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Writer's Block: Rise and shine

What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
Pre-Ember, my first awakened action would be to swear at the alarm on workdays, roll over and go back to sleep on non-workdays.

Now that I have my Munchkin kitty Ember in my life...my first action when I awaken is to grin at her, pet her hello, marvel at how she sleeps so loyally right next to my pillow...then swear at my alarm on workdays or roll over for more sleep on non-workdays. :)

Meme ganked from Fancy on FA.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Got a ticket. D8 I've never been ticketed before. IT SUCKS. Fortunately it isn't a moving violation so it could be worse.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any last time around, actually.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
I think Mechanical Hyena and Torakhan told me they were kidnapping me unless I was in Canada, but I've since forgotten what they said was happening then so...I dunno.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My kitties Sam and Shadow both passed.

5. What countries did you visit?
Canada. This is normal for me. Hell, once in a while I say something more "there" than "here" and then declare "OOPS, my Canadian is showing." The word "eh" is still part of my active vocabulary.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I...don't know. I'd have to give it way more thought than I'm currently willing to devote to this meme.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
None. I'm terrible at remembering specific dates. I do better at remembering actual events, not when they happened.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
GROOMING ACADEMY!!!! I am now a professional petstylist, aka GROOMER. I am a dog groomer and proud of it!!!

9. What was your biggest failure?
No big ones, just a whole seething slew of minor ones.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes. Lots of minor shit. Hurt my back a couple of times, my left shoulder STILL flares up now and again. Crap like that. Also I've had several colds and things.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well...since there WAS an adoption fee, I guess it counts as "buying" so...Ember. :D She's already meshed into my life so well I can't imagine not having her here. Like the famous saying goes (or rather, is paraphrased) whoever says you can't buy love forgot about little short-legged kitties. <3!!!!

12. Where did most of your money go?
RENT, UTILITIES, MY CAR, MY PETS. Where the fuck ELSE would it go?! D:

13. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Uhhhh, none? I don't listen to much new music so I dunno?

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Oh god, so many things. More art, more traveling, more furry conventions, oh gods, so many things that got put off or cancelled or just plain didn't get done.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Grieving, procrastinating, self-doubting.

16. What was your favorite TV program?
I've been mainlining Deadwood (entire series) and Bones (season 5). Neither is particularly new but I'm seeing them for the first time so nyah. ;)

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate is too strong a word. I don't feel enough to classify it as hate.

18. What was the best book you read?
The Cat Who'll Live Forever, by Peter Gethers.

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Uhhhhnone? Wasn't this already asked above somewhere?

20. What was your favorite film of this year?
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. So much crazy love for that film!!!! SRSLY, GO WATCH IT.

21. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Uhh well I think I had to work, and then Torakhan and I ate food and it was kindof awesome except my dad forgot. :P I was...late twenties? Shit I forget how old I am. I think I'll be 29 or 30 next May so...uhh, 28 or 29? IF EVER THERE WAS PROOF I HAVE A DISABILITY WHERE NUMBERS ARE CONCERNED, HERE IT FUCKING IS. :P

22. What kept you sane?
My pets. :) They also drive me crazy so it's like a nice little closed-circuit cycle. ;)

23. Who did you miss?
A lot of folk. :(

24. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:
Acceptance. Accept the way things are and instead of pining for how they should have been, work to change it in ways you can and accept what you cannot fix. Accept yourself and accept that things don't have to stay the same if the situation isn't healthy or productive. Have the guts to take care of yourself first...you can't save people if you aren't willing to save yourself or, gods willing, let anyone else try to help.

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Writer's Block: Good eats

What's your favorite holiday food? Is there any holiday dish you hate?
I am a huge fan of warm beverages, and there always seems to be plenty around winter holidays. Coffees in a plethora of flavors, a veritable cornucopia of teas and of course, things like hot spiced cider. Even the infamous eggnog, though it be chilled, is a favorite. I love these drinkable delights!

Plus the holidays make my dad a little less stingy with his best booze. Tonight, for example, I got to sample a twelve-year-old corn whiskey of a brand I've not heard of; it was a very fine "reserve" and he said it was an absolute steal at $50 a bottle. There I sat, enthralled by what could possibly be the finest whiskey I've ever sipped at, and wondering if I've ever spent $50 total on a year's worth of whiskey. When you drink the absolute cheapest shit on the market, it makes the good stuff even better.

Can't think of a holiday edible that I hate, actually.

Writer's Block: Spreading the cheer

Do you decorate your home for the holidays? If so, when do you put your decorations up and when do you take them down?
I like to decorate for Yule. I like to have a nice tree (fake of course, I don't support tree-genocide), some garlands, holiday and winter themed things. I love holiday lights and love to toss them up everywhere.

This year I simply don't have time, but I plan to help my dad decorate HIS house instead. Every year since I was very small, we've had both a tree and a large, ornate handmade garland of sorts on the mantle above the fireplace. To make the garland, my dad would trim up some of his trees and bushes in the yard as well as sometimes buy broken or damaged trees that were otherwise unsellable, then salvage them for their branches alone. He'd then carefully lay the branches and trimmings on the mantle, adorning it with large pine cones, real holly, and very beautiful handmade ornaments. He'd also put in large/tall candles, to light the whole thing. His clock (think miniature giant clock with pendulums) would be in the center, in it's place.

The real garland my dad makes is superficially the same every year but it is always different as well. No two have ever been alike, and I love it. It looks so beautiful, smells like evergreen and cinnamon, it is hands down my favorite decoration of the whole year. Someday when I own my patch of land, my home must have a large fireplace...partly because I dearly love it, but also because I want to make this little tradition my dad has started into my own. I want to share this with the kiddo...and someday maybe he'll share it with his. Relaxing in front of a roaring fire, the glittering candle-lit garland above, smelling those wonderful smells, enjoying a warm coffee or chilled eggnog the night before the Christian holiday morn (I may be heathen but my family largely is not, and I'm cool with it so long as nobody steps on toes)...it is one of the reasons Yule is my favorite holiday. A time for family...a time for reflection. Those night-before memories are precious to me. The joy and warmth cannot be described.

This year my dad and I have both been busy. Neither of us has much time. I know I won't get the house here decorated in time and I won't distress trying. My dad admitted he isn't too inclined to decorate either...and I refused to accept that. I don't care if we don't have a tree, but I want that garland on the mantle, even if I have to do it myself.

My dad seemed really proud and honored that it has become so important to me...after all, years ago, it was his idea. He'd bought a tree (back when we had live trees for the holiday) too tall and had to trim off some bottom branches and thought it a waste to just throw them out, so he tossed them onto the mantle with some holly and candles...and right before my eyes created my favorite decoration not only of the Yule/Christmas/insert-your-faith's-wintery-holiday-here, but of the whole year.

Thinking about it puts a smile on my face. :)

Also, to more fully answer the question, the decorations get put up whenever we have time, and get taken down whenever we have time. No set date or anything.
If you unexpectedly won a $10,000, how would you spend it?
Honestly, I probably wouldn't. Okay, I mean sure, I might take my friends out to dinner someplace nice to celebrate, I'd buy the kiddo something really awesome, and I'd get some dental work done and some medical crap taken care of. After that, though...the rest would go into my bank account to just sort of exist there, in case of emergency.

I mean really, ten thousand is a nice chunk of change, but it isn't as if I could quit my job and live off of it or something. ;) It would make a nice bit of padding though, in case of another veterinary emergency or something. Hell, I could even justify commissioning a few really high-end artists for some sketches, but...yeah, no, I wouldn't do much of anything crazy or extravagant.

Also I once again feel my inner former-English-major weeping a little on the inside. Really, "unexpectedly won a $10,000"? Seriously? Why did they not omit the extra "a" in there? I mean, "unexpectedly won $10,000" would be far more accurate, grammatically speaking. I'm pretty sure my cats have a better grasp of the written word than some of the folk who write these questions.

Oh, and yes, I'd go out and buy a latte, too. I adore them. ;)

Writer's Block: Ready, steady, read

What is the best book you've read this year, and why?
This year's best book, for me anyways, was The Cat Who'll Live Forever. No, I am not talking about Lillian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who" series...it is by Peter Gethers about his beloved cat, Norton. It is the third of three books he's written about his gray Scottish Fold, and while it was written some time ago, I staunchly refused to read it.

When I was in High School, I read the first two books about Norton, and loved them. They were and still are some of my favorite books. I even wrote to Mr. Gethers once, asking a few questions and for some clarification on things in the books, and to of course proclaim how much I enjoyed his writing. His reply (hand-typed on a typewriter, and signed no less!) was kind, informative and answered all of my questions, and only made me respect him and his lovely cat even more. Most authors I've written to never replied...hell I'm unsure if they ever received my letters.

ANYWAYS.

Like many, MANY people, I adored Norton. I may never have met him but I loved him; reading about his antics, and his relationship with his human companion...I adore that little cat.

When I heard that the third book about Norton was out, I went out straightaway to buy it...and saw the title. And read the blurb. And realized...oh my god, NORTON IS DEAD.

I set the book down, turned away, and never looked at it again. Somehow I figured, if I never read the book, I could blissfully pretend Norton is still alive somewhere, charming cat lovers and anti-cat people alike, sampling fine fare in Europe's best restaurants or enjoying a vacation on Fire Island. If I never read the words, it was like it never happened, right?

In short, I was too afraid to deal with the loss of a cat I've never even met. Cowardly, sure.

Problem is, I knew. I couldn't NOT know. Hiding myself from that fact failed to keep that anxiety and grief away. There was nothing to be done.

When I had to have my beloved Shadow euthanized...well, first of all it was too soon after Sam, and frankly I just wasn't sure how to cope with it. Shadow was a wonderful, beautiful cat...and a part of my family. An important part of my life. I didn't really know what to do with myself...I don't always handle grief and loss very well. Give me the death of a human, and I'm more or less okay, s'not like I haven't had to come to grips with that kind of loss...but I cope so well in part due to my reliance on my pets. To have to deal with the loss of one of my companion animals...I was feeling loss and at a loss.

I ordered the book The Cat Who'll Live Forever. Suddenly it felt very important that I read it. I don't even understand why it felt so important to me...perhaps some part of me felt that if Shadow was gone at least Norton would have led the way. I really don't know. What I do know is how glad I am that I finally read the damn book...it was beautiful, and while of course saddening, it also presented a lot of joy, hope and self-discovery for Mr. Gethers. It also made me feel as if I'm not alone...we've all suffered loss and pain and grief, if we haven't then we either haven't lived long enough or we haven't been living at all, just existing. I learned a lot from reading the book and at long last I can face the loss of both a cat I've never met and a cat who I've shared my home and my life with for many years: by focusing on what they taught the people around them about life and how to live.

I know it may sound sappy but it's true...and I'm grateful to Mr. Gethers for sharing some of his relationship with his companion, Norton.

Lastly, the epilogue in the edition I bought made me feel comfortable and confident in moving forward with myself in light of my grief. It also makes me feel happy and grateful to have dear little Ember with me now, curled up and napping under my desk.

The sad fact is that no companion animal ever seems to live long enough to suit their human friends, but even when facing the loss of a loved pet, we should be grateful they were a part of our lives at all, and be glad of the time we have or had with them, and remember all the goodness and joy they brought us. All of that is worth the pain when they pass.

I'd rather suffer grief for her death than have never known Shadow at all. Mr. Gethers and his cat Norton have helped me to realize that fact.
Who has most influenced you the most creatively, and how?
First off all that was terribly worded. "Who has most influenced you the most creatively, and how?" Seriously? PROOFREAD, PEOPLE. I mean, okay, I post failtastic English-language-slaughtering posts (I begin sentences with And and But way too often, I abuse double negatives and rape punctuation) but at least I recognize my failure and I do so intentionally 98% of the time.

The way this was worded is just wonky. It took me several minutes to "get" it. A better way to phrase it might have been "Who has most creatively influenced you and how?" As it stands, it's super-redundant and confusing.

Also I don't think that comma needs to be there. I know, it's been a while since I was an English major in college, but I do believe it is inaccurate.

OH WELL, WHATEV'S.

To actually answer the question: I don't know. I'd have to really contemplate what is and is not creative influence. Are we talking about my artistic inspiration and/or skill? Do we mean my morality and sense of self or my concept of right versus wrong? Too open-ended for my tastes.

Plus I totally got my First! Ticket! Evar! tonight and while the police officer was very polite and professional, I'm kicking myself for the stupid situation I am now in. Suffice to say I need to do some serious work to get this straightened, if I'm lucky the fines will be reduced to like $50 total. The irony: it isn't entirely my fault. I'm not blameless, nor am I claiming to be, but...I'm not the core problem.

Still...lesson learned, be proactive about shit and stop trusting other people to actually uphold their word unless they have proven themselves trustworthy in the past. I need to prioritize myself and whom I trust.

Who knows? Maybe by flexing my spine a little, proving I have a backbone, I might be the one to creatively influence other people. :)

Writer's Block: That's good eats

What was your favorite childhood meal? Do you still love it? Does it taste as good as you remember it?
My favorite of all time has to be venison OR lamb, made in almost any way. I love that delicious, deeply red lean meat...especially venison steaks or lamb chops, grilled on a charcoal grill, seasoned to perfection and nearly raw, purple and room-temperature at BEST in the middle.

And yes, it still tastes just as good now as when I was a small child. I could forsake beef and pork and live on nothing but venison and lamb for the rest of my life. GLADLY. I'd even give up BACON to eat venison or lamb every day forever.

I love meat...the darker red, the better...the leaner, the better...the more flavorful, THE BETTER.

Damn, now I wanna go buy some lamb chops and try to get my mini table grill goin' so I can have a meal fit for royalty. ;) Some long-grain wild rice on the side...a baked sweet potato with butter and molasses and sugar on top...some garlic bread...and a bottle of that wheat beer, that lovely Hoegaarden (sp?) stuff, poured just right...oh goddamn it, I just ate dinner and I'm hungry again. FUCK SAKES.

But yes. Meat is love. Hence my icon by the talented Paiseley of the muley Mavado eating a chunk of lamb with the bone in. ;) OMNOM MEAT.

Writer's Block: Cold turkey

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? If so, how does your celebration vary from traditional holiday rituals?
My family's Thanksgiving tradition isn't odd or unusual or variant or deviant in any way from the stereotypical norm. The only exception is that over the years, there's fewer and fewer of us to celebrate it. Today we managed to rope Mary Ann into it, so there was actually four people at the table. Awesome!

We ate a tonne of clementine oranges, cheese and crackers for appetizers, then wolfed down a bunch of casseroles, stuffing, potatoes, fresh fruit, butter rolls and of course turkey slathered liberally with cranberry sauce. My dad's pies or, this year, non-plural pie followed the meal a short time after.

Nothing really special or fancy, just...people eating food. :)

Robot Unicorn: HEAVY METAL EDITION.

OMG, I go offline for just a few months and they come out with a new edition of Robot Unicorn. OHMAHGAWD.

And I love it. ;)

Made two new icons from it, too...FEAR MY MAD SCREENCAPPING SKILLZ!!!

and

I'm so proud. ;)

EDIT: Ohalso, just made this: