Thursday, 22 March 2012

no one can stop us now

Jennie  I, like many other bored-at-work-type people, recently watched the Neil DeGrasse Tyson video where he reveals the most astounding fact about the universe. Here it is, if you haven't seen it, and if you feel like being good-touched-not-bad-touched by beauty today:

If you don't feel like watching it (what's wrong with you?) or you can't because THE MAN will see you, the basic premise is this: We are not really so small, you and I. We contain the universe. Every single of one of us is made of the dust of dying stars.

HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT. I'm sorry, I know this is an old(ish) thought. I already had this information in my brain (somewhere), having stumbled across it in one fall-down-the-rabbit-hole websurfing session or another, but if you think about it, really think about it, it's just so mindbogglingly awesome. I have trouble forming coherent thoughts about it because IT'S JUST SO FUCKING COOL. I wish I could be more poetic but COME ON. An idea that big, that beautiful, is just screaming for some caps lock profanity. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

I was in Chicago with some friends recently, just for the weekend, visiting for another friend's pre-wedding festivities. We went out to breakfast one morning and, as it was a Saturday morning in a busy Chicago restaurant, there was a long wait. As I stood within the throng of patiently waiting customers, trying to ignore the caffeine headache on the horizon and the gnawing emptiness in my stomach, I was overwhelmed as more and more people came into the restaurant.

"There are just SO MANY PEOPLE in the world," I thought, as I huddled closer to my own group. There are so many strangers, so many people I'll never know, never meet, and, at that very moment, it felt like each and every one of them was there in that waiting room. I began to feel smaller and smaller, more and more insignificant, as I gazed at the shoulders and backs (what, I'm short) of the strangers around me. None of those people will ever know who I am. I'm just like so many of them, a carbon copy. And instead of feeling like that meant I was connected to them, to these complete strangers, I felt like I hardly mattered. "There are so many of me," I thought. "WHAT IS THE POINT OF ANYTHING?"

Now. I can easily chalk most of that feeling up to hunger and caffeine-deprivation, but still, I do have to admit that I've been feeling a bit on the worthless side lately, if I'm being completely honest. I spend a lot of time questioning many of my decisions, wondering how I stumbled into this particular career, for instance, and how (or if) I can stumble back out of it. Some days I'm full of optimism, sure I can do it, all I have to do is take a little step every day and sooner or later I'll wake up and be in a different place, without even realizing I was going anywhere. But other days...other days, I can't see anything in front of me but a gray haze. All I can focus on is the success of those around me, their good fortune instead of my own, and I spend so much time wondering what they've done that I haven't, and even though I know the answer is most definitely something like, "WORK HARD, DUH," I can't help but think maybe it's never going to happen. Maybe I'll always be in this place. Bored most of the day. Unfulfilled yet full of regret. A waste of space and potential.

It's days like this that I really need the reminder this video gives me. That I'm OK. More than OK, really. I'm full of stars.

I was sorely tempted to make a joke out of this week's topic, because that's what I do. The oldest thing I own is probably...a book, maybe? My house? But no. If I allowed myself to be completely serious, I'd tell you that the oldest thing I own is me, those parts of me that hold the tiniest bits of the universe, the parts I'm still trying to figure out.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

If I'm a Muppet then I'm a very manly Muppet.

I dissected my first frog in the seventh grade. But I wasn't just handed a scalpel and a dead frog, oh no. First I had to reconstruct a paper frog, putting all of its various organs in their proper places. To prove my worth. So reconstruct I did, in three dimensions.

7th grade science homework

This is not, in fact, the oldest thing I own. Though I do have some of my mother's and grandmother's jewelry, a James Dickey first edition that I never had a chance to give away, an ancient photo or two, I generally fall in the the Things-You-Own-Own-You Camp. But nothing else remains of my childhood except for this frog. This piece of cardstock marks the very beginning of my origin story; they day I jerry-rigged pop-up frog guts was the day I veered off the well worn path of my peers. It was the day I realized that I am a really, really weird human being.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Age is just a number

I am a hoarder. My mother is a hoarder. My grandmother was a hoarder.

I have an apartment and a garage full of treasures. It’s fairly well organized. And I try to go through it at least once a year to make sure I really need the collection of sentimental t-shirts I’ve never worn. (Spoiler alert: I don’t. So every time I reduce the collection by half.) But it’s still a whole lot of stuff. Old stuff. New stuff. Cute stuff. Ugly stuff I think I can make cute.

My mother has moved four times in four years and yet she’s still managed to collect treasures wherever she goes. Old stuff. New stuff. Stuff on sale that’s just too good to pass up. There is a storage unit in Chicago full of treasures (including most of my childhood stuff and probably several never-worn sentimental t-shirts). There is a house in Oakland with boxes. And there is her current residence which generates it’s own finds.

But my grandmother? We are normal, contributing members of society compared to her. She filled up a mansion in California and then when it was full she bought a farm in Oregon. A farm with over a dozen garages and outbuildings and shacks and sheds. And then she filled them all up.

She went to garage sales and antique malls and flea markets and church rummage sales. She had stuff of value (Mayan furniture) and stuff of nothing (boxes of cheap, empty picture frames). She had journals of her life, her studies, her work in medicine and politics and education, and then printouts of websites.

I’ve inherited some stuff from her and it’s old stuff. I’ve inherited some stuff from my mom and it’s old stuff. I’ve bought some of my own old treasures at garage sales and antique malls and at flea markets. I try to be prudent and non-sentimental as much as possible. And at least mostly organized. But I inherited more than just the stuff. I inherited the love of stuff, of possession, of a few of my favorite things.

I can’t tell you the oldest thing I own cause I own so many things. But age doesn’t matter. I love them all. My stuff is my home.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Too few characters out there, flying around like that, saving old girls like me.


Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, 
cheer them, scream their names. And years later, 
they'll tell how they stood in the rain for hours
just to get a glimpse of the one
who taught them how to hold on a second longer.

Yesterday I saw a man assaulting a woman in the parking lot of a restaurant. She was my server, as friendly as can be. When I walked out the door, she walked out the door, and a man grabbed her, someone she knew, started choking her, threatening her, shaking her so hard I'm surprised he didn't snap her in two. Every instinct inside me told me to hurl myself at that man, to tackle him to the ground, to get him away from her no matter what. But he was jacked up and twice my size and who knows what he had in his pocket. So I called 911, gave a detailed description of what was happening, went home and cried myself sick.

I cried because I couldn't stop him. I cried because I didn't know if the police got there in time to see his hands around her neck, to take him away to jail. I cried because that woman was probably going home to him later, and if he'd choke her in daylight in a crowded parking lot, what would he do behind closed doors? I cried because the system is broken, because where could she go even if she wanted to get away? I cried because a month ago, I had to separate a little girl from her dog to take them to different shelters, because two months ago I walked out of a Manhattan bakery with a five-dollar donut right past a woman who was begging for change, because three years ago I bypassed a homeless woman in Munich who was using her one blanket to cover up her dog, because there's so much misery in this world and I can't do anything to stop the bleeding.

This week's Collective topic is: What's the oldest thing you own?

The oldest thing I own -- or, well, the oldest thing I ever saved up for and bought for myself -- is an autographed photo of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl. It hangs on the wall in my office next to framed prints of Batwoman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel. I've got prints of my favorite non-hero comic book characters dressed like heroes. Prints of my favorite non-hero TV characters dressed like The Doctor and his companion. I've got action figures, mugs, lunch boxes, Hermione's wand, TARDIS replicas, Gandalf's staff, books and books and books and books about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Last night, Amy petted my hair while I sobbed, petted my hair like she's been doing since we were kids. I said the thing I've been saying since I was a child: "If only I were Batgirl ..." And she said the same thing she's been saying for 18 years: "Even if you were, there would always be one more person to save."

Somehow it makes me feel better when she says that. Better because even imaginary heroes are inadequate sometimes. But I surround myself with those guys anyway, like I've always done for forever.

My favorite print I own is of Dean Trippe's "Butterfly." He's the sidekick of a sidekick, less powerful than Birdie who is less powerful than Knight-Bat -- but he's just sweet enough to think ice cream and love can change the world. I don't have a suit of body armor or a tricked-out motorcycle, but I do have sugary snacks. And so much love it breaks my heart into ten billion pieces some days.

If only caramel apples made me fly.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

being this lazy is an artform

Jennie  We went to Mexico last week for my dear friend Mary's wedding and, although it was very relaxing, there were not enough lazy days for my tastes. For you see, if I had my way, every day would be a lazy day.

However, I apparently had enough lazy days for me to forget how to be productive, which is why you are getting the laziest post ever.

Anatomy of a Lazy Day:
  • Wake up, whenever you'd like, no alarms. (I prefer to wake up earlyish to get the most lazy out of my day, but your mileage may vary.)
  • Put on bra (optional)
  • Leave on pajamas (not optional)
  • Make breakfast
  • Sit on sofa with said breakfast
  • Try and ignore the dog staring at you with hungry, pleading eyes
  • Eat breakfast while watching TiVo, Netflix, or your Party Down DVDs for the 18th time
  • Decide to watch only one episode while you eat, then you're definitely going to do something productive
  • Watch one more episode
  • Enter a fugue state in which you finish half a season, realize you're hungry
  • Make lunch
  • Sit on sofa with said lunch
  • Try and ignore the dog staring at you with hungry, pleading eyes
  • Decide to watch one more episode while you eat, then you're really, really going to do something productive
  • Accidentally finish the rest of the season
  • Shower (optional) 
  • Put pajamas back on (not optional)
  • Is it 5 yet? Then it's acceptable to start drinking.
  • Open a beer
  • Go back to the sofa, The Holy Mothership of Lazy Do-nothings
  • Mooooore teeeeeeveeeeeeee
  • Order pizza once your stomach starts growling
  • Have you finished an entire season of TV yet? If not, FOR SHAME. If so, maybe switch to movies. Or not. IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER. 
  • Sit in a stupor until the Arrested Development DVD menu screen lulls you to sleep
And, bonus, Anatomy of a Lazy Day, Mexico Edition:
  • Wake up
  • Put on swimsuit, sunscreen
  • Go to breakfast
  • Head to pool
  • Order margarita
  • Fall asleep
  • Repeat until sun goes down
I almost prefer the Mexico Edition, except there's no TV in that version.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Wake up in the late afternoon

Abs I'm prettiest much the laziest person I know and the only time I can muster any guilt about it is when I've actually made bigger problems from my laziness. Bigger problems that make things harder for other, specifically.

Lazy days are my fuel. I stuff them in the crevices between work-packed days and even between busy mornings and busier evenings. My lazy days have to-do lists unto themselves so I can MAXIMIZE MY LAZY. (I pro-pro-promise you this is not the opposite of being lazy, unless you count prioritize my gaming as productive.)

Without my lazy days (or moments) I become a stress-ball. I get ragey and unreasonable and violent. I do stupid things. I start letting my lazy tendencies seep into the rest of my life and suddenly my work isn't getting done or I'm not using my turn signals or I don't have groceries. I'm not exactly delightful. And then I'm back to making bigger problems for other people and it's all because I didn't get to watch all my shows last Saturday.

Excuse me while I go call in sick to work.

Monday, 5 March 2012

I want to go to there.


My latest, greatest distraction from work these days is Cabin Porn. I have spent countless hours scrolling through the archives of that gem of a Tumblr, crafting elaborate Heather/Cabin fan fiction in my head.

Like, OK. This meet-cute goes: I'm hiking in the north Georgia mountains and I stumble upon this cabin, which happens to be for sale at a reasonable price, which is such a surprise since it has been certified 100 Percent Bear-Free by the DNR. So I buy it and spend every weekend here. Margaret and Scout, they can frolick and chase squirrels. Me and Amy can hike or ride ATVs or explore. And best of all: No internet. Which means: No work. I could just read books and get caught up all the TV on DVD I want to see and be outside, outside, outside in the clean mountain air.

And then there's this guy. I have to take my helicopter here, of course. But again: No internet. And thanks to the weather, I'm not going anywhere. It's just books and soups and chili and crackling fires. For like weeks probably.

And then my cabin home in Middle Earth, so for when I have business in The Shire, etc.

What I'm trying to say is that my wildest fantasies these days involve seclusion with no deadlines or WiFi in sight. Just me and a lot of quiet and quilts and pajamas.

And yet, here I am on a Sunday morning, tucked into bed during a thunderstorm, just drinking tea and reading the newspaper, to which I still subscribe.

But then, it's clunky and it doesn't have all the information I need and also, what did whatever blog say about that story, and what does Twitter think about that thing, and did anyone post some hilarious GIFs about it on Tumblr? Better whip out the iPad and check that shit out and also snap a photo with my Droid while I'm at it. It just makes me wonder: What if I'm so addicted to technology I wouldn't be happy in my True Love Cabins?

Never mind.

I'd sell my soul to spend an unproductive month in that place.