On Autumn. Or Fall.

Heading into autumn is historically quite complex for me. It was ever thus; the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" used to fill me with a desire to flee England's dismal shortening days for milder weather and above all, daylight. I longed, like the migrating birds, to flee to warmer and more comfortable climes. That much at least has changed. Living in California's milder, brighter clime now means that I don't have to fear the coming winter, miss the lighter days or plod around in wet-weather gear just in case it rains.

Now, it means the season of abundance at the Farmer's Market. We're just out of the best bit, with the piles of tomatoes and peppers, crunchy Armenian cucumbers and all those eggplant. (Okay, I know I don't actually like eggplant\aubergine, but I like the look of them.) That said, local apples are beginning to show, so just as I start to miss one crop, another comes along to excite and delight me, not to mention fresh figs, persimmons and goodness, pomegranates! How can anyone not shop at the Market? All those Safeway shoppers don't know what they are missing by buying their "fresh" produce in bags and boxes, shipped year-round from God-knows-where and treated in dreadful ways that a man ought not wot of.

Now, of course, the season saddens me because my Mum died last year, in late October. My memories of last autumn was the same dismal damp I never missed, mixed with the huge aching loss. This year I'm also dealing with Christine's cancer and the grief that's attached to that. But it's not about to drag me South with the autumnal émigré birds.

So what is it? "Autumn" or "Fall"?

Some of my English or British friends still enquire after my dealings with "American English". Some are open to new linguistic ideas, if scorning Noah Webster and his new spellings. Others are more scathing. "Fall", they say, "is an Americanism best done without. Use 'autumn'". These days, I tend to the middle ground. As with my learnings of the subject of the differing sizes of gallon, I find that the truth is that what the Brits say, or have, is frequently of more recent origin. To say that "fall" is inferior, is, O Brits, a wrong thing.

Sorry to tell you this, but the words fall and autumn are relatively new words, at least to describe this season. Their use dates from the 17th century; before that, the season was known as "Harvest". Both words were used alike in America and Britain (or at least, England), though in time, each country developed its own preferences. In fairness though, most Americans know what "autumn" means, and few Brits fail to understand the "fall" season. Of the two, as with the gallon/pint size controversy, the Brits are the ones who gripe most.

Nowadays, I proudly fly the flag of British Difference in many arenas, on many battlefields, and this is yet another of them. I still love you, Harvest season, by any name, but this time, I'm staying where I am.


Suzi on American politics

A few noders have gotten to meet Suzi—she is my hero, my inspiration, and my best friend. We've been so close so long that I call her my sister, and she's a lot closer to me than my genetic family anyway. Besides, Platonic Life Partner doesn't exactly roll off the tongue (and I got a bit sick of having to answer the question "What's Platonic mean?" every time).

In the wake of two years of the big "happy" family called the United States of America recriminating and insulting, haranguing and cursing at one another, we had a presidential election and guess what? We threw the current crop of guys out and replaced then with some new ones. Maybe these will be better. A mutual friend, a German fellow named Sven, asked Suzi to explain what the hell was up with USA and USAvians, and she wrote a rant I thought was so brilliantly crafted that I asked her if I could put it up here as a daylog.

So here it is, in all its glory. This kind of explains why, when we travel, some of us are tempted to claim that we are from Vancouver.

The last eight years, for me, have been like being in this big family that had been getting on pretty well lately, things had been looking up. Yeah, your dad, who just passed away (due to term limits), was kinda sleazy, but he was a shrewd guy. The family generally got along, things were prosperous. You got on well with your neighbours and family friends, working with them side by side.

Then mom falls for this guy named Bush.

A lot of people seem to like him, but he's kinda thin skinned and he's run every business he's ever had into the ground, getting bailed out by his rich daddy. Next thing you know, mom's married this guy—well, he's moved in anyway. It wasn't a legitimate marriage and most the family was against it, but it looks like he's here to stay by court order.

"New Dad" Bush at first just seems like a lazy asshole. He spends most of his time relaxing, not paying attention because he's honestly pretty dim, and you worry about his creepy friends, who seem to be too interested in the family business. But at least he seems fairly harmless, if an ineffectual boob.

Then it happens—the horrible tragedy that sends the family into shock and grief. All of the family's friends want to help, they give you sympathy. The whole neighborhood pulls together, wanting to help your family rebuild.

Then New Dad pisses it down his leg.

The family agree that they should try and find the people responsible, make sure they can't do this again to anyone, but that wasn't enough. New Dad Bush chooses the time right after the funeral to pick a fight with the jerk down the street who beats his wife and kids. Yeah, he's an asshole, but he's got nothin' to do with what needs fixing.

New Dad's shouting to everyone that "his" family is going after him, that he's responsible for what happened too, and you cringe. Some of your relatives you never liked anyway hoot and holler and drink beer and yell across the yard about "ass kickin'". No one can hear the rest of you asking if this is anything like a good idea.

It gets worse when the family's friends start to pull away. It was increasingly obvious that New Dad started this whole feud and thought it would be over soon and then, I don't know, maybe magical unicorns would make everything better. But now that family, the one down the street you just left without a head of household, is dependent on your family and your finances are looking grim. It's a money sieve.

New Dad's buddies are obviously embezzling money from the family business, but there's no way to stop them. You also find out that said buddies have been beating the shit out of people they don't like and worse, real Mafia style stuff. You've also noticed them opening people's mail and listening in on their phone calls.

Your neighbors start to shun you, and you can't blame them, even though its not your fault. You feel powerless and ashamed. You wonder why it seems like no one else ever notices these things, the questionable book keeping, the abuses, the lying. But, the minute anyone brings it up, someone shouts "What? Don't you love this family?!"

But it can always get worse.

Mom briefly flirts with a new boyfriend, but Daddy Bush's cronies make short work of him. Daddy's not going anywhere—even if he's too dim to do it himself, his pals have gotten to like power they have in this house to do as they please.

You notice that your yard is dying, the foundation is cracking on the house and the dog ain't lookin' too good either. New Dad says there's no money for that—got to keep after all those ne'er do wells down the block, you know, plus you're still paying to repair your neighbor's house and their doctor bills after the big fight. That's only fair, but still...you worry.

You wonder, then, where all the money is coming from that some of your gambler businessman uncles have. The kids have stopped going to school as much as they should. You worry that the whole family is getting dumber and they don't care. The water tastes funny.

Then one day, everyone's yelling. The family business is starting to go under, bit by bit, and the whole neighborhood's welfare was tied into it, one way or another. You want your uncles to pay, somehow, for this mess they've gotten into, but you know they won't. Everyone yells at everyone else. Money gets moved around, but everyone's nervous and edgy. Your brothers and sisters and cousins can't afford to go to the doctor and they hope they won't be next for the unemployment line.

Your neighbors and family friends always tell you it's not you, personally, that they have a problem with. Then they joke about how ignorant, obnoxious and arrogant your family is and you laugh along because what else are you going to do? You don't feel like standing up and proclaiming your pride in your family. Not any more. Why should you? But while you're laughing, deep down, you feel a little sick and try and remember what it used to be like.

Eight months ago I didn’t know what a writeup was. Now you’re reading number 100. Back then I didn’t understand what links were. Today I think in terms of links, nodes and nodeshells. Seven and a half months ago people tried to explain how links provided three dimensionality in a body of work. Now I can explain that concept to others. Previously I asked editors to review my work. Today some of them are asking me what I think of what they wrote. Seven months ago I talked to sam512 about something he was writing. Today I have a writeup inspired by a node of his and he was kind enough to give me credit for the idea that brought about Moon Base Shackleton, 1978.

Six months ago I was about to attend my first nodermeet. I thought getting there would be the biggest challenge but after spending an evening hanging out with everyone I found that saying goodbye was a lot harder than I had expected it to be. Five months ago I had my first fight with another group of noders. That fight was my first opportunity to use the ignore function. As far as I know it was the first time someone used the ignore function on me. It’s an experience I still haven’t forgotten but the lessons learned were good ones. Since then I've moved on, I no longer bear any ill will towards anyone involved in the miscommunication. I would like to believe that no one thinks less of me but if they do and I'm aware of it I will stay out of their way.

Four months ago the idea of an Iron Noder Challenge was introduced by in the catbox. You are currently reading my twentieth contribution to the quest. I have reason to believe that I will finish the challenge. It was an interesting idea when it was first introduced. It’s been a lot of work but as I said earlier, for the most part it has been fun. Three months ago I decided to focus on becoming a better writer. I knew the Halloween Quest was coming up. Horror is been a genre I’ve always enjoyed, I wanted to enter the quest but I needed something that would set me apart from all the other contestants.

One month ago the Horror Quest was in full swing. I realize that writeups like Buenas Noches and Andy in the dark are short but that was deliberate on my part. I wanted to see how may words I could trim from a writeup that told a complete story. Fresh ice and The new shipping manager were lengthier pieces. Both of those fictional stories were pulled from my real life work experiences. This month I’ve decided that if I ever enter the Iron Noder Challenge again I’m going to remember how much work it is to be constantly noding. I’ve started worrying less about making sure everything is up to my standards and focus on speed. The Iron Noder challenge has given me an opportunity to do some things I haven't before. Girls Who Looked Under Rocks was my first book review and Barbados is the first land mass I’ve researched and written about.

One month ago I was sitting at my computer thinking that I wanted to try something new. Historical fiction is something I enjoy reading. I decided to try my hand at that and inspired by a short story I had read earlier I started working on The crying statue. Two months ago I was reading about mauler's Piracy Quest and wondering what I could contribute to that. Since I wasn’t planning for that challenge it disrupted my plans but I wanted to level up so I submitted two entries for that quest. Smuggler’s Blues is probably the writeup that gave me the most difficulty. I had it sitting on my scratch pad long before I felt like I could post it. I asked The Custodian for editorial assistance. Even after his help I was hesitatnt to post it. Now I realize how foolish it was to worry about what other people thought.

Three months ago I gained cool power under the previous leveling system. Mystery Date was the writeup I thought was going to take me there but it was actually a cool on Fifty Dollar Freedom that took me to the next level. That writeup is based on a true story. I’ve received numerous comments on it, all of which I appreciate, most of which I remember and some of which brought tears to my eyes. Four months ago I wanted to leave this place. I took a two week break from noding. I stayed out of the catbox. My name dropped off ascorbic's hall of shame. A couple people sent me messages asking if I was okay. It’s hard for me to admit that I’ve made mistakes. I have a tendency to take myself too seriously. I have a broad paranoid streak and back then I thought it was important that people thought well of me.

Today I realize that not everyone is going to get along all of the time. Instead of being in the catbox trying to change the way people talk and the topics of conversation I’ve decided to distance myself from it. I still like the catbox, this has nothing to do with anyone in particular but when it stops being fun I have to walk away from things that I used to enjoy. Five months ago I had just started a new job. Most of you encouraged me. Two people in particular helped me and I’d like to thank those people who listened to me agonizing about what to wear to my interview. One of those people gave me some great life advice. Believing in yourself isn’t a new concept but there are people who can present things as attainable ideas. I didn’t believe in myself then but I do now and this place has had something to do with that.

Four months ago I bought myself a new black shirt. I remember thinking that I didn’t have the money to spend. Looking back I can’t believe that was what I was worried about. I didn’t know then that I’d be in a car accident on my way to work. I had no idea that my daughter’s ear drums would burst or my husband would pass out on a plane traveling down to Florida. Five months ago I had no idea I would get sick on a plane. I never pictured myself being stranded at the airport with two small children who were crying for their father. Like most things in life it did work out. We missed our plane by five minutes because our boarding passes had the wrong gate printed on them. Planes don’t normally leave early but that one did. It could have been a lot worse but for a couple minutes I was worried I’d be stuck in the Atlanta airport overnight.

Six months ago I didn’t understand how this place worked. Everything was new and foreign to me. I liked the idea of meeting new people, the catbox was the place I met most of the friends I have today. Seven months ago I was considering going back to school. I am currently four semesters away from a nursing degree. One of my sisters is a nurse. I wanted the structure of school but the problem of who would watch my children when I was gone was an issue for me. It was still an issue when I went back to work in June. I was unbelievably scared of getting a job and joining the workforce after a seven year absence. Now I know that getting a job was good for me just like writing Electrolyte imbalance was good for me.

I joined E2 after my niece’s uncle had committed suicide. Aerobe's writeup about catching the bus was one of the first things I read after I joining. Mentally, attitudinally and emotionally I have come a long way since then. I have alternately loved and loathed this place. Individually I have met people with hearts. As a collective group I still find this site hostile. Right now I miss how much fun E2 used to be but E2 hasn't changed. I have. Change is a part of life. One hundred writeups into the system I’m looking back and wishing that life’s lessons didn’t have to come at a price I was not expecting to pay. Being here has helped me become a better writer. I still enjoy reading what others have posted, I used to read everything that went down the new writeup list but thanks to Dreamvirus and his contest that is currently not an option considering I have limited time to spend here.

If you’ve been a factor in helping me change I would like to take this opportunity to thank you. Even if you are a malicious softlinker or a serial downvoter who has me on ignore. That is your right, you should not have to put up with people who make your user experience less than ideal and if I’m one of the people making things unpleasant for you I apologize for that. I’m finding it difficult to write about how I feel. I understand that I can’t be an agent of change. I can only be myself and contribute in the ways I currently understand. If this place has taken things from me it’s because I was too eager to give. I tried too hard to fit into a system I didn’t have a place in and now that I have a place I’m not sure I want it anymore.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, maybe it’s time for me to take a break from E2 interaction. I would still like to finish the Iron Noder Challenge. I think I can do it even though right now I don’t have a single idea of what to write next. Preparing nodes in advance was a good idea because now I’m going to have work more since I fired someone who worked approximately 20 hours a week. I’d like to leave you with something inspirational but I want to be honest. Right now I can honestly say that getting to know you noders fucking sucked but I still love most of you because of the people you are. Like someone once said to me: Thanks for being you.

I found myself looking at the Solpadeine in the medicine cabinet today and thinking "Aah, daddy's little helper, later tonight you will make me feel so nice." I've been taking Solpadeine for headaches since I got a little ill a few days ago - nothing serious, just tonsillitis that spread to my gum and made my impacted wisdom tooth ache. I discovered Solpadeine while looking for something that would help my migraines better than paracetamol, and it's a magical little soluble tablet indeed. There's a very distinct buzz from the codeine, and it's definitely possible to become physically addicted to it — the little booklet inside the packet warns about it. I'm nowhere near that level of use, but I create psychological addictions very easily so I have to be careful how I use any kind of drug. I think staring lovingly at the packet and wishing I had a headache so I could justify downing a couple qualifies as the beginnings of a psychological addiction.

I wouldn't usually crave painkillers, but I've been dealing with different types of stress lately. I thought that when I quit working 9-6 in offices my stress would simply disappear, but it doesn't work like that. Although my mind was finding office life to be torture, my body was quite used to it. Now my mind is enjoying working from home and spending so much time with Jo & Joshua, but my body is ramping up the stress chemicals to deal with unfamiliar stressors like a crying baby, the inability to plan my time more than half an hour in advance, deadlines that I have to manage myself, and a cramped, unhealthy sitting position (I need to buy myself a comfortable chair to work in). The result has been an increase in my already marked tendency towards headaches.

In other news, I was deified. I most definitely was not selected for my powers of patient content editing — I will be writing code for the boss once I get my Perl-fu up to scratch. I've been working in IT contexts for over 10 years now, which I find scary when I think about it, and hopefully I'm going to be able to contribute something good back to the single most addictive and rewarding website that I've ever been associated with.

Having said that, and without treading on anyone's toes while I feel my way around new duties, I will also just be generally available for help and advice and requests of any kind. One thing I don't want to happen, now that I've been given some new powers, is that I stop writing, or even worse, stop reading. I guess I will create an Editor Log at some point just to introduce myself, because, even after seven years on this website (admittedly, only four of them can be described as "active"), I often feel like I don't really know anyone, and no one really knows me. I've never been to any nodermeets. Hopefully that will change at some point in the near future. If I had to sum up how I am socially, I'd say: "Loves people, loves to interact, terrible at breaking the ice." So feel free to /msg me for any reason :-)

I just had spinach soup and goat's cheese and Earl Grey tea instead of daddy's little helper, and I feel proud of myself. Maybe I should give the Solpadeine to Jo and tell her to hide it.

There's this point where when you explain what takes up your time on a weekly basis is hardly a proper sentence, you gotta change up the routine. As a somewhat financially-functioning working college student, I only keep up with my passion for gaming and automotive delights. I am, most likely, irritably capable of turning a conversation right over onto some new game release or a new automobile concept appearing on the internet. I guess, as a female, all these factors make me well-rounded but, it gets old.

Damn, I'd like to be a girl sometimes.

There are public songs
and there are private;
when a bird is at your window,
the noises you hear are new --
at first, maybe, you aren't even sure
it's a bird, those wheezes and pops,
but when you draw the curtain
you watch it fly away.

O, blood, blood, blood! An awful midterm crunch right now, neglected projects crowding the nest. Trying to cobble together an essay a little about the Quakers and a little about the Reform Jews, but there are too many interesting distractions in these old books of religion:

In the legal code of Aardenburg in Flanders in the fourteenth century it is stipulated that the husband may beat his wife, injure her, slash her body from head to foot and "warm his feet in her blood." If he succeeds in nursing her back to health afterwards he will not have transgressed against the law.

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