Category Archives: thoughts

Just Before Dawn

Oh, hello there. It’s been a while. Do forgive me. I’m afraid I’ve been pursuing hours in the day that do not exist for some time now, and it’s left me a wee bit…absent.

I’ve spent the last two months with my face buried in paper, up to my neck in ink, and just generally writing until my fingers fall off more days than not. This is a good thing, but it has left my other past times by the wayside. You know. By that side waaaaay over there. It’s just a little speck to me right now. Wave at them.

Words have ever been a giant central gear that my life revolves around. They propel me, fill me, spill out of me. They suck me into other worlds where planets spin through shining colorful galaxies filled with ultraviolet sparkles and dark grimy alleys where something really does want to eat you. They do it, and they do it often. I’ve occupied my imagination so fully lately that I haven’t had the chance to turn it to other things.

I want to sit under an oak tree and feel it live against my back. I want to watch the turning of fiery leaves and run my hands across velvet grass. I want to lay on my back and watch planets and stars appear in a cerulean sky. I want to look into the eyes of an elephant and have her reach out her trunk toward me. I want to soar above oceans again and smell peat and loam and heather. I want to climb up into the branches of a tree and read a book.

It is so easy to get caught up in things. I’m newly married. We both work and have passions and try to eat normal food at our abnormal times. We still haven’t gotten our thank you notes out.

As the world darkens and the sun stretches farther away for the winter months, I feel the return of a new year. I always sort of celebrate the Celtic new year, Samhain. It’s a day of the dead, yes, but it also marks rebirth. It marks the time of year when the earth slows to sleep, where all becomes still, and where hibernation occurs awaiting the return of the light and the burgeoning buds and blossoms. I can’t help but feel like something is…gestating in my life, for lack of a better word. Not in my body; no, there’s no life inside me forming. What I feel is that I’m frantically growing something. That these words I nurture every day are multiplying into something big, something that will soon be born to the world.

The leaves turn and fall to the ground, and the earth slumbers until spring. I will continue to create, to harbor the life of these words until they are ready to be shared. And I believe they will be shared. My husband believes in me. He brings me bright fall roses and dahlias and daisies to add cheer to our home and to comfort me while my body responds to the changing of the seasons. For every winter, there is a spring. So I will keep working, keep writing, keep hoping all through this long night of the earth.

I will write through the darkest hour.

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The MacGuffin

In writing and film, a MacGuffin is a plot device that gives the characters a catalyst for action. It can be an object to quest after or a nebulous concept, but it makes them go. It’s like my gorse bush.

Right now what’s making me go is my writing. I feel good about my story and the people who have so graciously volunteered to help me edit my monstrosity of a manuscript and prepare it for submission. I’m coming to the end of draft two, and I’m excited to get it going with the polishing round.

Writing has been a dream of mine for so long, and now that I have a completed novel and another one almost done, I feel like I can move forward. It’s the career I want. I’ve been pretty deliberate about my steps, trying to make sure that I put the effort in on the front end to save some time and heartache later. I don’t know what to expect once my work starts spiraling around the ether, but we shall see.

That’s my MacGuffin right now. The wedding is in two weeks, and I’m starting a life with my fiance. We’re both the classic broke twenty-somethings. We’re both creative types. The driving force for me is getting my writing out there, because at the end of the day, I write for an audience. I want others to read my work.

The past month has been very busy. I’ve been writing in every spare minute. Sometimes in those minutes I can’t actually spare. I’ve been blogging and building, tweeting and grinding my teeth. I’m painstakingly digging a foundation for a career I hope will encompass my life. I want to show agents that I’m worth the risk of taking on a new author. That I’ll make us both money doing what we love: producing new books for people to cuddle up to.

A lot of the past month has been borne with frustration that I have to work fifty hours a week at another job. That’s fifty hours I can’t spend writing and honing my craft. That’s why I want to make writing my career — so that I can focus on getting better, push myself to creating more vivid language, sharper imagery, characters people long to read over and over again.

I remember how I felt when I discovered that by Jo Rowling’s timeline, Harry wouldn’t be the age of Dan Radcliffe — he’d be my age. That all of this took place parallel to my generation. It made it so much more powerful to me to think that Harry was my peer. I will love those books forever. I will never duplicate the Harry Potter phenomenon — nor do I want to — but I want to make that connection to readers. Make a place in their hearts where my characters will live as their friends.

The dream is there. The drive is there. The will and determination are there. Even with the wedding coming up a mere two weeks from now, writing is the pulse of my life.

Perhaps this entry belongs more on my other blog, but perhaps not. It applies to my life. It’s a shift that has occurred subtly over the past few years, and it’s starting to materialize. I’ve gone from sheer terror to hopelessness to confidence to resolve when it comes to my career — now that resolve is moving my feet forward into a new world.

On Language and Languages

I am of the minority in the country in which I reside. That country is the USA, and the reason I am a minority (one of them, anyway) is that I speak more than one language. I speak Polish, German, (crappy) Spanish, and (worse) French. (The parentheticals in the previous sentence are in no way meant to communicate my feelings about the latter two languages, only the condition of my speaking ability.)

It’s been a long-running goal of mine to speak multiple languages fluently. Languages have always fascinated me. I’ve made up a few. (Or a couple, more accurately.) I’ve always loved the idea of the Otherness that makes up foreign speech, and better yet when I get a glimpse into that Otherness and understand it. As I grew older, I started learning Spanish. At first it was all verb conjugations and noun genders and monotonous memorization — until Mrs. Slater got pregnant and was replaced by a teacher whose name I’m ashamed to have forgotten. The first day this new teacher walked into the room, she started babbling in Spanish. She refused to speak English to us. Everyone panicked, but she had the right of it.

Everyone is capable of learning a language. We all do it once; we can all do it again. She had the theory that the best way to learn a language is to hear it in context, to observe and make connections between speech and environment. This is what babies do. Once kids learn their basic vocabularies, they move onto more abstract conceptual language and more advanced forms of communication, but it’s no good to be able to conjugate the subjunctive tense of a random -ar verb if it has no context. Grammar without conversation is like the squiggling lines of a highway system without benefit of map. It’s meaningless without context.

All this has come up in my mind because I’ve again decided to dust off my Gaelic books. Learning Gaelic has been a goal of mine for a very long time. Part of it is the sheer beauty of the language. Another part is the connection it holds for me to my ancestors. Due to many ethnocidal policies enacted in Scotland over the course of the past three or four hundred years (and some before), Gaelic speakers now reside almost exclusively in the Islands and Northwest Highlands of Scotland. Gaelic is a rich, living language that formed the center of a community-oriented culture for over a thousand years. So many stories and legends have been lost, stories that were never committed to parchment and only existed in an oral tradition that was strangled over the course of a couple centuries. So I want to learn it. I want my children to know it. I feel like a child clapping my hands as Peter Pan abjures the crowd to show Tinker Bell that people still believe in fairies. If I clap loud enough and long enough, maybe others will clap with me. Maybe we can bring Gaelic back from the flickering fringe at the edge of Scotland that many say derisively is only the death-rattle of a language past saving. Welsh and Irish are making a comeback. Even Cornish is making a comeback. I want to do my part to save the language of my people.

So here I am, staring at a small pile of books with daunting amounts of vowels and elusive consonants that hover at the back of the throat and sometimes fade out of existence entirely depending on what the overwhelming vowels have to say about it. A few years ago, I picked them up and gave it a shot, but without audio help and the nearest native speaker being some 5,000 miles away, I floundered for a bit before conceding that I wasn’t up to the task.

Around that same time, I started picking apart another language. I didn’t have the same emotional ties to Polish as I do to Gaelic, but I did have some. I met friends because of the intriguing sound of Polish. Those friends spent a good deal of time trying to learn my language, so I figured the least I could do was try to learn theirs. I set about teaching myself Polish.

I learned Polish in the space of about two years. I didn’t know at the time what a feat that was. When I moved to Poland to study abroad, I tested into one of the highest levels of Polish classes (C1, for all you Europeans who might care). I was dismally behind on my conversational fluidity, but my grammar was excellent and my pronunciation was so good that I always got incredulous looks from people when I told them I had zero Polish background. And so I got dunked into the deep end of the language pool. For the first few months, I was over my head. I studied relentlessly to improve my vocabulary. To be conversational in English, one needs to know about 2,000 words. Many resources say that only 1,000 are really necessary, but for the sake of argument, I’ll call it 2,000. In Polish, it’s necessary to know over 7,000 in order to be conversational. I got greedy. I collected words like gold coins. I became a linguistic Scrooge. I breathed noun declensions. I prattled Polish to anyone who would listen. When servers at restaurants would figure out I was foreign and switch to English, I would speak Polish at them until they got the point that I didn’t want English.

And it worked. Even now, four years after leaving my beloved Krakow, I am still pretty fluent. Because of my experience with Polish, I am utterly grateful that that was the language I chose to immerse myself in. Why?

Polish is an intensely complicated language. Beyond the mountain of vocabulary necessary for speaking, it is home to three genders of nouns which all decline through a very Latin (think actual Latin, not Romance Languages) system of cases. Verbs change for gender. Nouns change not only for gender and case, but for status as animate, inanimate, or virile. Sentence structure is fluid and poetic. Adjectives decline with their nouns. It is due to the hard-earned familiarity with these aspects of language that I picked up German in about four months, and it is due to all of that knowledge that I have again decided to pick up and dust off my Gaelic books again.

No longer do my eyes glaze over when the word “genitive” appears in a sentence. I don’t stare helplessly, wondering what on earth a slender consonant is or what the hell it means to be a leniting vowel. Nasalized vowels and palatized consonants are no longer daunting. Through the precision of Polish pronunciation, I have a higher awareness of what is going on in my mouth when I talk: where my tongue sits with certain consonants and how changing it can affect sound; the difference between words spoken far forward in the mouth as opposed to back in the throat. I have a deep respect for English-learners; our grammar system is capricious and labyrinthine, our spelling an exercise in torture. I bow to languages where phonics is not actually the joke it is in English, where clusters of letters like -ough will make the same sound wherever they’re used rather than performing acrobatics like bough, through, thorough, rough. Where rules are rules. To quote a favorite comedian:

“Brian, what’s the i before e rule?”

“…i before e….always.”

“No, Brian. I before e except after c, or when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh, and on weekends, and holidays, and all throughout May, and you’ll ALWAYS BE WRONG, NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY!”

Hmph.

To sum up, languages are interesting. (Hahaha!) In case you are wondering which ones I care to learn to fluency (or maintain), here’s a list:

-Polish
-German
-Spanish
-French
-Russian
-Portuguese
-Gaelic
-Welsh

I’ll close this windy post with something I wrote whilst on holiday in Valencia in the spring of 2006.

The more that I try to learn languages, the more I am surprised to realize that the most touching and beautiful moments are those that require no words. And for the times that do, I am reminded that it truly is worth all the pain. Every tongue-twisting syllable, every elusive vowel or unfamiliar cluster of consonants, every foot-in-mouth moment or awkward silence, that panicky deer-in-the-headlights feeling — it is all worth it for just one second. Just one second where you can tangibly feel that you have left your own world behind and become one with another. The lights come on and for an instant, you understand. Comprehension dawns in a moment where no translation could retrieve the true meaning of what you heard in its original form, untarnished, with your own two ears.

That’s why I try. And that’s why it’s worth it.

 

What is Love? Baby, Don’t Hurt Me…

I couldn’t help it.

I apologize in advance if this post makes even less sense than last night’s. I fail rather dramatically at putting together coherent paragraphs after days as long as this one. I did have some thoughts tonight during my cocktail shift at my restaurant. We were slow, and I was bored, and in between running food and drinks to my few piddling tables, I had a conversation with a coworker about love, specifically the kind that has longevity. We’re both engaged to be married.

One of the not-so-first things that comes to mind when I think of love is money. Strange, then that money and financial issues are one of the biggest reasons marriages end. Different views on what is a worthwhile use of assets, someone spending too much on the wrong things, not making enough to get by, etc. I can see why. It’s not easy to mesh two people’s finances together, even if you keep them mostly separate. And it’s not a topic most couples find romantic. You can talk to any die-hard romantic about …well, romance…and they might tell you that all you need is love. That love can fix any problem. I disagree. Love can help you forgive a lot of things, but there are many problems that can suck the life out of love, erode it away until all that exists is a fossil of a memory and some jagged edges.

Long lasting love (ooh, alliteration!) involves sacrifice on the part of both parties. It means putting someone else first, or giving up something to gain more. It means thinking of we instead of me (see what I did there?) and putting the needs of others at the top of a priority list. So let’s talk about needs for a minute. I have a strong theory that a relationship cannot succeed if the partners fail to meet each other’s needs the way they need them met. Needs are specific to each person, and they often require different things from each person. Let’s say two people need reassurance. For one, that might mean nothing more than a long huggle and a tender kiss. For another, it might mean hearing affirming words. If you’re someone who needs  a long huggle to feel reassured, affirming words won’t do much for you, and vice versa. It might help a little, but you probably won’t feel completely reassured until the need is met the way you need it to be met.

The tricky part about meeting someone’s needs the way they need them met is that the golden rule really doesn’t apply. You can’t simply do unto your significant other as you would have him or her do unto you, because you might have a different way of having your needs met than they do. Love is being willing to crawl outside your thick skull and into theirs. Love is finding out what those needs of your partner are and how your partner needs you to meet them, then following through even when it’s supremely uncomfortable. Some people have a really hard time expressing themselves verbally. If you’re one of those people and your partner is someone who needs verbal affirmation, it could be potentially catastrophic trying to meet that need. But if you do it, even though it’s hard, your partner will take notice. The danger comes in when one partner says, “I’m just not wired that way. Deal with it.” Especially if that person expects their partner to meet their needs the way they need them met even when they refuse to do the same.

No one ever promised that love would be easy. In fact, if you get promises about love, it’s probably the opposite.

Then again, nothing worth having comes free and easy.

…and I Fail.

Whoops. So much for that “Post a Week” thinger. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, just that I haven’t been posting. It’s okay. I don’t feel like I need the validation of my blog to prove that I’m making something happen, even if it’s slowly. 🙂

It’s been a crazy couple months. Today is the six month date for my wedding. WEDDING. Me. I’m planning one. And I’m the bride in it. Surreal. Between that, playing Dragon Age 2 (cough), working 6 days/60 hours a week, reading the Wheel of Time, working out, and sleeping, there aren’t many hours left in the day for interwebbing. Which is okay. I functioned fine before the internet took over the world, and I can function fine without spending hours a day in front of my computer now.

One thing I do want to change is the fact that I have not finished the second draft of my novel yet. It’s one of those things that is on my serious to do list. I want to start sending out queries to agents this fall, ideally before the wedding. Frankly, I’m tired of working for other people. I’m tired of my work and my financial viability depending on whether or not someone decides to tip me 18-20% instead of 15, which, since we’re on the subject, tip your servers. For real. Did you know servers only make about $3 per hour? In some states, it’s less. No, we do NOT make minimum wage hourly. Most of us average right around 9-10 bucks an hour after we tip out the bussers, the expos (the people who make your plates pretty), the bartenders, etc. For DC, that’s hardly a living wage. If you can’t afford to tip someone 20%, don’t go out to eat. Seriously. Service charges are part of the restaurant experience. If you want someone to wait on you hand and foot, you should pay them for it.

I digress. Anyway. As you can probably see, I would like to be working for me. Even if I have a publisher/editor/agent telling me which hoops to jump through, at least I’d be doing what I really love to do. So that’d be nice. 🙂

I may not blog every day or every week about how things progress with that sort of thing, but I am going to be working on it. That’s something you can count on.

 

Strong Female Characters vs. Strong Characters, Female

I just read a quite interesting essay entitled “Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women.”  (If interested, you can find it here.)  I’ll admit it piqued my curiosity.  I tend to think a lot about how women are portrayed in cinema and TV, mainly because as a child and young adult, I remember getting very annoyed at all the damseling I saw.  In recent years, there have been a barrage of “strong female characters” to enter the silver screen and the boob tube (no pun intended).  However, many of these indeed do not fall into the categories of strong characters.  I still see damseling pretty much wherever I look.  Cute girl + charming/surprising/cliched strength + hero/shlubby everyman/nerdy audience stand-in = girl being rescued by dude by the end of the movie, almost without fail.  This is not to say there are no exceptions to this, but…how many times have we seen that scenario played out?

What I want to see — and I think many women would agree with me on this one — are female characters with strengths, weaknesses, and well-rounded, fleshed-out character development.   I hope that the women in my writing are three dimensional.  God knows I try to make my characters as gritty and true-to-life as I can in spite of the fact that I write fantasy.

Sidebar!  Fantasy writers are among the absolute WORST when it comes to this topic.  What I see in most fantasy is: big breasted, nearly naked women with swords/bows/guns.  Did I mention the nearly naked?  Is that necessary?  Is it even remotely realistic?  I give props to Dragon Age for not only fleshing out the women in the story but um…covering their flesh with appropriate amounts of armor, to the extent that I can look at them without my normal dubious, “And she is protected in battle how?”  Not to mention that it’s one of the few fantasy games that allows you to be a female hero and save the world, the world being one wherein women and men are actually portrayed as having more or less equal respect and responsibility.  Kudos.  The rest of the fantasy writing/filmmaking/graphic novel/gaming world needs to get a clue — women read fantasy too.  Unless you’re creating a sequel to Lord of the G-Strings (yes, that is a real softcore porn movie), put some damn clothes on the women.  No one but a supreme idiot would try and fight demons half-naked.

One of my biggest peeves when it comes to this subject is that movies seem to be overrun with stereotypes.  The one that grates most obnoxiously on my nerves is the Shrew.  There are very few films that don’t have one of these in them.  You know her.  The woman who is constantly portrayed as an emasculating, overbearing, rude, spiteful killjoy who wants nothing more than to ensure that her boyfriend/husband/love interest does exactly what she wants, to ruin all his fun and make him a laughingstock of masculinity.  This ball-and-chain stereotype infuriates me.  And it’s everywhere.  Fannie in Sense and Sensibility (and Lucy Steele, for that matter).  Ed Helms’ wife in The Hangover.  Natasha in Bridget Jones.  I watch a lot of “dude movies.”  Because I like them.  But I hate when they portray women like that.  Yes, some women probably are like that.  But not nearly as many as Hollywood would make it out to be.

All that said, there are some remarkable women out there in fiction-dom.  If you ask me, the one that started it all and paved the way for strong characters (female) everywhere was Buffy Summers.  I’m possibly a bit biased on this count, seeing as how Buffy is one of my favorite shows/characters of all time, but before Buffy the Vampire Slayer came about, you would be hard-pressed to find a female hero.  In fact, if you can think of one, I’ll give you a cookie.  Not heroine.  Hero.  The one who saves the day.  The one who doesn’t have to damsel to get a man.

Buffy is flawed.  She is not perfect.  She is selfish at times, overprotective, stubborn, and a bit holier-than-thou.  But she risks her life (gives her life twice, for that matter) to save the world, to save her friends.  Her character grows and changes thoroughly throughout the show’s seven seasons.  She struggles and triumphs and falls short sometimes.  But she gets shit done.  And she kicks ass.  Sometimes she does so in baggy overalls and unattractive sweats.  Sometimes she gets the shit kicked out of her.  Sometimes she’s bloodied and bruised and not so hot.  She is a hero.  And she’s a woman.  The other women on the show are also strong characters with three dimensions.  So I applaud Joss Whedon and the writers for blazing the way for female heroes. Joss has explained the Buffy creation by saying that he was sick of vapid blondes who would run upstairs and get killed off within the first fifteen minutes of a movie — he wanted to see a woman who could not only hold her own, but was capable of greatness and heroics.

The Bride from the Kill Bill movies is also a very strong character.  Sure, she’s Uma Thurman and hot, but she also cries and gets beat up sometimes.  She struggles.  She keeps fighting.  She saves herself.  Go Quentin for that one.

Another new favorite of mine is Veronica Mars.  She’s clever, relentless, brave.  She’s also cynical, distrustful, and overly sharp at times.  She gets into trouble, but she gets herself out of it.

It’s not that there aren’t examples of strong characters who happen to be female out there.  it’s just that they seem to get lost in the shuffle of the Megan Fox’s of the world.  The damn damsels who are given a couple traits mainly to make them more appealing to the male world and then set up to fulfill the rescue fantasies of said males.  The icing on the cake for me is when I see a “strong female character” who has been set up to be strong and badass for the whole movie only to be suddenly put in peril and saved by some everyman — clearly a gratuitous gesture.  You’d never see Superman suddenly powerless, only to be rescued by that nerdy girl who lives down the street.  Male heroes don’t have to damsel 99% of the time — so why should the female ones?

Anyway, all that said, I’m just going to keep writing my characters to be people I would want to know.  Not characters who would make me want to headdesk.

Changes and the Familiarly Unfamiliar

I’m in Scotland.

I’m again confronted with the ever-familiar waves of knowing and not-knowing.  I know the fresh, washed scent of rain cleaned air, of chill breezes and the golden honey warmth  of sun.  I know the hill that holds Stirling Castle, and the Black Isle that peeks through the window from across the Moray Firth.  I know this building, but the view out the window has changed, and the flags that hang of St. Andrew’s cross, the lion rampant, the jolly roger, and St. George’s cross seem oddly disparate, though they grace walls which still hold familiar photographs.  Lone Tree on Rannoch Moor.  Buachaille Etive Mor.  Pap of Glen Coe,  Eilean Donan.  Inchkeith Sunset.  Familiar names.

The people here are now alien.  No Jordan or Julia or Nicole or Keith.  Instead there is Andres, Sandra, Howe.  Unfamiliar but kind.  As a former hostelite, they welcomed me with warmth and shared food and even tucked me in when I fell asleep on the familiar cushion of one of these black leather sofas, covering me with a fluffy duvet as I slept in a group of strangers.

The maps are well known, from John O’Groats to Skye to Aberdeen.  The voices are unfamiliar.  No Polish  do I hear, but French and English accents.  It has been…a long time.  The giant gulls call out their thoughts of the town and the surf.  Cars rumble across the Firth bridge.  The sun hides his face behind an oddly stagnant sky.

A whisper flits through me, a startling revelation.  Inverness feels like home no more. Perhaps it is the lack of sleep.  Perhaps it is the staggering mix of old and new.  It could be either of those things, but I think what it really is goes much deeper than a superficial makeover.  I’ve got a home.  Not even a physical home;  that’s in flux.  But there is someone rather than somewhere I need.  And he is very far away.  He has become my family, and where family is, so home is too.

More than anything, I wish he was here to share this place with.  Even shrouded in clouds, she has a glory and a cleanness that surpasses anything I have ever known.  There is wisdom in her aged glens, peace in her silver-smooth lochs, strength in her heather-clad mountains, and humility in the rushing of her surrounding sea.  I think if she could speak, she would tell me that she will always hold a place for me here.  And that the next time I return to her, not to come alone.

The Loved, the Lorn, and the Puffy Chairs

Today I watched a movie.  My boyfriend and I actually started it last night, but we were both sleepy and — let’s face it — a wee bit drunk, so we stopped.  I finished it tonight, and I’m going to attempt to review it here, with some interspersed reflections based on the novel I’m reading by someone in one of my writing groups which has a similar theme.

The movie is called The Puffy Chair. My first assessment?  It was remarkably painful to watch.  First of all, the female lead’s name is Emily, and she proved in the first 15 minutes that she was exactly the kind of girlfriend I don’t want to be.  Next, her boyfriend Josh proved to be the kind of boyfriend I don’t want.  And Rhett, the other main character, proved to be the only redeeming person for me, even though in one particular scene (actually two) I sort of wanted to aim an Uzi at his head.

I think the film had several good qualities.  It portrayed a somewhat believable relationship between an insecure woman who was looking for a commitment and a self-absorbed, passive-aggressive man who really wasn’t.  Neither of them were able to successfully communicate anything without it turning into a snit or an argument, which I’ve seen in many relationships, so that part was believable.  I couldn’t figure out if Emily was just really, really fed up with Josh’s indifference or if she was just really high-maintenance and moody, as one reviewer described her.  Either way, I was ashamed when I saw myself reflected in her at all, which I’ll admit happened a couple of times, and I really never want to turn into what I saw there.

To her defense, Josh was entirely incapable of discussing anything serious with anyone, let alone his girlfriend, who he calls “dude” throughout the entire movie — a not so subtle insight into the depth of his emotion.  When she asks why he loves her, he can’t think of a single reason outside of her sexy bits (literally — he changes the subject by grabbing her hoohah).  Granted, her reaction to his silence is a bit melodramatic, but even so, it shows the dysfunction there.  Later on when his brother Rhett calls him out on a pretty despicable action he took, he again gets defensive and nasty.

All in all, I found it really hard to sympathize with any of the characters.  They were all completely wrapped up in themselves.  They wanted what they wanted when they said they wanted it, and if they didn’t get it, the world ended.  I’d give it a C.  Maybe even a C-.

I don’t really like dwelling on dysfunctional relationships, but I volunteered to read a book penned by a fellow writer in which the protagonist is an adulterer, and I just read the first six chapters of her rationalizing her affair, which depressed me.  Especially after watching that movie.

After watching the movie and reading that book, I got the overwhelming urge to be the best girlfriend ever.  I also reflected on my own relationship and came to the conclusion that I am intensely fortunate to have found someone like John, and that despite the similarities between our names and that movie’s characters’ names, we are so not them.

I am so happy with him that it sometimes makes me bubble right off the ground.  Which is glorious.  So in regards to the title of this blog?  I’m that first one.  I’m not lorn — love, for, or otherwise — and I’m decidedly not a puffy chair.  I’m loved by an extraordinary man.

Take that, cynical world.

Crazy Pills

I have been doing a lot of thinking today.  This thinking was catalyzed by the fact that I pretty much have had two major freakouts in the past week, both of which, disturbingly, possess no real basis or logic to them.  Yes, I have been under a lot of stress this year.  Yes, my life is kind of a mess.  However, people have noted — and i agree — that lately, i have had the majorly unattractive tendency to zoom in on small things, which magnifies them to the point that they completely take over my entire field of vision, and then i panic and freak.  That’s not normal for me, and it’s kind of disturbing.

I also think I know what’s causing it, or at least what is exacerbating what, under normal circumstances, is a rather benign tendency that I am perfectly capable of talking myself down from.  I think I am actually taking crazy pills.  By crazy pills, I mean Ortho-Cept, which is a form of hormonal birth control.  It’s pretty high in estrogen, which can cause moodiness, and I really think there is a good chance that this is what is causing the massive apocalyptic freakouts.

The reason I think it’s this is simply because I went off the Ortho-Cept for about 6-8 weeks due to the fact that I thought it could be causing me to have high blood pressure and abdominal pain, and my doctor recommended I stop taking it.  During those weeks, I didn’t have a single unexplained tearfest, no blowouts, no inconsolable black moods.  I went back on it 3 weeks ago because the blood pressure and pain stuff turned out to be from my job (whee), and since then my moods have been insane.  I actually feel crazy.

So I’m going to ask my doctor for a prescription pill that contains significantly less estrogen.  I’ve gotten a couple recommendations from people, and I think that it’s worth a shot.

If you read this, what do you think?  What has your experience been with hormonal birth control?  If you’re a dude, but know women who have dealt with this stuff, what’s your take?

I gotta say, being a chick kind of sucks in terms of reproduction.  Not only are we the ones who get to go through labor pains, but we spend about half our lives actively trying not to get pregnant, which involves the use of crazy-making hormones, stuff stuck in our uterus, and/or surgery.  Torture.  I wish there was an off switch.  I do not want to be nuts — it freaks out my boyfriend, and then I feel worse, because he deserves a happier me.

Museless Maunderings

I wanted to spend some time writing my book tonight.  What did I do instead?  Took a “nap” at 4:30 and slept until 10.  That’s what I get for this sleep schedule — I run myself to exhaustion, and then my body shuts down and I pass out.  That is not a good thing. Tomorrow is going to be a long day; we have a meeting at work (awful), I have a doctor’s appointment for my treatment, then I’m meeting a friend about living together.  All that is a long day for me with this injury.

In other news, I’m thinking a lot about the UK election.  The Tories made some significant gains.  I’m not hugely well-versed in UK politics, but I know enough to get by, and I’m not a fan of the conservative party.  For one thing, they’re super anti-EU.  They say they’re not, but when they say they’re going to introduce a big referendum on UK sovereignty immediately, that speaks to some sentiments I don’t like a whole lot.  But then again, I’m not a huge fan of the political UK as it exists — I think that Scotland and Wales should have sovereignty over their own issues.

Specifically, about Scotland, I cannot imagine that they are happy with this new government and with David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.  Only 15% of Scots voted for the Conservatives, and that leaves a whopping 85% who didn’t want the Tories in power, yet because they are still subject to UK sovereignty in many ways, they are going to have the Conservative agenda imposed on them.  I find that hugely immoral.  Even in the reddest of red states in the US, democrats get a higher percentage than that.

With the Scottish National Party in power in the Scottish Parliament, I really wonder what will transpire in the future.  It seems to me like this election is a decent chance for them to push their agenda, which is an independent Scotland.  I’m a big fan of devolution, and if independence is the right route for Scotland, I would support it wholeheartedly.  As long as her people want it, I say go for it.  I’d like to see a free and independent Scotland again.  I think she got bullied into signing the Act of the Union in 1707 and was treated infamously in the 18th century and into even the 19th and 20th centuries.

That said, I don’t think it would be as easy a route as the SNP would like it to be.  Even though Scotland does provide the vast majority of the UK’s energy between North Sea oil and other sources, it would necessitate a lot of very careful and diligent planning, as well as an attention to the actual needs of the people, which I’m not wholly convinced any government can really do.  We’ll see where it leads.

On a fully emotional level, the thought of an independent Scotland is enough to bring a lump to my throat.  I hope I live to see it happen;  honestly, I think it really is just a matter of time before it does happen.  I just don’t know if it will happen as soon as the SNP wants it to.  I’ve heard tell of a possible referendum as early as next year — if that’s the case, then wow.  We’ll see though.

Sigh.  I’ll admit, the biggest issue I have with the new gains of the Conservatives in the UK is what I’ve read about their stances on immigration.  What is it with conservatives in any country that immediately think slashing numbers of immigrants is the way to go?  It’s not a cut and dried issue at all, but in general, I think immigrants benefit countries.  It’s a large scale indicator of prosperity — if people want to move there, you must be doing something right.

Anyway, that’s really all I have to say about that.  I feel a little foolish dabbling in others’ politics, but those are just my two cents, unsolicited.