Monday, October 29, 2012

My Left Brain and Right Brain Cannot Coexist. Yay.

So I had no actual idea that it was nearly November. This is how incredibly devoid of a time-tracking ability I have. I used to think I had a decent grasp on what a minute was, but as I've gotten older, I have realized that a minute could mean multiple things to me: sixty seconds, five minutes, or ten hours. I don't do it on purpose, but it does tend to frustrate more time-conscious people (*coughDADcough*). In the past, I've arrived at a mutually agreed upon location only to be met with crossed arms and angry stares.

Me: What? I'm here!
People: Seriously? You were supposed to be here three hours ago. The movie's already done. 
Me: But we could go to another one! Or ... we could just sit around and glare.*
I may use this expression a lot.
Okay, it's not actually that bad, although now most of my friends are like, "Oh, we can just start. She'll be here whenever." And even sometimes, they do have to call me to make sure that I wasn't distracted by whatever mental shiny that might have crossed my path.

And it just gets worse when I'm focused on something, be that Sims 3, writing, or taking a "quick thirty minute nap," from which I awake seven hours later in the middle of the night with no way in hell of getting back to sleep. It doesn't even help to have a clock of any kind** because I forget the numbers that were there before and hope that I haven't gone over my time limit.

What is bizarre is that, in some other areas of my life, I am almost hyper-in tune with time management. When I was at DHS, I knew the exact date of three Fridays from now, how many hours I had left until a certain deadline, could schedule my day down to the second so I could get all of the necessary tasks done, etc. I was not Me at work, though; I was some sort of weird automaton that ceased to exist when I exited the front doors of that accursed building. Ever since quitting, I've tried to channel that aspect of myself to get shit other than "write all day, wheeee!" done. It's been hard. No, nigh impossible. 

But this has actually shown me something about myself: I cannot function as a time-conscious Meticulaton (TM) at the same time that I'm in a creative frame of mind. I just can't. I also can't be in one state for too long, since I burn out, sometimes more quickly than others. So I did some experimentation over the past few days, which served as kind of a mini-vacation. Three was also on an annoying schedule of three 12-hour shifts in a row, so I didn't really have him as a time meter, which was kind of how I'd been operating since I quit DHS. Now, as I have discovered, it turns out that I am very effective when I am in one or the other mindset. I do prefer the right brainy, imaginative side a bit more than the left brainy, by-the-book side, although I've discovered that I am very good at cleaning and frugal interior design. Shocking, I know, to my family members who claim I know not of such things. 
Humberto, the newest low-budget decoration: a elephant piggy bank, bought from Goodwill for like $1. She has a certain charm, yes? Just say she does, and we can all walk away happy.
On Three's first day of his three-day stretch, I stayed awake all night and rearranged our living/bedroom***. What? I had to stay occupied somehow. 

Now, the official story behind this is that Comcast gave us a deal on our internet/cable package sometime last week, although they didn't really explain it very well. Three was called by one of their representatives, who told him that they'd upgraded our internet speed for free (thanks?), and then two days later, we got a cable box. Both of us were confused and also annoyed, since we didn't ask for cable, but when Three called to straighten things out, we were told that the price was the same but that we now also had cable (again, thanks?). If we chose to keep just the internet, we'd still pay the full price, which still kind of baffles me but at the same time is kind of a good business move. But anyway, our coaxial cable didn't go all the way to our TV (the router and internet box thingy was under our bed), so I realized that, in order to hook up the new cable box, I'd have to move all the furniture. It took about three hours, but at the end of that three hours, the living area actually looked better than it did before (again, thanks, Comcast?). But then I had one coaxial cable and two boxes and I was just all, "Whatever, guys, Imma go draw something."
And I did it without the mustache. How badass am I?
And you know what? I got on a roll. None of it is anything I want to show anyone, but I made some definite progress in character sketches. Another interesting aspect of this whole thing was that, while I definitely was aware of how much time had passed during the Epic Rearranging of 2012, I was even less aware of how much time had passed when I was drawing - more than normal. Three came home and I was simultaneously thrilled that he was there, baffled that he was home early, and then sheepish that I hadn't realized that I'd been in Jujuheadland for nearly eight hours straight. 

I guess it's never too late to learn more about how you operate, right? And it's kind of cool to think that one part of the brain uses certain outside sensory**** information while the other just about refuses to acknowledge its existence. Or maybe it can't or just doesn't realize what it's missing. Apparently, humans know pretty much nothing about the brain; we can't even really explain what headaches are. And that doesn't even touch the concept of how our brain actually perceives things and ... I'm going to have to stop before I start referencing state vector collapse and Dr. Michio Kaku, who I really believe may just be the most awesome person alive. 
Neo only wishes he were this cool. Look, he doesn't even have to look at the water to make it float in midair!
What's great is that I now know how to optimize productivity, and I even enjoy doing the left brain activities while I'm doing them. I've always known that I have to be in the right mood to switch out of my very right brain mode, but I never really knew why or when my next bout of Extreme Cleaning was going to rear its head. And now I do. I call this a win/win. 

Now, back to writing. I've made a few breakthroughs, which I'm actually going to be writing about here fairly soon. And that's totally not meant as an attempt to get you back here to boost the number of views for my blog. 

* Much thanks to "Once More with Feeling," my second favorite episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The first, of course, being "Restless," the season four finale. 

** Especially this kind: 
I mean, seriously?? How in the hell am I supposed to read that quickly? Or at all? I have to do the math in my head, and I'm a right brained person. Needless to say, this math-in-head thing rarely ends well. Just ask my sister about the "47" story. 
*** We treat our one-bedroom apartment like a studio with a separate office.
**** If you can really sense time? Can you really? Other than by the seemingly mutually decided lengths of time that humans have created? Hmmm, deep thoughts. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stay Inside All the Time OR Interact with People Only If It's Online

Since becoming a self-employed writer in September, I have been, as you say, a hermit. Part of the problem is that the husband and I have a single car*, but I do have access to the bus and, although everything is about a fifteen- to thirty-minute walk away, I can get out of the house.

However, much like a dog, I apparently need socialization training on a regular basis. I've been pretty much home-bound hermit for coming up on two months, and you'd think that it wouldn't affect me as much as it has. I've turned into a Grade A Snarky Bitch in public. Nearly everything irritates me, which, to be completely fair to myself, isn't really something new; but it is so much more prominent a reaction.
These ladies live inside my brain.
Take the other day where I had commandeered Chiquita for the day. I was going to accomplish shit, like shop for groceries, get some watercolor supplies**, Christmas-present-idea-browse at Target***, etc. And by God, I did it, but not with some very, very good examples as to why I probably need to get out more and remember how to deal with jackasses.

First of all, a lady - in an effort to get from behind an old lady who couldn't quite recall why she was at the grocery store in the first place - hit me with her cart. This was about two minutes after I had gotten in the damned place and had just nearly been hit by a vehicle outside because hahahahaha he was on his cell phone, so I was having none of this. She got an ear-full of why she was an impatient asshole and why she should probably look before she whipped her cart into some random person who had no inclination of letting her get away with it. Granted, I was also pissed because she was mad at me for getting in her way. If she had been apologetic, I probably wouldn't have gone off on her. Probably.
I said probably. Not definitely.
Then, about thirty minutes later****, I wheeled my cart into the self-checker thingy and speedily scanned my groceries, spending less than I expected to and happy about it. But then, literally five seconds (and I use literal in the literal sense) after I paid for my merchandise, this bitch comes up from behind me and starts to try to check her shit out. I look at her and then meaningfully glance at my bags that are still on the carousel, but she does the sassy white girl tap-your-foot dance that just makes my blood boil. And seriously, I only have like five bags. It won't take that long. You'd think she'd learn the first time the computer voice yelled at her for trying to scan her own purchases, but nope. I'm on my third bag (and trying to move quickly because, even though I'm pissed, I'm still courteous), and she tries again.

"Please remove all merchandise from the [whatever you call it] before you try again," comes the cheery mechanical voice.

The girl then again starts tapping her foot, and I'm just fed up.

"You can wait," I said, putting my hands on my hips.

She got embarrassed and looked away. I had to fight the urge to flip my middle finger out at her as I walked away, but I had success in that arena. But then a small child runs in front of my cart at full speed, and his mom glares at me. I was about :thisclose: to smacking her, but instead, I said, "Your child nearly hit my cart. Please rein it in."

I don't believe she appreciated it. But whatever. It did almost hit my cart.*****

Now, this was my first place to go, so the rest of humanity was not going to fare well in the rest of my outing.  I went home to recharge a bit, and to make sure that my meat didn't get all gross in the car while I went about the rest of my day. Although I'm not sure which was more important to me at that point: the solace or the non-festering meats.

After spending some time with non-humans (Zola, Kitkat, and Bina), I ventured back out into Humanland and went to the library branch that's closest to my apartment, which is normally one of my favorite places to go. It's small and not a lot of people use it since my area of town is kind of slowly dying; the selection isn't that great, sadly, unless you count children's books. And I don't because I don't read them at this time. I had ordered a copy of Year Zero to be sent there once it was available and I'd gotten an email the day before, letting me know it had arrived. Yay!! Except that everybody was going to the community center for early voting, and the community center is - yep, you guessed it! - right next to the library. To be completely honest, I don't know how I forgot about that, but I'm blaming it on my mental state. I got in and out of the library pretty quickly, which I found odd because I was able to find parking with no problem, but then everyone and their mother was like, "ZOMG TO THE COMMUNITY CENTER HOOOOO!" Three cars were vying for my parking spot, and of course, that made it nigh impossible to maneuver out of the spot. I had to go walk to the last person in the line and ask them to back up so the cars in front of them could so I could get out and dear GOD it was a mess. I got the hell out of there, attempting to avoid clueless pedestrians.

Which, okay, aside.

Pedestrians. I get it. If you're in a parking lot, you more often than not have the right of way. I do get that. But this does not mean you should walk in the center of the aisle/lane/whatever you call it. Or that you should walk diagonally to your destination. Please. You are being assholes. And that's why drivers have to tell themselves not to hit you out of spite, minus the arrest warrant that would ensue. Also, pay attention. And corral your children.
Remember what pisses you off as a driver? Yeah, don't do that as a pedestrian. PROBLEM SOLVED.
End aside.

So, after that fun experience - and I actually pat myself on the back for not being a complete bitch to every single person in that line of cars - I head to Michael's, the only craft store in Bellevue and the only store that carried soap supplies until recently grrrrrr, and I'm almost immediately annoyed. As I'm pulling into a parking spot, this woman, who had parked in the spot directly opposite from the one I was pulling into, started driving forward even though I was already halfway in. She then started waving her hand for me to move, but I put my car in park then crossed my arms. It was a staring match, but I was like, "Bitch, I will get out of my car and go into Michael's right now. I have nothing to lose here." My car was already fully into the spot since, ha, it's an Aveo and is pretty much half a car. Eventually, she figured it wasn't worth it, flailed her arms, and then backed out. I pulled up a little further and went in, luckily only encountering some annoying crafters who were arguing over the color of a particular ribbon.

"It's pink!"
"Well, what kind of pink?"
"Who cares?"
"I do! It might not match the pink that's on the dress!"
"You mean the tiny spots of pink that I thought were white?"

It kind of reminded me of an interaction between an instructor and a fellow student from one of my art classes in college. The student said purple and the instructor flipped the fuck out, "YOU DON'T EVER CALL IT PURPLE. IT'S VIOLET!! I WILL FAIL YOU IF YOU CALL IT PURPLE AGAIN." About half of the class dropped and the teacher wasn't there after that semester.

When I checked out, purchasing a new watercolor palette (which I will be trying sometime this week! Eeeee!), I chose the closest line, which I immediately regretted. The woman who was at the front of the line had an adorable little girl who was just being a little girl, but her mom?
Resisting. Urge. To. Maim. 
She spoke to her daughter like she was a pet. Not even a dog; I'm thinking more hamster. But she had brought this entire cart up there and was only purchasing a quarter of it. I think it was to appease her daughter or something, who totally didn't seem to care and was more focused on trying to get attention from the very obviously bored cashier. And she was making the cashier come out from behind the counter to grab things from the cart that she wasn't buying, which again was essentially all of it. She walked out of there with one bag and a gleefully oblivious little girl. Then the lady in front of me, understandably aggravated, was just downright rude to the cashier, who was only moderately affected by this woman. 

"You should have told her that now she had to buy all that stuff or go put it back," the woman said to the poor cashier, whose response was a, "Yeah."

But then it devolved into this five-minute name-calling thing, where the woman was calling the cashier incompetent. "You obviously can't deal with difficult customers."

And of course, my bitchy self said, "Like you?"

The woman turned to me with this snarl but my expression was enough to make her realize that any retaliation was unnecessary. 
I'm not quite as Sassy Will Smith as I'd like to be, but I'm honing my skillz.
 I headed home after that encounter, even though I had planned on going to Target. I just didn't have enough energy to deal with people any longer. And Target is notorious for being replete with morons that bother me. Honestly, I was a little worn out emotionally and psychically, and once I get that way, I just know that I won't be able to hold my tongue. At all. The majority of my outbursts that day were tame compared to some I've given in the past. I guess having the constant respite of being home by myself, save for the husbeast or the animals, has lowered my ability to handle people. 

Which, I mean, I kinda care? But kinda don't? It just gives me an excuse to not be around them, which I think is ultimately a win. 
Damn, now I want a cigar. DAMN YOU, STARBUCK.
Now, I suppose the crux of all of this is that I don't actually hate people. I am, after all, a person. I have my group of friends and I, in general, enjoy connecting with others. Despite the fact I am mostly an introvert, having interpersonal relationships is very important to me. But I like that sort of contact to be in between bouts of Me Time. 

So the moral of the story is for me to remain a hermit and do all of my shopping online, followed up with small dinner parties and one-on-one get-togethers. It works out for me and the rest of the population at large. Plus, Three really likes grocery shopping (I told you he was weird), so I don't even have to do that. I have a free pass to not deal with people! 

Also: I love Louis C.K. He just seems to get me. 

* Although honestly, this is probably a good thing because I would go to Target and buy all the things and we would have nowhere to live. But a lot of nice drapes and funky cleaning supplies.
** This is my new obsession. Just watch this video and tell me it doesn't make you want to paint with watercolors:
This girl has an entire series and I have watched them all at least ten times each. LOVE. 
*** I'm doing Santamoose again this year, which YAY! So excited. And I know that my mom will be sending me email requests (in addition to in person, because she's efficient like that) for a Christmas list for both me and Three (who has no desire to get presents, but there's a story behind that one). I want to be ahead this year, damnit.
**** The whole time, I was That Person in the grocery store. I eyerolled and loudly sighed and was generally curmudgeonly towards every person I encountered, except an equally curmudgeonly old man who only wanted to buy some canned ham. He was my spirit animal. And I even helped him find the best deal, since he didn't have his glasses with him (I was hoping they were in his car, because damn, if he drove without them? That's a scary thought.), and he was appreciative.
***** I honestly can't remember what gender the child was, but I purposefully called it an "it." And no, I do not care.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

T&A Poses Not Wanted, M'kay?

I draw and paint, in addition to writing. I don't do it as often as I would like, and I was beginning to wonder if my skills were gradually degrading with time. I don't know the half-life, of course, and that's as far as I'm going with that joke. Go research; learn things. Be a nerd. We don't bite.

Anyway, I wanted to go ahead and get some images ready for the launch of the website that will go along with my stories (12/1 ZOMG*), and I figured, what the hell, I can create the pictures and not have to pay someone else to do it. Because I'm poor. And also because I'm kind of a raging control freak when it comes to my work. Now, I have a pretty good imagination and have a decent knowledge of how bodies are put together, but I wanted to get something concrete to look at, and at 2:14A, it's a little difficult to go find living people. So to the internet I went.

Finding images for men was pretty easy for the most part. Only one of my main male characters is white, so there was a plethora of options for him: plenty of poses, settings, and expressions. For the other male characters, it was a little harder (I want to get the ethnic part right here, guys, and that's another topic for another time), but still, the variety was there, at least when it came to positions.

I, however, was not as lucky with the women, most of whom are fighters of some kind (hand to hand demon slayer, captain of a ship, highly trained assassin, etc.). I was happy if I found an image that didn't have the woman looking like she wanted to bone whatever she could get her hands on, and that included her sword. Seriously, I counted no fewer than 15 pictures in three minutes of searching where a woman was licking her fucking sword**. LICKING. HER. SWORD. Because that's what you do?
That's not dangerous at all. Also, impeccable eye makeup. For a Viking, I guess?
The fact that women are treated horribly by media, video games, comics, and the like is not a new idea. It's been talked about forever. Well, as long as I can remember, and that was before the internet. So I know. But this just borders on ludicrous.
Armor? What's that? Arm or what? Shut up and look at my fantastic hair. Which can get in the way of fighting, but whatever, look at my fantastic hair. 
And don't even get me started on the women who aren't white. Because really, if it isn't fetishized beyond belief (case in point):
I'm not even sure what's going on here. Is she shitting? Leaning over to grab something off screen? This was labeled as Asian Warrior but I'm a bit flummoxed as to how she is a warrior here. It's the boots?
What the shit is this? It's like Josephine Baker was given furry Uggs (without the soles) and dreadlocks.  Also, of COURSE, there's the tits and ass pose. OF COURSE THERE IS. 
or you're just down and out whitewashed:
You are not even Asian. You are Tom Cruise. 
As I tried searching through Shutterstock and Dreamstime further, hoping with all the hope I had left in me that I would find something usable***, this was me:

Women (with guns, swords, or just standing there in camo for some reason) were paraded around, some with crimped hair**** and others with skimpy chain mail, posed like they were prepping for some LARP porn shoot.

Thankfully, my good friend Southpaw reminded me of blogs like Fuck Yeah Warrior Women, which kind of restored my faith in artists. Mostly. I mean, I don't ask for much. Just pictures of women fighters who aren't wearing pink boxing gloves, high heels, armor that only covers their nipples and crotches, and pounds of makeup. My character does not exist for you to wank off to, and by God, if she's going to be fighting demons, she's going to have decent clothing in which to do so.
I can totally see this as Ren (it's actually the fabulously talented sanya's interpretation of Katniss from The Hunger Games). Except maybe not the bow. Ren's more of a cut-a-bitch kinda gal. 
This still leaves me with very little to draw inspiration from, considering my next stop would be my collection of magazines. But I really don't want to stare at bone thin models who could barely lift the twin set of knives my main character uses. I guess I could draw the guys first, but damnit, I want to draw Ren.

:grumpy face:

Sigh, back to the internet. Oooooh, maybe I'll look at Xena pictures!

* And I'm doing it all myself, so you can't bitch at me because it doesn't look professional or whatever. I mean, I guess you can? But it would be fruitless. It'd be like making fun of me for not understanding a ridiculously complex physics equation, or me making fun of you because you thought I was referring to a video game franchise above. 
** Don't Google this. Why, do you ask? Porn. Unless you want to look at porn. Then, go ahead. Have fun. Lots of penises await you.
*** Which I did. Four images. FOUR. After six hours.
**** Crimped hair. Really, photographer/makeup artist/hairstylist? The girl was supposed to be a Scotsman (hahaha loosely based, as she wore a short Catholic school girl kilt) from, like, forever ago, and she had crimped hair. Sure, she did.

Friday, October 12, 2012

If I could post Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope snarling as the title, I totally would.

Very few things piss me off as badly as the following situation: 

Me: Lalalalalala, my dog is so cute. We're just walking, minding our own business.
Lady: (scowly face) There is a bulldog that is clearly vicious because "bull" is in its name and there is also "bull" in "pit bull" so they must be the same thing and I have an adorable and cuddly totally non-aggressive rat terrier that will probably be EATEN by the pitbulldog EVIL THING.
Me: The fuck? Why is that little shit biting my dog who was doing absolutely nothing?
Me: The fuck? Were you even watching?? Your dog deliberately came up to my dog, who I was pulling closer to me with her lead while you were letting your lead get more lax and seriously, get off your phone. And also, she's not a pit bull. Get your dog the fuck away from mine.
Lady: I will report your dog to the office!
Me: Hahahaha, go ahead? My dog has bite marks on her face and yours doesn't. We'll see what happens.
Lady: ... Well.
Me: Yeah, get the hell away from me.

End scene.

I have no problem disciplining Zola in front of other people and am not at all assuaged by her cute face when she misbehaves in public. But she is the least aggressive dog I have ever met. Ever. The cats terrorize her and eat out of her bowl (she just waits patiently until they are either done or I realize what's going on and shoo them away to their own food bowls) and take her spot on the bed, but she doesn't respond most of the time. And when she does, it's with a frustrated yelp, which is immediately followed by her running to me and looking at me plaintively. When she gets excited, she's difficult to control, so I bought a choke collar that I don't necessarily like using but it gets the job done. I'm currently working on training her to FOCUS but it's not been super successful because her attention span is about as long as ... well, it's not very long.

So when we were out walking the other day, I made sure to keep her attention by talking to her and showing her the training treats I had in my hand. It was working pretty well. Then the rat terrier happened. She was standing there at attention with her head cocked to one side, curious about this newcomer. She looked at me like, "The fuck is that thing?" and then decided that her desire to pee/poop/walk around in the grass sniffing things was more fun than trying to understand this little dog that somehow was pulling his owner (seriously, it couldn't have been more than like 10 pounds) toward us. As dogs do, she let the terrier sniff her face while she wagged her tail, and then BAM, it bit the shit out of her face.

I pulled Zola away and just kind of stared at the lady, who abruptly put her phone to her shoulder (still talking) and tugged her dog back to her with this unholy glare at Zola. Who still, by the way, hadn't done anything, even in retaliation. But whatever.

This woman and I are not friends to say the least. She walks the other way with her little shit when I bring Zola out to go to the bathroom, and it amuses me when she scowls the whole time. I laughed at her yesterday, which I think embarrassed her. And good. She should be embarrassed. She has not trained her dog because he is small and supposedly easy to handle.

Well, guess what, lady? Small dogs are usually the least behaved for a few reasons, one being that owners think their behavior is cute. It's not. If it isn't acceptable for a larger dog to do what your dog just did, then it's not acceptable period. Do you ever watch Cesar Milan? Because you totally should*.

It's just so frustrating to see that some people own dogs. They want them as accessories (thanks, Paris Hilton) or trophies, and often, they treat them as though they are humans. I love to talk about Zola in an anthropomorphised way, but I understand that she is a dog. She needs training, attention, discipline, etc. She also has instincts that will supersede any training I have given her. Now, given that Zola is a bulldog that has been bred to be dependent on humans**, it's more likely that she'd die in a survival situation, but her canine nature would still come to the surface. Her reaction would probably be more flight rather than fight, which is okay with me. She'd last a lot longer that way.

Some people don't read into the breeds they choose or they don't try to find out the possible breeds their mix has. Honestly, I wish I had done more research into bulldogs before getting Zola, but she was cute and spunky and I was 24 and wanted a puppy. If I had to do it over again, I would have gotten a shelter dog, like my sister did with her new dog, Cupcake. But don't tell Zola. She'll be crushed. Anyway, after I bought her, I did a ton of reading about the breed: while not aggressive, they are extremely stubborn, so you need to have a strong personality to properly train one, and they don't necessarily drool all the time like mastiffs, only when they exert themselves. They also have "active digestive systems," which is just nice talk for "they shit and fart rancid smells all the time." They don't need a lot of exercise, which makes them perfect for people that aren't as active (although I'm an avid outdoorsy person, so it always hurts when I'm going for a long walk and I have to leave Zola at home - but don't worry, I take her out afterwards and we play).

But this woman apparently didn't understand where terriers come from. Terriers are fuckers. Sure, they're cute and pocket-sized and will bounce with joy when you get home (Zola does the same thing but for a lot less time because she gets worn out), but they were bred to be active and aggressive hunters. I'm not saying you can't have one; you can. But train the damned thing. Get it socialized with other dogs and people. When it starts to misbehave, remove it from the situation (and apologize for not controlling your dog); praise it when it behaves properly. Don't blame other dog owners for your dog's behavior. It pisses us off. And makes us happy that we call your dog a kick-me. If it gets to the point where you know your dog cannot be in the vicinity of other dogs and/or people, don't let it or limit its interactions as best you can.

For instance, I don't bring Zola to the dog park any longer because she's excitable and not all dogs respond well to her overeager, galloping ZOMG FRIIIEEEEENNNND?? approach. I take her on walks in the regular park, but I cannot let her run around like a crazy person without worrying about another dog reacting poorly to her enthusiasm, hurting themselves, other people, or Zola herself. Now, part of the reason, too, is that I know other people like this terrier lady bring their dogs to the dog park. One of the last times we went, a boxer lost its shit. Luckily, it had nothing to do with Zola, who was still on her leash at the time, but this woman was being forced out by the other owners after she admitted, "Oh, he's a nice dog. He just reacts when he's startled!" Her definition of reaction was, "Oh, he just gets a little jumpy," when it was really, "Oh, he lashes out at everything within five feet of him when anything that isn't his owner comes close to him." She was all teary eyed as she put the lead on him, but seriously? You're going to bring your dog, who you know freaks out at the slightest provocation, to an area where you cannot control most of his environment? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen, lady.

Also, it seems that people forget that dogs can read people's emotions very well. Zola seems to know when I want to be left alone (she's still there but she's at my feet and pretty much chill) or when I am in play-with-me mode. I'm also comfortable around pretty much all dogs. I grew up with a miniature schnauzer, Booshka (that little brat of a dog), then a farm-bred Weimeraner named Cocoa and a fluffy corgi named Maggie***. We lived around people that had dogs, and my sister and I became friends with neighborhood dogs (Molly the English sheepdog, Abby the Doberman pinscher, etc.). So I'm not frightened of dogs at all. I can tell if a dog is aggressive, but I also know how to handle myself around them. They respond to alpha behavior, which my dad (thanks, Daddy) taught me. This rat terrier woman's fear of Zola's "pit bullishness" was just transferring the agitation to her dog, who wanted to defend her. I can't really blame the dog**** because it was just responding to his owner's stupidly placed emotions and maybe thought it was protecting her. I still wanted to kick the little shit into the air like a football. Have I mentioned that I dislike terriers?

Ultimately, all of this is due to ignorance. Or stupidity, depending on how you think of it. There are plenty of ways to learn about dogs and their instincts: online, libraries, other dog owners, PetSmart/Petco. There's not really an excuse for having an ill-mannered pooch any longer. And no, "I'm a passive moron who shouldn't own a dog regardless" is not an excuse. I suppose that isn't going to stop people from buying dogs they can't control or eventually don't want because, wait, it needs food? Attention? I can't just hire someone to play with it? What is this fuckery?? TO THE POUND WITH YOU, YOU LEECH. YOU DON'T EVEN PAY RENT*****.

So, class, what have we learned? Research before you buy (also a good consumer tip). Train your dog. Know your dog's limitations. Know your own limitations (also a good life tip). Don't let your dog bite other dogs' faces.

Class dismissed.

* I now want to find her apartment number and leave her a copy of "Cesar's Way" on her doorstep.
** Purebred bulldogs have to be artificially inseminated because male and female genitalia do not fit together, and when the puppies are born, they have to be taken out via c-section because the puppies' heads are too big than to fit through the vaginal canal. YAY HUMANS. Zola is half Olde English Bulldogge and half English bulldog, so she doesn't have a lot of these problems. She's also spayed, so no puppies for her, anyway.
*** Her original name was Stoli because I had a weird fixation for naming my pets after alcohol. Don't ask. I don't really know, either.
**** Except that I totally do, because I fucking hate terriers. If I wanted to deal with high-pitched yips and aggressive snaps at my heels, I'd watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo or whatever that show is called. 
***** I may have threatened Zola with this after she threw up for a fifth time in ten minutes because she drank too much water and then got excited because ... I don't know. Maybe she thought I was going to pet her or something? She's a weird dog. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Now back to your regular programming ... kind of?

Okay, so after a pretty hefty amount of emotional baggage was vomited onto my blog with the last post, I figured I'd cleanse my palate (and yours, YOU ARE WELCOME) with happy things.

Firstly, I cleaned the shit out of my back room. Well, according to my mother, my back room should be our bedroom. But I say, FIE.

1) We never invite anyone over.
2) I like being able to play video games in bed.
3) The only TV that's worth anything is in the living room. The other is in the back room because it is a piece of crap.
4) The back room also serves as my office space.
5) We barely have enough furniture to fit all the rooms.
6) Who cares? It's my fucking apartment.

This is not to say that I will not arrange a new apartment differently. In March, we are most likely going to be moving closer to Three's job, and by that time, I may be hankering for something new. Who knows? Either way, it was nice to have a clean work space. It's kind of amazing how a simple UFYH makes your productivity soar.

Anyway, second, I gave Zola a bath today, which is always an ordeal. I'm fairly sure that, in a past life, Zola was drowned or something, because baths? Even the mere mention of the concept and she hightails it out of sight. Or at least until she forgets about the word "bath" and wants pets. Then again, she is a bulldog, and water on her face sends her into a flurry; apparently, she thinks she's going to die if a droplet gets anywhere near her nose.

But whatever. So I bathed her, right? Well, I don't remember if I've talked about Three's magical power known as "getting water everywhere," but I believe it's apropos to this current discourse. Three really does seem to be able to invoke some type of deluge every time he gets in the bathtub. He's a water boy and likes to soak in the tub after a long day, which I don't really mind. Until he gets out. Or forgets the face wash on the sink counter. Or wants to talk to me and forgets to dry off*. I almost feel like I need to be present with buckets and plenty of towels in hand. But bathing Zola? Just imagine the aftermath of Three bathing and then a monsoon happens: that was the result. I wasn't even sure if I could get it all off of the floor and the walls, and for the rest of today, I've been inspecting the bathroom for remaining puddles. And it's not just the bathroom. She managed to escape from the tub (prior to getting any soap on her, thank GOD), so I had to carry wet, stinky dog back to the bathroom, cursing the whole way and assuming that everyone in the building thought I was abusing my dog. Then came the thrashing about, and can I just say that this dog is fucking strong? I had to use every ounce of strength to get her under the water stream to rinse of the doggie shampoo, and keeping her there for an extended period of time? Ha. There's a reason this took nearly a damned hour.

On the plus side, she smells nice. Win?

Third, I've come up with a list of movies & TV shows that I will be watching for the next few weeks as ~~**~~~{inspiration}~~~**~~ for the upcoming fun that is NaNoWriMo**, and I gotta say, I'm pretty fucking excited. It involves kickass ladies (Xena: Warrior Princess, La Femme Nikita***, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Seasons 5 - 7, Bandidas, etc.), horror films (From Dusk til Dawn****, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, The Sentinal, Dracula with Bela Lugosi, 28 Days Later), and, of course, Die Hard. No movie marathon should ever not include Die Hard.

Fourth and last, I've got half an outline for what I want to do for NaNo. I'm trying to focus SO. HARD. on making sure I keep from writing any parts of the stories that I have planned to write during the 30 days of craziness, but my brain keeps giving me awesome ideas for dialogue and visuals. UGH. I'm also coming up with a Spotify playlist that I'll probably be posting up here once I get it finalized.

Sigh. This is my life. Dogs, writing, movies, haphazard cleaning exercises. Oh, well. It could be worse. Alrighty, back to the grind.

* True story.
** If you want a buddy on NaNo, just send me a buddy request here! :)
*** The Peta Wilson version. I mean, I love Maggie Q and all, but Peta? She's my go-to badass. Plus, she looks a bit like Linda Hamilton, who is my ultimate girl crush.
**** I know, it's not really a horror movie, but it has vampires and Quentin Tarantino's character (Who am I kidding? He wasn't acting. That person is Tarantino.) gets killed. Yay! We all benefit!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm Still Fighting This War

In addition to being my new favorite gif ever, I'm wanting to avoid having the below pictures being the first thing you freaking see on Facebook. Ugh. Also: Starbuck, I love you.
I'm not doing anything that someone hasn't done before. Hell, Jamie Lee Curtis did it in a magazine a while ago. Lady Gaga recently did it via the internet. But here it is: me.

I'm not looking for validation here, guys, so you don't need to comment that ZOMG YOU LOOK GREAT WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? or YEAH YOU COULD TOTALLY STAND TO LOSE A FEW POUNDS. But you do need to know that this right here? One of the hardest things I've ever done. And I've done a lot of shit. So. Anyway, moving on.

Like so many girls and women, I have been struggling with anorexia since I was 13. There are multiple origin stories, and all of them seem simultaneous. At the beginning of my middle school years, a very thin girl told all of her friends that a girl with a figure should be the only one wearing the shirt I was wearing. My parents reinforced that exercise was not fun by forcing me to go on long runs with them at the park, when I'd rather be frolicking in the back yard or exploring, Calvin and Hobbes style, the woods at the top of the hill. Cosmo and Marie Claire magazines were everywhere: doctor's offices, our mailbox, friend's coffee tables, so I got to see what I was supposed to look like. I started noticing how other girls looked in comparison to me; in particular, I was noticing the girls that were getting attention from boys. I did not look like them at all. And then, the for the first time, I started to cry myself to sleep, thinking that I was worthless.

It all started out so innocently. I would eat smaller portions at dinner; I would only eat one cookie for dessert. Food became an adversary, determined to make me stay alone and unhappy until my dying day. Other girls became my enemies, competing with me because ... that's what girls do? My own body was my tormentor, constantly reminding me of how inadequate I was. I kept it under wraps as best I could as I went through the remainder of junior high and through high school graduation. But it would only get worse from there.

When I was in college, I also was in the gym about three or four hours a day: running on the treadmill, lifting hand weights, taking an hour yoga class, pushing myself on the weight machines, etc. I had no one looking over my shoulder, telling me I should eat something or say, "Shit, dude, you can't have eaten enough calories today to warrant that type of workout." But I felt great. I wore a size six for the first time in my young adult life. Boys and girls were noticing me. I was getting invited to parties (that I didn't want to go to, anyway, but whatever). My confidence was soaring. Until I looked in the mirror. I still wasn't thin enough. I didn't have the flat abs that I was promised by the magazines describing Britney Spears' workout routine. I had cellulite on my thighs. My ass wasn't as perky as I thought it should be. So I'd add on time at the gym, cut a few more highly-nutritious foods (also they have calories OH NO!!!) from my diet, and this cycle would just repeat itself.

Once I graduated from college, the fact that I was poor actually kind of helped with my eating habits staying the same. I couldn't afford a lot of food, so I subsisted on cereal, bagels, V8, and salads. And I'd just been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, so some of the fattiest foods were automatically no longer a part of my eating regimen. It did explain a lot of the digestive issues I'd had for most of my life. Then, I found out that I also had a mild gluten allergy (no more breads) and that I had an autoimmune disorder (one of the symptoms is psoriasis yay), which was the reason I got sick so often. Now, all of these conditions existed for my entire life, as far as I knew*, but it seems that my not eating anything exasperated them. Oh, and also add in smoking: another super healthy habit I picked up to keep my weight down. Ultimately, I was feeling physically well for such a small portion of my life that I didn't really know what being not-sick was like.

But here's a dark secret: I actually liked getting sick. I liked knowing that, because I was ill, I would only be eating soup and drinking water, if that, and at the end of it all, I'd be at least five pounds thinner. I'd find myself hoping that I'd be sick just a few days longer or that I'd actually fall ill so I could be sure that I'd be at my goal weight, which coincidentally, kept getting lower and lower.

This hurts to write, not just because it was in the past, but because it is very much my present, even though I don't always recognize it as such. I declared war on myself when I was 13 and haven't stopped. I make strides, sure; I wore a bikini on the beach in Biloxi, although I spent a lot of my time trying to hide my stomach. I've found parts of my body that I do like and focus on those. I look myself in the eye in our bathroom mirror and say, "I love you," even though I don't necessarily mean it yet. I have a wonderful partner who has done more than any other to help me find acceptance of myself, and he's had to take a strong position when he discovered that I wasn't eating again. I exercise in moderation and make myself stop after an hour. But I fear that this is something that I will always struggle with, that I will always fall back on loathing my body, my temple.

If I have a daughter, I don't ever want her to hate herself for any reason. I don't want her to look in the mirror and start crying because she doesn't like what she sees. I don't want her to embrace whatever asshole tells her she's pretty because she doesn't fully believe it herself.

I watched the above video, posted by Amy Poehler on her Youtube channel Smart Girls at the Party, and started crying because, you know what, all the things that I said above about myself, my story, everything? They are not things that I want my future-possible daughter to think. So maybe acceptance of myself is more than just about me. Maybe it's about all women: current and not-yet-in-existence ones alike. If I can look myself in the eye and actually believe me when I say, "I love you," maybe that will be one step into making this a better place for women. Hell, a better place for people, regardless of who you are.

This is my goal, even if it is a seemingly insignificant (in comparison to a lot of problems around the world) one. I expect to have setbacks, but I want to succeed, even if it's on my deathbed. When I'm 85, I want to be able to look back on my choices, my actions, and say, "You know what? I did okay." I've got a ways to go, but I know I have help on my journey, in the form of a young pre-anorexia Juju, cheering me the whole time.

* Seriously, just ask my parents and they will tell you the many times the word enema was used in my childhood. JUST ASK. You probably won't and that's okay, because ... well, the question would inevitably draw an answer involving poop, and unless you're already a member of my family, it will disgust you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Based on the past 24-hour search history on my computer, I am a real-life Dexter. Well, a real-life Dexter who also has a penchant for researching Star Trek mythology, saving pictures of castles, searching for answers as to why one of my cats' shit smells worse than the other, and reading Cakewrecks for hours on end. In addition to googling how to drain blood from a body, which is how Dexter ties in. I suppose I probably should have already mentioned that, but oh, well. Forget that this is a medium that allows me to delete sentences and replace them with shiny new words.

My writing has led me to looking up the most random of subjects: prison architecture and design, Tamil history, the various shades of yellow, krav maga techniques, etc. The list could continue for a very. long. time. It makes me wonder what other people search for on Google. Does anyone else have "can you get cancer by eating cancer-infected flesh?*" on their history? Just me?

It's not like this is new to me, though. Thankfully, my brain is not cataloged like the internet is. I was an inquisitive child, pretty much from the get-go, and so I was constantly asking my parents questions, from the typical, "Mom, why is the sky blue?" to "Mom, can elephants eat their own trunks by accident?" Since Mom was home more often than Dad, I would typically go to her, but she had a penchant for lying. Once she told me that my tongue split at the back of my mouth and both sides continued down to my toes. After that, I was wary of getting any information from her. She also liked to answer most of my queries with, "Go look it up."

So in an effort to avoid having to 1) wait for my father to verify that what my mother told me was accurate and 2) hear "Go look it up" one more fucking time, I took it upon myself to cut out the middle man and go straight to the source, which in this case was the entire World Book series. For some reason, my parents thought the World Book was better than the Encyclopedia Britannica, but I didn't know the difference. I was a young child and, because the internet hadn't been invented by Al Gore yet**, I was forced to actually read. Well, I found it enjoyable because I'd read the whole damned collection by the time I was 10 years old. This really isn't a bragging point for me, I promise. I'd start reading about dog breeds and the get distracted by another topic as I was searching for the right page; then that subject would have "see also" at the end of the article, so to another volume I went. Eventually, I'd get around to reading about dog breeds. Probably. This is how I entertained myself, and yeah, I was That Weird Kid at school who knew way too much about random shit.

And the internet has just made this aspect of myself worse. All of that information, just at the end of your fingertips. And fuck you, Wikipedia. Wiki-spirals are the worst enemy of my writerly productivity. Sure, it starts out as a quick Google search for ancient druid rituals, yet somehow, I always seem to end up on an image page, trying to pick out my next tattoo, or reading about the meanings behind Florence + the Machine's lyrics. Three has come home to me, staring wide-eyed at my computer screen, with 50 tabs open that have absolutely nothing to do with each other (maybe tangentially). He then tells me to come talk to him, an actual in-person human being.

I really hope to pass this trait down to my children. I mean, it's not like I want to force them to have a love of reading and learning on their own. That's not for everyone, I know. But it's something that both my father and I bonded over. He'd come home, and I'd rush to him with this new information that I was just positive he didn't know. It rarely worked out that way, since my father is somewhat of an unrecognized genius who remembers the page from a magazine he read in college and what exactly was on that page and ... sigh. I can only try to be that smart. But he'd sit and listen to me talk about the new dinosaur I'd discovered*** or how I knew how to differentiate between the male and female fiddler crabs down by the bank a few yards away from our house****. I'd like to be able to do the same with my and Three's kids. I don't expect them to be nerdy about the same things, but I'd also like to learn from them. We will be able to geek out together!

God, I really haven't changed much since I was a Wee Baby Seamus.

For now, let's hope that an FBI agent doesn't come knocking on my door because of my internet search history. I've heard that happens sometimes, and not just on some conspiracy theorist put it on a webpage that I might have seen the other day. I swear, I was only looking for information on dead bodies because I want this dead body to appear authentic? And not a real dead body. I am describing one in my story! You know, I should just stop.

I leave you with one of my favorite Weird Al songs:

* Based on what I found, you would have to eat a LOT of cancer to "catch" it, but it's not likely. So eat that cancer, bitches. It's not necessarily bad for you, and it probably won't kill you! YOU ARE WELCOME!!
** I joke, I joke. has already proven this false, but I like to poke fun at good ol' Al.
*** I was and still am a giant dinosaur nerd. I wanted to be a paleontologist for the majority of my young life, although that tended to intertwine with my desire to write. Don't be surprised if dinosaurs in some form show up in my writing. And I'll try to tone down the Moby Dick-esque descriptions of them because we all know that's boring. For other people. I could read about the structure of dinosaurs and their perceived hunting habits all damned day.
**** It's their claw size, by the way. Males have one big claw and one little one. Females have two little ones. The more you know.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NaNo!!! :D :D :D

I hadn't realized that it was so close to November, and it was actually super exciting to get an email from NaNo, letting me know that they'd revamped the site. I immediately hopped on and was all squee-y. I even updated my profile, although I need to find a new avatar image; Major Kusanagi from "Ghost in the Shell" just isn't doing it for me. Maybe Katee Sackhoff's Starbuck??

I fucking love Starbuck.
Anyway, I was this way - all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed - around this same time last year, so I'm taking this month to actually plan the stories that I'm going to write. You know, to use that enthusiasm that will probably be waning by mid-November. I think I was a little too enthusiastic and, well, Sagittarius about the whole thing in 2011. I knew the general idea of where I was going, but without much of a plan, I lost steam pretty quickly. And then the stupid job just made me exhausted because, ha, it's November and everyone wanted to make sure that they had their renewal interviews so they'd get their December SNAP benefits. Then there's my propensity of going back right as I write something to edit it because, well, I just don't like it. I can be strangely perfectionist about certain things.

Yeah, yeah, I know: excuses, excuses. But they're all valid. This year, I don't really have that luxury. Since I'm without employment, at least from the standpoint of someone paying me, I can completely focus on NaNo. So, preparations are beginning. I already have about seventeen deadlines set for various things (artwork, networking, website creation, query letters, etc.), so the next week or so is going to be ... interesting.

Ohohoh! AND!! If you want to participate in NaNo - trust me, the camaraderie will benefit everyone - just go check out my profile page and add me as a buddy: Jujujuniper on NaNo.

Whee!! Only 30 more days!

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