Archive for June, 2008

What I Have Decided

June 30, 2008

I am so fucking ready for this book to be DONE.

And I have 6,000 of the last 20,000 words in hand….

… in scribbled notes and loose scenes and last night I wrote a really icky drug withdrawal torture scene, and this after I thought I was done writing icky scenes.

I’m thinking that tonight I will just write the last couple thousand words, and then fill in the whole damn middle part between the resurrection and Rhys and Suha and the rest trucking off into the desert to fulfill their part of the Big Plot Tie Up.

So. Fucking. Sickofthisdamnbook.

And then I have to start writing the third one!

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Conversations with my Hairdresser

June 29, 2008

Gone are the days of the $14.99 haircut. I started spending a fortune on my hair after 1) going to Supercuts for the 3rd time in three weeks trying to get them to fix the mullet they’d given me 2) getting dumped – for the second time – by the guy I was dating here in Dayton.

At some point, you just realize you have too much self-respect to spend the rest of your life looking like Raggedy Anne.

In any case, I’ve ended up with a hairdresser that reminds me of my sister. She’s short, mouthy, bleached blond, and meaty, with the chatty naivety of somebody about four years younger.

As we got to chatting, she asked if I lived in the apartments just across from The Greene, where I was getting my hair done. I pointed my building out to her (yes, it was just across the parking-lot construction going on right outside the salon windows) and she laughed and said. “That’s what I thought! We live in the same building. I saw you a few weeks ago and I was like, `I think I did her hair!'”

She moved in in May, and I moved in in April.

“You must love the commute,” I said. “Being able to just walk to work.”

“Oh, I don’t walk,” she said. “I drive.”

This gave me pause. It’s a ten minute walk across the nearly-constructed parking lot to get from my house to the salon. It will be five minutes as soon as the construction is done and they tear down the fences.

She drives to work? God, how Ohio, I thought.

“I was going to walk,” she said, “but my dad pointed out that if I did that, it would be easier for people to follow me from work, you know? So you get clients or weirdos following you home after work, and then they know exactly which apartment you live in.”

Ah, yes. It’s so fun to be a woman.

Actually, I thought, it’s fun to be a *young* woman, when you’re still ruled by (sometimes very valid) fear of the world at large. And men in particular.

This was another one of those little daily concerns that guys just never have to think about. There’s no concern about walking to work from you house. Or walking around after 9pm. Or trying to decide if wearing a tank top will be considered an invitation to harass or assault you.

But see, the thing is, I don’t think about those things so much anymore. Rightly or wrongly, I don’t know, but I don’t think about them as much. I’m confident enough that I could put up a fight. But more than that: I got tired of living in fear all the time. South Africa burned me out on that. I got paranoid and weird. And you know what? 99% of my freak-out fears were unjustified. I spent far more of my time worried about all the bad things that could happen to me than I did being in actual danger.

I always wonder where you draw that fine line. How much is too much caution? Sure, bad shit happens to people, especially women, cause people think we’re “easier” targets. Some of my confidence comes from knowing that I’m not an easy target. But am I any more or less safe than the woman who’s afraid to walk to work because some psycho will follow her home? Does the fear really save us, or does it oppress us?

When curfews get called because some guy is going around a college campus raping women, the curfew is on *women.* When we get assaulted or menaced, the first question people ask – the first question we ask ourselves – is what did I do to deserve this? How could I have avoided this? What did I do wrong?

This is oppression. It’s the worse kind of oppression because it’s the kind that’s so close to us, so tightly wound up in our society, in the way things *are* that we see it as normal. Obviously, if someone attacked you, you were doing something wrong. Don’t you read all those e-mails you get telling you how to avoid being raped in a parking lot? You should have checked your back seat before you got in! You should live in terror every time you unlock your car, carry groceries, walk to work. You must be ever vigilant! FEAR THE WORLD, PUNY WOMAN!

Well, you know what?

If I lived in the woods in some kind of uncivilized, barbaric conglomerate of loosely aligned clans, yeah, you’re right, we’d *all* need to be hyper vigilant. But you know what? This is a civilized fucking society. We should all watch out for each other. We shouldn’t put up with some rogue guy’s bullshit behavior. And we shouldn’t punish women’s freedom because of one stupid asshole.

I have always been an advocate of teaching women to fight back. We get so socialized to be fearful, to go quiet when menaced, to be good, meek, docile, nice people, because nothing bad ever happens to nice people. And it makes us easier to fuck up and fuck over.

I don’t want to raise women to live in fear. I don’t want that to be our first impulse. I want us to raise our sons to be good human beings and teach girls that telling that guy to get his hand the fuck off us isn’t “inconveniencing” him. It’s asking for your body back.

Fear makes me sad. It makes me look at all the fantastic things we could do and say and be if we weren’t crushed by fear. Everybody’s got fear, yeah, and there’s such a thing as being cautious, but “I can’t walk to work (in broad daylight, across a parking lot!) because I’m afraid of being assaulted in a posh part of town.” Wow, seriously. The Greene is in fucking Beavercreek. You pay $100 for a pair of jeans (I just paid $140 for a FUCKING HAIRCUT!!). There’s security everywhere. To not even feel safe *here*? Really?

Wow. Just… wow.

That’s not the world I want anybody living in.

Again, South Africa screwed up my standards. I’m not afraid of walking around downtown. I’m not afraid of walking around downtown after dark (which I have done). This is small potatoes compared to Durban. Does that mean I’m not aware of the risks? Of course I’m aware. I’m also aware that the risks are a lot less than we make them up to be.

Fear is one of our biggest oppressors.

I hated not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I hated feeling weak. It’s why I work out, speak my mind. I tried so hard to be a good, little, docile woman when I was a teenager. I tried so hard, but my body was all wrong, and I talked too loud, even then.

At some point, you have to realize that if trying to “fit in” is killing you, then maybe you’re not the problem. Maybe it’s the model. If trying to “be safe” feels like it’s choking you, maybe what you’re doing doesn’t make you as safe as you thought it did.

Safety is a joke, anyway. Fearing things… you know, it’s like fearing a chronic illness. Shit happens. You can sit around in your apartment being terrified of getting hit in the back of the head with a shovel, but illness sometimes does that. Oh, sure, there’s stuff you can try and avoid. You can not be stupid. Don’t try and walk four miles home, drunk, at 2am, and avoid the possible asshole who would take advantage of that. Don’t have sex with 12 different people over the course of a year and not use a condom, and avoid the higher possibility that you’ll get AIDS (or some other, less threatening disease). Don’t be stupid.

Not being stupid will certainly help reduce the possibility of you getting assaulted or getting a chronic illness. But it will never *eliminate* your risk.

So live your damn life. Don’t be stupid. But live.

Cause a lot of the shit that happens in our lives, we can control it. And some of it, a small but sometimes significant part, we can’t.

So have a beer, but don’t get drunk every night. Walk the fuck to work, but don’t tell all your clients your apartment number. Eat some cookies, but do something later to get your blood pumping again.

I’m all about not being stupid, but there’s something to be said for living without fear.

Interpreting Notes to Myself

June 28, 2008

I’m working on line edits this morning, and while paging through the typical “take out the ‘and’ insert a period” types of edits (I have a lot of winding, comma heavy sentences that must get truncated during revisions. This should not surprise anyone who reads this blog, or anybody who’s seen first drafts of my corp world writing), I found, at the bottom of one of the pages, an arrow pointing to a sentence describing Rhys’s wife sleeping.

Below the arrow I had written “Mad sex.”

I have no idea what this note means.

Knowing What to Keep

June 28, 2008

I’m sitting here on my porch on a hot summer night with a beer, watching the fireflies and listening to some good music. Man, it doesn’t get much better.

Saw The Wanted tonight.

Blood and gun battles in Chicago (in my old neighborhood! He snipes from one of the houses right next to the Wrigley Field stop!) and Angelina Jolie covered in tattoos and a great shirtless shot of James McAvovy (there should have been more of those).

Doesn’t get much better than that, either.

It was just about worth the $10. First, let’s get my biggest beef out of the way:

WTF???? There’s only ONE female assassin? What is it with these fucking movies and “the girl”? Can we have more than one kick ass assassin woman in a movie, please? You know, a movie where they’re kickass like Jolie instead of simpering, giggly little Charlie’s Angels.

Anyway, James McAvovy is your typical washed out, broken down deskjockey (customer service rep), belittled by his boss (gross fat person caricature, very badly and lazily done; ok, that’s another big beef I had). His girlfriend is fucking his best friend, he suffers from panic attacks…. your typical 21st century emasculated man.

Have I mentioned this is basically a superhero story?

One day, Jolie shows up and tells him he’s a superhero… I mean, super assassin. He can shoot the wings off flies, curve bullets, hit impossible targets. His anxiety attacks are actually his superpower kicking in (seriously! I want my faulty immune system to actually be a superpower side-effect, seriously!). By medicating himself, he’s been handicapping himself.

The solution to the cubicle bound, emasculated man?

Embrace the superkiller within.

It’s fight club, baby.

And we all know how much I love fight club.

See, the thing is, I love this stupid shit. I love the underdog getting hit on by somebody hot, telling off their ex, standing up for themselves, become a super assassin… (

It’s just…

It’s just……

The first thing I thought was, “Hot damn, why didn’t some hot guy every show up in my cubicle in Chicago and tell me I was a super assassin??? Cause that would be so fucking cool!!!”

See, you get these super wish fulfullment stories, these basic rites of passage for boys, and for guys they are these really powerful expressions of boy to man; growing up. You learn how to fight. You learn how to stand up to people. You take the power of life and death in your hands. You fight, you fuck, you kill, you have superpowers, you rule the fucking world.

And then you get these “chick flicks” aimed at young girls, with actual female heroines, that show our rite of passage as… getting some hot guy to marry us.

I mean seriously! So we can have babies and pick up socks and be “that bitch he nags about at work.”

I mean, WTF?

And then people wonder why there’s this stereotype about women feeling anxious and neurotic all the time.

It’s because we’re supressing our superpowers, yo (she says, cracking open her second beer. mmmm I have been hording this six pack of Negra Modelo for a month).

The first thing I thought was, “This would make a great comic book. How about Nyx has a daughter she doesn’t know about who’s a tax clerk, and her boyfriend’s fucking somebody else (one of her former girlfriends??), and she gets shit on all day, and then one day this bel dame comes up to her and tells her she’s a super assassin, and she gets to take control of her life and kick some ass and kick her boyfriend in the face and tell her boss to suck it.”

Because this is a great story. It’s great superhero wish fulfillment in a society where we have to supress every harsh, unhappy, uncivil, angry, violent impulse to live in an ordered, civilized world (I’m not knocking it. That’s necessary for civilization, but hot damn it needs an outlet, hence my love of Fight Club). So instead we just numb and drug ourselves on video games and mortgages, and one day you wake up and realize you’ve settled for some life you never wanted or asked for (I’m not in this place, but I know a lot of people who are). Turns out, in fact, the movie was based on a comic book (which is now on my wish list).

Being based on a comic book may also explain that whole “only one female assassin” thing. Comic books are even worse than regular media with that whole “oh hey, sorry, didn’t you know that the only women in the world are the chicks the male protagonist is fucking?”

What did I love about this movie, besides all the blood and gore and assassins and gun fighting (and James McAvoy? and kickass Jolie?).

I liked that I walked out of the movie wanting to be better than I am. Wanting to make the most of what I have.

Because we all really do have superpowers. We have something we’re good at, passionate about, something we push back or suppress because people tell us we’re weird, or we’ll never make it, or we’re not talented enough, or special enough, that that kind of life is meant for somebody else. We’re told that we’ll fail. Are you some kind of arrogant bitch, to think you’ll get anywhere? Are you delusional? You’re just some fat, plainfaced nobody. Get over yourself.

And they scream it at you, you know why? Because if you fail, you validate their hollow, cowardly little choices. The cowardly fear of failure that stuck them all in the lives they hate and got them screaming at you in the first place.

You know what?

Your life is yours. You’re not doomed to never-ending rent, a spouse who cheats on you, a deadend job, an abusive boss, a life empty of everything save jelly doughuts.

You can build another life.

Thing is, too many people wait around for a hot Jolie or some rich Prince Nothing to deliver them from their own soft little lives. In that, this movie disappointed a bit. He was “rescued” from his dull life, in essence, by Jolie.

I mean, hello, “Hi, I knew your dad. Guess what? You’re a super assassin!”

But watch what they did with that at the end. Watch the choice he was given, and the choice he made.

We are all given that same choice, every day. To do what is safe, expected. To marry the safest choice, to do the practical thing. To give up what’s in our heart for shit we don’t want and stuff we don’t need.

I look at my life. What I’ve done, what I’ve made, the choices. I want to live bigger and bolder and louder. It’s been hard to come this far. It’s hard, sometimes, to look at my peers and go, “Isn’t that what I should want? Am I weird for not having that? Or even wanting that? Is it weird that I’d rather build a book career and go to Peru than get married and have kids and work at this job forever (even though I like it – cozy as it is, this is a stepping stone to bigger things; that’s my plan. Sure, it may fail. But if you’re not aiming big, what the fuck are you doing still breathing)? Is it selfish and fucked up? Or is it just me, following that drive for something else, better, more, everything I can be?”

My path isn’t everybody’s. I have a long way to go. There are things I should have done differently (much of it to do with CC debt and friendships), but you can live a little wild so long as you’re willing to fail. And fail. And repair. And then fail again. That’s what it is, to strive for the best you can be. One long series of failures.

What’s the quote?

“Creativity is allowing yourself to fail. Art is knowing what to keep.”

Life is knowing what to keep.

Conversations with My Coworkers

June 27, 2008

Coworker: “I know I look old, but would you believe I’m going to be 30 in a week?”

Me: “Holy crap, you’re only a little more than a year older than me? I thought you were ancient, like the DB guy.”

Coworker: “Great, thanks.”

Me: “Know what I’m doing for my 30th birthday?

Coworker: ?

Me: “Going to Peru.”

Coworker: (dubious, like I’m trying to pull one over one him) “Are you serious??”

Why wouldn’t I be serious???

Sometimes I think I live in a different world than most people. I think I’ve just made really different choices.

Thought Experiment

June 27, 2008

Must Have

June 27, 2008

What a Difference the Gym Makes

June 27, 2008

I’ve come home and written original stuff every night this week. I’m reading books again. I started re-hashing my comic book ideas. My insatiable, nauseating appetite has subsided, as has my compulsion to go to bed before 9pm. I found myself dancing around my apartment tonight for no reason.

The turning point was last week, when I became nauseous every time I got out of bed. It was bad enough that I called in sick to work and literally stayed in bed all day. I didn’t do anything. I slept and slept. I got up at 3pm and found that the nauseousness has subsided, ate some whole food, read for an hour, and went back to bed until 5:30 am the next morning.

It occurred to me at some point during that day that this sounded a lot like depression.

I was battling a vicious appetite every night, having trouble concentrating on anything long enough to get any serious writing done, and was content to let a lot of little chores around the house slide.

Why do I let myself avoid the gym like that? Moving really screwed up my routine. I knew it was going to be a problem, but I was enjoying the novelty so much that I just let it slide. That lasted for quite a while. Steph and the Old Man had an elliptical machine at the house, so the nights I didn’t work out at work or at the gym, I generally found time on the elliptical. Moving just completely screwed my entire living routine.

Ever since I moved, I’ve been happy and all, and settling in, but not exactly… efficient. Or productive. And the writing just wouldn’t come. Line edits have been torture. What I’m writing now isn’t brilliant, but it’s new material, it’s progress toward my next book delivery, and it’s getting things going again. Man, it’s been an unproductive three months. I was starting to worry over how long this bizarre neutral state was going to last.

I realized tonight that that 30th birthday Peru trip is only a year and a half off, too. Having a world jaunt to look forward to while working toward financial freedom in Dayton is also a pretty big motivator.

But mostly, it’s the gym.

I’ve had to manipulate it so that my sugar’s at at least 250 before I start working out. Just 40 minutes of cardio takes me down to 90. It’s wicked. I don’t remember the change being that extreme, but then, I used to do some weight training afterward, which usually make it go up again.

Still, a 160 point drop in an hour? That’s just wicked. I think I’ll be reducing my Lantus in the morning. 40 minutes flies by pretty quickly, and I’d like to bottom out my cardio at about 45-50. Do that four days a week, dance around my apartment and write like a crazy person all week.

It’s like I’ve been asleep. Which I enjoyed quite a bit, mind you. It’s just that I knew I was going to have to wake up sometime.

And, Finally

June 27, 2008

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
– Ernest Hemingway

Seriously, people!

June 27, 2008