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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rental/house-hunting spreadsheet how-to

Oh Joy!
TOOT!  The most amazing post ever is here, so put on your party hats because I'm about to make your life way easier.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to hunting online for a new place to live, I inevitably used to end up with a bookmark list of Craigslist and Zillow pages, which I would then have to sift through and remember by name and sooner or later, it'd become totally unmanageable.  Luckily around that point we'd settle on a place, and I could happily delete the bookmark list.  This time around, what with moving to a different city and both of us juggling new jobs, I decided an organizational shift in our process was needed.

I love Google Docs, so naturally I turned to that for the new system I was going to create.



I know this might look rather small on your screen, so I'll break down the column headings for you.  It goes a little something like this:  Address.  Link to posting. Contacted agent Y/N?  Contact date.  Price.  # of bedrooms/bathrooms.  Neighborhood.  Washer/dryer Y/N?  Square footage.  Notes.

We started out with a pretty long sheet (it goes on below where I cut it off).  At one point they were ranked, but as we whittled down the list that fell away.  Places that got cut got greyed out, as this helped us keep track when we'd go back to Craigslist and wonder, "Did we already look into that place, or was that a different place on Idlewood?"  The links are good for easy reference.  The contact Y/N is helpful because sometimes we'll look at something online, be vaguely interested, but not necessarily contact them right away.  Likewise, if we contact and don't hear back, we can eventually strike something if the contact date was a while back with no update.  We're veeeeery familiar with the neighborhoods of Richmond, so it made sense to include that as a column.  Paying X in one place is not the same as paying X in another!  Likewise, if it were, say, in the Fan and didn't have a washer/dryer, well, I know the cute laundromat on Strawberry would suffice until we remedied the situation.  

Obviously, everyone has different reasons and priorities when it comes to looking at certain places, so to each their own when it comes to column headings.  But this whole process has made the slog of rental searching vastly easier for us, and I highly, highly recommend it.  It's been a sanity-saver for me, and having the Google Drive app on my phone allows me to access it as a mobile spreadsheet, which is definitely easier than sifting through emails looking to see if I emailed that person about that post, or worse, sifting through Craigslist on the mobile site to find that place you think you remember when out and about.  

Now if I could just get the rental that's highlighted in green (well, the one I reaaaally want, I mean -- the other is the backup silver-medal winner; cross your fingers for me, Internet...)...that's the one thing the spreadsheet can't do: grant wishes. 

And sorry about the party hat intro.  It's just.....you guys, I can't do much else to make a post about spreadsheets look even passably clickable.  

*chirp chirp chirp*

Guys?

Monday, March 24, 2014

To-do wishlist: 4 months, 5 things

Sloth To-Do List by Liz Climo

I feel like I've got four months to basically Get Shit Done before it gets pushed to the back-burner for a while.  But I could have even less than four months, for all I know.  Behold, my list of things I want to accomplish before this baby arrives.  Or, in other words, feast your eyes on this list of things that may or may not actually get done.  But I can dream, right?

1.  Fix. This. Blog.  I have such a basic blog set-up here, and I would *love* to hire somebody to help me make it prettier and less cobbled together.  I mean, I made this header in Pixlr.  Everything else is standard blogspot.  I know it could be SO MUCH NICER, but...I am not the person to make it so.  This is about my limit.  (Are you a designer?  Let's talk about design & your pricelist!  Or, do you know somebody who does design work?  hayley.deroche at gmail if you want to chat in-depth)

2.  Publish Part 2 of Creepypasta!  If I can hammer out a minimum of 1k/week of pants-wetting stories, this is totally doable...

3.  Teach my Aussie how to walk on a leash without gleefully yanking my arm off.  Help.

4.  Make a terrarium.  I got this Tiny World Terrariums book from the library and now I'm smitten.  Trendy?  Yes.  Adorable?  Also yes.

5.  Figure out how to cloth-diaper.  Anybody have a cloth-diapered baby I can borrow?  I feel like I should probably learn how to do this ahead of time...crap.

6.  Bonus-round: FIND A PLACE TO LIVE.  Yeah, I guess this is important.

(I'm taking suggestions, too.  What are things you made sure to get out of the way pre-baby?  Things you wish you'd done?)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Creepypasta! The book!

In Brooklyn, a brownstone building like any other hides a dark secret that can only be seen in satellite images... In Pennsylvania, a whole town vanishes. In the mountains, campers tell scary stories around the fire...but these stories are true. In South America, a forgotten evil stirs beneath the ruins of Henry Ford's forgotten city. And in the mirror...what’s in the mirror might be the most terrifying of all. 

In these fourteen original tales, written in the 'creepypasta' style of the internet's urban legends, you’ll find horrors beyond horrors and enough nightmare fuel to fill your tank for many, many nights to come. When it comes to keeping you up at night, West and Wicker have you covered with CREEPYPASTA!






It's here!  My long-time friend Greg and I have published our collection of scary short stories in CREEPYPASTA!

Greg can attest that at first thought, I'm probably not the immediate choice for a horror short-story collaborator (once at his & his wife's house, I screeched in terror five minutes into a Japanese horror film, after saying hey, I think this is going to be oka-aiiiiiii turn it off turn it off turn it off!) but as it turns out, writing creepypasta is FUN precisely because you can scare yourself and, hopefully, your collaborator.  They say the best writing buddies are the ones who will push you further than you usually dare, and they're right.  I hope you have as much fun reading it as we did writing it.

(I promise, I'm not turning this blog into Scary Stories Central!  But I like to share the weird projects I work on from time to time!  Back to your regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.)

(And no, Wicker isn't my last name, but West & Wicker has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Invincible

Kavan & Co

I've been waffling back and forth these last few days between feeling really good about things, and feeling a whooooole lot of anxiety.  Patrick accepted a part-time job, which would flip to being full-time in July (right before baby Winnie comes) so we wouldn't have much to set aside for me to take maternity leave.

Thankfully Patrick then got an offer for a full-time job that's less retail-stocking and more professional and I am pretty much shaking from relief.  They say money can't buy happiness (and I beg to differ, because IVF), but money sure as hell can buy you some stability, which brings a wealth of happiness.  Since we so completely gutted our finances to do IVF, this is a light at the end of a tunnel.  I'll be able to take maternity leave without us starving!  We'll be able to rebuild our savings!

We constantly think back to when we lived in the Fan before we bought a home.  It's this golden memory, the bright shining Before We Were Stupid And Bought a House Which Ruined Everything era (look for it in your textbooks, it'll be accompanied by our grinning mugs).  We have the opportunity to go back to that much-more-ideal situation.  It honestly feels like somehow we've won the lottery.  I know the way I talk about home ownership and the way it "ruined everything" and talk of rebuilding finances makes it sound like we foreclosed.  On the contrary, we were never late on a payment.  But we found out that we couldn't own a home and undergo IVF.  It was one or the other.  The problem was that we bought the house thinking having kids would be easy at our ages (24 & 26 at the time).  DERP.

We'll probably still end up living with my parents for a few weeks (2 or 3 at most, I hope) in April if we don't get this place rented soon, but with the number of showings, it's bound to happen sooner or later.  If we have to pay April rent here in Roanoke when we're gone, so be it.  At this point, we've been back and forth to RVA so many times that to spend the gas apartment hunting is getting absurd.  Better to crash-land with my parents for a brief stint so we can drive around the Fan/Museum District/Church Hill/Maymont and look at places without feeling like it's this or nothing.  We need a washer/dryer (MY KINGDOM FOR A WASHER/DRYER), and I desire a porch/balcony situation (less dire, but still).  And blessed sweet walkability.

The palpable relief I feel is overwhelming.  I can taste it.  It tastes like cake and sprinkles and sunshine dust.   After such a long time of feeling like everything sucks (husband massively underemployed, facing down infertility treatment bills, living rather isolated, broke broke broke...) it is nice to finally have some things work out for us magically.  Or at least they have that potential.  I'm sure we'll still be broke sometimes, but this gives us a few more ladder rungs to climb out with.

I know, it's not all magic -- it's hard work, it's drilling interview answers and building up Good Stories night after night before a big interview, it's polishing and polishing and polishing...but it's also good friends who send links to job openings, people who put in a good word, people who looked over my pages and pages of meticulously written-down interview answers (that's how I study -- copious writing & drilling) to give me feedback, it's the English teacher who got me a really good job straight out of college by putting in a good word when the economy was failing all my English major peers because without that massive bump for my resume I would have been working at Best Buy instead of a learning resource center for those years most likely, and sometimes you just get the interview panel when they're feeling good and nobody has a headache, you hit it off, all of that good stuff too.  There's a lot of dumb luck, and kindness of others, and the wind blowing the right way and people rooting for me/us, and some hard work.  I know it's not really magical, but it seems like it is, because frankly you can do ALL OF THOSE THINGS and still not get the good outcome.  I could have failed just as easily, it all could have gone differently even if I did everything on my end the same.  So in the end...I just feel immensely grateful.  And fucking relieved.  Like, I'm proud of my & now Patrick's recent accomplishments, but I know it's hardly just either one of us making it happen, you know?  You win some, you lose some (did I mention I interviewed for this job in the same conference room where I totally, totally lost at an interview two years ago?  How's that for intimidating?!), you try and try and try some more.  And then -- FINALLY.

It feels like putting some hard-sought pieces of a puzzle right where they fit, finally, after the puzzle's been on the coffeetable for ages.  It feels like spring might be on its way.  In the air, in our lives.

*blorf* That's the hokiest thing I've ever written.  Barf-o-rama.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Figuring it all out

Became
It's odd, in theory this move back to Richmond should be way less stressful than the move here was.  My husband and I aren't going to live apart.  We don't have to sell a house.  We don't have to landlord. And yet, my anxiety is waxing and waning.  I try to be upbeat about it, because I do believe it'll all work out in the end -- worse things certainly have! -- but in the moment it is taxing.

We're very, very lucky in that our leasing company has agree to graciously let us out of the lease we just signed, and they'll even give us our deposit back (in our pleading email to them originally broaching the topic of moving, we flat out said we expected to relinquish that, so it's super of them not to keep it), but we *do* have to pay rent here until they find new renters (fair enough, no complaints here on that front).  But it does put us in a sticky spot of hoping my husband can get his job situation straightened out/nailed down prior to moving, since my job can't really pay rent on someplace here and someplace in Richmond, which would mean living with my parents until he does (if they find renters for this place, all the better, but I don't want to rent a place only knowing what half of our income is coming from, you know?).  So, in two weeks, I have no idea where we're going to be living.  Someplace we find and snag (please tax return, hit our account...)?  My parents?  I love my family, but please no -- being pregnant and living with my parents and my two "little" brothers  -- 23 & 25 -- while my husband and I hole up in a room is not the way I envisioned this part of my life, and it fills me with anxiety to consider it as a very real possibility.  I love my family, I do, but losing my married privacy & freedom to say "fuck" at home & reverting back to living with them is simply not something I want -- would anyone?  Dread isn't quite the right word.  Or maybe it is.  And truly, I know we're lucky to have them as a viable option.  We'd be way more crunched if we didn't, and for that I am thankful.  Truly.

But things might work themselves out just as quickly.  There are several things on the line for my husband, so it doesn't feel dire yet, even though nothing's official, which makes it seem dire in my head.  It is frustrating in that respect, mostly because things just seem to be taking a very long time (specifically drug testing results -- Lab Corps what are you doing?!).  And we have two weeks before it's Move In With My Parents And Siblings time.

And yet, I think back to moving here.  I lived apart from my husband for three months, we were paying a mortgage and a separate apartment rent, we were miserable trying to figure out infertility in the midst of living apart for my job, we were stuck landlording in a shitty situation, we had to throw 2K at our roof a month before selling the house...it was terrible and awful and no good.  This is not that.  It's not a cakewalk, but the outcome is going to be so much better, our lives are going to be happier and less lonely, and we don't have to deal with selling a house, thank goodness.

Admittedly though, I'm a little freaked out, even while I also feel tremendously happy.  I'd just like to know where I'll be living in two weeks!  I had to fill out a form to get my medical records released and I had no address other than my parents to put down for where I'd like them mailed.  I'd like to know if we're going to be broke (husband works PT job) or if we're going to be better off than we were before we left (husband works FT job).  Will we have to live with my parents a week?  A month?  I have no idea, and it's really driving me a little nutty because there's only so much I can do to find those things out.  It's largely out of my control, so all I can do is twiddle my thumbs and hope for the best.

But I don't feel like I'm in the abyss I was in a year and some odd months ago.  This is a speedbump, but we're fixing it, it's just a matter of exactly how.

I just hope they find renters for this apartment.  Or he gets a FT job, in which case we could just pay for both if we had to (and I don't think it would take THAT long to find new renters, knockonwood).

Phew, this post comes across way more downer-y than I feel.  I'm thrilled to be going home.  It's all in the details, and I really am confident they'll get ironed out one way or another.  I am NOT going to be stuck living with my parents, brothers, husband and new baby or something like that.  (For one thing, we can't ask Patrick's parents to watch our dogs that long!  Our dogs don't go to my parents.)  This post comes across all hands-wringing, but honestly I'm just putting one foot in front of the other, confident that hey, I got the job, and that was the hardest part.  The rest will work itself out.

In two weeks, we'll be moving back to Richmond come hell or high water.  Where we'll be then is anyone's guess.

But we'll be together.   And that's something I know now to count as something to be thankful for.  It's not always a given.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Facades

Brooklyn Brownstone by Timothy McAuliffe

Dictated February 2012

On one of the priciest streets in London, there’s something lurking below the surface.  It’s there, although you’d never guess it, right there on the same street as Princess Diana’s home.  Go on a double-decker bus tour these days and you’ll be sure to hear all about JM Barrie, but of this no one will make a peep.  Kensington Palace Gardens may bring to mind the whimsical world of Peter Pan, but to others who know the whole story, it brings to mind much darker things.

It started when people started reported the sounds of men screaming, men crying, men weeping into the night.  The sounds--inhuman, some people said they were, but when they were reported as human, they were always men--that were reported were very specific that they sounded as though they were in great pain.  There were often corresponding reports of a low moaning sound, or the sound of a train hurtling underground.  The reports were made specifically around street numbers 6, 7 and 8 Kensington Palace Gardens.  All of these buildings look just like the others around them.  You would never know something was afoot.  They blend right in, seamlessly.


~*~


There’s a street in Brooklyn where strange things have been reported lately.  It’s a row of brownstones, identically charming as the next block and still the next, flowers on the stoops, curtains hanging over the tall windows.  But between these homes, there is one that is set apart.  There are no flowers on the stoop, and the curtains that mask the windows are not printed with birds or flowers--they are black as night, and every window is blocked.  

The sounds that have been reported here are not those of weeping, screaming men.  No, the sounds that have been reported at this address, number 58 Jorelemon Street, have been more...muffled, if you will.  The sounds are hardly ever reported as being human, although one or two souls who have called in have said that perhaps they are, though they really couldn’t be certain, and were really concerned some poor animals were being abused there.  

Once again, save for the lack of flowers and the blackout curtains, you might not ever notice something was different about 58 Jorelemon Street, if you weren’t hanging about after dark.


~*~

In France, it’s 145 rue la Fayette that’s causing some people to startle awake at night, and finger the digits on their phones as they ponder whether or not they should report what they hear, or whether it’s all in their head.  

It isn’t, of course.

If you look at it from a satellite map, which I did, once, a long time ago, before I put all the pieces together.  You could see on the picture the person posted in that thread that there was a gaping...hole.  A mass.  An abyss.  Something wrong.

(source)
I should have stopped looking when I saw that picture.  I will not see it again.

But I should back my story up a bit, I think.  

It all started when the reports started being posted to the net.  People hear things, and when their official reports go ignored, or mysteriously disappear, they start to get...upset.  The night I was crawling the web, I was particularly bored, and browsing the /r/Brooklyn reddit board for anything interesting.  Normally, there was always someone baiting someone else, some sort of drama to latch onto for the evening.  That night however, the thread title that caught my eye was one that had been bumped up after a long period of inactivity:

The screams don’t stop

I couldn’t see a thread title like that and pass it over, so naturally I delved in.  

It all started with a message that had been posted by someone two years prior:

The screams coming from the house next door to me will not stop.  I hear them almost every night, at exactly the same time: 11:30PM.  It’s right on the dot when it happens.  There’ll be a whooshing sound, and then a low moan that turns into a scream that will not stop until it abruptly gets cut-off at midnight.  

Please tell me I’m not going crazy and that someone knows what’s going on.  I don’t like posting my address, but I can’t help but give away my location by saying the screams are coming from 58 Joralemon Street.

Please help.  Anybody?

At first, there were no replies.  But then, as I scrolled down the thread, it became clear that at some point several months later, someone else had moved into the original poster’s home, either the same brownstone, or the home on the opposite side of said 58 Joralemon Street, because now someone else claiming to be a neighbor was posting asking for help about the screams.

I just moved here a week ago and this has been happening every night for the past 6 nights.  I don’t know if the OP was in my house or not, but it’s definitely number 58 that’s making the noise.  I can hear it through my bedroom walls every night at 11:30, and yeah they don’t stop for exactly half an hour.  It sounds almost like a train is repeatedly running someone over, or something.  OP you are not crazy, but holy shit somebody is.

And it went on from there.

The funny thing was, nobody ever posted twice.  The OP of the thread never came back to find people to commiserate with.  The second poster never replied ever, and on and on it went.  Someone new would arrive, saying they too lived near 58 Joralemon Street and were hearing strange scary screams and rattling and moaning, but then they’d never post in the thread again.  

Which led me to start clicking on their usernames, which is how I realized that not only did they never come back to the /r/Brooklyn The screams don’t stop thread...they never came back to reddit at all.  Whenever somebody posted to the thread, it turned out to be the last post they’d ever make.

Needless to say, while I read the thread, the thought of contributing did not entirely appeal to me.  After all, there had to be something larger going on--surely not everyone there would post something so strange, clearly appealing to the masses for a way to talk about it as a group, and then withdraw not only from the conversation but from the very board itself.  Why would so many people post the same fears and concerns, and then simply...vanish from the community?

Did they vanish in real life, too?  Or was this purely an online sweeping-up being conducted by someone behind the curtain, a sort of “you’ve spoken, but we’ll pay you for your silence from here on out” sort of deal?  But wouldn’t the people pulling the strings want to delete the original posts too, if they didn’t like what was being said?

None of it made sense to me.  Sure, people would post questions and disappear, but to have it be so strikingly similar for everyone bothered me.  It bothered me a great deal.  It bothered me for the rest of the night, and the rest of the next day, and the rest of the week.

Which is why, a week later, I found myself back at the The screams don’t stop thread, carefully composing a message of my own.  I’d thought it over.  I thought I knew what I was doing.  What I was getting myself into.

But I wasn’t going to go into it without testing the water.  First I wanted to see what would happen if I lied.  After all, I didn’t live near this 58 Joralemon Street and I certainly didn’t have any intention at the time of moving there.  So, I lied.  For science.

Hi all, I just moved into 56 Joralemon and although it’s pretty faint, I can hear some weird shit going on around midnight.  Glad to know I’m not going crazy, but has anyone figured out what’s causing the noise?  Called the police?  I’m thinking of calling them tonight if I hear it again, it’s creepy as fuck.  

Of course, I had to take the chance that whoever was actually living at 56 Joralemon Street wasn’t going to come in to reveal my lie, but it didn’t seem likely, given the track record of other people who presumably had lived at numbers 56 and 60 on either side of the mystery building.

I submitted the reply, and then I logged out.  I wasn’t going to mess with the theory that between now and when I would normally post again something was going to happen to me.  I didn’t want it to, but looking at the pattern of the previous posters, I wanted to give it a chance.  

So, I waited.

I made myself some coffee.  It was late, but I was wired with anticipation anyway, so at that point I thought, fuck it.  I couldn’t imagine how fucked up I’d be getting in this anticipatory stage if I actually lived at number 56, but as I thought about it more, I began to feel sweaty and clammy, wondering if something was happening to whoever did live there for real.

Essentially, I could have just gotten somebody killed.  I knew it.  Don’t think the thought hadn’t crossed my mind, wasn’t crossing and re-crossing it over and over again as the minutes, then hours, ticked by.  6PM.  7PM.  8PM.  9PM.

Still nothing.

I wondered if I should try logging back into my account, just to see if posting to the thread had done something technical to my login credentials.  Maybe they’d coded something so that whoever posted got their username hacked or frozen.  Something like that.  

I waited, though.

I wanted nature--or whatever it was--to take its course.  I didn’t want to fuck with it too much, ruin the experiment.  It had to be done naturally.  Somehow, I knew this.

10PM.

Not wanting to sit around letting my brain melt into a mess of worry, I finally checked my phone, figuring that since I wasn’t doing anything on the reddit forum, I wouldn’t be messing up the experiment.

11PM.

I had a text message waiting for me.  It had arrived about thirty minutes before, but I hadn’t heard my phone chime.

It was Fiona.

Fiona was this girl.  I’d met her at a party months before and we’d hit it off.  I’d felt attracted to her, like a magnet almost.  Every since we’d met, I hadn’t been able to get her out of my mind, so naturally I was trying to play it cool and not text her too often.  The fact that she’d finally been the one to text me first made my heartbeat race.

“I’m at a party, want to join me?” it said on my screen.

“Definitely.  Where?”  I texted back.  

I slipped the phone into my pocket as I waited for a reply, so I could get ready.  This just meant replacing the sweatshirt I’d been wearing with the button-down shirt and vest I remembered Fiona said she liked.  Well, she didn’t say she liked it on me specifically, but I remembered her saying at some point that nothing turned her on like a guy dressed up in a shirt and vest.  She was kind of a hipster, but if that’s what it took...

I was grabbing my hat when my phone chimed with her reply.

“58 Joralemon Street”

I stared at the screen for what could have been hours, even though I’m sure it was only a minute or two.  Still, it seemed like I stood there in shock forever.

Fuck.

So something was definitely happening.  Had I set it in motion?  There was no way this could be a coincidence.  No way.

The question was, should I stay or should I go?

I had to go, obviously.

“I’ll be there in twenty.”

By the time I got there, I was in that strange state where you know something bad’s going to happen but you can’t do anything about it.  Sort of like when you’re sitting in the waiting room at the dentist.  You’re not chained there, but you kind of are, too.  You’re locked in.

I walked up the steps to the innocuous brownstone.  I’d never gotten this close to it, not even in the week leading up to my post, because I didn’t want to attract attention to myself.  But standing here, I realized I didn’t know why I would have thought that.  Nobody was paying attention.  The stoop was empty and the curtains were blacked out just like people had confirmed, but it looked just like its neighbors in every other way.  

The house had one of those old brass door knockers shaped like a lion’s head, and I let it fall against the door and waited.  It didn’t sound like a party was going on inside, in fact quite the opposite.  There was no ubiquitous thumping bass, no shrieking, no horde of shadows dancing by the windows.  It was silent as the grave.

But the door opened, and there was Fiona, dressed in her usual long plaid shirt worn like a dress, and black tights that hugged her slender legs.  

Stepping tentatively towards the threshold, I asked, “A party’s going on here?” because, frankly, it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t.

“Come on up to the roof,” she said, tugging at the lapel of my vest, a coy smile on her lips.  And I was hers.

The house was spartan inside.  She led me quickly through a series of dark rooms, and I was too enraptured with the way her body moved against that shirt to ask why none of the lights were on.  Everyone had to be upstairs, I thought absently, letting my eyes rest on her ass as she tugged on my arm to pull me up a set of narrow stairs. 

We were on the second floor when Fiona went to a large window and draped her legs out of it, climbing onto the fire escape and tugging at my hand to do the same.  So, the party was on the roof.  This was fairly typical, so I followed her obediently like the puppy she had turned me into.

But when I climbed over the guardrail at the top, the roof was empty.

Fiona turned to face me then, and that was when I saw that her eyes had begun to melt.  They were black and bleeding down her face in dark ink stains, blotting against her shirt, and yet, still that smile stayed upon her face.  

The sight of Fiona, her red lips in a smirk, her eyes dark and bleeding and blackened, is blotted on my memory.  It is the thing I see in the darkness, everywhere.

There was a whooshing sound.  I heard it.  I know I heard it.

A whooshing sound, and suddenly my eyes were burning, burning like they were on fire, then burning as though they were full of salt water, but burning, burning, burning.

I could see Fiona still, though she was not much more than a blurry shadow to me then.  Her voice was hard and cold, like steel.  Even above the roar of wind that I felt, that burst of air that felt as though a tunnel had opened up before my feet--still I could hear her voice like slicing silver through it all.

“Our sight is our gift to Him.  Let it go.”

I reached my hands, trembling, to my face then, only to feel there was nothing there where my eyes had been.  My hands came away sticky, but it didn’t smell like blood, it felt like something darker, something blacker, though I could not see to know.  Somewhere, from some hidden place in my chest, I felt a low moan build up, choking itself out from my throat like vomit.  The rushing sound grew louder to me, like a train roaring in my ears, and the wind whipped at my face.  

From somewhere I could hear Fiona--or whoever, whatever, she truly was--chanting, and it grew louder by the verse.  Her voice seemed to echo into some unseen abyss.  

TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT, IT IS MY GIFT, HIS GIFT, OUR GIFT TO YOU.  I AM BUT YOUR SERVANT.  TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT, TAKE HIS SIGHT.

That was when I started screaming.
~*~
Aside:

In case you didn't notice the obvious, er, break from the usual type of post here, I'm just posting the above creepypasta as a way to introduce the upcoming creepypasta book a good friend of mine and I are collaborating on together, creatively called Creepypasta!, which we'll be publishing at the end of this month. One of the hallmarks of a good friend is that they push you to try new things, things you didn't necessarily think you're capable of. Seeing as how I'm the type of person to wet herself watching a scary movie, the idea of writing a collection of creepypasta stories was hardly something I'd thought about doing before. However, once he proposed the idea, I was hooked. It's a weird genre, and kind of fun in a campy way.

Our collection comes out March 31. If you're looking for some more creepy entertainment, I'll turn you towards his story What Happened to Chelsea, PA?

And if this type of thing tooootally isn't your cup of tea, never fear! This is but a small diversion on the blog today, and definitely not a direction I plan on going in here long-term. Thanks for sticking around!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Halfway there

I consider 19 weeks + a few days as good as 20 weeks, as far as being able to say "halfway there" is concerned.  I still feel normal, and when we went to Target to register (obedient lemmings that we are, hipster my butt--yeah, I'm that person in the Target parking lot with a "buy local" sticker on her car...sigh) I felt a little silly since I don't think I look more than perhaps a bit pudgy, or like I'm having a "ate a large lunch" day.  On one hand, it'd be kind of nice to show a little, but on the other, it's kind of nice not having to deal with the public on that one, since I hear that's a beast and I--being rather low on the touchy-feely scale--won't like it.  I don't feel pregnant, not showing, no sickness, no cravings, nothing at all except some massive insomnia for a few weeks (which thankfully seems to have gone away) and this perpetual sinus thing (breathing...I remember when I could do that).  But yet, baby blankets arrive in the mail!  Like magic!

So I feel normal.  Everything *else* is crazy and up in the air life-wise, what with my taking this new job and our having to move suddenly.  We still haven't heard back from our leasing company, though when Patrick went to pay the rent on Friday the woman he talked to was optimistic and said they were trying to work something out for us.  But....as of tomorrow it will be a week since contacting them, and it'd be really nice to know if we need to find sub-letters and stuff, or if we're setting ourselves up for disaster here.  *frowntown*  Patrick has two job interviews this weekend in Richmond, which would help us not have to spend much time living transitionally with my parents and all of our stuff and having to unload the dogs on friends/other family temporarily.  But unless we get our tax return at the speed of light, we won't have a deposit to put down on a new place since we just put one down here and are likely giving it up by attempting to break the lease...so we'll probably end up living with them for a month to tide things over a bit in the interim, or something close to it while settling in, finding a new place to live, all that stuff.  But it's alllllll a bunch of unknowns right now.

It's kind of a mess.

If you've followed this blog for a while, you'll notice a pattern: everything is a mess, everything gets solved, I go and do something to create a new whirlwind of chaos!  

I'm nothing if not predictable, guys.  

But enough of all that.

Because to be honest, I don't care.  I'm still tremendously happy.  This chaos....this too shall pass.  New chaos will come.  And so it goes.

For now, I'm enjoying looking forward to meeting our daughter in July.  All of this chaos is going to be so, so worth it.  We might be halfway to crazytown, but we're also halfway to meeting miss Winifred.