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On running into people you know in a small town.

In Post on November 8, 2009 by BillieHarper Tagged: , , ,

I grew up in this town, if someone doesn’t know me, they probably know someone from my family…at least on Mom’s side.  Since I moved back after leaving college and going to Denver for a while, I’m experiencing much, if not most, of what made me want to leave so badly in the first place.  For most of the three years since I returned from Denver, I worked out of town, long (or weird hours), which kept me from having to deal with the “Hey, are you still in college?” and “Oh, you’re working here, now?  I didn’t know you were back!”

Now, working in town again, at a place most residents frequent, at that, has brought all that back into my life.  I deal with it fairly well, with a smile and a few words that don’t make me sound like a complete and utter failure, but I’m still looking forward to getting out of here.  There are only so many times you can explain what’s happened and where you’ve been and that, no, you haven’t graduated from college, you just left to take some time off, before you start going crazy.  Honestly, people, I may not hate this town as much as I did in high school, but it doesn’t mean I want to deal with all your small-town curiosity and your stupid advice and the “Oh, so you’re going back to school!  Good for you!”s.  I’m getting out, if it’s the last thing I do.  And then, I’m only coming back for holidays.  See you then.

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Happy Halloween!

In Post on October 30, 2009 by BillieHarper Tagged: , ,

I know I’m a few hours early, but I know I won’t have time to make this post tomorrow.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween, though I love spooky things: movies, pictures, books, poems, and the like.  So, in honor of the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve, I bring you one of my favorites:

 

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering,
fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
‘Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and
flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed
he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no
craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “other friends have flown
before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never- nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and
door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he
hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or
devil!-
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or
devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend,” I shrieked,
upstarting-
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my
door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the
floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!

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How not to offend your boss…

In Post on October 18, 2009 by BillieHarper Tagged: ,

I’m no stranger to the workforce.  I’ve had several different jobs, with several different types of bosses, and yet, I still can’t quite figure out how to bring up “sensitive” subjects with your boss without offending them.  I mean, how do you talk to them about getting a raise, being scheduled too much, or the fact that you deserve a promotion over someone else?  I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately because of my crazy work schedule.  When I went in today, I saw that my boss had changed my schedule for the week (starting tomorrow) after I’d just checked it last night.  It wasn’t the normal “I’m switching your hours around, it shouldn’t be a problem” kind of change.  It was an “I’m adding ten hours to your already hectic schedule” kind of change.  To say the least, I wasn’t happy.  I’m still getting paid minimum wage, have been working 30 or more hours a week, covering extra shifts when needed, and taking on all the responsibilities of the assistant manager – who refuses to work weekends.  So, I have a problem: how do I bring all this up without going on the offensive and getting angry with her?  I have to admit, I’m never good in socially (or professionally) awkward situations.  I guess that’s why I’m writing this…to kind of…give myself the strength, the courage, to actually sit down with my boss tomorrow morning and bring up all these concerns.  I don’t want her to think that I’m trying to give her an ultimatum or that I’m threatening her, I just want what I feel is rightly deserved.  I’ve put in a lot of hard work, I practically live at my work, and I’m there almost as much as she is, so why am I still getting paid a hell of a lot less than more than a few other people that I work with and who get much better perks than I?  There are people who are allowed to pick and choose when they work, to call in sick and not feel like a complete asshole.  Speaking of sick…I can feel myself getting sick already, I’m a little afraid that I’ve caught the dreaded H1N1 from my mom, and my boss keeps talking about how I “can’t get sick”.  I understand where she’s coming from, we’re short-staffed as it is, but how can I even begin to get feeling better if I’m always working and don’t have time to rest?  Not to mention I have almost no time to do anything else, and I’m in school.  I don’t know how she thinks I can do it all…

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Another year older, another year wiser.

In Post on October 16, 2009 by BillieHarper Tagged: ,

In just an hour, the date will turn to October 16, and I’ll turn 24.  Hard to believe how fast this year’s gone, and pretty soon, I’m not going to be able to even keep up with my own birthdays.  It’s interesting to me how much meaning we seem to put into birthdays.  We celebrate, we throw parties, we buy gifts (sometimes, very expensive gifts), and we even go out of our way to make other people’s birthdays once-in-a-lifetime special.  Of course, as we get older, we like to tell people that they aren’t important to us, that we don’t want to be reminded of another year going by, but, I think the truth is that we really enjoy having a day – a holiday – that’s all our own…to a point.

Even if we only take the day to pamper ourselves, to stay in, do something we love, it’s still special.  It’s a day to reminisce, a day to remember what we’ve done with our lives, how far we’ve come, where we’re headed.  Of course, there are those milestone birthdays, those that hold special meaning in different societies.  As far as I know, 24 isn’t one of those.  And, really, 21 is the last big birthday we have before 30, and then it’s 40, 50, and so on…I only hope that we accept them with grace, dignity, and the realization that age is merely a number.  What really matters is that we keep ourselves young.  After all, you’re only as young (or old) as you feel, and, me…I feel like I’m turning 11 again.

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The joy of new technology!

In Post on October 15, 2009 by BillieHarper Tagged: , , , ,

My birthday is still two days away, but because FedEx is unbelievably prompt in their delivery and my parents are really great at the whole “being prepared” thing, I have a new toy to play with! And thus I write to you from my brand new, shiny, purple, laptop. It’s funny that I had the same reaction to this as I did when I was five and got the exact doll I wanted for Christmas.

So, why, as adults, do we still act like kids on Christmas morning? Like our lives will never be the same now that we have a shiny new tool? Probably because they never will, and that’s a fact. I know that my life is vastly improved by this addition to my life. If only because I can once again experience sitting in front of the TV while typing a blog entry. It’s sad, really, that we line up for the latest cell phone, video game, personal technology…people wait in the cold for hours for these things and pay more money than some of us spend in a month to have these new toys. Even sadder is the fact that, once we have them in our hands, there’s someone out there already working on a newer, faster, prettier, shinier device for you to wait for next year.

It’ll never end. And our lives are forever changed.

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The rush that comes with that cool October wind…and a win!

In Post on October 2, 2009 by BillieHarper Tagged: , , , , , ,

Okay, I couldn’t help myself from writing this post. As a faithful baseball (and Rockies) fan, I think it’s in my (unwritten) contract. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch today’s game because someone (read: my boss) had me scheduled this afternoon. Of course, who could have known last week that today would be the day to clinch our second playoff berth in three years? Note that I say “our”…I feel that through 17 seasons of being a fan, through the ups and downs, the successes and failures that I deserve a little piece of this, too. If nothing else, I’ve at least contributed to their revenue for what adds up to be more than half of my own lifetime.

Of course, this day isn’t just about this year, it’s not just about last year (read: heartbreak for the entire offseason), and it’s not *just* about the last 17 years of my life and the fact that I feel that this season was fated – at least from early June when they finally fired Clint Hurdle (sorry Clint, but you just weren’t cutting it). Two years ago, on this very night – October 1 – I was sitting in my living room watching the play-in game versus the Padres. I remember the fear and anxiety like it was yesterday. It started in about the 3rd inning…that’s how into this I get.

Of course, one thing is very different from that year: I’m not headed to Denver next week. In 2007, I had a very destined trip to Denver already planned for October, long before Rocktober was even in sight, and I was lucky enough to see the Rockies clinch the NLDS versus the Phillies on my first night in town. I wish I could make it out there this year, as I’m hoping for some retribution for that awful end to ’07.

But, there are still games to play – who knows, we might even end up NL West Champs! – and the playoffs aren’t exactly easy to go through. It’s a nerve wracking experience from the comfort of my own home.

But, Rockies, know that I’ll be celebrating with you just the same!

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A Day off in the Real World.

In Post on September 29, 2009 by BillieHarper Tagged: , , , , , ,

One day off this week, and I’ve spent most of it lying around the house watching TV. It’s not unusual. When I’m not inspired to do anything, I tend to waste away the day doing, well, nothing. And living here, in a place that is probably the most uninspiring thing in my life…well, I’m not often inclined to do much. Maybe that’s why I spend so much of my time reading, studying, and crocheting anymore. I’ve been doing a lot of that, crocheting. I’m hoping that I can have my afghan done at least by Christmas, if not earlier. I really should take some photos of it to post, as I’m rather impressed with myself and my dedication to actually finishing it.

Speaking of creating things, a friend of mine has offered to teach me how to knit. I’m hoping we can get together soon so I can maybe try my hand at knitting some cute accessories for winter – scarves, hats, socks…maybe a sweater? She and I are talking about having knitting/crocheting parties (which makes me laugh and think that, really, we’re just a couple of old women), and I think it would be tons of fun!

I’ve also been writing a lot of letters and cards lately. I miss writing letters, and think that, in reality, something is lost with the impersonal nature of e-mail and Facebook-ing. So, I’ve written a couple of letters to very dear friends, sent a few cards just to say I’m thinking about them, and, in general, have just been having a good time with it. I’m hoping that maybe I can get into handmaking cards like Mom has done in the past, but first I think she and I need to clear off some space in the house to have room for it!

And, as I reach the pinnacle of my creative outlets of late, let’s talk about the house. I’m supposed to wait to finish my bedroom until after we get the wall fixed so the brick doesn’t continue caving in, but I’m really thinking that I should just start painting now. I really want to create a space that’s all my own as opposed to the space that was created for me. Of course, I still don’t spend much of my time there, as the computer and TV and everything are still upstairs. But, if I can find a new laptop, get wireless internet, and have the cable wired through the basement? There’s no stopping me! And I’ve got plenty of ideas for the design of my room! I’m actually very excited about the whole thing, as it panders to my former career dreams (when I was about 15) of being an interior designer. Then I realized that you have to be able to draw plans for design and that I therefore couldn’t do it. I can’t draw a straight line correctly!