Friday, December 31, 2010

Ending = Beginning

So. It's the last day of 2010. I'm a little sad to see it go. It's been a good year. Pretty evenly balanced, nothing terrible and nothing amazing. But I feel like I kind of caught my breath this year and started to figure some things out. Which of course always leaves me a confused mess, but I guess 2011 will be the cleanup year.

I think this defies all laws of blogging, but I don't think I'm going to write a year-in-review post for 2010. It's possible I'll change my mind and cave in... but you know what? I have no desire to look back. Only forward, from this point on. The past stays in my pocket... lessons learned, moments passed. I know where I've been. I want to know where I'm going. I'm tired of stagnating; no more ruts. 2011 will be the year I take that next step. What that step is, I don't know yet. I just know that it's time. Time to do something awesome, time to be something awesome.

Happy New Year, everyone. See you on the other side. <3

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The World is Telling Me To Start Drinking Coffee Again. Who am I to Argue with THE WORLD?

I've been under this weird cloud of funk for the last few days. It's this generalized winter blargh that makes me feel crappy and unmotivated and unable to move, but not anything so specific of an illness to where I can take drugs to make it go away. So I'm wondering if it's maybe not more rooted in my head than anything actually physically going on in my body. That, or maybe I'm still exhausted from Christmas. Who knows.

Although, as the day wears on, I am forced to think that there is some correlational evidence that suggests that the idea of cutting coffee or coffee-like beverages out of my life was a terrible, terrible idea. I consumed one such beverage today and have been feeling infinitely less zombielike ever since. (IDEA: Coffee cures zombie-ism.) This has also been reaffirmed by the fact that I received not one but two gift cards for Starbucks lo this holiday season.

Anyway. Here is what is in my brain today BECAUSE YOU CARE:

1. Points of clarification from yesterday's post:

While it would be nice to have a boyfriend or other some such male significant other, that wasn't really quite the entire point. I mean, the lack thereof is quite salient in my life, as it tends to be when you are 26 and have been technically single for about five years. Yet: I consider this a bonus item, as I don't actually NEED one of these.

I did not mean to imply that having a man would fix things or that I expected such a thing to happen. As I told Steph... I kind of meant that I wanted my FRIENDS to fix me. If I may be allowed to be so presumptuous. I mean, hell. If I'm going to bare my soul to someone, I'd rather have it be one of my besties than some stranger who is being paid to take notes. I feel like that would be not only more productive, but would, you know, enhance the quality of my friendships. And since one of the things that my therapist and I went round and round on was that I wanted to be able to open up in order to do things like, oh, I don't know, enhance the quality of my friendships... why bother with the middle man, and just skip straight to the heart of the issue? Thus, friendlings, both near and far... I am transferring this responsibility to you, if you are so willing to accept the mission. Don't let me skate by with my patented non-answers. I mean, don't push me to the point where I get overwhelmed and uncomfortable and flustered and cry, but, you know. Baby steps. Make me be a better friend.

As a segue point... I have also had a lot of email exchanges with Megs over the last 24 hours or so (confidential to Megs: notice how I link your blog correctly using the right URL. *wink*)...

If I may excerpt something rather brilliant she said:

I kind of wonder how much you want "a guy" to love you, though. I mean, yes, in theory we all want to be loved, but there's all different kinds of love. And love with a guy can be scary because if you let the walls down and they really love you and then something happens and they leave...they're leaving the real you. If you don't let them know you and love you for who and what you really are it doesn't hurt so bad because you can say, "Well, he never really knew me anyway."

She's right, of course. Being rejected for you who are, sucks. Or would suck, if it was something that I even opened up for. Which I don't. Because... yeah.

I'm not entirely convinced that I haven't had that exact same conversation with myself in my head before. So basically she hit it right on the mark with that one.

I'm going to extend it, though, because while it's completely 100% true and valid regarding SO's... I think, maybe, perhaps, it's the same line of thought that keeps me from opening up to my friends as well? I mean, friends are supposed to stick with you no matter what (in theory) and aren't supposed to reject you and leave you. But they could. And I guess I'm even protecting myself from them, so great is my fear of being rejected.

Because deep down, I know how truly weird I am. I have come to accept and sometimes appreciate my quirks, but I have this lingering fear that maybe others... wouldn't. Couldn't. And so maybe if they knew the truth about me - whatever truth that is, I don't even have a good example - they, too, would maybe decide to move on.

Quite frankly, I can't think of a single thing that would hurt more than that.

ANYWAY, so that's me and my special brand of paranoia, and I want to be done being all gloomy now, so... I'm just going to tuck that away into things to keep in the back of my mind.

As far as all the loose ends I mentioned? In the infamous words of Lorelai Gilmore: "COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE!"

All will be well.


2. I just about hit post and noticed I'd apparently started a bulleted/numbered list. I actually don't have anything else. This is just for my own peace of mind. It would be like leaving an open parenthesis. Can't do it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

i suppose that's what they call "writer's block"...

I've opened so many browser windows over the last few days, ready for all the pent up words to come rushing out, and instead I stare at a blinking cursor before eventually just closing the tab.

I had too much time to think, over the weekend. Christmas generally means an involuntary technology detox; it also means that I have to stuff down my thoughts. I brought my laptop with me, as my dad finally acquired wifi, but all I managed to do was bitch about the snow and post a picture of my cat in an elf suit. (Man, dressed up animals never get old.)

So I'm back, with my head spinning, and no words, stuck in the in-between state where it's almost time to clear the slate for another year. I had high hopes for 2010, and indeed, it was a pretty damn good year. Still, there's always room for improvement, and I need to set my sights on something.

I also feel like I have a LOT of loose ends. Projects never finished. Laundry never put away. Cookie dough still chilling in the fridge, needing to be baked. Dishes needing to be washed. Bills to pay, letters to send, emails to catch up on. Stories started, never finished. DIY projects that clutter up my coffee table. Books to finish before I start yet another. Photos to be emailed or put up on facebook. Roots to be re-dyed. Things that all, individually, are small and easily completed tasks, but when mentally added together, seem like an unsurmountable challenge that I just don't have the energy for. It's easy to say "I should do this" or "this can wait until tomorrow" and hide under blankets watching episodes of The Big Bang Theory on my new TV until it's suddenly past my bedtime and I was supposed to shower but I can do it in the morning.

I feel aimless. And I know a lot of it has to do with my priority list. Work is first, work is always first. Which I have no problems with, until someone drops by my embarrassingly messy apartment, which I wasn't home enough to clean. The push and pull of my outside-work life is exhausting and I am a bit weary of my indifference toward it. Someone told me I was too young to work this much, but the way I see it? Why NOT now? I will never be this driven or ambitious again, I have nothing tying me down or stealing my focus, and dammit, I am so stubborn and determined to be successful - or to be something - that it's probably best that I have a job that can keep me so occupied. I'd be climbing up the walls, otherwise.

So my thirties will be my reward for getting through my twenties, just as my twenties were my reward for getting through my teens. I'll slow down eventually - basic biology indicates such - but I have no desire to hit the brakes now.

I just kind of wonder if that's normal, which I suspect it's not.

And in a completely roundabout segue, last week or whenever I posted last, therapy isn't doing much for me. The comments were pretty unanimous that I should find a new therapist. I was all set to defend him, to place the blame on my own uncooperativeness, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe y'all were right. I'm impossible but not hopeless. The right therapist would push the right buttons, give the right prompts. Maybe not let me stare off at the ceiling so much.

I haven't made an appointment to go back. I'm not sure there's a point.

Right now, though, I think what I need isn't a paid professional so much as a confidant. Someone I can trust and talk to and that, at the end of the day, isn't scribbling down notes, but is my friend. Which, obviously, I have friends, but I've got too many damn walls. I don't know how to fix that. I don't know how to ask anyone to try to help, either.

Related (maybe)... how do you let go of being alone? I'm safe, here. The thought of actually being close and connected to another person makes me kind of nauseated. Even in imaginary-land, trying to picture a completely candid relationship with, well, anyone, leaves me with an unsettled feeling and the desire to hide under the covers. Why is this so fucking scary?? It shouldn't be.

Somewhere out there, is somebody who's equally as neurotic (yet lovable!) who would do quite nicely as my other half. Who I don't have to defend or hide my idiosyncracies from. Who loves me anyway. Who loves me, period.

Though I'm not quite sure what that would look like, as it's never been something I've experienced firsthand.

Maybe I'm not lovable. I don't know. (Neurotic, yes. That's not really even debatable.)

I'm a keen observationalist, and I live vicariously through other people and through books and, hell, even movies - fictional though it may be, someone had to write it, which means someone had to be inspired or have experienced it. It may be a bunch of fantastical bullshit, but it has to be rooted in something. I choose to believe that it is real, that it is out there.

Because the alternative is that I'm going to spend the rest of my life in a small apartment with unfinished chores and unfinished business. A living ghost.

On the plus side, I'll never have to share a closet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Eleven Inches and Counting (of Snow, You Pervs)

So someone must have been dreaming extra hard core of a white Christmas, because holy shit, we are getting buried. I'm currently holed up at my dad's house up in northern Iowa, which, fortunately for me, I don't need to be anywhere for a while.

Which is great, because as of this writing, it has been snowing consistently for eighteen+ hours.

Here, some evidence.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Classy is My Middle Name

Perhaps one of the few joys of winter is that it is the only opportunity I have to pile on a lot of layers and roam in public without a bra on.

Or, you know. At least to Walmart and the grocery store.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas to Me? ;)

Good news, friends. My future husband is back on the market again.

Sorry, ScarJo. Your loss = my gain.





In the interest of journalistic integrity, the second pic was actually Sandra Bullock. Minor details. Whatever, me & Ryan are adorable together. Right? Right.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PSA.

Hey friends, I posted this one other time, but I'm gonna do it again.... because I really, really like to respond to my comments, but in so much as I like to click "reply" when I get an email from Blogger... and when I see the "noreply-comment" pop up in return, I have lots of sads, all at once.

BUT! There is a really quick setting you can change in order to enable me (and other bloggers) to reply. (If you're all weird about people having your email address, just create a secondary one and filter it to your main one)... Ms. Julia explains how to do it here and I'm linking her post again.

Pretty, pretty please? DO IT FOR ME. IF YOU LOVED ME AT ALL, YOU'D LET ME EMAIL YOU.

No, I'm not weirdly desperate or needy or anything.

xoxo

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Click.

I think the biggest problem I've had over the last week or so (I mean, besides the fatigue and the sporadic dizziness and the fact that I haven't been hungry for any sort of solid food since Tuesday), is that involuntarily going off the Pill has sent my hormones running free and I'm in a permanent state of PMS right now.

I want to tear up at the drop of a hat. Just the smallest thought or memory or idea, a snippet of a song, a written phrase... I hate being so emotionally vulnerable right now. Fuck the system, anyway. I mean, I'm TWENTY SIX. I think at this point I should be absolved from needing a piece of paper telling me that I can now be granted access to baby-prevention medicines. (Or, you know, more accurately, since I'm obviously not putting myself in any sort of situations where procreation might be an actual fear, CRAZY-PREVENTION MEDICINES, because, hi, something needs to keep those hormones in check.) Grumble, grumble.

I have mixed feelings about the fact that I cancelled my therapy appointment on Friday. I mean, odds were good I wasn't going to be feeling well ANYWAY, but I suppose I could have made another appointment. I'm just not sure it's doing anything worthwhile. Lots of awkward silences, me staring intently at the northwest corner of the wall, while the therapist sits there, staring unnervingly at me, waiting for me to speak. It's not doing anything for me right now. And perhaps this is because I already know what is wrong with me. And I don't feel the need to talk about it. My brain sorts it all out, breaks it into manageable pieces, and this is how I am still on my feet all these years later.

Basically, I'm therapizing myself, and the actual therapist just nods and agrees with me.

I'm not sure it's really worth $40 a session for a yes-man.

My point is (what? she has a point, folks!) that something shook itself out of my head today while I was driving, somewhere. My brain doesn't wander too much in the winter because it usually goes to OMG SNOW ON THE GROUND ICE EVERYWHERE GRANNY DRIVING MODE ACTIVATE! or something. But somewhere in the funk of the emotocloud that's been hanging over me, something occurred to me, that perhaps had not occurred to me before, and it's obvious and not that interesting but I'm going to talk about it anyway, because this blog is my REAL therapy. Anyway, all my brilliance occurs at stoplights. Or in the shower.

There were actually a couple of things that got knocked loose, but we'll get to those.

The thing that startled me, but shouldn't have, has to do with the fact that I'm so anti-getting-close-to-people.

I have a ton of reasons for this, but the one I never thought of before was:

Because I'm afraid they'll leave me.

I don't do well with letting go. This isn't news. I don't do well with having an aching hole in my heart, with having a void. On a general scale, this is probably why I've gotten so distrustful of change. Because even if something good comes from change, part of me inevitably always tries to hold on to the piece that is going away. All change requires loss. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but, it's there. Even if you're just losing who you thought you were, or losing a bad habit, or losing an old status quo.

Something's always got to give.

But it's more than that. I'm terrified of losing the people close to me. I don't mean, like, under tragic circumstances (though I've been there, done that, and it's always back there in my mind too). That they would simply give up on me, abandon me. Move on. Leave me behind.

On the exterior, I know this is ridiculous. Right now, all the people in my life are where they are for a reason, and nobody is going anywhere (I hope).

But it's emotionally wrenching to tear down all the walls that I involuntarily build, only to be faced with nobody standing on the other side. So I reinforce those walls even tougher, even tighter. Nobody gets through.

Because I don't want to get hurt.

It's selfish, maybe. No relationship is one-way, and by me holding back, they never quite reach the level that they maybe could. (And this is something that I HAVE discussed with my therapist, but we haven't gotten anywhere on it.).

I like to think I'm getting better. But I know I'm just as reserved as ever.

Now, let's take this a step further. Into the general realm of my relationship phobia. It's quite possible that this extended period of solitary is because nobody has really caught my interest; I'm incredibly picky, and I'm waiting for something special. I don't have time to fuck around, people. Go big or go home. If I'm going to invest myself in something substantial, it's got to be promising and it's got to move me in ways I couldn't even see coming.

(The problem is, despite being the scowling, anti-romance cynic, is that I'm actually quite hopelessly romantic at the same time. Maybe we'll discuss this some other time. I'm getting off point, as it is.)

But even the insubstantial ones. They all come and go, don't they? They all leave. They've all left me. Except for the lone instance where I ran away first, I've been kicked aside and passed over and replaced. I mean, to be fair... none of them ever said they'd stay. I was never promised anything of the sort. I'd hate to think how skittish I'd be if that had been the case. I actually have to admit, I've never been on the receiving end of a pile of broken promises; but this is solely because I was apparently never worth promising anything to.

So as it would logically conclude to: why would I trust anyone? They all leave. Everyone, eventually, leaves.

And then I got really psychoanalytical on myself and for the very first time, wondered if any of this had anything to do with that moment in time, ten or eleven years ago, when my mother walked out. I mean, she didn't walk out on ME, she walked out on my dad. It was supposedly quite amicable, even. But she rattled my world, unsettled the safety net of home, redefined everything. I never spent much time thinking about it at the time, I just went with the flow and adapted.

I adapted as she moved around from apartment to apartment, town to town, job to job, man to man. It became a game, something worthy of a tally board. When I tell people the full story, I turn it into a comedy, something lighthearted, but even so, almost always, someone says something like, "wow, you're so well adjusted!"

Am I?

Because I feel like maybe now, now that things have settled enough, I've finally hoisted all that weight off of my shoulders and that poor sixteen year old girl never got a chance to breathe, never got to wrap her head around it, never got the chance to reconcile it. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, and maybe it's not, even now.

But, and I mean no offense in any way to my mother, because she did what she had to do, and was all the more empowered for it, and I don't believe anyone should stay in a miserable, loveless marriage: but she DID, in a sense, abandon our family.

I never minded, never cared. I was busy polishing up my armor that nobody would ever be able to get through. And through the subsequent years of falling on my ass and picking myself up, having to play the parent role against her, having to be my own voice of reason...

I feel like it's all crashing down, now. Now that I explore the words with the keyboard, let those brief, flashing thoughts marinate and become full-fledged feelings.

(Remember that Kelly Clarkson song from way back when, "Because of You"? I'm not sure what it was actually supposed to be about, but I always, always found it to be a parallel of my relationship with my mother. Because of all her mistakes and messes, I was afraid to let my own guard down. I wouldn't let myself repeat the same stupid mistakes she made.

I will not make the same mistakes that you did / I will not let myself cause my heart so much misery

Most of these had to do with her poor choices in men. I'm not even going to pretend otherwise. I watched her become one of those utterly blinded, dependent women who couldn't see the truth when it was spraypainted on the wall in front of her. Who wouldn't listen to reason. Who broke a little more each time.

Because of you / I never stray too far from the sidewalk / Because of you / I learned to play on the safe side / so I don't get hurt

Because of you / I find it hard to trust / Not only me, but everyone around me / Because of you, I am afraid

They were the kind of mistakes that the weak made. And I wasn't going to let myself be weak.

I watched you die, I heard you cry / Every night in your sleep / I was so young, you should have known / Better than to lean on me

You never thought of anyone else / You just saw your pain

Because on some level, I thought she was selfish too. I had to carry her burdens and her heartaches. And this particular refrain of the song stabbed me in the stomach the first time I heard it. Because it was me. Me and her.

And somewhere I will need to close this parenthetical tangent, so, here.)

So now I'm selfish in a different way. The kind of selfish that won't let anyone get close to me, no matter how much I might care about them. On some level, my brain registers caring as a weakness, but no matter. I will not live my life alone and devoid of the closeness that I ache for.

Except I don't know how. I don't know how to be any different than I am. I don't know how to get over whatever lingering resentments from the past still might have a choke hold on me today. And maybe it's a stretch, making all these connections. Maybe it's simply that I'm lonely and I'm afraid to change it because when the end comes, it's lonelier than before. This kind of lonely I can handle. The heartbroken kind, I can't. The kind that comes because someone - friend or lover - decides they want nothing more to do with me? Impossible.

I think I could save a lot of time if I could just make my therapist read my blog. At least we'd have a launching point to start from. I wonder if that's allowed? Hmm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Catmas.

So, to make up for the extremely lengthy and depressing posts of late, I've decided to go ahead and share with you my holiday photo that I ended up using on my Christmas cards.

You're welcome.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Teal Deer: I DID IT. Spoilers, ahoy!

So, I finished them.

I don't even really know how else to start this.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is my previous post on the matter).

I hadn't planned on devoting my weekend to finishing the second two, but the weather outside is horrid and is suited to nothing beyond staying inside, bundled up, reading or sleeping or watching movies. Besides, I was pretty much determined to finish these and be done with them. Sitting here, right now, I guess I'm mostly relieved, just a little shaken. Part of me kind of thought that my initial reaction was heavily due to the fact that I was under a haze of illness when I'd gotten into them... but now I think that this might have happened anyway, regardless of my state.

These books are MESSED UP.

They are messed up, and they stab you right at the heart.

Which is why I think I dislike them. My heart is a very naturally guarded place to begin with, and I was kind of blindsided by how much these stupid books would affect me. Some stranger was able to sweep in, sidestep all the barriers, and stab me where it hurt. Such is the power of a good author, I guess.

I know it's probably just me and I'm a huge sap and I spend more time in la-la land than most and I'm very vulnerable to words and probably the other 90% of people in the world finished these and went, "huh, that was interesting" or "I can't wait to see that turned into a movie" (I am not sure I would see this as a movie. Curiosity might win out, but I'm not sure any of this is stuff I'd want to watch. I'd be interested in the casting, and the costuming (actually, mostly the costuming, given the costumes that were described in Books 1 & 2), and the sets, but holy lord, there's a LOT of violence in these, which is the understatement of the year, and I'm a little squeamish, which is why I don't watch horror movies. I also don't know if I could emotionally handle watching all of this play out again, visually this time.) Probably a small handful is having the weird, flipped out reaction that I am. This is not normal. At least, it's not normal for ME. I don't know how to really explain it.

These books have definitely traumatized me in a way, and yet, I don't think I regret the experience... I just... I don't know. They're going to haunt me for a while. Which is not a feeling I particularly love.

It's something I can respect, though, as far as the quality of the writing goes. For whatever that's worth.

I wrote the majority of this post last night on my crackberry, tucked in under blankets, listening to the wind howling outside and not really being able to see much more than the snow that coated my window, nestled in my cocoon. It was nasty out. So I'm just going to use that, even though when I wrote it, I was only about 200 pages into Book 3, which, quite frankly, was enough. It was only my OCD tendency to not leave anything unfinished that pushed me through it, because I had to force myself to pick it back up again this afternoon.

I mostly knew what to brace myself for, and yet? I was a sniveling mess by the time I reached the 2-page epilogue.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Henceforth, I shall give you my final thoughts on these books, and then we'll be done with it.


***

As miserable as I was, slogging through Book 1 and Book 2, I'm currently in the middle of Book 3 and OMG HATE.

I never thought Book 2 could be so charming. And it really only was in hindsight. I guess I only liked it because Peeta and Katniss were together for the majority of it. That is the ONLY thing I had to hold on to amidst all of the fuckery contained within these pages.

Don't get me wrong, it's brilliant fuckery. Suzanne Collins is quite good with words, and even better at sucking you in with suspense. Every chapter was a goddamn cliffhanger, designed so you couldn't - wouldn't - put it down. Hooray for her. *grumble*

It was, as mentioned, perhaps a poor choice to even attempt to read these while not completely well and rational, and even less smart given that I was off my crazy meds. Still, the beginning of Book 2 actually managed to calm me, and as it continued and finished, I was like, "okay, then." Steady. In need of a conclusion yet, but it was okay. Not terribly traumatizing. I'm also going to award it points for the best last line of a book (and by best, I mean "most chilling".)

Book 3, though... I don't even know. I was very well behaved and didn't jump ahead for the longest longest time, but at some point I realized just how many pages I had left to go, and... GAH.

This book is MADDENING, guys. I have no other word for it.

aaand...

STOP! HAMMER SPOILER TIME!

(What? You knew this was coming, if you have any interest in preserving your innocence and ignorance on the outcome of these books, you are welcome to bookmark this and come back someday when you have read them yourself. Then you can either judge me for being so fucking crazy, or you can join me in a little support group of sorts.)

Anywho.

So most of this book is based around the actual rebellion itself, which I thought might be a nice change of pace (hey, it doesn't involve 24 people being thrown into an arena to kill each other off), but instead it continues to be awful in its own way.

Seriously, guys, as fucked up as things seem in our world right now? Let's never ever let it get to this point. A civil war of any sort would be nothing short of terrifying and I pray I never have to see anything of the sort in my lifetime.

Because that's the other scary part to all this. In theory? It could happen.

But that's not really what I want to get into. Just a side thought. A terrible, awful side thought.

So anyway, Katniss is basically their symbol of the rebellion, since she (however unwittingly) started the whole thing in motion. They basically parade her around as a mascot for a while and then I think the real shit starts right about where I've left off but I'm too annoyed to continue right now.

I also made it this far without skipping ahead and that proved to be a terrible idea* because now I'm just pissed off and I hate everything and I don't like where the book is heading.

*as you may have guessed, I did skip ahead, which was neither a better or worse idea than reading it straight through.

Here are my beefs:

First: yay for Collins that she doesn't get too attached to her characters and is okay with killing them off. By, like, page 5, Cinna is dead, though that was probably a direct result of his last appearance in Book 2. (Fact check: not until Page 12. My bad.) Poor, fabulous Cinna. I mean, I'm glad we didn't have to "watch" his death, but it just seemed to be an in-passing thing. BY THE WAY, ONE OF EVERYONE'S FAVORITE CHARACTERS IS DEAD, NO BIGGIE, LET'S CONTINUE.

Secondly: my poor, beloved Peeta. He was my favorite. I like Katniss tons, of course, and I was sad to see them off Cinna (see: point 1), I think Gale is well-written and a legitimate cause for her emotional conflict, and shit, I even like the character of Haymitch, too, though I'm not sure how likeable he is supposed to be. I was fond of Johanna and Finnick, who appeared in Book 2 (I'll let you guess what happens to them) and a smattering of the other secondary characters as well. The secondary characters are all pretty endearing, really.

But poor Peeta... he gets abused in these books. In Book 1, he merely gets his heart broken... Book 2, he spends largely injured and useless, but still adorable, and, importantly, alive, and Book 3? Well, where I'm at now, he's been captured and tortured and has been mentally/chemically altered so that he is programmed to hate/fear Katniss and can't quite clearly separate out what actually happened to what didn't. His first reunion with Katniss is to attempt to kill her, and for a long time, he doesn't get any better. He's empty and hostile, and painful to read. Katniss is obviously devastated by this, but I think at about this point, she's starting to figure out that Collins has got it out for her her whole world is going to continue to collapse in on her, and the best she can do is carry on with what she needs to do.

You know who else's heart is broken by all this? OH YEAH, MINE.

YOU RUINED MY FAVORITE CHARACTER, SUZANNE COLLINS. I TRUSTED YOU.

From what I've seen with my skipping ahead, he gets betterish, but is not the same wonderful adoring Peeta from the beginning, and this is painful to me because he was the only source of relative sanity for me in these stupid crazy books.

Ugh.

Let's talk about poor Katniss, too, shall we? She's a brilliant protagonist, and like I mentioned before, she's written to be flawed, to be human. Her entire world is ripped away from her, destroyed, and handed back to her to deal with. Not only was she subjected to a harrowing fight-to-the-death "game" twice (oh yeah, in Book 2? In revenge, the Capitol decides to pull the contestants from the previous winners, to prove a point, to crush the illusion of hope.), but after she survives this, she is thrown into a deadly military uprising. SHE'S ONLY A TEENAGER. She's clever, yes, and tough, but... damn.

So she sucks it up and plays their game, because what else is she going to do, but I think her sanity does start to chip away, and there's multiple sections where I feel like she's descended into full-scale crazy. Not that kind of crazy that I joke about being, but the kind of madness that this sort of trauma can drive you to. Like PTSD times a hundred.

I mean... geez, Collins. After all you've put her through, you can't give her a better ending? I'm not done yet, so this may be a misguided train of thought, but I can't imagine I'm far off. She gets used as a pawn and she knows she has been the entire time, but her options are limited, and eventually starts to question whose pawn she is. And shit keeps getting worse and worse and I finally got so mad I just put down the book. If I were Katniss, I would have offed myself about twenty pages ago. On one hand, it's interesting to watch her mental state deteriorate under all this insanity, on the other? She's had to deal with more than anyone should ever have to, and it's just painful to live it through her eyes.

Mostly, I'm still pissed that Collins broke Peeta and made him not the kind, sweet, lovable boy from the beginning, but a hollow shell that is none of those things anymore. There are so few truly likeable characters in this book anyway... and the ones that are, they get killed or maimed, or, well, mostly just killed.

I realize that part of being a writer is to tell a provocative, unexpected story.

Collins achieved that in Book 1, and then some. She proved her point. Well done, here's a gold star. Why must she carry on with this miserable story? Book 3 seems unnecessarily painful, and I realize it's just fiction, but cut us a break, woman. At the end of the day, I think most of us just want a happy ending.

Technically, the very end is okay. It's all I read at Target before I bought both books (that's how bad it is, guys! I couldn't even wait for Amazon, even though I would have saved like $3-4 per book!) and it placated me enough to not want to jump ahead. Peeta and Katniss end up together but not until, like, the very last page before the epilogue, and it's unclear whether either of them are really "normal" or not again (likely: no). So this was all I was hanging on to as shit got worse and then they ruined Peeta and I'm just like what the holy fuck is all this madness?!

OH, and it gets worse! Kat's little sister dies, I think. Her poor little sister, that this whole thing started because she wanted to save her, gets killed off somewhere in there, in the middle, towards the end, I'm not sure. I haven't actually gotten to that point yet. AND I think she was taken out by a bomb that Katniss's best friend/almost lover/probable soulmate Gale helped design, so naturally she will never be able to disconnect the two. I mean, I was Team Peeta all the way, but I would have been okay with her ending up with Gale.

*post-reading edit: Katniss actually watches her sister die. She struggles with figuring out who was responsible, but it really doesn't matter, because her sister is dead. She stumbles around in a zombie-like daze for, I don't know how long, not speaking, just existing, and here is where you can really see some of that insanity set in.

There's a slight chance that when I weave all these together in my brain by finishing the story consecutively, it might be okay. But I don't even want to know what other horrible things Collins has buried in there first. I just want to be done with it so I can move on to something happier.

Funny, though. There's a line toward the beginning of Book 2, where Katniss laments that she just wants to be done with the whole thing (they parade the victors of the Games around like celebrities, by the by. The best part is that they get to see the families of the other tributes they've killed! Isn't that so exciting and fun!), and the older lady she is talking to says to her: "You've got to go through it to get to the end of it." and I even stopped on that line at the time because it could have very well been not aimed at Katniss at all, but at the poor soul who was holding the book. (Good advice for every day, though, too. So there's that.)

Almost there, almost there.


****

HELLO AND WE'RE BACK, to Sunday evening, wherein I have just actually finished the damn thing!

Part of me was glad I skipped ahead a bit, because it made finishing the book more of a chore than a completely emotionally zapping experience, but even so, I was not really prepared for the fact that even though I was mentally braced for it to be awful, there were actual tears ON MY FACE and dammit, guys, it takes a lot for a book to make me cry. Nothing used to be able to penetrate me, not movies, not books. I think movies cracked me first. Not sure what the first movie was that broke me, but ever since then, I'm a lost cause. I cry at Pixar movies. (Up, anyone?). Books are more rare, but given the right situation, in the right authors hands, I've had tears come to my eyes before.

But the parts of this book that got me, got me bad. My throat was tightened and I was trying not to let it get to me, but figured, what the hell, these things sometimes happen. So I cried. There, I admit it. These books made me cry.

This probably goes without saying, but there are far, far too many passages and moments that happened over the course of these that cut at me, mostly the ones with Peeta and Katniss or with Katniss and Prim (her sister).

But, I can easily identify two of the passages at the end that did me in, one where Gale basically comes to say goodbye, and Katniss is staring into the mirror, wondering about the life they might have had if things had turned out differently...

Gale comes up behind me and we examine each other's reflection. I'm searching for something to hang on to, some sign of the girl and boy who met by chance in the woods five years ago and became inseparable. I'm wondering what would have happened to them if the Hunger Games had not reaped the girl. If she would have fallen in love with the boy, married him even. And sometime in the future, when the brothers and sisters had been raised up, escaped with him into the woods and left [District] 12 behind forever. Would they have been happy, out in the wild, or would the dark, twisted sadness between them have grown up even without the Capitol's help?

I think that was actually their last scene together. Surprisingly, Collins lets Gale live, but they are too damaged to ever be together again, and their friendship just sort of... dies. Another casualty of this whole heinous mess.

Then later, more towards the end, when Katniss is back in District 12, alone, and her sister's cat shows up and she is screaming at it to go away, that Prim's never coming back, and just collapses in a heap, sobbing, and then the cat, that has always disliked Katniss in return, sits beside her and cries with her and then protects her like he used to do for the sister. (This is all on page 386 and it broke my heart into even tinier little pieces, I'm not going to retype it here, but DAMN IT ALL.)

Peeta, for the most part, I'm going to go ahead and decide that he made his way back to his normal self. There is no strong evidence to the contrary, and quite frankly, I'm going to take that small liberty in order to make something about these books redeeming. He didn't get much proverbial screentime towards the end, because it was largely focused on Katniss's internal struggle, but he seemed to be inching back to sanity, he knew he was helpless against whatever had been done to him. The whole bit with the parallel scenes of Katniss begging Peeta to stay with her, and his one word reply ("always") nearly killed me. The first one happens in Book 2, when Katniss is drifting off into a medicated unconsciousness and holds Peeta's and and whispers at him to stay, but couldn't make out his response, and you don't find out what his response even was until Book 3, when Katniss is coming out of some sort of daze (seriously, you could make a drinking game: every time Katniss wakes up in a hospital, DRINK!), and I about wanted to turn it into Book on Fire* at that point, but it happens again while Katniss is trying to pull Peeta back to her, out of his madness, and begs him, again, to stay with her, and that's his response, even though who even knows if he remembers the last one. Always. OMG, guys. I got stuck on that page (PAGE 314 IF YOU'RE INTERESTED) for a long time, not wanting to move forward.

*HAHA inside joke. Girl on Fire. Book on Fire. GET IT. I'm opposed to burning books, BTW.

Anyway. It ends. The very end is good enough for me, I suppose, if I hadn't been so incredibly traumatized (I'm recycling words now, I have nothing else) by the thousands of pages that came to that point. Ever the master of the final line, whether it be of a chapter or a book, Collins nails it home, and we're done, and I don't even know what to take from all this because I can't even process it all (please keep in mind, I read ALL THREE of these books in pretty much an exact week, give or take the first chapter or so that I'd started last Saturday, so that is a LOT of horror to wrap one's brain around, but like a bandaid, better to do it quick than to let it linger), and now we're done and I can breathe again, and I need to find something else to read or do or watch. I wonder if the roads are okay enough for me to venture out. Fresh air would be delightful.

I would also just like to disclaim: I hate these books because they moved me, they unsettled me, they made rusty parts of my emotion hurt. In this respect, they are very good books. Collins is a great author. I am not trying to insult these in any way, I am just very cranky that they had such an effect on me.

Also, I'm a huge baby.

Also, I think I'm going to let Amazon continue to pick out my book recommendations from now on. I've got it trained to show me humorous memoirs. I think I'm about due for some Chelsea Handler or something.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kelly Reads "The Hunger Games" (of which the subtitle should be: "Gah! WTF! Why?")

I just finished reading The Hunger Games, and I am unsettled.

I was going to ignore these books completely; the series registered on my radar as another YA novel with a cult following, and I am so beyond exhausted at being subjected to the Twilight madness, that I had no interest in knowing anything about them, at all.

If done right, I do enjoy the YA genre, I'm aware that I'm far too old for them now, but as a writer, that's generally where all my attempts at storytelling probably would have fallen. It's probably why I read so much when I WAS in that bracket; there's something I can't quite put my finger on about it, but something about the immediacy of action in those sorts of books, when you're a teenager, everything is urgent and huge and the world is this vast place and infinitely more interesting than when you are a jaded, dull adult, working your 9-5, your dreams and passions slowly dying inside you as the mundane settles in over you.

Even so, I had no interest in these books at all. AS PER USUAL, everything that gets triggered in my life is because of THE INTERNET. I believe it was both Cleolinda and Megs that pushed me in the direction of Mark (of Mark Reads Harry Potter fame, which I have not read yet because that is a giant undertaking) (also of Mark Reads Twilight, which I did read, which made me so irrationally angry at Stephenie Meyer and Twilight fans and I can't even process my thoughts about it yet but my lighthearted snark at the whole series has been clouded over with genuine disdain and disgust, at the themes and subtext that is apparently VERY PRESENT in all of them, so much so that I can't even have fun at their expense anymore, but we'll get to that eventually), who is now, of course, reading The Hunger Games.

I made it about through about ten of his chapter reviews before I was all FUCK THIS I AM GOING TO READ THE DAMN BOOK MYSELF because I was antsy and impatient. I ordered it on Amazon with some Christmas gifts (free shipping!) and waited for a small eternity (it was about four days or something. But it felt like it took longer than normal) and it happened to arrive the day I was heading up to my dad's, so I tossed it in my bag with the other book I'd been reading to occupy myself until it showed up, and figured I'd be able to devour a good chunk of it on my vacation from the world.

I didn't really hesitate before diving in, which was probably best. I knew it was supposed to be twisted and dark and horrifying, none of which are things that set well with me, because I get very emotionally vulnerable when I read*, but I'd already gotten a good glimpse at part 1 and figured I was too far into it to really concern myself with it now.

*There are absolutely 2 things I hate about reading books. The 1st, is that I am not a patient person (shocking!) and books, by nature, take longer to get through than, say, watching a movie. I am a very quick reader, but if it's a story I'm really engrossed in, it takes me longer, because I soak up every single word and let them roll around in my brain. You only get one first reading; when everything is new and exciting and makes you flip through the pages and give up on sleep so you can get closer to the resolution. I have been known to flip ahead a few pages and then jump back to my place simply because I can't stand it anymore, and I always feel a bit guilty when I do this, but I HAVE TO KNOW. The 2nd is that I get much more emotionally drawn in and invested in books than I do any other medium; we all know how much I am a word person, I'm a writer for God's sake, words are everything in my world. But I'm just as affected by them whether I am the one using them or the one on the other end. And as such, they get to me, more than probably anything else.

It's been a hell of a long time since I've been this affected by a book, though. Where I was so drawn into it that I was distracted by it in my off-hours away from it, where thoughts of it haunted the rest of my consciousness, where I finished it and I STILL don't have the closure I want. Of course, that last part is probably due to the fact that this is a trilogy and there are TWO MORE BOOKS, guys. I don't know how I'm going to make it.

The premise of the book is that it is set in some sort of dystopian future version of America (I love me books on dystopias and utopias, I don't even know why), it doesn't really give much back story as to how it got that way, but it's very much a totalitarian leadership and the citizens have pretty much accepted this and do what they do, living their lives, this blanket of fear draped over them at all times.

The center piece of the book, is, naturally, The Hunger Games. It's an annual event where the Capitol basically reminds everyone how weak they are compared to the government and how futile it is to resist them. They draw two names from every district - there are twelve, the thirteenth having been destroyed in the last attempt at a rebellion - a boy and a girl, called "tributes" who are basically a sacrifice from each district, who are then taken to a big ol' arena to basically fight to the death. As soon as someone turns twelve, they are eligible, all the way until they are eighteen.

Teenagers, guys. Teenagers pulled from their homes and forced to kill each other... while the entire country is forced to watch on television. This is what they can do to you. It's sick and twisted but I've become so desensitized by all the other media I've consumed that this concept doesn't bother me like it should... it just seems like, of course, something an inherently evil ruling body would do.

STOP HERE IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS. I AM GOING TO SPOILER-FY THIS LIKE IT'S MY JOB. You've been warned.

(However, there will be lots of verbal flailing. So you might enjoy that, also.)

The protagonist is a sixteen year old girl named Katniss, who has basically been keeping her family from starving to death after her father is killed in a mine accident. The story is told in first person (which irritates Mark, but I think works given the story - it lends a sense of immediacy and heightens the anxiety because she deoesn't have the ability to see what's going on outside what is directly happening to her. It is terrifying). It opens on the day of the "reaping" which is when they draw the names.

Katniss's younger sister, who is twelve, and should have been safe, given the odds of how the system is set up, is chosen. Given that her sister is really the only thing that motivates Katniss, her real only reason for doing anything she does, her only real reason for living, when it comes down to it, Katniss is momentarily stunned and then does the only real thing she can do to save her: she takes her place.

The boy that is drawn is someone Katniss vaguely knows; a boy that, when she was beyond rock bottom, gave her hope by giving her some bread. Even though it cost him a beating from his mother, he reached out and helped her, and that gave her the strength to figure out how to survive.

They go to the Capitol and the first section is all of the pre-Game stuff that they apparently do. It is distraction from what lies ahead of them; the sheer terror of the fact that all but one of the twenty four participating in these opening events will be dead within mere weeks. The fact that they have absolutely no idea where they will end up as far as the atmosphere of the arena, what they will have to work with, and so on. The last few pages before the Games officially start is pitch-perfect in terms of the apprehension - I picked it up in both Mark's review and in the book itself, those last few minutes, the waiting, knowing that any minute, she is going to be released into the arena where hell awaits her. All she can do is sit in silence and hold her stylist's hand and wait.

Katniss does have an advantage; she has been hunting for years and knows how to get by without much for food. She is extremely tough. She also has a brilliant team on hand (they all get entourages to help them through this - because even though they are all going to brutally murder each other in a few days, the audience in the Capitol revels in all the showmanship, because to them? It is merely entertainment. Sick.) and they set her up to leave an impression on the crowd. She scores the highest in training which gives her hope that maybe she can procure a sponsor or two (yeah, people naturally place bets, it's a sport, and they can sponsor the tribute they think will/can win, and as such, they can send them things into the arena, food, supplies, etc, to help them out). She's from the poorest and most hope-deprived district, District 12. They have only one past winner in any recent history, who is by default their mentor, who is supposed to help them prepare. Time and probably the futility of it all, watching the District 12 tributes die year after year with no hope, has turned their mentor into basically a hopeless alcoholic, but he sees some hope with Katniss and her other tribute, Peeta, and puts down the bottle enough to help them. Having no choice but to implicitly trust him, she is very much at the mercy of the outside world.

All told from her perspective, it's the realism that makes it even more horrifying. She is a flawed character, she has a temper and jumps to conclusions that maybe aren't correct, but this just adds to the realism of it... which just makes it worse. OH MY GOD THE ANXIETY THIS STUPID BOOK CAUSES. Seriously.

I'm not going to play-by-play the entire book, because, well, if you want to read it yourself, do so. I don't want to entirely ruin it, even though, if you're reading this far, I probably am. Suffice it to say, we know Katniss is going to win, because there are two more books. The summaries on Amazon were really spoilery and that kind of annoyed me, because this was before I started reading and started spoiler-ing things for myself by skipping ahead. But it was kind of a relief, in a way, to know that both Katniss and Peeta both make it through, though how they get there is still incredibly agonizing.

It's the romance that pops up that kills me most.

Here is this sixteen year old girl, fighting for her life, and she knows that playing up this pretend romance between her and her other tribute (who professed his love to her during the pre-Games interviews, which instantly made them a crowd favorite and gave her a boost, and even though she viewed this as a strategic ploy, I couldn't help but feel it was genuine on his part), because being in love, or the illusion thereof, is one of the few things that kept her - them both - alive. It won the hearts of their sponsors, giving them a boost. And as it unravels, I feel her inner conflict, because she does truly care about him, but at the same time, she can't sort out what's real and what's not, she won't have time to do that until (if) she gets home.

It becomes obvious that Peeta, whose strategy going in to these Games has been to protect Katniss, is, in fact, genuinely in love with her, and always has been. In a really sad twist of luck, these Games were really the only chance he ever had to show her, to speak to her, to let her know. Tragic.

Initially, I enjoyed the reprieve, the change of pace. It was endearing and adorable.. but it seemed so... off... compared to the rest of the book. It started to go longer than I felt it maybe should, but in retrospect... it was setting up an important plot point that had a lot to do with how things ended in this book (and probably over into the next two, I don't know). Suzanne Collins was very deliberate; I shouldn't have questioned it, she had a point to it, but... the longer it went, the more anxious I got*. The momentary pause in the madness, the death, the chaos... it couldn't last much longer, and then we'd be back to it again. Only worse, because now we were emotionally invested in these people, which I'm sure most of us were before, but worse now.

*Some part of me is very, very curious as to what Mark will have to say on all this. Oh, Internet. You win again.

The final scene of the Games was predictable; after promising that they could both go home if they were the last two left standing, they pull the plug on that and essentially pit them against each other. Katniss and Peeta are not surprised by this; they've been set up to create the most dramatic ending in the history of these twisted, twisted games. The two young lovers, star-crossed to the very definition of the word, forced to a situation where one must kill the other.

Peeta - Peeta, who grew on me wholeheartedly through the book, Peeta who genuinely IS in love with Katniss - obviously won't do it. But Katniss finds she can't, either. She worked so hard to keep him alive, and it's not just guilt or a sense of morality that prevents her (though these things, too) - I think she genuniely does care. They're locked in a stalemate that undoubtedly the people at the Capitol are beside themselves with, ultimate entertainment.

Only one of them can go home. They have to have a winner. Just one. Peeta begs Katniss to do it, to take it, for him.

Katniss pulls out the poisonous berries that had taken out one of the other final opponents earlier. Half to Peeta, half to herself. It would be the ultimate slap in the face to the Gamemakers and the Capitol, a double suicide. No winner. I know this is in the back of her mind, but also - after what they've been through, she can't leave Peeta behind. And he most definitely wouldn't leave her behind. He would kill himself before even entertaining the possibility of killing her.

They stop them right as they take the berries, before they can swallow them, and are forced to declare them both the winner.

They are taken back to the Capitol and they go through the usual closing ceremonies, if you will, but the Capitol is pissed. Their wrath is targeted at Katniss - it was her idea - because she upstaged them, outwitted them. She not only won their Games, but she won against THEM.

Their advisor tells Katniss that she is in trouble unless she can convince them that she did it because she was out of her head in love, not to be subversive. Everyone buys it - probably. For now.

The end is heartbreaking, because when Peeta questions Katniss, he finds out the truth, at least the truth as Katniss feels it. She's confused, she obviously cares about him, but not in the same way he does. She breaks his heart; but what is worse? A broken heart, or death? She saved him by pretending; she saved them both. I don't feel like it was a lie, per se, but it's a lot. She broke his heart but she saved his life.

And this is the point I am stuck on, as that's where the book ended, and I have nothing else to grasp at until I start the next one.

Because, you have to remember, she is only sixteen. Being a sixteen year old girl is an emotional minefield anyway, but to have the kind of burden on your shoulders that she does? I could emphasize with her completely, and my heart hurt for her. For her and Peeta both, because I want them to be together, I want her to love him the way he loves her, but I know that she can't, not fully, not now.

The book wraps up and once again I found myself cursing the fact that there are TWO MORE, because I am not patient and I don't like being hung in suspense, and I resisted the urge to go to Target and buy the next one, but I realized that (a) I needed to get out of bed and eat something, and (b) I had to go pick up a prescription anyway. My willpower is not something to be admired.

I was only going to buy the second one, because at this point, I knew I would do one of those things were you flip ahead to see what happens and then go back and read through it (does anyone else do that?). I feel like this makes me a terrible person but I just.. gah.

I stood in the book aisle at Target and opened the second book - look, I just wanted to know if Katniss and Peeta lived through the whole damn series, and what became of this romance - and I was not pacified enough so I opened Book 3 and flipped through that, and so then I knew I had to buy them both because as soon as I tore through Book 2, I was going to start in on Book 3, and there was really no point in waiting to buy it until I was done, and, whatever.

They're both sitting there, in their bag, now, as I type this up, because I'm still horribly, horribly unsettled, and I am going to shower and curl back up in bed, and then start Book 2 and see how far I make it before I force myself to sleep and get up and go through my day tomorrow because these books are having a stupid, annoying affect on me, and I will admit that on some level I am impressed, because it's been a reallllly long time since this has happened, as I said earlier... but mostly I'm annoyed. I don't like being vulnerable or unsettled. Which is why I run full-force away from any sort of thing in real life which does the same.

It's gonna be a long week, guys.


EDIT: I started reading the second book, and it had a strangely calming effect on me. I mean, I got through about 80 pages and it became apparent that I was not going to get through the whole thing in one night, so I did that thing I do where I skipped ahead and so I got a pretty good idea of where the book was headed (brilliant, actually - once I resumed my spot, I was looking forward to getting there the "normal" way to see how it actually all unraveled.) So I went to bed with a rather peaceful feeling and I was still sick the next day and so I had really nothing else to do but read more and then the ANXIETY! came back EVEN THOUGH I already knew how it ended but DAMMIT SUZANNE COLLINS I HATE YOU because I have been so emotionally drawn in to these stupid books that being off all my medications and letting my anxiety and hormones have full run of my body is making me fucking crazy, and then you throw on this INCREDIBLY INTENSE story on top of it, and... it's not healthy, I'm sure of it, and I'm sure it's not making me feel any better any faster, but I'm too far into it now.

The sooner I can get out of Collins's terrifying fantasy world and back into my own, the better.

But I've still got a book and a half left in front of me before that can happen.

Holy shit, guys. That's all I have to say.

Friday, December 10, 2010

So, I'm still here.

So because I probably jinxed myself with my last post, I have spent the last few days in a miserable haze of Not Well.

I honestly don't even know what it was that was/is/has been wrong with me, though I suspect it's probably a combination of things.

When I left work on Tuesday (was it Tuesday? yeesh), I was feeling a bit overheated and flushed, though I figured it was probably due more to the fact that someone had jacked up the thermostats in the building and I sit in the far corner where all the heat apparently collects. I woke up on Wednesday with a sore throat and a general feeling of what can only be described as "crappy". I did attempt to crawl out of bed and shower at about 2pm, which was a terrible, terrible idea, and I really only made it as far as my bedroom door before turning around and reaching the safety of my covers.

It didn't help that the temperature in my bedroom is incredibly inconsistent, due to the fact that I have NO CONTROL over it, as it is set for the whole house, and the thermostat is in possession of my neighbors. As such, I alternated between being too hot (kick off the covers) and cold enough where I could snuggle back up with them again. I even got out the thermometer to make sure I wasn't sporting some awesomely high temp, but that was normal. Go figure.

Thursday morning, I drug myself out of bed and tried to avoid going back into my bedroom because it was absurdly hot in there. I got ready for work, remembered I had a meeting, changed into something nicer looking, and made it about an hour and a half before I couldn't stand it anymore. I was so miserable that I just wanted to cry with each "one last thing" I tried to get done before I left. So then I went home and curled up on my bed, trying to get my stomach to calm the fuck down and trying to wish myself into a state of unconsciousness. When I woke up at 1:30, it felt like I'd been out pretty solidly.

So, today, I managed to drag myself to work a little before noon today and I'm incredibly shaky but I had to force myself out of my apartment, because, GAH. Misery.

Now, let's add in some other factors.

I probably did not drink enough water post-massage on Monday, so it's very probable that I've got the toxins they warned me about, having a free-for-all in my system.

My extension of an extension request to my old home doctor's office was rejected because they are soulless bastards who won't humor me until I make an appointment to come in to have my ladyparts prodded, when in all actuality, I have an appointment set up down here, but the soonest they could get me in when I made said appointment was the 14th, so I knew I was kind of SOL on my Rx, but I was hoping that they'd still be kind enough to extend it for me until then. Which they did, once. But not twice. So when I went to go pick it up on Wednesday, it was unsurprisingly rejected. Super.

So I'm now officially off the pill until next week, which is not a big deal at all, except for the fact that I have not been off the pill in seven years, and I'm pretty sure my hormones are officially jacked up. Which is my only explanation for the fact that the mere act of dragging myself out of bed this morning resulted in tears.

That, and I haven't eaten anything more than a bowl of cereal since Tuesday, and I'm shaky and weak, but, whatever. I'm a huge baby when I'm sick.

My quality time with my bed has probably also resulted in my forgetting to take my OTHER meds, which means my anxiety is off the charts right now, and all that stress tends to shoot straight to my stomach, which has been incredibly unsettled since Wednesday. Every once in a while, it crosses my mind that I should eat, but the thought of food makes me want to vomit, so I haven't.

Add to that, the incredibly traumatizing books I've been reading in my spare time lately (because what else is there to do when you're home sick?) and I swear to you, about half my anxiety has probably been triggered by these. It's been a ridiculously long time since I've been emotionally affected by a piece of goddamn fiction, but.. holy shit. (I started writing one post about these already and haven't published it yet, I will soon, they are MESSING WITH MY HEAD. I kind of brushed off the fact that they were so dark and twisted before I started, because I am usually not affected by such things, but that kind of bit me in the ass. As soon as I finish these, I am going to tear into the fluffiest, dumbest piece of chick lit I can find.)

Anyway. I just thought I would update y'all because I'm a giant pile of pathetic right now (but at least I showered today!) and this Gatorade I bought today to try to put something in my system is actually making me feel worse. WHAT THE FUCK. I AM NOT A HAPPY CAMPER.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ferris Has Nothing On Me, aka My Day Off

It may come as a huge shocker to all of you, but I rarely take days off by choice.

Usually I end up taking an involuntary vacation day when my body protests at the very thought of moving or being upright. Honestly, if it weren't for sick days, I'd probably waste all the PTO that I am entitled to.

And yet, this doesn't really bother me. Because even when I'm not at work, I'm usually thinking about work, and this makes me antsy and then I may as well just BE at work.

I know, there is a good chance there is something wrong with me.

BUT! I took the day off today. No real reason, just because.

In theory, I could have done something useful like clean my apartment or finish my holiday shopping or wrap presents. (To be fair, like I said yesterday, I think it was yesterday anyway, I'm almost done with my xmas shopping but I still managed to waste an obscene amount of money today on random shit for people. I liked it better when I was scroogey. It was more financially advantageous.) Or I could have done something completely un-useful like sleep all day and read a book.

Or, I could do something fun for myself.

So I went and got a massage. (And then I shopped. And went and ate lunch BY MYSELF because I am a GROWN UP. To be fair, it was only Panera, which I only went to because I was entitled to a free pastry with my new loyalty card thing.)

I've never had a massage before. And it seemed like the perfect thing to do on my day off.

I had a vague idea of what to expect when I got there, and normally being in new situations where I don't really know the protocol makes me nervous and anxious (WHAT IF I END UP LOOKING LIKE AN IDIOT?) but the girl who did my massage was super nice and kind of explained how it went and what to do and then left the room so I could change. Or, you know, get nekkid. I think it speaks a lot to how far I've come as a person that I had no hesitation in stripping down to my skivvies and hopping up on the table-bed thing. I mean, whatever. That's what people DO.

I was thinking about this as she came back in. Because I am so horrendously self conscious about myself, especially right now, at this weight, when I am now seeing numbers on the scale that I have NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN MY LIFE. And, you know. I used to be super shy and modest. I think the modesty kind of just gave way to embarrassment at how I look, or something. I don't really know. I just know that she said that most people go down to their undies, and I kind of shrugged to myself and went, makes sense to me, and did exactly that.

The table was heated, I noticed this immediately upon crawling on top of it and pulling the blankets up over me. I think it was a giant heating pad or something. I kind of nestled my face into that pillow-thing and decided that even if I just got to lay here for an hour on the warm table, I was completely cozy and content.

She started on my neck and back, and it was already a hundred bajillion times better than the "massage" that the chick at the chiropractor tried to do for five minutes that one time. That hurt like a bitch. This... felt much better, although there were some spots that were mildly ouchy when she pressed on them, but probably becuase they were the most epic knots of all time, because, hi, I'm high strung and stressed out all the time and whatever.

She then moved down and worked on my legs, and I was very relieved that I had had the foresight to remember to shave my legs that morning. That would have been embarrassing. Then she did my arms and my palms and then came back and worked on my neck some more before she put a hot towel under my neck and told me to take my time getting up and to use the towel if needed to kind of wipe myself off. Most of the lotion had absorbed into my neck and back, but there was a pretty heavy film still on my legs.

The whole time, I actually let myself let go and relax. I tried to think of how often this happens, and the answer is: probably never. Even when I'm "relaxed" I'm still pretty tense. When I got up afterwards, though, I swear I felt better than I ever have.

And yet.... and yet. I couldn't help but be a little self conscious with each part of me that she was working on. She could see - and had to touch! - my back fat. My ugly beat up shins. My stupid fat arms. I don't think there was a single part of me that she touched where I didn't mentally flinch. (Except my neck. As far as necks go, I think mine is pretty all right. No beefs there.) I reminded myself that she was a professional and probably didn't care, and probably saw people that were even "worse" than myself, but... exposing those parts of me that I hate, that I prefer to keep hidden... it bothered me, a little. It was actually kind of distracting, and I forced myself to stop obsessing over something that couldn't be helped, so I could just enjoy it.

When I was leaving, she told me to drink lots of water and reminded me that part of the Groupon deal was that I got 10% off for the next year (I only vaguely remembered that part, but, AWESOME). I think for my own well-being... I might have to do this regularly. Not all the time, of course, I can't really afford that. But I think it would be a good investment in myself. So, you know. Periodically.

Apparently the water-drinking is to help flush out all the toxins that they release when they do their voodoo magic, I don't know. Someone on facebook told me the same thing. I didn't question it at all, but I spent the next hour or so wandering around shopping, and then when I got home curled up for a 2-hour nap. So not a lot of water drinking occurred in that span, though I'm trying to drink it now. Parts of my neck and back are a little sore, I don't know if it's because of my poor direction-following or just because the various muscles back there got stimulated earlier, I'm not really surprised either way.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, I treated myself to something nice AND took a day all to myself AND it was awesome. And I am all refreshed and set to go back to work tomorrow, and then it's full speed ahead until the holidays!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

You CAN Go Home Again. And They Let You Do Laundry There.

I'm not sure why this is, but any time I feel like I need a vacation, I usually find myself up at my dad's house, which also happens to be the house I grew up in. Part of this, I'm sure, is the ability to absolutely as much free laundry as I want... the other part is, it's almost like staying at a bed and breakfast, for free. Quaint little small town, cozy house, NOW WITH WIFI (YES I KNOW MY DAD HAS FINALLY JOINED US IN THE 21st CENTURY. He even has a 3-D TV now. I don't even know who he is anymore). I get fed, I can sleep in my old bed, the only other place in the world where I can get quality sleep besides my current bed, and the rest of the world pretty much leaves me alone.

Well, they pretty much have to, since nobody can find me here.

I took Monday off just to take a breather before continuing to run at full speed towards the completion of a big project, while there was still time to do so, and mostly because I was in dire need of doing some laundry, so after a productive day of bridesmaid-dress-shopping, I loaded up my car and off I went. I made it half a block before turning around and grabbing my laptop, because I had stuff I wanted to DO, and my dad has wireless now, hence, why I am blogging, because there ain't no way I am letting this pop up in his browser history.

I'm also looking quite forward to my $30 massage that I snagged yesterday now that Des Moines finally got Groupon (holla!). And then... and then maybe I'll wrap Christmas presents, since the second batch (aka everything I ordered online) has pretty much come in by now.

That's right, kittens, I am 90% DONE with my Christmas shopping.

I'm like the anti-me from last year, who was crankypants about Christmas the whole freaking time. This year I'm Buddy the Elf compared to Ebenezer Scrooge. Go figure.

I have totally forgotten what I actually came here to say.

OH! And also, I have experienced my first snow of the year, I had to drive an hour and a half to see it, but when I landed in my hometown, there was a blanket of the shit everywhere. Right now it is kind of gently falling outside, the kind of snow that's almost transparent, it's so light. I just took all my laundry out to my car so I wouldn't have to do it in the morning, and I just kind of stood there like a dork.

I hate snow, I really do, but this is the harmless kind, and there was enough snow on the ground for it to be sort of insulated, so the eleven degrees felt a little more comfortable than the windy, biting 22 degrees that my town was when I left yesterday. I may have even had a brief burst of giddiness when I crunched through the snow in my snowboots coming back into my house.

I don't even know who I am anymore.

Oh, and I randomly dyed my hair red last week. I may have neglected to mention. I'll post some pics here one of these days, because I know you care.

For tonight, here is a picture of my stocking hanging up at my dad's house that I've had my entire life. I almost die of cute every time I see the snowman on it.


Also, and I'm assuming this was the handiwork of my dad's ladyfriend, there are three itty bitty pet stockings hanging up also. You know, one for my kitty, and two for my sister's kitties. The "grandkitties" if you will.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Blergh.

I finished (or near-finished) a story I found on my computer tonight, that I'd started ages ago that I forgot I'd written. Or tried to write. I don't even have the attention span to write short stories, guys.

However, my biggest fear with picking up on an old piece is that the tone won't match.

The original tone was pitch-perfect, but it needed to be finished... It was nothing without an ending, but is a poorly-written ending any better than none at all?

Much like: is a crappy blog post better than no blog post at all? Sigh.

I also found the beginning of something else I'd started writing (while in the process of looking for something I knew I'd written, that I had an idea for the other day), and I was actually pretty impressed with it. It felt and sounded like someone else had written it. (Which, technically... I'm not the same person I was yesterday, or the day before, so philosophically speaking, someone else - a previous version of myself - did write it...). It held my interest and I could tell that I was setting myself up for a larger story arc, for something of some length... but then when I got to the end of that first bit, I remembered that I had no idea what I was going to do with it, or what that particular arc was, but at the time, I'd simply had a story intro that demanded to be written.

I wish I could hop back on that train of thought and keep going. Bah.

FICTION SUCKS.

There, I said it. It FRUSTRATES me. And the entire point of this post is to vent my frustrations. WHY IS IT THAT I USED TO BE ABLE TO WRITE WELL AND NOW I CAN'T? KELLYFAIL.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dear Blink182: Nobody Likes You When You're 26, Either

I realized something else I don't like about 26.

It's a weird, weird age.

You're stuck in between your mid-twenties and your late-twenties. You're old enough that you've been around the block a few times and you generally have (or should have) your shit together. You're old enough that you're "supposed" to be married with kids (or something) by now. You can buy a house. You can buy anything you want. You're a grownup.

However... you're still young enough that people don't entirely take you seriously.

Especially if you look young for your age.

Which is both a good thing and a bad thing, I guess.

It's frustrating because you're kind of in between market demographics, too. You're tired of the shit aimed at young twenty-somethings because now you're old and mature (and boring?).... but you're still not interested in maybe the things marketed to those in their thirties.

It's this weird purgatory age between young and less-young and I don't really quite know what to do with myself right now, because I'm not sure where I should be.

I mean, I've mostly got my shit together, I am terrified at the prospect of owning my own property (that's a lot of work, especially by yourself), we won't even mention the whole "marriage" thing. But part of me wants to be just a little bit more wise and confident and, well, I don't know. Something more.

But unlike a pre-teen girl wishing she was older so she could do all the fun, quasi-adult things... I'm not in any hurry. I'll figure out where I'm going soon enough.

Oh! And as a total P.S. to this post... I made a very grown-up decision. I'm going to pay off my fucking credit cards. Soon, very soon.

I mean, really. At the rate I'm going, I'm never going to get married anyway. ;)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alas, This *Should* Have Been My Christmas Card...

I may have outdone myself with this one.


Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, bitches.


HAPPY CHRISTMAS MONTH!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I DID IT. Now what?

Well, NaBloPoMo, it's been real. I didn't really visit your site much at all, which means I am fully capable of writing 30 consecutive posts without any sorts of prompts or ideas. Also I feel like a jerk because I'm pretty selfish and didn't really bother to go find any new blogs to read. I JUST GOT THROUGH MY READER AGAIN, GUYS.

I might give YOU all a break though and slow it down in December. I don't know. I don't have a structured posting schedule because I don't want there to be rules about it because if there are rules then it loses its appeal. I mean, not counting this month, of course. But I think if I forced it for much longer, I'd get cranky and stomp away.

Also? This quantity-not-quality thing... not sure how I feel about it. (I mean, that implies that there's usually a standard of quality around here the rest of the time, which... well... yeah. *cough*)

Anyway. This is the last day and I'm ending it with a completely shitty cop-out post.

I hope I win a prize or something. That'd be rad.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Hunt For Orange November

I know I have discussed this already, but I feel as though the continuation of this saga is best told via pictures.


10/30. After a week of searching and intense pleas of help to the local Twitterverse, procured 3 pints at local Wal-Mart. Refrained from performing public victory dance.


11/6. While visiting my sister, we went out to procure some goodness. 4 pints hidden behind a different flavor; we purchased them all. For the record - I only ate 1 of these.


11/8. Supply levels dangerously low in my freezer. Return to local Wal-Mart to see if they had gotten more (previous quest unsuccessful.) 2 pints on the shelf; location had been moved to bottom of freezer case. Found them anyway and secured them both.


11/11. Made a trip to Wal-Mart after discovering that I'd underestimated how long my previous garlic bulb had been in my fridge, and whiiiiiiile I was there, I miiiiight as well check it out... And when I approached the freezer door, it was like heavenly music was playing. IT WAS FULL. I still had a pint and a half in my freezer so I only bought one, but... GLORY. I then tweeted to alert my fellow citizens that there was, in fact, a supply, and I was selflessly not buying it all this time.

11/14. Was down to my last pint so I thought I'd drop in the W-Mart to see if they had any, of which, they did. I bought three.


And so ends our saga... you get the gist. I'm going to keep buying this shit until I can't get it anymore. And then I'll probably go buy a pint of Half Baked because sometimes you just need some chocolate, dammit.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Little Happy Endings

Two days before my mom's birthday, her kitty cat died.

Now, I realize that's a terribly emo way to start a post, and I apologize.

My mother currently lives by herself, since her three-time (not kidding) husband is, erm, away, at the present, and she's had this little cat for quite a few years now. I think it's kind of an understatement that she was pretty attached to it, and she was beside herself when she had to take the poor thing in to the vet at 4 am for sneezing blood. The cat was stable when the vets left that night, and was doing okay the next morning, and they had given her some steroid shots to try to shrink the weird growth that was behind her sinuses. Eventually it became too much and she just stopped breathing.

Her cat has always had health problems, but, obviously that doesn't make it suck less. My mother was devastated and was a complete wreck when I talked to her.

The timing was, of course, terribly fantastic.

After a few days, my sister nudged her towards the idea of a new cat by linkbombing her to kitties on Petfinder. I realize most people have some sort of mourning period before getting a new pet, but my mom started to warm up to the idea. She has a hard time being alone.

So we decided to go look at kitties at the shelter on that Saturday when I came up for her birthday.

I don't think it probably comes as much as a surprise that we did more than look.

You can't really go to a shelter and NOT come home with something.

As it was... we took two.

They say you should get cats in pairs, so they have someone to play with when you're gone, and I think it also came down to the fact that there were two cats we liked and how do you decide which one has to stay at the shelter, and which one gets to go home?

The cat we came to see was one that my sister found online, a little white cat that had crossed eye. But we were greeted by a little fluffy black one (with thumbs!) who pawed at the window at us immediately upon waking up.

They were both sweet little cats and didn't seem to have any issues with each other, plus there was some sort of "buy one, get the second one for $25" deal going on, and... well.

Two kitties got homes.

My mom was super thrilled, except that she'd promised said husband that she'd wait for him to get home so they could pick out the cats together, but she adored these cats and my sister and I kind of rolled our eyes and said we'd take the blame. Hell, they could be a "gift."

My brain clicked faster than my sister's did. "What if they actually were a gift?" As in - we could split the adoption costs between the two of us and they could be her Christmas present, and she wouldn't have to fudge the facts to him. My sister caught my drift first and was like, "brilliant!" and my mom was like "I'll still pay you back..." and we're like, *ahem* and she's like, Ohhhh...

So anyway, I've got that part of my Christmas shopping done, and my mom ended up with two little cats and all was well.

Except my sister's cats were pissed because we brought the new cats there to hang out and there was some staring down and some hissing and some cat-drama, but I think everything was okay.

Anyway that was a shitty retelling so here's a picture of my mom with her new babies.

See? So happy


And here's some more. Because I'm bored.

Cats are bitches and never cooperate for pictures.
Also, I don't know what my mother is doing. She looks like she's on something.




Also, let's for five seconds allow ourselves to all be as weirded out as I was by the degree to which I have the SAME FACE as my mother. We have the exact same cheekbones. The same fucking crease that runs along the left side of our face (aka the right side of the photo) - from the nose to the corner of our mouths (LOOK AT IT, IT IS IDENTICAL), and another one under the eye.

We also somehow have the same hair color, even though neither of us has seen our natural color for years, and I know we use different brands of hair dye.

CREEPY.

And nothing to do with the cats, other than, um, I'm now the only person in my family that only has one cat? Of course, my sister and mom now each have a predominantly white cat with color splotches, and a solid black cat, whereas I have a cat that is all black and white and orange, so she's kind of like multi-cats in one. Plus if I got another cat, she'd probably destroy it. She won't stand for that kind of shit.

We're set in our ways, all up in our bachelorette pad, we are.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Do You Decide What You Feel?

Someone posted this to Twitter like eight million years ago and I shoved it in a draft because I wanted to come back to it (timestamp says... March 14.) It made me think but I wasn't in the mood to think so here it sat for... erm... a long time.

I'm finding, though, that I have absolutely no authority on the matter but I'm curious to see what y'all think. Do you agree? Why or why not?


Love is not an emotion, it is a decision.
- @erinscreen

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Safer In Here Anyway.

I will not leave my cozy bed to go shopping on Black Friday. I will not leave my cozy bed to go shopping on Black Friday. I will not leave my cozy bed to go shopping on Black Friday.

Ohhhh but I really want a cheap little netbook.

Someone go get one for me? Much obliged.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

danke schoen, darling, danke schoen.

I don't think I've done a Thanksgiving post before. Probably because I never think to do one ahead of time, and the day thereof is filled with hanging out with my family and stuffing more food in my face than someone with weight issues probably ought to.

So I'm going to take a moment to be all incredibly sappy and tell you all of the things I am thankful for, at this current moment. List subject to change without notice.

- My friends.

To my real-life posse, you probably already know this, but if you don't, I adore you greatly, and I don't know what I would do without you. Those of you that have stuck around this area, I feel incredibly grateful that we have gotten to be so close and that I'll always have a shoulder to lean on or someone to crack open a bottle of wine with. After all these insanely unstable years, I finally feel like I have that close-knit group of friends that I've wanted. I think probably that they should make a sitcom about us.

To my e-posse, old and new, thanks for sticking around this corner of the Interwebs with me. Those of you that I have gotten to know a little bit more extensively, I love you to bits and someday when I'm not a broke-ass bitch, I want to meet you guys and hang out and have ridiculous amounts of probably-drunken fun. Y'all are the best friends that I've never actually gotten to meet and I don't know where to take this sentence that won't end in schmoopland.

- This blog.

This stupid little website has been my outlet for about 2 years and I love being able to come here to spew thoughts from my head or rant about whatever and/or post silly pictures of myself. Possibly superimposed onto other pictures. (No, not that kind. Pervs.)

- My job.

I know y'all think I work too much, but honestly, I love what I do, and nothing anyone says is going to pry me away from it. Unless the phrase "six figure salary" is mentioned.

- My coworkers.

Seriously, the people I work with are the best. They are part of the reason I love my job as much as I do. There is not a single person I work with that I can say bad things about. I'm coming to find that this is extremely rare, which makes me appreciate it all the more.

- My apartment.

It's small and there's something funky going on with the kitchen pipes, but dammit, if this place isn't cute and cozy and equipped with free internet and free heating and cooling. It's close to work, it's in a residential area so I finally feel like a grownup and not an overgrown college student has-been, and... I dunno. It's home.

- My family.

Crazy and dysfunctional that they may be, I love those weirdos.

- My health.

Other than injuries I seem to inflict upon myself, the ol' body seems to be in pretty good working condition, which I maybe don't appreciate as much as I should.

- Food.

Obviously.

- Technology.

Even though some days I feel like society is about to implode upon itself, and that people are inherently getting dumber and less self-sufficient, and my beloved English language is becoming mutilated beyond what is right and good... technology has been good to me. Mostly the Internet. I mean... shit. I can't even picture life right now without it. I mean, I can... I remember it. It just was kind of sucky. Mostly, though, circling back to Point #1.... technology, despite the widespread concern that it is chipping away at relationships and social skills, has really enabled me to get closer to people and to meet people I never would have otherwise.

It also allows me to go shopping in my pajamas. So there's that.

- Books.

You know. The paper kind. As long as there are actual, physical books out in the world, I will be content.

- My cat.

She's a little bitch and emotionally closed off except on her own terms, but that's why we get along. I have a squishy spot in my heart for that little furball. Especially when she greets me at the door or runs to me when I call her and nuzzles me with her little kitty face. I'm her person. And she lets me dress her up. So, bonus.

- Ben & Jerry.

They know why.

- Being fortunate enough to live where I do, when I do, with the rights I have, and the situation I'm in.

I could've had it much worse. I'm one of the lucky ones. I need to remind myself of that more often.


SOOOOooo there you have it. An incomplete list of things that I am grateful for and thankful for at this current point and time which OMG HAPPENS TO BE THANKSGIVING, IT'S ALMOST LIKE I PLANNED THAT OR SOMETHING.

Let's hear it, peeps. What are you thankful for this year?