Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dealing With It

One thing I think I've always been afraid of losing is my health.

Please don't get me wrong and tell me how you struggle with your allergies, because most people an intolerance or allergy to something. Milk, for example. A bowl of cereal with dairy milk keeps me full not because it's an amazing source of protein and nutrition, but because my stomach just has never liked milk and I probably should avoid it. I deal. Or the ones who talk about how distressed they are because they have all this debt that accumulated because they spent way too much money when they were unemployed.*

Maybe don't be so eager to play grownups when you know you can't afford it?

We live in a world where people can collect disability for a cloudy day making them sad. I kid you not; my parents actually know someone who is on disability for this very reason. Truth is, many of those that society would normally call "disabled" reject the title and prove that they are very able, even when it's so hard.

Case in point: a good friend of mine, who I roomed with in college for a year, was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In her 20s. While in grad school, working as a GA.


I'd always been pretty aware of Type 1, because one of my uncles has had it for pretty much as long as I've been alive. I literally do not remember a time when I didn't know the bare bones, kiddie explaination for diabetes. You couldn't have sweets and you had to give yourself shots. Later, when I read The Babysitters Club books, I wasn't all that moved or freaked out that one of the characters had diabetes. Maybe that was a "very special episode" for other kids, but in my family, it was just dealt with.

My cousin's daughter, who I either six or close to it, has Type 1 as well. A lot of my family has Type 2 (including my dad, who is now on insulin.)

Every single one of these people just deals with it. It is part of their lives.

It still scares me a little.

I go to the gym as often as I can. I run on one of the elliptical machines there, and I enjoy that high I get from it. I was sort of a hippie about food in high school, and I'm a little paranoid about the things I put on my face. Heck, I get a little freaked out when I think about cheese too hard.

Watching this friend go through this as a twentysomething is downright scary. (She blogs about it at The Clumsy Juggler. Have a read!) Soon after I found that out, my dad found out from a former next-door neighbor that his son, a year younger than me and either a firefighter or a paramedic, had also recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

And these people still deal with it, and go on with their lives, making the adjustments. Yeah, it's stressful. I admire everyone I know who deals with a disease that can become life-threatening very fast.

So please don't whine to me about your minor, non-life-threatening allergies. I promise. You'll be fine.

*This isn't a blanket statement. My own fiance has nasty allergies and a deviated septum, and a lot of my good friends have them. This is more about people who love attention and crave it. I know some of those too. Owning a house? No problem. But 22 might not be the best age to take on a mortgage on a house you may not ever fully pay off. That's all I'm saying. Get an apartment.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

So What Now?

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."-C.S. Lewis

The Supreme  Court has decided today to uphold the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

What now, indeed?

I don't want anyone to require me to buy health insurance, even if I were wealthy and could afford the best coverage. Say what you want about the rest of it.

I don't like being told what to do.

I do not give a crap about the assurances that "oh, only about 6% of people will be paying the fine, it's okay."

Uh, no, it's not okay.

I don't want to be required to buy something or face paying a fine if I don't. That's officially robbery. Actually, it's more like extortion.

Am I being dramatic?

I don't think so. The government needs to get their greasy fingers out of my freaking pockets and back off.

Bring on the zombie apocalypse. It's probably cheaper anyway.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Silly Library, Books are for Kids

I've mentioned before how much I looked forward to the Bookmobile making its appearance on my street when I was a kid, and how much I loved reading.

We moved the summer after third grade, to a neighborhood sort of across town, where the Bookmobile didn't go. I started fourth grade, made new friends, and got both a computer and a puppy. The library sort of took a seat on the backburner, and I made use of the one at my Christian school, or just went to B. Dalton in the mall. When I was in seventh grade, Books-A-Million came to the Wal-mart shopping center, and suddenly, between it and B. Dalton, a wealth of books and magazines was suddenly available.

I literally did not visit the library again until I was in 10th grade.

Not joking. What books I wanted, I saved for and bought, or asked for them for my birthday or Christmas.

That year Clive Barker released his YA novel Abarat. I saw an ad for the book in a kids' magazine and thought "hey, that looks pretty cool." By this time, I'd of course devoured all of the Chronicles of Narnia, buffet style, and discovered The Lord of the Rings. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was a huge favorite of mine, as was A Wrinkle in Time, and I wanted more adventure. More worlds to step into. So Abarat looked pretty cool.

It was also pretty expensive at BAM. What money I had, I didn't want to spend. So I decided, after seven years, to get a library card for the Wilson County Public Library.

I felt rich there, standing in the YA section. I remember (because I'm a freak who remembers stuff like this, don't judge) borrowing Wolf Tower by Tanith Lee and Many Waters, by Madeleine L'Engle. They didn't even have a copy of Abarat, but I still couldn't wait to check out more.

Problem was, a lot of YA books back then weren't all that interesting, especially the ones they had at the Wilson County Library. Usually they were "poignant, coming of age stories" written circa 1982. If there was any fantasy at all, it was all mythological Wales type of stuff, and a lot of the time they'd have the second book in a series, without having the first. I eventually did buy Abarat. As I got older, books became less of a cool thing for me. I wasn't at all interested in things like Pride and Prejudice; I wanted something more along the lines of my favorites. The bookstore wasn't much help either, though I'd known that. B. Dalton had closed a few years before, and BAM either didn't stock things as much or just plain sold out. I was restless and not content with basically having very little to read that I liked. The library didn't have anything because they purchased from BAM, and the local store didn't have all that much either.

But my mind had entertainment. It craved a story so much that it wrote one.

See, we had to read some story in English class that was sort of like the poor man's version of the story of Icarus. Only this tale read like a bad driver's ed film, because the kid's dad was Apollo, and he totally borrowed and wrecked the car. Or something. At any rate, my teacher decided we needed to write our own myth, preferably with a happier ending and that didn't graphically detail what happens to a body in an auto collision. I wrote some dumb little page-long thing where this chick found a clearing in the woods that was magical and turned blue when she walked into it. There's more details, all of which I remember, but they're dumb. Sorry. 

I turned it in and got it back, and promptly shoved it into my backpack, whereupon it was immediately stained with banana.*

I didn't forget about it, though. There was more to this story, so I wrote out another copy for myself to continue later. I went to my Gramma's that weekend and started working.

I confess, I have no idea what we did in my 6th period class for the rest of the freaking year, because I wrote the whole time. Like really. I think it was World Geography, but I know I didn't pay attention because I still suck at geography.**

I figured I was freaking brilliant by writing a novel at the age of 15. I finished it and began the process of rewriting, changing and taking out and putting in and having a ball. Then I got the idea for the sequel, then another idea for the third book. The second one was finished by the next winter, shortly after my library adventures began.

I never finished the third one, and here and there I'd work on it between high school and finishing college.

It's funny when you re-find things you hadn't touched in a while.

That book sucked.

Like, it was really bad. Childish and confusing and often times, downright dumb. I threw in plot devices like they were candy at a parade, and often characters existed just to remind the main character that she was special. Yeah, I was one of those writers. I wanted to make it as fantastical as possible, but keep it down to earth and for some reason, partially set in West Virginia (which at the time, I had never been to.)*** There was a gap somewhere in there, where I grew up and started writing a little better. Characters were more complex, there were more secrets, and the dog no longer talked. Dogs, by the way, were the only creatures that could talk in the story. I had two dogs at the time, so I blame that.

And yet, still, even after all my emo-ness and stuff, it still wasn't ready. Like at all.

Like it read like a horrible fan-fiction that wasn't even clear what exactly the author was a fan of.

Lo and behold, college! It was great, and it was awful and I had a lot of friends and did a lot shopping and hanging out and basically not ever working on my book.

But it simmered back there, on the back burner. All the bad stuff cooked off, and spices were added, and my story became mental comfort food. I like where it is now. Heck, I love where it is now. Granted, it is like a fickle lover, sometimes frustrating and many times amazing. Yes, the bare bones are there. Teenagers, quest, weapons. Like the human skeleton, this formula is literally everywhere in YA fiction, whether you know it or not. It's extremely basic. Now I have on my side a weird obesession with the Cold War, lots more attitude, many movies without hobbits, and a temper upon which I blame genetics.****

But that's all I'll say about that.

Because I think it's time to pretend I had a few too many and do the writer's version of dancing on a table at a wedding and launching my stilettos across the room.

I'm going to put some annotated excerpts from the previous work on this blog. Many of the notes may just contain exclamations of shame or LOLs because it's seriously bad, but funny bad. Seriously funny bad.

So prepare to enjoy.

Or just stare awkwardly. Your choice.

*I still have the sheet of notebook paper, and it still has banana on it. It's a beautiful sort of gross.
**Seriously, as far as I know, every state that isn't Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, or West Virginia floats around in this weird archipelago. Of freedom.
***I did go in 2005, on a senior ski trip with my class. And I have the shoulder pain and loss of motion to prove it!
****Yeah, if you think the Hatfields and McCoys were bad, you shoulda seen my family and the neighboring family where they lived, back before 1950. Apparently, an uncle of mine busted home one day and asked his mama (my great-grandmother) where the gun was, because he was gon' kill him somebody. She was all "heck to the naw" and I don't think anything came of that. Also, my Granny once frightened a school principal into actually punishing other students that jumped both my dad and my aunt. I am so proud of both of these events, you don't even know.

Monday, June 25, 2012

1995 Was a Great Year to be Nine Years Old

Arguably one of my favorite blogs is Fourth Grade Nothing. The author grew up in the 70s and 80s, and most of the posts are spent reminiscing about her childhood. I love reading it. It's sort of like oral history. Actually, that's exactly what it's like. I wasn't around for much of the 80s, and none at all for the 70s, so it's really cool to read about another person's experiences.

I also love Children of the 90s, because I am one.

I don't remember much at all about the 80s, except for snatches here and there, memories of snow, my dad's Isuzu truck, and maybe a little Disney World. I was born in 1986, and spent a little over three years in the glorious 1980s (they really do look fabulous...) before the clock struck midnight and January 1, 1990 rolled in.

My most favorite memories are of the 90s, when I really grew up. Like so many other people who remember their childhood, I just feel like everything was so much better then. School supplies were definitely more awesome, and everything we take for granted now was a novelty.

I think that's why third grade was my favorite year of school. I mean, yeah, it had its times of suckage, but that was all elementary school drama. It was 1995 when the school year began, and I was almost nine years old. I freaking loved shopping for school supplies, and mine were epic. I had a suede backpack, all different earth-toned colors, and it closed with a drawstring and a flap. My chin-length hair (which was straight then) and my spaghetti strap dress over a white t-shirt made me feel so fashionable. Like really. I had style. I think.

My favorite school supply was my Trapper Keeper, which had some computer generated, abstract image on it. Man, that was so cool. Trapper Keepers are back, yeah, but it's not the same. They're boring. Vintage, supposedly. To a 90s kid? Bleh.

I'd taken a little creative license with the school supply list and convinced my mom that the sparkly glittery crayons would be fine. (They weren't. We did color mixing that year. Turns out peridot doesn't count as yellow.) I remember my teacher reading Ellen Tebbits that year. The world was our acid trip as we collectively obsessed over Lisa Frank. I think I had a pocketbook by that time, mostly because my cousin, the same age as me, had one and I desperately needed one too. I don't think I ever used it.

Please, all of yall tell me you remember plastic pacifier necklaces, yin-yangs everywhere, and Yikes! pencils and stuff. My fiance found some at his house, the green and purple particle wood sharpened down to just three inches long.

The Bookmobile, and extension of our local library, came every three weeks and parked right across the street from our little house, and I devoured The Babysitters Club and Goosebumps. I think I learned to love reading then. Not sure when the biting sarcasm developed.

That was the year we got cable, and it was absolutely amazing. I watched all of one channel, Nickelodeon. Back then, you had to order the Disney Channel extra, so I never watched that as a kid. Nickelodeon was enough. It had previously been a treat reserved only for weekend trips to my Gramma's house in Virginia, or for when we were at my Granny's house across town. Snick was the perk of a weekend at Gramma's, and Are You Afraid of the Dark rocked my world.

In 1995, I discovered Star Wars. My parents rented it, and it blew my mind. I'd never seen anything like it before. I mean yeah, I watched Star Trek The Next Generation on TV, but I have only a few memories of that and no emotional attachment. Star Wars made me love movies. Better than that, it made me love good storytelling. I had a homemade Star Wars cake that year, with Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, R2-D2, and Luke Skywalker on it. The writing was done in blue gel on white icing. Epic.

My goal was to eventually make a lightsaber with a white blade. I daydreamed of finding that special crystal in my schoolyard.

We didn't have Internet yet then. I mean, it existed, but for most of the public, it was a little bit of a novelty. We didn't even have a computer. Family friends did, and I remember playing with a program at my parents' friends' house where you would speak into the microphone, and the parrot on-screen would repeat what you said. It yelled at me when I used the word stupid once.

I thought the internet looked so cool, with all the AOL keywords and games and a whole world out there, right at our fingertips.

I begged my dad to get a computer with a "motive" so we could get on the internet.

He laughed at me. The computer with the "motive" didn't come until the next year, around the same time we got Minnie.

After 1995, it got crazy. Technology changed at a dazzling rate of speed. I didn't know what a cell phone was then, and I had no idea, in 1995, what a laptop was. (I would later discover this technical marvel while watching Independence Day, in which a Powerbook was used to kill aliens.) No year, for the rest of that decade, ever felt as aweome. Blips of cool popped up here and there, such as seeing Star Wars (Special Edition!) in the theater and getting a puppy (10th birthday...double-digits rock). Back before the new Star Wars trilogy came along and partly broke the hearts of fans everywhere (but we're loyal lovers.) Back before the Y2K scare, before 1999 got stale, and back when kids weren't lazy. Back when anything was possible, but what else could have been better? Forget tomorrow. Today, there are pools to cannonball into, Death Stars to blow up, just in front of the swingset, and Warball games to play, beat or be beaten.

Yes, 1995 was truly a great time to be nine years old. I don't think the world's any worse. We're certainly aware of more now. I think we might've appreciated childhood a little more if ourselves now could go back in time and show our younger selves that this Saturday at the pool is a blessed and rare day off. But why ruin the fun?

And by the way, I still want that white lightsaber.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Horror Vacui Is Now Free!

Okay, so, after some consideration, I've decided I'd really like to get some of my work out there as best as possible.

So my short story collection, Horror Vacui, is now free at

I also have it available at, but Amazon won't let me change the price to $0.00, so is the place to get this collection free in a bunch of different formats.

So here's the book at Smashwords if you want it free.
If you really want to be nice to me, here's the book on Amazon for $0.99.

Also, I've decided to close my Etsy shop and reopen on Storenvy under the name 12:01. Here's the link to that shop. I'd love for you to stop by. Also, 12:01 has a blog, which will be updated weekly.

In other news, the book is coming along nicely, and I'm very happy with the direction it's taken. I can't wait until it's finished!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's Got to be On Purpose

I opened the local paper recently to a story about a local comic book artist, Brian Wingrove (here's his site!)

My post is not on this. It's more about the local paper in question. Now really, I have nothing but love for the publication. It's pretty informative, if small, but I still read it mornings at work and try to see what's going on in town. Even though the size has shrunk in the past years (like literally the paper is not as wide) I continue to be a reader.

But dang, they suck at proofreading. 

I think it has been getting better lately. Maybe. The writing's certainly improved, because they used to have one article writer who probably could have used a writing class. I haven't seen her name lately, but when her work appeared in the paper, a typical paraphrased quote looked like this.

"Mr. Smith said that his wife had said that her aunt said that the intruder had shown up around dinnertime."

And see, that's okay. Easy mistake, just takes a little work to correct.

It gets better.

There's also the section for letters to the editor, written of course by the community, on various topics. I will never forget the one that was printed a couple of years ago.

The letter was praising this medical facility for being so helpful and caring during a patient's last days. She'd had a terminal illness and the family was sincerely thanking the staff at this place.

According to the paper, the deceased was afflicted with lunch disease.

I must say, I have never heard of lunch disease.

Okay, you say. Typo. Sure. Someone was hungry when they typed that.

Now, Brian Wingrove's comic series is called "Intermezzo" and is a reference to the humorous content. This short article that appeared in the paper had a picture of Mr.Wingrove holding up a couple of copies of his comic, upon which is clearly printed "Intermezzo" across the top. In big letters. Yellow ones.

And sure enough, next to the picture in the paper, they talk about his Intermezza comic series.

That is not a thing.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that it's done on purpose, to add "charm" and "quirk" to the local paper.

I applied once for a proofreading position and was never called.

I like to think it's because my resume was too perfectly spelled.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The All-American Drive-In Theater

Okay Google. I'll bite.

Today is June 6, and for students of history such as myself, it is the anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy, an event that gave the Allies a nice little foothold into Europe. Germany surrendered less than a year later.

Yet Google has instead chosen to observe the founding of the first drive-in movie theater.

I do understand though. Google has never been just what everyone expected, and everyone expects a moving tribute to the men who fell from the sky and the ones who stormed the beaches. Possibly a flag should wave somewhere. Google is on a quest for uniqueness.

I swear I can link the two. Watch me make logical magic.

The drive-in theater is an icon in American culture, the latter of which would not be the same thing it is now without a decisive victory for the Allies in WWII.

So I shall now observe the All-American drive-in movie theater, examined psuedo-closely in three films.

Many a film, in an interesting meta-ish practice, depicts teenagers going to the drive-in on the weekends. Ususally these are older films, so the nostalgia is there.

In 1978's Grease, the drive-in watches over the students of Rydell High School and acts as sort of a parental figure. The cool parent. The one good with everything, just there to make sure you're okay, but hey man. It's cool. Whatever. It's the sympathetic shoulder to cry on because that scene in particular is where Sandy and Danny break up. It's back there all "Hey, it'll be okay. Life will get better, I promise."

A tragic, but ultimately uplifting appearance of the humble drive-in theater is in 1984's Red Dawn. In this film, the small town of Calumet Colorado (which is both real and fictional*) is invaded by Soviet troops. The drive-in theater is fenced in and converted to a reeducation camp. We see it twice, once when two brothers and a friend sneak there and find that their dad is imprisoned, and where they effectively say goodbye to him for the last time. In the background is the drive-in theater, blasted with Soviet propaganda. And it just stands there, ever the picture of the slow burn that is the American temper. It will get its revenge, says the screen. You wait. Eventually, that happens when the kids do assault the camp and attempt to free everyone inside, and the projector ends up with graffiti on it, defiantly displaying Wolverines in big letters. The drive-in prevails.

And last but never least is the drive-in's appearance in 1996's Twister. The film's not-quite climax features a huge tornado tearing into the screen while The Shining plays on. Parts of the screen are ripped away as Jack Nicholson hacks wildly at the door his wife hides behind. And the screen just takes it. Like a champ. Truly American.

And so friends, I believe that Google's tribute to the drive-in on this particular date is appropriate, because without the Invasion of Normandy, maybe we wouldn't still have the American tradition of the drive-in.


*It's a ghost town that was abandoned sometime in the 70s. Basically, the makers of the film used the name and setting for a middle America feel, but filmed the actual scenes in Las Vegas, New Mexico. My brother at at the McDonald's that appears in the film. Apparently they're fans of salsa verde on burgers.

**Also, one of my available tags is "disasterssarcasm." It's a great new word and all, but I really don't know how it happened.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ruining Marriage Since 19??

The other night, I was pondering over something a roommate had said to me during my junior year in college. (Yes, it was over four years ago. I'm apparently that chick on the sadly canceled show Unforgettable.) While at dinner with some other young women, the subject turned to families, and I mentioned that my grandparents had been married in a church office in Emporia, VA, with my Granny's aunts serving as witnesses. My Pa was in his early twenties, and Granny was a very mature seventeen. At the time, they weren't Christians, no matter how you define the term. Their conversion would come later. My point is, they had the world's simplest wedding. That was fifty-seven years ago.

I related this story, and my roommate said something to the effect of "Oh yeah, if they weren't Christians, then a church wedding wasn't important to them."

Uh, no, they were poor and didn't have the funds for an "old money" wedding. My other grandparents, who did go to church, had a similarly simple wedding in the church office, with the preacher.

And last night it hit me. Fundamentalism and the rest of the world, together, have ruined marriage, but I'm not quite sure who the real culprit is.

At places like Bob Jones University (the most exposure to fundamentalism I've had) marriage is a goal. It's a finish line. It's practically the reason many women there go to college. Not all, but a heck of a lot. They talk about finding their prince, or their steak (because a hot dog isn't good quality meat, or whatever. I don't know. I think it's a gross analogy.) They talk about how they can wear white on their wedding day and be pure for their husbands and stuff. It's a finish line young men and women reach and collectively go, "Yes! Now we can have sex and it's not bad now!" They seem to overlook the commitment angle. That one day their spouse will do something that really just pisses them off. Not that there will be fights, but I wouldn't be surprised if BJU students, after marriage, are shocked by arguments, because literally all kids do there is gaze at each other (and occasionally one will feed the other, though I've only seen this once in person.) There is no substance. Saving themselves for marriage has become a tool. The wedding night is the goal.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the rest of the world. I do enjoy watching Bridezillas sometimes. I think it's mostly fake, but sure entertaining in a mindless sort of way (also a good way to get ideas for decor and things. They are nice weddings, even if the people creating them are freaking insane.) It struck me that weddings have simply become an event. A really good excuse to throw a party. And not that there's anything wrong with parties. But $40,000 (and up) for five hours on a Saturday night? We've come to an age where women go "my dress budget is $7,000" without batting an eyelash and tell you that the way a wedding cake looks totally rules over how it tastes. Like it's okay that the cake sucks, as long as the sugar orchids are gorgeous. Even more absurd? Fake cakes. To save money. And serving sheet cake.

Like a foam cake that you pretend to cut while serving a sheet cake to your guests.

What the heck did you spend the money on that you couldn't even have a real cake?

Oh my bad, the 350 guests for which you need a fully stocked bar. Never mind that you really only know about fifty of them.

I'll stop being all frugal-judgey now because I really think it's the fundamentalist/goal oriented weddings that come with healthy doses of narcissism at no extra charge.

"Look, they saved themselves until marriage..." "The bride wore white..." (which is actually a book title, by the way), and all the pride that goes with it. I guess I'm a little prideful myself, I confess. My fiance and I have a relationship with actual conversations about stuff. We're not sex-crazed animals, which all those books and conferences and guides seem to assume all Christian engaged couples are. At BJU, there used to be a class about marriage and family that was required for all students before graduation. Mostly, it was about sex. The other half was funny anecdotes from life (which were enjoyable, actually.) There was a session about finances, but it wasn't marriage specific, and it was of course geared towards those planning a wedding for the week after they graduated. My own roommate (the same one who apparently didn't know that big weddings were for wealthy people), when I once mentioned that my boyfriend (who I wasn't yet engaged to) felt like he was more than that already, had to clarify "like you're really good friends, right?" Well, no, because we had been good friends before getting together anyway. Yeah, I was definitely interested in him, but he was still my friend first. I do not take that lightly.

I don't know who was the first to ruin the marriage, to throw it to the wayside in favor of the wedding. My suspicions lie with the ones who chose to pervert it and change it from a celebration looking forward to a life together to that moment where you can finally take off your purity ring and tell the world you saved yourself and "it's so worth it" because that's all you really cared about. A goal. Congratulations, you made it. Welcome to fifty years of a living nightmare if virginity was the only thing you ever bothered to think about regarding marriage. 

Honestly, the party weddings have it more on point. Those people, even if they're over the top, legitimately seem to be celebrating a life together. If all you're excited about is that you found a husband or wife and can now have a raucous wedding night and have met your goal and saved yourself, well, you've officially missed the point. Good job.