Strange as it may seem, this life is based on a true story." - Ashleigh Brilliant


name: shanna
age: 28
sign: scorpio
live: louisiana
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Thursday, June 30, 2005

So...last Saturday night was more fun than I've had in a long time.

We'd planned to do nothing that evening. In fact, when my sis called and asked if she and Lance could stop by and drop a book off for me, Baret and I were still in our pajamas. It was around 4pm.

She mentioned that they might, later, go by Tsunami - a new rooftop-terraced restaurant in town. She, Mom and I had checked it out that Thursday and she wanted to take Lance. It's a neat place. I wanted Baret to see it, too and told her we might go with them - "for one drink". Famous last words.

Even though it was hot and humid, the restaurant, and terrace, is on the 6th floor and near the Mississippi, so there was a wonderful breeze. I ordered a glass of wine (one drink seems to be okay with the Zoloft), Baret had a mixed drink, Lance a beer and Amb nothing; she's not a drinker.

One drink turned into a few, and then we ordered some sushi and shrimp tempura, and then even Amb started drinking - martinis. As it got later, the terrace started filling up with the "Baton Rouge elite"; or so they thought they were.

One of my sister and I's favorite things to do is people watch and, then, people bash. It's a guilty pleasure - but come on, who doesn't do it? And with such an array of snobby, half-dressed rich kids it was open season.

First there was Pink Drink Girl. PDG had on an impossibly pink dress with impossibly pink strappy heels (with flowers on them), and she was drinking an impossibly pink drink. No, seriously, her drink completely matched her entire outfit. She was drinking it so slowly - every time I saw her within a two hour time period she was still sipping on that drink - it was very obvious that she'd bought it for that very purpose.

Then walked in Bleach Boy Band, or two members of it anyway. I honestly wish one of us had a camera because no one will ever believe how incredibly cheesy these guys looked - or the fact that more of them showed up later into the night. Important Someone, obviously the "hunky leader" of the band strolled in wearing white pants, a white short-sleeved button-up shirt (un-buttoned most of the way down to show off his chest and silver necklace) and perfectly polished black shoes. He had on sunglasses and his oiled curls were tucked under a white Panama-style hat. His goatee was razor thin and straight down his chin from lip to chin-tip. He was positively boy-bandish in his stunning white perfection and cocky walk. Along with him was Replacement Kid, who was obviously being mentored by Important Someone. RK was everything his companion was not - he was nervous, shy and he watched IS all night, imitating his moves. If IS put his hands on his hips as he stood there talking, so did RK. RK was also in immaculate white pants, white button-up shirt and highly polished black shoes.

That was interesting enough, but as the night wore on, the rest of the band arrived. There was Wild Drug Addict Guy who was loud and obnoxious and obviously drunk (we figured that was who RK was being trained to replace), and there was GQ guy with the perfect, close-cut haircut and chiseled chin. There was also Non-Descript Guy, who was nothing special, most likely the "quiet, shy one". Did I mention that all of them were also wearing white-white-black shoes? They were perfect - except for WDAG, whose pants and shoes were dingy and dirty (you know, the drugs). They were either a boy band or getting ready for a Clorox Bleach commercial., this really happened...a tall, skinny blonde walked up and started hanging out with them; they obviously knew her well. And guess what she was wearing? White top, short white skirt and white, strappy high heels. Seeing them all standing there in a little circle, laughing and talking was....too strange.

Also in attendance was Sammy Hagar - no really, this guy looked just like him. He stood against a railing the entire time we were there with a bevy of admiring women hanging all over him. It wasn't him, of course, because why would Sammy Hagar be in Baton Rouge and, actually this guy was about 20-30 years his junior, but he sure was pulling the look-alike thing off well.

The rest of the people were your normal hodge-podge of fancy-schmancy restaurant goers. Some were cool and normal, some were preppie, and snobbish - walking around like they were "someone" and giving all of us "non-someones" dirty looks. I wanted to walk up to them and say, "You know, you live in Baton Rouge not New York; get over yourself."

We finally decided to leave because it was getting late and crowded, and I couldn't take anymore snobbish, "beautiful" pseudo-city types. Amb and had to pee and our loving men told us to go before we left. We tried to explain that we'd rather wait than brave a crowded women's bathroom in a place as busy as this on a weekend night with lots of alcohol being imbibed, but they didn't get it. Of course not, they're men. They walk in and piss in a trough and leave - there's no waiting, pushing, people putting on more make-up in the mirror. So to humor them, and so we could say "We told you so", we went. And we were gone for a long time.

The bathroom was the size of a postage stamp with two stalls. Two stalls - obviously designed by a man not realizing that a popular restaurant/bar/hang-out such as this would have lots of drinking women with bladders the size of small peas. Every time a new person squeezed in we'd all have to re-maneuver ourselves to make room. It was horrible and I was starting to feel claustrophobic. Finally I was next - thank goodness because I thought I was going to pee on myself. Just then a very-pregnant woman came in and got at the end of the line. Naturally, I gave her my turn. I'm sure she had to pee way worse than I did, considering I didn't have a 6-7 lb hunk of flesh weighing down on my bladder.

As we were waiting there was this Loud Drunk Woman a few people back in line, though because the room was so small she was almost right next to me. She was telling this long, loud and drunk story to Very Pregnant Woman's friend about how she saw all of them smoking, and then she saw VPW reach into her purse, and she was so sure VPW was going to pull out a cigarette but then she didn't and she thought "there are still some good people in this world". Why she felt the need to share this particular story, I have no idea. VPW's friend just nodded, obviously humoring her, and murmuring things like, "Oh, no, she wouldn't do that." Then VPW came out and was trying to wash her hands and as I went into the stall I could hear LDW repeating the entire story to her, telling her she thought she was going to smoke and if VPW had she'd of come over there and told her something because that's just wrong and she's just that kind of person. 1. I'm sure VPW already heard the entire story the first time since VDW said it VERY loudly in the room the size of a postage stamp - twice (because she was drunk). 2. She was telling the entire story in this accusatory tone, as if even though VPW didn't smoke, she thought she was going to and all of her friends were, and so in some small way she was still guilty and LDW was just letting her know it.

Was I glad to be out of there. I came out and punched Baret in the arm and said, "I told you so!"

After that we walked down to Parrot Beach, a new bar/dance club I hadn't been to yet. Lance and Baret shot pool while Amb and I played on one of those game things that sits on the bar. We were playing all of the Erotic games - lots of fun, putting together puzzles with half-naked men or women, photos obviously shot back in the early 80's.

When the club started filling up we all danced - even my sister who never drinks a lot and never dances. She did both and I felt this soaring pride - my little sis getting tore up and shakin' her groove 'thang on the dance floor; if only Mom could see this. I was drunk enough not to feel pain in my leg and danced a lot. Sure, I could barely walk the next day but, boy, was it worth it. We had a fucking blast.

Who knew going out in Baton Rouge could be so interesting?

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:29 AM

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I'm here, I'm here....

I have a great Saturday-night-outing story to share, but I'd rather wait 'til I'm more clear-headed and able to give it the pithiness it deserves.

I'm really only half here, you see.

The Zoloft makes me SO sleepy. I keep hoping this side effect, which just started a week or so ago, will go away. I'm always sleepy; even after a good, full night's rest. I go to bed early, too - by 6 and 7pm, I'm nodding at my desk. I go to bed, sleep great and then wake up and am just so exhausted all day long.

Apparently it takes a lot of energy to be happy.

If this Yahoo! article about bioterrorists poisoning the milk supply turns out to be true, I'm in the clear - along with all of my other lactose intolerant brothers and sisters out there.

But really, that's scary.

Oh yeah, and as I'm sure you guessed, no Jo.

When the album comes out, I'll have to show you guys - thanks for the kind words & support!

My purse is like a Black Hole; I have just about everything in there but the kitchen sink (and only, really, because it wouldn't fit).

I pulled my moonstone necklace out to re-attach it to my neck; it had fallen off during the wild partying of Saturday night and I just remembered to fish it out of my purse and put it back on.

That's when I noticed all this white, powdery crap all in it.

"What in the hell?" I wondered.

No, we weren't partying *that* hard.

I ran through things I knew were in my purse - could it be a sugar packet that had burst open (that's happened)? No, no sugar in there. Then I remembered, my box of BC Powder Arthritis.

As I realized it was crazy to be carrying that around (along with a bottle of Rapid Release Extra Strength Tylenol), I decided I'd list for you the insanity that resides in my purse. This, of course, changes all of the time.

I just never can get used to the fact that I don't need to carry around everything I might ever possibly need as I did when I was pretty much homeless and my backpack was where I kept all of my wordly possessions. Old habits die hard. It's just in recent years that I stopped putting left-over restaurant food in my purse or pockets; I know that's gross but when you don't know when you'll be getting food again, you'd be surprised the tricks you resort to.

Anyways, the most amazing thing to remember, before perusing the list, is that this particular purse is only about 4" deep:

My checkbook

Loose, floating cash in varying amounts

Loose change

A bottle of Rapid Release Extra Strength Tylenol

A box of BC Powder Arthritis

Some tampons

Some panty liners

An itty-bitty composition notebook for notes, story ideas, quotes, etc.

A black ink pen

Lots of Lactaid packets

My 512mb USB flash card/memory stick

A still-wrapped set of chopsticks from Tsunami

My license, debit card and insurance card - floating around b/c my wallet doesn't fit in this purse

A complaint card from the hospital, filled out

A hand-made card someone very special made for me

A tube of chapstick

A pot of lip moisturizer

An onyx locket necklace my grandfather cleaned for me

A crushed pack of Camel Ultra Lights with one smooshed cig inside

A packet of those Listerine strips that feel like they're burning important nerve endings right off the surface of your tongue

A plastic syringe the dentist gave me to "irrigate" the holes left in my mouth from having my wisdom teeth removed; I'm supposed to do this after I eat

Some doctor's appointments cards for apptmts I missed and a prescription I never had filled

My cell phone

Sorry for boring you I said, I'm only half here.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 1:23 PM

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I'm still JoJo-less.

I started going to the gym again on Tuesday; for my leg. It hurts like hell, but that's good - means I'm actually doing something. I go back again today after work.

Then I'm meeting up with Mom and Sis for dinner (no drinks for me). It'll be a nice, quiet evening.

I recently did a website for a local band who soon has a CD coming out - a CD that they asked me to design the cover for! I have done so and am really excited to see the final results. I never imagined my name being included on the liner notes for an actual music CD, so that's pretty cool - I'm the web designer, the cover art designer, and I got a thank you on the long list of thank-yous. They're actually getting a lot of airplay on satellite radio and will soon be playing a big music festival up in Michigan.

Not much else to report. The Zoloft is starting to work again, though I'm PMSing, and I've been going to bed between 6-8pm every evening. It takes a lot of energy being happy and optimistic, apparently.

Okay...I'm outtie-5000.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 4:58 AM

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ok, ok - the guy that said that (previous post) is really a nice guy. Normally I like him a lot; especially compared to some of the other asshats around here. I'm just a terrible, PMSing bitch. I really don't think he meant it the way I took it; I'm just...flipping out.

I miss my fucking cat, ok?

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 6:56 AM

A little word of advice. Don't try to be cute with your I.T. tech; especially when she's PMSing.

Non-Amusing-Jerk: My computer's doing blah-blah-da-de-da.

Me: Okay, when did it start doing this?

NAJ: Today.

Me (knowing this problem started last week): Were you here yesterday?

NAJ: No.

Me: Okay. Friday?

NAJ: No. I have been out since last Thursday.

Information that would've been useful at the start of the conversation, considering that is the day this problem *started*.

Me: It means your profile is corrupt. I have to come and reload everything. I've got someone coming in from Shreveport and the other guy isn't here so I can't come down *right now*, but one of us will be down there **as soon as possible**.

NAJ: When? Tomorrow?

Whatthefuckdidyoujustsaytomeasshole?! Tomorrow? Tomorrow? And then he kind of snickered - and I couldn't tell if it was a I-think-I-just-made-a-funny snicker or a that-damn-I.T.-department-is-so-slow-it-probably-WILL-be-tomorrow-and-I-called-it snicker. I don't know if he's clueless or a jackass, but either way he pissed me off.

I answered him in a tone that plainly said I did not see nor appreciate the implied humor and/or stab and said, "No. Today."

There's not enough money in the fucking world to make this job worth the shit I put up with every day. People with computer problems, or people that are too dumb to know the most simple and basic functions of the machines they use every day, are, collectively, the biggest bunch of pissy, whiny assholes in existence.

In case you couldn't tell, no, JoJo still isn't home.

Oh yeah, and Happy Litha. Sorry. It would figure this would be the longest day of the goddamn year.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:24 AM

Monday, June 20, 2005

Not knowing is the worst.

Despite it all, we had a nice weekend. We had family & friends over Saturday evening for dinner, and it was a nice distraction from the big, gaping hole in the household where JoJo should be.

Sometimes I hold up amazingly well - so well it surprises me, and then I feel guilty. Other times, I lose it. I go off and cry alone so as not to upset Baret, who can't talk about it or cry about it like I can. He grieves differently. It makes it more difficult. It puts up this silent, stony wall between us; an unscalable mountain of grief. It makes me feel very alone. Sometimes we're going on about our menial, day-to-day household crap and it's like the massive, bulky elephant standing in the living room that no one is talking about.

Stupid things make me cry. His empty food bowl. Part of me wants to fill it, as if saying "It's waiting for you to come back, love. I'm going to keep filling it like you're still here." But the adult part of me knows all the food would go bad because Gia won't eat out of his bowl and that would be a waste. My practicality scares me sometimes. Going into the bathroom is hard. Everytime I used to he'd jump in the tub so I could turn the faucet on - he was addicted to the fresh water. Anytime I'm in the bed' if Mama was in the bed, JoJo was too. That's just the way it was. The holes in the corner of the dust ruffle, where it folds over the mattress; that's where he used to sharpen his claws. That sent me into a distraught sobbing episode before our guests arrived. I'd yell at him, "JoJo don't do that to my bed, gotdamnit!" And he'd run off, almost like it was a game. To him, it probably was. Attention was attention; it didn't matter if it was being fussed at or being loved. He was a goofball like that sometimes.

I made a little JoJo shrine on my altar. I have a picture of St. Francis of Assisi on there. I even bought one of those Catholic-saint candles at Walgreens. They didn't have St. Francis, so I bought a blank one and taped a picture of JoJo to it. It stays lit - so he can find his way home. One of his toys, a mouse, is up there.

This weekend revived my hope for humanity; a tad anyway. Two people called thinking they'd found JoJo. For a moment, my heart swelled. But then the nice lady on the phone asked if he had a white tip on his tail. No, not my JoJo - he's solid black; beautiful, like a cat that would belong to Egyptian royalty. We went over anyway, just to be sure. A black cat, long and lithe like Jo, but not Jo. She was so nice - said she'd been praying for him ever since she'd seen our flyers. That's neat. To think that random people in our neighborhood might be lending their positive thoughts and prayers to his coming home. Another man called two hours later - same cat, not JoJo. But I thanked him, told him I sincerely appreciated it. I did.

I felt sorry for the nice lady, who told me she loved cats. She said when they moved to our neighborhood her husband made her get rid of her two cats and her heart was breaking. I told Baret when we got home that if any husband of mine told me I had to get rid of my cats, he'd be the one finding himself a new home. I thought that was a very cruel thing for a husband to do to his wife who loves her cats. I'm lucky that Baret is a cat-lover, and that he considers my cats his babies, too. Even if he deals with the lows of pet-parenting differently than me; even when he shuts me out. At least he cares; even if his pain is stoney and silent.

I don't know what I'm saying. This is long and rambling, and I'm sorry. I learned this weekend you can't drink on Zoloft. I had to know. It just seems to make it not work. Yesterday I was a basket case and ended up having a panic attack; I think the alcohol, though I didn't drink that much, cancelled out the effects of the Zoloft. No more drinking for me. Today I'm a depressed, anxiety-ridden mess. I didn't miss this. But it does make me realize that my problem really is a chemical imbalance; that I really, at least not at this point in my life, cannot control it without some help from meds. I suppose that was a lesson I needed to learn.

Anyway. Thanks everyone. Tomorrow, JoJo will have been gone a week. One week. Seven days. Last Monday I stayed home from work and I'm so glad now. We hung out; lounged around in bed a lot late in the afternoon, Jo and I. That made him so happy; curled up next to my arm with his contented JoJo rumbling purr. The next morning, the last memory I have of him is him darting out the door as I opened it to go to work; a flash of black. I fussed at him gently, told him it might rain today so he'd best go back inside when Daddy left. "Be good, JoJo," I told him as I walked towards the patio gate. "Have a good day - I love you." I always told him stuff like that as I left for work. I turned around just before I stepped out the gate, to blow him a kiss, and he was sitting on the piece of driftwood that's by the window. He was squinting in the morning son, kind of frowning - probably at the nasty, humid heat. He looked at me, I blew my kiss to him, and turned around - the gate clanging shut behind me.

When we got home...he was gone.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:41 AM

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Update: Still no JoJo.

I want to thank everyone for the warm thoughts - the great comments & emails and IMs to let me know you're all thinking of me and wishing for Jo to come home as much as we are. Thank you.

I'm still trying to think positive, though that gets harder with each passing day. But, again, thanks...with this much Come-Home-Soon-JoJo energy out there, this is sure to have a positive outcome!

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 12:06 PM

Friday, June 17, 2005

I have the greatest friends in the world.

Baret and I spent an hour going around the neighborhood putting up flyers and bringing them door-to-door. No one had seen JoJo. We were tired, hot and bummed out when we back to our painfully quiet house.

We'd made dinner plans with friends earlier in the week and had decided against breaking them, even though neither of us had the heart for company or entertaining. We knew it would be better than sitting home alone all sad, though, so a few minutes after we got back Nodnarb & Ms. Big Dawg showed up.

Bless their wild and crazy hearts because by the end of the night they had us in the best of spirits. We laughed, we ate a delicious dinner that everyone contributed to, and we smiled for the first time in days. I thank the gods for my wonderful, off-the-wall, wacky friends; I'm very blessed.

On to other business.

I'd meant to post this as soon as it happened, but the JoJo-affair pretty much took over my life around then. But you have to hear about this! A would-be thief in Shreveport, Louisiana came up with one of the worst ideas of his life when he decided to rob a local beauty parlor/school at gunpoint. I'll let you read the article - this is one where the good guys win, and then some:

(The article in its entirety as it appeared in the Shreveport Times):

Armed robber gets extreme makeover
Group defends beauty school by attacking, holding suspect for police | June 15, 2005

It was a beauty school knock-out.

An armed robber brandishing a revolver and some tough talk entered Blalock's Beauty College demanding money Tuesday afternoon.

He left crying, bleeding and under arrest, after Dianne Mitchell, her students and employees attacked the suspect, beating him into submission.

Mitchell tripped the robber as he tried to leave and cried aloud "get that sucker" as the group of about 20, nearly all women, some wielding curling irons, bludgeoned him until police arrived.

"You can tell the world don't mess with the women here," said the 53-year-old who manages the Shreveport beauty school in the 5400 block of Mansfield Road.

Jared Gipson, 24, of Shreveport was charged with armed robbery, Shreveport police said. He will be booked into the City Jail once he is released from the hospital.

"He received several lacerations to the head and was taken to LSU Hospital in Shreveport," spokeswoman Kacee Hargrave said. "Nobody else was seriously injured besides the suspect."

About 3 p.m., the workers and students sat around the beauty salon, recounting their tale, like warriors after a great battle.

A little before noon the students and workers were cleaning up when the robber walked up quietly behind Mitchell and said, "This is a holdup," she recalled.

"I thought it was someone just playing, but then I saw that big old gun. He said 'get down big momma.'"

The robber, a tall, thin man wearing a handkerchief over his face and a skull cap, barked out orders to the other people in the school to get down on the floor, Mitchell said.

As the group complied, some of the women began to cry. The robber didn't react kindly, telling one of the women she would "be the first to go," Mitchell said.

After collecting any money the people had on them, the robber pushed one of the employees, Abram Bishop, into the back of the room.

"I thought 'Oh my God, he's going to shoot him,'" Mitchell said.

But instead the robber ran toward the front door to escape.

That's when Mitchell raised her leg.

It was enough to trip the robber, who dropped the gun and tumbled into a wall.

Bishop jumped on the man's back, driving him into the ground. Seizing the opportunity, Mitchell rallied her students.

"We moved some furniture after that," she yelped with joy as she retold the tale.

Arming themselves with curling irons, chairs, a wooden table leg and clenched fists, the women attacked.

Blood and urine splattered from the victim; stains adorned the white paints worn by many of the beauty school students.

Crying in pain, the robber tried to crawl away from the students, Mitchell said.

"I grabbed his legs and wouldn't let him go. I pulled him back. He wasn't going to get up out of here and tell everyone he robbed us. When he came in here, he knocked down a beehive and sent the bees flying all over."

Sharon Blalock, owner of the school, said she couldn't be prouder of her students and employees. "They just whooped the hell out of him."

Sgt. Kevin Crow, head of the Shreveport police armed robbery unit, said he was happy no one was hurt but was quick to point out that not all of these situations end well.

"Legally you can always defend yourself if you feel threatened," Crow said. "But is this the best idea? No.

"Any time you are going against a guy with a gun, you have to ask yourself if your life is worth risking over some material item you have in your store or on your person. When it works out it's great ... but when it doesn't, usually the results are pretty tragic," Crow said.

The gun, police learned later, was not loaded. But there was no remorse from the students.

"He got what he deserved," Renae Collier, 26, said. Collier's engagement ring was broken at some point during the melee.

"I'm just relieved he didn't get away," student Gladys Woods, 24, said. "He probably would have come back if we didn't stop him."

Police are continuing their investigation into the incident, suggesting it might lead to more charges against Gipson. "He will be looked at as a suspect in other robberies in the area," Detective J.E. Cromer said.

The Family Dollar in the 2600 block of Hollywood Avenue and a Chevron gas station at the corner of Hollywood and Hearne Avenue are two other businesses in the area that have been robbed recently.

Early Tuesday, before the robbery, Mitchell had gathered her students and told them they needed to watch out for one another.

"It's like we were saying in class, we have to stay together as a team," Mitchell said. "You can tell any prospective students, Blalock's Beauty College has got your back."

It's so nice to see the good guys win one, but even better to think of this guy, handcuffed, bleeding and crying, with pants full of piss being led off by a bunch of cops laughing their asses off.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 8:08 AM

Thursday, June 16, 2005

You only have to deal with things like this when you're having a day like me (trying to get through it without crying and crumbling because my JoJo is missing and my heart is breaking [see below]):

1. A guy walks into my office to tell me he is having problems archiving email on his system - that he has never been able to archive. Except he says "ar-chive", as in AR and those long, green onions (known as "chives"). Not once, but everytime he said the word "archive" and "archiving".

2. I asked an employee to go and make a copy of the custody sheet I'd just had her sign. First she tried to stick it in a printer, like the one next to your computer. Then she went into the copier room and ran it through the fax machine. She brought it back to me, confused as to why the "copier" had put text all over it.

3. I had another employee call me and say he couldn't start up his computer. He told me he was getting a black screen and an error message that said, "Non-system
disk or disk error". I told him there was a floppy in his drive and he needed to remove it. He didn't know how, and he didn't know what the floppy drive was; apparently he didn't even know what the computer was because he asked me, "Will it be on this tall thing standing here?"

I want my JoJo so I can go home and he can tell me about his day sleeping, and rubbing on things, and sleeping, and eating and pooping and not covering it up, and more sleeping and I can tell him that I work with a bunch of morons, my job makes me want to pull my hair out and quit fussing at me, I'm filling up the cat food bowl as fast as I possibly can, you silly cat!

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 1:07 PM

It is not a good day.

JoJo When I got home yesterday, Baret asked me if JoJo, our cat, had come in with me. He hadn't and immediately a nagging feeling began to gnaw at my stomach. JoJo is always home when we get home, wailing to be let in if he was out. Always.

As of this morning, he still isn't home. In the four years that he's been a part of my life, he has never - never - not come home overnight.

The worse thing about it, though I keep telling myself to repeat positive mantras in my head, is that I feel like something is wrong. I feel like he's not coming back. I can't begin to describe how my heart is breaking.

JoJo is a most unusual cat. He is, quite literally, the heart and soul of this household. His absence, already, has created a silent, painful void. The bed seemed so empty last night without him curling up between us. Going to pee this morning, it hurt not to have him following me in the bathroom and jumping in the bathtub; he likes me to turn the faucet on to drip so he can drink the water. When I get home from work, he meets me at the gate, if he's in the patio, or at the door, if he's inside, and tells me about his day. No, really, he's one of the most talkative cats I've ever encountered.

Whenever I've been laid up in bed, recovering from surgery, he's been at my side constantly. He'd leave only to use the litter box and eat and then he was right back in the bed with me. In the evenings, he would fuss at me to go lay in the bed with him. His greatest joy in life was when Mama and Daddy were both in bed with him - if it were bedtime or the middle of the day, it didn't matter.

JoJo I can say with surety that I don't think anyone or anything has ever loved me as consumately as my JoJo does. His love is overbearing sometimes, to a point of irritation often. He's like a gregarious dog in his affection - and he loves everyone that walks in the door. Very uncat-like. Even company that comes over and are not fans of cats always say, "I don't like cats, but I love JoJo." He's unique, there's no doubting that.

This evening, if he still isn't home, we're going to go and put flyers around the neighborhood. I wish I didn't have this terrible sinking feeling in my heart, this knot in my stomach, and this awful wretched thought in my head that I'll never see him again. I keep denying it, and trying to think positive, but... I just don't know.

Meanwhile, if you see a lithe black cat with a beautiful, shiny black coat and big green eyes wearing a black yin-yang collar, could you please send him home?

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 3:39 AM

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'm happy to report (a bit late) that the Def Leppard tickets got sold. More important to me than getting some of my money back from the investment was that they got used; that someone got to enjoy one of the best live bands ever (IMHO). Thanks to J. & D. - I hope you both enjoyed the show immensely.

I'm trying to start writing again. More than just my fiery rants and opinionated essays; I'd like to get back into writing fiction. At one time, it was my greatest passion. I've only ever wanted to be a writer, an authoress. It's what I do - it's my calling. But the idea of writing a book or even a short story seems so daunting. I talk myself out of being able to do it before I even start. But I love writing. It's so cathartic for me; it's the only thing that really brings me true peace. And I'm the queen of starting a story and never finishing it - once I lose interest, it's done. I know you're supposed to train yourself to write something - anything - every single day. But if I force my writing it's so obvious; it lacks any substance or depth. I only write when I'm inspired, and lately I'm much less so. I know I need to just do it - no matter if what I get out is crap, at least I'm writing. It's just hard to put myself into a routine. Routine is really not part of my vocabulary.

No luck yet with contacting the hospital with my complaints. They don't exactly post a "complain to us here" link on the website. In fact, there is a definite lack of contact information on there. Don't worry, I'll find a way.

This is the hospital, in case you were wondering; the Bluebonnet location. Don't go there. Of course, you have few other options in Baton Rouge. I wouldn't suggest going to the Lady of the Lake's "Fast Track"(that's the joke of the year) ER either. If you get wounded, just hope you have a doctor in the family.

I really think my boss is losing it. Yesterday we had to make a very expensive support call to IBM - you know how pricey those can be. And wouldn't you know, he just couldn't help himself and started off with one of his stories..."When I was in the Navy..."

He is one of those people that loves to tell his life story - to everyone, all of the time. And we're not talking interesting little snippets or short antidotes of an exciting life abroad. We're talking hours-long narratives about what he and his family ate at a particular restaurant in Germany twenty years ago. And it's not a sometimes thing. People do everything they can not to get caught in his office, because one he starts talking you're trapped. You are stuck there for, at least, an hour (maybe 30-45 minutes if you're lucky) listening to stuff you have no interest in. I've never met someone that thought their own lives were so interesting and were so impressed with themselves. He is, honestly, the most self-centered person I have ever met in my life. There are days I want to run from this office screaming because he drives me so insane. Some of these stories I've heard 3 and 4 times already. When he walks in my office and takes a seat, I know I'm in for a long story. Which is usually when I'm busy working - and he's visiting. There's a reason all of my work gets done and he's behind on just about every project he's ever given.

In closing, I would just like to send a message to the people at Blizzard Entertainment - you totally suck. I am completely addicted to World of Warcraft. It's all I want to do. Do you have support groups for this?

Oh, and if you have a minute, you have to go check out The Great Conspiracy, Revealed from The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Person. I laughed my freakin' ass off.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:07 AM

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Non-Emergency Room

My sister's boyfriend was in a bad car accident this weekend; bad enough that the entire side of his head was swollen and one eye was bleeding non-stop and was also glued shut with congealed blood. For things such as this, people go to the emergency room - only to be reminded that what we consider an "emergency" is apparently only a "minor inconvenience" to the ER staff.

In reality, all that needed to be done for Lance, according to the BR General ER staff, was a little eye clean-up and to be sent home with some eyeball ointment and pain pills. He needed a cat scan and some x-rays, also, to make sure he didn't have a serious head injury. Sounds pretty straight-forward, doesn't it? Apparently not; all that I just described took almost eight hours to accomplish.

We knew we were in for a long wait when we heard there was only one doctor on staff. Though there were only four people in the waiting room, a DOA cardiac arrest seemed to take hours of this one doctor's time. Apparently being dead is an emergency. Extreme dehydration, a staff infection with blood-filled boils, a broken hand, and a possible head injury and eye laceration are not.

We got to know just about everyone in that waiting room, along with their injuries. Perhaps we should've just walked out when the young boy with the supposed staff infection was led in an "interview room" where they sliced open his boils to drain them and then left him leaking blood and pus for nearly thirty minutes - all over the cot and the floor. Yes, the boy with the staff infection - the room was adjacent to the waiting room.

The woman who was so weak she couldn't sit up, who hadn't eaten or drank in three days, got called back a long time after they first looked at Lance, even though her husband raved and ranted that she was dehydrated and needed a bed and IV, at least. The girl with the broken hand was there before we even arrived and was initially looked at 5-6 hours after we'd been sitting there.

Finally the doctor ordered his cat scans and x-rays; we'd been there for going on 6 hours. It took nearly an hour before they called him back for the tests and it was over an hour before the doctor came and discussed the findings with him.

The worst part of all is that during the waiting and with a waiting room full of very angry people, beyond the window looking into the nurses station you could see them all standing around idly chit-chatting and reading the newspaper. They were so busy they couldn't bring anyone back or treat them, yet they had time to stand there and prattle on about the weather and to look up the latest sale at Macy's.

The entire time between when the dead guy came in and his family finally left (about 3 hours), the entire ER seemed to be on hold. No one got called back. No one came out. Nothing was being done - not a thing. Apparently dead people are a lot of work. Being dead is an emergency. Being alive and wounded is, apparently, not.

The nurses in this particular ER appeared to have the education of grade-schoolers, and little else. When we asked them for a wet, warm washcloth so Lance could try to wipe the dried, crusty blood from his eye you think we had asked them for an eggplant.

"A washcloth?" the girl asked my sister, looking genuinely confused. She looked at the nurse next to her. "Washcloth. Warm."

The other nurse nodded, "Um....okay." She went to get one, and returned holding it in her hand. Instead of handing it to my sister she said, "Okay, I'll bring this out to you in the waiting room."

I understand that ER's are busy places and there's lots going on in the background that we don't see or realize. But the nurses standing around gossiping and reading the paper didn't seem to be terribly busy. The disappearing doctor didn't seem to be either.

Even when they did get around to helping Lance - in spurts - the care was dubious, at best. When he was thrown around the car the windows were rolled down and part of his head appeared to have made contact with the road - it was scraped straight through to the scalp. It was given a cursory glance when they first looked at him and never acknowledged again. When they were going to clean out his eye, my sister asked, "What about his head?" and the doctor said, "Oh, he just has a contusion." They didn't clean it, even though it likely had gravel and any number of nasty things in it.

Even his eye wasn't thoroughly cleaned, even though his eyelid was sliced almost completely through and it was still bleeding freely nearly 24 hours after the accident. There was no rinse, no flushing the eye out. The doctor only wiped the dried blood off, roughly, with a damp cloth.

Today, when my sister went to clean his "contusion" - the one the hospital neglected to clean or even properly look at - she was horrified to realize it stank like rotted meat and had ample nasty pus oozing out of it. It's very infected and obviously needs attention; attention it did not get in the ER originally, as it should have.

They did, at some point, ask him if he'd had a tetanus shot in the last five years - to which he responded, "I'm not sure, I think so".

"That's good enough," the nurse responded.

I'm currently writing a very detailed and very angry letter to the hospital's administration. There was no excuse for the ineptitude we experienced. The mother of the boy with the staff infection said she had once worked in that very ER, for over five years, and it had never, to her memory, been that incompetent; meaning it wasn't just our ER-inexperience making it seem worse than it really was.

If I'm ever in a serious accident or grievously wounded, I have to wonder if going to the emergency room will even help me. When my sister was in a car accident where she broke her cheek bone a few years ago we waited in an otherwise empty waiting room for nine hours. Even when they finally took her back, she was never given any pain medication though she was, understandably, in considerable pain. This was a completely different ER in a completely different hospital. Are ER's all over the country this inept? Or is it just this bad in Baton Rouge?

Now excuse me while I go write my letters of complaint to everyone I can think of.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 7:14 AM

Friday, June 10, 2005

Whenever a circulating virus hoax makes it into our office it inevitably it ends up in my Inbox. People send it to me with a "FYI.." or "thought you should know about this" - thinking they've stumbled upon some new virus we weren't hip to yet or that they're making my job easier.

It's very frustrating to get these emails and see that, previously, they've been forwarded to, sometimes, hundreds of people. It takes me less than a minute to check Snopes or even TrendMicro Hoax Encyclopedia and see that the email is completely bogus.

Out of the over one hundred people that received this last hoax (the Life is Beautiful.pps hoax), which I could see from all of the left-over forwarded addresses, not one had the good sense to check the validity of this claim before sending it out to everyone in their address book.

It is amazing how many emails are sent out this way. Simply because it appears on the computer, no matter how far-fetched it might sound, people send it along. Chain letters, years-old missing children reports, and virus hoaxes are just a few examples.

The problem is that there is potential for danger here; especially with virus hoaxes. The Life is Beautiful.pps hoax is fairly innocuous. It simply states, untruthfully, that opening a particular file can cause a virus to wipe your computer clean.

Some virus hoaxes are much more sinister. There have been hoaxes that, playing on people's fear, tell users to find a certain file in their computer. If the file is found, the hoax may state, they have whatever virus the hoax has dreamed up. They are instructed to delete the file immediately.

You can imagine what happens. The user has unwittingly deleted an important system file that the computer needs to run properly. There was no virus, yet the hoax caused the user to damage their own computer just the same.

Things like this, along with email farming and phishing scams, are good reasons to have sites like TrendMicro & Snopes bookmarked. Check out emails before sending them along. You could be passing on misinformation, or even potentially harmful data.

Here are a list of good resources to check and see if the email you've received is a hoax or scam before sending it on:
Snopes - Urban Legend Reference
TrendMicro Hoax Encyclopedia
CIAC (US Dept. of Energy) Hoaxbusters

Remember - THINK before hitting "Forward"!

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:06 AM

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Speaking of Def Leppard...

With all the surgery-hoopla and stuff going down back in May, it completely slipped my mind to post about the fanlisting that I adopted.

The Love Bites Fanlisting went up for adoption and I had to throw in my bid for ownership. Not only am I a consummate Lep fan, but "Love Bites" is one of my most favorite songs ever. I was more than happy to hear I'd been chosen to be the new denmother of the fanlisting.

So, if you're a Lep fan, and more-to-the-point, a "Love Bites" fan, please do sign up and show your Lep-Love.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:18 AM

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Would anyone like to go & see Def Leppard at LaGrave Field in Ft. Worth, Texas this Sunday, June 11th?

Here's the deal. I didn't think they'd be coming any closer, my guys, so I bought tickets. The next day it was announced they were coming to New Orleans. In light of my recent surgery, we really can't afford to spend a weekend driving up to and staying in another state, so we decided we'd make the New Orleans show & not the Ft. Worth one. But now I'm stuck with two Def Leppard/Bryan Adams tickets that I hate to see go to waste.

They were $45/each, but I'm willing to negotiate; I'd rather see these get used than just collect dust. I'm not looking to make any money here, honestly, I just would like to see these things get used.

If interested, or know someone who might be email me.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 12:04 PM

You know what I think is unbearably rude? Answering a cell phone when you're with someone.

It never fails that if I'm at a restaurant, out shopping or riding in a car with someone their damn cell is going to go off at some point. Now, personally, I would let it go to voicemail, but 9 times out of 10 the person is going to answer and begin carrying on a conversation with the caller. Then you have to sit there awkwardly and try to find some way to occupy yourself, stare out the window, pick at your food and try to remember the conversation you were in the middle of so you can pick it back up when your rude acquaintance hangs up.

Sometimes you have to answer, and I can understand that. You're meeting up with someone and they need time/directions/etc, or you're waiting on an important phone call. Do your business and end the call as soon as possible. I don't have a problem with that. What I'm talking about are the ones that get an unexpected, random call from someone, answer the phone and start gabbing about whatever-under-the-sun...while you sit there, patiently, waiting for them to return their attention to you.

Not to mention that I'm against answering or using phones in public places or cars to begin with but when someone does this, I feel aggravated.

It never ceases to amaze me how rude cell phones have made the average person. Even the most common of courtesies seem to fly out the window now that everyone feels they must live with a cell phone glued to their ear. Has anyone else noticed this?

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:42 AM

Friday, June 03, 2005

Zoloft rocks the house.

Nearly two weeks into my Zoloft-dosing, I feel *great*. No, really - its...amazing. It's freeing. I feel *free*. I feel as if I've been given a new lease on life.

It's not that I am no longer worried about things or stressed, just that I can deal with it; it doesn't escalate to a level that I cannot handle. I actually said, aloud, the other day, "There's no use worrying about this, I can't do anything about it." And I let it go. That's a big step for me.

I'm almost kind of hyper, really silly and giggly. I feel..okay. And it's been so long since I felt "okay" or even slightly, really HAPPY that it's overwhelming; it fills me with joy. I'm actually high on life...well, on Zoloft, technically, but works!

The only side effects I've experienced is extreme dry mouth (not so fun) and the inability to orgasm (really, really not fun). No, seriously - I cannot, no matter what I or anyone else does, cum. Luckily, I have experienced this before the first time I took Zoloft and know for a fact that it goes away three weeks or so into the dosing.

I can't have an orgasm and I'm STILL happy! Woot! This stuff is da bomb.

Really - I'm just feeling great and wanted to share. Have a wonderful weekend.

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 5:10 AM

Thursday, June 02, 2005


States limit cell use by drivers - Yahoo! News: "State lawmakers across the USA are cracking down on distracted driving as research increasingly documents the perils of inattentiveness behind the wheel.

State lawmakers across the USA are cracking down on distracted driving as research increasingly documents the perils of inattentiveness behind the wheel.

Colorado, Delaware, Maryland and Tennessee banned cell phone use by young drivers this year. A similar ban approved last week by Illinois legislators awaits the governor's signature. This year, 37 states have debated new laws restricting drivers' use of cell phones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The rush comes as research at the University of Minnesota and the University of Utah concludes that drivers talking on cell phones or fiddling with the car radio sometimes perform as poorly as drunken drivers.

New electronic devices that allow drivers to surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail, get online directions or watch DVDs may create even more distractions because they are more "cognitively engaging," says David Strayer, a University of Utah psychology professor who studies distracted driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that distracted driving is a factor in 25% of all traffic accidents reported to police, spokeswoman Liz Neblett says. NHTSA says 8% of drivers are using cell phones at any moment during daylight.

Chicago banned all drivers from using hand-held cell phones last month. New York enacted the first such state law in 2001; New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have similar bans. Other state actions:

* Nevada stiffened penalties for drivers who kill someone while using cell phones, putting on makeup or eating.

* Virginia banned pornographic videos in vehicles if they can be seen by people outside the auto.

* Several states, including Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, have tried to prevent a crazy-quilt of regulations by prohibiting local governments from banning cell phones for drivers.

Cell phone bans have been difficult to enact in most states. The cell phone industry and the non-profit association that represents state highway agencies question the effectiveness of such measures. (Related story: Distracted-driver debate intensifies)

"You can't have a law for every distracting behavior behind the wheel," says Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. "You're not going to ban eating or talking to your kids."

More controls are needed, some law enforcement officials say.

"Distracted driving is a deadly business," says Ken Easterling, chief prosecutor in Kenton County, Ky. He is handling the case of an 18-year-old man charged with hitting and killing a 2½-year-old boy while he was allegedly text-messaging and driving without headlights. "It's time nationally we got some standards, so we don't continue to have loss of life," Easterling says.

It's about time something was done. You can't even compare it to eating or talking to your kids. It's not the same thing. I see way more people driving dangerously, swirving, etc. because they're on the phone than because they're eating, applying make-up or yelling at their kids.

Can you honestly say you think its wise or safe to drive and talk on your cell phone? Are you confident in saying your attention is 100% on the road? Could you say tell that to the families of Nhiem Jennings and Alexis Kiles?

- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 1:03 PM

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