Of clashing personalities and brief safety in sketchy locales

Good morning all. I hope all my American friends had a nice day off yesterday.

Yesterday wrapped up DragonCon. I’ve heard that it’s either the second largest comic book / fantasy / general all around nerd convention followed by ComicCon or third with New York’s convention taking second place. Either way, 65,000 people descend upon downtown Atlanta for 3 days for all things nerd. This is in addition to those who descend upon us for the Chick-fil-a SEC kickoff game. What a combination. It’s the only time of year where one can safely walk around downtown without being armed. But I digress…

What struck me this year was how the exact same set of circumstances could change so drastically with different personalities involved. Last year I had a great time. My room leads were fantastic and I got along with pretty much everyone who worked in the room. Four of us worked the entire convention in there. This year…not so much. The room leads didn’t work at all this year. As such, we had a new lead. She’d only worked smaller ballrooms before and had no co-lead, so she was in a bit over her head. The sound girl, who I worked with last year, stepped way out of line several times. She even yelled at a guest and the room lead. To put things in perspective, the room lead is the voice of God in that ballroom. One does not yell at the room lead. The room lead wasn’t confident enough to put the sound girl back in her place. The room lead also left several times to see other panels, leaving us with no leadership. I was scheduled in that room for the entire 3.5 days. After two 10 hour days in there, I requested a schedule change. Between a bunch of guests and panels I didn’t care about and the sound girl’s megalomania, I removed myself from the situation. It was better for everyone that way. Overall, I wasn’t happy with my experience. The volunteer coordinators send out a survey each year and that will give me the opportunity to point out the issues with both the sound girl and the room lead. For next year, I’m seriously considering if I want to simply buy a ticket and spend the weekend as a spectator rather than risk being stuck with people I may not get along with for 3 days. I have 364 days to decide. Let’s try not to put the cart before the horse.

On the positive side, I bought some new books. I love ink and paper. Boy also bought some new games for us to try. We played two of them last night. It’s always nice to have new games. One of the vendors had a stuffed Cthulhu. I would have gotten him, but he was a wee bit pricey. Perhaps next time. I’m taking today off to recover, then back to my regular routine tomorrow. I’ll be glad to get back to work. I can only handle a certain amount of time off before I get fidgety. There’s a lot to be said for routine. It also helps me remember what day of the week it is. *checks calendar* 

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Family

I got the idea for this post in my travels over the past month.

I have one biological sibling, a sister, who is 4 years younger than I am. I have many more surrogate siblings, aunts, uncles, and even parents. Two weeks ago, I was visiting my best friend of 25 years for her daughter’s birthday. She considers me family and I consider her to be the same. I refer to her daughter as my niece even though we don’t (as far as I know) share a lick of DNA. It leads to a lot of confusion for those who don’t know know anything beyond the surface. I get a lot of “I didn’t know your sister had kids” or “Wait, is your sister even married?”. I visited both within the past 2 weeks. My sister up and moved to Minneapolis a little over 3 years ago. I’ve seen her in the flesh twice since then before this past weekend. We went to the Minnesota State Fair (I’ll be detoxing from fried food for days. Oy.), spent time with some of her co-workers, and took the culinary tour of her part of town. The older we get, the more similar we’ve become. We’ve passed the point where the age difference includes large developmental differences. There were several times we said the exact same thing at the exact same time to both our great amusements. I rarely get to see either of them in person and it was nice to get to see both in a short period.

Historically, the term “family” would include slaves or servants in the household in addition to parents, children, and any other blood relatives living in the house. Without getting into the politics of slavery or servitude, the term “family” serves as a relatively simple way to identify a household. It was also used to track inheritance of titles, lands, and other rights that may be conferred upon the death of a matriarch or patriarch. In my mind, families are fluid. You can create your own family in the traditional sense through getting married and / or having children. You can also put together a group of people you love and care for, regardless of origin. You can choose to leave out relatives you don’t get along with or flat out don’t like when describing your family. I know plenty of people, myself included, who leave out certain members of the family tree for any number of reasons. You can add members who aren’t immediate relatives.

Whoever they are, whatever their origins, take good care of your family. Don’t bother yourself with strange looks from others. Who you choose to call family is none of their business. That’s up to you and your family.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Blood doesn’t always run thicker than water 

Of holding hands and making plans

This post all but bent my brain backwards. It was an absolutely fascinating read. It’s written by a gay, devout Mormon who is married to a woman. More than rethinking a traditional marriage, it made me rethink what it means to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Are you gay if, post puberty, you hold hands with someone of the same sex and they *aren’t* in danger of falling off a cliff? Are you gay if you, also post puberty, sleep in a bed with the someone of the same sex? Or are you gay simply because you’re sexually attracted to someone with the same equipment between their legs? If the first two are true, then slap my ass and call me a big ol’ lesbian. As for the third one, I’m of the opinion that *everyone* is more attractive with the addition of a fig leaf. ;) 

Back when I was first trying to figure out why I was self destructing, a male therapist I tried out asked me where I thought I fell on the Kinsey scale. It seemed like a completely out of left field question when I was in there for another issue. After I found a therapist I liked, she explained that survivors will often find a shift in their sexuality, either temporary or permanent, after their abuse. It could be eschewing everyone who is the same sex as your abuser. You could shut down completely and it doesn’t matter who is interested. It could be, as was my case, anything resembling a human being with a pulse was fair game. “Down there” was irrelevant. In the grand scheme of things, I did always lean more toward men than women even though my abuser was male.

Will was doing his level best to show his frat brothers that he wasn’t gay. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that before or not, but he caught a lot of flack from the house. I’m not 100% sure why. Nothing about him screamed “GAY!”. If I’m comparing him to my first boyfriend who did come out, he was a standard straight dude. Even though I could never prove it, he was asserting his masculinity by having a girlfriend who would dress in skimpy outfits and make out with other girls. I was his beard. It wouldn’t shock me at all if I found out he ultimately did identify as gay. There’s no value judgment there, just a statement. For all I know, I’m completely making this up in my head and it has absolutely no basis in reality. It’s just a gut feeling that has been hanging out there for a very long time. I could be looking for a reason when there isn’t one.

Tying into my last post about Robin Williams, my absolute favorite expression of love on film comes from The Birdcage. Nathan Lane’s character (Albert) has stormed off because their son doesn’t want him around when his fiancee’s uber conservative parents come to visit. Robin Williams’ character (Armand) goes after him and finds him at a bus stop. Without narrating the entire scene, Armand tells Albert that he wants to be buried next to him because Albert has always made him laugh and he wants to be able to laugh forever. He then presents Albert with a legal document making them equal partners in all aspects. I tear up every time I watch it. And it’s between two men. That, dear readers, is truly transcendent.

XOXO!

P.S. My dad’s second hip replacement went very well. He’s back home after less than 2 days. Cue a GIANT sigh of relief.

Of the lies we tell ourselves and not losing your way

Firstly, I know everyone realized Twilight Thursday didn’t appear this week. Life happens. It will resume next week. As I said, they can be very time consuming to write. It can take me up to a week to get the notes and quotes I want to include. I promise I haven’t abandoned it, but patience is a virtue. ;)

It would be disingenuous for me to avoid the topic of Robin Williams’ suicide. I’ve been there. I’ve been standing with a knife in my hand thinking how quickly it would all be over. There wouldn’t be a big show. I could die quietly in my apartment with no one the wiser. People I love very much have been there. I have lost one friend to suicide. While I could never prove it, I know that’s what happened. One of the last things she said to me was “the next time I use, I’ll die”. About a week later, I got the call. She was a heroin addict who had been self medicating her depression and bipolar disorder for a decade. While she was in jail, a friend of hers died from an overdose. When she found out, it wasn’t long after that she was gone. With him gone, in her mind, she had nothing else to live for. Robin Williams admittedly suffered in the same way, self medicating with cocaine. He got the hang of not using, but that clearly didn’t stop the depression.

The irony is once a person is on medication and starts to feel better, the more likely they are to kill themselves. They’ve actually worked up enough energy to follow through, but their brain hasn’t balanced out enough to know it’s still a very bad idea. Unlike most warning labels which go through a litany of petty side effects like dry mouth, it *is* important to watch someone more closely who has just started anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds. This is doubly so in teenagers because their brains haven’t finished developing (does anyone’s?). When I was at my lowest, I didn’t have the energy to cry. I wanted to cry. I wanted to release everything stewing in my head. I couldn’t. Instead I would lie there accepting the numbness. There was a time I scoffed at the idea that feeling pain is better than feeling numb. Having been there, I now know better. Pain is a reminder that you’re still alive. I had someone watching me who was willing to help at a moment’s notice.

I am not a medical professional. I’m simply offering my thoughts and experiences. If you are suicidal, contact someone trained to help. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is the quickest and easiest way to get help. Most major areas will have a free or low cost clinic with medical services aimed at people with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts. Call a friend or a family member to sit with you, come get you, and / or drive you to a hospital or clinic. There ARE people who care. There ARE people who love you. Don’t listen to the lies your brain is telling you. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s worth it. Even if your accomplishment for the day is getting up, going to the bathroom, and getting back in bed, that’s something. You’re still here.

My thoughts and condolences are with the Willams family. There aren’t words to make it better. No amount of cards or flowers will ease the pain. Time will take the edge off, but it will be something they’ll carry with them forever.

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Labels

Hello all!

I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise. I was out of town over the weekend for my niece’s 2nd birthday. There were cupcakes, laughs, and gel manicures to be had. My goal is to get my ass back up there before her 3rd birthday next summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the unintentionally hysterical selfie of her mom and myself. We’ve been friends our entire lives despite living in different states for more than half of our friendship. When we were very young, we labeled ourselves best friends.

We all remember the labels from school. Cheerleader. Nerd. Stoner. Overachiever. They were rarely self imposed. Other kids would make those judgments. My social group were the artsy kids. Band, dance, visual art, and the like were where our strengths laid. As I got older, I noticed a shift in labeling. People began applying the labels themselves, usually holdovers from what they were in school. 

The current label on my packaging? Flaky. And not in the fluffy biscuit way.

My negative voice has gone from criticizing my weight to criticizing my follow through. For example, I ended my membership at the dance studio because I wasn’t able to justify the cost. I wasn’t going to class as regularly as I thought I would be. I would tell myself “Okay, I’m going to class tonight for sure!” then not go. Before I knew it, it was the end of the month and I’d taken 2 or 3 classes out of the 10 I had available. Part of the beauty of the studio is the fact all classes are drop in classes. I can go to class once a month or three times a week as my schedule permits. I’m not tied to a series or a specific schedule. Instead of tracking my attendance habits, I committed to something that wasn’t sustainable. When I chose not to go to class or missed it for some reason, that nasty little voice kicked in. I was totally flaky. I couldn’t be trusted to show up for anything. If I can’t show up for something I claim to love, then what would I do in a situation when I didn’t want to be there? And I’ll be damned if that sucker hasn’t been loud as all hell in the past few weeks.

Part of what I love about my hobbies is I *can* walk away from them. I’ll go through phases where I’m doing something regularly and then completely drop it. It could be months, it could only be a week. It’s why I can’t do something I enjoy as a hobby for a job. I would burn myself out on it and end up hating it. Yet I’d still have to show up every day because it’s what’s paying my bills. That’s why I’m so good at what I do for a living. I’m not emotionally attached to my work. I show up, I do my work, and I get paid for it. It pays for my hobbies which I can take or leave. I’m not flaky because I ebb and flow with my hobby du jour.

If I didn’t show up regularly to my job with no solid reason, I’d be a flake. If I made plans with people then flat out didn’t show up, I’d be a flake. If I don’t show up to a drop in class, I’m not a flake. I had no obligation, financial or emotional, to be there. If I feel like, I’ll go. If I don’t, then I won’t. No animals were harmed during the making of this film. I have to keep reminding myself of that to keep the nasty little voice in check. Just like in school, labels can be damaging if you start to believe them. It’s even more potent if it’s coming from inside your own head.

Like any other negative self talk, keep using logic. Look at a situation objectively. Does that negative label really, truly apply? If it doesn’t, keep reminding yourself of why it doesn’t fit. If it does apply and you want to change, what’s a tiny way to work toward that goal? If I truly weren’t showing up when I was expected to show up with no good (or a completely fabricated) reason, then I’d need to do something about it. Instead of accepting an invitation I’m not really interested in, say no. Someone might get their feelings hurt up front, but it’s a much softer blow for both parties. Above all, tell people what you’re trying to change. Odds are they already know what needs to change. If they’re aware of your intentions, they can help. Brains are insanely powerful organs and will justify away pretty much anything. Another person won’t be so quick to let it slide. Pick someone who you know will call you out on your bullshit. Ideally, it’s someone who knows you well enough to know whether you need a good slap upside the head or a more gentle approach. Better yet, pick several people who are willing to help. I’m not a huge fan of teams, but in cases like these, they’re appropriate. In some of my worst and most painful moments, I’ve had more than one person behind me. That, fair readers, made all the difference.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Check your label.

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 4 or Bella likes her men like her Saturday nights. Dead.

So who got my Game of Thrones reference last week? Extra points for you! However, unlike Game of Thrones, we can’t hold out hope that Bella or Edward will be cut down in the middle of a paragraph / scene. This makes me sad. Keep your eyes peeled (not squished) for another GoT reference this time around. :D


I had over 2000 words of content in this post and right as I hit “update”, all but a paragraph disappeared. This will be a much shorter, dirtier, and probably snarkier version of the original. Hang on…

Tyler keeps trying to apologize. Bella is having none of it. Mike & Eric keep posturing, especially now that there’s a Bachelor Number Three to add to their One and Two status. That means our mousey, clumsy heroine has 3, count ‘em, 3 suitors. None of them meet her standards, of course. There can only be one…

No one else was aware of Edward as I always was. No one else watched him the way I did. How pitiful.

Thanks to Meyer’s BFF of linguistic ambiguity, it would appear Bella is pitying Edward because no one pays attention to him. It’s already been established that the Fanged Five keep to themselves. If the intention is for Bella to be self referencing, then it didn’t work. Yes, Bella, you are pitiful for being one step away from Fatal Attraction. Let’s hope the Cullen / Hale clan don’t own any rabbits.

Thanks to minor character number 1 who the reader isn’t supposed to care about (aka Jessica), it is revealed that the Sadie Hawkins dance is coming up. The girls ask the boys rather than the antiquated notion that only boys can ask girls to dances. Bachelors One, Two, and Three seemed to have missed that memo. While Bella tells off Number Two for breaking the convention, that doesn’t stop Meyer from running with it. Yes, we get it. The hicks think she’s hot. For being a nondescript klutz, she sure has a lot of potential action. When Bella confronts Edward about not letting the car end all this misery early on we get:

You think I regret saving your life?”

“I know you do,”

“You don’t know anything,” Jon Snow. Bella Swan.

The Volvo once again makes its appearance. It’s established that Edward is driving, but the seating arrangements for the other 4 are not detailed. This is deeply disappointing. I wonder if Volvo paid Meyer to plug their brand. If they didn’t, they should have. I’m curious how many sad sacks went out and bought Volvos after reading this book.

When I got home, I decided to make chicken enchiladas for dinner. It was a long process and it would keep me busy.

Here’s where my suspension of disbelief kicks in. If Bella can’t keep her feet under her for more than 30 seconds, how the hell does she manage to cook? I’m surprised she hasn’t slipped in the kitchen & broken her nose on the counter or something of the like. However, she has all the talent of an experienced line cook without so much as a wobble. Sorry, not buying what you’re selling.

It also appears that most of the West Coast does not have Mexican restaurants. If Forks is really *that* bad, there should at least be a Taco Bell. The residents need something to soak up all the booze that makes their lives just a little bit easier in this bucolic locale. I suspect her father is hesitant to try the food because he’s afraid there’s a finger in it, not because he’s never encountered a green chile. Also, cops are brave and therefore will try any food put in front of them.

Let’s back up for a moment to Bella’s internal monologue while doing her Martha Stewart impression:

Of course he wasn’t interested in me, I thought angrily, my eyes stinging – a delayed reaction to the onions. I wasn’t interesting. And he was. Interesting…and brilliant…and mysterious…and perfect…and beautiful…and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand.

And sparkly. You forgot sparkly. And all those ellipses are from the original text. I’m not trying to skip over uninteresting parts. If I were doing that, these recaps would be 5 sentences long. And don’t try to blame your burning eyes on the onions. We all know who you’re getting weepy over. Nice try.

Her dad is the one who calls her out on her flimsy excuse. He asks if she’ll be back in time for the dance. Her response?

Grrr.

I shit you not. After 14 pages of getting asked out then mentally bitch slapping the guy who asked her out, we finally come to something resembling a point.

“Do you want a ride to Seattle?”

“With who?” I asked, mystified.

“Myself, obviously,” he enunciated every syllable as if he were talking to someone mentally handicapped.

Indeed he is. Indeed he is.

“But can your truck make it there on one tank of gas?” He matched my pace again.

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” Stupid shiny Volvo owner.

Damn those Germans and their penchant for making mid-sized sedans with excellent paint jobs!

“I said it would be better if we weren’t friends, not that I didn’t want to be.”

“Oh thanks, now that’s all cleared up.” Heavy sarcasm.

Thank you for pointing out the sarcasm. I never would have seen it otherwise. Deadpan.

His eyes were gloriously intense as he uttered that last sentence, his voice smoldering. I couldn’t remember how to breathe.

And let’s keep it that way.

“You really should stay away from me,” he warned.

Dramatic tension fail.

Eighty five pages in and almost nothing has happened. All that has really been accomplished is Bella establishing herself as a whiny unsympathetic protagonist. For being fully named characters, the rest of the Cullens and Hales haven’t spoken a word. All they do is get in and out of a car and not eat anything at lunch. Edward has been unsuccessfully painted as a romantic hero. If you have to beat the reader over the head with how beautiful and mysterious a character is, you’re doing something wrong. As far as we’re concerned by this point in the book, he has no other redeeming traits. He’s as annoying as Bella is whiny. They’re perfect for each other.

I’d also like to point out the Biology teacher is named Mr. Banner. I really hope he’ll turn into a giant green rage monster and end it all now. TEACHER SMASH!!!!

I happened to glance at the acknowledgements in the back of the book. Meyer thanks her editor for “making Twilight better than it started out”. There is only one conclusion as to how Twilight started out.

50 Shades of Grey.

Final Semicolon Count: 11

Final “Jump the Shark” Count: 4

Until next week (where hopefully my original post will remain intact)

XOXO!

Of getting sold a lemon and new words

I do my best to be open minded when I meet someone new. Having been judged countless times for my tattoos, the way I dress, or some other perceived privilege, I try not to do the same to someone else. It’s said that it only takes a few seconds after meeting someone to set up a positive or negative opinion.

I seriously question myself when I find out I’ve been duped. Someone sells me a Ferrari and I end up with a Hyundai. I’ll get along with someone and start to like them, only to find out they aren’t who they initially presented themselves to be. I ask myself how I let it get that far and what I could have done to prevent it. Of course I’m upset with the offender, but I’m more upset with myself. I do my best to present myself as authentic and I expect the same of others. I’m baffled when people prove to be liars or fakes.

Maybe it’s the former heavy drinker in me, but I have little tolerance for lying. I may tell a small lie to not hurt someone’s feelings, but even then I hesitate. It’s just not worth it. I always tell people I prefer to be punched in the face than stabbed in the back. At least if you’re punching me in the face, I have a chance to duck. In both recent instances, the person looked me in the face and lied. Not even a stretch of the truth. It was a flat out, no basis in reality, brightly colored falsehood. Their motives were entirely different, but the end result was the same. I wasn’t sorry at all to see them go. No permanent damage was done, but I’ll never give them the benefit of the doubt again. If someone asks my opinion, I’ll give an honest answer. I won’t give them the opportunity to fool me again. Boy always jokes that if he ended up being an evil clone, I would kill him after the first sign he wasn’t himself. At least we have that sorted out in our relationship.

Keeping it real and being yourself can be a challenge, especially if you aren’t sure what “being yourself” even means. In a world that demands perfection, it’s hard to allow the the less pretty parts to be seen. I remember in 3rd grade when we were going through our vocabulary books, my BFF’s favorite new word was “flaw”. It wasn’t a negative word to her. It was a new way to describe something without any judgement attached. She would point something out and say “there’s a flaw in it”. Looking back on that 20+ years later, she was on the right track. It’s just a way to describe something. There’s no point in lying to cover your flaws. They’ll float to the surface sooner or later. All in all, it takes a lot less energy to tell the truth.

Here’s to being honest with ourselves and those around us. *clinks fizzy water can*

XOXO!