Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In which I stretch myself thin and love every minute of it.

I'm kind of a balls to the wall kinda gal. Minus the actual balls, of course. This doesn't necessarily apply to all of my activities, just things that I actually want to do. Growing up, my parents learned fairly quickly that if I didn't want to do something, by GOD, it would take an act of said God to actually get me to do it. I'd procrastinate, complain, or just downright refuse to take any action, and if finally forced by threat of punishment to carry out the task, I'd make sure that everyone knew how absolutely miserable about it I was. But if I wanted to do something, I think even God would have a hard time stopping me. Unless, you know, apocalypse or something.

And this is sort of how my life is running right now. I've wanted to be a writer since even before my childhood fixation with becoming a paleontologist*, and since I've been graciously given the opportunity to do so, I am grabbing it by the horns and making it my bitch. Well, attempting to do so, since writing is a very difficult field to get started in, especially in the age of the internet where anyone can be an author. It was kind of a slow start, sadly. I quit DHS in August and didn't self-publish my first novelette (ebook only right now, but soon, I will have the proof and then it will be available for purchase in print and ZOMG) until January, and the end of January, at that. Part of it was fear, distrusting my own artistic voice, having so much to do because I'm essentially creating a brand all by my onesies. It was overwhelming at the time. Hell, it still is. I'm a one-woman show, creating all of the stories, artwork, website design (with a lot of help from Wordpress, thank Jesus), etc, plus running a Facebook author page, trying to make sure that my Twitter is kept up-to-date but not completely focused on the stories, and ... phew. I mean, just writing it down here has me widening my eyes a bit. I never worked this hard at DHS, and I worked my ass off there.

Just to add further shit for me to do, I'm also working on that web comic series I have been mentioned at least once here. Since I don't want to actually do any work on the art until I get my Wacom tablet (just the Bamboo Splash, which is only $79 plus tax), I've been forced to put it on the creative back burner for the most part, but it's in what movie people call pre-production. I've got a list of characters, setting, etc. Now all I need is the money. Sigh. Always the fucking money. Actually, it's probably for the best so I can focus 100% on "The Legion" and getting enough of that out there before starting a new project, but I'm still kind of whiny about the whole thing.

So instead, I went another way with finding ways to keep myself occupied! I've accepted a trial-basis staff writing position for the website, Feminspire**, submitting two articles a week. It's an unpaid gig, but I'm not complaining. It's an awesome opportunity to actually use my degree, and the staff that I have talked to are wonderfully enthusiastic about the site. I have a series of pieces planned, four other ideas formulating, and one stand-alone article is in the first draft stage. I work best when under pressure, oddly, and I truthfully miss meeting deadlines, that thrill of "Oh, shit, this has to be ready for print and it just happened five seconds ago, oh, shitshitshitshit." It's exhilarating, and I did a happy dance when I got the email offering me the position.

All of this, of course, has been further complicated by the fact that we have to move out of our shitty apartment in the next two days. I've been prepping myself for the move since the middle of last month, right around the time our asshole landlord essentially stole our car, but there's only so much you can do prior to a move. I was trying to balance my own self-employment schedule with packing, making phone calls to update our address, etc., and sometimes, the moving part of things had to take a backseat to my job. So we've kind of been on this strange, hyperactive limbo that has tested my ability to multitask. Yesterday, for the first time in about two months, I sat down after packing nearly half of our apartment by myself***, looked at my life, and laughed at how incredibly batshit insane it is right now.

Other than the moving aspect, I'm actually pretty okay with it. As long as I have a day or so a month to myself, where all I do is sleep and play video games, I'm set. Hectic life is where I thrive. Even when I was working at DHS, I would be one of the only ones who could adjust quickly to the constant (and most of the time, fucking stupid) changes and get my work done on time, usually with enough to spare so I could help everyone else out. It's when I don't have a million things going on that I get close to freaking out.

But still, that doesn't mean this week isn't going to suck. It totally is. I'm going to be just on the other side of spastic. It'll settle eventually into a controlled sort of chaos, although I'll probably figure out a way to get it a bit more crazy. I wouldn't have it any other way.

* To be honest, paleontology was the only thing that actually rivaled my love of writing. I was such a little nerd, too, digging up dinosaur "bones" in our backyard. And by dinosaur "bones," I mean sticks that looked like bones, rocks, discarded plastic cutlery. This is also another reason that I'd love to have kids; it will give me an excuse to get back into the dirty world of fake excavation.
** This is not just because I'll be contributing here, but seriously, you should check the site out. They have some really awesome articles on pretty much any topic out there.
*** This isn't Three's fault. His boss recently was all, "Oh, we're stupid and are behind so twelve-hour shifts for seven days a week for everyone! Except us! Hugsies!" So when he gets home, he's about damn near exhausted.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I may have done this.

Thank you, GIMP. You're welcome, world.
And then I also may have gone and done this: Grumpy Batcat. Because clearly I have nothing better to do with my time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


When I'm wrong about something, I like to admit it. Most of the time. It can be fun to speak in hyperbole, particularly when you're incensed about something like, say, the shitty performance of a voice actor in a well-known and obviously well-funded video game franchise. *cough*Mass Effect*cough* I suppose I should have learned by now not to universally pan anything, because odds are, I'll find something I like about it, but I was fairly sure that my enjoyment of Mass Effect 3's ManShep was only going to be because of the other voice actors and because of the Tali relationship. But I'm going to say it here: Mark Meer does a surprisingly good job. I mean, he's nowhere near Jennifer Hale's quality, which is hard to beat, but I'm just thrilled to actually hear him use some type of emotion. It's nice, and it also means that he is not, in fact, a robot as I had previously suspected.
Me, whenever ManShep's voice had emotion: Mark? Is that you??
This is not to say that I rescind on my criticism of his Kristen-Stewart-esque delivery of lines in the previous two installments. I fully stand behind those statements. He was awful. The sheer rigid speech patterns just made me cringe, and I made a game for myself while he was talking to count the number of times he said something that proved he was Canadian. I lost count at about 30. I'm not even exaggerating when I say that I nearly just stopped playing so I could go back to Jennifer Hale's FemShep.
And to the Garrus romance subplot. 
But I trudged through, thankful for the adorableness that was Liz Sroka's Tali'Zorah. I actually squealed aloud, scaring my dog and apparently calling one of my cats at the same time, as Tali got excited that ManShep was interested in her. The subsequent conversations between Tali and ManShep were cute in their own rights, but the actually final romance scene just took the cake. I could describe it, but honestly, you should just see it for yourself. It just gives me happy butterflies.
She's so fucking cute. But GAH, Mark, your voice acting. "Come here." Blech, it sounds like you're auditioning for a 70s porno.

Anyway, after consummating my relationship with Tali and blowing up the Collector base like a motherfucking boss, I decided I should probably just finish up my ManShep's storyline* and begrudgingly imported the character into ME3. After playing for a few minutes, I found myself on Google search, trying to see if they'd replaced his voice actor, like they had with Mordin. But no, Mark Meer was still listed as "John" Shepard**. Three and I figured that Meer probably got a talking to after so many fans complained that even the Reapers, machine overlords who are supposed to speak in monotone, were more emotive than he was. It was kind of refreshing to hear a different take on a line that was still appropriate. In ME2, Tali was put on trial for treason (long story), and Hale delivered this impassioned speech that made you wish that FemShep would be your lawyer for whatever legal troubles you might come across later in life; Meer, on the other hand, basically just upped the decibels ... kinda. He wasn't even really yelling. If I'd been a judge in that courtroom, I would have shrugged and said, "Meh." Delivery, Mark. It's all about the delivery.
ManShep's approach to everything vocal prior to ME3
But in ME3, his approach to some of the lines I actually like better than Hale's. Which I know, shock. I'm even planning on going back and starting an ME3 game where Ashley didn't die on Virmire in ME1. Ostensibly, they probably tried to tone down Ashley's complete bitchiness and xenophobia to match Meer's new-found well of emotion.

All of this does beg the question: how did Mark Meer even get into voice acting if it took two games for him to start to be a decent voice actor? As far as I can tell, Tricia Helfer doesn't have a lot of experience in this arena, but she did an excellent job as EDI. Seth Green shines as Joker. Brandon Keener makes Garrus simultaneously awkward, sarcastic, and sexy. Ali Hillis keeps Liara both sensual and naive, without it seeming forced. All of these people, like Meer, have backgrounds in film/TV acting but were able to transition into these roles with ease. Maybe because they took them seriously? I don't have any answers here, actually.

Do you hear that, Mr. Meer? We should talk. Also, I'd like to get into voice acting, and you seem to have been given the golden spoon. So. Let's chat.

* I may have him control the Reapers instead of the synthesis or destroy options. It's weird; I have a hard time being a renegade or selfish character when I'm playing as FemShep, but as soon as my character supposedly has a penis, I'm like, "Throw all of that into the shitter!" This is true whenever I play any game that allows me to choose my character's gender. I wonder if this is something that happens to a lot of people.
** My name for him is Bail Shepard because I am a Star Wars nerd.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Back to School! :D

Well, kind of. I'm doing an online course through Canvas Network, starting April 2, called Gender through Comic Books, and I'm super stoked about the whole thing. I found out about the class, which is free, through Twitter because the internet is awesome. It's just one more thing I've added to my plate, but hey, I like to keep my life interesting.
This = me always.
Of course, I'm not getting any credit toward a degree or anything, but that's not really the point. I want to learn, and if it comes with a healthy dose of interviews from leading comic book artists and writers (Terry Moore, WUT), well, then I'm all for it that much more. I actually created a whole bookmark category dedicated solely to free online classes from major universities*, and it's pretty much enabling me to accomplish my dream of being a forever-student, except without the stigma of being in college for twenty years and nothing to show for it except for a heaping pile of debt.

And see, that's the thing. Knowledge is no longer the purview of the select few that can afford it. The internet, for all its trolls and obnoxious videos of Justin Bieber, has allowed information to flow freely to whomever wants to seek it out. And this, to me, means that the current education system has begun its slow and inevitable death. And I must say this: thank God.

How things are now is this vicious cycle.

  1. Get into college. 
  2. Try to get scholarships.
  3. If you don't qualify for a scholarship, get a student loan.
  4. Finish school.
  5. Look for a job. 
  6. Can't find one because hahaha everyone has a degree and now you need more experience/training/education to get a job that will help you pay off that student loan debt before you are 85.
  7. Go back to school.
  8. Try to get scholarships.
  9. Rinse, repeat. 

It's hopeless and frustrating and ugh. I'm not even someone with a bazillion dollars worth of student loan debt (thanks, parents!), but I know sosososo many that are. And I'm not going to touch the for-profit universities that seem to prey on people since that's a whole other post itself, but I do think that in a hundred years, the landscape of education is going to be an entirely different animal. We won't necessarily need the diploma, although that will be helpful to some degree, but employers are going to want to know if we have the skills necessary to actually do what our degree says we do. I think trade schools are going to make a comeback - maybe even apprenticeships. Hell, why we ever stopped doing that in the first place is beyond me.

I could seriously go on a ten-page (metaphorically speaking, of course) tirade about how current educational standards and practices only exist to maintain the status quo, but really, there are far more better written articles on the topic. But I will say this: just because you have a piece of paper with your college's name and yours on it, saying you have a B.S. in whatever does not mean that you automatically deserve a job that pays you $50,000 (or whatever you consider excessive for an entry level job**) off the bat. You don't. I do think that businesses should provide livable wages***, for their own benefit as well as their employees', but awarding you way above what someone without a degree makes? Bullshit.

Plus, sometimes going the route of university is detrimental to your career goals. Take an old boyfriend of mine who opted to head straight into the belly of the beast instead of going to school. He came to Nashville and got hired as an assistant to a sound tech, basically the dregs of what he actually wanted to do: be a sound engineer. He'd been involved with live sound since high school, so he had basic knowledge of what he needed to learn, and he spent a while just honing his skills. Eventually, he got a job as the house sound engineer for a local bar, which wasn't a glamorous gig, but it got him the contacts and the exposure to where he could start his own one-man company. He now does quite well as a freelance sound engineer and tours with a lot of big bands from Nashville and other cities. Had he gone to college, he'd have missed out on that entire experience and might have actually completely failed in his chosen career. Who knows, really, but he'd definitely be at least five years behind himself, and he'd still have to start at the bottom.
All the RIM (recording industry major) students from MTSU once they figured out that everyone in Nashville had their degree. Plus experience they didn't have because they were in class all day. Or high. Or playing in their "band."
Of course, this doesn't always necessarily apply to all careers. I'd be a little iffy about a surgeon who was like, "Oh, I watched and trained with another surgeon for five years. I don't need to have passed anatomy and physiology." But a person to answer phones at a call center? Just some OTJ training is all that's needed there. Or an electrician? Sure, an understanding of the math behind what you do is helpful, but it isn't really necessary.

But still, this knowledge is out there. I've put the link for Open Culture down below; they have an entire section that is only engineering classes - electrical, mechanical, and civil. An electrician could learn all of this online and never once have to step in a classroom. All they'd have to do is prove that they knew what they were doing. Which means, work, y'all. Word of mouth. Continuing your education. S/he wouldn't need that diploma, as long as they were able to pass the knowledge requirements to obtain a license, which I guess is what the college part is about. Just because you have the paper does not mean you know what in the hell you're doing, though.

Now, my class with Canvas Network isn't really going to help me in my career, except maybe help me write characters better. Or maybe it will just help me understand people better. I don't know. But, like I said above, that's not really the point. It's education for education's sake (and also to hear Terry Moore's opinions about gender in comic books), and I think the more educated we are as people, the better our society will be. Not a new concept, I know, but shit, guys. I've been busy lately.

* Go check out Open Culture for starters. The selection here is actually quite impressive, and these are all courses that you can take on your own time. I love the internet.
** I'm speaking solely in regards to Tennessee here, and the cost of living in this state is significantly lower than in a lot of other areas of the U.S. It's one of the only things about this state that I like. I mean, we're going to be renting a 1500 sq. ft. house for $500/mo.
*** Minimum wage is a fucking joke. Please, tell me that you can work 40 hours per week at $7.25/hr and still be able to "make a better life for yourself and family" while paying for all those pesky necessities like "food" and "shelter." And no, abolishing the minimum wage only gives businesses an excuse to pay people less.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I have the worst luck with cars, Part XI: You Had ONE Chance, Fancy

You know, I was really hoping that I could end the IHtWLwC series with Part X, partially because it's a lovely number but mainly because oh, dear God, I am just fucking sick and tired of crap cars.

To be fair, though, Fancy is actually a good car. She's solidly built, has leather seats, and we don't get pulled over in Franklin anymore for the crime of driving while poor. But it just so happens that, during the years of 1998 and 1999, the powers that be at Ford Motor Company decided to be frugal. And by frugal, I mean cheapskates.

I'm not a car person and don't know the technical terms for everything, although being married to a Car Guy has taught me more, but here's the basic rundown. The intake manifold, in all the years except for 1998 and 1999, was made out of metal and was a durable piece of machinery. Then, some bright person in a board room was like, "We need to figure out how to cut some of the costs down on manufacturing," so another highly intelligent individual was like, "Oh, I know! We'll make the intake manifold out of plastic! That sounds like a great idea! Send it to the board." I also don't know anything about business.

Now, this may all sound good on paper, but it really doesn't make sense to me to use plastic in anything that is constantly under the pressure of extreme heat. And I'd be right because they actually issued a recall for these model years and replaced the entire manifold for every single town car.

Except ours. Because the previous owner just didn't do it for whatever reason.
Fucking old people, not reading their mail.
About a month after we got Fancy, she started acting funny. It wasn't anything too bad at first. It would just jerk a bit once in a while. Three thought it might just need a fuel system clean since it seemed to resolve itself once he pushed down on the accelerator. But then, it just got progressively worse, and now, the car can just sit there and it's choking for air. There are little cracks everywhere in the manifold but because it's plastic, you can't just get some JB Weld and hope for the best. Three has spent so much money on coolant that we might as well just throw money at Prestone. At first, we thought that we might be able to go to Pull-a-Part* and find the part we needed, but then we found out that 1) it's not just one part - it's the entire fucking manifold thingy; 2) it's an incredibly time-consuming job that requires you to remove the entire engine; and 3) you need a specific tool that only registered mechanics can purchase. And then the kicker: it could cost us between $600 and $1500.
Upon discovering this, I might have had some type of mental breakdown.
Luckily, though, the guy from whom we bought Fancy is being incredibly helpful and put us in contact with a mechanic that's giving us a good deal on fixing this issue. And then my dad, being the wonderful creature that he is, let us borrow his truck while it's in the shop, so we've definitely had some good karma thrown our way. But shit if this isn't frustrating. I mean, I guess I should be thankful that I have a car, period, and that it seems to have avoided Chiquita's penchant for attracting nails to the tires, but all I can really do is just shrug and pout about it.

It's almost as if the universe wants me to follow up on my threat to buy that pony I've always wanted.

* Pull-a-Part and their ilk are some of the best business ideas ever, although I find it slightly creepy to walk down the aisles and aisles of essentially car corpses. It kind of reminds me of a scene out of "The Brave Little Toaster."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Romance is kinda in the air.

You know, I used to hate Valentine's Day. Actually, no, I take that back. I still hate Valentine's Day. It just doesn't inspire the same violent reaction that it used to. Now, this could be because I'm married, but as I recall, my animosity had started to wane before I met my husband, so. Still, I think it's probably the most vapid of all the holidays that we celebrate in the West and definitely has become more so over my lifetime. It's kind of a silly premise, although I suppose that can be said of any particular holiday. To me, though, it's the most Hallmark-y of all the days that we're supposed to by cards for each other.

For most of my childhood, Valentine's Day was a mixture of dread and eye-rolling, since I really hated having to write the names of everyone in my class on one of those little fold-y card things but was secretly worried that I wouldn't get one from everyone else. I did enjoy decorating my shoebox, though. Then middle school came and, well, I blocked out a lot of that time period, so we'll just skip that. High school was different, since our school had this fund raiser where they'd sell roses (that only girls could receive). I got one every year, but that's because my dad bought me one, partially to keep me from being humiliated that I was boyfriendless. I appreciated the gesture, even if everyone knew that the rose wasn't from a secret admirer.

And then college. Oh, college. This was where I adopted my "I hate Valentine's Day" mantra. And I was in some type of relationship each time Valentine's Day came around, which I guess kind of makes it a little weirder. To me, my anti-VD rhetoric was a sort of feminist statement, both in terms of what gifts were usually given - all women everywhere like shiny rocks! - and also in regards to this attitude of "Well, I've been an ass for the other 364 days of the year, but who cares since I went to Jared!" Add in a little bit of embarrassment, since I couldn't really afford anything super fancy and neither could my significant other because we were fucking college students, and there you go.

After college, Valentine's Day gradually became another day to me, although my mom still chose to send me a little gift basket, usually consisting of toothpaste, tampons, and a bit of makeup*. I suppose I didn't really have to show my disdain for the holiday to anyone on campus or anything, but it was a little difficult for me to explain to people with whom I worked, whose desks were overwhelmed with pink teddy bears and red foil-wrapped chocolate hearts. Most of them assumed that I was unattached - not untrue - and instead tried to avoid speaking to me about it the majority of the time. A few brave women** would breach the topic, but I'd wave them off with a pissy, "Well, until gay people can get legally married, I just feel like celebrating Valentine's Day is wrong" or "Wasn't Christmas, like, two months ago??" My responses were usually met with eye rolls or gradual retreats, and I was okay with that.

When I met Three, I told him the truth: that I just didn't really care about Valentine's Day and that I'd rather we show each other on a daily basis that we loved each other. At first, he was actually impressed by my outlook on it and was like, "Cool! No visit to Kay's then." He'd been married to a woman who was kind of obsessed with tradition*** so my bucking trends was a relief. But then he had to deal with his coworkers, who seeded him with doubts about my sincerity, so we ended up going to an Indian restaurant the day after because there was no way in hell that I'd be going anywhere public to witness various marriage proposals and Jewelry Face****.

This year, my to-do list is as follows (in no particular order):

  • Take Fancy to the shop to finally get that coolant leak fixed.
  • Write.
  • Draw.
  • Pack.
  • Put shit together for a Goodwill run.
  • Play a bit of Mass Effect 2*****.
  • Wait for Three to come home from work.
  • Make another attempt at getting pregnant because we're in my fertility window right now. You're welcome for that information. 
  • Call various family members to wish them a pleasant and love-filled Valentine's Day.

I know. Doesn't it just scream ROMANCE? I can just feel your jealousy right through the screen.

Even though I no longer dread or violently reject this day as I once did, I do side-eye it a lot and kind of wish it didn't exist. But then I wouldn't have anything to complain about in February other than the cold and the number of days, so I guess that's something.

* And before Mom can say anything, I really do appreciate this. It's not expected, like my Easter basket, though. I'm not even kidding. One year, my mother forgot to give my sister and I Easter baskets, and she might as well have killed puppies. She has not made this mistake since, which is in her best interest. [cracks knuckles]
** It was always women. None of my male coworkers seemed to care, unless I was dating one of them, but that's a whole other story.
*** His ex-wife and I would not get along at all. She felt that husbands and wives didn't need to be friends and only needed to tolerate each other so they could have babies and eventually slide into a life of passive-aggressive jabs and frequent affairs. She also told Three once that she didn't really listen to what he said but that he was nice to look at.
**** This phrase is courtesy of Sarah Haskins' Target Women series on the now defunct CurrenTV channel. The video below is actually in reference to Christmas, but it still applies. Also, watch the Target Women episodes "Doofy Husbands" and "Beauty Contraptions." Seriously. They're hilarious, and I'm still a little peeved that they canceled CurrenTV.
***** I started a ME series playthrough where, for the first time since I bought the game, I'm playing as a male Shepard. And can I just tell you, the only reason that I'm going through with the whole thing is so I can romance Tali. The voice actor for Male Shep is so damned flat I might be able to convince you that he's, in fact, a pancake. It's not necessarily monotone, but it might as well be. Ugh. But Tali definitely makes up for it. She's so fucking cute throughout the whole thing, I just can't even. This is the only romance (other than the FemShep and Garrus one) that I'll be watching this Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Challenge: ACCEPTED.

I snark. A lot. I snark on and off the internet. If you ask the husbeast, I do it the most when I'm in the front passenger seat of our car, and I'll admit, I am quite brutal in my non-interactions with people driving while on their cellphones. Once, I even came up with a rap song while getting irritated with white women in an affluent part of town nearly hitting me with their cars:
All the bitches, get off your phones! Phones! PHONES!! Phoooooooooonessss!!!
Dear God, you're gonna kill us all with your phoooooooooooooooooooooooooonnnes!
You have to say this in Luda's voice, obvs.
Courtesy MTV Networks
It was a ragey masterpiece that I think could be a runaway pop hit with the right marketing.

Anyway, my lovely friend, Elizabeth Thurmond, whom I've mentioned before, wrote a post about this pervading snark that seems to dominate the internet, and apparently my life. It's one of those things that makes you go back and read your past entries with a sort of embarrassment. Does being witty mean that you have to act like an asshole? Does an opinion lose its oomph if it doesn't have some type of sarcasm that tears someone else down? Can I write a post that's about what I love without delving into snark?

I can honestly say that I don't know if I can. The reaction to throw in a sardonic jab at whatever I'm talking about is pretty knee-jerk, so this is kind of a scary thing for me. But, as the title above says, I have accepted this challenge.

Shit, I'm nervous.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I am just sucking at titles lately. :(

Eating out is not one of my favorite things. You'd think it would be within at least my top ten, considering my complete lack of desire to cook anything more complicated than hot ham water. But alas, it is not. Luckily for me, however, Three absolutely loves cooking. It's completely his thing. He even took classes back in high school. Well, actually, his school kind of forced him to take cooking classes starting his freshman year because he was one of the poor students and therefore obviously destined to become line cooks at the various resorts for all the rich people that came on vacation to the island he called home.
Be all you can be! (Note: if you are rich and white. If not, you're basically fucked.)
On the plus side, though, I got a trained chef-type person as a husband, so win/win.

Sometimes, though, when Three is too pooped to pick up a pot (alliteration FTW), we'll go somewhere, usually in East Nashville because that's the only place that has any restaurants that make food both of us can actually eat. Somewhere back in whatever past life I might have had, I think I pissed off somebody that wanted to make sure I suffered, so I was given allergies to gluten, lactose, and latex. The gluten thing isn't as bad as it could be; I get mild discomfort whenever I eat anything with gluten in it, but all in all, it's just kind of annoying. With lactose, however, I might as well just lie down and die. It's terrible. I won't gross you out with the details, but let's just say I'm a mess. You wouldn't think latex would be on a list of food allergies, and most of the time, you'd be right. However, since bananas come from a type of rubber tree? Yeah, you guessed it. I cannot eat bananas without the fuckers nearly tearing my stomach to pieces. Then there's Three with his diabetes, which just adds another fun dimension of food gymnastics, trying to figure out what does not have sugar, dairy, gluten, and on occasion rubber*.

Nashville, as a whole, doesn't really have a lot of allergy-friendly restaurants, as you can probably guess, what with it being in the South where there's a Cracker Barrel on every corner. Not really; it's a Waffle House. This is until, of course, you get into East Nashville, which has such gems like the Wild Cow, one of my favorite allergen-free restaurants ever. They even have a separate menu for gluten-free items and they will show you where their gluten-free cooking area is. But, as any Nashvillian will tell you, things ain't cheap on this side of town. It's hipster central, which is only a minor ick point for me since, and it specializes in selling houses smaller than my apartment for half a million dollars because they've been "upcycled." That trend trickles down to the restaurants, too, especially when you add "artisanal" in Papyrus font to the sign. I mean, come on, I have seen one of those places charge $15 for a damned garden salad**.

So a combination of not having a ton of disposable income and having food allergies, we tend to stay home or go over to friends' houses when we need a night away from our shitty stove. Thankfully, we have a lot of awesome friends who are more than willing to either cook or eat stuff we've cooked that doesn't cause major intestinal distress. But we usually have to break people in to the idea. It's actually kind of depressing to tell people that we don't have any sugar, gluten, or dairy products at our apartment, and it usually illicits a, "Well, what do you eat? Cardboard?? HAHAHAHA!"
Oh, you so clever. I have never heard that one before. 
And it's not much better when people act all sympathetic and say, "Oh, I'm so sorry. That must be horrible!" That doesn't really help me feel any better about my plight, if you can call it that. It's not like I'm dying, guys. Or that I was irreversibly disfigured in a bear mauling incident. I just can't eat some stuff, and both Three and I have to be very careful to read the ingredients on anything we buy, which you should totally do, anyway.

What's kind of awesome is that there are a lot of things out there now for people like us, and they aren't just at ridiculously priced Whole Foods. I squealed in the middle of Kroger when I found a gluten-free Bisquik mix, which was promptly bought and used to make gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free weird-shaped pancakes. There are even sections at grocery stores that are dedicated to people with food allergies. Yes, they're usually more expensive than their able-tummied counterparts, but I'd rather spend a few dollars extra on something that works with my digestive system than spend every waking minute regretting my choice to eat a gluten-riddled bagel with cream cheese.

Of course, there's a certain trendiness to this whole gluten-free lifestyle that irritates some people, but honestly, I can't get too upset about it. I can go online and find a recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free matcha cupcakes so quickly it makes it all the worse that I haven't gone to Kroger to pick up the materials to make them. There are whole websites dedicated to food allergies. All of this information is available to all, and you know what? If people decide to eat the way I do because they want to be different or whatever, so fucking be it. That just means that the food I can eat is only going to get less expensive, making it easier for restaurants to provide people like me with alternatives without having to charge me twice the normal cost. And if I have to endure insufferable, pretentious pricks in the process? Meh. I have to do that, anyway; might as well get a discount out of it.

Except in East Nashville. I think they just want to keep things expensive so they can feel special. Or something.

* That just sounds like it should be some sort of food fetish joke or something.
** "But it's organically grown, free-range lettuce!" Shut up.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I'm inspired, guys. INSPIRED, I TELL YOU.

The trend-setting NRA has published a list of their enemies, or basically anyone that has ever said, "You know what? I don't think everyone should have access to an automatic assault rifle." Despite the fact that this is the sort of thing you'd expect on the back cover of an angsty sixth grader's notebook, I'm sure that this will start a wildfire of copycat Enemy List makers.

So I'm going to get ahead of the curve and do my own:

  1. NRA (obvs)
  2. KKK
  3. Westboro Baptist Church
  4. My current landlord who stole our car
  5. That bitch Lauren who called me fat in middle school
  6. Chevy Chase
  7. Clowns

I don't have even close to 506 anythings, so I guess I'll have to try harder to find people who have done me wrong.
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