Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Untitled Story, 1st installment

       It had begun with the best of intentions. A small village with only the most rudimentary government and a major road running through it; they needed protection, and no one would do it but themselves. So, they organized a civilian’s militia whose job it was to protect the village and the people in it.
       Of course, "village" refers not just to the village proper with the inn and the tavern and the village square, but the outlying farms as well—which meant that the job of protection was a full-time job. Unsubsidized, the men of the militia depended on the generosity of the people they protected for food for themselves and money for their families, who themselves were farmers or tradesmen of the village, left without the man of the house who was, traditionally, the primary workhorse. These men were vigilantes and their only objective was the safety of the persons and prosperity of the village, and regrettably had to take extreme measures from time to time to ensure that safety.
       This was all well and good, and was actually quite effective in keeping the village safe for about 40 years.
       That was when things began to change.
       The streets were no longer pounded dirt but cobblestone, which was beautiful when it was new but had since become chipped and broken after years of neglect. Mud oozed up from the spaces between the stones and the sharp edges proved hazardous to the village children, who regrettably had few other places to play since the green had dried up. No one lit the lamps after dark; in fact, when an enterprising citizen scrambled up and lit the lamp himself, the wind soon snuffed it out since the glass funnel had long since been broken. Those who prowled the streets at night preferred the dark, and they kept it that way.
       The typical youth of the village chafed against the stifling curfew of violence. As one might imagine, there was little for the youth to do, but they still wanted to be out from under their parents’ eyes for their trysts and romances. On occasion, a brave couple would venture out after dark, assuming more than hoping that the Enforcers would be elsewhere while they kissed and groped and attempted some level of intimacy; a bright light in the darkness of the oppression that hung over the village like a cloud.
       The couples who were found by the Enforcers never ventured out after dark again.
       A pair of feet cruelly pinned her wrists to the cobblestones. A dirty handkerchief was stuffed in her mouth. The boy she'd stepped out with, Thomas, was nowhere to be seen, but she kept hearing disturbing, meaty sounds and muffled cries. However upsetting that was, she couldn't spare room in her brain to think about that, as the men who were pushing up her skirts and wrenching her legs apart were a bit more pressing on her mind. She knew what was coming, she had heard the stories, but she had never really believed that it could happen to her. Tears streamed down her face, running into her ears and hair, blurring her vision. She was unmercifully sealed into a world where the primary sensory input was pain and violation. Their hands were rough where she was delicate and they furthered this indignity by being disgusting pigs of men: clearing their throats and spitting on the cobblestones by her head, laughing at comments unheard, rubbing their saliva on her. She kept her jaws clenched as tightly as the handkerchief allowed. If she could just keep her anguish inside, she would have one small victory over these thugs.
       However strong her resolve, though, when the first of the men shoved his way into her, she released a low, tortured moan. She wasn't sure if she was relieved or further humiliated that no one seemed to care that she had lost her last bit of control. It was only the most minor of concerns, though, compared to the feeling of her body seeming to tear and rend apart under the influence of this man’s exertions. She sobbed and tried to fill her head with something to drown out the pain.
       The first man finished with her. There were three others.
       An hour or more later, they left her in the alleyway, her dress torn and muddy, hair matted, blood on her thighs. They told her that she should tell her parents to upgrade their protection package. She couldn't stand. Thomas was never the same. His thoughts were slightly slower, and he was more likely to laugh at inappropriate times.
       They walked the streets, looking for supple young flesh or vulnerable purses. The Enforcers were now the village council's subsidized police force. They were still effective at protecting the village from bandits, though they rarely made rounds out to the outlying farms anymore; which, if you asked the farmers, wasn't necessarily a bad thing. They also kept the crime rate down; mainly by declaring their own activities not crime. The council lived in fear of the Enforcers as much as any of the other villagers. This system was what had grown out of the vigilante citizen's militia passed down from father to son two or three generations ago, degenerating into thugs as the need for their services had decreased and their personal loyalty to the people had disappeared. It had become "just a job," and a poorly paying job at that, and the Enforcers had decided to take all they could get, whenever they could get it. And, following that, the job they were supposed to be performing fell to the wayside, all pretenses of legitimacy disappeared, and they were predators, rabid animals with no higher power in the village to keep them in check.
       The villagers despaired; peaceful people by nature, craftsmen and farmers, with no training in personal defense beside the inevitable brute force of people who reap wheat and slaughter animals by the power of their own two hands. They couldn't leave their homes, their farms, and their trades; they couldn't feel safe here in the village. They were mistrustful of any organized effort to oust the Enforcers, because vigilantism is what had gotten them into this situation to begin with. So, they huddled in their homes, trembling at the thought of not being able to pay their protection money, nervous when their children were unaccounted for for even a few minutes, and praying to the ever-more-vengeful gods that the world would become a better place.
       Who knows? Maybe the gods even heard.
       Of course, during the day the village was not such a dire place. It had an active monthly marketplace with thriving trade. Apple brandy, fresh-baked honeybuns and farm-fresh vegetables and fruits were the perfect refreshments for those who attended the market looking for shoes, clothing, and other goods. Children ran and played together, underfoot in the most welcome way, and more distant neighbors took the opportunity to catch up on family news. Village state of affairs was staunchly avoided as a conversation topic as some of the tavern owners did their best to redistribute the wealth that the Enforcers bestowed upon them through their libations each and every night. The more socially conscious of them quietly overpaid for their purchases; the others simply bought everything they thought they might have any chance of needing over the next month or so. Through this crowd, a farmer's son wandered.
       This farmer's son was no longer a boy to play with the others underfoot, but not yet a man with his own family and land. Still sheltered from the realities of the village law enforcement and living far enough from the village to have suffered few ill effects from the Enforcers, he had dreams of justice, law, and standing up for the underdogs. His older brother was looking forward to inheriting the farm and would be an excellent farmer to follow his father; he himself had grander dreams.
       "Duncan! Duncan, come play!" screamed his little sister, Elsie. Still young enough to wear her hair loose and run with the other little boys and girls, Elsie was a gorgeous girl. Unlike other younger sisters, she was pleasant to be around, always cheerful and friendly, oddly insightful for a girl her age but not so mature as to be unsettling. Duncan did not pick up on the way the adults regarded her with apprehension and protectiveness. He didn't know, yet, what dangers could threaten her sweet innocence.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Small update

Well, just a little news. Griffin and Aaron have their own place in Longmont now. We left the Habitat apartment just a little worse for wear after 4 years of habitation but as clean as we could make it. We just hung a set of shelves in our bathroom—and that's hilarious, because it's a $400+ set of shelves I won from ListenUp 2 Chrismasses ago. It was supposed to be a media shelf and is thusly very heavy-duty and stylish. It has holes for cord management. I'm going to have to post a picture later XD

Last night I worked with charcoal for the first time in years. I'm drawing Dr. Who (Eccleston) because he's a cool lookin' dude. I got stuck jumping from the left side of the face to the right, but I'm going to come back to it later.

I also drew the next page in my comic. It didn't hurt at all! We had a lot of fun talking about art and what it "should" mean when you can't expect to make a living off it... Anyway, I'm feeling a lot more artistically optimistic.

MS is same-old, same-old. Saw Vollmer on the 24th and that was, as always, a positive experience. I'm on track to be going off Tysabri in December as planned. My next infusion is September 8th.

In other, less awesome news... I have a stack of paper over an inch thick. Each sheet has someone on it that I have to call... today. >_<

So yeah, that's all I got to say =) Hang loose, all!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Things Are Looking Up

Hello faithful audience.

This is going to be short. There is no meaningful updates here; only that I can feel creative energy coming back to me (finally! I was starting to freak out). It feels good. Now if only I had the time...

Friday, July 10, 2009

New phase of life

Okay, it seems like it's been forever since I had a real, live update. Even the one in February doesn't count. So, here's another life update for the morbidly curious.

I've been on Tysabri for 6 months now, and I've had nothing but good experiences with it—medically, that is. Every single month is an adventure in pincushionhood, on the other hand. But what can you do? It's like one of those silly stupid hypothetical half-drunk questions: "would you rather suffer more MS symptoms ... or get poked with needles for hours, one day a month??" I guess I've learned the answer to that one.

Other things in my life have been greatly affected by my choice in medication. For one, it causes birth defects, so I can't decide to try to have kids until after I'm off it—if I was planning on trying anyway—which, shockingly, scarily, and horrifyingly enough, it seems I may be.

My mother has also wanted to be present for my infusions every month. This hasn't always been possible, but when it is, I absolutely hate it. She gets far more upset about bad pokes than I do, behaves embarrassingly (ie, acting out her parade stories as she's telling them to me... in the infusion room), and, most frustratingly of all, answers questions that nurses ask ME.

(Days Later) Whatever. Moving on.

Branden and I celebrated our 2-year anniversary a bit ago, the last weekend of May. It was very relaxing, romantic, and awesome. On the way home from Denver, we got a call from Branden's mom telling him that his brother Aaron had been sending her disturbing text messages about how she was going to lose a son, and other suicide-sounding messages. Now, Aaron had just spent a week or two down in Pagosa with her, attempting to work for her boyfriend's raft service. He had to go back up to Fort Collins for a parole meeting. On his way up there, his motorcycle broke down. So, he missed his meeting and was stranded in Fort Collins with no money and no place to stay. He had a sort-of girlfriend and his (and Branden's) brother Griffin up there, but for one reason and another he couldn't stay with either of them. Cutting out the details and intervening events, we got ahold of Aaron and offered to fix his bike for him if he would bring it down to Boulder and take it to a mechanic's.

The saga of the motorcycle is long and convoluted, but that isn't the important part of the story, so I'm going to condense it down: we got the motorcycle fixed, a couple of days later it caught on fire while he was driving so he parked it somewhere "temporarily." Then he finds out from the person who actually owns the bike that he is going to report it stolen to get out of paying it off, etc. So, the bike is gone and honestly, I'm relieved.

So, come to find out, Aaron's stay with Deb turned out about as well as his entire childhood with Deb... which is to say, not very well. So he decided not to go back to Pagosa. We offered him room on our couch while he found a job and saved up enough money to get his own place. So, he's been living with us since May 31.

A week or two later, Griffin came down and also started sleeping on our floor, looking for a job.

Condensing again: They're both gainfully employed now, saving money to get their own apartment together in the Boulder area. They both feel like they're getting a new start to life and that the situation in Fort Collins was terribly toxic. It seems that Aaron may actually be getting free of the witch. And, all is good in Conley boys land.

Branden and I lived in the Habitat apartment with them until June 23rd, when we got the keys to our new apartment in the Horizons, where I work. However, ON the 23rd, the day we were supposed to start painting and moving, I woke up with a terrible stomach ache. Branden took me to the hospital, and 12 hours later, they took out my appendix. It basically decommissioned me for the ENTIRE MOVE. This would have been great except that, of course, I spent the whole time feeling frustrated and guilty that I wasn't helping more. I'm still not supposed to lift more than 25-30 pounds for another week or so.

But, we got moved (mostly). We have a few more carloads, and our house is quickly filling up (yikes!), but it looks great. We're starting to feel like real grown-ups, and I don't know how I feel about that. But, it does feel nice to not live in chaos anymore. The Habitat apartment is Griffin and Aaron's until August 9th or so, when they have to be moving into their own place so that we can start cleaning and getting it in order for move-out.

We lived at Habitat for 4 years, so this transition is quite a shock for me. I had forgotten how to move, which seems to be mostly okay because I think I've broken some of the more horrible habits I have about it. I'm going to miss it, but the new place really is vastly more awesome, with better amenities and the whole bit.

Also, my whole repertoire of friends is moving up here. Dan and Carlie and Chris Rossi are already here, Joe and Sarah are moving in this weekend, Steph and Ian will be moving here in August (probably), and there may be a slow trickle of other friends, depending on how taken they are with the place when they come to visit. Shad won't be joining us, unfortunately. That actually makes me sad because we used to hang out a lot, now we probably won't anymore.

I'm not a total convert to the area. I hate Safeway (as compared to King Soopers). I don't like suburbia. It feels ungenuine, because it's all apartment complexes or condo communities, and chain restaurants / retail stores. There're no small, long-established local businesses. No cozy nooks. But the price and location is right, for now. We'll see for the long term.

Well, that's all for now peeps. Talk at you later!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

*meanders into the room*

My long-lost best friend from middle school is an amazing blogger, an inspiration to single moms and married childless couples and anyone else in the world in my opinion... and she gave me this award. I'm not sure I deserve it, and I'm even less sure that I have the nerts to say 10 things that are difficult for me to share... 1) because I feel like I share almost anything under the opinion that if I'm not proud of thinking it then I shouldn't be and 2) because if I'm not sticking to that opinion then it's REALLY something I shouldn't be sharing. But I'll give it a shot, eh?

The Honest Scrap award is given by other bloggers who consider a blog’s content or design to be brilliant. The awardees must then post ten honest things about
themselves and pass the award on to other bloggers who fit the bill – in other words, whose blog is brilliant.”

I think honesty is put to the test when you tell people things you’d rather not share. Things that scare you. So here’s 10 painfully honest / potentially disturbing things about me (proceed with caution):

  1. I think I've lost the capability to express myself artistically. I tell people who say this sort of thing to me, "that's ridiculous, just make yourself do it!" But I can sit and stare at a blank page for hours, feeling more and more frustrated and helpless. I don't want to give up but repeatedly trying and failing makes me feel worse than not trying.
  2. I fear, often, that I've made all the wrong decisions in my life. Yes, I'm happy, but I'm not doing all the things I dreamed of doing--or any of them really. I'm too old, and too young.
  3. I really really hate it when people suggest to me that I do something that I was already planning on doing. I don't know why, but it immediately makes me want to refuse.
  4. My sex drive is all but gone. Sixteen, where did you go?
  5. I think I might be a mean person. At least judgemental.
  6. I deeply resent having to work full time to earn insurance for my chronic illness. Seems bass-ackwards to me.
  7. I MS'd out of Grad school without even finishing 1 semester after doing a ton of work and 6 years of planning and longing. I don't think I'll ever go back.
  8. I believe that a few generations after I'm gone, it will be as though I never was.
  9. Most of my friends call me a "badass" or "courageous" or "amazing" because I don't let things stop me. I call that celebrating mediocrity. If I was those things, I'd still be in Grad school, or have something published, or be accomplishing anything at all.
  10. I think I might love my cats more than my (future) kids. This sucks, because they almost certainly have a shorter lifespan. But I can tell them what to do forever, and they can't throw screaming tantrums in grocery stores.

So, while my life is not exactly boring right now, I don't think I have the time to type about it right now. I'll post at a later date, I promise.

Tag, crazy people!

Adventures in Domesticity

Stargazer's Observatory

Tea Party With the Hatter

Burning Tree

K.D. Bryan

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a scam. It was entirely fabricated by greeting card companies, flower companies, and chocolate companies for the purpose of sucking poor schmoes' wallets dry out of the sense that their significant other would kill them if they didn't buy such things for them for V-Day. These companies either didn't stop to consider the feelings of single people, or just don't care.

Of course, this stupid holiday is insidious. When a person in a relationship (myself) says the above paragraph, the secretly (or openly) bitter single people think (or say), sure, that's easy for you to say, you have the option to be arrogant and laissez-faire about it... and etc. and etc. and etc.

When a single person says it, other single people and people in relationships think, sure, rationalize it away, pretend you don't wish you had someone to pamper you. We get it. It hurts less if you pretend you don't care.

But I would like to say, here, now, and without any arrogance or laissez-faire attitude, that I hate Valentine's Day. Everything you might get your significant other is 3 times more expensive around this time of year than any other time. It universally makes single people miserable, or at least single-conscious. Plus, by its very nature it implies that there's no real reason to be romantic and loving with your significant other any other time. "This is the time when it means something." It seems to say.

And yet, even so, every year it comes around and B and I agree to ignore it. Yet, as the day draws closer I get more and more nervous, thinking he's going to surprise me with something, thinking I should surprise him with something. V-Day is the absolute best for guilt-tripping perfectly happy people into spending money. >_<

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's been a while, hasn't it?

Erf. Long time is long. Okay so...

November 24th I saw a new neurologist. Timothy Vollmer, one of the leading neurologists in the field of MS. It was at an intimidatingly huge medical facility in Denver. Talking to the man was like reading a research paper, he had so many facts and figures. He was scary knowledgeable, and refreshingly take-charge. There was no "so what do you want to do? What do you feel comfortable with?" He told me what my best options were and started the process of getting me on a new medication. He was like a steamroller. But, it was so very encouraging.

I'm going to be getting on a medication called Tysabri, which blocks the immune system from accessing the brain at all. This means that, for a year, I shouldn't be having any MS symptoms at all. Why stop after a year, you say? Because there is a virus that lives in all of our bodies that will build up in the brain when it's sheltered from the immune system and han be fatal if not stopped; even if it's caught quickly it can cause permanent damage. However, there are 5 reported cases in 40,000 patients on Tysabri, and not one happened before the patient had been on Tysabri for a year.

I started a new job on December 10 ($4.35/hour more than I made at ListenUp!!!), and aside from the pay increase there's a lot of really awesome bennies. Excellent health insurance (+ vision & dental), 401k, life insurance, disability insurance, on and on. A positive and busy workplace and the days go quickly, even if I am tired at the end. However, I was (mis)led to believe that the insurance would be active the day I started, when actually, it's active the first day of the month following the beginning of employment. That left me insurance-free for 21 days, and we couldn't get the ball rolling on the Tysabri until then. And now that the ball is rolling, it's going to take up to 4 weeks to actually get my first dose.

In the meantime, my hands are still 90% numb. That's not likely to get any better until I'm on this new medication (if even then... there's always the thrilling chance that the damage may be permanent. However, that's not likely). Blech. I go through cycles of preemptively getting excited about having my hands back soonish and being depressed because I think that I've forgotten how to type, use screwdrivers or pliers, be a normal person with normal hands in any way. I've discovered that I cannot put on post earrings...though I wear earrings so rarely I wouldn't be surprised if I'd forgotten how to do that before now.

In other news, my best friend Carlie and my good friend Dan (one of B's groomsmen) have found love, happiness and bliss in each other's arms. They are both vomiting slimy pink fluff (contradiction in terms, I know... picture fluff made of gak) everywhere. Congrats to them, they deserve all the happiness in the world ^_^

And...that's all folks. =)