Tuesday, December 29, 2015

At Least My Weird Is Universal?

Yet another way in which I am not a normal woman popped up in the last week. Yes, I am pretty much a weirdo across all genres. Where's my girl scout* badge for THAT?? 

Over the holidays (a word which should be said quietly with a reverent "thank the Gods for them, thank the Gods they're over" possibly with some salt thrown over a shoulder for good measure, or some incense... or an exorcism) more than one relative of mine said some version of the following: 

"You have the weirdest divorce I've ever seen." 

I suppose it IS pretty weird compared to the divorce attorney commercials on the local "rock" station that promise (in a charming Southern accent**) to "protect men's assets and his ability to provide for his kids", or reality TV divorces that seem more like a Jerry Springer episode drawn out for eight thousand years of shitty "entertainment" ages in the media. 

There have been "friends" in both our lives since we separated who try desperately to convince us the other is going to make life hell, or take everything, or destroy the other person. On one hand, I pity the fuck out of those people. Really: the best they can do to support a friend going through a painful breakup is fill their mind with imagined threats? 

On the other hand, their idea that a relationship has to sour over STUFF is disgusting to me. Just...disgusting. 


The holidays themselves had some hard moments for me: winter solstice/Christmas/New Years is a natural time to reflect anyway, and there are things about him and us that I miss terribly. I expect I will always miss those things, and you know what? I SHOULD miss them. I lived with my to-be-ex-husband for twelve years. I have loved him for almost fifteen. Why would us divorcing make me suddenly hate him or not want the best for him? What an utterly asinine concept.  

Yup, I recognize this makes me uncommon compared to the commonly-held stereotypes about splitting up. Is it really so awful to agree as a couple that regardless of our relationship status, deep down we still care about each other and don't want to see each other suffer more? 

Hmm. Maybe my understanding but not empathizing with WHY people think it's weird is exactly what makes me weird. Honestly, I don't get it. But when it comes down to brass tacks (a phrase that baffles me because OW)...I don't much care, either. My own brand of easy-going mixed with stubborn ass makes the whole split pretty simple: I loved before, of course I still love. Others' discomfort with my loving AND divorcing isn't really my concern. 

His and my well-being is my concern.

Things were done by both of us: we were together a long time, hurts happened. So did joys, mistakes, vacations, fights, make-ups, support, celebrations, and a couple dogs. I still hold to my original post about our separation last spring: badmouthing my ex-husband will earn you instant fuck-off points, and you'll slide down my "I respect you" scale pretty fast. 


Because ex-husband doesn't equal ex-friend, much less enemy. I'm lucky to have had a decade with him in my life as a husband. I learned a lot about him, myself, and about what I think is really important in relationships. The end of our marriage doesn't change those things, and I intend to keep him in my life as my friend as long as he'd like me there. 

*Never was a girl scout, so maybe there IS a badge for that?? If so, can I get one honorarily with my next shipment of Thin Mints, please? 

**So seriously, is that accent fake to bring out "good ol' Southern family values" in those stupid commercials? 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Random Weird and Adolescent Humor

I have no point in this post, other than to share a thing or five I noticed today that weirded me out.

First, let's talk about sperm whales. Because the tale of the Essex is now in theaters and of course the whale is the villain. My thoughts about the story of the Essex aren't about whale rights or whaling or Moby Dick...

No, I was struck by the utter ridiculousness of the name.

What the fuck. I mean, really, what the actual fuck?

What dumbass decided a sea creature bigger than the average ship looked/sounded (let's not go into the other senses, shall we?) like SPERM* of all things? I have absolutely no decent reason for why this plagued my brainpan today, but it did, and I had to find out. Thankfully, Google is there to help with burning questions about male ejaculate, even as pertains to whale names.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: when Googling, be certain you include "whale" in the description. Even so, it's better not to Google at work. Learn from my mistakes, and let's all hope I'm not fired, ok?

*As it turns out, whalers really did think the whale's forehead was full of sperm. In reality, it's filled with some weird waxy substance that probably looks ridiculously gross.

Moving on.

Groupon...which is not quite as random a transition as it seems. I get email ads from them regularly, so while I was re-Googling sperm whales on my phone (and thus avoiding the potential firing offense of search results for "sperm" anything) I got mail. It makes sense to me.

But really, there are things I find baffling to sell at their discounts. Such as:

Driving a tank - advertised at 50% off, which I assume means 50% off the price, not that you get to drive 50% of the tank. Driving 50% of a tank seems...unbalanced, somehow, doesn't it?

Boudoir Photography - OBVIOUSLY discounted because there's no amount of airbrushing or photo-shopping that would make me look anywhere close to the mannequin Barbie doll Victoria's secret model in the ad pics. And truly, getting into some of those positions seems dangerous as hell...how would I go back to work if my leg gets stuck...never mind.

Acupuncture - Because, for anything remotely medical OF COURSE I feel comfortable with the bottom of the barrel pricing.

Botox - WHAT THE HELL?? If you're going to inject botulism into your FACE, do you really want the bargain basement place to do it?

Breast Implants* - See Botulism botox injections...bargain basement boobies. REALLY??

*I am not kidding. I have indeed seen implants and other plastic surgery listed on Groupon.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

ADVENTURE is a Double-Edged Word

I haven't blogged much lately: truth be told I've been fighting off a depression of sorts for all of November. Most days it's been hard to muster the energy to be pleasant at work, so I haven't written much at all. 

That's not a request for attention: I get these once or twice a year, and I know what to do. I don't get suicidal: I get numb, as though I'm watching life go by from outside a frosty window or from beneath an iced over lake. Everything seems two steps removed from positively affecting me (although my internal demons are especially loud). 

It fixes itself with a bit of time and rest: I just have to wait it out and remember The Bloggess's mantra: depression lies. The most terrifying part is waiting for human-like feelings to come back (because what if they don't?). 

But because the Jess's-patience-bucket is full-to-overflowing with no more room for stupid, I withdraw from most peopleing time while I'm in the middle of this bullshit. 

Holidays, however, wait for no demons. 

This was the first year in 14 that I was uncoupled for Thanksgiving, because separated. I expect Christmas will be equally...different. And so, instead of hanging around for four days with the dogs watching bad TV, I went to the farm outside of Cloquet. Yes, the same Cloquet where Jessica Lange was born. 

No, I'm not named after her. 

Amusingly, Blogger's spellchecker doesn't recognize Cloquet. Not terribly surprising. 

The farm is a bit of land near a river where my Grandma, aunt, her partner, and the real owners (horses, ponies, dogs, cats, guineas, chickens, and now two skunk kits) live. After all, we're all on their schedules, and rightly so. The skunk kits are a stinky new addition to the barn, and likely won't be a permanent one. 

I've added a couple of pictures from the weekend's shenanigans...which helped in the feeling-sorta-human department: 

Found in the local grocery store next to "normal" cereal. Because in northern Minnesota, regularity is apparently so important there's special poop-inducing granola JUST FOR WEIRDOS:

SO many captions possible here, I just can't choose. 

I'm now 100% convinced the corners of the basement on the farm hide something vampiric. There isn't enough room to store a coven of human-sized vampires, but there's DEFINITELY room for gnome or brownie-sized bloodsuckers.

Since I found this on the windowsill, I'm guessing sun-aged blood is tastier?
*(Grandma swears it's molasses...I did NOT smell or taste to be sure. 

Most people do the dishes looking out the window at the yard, the woods, into the neighbor's house (awkward)...

Grandma watches a spider protect the kitchen by catching ALL THE THINGS. I come by my weirdness naturally, people.
Charlotte, watching over the sink. 

On a different note, I discovered my renters (I don't know which ones) were apparently doing some sort of demonic rituals in my house while I was in Texas. They left this shit behind, up against the wall in the far corner of the top shelf in the laundry room. I think it's posessed.

It will be going to someone else for Christmas.
Fuck you, former renters.
No really. Fuck you and your creepy clown spy. 
 Evil disapproves*

*Evil is at a stage where the word "no" said NEAR her creates insta-crying. As discovered when this picture was taken, after the N-word was uttered in casual conversation in her vicinity. It's adorable and hilarious, and laughing ONLY MAKES HER ANGRIER. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Errant Vegetables In The News

I love Huffington Post. No, I didn't include a link. Yes, that's on purpose.

Not because it's an example of fair journalism (they aren't), nor because of the quality writing (it often isn't), nor because the site is so full of integrity* (definitely not).

*this is a site that doesn't pay any of the writers. At all. They offer "exposure" instead...because bloggers, journalists, writers: we can all make a living on free exposure, right?

Hmm. I wonder what exposure tastes like, if that's the grocery budget?

Anyway, I love Huffington Post because they have the best headline writers.

Examples from today (all in the same section):
  • What Science Is - And How And Why It Works
    • Oh Neil deGrasse Tyson...I just...wow.
  • Yes, You CAN Wear Red Lipstick, And Here's How
    • because the basic functionality of how a tube of lip color works is beyond most adults, apparently?
  • How To Successfully Navigate a Threesome
    • Again, ALL IN THE SAME SECTION (Science!)
      • Interestingly, this one pops up (haha) in the Women and Divorce sections as well. Hmm.
  • Can You Think Yourself Into A Different Person?
    • Are you attempting to invade someone else's brain and take over, like a body snatcher? WHY THE FUCK would you want to do that?
    • Clearly, I'm doing meditation all wrong if this is a thing.
  • The Latest Science On Having a Rewarding Christmas
    • Sigh
And my #1 favorite for the day:
  • Here's Why You Should Stop Scaring Your Poor Cats With Cucumbers
    • do I really need to say anything here? REALLY?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Updated for Clarity: This post is rated R for graphic imagery.

It has been brought to my attention that this post is an emotional response in itself. I disagree, and as such have added clarifying points at the bottom.

I usually warn when it's not a funny post. This time, I'm warning for a different reason: I have an excellent imagination.

Truly, this is not a post for children or the weak stomached.

Refugee: a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country,  in a time of political upheaval, war, etc.

And, simply because I think a dictionary that includes the defined word in the word's definition is lazy:

Refugee: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster

I'm disappointed and a disheartened, and I've waited to say anything to see how things play out in social and mainstream media. After the last few days, I am convinced that the venom I've seen recently stems from deep seated irrational fear that media is only fueling. Where is the THINKING?
Rule #1 in war propaganda: dehumanize the opponent, because it's easier to dismiss the horrors done to fellow humans if you don't consider them people. Are you falling for it?

For those of you adamantly against bringing refugees into your country, state, city, neighborhood, or home because they're "terrorists", I would like you to take a few minutes to imagine something.

Imagine that your neighborhood was bombed.

Think about what that smells like: smoke, hot stone/asphalt/metal of melting cars and buildings. Burning trees.

Burning flesh.

Think about what that sounds like: the ringing in your ears if you were close to the blast. Wailing sirens. Crackling fires. Crumbling buildings. Screaming and crying of the injured, both people and animals, or of those who've found parts and bodies.

Think about what it feels like, the physical shock of the blast itself, I mean, as it knocks you off your feet (if you're lucky) or shakes your building and covers you in debris. Your HOME is gone. Not only is YOUR home gone, all your neighbors' homes are gone, so unlike a horrible house fire where you can still find shelter locally, there IS NO SHELTER LEFT. There is no safety. You have nothing left: no money, no possessions, no car, no way out.  

Let's not even begin to imagine what it might feel like physically to have an arm or leg blown off.

Think about what the taste of mustard gas must be like (oh, did you not remember that there are multiple reports of chemical warfare being used against soldiers AND civilians in Syria?). Mustard gas burns everything it touches: skin, lungs, eyes. Death by mustard gas is blinded burning suffocation. 

Imagine you're injured in the bombing: burned, broken, bleeding, and instead of the ambulance with EMTs to save your life you're greeted by someone with a gun who's sweeping the neighborhood to be sure everyone's dead. What do you think about in that moment before the bullet hits?

Imagine cramming your entire family into a room, hiding from terrorist fighters in the streets, wondering if the next shot will come through the wall and kill any of you. The constant, ever present knowledge that you can't protect your spouse or children, that death is waiting outside every second.

Think about your family, your children, your friends, your colleagues: EVERYONE you care about living in a place where this happens every day.


Imagine wondering if your son or daughter will die before dinner today, because you can't safely get them out of the area before the bombs or guns show up.

Imagine being hungry enough to eat rats.

Imagine what it's like to bring your family to a camp that is supposed to help only to be raped. Repeatedly.

Imagine what it must be like to know your sister was captured as a sex slave and sold and resold, knowing she'll likely die within a year.

Does this disturb you? Do you feel sick to your stomach? 

Have you considered what those reactions might mean if you consider fear versus compassionate response?

And because it was brought to my attention that this can be misconstrued as an emotional response, let me be clear. THE POINT HERE IS TO THINK ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONAL REACTIONS. I see a lot of commentary in both regular media and social media that is so clearly a knee-jerk fear response: what if terrorists come along with refugees? What if refugees take all our money/jobs/resources/time/energy? What if we ignore other populations in favor of refugee assistance?

What if someone's religion/culture/situation scares the shit out of me and I have no REASON to want to keep them out of my life, but I FEEL that way? Does it mean I must be right?

The point of my imagination exercise above is to show that there are multiple ways of thinking about this: if you can step back from your own emotional response, maybe you can consider another's situation. Compassion and empathy can be (and should be) a conscious choice. You can feel afraid and be compassionate. It is possible to be compassionate and still pay attention. Safety and kindness aren't mutually exclusive. If the refugees were the same religion as you, or the same color, or wore the same wardrobe, or liked the same foods/hobbies/culture as you, would you be so afraid?

And to the argument that we (I assume that's the United States as a country and a nation and a population, since I've seen "we" used interchangeably for those representations) should help the situation by stopping war? Well, I say good luck to you, and by all means please fix it. And it's a massive cop-out - strategic solutions can't solve tactical issues. I would refer you to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. There is NO WAY for a population to "fix" a "problem" (let's stipulate I find war to be bigger than a "problem", ok?) if said population is in constant fear of their/their families' lives, if said population has to choose between physical survival and safety, if said population is consumed with the IMMEDIATE need of staying alive.

Refugees aren't running from situations in which they can fight back. They aren't soldiers trained for war. They didn't bring this onto themselves nor do they deserve what they got simply by being a certain religion, nationality, or sex. They aren't terrorists: they are the targets of terrorists. These are people literally living in hell who have no resources, nowhere to go, and all they want is to raise their families in a safe place.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Series Review: The Original Sinners (Tiffany Reisz)

"Romance is beautiful, it's a gesture, it's a walk in a park with a pretty girl. Love is ugly sometimes. It's a crawl through a war zone to save a friend. Romance whispers sweet nothings. Love tells painful truths. Romance gives an engagement ring. Love takes a bullet." - The Queen, Tiffany Reisz

Tiffany Reisz doesn't write romance novels. She writes about love. If you're looking for the Shakespearean "everyone gets married" romantic comedy or the Disney fairy tale "happily ever after" you might find parts of it here, but I guarantee those parts won't be typical or easy. 

The main character, Nora Sutherlin, is a professional dominatrix and erotica writer. The love of her life is a Jesuit priest. Her boss, best friend, and occasional client is the king of the BDSM underground. Oh yes, the empty shells I describe here were enough to pique my interest when I read the first book, The Siren, but they are only shells in this sentence. The intertwined lives, loves, experiences, and pasts of her characters are so fully developed you can't help but keep reading because even when they're total jerkface asshats they're fascinating. 

They are unapologetically complex humans who happen to live in text instead of New York. By definition, their complexity makes their stories complex, vivid, painful, and exciting.  Set against an extremely detailed backdrop of the BDSM scene and carrying a decidedly Catholic undertone (the author is billed as "dropping out of seminary to become a smut peddler"), the back cover copy could just as easily indicate a scintillating erotica tale. 

I mean, what's naughtier than including the Church and BDSM sex clubs in intertwined, overlapping worlds for your characters? And there is a lot of explicit erotica, make no mistake. But unlike many of the books labeled "warning, explicitly hot!" in the Romance section of Barnes & Noble, the sex scenes fit within the world. These are not books based on loosely connecting dirty moments with a flimsy story. Reisz explores all the corners of love, pain, and healing by putting her characters through cringeworthy pasts and blushworthy (ok, also often cringeworthy) situations: erotic and otherwise. 

I'm not going to lie: some of the scenes are horrendously uncomfortable to read. Some of the scenes are horrendously uncomfortable to even think about. There is darkness and real evil (the sort humans do to each other) in the story arcs that Reisz faces head on: this is not stuff for the faint-hearted. There are no limits, and your only safe word as a reader is to put the book down. 

If you can. 

Also (because I'm a stickler about terrible writing) let me just say how much I wish this woman would teach a writing class. If you read all eight novels in a row it's easy to see her skills' progression. The tight, clean writing and vivid imagery starts out strong only gets better. The quote at the top of this post is one of the best things I've read in a long while.   

This is not fluffy feel-good reading or mental junk food. Oh, but it's so, so fantastic you find yourself reading every possible short story on her blog and buying the next book in the series the day it's released. I don't buy a lot of books anymore: usually I stick with the library unless I'm so enamored with a character/world/story that I know I'll re-read it. I own every book in this series. 

I read the final installment, The Queen, in a night (and have the bags under my eyes to prove it). So yes, if you want a real BDSM erotica tale and/or if you just want a fucking excellent story with characters you can't help loving and hating all at once, read The Original Sinners series.

Start with The Siren. The list, in order is here

Thursday, November 05, 2015

I Had Too Much Sugar Today

None of these are enough for a single post.

  • Someone found my blog by googling "unmanning husband" which sort of baffles AND intrigues me. 
    • OF COURSE I HAD TO GOOGLE IT. And I did indeed find the post in question...along with the oddest random assortment of links I've ever seen. Seriously, wtf? 
      • Macbeth - A critical reader
      • A tumblr site about...well, let's just say I'm not clicking THAT link
      • A Newsweek story asking the burning question: are women better grillers than men?
      • A book review for some fiction piece set in Sicily
      • The dictionary. 
  • Someone who shall not be named but is indeed extra evil posted about moist clowns on Facebook. THIS is why I hate social media. 
    • It's possible I harbor a bit of loathing now, and revenge plots swirl in my head. 
    • Particularly since my equally-evil aunt took that shit and ran with it and tormented me via text about moistened clowns all goddamned day. 
  • Just wait until someone finds my blog by searching THAT little phrase. I won't be clicking on any of those links either, FYI. 
  • Thor decided yesterday would be an awesome time to poop on my living room floor. Sigh. Because he's a jerk, that's why. He was neither ill nor left overly long. Related: A 100 pound German Shepherd would fit into adult sized Depends, right? 
  • I'm supposed to be NaNoWriMo-ing, but I've been in requirements hell at work and have yet to start my NaNo project for the month. Sigh. This weekend is going to be full of uninterrupted, no-social-media-no-TV writing time. I need to catch up, already. 
  • I bought paint for my living room two weeks ago. It took me 3 months to finish painting the last corner of my office...I wonder how long that paint will sit in the utility room waiting for me to erase dog-and-kid-and-moving smudges from the walls? 
  • OCD people probably shouldn't visit my house. 
  • Unless they want to clean...in which case, come on over! I have chocolate. 
Like I said...not a real post today: more of a superball ricocheting off the inside of my skull. 

Who CARES whether men or women are better grillers? 


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blessed Samhain

Samhain is a night in which time pauses: a crossing point between what has been and what is to come. A time to remember and honor those who have passed before us, and a time to look forward to a new cycle of the year.

Grandpa Ron, who left us suddenly and too soon but will never be forgotten. I still smell your cigars occasionally at the farm.
Grandpa Lars, who came from Norway in 1923 to become a successful silversmith and always had a joyful twinkle of mischief in his eye.
Grandma Ruth, who quietly encouraged me to eat another serving and calmly argued with Lars about Swedes being just as good as Norwegians.
Aunt Christine, who defied all norms to run her own business and paid for my ballet lessons as a child to ensure I was exposed to art. I follow in your footsteps now and hope to be an aunt as influential.
Grandma Evelyn, my niece's namesake, who made absolutely the best fudge ever, and who spent a great deal of time in the nursing home reciting her extremely large family's descendants to keep her mind sharp.

Robert, who never failed to joyfully take up all the space in a room with his generous laugh and wildly perfected costumes.

I remember you with love and will spend time with the shared stories of our pasts tonight.

I will remember that in all endings, including jobs, moves, and relationships, come the seeds of new beginnings.

Tonight isn't about sad dwelling upon the end,
But allowing endings to pass in peace and love,
So to begin anew tomorrow.

May your Samhain be blessed, and may tomorrow bring your next grand adventure.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Might Be A Jerkface

This is a little ranty...I'm not sorry.

I'm sort of inundated with books to review right now (two for a magazine, two for a website, and another one on the way, plus I still want to review Furiously Happy in a more meaningful way)...which is why I've been all incognito-like on my own blog. It's a sad thing, but I haven't had much funny this month with all the extra work.

Today, I submitted the review for THE BOOK. The most horrible thing I've read in quite some time.

Sigh. I actually told the editor to feel free to ask me to revise the review if I was too harsh, and that's after I spent more time revising a 400 word piece than I really should considering the time/pay ratio.

I may be a totally judgmental asshole here. I'm not against self-publication. Hell, I'm considering it as a possible path toward my own authorship. But for all that is holy AND unholy, if you choose to go to the trouble of formatting your work correctly, finding cover art, digging up an ISBN, and self-publishing it...HIRE A GODDAMNED EDITOR. At the very least, have a couple beta readers who aren't related to you and have no sexual or parental relationship stumbling blocks preventing them from telling you the truth. Seriously, it doesn't require sacrificing a goat or your firstborn (um, if it does, you may want to review other editorial ads out there...MOST editors and proofreaders just want money, not souls)...just accepting that writing is a process and someone needs to give you the truth.


If you cannot write a sex scene, I totally get it. Too embarrassed, not sure how to write it without being either prudish or porny, firmly believe sex should be private, your church/parents/children/boss might read it, whatever. I don't care WHY you can't write it: all those reasons are totally valid. But if you can't, don't try to gloss over it by saying stupid shit like "and they did what came naturally."

Breaking the fourth wall and addressing the reader directly is really fucking hard to do successfully. I can't do it, and I don't know of many authors who can. Don't wink at your readers (no, really, DO NOT TYPE "WINK WINK" at your readers).

None of that made it into my review, because I totally get that this was a passion project for the author and I don't want to rip it all apart publicly. I actually think the bare bones of the story were pretty good: she just needed better tools to help revisions...because I felt like I was reading a first draft with notes to herself instead of an actual book.

And so I might be a total jerk who has to redo another version before the review gets into the magazine. In the meantime, I get to write about Vikings (the people, not the purple), and Carthage, and sex in the Roman world.

And that's just a fucking awesome lineup to wash the taste of bad writing out of my brain.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Cold Medicine Induced Hallucinations

I think I may have spelled "hallucinations" incorrectly.
Huh. Blogger says nope. Well all right then.

I've been a miserable coughing shell of an actual human for the past three weeks or so, with a cold or allergies or a malicious and truly disgusting phlegm alien taking up unwelcome residence in my lungs. I'm tired. I'm on every cold drug known to man and and an allergy deterrent...and I'm still sucking cough drops like mad (none of which does me any good). This is not a plea for pity: this is an explanation for the possibly-drug-induced weirdness lately.

Blogger says I've had over 25,000 views in the last month, and yesterday for the first time ever I had over 1000. Because Blogger's stat tracker doesn't count traffic to the other pages of the blog, and 99% of the more-than-50 views are on my "about me" page and not on an actual post, I suspect it's a bot. Still, I did a double take today, having been too tired or sick to even look here in the past week. This could be cough-drop drunkenness, after all.

I flew to Houston to meet The Bloggess on her book tour at midnight on Thursday and home at 6am on Saturday because I'm fucking insane cheap and had limited PTO, but I didn't want to miss it. I'm sorry to all the people on the plane who might have thought I was sicker than I am (I coughed hard enough to break some capillaries in my cheeks, so I looked like I had the measles, which is SUPER ATTRACTIVE you guys...I DO NOT have the measles or anything else worse than a cold and allergies, and my cold was already in the non-communicable stage).

Friday night my super awesome friend Jodie and I sat in a very warm (90 degree) back parking lot in a mini-mall, next to a dumpster, behind a medium-sized metal chicken and various curler-headed red dress wearing fans. If you aren't a Bloggess fan that entire run-on sentence made absolutely no sense to you, and for that I'm sorry (not that it didn't make sense...I'm a sorry you aren't a Bloggess fan, because you're missing some serious excellence). I'm not kidding, I thought the chair might collapse under me. The crowd gave Jenny Lawson a standing ovation when she crawled out of the dumpster walked onstage. It was awesome. Her reading was awesome. And I finished my copy of Furiously Happy in two evenings. It's that good. Go get it. And if you meet her, don't be a dick and make her cry like I did (by accident!! When she found out I flew from MN to TX for the signing she teared up, and I said "Oh god, don't cry! I CAN'T BE THE ONE WHO MADE THE BLOGGESS CRY!").

Seriously...all those metal chickens angry with me? No, thank you.

Colds turn me into an 80 year old: I'm utterly wiped out by 6pm. In the last three weeks I think the only reason I saw darkness at all was because it's fall and the damn sun is disappearing. It's pathetic. All that sleep gives me ample opportunity for all the most horrific dreams to replay in cinematic glory in my brain.

I've been eaten by sharks twice (Ok...in all fairness that one may be my own fault. I HAVE been looking into doing a great white shark dive off the coast of San Francisco...but that's another post).

My eyeballs have been taken by spiders as web decorations. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, BRAIN??

The dogs have died in front of me in such varied and horrifying detail I wake up shaking and crying, and I break all the rules and bring Thor up on the bed (even though his panting shakes the whole fucking thing and makes me think of those creepy vibrating beds in movies and D minus hotels) just so I can be sure he's breathing.

I've fallen off cliffs into a black abyss with no bottom six times. I know this one sounds the least terrifying. It is not. This is the one that sticks with me for hours after I wake up, and on the really fun versions I'm joined by some sort of people-are-tasty-snacks type cave creature.

I think it was just my body's way of forcing me into preparations for October's Halloween extravaganza, but seriously...I'm so damn tired. 

Also, the spider eyeball thing was just over the top. Really. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Filed under: UTTERLY worth the 6am flight.

In T-Minus (wait, did I just write the equivalent of T minus minus? Whatever: you know what I meant) three days + one business day melting in Houston...

I get to see The Bloggess!

Live and in person (which may mean under a table, which I completely understand and support).

I can't wait to see how many Rorys are floating around in the crowd. Wait...Crowd surfing Rory...hmm...this should happen.

If you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, I say go forth and read both of her books immediately. Or get lost in her blog for a couple of days. Well worth the time.

Oh shit. Does this mean I'll be reading Furiously Happy on the plane on my way home Saturday?

Dear fellow passengers at 6:40am: I will not apologize for the snortling. I promise when I start to wheeze and cough I'll put it down and knock myself out with a Dramamine for the rest of the flight.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

I Broke My Funny Bone

Actually, I think I severely sprained my writing-anything-amusing bone. That should not be confused with a writing boner, which is really a different genre entirely.

I started a new job last week, and while I really like the team and the culture (and hello, benefits) I do miss setting my own schedule. The rebel in me chafes a bit on principle.

The point is: the past week or so has been pretty close to the first week of school when I was a kid. It takes me an adjustment period, and during that time I sleep like absolute shit. And therefore start nodding off around 8pm...because I'm a super exciting party...(yawn).

Tonight I stupidly decided the long hike would be good, since it's been a while, I was home by 5, and I'm apparently a sucker when my idiot brain says "seriously, this'll be great for us!"

The long hike is 3.5 miles in a park with demonically steep hills about every 200 yards. The first few are actually sort of helpful: imagine a large, out of tune orchestra playing bits of SOMETHING all together so you can't focus on one thing. If I don't have a way to expunge the surface garbage of news headlines and how gross I think a vegan recipe for mac and cheese would taste, it's harder to get to the good stuff.

I have a couple choices for feng-shui-ing my brain. First: journaling. I learned the Natalie Goldberg "wild mind" method in high school creative writing class, and that shit still works to get the Lucky Charms demented Leprechaun weird images out. Meditation works too. Sometimes opening my yap and spilling rainbow flavored verbal diarrhea works, but that's just...well, it's rude.


Exercise works because I can pretty literally sweat out all the toxic brain bits. Hiking works better than anything else because running makes me want to puke and swimming, while I do love it, puts me in real danger of inhaling chlorine water mid-evil-thought and drowning. I suppose there are worse ways to go...and now I'm thinking about poop again. Sigh. I'm so damned ladylike.

Plus, hiking is more of an adventure. Tonight I heard two owls hooting at each other, scared the bejesus out of a deer (the bejesus was really scared out of both of us, and I'm pretty sure the bejesii went skipping off in another direction together), thought bears might be heading my way but it turned out to be lumbering mountain bikers, and had an entire flock of crows laugh at me for a good 1/4 mile.

They actually perched in the tree above me, looked down, and cackled. That is not the exhaustion talking. I was fairly amused.

It's clearly been a while since I hiked, because I didn't get to the relieved state of a cleared mind until the second mile. The hills usually help: a fat girl huffing and puffing up a godawfully endless steep hill gets to a don't look up, the top is too far away and you'll just quit. Just put one foot in front of the other and be fucking careful not to sprain your ankle again because NOBODY will come all the way out here and roll your ass back to the car stage. I appreciate every terrible hill in a twisted sort of self-help-inspiration way. They force me to focus on the moment. They force me to keep going because I'm too damn stubborn to go back down and it's just one more step, then one more, then one more. And suddenly it's the top and I can look back down while I catch my breath and be sort of surprised I got so far.

Tonight, the first three hills gave me Dory's irritating "just keep swimming" song instead of clarity. I know I'm evil for saying so, but I really didn't enjoy that movie. Therefore, I'm CERTAIN I've not brain-dumped the bullshit in a while.

See? There is no funny in here today, only crass bathroom humor and sleepiness.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Old Ones...or...Why I Shouldn't Be Allowed In Public

This should be filed under "yup, she's disturbed and thinks weird dark things" and you're welcome to ignore this post if horror isn't your gig. Or horror humor. Or really fucked up thought processes resulting in inappropriate innuendo. 

Yes, yes, I know it's early to be thinking about Poe and Lovecraft...it's still August, after all. But this week it's been cold enough at night to actually sleep under the covers AND Renaissance Festival started, so I'm in autumn mood. 


I saw some horror art today that was Lovecraftian in nature: black tentacles reaching out of a center point, surrounded by human skulls-and-spines like some disturbing pinwheel of death. It was creepily beautiful, if you can wrap your mind around those two words working together. 

I got to thinking...humans are ever so full of ourselves as a species, even in horror. 

Let's imagine for one second that the Old Ones, Cthulhu and the rest, existed and are indeed just waiting out there in deep space for Hellboy or some foolish person to open a portal so they can come back. Let's imagine Leviathan (Biblical) or Jormungandr (Norse) have been hanging out in the depths of the ocean, encompassing the world, for millennia. 

Imagine what immortality might be like: where anything with a short life span matters less over time because, well, you can always get another one. Seriously, why would they give a hoot about humans at all? 

Humans, for example, live an average of 75 - 100 years. Dogs live an average of 10. Ants live an average of 45 - 60 DAYS. Do we care when a valued pet dies? I certainly hope so. Do we care when an ant dies? Um, speaking for myself here I have to say no, I really don't. 

Do I NOTICE when I have ants? Sure do: and I go about exterminating them so my house is clean. Do I make a point of saving ant skeletons (or exoskeletons, in their case) with which I terrify them and torture their existence? Indeed I don't give their psyches that much thought at all. I suppose were I Buddhist that would make me a bad one...and to be fair I don't mess with anthills outside (I figure that's their space, as long as they aren't fire ants in my yard). 

I have a point.

Given our size, our life span, and our penchant for colonizing every inch of space on this planet, how could humans not be considered the equivalent to ants to The Old Ones? 

Why would Cthulhu bother terrorizing ants, creating a pit of despair lined with bony dead human trophies? Even ant serial killers (not serial killers who ARE ants: that's just silly. I'm thinking the creeps who like to use magnifying glasses and sun to burn the little dudes to death in some disturbing version of a Greek Death Ray) don't stack up the dead anty bits in warning to other ants. 

The pinwheel of death art was neat, but it's a little ridiculous: only a human would create something like that to psychologically affect another human. The need to be FEARED implies a need to be recognized and valued (positively or negatively) by those who fear you: the terrorizer's value of the terrorized's opinion. Incitement of fear response is a defense against something which could potentially harm or kill: a wolf doesn't fear a rabbit and so doesn't make a point of threatening a rabbit. A wolf can (not always, but there is capability) fear a human, and so bristles and growls, attempting through incitement of fear to get the human to back the fuck off. 

Of course, it can be argued that they are kill trophies. Like a serial killer, or an interstellar Predator hunter. You know, like deer heads on the wall for decoration? Yeah, I don't get that either, but some people like it. Trophy decoration implies an opinion of the animal involved. Hanging a deer head on the wall is an advertisement that the hunter overcame something difficult to hunt, right, at least theoretically? Please let me be clear: I DON'T LIKE trophy hunting. Never have. I don't get it: eating the deer meat should be enough in my mind, but whatever. The POINT is that there's some psychological reason for displaying hunting trophies which implies the creature's importance to the hunter on some level...and that I've never seen an ant head or squirrel on anyone's man-cave wall. 

I'm not saying that, if the Old Ones saw humanity as ants, they couldn't or wouldn't exterminate. I mean, for all I know they ARE Daleks. I'm saying it's ridiculous to think they'd bother with psychological warfare, being both immortal and presumably all powerful (or, at least, so much more powerful we are essentially unable to conceive of the limits). 

And so, the idea that an ancient evil god imprisoned in space for a bazillion years, such as Cthulhu, has a collection of human bits either as kill trophies OR as instruments of terror seems...well it just seems somewhat unlikely. 

Now I'm seriously wondering if ants have Lovecraftian style horror stories about humans. "Boots On The Ground, and Other Terrifying Tales" to be read in short story form, because hello: 60 day life span. 

Also, animals with longer life spans than us, which would potentially be more of a pet to Cthulhu than we are: Galapagos Tortoise (190 years). Bowhead Whale (200 - 245 years), Greenland Sharks (190 years), Koi (200 years), Ocean Quahog Clam (400 - 550 years). Obviously, I make no comment on the intellectual capacity of any of them...what does a clam think about for 500 years? 

Oh dear. 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Yahoo Spam Thinks I'm a Cheating Alcoholic

You know, it seems odd to begin with that a separated woman gets emails inviting her to join "married but looking" cheating websites geared towards husbands, particularly when Ashley Madison just got hacked. Thanks Yahoo, but no, I'm not looking for a Asian girl or a fuck buddy named Adriana (who can't POSSIBLY be 18 since I've gotten spam from her for about six years now). In related news, I also don't have erectile dysfunction, so no need for Viagra or "Ta-Da Phil" tabs (Cialis, people...the medical name is "tadalafil", which makes me think TA DA PHIL!). 

Now I'm also getting repeat emails from someplace called Sober Dawn, advertising a prayerful enlightening escape from alcohol and drugs. And from AlcoholRehab. 

And from someplace called Burial Insurance. 

Yes, I think all three of these are related. 

I keep my yahoo email for exactly this reason: it's the one that gets sold when I join a rewards program or order something online. And...I'm sick enough to be amused at the regular cycle of religious dating sites, credit repair sites, and cheating/sex sites. 

I wonder if I can get Ashley Madison on the National Organization for Women's spam list...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DO NOT Google "Velociraptor Arms"

The nearest Starbucks to my house is either a couple miles up the freeway (which is a terrible idea between 7:30 and 8:30am, since I only want a damn coffee and not two hours in traffic for three miles), or a fairly meandering twisty series of roads through an upper-middle-class neighborhood. Of course, I take the twisty roads, because i'm already cranky (hello, no coffee) and don't usually want to deal with people in much of any capacity in the morning. 

Of course, residential roads through upper-middle-class neighborhoods mean many people who seem to work off-hour schedules or just don't work at all: there are plenty of dog walkers, joggers, and too-tight-for-your-age-yoga-panted-middle-aged-women speed-walking in the  morning. But today...

Today I saw a velociraptor. (by the way, my spellchecker wants to change "velociraptor" to "Velocipede" which is A BAZILLION TIMES MORE TERRIFYING* in my brain. Fuck you, spellchecker). 


Anyway, this morning I passed a guy jogging comfortably (meaning, he was neither sweating profusely nor was his face red nor was he panting like he was going to die: in fact, he jogged EXACTLY opposite of how I jog) along the sidewalk in his baggy pants and oversized t-shirt. His clothes hung loosely on a pretty tall and lanky body. He ran with his head unaligned to his body: ie, it was leading the rest of the body by sticking forward just a little. 

And he held his arms at a 90 degree angle with his hands dangling limp, waving a little with his movement. 

You guys, he reminded me of a toothless, pasty white, bald velociraptor who'd missed a few meals. 

Or a large chicken with mange? Do birds get mange? I bet not...whatever makes chickens lose their feathers. He was a featherless bird with no beak and floppy forearms.  So yeah, velociraptor. 

Hmm. Reminded is a poor word choice: it implies I've SEEN a toothless, pasty white, bald, skinny velociraptor. In point of fact, I have not. I'd like to, maybe, but only from a distance. With a large fence, and maybe a herd of cows, between us. 

Um, he evoked the image in my broken brain. Let's go with that. 

I ran track in junior high (that's 7th and 8th grade for those of you who have no fucking idea what I mean by "Jr high" because idiot school districts now call that "middle school" for some ridiculous reason). I remember the rules about not clenching my hands into fists while I'm running, which always seemed unnatural to me, since I rather like my hands in fists...

It's easier to fight off starving velociraptors if I'm prepared. And, as YouTube tells us, Velocirpators are assholes. 

Ok, obviously this post is getting out of control and it's probably time to stop and do actual work. I just wanted to say...googling images of velociraptor arms was rather surprising and occasionally disturbing. I can't say I recommend it, but now that you'll probably do it anyway make sure you look for the standing bear with chain saws on his arms...because that TOTALLY makes sense and belongs in a velocirpator images page. 

*Ah, also, it's completely ok to google "velocipede". Not what I assumed at all, which really just says a lot about what's wrong with my brainpan. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's Dorian. Dorian Cruise.

Last week I watched Mission Impossible: Tom Cruise Never Gets Old.

Let me preface this post by saying I love the MI movies, and not just for Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner. I love them because I can usually see foreshadowing clearly, and so not many plots are surprising. In MI, of course the good guys will win in the end, but damn if they don't take the most ridiculous and unexpected twists along the way that make it fun.


After much thought about Tom Cruise and how he looks almost exactly the same as he did in the first one, I've come to a conclusion.

Obviously, the benefits of breaking into the upper strata of Scientology include a Dorian Gray-esque simulacrum which ages on your behalf.

Is it a Dobby chained in the basement? A painting in a secret room of one of his mansions? A Ring of Power? Super secret cloning technology (in which case, is he part velociraptor)?

I'm sure I'll never know.

And you can thank Mission Impossible for this entire line of ridiculousness.

PS: If you are lost on my references here, please read the following. Do not watch the movies until you've read the books...that's passing go, people, and DO NOT PASS GO.

A Picture of Dorian Gray
Harry Potter
The Lord of the Rings
Jurassic Park

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

It Matters. You Matter.

I tell myself some version of "it doesn't matter" upwards of a thousand times a day.

Not all of that is a bad thing:

It doesn't matter that I'm so sleepy: get up. 
It doesn't matter that I don't feel much like working today: do it anyway. 
It doesn't matter that the dogs made a huge mess: it's their job. 
It doesn't matter that the neighbor kids run through the back yard. 
It doesn't matter that I don't want to work out: I'll feel better if I do, so get going.

The positive mantra is all about learning to let go of irritations that really don't make a difference to health or happiness in the scheme of your life. But as a coping mechanism against disappointments, or hurts, or failures, or depressions, that phrase is both sneaky and insidious.

It's all friendly and casual on the surface, which is exactly why it's so fucking dangerous. Someone stood you up without reaching out at all and you feel unappreciated? It doesn't matter: no big deal, you'll catch them next time. A promise you'd counted on was broken? It doesn't matter. All your hard work has resulted in failure so far? It doesn't matter. That which is vitally important to you is dismissed by someone you respect? Doesn't matter.

I actually catch myself saying out loud "it doesn't matter, I CAN'T LET IT MATTER" to myself on a repetitive loop: too many occasions to be healthy. The devil is in the intent, here, because It Doesn't Matter is a terrible two-faced assassin who smiles charmingly to your face while jamming the knife in further, twisting the meaning internally to "I don't matter."

In dismissing the things that deeply affect my well being, I am saying over and over that I don't matter. Words have power: telling myself I don't matter by brushing off what's important to me just because it may not be important to someone else is both self destructive and unhealthy. And silly, if I'm being honest. But, to quote Pretty Woman, the bad stuff is easier to believe. Yes, I just quoted that Julia Roberts hooker movie. Suck it.

Hmm. I wonder if some version of "suck it" is the key here. Not a sexual innuendo version...today is not a gutter-mind day on this blog, people.

"It matters. I'm hurt/angry/disappointed. I MATTER. Suck it up anyway and keep going" seems a whole lot healthier and...hmm...empowering, I suppose, versus the constant mantra of "it doesn't matter, it's not important" even when something is too big to even talk about.

If you follow The Bloggess at all, you know depression lies with lying lips and fiery pants. While it's not easy to remind yourself of that in the thick of the fog, I have noticed that when I'm better I stop paying attention to the lies. I don't STOP the lies. See the distinction? I've gotten into a bad habit of dismissing myself, my thoughts, my feelings, things that are vital to ME. I've allowed it to continue when I'm not in a low moment by pretending it makes me stronger by not letting hurts get to me. By saying it doesn't matter, and I should just keep going.

It's not true, and by pushing all the things that matter to me in a deep hole in my brainpan I've only created an icky pool of gross that overflows occasionally, flooding me with muck. It needs to be thoroughly scrubbed out and refilled with something actually good for me.

Like chocolate.
Or fun stabby weapons.
Or a harem of Gerard Butler, The Rock, and a few others...

Um, anyway.

The point is: it matters. What I'm passionate about matters. Who I care about matters.

I matter.

And so do you. Don't forget it.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Serendipity? This is not a real post.

You guys,

Someone found my blog by searching "barfy foot massage."

If you don't recall, I wrote once about exactly that here.

Also, I checked when I was in Houston this week: it's still there. I still don't have the balls to walk in there: I'm not ashamed to say vomit smell makes me gag.

I miss my girls in Houston, but I'm infernally happy to be home.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Houston: Put The Death Rays Away. I'm Visiting.

If this is my last post due to melting under Texas heat, will someone please scrape what's left of the puddle into the ocean?

I'm heading to the office in Houston for a week on Sunday...my app says the temp will be a balmy 100 (or, if I'm really lucky, 99).

However, I will probably cause all sorts of trouble with a couple disturbed excellently evil hospitable ladies and who knows, maybe I'll get kicked out of another snooty French restaurant?

It'll be a sweaty adventure. With real guacamole, inappropriate shenanigans, and fantastic brisket.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mythic Monday: Scylla and Charybdis Part 2

"You will find the other rock lies lower, but they are so close together that there is not more than a bow-shot between them. A large fig tree in full leaf grows upon it, and under it lies the sucking whirlpool of Charybdis. Three times in the day does she vomit forth her waters, and three times she sucks them down again. See that you be not there when she is sucking, for if you are, Poseidon himself could not save you; you must hug the Scylla side and drive your ship by as fast as you can, for you ad better lose six men than your whole crew." Circe to Odysseus, The Odyssey, Book 12.

Scylla, the "savage, extreme, rude, cruel and invincible" monster who eats crews six at a time is still the better option than her sister monster, Charybdis.

Scylla and Charybdis are the worst of the feminine dangers Odysseus faces on his trip home: they are the final trial after leaving Circe's palace and passing the Sirens' isle. If Circe's island and the Sirens represent temptations of the flesh leading to death if not resisted and controlled (gluttony, drunkenness, and sex), Scylla and Charybdis are the inescapable power of Nature, often represented in Greek myth as an impersonal feminine rage. Neither Scylla nor Charybdis were out to personally murder Odysseus: both simply are what they are. It's up to Odysseus to take care around them, for neither care in the least about him and will continue to act accordingly to their natures regardless of his presence. It's a good lesson for Odysseus in humility: there is NO way to conquer either creature. He can only hope to survive. And survive he does: against all odds, he does it twice (although the second time Odysseus's raft is swallowed by the whirlpool and he finds himself clinging to the fig tree above her, watching as his little vessel is destroyed and belched up in bits).

The Odyssey doesn't specify any physical attributes of Charybdis other than her tidal powers of dragging ships to the bottom of the sea thrice daily. I suppose for a sailing culture her destructive powers are terrifying enough without necessarily discussing the actual creature causing the whirlpool, since by design no mortal would've ever actually seen her.

It's possible Charybdis was once considered a goddess of the tides. Aristotle refers to her as such in his work Meteorologica, and a her name is linguistically similar to "Keto Trienos" (Sea Monster, Three Times). Later, in Virgil's The Aeneid. she's described as the daughter of Gaea and Poseidon. That'd be the Great Mother Goddess (Earth) and the God of the Sea. Ah, incest in Greek Myth (Gaea was technically Poseidon's grandmother, after all).

As most monsters prove to be, Charybdis is one of the faces of the destructive power of the Goddess. She is described unrelenting, voracious, and unapologetic in her hunger. She stole oxen from Heracles and was banished to the bottom of the sea by Zeus's thunderbolt as punishment. In some versions of this later myth, Charybdis is a lovely girl and loyal servant of her parents who, in her punishment by Zeus, is turned into a giant "bladder of a monster" with flippers and a voracious thirst which could only be relieved by swallowing the sea three times daily.

It's worth noting that Charybdis appears in all three major hero quests in Greco-Roman literature: The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and Jason and the Argonauts. ONLY Jason and the Argonauts are able to pass the straits safely, because they carried Thetis with them as a guide. Yes: that's the same sea nymph Thetis who birthed Achilles and was the daughter of a sea god, but her tale is another post.

Charybdis still haunts the Straits of Messina as the natural whirlpool on the northern end of the strait. I'm sure the sailors today haven't seen the creature herself who resides at the bottom of the sea there, but some of the art out there depicting Charybdis is fantastic and worth looking up. The watery sarlacc pit with teeth is my personal favorite. Since the tides still whirl in that spot three times a day, I imagine she's still there, waiting for ships to sail too close to the edge.

Charybdis depicted in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mythic Monday: Scylla & Charybdis Part 1

At some point in life, most people are forced to choose between two options knowing that regardless which is chosen, they'll lose. In current linguistic idiom, there are a few phrases that properly convey an impossible choice: the lesser of two evils, a rock and a hard place, the devil and the deep blue sea (ok, maybe that's not a currently used phrase, but it's out there nonetheless), etc.

In ancient Greece, a person was stuck between Scylla and Charybdis: two sea monsters known for eating sailors and destroying ships. Two monsters Odysseus had to outwit in The Odyssey in order to make it home. 

Location-wise, for reference, the theory is that Scylla and Charybdis menaced the slim passage between Sicily and Italy, now called The Strait of Messina. For you cartogrophiles out there, that'd be the point on the map where it looks like the toe of Italy's boot is kicking Sicily into the sea.

The Strait of Messina
Photo copyright Mapquest via Navteq
Also for reference, I've heard "Scylla" pronounced "silla" by many, but in general "c" is a "k" sound in Greek, so most mythological texts indicate it's pronounced "SKIL-uh" or "SKUL-uh" but if you speak Greek and want to correct me I'd welcome it. "Charybdis" would then be pronounced "khah-rib-dis" because "ch" is pronounced as a "k" sound. 

So, as these two harridans of the sea have enough to discuss between them to qualify for a chapter instead of a post, I'm splitting them up. We'll begin with Scylla this week. 

As many females in Greek mythology, Scylla becomes her dangerous self through no fault of her own. In all the versions I have found, Scylla is loved by the wrong god and a jealous rival poisons her. It's the details of her parentage, lover, and destroyer that differ. 

Scylla is the daughter of supernatural creatures: in one common version she's a naiad (a water nymph, sometimes the daughter of a river god) who unfortunately catches the eye of Poseidon, God of the Sea (and brother to Zeus, which makes this relationship the equivalent of the CEO falling in love with a mail intern in terms of power). Scylla didn't really have a chance at all in this version. One of Poseidon's other lovers dumped a poison potion into Scylla's favorite bathing pool, cursing her to a horrendously monstrous form for all eternity. However, it's worth noting that the written version of the Poseidon-lover myth dates later than Homer's version in The Odyssey (8thC BCE). 

In another common version, Scylla is cursed by none other than Circe (the powerful sorceress partner/mentor to Odysseus in The Odyssey) for being loved by Glaucus, Circe's love interest at the time. Again, worth noting that the love triangle aspect involving Circe is not mentioned in Homer's text. this doesn't mean the myths regarding Scylla didn't include both parentage and love interest: more likely it means Homer took Scylla's tragic background to be common knowledge and didn't feel compelled to include her history in his tale. After all, Scylla was merely one of the two feminine horrors Odysseus had to conquer to make it home. 

And of course, we have Ovid's version. Recall how Ovid is rather unkind in his opinion of females in general (see Medusa's tale). In Ovid's retelling, Glaucus is rejected by Scylla and goes to Circe for a love potion to force Scylla to come to him. Circe, however, is a jealous woman already in love with Glaucus and removes her rival with poison instead of a love potion.  

Ultimately, regardless of the origin of her fated bath's contamination, all the tales agree that the poison inflicted upon Scylla changes her into a horrible creature with six heads, each with three rows of teeth (great white teeth, perhaps? One of the associations of Skylla is "skylax", or "dog-shark"), tentacles, a fish tail, and a belt of DOGS. Yeah. Live snapping angry dogs.In some descriptions of her physical transformation, she's human female from the waist up, dogs at the waist, and fish or tentacles for a tail. 

No, I can't determine the logistic feasibility of wearing a belt of vicious dogs, but fishermen do tell the best sea-monster tales.

Scylla becomes a horrid cannibal "terrified even of herself", living in a sea cave across from Charybdis and attacking ships as they pass, plucking men from the deck and eating them alive.  

What I find terribly interesting AND telling in both versions of the myth is that Scylla herself is NOT said to love either Poseidon or Glaucus: she's merely a cardboard cutout who becomes a voracious eater of men through no fault of her own. Interestingly, it's worth nothing that the Circe's sorcery isn't considered "evil" until until Ovid's tale is taken up by 19th century authors. In fact, Ovid's tone is rather condemning of Scylla for being too shallow to accept Glaucus as he was, and wrote as if she deserved her punishment because of course, who cares if she loved him: he loved her and therefore she has no right to refuse. Honestly, I have suspicions regarding Ovid's luck with romantic encounters in his personal life. 

Odysseus doesn't kill Scylla. In fact, Scylla appears later in the Aeneid and in tales of the Argonauts as one of a sailor's most terrifying perils on the seas. It seems fairly clear Odysseus counted himself lucky to ESCAPE Scylla, and destroying her was never in the plan at all. That honor is attributed most often to Heracles (Hercules, for you Roman mythology folk). 

"As when a fisherman on a promontory takes a long rod to snare little fishes with his bait and casts his ox-hair line down in to the sea below, then seizes the creatures one by one and throws them ashore still writhing; so Skylla swung my writhing companions up to the rocks, and there at the entrance began devouring them as they shrieked and held out heir hands to me in their extreme of agony. Many pitiful things have met my eyes in my toilings and searchings through the sea-paths, but this was most pitiful of all."
Homer, The Odyssey,  Book 12

And so, Scylla goes down in history as the second most terrifying of two evils. Even Pliny the Elder mentions her as a known peril of the sea in his Natural Histories (Book 3), written in the 1st century CE. (I suppose it'd be dated prior to 79CE, since Vesuvius sort of ate the Elder Pliny. Pliny the Elder mostly likely died of asphyxiation from poisonous gasses while attempting to escape Vesuvius' eruption, the same eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum). 

Ultimately, Scylla is the LESSER of the two evils associated with the Strait of Messina. Circe, the same sorceress who may have turned Scylla into a monster, advised Odysseus to sail closer to HER and avoid her counterpart at all costs, even at the cost of the crew members Scylla devoured. 

Circe knew that while Scylla would decimate Odysseus's crew, Charybdis could swallow his ship in one gulp and belch nothing but seawater. No sailor took on Charybdis...not even Odysseus.  

But she's waiting for next week. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Mythic Monday: Hades and Cerberus...A God and his Dog

Double dose this week (it's a long post to make up for missing last week).

This is not a post about Death, or the afterlife, or heaven and hell.

This is a post about a lonely god.

Before Zeus and his siblings took over Olympus, they were all swallowed whole at the moment of their birth by their own father, Cronus. Cronus had received a prophecy that his son would kill him and take over his rule, and big daddy was having none of that teenage shenanigans, so instead of family therapy he decided to just nip all possibility of being overthrown in the bud. By eating all his children as soon as they were born: girls too, because you can never be too careful.

Rhea, his wife, got tired of losing her children and managed to trick Cronus into eating a stone instead of Zeus when the last baby was born. The story of how Zeus came back and became the ruler of Olympus is another tale...what's important here is that Zeus was the BABY of the family. His oldest brother, the god* who spent the most time languishing in the darkness of daddy's belly?


Hades is the only God I can find in myth who is BOTH the oldest AND the youngest boy in his pantheon. Hades was the firstborn son of Rhea and Cronus, and last regurgitated by Cronus. Whether it's this experience or just his nature that makes him the serious God is hard to say, but he's decidedly

So, fast forward to Zeus freeing the rest of his family. Then the six of them overthrow the rest of the Titans and take over the world. To avoid future conflicts, they decided it'd be a good idea to just split up the inheritances between the boys. As his powers were over water, Poseidon took over the seas. Zeus, with his lightning rod personality, took over the skies. Earth, personified as Gaia and more powerful and older than all three of them, was equally shared.

That left the underworld for Hades.

It's important to note that Hades is NOT Death. Death is not a God: Death...ie the actual loss of life, is a force of nature. Thanatos is often the Greek personification of Death, who is the collector of life. Hades is KEEPER OF THE DEAD and Ruler of the Underworld (afterlife).

Contrary to the recent Titans movies, Hades doesn't appear too upset about ruling over the dead in his mythology. In fact, he seems to prefer it. Compare Hades' behavior to the other gods' and you'll find a more serious, quieter entity. Hades doesn't sleep with anything he can get his hands on: he doesn't have a bunch of bastard demigods running around. When petty jealousies and silly conflicts over apples and territory cause Greece and Troy to attempt to annihilate each other, he doesn't get involved other than to welcome the valiant dead warriors to their rest. In fact, in most accounts Hades prefers to be left the hell alone by his living relatives.

Personally, I think this is due to the way his life started: he spent the longest time of all his siblings imprisoned in Cronus. He's also the oldest: psychologically the oldest is often the child with the most responsibility instilled in an early age. Did Hades feel he had to take care of his siblings when THEY were swallowed as well? Who knows...but his behavior after gaining freedom is not that of a frivolous God. In fact, of the six Olympian Gods (in order of birth: Hades, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, and Zeus), Zeus (the baby) is the most reckless.

He takes his role as keeper of the dead very seriously, and not in the Christian idea of punishment. Hades the Realm consists of a few key areas with five rivers flowing around and between. Tartarus is what we would now think of as Hell: it's a place of punishment for those who've earned it. The Elysian Fields, or Elysium, is where souls who've earned peaceful rest go: it's the equivalent of Heaven only with more frolicking (as far as I can tell). Elysium began as a place for only demi-gods and heroes, but morphed into a place of virtuous rest later in myths.

When the dead descend to the underworld, they are ferried across the first of the five rivers by Charon, the Ferryman. In some myths the first river is Styx, in others it's Acheron. In ancient times, the coins put on the eyes of dead at burial were for their ferry toll: it was believed that without coin Charon would leave the spirit on the shores of Styx, and they couldn't get to the Underworld.

Acheron - River of Woe
Cocytus - River of Lamentation
Lethe - River of Oblivion
Phlegethon -River of Fire
Styx - River of the Underworld (often in myth Styx the river that surrounds the Underworld).

The next entity they pass is Cerberus, the three-headed Hound of Hades. Cerberus and Hades seem to get along much in the way any pet and owner do. There are tales of Hades visiting and patrolling with Cerberus, and Cerberus serves two essential guardian functions for Hades. He keeps the living out, because the living have no place in the Underworld, and he keeps the dead IN. Cerberus is feared and hated by both sides, which puts him in the position of lonely guard dog, standing alone at the gates.

Just like his master, Cerberus has a lonely existence. They're both quite solitary creatures: even after Hades and Persephone marry they're only together three months out of the year (the tale of Hades and Persephone is a post and a half all by itself, but suffice it to say Persephone spends the winters with her husband in the Underworld).

And yet, they seem to prefer their duty over silliness, and mostly solitary existence over constant noisy parties, wars, and the general cacophony of life. Maybe Hades was the original Olympian introvert. He was definitely the serious older brother to the rest of the Olympians. Personally, I've always wondered if Persephone appreciated the three months of cool quiet with a God and his Dog.

*Hestia, Demeter, and Hera were all born before Hades, to technically Hestia spent the longest time in Cronus's belly. However, this post is focused more on brother-to-brother power dynamics, so I skipped the ladies. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Adventures in Babysitting - Han and Evil style

Last weekend I babysat overnight for my sister and brother-in-law so they could have a kid-free anniversary date. As this was my first time sleeping at their house and watching a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old at the same time, they were understandably somewhat concerned.

It's possible I didn't alleviate said concern when I responded to her "how's it going" texts with "I don't know what you're talking about: I sold them two hours ago and am out buying a TV" or "well nobody's on fire, anymore" and maybe "Han likes a shot of gin before bed to help him sleep, right?"*

Highlights of our adventures are as follows:

  • Evil gave me serious side-eye when I got her from her nap. She's at the nook-sucking stage, and reminded me a lot of Maggie Simpson with her little 'tude. 
  • After bribing her with snacks, she warmed up enough to use my chest as handholds to attempt to stand up. So she could pull my shirt down and drop giant legos in. Then she bit my nose twice, which is her version of a kiss, so there really was no room for argument. 
  • Incidentally: the nose biting earned me serious side-eye from her father when he found out she's willing to kiss the babysitter since she's apparently stingy with kisses. 
  • Han was extremely excited to eat blueberry pie for dinner. YES I FED HIM REAL FOOD FIRST. 
  • No one could find the ipod with Han's "moos" to charge it before bedtime, when a bleary-eyed little boy typically eats a last snack quietly while watching twenty minutes of Netflix My Little Pony episodes. Panic ensues, but the ipod proves elusive so Han was relegated to MLP on the big tv instead. He dealt fine. 
  • We discovered the ipod on the kitchen table the next morning, right where Han left it (under a piece of paper). 
  • No, I don't know why he calls all cartoons his "moos." But it's adorable so I don't really care why he does. 
  • I expected a fair number of "but auntie Jess I need to" requests at bedtime, and my favorite boy delivered spectacularly. The first few were the normal water/cheese stick/sing me a song requests. 
  • The first two times he got out of bed to bang on his door (he can't turn the handle yet) and holler "Auntie JESS I NEED YOU" I quietly put him back in bed, helped him find all his MLPs, and settled him back down. 
  • The third time I didn't get him. He was quiet for a minute, then he started balling and yelling "MAMADADDY I'm CRYIN!" which was really goddamn hard to NOT laugh at when I went in the room. But he missed his mama and daddy, and he was worried they wouldn't be back. So we did another round of Twinkle Twinkle (thank GOD I know the words to the one song he wanted). 
  • The fourth time I opened the door and said "Han, you can't keep getting out of bed." in a nice but low voice. AAAAAND he went into full toddler meltdown, which was also hilarious and difficult to not laugh at. Sigh. I'm not a nice lady. He hung in my arms like a boneless ragdoll, snotting and sobbing all over my shoulder. So I closed the door and rubbed his back and hummed "baby mine" from Dumbo (don't know the words, just the tune) until he relaxed. 
  • And then, he killed my ability to sleep for the rest of the night. He turned his pale little face to mine (in the dark, toddler eyes are little black pits of darkness, did you know that??), put one little hand on my cheek, and whispered something completely unintelligible. THEN HE WAVED GOODNIGHT AT THE FUCKING CEILING BEHIND ME. Yup. Not creepy at all. 
  • After that, he slept just fine. Evil had gone to bed at 7:30 the night before and slept 'til 8:30am (with a diaper filled to at LEAST her body weight...how does one little person create so much poop??). I gave up after four hours of sad, fitful creepy sleep and just lay awake until the sun came up.  

The next morning all was well, except for tired Auntie Jess. If you're wondering, of COURSE I'd babysit overnight again. I just know now that I need to wear his little energetic imagination out before bedtime. I do adore them, after all. Sunday night I got a text from my sister: Han wanted Daddy to "rub my back and sing me a song like Auntie Jess does."

MWAHAHAHAHA. Corruption begins.

*No Hans or Evils were at any point sold, on fire, or drinking while I was on duty. I mean really, people...selling them would only result in money for getting poltergeist/ghost experts in to un-haunt my house.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Time Feminism Forces Me to Defend a...Palin

So today my Facebook feed and news outlets have two rivaling headlines. 

First and most importantly, SCOTUS has effectively shut down all those idiots terrified that Mark and Steve's marriage, or Jane and Sally's, will somehow threaten their own heterosexual homes. And to the national endorsement of equality for people who want to marry, I say YAY it's about fucking time. 

Second, and somewhat more disturbing to me, is the news that Bristol Palin is knocked up again outside marriage. It's not that she's pregnant or that she's not married that bothers me: I could not possibly care any LESS about her sex life or the products thereof. It's the really horrifying hypocrisy I'm seeing by "feminists": a sort of disgusting glee in seeing the poster child for abstinence education brought low by her own sexuality. 


Let's set aside for a moment the pure nasty and gross behavior involved in smugly shaming a public figure for something that some consider a mistake (I say some because hello, not everyone considers pregnancy a mistake in or out of a legally bound relationship). 

Let me also be clear that I find Sarah Palin utterly disgusting for her politics, and I think abstinence education one of the worst disservices conservative politicians have forced upon teens.  Those are both entirely different posts. 

I pretty firmly believe if you call yourself feminist you don't get to judge another woman's sexuality, PERIOD. 

That means no slut shaming. EVER. 

That means no side-eye about women who have multiple partners, women who have children on their own, women who are completely asexual, women who are in a traditional marriage, women who buy toys, women who take birth control, women who ARE IN CHARGE OF THEIR OWN SEX ORGANS.

No subtle or overt blaming the victim of a sexual crime (she was drunk/smoking pot/on X/dressed like a whore) because deep down you're relieved that it didn't happen to you. 

No moral high-horse "we must SAVE them" attitude about anyone who voluntarily uses their body for money: that includes any sort of modeling, escorts, prostitution, dancing of any kind, porn, etc. (obviously, this point is barring underage or forced/trafficking crimes: I said voluntarily on purpose).  
And no snarky smug "she got what she deserved" judging of an adult woman in her mid-20's who gets pregnant outside marriage. Ugh. 

First, by all accounts I've been able to find, Bristol Palin was paid to do abstinence speaking from the perspective of having been a teen-mom. I don't agree with the abstinence only message in any way, but I can certainly see how that message might be something a 17 year old who'd gotten pregnant by mistake would be willing to speak about. I may not like her choice in message, but I appreciate her willingness to WORK in some way, and I don't judge her choice in which to do so. 

Second, this is not a teenager. Yes, she publicly took an "abstinence pledge" in 2009 and really, it's none of my business whether she stuck to it or not before this. Honestly, I don't care: her bedroom is her business, and she's certainly not the first conservative politician/minister/"moral" public figure to be "caught" living a different life in private than she does publicly. But hey, I know I haven't grown with experience since I was a teen: have you? In fact, I think if you polled a handful of people on the street most would assume a 24 year old woman is sexually active in this day and age: it's not that fucking weird that birth control failed and she got pregnant again. It's pretty likely that because of the pledge she took her abstinence only speaking engagements are over, so isn't that sort of a self-fulfilling unemployment arena? 

I guess I just don't really see any benefit (to me or anyone else) in jumping on a bandwagon of "neener neener you aren't perfect" nastiness just because I don't agree with her politics.  

Third, for those conservatives who insist that a woman's sex organs MUST be owned by a man through marriage contract before creating life, SHE WAS FUCKING ENGAGED, for Gods' sake. Other than the really uber-conservative sects, does anyone really expect an engaged couple to be abstinent? 

As an aside, boy you babies-in-marriage-only types really are going to have issues if male ownership of uterii is the only proper way to have a family, because I'm pretty sure SCOTUS just tossed that shit right out the window...now that it's finally legal for two uterii or two penii to be married without the opposite sex involved at all. And that's just awesome. 

What's horrifying about being caught here is the same people who rail against conservative/abstinence education are the ones crowing about the public shaming of a woman's sex life and her "fall from grace." Um, sorry, but sex and pregnancy don't equal a fall from grace: they pretty much just equal an addition to her family and most likely a career change in her case. So what? At what point do we as a society stop judging mothers by the circumstances of their pregnancy like we have any right to moralize their bodies and choices? 

For the record, I'm thoroughly grossed out that I'm in a position to defend a Palin, but I don't live her life, and I refuse to judge any woman's sexual choices. I suppose as a thought experiment it's good to test the boundaries of my insistence on non-judgement, but ultimately this whole news blitz and social media ishiness just put a bad taste in my mouth. 

On a Friday. 

I'm not impressed. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

No, I Don't Know Why I Think This Shit Up.

So...remember I said I found the super creepy hanging teething ring with keys on the closed section of the trail? (Yes yes, I admit it's POSSIBLE it wasn't in any way disturbing to other people and it's only a sign of my own undiagnosed psychosis* that makes ME think of horror movies. Just go with it for a sec.)

Yeah. There's another one, on a signpost not far from where I found the last set.

Yes, the original set is still hanging there, a bright little "oh look, someone lost their toy" invitation to step off the trail into who knows what and be eaten , um, sucked into an alternate zombie dimension, no...sacrificed to a horribly angry gnome Ok I'm stopping now.

Is this a kind passerby helping some inept stroller-pusher who can't keep track of their toys (I'm the aunt to a toddler and a near-1-year-old: I know that's infernally difficult what with all the excited flailing. Mine and theirs, of course.).

Is it a deceptively sinister warning notice? STOP HERE or lose your...yeah I got nothin' here. Maybe I should push a stroller next time I hike and find out, except 1) I'm lazy, 2) I don't have a stroller, and 3) I'm already hyper aware of ticks and mosquitoes...I don't want any actual reason (like a stroller stuck on the trail) to stop and become a blood-sucking buffet.

My personal suspicion is it's some smartass finding inventive new ways to say "bite me" to other hikers.

Some OTHER smartass, people. I wouldn't be creeped out about the hanging baby toys if I was the one doing it.


*Dear mental health professional, if you're reading this and diagnosing me, please keep it to yourself. For the most part, I enjoy my brand of weird. NORMAL IS BEIGE: fuck that shit.