A NaNoWriMo Update (Without An Original Post)

It’s almost the end of 2019 which has personally been both an amazing and terrible year. It’s going to end in a way I could have never expected, but not without National Novel Writing Month happening all around me, so I’ve decided for better or worse to take it on yet again. Someday I need to write a post about my love/hate feelings for the concept, but for now, here’s an update on how I’m getting along with it.

First of all, their new website is all fucky, but I realize that I can use it for free, so I really can’t complain all that much. It’s just kind of annoying that the kinks weren’t worked out sooner and it was basically launched along with NaNo this year so users are having trouble with it along with trying to write 50k words in 30 days. Like I said, it’s free (unless you count the advertising), so I really should not complain, but I was having trouble remembering if I’ve ever won a NaNo. Like a real one, during November. I know I won camp once, but that’s not as “real,” ya know? And looking that info up on the site is nowhere near as intuitive as it used to be, and when I found it, it was definitely wrong, so I used my own website which…wow, right?

It doesn’t matter though; every attempt is its own and should be treated as a singular thing. The fact I’ve triumphed and failed in the past isn’t really telling of what will happen now since I’m a different person than I was during all of those past attempts. I would say I’m determined to win this year, but really I’m just determined to do it and survive.

I’m about 4000 words behind schedule, and we’re just past the halfway point. I’m at 25,931 words as of this posting. It’s doable still, and one good day will rocket me ahead of schedule, but it’s sort of funny to think: 50k words does not a novel make. I’m fairly certain my story will take closer to 80k to be properly told, so I’ll be writing into December either way. The good news is my individual 15 minute sprints are seeing more words per sprint than I used to average, proving that writing, in some ways, is a skill you cultivate through practice.

I’m still excited about the story I’m currently working on which is great news for day 18, and I’m more “free” with my writing too–that is to say, I’m sort of just going for it and worrying less about it sounding perfect or making total sense right now. The Korinniad was written more strictly, and I still made some major changes in my first edit, so I know I can’t insulate from that happening. When I jump into a chapter knowing where it should go, but not entirely sure how to get there, I sort of just force myself to write it, knowing I can change it later, and I’ve actually managed to produce some stuff I really like that I wouldn’t have probably come up with otherwise. There’s some trash too, no doubt, but the garbage pickup later will be worth the metal scraps I can trade in for a few nickels.

Which reminds me, after a long discussion with Husband, I’ve decided to self publish The Korinniad in 2020! She still needs an edit, a beta read, and a cover (and I guess an advertising plan too, ha), but I think I can get those things done in the first quarter of the year. I’ve self published in the past, so I know the technical process, but this time I’m throwing my real name on it, so it really needs to be good.

But back to NaNo. It’s happening. And maybe–MAYBE–this book will be on my future Amazon author page along with The Korinniad before 2021.

Questions On Georgia’s HB 481, The Heartbeat Bill

It’s been a long time since I blogged, mostly because I have a lot of strong feelings about politics, but didn’t want to share them here, so I said nothing. But this is my breaking point. Sorry, not sorry.

I’ve wanted to have a baby for some time now. Husband and I have been married for over six years and have been together for nearly a decade. We are in our early thirties and are finally financially and, I believe, emotionally stable and mature enough to handle bringing another human into this world. Because that’s what having a baby is: it’s not being gifted with something cute you get to dress up, or a little kid you get to turn into a mini-you, it’s choosing to take on the responsibility of raising the next generation of humans that will inherit the earth and all the creatures on it. It’s kind of a big deal.

But because we have waited so long, the risks have gone up. The older you are, the more likely you are to have an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage, a congenital defect in the fetus, or a medical complication for the mother that will affect future fertility, mobility, and could lead to straight up death (though, to be fair, all pregnancy comes with these risks: it’s an experience that is not a walk in the park for anyone). All of these things are enhanced when you’re having your first pregnancy at an “older” age, and in my personal case, I have struggled with a small host of reproductive issues that don’t make conception look like it’s going to go smoothly at all.

So, with this in mind, and of course my already staunch support for access to legal and safe abortion for all, I have a lot of question about Georgia’s HB 481, or the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act which, at its most base level, outlaws abortions after a heartbeat can be found (with a handful of exceptions) which is typically around 6 weeks of gestation. I’ve read the whole thing multiple times, I majored in English and consider myself of an intelligence that usually “gets” most things, but I had trouble with plenty of this act, and without any kind of background in law, extrapolating what a lot of these things mean legally. But I damn well tried.

Here is what I’ve gleaned this LIFE act means, and how the legislators who wrote it have twisted things to satisfy their desire to punish women. They have cited the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in order to extend its protections from U.S. citizens to embryos, starting as early as 6 weeks of gestation (39). Now, from my reading of the 14th Amendment, there isn’t an argument here, as it states that it covers “all persons born or naturalized,” emphasis mine, and an embryo isn’t born, nor could it be and survive. There’s also kind of a poetic irony in using an amendment that was specifically written to give former slaves and freed blacks the rights of an American citizen in order to take away the rights of anyone who might become pregnant and essentially make them a slave to the new human inside them, so that’s at least…poignant.

I’d also like to take a closer look at lines 43 through 46 specifically:

Modern medical science, not available decades ago, demonstrates that unborn children are a class of living, distinct persons and more expansive state recognition of unborn children as persons did not exist when Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established abortion related precedents.

Mentioning Roe w. Wade specifically is horrifying in and of itself, but that’s the point of the whole act, I believe–they want to challenge that ruling at the federal level now that the supreme court is stacked against women. The whole country should shiver, as this new, dark dawn approaches us.

But where’s the modern medical science that has come about in the last 27 years that have redefined the words embryo (about weeks 4 through 11) and fetus (week 11 through to the end of pregnancy)? It’s confusing to me that these kind of statements can be made sans citation of the actual science by people who are not only not scientists or physicians, but are very frequently people who have not bothered to understand anything about the processes that they’re making up laws over. I’d like to sit down with any of the representatives (all Republican but one) who voted yea on this thing and have them explain to me anything about fertility or women’s reproduction. I can’t imagine most of them can even say the word “vagina” without looking squeamish or just flat out refusing because their god thinks it’s a curse word.

The act also states the makers are “applying reasoned judgment to the full body of modern medical science” (47-80) but again that full body isn’t cited or really even referred to, and here’s the thing: a neurosurgeon, a gastroenterologist, an optometrist, a dentist, a podiatrist, these people know a whole lot of modern medical science, but none of them know the “full body of modern medical science,” and I wouldn’t pick any of them to be present at my birth over an obstetrician who would know the most science about this bill, not that a single one was consulted. And just a side note, the Medical Association of Georgia flat out opposes HB 481, but I guess legislators know the science better than them.

“I know more than you.”

So, with all that explanation out of the way, I guess I’ll just ask my questions.

First of all, how is this tax stuff gonna work? Per the text, “an unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat is a dependent minor for income tax purposes” (21-22). Does this just apply to only Georgia or is the federal government gonna let us all get in on this too? Or will our state taxes, which can only be filed based on what you file to the federal government, be completely overhauled to compensate for the difference between how many dependents will be listed on each the forms? That sounds like it’d be pretty expensive for the state, honestly, and we’ve only got 7 more months to implement something, so we better get on that.

And how is any of this possible without a social security number? If a woman is 6 weeks pregnant on December 31st, the child will be born sometimes in July and it will take an additional week (in Georgia) to get that new baby’s social security card, so would the mother have to file an extension? You can get six months with an extension form which will cover you til October, which I guess is helpful? But if the point they’re trying to make here is that your embryo is a whole-ass human and you should be able to claim them for a refund, how does pushing that refund out so far actually help?

But maybe Georgia will somehow change the entire federal social security program and get numbers handed out early for embryos now? But if that embryo with a social security number dies at any point going forward, will the parents have to file for a true death certificate going forward? (On top of their grief of miscarrying and, you know, being investigated for murder? (We’ll get to that later.)) It seems to me that having so many more social security numbers floating around tied to people who never actually existed outside of the womb opens the door for a lot more fraud, so how will this be countered? This also means every embryo will have to be named and, when they “die” the parents will have to contact a number of agencies to protect that baby’s identity and prevent more fraud, and I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awesome distraction from mourning the loss of your pregnancy!

And wait, what about multiples who can’t typically be detected until 10 weeks, at the very earliest? Is it tax fraud to only account for one if you can’t see the others right away? And what about Vanishing Twin Syndrome which accounts for 21-30% of multifetal pregnancies? Will a number be issued for each one as they show up and then a death certificate issued as they disappear? This is getting very confusing, guys, and seems like a lot of paperwork, but you know, the government is great at paperwork, so maybe it will be just fine. I mean, it only took me three different written requests over the course of six months to get the title for my car from the state of Florida only to hand it over immediately to the state of Georgia back in July of 2018, and even though I am still waiting on Georgia to finish stuff up, I’m hopeful!

And perhaps most importantly, will this extend to any child conceived in Georgia? So can we legally no longer deport anyone carrying an embryo or a fetus that was conceived here? Or is it that the embryo has to have their first instance of a heartbeat on American soil? How will that be figured out? Because the embryo has the rights of a citizen, according to HB 481, that is unless the mother’s foreign body is considered an embassy of her home country? But what if I, as an American, go to New Hampshire on vacation and that’s where my embryo has their first heartbeat? Or what if a Californian is visiting the World of Coke when their embryo has their first heartbeat? Is that embryo now a whole ass human, subject to Georgian law but mine is subject to New Hampshire law? If I go to another state to get an abortion, does the district attorney have the right to request my medical records from another state and prosecute me here? I mean, everyone knows that gambling at a casino is illegal in Georgia, so if you cross the state line and gamble in Florida or Nevada, you are immediately arrested when you come home. Right? Wait, no, that’s not right. This is befuddling to me.

Fetuses will also be “included in population based determinations” (68) which kind of sounds like they’ll be taken into consideration for where money is allocated by the government and how precincts will be drawn. I’m not sure how they will be counted, again perhaps Social Security numbers are needed for embryos, but this all sounds like just another really lovely way for the state of Georgia to commit even more election fraud by gerrymandering districts to include all the unaccounted for “unborn” citizens.

Perhaps the actual the solution is to make every woman in Georgia’s medical records public information at all times and to subject them to mandatory pregnancy tests every month at the onset of puberty just to make sure we don’t have any more or fewer people than we think? Making a monthly trip down to my state’s pregnancy check office where I’ll share information on my last period, maybe present my used tampons for proof, and then piss in a cup in front of a government worker sounds like a fabulous way to spend a day and, frankly, a fucking magical way to learn I’m pregnant! And I definitely would have loved it at 10 years old when I was blessed with my first period in elementary school!

Ah, I’m sorry for all the hyperbole…but

Fucking, is it???

Line 94 tells us that removing an ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo doesn’t implant itself in the uterus) is not considered an abortion, by legal definition, nor is “removing a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion” which is removing an embryo or fetus once it is no longer viable, or has “died” in the womb. An embryo that is no longer growing can cause a whole lot of problems for a woman, up to and including death, so I guess it’s nice of Georgia to not turn women into walking cemeteries. I mean, I’m glad we don’t consider dead people to be people. Actually, that’s great news in general, right? That means we should immediately be able to harvest organs from bodies as soon as they die, right? Oh wait, no, dead people still actually have complete control over their bodies in Georgia…which is more than living women now.

But my bigger question here is about that embryo that attached itself to a fallopian tube by mistake, the ectopic one, the one that’s typically discoverable as ectopic around week eight. That is NOT a person under the 14th Amendment according to this act despite having a heartbeat because of its placement. I mean, don’t get me wrong here, I know an ectopic pregnancy isn’t viable. It does not have a chance of survival and will most likely kill the mother (and then itself) if left to grow where it not ought be, but according to the scientific definition legislators made up in this law, it IS a person. So how do we morally and legally handle this? Well, it seems to be that we are saying the mother’s life is more important in this and a few other instances, which is refreshing, albeit not consistent.

Lines 119-120 state that an abortion CAN be performed if a medical professional considers it a “medical emergency” which is defined as “necessary in order to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” (97-99) but this does NOT include mental health, specifically outlined in lines 99-103, including if the pregnant woman is suicidal. No, no, we’d rather two deaths, not just the one, thank you very much!

Now, the existence of one thing (danger to the mother’s life) does not confirm the negative outcome to be true (definite death of the mother), so I don’t know how doctors are going to feel when this thing goes live in 2020 (unless you count that pesky letter from the Medical Association of Georgia). Basically, if you have a woman who might die due to pregnancy, but you’re not, like 100% sure, this is no longer something the mother and her physician can discuss, she can’t be given the odds and decide for herself what she wants (unlike basically any other person suffering from any disease being able to choose to treat said diseases and how), the doctor can only put abortion on the table if they believe “in reasonable medical judgment” that the pregnancy will kill her.

But with the threat of being accused of literal murder hanging over their heads, I feel like lots of physicians are going to be incredibly wary of performing abortions at all, especially when “health records shall be available to the district attorney of the judicial circuit in which the act of abortion occurs or the woman upon whom an abortion is performed resides” (152-4) (so fuck your privacy, if you have an abortion, it is a legal matter). If there’s a question about how legitimately the mother’s life was in peril, who’s going to pour over those records? There’s nothing here saying it will be other medical professions, and even if it is, who gets to choose them? Is it completely to the district attorney’s discretion to say whether an abortion needed to be performed to save a life or if the abortion was, in fact, murder? How does that make sense?

This wording will also make doctors even more afraid to treat women for anything if they’re pregnant, like women who have other existing conditions and need medication or treatment that carry any kind of risk to an embryo or fetus. None of this leads to better healthcare for mothers or babies, especially in Georgia where we already have the highest rate of maternal death in the entire fucking country. And even if a doctor is willing to treat a pregnant woman, can she actually be treated if she is diagnosed with, say, cancer? Since it’s not the embryo that’s threatening your life but the cancer, you can’t have an abortion, but the cancer treatment will likely cause a miscarriage, which would be construed as murder under this new law as:

‘Abortion’ means the act of using, prescribing, or administering any instrument, substance, device, or other means with the purpose to terminate a pregnancy with knowledge that termination will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of an unborn child (88-91)

So, what’s the solution here? Do we just hope the fetus out grows the tumor and hope the baby still has its mom afterwards?

Here is also where it gets really weird, and you’re going to have to bear with me while I try to understand the cognitive dissonance of your average anti-abortion-er. An abortion CAN be performed before 20 weeks if the pregnancy is the “result of rape or incest in which an official police report has been filed alleging the offense of rape or incest” (122-3). (Quick digression here: The fact that a police report has to be filed is its own dilemma because that requires the police to cooperate and believe you, which we know is a huge problem, especially for certain groups in this country, women included, and it also requires the woman to have access to the police and the courage to go to them which isn’t super likely if you’re in an incest situation. It’s a fucking mess.) So it’s ultimately good we have this exception, of course, but it is also completely mind boggling that a group of people who claim to believe that a 6 week old embryo is an entire human being and is susceptible to the 14th Amendment and deserves all the rights of a human, but they simultaneously believe that if an embryo is the result of rape or incest, somehow it’s either A) NOT a human and no longer deserves those rights or B) is IS a human, but we’re choosing to take away those rights.

Since the claim that 6 week embryos are full humans is being made due to “applying reasoned judgment to the full body of modern medical science,” it can’t possibly be A, right? Because it wouldn’t be a scientific stance that if I consensually have sex and get pregnant that that is medically different than if I am raped and get pregnant or even if I consensually (or not) am impregnated by a biological family member. These all result in the “same” embryo with a possible heartbeat at 6 weeks. So it must be B, that the embryo is human, but the state of Georgia has decided to deny those rights to a specific group of people. It probably sounds like I’m making a real good argument to ban abortions in cases of rape and incest, but trust me, that is not what I want. I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy here. How is this abortion okay, but the abortion of any embryo or fetus under 20 weeks that was conceived in any other way not okay? If it is okay in this instance, it should be okay in all instances, shouldn’t it?

And where do things like statutory rape and underage pregnancy of unable to consent teenagers and, sadly, children fit in?

And I have a bigger, more pressing question to ask: If an embryo that is the result of rape or incest CAN be aborted, but the pregnant woman decides NOT to abort it and carry it to term, when does it become a human? 20 weeks? Birth? Never? How else does this human actually earn personhood? Do they get to be claimed as a dependent for the time, however long, they spend in the womb if they’re never born due to a legally chosen abortion? Do they actually have a right to life once they’ve exited the womb? Or will we have a whole new subclass of people that don’t have any rights based on the status of their conception? Should these people wear arm bands of some sort?

In a SHOCKING turn of events, men are actually affected directly by this law. Section 5 speaks very briefly about pregnant women recovering medical and pregnancy expenses from the father. Wow. I am amazed. In fact, I am almost pleased, except that in reality I don’t want anyone to be hurt in any way by laws, so of course I don’t want men to suffer, but I sure as shit don’t want women to suffer either! And I have questions even about this!

I don’t know how paternity would be established here as paternity is typically established by the name on the birth certificate. Paternity tests can be performed as early as 9 weeks (notably AFTER the heartbeat can be established). If the embryo or fetus is also considered a child, and if the father has become financially responsible for it, is there also a custody agreement for the “child?” Will we be transferring the fetus from womb to…testicle for shared custody? Is the father responsible for keeping the embryo or fetus safe? If they, say, smoke around the fetus, can they be charged with child endangerment? (Can anyone who smokes around the fetus be charged?) Will the mother be ordered to spend x amount of hours a week in the presence of the father? Are certain holidays completely at the father’s discretion? Must the father sign off on any of the mother’s medical treatments that affect the fetus or on any travel the mother does? Will the birthing process no longer solely be at the discretion of the woman experiencing it? Can a father deny a mother pain medications during birth if he is afraid it may affect his child? Should we give women collars with their fetus’s sperm donor’s phone numbers on them so they can truly be marked as the property that they are?

“Hello, yes, I saw your incubator walking past the sushi display at Kroger and just thought you should know. And she was headed for the soft cheeses and deli meat!”

So the scariest thing in the entirety of this act is the implication (or lack of any wording) that talks about what a newly illegal termination of a pregnancy means for the woman. If an abortion, purposefully sought out in a medical facility in Georgia, in another state, in another country, or purposefully performed at home with medication, or if “performed” on accident (that’s a miscarriage or “spontaneous abortion” in accordance with the text), we must be considering it murder since that embryo or fetus is considered a human with 14th Amendment rights. Georgia carries the death penalty by lethal injection (by the way, check out this on lethal injection if you want to ruin your day further) for certain types murder, specifically malice murder which is what this would be considered, or just regular old prison time, up to 30 years. I mean, I guess you couldn’t get pregnant again at least if you went to jail? Well, maybe. Is this what pregnant women have to look forward to? A legal battle on the horizon of every doctor’s visit?

I’m not even talking about people who accidentally get pregnant, however incredibly valid I think their desire for an abortion is (and this is coming from an “oops baby” to an unwed, abandoned mother who could have very easily been aborted). I am talking, in a completely solipsistic way here, about my own damn self. If I manage to get pregnant with a very much-wanted baby, but then develop placental separation, fetal membrane rupture, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension, renal disease, preeclampsia, cancer, an intrauterine infection, diabetes, a whole host of blood disorders, Marfan’s syndrome, Eisenmanger’s syndrome, or any other life-threatening illness, do I get to discuss the option for abortion with my doctor to save my life just to then go to trial for my life again? Will a doctor even be willing to entertain an abortion with the threat of legal action over their heads? How much distress do I need to be in before abortion is feasible? How close to death must I be pushed for my medical records to be enough of a defense to keep a jury from convicting me of murder? Or to just stay out of a courtroom at all?

And what if I end up miscarrying (which, by the way, is how 10-25% of all pregnancies end)? Do I have a legal battle to face once my once-private medical records are sent to the district attorney? Is every aspect of my life going to be scrutinized to see if I messed up somewhere and spontaneously aborted the legal human in my womb? How far back will these records go? Should women, in general, be extra careful about what they disclose to their doctors now lest some past reported depression or knowledge of sickness be used against us later? Will my husband be held accountable in some way as well for letting me endanger and then kill our child? Will this very blog be used against me in court if I mention somewhere during my pregnancy that I had, say, a Diet Coke or went on a jog? What about a Facebook photo of me with a friend at dinner who decided to indulge in a cocktail? Or that time my neighbor saw me almost trip down my front steps?

And remember that Vanishing Twin Syndrome I mentioned? Will…will the fetus that survives be held accountable for the murder of their sibling? When will the trial be held? In the womb? Will the mother be jailed waiting for the trial? (And can pregnant women be jailed at all since that would affect the 14th Amendment rights to freedom of the embryo?) If found guilty, do we wait for the fetus to be born and then put it to death via lethal injection (because that’s what the “pro-life” government in Georgia does–we kill people)? Or do we put it to death in the womb with say…an abortion?

Or should we just kill the mother before she can unleash a new murderer into the world? I mean, technically it’s her fault, probably, somehow. And maybe her doctor’s too. Because after all, the only solution for murder is…more murder, of course, and we are talking about the most precious thing on this planet: life.

It’s Getting Dark

Oh, Dear Reader, I have made a grievous mistake. Today is Valentine’s Day, and I should be happy, but alas and alack, I am not and it is all for this: I’ve anthropomorphized a robot.

The Mars rover Opportunity is probably something you’ve heard of, but don’t know a whole lot about. I know I didn’t know a whole lot about it until yesterday. I knew it sent us some great photos, and I thought it sang “Happy Birthday” to itself every year, but then I learned that that is actually Curiosity. Yeah, there are two little roving robots up on Mars right now (well, technically only one is left roving, and actually we’ve sent up seven total).

But Opportunity lasted the longest, landing on Mars 15 years ago. It was only meant to last for 90 days, but it proved to be much more resilient than that. Opportunity traveled just 28 miles in its lifetime, but those 28 miles have never been covered by anything else from Earth, so maybe don’t be a dick about it, okay?

On June 10th, 2018, Opportunity entered into hibernation to reserve its
solar-powered battery. Dust storms blotted out the sun, and it shut down with hopes it would boot up again when the dust settled and it could be charged once more. The end of Opportunity’s watch was called yesterday, February 13th, 2019, when, after six months of sending signals out to it, it had failed to answer. Its mission has been officially declared complete.

Its final message was:

My battery is low and it’s getting dark.

Mars Exploration Rover – B aka Oppy

I’ve struggled so far to not call Opportunity “him” for a number of reasons, mostly because he says “my” so the little dude comes off as sentient, but also, well, just look at him!

This is technically an artist’s rendering, but you get the idea.

For goodness sake, he looks like Wall-E!

Anyway, it’s not just me who’s humanizing this poor, little, lonely sentinel out in space, and undoubtedly all these sad-as-fuck tributes are aiding in the over-abundance of feelings I’m having for a hunk of metal:

The only source I can find on this is the signature, “blindwire.”

So, basically, I’m wondering: what the fuck? I have cried about this more times than I can count on one hand in the last 24 hours. For a little bit I wondered if I was suffering from depression, and it’s just coming out like this, but the truth is I’ve kind of always been incredibly weepy. I cry over the smallest things, especially if they are manufacture like a well-timed song or a commercial about forest creatures, but this seems extra bad. Something about this little machine is fucking me up hard.

The logician in me understands this: Opportunity is not a living creature, it does not have sentience, it doesn’t know what’s happened to it (at least I’m on board with those sentiments 99%). And yet…AND YET…I feel bad for it. I’m sad it’s all alone, I’m sad it doesn’t get to know how much it did for us, I’m sad it doesn’t get to come home. But maybe what I’m really sad about is what it appears to represent: the end of space exploration. Of course, this isn’t the case at all, NASA still exists, Curiosity is still out there, and we have a whole future ahead of us in which we’re bound to eventually get into some Star Trek shit. But seeing as we’ve entered the darkest timeline here on Earth, specifically in the USA, the future just doesn’t quite seem that bright, and the death of something so good from a time when things seemed possible (I was 16 when this guy shot off into space) just feels so heavy.

And maybe someday we’ll actually get to Mars, we’ll collect him, and we’ll set him up in the Smithsonian with a nice little plaque that humans can wonder over and appreciate. That’ll be a really nice day, and I guess it’s really something to look forward to, it’s just so hard to imagine as a possibility right now in the face of everything else our nation is going through. We seem so doomed to repeat ourselves, to stop dead, and–worst of all–to regress, and it’s terrifying and disheartening. But, on the other hand…

We’re not quite broken yet, are we? I mean, if we’re sad about it, at least we’re not apathetic. The 24 hour news cycle is so in your face that you can become numb to all the bullshit deluging out of it, but this little dude, sitting alone in a crater, covered in red dust, can still illicit real feelings (in me, at least). And maybe that’s a sign that the future’s not going to be so bad after all.

Dear Spider On The Ceiling Of My Kitchen

I know I am about a million times bigger than you (do your multiple eyes allow you to comprehend our size difference?), I produce loud obnoxious noises (do you even have ears?), and I appear to have the powers of a goddess by turning on and off the sun (okay, that one’s real), but I assure you: I only want to be your friend.

You see, unlike most irrational humans, I understand you have intrinsic value as a living, breathing creature, and I understand you have extrinsic value because you feed upon my nemeses: mosquitoes. This is all to say, I have no desire to smoosh you.

However, none of these perfectly rational realizations preclude me from that most based reaction of fear when, bleary-eyed and hunger-panged, one nearly walks head-on into a shockingly large, dangling, brown-recluse-looking mother fucker. I expected you to be there just about as much as you expected me which is to say not at fucking all, and I appreciate your instinct to scurry up your anal silk to avoid collision instead of swinging onto my face and crawling into the closest orifice to lay eggs. See, I know you’d never do this, but that weird, primordial fear is inherent in so many of my species, so you probably have your ancestors to blame for my response.

I am sorry my shriek was so ear-piercing (again, apologies if you don’t have ears) and my movement to quick that you likely felt threatened. Further, I am sorry that I maneuvered around my kitchen while I went about normal human chores in such a way as to make you feel I was distrustful of your kind and you were being watched. It was very speciest of me, but I can be the bigger creature (which, I guess, I naturally am anyway) and admit that that is exactly what I was doing.

I’d like to start over, turn a new leaf, spin a new web, as it were, and extend to you a…fly carcass wrapped in silk. In this vein, have placed a small plastic container on the counter, very close to the spot you are currently occupying next to the pot light (and have been occupying for a few hours now, a fact I know because I can’t help how I was raised). You would only need to move a foot (something like a few hundred spider-feet) or so across the ceiling and drop down into said container. Once you have done so, I will very gently slid the lid on top so as not to jostle you, but I will not latch the lid. Then I will carefully place the container outside, open, so that you may exit it at your leisure.

I think you will find the out of door suits you immensely better than my kitchen. Yours in sincerity and solidarity,

Ashley “Arachnids Are Friends Not Foes” Caggiano

Thoughts While Watching 2001’s The Fast And The Furious

For reasons unknown, Husband got it into his head that we, as a couple, need to subject ourselves to the entirety of the Fast and Furious movie franchise. Because I love him, I have agreed to devote 15 hours and 57 minutes of my life watching ethnically ambiguous men beat one another up furiously between races where they make their cars go, what I can only assume from the titles, is very, very fast.

We began with the first of what is currently only eight films: The Fast and the Furious. A la my She’s All That post, the following are my thoughts while watching, jotted down in real time in a notepad application on my phone. I have no screen shots, but I am sure, Dear Reader, that you remember this movie masterpiece frame by frame.

We’re 3 seconds in, and I can already tell this is not a movie that was made for my 31 year old lady demographic.

Are they gonna kill this truck driver? What the heck, I do NOT remember this at all!

Wouldn’t you stop if people were attacking your semi? How are you this good of a semi driver? Is this movie actually about semi drivers?

Jesus, this movie just feels like 2001.

PAUL WALKER!!! (My mom loved him.)

Is Paul Walker really going to have this girl cut the crusts off his sandwich? What a man baby.

This girl working at the diner (Jordana Brewster) is 2001 hot. She has no lips and a straight figure. 2001 was a simpler time.

Okay, Michelle Rodriguez just showed up and I am here for her.

“Sandwich crazy” needs to be entered into the DSM.

Who is this beardy fuck? Vince? Fuck off.

I’m feeling ultra gross how a tuna sandwich is being equated with Mia (Jordana Brewster) right now.

DON’T YOU EMBARRASS VIN DIESEL!

The movie is a commercial for NOS. I don’t know if that’s a brand, but I bet it is (and I refuse to look it up).

For a few seconds you see all these diverse people at the “car club” and you think this is nice, everyone getting together, but then they play music specifically from a person’s background and show how separate they actually are and–is that Ja Rule????

P Dubz’s car has blue lines under the hood so it is the coolest car there.

No hot lady with a flag signaling the drivers to go? What kinda bullshit car racing movie is this?

No one going 200mph would stop that easily.

The real miracle of this film is that, in the scene where they scatter from the police, no one hits anyone else.

I feel like I don’t even need to say this, but I’m gonna: All of these lines are terrible, and they even terriblier delivered. I had to make up a new word to express how terrible this dialogue is.

Now there’s a motorcycle gang! And they’re Asian! But they weren’t invited to the car club! But they race too! They have a turf war! What the hell?!

Dem cheek bones doe, dem tight pants doe! Johnny Tran needs his own movie.

AAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhahahahahahahaha the car BLEW UP.

All these lit candles at this drunk-person party–this house is going up in flames like that car.

Waaaaaay back in 2001 there were NO WOMEN on the police force.

Do you think anybody thought twice about calling this yearly dessert meetup “Race Wars?” Like do you think the writers, producers, or directors considered different names? Or do you think there’s a complicated, in-universe reason for the name?

FLOPPY DISKS.

This drop out with ADD should be the main character.

Vince fucking sucks.

Either I am thinking way too hard about this, or the director really wanted to give this backyard bbq a last supper vibe, and Vince is Judas. Or maybe it’s Paul Walker. Or maybe I’m thinking too hard about it.

I don’t think there are this many parking spaces readily available in LA.

P Dubz is a bad liar.

Okay, so Vince still fucking sucks, but he isn’t wrong about P Dubz being a cop. Man this is rough.

I just stopped paying attention for the last like 20 minutes and when I looked back up Vin Diesel was grabbing Michelle Rodriguez’s ass in such an awkward way that it looked like he was going to tear her in half buttcheeks first.

Okay, this movie is just Grease without the music. OMG what I would give to see Fast and Furious and Fabulous.

OMG SPOILER ALERT: Vin Diesel was the bad guy all along, I cannot fucking believe this!

Well it looks like, in a completely uncharacteristic turn of events, Michelle Rodriguez decided to wear her seatbelt and that happened to be the one time a car rolled over. Thank you for making a good choice and being a role model for all the kids who will see this movie.

The reveal that P Dubz is a cop to Vin Diesel was actually pretty great. This is easily the best scene in this film acting-wise, writing-wise, even how its shot.

Also giving the truck driver a shot gun was a good choice. You don’t see a lot of shot guns in movies anymore. Or at least I don’t. Maybe I’m watching the wrong kinda movies.

Is this thing ever going to end? There is so much yelling, and bullets, and revving engines.

Guess Johnny Tran isn’t getting his own movie.

Ooo, Vinny D and P Duz gonna talk the only way the know how: by racing!

The greatest love story of this film is the one between Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.

Choo choo, mother fucker!

Are we really doin this, bro? Yep!

Like Vin, I did NOT see that semi coming. (Hey there, Ashley from way after watching the movie here: Vin Diesel headed up a ring of robbers who heisted semi truck goods. Then Vin Diesel gets hit by/runs into a semi truck. I did not get this connection when I watched it, but now…are the writers of this franchise actually geniuses???)

KISS KISS KISS!!!!

Spoiler Alert: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel did NOT kiss. Guess they’re saving that for the second movie.

Liberate

Today’s session was self lead and full of crying because I don’t fucking know why, but day 30 always is a tear fest. It’s certainly got something to do with succeeding and knowing you’ve been on this journey with thousands of other people all over the world and somehow feeling them through the ether, and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by someone else’s emotions, but I’ll never really know.

It’s hard to do a forward fold when your nose is stuffed up. Really throws your breathing right off! But I completed a 30 minute practice today with little guidance–sometimes I synced up with Adriene, sometimes I did my own thing, sometimes I modified what I wanted to do because Rutherford had parked himself underneath me in chaturanga. I crave direction in yoga because I have no way of telling how long I’ve been practicing. Sometimes ten minutes feels like an hour, sometimes thirty minutes feels like I just started. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be, maybe your body tells you when you’re done like that.

In any case, 30 days of yoga, and thus blogging, is officially over. I don’t think a single day has gone by where I felt like either was a challenge. I missed two days, but I didn’t beat myself up about either, and I feel fine looking back on them, so it seems my mental state has improved significantly. I feel more flexible, stronger, active, and happier. Basically, everything I needed was accomplished.

Most importantly, I’ve reestablished a daily yoga routine. This is something I need in my life, it’s not to be ignored.

In less healthy news, on my quest to become a good kitchen witch and baker, I made pretzels last night for the first time. They were amazing:

Recipe is here, I just don’t mess with the pretzel salt. I ground a little pink salt onto them before they went in the oven, but they probably didn’t even need that after the bicarb bath.

They’re not particularly pretty and maybe not what you imagine when you think of a pretzel (kinda like me as a yogi), but they were so soft and chewy and surprisingly buttery considering I only used two tablespoons in the dough and then just melted one tablespoon more and spread that out over all six of them in the end. I made some spinach artichoke dip on the side as well and roasted some broccoli and cauliflower because of green reasons, or “greasons.” Not the kind of dinner you should have often, but okay for rare occasions and baking trials!

I definitely went to bed with bread gut last night though. Bleck.

This morning I planned out my habits for February in my bullet journal. Here’s my monthly spread for February, keep in mind the designs for the headers I stole from something I saw online:

I was smart enough this time to not put birthdays on here before I took the picture.

If nothing else, maybe my handwriting will improve from journaling. Probably not, but provided it remains somewhat legible there will at least be a little log of my life in 2019. Will my possible future children care? Maaaaybe? I need to make it more interesting if that will ever be the case!

Celebrate

I really wanted to write this sort of uplifting post today about being a cheerleader for someone else. I wanted to say something like “celebrate someone in your life today, someone you wouldn’t normally.” Because there are a lot of people out there who are jealous and snippy and want to tear everyone else down, but really we should be proud of people when they succeed and happy when they are happy. But I can’t exactly find super eloquent words to do this, so instead I’m just saying it plainly.

Cheer for somebody, tell someone they did a good job, be proud–even silently–and see how that feels. Because I gotta tell you, it feels SO MUCH BETTER than jealousy. Instead of picking out someone’s flaws, pick out their perfections, allow yourself to be impressed by them, inspired, excited about what they’re going on to do. Celebrate humankind.

Dedicate

A subtitle for today’s blog could be “Planning for Brainstorm February,” but I gotta stay on this month’s brand, and dedicate actually works out. I dedicated today’s practice, as Adriene asked us to, to “my work.” It was meant to be a person or a thing that wasn’t ourselves to prove how self love and care isn’t selfish, which I 100% agree with, but I wonder if choosing my writing really is selfish. I reasoned that I’d like to write for other people, I want to bring joy to others, but am I capable of that? Is it not just selfish but self aggrandizing to think that’s where this all will lead? I dunno, but that’s what I did.

I’m at least an ancillary believer in putting things out into the universe to make them come true, so I’ve formed a writing plan for the next month and for the whole year. I even wrote it down in my bujo. Woah.

One of my 2019 goals is to complete three new first drafts. I did like half to two thirds that last year, so I know it’s possible with some proper planning. Currently NaNo is traditionally in November and camp runs in July, so I’ll be observing these for two of my drafts. I was pumped to find out the NaNo people actually run two camps, but bummed to see they’re in April and July. July and November are four months apart, but April isn’t equally spaced like the others, so I’m creating my own little NaNo event in March instead so my drafts will be equally spaced, leaving my three full months between writing sessions for editing of last year’s and this year’s drafts and, if I’m so inclined, other new writing projects.

If 2018 taught me anything, it’s that a well-thought-out, specifically designed plot will help me reach my word goals. That is not to say the plot cannot change as my characters reveal themselves through the story, but when I find myself in times of trouble, my methodic plot comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: “just do this shit right here, you already wrote it down, Jesus.” So to get to that point, I’m dedicating February to plotting. For the rest of this week I’m tying up my SAT loose ends, then come Monday the 4th I’m following this schedule:

  • Monday – Story one’s premise, general outline, character sheets, and how I see the story ending
  • Tuesday – Plot act one
  • Wednesday – Plot act two
  • Thursday – Plot act three
  • Friday – Fill in plot holes, flesh out any parts that were skipped
  • Saturday/Sunday – General clean up

Rinse and repeat for three weeks until three plots are written, then use the last four days in February to pick which one I’d like to work on in March and to fix anything up that needs to be done before jumping in. Maybe this seems lofty, but I have about five different stories rolling around in my brain already to choose from for this process, and I have many of the characters and events thought out and even written down in some instances, so I’m not going in completely blind.

I don’t really write in “acts,” but I can generally feel where they fall in my work. Acts one and three, or the beginning and the end, are typically 25 to 50% of the whole thing while act two, or the middle, is at least half if not more of the story. It’s the alternative meat product in my vegetarian sandwich. So I’m not too sure I’ll have “equal” work for the middle of the week, but then again I’ve never worked like this before. I guess we’ll see at the end of February if it works out at all.

Power

Today, I have the power to stay on task. I mean, I had the power to stay in those standing splits the whole time and do shiva squats, so I could probably conquer the galaxy if I put my mind and brawn to it today. But we’ll save becoming Supreme Leader of the Universe for another day.

I’m also writing about pirates and an invisible ship today. Sort of like Jack Sparrow meets old school Wonder Woman. Except there’s also dragons. And I’m getting lots of chores done, and planning a tofu fried rice for dinner with leftover hibachi that’s going to be killer. Oh! And I did my February bujo spread and a little planning for the upcoming month. God damn I’m on a roll!

In other, not as great news, I was looking at my credit score and found some discrepancies. 1) A debt that I’m completely unaware of and 2) Two hard inquiries for the same pull. Both are pissing me off, but while I can dispute the debt, I can’t dispute the inquiries using the bureau’s online system, so I’m going to have to call them which I’m sure will be a shitshow. I think it’s utter bullshit that these companies, which are completely private and seem to be held to absolutely no standard and are wrong so frequently. (Seriously, you NEED to watch that whole video in the link.) A very smart friend encouraged me to sign up for Credit Karma a while back, and I am so glad I did. But I’m going to drop the anger, and focus on fixing it.

January is almost over which means I need to soon take a step back and evaluate what habits have been working for me this month and what has not. Specifically, I need to look for a method for tracking habits related to writing that goes beyond sprints and word counts because February is going to be brainstorming and plotting heavy, but I don’t know how to track those things exactly. I’m thinking the best way may be to just set minor goals throughout the month because it’s hard to track progress when brainstorming isn’t exactly tangible. I might write a thousand words about two or three scenes one day, then I might write a hundred words but get down a third of the plot, so it’s a little wibbly wobbly. If you have suggestions, I am so hardcore open to them! And hopefully if I figure something out, I’ll share them here.

I also need to figure out how I’m going to blog going forward. I think I’m going to end January with more views than I’ve ever gotten in one month, so daily blogging is tempting, but I know it’s not sustainable, and that’s the key to any habit or change: sustainability. Also, the content isn’t the quality I’d like to hit. I like utilizing quantity for productivity–and that really does work for me–but we love a quality queen, right?

Drop

Anger is addictive. Next to food, it’s my drug of choice, and it’s at the top of the list of things I’d like to drop.

The problem is, it feels good to be mad, doesn’t it? Of course, no, not really. Being in a foul mood, yelling, finding irritation in everything–these aren’t pleasant experiences. But they can be cathartic, and that’s, well, it’s kinda bullshit, isn’t it? I mean, what the fuck? Shit that makes me feel good should be good for me! God damnit brain, GET IT TOGETHER!

Whew, see how easy it is?

I have some coping mechanisms, I tell myself to “be zen,” and I ask myself if this person–the one who’s angry all the time–is who I want to be. The answer is “no” 99% of the time. But I do struggle with being the kind of person who lets things go and ending up actually the kind of person who gets walked all over. It’s not one or the other, surely, but you must admit, it’s more of one or the other.

The key might be to drop even more and sooner. Don’t hold onto annoyances, but don’t let them go. Air your grievances, let every day be Festivus, and maybe less of those things that bug you will happen in the future. But probably not a whole lot less, so you gotta just let some stuff go. Or not. I don’t fucking know.