Friday, December 29, 2006

do i like this new blogger? not sure yet. my body looks like it's been in a war and i have a giant bruise on my cheek and it's like wtf? did i punch myself in the face in my sleep? i must have because that's the only explanation.

did you hear? did you hear about the world peace that broke out? hussein is dead and now iraq is like a big disco party and everyone has ponies and holding hands and oh everyone converted to christianity in the whole world and then the angels came down from the heavens...

and shot us all to hell. do you ever sit on a plane in front of loud mouth assholes who pat each other on the back about how reagan was the greatest and bush junior is even greater and we're all too stupid to see it now. yeah. i guess that must be true. i guess when i get that lobotomy i'll be able to see it too.

the cost of string? who knows? what is it worth in the end anyway as long as it made some people happy. all i keep rewinding in my head is the whole i am ashamed of you...i am ashamed of you...i am ashamed of you. it's like a sick xmas song for the dysfunctional family...i am ashamed of you...medical care isn't for people like you who can't afford it...i'm cutting you off...i'm cutting you out of the will...oh you are sick? yeah grandmother fakes that hand shaky thing too...i am ashamed of you...quicken will save us all...get out of the car then...just go...just stop shaming me.

damn. if this were an old samurai movie...thank god i only have that stupid plastic sword they gave out at last year's gdc.

this year's gotta be better than the last?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

me on npr in a story on game accessibility for the blind on xmas eve...meanwhile in non-radio life i tried to ignore, well, everything around me.

Friday, December 22, 2006

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homeland security has *recently* upgraded our alert to orange according to the speaker system...but hasn't it been orange for many, many months now? and is orange the middle or second to the top? it did cause quite the commotion at o'hare security as we moved all our damn gels into new plastic bags and meanwhile i got to the conveyor belt to see, shit, i didn't take out the laptops yet. so i had to yell down for someone to pass me some spare plastic tubs (one laptop per). yeah. two laptops. that's how i roll.

anyway, i've been trying to get home since 5am but now it's 5:30pm and i have *at least* another hour to wait because our incoming flight is circling above chicago due to the traffic. you know...fucking holidays. airport hell is how i roll.

and i had to take a bus to o'hare because nothing's leaving champaign for the next 40 days due to, i don't know...sun? all i know is that i'm manic now so i best avoid my family by working non-stop on my dissertation. it's the only way to survive.

lonely nights, never end,
they come here again and again,
whenever i'm alone, without you.
this love, it seems, to keep taking me higher.
but i'm flying alone, without you.
i know i tried and tried before,
(i know, you know.)
you know i need you more and more.
were you tellin' me lies?
did you really mean goodbye?
can't you see, I'm yours,
i'm in love for the first time.
and now I'm lost,
without you, without you, without you, without you.

i'm flying with broken wings,
i'm flying alone.
(yeah, i'm flying, yeah i'm flying alone)
i'm flying with broken wings,
i'm flying alone.

(can't you hear me, can't you hear me?)
i'm flying with broken wings,
i'm flying alone.
hendrix, as performed by the ohare holiday band...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

so soon i'll be on npr but i won't know when or what show yet but it could be all things considered. which would be amazing. so, yeah, i had to go to the npr station here and do some weird phone patch in thing with the reporter from san francisco and it's being edited now so that all the "uh..." pauses are removed. it took a couple minutes to get myself from the "uh" habit but once i became aware of it, things were better. it's been a long time since the days of the woove and i couldn't just say shit like " i fell asleep so that's why you heard the whole half of that album..." and then have friends call in so we could mock people.

did i just say album? oy...

anyway, i was in my other office yesterday -- the one on the complete, complete opposite side of campus from my dorm one -- and i remembered that i'd been meaning to take in the mac laptop to figure out what the fuck was wrong with the wireless. so there's a mac store that's in the same building as all the illinois campus media and the radio station has the dj in the store window...which is creepy. maybe it's a chicago thing because they do that on michigan avenue. i don't know. i do know that they are commercial, which drives me insane -- no campus radio station should be slave to the man. that's right. i said it. the man. and i do know that they don't look anywhere near as sleep deprived and/or high as we did. and i don't know the answer to this for sure but i'm thinking that they probably don't take requests to play the emergency broadcast system...back when it was that two-tone fucker of sound.

which brings me back to npr...that was our parent station and would receive all of our random ebs shit and turn us in. what? ok, it wasn't like 9/11 was anywhere close to happening and the cold war had closed up shop so we were bored, we were slackers, we were grunge. and kurt cobain was still alive and nirvana was still underground and, fucking hell, no he did not die from overeating. wtf. no really. someone actually said that to me the other day: "didn't he die from overeating?" wow. no.

but beside all that i'm not dying from overeating because i can't keep anything down and i'm wondering if it's because i owe 8 million dollars in medical bills?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

technically speaking, i was fired on the 19th. that's because of the whole banner fuck up with my med insurance, etc that happened right before thanksgiving. only i'm just finding this out.

why was i fired? computer glitch that has collapsed my whole house of cards. of course this begs the i'm going to work tonight, why?

there are many terms for this kind of behavior of mine. saint/sinner. sucker. idiot. the guy who hoards the stapler in the movie "office space." i guess there's also "actually gives a shit" and "person who hates the system so much that they'd go to work for free just to completely and utterly annoy the people who have to figure out what to do with all those clocked in hours that have appeared on their computer unexplained." freud would have called this...uh...something to do with my parents, only in german. all probably fitting terms. especially the translated in german bit. everything sounds more severe in german. not just german...but german for sure.

i'm now trying to come to terms why exactly my face has broken's not like i don't know the answer (period in t-minus 3 days)...i'm just not able to comprehend, at this moment, how much i owe in medical bills thanks to the ol' insurance cancellation trick (if you are thinking over 10 are close!) and what reality show do i need to win in order to raise that cash...which means anything minor that happens in my life (flood, fire, face breakouts) just can't get processed.

yeah i was kidding about the flood and fire being minor events. thought i'd clear that up before it happened to me.

the gift of life. some days it's like that sweater you got for your birthday that you hate but can't bring back and have to wear it every time you see the person who gave it to you in order to avoid major ass conflict.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"so where exactly do you think we are?" [scrubs]

i'm not quite sure, really...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

in canada, i'm famous.

that being illinois? i mean wtf does it take for the university to fucking put this on their homepage? yes, the "university" is "my father" blah blah fucking blah. call freud up next time and he'll explain it all. or, i guess, channel freud, being that he's dead and all. anyway this is the interesting bit -- accessibility gets more attention from industry than academia. there. i said it. i'm really starting to believe it more and more every day.

and that being said...i hate having to post narcissistic things to bring attention to the field. you'd think i were religious from the way that i have an anxiety attack when i do anything that smacks of pride. so that last bit about illinois? i feel like an asshole for saying "hey, wtf -- is anything i do good enough for you people?" and by "you people," i'm referring to the university administration...not individual departments. instead...i get a dramatic email about how i'm "just a grad student" from them. that is true...but i am also NOT a teaching assistant. maybe they could have emailed me to get the right department to verify this bit?

and that being said...i moved all my books to the creepy col wolfe building so i am now forced to work there. it reminds me of the office christine and i shared back in the ncsa days in *is* just around the corner. and that's probably a good thing.


Monday, November 13, 2006

ok, how about this: every time a doctor gives me grief about my period, the terrorists win!'s the damn opiod's connection with the middle east. so it's more like every period that i live through without any pain killers shows that i love america.

god dammit.
so every month that passes, i'm getting more and more concerned about what i couldn't say but could only write down on a card for chris to read.'s the menstrual psychosis thing, the extreme high followed by the extreme low in a short period (haha) of time. the weirdest thing is the recurring dream i get after the crash...the geology lab architecture dream.

so dr b...why are we not analyzing THIS? surely it's more interesting than why i don't like mondays.

and why is tivo giving me such grief? why am i letting it give me such grief? and can it really be possible that my period is starting again? and did you know that instead of percocet more doctors are comfortable prescribing methadone as a pain killer because of all the percocet/oxycontin debacle? i can see it, hanging out at the meth clinic...for cramps.

i'm hard core.

and, no, i can hardly get a damn doctor to prescribe advil to me let alone percocet. but maybe if i picked up a heroin habit real quick i could get some methodone. does this make ANY sense at ALL? it's amazing that i haven't picked up a serial killer habit real quick.

and fuck you blog censors. i'll say whatever i fucking want on this.

Friday, November 10, 2006

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i know. wtf, right? why did i post this? i just liked the ice cream image on the bathroom condom dispensor. mom?????? can i get an ice cream cone???? marketing people...

"need to talk to your kids about sex? then bring them to the montreal airport bathroom where you can talk about it with friendly images that kids can identify with!"

christ, no, i don't think that's what they were thinking...but it made me laugh anyway. i've heard worse.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

so quebec...what's with your metro system? you walk into an entryway and instead of seeing anything resembling what looks like a subway and/or other kind of transportation see a set of stairs...that leads into a food court. so i went back outside, figuring i went into the wrong set of i go downstairs and, yeah, i'm in a food court and this giant underground mall that reminded me a lot of taipei, only there you did at least have some signs here and there that you were going past shops but headed towards a subway stop.

so i'm walking around, asking as many retail workers as i can find in case i can find one that understands that i'm looking for this fabled transportation system. finally i get to a station stop...kind of. i'm expecting that there will be some kind of machines where, oh, one could buy a ticket. nope. just a desk. and it seems that where i was trying to go was one stop away...yet cost $2.50! shit i could have walked if i weren't in period hell pain. even with the pain...$2.50!?! and that wasn't roundtrip. then it turns out that i'm not even going where i thought i was going.

where was i trying to go? well, it seems that the conference people wrote me a check in canadian dollars from a canadian bank (or banque) that my bank in the us is gonna be SUPER happy about (how many weeks/months do you think it will take them to clear that check when it takes them 13 days to clear my direct deposit checks from university payroll? so since it's my last day in canada, i thought that i'd go to the bank that issued the check and see if they can do a direct deposit into my us account and/or recut the check in a more accessible format like travellers checks (cheques) or an international money order. nope. same as have to open an account and there was no fucking way i wanted to open a checking account in another country and then wait for 40 days for the check to clear and try to transfer that money to some other format...%($#*%(#(@*$(#@

anyway, it was a total waste of 4 hours and then i got caught in a rain downpour. so while i was getting soaked, i took pix of the cool and what has to be amazingly expensive xmas lights that are on every fucking tree in this fucking city. and i ran into this guy who works in the hotel and was laughing at my taking pictures of city stickers and signs who gave me ideas about the coolest picture taking places in the area -- earlier we'd had a conversation about how "mooning" and the fact that we have homeless camped out down the street from the white house is such an "american" statement and that seattle was pretty close to montreal in look and feel. this after my asking all the staff why everyone was wearing a red posey today (tomorrow is canada's version of veteran's day and they are dealing with the first generation in a long time of children remembering their parents who were recently killed in a war, lost in the iraq disaster.

and i'm so fucking glad the us house and senate is out of republican control. fuck, i think the whole world might feel that way. and my moods are way out of control and it doesn't have anything to do with the us house or senate that i know of...i'm really, really, really tired of my period. and i'm really, really, really sick of it meaning that i've had to miss out on fun things, like everything at the conference that wasn't my talk.

my latest art project is completely disgusting and could, possible, land me in a whole heap of trouble coming back through customs tomorrow. and, no, it doesn't have anything to do with the canadian flag...oddly i haven't seen any of them for sale anywhere. but i'm not really in a souvenir part of town...more like the expensive stores that i can't afford to even enter. maybe i'll find some bulk flags on sale at the airport tomorrow so that i can play the fun with customs game..."do you have flags in your bag?"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

the rules of speaking engagements

the rules of speaking engagements
Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
so today i gave a talk on accessibility to a pretty sizeable crowd (and no one did the "oh, i must be in the wrong session" faux-confusion maneuver to escape so i actually had the same audience members from start to finish. and i felt good about the talk. i felt completely relaxed and in the groove and you know? for fuck's sake...i felt proud of myself for the first time in a long time. i got a huge number of compliments for my "passionate" and "laid back" speaking style and one of my room assistants told me that he forgot to give me my five minute warning because he was so into what i was talking about and showing in my video clips. and i got a few invites to collaborate on grants...and i was interviewed by the canadian press (canada's version of the associated press) and, damn, that was cool...

what's going on? the canadian press guy even asked me how i'm handling my newfound fame.

fame. i want to live forever. i'm gonna learn how to fly. high.

now, more than ever, it's time to graduate.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

flu. that's about the last thing i needed to come down with...ok, let's get real...i could have come down with pretty much anything and it would have been the last thing i needed. so revised...illness. that's about the last thing i needed to come down with.

it's probably time to change my mind on that whole vaccine thing.

so i'm up. it's 2am. i'm freezing because i'm in the living room, which has major ass draft. i'm watching some damn show called platinum weddings and it's irritating me. so i must change channels. i don't care about watching people with an extra hundred grand or so to spend on ONE FUCKING DAY.

but the good news is that it's looking good for me getting a raise, which is about fucking time. i have no clue what the details are on that. but at least there's now hope.

sometimes i worry that these drugs i take to *normalize* are doing anything but that. yeah, we've been through this before. i mean i was afraid to take anything for way too long but the cocktail i'm on...i'm just not sure it's really helping much...maybe i expect too much. maybe i just need to accept that i'll always be this way and that it's ok. or is that giving in too much? giving up rather than acceptance...

Monday, October 23, 2006

my personal version of ocd is having to have everything "just right" in any document i'm working on before i can feel "ready" to write. the bullshit part of what i just said is that i do my best writing on the fly and in a hurry and my worst when i have everything set up "just right." so how to remedy this?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

so i just need to tell some stories...just start to tell some stories...not just story snippits like you see here but stories...most of the whole damn truth of the matter. something like that. then i have to go through a bunch of bullshit bureaucratic crap with my college -- like the new thesis checker approval for every god damn step of the way. why? what the hell kind of waste of time is that? it's not like any phase is going to look like the last phase and many faculty members know the grad college's thesis format requirements by heart or even enough to give a shit?




speaking of wastes of time, i had to take that damn ethics exam that the state requires from all university employees and guess what? here's all you need to know: don't steal money, don't accept gifts from contractors trying to gain favor with the state/university (of course how would you know this unless you had the time to waste pouring over every goddamn piece of paper in this place?), and don't politic during work hours. got it. whatever. but i wish i worked in a department where filling it out was crossing the picket line...honestly? i can't afford the $5k penality from my department. but a certain other academic department is banding together and NOT filling it out to fight the system to say that it would be unethical to fill out the ethics exam with the answers that they want because by doing that (see question #10), you pretty much violate the whole damn system by answering it correctly (ie, "yes").

but it's not MY department. of course not. instead we pay attention to procedure, as procedure is important to follow because that's what good citizens of freedom do...follow...follow...follow the rules because if you don't then the terrorists win. i remember when there was some point of my life where i believed that our college was somehow counterculture. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. we're so far up the administration's ass it's ridiculous.

i know i know...don't hold back. tell me how you really feel.

Monday, October 16, 2006

back from canada, back now for days but i'm so tired and i guess it's most likely anemia, right? time for more iron pills...

Friday, October 13, 2006

weirdness...the room service breakfast guy who i've seen every morning this week...turns out he is syrian and the thing is? his mother's last name was our original last name...and then he asks if i have relatives in nebraska. uh...yeah. my grandfather GREW UP there!

it is an amazingly small world and i think that this week i met the man my grandfather might have been had he never met my grandmother...uncanny.

time to go to the airport now...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

influential gamer? not sure that's the right title for me but it is a nice article. what's funny is that the news comes from the college i work for rather than the college i'm in. actually it's not funny at all. but i'm pretty used to it. i should be. by now.

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snow...wind...hitting me in the eyes and it's hard to take a picture of snow that's so wild and fast.

red against white. and the man at the counter demanding valium and the pharmacist said that it happens every day, she was just going to call security. my whole being is the canadian flag and will i have to pay for the damages to the linens?

i made it through the presentation...and then went to an urgent care clinic because i was in more than enough pain and guess what i left in chambana? my period seriously is a week early. so i discovered canadian medicine. it seems much more calm. yeah, it's just as slow as us ERs...only they believe that you are actually in pain. and the nurse even double checked my blood pressure after they gave me the shot because she was worried that my blood pressure might get really low after the shot because it was already so low to begin with. i clearly favor my grandfather on that issue...

so this conference has been pretty unfun for me...i did get to talk to a canadian broadcasting company reporter about game accessibility, though, and that was cool. hopefully they will air it...he said he'd email to let me know later when it would be available on their website. oh...did i tell you that i was named one of the 100 most influential women in the game industry? yeah that was shocking. but cool.

so here's what i'm think of for next summer (my target "prize" for defending my dissertation. go to china for HCII and then spend a few weeks travelling around asia and then hit digra/tokyo game show then i don't have to endure four 18 hour flights a month apart in time and maybe i can see hong kong, thailand, vietnam, maybe korea unless that loon in north korea has blown up the whole region...that would significantly damper that trip...

and, no, i'm not leaving ontario until friday so that gets me another day away from the latest airline/airport mess thanks to that baseball player flying into a new york apartment building and then jesse and i pretending we were fox news covering "the hidden terrorist agenda" no matter what the truth actually turned out to be...but tomorrow is thesis super work day now that the conference is done and done tomorrow morning and there's nothing i'm particularly interested in seeing tomorrow morning so it was technically done and done today.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

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downtown london ontario, taken from a starbucks (i'm always taking mobile phone pix from a starbucks...why?

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work in the middle of the night, trying to get organized, trying to get into some kind of routine...mostly the cramping started to roll in...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

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london, ontario at night...while i was up until 4am was outside raining and this shot is blurred...but the fedex kinkos sign only has the "ex-kink" lights working...

another 5 people in the us and 2 people in canada have entered hospital and are completely paralyzed by the botulism in cartons of carrot juice that had been recalled yet still on the shelves at stores. first of all...what the fuck? first spinich, then carrot juice. second...why were they drinking carrot juice anyway????

btw, a handfull of people have walked up to me and said "aren't you one of the 100 most influential women in the games industry?" is it the red hair?
posting from futureplay wifi all over this damn town, which is apparently has 350k people living in it but there's no way i believe that. so anyway, the morning was spent looking for pharmasave for pain killers because, yes, of course that time of month is starting but it's between 800mg of advil and 5 mg hydrocodone on the pain luckily this is canada so i was able to buy tylenol with codeine (along with caffeine so now i'm buzzing from the caffeine, which at least makes me feel less sleepy). must be nice to live in a civilized country...speaking of which...

the other day c and i were walking around downtown and we passed by this other couple who was talking in disbelief about "how dare there be an anti-american protest" (read: it was probably an anti-war protest...remember we live in bush country where everything is black or white) and if they hate this land of the free so much then they should go to iraq. uh, yeah, well...that's the point of the protest...we've fucked up iraq so much that the people of iraq are no doubt saying "wow. thanks...thanks a lot for completely wrecking our country." so perhaps our "either you love america or you hate it" couple can go visit iraq themselves and see what we've done there...maybe we all should.

anyway, this afternoon when i arrived for the talks i wanted to see...i saw one on qualitative research and i was like FUCK YEAH they JUST gave me a place to, well, place my dissertation. basically the talk...just that talk made it 100% worth the trip to ontario. i could see no other talks and that would be ok because i saw that talk. the light at the end of the tunnel just got a lot brighter.

fuck yeah.

Monday, October 09, 2006

in london ontario where it seems to be a post-industrial crash flint michigan crossed with champaign-urbana...kinda. it's definitely a college town, apparently one of the largest universities in canada is the university of western ontario. but a lot of the reason for the desolate downtown, i imagine, is the fact that today is canadian thanksgiving so the only restaurant open was at my hotel and a pricey $35 (canadian) for a swanson's tv dinner...ok, it wasn't that bad. but it wasn't that good either.

it seemed that people seemed uncomfortable by my having a table for one but fuck it. i mean it's not like i'm not used to having thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant...and it's not my thanksgiving anyway (we, however, in the states are *celebrating* columbus day...). but, you know, it was no big deal for me and there's no way i was paying room service charges. christ.

i've mapped out pharmacies in the local area and i really don't think i'm gonna have a problem getting the canada-only cramp meds...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

first post in october and what do you's my birthday.

it's been a strange day...but it's not like that really sets the day apart from any other of my days. i'm still pretty weirded out by the fictional conversation that happened last night. and i'm wearing the shoes i bought at century 21 next to the world trade center back in, uh, 1998 but the strange thing is that they are back in style, at least here in the US. and i'm wearing red lipstick and it dawns on me that you can't really pull off red until you've hit your 30s. you just end up feeling like a clown any time before that...

no word from my family and i suppose i deserve that. i really don't know anymore...but, you know? they forgot my 18th birthday too...funny.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

i never really liked baltimore all that much and not much has changed and as you might have guessed i'm tired, recovering and brought to you by the following pharmaceutical companies...

it dawned on me that i really DON'T have to do three people's jobs for the same $/per hour that kinkos is hiring for. so fucking what if we just bail on the study? who the fuck cares if the damn bulletin board never changes? and why should it be my fucking job to answer to parents about why someone else promised the sun, moon, and stars (in the form of tutors) and then bailed and left me with the whole fucking mess? here's my answer: "yeah, wow, you are right. this is one fucked up situation. believe me, i'm right there with you since they owe me half a house in back pay by now. here's the direct number to call ____ ______ and complain."

it does not matter. all i can do is hold up my end of the deal, work my 20 hours (which sometimes are worked all in one day!), and the things that don't happen? well, they just won't. i will not, not, NOT be the martyr here. i will not, not, NOT fuck up graduation...again. i will not, not, NOT let big administration tell me that it's all up to me. no. i will not be the business manager, i will not run the paper, i will not be trapped in a position where i am doing EVERYTHING and losing my mind all without any power/respect/whatever to actually DO things. my job is as a grad assistant NOT as cleaner upper of all the problems that others left in their wake. i will see THAT job through but i will not, not, NOT do the jobs of all those who left me in this mess. again, the direct number to call is ____ - ______ and ask them what the fuck is up?

seriously...or more would be a disservice to my girls if i let housing trample me down until i'm sick. that's exactly NOT what i want them to see. instead...they should see me do what needs to get done to graduate and not get caught in a depressive tidal wave doing well more than my share of the workload.

i will not let them reverse this on me. i will not believe that i have to accomodate to avoid abandonment. i will not let them tell me that they honestly give a shit about my graduation. because they don't. or they would have come in and done the work that needs to be done instead of just assuming i'd do it and sacrifice my needs, my life, my goals for the good of the party. because i will not, not, NOT.

call 1-800-eat-shit, motherfuckers. yeah, i DO have problems with authority, especially authority that does not step up to the plate. and i SO do not have a problem with saying that your number is up. i'm calling you on it. your time is over.

i hope you cry when you get home.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
ok so this is the sign below a poster of a woman touching a statue of jesus (no, it's not obscene) that i saw in helsinki and it reminded me of yesterday's pharmacy trip...

so two nuns walk up to the pharmacy pick up a refill of vicodin. apparently she has severe cramps...this is what i overheard as she was trying to help the pharmacist find her prescription (was it under "sister" "margret" or, wait, do nuns have last names? anyway it was crazy). she said she didn't really like taking it but then her nun friend said but at least you can be at peace that you've tried everything.

so two nuns...vicodin. severe cramps. and all along they are saying "oh my GOD, thank GOD the other two sisters left town with all the DRAMA going on" and i'm like, wtf? nuns can talk like that? what kind of drama could be going on that god had something to do with making sure two other nuns got out of dodge?

so two nuns...vicodin. severe cramps. THANK GOD that she could get a prescription filled WITH REFILLS. god. god. god. is there a god? who knows? there must be if they get pain meds for the exact same damn thing i have when i would probably have an easier time scoring heroin. no i haven't tried...i just assume it has to be easier. thanks must fucking hate me or "it's not in your plan" which was the other crap they were blathering on about.

so two nuns. vicodin. severe cramps. and, oh, the pharmacy was out of prozac. that's ok. you can just substitute pain meds before i rip my utereus out as payment and demand my change back from the register.


ah, fuck it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

i'm pretty sure i've never been this tired before. i just ache all over, can hardly stay awake...all i want to do is take a week off to sleep...and that isn't gonna happen unless i end up in hospital...and even then that is only gonna be a temp solution because when the week's'll be catch up time on all the stuff i missed and back to the insanity as well.

i feel like i'm doing a shitty job on everything, my classes suck so far (and i'm the instructor, so that's not good...), wimse's barely hanging on, there are no rooms for anything (classes, programs, etc), my dissertation? what the hell is that?

the doctor said that the stories of saints don't end well. we'll i can't be much of a saint if i'm running around trying to get bible studies shut down because of that little thing we call "separation of church and state" and this *is* a public university...of course then there's "freedom of assembly"...but then we *are* in a housing facility that is *supposed* to have restrictions on who can reserve the VERY limited space we have thanks to all the lounges being shut down and i'm sorry...i can't get space to teach my class but a church can book every lounge for 5 hour stretches in the evenings?

and my cat can barely walk because i brought her to the damn vet to get her annual check up and *somehow* they burst both her eardrums and now has a massive infection.

and all i feel like doing is pulling over on the side of the road and crying...

Friday, September 08, 2006

btw, i never did put up that article that got written about me in the local paper, the news gazette, on apr 16, 2006games that reach out

video games are a part of modern life for a lot of adults as well as kids, michelle hinn says. people talk about the latest games like they talk about the latest episode of the "sopranos" or the latest best-selling book. some online multiplayer games are, in fact, little societies in and of

hinn, a university of illinois doctoral student, is doing her dissertation on social interactions and learning among college students in such games, which she became interested in during a stint working for microsoft. here's no law saying that games have to be accessible," hinn said.

while a few game developers have begun to include accessibility features -- "half life 2" sported closed-captioning and the adventure game "terraformers" was designed to be played solely by sound as well as visuals -- hinn is working to make the practice widespread.

she founded the international game developers association game accessibility special interest group, has chaired it the last two years and is running for a seat on the association's board [note: well...that didn't end up working out but, hey, it was my first effort in game politics]. at the 2006 game developer's conference in san jose, calif., last month, she was one of three people who received an MVP award from the association. she works internationally with other people promoting and developing accessible games and is co-writing a book on accessible game development for charles river media, a computer books publisher.

she's also started a software company, donationcoder, with friend jesse reichler, a doctoral student in computer science at the UI, and is starting a consulting business centered on accessible game development.

"i'm just trying to create my own job basically," hinn said jokingly.

she does all this in between, among other things, teaching classes at the UI and serving as a counselor and instructor for the women in math, science and engineering section of the florida avenue residence halls, a classroom and residential program for women majoring in scientific and technical fields.

hinn is the rare person older than 30 that college students think of as "cool," said piper hodson, who directs the women in math, science and engineering program.

hodson thinks that's due in part to "street cred" from having worked for a big-name tech company like microsoft and also a result of hinn's research, which gives her a feel for youth culture.

"energy" is a word that seems to come up when people talk about hinn, including UI professor bertram "chip" bruce, her dissertation adviser. bruce said he's excited about the insights that could come from hinn's research using games as a window into understanding how young people collaborate, learn from each other, interact and share information. "i think michelle is doing terrific work," he said.

jason della rocca, executive director of the international game developers association, wouldn't disagree. "she's full of energy and excitement and really has a drive to advocate for building accessibility into video games,´ he wrote in an e-mail. "she is an exemplary leader and has done so much to organize and coordinate the efforts of the IGDA's game accessibility SIG -- one of our most active groups."

besides closed-captioning and audio games for the blind, hinn said games can be made more accessible in a variety of ways. for example, designing them so that the controls can be remapped by the user to allow game play to be conducted easier with a mouth stick or the feet. likewise, font sizes and colors could be adjustable for people with low vision.

members of the game accessibility group hinn chairs created a game modification program, or mod, for doom III that allows not only closed-captioning for dialogue, but also for ambient sounds that tell a gamer an enemy is close.

game consoles also could be made to more easily accommodate alternative controller hardware, hinn said, like a finger pad to allow someone in a wheelchair to play the popular footwork game "dance dance revolution" with friends.

"each group is going to have their own different need," hinn said. she noted that accessibility can have advantages for game companies beyond the new customers with disabilities it may yield for them. for instance, "switch," or one-button, games easily usable by the disabled also work well on cellphones, a growing and potentially lucrative game market.

hinn, who should finish her doctorate in august (note: well...there's been a bit of a delay with that...), earned bachelor's degrees in music performance and psychology and a master's in instructional systems design at virginia tech before coming to the UI's college of education for a national science foundation fellowship focused on educational technology.

she got interested in web-based classes and simulation games for educational purposes and has worked on projects related to those topics at the UI, the national center for supercomputing applications and elsewhere.

her own experience overcoming dyslexia and experiences with disabled friends and students working in programming and on computers got her interested in accessibility, first in educational software and online resources.

hinn, who described herself as being into computers and social justice, was interested in games already, and accessibility in games gradually became a big interest.

"we always had game consoles in the house (growing up)," she said.

writer: greg kline
so there it is.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
there's not much more to be said besides it is what it is...

but that's never stopped me from saying more, of course. i just kind of have to accept that my life is what it is, that there will be no family but that there'll always be friends who are family...and that i can't fall and stumble's not the time for that...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

i haven't thought a lot about pink floyd in some time...until one of the rockstar: supernova *rockers* performed wish you were here earlier tonight. and being in a blue kinda mood today flashed me back to when we were all half their age...x and duke and slo and how crazy everything was and how important everything seemed...and even though the music wasn't quite ours, it was a refuge from the shiny pop crap of the, so you think you can tell
heaven from hell,
blue skys from pain.
can you tell a green field
from a cold steel rail?
a smile from a veil?
do you think you can tell?
and why did any of us wear so much tie dye back then and i guess the 80s was the new today is the new 80s...and we watched a SNL the other night from the 80s, from the reagan era and it's hard not to be completely, completely amazed that the country was so 100% fucked up then...the SNL *news* talking about the latest scandals from the reagan administration and i'm like holy fucking crap...haven't we lived through this enough?and did they get you to trade
your heros for ghosts?
hot ashes for trees?
hot air for a cool breeze?
cold comfort for change?
and did you exchange
a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?
and i think of how much i've gotta get out of here, get out of this i wish, how i wish you were here.
we're just two lost souls
swimming in a fish bowl,
year after year,
running overthe same old ground.
what have we found?
the same old fears.

wish you were here.
and it's almost october again, jimmy and amy. wish you were here.
pfft. i'm declaring this week the winner, which means i'm the loser. between room scheduling not going in my favor, to my brain feeling like it's totally melting down, from somehow not being able to communicate anything to anyone, to yet another semester starting where nothing is going any way that i would have thought...i'm about to quit. yeah, let's hear it...i'm about to quit.

you know when you are so in over your head that delegating work would mean more work and more hours for you and therefore more trying to catch up on other things that fall behind as you are trying to get things off your plate? do you know that place? it's 1000% annoying and it seems that all you accomplish is somehow pissing people off...

to the lady at the grocery: that was a cool trick you pulled when you let me go ahead of you in the lane that just closed only i couldn't see it yet. then the guy says "this lane's closed" so then i see that the damn light is off so i go into the next lane (2/2 remaining) and stand behind you, lady. then they suddenly reopen the closed lane, you shove past me (and i mean shove past me) so that you get to the lane first and i'm just looking at you, kind of amazed and yet not at all surprised that you didn't bother to say excuse me or whoa i forgot to pick up my kids or something, whether it was true or not. oh -- and nice "go chief" shirt you were wearing.

pfft. no, i'm not about to quit, really. i'm just more than a little tired of everything right now, including the latest family situation...which really isn't a just, well, isn't.
ugh. i need to go to the store...something to break me out of this funk.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

not sure either...

not sure either...
Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
so this is some weird double/triple exposure shot from finland (again, what is WITH the finland photos...i haven't been there in two years!) but the picture kind of reminded me of my double/triple/etc life (or is that lives??) i'm leading right now thanks to the recent implosion of the world...or at least my world.

i don't really feel like working at the moment but i know i have to...well, NEED to...but i'm so exhausted from last week, it's crazy and the doctor said that he has his doubts with all the changes that there will be adequate resources and that i'm going to really face a major pull trying to make up for all the abandonment...

my age has come up quite a lot this week and it's funny to see the looks of utter confusion on people's faces. i know...i'm lucky...i don't have mom looks between 10-20 years younger than she is...and i don't know...i guess that my mix of interest in finding out what this generation is about and my knowledge about how quickly and easily (and scarily) things can change makes the whole age thing confusing.

but people are over a decade off!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

tales from the transcripts...player one: oh, we don’t want to die.
player two: will we die?
player one: i don’t know.
player two: go for it.
so a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, chip sent me this quote by miguel de unamumo from his work called tragic sense of life...when the disillusionment of the mind and despair of the heart come together you finally have something to build on.

so, yeah, i think i'm pretty much there right now. anyone up for a trip to home depot?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

at the secret bat cave where i've been writing my 6000th version of my dissertation intro, although i'm finally convinced that this is the one, this is the right one. i mean i have bits of chapters written from all over the place, from all across time but this one at least tells the story of what i'm doing RIGHT NOW with the data and THAT'S IT...this is more new more new twists and turns...this fucker just needs to be done and done.

i think i found a cousin of mine on facebook, oddly enough. i did a global search on our last name and possibly found about 5 or 6 others that might be related. so, naturally, i started a facebook group. now i just need them to add me as their friend so i can invite them to the group.

yeah...i really need to yank the wireless card outta my laptop since even my armpit probably has wifi now. oh fucking hell i forgot to tell you -- weeds, season two just started. awesome. too bad dead like me is, uh, dead. but at least there's weeds.

Friday, August 25, 2006

i don't know about the lazy...but the crazy? we already know about that. cleaning up transcripts so that each line is numbered and i'm wondering, worrying if they all need to be in the appendices and who the fuck cares right now??? christ...just number the fucking things and get on with it. it's bad when you have dreams about the super-code that comes before the line numbering and i really just made that *super-code*'s more like a prefix code that tells you which transcript it came from at a glance and i woke up thinking "god, what if word can't do that with the autonumbering?" and then i got a packet in the mail, an advert for another drug and i'm thinking that i maybe should take it, as i decide to wash all the throw rugs in the house and forget to ask for a raise and dr b said the other day that watching tv in the morning is just as bad as drinking (really? is it?)...blah, fucking, blah.

and we're trying to fit in everything under my career objectives and i'm like oh yeah, what *are* those and i need to finish my cv and people are bugging me to fill out questionnaires right and left and it's all mine for the taking if i'd only wake up, wake up from this grand pause...

Monday, August 21, 2006

oooooohhhh boy. have you ever been in one of those lifetimes where everything suddenly implodes on you? where you don't even have time to explain what needs to be done because it needed to be done yesterday so it's easier to just do it yourself?

well, my boss is leaving in a few weeks for a new job and i think, yes, this is probably for the best because it's WAY less chaotic for her and her family. dorm stuff can really make your schedule, uh, interesting. but then i'm also like "great...what now?" it's not that i'm worried about the workload. but i am worried about the possibility of getting a new hire boss who will be tooooo new and i'll hate them for some reason. and i'm worried about getting a bad interim supervisor...the kind who wants to have 5 hour meetings 6 days a week.

i could apply for the job myself...but then you know me and stupid paperwork shit and i can imagine this existance of having to do icebreaker activities day after day after day...and teambuilding stuff...and training, more training, even more training. even she said that there was no way i'd like the job given that i hate all that crap. and she's right. i do. head's just spinning now and i'm afraid it's not the painkillers...which i did indeed get this morning after a trip to the ER last night (see? told you!)...and i FINALLY got a pain clinic referral...thank fucking god. oh...and i guess i need to work out the registration thing so i get insurance again...


Sunday, August 20, 2006

finally this week is over and i'm, of course, now in cramp hell so, yay, great and i have to wait until tomorrow to get a refill because i don't have any health insurance at the moment and the other day when jesse and i were driving we saw the latest geo billboard...that says 40% of grad students can't afford adequate child healthcare...and here we go again. so this is what happens...geo puts all its eggs in one usual it's the child healthcare thing...the university freezes wages because they know that for those of us that childcard has NOTHING to DO with a lot of us, the wage freeze is SO FUCKING ANNOYING because (1) the university fuckheads have frozen our wages and (2) they know that this is one of those issues where a lot of us are like "SIGN THE FUCKING CONTRACT GEO BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE KIDS."

see? a lot of us can't afford our OWN healthcare and bills (ask me about my water being shut off on friday!) so when i come home from work on a night like last night where i've just dealt with 100s of survey administrations in a damp, cold basement and collapse on my bed and apparently i was dreaming about the hell that it was all last night because chris said he had to wake me up because i was flipfloping all over and keeping him awake...when i come home from work i have to ask, you know?

what. the. fuck.

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1962...and the pill looks just the same...

and this is much less exciting than you think it's a photo of the american classic "pamprin" that i just took because my period started early ('s good to hang out with 100's of females for a week...sync-ing...) to go along with the 800mg of advil i took that didn't work...i had this weird feeling that it was going to start early on friday, the last time i could have gotten a refill on painkillers from my doctor...the way things are going right now, i should be arriving at the er around, oh let's say 8ish? maybe l will be there and i can give her those surveys again to fill out? hahaha. even in pain i still think of all the shit i have to do.

but it'd be much fun if that pamprin was more like some other drug that it looks like...feed your head.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

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god and psych...

so i snapped this on my mobile while we were waiting for people to show up to take the survey on saturday night (which was, of course, a complete nightmare)...the residence hall i work in has a library in the basement with a rather eclectic collection...

so i look at the psych section and there's the classic "principles of psychology" by william james and it's next to...

the new-agey "conversations with god" books 1-4

wwfd...what would freud do?

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help sign at the library in the building that i work at and it's ok, really, because pretty much every help sign in all of the system also tells people that they don't have change and i had to wonder who would go to the library for change when there's a change machine near by that's much closer but whatever.

all i know is that i'm still dealing with some kind of respiratory *thing* from spending way too many hours doing a lousy debrief in the damp, cold, moldy basement...wahhhhhhaaahahahhahahaha

Sunday, August 13, 2006

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michigan state?

ok so if you aren't from, well, the us then maybe you don't know (or care) about the big umich/michigan state rivalry. yeah, this is a lousy cell phone pix but in the campus-towny area of ann arbor, there are two movie theatres located very close to one another...and from my angle all i saw was the marquee for the one theatre, "michigan," and the marquee for the other one, "state," and i very subversive...

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umich...chris and i took a side trip to ann arbor, which -- and sorry to be the bearer of bad news, illini fans -- is a much prettier campus than ours (wow, how COULD that be?). i remember when r's husband, who went to purdue, exclaimed about how beautiful u of i's campus was and r and i looked at each other like "and WE'RE the crazy ones???"

seriously, though, the umich trip was four years after i was originally supposed to have seen it but we all know what happened there. actually maybe you don't so go look at my blog entries from summer 2002 and it's all there.

and this survey i saw said "have you or anyone in your family ever experienced a breakdown?" but then we saw the hotdog stand that's actually a soup stand and i learned that the internet, including the site wizzywig (a place that's amazing to see but then you're like,'s cool but i don't know if i want any of this) and others, is actually located IN ann arbor. seriously. the number of internet retailers that actually had their *real life* offices in ann arbor was kinda crazy.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

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the tribe has the deal is with outdoor wedding receptions is that if you have more than 3000 people at your wedding and less than a handfull of toilets at your have to install portapotties...which is both hilarious and disgusting (depending on whether you see them at the beginning or the end of the reception). but the best part of the whole thing was that they had tiki torches lighting your way and it was hard not to feel cast out of the tribe heading down the path to the toilets.

[postscript: seriously, cbs, so you decided to divide the tribes of the latest survivor along RACIAL lines??? are you that fucking crazy? why did you decide that you needed to do this? is hitler really not dead (and yet he must be the crypt keeper if he isn't) and he's on your board of directors? is some apartheid-era south african company now your daddy? wtf?]

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wedding even if you plan, plan, plan...some goofy shit is bound to happen at your (not mine) wedding. that's not to say goofy shit won't happen at my wedding but that's not really on the table right now, is it?

anyway, there were tealights on all the tables and polyester napkins and i guess it was bound to happen at some point but we look up and one of the napkins is completely engulfed in flames and it smelled like a barbie factory had just exploded...and damn, polyester really, really melts amazingly well so i'll have to remember than the next time i'm trying to burn up tacky scarves in my latest experiment in melting shit together to form new, uh, fabric...

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wedding in i forget where but somewhere an hour away from flint, michigan...somewhere out where the militia is near, i'm of the young, wedding for the young, wedding to remember...young.

and we danced for the first time and isn't that funny?

it's a little bit funny this feeling inside
i'm not one of those who can easily hide
i don't have much money but boy if i did
i'd buy a big house where we both could live
and i didn't remember the words until you sang excuse me forgetting but these things i do
you see i've forgotten if they're green or they're blue
anyway the thing is what i really mean
yours are the sweetest eyes i've ever seen
and then i wondered what it must have been like to have been that age again and still believe in the fairytale and hope you never know any other way?and you can tell everybody this is your song
it may be quite simple but now that it's done
i hope you don't mind
i hope you don't mind that i put down in words
how wonderful life is while you're in the world
that elton john...

Friday, August 11, 2006

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flint, michigan where you realize how stuck in time so many parts of our country are and it reminds me of southwest virginia only with closed down factories instead of closed down mines.

and i flew to detroit only in the middle of the orange alert moving to red...luckily the sign they had up to tell us was in greyscale so we had to ask, uh, which of those grey bars *is* orange and they made up put everything in our checked luggage and the department of homeland security had closed down all the vending machines and trying to take medicine out of a shallow fountain doesn't work as well when the pills start to dissolve and all you taste is the poison coming through and you must look mad ripping open packets of sugar from a closed down coffee vendor to dump into your mouth so you don't throw up and add to the liquid's a-no-no fiasco...

didn't i just get back from the uk? and didn't i just announce the study abroad spring break destination? and why exactly is it *brave* that i flew from champaign to detroit, as if that were a major terror threat (maybe in the *terror threats for dummies* series) and i say, sarcastically, i flew because if i didn't then the terrorists win.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

fun with words!

see ya, wouldn't want to be ya...
Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
ugh. i hate all the double/triple/etc meanings of words sometimes. why does everything have to be so complex sometimes/all of the time? it just annoys me. kind of like the weather and the price of gasoline this summer. i mean i deal with these "loaded words" all the time in my writing...i just wish that other parts of my life didn't also come with so much baggage.

i don't think that this is going to be an easy year. you'd think that the longer you've been in a position, eventually things would fall into a groove...but that doesn't really play out in the real world, does it? instead you just learn to see more and the protective seal comes off and things get scratched up and messy and the things that seem clearly defined don't look anything like the actual.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

you see i think our priorities are all fucked up. we have a billion troops fighting "terrorism" overseas and yet...

on a listserv i'm on i heard the arguments today for a family event, the strongest voice in favor of it that emerged for me was from the guy who tormented me from about the 6th grade on until i ran, ran, ran from home...but you can never really run far enough can you? and he has three kids now and the idealist in me thinks that maybe he's realized how cruel kids can be and is raising his kids to end the cycle, the sins of the father. but the realist in me knows that it probably hasn't come up yet and if it has he's either playing the *outraged* father wondering how his kids are getting picked on or he's playing the *clueless* father who simply laughs and says "well, kids WILL be kids."

all this research others have done on the effects of bullying and yet we have a president running the country that was/is easily part of club...but the problem is not here, is it?

"why do you hate america so much?" said the bully in surprise to someone might just hate him right back.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

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move in day?

not for me

nor for anyone else

and don't even THINK about the state of the bathrooms... the guy that plays "house" on the show, uh, house" studied at the same college at cambridge that i studied at...good old selwyn. damn i didn't even know he was british but to hear him on the actor's studio right now is blowing my mind.

yeah, ok. that was a complete random trivia post...sue me.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

about the university freezing our wages until ALL current contract negotiations are finished...from GEO...our currently frozen wages...are another story. when the GEO repeatedly pushed the university [of illinois at urbana-champaign] on this unjust tactic, insisting that we bargain wages now, lead negotiator [and university counsel...a.k.a. the man representing "the man"] steve veazie snapped back, “just shut up!”

after a brief and tense standoff, veazie called for caucus and remained away for over an hour. he later stated that he regretted telling grad employees to “shut up.”

but veazie has already told us enough about the university’s attitude toward grad employees. our success at the table depends on the involvement of our members, and together we must turn up the pressure as the academic year begins.
and so it seems there's plans for a strike or somesuch in early september because the university isn't budging on this issue, trying to force our hands in agreeing to this shitty proposal that the university currently has on the table that calls for NO guaranteed wage increase ever and NO guaranteed minimum stipend ever.

so meanwhile, people like me, who work as GAs for WAYYYYYYYYYYY under any university department's minimum salary are really fucked. you know, and i hate that money comes into issue when it comes to my job, which i wouldn't trade for the world, but you have to wonder why working on the frontlines of undergraduate education results in the lowest ranking on the pay scale?

i'm writing as fast as i can...but it's just not fast enough and i want to scream sometimes because i spend half my day trying to figure out how to pay for everything (rent, utilities, etc) and then i pop another couple maalox...

Friday, August 04, 2006

long journey

the greatest
Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
if i could, i'd spread the ashes across the earth to all the places he'd been and never been...but i can't...

and i finally check my messages to hear her voice on the phone blaming the son for being irresponsible through a back road disguised as self-flagellation...and i remember why i never check my messages...can't they be archived somewhere, transcribed and hidden away so eventually the story will come together for someone, if not for me?once i wanted to be the greatest
no wind or water fall could stall me
and then came the rush of the flood
the stars at night turned deep to dust
to mourn lost time seems like a necessary waste...catch22...but yet it must be done and they say she'll be amazing when she's well again...

why did i get broken? or, rather, was i ever together?
if you get cinemax, you really should check out the the mushroom club being aired now, which was nominated for a documentary short film at last year's academy awards. on the film's web page, it talks about why the director made the film and he said that it was the lack of response in 1995 to the 50th anniversary of the bombing of hiroshima...and i remember that lack of response...i was in england and there was a bbc documentary showing VERY vivid photos of the dead and the the us? nothing. and the enola gay sits at the smithsonian and i remember the end of the cold war and how we assumed that the only way it was going to end was to arrive at THE end...and there's some new series called jericho coming out this fall and i wonder how they can sustain a series about nuclear war but maybe if they can figure it out it will have that same impact today that the day after had on us then...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

the first words out of my mouth this afternoon were "so did she show up or not?" and he lost the bet...and so it goes...a double mourning and a plot, a plan to drive to nebraska...hate fills my heart and i'm not sure if it's god or her i'm mad at the most and somewhere out there eva met sylvia and off they danced...

should i be mad at the pathology or does it really matter what the diagnosis is? denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance and how can you ever arrive at the point where you say i guess we're all fucked and there's really nothing to be done? too much of too many people's lives have been destroyed and the son will be lost when the anchor gets pulled...yo ho ho it's a pirate's life for me.

but i finally asked him "there will never be any forgive and forget, will there?"

"no," he said.

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is this finally the damn mojito?

postscript: yes, it seems that my phone finally agreed to send it and now i don't really know why i wanted to send it to my blog in the first place...

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this is where i work. come by sometime and we'll paint it...seriously, they say the building will be ready by sunday but this giant trash bin is the only thing that looks halfway organized...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

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getting in wasn't super easy or clearly marked so we ended up in 100 parking lots until they finally got the messages that, fuck yeah, we are here for a FUNERAL AND WE ARE NOT TOURISTS!!! jesus christ. it *is* a little strange to attend a funeral where people are wandering around taking pictures, fat and wearing fanny packs, *fbi* tshirts (yeah, if you have a shirt that reads *fbi* you are probably not IN the fbi...), and meanwhile you're being rushed around because they are on a time schedule more tight than almost any other cemetery on earth...

so turn your computer sideways, i never adjusted the photo before i blogged it from my mobile but, yeah, that's the navy's 7-gun salute deal and no matter how many times you've heard it, it still makes you jump and there was a weird mix of all the armed forces conducting services all around and it just dawned on us that a lot of vietnam veterans are now dying of causes more natural than war...and then there were the newly fallen from the middle east...and the beginning of the end of those from the 2nd world war...

he was born in 1916...his parents came to the united states from syria around the turn of the 1900s...before the end of the ottoman rule...their reasons for immigrating were never spoken of...

Monday, July 31, 2006

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this is really supposed to be a picture of a mojito but apparently my mobile phone only wants to send this laundry photo over and over and over again...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

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from thursday when the sky opened up and dumped buckets of water on me as i was exiting my car and then became about 300 degrees hotter.

speaking grandmother did NOT get on the train yesterday and my dad's gone fetal and for fuck's sake what's with all the restaurant reservations?

i should understand all this, i really should. i mean at the intellectual level, i do. i know exactly what's going on. i'm a psychologist for fuck's sake. [note: wow. that's two "for fuck's sake" in one post.] but somewhere back in there is that wounded little girl trying to figure out why i absorb all the pain?

it's tragic, really. there's no other category the whole story belongs in and if i told you the whole story you'd be tranported back to high school trying to make heads or tails out of sophocles...and i hate to do that to you.

maybe he's right? maybe the whole thing belongs between a front and a back cover of a book...

the earth just might be on fire

run, motherfucker, run
Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
it's kind of like a sauna in finland or russia outside i guess...only you can't leave. and it's only going to get hotter over the next few days and we're flying to dc tomorrow afternoon where it's gonna be even hotter due to the "east coast heat wave" that's touching down now. and, see, that's gonna be a problem. because i had to ask chris to drive me home last night after spending 2 hours at peter's party or risk my passing out or throwing up...or both i guess. and, of course, i'm the bearing of disease right now, which ended up becoming an elaborate game of keep away...why exactly were so many kids there?

the funny part -- ok maybe only to me -- was that this morning i woke up and had all these mosquito bites on my legs. classic. then chris tells me that they've discovered that the *nip* part of cat nip contains something that repels mosquitos...great! attracts swarms of bees. see? that's exactly the point that i've been trying to tell these doctors: "so, wait, most people get potentially fatal clots if they take this medication and have condition x yet you think i should take it anyway to get rid of condition y...even though i also have condition x and the medication could kill me?" wow. what COULD be making me refuse their wise words?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

the thing is, i've never been involved with the program nor was i in charge of it. the only thing i've done is help make things easier on their schedules by encouraging them to coordinate their events with something already going on to help get people into the room. i didn't even find out who the next batch was until last week. so why is it that people seem to think that it was my job?

see? that's the frustrating part about the system. in the end, someone's gonna get kicked around for it and they probably weren't the ones who had any power over the situation. and now i've gotta type up all these proposals, my hands hurt, my period's on the way, i feel like i look completely hideous, i can't wear my contacts because i have two pox-things near my right eye and if they make one false move my vision's toast [note: ironically, this is the SAME eye that i had a ripped contact lens in during jason's talk at develop a week and a half ago] and if the cover of the august issue of vogue is correct, i should wear a red dress next tuesday since it's "the new black."

pfft. sorry. just had to get all that off my chest.
so my grandmother keeps forwarding a million and one sappy email chain letters [side note: when was the last time you got a chain mail letter via the post office? do people do that anymore? is it obsolete now that we have email addresses?]. anyway, the latest one was one of those "live for today because tomorrow is not promised" ones and right about now i'm feeling like tomorrow is more of a threat than a promise anyway.

oooooh. downer i am. yeah, i'm really, really annoyed at this whole shingles thing. i mean wtf? this is clearly this summer's wtf moment, ries. really. this trumps ear hair extensions without a doubt. but anyway my hands hurt the worst, as the pox or whatever they are called (shingles, i guess?) are focusing on my joints right now and i think i need to set up my voice recognition software and head tracking device if i'm going to get any serious work done.

my dad told me on the phone last night that if he don't teach me about money management (stocks, 401k, savings, budgets) before he dies than he's failed his job as a father. uh ok. there are too many things to say about this, really, barring the "uh, what about the 5 million other things you could be focused on or have you decided that those are lost causes?" i don't know where the latest money thing is coming from but, you know, i'm way under the poverty line when it comes to how much money i make and i found out that kinkos is hiring for more than i make per hour at my job. ridiculous. so, yeah, i'm really worried about my non-existant stock portfolio right now.

breathe, breathe, breathe. it's the denial taking over him now, the denial about the 30 minute "gig" next tuesday.

Monday, July 24, 2006

after today, i'm not ruling out scurvy as the next illness i get. so the allergy/rash/ebola virus is none of those -- it's shingles. wtf. it's like chicken pox redux, only with more pain. i was chalking up the pain to pms and, really, who could tell the difference between types of pain that hit the same areas. apparently it's entirely internal, which means it was my own (lack of) immune system that brought it's probably fall out from the surgery, etc etc etc and is definitely fall out from...well, fuck. i was about to say the stress of the summer but let's get real -- 2006 has pretty much sucked ass for me health-wise.

ok, so maybe ries is right in that i can't really back up my statement of "who was i in the last life? hilter?" based solely on the car towing incident. but i'm starting to think that i was some kind of behavioral psychologist that tortured kids and monkeys.

so this brings the grand total of chronic diseases to...FOUR! one more and i get to call out BINGO. well, there's always the next life, i suppose. oh -- and if you have kids that you want to get exposed to the chicken pox, let me know! apparently you can't catch shingles but if you've never had the chicken pox, i can give it to you! no payment is required but you can make a donation if you want to support my chicken pox spreading efforts.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

so i'm waiting for lawyers to start calling me at any second now because last night at 9:30, i was merging to a one-way and when i started to move forward, all the sudden this 6-year girl on a bike is right in front of my car, having darted in front of me from the right. yeah. holy fuck. i was only going about 1mph since all i had done was lift my foot off the break pedal at that point. but it scared the shit out of me.

no, the girl wasn't hurt at all. and i really shouldn't say anything more here about it right now. but it was 9:30 at night, it was a father riding up mattis with his two kids, none of them had on reflective anything, no lights on the bikes...and i was completely, completely hysterical last night after it happpened and i cannot, no matter how hard i try, get that image of the scene out of my mind.

to add to the surrealness of the scene, the father was riding one of those "olde tyme" bikes with the 4 foot wheel in front and a tiny wheel in back. jesse asked if i was sure i hadn't dreamed the whole event. don't even ask what ELSE can happen right now cause i don't even want to think about it.

thank god that girl's ok. she didn't have a scratch at all because i think all i did was nudge her and she kept riding so i didn't knock her over. but signs are now pointing to stress being the real cause of the hives because i woke up with a nice new batch this morning and i am so fucking sick of being a grad student, making -$11 an hour but i suppose if there was a lawsuit, just about the only thing anyone could take from me is my student loans...

Friday, July 21, 2006 i'm covered in hives...what the fuck am i allergic to and/or is it psychosomatic? this is *super* great timing too -- nothing like a benadryl cocktail 4 times a day to make you feel...

i forget what i was going to say. see? it's been like this for two days now!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

back then, back a decade ago when i was in struck me this morning at the restaurant that this is the summer...i ran off to forget and drove around the desert for hours on the've never been beyond...and the prostitute and the gambler staking their fortunes and futures on the web and maybe they were right, maybe that really did work out in the end...i have and i know what it looks like there...and elsewhere and the flights to dc on the weekends and you never came out here and i never thought that was strange and another you made the trip only i never arrived at the bench because i wasn't sure i wanted to know you's just that this time...

never blog on an empty stomach.


talk to me...

at the laundromat and jesse and i were thinking earlier that we need to open a 24 hour laundromat with air conditioning, a coffee shop, wifi, etc so i sent this via my mobile and i have no clue why the title is FWD and it's getting annoying that i can't title my mobile phone posts

i kept hearing the beeping from the tv at the laundromat and it's so thick outside it's almost a color and i didn't pay any attention until the lady with the three dryers next to mine looked at me and we both said "fuck, it's an amber alert."

if you don't know what that is, no, it's not one of our stupid color coded terror alert messages -- it means a child has been kidnapped and it's named after a child named amber who was kidnapped and murdered in texas...and then i felt sad/mad at the world for the fact that the warning system that was activated wasn't for the fucking just had to be about a child, huh?

and then you start looking sideways at everyone around you...flashback to the movie unbreakable, the scene where he's standing at the train station, you know the one i'm talking about...and you wish that your secret super power could somehow see into the heart of darkness...and after all that desire to see the light? how could that be?

homeless guy walks in and drinks water from the fountain and asks me if i'm knitting or crocheting and looked really shocked when i said knitting and then he smiled and said "that's a good habit" and then he left...and the look of shock? maybe that was his seeing something not so horrible in what i imagine is a cold and dark world for him most days.

darker, darker outside and a guy with a notebook on a bike asked me how many quarters the dryers took and then he told me he's been doing a *story* about the price of laundromats in this town and showed me his charting system on a scrap of paper, the back of some sort of flier and then he rode off...and the rumbling started, sky grey, my head hurts and it feels so late and yet it's not, it's really not...

laundry at the laundromat and there i was in old, ragged clothes because it was either than or dress to the 9's because we're out of clean things to wear and i thought "wasn't i just in london a couple days ago?"

the fucking siren goes off again. this time it's for the weather.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

there will be no arguments to the contrary accepted here...the shawshank redemption *is* one of the top films of all times. talk of unintegrated personality and parental conflict and blah blah blah and it all boils down to what gets said in the movie, that you either get busy living or get busy dying. that's not to say that you should keep busy to avoid dealing with living or, the point is right or die.

someone seeing what i do and seeing the pain that drives it, the soul pain that screams to get out...the mask removed...i have to figure out how to become more integrated -- it's a continuum, not an absolute -- once i figure out what the fuck is threatening to break the silence of the glass...what do you fear, most? the psychologist said to her patient. glass, she said. why? because it's fragile? no, she said, because it's silent.the funeral is coming up soon and i learned that, at least in virginia, the law maintains that a relative must identify the body, even if they died in hospital...probably a law due to millions of fuck ups over the years...then there were those girls in, uh, michigan was it? wherever. those two girls who were mixed up at the car crash site and one's family grieved while one nursed who they thought was their daughter back to health.

ANYWAY...the point of this is that the business of death is insane and even more insane is my grandmother who is launching hate mail missiles to all of us any minute now. god i HOPE mine comes in the form of interpretive dance or in flowers...cause they say that you can say it all with this case i'm sure they'd be white oleanders...

ok michelle. wake up.
dejetlagging still and they just delivered my luggage that didn't arrive last night and i don't think i'd have had the strength left if i had to carry it any farther so the lost luggage? no big deal, especially since i have it now.

i am starved, though. i forgot about that part of the jet lag cycle. i woke up super early mainly, i think, because my stomach was rumbling because it was way past lunch in the uk at that point. and i'm looking at my credit card statement and thinking "damn...that day in london cost a lot" so i'd better wear all this stuff. and then i went to their website and am thinking about ordering some more. what can you do?

but speaking of travel, i now have the unpleasant task of figuring out my travel for less than two weeks from now and, ugh, what's the easiest way to go to boston, dc, chicago, detroit, and back to champaign in the course of a week? oh and still get a lot of shit done? and...oh boy i just need to make a task list. i'm working straight through the next two weeks i think.

ah...brighton. why did we have to leave?

Monday, July 17, 2006

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i was right - heathrow is stil a huge fucking mess

heathrow where i'm drinking cans of coke because i really am just that exhausted from making my way from brighton this morning with that damn suitcase. so here's the thing: why do people just stare when you are carrying something heavy and you lose your balance? ok, there's the "shock of the moment" thing. but then after that...why doesn't anyone ask if you need some help? this is a world problem and not isolated to just one or two countries. why are we so closed off? it's exasperating.

i suppose i should start figuring out what gate i'm leaving from. it was nice to just sit for a bit...although i'm about to sit for quite a long bit now...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

not much time left on this prepaid connection card and too much to say. i think that the best way to look at it there are a lot of things in this life that don't make a lot of sense, that they happen for a reason but that the reason might not be everything you might make it out to be. the reason might be quite simple.

maybe we walk around this world and occasionally meet the people we're supposed to meet for no other reason than for confirmation that there is something innocent and sweet left within ourselves and others. these moments are fleeting but meaningful and they should be followed for that brief second. because they are the beauty in this world.

and then you find yourself temporarily shaken and your eyes fill with tears on the street corner. and suddenly i was transported to her room at the hospital at 5am, standing in the doorway when we come some close to that moment where we have to reach out and take ahold of the arm of the person slipping. and someone else later offers it to you as a reminder of how lucky you are to have experienced a moment of safety, the arm of another as they say don't die. and then it's the point in the film where they are standing at the station and you can see into the heart of another, only you know that this time you've been given the gift to see what's too delicate to describe. everything and nothing to talk about, really. but i'm not sure any word in any language can describe the few moments where the reason why we stay here suddenly becomes clear. because we are needed.

long distance charges...and the money doesn't matter. and i'll be home soon. but i'm there. i'm there now.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

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smoke kills sperm dead. isn't this kinda like an incentive TO smoke for some guys? just a thought...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

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brighton hardcore is much like seattle on the sea...i'm not sure why we are the way we are but that's just how it is i suppose. but i think i could only live this way a few weeks out of the year. any more than that and it would be ridiculous.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

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rooftops in london and you can hear people below screaming and the world cup final match hasnt even started yet...

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go figure where i'm at? fucking starbucks at piccadilly circus. i have one of those t-mobile hotspot accounts that used to work at borders and now that they have switched to selling seattle's best coffee they've also stopped with the wifi. anyway...after two calls that probably resulted in about 10k pounds of charges, i got the damn thing working over here and i'm plugged into the wall so my laptop has power and i'm probably the only person in the uk who is working before noon on a sunday, on the day of the last world cup game. but what the hell...there's nothing else open and i *do* have to finish updating my presentation.

i could go out and take pix...but i'm so jetlagged and many more pix do i need of piccadilly, you know? but i took a phone photo, just for you.

at the bk next to the hotel with an easyinternetcafe in the basement and it's nice and cool here 'cept my hotel room which is broiling because there's no air (which i figured) and the window doesn't open (which i hadn't figured on) and howard jones is playing on the radio and it's making me crazy because my ipod can't compete with its volume.

yeah so i'm in london where football is the rage and i couldn't sleep last night from all the yelling and it's likely to only get worse tonight, ah but what can you do? drink more coffee i guess right now.

oh...and the hotel has fleas. either that or some other monster bugs were biting me all last night. can't wait to leave for brighton...god, it's been 16 years since i was there. anyway, i need to find a chemist that is open and get some benadryl, which i didn't pack to try and get the itchy level down...

my phone DOES work. thank fucking god...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

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my super secret double life...and these default "multimedia message" things are getting annoying. anyway, i leave for london for about a week starting tomorrow afternoon and i have a million things to do but i think...i *think* everything's under control. i *think*...

anyway i was thinking earlier about how i seem to lead this double life sometimes -- one part glam and one part pretty down to earth. right now i seem to be wanted as a speaker for about 9000 conferences all in a row and that's cool...but how? then there's the day to day that is definitely unglam and...well, fuck i don't know what i'm trying to say or if i'm trying to say anything at all. i'm just tired at the moment.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
matt told me recently that i say the things here that everyone thinks but never asks out loud or on paper. maybe. i don't say it all but i say a lot i suppose. the rest? ends up in my old school journals. or in my dream world. or with dr. b. or sometimes it gets left behind in my mind, maybe waiting for that someday to come that makes it ok to finally let it go free.

so i want to talk about funerals, specifically cremation. so i'll say it now, i'll say it here...(1) make sure i'm really dead first of all. i don't want any of that horror show shit where you've been given some kind of drug or herb that makes you seem like you're dead but you are in a deep, deep sleep. but barring that crazy ass possibility (my dad always said some quote from somewhere that he picked up where the worst of our fears never come true...i've always taken that to mean that you need to think about and say all the worst things in order to doubly make sure that they never happen...but there's always something you'll never think of...that's the flaw in the logic). (2) cremate me, for fuck's sake.

why? to restate the one looks like who they were in this life once their body has been *restored* by the morticians. not even close. so i don't want anyone to see me unless it's right after i've passed on, before the wax, the make up. i repeat. i do not want an open casket memorial service. separate my ashes and place them on every continent i never made it to and if i've been to every continent than send them somehow away from this planet.

come live with me now, though.

Friday, June 30, 2006

who's gonna drive you home, tonight?

Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
so i didn't get to sleep until 5am and was magically up by 8:30am and now it's thundering...perfect weather for a michigan.

some of you have asked me if my grandfather's funeral is this, it's not. he's being cremated and the funeral service will be at arlington national cemetery on august 1st at 11am. so there's the nitty gritty details...the business of the loved one.

now you may be wondering...will my grandmother be there? well, heaven and hell will keep you up to date in the weeks to come but as of right now no, she refuses to attend the funeral of her husband. i'm sure she has some other zingers built into the whole next few weeks and i, for one, just can't wait to find out what they are.

where did the good go?

i just want to go home...please help me go home...

time's up
Originally uploaded by vrgrrl.
that's what my grandfather told me a few weeks ago when i went and saw him for what i knew would be the last time in a trip to dc that would end my streak of only going home around xmas...

my grandfather left this place for the next place, yesterday. it was a night train that carried him from the station in his sleep.

and now it's the middle of the night for me...2:24am...and every time i try to go to sleep, i start breaking into sobs...which makes me wonder how good of an idea is it to go to michigan with chris for another funeral this weekend? but i don't want him to go alone...but i also don't want to be a burden should i break down during the services.

so much anger swirls around me directed mainly at my grandmother...what's her body count up to now? too much to go into right now and i'm tired...yet scared to go to sleep.

my dad kept calling me "mother" on the phone.