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Images stolen from InsaneHippie.Net.

Matt as I knew him:

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Matt and the gang )
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My first year in Richmond, there were seven of us: me, my boyfriend Raven, Jessica, her boyfriend John, [ profile] giantrobokitty, her boyfriend Ben aka Skulz, and Matthew.

Last night, Matthew was killed in a horrible car accident -- hit by a drunk driver around the corner from his house.

It's absolutely unfathomable.

Seven years ago, when we met, none of could have predicted where we'd be now.

Many of you remember what happened to Ben: He went to jail for killing Taylor Behl. Jessica lives in Louisiana. John is somewhere in Richmond. [ profile] giantrobokitty has made a fabulous life for herself, with a great boyfriend and on the verge of graduating from VCU. Raven has gotten married (and legally changed his name to Raven). I've left my career behind to find happiness and have a girlfriend.

Matthew had finally found true love. He was 19 when I met him, and all he ever wanted was to have someone to love with all of his heart. It's been about seven months since I last saw him, out at Mars Bar, not long after I started dating Jess. At the time, I thought he was single. However, I think he started dating his girlfriend Jessica (and not the one who was part of our Gang of Seven) about the same time. [ profile] giantrobokitty told me tonight that he and Jessica had moved in together and were doing really well. From reading Jessica's journal, it seemed as if he and she had both found the right person to love.

Matthew dreamed of stardom. He fronted a band. He DJed. He painted -- I think I still have one of his paintings, or at least, I hope I do. He christened himself "Matthew Paris," in part I think because he wanted to go to Paris. During that year, our magical year of drama and love and friendship, he complained that he didn't have a nickname and [ profile] giantrobokitty said, "Your nickname should be Tippy." It stuck.

Matthew was part of my first threesome. He was in love with me for a while, tried to convince me to leave Raven because he wasn't treating me well. I loved Matthew too, but I couldn't date someone so much younger than me. (HA!) The night I broke up with Raven, Matthew came over to my apartment and kept me company. We watched The Virgin Suicides while I took out my braids (long story). He was always there for me in the aftermath of my relationship with Raven.

I've missed Matthew these last few years, but our lives went in different directions. [ profile] giantrobokitty and he were best friends, so I still heard from Kit what was going on in Matt's life. I never thought that I wouldn't have a chance to get to know him again, someday when our lives came back together in the way that they do in Richmond.

It's been a long time since I really knew Matthew, so I have no claim on the type of grief that [ profile] giantrobokitty has been going through. But this hits me in the middle of my chest -- it's hard to breathe. I can't even cry.

I've had a rough weekend -- I finally stopped my frantic running around and worrying about everything to touch the edges of my grief about my mother's health. I fell apart today. Jess and I had our first fight this weekend, too, and it was the biggest thing we've faced as a couple. My friend Mike's uncle died of lung cancer yesterday. My friend Leslie had a seizure and is in a bad way emotionally right now. Nothing was good for anyone this weekend.

I want to grieve for Matthew, but I think I'm in shock. It's unreal. Combined with everything going on in and around my life, I'm on overload.

I'll be out at Rox on Monday night, and at Mars Bar on Wednesday night, for wakes held by Matthew's friends. I have no words left, for them or myself.

Five of us left; four of us here in Richmond. Who knows what will happen to us?
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This weekend, the 10th annual Hamaganza will rock Alley Katz and Poe's Pub with some rock-n-roll, lewd behavior, and a stripping contest featuring the 467-pound transvestite former prostitute, DIRTWOMAN!

The Hamaganza is a benefit for the Central Virginia Food Bank. Bring a ham or $7 and come see local media professionals -- including the Times-Dispatch's Mark Holmberg as Santa and WRVA's Mac Watson showing off his gams -- make fools of themselves for a good cause.

Tonight, 9 p.m. at Alley Katz, you can see Barbie in Bondage, the Hamaganza band and the Vapor Rhinos -- not to mention getting covered in glitter, silly string and whipped cream!

Saturday night, 9 p.m. at Poe's Pub, will be the Hamaganaza band, hammin' it up by themselves. The more intimate venue means you can get up close and personal with DIRTWOMAN!!!!!!!

If you haven't experienced a Hamaganza, then you're just not a Richmonder. Come on out for a crazy night, and give some love to the Food Bank!!!!

If you want to know more about it, read Holmberg's latest column here:
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I am horribly, HORRIBLY disappointed in Serenity. It sucked. Mightily.

EDIT: I'm making this post public because, thanks to [ profile] partywhipple, I've discovered that there are a lot of Firefly fans out there that agree with me, and they want to read my critique. So here it is.

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So it's Sandra Day O'Connor who is retiring. ( Weren't we expecting Rehnquist? What if BOTH of them retire????? Oh God, if Bush gets to pick TWO Supreme Court justices, there will be a rollback of decisions like we have never seen before. God help us.
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Unfortunately, I didn't write it. Or fortunately, I guess, considering that the writer has departed.

A newsman who tells people to have a martini instead of mourning him had to be one hell of a journalist -- I didn't need to know about his two Pulitzers to figure that out.

If you want to laugh out loud, read this obit. I honestly can't tell how much of it is true. Maybe it all is. But it's damned amusing.

Gene Miller, 2-time Pulitzer Prize winner, dies at 76 )
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He wasn't a stalker, nor was it exactly eagerness that made him so zealous. It was a lack of social skills.

Let me tell you, some people photograph *really* well. In his photo, Scott looked all strong-jawed and sweet. In person, his looks telegraphed insecurity, awkwardness and a little bit of inherent dorkiness. Ironically, I've dated lots of guys who are dorky, and usually I find that attractive. But the combo didn't work for Scott, because he was, well, a bit like a wet noodle. Limp. No confidence.

I got to Mars Bar before Scott did and had a great time meeting up with the friends I hadn't seen in a few months. When Scott arrived, I knew instantly that this wasn't going anywhere. Luckily, he spent a long while talking to Leighton's friend Kristina, who majored in French and had traveled a little bit the way Scott had. The body language going on was excellent, and I was hoping for an easy way out of the evening. Alas, no.

Anyway, I give Scott points for hitting the dance floor, knowing a lot of the music, and talking about his clubbing experiences in Europe -- particularly Germany, which has a hardcore Goth scene. But the two awkward discusions we had kinda cancelled that out.

The first one came when he asked, "So, are you planning to vacuum anytime soon?" I explained that once my brain started working, I realized that there was no way I was inviting a strange guy into my home, and that's why we were meeting at the bar. And I explained that I had no intention of bringing anyone home anytime soon, because I had had a lot of casual sex and wasn't going to bring a guy home for the sake of bringing him home, because I have more respect for myself than that. He kinda nodded but I could tell that he didn't quite get it.

Then, at the end of the night -- after an evening where I kept my body at least a foot or two away from his all night -- he tried for the kiss!!!!! I was shocked into bluntness: "I'm sorry, but I'm just not feeling it," I said. "I think we have some baseline incompatibilities." His response: "I think you're right, but you sure are picky." He followed *that* up with how he didn't want a relationship and didn't want any kind of involvement outside of sex. My explanation that sex IS an involvement with someone obviously fell on deaf ears. And I had to tell him that he lacked the street smarts (cynicism, knowledge of the actual world) that I need in someone I'm around. He agreed that he has never been street smart. How he survived eight years of living in Paris, Algeria and Croatia without picking some up, I have no idea.

Anyway, I told him to feel free to come back to goth night and hang out. We'll see if he does. He's a nice enough guy, but honestly, there was no way he could keep up with me, in terms of intellectual quickness, world views, etc. And quite frankly, I'm seduced by someone's mind more than his body, and this guy had no desire to have a conversation. What. Ever.

What I find to the be the most interesting piece of all of this is that my friend Jon totally pegged Scott as a rich boy based on my description of him -- and he was. At the end of the night, Scott drove up to the front door of the bar in a sweet little two-seater Mercedes. The college he went to is incredibly expensive, and the jobs he had in Europe were not ones that paid well. Jon speculated that Scott had to be trust funded, and obviously he was right. Even if Scott doesn't have money of his own and he borrowed that car, it's obvious that he grew up with money. Hence the lack of street smarts and knowledge of how the world works.

The moral of the story is that I'm pulling my profile from AFF. As Jon pointed out, there's no reason to have my profile on a sex site if that's not exactly what I'm looking for. After meeting Scott, I realized that he had a point.

Aside from Scott, I had a terrific time last night. I spent most of the night on the dance floor, and damn, am I feeling it this morning. But it was wonderful! I think the drug switch has given me enough energy to put clubbing back into my life, and I'm hoping to make it out on a regular basis. Besides, there were lots of cute guys in the bar last night, and if I go back, I might get to meet one of them. :)
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So I talked to Cute Intelligent Boy last night (otherwise known as Scott). Turned out that he had figured out that I worked at the newspaper, got my full name from my byline, Googled me and read a bunch of my work. That's flattering, if a little eerie. I wasn't sure if I should be weirded out or take it as a compliment.

We chatted for a while, and of course, he got even more fascinating -- he spent the last eight years in Europe and Eastern Europe, working for all kinds of places, including doing disaster relief in Croatia during the war. He has a degree in English and French literature, went to college in New York City, and is doing freelance writing to pay the bills at the moment. On the down side, I *think* he's living with his parents, since he just returned from Europe, but I didn't ask directly.

So after about 20 minutes of chatting, he says, "So when are we getting together?" I had already explained to him about my crazy-ass schedule from now until July, but he really pushed hard to get together soon. When I relented and told him I didn't have a bar to suggest, he said, "We could meet at your house." Now, if it hadn't been 1 a.m. and I hadn't beyond exhausted, the warning bells would have gone off there. Instead, I pointed out that my house is covered in cat hair (true) and there were no guarantees that I'd have time to clean before July (also true). I told him that maybe we'd get together next week and we hung up.

That, of course, was when I realized that we needed to meet in a public, well-lit place, for safety's sake. I decided that the best thing to do would be to have him come out to Goth Night at Mars Bar, so that I'd be surrounded by friends and have a good time (and have backup) if things went badly. Or he turned out to be a stalker.

Before I even had a chance to call him today, he e-mailed me at my work address -- which I hadn't given him, but appears at the bottom of all my non-obituary stories. It's not hard to get, but I was slightly creeped out. He just said thanks for the phone call and he hoped to hear from me again (which was cool).

So. I am meeting Scott at Mars Bar tonight. You're all welcome to join me. I know that Leighton will be there, and we're going to work on a get-me-away-from-this-creep signal for me to use if I need it. But I honestly am not sure whether Scott is eager or a stalker. Obviously I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt since I'm meeting him tonight, but I want to hear what other people think -- especially guys. Any ideas?
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Yes, it's another morning that I intended to be at work at least an hour ago. But I slept instead. Since I got home from work at 11:30 p.m. and fell asleep at 1 a.m., I decided to listen to my body and have more sleep instead of going to work cranky. Yeah. That's it. It's all about compassion for my fellow workers.

If you know [ profile] dvnmsm, take a moment to send her hugs and support. She lost her best friend and fuzzy companion this morning. He was a very sweet, handsome cat, and he was only 3. Too sad for words.

Well, I guess it's time to stop procrastinating and get in the shower to start today's huge-ass list of crap I need to do to earn a living. *sigh*
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I'm at home, writing e-mail to cute guys on AFF. Yeah. It's a good day. Did I mention that they are cute, INTELLECTUAL men on AFF? The one I'm really interested in is 30 and has an English degree with an emphasis on the aesthetes. He knows French. He's read Baudelaire (whose name I can't even spell). And his photo is REALLY cute.

So we all know what this means, right? ABJECT PANIC.

I am so totally scared to get naked with someone else. (After all, we're meeting on AFF, and that's the goal of the Web site, so I know it can happen eventually.) It's been a year since the brief fling with Jon (who really has become one of the people I trust and depend on) and two years since the Daniel breakup. In that time, I've gained about 20 pounds that I really couldn't afford to gain. I've developed celluite on my thighs -- I don't even want to wear shorts, it looks that bad. Skirts to the knee, people! Combine all of my body issues with the fact that I'm scared as hell of getting hurt -- because all things end, dontcha know, so hurt is inevitable at some point -- and that's where I am. I'm not brave or stupid enough anymore to jump into something without regard for the consequences. I know better now.

My question to you, my dear readers: How can I overcome my fear? I hate being old enough to know better, because it has totally squashed any desire I had to take risks. I don't want to take a risk with myself again, because honestly, breakups suck. I can't do it again. The Daniel thing was too hard.

On a totally unrelated note, everyone who has gone to Dragon*Con or plans to go to Dragon*Con MUST read Bimbos of the Death Sun. It's a murder mystery by Virginia author Sharyn McCrumb that's set at a sci fi convention. It was written in the late 1980s, so some of the technology is a little dated, but otherwise her description of life at a con is dead on!!!!! Really, you have to read it. And it's available on Amazon. Personally, I'm feeling the need to read her next one, Zombies of the Gene Pool. I bet it'll be great!
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Flossing and driving don't mix.
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I got a weirdly worded compliment today that scared the heck out of me before I learned it was a compliment. The adrenaline rush is still wearing off.

Voice Mail Message: "Hi Lea, this is Doug, Linda's husband. I know that it's not your job to make people feel good or help the family [INSERT HYPERVENTILATION HERE], but I have to tell you that we loved the story you wrote about Linda. We've gotten a lot of calls today from people who enjoyed reading it. You did a good job. Thanks."

For about 10 second there, I thought I had screwed up the obituary big time. Even typing it out gave me terror flashbacks! In case anyone is wondering, this is NOT the way to start a compliment. But at least all's well that ends well.

I've been thinking about my job a lot lately. My annual review is coming up, and they always ask what other jobs you want to do in the newsroom. The past two years, my review has been the start of a new reporting position. Actually, now that I think of it, the majority of my reviews have set me on a new course in the newsroom. Anyway, I've decided that the bottom line is that I'm bored. I love writing the actual stories -- doing the research and interviews, and making someone's life story compelling -- but otherwise, this job sucks. But it does give me steady hours and time to have a life. So I guess I'll share that with the editors and see what they think. I've got probably another six weeks to go before we have the actual meeting, so I'm not all worked up about this. It's just always good to prepare what I'm going to say, to make sure that I say it in the best way possible.
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It's been a rough 24 hours. I thought I had screwed up the deadlines for the freelance work I've taken on, so I stayed at work until after 11 last night and came in at 11:30 this morning. On the drive to work, I discovered that I had two appointments at my therapist's office today, which I thought were next week -- and I couldn't go, because I thought I needed to be here doing my freelance work. I've got too much to do and not enough time to do it, and I'm trying to survive on less medication than I need.

To top it off, I went to pick up my prescription today and found that it had been filled generically. Since there wasn't a generic when I was on the stuff two years ago, AND my doctor didn't mention that there was a generic, I declined to pay for it until I talked to him. Turns out that the generic will probably be OK, but there's no guarantee. And because of my need to be at work for all hours for the freelance stuff, I can't get the meds until tomorrow -- and I didn't take any today, anticipating that I'd be picking up the new stuff on the way to work.

God, I really hate being on decreased meds. I can't handle ANYTHING. Every little thing upsets my apple cart, and I have to spend lots of time picking everything back up in order to regain my equilibrium. And I don't have time for this. I hate being so reactive -- if you don't have a mood disorder, you might not be able to understand it, but it is impossible to control my moods, emotions or reactions without help from medication. Every event sends me up or down or sideways, and I'm so crazed that the only way I can deal with it is to sound off. So I spent a LOT of time trying to remember to hold myself back, doublechecking every e-mail I send to make sure I'm responding in proportion to the situation, and trying to remember that when I get upset that the situation I'm seeing/experiencing might not be real. It's a horrible way to live.

Since I can prattle on about how much everything sucks right now, I'm going to stop, because I suspect that it's really not that bad, no matter how I feel. I really, really hate losing the control that the medication fortified.
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I woke up today WITHOUT the perpetual headache, so life was already good before I met with the insurance adjuster representing the woman who hit me. Then my day got even better, because she cut me a check for my "pain and suffering." That check covers everything my parents loaned me, which means I will not be in debt up to my ass for the rest of the year. AND I'm going to be reimbursed for the rental car and the rest of the costs will be picked up by Progressive as well. And here I thought all insurance agencies sucked. I like the ones that give me money.

Otherwise, I'm really, really tired today. Now that I'm not worried about paying my parents back, I seem to have released all tension. I just want to sleep. Two more days of work, and I think that's what I'll be doing.
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Well, I have the rental car in my possession, and liqui-gel Advil is keeping the headache away. I found out that the repairs to my car will cost about $6,000. No word yet on which insurance agencies are covering what, although the agency for the woman who hit me keeps calling. I keep referring them to my claims adjuster. I probably have another two to three weeks of this. :P
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And I bet you expect to read that my headache is due to Mom's visit, right?


On the way back from dropping Mom off at the airport yesterday, I was in a four-car accident. No one was seriously hurt, but I have a headache that just won't quit, and I think my left knee got jammed because I had it bent at the time of impact (and boy, does it hurt today). My headache is at least better than it was last night, but not good enough for me to go to work. (And Advil isn't helping.) I've been trying to read my friends' list and write comments for the last 30 minutes, but it's making my head hurt more. I've called in sick to work, and the more I try to type, the more justified I feel about it. I'm not in shape to work today.

The basics: I was driving home in the rain and the SUV in front of me stopped short. I couldn't stop in time -- wet roads, and I was doing maybe 30 MPH, if that -- so I hit her car. I was then hit by a Jeep Wrangler, which was hit by another SUV. The front end of my car is schmushed, but it's the back that really took a beating. I'm so pissed. Mine was the smallest car in the accident and it sustained the most damage. The three of us behind the initial SUV were charged with following too closely, which I most certainly was NOT. Not sure if I'll bother arguing that with the judge, though. At least the court date isn't until July.

And there is much financial badness around the accident -- I have to borrow the deductible from my parents, along with the money to pay for a rental car, because it turns out that my insurance doesn't cover rental! Apparently it's an add-on, and I was unaware. For a measly $18 every six months, which I would have been glad to pay, I could have had it. But I didn't know that it had to be added, so that's at least $200 I'm going to have to cough up.

The good news is that the auto body shop guy was REALLY nice and is going to do the work as quickly as he can. The problem is that my insurance company is going to do two claims, one for the front end and one for the back end. Which means that getting the back end of the car fixed is at the mercy of the two insurance companies of the people behind me. So who knows how long this will take?

As for our vacation, my Mom and I had a WONDERFUL time The hotel was perfect and we saw the Outer Banks from Corolla to halfway down Hattaras Island. We had lunch in Manteo and wandered through the shops. We also hit the outlet mall near the hotel and had GREAT seafood. I had the best time with my Mommy. It really was great.
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My Mom is here, and boy, she is a world of different now that she's on medication. My Dad called to ask me something, and she insisted on talking to him so they could have a romantic conversation! Now you all remember that I was worried about them getting divorced, right? Right. Apparently, I worried for nothing. I'm glad about that.

So Mom is currently ensconced on the couch at home, napping with the cats. (She had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to catch her plane.) I'm really looking forward to this weekend -- she's in a great mood and we're really going to have a good time. I love my Mom when she's being a Mom.
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The cleaning plans are progressing. The apartment should be in good shape by the time my Mom gets here.

And I found Disintegration! It was hiding under the passenger seat of my car. Since I don't even remember taking it TO the car, I have no idea how it got there. At least I found it, though.

That's all for today.
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I now know why I try to do my chores on the weekend: Getting up early to do three loads of laundry, scrub the kitchen and empty the litter box has left me pretty wiped out. I went to bed around 3:30 a.m., too, so that didn't help.

I'm trying to get everything ready for Mom's impending visit -- she arrives Friday. I have so much to do, between housework and stuff for my writers' group, that work is actually in the way! But I have a plan, and I'm going to work that plan, so everything should be all set before Mom arrives Friday morning. I just have to find time to read the book on boundaries that my therapist recommended -- it's been excellent so far, but I want to finish it before Mom gets here so I feel fully prepared.

I do have something else to look forward to on Friday morning, which should make me happy no matter how Mom behaves. I'm going to spend an hour reading a banned book aloud at a local independent bookstore, for the Second Annual "Readers Against Banning Literature." It starts at 4 p.m. today and goes through 4 p.m. Saturday nonstop, and the goal is to raise awareness that book banning continues. I'm reading from 8 to 9 a.m. Friday morning, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's my volunteer activity for the month. :)

OK, now I must actually go and do some work now. Hopefully it'll be quiet today.
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So I have finally unpacked my CDs and placed them into my nifty-neato-somewhat-overpriced-for-what-it-is-but-hey-it-fits-the-space-and-stays-upright new CD rack. And now I've discovered that I've lost my copy of Disintegration! I've been missing that CD for a while but was too lazy to go through the box o' CDs to find it. And now it's not there! It's not in the car, either, so I have no clue where it could be. I hope it turns up soon. :P
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