Friday, July 26, 2013

Hugs, chocolate and Pamprin ...

I have actually thought long and hard about posting this, since it's still incredibly close to me, but then I remembered that I'm me and that I can't really hide anything deep within the recesses of my brain for too long because it just pops out like a cork under too much pressure.

So, here goes.

I'm not going to lie: when I was ten, I was positive that I wanted to have five children, and I even had ten full names for them all, depending on whether or not I had girls or boys. I'm sure my list is somewhere in my boxes in storage up in the attic, written in my full preteen self's handwriting. As I got older, much to the amusement of my mother, I whittled the number down to one, where I firmly stand. First of all, kids are damned expensive, and secondly, I'm not sure I would really want to deal with any more than that. Granted, this could probably change at some point in my life, but a lot of that kind of depends on whether or not Three and I can have children.

We've been trying since we got married to get preggo but with few results. Although it was never confirmed by a doctor, I do believe that I had a miscarriage about a year ago, thanks to the most extreme period that I've ever had (and hoo boy, do I have some Extreme Menses [TM]), and I've been tracking my cycle like a damned hawk. I even downloaded TWO period trackers that had a different ovulation day, (ick alert) monitored my vaginal discharge, took prenatal vitamins, etc. etc. etc. Still, we got nothin'. Around seven or so months ago, I nearly had a breakdown. Poor Three was just joking when, after a full two weeks of daily sexytimes (and then three days' rest because, shit, sex is a workout and he was working 12-hour shifts), he asked after he found me unwrapping a tampon, "Aw, honey, what's wrong with your uterus?" I saw the transition in his eyes from "haha I am jokes" to "OMG WHAT DID I JUST SAY TO HER I AM HORRIBLE," and I knew that he wasn't trying to be cruel, but that didn't stop me from bursting into tears and bawling, "I am broken!" He felt like the worst husband on the planet and spent the next four hours consoling me with hugs, chocolate and Pamprin.

I've been told by several medical professionals that because I have regular periods (yay and boo, obvs) I am probably fertile, but that they wouldn't be able to say for sure until I got tests done and HAHAHA ARE THEY KIDDING THOSE ARE EXPENSIVE. Fertility tests and treatments are not covered by insurance, understandably, I guess, but it's very discouraging and, honestly, super depressing.

Then I ran across this website that is dedicated to celebrating what they call "Not-Moms." At first, I was a little skeptical because I am still not entirely comfortable with the idea that I may or may not have Teh Bebeh, but reading a lot of the articles that they posted actually got me thinking about why I was so desperate to have children. A quote on their "Famous Not-Moms" page is as follows:
In particular, this list exists for any woman who mistakenly believes that without giving birth, she will leave no legacy.
I don't think that this is necessarily the entire reason that I want to have at least one kid. Part of me wants to raise a child with the knowledge that I would try to make sure that they understood that they are loved and accepted for who they are, even if they don't follow my prescribed set of values or desires. Another part wants to live vicariously through someone who is just experiencing things for the first time, to feel the joy and terror and skepticism and thrill of learning something new, so I can get a new perspective on things. There are a thousand other reasons why I'd like to give birth to a kid, but yes, I would like to leave a legacy of sorts. To know that somehow, a bit of me lives on and can affect other people even when I'm gone. Not that I don't believe that my art or my writing won't do that, but there's a certain static nature to that sort of thing. But with a living, breathing person? The possibilities are endless! Which yes, I know can also lead to hahaha I'm the great-grandmother of a serial killer! Wheeeee!

So of course I'm torn. Of course I still feel a little stab of jealousy when I see my friends' status updates about the cute thing their two-year-old did or when the media does nothing for a few days but cover the birth of the future king of the UK. Of course I start to count the ways my life would be just as fulfilling without a child as it would be with one. And I'm still young, so of course my current childless existence may change, save an early menopause (for which I am at high risk, THANKS, GENES). But this little voice in the back of my head lets me know that I'm not really ready to accept that I may never bear crotchfruit (and I say that with the highest regard possible). I may never be okay with it, but at least I'm taking the time to think of it, I guess?

All I can do right now is live my life as it currently is. I can't change what's going on in my uterus obviously, whether or not it has to do with me or with the husband, which THANKS, LACK OF MONEY. Today, I took the time to read the Beatitudes, a piece of literature from the Bible that I think Christians should want in our courtrooms instead of the Ten Commandments, and found myself reading further into the Sermon on the Mount. Even though I don't hold the Bible to the same level of sacredness that a lot of Christians do, it is a book that I've read through several times, and this verse was the one that stood out to me: "Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day." Oddly enough, I felt a lot better. THANKS, JESUS!

I may be childless now, and I may forever be known as the Lady Who Has No Kids, but I really shouldn't worry about that right now. There's no point. And really, that's all I really needed to hear.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

As a writer, I'd like to think that I paint all of my characters, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or skin color, with the same brush: well-rounded, complex, etc. They're all kind of like my children; I know their backstory, what their dreams are, and where they are hopefully headed. Growing up, most of my characters were white because, hahahaha, I'm white, and well, you know, you're supposed to write what you know, correct? When I got older and became fascinated with anime, several Japanese characters would occasionally pop in to populate the woefully whitewashed casts of my stories, and then my interests delved into social anthropology (which is such a cool subject) and linguistics (I swear, this does fit in!). Lo and behold, new characters of all sorts of colors, creeds, sexual orientations, etc. started playing much larger roles in my narratives, and honestly, I felt super proud of myself that I'd learned how to create a diverse universe. "Mad props, Juj," I'd congratulate myself.

It's helpful, in my case, that most of my characters live in worlds that are different from my own but are nonetheless familiar. For instance, Ren, the main character in my "Legion" series, is from a city-state that I modeled somewhat on Sri Lanka, and my mind's eye pictures her as Tamil. Another character from the series is Captain Koca, who I initially believed was kinda Irish looking, has instead revealed herself to me as having Japanese or Korean features and culture (although she still has her flaming red hair and height). The only character in that series right now that is white is Mason, who more or less serves as the straight man among all the strangeness. In other stories, like my short story, "Waking Up," the characters are not really described as having a skin color; instead I focus on how they dress, their attitudes, etc. Part of this is because I want to eventually make it into a movie and I don't want to limit myself to certain people for the characters; I'm a big fan of open-ended casting, like Shonda Rhimes approach when finding actors for "Grey's Anatomy." It wasn't until the actors had been selected that they gave them last names. Pretty inspired, if you ask me. How the show developed beyond that point ... well, I'll just leave you to your own opinions on that one.

Now, I hate to say things like "I'm colorblind," because, let's face it, folks, it's incredibly disrespectful (and reeking of privilege) to even think it when talking to a person of color. Other better bloggers and journalists have covered this topic before (Google it!), so I won't delve too deeply into it. But when I watched the following video, I had to really think about how I handle race (and all other issues and words related with it) in my writing:
I highly encourage everyone to watch the whole thing because it's pretty incredible. I actually teared up a bit, as I just cannot imagine what it's like to see your race/ethnicity/whatever caricatured*, even if it's done by a seemingly well-intentioned person like I believe J.K. Rowling was**. Since I am very much a white woman (Polish, French-Canadian, Native American - we think Cherokee, if our family tree can be trusted - and a smattering of a bazillion other things because hahah I'm several generations into the whole "American" thing), it's important for me to truly examine why I started putting men and women of color into my stories. Was it to just "add color" so I couldn't be accused of being racist? Or was it because they just happened to be that way?

Growing up in the South, race relations have always at the forefront, even if you don't actively seek to talk about it. It just comes with the territory, where the culture is still dealing with the aftermath of the Civil War (we are, and anyone who disagrees with you is either lying to you or to themselves or possibly/probably both), so naturally, race is going to come up when I write anything. I live with it every day. This is not to say that the rest of the U.S. and hell, the world, has moved into that supposed eutopia of post-racism because BWAHAHAHA ARE YOU DUMB, but in the southern United States, it's just more visible because of the history. Now, this is not saying that there aren't racists in the South; hahaha of course there are. There are racists every-fucking-where, but it's just kind of expected from here. Cue: giant eye-roll.

Anyway, it's no surprise that I would take a different approach to race whenever I write someone who isn't white, but I'm starting to wonder if it's enough. I don't have the experiences, upbringing, or biases that would adequately prep me for writing a character of color, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I should just not try. And when someone approaches me (because someone will - and I don't mean that in a sarcastic way; it's just an understanding that you have to come to when you deal with the public, that you aren't going to please everyone and that, yes, you may even offend them), I'm going to listen to them earnestly about their criticisms. That's all I really can do. The above poet actually did a follow-up vlog about a lot of the outcry (both positive and negative), apologizing to anyone she might have offended and opening up further discussion and thoughts on the topic, which I find both brave and incredibly encouraging. If you should feel so inclined, I highly suggest you look up her response on Youtube.

At this point, I'm just rambling, and haha it's because I haven't really slept very well the past few days thanks to a long bout of playing with my new art tablet (thanks, Mommy!) and getting a short story ready for submission to an anthology. So with that, I bid you all adieu and good night! Or morning, since it's now 04:17. Sighhhhh. 

* Yes, I know there are caricatures of white people, but please remember that this is privilege we're talking about here. You don't see white people playing the same character in that they are in, unlike a lot of minorities. 
** I honestly don't think that Ms. Rowling went in wanting to create a flat character or a stereotype when she created Cho Chang (hahahaha Garcia Sanchez - that's my favorite part of the video), but I also don't think she thought it all the way through. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tampons are NOT anti-feminist, you flapjack.

Look, as most of you know, I'm a lady. I have lady parts. Those lady parts bleed once a month for about four to five days because my uterine wall is an asshole (and also wants to make sure that I can have behbehs). As a matter of fact, I'm on day four as we speak. And yes, I use tampons because I think that pads are gross. I'm lucky in that I can use them, because I am friends with several women who cannot due to various reasons. There are also women who prefer pads to tampons just because. So whatever. Who the fuck cares?

Apparently, The Daily Beast does. I spent so much time arguing aloud with this article that I actually woke my husband up all the way upstairs. My childhood (and well, adulthood, too) was filled with fun conversations that involved all sorts of body functions - just part of the bliss of having a colon and rectal surgeon as a father and a nurse practitioner as a mother. So perhaps I never understood the stigmatization of my menstrual cycle because I never had to deal with it. My father would go buy me tampons like it was no big deal, and both of my parents gave me the "this is what's going on with your body" talk. Any boyfriend that I had was never, "OMG EWWW YOU HAVE BLOOOOD?" Yes, I've even had awesome sex when I was having my own personal shark week. That was my first problem with the article.

When the author, Soraya Roberts, brings up two people - Giovanna Plowman and Carina Ubeda - that have eaten a tampon or painted with her menstrual blood (respectively), I pretty much screamed, "That is because it's fucking disgusting!" I'm a bit more lenient with Ubeda, since as an artist, I can see where she's trying to be ... artistic, but still. I'm not going to buy a painting that has human blood on it, regardless of its origin. I would have the same reaction if a man ate his butt plug or used his semen to sculpt an exact replica of the Millennium Falcon. It's GROSS.

Moving on. I'm going to skip the "but periods aren't in movies and TV" section because, well, unless it serves as part of the plot, it's kind of unnecessary, and step directly into the history of tampons, which were kind of like what access to The Pill was like just a few decades later: freedom for women. Like I said above, pads are not the most fun to wear, especially if you don't want to feel like you're wearing a diaper. And as someone who has severely heavy flow, this happens pretty frequently, and I can just not even imagine what it was like for women who had to wear cloth as a sanitary napkin. At least pads are designed to be absorbent. I am thankful that I live in a time where I can go to a supermarket and pick up a box of Tampax Pearls.

While all of this information was ... well ... informative, then the author just kind of goes off the deep end. Like, I'm not even sure she knows what point she's trying to make.

This quote from Sharra Vostral made me so mad I had to get up from my computer:
The assumption is you have to touch yourself, and kids, and especially prepubescent or virginal girls, should not be doing that ... If you're a virgin, you're supposed to use a pad. Otherwise, you should use a tampon.
OMG, YOUNG WOMEN KNOWING AND UNDERSTANDING THEIR BODIES AND THEIR SEXUALITY BEFORE ACTUALLY HAVING SEX WHERE ARE MY PEARLS FOR THE CLUTCHING. Fuck that. I was using tampons by the time I was twelve, and I didn't even have sex for the first time until I was 19. Now, I don't know if Vostral was saying that this is the assumption or that she actually believes this absolute crock of shit, so I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that she's just reporting what she's heard. But the fact that this is actually something that people in general think bothers me waaaaaay more. Who's business is it if I choose to wear a tampon or a pad? WHO'S??

Grumble, onto the next part, which actually brings me a lot more rage. And I quote (it's long):
Tampons aren't a bloody mess; pads are. They put your fluid on display, they can smell, and you can't flush them down a toilet - in short, they are visible. 'Part of the stigma is the need to hide [the menstrual blood] right away and not feel it against your body,' [Ingrid] Johnston-Robledo says, and adds that she thinks women who are more comfortable with their bodies 'would be more likely to use products where you really have to look at and interact with your fluid as opposed to clogging your body with a tampon and just tossing it into a toilet.' She considers pads the middle of this continuum, with a menstrual cup being the polar opposite to the unobtrusive O.B."
You, my lady friend, are making some pretty big fucking assumptions about women who use tampons versus women who use pads. So a woman who uses a tampon isn't as "secure" in their own body? How about maybe I actually just don't want to

Basically, this, along with Xbox assholes being all "OMG A LADY IS NOW A BIG WIG UGH I DON'T WANT TO PLAY BAKING GAMES," has just pissed me off for the rest of the day. And honestly, I don't even know what this Roberts is trying to do with this article. She doesn't really make any sense, since tampons really do seem to be more empowering than sexist and "keep the woman invisible." While I agree that menstruation is looked at by many people, men and women included, to be a taboo subject - although I do not count myself or the majority of my friends in this group - this is not the way to go about it. Education is important; boys and girls alike need to know more about how their bodies work so that way they don't freak out (this has never happened to me, so I'm just guessing that some people respond this way??) the first time they realize that, yes, Virginia, women do have periods and, yes, they need to have some way to keep the blood from going everywhere.

The only positive thing I brought away from this article is that I now know of Genesis Be and my new favorite song, "Tampons and Tylenol." So, thanks for that, Daily Beast. You fail everywhere else, though.

So I totally forgot that I signed up for Klout.

I got an email today that was like, "CONGRATS YOUR KLOUT SCORE WENT UP," and at first, I was all, "Wait, huh?" However, I followed the link and, indeed, I had signed up for Klout. My score is piss-poor, from what I am to understand (35 hahahaha), although somehow I had a 90-day high of 47.whatever. Which ... huh?

Like, seriously, how the fuck does Klout work (and also, why do I have such a hard time typing out Klout?)? I get that it takes your social media accounts and then calculates your score based on if people respond or retweet or whatever, but beyond that, I am kind of wondering what the hell it actually does. Even their "How It Works" page is unclear. INFLUENCE! Okay ... But what if people read whatever you post all day and are like, "Hey, that influences me in some way," but they don't actually take action on it? It just ... it baffles me.

And obviously, I care tremendously about it, since I cannot even remember when I signed up for it (and connected my Facebook, Twitter, Google+, AND Instagram accounts).

So I guess my question is this: is anybody else just as ambivalent as I am about this? And actually, follow-up question: does anybody actually have more insight as to how Klout is supposed to help people?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm moving backwards in time ...

When I threw out my portable phone nearly three years ago, I'd have told you right then that I would never again have a land line, and because life kind of has a way of making you eat your words, I'm thankful that no one ever asked. Last week, the husband and I downgraded to one cell phone and exchanged the other for a plug-in-the-wall land line phone. It's been ... a transition. Yeah, that's the best, least loaded word.
You know, I wish we'd gotten this phone.
Now, I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not married to my phone. I'm not on it at all times, and I even put it in my purse when I drive because nothing pisses me off more than turning my head to glare at the person who's been swerving in and out of their lane and they are fucking texting or whatever. I specifically wanted a smartphone because I figured, well, I want to have a media presence, and if I'm not at my computer, what will I do then?? Huh? HUH?? Wait until I get home to tweet about my awesome experience at Logan's Roadhouse? I THINK NOT. If you ask any of my friends, they'll tell you that the longest they've ever talked to me on the phone is about five minutes. Maybe. Three minutes is usually my max, because I've gotten distracted by something else or I honestly have nothing more to say and don't want to drag the conversation into awkwardsauce territory. So of course, my phone was mainly used for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I even downloaded the Blogger app, but hahaha, yeah, I never used that.

Despite all of this, I teetered between mania and relief. What? I can't take another picture of Zeus, the stray cat that I've apparently adopted, and post it on Instagram? Whee! This "new" corded phone (we bought it for $2.99 at Goodwill, betches) makes me feel all nostalgia-y! Wait. I can't text people?? OMG. MOAR RITING TIME!! Huh. This means they'll have to a) email me, b) message me on Facebook or Google Chat, or c) call me on the land line (although none of them have the number). This definitely limits the amount of time I'll have to talk on the phone. Right? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I am spazzing out, where's my wine? I didn't realize how much of a connection to the damned piece of technology I'd made, although I'd like to think that it was mainly because of Spotify. The first day that Three took the phone to work, I felt off and even went about trying to find my old iPod so I'd have something that resembled my phone. And I did find it in a box of shit I'd completely forgotten about, in all its chunky glory.
Yep, this bad boy. It feels so heavy now.
As the week went on, though, I kind of liked the fact that I wasn't constantly reminded that I had a new email or that a telemarketer from Utah was trying to sell me a vacation cruise. I'm sure they'll get our new number eventually, but for now, it's nice. And I've found that not having my iPhone with me when I go on walks actually is refreshing, since I get to hear the birds and cars driving up on me before they honk, redneck-style. I don't know if I need a cell phone now, although there's a little part of me that just cringed.

Maybe I just need more time.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 30: What I Think Made Buffy So Great

Yay, I'm finally done! Getting to write about Buffy as a whole is actually what I've been waiting to do since the beginning of this exercise, which I've been woefully inconsistent at updating, but you can blame that on my being a Sagittarius. (I do.)

Anyway, Buffy, for me, was my first introduction to fandom. At that point in my life, I hadn't ever gotten so engrossed in a story that I wanted to tune in each week to find out what would happen to the characters that inhabited it. That trend continues to this day (with the exception of Orphan Black, which seriously, you should check out because it's amazing, and the Mass Effect video game series), although it is not due to a lack of me trying to find something. Perhaps it was the outcast angle, where all the main characters were both embracing and rejecting their Otherness, that I caught onto the most. I wasn't necessarily the school pariah, but I definitely didn't fit into the little box that my high school's culture wanted me to. It took until the 10th grade for me to be like, "Wait, I only have to deal with you guys for two more years. Why do I care what the fuck you think about me?" And of course, I was presented the wonderful Anya in that same year, who, like we all know, replaced Willow as my spirit animal, and that really only cemented my love for the show. I wasn't too pleased with how the story went, but I was willing to go into Season Five, which was brilliant (and part of me wishes that it had ended there, since Buffy's story was technically done).

Now, I was not always sold on Joss Whedon being Nerd God Descended from on High (TM), since there were a lot of things that he got wrong (race, female empowerment, homosexuality, etc.), but the fact that he approached these topics in the best way he knew how? That's pretty big. And the series really turned gender roles on their heads: all of the male characters played a support role, and actually, that theme was explored with a lot of them (Xander, Giles, Riley-yuck). Buffy really did stand on the shoulders of giants (Bewitched, Xena, Barbarella [hahaha], etc.), but it in turned paved the way for new female protagonists like Katniss, Hermione, and even characters like Blake Lively's (I don't know the character's name and don't care to) on shows like Gossip Girl. That's pretty impressive, methinks. And I think, also, that Buffy will be one of those series that is referenced by future media creators, not only as an inspiration but also a primer on what not to do, particularly race and gender identities (I have a hard time believing that Willow was 100% gay because of her relationship with Tara, but that's another topic entirely). The show was an important step with television, showing that a woman could be the lead role and could get a mass of followers that would trudge through the bad and revel in the good and, to this day, have an entire academic study dedicated solely to the topics that its creators delved into throughout its run.

So yeah, good show, Mr. Whedon. (Also, thanks for not making her like Kristy Swanson's version. Ugh.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 29: Episode I Hate the Everyone Else Loves

I'm basing this on the time that Buffy fans were given the option to rank their favorite episodes back when Logo had a fan favorite marathon, and I found myself a little aghast at their choices. Number 24 was "Grave," which just left me thinking, "Whaziwhaaa?"

I mean, I've already made it quite clear that I really hated the Dark Willow storyline because it just reinforced stereotypes about lesbian characters and because magic as a euphemism for drug use was just so eyeroll-worthy that I nearly gave up on the series when Whedon and Co. decided to go there. Plus, Giles magically overwhelming Willow with humanity (Huh? What? How ... you know what? Whatever.) so Xander's little "Yellow Crayon Willow" speech could reach her was such a deus ex machina that I actually screamed at the television. Then, there's Buffy's "I want to show you the world" comment to Dawn had me reaching for the remote. Really? Buffy's entire arc of hating the world because she was in heaven is going to come back to this? Why didn't they just stick her on a magic fucking carpet and give her a genie lamp? GOD.

How is this supposedly a fan favorite? Like, I realllllllly want to know. It was the culmination of lazy storywriting that just continued into the next season, which we all know is just rife with that kind of shit. This does really have me questioning Buffy fandom because ew. HATE this episode.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Uggghhhhhhhhhhh ...

Being a Sagittarius, I tend to go into all situations with a hopeful attitude, even if I know the probable outcome of the endeavor. It makes me seem a bit foolhardy to most, sure, but meh. I prefer to think positively instead of expecting the worst possible scenario. Sometimes, though, even I have to draw the line.

Last night, I had the wonderful opportunity to go over to a friend's apartment and chill out while talking about everything under the sun, including my own writing, Dax Riggs, religious in/tolerance, and erotic horror (there are connections to all of these, I promise, but uh, you'd kind of have to have been there?). Oh, and there was beer.

For those of you who don't know, I have lots of food allergies, the most recently developed of these being a gluten sensitivity. I can still eat some breads, but they have to be whole wheat, and I can't have a shitload of it - a slice or two, maybe - or else there'll be tummy rumblings and general grossness. The funny thing is, beer is kind of how I found out that I was sensitive to gluten, kind of like how I found that I was allergic to latex through condom use. I would wake up after a wild night of wildness, which included a whopping, like, three beers, and feel like absolute shit for nearly half a day, while others who'd drowned themselves in a case were all bouncy and like, "OMG, we should drink again tonight!" Needless to say, parties in college were not a huge staple of my social diet.

Anyway, last night. A friend brought some Rolling Rock, and I thought, "Hmm, I probably shouldn't drink this in huge quantities or very quickly." So I took one and nursed it for several hours, figuring that I'd be okay. Ha. Hahahahahaha. This logic has never worked for me in the past, and I have no idea why I thought it would be any different, but whatever. Around two or three hours after we got back to the house, as Three and I were lying in bed, I felt this weird airy hardness in my stomach that traveled up my esophagus. I groaned because I knew exactly what was going on and what I needed to do, so I kissed Three on the forehead and went downstairs to the bathroom, where I proceeded to experience this horrible set of bodily functions: sweating, gas, diarrhea, vomit, etc. I have no idea how long I was in the bathroom, since I fell asleep with my head resting on the toilet seat and woke up on the floor.

All of that, and only ONE. DAMNED. BEER. Today has been a recovery day, and I keep looking at all of these projects around the house (aka laundry, brushing my teeth, cleaning up the dirt on the kitchen floor that I tracked in when I half-assed took out the trash, etc.) and just thinking, "I don't wanna." It's even kind of taxing to sit and think about what to type next. I don't even think I could watch mindless television right now. It's times like these that I'm glad that I am 1) self-employed and 2) work from home. I'm going to go guzzle a whole glass of water now. Wish me luck, friends.
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