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I keep seeing everyone post things about how badly 2010 sucked and how it was the worst year ever, etc. I used to be like that, cussing the back of every year as it walked through the door. Eff you, 2001. And 2004? You can eat my entire ass lukewarm.

But, this year, I'm having difficulty giving the one finger salute and frowning at everything that's happened. It wasn't a good year, not by a long stretch. I had to put down my 23-year old cat and 18 year-old cat, both of whom I'd raised since they were wee kittens, within a week of each other. I lost $10k worth of overtime that I rely on. I watched people I love greatly go through mass amounts of pain, completely helpless to offer succor. I've spent more time in one of the deepest depressions I've ever than I've spent out of it. My OCD went almost out of control. I didn't start writing again, even though I swore I would spend the eight month break from school working on a story I've been kicking around. I've cried and been badly hurt, struggled fiercely to not throw my hands up and call uncle to the whole goddamn show.

But, I've also spent the year re-trying old things I'd previously hated. Red wine, John Carpenter's "The Thing", and rice made the cut. Beer, coffee, Slayer, and getting up before 9 in the morning are all still on the shit list. I've read more good books than bad, discovered new music obsessions, and grew out the beginnings of a rocking grey streak in my hair. I enrolled in mortuary school and just finished my first semester. Chris and made it through another year without me killing him in his sleep (or vice versa, if we're being all confessional and shit). We got Timothy and Henry Lee. I made mass amounts of amazing food. I drove my Mini. A lot. I laughed. A lot. I feel I made great strides in my constant struggle to be a real person.

I would be lying if I said there was more good than bad. There wasn't. But, the good carries more weight with me. I can't ever ignore that. And telling the year it can fuck off and live in the street also feels like I'm turning my back on the amazing and awesome things, too.

So, in defiance of telling the year to eat a bag of dicks, and in honor of the closing of probably the most interesting decade of my life (because everyone seems to be ignoring the decade itself in favor of how shitty the year has been), I present to you:

My top 5 horror movies of the decade (which were seriously difficult to pin down and the discussion of which to pick resulted in raised voices in my household)

(Not in any kind of order, mind you. I would never be able to do that.)

Being as ridiculous of a horror!nerd as I am, the construction of this list was extremely serious business that it almost made me throw in the towel on several occasions due to its sheer nature. There were just too many absolutely incredible films in the broad genre that have come out in the past decade to be able to whittle it down to just five. Only five? What manner of bullshit is that? Five for each year, perhaps. The idea of choosing only five movies to represent the best for the entire decade was so ludicrous and impossible, it bordered on the realms of non-Euclidean. But, I persevered.

I managed to finally do it by giving myself strict parameters. No horror!comedies (like Shaun of the Dead or Fido, both of which I love like I'm getting a paycheck to do so), no franchises (this ruled out Jason X, which I also adore). The films couldn't be remakes (leaves out Dawn of the Dead) or be purely spooky atmospheric!horror (The Orphanage), nor could any gore be gratuitously non-central to the plot. And there definitely needed to be a good plot. They had to be fresh ideas; the kind that feel like a slap in the face. They all also had to beget an extreme emotional reaction in me. Not just jump scares, something more visceral.

It took me a while, but I did it:

Cabin Fever
28 Days Later
The Descent

One of these actually gave me an anxiety attack during a particular scene, two of them have scenes where I will physically cover my eyes (and that hasn't happened since I was 11). One has a scene that makes me cry like a little girl every time I watch it. And one blurs the line between reality and delusion so perfectly, it gives me chills.

I briefly thought about doing this again for the five best books of the decade, but (for once) logic prevailed and once again proved that I can at least occasionally figure out when something is not The Best Idea Ever. My reading tastes are so eclectic and genre-spanning, it would be headache inducing.

Five best albums, however...
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I am currently not at work. Why is that?

My hours have been cut to 32 a week.

I don't even have any words for this.

Last week, after I was told (on the same day I had to take not one, but TWO finals, mind you), I was full of so much dread and apprehension that my skin was taut with tension and you probably could have bounced a silver dollar off the black cloud hovering above my head. Since then, I've made some plans (like filing for partial unemployment, which I did this morning) and have managed to pull myself mostly together. Mostly.

I'm scared. 40 hours a week is nigh on a disaster for me, paycheck-wise. 32 is almost incomprehensible. The partial UE will help somewhat, hopefully enough to keep my head above water. I just need to keep treading. I plug away at the job websites, but there really isn't much out there that isn't way above my skill sets or impossibly far to travel. I never heard back from the place I actually interviewed with, though. I'm not surprised, though the Engineer is. I kept saying that the likelihood of me getting the very first job I interview for was so slim that I couldn't set my hopes on it. Perhaps that was shooting myself in the foot, but I certainly didn't go into things thinking or acting like it was useless to give it my all. I went in with all barrels loaded; I just missed the target. Or the target missed me, however you wish to look at it.

School's done for the semester, thankfully. I think I managed to pull a B in Abnormal Psych, despite the discovery I had missed one of the exams by accident (and it was the section on schizophrenia, something I could have done with my eyes closed and the book shut). I got a 90 on the final. Moral Choices, I still have no clue as to what I got in that class because the professor does not give us the ability to check our grades throughout the semester like the other classes did. Women in Literature, I think I got a B as well. Given that all three of those were throwaway classes designed to keep my student loans off my back, I'm not incredibly concerned about performance (and lo, does it show), but I'm irritated with myself for doing that to my GPA. Intro to Funeral Service, I got an A (duh) and when I got my final paper back during the last class, the professor had written: This is the best paper I've read all year. THANK YOU! hee.

Next semester starts in late January. Human Anatomy twice a week and Funeral Service Principles, which sounds a lot like Intro to Funeral Service to me. Both are in meatspace, so I'll be hauling ass to campus three times a week, something which does not fill me full of joy and song. A necessary evil.

I've been conscripted by the Engineer and two of our friends into GMing a RPG, something I fought most valiantly. For months, they tortured me because they wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons, but didn't have anyone to run the game. They wanted me to do it, despite the fact I've only ever been a player in any game and hadn't even done that since my ex-husband and I split up nine years ago. I kept telling them no, no, and no. Finally, after waxing rhapsodical about the yesteryears of playing Kult (it was always my favorite game ever), I made the mistake of saying I'd be willing to play it, but alas- the books are out of print!

Cue my birthday and three gaily wrapped presents laid into my hot little hands, which turned out to be the three necessary books to start a proper game. hoom.

I put it off and off and off again, but eventually caved and started writing an adventure for them. I decided to use my old character, Charlie, as the main NPC for right now and wrote her into the history in such a way that some of the others who used to play could easily be inserted if they ever felt the urge to come by for a one shot.

It's interesting picking up a character I'd put so much into, after so long, and seeing what's become of here after all these years. Bill and I had put a lot of work into fleshing her and her story out way back when, but coming back to it is like returning to a previously written character in an actual story. It's weird, I've never revisited something I'd written after quite that much time since first creation. I fell back into her role readily, but it's difficult to play her without having the former surrounding cast there as well.

After only a brief introductory game, where I brought everyone together and set up the bare bones of a storyline, many weeks passed where we did not play. Chalk it up to the general malaise and ennui I was subjecting myself to if you like, but I didn't have the time or energy to put into a game until this past weekend. We played for roughly three hours, much later than the Engineer's normal bedtime generally allows and I'm sure he'll be feeling that when he gets home from work tonight, but it felt...good. We didn't get to quite finish the episode I had constructed, but that's ok. I stopped things at a point where it will fit seamlessly with what I concocted in my head on the drive home from Delaware this afternoon (I'd gone to get cigarettes).

I'm actually kind of nerdishly excited to get the rest of the game going with the seed of the story I've managed to grab onto. It heavily cribs from Caitlin Kiernan's books and cosmology, unabashedly so at that, but her writing fits in so well with the Kult universe that I couldn't resist it. I came home and scribbled notes down in an almost fever, which I'll go back to later and draft into a proper outline. Probably tonight, after I've gone out and deposited my paycheck.

One of the things I never knew before, since I'd never run a game, is how easily it is to go arse over teakettle with the power of how fun it is to just purely torture the PCs. Now I know why Bill was so into this for so long, and still is. Perhaps as the game progresses, I'll write entries for what goes on in the game. Energy permitting, obviously.
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Tonight, at three a.m., I am going to be heading over to Frankenstein comics in Woodbury for a 75% off sale. I have unsuccessfully attempted convinced myself that this is purely a social experiment to see what kind of unwashed you can't marry her, Aquaman! you're from two different WORRRRRLDS! kind of nerds show up, but the sweet siren song of graphic novels at a fraction of their cover price is all too alluring.

After replenishing most of the comics I lost when I split up with my ex-husband, I was kind of at a loss for what to do. Five years saw me going backwards in time and buying books I no longer owned, not paying attention to anything new coming out.

So now, my collection has been fairly rebuilt (I'm really only missing some Hellboys, at this point, mand I bought the Engineer all the Preacher graphic novels, so they're at least within easy reach) and I'm not really sure what to start reading. All of the other titles I read ended in the past few years. Or, like Hellblazer, are slow to publish graphic novels.

I've started reading Fables and Reflections, purely on a whim. And it's half-decent. There's a serious twee-ness to it that I'm at odds with, but the stories have been attention-holding so far. I'm four graphic novels into the line so far.

Last time I went to my regular pusher comic book dealer, I picked up something called Wet Moon, which was sweetly teen-goth, pretty pretty pretty, and angsty. This always makes my inner fifteen year old baby bat squee excitedly and flap her hands.

But other than that, there's been noting new that's caught my eye. The Engineer keeps trying to convince me I'm going to enjoy The Punisher- Max or is it Maxxx? I haven't the faintest notion. All I know is that the silly man refuses to listen to me when I tell him that in fact, no I will NOT enjoy reading that comic and because Punisher is a giant pile of shit to please stop bugging me about it. Not even if there was a shark on one of the covers.

(There really was. It was a last ditch effort to get me to listen.)

So, what the hell should I start reading?
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The bake sale went well, I think. I wound up not making the bread because...err, I forgot about the dough. It wound up staying out all night Friday and all day Saturday. When I finally got home and checked out the bowls, they smelled horribly of beer. So, I threw them out and started again (only one bowl this time and it's currently in dough form and finishing its two hour sit).

Both halves of the Irish cream chocolate cake sold, all of the peppermint chocolate chip cookies sold. And the majority of the cupcakes went, as well. I brought home the rest of them and ate one last night. Verdict: HOLY MARY MOTHER OF MICE. That is a serious effing cupcake that kind of made me a little dizzy to eat. Sweet Jesus.

On the way home, I suddenly had the urge to hit the comic book store. I very rarely have the chance to go because they always close before I get out of work and thus, the Engineer usually goes without me. I've been working on building up my Hellblazer graphic novel collection and the Alan Moore line of Swamp Thing, so some holes were filled in their lines. I also picked up a Books of Magic I didn't previously have (and which I actually didn't really enjoy, it was kind of boring). And another graphic novel called God Save the Queen, which I'd never heard of before and which turned out to be quite good.

Friday night, Aristotle had another incident with the wood chips. This time, the damn prey was on a paper towel and there was no dead mousie dance to be seen. And he missed. Wood chips in the snout, panicking me trying to get them out by myself with hands that are shakey on a good day. It wasn't as bad as the first time, but I was still freaking out. Especially because it's a little difficult to wrangle a squirmy snake, pin his head, force his mouth open, and fish out wood chips. It should take five hands to do this. I had two at my disposal.

I tried to container feed him last night to avoid all of this happening a third time, but he was really not down with that. grr. Next week, I will try to lay down towels in his tank and then do the dead mousie dance for him. Rather irritating. He was such a good eater before. Then he had to get all stupid with his strikes. Not fun.
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It is morning, rainy morning, and I am sitting at my desk and attempting to eat a cup of whole milk vanilla truffle organic yogurt. This is not going as well as I had originally planned. For starters, I actually hate yogurt, despite the fact that I keep trying to convince myself otherwise. Secondly, the yogurt is vanilla truffle, meaning chocolate. Mix that shit up and what do you get? A substance that very much resembles poo. I do not eat poo-based substances. I just threw it out a minute ago, in defeat.

It's been a vastly icky weekend, as the keen-eyed could probably already tell. But, there have been a few bright spots. Reading the Harry Potter book on Saturday felt like Christmas. Eating cereal late Saturday night with the Engineer while we watched a documentary about credit card debt (Maxed Out, I so recommend this). Going grocery shopping, one of my all-time favorite things to do. And being given a copy of Saga of the Swamp Thing, personally signed to me by Steve Bissette.

I may need to repeat myself on that bit: I GOT A COPY OF THIS, SIGNED BY THIS GUY. Personally signed! To me! From him! With a Swamp Thing doodle!

I do not think many people out there realize exactly how fucking awesome this is.
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Saturday dawned bright and clear, with me burrowed in my bed and snarling at my alarm clock. I needed to be up early, in the shower and then dressed, because a crew of us were heading to WizardCon in Philadelphia (comic book convention). I hadn't gotten good sleep the night before; I kept drifting in that strange area in between sleep and dream and then jolting awake for no reason whatsoever. At one point, I was convinced that someone was in the apartment (I'd dreamt I heard the front door slam shut) and had to do a bleary-eyed, stalker-movie walkthrough of the place before I could be satisfied that I was just getting my crazy all over everything.

I managed to forget my camera for the convention, only realizing once we were well and truly proper on our way. hrmph.

Wemble and I foraged through the dealer room, looking for interesting things (she was looking for manga and I mocked her a lot about it). The Engineer looked for comics to fill the spaces on his list. And Mister Kyle, well, I don't know what the hell he did most of the day, except be obnoxiously hilarious.

I had explained cosplay to the Engineer the night before, while trying to convince him that the convention was going to be made of awesome. I don't think he quite believed me until he spotted his first one: a girl dressed as the Baroness from GI Joe. hee. We also saw a Darth Vader, a Boba Fett, some fat guy in white sweatpants dressed as one of the people from Team Rocket (I almost lost my mind), and the Littlest Storm Trooper. The Littlest Storm Trooper was not, as you may imagine, a child. Instead, they were a head shorter than their other Storm Trooper companions. Kyle geeked out over this for about an hour and I almost collapsed laughing. At one point, Wemble and I ran into Kevin Person and had a brief conversation with him where I dropped an empty Vitamin Water bottle and he told me that since I'd lost my boyfriend in the crowd, I could take my pick of "all the other good-looking guys here". hah. None of them would have the same sweet dance moves as the Engineer. I reckon I'll keep him.

My only purchase was a squeaky, two-headed stuffed bat doll from Devout Dolls. Their names are Fang and Chewy. I almost had him taken away from me in the car because I was having squeaky conversations with him.

Kyle: You do realize that if I had bought that doll, I'd have been kicked out of the car by now?
me: *squeaky squeaky squeaky* You know what that translates as? "No one cares what you have to say."

It also has been decided that my life's mission is to open a ghetto-ass hair salon called, "Cut A Bitch". I called Joanna to tell her about this. In return, she told me that our Baltimore office manager has not one, but two gold teeth. And they're her canines. I am in love.

I serenaded everyone in the car, performing a duet of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" at one point with the Engineer for about twenty minutes before Wemble threatened to kill us and loot our bodies. We had lunch/dinner at Olive Garden where I drank no sangria (hrmph), ate a chocolate gelato that now owns my soul, and almost got caught shouting about vaginas and the Engineer's great love for them by our waitress.

Home found me swiftly passing out on my couch while Wemble watched an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit. I couch-slept for a bit, well and truly taken over by exhaustion, and thusly, missed out on a trip to visit Rowan and The Husband (and the Amazing Larry, who is apparently now known as Smooth-Talking Larry or somesuch). Couch sleep is a wonderous thing, but I woke up in a daze, thinking I was hungry. Wandered into the kitchen, prepared a beef stroganoff half-asleep, then decided I actually wasn't hungry. It's still on the stove. I should put that away.

Now I'm wide-awake. The Engineer has gone to bed. And I don't have anything I really want to do. I could do laundry, but I don't feel like it. I could read, but I don't feel like it. I could roll cigarettes, but I really don't feel like that.

Sleep again soon? Perhaps.


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January 2011

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