Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Book Budget

I give plasma to supplement my budget for food, which usually gets diverted to my budget for buying books. It's an unnatural habit, I know. lol Today, the wait for giving plasma was surprisingly long. I read half of my new book The Princess of Landover by Terry Brooks. Nothing is better in this world than summer time reading, no matter where you find the time to enjoy it at!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Tale of my Lost Package: A Lesson in Communication and Management Skills

So, I ordered something off of recently. It's a package that I'm pretty excited to get and really hoped it would travel quickly to my abode. It got stuck in New Berlin, Wisconsin, for one whole day (came in at 5AM and left at 9PM) and Madison, Wisconsin, for another day (came into shipment at 5AM yesterday and didn't leave on the truck until 9AM today). I can understand, sort of, how the process could be slower than I'd like. It must take a lot of time and sorting to get things on the proper trucks and to the proper places. Such delays I can handle.

Tonight, though, I discover my apartment management has locked my package away! It doesn't fit in our crummy old mailboxes and neither do most letters or magazines. The package was taken to the office of the apartment management company across the street. They then in turn lock it in a room under the stairs. I can get into the building with the same door code as my building (all of their buildings use the same code). I assumed that the room would open with the "building key" that I have. It seems like a common practice to have a building key that opens community spaces to paying renters. This key opens all the laundry rooms in this company's apartments and so forth for us. Alas, there is only one key for the package room which belongs in the office and is not even close to being the building key. This really shouldn't be too big of a problem, just go to the office tomorrow when they open, right? Except the office is open for only a few short hours in the middle of the day. They keep worse hours than the bank! Opening at 9:30AM wouldn't be so bad if they stayed open until later in the evening. However, they close at 5PM. I, like a normal adult, work all day. I leave shortly after 9AM and get home after 7PM. I've tried calling them over my one hour lunch break, but that's when they go on lunch. Impossible, I tell you, impossible!!!

Communication has been rough with this management group my whole lease period. I'm going home for the weekend and won't be able to get there until next friday during their hours if I can't get it before leaving. I decided to try and call the emergency number. Yes, I know it's not an emergency, but it was worth a shot. A very nice gentlemen from a different management company answered and looked into finding a solution for me. His supervisor said it wasn't an emergency so I'd have to call the office number. I know my generation is slow, but I'm not so stupid that I wouldn't have called that number if it would have helped. The office not being open was part of my problem. So, the phone guy called the manager for me. He unfortunately had to call me back with the response. The manager said that if I had called in advance and worked something out it could have been done. Since I was responsible enough to do that, I'd have to wait. ;lakdjfopieajf;lisaj! RESPONSIBLE MANAGEMENT DOESN'T LOCK MAIL AWAY FROM TENANTS, LACK EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS, OR HAVE NO FLEXIBILITY FOR THE RENTERS IT SERVES. I contained my frustration and thanked the poor emergency phone guy for all his hard work. Inside I was screaming. This has been my last straw with Randall Park Rentals.

If I had the time I would launch a massive internet campaign against them. Instead I shall warn all Madison rentals to avoid their apartments. My apartment is dingy and falling apart and had cockroaches. It's overpriced. They won't communicate with you on anything. If you contact them first, miraculously getting a hold of them, they fail to talk to other members of management or take notes and will forget any conversation or important details before the next time to speak with them. WORST PLACE EVER!  okay, maybe not ever. . . but pretty close.

That's the end of my rant. I feel better now. lol Have a good night and may all your mail reach you safely and quickly!

Monday, May 21, 2012


My older brother was in town this weekend. He is much older, over a decade, than me. It provides endless material for me to tease him about. It also seems to encourage him to continually think of me as a twelve year old. Obviously, that gets annoying as I am not any where close to being twelve anymore. This weekend, though, we got drinks at a local bar after work. I was surprisingly shocked that he treated me like, can you believe it, an adult! Finally, I have outgrown whatever crazy image of adolescence he thought I inhabited. Things are looking up. Now, all I have to do is get my big sister to grow up. lol

Monday, May 7, 2012

Feed the Dragons!

So, there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of fuss about the new trilogy 50 Shades of Grey by EL James. I'm going to go into a bunch of my own opinions on this book and some of the issues surrounding it. Take all that I write with a grain of salt. Also, if you are not over 18 years of age or just frankly find sex an uncomfortable topic, you should leave. Any terms that are unfamiliar to you can be found here.

My warning is my first point as well. This book is about a relationship between ADULTS. They are entitled to make their own decisions as long as those decisions don't hurt others just like you're entitled to do. Both adults have to be in a place where they can consent. That means no alcohol or drugs. In this book the guy, Christian, and dominate gives the girl, Ana, and submissive plenty of time to think over her decision in committing to this relationship. There is a lot of alcohol in the book, but conversations happen during sobriety, too, thus the issue of alcohol isn't relevant. Both participants don't do any type of drugs. You could argue that consent can't be given because Christian has some serious issues about the abuse of his childhood. I'd agree that abuse can put people into positions where they can't give consent. However, he is currently in therapy where he can openly discuss how his abuse and BDSM play into this new relationship. He communicates his issues with Ana, reluctantly yes (who wouldn't be!) but still they are communicated. I think that elevates concerns about consent in regards to abuse.

It's a book and it has graphic sex scenes. The genre most people call it is romance but having spent 11 years working in libraries, I'd call it erotica. Many in the media and on other blogs are dubbing these novels as "mommy porn." Frankly, I'm pretty sure that mom's of all ages have been watching porn long before this book. Talk about sexist. As if porn is only for men! Erotica or "Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire." has been around for years, try ancient Greece and Rome (Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter). Even the Judeo-Christian tradition includes the Song of Songs. Racey stuff! This isn't new people. It's not a revolution. The BDSM romance novels alone have been increasing dramatically the last decade. (oh the freedom of ebooks!)

Having recognized the long tradition of erotica in the written form, let's not get carried away with our expectations. I don't think most authors of erotica are planning to sweep readers away with their moving plot lines, deep riveting emotional changes, and sophisticated literary techniques. They will surely include bits and pieces of good writing. Occasionally, a piece of erotica will surprise you with it's fanciful descriptions and depth. That exception doesn't take away from the goal of arousing the reader. No one wants to read ten pages of landscape description when they pick this book up; they want sex. It's not high literature. . . it's erotica.

If BDSM isn't your kink, don't read it. (Please, I pray I don't need to explain this)

Ooo, now my pet peeve of this current obsession with the book. A Florida library has banned the series of books. They had copies on order, flying off the shelf, and then suddenly it has to go because of its "pornographic nature." The same library has the Kama Sutra on its shelves. A decision to keep anyone under the age of 18 from checking it out, fine. Otherwise, they are going against the ethical code for libraries. This code is all about equitable access and keeping personal bias out of providing needed services.   Who cares if the book makes you squeemy Flordia librarians?! Your patrons want to read it, and it brings in new people to your awesome fortress of information. Feed the damn dragons!! 

Other people have issues with the BDSM elements in general. It is a step backward for women. It reinforces abusive relationships. It creates an unhealthy environment to raise a family in. Ect. People have, believe it or not, been involved in BDSM for many centuries. Today our world has given it new flashy terms and it's getting a lot of media hype and attention (so is sex of any type, really). Good for it and the kinky people who love it. Why should people be ashamed to enjoy whatever consensual sex they want to have? It's not about putting women in their place. Men can and are submissive, too. It's about exploring how power is involved in sex and trusting your partner soooo much that you allow them to do unspeakable things to you. It's about communicating intimately enough that you know when and what your partner needs and wants. Vanilla relationships could learn a thing or two from the kinkersters out there. 

BDSM is great for those who are interested in it. Two caveats, though. One - This is NOT a how-to book. There are plenty of resources, especially books, that deal with the details of what to do and not to do. Books that walk you step-by-step on how to tie your lover up. Books that explain what each side will feel and get out of the experience. A good one to start with is SM 101. Or head to google and find a local educational BDSM group. No, the people won't kill you or be creepy. They will be nice and very understanding about your curiosity as long as you are polite and respectful (trust me, I know a few of these nice people!). Two - Don't try this stuff without getting the information and knowledge beforehand. Sure many couples do things like fuzzy handcuffs or light spanking without knowing anything about BDSM. Great, but if you want to tie your partner from the ceiling (suspension) or use an implement like a cane or whip, please, please go educate yourself. You'll learn helpful things like how to talk about limits and safewords and sub/topspace along the way. 

50 Shades of Grey is an interesting trilogy and does a decent job for it's genre. Don't get all bent out of shape, World, because you're just now figuring out that these things exist in our beautiful world. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Five Drafts Later. . .

I have five drafts sitting on my blog dashboard from the past couple months just waiting for me to publish. The problem is I hate them all. They either sound more whinny than usual, reveal too much for the internet, or are just rubbish. Let's hope this one goes better.

My sister has been in and out of the hospital for the last couple months including one stint that lasted three and a half weeks. I had forgotten how distasteful hospital trips are. It always seems more dire and intense the first few days. There always this long period of training involved with her hospital trips. Her rare genetic disease (IFOPA) makes her unique and, frankly, a pain in the ass to take care of. Nurses and doctors alike have a lot of trouble just figuring out how to do the normal things like taking blood samples from her. Plus she can be a bit temperamental. To aid in the training process and for the mental health of all those involved the family took shifts at the hospital. I took the night shift. You don't really get any sleep on these shifts. My parents were amazing as always. They realized when I was reaching critical and sent me home. I love my sister. It's just hard to love her when she's being demanding and depressing. I have little patience for people who complain without making any effort at changing things in their lives. I'll give her credit that a great deal of the stuff she deals with is medically related and not mutable. However, since she's the one who taught me to be stubbornly independent the rest of the self-depreciating crap I cannot forgive. I'll keep bugging her in my little sister way to take chances and live instead of just ruminating in her own foggy memory. We'll see how that and her deteriorating health goes in the next few months.  

I also had some unfortunate news come about school. I've been working to save money for transferring to UW-Madison to finish my degree in physics. I found out that they flat out rejected me. They accepted that there were extenuating circumstances affecting my school work at Crieghton and even said I'm probably a very capable individual. They just didn't want me at their school. So, I must find a way to prove myself to them or find other avenues of education. I can go to the local technical school that has a very popular and successful transfer program. I'd take some math and science classes that I don't really need but hopefully will show them that I can handle school again. I could also apply to be a special student and take classes at UW that I need. I just wouldn't technically be a student, register last, and have to pay for all costs completely out of pocket. Finally, I could give Madison and go to UW-Milwaukee who has accepted me but has only a fair-to-middlin program. I already have a lease for next year at a great house with garden space. I have a job that is flexible with paid time-off accumulated for test days next year or a possible promotion at the library (the field I want to be in!). I like Madison as a city far more than grungy Milwaukee. I'm made sacrifices to see Madison become my next step in success. I'm just not liking my choices right now and really beating myself up for not somehow being smarter and stronger and more efficient at Crieghton. Gah!!

On to more positive news, I will be serving as an adult leader for the mission trip in Chicago I go to every year. I'm super excited to go back again and lead in a new way. There is a lot of preparation to do before the week in June. If anyone knows any good quotes about community, please send them my way.

I know there is more to say about all the good stuff. I'm just running out of room. I'll hopefully let you know more about the awesome next time. I'm making choices and things should be lining up for a great summer. That's really the most important thing at this point.

I shall leave you with this link to musical thrill. It's a group of strings from the UK who take advantage of being gorgeous, talented women and electronics. The original of this song is also on the Matrix soundtrack.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Winter Nights

There are nights that just seem to blaze with clarity. It strikes me every so often as I'm walking home in the chilly, winter moonlight that these are the moments that are the most real to me. Every day I wake-up and go to work. I chat away with friends and co-workers. I pass a multitude of businesses and cars all filled with people I may or may not know. This life just seems to run on auto-pilot. I've made decisions that set the course of my daily life; there is little room for maneuvering when you have rent to pay and goals to reach.

Then those silent moments when even the city drifts away glide over me and reassure me that I could walk all night, away from the city, away from the thousands of people I will never know, without feeling anything but the comfort of thought. I socialized this weekend. Shocking, I know, but I really did make an effort to go out and see what all this city life is supposed to be like. My roommate and her friend (well I guess my friend, too, now) went to dinner and then back to her place. She had invited some people she knew from a school organization over. There was some music and a bit of drinking. It was fairly tame. While I enjoy meeting new people, this was not a meet new people type of event. This was a we've-been-awkwardly-thrown-together-I'm-going-to-ignore-you type. I left early on the excuse that I had work in the morning, which I did. I put headphones in and listened to Ferry Corsten's electronica on my way home in the fresh snow pretending that I didn't just attend that weird event. I don't usually understand how students in Madison and listen to their Ipod while walking or on the bus and ignore the world. That night I did. It doesn't matter that my fingers are cold or that I can't find the sidewalk in all the snow. 

The only thing that matters is the feeling of connection in a place that seems to destroy the very connections we need as humans to our origins and selves. That connection brings all the wandering thoughts of the week into sudden focus. No more doubts, lack of foresight, or inability to communicate. When the chill of the wind and the steady beat of my feet against the ground collide, I am left in perfect understanding. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Craigslist: Torture for Grammar Nazis

I am currently searching for an apartment for next year. Since my social life has been next to zero this year, I have resorted to using Craigslist. The roommate and apartment I'm living with right now is working out exceptionally well. While I discovered her on craigslist as well, it appears that such magic cannot easily be reproduced.

I'm a clean person; some people would say I'm obsessively clean. I assure you I've gotten much better and have lowered my standards. Community spaces are fair game for the occasional mess or such. I don't demand dishes to be washed immediately. See? I'm reasonable. It turns out, however, the rest of the world likes to leave crap laying out 24/7 and doesn't have a problem with guests seeing dirty counters and clothes laying out.

I also believe that living with intelligent people is a good idea. If you cannot post an ad on Craigslist that is coherent and void of grammatical errors, you are not a person I want to live with. For instance, this is a direct quote from an ad I read today.
     "Don't want to leave so manybe room share with female. some furnishings included loveseat and dishes but make it your own. needs a womans touch possible companionship. no cable but can add in but hi speed internet. serious inquiries only. late 40's male. send pic and brief bio."
Besides the obvious creepy factor of the ad, the grammar is terrible. No one is perfect and the internet does allow for more leeway in many situations like chat and facebook, but this is too much. 

Once you find a decent ad and establish a line of communication, a meeting or showing usually happens. I hate these. It's like a first date except weirder. Dating is awkward enough. I really don't understand the rules and usually say strange things that prolly shouldn't be said. Well, I do the same thing when meeting potential roommates. I also have this list of questions running through my head that should help me figure out if this is where I really want to live. One or two questions usually get lost in the conversation. It makes me so frustrated because I can't easily go back and ask those later without sounding crazy. 

While I'll keep responding to ads and searching, I'll be glad when this process is over!