2016, I dub thee The Year of the Turd Part 1

I’m not sure what wayward deity, or all of the Fates I managed to piss off, but I know one thing for sure. This has been a poop year. Not a mildly frustrating, not bad, but damn dude you flipping pissed off every god in existence and they’re coming for blood.

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Picture this: You see that puppy? Bobo? We’ll call him Bobo. Why? Because I’m too lazy to actually look up every image I find online. Imagine little Bobes here─ cute, free, and happy frolicking in blissful ignorance at all the cute things that seem to bring him joy and happiness.

He doesn’t need much, just a ‘good boy’ every now and then, some food and water, and to feel safe.

Well, folks, I’m Bobo. I don’t need much, I don’t like overly complex situations and especially where my love life is concerned. I like it simple and things to be happy.

 

Every now and then I bark, I may even bite, but I get over it quickly. Well, last year was a shit-storm of my own doing. I managed to stay involved with someone that was very bad for me. Cue the sob story and tiny violin, and many craptastic months later, we are no longer engaged.

Oh! But my kind heart, it knows no bounds. It’s masochistic tendencies can put some monks across the world to shame. I called him once a week, even after I was moved out. He’d always answer with the same response, ‘I just don’t know how I feel and that I might never get those feelings back.’ The whole time seeing me and someone else. Later that week, I found out what I suspected. It had been more like the last 4 months of us engaged.

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1 month later, I existed. Minus a fiance, a car, and barely a place to stay─ along with what I was sure were very confused neighbors as I practiced Krav at all hours of the night─ I knew money would be tight, but I convinced myself that all would be ok.

Optimisim!

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Like all things after 4 months went by, I finally was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was doing great at my new job, got promoted to a lead position and was doing training presentations every week. I found great joy and took pride in teaching others.

And then, it happened.

We all get called into the office in May. Our entire department (at giant tech company with four main colors in their logo that’s square shaped – a wink, wink) decided to end our contract and make it impossible to switch to another department due to our ‘skillset’ and changing rules about tech support not getting to switch over as fast track engineers.

We had a choice, move to Manila in the Philippines, or lose our job.

I have a daughter. This was not an option.

So, I lucked out given that our team was allowed 6 weeks to find new work. Oh and bright eyed and bushy tailed, I started. Over one hundred applications a week, calling, re-calling, sending follow-up emails, asking why I was not chosen for candidacy, phone interview after phone interview, and hiring someone to fix my resume to make it look more appealing.

Finally, two months later, (and probably some very frustrated HR staff) I land a job through a staffing agency.It’s amazing! I’m excited. I was making more, getting to be in a Junior Marketing position, and great benefits. I was warned that it was just a trial period, but I poured my heart into that job. I’m doing to work of 2 people, like someone fresh out of college.

Until─ my meds were out.

I have asperger (now called high functioning autism) in combination with depression and ADHD. Often, these all coincide with each other.( Just ask the community on that.) I was nervous, only having been employed for a month and didn’t want to lose my job.

Remember Bobo?

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Cute, sweet, naive Bobo.

Yep, that’s me. I wanted to be honest with my employer!

So, what did I do? I explained that I would seem a little out of focus and become anxious until my insurance kicked in at the end of the month.

My new boss went from kind and understanding, to apprehensive and quiet. She stopped assigning work to me, kept to herself, and called me into her office. She had just returned from a business trip and explained that someone had caught me doing personal work during work hours. Which wasn’t in the least bit true. I was working on a novel during my lunch hour.

I. Was. Mortified.

I went into a mode that normal people can’t really relate to. I call it aspie rage. Not directed at others, but at yourself. It’s vicious, it’s painful, and you are extremely hard on yourself. The worst part is, you shut down emotionally─ feeling as if the world hates you, and you hate yourself, because they think poorly of you.

I got so distraught, that the next day I woke up very sick. So sick, I couldn’t get out of bed. I had to make a choice, go in like that and possibly chance that it was a virus and get others sick─ or to stay home and rest.

I chose to stay home. I needed it. It was the wrong choice.

The next day, I lost my job.

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My now boyfriend, had barely been seeing me for four months at this point. He had allowed me to move in with him when I lost my apartment in July.

Let me rephrase that─

I didn’t just lose my apartment, I lost everything. No job, no place to stay, no work in sight. I was looking at living from out of my car and my gym membership until I found steady work.

When I got that call, I felt like the biggest screw up in the history of ever. He had been paying my bills, and I returned the favor by losing my job. I beat myself up mentally for a while before finally he told me that it was OK, and not to worry about it.

How I wish my brain worked that easily. Just, ‘alright, we’re going to stop calling ourselves a waste of space now!’ It’s taken years to get as well as I have at not doing that. And still, I know I have room to grow.

Stay tuned for part two, kiddos!

–C

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Hell’s Gate Trilogy

Where did you get your inspiration?

Many moons ago, this lady had a childhood. (Don’t take that tone of thoughts with me, reader, I hear it in your mind words.) For what my mother lacked, she made up with books. Our family loved stories, and my stepfather could spin a tale. I grew up learning about Chinese and Japanese folklore.

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Though I was fond of many, the one that always stuck out in my mind was The Weaver and the Cowherd.

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In book one of the trilogy, Celeste walks the long corridor of Matilda’s home which is filled with intriguing paintings. This section of the story combines the Tale of the Jade Emperor and the 12 signs of the Zodiac as well as The Weaver and the Cowherd.

Similarly, you may have read or heard about the star crossed lovers with the celebration of Tanabata in Japan. The tales are similar, but vary slightly from China to Japan.

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The gist of the tales, is that the Weaver of the stars fell in love with a lowly cowherd boy. Zhinü (or Orihime in the Japanese version) was forbidden by the Jade Emperor (Sky King, or Tentei in Japan) to fall in love with Niulang (Hikoboshi in Japan) and was separated by the Silver River, which represents the Milky Way.

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The only time the lovers are allowed to meet are on the 7th day of the 7th month when a flock of magpies flies down to allow them to rejoin.

I encourage all of you to actually read the tales, they are quite fascinating. But just know that the theme of forbidden love is probably the oldest in human history and still manages to top the charts with sales in the romance section.

On that note, I refuse to write romance. That’s sissy stuff. I easily get annoyed and the eye rolls begin as I’m cringing through most overly-emotional shows or characters. Don’t get me wrong, a little romance never hurts, but when I see people on screen making dumb choices, my aspie self goes bananas. I’ve managed to offend most people with my rants on how Character A should just off Character F because they are a huge risk to the group. Their jaws drop and I get a 5 minute lecture on human compassion. Yes, compassion is fine and good, but senor bleeding heart mc-love machine needs to take a swan dive over the cliff. Love doesn’t cure the badies rounding the corner because some dude is raising a ruckus to save his already-dead gal’s dignity.

 

…um, she doesn’t need that nor can she feel it. She’s dead, lady. She’s dead. /rant.

 

Why am I telling you this? Because I did a little trickses in Hell’s Gate. Besides the hidden meanings and sayings within the passages, I left a bit of an Easter egg in the story. I’m quite fond of superstitions and find them wickedly delicious when playing tricks on others. To top that off, I start the first book in what seems to be a tale of a love-driven main character. By chapter two, the water works end and by the end of the book, we discover a very different side to her love interest. Just you wait until book 2. I’m practically cackling. Next blog? The life that has kicked my arse for the past two years, and up and coming WIP.

Growing up in a ‘non-traditional’ American Houshold

I’m sure most of you read that title and didn’t know what to make of it. And to be fair, what IS a ‘non-traditional’ American household? Well to a lot of people reading this, (and if you assumed like I would have some years ago) you would think I meant a sort of an ‘eclectic’ type living. You would only partially be wrong, but I’ll get to that on a later blog.

Let’s get to the point: My childhood wasn’t what you would think when you look at me. Yes, I’m not the traditional blonde-haired, blue-eyed, etc. ─ but you know I’m a white woman. And for every time that I’ve assumed things about others, you’ve assumed things about me.  To look at me, you probably assumed that I lived in a middle-class household with a few dogs, some siblings, and an easy (somewhat pampered) life. That I graduated from a university on my parent’s budget and that they purchased my fist car for me. Though I could rant on this topic as a whole for quite some time, I’ll spare you the details and wrap this up by saying: you would be dead wrong. Very wrong. No-good, very bad, and just plain wrong.

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The most common question people like to ask me, is how I got into Japanese and Asian culture. A lot of my work often dabbles in both Eastern and Western philosophies. Why? Because growing up, I got to experience what a lot of families have not. My parents were an inter-racial couple. This was very racy, even in the 90’s.

Let me back-track a bit. My real father (who is a whole other long and complicated story saved for another time) is actually white. Unless, of course you discount the fact that my great-great grandparents were full-blooded Cherokee─ he is as white as they come. Even lives on a plot of land with some recently purchased chickens and his rescue dogs. (My dad’s a real softy for rescues)

What did that mean for me growing up? Well, my maternal grandfather was not at -all- OK with his daughter dating an ‘oriental’. There were MUCH worse things muttered in our household, and during the holidays, but let’s just let me keep those in my head and not yours, hmm?

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My step-father raised me from the time that I was three years old. My parents had divorced when I was a baby, my mother taking me full-time. I’d love to get into this story, but later, as some very interesting details were discovered by myself after many years of prodding. I immediately accepted my step-father and often still catch myself referring to him as ‘dad’ because to me─ he was.

He was one of the hardest working people I had the pleasure of knowing. He worked long, and often grueling work schedules over-night, would sleep for a few hours, and then attended college. What always amazed me, is how he managed to work a 40 hour work week, school full-time, and still kept a 4.0 grade average. Even during my best semesters and working full-time, I wasn’t able to achieve this. The man was a flipping genius.

Despite those long hours, he always managed to set aside time to dedicate to me, and later both me and my brother after he was born. My mother was a stay at home mom (only after my step-dad told her that he wanted her to stay with us, because damned if my mother wasn’t anything but stubborn on this subject─ she was fiercely independent) and being that she never even graduated from high school (she had me at 17), didn’t have the knowledge to help with my homework. He was especially diligent in teaching me all the things that I struggled with, telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Though my step-dad was a product of a Chinese father, and a white, American mother, we still had somewhat odd traditions than most families at the time. For example, our New Year’s was in February. We still celebrated the American New Year, but our’s was more special. It was about family─ about gathering together, eating special seasonal dumplings or food, and gifts. My eyes would simply sparkle as a child when I was handed those little red envelopes.

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And nothing, I repeat n.o.t.h.i.n.g. can get me more excited than salted plum, or salted plum flavored anything─ that is my childhood in a bottle. My stepdad would bring these home for me all the time. I loved sour things as a kid, and he would make special trips to the Asian shops to get them. Noodles? Check. Rice cooking all day and me coming home to this? Check. If you combined three of the best smells in the world to me, it would be: cooked rice (especially jasmine), salted plum, and star anise (which smells just like licorice). We would go to real Chinese restaurants near us, with hand-pulled noodles, and perfectly cooked rice.

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So if you happen upon a little place called Chinatown or Asian Marts across the metroplex, know there is a happy white girl perusing the spoils of local grocers trying to capture her odd little world in an all-American life.

-C