Tuesday, December 31, 2013

the year end stuff

This morning, around, oh, 3:45am, I threw back the covers, grabbed my pillow, and stomped out of the bedroom because Joe was snoring so loud that I felt my only options at that point were to either smother him with a pillow or go sleep downstairs. I chose to sleep downstairs. I hope Joe appreciates that.

So, you know, I guess it would seem that the year is going out the way it so often comes in: with too little sleep and a headache. I guess what I'm trying to say is I feel hungover even though I haven't had a drop of alcohol which seems unfair? But c'est la vie.

I'm so tired, in fact, that I have started babbling even more incoherently than I usually do, leading Joe to tell me multiple times to just take a nap already. But will I? No! Because I'm not tired! I am basically this today:

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TAKE A NAP
But that's not what I want to focus on. OH NO IT'S NOT. It seems only right that I write some sort of end of the year wrap-up, because of, I don't know, blogging rules or some shit. So here are some things, mostly good, that happened this year.

1. I had some book reviews published on Pajiba. SO AWESOME.

2. Related: Marcus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, tweeted me about my review of his book. SO VERY AWESOME.

3. Also related: blogger and writer Pamela Ribon also tweeted in response to a review. ALSO SO VERY AWESOME.

4. I quit the job that was causing me emo feelings.

5. I got a new job where it's actually in the job description to play with dogs and cats.

6. I went on several trips, Chicago (twice!), South Carolina, Florida, and had almost 100% positive experience with all! I say almost because one trip was for work. The non-work parts were awesome. The work-work parts were...not.

7. Two friends had babies.

8. PENGUINS.

9. Had some feelings about volunteering.

10. Wrote a lot. I know it doesn't seem like it if you just look here but I wrote here and for Cannonball Read and Ashley's Harry Potter project but I also did a lot more personal writing. So there's that.

There's probably more but I'm tired of typing and really wanted to end on 10 SO THERE.

Happy New Year, internet. I wish you many David Tennant GIFs (and, you know, other good things) in the coming year!

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Allons-y!

Monday, December 30, 2013

hold onto your butts

I can't believe I haven't written about this yet. I guess I've been busy...um...watching The United States of Tara in its entirety over the course of a week. PRIORITIES.

Christmas came and went, as it does, and very quickly, as it ALSO does, and faster and faster each year. But, lucky woman that I am, I got to open one of my Christmas presents early.

I came home from work one evening, exhausted and stinking of puppies (which is pretty standard these days), and trying to work up the energy to go to my work Christmas party (which wasn't too difficult, it's just that I need to work up energy for any kind of extended social interaction where small talk might be expected), when I noticed a card sticking out of my Christmas stocking.

Inside were two tickets to Newport Aquarium's Penguin Encounter. See:

Craziest eyes to have ever crazy eyed.


My response to opening this gift was something like, "What? What? What does this mean? Does this mean...oh my god...oh my god...what does this mean? Does this really mean we get to meet penguins? Like meet meet them? Like shake hands?" for, oh, about half an hour? And then for the rest of the week? JOE IS SO LUCKY.

It was awesome, you guys. The encounter itself lasts only about twenty minutes, which passes far too quickly, but it's great. I'd go again. Like, SO MANY TIMES AGAIN. I'd pay five times as much if it meant I could spend twice as much time with the penguins. I briefly considered asking for a job application once it was over. I mean, how different are penguins from dogs really?

When you arrive at the penguin encounter, a penguin handler makes you wait five minutes while he or she tells you about how you can't pick up the penguins and cuddle them like little babies unless you don't have a particular fondness for your eyeballs anymore. (Still. It's tempting.)

After the liability spiel, you're finally allowed in the room with the penguins. When we went, there were about eight penguins roaming about the room. You mostly just sit in one place and have to wait for the penguins to approach, which is difficult. I really wanted to get up and waddle around with them but I don't think that's allowed.

The handler picks up various penguins and you're allowed to, like, pet them on the back and wings. They're so soft! I wasn't expecting that. And they sometimes make sounds like braying donkeys. Definitely was not expecting that, either. Anyway. Here are some pictures of penguins. That's what you're here for, right?

HELLO I AM A PENGUIN.

I named this one Donkey because she made donkey noises. CREATIVITY.

Blueberry tried to steal my umbrella. I guess cause it was blue.

Newport Aquarium opened in 1999. It's open every day (except major holidays), there are five penguin encounters daily, and each encounter has a limit of 12 people. Assuming the penguin encounters started when Newport Aquarium opened, over 300,000 people have taken this tour. It's fairly easy to buy a ticket. It's not all that expensive. Anyone could do it. But I don't care. It still feels special. Like, I touched a penguin! Who cares if so many other people have done the same? Extraordinary experiences don't become any less extraordinary just because others have experienced them.

I'm not sure when my obsession with penguins began. It was probably always there, along with my obsession with, oh, all other animals. I know seeing this video a million years ago definitely didn't help:


And this latest penguin encounter has only strengthened my resolve to have my own pet penguin someday. I'LL SPARE NO EXPENSE.

Friday, December 06, 2013

All I want for Christmas is this

I keep dreaming about work. But not my current job or anything, because that would be normal. No, I keep dreaming about my old job, which is very annoying as I no longer work there. 

I guess I had a lot more anxiety tied up in my previous job than I realized. The reasons aren't really important. But apparently the anxiety didn't magically go away, even though I haven't worked there in months. I had the most vivid dream about it last night, so vivid that I woke up convinced I was running late, that I needed to get up right away and leave early since it was snowing.

I don't have to be at work until 11:30 today. I woke up at 7:30. So. You do the math.

I don't have anxiety dreams about my new job. Not yet, anyway. Maybe those don't show up until you've been there at least six months. Still. I wish I'd stop dreaming about my old one. I'm not holding my breath or anything, I mean, after all, I had an anxiety dream about high school a while ago and high school is a lot further back than a few months.  

Speaking of work (NICE SEGUE), I had yesterday off so I took my sister to see Catching Fire. We went in the middle of the afternoon and there were about ten other people in the theater, and yet there was still a lady sitting a few rows behind us, explaining specific plot points (loudly, of course) to her husband. She was one of those people who, instead of whispering to her partner during non-silent parts of the movie, would try and speak OVER the loud parts, because OMG what if he couldn't hear her? What if he didn't know that, in the previous movie, Peeta and Katniss had almost eaten poison berries? What if he forgot that Katniss had volunteered for Prim? What if he didn't remember that District 13 supposedly didn't exist? OMG PEOPLE GO HOME AND READ THE BOOKS.

Usually movie-talking sends me into an apoplectic rage. I normally sit there fuming, wishing I could get up and scream, "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UUUUUUUP" into the person's face.

Which. I never do. Not out loud. But my brain always looks like this:

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Actually...it's probably more like this:

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But it didn't bother me that much yesterday. I thought, "well, maybe he's hard of hearing and he missed that part." I guess I finally remembered the whole "this is water" thing while I was actually IN the moment. Score.

(Though that didn't stop me from passive aggressively complaining about the ongoing idiot commentary within earshot of Talking Lady as we exited the theater. YOU GUYS I CAN'T HELP MYSELF.)

Anyway. I'm finding it hard to get worked up about things lately, especially this morning, as right now I'm sitting on the couch, curled up with Max, a blanket, and a hot cup of coffee, the computer screen illuminated by the Christmas tree next to me. I'm listening to the Muppets sing Christmas carols and snow is falling softly outside. I plan on reading Harry Potter until it's time to leave for work, where I will get to play with puppies and kittens until I come home and hang out with my family for the rest of the evening. No wonder I can't bring myself to get worked up about anything, not even Talky Lady and crazy anxiety dreams. Hopefully it'll stay this way. You know, if the fates allow and all that.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

My idiocy is well-documented on this blog, but I really outdid myself yesterday. I went to the grocery after work, in the midst of a (barely) snowstorm, two days before Thanksgiving. And not only that, I went to the bad Kroger, the one with long lines and not enough cashiers, the one with questionable produce at the best of times, all because it’s five minutes closer than the good Kroger. I always do this. The good Kroger is so nice. It’s newer, everyone who works there smiles and says hi and asks if you need help instead of glaring at you or avoiding eye contact, and they always ask me if I’d like help out to my car. I would never, ever take them up on that, but I like being asked. It makes me feel like a 50s housewife for a moment (and a moment is really the only length of time I ever want to feel like a 50s housewife).

http://frenchfriedgeek.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/go-read-the-50s-housewife-experiment/
Her eyes are screaming.

I walked around the store, doubling back now and then as I inevitably forgot something, and spent my time mentally killing everyone in my path. The woman examining a box of band-aids, somehow blocking two aisles: DEAD. The man careening one of those stupid car carts down an aisle while his screaming children orbited around it like flies on a turd: DEAD. The lady standing in front of the bananas, blocking the entire display with her cart, while she obliviously chattered away on her phone: DOUBLE DEAD.

As I walked down the baking aisle, scowling at the world in front me, my brain looked like this:

I made this myself.

And then this lady, an older woman who was being trailed by several grandchildren, started coming down the aisle. I was already mentally rolling my eyes as her grandchildren splintered away and she slowly rolled her cart down the very middle of the aisle. However, she maneuvered her cart to one side when she saw me and then she completely erased my bad mood. It was like magic.

“Do I need nutmeg? Hmm, I can’t remember if I need nutmeg,” she said to the grandchildren who were no longer behind her. She kept walking, paying no mind, then looked straight at me.

“What do you think, honey? Do I need nutmeg?” she asked.

And without even thinking, I blurted out, “Of course, you can never have too much nutmeg. I bet you’ll be glad you have it.” She laughed and thanked me for my help, then continued making her way down the aisle as I exited the other end, grinning like a fool.

It reminded me, almost exactly, of a commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave called This is Water. Have you heard it? Here, just watch it. I know ten minutes of internet video is like ten hours of real time, but I promise you that it’s worth it.


I wish I could tell you that, after my short interaction with that lady, I made a conscious effort to pull my head out of my ass and remind myself that no one else in the store really wanted to be there either, and maybe I did, for a few moments, until someone else entered my glare zone. So, you know. Can't really put that one in the win column.

Although, at least I’ve got the perspective now, right? And just in time for Thanksgiving, too.

Monday, November 25, 2013

FABLES review: Volumes 1 & 2


It seems only right, as it’s been announced that FABLES will be ending at issue #150, that I should finally start my review of the series. Nothing like waiting til the last minute, yes? I’ve been meaning to review FABLES since my last go round of Cannonball and, in fact, did manage to at least review one collection last year, a Bigby-centric collection called Werewolves of the Heartland.

I wish I’d loved that collection more. I’m surprised I didn’t because, as I mentioned, it was Bigby-centric, but I suppose they can’t all be winners. Luckily, the first two FABLES collections, Legends in Exile and Animal Farm, are absolutely:

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Can't stop thinking about DOCTOR WHO: blame the 50th Anniversary.
I came to comics late in life, thinking (wrongly, like so many people) that they were all superheroes and big-boobed-spandex-clad ladies. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I started reading comics and FABLES was one of the first.

FABLES hits all the marks for me. There’s an ongoing mystery, a smart-as-a-whip-takes-no-nonsense heroine, a tortured hero, still haunted by things he’s done in the past, an unlikely romance that sparks in the first collection and heats up throughout the rest. And, best of all, fairy tale characters, just, ALL OVER THE PLACE.

When ABC announced that Once Upon a Time was going to be a thing, I was of two minds. Part of me thought, “awesome, I love stuff about fairy tales, how cool!” but the other part of me, the larger, angrier part, just think-shouted, “WHAT THE FUCK WHY ISN’T IT FABLES?”

I did try Once Upon a Time for about half a season but it just didn’t hold the appeal for me that FABLES did. Probably because, the entire time I was watching it, I was just wishing it was FABLES

Oh well. Moving on, I guess.

Slight spoilers, ahoy.

Fables vol 1Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

Our story takes place in a part of New York called Fabletown, where a bunch of fairy tale characters took refuge when their Homelands were invaded by the Adversary and his forces. The Fables have disguised themselves as normal New Yorkers, so the Mundys of the world can’t detect that there are immortal beings in their midst.

We’re introduced to some important Fables, namely Snow White, Fabletown’s deputy mayor, and Bigby (formerly the Big Bad Wolf), the town’s sheriff, when Rose Red (Snow White’s sister) is allegedly murdered. Bigby and Snow team up to find Rose Red’s killer. Prime suspects include Jack (of beanstalk fame), Rose Red’s longtime boyfriend, and Bluebeard, her secret fiance.

We also learn that Bigby has been nursing some hardcore unrequited love for the beautiful Snow White so, you know, YAY SHIPPING.

Fables vol 2  Fables, Vol. 2: Animal Farm

So last issue, we met the human Fables but you just know there are non-human ones, right? RIGHT? Well. There are. FYI. The three little pigs. The three bears. Three blind mice. Chicken Little. Yada yada. While the human Fables get to enjoy the conveniences of big city life, the non-human Fables have to live on The Farm, so as not to arouse suspicion in the Mundy world when someone sees a talking pig wandering around. The Farm seems nice enough, really, but some of the non-human Fables bristle at being told they HAVE to stay there.

Enter the revolution, which Snow White and Rose Red stumble right into. Shit gets real, you guys. Shit gets SUPER TOTALLY REAL.

Anyway, it’s hard to review these without giving too much away. You should probably just read them, OK? OK. Good talk.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Children's Grief Awareness Day: November 21st, 2013


Tuesday night, on my way home from volunteering, I was listening to the all-Christmas radio station and then BOOM suddenly I was crying.

I was not all that surprised.

Christmas music always makes me think of my grandma. Grandma died three years ago, on October 15th, 2010, a day that feels like both yesterday and a million years ago. Sometimes, in weak moments, moments when I'm tired or caught off guard because I see something Grandma would have thought was funny, I forget that she's gone, even. How is that possible?

I've been volunteering with Oak Tree Corner, a children's grief group, for six years now, so I understand that the the stages of grief are not something that can be charted. It's not like, OK, I will be in denial for a week and then angry for three weeks and I will bargain for just a few days, but I'll be depressed for three months, and then I will enter acceptance and will be done grieving for this person forever. CASE CLOSED.

I know that's not how it works. I understand, logically, that the grieving process is a dark and convoluted mess, a twisted timeline that loops back in on itself and starts and stops depending on mood or circumstance. And yet I'm still surprised when I find myself weeping quietly in the car along to the sweet sounds of Karen Carpenter singing, "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

And I'm lucky. With the exception of my younger cousin and a friend's brother from college, the deaths in my life have been due to old age or after a long illness. They've been grandparents and great-aunts and uncles, a beloved pet, sad still, of course, but not altogether unexpected.

So when I go to Oak Tree Corner and I hear some of the things these kids are struggling with, I realize just how lucky I am. My grandma was a twin, identical, and I remember how confusing it was, emotionally, when I saw her twin for the first time, just before the funeral. So when I hear a story of a child struggling with something similar, but like, times 100, it makes me wonder just how else I could be helping. Because if I was confused, how confused was that kid, you know?

These are the things I find myself thinking about today, on Children's Grief Awareness Day, and as we approach the holidays. The holidays are pretty much universally acknowledged to be the worst time of year for those grieving a recent loss. They really throw into stark relief just what's missing from your life, in a way that you might be able to ignore at any other time of year. Family traditions that the person was a part of no longer hold the same joy. It feels wrong or at least...off in some way to continue them without that person you loved so dearly.

It does get easier as the years go on, but it still hurts. The fresh slice of pain, blade-sharp, that took your breath away that first year fades to a dull ache as the years pass. It never stops hurting, though. It just hurts in a new way.

I spend a lot of my time thinking about Oak Tree Corner and the kids there. And yet I still always feel like there's more I could be doing. If only I thought about myself less, tried a little harder, gave a little more...yada yada yada. Everyone feels like that, though, like there's more they could be doing, because there IS always more we could be doing. So, today feels like a good day to renew my efforts a bit, to pledge to do more next year than I did this past year, and to look for new ways to help.

Join me

You can also find a list of children's grief support groups throughout the US on the National Alliance for Grieving Children's website.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

this post has no point but I had fun writing it and isn't that all that matters?

They say everyone has a super power (I mean, right? Someone says that, I'm sure.) and if that's true, mine is...I don't even know what to call it. I'm...really good at recognizing voiceover actors in commercials (or whatever)? (Or whatever...what a great origin story.) Anyway. I identified John Krasinski as the Esurance guy in about two seconds and it wasn't JUST because I used to spend all of my free time watching The Office.

It's not just that, though. Sometimes I can recognize an actor or actress from just seeing them for a split second, even if they're not all that famous and the part they're playing is miniscule at best. (For instance, Cary from The Good Wife is in an episode of Freaks & Geeks for, like, 30 seconds. I'm not sure he even has a name. He is SUPER young. But I totally got him. YOU HEAR ME, HE'S MINE, I GOT HIM.)

In these days of constant internet access, my superpower is kind of moot. But even back before I had an IMDb app on my phone, I could identify an actor and rattle off a list of other shows or movies they'd been in. It was like I had IMDb in my head. I AM IMDb! My friends would be all, "Who is that?" and I'd be like, "Joshua Jackson," and they'd be like, "what do I know him from?" and I'd say, "Dawson's Creek?" and they'd say, "no," and I'd be like, "Urban Legend?" and they'd be like, "whaaa?" and I'd be like, "Mighty Ducks?" and they'd be like, "OH YEAH." (This is a terrible example, everyone knows who Joshua Jackson is, PACEY 4EVA!!!)

I am the Rainman of pop culture. If people are talking about a movie and they can't think of the name, I'm there. If you can't remember the name of the guy who pushed Spike off of the giant tower in Buffy's The Gift, I can tell you it's Joel Grey, who also played the Wizard in Wicked on Broadway. Most recently, it was recognizing Henry Francis (Betty's new husband on Mad Men) on an episode of The X-Files just by his voice. YOU GUYS I FREAK MYSELF OUT SOMETIMES NO JOKE.

But my greatest act of pop culture genius happened the other night (or like...a month ago...I started this post a long time ago, apparently) and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to top it. It came, surprisingly enough, as a result of watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In the episode, they were playing charades or something and Charlie (MY SOULMATE) started with this:

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And almost immediately upon him starting the thing with his nose, I shouted, "WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE," and then Joe LOST HIS SHIT when it turned out that's exactly what Charlie was doing. What can I say? It's a gift. And I promise to use my powers for good, at least most of the time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today is 11/11 QUICK MAKE A WISH

What? Anyway.

I have the day off, not because of Veteran’s Day, but because I worked all weekend and so this glorious day is mine, all mine, to do whatever I want and that whatever I want is mostly nothing.

Part of the nothing-wanting is because I am siiiiiiiiiick. Like, normal wintery sinus crud, so not a huge deal, but it makes my head feel all swimmy and makes me not want to do anything. Like write. It most definitely makes me not want to write (this doesn’t count as writing because all I’m doing is typing whatever pops into my brain like WALNUTS or PANCAKES or CHEESECAKE my god I’m hungry).

But the not writing is a problem because I’m still NaNoing and so I must write at least 1667 words today to stay on schedule. The trick to NaNo, at least for me, is to write every day and, more importantly, to get ahead of the word count early on because I will inevitably A) get super busy or B) get sick or C) BOTH and this year it was C) BOTH because LUCKY ME. However, up until today, I was a day or two ahead in terms of word count, so my not writing the full 1667 words over the weekend didn’t matter a bit. Until today. When I still don’t feel like writing. And yet I must.

You may be thinking, “Well, Jennie, why are you writing this blog post instead of writing for NaNo,” and I will tell you it’s because we’ve entered Week 2 of NaNo, aka, the week you realize your novel is going absolutely nowhere and you don’t know what to do about it. No lie, last night I wrote a letter to myself within the novel talking about how terrible it was and how there was no plot but then, wouldn’t you know it, a plot point presented itself. So, my fellow NaNoers, I recommend just going balls out crazy the next time your stuck and have one of your characters start talking to you.

This post, as you may have noticed, has no point. Here is a GIF of Tina Belcher aka ALL OF US. Good day to you, sirs.

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Been there.

Monday, November 04, 2013

I'll go first.

This little blog is turning ten this month. Ten! A decade of insanity, wrapped up in a messy little package.

I can't believe how much blogging has changed. The personal blogs like this one, the ones that used to be updated daily, sometimes multiple times a day (ahem), are really no more. I mean, they still exist, of course, but they're not as easy to find. Or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. Ever since Greader went away, I've fallen behind on my blog-reading, even though I replaced Greader with Feedly. It's just not the same, though. I'm much lazier, as is everyone else, it seems. Everyone's Twittering or Tumbling (myself included but, like, mostly Tom Hiddleston GIFs) and, when you can shoot out your ideas that quickly, why put any thought and effort into a longer blog post? And if you DO happen to put in that effort, why not just post it on Twitter and Facebook so your followers don't even have to log in to their feed reader. GOD, INTERNET, MAKE IT EASIER FOR ME TO READ YOU.

Anyway, the internet is changing, blah blah blah, and those who don't wish to fade away must change with it...I guess? There's just so much internet to internet now. There's blogging and Tumblring and Twittering and making Pinterest boards and Vines and WHAT THE HELL IS A SNAPCHAT EVEN? I mean, there are only so many projects you can keep up with before your brain explodes and you just shut down completely and do absolutely nothing except watch The X-Files for hours and hours in your pajamas and then you realize it's almost 5pm and you haven't showered NOT THAT I'M SPEAKING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OR ANYTHING.

I'm not even sure what my point is, really, except that lately I feel like I've been half-assing a whole bunch of things instead of whole-assing anything and, as Ron Swanson has pointed out, that's no good.

See?

I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I've done it in the past and finished it twice and yet...I've done nothing with the drafts of either novel. Even calling them novels feels wrong because they both need extreme editing before I'd even show them to anyone and yet I can't bring myself to go back and reread them. It's scary. Even though I know first drafts are terrible, I'm scared of how terrible my own first drafts are going to be. 

And yet, I have this terrible habit of going back to reread old blog posts, as if getting lost in the archives of my past mistakes is going to benefit me in some way. I'm really trying hard not to do that anymore. It never leads anywhere good. It's like going into your and reading stuff from old crushes or exes or friends. You just end up feeling bad about yourself. How is that beneficial?

So, though this blog is turning ten and it's sometimes fun to look back (but not in anger) and all, I invite you NOT to go back and reread any of my old posts (please) but let's jump forward, OK? Let's pretend we can see what the next ten years are going to bring, all the good, all the bad, and let's just jump the fuck right in.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

shameless self-promotion time, whoo!

So, in an effort to make it look like I post here more than once a month (or two), I thought I'd start cross-posting stuff I write in OTHER places, in case you A) care and B) somehow miss my constant FBing and tweeting about whatever it is.

Last year, I took part on Cannonball Read and, while I didn't reach a full 52 book reviews for the year, it was so much fun I'm doing it again this year.

One of the best things about CBR is that you get to meet (well, "meet") other book-lovers. The other best thing is you get lots and lots of book recommendations, almost too many HAHA JK THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MANY. The other OTHER best thing is that sometimes your review might be published on Pajiba.

I've loved Pajiba for years and years but it was through CBR that I worked up the courage to actually interact with the community, commenting on articles and reviews and such. Which is super happy fun times! Duh!

Anyway. My point, and I do have one, is that I recently had a review appear on Pajiba which is just the greatest feeling, you know? IT IS. TRUST ME. I wouldn't lie to you. 

If you're interested at all, the link is HERE.

And if you want to read any of my incoherent ranting about OTHER books I've read, you can go HERE. You should also peruse the rest of the reviews on that site because there are some TOP NOTCH A++ reviews in that place. 

Anyway. Hi!

Monday, October 07, 2013

the one where I quit my (seemingly) great job and start something new

Lately, my favorite routine is coming home from work and baking while I listen to Welcome to Night Vale. It's not something I planned. I don't do it every day, or even every week. Just whenever I feel like it.

It's new. I like it.

***

About a month ago, I left my old job. The next day, I went to Myrtle Beach with Joe's family, and, when I got back, I started a new job. So. You know. Things have been a bit crazy around here. My new job is completely different from anything I've done in the past. There's office work, sure, but I have a much more active role in daily goings on at the company. I love it, of course, but it's taken some getting used to. My schedule is completely different, so my body is tired and my brain is confused. But it's been perfect, really. Exactly what I needed.

The job I used to have wasn't terrible or anything, but I couldn't wait to leave it. I worked for an arts non-profit, located downtown, and I worked in a beautiful building with great people. But I didn't get to do any of the fun stuff. I didn't get to interact with the public when they came to shows, see how excited they were. I didn't get to talk up any of the upcoming shows, unless I happened to be at a career fair, because I was in HR.

HR never really gets to do any of the fun stuff. HR is behind the scenes, which I actually prefer, but sometimes you just want to DO, you know? Don't get me wrong, it's important to have an HR department. (Just trust me on this, naysayers.) But I didn't want to be part of it anymore.

***

I went to the annual SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) conference back in June. It's the largest HR conference IN THE WORLD, boasting something like 28,000 attendees, and all of them were extremely passionate about HR.

All except me, it seemed.

Every morning, there was a keynote speaker. The first day it was Hilary Clinton, the one speaker I was actually excited about, but we missed it because our flight got in too late. The second day was Blake Mycoskie, the creator of TOMS shoes. The last speaker was Mark Kelly, with a special appearance by Gabby Giffords (and holy shit was that something).

It was the third day, the day of some speaker I don't even remember, that I had a bit of a breakdown. An existential crisis, if you will. I got up at one point to use the bathroom and, rather than try and find my seat again in the cavernous auditorium, I sat on the floor in the back, leaned against the wall, and tried to pay attention.

It was then, in the midst of thousands of people clapping for "strategic thinking," and "game-changers" and [insert other annoying buzzwords here] that I thought, "What the hell am I doing here?" How could all of these people bring themselves to care about this shit, let alone at 8:30 in the morning?

But I sat there, almost in tears, wondering how in the world I'd ended up in this place, and sent desperate texts to Joe.

Yes, you could say I was being a bit overdramatic.

***

This epiphany or whatever you want to call it made me start to think about what I wanted. And then later, on the way home, there was an incident, one in which my boss said some, just, unbelievably rude and crazy things to me (this was not outside the norm of her behavior), that just about broke me (straw, camel's back, all that). I fumed the entire way home and practically ran out of the airport once we landed. I went into work the next day ready to turn in my notice. It was crazy, and irresponsible, and obviously I didn't do it, but I really, really wanted to. I've never come close to doing anything so irresponsible.

Instead, I started applying for jobs. Which is as equally frustrating and soul-crushing as is going to a job day after day that you hate. I found myself applying for HR jobs, because that's what I'm qualified for, with a sense of resignation. I wondered why I would want to leave a company I liked just to work another HR job. I wondered what the other options were.

***

Lo! But behold, a shining light in the distance, brought to me by the magic of social media! Someone on Facebook posted a job for an Adoption Counselor at a nearby animal shelter. This person would get to work with animals and make sure they found good homes. Puppies! Kittens! YOU GUYS.

"Shit," I thought. "I'd better apply for this."

So I did. And I interviewed. And I got it.

It's part-time. It doesn't pay as well as my old job. But I love going into work. I love it. I don't come home hating myself and the world. I don't cringe every time I open my work email or get a text from my new boss. No one snaps at me or assumes I'm an idiot or micromanages everything I do. People trust me. It's magical! I'm happier (ask Joe), so much happier that I can't believe I wasted so much time being unhappy in my old job.

SPEAKING of Joe, this is really all thanks to him. I was unsure about taking this job, being part-time and less pay, but he was adamant. He pushed me, in a kind way, into being brave and trying something new. This is what he does. That's why he's the best. 

I don't know where this new path will lead. Maybe I'll work with animals forever in some way. Maybe this is just a thing I'll do for a while. Maybe (HOPEFULLY) I'll use more of my free time to write and be able to make that into something. WHO KNOWS. I don't. And for a person who plans EVERYTHING, including their own free time, that is a pretty big fucking deal.

Monday, August 05, 2013

I added lots of GIFs and videos for you guys because this contains all the words in the universe.

For my next trip down movie-memory lane, I’ve chosen to watch Now & Then, a movie I associate with Casper both because of the Devon Sawa connection AND because I watched both of them eleventy billion times as a kid. But, as much as I loved Casper, my heart really belongs to this coming-of-age tale featuring four best friends.

Look, it’s impossible to watch this movie and not compare it, at least a teensy bit, to Stand by Me, another coming of age story that stars four boys instead of four girls. But while both focus on friendship and the mysteries surrounding death, Stand by Me is clearly the darker of the two, both by benefit of being written by Stephen King and because the boys are taking a trip to see a DEAD BODY.

Compared to that, Now & Then seems much more light and frivolous, though there are some heavier storylines dealing with death and divorce. There’s room for both of them, though, in any child’s movie repertoire. Girls need coming of age stories just as much as boys do, and I guess they could have worse role models (i.e. a Kardashian) than the four young women featured in this movie.

ANYWAY, I’d skip this recap if you don’t have a soft spot for Devon Sawa or GIRL POWER. 

The movie opens with a game of Red Rover. All of the neighborhood children are there, it would seem, and all but four girls are on one team. Those girls are screwed. But no! They call over the nose-picking weakling and he doesn’t break through their arms, but it’s mostly because they totally cheat! They’re not just holding hands, they’re clasping elbows, creating a DOUBLE ARM BARRIER which is not authorized in Red Rover. Everyone knows that.

Yes. Yes, you do.
We find out, via raspy Demi Moore voiceover, that these four girls grew up in Shelby, Indiana, which for the movie’s purposes means: suburbs, quiet, BORING.

Look, the adult-friend parts of this movie are THE WORST so here is what you need to know. Sam is a writer who wears a lot of black, Teeny is a movie star who has been married five times, Chrissy is stuck in the past and still lives in Shelby, Roberta lives both in Shelby and in sin with her ex-boyfriend. You can tell it's been a million years since they all hung out as a group, though it seems like Roberta and Chrissy are still friends. Poor Roberta.

Eventually (blessedly), the movie flashes back to 1970, when the girls are all 12-years-old. They do things like ride bikes! And swing on swings! And take sex quizzes in Cosmo while drinking Coke floats, which are served by Janeane Garofalo, who calls them boys and is apparently a witch! Anyway, their big goal for the summer is to save enough money to buy a tree house. Remember being 12? Jesus.

(pee)wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

Later that night, they have a seance in the cemetery because SURE. I mean, actually the whole seance thing is realistic enough (my friends and I used to try to raise spirits all the time, and we also tried the “light as a feather, stiff as a board" thing from The Craft which I just decided I will be watching next) but sneaking out to do it at a cemetery in the middle of the night as a 12-years-old seems a bit much.

They try to raise the spirit of a young boy named “Dear Johnny,” and actually think they’ve done so when they see that his tombstone has been cracked in half. They also run into an old man named “Crazy Pete,” who rides around town on his bike and doesn’t talk to anyone. I don’t really think that’s weird but that could be because I try not to talk to other people unless absolutely necessary.


They decide to figure out what happened to Dear Johnny, so they take a long bike trip to the library in the next town over. Do you see how spoiled we are today? These girls rode at least 10 miles (judging by movie science...at one point they pass a sign that says Greenville: 9 miles YES I WAS PAYING VERY CLOSE ATTENTION) to discover (spoiler alert) basically nothing, which we could do in like 10 seconds of Googling.

The only thing they find out from these old newspapers is that Dear Johnny and his mother died tragically, but the rest of the pages had been torn out so they don’t know why or how. They also find out that Roberta’s mother, who died when Roberta was four, suffered a lot before she died, something that Roberta’s father had lied to her about. SAD.

YOU MOCK MY PAIN.
I forgot how much of the movie happens on this bike trip. On the way to the library, they see the Wormers (smelly boys who torture them earlier in the movie, also DEVON SAWA IS ONE) skinny-dipping, so they steal their clothes. Also, Roberta dives into some shallow water and pretends she’s dead, which really pisses off her friends. Roberta needs grief counseling. Just saying. Then LATER, on the way home, they meet Brendan Frazier who is a hippy from ‘Nam and commiserates with Sam, whose parents are divorcing (though no one knows this) about how adults don’t know shit. Speaking as an adult, I can tell you this is true.

Their next step in solving the Dear Johnny mystery is to go to Janeane Garofalo and get their tarot cards read. Sure. They find out Dear Johnny was murdered.

Later, for no reason, there’s a softball game. Roberta, who rules at all sports (she’s basically Kristy Thomas), gets in a fight with a boy (who, I might add, wasn’t even PLAYING) who says girls can’t play ball. She’s winning the fight but her friends pull her off, at which point this Malfoy ACTUALLY SAYS, “It’s too bad your mother’s dead, someone needs to teach you to act like a girl.” WHAT A DICK. Roberta goes after him again but Samantha throws her out of the way and tackles him instead. FIGHT. This is the best part of the movie, you guys. You remember that “you play ball like a girl” kid from The Sandlot? These girls would have eaten him for breakfast.


Unfortunately, Samantha’s post-fight high doesn’t last long because she goes home to find her mom on a date with Hank Azaria. She...doesn’t handle it well. She goes to Teeny’s and they decide to try out the new treehouse (which...I guess they finally got?) and talk about how their parents don’t know anything because:


Meanwhile, Roberta is getting first kissed by Devon Sawa. It’s pretty adorable and he doesn’t even turn into a ghost afterward. She threatens to kick his ass if he tells anyone.

On their way home from the treehouse, Teeny and Sam get caught in a rainstorm. Sam almost drowns in a sewer drain but DON’T WORRY she’s saved by Crazy Pete. Now they like Crazy Pete! Yay! 

The next day, the girls are painting a garage door for treehouse money, even though JUST TWO SCENES EARLIER we’d established that they’d already gotten the treehouse. SHENANIGANS. Devon Sawa walks by and makes googly eyes at Roberta. I like to think he’s the boyfriend referenced earlier in the movie.

Later that day, they go to Sam’s Grandma Cloris Leachman’s house. They ask her what happened to Dear Johnny and his mother, but she refuses to tell them anything and rushes them out of the house. They wait for her to leave so they can break in and go through all the old newspapers in the attic. Oh man, my grandma totally would have kicked my ass if I’d ever broken into her house but maybe this kind of thing was OK in the 70s.


Really?


K, fine.

They find an old newspaper that says Dear Johnny and his mother were shot to death by a robber PLUS ALSO Roberta freaks out and breaks a mirror because she has a lot of feelings re: her dead mother. Sam then finally tells the other girls that her parents are getting divorced. This glimpse into the real world, all full of evil and suffering, leads the girls to make a pact, that they’ll always be there for each other, no matter what happens.


That night, they go to the cemetery to hold another seance. The groundskeeper catches them and tells them that the graveyard isn’t a playground which...OK, good point. He was the one who knocked over Johnny’s tombstone and broke it. According to the voiceover, this was the day they stopped their make-believe games (booooo!), so they throw away their seance gear and go home.

Sam goes back to put some flowers on Johnny’s grave. She runs into Crazy Pete and realizes that he was Johnny’s dad. It’s treacly and obvious but still...oof. I always forget that coming of age stories focus so much on death and loss until I actually watch one. I guess that’s what forces us to grow up. We realize that terrible things don’t just happen to other people. Death will come to those we love. We’ll lose people throughout our lifetimes and there’s nothing we can do about it and now I’m depressed and need to go lie down.

Spot on.

With that, we are rudely forced back to the present and the mostly terrible women the girls have grown up to become (this might be the most depressing thing about the movie). Chrissy has her baby (Roberta delivers it, which is weird, right?) and they all ooh and ahh because LADIES LOVE BABIES. The movie ends with another pact, this time to see each other more often, and another game of Red Rover, which they play with a bunch of neighborhood kids who just  magically show up (maybe they came out of that field in Iowa, I don’t know).

When I decided to watch this movie for the first time in, oh, let’s say 15 years, I did not have high hopes, but I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Though, the bits of the movie featuring the adults could use some work or, better yet, be cut out completely. It was as if the movie’s creators were less focused on the emotional heft of the movie than on, “ooh, look what famous actresses these girls grew up to be!"

Also, it was fitting that I watched this during the summer, because this movie really made me miss summer vacation.

Also, also, just because it's SLIGHTLY relevant:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

They're heeeeeeeeere...

Perhaps writing about my dog’s stomach issues the other day made my own stomach jealous that it didn’t get to participate in all the gastrotechnics, I don’t know for sure, but what I do know is that my body is rebelling against me and I’m not OK with it.

I’m feeling much better today than I have the past two days, which is good, because I’m not sure I could have taken another day of sitting uncomfortably on the sofa while watching Roseanne reruns and Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas WHICH IS A THING I HAVE NOW SEEN PLEASE BURN MY EYEBALLS.

Yesterday I managed to put in a DVD, which was a major improvement on the day before but that could have just been my choice of DVD which was Casper. As in the friendly ghost. As in the movie that introduced the star of my teenage dreams, Devon Sawa.

Devon Sawa’s picture, torn carefully from the pages of BOP magazine, held valuable real estate on my wall when I was a tween. I didn’t love him as much as I loved JTT but WHO COULD COMPARE I MEAN REALLY.

Pretty sure I had this exact picture on my wall.
By the time Idle Hands and Final Destination rolled around, I was all, “stop trying to make Devon Sawa happen, he’s not going to happen,” but the mid-90s were the Devon Sawa sweet spot (ew). Now & Then and Casper came out in 1995 and I was fairly obsessed with both of them, mostly because of Devon Sawa. Sawa. Saaaawaaaaa. I really wanted to watch Now & Then yesterday but Netflix took it away and for some reason I don't own it on DVD. WHO AM I?

Luckily, Joe and I were at Target a few weekends ago and when saw Casper in the $5 spot I picked it up without even quite knowing what I was doing. Anyway, my point is, here is my Casper recap:

The movie begins with two young boys breaking into Whipstaff Manor, a creepy ass mansion that’s supposedly haunted, because all creepy ass mansions are haunted. Are these our heroes, who will bravely lead us through a tale of ghouls and restless spirits?

No. We won’t ever see them again, which is a shame, because one of them is Squints from The Sandlot.

Anyway, a ghost shows up and offers to take their picture. Very polite ghost! But the boys are still scared so they run away screaming.

Cut to...Carrigan Crittendon. Carrigan is the terrible human being who has inherited Whipstaff and she is NOT pleased to find out that it’s haunted. She and her assistant, Eric Idle (what are you doing, Eric Idle) call in various people to do some ghostbusting, including an actual Ghostbuster, but none of them can get rid of the ghosts.

That night Casper is watching TV (sure) and sees a story about a ghost psychologist, Professor Harvey, and his daughter, Kat, on Inside Edition. He falls in love with Kat through MOVIE MAGIC so he manipulates Carrigan into calling the ghost psychologist and I can’t believe I just typed “ghost psychologist” twice in the same paragraph. Three times. Whatever.

This is fucking creepy, Casper.
Professor Harvey and Kat are soon on their way to Maine. Kat doesn’t want to go because TEENAGE ENNUI. We learned earlier through EXPOSITION that Harvey’s wife died unexpectedly, and that’s why he has such a hard on for ghosts. LITERALLY (probably). But Kat doesn't believe in ghosts, not even the ghost of her dead mom.

They arrive at Whipstaff and soon find out that, this time, the ghosts are really, really real, specifically Casper and his uncles, Stinky, Stretch, and Fatso. Yes, really. Harvey battles the uncles that night and, even though he sucks them up into a vacuum cleaner, they eventually come to a sort of peace later on because Casper is super nice and the uncles are disgusting and dangerous, sure, but also mostly just rascals. Rascals, I say!

The next day, Kat meets the requisite cute boy at school, who is attached to the requisite bitchy girl who hates Kat for pretty much no reason. STANDARD. When Kat’s class finds out she lives at Whipstaff, they decide to have the school Halloween dance there because SURE. This makes the bitchy girl hate Kat even MORE because now everyone likes Kat.

Meanwhile, Harvey is obsessed with getting Stinky, Stretch, and Fatso to “move on” so the house will be clear and he can get paid, but the uncles would rather fart and burp and mess with Harvey and can you blame them? Eventually, though, they realize they like Harvey and, thinking he needs to have some fun, they take him out to get drunk with the intention of killing him so he can be a ghost, too. OK SURE. They change their mind but wait OH NO he dies anyway. Don’t worry, it’ll be OK. I SAID DON’T WORRY THIS IS A MOVIE ABOUT A CARTOON GHOST.

A REALLY CREEPY CARTOON GHOST.
While this is all happening, Kat is helping Casper remember who he is because I guess when you die, you forget everything about your life? Bummer. He remembers that his dad had a secret underground laboratory that can only be reached by chair-roller-coaster, which I was super jealous of when I watched this as a kid.

They find the Lazarus Machine in the lab which, you guessed it, brings the dead back to life but there’s only enough life-juice (not semen) left for one person. There’s a lot of convoluted stuff about Carrigan trying to kill Eric Idle so he can become a ghost and fly through a vault door in order to get some treasure, but she dies instead and steals the life-juice. Casper and Kat trick her into crossing over, leaving the life-juice for Casper, yay! But no, then Kat’s dead dad shows up and Casper gives HIM the potion because Casper is such a good guy. Kat's really grateful, so maybe this is part of Casper's master plan?



While all of THIS was happening, Kat’s classmates arrived for the dance. Kat goes to join the party and Casper goes to his room to pout, where he is visited by the ghost of Kat’s dead mom, Judge Amy. Judge Amy gives him a “Cinderella deal” and turns him into Devon Sawa, but only until 10 o’clock. He uses this time to ask Kat to dance and then make out (OK just kiss) with her on the dance floor, before turning back into a ghost and scaring the party away. UGH I’M EXHAUSTED.

I know this is a kid’s movie but the plot really started zooming out of control right around the time Casper remembers who he is. Kat’s dad dies super suddenly and I don’t remember being as horrified by this as a child as I was yesterday because poor kid SEES HER DAD AS A GHOST AND HE DOESN’T REMEMBER HER. That's some Arya Stark level trauma right there. Also, why does Judge Amy only give Casper, like, 10 minutes as a real boy? What a bitch. Also also, are Kat and Casper going to have a relationship now? I have a lot of questions about where this whole thing is going. Do you think there’s Casper fanfic? OMG THERE IS CASPER FANFIC. STOP. YOU STOP IT RIGHT NOW, INTERNET, YOU ARE TOO BEAUTIFUL.

Ahem.

This movie was the most romantic shit I'd ever seen when I was but a sweet, innocent tweenager. Come on! A poor dead boy falls in love with a lovely live girl and because he is pure of heart, he gets to become alive again for one special night while the cheesiest song ever plays in the background. I’m pretty sure if I’d recapped this when I was 13, it would read: Haunted house, ghosts, Bill Paxton Pullman, a lot of boring shit happens, DEVON SAWA KISSING.

Seriously, you guys. I can’t even with this:

Monday, July 15, 2013

[this is gross]

A couple of weekends ago, Maxenwald Baxenwald (credit: Heather Anne Hogan) scared the shit out of us.

(WARNING: This will not be the last time I reference shit. This might be too gross for those of you with weak stomachs but I'm not sure there are any of you around here anyway so never mind.)

I woke up around 7:30 that sunny, Saturday morning, got up to go to the bathroom (thinking I'd go right back to bed) and was greeted by a frantic Max whining to go outside. On my way to let him out, I glanced down the stairs to the basement and noticed that he'd pooped on the floor. OH JOY, I thought, WHAT A PLEASANT SATURDAY MORNING ACTIVITY IT WILL BE TO CLEAN UP DOG FECES.

Such is the life of a dog owner, however, so I let Max out and went downstairs to inspect the damage. That's when I saw everything else. Not only had he pooped just...all over, but he'd peed and thrown up twice. I was worried, obviously, but the real gut-punch was when I noticed the blood.

I gasped (like, LITERALLY GASPED) and rushed upstairs to wake Joe. My first impulse was to run into the room and scream, "WAKE UP SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MAX OH MY GOD WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP," but I didn't want Joe to have a heart attack on top of whatever was happening with Max, so I took a deep breath, gently shook Joe's shoulder, and calmly said, "hey, something's wrong with Max, he has blood in his poop," which is still probably not the best way to wake up but seemed better at the time than my first plan. Joe jumped up and went outside to make sure Max was OK while I called the vet to make an emergency appointment. I had to give Joe the phone, though, because I couldn't stop crying long enough to make the call.

Situations like this really highlight that the whole marriage thing (or couplehood thing or partner thing or WHATEVER THING) is a partnership, a delicate balance of strengths and weaknesses. I was hysterical, worried that something was terribly wrong with Max, while Joe remained calm and tried to calm me down. Considering I don't show emotion if I can help it (unless the emotion is, I don't know, sarcasm?), my breakdown took both of us by surprise.

Joe offered to clean up the mess in the basement, which was very chivalrous, but after I heard him dry heave a few times, I sent him upstairs so we wouldn't have to clean up human puke on top of everything else.

(I suppose this means that if our kids ever do something disgusting with bodily fluids, which I think is a given, I'll be in charge of clean up. Looks like kids are off the table!)

You guys, it was really, really disgusting. I'm pretty OK about stuff like this, blood and puke and snot (oh my!), both from my years of baby-sitting and from having cleaned up Phoebe's barf for years. Hell, once a kid threw up into a bucket while sitting on my lap and I was fine. But the smell...it rivaled the time the basement in my college apartment flooded with sewage and the stench seeped its way into every bit of space available, so there were a few moments where I had to stop and try to think about happier smells. Lilacs and freshly baked pies. Laundry! Sweet, sweet laundry!

Joe and I talked about it later, as we sat in the vet's office, like we were sharing war stories. I explained to Joe how I'd packaged the samples for the vet (they always want poop, what's up with that?) and how I was surprised I'd managed to be so methodical about it (poo in bag in container in another bag PLUS PAPER TOWELS EVERYWHERE), since I'd been sobbing quietly to myself the entire time.

"Well," he said. "You were upset, sure, but you're still a Baxla."

Baxlas are a very logical species, you see. We are methodical in everything we do, whether it's making sandwiches or paying bills or apparently collecting poop for the vet. This logic overpowers even extreme pet-worry-related hysteria and, I can only assume, other emergencies as yet unforeseen, which I think makes us a bunch of Spocks?

Spock loves animals, too.
Max is fine now, of course. He did not enjoy his vet visit (I mean, would you enjoy it if some stranger stuck his finger up your butt*?) but I think he enjoyed recuperating since we fawned all over him even more than usual.

Loving animals makes us fucking stupid. We adopt these pets, bring them into our homes, spend almost as much time with them as we do our significant others, and we do this with the knowledge that this unconditional love is only temporary. If we're lucky, we get our pets for 15 years. If we're very lucky, our pets are healthy for most of those 15 years. And if we're very, very lucky, those 15 years don't fly by at the speed of the Millennium Falcon, which, as you know, made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. So, you know. Make of that what you will. 

*please don't tell me if you would

Friday, June 28, 2013

I don't even know, you guys.

I have this really important project going on right now, which is partly why I haven't written in a while (lies) and that project is: rewatching all the TV shows I loved in high school. So far this project includes: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (DONE), Alias (in progress), Six Feet Under (in progress), and my first love, the TV show that sparked my obsession for so many other shows, The X-Files.

 photo xfiles-ok_zps8b21587b.gif
Solid project.

I'm almost through the end of Season 7 and I'm a bit worried that I'll stall out in Season 8, otherwise known as "the season David Duchovny gave up on aliens." My recollections of Seasons 8 and 9 are fuzzy at best, since I think by that point I was only tuning in to fast-forward to any parts where Scully got angsty about Mulder being gone, or any episodes that I knew Mulder would be in which, if I'm remembering correctly, were not very many?

I had even forgotten a lot of stuff about Season 7, which, for someone who used to keep an X-Files scrapbook of every X-Files-related article or picture she found in a magazine/TV Guide/printed-from-the-early-days-of-the-internets, is a big deal. I still have most episode titles memorized. I can still spout all manner of trivia about the series, the factoids plucked from deep recesses of my brain even after I thought I'd forgotten everything. And I still remember almost everything about Seasons 1 - 5, probably because those were the episodes I watched over and over, having taped them all and carefully labeled each VHS before storing them (in order) in a huge plastic bin under my bed. I can't believe how easy watching TV is now. AllI have to do is click a button! Back then you really had to work for it. There was no pausing the show if you had to pee really bad or if you wanted a snack, you had to wait for a commercial. If you taped something and it got messed up, you had to scour the TV Guide to see when it was going to be on again and sometimes you had to wait MONTHS. THINGS ARE SO MAGICAL NOW, YOU GUYS, LET'S CELEBRATE BY WATCHING TV ALL WEEKEND!

My favorite part about rewatching The X-Files is how different my perspective is as an adult ("adult"). Back when I first watched the show, I was obsessed with proving that Mulder and Scully were in love and wanted to have a million babies with each other. OBSESSED. There was this whole other internet world at the time, a world housed in AOL chatrooms and message boards, a world of Shippers and NoRoMos (no romance), where it was very, very important to choose a side and defend that side until you, I don't know, DIED. No, wait, actually that internet doesn't sound much different than today's internet.

Upon rewatch, though, it just doesn't seem as important. Not because I don't care or anything, PERISH THE THOUGHT. But maybe because I already know they end up together (um, spoiler alert?) or maybe because, DUH, it's so obvious that they're in love.

 photo tumblr_lzesv5LPoJ1qcresxo4_250_zpsc211eece.gif
Nature cuddling.

Anyway, that's not what I came here to talk about. No, this is much more important. I was watching a late Season 7 episode last night, Hollywood A.D., which some of you (one of you?) may remember was written and directed by David Duchovny. He also wrote and directed The Unnatural, which starred Jesse L. Martin (DREAMY) as an alien who just wanted to play baseball. This was also the episode where David Duchovny firmly placed himself in the Shipper Camp.

 photo baseball_zps67bc9fa9.gif
Just normal coworker stuff.

I found myself wondering about the timing of Hollywood A.D., as there is a 16 month timejump at one point, and how it fit into the timeline of all things, the episode that aired two weeks before Hollywood A.D., an episode written and directed by Gillian Anderson in which it's heavily implied that Mulder and Scully finally do sex. (Oh, hey, also? If you want to start a war between Shippers and NoRoMos on AOL X-Files message boards, just heavily imply something like that.)

Anyway again, that's not what I came here to talk about. As I was watching Hollywood A.D., there is a bit where Scully is with the para-scientist (or something), and they're trying to hear music/sounds from a really old bowl (doesn't matter, just go with it). At one point, Scully tells him something that BLOWS HIS MIND and he says, "bazinga." He totally does. I KNOW.

Now, I don't watch The Big Bang Theory, though I don't harbor the animosity toward it that others (JOE) do, but it's a popular enough show that I'm familiar with the catchphrase "bazinga." I did some Googling (obviously) and I'm not the first to have noticed this, but as far as I can tell, no one from TBBT has addressed the connection. I didn't dig too deep, really, because...well...I don't care that much, but I do like the idea of Sheldon getting it from The X-Files because he's an X-Phile (BAM). Kind of like Xander from Buffy exclaiming, "Shpadoinkle!" (it happened at the end of Season 5, I just can't find video) because apparently he's a big Matt Stone and Trey Parker fan.

So anyway, clearly I watch too much TV. Next time we can talk about Six Feet Under and Can't Hardly Wait, which are more connected than one might think. GET EXCITED.

 photo chw_zps1a95f898.gif

Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Society teaches us that having feelings and crying is bad and wrong. Well, that's baloney, because grief isn't wrong. There's such a thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown."

I don't know if you guys have heard, but The Office is ending tonight. I haven’t seen anything on the internet about it, so I wanted to make sure you all knew.

I have mixed feelings about the show ending. I'm having feelings all over the place, really, as I sit here eating lunch at my sad desk in my drab office (womp womp). Part of me is happy that the show is being put out of its misery, though this past season has been pretty damn fun, Pam and Jim drama aside because THAT SHIT WAS STRESSFUL. But most of me is like, "NO MY FRIENDS WHERE ARE YOU GOING I'M GOING TO MISS YOU SO MUCH NOOOOOOOOO."

It is a truth universally acknowledged (on this blog) that I get far too attached to fictional characters. So when my favorite TV shows end, I tend to feel things a little too much. Sometimes I think I feel more deeply for fictional happenings than I do for most things that happen in my actual life but that is a (far longer) post for a different day. Long story short (heh), I'm Abed, basically, only not as skinny or Y-chromosomey.

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Anyway. Long-time readers may remember my fascination obsession with The Office. It began as so many love affairs do. There was a chance meeting on a random Thursday night and our instant connection turned into a deep affection that lasted years. I was in love from Season 1. I bought it on DVD and made Heidi watch it so I'd have someone else to talk about it with, not having yet found anyone IRL who loved the show as much as I did.

The most important part of the show at that time, for my perpetually-single (or-embroiled-in-unrequited-love) self was the relationship between Pam and Jim. I, like so many others, was deeply invested in whether Pam and Jim would ever end up together. So when they did, it gave me hope, it really did, that things would eventually work out for me, too. (I told you I put far too much investment in fictional relationships.)

I mentioned on Tumblr that last week's episode of The Office, especially that moment when Jim gave Pam the letter he'd written her so many years ago, gave me a lot of feelings. Sometimes it feels like I grew up with Jim and Pam. Not the growing up you do when you, like, go through puberty or whatever, but the growing up you’re forced into when you leave home, get your first job, and have to learn how to do things like pay bills on time and navigate the complicated relationships that come with adulthood . When the show started, I had just moved out of my parents' house, I was working at my first "real" job, but I was still a kid. I don't always feel like an adult now but, like Pam and Jim, I've grown up a lot (sometimes more than I'd like).

When Pam and Jim got married, Joe and I had been together for a little over a year. We watched that episode separately, as we weren't yet living together, but talked on the phone immediately after. We were both emotional, having, I suppose, both identified with Jim and/or Pam at more than one point in our lives. We weren't engaged yet (though we would be two months later) but I knew at some point Joe and I would get married. I’d known for a while. Jim and Pam were just paving the way for us.

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We haven't yet followed Pam and Jim to Kid-Land (that place is terrifying) but who knows what the future holds? Pam and Jim made marriage less scary (until this season, geez) so maybe they can do the same for having kids. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Though I lost interest the last couple of seasons, I never really stopped caring about The Office. I kept up with it, even after at least two episodes that should have ended the series (Pam and Jim getting married and Michael Scott leaving). Though the quality went downhill, and I wished more than once for the show's demise, I'm sad to see it go. I'm going to miss my standing Thursday night date with my friends at Dunder-Mifflin and I'm glad I stuck around for Jim and Pam’s journey, even through random Baby #2 (what is that kid’s name?) and Brian the Book Mike Guy. I guess what I’m saying is, I'd follow Jim and Pam anywhere, even if it's to say good-bye. And it's going to be really, really hard.

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Monday, May 06, 2013

Also, Joe doesn't believe me, but "khaleesi" is really fun to say. Khaleesi khaleesi khaleesi.

Every morning, I get to work and make myself a To Do list for the day. Or I make it the night before. Or I have stuff leftover from the previous day and THAT'S my To Do list. IT DOESN'T MATTER, my point is, I always have a To Do list of stuff. Just always.

After spending the morning doing everything BUT things actually on my list, I looked at my sad little uncrossed-off list and started adding things I'd already done just so I could cross stuff off. I wish I could tell you that this doesn't happen often but I'm trying not to be such a liar because Joe doesn't like it when I tell him stuff like, I don't know, that I speak Urdu, which is the lie I told him BEFORE WE EVEN MET because Natalie Portman taught me that lying is adorable.

I guess my point is that I don't have one, I just haven't written anything in YEARS and so this is me. Writing stuff. And throwing it all over the internet. Hi, Internet!

So here's something you may not know about, I don't know, LIFE. It turns out that if you spend all of Sunday watching Game of Thrones, the weekend goes really, really quickly. Also, here is some advice. If you're at the store because you tried to rent movies but you've A) seen all the good ones or B) don't feel like delving into the insanity that is Tree of Life on a Saturday night, and you decide instead that what you'd really rather watch is Game of Thrones so you stop getting spoiled about everything and finally figure out what the deal is with this Joffrey puke, but the library never has Game of Thrones in because everyone else wants to watch it, too, and the video store (Sidebar: Why do you call it the video store when they no longer have videos? Discuss.) never has it either or they have every disc BUT THE FIRST ONE so, yeah, obviously your only option is to buy it but when you get to the store, they only have the blu-ray version which is way more expensive (probably?), so you decide to be responsible and only get the first season instead of seasons one AND two, and I'm just here to tell you, go ahead and buy the second season while you're there, screw responsible, because what's going to happen is you'll spend Saturday night and Sunday morning watching the first season and then you'll realize you're going to run out of show before you run out of Sunday, so your husband is going to have to go out and buy the second season while you sit and fret about whether the store will still have it and so, to make yourself feel better, you sing the song you made up about Game of Thrones that goes (to the tune of the Lord of the Rings music): Game. Of. Thrones. It's the game, it's the game, it's the game, it's the game. It's the Game. Of. Thrones.

Which is a TERRIBLE song, way worse than the Doctor Who song you made up that just goes: Doctor Whoooooooooooooooo, Doctor Whoooooooooooooo, Doctor Who, Doctor Who... and so on.

So I guess my point is, now we're watching Game of Thrones, which is really cutting into my rewatching The X-Files project, but I will make that sacrifice because KHALEESI'S GOT DRAGONS Y'ALL!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

why I volunteer

Yesterday, I took a different way home from work and drove past Oak Tree Corner. Oak Tree Corner is housed in a yellow Cape Cod, situated on a busy corner in Oakwood, the yard full of happy little trees and bright flowers. There’s a sign on the side that reads, “a place for grieving children.” This is my sixth year of volunteering there.

Oak Tree Corner was founded in 1996 as a place for grieving children and families to find some sort of comfort. Volunteers, or group facilitators, gather twice a month and lead groups of children in activities designed to facilitate discussion about their grief. I work with the youngest group, the Littles, usually aged 4-6, though there are also two other groups, the Middles and Teens. The parents meet in a separate group, led by another volunteer. All volunteers go through an extensive and, at times, emotionally exhausting training before leading these groups.

Whenever new volunteers start at Oak Tree Corner, they just observe on their first night. It can be overwhelming. Sure, there’s the training, but there’s always some anxiety, especially just starting out, when faced with a group of grieving children. “Will I say the wrong thing?” (Probably not, especially if you let the kids do most of the talking, which is what you’re supposed to do anyway.) “What if someone cries?” (Surprisingly, this hardly ever happens.) “I can’t do this.” (Yes. You can.)

After group, the volunteers gather to share their experiences from the night. On nights when we have new volunteers, the old volunteers take turns sharing why they decided to volunteer with Oak Tree Corner. I always say some variation of the same thing. I heard about Oak Tree Corner from a co-worker. I’d been looking for a place to volunteer where I wouldn’t be relegated to answering phones or stuffing envelopes, ideally working kids, and this seemed perfect. I was a bit nervous that I would be dealing with children in the midst of the grieving process, but it’s been life changing. It really has.

As I drove by Oak Tree Corner yesterday, I really thought about my answer to that question. How rote it’s become and how it’s the real answer, sure, but, since I’m emotionally closed-off with near strangers, it’s not the real real answer. It’s not the cheesy, gooey-center-of-my-heart answer.

I like my job but, most days, I don’t usually feel like I’m really making the world a better place. On the best days, I get to offer someone a job. That’s a good feeling. But, for the most part, I’m not changing lives.

Yesterday, some asshole blew up the Boston Marathon. I, like most people, followed along in horror, on Twitter, on Facebook, on the everlasting suck-cycle that is our news media, my stomach sinking as each new piece of information came in. Yet, in the aftermath of this terror, Patton Oswalt posted the following on Facebook:

Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."


And I thought...THAT is why I volunteer. I want to be a part of Oswalt’s vast majority. I want to make the world a better place, in my own tiny way, even if it’s only by volunteering two days a month. It’s often difficult to measure our successes at Oak Tree Corner. It’ll most likely be years or, you know, NEVER before we know if anything we say or do benefits the children we work with. But I have to believe it does. I have to believe in trying to make the world a little brighter, in doing my part to tip the scales to Good. I have to believe that Oak Tree Corner, this small shining light, is really just one of many, a million stars brightening the night sky.