Tag Archives: epic win

Slaying the Clutter Dragon: The First Sword Charge

Hello, my name is Robin, and I’m a pack rat.

I really didn’t intend to let it get this bad, but here it is. This is the first of my set of “catchall” bins, situated right at the door of my room to catch my purse, library books, Sunday school texts, and anything else that kept getting lost in the black hole of my room.

It started out as a place of organization, about a year ago. You can see what’s happened since then…it’s lived up completely to its “catchall” nickname.

I REALLY don’t like this habit of mine, but it happens every time. First, I get a clean, flat surface available in my house, and I enjoy its cleanliness for a few days. Then I start thinking “COOL, I have a place to put [insert random object here]; I’ll just set it here till I have a permanent place for it.” Repeat this process about 1,000 times, and soon my “clean flat surface” is a “junky flat surface” again, often overflowing its junk into the floor at random intervals.

And when I say that every clean flat surface in my room is covered with junk, I mean that…

every single…

flat surface…

in my room…

is covered…

with JUNK.

And yet, it’s seemingly all “necessary junk.” I can’t really get rid of it, even when I search through it, because when I do check through this junk, it’s all stuff I need access to, or need to categorize, otherwise I’ll forget about having it in the first place.

Wait, How Can You “Forget” About Your Stuff?

When I put things away, I tend to forget about them. Out of sight, out of mind, LITERALLY.

This is one reason I can’t put library books anywhere but RIGHT at the door, easily visible from my bed, because if I put them somewhere else, they’ll never be returned, or even read. Items have to be staring me right in the face if I’m going to think about them (and even then, sometimes I still walk out of the house without that library book I’ve been meaning to return for a week).

The Intent of the Catchall Bins

Because I apparently can’t put things away without forgetting that I even have them, I got this set of open catchall bins. I will say it’s done its job fairly well, keeping my Sunday school books and Bible from being stomped on or lost, keeping me from forgetting about library books, and keeping my purse out of trouble on the floor. It just…well, it just looks like the rest of my room now–overflowing with junk.

The Solution: Clean Out, Categorize, Replace

So, this past Friday, I finally tackled these messy bins, marking the first “sword charge” in my battle against the Clutter Dragon, who had claimed my room for its domain.

The first thing I had to do was to take everything out of the bins so I could sort it all. (I also had to dust out all the bins, especially the bottom one…for being so crammed full of junk, it sure got dusty!)

The following picture shows the result of cleaning out the bins:

My full-size bed is almost completely covered with the junk from these four small bins. :/ I hadn’t realized, until this moment, just HOW much stuff was hiding in open storage. Yes, yes, I know, my “Severe Pack Rat” certification is in the mail as we speak. xD

It’s a terrible jumble of old bank statements, church bulletins, Sunday school textbooks, random books, magazines, and DVDs, even past Christmas gifts (the two red boxes in particular). But most maddening out of all this junk was the paper clutter, the stuff I have to read through to see if I still need to keep it. Paper clutter is probably THE reason I live such a cluttered life–it just takes so much TIME to read and sort through all of it, and it just makes me tired to look at it.

Anyhoo, once the bins were emptied…

(proof that they WERE empty at one time, lol)

…then I had to begin the unenviable task of sorting and throwing away–i.e., the most difficult part of organization and cleaning.

I put back the necessary stuff onto the bins, all the stuff I knew I was keeping there; my purse, Kindle, Bible, current magazines, and gym gear, mainly. Then, I just had this remaining stuff left:

Most of this was old Sunday school texts, random old magazines, a DVD or CD here and there, Christmas gifts, and, of course, paper clutter. I sorted through all the paper trash next, mainly because I was getting mighty sick of looking at it. (Sad to say, some of the paper clutter got shifted to yet another flat surface because I need a shredder before I can throw it out. SIGH.)

But, once that was done, I was left with two piles: old Sunday school texts, and past Christmas gifts.

A Side Quest: Creating a Display Shelf

The old Sunday school stuff already had a future home: back at the church, where it belonged. But the Christmas gifts? I devised a whole new plan on the spot to deal with those.

See, the Christmas gifts were all little statues and figurines my boyfriend has bought me over the last couple of years, and because of the lack of clean flat surfaces in my room, I’ve never even unboxed them; there was no point in doing so. But as I glanced across the room, to the desk which has stood there since I was a little girl, I caught sight of the shelf just above the desk surface, and had an “A-HA!!!” moment.

Cleaning off the shelf of girlhood detritus (a couple of small dollhouses) was the work of about 10 minutes; I was left with this blank, clean canvas. Thus, I unboxed the three figurines at last, and added to that total another figurine I’d been wanting to display as well.

Here’s the result: my new display shelf!

From left: Belle looking at the Enchanted Rose under the glass; Belle and the Beast dancing (from the iconic scene in Beauty and the Beast); Dove II (Dawn Granger), still in the toy packaging. (I’m going to get a stand for the Dove figure at some point, but I didn’t have one handy for this shot.) Pardon this shot’s slight blurriness–it’s very hard to get pictures in a room as cluttered as mine!

Sadly, the biggest statue my boyfriend had gotten me was just a wee bit too tall for the shelf, so I had to put it on the desk below.

She’ll get her rightful place on a display shelf someday, I swear it! 😀

The Result of the First Epic Cleaning Quest

Here’s the result of my hard work:

This is the top bin, which stores my purse, Kindle, CDs, and anything else that usually leaves the house with me. (My ankle braces are hung on either side to remind me to wear them as much as possible.)

The books/magazines bin, second from the top, which contains all that I’m currently reading and working on. Great for keeping library books safe, too!

The third bin holds only my Bible at the moment, but will soon hold my current Sunday School textbook for the new quarter–again, to keep it safe from the floor and my clumsy self.

…And I don’t have a picture of the bottom bin because it kept showing up very dark and blurry. Lighting in my room is terrible for pictures. But all that’s in there are my gym shoes anyway. LOL! That is a triumph in itself–now I no longer have to hunt through the piles of crap in my room every week to find my shoes!

I am immensely proud of this first effort, even if it doesn’t look like much. It’s the first time I’ve been able to DO anything with this room in months, and admittedly it was very difficult to get started. But now that I AM started, now that I have charged in and stabbed at the clutter dragon…I find myself eager to continue, before it gets the better of me again.

Next Epic Cleaning Quest: The Dresser Beside the Bins

Next week, I’ll be tackling the top of the overflowing plastic dresser unit near the door. I’m not even worried about what’s IN the dresser; it’s what’s on TOP of the dresser that’s bugging me. Tune in next Tuesday for the next installment of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon!”

Repurposed: Old Shoulder Strap on New Purse

I’m something of a purse aficionado (I write this whilst staring at a mound of empty purses from childhood in my closet…LOL). But, in recent years, I’ve stopped buying tons of different purses, and instead turned my attention toward getting one quality purse that goes with everything.

Up until a few days ago, I was carrying this one, discovered at a TJ Maxx store:

I found it to be a great, perfectly-sized little purse–when it stayed closed. Unfortunately, it had a nasty habit of popping open by itself, at all the most inconvenient times (during rain, while just walking down the street, etc.). The clasp on it was never meant to hold fast against all that I’d stuffed into it, and I had found no way to edit down what I was carrying. So I knew I probably needed to invest in another one that closed more tightly, at some point.

But I’ve always been very picky about purses, and I had liked this purse because it had such a long shoulder strap. I prefer to carry my purses with a long shoulder strap across my body, so I don’t have to hunch my shoulder up to carry it (and so potential thieves can’t take it easily). I knew what I was looking for when I eventually went shopping for a new purse, but I dreaded the process.

When I finally did decide to go hunting for a new purse, though, it didn’t take long before this one caught my eye. It was black leather, simple zip-top style, had tons of room in it, and was on sale. SOLD! 😀 😀 😀

I purchased it and got home with it…and then realized something. There was no long wraparound shoulder strap with this new one, only a short over-the-shoulder strap. I would not be able to carry it as I had been accustomed to doing. 🙁

I realized this as I was just in the middle of transferring all my stuff from the old purse to the new. After a few moments of self-ridicule, I thought, “Well, poot, I’m gonna have to go right back and return this thing!” But just as I was thinking that, my eye fell on the long shoulder strap of the old purse. Specifically, I caught sight of how the long shoulder strap was attached to the old purse.

That’s right; the shoulder strap could be unclasped from the old purse entirely. And since the old purse was black leather, the same as the new, I just unclipped the strap from the old purse, and clipped it onto the strap buckles on the new purse.

I’d really need to model this for you to show how well this works, but since I don’t have anybody to help take pics, this will have to do. I know it looks like a mess of straps, but this actually works a whole lot better–I can carry more without worrying that my purse will pop open unexpectedly, and yet I can still carry it looped cross-body stye for safety and security. This has made life much easier already! And the leather of the old purse’s strap blends in beautifully with the leather on the new purse; it doesn’t look like an add-on, but looks like it was always meant to be there. WOOT!

Just goes to show you: if you buy something that turns out to be not quite what you expected, or doesn’t quite suit your needs, look around your house before returning it. You might find a way to make your purchase work, just with a little repurposing!

The Lost Song (A True Story)

In January of 2011, I had written a wistful, prayerful contemporary Christian song, titled “Adrift,” and performed it for my church. They enjoyed it, and I loved singing it because it was a way to worship. Once I had performed the song, however, I moved on to composing newer songs and working on other projects. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would perform the song as it existed then.

Sickness, Difficulties, and Losses

A few months later, I began to fall ill repeatedly, suffering strange new headaches that lasted up to 3 days and were not treatable with any medicines. My will to create, my will to write and sing and play, were thus taken from me, since I sometimes suffered up to 10 headaches a month like this. Soon, weeks went by in which I was never without burning, crushing head pain, whether I was sleeping or awake.

It felt, as spring blossomed into summer and summer faded into fall, that I was living 25% of my life. I went to bed feeling like I had been run over by an 18-wheeler, and woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a school bus. And the constant pain, which got worse if I tried to sleep it off and never truly went away, about drove me nuts. During this time, I also lost the use of my laptop for a little while (due to someone else’s carelessness), and that added stress didn’t help my health much. My mental creativity stunted, my physical energy sapped, and my creativity-producing machine gone–it felt as if I were getting slapped around by life.

Finally, during a routine visit to the dentist in October 2011, we discovered that my wisdom teeth were severely infected and had to be removed. The subsequent oral surgery in early November not only pulled the sources of infection from my jaw, but also seemingly got rid of those burning, never-ending headaches. At last, I could live my life again! I thought everything would be back to normal concerning my creativity, so I could get back to doing what I loved–writing and polishing my prose, poetry, and music.

Not so, as I found out. A mere month after my surgery, my poor injured laptop’s hard drive died, and the data on it was completely irrecoverable. All the work I had done since June 2010 was lost–including the lovely song I had written and performed almost a year previous. All I could remember, because of my grave illness and all the stress, was the title. No lyrics, no melody…no nothing. I mourned it along with the rest of my lost works, knowing that with my forgetfulness, I would likely never remember it.

A Little Scrap of Unexpected Song

I was horribly sad over this, but at least I could comfort myself with a large fraction of my work, which I could still build off of. Slowly, I began to amass more works, though they were nothing like what I had lost, I knew that.

In the middle of all this personal, creative rebuilding, my boyfriend and I had gone to the movies to watch The Avengers when it came out, and I was reminded of how much I had liked some of the other Marvel movies that had come out before, especially Thor, which had come out in March 2011, during the first stages of my terrible headache/wisdom tooth infection.

I ended up borrowing the movie from my boyfriend’s family, then buying a copy of my own, since it had quickly become a favorite of mine. (And, as is my wont when I really enjoy a film, I had already watched it several times back-to-back-to-back. xD)

But it was during one of my many repeat plays, as I watched the scene in Thor where Loki discovers he is not truly Odin’s son, that a little scrap of song started playing in my head. Occasionally this happens to me, where a character or a mood will inspire a new song within my head–it’s a great way to get new ideas. And, since I had composed very little during my illness, I was understandably stoked.

“COOL, I finally got an idea for a new song,” I thought, watching the evocative, sad scene play out as the plaintive, new little melody curled around my brain cells. The melody ached, expressing such wistful sorrow that it nearly brought me to tears. And then…something in the tune jarred memory awake. “Waitaminnit…” I thought, analyzing the short little melody. “That tune–oh, my God, that’s ‘Adrift!’ That’s my lost song!!”

Rebuilding The Lost Song

You never saw a chick pause a movie and run down the stairs to get to her piano keyboard so fast. In minutes, it felt like, I had reconstructed not only the chorus melody, which was the first bit I had remembered, but I had also gotten back the melodies for the verses and the bridge. Not only that, but some lyrics were coming back, too, albeit slowly and in pieces.

A couple of frenzied rebuilding hours passed, and I was able to get back 90% of the original song, with new lyrics put into the places I simply could not remember. I was overwhelmed with the creative urge–after all, my lost song had come back after I had feared I would never, ever remember it all.

Though I am still a little sad for the bits of lyrics I can’t remember, the new lyrics seem to fit even better than the old ones, at least in my estimation. This gives me hope that perhaps all of my lost works, all the little stories, poems, and beginnings of songs, might one day come back better than ever, too, after being cast “adrift” in the void of memory.

It’s Almost 900! (A Tale of Epic Life-Gain)

It all started with me, my boyfriend, and two Magic decks we had never played against each other–his Zombie Clerics (known as “Priests of Pain and Drain”) against my Sanguine Bond & Boon Reflection (affectionately nicknamed “Sanguine Boon”) deck.

Priests of Pain and Drain decklist @ EssentialMagic.com

Sanguine Boon decklist @ EssentialMagic.com

The Opposing Strategies

My boyfriend’s Zombie Cleric deck’s strategy is actually pretty simple, revolving around a four-card combo: Cabal Archon, Rotlung Reanimator, Conspiracy, and any random Cleric to begin the fun. Use Cabal Archon to sacrifice Clerics to gain 2 life and make the opponent lose 2 life (this is called a “life swap”). Now, thanks to the Reanimator, the Clerics you sack through the Archon give you Zombie tokens, which then become Clerics themselves with the use of Conspiracy set to Clerics. Repeat cycle as long as you have mana to do it.

My Sanguine Boon deck is also pretty simple: gain enough life to be able to stall till I get Sanguine Bond (and, if I’m lucky, Boon Reflection). Then, play more super-cheap life-gain spells/abilities, causing major life loss through Sanguine Bond and the ability to draw more life-gain spells using Well of Lost Dreams. (I’ve spoken about this strategy before, but not in this larger context.)

How These Strategies Faced Off

My boyfriend’s strategy would have probably succeeded against mine in the early stages of the game, if I had not played an Isochron Scepter with Rest for the Weary imprinted on it. Ever after, every time I played a land, I would be gaining 8 life instead of just 4, and I could gain at least 4 life every turn. But, because I don’t play much offense in my deck, he was able to amass his combo fairly soon after I had played the Scepter-Rest combo, and so he was able to start draining me of my newly-gained life points.

Stalling Like Mad vs. Life Drain Like Mad

Fast-forward to about turn 25 or 30, and both of our decks were running at near-top capacity. I now had two Boon Reflections out, gaining 16 a turn off Rest for the Weary if I hadn’t played a land and 32 a turn if I had played a land. But my boyfriend was able to drain at least 16-20 life off me per turn with the Cabal Archon “sack-a-Cleric” combo. With all the early-game life gain I had done, he was not able to defeat me entirely, but was able to make my life total yo-yo all over the place. We were both fighting for purchase; he was trying to keep my life total under control, and I was trying to survive until I could get that darned Sanguine Bond, which still hadn’t shown up yet.

Game-Changer: Well of Lost Dreams for 7 Cards

The almost literal stalemate continued for the next few turns. At last, I pulled Well of Lost Dreams; I played it, used Ghost-Lit Redeemer’s ability to gain 8 life, and paid 7 mana to draw 7 cards, since I had been top-decking for most of the game. The long-awaited Sanguine Bond was the first card I drew, and Demonic Tutor was the last, promising a second Sanguine Bond in hand if I could last that long. My life total was now up around 400-500, with my boyfriend’s life total just a little higher. I thought I could make it. 😉

Sanguine Bond (x2) for the Win!

Once the first Sanguine Bond was played, I sacked the two Sunspring Expeditions I’d had ready and waiting on the table for most of the game, which created a 32-point life-swap thanks to the double Boon Reflections. That, plus my usual Scepter-Rest combo and a Ghost-Light Redeemer or two gaining me more life, drained him of over 150 life in one turn. Then…well, I managed to retrieve the other Sanguine Bond; though I wasn’t able to play it that turn, I knew next turn would become even stronger, as I gained quadruple life and made him lose quadruple life, twice.

A couple of turns after I played the second Sanguine Bond, it was over, 2 hours after we had started. My ending life total was 894–and that was with my boyfriend draining off 32 every turn for close to 20 turns. :O How high would it have gone if he hadn’t been keeping it down somewhat? The world may never know.

So, using my Sanguine Boon deck, I finally beat my boyfriend’s Zombie Cleric deck…and it only took 2 hours of free time. Ahh, extreme-long-game Magic at its best. 😀

A Butterfly Landing on My Car

It was just after 2:00 pm, which meant that the interior of my car was more like the surface of the sun as I sat in traffic, waiting for one of Shelby’s many stoplights to deign to let me pass. But this particular stoplight seemingly had a grudge against me today. Literal minutes were ticking by, it was hot as all get out, and I had somewhere to be. The discontented stream of grumbling in my head was quickly building to a fever pitch.

And then, I saw it: a butterfly, its wings patterned in brilliant blue and silky black, flitting among the cars gathered at the stoplight. It hovered and darted among hoods and roofs shimmering like metal carapaces, flying as if it were searching for something to light on. After a few more seconds, it came closer, and finally lit on my windshield, right in my line of sight.

I expected it to take off again right away, but instead, it was almost preternaturally still, except for its little antennae waving about as if trying to get my attention. How delicate its wings were, fragile and almost translucent…I studied it for a moment or two more, wondering how it was staying so still, and why.

The light up ahead finally turned green at last, but it seemed the butterfly knew to lift off the windshield even before I lifted my foot from the brake; I watched it hover just above the glass, as if it was trying to keep my attention. All too soon, though, I had to advance forward, leaving the butterfly behind, hopefully avoiding the tide of traffic behind me.

Driving on through the intersection, blessedly moving at last, I wasn’t quite so grumbly anymore. The butterfly’s moments of stillness, as it balanced daintily on the windshield, had reminded me that sometimes it was okay to be still, when moving too fast could endanger you. Maybe I didn’t need to worry about rushing ahead to make up time; maybe I would be better off not to drive as if the gas pedal were an enemy to stomp into the ground.

Now, I know that butterflies in the late spring are not uncommon, certainly, but allowing myself to be still a moment and ponder such a tiny, delicate creature was uncommon for me. I’m not known for being still, or quiet, or content…and yet, in those very few moments, I was perfectly content being all of those things, merely looking at a butterfly. How much calmer would I be, if I allowed myself more of those moments? …Come to think of it, how much calmer would we all be?

I like to think that sometimes God uses the littlest of creatures to remind us of huge essential truths, like the importance of just being still. What do you think?

The More Outlandish the Idea, the Better

Ever come up with an idea that was just so silly you couldn’t take it seriously?

Or what about a concept that completely disregards all the rules?

In reality, these crazy, far-flung ideas may be the key to thinking more creatively. You just can’t allow yourself to dismiss them before they help.

Why “Outlandish” Ideas Actually Aren’t

When we’re trying to do anything, whether it’s solving a problem or coming up with a new idea, we sometimes lock our mental processes within certain boundaries, sometimes without realizing it. We follow the rules society has laid down for righting this particular problem, or we cling tightly to the types of ideas that have been successful in the past.

Now, I’m not saying throw aside all rules, regulations, and useful advice. It’s good to remember what’s been successful, and it’s good to remember what society generally likes. But it’s definitely not good to keep ourselves locked within rules when we’re trying to come up with something very new and different. “Thinking outside the box,” an innovative phrase repeated so often that it’s become cliche, really means setting yourself free from what you think you “ought” to come up with, and allowing the creative process to come more naturally and freely.

Examples of Outlandish Creative Ideas

For instance, Mary Shelley’s vision of a monster cobbled together from various body parts might have seemed outlandish, but it certainly laid the foundation for a genuinely spooky and sad tale–Frankenstein. And Edgar Rice Burroughs’ concept of how a man could live on Mars erupted into series of books, which laid the groundwork for the science fiction literary genre for over half a century, even up to the present day. (Burroughs is the author behind the book which the “John Carter” movie comes from.)

Other so-called “crazy” ideas are now commonplace to us. The automobile itself was considered more a novelty than a necessity, even when it first rolled off the production line. And when I read one of my cousins’ textbooks from the ’70s talking about corded phones which showed the face of the person you were talking to, no one ever dreamed it could really be possible–the cordless, wireless iPhone and its FaceTime were still nearly 40 years in the future.

Getting Hold of Your Own “Crazy” Ideas

So, how do you come up with your own wacky creative ideas that just might take off?

Make a promise to yourself that you will pursue and develop every idea that pops into your head, without laughing it away or dismissing it out of hand.

Start brainstorming, about whatever you need a creative idea for.

For instance, do you need an idea for a story’s villain? Start thinking about actions, voice types, facial expressions, clothing, and dialogue that you personally associate with being villainous, and expand on that. This will inevitably lead to developing a backstory or a “reason for being evil”–run with it. Trust me, you will like where it ends up if you let your mind wander. (I did this very process with my own novel’s villain, who didn’t exist until one of my very earliest readers pointed out that I didn’t have a real villain in my book yet.)

Document how your idea grows and changes. Sounds weird, but if you keep track of your original idea and the subsequent changes you’ve made to it, you’ll be better able to fall back on earlier changes if you need to. Plus, even if one little detail of an idea doesn’t work in one context, you could easily use it somewhere else. It’s good to hoard your ideas!

Don’t discount your dreams. If you find yourself dreaming about your idea (which often happens, if you’ve been concentrating on it a lot!), write down what you dreamed about as soon as you get up. Your sleeping mind might just come up with the solution to the last troubling little detail. (Don’t laugh, it’s happened to me before–I dreamed about taking a final exam, and one of the “questions” was actually an answer to the thing I couldn’t figure out before I went to bed. WIN)

If someone else thinks your idea is “weird”, let them think that. Until your idea is fully fleshed out, it might sound a little far-fetched to others, and that, contrary to popular belief, is OKAY. Don’t let anyone’s disapproval get in the way until you have sorted the idea out for yourself. If they have constructive criticism, like my friend’s suggestion that my book needed a stronger villain, that’s awesome; if they just brush your idea aside, then they’re proving they don’t need to be part of your creative process.

If this idea doesn’t work, take it apart and try again. The idea you come up with might or might not work. If it doesn’t, take the non-working bits out and refashion them, as many times as you need to. Ideas are not like laptop computers, whose parts seem specifically made to work with only a scant few other brands of components. Ideas are endlessly flexible and reparable, and best of all, you need only one tool–your brain!

The Random Language I Speak

Made-up words seem to run in our family. From my grandfather’s description of a car accident as “kaloom-bam-boom” to my parents’ word for the bits of sock fabric that always get left on the carpet (“sock doobies”), I guess I get the “creative words” gene honest. English is more fun when you can invent words, I believe. 🙂

Nevertheless, it always surprises people when one of my made-up words pops out of my mouth during a conversation. And I’m usually embarrassed by it at first–somehow, I fear I’ll get sent to the loony bin for some of the random stuff I come up with! But we always end up laughing about it.

Therefore, I will be brave and share some of the random language I speak, so that you, too, may LOL. 🙂

Made-Up Words and Family Slang

From My Dad’s Side

  • “kaloom-bam-boom” – a huge accident or fail of some sort (doesn’t have to be car-related).
  • “scooter-pootin'” – moving around continuously
  • “buke” (“bu” pronounced like “boo”) – to have an accidental bowel movement
  • “buuck” (not a typo) – to gag, especially over nasty-tasting food
  • “lamm” – to strike repeatedly and forcefully. “He’s just lammin’ that nail, ain’t he?”
  • “Big Ike” – overconfident person
  • “floof” – to suddenly fall flat on someone or on an object
  • “sherp” – to knock one’s feet out from under him (imitating the sound of such an action)
  • “sugarpoot”/”sugars**t” – an affectionate pet name for a child (why? I have no idea)
  • “asslin’ around” – wasting time, procrastinating (very descriptive 😛 )
  • “rhino”/”rhinoceros” – a big butt (like mine, lols)
  • “june around” – try to get a lot of things done as quick as possible
  • “tooters” – feet
  • “blomp” – to walk with slow and heavy steps
  • “braish broom” – yard-cleaning broom made of twigs, also used for the occasional whooping
  • “mazoozalum” – Grandma Daisy’s pronunciation of “mausoleum”
  • “klunk-plink-plink” – Nannie’s opinion of some pianists’ choppy playing styles
  • “pipe-stem legs” – very thin legs

From My Immediate Family

  • “moosh” – to kill or maim an insect; to massage.
  • “goopie” – a tiny, gross object, usually on the floor (bit of chewed food, unidentifiable sticky stuff, etc.)
  • “nidgy” – itty-bitty raveled thread (pill) on clothing
  • “fuzzbunny” – small ball of lint, usually ends up everywhere

My Own Made-Up Words from Childhood

  • “wootburgers” – strictly better than just a side of wootsauce.
  • “cubbyhouse” – a kid-size plastic or wood playhouse.
  • “giggling” – my kidlike pronunciation of “wiggling”, for whatever reason
  • “steamin’ alligator” – somebody who’s doing stuff just to tick me off
  • “beat-buttin'” – a particularly harsh (and usually deserved) whoopin’


Since my great-uncle Jim was deaf and read lips, he often tried to speak the words he read others saying; he also made unintentionally hilarious commentary on how others spoke, as well.

  • “lotha” – translation of “nothing.” But “lotha” became synonymous with even less than nothing in our family. If you have nothing, you have zero, but if you have “lotha,” you don’t even have zero, if that makes any sense. LOL
  • “blellup” – believed to mean something like “hogwash”. Might have been Jim’s translation for “bulls**t”, but we’re not sure.
  • “jhi-jhi-jhi-jhi-jhu!” – only said to a baby, in “baby talk” voice. Like “goochy-goochy-goo.”
  • “rihbun” – pronunciation of my name.
  • “Jhalopy” – pronunciation of the city name “Shelby.”
  • “Gaffaley” – pronunciation of the city name “Gaffney.”
  • “Boola Sha-prings” – pronunciation of the town name “Boiling Springs.”
  • “mih-mih-mih!” – (said very quickly) brusque or angry talking.
  • “bipbipbipbipbip” – fast talking, a cigarette bobbing up and down in between someone’s lips as they talk, or never-ending talking.
  • “Bih…bih…bih!” – slow and deliberate talking (usually describing Grandma Daisy with a lip full of snuff)

Does Your Family Have Any Funny Made-Up Language?

We can’t be the only ones! LOL! If this post reminds you of some of the funny language in your own family, tell me about it in the comments.

Funny and AWESOME Dreams

Since I did a post a few weeks ago about a few horrible nightmares I’ve had, I thought it only right to balance it with the following post about some of the funniest or most wonderful dreams I’ve had.

Indeed, my brain does bless me with some vivid happier or funnier dreams on occasion, which are (thankfully) just as memorable (and just as emotional) as some of my nightmares have been. For example:

Suddenly, I’m a Judo Master

One night very recently, I dreamed that I was out on the town one evening with my boyfriend’s mother and a good friend of mine from high school, who had her new baby son with her. As we were walking back to our cars from the restaurant we had just left, three guys jumped out from an alleyway and tried to mug us.

We were all ready to give them all the money we had, until one of the muggers swiped at my friend’s son, trying to tear him from her arms. Then all heck broke loose, and the three of us started kicking butt. My boyfriend’s mom was swinging this giant purple pocketbook around hitting the guys upside their heads, and my friend was protecting her son in one arm and punching each of them in the gut super-fast with the other arm. And I was throwing the muggers around, knocking ’em into each other and into walls and stuff (kinda judo-ish, but not really).

After a few minutes of us whooping up on them, the guys ran off without our money, cussing and limping. The three of us high-fived, and I woke up. XD

…And Apparently I’m a Dance Teacher, Too

A few years ago I had a dream about being abducted by aliens. It was the whole typical setup–weird noise outside my house, I go out to see what it is, and I get yanked up into this very very bright light. But when I arrived in the spaceship, the aliens (looking just like the ones in the movies, little skinny greenish-white beings with big black eyes) didn’t know what to do with me. They just stood around and tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t understand them.

I’m not sure how or why this happened, but I started teaching them how to do the Funky Chicken. (They were hopeless students, by the way, all flailing arms and legs and no rhythm. Worse than Elaine off Seinfeld. LOL) And after we had finally successfully danced for a while, they let me go, and I woke up.

…Yeah, I have NO idea. But it did give me a good laugh upon waking! 😛

Getting Interviewed for Books I Ain’t Written Yet

A few months back, I dreamed I was on a talk show that seemed like a combination of Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, and North Carolina Bookwatch–it was definitely a public-television talk show, but I didn’t recognize the well-dressed older man that was the host, nor did I recognize the name of the show (which I promptly forgot after I woke up).

The host asked me about my novel SERIES (mind, my first novel isn’t even complete yet as of right now), and he asked me to answer critics’ comments about some of the harder truths I had depicted in my novels. I spoke from a literary-critic point of view myself, and talked about trying to capture some of what had gone on in real-world historical events within my fictional world.

After I had finished answering the questions, the host said he was really pleased with how I was willing to dissect my own books, and that he appreciated writers who took time to research to make a good book. Afterward, I went to a random book-signing outside the studio, and there were TONS of fans there–some were even dressed up like my main character! :O I woke up right in the middle of the book-signing, and for a few minutes I was thinking I had to get to another interview. LOL

The Random Rock Concert In the Middle of a Choral Concert

I dreamed a few nights ago about singing with my local Choral Society group. In the middle of the applause from the formal, sacred music we had just finished singing, our fairly straightlaced choral director turned around where he stood at the podium, as if to acknowledge the audience. But instead, he suddenly broke into the chorus of “Come On Feel The Noize” by Quiet Riot, headbanging and fist-pumping like the best 80’s hair band singer.

We, the choir, stood there kinda shocked for a few seconds, and then we randomly joined in singing with him. The audience went absolutely NUTS, jumping out of their seats, screaming and cheering, and forming a mosh pit below the sedately decorated stage. To add to the mood, somebody in the sound and light booth turned down the stage lights and turned on these lights that threw sparkling multicolored dashes of light all around the walls. And once we got done singing it once, we started it again–all a cappella, no instruments or anything. Random party in my head! (and yes, I did wake up headbanging along to it. XD)

And Finally: My Son (Who Isn’t Even Thought Of Yet) Walks to Daddy

(This one made me cry happy tears upon waking.)

I dream I am standing at a living room window, watching a few cars drive into the driveway, and I feel a little tug at my shirt hem. “Mommy, they here yet? They here yet?” says a little voice.

I lean down to this little boy–he’s about two–and say, “Yeah, they just came in. Want to go open the door for them?”

“Naaah,” he says, hugging my leg. He is suddenly very, very shy. I go over and open the front door, and several close friends come in, all excited to meet this little boy, who I now realize (within the dream) is my son. Even my boyfriend’s older brother comes to see him, and they all gather in the living room, wanting my son to show them how he’s learned to walk. But he won’t walk in front of them–he’s shy and a little nervous.

This whole time, I’m seeing how much he resembles my boyfriend–same dark, glossy hair, same facial structure, and same skinny little arms and legs. He’s so fragile-looking that I’m suddenly afraid to let him walk on his own, for fear he’ll fall and hurt himself. And while I’m pondering all this, our friends are encouraging him to walk over to them, and he keeps shaking his head…until he looks toward the kitchen doorway. His eyes light up, and he says, definitively, “DADA!”

Then, with very deliberate, slow steps, my son walks straight towards the kitchen doorway, straight toward my boyfriend, and hugs his leg as if he’ll never let his daddy go. My boyfriend sweeps him up into his arms, a loving smile lighting his face, and the likeness between father and son is uncanny–tears fill my eyes. Then, my little boy looks back toward the roomful of people (including me) and grins this really big, cheesy grin; it’s the first smile he’s given that reminds me of myself, and the dream ends there.

The Role of Good Dreams

Each of these dreams left me pumped, in a good mood, and ready to face the day, much more so than my nightmares. My nightmares just propelled me out of bed; my awesome dreams left me feeling so much more positive about my life. I think that’s one reason we have dreams like these–keep us happy and wanting to wake up and live again. At least, that’s what these five dreams (as well as all the other great ones I’ve had over the years) have done for me.

Have You Ever Had Dreams Like These?

Just wondering if these dreams of mine remind you of any you’ve had. Leave me a comment and tell me! 🙂

Battle of the Beauty Purge, Completed

Last week I wrote about my massive beauty-product purge, ranging from shampoos and conditioners to lipstick and fragrance and everything in between.

This week, I will show you the fruits of that (very very hard) labor, in the form of a much nicer bathroom. Not just showing makeup products, but ALL of the products I reduced and condensed, and the total effect that had on my bathroom.

What Remained After the Purge


About four years ago, I quit wearing full-face makeup all the time. Not coincidentally, I started dating my awesome boyfriend of win around that time–as we got to know each other, I found myself not feeling the need to wear much makeup around him, because he was always so positive about my appearance. When we purged the bathroom, I realized I didn’t need all the random makeup I was hoarding; either it was out-of-date, the wrong colors, or it just wasn’t necessary anymore. Thus, my collection was edited waaaaay down, into what you see below.

Clockwise from top left: New York Color Color Wheel Mosaic Powders in Translucent Highlighter Glow (top left) and Pink Cheek Glow (top right); E.L.F. Bronzer in Sun Kissed; Clinique Superpowder Double Face Makeup in Matte Ivory

True story–these four products are all that I use for face makeup these days. (Concealer has either never worked right or I never learned how to apply it without it looking blotchy and fake, so I don’t bother buying it anymore. And I find that the Superpowder does a fair job of covering most flaws anyway. ^_^) The bronzer, blush, and translucent powder over top gives me a naturally-finished look without taking too long.

From left: Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow in Precious Metals; New York Color Metro Quarter Eye Shadow in South Street Seaport; CoverGirl Eye Enhancers in Drama Eyes #222 (left) and Tropical Fusion* #205 (right). Eye pencil (between the eye palettes) is New York Color Kohl Brow/Eyeliner Pencil in Jet Black.
*unsure of exact product name

Just these four eye palettes make it possible to mix nearly any color I want without having to buy every single shade. I can make a dark green, for instance, by taking the teal shade and adding a little black and a little brown; I can make a light purple by mixing the dark burgundy, the dark blue, and a little white. And, of course, they are all lovely shades to wear on their own. (The cream shadows, at far left, are great highlighters or bases, depending on what I need–they show up darker in this picture than they really are.)

From left: CoverGirl Wetslicks in Shimmershell; L.A. Colors Glossy Lips in Jammin’ Jelly; Neutrogena MoistureShine glosses in Healthy Blush (left) and Berry (right); New York Color lipstick in Ruby #305; Beauty Innovations lip palette, unknown name.

I reduced my lip makeup collection SEVERELY. These are all the lipsticks I own now, and they, like the eye products, can be mixed together to get the precise shade I’m after. I prefer glossier/smoother textures, and so most of my collection focuses around that.

The Glossy Lips gloss (second from left) is not really that dark, by the way–see it in the light, below:

Bath Products

From nearly a tubful of bottles, we shrunk my impressive shampoo collection down to this small drawer; we got rid of at least 150 shampoo bottles to condense it down to what I really use and like. I’ve got four basic formulas I like: light conditioning, heavy conditioning, super-cleansing, and volumizing. Thus, each of the bottles in this drawer does one of the four functions.

Since I hate having the “extra step” of conditioning in the shower every day, I have considerably fewer conditioners. Most of these conditioners match a super-cleansing or light conditioning shampoo.

I kid you not, we got rid of over 50 different shower gel bottles, and now I have room to spare in this little drawer. I generally like clearer, less-creamy shower gels with light fragrances, so that’s largely what my small collection is about. (I’m also in the process of phasing out shower gels in favor of scented bar soaps, which last longer and are cheaper.)


Okay, okay, I admit it, I like body sprays and scented stuff. And maaaaaybe I could stand to reduce this just a touch more. But considering that we hauled out 2 big black trash bags full of nothing but old perfume bottles… 🙂

I had been storing my sprays and lotions alongside my shower gels in that little drawer. But the drawer was way too small to hold all that awesome in it, and I was always forgetting to use the sprays because they were hidden away. Thus, I got this white-painted metal spice rack from Walmart for about 10 bucks, to create a “fragrance display” in my bathroom.

See? Looks a lot better than them just sitting out on the counter in a big conglomerate mess. (Oh, and the sprig of blue flowers beside them is there just ’cause it’s pretty. ^o^)

Hair Notions and Jewelry

I usually have longer hair most of the time, so I have tons of scrunchies, clips, and smooth bands to craft it into “cool hair,” as my boyfriend describes it. But in order to get my collection into a more manageable size, I had to edit and toss a bunch of stuff.

This is my much-reduced selection of bigger hair notions–I used to have about 3,000 of those big hair clips back in the day. LOL…

…but I still have a ton of little hair notions in the form of tiny clips and bands. What can I say, it’s a work in progress!

And these are all the smaller scrunchies that wouldn’t fit on my big ole scrunchie rack.

“Scrunchie rack?” you say. “What’s a scrunchie rack?”


It was a hand-towel rack. I saw the unique, flattened “S” shape of the rack, below…

…and I thought, “Hey, I think I could thread my scrunchies onto that.” So I repurposed it…

…like so. It might look like a confusion of fabric (and it kinda is), but there’s organization there. Now I can see all the scrunchies at once and pick one off fairly easily.

Speaking of racks, here’s the slightly-Asian-inspired jewelry rack I picked up on clearance from Walmart:

Where once my jewelry was in scattered bags all over the house, now it has a permanent (and pretty) home in the bathroom, safely away from hungry sink drains. Awwwh yeah.

Other Items

When I said my boyfriend and I cleaned the bathroom, we cleaned out EVERYTHING and made space for EVERYTHING that was left. Like my soap/razors/hair products drawer:

Uh, yeah, this is slightly still a work in progress. But at least I always know where the soap is now, instead of having to dig through 4 cabinets and 2 drawers!

That’s right, I dedicated a whole bathroom drawer to brushes. And yes, I do use every single one of them, depending on styling needs. No more knocking stuff off the cabinet tops to find that one stinkin’ brush that’s hiding from me!

And because I had no set place for my toothbrushes, cough drops, bandages, etc, I dedicated the drawer on the other side of the sink to hold such supplies. It’s the unofficial “medicine cabinet.” (And yes, I regularly need that many Band-Aids. I am one of the clumsiest, most accident-prone people ever. The first-aid companies <3 me.)

The Proudest Achievement: Organization in the Bathroom

First off, this thing rocks my socks.

It only stands about a foot or so tall, but held within it is all my makeup (top two drawers) and most of my hair notions (bottom three drawers).

Face stuff (plus a few beauty tools)…

…and everything else makeup-y. See? It all fits!

Combine that with the awesomeness of the racks holding my jewelry, fragrances, and scrunchies, and you get this:

…I’m finally bathroom-proud. It may not be the best-looking, it may still be in progress, but I’m using the space a lot better than I ever did before.

And LOOK! I can see the color of the countertops!! That, in itself, is a massive achievement. 😀 😀 😀

Wisdom Teeth and Headaches Gone

I had my wisdom teeth extracted on November 3rd…as in, 10 days ago.

I bet you’re wondering why you’ve seen so much more of me on the Internet since then, instead of seeing me drop off the face of the Internet. One reason: the headaches I have had for EIGHT MONTHS are finally gone.

Symptom: The Burning-Sensation Headache

I started having burning-sensation, throbbing headaches in my temples around April of 2011, and I thought it was just another one of my body’s quirks. Since I’ve suffered migraines, blood-pressure headaches, menstrual headaches, and tension headaches throughout much of my life, I figured this was just another headache to add to the mix.

But this type of headache was odd. It behaved somewhat like a migraine, except misplaced–it didn’t occur in my eye or in the veins in my forehead like all my other migraines, but it made me feel nauseous and sensitive to light, and left me with no energy. And yet, it behaved something like a tension or cluster headache, too; my neck and shoulders stayed tense all the time, and it felt as though the headache rocketed back and forth along the trigeminal nerve. But that wasn’t all: if I pressed a fingertip to the source of pain at my temple, I could feel what felt like a corded blood vessel, pulsing and pounding just like a blood-pressure headache. It seemed that this headache had multiple personality disorder.

I suffered these headaches, often up to 10 times a month for 2 or 3 days at a time, for seven months; they were untreatable by most medicines, so I had to suffer through them. By the time October rolled around, I had had inexplicable trouble sleeping (going to bed at 5 AM and waking up at 1 PM, anyone?) combined with the headaches, and all throughout the month of October I felt as if I was too tired to live my life anymore. Pain was constantly with me, in the burning of my temples, and my life had shrunk to what I could manage versus what I wanted to do.

The Health (and Dental) Epiphany

To add insult to injury, at the end of October, my bottom right wisdom tooth began to act up–it and its three brethren had been playing hide-and-seek with me since I was 20, painfully bursting through the gums over a period of weeks, staying out for a few months, and then partially covering themselves back over with gum tissue. I figured this was another episode of the same stuff, so I did nothing about it, just switched over to eating softer food for a few days until the gum quit complaining.

But that was the odd thing: it didn’t stop complaining. In fact, it got worse, so much so that my jaw ached and it caused another one of those burning-sensation, normal-life-ceasing headaches. In desperation, I called my dentist, and they scheduled me for an appointment later in the week.

When they saw me, they first did an X-ray to see what might be the trouble; the X-ray results came back a few minutes later, and the dentist (an old pharmacy-school friend of my parents’) said, “Looks like your wisdoms are infected.”

Come again? INFECTED? How the heck could TEETH become infected?

But infected they indeed were–he showed me on the X-ray where the infection in each wisdom tooth had eaten into the jawbone, showing up as a small black spot behind each wisdom tooth. Ugghhh. I was sick at hearing that, but even sicker was the thought that the infection might have been going on much longer than I thought.

Out, Out, Darned Teeth!

An appointment was quickly made with an oral surgeon in the same building to extract all four wisdom teeth as soon as humanly possible, after a 10-day course of antibiotics had been run through me to dispel the grave infection. And so, on November 3rd, after 13 days of worrying and lots of praying, my dad drove me to the oral surgeon’s office to have my wisdom teeth removed.

I was so nervous about the surgery that my blood pressure and pulse were well above normal–the attending nurse noticed that the blood pressure reading was 133/90-something, though I didn’t catch the pulse reading. In fact, I was so scared that my nervous quivering was literally vibrating the dental chair underneath me. It wasn’t until the oral surgeon himself came in that I began to calm down, and that was mainly because he explained everything that was going to happen, including the effects of the general anesthesia I had opted for (I wasn’t about to be conscious during this stuff).

A peace I still don’t understand descended over me, just before the oral surgeon numbed my arm to put the anesthesia in. A minute or so after the anesthesia had been administered, I began to experience my vision fluttering, like the vertical hold on an old television gone slightly off-kilter, and then…blessed nothingness.

Well, I shouldn’t say exactly “nothingness.” I did have a dream under anesthesia, about my uncle (my mom’s late older brother) talking to me. As I recall, the dream felt about 2 minutes long, and felt absolutely real…and then I awoke to the nurse asking me if I felt like walking to the wheelchair they had waiting for me. I was clumsy as ever getting up out of the dental chair, so I figured I was back to normal (LOL). My jaw and mouth were all over numb, and I felt like I had Jay Leno’s chin extending out from my face, even though I was not swollen externally much at all. (“Phantom sensations,” I think they call that.)

I recovered quickly in the office’s recovery area–the guy in the curtained-off area beside me wasn’t doing very well, bless his heart. Not sure what was going on with him, but it sounded like he was in a lot of pain. In comparison with him, my experience was a cakewalk. Dad drove me to Cook-Out, where I got a lovely vanilla milkshake (doctor’s orders)–it quickly became a vanilla-and-blood-flavored milkshake, but I was able to eat soft foods and able to talk within hours of the procedure.

The Unexpected Blessing

2 hours after the surgery, I realized something. The blinding, face-ripping headache I had experienced the night before the surgery, which had tempted me to consider tearing the trigeminal nerve out of my head to spare myself any more agony, was GONE.

Not only that, but it has stayed gone, even 10 days after the surgery. Sure, I’ve had a little bit of burny pain in my temples here and there as the wisdom tooth sockets heal and the other teeth get used to not having their pushy neighbors around, but it is NOTHING like what had dragged me down for eight months. I am left to conclude that my wisdom teeth and their infection were to blame for my headaches and inexplicable fatigue…and now that they are gone, my energy and my old personality are back. I finally have mental energy enough to play Clix with my boyfriend again, to design and update my websites again, and I feel like hanging out with people again…it’s like I got 75% of my life back by removing 100% of my wisdom teeth.

My only regret in this process? That I didn’t get my teeth seen about months ago. If I had, maybe I could have actually LIVED more of 2011 outside my house instead of lying in my bed, clutching my head and crying. Moral of the story: if you have burning-sensation headaches that you just can’t explain, your wisdom teeth (if you still have them) might be the hidden cause!