The Nitty-Gritty

Hmm… I think I’ve actually used that title before… Oh, well, who said my “everyday thoughts” had to be original? Of course, they aren’t very everyday, now, are they? And I have no excuse. Not that I would make one anyway.

I will give reasons, however, although I won’t go into the deep, mysterious differences between reasons and excuses. First and foremost, I’m hankering to redesign this site. I love changing the design again and again and having fun with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) layouts, but I’m having a little trouble with this one in my head. I’m not an artistic or creative person, by any means, and there are two things I want: a more efficient/navigable design and a friggin’ picture (I think everyone should take a look up at that pseudo-spiral thingy and realize just how much it sucks). I’m not so worried about the layout, I just have to cough it up from the back of my mind. But the picture. Grr. I can’t draw for shit, and Photoshop, quite simply, kicks my ass. And I have no idea what I want, really, even if I could make it. A design? It would have to be very über-cool, and something original and descriptive would be nice. And yes, über is a part of my everyday speech. If I went for something like a cartoonish pic of me (a couple of my buddies have suggested a South Park-style construction paper-looking version of me, due to my low humor), I would have to either attempt to draw it on paper myself, pay someone else to do it, or have a go at it in Paint (or Gimp). The major art achievement of my life was this comic strip I made (maybe back in 10th grade) that was a series of pictures of stick figures. I can do a mean stick figure, with clothes, expressions, and everything. Kinda like those Screen Bean characters from Microsoft Word. Except with clothes, ‘cuz I’m modest like that. But when I start fiending for a redesign, I become slightly less interested in updating that all-important content of the site. Bad, I know. But that’s reason one.

Two: I’ve got three weeks of exams coming up. If I live, I’ll be back to say “salut” (although I need to get started on the “hola” too) much more often, methinks. But I’ve got about… 11 exams, 5 of which span two days each, all of which run from about an hour and a half to three hours. With no potty breaks during the actual exam. So I’ve been studying.

I’ve also been reading. I splurged this past weekend and bought War of Honor by David Weber and March to the Stars by Weber and John Ringo, both of which are still in hardback format. Damn good books, though, and I don’t mind supporting cool writers. I have a stack of about 13-15 books to add reviews of. Grr.

I’ve also been living a little. This past Thursday, I spent about four hours at The Evening Muse, listening to the open-mic session, then settling down with Chris English, Lauren Echo, and, of course, Taylor Roberts’ Music. English played a song, then Echo, then TR, and then back to English for a total of six songs each. Unfortunately, when English played, you really did “settle down”, and wish you could be just about anywhere else. By the fourth time around, mother-deary and I were quite grinding our teeth at the end of TR’s song. But Lauren Echo and Taylor Robers’ Music kicked ass. Lauren Echo has got a great voice and, in my unexpert opinion, was good on the geetar. Taylor Roberts is very much in danger of becoming repetitious with the drum beats, but they maintained their charisma and coolness throughout the show. I also… (fanfare, please) got signed CDs by both Echo and TR! My mother practically stalked the guys to get it, but she got it nonetheless. Not that anyone could blame her for stalking them. It was a good night, as I got to talk to Nathan‘s mother, as well as see Nathan himself dance once or twice. Woo-hoo!

Saturday was Prom Day. Except, of course, that I didn’t go to prom. I did something much better than playing dress-up to spend an evening playing wallflower in a hot, musky room with the entire junior and senior class “booty-dancing” lasciviously and idiotically to a string of purely rap songs about bitches and hos as the male population tried to ensure that prom night was going to be their lucky night. Oh, yeah. I got together with my buddy Dulin around 7:30-ish and we hit Concord Mills, one of those big-ass malls with absolutely nothing of interest in it except a Macado’s, a large bookstore, and a large theater with the latest movies. First thing to do: see Identity. Loved the twists, thought something about the directing was a little off. But I do know that Dulin jumped during the first shocker (I hate telling the plots of movies, so I won’t), although he tried to laugh it off. With over an hour to kill before our next movie, we took a “leisurely” walk around the mall, meaning that if I hadn’t stopped in the bookstore, we would have been back to the theater in about 10 minutes, max (the mall is in an ellipse shape, for those unfamiliar with the Mills malls). In the bookstore, I blew 50 bucks I didn’t have on those books I mentioned before, then Dulin and I just sat and talked for the next… 45 minutes or so. Highly enlightening conversation; I think I laughed from both humor and shock for about 44 minutes of the discussion. Then we saw the real purpose of my trek to the theater: Phone Booth. I’m going to be brief with this and just say that watching Colin Ferrell on screen for over an hour was a damned good way to spend my evening. The movie was good, too, although Dulin, as a semi-spoda-be-military and gun affectionado, had some beef with a couple of details. But they weren’t significant. Not at all.

We then drove all around Jack’s barn to get to Michael‘s house for his after-prom party. We hit every major highway in Charlotte, when there was a much shorter way we could have taken, thanks to Dulin’s desire to adhere strictly to the directions given on the paper. But we did get through most of Tool’s Undertow CD. After a few roadway scares (when the ramp sign says to go 35 mph, I personally think you should go, at most, about 40. Not 70), we arrived and settled in. Actually, we played wallflowers there for a while, too, although there were only about 10 people there. Michael and I decided to go ahead and finish the corruption of Mia before we graduate, so we threw in American Pie. When I asked Mia later if she liked it, she said, very quietly, “No.” “Why not?” (I’m already laughing at this point) Again quietly: “It was… gross.” I didn’t stick around to watch it, as I’d just sat through two movies (and if not for the coolness of seeing Cusack back on the big screen, I would have been hard-pressed to sit through the first one–I just don’t like sitting through movies that much); instead, I played cheesy N64 games with Michael and Cameron (both of whom whooped my tail) and chatted about movies with Eric, a friend of Michael’s. After their movie ended, I spent an indefinite amount of time asphyxiating from laughter as Chris (not Dulin, whose name is also Chris) hit a manic mood and regaled us all with stories of the sleep-deprived loonies at this college program he attended over the summer. When Chris laughs, I laugh, for no other reason than the fact that I know he can’t get control of himself and will continue laughing as I laugh, which leads me to laugh more. He guffaws, I giggle. It didn’t help that Chris was being randomly tickled as we both calmed down, starting the cycle all over again. He’s got a ridiculous laugh; everyone else seemed to just sit there and stare at us as Chris hacked and laughed all over the table of food and I curled into a ball on the floor. I declare him officially banned from story-telling at parties, especially given the “mixed company” usually there. We had a couple of girls that just sort of said “eww” at his punch-lines and ruined the mood, then there were those of us that quite literally laid out on the floor gasping for air. Of course, such a loud and jolly guy sounded like a freight train going through the house when he finally went to sleep. The next morning, Dulin and I packed up and left while folks started drinking sodas and eating junk again. Yuck-o. No shit like that until after the second meal of the day, please.

Then I went home and read my books and studied for my exams. And now I’m off to read more of the latest Weber tomb (about 850 pages) and think about studying for my exams.

Oh, yeah: boo on McGinley for style in Identity; I much prefer the exaggerated facial-expressions and style of the folks on Scrubs. He was too much of a non-entity in the movie.

Shhhh…

Isn’t it funny how it’s always the fucker shh’ing people that turns the ever so quiet testing environment into a mass of shifting, sighing people? Maybe it’s just me.

Yes, I disappeared for a tenday or so (I’ve always wanted an excuse to use that word). Last week was Spring Break and I went into a book- and music-lover’s hole. In other words, I had not a single interesting thought that would fit in here. I didn’t even leave my house until Wednesday afternoon, and that was just a “short” trip (if any trip is actually short in Charlotte’s traffic) to pick up some books.

If you are even remotely interested in music (of the popular sort, with words and stuff) and haven’t listened to Kweli‘s “Get By”, I might suggest you rectify that situation immediately. But it’s understandable to have not heard it; I personally rarely listen to the radio, and less-so to the two shitty rap stations here in Charlotte (hold your peace if you disagree). When I’m going to be bombarded with more commercials than music, in addition to the fact that there are about… 10 songs on their playlist, not counting the occasional “oldies” (like Tupac, Biggie, and other songs a couple of years old), I’m going to avoid those stations. It doesn’t help that we actually get new music slower than it arrives on stations in L.A., sometimes by weeks. But that Kweli song is good. No misogyny, no violence, good beats, nice flow. And I’d never heard of him at all until about 3 days ago. I’m so damn slow, I know.

I fell out of the blogging world as well, and found myself with several days’ worth of posts to catch up on. Interesting ones to read: George on ads (although I still don’t see the problem with that cute guy bouncing in the boxer-briefs… Yum. Ahem. Sorry.), The HSW on the VH1 50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists (I’m hardly an authority on rap music, but I agreed with many of these complaints, as well as some others mentioned on a rap station here), Jason’s visit to a strip joint, and subsequent comments (I must admit that I always thought strip clubs would be kinda like what he described–just rather depressing), J.’s crush develops (this is one of those situations that makes me go “awww”. Yeah, I’m a dork, sue me).

Yearbook signing has begun at our school, and everyone had better get the shit signed before May 2, because many of us are testing straight through the third week of May, often two 3-4 hour tests a day. But yearbook signing has always been interesting to me. I’ll get ahold of Dulin’s yearbook, and can’t think of shit to write that doesn’t mimic that coolness he wrote in mine. But if the Little Shit gave me his, I could probably come up with a decent half page of stuff to spout. More on the Little Shit later. I’ve bought yearbooks every year of high school, and had all of my friends, whether they were returning the next year or not, sign it. It makes for a great timeline to mark the progression of friendship, not because of the actual writing, but due to the memories evoked just reading the entries. In my mind I have to link Dulin’s entry this year to our plans to partially skip the prom bruhaha this weekend (we are going to see a movie, then go to an after-prom party thrown by TGM that I invited us to), this war and our debates on its causes and effects, and, of course, the fact that he always backs down when the conversation could take an explosive or violent turn (read: when I get that look in my eye that I would just love for him to try to make a case for the effectiveness of forcing a democratic government on a people. That’s not one he wants to start, trust me). The same goes for Jenny, Michael, YYF (who just had her name officially changed to Mia and would kill me if I wrote out her old name here, but was still cool enough to satisfy my love of written languages by writing her pretty former name and a sentence in Chinese in my book), Ross, and others.

On a tangent: the Little Shit. The LS is one of those kids that you either were in school, or that you wanted to beat the shit out of. He’s the pudgy little brainiac that simply must point out his smarts by asking questions that indicate he knows exactly what the teacher is going to be talking about in 10 minutes or next class and is already quite informed on that topic, thankyouverymuch. For about a month, the LS sat in Comp Sci and asked, “Oh, you’re talking about hash tables, aren’t you?” “This is all leading to hash tables, isn’t it?” “Are we getting to hash tables soon, Ms. G-B?” “Duh, you guys, she’s obviously talking about hash tables.” This is, of course, while he’s looking (or pointedly not looking) down the aisle at me and TGM, trying to see if the point is getting across that he does indeed know what hash tables are, that he doubts we know what they are (which, in all honesty, we didn’t), and that, no matter how late the date in the school year, the pecking order in Comp Sci will change, ignoring the fact that I’ve been in programming classes with this very teacher for four years and that there is no pecking order in our class. Little shit. I so use to be like that. That’s why I want to squash him. I had the luxury of running into Hannah in 10th or 11th grade year, which shut me the fuck up, and I would simply like to do a similar favor for the Little Shit. It’s not malice. Really.

I took a test called The Essential Difference test, courtesy of Elf. My Empathy Quotient is 28; that’s apparently not much higher than someone with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism. I’m tempted to call it a lemming myself, but I am a social throwback to earlier eras of humanity, so… I scored a 45 on the Systemizing Quotient, which involves analyzing and exploring systems. This is above average for chickas, and in the range of folks with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism. The tests are, all in all, interesting but not particularly enlightening (except for learning what Asperger Syndrome is). But you must love the color scheme and design of the Flash version of the test. Beautiful in its apparent simplicity (not that I have the skill or the desire to create even a single button in Flash, but hey, that’s me).

Isn’t navelgazing fun?

DiFranco

Thanks to the coolness of someone who shall remain nameless (because of laws… and all that stuff… and stuff…) I have gotten my hands on some DiFranco music. I hope I didn’t… injure the server with my rampant downloading… But it’s fascinating stuff. Little did I know that I had heard a song by her before, from the Jackal soundtrack, a non-acoustic version of “Joyful Girl”. I remember listening to it for quite a while, and being rather mystified by her voice, particularly in combination with the music. That was actually the CD I happened to have in my CD-ROM when I first played Quake (the original), meaning I was walking around killing the baddies (I was on a 56K then, so deathmatching wasn’t an option) to that song. Elephant’s memory that I have, I even remember where on the first level I was when I listened to that song. It seemed incongrous, as even the non-acoustic version is laid-back, and yet it fit. I actually didn’t make it much further than the first level in Quake; first-person shooters and action games (like Diablo) make me go into adrenaline overload and I have to stop after a short amount of time due to getting violent shakes. I guess it’s the stress. But back to DiFranco. She’s got a very distinctive style that holds the attention. Something about her voice reminds me of Alanis Morrisette’s calmer music, particularly the song “32 Flavors”. I was told this was on the radio a little while back, but pop channels have never been the things I tuned in to, you know? Guess that makes me slow.

On a completely irrelevant note, will someone please pry The Fountainhead out of my clutches? I’m seeing conversations between Roark, Dominique, Peter, and Wynand and possible endings in my friggin’ sleep. Scholarship what?

I like memes, too

This is supposed to be one of those things to help folks that don’t know me learn a little about me, as though my About page weren’t helpful enough, but this site is all about me, me, me anyway, so there’s probably nothing new here. But I’ll jump on the meme bandwagon. This one, anyway.

Name = Melissa. I doubt very much my parents actually cared that the meaning of my name is “Honey Bee” (among other things). I think they just randomly picked it from a book. That’s okay, though. They did, however, stick me with two middle names. Now, when’s the last time you saw a form accomodating two middle initials?

Birthday = October 23, 1984. I’m afraid I don’t keep up with whether it was the year of the Kangaroo, the Zebra, or the Horseshit–I mean Horseshoe. I leave that to others more interested in that sort of thing.

Piercings = Once in each ear

Tattoos = Ink? Under my skin? No, thank you.

Height = Guestimation? About 5’6″, 5’7″.

Shoe size = Well, given that I wear almost exclusively men’s shoes I’ll give that size: about an 8.

Hair color = Brown, and at times kinda reddish.

Eye color = Dark brown

Length = Just past shoulder length although I always wear it up.

Last…

… movie you rented = Hmm… renting would require money, right? I would have to say maybe 12 Angry Men (the old one with the Fonda guy).

… song you listened to = Under My Umbrella by Incubus

… song that was stuck in your head = All That Jazz from the Chicago Soundtrack. Don’t I suck?

… song you downloaded = Jeez. Some random song by Ani DiFranco in an attempt to hear some of her music.

… CD you bought = Again, this would require money… but I think it was Michael Jackson’s Greatest Hits Volume 1. Don’t knock it. He was good in the old days.

… CD you listened to = A CD of Syrian pop music.

… person you’ve called = Right. Telephones are EVIL. Um… um… my mother, methinks?

… person who’s called you = Michael called just a few minutes ago. How convenient.

Do …

… you have a bf or gf = No.

… you wish you could live somewhere else = Yes, living with my parents is starting (ha!) to take its toll; living in Charlotte isn’t zesty either.

… you think about suicide = No.

… others find you attractive = No. Between the looks and the attitude, I’m set for a non-pious life in a nunnery, baby.

… you want more piercings = No, that’s quite all right.

… you want more (any) tattoos = Doubtful.

… you drink = Bleh. I just had a conversation with M.K. about his potential alcoholism this morning, as a matter of fact.

… you do drugs = Does Aleve count? Otherwise, no.

… you like cleaning = Ha ha. Again, right. My room looks like the U.S. Marines and the Iraqi Republican Guard have been through here.

… you like roller coasters = Moderately. I don’t enjoy amusement parks much at all anymore, though.

… you write in cursive or print = If I want to write faster, and screw the penmanship, cursive it is. Otherwise, print is cool. And so what if I have girly handwriting? It doesn’t make me a wuss.

For or against…

… long distance relationships = I don’t know of one that has worked out particularly well, but I’ll reserve judgement.

… using someone = I suppose it’s a bad thing to do, although I probably do it.

… suicide = If I’m currently “for” my own suicide, why the hell am I still here? I guess I reserve the right to take my own life, but am I currently for it? Naw.

… killing people = These are some hellacious questions. Damn. There are so many qualifications on this answer that I’m going to sum it up by saying only this: no, I would not go out and kill someone under most circumstances that I can currently contemplate.

… teenage smoking = I don’t give a damn. Just take it elsewhere. Don’t kill me with your funky-ass habits.

… doing drugs = I wouldn’t do them. Don’t hold yourself to my standards, though.

… premarital sex = Given protection, and tests, and all that jazz, sure. Put a little “oomph” in your life.

… driving drunk = Again, I wouldn’t do it, but then again, I don’t drink anyway, so… If you’re going to drive drunk, do it on private roads where you can only kill or maim yourself.

… gay/lesbian relationships = Why does it matter if I’m “for” or “against” this? I’m not joining in. Essentially, it should be cool to do whatever gets your gander.

… soap operas = I used to watch a few, but since all of television (with the exception of the Sci Fi channel) has degenerated to the level of the worst of the late 80s soap operas, I don’t watch much television at all anymore.

Favorite…

… food = Mexican, I suppose.

… song = Wow. It’s a tie between Pushit and Reflection by Tool.

… thing to do = Read, whether it’s a book, a website, whatever.

… thing to talk about = Religion, philosophy (but not anything formal–I’m not that well-read), books, music, more books.

… sports = To watch? Tennis and the “eXtreme” sports types of things. To play? Racquetball.

… drinks = Good clean water, which I should note has to be store bought in Charlotte and the very rural areas of Texas…

… clothes = jeans, tee-shirts, sweaters.

… movies = What Dreams May Come, Dune, Children of Dune (despite that freaky incestuous relationship…).

… band[s] = Tool. Incubus. Sade. Peter White. Almost in that order.

… holiday = “Spring Break” isn’t really a holiday… per se… So I must choose “Summer” (it’s a longer break anyway)! I kid. I don’t really care for holidays much, unless it’s my friends’ birthdays.

… people = Ugh. People? Yeah, right. I kid again. I’ve got my five.

Have you…

… ever cried over a girl or guy = Yeah. Bleh.

… ever lied to someone = Who, me? Never.

… ever been in a fist fight = Sure. This was in my pre-glasses days, though. I have to be careful of that sort of thing now.

… ever been arrested = No. For what? Attempting to sneak out of CompUSA with the latest gadget in my pocket?

What…

… shampoo do you use = Some Paul Mitchell stuff.

… perfume do you use = Yucko.

… shoes do you wear = New Balance.

… are you scared of = Any type of “bug” (no matter how many legs, 4, 6, 8, or 100), being incapable of living with another adult in college, being broke my entire friggin’ life.

… is your boss like = See, now, if I had a job, I’d have money, now wouldn’t I? Wouldn’t I?

Number…

… of times I have been in love = It’s either one or two, so I shall average and get one and a half.

… of guys I have kissed = Just one.

… of girls I have kissed = None.

… of continents I have lived in = One.

I got this from Jason (NP), by the way.

Rose-Hulman I.T.

For those not interested in a long description of my trip to and from Terre Haute, Indiana to visit Rose-Hulman, I’ll give you short version. The only good thing about the trip occured from 10:00 a.m. on Friday until 4:00 p.m. when I walked the campus, took a tour, talked to students, etc. The rest was hell. I’ve also decided to go there for college. I like the school.

The longer version, for those more interested in the nitty-gritty… Where to begin? We took the Rat with us, who was sick with “allergies”. I happen to think her doctor is incompetant, as she sounds like she has tuberculosis or pneumonia, but, then again, I’m not qualified either. It was a twelve hour trip there, complete with piss breaks entirely too often, one barfing incident, and an impromptu side-of-the-road piss break ten minutes after our last stop. She cried. She yelled. She hacked all over the back of my neck and my pillows and my blankets. She stayed hungry and thirsty, but never for what we had. She redefined every stop, every turn, every action taken to be in terms of her needs and wants. In short, she was a typical sick three year old. We weren’t even in Gastonia before I wanted to do real, physical harm to my father. I can’t count how many times I wanted to pull my pencils from my purse and stab myself and my mother in the ear repeatedly to put us out of our misery. I couldn’t even read much, because it got dark, and because I had to help out with the Rat.

We arrived at the motel (and quite the seedy little Motel 6 it was, too) around 4:30 Friday morning. The people in the office had the nerve to want to charge us for two nights, and at a higher rate than our reservations dictated. Apparently, if we wanted to wait until 5:30 to check in, we could be considered as staying a single night. We quickly absolved them of their ill-conceived notions and they let us stay under the contract of a single night, for our lower rate.

I let everyone sleep until about 8 o’clock, and although my mother still looked liked she’d been smoking reefer (she had red eyes, for those not familiar with the effects of marijuana), we set out to see Terre Haute and Rose-Hulman. But first, damn them for having stomachs, we had to stop at IHOP for food. While I sat tense with fury in my seat as Ali hacked and coughed all over everything and everybody (she refuses to cover her mouth) and wiped her nose all over her shirt and sleeve, we quickly ate and left. She really was a biohazard and should have been locked up.

But then… then we got to see Rose-Hulman, hereafter refered to as RH. I thought it was beautiful. My mother was more critical of everything, of course. “There are no blacks in the town.” Okay, so the town/city was rather… homogeneous. “These building look run down.” Yes, some of the residence halls don’t look particularly beautiful on the outside. Yackity-smackity. But I did consider her criticisms. Really. From ten in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, I walked the campus. I stood outside of a chemistry class (hidden) and listened to the style of lecture. I walked around the bookstore, the dorms, the labs. At one point I actually attended a guided tour, but I had already been to most of the places anyway. I got to step inside a dorm room. I learned about their open-door policy; people hardly ever close their dorm doors, and never lock them. Nothing is ever stolen from rooms, and people leave their laptops, money, etc., laying around and trust that it will be there when they return to their rooms. And it is. There’s no cut-throat competition for grades or rank. Group work is emphasized (because that’s how it is in the work-force) and there’s a genuine sense of community among the 1 800 students. I later got lost trying to find the computer imaging lab (which is apparently kick-ass), and was helped by two separate people in getting out of the building in a very friendly manner. I could go on, but I won’t. I fell in love.

The guys were… whew. For a bunch of nerds… Wow. Yum. The girls were nice and stuff too, and didn’t seem to have chips of their shoulders or anything, but… Yeah.

I thought the dorms were roomy (although my mother didn’t) and comfortable. Everything is movable and you are allowed to construct lofts with your beds. There were some pretty interesting setups; apparently one guy (remember, this is an engineering school) built a hydraulics system for his bed. Very cool.

But I won’t go on. It’s a beautiful school in multiple ways and I am so there as soon as possible. And not just to get away from my parents.

Terre Haute was a funny place. It was like a step back from the almost-could-be-a-city of Charlotte, and a step forward from the “oh look, it’s some of dem there colored folks” of Decatur, Texas. There seem to be about two main streets of Terre Haute; one contained Indiana State University and the other contained RH. There were more car dealerships than you could shake a stick at, but none had new cars. There was no downtown in the tradition sense of the word; you were either in town or out of it. But they had a Books-A-Million and Joe Muggs, a CompUSA, a Staples, a Chi-Chi’s (one of the best Mexican restaurants, which doesn’t exist in either Texas or North Carolina), and an Olive Garden. Yet my mother was told she could find a clinic for the Rat “at the edge of town”. It’s a study in contradictions. I didn’t get the feeling that the town was booming or anything, despite the stores. In fact, the glittery Old Navy and the huge red sign of the Staples looked very much out of place in the low sprawl of the area. But everyone we talked to was nice, service in the restaurants was great (a definite contrast with Charlotte), and everyone praised RH as a great, tough school where you really get your money’s worth, and more. I’m so there.

And now I’m so sleeping.