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Squee Party updates, and a meme

The Ray Vecchio Squee Party (also on DW) is going strong! There are new threads for quotes (post your faves!) and rewatch episode reactions if you'd like to talk about the weekend's rewatch episodes (so far: the pilot, The Gift of the Wheelman, and The Deal). The general show discussion thread is also pretty active (DW side), and there are lots of recs too (DW version)!

(The LJ side is a lot more active, simply due to this subset of my flist/rlist being more heavily LJ-focused. Don't let that stop you from jumping in anywhere! Also, I have anon comments turned on at both locations if you want to comment without having an account.)

In other news, the "where were you at age [x]" meme has come around again! It was ages ago that I did it the first time. :D [personal profile] naye gave me age 25. The instructions:

If you would like to play, leave a comment saying you want to do the meme, I give you an age (please tell me how old you currently are as well), and you fill out the meme questions at your own journal with what applied to you back then, and what applies to you now.

(You can just give me an upper and lower boundary for ages, if you don't want to say how old you are. This way you can also eliminate any years in your life that you really don't want to talk about! And, of course, feel free to comment without participating in the meme yourself.)

So where was I at age 25, compared to where I am now at age 39? That was back in 2001/2002, long before I got on LJ.


I lived in:

Champaign, Illinois, USA. I moved there the previous fall, after getting married, to join my brand-new husband who was a grad student at UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). It was the first time I'd ever lived outside Alaska.

At the start of my 25th year, we lived in a memorably terrible apartment in a building run by a company called CPM, for Campus Property Management, which we had decided actually stood for Crappy Property Management. On paper, it sounded great. There was fast Internet! A pool! Laundry! A balcony!

Yes, well. During the time we lived there, one of their other buildings in town had a balcony spontaneously FALL OFF (crushing a car, though no one was hurt) because of poor maintenance. Strangely enough this made us avoid our balcony for the rest of our stay.

The much-vaunted Internet took forever to get hooked up and was always slow and buggy. The door to the laundry room fell off while we were living there, and rather than being repaired, it was simply propped in the doorway, so you shoved it aside to get into the laundry room. THEN you had to fight your way to one of the (if you were lucky) 1 or 2 functional machines through heaps of moldy discarded laundry on the floor. The pool DID exist, but we would not have touched with it a 10-foot sanitized pole (and I literally NEVER saw anyone in there).

And then there were the neighbors. The building courtyard was wall-to-wall dog feces. One night somebody collected all the dog poop and neatly lined it up on all the railings, stairwells, etc, with a note that said "For the irresponsible dog owners"; as responsible dog owners, we were not amused. People set off bottle bombs in the courtyard. The neighbors behind the wall that backed up to our bedroom had screaming, sobbing fights at 2 a.m. and a pet Weimeraner they couldn't control and constantly yelled at. (We felt very sorry for the dog, due to the constant refrain of "Sit! Stay! Down!" from the other side of the wall. It seemed like a nice dog. It was just way too active for a tiny apartment and stuck with owners who didn't really understand dogs.)

Luckily our lease ran out in August 2001, and we bought our first house! Property values in the Midwest are stunningly low, and this was before the height of the housing bubble, so for something like 45K we got a nice little 2-bedroom starter home ... right next door to a crack house, but they were actually pretty nice. The neighborhood flooded regularly since the entire state is flat as a board, but our house usually escaped the worst of it because it was on the highest point on our block (for whatever that was worth ... and it actually DID help). I was also convinced the house was haunted. Other than that, though, it was a nice little house with an oak tree in the yard.

I drove:

A red 1990 Ford Taurus. It was my second car; my first was a Chevy Suburban of shocking terribleness that I bought the year I got out of college and sold 4 months later as one by one everything on it stopped working. Then I bought the Taurus, which turned out to be a nice solid used car, literally owned by a little old lady before I had it. I drove it from Alaska to Illinois, and didn't sell until we were disposing of all our stuff right before moving back to Alaska in 2004.

I was in a relationship with:

My husband and apparently forever spouse.

I feared:

Living in Illinois for the rest of my life. I HATED it. Strangely enough looking back on it now, all I feel is warm nostalgia for all the nice things that happened to me there. But at the time, I loathed it and was thoroughly miserable. It didn't help that most of the people I knew were there not because they actively wanted to move there, but because they'd wandered there for various reasons and just kind of ... stayed. I could see that being me in ten years.

I worked at:

The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, as an advertising artist. I was hired for a brand new position (artist liaison to the sales reps) and turned out to be successful at it, so I ended up in charge of my own department when they hired more artists under me.

I wanted to be:

Well, I'd been working as a newspaper artist all my adult life -- what there was of it at that point -- so I figured I'd probably do that for the rest of my life, since there are newspapers wherever you go, right? But I also wanted to be a comic book artist. That year was the year that I got into self-publishing in a major way; I had tables at all the local conventions, did several issues of my own comic and put out a graphic novel, and made friends with a bunch of indy comics people, some of whom I'm still in touch with.


And now ...

I live in:

Just north of Fairbanks, Alaska, in an unincorporated town on the highway called Fox. We own 11 acres of mixed swamp and old mining tailings, backing up on state land so we have many, many more acres of trees around us. It's absolutely great and I love it here. We've been here since 2004.

I drive:

A 2009 Ford Focus, which we actually bought NEW, with all the warranties and service agreements and everything! It made us feel like such grown-ups. After so many years of driving used cars, it has been amazing. We have been taking it in for its regular checkups and oil changes, and it has not needed a single piece of maintenance. The most we've had to do is replace the tires.

I'm in a relationship with:

The same guy as above. ♥ 15 years married, 20 years together, and still doing fine. This is the only serious relationship for both of us; we started dating when I was 19 and he was 18, and somehow it all worked out.

I fear:

Growing old. I've become weirdly obsessed with it. I think it has something to do with turning 40. Hopefully I'll eventually get past it, or at least obsess on it a little less, much as I did with my hatred of all things Illinois.

I work at:

Home! Between 2001 and now, the newspaper industry pretty much fell apart. It's all outsourced now. I don't know if the News-Gazette still employs artists, but the art department where I got my start here in Fairbanks, which I was later in charge of from 2004-2009, was completely disbanded about a year ago. So I quit work to pursue my writing and art dreams (with some graphic design work on the side).

I want to be:

Well, prior to THIS year, I would have said I wanted to be a writer but wasn't really getting anywhere at it. This year, I can not only say I want to be a writer, but I'm actually doing pretty well! (Thanks in large part to [personal profile] rachelmanija, who has opened the door for me on a whole new world of shamelessly commercial romance writing!)

... actually, thinking about it, contrasting these two years is really interesting, because I am in a very similar place right now with writing to where I was with comics in 2001. At that point, I had been doing it as an amateur for years, and daydreaming about having my stuff on the shelves, but 2001 was the year I started meeting other people who were doing it, and my learning curve went into an exponential upward climb; I fell headlong into doing it myself. I've been working on writing longer and harder and with more dedication, but this year has really been a sea change for me in terms of what I now realize I'm capable of.

On the other hand, the comic thing was something I was into hardcore for about 4 years, and then it fell apart utterly when I left Illinois; once I was no longer going to conventions, I couldn't keep it up, and while I still did (and do) comics, it's not my primary focus the way it once was. So it'll be interesting to see where I am with writing in 5 or 10 or 15 years. Still, I really feel excited about the possibilities right now, in a very similar way to how I did when I realized I could tell literally ANY comics story I wanted to, through the medium of minicomics and webcomics. Similarly, after years of chasing the elusive golden ring of traditional publishing, I feel like the world of book self-publishing has suddenly opened up in front of me -- and now I'm suddenly throwing myself into it in a whole new way.



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Oh boy, that apartment sounds absolutely awful!! Living next door to a crack house sounds like an improvement!! So glad you were able to escape Illnois and return to Alaska.
The apartment was amazingly terrible. In the grand scheme of things I guess it could have been worse (we never got broken into, for example, and at least OUR balcony never fell off!) but it was definitely the worst place I've lived as an adult.
right next door to a crack house, but they were actually pretty nice.

It is only in comparison to your previous accommodation that this makes sense. Wow. That apartment sounds like a nightmare. I guess...good fic material? :D
I have heard many apartment stories over years of being an undergrad, a grad student, and faculty in three different places—but yours is absolutely the worst. I think you had already won with the balcony that fell off, and everything beyond that has probably just ensured that this will be forever enshrined in memory as the worst possible apartment complex. Living in a haunted house next to a crack house as an improvement? Wow. (I'd like to hear about the haunted house sometime!)

Your narrative arc is very satisfying so far. I hope it continues! ;-)
Considering some of what we'd ALREADY gone through with that apartment, the balcony falling off was the cherry topping on the sundae of despair; it was the point where you realize you'll look on this years later and laugh about it, because what else can you do?

(During the time I was living in this place, I shared crappy apartment stories with people a lot, and discovered one of my friends once lived in an apartment with an upstairs neighbor who had a rhinoceros. She won. XD)

The haunted house was not actually that interesting. It was just a fundamentally creepy place for no particular reason. I always had this crawling feeling that something unpleasant was going to come up out of the basement, and I disliked being alone there and liked to have my back to the wall where I could see the door whenever I was alone in a room. I've never felt that way anywhere else. And yet, I never saw or heard anything weird.

It didn't help that this was the place we were living when I saw "The Ring", which is the only horror movie that's ever managed to thoroughly scare me, and so then I was also afraid to turn my back on the TV.
Oh, yeah: the haunted house does not sound like fun. My husband thought one of the houses in which he lived had a ghost, but it was a friendly ghost.

How on earth did anyone get a rhino into an upstairs apartment?!
How on earth did anyone get a rhino into an upstairs apartment?!

With a lot of persistence, I guess. :D

There was someone here in town who got caught keeping a horse in his kitchen awhile back, but at least it was on the first floor of the house.

Any interesting ghost stories from your husband's haunted house experience?

Edited at 2015-09-20 09:39 pm (UTC)