how do you afford your candle/comic lifestyle?

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(apologies to cake for the entry title)

i called about the atomics hardcover and of course they didn't have the hardcover. but i went ahead and kept the trade paperback they sent me (since all i currently had were the individual comics). they still haven't fixed their site. i found a hardcover on amazon and on some other site, but i don't really want to pay $250 or $300+ for it.

i got my dark horse the complete madman comics limited edition box set in the mail. it's in awesome shape: the box, the dust covers, the books, everything! it's 116 of 500.

while i was looking for other stuff, i also ran across a copy of the madman two trilogies limited edition hardcover. it was for just about $23 total! i should be getting it in the mail sometime soon. i think it's 501 of 1500. hopefully it'll be in as good of shape as the dark horse box i just got.

friday was a maintenance window, so i used the free daytime to eat lunch at sylvia's and drop by the mall to pick up a late birthday present for my brother's wife. i had planned to take care of some other stuff, but i made a pit stop by bedrock comics and lost time. i didn't buy anything though. friday night at work i put in some new mail servers and a new proxy server. good times.

i used the good weather saturday to get out on my motorcycle some and take care of a few errands. it was a little chilly, but not horrible.

first, i dropped by a walmart (westheimer near dunvale) to return the digital coax cable i'd bought for my dad's stereo set-up. you know, i think walmart in big cities is kind of depressing. in small towns everyone shops there because a lot of times they don't have much choice. but in big cities...i was standing in the return line thinking "i think this is a cleverly conceived ploy by the man to break the wills of the poor and keep them broken." what else could explain the aura of futility, brokenness, psychosis and depression that pressed in on my psyche the whole time i was in the store?

hopefully it's not just some kind of socioeconomic snobbery on my part. i had to analyze myself to see if i thought that was it. i don't think so. it just sort of feels like no one cares at walmart -- the employees, the shoppers...no one. but maybe over the years i've become entranced by the slick marketing and presentation that exudes success in modern culture. can i still truly appreciate and identify with my rural roots? or have i created an idealized sham of what it was, something that lets me feel connected but is in no way similar to reality? years of separation from something leads to that...nostalgia, the "good old days" so to speak. but it's really a sanitized, repackaged, safe version of the past that only amplifies the positives from that time. or it makes you feel better about your current self because you think you can identify with something you really can't anymore. i don't know.

i then dropped by a few comic book stores to see if i could find anything. one store is clean, orderly, and pleasant. one store is cluttered, kind of dark, and a touch seedy. and one store is equally cluttered, dark, and seedy -- but lorded over by a guy who was the inspiration for, or takes all his cues from, the simpsons' comic book guy. seriously, the guy is a pompous doofus. and i'm not saying that because he did anything to me, because he didn't. i was just in the store listening to him talk to other people as i looked around. (i'll leave it to anyone who cares to identify the three stores in question.) i of course didn't find anything i was looking for. plus i noticed i can get pretty much everything cheaper online.

i came back home and did some stuff around the house (like trying to clean and organize a bit, and finishing matting and framing my going away pictures from lockheed martin and dyncorp, from my years as a rocket scientist at nasa). sue texted me to see if i wanted to meet them for dessert later, so i jumped in my pickup and drove to james coney island for supper beforehand. when sue texted me again, they'd decided to go to house of pies. not too much surprise there. it was jack and sue, chip, and a couple of friends of chip. i had a couple of cups of coffee and a slice of house of pies' new texas pecan cheesecake. it's sort of like a cheesecake with a pecan pie (minus the crust) in the middle of it. it was pretty good, but not spectacular.

i got home and futzed around, then i went to bed. except i couldn't. the caffeine probably didn't help, but besides that my eyes hurt pretty badly, my sinuses felt weird, and my digestive system was not very happy about something. basically, i ended up getting some fitful sleep starting around 3:30am, and gave up and got up around 9:30am. 6 hours of low-quality sleep on a weekend night is very uncommon for me.

over the last few months or year i've been having several nagging problems, and they seemed to all come out at once. i've self-diagnosed as follows: my sinus problems are due to my cat and/or dust and/or artificial heat; my stomach problems are due to a growing lactose intolerance; and my eye problems are due to spending so much time in front of computers.

speaking of that, lately i've been having worse problems with my eyes. enough that i'm starting to get worried that maybe it's not just that my eyesight is getting worse so my eye muscles have to strain more and that explains the eye pain. my right eye generally hurts worse than my left. i think i'm slightly left-eye dominant (although i don't ever tell firearms instructors that), but i'm not sure if that helps explain one eye hurting more or not. i made an appointment today for friday, so hopefully i can get at least one of my anomalies resolved.

anyway, since i'd gotten up at 9am, i spent a few hours listening to music and trying to go through papers and junk i have laying around all over the place (i clutter like nobody's business...but i'm not a slob generally). eventually sue texted to initiate operation yankee candle. her plan was to hit a few yankee candle stores while their final sale of winter/holiday stuff was going on (it ended monday). ...but we ended up only hitting one because she blew all her money in one place. which is sweet, sweet justice considering that she used to make fun of my purchasing tendencies there. anyway, here's what i got this go-round:

  • berry jam (large jar)
  • christmas cookie (large jar)
  • chocolate cupcake (large jar)
  • oatmeal cookie (large jar)
  • black cherry (oil)
  • cinnamon sugar (oil)
  • christmas cookie (oil)
  • candle wick snipper

all of the scents were on sale except for the oatmeal cookie candle. it was in the bin of stuff they used to sell but is only around now for a little while. i had to choose between it and a few others. and the candle wick trimmer wasn't on sale. make fun of me if you want, but long wicks blasting out soot and mushrooming is annoying, and trying to trim a wick inside of a jar with a regular pair of scissors is somewhere between not easy and impossible.

afterward i went with the whole potts clan to buca di beppo. we ended up sitting at a booth right next to the tables i'd sat at with the potts and a bunch of other people years ago. i don't remember the occasion...jack's birthday, perhaps? (i mentioned this in one of my blog entries that disappeared forever back in 2004 or whenever when my server crashed -- taking my year or so old fledgling secret blog with it, then my desktop followed it a few weeks later.) if i recall, at the time i was still trying to be friends with tamara. she'd already admitted to having the affair, she was living with raj and keira (in the house i'm living in now), and we were still going to a marital counselor i think. tamara showed up with william, a mutual friend (although originally her friend, and they were closer) -- they were both being kind of lewd and immature...just kind of acting like teens who'd recently left home and were trying a little too hard to prove they were wild and crazy and free. (all categories which neither of them fit into all that well.) my heart was breaking with the situation, but i was trying to maintain my composure. eventually i couldn't do it and i got up and left. i don't remember if jack or sue called me, or if i called them to let them know i had to leave the table and couldn't come back. i think jack either talked to me on the phone for awhile, or maybe came out and talked to me. i don't remember anymore. i just remember that i couldn't sit there and watch tamara act like she was an irresponsible college teen oblivious to the reality of the situation that directly involved me while i was sitting at the table. i know i spent a long time outside crying and being upset. yeah, those were the fscking glory days.

anyway, this time nothing dramatic happened. now, i've been there at least two or three times in the last few years -- so don't think i was averse to the place and this was the first time i'd ever managed to get up the courage to go back. it's just that this was the first time i sat in a place close enough that it triggered the memories.

monday i had the day off for mlk. i decided to go down to league city and eat at the village pizza and seafood on 518 ash and i used to eat at. i had the cheeseburger sub, which was as good as i remember it. afterward i was at a stop light on 518 near 45, staring forward waiting for the light, when someone making a left in front of me caught my eye for some reason. in my mind it was something like: "mmm-hmmmm...waiting at the light...ladada...sky...cars...man, this is boring...hey she's kind of attra...is that jennifer?...it's a maroon suburbun..." i mean, i wasn't even really paying attention to my surroundings and all of the sudden my mind realized it. i looked in the rearview mirror at the back of the suburban and sure enough it had the bumper sticker hers used to have. how bizarre is it that i would be in an area i never really go to, and at that exact moment we would both be at that same place and cross paths? not that i think she realized i was there. it's still pretty bizarre.

since i was in the area, i stopped by the yankee candle in baybrook mall. but you know, after going out of my way to visit there twice now, i think i can safely claim i don't care for that store so much. their selection has been pretty limited compared to the other stores i go to. maybe more people buy there, so by the time i get there it's slim pickings. whatever the case, i don't see much reason to make trips there in the future unless i'm desperate or i call ahead.

it's not entirely true that i just went there because i wanted to though. sue had contacted me earlier and was regretting haven given up operation yankee candle too soon. she wanted me to secure some more stuff for her, as she was at work and couldn't get to a store. but the baybrook store didn't have what she wanted, or anything i wanted, so i left it.

i also stopped at a kiosk in the mall to look at some incense and oil burners. they had some kind of cool looking stuff. it was being operated by an indian lady and a young indian woman. the younger one helped me, and she was a very persistent seller. she almost had me, but i managed to get away without buying anything.

because i was under obligation to make a purchase for sue, i had to go to another yankee candle store. i thought about going to the one in that mall at i10 and beltway 8 since i hadn't been there in some time and they had a good selection the times i've been there, but in the end i was kind of tired and didn't feel like devoting the extra time and driving without knowing if i'd find what sue wanted. so i just dropped by the rice village store. while there, i found one more thing on sale and then used the gift card the potts gave me for xmas:

  • cookies for santa beanswax (large jar)
  • star fruit and orange (large jar)

the beanswax candle was on sale. i've not had one of these, so it's sort of an experiment to see how i feel about them. it has two wicks, so it'll burn faster. but it may throw more scent too.

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Walmart on Westheimer near Dunvale -- that's my old neighborhood before I left Houston for the last time. There were two large open lots of land left there at that time, one on the south side of Westheimer adjacent to Dunvale and another across on the north side of Westheimer. Now I know I've seen what was built on the south side, but can't remember what's there. I don't know if I ever saw anything built on the other side. I still vividly remember them being empty lots from the time I was there.

I used to live across the street from that Walmart. I used to hate going there so much I would drive somewhere else to get something I could have walked across the street for. There was a good shaved ice place in the parking lot though if I remember right.

ack: south side is some strip centers and a big walmart. behind that is the theater. north side is a sonic, (k-mart was back there but went out of business, iirc), home depot, bank?, and some strips. try this:

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=29.737376,-95.51382&spn=0.006381,0.007778&t=h&z=17

you can zoom in, do street view (drag and drop the little orange-ish guy onto the street), etc.

kevin: i don't remember if there was a shaved ice place or not. hopefully i won't have to go back there any time soon. :)

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