Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Lo There.

Thank you Chewy, for spending most of your life here with us. We were lucky.  
When you see Thor, tell him I miss him, too. 






Friday, September 08, 2017

The World Is Not Ending

It's Friday, and things seem pretty damned dire today.
  • Wildfires apparently started by teens in the Pacific Northwest are greedily devouring tens of thousands of acres. 
  • Mexico City had the worst earthquake since 1985, the magnitude of damage is unknown. 
  • Southeastern Texas and Louisiana has been flooded out by Hurricane Harvey. 
  • Hurricane Irma is sweeping the Caribbean islands nearly off the damn map, and bearing down toward Florida. 
  • Hurricane Jose is already a category 3 and riding on Irma's coattails. 

And those? Those are only in North and Central America. Those don't include catastrophic flooding in Ireland, or monsoon flooding in Asia right now (some of which has already killed thousands). 

It's exhausting, isn't it? All this disaster, all this destruction, it can feel like the world is actually ending. 

IT ISN'T.

Mr. Rogers once said that his mother's advice in a disaster was to look for the helpers - there are always helpers (yes, I'm a Gen X kid who grew up on 321 Contact and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). 


People react to horror in different ways, and some of those ways are pretty disheartening.  Humans seem to have an empathy and compassion limit, a container that fills and empties. Everyone's cup is a different size (admittedly, some seem more like an inverted bucket that can't fill...those are usually the asshats who spout off about disasters being punishment from some deity for some "moral failing" du jour), and and everyone's recharging mechanism is different. 

It's all so goddamned overwhelming if you look at the massive destruction, it can easily suck you dry of all caring if you aren't careful. 

Instead, look for the helpers. The people taking in and feeding/watering the desperate wildlife running through their yards, literally escaping the fires of hell. The people in Texas who went out to rescue people and animals in their boats while the rain dumped down in buckets. The people who open their homes for evacuees for a couple of weeks. Sending prayers and good thoughts on social media is all fine and good: emotional support IS sometimes helpful. But the simple fact is, social media back-patting isn't practical help...I think eventually the feeling of helplessness watching these disasters in real time has a terrible despairing effect. Counter that effect: BE a helper, even if it's just something small. 

You don't have to be a superhero to be heroic. You don't have to be extraordinary in order to be kind. Pick ONE thing that you can do to help, and you'll feel a little less helpless. It's that simple - if you can foster a pet, do so. If you can send money to a real charity, do (be sure you choose one actually helping - sadly some of those asshats use disasters as a money-making scheme, either by price gouging or just stealing "charity" funds). If you can give blood, do so.

If you can hang out with friends and give comfort to each other, and remind each other this will be ok and we can get through it all, DO THAT.

Not everyone needs to be the person with a boat in the middle of a hurricane - the next year or so will be recovery time that WILL need a lot of help. Take care of yourself, but do something where you can and you'll feel more in a community than a helpless observer to the end of the world. Because, this is not the end. This is the beginning of whatever comes after. A little compassion, a little kindness, a little help: seems like a good step no matter what comes next. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Nefarious Gang Stalks My House

This fine cool fall-ish morning I took my usual sojourn to Starbucks for fancy coffee (because I work from home full time now, and sometimes that's my only outing of the day. Hey, I shower every day and wear not-pajamas for this gig, and I'm still saving money by not
commuting...oh stop judging me).

Anyway, when I got home in my quiet little townhouse neighborhood it looked like usual ghost-town. All the other adults have gone to work or (those few at home) were holed up in their houses doing whatever stay-at-homers do all day. Teenagers aren't up roaming the neighborhood yet because sleeping in before school starts is REALLY important. Littler kids are either off at daycare or inside with the stay-at-homers doing whatever they do early in the morning.

And then I saw THEM.

Did you know my house is relatively close to a golf course AND a large not-groomed park (meaning, no paved paths, mostly just lovely dark woods)? Did you know such features encourage wildlife, for which I'm generally grateful, but occasionally less so? This area also houses a roving gang of ne'r-do-wells who regularly cause traffic jams and give you birdy evil-eye while you wait impatiently for them to saunter across the road at their own ridiculously slow pace.

Fucking turkeys.

Yeah. Got out of my car this morning and the Feathered Jets were wandering about in the grass the lawnservice dudes didn't bother to mow well this week, so presumably they're full of tasty bug things.
Two members of the Feathered Jets.
No, I wasn't about to get CLOSER. 

I hate turkeys, except on my plate. They're mean. I wrote about it once before...seems worth reposting here today. In the meantime, I made it into the house before the stupid dinosaur descendants saw me.

Vengeful Turkey

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Collection of "WTF" Moments


I don't have a real post today, just a couple things not sufficient to be separate postiness. 

Yesterday I realized that Lifetime is both blatant and subtle in their fitness encouragement. The towels in the locker room, for example, don't fit anyone with over 110lbs OR with a D cup. Because what better way to make a woman feel huge than by providing a scratch hand towel for showers. Honestly, I'm both irritated and vaguely impressed at the all-encompassing reminders within those walls to get in shape. And every time I go, I think "what am I doing here, I could hike and lift weights at home for free". 

Chewy is hanging on like a champ, far longer than I thought he would. He's discovered the fabulous world of painkillers, and gets about two hours per day of perkiness. Death and I still hang on the couch while Chewy snores (he's sleeping about 20 out of every 24 hours). I considered asking him to teach me Backgammon or Canasta, but decided I don't really want to play games with Death. 

Therefore, since I hold the control to the remote, I've gotten him addicted to The Real Housewives of New York and Below Deck Mediterranean. MWAHAHAHA. 

Hey! I don't watch them...I have no idea what you're talking about. I read instead!  

Anyway...I'm done with this post, except I found some neat things in my iphone notes: 

Cal King Sheets - It's not that weird - I have to give family a birthday list, this happens to be the first item

Knitting Assassin - Have you SEEN the eyeball-poker weapons used for knitting? Seriously. Fear the quiet ones.

The first time she ate his heart... - No lie, I have no idea what this was for, and that only makes it better. 

the path of flames - Random book title I keep meaning to find in the library.

Quilters Dark Web - Jodie, I'm looking at you for a quilt that opens a dimensional portal. Preferably not to Hell - be careful.
 
Lickubus - Incubii are male sex demons. Succubii are female sex demons...NOTHING I add to this is appropriate for anyone. Move along. 

Dad's sloppy joes - After all the others I know it sounds dirty. Nope - actual recipe. Yum. Also, seems like an excellently weird non-sequitor from the Lickubus note.

Ta tu cuis anois - "you're hers now".  In reference to Brighton Beach north of Duluth, MN, where Lake Superior occasionally uses her deadly power not to sink ships, but to gently sculpt rocks into heart shapes. I LOVE that. 

If someone ever stole my phone, I think the horror of the weird shit in there would prompt them to give it back before I kill them. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I Hoard Words

When I’m unwell, when the darkness descends and I can’t reach my characters anymore, I lock my voice in a musty mental trunk, piling distractions on the lid. I talk only about the most mundane and shallow topics. I write only grocery lists and technical documentation for my day job. I'm a makeshift Pandora, barricaded in the dark with magazines and Netflix binges, because chancing the loss of the light is unfathomable.
He notices. Of course he notices. Sometimes his comments are gentle nudges; sometimes he braves bloody retribution with bald reminders that I’m crabby when I’m not writing, and please go kill something on paper so I feel better.
My writing group listens and commiserates, setting word counts and editing goals for the next meeting.
But my words are hoarded. I am Gollum guarding my Precious, and woe to anyone who forces the lid open before I’m ready.
Woe to the characters locked away; it gets crowded in there.
A polite knock from inside the trunk prompts a gentle conversational poke from my conscience about books requiring attention. It’s irritating. I ignore them both and watch cat videos on YouTube.
A more insistent pounding jiggles the trunk’s lid. My writing group gives me a deadline for pieces they can critique. It’s grating. I finally read a non-fiction book I’d promised to review six months a year ago.
The trunk’s inhabitants lose patience; a small army of angry dwarves with pickaxes strikes constant blows from beneath the lid. My head is full and I’m cranky.
He gives me the LOOK with a heavy knowing sigh, and reminds me that I NEED to write to be well, because stewing is somewhere less than awesome for ALL of us. It’s infuriating, and I watch terrible horror movies instead. Piece spoken, he knows the inevitable pattern and lets me be.
Eventually, no matter how far I withdraw from the world and myself, I return. I find a smidgen of energy. I shut off the TV. I set the junk food books aside. My stubborn streak subsides enough to let sense take over, and I hear my tribe’s commentary, inside and out. 
I open the box, careful not to damage the lock. I’ll need it later.
The fetid pool of emotional sludge must be drained in order to let characters out. I write for my own escape, for that painful release that only comes with a pressure valve’s opening. In a tirade of furious handwriting in a half-full journal, words gallop out of their prison on illegible ink. Pages fill with garbage that’s been swirling inside for weeks, and I sigh when my hand is cramping around the pen: the constant buzzing finally goes quiet in my head.
Writing is the way I become well, and remain myself, under the onslaught of random plots announcing themselves at inopportune moments. Notebooks fill with the new inspirations and I have enough to stay busy until the next bout of darkness.
Some people worry their secret lives will come to light after their death. Pacts are made; promises to delete, burn, or otherwise eradicate anything a loved one might find distressful. My fear is anyone reading my journals without knowing my writing cycle would assume I’m constantly miserable. 
The truth is, notebooks and journals carry the regular catharsis that unlocks the trunk of the clamor of tales pushing impatiently for THEIR turn. Universes wait inside me, but I have to clear the path before I can wallow in the lives of imaginary people doing imaginary deeds in imaginary worlds.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Opening a Memory Box in My Brain.

Yesterday I visited the house I grew up in for the first time in a decade. Ten years ago, my parents moved to California for work adventures and rented out the 40-some acre hobby farm. Now, they're getting it ready to sell and I had a chance to poke around rooms I lived in from nine to nineteen. None of these memories are related - they all struck in random pictures from the dusty trunks in the attic of my head.

And as I drove down the back-roads in the country from my grandma's house to my old place, memories bounced around behind my eyeballs - some sort of washing over in a quick flash, some giving a hard Junebug-on-the-windshield smack to my brain.

The house my best friend lived in on Martin road, where I spent long Friday nights with her plotting futures. We went to prom with our boyfriends as a double date - that was the time I lost the $100 bill down the front of my dress (people, this is the shit that happens when I foolishly attempt to be sexy or flirtatious, seriously) and royally pissed off my boyfriend. Rightly so, really. She and I are friends on Facebook now, and it seems like life went a lot like the intended plan for her, which is awesome. My path has twisted and turned so often I can't even remember what I wanted during those long conversations. Funny how that works.

I passed that spot on the two lane road in the country where my little Mazda 323 hit a patch of slush on my way to work in the mall. I was seventeen. I think I spun a total of three and a half times that day, somehow managed to stay in the center of the road instead of flying off into the ditch, and ended up facing the right way in the wrong lane. I remember the exhilaration and fear, and giggling as I moved over into my own lane and went off to work. Pretty sure I never told my parents THAT one.

My high school boyfriend's house, still standing back in the trees behind the wooden privacy fence, although the bar across the road is gone and a new stop sign has been added on the corner. His parents were always home when I spent time there.

His parents had very different rules for their son than mine had for their daughter, and some kisses will never be told.

I had a 10:30 curfew in high school. I'd leave his house frantically at 10:20 for the fifteen minute drive home and speed the whole way, usually getting there a minute or two late.

I can still be made late by a romantic relationship. I'm still not sorry.

The road I lived on clearly hasn't been resurfaced since long before I moved away. The houses along the way are the same. The eagles still hang out in the treeline fifty yards back from the road, watching for anything hit by the speeders going over fifty-five. The one on the road as I passed gave me a distinct LOOK before lazily spreading an impressively terrifying wingspan and flying out of the way of my truck. I'm glad I wasn't on a bike.

The fence is down. The front pastures where first Kalli, then later Shadow, met me at the corner when the bus dropped me off after school are mostly gone. Only the line of mowed lawn versus thigh-high grasses marks the place the fence once kept our horses contained. The river, once easily visible where it splits one of the pastures, is lined by tall bushes and overgrowth without the herd keeping the space cleaned out. I used to drop my bookbag, duck under the fence, and jump on for a quick ride before going in the house, or go stick my feet in the cold water where it ran fast enough over the rocks to discourage leeches, and hang out with the herd for a while. Some days I'd just race Shadow from the end of the driveway to the gate. I always lost, but he's do an extra lap just for fun, and I could watch him run in joy forever. My big grey gelding who hated to walk when dancing or galloping was so much more fun. I wonder if he was happy with the three little girls who took over his care when I moved to the city and sold him to another family. I hope they spoiled him rotten while he lived.

The big wooden fence along the road is down, too. Even the area in the other pasture, where I watched a moose step over the five foot fence like it was a minor bump in the road.

The back was no different - fencing all down, burrs growing where no herds keep the overgrowth under control.

The arena where Shadow and I practiced dressage, the bit of barbed wire where I got the scar on my thigh when I was eleven, the gates I could open from horseback...they're all down, hidden in the tall grass as traps for the unwary.

I didn't even bother with the barn. Judging by the state of the garage and house, I think seeing the place I spent the most time outside of my own room in the same condition would just make me sad.

The house is...well, let's say a decade of renters has not been kind to the house, who now looks more like a decrepit, sad, toothless creature too far gone to help. I remember working with Dad to put the addition on the back, the room where we celebrated Christmas for years before they moved. I remember the spring I graduated from high school was when we renovated the bedrooms, the bathrooms, and the kitchen. I lived for a couple of months in a old camper in the driveway while my room was under construction. I used to bitch that I'd only get a fancy new room with NEW CARPET for a little while (turned out to be a year before I moved out), and that my parents installed a dishwasher right as I'd be leaving so my sisters wouldn't have to hand-wash on their chore night. Oh the unfairness of it all!

The carpet in my old room is the same deep blue, underneath all the stains. I used to sleep under the once-new window and have nightmares that Freddy Kruger could get into my room through that first floor slider. I probably shouldn't have watched late night tv back when Friday the 13th was an actual show...good imagination.

I don't remember my bedroom being quite so small, but then I was smaller when I lived in it, so I suppose time and distance play tricks on spatial relations.

I miss being able to smell horses and river when I slept with the window open. I miss going out in the cold dark winter nights to look for northern lights above the hill. I miss how quiet it is, living where there is no major freeway or busy city street or airport flight patterns all within earshot.

Part of me is sickly happy the house and buildings are in their current condition - I think it might be harder to imagine selling the place to a new family if it looked as it did when my parents moved out. And maybe someday I'll be lucky enough to again live where I don't share walls or yard-visibility with my neighbors, where I don't have to leash my dog and I can have horses in a pasture. We'll see.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Dear 80's Just Say No Commercials - It's My Dog's Fault

Chewy is now a relatively perky old man on super pain-medication. That's right, my dog is now a drug addict. Awesome. I mean, he already drank out of the toilet and ate things better left unmentioned while outside and barked at invisible things - why not get him high too? (He learned it from the vet, by the way, not from me.)



Crap. You guys, I forgot to ask if starting these means he has to stay on them indefinitely or get DTs when he misses a dose. Oh my god...Great Pyrenees detoxing. NO. Just...no. 

Chewy loves his six pills twice a day for pain and antibiotics. (Not kidding: he does love them. He eats a giant dollop of peanut butter a couple times a day and feels better for a while after, so, to him peanut butter is FULL OF MAGIC. And really, is he wrong? I think not.) 

This doesn't stop his falling, but it does take enough of the aches and pains away that he perks up some when he's awake and has returned to his "I want you to think I'm ready to rip your face off, but really I'd just lick your face obsessively for a while, if I could be bothered to get off the ground which is WAY too much effort" bark-and-wheeze routine. The cottonwood in the back yard snowed all over the damn lawn, and for a couple of days he made sure all the fluffy seed fairies knew full well that he sees their nefarious floaty plans, dammit.  

It's been suggested to me that he needs an attachment on his collar. You know, like the whole St. Bernard whiskey-barrel thing? Do they make oxygen tanks that small, with a little snout-tube to help him take less wheeze-coughy breaths between barks? 

So, an improvement in day-to-day, but overall no major changes.That's both a blessing and not. Waiting for death is a patience game, and much like every other large life event it feels like everything else is on hold while I hang out and spend as much time as possible with my lumbering fluffball, until I can't anymore. 

In the meantime, it's supposed to be the surface of the goddamned SUN here on Saturday with fetid swampass humidity (fuck all of that) and I totally blame my ex, who's coming back from Dallas to visit and CLEARLY decided to torture me with Texas sweltering. 

But he's coming to visit his drug-addicted elderly dog, so, you know, mostly forgiven. 

You Houston girls, I miss you TONS. I do not miss 100+ temps. Feel free to visit this week too, because it's gonna feel just like home for you. 

Between Chewy and other icky life stresses, mostly I've been tired and not blogged. 
But we're still here, not writing. (Well, I'm not writing because I'm tired. Chewy's not writing because, and I'm being painfully honest here, he's a lazy ass who never bothered to learn to type and gives me pathetic excuses like "I don't have thumbs" or "all I'd write about is imaginary saber-toothed-bunnies anyway" or "hey is that cheese you're eating? I like cheese.")

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dear Death: I See You Here

This is not a funny post. Today was a bad day. My vet told me to do a good day/bad day jar for a couple of weeks, but I don't really need it.

Death is stalking my household.

Thanatos waits patiently in the shadowed corners of my living room while we watch movies and bark quietly at neighborhood kids or invisible monsters in the back yard. Badb is hanging out cross-legged on the floor under a desk in my office, casually flipping through books in my library, content but staying close.

If I'm lucky. Persephone is working on a new spot with Thor: one with enough toys that they can steal from each other again.

I know the sensation of Death lingering in my house. I've done this already.

We are getting to the point that "tired" is more than just sleeping between meals and an exhausting barking session. It's a look in the eyes, a distinct need for comfort that forces failing legs to keep trying to push 110lbs up the stairs so he can sleep near a person. It's the sad expression when I pick up the leash, and half-hearted attempt to get up only to lie next to the open door, because the urge to pee isn't strong enough to bother going out even though it's been nearly 12 hours.

He's not ready, but I think we're within a week or two now. Taking responsibility for another living creature is a double edged razor. The vet says the timing is up to me. What that really means is I'm no longer monitoring and caring for Chewy to provide him with quality of life, but quality of death. Some would argue there are many reasons to make that choice on his behalf - send him on before he suffers, the expense involved in waiting, the disruption to my life, moving on.

Responsibility is a heavy burden because it's SUPPOSED to be heavy. Who the hell am I to determine how much of his life to cut off? People who bring up the expense involved are talking a bout the vet bills, the pills, the time involved in waiting for him to struggle back inside twice a day. But the real expense is the waiting, the burden of choosing when to invite Death formally instead of letting her hang out, because at some point the suffering is just enough. But I am only a caretaker: Chewy will let me know when he hits that point. Thor did.

We, people, humans, are so afraid of Death visiting that we'll do damn near anything to avoid it. Dogs are different. They'll fight to survive until it's time, and when it's time they're just...ready. They've done their jobs here, they've loved and protected and forgiven, and they let you know they're ok.

My vet is truly a fantastic man. When we let Thor go, he warned me what might happen - convulsions, bodily fluids, scary and awful struggling against the soul slipping from the body. He told me so I wouldn't be surprised, so I could stay in the room and be a comfort instead of a basket case. NONE of that happened with him - in fact, he give a little sigh of relief and just slipped off his body like an uncomfortable jacket that's gotten too tight.

I want that for Chewy, too. I want an easy death that relieves him from his broken down body and gives him freedom to bark at ALL THE THINGS. I want Thanatos to give him quiet sleep, and Badb to take him on a long, leisurely walk. There's always the chance that won't happen, that his passing will be somehow scarring. I hope not.

I suppose I'll find out in the next couple of weeks, because I know this countdown.

He stole a loaf of bread today while I got coffee. He was so proud of reaching it I can't even be all that mad, even though it was MINE MINE MINE. Cheeseburgers and treats will be the order of the days ahead, and a lot of sitting in the grass so he can just hang out and do what he loves best - watching over the neighborhood. Until it's time to stop.

Yes, I could say Tuesday is the day and we could be done and save me the emotional stress of Death becoming my temporary roommate. But that's not my job here. I'm not afraid to wait with him. I'm not afraid to make the decision or lie with him on the floor in the vet's office, or let him go.

When it's time, I will ask Death to walk my dog gently, and kindly request no more visits for a long while. Until then, we're sitting in companionable quiet, listening to Chewy's quiet breathing while he dreams.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Red: An Erotic Fantasy by Tiffany Reisz (Spoiler-Free Review)

"Art should be dangerous, you know. It should say something to society that society doesn't want to hear. Do you know what the opposite of art is? Propaganda." -  The Red

This review is safe for work. The book isn't.

Mona Lisa St. James made a deathbed promise to her mother, vowing to keep their struggling little art gallery open "at all costs." Months later, she's about to fail the promise and just desperate enough to take up the mysterious Malcolm's (no last name) shockingly straightforward offer: become his, on demand, for the next twelve months and make enough money to save her business. Over the next year, Mona finds out the exact cost of keeping that promise, in explicit detail, and discovers some fascinating secrets about her odd lover and his artwork-themed demands.

I often recommend Ms. Reisz's novels because she doesn't write simple smut (that's right: she writes complicated smut), or syrupy romance, and The Red lives up to my expectations. I love Reisz's work for the depth of character and fascinating navigation through complicated and taboo sexual situations. The underpinnings of the story is an exploration of Mona's value, of her own sense of self-worth that becomes stronger and more pronounced as her boundaries are pushed, and her discovery of what she really wants. It's downright voyeuristically compelling, watching Mona's thoughts and actions evolve with each new level of debauchery.

Oh my God, the debauchery. Make no mistake: this is definitely a Tiffany Reisz erotic novel.
WOW. ZA.

Seriously well written, unapologetic lust exists between those covers. I tossed sleep aside to finish it in a night, and this book is worth it, although I may never look at a bottle of water the same way again. From an erotica perspective, The Red has at least one kink that will appeal to you and at least one that will make you terribly uncomfortable. I know what you're thinking, and I definitely don't mean the "blushing and you hope no one notices because WHY are you reading this in public" sort of uncomfortable.

I mean the uncomfortable where you're certain this particular kink shouldn't be so arousing because it's so dirty, but you're turned on anyway. You'll think about it for days afterward and read it again, and you'll want to recommend it to friends but worry they'll figure out that scene worked for you. THAT sort of uncomfortable.

Of course, part of the fun of reading The Red is discovering which encounters fall under which category for you.

The Red is a standalone novel, available on July 11th, 2017 in paperback and e-formats (Kindle is available for pre-order). If you enjoyed her Original Sinners series I don't have to recommend this one, because you already know exactly why you'll love this book. If you're new to Ms. Reisz's work, I highly recommend picking up The Red as soon as you can: it's an excellent mix of erotica and dominant/submissive dynamics, with a hint of the supernatural for flavor.

The Red is definitely exactly the right sort of dangerous art.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

13 reasons to watch 13 Reasons Why (Review)

I've been sitting on this for a bit, mostly because the social media attention surrounding Netflix's 13 Reasons Why is rather fascinating.

For those of you who have no idea what the hell I'm talking about, 13 Reasons Why is an adaptation of the novel by the same name, which follows Clay, a high school boy, on the terrible journey through the reasons why his love interest committed suicide.Hannah's story, her truth, is told in her own words through cassette tapes that each focus on a friend, acquaintance, or adult whom she considered a contributor in some way to how she got to that point.

1) The series itself is well done. From a purely technical perspective, I found all the kids in particular to be good actors, and the story moved along well. I skimmed the book at B&N the other day, and I have to say the series was better, although some of the episodes were hard to watch so it took me a week or so to watch them all - needed breaks.

2) It reminds us that we have NO FUCKING IDEA what's actually going on in anyone's life. That's a terrifying thing to have so baldly depicted; I imagine it's both easy and comforting to think you know exactly what your kid is doing or experiencing. I think the stark reminder is valuable.

3) The 'heroine' isn't a romanticized figure. Hannah is just as flawed and fucked up as the rest of her circle, and it shows. She makes good and bad choices. She's sometimes selfish, overwhelmed with conflicting emotions, and wants to be "good" but makes mistakes that eat at her.  She's closed off, she keeps secrets, and she's unable to cope or open up enough to let out any of what's building up inside.

4) The 'hero' also isn't romanticized, but at first he THINKS he is. I loved Clay's journey from confused horror (that he'd be one of the receivers of the tapes themselves), to working through the idea that he has no insight into his classmates' lives and his ultimate acceptance not only of what she'd done but also how he needs to be more mindful of how he treats others afterward.

5) Bullying and Cyber Bullying. The terrible effects of mob-mentality bullying, not only for Hannah but also many of the subjects in her tapes, are starkly evident. Equally evident is the lengths to which people will go to avoid being the target, even if it means participating or knowingly standing by when shit goes down. It's easy to say "why didn't s/he just stand up for him/herself or that other person", but I thought they did a fantastic job of showing a variety of personalities: some strong, some not, and how even the strongest can be eroded over time without some support.

6) Sex. Drugs. Drinking. If you don't think any of that happens in teenage life, you're just stupid. What I loved about this show is that none of that was depicted in a glorifying way - in fact, they were shown as series of bad choices resulting in being out of control and self-destructive.

7) Sexual harassment, slut shaming, and BOTH rape scenes (which do come with trigger warnings before the episodes, regardless what you may have heard). The nonstop casual sexual harassment and accepted as "boys will be boys" attitude by the school administration is, (and I say this from my personal experience I still vividly remember 20 some years after high school), absolutely accurate: ass grabbing, a barrage of comments, stalking, assumptions that Hannah was 'easy' (a word I loathe in describing a woman's sexuality but I use here because it was specifically used in the show), the administration's obliviousness (perfectly portrayed when the principal had to ask the counselor what the term "cum dumpster" meant, since it was on the girl's bathroom wall). Ugh.

The two rape scenes are terrible in their accuracy and commonality, and really well shot (NOT gratuitously sexual or violent, yet horrifying and so difficult to watch). Because consent is impossible to give when you're incapacitated, and fighting back isn't every girl's instinctual response - sometimes, freezing in fear is all she can do. And you know what? Kudos to the producers/director for the treatment of each of those scenes.

As an aside, one of the big critical arguments about this show is "but why is it always about rape, and why does it have to be a teenager getting raped"? How about: because you can probably count on one hand the number of women you know who HAVEN'T been sexually assaulted or outright raped in their lifetime. And most of us who were in some way or another assaulted? Yeah...a lot of that shit happens in middle or high school. THAT'S MOTHERFUCKING WHY.  I am seriously over this bullshit do-gooder whitewashing of rape from all art, media, and public venue under the guise of "talking about it makes it worse."

Not talking about it makes it worse. Not recognizing it as a major conscious and subconscious contributing factor to a woman's life is just another way to silence us, because even those lucky few who haven't been physically assaulted have likely been verbally assaulted. Because women grow up learning how to not get raped - it's in advice given to us by self defense experts, by our mothers, by police, by the media, by each other: don't wear that. Keep a key between your fingers in your hand when you're walking to your car. Park in lit areas. Go to the bar/bathroom/public in groups. Don't lead him on. Don't make him angry by saying no the wrong way.

NOT TALKING about it, sweeping it under the rug as "that doesn't happen in high school" or "why make her get raped, it's so typical" is utterly idiotic. It's typical because it happens all the goddamned time.

8) Rape aftermath. Accurate. Awful. Not only for the girls', which is self-destructive and terrible and numb and a ringing endorsement for talking to girls and women about getting help after an attack, the show also touches on the guilt the boys who loved them clearly felt for being unable to protect them and how they deal with that (positively and negatively).
And the bro-code and breakdown of the clique as the weight of protecting the perpetrator becomes more than some of the boys to bear.
And the lack of real help when a girl does talk about what happened.
And the way it changes her forever.

9) Adults. I suspect part of the sting of this show when parents watch it is the very clear implication that signs were there, but none of the adults in her life really paid attention. It's true that she didn't say anything - she kept dangerous and damaging secrets, and interestingly that's ALSO depicted as a bad choice. She didn't talk to her parents, to her teachers, to her friends. When she does finally try to talk to a school counselor and is told, BY THE ADULT SHE'S SUPPOSED TO TALK TO when terrible things happen, that if she didn't clearly say "no" and won't name the perpetrator all he can tell her to do is get over it. Every goddamned adult needs to watch that episode. He doesn't refer her to a rape counselor or mental health professional, he doesn't recognize the apathy as a sign, he doesn't report anything to her parents or the police or even his own principal: he doesn't do anything to help her at all.

10) Depression vs Giving Up. The girl in this show wasn't classically depressed in the often-portrayed way, and the word "depressed" never comes up. Even in the flashbacks, there is no clear downward spiral of depression culminating in such a terrible decision. She becomes convinced she's worthless, that she's unloveable and incapable of any "normal" relationship. Then, she reaches a place when the will and desire to live is absent, a moment she recognizes where she doesn't care anymore about anything or anyone and is completely done. Part of the shock and horror of suicide is the lack of indicators, and this show fucking NAILED that horror. 

11) The Suicide scene. I feel like calling out every single person who says "don't watch this show, it glorifies suicide as a viable option" and slapping them for commenting on something they CLEARLY didn't actually watch.  This is not romanticized in any way - it's depicted as horrible, physically painful, emotionally broken, and utterly awful. FYI, it is relatively bloody for a moment, unbelievably difficult to see. I cried multiple times in this episode (which does contain a clear trigger warning).

12) Survivors' emotions. If anyone actually watches the final episode and sees the moment her parents find her, I truly can't understand this idea that suicide is glorified as an option. The whole series is about the pain she leaves behind. Clay, Hannah's parents, the others on the tapes, the others in school, the others' parents...everyone dealt with a myriad of emotional fallout in the aftermath. I liked that the full range of emotion and coping mechanisms (some positive, some self-destructive) appeared, sometimes in the same character over time.

13) Discussion. Suicide, rape, bullying/harassment, depression, anxiety, death...they're so often glossed over, ignored, or quieted in effort to "protect" people from harsh reality. 13 Reasons Why was done specifically as an unflinching look at the darknesses in a teen's life that led to suicide and its aftermath, and if nothing in any of the episodes sparks some discussion, among adults and/or teens, I don't have any idea what would. It's so easy to dismiss what a teen is going through as unreasonable drama, but when you live in a microcosm and your long-term thinking isn't fully developed (as multiple psychologists indicate that part of the brain isn't fully developed until 25 or so), "for right now" seems like "forever".

The point of 13 Reasons Why is to bring it all into the light, to talk about it, to find common ground about it so maybe suicide doesn't seem like a good choice. To talk about rape and consent. To talk about learning to take a step back from the current emotional state and remember that it won't always be this bad, that things can get better, that it's ok to NOT be perfect. To offer resources if someone doesn't feel comfortable talking to their loved ones (if you watch the behind the scenes, the producers, directors, and actors DO discuss the whys behind some of their choices and refer to a site that will find you local resources. http://www.13reasonswhy.info/#usa).

I watched the final episode again last night and thought about suicide (as a topic, not a possible course of action) for a very long time. I was pretty heavily bullied in middle/high school, and at some point my parents must have noticed I was off because I will always remember my dad saying, bluntly and out of the blue one day: no matter how bad something is suicide is never an option: it leaves everyone behind you devastated (a comment that worked for me because I feel more responsibility to others than to myself, so pulling the "it's selfish" card worked...I realize it may not work for everyone), and it robs you of finding out the good things waiting for you. EVERYTHING PASSES. EVERYTHING. All you have to do is hang on. 

I've been on the edge of that same dead-inside moment a couple of times in my life - talking about it with Dad when I was a teenager stuck with me.

Find a way to talk about the bad stuff, the dark stuff, the uncomfortable stuff. It matters. 

"There is nothing about this show that's polite." - 13 Reasons Why - Behind the Scenes

"It has to get better. The way we treat each other. It has to get better somehow." - Clay

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Progress Smells Like Eucalyptus, and I'm Confused

I'm starting to feel more human, less simulacrum.

Maybe it's the sun (60 degrees and sunny in Minnesota is decidedly springy). The yard is clean of all winter dog mess. Chewy is happily lying in the not-yet-grass barking (mostly silently now, as he's gotten old and his voice is giving out) at neighborhood kids. It's nice, even as he slows down, to see him get a hint of his younger self. PROTECT THE YARD FROM ALL THE DEMONS is still happening, it's just muted and often from a prone position.

Hopefully, demons move slow enough for a 1/4 crippled Great Pyrenees to chase them down in a wobbly lumber.

Maybe it's because I joined a fancy (well, fancy for Minnesota) gym recently and the workouts are helping with energy. And screaming arm muscles. And sleeping, but not ON the treadmill because that's frowned upon in upscale establishments with personal trainers and triathletes.

The steam room is definitely helping...it's deliciously eucalyptus-y and burns my sinuses for the first few minutes every time I sit in there. Fuck the treadmill - I could sit in there all day. But I won't, because I'm pretty sure I'd pass out and schlepping a woman my size out of the steam room to the ambulance in front of all the other gym members is NOT my idea of a fun time.

Maybe it's because I only have a few episodes of Downton Abbey to watch, and I'm finally squinting at OUTSIDE to prolong it. Yes, I'm aware I'm like seven years out of date here. You shouldn't be surprised if you've read this blog longer than a day.

Also, seriously, I've been mostly out of my Neflix and Amazon Prime hibernation for the past two months, and I'm so terribly confused. Bingeing on Downton does NOT prepare one for news headlines about spiders being fully capable of eating all humans within a year if they felt peckish, or the bullfighter gored by a foot of bull horn up the rectum (I'm still clenching my cheeks after reading that one), or that a giant reticulated python ate a man whole in Indonesia yesterday.

Also, I saw the trailer for the new version of Stephen King's IT today. Let the nightmares begin.

What the fuck is going on?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

I'm getting good at being tired.

Today it's been over six weeks since I wrote anything real. Even my journal looks reproachful.

Yesterday I finally had a chance to pick up Jenny Lawson's new book, You Are Here, a mix of her signature Bloggess humor, random bits of encouragement, and gorgeous designs waiting for coloring attention. It's marvelous. One entry in particular makes me cry every time I look at it, even as the design mesmerizes and I stare at it for long minutes as needed. The theme is "you are not alone."

Maybe I should do a thorough spring cleaning in my universe.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How To Get Out of Babysitting: 101

Actual conversation with my sister (Han and Evil's mom) via text message. Of course I could've just posted the screenshot, but then anonymity for both my sister and Han would be lost. Plus, I MUST fix some of the text shorthand, because I'm a nerd and it drives me nuts how people don't spell out actual words in text.

I know, I know: emojis and shorthand are their own languages now...isn't it interesting how the modern equivalent of Egyptian Hieroglyphs are coming back as a real language through texting?

Um. Anyway...conversation as follows (edited only for privacy and incomplete words. I left the punctuation, because it makes me chuckle to imagine the over-enthusiasm).

S: Han's Actual Name Han asked me at dinner how the babies are going to get out of my belly.......

Me: You didn't show him Alien, did you?

Me: I'm no expert, but showing a 4 year old to explain birth might be bad parenting. Just sayin.

Me: Go with Aliens instead. Better movie all around. 

S: Heehee...I said we'd go to the hospital and the doc would help get them out. Then I changed the subject and said 'guess what!!! Grandpa is going to stay with you while we're at the hospital!!!!!'

S: oh good lord Jess, maybe you shouldn't babysit...*

Yeah. I babysit the kids a lot. They're my favorite. I'm pretty sure when the twins come I won't be allowed to touch them at all if Han and Evil are around.

Also, four kids under 5 all in one suburban house?

If you were wondering when the apocalypse starts, I'm pretty sure she's due sometime in March.

*As it turns out, not actually a deterrent from babysitting. Neither is giving the kiddos cherry popsicles so they look like little vampires.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It Must Be Wednesday - Yahoo Thinks I'm a Rich Frat Boy

Today's Spamalicious Hump Day offerings from Yahoo include eight offers of various sorts of encounter with chicks I don't know. 

I deleted two of them for offering explicit acts...not because I'm a prude: because I probably don't want people finding my blog as a search result for them. Sigh. 

Also, can I just say, Stiffler was 1999. 1999!! 18 years ago...shouldn't "MILF" have gone out of style by now? What the hell?  

Oh my god, I graduated college 18 years ago. I need more coffee for this shit. 


So, multi-aged various nationalities offering *ahem* hot evenings.
Dear Jenny M, no thanks but good luck with your boyfriend.
No, generalized nameless "naked girls", I sure don't remember you, and based on your email subject line you'd think I WOULD. Therefore, pretty sure you have the wrong girl here.

Extended Stay hotel (and apparently I own a timeshare somewhere: Ryan wants to buy it. Fuck you Ryan, I'm not giving up my sweet escape space for hot encounters with people I don't remember.)

Pizza.

See what I mean by wealthy frat boy as depicted in movies? The only offers missing are toga parties and beer.

Hmm. Maybe I should be flattered that Yahoo thinks I'm in my twenties?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

I need a weekend from my weekend.

I'm supposed to be working on a couple of book reviews today, and I'm fairly distracted. The writing conference yesterday was both awesomely educational and horribly disheartening, and while I have some helpful suggestions from an agent, working on non-fic is easier today. Therefore, tying up some loose ends and finding some ideas to pitch to magazines is on the docket, which means looking through the notes on my phone. I swear that's not a non-sequitur: smartphones are both awesome and dangerous for someone who has random ideas and conversations, because sometimes I go back and wonder what the hell I wanted to remember. 

So, because a glance of notes in my phone made me chuckle (titles only): 

"Hey! Don't knock Boones Farm. When you're poor in high school that's all you can afford." Said at a family gathering recently by one of my relatives who would never have admitted to drinking in high school when I was a teenager. Of course, that not only means she's always been fun and trouble, but also that I'm old.  

Quilters Dark Web: assassination orders, prohibited patterns, quilting a hellmouth portal... Oh yeah, there's a story in this. It's in my "pending attention" list. 

Lickubus - like succubus/incubus who snacks I have no appropriate explanation for this. Some of my conversations are astounding. 

Crotchless snowpants Came from the same convo as Lickubus. I wish I could remember if the two were related or some sort of weird progression...because I feel like a "bus" of any sort would be ALL ABOUT crotchless snowpants. 

"The Freckly Princess" by Godfried Bomans I'm bummed to discover I can't find this in English. I keep random books/authors in a list on my notes, so I don't lose them when I'm hanging out at Barnes & Noble. 

Dad's sloppy joes recipe Oh yeah!! YUM! DAd's secret to delicious Sloppy Joes is a can of Campbells Chicken Gumbo soup instead of anything ishy like Manwich. Ketchupy Joes and meat loaf make me gag: this is so much better. 

"Ta to cuid anois" = you're hers now Yeah. Not sure if that was kept as a threat or promise. Thanks, iphone. 

EvilRocks! Truth. Not sure why that's in my notes, but it's completely true. She DOES rock. And lately, she'd respond with "Yupper!"

Mt. Hekla in Iceland: gateway to hell Well, either that's part of the to-see list or a story location. Let's go with both. 

I have no decent explanation for any of this, except that my brain is a weird one; luckily so are the brains of my closest friends and family. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Random Crap and Totally Inappropriate Lyrics

Does anyone else feel like 2017 is an extended (terrible) episode of the Twilight Zone? And that's all I'm going to say about the Oompa Loompa in charge, because I think it's covered better by all the media (social and mainstream) out there.

So, I haven't been here much since Thor died. I haven't honestly written much at all since then: worried about Chewy, hanging out with the family while they were in town for holidays, helping my ex get his stuff (well, the stuff left in my house/garage) ready to move down to Texas. My poor drawer-o-journals has been untouched for a couple of weeks now, which is pretty horrid since I MAY have bought yet another recently. *Sigh* yes, I have a problem. 

Tomorrow, I'm going to my first writing conference. It's stupid, but I'm beyond nervous: I'm bringing a page for critique (anonymously, thank all the deities out there) by agents, and signed up to do a pitch session. I can't decide if I'm pushing my boundaries in effort to become a professional writer someday, or if I'm just paying dearly for a moment of insanity months ago when I signed up to do this thing. Let's just all cross appendages that I stay within the non-arrestable forms of inappropriate behavior, shall we? 

Google says "arrestable" isn't a word. I disagree. 

I'm too nervous to come up with decent funny blog items tonight, but I AM back. And so instead I'll subject you to the dirtiest song I've actually ever heard (ok, that's not entirely true). No, I didn't know this song existed until the other day. Feel free to make fun of the video (which, if you listen to the lyrics has NOTHING to do with the song)...I did. Then I heard "cunning linguist" and really paid attention and HOLY CRAP they played this on the radio. Awesome and awfulsome.