Sunday, November 27, 2011

[How the Girl Stayed Sane]

I don't know about you, but in my life, it seems as though one thing going wrong ends up having a domino effect. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but I haven't really posted here for awhile; there's a reason for that...

I was too busy trying to remain sane.

When last we left off in significant blogging, I was preparing for Pets and Pumpkins. I'd just finished a portrait I gave away in a drawing, and I had just found out my cousin had extremely aggressive terminal lung cancer. Within days of my finding this out, she passed away. That was at the end of October, and the dominoes just kept on going.

The first Saturday in November, my dad and I drove up to St. Louis for her memorial service and drove back home that same day. By the time we got up there, I had a full-blown migraine. It did not stop until, well, today.

As if that weren't enough, on Tuesday the 8th, the weather was not very ideal for driving--rainy, hazy, and cold.  On my way to work that morning, traffic was insane, and just as I was clearing the hill before turning into the left-turn lane to campus, I had to throw on my brakes. I stopped. The guy behind me did not. He slammed my left rear bumper, sending me ricocheting across the other eastbound lane to the right into the concrete bridge barrier on the other side. After seeing I was conscious and surprisingly clear-headed, the driver proceeded to scold me for changing lanes without using my blinker.

I hadn't changed lanes. I always pull into that left lane from the time I turn onto Chestnut, because I know I'll be making a left turn, and I don't like to change lanes without absolute necessity. Fortunately, a woman about two cars back saw what happened and backed my story. I ended up with whiplash, intensified migraines, and a mild concussion. As of this past week, I'm still getting sleep paralysis, even when I'm not sleeping on my back, which is normally how I'm sleeping when I experience it.

Outside of the pain, the dizziness, and missing two days of work (and two weeks, effectively, of my ability to do any real paperwork or painting), I'm alright. My poor little Chevy Aveo5 (Blueberry Shortcake), however, did not survive. Before even opening the hood, the car repairman estimated repairs to cost at least $10,256.

Needless to say, Blueberry Shortcake was totaled. Poor thing. Only two years old, just over 9,000 miles on it, and it's gone. Rest in peace, little hatchback.

The wheel was completely folded under. See the broken axle?

Miscellaneous structure parts

That little car served me well. There was no damage to the inside of my car, and the shell took the brunt of the force--the airbags had no need to deploy, and OnStar did help me immensely.

So, for the next two-ish weeks, my parents lived in my house and helped me shop for a new car. I put in a lot of hours browsing, comparing prices and models, researching my old car to estimate how much my insurance would give me, until I finally ended up getting the car I wanted to begin with two years ago, and even better, I ended up with a one-year-newer model.

Purty, ain't it? So many cool hidey-holes, and much more suitable for me with a big-ish dog. If I didn't have only three classes in the spring, I'd get some cute accessories (i.e. seat/steering wheel covers, some dog magnets, etc.) to personalize my new family member.

The ordeal will go on for some time yet, however. The other insurance company owes mine plenty of money, plus my $500 deductible with which I plan to install remote start on the new car. That could take awhile, and I have an appointment Thursday with a chiropractor to get my poor ole spine straightened back out. I'm still a mess... heck, I'm still up at 5:00 a.m. from getting off the pain meds and my allergy meds. I was going to go to church this morning, but at this point, sleep takes precedence, especially since there are only two weeks of classes left, and I still need to get caught up on grading. Yeesh.

So, if I've flaked and failed to call you (of whom promised I would call), now you know the story and why I can't remember to do diddly squat right now. Hang tight--I'll be calling you soon.

I did get a couple small things accomplished, though... My art business now has its own unique website:

...and I started a lactose-free diet blog:

Check 'em out and leave comments on both! Feel free to contribute to the latter--I'm new to being lactose intolerant, so a lot of the information is new to me.

I think I may finally manage to doze off now. Hasta luego.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

[Brushstrokes Posts Moved]

Have you heard? I've set up a separate site for my Brushstrokes by Niki business! As such, I've moved the posts over to that site to keep this one as my personal webjournal and writing blog. If you want to keep up with the art, subscribe to the RSS feed at!

See you there!

Don't worry... I'll be posting again soon. It's been a nutty month since finishing my last painting, and I haven't had a chance to do anything but get caught up on grading and sleep to heal from my car wreck. I'm still very headachy and backachy, which has put a temporary dent in my artwork-accomplishing.

Until next time, kiddos!

Friday, November 11, 2011

[Friends and Family Who Like to "Help": Why I Gripe]

Oh, wonderful, well-meaning family and friends, I want to communicate something to you that may shock or confuse you, but I have a feeling others you know feel the same way, so you might end up saving some relationships in your life.

Sometimes I like complain. I'm not asking for advice (most of the time, I really don't want any, and I'm in the wrong mood to tolerate advice). But why, you ask, do you complain for people to hear if you don't want someone to help you fix the problem? Ah, so you're the problem-solving type. You are appreciated, believe me, but your skills are not always needed.  Here are a few simple equations that might help you know when to drop your well-meaning suggestions in my Facebook comments, etc.:

Complaining = Venting = Therapeutic ranting = Getting some random thoughts off my chest = Updating the world on what kind of mood I'm in that day and why it's not a good day to do those things that peeve me

Complaining =/= "Tell me what I should do to fix this," implied
Complaining =/= "I hate life and am a complete pessimist!"
Complaining =/= "Nothing good ever happens!"

"___________" =/= How I feel at all times 

"What do you suggest?" = Invitation for your good advice
"Have you ever...?" = Invitation for you to share your similar experience that I might learn from your lessons learned
"Any tips?" = Invitation for tested advice
"Tell me what I should do to fix this" = Tell me what I should do to fix this
Whining about some bad luck = My bad luck is more interesting of an update today that the nice but mundane good things that happened
"Men are jerks!" = I've been insulted or hurt by some guy and I'm in a bad mood, but I don't really hate men, and I don't want to hear how the right guy will come along when I'm not looking for him or some other cliche.

Thank you for listening. I know you mean well, and I appreciate the thought, but if I'm not asking for advice, I'm not looking for it, and chances are I'm not in the mood to hear it anyway. I'm more likely to take it when I'm asking for it explicitly.

And I bet I'm not the only one. ;)

[Stay Tuned]

I was in a car wreck Tuesday morning. No, I was not seriously injured, though I do have some physical issues to contend with. I'm holding off on writing the story here until it's all settled and I'm back in a car of my own. Once that happens, you'll get to read it all.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

[Buy a Painting and Do Some Good]

ANNOUNCING: For all paintings $150 and higher ordered and paid for by May 31 (the day before Relay for Life), Brushstrokes by Niki will donate $10 to the American Cancer Society through my Relay for Life fundraising account. Let's work together to increase the survival rate of anyone diagnosed with any cancer to 100%. No more untimely farewells for cancer.

*Disclaimer: I generally try to complete all paintings within one month, but please understand that a large number of requests (which I welcome) may push the waiting period back somewhat. Please do not let this deter you from taking advantage of this opportunity.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

[Kick Cancer's Ass]

It's been awhile since I've written, I know. I've been focusing on teaching and painting, mostly, but I've also been processing some painful news. Saturday, I lost another loved one to cancer, my cousin Patty. The list keeps on growing, and so does my hatred of cancer and carcinogens (cigarettes, etc.).

So, this June, I'm going to stop saying, "I'm gonna do that one of these years," and I'm joining Relay for Life. It feels a little feeble on my end, but I'm no scientist, so I can't find the cures myself. I can't do much right now to make preventative screenings and treatment available to everyone, regardless of life circumstance, when I can't even afford screenings myself (though if my application for the federal pre-existing condition insurance option goes through, which it should, I'll finally have coverage again and be able to get the screenings for which I'm years overdue). But I can help raise awareness, and I can help raise support. Every little bit may make a difference.

This is for the survivors (you know who you are!) and for the ones whose battle is over, whether it was the cancer itself or the effects the cancer left that finally had the upper hand:

In memory:
My mom, Michelle Cox Miniea (spinal cord cancer), age 26
My cousin, Patty Jacobs Frazer (lung cancer)
My aunt and Patty's mother, Carolyn Cox Jacobs (lung cancer)
My cousin, Stephanie Miller (brain tumor) age 10
My aunt, Ann Miller Allen
My grandmother, Octavo Whitley Miller (colon cancer)
Our good friend Dave Davis
Our good friend Bob Waggoner

The list in reality is much longer than this, and would be exponentially larger still were I to include those currently battling cancer and those who've beaten it, but one can only deal with so many memories in one day.

Will you help me kick cancer's flea-bitten, murderous ass?