Monday, July 30, 2012

Panic Mode

So I realized something last night as I stood sweating over a hot stove in this humid July weather: I'm going into panic mode. I have about $125 left on my food stamp card and in August, I get a whopping $16 for the month for food. I'm paying the minimum balances on all my bills. I'm trying to find cheap sources of protein, including eating egg yolks (I never liked egg yolks). And I'm buying cheap packages of meat (cheap, but not poor quality... I will never buy meat at WalMart and I will not buy meat that is all fat and gristle). Also, I am making big batches of soup and freezing it.

That's 6 quarts of soup there on the left

I have a chest freezer that has two 6lb chickens in it, as well as more frozen vegetables than a person can eat, and more soup. There's also frozen fish, and if I though I could freeze fish chowder I'd make a big kettle of that to put up. I feel like I'm hoarding food for my eventual financial ruin. It's kind of scary. All I know is that someone had better shoot a deer this year, because I can't live on a semi-vegetarian diet forever; chicken stock just doesn't satisfy.

The thing is, I have big beef roasts and those chickens which are too big for one person, and I never have anyone to cook for any more (no boyfriend, remember) so... using that meat is a challenge. A roast I can thaw and cut up into stew beef to make a soup or stew for (and freeze it) but as creative as I can be with a chicken, 6lbs of chicken is a lot, even if I'm making a chicken pie. So, for fear of food waste, I hoard all that stuff in my freezer.

Oh, and I can't believe how grossly overpriced pork loin is. You can get one of those vacuum sealed ones for almost $5 or $6 or, as I noticed at the grocery store, a freshly butchered one for just over $2. Yeah... I'm not the biggest fan of pork but a nice clean loin roasts up real nice. And Save-A-Lot... I don't know if this is a national chain but, not a deal. At all. Desperation makes you notice when you're being ripped off by flashy signs and warehouse-style buildings that don't use bags for your purchase. What is that?

Anyway, time to go re-stock on some basics that I'm out of. Re-stock, as cheaply as possible.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Can we Stop Blaming Video Games?

So I wasn't going to write today, give myself a day off, so to speak, but as I waded through excessive articles about the Olympics on Yahoo, I found a little article about the early signs of bullies. And there it was, and I was expecting it: "plays violent video games." Also listed were R-rated movies. People, let's stop the bullshit blaming here. Video games don't make kids violent, whether they're monitored or not.

Not that I would recommend it for a kid, but shitty parents give in to the demands of their 10 year-olds and buy them this shit
Some people are going to be aggressive by nature. I am. I control that shit. I blame it on repression and being raised right. You heard it. My parents were parents and when I stepped out of line, they corrected my ass. Yeah, I was the youngest by a lot and got away with what my siblings would consider murder (note: no actual murder) but I never realized the full actualization of my aggression until adulthood. I still don't harass people or beat them senseless. And you wanna know what the media blamed bullying on in my day? Heavy metal. And I listened to a lot of it. I'm listening to it right now. And I'm not punching any puppies.

My gateway drug
Stop looking for scapegoats and fucking parent, people. Now I know this is where you roll your eyes and say "oh look, a person with no kids is trying to tell me how to raise my kids!" but take a step back and look at how you're interacting with your kid, how you're disciplining them. Fucking just pay attention to them once in a while. Make sure they're not killing animals and shit. And if there's a problem, there are tons of child behavioral programs out there. In central Maine alone there are at least, oh, five or six? It's not hard to be the solution rather than the cause of the problem.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Take on why Twilight is so Popular

I did it. I finally broke down and read the Twilight "saga." I read each book, including the novella, ready to mock them, but was surprised to find that there was something undeniably relatable within the characters. Now, I'm going to preface this by saying that the books do have their entertainment value and I did get a chuckle here and there, but... I would hate to think of my little niece looking at Bella Swan as a role model, Edward Cullen as the perfect boyfriend, because they're not. The books are not great literature and for all that Meyers tries to spend the first 400 pages of each book on character development and interaction, the characters are actually pretty 2-dimensional. And while I'm at it, what is up with cramming all of the plot in the last 150 pages of the books? What is that shit? Who does that? Notwithstanding, I can't deny that there are certain aspects that readers can relate to (maybe not universally, but subject matter is subjective) so I decided to pick out three key items and parallel them with my personal experiences. I'll be speaking mostly about the books, but may interject with movie elements as needed.

1. The controlling boyfriend
So. I had an Edward once. Pale, handsome, intelligent and articulate. Even came from the goddamned Pacific Northwest. I fell madly, deeply in love very quickly and didn't realize until the very, very end that he was isolating me, keeping me from my friends, limiting time spent with my family, making me completely codependent on him... kind of like, oh, I dunno, Bella. When our relationship ended and he left, I was completely nonfunctioning. When you look at Bella and Edward in the books, you see how Edward controls who Bella sees, has her monitored at all times, and loses his shit when she disobeys him and goes to LaPush.

2. That electrifying stomach butterfly
So this is pretty much in the first book exclusively, but it's when Edward and Bella don't quite touch, and it's described as an electricity between the two. I remember that intensity, when you're so attracted to someone that their very proximity is like an electric charge up and down  your skin that makes those insidious butterflies in your stomach set flight. And when you do touch? It's like you're on fire. This was one thing Meyer actually wrote really well. I kind of missed it in the rest of the books.

3. The puppydog
That tattoo is on the wrong side. Yes, I watched the movies too

I think everyone has had their puppydog. Bella literally did. Mine was John. While I bounced from man to man, I watched and tried to pretend he was just my friend and that it didn't make him jealous, all the while spending as much time in my presence as possible. The puppydog isn't a bad thing, after all, I chose mine, the eventual end of our relationship notwithstanding. Sure, the puppydog can become a bitter person, like Jacob Black, but only if they're toyed with.

So there you have it. Three reasons I found Twilight relatable, I think these three may be the most widely encompassing, but like I said, it's subjective.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Why I Don't Have A Job

Today I  found out that I did not get a job that I was pretty sure I had in the bag. With every rejection (when the employer is courteous enough to send a letter or email)  I go through the same thought process, panic, blame. I fucked up, I think, I should never have gotten myself fired. I was so stupid. I usually snap out of that line of thought pretty damn quickly when I think back to my most recent employment. There is a bit of risk in explaining why I am currently unemployed, but I think it will help people to understand me, at least.

So the job I  got fired from was a customer care and technical care 1 call center job at a multi-million dollar telecommunications company that really really likes the color pink. Since I still have friends that work there, and am collecting unemployment, I'm not naming the company. I worked there for 6 years.

You put your phone where ma'am?, I'm sorry, that's not covered by your warranty.

In 2005 I left a low-level management position in fast food to work for The Company, and it was a great opportunity. My wages doubled, and I had health insurance. The training was intense, exhausting, but stimulating, and when it came time for me to graduate to the floor, I was scared, but I eventually made my way. As time passed, I gained the confidence of my supervisors, and was eventually allowed to come off the phones at times to provide semi-supervisory support to my team and surrounding teams, answering questions and taking escalated calls. Overall, the environment was fun. We had potlucks often, especially on the weekends when the cafeteria was closed, and there were often bowls of candy on supervisor's desks. It was a great environment.

Then, in the beginning of 2009, I experienced two life traumas in the same week that kind of broke me: my first very serious relationship ended (badly) and then a few days later, my dad had a heart attack (thankfully he's fine). I was distracted at work, crying at my corner desk where no one could see me. My boss at the time (we changed shifts every 6 months) knew what was happening and sympathetically scored calls from before my life crumbled. I struggled to focus on doing my job, moving back home with my parents, and dealing with my overwhelming grief.  That May I moved into my own apartment and over the course of the summer realized that something was very wrong, when I couldn't stop crying. That winter I went on antidepressants. I was off the phones for a week in a support role for my team, filling in for my senior representative who was on vacation when I started to itch uncontrollably. The bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin) my doctor had put me on I was allergic to. With the swollen throat from the early anaphylaxis, I plowed on and helped my team, and started a new medication, which made me overwhelmingly tired.

Around 2009 I started to notice a change in the atmosphere in the center. There were fewer activities, fewer incentives and the ones that were put forth were difficult to attain. We were expected to push services on customers, and all of a sudden, numbers mattered more than satisfaction. I took as much same-day PTO as I could just to get out of there. This was around the time that I started my first big manic phase, what I like to call my "slut phase," because that's what I did. I hunted and gathered men. Not pretty, I admit. Anyway, I realized this dark cloud was rolling in when members of management quietly started to disappear from the halls. The team next to us lost their direct supervisor, then they inherited our senior representative. Then our supervisor dropped the hammer: he had provided his 2-week notice. The company had denied his request to step down to a lower position in order to maintain a work-life balance so his only option was to quit. We all called bullshit. We were angry.

Then we punished him for leaving us
The end of 2010 saw me reach the maximum dosage of my antidepressant when I suddenly, during a brief team meeting before the start of day, freaked the fuck out and ended up having a 45 minute meeting in a huddle room with my supervisor (incidentally, I had the same supervisor this time around as I had had during my initial crisis). Not only was there pressure to sell, but my numbers had never been great when it came to call handle time. My quality was consistently good, but it wasn't good enough to get me off the phones, and I watched with resentment as the same person, time after time, was selected to support the team while we waited for our senior to come off leave. This was also the first time I'd ever been on a team that was outwardly hostile to me (including my supervisor) and openly ostracized me. This is also where I met John, my current ex. When it came time to change shifts, I couldn't wait.

Ahh, we are coming close to the end. By now, I was starting to feel the weight of inadequacy, working in a giant high school of gossiping harpies, seeing my numbers slip further and further. My final supervisor (I technically had one more, but never interacted with her, I'll get to that) ended up to be one of the most amazing people and I consider her my soul-sister and very, very good friend. And she helped me more than she can realize. Early in 2011, I  got my first migraine. I tried to write it off as a one-time thing, but they kept coming, getting worse. I got FMLA leave so that I could take a day when needed. However, the migraines were frequent, and I worked 4-day shifts and the migraines lasted 2 days; I had no way to salvage my stats and eventually ended up on an ROE, a "review of expectations" for a month. In addition to the migraines, something in me was changing, and I was getting very close to abusing my customers, to the point where my supervisor did pull me off the phones once to calm me down after a call.

Then one Monday I got up and got dressed but I could not leave my room. I sat on my bed and was pretty much catatonic. I texted John (who had accepted a job elsewhere at this point, but had the day off. We had started a sexual relationship at this point) in desperation. I didn't know what was happening. I couldn't move. In hindsight, I'd had my first panic attack. I sent a text to my boss and lied about having a migraine. Something had to change. John called me and told me about his friend Kevin, who used to work at The Company, went on a leave of absence and got fired, and was now on unemployment, and it was a solid thing. I arranged to meet them at the grocery store where they were going to pick up milk. I listened to his story, asked questions. Then I called out the rest of the week.

I went in that next Monday extra early. I had to control my breathing as I walked near the building so that I wouldn't hyperventilate because I was in panic attack mode, and waited for my supervisor to get in. When she sat down I slid into the chair opposite her and tried to talk without crying but that's pretty fucking impossible when you're losing it. I was hoping I was fired but she explained the process, that I was under an ROE for another month, then, the angel, suggested I file for a continuous leave of absence.

I filed the leave of absence, in that I called the HR Helpdesk and requested the paperwork, which made my absences excused in the interim. I didn't hand in  the paperwork and eventually it got declined. I filed again, at the suggestion of my local HR department. I the meanwhile, I filed for short term disability (which was a joke) that got denied. I ended up applying for food stamps and borrowing from my 401(k) and eventually my second unsubmitted LOA request was declined. Then I got the call from my local HR. I played dumb, pretended I didn't know what she was talking about, didn't know what "quit" and "terminate" meant until she said that The Company would have to sever my employment. The process took 3 months and was very, very lean times. They fired me exactly 1 month to the day of my 6 year anniversary on October 28, 2011. Unemployment saw in my favor,  but I never saw any benefits until December, because when you get fired versus laid off, there's a lot of red tape to go through.

So yes, I deliberately got myself fired. But I needed to, for my own sanity. I have friends that are still there and I don't know how they haven't been broken yet. I have heard the most horrible things about changes being made there and... I'm glad I left.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kristen Stewart's Affair Shouldn't be an Issue

While I find Kristen Stewart to be one of the more repulsive actresses in Hollywood for her lack of acting ability and general shitty attitude toward everything (seriously, have you read interviews with her?), the harsh light she is being painted with in the media for her affair is unfair. If she was a man, it wouldn't be in the media half as long.

Image yoinked from here
Jezebel put it quite well in their article stating that Stewart's public apology was unnecessary. Here's my take on things: people cheat. I've been cheated on, I've lead men to cheat unabashedly. I've been aware of other people's infidelities and kept their secret. People cheat. It happens. In fact, I've seen numerous documentaries that would postulate that cheating is hard-wired into our DNA as a failsafe to ensure survival of the species by finding the best genes possible. And you know what? Sometimes actors on movie sets get lonely and project their feelings on others, because, you know, they're human.

As much as I can't stand her, Kristen Stewart is only 22 years old. She's a baby and she's being dragged through what's usually a man's scandal, public apology and all. Added to that, Twitard fans are sending death threats via Twitter. Give the kid a break. She's young, and probably in the first serious relationship of her life. Everyone makes mistakes. I don't see people demanding a public apology of the married with two kids director involved.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho, A Childfree Life for Me

I try to stay away from discussing politics, but with the upcoming presidential elections looming, the ongoing battle for women's health has me very concerned. Of course, being a woman, I am concerned, but fact of the matter is, my reproductive health is no one's damn business. I am childfree by choice and should I accidentally find myself with some rapidly splitting cells in my uterus, I want my options and clinics open. I'm not hugely a fan of throwing myself down a set of stairs.

Politics aside, I was probably about 10 or 11 years old when I really realized  I didn't want children, but the idea didn't really cement in my mind until probably high school. I don't know how to talk or interact with children, babies creep me out with their blank, myopic stares, and children in general put me on edge. I do not like children. I get vilified for this, by feminists of all people. And I hear it all:

"How can you hate a baaaaaaby?" Because it's creepy
"You were one once!" This will render all other arguments null and I will instantly stop listening to you if you use this, since it is the most illogical of all arguments
"You'll change your mind  once you have one!" Oh yes, let me go have a trial baby, just to see. I can return it, right?

Listen, part of reproductive rights is the right not to reproduce. Believe me when I say I know myself, I know I have a temper, that I'm unstable, selfish, and self-centered. I know I would be a verbally and (probably) physically abusive parent. I would never bring a child into the world with that self-knowledge. I like having my stuff, I like being able to travel when I want. And I like my damn cats.

Listen, if you want kids, fine. You can have my share of the shitty diapers and vomit and screaming. Just don't belittle my choice not to.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Big Fat French Family

When I was younger, I always wished for some crazy ethnic family. Movies like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" didn't help; who couldn't fall in love with a huge, crazy, ethnic Greek family whose yiayia thought everyone was a Turk? I was in love with the fact that they retained their heritage and closeness. I envied my high school friend John, who is Filipino and has a huge extended network of cousins. And then my ex, John, who is technically first generation German-American, whose Oma I grew close to, whose family I absolutely fell in love with, listening to stories about Germany and trying to absorb as many recipes as possible.

Not until I was an adult did I realize that I was part of a crazy ethnic family myself (emphasis on crazy). Maybe, by virtue of geography, I was too close to it. I am Franco-American. Somewhere, in the wilds of Quebec (or Quebec City, most likely) my mother still has cousins.

Even as an infant, my mom looks like she's ready to yell at one of us kids

So in that picture is my my Nana, my infant mother, and my grandfather, who I never knew (he died long before I was born). Nana grew up speaking French, and always had that little bit of something in her voice. Not an accent. It's hard to explain. But there are a few things you need to know about these crazy Franco-Americans living in Maine, that I've observed from my family, and the families in the area:

1. No one is ever called by their name. In my family alone there was a Penny (Rachel), Pitt (Omer), Button (Regina). Probably more that my mother will enlighten me to once she reads this. I know the French side of my best friend's  family had this phenomenon, too.

2. Prepare to be sworn at in French, especially if you're a man or a dog. Ahh... memories of Mrs. Dubois yelling across the lake at her husband...

3. Don't try to understand Canadian French. I took French in high school (admittedly, I had the worst teacher ever) and I don't understand it. It's a completely different thing. Even the accent. Take the holy grail food, toutiere pie. We pronounce it too-chay, not too-tee-ere (phonetics here are roughed out).

And this next point I think goes for all families regardless of ethnicity or heritage: we get into each other's business. Goodness knows when I go to my cousin's salon I best come with information about my siblings. Hehe. And we're (I'm speaking for my family here) all. fucking. loud. Our volumes are yell and yelling and that kind of drives me insane. How does a family with the hereditary gift of migraines have no volume control?

I love my family though. I wouldn't trade them for anything. Even though they're all fucking crazy.

Stephanie and I are still perfectly sane, though.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All Boobs Are Not Created Equal

As you can probably tell from my tattoo post, both from the nude and the side view, I'm pretty stacked. No one in my family can figure out why, since big boobs don't run in my family. And I'm an inconveniently odd size, too: 34DD. Now don't get me wrong, I spent my adolescence hating my big chest, but I love it now.

Eyes up here

But in all seriousness, can we talk about how ridiculous bra shopping is for me? Go to the bra section at Wal Mart and find a 34DD. Go ahead, I'll wait. What, you didn't find any? You might  find on in the Just My Size rack, but after a look at their website, I don't think their DD go as low as 34. No, if you go to a big box store, more than likely the smallest DD bra you will find is a 38, way too big of a band size for me. Most DD bras are made with the understanding that the women that will wear them are going to be approaching morbid obesity. And if you're bigger than a DD with such a small band size? Then you're fucked. A former friend of mine was a 34G (yes, implants) and we managed to find a store in Portland, 2 hours away, that carried larger sizes.

No, I have to special order my bras from Victoria's Secret (they don't carry my size in the stores usually) or Frederick's of Hollywood. Now the Victoria's bras are more comfortable but way more expensive. They also have some annoying structural integrity issues with the straps in the "seamless" models. While the Frederick's bras are cheaper and last longer, they're not as comfortable and don't have the push-up padding. I also tend to fall out of them a lot, which is really annoying, especially in public.

But in all seriousness, the bigger your tits are, the more expensive the bras are if you want any quality. And when you're a weird size like me and have to seek out specialized sources, you're shelling out a lot of money; even Victoria's Secret's semi-annual sale ends up being an expensive venture (plus, I am addicted to the panties from their Pink! line, since they're super comfortable). It's really unfair. I'm down to two bras, both from Frederick's, and have no money to order new ones, with no option to traipse into Wal Mart and buy one because I'm a weird size, dammit.

So this is my entreaty to the bra makers of the world: not every DD, DDD, E and above is morbidly obese. Some of us are just small around. Some got implants. Please don't discriminate against our boobs. We want cute, affordable bras, too.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Looking Objectively at the Colorado Massacre

This is not where I weep for the victims and entreat my readers to pray. Rather, I want to know why, in 2012, we still are shocked ans stunned when an average-looking guy loses his shit and kills a bunch of people. Come on, guys. Haven't we learned yet that Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski are the exception, not the rule? Most killers, be they serial or otherwise, are perfectly normal-looking people that you would never suspect, living ordinary lives. History has told us this.

He vaguely looks like someone I went to high school with

I feel bad for James Holmes. Now before you flame me and send me hate mail, let me explain. Something, somewhere, went terribly wrong. You don't just shoot up a theatre full of people for no reason (and while I'm at it, why was a 6 year-old at a midnight showing?). Ordinary people can and do snap. So far I haven't seen any interviews from his parents to see if he had any abnormal behaviors in childhood as far as hurting animals or other children, which are the normal early signs of sociopathy. But even so... remember when I wrote about my rage-filled mania this past May? Now, chemically, my bipolar disorder is A-OK because my lithium levels are where they're supposed to be. But I was still on the verge of snapping. I had horrible violent fantasies that I thankfully didn't act out. And dare I say even now I'm under the influence of an unhealthy obsession that would have my therapist writing orders to have me committed (I prefer not to write about it on here, it's not the time).

I can relate to this kid, in a way, only something in him not only snapped, it fucking broke. Broke to the point where he lost the tenuous tie to reality and just lost his shit in a premeditated attack against strangers. And because he was so fucking smart he boobytrapped his apartment  so effectively it took the local police department two days to disarm it.

Colorado still has the death penalty, so I can see where this is going. But really, if psychologists can get in there, try to fix what is broken, and rehabilitate him, he has a brilliant mind. It would be a shame to for the government to let that go to waste.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some of the Best Journalism is in Playboy

Since the closing of the local book store, the only place in town to buy Playboy is one of the two porno shops, neither of which I'm stepping foot inside unless I have someone with me to embarrass the hell out of (because it's no fun unless you have someone who is sexually repressed ask where the casting molds are or help you pick out a dildo). So I drove all the way to Augusta to Barnes &  Noble to get a copy and to pick up a book I wanted, only to find they didn't have this month's copy. They had things like "The Best College Co-Eds" and things like that, but not this month's issue. Well, shit. I left with my book and a frappuccino and a load of disappointment and bitterness (unrelated to the magazine) and just placed an order on Amazon for a year's subscription.

Why yes, that is the Kim Kardashian Playboy and yes it is mine
My first Playboy was actually the one with Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett (the second one in, if you don't know your E! celebrities) on the cover. As you can see, my collection is not big, but I value each one of them. You see, I really do read them for the articles. Like I've mentioned before, I read a lot. Sexuality and sexual health are things that are important to me and frankly, these are issues that regular magazines and newspapers walk on eggshells around, skirt the issue, or avoid entirely. The writers at Playboy are intelligent, articulate, and unabashed when it comes to writing about real issues. I'm going to paste in something I wrote on my sex blog about the Crystal Harris issue (that's the third one in) and if you can get your hands on the issue (you might be able to find it on Amazon from a seller, or ebay) I definitely recommend reading the articles I mention.


Fight for your Rights by Christian Kahrl discusses the ongoing struggle of transgendered individuals in today's society. I went to what was unflatteringly referred to as the "gay school" in the UMaine system. Yes, there was a high population of gay, lesbian, and bi students (hello second floor of Scott Hall South!) and there were at least two transgendered individuals. One was a male to female individual and my first encounter with a transgendered individual. I knew her first as a man, the kind person who fixed my cable one day who then went on to complete hormone therapy, and a couple of years later, gender reassignment surgery. She and a female to make transgendered individual spoke to my human sexuality class one day, and MTF described herself as "the happiest person alive."

While the process of gender reassignment, from therapy to hormones to the actual surgery was detailed, I never knew the other struggles that would entail, until Kahrl's article opened my naive eyes. The difficulty transgendered individuals face in merely becoming individuals is astounding:  mounds of red tape in name changes, gender changes on birth certificates and social security, and overall discrimination. As Kahrl quite succinctly put it in the article: "Rights as citizens are only for those who can afford them." Thankfully, it seems that a branch of the CDC called the NCTE is looking to make changes to the difficulty transgendered individuals have in changing the gender on their birth certificates. I found that article via The National Center for Transgender Equality, should anyone be interested in their own research.

The second article in this month's Playboy that caught my attention was Old Fears by Jeff Krehely, concerning the rights and care of elderly LGBT individuals. We now have a demographic of LGBT senior citizens and again raises the concern of visitation and legal rights for couples who may have had a long-standing and monogamous relationship with their partner that is not legally recognized as a marriage because, gasp, while legal in many states, "the Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing these unions." It is appalling that, should some day, as a bisexual individual, I end up sharing my end of days with a woman that she not be allowed the same rights to see me in the hospital if I was ill as an opposite sex partner would.

Also horrifying is the thought that elderly LGBT individuals receiving in-home care or residing in convalescent or retirement homes are suffering neglect and abuse by people that don't want to be seen as "gay" for holding a person's hand or bathing them, and worse are the tales of emotional abuse by fundamentalists who would read Bible quotes to their patients. The most horrifying account in the article was of "a transgender woman with Alzheimer's disease at a long-term care facility whose staff refused to respect the woman's gender identity. 'Instead, they would dress her in men's clothing-- a daily occurrence  that was increasingly distressing for a woman already struggling with day-to-day cognitive functioning.'"

If that was my relative, I would be fucking livid and not only would I pull them from the facility, the facility would see themselves hit with a hefty lawsuit as well. My paternal grandmother had Alzheimer's before she passed, and had in-home care. While she was not transgendered or lesbian, she was vegetarian. One of her caretakers tried to feed her meat once. Grammie had been vegetarian since she was a young girl, and even with Alzheimer's, still maintained that lifestyle. While I personally don't think vegetarianism is a healthy lifestyle, far be it for me to pass judgment and impose my ideals on someone assuming that they no longer have any sort of independent thought.

Kudos to Hugh Hefner and his publication for presenting articles that are truly important and thought-provoking. If only society could get over themselves and buy and issue or two and really read the articles, maybe more social change could happen.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Witching

Some people watch the Pirates of the Caribbean movies for Johnny Depp. Some, for Orlando Bloom. Some, simply for the swashbuckling adventure and action. Me? I look forward to Tia Dalma. Who?

A touch of destiny

Why, the witch in the swamp who gives Jack Sparrow the jar of dirt that we later learn is the goddess Calypso trapped in a human body, that's who.

When she is first introduced, her voice is low, sultry, like a piece of black velvet sliding her sinuously across the room to greet Jack and Will. You almost can't make out her words for the thick Caribbean accent (it's not exclusive to Jamaica, I've personally heard it in Nassau in the northern Bahamas) and it builds an air of mystery about her as they crowd around her home decorated in reagents of her arts. And at the end, she throws the bones. Perfect.

I can kind of identify with her as she speaks, in this first scene, of the love between Calypso and Davey Jones, and then, later (the third movie? I'm marathoning them right now as I type) she has an interlude with him while she is in the brig of a ship. There is a certain bitterness as they both speak of their love for each other and with my recent vulnerabilities... well, it's hard not to dig up movie clips of all these scenes, mash them together clumsily and email them off. She also has crazy eyes. That helps. I have those too. Anyway, I could probably write a whole blog entry about how the love between Tia Dalma/Calypso and Davey Jones is so much more meaningful and deep than the actual love story between Elizabeth and Will Turner but that's not what we're here for today.

Every adventure movie should have a witch, a mage, a soothsayer. Ultimately, I'm a bit biased from my dabbling in Wicca in my early 20's in thinking this witch should be female (granted, I still have a bit of a shamanistic tendency, I'd like to be the Woods Witch some day, but that will take some doing) but I guess a male wouldn't be so horrible.

Excluding the Pirates movies since I've already mentioned them, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy because, well... Gandalf, I'm going to list movies in my collection that have a good representation of the types of witches I'm talking about.

13th Warrior (also a great book)
Clash of the Titans
300 (oracles count)
Conan (the new one)

Now there are some movies in my collection that I couldn't remember. Like Pathfinder. I watched it once. It was one of those cheap DVDs I bought on a lark but involving early Native Americans and Norsemen? Probably a witch somewhere. I also didn't count any of my anime. Because it's anime.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sometimes, You Have to Splurge

So yesterday was terrible. I was already in a funk of sorts, and then I got a letter from DHHS saying that my food stamp benefits we being cut back to $16 a month. That just made my day hit rock bottom. I cried, I got  really, really angry to the point that I wanted to provoke someone just for violence, I wanted vengeance (what I mean is, I was honest in reporting my unemployment  to the state. My ex's leech roommates, I am pretty sure, lied to the state to get benefits. They live in his house rent free and no utilities or heat are in their name. He also works full time and contributes to groceries, all things that would disqualify them, regardless of them having a single income of 1500 a month. Naturally, I wanted to substantiate this claim and report them). Everything seemed bad and even as good as my job interview went, even that seemed out of reach. Oh yeah, and Planet Fitness made me overdraw my bank account, and I can't even afford to cancel my membership.

Today is a little better even though I got a bill for $307 from the hospital for lab work I recently had done. That's some bullshit right there. Checking vitamin deficiencies should not cost that much if a lithium level costs $58. But anyway. I had to go to the bank so I said "fuck it, I'm getting an iced coffee." See, little things like that I usually deny myself, because when you add up how much per week daily coffee consumption costs, it's a lot (this is actually a training module Dunkin' Donuts managers go through to track sales trends, and how I realized how much coffee I used to buy). But you know, I needed the pick-me-up. And you know what else? I've been itching for a new video game and I only buy used anyway so I bought a couple of fucking games.

I don't feel bad not having finished the first yet

Denying myself all the time is making me resentful of the people around me that have things. I'm not an acetic, and I never was. I like my toys and I've done really well on a very fixed income, but I need to do for me, every now and then. I may not be able to get my nails done every 3 weeks or my hair done, but the occasional used game or $5 movie at WalMart isn't going to kill me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Sordid Past

I'm feeling pretty dead inside, and since people want to know more about me, I figured I'd hackney together a post about something that people who are dead inside have no problem doing. Something I had no compunction doing in the past. This will probably be something that my mother won't want to read about, so Mom, if you read, read at your own risk and don't try  to talk to me about it after.

So about a year and a half ago was my last big manic episode, and you know what I did for fun? I hunted weak men. My thrill in life was identifying, seducing, and fucking weak-willed men, and all the more fun if they had a girlfriend or wife. Once I had them in my net-- but not in my bed-- I gave them a set of ground rules:

1. I am not your girlfriend. We are not dating.
2. You are not the only man that graces my bed.
3. Don't show up unannounced at my house.
4. Be discreet. You want to  cheat on your wife/girlfriend? Fine. Keep your yap shut. Bragging and/or telling others is only going to get your stupid ass in trouble.

See, I subscribed to the philosophy of "if your girlfriend/wife isn't taking care of your needs I can, but I won't take any other role." And I was fine with that. I felt no shame, and I still don't. Nor is it a point of pride for me. It's something in my past, a learning opportunity that people are weak, and can be exploited. And that is fun. Does it make me a horrible person? Probably.

Like I said, dead inside.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gaming and being OP

I'm going to rant, and it may sound petty, but yesterday's gaming session really irritated me. I'm new to tabletop roleplaying games, but not new to roleplaying in a general sense. I understand the basic concept of classes and stats, attack rotation, etc. I did play World of Warcraft pretty heavily for about 2 years before getting bored. I did need help with spending points and such, and since we really only had one book to use, I pretty much left a lot of my character sheet to our Game Master Jeff and John (the ex) after letting them know exactly what I wanted for my character (and they still consulted me for clarification). It also didn't help that the book is kind of ridiculously hard to follow, even for seasoned gamers.

"It reads like stereo instructions"
So, we got our characters made. John made his Corpse Candle, Kevin made his Painted Devil, and I made LaCroix. Out of us, I had the least "super powers" relying mostly on acrobatics, sneaky-sneaky, and theft (no, I'm not a Cat Woman knock-off. Cat Woman sucks). We played our merry way, had fun, my character summoned a ton of crows that skewed a battle in our favor while I used sneaky sneaky and John's character blew shit up. It was cool. Everyone said how awesome my character was and how well I played her (thick French accent and all). Jeff actually pulled me aside before a scene because I was  to be a key player. Shit was getting interesting.

Then Kevin's 18 year-old step daughter decided she wanted to join the game. So I asked her, "What's your character?" All she could tell me was he was Russian with a gas mask so I said "okay, well, Kevin has a gas mask, so you're Russian...  that's all?" Pretty much her entire character was built by Kevin, and in my opinion, he made her character so over-powered (OP, from here out) it's ridiculous. Now I called John out on being OP with one of his attacks and he scaled it back (he had actually re-read the manual and found an error with the points distribution. Like I said, horrible book). But Trina's abilities pretty much render my character irrelevant.

Case in point: Jeff is a sick fuck and had us transported to some alternate Gotham City under the totalitarian rule of people who want all metahumans to be registered and apparently hate wheels. Also everything is electric. Our team of heroes (and really, we use that term loosely...) joins the resistance and help them free Aquaman (how else are we going to get tuna sandwiches?) from a very public execution. So my character is a thief, right? I can pick locks. I'd have to critically fail to not pick a lock. Hey, all the locks here are electric, but that's okay, because I have points in technology too. I can be useful here. Trina's character can disrupt electrical fields. One BWOMP and everything electrical is disabled. Oh great. LaCroix walks Aquaman to safety while everyone else fights. Oh yeah, Trina's character defeats Superman. And that's all I fucking heard about, all day.

So yeah. Game wasn't as fun as it usually was. I don't like my character, who is actually quite developed, personality-wise and history-wise, being rendered irrelevant. I can't complain about it to my group because Kevin is her step father and his wife (her mother) hates me (she of the Facebook blocking) and John just wants peace in his house. I guess I could express it to Jeff. I was just so irritated by the end of it. I deliberately rolled a character that wasn't all-powerful. I like critical thinking and challenges. If LaCroix becomes OP in the future, it will be through plot and character development, not asshattery. The guys have already seen her lose her shit once.

Okay... Geek card shown. Breathe in breathe out before the nerdrage gets me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

OMG You Guise!

So I have a job interview tomorrow for an assistant manager position at the semi-local Dress Barn. I'm so nervous. I feel like I sound like an ass in interviews, stuttering all over the place. I'm so afraid that I'm going to forget key points about the brand, like the awesome charities they support (which, although not my dream job, their corporate charity work and incentive to be charitable really make me like this company) and sound like a blathering idiot in the interview. I'm trying to make sure I have everything ready. Like, my nails. My nail polish is chipped and I had done a little design and it just won't do to go to an interview with jacked-up nails. I can't do much about my horrible breakout, but I can pluck my horrible chin hair, which I've been ignoring way too long. My outfit is put together, but not the shoes. My hair was just washed yesterday, so I need to make sure my bangs don't get greasy. If I try to wash my hair tomorrow, I'm going to get the worst frizz. Aaaah! And what if I don't sleep tonight?

I'm just kind of excited. This is the first interview I've had since April. And I've been applying like crazy and not hearing anything back from 98% of the places I've applied to.

Jesus... most of my shoes have hooker-height heels....

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Music and the Overactive Academic Mind

You know what's fun? Music. Know what else is fun? Academia. No? That's not fun? Only I think that's fun? Well, okay.

At first, being unemployed was fun; I had lots of time to have fun times with friends, but then it was winter time and people had to work and who wants to  go out in snow anyway? I got bored. Really fucking bored. When a smart person gets bored, watch out. Projects galore! I tried to crochet. I set up and abandoned a cooking blog. I had ideas for things I never did. Then I started reading things and listening to things and wanting to write full essays about them. I did, after all, dissect one song and write an entire blog post about it.

I discovered Puscifer's The Condition of My Parole this Spring and holy hell, did that make me want to do a whole goddamn journal-length article, track-by-track about how the songs borrow from American roots, oral tradition, bluegrass, and African American shout songs. Seriously. I listened in depth and pined for a companion CD I'd had in college to a compilation of African American literature so I could draw parallels. I almost dug out my American roots CD to do so. I had to restrain myself. Nonetheless, it's an amazing album. But then again, I'd buy anything Maynard James Keenan fronted, even if it was an album of him singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. His voice is pure sex. I'd fuck it if I could. cough

Look at how awesome the cover art is!

If you get a chance, watch the video for the title track on Youtube (make sure it's the extended edition). It's a hoot!

Puscifer is so different from Keenan's main band Tool that I was taken aback at first. I am a huge Tool fan. I actually formulated this post when I was driving to my parent's house today, Tool's Undertow album cranked. It's probably my favorite Tool album, and another that seems to have a somewhat Southern, swamp/bayou theme. Shit, one of the [awesome] songs is called "Swamp Song."

See? Without meaning to, I started to dig in. My point is, there's amazing music out there that begs to be discussed. Where some people may hear mindless noise, we can actually trace back to earlier musical elements, or, listening to lyrics, find great profundity where least expected. So excuse me, next time I start babbling about something I've heard. I get really excited.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gotta Love Crazy Chicks

Being a girl who has Psycho Ex Tendencies(TM), when the WWE introduced a storyline with their Diva AJ Lee losing her shit after a breakup with douchebag and former World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, I was all over that shit. Long story short, Daniel Bryan blamed her for his loss at Wrestlemania, she slapped the shit out of any of her girlfriends or fellow Divas that tried to reach out to her, then she started to turn her attention toward other wrestlers.

Will it be the handsome CM Punk, evil Kane, or her ex Goatbeard McVegan?
I love that they made it a love quadrangle, because love triangles are for chumps. So, week after week, we kept seeing the crazy. During a match, her theme music would suddenly play, and she would come skipping out, distracting the wrestlers. I started to see a pattern: she would distract the other wrestler against CM Punk so that he would win, and in the case of distracting Kane, end up carried off, probably for rapies, while she gave Punk a salacious look over his shoulder. Don't believe me?

I'll wash his scent off me after

Sadly, after all the fun, WWE decided to write Kane out of the love quadrangle. It was hilarious, the demon letting her down gently by telling her that it was a bad thing if he found her unstable, that she needed help and that he isn't "boyfriend material." I laughed so hard. If you don't watch professional wrestling, you don't get how hilarious it is that Kane, who was touted as the Undertaker's brother, who is now the last of the old-school "story" wrestlers, whose schtick is evil and being inhuman, tell someone he is not boyfriend material.

"I'm just not boyfriend material"

So now AJ bounces between Punk and the pasty asshole with the soup-strainer mustache, still skipping, still crazy eyes. And then it's announced that she will be the special guest referee for their match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view (I'd really like to see this, but the person who would order it is my ex, and I  don't know if he's getting it Sunday, which is the day I'll be there anyway). Then Daniel Bryan starts confessing his love for her (before when they were in a relationship, he was really kind of emotionally abusive to her) but AJ realizes he's trying to sway her. Still... she seems to be making doe-eyes at him too. But then she busts out that Punk is her soul mate. And proposes.

This is some bullshit right here-- Punk's  face

Then Bryan proposes. Then they have a mixed tag team match where AJ and Punk win but Punk tells her he won't be marrying her and she slaps him. And oh man his face. Anyone who has been around men with anger management issues has seen that face, and the head swerve while he tries really, really hard not to hit back. Of course, Daniel Bryan, the douchenozzle, starts saying "come home!" and she soundly slaps him too, and skips merrily off to her theme music.

I LOVE this girl! I wish she would skip back to Kane, just for funsies.

I sleep with your hairbrush
I'm so obsessed. Her theme is my ringtone. Which means every time she skips out on TV, I'm checking my phone. Oh well.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Let's Talk Tattoos

How about something a bit more uplifting, eh? I had the opportunity to spend some time today with a  dear friend I haven't seen in several months, and as we were walking along she dragged the sleeve of my T-shirt up so that she could see my half-finished tattoo. I'm about $95 away from having it finished (I want to have a little more than the $350 I need to finish it so that I can give my tattooist an awesome tip and put down the $20 for more art, since this is going to become a full sleeve eventually).

The bird is a crow, you can't tell from the angle of this pic

In a world where tattoos are no longer taboo, they mean different things to different people. My two tattoos are both of crows, my animal guide. Part of my spirituality and link to nature. Lilies are just my favorite flower and I wanted to incorporate the two. My plan is that the whole sleeve will be crows and lilies, and within it, a tribute to the women in my family who have passed: my Aunt Penny, my Nana, and my Grammie. I haven't figured that part out yet, but that's why I have Bella to turn to, to draw me something beautiful based on the information I give her.

I had to add the porno cover star to make it Blogger-safe. But yes... 8 crows up my rib cage. I may have more done to this later on. It was a cheap, quick tattoo, and my first.

My brave niece, before fleeing her hellish other family for the wilds of Montana to start life over, asked me to go with her to get her first tattoo. When she first told me what she was going to get I was like "you're getting what?" But it makes sense. For a kid who had very little childhood, who had to be an adult way too soon, who grew up with abuse, around drug use, torn between fights where adults used child protective services as weapons. So thinking on it, having "The World" tattooed on her shoulder made perfect sense. She is brave, and strong, and beautiful, and she bears all that weight with grace.

Although, the way he did the r, lack of after care instruction and proper IDing really bug me. Glad I went with her. Fuck Redneck Tattoos. You heard me.

And then there are people who get tattoos to retain their religious identity in times of oppression. I was using Stumbleupon one day (I actually discovered it when I found that people were finding my blog by using it) when one of my stumbles brought me to an article about tattooed Croatian women. Forced to convert to Islam by the Turks, they tattooed secret symbols on their hands and arms to retain their Roman Catholic identity. The whole article was fascinating and can be found here.

While I only have two tattoos right now, it's something I love and find fascinating, so it will be a topic that will come up again. I mean, I didn't even cover my sister's meaningless ass-dolphin, which I suggest she augment with the words "rape" and "murder" because, well... dolphins try to rape humans and actually do murder porpoises. Don't believe me? Read the articles on Cracked. But I digress...

The Worst Feeling

Something a friend of mine wrote on her Facebook made me realize that movies really don't portray how life shattering and painful a breakup really is. Breakups are devastating. While my breakup technically happened just a few days before Valentine's Day, we carried on as if nothing had happened and the actual severing of the relationship happened about a month ago. These last few days, I haven't been able to sleep (it's 5am as I write this, I got up after a futile attempt at sleeping), I'm hungry but I can't bring myself to eat anything of any substance, and I can't seem to stop crying. When I do try to sleep all I can do is think and wonder what I did wrong, if he's rebounding, if there's any hope for reparations.

I went away in February, went out of state for 8 days and spent that time really thinking about what I wanted. When I realized that I was texting him every day and I wanted to share all of the things I was doing with him, I realized that I was ready to face my fear of commitment and the "L" word and realized I could really see the long haul. He was ecstatic and we were so happy, but not back together. We were just... friends with benefits that said I love you a lot. But... we would lie in bed at night and talk about the long term and  plan out trips to Europe and were so in love.

It's so hard to write this.

I'm so filled with confusion and fear and sadness.  I walk on eggshells when I send him a text and he sends me very short answers. I finally emailed him and he said he is happy with the way things are. That is, happy without me there. Am I reading too far between the lines? I want to text bomb his phone with questions, I want to be aggressive and ask why? Why when I was ready did you have this crisis? Why couldn't you have let me stay by your side through it? Why couldn't you just keep my love? Why are you not really answering the questions in my email?

I'm going to be seeing him Saturday night and I feel like it's going to be so tense. And I know I'll probably end up crying at some point. Sigh... I might actually have to call him tonight because I don't think he understood part of my email (there's some household drama that I'm wanting to avoid overall this weekend while we game). Maybe I could... maybe.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If it Looks Good, Eat It

I used to be a little bit of a picky eater, not terrible like some kids are. I mean, I turned my nose up at carrots but absolutely loved beets and spinach. As I grew up I reevaluated my tastes (for the longest time I swore I hated clams and, at a birthday party for my brother in law and father I sat there, eating my brother in law's steamers while claiming I hated clams. Guess what? I like clams) and started trying new things. I tried liver again and realized I still didn't like it. Realized that, as beautiful as it is I just don't like salmon. Realized good German sauerkraut is actually very good. I started to experiment in my cooking and realized I love the simple fresh (and sometimes pungent)  flavors of Mediterranean food. I learned how to detect the flavor notes in the things I had in restaurants and reproduced them at home.

I love food. I'm pretty damn passionate about good-quality ingredients and making delicious things from them. I'm so damn excited that my 20 year old niece is now starting to cook now that she's out in Montana (she has access to wonderful game meats and I am so jealous) and my youngest niece, just 12 years old, has been taking over my sister's kitchen for over a year now. But she isn't so willing to try new things yet. My sister needs to quote Hannibal Lecter to her: "As my mother told me, and I'm sure your mother tells you, it is always important to try new things."

Lately, I have been wanting to really explore new things in the world of food.  I blame Andrew Zimmern.

That's right. The guy that eats bugs and stuff

Really, he's kind of an inspiration. He travels all over the world, talks to people in villages who raise and produce food. Right now I'm watching an episode where he's in Finland, and it's absolutely delightful, the interaction he's having with the people he's meeting. He seems to appreciate the sustainability of crops, herds, and fish. He's so respectful everywhere he goes and he is so excited to try the new foods, no matter how gross they may seem to Western sensibilities. He even ate hákarl with grace. Also, he really opened my eye to organ meats (often referred to as offals).

I want to try organ meats. I want to buy a beef heart from the farmer's market. I want to try a lamb or calf's brain. I want to make my own bacon out of a slab of pork belly, grind by own beef and pork for burgers and sausage. I want to try more game meats (I've had deer and moose, in Maine it's hard not to). I want to make my own artisan breads (scary!) .

 Moreover, I want to travel around and try foods from different places, both in the US and abroad. I've expressed an interest in doing this locally but I have no one to explore with. What fun is it to find a hole-in-the-wall place and try something new if you're alone? The problem is, Maine is a huge state, so it would take a considerable amount of time to try to explore with the intent of eating, unless I and whatever intrepid soul just jumped in the car and drove, stopping at whatever place struck our fancy.

For now, I'll try to focus on scouring the supermarket and farmer's market for new things. I've been eying the persimmons... and waiting for the nopales although they're usually expensive.

For more info on using organ meats (really, why are we so wasteful?) Offal Good is an awesome blog.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wisdom does not just belong to the Aged

I never expected incohesive word vomit to generate so many hits. I love you guys. I've been laying like a lump on the couch most of the day, alternating between almost crying, having a headache, crying, and trying to nap. And then my niece called. For being just 20, she is one of the wisest people I know. We all pick on her for being "special" but really, she's bright, intelligent, and wise way beyond her years due to the shittiest childhood no one should ever have. And she's been through her share of relationships too, having just broken up with her boyfriend. So she talked it out with me, she let me cry, and at one point I laughed hysterically when I thought she said "your mom" (she didn't, it was some noncommittal noise, but she said the effect was a good one). If she wasn't all the way in Montana, I'd cook her a huge fucking dinner for the pep talk. I'll get my chance when she comes home for her birthday.

I miss her so much

I really wish I had the money to go visit her in Montana. The amount of green and mountains and blue blue sky I see in the pictures she posts is tantalizing.

Hylyte Reservoir. Seriously. Seriously. She can take pictures like this on a daily basis. Bitch.

Monday, July 9, 2012

One is the Lonliest Number

You know, I have a lot of bitterness and resentment. No one has to point it out to me, I know it, full well. I have been cast aside by friends who have found other people that don't have as many emotional problems more favorable, I've had a shitty relationship that ended badly and a great one that ended with a lot of confusion that I'm still dealing with. I have a very, very few friends who actually act like they care. I read a lot of my friend's statuses on Facebook and just think "you're stupid," sometimes. I resent being discarded by people when I need them. I'm only a convenient friend when I'm stable and saying the right things and kissing asses.

I'm tired. I'm tired. I miss my boyfriend. I hate that he won't even respond to a text message. I know our breakup wasn't because of me, but when one of the stabilizing presences in my life cuts me off because he needs to take care of his own emotional stuff, well, it makes me feel like I've done something wrong. I'm going through all kinds of paranoia during this separation, that he will rebound (I have huge trust issues surrounding relationships and this scares me), that he won't want me any more, that he will choose his roommates over me, just to avoid household tension.

I think I read this blog more than anyone because I  fear losing myself. Losing relevance to everything. I spend so much goddamned time in my head because I have so few people to talk to any more, and I'm afraid half the stuff in my head wold scare them away. He was never afraid.

I resigned myself to loneliness years ago. It just... sucks. A lot.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Sweet Smell of Silage

I could never live in the city. My dependency on the forest notwithstanding, there is just something so special about the country. Of course, the abundance of trees in Maine is a plus, and I love that it takes 20 minutes to get everywhere. Today was gorgeous. Because my rear-view mirror just fell off, I had to drive to my parent's house so that my Dad could fix it. The drive in summer time is sublime. I normally don't drive with my windows down, since it's loud and I have very long hair, but the fresh air and the green was too tempting.

Sorry about the bug guts

There are certain places where I can see my other self running alongside the car, almost like they are secret places although they are so close to the road:

in a larger format, this looked so much better

The smells are another thing I love about living in the country. When I was growing up, just a short walk up the road lived my second cousins and sometimes babysitter. My second cousin had a farm, of sorts. Horses once, then just cow corn (read: feed corn) and hay. And one stinking silo. I'm not talking the tall silos you see that hold tons of grain, this is a low, long concrete trough almost, that gets filled with cow corn and hay, covered with a plastic tarp that's sealed down with old tires and left to ferment. The result is silage, and it smells awful. A sickly-sweet, sour smelling concoction that they feed to milk cattle around here. But... it's a smell you grow to expect. Like the smell of cows and cow manure when you go by the dairy farm, it's just there, and it's noticed when it's not there. And while we're talking about cattle and the things they eat:  there are a lot of hay fields around here. It's something people do for a little extra money, they hay their fields and sell the bales. And oh man, it smells good when it's fresh.

It smelled amazing to drive by this freshly hayed field

Oh, and have I mentioned you can see all the stars at night? All the stars. No light pollution! Take that, bright lights of Vegas!

Anyway I can go on and on about this topic and still not be done. But I covered the ones that were really on my mind: cow shit and hay.

Walking After Midnight

I went for a walk last night--this morning-- at about 2am, once the air had finally cooled and I could feel a breeze coming through the window. I had unnecessarily put myself in a morose place by listening to a song that makes me long for the forest (yes, there will be a write up on the song) and needed to be outside. I live in town, but it's a small town, and there are a lot of trees.

Picture walking by houses like this, only instead of a palm tree in the yard, a huge maple

I find there something supremely enjoyable about walking so late at night. It's quiet, there's no traffic, the air is clean. Occasionally there is the squeak of a bat hunting the bugs around light poles and the buzz of the lights, maybe a cat fight in the distance. And as much as my mother worries, I don't feel unsafe. The most I worry about is coming across a skunk, or a rabid raccoon or fox. This is my time to breathe in the scent of the trees and the plants, to wander with my thoughts. I had a lot of them last night. A lot of realizations about discussions I'd have to have if I got into a relationship again. Thoughts about my own flight risk and my own instability. I also started drafting a blog post, outlining it in my head, about something I've been reading. It will take me probably a few more days or a week before that one goes up. It's going to be painful, but I think people will like it.

I just found some freewriting I did almost exactly 3 years ago about a late night walk in my old LiveJournal:

I just got back from a walk. I used to walk late at night when I was in college, yet this felt like a completely different experience. I thought as I walked that Farmington and Fairfield are not so different, both are college towns with large area high schools and old Victorian homes. The houses are beautiful. There is one down the road that has recently had pesticide sprayed. Despite the rain I can smell the distinctly sickly-sweet aroma and it reminds me of the ant killer spray I used to use on my fir trees when the ants would strip the needles. A lot of the lawns are landscaped but overgrown like people just didn't have time. Most of the houses were dark. Odd for a Friday at 10pm. A few houses were lit. Glances in the windows. Kitchens with stoves covered in the tools of tonight's supper, left behind, ancient spices on spice racks. Doodles and magnets. TVs and computer monitors with that eerie blue glow in a dark room. There was one woman sitting in front of two monitors, one nice LCD and the other I initially mistook for a TV was an old CRT monitor. It looked like she was managing finances. Maybe reading email. In my quick glimpse I could see she was focused, brow furrowed. The sidewalks are very sparkly. At first I thought it was glass but there was no tell-tale crunch and it lasted too far and then I realized there was a high concentration of mica in the asphalt. The sparkles were mesmerizing in the dark misty night. Walking closer to the end of the road I could smell dryer sheets from the exhaust of some late evening foray into laundry. Smelled like Bounce. Odd, that the wind blew but it seemed so still. No rustling leaves. No frogs. No catfights or dogs barking. As I was walking back I thought I heard a woman yelling in one of the houses. It struck me as I walked back that what was different between walking late in Fairfield and Farmington is that, despite very obvious police presence in Farmington, there was the adrenaline rush of fear. Everything sounded like footsteps behind me as I clutched my keys, fingered my rape whistle. Was it because I was young and on my own and everything on campus was screaming at me that rape was just around the corner? Am I complacent that in Fairfield, nearly 30 and with many elderly neighbors that I am safer? Perhaps I am. I am going to keep walking. Next time in the other direction.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Learning Curve

It's hot, there's the soft smell of pesticide on the air, and I can hear the grackles congregating below my window where I had scattered last night's unfortunate french fries. Calypso tried to cuddle with me but she just doesn't realize she's made of fur. Today's post was going to be reader's choice, with a poll up on my Facebook, but since only my mother has cast her vote and is now out of town for the weekend, I'll just leave it up a few days and see if anyone else bites, and make Monday's entry reader's choice.

I was talking to my friend Janice the other night and I  don't know what brought it up, but I started talking about my brief stint in teaching. For four years in college, that was my main goal, to be a high school English teacher. After a semester in a classroom and completing all the courses and almost the entire major save the portfolio and state certification, I freaked out and changed my major down to just English. This was around the time that I knew that I had some issues with depression, but figured it was due to my birth control. Ultimately, it was the blank stares of my students on the day I was left to teach them in front of my professor that clinched it for me, but the experience of teaching was still very impactful. It was during this time I realized that my beloved academia was just as corrupt  as any business or government.

Go cougars! See, I can say that because they were Western Maine athletics and we were oddly Eastern Maine. See! No rivalries!

It's been about 10 years, I'd say, since I did my practicum teaching at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington Maine. I was assigned there because I didn't drive and didn't have a car, but it was still an unreasonable distance to walk. Thankfully, I had peers who gave me rides, since we were there in the morning. The school employs block scheduling, which I was used to from my high school experience, so I tried carefully to rotate my two good skirts and pairs of shoes, but because of snow days, I saw the same set of students most often, so they most often saw me in a long, brown skirt with Indian or Middle Eastern embroidery on it, and a black velour mock turtleneck tee (yeesh... don't hate me for that okay? I loved velour in college).

The group I saw the most often were my 9C's, These were low-level freshmen who were not expected to excel to any greatness past maybe graduating. Maybe. These were the kids that might along the line drop out of school, get pregnant, get kicked out, or get sent to "alternative" learning programs. I quickly intimidated by the oldest, biggest kid in the class. I was pretty shy back then, and this kid was a 16 year-old in a group of new freshmen. He was big, rough around the edges. He looked dangerous and you could see he had a temper. I tried to leave him be as much as possible, which is horrible to admit.

All of the students kept journals, usually having to write a page on a prompt, and my assignment from my cooperating teacher was to collect and grade the journals. When it came to the intimidating student's journal (I honestly don't remember any of their names, sadly) his handwriting was so illegible I despaired to try to read any of it. I'm usually really good at deciphering the worst writing. But I couldn't read it at all, so I gave him a check minus grade and handed it back. He was pissed. "If I can't read it I can't grade it," I said defensively, walking away from him. I also didn't know how to handle confrontation back then, either. The next day I saw my 9C's I collected journals and sat at my desk. I went through them as they did an assignment and to my surprise when I opened the intimidating student's journal I found not only legible handwriting, but articulate, intelligent, thought-out paragraphs. I read it twice. I marked it with a check plus and when I handed it back to him he had the hugest smile to see the check plus on the page. I told him it was awesome. I don't think he'd seen many good marks before. I stopped being afraid of this kid from then on out.

I think that was kind of an epiphany day. Maybe he was rough around the edges because he was raised that way, and maybe he was angry because people thought he was stupid. So,  unable to convince people otherwise he played along and let the grades slip, until someone saw that he was really, really, smart. He wasn't the only one. There was another student in the same class, willowy and small but really smart and good at drawing. Frustrated with how smart he was, I asked my cooperating teacher "why is he in here?" His response? "Socioeconomic status." I shit you not, that's what he said. Half these kids were in here, expected to fail simply because they were poor. He sympathized with my heartbroken look, but in the end offered up nothing more than "There's nothing we can do about it."

And that's the really, really depressing part. More and more I hear about teachers who don't care and I think about this rough around the edges kid that intimidated the hell out of me, and how one check plus on his journal changed his attitude in class. One bit of positive feedback made him work harder. And are teachers going to even care enough to single out those students in their classes, especially as class sizes grow? Part of me is still an educator, and that part of me weeps, because it knows the answer is no.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Flight Risk

Sometimes, when I am in a car, driving or in the passenger seat, going by a deciduous forest of maple and pine, poplar and fir, I can see, below the lowest branches, rushing through the lush ferns another me. She leaps over fallen trees, using their mossy trunks as leverage to vault over boulders. She wears a simple pair of jean shorts that are frayed and worn, a black tank top. Brown hair streaming out behind her, catching on the occasional twig as she runs has a string of crow feathers tied in it. Sometimes when she shows herself, she is as pale and as white as me, luminous in the soft green, other times, she is the  golden soft bronze of someone living out of doors.

She is free and unfettered from the shackles of modern life, the worries of mental health and economic crisis. She spends her days in the forest, calling to the birds, drinking from the streams, sitting so, so still until the animals come to her hand. There is no need for speech, for words. The forest has it's own language and she speaks it. At night she finds the old, trample-down beds of deer and curls up in the sweet-smelling grasses.

I go looking for her sometimes, not just on the roadside, where she runs beside the car. I look for her in the secret, special places, the hidden places, untouched, green, alive. I run my fingers over the ferns and breathe deeply of air that smells so fully of life that it seems on exhale all that is toxic and bad in the world leaves my body. I look for the deer beds, travel to the places the ravens and crows roost, drink from the springs. When I leave the forest I am always alone, and when I must go back to civilization, I must leave her behind.

Today I had an epiphany, as I watched her run alongside the car until the forest ran out. For any man that would love me:

I am a flight risk. I am already half gone.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Just Fuck It All

My day has been like the weather today: dark, rolling, at times bright and cheery and then thunderous and gloomy.
Forecast calls for prescription drugs (don't worry I was at a stop light)

It doesn't help that I didn't actually get to sleep until 10am. Yep, insomnia. And as I lay here, exhausted and ready to sleep, the cat started in with her bullshit.

I've been starting at my laptop all day since I woke up around 12:30pm trying to think of what to write. At first I thought of spewing absolute vitriol about people and only thinly veiling my disgust for them. Scratch that. I thought about writing a funny piece about my cat. Couldn't bring myself to. Thought about writing an anti-4th of July manifesto beseeching the nation to ban fireworks because they're stupid and noisy and unnecessary. As much as I long to write that one, no. I couldn't even effectively stalk people because people have to have friends-only Facebook accounts. What the fuck is that shit?

I am in a shitty mood, I'm tired, I've had a low-grade headache all day, my psycho ex tendencies are rising, and all I wanted was a fucking chicken basket and the place had to be closed and I had to settle for popcorn chicken (but at least I got some stalking in). I'm in one of those moods where one little thing is going to make me snap and I'll probably end up calling the cops on my neighbors again if they set off fireworks one minute after ordinance.

So fuck today. Fuck the 4th of July and it's noise. Fuck it all. Tomorrow I'm going off the grid and heading for the woods.