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).
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 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.


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.