Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Something Scarier than Walkers...

Last Sunday's episode of the Walking Dead brought up an interesting topic that was briefly touched on in dealing with Terminus...that rape is still just as big a threat, even when there are undead walking everywhere trying to eat your face.

Courtesy of Tumblr
And that freaking says something!  When as a viewer I'm more scared of the gun toting cop giving Beth the side eye than the yard full of walkers, it shows how ingrained it is in women that we're victimized and treated like shit by society.

If there are flesh eating freaks roaming the earth, that should be my number one fear.  But I understand the notion that moral and ethical boundaries can get warped by apocalyptic circumstances.  Bad people will survive because they have an easier time doing unpleasant/ethically fucked up things.  Like the people who ran Terminus, when it was a shelter for survivors.  They were taken over by evil people who raped and killed, and psychologically damaged the original Terminus owners into becoming cannibals.  It's the extrapolated notion of "nice guys finish last," except rather it is "nice guys become zombies or are raped and murdered."

As the creepy cop made his advances, I just felt it.  The hair sticking up on the back of my neck feeling.  It's an intuition that I've had to hone as a woman because society keeps telling me not to get raped...so now I'm hyper aware of these things.  But I was vindicated by Beth's badassery.
Courtesy of Tumblr

With what happened at Terminus, the wanderers Daryl joined briefly, and now this abuse of power (which FYI is the point of rape; it's about power not sex), it really says something about people and society...that if the zombie shitstorm hit tomorrow, I would still be more scared of being raped than the undead.  Because it seems like assholes are the ones who are mostly making it through.  Well, that's pretty discouraging for a woman...

With men explaining away street harassment and female students being raped on campus with no punishment for the rapist and athletes using their girlfriends as punching bags with no jail time, is it any shock that as a woman I'm more worried about being raped than the zombies possibly trying to eat me?  Society now keeps telling me I'm not worth anything, so why would this apocalyptic society be any different?

Today I Voted For the Very First Time

I know what you're thinking: Alex, you're such a socially conscious individual; how is it that you've never voted before?

Yeah, I know.  I'm a late comer to the political foray.  And I have a reason.  It's not a particularly good reason, but it's my story.  I was raised in a very Conservative family.  At first, I didn't question anything.  Not religion, not politics, not anything.  When I finally got around to college, I realized that I had problems with organized religion.  Then I also realized I problems with Conservative points.  I wanted to talk about politics and try and learn, but I found people unwilling.  That any discussion about the differences in politics descended into yelling or judgments.  Wanting no part of that, I decided to not take part in anything political.  I didn't discuss nor take part in politics.  I didn't vote.

Eventually, through growing up some and becoming the very social justice forward person I am today, I realized that if I wanted things to change, I needed to be part of it.  While I am only one vote, it matters.  My vote and my voice matter.  So I'm proud today to say that I voted for my very first time.  That I voted for people whose beliefs mirror my own.  And that while my vote won't likely be a deciding vote, I was able to stand up for what I believe in and know I did my civic duty.  I only wish I had realized my feelings sooner.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Crushing Weight

Somehow I've been transported back to my adolescence, because I have a crush.  And not a celebrity crush (though I have plenty of those, hey Benny Cumberbatch).  But an honest to whomever-you-pray-to crush on a real guy.  It's just all so middle school.

Suddenly I feel like I need friends to work as a go between or wishing I could pass him a note: Will you go out with me?  Yes?  No?  Maybe?  Check one.

It all started when he innocently enough just stopped to talk to me about the book I was reading.  Not super dramatic or newsworthy.  Just that most associates where I work treat the security guards like pieces of furniture.  So while the conversation was common place, the fact that he stopped to talk to me at all about something not related to work...well that is downright exciting.

Then I had to make it awkward.  I'm being honest about my faux pas, because I know eventually it will be a funny story to look back on, but right now it is far too forehead slapping.  Most people have Facebook these days, though if he does I couldn't find his profile.  So having Google at one's finger tips, I searched out other social media sites.  And I found him on LinkedIn.  Viewed his profile and thought, "Yeah, he seems smart and accomplished."  I was enjoying the crush-y moment.

Then I remembered LinkedIn tells you when someone views your profile.  And usually tells you who it is.  Kill.  Me.  Now.

It felt like a brick hit me in the face.  Creeping embarrassment and wondering if he would say something invaded my thoughts every minute.  But days stretched on and the likelihood of his saying anything lessened.  Though I still expected to one day overhear him tell a coworker I was the creepy girl who stalked him on LinkedIn.

But I haven't yet.  I've talked to him two more times since then whole thing.  He remembered my name which I'm trying not to take as a sign and just that he's really good at remembering stuff.  But it's hard, guys.  Because in my mind, we're the cutest couple.  We have an adorable apartment with two dogs.  Family dinner on the weekends...as I said, the crush is so middle school.  The struggle is real.

And in a week, I won't see him again.  I got a new job and will now be working elsewhere, unable to spend my shift wondering if I'll see him or he'll ask me about what I'm reading now.  And I know I could just be super progressive (aggressive?) and add him on LinkedIn, but then I would just add to my pathetic feeling level.  Or I could be brave and ask him to get coffee before I'm gone and miss the chance.  In my head I do this and it works out nicely.  In reality, my self conscious attitude and social anxiety tell me it's a bad idea.

He also has a name that I find devastatingly attractive.  I'm one of those people who has a name pattern in my attractions.  Like I'm the main character in John Green's An Abundance of Katherines, except with boys not named Katherine...

In any case, I'm on the fence about what I should do.  Bravery in the face of dating denial has worked for me in the past.  But it has also lead me to some crash and burn moments as well.  As I said, this whole thing is just so middle school.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Finger on the Trigger

Today all around the country, women and hopefully some men will take up mattresses and pillows in solidarity.  Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz was raped on campus by a fellow student, and though other women also accused the same asshole man of assault, the university did not find him responsible.  To this day, the perpetrator remains on campus along with his victims.  This failure of the university to protect its female students has pushed Emma to push back.

She decided to carry a mattress around campus, like the one she was raped on, until the university does the right thing and expels her rapist. Since the beginning of her movement, Emma has rarely had to carry the mattress alone.  When she started the project, she said people would be allowed to help her but that no one could carry it for her, since it is her weight and burden.  But, people have been supportive from the start and helped her carry it almost completely.  Why?  Because people, especially women, are likely to understand this feeling.

Today, at a local university, I'll be carrying a pillow (didn't have a mattress to spare) with a quote from something someone said to me after my assault.  This to me combines Carrying the Weight and Project Unbreakable, two movements meant to empower survivors of sexual assault.

While I am more than happy to do this, I also am keenly aware of the problem.  That while I want to be strong and help others and raise awareness, doing events like this reminds me of what I went through.  Suddenly, I feel back at the beginning.  Back when I couldn't get through the day without crying.  Feeling like I couldn't tell people because they would blame me for what happened.  It's not odd for me or other survivors to experience PTSD.  In fact, it's something I've dealt with from the start.  It's taken me a long time to be comfortable talking about what happened to me.  But that doesn't mean I'm not still affected by triggers.  It is incredibly likely I'll be affected for the rest of my life.  For a year after my assault, if I heard anyone say his name I would flinch.

I've been lucky to be supported by friends, especially the ones I called the day after it happened.  But that doesn't mean it still doesn't hurt.  Or that it hasn't had a serious impact on my life, especially sexually.  But I'm trying to be the strong person I know I can be.  I know today I'll be helping others carry their weight.  But I also know we are unbreakable, no matter what society throws our way.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October Book Club

This month, I took on a banned and challenged book that I originally heard about through nerdfighteria and John Green.  The book is question is the Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.

The premise of the book is the friendship between three girls.  When one goes off for a summer camp/internship/learning opportunity, the other two girls kiss and realize they have feelings for each other.  What follows is a delving into friendships, relationships, and sexuality.  The funny YA novel is easily relatable and shows what sexuality can mean between friends, especially supporting each other.

The novel was banned in an Oklahoma school district for homosexuality and as someone says, absolutely no moral fiber.  As someone who has moral fiber (I eat grains...), I think they are clinging to the homosexuality and used it as a smoke screen to make up other crap.  Maureen Johnson wrote about the banning on her own blog here.  She responds to it in a funny and lighthearted manner, which is exactly the response I expected given how funny and lighthearted the novel was.

I found the story moving and though sometimes very obviously young adult fiction, it was entertaining and provided depth to youth which can often lack in other novels.  It's an important story especially for youth and anyone struggling with their sexuality.  Not everyone has unsupportive people in their lives, but it happens.

Here are some quotes I liked:

"She wasn't only gay, she was a gay elf." (pg. 47)

"When in doubt, wander the bookstore." (pg. 147)

"Between friends, not speaking was the same thing as lying." (pg. 189)

"'Are you finally going to do something tonight?' [...] 'Yes,' he answered. 'You're going to ask Nina to dance?' 'No. Tonight is the night I cure cancer.'" (pg. 276)

"'Why don't you just ask her, Park?' 'Ask her...for a light? Ask her...a pointed question?'" (pg. 278)

"'I know what happens in girls' bathrooms. They're like black holes. You'll never come back.'" (pg. 278)

"'She is no pretty, the Roach, but she run like deer," Parker said. 'Like sick deer. Sick deer with limp.'" (pg. 285)

Overall, if you like YA, I recommend it. Particularly those with interest in sexuality in high school and the possible affect on friendships.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Psychology of Survival

I love the Walking Dead.  As do millions of other people.  Hence the zombie mania and multiple kick-ass seasons.  I mean, it is based off a graphic novel, first of all.  And second of all...zombies. AMAZING.

I got behind on the show due to unforeseen circumstances (let's not go there).  But I'm catching up on season 4 before the new season drops Oct. 12th.  Now admittedly, I'm not going to be caught up before it starts, since I'm jet-setting to England (currently in the airport writing this).  But that's why God, in his infinite wisdom, creating DVR.

Now if you haven't seen season 4, leave now.  Cause I'm dropping major spoilers.  Okay? Okay.  Let's go.

This season found a cold going through the prison that was taxing people's immune systems so much that they were eventually dying and becoming zombiefied...in a very quick fashion.  Two people initially were sick and isolated away from others, though someone then killed them and burned the bodies.  While more people are becoming ill, we find out that it was Carol who did this.  Rick finds out and banishes her from the prison.  Now, I get where Rick is coming from, but I also get where Carol was coming from too.

With this illness, people were infecting others, dying incredibly quickly, and then had the horrible possibility of creating more zombies by the usual methods.  While some people were recovering through Hershel's care, the amount who made it is vastly smaller compared to those who turned.  And eventually we see that ward in the prison overrun by undead.

To me, the possibility of being turned through the illness is like when a person gets bitten.  They are going to turn if they get bitten, and sometimes they are given the option about how they die.  Remember Jim, season 1?  Obviously, I have no experience in this because I'm not a Walking Dead character and zombies don't currently roam the Earth (well, not yet. I'm keeping my eye on you, Ebola).  But if it were me, or someone I cared about, I would rather die than be a zombie, or rather kill them before I had to see them become a zombie.  You would have time to say your goodbyes.  Give them the option of doing it themselves or if they can't, do it for them.  I have already told my best friend if she ever gets bitten, I would kill her if she needed me to do so.  Because I would rather pull the trigger than see my best friend become an undead, flesh-eating beast.

Do I like what Carol did?  No, of course I don't.  But do I get why she did it?  Yes.  She was protecting people.  She was trying to keep the virus from spreading.  It ended up backfiring poorly, but such is the way of scripted tv.

The only difference between the cold or a bite, is that with one you're possibly/probably without medical care (which is lacking in an apocalyptic state) going to be a zombie, versus you will definitely become a zombie.  That's the moral gray area with Rick firmly on the we-don't-kill-people--until-they-turn side, and Carol on the well-they-probably-were-going-to-turn-because-we-don't-have-a-ton-of-meds side.  So like I said, I don't like what she did.  I don't like the idea of living in a world where you might have to do that.  But it's kill or be killed in that world.  So I get it.  Where do you stand?

So I Fell in Love, And Then It Ended

You might be thinking this blog is about a bad break-up.  And in some ways it is.  It was a whirlwind romance.  I'd been emotionally invested for a long time.  It happened.  It was intense and rewarding and life affirming.  Then I had to fly home.

I'm of course talking about my recent trip to London.  Did you think it was something else?  Sorry to disappoint.  My tawdry love story isn't with a cabana boy or a saucy salsa dancer.  I fell in love with London.

Truthfully, my love for London started a long time ago.  For some reason, unbeknownst to myself or my mother, I fixated on London and England at a young age.  Before I understood the birds and the bees (does anyone ever fully understand it? sex is complicated), I used to tell my mother the stork dropped me off in the wrong country.  I know, I was an adorable child.  What happened?

Anyway, I was obsessed with English literature and the accent and anything Union Jack and all things English.  It was an obsession, a passion, an unrelenting and overwhelming love that became a dream to one day go there.  And finally, I got my chance.

Having money saved up, paid vacation through work, and an unfortunate instance yet blessing that no one could afford nor take the time to vacation with me, I set my sights on this long time dream.  I spared no expense in treating myself to the place I'd admired for ages.  I planned and prepped for months.  Carefully chose an itinerary to reflect my desires.  It was perfect.

Then it happened, and then it ended.

My friend Karen, having studied there herself and also being an avid Anglophile, told me I would come back changed.  At the time I didn't believe her, but then sitting at the airport waiting to fly home, I realized she was right.  I saw that I had so deeply fallen in love with this place that leaving felt as through I was leaving part of myself.  And it broke my heart.

I missed my friends.  My mom.  My dog.  And even my bed.  But being in this city, I had found the part of myself I suppose I always knew was there.  I felt entirely safe and comfortable in a city I had never visited.  I didn't clutch my purse tighter or speed up my walk in the dark.  I didn't have to because I felt perfectly at ease.  Because I felt like I was home.

So obviously I sobbed my eyes out leaving.  Felt a malaise all through the flight.  Was cranky and irritated by American customs (though, who isn't?).  I was pleased to see my mom and friend when they picked me up.  But everything still felt like a daze.  I think it will for a while.  Until I plan my next visit.  Until I go home again.

Back on the Wagon, I Guess

I'm sitting at the airport writing this, even though I'm not sure when it will be posted.  And already the info is a bit dated.

I've written about my struggles with depression and the experiment of going off my meds.  I've been so lucky to have support through that period.  That being said, after much consideration and consultation with my doctor, I've decided to go back on my medication.  It wasn't an easy choice.  I had hoped to at least make it longer than the couple of months I did.  But life doesn't really work that way.  Especially not emotions.

I think it became clear to my doctor that I needed to return to my meds when I broke down sobbing after she asked "How are you?"  It's a lesser dose; actually the dosage I initially started at back in college.

Writing these posts isn't just about airing my problems into the ether.  Or  bitching to the world about how damaged I am.  It's me trying to share a little piece of myself to a world where so many people suffer in silence.  Fear of stigma and judgment keeping them from seeking the help they need.  If one person reads my blog and feels less alone in the world, I will consider it a part of me well shared.

You may suffer in silence, but you don't have to be alone.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Some Days Are Bad Days and That's Okay

When you have depression, you have good days and bad days.  And lately, a lot of my days have been bad days.

Most of that stems from an unhappy work situation.  It's hard not to feel stymied when I make less than 10 bucks an hour, work 11 hour shifts, wear an uncomfortable uniform, and work on weekends.  Being with the same company for three and a half years has meant nothing, and I have nothing to show for it.  In fact, after both relocations, I went back to the bottom of the totem pole.  And now, I'm just genuinely exhausted.

I decided earlier this summer to go off my medication for my brand of depression (which has some a la carte anxiety).  My doctor had urged the trial, saying part of the job of my medication is to teach the brain to transmit chemicals it wasn't otherwise doing.

And overall, it has been a good trial run.  At first, I felt slightly less control over my emotions.  More weepy than usual, but I still seemed to be doing alright.  But now I'm starting to wonder if I'm losing control.

It's hard to explain the thought processes of a depressive person to someone that has no clue.  It's not just being sad or in a funk; it's deeper, and darker, and scarier than that.

You know how sometimes you go into a room and forget why?

Now imagine you start crying and screaming and you don't know why.  Or you zone out and stare at the wall for hours, but you don't know why.

My depression can't be logical sometimes.  Many moments I'm reacting emotionally and I don't know why.  Or I'm reacting with more sharp emotions.  Sometimes I do know why.  But not always.

Some days it's like treading water and trying not to drown. Some days it is the urge to fight tears all day, because I'm at work and can't break down there.  Some days it is knowing that nothing is going to snap me out of it.  And that can be terrifying.

Luckily through all of this, I've had amazing support.  Friends who have experienced mental illness and understand.  Friends who will do anything to cheer me up because they know there is nothing to fix.  Friends that understand if I break down crying that there isn't always an explanation or solution.  Friends who will listen to me cry and moan about how unhappy I am.  In short, the best friends a person dealing with depression could ask for.

Recently, I had my feelings invalidated and then completely mocked by someone.  And I don't know if they misconstrued something or were having a bad day or whatever.  As someone with depression, I ask this of others: please don't ever invalidate what someone is feeling, especially someone dealing with mental illness.  If you disagree or think it's ridiculous, fine.  But don't discount it to them.  What they are feeling is real.  What I was feeling was real to me.  And it feels like a slap in the face to have someone mock me when I'm down.

I guess I'm writing all this because I don't know if I'm going to go back on my meds yet.  Maybe I just needed to vent, or explain myself.  I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm lucky to have people I can count on and know I can trust.  And I also know that feeling like this sucks.  And that some days are just bad days, and that's okay.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When Is Rape Actually Rape

In light of some asshole comments from Rush Limbaugh and also someone else, I couldn't help but put some things out there.

Did both parties say yes to sex?  Good.

Did someone not say yes to sex?  Rape.

Here's the thing, I get that there are gray areas.  He said/she said.  I get it.  But here's the point, unless everyone is actively saying yes to sex, it's not sex.  It's rape.  Maybe things didn't use to be this way, but that is some fucked up shit.  Consent, get used to it.

What our dear Rush seems to miss here is that no, in fact, does always mean no.  The only circumstance in which it wouldn't is a relationship that agreed upon that boundary.  Plenty of couples push sexual limits.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But those limits are agreed upon, take a great deal of trust, and usually have a safe word.  So in that case, no doesn't mean no.  The safe word does.  Unfortunately for Rush, that is a system that has to be decided upon by both participants.  It cannot be put in place by someone looking to score.  You cannot approach a woman/man/person attempting to find a way through their 'no'.  That's called being a giant asshole.

In the most recent Game of Thrones season (spoiler alert), Cersei and Jaime have sex next to Joffrey's corpse.  Sexy, right?  He approaches her and starts kissing her.  She says no, starts hitting his chest, and mentioning how they'll be found out.  He has sex with her anyway.  She stops fighting him.  They engage in coitus.

Let me make something abundantly clear. If someone says no, it's rape.  If they say no and have sex with you anyway, it's coercion, which is rape.  An uproar went around when it aired because people were saying the show put the scene out as rape when it was consensual in the book.  By the way, the scene I just described was directly from the book.  I can quote it if you'd like.  But it's still rape.  A rape cannot in fact become consensual. Time has a great piece about this.

I'm getting really pissed by people who say this is consensual.  She says no.  It is not consensual.  Anyone who ever says no in relation to sexual activity is taking their consent away.  So educate yourselves and be respectful of your partners.  Ask if they're ready.  Ask what they want.  Don't tiptoe around the issue.  Ask for consent.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Female's Message to Goodell and the NFL

In 1998, Aaron Sorkin’s show Sports Night featured an interesting story-line.  Amateur reporter/associate producer Natalie goes to interview a major football player.  Then, word breaks that a football player was seen exposing himself to a woman and grabbing her when she attempts to leave.  It dawns on the other workers that it was Natalie.  She initially resists pressing charges, but is eventually talked into it.  In the following episode, she receives death threats and nasty hate mail.  But eventually, the show moves on and so does she.

When I first saw this episode, it bothered me.  But I didn’t realize then how common it actually is that violence gets overlooked in professional sports.  When word broke that some kind of altercation had occurred between Ray Rice and his fiance, the NFL acted.  They acted poorly.  They suspended him for 2 games.  Less than someone who has smoked pot.  Yeah, that’s the message being sent to women.  You are less important than recreational drug use!

It took TMZ leaking the footage of what actually happened in the elevator for Rice to get kicked off the team.  Also the NFL is implementing a new domestic violence policy. “Goodell said that in the future, any N.F.L. employee, including nonplayers, would be suspended for six games for a first offense of domestic violence and a minimum of a year for a second offense.” The article, from the New York Times, indicates the league had seen the footage back in July. It took you this long to do the right thing? Wow, screw you guys.

On the one hand, this is better than what is currently going on in the league in regards to domestic violence.  On the other hand, if you have a player who has more than one offense, WHY ARE THEY STILL ON THE TEAM???  You want to make a stand on violence against women?  Then get the fuck rid of someone who beats on their girlfriend/fiance/wife.  Don’t make allowances.  There should be no allowances for men who beat their spouses.  Even current NFL players are lashing back against this whole situation. And as a woman, I'm not thrilled at the way you're handling it either. Nor are others.

Violence seems pretty rampant in sports (check out the stats on the NFL alone) and leagues should set the precedence that just because you are famous and can kick/throw/shoot something doesn’t mean you can get away with beating your spouse.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Book Club: Slaughterhouse-Five

While last month’s book read took me the entirety of the month, this month’s took me a day.  Actually less than 24 hours.  It took me one work shift, 11 hours, to read it.  So it was a refreshing change from Moby Dick.

This month’s banned/challenged book was Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.  He’s one of my favorites in the vein of science fiction, and this book especially.

The story centers on Billy Pilgrim, a war survivor who is telling his story of the war and his experience being abducted by aliens and how he began time travelling.  You get sucked into his life in the war, watching people get slaughtered and bombed and wondering who will die next.  Then you’re transported to his life on Tralfamadore, where he is in a museum like an animal and he is constantly watched by Tralfamadorians, tiny and green aliens that look mainly like a hand on a plunger.  Back and forth we go, throughout Billy’s life experiences. 

The reason the book lands on the banned and challenged list are a few different reasons.  Certain people or districts have listed vulgarity and language.  Others have cited it for being too explicit sexually, particularly Billy being naked while on display in the museum.  Seriously, people?  Kids can find porn online, but you want to ban books?  Ugh, humanity…

Some of my favorite quotes:

“And, even if wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.” Pg. 9

“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.” Pg. 9

“But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.” Pg. 25 (in reference to Lot’s wife in the bible)

“Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.” Pg. 39

“All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.” Pg. 79

“There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths or many marvelous moments seen all at one time.” Pg. 82 (love this quote)

“Everybody was legally alive now.” Pg. 84

“Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.” Pg. 107

“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” Pg. 111 (also love this)

“The listlessness concealed a mind which was fizzing and flashing thrillingly.” Pg. 169 (I aspire to this)

“So it goes.” Pg. 190 (this overarching theme in the book is amazing)

In conclusion, if you’re into sci-fi then you need to read it.  And if you’re not into sci-fi, you need to read it.  And if you’re not into reading, well what the fuck is wrong with you?  Read it, maybe it’ll fix you.

It’s a fantastic science fiction story and one for the ages.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 31

So what now…

Courtesy of Tumblr
As you may notice, this month long challenge actually only covers 30 days.  And with August being 31 days long, it left me with an extra day. So I wasn't sure what to do. Obviously something Harry Potter related. So, I'm considering making butterbeer cupcakes this Labor Day or my next day off after that, because I'm actually at work right now. *shhh*  

So I guess I'll ask you, my dear reader, what is your favorite part of Harry Potter?  If you worked in the wizard world, what job would you want?  Who is your favorite character? How has Harry Potter shaped your life?  Chime in and tell me!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 30

Describe the effect HP has had on you and your life.

Courtesy of Tumblr
Well as previously stated, it saved me during a very bad time in my life.  It resparked my interest in reading and especially magical books.  It’s not just a fandom or an obsession, Harry Potter to me is a way of life.  And whether people find that odd or not, Hogwarts is my home.  If you don’t like it, well I’ll just curse you I guess.  Stupefy!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 29

What wizarding world job would you want to have?

Omg, all of them?! Seriously.

I think writing for the Quibbler or Daily Prophet would be fun.  Or if I was a professor at Hogwarts, doing DADA probably.  Or being an auror and running around after bad wizards.  I don’t care what job I have in the wizarding world, as long as I’ve got magical powers.

This quiz said I’d be an auror. HEY-O!!

While this one said I’d most likely be a professor, but also possibly a shop keeper in Diagon Alley.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

August Banned & Challenged Book Club

This August for Banned and Challenged Books Book Club, I decided I needed to take on a behemoth.  That’s right, I put on my Wellies and went on to tackle the White Whale…and I somehow survived (don’t ask me, I’m as surprised as anyone).

Moby Dick by Herman Melville is considered quite a literary feat by some, clocking in at over 800 pages.  I mean, it’s no Game of Thrones book, but it’ll do.  I actually started either before August or relatively soon in, I don’t remember specifically when, but obviously the book takes a bit since it’s nearing the end of August when this post is going up.

The epic story is told by the narration of Ishmael, a sailor who signs on under Captain Ahab.  The Captain has lost a leg to a fearsome whale and he’s determined to see the beast’s bloody end.  So from Ishmael’s perspective, we get to see the Captain’s crusade against the White Whale and the colorful cast of crew members who are along for the ride.

I really enjoyed the story…or rather, the idea of the story.  Something gets lost to me in those 800 pages.  The story jumps from gambit to gambit and loses the integrity of this Captain’s obsession with his pursuit.

There are at times quite funny moments.  In one section, Ishmael seems to compare whale schools to societal seasons.  The whales migrate from warm to cold water as socialites would from “it” destination to destination.  There is also quite a chargedly humorous moment when Ishmael is talking about sperm (though not sure if it’s actually sperm or something just related to the sperm whale).  And he’s running his hands through it and talking about how profound it is.  I really can’t even explain how thoroughly hilarious this is.  It’s a freaking riot.

If you have the time, I suggest the read.  It really is an epic story and worth the time if you have it.  Consider what you would do with an obsession?  How it would drive and consume you?  Now imagine if it were over a whale?  Melville’s story may be dense with words, but if you can pick through them, you’ll find a good story.

You’re probably wondering why this book is on the banned/challenged list.  Well, you’re not the only ones wondering.  One district cited it was against its “community values,” and didn’t set well.  They must have looked into the whale as something other than a whale…because I’m not seeing any subtext.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“[…] whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul;” pg. 1

“But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.” pg. 4

“For to go as a passenger you must needs have a purse, and purse is but a rag unless you have something in it.” pg. 4

“Yes, these eyes are windows, and this body of mine is the house.” pg. 14

“[…] whether it was a reality of a dream, I never could entirely settle.” pg. 37

“And here shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardon, but grateful for punishment.” pg. 66

“Through all his unearthly tattooing, I thought I saw the traces of a simple honest heart; and in his large, deep eyes, fiery black and bold, there seemed tokens of a spirit that would dare a thousand devils.” pg. 71

“I’ll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy.” pg. 73 (fave of the book)

“How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends.” pg. 75

“The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run.” Pg. 243

“Why so? Because a laugh’s the wisest, easiest answer to all that’s queer;” pg. 246

“[…] when all possibilities would become probabilities […]” pg. 289

“Out of the trunk, the branches grow; out of them, the twigs. So, in productive subjects, grow the chapters.” Pg. 419

“[…] for there is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.” Pg. 556

“There is wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.” Pg. 612

“Thrusted light is worse than presented pistols.” Pg. 676

I know, I put WAY too many quotes.  But the source material is huge, so I figure I’m allowed.  If you have the time or the dedication, I recommend giving this a try.  It’s not easy, but it’s an amusing story.

Harry Potter Challenge Day 28

Who would be your nemesis at Hogwarts?

Oooh, good question except I don’t have any nemeses in real life, so why would I have them there?

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But since I have to answer, probably Pansy Parkinson.  She just really irritates me.  So I have a feeling we’d get into a snark competition with each other constantly.

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But also, Umbridge.  Because we all hate that bitch.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 27

Invisibility Cloak, Resurrection Stone, or Elder Wand?

Cloak!  All day, any day. 

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I could literally become a ninja.  Also, the other two seem less useful because I don’t want to become a super wizard and people who come back from the dead go crazy, basically.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 26

If you were able to use one spell without a wand, what would it be?

Accio.  Because then I can just accio my wand and get anything else I need.  Boom, lawyered.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 25

Are you satisfied with the epilogue?

Book version, absolutely yes.  I think it ties up characters nicely and leaves a little taste of what life was like for them being, you know, not at war.

Movie version, eff no.  If you’re casting characters for 17 years later, find some older actors.  I’m sorry.  The make-up for that scene was ridiculous because not a single one of them looked convincingly in their 40s.  And we know the power of movie make-up, so it’s no excuse that they looked the way they did.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Days 23 & 24

Day 23: Parts of the books or films that made you cry?

Oh god, okay.  Well let’s start with the books…

Cedric’s death.  Sirius’s death.  Dumbledore’s death.  The entirety of Deathly Hallows.  Not fucking kidding on that last one, guys.

Movies, it’s pretty much the same scenarios.  I don’t always cry at these moments with each rewatch, except one in particular.  Every time, and I mean every single time that I watch Deathly Hallows pt 2, I ball like a baby when Harry sees Lupin, Tonks, and Fred.  Like, hysterical can’t breathe crying.  I’m a very emotional person, okay?

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God, I’m tearing up just looking over Tumblr for these pics.

Day 24: Any particular scene you wish was in the movies that wasn’t?

Well, like previously said, there are things missing that bum me out.  The Department of Mysteries and Peeves especially.  But if we’re talking one specific scene…

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That one.  Also, all the sass was missing from the movies.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 22

Harry Potter or Twilight?

What?  What the hell kind of question is this?  Did anyone contemplate this question? 

I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Twilight.  I think the books are light and easy to read and I don’t have to think about story or plot or anything of significance.  Love triangles are classic book material.  But, the emotional depth of Harry Potter far outreaches Twilight.  Harry Potter addresses social issues through a child’s lens and is actually making people into better human beings.  I don’t mind a sexy vamp, but Harry Potter is and will always be the better story.  It’s one for the ages.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why I Disagree With the Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS ice bucket challenge has been running rampant around social media the past few weeks.  The point of the challenge is to donate ten dollars to ALS Association or other charities (though most chose ALS), and dump a bucket of ice water on yourself.  Then once you are soaking wet, you challenge three other people to do it.  Or you can skip the bucket and donate 100 dollars instead.  Hmmm…

I have some serious issues about the whole challenge.  Let me preface by saying the donation part is not at all what I have an issue with.  On the contrary, that’s part of what I wish was emphasized more.
The point of the challenge seems to me to guilt or even bully people into doing it or face donating 100 dollars.  Oh my!  I don’t want an ice water bucket dumped on me, and I also don’t have a problem donating 100 dollars either, I just don’t know if I have 100 bucks to give at the moment.  The idea that I should feel guilted/bullied into donating is crap.  I donate money when I can, which isn’t as often as I like, but I also don’t need a “challenge” to do it. 

The other point, that I didn’t realize at first but saw someone else mention, is the self congratulatory nature of the ice bucket challenge.  It’s a pat on the back for anyone who does it.  Because you donated a whole ten bucks?  And made a video about it?  I would do the ice bucket challenge, donate 100 bucks, and not post a video.  Because the video and recognition isn’t the point.  The donating money to good causes is the point.

This challenge has raised a lot of money for ALS, and that’s wonderful.  Lou Gehrig’s disease is absolutely terrible, and I cannot imagine what people suffer when living with the disease.  In no way am I belittling the good this money will do to fight a terrible disease.  But do people really need to be challenged to donate money?  Are people that selfish?  Why can't you donate without having been challenged to do it?

I also don’t appreciate the water that is being wasted.  When other countries are struggling to get fresh and uncontaminated water, and here in our first world nation we are just dumping buckets of it out…it really pisses me off.  How many gallons of water have been wasted in this challenge that could have been fresh drinking water for a rural town that has none?  I realize the inherent argument in that it isn’t the same water they would have access to, but it is water from the same earth that we all inhabit.  And in an attempt to do something good, we’re throwing away another good we could give.  Or flaunting the availability of tons of fresh water…

This whole challenge is bringing up the feeling of exactly why I like organizations like Kiva.org.  I donate 25 dollars in a loan (or whatever amount you can afford) to someone who uses the money to fund their project.  Be it fresh water, or education, or what have you that 25 (ish) dollars helps them and they eventually pay you back.  So that same money can go to help someone else.  A donation of even just 25 dollars can help people over and over again.  For people who are tight on finances but want to make a difference, this is an amazing opportunity!

I’m not saying making one time donations are bad, especially not for medical research and assistance.  What I’m saying is more people should donate because it’s a good thing to do and not because you’ve been challenged to do it.  The whole thing just bothers me.  Give because it’s right not because someone challenged you to.

With that being said, tomorrow when I get paid, I’ll be going to either Kiva.org or Water.org to help finance a water project in deference to those who don't have water and in defiance against the water that is being wasted in my opinion.  If anyone challenges me to the ice bucket challenge, I will not take part and I will not donate 100 dollars instead.  One, because I really don’t know if I have that kind of money to throw around anyway, and two, I won’t waste water that we take for granted.  I’m not going to challenge other people to behave differently.  But I will ask that people give to good causes when they can and not when they’ve been issued a challenge.

Harry Potter Challenge Day 21

If you could bring one of the characters back to life, who would you choose?

Again, I can only pick one?!  That’s just cruel.  There are so many beloved characters that are axed off in these books.  So much heartbreak.  I mean, I’ve mentioned Sirius and Lupin and Tonks and how much I love all those guys.  But I’m going a little off the wall with this answer.

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Bring back Hedwig.  She was one of the most painful deaths because it happens so quickly, and it’s truly the end of Harry’s innocence.  She was there from the beginning and suffered just as much as he did.  Poor girl.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 20

If you could meet one member of the cast, who would it be?

Dear lord, you want me to only pick one?  Are you serious?  That’s not possible.  For reals.  Because I would obviously want to meet Emma, so we could become best friends.  But I would love to meet Dan, or Maggie Smith, or… no wait, Matthew Lewis.  He got so fine.  Or Alfie Enoch, who also grew up so fine.  Like I said, how can I pick only one?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How the Green Brothers, the Mountain Goats, and Nerdfighteria Changed My Life

I was introduced to John Green through a video in late 2013.  The video in question was him discussing the American healthcare system and why it’s incredibly...well, screwed up.  This video, on a topic I find in no way interesting, kept me chuckling.  I realized maybe this guy was worth looking into.

And then I realized how late to the game I was.

John Green and his brother Hank Green had started making videos years ago, and had amassed a cult (a really cool one) following.  I started at the beginning and watched through all the videos from their Brotherhood 2.0 project.  I started watching Hank play video games with his wife and friends (Mario is the best).  I watched their side projects (Lizzie Bennet Diaries).  I read John’s books (OMG FEELS).  I listened to Hank’s music (Accio Deathly Hallows, incendio book sales embargoes).  Which I then memorized (A quark is a fundamental constituent of matter).

I was a woman hooked.

When one of them recommended something, I would look into it.  Which is how I got addicted to the Mountain Goats.  I bought their album The Sunset Tree because it featured the only Mountain Goats song I knew at the moment, which was “This Year.”  Little did I know at the time, that the song I had come to enjoy would end up being my anthem through one of the most difficult transitions in my life.

So all this is going on in the fall of 2013.  I was working two jobs, spending time with my friends and S.O. at the time, and basically just trying to make life count.  And I thought I was doing a pretty good job at that.  Disaster struck when my living situation turned sour.  I’ve written a whole post about that here so I won’t delve into it, but I’ll just say that my world was rocked and not in a good way.

Things became unbearable for me.  I did my best to shrug things off, but it got worse and worse, and harder and harder for me to be positive.  Then my relationship ended as well, so around the 1st of the year of 2014, I was in a really dark place.  I stopped coping with my problems and tried to drink them away instead.  Side note, that doesn’t work.  So while I was working on not using alcohol as a coping mechanism, “This Year” became my anthem.   I made it my alarm so I woke up to it every morning.  I listened to it whenever I felt overwhelming stress.  I didn’t completely stop abusing alcohol, which I wouldn’t end up doing until I moved away, but that song...that one song made things better.  “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.”  I would repeat that line to myself so many times that I lost count.
And once I admitted to myself that I was a nerdfighter, I joined a few communities.  The beautiful thing about being a nerdfighter is that anyone can be one and true nerdfighters won’t judge you for being different.  We all just want to make the world suck less, and that means accepting people for who they are.  So in all my struggling, I found a community willing to accept me for who I was, completely and without hesitation.  And that’s a warm feeling to have in a dark and lonely place.

I was going to do whatever it took to survive, and I did.  I moved home out of that toxic environment.  I found new nerdfighter friends in Michigan.  I came back to my old job and started volunteering at a new place.  And I’m pleased to say that apart from a couple things, life is really great right now.  John and Hank Green, the Mountain Goats, and nerdfighteria became my foundation in that time of turmoil.  They all saved me from a dark place and I’ll never be the same without them.  DFTBA!

Harry Potter Challenge Day 19

Books or Films?

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Yet again, how is this even a question?!  While I give a lot of credit to the films for being very representative, they aren’t completely the books.  And it wouldn’t be possible for that to happen because then the films would be hours and hours long.  That’s not really the way the industry works.  They like profitability.  So no mini-series for me…for now.  I really hope that’s how they do a remake in like 50 years.  BBC HP mini-series.  Ah, a girl can dream…

There have only been a few times when the movies have shined higher than the books, and it’s minute.  Harry’s scene at Aragog’s death with the pincers, that is one of them.  But overall, the books cannot be beat.  Also the movie bastardized a couple of different characters and that makes me a giant squid of anger.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 18

Least Favorite Book

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As I mentioned with the movies, it is also the same with the books.  The first two are very introductory and geared towards the young readers.  Which is obviously fine, that’s how JK got followers in the first place.  But I don’t find myself nearly as attached to them as to the other books.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Days 15, 16, and 17

I am going to be up north all weekend, and while Harry Potter is usually always on my mind in some way (I should make butterbeer cupcakes soon...), this weekend will be a technology free zone for me.  So I'm posting the whole weekend today.  Let's begin...

Day 15: Who would be your best friends at Hogwarts (pick 3)?

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Ok, so first, obviously Hermy and I would be tight.  We’d totally hang out in the library and learn shit together and save everyone’s lives.  We’re awesome like that.

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Second, Luna is my homegirl.  We’re both weird and quirky and misunderstood.  I’d totally help her find her missing possessions or save her from sleepwalking, and she would teach me about nargles and Crumple-Horned Snorkaks which we would then go on vacay to find.

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Lastly, I don’t know if it would qualify as a friendship or more of a stalking thing, but Oliver Wood and I would become very close…and I would obviously find some way to make him fall in love with me.

Day 16: Favorite Professor

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McGonagall all the way!  She’s Scottish and snarky.  Her class would be the best.  I’ve always enjoyed teachers who have a teasing relationship with the class.  I think while she’d be strict, it is because she wants us to succeed.  But ultimately, she would be fun.  If not her, then Snape.  So I could just ogle him and ask him to say things in his sexy voice.

Day 17: What would your wand be made of and what would be in its core?

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A long time ago my bff found this awesome website about wands.  It was super in depth and amazing, and I’ve yet to be able to find it again.  The damn internet is too big!  (that’s what she said)  If I had to go off just picking my own, I’d probable say 9 inches, Ash, with a unicorn hair.  Length would be decent, ash wands are known to be loyal to their holders (loyalty is big with me since I’m Huffle), and this is strengthened when the core is unicorn hair.  Also I think unicorns are pretty.

That being said, I’m going to take a wand quiz or two and see what those say…

Ok Cupid determined my wand to be 9 ¾ inches, Oak, with Phoenix feather.  So in my initial guess, I was close on length. You can take the quiz here.

Another quiz (here) determines which character’s wand wood would you share.  No shock, I got Hermione. Considered as an uncommon type, Vine wands are said to be sensitive when it comes to choosing their rightful owners. Those who own Vine wands are said to be people with hidden depths in their personality and who often seek for a greater purpose. Characters who use wands made from Vine include Hermione Granger.”


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 14

Team Voldemort or Team Harry?

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How is this even a question?  I can fight evil and be awesome, or I can be evil and be an evil wizard’s bitch?  C’mon.  Voldemort doesn’t treat his staff very well because he doesn’t love anyone.  He can’t love anyone.  I don’t want to be part of that!  I’d much rather be Team Harry and conquer and win.  Also, Voldemort doesn’t offer any benefits to his employees except maybe death.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Harry Potter Challenge Day 13

Least Favorite Movie

I have the tendency to get bored during the first two.  The movies are introductory and more geared towards kids obviously, because as the movies get darker they get more adult.  But they’re still good.  I still love them, just not as much as the other ones.  I love vanilla ice cream, just not as much as I love chocolate.  Hooray ice cream metaphors!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Laugh Can Hide A Lot

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They say "Laughter is the best medicine."  And in some ways, I believe that.  I notice when I force myself to smile more that it becomes contagious.  That people return the smile.  That a day spent with laughter is a day not wasted.  But as I've mentioned before, struggling with depression or any mental illness can make smiles hard to come by.

Robin Williams' death, like most celebrity deaths, shocked people.  But one of the reasons it is even more shocking is not because of drugs or anything like that, but that this man who brought so much humor to the world, apparently killed himself.  Laughter can brighten your day, but it can also be a mask.

Mental illness is not something that can be seen or touched, but only felt by the person who deals with it.  Sure you can see the outward signs, but when someone is happy-go-lucky and smiling all the time, you never know what is really going on inside their head.  That's why depression and anxiety and other mental illnesses are so terrifying and dangerous.  Because people suffer in silence.  Because we can't tell from the outside that people need help until it is usually too late.

I suffered in silence.  I tried to kill myself secretly.  Because I didn't know what to tell people or what to say, or how to deal with the onslaught of judgment for the fact that I was a kid dealing with those kinds of feelings.  Mental illness doesn't pick and choose; it doesn't have a preference for men or women, adult or children.  Mental illness will take anyone.

So please, if you need to, ask for help.  There are people in the world who want only to help bear your burden.  You're not alone, as much as it may feel that way.  Don't feel the need to hide behind a mask.  Please seek help.  Whether you believe it or not, the world would be a dimmer place without you.

You can call a national hotline or find a more local one here.

Harry Potter Challenge Day 12

Your favorite pairing:
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Oh man, I could go so many ways with this post.  Namely, I never shipped Hermy and Ron in the first place.  I was always pining for Harry and Hermy.  My OTP!  But besides that, if we’re talking real couples I have two favorites.
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First, again as previously mentioned (see this is the problem when I’m too thorough), I love Lupin and Tonks.  He brings her to reality while she lightens his life.  She takes him for who he is, which is once a month moody and vicious (aka werewolf PMS).  He accepts her ever-changing style and clumsiness.
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My second favorite real couple is Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.  They stick together through everything.  Having a lot of kids, with not a lot of money.  Arthur’s strange obsessions.  Being ginger.  I mean, this couple survives everything. 

Now is the fun part, couples I wish were a thing…
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Does anyone else imagine Dumbledore (prior to the gay announcement) and McGonagall having some mistake sex?  Can’t you see that happening?  They’re stuck in this school together, and one night they’re both talking about how badly they need to get some and then BAM, it’s the next morning before classes and McGonagall is sneaking back to her room as a cat…yeah, I can see that happening.
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Also, the movies ended up doing this even though it wasn’t in the canon, but Luna and Neville.  They’re both kind of quirky and adorable and love odd things (nargles vs. plants).  It is just too cute.  Also, they would have pretty children.  Because Neville is damn fine.  I also ship that ADORABLE couple in the background. They are so cute!