“A Book in 30 Days” or “How I Shall Drive Myself Mad in November”

Well… I have news.
Not big news, mind you… I haven’t adopted a tiny kitten or a pygmy marmoset… I haven’t discovered a new doomsday meteor, and I had no part in discovering Superhenge (and fighting off the multi-limbed, tri-throated subterranean creatures bent on destroying us all [the Doctor and I agreed that we should keep our names out of the history books for that one])… but I do have a bit of news.
*Ahem*
I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo.
*commence immediate panicked floundering, but in a low-key, sloth-trapped-in-peanut-butter kind of way*

The part of me with chronic writer’s disease thinks, “50,000 words, eh? Just lock me away for a few weekends and let me have at it.” The part of me with a job and a strangely active social life thinks, “Dear GOD, why did I commit myself?! I will write RUBBISH, and then all of the perfectly brilliant people who participate in NaNoWriMo will say, ‘There she goes… that horrible woman who writes rubbish. How very dare of she to attempt to join our ranks!!!!’
Sure, that may sound overly dramatic, but imagine Minerva McGonagal saying it.**

Tell me that you didn’t break out into a cold sweat.

I’ve decided that the best way to make sure that I don’t get halfway through the month, realize that I only have 2000 words and all of them are in mangled French, slowly close my laptop with a strangled sob and gigantic, teary, slow loris eyes, and proceed to ruthlessly berate myself for the remainder of the year for being a horrible, rubbishy quitter is to tell you lot. After all, I started this blog for writing accountability, and dagnabbit, YOU WILL HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.

*snarl*

At present, I’m working on the concept for my novboo… erm… thing, but I’ll be throwing out all the updates once I’ve cranked through the sundry story bits in my brain.
Question: can one write a short story anthology for this, or is that cheating?
Does anyone know?

**I just want her to love me. THAT’S ALL I WANT. *SOB*

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DISAPPOINTED

This post is about Voldemort.
By Voldemort, I mean racism, but as we all know, using the name of a scary thing gives it more power, so… oh, no, wait… that’s rubbish, isn’t it? Pure, uncut, grade A rubbish.
When we want to fix an issue, we call out the name, we discuss it like adults (LIKE ADULTS, I SAID), and it starts to lose its hold, doesn’t it? We take away the mystique and stare it down and it loses power.
Saying that it doesn’t exist doesn’t kill it. Insisting that whoever… um… smelt it, dealt it (look, I’m sorry, I could not think of something better to write there) or that whoever denied it, supplied it is not a legitimate battle technique. If we want to lay the issue to rest, we need to look at it, realize how ridiculous and ugly and horrible it is and stop feeding it marshmallows and bits of raw meat, yeah?

By now, we’re all probably fairly familiar with the events of last’s week shooting in Charleston.
By now, we’ve probably seen or heard most of the details and, if you’re like me, you cried… at work… right in your boss’ face.
I was distressed then… and I’m disappointed now.
I’m disappointed because something horrible happened and, instead of all of us being able to hear the screamingly obvious narrative of this one event, we’re talking at cross purposes and accomplishing nothing, except perhaps making everything worse.

  • People are wandering around, shrugging their shoulders as to the motives for the crime, even though there is eye-witness, written, and verbal evidence (from the shooter himself) as to the racism of it all. Nine people were killed for no other reason than that their skin was of a particular shade, and their ancestors were from a particular continent. They didn’t choose to be black… they didn’t opt in at birth… they were born the way that they were born, and someone killed them for it. That is a thing that happened in the past, obviously happens now and, considering our refusal to address it, will continue to happen in the future. Even though he said himself that he wanted to start a race war, no one is comfortable coming right out and saying that (because we live in Shymalan’s “The Village” and racists are “THOSE WE DON’T SPEAK OF”), so we’ll just look at a duck and call it a narwhale until the whole thing blows over.
  • People are assuming that the shooter must be mentally ill.
    That’s shockingly insulting to people who struggle with legitimate mental illnesses. No one has produced any sort of psychological evaluation stating that he is, in fact, mentally ill. The only motive that we have for the crime was that of racism and racism is not a mental illness… but we don’t like to talk about racism, so we’ll assume that he simply must have a vague, shadowy disorder of some sort.
    THOSE WE DON’T SPEAK OF.
  • People are arguing about guns, which… *sigh*
    Gear up, everyone.
    Q: Could he have killed nine people in short order with a bag full of rocks?
    A: Probably not, no.
    Q: Did the gun expedite matters?
    A: Yes, of course it did.
    Q: Should he have had a gun in the first place?
    A: Nope. We have laws… but the laws have loopholes… and the loopholes have loopholes.
    Q: What does that tell us about the cause of this tragedy?
    A: Not a whole heck of a lot.
    Q: Would it have been any less tragic and any less racist if the shooter had killed only one person with a rock?
    A: No.
    Q: What about a knife?
    A: Still a racist hate crime.
    Q: Garrotte? Explosive device? Diseased blankets? Would he have been a nice, gentle, lovable, non-racist guy if he’d had a crossbow instead?
    Sirs and madams… he killed those people because he hates black people, not because his father gave him a gun. We’re talking about motives, right? The gun, which we’ll all agree that he shouldn’t have had, was an extension of his will, not the impetus.
    Q: Do we need to talk about guns? 
    A: Yes, obviously… but I don’t believe that’s the critical issue in this case (because I think the critical issue is Voldemort racism).
  • People are humming a few bars of the same old song about how shy loners who love the internet are time bombs.
    Nope.
    I can’t.
    I honestly can’t.
    Really, fools?
  • The church… or at least the section of the global church in which I happen to sit, is not saying anything about this.
    Not really.
    Now, this is when everyone rolls their eyes and says, “Well, duh. We don’t have to say it. It’s in the Bible somewhere… something-something-New-Testament-something”, but those same people will engage in verbal fisticuffs over every other issue that hits the newsstands. Mention Duck Dynasty and just watch the hymnals fly, but here, there is uncomfortable silence. If anything is said, it’s a rather dismissive non-sequitur that God is no respecter of persons.
    We already know that, you numpty.
    However, people (you know, the ones that are not God) are respecters of persons, which is why people CLEARLY need this issue to be frequently, compassionately, and yet strongly addressed.

Racism (and prejudice, because where do we think racism starts?) exists, in part, because we don’t want to talk about it anymore. I understand that. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, either… but then I’d also rather like to not experience it anymore.
I’m disappointed in all of us… in the way that we’re handling this…  because we have an extremely clear, textbook example of racism and the harm that racism can do, and we’re all shying away from it, averting our eyes and scuttling to our usual positions. I don’t think we can afford to continue hiding from this just because it’s an uncomfortable topic.

I might have children one day… pretty ones, probably WAY too tall, with glasses and dry wit and the Ransom cheekbones. I don’t want my children to hear about racism, or even experience it… let alone catch a bullet because some guy doesn’t like the amount of melanin they carry.
If the only way that I can prevent that is by making myself uncomfortable by talking about this, I should do it, yeah?
Maybe we all should.

Why Aren’t We Talking About Claire?

I saw Jurassic World this week, and life as we know it is over, everyone.
OVER.
Nothing will ever be the same, because we can have raptors as house pets now.

This post is going to be a gushy tribute to Claire Dearing, which means that I will be vaguely alluding to some key points in the film.
I’ve noticed that everyone (*cough* overstatement *cough*) is talking about Owen (Chris Pratt), which I am not arguing with. On a scale of one to ten, Owen was pure, grade A, uncut magnificence and I will brook no arguments on that score. Admittedly, he had a few moments early on when I wanted to punch him in his pretty face, but no one who is magnificent is also perfect.

However, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) was also pretty darn magnificent, and also not perfect, and yet, I haven’t seen any parades in her honor.
This is a crime, people. First all, was she or was she not absolutely stunning during the first half? I rather desperately need that whole outfit, and if my hair would do what her hair did (it does and will not), I would lay siege to all the corporate fortresses and look effortlessly impeccable while I do so.

Beth
So gorgeous that it kind of makes me angry.

Also, please take note that impeccably gorgeous Claire ran a multi-billion dollar theme park.
She ran a multi-billion dollar theme park full of dinosaurs.
I don’t know what her precise job title was… but I like to think it was “The Queen of Crushing It.
Yes, she was a workaholic who neglected her familial relations, but really, how many of us do that while working a regular 9 to 5? Yes, she seemed to be characterized as being uptight and a bit of a control freak, but honestly… wouldn’t you be, given that occupation? She was wrangling history’s supreme predators and, even worse, an island full of humans.
HUMANS.
Those trouble-laced meat pouches are the absolute worst, known throughout the universe for their shenanigans, and Claire, for however long, kept those monsters at bay, kept the dinosaurs from eating those monsters, and kept Jurassic World financially on point. This woman deserves a not insubstantial amount of credit, even while acknowledging that her personal life needed work.
It’s easy for us to look at her personal relationships as some sort of shame trigger… something we can point at and say, “WELL, that (and the exploitation of previously extinct animals) obviously makes her a terrible person and WHY IS SHE WEARING SO MUCH WHITE?”
Number one, she’s wearing white because she can, peasants. Number two, the fact that Claire was a workaholic, a control freak, and a bit of lousy aunt/an apparently terrible date made her, in my opinion, a fully realized character.
She wasn’t Ellie Sadler. Ellie was like the Mary Poppins of adventure heroines. Brilliant, attractive, focused, charming, AND she wanted a family!!!! Don’t misunderstand me, I loved Ellie. I would have had a framed portrait of her on my wall as a child. I wouldn’t change a thing about Ellie… but Claire wasn’t Ellie, and she didn’t have to be. Claire wasn’t an angel… although you have to admit that she looked like one.

LOOK AT HER.
Claire was allowed to be “flawed” in ways that were addressed but not necessarily “fixed” in the film… she didn’t change her work philosophy, or learn some heavy-handed lesson about making sure that she knows how old her nephews are. She was still, at points, rather annoying, and considering that creature features are a bit notorious for whacking or otherwise punishing women who aren’t 100% supreme examples of the good and the beautiful, this resonated with me (because, not being angelic myself, I’d like to think that I’d live to see the end credits).

There is, of course, one final area which demands consideration. It is essential that we address Claire’s physical comportment during the fall of Jurassic World, and I will open with a question: When came the revolution, who sprinted through the apocalypse wearing Kate Middleton heels?
Claire didn’t just keep up, ya’ll.
She was a Charlie’s Angel style Florence Griffith Joyner… and she shot things and saved lives and showed compassion and generally was an all-around champion. She didn’t have a velocipraptor attack squad (my heart stuttered as I typed those words… I will never get over that…), but she stared down dinosaurs and (a probably sweaty) Chris Pratt (twice), pulled an Ian Malcolm in glorious pumps, and manages to walk off-screen with all limbs and dignity intact.

All in all, both the character and the actress were great… Vincent d’Onofrio is a (brilliantly) terrifying lunatic, Chris Pratt just IS and we thank God for that… and this movie has ruined me for the rest of the year.
Nothing can top it, and we might as shut the whole thing down.
I mean, really… VELOCIRAPTOR ATTACK SQUAD.
My insides… I just can’t go on…

Jurassic World images from http://jurassicpark.wikia.com/wiki/Claire_Dearing

Apples to Apples and All of Them Rotten

Let’s talk about apples.
You know when someone says that eating a raw apple is better or worse than taking that same apple, removing the same core that you weren’t going to eat anyway (unless you’re that guy… don’t be that guy, precious), and mashing the whole thing, skin and all, into… um… apple mash? You didn’t add anything, you didn’t remove anything… it’s precisely the same apple. You’ve just consumed it in a different way… but you always get that one person who starts whinging at you, telling you that apples that aren’t whole apples aren’t apples, and you just want to shake your fists at the sky and yell, “APPLES! ARE! APPLES! WHAT! IS! YOUR! TROUBLE?!?!”
That’s annoying, isn’t it?

Now… let’s talk about sexual trauma.
That might be one of the most outrageously sudden and terribly awkward segues in the history of the written word.
You read it here first, folks.
Here’s what I’m not doing: I’m not getting into the whole Duggar debate, because I have never seen the show, I haven’t followed them, and the only thing I know about them involves the current media maelstrom. If you love them or despise them, I’m afraid that I really don’t care. I’m sorry… I just don’t have room in my mind attic to store that information, but you don’t need me to validate your choices, anyway. Good on you. Whatever.
What I am addressing is the glut of people on social media who have said, “Well, it’s not like the victims were raped. If they were raped, THAT would be awful, but they were just molested, so… you know, still wrong but less wrong.”
Oh. Right.
Less of an apple than an apple, then.
After all, on the universally accepted sexual trauma scale, molestation is only a 4.5 and rape is a 9, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, amirite?

That line of reasoning is flawed and here is why: when you have been violated (in any way, but we’re going to focus on sexual violation for today’s awkward roundtable), that violation isn’t centered in the physical part of you that was harmed. Just like any trauma, it travels (figuratively speaking) like food coloring in a glass of water and, if left unchecked, it will infect every part of you… your decision-making skills, your ability to connect with other humanoids, your enjoyment of perfectly innocent things. Being violated is a disruptive shock to the system and it can (unless there’s a strong intervention) change the way that a person views themselves and everyone around them… particularly when the victim is a child.


I was molested by my father for four years, give or take it.
I was not raped, I did not have PTSD, nor do I not find the presence of tall black men who look like a mash-up of Uncle Ben and Louis Gossett, Jr. triggering.


Hey, dad. How’s the rice business?**

It was, however, traumatic and it changed things.
Lots of things.
Significant things and tiny things and things that I’m still uncovering.
Although, I was very much the same physically, I was not the same mentally and emotionally, and the person that I would have been if the abuse had not happened is dead. I don’t say that with a dramatic flourish (let’s face it, I couldn’t flourish my way of out of a wet paper bag)… I simply mean that, despite the fact that my abuse did not take the form of rape, it did do significant damage as abuse always does.*

As a primary victim, do you know what I’m not allowed to do? I’m not allowed to point at someone who was emotionally harmed by a parent and say, “Well, your harm wasn’t sexual, so I win.” I don’t get to sing “My pain’s bigger than your pain.” Likewise, a victim of parental rape doesn’t get to walk up to my trauma and say, “Hey, at least your dad didn’t rape you. Surrender all your trauma points, noob.”
Being violated is violating, regardless of who did it and how and how often. Details do not determine, nor do they trump, the extent of an emotional injury. Pain is pain, in the same way that apples are apples, and words like “better” and “worse” have no functional meaning when you’re talking about abuse and assault and trauma and victimization and all of the other words we use to describe horrible, distressing things. You don’t get to say “it wasn’t that bad” or “at least it wasn’t…” or “it could have been worse.” The only person who gets to determine the extent of the damage is the person that it happened to.
Full stop.

*I did go to counseling (saw a lovely woman whose name I DO NOT REMEMBER AND THAT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE AN AWFUL PERSON), and God and I have worked through a vast number of things. I imagine that we’ll work through quite a bit more… but healing can and does happen.

** Image from http://cosblog.cosmelentertainment.com/2014/09/15/the-mother-brain-files-underrated-actors-special-louis-gossett-jr/

I Might Have Made You a Mix. Whatever.

My hair refuses to dry because it’s humid.
It’s humid indoors.
Do you know what indoor humidity means?
DO YOU?!?!
That means that it’s hot, people.
Already.
Is that normal? Does this usually happen in May? Is the sun trying to kill us? Are we doomed?

Anyway, because it’s hot, I… um… well, I made you guys a mixtape.
Yeah… it’s not a big deal.
I just… um… well, here.
I mean, you probably won’t like it, but… okay.
Whatever.*

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 12.01.49 PM

*I was homeschooled, okay? I don’t know how nervous teenagers talk. GOSH.

… but it didn’t make sense.

OKAY.
I know that, in my last post, I said I’d be blogging regularly again after taking nearly a year off… but you would not believe how much I’ve been sleeping. Basically, I have been sleeping instead of writing.
You also would not believe how much I’ve been working out.
You also would not believe how delicious a good cucumber salad is. Cucumber salad is pure bliss. I don’t know why we’re all not eating it RIGHT NOW.

There’s an old saying that’s been ringing through my mind as I’ve been processing the last year: When it rains, it pours. As a child, I always found that saying to be entirely foolish, because all of my bones are literal bones, and I kept thinking, “Well, duh… when it rains, it could also be ‘pouring’, because ‘pouring’ means ‘a rather hard rain‘, does it not? That’s rather obvious, isn’t it? Who came up with this saying and why is that person so stupid?”
In addition to my being a literal-minded child, I also wasn’t especially nice.
As I have matured, however, I’ve come to understand figurative speech, and that particular old saying has pretty much defined May of 2014 to May of 2015… because apparently, everything and everyone decides to try and KILL YOU when you’re completing a degree.
God help those earning a doctorate, you poor, sweet fools.

In the midst of more unexpected kookiness than I was expecting, multiple things that emerged from dark corners to distract me, and a host of family emergencies, I also slammed into a HUGE milestone last year at exactly the same time that I started my studies (TIMING!):
I met my first boyfriend.
He saw me across a crowded room, sussed out my personal information, and arranged to be introduced (albeit virtually, since he did not live in town). It was all very flattering, and slightly romantic, if you were ever the type to swoon and fall madly in love with Rossano Brazzi while he was singing “Some Enchanted Evening” in “South Pacific.”

*sigh* *heart explodes*
We conversed, and met, and after awhile, changed relationship statuses on Facebook, which triggered an almost alarming chorus of fervent congratulations which made me feel horribly and desperately overwhelmed and in need of a place to hide.
Seven months later, I broke up with my first boyfriend.
He was not abusive and I did (do) not hate him… but we were just not right for each other, a fact that became increasingly obvious to me over time. When the end came, I explained my feelings and convictions on the topic, and was left quite befuddled by the fact that he did not agree with me.

Sidebar: That was a weird, new-ish experience for me.
I mean… I don’t know… people usually agree with me, and having not done “the dating thing” before, and being an INTJ (or perhaps just an insensitive jerk), I assumed that once one had rationally concluded that there was no future in the thing, everyone else would naturally come to the same conclusion and just… stop.
Apparently… that assumption is incorrect. Apparently, I date like a Vulcan.
But, incorrect assumptions aside, here I sit on the other side of my first relationship, ya’ll, so… um… I suppose that’s progress.
Is it? I have no idea.

The official narrative is that I’m truly grateful for everything that happened, because I learned an immense amount about myself… what I like, what I don’t like… how I feel about certain things… what I want, don’t want, and couldn’t possibly care less about. I’m astonished at how much better I know my own mind, having been challenged on a number of topics and having been forced to define some of my more vague stances.

On the subject of bicycles:
I do not want to learn to ride a bike. I do not like them.
I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
As you can see, I feel very strongly about this
.

I also confirmed that I still hate answering phones. Phones are still the worst.
I’ve learned that, as much as I don’t care for, or particularly enjoy, being single (and not just because of tight spaghetti sauce lids and the never-ending onslaught from the spider community, although those things do plague me to no end), one really has to be with the right person (or one of a group of people of equivalent right… um… ness [I hate that word. That word is awful]). No matter how compatible two people may seem on paper, there’s a particular… blessing, let’s call it, that rests on two people who really should be together. I look at my married friends and there’s a rightness (I refuse to believe that’s a real word, but I also refuse to change it, because I am like the wind and you cannot contain me) to their relationships, no matter how much they might disagree or have opposing Myers-Briggs profiles, or seem like oil and water made flesh. Together, they make sense… even if, in some cases, it’s an irrational “how the heck are you guys even surviving each other, let alone enjoying this chaos” sort-of sense that runs contrary to all the laws of reason that I understand.

I suppose that’s my hope now… that one day, I will, making as much sense as I can by myself, met a guy who makes a certain amount of sense himself, and together we will make a perfectly respectable, not-too-shabby amount of sense together.

If not, one always makes sense with cats.
Cats are imminently sensible creatures, I find.

I’m Alive!

image005Ah, sweet delicious freedom.
One week ago Monday, I finished the last final for my graduate program… promptly turned off the computer… curled into the fetal position… and fell into a sleep mimicking death.
Now, my coma was partly because I was a trifle under the weather, what with nature being rather a hateful wench in the spring, but it was also partly because I haven’t been able to easily and completely sink into the arms of sweet Morpheus (NOT LAURENCE FISHBURNE, THANK YOU) since I started grad school last year. Even during holidays, plotting was required and working ahead was needed and I was, entirely by choice and mostly contentedly, buried up to my hairline in due dates and projects and work.

 

But now… it’s over.
I have done it.
Do you know what this means?

I can marathon episodes of “Forever Knight” for lazy days upon lazy days, without worrying that my lack of studiousness is going to result in failing a class… and thus failing my degree program… and consequently failing in life at large… which (of course) would snowball into eventually being forced to live in an intricate system of labyrinthine tunnels that run underneath the city and house mostly homeless people, plus one ginormous lion person named Vincent (who sounds suspiciously like Ron Perlman).

If I’m honest, that is not my worst-case scenario.
Nowhere near it, in fact.
My worst-case scenario involves spiders, Pennywise, and James Franco… but my best-case scenario involved graduating.
And I have done that.
SO, now I am free as the proverbial… erm… free… thing… to get back the business of regularly writing nonsensical blog posts, learning Spanish, studying shipwrecks and Hadrian’s Wall, sewing my own trousers (because people with the proportions of giraffes are devilish hard to fit), and looking into the possibility of starting a tidy little consulting side-business (emphasis on tidy, emphasis on little).

For today, however, I’m pretty much just going to sit here and watch “Forever Knight.”
Broody, Canadian vampires are the best.