April 24 | If we’re going out, we’re going out drunk on expensive Belgian beer!!

Love the plateau the head made.

We spent most of Saturday glued to the TV upstairs (since the satellite was out downstairs) wondering if a tornado was going to blow down our home. Wait, let me rephrase that. I spent most of the day glued to the TV upstairs watching weather reports and playing Dragon Warrior on the NES wondering if a tornado was going to blow our house down.

When it didn’t, I made cupcakes in celebration.

Get ready

So I haven’t really been posting here much lately, but it’s not because I haven’t had anything to say. It’s twofold, really: I haven’t had much time, and I’m actually in the process of moving this blog to a new domain.

You might remember a few months ago I was asking for opinions on .net domains… well, I finally decided that while I am cool with (actually, I like it) people calling me Meg in real life, it just feels weird to refer to myself as such, especially online.

So I secured MeganMorris.net a while back (don’t get too excited; there’s nothing there yet), and have been working on moving this blog over there. The plan was to build out the entire site and relaunch all at once, but handcoding that shit takes time. Maybe I’ll get to it eventually with a minimalist design that totally looks like I wasn’t just lazy. Maybe.

Anyway, if you are interested in the new blog location—stay tuned! (If not, well, then never mind.)

Dragon Warrior: Metal Slimes, Green Dragons, oh my!

Alternate title: Thou hast underestimated the time-suck of this game.

Alefgard, Land of the Dragon Warrior

Alefgard, Land of the Dragon Warrior

I started playing this game back in March, but quickly remembered how long it really takes. And working full-time doesn’t quite leave me with as much video-game time as I had when I was a kid, sadly.

This past weekend we had tornado and thunderstorm warnings all day, so I did what any reasonable adult would do and sat upstairs next to the window and played Dragon Warrior for about 20 hours. I leveled numerous times, saved Princess Gwaelen, got Erdrick’s armor (FINALLY BEAT THAT GOD DAMN AXE KNIGHT!) and received the Healmore spell. I just need to level one more time to get Hurtmore and then it’s off to Charlock Castle to battle the Dragonlord. Oh joy.

I want to point out something cool about this game, something that shows how video games can really help with things like memorization (I’m a big believer in kids playing video games). I hadn’t played this game in at least five years, I want to say, but when I picked it up again in March and headed to the swamp cave, I didn’t need a torch to remember how to get down and out the other side without running into the Green Dragon. When I was a kid I had it down to a science—holding down on the controller for about 15 seconds until I heard the bumps of hitting the bottom wall, moving right, down, right, down, and then all the way left again until I saw the sweet sight of the stairs leading to the outside—and the Wolves and Warlocks surrounding the key-bearing town of Rimuldar.

When I picked up the controller this time, I still remembered. It was really just like riding a bicycle. I don’t think I’ll ever not know how to get through that cave, and I find a strange sense of comfort in that.

Originally posted at NESChallenge.com

April 11 | Morning fire

Ian and I went on a quick camping trip this weekend up near Center Hill Lake at Long Branch campgrounds, which is one of the campgrounds run by the Army Corps of Engineers. So alcohol was allowed (we think), but no state discount. Good thing camping’s pretty cheap.

We had originally planned to camp at Edgar Evans State Park, but when we got there we discovered that all of the sites were actually on wooden planks suspended over a cliff. A little scary, sure, but we were more put off by the fact that we’d be sleeping on hard, wooden planks instead of the ground, and we couldn’t have a fire. How would I cook my SmartDogs?!

So we headed down the hill, below the dam, to Long Branch and set up camp for the night. They’re doing a bunch of construction at the dam so it was a little odd to be camping in what felt like the middle of nowhere but see bright white lights and a blinking orange sign out of the corner of my eye.

But despite that, we had a really good time. The weather was perfect, though a little cold at night (Ian took the 30-degree bag and gave me the 0-degree one, because despite popular belief, growing up in Chicago does NOT make you immune to cold weather), and the next morning was gorgeous. There’s nothing quite like spending the night huddled around a crackling fire and then waking up outdoors, peeling yourself out of a sleeping bag and emerging into a crisp, sunny, 60-degree spring morning.

I can’t wait to go out again. Although I might invest in a pad of my own for next time so Ian doesn’t have to suffer the sore back the next day.

April 6 | Every byte

I had a fun time at dinner with my Twitter friend Lizzie (@lizziekieper) last night at The Mellow Mushroom, which never disappoints. I almost always order the same thing (cheese calzone with feta and fresh basil), but it’s just so damn good.

I also tried the new Magic Hat spring seasonal, Vinyl, which was really good. It’s got some spice to it but isn’t bitter, which is what I like in a beer. I saw a six pack the other day but wanted to try it first, so now I know what I’m stopping to get on the way home!

The past will always invade the present

Several years ago when I worked at CVS as a pharmacy tech, we got a new assistant store manager. He was a big dude, a bodybuilder type, and he was gruff. He was nice enough, though, and once or twice our group of work friends invited him out with us.

He would confide in us about the divorce he was going through, how he was afraid he wasn’t going to be able to see his daughter anymore, how his wife killed his pitbull by kicking it with her stiletto heel, how he started taking home new women he picked up at bars. His behavior got more and more erratic, and it was awkward to witness.

One day I was standing in the stairwell that led up to the store office, a small, tight stairwell for even one person, when he entered the doorway. He looked at me sideways for a minute and then, standing very close to me, asked me how closely we “watched the Xanax in the back” (“back” meaning the pharmacy).

I am tall but he was large, and I felt dwarfed. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of him, but I knew he had a short fuse and was a bit… unpredictable.

I remember my body immediately wanted to run out of there, but somehow my mind convinced it that wasn’t necessarily the best response. Or it was convinced I wouldn’t make it past him.

Instead I told him something like we kept a good eye on it… that we were mindful of our stock (which we were). We didn’t account for every single pill as we did class two narcotics (like Ritalin, Oxycontin, etc.), but I didn’t tell him that. He started to say something like, “So you couldn’t…” but I cut him off, not wanting to hear what he was asking, telling him no, that I couldn’t. Whatever it was he wanted, I couldn’t do it.

He said OK sheepishly and shrugged, and then told me not to tell anyone.

So of course I told my closest work friend, begging her not to say anything but wanting someone to know just in case. Because in the back of my mind, I was freaking out a little.

And she told the store manager.

Several months later he left CVS, I think because of a workmans’ comp injury. And a few months after that, I was summoned to give a deposition about the incident.

Then I got scared.

I would have to sit in a small, private room across a table from a 250-pound bodybuilder with erratic behavior and rage issues and explain to his lawyer what happened that day. Something that he was denying, but my manager, the district manager and CVS’ lawyers were saying was the truth.

And I had to prove it.

The way the district manager kissed my ass that day when I arrived told me they needed my help and knew why I wouldn’t want to speak up. He was a fucking scary dude, and they needed me to sit in a room across from him and explain in detail—detail that his lawyers would pick apart—how he asked me to steal drugs from the pharmacy for him.

But for some reason or another, he didn’t show up. I gave my testimony, which was scary enough without him in the room. His lawyer tried to confuse me, asking me to answer questions like “Exactly how many days had you worked at CVS before this incident occurred?” and “How long had you worked with [assistant manager] before this happened?” Very specific questions I would not know off the top of my head, and so I was told to estimate. (I mean honestly, how the fuck was I supposed to remember when he started there, down to the very day?) Yet when I would answer another question, my estimations were treated as fact and then I was called a liar. I finally started answering every question that did not involve the specific incident itself with “I. Don’t. Know.”

And then it was over. I never heard what happened, and I would say I don’t care, except that when Ian and I moved into our neighborhood almost six years ago, we realized that he managed the Food Lion a block from our house.

At first, I refused to shop there. I wouldn’t go in the store. But it’s a block from our house. So my plan of attack became go in, scope out the place, find him and avoid the aisle he’s on. After a while we noticed we weren’t seeing him at all, so we quietly asked a cashier if he was still working there. We were told he was out on a workmans’ comp claim.

But he’s back now, so my old plan of attack is back on. Sneak in, be wary of who’s around me, grab what I need and GTFO.

However, months of no sightings must have left me complacent, because last night Ian and I walked down to Food Lion and, in the middle of a conversation as we made our way down the dairy aisle, we ran into him. Literally, almost. I almost walked right the fuck into him.

I didn’t know what to do except brush past him and pretend the cheese selection was the Most Important Thing at that moment. That left Ian in my dust to face him, but come on: He’s just guilty by association with me. He isn’t actually The One Who Ratted Him Out.

I heard Ian greet him and get greeted back, and I think I mumbled some sort of hello, although I was balls-deep in the cheese selection and not actually facing any human being, so I’m sure the people next to me thought I was afflicted with some kind of mental condition.

And then it was over. We walked out, and I didn’t really think about it until just now. It wasn’t dramatic, really, and I can’t even say my heart started racing. I’ve had small encounters like that in the past, where I’ve been in an aisle and he’s walked by, and I’m sure there will be more.

I know that years ago he was wrong to ask me what he asked, or what he tried to ask. It was wrong on several levels. But despite not actually choosing to let CVS know what had happened, I don’t like being a rat.

Especially to a ‘roid-rager who works at the grocery store down the block from my house.

Who peed the bed? (When four cats are too many)

It’s been a little more than a year since we adopted Link, and almost a year since Gordo moved upstairs. When we first got Link, Gordo was annoyed by him, much like any vaguely neurotic and particular old man would be annoyed by an always-on, always-wanting-to-play-and-be-in-your-face toddler. But he tolerated him, and they occasionally took naps together.

But then one day Link must have chased Gordo too much, or too quickly, and Gordo hurt his foot. We quarantined him in the office for a couple weeks so his foot could heal, but he never came downstairs to stay again. At first he’d sneak down in the evenings to eat and use the catbox, but then we realized he wasn’t doing that any more. More accurately, we realized he wasn’t coming downstairs anymore because after two nights of sleeping on the couch, we returned to our bed to find it completely soaked in cat urine.

We cleaned the mattress thoroughly and moved a catbox, food and water upstairs, and all seemed well. Gordo seemed pretty happy living upstairs, and while I wondered if he was lonely, he actually seemed pretty happy. He continued to sleep in the bed with me at night, and he was using his catbox and eating his food as though everything were cool.

Until last weekend.

Ian and I had the flu for a week, and then my mom came into town. We left the blankets she used at the end of the couch, and one night as we were watching TV I pulled one over me and realized it smelled pungeantly of cat urine. It wasn’t wet, like one of them had peed on it, but more like it had been sprayed. I threw that blanket and the one that was next to it in the wash and cleaned the couch, and all was OK for a couple days.

But the day after my mom left, I set BK down on the end of the couch on top of the two blankets, and she immediately started sniffing them, and when I smelled them I realized they had been sprayed again. Back to the washing machine.

I thought maybe it was Evil Twin, since the blankets were covering the part of the couch he always sleeps on. After washing the blankets, I put them up on the back of the couch, and for a couple of days everything was OK. But then Ian woke up one night to find Gordo peeing on the Slanket. Not spraying. Peeing. Ugh.

So again the blankets were washed, I sprayed Feliway all over the couch, and we didn’t have any issues for a couple days. But then this morning, right before I got in the shower, I walked into the bedroom the find Gordo jumping down and looking at me like he did something wrong. I found a puddle of pee at the end of the bed, soaking through the comforter and onto the sheets, mattress cover, and yes, the mattress. Again.

All of the other cats were downstairs and hadn’t been up with him for a while. His catbox was fresh, and he had fresh food and water. I have no idea what he could have been upset about at the moment. He was just being an asshole.

We went to Petsmart and bought more Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer cleaning solution, and I treated the bed. And like a jackass I left the door open and tonight I discovered the little fucker pissed the bed AGAIN. Right after I had treated it and was trying to dry it out.

I realized earlier that one thing that had changed recently was Gordo’s litterbox. Since last year he had been using a small box, but because the other cats had been using it more often (they are lazy and if they’re upstairs they’ll use it instead of going downstairs), we decided right before my mom came to give him a larger box and move the small box downstairs to be the second box for the other cats. So now, after the incidents today, we’ve moved the small box back upstairs just in case he has been missing it.

I also ordered two Feliway diffusers, one for upstairs and one for downstairs, in hopes that it will calm Gordo down—and maybe Link, too, as a bonus. I bought him a feather toy, his favorite kind, and spent a bit playing with just him today. (Well, just him until Link came up and wanted to play, although he was good about respecting Gordo’s personal space, surprisingly).

I love that cat, and we’ve been through so much together in the past 11 years, but he really needs to get his shit together. And keep it off my couch and bed.