That's not what the Death card means

It's been a while
written 2022-08-16 06:30:14

It's been forever.

I got a job with a large governmental entity. It is a severe case of underemployment but it's a union job and includes a pension. If I decide that I can put up with being an office drone for nineteen more years I get a lifetime salary. I got the job just after my last post, so it'll be a year this September. I'm still waiting to hear if I get a raise or what. C'mon union!

Ingrid is shopping for houses, to buy instead of rent this time. She likes the neighborhood, likes her job, likes the city. I'm all for it, though I'm sure I'm going to catch flak from my privilege-bearing cohort for "you're just NOW buying a house?" and whatever other heteronormative judgments they want to levy.

Lennie died. It's a Tuesday morning as I write this, and she died Sunday morning. I'm still hurting over it. She was a bad dog, but such a good dog. We lucked out when the pound suggested we take a look at this little Chihuahua looking murderer, and she lucked out too. I don't know who would have put up with her the way we did. Rest easy, angry pooch. We love you.

I'm noticing that my post about complaining about my mom is two posts ago, in my infrequent chronicling. Lennie had the best day, that day. I was mad about it in the moment, but I bet she dreamed of that chicken cheesesteak forever after. "I had it, man, I had it in my JAWS."

Everyone deserves a win, once in a while.

I don't know if I'm posting because I have all this free time, or if I'm feeling introspective about the dog, or what. Some social scientist could probably tell you why based on the frequency and length and content of these things. I don't have an opinion. I just writes them.

Maybe more again sometime.

--6:25 AM, EDT, 8/16/2022, Philadelphia PA, you seemed so close but yet so cool

I can resist everything but temptation
written 2021-09-05 20:01:24

I never hit send on that last entry until just now.

It's likely because I didn't want anyone reading mean things about my mommy.

--7:57 PM, Sunday night, EDT, trois navires de ble

From beyond the Inner Sphere
written 2021-07-14 19:11:52

Well, I've had a week. A month? A forever? I don't know, it sucked though.

So, last month, my mom tells me she's coming to visit for a family function. I tell her that I'd like to come visit her in Vermont, since she's moving soon to Florida, fulltime. I have personal objections to ever visiting Florida, so it would be nice to see her in elevated climes and non-lunatic surroundings.

She agrees and we plan to drive up north in one car after the family event. I clear it with Ingrid and I'm all set. Having the decade-plus of "I can't travel I have work" and "I can't travel I need to stay available to work" I figured I should take advantage of not working and having paid off my loans.

My sister calls me up out of the blue to complain about our mother. She does this all the time, despite the fact that she won't allow Mom to spend much time with anyone but her. She has this weird psychological construction of "Mom has to stay with me" and "Ugh I hate it when Mom stays with me" and "Mom spent time with you last time she has to spend all her time with me" and "Christ I wish Mom would go somewhere else", all present and true simultaneously. It's pretty fucked up.

My sister complains that they went to Vermont for the long weekend of July Fourth, and Mom took her everywhere and paid for everything and it was so awful. I listened because my sister expects it, and it costs me little. (It does have a cost, mind you.) But she bitches up and down about spending this time with our mother, and then says I have to come visit while Mom is staying with her around the family event. I roll my eyes and I believe she can hear it over the phone.

I hang up with her, and then my Mom calls. She bitches about my sister for all the same things and reverses all the stories so she's the one aggrieved. I ask her if she's staying with my sister when she comes down and she says yes, for a week.

Mind you, she and I are supposed to drive to Vermont to spend a couple days together in her soon-to-be former house. I realize I've been bumped, and I'm not sure my septuagenarian mother's memory is all that good. Maybe she just forgot...? I quietly assent to her new plans without raising any objection. One of the things she angrily railed against my sister was my sister's claim that she is growing senile. She is NOT, she declaims.

I ask her why she would spend a week in Vermont, a week in Pennsylvania, and then a week in California (part of the plan that got my plans canceled) with someone who makes her this angry. She pauses to consider this fact. She says maybe she won't come to PA. I laugh mirthlessly to myself that I've managed to convince her to spend two weeks with my sister and no weeks with me. Ha. Ha.

She does come to PA and she stays with my sister and we all go to this family picnic. I have some weird facial paralysis from Bell's palsy, and this part of the family is MAGA as fuck, so I mask up for the whole day. I don't tell either of them about this because they're overreacting bitches and if I can keep it on the downlow for two weeks, no one has to get their panties in a bunch. I make a mistake and tell my niece who probably waited all of twelve seconds before telling every relative we have. Like mother, like daughter.

So my mom tells me she will spend one lunch with me the following week. This is my reward for telling her I didn't feel like she valued my time after a visit where she spent all week with my sister and zero time with me. She comes over and demands to know what's wrong with my face. "Your sister says you had a stroke" or some other gossip-fueled bullshit. I explain what Bell's palsy is and we get into the "you need to see a doctor" vs. "American healthcare is fucking bullshit" argument. My mom and my sister both married money, so they don't know that not having health insurance is a thing.

After this I buy her lunch, which makes her angry. She yells at me during lunch to be more considerate of Ingrid, which, man, have you met me? She leaves her chicken cheesesteak on the table where the dog can get it and makes me go show her where the alley is (amazingly, it's in the middle of the side of the block!) so I can unload some shelves she wanted out of the Vermont house. I come back in to close up the doors and find chicken cheesesteak all over the floor and the dog promising a slow death to anyone who tries to deny her this prize.

Then she leaves, complaining about how everything has to be difficult with me. I explain that she let the dog get at her very messy lunch, and she canceled on our plans to go to Vermont. And she says "yeah I know, you don't get along with my husband". She had not forgotten, she just unilaterally decided what our plans were and that I was no longer a part of them, without consulting me or apologizing or what have you.

Then she says I should come up and visit some time. Like, as though there was no context, or that she JUST SAID "don't come visit, my spouse hates you".

I used to respect my mom's willingness to buck the system; she left home when I was a young teenager and never came back. She said "fuck this marriage" as it wasn't doing anything for her, and regretfully walked out on her kids. She was around, it's not like she went out for cigarettes. But she wasn't in our home any longer.

But I think it taught her to just do what she wants and damn the consequences. When she disregards my sister's mental illness, it has an air of "she has to get help, I can't do it for her". When she decides it would be easier to just not have me visit, she makes other plans and leaves me to figure out what that meant. I'm not saying she is hateful or spiteful, just self-taught at being careless and neglectful.

Those are not great traits in your mom.

--6:59 PM, EST, Philadelphia, PA, and I dash upstairs to take cover

Curled up at the foot of the bed
written 2021-05-18 17:11:05

So, we got our dog, Lennie, six years ago, when Ingrid was freshly overcome with grief from losing her previous dog, Abby.

Lennie was a shelter dog, who had been taken out of a home with "too many animals". She is a little Chihuahua mutt, she is mean, and she is responsible for one of the few scars I have. She took some getting used to, but we love her and we put up with her periodic violence and psychosis.

We've had some trouble with her vet care this last year - I might have written about it elsewhere on this page. Basically, she had an infection near her eye, we figured it was dental, the vet said she'd look at it but only after a cardiologist okayed her for anaesthesia, we got the cardiogram, the vet forgot about us, made us go to another cardiogram, checked her teeth, didn't find anything. That sentence took eight months to play out, and her face is still swollen.

We were pretty salty because the vet made us jump through hoops for six months to accomplish sweet fuck all. We took her in again today to remind them that her face is swollen and we'd like some goddamn vet care. The vet's response was to the tune of "What Do You Want Me To Do About It?" from the hit musical "Bad Veterinary Bedside Manner". She basically said we could look into some good expensive dental or cardiological care, not from her, from a specialist, or we can just accept that our dog has a swollen face and a bum ticker. The subtext was "how much money are you really trying to spend on this dog?"

She's not wrong, I acknowledge she got a degree in veterinary science. I just wish she'd minored in Not Being A Bitch To Your Clients Studies.

I admit, my go-to response to "your dog is sick" is just "give the dog everything she wants and love her and hug her and squeeze her" and not "make hard decisions about your budget and her lifespan". I frequently remind Lennie she cost us $52 in fees at the shelter. I'm a monster, I acknowledge, and a hypocrite.

I don't want Ingrid sad about our dog for the rest of Lennie's life. I don't want Ingrid mad at me for doing or not doing whatever it is she thinks the dog needs. My inclination is to do nothing and try and give Lennie her best life, and when she goes, she goes.

I have not had income for over a year, so I also feel a little unqualified to make decisions that have substantial price tags associated with them.

--5:07 PM EST, 5/18/21, Philadelphia, PA, lean in close to the little record player on the floor

The Music Hall of Williamsburg
written 2021-05-04 15:14:40

Ingrid is all vaccinated, which is good.

I drove her across the city to the pharmacy where her work made vaccine appointments for all their employees. There was an accident on the one road we always use to get to Center City, so we had to U-turn and get out into North Philly and cross the entire city. Philadelphia drivers are self-obsessed assholes, so you have to account for that in your driving. Example: while stopped at a red light, third or fourth in line, the driver behind us began laying on his horn immediately after the light turned green. Like, there was no forward progress yet. I was stationary, because the car in front of me was stationary. Just, HOOOOONNNNNNKKKK HONNNNNNNK HOOONNNNNNKKKKKKK.


Anyway, Ingrid got her shot and decided she wanted lobster rolls for lunch. She is to be commended for her civic responsibility and should get all the lobster rolls. Unfortunately, she picked a place in Center City, while we had got her shot all the way over in Fishtown. So I start recrossing the city, only to discover that over by 95 some of the roads are one way, but not the way I was expecting, and we wound up having to nearly go all the way up north past 676. Also, Center City is well back into its crowded and busy phase (pandemic? What pandemic?) so there were double-parked delivery guys and trucks with their hazards on just blocking all the traffic.

I was dodging around stationary cars and pedestrians and making slow progress and completely missed my turn. (Except I couldn't because it was a one way street. Ah, Philly.) About a block later, Ingrid asks me where I think I'm going, and I obviously respond that I'm going to hell, and expected the traffic would be lighter.

I circle Rittenhouse and go up two blocks (one way streets) and over one (one way street) to come back down a block and a half (one way fucking street) and get her to the one place in Philadelphia where you can get a lobster roll. I illegally park and spend five minutes watching for meter maids. Ingrid gets back in the car and asks me what I want for lunch.

"To be home and out of this godforsaken traffic nightmare."

--3:12 PM, EST, May 4th, 2021, I find your lack of faith disturbing

The year of the cat
written 2021-01-19 15:55:39

  1. Recognize you need to go to the drugstore for tissues.
  2. Realize you need something else, but can't think of what.
  3. Decide to go and hope you remember what it was you wanted.
  4. Bring a reusable bag.
  5. Get to the drug store.
  6. Can't find tissues. Can find "paper goods" aisle, but no tissues.
  7. Find a few other things that are on sale.
  8. Ask for help finding tissues. Get directed to the paper goods aisle.
  9. Look again, find empty shelves where tissues would be, and three packages of individually wrapped 20-tissue pocket sized items.
  10. Decide to wait and find another place to buy tissues.
  11. Go to pay, but the self-service kiosk has an elderly person confused about how the self-service kiosk works.
  12. Go to pay an actual cashier. Cashier asks for your member's club card, which is required for all the sales that were the reason you selected all the other things you are buying.
  13. You don't have your member's club card, and they can't search for it.
  14. Take all your items back to the shelves from which you acquired them.
  15. Buy lottery tickets.
  16. Walk home defeated.

Not much going on these days. Unemployed, only one snowfall this winter, the dog needs to see the dentist. Trump lost, thank G-d, but Biden is a Democrat to the core, and Democrats are experts in fucking up unfuckable situations.

John Fetterman is going to run for Senate again. I'll knock on doors for that guy.

--3:52 PM, EST, Philadelphia, PA, and talk about everything

Memory foam
written 2020-10-07 14:02:00

I haven't had a job for months. This means I haven't had a commute, haven't had a work routine, haven't had office banter, haven't had any lunch trips or takeout or pleasant Center City walks, haven't had anything going on.

When you don't have anything going on, what little you do have going on takes on unnecessary weight. Yesterday I got McDonalds, and they fucked up the curbside delivery deal and I had to wait over half an hour to get cold food which they also didn't make correctly. It's no big deal, it's McDonalds, who gives a shit. But it was the only thing I did yesterday. Having it wind up a shitshow was real fucking downer.

I went last week to help my dad with his computer, his printer and his phone. The usual "can you help me with this" family IT stuff. It was nice, because it got me out of the house, it was a chance to see my dad despite the quarantine, and it was something I could be good at. But then, a couple of days later, he needed me to look at his phone again. He offered to take Ingrid and I out to a Mexican place he likes to thank me for the help. I told him I wasn't going to a restaurant while the commonwealth is still COVID-heavy, but I'd come by and fix his phone. But Ingrid reminded me we had to go look at furniture in three hours, so I had to drive fast up to Bucks, do the work, return trip just as fast, and go shopping for furniture (Ingrid's, not mine).

So while I was at my dad's, I was keyed up. This was a timed trip now, and it was the second one I'd made in two days, and I apparently hadn't done enough or done it right the first time, necessitating this second trip. And my dad thinks going out to a restaurant is okay?! What the fuck is that about?

I guess he could tell I was worked up, but I wasn't going to blame him for my edginess, so I told him about the furniture and this appointment we had to make, and the last appointment got unexpectedly cancelled when we got a flat tire the day of. And people are dying everyday and there's no response from the goddamn government. And every 24 hours the president does some stupid shit to keep his name trending. And, and, and.

Keep in mind, this is some piddly shit in the grand scheme of things. I had to make two car trips instead of one. I still got to see my dad, which was nice, except now I was worried he was going to internalize me being anxious with him asking me to drive over there.

(Self-centered sidenote: my sister lives 15 minutes from my dad. My brother is five minutes from him. I live two counties away and an hour's drive on a bad day for traffic.)

It's just hard, when you only have one or two things to do in a given week, and you can't do much else because of income, or travel restrictions, or mental health, and those one or two things go south for whatever reason. And afterward you have to admit you're disappointed while still knowing it's a stupid thing to be disappointed over.

I don't know who's still reading this. My birthday is in a month. Buy me presents on Amazon. I'm listed under Finbar MacSwiney.

--1:59 PM EST, Philadelphia, PA, sick and tired of being sick and tired

Some dumbass with my name and birthday
written 2020-09-11 12:09:14

Modern life, lockdown, political reality got me down.

I paid off the last of my student loans. I feel real goddamn conflicted about it, which is weird, since you'd think it'd be an absolute win. But paying off student loans has been the one thing I've had to focus on for thirteen years. It has informed all my decisions, it has prevented me from making moves, it has instilled protestant guilt in me for not working or not working enough or not having a real job or whatever the fuck. I'm sure I'll get over it but right now I feel like a schmuck.

Looking at my financial records from Sallie Mae, I borrowed just over $130000. Looking at my payment records, I paid them back over $200000. I'm sure some asshole with an accounting degree or a job at his daddy's brokerage firm will tell me that $70000 is a good bargain over X years at such-and-such yield. All I know is how miserable I felt for over a decade.

Two paragraphs ago I tried to use "it's" as a contraction for "it has". I feel like that may have been correct when I learned those words in 1978, but is not correct now. Anyone?

Ingrid got a smart phone. My position as "useful person to have around" just took a major hit. She has not been able to successfully activate it yet, so there's hope.

Oh, listen to this story about me being a dumbass:

So, I finished up Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, a couple years after reading Ancillary Justice. I looked on the library website to get the third book in the series, and The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. It took a while for the holds to arrive, since libraries are both half-shut-down and probably under a ton of pressure from people out of work, parents homeschooling, and bored people who remembered that libraries exist.

They'll hold the book for 10 days at your branch library. It took seven days for both books to be at the library at the same time. Once they were, I went and looked at the hours for my branch: three days a week, three hours a day. And I had missed the hours that day, so I had to wait all weekend.

Labor Day weekend.

Naturally the day after Labor Day is Tuesday, and the library's not open on Tuesday. On Wednesday I was super depressed (see first, second paragraphs) and I forgot I was supposed to call the branch and set up an appointment to come by and pick up my holds. I had tried calling Tuesday, but no one answered. Funny that, no one answering the phone on a day when your building is closed.

So I felt really stupid, set up a couple of reminders on my calendar app so I wouldn't forget on Friday, tried to call the closed library again on Thursday just in case there was a bored librarian hanging out in the stacks on her day off.

Well, today is Friday, and I called two hours before they open, just in case. And someone answered! I said I was calling to set up an appointment to pick up my holds, and the librarian said "yeah, we're open 1:30 to 4:30," and I said, "great, let me schedule a time" and they said "go ahead, whenever you want in that time frame", and I said, "pardon?" and they said, "we're open for three hours starting at 1:30, so come on in," and I said "I don't need to schedule anything?" and she said "yeah, what have I been saying?" and I said, "well fuck."

If there's anything more on-brand for me than continually fucking up a process which is not actually required for the thing I want to accomplish, and getting real emotionally invested in my own failure, I don't know what it is.

--12:05 PM, EST, Philadelphia PA, pink moon is on its way

It's all at once
written 2020-05-21 00:26:02

As I logged in here today, first time in some time, I noticed there were 146 failed entries. I should go look at the front page and make sure none of them made it through security.

Someone (or some script) has discovered it can submit journal entries to my submission page. A while ago it was just some jerk who left some kind of "u bin H@xx0red!" message, but this time it looks more like someone tried leaving a message that would read or a script that would run when read? I don't know. I leave all the computer brain lifting to @icculus.

It has been a day.

I got up, waiting to hear when my new job starts. It's a project that we got hired for last week, and passed through a selection before the weekend, then notified there would be training on Monday (two days ago) and work beginning Wednesday (today).

Monday went by without any word, then that night they said "oh gosh you gotta fill out these forms get on it" and then sent text messages nudging us to complete them. I generally don't do anything until I'm on the clock -- why would you fill out sixteen unnecessary forms and not get paid for it? But this time they made it sound like the forms were a prerequisite to the project starting. That's bullshit, but they sign the checks, so we are expected to nod solemnly when they spout bullshit.

So Monday passed with no training, and Tuesday passed with no training and no word on when work would start on Wednesday. I spent all of today, Wednesday, gradually accepting there would be no work and no word, just some "technical difficulties" bullshit excuse around quitting time.

Dear reader, I was a prophet.

But all that is past, and this evening was to make up for all the work nonsense possible: I was playing in an Unknown Armies game, live streamed from the author himself, Greg Stolze, with four other players who all ponied up $50 to participate.

I've run UA once, and never played it myself, so I was thrilled. And playing it with the author? Hell yes. I got my Kickstarter exclusive dice. I interviewed my 20-year-old niece to get a better sense of how to play a 19-year-old. I reread the rules and refamiliarized myself with things I thought likely to come up.

I logged in early, hoping to get some time to chat with the other players. Unfortunately, that's not how Zoom works. Zoom is a video conferencing service that has become essential to people during the coronavirus lockdown. It is reportedly super bad at security and Ingrid's company issued a fatwa against using it for law firm business. But it's free and everyone can get it on a phone or computer or tablet.

ASIDE: earlier today, as I waited from 9 through 5 to hear about work, I played World of Warcraft. Yes, I renewed my WoW subscription so I would have something to do during the long hours of staying inside. And for some reason, I was disconnecting all day. Failure to open the Blizzard app, failure to connect to the realm list, failure to stay connected once I started playing. It has become so bad, I feel like I have to quit the game, cancel my subscription. For a while I spent more time DC'ed than I spent connected. Very frustrating!

Why is this relevant? Because at 8:04, four minutes after I should have been online and connected, I realized there was no internet signal. Ingrid noticed it too, and the TV asked us to please restart the router.

WHY NOW? There were NO GODDAMN problems at 7 PM, 7:30 PM, even right at 8 PM. But I was all connected and prepared, had all my accoutrements and supplies, and I was ready, until I wasn't.

Still don't know what the fucking problem was. For all I know, Zoom let someone fuck with my wifi. With no other visible culprits, I can only assume that Comcast is to blame. Fucking Comcast.

So, I log on to a "free" Xfinity signal for as long as it takes to reboot the router. I can hear the other players and the GM talking about how I'm not in the Zoom meeting, and hoping I can eventually log in. I tried communicating in chat to mixed results.

I set the game back ten or fifteen minutes. We only had a two hour window to play in, so that felt tremendously long. It wasn't my fault, and no one blamed me, but fuck did I feel responsible.

Once we got to play, it was okay. I have never played via video conferencing, and I don't like watching RPGs played that way. I don't like people talking over each other and I don't like people getting forgotten in the rush to be heard over one another. Unfortunately, our group was two yelly kids, one kinda yelly kid, and we two normal people forced to listen.

I don't blame the first three dudes - they were playing magic weirdos and the played them appropriately. But with the setting of Unknown Armies, having two magic weirdos and three bystanders kinda means this is a story about the weirdos. The bystanders still have free will, and can do things with their knowledge of magic or people, but my skills were literally "straight A student" and "dirtbag family". I didn't have much I could do.

And three times during the game, my internet connection shit the bed. I only found out about this when another player or the GM noticed that my video window had frozen, because my character didn't have much chance to say or do anything, and got overtalked when she did.

My character was eventually shot, by someone we never saw, with a rifle, which aside from being the tie-breaking vote in the decision to go ahead with a burglary, was the most she contributed to the story.

This has been a day.

--5/21/2020, about two-three months into coronavirus lockdown, Philadelphia PA, he jokes and tells me it's a lie detector

Insert REM song title here
written 2020-03-23 11:57:50

We are a full week into the coronavirus lockdown, and it is not that different from being unemployed.

I'm supposed to start a project working from home, but they're moving from "BE READY" to "like check your email I dunno" which sometimes foretells the stillborn project.

Social distancing is probably going to kill my D&D game, though part of the group thinks playing via teleconferencing is fine. Trying to watch one of those games gives me nightmares, so I can't guess what trying to play in one will be like.

One of the things I do when I'm home from work is frequent grocery shopping. Having to carry a fuckton of groceries up the hill to our building sucks, so being able to carry all of your shopping in one trip (as dudes prefer) is preferable. The coronavirus lockdown makes that socially irresponsible, especially considering how many AARP cards I saw at the store the last time I went.

All this staying home is for your benefit, old people! Stop fucking it up!

Two weeks ago I considered dropping off Facebook. This week I can't imagine life without it. Having Ingrid in the house 24/7 is a little nerve-wracking. The virus appears to already be in its exponential growth phase.

I'm going to check how much toilet paper and how many bags of Doritos I still have. I imagine one of those represents my need to go shopping and the other is my desire to go shopping.

--11:54 AM, EDT, Philadelphia, PA, they'll find you in the basement

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