Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's that time of year again...

When everybody and their brother is doing 'end of the year'/'best of the year/'year in review' posts.

And who am I to buck tradition?

2013 was not nearly the shit show that 2012 was (although it certainly was the year a lot more curse words showed up regularly in my vocabulary), but it was the year when the hell of 2012 caught up with me.  (And a lot of other people, I think.)

So I spent the majority of the year swamped with a grief that was terrifying and incommunicable for me - I was constantly feeling that it shouldn't be this bad, or still this bad - and couldn't seem to explain to people just how bad it was, so I shut up about it. As is evidenced by the severe lack of pre-November posts on this blog: the smallest number since it's inception 8 years ago. It seems it's easier for me to write through illness and pain, and people dying and caring for the dying, and betrayal and hurt, than the feelings that all of those things leave in their wake.


I still can't explain how the first half of the year passed by so quickly, and how the second half of the year felt like I was waking up from a coma. Somewhere around my birthday, though, there was a shift, and I started to think "Ok, if I don't snap out of this soon, it's going to get really bad." So I made myself do some things that were good for me  - and I really mean made myself: getting out of the house seemed even more Herculean than ever, but I sometimes managed it.  And, slowly but surely, somethings started looking up.

For example, 2013 was the year I became a fledgling Whovian & Nerdfighter; It was the year I finally did some of the things I said I wanted to be doing - going book signings (some more successful than others); outings with grown-ups!; Investing a large sum of money (for me) in a camera that does (mostly) what I tell it to do!; Joining tumblr (and letting the reblogs begin!) & finding spoonies to connect with, locally and all over the world.

It was the year I stopped giving (so much of) a damn about what other people's expectations of me might be, and just embraced my inner geekiness to a level that still does not plumb the depths of my inner nerd-capabilities. (I dressed up on Halloween for trick-or-treaters! I bought a skirt with comic book print all over it to wear to Boston Comic-Con next year. I claimed my Hufflepuff-ness! I did Disney crafts and showed them to people! I made my niece and nephew watch The Hobbit (which they liked)!) I'm going to keep on going, and one of these days my family will be embarrassed to be seen with me because I am geeking out over something that I am probably too old to be geeking out over, and I will be proud of that.

2013 was the year I called the cops on my dad, after months of suffering his abuse (or letting my mom suffer his abuse) in silence: I did it because it was the right thing to do, and I don't care if a large portion of my family disagrees with me or thinks I should have handled it differently or is telling me I'm being to harsh with him now (by basically ignoring him) - I know I did the right thing then, and that ignoring him now is saving me from being hurt even further. So I'm going to keep doing what I have to do, and everybody else can just deal with how uncomfortable it makes them. There's a whole lot of discomfort coming up, if I'm any judge: I think my mom is truly done and that there's going to be a separation and house selling and change of circumstances for everybody very shortly. It's going to hurt all around, and everybody is going to have their own emotions to deal with, and I'm just going to do my best to be there for people without letting them trample my own feelings in the process. (Therein lies the trickery.)

2013 was also the year that I saw a baby born. Which was powerful in a way I thought people were exaggerating - having never given birth myself, or been present in the room at anyone's birth besides my own.  The idea that I spent time this year watching a new person show up on earth, to in fact be the first person to see him show up on earth is still unbelievable to me.  I almost can't explain how touching it was - and how much that whole experience, rife with my sister being a warrior princess who almost died and my other sister showing up in ways that ultimately cost her and just sitting in that room, in the dark, in the (pardon the pun) pregnant silence beforehand, while my sister gathered her resources and praised the Gods of Epidurals: Every painful moment and hard-earned bruise, every countdown from ten and impatient toe tapping; every bathroom light flickering off at opportune moments, and the instantaneous relief when the baby cried, when the nurse came back from surgery to tell us my sister was fine - I will relish Every. Single. Second. of that experience. Forever.

2013's theme word/phrase was "perhaps", and a lot of those perhaps-es were not what I expected.  A bunch of them came out of nowhere and mowed me down, left me to pick myself back up. A few of them were sparkling solitary moments of crystal clear perfection in an otherwise tornado of a life.

Those moments are what I'm trying to hold on to right now, as we all end out the year - Seeing the baby's head after a very long day; seeing my sister and her husband, fast asleep, while I held their little one and told him how much he was loved; watching NephTwo laugh in the line as we waited for Santa (on what he swears will be his last year); reading a blog post and laughing so hard I thought I'd choke; snuggling with Lil Girl right before she fell asleep and turned into a sleep ninja; the look of pure dread on Oldest Nephew's face when the waiters started singing 'happy birthday'; holding my mother's trembling hand as I played her patient during her CNA exam; SisterK's pixie cut and how it made her look like a grown-up, all of the sudden; SisterJ's laughter returning after a frighteningly long absence; the text from my brother telling me he'd gotten married; writing a book and learning way too much about the Spanish Flu; watching a friend get married - so far away! - over the internet, and marveling at the world we live in now; playing Apples to Apples with teenagers who didn't know what the Cold War or who Eddie Murphy was; chocolate fondue for my birthday - So many tiny, excellent moments in this whirlwind of a year that started out so bleak, and could have ended the same way.

I'm in for some changes, the New Year is sure to bring them, and 2014 is coming whether we're ready or not. So, just a quick 'thank you' to all of you who've helped make my 2013 so special - Spoonies, Twitter Friends, Tumblrarians, Nerdfighters, People I Blog Stalk, and my (wonderful, fantastic, couldn't have done it without you) everyday readers. Thank you, for sticking with me, for helping me see some things I wanted to avoid, and for sticking around through the gloomy times. 

Here's hoping 2014 is packing a whole lot of happiness in whatever punch it's preparing for us all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When creepy shit starts happening, the people who die are the ones who pretend it is not happening and who try to explain the creepy shit away and also the ones who try to convince others that they are crazy for believing in the creepy shit. The people who survive are usually the first ones to say “Hey, creepy shit, I’m not sure I entirely believe in you, but for right now I am going to take you seriously and act like you are real”*

My dad was married to SisterS' mom 37+ years ago, when she was a baby. They were only together five or six years, and he told me once that he knew it was over when, after his mother died, he was in a room crying and she just walked away, went to bed, and went to sleep.

"How could anybody be that heartless," he wondered to me as he was telling the story "if you love somebody, to just see them suffering and walk away, go to sleep?"  At the time, I agreed with him - although my step-sister's mom isn't a heartless witch or anything, it made me think about how against a person you'd have to be, how... cold to see somebody in pain and just... walk away.

That was before he taught me that walking away is sometimes the only thing you can do, the safest thing you can do, the only way to protect yourself.

He wouldn't see it that way - he very clearly thinks I am some version of the heartless witch I imagined his ex as all those years ago - but time and experience has taught me differently.  And still: I cannot be the completely heartless wench I want to be/probably should be in his case.  Too many times when I have been burned, I still feel sorry for him, to see him fall into the hole he has created for himself!  No matter that I have just been abused by this person, or if he has just finished berating me for a thing that leaves me with nettles sticking out of my heart, there is a part of me that is afraid of being the one who goes to sleep while someone else is sitting there suffering, and what being that person - in relation to someone who may even deserve it at that particular point in time - means about Me. As a person.  If you can turn your back on one person you love, can't you - given the right circumstances - turn your back on any of them? These aren't questions I have answers to... even if I know I'm not the one turning my back, that all the spaces I've put between us are there as protection, as barriers - mostly for my benefit, I admit - so that my heart doesn't keep getting crushed.    

I know he is hurting; I know he is using that hurt to hurt other people.  I can't bring myself to step in at the 'he is hurting' part, because I'm afraid it will turn into the 'hurting me/other people I love' part. It's learned behavior, I keep telling myself.  It's earned behavior.  It's not callous punishment or disregard for his feelings, even when I feel the most pissed off at him and think he might deserve one or both of those things - there is always some piece of me that remembers that once, he was a younger man, sitting at a table, grieving the loss of his mother, and his wife turned away.  That once he was a little boy whose father disappeared, and reappeared only to create havoc and bring misery. That, in his lifetime, it was reasonable to rage at people and expect it to translate into respect.

That, a long time ago now, when I was the one sitting grieving, and I realized my Daddy was gone, and that he was never going to be the man I needed him to me, I turned to my Dad (who was also not the man I needed him to be) and was told "he can't do any better, and you're just going to have to forgive him for it, because he doesn't get the chance to change it."

And knew in my heart that it was true for both of the men I have called my father.

I know it now, but it doesn't make living with him any easier. I don't know how to forgive ongoing hurts - I didn't then, and I don't now. Our current 'peace-ish' accord - which generally consists of us not talking all that much, and me sitting tensely while my parents 'discuss' things, keeping patrol for raised voices and insults, threats and unacceptable behavior - has been broken.  As always, I feel irrevocably, unforgivably broken.

It isn't as if he doesn't know I am doing those things, but it doesn't seem to stop him from raging when he feels it is his right. And, this past weekend, he felt he'd earned the right, yet again.

So I get to (yet again) have the fabulous experience of stepping between my parents to prevent things from getting physical. Of having to explain the situation to (grossly ignorant and so patronizing I wanted to punch them) police officers. Of getting all of my most sensitive buttons pushed - I am not his daughter; I will never have a meaningful relationship because I am a hardhearted, unforgiving bitch; I do not have the right to intrude into their 'discussion' because I am a child, and it is not my business; My mother is a cunt, and I'm just like her; I'm sick and weak and unlovable, and he should know because hasn't he been forced to put a roof over my lazy ass for my entire life, and gotten nothing in return? Of being kicked out of said house because I'm ungrateful and disrespectful and a bitch. (Not that I went anywhere, because... well, I don't really have any other options, but it's the thought that counts.) Of holding it together pretty well in the face of all of that, and then breaking down completely when he started to throw my siblings under the bus as well, because trampling me was not providing him with his desired response.

Of being ignored for every day since, for having the gall to call the cops, to say "That is e-fucking-nough." and "You have no right to treat people this way." And of knowing, eventually, that he'll come in here, with his half-assed apologies, and that I will be expected to forgive and forget. Two things that I have been unable to do - when it comes to him - for at least a decade. 

And so, I guess, it'll have to be my right to keep the walls up, to man the barricades.

To be the one who turns away, even if it makes me feel badly about myself.

Because it feels slightly less bad than the other option, which is allow myself to be attacked without standing up for myself, ever. To allow the people I love to be trampled without standing up for them, because he sees it as interfering and disrespectful.

To protect me is to be against him, at this point, and that's what he just can't seem to understand.

I wish I didn't understand it so goddamn well.

---- Captain Awkward's amazing analogy re: abuse and scary movies. Because I'm not going to be a casualty of this horror movie, if I can at all help it ---

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Well, here we are

At the end of November, and I have completed both National Novel Writing Month (#2!) and National Blog Publishing Month (#6!).  Thank you for sticking around for both of those - This year's novel is still unfinished  - in fact, there are a lot of parts where I just wrote such helpful things as "INSERT SCENE WITH MC AND ANGE FIGHTING VEHEMENTLY" and just skipped over the scene itself, for the sake of keeping the words flowing, even if they weren't right for that particular scene that particular day. So, there will still be some writing to be done, but the 50,000 (technically, at this point, 50,348) goal has been met, and that feels awesome.

As for publishing a post every day in November, I am so glad to have made it through another year and to help me break through the grief-word-eating-cloud a little bit. (A little bit? How about I posted more this month than I have since this time last year? Or at any cumulative point this year? Understatement.) So yay!

Now, if only I could read and write simultaneously, that would really help me out, because all of this writing has definitely curtailed my reading this month. She says as she checks the ridiculous number of posts languishing in her feed reader.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pie Day Mission -

Accomplished! (Everyone came and ate and left safe and sound. Excellent all around. Except remind me to tell you how I should never play Cards Against Humanity.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pie Day

I've made 5 pies today - 1.5 with gluten free crusts, thank you very much - and am exhausted.  So, no super fancy words today - Just hope that wherever you are (or are heading) for the holiday, it finds you as well and as happy as possible.

My standards for happy Thanksgivings are low: Parade. Turkey. Mashed Potatoes. No Emergency Rooms, Paramedics, or Hospitals of any kind. You would think that this would be an easy standard to meet, but not in our family. So: Here's hoping for an Emergency Room-Free Thanksgiving for all!

I'm hoping that in addition to the my minimal standards our day will also include Family Members Who Are Not Yelling At Each Other; Game Playing; Pie Eating; No Food Falling On the Floor; and Surprises of Only Happy Kinds.

Fingers crossed, everybody!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Venturing out (or, why I don't go places)

So last night, I did something I've been vowing to do a lot more of, but things - mostly being sick, or trying to accommodate other essential parts of my life - kept popping up and preventing me from doing: Leaving the house to do actual grown-up things.

Now, some of you may want to quibble over the definition of 'adult' when I tell you that the thing I attempted to attend last night was a book signing by one of my new favorite authors, Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan, whose work I have also really enjoyed - and who both happen to write YA fiction - as well as and two other authors whose work I had not had too much experience with before last night, but whose readings last night definitely made me curious enough to put them in my TBR heap.  (Paul Rudnick & Bill Konigsberg), but those quibblers would be wrong.  All books for all people, that's my motto.

Anyways, in order to go to the signing, I did what good chronic babes do - plan ahead, figure it out, try to make it work. I spent the day in bed, recuperating from a rather long Sunday of crafts with the family, and gathering my spoons for what I expected to be a couple hours of an outing (at night, in the cold, which aren't my regular things, so therefore take extra spoons.) Which, I was totally fine with doing - that's this American's life, anyways - chronic illness = chronic spoon hoarding.   I got up early to take a shower, so that I could have a nice long shower coma during the afternoon, and then spend some time getting ready to go out, and then hit the signing. And I rationed my meds & my meals appropriately, so that I'd hit the peak of pain management right around the time of the reading, be able to pop the next dose probably while waiting in line to be signed, etc. etc. - In short, all of the bits and pieces that go into everyday chronic living that people without chronic illnesses don't take into consideration, and usually I don't mention - They're just the cost of living in this body.

But the reason I remind you of that cost is just to show you you that that's where my evening started.  That's the blank slate of my night, if you will: A lot of effort went into getting there, and then it went down hill from there, but I just needed to remind you (and myself) that it took a lot to get there in the first place. 

 I'll also tell you what else is the cost of living in this body, and that is showing up at a book signing - that you have spent nearly a month anticipating, because people you like have been telling you how great this author is and how awesome her books are, and then you read the book and they are right, and she is awesome, and now you Must Meet Her -  a half hour early - to get a good seat, even though I've got my own chair, I like to make sure I'm not in an aisle or blocking people's way or sticking out like a sore thumb or anything - only to find out that the signing - which has been highly publicized by the bookstore through its tweets and tumbls - is down a flight of stairs. 

Now, ordinarily, I have reconned any new experiences quite thoroughly, so that this sort of disappointment is not a common thing anymore: A few years of showing up to places that you can't get into is both demoralizing and informative - you learn pretty quickly to call ahead and triple check.  But the thing about this bookstore is that I've been there before.  More than once.  And while I knew they had a downstairs, used books section, it did not occur to me that the signing would be there, because I had been to a previous signing - much smaller: I admit now that I should have recognized and realized this - that had been held upstairs.  So I was super excited that this little independent bookstore - one of my personal favorites - was having one of my new favorite authors to a signing, and the logistical part of my brain skipped right over the "well, where are they going to put the people for this signing if there are four authors?" part of the equation.

Still - a flight of stairs is an insurmountable obstacle for me, BUT, I was quickly assured by the booksellers that the event would be broadcast over the speakers to the upstairs, so I would be able to hear everything, and that my book would get signed, and that they would have the authors come up to meet me at the end.  So, after some mental realignment, I paid for my new copy of Eleanor and Park (I've only read Fangirl, which I love, love, loved,) and asked the clerk that I'd brought my own copy of will grayson, will grayson to be signed (and was assured that it would be fine), and I set about to listen to the readings and browse the bookstore.

Which - while not optimal, what with the phones ringing and the people upstairs not understanding that when an author is reading you should be quiet - mostly worked out OK.  A few twinges here and there when the crowd upstairs was too loud, or a question downstairs was too quiet, or the crowd downstairs laughed collectively and my gut gave a little pull at being - once again - on the outside.  Everybody down there was fangirling for Fangirl, watching as the authors read a scene aloud, and I was up here, trying to balance books on my lap and stop people from bumping into me while I parked my chair under the nearest speaker in what I hoped to be an unobtrusive corner.

But it got so much worse once the readings ended, and the signing began.  Because then the speakers shut off, and I was cut off from whatever was, collectively, happening downstairs.  Except for the random bursts of laughter, or the intermittent groups of people exiting, all chittery and excited. And I know that the reality of it is that a large group of mostly teenagers and college-aged kids were crammed into a basement room, hot and sweaty in their overcoats, even though it was freezing outside, just because there were so many of them and the line was so long. The reality of it was that the authors tried to talk with everyone and joke and smile and shake hands, and sign and personalize, all while trying to rush things forward, to get to the next person in the never ending line.  I know that that's the reality of it.

And I tried to convince myself - or my mother, as she got more and more put out on my behalf as the hours passed - that I was lucky to be up here browsing through the bookstore while waiting, instead of stuffed downstairs with everybody else.  But I didn't buy it, and neither did she.  Because that's part of it.  That hot cramped, impatient wait in line is part of the experience, and I wasn't getting it.

It's a hard thing, it's a terrible thing, to have something that you want so close, and be unable to get to it. I mean, all that was keeping me from being a part of things was those stairs, and the longer I waited, the more I tried to convince myself that this was all fine with me, that being excluded didn't hit every soft spot I had, didn't make me feel stupid and unnecessary and make me question why I even bothered to leave the house in the first place.

And see - that's the thing that I can't explain to the lovely clerk at the store who kept telling me the line was moving and things were progressing - that it wasn't the wait that was bothering me, it was being left out.  It's the part I wasn't able to explain to the book signing lady who rushed up the stairs, all apologies and explainations of my book getting mixed in with the preorders - that after four hours of waiting, and the store closing down around me, and listening to people joke and laughter rumble up from the basement, I had to go, I had to leave or burst into tears right there. 

The clerk called down when I was the last one left upstairs (Well, me and my pissed-off mum), asking about my book, and I knew just by the tone of her voice while she talked to the person downstairs - that slightly annoyed, slightly embarrassed, slightly trapped 'I don't know what the hell do do with this lady in the wheelchair who's just up here wandering around waiting' tone - that I wasn't near as OK as I was pretending to be: Here I was, in a bookstore nearly all by myself, which is basically like a wish-come-true-territory for me, but after hours of pretending I was alright with being left out, suddenly, my stomach started roiling, and I could feel the tears gathering, that tightness in your chest that warns you you're probably going to cry.

So when the event lady came bustling up the steps a few minutes later and asked for my name again - and then flew back down the stairs to get the book signed - I just, felt frozen.  Felt forgotten and frozen and knew I was going to cry.  In defense, I picked up the book nearest to me, turned my back on the clerk and my mother (who had been getting more and more agitated and whose agitation was wearing on me) and just stared blankly at its pages.  I have no idea what book it was.  I turned pages blindly for the five minutes it took the event person to come tearing back up the stairs, signed book in hand, apologies on her tongue.  I think I thanked her, I know I tried to thank the clerk: I basically "ran" as fast as my wheels would take me so that I would be outside before I started crying.

I mean, it sounds ridiculous to me right now, typing it out, to say that "I didn't get to meet the authors I went there to meet, and so I burst into tears."  That's not it, although that was super disappointing  - Because Rainbow seems so lovely! and her name is Rainbow! And David was hilarious! and the other authors were so charming and self-effacing I knew they would be my kind of people too.  It wasn't just that, is what I mean.  It was being forgotten.  It was forgetting to double check, and thinking I was safe in a place because I've been before.  It was waiting for four hours - patiently and without fuss - and realizing at the end that I should have made a fuss, that I'd made a fool out of myself by waiting. 

See, on here?  On the web? I am totally confident (well, mostly confident) in my ability to stand up for what's right, disability and accommodation wise.  In person, I almost always feel like I'm asking for too much, or that asking for anything is being pushy.  I've gotten a LOT better - you wouldn't believe the things college-age me let people get away with (I don't); but it's still SO hard for me, especially in the moment.  In the moment, I convince myself that whatever other people are offering is alright.  I convince myself that second best or third best or not worst is good enough for me, because it allows me to participate somehow.

Thinking it over this morning, I see all the things I could have or should have said or done -  I should have said something to the event person, right at the start, about arranging to come back at the end of the signing to meet with the authors.  I should have listened to the reading, gone to dinner, and told them I'd be back at the end.  I should have asked to meet the authors when I first got there - before the scheduled signing - once I learned that the event was inaccessible.  I should have done any or all of these things.  Instead, I let myself accept the solutions they offered, with the mindset that them offering any solution should be enough for me.

It isn't enough.  It shouldn't be enough. And that is why I left in tears, and that is why I was so upset last night (and am still upset today): Because it took so many spoons to get there in the first place, only to have my hopes dashed.  Because I rolled around a store I used to love for four hours, listening to authors I enjoy, and now my enjoyment of both of those things will be colored with the regrets of yet another time I didn't speak up for myself. Because my mother sat there fuming and asking if I wanted her to say anything, and it's embarrassing to have your mother realize you should be speaking up for yourself before you do. Because I never got my copy of will grayson signed. Because when they started shutting the lights off and making announcements over the loudspeaker about the store closing, I felt like nothing more than a scolded child.  Because I left in tears instead of raging at the very nice people who made some mistakes and missteps, but probably didn't deserve either.

 Because sometimes I just want to be able to go the fucking bookstore and see an author and not have to worry about spoons and stairs and being left out. 

---- Edited to add: Of course today I see on their website (which, since I generally follow them on Twitter/Tumblr -and again, I had been there before - I hadn't thought to double check and it says "Our downstairs event space is not handicapped accessible; if you need further assistance please call ahead of time for accommodation." So I can't even say that they weren't clear about it beforehand: it's just my own assumptions that started this snowball rolling down the hill. ----

Monday, November 25, 2013


So I told you guys I was going to a book signing tonight, right?

I'll write more about it tomorrow (or later tonight: I just have to shove some food in my face), but let's just say that was the most disappointed I've been leaving a bookstore since I had my own money & didn't have to have a melt down every time my mother would hold up her 'just one' finger and I had to decide between the latest Babysitter's Club, or the newest Stephen King. (What? That's normal, right?)

For now let's just say that the signing was downstairs; the staff forgot or misplaced my book; and although I was told that the author would come up at the end of the night, and I waited almost four hours for her to do so, they basically closed the store around me with no author in sight. So. It's just one more of those little arrows that chronic illness gets to aim at you, and when your armor's not up to protect you from it, those bastards sneak right in and hit you where it hurts.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Did some crafty things

with my family today - almost all in attendance (4/5 sibling family groups: pretty close!) for at least part of the day.

Most of the craftiness involved ornament making: last year we made lovely wreaths, this year, 2 different kind of ornaments.  One of which was the kind we used to make in the preschool with cinnamon and applesauce  - and glue, I do not remember glue, because at least 3 of the kids I used to teach would have eaten them, glue or not. Of course, I somehow wound up making the dough (even though that is not an easy job) and no my arm wants to fall off.  Mostly, though, it was a pretty good day. But also? I smell like cinnamon, as if I took a bath in it, really.

It's fragrant and festive, but it's a wee bit overwhelming.

Back to the grindstone, word wise: I'm almost at 44,000 with just six days to go - a thousand words a day? Totally doable.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No spoilers, sweeties

I am a Dr. Who newbie (I mean... I could watch all the episodes of 10, 11 & 12 in order on Netflix, but life keeps getting in my way) - I admit that with no reservations.  I am partway through 10's run (I think: I don't know how many more episodes he has), but you also can't exist on Tumblr, Twitter, or the Internet in general without knowing a whole bunch of what comes after - I literally hadn't seen an episode with Tennant in it's whole state (because I like to go in order: I can't help it) until today, even though I've been watching 12's new episodes ever since I fell into the Whovian trap (about a year ago?). 

Lemme just say this, to people who say that 11 is their doctor: I am definitely understanding your love.

So watching The Day of The Doctor today, live, with all the other internet peoples abuzz (although some of my favorite Whovians have given up cable! and couldn't watch live! which made me wish that you could share cable via Internet, I was so sad) - It was an experience.  Tumblr was on the case, filling me in on all the little inside things I had missed: And apparently there were quite a few of them.

(But I did get some! When that happened, I nearly threw myself a party - I definitely felt like Captain America, that's for sure :

For anybody who couldn't watch & wanted to: I hope you get to see it ASAP, and that you are avoiding all other places on the Internets until then. (Why you would be here, I can't imagine, but let's just go with it.)

For anybody who has not fallen into a Whovian hole - I am (not really) sorry that the Internet is talking about the only Doctor I don't want to murder on a regular basis.  And Sherlock. Because the BBC likes to taunt us and knows its audience.

(Side note: if Blogger's spellcheck could recognize that both Blogger and I(i)nternet are words - never mind Tumblr and Whovian, which I know is a bit of a stretch, that'd be great.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

I am playing cribbage with my parents

which is super weird, because they... don't get along at all.  I don't know what's happening, really. We'll have to talk about it more tomorrow, because I have to go kick their butts.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nine more days

I've been saving a picture (a really good picture) of Baby D to post for a day when no words will come. And every day, nearly, when I open up this window I think "Well: nope - no words today." But so far - to both my surprise and delight - I have been wrong.  Even if it's just the daily word tally (37,695, thank you very much) (although only about 1000 of those were written today) - at least I think of something.

So, hopefully I'll make it through the next nine days without running out of brain cells capable of creating words, and then you'll have a picture of the Dashman as your December 1st reward, for sticking through this whole month (especially all the world count updates).  Or, if you're like me, you'll have about 7,000 blogs in your feed to sort through that day, and you'll be really glad that there aren't any more words to read.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Every single time

I swear to god ... I don't know why I bother with doctor's appointments, really.  Every time I leave with a plan, or a set of actions that I think are coming next, and then the test results come in and... nope! Let's do something completely different.

Talked to Zack today... apparently my Holter monitor did not go well.  thought I did super well - I did r e l a x i n g things that day so as not to screw with the bp too much - I rocked the new baby for hours! I... had tea and cookies and chats.  I also apparently had multiple "concerning episodes".  That "did not match up with your reported activities."  Well... duh. 

But... what's 'concerning', exactly, Zach?  "Oh, well you threw a lot of PVCs - 275 in less than a couple of hours"  Now, you may not know it, but PVCs in and of themselves aren't that huge of a deal, always - most everybody has some irregular heartbeat type things every now and then! (I did not know that ~ did you?) But.."that's kind of a lot of them, especially if you weren't ... exercising or something."  Insert loooong hilarious laugh at the idea that I could be exercising, and then, take a moment to think about what could happen if I tried to exercise, which is what I have been telling people for years: My heart feels like it will literally explode, because that is how it feels when I try to stand up, or sit down, or move at all. Except - Hey, look at this; these number say that if rocking a baby and drinking (decaffeinated, btw) tea is causing your heart to race and you to have palpitations, probably exercising would not be wise right now.

Color me shocked.

So I have to go get that looked at 'more in depth', which he did not explain  - Zach is very good at saying things like that and then leaving it to his nurse to call me three days later with an appointment booked and I'll be like "but... what's this for?" and she'll say "Didn't he tell you he wanted you to see the XYZologist?" "No, no he did not."

PLUS, in other awesome (read: unawesome) news, my Rheumatoid "pattern" has "completely reversed itself." Literally, from one blood test to the next - something about which proteins are elevated, the big ones or the little ones, blah blah something I don't know... But what he says next is "So you know how Dr. House is always saying it's not Lupus?"

 "And you've always told me it's not Lupus?"

 "Right; It might be Lupus."


 "Probably, more like lupus AND you know, whatever else is already wrong with you"

 "Zack I do not like these answers."

 "Well, it could also be Rheumatoid Arthritis, because that titer or panel" (honestly, at this point all my notes are just arrows and question marks) "is high as well." 

"Zack, how does that sound better?"

  "No, it doesn't, but... you should definitely see an infectious Rheumatologist."

"Why are there even such things as infectious rheumatologists?"

  "Because of people like you."

(And I swear I can hear him smiling, which, even though I love him, makes me kind of want to kill him.)

"So... which of these should I be the most worried about right now?" I ask him, before he can scurry off to another patient or phone call or the fifty million things he can seem to do at one time.

"Let's just say that if the rheumys can't see you in the next 2 weeks, call me back and I'll try to convince them otherwise."

He talks a little bit more about drugs and anemia (I need to take iron, and that might be contributing to the POTS, which could be adding to the stupid PVCs thing) and then gave me doctors to call and blah blah blah.  BUT we never even talked about my thyroid which was the reason I went to the goddamn appointment in the first place.

So now I'm going to have to call him back and ask him about that, too.  Only I don't even want to know, at this point.  Just sent me the test results with a big SNAFU stamp across the top (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up) - I'll be happy with that.

I do not understand bodies. Or doctors. Or life.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Food stuffs (but not the fun kind)

 I tried making gluten free practice pies for the first time today -

Other people in my family are trying to go gluten free for their health; I am following along because, at this point, I really have no idea what causes anything in my body, and the food in my house is the food I am going to eat.

I have done gluten free before, so I'm not holding out a ton of hope - I have, in fact, gone everything free - literally, for a time I was almost hospitalized because everything I ate caused a reaction. One summer I lived on Gatorade and Saltines. Another, while I was supposedly 'clearing' my allergies with a very sketchy acupuncturist, I lived on fruit and french fries, because I was apparently allergic to every other food in creation. I've been allergy tested for everything - but my test results - as always - come back in some form of completely screwy "I can't decipher this" gobbledygook that the allergist generally just throw up their hands and say "I'm not really sure what to tell you to avoid, because ... well... you have to eat food." Whatever; I'm used to it.  I can only say that the reason I started drinking bottled water in college was that the allergist said to me - "You are so allergic to so many things, I wouldn't be surprised if unfiltered water was causing half of your problems." I don't know if it was or not (obviously not because I have developed 65,000 other problems since then), but I still drink bottled water.  Tap tastes funny.

Anyways, the point of this post was supposed to be about making GF-pie crust for the first time, and how, really, pie crust is my baking nemesis in the first place - It's so... temperamental. And the butter has to be chilled and the real rolling pin is too heavy* and why can't the crust be as easy as the filling!!! Also: note to GF-companies: you start producing some of that ready made pie crust and you might as well be printing cash come Christmas, I promise you. Because pie crust is hard, man.

I made two mini-pies, one for here, one for my sister's house, just to see how they came out... I'm going to try it in a few minutes, but it's not as pretty as normal crust (not quite as golden colored or flaky, somehow).  As long as it doesn't taste like sand, I'm going to go with it. 

If you guys are GF and want to share some of your favorite recipes, please, feel free.  And if you're not, that's ok too, I'll take them (my brother is so not going to go for this, so I'm going to have to stick to some of the regulars).

Also, I did not know that turkeys could have gluten in them - that is very strange and makes my brain hurt.  Apparently, they can inject gluten-y substances into the birds for... flavor? I don't know; looking at it made my brain go, whaaa? Just a little something I learned today that I'm passing on to you.

(Insert The More You Know star and ding here)

*Spoonie tip - I use a pretend-play rolling pin now; It used to belong to the kid's playdough/pretend kitchen sets, but it is the right size and weight for me, so now it's mine.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Let's see if you can decipher this bit:

Sometimes it's really hard to write things because you are so busy not writing other things. It's like the things you are specifically not writing take up so much space in your brain there is no room for any other words to be created, let alone come out.

And other times, all the stuff you are busy not writing shuts its big fat mouth long enough for you to carve out the two thousand words you needed to reach today's goal.

Luckily, I chose to NaNoWriMo this morning, when paragraph two was an option.

Unfortunately, I am trying to write this post this evening, when my only option seems to be paragraph A.

So all you get is some blather about stuff I can't/don't want/know how to talk about, and a note that I previously today have written well (Honestly, it's a historical dream sequence and so far I like it better than the entire rest of the novel. So, come December I might decide that my actual book takes place in Boston circa the fall of 1918, just in time for the Spanish Flu pandemic. But for right now, that's just my ghosts' back story. Yes: ghosts is supposed to be plural, because, better than halfway through the month I have suddenly decided that there wasn't enough peril in my plot and added a bad ghost to antagonize the good ghost and her friends. Don't even ask me. I think my brain is rebelling. The story is never going to end.)

OK, I'm going to go now, that I ... just said a lot of things and didn't say other things.  Happy Monday, everybody.  Less than two weeks to go here. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Left the house again today

and, while I was out, took two text messages from two different sisters; both of them expressed surprised that I was actually out of the house.  "What is this???" one sister said; the other simply wondered where I was.  Both of them got over their confusion quickly when I told them I was at the library, however.  Even though I was there for an unusual reason - to meet up with a NaNo writing group  - our local chapter had an intermission today; I played Apples to Apples with some very nice strangers, some of whom were still in high school & made me feel very old because they didn't know who Eddie Murphy was, but other than that, it was a lovely time. I put my raffle winning prowess to good use*, watched a bit of Stranger Than Fiction, when it wasn't skipping in the library's DVD player, posed for a group picture (blech) and then wandered the stacks a while until Mom swung back to pick me up.

All in all, a pretty good day, even if I didn't get terribly far NaNo-word count wise.  I met the goal and all, but after such a rock star day yesterday, it was kind of a let down.

Oh well,

 There's always tomorrow.

*Have I not mentioned my raffle winning prowess? I am good at winning things you have to put your name on the back of a ticket for, particularly if you then have to put that ticket into a bucket. It has not extended into lottery winning, unfortunately, but I have won all sorts of things over the years; turkeys, a china doll, a picnic basket, various edible goodies, a basket full of books once, and a whole bunch of rather random things I can't recall right now.  Tonight's haul included a NaNo poster, NaNoBoston stickers, cookies and a travel mug.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Today was

our local NaNo chapter's writing marathon (technically, it still is) - the Boston chapter travels all over Boston/Cambridge/Medford area and writes at all sorts of different places - they even camp out somewhere (this year a church basement, I think) and type the night away: I had hoped to hook up with them tonight at the Starbucks in Harvard Square, but it was not to be.

Which is not to say it was a completely wasted day - I did, in fact, NaNo my fingers off, completing just under 5000 actual words (you know, the ones that wind up in the story), 2 hours of research, and a pretty good outline of where the rest of the book is going.  Except for how it ends, of course.  I mean, I know that it does end, I'm just not 100% sure how I get from where I'm at to where it needs to be (and I highly doubt that I will be able to do that in the remaining 19,995 words, but that's another story). 

So yes: Yay!  Novel is mostly plotted - I've done some course correction, I think I have ways to fill in the plot holes, and I know where I want to end up, eventually. I just have to write the rest of the words to get me (or, rather, my characters) from here to there.

I actually took some time today and worked out some character backgrounds, fleshed them out a little, even though it wasn't stuff I could include in my word count, or stuff that will make it into the writing - I found that knowing them a little bit better on paper (because I already had the beginnings of most of these ideas somewhere in my brain) really helped me focus and speed through.  Hence the 1 hour, almost 2 thousand words with which I am closing out my day.

So, I'm disappointed I didn't get to play with the rest of the Boston WriMos, but I'm going to try again tomorrow - they're meeting at the Boston Public Library for an 'intermission' - a little movie and some games and chit chat and things to clear your head space as we hit the final two weeks.  I'm hoping, now that I've got some scenes in mind and a broad sketch of where to wind up, they won't be that hard on me.

I know for some people, it's hard at this point to keep the momentum coming, but last year week 2 was my toughest - sloughing through all the rough and random edges of a story, trying to figure out how all the scenes should cram together to create some sort of puzzle, gnawing off the pieces that don't fit, and hoping you didn't lose anything too important. I'm hoping that I just cleared that difficult mess of my plate, and the rest will be "oh yeah, I know what needs to go here," or "Clearly I am a genius, because this is the best story ever!!"

Neither of those things are anywhere close to the reality of what will be happening in the next 14 days, but just having the numbers - both days on the calendar and word count numbers - on my side makes me feel good.  So when I am pulling my hair out next Wednesday (because Wednesday is pie-day, and I hope to be finished by then hahahahahahaha), you can all remind me how I said the worst was probably over, and I promise not to curse at you too much.

Of course, as previously discussed, my cursing is currently at Scooby Doo levels, so you have nothing to worry about either way.

Friday, November 15, 2013

I don't know if you guys are on Twitter

but I highly recommend checking out the #solidarityisfortheablebodied hashtag that's trending right now (Friday night, around 8 pm). 

It's enlightening, and I consider myself pretty disability savvy.  You never know everything, though; my issues as someone with chronic illnesses and various disabilities is different from even people with the same illnesses, and the spectrum of disabilities is wide and varied.  This is one of the reasons I love the Internet, because it shows you all the things you don't know you don't know. And it makes me feel SO MUCH LESS ALONE.

I don't know how many times I've said it here, or how many ways, but I don't think I could ever state it too much ~ I don't know what I would do if I didn't have a place to find 'my' people, to hear other people say the things my brain has been shouting at me, and to realize that it's not just my own ridiculous crap.  That doesn't just apply to chronic illness parts of me either - finding book nerd friends, and pop culture geeks and moms who don't care that I don't have kids (yet) and people who know they're writers but really would rather do anything besides actual put words on a paper (until they are doing it) - all the various parts of me that I have found echoed in other people online has made me feel so much more connected, so much more a part of things.

Anyways, if you're up for some learning, check out #solidarityisfortheablebodied - I guarantee there will be something there that makes you go 'hmm.'

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Of course,

Since I wrote about enjoying writing so much yesterday, today writing decided to kick my ass.  What else is new?  Honestly, it wasn't that bad, but instead of taking a half hour/hour to write my daily goal, it took twice as long, and I had to stop 640 words short of 25,000 because I had a dentist appointment.  I spent the whole appointment (when not warning the hygienist that if she popped my jaw out of joint again, she would have to be the one to pop it back it) fuming at my characters and wondering if I could justify writing a scene where one of them has to go to the dentist, just to make them suffer.

I didn't come up with a good way to fit that into my story line - YET - but they're all on warning.  So they better get with the program tomorrow and play nice, or the next ghost that makes an appearance is going to be a malicious dentist with a grudge against teenagers and a ghost drill.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I know I say this every November,

but I don't know why I forget that writing is so important for my brain. It's one of those things that quickly falls off my daily to-do list, especially once I flare or an infection crops up or a hospitalization, or even things like eating regularly or Christmas shopping, or what have you.  At that point, it's so much easier to spend my downtime wandering through some revolving cycle of Twitter, Tumblr, Feedly, e-mails, etc, rather than spending valuable spoons trying to create something, even if it's something just as small as a paragraph to post here. (For examples, see this entire past year on this blog, where I have posted less than I will during the month of November.  Grief and even low-grade illness management have combined into a total word-eater of a year.)

And then, I start writing, and it's hard, and I think everything I am writing completely sucks, and how would I ever let anybody read it, and why am I even bothering to try??? and then... Oh Look: Twitter, Tumblr, Feedly, oh my. Yeah. But then I've signed up for something, and I don't like to quit. or I've said it out loud and now people will know if I back out, so I at least have to put something; and the more somethings I put in, the better they start to seem, and maybe I'm not completely useless after all.

Of course, there's still a 60% suckage rate, but that's better than 99%, and it's better than writing nothing, which is 100% sucky.

I don't even know ~ I mean, it's really hard to keep to a schedule when you're chronically ill: Or maybe it's not, maybe it's just me.  I think part of it, for me, is that so many things are Have Tos, health-wise, that making anything else mandatory makes it feel overwhelming and constricting and I immediately want to act in complete opposition to that mandate. I'm a rebel! You can't make me! I don't wanna! Crumbles into a ball on the floor...

What, is that not how adults act? Am I supposed to be a grown-up about everything, just because, technically, I am a grown-up?  That doesn't seem right.

But there's something about NaBloPoMo, and now NaNo, the challenge of it, and the fact that I know so many other writers are out there typing their fingers down to nubs and banging their heads against the same plot walls as me, that makes it seem communal and joyful and not like a task that needs to be checked off the to-do list, more like something I'm happy to do.

Unless I am not making my word count. In that case, words suck, NaNo sucks, I am the world's worst writer, and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME.

But, so far, I'm doing okay word count-wise: I plan on hitting 25,000 either tomorrow or Friday, which is right on schedule, and I'm completely not addressing the fact that my main characters are now closer to 14-15 than 12, because, whatever, that's for the edits.  Also, I think there might suddenly be a relationship subplot, which I totally didn't sign up for, but we'll see if I can manage to make it not be the worst thing in the world.

So what should you take from this long and rambly post re: National Blog/Novel Posting/Writing Month?  Aside from the fact that my brain is a huge battlefield and you should be super glad that you don't have to enter it at any point in time?  Just that writing is a practice, like everybody who writes is always saying, and the more you do it, the more you want to do it, except when you don't. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaNo used up all my brain cell spoons

After a long-ish weekend - what with kiddos sleeping over, dinner & games yesterday, and then actually leaving the house to do a thing last night - I am exhausted and flaring; Surprise! Fibro just dialed the pain up a few notches for me today, is all, and the accompanying brain fog has been lighter the last hour or two, so I'm trying to sneak in some words. 

In the course of hitting today's NaNo goal, a plot point came up and hit me between the eyes with a 2x4, which I find very inconvenient.  I seriously have no idea if it's just my scrambled egg brain today, or if some characters are starting to...do things I didn't think they would do, but I might be in trouble, sub-plot wise.  That's ok, though, because I don't have to fix it today! (Another post might be upcoming on the subject of writing and denial, because I feel so strongly on this subject.)  

Last year, I did NaNo completely last minute, as a means of distracting myself from my grief, and told nobody (in my real life) about it at all while I was toiling away.  When I passed the 50,000 words, I did tell my mom, and although I skirted the issue a bit with a few other people - my sister, who's a poet, and I were talking about writing through the parts you feel stuck on, even if what you are writing is complete crap and you know it's not going to stay, for example - I think that was it.

This year, not only did I mention it here and on Twitter, I told Mom before the month started that I would be quarantining with quiet in the mornings, and not to be worried if I didn't poke my head out until noon (because - for the most part - my rule is to get the writing done, or at least get some writing done, first thing in the morning: if I do that, even if I go back to add more during the course of the day, at least I'll have something.) (Also, if I go out and have breakfast and talk and whatever, then turning on the TV or scrolling through Facebook while I'm drinking my tea is too easily done and too attractive to me - If I give myself the opportunity to be distracted, I will be distracted.).  And over the weekend, I chatted with the kids about it - about how I would need some time to myself (which, when they're here I hardly ever take), and how I was stuck on specific parts of the story, and how, no, I didn't know how it would end yet.

It was really nice to talk to them about it, knowing that I had a NaNo under my belt, and that I was capable of finishing this one - even if I don't finish it in time, even if it winds up being National Novel Writing Year for me: I'm going to be able to finish this piece of work at some point, and so I could talk a little bit about it.  They wanted to read it, which was hilarious, because: NO.  Nobody reads it, which was a whole thing that they did not get at all, which is great because I love it that they're comfortable and confident enough to share whatever they're making, and I hate it that sometimes I am not, but right now? No.  Mine; Don't even bother asking.

And I got some bad news from my 13-yr-old nephew, on the 12-yr-old girls and swearing front: "Schnikes!" and "Zoinks!" are definitely not  making a comeback.  In fact, he blushingly and under the promise of not getting in trouble, told me that he and his friends curse much more than ... well, anybody.  Especially if they are playing X-Box (My brother concurs; said nephew has had to be reprimanded more than once for his use of foul language on that foul machine). 

Now I knew that Scooby-Doo cursing was more than likely not in vogue, but I admit I'm disappointed that my angel-faced-gentleman nephew has a sailor's mouth - and apparently so do his lady friends.  (Although he did say that he doesn't hang out with girls all that often, so he's just basing it on what he has heard in "like school (?!) and recess and things".) I guess that makes us equal though, since said angel-faced-young gentleman nephew gave me such a disappointed look when I explained to him that not only did I not curse when I was 12, I barely cursed at all until I was in my 20s, and even now, I just... don't like to.  (Most times: Sometimes, a Sunavabitch just needs to get called a Sunavabitch.)

Besides, I really think it's time for a "Scnikes!" renaissance.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tonight I went out of the house

and did a grown up thing, with, like other adults!  That did not require me being poked with any needles. Shocking, I know. 

SisterCh & I decided, last minute, to jump on a Groupon deal and head out to one of those Paint Nite adventures that are probably popping up all over your Facebook feed (if my Facebook feed is any indication). 

So, in lieu of a lengthy post, here's a thing I painted (I would've included my sister's but she wrote her name on hers):

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Spending the day with the littles

almost forgot about this here blogging thing (got my NaNo words done this morning before they got here.  Good thing somebody needed snuggles and company before she fell asleep. 

Back tomorrow, when we can all commiserate over the fact that 12 year olds apparently swear like sailors and I am seriously out of touch.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Today I had the most free time I've had all month

and the smallest word count. I don't even know ~ writing is hard. 

You guys, I'm afraid my 'novel' has no plot. I'm afraid it is just witty banter between a bunch of random 12 year olds and a ghost, at this point; and (in all honestly) the ghost is not holding up her end of these conversations. Of course, that's what half the banter is about - "stupid ghosts and their cryptic, ridiculous, non-clue-ish clues" .  The other half of the banter is between two 12 year old girls who used to be best friends and then something happened.

 I am not being coy by writing 'something happened'; I legitimately do not know yet. Mostly they're just aiming little poison barbs at each other, with the kind of precision that only (pre)teen girls -and particularly girls who know each other very well - can manage.

I'm trying to decide whether it'll be more awesome if their friendship just sort of... dissolved or if it completely blew up. There's certainly going to be blowing up somewhere, but I think, from my own experiences, that it's more realistic that friendships just kind of... break up, piece by tiny piece, in such dribs *and drabs, so slowly that you hardly notice it, you just feel little twinges along the way, and all of the sudden .... everything's different.

Especially when you're twelve.  I feel like twelve/thirteen/fourteen was a whole 'how the hell did the earth shift out from underneath me' kind of experience, and that's the feeling I'm going for with their friendship.  Of course, people handle that kind of thing in very different ways, and one of those ways (at least in my experience/in this book) is to be super sarcastic to each other.  My main character is a snarky little demon, and the other girl - who was dealing with the same things, but dealt with it by just... moving on, instead of being hurt -  is, now that they're thrown together again (courtesy of aforementioned ghost) is now surprised and hurt by the main character's reaction, and trying to hold her own.

This sounds so ridiculous, trying to explain it like this.  My whole point was... seriously, plot: wouldn't you like to make yourself a little bit clearer, because we still have 33,000+ words to write, and - as much fun as it is to write the sniping scenes - I have a feeling they'll get old pretty quickly. 

Also - I don't know how many of you others are writing mysteries, but how hard is it to write a mystery that is hard enough not to be instantly solvable via Google, but still easy enough for your characters to eventually figure out?  I am having the hardest time, but I've never attempted to write a mystery before. I hope that I'm getting a little bit of slack since they're, you know, 12, but Dang: Google, you are making mysteries very difficult to write!

*isn't drib a word? at this point I might as well be inventing my own language, and we're only  nine days into NaNo!, but I could have sworn 'dribs and drabs' was a saying - Google agrees, Blogger, so you lose!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Given my post

yesterday, you can imagine my curmudgeonly reaction to our local channel preempting Jeopardy! every Friday night for a sports show. Because, you all know how much I enjoy the sports.


It's just not the same, watching it the next day. Have a good weekend, everybody! If you're NaNo-ing, write your little fingers off! If you're not, find somebody who is and bring them a cup of tea, quietly, without interrupting: just leave it on the desk and back away slowly. We might be dangerous. (Maybe that's just me?)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

So this happened...

For a serious Jeopardy geek like me, that's a big deal.  In my family? We're not just game players, we're game show players - always have been. (Not all of us - half of my sisters, for example, roll their eyes when I turn it on, used to say "I don't need to watch school stuff after school." But that's OK. I still love them.)  But for those of us who are game show players? Jeopardy is it.

I started watching Jeopardy at my grandparents house sometime before I was 8 years old: I only know that because the first time I beat my Grandfather at a game, I was eight, and by then we'd been watching for years. Every night we were at their house, at 7:30 (except for the unfortunate years that the local channel decided to switch up the routine and but it on at 7:00, before Wheel of Fortune, which - if my Grandmother was any judge - was tantamount to trying to put the New Testament before the Old), everybody who wasn't currently doing the dishes or putting a baby to sleep would congregate in my grandparents living room and watch the show. Over the course of the last twenty-however-many or so years, that specific combination of people has included - at various different and/or overlapping points:

My brother and I - fresh from baths, tucked into our pajamas and with backs eager for scratching - sitting at my grandmother's feet; my Uncle Mark,  who had Down Syndrome, sitting in his rocking chair, thumping along to the music and waiting for the end of the show when someone would tell him it was time to get ready for bed, at which point he'd stand in the doorway and say "Good. Night. Mum. Good. Night. Jack." and so on, until each of us had been properly bid farewell; any number of my other uncles, usually found stretched across the floor, one pillow propped underneath their head, quiet enough so that you'd think they weren't paying attention, until the game started and the answers questions would pop lazily out of their mouths; my grandfather, always at his end of the couch, tucked into his corner, probably also listening to either the ballgame or classical music, and most likely working on an embroidery project or crossword puzzle at the same time - he was another one you didn't think would be much competition - with all that noise, how could anybody concentrate? - but he beat me 4 nights out of 5; various cousins on various holidays or school trips or summer vacations, nights when we'd file in from the front porch only long enough to watch the game, laugh about the sports questions I missed or the ballet questions my cousin and I had smoked everyone else on, and then file back out to sit with the mosquitoes until it was time for bed; and, of course, my grandmother - especially during those later years when I would stay with her and it would be just she and I, it seemed Jeopardy, Judge Judy, & NCIS were the only shows that she could tolerate - and both Judy and Gibbs were questionable.

I can think of a million different configurations of my Grandmother's living room, and a million different Jeopardy games we watched from any of them. We watched in the summer, with the windows open and the screens down, so that you could still hear kids playing outside on the street, or all bundled up under blankets or hovering over her heating vents in the winter.  We were watching one Friday night when the house across the street burned down - although, to be fair, we did also, you know, pay attention to the fire. We watched last September, after we lost her, when that room was as cold as I've ever felt it, and that house was as empty as is has ever been - I sat with my sister and my aunts, none of us really paying much attention, but it was enough to have it on, enough that every now and then, we were distracted enough to give an answer.  I've watched with my uncle since then, in the new quiet, the new normal of the house, at least Jeopardy, and a cup of tea and a couple of cookies seems familiar.  I watched by myself, there and here, in tears, more than once, thinking about her and how something so ridiculous as a game of answers and questions can bring her back to me so clearly, how I can almost hear her still sighing over the loss of Alex's mustache, or some 'doofus's' incorrect response.

And it wasn't just there - I played Jeopardy with my mom and my other grandmother the summer I was in the hospital, and then bed bound - we'd keep score and add our tallies, spent the whole summer trying to beat each other, and I have no idea who actually one, but I know my Nana - one of the smartest people I knew - was a horrible wagerer and came in last.  I played with the girls in my dorm at college, my roommate and I would watch while we gobbled down Chinese food or macaroni and cheese from the hot pot in between our day classes and our night classes. And now I have to schedule my phone calls with my 13-yr-old nephew so as not to run over into Jeopardy time, because he plays with the boy down the street (although he plays with an ap somehow? and that makes me feel very old).

Anyways. I can you could see that this would be important to me.  And - of course - because I used my blog twitter instead of my personal twitter, I can't tell my family about it... but I figured you guys would understand.  I mean if you can't talk about being a total quiz show nerd on the Internet, where can you talk about it?

By the way; the poem that they quoted? My Grandmother's favorite (and not coincidentally one of the last things she remembered almost to the very end)?  From the category Lit-Tree-Ture : This self-described "fool" wrote, "a tree that looks at God all day / and lifts her leafy arms to pray".  The contestant answered incorrectly.  Here's the correct answer, and the complete poem:

119. Trees
I THINK that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast; 
A tree that looks at God all day,         5
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 
A tree that may in summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain.  10
Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree. 
                                                                                        Joyce Kilmer. 1886–1918