Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's Fair Season

So I whined and whined that I wouldn't get to go to the fair, and my mother, who hadn't been to the fair in years, took me to the Great Windsor Fair in Windsor Maine. I don't care about the rides any more really, except one or two, but I'm perfectly happy not going on them. I'm a little bit old timey so I really enjoy the agricultural aspects of going to the fair. I will always make a bee-line to the goats. always.


Aside from the exhibits of large pumpkins and examples of the best of this year's squash and entries into the pie contest that I can not taste, one thing I love that people are surprised at are the horse pulls. Now on this particular trip horse pulls weren't scheduled. In their stead: ox pulls. This was a first for me. Horses, when they pull, are eager, excited, and lunge forward in their straight line to pull as far as possible before they are unhitched from the blocks and the distance measured. With oxen, you have a pair of stupid, straining, slavering, snotting bovines being poked and prodded by their handler into place. There are starts and stops and it's not a straight line as they pull, but figure eights, where in one pull I saw a man almost lose control of his team where they turned those massive ball-tipped horns toward him. No form of bovine is intelligent enough to show enthusiasm for pulling, to enjoy the challenge for the sport like a horse does. I'll stick to horse pulling in the future.

Now pulling, Herp and Derp

The fair brings all sorts of people together in one place. Senior citizens go for the fresh air and exercise, parents bring their screaming brats, teenagers walk around hoping to be seen, there are carnies trying to get everyone's attention (I had to scold my Mom for stopping and engaging with them. Eyes forward, don't engage, Mom), farmers in the cattle barns milk their cows to keep them on schedule while people gawk on. You overhear snippets of conversation here and there, see questionable wardrobe choices, bad tattoos. And then you get the Inappropriate Old Man. He's not inappropriate on purpose, he's just from a different generation where you talked about things differently. And that's kind of awesome. Mom and I were in a sheep barn, us, a woman with too many little girls all over the place in the way, and Inappropriate Old Man. As we made our way to the end of the barn, a woman was haltering and leading a ram out of an end stall. Inappropriate Old Man turned to Mom and I and said "Did you see the balls on him? They practically dragged on the ground!" Oh, Inappropriate Old Man, I want to sit at your Thanksgiving table some day!

Executioner sheep will see you at the chopping block

I may not have gotten a doughboy, and there was a gyro vendor I really wanted to investigate, but overall, my visit was a success. The sights, the sounds, the smells of all the food and the gamey sharp smell of livestock... it was all just what I was needing for this regressive summer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Flip Side of Bipolar or Depression and Dishes

I've written about mania before, outlining one of my recent manic episodes. Bipolar disorder though, like a coin, has two sides. I've opened myself up a little on here to situational depressive episodes before, but sometimes depression just happens. Sometimes it's just a day, sometimes it's prolonged.

I thought about writing this as I washed my dishes. If you want to know about my depression, you need only look in my sink. Doing dishes is something I dislike anyway, but I get annoyed enough at not having bowls and forks and end up doing them. When I get depressed, I end up with what I just dug out and washed: a mixing bowl from February. I've been working on the sink full for a while, chipping away here and there, but that bowl had to go. It was the primary reason stuff kept piling up. Now, you're probably still stuck on "February" since this is the end of August. I won't lie, it smelled terrible, there was bacteria build up (my whole sink is gross) and I scrubbed and rinsed it twice.

There it is, perched on top
The thing with having a debilitating mental illness is you just stop caring about stuff like dishes. When you can barely muster the energy to eat, washing a dish isn't a priority. Most people would think that the smell and the health hazard present in the bacteria would be a motivator, but it really isn't. If you've ever watched the show Hoarders (it's available for streaming on Netflix) the common theme is that the hoarders get used to the smell, or just don't notice it. You just get used to it. Yes, you catch the occasional whiff, but when you don't care much about anything, you shrug it off.

The hardest part is when the depression starts to lift, and you realize the neglect. Part of my action plan that my therapist and I worked out back when I was still in therapy (the cost is prohibitive when you have no insurance and a very fixed income) was tackling mundane chores, ie; the dishes. As an individual with bipolar disorder, it's very easy to give in to frustration and get overwhelmed, which can send you back on a downward spiral. That's why I am just now getting to a mixing bowl from February. I've been chiseling away, setting small goals: this set on of dishes on this side, the silverware in this cup, these glasses, these bowls. It's slow going, but it keeps me level. I still have a lot to go, because there's still the pots and pans, but that mixing bowl, that was my Goliath.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Your Fandom isn't My Fandom and That's Okay

Geeks are geeks but they're not all knit from the same cloth. What used to be niche hobbies that required hours of investment and digging through comic book store boxes or record store shelves are now easily accessible and commonplace due to the Internet. Being labeled  a geek is no longer crushing social stigma but now almost passe as even prime time TV embraces geek culture. But that's a problem, sometimes, because the non-geek try to paint us all with the same brush, and then it gets ugly.

I am a Star Trek fan. I'm not a hardcore Trekkie like some people are (some would stop me dead right there and correct me that the term is Trekker but I really don't care. I'm from Maine and that ending R is just too hard for me to manage) but I've seen every episode of Star Trek Voyager, most in their original run (yay college) and a ton of Next Generation in reruns (they're both available for streaming on Netflix, happily). During my summers home from college I used to watch the original series on SciFi before they dumbed down their name to appeal to a broader audience. Star Trek IV is one of my all-time cheer-me-up movies. I... never bothered with DS9. And we'll pretend Enterprise never happened. But slip up and call it Star Wars? Fuck you. Fuck that shit. I hate Star Wars. Ugly-ass shallow story about good vs evil with an annoying backwards-talking gremlin.

She'd beat Darth Vader and all the Jedi too, those pussies, all without mussing her hair.

I'm also an anime fan. And even within the anime fandom, you get vast differences. Some people like mech, some like yaoi/shounen ai (man-on-man romance), some like shoujo (magical girl) and some like straight up hentai (porn). Now, there are merits to the different genres, and I've watched them all (except the really dark gory genre I can't remember the name of but has a surprising amount of fan art). There was a time where I was absorbing as much shounen ai as possible because, well, I'm pervy like that. But art means a lot and I won't watch anything ugly, no matter how good the story. My friends in college loved Cowboy Beebop and I just couldn't watch it. The art was ugly. I'm not a huge fan of mech, but when you combine good art and good story like in Evangelion, you have me huddled in front of a computer for 48 hours straight watching the whole thing (including 2 movies) on bootleg disks, completely mindfucked at the end. I won't deny people their tentacle porn or bloody  cut up... stuff, it's just not my fandom.

Hellsing, on the other hand, is 100% my style

There are some fandoms I just don't get. Like Dr. Who. I have a bunch of friends who are positively ecstatic about it but I just don't get the big deal. Maybe it's because I tried to watch one of the really old episodes and I thought "this is just stupid and ridiculous" but it never caught on. Same with Monty Python, and here is where I usually get crucified by geek-kind. I hated Monty Python and the Holy Grail. God I thought it was the most awful, boring thing ever that about halfway through it I turned my attention to a flame war with another person in a forum about betta care. Yes. A flame war about fish care as opposed to watching that movie. Maybe I don't like British comedy that much, except for Absolutely Fabulous, which is amazing, because alcoholism.

I'm a casual gamer, very casual comic book reader, owner of a huge collection of fantasy novels. I watch professional wrestling. I have friends that are Dr Who fans, Star Wars fans, Lord of the Rings obsessors, Gundam fans and Yugi-Oh players. Sure, we may get into little spats over fandom, but overall I've found (and there are always exceptions) when you're an outcast member of society, despite differences, when like calls to like, you still can play nice. But still. Fuck Star Wars.

But Spaceballs is always  okay in my book

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cell Phone Tech GO!

In my ever-arching quest to find gainful employment before my unemployment runs out, I have done something I have put off, rationalized not doing for as long as I have been unemployed. I have flirted with it, looked hesitantly into the eyes of what I felt was surely the most evil of evils. But the night before last, I did it. I put in an application in the telecommunications field. After 6 years of working with cell phones, I really didn't want to go back. I don't have problems with the phones themselves-- they're innocent pieces of machinery left to the brutal hands of their owners. No, it was the customers, the numbers, the sheer amount of soul-sucking that happened that turned me off from ever working in telecommunications ever again. But here we are, and I have applied to be a service tech. Technician, blissfully not billing, not sales.

I was so excited I took a picture with the old Blackberry of the new Blackberry
Now, I love cell phones. I love the technology, and the fact that, in the 6 years that I worked for the pink company I watched the Motorola RAZR go from the most high-tech phone out there to the advent and evolution of Android. I used to know Blackberry inside and out (8xxx series though. We won't discuss those bricks with the clickwheel). In fact, I was so avidly in love with Blackberry that at one point I vowed that nothing could sway me from them, ever. My 8900 was my constant companion, the best Blackberry RIM had to offer at the time and I felt awesome with it in my hand. If someone had a Blackberry I could confidently answer their questions with ease. If a friend had one that wasn't working, I'd snick it from their hand and with a few clicks have it working again. Now, my vow to be faithful to Blackberry didn't hold true:  they consistently kept releasing low-end devices for the casual user that didn't hold a candle to my more advanced device, and by the time the Bold came out, I had already spied and fallen madly in lust with the Samsung Vibrant, the flagship of the Galaxy S series (I currently carry the Galaxy S II).

It always baffled me though, that, when people found out where I worked that they would come up to me with any old phone from anywhere and ask me to fix it for them. First off, I wasn't working, and I didn't see them paying me $13 an hour to fix their phone. Second, and most important, not all phones are the same, even when they look it cosmetically. When mobile carriers work with the phone manufacturers, they have their own software installed. Sometimes even menus are different.  And don't even get me started on European and Asian phones. Although I have to say it go to the point that I could almost program a Chinese iPhone clone in my sleep... Anyway, there were times that I simply couldn't figure out a person's phone and would have to tell them (sometimes repeatedly) "you need to call your carrier."

If this job comes through, it will be a whole new ballgame for me. I'll be troubleshooting phones in person, no longer safe behind the anonymity of a headset and computer. I won't be able to spin in a chair boredly or put on my makeup or file my nails or clean my desk while I wait for my customer to find the power button (hint: it's the red one). The good of it is I will have the phone in my hand, that satisfying "gimme that!" (note: I won't say this) to freely key or touch through the phone to fix the problem expediently, something I never had in a call center. Time to start practicing my poker face.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Ridiculousness of Job Applications

So it's 3:39am and I just finished filling out a job application for an assistant general manager position at Ruby Tuesday. It took me probably a good 30 minutes to fill out. Earlier tonight, I filled out an application for a cashier position at my local JC Penney and as I finished the "assessment" the computer screen told me I didn't answer the questions correctly and if I'd still like to apply I could do so in 180 days. So, I took a bullshit personality assessment and because I didn't answer like a chipper cheerleader on E, no human being will see my application. But the Ruby's application took the fucking cake. They made me take the SATs. I'm not shitting you. I had to do geometry, those stupid word questions (shit is to poo like pee is to urine) and some mathematical pattern... things. After a while, because I suck at math, I started guessing.

What is this shit?

Employers, what the hell is going on? I have a college degree! I took the standardized exams! I did hours of study! A job application should not have all these senseless tests. The personality tests get me the most, though. You want to know my personality? Interview me. Don't have me do some bullshit personality assessment that tells me to "be honest" (ie; lie) and then fails me and denies me a job for being honest. This job market sucks. I want to work for you. I don't smoke so I won't take breaks constantly. I will work hard. I might not smile all the time but I get shit done and once I get comfortable I will milk you for all the motherfucking overtime I can get, worthless bastards.

It's times like this that I just get so frustrated and stop even trying to look.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Family that Reads Together

As long as I can remember, I've had a book in my hand. Some of my earliest and happiest book memories were my Little Golden Books, namely the Pokey Little Puppy. I've already mentioned in a previous blog post that I'm devoting my summer to reading as much as possible. You know who else is doing that? My 12 year-old niece, Rachel, who had a goal of 50 books for the summer. I'm not sure where her progress is but I know she read The Hunger Games sixteen times. But I'll get to her more in a bit. To the right you can see some basic stats from my Goodreads page. That is not an accurate number of books I've read; I am not in possession of all of my books right now and some of the books I've read in college and --gasp-- sold back I simply do not remember. The folly of taking three lit courses in one semester is that you don't really finish a book, anyway. Most of those books listed as "read" are also marked as owned. I own and cherish and covet my books, treating them with the respect that the printed page once garnered. I get upset if a page gets bent, if there is a crease in the spine. Some people might find this to be anal-retentive and overly-OCD, but I learned this respect for books and reading from my mother. You see, as far as I can remember, I had a book in my hand, and so did she. I grew up in a reading house hold.

I was always an above-average reader, and while I read the age-appropriate stuff for school (I did love the Black Stallion and Sweet Valley Twins/High books) at an early age I started picking up my Mom's Stephen King, John Saul, Dean Koontz. Some people questioned me reading these things, these masters of horror at so young an age but Mom wasn't worried. She knew that I understood what I was reading and could handle it. When I got into junior high and started babysitting my oldest niece Vikki after school, I would read her mother's romance novels, sneaking chapters like they were forbidden things; after all,  romance novels had sex in them. My friends and I used to sneak their mother's romance novels and open them to the creased spines just to read those scenes. Ah, misspent youth! In my adulthood, I have actually developed an appreciation for good romance novels (not thatFifty Shades crap so don't even go there).

I was having a casual conversation on Facebook with  friend and fellow blogger Ben, despairing over the fact that people just don't read these days. And it brought to mind a conversation I had with Veronica, author of reading blog Don't Panic! that kids aren't reading, even in school. I will absolutely not blame teachers here, because I feel that some things really do start at home. My Mom's a reader. I'm a reader, and so is my oldest brother David. My sister Tracy is a reader, and she and I share the odd trait of reading more in the summer, although I think she uses it as a way to get her daycare kids out of the house and to get a tan at the same time. By virtue, I think, of my sister's influence, my niece Rachel is an avid reader. She devours books like I used to at her age. So much so, in fact, that my sister invested in a Nook for Christmas for her. My nephew Danny reads, but not as avidly as Rachel. Recently, Tracy, Rachel and I went to our parent's camp and the whole car ride up and for the duration of the stay, Rachel was either reading on her Nook or her iPod. I couldn't help but be reminded of myself at that age and be really proud, and really happy that she loves reading.

It is vitally important that parents set an example for their kids. By the time they get to school, sometimes it's too late. Now, they may get lucky and get that really awesome teacher that is so passionate that inspires them to read and love reading, but that can sadly be rare as teachers become disillusioned and badgered by administration and entitled students and parents. I really can't express in words how I feel when I touch a book, smell a book, flip through the pages to see how many more I have to go. If I could bottle and sell that feeling just to get kids to read and love reading, I would. To me, there is no greater thing.

Well, okay. Sex is pretty awesome. And food. But I'll always have books.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Table for One

Recently I was lamenting on Facebook about wanting to go out to dinner but not having anyone to go with. Sure, I can go by myself, I'm a big girl, but who wants to dine alone? I certainly don't enjoy it, fiddling with my phone while I avoid eye contact with the other patrons. I went to Applebee's once, during the holiday season because I wanted a cosmopolitan and a steak. I also needed a gift card. I walked in and waited forever for the hostess. When she did approach, she said "can I help you?" Not, "just one?" or "are there more in your party?" but "can I help you?" That's... not an appropriate question for a seating hostess to ask. That's a retail clerk question. So I slowly raised my eyebrows and said "table for one?" to which I was shown to a booth near the bar and had a very sweet waitress who fussed over the appearance of my drink and made sure I was taken care of.

The movies are another example of places I don't want to go alone. I haven't seen the latest installment in the Batman franchise because my "group" decided to have a guys night, thus excluding me, and I won't go alone. I've gone to the movies alone once, an afternoon matinee to see Coraline, and I had the entire theatre to myself.

I can text during the movie!

So it occurred to me tonight, as I drove around the local towns with my music and my peanut butter milk shake, lamenting the fact that I'll miss out on the fairs this year because I don't have anyone to go with: humans are herd animals. Descriptions of people as "sheeple" is kind of apt. Women can't even go to the bathroom without 5 of their closest friends, which is especially true at weddings (seriously, why are wedding dresses so heavy? Don't they realize brides need to pee and that the maid of honor really doesn't need to witness it?). We take our buddies places for moral support. Teachers force group activities on students (even the loaners that hate it because the aggressive students take credit for the work). We are one big lowing herd of human cattle.

This realization still doesn't ease my mind of the fact that I don't get to go to the fair.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Embracing Food

I've been kind of sitting on this post all day. Usually I don't care what I say, but I do have friends with varying diets and so I want to preface this that I'm not picking on anyone in particular, but I have to vent a little.

More beautiful farmer's market finds, including my weakness, beets.
I don't get the sanctimonious attitude some vegetarians and vegans (more so, it seems, with vegans) get about other people eating meat. I don't get up in their faces saying "hey, vegan, eat some meat! Why don't you eat this succulent meat?!" No. I accept that it means more meat for me and for the close friends, I just make sure that, if they're starting out exploring a vegan diet they know where to get protein (being poor, I investigate various protein sources). I understand some people go vegan or vegetarian for health reasons, some for ethical reasons. I sure as hell am very conscious of what happens in the meat industry and, while I would love to buy the humanely-raised, grass-fed beef from the farmer's market, it's really, really expensive. Prohibitively so, for someone in my situation, with no job, so I buy stuff from the grocery store that likely came from a Midwest feedlot, as much as I hate it. If I could afford it and had the freezer space, I'd buy a side of beef from a local farmer. It just tastes better. In the mean time, I'll source my veggies from them.

Mussels are incredibly cheap right now
I eat meat. I eat seafood. And with the extremely low seafood prices this summer and the high yield harvest, I am going to eat it. And finding that pork is dipping in price lately, I've been buying more of that lately, although pork has never been my favorite. As I struggle to find a job, if I'm given meat, especially with the coming Autumn and hunting season, I'm certainly not going to turn it down. I'm an omnivore, as Nature made me, and I'm going to eat what's available. It's not in my budget to be finicky. And as for growing food, I only have tomatoes, and they've got a fucking case of blight. At least hornworms can be dealt with. Otherwise, vegetables are pretty expensive, especially with the droughts going on across the country.

So, in summation, don't jump my shit because I like meat. I won't jump yours for not eating it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

You're Just Showing Off!

All too often I hear from people or read comments on line that people with tattoos are just doing it for the shock factor, to show off, to get attention. Let's never mind that I got my first tattoo in a place where I'd need to be completely topless for you to see the whole thing. But my arm? I am totally showing that shit off. There's a certain sense of pride in working with a really good artist, investing the time and money on a custom piece, that it would be a little silly not to want to show it off. I didn't get my tattoos for anyone but me, but I appreciate each and every compliment I get, and since I've gotten the shading completed and it's tank top weather, I've gotten quite a few. I make sure I thank the person who compliments my tattoo, and when they ask where I got it, I sure as hell give Bella props. She did an awesome job.

One more session to go for color before we start adding more to make it a sleeve

But the whole "you're just doing it for attention" thing has always bugged me. I remember in high school there was a kid in my French class who was a year ahead of me. One day he showed up with green hair. Mind you, this was 1996, at the height of the grunge era and he was already rocking flannels. Green hair should have been a nonissue. My drugged-out old harridan of a French teacher (anyone who went to high school with me knows exactly what I'm talking about, even if they were fortunate enough to have the other French teacher) made him leave class and then went on a rant about how he was just looking for attention. In ranting like this, she was doing just that. We, in the mean time, sat there learning nothing (as usual, she didn't use immersion methods) and thinking the whole thing was just stupid. His hair was cool, it fit his personality because he was kind of a crazy guy.

Thankfully, when I put blue streaks in my hair in college, I didn't get that crap, but I did get a lot of my smartass customers at my job thinking they were funny saying "did  you know your hair is blue?" One or two may have accused me of trying to get attention, but it simply wasn't the case. I wanted blue hair. Blue and brown look awesome together. End of story.

My point is, don't assume someone with a face full of piercings, tattoos on their neck or hands or other highly visible places, or weird colored hair or hair cuts are looking for attention. They don't need it. They have confidence. If you're looking for the ones who are looking for attention, look at the girls who get "slut" and "cum guzzler" tattooed on visible parts of their body. Those sad individuals are crying for attention because clearly, no one gave them any when they were little-- either that, or the wrong kind.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why I Like Pro Wrestling

Summerslam is this weekend, not that I'll get to see it, but I thought I'd answer a question that I get on occasion: you actually like  that fake shit? Why? I know it might seem odd that an educated, intelligent woman would like something that has never ever pretended to be real fighting and sometimes has a penchant for the over-dramatic, but there are a few reasons that it still appeals to me.

All the reasons. cough...

Okay, so there's a certain beefcake element. I will put that right up front and stop dancing around the "I don't objectify people" bush. If I could have Randy Orton all to myself to molest, I would. And while I don't like a mesomorphic body type, in my lonely state, even some of the more muscular wrestlers give me a little fantasy time where I can pretend I'm not lonely and have something to ogle at safely.

Then there's the drama of it all. Part of the entertainment aspect of professional wrestling is the writing, the story line. One of the best story lines the WWE has had in a long time was the love quadrangle-turned-triangle with the now Raw General Manager AJ Lee. It got be hooked back in when I was starting to get tired of wrestling, but I tuned in every week to see what crazy antics AJ would be up to, and now that she's the GM, I want to see what matches she's going to create. Watching big burly men beat the shit out of each other-- unh--  is fine and all, but sometimes you need a little palate cleanser, so why not make those matches mean something, you know?

I think another big thing that helps me enjoy pro wrestling for what it is is understanding that it's fake, and what makes it fake. You see, I used to have a friend who wrestled for Fox Fights (Jade, and it's a sign of how badly our friendship ended that, when I saw the stills for her last video I saw how chubby she had gotten, I laughed) who taught me a lot about pro wrestling. She used to demonstrate "posting" moves, which is one wrestler supporting the other in a big lift or throw, for safety. When you know what to look for,  you can spot it all the time. There are times when I think it looks too obvious. She also taught me about oil, and it's here that I would put an example picture of David Otunga from WWE, but Google seems to only want to show me pictures of his wife, Jennifer Hudson. There was a point that he was too oiled up, and someone must have heard me yelling at the TV, because he dialed way back. Too much oil can actually hurt the other wrestler because they can't get a grip.  hing

Some things can't be faked, like being hit with a folding chair. Watching Triple H beat the Undertaker repeatedly over the back with a chair in the End of an Era Hell in a Cell match at Wrestlemania had me clenched with anticipation. It was such a brutal match, and seeing the Undertaker, a wrestler that debuted when I was 12, wrestle in probably his final real match ever, was emotional. I'm not ashamed to say I cried when he, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels hugged at the end.


So I watch, every week, twice a week, enjoying wrestling for what it is. I understand it's fake. I get wrapped up in the drama, I ogle, I follow wrestlers on Twitter and Facebook. I yell at the TV. Come September, I'm going to a live event with a friend. And let's not forget in the end, that, while it may be fake, all the good that these wrestlers do with their celebrity.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The RIGHT Way to Eat a Lobster

With the price of lobster plummeting per pound, bringing it below the price per pound of hot dogs and bologna, it is becoming more and more the food of the poor like it used to be and less a food of luxury. But can we talk about how much meat people waste by eating it incorrectly? This is for all you wasteful fucks that only eat the tail: a true Mainer's guide to eating a lobster.

Step 1: Have yourself a steamed lobster
This was lobster #2 of the feast

Steamed is always better, in my opinion. When you boil them, they get waterlogged and then you just get a flood of scalding water when you open up the bug. Anyway, the lobster will always be sitting pretty on the plate like that. Flip it on it's back. Burn your fingers in the process and swear a lot. Insult its parentage.  Rip off all the little legs, continuing to burn your fingers. Attempt to suck the meat out. Fail. Dig it out with a bamboo skewer. Because I'm a masochist meticulous, I go joint by joint.

By this time, the claws are ready to be pulled off. Poke the meat out of the joints and suffer many puncture wounds from the spines. Remove the rubber bands from the claws and watch them go flying across the room or smack your dining partner in the face. If it's a hardshell lobster, you'll need to employ nut crackers and every muscle in your body to break through the claw meat. If it's a softshell (my preference) you can easily rip the shell open and remove the meat.

2. Pretend you're a pro wrestler performing a back-breaker and break that sucker in half

DO THIS STEP OVER A PLATE OR BOWL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. With a bend back and twist, separate the tail from the carapace. Water and tomalley will  come out. Tomalley is the green stuff that some people consider a delicacy and I consider gross. It's how you're raised. Due to the high mercury levels in the ocean... yeesh. I just wouldn't recommend it. Some lobsters will have orange roe. I discard those too. Set the carapace aside but do not throw it away so help you god I will stab you with a fork if I see that in the discard pile.

Take hold of the flippers on the end of the tail and bend them back-- they will snap off easily. Again, set them aside. And then, slipping your finger in the opening that the flippers made (this is almost obscene, if you have as dirty a mind as I do) push the tail meat out. Conveniently, there is a flap of meat that covers what is colloquially called the "vein" which is actually the intestine; pull this meat back and toss it in your butter, then pull the "vein" out to discard. Nom on the meat as you go or save it all for the end like me, I don't care. Moving on to those tail flippers: there is meat in there. As you can see in the above picture, there are two fins jointed together, a broad, individual fin, and then two more fins jointed together. If you gently pry apart the joints, there is a nice little lump of meat, and a paper-thin bit of meat from the flipper. Yum!

3. There is a TON of meat in the carapace

Whenever anyone throws away a carapace in my presence, I grab it. It's worth the work because there is a ton of beautiful lump meat in there.

Cthulhu shall avenge meeeeee
Peel the outer carapace off and you have the interior cartilage (see above image) which, if you can split it perfectly in half (most of the time I can't) is ridiculously easy to pick. Each hollow corresponds with a leg, pretty much, and it takes some work getting your finger in to push the meat out so you get chunks and not flakes. These are tasty bits. Just be careful not to go up to the mouth parts and brain area (lobsters don't have brains, they have... ganglia I think?) because those aren't good eats. Neither are the lungs. Those are gross.

Once I'm done with a lobster there's not a scrap of meat or a stick of butter left. I get very "in the zone" when picking bodies. Kind of like picking a chicken.

Oh yeah, and before you start your feast, make sure you have a roll of paper towels on the table, because even with steamed lobster, you're going to have juice everywhere. Places you don't even want to discuss. And as delicious as it tastes, it doesn't smell the greatest, so lemons and rubbing your hands on stainless steel will help prevent you from smelling like a fishwife for a week. Enjoy your lobster dinner!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Being Feminist

When I went off to college in 1998, I entered a whirlwind of political and social causes. Everyone had a stance on everything, and there was a club, organization, or leaflet for it. If there wasn't, something would invariably spring up. At a liberal college with a very high population of gay students, feminism was a hot topic. My roommate was a feminist and I, in my idea that being a feminist meant being a hardcore femmnazi bulldyke that was constantly in your face about lesbians and liberating the vagina, did everything possible to be misogynistic. Sure, it was a dick move, but I was rebelling, man. I was also struggling really, really hard to figure out just who the hell I was. I didn't have a damn clue about anything. Let's fast forward...

Image from this blog
One thing I was always certain of, and I have written about before, is that I am childfree. I do not want, now or ever, any children. I love my birth control and my easy access to it. I like my reproductive rights. Guess what? That makes me a feminist. I found a great graphic that said "my body was not made for your legislation" and I can't agree more. I can not remember a time in my 32 year lifespan that reproductive rights have been so hotly contested, that I have actually feared the outcome of an election because of the loss of those rights.

Feminism isn't just about reproductive rights though. It's about recognizing the struggles of all peoples, even men. It's about stopping genital mutilation, ending hunger, providing vaccines and antibiotics to 3rd world countries. It's about fighting for a fair living wage. It's about stopping the  goddamned fat shaming and slut shaming and teaching girls to love and respect their bodies no matter how they look.

Looking back on college me, I really was a feminist. I wasn't rallying, no, I wasn't fighting "the man" because men aren't the enemy. But that one cry for my reproductive rights started it. And now I am so much more aware (thanks to the Internet) of what it means to be a feminist, that I've lost the stigma I once held for the word. I may not be an activist, not yet, but I hold my beliefs, and I hold my ground.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Open and Very Candid Letter to Employers

Tonight I dashed off a cover letter and emailed it, with my resume, to what could be my dream job: a library aide position. Now, it's a part time position, but the pay is very, very good, even at the bottom of the pay scale. I'm terrified, though, that I won't even get an acknowledgement, much less a call for an interview, and that my resume will be lost in the pile of applicants deemed unworthy.

Dear employers, I beseech you. My resume doesn't look impressive. I've only been working since I was 21, and that's only three jobs. And yes, you're going to look at the most recent job and see six years of telecommunications call center work and automatically think "sales" when in all actuality, my resume lists billing and technical support first, then "transitioned to sales" several bullet points down. It's a bare outline of the basic functions of the job I performed, but not the experiences I gained, the confidence, the people I encountered. It doesn't show you how it shaped me as a person or a leader. You wouldn't know those details unless you interviewed me. If you interviewed me, I would tell you that I gained the confidence of my supervisors quickly and earned the privilege to be off the phones in a support role, that I handled escalated callers and learned to problem-solve on the fly, that I motivated my team and shared best practices in order to help others succeed. I would tell you that I had a great attention to detail and was able to manage several tasks at once and give you examples of how I used to handle multiple customer accounts and orders at once. I would tell you that I am able to handle upset customers with poise and professionalism and compromise to make all parties happy. But you don't know that, unless you interview me.

You have the outline. Let me tell you the story.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Reclaiming

I walked to a clear cut I know, long abandoned but never replanted with hardwoods like they're supposed to do. It is a wound in an otherwise healthy deciduous forest.

I wondered why, since this had been here for at least a decade or more, the forest had not reclaimed this unassuming field. I remembered the old boat landing, how, once abandoned had been reclaimed quickly, and from one year to the next the road to the water had become impassable, even by foot. Now, when you go by it, unless you knew it was there to begin with, you would never know man had intruded on the forest.

I set out along the tracks of what may have been at one time a logging road, at times rocky and inhospitable to bare feet, at times mossy and cooling. I hear the szzt szzt of grasshoppers and the hop and fly away from my feet like a veritable biblical plague. Dry leafy wild strawberry vines were in abundance, their fruit long gone bye. Then I spotted the first signs of reclamation: tiny fir trees in their infancy, growing in the median.

I journeyed on. I had never been so deep in the clear cut, usually staying within sight of the road. There was a thrill of the unknown. Would I see a deer? A moose with calf? Even a black bear? And unfamiliar sound in the underbrush startled me and I realized I had been too silent, padding on bare feet. I coughed, talked to myself. Got thoroughly grossed out when I walked into multiple spider webs. The plants were getting thicker, lush with wild raspberries. I did not pick them; they were not for me, they were for the robins and juncos and thrushes and sparrows and jays.

The light was changing, that sort of green forest light. I sensed I was near to my goal. I had the prickle of sweat on my scalp; I was far enough in that the wind did not reach me. There it is! In front of me was the point of reclamation, where new forest was unfurling into the grasses, invasive and proud. The forest was healing from the inside out, like a deep puncture wound. I turned to leave. The wound did not need a lingering foreign presence.

Making my way out, I was careful to push the stems of goldenrod and other plants aside, careful not to crush the living. I wanted to make sure everything was exactly as I left it. Closer to the road I heard the detestable sound of a circular saw, cars driving too fast. I did a surreptitious check for ticks. I'm not so concerned with Lyme. I'll check on this healing wound, as time goes, but Nature has shown, she knows very well what she's doing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Night Swimming

There is something undeniably sensual about swimming at night; I'm not talking about swimming at twilight when there is still plenty of light and safety and sameness, no, I'm talking about swimming in a full-bore night when the world is blanketed in an inky blackness that devolves into interesting splotches of dark and light ink when you look into it without glasses. Tonight I walked out into the darkness, the loathsome spotlight guiding my way down the path. I didn't want it on but knew I needed some way to make my way down other than by feel. It's raining, and while I normally abhor the feeling of water falling on me the soft drops of rain feel nice against skin made sticky by humidity. The water is low and a slow mist hovers over deeper waters. Glasses off, I make my way over the gravel, into the warm shallows and deeper. The rocks don't feel right, and I suspect my parents of trying to dig them up again. That is treacherous for me, who has learned this lake, memorized its bottom by feel with sensitive soles. Sharp rocks that most people can't bear to walk on I learned to walk on. I stumble and fall in, annoyed; I don't like to be so disgraceful, I don't like to be loud.

The water is cool, too cold for most people but I can't stand to swim in warm lakes. The water slides up over my shoulders like caressing hands and I dip back to wet all of my hair, savoring that cool, refreshing sigh of water over my scalp that no shower could ever duplicate. I squint  distrustfully out into the mist, at the lights of the dam, before making my slow way back to the dock for the bottle of biodegradable shampoo. My mother has come out, and annoyed, I try and fall miserably to throw the bottle back.

I lean back and let the water take me, rinsing the suds. I can feel the sides of my slightly too small tankini start to ride up and the secret crows on my ribcage threaten escape. Water fills my ears and there is silence, just the gentle plashing of my feet, the silent raindrops on my face; their clouds obscure the stars. I look at my hair, long and dark, slithering and shining next to me like a mystery; in daylight swimming it looks like mermaid hair.

The rippling water as I paddle and kick gently feels good, almost like massaging fingers caressing me on their way by me to places unknown. I always marvel at the buoyancy as the water supports me, yet feeling that tremendous resistance as I move my arms and legs. I'm not a strong swimmer, by any means, but I don't fight the water.

The air is clean, so clean. I take in deep breaths but in the still air and out on the water I can't smell my beloved trees. The chill of the air and the chill of the water are enrobing me and I know it's time to get out of the water, to return to real life, artificial light, noise, people.
Tonight was sacred time. Tonight was worship in the holy temple of Nature. It has been far, far too long.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Summer of Childhood

I should be sleeping, as it will be all too soon that my sister is here to pick me up and off we will go to the camp where we spent our summers as kids, going on the weekends after Mom and Dad got out of work, and for a week when they took vacation in August. This weekend winds up my parent's week-long vacation, and my sister and I are again going to camp, this time with her daughter in tow, to enjoy the summers of our childhood.

We have the best seats in the house

I've been thinking a lot lately (unemployment gives me plenty of time to do that) and this summer has been, perhaps, the closest thing to a childhood summer for me, regardless of the fact that last summer was activity-filled. Summer to me is reading a mountain of books in the sultry heat, soft skin made slightly sticky with sweat and humidity. It's wearing tank tops and jean shorts and not putting on a pair of shoes unless you have to. It's constantly dirty feet. Summer is constantly wearing my hair in a ponytail because it's too damn hot to have long hair, and delighting in the feeling of my hair sweeping over bare arms and bare back. It's digging your toes in the dirt, in the grass, accidentally stepping on a slug with your bare feet and getting grass stuck to the bottoms. It's the itch and prickle of radish and turnip leaves, cucumber vines, the stink of tomato plants. It's stealing the green beans off the vines and eating them right there in the garden. Summer is heading outside at dusk when it's cooled off but the air is heavy with the fragrance of lilies, listening to the birds as they head to their nests at night; it's being up at dawn to listen to the wake with the sun.

And like tonight, it's heat lightning and thunder and finally a cool, refreshing, life-giving rain to fall on the sere, watering the garden, inviting the earthworms out of their homes. Summer is tipping up rocks to find worms for fishing, or more exciting, going out at night with flashlights to find nightcrawlers. Summer is going to camp. Slipping into the cool, soothing water of the lake when it's just too warm, laying on my back and watching the clouds and seeing the green blur of the trees through my myopic eyes.

I have felt so sublimely free this summer for being able to simply do the very basic and still enjoyable things I did as kid. I don't need water parks (I don't like the chlorination or the crowds) or beaches (overrated), I just want to run around in my bare feet, fingers sticky with found berries, and revel in the world around me... with a few dozen good books.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Cook Too Big

I  don't know how to cook small. Part of this is the way I was raised, there were four of us kids and two of those were teenage boys (granted, my brother Eric is picky as hell) but Mom had to make a lot of food, and even as everyone eventually moved out, she kept cooking too much food. By virtue of watching her, I learned that unless it was made in a soup pot or a really deep chicken fryer, it was too small.

We already know I've kind of gone into panic mode and am making huge batches of soup to put up in the freezer for my impending increased poverty. But in all honesty, this is the way I cook. Seriously. I can't conceptualize cooking for one. I just can't. Even when I try, it's still enough food for a day or two.

Or several months...

There is something undeniably comforting in my ability to cook good food in large quantities, though. It's not just soup, although honestly, I could eat soup forever. It's my favorite. Being able to make all this food means that, should one of my friends be in need and show up at my door, I can take care of them, comfort them and warm them if they're cold. Those who have come into my home and sat at my table know that if they leave hungry, it's their own fault. I've even pinched a person's collar bone and admonished them for being too thin and implored them to eat. But then again, we all know I have old-timey sensibilities. I use food and cooking as therapy, and I love to share it. Nothing makes me happier than to feed my friends. Lately, I have had no one to cook for but my freezer.

Wouldn't you want to cuddle up to this?

Hell, I even reward people who brave washing my month's worth of dishes with a meal. I mean, who would pass that up?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Sloth Spirit

A combination of being bipolar and having nothing to  give me a normal sleep pattern has me up until 4 or 5 most mornings, and sleeping until about 1 in the afternoon. I don't particularly like it, but until I can get a job to regulate that, it's pretty much my life. I get a lot of reading done. But sometimes I struggle to even fall asleep then, and that's when times get really bad.

Because of my medications, taking something to fall asleep is tricky, plus I  don't like depending on a sleep aid. I'm allergic to something in NyQuil, diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl) works okay but I always feel like I sleep too long, and Tylenol PM gives me the most fucked up dreams ever. Plus, there's research to be done before taking anything to ensure there are no interactions with the prescriptions I take. Oh, and I don't have a medicine cabinet, so I don't want any more pill bottles and boxes floating around than I already have.

On her back, under the covers, like people

Enter Calypso. The cat who will spoon with me and let me put my arm around her and cuddle her like a stuffed animal. I'm probably the only person who could do that, by the way; anyone else would find their faces bitten and clawed off. She's a little... touchy. In any case, Calypso  can, with almost scientific accuracy, come cuddling up to me on any given night (or afternoon, or any time she damn well pleases) and almost instantly I am asleep. It's just her, other cats can't do this. Sometimes Eden will condescend  to lay with me at night, under the blankets, and I'm all tense, not wanting to bother her, not relaxed or sleepy at all. But no, Calypso just flops down (yes, she flops) with an air of "you sleep now" and I am powerless to defend myself. If I'm waiting to go somewhere, sometimes I have to shoo her away.

I was almost asleep last night when Eden decided it was annoying rambunctious play run time and scared the shit out of both of us and Calypso went to sleep in her favorite box instead.  She seems to know, though, when I'm having trouble sleeping. But if I ever need my faithful furry Sloth Spirit, she almost always comes to my call (never always, let's please remember, she is still a cat).

Sometimes suffocation helps you sleep too, right? Right?

Actualization of the Negative

I was thinking today that since my diagnosis of bipolar, I have had a lot more clarity of who I am and have become a lot more accepting of that person. I knew who I was before, but I had to really understand it before I made sense of myself. I am comfortable with who I am, flaws and all.

I suspect people find me off-putting because I'm very negative. I always have been. Ever the pessimist, I look at the negative in everything.  Life has hardened me and made me bitter and perhaps made my world view a bit more negative. I use the word hate a lot. And yes, I do truly hate. I'm not  going to be one of those hippy-dippy people who think that to be truly happy you have to let go of all negative emotions; negative emotions, along with the positive, make us a balanced person. I think embracing the negative emotions makes a person more honest. I know I've felt like a more honest person when I let go and just felt.

I am a lusty person. I have been a sexual person for a long time despite my late entry into non-virginhood. As we know, I took hold of my sexuality and ran with it. Sure, seducing married and otherwise taken men wasn't the nicest thing in the world to do, but it was fun. And I have had fun with my sexuality since then. I've been accused of being a cock tease. I cheat at bowling by wearing low-cut shirts strategically on nights that we bowl certain teams. I tease and I taunt and I get what I want. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I won't get into a lecture about slut shaming, but I am of the thought that a woman should be able to express her sexuality without reproach, and be proud of her womanhood.

I swear I have one of these possessing me right now

And I am vengeful. Oh boy do I hold a grudge. I will gather every scrap of information on someone who has insulted me, or done me wrong all to destroy them. I'll go to lengths to get this information, including creating fake Facebook accounts. Isn't the old adage "Know thine enemy?" I don't want to just hurt the people who hurt me, I want them destroyed. Sometimes the only comfort I have when I'm in a rage is to embrace the overwhelming need to seek vengeance. Over the years I've become really good at information gathering. I used to gather dirt for my friends. It's... kind of fun, actually.

I know I'm only focusing on negative things, but that's because this is what's been on my mind. I do have happy emotions, but people are all to easy to accept those; it's far more difficult to look at the negative and say "this is me, and it's okay." Once you stop living to other people's expectations of how you should be and live how you are, it's kind of liberating.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Old Magics

I'm not religious, in that I worship a deity and carry around the labels of dogma. I used to loosely identify myself as Catholic, when I was a kid and didn't know any better. Then when my dog died when I was fifteen, I was angry and hurt that nowhere in Christendom did Heaven allow dogs, because according to the Bible, animals didn't have souls. I turned, as many teen girls do, to Wicca, which in and of itself is a rather teenage religion, only being about 60 or 70 years old (not the "Olde Religion" as those teen girls would have you think). At about 23 or so I did a spiritual reevaluation and realized that an amalgam of a religion in it's infancy populated by hippies and teenage girls trying to rebel wasn't for me. My path was more spiritual, and I realized my animal guide: crows and ravens.

Lately I've been craving the forest again. I want to raise up the old magic. See, my spirituality is a lot more basic these days: all that is, lives, all the lives has a spirit, animals can communicate with you if you just listen. I believe in the power of the earth and the air, the unerring and most base power of sex. So I'm feeling potent. I want to find a forest, I want to shuck my clothes and run, and worship. I want to be the witch of the woods and create nature magic.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Reading

People always try to give you advice when you're down, and it's not always wanted. I remember my now-former friend and current tenant of my ex, John, telling me I should volunteer in my unemployment. I don't volunteer, I'm not that altruistic or kind. I'd end up becoming even more resentful and bitter that I'm doing something-- working-- for no money at all. No, unless it's something I really, truly believe in, I'm not doing it for free.

I decided, then, that I was going to make the most out of my unemployed time by reading as much as possible. When I was younger and had free time like this, I used to go through about 4 books a week, sometimes in a weekend, depending on the books and my mood. So far I've read the entire Hunger Games Series, the entire Twilight saga (very, very large books, each of them, except the novella) and various other novels. I always have a few pieces of nonfiction hanging around as palate-cleansers between books, and I've been working on a collection of the Marquis de Sade's short stories. Right now I'm reading a romance novel by Kresley Cole (she's actually really, really good. No bodice ripping, and actual, developed characters). Here's the rest of my summer reading (assuming I don't go to the book store again):

you can click the picture to make it bigger

So. Icelandic sagas, Heaney's translation of Beowulf (although I might shelve it until I track down my copy of Raffel's translation; I had wanted to read them side-by-side for comparison) and an academic work by Tolkien. And amongst things I'd like to study on a graduate level are Anne Rice, Mercedes Lackey, an early African-American novel, Afghani non-fiction, and a classic. I do enjoy a little variety. That pile of books (especially all of the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian literature) makes me really excited; these are new friends waiting to be introduced, held, embraced, loved. I can't wait.

If you're curious and want an incomplete list of everything I've read and some things I want to read, here's my goodreads profile. I try to keep it up to date. I am obsessed with cataloguing my own books.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

That Old Timey Feeling

I've often been accused of being a little bit too old-timey for my own good. One time, standing at the water cooler and coffee machines at work, a coworker said "it's definitely going to snow tonight!" I shook my head and shot him down with, "it's too cold to snow." He rolled his eyes and said "you sound like my grandmother." Fast forward to last year or so, the John era. He would watch me cook, or listen to certain things I'd say, and every other comment would be "you sound like Oma." (Oma, for those of you that don't know, is the German word for grandmother). He eventually took to calling me Kleine Oma or, in English "little grandmother" because I was so like his Oma it was kind of ridiculous.

I was vintage before vintage was a thing

I guess I just have this kind of old-fashioned, old world sensibility. I eschew mixers when making cakes and banana bread and stuff and mix by hand because I prefer to have that connection with my food. Take away my wooden spoons and you've damn near crippled me. I don't make things to freeze, I make things to "put up" and it's not shortening when it's melted, it's fat. I save my bacon fat in a container in the fridge.

It's not just cooking, either. You show me a tree and I can tell you if it's going to rain or not by the way the leaves are hanging. Give me a lake and I can tell you the same thing by looking at the water. And I'm sure there's a whole bunch of things that I can't think of at this immediate moment, but will pop out of my mouth when the time serves.