Thursday, March 3, 2011

So I haven't updated in a whole month.

Sorry. I really haven't forgotten about my blog. I missed it and have been craving writing on here, but it just wasn't happening with the whole craziness that was February. Seriously, February can go to hell. What an awful month.

I'll pretty much break it down.

-I kept going back to the Eye Institution in Morgantown, WV (about 45 minutes from my town) almost every week to check on my eyes for this stupid pseudotumor. I'm getting better and the swelling is almost gone, but the constant visits and tests are taking a toll.
-I almost didn't make it through the month money-wise. I was so tight on money from doctor's bills and a ridiculously high electric bill that I begged my mom for help. I hate asking for help with money, absolutely hate it, but I had no choice. My mom, however, insisted she was going to help me whether I liked it or not, and helped to pay for the remainder of the doctor's bills covered by insurance.
-Essays, essays, more essays, work, essays, essays, work, essays, work, and more essays.
-Got a bill from the hospital for $3000 from the ER. Apparently the insurance company told me they wouldn't cover the bill because my diagnosis wasn't an emergency. My symptoms were also symptoms of MS, lyme disease, and a friggin' brain tumor. Am I supposed to let that go? I'm a student and can only work part-time, so that $3000 is 1/3 of my yearly income.
-Dealt with a co-worker stealing my tips, but I had no way of proving it since those tables were all off-camera.
-Delved into a deep depression again from all the stress. I never want to see another hospital again.

But I guess in every storm there is a silver lining:
-My diploma arrived in the mail. Apparently I did graduate. I now have a Bachelor's of Science in Graphics/Fine Arts with a minor in Spanish, cum laude.
-Valentine's date with Sean in which we gorged ourselves, then went to see True Grit. Good movie, and I'm not a Western fan.
-Luckily, my mom is now a nurse, so she is pulling some strings to take care of that $3000 bill. I also talked to the optometrist who originally recommended me to the ER in the first place and he nearly crapped himself. He was seriously outraged and offered to write a letter on my behalf. Hopefully it will be taken care of.
-February is over.

I would like a break from the crap. Come on, fate, throw me a friggin' bone, here.

All right. Pity party over. Anyway, as an escape I've been writing a lot. I'm working on my rewrite now, and the comparisons between my second draft and this most recent one are astounding. Here, have another break down:

-I've turned chapter one into two chapters, chapter two into two more chapters, and increased the length of each chapter by 2-3 pages.
-The battle scene at the beginning of the book. Boy, did I have problems with that one on the first writing. I have a friend who knows a ton about ancient warfare and I got a lot of helpful advice from him about tactics, so it reads more realistically. In the first draft, the only thing I got right was that spearmen (the protagonist's tribespeople) are strong against horsemen (the attacking mercenaries. Thanks, Sid Meier's Civilization! In the new draft, I've included positional tactics such as flanking and repositioning, and what would happen once those sword and axe wielding horsemen were dismounted and fighting hand-to-hand with spearmen.
-I use a somewhat useless but fun website, which shows what author you write like when you copy-paste your text into the field. I've gone from writing like Dan Brown (egad) and J.K. Rowling (not a bad writer, in fact, I love her books, but it's not the style I'm going for) to Neil Gaiman (SQUEAL), Ursula Le Guin (one of the best fantasy writers of all time), and Arthur C. Clarke ("I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.")
-My increase in words so far is over 4000. I have five chapters written for the new draft. In the second draft, I would still be in the second chapter. Damn, did I move the story too fast!

Well, that's it for now. I'll try not to disappear for a month again, but I can't promise I won't be abducted by aliens or Atlanteans or anything.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fiddler on the Hill

When I was 13, I took up guitar, with my first instrument being a crappy red Fender. I picked it up quickly, taking lessons once a week from a rowdy yet friendly evangelist (who totally didn't mind me being an agnostic). I even had a band in high school, though we played less music than we did sit around and talk. I eventually got a really nice Jackson, with mother-of-pearl inlay on the frets and a beautiful purple and green paint job. As time went by, I was able to teach myself and became pretty good, able to play more complicated riffs and guitar solos.

And yesterday, I sold that guitar to a pawn shop for $150 so I could buy a violin.

Admittedly, I haven't played guitar in a few years now. Looking around, almost everyone knows how to play to some degree. In actuality, guitar is one of the easiest instruments to learn. You don't even really need a teacher; it's an instrument you can teach yourself from the get-go and master in a few years. You can play a halfway decent sounding song with a few chords. You don't even need to know how to read sheet music in order to play it (I don't, I just read tablature).

Secretly, while I was playing guitar, I pined to learn the fiddle. Sounds completely retarded, but the reason behind this was because of a video game. While playing Civilization: Call to Power, one of my favorite songs that was featured in the soundtrack was Celtic Winter, which about halfway through has a violin.

Then, I discovered Flogging Molly, which introduced me to more classical forms of Irish music. Ever since then, I've been wanting to play the fiddle, but never really got around to it. However, I'm a pretty spontaneous person, and tend to do things randomly and without warning. So yesterday, I sold my guitar, bought a cheap beginner's fiddle on Amazon, and looked up violin lessons.

Let me tell you, they are not cheap. WVU was offering a 16-week course for $600. Since I do not poop golden coins, this was not an option. However, my school has a Community Music Program that is also a 16-week course, but is $120. All things considered, not really that bad. They also will teach you any type of music that you want, instead of barring you only inside of classical. I'd like to learn classical, but my primary interests are Irish folk fiddle and bluegrass.

My fiddle should arrive tomorrow or Saturday, then I can begin my journey of making the sound of dying cats coming out of my violin for a few years!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Drugs are bad, mmkay?

As you know, I have this dumb problem with my head called pseudotumor cerebi. Luckily, I haven't had any headaches or migraines at all since my spinal tap, and I've been on a medication called topamax to relieve the pressure in my skull so my brain won't explode. Two weeks ago, I went to the West Virginia University Hospital's super fancy facility specifically for eye and neurology problems, where the doctor did all kinds of tests on my eyes and things seemed good.

My optic nerves are starting to return to normal and they have hardly any swelling left. My headaches have been non-existent, and my vision has actually improved. In addition, I'm no longer colorblind in my left eye. However, my normal doctor's higher-up told me to increase my dosage, from 50mg a day to 75mg a day. Oh, boy.

Let me tell you a bit about Topamax. It is a migraine/seizure medication that is also used to treat pseudotumor cerebi, and has the added bonus of weight loss (I've lost 9 pounds since starting it, can't argue with that). However, some side-effects are pretty terrible, such as kidney stones and hair loss. Oh, yeah, and violent mood swings, panic attacks, and thoughts of suicide. Guess who experienced the latter? This girl.

I've struggled with unmedicated chronic depression for most of my life, so I thought I was just going through one of my lows. Nope. Every day since I started the higher dosage I thought about killing myself in a variety of ways. In class I started to randomly have panic attacks. The entire world looked gray. Then I started thinking about orphans in Darfur and felt guilty, because who am I to feel like crap when at least I have food, water, shelter, and am not being hacked by pieces by the Janjaweed? Then it just started a vicious cycle.

I'm approaching the end of my prescription, so hopefully I'll be off of this evil demon drug from the 9th layer of Hell soon. I pray that this dumb problem with my head is gone. Why is it always my head that's screwed up? Why can't I have a left wrist disorder, or an outer ear disorder, or perhaps an armpit disorder? Ah well. C'est la vie.

In other news, I am becoming a professional student by taking up a second major in Computer Science, because I'm crazy. I don't feel like I'm smart enough for the math, but my professor insists my ACT score is good enough (26 in math on the ACT? Seems kind of low but whatever). I'm in a programming class now and I love it. I'm the only girl in the class, which is kind of funny.

Also, I have another award! Wee! I guess there were some questions to answer with it, so here they are:

If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?
I feel anonymous enough so that I won't be randomly stalked, but not so anonymous that no one will feel like they're reading about a faceless computer person.

Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.
I am always stubborn. For example, I irritated the shit out of the admins at my college for graduation because their older catalogs were a huge clusterfuck to the point that they gave in to my insane whims. Bwahahahaha.

What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
Depends on my mood. Sometimes I see someone I like, who is ambitious and smart, and sometimes I see an ugly, raging lunatic.

What is your favourite summer cold drink?
It's been a while so I don't remember the exact name, but the delicious orange-pineapple smoothie from the Angry Smoothie Man in the Mountainlair on the WVU campus.

When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Write, read, crochet, draw, paint, play games, and browse the interwebs.

Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?
Right now, I want to get my degree in Computer Science, and I want to finish my book and have it published.

When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person or always ditching?
I was painfully shy, and still am, but always did well.

If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?
The night Sean proposed to me was so perfect that romance movies couldn't touch it. It was a clear summer night by a pond that had an island with a single tree, the moon was full and silver, and the crickets were chirping. I mean, we're not getting married for quite a few more years, but he decided that moment was too perfect to pass up, and it was.

Is it easy for you to share your true self in you blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?
A little bit of both. I find it hard to talk about some problems though that I would really like to get out, but I just don't know how to discuss it without sounding dumb. I like writing about outside events as well, though.

If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Read. I don't like talking on the phone other than to my mom or Sean, and reading is awesome.

Thanks, Dani-Q, for the award! Hugs!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Art for Tards

So I decided I love talking about art, but many people are not entirely interested in it. Because of this, I've opened a new blog just for art, called Art for Tards. It's a much more fun, unconventional way of looking at art without the pretention and bullshit. If you like art, or just find it a wee bit interesting, follow me! The first article will be about the Sistine Chapel.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

West Virginia Town Names Are the Strangest

I love Google Maps, especially street view. From the comfort of my own living room, I can explore the metros of Tokyo, the streets of London, the sands of Cairo, or the goat farms of Kyrgyzstan. The other day, I was exploring around my home state, West Virginia, for shits and giggles because I know how fun town names around here can be. I already know about Nitro and Hurricane (pronounced hurr-ick-un). However, the southern part of the state, which I am only vaguely familiar with due to visiting my grandparents there, has some of the weirdest town names. Here are a few:

-Big Stick
-Mt. Gay-Shamrock
-Droop Mountain

There are also a huge amount of town names in the southern part of the state that are also names of people. Oscar, Rupert, Gertrude, Ryan, Myra, Julian, Ulysses, Lenore, and more are all West Virginian towns.

I have a theory that for a lot of these towns, the settlers named it after the first thing they saw. For example, after hiking over the mountains with half of their caravan dying of dysentary, they saw a duck. Duck was the name of the town. Another group of settlers had their scout leader open his eyes for the first time after almost dying of dysentary, his bearded medic hovering over him. Beard was the title of the village.

That, or the first West Virginians just wanted to fuck with everyone because they knew in the future everyone would believe them to be a bunch of moonshine-swilling toothless hicks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm cured!

Sorry I haven't been updating often. Between these awful migraines and worrying about my new condition, things have been a bit crazy, but I think everything should be back on track soon.

Today, I finally got over my post-spinal tap headaches. If you've ever had a lumbar puncture, I'm sure you know what these are like. If not, count yourself lucky. When you have a spinal tap, they drain a little bit of spinal fluid to check for certain things... in my case, to relieve the excess pressure around my brain and to check said pressure. When they do that, the fluid leaks a little bit, causing your brain to float down, which in turn makes the membrane scrape across the bottom of your skull when you're sitting up. You're completely fine while lying flat, but when sitting up that fluid shifts down again.

Imagine the worst migraine (or headache, if you don't get migraines) you've ever had. Multiple that by ten. Then imagine Genghis Khan just lopped a two-handed axe through your skull. After that, imagine that all of Manchester United is lining up to take turns to kick you full force in the head while the Khan's axe is still embedded in your brain. That's what post-spinal tap headaches feel like.
Other than that, though, the medicine and relief from the spinal tap has done a world of good for my pseudotumor. My eyesight has improved dramatically, I have yet to get a headache (other than the spinal tap headaches), and I haven't had any anger fits or depressive slumps. Also, the medicine I was prescribed causes weight loss. Can't argue with that.

Anyway. Enough about my feeble human body. Here's some nerdy stuff.
Invicibility star. I crocheted him one dead night at work.

A boo. The picture makes him look terrible... he's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with him.
Also, class starts next week. My official last semester. It's scary. Terrifying, in fact. Terrifying in the prospect that I have to start looking for a graphics job in a place where no graphics jobs exist. I hope I'm not doomed to wait tables forever.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

You know what's not fun? 10 hour hospital visits.

I went to my eye doctor yesterday for a routine check-up and to get a new prescription for my contacts and glasses. When he was checking the back of my eyes, he found out that my optic nerves were swollen and began the process of freaking me out. Apparently, this can be a symptom of anything to a small infection to MS to a brain tumor. With my eyes still dilated and unable to see, I cried all the way home.

I was referred to the WVU Hospital ER. I saw four different doctors... two general, an optomologist, and a neurologist, and got a CT scan as well as several tests done. My eyes were dilated again (a fun process) and I learned I might have had to stay overnight. After staying for a week in a horrible hosital visit when I was 19, overnight hospital stays are one of the worst things ever.

Turns out I didn't have to stay, as I didn't have a brain tumor or MS. I had something called pseudotumor cerebi, which has many symptoms of a tumor without actually being one. It causes extra fluid to collect around the brain, in result swelling my optic nerves, blurring my vision, and giving me migraines. It can lead to blindness if untreated, but isn't terribly serious.

Of course, it wouldn't be a hospital visit without a terribly painful procedure done on me. They wanted to check the pressure in my brain as well as relieve some of the fluid, so they decided to do a spinal tap. I've lived in fear of having a spinal tap done for quite some time and figured I'd never have to get one, but what do you know, that's exactly what they wanted to do.

I was so nervous beforehand I was visibly shaking and silently crying uncontrollably, and the doctor told me she would give me some strong anti-anxieties to help me relax. Even though I had two (maybe a third during? I was too busy screaming in pain), it did nothing. They numbed the skin where they would poke me and then began putting a huge needle into my spine. I cursed the pirate ship tattooed on my back, as it was throwing her off and causing her to poke the nerve bundles.

I can't even describe the feeling, as it's just way too weird. It feels like someone reaching into your back and pulling a long needle through your spinal fluid and nerve bundles. I cried like a huge baby and held my mom's hand through the procedure. She's a nurse, but she almost passed out and had to leave because she said it's terrible seeing it done to your own kid.

Right now my back's killing me and my head hurts since the spinal tap causes your brain to float on cerebal fluid. I'm having an MRI done in two weeks to make absolute sure it's not a tumor.

So, yeah. Fun stuff.

Friday, December 31, 2010

The end is neigh.

The end to my first book, that is! I'm slowly approaching the end of the first book of my three-part tale. After this, it's tons of editing and then trading it to publishing companies and agents for a few pounds of rejection letters.

Also, I made these:

Other pictures here. They're orange slice earmuffs to go with the citrus scarf. Once again I'm tempted to keep them for myself, but then again I'm broke and trying my damnedest to sell stuff. Still nothing sold. If I can't sell anything on my Etsy shop, I'm going to try selling stuff at a small event we have at the university every March called The Women of Art Expo. Last year a famous tattoo artist of this region was selling her tattooed rubber duckies and made bank (I bought one, too).
I also may start doing Warhammer tabletop. Sean and I were desperately trying to find a hobby to do together, as I'm getting burnt out on video games, so we decided Warhammer was sufficiently nerdy enough.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New stuff + update.

Sorry I haven't posted very much recently. After the holidays, there's so much to do: cleaning, playing with new toys like the PS3 that Sean's parents generously bought for us, and crocheting. I've been crocheting like crazy lately, even though I just started not too long ago. There's something extremely satisfying about it... I guess because I'm making stuff you can actually use instead of just making stuff to look at.

Anyway, I spent about 3 days making this scarf, and I think it turned out pretty well:

I wish I had a better camera, because I'm so proud of this thing and the pictures make it look like crap.

Another thing I've been doing recently is working on my Etsy shop. I've been making a variety of items for it as well as adding things I've had sitting around for a while... jewelry, hemp, a painting, and crochet. Still have not sold a single thing. I'd like the get more traffic to it, but I can't afford the advertising program right now.

Speaking of not being able to afford anything, the holidays have made me broke. I didn't buy anyone presents this year, just made some, but somehow I still ended up with no money. I've paid all the bills besides rent, and I have a grand total of $9 in my checking account besides the rent money. Sean and I gathered our change yesterday to buy a loaf of bread at the gas station so we could eat something. Ah, the joys of being a college student.

And then, jumping to being a college student, I have one more semester and I'm done. I need just one class, so I'm taking some useless classes to fill my financial aid requirements. One class I'm taking, however, is equally useless and cool. It's called Folk Art, and in this class they teach you weaving (knitting, crocheting, etc), quilting, tinsmithing and metalworking, bookbinding, dollmaking, and other cool stuff. I'm really looking forward to it, and hopefully it'll add some unique stuff to my Etsy inventory that no one will buy.

On a final note, they are adding a Gloria Jeans to the complex they're building in my town. In fact, they're adding several awesome things that we don't have: a Dairy Queen, the Gloria Jeans, an Orange Julius, and a Little Caesar's (already have that, but it's on the other side of town). I had Gloria Jeans coffee twice: once in a coffee variety pack last Christmas, and once a few days ago when Sean and I went to Morgantown and they had one there. I had a Butter Nut Rum mocha... it was awesome.

I'm thinking about applying to the Gloria Jeans, as it's five minutes away from my apartment instead of twenty-five, and I could work there in the mornings before my evening classes. Plus, free coffee. Who doesn't want that?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Etsy shop is now open!

So I finally set up my Etsy shop. I've only got a few items right now, but I'm working on quite a few more things to add. It's at this address. I wish my camera wasn't a piece of crap so the items wouldn't look fuzzy, but I guess I have to work with what I've got.