Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thank you, Courtney Milan.

I'm going to be one hundred percent honest: I have never really been a fan of porn. So much of what is readily available is geared toward a heterosexual male, and since I am neither hetero nor male, I simply cannot bring myself to enjoy it. But my issues go deeper than that; sex scenes make me exceptionally uncomfortable. You can ask my husband: when we first married, the second a sex scene appeared in a movie, I'd make an excuse to leave the room, or I'd busy myself with whatever random thing on the floor caught my desperately searching interest. Even when I was alone, I felt nervous or ashamed or overwhelmed or annoyed and just skipped ahead in the movie. A big part of why I love older movies was because of the censorship; they had to be creative with how they portrayed sex, so a lot of it was innuendo and clever visual puns. Over the past four years, it's gotten somewhat easier to watch a scene that goes heavier than a kiss, but I still have this twinge of ... guilt? Confusion? I really can't explain the very complicated emotion(s) that arises, but it's there in all it's obnoxious glory.

And then I discovered Courtney Milan. Well, to be more accurate, I rediscovered her. About a year or so ago, I had downloaded one of her ebooks for free from Amazon but had never gotten around to reading it. I assume it was my subconscious, since everything else I'd purchased that day has been read at least once, but I can't be sure of my motivations. Anyway, I got on the bus to go to work, and since I had an hour before I would reach my destination, I whipped out my Kindle to peruse what I could read. The first thing that stood out to me was The Governess Affair (hey, it's still free, guys!), and I tilted my head like a flummoxed puppy. I'd been a casual browser of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books - mainly for the hysterical reviews and rants about truly awful books - and a vaguely remembered reading that this was a good story, so I opened it and began to learn about Serena and Hugo.

My love for this novella knows no bounds, and not just because it was well-written and engaging. It was the most comfortable I have ever been while having erotic material in front of me. And I was on a fucking bus, for God's sake. True, no one else could see what I was reading and, as far as I know, nobody was aware of the sensations I felt, but there was no shame, no voice at the back of my head telling me to look away. It was just me witnessing very tender (and exceptionally arousing) scenes between two complex people*. Once I realized what had happened, much later in the day, I actually teared up: I had never had that experience before, and that fact both saddened and elated me. I wanted to find Courtney Milan and give her a giant hug, to thank her for writing such a beautiful story. I also wanted to buy all of her books that very moment, something I plan on doing as soon as possible.

Snubbing my nose at romance novels was somewhat of a passion of mine. I'm not even going to try and sugarcoat it, because, like I said, I made a promise to be honest here. I deemed them as lesser than their more "literary" counterparts at the worst, or just light, fluffy reading for when there's nothing better to do, at best. This attitude is common toward many forms of writing, including my beloved sci-fi/fantasy, comic books, and graphic novels, and it makes me cringe a bit when I think about my own pretentiousness. Romances, like every other genre, has its shining stars and absolute dregs**, and it's not for everyone; but it still has this stigma that stems from the fact that they are written primarily for and by women. This is not new information. Just look it up on Google, or hell, ask one of your friends about his or her opinion on them.

They're frivolous! 

It's just a bodice-ripper with no real substance!

Surely you can find something better to read, yes?

All of these things I've heard - and said - at some point in my life. And yet, here I am, waxing poetic about a corset-unlacing, quivering member book that gave me feelings so profound that I wept. It's a little disorienting, and believe me, I am totally aware of how navel-gazey I'm being right now. Because of one short novella, I am getting ideas of how to explore my sexuality with my husband*** (steamy book reads, anyone??); I'm reevaluating the nature of sex within a relationship, which is actually adding a whole other dimension to the story I'm working on right now; and I'm aching for more Courtney Milan. It's a very, very strange place to be, but I have no complaints.

So does anybody have any good recommendations? Because seriously, I may have just found an additional hobby.

* And there was consent, which OMGOMGOMG made me so happy. There is something so hot about a guy who's like, "Okay, I want you, but you have control in this situation. I'm not going to touch you unless you ask me to do so."
** There, indeed, is a book out there that's about having sex with dinosaurs. I'm not even kidding. It's horrid. And I'm not going to link to it, so if you're curious (or if that's your thing?), Google that shit.
*** We've tried watching porn together, but I got so incredibly defensive - "Oh, but that's not hot, and see, this is my problem with this, and ..." - that it wasn't fun for either of us. And dirty talk makes me laugh. Hard. Anyone who's ever tried it with me has inspired the mood to be ruined.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Growing older kinda sucks sometimes.

My grandfather is turning 84 on the 30th of this month. Eighty-freaking-four years on this planet. Sure, it's not really that long of a time, considering the age of the universe, but still. He's seen a lot in his eight decades of life: several wars, his own immigration from Canada, civil rights, raising four kids on a small salary, trying to figure out "kids these days" through the actions of his (now ten) grandchildren. I'm not going to lie and say that I have a great relationship with the man, because I don't really. I don't know him very well and haven't spent a lot of time with him, mainly due to the geographical divide between us. Growing up a military brat meant that I spent a lot of my childhood moving across the U.S., and eventually, my family set itself up in Nashville, TN, a good twelve hours away from my mother's parents, and then, due to my parents' work schedules, it was very difficult to find time for traveling. Once a year or so, my parents would take me and my sister up to see him once a year or so, and he and my grandma (before she died in the late 90s) would do the same, usually around the holidays, as many families do.

But it looks like that is going to change. A few days ago, my grandfather was involved in an exceptionally bad car accident, where his car turned into this:
Via my mom, who's currently in the hospital with my grandfather
The police are still going over details regarding what actually happened in the wreck, but as far as we know now, my grandfather ran a red light and was t-boned by a teenager who was speeding (and driving his parents' car, which suuuuuucks). His car rolled over and over, leaving him with multiple injuries: broken sternum and ribs, punctured (and then collapsed) lung, a heart attack (not so much an injury, but related to the event), and a perforated small intestine. You know, things that would be difficult for someone who is not 84-years-old to recover from. Luckily, the other driver was not harmed and was able to walk away, but my grandfather was taken to the trauma unit. Two surgeries later, he's still in the hospital, with my mom by his side as often as she can be, sedated and in a ton of pain.

From talking with my mom, Grandpa has been slowly struggling with bouts of dementia. Prior to his wreck, he was known to ask her who the hell she was when she called, only to not remember having the conversation a few hours later. This isn't an uncommon thing for the elderly community, but it's still incredibly difficult to witness when it's someone that you know and care about, even if the care you have is more abstract theory than anything else. The last time I talked with him - about a month ago, I believe - he seemed his usual self: whip smart, sarcastic, and eager to get off the phone*. I am having a very hard time dealing with the fact that this man, as socially awkward as he is, is gradually losing a lot of his freedoms because of things he can't control.

Basically, now that my grandfather has had his right to drive taken from him, my mom and her brothers face a dilemma: what do they do now? I can't even imagine what's going through their minds. They all have complicated relationships with their father - not bad or strained, necessarily, but ... different - and there's a ton of responsibility, regardless of who takes on the mantle of caretaker. It doesn't help that they haven't been able to speak to Grandpa about it, since he's sort of in a sedated haze right now. Everything is speculation right now, which is just making it that much harder.

Of course, my mother decides to bring up their living will in the midst of all of this, which just makes me cringe. It's not like I don't know that they aren't going to live forever; they're human beings and we all have an expiration date. That doesn't mean that I enjoy talking about having to make medical and financial decisions for my parents when the time comes, if ever. My mom made it clear that she wants to be cremated and then have her remains buried with my dad (I'm assuming this is if they die together because um, no, Mom, I'm not digging up Dad to put you in his casket if statistics keep you living longer than he does). I guess this is what I have to look forward to now that I've crested into my thirties. My parents are in their sixties now** and probably have about another twenty years, maybe more. I just never expected all of this to hit me and come out of nowhere: Mrs. Carroll, my high school teacher, died, Mamaw had a stroke, Grandpa got into a wreck after having another episode ... I don't want my life to be just one story of death or dying after another, where I'm on Facebook asking for happy thoughts to be sent my way. It's a reality of life, I know, but that doesn't make this any easier.

For now, I'm going to focus on sending as many good vibes as I can toward my grandfather in Virginia. And I'm going to call Mamaw and ask her to tell me another story about growing up on her farm in Kentucky. And I'm going to relish the time I have with my family and friends as much as I can. I guess that's all I can do.

* I'm with you there, Grandpa. I hate phones. Like, actively hate. I'd rather text or email and then talk in person. Three figured out fairly quickly that my tone changes after about, oh, three minutes into a phone conversation and understood that I was kind of over talking but selflessly pushing through. My mom has yet to figure this out (love you, Mom).
** Dad is officially 60 and Mom is 58, but she considers herself 60 already for some reason. She enjoys getting her senior citizen discount at Cracker Barrel. /shrugs

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pet Peeve #12307

Okay, guys, I'm a nerd. This is not something that I hide or forget to mention. It was actually one of the first things I told Three when we went on our first date, in addition to the various issues that had ended previous relationships*. When I meet Fellow Nerds, I am, more often than not, delighted, particularly if we are interested in the same things. I love hearing about other people's fandoms, even if I don't share them, but there's just something about geeking out with others with similar tastes that makes it that much more fun. Extrapolation from source material is always a blast to discuss, and it's hard to find a nerd who doesn't have at least one fan theory that changes how you may look at something.

For instance, Mass Effect. I have my own ideas as to what goes on in Shepard's head, which is kind of the point of the game. For instance, in one of my play-throughs, my FemShep (who had seen her entire squad die in a thresher maw attack at the beginning of her military career) had fallen in lust with Kaiden Alenko but was forced to leave him to set off the nuke on Virmire, and after she (spoiler alert) died and was resurrected at the beginning of the second game, she decided she wasn't going to wait to declare her love for someone and chose Garrus, her long-time comrade. She continued the relationship into Mass Effect 3 because it was obvious that his loyalty and dedication to her hadn't wavered and because it was obvious that they were perfect for each other: life-long servicemen with a penchant for bending the rules. See? Most of what actually is in that comes from inside my head; it's not explicitly stated in the game, but it was a feeling that I got when I saw her make choices and actions. And that's what made me love the game and assert that it is probably one of the best games ever created.

But it's also a lot of fun to bitch about parts of your favorite stories (games, comics, books, movies, etc.) that make no sense, were poorly executed, didn't have as much thought as was necessary. I don't consider it a betrayal; it's not about attacking or tearing them down, leaving nothing but your exceptionally sad soul to stare at the pieces that remain. It's important to approach these things objectively, and most of the time, it make me appreciate whatever I'm watching/playing/reading even more. Going back to Mass Effect, I found that the treatment of Thane, particularly if you romanced him in the second game, was kind of insensitive to the character. Like, okay, you get it on in ME2, which actually is a pretty emotional scene:

"Thane, be alive with me tonight." 

Their relationship is actually pretty solid, and I was really looking forward to the continuation of it into ME3. When they're reunited on the Citadel, FemShep and Thane (hilariously) start making out in the middle of the hospital (even after she's all, "You want to get outta here and spend some time alone?" /eyebrowwiggle), and afterward, he lets her know that he's not in the physical condition necessary to help her out on her mission to unite the galaxy against the Reapers (or to have sex again. ever). Then he helps save the salarian councilor from Kai Leng but dies in the process. Okay, this I didn't have a problem with, since, hey, it's war: shit happens. But then ... nothing**. You can even start a new romance if you'd like. Shep is all, "Oh, well, he died. Better not grieve or anything." It left me feeling a little cheated and didn't fit the character I had played with for three games***.

Finally, here's where we get to my pet peeve. I try to actively engage people on the praise and criticism of their favorite anything. If you think that I'm being a little too hard on certain aspects, I have no issue with you pointing that out to me. Having good-natured arguments about our takes on things isn't a bad thing, but when somebody starts to interject their head-canon as absolute fact, and I am stupid for not agreeing with them? Yeah, you're about to get a giant middle finger from me, and most likely, I'm not going to talk to you about anything substantial ever again. Example (and actual conversation):

Me: I noticed between the first [Mass Effect] game and the second that Tali's name was pronounced differently. It was Tah-lee first and then Ta-lee next. I mean, I guess it's kind of like how Dodonna in A New Hope pronounced Leia's name as Leah, but still.
Person: Tali just finally got enough balls to say, "Nope, you say my name Ta-lee."
Me: Maybe? (furrows brow) It's a possibility. 
Person: That has to be what happened. Otherwise, it makes no sense.
Me: (joking) You may be thinking a little too much about this.
Person: Hey, you brought it up.
Me: Wait. Are you seriously angry about this?
Person: (getting more and more irate) Look, all I'm saying is, the writers didn't mess up here. 
Me: I didn't say that. All I said was -
Person: You don't have to shit all over this great piece of work.
Me: Um ... I'm going to go ... do something ... over there.

This conversation, sadly, didn't end there. After that point, every single time I started talking about anything that was related to anything, up to and including the fact that I found the Star Wars prequels to be universally awful****, I was accosted by this guy's head-canon. And it wasn't even a conversation I was having with him; he just jumped in and started yelling at me. I'm very open-minded, almost to a fault, when it comes to the interpretation of art, no matter what the medium+, and I expect the same courtesy from everyone else. Maybe that's naivete speaking; I don't know. But from now on, I am pretty much avoiding that guy and anyone else who is just being a dick. Don't be a dick, people. It rarely gets you anywhere, at least with me.

* I'm not even joking here. I went down a list, point by point, with the idea that, if I got it all out in the open, we'd both make sure we weren't wasting our time. We'd both been in several long-term relationships (he had been married for eight years), and I was just done with casual dating. Thankfully, he found my candid reveal refreshing, and almost four years after we said "I do" in front of the county clerk, we're still going strong. 
** Unless you download the Citadel DLC. There you get to have a wake for Thane, which I guess is a kind of closure? 
*** I also get that this game is basically a more complicated choose-your-own-adventure book. You can only have so many options programmed into the game, or else you're going to have about 10982364786234 discs (and even then, you'd miss one story). Ain't nobody got that kind of money. Well, maybe somebody does, but I prefer not to think about that.
**** I didn't realize that there were people who defended these movies. I mean, I think I recognized this academically, but it was really shocking when I came across him. 
+ Hell, I don't even judge people who like what I consider to be bad:  Twilight and its fan-fiction response piece, 50 Shades of GrayJem and the Holograms, etc. I have a soft spot for Surf Ninjas, a movie that cannot be considered anything but simple martial arts fluff. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My teenage self is both proud and jealous of me right now.

I got a job at ... drum roll, please.

A COMIC BOOK STORE.

Even typing out those words gets me excited. I know that it sounds like I'm stuck in some sort of adolescent fantasy, and in some ways, I totally am. The job pays minimum wage, and I'm surrounded by comics, movies (VHS tapes, even, which makes me laugh), toys, figurines, geeky T-shirts, etc. I will definitely have to curb my desire to buy the $75 Wonder Woman statuette that I've had my eye on since I first walked into the store. But honestly? It's perfect. On my first day, I talked about all things dork: Magic the Gathering, comic books, video games, movies. I fit right in with the group, and my boss understands how to best manage me (I seriously think that she may be Future Me), something that hasn't happened ... since college? When, I think it's important to note, was at a bookstore. My schedule is flexible, which leaves me plenty of time to paint, draw, and write, and even the boring tasks (stuffing comic book bags with backers, for example) don't leave me with a certain numbness of mind that other jobs have (coughDHScough). Sure, it's retail, and I've already had my first "weird" customer, although it's a comic book shop. What else can I expect?

But the kicker is the talk I had with my boss about my own comic. She has her own policy for local artists: she buys books outright instead of doing a commission thing, and she even said that she doesn't mind taking a monetary hit if it means that she can spotlight something other than DC or Marvel. I'll even be able to promote with other merchandise, like cards, T-shirts, and drink coasters. This really is a match made in heaven, and I'm sure the honeymoon period will end at some point. I already have a plan for organizing the floor (something I'm oddly good at, despite looking at my own house), and I think I'm going to approach my boss with my idea tomorrow when I go in for my first New Comic Day. Obviously, we're going to be busy, so I won't be able to implement it just yet, but eeeee! I have goals! Who am I?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Life with Pets: Baby - A One-Act Play

Because Juju was unemployed*, one of Three's friends in need of a babysitter brought his child, M, for her to watch while he and Three spent their day working. JUJU, having spent the entire previous night cleaning the house - or as she called it, "unfucking her habitat," is both wide awake and loopy, but determined to provide a safe and friendly environment for a nine-month-old. M sits on the carpeted floor, holding her blanket silently and eyeing the four non-human creatures - ZOLA, BINA, KITKAT, and BITSY - that seem to be, at worst, vaguely interested in her existence. 

ZOLA: OMG IT IS A TINY MOMMY I WILL KISS HER.
KITKAT: My environment has changed and I'm not too happy about this. I'm going to hide in the bed-closet. (scampers off stage)
BITSY: Does it bite? Wait, Tyrannical Not-Friend is not here? Freeeeee!
BINA: She smells funny.
JUJU: Zola, back up. Seriously. You're going to scare the baby.
M: Eeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhh??

Zola cocks her head to one side, confused by this new sound.

ZOLA: Is she hurt? Is she hungry? Does she need comforting puppy kisses? Does she need to poop? Are we going on a walk? I LOVE WALKS. She will love walks, too.
JUJU: No, she just got here, and her dad says that he's already changed her diaper. Calm the fuck down.
ZOLA: (pouts) I'll go get on the couch.

While Zola hops on the couch, Juju picks up M and places her on her hip. The baby seems rather comfortable with the goings on, for which Juju is grateful. 

JUJU: I'm not sure if I could have handled this if you were crying.
M: (blank stare) Pbthththth.
JUJU: I feel ya.

Juju knows essentially nothing about babies, except what she previously Googled earlier. She takes the plastic toy bag, which holds pretend doctor utensils (stethoscope, complete with sparkly lights, one of those knee-thumper things, a thermometer, and a syringe) and chewing rings. M seems unaffected when Juju dangles one of the rings in front of her and simply sticks the edge of her blanket in her mouth.

JUJU: Do you watch TV? I have Netflix, which apparently has a kids' section. You know, I've always wanted to watch that new My Little Pony show. What do you think?
M: (nothing)
JUJU: Sounds good to me. Zola?
ZOLA: I don't know what TV is.
BINA: I am curious about this small human thing. It is a human, right?

Bina approaches the baby cautiously and sniffs her hand. M reaches out for the cat and starts to kind of stroke her fur. Bina purrs and inches a little closer, and M grabs her ear, pulling at it slightly.

BINA: This too shall pass? What do I do? Mommy? WHAT. DO. I. DO.
JUJU: Alrighty, little one, you probably shouldn't hurt the kitty.
M: (with delight) Eeeeeeehhhhh!!

The baby lets go of Bina's ear.

BINA: That ... wasn't so bad. It was kind of like petting?
JUJU: You are such a good cat.
BINA: I often think so.
BITSY: I don't trust it.
ZOLA: I want pets!
JUJU: Zola, stay on the couch.

Juju checks her phone for the time.

JUJU: Well, it's nine o'clock. Your dad said that you were supposed to be fed every four hours, so I guess it's time for second breakfast for you, M.
M: (no reaction)

Because Juju wanted to corral the baby in a safe area, she had placed a barrier of plastic bins to block the way to the kitchen and the rest of the apartment. She is hesitant to carry a baby as she tries to climb over them, so she puts M down and heads toward the fridge.

JUJU: Well, you should be okay if I set you down for a second, right? I'll have you in my line of sight, and the animals don't really seem to be intimidated by you.
BITSY: So you say. Is she taking my place?? I AM THE BABY!
JUJU: Oh, hush. She leaves at the end of the day.
BITSY: I have no idea what that means.

M keeps staring at Bitsy, who is perched on top of the counter. As Juju fetches one of the bottles M's dad left, Bitsy jumps down to investigate the intruder.

JUJU: Bitsy, be nice. She is small.
BITSY: She is bigger than me, so she has the advantage.
JUJU: (rolls eyes) Well, her motor skills are far below yours, so I think you're safe.
BITSY: Whatever.

Bitsy creeps toward M, who has suddenly decided that this white kitty is worth her full attention. She crawls toward Bitsy with unprecedented interest.

M: Aaaaahhhhh!!! (smiles)
BITSY: OMG SHE IS JUST LIKE TYRANNICAL NOT-FRIEND. FLEEEEEEE!!!

Bitsy's tail floofs out and she dashes like a madman around the living area, simply exciting the baby even further.

BITSY: SHE IS RELENTLESS!!
JUJU: Bitsy! Seriously! Just jump back up on the counter! She can't reach you there.
BITSY: YOU DON'T KNOW THAT TO BE TRUE.
JUJU: Yes, I do! She is a baaaaabyyyyy.

Bitsy follows Juju's instructions and nervously keeps an eye on M, who is still fixated on her until Juju climbs back over the boxes with a fresh bottle of formula. After a few minutes, M falls asleep on the small pallet Juju makes on the floor. Kitkat emerges from the bed-closet and slowly makes her way over to investigate the baby. She smells her hair and jumps back when M twitches a bit.

KITKAT: What. Is. That.
JUJU: That, my friend, is a baby human. She's not dangerous.
KITKAT: I don't believe you. The last time you brought something into the house that was alive, we kept it. And my life was forever changed for the worst.
BITSY: HEY.
JUJU: Well, she's not ours. She's someone else's kid. He'll be back in a little while to pick her up.
KITKAT: We shall see.

A few hours pass, and M wakes up with a slight whine.

KITKAT: Well, back to the bed-closet. See you later, bitches.
JUJU: Well, good morning, sunstar! Have a good nap? I bet you probably need your diaper changed.
BITSY: What's a diaper?
JUJU: You shall see.

Juju has not changed a diaper in years and is ever hopeful that no poop will enter the equation. Thankfully, M has only peed, so cleanup isn't as disgusting as it could have been.

BINA: That's her litter box??
JUJU: Hey, stay away from that!
BITSY: Babies are weird.
ZOLA: That doesn't smell tasty.
JUJU: That's because it isn't.

M is happy again with a dry diaper and raises her arms with expectation.

JUJU: Oh, I know! Throw the baby!
ZOLA: WHAT. NO.

Juju tosses M lightly into the air, and M giggles gleefully. As she descends, Zola freaks out.

ZOLA: Is she hurt?? Does she need kisses? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? STOP, MOMMY!!
M: Eeeeeeeeeeeee!
JUJU: Zola, she's fine! I swear. This is fun. And oddly enough, it's pretty good exercise for me.
ZOLA: OMG SHE COULD DIE.

Once Juju finally tires physically of playing the tossing game, she places the baby back on the floor and sits down next to her. Zola ignores her owner and zeroes in on M, who laughs when Zola slobbers all over her face.

ZOLA: I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO DIE.
JUJU: Hey, quit it! Damn, now I'll have to clean her face. I don't think her dad would appreciate her smelling of dog breath.
ZOLA: I choose to disregard this comment. (continues licking M)

Several more hours, episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, puffy organic snacks, and naps later, Three and M's dad, Big M, arrive from a long, hard day. 

THREE: We're home! Where's Kitkat?
BIG M: Hey, baby girl!
M: (grins) Eeeaaaaahhhhh!
JUJU: Kitkat's in the bedroom. Oh, and M's just been changed again. No poop for today, but I leave that for you. You're welcome.
BIG M: Much thanks.
THREE: How'd the animals do?
JUJU: Well, Kitkat has been hiding almost all day, Zola adopted M, Bina is really good with babies, and Bitsy is terrified of them.
THREE: Oh, well, good! Then they'll be great when we have our own!
BITSY: WHAT??!
BINA: Um, okay?
ZOLA: YAY!!
KITKAT: FUCK THAT.

The End.

* NO LONGER. She had an interview on Wednesday and starts on Monday! Woooooo, comic book store employee!!

Also, tune in next Friday for a special edition of Life with Pets! Three is doing a guest post! Whee!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

31 Days of Battlestar Galactica Challenge

It's that time again. A while back, I did a 30 Days of Buffy challenge, which had me watch the entire seven seasons (oh, season six and seven ... sigh). I wasn't necessarily as punctual as I'd like to have been, and I present no excuses. Anyway, BSG is probably one of my favorite television shows of recent times, and it still holds up much better than Buffy the Vampire Slayer does (oh, the lingo and fashion statements), which had a lot of nostalgia for me. I grew up with that show, and while I still enjoy pulling out my DVD collection of it, I find that I have a lot of issues with which Adult Juju has problems (i.e. how Joss Whedon presented people of color, or a pretty big lack of presentation, homosexuality, rape, Xander ...). It's not that BSG doesn't have its ups and downs, because it totally does, but there's a sort of maturity and self-awareness that I appreciate.

Anyway, here's what you have to look forward to during the month of August, starting on August 1, 2014:

Day 11: Favorite Season 1 Scene
Day 12: Favorite Season 2 Scene
Day 13: Favorite Season 3 Scene
Day 14: Favorite Season 4 Scene
Day 15: Favorite Razor/The Plan Scene
Day 16: Favorite Episode
Day 17: Least Favorite Episode
Day 18: Most Upsetting Death
Day 19: Something Happened that I Wish Hadn't
Day 20: Something Didn't Happen that I Wish Had
Day 21: Favorite Dream/Prophecy Moment
Day 22: Most Surprising Moment
Day 23: Most Hated Scene
Day 24: Favorite Pairing (Canon)
Day 25: Favorite Pairing (Non-Canon)
Day 26: Best Promo Picture
Day 27: Favorite Quote
Day 28: Favorite Ship
Day 29: Favorite Battle
Day 30: Favorite Music
Day 31: The Ending - What Did I Think of It?

I'm ridiculously excited about this since, a) I get to watch all of Battlestar Galactica again, b) these challenges actually make me really think about why I love what I love, and c) I get to watch Battlestar Galactica again. This also gets me thinking about other 30-31 day challenges I want to do: Bubblegum Crisis, Friends, Star Wars, The Matrix, The Wheel of Time, etc. Although it also gets me to worrying about getting my own work done. Hmph. Well, maybe it will be an instigator to get the five arcs of "The Legion" done. Who knows. Eek!

Monday, July 14, 2014

I will remember you.

Last week, my mind wandered to one of my favorite high school teachers, Mrs. Carroll. I first met her when I applied to be admitted into her journalism class in my sophomore year, and she was warm and encouraging, eager to invite a new mind into a fairly well-funded extracurricular (seriously, we were given around $42,000 to make the yearbook). Mrs. Carroll was also the junior English teacher, so that next year, I got to be in her class twice a day, depending on what part of the week it was. She was a tough instructor, expecting the best from her students, but more than willing to help someone out, if they were truly putting forth the effort. As you got to know her better, she proved herself to be witty and self-deprecating, wicked intelligent and motherly. One of the best bits of journalistic advice she ever gave was, "Act stupid. You get the best information that way." She was also the only teacher who approached my parents when, after a friend of mine committed suicide during senior year, she had concerns about my mental state*. One of the only parts about graduating from high school that I was actually sad about was the fact that I would never be in one of Mrs. Carroll's classes again.

Then yesterday, I got a text from my mother, telling me that Mrs. Carroll had passed last week from cancer and offering to clip out the obituary for me. It was one of the most surreal things I've experienced yet. I hadn't even been aware that she had been sick, let alone that close to death. I ran and grabbed my yearbook and nearly burst into tears looking at her picture. And then I ran across a photo of her accepting the award I'd won (second place in the state for layout design) with this big cheesy grin on her face, full of pride and sheer joy. I vividly remember that moment, a time in my past when I thought I could get somewhere in the journalism world. She made me believe in myself in a way that no other teach before or since had. I loved her.

And now she's gone. I'll never get to tell her how much she meant to me or how much she had affected my adult life. I'm sure she's had plenty of other former students tell similar stories, letting her know all the good she did during her life. So all I can really do now is live in a way that I know will make her proud: focus my energy on creating words and images, much like I had done in high school. And I will, Deanne. May you rest in peace, my wonderful friend.

* I had been taking muscle relaxers to help with my TMJ, and I was also given an anti-depressant to help counterbalance the side effects of the muscle relaxers. Of course, my friend's suicide wasn't helping matters, so I was in a very weird place at the time.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Life with Pets: When Kitkat Is Happy - A One-Act Play

Mid-afternoon on what appears to be a normal day, JUJU is folding the laundry while watching a new (to her) "Nikita" episode, an underrated (yet still subpar to the original "La Femme Nikita" series) show via Netflix. Both BITSY and BINA have manned the Kitty TV to watch the small flock of birds that have amassed to feed off of the remainder of a fast food meal someone left in the parking lot. KITKAT chooses to ignore the spectacle, instead dutifully opting to wait to take her place on top of fresh towels before Juju puts them away, and ZOLA blissfully snores on her new bed, a gift from Juju's parents. THREE walks through the front door, attempting to whistle, an ability he has yet to master, home from another hard day of work.

THREE: Hey, sweetie! How goes it?
JUJU: Pretty well. Kitkat's being weird.
ZOLA: (jumping up excitedly) DADDY!! I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD.
BITSY: Escape? (Three shuts the door) Damn.
THREE: Hey, Zola. (looking at the seemingly normal Kitkat) How so? Is she sick?
JUJU: She's been nice all day. She hasn't stalked Bitsy once today, and earlier, she was rubbing all up and down Zola.
ZOLA: This is true. I didn't know what to do, so I just stood there with my eyes all wide.
BINA: Hungry?
JUJU: You don't get fed for another two hours.
BINA: (pouting) Fine.

Three approaches Kitkat, who is purring like a motorboat contentedly, and sits down next to her.

THREE: So you're being weird?
KITKAT: I am in a good mood.
THREE: I'm not sure how to deal with this.
JUJU: Join the crowd.

Feeling particularly ballsy, Bitsy creeps up to Kitkat and pokes her head just high enough by the edge of the sofa that all the other cat can see are her eyes and ears.

BITSY: I'm not sure why I'm doing this.
KITKAT: I have no interest in you whatsoever.
JUJU: See? I have no idea what's going on.

Bitsy then places her paws on the edge of the sofa and extends her head to where she and Kitkat nearly touch noses. Three pets Kitkat, partially to keep her calm and also to ensure that he has a way to keep the larger, older cat from lunging at the extremely brave (or stupid) one.

THREE: Bitsy, I'm not so sure this is a good idea. Who knows how long her grace period will last.
BITSY: But I has a confused.

She reaches with her paw and boops Kitkat lightly on her head. Kitkat merely squints her eyes, choosing to enjoy the touch of her favorite person, aka Three. Three looks at Juju and shrugs. After a few moments of stunned silence from everyone, Kitkat stands up and arches her back, stretching. Bitsy squats close to the floor, ready to flee, but Kitkat merely hops over to the coffee table and stops in front of Zola. She tilts her head a bit to the side and then, with no provocation, starts to rub her face and side of her body on the dog.

ZOLA: (completely frozen in fear) What. Do. I. Do.
KITKAT: I like you right now. Let me make you smell like me.
JUJU: She has to be sick. There is literally no other explanation.
KITKAT: I am going to take a nap. Call me when you guys start acting normal.

Kitkat saunters off to the bed-closet, head and tail high, leaving everyone flabbergasted.

JUJU: I think this has been the most uneventful day ever. Probably close to downright boring. I'm so used to playing referee all the time.
THREE: Maybe Kitkat has turned over a new leaf.
JUJU: Methinks you may be wrong. She'll be back to stalking the little one and randomly swiping at Zola any day.
THREE: It could happen.

Juju picks up the folded towels and makes for the actual closet in between the bathroom and the bed-closet, and Bina, thinking that it was now food time, jumps to her feet happily.

BINA: Food?

Grossly miscalculating a) the slickness of the pleather chair and b) the relative distance from said chair to the arm of the sofa, Bina attempts to jump but instead flails to the floor, dragging a blanket and two books from the side table. Zola thinks it's playtime, and Bitsy, under the misconception that the noise is actually Kitkat coming to attack her, bolts ... somewhere? and trips Juju, sending Juju to the ground and the laundry flying everywhere.

JUJU: Serenity now. Serenity. Now.

The End.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I'm Officially Too Old for This Shit

Confession: I wait for the ice in my soda to water it down because the taste is too sweet for me to enjoy. I also actively seek out puzzle books by Dell and Penny Press. That being said ...

The other day, in an effort to simply get out of the house, I went on a long walk that ended up with me exploring the mall that was only about two miles away from my apartment. As a former mall employee*, I usually steer clear of these giant monuments to the 80s and 90s shopping style (INDOORS! FOOD COURTS! AWFUL CARPETS! PLAY AREAS WITH GIANT THEMED CLIMBY-ON-Y THINGS!), since I am unusually attuned to the frantic atmosphere**, but I figured, what the hey, I'll give it a go.

It wasn't nearly as hectic as I remember it, but then again, it was the middle of the day on a weekday, so I'll probably just save my final evaluation for when Black Friday decides that it's that time of year again. I got to painlessly*** explore Joann's Fabrics, Ross Dress for Less, and Bath and Body Works****, and I even got so brave as to dare to enter Charlotte Russe and Forever 21.

That's when I first realized something felt off. I couldn't pinpoint from where it was coming, but I found myself a little overwhelmed after I'd been in F21 for a little over five minutes. I assumed it was because the store was SO. MUCH. On this stark white backdrop was every loud color imaginable, and I was irritated at the extreme bias they showed toward gold jewelry (I have a cool skin tone, and gold, in general, just looks horrid on me). I did notice a few cute things+ but I was overall unimpressed.

I continued through the mall, aimlessly wandering in and out of stores (hi, GameStop!) without buying anything, and then I saw one of my old fashion haunts: American Eagle. I was more of a PacSun girl, because what teenager-early-twenty-something who lived in a landlocked state didn't need beach wear? Anyway, I actually still own a few sweaters from back in the day - my magenta one has holes in the armpits, but I can't bring myself to throw it away because I love it too much - so I decided to check out what was being marketed to the kids these days. I nearly freaked people out with all the side-eye I was giving. What is this shit? Well, that doesn't look comfortable. Wait, can't I get a twelve-pack of those t-shirts elsewhere for not $35? Why in the hell are they selling mom jeans? Mom jeans are cool? Dear God, denim shirts? Oh, well, those strappy sandals are actually pretty cute. Hang on, is that an elastic waist on that denim vest dress? The fuck, it is. Why did I throw away/reuse as throw rags/donate to Goodwill all those fugly dresses from when I was younger? I would have made a killing on ebay/Etsy. Now, to be fair, from what I've read online, American Eagle is definitely floundering when it comes to their target age group (see: me in high school and college), as are similar stores like Aeropostale and Abercrombie & Fitch (good.), so I guess I can't really be all "YOUTHS!!!" about it. At least they seem to recognize that the brands have grossly overestimated the value of their names, as seen by the ridiculous prices they try to use.

But that's not really the point here. In an effort to see if it was me or just that I'd just experienced an isolated event, I revisited the previous clothing stores that were aimed at people at least eight years younger++ than me and came to the same conclusion: I am officially too old for this shit. It just doesn't appeal to me at all. I don't really like super-duper short dresses, which should please my mother, and skater dresses just look like the time when people were buying dance wear even though they never even took a ballet/tap/jazz/whatever class in their lives. I can't wear rompers because the damned crotch is too short. High-waisted jeans look bizarre on my body, and hahahaha what, they are selling overalls again+++??

For those of you my age, or older/younger, more power to you if you can pull any of that off. I'm jealous. Your clothes shopping is that much easier. I, on the other hand, have to figure out where to get my shit. What are my options here? I'd hate to have to fall back on the Pyramid Collection++++ here. And that's not even my biggest problem, since online shopping really is my forte, for the most part. Despite my earlier mentioned apprehension about going out to shop, when it comes to clothes, I prefer to try it on before I purchase it. (Same goes with shoes.) Ross Dress for Less seems to be my best chance at finding something, but by the time I've gone through the store fifteen times and found a grand total of one thing, I've lost all interest in finding a dressing room. It's a vicious cycle. But I'm up for any input here, really. I'm in some serious need of new clothes - a lot of what I own is starting to show some serious wear, like holes and tears - and things are just getting downright desperate for someone who is no longer a girl, but not yet a woman.

Really, that was just an excuse to post this video.

* During high school, I worked at Sam Goody/Suncoast, which was a pretty awesome job, and I worked there from the time I was sixteen until graduation and then the Christmas season during my first year of college. Once I graduated from college, I worked at The Limited for about two months before I tired of dealing with annoying, entitled customers.
** This is why I think online shopping was made with me in mind, particularly when it comes to the holidays. I swear, the sheer desperation of people - shoppers trying to find the perfect gift, the poor salespeople at the kiosks and perfume/makeup counters, etc. - is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I can't stay in that for too long or I start acting like a person who's expecting an assassin: paranoid and overreactive and quite bitchy.
*** One thing I've noticed, at least in the places that I've visited here, is that nobody overuses the air conditioning in Louisville. In Nashville, I usually felt like I had to carry a sweater with me whenever I went into any kind of business, but not so here. It's ... curious.
**** Yeah, big surprise to me, too. I'm usually having the fight the sales associates off with sticks and telling them, "No, I do not need a mesh bag to carry my single spray bottle of good smells. But thanks." Maybe their corporate office got the memo that people a) find that affected cheeriness creepy as hell and b) don't like to constantly be asked if they need help as they peruse the new candles.
+ I think I'm one of the only people my age who's excited that crop tops are back in. My body isn't perfect, but fuck, it's hot outside. If global warming is going to make even this desert lover wish for an ice age, please provide me with clothing that gives my skin a chance to breathe and not steep in its own sweat.
++ True story: I actually had to Google "Where do teenagers shop?" Because I'm That Person. I wasn't sure if the kids were going to Rue 21, Forever 21, etc., but apparently, I was correct. See also: TJ Maxx.
+++ Okay, overalls are awesome. They are the ultimate in comfort, but hahahaha they are trendy again and I just can't help but laugh. I think this is how my mom felt when polyester and bell bottoms came back in style when I was a young teenager.
++++ You know what? Who cares. I love the Pyramid Collection. If I could, I'd go on a shopping spree and buy this. Or this. Or this (It has pockets, you guys. This is quickly becoming a requirement of mine). Or this ("It's Rufflesible!" ... whatever that means?). Or ... actually, this list could get realllllllllly long.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Life with Pets: Don't Mess with Routines - A One-Act Play

It is morning in the Three-Juju household, and Juju is at work, providing financial services that fuck people over with high-interest rates help people make it between pay checks, leaving THREE to his own devices. On days like these, as per usual, he has his schedule set pretty regularly, where he has just returned from taking ZOLA, the slobbery bulldog, for a glorious walk. While KITKAT is splayed lazily on the couch, BINA sits directly in front of the door, ready for The Routine to begin. Zola flails about because she is Zola.

ZOLA: I pooped and it was amazing and I forgot what I was doing.
THREE: Let me take off the leash, dog.
ZOLA: Is it food time?? It should be food time.
BINA: Agreed? I am hungry?
THREE: Guys. You know the routine.
BINA/ZOLA: SIGH.
KITKAT: Whatever.

Once he's able to wrangle the leash off of Zola, Three continues in The Routine, heading for the bathroom where he takes care of his ... business (aka pooping)*. As he's sitting on the pearly throne, he notices that his ankles are hurting him a bit. He rubs them gingerly and grimaces.

THREE: Hm. Maybe I should take a bath to take care of the aching. 

Zola forgets that she hates the tiny room where the Tub of Evil exists to torture her with baths, so she barrels into the bathroom. As she sees that Three has turned on the Wicked Water, she slowly backs up.

ZOLA: He can't see me, can he?
THREE: Zola, this bath isn't for you.
ZOLA: He. Said. BATH. THIS IS NOT A PART OF THE ROUTINE.

Zola retreats more quickly than a bulldog should. Three rolls his eyes.

THREE: I'm sorry that I messed up The Routine, Zola, but my ankles are killing me.
ZOLA: (off stage) I don't understand what you are saying over the WICKED WATER.

The tub starts to fill up, releasing a pleasant warm mist into the air. Three takes a deep breath, ready for some R&R. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Bina flies into the bathroom, fully expecting there to be an empty tub, for you see, based on The Routine, Bina would come to visit Three on the toilet and would play with whatever hair band had been left on the side of the tub. Instead, her little furry body is met with a half-full bathtub. 

BINA: WATER??!!

She leaps upward, desperately scratching her claws on the wall to keep her from plummeting back into tub, but alas, she plops down, this time, completely drenching her. She then scrambles to pull herself out and zips out of the bathroom, leaving a trail of water behind her. Three doesn't know if he will ever be able to stop laughing and simultaneously feels awful for the poor kitty.

THREE: (in between chortles) Bina? Are you okay?
BINA: (offstage) THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T MESS WITH ROUTINES! EVER!
THREE: I'm sorry, Bina.
BINA: (offstage) I'm never coming out from underneath the bed. 

The End.

* How he schedules his poops baffles Juju.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Yep, I Still Can't Stand Jane Austen

Last year (at least, I think it was last year; the past two years has kind of been a blur), I wrote an article for Feminspire on my distaste for the author, Jane Austen. It raised quite a bit of anger from her fans, particularly for my comparison of her to that of Stephenie Meyer. Now, this was an opinion piece, and I'll admit it was incredibly broad in its scope. It wasn't necessarily the best example of my writing, and I remember that I wrote it after trying to get through one of her books that I'd checked out from the library - it was Mansfield Park, by the way. I managed to force myself to read the first chapter before I angrily threw it against the wall. It was just so. tedious. Now that I've had more time to think about Jane Austen and her novels - and I haven't been irritated to the point of human-on-book violence - I figure I can address some of the more common arguments that were brought up after the article was published.

First of all, Stephenie Meyer. I understand academically that what Austen was trying to do was satirize the societal structures of the time, and I'm sure that the people who lived in the Regency and Victorian eras were able to pick up on her subtle critique that she offered. Obviously, those who study Austen and her contemporaries (Bronte sisters, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ann Radcliffe, and plenty others) can and do appreciate her approach. However, as a modern - and I don't mean this in a derogatory way, just simply that I have no connection due to the large stretch of time between her writings and my ability to read them - reader, I find her inaccessible. Like I said in the original article, her attempts at making her culture appear ludicrous is not very clear and makes her sound like she is supporting the restrictions that were placed on women.
"The talkative and awkward spinster Ms. Bates (Emma), the vivacious Lydia Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), and the lovesick Maria Bertram (Mansfield Park) are forced to live condemned existences for 'breaking the rules,' while Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), Harriet Smith (Emma), and Jane Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) live comfortably since they followed the more accepted path, never daring to buck the restrictions placed upon them."
I stand firmly by this point. Even if she is trying to portray this as satire, she doesn't do a very good job of it, although she improved in this area by the time that Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published. It would be incredibly easy to see similarities between Austen's earlier works and Meyer's Twilight series. Both should know better, despite the fact that Austen lived in a much different time, without the internet and easy access to opposing views. However, I have always had a hard time accepting the idea that people are simply the products of their times. There have always been dissidents to popular attitudes, such as abolitionists in the pre-Civil War U.S., and to excuse that is essentially claiming that we, the modern human, are more advanced than those of the past. Yes, we have technologies that make our lives easier, but people were not dumber two hundred years ago. This is such an incredibly arrogant perspective. Things were just different.

The comparison with Meyer, however, isn't so much a punch to Austen as it is to people who read Austen's novels as romances. And, yes, I know that scholars have a different idea on the themes in what she writes, but look at all of the recent film adaptations of her stuff. For example, 2005's Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyan (Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy, respectively), and 1995's Sense and Sensibility, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet (Elinor Dashwood and Marianne Dashwood, respectively) are both portrayed as rom-coms (with more of an emphasis on the romantic elements). This is not to say that I don't enjoy both of these movies - because I totally do - but all sense of satire is lost. We are the ones that are doing that. At least in Amy Heckerling's Clueless, an adaptation of Emma, does not remove the satire and is a profoundly feminist movie. The young women don't harp on each other's sexual lives (except when Tai barbs Cher with the famous quote, "You're a virgin who can't drive," but that's more of a commentary on how Tai has changed because of Cher's influence more so than anything else), and the notion of social stature (Travis being a stoned skateboarder and therefore not worthy of Tai's affections) is torn down by the end of the movie, when Cher realizes how much they care for each other. In contrast to Heckerling, Meyer, very much a victim to this idealization of traditional female roles - which is another topic for another time, although not on this blog - takes Austen's influence and runs with it, giving us the "gift" of Bella Swan and Edward Cullen.

Second, I was accused of not ever reading Austen (or not reading enough of her) or not being aware of other women writers from her time period. Being an English minor in college had me forced to read classic books that I detest (Scarlet Letter and anything by Charles Dickens, for example, so yes, I trudged through all of Austen's novels, except for Mansfield Park, which I tried to rectify later on. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is probably one of my favorite books, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman is in my top ten writers of all time (if you haven't read her short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," stop what you're doing now and go read it). While it is true that that era's manner of writing isn't my cup of tea, as I indicated above, there are so many more women writers who succeeded in ways that Austen did not.

Continuing on that thread, in an incredibly amusing comment ... you know what? I'm just going to post it here:
"Wow! You're so cool! You don't like Jane Austen and you're comparing her with Meyer, probably because you're so 'into' these [sic] pulp fiction that you can't think of another name to make the comparison. I wonder what you think of the Bronte sisters, Ann Radcliffe, Aphra Behn etc. Oh! probably you haven't even heard of them or you must have tried to read them but couldn't go 'through' the entire book. Duh! These old hags couldn't even include one sex scene in their books or vampires, werewolves, witches and aliens....that is so not cool."
I have no idea where this person got that I only read books with sex, vampires, werewolves, witches and aliens, but okay, then. I'm not even going to offer up what my preferred genres are, but there's a sense of elitism in this comment. I understand that it's more of an anger-fueled response to a most-likely avid reader of Jane Austen, but basically, I am being told that Austen is better reading than Meyer or Gail Carriger or Charlain Harris or countless other female authors that do include those elements into their work. My lovely friend, Elizabeth Thurmond, wrote an amazing article regarding the Culture of "Should," in reference to adults reading YA fiction, but it applies here. My possible reading tastes were ridiculed, as was my intelligence and exposure to other forms of literature. (On a more positive note, I was reminded that I do indeed need to read Aphra Behn, so there's that.) I try not to look down upon a person that enjoys reading a certain type of whatever, be it romances, horror, comics, etc., because personal preference is just that: personal. It says so very little about that person that it barely deserves any mention, since there are positive aspects to every single form of art.

Third, I got a lot of flak for using Mark Twain quotes, expressing his distaste for Austen:
"Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.*"
"Why, I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book." 
Twain has been considered a misogynist by scholars based upon several things, mainly his portrayal of women in his novels and in his supposedly changing opinions of the suffrage movement. Now, I love Mark Twain as an author; he's just so incredibly witty that I wish I could go back in time and talk with him. That being said, I feel like I might have to dress up like a man and engage him. Like my good friend Chuck Dickens, his characterization of women is relegated to stereotypes and are, more often than not, simply objects through which the main male characters learn who they are, if they are even given that much of a role. Miss Watson from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is described as a spinster and is very much a typical understanding of what a "spinster" was during that time: lonely, dependent, haggardly, and just plain mean, even if she does end up freeing Jim (her slave) in her will. Her sister, Widow Douglas, on the other hand, is the motherly, kind type, obviously not embittered by a lifetime without a man and therefore plenty of sexual encounters. They are both caricatures. And that doesn't change in any of his further books.

As far as his disagreement with allowing women the ability to vote, I'm a bit more conflicted here. It seems like he's initially against it, particularly when he writes the following bits to the St. Louis Missouri Democrat in 1867:
"I think I could write a pretty strong argument in favor of female suffrage, but I do not want to do it. I never want to see the women voting, and gabbing about politics, and electioneering. There is something revolting in the thought." 
"Women, go your ways! Seek not to beguile us of our imperial privileges. Content yourself with your little feminine trifles - your babies, your benevolent societies and your knitting - and let your natural bosses do the voting. Stand back - you will be wanting to go to war next. We will let you teach school as much as you want to, and we will pay you half wages for it, too, but beware! we don't want you to crowd us too much."
As a frequent viewer of The Colbert Report, I can't help but notice what could be considered Twain's trademark sarcasm in the second quote. The first quote, on the other hand, seems - if you take it separately from the second one - quite indicative of his disapproval. However, by 1909, he seems to be an avid supporter of the idea, as an interview in the Chicago Daily Tribune would indicate:
"I not only advocate it now, but have advocated it earnestly for the last fifty years. As to the militant suffragettes, I have noted that many women believe in militant methods You might advocate one way of securing the rights and I might advocate another. They both might hep to bring about the result desired. To win freedom always involves hard fighting. I believe in women doing what they deem necessary to secure their rights."
This does not excuse his limited portrayal of women in his novels, so his sexism was most likely an underlying symptom of his own deep-seated misogyny** that he didn't fully examine. Or perhaps he was attempting - and failing, like Austen - to accurately satirize a topic that seems to be such an openly discussed one now. Again, the time frame is a factor here. If he did, indeed, support the suffrage movement for fifty years, then it was his responsibility to flesh out his female characters, to create them as people instead of writing them to the expected type. He didn't do that, and shame on him.

Ultimately, I don't necessarily disagree with my previous article regarding Jane Austen, although I shudder at the lack of nuance. It was more of an immediate, highly emotive diatribe than it was a thoughtful response; I apologize for that, but it still rings true. For me. And that's what beautiful about literature, about all of art: each person is affected differently, depending on their outlooks, backgrounds, upbringing, interests. Once a creator lets something go into the universe, it is no longer theirs, but they can hope that it starts a positive discourse, a greater understanding of what it means to be human. So I suppose I have to give mad props to Jane Austen for forcing me to look at things like situational ideology and cultural isms, things that are so mutable that it amuses me that we can get into fights about them. I can only hope that, someday, my stories and artwork can do the same.

Wait, do I like Jane Austen now? Dammit.

* I have uttered similar things about one Dan Brown. I can't read anything he writes without having tiny bugs of irritation crawling all over my body, and I have refused to buy a single thing he has written (thanks, public libraries!). And yes, I have expressed a desire to smack the man.
** I'll probably do a post on racism in Twain's work later on, because I think that goes hand in hand with the misogyny of this time period. I've always had a problem with people excusing Twain's use of the n-word to describe Jim, since, as I explained above, that is never a good reason to be a shithead.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hahahahaha job searching hahahahaha

When I was sixteen, I got a job at a Sam Goody/Suncoast (remember those??). It was probably the easiest thing I had done up until that point. I simply walked in, asked for an application, was interviewed that same day, and then was offered the job the next. The assistant manager told me that she had decided to hire me when I, a young teenager, used the phrase, "a plethora" correctly. Training was ridiculously quick, although to be fair, the process of alphabetizing movies and CDs wasn't too difficult and cash registers didn't have all the bells and whistles way back when. I got all the hours I wanted, and because I was sixteen with, you know, school and everything, it was never more than I could handle. I absolutely loved it.

Fast forward over ten years: it is nearly imfuckingpossible to find any damned thing. Even a few years ago, it took me seven months to find a job, and that was at the Department of Human Services, a three year period about which I have a hard time remembering any good things. I've only been in Louisville for a little over a month, and I think I've sent in at least fifteen applications to various places. It's not that there isn't a lot out there; there totally is ... at fast food places, Walmart, Kroger, restaurants. And there's nothing wrong with those sorts of jobs. I admire anyone who still goes to work at a place that values them little more than simple numbers to add to there employee pool. Hell, I've waited tables, filled up merchandise, and dealt with ungrateful customers for most of my adult life. That's why I don't really want to go back there again. It's not that I won't; I mean, I applied for a job at a bookstore, for crying out loud. But I'm hoping for something more, at least in the interim before I delve fully into what I really want to do: write stories and draw comics.

Here's the thing: I have had absolutely zero bites. At least with my last job, I got a quick response. I would have been glad with a simple, "Thank you for your application, but we are not currently choosing to pursue you as a hire" from any of the places I've tried. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do, and I'm extremely lucky that Three's job pays as well as it does and that our rent and bills are taken care of. I have time to look. Not everyone has that luxury. We're not exactly jumping into vats of gold coins, but I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from or if we're going to be able to pay rent.

This week, my plan is to continue my obviously futile search to find employment. I've got the mall less than a fifteen minute walk from my apartment, and there are plenty of retail places over there. I mean, I could work at the Piercing Pagoda, you guys. That was actually kind of a dream of mine when I was a teenager. Now, not so much, but hey, I'll take what I can get. There's also a GameStop, which would be pretty keen, since I'm woefully behind on my video gaming. Actually, when I look at that, I wonder if working at a place that can feed my addiction is such a good idea. Oh, well, I'm still going to apply. Who knows? Maybe the employee discount is awesome.
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