Of fanfic and a shame on English degrees

Since reading the recaps of the 50 Shades trilogy, I’ve been pondering my own ideas about fanfic.

I tried to read Twilight and gave it the ol’ rage quit three quarters of the way through. For someone who claims to have a degree in English, the writing was high school level at best. That’s also doing a disservice to high school students who didn’t sleep through class. Her editor also has a lot to answer for. I’ve heard the excuse that Ms. Meyer was trying to capture the voice of a high school student. I strongly disagree with this point as well. I’ve seen very well written stories (Beautiful Creatures leaps to mind) which successfully captured the voice of a teenager. The idea had the potential to be a lot more than the final product was. The execution fell short of the idea. She was unsuccessful as a writer because of the mechanics and her editor either didn’t catch the mistakes or glossed over them. The fact it became a runaway success makes me shake my head on behalf of all English majors who don’t suck as authors.

When 50 Shades of Grey first came across my radar, I thought “anything that started out life as a Twilight fanfic can’t possibly be good”. In that instance, I was correct. I gave the book itself a rage quit by chapter 9 before switching to the recaps. I question the morals in both stories, but that’s another blog post for another time. However, I do think I was unfair to paint all Twilight fanfic with the same brush. I’m sure there’s a lot of Twilight fanfic floating around online that is either on par with the original or elevates it. I understand Twilight isn’t high art. It’s the literary equivalent of candy corn. The source material is just a jumping off point. Fanfic is a great way for budding writers to get some experience. The characters and setting are ready made. As had been exhaustively pointed out, it’s one thing to borrow from an existing work. It’s entirely another to take another writer’s work wholesale and just change the names. I hated Twilight, but it wasn’t fair of E.L. James to pluck Edward and Bella and plop them in a room with pleather and riding crops. I’m sure the erotica writers are also shaking their heads right now.

I’m not a published writer (obviously). I have a lot of ideas that I’ve put into writing, but they never get past 20 or 30 pages because I get distracted by something shiny. I, personally, chose the original work route. I’m awesome at creating characters who are interesting and real, but I can’t make them do a goddamn thing. Pesky, pesky plots.

For those keeping score at home, my dad is doing much better. The surgery went well and he was even up and walking around yesterday. He’ll be on IV antibiotics for a few weeks, but they’ll send him home tomorrow. It’s very, very likely he caught the original infection from the hospital the first time around. His hip that’s sans lymph nodes was prime real estate for the infection. It took 8 days, but it’s good to have it all behind us.

XOXO!

Of strength, toughness, and tough pills to swallow

Sorry if my updates have been sparse, dear readers.

My dad went back into the hospital last Thursday with severe pain in his leg. After three days of various medications and tests, it was determined he has an infection in his left hip. He’s being transferred to an orthopedic hospital and will likely have surgery to clear out the infection. One of the crappiest feelings ever? Seeing someone you love dearly in horrible pain and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. My weekend wasn’t so much a weekend as an exercise in not sobbing every time we delivered food or went to visit for a bit. It’s by no means fatal and hasn’t spread beyond his hip. Still, it’s like being punched in the chest. To see my former Army Ranger dad, the strongest person I know, reduced to hitting a pain button every 15 to minutes “to stay sane”, is difficult to process. I remember years ago when I was sobbing over a boy, he said something to me that stuck firmly in my head.

The whole point of Ranger School is to break a person, physically and mentally. If you get through it, you’ve exhibited the strength and toughness it takes to survive a combat situation and keep your shit together. He told me that I inherited that same toughness. I might bend to the point I think I’ll break, but I’ve got everything I need to get through it. I just have to know where to look. He was sitting in that hospital bed taking it like a champ. I have no doubt he felt the way I do now when I was going through my epilepsy diagnosis. I may not find myself literally crawling through mud on my hands and knees to finish a course, but I’ve crawled through my fair share of figurative mud.

Today also marks the anniversary of my DUI. It taught me how to pick myself back up after a self inflicted wound. I haven’t had a drink in a year. Moreso, I don’t miss it. All it took was the right motivation. I never thought I’d look at my epilepsy and say thank you. As cliche as it sounds, sometimes the worst situations have the most to teach us. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. That’s a memory I will quite happily leave behind me.

I’m not so sure where I read it or saw it, so I give credit to the general Internet. For every negative thing or complaint, counter it with 7 positives. Challenge accepted:

1. Boy sitting there holding me while I sob into his shirt because I felt so helpless. It takes a special man to take snot in his shirt without so much as a word. It helps that I’m the one who does laundry. 😀

2. We bought a Keurig this weekend. I’ve been eyeing my parents’ Keurig with great lust in my heart. I made my own coffee this morning and brought it to work with me. It will take some experimentation to get the proportions right, but that’s part of the fun.

3. New work clothes. I got rid of a bunch of my work clothes when I lost weight last spring and summer. Now that it’s warming up again, it was time for a wardrobe update.

4. This blog. I was laughing so hard I was crying at some points. I gave myself the hiccups from laughing in Chapter 8.

5. I smell good. Perfume = awesome.

6. We watched the kittens this weekend since they’d been alone for almost 3 days. Maggie was extra cuddly. How can you feel bad with a warm, fuzzy kitten in your lap?

7. My boss and my employees. We can bust each others’ balls, laugh, and still get the work done. We’re one happy motley crew.

XOXO!

Of warm weather and tattoos

In my part of the world, the weather is starting to warm up. Soon it will be tank top season and once again, people will remember I have tattoos. The vast majority of my work is on my arms. I have one on my thigh that all but covers my right quad. Shorts and sleeveless tops make for a whole host of questions. For those of you who don’t know someone heavily tattooed, especially a woman, here’s a quick and dirty guide of how to handle summer weather.

*Don’t touch me without my permission

I’m happy to show you my tattoos if you ask. Don’t just grab my arm and start examining it. Firstly, it’s assault (learned that in my CNA class). Secondly, it’s just rude. You wouldn’t touch another random person without tattoos without their consent. I’m sure my pregnant friends can relate to this. Also, if I hold out my arm for you to look at my tattoos, don’t wrench my arm behind my back to look at the detail on the back of my arm. This isn’t a martial arts class.

*Don’t ask me if they hurt

Of course they did. There were needles involved.

*Don’t ask if they “mean” anything

Most heavily tattooed people are collectors. Most of my larger pieces were done by a well known artist in the Southeast. None of mine “mean” anything. In some cases, apprentice artists will tattoo themselves to get more practice. I’ve seen a lot of strange tattoos on thighs and calves from practice sessions. Also, don’t get offended if someone says they don’t mean anything or flat out doesn’t want to answer. Things like an evil magician pulling an octopus out of a hat or the traditional sparrow on the chest tattoos aren’t exactly deep statements of one’s inner feeling.

*Don’t ask me what you should get tattooed

I’m not going to tell you what to get etched on your body for the rest of your life. I’m happy to give recommendations for artists I’ve worked with. I’m happy to offer placement advice after a design has been chosen. Beyond that, you’re on your own.

The fact is my tattoos have become part of my skin, just like a mole or a birth mark. I don’t notice them at all. I’ve even forgotten about some of them. The ones I don’t see on a daily basis or only in a mirror have all but faded. This post is merely to educate on the greatest hits of ignorant questions we tattooed folk get asked. Education is important, no? 

So let us all enjoy the sleeveless top weather in happiness and peace. And perhaps even frolic in fields singing, tattooed or otherwise.

XOXO!

 

Of deep thoughts on a Saturday morning and football players

“My focus has always been on becoming a better me, not a second-rate somebody else.” – Rashard Mendenhall

Wisely spoken, my good man. It was just the line I needed to jerk me back into reality. I’m not sure who that second rate somebody else is, but I keep chasing after her. It’s the same old song and dance. The girl who always steps out of the house perfectly groomed. The girl who drinks green smoothies three times a day, nibbles on organic free range [insert animal here], & would never touch a soda. She’s also a black belt and can bench 300 pounds. Unattainable, party of one.

My body carries most of my weight in my hips. My hair will frizz if it detects even a small amount of moisture in the air. High heels make it easier to trip, face plant, & break the illusion of grace. Mexican food is my ultimate undoing. I’m powerless in the face of queso or a burrito. AND THAT’S OKAY!

Boy worked at a summer camp for many years. A child psychologist was brought in to give them a crash course in how to handle a bunch of boys ranging in ages from 8-16 in the woods for 3 months. One thing that always stuck with him was “never ask a kid why they aren’t trying harder”. Sometimes, the best a kid can do is sit in the corner & wail. Don’t make it worse by implying he isn’t doing his best. We’ve all had those days well past childhood. I may walk out the door feeling like a million bucks one day. The next day, it takes all I have to get out of bed, put on pants, & show up to work. AND THAT’S OKAY! 

Also, for those keeping score at home, my dad is doing much better. They’ve figured out the pain meds & he even felt good enough to go to Target this week. Getting wild & crazy, I tell you. On that note, a list of things that make me smile:

*A surly, fat cat who will grudgingly accept my company when Boy isn’t home.

*A daily green smoothie 😉

*Discovering a “surrito” last night. It’s a combination of sushi and a burrito. Why has no one ever thought of this before? Genius.

*In less than 3 weeks, I’ll be in Vegas for the weekend

*Perfume and penguin sweatshirts

*Being able to drive myself to pick up breakfast when Boy is still sacked

XOXO!

Rashard’s full essay can be found here.

And another article that punched me pretty hard because I relate so. damn. much.

Of getting to the point and finding it in the first place

Commutes give me a lot of time to think. It’s one thing when there’s another person in the car and you can chat on the drive. It’s entirely another when you’re by yourself for half an hour or more. For example, Boy was watching Cosmos last night (a reboot of the original Carl Sagan show about basic science. I had to Wiki it, personally). I asked what the point of the show was. He replied it was simply to get people interested in science in the first place, nothing more grand than that. Say what?

Sometimes, there is no point. Some things just are.

It hit me on my commute in this morning. Not everything has to have a “point”. This, of course, goes against everything the contrary part of me loves. Everything has a point. It’s the natural order of the world. Maybe, just maybe, that isn’t how it works. I love to prove a point and I love being right. Who doesn’t? Being right is awesome. However, if there’s no point to be proven, there’s no right or wrong (see how I tied that back to my last post? Go me!). Things don’t have to have a grand ending or a high level reason for existing. Nothing should have to justify itself. That includes me.

I haven’t been to dance in a week nor have I gotten any real exercise since then. That little voice in my head started up after a few days. “You’re lazy”. “You’re going to get fat”. “Why are you wasting your time lazing on the couch with your boyfriend when you should be spending hours in the studio?”. Because, goddamnit, I want to laze on the couch with my boyfriend watching mindless TV. I’ve been worrying about my dad the past week because of his brain surgery. They couldn’t find the right combination of medication for him and he ended up back in the ER. Daylight Savings Time, as usual, took its toll on top of that. I don’t need to justify my actions to that little nasty voice. Once again, the BFF filter kicks in. Would I ever tell one of my friends any of that? Of course not. One of the things I love most about my hobbies is I can walk away from them for a little while. My brain is trying to prove a point to itself. Half of it, the nasty half, is right. The rational half is wrong. It’s one thing to give a little nudge. It’s entirely another to say “I’m right, you’re wrong,”. 

I have a sticky note at my desk that reads “be fluid, not forced”. Fluidity is something I constantly struggle with. I feel guilty about not going to enough dance classes to justify the cost. I set up a regimented schedule for the week, then beat myself up for not sticking to it whether it’s for work, play, or both. I’m no longer at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. If I decide at 4p that I don’t feel like going to a dance class at 5p, that’s okay. I may want to hike to the northern suburbs on a Saturday morning to take some of those classes. I may not feel like it the following week. If I get something thrown at me suddenly at work, it’s okay. I don’t have to flail around like someone threw a ball at my head. I have a replacement hired & ready to round out my department, but I won’t have him full time until the 24th. More and more people are requiring my time. I’m happy and grateful to be promoted, but I have to flip things around a lot. I may have my own little plan for the day that could very well, and frequently does, get shaken up. Inflexibility makes life harder on everyone. No bueno.

It’s okay to let go of having to be right. It’s okay for things to not have a “point”. It’s okay to ebb and flow. It’s best to take my own advice. 😀

XOXO!

Of right, wrong, and everyone lowering their voices

Facebook & Twitter are exhausting. They’ve given way for everyone to scream about how they’re right and everyone else is wrong. Expressing an opinion about homosexuality and / or homophobia if you aren’t gay? You know nothing, so shut up. Not politically active or uninterested in politics? You’re ignorant and have no right to express an opinion. Feminism? There’s totally a right way to do it, you’re just doing it wrong. Forget trying to evolve or change your opinions with time. Something you said a decade ago will be dragged up just so someone can prove they’re “right”.

For example, I have zero interest in politics. All I know about current events is what Boy tells me or what I happen to catch on the TV at work. To some people, that makes me an ignorant cow. So be it. I’m not going to get hyped up over something because someone else thinks I should. If I don’t know what’s going on, I won’t vote. Conversely, I won’t bitch if I don’t agree with the current regime’s politics. I support everyone having the right to marry, regardless of what’s between your legs. That’s not my business, so I’ll just stay out of it. I love my friends and family dearly, but I don’t always support or agree with their beliefs or opinions. My dad’s side of the family are staunch Catholics. That’s not my scene. I have my beliefs, but certainly don’t impose them on anyone. I think doing porn is a bad idea, but if you’re willing to take the risk, have at it (if you will). I’m not the one who would have to explain to a prospective employer why they saw my ladybits displayed on the internet. The term “white privilege” is bandied about frequently on social media. Find me someone who chose to be born in a white middle or upper class family. Find me someone who chose to be born in a first world country, skin color or sexuality put completely aside. Puts a bit of a wrench in that, doesn’t it? Because I’m a white, middle class female, I’m somehow at fault (in certain people’s eyes) because I’m not deworming orphans in Somalia or marching over to Crimea to politely request the children stop fighting over who gets the last piece of land.

That’s the funny thing about right and wrong. Coming from a girl who lives in black and white, there’s never a right or wrong side for an opinion. No one has your unique combination of experiences, education, genetics, personality, or where and to whom you were born. No one will ever “get it” because they aren’t inside your head. You can stomp your foot and scream all day about why you’re right. That doesn’t make it true. If everyone just took 10 seconds to shut up and listen, you might hear a new idea. You might be exposed to something you never thought of.  You just have to be quiet first.  Next time, let’s try listening. Yes?

Of the 8th circle of hell and spring springing

I spent over 2 hours at the DMV yesterday for about 2 minutes of paperwork. I brought literally every piece of paper having to do with the DUI. All they asked for were my passport and proof that I completed the DUI class. I had to fill out one of their internal forms and that was that. There were a bunch of teenagers taking their driving tests, so we sat through those litany of numbers. While I’m still convinced it’s the 8th circle of hell, I have my license back. I’m officially free to go wherever I want whenever I want. I started crying as we were walking out from sheer relief. I’m no longer at the mercy of anyone’s schedule or whim. I don’t have to wake Boy up an hour early to drive me to work. I don’t have to beg for rides to dance or circus. I don’t feel guilty for asking any of the above from anyone. I can finally call one place home and instead of bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball. This comes at a particularly opportune time as my dad’s surgery is tomorrow morning. I’m sure everything will be fine. They told me to go into work as normal. If nothing else, it’ll be something to distract me. I know some people think I’m crazy for not staying home or going to the hospital. Given how my mom has (understandably) been acting because of it, it’s better that I stay away until later. I’ll go see him later in the week when he’s conscious and bored.

Of course, now that I can go wherever I please, I feel overwhelmed with choice. I have three dance studios and the circus classes to choose among. I know I’ll be bingeing on classes this week simply because I can. I don’t know about you, faithful readers, but I have to keep the momentum going. If I don’t go to class right after work, I’m not going to. If I have time to go home and relax a bit, it’s unlikely I’ll be going back out. There are definitely classes I’m interested in at later times, but the odds I actually go are slim to none. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Classes are constantly rotating in and out or changing times or days. Maybe some days I’ll need to stay late to work and end up being able to go when I otherwise wouldn’t (I had a moment like that on Friday, mildly terrifying). Just see what I feel like taking that day. No need to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings or disappointing anyone. There’s plenty of chances. It stops being fun when I start forcing myself. N’est pas?

We have the door to the porch open. Boy and the kitty are sitting outside enjoying the weather. The sun is just starting to set. This is the kind of weather I could deal with year round. Unlike most Atlantans, I don’t forget how hot and disgusting summer is. What we have right now is ideal. 

XOXO!