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A closer look at 2018: Teddy Bear

My friends Ashley and David had some massive plumbing issues at their house this year and needed to move out for several months while repairs were completed, which is hard enough given their young daughter to consider, harder with two pets. Their dog, Teddy Bear, has to be medicated twice daily for seizures, and they didn’t want him to be alone in a kennel in case he had one as the medication doesn’t repress them entirely. So instead, he came to live with us during that time period, and he was an absolute blessing, and dare I say, lifestyle inspiration. Jason and I were both impressed with the way Teddy Bear just flowed into our house, unafraid, and adapted so easily to all the big changes that moving homes and staying with new people represent. 

Teddy Bear looks like a big, fluffy cat from behind and a tiny adorable foxbear from the front. He is pure love with people but hell on wheels if you’re a bird, a fly, a bunny, or god forbid, another dog out on a walk entirely minding its own business. Jason determined that this abrupt shift in personality was Teddy Bear going into “ferosh mode”, as he morphs from a dog into a snarling tornado of fur and teeth.

Teddy Bear doesn’t know how to fetch but he will chase a thrown toy. He can’t hear you calling from the door when he’s been dallying out in the yard but he can hear a cheese wrapper open from a quarter mile away. I fed him so many raspberries fresh off of my raspberry bushes that he figured out how to harvest them himself and made many trips to the snackbush, and several hopeful trips to the snacks-are-all-gonebush. He also discovered he enjoyed munching on apples that had fallen from the tree and that’s when we discovered we couldn’t let him out there unsupervised anymore or he was going to either gain six pounds or contract Apple Madness, which is a condition that I made up and assume involves a lot of bodily functions and wild eyed dog drunkenness.

I think every dog has a dialogue, and I think that Teddy Bear’s is primarily a happy “I’m Teddy Bear!” His dialogue when in ferosh mode is too unseemly for publication.

I spoiled him relentlessly, buying him a bag of fancy organic peanut butter dog treats at a farmer’s market in Atlanta, and then ordering him another bag when the first one ran low.

Teddy Bear would sleep at the foot of our bed and would somehow know instantly when I woke, at which point he would move up to the head of the bed to say hello. We’d get up, I’d let him out, and when he got back in, he’d do a little begging dance for his medication squished into a small globule of yellow American cheese. I didn’t make him dance for his life preserving medication, he chose to. I did, however, ask him to jump through a hula hoop several times for my amusement. 

He would also dance for his supper, begging with his front paws while balanced on his hind legs, but if he determined I was dilly-dallying too much, he’d drop to all fours and charge at me, launching into my calf or the back of my knee with his stiff little front paws. He successfully buckled my leg a couple of times, Teddy Bear’s aim was impeccable.

See you in January!

Hey friends and fiends: I’m on break until January, recharging the noodle, working on new art projects, and eating every cookie that has the misfortune of crossing my path. Wherever you may go this holiday season, I hope you find happiness and make memories to last a lifetime. See you in a couple of weeks!

Getting Better With Age

Last April, when I set a goal for myself to run a 5k within a year’s time, I didn’t put a ton of thought into it. I’ve never been good at running, and it would be cool to be better at it. Sure, I was able to walk (and complain through, let us never forget how much I complain) a half marathon, but run it? Hell no. I was always the kid who came in last when the time came to run the dreaded mile in gym class, wheezing my way over the finish line and making Arnold Schwarzenegger weep into his pillow at night over my lack of physical fitness.

I’ve tried and failed before. This time was going to be different. I’d develop one of those easy, self-assured strides, not elicit a single snicker when I go out in public suited head to toe in technical fabric, and should I ever find myself in a Jurassic Park dinosaur escape type situation, I’d be able to do more than shamble a few steps before giving up and bellowing “Jesus, just eat me already, running is worse than death!” After all, I had all of the knowledge of what made me quit in the past, so I’d effectively be able to avoid those pitfalls this time around. First, I reasoned, it would be best to lose a good chunk of weight before I began seriously training, to reduce impact on my joints and avoid injuries. To that end, I’ve lost sixty pounds (and counting). When I’d lost a reasonable amount with still about six months left on the calendar, I started the couch to 5k program, the premise of which is that they can take you from sedentary to fit enough to run for thirty minutes straight in nine weeks.  Not outside, where there are both monster hills and soggy weather to contend with, but on a teensy elliptical machine. It’s not the same as actual running, certainly, but close enough for government work, and with the added bonus of less stress on my knees since I’m still preeeettty fat. Good enough to get my heart pounding, my legs working, to sweat buckets. I dutifully did the workouts three times a week, shifting them to avoid holidays that I knew the lazy golem inside of me would use as an excuse to not work out at all. I finished the nine week program in January, and I definitely found it challenging and made progress through those nine weeks, pushing each workout until my legs wobbled when I stopped. My 5k is scheduled for early March, so I felt it was imperative to get out there and run on actual ground, just so if there was any deficit from training on an elliptical instead of outside, I’d have time to train to make it up. So, naturally, it poured out for two weeks straight.

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On the only nice day in the immediate forecast, I slapped on my running clothes, took my headphones, and headed to Greenlake Park, a 2.8 mile loop that’s relatively flat. As I drove up, I began to psych myself out a little. Is that how long 2.8 miles is? That lake is huge, I don’t remember it being so large. But I firmly and resolutely told my inner worrier to shut the hell up, that I’d been training and going well beyond 2.8 miles in my practices at home, so this would be no problem. Cake. I began to believe it once I pressed play on my c25k podcast. The familiar cues told me to warm up for five minutes, and when the warmup was done, I was ready to go.  I started off great, taking measured, powerful strides. First song down. I’m doing this! I’m doing great!

…Then the second song started, and that’s when my lungs filled up with warm glue, my legs began to burn, and I was forced back into a walk, wheezing audibly. Really?! I’d run, what, half a mile before my body gave out? I felt sick and frustrated. Just how much had I been deluding myself about the progress I’d been making on the elliptical? I blinked back hot tears and choked back my shame barf, not wanting this run to be exactly like high school. Little old ladies ran past me while the podcast continued, congratulating me on running for ten minutes and telling me that I’m doing great. A wave of shame so great rushed over me that I momentarily contemplated drowning myself in the lake, but ultimately decided that even as an abject failure, I had more dignity than to suck a lungful of icy water filled with goose poop in front of a dude sleeping on a bench and a group of fit jogger moms whose strollers cost more than my last car.

At this point, it’s safe to say that there is no way I’ll be ready to run a 5k in five weeks, given my general crapitude and what seems to maybe be some undiagnosed exercise-induced asthma. I don’t even know if there’s a point to showing up if I’m just going to make an ass of myself and get shuffled off the course because I can’t make their pace, and accomplish nothing other than make my wet rattling breaths sound like I’m a member of the undead for days afterward.

Maybe running is one of those things I’m just always going to be naturally terrible at. I guess I’m never going to be one of those easy-breezy people trotting down a trail, sweat free and fabulous. What I can do is glare at them from my hate cave, sweating away on my elliptical. The good news is, should we ever find ourselves in a Jurassic Park dinosaur escape type situation, I’ll  go a long way toward filling up those rampaging dino bellies so you can escape. Think of my noble and lazy sacrifice.

What’s the point of having a Hyundai if you can’t show it off a little?

“You know, I used to think a car was just a way of getting from point A to point B, and on weekends, point C, but that was the old me. That man died the moment I laid eyes on the 1979 Honda Accord.”

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This is something that’s been in the works for a while. The Ford Taurus Assault Wagon had long ago gone to that big rubik’s cube of crushed cars in the sky, and while we’d been making do with one car, it was far from ideal, especially since the other car is approaching legal drinking age and has decided that a number of its functions are now optional, like air conditioning and the radio. Not really ideal on summer road trips, especially through desert areas, or really even on cross-town trips now that Seattle is getting the population of a major city without the supporting infrastructure. Sure, we get to advance the fields of scientific study involving human sweat, but sometimes the cost of science is just too high.

We’d done some test driving and tire kicking, and I had my heart fairly well set on the Hyundai Veloster since I first test drove it way back in August 2012. It’s a hatchback that doesn’t look too “sandals with socks” hatchback-y, it gets killer gas mileage, and it still has a functional backseat (unlike the also-ran Honda CR-Z). The only problem? I’m so damn cheap. The thought of buying a brand new car and having it lose significant value the second I drove it off the lot galled me deeply. But I also felt like one of the best selling points for Hyundais was their extended warranty, so buying a depreciated used one didn’t seem like a great value, either. Thus began my search for a “sorta used” Veloster. I believe I typed the word “Veloster” into Craigslist every week between August 2013 and June 2015, and most often, I turned up cars that were a year or two old with extraordinarily high mileage (we’re talking 80-100k miles) and not much cheaper than a brand new model would have been. I didn’t want to pay nearly full price for a car someone else had beaten to shit over a twelve month period and was now out of warranty, so I kept searching. I found a couple others that had low mileage and a relatively low price but had a salvage title–hell no.  Eventually, I found my white whale–a Veloster that was less than two years old (which qualified it for a better financing rate), with only 5,000 miles and was selling for significantly under blue book value. I was so suspicious of the seller, figuring that it had to be a scam. I ran carfax: clean. I called the title department: clean. I checked the guy’s driver’s license against the title: match. It was the situation that everyone hopes for when buying a used car–it was senior owned, and they rarely drove it because they spent most of the year out of state. SCORE.

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There are still a few things the car needs to be perfect (for me), like a phone mount so I can better use it as a GPS–right now, the cubby under the control panel is too big, and the cupholder places it too far back for glancing at the screen without taking my eyes off the road which is a huge no-no. I think I’ll also end up getting a couple of blind spot mirrors for extra visibility and safety’s sake because the blind spots in this car are sizable. But I’ve already made my first non-essential mod, a screensaver with the new name of the car, the Velosteraptor:

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If only I could figure out how to get it to make a raptor sound instead of the startup music, then I’d really be in business! It didn’t really feel like it was mine until I outfitted it with the best keychain ever, though:

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It’s been a total dream to drive, the interior is really roomy and the seats are comfortable even on long stretches. I’ve already put on a couple thousand miles on it, and I hope it serves me well for many, many, many more thousands.

How would you like it, if ten years from now, people were laughing at things you did?

Ten years ago today, I packed up my car with everything that would fit and moved into an apartment in Redmond, Washington sight unseen to live with with a friend I’d made at a community college in San Diego. The Northwest had been calling to me for a while: I’d been offered a sizable scholarship from the University of Puget Sound, a friend had suggested that the PNW might be a good fit for me, and another friend had already moved up and given me a standing job offer. Moving here seemed inevitable. What blows my mind is that if I had taken the scholarship from UPS, I would have never met a single one of the people I just mentioned. Possibly none of my friends. Probably not my husband. Change one thing and the entirety of the last ten years (actually, twelve, if I went to UPS immediately after returning from Taiwan) would have been different, even if the place was the same. I never would have gone to Drexel. I never would have quit Drexel. I never would have gone to Palomar. I never would have met my roommate and gotten my first job in the game industry. That same roommate took me to a party for Digipen students, where I made the friends through whom I eventually met Jason.

When I got here, things were touch and go at first. The friend who had offered me the job was transitioning out as I was transitioning in, and it looked like there wouldn’t be a job for me after all for a while. I was dating an abusive liar. I spent my last dollar and insisted that I be hired based on the promise that was made. And somehow things worked out for me: I got the job, I was able to cast off the asshole, I eventually got on my feet with the help of some friends.

Now I’m married. A homeowner. I have made some of the best friends of my life here: a chosen family. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful, and it is a good fit. Sometimes it’s gloomy, sometimes it’s snarky, sometimes it’s passive-aggressive…and so am I. It’s been good for me.  I was not the most open-minded, whole, adult person when I moved here, and through people’s patience and kindness, I’ve learned better, to be better. Obviously I could still learn a lesson or two about being less self-centered but that’s neither here nor there. I may not live here forever. There’s so much to see, and I want to see everything. But I wouldn’t give up the last ten years for anything.

In richness and in poorness (poorness is underlined)

One year ago today, Jason and I got tired of shacking up and made it legal with a crazy dance party and the best people in the world. I had friends fly across the country to be there…even one of the friends I met in Taiwan from Australia happened to be in the area that weekend and was able to attend. At the time the party happened, I was so freaking stressed out over every last detail that I lost track of the big picture…but now when I look at photos or listen to our jammin’ playlist, I feel nothing but grateful to everyone who helped me celebrate an important life event and so very incredibly lucky to have so many special people in my life. The last year went by so fast, and it was all the better for having a committed partner by my side who is down for any adventure I want to undertake. Married life is awesome. It makes me want to live forever.

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newspaper All above photos ©Brilliant Imagery Photography (Hire her, she’s great!)

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Bonus bridal shower picture because it was so damn pretty and girly.

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Ladybug Ladybug Fly Away Home

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The garden store near our house advertised that they had ladybugs for sale on their roadside sign, and I practically squealed the tires of our old Saturn in my rush to acquire some for our garden. They package them some 1800 per bag, and once released, they’ll happily set up shop in our backyard and munch aphids and other pests so we can reduce/eliminate the pesticides we’d otherwise use AND reduce the number of times I shout “GET OFFA MY CROPS” and scare the everliving daylights out of the neighbors. The only downside is that so many were crawling on my arms and legs and even in my hair that hours later I’m imagining every little tickle is an insect crawling on me. How long until I start slapping myself due to imaginary infestation? Place your bets!

What’s older: older than the hills or old as shit?

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It’s my birthday! Now that I’m old and boring and can’t seem to put a party together to save my life, let’s look back at some of the better birthday parties I’ve had:

Mellzah’s Midnight Carnival

Redneck Fabulous

Buffetitties/Boobieffet

Mad Scientists of the Future

I just now realized there was never a post about Sparkle Party, my 30th, where we did it up in Vegas, and apparently there never will be because I’ve somehow misplaced the photos. Rest assured, everyone was eye-searingly sparkilicious.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go shake a cane and yell at teenagers and I am not even joking.

No talking like a grizzled 1890s prospector…consarn it!

In Oregon, there is a mine where the general public can prospect for the state’s official gemstone, the Oregon Sunstone. Although a number of stones from other places are called sunstones, Oregon claims it is the only proven location where you can find red labradorite, a plagioclase feldspar. These stones have an optical effect when turned due to reflections of the red copper inclusions inside.

Although we haven’t been able to make it down to Spectrum Mine ourselves for free (or fee, in the more ore-rich areas) digging, we were able to order a bucket of ore to the house and play prospector in the backyard.

To separate the sunstones from the crap, we used a grocery basket that we temporarily liberated from (and later returned to) a nearby Fred Meyer. We used the highly scientific method of pouring a bunch of ore in the basket, wetting it, swishing it around, and picking through it for bits that glimmered in the sun, alternating between who did the wetting/swishing and who did the picking since we only had one basket.

 

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We actually got a surprising amount of sunstones in our bucket of ore, the photo below shows only a small handful of the stones we found. We haven’t really done anything with them yet, they’re just sitting in a bowl in the gallery o’ minerals in our living room, but eventually we’re going to try and rock tumble a few of them to see how pretty they are when polished. If it’s awesomely pretty, we may end up making a trip to Spectrum Mines ourselves to dig out more. Thanks in advance for the baskets, Fred Meyer.

 

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I’m the king of ding-a-lings.

When I was a kid, you could have asked me what I wanted for Christmas at any time during the year and I would have been able to provide you with an exacting list with annotations and illustrations, along with more information than you ever cared to know about why this new My Little Pony was superior in every way to the bin of My Little Ponies already in my closet: “This one changes color in the sun and smells like strawberries, duh!” I was ALWAYS ready to tell anyone at any time what would have made me happiest in the moment, even if the desire was impractical or fleeting. (Seriously, a unicycle? I was barely able to master two wheels and I wanted to cut that number in half?). As an adult, I dread the question.

It’s not that I don’t want things; if anything else, moving house recently taught me that I maybe like things a little too much. But I’ll generally buy the things I really want/need for myself unless they’re wildly expensive/impractical, which means I certainly couldn’t ask others for them. This doesn’t make buying a gift for me a Herculean task, however–I have a wide variety of interests, I’m thrilled by the unexpected and ridiculous, and, like I said before, I like stuff. I just don’t want to give an exacting list of things that I might like to anyone: for me, the biggest component of a gift is being seen by the giver, knowing that they put some thought and effort into choosing something just for me. Anyone can buy off of a list.

Lately, if I see something that I might like or need at some point down the line, I’ve been adding it to my amazon wishlist. Sometimes I’ll revisit the list and order something, most often I revisit the list, say “What was I thinking?” and delete ten things.  It’s full of “miracle” hair products, stuff that I might need for future costumes, and various doodads that I’ll read about and want to consider trying later.

This year, I finished with Jason’s Christmas shopping early–almost before Thanksgiving. Jason, in turn, noted that he needed to get cracking, and a few days later, a bunch of packages arrived from Amazon. “I hope he hasn’t been buying stuff from my wishlist” I thought. A few days later, a package from  Alpha Chemicals arrived that left no doubt in my mind: Jason was buying all of my Christmas presents from the aforementioned “I’m not sure I actually want, need, or could ever use this” list.

I had two choices: Say something and ruin Christmas, or say nothing and ruin Christmas. As I work from home and don’t get a lot of human interaction during the day, not talking about it proved to be too difficult, so I went ahead and ruined Christmas the bigmouth way. After a solid argument about why I was being intentionally difficult in not giving a list, and misleading in that I maintained a list full of things I didn’t actually want, we came to a mutual understanding about why surprises are important to me and what makes Christmas fun.

Last night, Jason went to wrap some gifts and came upstairs with an ornament of King Moonracer and told me he was going to make a diorama of “the island of unwanted christmas gifts” but thought it might be too mean. I probably deserve it, so I decided to run with it.

 

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We’re on the island of misfit gifts

Here, we don’t want to stay

We want to travel with Santa Claus

In his magic sleigh

A packful of toys means a sackful of joys

If the Christmas spirit Mellzah didn’t destroy

When Christmas Day is here

The most wonderful day of the year!

A bottle of emu oil is here to say

“Wake up, I’ll help make your stretch marks go away!”

When Christmas Day is here

The most wonderful day of the year!

Spiral vegetable cutter

Might as well be in the gutter

It won’t set the heart aflutter

It just says “Hey, make me some dinner!”

A new toy for Jason, toothpaste for you

The kind that even does some whitening, too.

When Christmas Day is here

The most wonderful day of the year.

“How would you like to be two pounds of aluminum powder?”

“Or a TCA chemical peel that may or may not remove tattoos?”

“Or faux rust finish?”

“We’re all misfits!”

If we’re on the island of unwanted gifts

We’ll miss all the fun when Mellzah throws a fit

When Christmas day is here

The most wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful day of the year!