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In This Town, You Need a Bulletproof Heart.

Romantic/Valentine's Day Angst, Live from Facebook.
john foxx
From a recent exchange I had with [name redacted] on Facebook:

Me: Much love to you, [name redacted], for that post. Valentine's Day has been the bane of my existence for the vast majority of my life and I can't communicate how disappointed and heartbroken I was when I was a preteen and teenager and seeing so many of my peers get flowers, chocolate, and stuffed animals from their boyfriends on that day while I couldn't even get a guy to be seen with me in public. This is one of the most sensitive aspects of my childhood and I still carry psychological wounds from it, esp since my birthday is close to Valentine's Day and I grew up with all these constant reminders of my least favorite day right on the day that's supposed to be your special day. I'm even trying not to cry while typing this out, esp since I really haven't had an active love life even as an adult. God, I just need to step away from this now to preserve my sanity....

[Other Person]: *HUGS* Diane xx

Me: Thank you [name redacted]. It may not seem like much to get upset about, but it fed so much into my mindset that I'm ugly and unlovable that it burned those thoughts into my heart and soul, and I want to love and be loved so badly that it's caused me to automatically reject a lot of kindnesses from people in general (e.g. if someone compliments me on my appearance I dismiss it as them just being nice) and I wonder if it's repelled a lot of potential love interests. I also feel like a failure because I'm almost 36 and have only been in three relationships period, have never been married, and have only ever received one thing on Valentine's Day. And I have this one friend who I feel a lot of bitterness and resentment toward because she was the first of my peers to have a boyfriend and she appears to have this happy life, and I feel guilty about it because she's said all these nice things about me from the time she and I were classmates (stuff like how I'm so kind and special and have left an indelible impression on her), so I feel bad that I can't be happy for her, but I just can't. Then there's another friend who seems to jump from marriage to .marriage and I have to stop myself from going off at her because I would give anything and everything to be married, because to me that would mean that man loves me enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me, and it breaks my heart thinking that I may never get that chance, and now I'm really crying and hoping no one walks into my office because I just want to sob the rest of my day away.

[Other Person]: Diane, you are so not ugly and unlovable. You have a truly kind heart and you are pretty. Also, take it from me, getting married is not a benchmark of success - I've tied the knot twice, been spectacularly bad at being married and got divorced twice. And the number of relationships anyone's been in isn't a yardstick either. As for your friend, appearances aren't everything - for all you know her home life might be a private hell. People are good at putting on a front on when things are going great. I think it's normal to be envious of friends who seem to have it all - some probably do, but I'll bet the majority are making it look better than the reality.

Don't give up hope. There's someone out there for you. You may need to be proactive to find them, but whoever it is will be VERY lucky to have you in their life xx

Me: Thank you for saying that and you're so very sweet, though there's still that voice inside my head saying that you're only saying that as a kind friend. Though you do give me food for thought with the rest of your message, and I know that FB only shows the good side of most people's lives (I, being stupid or something, present a pretty unedited view of my life), but it's still hard to swallow the posts when I'm faced with something I desperately want in my life that someone else seems to have without much effort at all. The only time I can be happy is when I know the person has gone through at least one terrible thing in their lives so I could be happy for you (because you have to deal with [redacted chronic illness] and lost someone very close to you, so to me you've "gone through tough shit"), but... yeah. And thank you for your confidence there. If I had more time or energy I'd be out there more and I dearly regret not making myself be more socially active in my twenties (I was usually too guilty about leaving my mom by herself at home when she was still in mourning -- I was too but I thought mostly of her), but what can I do? My twenties mostly sucked hard. Anyway, this issue (my lack of romantic success and any reminders of that) and my near-total ostracism in grade school, because I was a freak of nature who talked and acted like a little adult and was able to read a newspaper at the age of four, are the two biggest demons that I've had to deal with in my life and thanks for your patience as this one sensitive spot hit me to the core.

[Other Person]: Diane [last name] go wash your mouth out with soap! Everyone who knows me knows I'm blunt and speak as I find. So if I tell you are awesome it's because you are. I'm not being kind, I'm being honest.

Me: That actually makes me feel better, thanks! Please stay blunt and honest and I will offer you a massive mea culpa. Thank you once more.

[Other Person]: Have another hug xx

Me: *hugs galore*

Please allow me the freedom to go completely dark here....

First, with a dystopian observation or two:

1.  Having a child is one of the most selfish things someone can do, not for the usual reasons offered (getting to biologically continue your legacy, getting to mold someone else in the manner you'd like, etc.), but simply because being a parent is one of the greatest joys one can accomplish in life, and life is so utterly dark and crappy and filled with bitterness and strife that whenever we can manage to experience one of its brief joys, we tend to cherish it and hang onto it as one of the reasons to keep going in spite of the harshness and difficulties involved in surviving each day as it comes.  By having a child, you're basically creating for yourself something good to hang onto and revere in a world where so little is worth hanging onto and revering, thus inventing for yourself a joy that does not naturally exist.

2.  Life in and of itself is incredibly difficult, but its difficulty can be exacerbated if you happen to land upon this world at the wrong time.  I feel very strongly that we were meant to be born in specific eras and that there are times when, by some terrible malfunctioning, someone lands upon the wrong time period for their disposition and being.  If I were 53 or 42 today instead of 32, I would probably be a more optimistic, contented person who wouldn't epouse the beliefs detailed in #1.  But because I am the age I am and have been forced to live my life in eras where I simply had no hope of "fitting" or finding comfort in, I have had no choice but to view the darker side of life.

And now with some more traditional darker thoughts:

3.  I have so many thoughts and ideas in my head of stories I want to write, but every time I want to write them down so I won't forget about them and can draw upon them as inspiration points to begin my writing (when I have the time), I keep forgetting what it is I want to write about.  Well, right now I'll tell you that I've got three story ideas swimming around in my mind, but I can't convey them here because I don't want someone to steal them or think they're ridiculous.  There's one in particular that I've just thought about that I can very easily type away about now that I'm actually typing away at something, but what's stopping me is the idea that someone who think my idea ludicrous or unnecessarily bleak or anything else that will cause me to question myself and my entire motive toward wanting to write something.  And I do want to write.  I even want to learn how to write a screenplay because I want to convert some of these ideas to film form and I've got a fantastic film idea that's been brewing in my mind for almost a year.

4.  I'm at a point right now where I need help.  I'm too bitterly jealous of other people (Syldath, I can tell you with the fullest of confidences that you are excluded from this), am feeling too much loneliness and pain inside, have old familiar similar feelings of pure exhaustion, and what's worse is that the suicidal ideations are returning.  And they're not the little harmless ghosts I can casually cast aside by saying, "Oh, hi there.  Welcome back into my life.  Care for a cup of tea?  No?  Goodbye."  These are of the same intensity that I can recall from when they were an actual threat in my life.  And I know I'm being selfish here because there's one person on my friends list here and on Facebook who would probably love to have the kind of health I have (and I am truly, truly sorry if I offend or anger you here) and not worry about the extreme trials and tribulations you're dealing with right now.  It's just... I need help.

Or maybe a good night's sleep or some adequate time for REAL rest.  We shall see about that.

Writer's Block: Stuck with stardom
What celebrity or politician would you most wish to get stuck in an elevator with for two hours? What burning question would you ask them?

I'll answer for both -- a celebrity AND a politician.

My favored celebrity would have to be David Bowie.  Once I got over the first couple of minutes of being completely awestruck and mute, I'd love to ask him to tell me as many stories as he could during those two hours of being stuck together, from his early years as a folk rock singer/songwriter to his years as Ziggy Stardust to his Berlin period to his '80s years and so on.  I'd ask him how he's managed to be creative and innovative for so long and a couple of his secrets as to how he taps into his creative self.  And hopefully at the end of it all, we can depart as acquaintances, e-mail addresses exchanged and a future friendship firmly established.

My politician pick would be a little more difficult to ascertain.  One of my favored choices would've been Ronald Reagan, but his passing many years ago would've put a stop to that.  Another would be former president George W. Bush; I think he'd be a fantastic conversationalist and it's noteworthy to consider that he's such a witty, intelligent, charming person that even those on the complete opposite side of him on the political spectrum have said that he's one of their favorite people to converse with.

But in the end I'd have to choose my favorite contemporary politician, British Lib Dem leader and deputy prime minster Nick Clegg.  His politics are much more aligned with mine than those of any prominent American politician; the only one who'd come close is Senator Ron Paul.  I'd love to hash out issues of domestic and foreign policy with Clegg and really get to know where he'd stand on issues of importance to Americans.  I'd learn from him the way a student learns from a beloved professor and congratulate him on holding steadfast to his principles.

Et voila.

Writer's Block: Cover me
Which songs have been covered better by artists who didn't originally sing them?

Bob Dylan songs own this category:

Manfred Mann, "The Mighty Quinn"
The Byrds, "Mr. Tambourine Man"
Glen Campbell, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
Eric Clapton, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
Adele, "Make You Feel My Love"
Duran Duran, "Lay Lady Lay"
Julie Driscoll, "This Wheel's on Fire"
Joni Mitchell, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"

Then there's Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from My Friends", which far surpasses the original by The Beatles, and Japan's cover of "I Second That Emotion" manages to better Smokey Robinson's original.  George McCrae managed to eclipse KC and the Sunshine Band when he covered their song "I Get Lifted".  I tend to prefer the Bonnie Tyler version of "It's a Heartache" over the Juice Newton original.  Peter Gabriel completely outdid The Magnetic Fields on their song "The Book of Love".  The Damned do a great job with their version of Love's "All Alone Or", and Aerosmith really brings a lot of heart and soul to their version of The Beatles's "Come Together".  Of course I'd have to prefer Duran Duran's version of "Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)", but that's not to say the original by Cockney Rebel was bad (because it was actually really, really good).  Blancmange did an awesome job making ABBA's "The Day Before You Came" into a darker, more sinister-sounding song.  And last but not least, I prefer Dave Edmunds's version of "Girls Talk" over the Elvis Costello original.

Writer's Block: Snacks, don't fail me now
When you're feeling down, what comfort foods do you enjoy?

Very few things comfort me like a warm, delicious bowl of soup can.  I've grown quite partial to Progresso's Italian wedding soup, am also a fan of their chicken and sausage gumbo and chicken noodle soup, and can make a pretty awesome homemade chicken soup.  I have a theory about this:  Since soup does such a good job warming you from the inside and because it's a hearty, flavorful meal in a bowl, it's one of the most perfect comfort foods there is.

Another thing that really comforts me is the Marie Callender brand chicken and mushroom pot pie.  It is quite simply the most divine frozen food thing ever.  The whole process of preparing and eating one is perfect for those exceptionally stressful days.  I prep the pot pie, stick it back in the freezer while the oven preheats, see what needs attending to around the house, pop the pot pie in the oven, take a shower, catch up on e-mails/the Internet, blow dry my hair, take the pot pie out, let it cool just a little, feed my puppy, and savor every luscious bite.  It usually takes me a good 35 - 40 minutes to finish the pot pie, and when I'm finished the day has melted away and I finally feel satisfied.

For sweet things that comfort me, I prefer ice cream.  Walgreens sells its own brand of Moose Tracks ice cream that I'll get every now and then, that comforts me when I eat it.  Or I'll get cookies and cream, cherry, or any number of other types of ice cream I prefer.  I like to leave it out for about ten or fifteen minutes to let it soften, then I scoop some out into a small bowl and eat it with a plastic spoon.  I find that ice cream tastes a whole lot better if you eat it when it's been softened and with a plastic spoon.  Another thing I'll do about maybe once a month is I'll go to Jack in the Box and get a chocolate shake to go, then I'll drink it while commuting.  They make their shakes with real ice cream and it tastes much like what you'd expect an old fashioned soda fountain shake to taste like.  Any time I can get one of those to start my day is a good day for me.

Writer's Block: If I could find my way
If you could turn back time, how far back would you go?

I would want to also turn back the hands of time on my chronological age and regress to being a newborn baby in the year 1957.  I would be a witness to unbelievable change and progress in my most formative years, witness the turmoil of the late '60s as a preadolescent, and turn 13 at the dawn of the best decade ever, the 1970s.  I would thoroughly enjoy the '70s as a teen, immerse myself in the glam rock culture, also listen to The Who, The Kinks, and the Stones when they were all great, enjoy Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd as well, go to as many concerts as I could, also listen a lot to singer/songwriters and mellower music such as Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Chicago, graduate high school in 1975, go off to college, let steam off at discotheques, learn more about the punk scene, get involved with post-punk, graduate from college in 1979, be a huge post-punk and New Wave fan, still be young enough to be excited over the introduction of MTV, enjoy the best parts of the '80s, get married, turn 30 in 1987, let my interests go more toward the underground/college radio (the whole "120 Minutes" scene) as I started a family, still be in touch with what's going on in pop culture as I potty trained my children and sent them off to preschool, get my children started with music by playing them all my old records from when I was a young girl, admire the new generation and their teen idols, feel sad for them when their spokesman Kurt Cobain commits suicide, watch Dennis Miller and cheer him on when he talks about the egocentrism of certain unsavory elements in my generation on his HBO program and how it translates to Generation X, turn 40 in 1997 and find less and less about contemporary pop culture to feel excited about, turn toward cooking programs and this new channel called the Food Network, hear about the "quiet is the new loud" movement toward the end of the '90s and listen to that, feel sad again when Elliot Smith commits suicide, remember the sadness I felt when Nick Drake committed suicide, go back to that, encourage my adolescent children to be outcasts and enjoy the periphery of pop culture, also encourage them to do exceptionally well on their studies and don't settle for "average" anything, fail to understand the "emo" subculture but feel relieved that none of my teens are interested in "American Idol" or "Glee", let out a quiet cheer when one of my teens asks me to burn him/her a copy of one of my Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell or Pink Floyd CDs, see them all graduate high school in the "noughts", reach 50 in 2007 and instead of racing to get Botox injections or buy wildly inappropriate attire or attempt to live life as if I were a teenager, embrace 50 completely, turn contemplative, write a novel or two, and maybe get one published by 2010.

As you can tell, music is pretty much my life, and I'd have to define this life by the accompanying soundtrack too.  I'd think 1957 would be a fantastic year to be born because you'd get to spend a significant majority of your life in eras that were genuinely exciting, from the joyous and ever-changing 1960s to the stellar-from-end-to-end 1970s to pretty much the entirety of the 1980s to most of the 1990s, and by the time pop culture started to peter out in the final years of the '90s I'd be old enough to where it wouldn't cut as close to the bone as it did in the reality of my circumstances, when I graduated high school in 1997 only to find a vast and barren pop cultural wasteland only occasionally punctuated by things to get excited over.  Things were so sad by that point that the most exciting new development by far for me that year was finally being able to access the Internet at home, after years of hearing about it and months of accessing it from other sites.  I was born at a terrible time, really.  I was too young to fully appreciate the '80s (and I wasn't even paying attention to the decade when I was living through it), I had to spend so much time playing catch-up with the '80s in the 1990s that I didn't appreciate it as much as I should've, and by the time I was fully caught up with everything I was too late for everything.  The only time when I think I got it right was when I was younger and being exposed to some great music from the '60s and '70s.  I think that created a solid base for me to work with, so that I could be a better judge of what was good or bad about the music I'd encounter from beyond that point.  The children today whose parents expose them solely to prefabricated, contrived nonsense aren't getting that solid basis to work from.  Their parents are no better than the parents who only feed their children fatty junk food and expect them to gain all the nutrients they need to grow and develop from those foods.  I'm glad my parents weren't like that, nor was the era in which I grew up an era where such filth was an overabundant part of the pop culture.  So things could've been worse -- I could be forced to be a child living today, with stupid parents who buy me Justin Bieber and Disney Channel shit and expect me to like it.

But going back to the original question -- I think I would've had a better life had I been born in 1957.  It would've been a richer, more rewarding life.  But I wasn't born in 1957, I was born in 1979, and I have to work with that.  At least the Internet allows me to live through those missing years vicariously.

Writer's Block: Love songs
What are the best and worst love songs of all time? Are there any that have special meaning to you (whether positive or negative)? Why?

Now THIS is a fascinating question!  I would suppose the best love songs of all time aren't the ones who are overloaded with smarm or treacle or are trite or esponse a juvenile view of love.  These songs are the reason why for a long time, I really didn't care for love songs in general.  But if you look beneath the surface and push past all the ridiculousness, there are great love songs out there.  I'm particularly partial to "I'll Be Your Mirror" by the Velvet Underground, which has been close to my heart for quite a few years.  In fact, I remember once composing an LJ entry (in an older, now defunct LJ) in 2004 that basically expressed that the kind of love I was looking for at the time was the kind expressed via Nico's gentle, fragile vocals and Lou Reed's genuinely sweet lyrics.  So it's fascinating to me to consider that these days I have a genuinely personal connection to this song that exists... well, I can't really say more, but it exists, and it's amazing.  Another great love song is Howard Jones's "What is Love?", which everybody thinks is about doubting the existence of love, but in fact is about the kind of love that's built to last.  In it, he expresses that it's ok to question what love is because the kind of love that's present in this relationship he's singing about is strong enough to withstand questioning.  The song's good enough to use as a first dance at a wedding reception!

Then there are the worst of the worst love songs, the songs that yammer on about "baby baby baby" in a manner that makes me feel the singer doesn't know a thing about love, the songs that are overtly trying too hard to "charm" but in the process end up in Sleazeville, and the songs that are so unbearably sweet that you develop diabetes just listening to them.  The only one of the third I'd excuse completely is Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You", because it's not a traditional love song but a love song to a baby, which makes all the difference in the world.  The way she sings the song is perfect for a lullaby, and in fact she composed it to her little girl Maya Rudolph (better known these days for her work on "Saturday Night Live") shortly before cancer took her away from her husband and daughter, so there's a heartbreaking element to the song.  Some genuinely horrible love songs are the ones that once were great but have become horrible with overuse, such as Heatwave's "Always and Forever" or "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers.  Then there are all the "love" songs sung by stupid teen idol acts, which suck as a matter of principle.  There are the "love" songs which have nothing at all to do with love, such as The Police's "Every Breath You Take", which is in all fairness not Sting's fault.  He himself expressed horror at the fact that couples are using it as "their" song and dancing to it as their first dance at wedding receptions.

Then there's the worst "love" song of all, a song so utterly and completely wrong that its wrongness twists my brain into unnatural shapes and it takes me forever to get it back in place.  I am surprised "Into the Night" by Benny Mardones didn't end up causing him to be taken down to the station to answer some very serious questions.  It bears no resemblance at all to another "jail bait" song, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap's "Young Girl", because in that golden oldie from the '60s, the narrator pleads with the underage girl to return to her family and get as far away from him as possible once he finds out what her true age is.  "Young girl, get out of my life/My love for you is way out of line/Better run girl/You're much too young girl."  Benny Mardones doesn't beg his young girl to get out of his life; in fact, he pleads with OTHER PEOPLE to understand that the "love" he feels for her is very much IN line and that he's not going to stop going down the path to wrongness.  While Gary Puckett sings that the eponymous girl in his song is "just a baby in disguise" and too young "to give [him] love", Benny's practically whisking his underaged love interest away to get married and produce many babies for him.  Mardones's song is practically the soundtrack to child predator Phillip Garrido's life!  And the fact that it actually got recorded and released on a major label and many millions of people actually bought the single disheartens me greatly.

And now I have to go scrub my brain clean after having to think about that horrendous song again.  Perhaps I'll listen to another great love song, an unexpected one this time.  I love those songs, the ones that are chipper and cheery that, once you pay attention to them, turn out to be great songs about love.  Real love, love that actually exists in this world and isn't prosecutable by law.  I'm thinking about The Swingers's "Counting the Beat".  Come enjoy with me!

Why, hello there (again)!
So I decided to take a few days off from doing any entries to my LJ, after the surprisingly pressure-filled demands of NaBloPoMo took the bloom out of the idea of inputting anything daily to anywhere.  It's been surprisingly interesting having to reacclimate myself to the idea that I don't have to type anything for LJ/NaBloPoMo; I can recall on December 1, eating dinner while trying to think about what the theme for the day would be and what I would add that night.  Then I remembered -- I didn't HAVE to add anything that day!  Whew, what a relief!  But there's also something to the idea that once it becomes a part of your schedule, it starts becoming weird to consider the idea that you don't have to do whatever it is that you once did.  So I'm doing once more what I usually did during NaBloPoMo -- I've got my trusty kitchen timer by my side and timing myself to make sure I don't take more than twenty minutes to write out an entry.  The goal toward no more than twenty minutes per entry adds an element of competitiveness and pressure that compels me to type out precisely what's on my mind at this very moment instead of hemming and hawing over each individual word I type out, thus taking twice as much time to input anything of value.  So.  New paragraph, maybe?

I've been watching something on the Cooking Channel that really interests and amuses me.  It's called "Bitchin' Kitchen" and is hosted by someone named Nadia G.  She comes across as someone who really enjoys the rockabilly/Bettie Page-loving scene.  Her look is all about the kitschy '50s element, from bright red lipstick to poofed out hair and very retro '50s-style dresses.  She talks like a tough New York Italian, though the blogosphere indicates that that mode of speech is common for Italian people who live in east Montreal, which is where she's from.  She's hilarious and has an interesting cast of supporting characters who pop in with interesting tidbits about the theme of the episode.  And she can actually cook!  She doesn't half-ass it like the demon spawn herself Sandra Lee, she doesn't add copious amounts of fat like Paula Deen (though God bless her, she is a hoot and a half to watch), she doesn't cackle and grate like Rachael Ray, and she isn't the snobbiest snob who ever snobbed like Ina Garten is.  And she seems like she would actually be able to change the oil on her own car, unlike Giada de Laurentiis.  So -- total and complete win!  My new favorite female cooking personality right there.  Thank you, Canada!

As for what's going on in my life -- nothing much, really.  It's pretty much been the same old same old.  I've got a cup of PG Tips tea (my personal favorite for hot tea) cooling by my side because it's kinda cold outside and this tea will help warm me up while also perking me up.  Today my little puppy got her first photo taken with the Santa at PetsMart and about five or six people came up to her and cooed over her.  It was kinda like being with a rock star!  I'm not going into work tomorrow because I have to accompany Mom to outpatient surgery; she's having a cataract taken out at her opthalmologist's outpatient surgical center early tomorrow morning and I'm going to want to be by her side all day.  So we've rearranged things to where I'll be able to go into work on Friday instead of having Friday off to take Mom to appointments or run errands.  So this upcoming week should be interesting.  Next Saturday is the amputee support group's Christmas party and the menu looks, um, *interesting*.  We're contributing to the general mishmash by making some cranberry salad (or, as our relatives call it, "pink slop") to take to the, um, interesting luncheon.  But it's something festive to do for the holiday season.  And... I don't know what else to say.  That's pretty much it as far as anything exciting or noteworthy goes.

So we have come to the conclusion of this entry.  It's been rather wonderful typing out something for my LJ and I think I'll have to do this about once or twice a week so I can learn how to be good at extemperaneous writing and vanquish the need to have arguments in my brain over every single word I type out or say.  Like there -- I could almost imagine a collection of words duking it out like a gigantic boxing match or professional wrestling exhibition right there.  That's the biggest obstacle toward my inability to be a halfway decent writer being, is my inability to just let the words roll out as they may while having the compulsion to be a total verbal control freak.  Perhaps these exercises will help me toward my goal of eventually being able to write out a whole novel.  Which would be beyond amazing, I should think; I would love to be able to participate in NaNoWriMo one year AND reach the goal of 50,000 words in a month.  Wow, wouldn't that be amazing?  In order for me to be able to do that, however, I need to work on my ability to just let go and "let it flow", as the Most Awesome Person In The World (no, not Simon) would say.  Perhaps this will be my key to being able to accomplish that goal.

The end.  (For tonight, anyway.)

NaBloPoMo Day 30: The End [for 2010]

It's incredibly difficult for me to believe that the end of November is already at hand.  It seems as though 2010 just got kicked off, and now we're looking at the last month of the year beginning in just a few short hours.  I can still remember being nearly aghast that 2000 was upon us and not truly believing that we were going to have to start our dates with "20__" after growing up with "19__".  Remember Y2K?  So do I, and I think we all believed that that would cause a major computer meltdown unless the old COBOL programmers/software engineers who were drawn out of retirement could fix the issue with the older systems we all thought controlled a lot of the basic infrastructure of the world.  I think when midnight struck on January 1, 2000, and nothing happened, we all said a silent prayer for those aging veterans because we figured they'd already solved everything by the start of the holidays and were happily luxuriating back at home, close to a toasty fire and their loving relatives.  Or maybe a couple of them were in New York City, taking advantage of the special occasion by dining with their loved ones at a fancy restaurant (with a view) called Windows of the World.  Sounds familiar?  It should be if you're old enough to remember the news reports on 9/11[/2001], when a little NYC landmark called the World Trade Center was attacked by two hijacked planes and the Windows of the World came tumbling down.

I can remember hearing about that news report primarily when my dad, who was at home after having retired and then being told he had stage 4 renal cell carcinoma, woke me (still a college student) up and told me about some planes attacking the World Trade Center.  At that time I was groggy and thought he was talking about some movie he was watching that looked exciting to him, so I humored him and turned it to the channel he said for me to turn it to.  That day I stayed home from school, and Mom came home from work (where she was under contract after having retired from the same place) at noon and we all stayed home together, the four of us (including my beloved dog C).  Now my dad and C are both gone from the world, my mom stopped working when the contract ran out and Dad had to go through dialysis, I've had a lot of health issues to deal with, and we moved from that house where we all huddled together watching Peter Jennings (how can it be that he's gone?) telling us what was happening in NYC, at the Pentagon, and that remote field in Pennsylvania, over to a house in a neighborhood I'd yet to visit as of 2001.  So much has changed within the span of a decade, yet it hardly feels like it's even been a year since the start of 2000, when the world was normal and bland and I took a lot of things for granted.  Now I would kill for the simplicity of that year.

In about a month we're going to have to start getting used to writing out "2011" for our year.  How futuristic does 2011 sound?  When I think of 2011 I imagine flying hovercars darting across the sky, special remotes that allow you to order up anything with a few clicks, drive-through grocery shopping pods, and pills that can help you live forever.  Certain aspects of everyday contemporary life are futuristic -- now it's possible to work from home, confer face to face with people from around the world via computer, use a web browser to point and click and order most things one would want, phones that you can stick in your purse or pocket that can make and send phone calls and do so much more than that (from taking pictures and videos to accessing the Internet), personal computers that are infinitely more powerful than the warehouse-size computing behemoths of the 1960s and '70s (back when my parents were already married!), portable gadgets that can give you audible directions to wherever you're going, commercial-free radio stations that are accessible throughout the nation and with a push of a button, etc.  But in many ways, this still feels very similar to the way life felt ten years ago, which felt very similar to the way life felt ten years before that, and so on.  There's an old cliche that says, "The more things change, the more they stay the same," and that comes to mind.  Perhaps that will be said about 2019 melting into 2020, or 2029 melting into 2030.  We'll all be older and things will seem a lot cruder and a hell of a lot more fast-paced.  Slowly the teens of today will grow older and see life from the perspective of someone my age, and I will slowly come to realize life from the perspective of someone my mom's age.  People in general will seem younger and older loved ones will fade away before my eyes.  I won't be able to pick out the world of my youth, but it will still feel very similar.

In just two more hours, it will be December 1, 2010.  My mom will turn 65 in two weeks and my beloved grandfather would be 103 (if he were still living) in about a week.  In about a month my grandma would've been 98.  In the middle of next year we will commemorate eight years since I lost my father.  The children who were the age I was when my grandfather passed at the same time that I lost my father will be turning 17 next year and looking forward to their senior years of high school.  Life continues on and we are powerless to stop that from happening, yet with each passing year comes a new opportunity to re-engineer our lives.  Goodbye November 2010 -- it was real.  Hello December 2010 -- what do you hold for me?

NaBloPoMo Day 29

Why are the first days back at school or work after a prolonged holiday period so incredibly impossible to go through?  I normally adore going into work, but today it took me all I could just to get through the day.  I suppose part of it is based on my not being rested up enough to tackle the day.  I'm not the same person I was when I was able to thrive on just three hours' sleep in high school and college.  I am older and I feel older and it's just so much harder for me to get a little sleep at night, wake up ready for the day (without coffee!), progress through the day, take a short nap in the interim period between afternoon and evening, and be awake and alert throughout the rest of the night.  I also suppose there's a little bit of the "it was so much fun just waking up later, having some fun for a couple of days, and not having to follow the same daily schedule for a couple of days, but now I have to get back on the old horse" element to the day.

Oh dear God, my baby dog just acted up horribly and my mom just delivered a major punishment to her, with my assistance.  This is the third time she's done this and I know it enrages my mom because it's a horrible thing for a dog to do, and part of me feels kinda horrible about my mom being so hot-headed about it, but the other part understands that she has every right to feel this way, and I did help my mom discipline our dog.  At the same time, I also feel guilty because I don't think I'm being as vigilant about being a disciplinarian to my pup as I should be and I feel like I should be creating a stricter, more structured environment for her.  I'm glad I'm going through all of this with a puppy instead of with a baby because I have a feeling this is all prepping me for becoming a parent, and the ramifications of a rascally child have the ability to have greater impact than those of a rascally puppy.  So perhaps it's imperative I learn these lessons before I start the process of motherhood.  Yikes.  Though I suppose on that front I have my mom to turn to for parenting advice; she was a very strict, very effective mom, and I consider that the best kind of parenting.

So.  Anyway.  As far as things aside from that of the everyday, what else is happening in my world?  Well, I managed to read through most of the newspaper this afternoon instead of taking breaks at work, and I was able to notice that the local newspaper's gotten dumber since the last time I was able to read through it.  I didn't think that was possible.  And I don't know what they did with their editorial section, because I read through almost all the sections of the paper and I couldn't find any of it.  Did they do something wholly illogical such as stick the editorial section in the middle of the classifieds section?  Do they figure that since they post their stories online and allow for comments that that's enough editorializing as it is?  Or did they completely do away with the editorials?  Or... come to think of it, I think my mom (since I brought the newspaper from home) took out a small section of the Metro section with some obituaries.  That can't have completely gotten rid of the editorials, could it?  If so, that'd mean the editorials for a Sunday edition have reduced to the size of the editorials section from an average weekday back when I last regularly read the paper.  And as for the rest of the paper, I felt like I was reading through a high school paper, with several holiday ad circulars stuck in the middle.  This must be why readership numbers are severely down; you can find a lot more quality news reporting on the various news blogs/"pajamams media" sources out there, and for the professional angle you can simply drop into the LA Times, BBC News, Fox News, and CNN websites for trustworthy and traditional reporting.

Gosh, what else is there to talk about?  Nothing much; just little tidbits here and there.  It really is just one more day before the end of NaBloPoMo, isn't it?  I'm nearly completely drawn up at the well here, and what I do have are the bottom dregs.  It's been a fantastic exercise in regular blogging, but at the same time it's been an exercise in ignoring other things I've been wanting to do online.  Because of how tightly restricted my schedule is, I can only do a few things online at a time and this has been completely taking over my ability to do a lot of other things I've been wanting to do throughout the month.  Still, it's exposed that weakness in my life and I could take action to try to remedy it, through a more efficiently regimented life.  And with that, I close the second-to-last entry for this year's NaBloPoMo.