Spoiler Alert!

Posted: March 25, 2015 in Sponsor Posts
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My last post took me so long to write- partly sheer length (over twice my normal verbiage) and partly awkward subject matter (posing for naughty pictures)- that I’m now backlogged on subject matter, particularly since March so far has definitely been interesting.  As in the Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times” sort of interesting.

From a narrative viewpoint, I should tell you some things from the backlog.  My last two posts left a few loose threads dangling, and I would like to tie those off.  I also did a couple of things that may have repercussions, and I should report those  so I don’t have so much explaining to do when or if those repercussions come home to roost.

Bear with me: Cutie Cub-Bear Hoodies, 35 L$ each...

Bear with me: Cutie Cub-Bear Hoodies, 35 L$

From a business viewpoint, however, I’m going to go shopping instead.  A month ago, I essentially had two jobs.  My full-time job serving was on shaky ground (Step II disciplinary action is definitely not a pat on the back and a raise…) and currently I only have one client for my freelance fashion writing, Grumble, Grumble, since I haven’t really had time to seek out and properly tend new clients.  So I would say that job was also on shaky ground.

March has been interesting, as I said.  I now have four part-time jobs and no full-time jobs: computer consultant at Giovanni’s, art and rarities saleswoman at the Thatchtower Gallery, a regular modeling gig with Elyssa Innis, and I still have only one client for freelance fashion writing.  Which is why it is a bit of a relief that Luck of the Irish ’15 is going on through the end of the month, so I can let you know about some cute goodies being offered there by Grumble, Grumble while you still have a week to get down there and see for yourself.  (Here’s a taxi, btw…)

For those who aren’t familiar, Luck of the Irish is a gacha fair, sort of slot machine shopping.  I’m sure you remember the gacha machines for little kids that lurk near the entrances of grocery stores and sometimes restaurants.  Put a quarter or two in, twist the knob, and receive a little plastic bubble with a random sticker or candy or crackerjack price.  Gacha machines are the same concept, using modern technology to take a larger price and give a larger prize, faddish in some circles.  Many of the places I shop have one or two tucked in a corner somewhere; most short run fairs have a gacha aisle to attract shoppers from those aforementioned circles, and some events- like Luck of the Irish ’15, a second engagement of last years successful Luck of the Irish gacha fair,- are nothing but gacha machines.

Bitchin': Bitch Bubbles, 25 L$

Bitchin': Bitch Bubbles, 25 L$

Grumble has three machines at LOTI ’15.  The machine selling ‘Bitch Bubbles’ is probably the most entertaining of the machines.  I’ll admit I don’t really understand the technology.  There are thirteen bitchy sayings, any of which would make a great bumper sticker or T-shirt.  Instead they are projected in a caption bubble over your head, like you are in a comic strip.  Cute, fun, and funny, these are nifty little party favors for a quick cheap laugh.  There is also a machine selling psychedelic piggy banks, decorated in groovy the-dye patterns.  Your new bank is set out in your home or business to collect donations- hopefully for a charity or a worthy cause, but ultimately I suppose that is between you and your conscience.  Grumble’s one clothing gacha at LOTI ’15 is selling Cub-Bear Hoodies, little hoods/hats that pull over your head like a ski mask and have adorable little teddy bear ears.  If I’m totally honest, I have to admit these aren’t really practical hats.  Spring is here, so we are running out of cold weather, and these aren’t the sort of hats you wear to be suave or fashionable.  On the other hand, they are so damn freakin’ adorable, that everyone should run out and get at least one anyway…

Since I was going down to LOTI to report on Grumble, I wore an outfit made mostly of Grumble purchases as well.  The blue sweater dress is a cute spring or fall item, pairing a winter-weight fabric and a summer-length cut.  The shade of blue also matched the cub bear hoodie I received as part of my blogger’s pack, which was an added bonus.  The high boots are Grumble’s Black Cyber Stud boots, very urban and edgy.  The slashed latex leggings actually serve dual purposes.  Not only do they accentuate the edgy urban look created by the short dress and tall boots, they help keep my legs warm since spring is still a work in process at my latitude.  The lace wristbands are also from Grumble (My inner brat is dying to make a ‘Fifty Shades of Grumble’ allusion).  And just to swing the pendulum away from edgy and back towards cute, I also have the ‘Love Me’ face Tattoo from Grumble.

Pig in a poke: Groovy Pig Donation Jars, 35L$

Pig in a poke: Groovy Pig Donation Jars, 35L$

I’ve confessed elsewhere that I’m not a huge Gacha fan, but I still struggle with my shopping addiction.  (Being broke is less of a defense against impulsive spending than strict logic would dictate…)  So after scoping out Grumble’s machines, I went a-wandering.  I looked for clothes, my favorite weakness, but it was mostly poses and photo-props that caught my eye.  My last step before polishing off my post is to photograph a few of the new items…

Bunny chair from Mooh- what every house needs...

Bunny chair from Mooh- what every house needs…

If necessity is the mother of invention, does it follow that desperation is the father of stupidity?

Semi-creepy decrepit warehouse… just the place a reputable agency does interviews!

Semi-creepy decrepit warehouse… just the place a reputable agency does interviews!

In my last post, I mentioned I’m currently on thin ice at work, and that it looks like my interview with the Thatchtower Gallery isn’t panning out either.  Another blogger I respect suggested I take the time to search for other employment leads, so Piper and I spent the afternoon doing job-hunter 101.  You know, the basics.  I tried to polish up my resume a little.  Sadly, no matter how hard I buff my words, I cannot add shine to only two-thirds of a college degree, almost two years without touching a textbook, dead-end current employment, and no manager recommendation.  I worked my laughably thin network of contacts to see if anyone knew of any openings.  I scanned a bunch of online ad sites, both job sites like Monster and RegionalHelpWanted and generic classified sites like Craigslist and the local paper’s website.  I even looked for ads on WordOut, which is kind of like Craigslist’s lesser-known creepy inbred cousin.

Piper isn't so much my executive assistant as my executive distraction...

Piper isn’t so much my executive assistant as my executive distraction…

I learned two things.  Firstly, that one handed typing is not very efficient.  I used to have a typing speed of just over forty words per minute, which is average.  That was back when I was allowed to use both hands for typing, rather than attempting to type one handed while I hold Piper in my other arm.  Secondly, WordOut really is creepy and inbred.  ‘Employment’ ads included ads for escorts, strippers, and- I kid you not- an adult body builder who wanted to buy breast milk.  Enough strangeness and sketchiness that I should never have looked twice at the ad seeking a ‘tasteful pin-up model.’  On the other hand, desperation impairs judgement even more than exhaustion, and I’m living with both…

The ad asked for the model to be fresh-faced, and adventurous.  Prior experience, although a plus, would count for less than attitude and enthusiasm.  I didn’t just call straight away; I did my due diligence and googled the photographer, one Elyssa Innis.  I learned she had two websites, one as part of a collective of local portrait photographers, one a personal site.  The samples she showed for her work were very compelling, very vibrant.  I can’t put my finger on quite the right word, but her portraits had a quality like that really attractive stranger you first glimpse out of the corner of your eye in a crowded mall or theatre.  The one where for the rest of the afternoon, you find yourself watching him or her.  You don’t really decide to, but your gaze just keeps settling on that person like they’re somehow magnetic.  And every time your gaze lights anew, you feel like they’ve been watching you and just looked away.  Innis’s works had that same enthralling quality.  The sites made it clear she was a real and established portraitist, not some horny serial rapist using a camera to entice women’s clothes off.  In hindsight, there were a few red flags.  Not so much on her site for the collective, but the portfolio on her individual site was very sensual and passionate, even while avoiding any gratuitous nudity or titillation.  Likewise, Innis’s lengthy list of corporate clients, including retailers, ad agencies, and a couple magazine publishing houses, assured me she was business-like and professional.  If I thought more about why she listed less-identifiable company names rather than explicitly stating the magazine titles, or what sort of shoots an internet lingerie retailer or a skin lotion manufacturer might commission a photographer for… Instead I focused on the fact while models who get enough shoots to make a living at it are rare, a single shoot could earn as much as two or three dinner shifts, maybe even a week’s worth of the mostly lunch shifts I’ve been getting at Giovanni’s.

I think this is what I imagined: elegant background, tasteful pose, maybe show a hint of sexy...

I think this is what I imagined: elegant background, tasteful pose, maybe show a hint of sexy…

The risk-opportunity calculus seemed kind of obvious.  Having ensured Innis was a real photographer, I wasn’t setting myself up to be victim of a crime.  The worst probable result was that I wasted the time involved in the audition.  That’s not quite as no-cost as it sounds.  I would have to use up some chits to get someone to watch Piper, and given my very real time shortage, there would be an opportunity cost of something else I couldn’t do, something that I might regret more.  Still, it was a very minimal risk.  Conversely the best probable result was I would use up two evenings, one to try-out/interview,  one for the actual shoot, and make about what I would make in two evenings serving, so I would cover the shift I lost for the Step II discipline.  I also ascribe to a school of thought which says hard work and skill allow us to create our own luck.  Getting that first photo shoot creates the possibility of getting subsequent invitations to model, of turning that first shoot into a ‘lucky’ break.  Little to lose, strong possibility of minor gain, real possibility of a big win… the logic was clear that I should at least give it a try.

I wrote a polite e-mail to Ms. Innis, in which I admitted how little I knew about modeling, but also directed her here to Time Well Wasted so she could see how I look.  Apparently it was the right approach to take, as it only took her a couple of hours to call me and tell me she definitely wanted to shoot me, and set up a two or three hour session at her studio.  The next evening, I dropped Piper off with her grandfather and a promise to pick her up by 10:30 and to bring dad some take-out to eat before his shift started.

I suppose this was another chance for caution and common sense to overrule desperation and exhaustion.  Ms. Innis’s studio is in a small warehouse district slightly north of town.  Most of the warehouses lie fallow and empty now, victims of manufacturers’ flight from the Dayton area.  Go a little further north and you find a sad little strip of pawn shops, strip clubs, and no-tell motels.  Go a little south and you find a residential neighborhood in a state of decay, nearly as many houses standing empty and foreclosed as occupied.  The warehouses district feels ominous, particularly to a young lady by herself after dark.  I’d already made arrangements for Piper, however, and made the trip over.  I’d done enough that it seemed foolish not to follow through, particularly with no new information to change the risk-opportunity analysis that seemed so obvious when I wasn’t wandering along in a creepy warehouse district…

Or maybe something like this...

Or maybe something like this…

Ms. Innis’s studio looked a lot nicer on the inside than the outside.  The warehouse has been converted into a stage set at some point, suitable for shooting video or photography.  Over a dozen ‘diorama box’ sets, partial rooms that were missing at least one wall, probably a second wall and part of the ceiling, were arranged in the warehouse floor.  One of the sets was a very modern contemporary office, and the number of legal pads and file folders scattered on the glass table made it clear that it was used as a real office more frequently than as a set.  A closed door blocked access to offices along the south wall of the warehouse.  Innis indicated that was where she kept her darkroom and editing equipment.  The other sets included a dungeon, a doctor’s examination room, a locker room, a class room, a couple living rooms, a kitchen, and several bedrooms.  In the aisles between the sets were various tripods and wheeled camera stands, racks of clothing- mostly women’s and leaning heavily towards costumes and lingerie, large leather steamer trunks, and folding canvas chairs.  One of the trunks was open, and I saw a number of ropes and straps and chains inside.

I almost stammered my apologies and bolted then and there.  Miss Innis (“Never a Ms. or a Mrs., my dear.  Men have their uses, but I refuse to be yoked to an unequal partner.”) must have seen the look in my eyes, for she directed me to sit down and listen before I made any decisions.  For all her studio looked like a mad pornographer’s laboratory, any director would cast Elyssa Innis as a successful corporate executive or possibly a certain model of discrete governess.  She was wearing a simple yet elegant black skirt suit with a cream blouse, low black heels, and minimal makeup.  There was a hint of Boston in her accent, and genuine warmth as she made her spiel.  She was looking for a model capable of looking urban, attractive, and vulnerable.  She said there was a touch of ‘faeness’ in my blog pictures that she wanted to capture in her work.  She stressed two points.  Firstly, although the goal was to show my vulnerability, I would have complete control of how that vulnerability would be demonstrated.  Secondly, the nature of this particular shoot catered to prurient interests, and I would earn more per shoot and have more modeling opportunities if I was willing to accept and accommodate those prurient interests.  However, Elyssa insisted that if we were going to be able to work together, I would have to accept that her focus and passion was artistic and esthetic, and be willing to focus on the artistic rather then commercial aspect of what we were doing.

Ready, set?  Then go!

Ready, set? Then go!

After the fact, as I recount the evening here, it sounds absurd.  I was being asked to model adult pictures in what was obviously a building operated for that purpose, to accept that they would be adult pictures, and yet to be focused not on titillation or on mercenary motives but on the art and beauty that would go into the adult pictures.  I cannot explain it the way Elyssa did, even if I could remember and recite her exact words, but at that moment, I felt like it would be my honor and my privilege to pose for her pictures.  Secondly, I’ve often joked that as a waitress, I am cheerfully mercenary.  It is a little embarrassing to admit how quickly I homed in upon the phrase ‘earn more per shoot’, and asked for that ‘more’ to be quantified.  There is an old joke about a billionaire meeting a girl in a bar and asking if she would sleep with him if he paid her millions of dollars.  She thinks about it and says that she would.  Immediately, the billionaire asks her if she would sleep with him for five dollars.  Offended, the girl demands, “What type of girl do you think I am?”  The billionaire replies, “We’ve already established that, now we’re just haggling over price.”  When I zeroed in on the money, I somehow managed to skip straight over the question of should I take ‘art’ pictures at all to the question of what price would overcome my qualms.

It is thus with mixed emotions that I confess that Elyssa offered a price that overcame my qualms.  I sold some of my virtue today.  I got a good price, and I got that price in cash, which means the specific details are for me, God, and the IRS to quibble over.  It was enough that I will be able to bridge the shortfall my landlord was hounding me over, enough that I can trade up from ramen noodles and tv dinners to some fresh meat and produce and still keep Piper in formula and diapers.  I don’t feel guilty about the piece of virtue I sold, well, not that guilty.  I will not- at least, I don’t think I will- feel guilty if I have to discuss it with Piper once she is old enough to understand.  I do hope I won’t have to discuss or defend my decision before Piper is old enough to understand.  I am praying, however, that I never have discuss these photos with my father.

The actual photos were an interesting experience.  First Elyssa and I did my make up.  Between soccer and skateboarding, I collected enough oopsies as a teen that I got experience using make up to cover a bruise or injury, but using make up to create a shiner and a few lash marks was a new experience.  While she did the make up, Elyssa discussed safe words with me.  Folks that do bondage for real use safe words to distinguish a true call to stop the scene from one that is a pretend call, ‘in character’ within the scene.  The same is true for one of Elyssa’s shoots. She wanted to get pictures that showed vulnerability, needed me to act properly anxious and scared.  I had to get into a role, just like I was on-stage or playing in one of my ex’s D&D sessions.  Unfortunately, that means if I say, “This is freaking me out, I need you to untie me,” or whimper “Let me go,” or just yell, “Stop,” Elyssa doesn’t know if I really mean it, or I’m acting the part.  The solution is to inherently assume that I’m acting the part unless I use the safe word, a distinct sounding word that has absolutely no reason to naturally occur within the scene.  The safe word Elyssa gave me was ‘motley’.

Elyssa gave me choice on wardrobe.  She had planned to just let me pick something from one of her many clothing racks, but she really liked the dress I wore down to her studio, a clearance cheapie I had picked up at LC’s Fashion World ages ago.  Since she planned to rip the dress, we did a quick little side negotiation.  She added a fifty dollar bonus onto my modeling fee, not enough to replace the dress retail, but more than I paid for it and enough to get another clearance outfit or two.  I also got to select an outfit off her rack to wear home, which I would return the next time I modeled for her- or keep if this ended up being the only time.

Then we went up to one of the bedroom sets in the studio.  I was shoved into a large standing wardrobe, my wrists tied with heavy twine to each other and to the hanger bar.  Even having discussed everything before hand, I was still nervous when Elyssa pulled out the knife to cut the top of my dress off. “Motley, motley, motley,” I babbled in alarm.  I had expected scissors, maybe a kitchen knife.  Elyssa’s knife was an ornate silver knife with black braided leather on the handle, an elaborate crosspiece, and a onyx sphere at the end of the handle.  It looked like a movie prop for an evil cultist, and I realized I had just allowed someone I didn’t know very well at all to tie me up so I could neither run away or defend myself.

Fortunately, Elyssa stopped what she was doing and smiled calmly at me.  “Don’t worry, my dear, it’s fairly typical for new models to test the safe word a few times before we really get started.  Do you want me to untie you?”  She laughed when I said the knife scared me.  The reason it looked like a movie prop was because it was a prop.  Although it was a real knife, and quite sharp, it was just another of the weird odds and ends in the studio.  She offered to find a knife that didn’t look so ceremonial, but warned she would either have to leave me hanging while she rummaged for one or untie me to help her look and then retie me after we found one, and that either way it would take longer than simply using the fancy knife.  Nervously, I told her to go ahead and use the scary knife.  With a few deft strokes, she savaged off the top of my dress and my cotton sports bra.  “Motley, damn it!”

Elyssa arched an eyebrow and dropped a shoulder.  “What is it this time, my poppet?”

“We didn’t discuss my bra.  One, I would have liked to wear it again.  Two, this shoot is still technically our first date.  Call me a tease, but I generally like to get to the second date before getting to second base.”

The photographer gave me a very evil grin as she pointed out, “You should have said that before you were tied in a wardrobe.  If you must use tired baseball cliches, then I can go ahead and steal second.”  She laughed warmly.  “Oh, Emily, that look you just gave me, that mix of outrage, anxiety, and disbelief, is exactly what I want to capture on film.”  She studied me briefly, her lips pursed.  “I know what we need to protect both your modesty and my vision.”  Another evil grin.  “Don’t go anywhere.  I’ll be right back.”

She was indeed right back, although it felt longer while I dangled in a wardrobe.  When she returned, she leaned in close and gently stuck a black duct tape ex over each of my nipples, blowing gently in my ear as she did so.  It was a really confusing moment, as reactions of ‘how dare she?!’ and ‘don’t stop!’ clashed in my mind, my skin breaking out in goosebumps, my breath catching.  Before I could even finish processing how I felt, Elyssa stepped back, grabbed her camera, and began taking pictures.  For a minute or two, while I swayed and dangled, and Elyssa glided left and right and to and fro, her camera whirred and clicked.  It was an expensive digital model, so they were digital whirs and clicks purely for ambiance.  She then paused, cocking her head slightly as she reviewed the pictures on the camera’s view screen.

This is unlikely to be my 2015 Christmas card photo...

This is unlikely to be my 2015 Christmas card photo…

“Well, little poppet,” she said, “we’re done early.”  She grabbed the scary knife and cut the twine binding me into the wardrobe.  “I don’t want you to think a shoot like this is normally this quick.  There is normally a lot more work, several different poses to be done, several different angles and lightings to be tried.  For each photo, there are multiple attempts, all to generate three dozen or so pictures I like, so that the editor of Distressed or whatever rag commissioned the shoot can then pare the set down to twelve to sixteen pictures in a five or six page spread.  I still need a photo shoot for Distressed, and I hope I can schedule that shoot with you.  But I just got- and on the first go, no less- a picture I don’t just like but absolutely love.”  She showed me the picture on her camera view screen.  It wasn’t how I normally picture myself, but I expressed a polite appreciation.  “So I’ve created a small conflict of interest for myself.  I have a high-end exhibition coming up soon, a chance to sell larger pieces to collectors, and this picture will be perfect for that exhibition.  Technically, my contracts specify I’m only selling the serial rights, so I can and do still exhibit photos even if they are from one of my magazine shoots.  However the exhibition is soon enough that I would be exhibiting before the magazine has a chance to publish.  Legally, I can, but it isn’t necessarily polite.  So I’m keeping this picture for me, and we will use a different costume and different set to do the shoot for Distressed.”

We discussed my tentative schedule, and I agreed to call her in a couple of days to finalize plans once my Giovanni’s schedule was posted.  Miss Innis even offered to have a younger cousin come to the shoot to watch Piper for me, although she warned I would need to pay her cousin thirty or forty bucks, depending on how long the shoot lasted.  I grabbed a raunchy T-shirt and a fake letter jacket to cover myself up, and headed to my dad’s with a bucket of fried chicken and enough time to sit down and eat with him.

Which made it a shame I only remembered the artificial black eye I hadn’t cleaned off when my dad opened his door, looked me up and down, and said, “Emily, I think you should tell me more about this interview…”

Gallery  —  Posted: March 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

“If you give your employer two dollars worth of work for every dollar he pays you, you will always be too valuable an employee to fire.”  Mr. H., my high school soccer coach, used to say that, and it seemed to work for him.  He occasionally skirted the lines of propriety and took gleeful pleasure in tweaking the administrators’ noses, but no one could deny he poured his heart and his soul into teaching and coaching, so he was generally allowed to get away with it.

I need a chocolate milkshake to drown my sorrows… better make it a double!

I need a chocolate milkshake to drown my sorrows… better make it a double!

I’ve busted my ass for Giovanni’s, and it doesn’t seem to have earned me any protection.  In my post last week, I mentioned I ended up with a Step I disciplinary action through no fault of my own.  Yesterday I ended up with a Step II.  Technically, this one is my fault.  Piper caught a stomach bug somewhere, so she woke me at one-thirty in the morning throwing up contents of her stomach all over herself, her blanket, and her boppie.  Needless to say, I didn’t go to sleep that night, between panicking, cleaning her up, calling the pediatrician’s panic-line, calling my dad to send one of his patrol officers to the apartment with some Pedialyte, and tending to my sick little baby.  Even after Piper’s stomach was empty, she continued to throw up, projectile spitting her stomach acids.  I don’t think I will ever hear any sound quite as heart-wrenching as the gurgling in Piper’s stomach that warned she was about to heave again.  She didn’t even cry, just mewed pitifully with her discomfort as she tried to sleep.  Around eight she was finally able to keep down a tablespoon of Pedialyte.  I was babbling as I tended to her, partly trying to reassure her that everything would be all right, partly trying to talk myself down from my frazzled panic, partly making blind offers of whatever God wanted if he would only help my little girl feel better.  And Piper, as sick and pitiful as she was feeling, gave me a big brave smile, like she knew I needed someone to believe in me and wanted me to know she was my someone.

In a musical dream sequence, I could dance my sorrows away.  Sadly, this is not a musical dream sequence...

In a musical dream sequence, I could dance my sorrows away. Sadly, this is not a musical dream sequence…

Well, I was in no shape to handle a lunch shift at Giovanni’s, and I couldn’t leave Piper when she was sick.  At nine o’clock, I called Taylor, and mercilessly used her guilt over her role in my Step I to shame her into covering my shift.  I then nestled Piper in my bed beside me and crashed restlessly, waking every so often to give her more Pedialyte.  My Step II is because of what that process didn’t involve, or more specifically who I didn’t involve in the process.  Managers, just because they run the restaurant, feel like they should be involved in solving staffing problems.  Go figure.  (I’m more than a little bitter.  If it was a problem involving a customer, such as their steak was miscooked or there was a hair in their lasagna, most of Giovanni’s managers would say, “I’m busy.  Can’t you deal with it?”  So who knew they would be so territorial about their prerogatives once those annoying customer people weren’t a factor?)  Step II means I lose another shift, to ensure the penalty hits me in the pocketbook; I lose certain responsibilities, like checking coworker outs and processing discounts on the computer, until I’ve “re-earned management’s trust”; I have to schedule a sit-down meeting with Stephano and Jonas to discuss why I’m in disciplinary Steps, whether I still value my job, and where I go from here.  Worst of all, since I’m in Step II, any other violation can, at management discretion, place me in Step III, more colloquially known as ‘Don’t let the front door hit you where the Good Lord split you’ or ‘getting shit-canned’.

I'm pretty sure 're-earning management's trust' will involve more than baked goods...

I’m pretty sure ‘re-earning management’s trust’ will involve more than baked goods…

The threat of firing is bad enough at any time, but I’m still hemorrhaging debt from my maternity leave and I get insurance, both mine and Piper’s through work.  Right now I feel like I cannot afford to work, but I can afford to not work even less.  And the whole gallery thing has proven to me that Piper is a liability on job interviews.  I thought, all things considered, that my gallery interview went well.  I really thought I had a genuine shot at the job, both from the initial interview and from things Ms. Richards said when I served her just before Valentine’s Day.  But she also said that Mr. Thatcher would make his decision Monday the 16th, so there would be two weeks to give notice before March 3rd when the position officially opens.  That was over a week ago, and I’ve heard nothing.  I’ve called multiple times to follow-up, and I keep getting either no answer or voice mail, and no return call for the messages I leave.  Most damning, on Thursday, Ms. Richards came in around five like she was going to get supper, saw me busy in my section, and scurried off to the carryout area.  Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I feel like she ducked me because she didn’t want to answer my questions, which is an answer in and of itself.

Sometimes there is a poster that says it all...

Sometimes there is a poster that says it all…

I’m used to being a little arrogant at work: I’m damned good at what I do, and when it was just me, I was certain I could land on my feet, because if I ever got fired, or lost my temper and quit, I  could find another serving job at the drop of a hat.  But now I have Piper depending on me, and I’m terrified of letting her down.  I don’t have any safety margin if something happens at Giovanni’s.  The lack of sleep and the stress of parenting are wearing me down, so my game is slipping at work.  With Step-III-You’re-Out! hanging over my head, I cannot just trust my instincts and attitudes to carry me through, so my game is slipping further.  I think I’m slightly a control freak, and right now there is nothing in my life that I actually get to control.  I really want to hide under my blanket with a bottle of Patron Citronge until the world goes away and finds someone else to pick on.  I won’t, of course, partly because guilt and affection will keep me in the game for Piper, mostly because I know the world will just wait patiently, picking up ever-heavier blunt objects to smack me with, until I emerge.  God help me, however, because the impulse is so there. I think when I’m done with this post, I’m calling my dad and asking if I can keep my booze over at his house until I feel little better about my life…

Oh, and very little credit to assign for today’s fashion look, as I was digging in the deep, back, dusty part of my closet, and picked a short reddish minidress and accessory kit that I cannot remember where it came from.  Probably a freebie/gift, as it is titled in German and I only shop in English.  (Call me crazy, but I don’t like to buy if I don’t actually understand what I’m buying…)  Still, there are a few very familiar brands in some of the details: Sophia Tan skin from WoW Skins, Updated Jeannie Small B-cup shape from Alady Island, Beatrice hair from Tameless Hair.  Likewise, I’ve worn and posted before about the hearts a flutter headband from {le fil casse} and the ‘pure garbage’ piercings from Ellabella.

Gallery  —  Posted: February 24, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Matt the Firsty here!  Emily and I didn’t have any good ideas to blog this morning, so I thought I would make a little progress report on my sinister plans for my little digital alter ego.  Not that my plans are sinister in the traditional sense of evil or foreboding, although I already know there are moments that Emily won’t enjoy at all, and I would apologize to her if I could.  Some etymological trivia for you, however.  In Latin roots, ‘dextro’ is the word for ‘right handed’.  The word ‘dexterity’, referring to adeptness and skill, comes from the greater control most people have with their right hands.  I fully intend to put Emily through a long term plot arc, something that I can hopefully then rewrite into a novel, but between the chaos of my schedule and the disjointed nature of my attention span, I fear I won’t be very dextrous as I execute my plans.  Since the opposite of dextro is sinistro, it actually does make sense to refer to my plans as sinister…

Is this look sinister, or merely cyberpunk?

Is this look sinister, or merely cyberpunk?

I picked the title of this post for two reasons.  Firstly, for Emily, I am the ‘man behind the curtain’, the unseen presence pulling puppeteer strings.  Secondly, it’s a quote from the Wizard of Oz, a classic movie that is one of my favorites.

Quick aside: To me, the Wizard of Oz is one of those movies that everyone should know, a piece of American cultural identity.  As such, I often allude to it in normal conversation, because I expect it to be a common reference point.  Semi-recently I ran drinks out to a table of six: Mother and father, preteen brother and sister, one pair of grandparents.  They were so engrossed in their conversation I couldn’t simply hand the drinks out, so I attempted to discretely place each person’s drink near them.  Sadly, the mom talked with her hands, gesturing enough I could only lurk behind her, hoping for either her words to pause so I could speak up or her movements to pause so I could place her drink.  Neither happened until I had stood behind her long enough for the moment to become awkward.  “Don’t worry, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” I joked, since I’m not a fan of awkward pauses and rush to fill them.

“What did you say?” asked the mom, obviously confused.

“Sorry,” I replied, a little surprised the line wasn’t recognized, “Just a line from an old movie.”  A set-up for someone at the table to point out that the Wizard of Oz is not just ‘some old movie’ but a classic, a universal telling of the heroic journey.  Or at least a childhood favorite.  An audience with both a male and female for each of three generations and none of them recognized the Wizard of Freakin’ Oz?  My mind was totally blown, and I’ve needed to vent about this for a while…

The Wizard of Oz?!?  Apparently, sometimes I do need to draw people a picture...

The Wizard of Oz?!? Apparently, sometimes I do need to draw people a picture…

Anyway, I should try to rein myself back on topic.  A few months ago, I was taking stock of both my life and Emily’s life, trying to figure out what the arrivals of our respective babies would mean for blogging.  As I finished taking stock, I realized I want to wade deeper into the fiction end of the pool.  My tentative plan is to try to write a novel from within the blog.  Beat out an overarching plot line (freely stealing advice from Blake Snyder and Larry Brooks).  The nature of my writing, heck, the nature of my life, is to try to pants it, but my ADD-raddled attention span requires an outline of scenes and incidents if I want to avoid either trailing off unfinished or meandering away from compelling narrative pacing.  Once I have list of ‘incidents and accidents, hints and allegations’ to string into a story, I can shape individual scenes into one or two part blog entries.  Once I’m done, I can string them all together and edit back into a single manuscript.  A brilliant idea if it works, right?

My genre of choice to write is an urban fantasy.  Think the Dresden files, Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels of New Orleans series, Seanen McGuire’s Toby Daye series, Supernatural, etc.  I thought about a few other genres; my reading tastes range far and wide so I know the tropes and conventions of almost any genre, and I’m confident by now that I can find sets and costumes for anything somewhere in Second Life.  I also strongly considered trying a more mundane ‘cozy’ mystery, maybe something like Stephanie Bond’s Body Mover series or Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum series.  It’s another genre I like, and possibly a better fit for what I’ve written so far, over two hundred posts in nearly two years with very little indication that the supernatural has any role in Emily’s world.  Still, as I’ve confessed elsewhere, I initially envisioned Emily as an urban fantasy character.  Moreover,  as a reader, as a wannabe writer, and as an RPG-gamer I’ve had ideas and fancies about the nature of magic simmering in the back of my head for not just years but decades.  It seems like a waste not to use at least some of them.  Ultimately, though, it comes down to fact I want to write the book I would want to read, and so far, I want to read an urban fantasy.

Before I continue, I mustache myself a question….

Before I continue, I mustache myself a question….

Before I can start my experiment in mad literary science (“Yes, Igor, what if we somehow force a blog to bear the love child of an unwritten novel to fruition?”) there are two things I need to do, one onstage and one backstage if I may briefly mix metaphors.  Backstage- behind the curtain, where you should pay no attention- I need to have at my outline lined up.  I had one in progress, but it was growing too front heavy and I’ve been alternating between trying to massage it and trying to build a better outline from different plot structures.   Two important early scenes- a prologue that introduces the antagonist to the story, and a scene where Emily’s supernatural birthright first manifests, have already defined themselves in my imagination.  Probably a reflection of my own recent ascent into parenthood, but all the themes that I’m considering for the story revolve around Emily’s attempt to balance her responsibilities to herself, to the other adults in her life, and to Piper.

The onstage stuff is the fun part of getting ready for my experiment.  I’m tweaking Emily’s employment a bit, from full time server to part time server and part time ‘gallery girl’ for the Thatchtower Gallery.  Thatchtower is actually a cross between a gallery and an auction house, dealing with high end rarities and collectibles, many of which touch upon the supernatural world.  The new job has a couple of roles in the story I want to tell.  It gives Emily access to daycare, because I don’t always have someplace to park Piper and some scenes require her absence.  It provides a source of information about the supernatural, because Emily doesn’t (yet) know what she needs to know about the arcane world.  It provides an entrance vector to put more men into Emily’s life.  It also gives me a chance to honor Caoimhe Lionheart, a truly wonderful Second Life blogger, who cheerfully volunteered to watch Piper when she commented on my ‘Sober Lullabies’ post.  Given the most famous Lionheart of history was Richard the Lionhearted, 12th century English King, it is hardly surprising that Ms. Cao Richards is my loose reinterpretation of ‘Lil Cao for my fiction: An elegant lady, gifted with compassion, wisdom, and style, who will watching (and watching out for) Emily and Piper in their dealings with Thatchtower Gallery.  (And yes, sometimes babysitting Piper for an afternoon or evening.)  Even if her job title is ‘administrative assistant’, Ms. Richards is effectively the executive running Thatchtower, and will definitely be present in Emily’s story.

Posing for the moment...

Posing for the moment…

I’m also trying to insert a small stable of potential romantic interests into Emily’s life.  In my personal reading, I strongly prefer fiction with a strong romantic subplot.  I generally don’t appreciate books where the romance is the primary plot, but I have enough of a romantic streak that one of the signs of a happy ending is the presence and strengthening of a love relationship.  So obviously, I want my urban fantasy blog-novel’s B plot to deal with Emily’s love life.  I’ve got two options to choose between, both well illustrated in my reading list.  Option one is to pick Emily’s love interest, and then help love conquer all.  Option two, equally popular, is to throw multiple intriguing candidates at my heroine.  I’m having trouble deciding between options, so I want to make sure I have enough candidates available so that option two is still a viable option.  Jeremy is one candidate.  I expect Thatchtower to provide a couple more: Carlton Thatcher, the wealthy, cultured, secretive owner of the gallery and Eddie Stone, his dangerous and intensely physical head of security.  I have also imagined a few interesting men connected to the supernatural world, individuals who also relate to the A plot.

So in short, I have big ideas for Emily, but I’m still having some trouble figuring out the execution.  In that sense, little has changed.  Still, ideas are starting to gel, so continue to keep your eyes on this space…

Gallery  —  Posted: February 22, 2015 in Guest Blogged!

There are so many reasons why I need to go shopping this afternoon.

A) I need some retail therapy.  On top of my emotional baseline of exhausted and overwhelmed (perfectly normal for moms everywhere, particularly single working moms) I have a healthy overlay of unhealthy rage.  My coworker Taylor, herself a single mom, was supposed to come by and pickup Piper this morning and I would watch her two year-old Dashaun later this week.  Giovanni’s opens at eleven, so the servers are expected in at ten to help with the prep and set-up.  Shortly before ten, I called Giovanni’s to warn them I was running late because Taylor, whose inability to keep a schedule is legendary, hadn’t made it yet.  Imagine my surprise when Taylor answered the phone.  Management had called her that morning before to cover a shift because Mackenzie called in sick.  (She said food-poisoning, I suspect brown-bottle flu.)  Taylor had dumped Dashaun on his grandmother, and completely forgotten to call me.  Working all the numbers in my cell phone contacts, I finally gave in and asked Jeremy to be my emergency baby-sitter.  Great, but by the time I called Jeremy, took Piper out to the ‘burbs, and doubled back to Giovanni’s, I was over an hour late.  Which means even though Joe, Taylor, and Mackenzie created the reason I was late between them, I’m the one who gets a write-up and started in a Step I disciplinary action.  I’m angry enough I’m trembling just recapping this.  Some new pretty clothes are just what I need to feel calmer.

Pretty new clothes, compliments of Grumble, Grumble.

Pretty new clothes, compliments of Grumble, Grumble.

B) I really need retail therapy.  The whole situation with Jeremy (more about that towards the end of this post…) has me in a tailspin.  I’m still into him, and he is apparently also still into me.  Except he has rebounded since I broke things off, and while I’m sure I’ll properly hate his fiancee Valerie once I meet her, it’s unfair to her and to the generally stand-up guy Jeremy is for me to drag him into Piper’s life.  I don’t want to keep calling Jeremy in panics.  Except I don’t really have many options.  How sick is it that I only called Jeremy to babysit after trying my next-door neighbor when I’m ninety percent certain that she’s an escort and an addict?  Trying to unfold that logic has me feeling guilty and inadequate.  Pretty new clothes can solve those feelings, too.

This Hooter purse deserves some close-up love...

This Hooter purse deserves some close-up love…

C) Ms. Cao Richards came in for lunch with two of her coworkers and their three little ones.  She introduced me as ‘Emily, who I’m hoping will be the newest gallery girl’.  She introduced the two gallery girls with her, but distracted as I was this morning, I promptly forgot their names and christened them in my mind as Buffy and Muffy.  On a more positive day, this would have been a wonderful thing.  Besides tipping well, Ms. Richards implied the job is probably mine, with what she said both explicitly and between-the-lines, although the gallery owner, Mr. Thatcher, will not declare his official decision until ten a.m. on Monday the sixteenth.  In my frustrated and irritable state, however, I’m locked in on the gap between ‘probably’ and ‘definitely’, afraid to hope, stressing over the impending disappointment.  Plus, if I do get the job, I don’t have anything sufficiently elegant and classy for the Thursday gala evenings.  So I should definitely go get myself some pretty new clothes…

To paraphrase Nancy Sinatra, these boots were made for shopping...

To paraphrase Nancy Sinatra, these boots were made for shopping…

D) Allie Munro also came by for a bite to eat.  I didn’t wait on her, since she sat at the bar with a chicken caesar salad and a nice pinot grigio while she used her cell phone and tablet to herd staffers for Grumble, Grumble and the Wet Spot.  (How does she have time to run two businesses and look so fabulous when I can barely juggle being a low-level Goomba at Giovanni’s and keeping Piper in formula and clean diapers?  If she wasn’t so nice, I would definitely hate her.)  I didn’t wait on her, but she gave me a tip nonetheless.  Not a gratuity-tip but a piece-of-advice-tip: Thrift Shop 8 is now open, with bargains and sales from dozens of dealers, themed for Love and Hate in honor of Valentine’s Day.  That would be reason enough to go shopping, to see if I can find something both elegant and thrifty, but Allie sweetened the pot, inviting me once more to write up how cool Grumble’s wares look, and take a few selfies to prove my point.  If there is anything better than shopping for pretty new clothes, it is getting paid to shop for pretty new clothes…

Ta-da! A second great Grumble look for Thrift Shop!

Ta-da! A second great Grumble look for Thrift Shop!

OUTFIT #1:

  • Mesh Corset Dress in Teal.  This cute little number is one of Grumble, Grumble’s feature items for Thrift Shop 8.
  • Heartbreaker Crown. This is the rare from the Heartbreaker Headband Gatcha Grumble brought to the thrift shop.  Very cute, although more appropriate for senior prom then an expensive gallery event….
  • Hooter Handbag, Teal Trim.  Another cute, fun item from Thrift Shop 8.  Again, yes to cute, fun, and irresistible, no to gallery-appropriate…
  • Sheer heart stockings & Colorado boots (black): Items from the Grumble, Grumble main store that nicely compliment my dress.
  • Shape: Gigi Teen (Kids5B); Skin: Jenna- Purple Smokey (BeautyCode); Hair: Beatrice (TamelessHair)
Cupid, updated for the 21st century?

Cupid, updated for the 21st century?

OUTFIT #2:

  • Flutter Outfit.  This is one of Grumble’s exclusive items for TS 8.  With the wings and headband, this outfit is very cute and very fun.  Properly re-accessorized, the pink and white minidress may be the gallery event dress I’m looking for…
  • Heart Collar and Bangle Set.  This is the other exclusive TS 8 item.  I love collar style necklaces and bangle style bracelets, and this set is one of each for only 25 L$.  Again, cute and fun.  Definitely the must-have of Grumble’s Kiosk for this event.
  • Red Star Leggings, Snake Bracelet, Fringe Mocassins, Jackie-O Sunglasses: Again, I accessorized the event items with some goodies from the Grumble mainstore.  (The shotgun was not included, but was a fun prop to pose with…)
  • Shape: ‘Girl Teen Avatar Shape’ (Kids5B); Skin: Liz- Green Smokey (BeautyCode); Hair: Ronnie (Tameless Hair)

    Give this gorgeous collar some close up love, also...

    Give this gorgeous collar some close up love, also…

Gallery  —  Posted: February 14, 2015 in Sponsor Posts
Tags: , , , ,

My attitude towards the Super Bowl as a child was one of mild indifference.  Over the years, I have accumulated more disdain and irritation, usually over trivial aspects of the experience, that I am now strongly annoyed with the Super Bowl.  Plus, I’m shallow about some things.  I may not care about football, but I would cheerfully go to a party, nurse a glass or two of moscato, and kibitz over the commercials.  Heck, substitute bottles of formula for glasses of moscato, and that’s exactly where Piper will be, hanging out with my dad and some other old cops in one of his crony’s basement man-cave.  Whereas I will be trapped at work, away from my baby girl.  And because of the game, there will not be enough customers in Giovanni’s to justify my presence there or pay my bills.

Plus I’m sure I will get into a rehash of my argument with Steven from last year.  Argument may be the wrong word, because that implies something with more substance or heat than what we had.  I think Steven is making a bad judgement call, but I’m not in any position to influence his judgement call.  If I express myself strongly enough, I can offend him (which is what I did last year) but I’m still ‘only a server’ and ‘only a girl’ and ‘don’t even have a degree’ so I obviously have no understanding to contribute to the decision.

Cheerleading outfit by Pink Passions Designs.

Cheerleading outfit by Pink Passions Designs.

Giovanni’s is casual family dining.  Think the same rough niche as TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s or O’Charley’s and you’ve got the idea.  We also, by word of mouth and by having good food, have built up a huge carryout business.  We aren’t a true sports bar, but we have some decent televisions and some sports memorabilia on our walls.  For a big game like the Super Bowl or the college championship earlier this year, we aren’t the destination.  People generally go to a friend’s party, such as my dad and his cronies and Piper hanging out in the man-cave, or to a true sports bar with a super large TV and pitchers of draft beer.  Giovanni’s will do good carryout business leading up to the game- particularly pizzas, meatballs, and lasagna trays.

HH Cheerleader.  Outfit by Jezabeth Poutine.

HH Cheerleader. Outfit by Jezabeth Poutine.

So the numbers, particularly in the dining room, don’t justify staying open for the entire game.  Jonas and Steven particularly don’t want to have a half-dozen employees standing around waiting for a handful of ‘football widows’ to finish their wines and go home so they can finish shutting down and cleaning Giovanni’s, which has happened before.  On the other hand, they also don’t want to turn away a large party if some of our regulars do decide we would be a good place to watch the game, or miss out on any large carryout orders.  So last year, and probably again this year, the plan was to ‘play it by ear’ and close early if or when we died down.  I’m not opposed to closing early, particularly since I don’t anticipate my income earning any sort of championship ring.  I’m terribly opposed to ‘playing it by ear’ however.  Our regulars know us, and our quirks as a restaurant.  Servers have been talking about closing early, but not sure when, for over a week.  The business Jonas and Steve want- the bigger orders- plans ahead.  If you are meeting, for example, a bunch of college buddies to get a solid food base in your bellies to soak up the keg of P.B.R. Ronnie bought, you all meet someplace you know will be open, not someplace you hope will be open.  Likewise, if the whole clan has gathered at Uncle Joe’s to watch the game, and you are polling all the cousins on what to order, the process is a: pick the restaurant, b: gather the order, c: call and place the order.  Nobody wants to write down all the cousins’ orders, call and learn that Giovanni’s already closed up, and have to go take new orders to call in to Friday’s or Papa John’s, particularly if they can save themselves some bother by just starting with the Plan-B restaurant.  Therefore, unless we bite the bullet by just committing to a particular time, the only business we get will be the ‘odds and sods’, the handful of small tables that the bosses feel isn’t worth staying open for… Read the rest of this entry »

Gallery  —  Posted: February 10, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Today is not yet that day.

Everything looks safe and content… but looks are deceiving...

Everything looks safe and content… but looks are deceiving…

I have a lot of excuses I could bring forward.  I’m naturally disorganized, particularly with the decidedly mixed blessing that is my ADD.  I’ve lived with ADD long enough, and for the most part managed it, that I know good sleep patterns and a structured life are the best way to control my scatterbrain episodes.  Since Piper arrived in my life, however, good sleep patterns and healthy structure are both things of the past.  I’m sufficiently sleep deprived that even a more conventional brain would be scattering, but for me, single motherhood is a perfect storm of bad ADD lifestyle choices.  Since I’m sleeping poorly, my physical health, like my mental health, is more brittle than it should be.  I’ve got the latest variety of creeping crud to pass through the region- lots of phlegm in my nose and throat, a general achiness, and a cough that sounds like I’m auditioning to be the newest tuberculosis poster girl.  Which means I’m sleeping even worse, cue sinister music for vicious feedback loop.  I’m also terrified that I’m going to pass this on to little Piper, so I’m stressing over that, even though I know the stress causes the little gerbil wheel in my head to spin ever faster out of my control.  Since I’m trying to keep as much distance as possible from my daughter- and ‘as possible’ is a pitiful amount since I’m primary and generally sole caregiver- she is wailing her pitiful ‘But-I’m-not-being-held’ cry that much more often.  More noise and a heaping serving of guilt add to my litany of woes.  The lack of sleep and sickness are also interfering with my proficiency at work.  When I’m on my A-game, I’m a pretty damn awesome waitress.  Even off my A-game, I still muddle through, since me at eighty percent is as good as most servers at a hundred percent.  I’m down to fifty percent or so, however, so I’m out of patience, making mistakes, and getting shittier tips than I’m used to.  For the sake of my bills, I can compensate for worse tips by working longer shifts and/or extra ones, but that is wearing me down further, and also burning goodwill among the few people I can call in chits for Piper-sitting duty.  Every problem tangles into every other, and I can’t seem to get any traction on any of them.  Sigh.

The cannon was performing its job poorly, so it had to be fired...

The cannon was performing its job poorly, so it had to be fired…

As I mentioned, Piper-sitting duty is an issue.  Yesterday I went to an interview at Thatchtower Gallery.  The job sounds a little out of both my comfort zone and skill set, assisting with the sales and presentation of high-end art, antiquities, and rarities.  However, Cao Richards, the gallery owner’s administrative assistant, is a regular at Giovanni’s, and she aggressively pitched the job to me.  The hours are good for me- office work from ten A.M. to three P.M. on three out of five weekdays- my choice which three- and Gala Exhibit nights from six P.M. until sometime between midnight and two A.M. on Thursday evenings.  The base pay is barely above minimum wage, but the job includes on-site daycare and significant bonuses whenever I contribute to a sale.  On days I work I would be out in time to work a night shift at Giovanni’s, and likewise I could work a Thursday lunch and still have time to get ready for Gala night.  Ms. Richards- she told me to call her Cao, but I still feel like that’s overfamiliarity- even offered to stretch a point if I get the job and let me drop Piper in the Gallery daycare if I’m working a weekday lunch shift at Giovanni’s, as long as I bring her a carryout order when I come to pick Piper back up.  The biggest expense is I will have to dress red-carpet fancy for Gala nights (which is a treat, albeit an expensive one…)

Since I didn’t have a sitter yesterday, I had to bring Piper along with me, and packing up a two month old is never a quick and easy proposition.  I meant to get up at eight for my ten o’clock interview, but since I didn’t fall asleep until sometime after six, I woke up in a panic to Piper screaming at 9:13.  I blearily washed my adderol down with some iced coffee, swapped my shower- usually a key portion of my waking up rituals- for a quick wipe of my armpits and crotch with a damp soapy cloth, rolled on deodorant, spritzed myself with Febreze, and tried to get Piper ready also.  I gave her thrush medicine, prepared two bottles to the just-add-formula stage, and measured two ziplock baggies of formula to just-add.  I shoved a spare fleece PJ, two bibs, some receiving blankets, a couple of toys, pacifier, spare paci, back-up spare paci, a half-dozen disposable diapers, diaper cream, and gas drops into one of my old back packs, and away we went.

All right, little girl, this must be the place where some future may await...

All right, little girl, this must be the place where some future may await…

I think the interview went well, although Ms. Richards warned me I probably won’t hear either way until after Valentine’s day since the job opening begins in March.  Piper slept quietly through the whole interview, stirring slightly when I got her out of her carrier for ‘Auntie Cao’ to meet and hold her, but otherwise was wiped out.  She didn’t even fuss when I put her back in her carrier, and she hates the carrier.  She was so calm I treated myself and took her with me to get some apartment furnishings from Grumble and to get a BBQ sandwich from City Barbecue and a mocha chip milkshake from Graeter’s.  I was surprised by how quiet Piper stayed, and as we drove home, I fantasized that maybe we had turned the corner on sleepless nights and that maybe my life wasn’t so bad after all.  Right now, I’m trying to pin that feeling in my memory like a butterfly in an album, so I can examine and cherish the beauty of ‘contentment’ whenever I wish, because the day tanked sharply when I got home.

This is why I'm a dangerous shopper.  I came looking for some chairs that match, and ended up looking at a neon burlesque sign...

This is why I’m a dangerous shopper. I came looking for some chairs that match, and ended up looking at a neon burlesque sign…

It had been about six hours, so the first thing I intended to do was give Piper her next dose of thrush medicine.  (In layman’s terms, thrush means my daughter has a yeast infection in her mouth.  Yeah, my first reaction was ‘what’s thrush?’ because I didn’t spend a lot of time around babies until I had one of my own, but my second reaction was, ‘ooh, that’s nasty’…)  I went to the counter to the left of the sink where I keep all the medicines in the apartment arranged, and as I looked, I realized I didn’t give Piper her thrush medicine that morning after all.  I gave her my prescription cough syrup instead.  Both bottles come from the same pharmacy and look the same.  I was sleep-deprived and time-crunched, but it doesn’t matter.  When you fuck up, the universe doesn’t pat you on the head, reassure you that it’s o.k. as long as you meant well, and grant you a mulligan.  The one small blessing was that I hadn’t given Piper the full 5 mL dose of Tussionex, but had followed the thrush medicine instructions, putting two mL into her mouth with a syringe, and swearing when she spit most of it out all over her and my outfits.  (Yes, swearing while she spits it up is actually part of the pharmacist’s instructions.  Really.  O.k., maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but that is the process we go through with every dose…)  Of course, even if you figure she only got one mL of cough syrup, given the disparity in body weights, Piper took four or five doses of cough syrup in that one go.  No wonder she was so restful; I drugged my baby!

To loosely quote Rudyard Kipling (read the entire, non-paraphrased poem here!), if you can keep your head when everyone else is losing theirs, you will rule the world and everything in it.  Part of why I regard my ADD as a mixed blessing is because when I’m on top form I can run multiple lines of thought, pick the relevant lines, and push those thoughts harder and faster then anyone.  When I’m in crisis mode, I can shunt the distracting thoughts aside for later, and I live by the old Terry Pratchett quote, “Personal isn’t the same as important.”  The problem is my mind is like a very powerful but poorly regulated engine.  I require a lot of effort and energy to control my unwieldy mind, and once I run out of juice, my mind runs amok, still running multiple lines of thought, but I can no longer control which lines are in focus and which lines are dragging me helter-skelter from what I need to be doing.  Sickness, stress, sleep-deprivation- my mental and emotional tanks were pegged squarely on ‘Empty’, and I shattered completely when I realized what I had done.  I’m not even sure how long I just stood there in my kitchen holding the phone while my mind circled through “I don’t know what to do.”; “I should call someone.”; “I should call X” (where X was some specific person); “Wait- if I call person X, bad consequence Y will happen.”; “So I shouldn’t call X.”; “I don’t know what to do!” over and over, with variations on both X and Y.  I was frantic and panicked enough I even worried my dad would arrest me or call children’s services if I called him.  I would have called Jonas Giovanni, and even cheerfully endured the litany of colorful profanity I assumed would receive and deserve, if I knew his cell number or thought he would have any answers to accompany the anger.  Instead the call I finally made was to Jeremy, the ex boyfriend I haven’t talked to since July 2013, when he left Giovanni’s shortly after I forced him to dump me.  Jeremy didn’t even know I had a daughter until I bawled that I could have killed her.

Dear God, please help me to be the mother my little angel deserves instead of the mother she got...

Dear God, please help me to be the mother my little angel deserves instead of the mother she got…

Jeremy has no urgency in his soul.  That was an infuriating trait in a coworker; no matter how many customers or servers were waiting for him, Jeremy did what he was going to do with the same unhurried, methodical pace.  As a boyfriend, however, he was amazing: always calm and unruffled, never distracted or riled by emotional outbursts.  Instead he leaned on his strong but quiet faith that things will work out, and they generally do, as if the universe would be embarrassed to disappoint him.  He didn’t take time to judge me or panic with me, he just confirmed I was still in the same apartment, told me he was on his way, and helped me work out who I really needed to call.  Unless something changed for the worse, there was no point to calling 9-1-1 almost five hours after I dosed Piper.  On the other hand, I needed to make sure there weren’t any lasting effects to beware, so I had to talk to someone with a medical background.  The pharmacist or Piper’s pediatrician were the obvious choices, and not only should the pediatrician know more about how babies react to medications, but I would need to tell her anyway if Piper risked any medium or long-term consequences from the overdose.  Which apparently she doesn’t.  The nurse told me to keep a close eye on her to make sure she didn’t stop breathing during the afternoon and to wake her up a couple of times to make sure she didn’t forget to eat since she is so tiny, but otherwise I didn’t even need to bring her in for an exam- although I had ran the risk of very bad things with my mistake, if any thing bad was going to happen, it already would have.  Ipso facto, Piper must be fine.

And Jeremy was still amazing.  He sat with me, watching me hold Piper and cry, for half an hour.  We caught up in general terms about our life after we quit being an ‘us’.  He’s an assistant manager now at one of the chain restaurants near the mall, living in suburbia.  He actually regularly attends the same mega-church I sporadically attend, although we wouldn’t have encountered each other since he goes to one of the satellite campuses and I tend to sneak into the back of the main campus after the service has started.  Between his new job and his new location, very few mutual acquaintances remained in both of our social circles, although we still had a slight overlap.  Most amazing was the way that there was none of the bitterness or awkwardness you would expect after an emotional breakup and eighteen months of silence; it was like the last year and a half never happened.  Jeremy even made me promise to stay in touch, and asked if there was any way he could help with Harper, maybe even watch her sometime if I needed a sitter.  I was reminded all over again how much Jeremy loved kids, that I had been the one who steadfastly maintained I wasn’t ready.  (I still don’t feel ready for motherhood.  I’m just more resigned to winging it while I’m unready.)

Hanging out with my sorrow and my melancholy...

Hanging out with my sorrow and my melancholy…

Really the only awkwardness was when Jeremy left.  He invited me to come by his new suburban house, that he was sure Valerie would love to meet me and Piper.  In fact, he would stay longer, but Valerie would be waiting for him.  Cue ominous foreboding as I ask the obvious question, “Oh, who’s Valerie?”

“My fiancee.”

Yeah, someday I may laugh about Piper getting dosed with cough syrup.  Someday I may laugh about reconnecting with Jeremy only to learn someone else is better connected.  Someday I may laugh about the fact all I need to thrive with my ADD is the opposite of what I actually have in my life.  Today, however, is not that day.

A few quick post scripts.  Since I was rather rushed getting ready, I just interviewed in the rather chic but casual ‘Bella Valentine’ outfit from Edelfabrik, doing my hair in the rather casual Heidi look from Tameless Hair and wearing minimal accessories.  I did intend to look at furniture at Grumble- my apartment is woefully under furnished and I generally just make one corner into a backdrop rather than truly live in a livable space- but I got distracted by all the ‘odds and sods’ currently available at the Grumble yard sale.  Grab this taxi and check it out for yourself.  And I think I may hate my firsty.  Usually a rather dark sense of humor, able to squeeze some humor out of any situation, is one of the traits we share in common, one reason why I’m sure I will someday feel better about this story.  It was definitely too soon, however, for firsty to spritely comment, “Well, you haven’t heard Piper cough once since you dosed her!” or to send me the link to this music video

Gallery  —  Posted: January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized
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