It's hot.

"Oh, in Pennsylvania most of the houses don't have air conditioners because it never gets hot enough to use them."

Um, no. When you live on a busy street where the sun has all day to cook the asphalt and steam the trees and your house is conveniently located in a spot where the wind (if there is any at all) has a hard time getting to the windows, air conditioning will start to sound pretty kick ass.

Especially when your room is upstairs. I'm hot right now and I'm not even on my computer, which is in my room. On carpet, no less. I don't want to turn it on for fear of it overheating at some point. It sucks. I've been saying I'm good to go, that I'm used to being in a hot room, but geez, at least when I was in my box at school I did have the option of a/c and in the winter I could open up a window. Here the options are slim to none.

I can't write here. I realized that today. Aside from the constant distractions (TV too close to the dining room, computer in the office, upstairs desk small with a monitor right in front of my face even if it is off), the heat just sucks the energy right out of you. I scraped together a Prologue today (changing my beginning yet again, though when I looked I realized I'd only technically changed it twice before now.....and apparently I have a pirate outside my house because I just heard a very charismatic "Ha haa!"), but that's the extent of my work for now. 2 pages and I'm just too sweaty and gross to continue. And the weird thing is that even now that it's dark out, it seems hotter. I just don't get it. The poor dog has been panting all day. It's gotta suck to have a fur coat in June with no a/c.

About the writing, I've decided that I'll have to go out other places to get it done. Wegman's. Barnes & Noble. Some other little coffee shop or cafe I find in order to write. I need semi-distraction. I once went to a library and found myself all on my own and kept zoning out. At a more public place you're sort of forced to look productive or look wierd, and you can't exactly get up and wander around either for fear of your stuff going missing (you can always carry it with you but then you look kind of odd again, especially in a small place).

I think tomorrow I'll go on a library escapade and look for the books I need for this term. Maybe I'll hang out there for a while and soak up the a/c I know they'll have...

A short blog entry, I know, and I thought I had more to say, and I might have, if I weren't so hot and freaking sticky in this house...

I'll take one of these...or a pool
The title refers to the spider who was crawling on my wall a while ago and then somehow made the leap from wall to my computer desk. I think he might be the same one I found under my speaker a few weeks ago when I was trying to find where the hell the ant on my desk had gone. It was like a like action version of the I Spy books. Anyway, he's back by his speaker again (if it is indeed the same spider), and I'm pretty sure he was weaving a little invisible web around he's just waiting between the lamp and the speaker like that's the entrance to the Hot Gates and he's got to defend Sparta or something. ...That would be awesome though, wouldn't it? All of a sudden a little spider leg goes up into the air and I hear a tinny, "This is SPARTA!" and the spider tackles a horde of ants that suddenly come his way...except then I'd be thinking "WTF? Where the hell did all these ants come from?" and I'd have to go get Mari's Ant Annihilation Care Package and that might mean killing the spider in the process and I don't really mind his being there, even though he's not going to get any food whatsoever...

Oook, now that I've skimmed through my own blog to find out what I've rambled about and what I haven't, I realized I've sort of missed mentioning my grad school thing. Sort of? Completely, more like.

Out of the 5 places I applied to here in PA, 4 said yes and 1 said no. (1 of those 4 took their sweet time in telling me too, geez). Slippery Rock University only had English, so they were basically my last place if all else fails. Rosemont College looked really nice and I actually intended to go there, but since they were the ones who didn't tell me until it was way too late (try late May) it was a no go. Then there was Wilkes University and Seton Hill University. Wilkes is probably a little more like ISU in its location and all that jazz, while Seton Hill would be more like Edwardsville - quiet, secluded, but still near a little town. It was a hard decision. I took as much time as I could trying to figure out where to go. It was even more difficult because both of them were basically the same - residencies followed by writing periods in which communication was all done online. I didn't even truly realize this until late (like the idiot I am). Basically, you would go to the university for several days and go all writer-hardcore during those days, then go home and work on your thesis project - aka novel.

I finally decided on Seton Hill. Probably a bit of a ballsy move considering the official title of the program is a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction as opposed to Masters in Creative Writing. The less ambiguous label is bound to get me when seeking out possible creative writing jobs teaching at community colleges and whatnot. I acknowledge my stupidity and/or guts. Hey, this is the girl who majored in English and minored in Japanese. Equally semi-useless in a world like this. But hey, I figured if I was going to write fantasy and science fiction novels I might as well immerse myself in the genre and be surrounded by people who are doing the same thing. Wilkes would have supported that, as my contact there informed me, but I've been around non-genre types for too long and I'm tired of feeling awkward.

Not that I didn't feel awkward at Seton Hill. I know, that doesn't make sense, but I'll get to that in just a second. I'm actually back from the residency now - it was June 19th to well, yesterday. I had to drive on many shitty roads chock full of crazy drivers and WAY too many road signs that switch MPH on you within a few miles and warning you of agressive drivers and to keep your eyes open and to understand that cops lurk everywhere and put your seatbelt on and hang up your cell phone and keep your eyes on the road and do not pass and stay in your lane and don't try to change your pants or do your makeup while driving. I wouldn't really be too surprised if I ever came upon signs like those last two in the future. And I agree with whoever said it at the residency - PA is where the US stores all its road cones and such. Plenty of construction - just not anything active. A lot of concrete walls and cones and barrels everywhere with no one doing anything. The lameness abounds.

As for the residency, the teaching modules (as they're called - we learn about various ideas and techniques to use; I now have a sweet little erotic dictionary, hey, I took the "Writing the Love Scene" one, what do you expect?) are awesome, all the teachers having been published and they're all animated and excited when they teach. It's been a while since I've seen teachers this into what they do. It's impressive. Still, even being surrounded by fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, romance, and other various genre writers, I felt a bit weird. I've been around regular (as I guess I might call most of you) people all my life so suddenly being around other people excitedly chatting on about their characters and how they got away from them and went on to do their own thing and who is doing what in the book, etc. etc. was strange. The closest I can say I've been to experiencing something similiar was when I hung out with my Japanese class. Even with them I could only hang out for so long before feeling out of place. Like part of me fit right in, but the rest, not so much. I'm weird like that. Like a key in a house with a lot of doors but I just don't fit in anywhere. I think it goes back to that lone wolf complex I developed a while ago. Too many years of moving have molded me into something altogether different and I quit being a leader in many terms of the word and went off to do my own thing instead of hanging with the group.

It kind of sucks in some ways because other newbies (as we were all called) were excited and seemed to fall right into place. I oftentimes just felt sort of...there. Of course I'd participate and I enjoyed all the classes and chit-chatting with people when I actually had something to say, but other times when we were all just hanging out in the lounge (signed up to live in one of the dorms for the week instead of spending more money on a hotel) I'd feel like a bump on a log. (Then there was the annoying high school drama that did not help, but that's a whole other story you'd have to ask me about, but at least that worked itself out well). Observing everything and cut off from it. Several people from residencies past had already formed a little bond and a had their cute group, and several newbies found each other and formed their new little group, but I didn't feel like I'd found even any one person I could connect to on a stronger level, not like Jane or Katie or Sandra.

Now, that's not to say no one was nice to me or I was a total hermit or I was awkward 24/7. I hid the awkwardness as much as possible and did what I could to fit right on in. Of course, saying that means I was a bit like that one puzzle piece that almost fits, but damn it all if it isn't the right one. And again, some of that was due to me not knowing what to do in the face of the high school drama. But I was invited to go along to places, dinner, whatnot, and it wasn't until Saturday night that I felt at my best and most comfortable. I didn't go to bed until 3:30am, a stark contrast to the 10:30pm bedtime (a record for me, by the way) on the 19th, first day I got there (though much of that was just me being freaking tired).

It was all good, though I do have to admit the lone wolf in me reared its head at the end of the residency yesterday. Graduation was nice, but immediately after that, I pulled my disappearing act (something I know a few of you remember me doing in college...and probably high school too from time to time). I slipped off and went straight to my car, pulled it up to the dorm and hauled my stuff out, planning to leave right after dropping off my key. Of course, that took more time and effort than I wanted - I was practically going to give myself a heart attack with how antsy I was to leave. I mean, I wanted to GO. I was taking stairs two at a time and never bothered with the elevator even when hauling luggage around (I was only on the second floor anyway). I like to leave and arrive without a lot of fanfare - any fanfare at all if possible. I've put have my crap into my dorm room at ISU while trying to be incognito before - all hat and sunglasses and boots (but I think Bill still noticed me so I apparently suck at basic disguises). So naturally I left without saying goodbye. Very rude, I know, but it's what I do. The way I am. I can only run with a pack for so long before leaving to run in the mountains on my own again. Semi ironic in some ways because I remember getting named the most sociable newbie at the start of the residency. Well, I did try. I made a point to attempt to be social - I wasn't just going to sit in my room and do nothing. I wanted to do everything. Kind of reminds me of my freshman year in college - I kept my door wide open so people could mosey on in and say hi. No one did. I was disappointed. It's the moving over the years. Gets tiring making friends when you're going to move in a few years. I still did, but I still retain that sense of "Why bother when the time is so short?" Heh. Makes me sound like a not-so-ideal candidate for the program when everyone kept talking about the friendships and camaraderie.

So some of you may be wondering - where do all these people come from? PA? Haha - no. To my amazement, people were coming from California, Florida, Oregon, New York, Illinois, and everywhere in between. That's something I found crazy and impressive at the same time. Here I was thinking it was a big thing for me to be moving to Pennsylvania and people are hopping on planes and getting 4 hours outside of their time zone to come here and write. Yowza.

Well, today is the day I start writing. I even have it on my list o'stuff to do here. I wrote it up last night and it says "WRITE U BITCH!" on it because I have to yell at myself sometimes to get going.

Ok, this blog is long enough. Time to eat, chill, and maybe take a nice hot bath just to relax. There's a whole list of stuff to do dad wrote up that kind of pisses me off becuase it means no one did anything while I was away. It's like things are incapable of getting done around here when I'm not present. But whatever, I get near-free room and board so I guess that's my penance for staying at home. Ciao!

I'm very jealous of my sister - she got a pony and I've only wanted one since forever... XD

P.S. That spider is still there...
Shutters usually go "click" or something like that. Mom's camera is old. When we got it, it was hot stuff. Now it's kinda gone the way of camera-dinosaur land. That's why some of these pictures look like crap; the flash didn't go off. They've been toyed with by me in an attempt to make them go from "brown finish" to "semi-respectable." Obviously the outdoor pictures went well, as did the pictures where the flash decided to grace us with its presense. (and yes, that purple has been colored on to the cake - it used to be brown from the dumb camera. Just trying to help things out).

Don't mind me... Er, don't mind the dog either...

Mah car! And what mah hair looks like from the back (if you care)

That's how much hair I chopped off. Momma's 3rd cake.

My 3rd cake (roses = hard to do)

The collaborative 2nd cake. Mom's 1st cake.

And of course, my infamous 1st cake. Yes - it says "CAKE" on it. And yes, it was awesome.
In case you didn't already realize, Nicole is back and much farther away at that. Find out what happened on the way here and soon after by reading the two-parter:

The Moving Story

The House

Within a few weeks my residency will commence and the crazy hardcore writing will begin. I know I said I'd have a follow up blog to go with "The Moving Story," but I decided to just make that "The House" instead since I had a lot to say. After all that, there's still been some more to do and we still have to get up some leaves and do some planting to make the place look brighter and more chipper than it does. It's not too bad a house - it just needs a LOT of work. And a whole new kitchen because that thing sucks. The kitchens some of you guys had in your apartments were better than this one.

Anyway, enjoy reading those - I have to go get dressed.

Oh! Holy crap I totally forgot! I never mentioned how I chopped all my hair off finally. Ok.

I'd decided to cut it in April, and the plan was to go mega short, something I haven't done in years, and last time it wasn't done that well. If you remember how short my hair was that one year at Ryan's party at his, Nate's, and Matt's apartment, you already have a general idea of how short I planned to go. It had been in the works for...well, forever. I hadn't done much to my hair except maybe trim it once back in school, so by the time April rolled around, my hair was long. Longer than I think it's ever been, or at least for a while. Fantastic to put up in a bun though, so I started doing that a lot. When down, it was getting to be just above my hips, so I didn't leave it down all that much, mostly because I wasn't too keen on looking like a hippy girl (because I kinda do, much to my annoyance).

What I wanted to do with my short hair was to just say "Fuck it" and be bold and try out what my sister had suggested several years back and I was too iffy and "Oh I don't know" to do it. Cut it short - chin length - give it some layers, and flip it out. Good plan. What's more, one day back when my dad was still actually living with us in Rantoul, we stopped by the barber shop so he could get a trim and one of the ladies there askd if I as geting my hair cut. I said no, but she said when I did, I should donate it to Locks of Love. Ok, I'm game. Got all this hair, might as well do something productive with it.

So when April finally rolled around, about the mid-point of the month on a Saturday, I moseyed on in to a little hair place and explained what I wanted. For some reason, everyone there went all psycho when I cut my hair off. Even two girls that came in later saw it and went into shock or something, and they kept saying, "But why would you do that? Why would you cut off all your hair?" Um, because it's been long for WAY too long and I want it gone ok? They acted like hair doesn't grow back and I was doomed to have short hair for the rest of eternity. It was weird. So the hair dresser is just snipping away and afte a while I start to get a little panicky, like, " much is she gonna take off??" but finally she stopped. Now I specifically said "flipped out" as in, take a curling iron and make it flipped out. Duh. I don't know what she's thinking but when I looked in the mirror I was basically thinking, "So totally not what I want - and I reeeeeelly hope I can get my hair to do what I want or I'm going to be kind of bummed." Even if my hair didn't turn out exactly the way I planned, I wasn't going to be super bent out of shape because, after all, hair does grow back so it's no big deal.

I took my hair and went home (I have a picture of me with my hair, so you get to see how much I cut off - over 12 inches - and what that woman did to my hair), and the next day when I had to go to work, I took a curling iron to my hair and voila! Sheer awesomeness. No, really, I looked awesome. It was one of those days where things just go right. And thus did I skip into work and have everyone immediately telling me how great my hair was. Score. And it was good too because you know if people flatline before telling you it's good, that means it's either not that great or just plain crappy, but instant approval is a positive thing. I have another picture of me with good hair by my car, so when they're all developed, I'll post them, along with the cakes my mom and I decorated (we took a cake decorating class at Michaels if you recall). My first cake is super-fantastic, and you'll soon see why (it's done in typical Nicole style).

So yeah, at least I look good. =P Ok, now I'm going to go get dressed! Toodles!

I have been eating an unhealthy amount of these...
Before today I have never known how bad some women might have it when it comes to that particular less-than-magical time of the month.

Men often snort at things like PMS, saying it’s just an excuse we women use to be angry or, as the more common word is, bitchy. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is something I’ve never particularly encountered myself. I don’t get cranky or out of sorts before it happens, but I’m not going to say some women don’t have that problem because I’m sure they do. No woman is the same as the other, so to say we make some of this stuff up (granted, I don’t think PMDD is real, or at least, wasn’t until someone decided it should be – more pills to push and $$ to get) will annoy many women. Frankly, I always want to slap any guy in the face who says, “What’s wrong? PMSing?” when I’m cranky one day for the simple fact that I have never in my life used PMS as an excuse to be bitchy or emotional, especially since I’ve never had it.

But today, and as much as I’m sure all of you want to know this, I’ve been struck down with the worst cramps in the history of my life. No joke. I mean, come on, all of us girls have probably had some shitty God-this-sucks cramps, but this was a whole new deal for me. Guys, you wouldn’t understand just how much our uterus can fuck us up, and I won’t go into details, suffice to say that I couldn’t even eat a whole lunch without thinking I might upchuck it back into existence, thinking maybe I was actually sick with something and had a fever due to body temperature changes, and essentially bedridden from the time I showered (maybe 10 or 11) until a little after 2pm. After my so-called lunch I crawled under the covers praying for sleep in order to avoid the very unhappy knotting of muscles and wake up when it was over (which thankfully happened). I’d taken 3 Advil when normally just 1 or 2 will suffice. Normally I go about my day and people are none the wiser, even if the cramps are somewhat ugly (I went car shopping for my current car – so glad Nick had heated seats).

Usually things are good to go after the first mean day. Guys don’t like to talk about it, or hear about it, something I find a bit interesting. Perhaps the idea ruins their image of us in some manner. They like to pretend it doesn’t exist or at least ignore it as much as possible. Not so say that we wouldn’t like to do that either, but we aren’t quite able and it would be for completely different reasons. Guys freak out and say it’s gross. Well I guess it is, but it’s still a natural part of us so you might as well get used to it. Basically just our body’s way of saying, “No baby this time around!” (hah, thank God – no offence to you moms out there). I still like my sister’s saying because it’s quite true. Even if we don’t get all wiggy from PMS, we can still be wiggy during those 5-7 days dealing with this annoying crap:

“If you bled for 7 days straight and didn’t die, you’d go nuts too.”

I know, this has nothing to do with moving, I doubt stress was involved with making things worse because I haven’t really been stressing (quite the opposite as I’ve found some music to assuage me). Yes, The Moving Story is in the middle of being written, though it isn’t all that magical except for the part about one car blowing up (“What?!” you say? Yes, but we’ll get to that soon) as well as the actual house itself. Maybe if we have spare film on dad’s camera I’ll take some pictures of my room and the non-shitty parts of the house so you guys can see what it looks like.

Right now I’m going to go find dad’s stethoscope and see if those really are carpenter ants in Ashley’s wall scrabbling around, or if they’re wood bees. (I have my money on the ants – I think that guy doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about).

Oh yeah, and by the way...

House centipedes are fucking creepy.