Friday, December 31, 2010

I Gave a Baby Girl a Home

Penny cuddling Bluebear.
This is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down...

Ok, I'm sorry for that. It just seemed appropriate. This is Penny's story.

I have always wanted a cat. My goal from the time I got to college was to own two kittens. I was going to get a grey and black striped tabby, and an all-black cat with just a tiny little patch of white on its chest. I was going to name them Bink and Bonk (I'm a big fan of silly names, and it seemed like perfect little names for two playful little boy kittens) and we were all going to live happily ever after.

Well, needless to say, once I moved out of the dorms, I realized just how little money I actually had. I couldn't even afford to feed myself half the time, much less take care of kittens. That would just be cruel. So, I gave up on my dream of having kittens until after I already had the necessary things like a degree, a steady job, and steady meal times.

Itty Bitty Baby Penny.
Flash forward to the end of my year in Germany. I've just found some great roommates and we were discussing living arrangements. I'd be living with 4 other people, 2 dogs and a cat (read: a zoo). I was looking forward to it, but I knew once again that there was no way I'd be able to bring more animals into the house. A few days later, one of my roommates told me about how she had found a kitten on the side of the road. She was only about 4 weeks old, and she was sick with pneumonia, but they had taken her to the vet and she was well on her way to recovery. She posted a picture of the kitten on Facebook, and my heart was completely melted. She was this little orange fluffball with little orange tiger stripes, and she looked so sweet, even though she was sleeping in the picture. I begged my new roommates to let us keep her (they were originally going to give her away...You know, cause our house was already a zoo), and they agreed (it really didn't take much convincing). They decided to name her Penelope, or Penny for short (I wasn't too fond of the name, but I was hopelessly outvoted. But the name suits her now, so it all works out).

Penny with Butterball and Klaus. She loves to snuggle with
stuffed animals.
I moved into the house about a month after they found her. As soon as I saw her in person for the first time, I was in love. I picked her up, and she just started purring with the loudest purrbox I've ever heard in a little kitten. She curled up on my boobs and went straight to sleep. It was so adorable.

There was a bit of drama when I first arrived involving the other cat. Aya (the older cat) was not happy about moving to a new house, and she was really unhappy about not being the only cat in the house anymore. So she took to marking her territory. It got so bad, we thought we were going to have to get rid of the kitten. Fortunately, we decided to keep Penny in the master bedroom (it had an adjoining bathroom, and since she was so little, she still had lots of room to play around and not feel confined), and the territoriality of Aya drastically reduced.

Penny also likes to read. 
Still, that was only a temporary solution. She is a devious little kitten, and loved to escape the bedroom just to play with the older cat. Eventually, we decided that she was getting a little big for the room, and enough time had passed, so we allowed her access to the whole house. The house remained free of pee or poop (except in litter boxes), so Penny was finally granted her freedom.

Another cost we didn't consider initially was annual shots and eventually spaying. Penny was not happy to have her lady bits removed, and she turned from the once happy and loving kitty to angry, angsty teenage kitty. It was a dark time in our household. Fortunately, however, she went back to being a happy kitty a few weeks after her surgery.

Despite hating baths, Penny loves to play in the bathtub.
Her favorite activities are pouncing, playing with the springy door stopper in my room, going up in my boxsprings and attacking my feet as I walk by, tormenting Aya, and lately, attempting to find out what "outside" is all about. She's discovered the trick which I like to call "the super jump". I'll be standing, and I'll nod my head or move somehow, and she somehow jumps from a standstill all the way up to my butt in an attempt to protect me... from my own hair. It's very cute, but very painful.

It's a Penny in your pocket!
All in all, she's getting pretty big now. Soon, she'll be a grownup kitty, though the vet said that she's a bit of a runt, so she'll always be small for her age. I love her to death, and I thought I should introduce ya'll to her.
Keegan napping with Penny.
Penny and Klaus got in a fight. She's winning, I think.

She's not happy I woke her up.

A hormonal teenager cuddling me.

The most recent picture. She's almost a grownup now.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today, A Poem...About Sex (Mostly SFW)

But first, I shall indulge in a little history lesson.

It turns out, I can only write poetry when I'm not happy. This means, that typically while I'm dating someone, I will have no inspiration, and no poems will leak from my pen (or computer keyboard, as the case may be). 'Tis an ironically sad / happy time that leaves me mostly confused.

This poem came during a time when I had been single for about a year, and the lonely bug had hit me pretty hard. I'd had a couple of *ahem* relations with a couple of guys, and was really feeling kinda guilty about it for a while. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my guilt wanted to be released, in some way or another. Could it be *gasp* inspiration? Turns out, it wasn't. Just gas. Oops.

A couple of days later, I was using, and I came across something that had to do with the Seven Deadly Sins (it's right here. Her works are absolutely amazing, but the Sins series is by far her best work). Now this got me thinking, and words actually made sense when I wrote them down this time! It took about 2 months before I actually finished it and polished it up (actually took getting turned down by another guy before I actually finished it).

So, without further ado, here it is!

7th Sin

Give me your seventh sin
Take your pleasure, breathe it in
Bring me fire in rampant rush
Let me taste a hint of lust
Engorge ourselves with human need
Indulge in luscious gluttony
Let’s lose ourselves in heat of passion
D*mn consequences of our actions!
Not love, but lust is all I ask
Demand from you this simple task
Someone to f*ck, to bang, to screw!
The only target near is you
You have just what I know I need
So I’ll embrace my wanton greed
I’ll play straight to your vanity
On hands and knees I’ll beg and plead
Excitement mixed with hints of wrath
That I must go along this path
When it ends, start feeling lost
I cannot move, I’m filled with sloth
Envy lies deep in my eyes
For I am only second prize
Daylight comes filled with regret
Am I so easy to forget?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I have a cold.

It always starts the same way. You wake up, and your nostril (left or right, I'll let you be creative) is stuffed up. You groan inwardly: partially because you don't feel good, but mostly because you realize how much you don't need this right now, because of your job, or school, or the big date, or because you simply don't want it to happen. You stand up, and after the initial dizziness which makes you lose your vision for a minute, you realize that your nose wasn't as sniffy as you thought it was. You force down some orange juice, and consider what other alternatives would be best for cold prevention. You decide on sheer will power.

The day proceeds, and you're feeling mostly ok, though a little off. Finally, you arrive back home and relax in your comfy chair. As you're reading / watching tv / reading my blog (I kid, I know no one ever really reads this thing), you realize that the stuffy nose is back, but you since you're wide awake, it's nothing you can't handle. When bedtime arrives, you decide to err on the safe side and take some NyQuil (or liquid hell, whichever name you may prefer). It doesn't take long until you've collapsed in your bed to experience the really weird dreams and a hope that you'll feel better in the morning.

Liquid hell.
Morning comes. Guess what? Not only has the snot moved from one nostril to the other (a phenomenon that astounds you every time you have a cold), but your cold has now gotten worse and to top it all off, you're groggy because of the bad decision that is NyQuil. This particular morning, the stuffiness doesn't go away after the vertigo of standing up. You drink half the carton of orange juice this morning, as well as take one of those vitamins that your aunt keeps giving to you because she swears they work 100% and she hasn't been sick since she started taking them even though you know she had a cold just a few months ago. Your appetite somehow disappears throughout the day, but that's probably because you're being fed a lifetime supply of goo from your nose. You finally make it home and fall asleep in your comfy chair because you weighed the benefits of actually getting to your bed and decided that death would be just as comfortable in a chair as it would in a bed (e.g., NOT).

You wake up the next day (or is it just a couple of hours later? You don't know, and you don't care), and you're somehow in your bed. You don't even question how this came to pass: you're too pissed off that you're still alive and whatever power above didn't see fit to ease you from your misery. You decide that there's no way you're moving from that spot to do anything unnecessary today (eating and going to the bathroom aren't necessary, right?), so you go to call in sick. Only your phone is in the other room, right by your comfy chair. Thus begins the debate of whether or not your boss really needs to know if you're sick or not. After what seems like an eternity (in actuality, only 7 minutes passed, 3 of which were when you accidentally dozed off and then re-awoke in a panic), you finally roll onto the floor and begin the crawl to your phone. This is the part where if you live with a spouse or a roommate, you're saved. Generally, your noises of agony and misery attract the attention of your housemate, and he or she will wonder why on earth you're lying on the floor halfway in the hallway. They will see you and take pity on you, and then force you back into your bed. If they are truly amazing roommates, they will call your boss for you, explain the situation, and then come back into your room with some soup and some medicine. Unfortunately, the only time this will work is if they're also your mom. Most likely, they might throw you your phone and will only help you out if you promise them favors which they will cash in on as soon as possible.

You don't look this cute.
A few days pass, and you're not getting any better. You've caught up on all the soap operas, know all of Jerry's catch phrases, and you haven't bathed since that first day you got sick (remember? you took that shower because you thought the steam would clear out your sinuses. Guess what: it didn't help). You have cracker crumbs in your bed, and you're very uncomfortable. You have a coherent thought through the fog: perhaps it's time to see a doctor. It's apparent at this time that the cold isn't going to "go away by itself" like you thought it would.

You call in another favor from your roommate, and he / she helps you to the bathroom. You turn on the shower and sit in the tub for a while, just letting the water bounce off of your head. After about an hour (or whenever the hot water runs out), you finally roll out of the tub, attempt to towel off, put on the nearest pair of PJs, and have your roommate take you to the doctor.

These things are heaven when
you're sick.
You wait in that waiting room for an hour with all the other sick people. You try to stay as far away from the puking kid as possible (there's always one), and at last you are finally successful at one thing. You count this avoidance as a personal victory, and are feeling proud right as the nurse calls you back. You roll out of your chair and do the zombie walk into the back room. She leads you to a room with that cool chair / bed thing, and you notice that she is trying really hard not to touch anything that you've touched, even though she put a thermometer in your mouth just a few minutes ago. You then start thinking about what kind of sickness you must really have. It must be really bad if a nurse is avoiding contact with you. Perhaps it is worse than you originally thought. Maybe you're deathly ill. Perhaps you're the cause of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. Maybe you're going to die. That has to be it...Your illness is so bad that you're going to die and the nurse doesn't want to catch it and you really start freaking out...when the doctor wakes you up.

He takes one look at you, goes "Yep, you're sick" and then orders for you to take a shot up the butt. You ask what you're sick with, and he rattles off the scientific term for what you have, and when you ask him to clarify, he says "you're sick."

I hate taking pills...
One shot in each buttcheek and a copay later, you walk out of the doctor's office to go get your meds. Your roommate takes you to the nearest pharmacy, where you pay a ridiculous sum of money for 30 gigantic horse pills. You go home, take one, and pass out from your exhausting day. After a couple of days, you realize that you are starting to feel better. You take your tentative steps out of your room to get your own orange juice for once. You don't even feel tired when you get back to your room. Your boss calls, wondering when you're going to be back into work, or whether they should start looking for a new employee. You tell him / her that you're feeling much better, and you'll be in tomorrow, and you're good to your word. You feel tired, but that's about all. You go into work, and realize that nobody really even missed you, much less knew you were sick.

As for the horse pills, once you decided you felt better and you didn't really need them anymore, you stopped taking them. That turns out to come in handy, when a few months later you wake up with one of your nostrils all stuffed up...

Just thought I'd note: The pictures (except for the paint drawings at the beginning) aren't mine. You should be able to look at their properties to find out where they really came from.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Well, I thought I would take this time to wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a very merry one (or "happy" if you're British). Then I got to thinking about it, and I began to wonder about Christmas traditions for different families. I think mine is the most normal thing in the world, but who knows? It might turn out we're very weird people...

I'll back up tradition until about two days or so before Christmas. We've finally finished the Christmas shopping, and we're finally ready to wrap. When I was younger, my mom would lock herself in "Santa's Helper's Workshop" and we weren't allowed to go to her bedroom while she wrapped. As my sister and I got older, the responsibilities changed a little bit. My sister watched TV, while I got to wrap the presents for all the family members that weren't my sister and I. This cut our time spent wrapping in half, so we got to bake for longer. We make Granddaddy's secret fudge recipe that we make for all our family members, as well as chocolate covered almonds, Christmas cookies, peppermint bark, or whatever we felt like making that year. Then, with the house smelling like a confectioner's paradise, we had to try and sleep through the excitement that Christmas was coming in just two days.

This is the version we read.
The next day, we take all of our lovely wrapped presents for the family, as well as an overnight bag that was hastily packed right before we had to leave, and headed over to my grandparents' house. When I was (much) younger, this trip took over two hours, but these days my home away from college is right next door, so we can leave our house pretty much whenever we want to. This is when the real Christmas excitement begins. We typically have dinner at the dining room table (a place reserved for holidays and special occasions), then we watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform their Christmas special on television. After we finish the special, my mom and grandmother start wondering if Santa's going to pass us by because such naughty girls are staying up so late (the older I get, the more I roll my eyes at this). We then make our grandmother read "The Night Before Christmas" from a book that apparently takes place in the year 1822 (talk about old). Then we have to sit through the Bible story of Mary and Joseph and no room at the inn, etc. (though not so much these past couple of years). Then we are finally allowed to hang up our stockings one at a time (my sister and I tend to bicker a lot), and then we're sent up to our room, only to discover...Somebody left us Christmas pajamas! (I literally have a set of PJs from every single Christmas...This year's is grey with deer and Santas on them). Then, my sister and I are tasked with the arduous task of actually trying to fall asleep. Let me tell you, I'm 21 years old and I have just as much trouble falling asleep this year as any other year.

Me in my Christmas pajamas with bows on my hat.
Merry Christmas!
After I finally fall asleep (it always seems like just 5 minutes after I fell asleep), my mom comes in and wakes up. I immediately check out the window to check to see if Santa brought me a white Christmas like I asked (still hasn't brought it yet, though there's some snowflakes mixed in the rain today), and after that initial disappointment, I walk with my mom and sister down the stairs, and my disappointment is immediately evaporated by the site of the Christmas tree surrounded with presents and amazing goodies. My sister and I start to take inventory before my mom admonishes us, and says that we have to eat breakfast before we can open any presents. We then make the Christmas oatmeal, which always seems to include an argument about whether there should be raisins or not in it (Granddaddy always puts up a good fight every year, but he always loses: raisins are gross), and we proceed to have the slowest. breakfast. EVER. After that, we have to clean up all the dishes, and then we're finally allowed to go into the living room to open presents. First, though, come the stockings. Then Granddaddy always passes the presents out, one at a time. We never move to the next present until the person opens theirs up and thanks the giver of the present. If any of my presents have a bow on them, then the bow is automatically relocated onto my head / hat. By the end, I generally have a head full of bows :D
Our stockings hung up by the chimney with care...

After we open all of our presents, we start the Christmas dinner. The turkey is stuffed and put in the oven, the potatoes are cut up, the celery is stuffed with cream cheese (this somehow is always my task, and I really don't like celery), etc. Then we wait for my aunt and her family to come over. We then have a second gift exchange, which is shortly followed by the dinner itself. By the end of the meal, everyone doesn't like each other anymore and my sister and I clean up after everyone. We then say our goodbyes, load up our cars, and finally give our grandparents some peace. Then my sister and I have to pack up to go spend the rest of our holiday with our dad.

This has been tradition for as long as I can remember. I wouldn't trade it for the world, and I hope that someday I can bring my family along to share in this tradition. So tell me about your traditions! I'd love to hear about them! Also, enjoy your day with your family, or whomever you choose, and I hope you have a very merry Christmas. See you next time!!

Dawgspeak: An Experiment in Lexicography

So, I might have mentioned a time or two before that I'm a Linguistics major. This requires me to spend a lot of my time looking at languages and how they work. I've studied languages from a general perspective (general Linguistic classes), and up close and personal (actual foreign language classes). This past semester, I got to look at an aspect that I don't normally pay a lot of attention to: Lexicography.

Lexicography is the study of dictionary making. It's something that not a lot of people actually think about, but almost everyone is affected by the decisions that lexicographers make. Lexicographers decide what words actually go in the dictionary, how it's defined, whether or not the definition includes a picture, etc. I took the class because I needed to fill in requirements for my Linguistics major, but I ended up falling in love with the class.

My teacher was Don McCreary. He's everything you would possibly imagine a professor to be: incredibly intelligent, wears "professor"-y clothes, and a dry voice that you would imagine would instantly send you into a land where words become monsters that try to eat you (e.g., sleep). But, on the first day of the semester when this professor describes the class, and he says a word like "cluster-f*ck", you start to pay a little more attention. It turns out, this class was not only going to teach me how dictionaries are made, but in fact my class was assigned to take on the editing of Dawgspeak, a slang dictionary that documents colloquialisms from the past couple of years. It was originally printed in 2000 (Dr. McCreary has been the "Editor-in-Chief" of this for the entire duration), and has been updated every couple of years ever since.

Our job at the beginning of the semester was to pick out all the words from the last edition (in 2008) that were no longer being used. We took out words like "cockpocket" (another name for a vagina) and "6 Flags over Jesus" (a large church that spends way too much money on its buildings and has restaurants and such inside). While they were very funny, nobody had ever heard of them before, so they got tossed onto our survey. The next step was to ask students who weren't in our class whether or not they used any of these words on our list (since each small group had their own sets of letters, naturally some good ones slipped through the cracks, because each person knows their own set of words, and not necessarily all of them. Personally, I only knew the computer-related ones). Once that long and boring process was finished, we were finally allowed to start adding our own words in. I put in words like WoW whore (a person who has no social life except to play the popular computer game World of Warcraft) and FTW (saying something is really awesome.  This acronym stands for “for the win”. The abbreviation is used only in text, though the phrase itself is commonly spoken). We then would read the entries aloud and double check to make sure that we weren't just making stuff up to get  a good grade. 

Towards the deadline, we realized that we forgot about the help pages. I was asked to edit the "Teh Interwebs Help Page" after I told the professor what "Rule 34" was (click at your own risk. Though the site is safe for work, further research may cause your retinas to burn indefinitely. Remember, what has been seen cannot be unseen). Then we were home free, and received our printed copies just in time for Christmas (the online version is cool, but it's not as satisfying as actually seeing yourself in print).

In all honesty, this class was probably one of my favorite classes in my entire college career. I've never laughed so hard while learning so much. So, if you ever need to take a class, and you see "Lexicography" in your course list, take it: you never know how much fun it could be.

I'm going to keep this one short and without pictures because, well... it's CHRISTMAS!!! I'll probably give you a blog tomorrow (but be forewarned, it's going to be a candy-induced hyper one, so don't expect Shakespeare). Also, I'm sorry this post is not one of my better ones, but I've been stuck on it for a week now, so I figured I'd go ahead and post it and just ask for forgiveness. See you next time!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Superblog 2

So, let me start off by apologizing for the lack of posts lately. Finals have been absolutely murderous, and I've basically spent all my time trying to make sure that I at least do halfway decent. Anyway, I've decided to do one of these again, because the last one was so much fun to write. I sent out a message on Facebook and had people tell me what kind of topics they wanted to see. Now I'm going to combine all of the various topics and create a story using each subject. Please keep in mind that this is a fictional tale, so do not hold me responsible if some things that are in this blog are not 100% true (because it's not). Also, this story is not going to be a continuation of the previous superblog. And with that, here goes:

I first met Richard Ireland online. He was nothing more than an avatar on a screen. We first started talking on a forum about guitars. It was never more than anything casual, just a friendly hello, or a "how are you?". I got a friend request on Facebook one day from him, and I added him without a second thought. This is when I found out he was British (Facebook stalking is a hobby of mine). He immediately got about 100 cool points added in his favor (The British are awesome, what can I say?). Anyway, the friendship remained casual, for a while at least. Then we started talking more and more. He seemed to know me almost better than I knew myself, and not in the romantic way. I mean in the "are you outside my window right now" kind of way. Then I started seeing him everywhere as well. Well, not exactly him. Maybe an older guy in his 50s had a similarly shaped face, or some kid running down the street with the same eyes as him... I think stress from school was finally getting to me. 

My junior year in college, I managed to go to Germany to study for a year. It did not escape the attention of a certain British guy that I was suddenly a lot closer to the land of the Queen and pip pip, cheerio and all that. He frequently inquired as to when I was going to be able to visit him. While I really wanted to visit him, I was still a little wary, because I kept seeing his face everywhere. I wondered whether or not I was in love with him or something because I kept seeing him everywhere, but I quickly ruled that out as a possibility: I was positive  that there was no way there was anything more than friendship there. 
Same pub, different day.

One cold evening that December, my friends and I were hanging out at our favorite Irish pub, O'Reilly's. It was quiz night, and we were just entering the music round. After a particularly difficult question, whose answer turned out to be Barbra Streisand, I heard a meow around my feet. I looked down, and saw a gray tabby cat weaving around my ankles, purring like there was no tomorrow. I then felt a chill run down my spine. I looked toward the door, and saw him walk out from the snow, covered in a gigantic coat, with a heavy flannel shirt underneath it. I was curious about this: it wasn't really cold enough for all that heavy gear, even for a person from the South, like me. He sat at the bar and talked to Henny the bartender while drinking a Guinness. He glanced over at our table once or twice, especially when we cheered about guessing the Styx song right (though to be fair, everyone in the pub stared at us at that point), but he was very discrete. I was impressed. I was expecting a much more grandiose affair when I saw him walk through the door. 

After quiz night (our group got second prize!), I told my friends that I was going to stay behind and walk. They all looked at me like I was crazy, especially because it was still snowing outside. I finally managed to convince them that "it was a Southern thing" and I just wanted to enjoy the snow. It seemed to take forever, though. Once they had finally left, I approached Richard.

Not this exact cat, but similar.
"This is a little creepy, you know," I told him, trying to play it cool, despite being completely freaked out.
"I know, but you weren't going to visit me, and this was the only way I was going to get to explain." Suddenly the cat jumped up in his lap, looked up at him, looked up at me, mrowled loudly, then started purring again. I began petting him out of instinct. I was not ready for what happened next.

There was a bright flash, and the next thing I knew, I was in a very familiar place. We were in a field that was well manicured, with a school in the background. It was sweltering hot, especially in all those layers I was wearing. Richard, in his flannel, didn't seem to even notice the heat. Then I heard a "BAND TEN HUT!" "GO BEARS!" from behind me. My stomach suddenly was filled with lead. I had avoided visiting my high school ever since my graduation, because the quality of performance in the marching band had deteriorated so much in a short amount of time. It seemed through some strange phenomenon, I had ended up back to witness my old band perform on the practice field once again. I dreaded hearing what kind of rap garbage they were going to play, but then the song started. I suddenly heard a trumpet begin the intro to "Georgia on my Mind". I scoffed: we had just played this set 3 years ago, though I did have to admit that they sounded a lot better than I had anticipated. I walked closer to the field so I could get a better look (to give you a mental image of the layout: there are 3 football fields behind our school. One of them is on top a large hill, and you can't see the other two. This is where we appeared). The band was tiny! It couldn't have had more than 35 people out there. Apparently not much had changed since I'd left. I instinctively looked towards the drum major (as a drum major for two years, you tend to look at other DMs so you can compare), and she was a short little white girl. Her form was really sloppy, but you could tell she was trying. It was cute. Then I looked at the rest of the band, who had just turned around for the grand finale. They were even marching the same set we did! 
GHS Band of Gold 2006-2007
How lame! I then heard Ms. Cheek shout for the band to stop and try again. At this point something was niggling in the back of my mind. I looked over at Richard. He was just looking at the band, enjoying the show, not saying a word. Then it clicked: Ms. Cheek quit after my senior year. She was supposed to be a bartender down in Florida. Suddenly that chubby little white chick called the band to attention again, and I knew. I finally made the connection. This wasn't the new band that I left behind. This was MY band. My senior year. That chubby little white girl giving the orders was me. I don't really remember what happened immediately after that: I kinda passed out from shock.

I woke up to the sound of Ray Charles played sweetly (well, as sweetly as high schoolers can actually play instruments, at any rate). Richard was still standing and watching. I sat up and decided to get some questions answered.

"So, it really was you that I keep seeing everywhere. I thought I was just going crazy," I told him with a nervous laugh.
"Yeah, sorry if I freaked you out a bit. It's all a bit strange, really," he replied, not taking his eyes off of the marching band.
"Care to explain how in the hell I'm watching my 17 year old self conduct, even though I'm clearly 20 and standing right here?" I was starting to get a little impatient with how calmly he was talking about everything.
"I don't know, really. The cat seems to like you, that's about the only thing I can figure out."
"" Now I was really confused. Some interrogator I was.
"Yeah, it's his fault I pop in and out of places like that. I never know when the little bugger is going to do it, either, so it's always a surprise trip when he takes me along. Fortunately he never seems to leave me behind once we've made a trip. He's been on a real kick about you ever since he saw us having conversations on Facebook. Guess he knew you were a cat person." I suddenly felt the little furball wrapping himself between my legs and purring. I picked him up.
"How long have you had this little time travelling ball of fluff?" I asked him.
"Oh, my whole life, really. He showed up as an abandoned kitten when I was just a baby. He got really old, but then he one day showed up again as a kitten. I call him the furry Doctor." He grinned. "I imagine that he uses his nine lives to come back again anew whenever he gets old." He then reached out to pet the kitty I was holding in my arms. Suddenly we were on a different field behind yet another football stadium. "I guess now he's on a kick about marching bands," Richard said. Suddenly the band began to play. "And Styx as well." We made our way around to the main field, and watched the band do a breakdown of the robot dance to the song "Mr. Roboto". It wasn't until the song ended and they started to play "Come Sail Away" that I realized that I recognized this place, too. There were some obvious changes, such as the stadium seats were much older (and smaller), but it was definitely where I had spent many of my Friday nights during Football season. As I looked at the band, I saw a redhead playing clarinet march by. I realized that I had just seen my mom in all her high school nerdy glory. I smiled, then started laughing like a maniac. This was all just too surreal. We only stayed until the end of the set, then the cat decided it was time again to go. 

We ended up right outside of my dorm room. I checked my phone, and only 20 minutes or so had passed. I invited Richard and his feline friend inside out of the snow. We walked into my bedroom, and I tried my best not to collapse onto the bed, but instead sat as calmly as possible. "Thanks for an interesting adventure," I said to him.
"No problem. Now do you see why I had to come see you? This is actually my yesterday. The cat just really wanted to come say hi, and apparently I needed to come with him for this adventure." I laughed.
"Well, it was nice to finally meet an internet friend. It's a shame I can't tell anyone about this adventure. No one would ever believe me."
"Well, it'll make a good "fiction" story, anyhow, wouldn't it?" He raised an eyebrow and winked. Then he picked up the cat, petted him, and...nothing happened. "What now?" he almost shouted at the cat. The cat then jumped out of his arms and came over to me. He purred and purred, and then curled up in my lap. Just after I was finally convinced he was asleep, he jumped out of my lap, and started making his traditional figure eights around Richard's legs. "Heh. I guess he just wanted to say goodbye." He picked up the cat, and then he was gone. I sat on my bed staring at where he was for a good while, then finally just lay down and attempted to sleep.
A year later, my senior year has arrived. I'm forced to write doom paper after doom paper, but I seemed to have caught a bit of senioritis. I decided to finally write down the...dream? experience? ...story, just so it'd be difficult to forget later on (it was either that or post a million posts on Facebook like some addict). I still see Richard from time to time, but he's been pretty good at remaining hidden lately. He'll still show up in some of my photos sometimes. You know, I've never noticed before, but I've never seen his cat in any of the pictures, nor whenever I saw him on the street. I wonder what that's all about...

Here's the latest blog! Sorry it took so long, but better late than never, right? See you next time!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flashback: New-Found Love for Cosplaying

So I made a promise to myself when I started college and I first heard of the world of cosplaying: If I ever got to the level that I deemed skinny enough, I would start cosplaying. Well, thanks to Germany and the swine flu (let me tell you how much fun THAT was), I lost the 30 pounds I needed, and the time came for con season again.

For those of you who don't know, cosplay is a blend of "costume" and "play". Basically, imagine Halloween in America, how a lot of people go as movie characters, comic book characters, celebrities, etc. That's all cosplaying. A friend of mine joked once that Halloween has basically turned into "National Cosplay Day". I can't help but agree, but unlike him, I think it's a good thing.

What Tifa's supposed to look like.
So this fall, I had the body I needed, now I needed to come up with the costume. I had the idea a couple of years ago to be Tifa Lockheart from Final Fantasy VII, and it seemed like as good a time as any (if you haven't played this game yet, do it NOW). She was a character who I felt like I could relate to (at the time), and my body type is very similar to hers (for those of you who don't know, Tifa is known physically for her gigantic...ahem...lungs). The only thing I really needed to do was to put the costume together.

My Tifa costume.
Now as any true nerd will tell you, if you're going to cosplay, you'd better do it right. You technically can buy your costume from a costume shop, but odds are it won't look as good or authentic. A true geek will make their costume lovingly from scratch, sewing each stitch. I prefer the half and half method: I'll buy the pieces all separately from places like Walmart or Goodwill, and put them together myself. I was fortunate that the costume I chose was very simple: a sports bra (Walmart), a mini-skirt (which I already had by coincidence from Germany), boots (epic boots which I also bought in Germany), suspenders (Junkman's Daughter's Brother, an awesome local store), and 3 pairs of gloves (Party City. Sometimes you have to cave and end up at the costume store anyway). All in all, it turned out pretty well, I think. The only problem was that I'm technically not Asian (and by technically, I mean not at all, so there was a slight hitch in playing a Japanese video game character).

I found this picture at!
Finally the day arrived for me to test out my newly put together costume: Dragon Con. For those of you who are only hearing about the nerdier side of life for the first time in this blog (or people who may live in another country), Dragon Con is one of the largest conventions on the East Coast. It takes place in downtown Atlanta throughout 4 different (but HUGE) hotels. People book the hotel rooms and buy their tickets a year in advance to come to this thing...needless to say, it's kind of a big deal. I was originally going to go with a couple of friends of mine, but that didn't happen. They bailed on me at the last possible moment. I almost didn't go, but after considering it for a minute, I realized that there was no way I was going to waste this opportunity. So it was with great excitement that I drove down to Atlanta. The most amusing part of the trip was when I had to get gas. Most people were not prepared to see a girl dressed like a video game character pumping gas.

When I got closer to the city, I had a horrible realization: I didn't actually know where the convention actually was. I took a random exit and hoped for the best. I wasn't lost for long: soon I saw one person dressed rather eccentrically, then another, then a whole crowd... Sure enough, I got lucky and picked the right exit on my first try. I quickly found parking, and headed into the nearest hotel full of nerds.

As this was my first convention, my first impression was: I'm home. Never once in my life have I felt so...normal. I saw people from every comic imaginable, from every video game, from things I've never even heard of before. I immediately regretted only coming for one day, and not actually buying a ticket to the show room, and promised myself then and there that I'd stay for the whole time next year.

The Jawas have taken Tifa hostage!
It was the first time I'd ever felt like a superstar. People would stop me every once in a while and ask to take my picture. Sometimes other people would come up while other people were taking my picture and it ended up being a paparazzi of sorts. My favorite set was when I "taken hostage" by two Jawas. The entire experience was so surreal; I felt like I was living in a fan fiction.

Going to the con had its dark side, however. A few less savory guys decided that I was the girl of their dreams, and they followed me around the whole day. Don't worry, nothing happened. I stayed where there were a lot of people, and I remained rape free. I did get molested by people dressed up as the pope with vibrators in their clothes who claimed to worship science, but to be fair, they were molesting everyone. I kinda liked those guys...

At about 8 or so, I decided that I was exhausted and it was probably time to head home. I shook off my stalker, headed back to my car, and drove home. It was truly an amazing day. When I got home, I told my roommates about my adventure, and one of them (Allie) said, "Well, you know AWA is just a couple of weeks away, right?" (AWA stands for Anime Weekend Atlanta. AKA-Another nerd convention). Suddenly Tifa was going to have one last hurrah.

Imagine this cupcake with a grumpy face.
Flash forward to AWA day. Once again, I only went for the day. This time, however, I had friends come with me and we bought day passes. I was also the only one who cosplayed out of the four of us. This con was a lot smaller, and took place in an Atlanta suburb instead of actual downtown. The crowd was also a lot younger; I felt like one of the few people there who had actually hit puberty. That being said, I certainly did not act my age, because I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I set a small budget for myself, and bought a bunch of little things, like a stuffed 1-up mushroom, a small Tifa figurine (I figured it was a celebration of successfully cosplaying as her), and a grumpy cupcake. I also got to do a small photo shoot with other people who were dressed in Final Fantasy costumes, including a bunch of other Tifas. Now Tifa technically has two costumes: the original game one, and the one that she wore in the movie Advent Children. I wore the original game costume, but it seemed like the majority of other girls who dressed as Tifa seemed to all wear the Advent Children costume (which is a bit more conservative than the game costume. It makes sense I guess, seeing as how all the other Tifas couldn't have been older than 15).

Here are some pictures I took of other cosplayers:

I found Waldo!
Old Link and New Link face off in an epic battle!
The Powerpuff...Girls?

Dr. Horrible and his Freeze Ray!
Sephiroth (the bad guy), Tifa, and Cloud (the love interest)
All the Sailor planet girls (and guys!)
A ripped Incredible Hulk
Homage to an internet meme.
The cast of Final Fantasy XIII

Tifas galore!

The one disadvantage to going to a con with friends is that when they're tired, you have to leave. It was with much sadness that I said goodbye to this con as well. I knew at this point I was a complete con addict. I'm already planning for Dragon Con next year, and was even asked to speak at a Star Trek convention (I wrote a paper about constructed languages, and Klingon happened to be on the list). I can't wait to decide what costume I'm going to do next...

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Adventure in Arizona

My bestie Ashley.
So I think you might have figured out by now (if you've read my previous posts) that I have a best friend and her name is Ashley (If you haven't read my previous posts, you should do that. Though you can wait until after you've finished reading this one first. It's not that important). We met while studying abroad in Germany last year. It was a tearful farewell that was only made bearable by the promise we made each other that we would see each other again in the near future.

I decided to make good on my promise this past weekend. I had a full week off from school, so I decided to fly to Arizona and spent the weekend before Thanksgiving with my bestie. We made so many plans for that weekend. We were going to make music, go to open mic night, go to this little western town called Rawhide, see Harry Potter, etc. We were going to make up for the lost time that being in different parts of the country forced us to miss. I skipped classes the Friday before so I would be extremely sure that I wouldn't miss my flight due to tardiness (I fly standby, so it's extremely important to get there in plenty of time, though admittedly getting there 4 hours early is quite excessive. But hey, I was excited and paranoid). I spent the hours attempting to write a blog, do my homework, and texting Ashley every 5 minutes or so with a countdown. The time to board came...and went. At this point, I'm getting a little nervous, because a cancelled flight = Nina not getting to fly at all in the near future. Fortunately, it was only delayed for about an hour or so, but it was pretty touch and go for a while there (not really, but my nerves were shot. I hadn't been this nervous about making a flight in a long, long time). I was the last person cleared, but I was allowed on.

This is the first moment after seeing each other again after 4 months.
The flight there was mostly uneventful. I had to sit beside a 9 year old who had entirely too much energy. He kept asking for my things, such as my bracelets, my pens, and even my credit card. I put on my headphones and that little problem went away.

My first In and Out experience!
I finally arrived in Phoenix. I've never been to Arizona before, so I had no idea what the layout of the airport was, or where Ashley was waiting for me. I should've known that she would find a way to be easily recognized. She had a sign that said "Tits McGee" and then bear tackled me (ok, so you should probably know that one of my internet handles is indeed Tits McGee. It's funny. You should laugh now). We talked as if we'd never left each other in July. There was no awkwardness; just awesomeness. As we left the airport, we both realized we were starving. My roommates made me promise to go to In and Out Burger at least once while I was there, so I suggested going there. It was everything that everyone said it would be: delicious.

Ashley out on the town!
We arrived at her and her family's house, and I got to meet the furry members of her family. There are currently 4 kitties living under their roof: Elwood and Spaz, her grandparents' cats, Bagheera, her cat, and the cutest itty bitty little kitten I've ever seen whose name was determined Oliver my second day in Arizona. Ashley wanted to name him King Louie as it would fit in with the Jungle Book theme she's currently using, but she was vetoed. But I digress... After arriving at her house, we quickly changed clothes and headed back out. I got to see another friend from Heidelberg (my first friend Nicole, who actually introduced me to Ashley, as you can read here.), as well as meet Ashley's good friend Noelle (poor Ashley. She had to remember to say the right name between Nicole, Nina, and Noelle). I got to see a bit of Tempe nightlife, and discover how really similar American college campus areas really are.

The most important part of my trip out there was the music. Ashley and I are both musicians: she plays guitar and sings (very well, I might add), and I play flute and sing (not as well, I might add). Our biggest bonding experience overseas was that we created music together, or "made music babies" as Ashley likes to say. We even wrote a song called "Depths of Desperation". This was our opportunity to record a good version of it, put it on youtube, and possibly write another song. We spent most of Saturday night trying to get a good video of our best songs. Sunday we decided that we should actually write out a full second song. It turns out that we write really awesome, but really depressing songs. The second song is called "The Train to Heidelberg", and I'll let you make of it what you will.

Our second song, "The Train to Heidelberg":

A cover of Within Temptation's "Utopia":

Our original song, "Depths of Desperation":

This one we did just for fun: :D

So, Monday rolls around, and I have to wake up at go to school. I must've upset some karma god somewhere... I kid, I kid. It actually wasn't that bad. I got to experience the Phoenix light rail system, got to see how easy classes are at ASU in comparison to UGA...All in all, a worthwhile experience. Between her classes, we went back to her house and hammered out the finals bumps and hiccups in our new song. Then we headed back to campus for her play rehearsal. I got to see the other exchange student, Marshall, in that class (I'd only met him once before but he's a pretty cool guy). As I'm also in a German theater class, it was interesting to compare and contrast the two. I also realized at this point how much more difficult the classes I'm taking really are in comparison to hers :p

The "big event" of my visit was open mic night at this place called the Yucca Tap Bar. It was a cute little bar, and a surprising amount of people were there to perform. Ashley and I were both nervous when we went up there. I got teased a little because I play the flute, but it was all in good fun. I think we did a good job: we both messed up, but that's the beauty of playing two original songs and one cover that nobody's ever heard before: no one could tell. After performing, Ashley, two of her friends (Jared and Sheldon) and I all went to IHOP, where I proceeded to show these two people who had only heard stories of how "infamous" I am, just how "infamous" I really was. We finally got back to Ashley's house at around 2, and we didn't go to bed until 3.
Ashley and I on stage at open mic night.

The next day was a very sad day: the day I was supposed to leave. Ashley had been making little jokes during my whole visit about how I had to stay forever and that I wasn't allowed to leave. I laughed, and secretly wished that that could really happen. Where before I was anxious that I wouldn't make the flight, I was now hoping that a flight somewhere had been cancelled and that there was no way that I could fly out, but once again, the strange karma god was smiling down on me. When I checked the flights, it was clear that there was no way I wasn't getting on that flight. I sighed. Then, I did one of the more rash things I've ever done: I had my ticket changed to very early Thursday morning (I'm talking like arrived in ATL at 6am early). Needless to say, everyone was ecstatic about that (well, my mom wasn't, and I did feel bad about that...but that's another story for a later date).

So, I'm going to backtrack for just a minute to Sunday night. We decided it would be a good idea to have a photo shoot. I brought some costumes along, and we took turns getting dressed up and being silly and having a good time. Tuesday night, with our borrowed time, we decided that we needed another, smaller photo shoot, because we forgot to take pictures of us with our instruments. We also decided to edit and release our music videos for youtube (which took a lot longer than you'd think). The next day, we went to class again (I went to classes 3 days out of a week where I wasn't supposed to have any classes...tell me how that's fair...), and then I got to experience Arizona mall life. Surprisingly enough, that's the same no matter where you go: Make fun of the scene kids, have fun with all the naughty things in Spencer's, ogle $1600 puppies, melt at the smell of Auntie Anne's Pretzels, etc. Then we headed back to Ashley's place for the last time.

Ashley and her mom walked me to the security gate. Ashley and I hugged goodbye, though it wasn't nearly as hard this time as it was the first time, because now I knew we'd be able to see each other again somehow. We (well, at least Ashley and I) were hoping that the flight (which while it looked really empty when I first changed my flight, it suddenly looked very full as I actually arrived at the gate) would be too full and I'd be granted a few more hours. But luck wasn't with us this time. I was once again one of the last people to be called up with an available seat, and I finally began my journey home. I sat beside a very uncomfortable man who looked none-too-happy that I was reading instead of sleeping (I'm nocturnal, so I wasn't sleepy yet; I finally got sleepy right as we landed). I arrived in Atlanta, picked up my bags in record time, drove home, said hi to mom, and then plopped in my bed for a few hours. My vacation wasn't over yet. Thanksgiving was just a couple of hours away...