a line and that plan wasn’t offered any more. Granted, in the end, it became a moot point, but for fuck’s sake what if the girl at the AT&T store hadn’t pissed me off? I’d have an extra phone, an extra line, and a shitty plan because of him.

I’m still angry thinking about it, and it’s been almost two months.

The other night, I was watching a Queer as Folk episode where Ted is pissed off at the gang for some reason or another. (I don’t remember the episode and I turned it on halfway through, so forgive my vagueness.) Ted’s friend, Blake, runs into Michael and Ben at the gym and says, “You’re a reflection of those things that he wants to forget. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about you.”

And holy shit. Light. Fucking. Bulb.

I only have two words: Windsor Locks.

Again, probably not my story to tell, but the highlights include a midnight phone call, and hour drive to an apartment complex, and a threat of attempting suicide.

I think you can put the pieces together.

He’s definitely a reflection of those things I want to forget… I need to forget Windsor Locks. While the details are hazy, the emotions are very much there. Very powerful. Very unforgettable.

Let’s put it this way, if I ever needed to learn the Ukrainian word for suicide (самогубство), his face would be my mnemonic device.

To put it in psychological terms, he is a trigger. A trigger for all the bad things I am capable of. For all the bad things my body can do. (Dude… thank Dog for my heart pills or I would have gone to the ER that afternoon.)

I need to walk away, but because I do care, it’s hard to stay away. We’ve been doing this stupid dance for decades now. If I don’t find him, he finds me.

Right now, he’s on my facebook restricted list but I’m about an hour away from defriending him and blocking his new phone number. If he tried to email me, I’d even report him as spam.

I just can’t have him in my life any more… and every one says, “Oh, if he’s that toxic, dump him.” Then, I tell them about the blocking and the spam reporting, and I get told I’m overreacting. The only way to remove him from my life is to really ensure he can’t find me.

Obviously, there aren’t any easy answers where he’s concerned, and there never have been.

——

In happier news, I officially own my car.

I now have only one car in my life that I’ve never held the title to.

Most of the time, I get the title and trade the car in, but I really don’t want a car payment right now. Maybe I can frame my title and use it as inspiration to save the $24K that firm is going to charge me to get a Ukie passport. *grin*

OK. Enough stalling…  back to terrible 80s horror flicks and html.


Life lessons learned from Doctor Who

August 24, 2014 :: 9:13 PM

you definitely need a hand to hold

The best part of a new series of Doctor Who is the never-ending deluge of NewWho episodes in the days and nights leading up to the premiere. (Well, at any rate, it’s better than seeing a never-ending list of ST:TNG episodes in the TiVo menu.)

Tonight, we watched “Vincent and the Doctor”. (I’ve blogged about my love of this episode before.)

It’s kind of timely… for me at least. And here’s why:

Robin Wiliams committed suicide. It was all over the news. It sparked discussions about depression. Both good and bad.

Maybe you have to be clinically depressed/suicidal to understand why someone who seemingly had it all would kill themselves… but if you don’t, take a lesson from Eleven’s time with Van Gogh:

At the end of the episode, the Doctor brings Vincent to Paris in 2010 so that he can see the exhibit about his art. In front of Vincent, Eleven asks the curator his opinion on Van Gogh. The curator says, “To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Think about that for a minute.

One hundred and twenty years after he kills himself, Van Gogh is brought to Paris to see a celebration of his art, hears that he is the world’s greatest artist, and it isn’t enough for him. He still kills himself when he is returned to his own time. He still kills himself, fully aware of what people think of his art, of HIM, a century later.

Did you catch that, internet?

All the love and admiration in the world, and it wasn’t enough to free Van Gogh of his demons.

So why should Robin Williams be any different, huh?

(And yes, I know the difference between fiction and real life, but in this case? Not such a big stretch.)


Bye, Poo

August 10, 2014 :: 8:13 PM

Friday AM while I was getting ready for work, Apache scared the shit out of me and we made an unplanned trip to the vet.

He was having massive trouble breathing, and she was able to hear it. She was concerned but thought she could bring him out of it. I was ready to let him go then, but she pointed out that he did have some other health issues we’ve been working on and to just give it time. They sedated him in an effort to relax him so he wasn’t breathing so hard. (The harder he tried to breathe, the less air he got, the harder it was to breathe…)

We brought him home, with a fresh batch of scripts, and hoped for the best.

It didn’t get better and at 1AM Saturday, we brought him to the emergency vet and said our good-byes.

Apache was a weird dog. He was a lot of work. He was an asshole when he wanted to be.

He was nothing like Arsey, yet I think the hole he’s leaving in our lives is much bigger than the one she left.

Rest in peace, Apache. We’re going to miss you a whole metric-fuck-ton.


We are all different people, all through our lives.

August 03, 2014 :: 3:06 PM

my current desktop on the macbook

This is all the Pronunciation Platypus’s fault.

I stopped stalling and started researching what I needed to do regarding moving forward with the claim for Ukrainian citizenship.

Found a law firm with offices in both Moscow (yuk) and Ukraine that handles citizenship. After a few emails were exchanged, it was decided that for the low, low price of 18,000 euros, I could hire them to do the legal bullshit. Three to five months of paperwork wrangling, I get to keep my US Passport, and I get to pay in two easy instalments of 9,000 EUR.

With the exchange rate today, that’s $24K. I don’t have $24K.

I feel better about life in general after receiving this news, but a little discouraged by the price tag.

Oh well. There are other law firms. Right?

Getting my MBA will be equally expensive, but more rewarding… might be time to suck it up and go back to school.

——

I went to a book signing last Thursday - Benny Lewis was promoting his new book, “Fluent in Three Months” (named after his popular blog.)

There weren’t many of us there - maybe seven, tops - so it was more of a hang around and chat sort of thing. He’s an awesome guy. Really sweet and he does seem to genuinely care about our language learning journeys. He and I talked in-depth for a bit about the challenges of finding a good teacher, life on italki, and how much memrise fucking rocks.

His book came into my life at a good time and he really reignited my language learning spark… I’d been so down on myself about wasting my 30 hours and my never ending struggle with the vocabulary, that it was nice to stumble upon a book that gave me new ideas on how to get started. And, yes, I bought the actual book. Found it when I was looking for a new, updated, Ukrainian-English dictionary and a newer version of Colloquial Ukrainian. I could find both of those things on Amazon, but we were at Barnes and Noble because I was desperate to walk amongst the shelves. Every once in a while, I need a book. A real paperback book. I love my Kindle, but part of me will always be a little old-fashioned.

Since I read the book for the third time - I always find something new and inspiring - I started getting up early to do a few exercises and make breakfast. Eventually, I hope to add jogging or some sort of workout (WiiFit?), to my morning routine. Why I couldn’t do this with my wicked expensive tutor? I have no fucking idea. I’m doing it now though… and I suppose that’s what matters.

I spent hours yesterday combing through blogs Benny recommended in his weekly newsletter and I have more ideas on how to move forward.

I just hope I can get through a decent conversation by September…


Trying to breathe

July 20, 2014 :: 11:29 AM

dancers, suzy-q, 12.07.14

First, let’s get the unpleasant stuff out of the way…

I have been keeping an eye on what’s going on in Ukraine to the point where I know what’s going on over there better than I do what’s going on in my own country. (Selfishly, yes, because their joining the EU and introducing visa-free travel is important to me, assuming I can gain citizenship. Hey, at least I’m honest.)

I have to say, I’ve been blown away by Putin’s actions since February. He knew he was losing Ukraine to the West, so he wigged out and tried to distract them. Call it a simple view of a complex problem, OK? The fact that he went after an area that was where his naval base is located was pretty obvious, but didn’t seem as important as his insistence on protecting “ethnic Russians”. I’m sorry, but that’s like Ireland invading Boston to protect “ethnic Irish people”. From what I can tell, he was “leasing” the area the Russian Navy was using from the Ukrainians. If they joined the West, he might have lost that. The rest of it? Pure bullshit.

This thing with the Malaysian aeroplane being shot down? Until it is proven otherwise, I firmly believe that Russia was behind it. There’s too many coincidences, the main one being that there was a missile being fired at a plane in an area where several planes had already been attacked. Plus, it’s not like Putin hasn’t (allegedly) been behind the killing of innocent civilians to get what he wants. (“According to the theory, the bombings were a successful coup d’état organised by the FSB to bring future Russian president Vladimir Putin to power. Some of them described the bombings as typical “active measures” practised by the KGB in the past.”)

I need to stop now before I go on an incoherent rant. I can’t stand getting into political discussions because I become all passion and less fact (even if I know exactly what I’m talking about before I start.)

——

In other unpleasant news, our old man has been having problems breathing. It’s to the point where I’m cancelling plans just so I can have as much time with him as possible.

The problems are intermittent and it’s been very hard to find a pattern, but when they happen they’re fucking scary as fuck. Our vet has seen him three times, we did a trip to the Emergency Vet, and we’ve even brought him to a ‘specialist’. While they couldn’t agree on the best course of action, and were not quite sure what it was being caused by, we finally landed upon a diagnosis: laryngeal paralysis. Basically, his larynx isn’t working as well as it should be and it’s blocking his airway. Once it gets bad enough, our only option is surgery. Aussies live anywhere from 12 - 20 years depending on who you talk to, and Apache is 13. Arsey died a few days before she turned 13, so to say we’re worried is an understatement. I don’t want to subject him to surgery if we don’t have to, but I don’t want him to essentially suffocate, either.

It’s not been pleasant, to say the least.

We’ve started with little things: keeping the house cool so he doesn’t overheat and pant is the main one and seems to be working well, even though it’s 100 degrees outside and the humans are bundled up in blankets when we’re home. The other big thing we did was invest in the best vacuum we could find. I did a shit ton of research before we invested in a Dyson Animal. (We paid a metric fuck ton to get the version with all the extra attachments, too so we didn’t have any excuses not to dust.)  Arsey was allergic to pet dander (YES! She was basically allergic to herself.), so trying to keep the master bedroom spotless is a priority since that’s where a lot of the problems occur. The amount of dog dander in there is probably unhealthy… despite our best efforts, we have trouble keeping the room clean. Two dogs’ll do that to you.

To get back on topic:

After dropping $700+ on a vacuum - dude, my dad would keel over dead if he wasn’t already at the price - I was hoping it would live up to the hype. It sucked up like 10 canisters of fur and dust. Our 10+ year old Hoover used to get overheated, blocked, or otherwise useless after the first five minutes. I ran that damn thing for half an hour and the carpet probably has more shit in it, but I got grossed out. Seriously, the fur situation in the bedroom was so bad, the Wonder Hubby used to take the dog’s brush and literally brush the fur out of the carpet, just like it was the dogs’ undercoat.

We also bought a second fan for the bedroom. It seems that the combination of a VERY clean carpet, fresh sheets and the extra fan to move the air around worked well last night. He didn’t wake me up with his wheezing and the room smelled better than it had in a very long time. It wasn’t nearly as stuffy as it gets, either, so BONUS! All this to say, our life is about to become housecleaning hell, but it’s worth it. HE’S worth it.

Damn dogs and their short life expectancies.

——

In happier news, I took over 1,100 pictures at Ukie Fest last weekend.  I couldn’t get through them all, but I got a few great shots of the dancers. There was guy sitting in front of us who kept moving so I lost a bunch of shots because the camera would autofocus on him. I tried to focus the lens on one point and switch it to manual but it didn’t work well with the dancers.

I had what we jokingly called “Ukrainian-American Tourette Syndrome” - I kept yelling out the Ukrainian words that I knew. I struggled a lot and I didn’t find anyone to talk to. It was obvious we didn’t belong there - Suzy-Q is a resort and the same families have held court there for generations. I know that much from what I heard growing up… and I lost my rightful place when my mother stopped going. My proudest moment was when I bought a patch for my GORUCK Radio Ruck and the guy told me how much my purchase came to. I also said “дякую” about a thousand times. Good practice, if nothing else, for a word I struggle with. (I blame the fact that the ‘y’ is pronounced ‘oooo’ - it’s something I consistently stumble over, no matter how many fucking words it’s in.)

While I’m STILL not where I want to be with the language, I wasn’t nearly as miserable as I was in 2009. I’m making strides to regain what I lost, and I can’t be upset over that. I’m proud that I understood about half of what I heard, even if I struggle to say what’s on my mind.

——

There’s some stuff going on at work that I can’t talk about online, but it’s making me miserable, too.

I can’t escape the situation because of my position in the company, but I did discuss it with one of the people involved.

Will it change things?

I don’t know…

I going to stay with the company long enough to have them pay to get me out of the US, but once I start the Ukrainian citizenship ball rolling, I may lose that patience. That’s probably why I’m stalling on requesting the birth certificates…

Right now, I struggle to find my happy at work, and I don’t want to be unhappy there.

——

Life goes on - I’m working with Memrise, trying to stay active on italki, and failing miserably at both..

I’m writing my Drarry fan fic and while draft FIVE is still not behaving, I’m happier with this version of the characters. Are they still out of character? Yep. But they’re still close to my head canon, so I’m going with it.

Yesterday was both Benedict Cumberbatch and Jared Padalecki’s birthday. It sounds weird to say this, but both men changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. At the very least, meeting C & L at Supernatural’s BosCon got me hooked on tumblr and (re)introduced me to fan fic… which then - after travelling a very long and windy road - led to me become a ‘published’ author of Benedict Cumberbatch character focussed fiction.

It also led me to attempting GISHWHES twice. I’m forever changed by those experiences as well…

However, it’s heartwarming to be part of such wonderful fandoms. I know I’ve said this before: the SPN fandom may be as dysfunctional a family as they come, but I feel more at home with them as I had with my own family. And the Cumbercollective? Same thing. SuperLock forever, bitches!

OK… I need to stop stalling.

Off to spend time watching a bunch of language videos I bookmarked but haven’t set aside the time for. Seems like the best way to spend a Sunday…

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