remembering the good ones

I just texted my old boss and told him what a great boss he was.

I felt compelled to do this because every day — every single day — I am confronted by the Platonic ideal of The Bad Boss and had to remind myself that there are good ones out there, that this situation is hopefully temporary.
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next time, open with that

Ever since I was young, I’ve had thyroid issues. A surgery in high school to remove a benign nodule left me with a killer neck scar, and in the intervening years, things have not improved.

So I finally scheduled an appointment with the first endocrinologist who would see me before 2014, and went on Friday.

It was not a very good day: I got something less than four hours’ sleep; it was bucketing down rain, which is lovely when you can stay indoors and listen to it, but not so lovely when you have to drive in it; and I was catastrophically sleepy. I drove extra-slowly, just in case.

I got to spend a good half-hour babbling with the doctor about my thyroid and diabetes issues, and got some good tips for food and stuff, and then I got taken down the hall for an ultrasound on my thyroid. Miss Thing lubed me up and rolled the sensor around my throat, asking me to turn my head this way and that.

At one point, with my head tilted back and pointed more or less in the direction of the monitor, I saw her clicking around, marking the edges of a brighter section.

“Is that the tumor?” I joked.

“Who told you that?” she snapped back.

“Um … it was … just a joke?”

She was silent for the rest of the ultrasound. I focused my attention on the ceiling tiles.

Then the doctor came in, to look at the pictures she had taken, and run the scanner thing around my throat himself. She pointed at something on the printout.

“I marked it, because it’s about a centimeter.” The doctor mm-hmm’d and kept ultrasounding, and in the thirty seconds before he spoke again, my mind went fucking nuts.

A centimeter? It IS a tumor, goddammit, I’ve got fucking cancer and I’m going to have to have surgeries and radiation and chemotherapy and dammit, I’m nauseated enough from the fucking diabetes medication, I don’t need even more nausea from cancer treatment and jesus christ, do I have life insurance through Loki’s insurance plan? What will happen if I die? I need to get a living will done up, and probably a regular will, and a DNR, because it is not about being hooked up to a machine and oh gods Loki is going to shit because it’ll be his brother all over again and oh gods I have cancer jesus a centimeter-sized tumor – I hold up my thumb and look at the nail, which is about a centimeter and — GODDAMN IT LOOKS GIGANTIC WHY IS THAT IN MY THROAT oh gods I’m going to die cancer cancer cancer cancer AAAAARGH and then the doctor finishes the scan and asks me to sit up.

“So,” he begins, “on the left side we see scarring, and that’s probably from your surgery. On the right side, we see this area, which could be swelling, and we’ve marked it, so we know what size it is now, and we’ll scan you again in three months and see if there’s any change, but it’s most likely not a tumor,” he concluded, way too far into that paragraph than he should have done.

“Not a tumor? Next time, START WITH THAT BIT.”

“Ah, yes, of course. No, it’s probably not a tumor, probably not cancer, but we’ll keep an eye on it.”

And I melted into a puddle of relief and exhaustion and the lifting of a weight, and went home and told Loki that I probably wasn’t going to die from a lump in my throat.

So I’ve got that going for me.

stuff, I have been doing it

So I’m still rocking the sabbatical from gainful employment, but I have not been just sitting around, oh, no.

I have painted many walls in (mostly) pleasing colors. I have cleared out the home office. I have planted plants, tended plants, killed plants. I have freelanced and worked on websites and mowed the lawn.

But the most fun I have had is directing, shooting and editing videos.

I did a stop-motion cupcake film for my friends’ Indiegogo campaign, which was fun and frustrating and then fun again. I used chroma keying for the first time here, and learned a lot, and wish it had come out better, but I didn’t want to delay it any longer; I’d lost several days to melted cupcakes/frosting/accoutrements and didn’t want to take any longer than the project already had. The main thing I learned: It is hard to animate something with no limbs.

The other one I did was the 2nd official Reliquary video, for our song Shadows Cast.

YouTube Preview Image

This was epic amounts of fun.

The last one was also fun, but had many issues. I tried to overcome these, and think I mostly succeeded.

Incandescent bulbsThe main thing that made this video more fun to edit was the sheer amount of footage we shot: nearly four dozen clips of performance, non-performance and silliness. Compare to the six clips we shot for the first video, two of which we were unable to use, and you can see how this one was going to be miles better just on principle. And we had a bigger and better backdrop, which allowed for more movement and more diverse angles, and much better lighting — those awesome hanging incandescent bulbs, some wicked-bright LED light-strips, moonflowers, and LED spots. Some of the shots are still too dark, but they are an order of magnitude better than the ones for Blind.

I also worked in some transitions, and tried to incorporate subtle effects, like bumping the color or saturation up or down a bit; and a slight tilt-shift effect, mainly to bring Kara to prominence in the strobe-y shots (like the still, above). I think it worked pretty well.

It made me want to just rush right out and shoot another video, and in fact we tossed around a few ideas while we were shooting, so hopefully it won’t take a year to get another video done!

bend in the road

Three days ago, my employer decided they no longer had need of my services, and walked me out of the building.

To say this was a shock is pretty much the understatement of the century. Six and a half years down the drain, and not because of anything I did, or didn’t do, as far as I can tell: just silly office politics and misunderstandings.

Anyway. I’m not moaning about it. I’m pretty sure there’s a better opportunity out there for me, and I intend to find it and grab it. (If you think you might know of someone who’s hiring awesome people, let me know & I’ll send you my details.)

Hilariously, this came literally right in the middle of some big improvements we’re doing to the house — improvements I now kind of regret, but there’s no going back. On the plus side, our back yard is now a place of beauty and calm, and our dreadful sliding patio door will be replaced by a lovely french door on Tuesday. I wish I could cancel the door, but it’s custom, and paid for, and non-returnable, alas. Trust me when I tell you I will be using the hell out of that door, to get the full value from it.

(Pictures of the back yard, before and after, start here, and I did a timelapse video of the work being done.)

So I’m at a bend in the road. I’m not sure where it leads to, and the not-knowing is pretty scary, I’ll admit, but I’m also excited by the possibilities. I’m ready for more awesome in my life.

(Administrative note: the Facebook crosspost/comment ability may bork this post. Please ignore any weirdness; it’s temporary. Thanks!)

knock me over with a feather

I have just gotten the shock of my life, you guys. If you were to tell me the sky was falling, I would be less shocked, totally not kidding.

A few weeks ago, we got one of those DNA tests for your dog, because we’ve always wondered what breeds Freya is, right? Quick swab of the cheek, send dog-spit to lab, chew fingernails for a couple weeks, get confirmation, go on with our lives.

Except in this case, the confirmation has just BLOWN MY FUCKING MIND.

So just to refresh your memory, this is our Miss Freya:

wee-girlie [click to embiggen] chomp [click to embiggen]  freya-goldeneyes [click to embiggen] Little Miss [click to embiggen]

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life intervenes

I keep thinking I have things to say that won’t fit into 140 characters, and then I get distracted by other things, and don’t write here. Hell, half the time I don’t even tweet.

It seemed like the holidays were crazy-insane, starting on Halloween and continuing through, like, yesterday: my sweetie’s mom came for Thanksgiving (there has to be a mom present for Thanksgiving or it doesn’t count); Christmas was several weeks of silliness (we found ourselves with a bit of extra money and had a blast getting our friends books and book-related gifts); New Year’s was awesome (we went as Arthur and Trillian to a sci-fi-themed fancy-dress party); my birthday party was a triumph (brunchy things, including homemade crepes, washed down with mimosas and blackberry bellinis, which were all nearly too delicious for words); then a last-minute trip to NAMM last week, that we combined with a couple days at Disneyland (a fantastic vacation in every way possible).

But now things should be calming down, and I want to write more. I want to take more pictures, describe more things, be more present.

After all, I won’t be able to remember this stuff in twenty years’ time; it’d be good to have it all nicely chronicled, right?

winding down

I am finally at the end of three or four weeks of craziness: daily practice for our show; playing the show (no pics of us have surfaced yet, but here is my set of Bella Morte shots); having my mom as a houseguest for a couple days on her way to a vacation with her sister; going camping; having my mom as a houseguest again, after her triumphant return from Durango, Canyon de Chelly and points north and east; and a fairly crazy few weeks at work that are still ongoing.

And in the midst of all this, we’re integrating the kittens that no one wanted to adopt (you’re missing out, seriously), keeping the dogs entertained, and pretending to clean the house occasionally.

I’m not gonna lie; I am wrecked.

I mean, our show was pretty good — I wasn’t too nervous, I didn’t screw up too badly, the sound was killer, and most of the other bands were great people and made with the serious rocking.

And camping was crazy good. I love when it gets down to the high 40s or low 50s, because I sleep so well in the cold. And the dogs had a blast, and our new gear was just exactly what we needed, without being heavy or expensive or fussy, and it was a delightful 2 1/2 days with some of my very favorite people, and I can’t wait to do it again as soon as we possibly can.

But despite these pockets of awesome … I am looking forward to a few days of nothing much to do, and long days in which to do it.

outnumbered four to one

Since no one wanted to adopt our kittens — or, rather, could adopt our kittens — it’s pretty certain we’ll be keeping them. I am simultaneously happy and anxious about this — happy because, well, kittens; and anxious because for one thing, if the animals organize an uprising we are fucked.

We’ve been slowly introducing them to the other cats using the methods suggested by the behaviorist we engaged to help us with some of Miss Freya’s issues (a story for another time), and it’s been going as well as can be expected: Perdita is wary, Agnes is pissed, Ix is indifferent and Windle’s excited by the new range of food he can steal.

The kittens themselves are thrilled by all the new things to smell and new kitties to play with and new places to hide and the way they can get up to top speed, round corners by digging their claws into the carpet, and end up in a whole new room in just seconds. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, loving it.

Earlier in the week, we let the kittens go as far down the stairs as they dared, while the dogs waited anxiously on the landing, separated by the baby gate. Only Mr Grey went down, curious but cautious. Then Friday, while I was at work, Loki let the dogs come upstairs to meet the kittens properly.

I’m so pissed I missed this. Apparently it was super-cute and no kittens were mauled in the course of the love-fest.

So I guess we have to come up with names now. I personally favored Marmalade and Dumpling, as befitting an orange cat and a pudgy one, but I think they may end up as Trillian and Arthur, unless anyone has a better suggestion — and supposing we can remember to actually call them that.