NaNoWriMo

You’ve probably heard of it, but in case not, November is National Novel Writing Month. The basic idea is to write a novel, or 50,000 words, in 30 days. It averages out to 1667 words a day which is very doable. In fact, it seems almost too easy. And that’s how it gets you.

I have very mixed feelings about the concept, for myself specifically, and a bit on the whole. Sometimes I think it turns writing into almost joke. Is the craft for everyone? Well, yes, of course. Should it be accessible and practiced by all? Definitely! But writing quality, heartfelt work takes much more than 30 days and an ironwill. The site says as much, admitting the month of November is actually a word vomit, which I appreciate, but I do wonder how many people utilize the month to spew and then just wrap that up and call it a novel and throw it on Amazon. When junk is touted as a NaNoWriMo Novel™, I think it gives the whole practice a bad name.

On the other hand, fuck what anyone else thinks–this is an awesome opportunity to join a community and get some shit done!

I’m also probably a super salty lady when it comes to NaNo because I’ve been doing it on and off for 8 grueling years and have not won once. SAD. But I intend to do better this year, and by better I also mean different. Instead of a novel, I’ll be continuing Vacancy.

VacancyBookCoverCrop
Hell yeah I cropped this image to look like a book cover. Go me.

The serial has a special place in my heart because it’s an idea that had been rolling around in my head for a very long time in a couple different iterations. As I said in my reintroductory post, I just took on too much with it. The anxiety of getting something completed, of not really editing, of jumping in with little direction, it was all too much. But if I can shit out 50,000 words, I’ll set myself up with roughly 20 posts which I can edit prior to posting, of course, and posting weekly starting in January will bring me almost halfway through the year, so I’ll really have some content by the end of this thing provided I can stick to it.

But can I stick to it??? Yeah, that’s what this is for. Alongside getting a good friend to flounder with me in the writing process and utilizing Husband’s creative capacity to its max (it was his idea to use Vacancy as the piece I should work on which was genius), this is my callout post. This is to keep me to my word. Whether you’ve read any of Vacancy or not, or if you ever plan to, you can be my buddy on NaNo and we can write together! Golly gee, won’t that be fun?

If anything, I’ve proven to myself I can write enough wordage to get the numbers through these blogs the last few weeks, so I know it can be done, but will it be done? Only time will tell. Here’s to avoiding failure! 50k here I come.

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The Listener

This is an older piece, but has never been posted here before, so I figured, what the hell?

 

I am The Listener. You talk, I listen. What’s up? Nothing, nothing at all.

It’s at the core of my existence, something I’ve done for as long as I can remember, Listening. I can’t imagine being any other way, and frankly I can’t understand how you–how any of you–function as Talkers. I have no control over it; I don’t choose to Listen, and I don’t ask you to Talk, you just do. I take it all in, keeping it, remembering it, feeling the weight of every word. It’s more than hearing, what I do, more than acknowledging the sounds coming from your mouth–I am Listening to stories erupting from your soul, and they consume me without my consent. Is this what you want, Talkers? I’m never really sure, but then, you probably don’t even know it’s happening, the Listening. As the words slip off your tongue, their speed increasing with your newfound lightness and energy, I gather them up, pack them in tightly, tuck them away. Because they must go somewhere.

You love me for Listening. You tell me in the way you keep going like something in you is about to burst, the way your eyes light up with recognition that no one else has ever let you do this before, just talk. Just fucking Talk, man. But what speaks the loudest is when you return time and time again to give me your words, your experiences, your life. And maybe you realize that I too am giving you something: my time, my sympathy, or even the absence of something: advice, judgement. But you barely grasp it, what I’m actually giving away. You just think of me as cool, as kind, as a friend.

But why?

You barely know the husk into which you pour everything: your speeding ticket, your childhood abuse, your failing relationship. I suppose that husk is cool, barely expressing an opinion for you to disagree with, and she seems kind just letting you fucking Talk, man, and when your words are hammering at your throat to be set free into the only willing ears you know, she is your friend. But she’s not a real person. She’s not even a fake person–fake people are still people after all, with experiences to share, thoughts to express. But The Listener, she’s nothing. She is a void, and that’s all you’ll ever see.

But I see my reflection, and I wonder if ever she could be a Talker. She’d be good at it, Talking. She would tell you in excruciating detail her morning routine in twice as long as she takes to do it, and you would love every second. She’d be a freight train, derailing and barreling through your affirmative remarks, bowling you over with a flurry of words, a witty pun, a deep insight, and you would get lost in the way her lips curl, the frenzy that is her hands, the smooth alto of her voice. And she’d tell you all the things she’s never said to anyone before: the time in sixth grade she got her period on the one day she dared to wear a skirt, the engagement she broke off two weeks after saying yes under duress on a beach surrounded by his family, the wasting her body went through in college that she finally realized only after she gained sixty plus pounds back was an eating disorder that just mutated to fit her life and is never going away, the experience of being told at fourteen she’s “sexy” for the first time by a man thirty years her senior while he shoved his his hand down her pants and then made her feel like the villain for years afterwards, the way her thoughts are slowly eaten up by a Stygian blackness like a well of ink tipped over, spreading, staining, ruining, and how that scares her so intensely to her core that she’s worried she’ll never have a clean, new thought again.

But that–that’s only a reflection. I can’t fathom being a Talker. I am The Listener. You speak, I listen. And when you ask me what’s up, I will tell you:

nothing

It Didn’t Say Juicy On The Butt

Since it’s the spookiest season of all, I thought I might share a little true tale of horror with you because, Dear Reader, I feel I haven’t revealed how truly fucked up I am yet.

I would preface this by saying that yes, I believe in certain supernatural things, but I also believe that I cannot possible understand these things so the names I give to them and my perceptions of them are basically irrelevant. What I do know is some fucked up shit has happened to me that I haven’t been able to explain. Doesn’t mean someone else couldn’t explain it had they been there, and I’m totally open to other explanations, but from where I sit, the paranormal is real if not terribly prolific or photogenic.

But, Dear Reader, I digress. This is probably the least fucked up thing, so it’s an easy one to start you with. This happening occurred on neither a dark nor stormy night. In fact, it was midday with very pleasant weather. It was as unspooky as it could be and in a lot of ways that made this whole thing spookier in the end. At the time, I lived in a very suburban neighborhood with an HOA and everything. Again, the spooky factor was super low. Like half a skeleton out of ten.

I was, what some folks like to call, “between jobs” at the time. I like to refer to it as my sabbatical where I transitioned out of the hell hole that is healthcare (but my time in healthcare is too spooky to talk about now, like eleven skeletons out of ten plus one Frankenstein’s monster). I used to take walks around the neighborhood by myself during the day and came to expect certain things–overgrown yards, broken up sidewalks, poor parking jobs (the HOA apparently focused all of its ire on me, so it didn’t have time for anyone else), and it was always quite quiet, so any movement got my attention.

I saw a car pull into a driveway. The most innocuous thing. I was walking toward the house it had parked in front of from the opposite side of the street but was still a few houses down from said driveway. I watched a woman get out of the driver’s side of the car. She wore a pink tracksuit and was blonde, reminiscent of Paris Hilton circa 2002, except she was very tall and broad shouldered.

The way most of the houses were built in the neighborhood had the front door recessed down a pathway, sheltered on either side by the garage and some other room. So, if I am walking toward the house from down the street, as I was, a person could disappear around the corner of the garage and into the walkway toward the entrance. This is what happened.

So no biggie, right? I’m still walking in the direction of the house, nothing strange, but I do hear some voices, high, excited voices, so it’s pretty obvious the woman walked down the way and knocked on the door and someone answered. At this point, I am parallel with the house, so if I glance to my left, I can see down that walkway to the people there and the front door. So I do. There’s a man and a woman in the doorway, facing out, welcoming the woman to their home.

But it’s not the same woman. (Spookiness intensifies!)

Ok, so we got like 3/10 skeletons here. I’m staring at the back of this woman’s head which is now brunette, she’s wearing something dark like jeans and a black shirt, and she’s much smaller–narrow shoulders and short. This is weird, I think, and I’m just confused, but I’m not thoroughly spooked yet. That happened when she turned around.

As the couple went inside, the Amazing Changing Lady glanced back at me, and I went cold. Admittedly, I have a problem with looking people in the eye, and that is exactly what she did, somehow from all the way across the road, two sidewalks, a lawn, and a walkway. It was kind of horrifying, but as I was still walking, a scurried away and out of her sight almost immediately.

I booked it home at a solid 5.87 skellies and thought hard about what could have happened. Was there a second person in the car? Was that just someone from inside the home? Were there shadows in the walkway playing tricks on me? None of these seemed plausible at the time, and they still don’t since it all happened so quickly. And what happened, if you put a name to it, would be some kind of shape-shifting, which is not a kind of supernatural thing that I actually believe in. Ghosts? Of course. Demons? Why not? Aliens? Not even supernatural, just plain real! But shapeshifters? Go back to Stephanie Meyer, please. You’re not even the cool kind that turns into an animal, you went from one generic lady to another! Boring.

So after writing it out, it doesn’t sound all that spooky, like a couple hand bones and a tibia at best. Maybe a tooth too. But in that moment it was very scary. I was sure she was going to come for me later, but so far no dice. Though, I guess if she’s a shapeshifter, she could be anyone, anywhere. Just waiting. But only if you believe in that sort of thing.

Nothing In Between

I unabashedly label myself a feminist. I’ve experienced some terrible treatment due to my gender, including when I was pretty young, but I know I’ve grown up in what is historically one of the best countries/times for women, so I’ve been wondering how I became so passionate. Injustice has always bothered me, and there’s never really one thing that contributes wholly to a personality trait or belief, but I’ve come to the conclusion that a big part my feminism’s origin story is rooted in one kinda strange thing: 90s music.

The first CD I ever owned was Meredith Brooks’ Blurring the Edges. (Well, that and the first Pure Moods album. I was a weird kid.) I was 10 when “Bitch” was at the top of the Billboard charts, and I knew every word. I listened to the entire album on repeat which came to be my biggest pastime, and I absorbed the words. I say absorbed like some pretentious douchebag because it was more than just memorizing what she was saying, even though a lot of it I couldn’t really understand (what 10 year old really gets the complexity of the Pollyanna principle?), but these concepts of wanting more, wanting to be heard, struggling against this force that didn’t have a name but constantly held you down, that was all there, and it helped me to later understand feelings that cropped up when some old guy catcalled me at thirteen or when someone I was supposed to respect insisted that women were literally less human than men in (their) god’s eyes.

Those sentiments were pretty prolific in a lot of the music at the time. Squashed between the 80s and 00s, two arguably similar decades that seemed to follow this borderline vacuous, we’re-gonna-live-forever, corporate-controlled mindset, the 90s define the word alternative. But where the 70s acted like a transition from the break in conservatism that was the 60s into the much more progressive 80s, the 90s didn’t ultimately do the same thing. There’s so much growth in pop culture during this time, but then the 00s took a huge step, not necessarily back, but in a totally different direction.

So I did some digging through my old CDs and with the help of Sirius XM’s 90s on 9, I’ve come up with I guess what you can call a playlist which I present to you with a tiny bit of commentary. Forgive some of these being from the 00s – my musical education has always been anachronistic.

spice-girls-say-youll-be-there
If I split myself into five people, these would be them.

 

(The titles below are all links but apparently my CSS or whatever isn’t setup to show you that because that makes total sense? Why would I want my reader to know some random words are actually a link? Aren’t WordPress themes just THE BEST?)

  • Meredith Brooks – “Bitch
  • Shawn Colvin – “Sunny Came Home
    • Shawn refers to this as a “murder ballad” which is just beautiful.
  • Spice Girls – “Say You’ll Be There
    • I could easily write a thesis on these ladies. Despite what people would consider problematic about them today, they taught me about girl power and for that I’m eternally grateful.
  • Natalie Imbruglia – “Torn
    • “Torn” is actually a cover, but there really isn’t any pop music that doesn’t owe something to the Scandinavians
  • Sheryl Crow – “If It Makes You Happy
    • Something about being caged and on exhibit.
  • Paula Cole – “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone
    • Another of my very first CDs was This Fire which I was totally shocked to see a naked Paula on the cover. I’d seen a lot of naked women by the time I was 10 because, well, they’re everywhere, but something about this cover didn’t scream sexualization to me. I can’t confirm this, but I always felt she chose that image.
  • Imani Coppola – “Legend of a Cowgirl
    • If you only watch one of these videos, please make it this one. The gender subversion is amazing.
  • No Doubt – “Just A Girl
    • “Don’t you think I know / Exactly where I stand” has always stood out (ha) to me in a world where everyone will tell you just how invalid your own experiences are.
  • Fiona Apple – “Criminal
    • I was asked by someone who knew me when I was young how I got to be so morbid and obsessed with creepy things now, and I think the answer is the demon eyes in this video.
  • Jewel – “Who Will Save Your Soul
    • Jewel wrote this at 16 when she was hitchhiking across America. WTF.
  • Alanis Morisette – “You Oughta Know
    • Duh.

 

Also I Hate The Word “Fleek”

Some people have really strong feelings about things that they really shouldn’t. Like, some people HATE pumpkin spice as if pumpkin spice personally hurt them. Like pumpkin spice broke up with them via text message. Like pumpkin spice punched their mom in the face. Like pumpkin spice used the key they gave it “for emergencies only” while they were on vacation and had a gang bang with strawberry acai and white chocolate mocha in their marital bed. But the truth is, pumpkin spice never did anything to anybody, and while the kind of hate pumpkin spice (or any “basic bitch” bullshit) gets is way too complicated for this blog post, it’s a great example of something that doesn’t deserve the treatment it gets, and I need you to know this post is self aware. I’m about to say something, and you’re going to think I’m a huge hypocrite, but bear with me, I’ll explain.

I. Hate. Eyebrows.

I hate those thick fucking, fake-ass, perfectly square, stamped-on-looking, woolly bear bitches the most–if you’ve been on the internet, you know the ones: Instagram brows. Now, like I said, this post is self aware. I should NOT hate eyebrows, and even more so I shouldn’t hate painstakingly cultivated ones. Eyebrows didn’t kill my father. They didn’t kick my cat. Eyebrows didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Eyebrows are honestly one of the least possibly offensive things. And yet…

Eyebrows, or rather, what they have become, offend me to my very core, and it’s mostly for this simple fact: the same people who made fun of a naturally thick-browed, ten year old me are the ones instagramming and praising these mile-high, drawn-on abominations.

Eyebrowminations.

Here’s the thing: I don’t give a shit what people do with their own bodies. Yes, I would encourage you to be healthy, but if you choose to fill yourself with crap then so be it. If you choose to tattoo a portrait of Dolly Parton on your left temple then by god, you do you–you could honestly have chosen much worse. Pierce your butthole closed for all I care. What I hate about the current brow trend is not really that it exists, but that it’s so insincere.

And not in the way that most fashion is insincere. Sure, people follow trends because they’re cool, but I’d reckon there are more than a handful of people who actually like how certain trends look, or at least grow to like them. My mom fondly looks back at her Farrah Fawcett feathered hair and would most definitely still have it if she hadn’t succumbed to peer pressure a mere four years ago. But the thing with this eyebrow debacle (debrowcle) is that no one really likes thick brows, they just like painting really wide, tapered, arching lines on their foreheads.

Yes, I am salty. Salty AF, some might say, because this girl has gone through hell and back to minimize her own brows at the behest of society. I have shaved, waxed, plucked, and threaded these little furry assholes into shape for years because I am weak and care way too much what people think of me. And you’re telling me I just could have waited it out til 2015? No, I couldn’t have, because what I got going on, which are actual, real life, thick brows, are not at all what’s being touted all over Youtube as a “natural brow look.”

I blew up at one of my best friends back when I was 20 or so. She had these gorgeous, delicate, wonderfully shaped brows that were so effortless. At least, that’s how I saw them; I am sure she, like most people, has a very different view of her own body. Regardless, if I could have replaced my own brows with replicas of hers, I would have done so in an instant and never touched them again. She texted me one day, very excited, to say she’d had her brows waxed. I should have been excited for her, supportive, asked questions about the process, anything but what I did which was basically berate her. If her brows weren’t good enough, then mine would never be. Besides a whole boatload of other shit I was going through at the time that no doubt contributed to my fuckery, I was too filled with self loathing to support my friend, and told her that her decision was dumb. Eyebrows made me selfish, and that’s one of the worst things you can be.

And this was before the big box brow trend even started!

So yes, I’m salty about the whole thing and I’ve grown to just loathe eyebrows. I hate the effort that has to be put into them, I hate that that effort is so incredibly painful, and I hate how shitty they make me feel about myself.

But I shouldn’t hate eyebrows. They serve a purpose. I was going to make this a Thing I Don’t Fucking Understand, but I actually do understand them. I get the totally fucked up desire to want to be pretty and doing the dumbest possible things to get that way, but I’m never going to stop hating eyebrows. Maybe someday I’ll shave them off completely. That might even be a trend on the horizon. And I’ll probably be salty about that.

But for now all I can saw is this, all of this nonsense, is browdiculous!

Questions Only A Cat Can Answer

Why are you so obsessed with the toilet?

Even after the great plunge of two ought seventeen, you still insist on challenging a one-handed me to keep you at bay.

How can you differentiate the toilet from, say, the couch? Both are sat upon, both are read upon. How do you know this seat is special?

Why do you want to lick the edge of the toilet bowl? Just…why?

Do you think that you pitiful whining when the seat cover goes down will actually change my mind? Oh, of course, kitten, let me just leave this up for you. That’s a great idea.

Why don’t you have enough self preservation to NOT jump onto a surface that is sometimes actually a hole?

How is the sound of a urine stream so mesmerizing?

Where do you think the hole goes? Are you convinced we’re keeping something from you? A magical fun-time world that is, for some reason, at the end of tiny tube filled with water that makes horrifying noises?

Is this obsession going to end? Should I enroll you in some sort of 12 step program?

Kitten, are you okay?

I Moved In

My Husband and I met on the internet as many an internet-people do. We went on two dates before I began spending long weekends at his tiny apartment. We were meant to be, you might say. However, the state of that tiny apartment when we met wasn’t saying that. Let me describe it to you.

He slept on what we affectionately came to call the “crack mattress.” I wasn’t particularly well-off for at least half of my childhood, or at least I thought, but I was clearly doing just fine as I’d never known anyone to not have a box spring and a frame under their mattress. Husband had neither. Nor did he have proper sheets. But he did have a down comforter that he never washed until I came along (and subsequently ruined long before I finally convinced him to throw the smelly thing out–who knew you couldn’t launder goose feathers? Also, who, in the modern day, requires an animal be murdered and plucked clean in order to sleep?)

All his shit was strewn around his bedroom. Even the drawers that should have contained the shit that was strewn around were strewn around. He had one real piece of furniture–a scuffed up chest of five drawers–and not a single drawer was in place. It stood, hollowly looking out over its own innards as they recklessly lay about 80% of the bedroom making it basically impossible to cross the room from the crack mattress at its entrance to the closet at its back. But honestly, I found it reassuring that one could not easily cross from bed to closet as that was its own nightmare.

To be fair, the closet wasn’t Husband’s fault. At least, not the architecture. That closet would have existed in its utterly terrifying state regardless of who inhabited the apartment. He certainly didn’t make it better, but it was hard to make it worse (he persevered). Typically we think of closets as shallow rectangles or boxes. This was, instead, a long rectangle that ran insidiously down along the wall with an entryway (the door had long been removed) at one end and a single lightbulb hanging just inside. So you’d step into a small, acceptable, almost normal space, but then if you glanced to the right, the horror of the void would stare back at you. For some reason, the closet was a very narrow, very dark hallway to nowhere. Except maybe Hell.

Husband kept garbage bags full of clothing, mostly and inexplicably Hawaiian shirts, back there. The bags were tied off. I don’t know if they were clean or dirty when they went in. There were all washed when they finally came out.

Additional furniture came in the form of a massive, leather beanbag, an entertainment center that he referred to as a “family heirloom” because his family severely misuses the word, and that is literally all I can remember. The apartment itself wouldn’t have held much more than that anyway. We would acquire a futon months later after the beanbag was unceremoniously used as a litter box.

He knew how to cook one thing, and not well, and had a special appliance (his only appliance save for a microwave that hummed at exactly an F#) just for making it. I was very afraid of eating raw bacon when he eagerly made me a bacon and egg sandwich in this appliance, his coveted sandwich maker, but I did–FOR LOVE. I didn’t do it without complaint, though, and he sites this experience as why he cannot possibly learn to cook now as I permanently ruined his fragile ego.

His bathroom had been cleaned exactly one time, in the interim between the previous apartment’s tenant and himself. It’s important to note that the fixtures were ancient and at one point in our relationship while [redacted] in the shower together, he leaned against the back wall and four of the tiles just crumbled in on one another. The landlord’s fix for this was exactly as you’d imagine.

The apartment itself was next door to the complex’s laundry unit which was kind of convenient if not particularly quiet. It was also a “garden” apartment which is just a fancy way of saying “mostly basement” which meant the only windows were at almost-ceiling height. One evening during a rainstorm when we were watching a pirated movie on Husband’s laptop, our two cats started meowing intensely in the bedroom, we went the two steps into the room to find water somehow gushing in from around the closed window all over the carpeted bedroom and our belongings. By the time it stopped, the carpet was a mushy mess and everything we could salvage was stacked up in the living room/kitchen space.

But this is the place I decided to move into to be with Husband. We lived there for about six months before moving to an only slightly less shitty and slightly more expensive apartment. That place had bedbugs. Still slightly less shitty.