Thursday, January 31, 2013

...

Okay, so you know how you get this awesome idea for a blog post and you spend days thinking of all the witty things and oh-so-hiLARious gifs you'll use and then when you actually start to write it you're like, "Oh, well, this is actually kinda dumb?" or "This direction is not where I was headed."

So what do you do then? I mean, I spent hours upon hours researching the etymology of various swear words* (what? I love swear words, much to my mother's everlasting chagrin**), and all I could say for it was this really boring post about the word "motherfucker." And that saddens me a bit, because it's such a grand word.

It packs a glorious punch. 
As I wrote it, I was actually proud of my work, too. It was kind of like I was in college again and scrambling to finish a paper at the last minute, complete with footnotes and links and references. I broke out my woefully underused copy of the OED (yes, I'm a nerd) and perused through more words than I have since I was six and decided I'd like to read the dictionary. I even got to tell a funny story!
When I was working at one of the smaller county DHS offices, there was a drunk woman who threw a rock through the front desk window and was arrested a few minutes later. I was giving my account to the police officer and the lady called me a "cuntwitch," or possibly "cuntwich," depending on whether she meant I was some type of sorceress with my vagina or a collection of vaginas between two slices of bread. Either way, it amused me, and the word plus the story became favorites.
And it was a loooooong post, too, partly because of all the definitions of words like "profane." And I actually did a bibliography, although hahahaha, I had to look on the internet to figure out formatting because, are you kidding, it's been six years since my last attempt at this. I'm telling you, it was my final dissertation in a PhD in Cursing.

Then I read it. And my face looked like this:
Damn, now I want pie. 
So I scrapped it and you have this post. And I promise that I'll write something better soon. I just wanted to tell my "cuntwich/witch" story with some context.

OH, AND BE PREPARED: I'm going to be premiering my web comic here in a bit. BE. EXCITED.

* According to linguists, fuck as a swear word in regards to sexual intercourse has been in our vocabulary since (or possibly slightly earlier) the 1500s. But in the 1960s, somebody got this grand idea to try and convince people it was an acronym for either "fornication under consent of the king" or "for unlawful carnal knowledge." Snopes.com pretty much sums it up here, along with informing me that my definition of fornication has been wrong this whole time.
** We have a discussion that goes somewhat like this almost once a month:
 Mom: Hi, I read your blog.
 Me: Oh? What did you think?
 Mom: You curse too much.
 Me: No, I fucking don't.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Trigger warnings should be mandatory.

In an attempt to broaden my literary horizons, and partially due to incessant friends, I've decided to start reading some YA (young adult, for you old fogeys out there) novels, even though I am nearly thirty and have generally regarded them with a sort of snobbery that I consider at least partly warranted. I cut my teeth on Graceling, which I actually enjoyed, and found myself intrigued with the concepts in The Hunger Games*.

Then I picked up Deerskin.

Now, I'm told that the best way to critique a novel is to start with what you liked and balance criticisms with praise. So, I have definite opinions about all the characters, whose personalities are shown and not told. But I hate them all. Every single last one of them. The queen, "the most beautiful woman in all seven kingdoms**," is an unrepentant narcissist, who apparently has not been told that she is ever by any person because she is just too pretty? Apparently, her dying wish (And she's dying because an illness made her not as beautiful and you know what, whatever. I'm done with you, nameless queen.) was that her husband, the king, who had so valiantly won her hand in marriage, not ever marry again unless it is to a woman that is more beautiful than she was. Her reason? So the king wouldn't resent her for being Ugly Uglyton. 
Bu-uh-wha-huh?
Oh, and prior to this deathwish, she had a (from what I can tell) giant portrait painted of her to capture the beauty she once had. Because why not.

Anyway, the king is this shell of a man by the time we actually meet him, basically like King Theoden from The Two Towers when he's controlled by Saruman. He was supposedly so incredible and awesome and manly prior to this, but I can't really seem to care. He just floats around while his advisers basically run his country (and how they don't try to just overthrow him is kind of another issue I have, but whatever), sometimes present physically but never emotionally. They even have to tell him to eat, for God's sake. And then he just goes crazy, which I'll get to in a second, but he's pretty much as insufferable as humanly possible, and I kind of wish that he had died with the queen, although the rest of the book could not have been written had this happened. I mean, I get it. He's grieving over the love of his life. And this is a fairy tale, so it kind of has to be this grandiose tale with huge emotions and sweeping allegorical imagery, but ugh. It's been years, bro. 

Then there's the rest of the kingdom, basically summed up by Hurra, the princess' nursemaid. When the queen dies, Hurra basically collapses with grief and all but admits, via third person narrator, that she wouldn't have even cared about the princess if it hadn't been her duty to do so. Everyone else in the kingdom just kind of ... didn't know she existed. Because the king and queen were so fucking radiant (but mostly the queen). It's almost like, "Wait, they had a kid? I thought they were just posing for pictures with some poor sap's child for a photo op." I actually yelled at them while reading the book and had to put it down for about a day before continuing. 

And I kind of lied. I do like Lissar, whose name isn't revealed until, oh, page twenty-eight when she's receiving a gift from an errand boy of Prince Ossin: a puppy named Ash. This herald, because princes don't deliver presents in person, is the only indication that anyone else anywhere is thinking about the princess' feelings at the death of her mother. And what I sort of love about Lissar is that she doesn't really care about her mom. Or that she died. She feels guilty that she has no emotional attachment to the event, but it pretty much comes down to, "Whatevs. On with my life." She's also devoid of any knowledge of traditional procedure, so she kind of does her own thing, raising her dog (the HORROR) instead of letting a servant do it and cultivating a long forgotten garden. She even befriends this old woman whose kind of a crotchety bitch just so she can learn about plants and gardening, in general. 

Oh, and Viaka isn't too bad, either. She's what Lissar considers her only real friend and is a lady-in-waiting. She's plucky and smarter than she looks, but she's not really a major part of the story and is described from the perspective of the princess. 

So yeah, two characters out of the whole bunch, and only one that's really fleshed out. This is starting to look like my aborted attempt at watching "Breaking Bad."

Moving onto my next entry into the Good Job category, Robin McKinley writes beautifully. There's an ease and poetic quality of it that explains things without actually explaining them. 
"About one thing the princess was stubborn. Ash lay under or beside her chair, no matter how lofty and formal the event. Ash developed her own legend, and people began to speak of the grace of the pair of them, the princess entering hall or chamber not on anyone's arm, but with her hand resting gently on the head or back of her tall dog; both move elegantly, and were inclined to silence. The people, who liked a little mystery, began to sigh over the half-orphaned princess, and how it was the loss of her mother that made her so grave."
I can clearly see everything that she describes or infers, from the setup of the scene to the mind-body connection that Ash and Princess Lissar have. More often than not, she paints a picture of loveliness. Except when it's not lovely. Because oh, my God. 

Here's where I'm going to stop and put the obligatory spoiler alert, but I'm also including this: 
Thanks, Natalie Dee!
This should be on the cover of this book. Or, well, something. Because, again, OH, MY GOD.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ode to Tomato Soup

A few days ago, I had this (what I thought was) a wonderful idea: I was going to write a poem to the awesome bowl of tomato soup that I had, because it was amazing. Then I realized that I am no poet. I actually suck at poetry. It's like my ability to write anything other than prose stopped progressing when I was 12. It makes me kind of jealous of people who can just spout it off like they're fluent in it.
Not you, Chris Brown. Shut up. 
Back in high school, I tried to get involved with our school's literary magazine called "The Scroll," but all that ever was published was a drawing I did. It wasn't even that good. I mean, it was my crowning achievement then, since I'd actually completed it instead of letting it sit in my sketchbook as a half-done line drawing. When I finished it, I thought, "Well, surely, I am now an artiste and can probably do something else for the magazine!" I went and grabbed a notebook and started jotting down some poetry, even though I probably would have been more successful writing a short story or something. But that would be playing on my strengths and hahaha, oh, I was such an annoying teenager.

Anyway, I wrote this poem that was basically, "Nobody can understand anyone unless they try and most people don't so you're all assholes."
Hell, I hate your emo poems.  From Shirtoid.
It didn't have any profanity in it, since I attended a Christian school (they tend to frown on things like cursing and having knowledge of the life "outside"), but I tried to be as absolutely scathing as I could be without sprinkling it with "fuck" and "shit" and "dickface." When it was done, I nodded my head in satisfaction and slipped it into the submission box. I heard nothing else about it, and really, I forgot about it until the magazine came out and I was searching furiously through the table of contents for my name. Nothing. My drawing was, but I didn't get credit for that until you got to the page it was on. With righteous teenage angst, I nearly threw the magazine away and I secretly harbored a loathing for the editor, who was a friend of mine (and also an editor on the yearbook staff with me), although that supposed grudge lasted about a day. My hatred of poetry, however, has continued to this day.

Well, I take that back. I like Ezra Pound, Walt WhitmanRyƍkan, and T.S. Eliot. And those are just the ones off the top of my head. They have an artistry that I can't ever hope to match, but at the same time, I'm kind of thankful that the ability to write poetry is not a requirement to be a writer of any kind. Every now and then, I get this lofty idea that I will one day write a beautiful poem that will tug at the heartstrings, but then I'm reminded of my attempts and failures in the world of poetry. If I practiced, maybe? But then, there are also people who just cannot sing, have difficulty understanding math, etc. I guess I'm okay with the fact that I write only prose and dabble somewhat well in the visual arts. Some people don't even have that.
Yes, this is an anti-Chris Brown blog. 
I leave you with my horrendous tomato ode that I made while on ZzQuil:

Oh, tomato soup, with your salty flavor,
You require no cooking skill, for you come from a can.
You will forever stay in my stomach's favor
Since I can heat you up when dinner has no plan.
No one needs add anything to your taste,
Although basil, garlic, or as yet more salt can please
Even the snobbiest of chefs with aprons on their waists.
I choose no more pepper so I do not sneeze.

(And this is where I was like, "Seriously, it's three in the morning and this is horrible. I'm going to bed." Feel free to edit and finish as you wish!)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Isn't sleep what dead people do?

Even as I really get full-swing into the crazy that is self-publishing, my brain is coming up with other ways to make sure that I don't sleep. Ever.

A few months ago, I was having a conversation (on Facebook, nonetheless) with a friend of mine about comic book heroes. Can you just be a superhero because? Like, nothing really bad has happened to you and you haven't been bitten by a radioactive cockroach or anything. Maybe you're just really enthusiastic about fighting bad guys. I don't know. What would happen if, like Arthur from "The Tick," I decide one day to leave my accountant shoes behind and trade them in for a spandex suit and mask?
The picture of crimefighting practicality.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love me some heroes that have a rocky past. Reading Batman comics is a delight, and his interactions with the Joker are some of the most iconic stories DC has told. Also, Spike from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is one of my favorite characters of all time, and every moment he is on screen (well, minus THAT moment) gives me one more reason to feel that way. Not just because James Marsters is one of the most beautiful men on the planet, but because he maintains a bad boy attitude throughout his whole story arch, irreverent even up until his sacrificial death* at the end of the series.
Did you know this guy is over 40? Because he is. Screw you, aging.
But does everyone have to be an orphan who has been bitten by a radioactive cockroach? Do they all have to be some type of anti-hero that gets grittier with each reboot? I know you want to tell a good story that keeps people engaged from issue to issue, but seriously? Every now and then, I'd like to see the someone who's like, "You know what? I wanna fight crime. Because it's the right thing to do. And hell, my Friday nights are usually a bust, anyway." Kind of like Superman, except for those times when he's an insufferable prick**.
"I ignore inexplicable things like instant aging. I'm a catch!"
"Our clothes match, dudes. It's destiny, obvs."
Superman apparently has Catholic roots.  And has totes
watched Eddie Izzard.
Nothing says "I'm grateful" like destructive
laser eyes. 
If you'll forgive my Carrie Bradshawness here, it got me wondering: could I make something like this? My current series-in-progress' protagonist has one of the typical superhero backgrounds - her family is dead and technically so is she - so that was a no-go. I put my creative hat on and started thinking of a big metropolis my character could live in, when it hit me. I'd just model it on my current city - which could bring some interesting stories itself, since it's a still a town to me - because designing one from scratch might just send me over the edge into the loony bin, and everything just started to come together.

So, in case you were wondering, I'm giving up sleep. Forever. Because there is no other way that I'm going to actually get done what I need to get done. And also because I'm way more insane than I ever thought I was.

* Yeah, I know, he comes back in "Angel," but that whole thing kind of irritated me. Let Spike have his moment, GOD.
** Thanks to Superdickery for the images.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I am excited.

Okay, kind of to distract me from the shittiness of landlords, towed cars, and the possibility that I'm getting sick, I'm proudly announcing the new website I created through Wordpress for my short story/novella series, "The Legion." It's called A Million More to Go, and it's still in the beginning stages. I'm going to be updating the template/layout/etc. over time, but I wanted to get it started. As of right now, I have two character bios, a short history of how "The Legion" came to be, and some of the material that you can be expecting to see.

This whole project is such a labor of love for me, since I'm producing the whole thing, artwork, writing, everything. I just recently completely finished the first story in the series and it's going to be ready for Kindle/Nook by early next week. I've been on this sort of euphoric high for a while now, even with a fever and nausea (and yeah, I should stop kidding myself - I'm sick, guys). I have this feeling of, "Yes, I can DO this."

I've kind of been on an emotional roller coaster over the past few months, trying to decide if dedicating my entire life to my writing career is something I should really do. Little voices are all, "BE RESPONSIBLE" and "LOOK AT YOUR BANK ACCOUNT BALANCE," and of course, the ever present "PEOPLE WILL NOT LIKE YOUR WORK." I know that I can't just walk out, show some shit on the internet, and expect that I will be InstaSuccess (TM). The world just doesn't work that way. But slight setbacks and writer's block have sent me into the sad closet of despair. Luckily for me, I have one of the most supportive partners a person could ask for, so Three, for that? You get to have TWO orgasms tonight. Well, later. When I'm not sick and sneezing on you.

Anyway, go check out the website if you wish and let me know what you guys think! Right now, I'm going back to my bed with my hot water bottle, glass of juice, and "Deerskin" by Robin McKinley.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

So my landlord is STILL an asshole.

An asshole who won't come out of her office. Because that's how people in power deal with complaints now. One of the new office workers told us, at 10:45A, that the property manager was on a conference call and probably would be on that same conference call all afternoon.

I was like, "Okay, so it's not even noon yet. She's going to be on the same phone call for six hours straight?"

Blank stare.

Three and I have now come up with a new plan. We're going to call up the towing company so we can go get our stuff out of Chiquita* and see how much they would give us for the car. If it isn't at least somewhat close to what we could get for the car on Craigslist, we're going to pay the towing fee and then not pay that part of our rent. But if it is close to that amount, then we're just going to sell them Chiquita, minus the towing fee, of course. And then we're still not going to pay the full rent on principle.

And before I go onto another rant, I'm going to go get some packing done, because I'm pretty much done with this place.

* Nearly all of our camping gear is in there, and that shit's expensive, yo.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So my landlord is a total asshole.

Remember how I hate my apartment complex? In case you have forgotten this fact, here it is again: I hate my apartment complex.

First, the buildings are ridiculously old and not at all updated with, you know, consistently working plumbing or any kind of insulation. Second, it's almost like they were just in a hurry to erect these buildings. None of the doors hang correctly, and all of the cabinets have this weird two-toned thing going on. Third, hahahaha maintenance? What's that? Some of the "fixes" in the two apartments we've had here are a little on the ... well, let's just say that I've found a distorted paper clip as a replacement chain inside our toilet. Fourth, the lack of storage here is depressing; we don't have enough space to store both our plates/glasses/eating utensils/etc. and our food. We don't have a lot of the former, either. This list really could go on forever.

As of right now, we pay $715 a month* for a one-bedroom apartment**. It's kind of a 1.5 bedroom apartment, actually, since there's this little extra room attached to the living area that has no vents for circulation in it. Oh, and no lights. So it's basically a giant closet with no places to hang things.
Yay for useless rooms!
I don't know where you live, but $715 for a shitty one-bedroom apartment here is on the crazy side of ridiculous. I could understand if these were luxury apartments, but alas, they are not. The cheap cabinetry and countertops alone should bring it down by at least $100. From what I've gathered, the Ace Management Team has decided that, since the complex is situated directly in the middle of Bellevue (low- to middle-income) and Belle Meade (old money), they'd rather forget that Bellevue exists and assume the identity of the wealthy part of town.
Bitch, please. You are less than a mile from the Iroquois***. Get your head out of your ass and prices these places reasonably. 
We got our renewal notice on our door last week and I laughed aloud at the notion. Three and I had already decided that we were going to find a different, less expensive place outside of Nashville, preferably a house. But then I read the terms of the new lease.

They were increasing our rent by $40. And that's without the pet rent.
AAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Waitwaitwaitwaitwait, what?? You mean you expect us to pay nearly as much for our old two-bedroom apartment? You have got to be kidding me.

They were not.

Now, I know you're wondering, "When is she going to get to the part about her landlord being an asshole?" It's a convoluted story with many parts to it, but ultimately it culminated yesterday and has sent both Three and I into a frothy rage. One part is that over the past few months, I've seen a large number of people leaving the premises, all of whom happened to be of the lower-income and/or non-white crowd. I've been able to talk to a few of them before they departed, and one particularly sweet Indian woman said that she couldn't really afford the new rent and that the front office was making her feel unwanted. The latter is the general feel from a lot of our neighbors, many of whom are of Indian and Middle Eastern descent.

Another aspect is that they got rid of two people on their staff that were basically the face of the complex. We'll call them Dwayne and Debbie. Dwayne was the simple maintenance dude, who, while not the brightest bulb ever, was one of the kindest souls I've ever met. When we moved from our two-bedroom to the one-bedroom, he helped us move and was thrilled and thankful for all the shit we donated**** to his church's welfare program. I didn't know that Dwayne had been fired until I met the new jackass of a maintenance guy, whose only response was, "That retard got axed." True story. Debbie was the first front desk person Three and I met, and she was the one who was so incredibly thoughtful and helpful when we were having trouble paying our rent on time. Well, her bosses found out that she'd been working with people on rent payments and such and being generally awesome, so they forced her to retire. Now, they're fully staffed with dickheads.

Lastly, they've apparently started policing car appearances and stickering the less-than-pretty cars with "YOU ARE PARKED HERE ILLEGALLY" things, threatening to tow you. One girl's car got towed and was told that it "didn't fit the complex's decorum." As many of you know, we still have Chiquita, the poor, worn down crap-car that has a tire that constantly deflates (it's the rim or something, not the actual tire - trust, we've gotten it checked a million times). It's my emergency car; well, if that emergency can wait long enough for me to get out the pump and refill the tire from 0 to 35 psi. Three has the Lincoln to drive to and from work, and I don't usually take Chiquita on drives because I don't really want to. On days when it's rainy/cold or I'm just being lazy and don't want to walk two miles to go to Kroger, I whip out the pump, air the tire, and go on my merry way.

Anyway, I get a call from Three, asking if I can go double-check the parking lot***** because he wasn't sure if he remembered seeing Chiquita. It's cold and I had resolved to be pantsless all day, but he doesn't ever really ask me to do anything, so I'm all, "Okay, I'll call you back."

Sure enough, Chiquita was not there. But do you know what was? Two other cars that had been sitting in the same spot for way longer than Chiquita had. Chiquita has up to date tags and is driveable. There was no fucking excuse for them to tow her.
I don't use this gif enough. 
Three was livid. And I mean, livid. I haven't heard him this mad in a while. His voice gets very deep and very terse and every syllable is ve.ry.dis.tinct. It's that final straw that just made both of us ready to go grab a Uhaul and live out of a storage unit for a few months while we look for a new place to live. Our car is big enough to sleep in, and I'm pretty sure that my parents would have no problem watching Zola. Having a litter box in the car might be a little much, though. Febreeze?

However, the rub is that we didn't discover this until after the office had closed, so there wasn't anything we could do until today. But, as luck would have it, the asshole who had our car towed wasn't there. So we're going back tomorrow.

Updates will follow because seriously? If they don't fucking bring my car back and offer their firstborn as an offering, my wrath will not be contained.

* This includes water and pet rent. They charge us $35 a month for water, which ... what? Seriously? There's no way we use that much each month. We don't even have a fucking washer! And pet rent is fucking stupid. There. I said it.
** It was a downgrade during our bankruptcy because hahaha who knew that we could not afford a nearly $800 rent on one income?? We could have moved to another place, sure, but that was a pretty huge expenditure (deposits, transfer fees, etc.). We figured that we could just go to a smaller unit for the remainder of our lease, but it turned out that they lied to us and forced us to sign a lease for a full year. At the time, it didn't really bother me since we kinda liked living there at the time, even with the little idiosyncratic issues that were constantly popping up. Now, it's just one more addition to the "Why I Hate My Apartment Complex" list.
*** The Iroquois is where people who have been rejected for other apartments in the Bellevue area can go get an apartment. They're cheaply priced and are terrifying. Like, seriously, I feel safer walking in the projects than I do driving past the Iroquois. It's known for drug-related violence and plenty of police raids.
**** We were lazy basically. There were things we just didn't feel like moving/selling/etc. But somebody got a TV, a set of dishes, and a nice couch, so there's that.
***** We moved the car to the overflow parking area to avoid getting towed, which is what they fucking told us to do in the first place.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Scars

Last time I checked, I am not the person with the most scars in the world. Actually, I've never checked, so there's that. But I do have several that have stories behind them, some ranging from inane to insane. I'm going to skip the inane (for example, the quarter moon sliver on the bottom of my chin which I got from falling off of a bicycle), so you're welcome.

Onto the maulings.

I suppose my most interesting scars are from my third degree burns from 2007, which was not exactly my favorite year ever (although it does rank higher than 2006 and 2008). For those of you not familiar with the story, which you can read about here, I was burned pretty badly on my motorcycle and had to go through two surgeries and nearly half a year of physical therapy. While it wasn't the greatest decision to purchase a motorcycle or to ride in twenty-nine degree weather at night, the burns were caused by a defect in the structure of the bike and were a direct result of my leg actually catching on fire. Which, you know, fun for all. The blisters that formed over the burns looked like brown leeches, and when the nurse at the trauma unit burst them, it was like someone had popped a warm water balloon over my leg. I fully expected to be screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs, but instead, I remember just kind of staring at the spectacle. Then, again, I was a) on some type of narcotic* and b) third degree burns kill your nerve endings so you don't feel anything, anyway.

As I said in the above linked to post, I had two surgeries, one of which was installing (ha, installing) an implant that essentially tricked my body into thinking that the dermis wasn't actually destroyed. The second was the actual skin grafting and God, was it that much more horrible than the first. I had two areas on my body that were trying to heal simultaneously (the burned area on my right calf and the donor site** on my right thigh) so I had a high fever for about three days. And like above, I was on narcotics the whole time. My schedule was this: take oxycontin in the morning; four hours later, take a hydrocodone; four hours later, take another hydrocodone; at bedtime, take a morphine; four hours later, take a hydrocodone; four hours later, take another hydrocodone. Rinse, repeat. And yes, since you asked, I did shit real bricks, since the narcotics slow your bowel function down, which removes pretty much all moisture from your stool. And you thought this would get gross.

Anyway, I now have two scars on my right calf from the burn and a nifty kinda-heart shape scar (that barely visible) where they removed skin for the grafts. I was told that I could always get tattoos over them, but I don't know. It almost seems kind of wrong to do that, like I'm trying to hide a part of my past that, to be quite honest, I'm not that embarrassed of, even if it doesn't showcase any stellar decision making capabilities on my part. They're sort of tattoos on their own, really. Plus, badass storytelling time opportunities always arise whenever someone notices them.

My favorite scar is the one on my stomach. It is about six inches long on the right side of my abdomen and has these two knot-like spots on it, and it's actually shrunk since the initial injury over twenty years ago. When we still lived in Biloxi, our house was at the end of the street and there was this giant wooden electricity pole right at the base of the driveway. One day, my six-year-old self decided that, because my three-year-old sister dared me, I was going to climb the damned thing. I put on my game face and marched over to it, beginning my own Mt. Everest ascent. I looked down at the ground, which seemed to my single-digit brain to be forever away. It might have been miles for all I knew***.

The next part actually still illicits shame from my mother. She saw me from the kitchen, attempting to scramble up this fucking pole, and came running out, frantically screaming at me to get the hell down. Fearing reprimand, I let go of the little metal bars on the side and then I remember falling in slow motion. I didn't feel anything and I didn't cry. I was just kind of stunned. My mom came running over and seemed to be freaking out for some reason, but I wasn't about to protest when she picked me up to carry me back inside.

I then noticed that, oh my fucking God, I'm bleeding. A lot. I don't really think little kids understand this sort of thing because I was flabbergasted as to why my mother was panicking. I wasn't dying or anything but I was starting to get worried that something might be very wrong with me. Then my mother explained that the footholds on the pole had ripped into my skin as I fell to the ground. She patched me up with gauze and surgical tape (thanks, medical professional parents!) and I remember specifically being very afraid to look at what was underneath the makeshift bandages. I wouldn't look when my mother bathed me or changed the dressings. I was just absolutely certain that I was deformed. When I finally mustered the courage to look, I was surprised: the scabs were X-shaped and in a perfect line. I was fascinated.

But for the next fifteen years, I kept the scar hidden. That six-year-old child's fear that I wasn't a perfect specimen of humanity was always in the back of my mind, particularly when I reached my teens. I never wore two piece bathing suits, and the belly shirts that popped up in my early adolescence were the bane of my existence. It wasn't until college that finally I was like, "You know what? Fuck it. The scar looks badass and is hot and I want to wear a bikini." It was also kind of a step in my dealing with anorexia, too: knowing that, while I may not meet the standards of "beauty," I was a beautiful person. And it didn't hurt that the people I was attracted to also found the scar sexy. So win/win.

One scar that people don't really see - partially because I've had to use topical steroids on my feet due to psoriasis and the skin down there is really thin now and partially because it's on my foot and who looks down there? - is the one on my right heel, where my mother ran over me with her car. I'll wait while you read the insanity that is that story because it's hilarious. I actually laugh when I read it. Good job, me. And, no, she didn't do it on purpose. Probably. For nearly ten years, I swore to my mother that I could see the tread marks of the tires on the right side of my foot, even though I totally couldn't as I was being an ass to her just because. But the round spot on the left side of my foot is almost pillow-like. I cannot tell you how many times I've just sat at poked at it when I was bored in school or in a unit meeting at work or watching a terrible movie. The weirdest thing about this particular scar, though, is that it still hurts.

Yes, my burn scars hurt whenever I change my physical activity level and, according to my physician, will always behave in this way. But my foot? It's like a forever-bruise. It's not painful enough to warrant any kind of medication (that's where my constant headaches from TMJ pick up the slack), but it does mean that I can't wear certain shoes. I've asked my doctor about it several times, and the only thing he can tell me is, "Sorry?" It's not like it's inoperable cancer; just a bit of pain in my heel. But that's not what bothers me. It's that it still feels like the running-over-of-my-foot was only a few weeks ago.

Actually, going over the major scars on my body, I've come to this conclusion: karma has made the right side of my body its bitch. I mean, really? All of them are on the right side! I'm not sure what this says about me. Does the right side of the body have any particular meaning in religion/philosophy/whatever?

You know what? If it does, don't tell me. I may never leave the house again.

* That actually sums up four months of my life in 2007.
** Despite the ick factor, this part was kind of cool. You know those bread knives where you can adjust the width of the slice you're wanting to cut? Well, the tool they used to slice my skin off was kind of like that, only on a micro-level. The result was similar to a bad sunburn.
*** My mom says I was only up about four feet onto the pole, but that's pretty high for a kid. Not as high as I remember it, but everything's so much bigger when you're a wee one.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's all just a little too real.

Since giving up the luxury of cable TV, I have had the distinct disadvantage* of not knowing anything about popular shows. I've been subsisting off of Netflix, Project Free TV, and the occasional jaunt to the big city (aka my parents' house, where cable runs freely all day like the unbridled hussy it is). Recently, Three saw "Breaking Bad" on the instant queue and was intrigued.

Well, to be honest, he was like, "Wait, is that the dad from 'Malcolm in the Middle?'" and was further interested when I explained it was about a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who decides to start producing meth with a former student. My encouragement - of what essentially amounted to, "Well, lots of people on the internet think it's awesome" - started him on a marathon** of a guy's path to drug kingpinage.

After about the end of the first season, I was nearing my end of tolerance for the sheer amount of depravity in the show. I couldn't stand any of the characters, from Walt, the main guy we're supposed to feel bad for, and down to the dumbasses that deal out this meth perfection. Jesse, the village idiot and Walt's partner-ish-in-crime, shows some moments that make him endearing***, but then he goes back to being himself and I'm back into apathy central.
JESSE. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES.
One day, after a particularly difficult series of episodes (and once the husband had gone to work), I was desperately ready for a palate cleanser. I went through my collection of regulars: "Friends," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and "Cheers;" but nothing seemed to click. Then I saw season one of "Miami Vice."

Now, I know what you're thinking. I'm just watching the flip side of the same coin, right? But see, this is the difference between 80s TV and its current incarnation. What was considered gritty back then is nearly cringe-worthy in its attempt now, but I found myself oddly elated at the simplicity and downright stupidity of some of the plots. Like, somehow, even though he'd lied about who he was and forged paperwork to get transferred from NYPD to Miami as a "liaison" or something, Tubbs was able to get a fucking job as a police officer and furthermore assigned to vice because of a drug bust that actually ended up in the release of the drug lord who fled the country after making bond? I mean, it makes absolutely no logical sense, but whatever. Just face it: you didn't watch the show for a factual representation of police work and great acting. You watched it for the boobs, butts, and explosions. Oh, and Sonny's five o'clock shadow and wicker shoes.
Fashion!
And I think that's kind of why watching too much of "Breaking Bad" gets me in a weird headspace. It's not that I don't enjoy a good, tragic downfall story. But there wasn't that much for Walt to downfall to. His wife is a complete bitch; his brother- and sister-in-law are laborious and stupid; his job as a teacher leaves him unable to pay the bills so he takes a second job (which he subsequently quits in an epic showing of castrated-male rage) at a car wash; he gets diagnosed with lung cancer. I mean, really? You are witnessing the gradual de-evolution of a somewhat average, if not discontent (and dying), middle-aged man into something of an emotionless machine that would have killed that first drug dealer he dealt with in the first season without a second thought to his humanity. And yes, "Miami Vice" did have its share of drug dealers and criminals, but there was a campiness to them that brought you back to this idea that, yes, indeed you were watching fiction. I mean, take Noogie and Izzy from "Miami Vice." There is no way in hell that either of those two would have been much, if any, help to Crockett and Tubbs, but they were fun characters. There aren't any of those in "Breaking Bad." None. I've looked. It's kind of like when Three stopped watching "Battlestar Galactica" for a while because, in his words, things just kept getting worse and, right when you thought there was some light, it just went darker. And based on what I've read about further into "Breaking Bad," it definitely does not get any better.

It's all just a little too real. To paraphrase a horrible movie, Walt is going down a path I just cannot follow. I cannot watch the rest of the already-released series; I will not watch the series to-be-aired final episodes. In "Miami Vice," Sonny is involved in an explosion and, because of the resulting concussion or something, thinks that he is his criminal undercover identity. He does some nasty things; Julia Roberts guest stars. But there's the light at the end of the tunnel, you know? You understand that he's going to return to duty as a police officer and that there will probably be consequences****, but ultimately, we'll be back to Sonny fighting to save the souls of Miami's underworld.
I'm not sure which one is Tubbs and which one is Sonny.
For Christmas, my parents got me the BluRay edition of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and I was watching the appendices with their behind-the-scenes fun. One of the writers, Phillipa Boyens, was discussing some of the lines spoken by Sam in "The Two Towers," when he's trying to convince Frodo to go on.
"By rights, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much had happened? But, in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out all the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you ... Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something ... That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for."
I don't have some naive view that all stories end happily. Hell, most of the time in real life, they end in a mediocre way, if at all. And I don't need a happy ending to consider a story satisfyingly concluded. I would have been stoked if the writers of "Battlestar Galactica" had ended the series with them finding out that Earth was destroyed and now they must just start again, instead of the ending we got. Dismal with a dash of hope. But I need to be in the right mood for that sort of thing. Most of the time, I want a story that ends on a happy note to let us know that the journey, the pain, the self-doubt, etc. was all worth the trouble. Otherwise you end up like me after the episode where [spoiler alert for the season that's already several years old now] Walt just watches Jesse's heroin addict girlfriend asphyxiate on her own vomit:
Actual quote.
So now I'm looking for another TV show for Three and me to watch that doesn't make me want to stab everyone, including myself. I'm not sure how successful I'll be, although I'm leaning heavily toward "Fringe" or "New Girl." At this point, my main criteria is that I like at least one of the characters, but that would actually include Revolution (Billy Burke!), which has turned out to be a giant disappointment of a show.

Le sigh.

* Or some may say advantage. It depends on the day, really, as to how I feel about this. Any reality show makes me facepalm and wish for the days where our entertainment came from a local modestly-dressed girl singing a tune at a stodgy party among neighbors. Then there are times when I really, really want to see a new series that had a really intriguing teaser trailer.
** The last show he did this on was "Revenge," which had him enraptured until about the middle part of the first season. And then he went all side-eye and said, "Fuck this, I'm not watching a prime time soap opera. I'm going to be watching a TedTalks."
*** My favorite scene is when they are out in a desert with a non-functioning vehicle and no water, both due to Jesse being a complete moron, and Walt is going over possible scenarios. Jesse is all, "You're smart! Build a battery! BUILD A ROBOT!" And when Walt has a little light bulb pop up over his head, Jesse says, "You're going to make a robot?" I had to pause the show to laugh because the actor just plays that scene beautifully.
**** Not real consequences. Or at least, not consequences that last more than, like, two episodes.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Me vs. Apartment Therapy

Thanks to a good friend being all brazen with her flashy ideas for throw pillows, I am on a redecorating spiral. As it stands, my decor philosophy has been this: "Is this out of my way?" We have a few pieces of artwork on the walls (the Chat Noir vintage collection poster, some Coca Cola thingies, and a painting done by yours truly), but it's kind of depressing otherwise.
See: almost all of the walls in our apartment
This does not mean that I have bought anything* (or done anything, period) yet, because by the end of March, Three and I will be moving, either just outside of Nashville or completely out of the state**. And I really don't see the point of decorating anything, save for keeping the house clean, until the move. So I've entered into inspiration mode, which, for the most part, is really fun. I've suddenly discovered that Pinterest does have a use, and I keep browsing Etsy for fun little kitschy figurines and wall hangings. All in all, I am starting to get a pretty good idea about how I want our new place to look.

But then I come to Apartment Therapy.

I've visited this website before, but I'd basically forgotten it existed. You know what? I kind of wish I hadn't remembered that it did. The website as a whole isn't that bad, really. I like a lot of their DIY projects, even if they are sometimes so damned useless it makes me cry***. And the apartment/house tours are really fun, especially when it's a house that looks like it's actually lived in.

And this is pretty much where my patience with the website ends.

There's a certain degree of pretentiousness that just seeps through every article, every image ... just everything. I actually cringe when I read through some of their pieces. I think that part of the problem is that it's so focused on major cities (LA, Chicago, and NYC are the most commonly referenced places, as are locations of most of the stores they feature), which isn't in and of itself a bad thing. I mean, people live there, too, and they'd like their places to look nice. But it almost has an elitist bent to it.

Going through the website had me wondering if there was something wrong with me. Is it bizarre that I find their oodling over mixing polka dot wallpaper with a zebra print rug (and I'm not even kidding) very off-putting? Does everyone else feel like a pauper when finding out that the gorgeous chair you like is actually $15,000****?
"And when they thought my $149 per panel curtain suggestion was 'too pricey,' I told them to go to IKEA or Etsy!"
It's almost insulting, actually, how they label a $2400 couch as a bargain. I understand that I'll probably spend more money on something like a good, long-lasting rug, but a $3500 one? Not going to happen. If I'm going to spend that much on something, it's going to be for a car. Or hell, a down payment on a fucking house.

Which brings me to my next point. My biggest complaint about AT is that, well, we rent an apartment and probably will be renting for a good while. Almost every single article or idea is for someone who owns their home, be it a condo or an actual house. They've got a section called "Renters Solutions," which has some good ideas, to be fair, but it's not nearly as extensive as something called Apartment Therapy should be.

I browsed AT for almost four hours straight, hoping that I'd find a little bit more than a suggestion to use window film in the bathroom (which doesn't even apply in my current apartment, where we have a grand total of one window and two sliding doors), but came up with nothing. Google was pretty much my friend here. Also, thanks, Better Homes and Gardens!

Luckily, I still have several weeks ahead of me to ... plan? Dream? Whatever. But I'll tell you what I won't be doing: looking at Apartment Therapy*****.

* Not entirely true. I bought a burgundy lamp base in the shape of a horse because fuck you, I wanted it.
** I'm voting for the latter, but at this point, everything is contingent to Three's job.
*** Their DIY stump article had me eye-rolling so hard, and not just because I really hate stumps used as decoration. Just go look at it. I dare you. And also, the first set of gold stumps (which REALLY??) is from a store, so kinda reneging on the whole DIY angle.
**** This is an exaggeration. I haven't found any this expensive, but if it's out there, I'm sure AT has found it.
***** Probably. What? I'm a glutton for punishment.
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