Oh No, Not Again!

If anything can go wrong, it will.

My Father, The Asshole

For a long time I avoided having to speak on the phone to my father very much by virtue of being unable to accept collect calls without paying a hefty deposit to my phone company. (Never mind the fact that I’ve had the same home phone number and account for fifteen years, or that we’ve always paid the bill, and that a huge deposit to allow us to accept collect calls seems unreasonable in these circumstances, it was convenient for me to just say that I couldn’t do it without paying the deposit). Since he, as an inmate of a correctional facility, didn’t exactly have a regular long distance plan of his own, phone calls were rare. By rare I actually mean they never happened.

And then my father discovered that he could pre-pay for his calls if he had money on his books.

I suppose that one positive thing that I can say about my father is that he has a great work ethic. He’ll work long hours without complaint, and he’ll even ask for overtime. Despite the low wages an inmate receives, he’s got plenty of money on his books to pre-pay for phone calls. Apparently so much that for the next week he intends to call me every single day.  Every day because I’m leaving on the first of next month and, pre-paid or not, he won’t be able to call while I’m abroad for the next three months.

Yesterday’s call is still fresh in my mind. Probably because it still has me seething just a little bit.

I suppose the call started pleasantly enough. Within two minutes, though, the tone went downhill entirely. “How’s the weather” turned into “I don’t watch the news any more, it’s too depressing” which turned into “this nation is more wicked than Sodom and Gomorrah before the Lord destroyed it” which then became “It’s not enough that we’ve got all these homos, but now they get to get married, too”.

My dad said the look on my face was enough to make him clear the room.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve known for a very long time that my father is a horrible bigot. I spent a fair few of my formative years in a household where religious, ethnic, and racial slurs were tossed around casually by one parent while the other tried to teach me how hurtful and wrong that behaviour was. I’m thankful that I had my mother to show me what kind of person I wanted to be.

There are a million things that I can think of now that I wish I had said to my father. I’ve had time. Whether I should have been surprised by what he said or not, though, I certainly was. Surprised and angry.

I suppose I should be thankful I have my father to show me what kind of person I don’t want to be.

Preparing To Travel

I’m just going to put it right out there and say that I’m a nervous, anxious sort of person.  At least about a fair few things.

I don’t like heights.  And by this I mean that I don’t even care to use step-stools or to stand on a chair to reach something on the upper shelves of my cabinets.

I’m no fan of small spaces. You’ll never find me hiding in a closet, even if it’s the last place to go in a zombie apocalypse. I’d just let the damn zombies have me for dinner, because I’m far less afraid of them than I am of being in a small space.

I am not particularly brilliant at talking to strangers.  I wish that all I meant by this is that I’m not particularly good at making conversation, but no, I really mean that I get anxious and nervous at the thought of having to approach someone I don’t know and speak to them, at all.  Even to ask for directions.

I don’t like public restrooms. It’s not that I freak out about germs; I wash my hands and if there aren’t seat covers for the toilets, I will hover, but I don’t think this is particularly abnormal behaviour when it comes to public facilities. I just can’t proceed to do what you’re meant to do in a restroom where other people are already present or could enter the room at any moment.

So, why am I getting on a plane, allowing myself to be packed like a sardine in with a lot of strangers, and shot tens of thousands of feet into the air for many hours? (At least the airplane’s restroom isn’t a public restroom, even if it is ridiculously small).  Obviously I love my fiance significantly more than I fear any of those things.

Because of his work schedule, Alex is not going to be meeting me at the airport. So I get to try to figure out how to get myself from London to St. Erth all by my little lonesome. Alex assures me this is easy. In fact, here are Alex‘s directions:

Directions from Airport to St. Erth

I still think I may wind up lost. In a foreign country. 4,132 miles from home.

At least I (mostly?) speak the language.

It’s just a little over a week before I leave, and I’m still waiting on the suitcase I purchased to be delivered. After Alex‘s trip here, I realised that I definitely needed a little suitcase on little wheels so as not to have to haul anything particularly heavy through huge airports. And I’m way too nervous about lost luggage to check anything.   I think I might need some of those plastic bags you hook your vacuum up to to suck all the air out of them to manage to fit everything I’m going to need into the thing, though. I’m going to live for 3 months out of a suitcase designed to fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane.

But, I get to be with Alex.  Provided I don’t get lost. So I’m really not complaining. It’s completely worth it.

Self-Hosted WordPress Woes

There are a lot of things that I love about running a self-hosted WordPress blog. I love that I have complete control over everything; the plugins installed & available to me, and being able to create or download any theme I like without paying anything extra.

WP is, and has been for some time, the best blogging software around, in my opinion. Sure, there are other great options, too, but having tried several of them over the years, it is always WP that I come back to.

There are some things that I’m not a huge fan of, though.

As a self-hosted WP blog, I don’t have the “reblog” option.  Anyone wishing to share any of my content can still do so, but it’s not as quick & simple as having that reblog  option.  You’ve got to copy/paste and manually create a link to my original post, if you want to do the same thing that the reblog function does.

If I want to allow visitors to comment using their WP credentials, or their Facebook or Twitter credentials, I have to enable JetPack comments. Now, JetPack has some awesome features for self-hosted WP blogs, but I feel that JetPack comments are causing more problems than they’re worth.

So I’ve disabled that part of the JetPack suite of plugins.

Sadly, this means you can’t just login with your WP account (or any of the other options JetPack comments provides), and it may mean that you will have to go through comment moderation again due to the switch back to WP‘s native comments system.  I’m sorry for that, but I’m afraid I really do prefer the native comments due to the quirks and issues with JetPack comments.  One of the quirks I’m hoping this fixes is the issue with long comments screwing everything up. So I’m crossing my fingers.

Dear Windows 8.1

I hate you.

To be honest with you, Windows, hate doesn’t even begin to accurately describe how I feel. Every time that I have to interact with you, I cringe just a little bit.

I’ve tried to give you time, thinking that perhaps once I got past the unfamiliarity with you, that I might learn to appreciate you, at least a little bit. The more I get to know you, though, the more I really do loathe you.

Just a massive pain in my ass is what you are, Windows.

Let’s talk about Tuesday.  Tuesday, I decided that it would be nice to watch a movie with Alex, and so I double-clicked on the file, your native Video application opened up, and you proceeded to inform me that I required an update to the app before I could proceed. Fair enough, I’m not opposed to updating software, particularly when it is meant to improve quality and performance, or allow for more file types, what have you.

You had a huge problem with updating the software, though, Windows. When I clicked the link in the Video app to update, you told me that I needed updates to three apps in total. Reader, Video, and Music. I clicked your friendly little install button, and waited for the apps to download. I did my part. Your job was to download and install these three updates, and you failed me, Windows.

You informed me that the apps could not be installed, and rather than giving me any useful information about why that was, you gave me an error code.  That’s fine, you uncommunicative little shit. I got skills, baby.  And by skills, I mean “Google”.

Unfortunately, the exact error code didn’t have results of its own in search, but I did find other people having the same app installation woes. So, I went through each and every one of the suggestions I found from “gurus”, and guess what, Windows? You still wouldn’t co-operate! However, in going through each and every one of those suggestions, I did discover that you had neglected to register a bunch of .dll files that were necessary for the apps in question.

After hours of searching, and repeating some of those steps multiple times, you finally informed me that an update was pending, and I needed to restart my computer. So, I rebooted your sorry little ass, Windows. Once the computer was restarted, I tried again to update Reader, Music, and Video. Still, you insisted there was a problem, and threw me the same useless error code. Still, determined to make things work, I went over all the steps as before, and finally you said that the apps were updated.

Only, they actually weren’t. I opened Video again, and you informed me that those three apps still needed updates.  I threw my hands up and walked away from it, and watched my movie using VLC instead. (Which I downloaded after giving up on you, Windows).

On Wednesday, while Alex was at work, I decided I would try again to convince you to update Reader, Music, and Video.  You decided this time that you would proceed with the updates, and actually install them. Hooray!

Only, after you updated Reader, Music, and Video, when I attempted to open any of those three apps, they would immediately minimise.  Not crash, mind you, but minimise. When I’d maximise the window, they would just minimise again. Over and over. So, sure,  you updated my apps you little monster, but you broke them in the process? These are built-in, and as far as I can tell there’s no way to remove them. So, I guess I just have a bunch of useless shit sitting there taking up space? Hello VLC, Calibre & Adobe Reader, and iTunes, which my iPod was going to demand I install anyway, I guess.

Today, I double clicked a video file without thinking about it at all, thought “Oh shit” as Video proceeded to open, and then…

Everything works perfectly.

What the hell is wrong with you, Windows 8.1? Honestly!

Oh, and by the way, I do see your little notification about Windows 10 down there in the system tray. It’s a trap, Windows, and I know it. I’m not falling for it.

14K Fridays: Week 4

Technically I should be farther along than week four, but I’m nothing if not inconsistent.

  1. Booking plane tickets. Being able to travel somewhere, but especially if it’s to see someone you love.
  2. Making new friends.
  3. Peach Mango Sunny D. Oh, seriously, it’s delicious.
  4. The little domestic things you do together with your significant other. Cooking. The grocery shopping. Maybe it’s because I don’t usually get to do these things with Alex that I’ve learned to really appreciate them.
  5. When someone you care for lets you know that they appreciate you.  I mentioned in a previous post that my little cousin Dylan is often in my care, and he’s had some serious injuries. The other day, when I was discussing leaving for England, Dylan told me, “I’m mad you’re going before I’m all better”.  It’s not as if he came right out and said thanks, but I still understood it to mean that he likes having me around to look after him.
  6. Red licorice. I cannot stand black licorice, though. Seriously, ew.
  7. When Alex calls me on his lunch break. I miss him very much when he’s working, and it’s nice to know that he misses me, too.
  8. Spring. As someone who is not a huge fan of snow, it’s always really nice to see it start to melt away, and the flowers start to bloom.
  9. The silly things you hear when your significant other is dreaming or talking while still only half-awake. This morning, Alex woke and mumbled to me, “Stop trying to sell my kidneys. We can afford the plane tickets, it’s fine”. I had to mute the microphone I was giggling so hard. For the record, I’d sell my own kidneys before I’d try to sell his.
  10. Receiving random compliments from strangers. Well, as long as they aren’t creepy compliments.

Seriously, I’m Not Dead

I swore when I started this blog that I was going to keep it going. Thankfully, it was a vow I was making to myself, so I don’t feel too terribly guilty about having been “missing in action”.

Okay, I feel a little bit guilty.

Life has been, to say the least, interesting and busy around these parts.

My cousin Dylan, who is very often left in my care, has broken bones. I’m pleased to say that these things didn’t happen on my watch, but… the poor kid. As if the first break wasn’t enough, he took a baseball to the face and now has his jaw wired shut.  He’s living on apple sauce, pudding, jello, mashed potatoes, and broth. Oh, and occasionally, ice cream.

And then there’s my father. My father whom I have very mixed feelings about. I love him, but I don’t like him very much. Contact is thankfully minimal, because he’s in prison in South Carolina, more than 1,000 miles away, but what contact there is is often unpleasant.

I’m not particularly religious, but every time my father lands in jail, he rediscovers G-d. When he does, he feels the need to “share the good news”.  What baffles me about this is that he knows full well how I feel about the subject of religion, he knows that I’ve heard “the good news”, and whatnot, and made an informed decision, and knows that the subject is a sore one with me, and yet still continues to push. He’s sent me a bible, a book by … Joseph Prince, I think it is? and plans on sending me another bible. Because apparently I need more than one. Let’s just ignore the fact that I have three or four of them already – the KJV which is neatly bound with the rest of the LDS scriptures, a women’s devotional one, and the NLV. There are several bibles in this house should I wish to read one.

Perhaps the most stressful thing to happen recently, though, is The Great Travel Agency Ordeal of 2015.

Yes, it is such a big deal that it’s a named event. A capitalised named event.

Continue reading

Love Is Love

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down bans on same-sex marriage throughout the country as of 26 June 2015 in a five-to-four vote.

Writing the majority opinion for the court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy had these words to say:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

By the time that I sat down at my computer yesterday, the news was everywhere. People were celebrating in streets, and some were ready to tie the knot in states that had been holding out against same-sex marriage. In my own home state, one of the thirteen that were still holding out against same-sex marriage, the first marriage licenses for same-sex couples were issued immediately following the decision.

I have tried, despite my strong feelings, to listen to both sides of the debate. I have tried to understand why and how any person, or persons, could be affected in any way, by who other people choose to marry. I have heard those who say “Well, for example, my health insurance costs may rise because all of a sudden more people are eligible for coverage”. (As in benefits for spouses). Are you kidding me?

What I have not been able to work out is how any of the opposition to same-sex marriage is based on anything other than a religious or spiritual belief. To deny someone the same rights, liberties, and privileges as you, based on a religious or spiritual belief is, in my opinion, wrong. If you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman only, you are entitled to that belief – what you are not entitled to do is insist that everyone else believe it, or live their lives according to that belief. Not everyone believes as you do, and that is their right.

I have heard the arguments that people (as in members of the clergy) may find themselves “forced” to participate in weddings that they do not agree with or condone. I have heard the arguments regarding churches and other religious facilities being required to allow same-sex marriages to take place within their confines. I do not think that the two things are inextricably linked. As an individual, I believe that you have the right to refuse to provide a service you are uncomfortable with providing, whether you are clergy, a baker, a wedding planner, or what have you. (Let’s not be idiots about this, folks, honestly!)

I also believe that there are not that many individuals out there who would even want those services provided by someone they knew was not wholly at ease with the circumstances. Even if that were not the case, though, I believe that no court would force a person to participate in a wedding that they did not support.

Allowing same-sex couples the right to marry is not synonymous with stripping away the rights of the religious, or those that don’t agree with it, for whatever reason.

As someone recently engaged I can only imagine the heartbreak if I had said yes, but then been denied the right to follow through.

Happy Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day – at least here in the U.S. – so I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge my dad, who, at least to me, is the best dad, even if he’s not my biological father.

We’ve had our rough patches, and neither of us are perfect people, but I wouldn’t trade him for all the world.

My biological father – well, I don’t wish him any ill, but that relationship is rocky, to put it very mildly. He’s been imprisoned twice in the years that I’ve been alive, and neither of them have been short stays. Factor in the time I’ve not spent with him, and the fact that he’s been abusive both towards myself and my mother, and it’s fair to say that we don’t actually have much of a relationship at all.

Nevertheless, I’m thankful for him. If nothing else, for being half responsible for my existence, and for showing me what a good dad isn’t.

One day I’m hoping I have good reason to wish Alex “Happy Father’s Day”. I think he’ll be a wonderful dad… but not trying to put the horse before the cart here. First, we’ve got to get that permanent residency thing sorted out.

Two Weeks of Bliss

Alex

Beautiful, isn’t he?

I spent two weeks waking up every morning to this face. It was the happiest two weeks of my life.

Yesterday morning, I had to say goodbye. My heart feels like it’s in a million tiny pieces right now. He tells me, and I tell myself, that the separation is only temporary, that as soon as I’m cleared to fly I’m headed in his direction. My heart still feels so broken. The distance in our relationship was difficult when I had no idea what it was actually like to fall asleep in his arms, or be able to reach out and touch him, or kiss him. Now, though, I know those things, and I know exactly what it is to be missing them.

It’s okay. It’s only for a while

Very little went according to plan.  It’s quite a long story, but we were forced to spend our two weeks in a hotel. We didn’t really go very many places, essentially just out for food & supplies. Even so, all I cared about was that he was there, with me. He swears it was the same for him; that everything that went wrong doesn’t matter at all.

He makes me ridiculously happy, and I am, as far as I can tell, the luckiest girl in the world.

Oh, but I no longer have a boyfriend.

I have a fiance.

The Engagement Ring

The Engagement Ring

I’m Not Dead

It’s been a long time.

Alex‘s trip to visit fell through. Largely because of misunderstandings and assholes. But, at least that’s already been rescheduled, and he’ll be here Saturday.

It’s a bit embarrassing, the thing that caused Alex‘s trip to be rescheduled. I’m not sure that I’m prepared to make those details public, but let me just state for the record that one should always be very careful about halving or crushing any medications designed to be released into the system over a period of time.  At best, accidental overdosing is inconvenient.  My stay in the hospital was beyond merely inconvenient.

I’m sick of hospitals.

On a happy note, though, it means I still have Alex‘s visit to look forward to, which means I’m not yet mourning his departure.