bloodygranuaile: (gashlycrumb clara)
The April 3 issue of The New Yorker was the "Health, Medicine & The Body" issue, and it features a number of really strong pieces of medtech-related reporting in varying degrees of not-for-the-squeamish. But for me, the most upsetting article in the whole issue was Tad Friend's excellently creepy "The God Pill: Silicon Valley's quest for eternal life," a look into the field of longevity/immortality research.

While much of what Friend reports on in the article is a little weird on its facethere are some, uh, colorful characters involved in this line of workwhat I found to be the most disturbing aspect of the 10-page longread was what wasn't discussed: The inequalities in health care access and health care outcomes in America.

The article opens at a longevity symposium held in some dude's house, and there are three types of people in attendance: Scientists, movie stars, and venture capitalists. The scientists are obviously there because those are the people who do the science, and this is a scientific topic. The movie stars... I could probably write a whole post about Hollywood culture and why these people want to be young and lovely forever, but I'll spare you that rant for now.

The venture capitalists are where it gets weird.

According to how capitalism works, it shouldn't be weird, because longevity advancement is an interesting research/technology problem, and it is the job of venture capitalists to provide capital for interesting ventures. So if you just think of the venture capitalists as sources of funding for the project, it's cool that they're there: It indicates that the project might get funded, and improving longevity is probably a better use of capital than developing
a $400 machine that squeezes bags of juice or reinventing the bus.

This, however, is a simplistic view of venture capitalists. It ignores who they are as people: mainly, really, really rich ones.

Here is a fun fact about rich people that does not appear in Friend's article but had also been making the news that week:
Rich people in the U.S. already live an average of 15 years longer than poor people. The research, published in the most recent edition of The Lancet, concluded that this was due to our inefficient, expensive for-profit health care system, and the researchers suggested that we adopt a single-payer system like a real country.

If venture-capital-funded researchers develop a way to increase longevity or induce immortality, it's likely to be a pretty expensive medical treatment, because currently all medical treatment is expensive but new stuff is the most expensive. It would possibly not even be covered by insurance, because insurance companies never cover anything if they can find a way out of it, which means it could end up being available only to people who are already wealthy enough to pay for it out of pocket.

So then the gap between the richest 1% and everyone else would expand to a lot more than 15 years, with billionaires living forever and everyone else being subjected to normal human frailty and dying of stupid things like humans have always done. The extra lifespan would allow people wealthy enough to buy eternal life even more time to work on consolidating their fortunes and other forms of power, leading to a society ruled by a small cadre of immortal oligarchs with decades or centuries of experience in squeezing every last resource from an oppressed underclass of normal humans.

This is the premise for a bunch of shitty vampire apocalypse stories.

Bill Maris, founder of Google Ventures, is interviewed in the article and gives us the closest thing to a recognition of access and distribution issues that we get, which is this quote: "This is not about Silicon Valley billionaires living forever off the blood of young people. It's about a 'Star Trek' future where no one dies of preventable diseases, where life is fair."

Neither Maris nor Friend further discuss how to get to a Star Trek future where no one dies of preventable diseases. Instead, the article goes into a discussion of the state of the field of parabiosis, an area of research in which Silicon Valley billionaires attempt to retard aging by injecting themselves with the blood of young people.

One of the most well-known wannabe vampire oligarchs is libertarian douchebro Peter Thiel, who got rich writing code for moving money around and now thinks he's the smartest dude ever. Thiel is apparently worried that one lifetime won't be enough time to cause sufficient damage to democracy,
the free press, and society in general.

The Master vampire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Peter Thiel, basically

This brings us to my other big issue with venture capitalists: Not only do they already siphon enough years off the lifespans of the poor, but they are frequently either greedy arrogant humans, just plain fuckin' weird, or some combination thereof.

This is actually discussed at great length in the article, making it a fascinating character study as well as an interesting scientific piece. Right at the beginning, when the venture capitalists are introduced, they're not introduced as being there to consider funding: The first line we read about them is "The venture capitalists were keeping slim to maintain their imposing vitality," because venture capitalists see themselves as Randian Captains of Industry and Masters of the Universe and all that insufferable nonsense instead of as humans who have a lot of money. So apparently they feel a need to look like the Ubermenschen they think they are. (You'd think being rich as Croesus would liberate you from giving a shit what people think about your looks, but this is apparently not the case in Uncanny Silicon Valley.)

It's pretty clear that most of the folks profiled here, Maris' protest to the contrary notwithstanding, are interested in this eternal life thing because they personally want to live forever. Sergey Brin of Google is apparently determined to prove wrong a book about anti-aging research that says he's going to die (although in fairness, it must be weird to have a book single you out personally for something so universal). Other fun quotes from the piece include, from an unnamed scientist, "This is as self-serving as the Medici building a Renaissance chapel in Italy, but with a little extra Silicon Valley narcissism thrown in. It’s based on the frustration of many successful rich people that life is too short: ‘We have all this money, but we only get to live a normal life span,’" and from one Dr. Rando (who is named, it's just that his name is Rando), "I’ve had a lot of meetings with young billionaires in Silicon Valley, and they all, to varying degrees, want to know when the secrets are coming out, both so they can get in on the next big thing and so they can personally take advantage of them."

Two other main themes keep popping up in the characterization of these vampire capitalist types. One is that they are dooftastic, mediocre nerdboys. Many of them are probably pretty smart in whatever type of smart let them become rich, but since I am smart in ways that are the opposite of things that let you become richsuch as, for example, literary criticism of spec ficthe one thing I get to be really smug about when reading this is just how simplistic their sci-fi inspirations are. The vague hand-waving about a Star Trek future has already been mentioned, and I'd probably want to leave it up to the many lefties who are better versed in Star Trek specifically than I am to explain how we're never going to get to a Trek-like economy, let alone develop fully automated luxury gay space communism, if we leave stuff up to Peter Thiel. (Another article in this issue does discuss
fully automated luxury diagnostics; it doesn't talk much about health insurance either, but it doesn't seem like such a big omission there.) However, there's also a lady who has commissioned a "mindclone" robot of her wife, despite the fact that we don't have the technology to do that yet; a guy who had a 3-D scan of his brain done and a model of it made, despite the fact that we're nowhere near close to bridging the gap in understanding between the physical structure of the brain and our actual consciousness so who knows if that scan will even be good when we do understand what we're looking for; and a dude who goes on for a bit about turning people into Marvel superheroes. Maris also gives a quote about genies that serves mostly to illustrate that he's never read a single goddamn story about genies, ever, in his goddamn life:

“Imagine you found a lamp on the beach, and a genie came out and granted you a wish,” Maris said. “If you were clever,
your first wish would be for unlimited wishes.” As Doerr nodded, Maris continued, “Let’s say you’re going to live, at most, another thirty years.” Doerr had just turned sixty. “If each day is a wish, that’s only between one and ten thousand wishes. I don’t know about you, but I want to add more—I want to add wishes faster than they’re taken away.”

The other thing that keeps popping up, which could theoretically be considered a subset of them being dooftastic mediocre nerds, is an utter and all-encompassing inability to grasp the concept of something not being a computer. They just cannot do it. It's most plainly stated in this anecdote right at the beginning of the article:

Joon Yun, a doctor who runs a health-care hedge fund, announced that he and his wife had given the first two million dollars toward funding the challenge. “I have the idea that aging is plastic, that it’s encoded,” he said. “If something is encoded, you can crack the code.” To growing applause, he went on, “If you can crack the code, you can hack the code!”

And from there it just keeps going. Friend reports that most of the "immortalists" come from tech backgrounds, and that most of them view aging as "entropy demolishing a machine." The CEO of one startup profiled chirpily offers that "Biotech is something a lot of V.C.s don't understand" as part of her explanation for why she's optimistic about raising her next round of venture financing.

Some of the people interviewed here do seem willing to put their copious amounts of money where their mouths are, in a literal sense, by popping a lot of experimental pills, as well as injecting themselves with stuff. I'm not really sure if I should be giving them credit for committing to their beliefs or just appalled at the self-experimentation.

I do know that I am not comfortable with any of these folks becoming my new vampire overlords.

One of the big issues with wealth inequality is the way it snowballs. Wealth is both a reward for playing the game right and a tool that helps you play the game better and acquire more wealth. The rich, despite not needing as much government help because have their own money, already 
collect $130,000 more in lifetime government benefits than poor people due to the gap in lifespan. If immortality becomes available, but inequalities in health care access remain, it's clear that only the rich will get to be immortal, and it'll only trickle down to the rest of us as much as they think is convenient to allow. I suspect that the resource-hoarding advantage the already-wealthy early adopters will have will ensure that that's not very far.
bloodygranuaile: (caligari awkward)
So, I have seen a bunch of commentary lately about the term "Mary Sue," and how it has turned into a generic term for "any female character ever who I dislike, probably because she did something or was good at something or didn't get hit by a bus on Page 1 and I think this is terribly unrealistic (because we all know that real girls are never good at anything ever), and also, I detect some hint of wish fulfillment somewhere, which is self-evidently bad."

Many people smarter than I have discussed the massive, massive problems with the first parts of this definition, including such awesome ladies as Holly Black and Seanan McGuire.

But I also want to mention something that keeps cropping up about "wish-fulfillment characters," and that is: When the flying fucksticks did "wish fulfillment" become a dirty word? Especially in FANTASY? Ask nearly goddamn anybody who reads about the stories that inspired them and stuck with them and meant something to them as children and they will, at some point, mention some aspect of the story that they wished they could have in their own lives. Using storytelling to imagine fulfilling one's various wishes is a very, very old and, apparently until quite recently, fairly well respected part of the whole stories thing.

And I know that GRIMDARK and UBER GRITTY and ALL THE READERLY PAIN is very in right now, which I adore, particularly when it is done well, but even the edgiest and grittiest and grimdarkiest of stories that you can actually manage to get through and read have at least one part that makes you go "I wish I had that!" or "I wish I could do that!" Even A Song of Ice and Fire is full of food that you want to eat until you get sick (and now you can!), and witty one-liners from Tyrion that you wish you were clever enough to have thought of, and Brienne kicking so much ass and having so much strength and discipline that you only wish you could ever be that badass except you can't even get off Tumblr and go to the gym. Wish fulfillment can work perfectly well in a story and be all sorts of fun, particularly if it's supposed to be a more or less fun or fluffy story to begin with, and especially particularly if the author's wishes that they are fulfilling are similar to yours.

If they are not similar to yours, then just don't read the book/watch the movie/cosplay the lead from the TV show. Even some kinds of stories that have literally nothing what the fuck ever at all even a little bit to them except wish fulfillment can still be deep and meaningful to the people with those particular wishes. Example: Spiderman. Spiderman has, no joke, been a very important and formative and inspiring and hopeful story to legions of awkward nerdy dudes who like science and do not feel they have enough awesome to attract their sexy lamp of choice and do not feel particularly special or like they have the power to fix any of the various things in this world that need fixing. Spiderman makes these dudes feel that they can be special and powerful and fix things and acquire their preferred female-shaped life accessory. If Spiderman is not the fulfillment to your particular wishes, however, it is possibly one of the dumbest and most vacuous stories ever told. Particularly the movie version that my ex made me watch. (Watching it caused me to actually lose a lot of respect for that particular ex. He strongly believed that he was not stupid and did not like stupid things, because only stupid people like stupid things (this ex did not really believe in fun, as you can probably tell already), therefore, everything he liked was smart and objectively good, because he was a smart person with objectively good taste. So you can imagine how surprised I was that Spiderman turned out to be the most across-the-board straight up fucking stupid movie I had seen in about ten years at that point--literally nothing about it was "good" in any way outside of the wish fulfillment. It did not have clever dialogue, or a surprising plot, or good acting, or pretty costumes, or any understanding of basic physics, or ANYTHING.) The utter lack of anything whatsoever going on with Spiderman outside of the "It would be cool to be Spiderman!" aspect has not stopped it from becoming a well-beloved classic superhero and a household name. And do you know what? THAT'S OKAY. That has always been okay.

But suddenly now it is so not okay that people aren't even bothering to argue WHY it's not okay; they just say "Wish fulfillment" and everyone gravely nods that yes, truly, that is a terrible, terrible thing that shouldn't be happening anywhere near storytelling of any kind. (I suspect the not-okayness of wish fulfillment may have something to do with the increased visibility of stories wherein it is ladies' wishes that are being fulfilled, and if our wishes are fulfilled in fiction, maybe we will want them to be fulfilled in real life next, and then we might turn into feminists or something! Quelle horreur!)

I would like to posit that there is actually only one wish that is incompatible with good storytelling, although it is, sadly, a common one: The wish that everything be easy and free of conflict.

This is a problem because conflict is the basis of all stories. Non-completely-shitty English classes will teach you this somewhere around fourth grade.

This was also one of the major problems with Mary Sues back in the day when Mary Sue was a term only used in fanfiction to describe author self-insert characters who fulfilled all of the author's wishes at once, including the one to just have a nice time farting around in the fandom-land of choice and not having to go through the stress and mess of actually having the adventures. The problem with Mary Sue wasn't that she had powers, it was that she had such awesome and outsize powers that she was able to instantly neutralize the entire plot. And while I sympathize with the wish to be able to clean shit up quickly and not spend a lot of time fighting and worrying and being miserable, that is also fucking boring to read. Back before the flood of specifically female self-inserts by young writers into largely male-populated fandoms (I am looking at you, all the LotR Tenth Walker fics) gave us reason to come up with a speshul name that implied this was some sort of ladies-only thing, this was called "immature writing" or simply "bad writing," as it is an extremely common mistake of young writers to make their heroes super awesome but their villians/plots/marine-life-filled-tornados really wimpy, so the hero beats them too easily and there is no tension and basically a weak or nonexistent plot. I have read quite a few dude-authored original fiction pieces by teens where the hero was too awesome to get or stay in enough trouble to make any kind of story, particularly in my time as a school literary magazine editor. I rejected them all for being boring.

So, as Holly Black points out, there are some major issues with applying the term "Mary Sue" to any non-fanfiction character, but if we're going to do so, I wouldn't ask "Does this character have power/talent/the ability to get out of bed in the morning without concussing herself?" or "Does this character have anything going on that would be fun to have going on myself?", but "Is this character's power so disproportionate to everything else in the universe that it cuts the plot off at the knees?" because that is basically where any of this "wish fulfillment" or "has powers" or "is special" stuff becomes a problem.

I do think the last Twilight book runs close to Mary Sue-ness not just because it's hip to bash on Twilight or even because, as [ profile] cleolinda says, Bella Swan Vampires Better Than You, but because the plot is resolved pretty much by the main characters being so awesome that their mere existence causes their enemies to stop being their enemies anymore, because nobody can resist their total awesomness, and that shit was boring. I remember when Breaking Dawn came out there was a pretty big outcry of disappointment from the fanbase because it was so anticlimactic; like, the whole book was gearing up for a big showdown, and the fight just never happened because they were too awesome for anyone to fight them, and the only reason the book was as long as it was was apparently because it takes the Volturi forever to get their immortal asses to Seattle.

In contrast, I have heard some people complain that Daine from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals Quartet is "a bit of a Mary-Sue," by which they mean that they think the rare and exceptionally strong magical powers and divine background are a bit much. However, I think this is rather bogus, because Daine is far from the only absurdly super-powered entity running around the Tortallverse. Her big antagonist through the series, Emperor Ozorne, is a well-matched adversary in terms of absurd superpoweredness: he is one of the most powerful mages in the world in his own right, AND he is the emperor of a very large and wealthy empire, meaning he has large numbers of other powerful mages at his disposal, plus money, armies, ships, etc. And he never gives up on making everybody else's lives hard. If Daine had showed up in Carthak at the beginning of Emperor Mage and just been like "Ozorne, sweetie, could you stop being a power-mad murderer and just, like, abdicate your throne to a democratic parliament and go play with your birds?" and Ozorne said "Of course! You're so amazingly persuasive, and the purity and goodness that shines out of your face has caused me to repent my villianous ways, and also I would do anything to make you happy because you've been here for thirty whole seconds and that is just more awesomeness than I can take"... well, that would be some bullshit Mary-Sue-ness. (And one of the things people forget when calling published characters Mary-Sues is that the fanfics that inspired this term REALLY WERE THAT BAD, because writing is hard, and therefore a lot of the young and inexperienced writers mucking about in fanfiction are veeeeeeeeeeery bad at it, and that is okay, in the same way that it is okay that the picture frame you made out of popsicle sticks for your mom in third grade is of inferior woodworking quality to the beautiful, useful, and sturdy dryhutch that my adult uncle with the carpentry hobby made twenty-five years ago and that I am still using as furniture.) But instead, we get two ridiculously high-powered characters who never give up on trying to defeat each other, and Ozorne keeps managing to put Daine into shitty situations that she actually has to work to get out of, like when she thinks he killed her best friend and teacher and she goes on a destructive rampage with her army of resurrected dinosaur skeletons, which, on the one hand, is conflict-ful and unpleasant for Daine because she is REALLY UPSET ABOUT NUMAIR in that scene; I hope to not have to be that upset about anything anytime soon!, but on the other hand, I challenge anyone to look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that they do not wish to be able to command an army of rampaging dinosaur skeletons.  Rampaging dinosaur skeletons ARE AWESOME, and their awesomeness should not be a complaint, unless you are straight up allergic to fun.

So I say, BRING ON THE WISH FULFILLMENT! Just don't leave out the plot while you're at it, and mix it up with plenty of readerly pain.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
If you live in Boston, you may have heard some version of this story, in which the Ben & Jerry's franchise at Harvard Square decided to make a flavor for Jeremy Lin, apparently couldn't remember anything about Jeremy Lin other than that he's Chinese-American, and decided to mix lychee and fortune cookie pieces in with plain vanilla FroYo. The initial test batch received complaints that the fortune cookie pieces were soggy, and some sort of "initial backlash" that has not been reported on in detail anywhere, meaning that it could have ranged anywhere from someone throwing a giant fit and threatening to sue, to a few people giving it a side-eye or eyerolls or disdainful glances down the nose, or any number of critical comments in between. As sometimes happens when a new product is introduced and is doing an initial run at only one location, the store responded to its customers' comments by tweaking their product--in this case, replacing the soggy fortune cookie pieces with waffle cone.


Duuuuuuuuuuuudes. If Ben & Jerry's does not want to be even a little bit questionably racist, they are perfectly allowed to realize when they are being a little bit questionably racist by accident and quietly knock it off. You do not have to have massively and irredeemably pissed off every single Chinese person ever so badly that they'll never talk to you again in order to decide that maybe you should not always keep doing exactly what you're doing.

The original flavor may not have been particularly malicious, but it was definitely the sort of thing where you can, in the manner of Yo, Is This Racist?, imagine the creative session where this was greenlit:

"We have to make a flavor for Jeremy Lin!"
"Who's Jeremy Lin?"
"A famous Chinese dude."
"What Chinese foods would work in ice cream?"
"Er... lychee?"
"Good! What else?"
"Fortune cookies?"
"Excellent! Throw it in the FroYo and put it in a carton."


Is this malicious and motivated by intense hatred of Chinese people? No. Do you know what it is? LAZY. Way motherfucking lazy. It's lazy, half-assed, lazy, ill-thought-out, lazy, slapdash, and lazy. Do you know what you call it when you get as far as someone's ethnicity and are then too lazy to continue putting in thought or effort into what you're doing?

motha fuckin RACISM

The fact that they didn't seem to actually test whether the foods they're putting together ACTUALLY went well together or just sounded good also highlights how little thought went into the whole process, which does make the whole thing come off as more racist than if the product had turned out actually meet the same level of quality we expect from Ben & Jerry's. And it makes it particularly irritating that one of the more frequent responses I've heard to this is a sort of knee-jerk "That sounds delicious!" Yeah, it does sound delicious, off the bat; this is likely part of why they decided to put in the ice cream instead of, like, sweet and sour sauce. However, it would appear that it did not turn out to actually be all that delicious in actuality (and if they'd given it a second thought instead of moving right from "sounds good off the bat" to "serve it to people in actuality," it might have occurred to someone that fortune cookies are an extremely porous baked good and get soggy if you look at them sadly, and that ice cream starts to melt immediately at the temperatures you generally eat it). Businesses do not survive by refusing to fix problems with their products and digging their heels in going "Nuh uh, it totally SOUNDS fine, so it IS fine."

Also, even if you still think that something being lazy and stupid in regards to race is totally not the same thing as being racist, because it's not mean, it's just lazy and stupid, guess what: Lazy and stupid are not virtues. You should not strive for them. You should not be focused on how much lazy and stupid you can get away with before it becomes racist/sexist/whatever; you should be trying to be as not-lazy and not-stupid as you can be, and if someone points out that something you're doing is lazy and stupid, that is also a valid criticism and you should respond to it, even if it's got nothing to do with racism whatsoever. And while lazy shit might fly in some spaces, I see absolutely no idea why Harvard Square should be expected to be one of them. It's Harvard Square. Boston as a city is packed solid with more higher education than any one city should be expected to support, and Harvard is supposedly the most prestigious, elite private college in the country. I would be completely unsurprised if the most common form of negative feedback on the flavor was that it was so boring and obvious. Because that is the thing about stereotypes--in addition to being offensive, they are tedious. Tediousness is also a bad thing that people are allowed to not like, and to refrain from showering you with compliments on your cleverness for, and even to complain about, if they think listening to themselves complain will at least be more interesting.

None of this shit makes anybody the mythical PC police. But the anti-PC police are out in full force, Yahoo Sports being one of he worst offenders (sorry, not linking). Sadly, this includes Voltaire, who I follow on Facebook in order to keep up on wacky, dark, and whimsical things, but who, it appears, is still a middle-aged white guy. (How's that for not being PC?) Apparently, some people think that if they are not allowed to rely on boring-ass stereotypes, they will have nothing to say, because actually thinking about what you're saying and trying to come up with original and accurate ways to express your ideas (not to mention coming up with your own damn ideas) is the antithesis of creativity.

Some people are "tired of PC culture". Do you know what I'm tired of? White guys complaining about how totally oversensitive everyone else is. I am tired of anti-PC culture, like being expected to think about what you say or do or what words mean before you open you mouth is just so hard, those women and minorities and immigrants and people with disabilities just don't know how hard it is. I am tired of people who think that any action you take to be a little more considerate of other people, no matter how small, means that you are "caving" and "making a big deal" (again: small deals. They exist. If you do not understand this, you should withdraw from having opinions until you develop the ability to think with nuance) and blah blah blah. I am tired of listening to people go on long 'splainy rants about how that wasn't really racist or sexist or homophobic, they didn't mean "gay" like that, etc. I am tired of people claiming that supporting the status quo and being racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and basically disrespectful of other people is now the brave, embattled, noble minority position. I am tired of being very, very, very, seriously and painfully aware that most of the people I know are assholes, most of the people I have ever been friends with or loved are assholes, most of my family is assholes, most artists whose work I have admired are assholes, and that realizing this makes me more like them--smug and self-congratulatory about how much better I am than everybody else.

I am tired of assholes who think that intent is fucking magic and I am tired of striking the terrible bargain and I am tired of being tired of people.

I am twenty-four years old and I am already thoroughly sick of this shit.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
Having two jobs is getting old. I am getting a little tired of spending my Friday nights being all like "Woo, out of the office for the weekend! Now I can work from home!"

Add to this that my contract is almost up, and my life is basically "Do job #1, do job #2, job-hunt."

At which point my work ethic goes YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, LADY and I just want to nap. And play Castleville.

Also, guess how much time this leaves for writing, which is what I actually want to be doing with my life? If you guessed "basically none," you are correct.

*has small pity party*

Alright, back to work.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
Actually, if I develop an ulcer, I'm pretty sure we can expect my health insurance to evaporate on the very same day.

Yesterday, my purse was stolen when I was having breakfast at Quincy Market, because I am a dumbass. I called to cancel all of my debit and credit cards, and then, as we were just about to get me a replacement cell phone, an awesome bus driver called my Mom's phone and told us that she'd found it. So I got my purse back! Mom gave me some cash to cover me for the next week until I get all my replacement cards.

Here is where the "I am going to have an ulcer thing" comes in:
1. BoA (yes, I still have accounts with BoA, I am a bad person; I am working on it) is mailing my cards to my Jersey address, and then mom will forward them to me. This will take additional time, as well as opening us up to the possibility that they will get lost during one of their trips through the postal system.
2. My card for ING Direct checking is being mailed to me here at my Boston address, and I have so far had very little luck actually receiving mail at my Boston address.
3. For example, the clothes I ordered from piratemod on September 19 have still not arrived.
4. Just for extra aggravation, I cannot get in touch with piratemod to get the tracking number for my package so I can actually follow up with the post office on it. I had to file a sort of general complaint for a general inquiry into my mail.
5. Boston USPS also sucks at sending my mail, too. About a month ago I got a ticket; I immediately mailed a check to the parking clerk. Today I got a notice from the parking clerk saying that the payment was overdue and I would be charged extra. I cannot contact the parking clerk to ask how to deal with this situation until Monday so I will instead be sitting around for two days going GOD DAMMIT WHY CAN THESE ASSHOLES NOT GET A LETTER DOWN THE STREET NO WONDER THEY ARE GOING BANKRUPT D:< D:< D:<

So, basically, if it involves money or shipping something, it will not work. This is a bad pattern when I am supposedly having three debit/credit cards mailed to me all at the same time.

If anyone wishes to take bets on how long it will be before I have any method of accessing money at my disposal, I will put my bet on "over six weeks," but I will be betting lemon drops instead of money, since I can actually get to my stash of lemon drops.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
How is it this weekend already? Last weekend, I had an epic weekend, and was all like "I should definitely write about my epic weekend so I don't forget about it," and boom, now it's THIS weekend already. Wow.

Anyway. Last Friday, I went out to Worcester, rather late in the evening, where I watched the second half of Mirrormask at Josh & Keen & co's apartment, which is the one right above Bones & Flowers, the awesome pink occult shop. Then I slept over at Liz and Emily's apartment. Spider, a.k.a. Captain Underfoot, did not seem to care. Saturday morning, Liz and Josh and I got up early (like, same-time-as-we-get-up-during-the-week early) to don our garb. I was thrilled for an excuse to wear my Bride of Dracula nightgown again, and my beautiful red leather corset with the Kevlar panel, and all my other fun stuff that I have spent a somewhat unjustifiable amount of money on over the years considering how little of it I can wear on a regular basis. (In high school, this sometimes didn't stop me wearing it anyway, but alas, I am a grown-up now with a strict Business Casual dress code most of the time.) I also had what was intended to be a medieval-timesy sort of manicure:

Apologies if it is le blurry; it's an iPhone pic.

We did the fun ritual of going to a normal people establishment for breakfast and getting funny looks, then Liz got in her Cube and Josh and I got in the Black Pearl (I let Josh drive because I still hate having passengers for long rides) and we drove to Ansonia, Connecticut, of all places. My dad's family is from that Valley. Some of the family still lives in that Valley, namely, the ones I haven't spoken to in the longest. So I was all like "Ahhh I'm weirded out" because of voluntarily spending time in southern Connecticut, and then we found out that Liz was also going all "Ahhh I'm weirded out" because she used to perform at the other Ren Faire (that has since closed, but was trying to shut down Midsummer Fantasy anyway, and whoa is THAT a funny story) that used to be at Warsaw Park, when she was part of Phoenix Swords like eight years ago.

Pat let us in for free, since it is his Ren Faire and he can do that, so that was pretty awesome. And then pretty much the first thing that happened when we got inside the Faire was that I ran into Jacques ze Whippeur, whom I have not seen since we were in high school. Then we looked at all the shiny things the vendors were selling and starting spending unconscionable amounts of money, and ate unhealthy Faire food, and watched some (generally bawdy) performances, and were huge dorks, and general Ren Faire stuff. Jack's whip act has gotten a lot more sophisticated since MHS' talent show; it now involves fire. A bunch of other acts involved fire, too, and after the day Faire was over, all the fire-related acts got together and put on an evening show, which was an Improvisational Fire Show, which is one of the most unsafe things I have witnessed people do on stage (er, on chessboard?) in my life, but was also ten different kinds of AWESOME. (I counted.) Sadly, Liz had to leave before the improv fire show, but not before buying a chainmail thingy that goes around the shoulders but isn't a hauberk or a cowl (I can't remember the term). Josh bought a red-and-black leather pauldron with gorgeous ornate steel studding. Pat bought badass bracers from Lusty Leather, which is apparently his first step towards having real garb, which is weird since he owns a damn Renaissance Faire (which means he gets DISCOUNTS, the bastard). I bought... oh my goddess, I decided I wasn't going to buy any more articles of clothing, so I didn't; I just bought an ungodly amount of accessories--black and red, leather and iron, lots of skull patterns. A black and red leather beltpouch with skull-and-crossbones embossed into the leather. A Viking-style iron dragon ring and an iron dragon hairpiece to match my iron Thorshamar from Sweden (I also had a really awesome conversation with the blacksmith about Thorshamars [Thorshamaren?] and blacksmithing). A black-and-red-beribboned steel tiara with a skull pendant on it (to match my silver hair twist from the last Faire I went to). A boot dagger, now that I am a grown-up and no longer prohibited from spending my own money on pointy things. Between buying unnecessary shinies, food & drink, and tipping the entertainers (I tip generously to anyone willing to set themselves on fire for my amusement), I must have spent nearly two hundred dollars on Saturday. (I figure I can afford to do that... uhh... once every year or three.)

Speaking of drinks, I learned a new recipe at the pub. It's called a Beesting, and it's a shot of mead dropped in a glass of cider. It is hardcore delicious.

But perhaps the highlight of the day was the Crime & Punishment show, where I was accused of singing off-key and informed that I was to be put in the Iron Maiden until I confessed. The dungeonmaster (I honest to gods almost just wrote "dungeon maester") helpfully decided to show me how to properly get into the Iron Maiden by making the Sheriff demonstrate. Once the Sheriff was strapped down onto the one bed of nails and the other was laid on top of him, I was made to stand on top of the lot, so that I could understand exactly what was going to happen to me, but at that point the Sheriff retracted his accusation. (I suspect they picked me for this demonstration because I was one of the smaller people in the audience at that time. Sadly, I am still underweight, despite attempting to bulk up. The pictures Josh took at the Faire actually kind of worry me; I cannot tell if I have actually gotten that waifish or if the effect is exaggerated because Faire garb is so bulky, but I look like a twelve-year-old boy in my corset, and it's supposed to be a powerful corset.)

Anyway, here is an awesome picture of me standing on a dude in a portable Iron Maiden:

Yeah, so that was awesome.

Sunday I spent most of the afternoon proofreading, because I had taken work home due to the holiday, but it was actually pretty awesome, because I went down to the coffeeshop my new roomie Ellen works at and worked there while drinking chai lattes and feeling like a pretty hip artsy sort of hourly wage slave/pedantic punctuation minion, in my long black dress and iron jewelry. (I now feel compelled to wear ALL my iron jewelry ALL the time, because IRON JEWELRY.)

Monday was the 4th of July! I went back to Ellen's coffeeshop, where I actually got several pages of writing done for the story Liz and I outlined a while back, so that was productive. Then I hung out with a bunch of Ellen's friends and we ate hot dogs and drank gin and tonic before heading down to the river to see fireworks. We founds a good spot on a footbridge under the main bridge over the river by BU (sorry for the preposition overload). The rest of the group eventually split to try and find a better spot, but it's damn crowded by the river in Boston on the 4th of July before fireworks, so Ellen and I stayed where we were a drank more gin and tonic out of the tonic bottle ('cos we're classy). Fireworks didn't start til a ridiculously late 10:30 (what. the. HELL, Boston), so we ended up only staying for like the first twenty minutes, because tired and work in the morning.

Then it was back to regular work week. This week is apparently the busiest week of the year for real this time (as opposed to two weeks ago, which was also supposed to be the busiest week of the year), which is fine with me, because that means they bribe us to work overtime by giving us dinner.

I did do a very stupid thing this week, though: I ventured back onto the Internet long enough to learn that a large proportion of Like Totally Super Smart Rational Better-Than-Everybody Atheist Dudes (including, sadly, Richard Dawkins) cannot for the life of them figure out what could POSSIBLY be at all creepy or disrespectful about ignoring a woman for several hours of designated social time in a social space, waiting until she says that she is done socializing and is going to bed now, and then cornering her in a small windowless room whose doors only open at certain intervals at four in the morning and asking her back to your room for coffee. Seriously, what ISN'T creepy and disrespectful about that? Even if by coffee he actually meant coffee--can you simultaneously go back to your own hotel room and somebody else's? No. Can you simultaneously go to sleep and drink coffee? No. Ergo, SHE ALREADY ANSWERED THE QUESTION. People who continue to ask questions AFTER you've answered them are generally not my top choice of people to hold conversations with, since "able to follow speech" is my number one requirement for conversing, and I do not think I am alone in this. Anyway, apparently pointing out that this is not the #1 guaranteed Most Effective Strategy Ever for getting more girls to voluntarily decide to expend time, effort and money to attend your parties is HUGELY MEAN AND OPPRESSIVE AND IF I WANTED TO BE TOLD HOW TO TALK TO WOMEN I'D MOVE TO IRAN. (No, someone actually said that.) Like, dudes, pick a goal and stick with it. You have every legal right to be a raging douchebag. However, good fucking luck attracting anybody to your movement with "Atheism: It's Not Iran" as your fucking sales pitch. I grew up in the Catholic Church, which is one fucked-up institution, but it's not Iran EITHER. In fact, everyone who lives in the US is already living not-in-Iran! Richard Dawkins pulled some whiny "why-are-you-talking-about-X-when-Y-is-happening" concern troll move (and by the way, Mr. Super Brilliant Scientist, she was talking about this because THAT IS WHAT THEY ASKED HER TO TALK ABOUT, go bitch at the panel booker if you think it's not an appropriate topic) about how Western women should just shut up and be grateful--and, presumably, expend time and effort and energy and money actively physically attending atheist conferences and supporting the movement, since THAT WAS THE FUCKING TOPIC--because women in other countries have to suffer FGM. Of course, by that logic, I should ALSO shut up and be grateful and make sure I get my ass to Mass every single Sunday and donate to the collection plate at Church, because after all, the Catholic Church only told me I couldn't hold their most important job because I was a girl, they didn't actually mutilate me, which is the only thing that counts. But somehow, I do not think that is what Dawkins was advising me to do. Seriously, sometimes I wish I didn't have the Internet just so I didn't get sucked into hearing about this shit. (On the other hand, the Internet also provided me welcome brain and faith-in-humanity relief in the form of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, which involves actual rationality and not just semimystical intonations of "SCIENCE! RATIONAL! BIOLOGY! GENETICS! EVOLUTION! SSSSSCCCCCCCIIIIIIIEEEEEEENNNNNNNCCCCCCCCCCCCCEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" like they're magic argument-winning incantations that will strike your enemies dumb and allow you to control their minds. If it doesn't work, chant louder!)


This weekend, I am going to relax and not spend hundred of dollars. My goals for this weekend are to get at least halfway through rereading A Feast for Crows, to go to the gym, and possibly to get some writing done.
bloodygranuaile: (fuck you and the volvo)
Cash Flow: the name for the fact that if you have $1000 starting cash in your checking account, $2000 in savings, $3000 in income, $4000 in your PayPal account, a $5000 tax refund, $10000000000000000 from any other source in the world... and $1001 in expenditures, you WILL be desperately scrounging around under your couch cushions for loose change and hoping you can get to the bank early enough tomorrow morning, because otherwise you WILL overdraw and get hit with overdraft fees. Because while you have to pay your bills promptly (and perhaps automatically), any incoming money can just take its sweet-ass time.

Am extra annoyed because part of my extreme cash flow crunch right now is because I had to pay sales tax and registration fees on my car TWICE. I paid the dealer in NJ because in NJ they take care of that for you. Exactly nine days into the ten-day registration window for MA, I was told that they couldn't do it and I had to go to the DMV to do registration and pay the sales tax myself. Dealer said they would refund my fees. Well, I went to the DMV on Monday, and MassDOT has cashed the check I wrote them, and my check from the NJ dealer hasn't arrived yet.

What's got me worried is that my $10 for Netflix bills automatically tomorrow. If I don't deposit literally like five dollars into checking tomorrow before that bill arrives, then my rent check will bounce should my landlord decide to actually cash it before I get either my paycheck, my refund from Nissan, or my Elance payment. Since it has been almost two weeks since I actually wrote that check, it is conceivable he may cash it soon. Transfers from savings take 2 business days, timesheets at work get submitted tomorrow but I think they send you the actual check through the mail, transfers from Elance to PayPal take two business days, and transfers from PayPal to BOA take four business days, and also tomorrow is Friday. So while I should be able to to do the five dollars because I have that much in cash in my wallet, I can't avoid getting absolutely down to the wire until at least the middle of next week.

I don't want to be complaining, because I've been in worse spots and I know a lot of other people are in worse spots--I'm fully employed at a fairly generous wage, plus the side job; I was merely underemployed and for only about six weeks before that. I have money in savings. I am doing pretty well overall, it's just that what I have immediately ACCESSIBLE is less than what I need to be immediately accessible and I don't want to pay forty dollars in overdraft to those tax-evading vampires at BOA because the Nissan dealership is too unprofessional to take a look at their out-of-state registration policies before billing me for them. BOA paid no taxes on $4.4 billion in profits last year; they can leave me my $40 so I can keep futilely trying to pay off my student loans. (I think the Dept. of Ed. actually does not actually want my money, just to ruin my credit. Otherwise they would not make it so difficult to give them money. Also, I will never forgive them for unconsolidating my previously consolidated loans and thus tripling my monthly payment. Payments, plural, now. One of which cannot be done online, but has a website anyway just to waste your time trying to register.)

Also, I am still looking for housing for the summer. I need it to be less than $600/month and I need to be able to get into the Back Bay neighborhood in Boston via public transit in under an hour. That is all. When I get this squared away I will be much less stressed. If anyone knows of anything that fits that criteria, please let me know; Craigslist is a madhouse right now. Also when I get this sorted out I can stop spending the precious few hours I have in the evening looking for housing and can do some of my Elance assignments, so I don't have to spend all weekend doing it.

Blargh. I'm sorry I'm so stressed and angry and whiny, but I have been stressed all week, and when I started this week I thought "I only need to be stressed through this week!" and I assumed that by the end of the week, either the housing or at least one form of income would have gone through. But I end the week basically the same as I started it, except with even less cash on hand. So that is frustrating. And I haaaaate living on credit, but I did need to eat and buy train tickets this week.

*stresses and is frustrated*

In good news: I like my job! And they are test running free wi-fi on the commuter trains, so tomorrow I will experiment with bringing my netbook and seeing if I can't do some of my househunting or book-reviewing during the three hours a day I'm spending on trains these days. Because that would be awesome.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
So, some of you may remember that my junior year (two years ago), I got into a ridiculous car accident the day before Thanksgiving. You may also remember that last year, I got into a slightly less ridiculous car wreck the day after Thanksgiving, and had a parking ticket waiting for me in Worcester when I got back.

This year, Thanksgiving week is ALSO sucking hardcore re: cars.

I stayed at Anders' place Sunday night after the Blind Guardian concert (WHICH WAS AWESOME), and parked on the street because that is what I usually have to do in Worcester, despite the frequency with which cars on the streets get stolen and/or vandalized. Monday morning I went to my car to go to work and discovered that the passenger-side window had been smashed in, and my GPS had been stolen. (I tended to 'hide' it by putting it on the floor as under the seat or as far under the dashboard and I could fit it; it didn't fit in my glove compartment because the TomTom was taped to its bulky dashboard mount, because the suction didn't work properly, because nothing in my life ever works quite 100% correctly. And usually I deal and just duct tape shit together and am like WHATEVER, SEE, I AM A CHILL PERSON WHO IS NOT BENT OUT OF SHAPE BY DUMB LITTLE THINGS, and then something like this happens, and then every minor thing that goes wrong makes me go all OH NO SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS GOING TO HAPPEN I AM SO STRESSED I CANNOT DEAL and then I cry, for like MONTHS, until I just can't be that stressed anymore and go back to duct-taping stuff. But I digress.)

My first mistake in dealing with this was in calling AAA and having them tow it to the Chevy dealer down the street, on the basis that since I have a Chevy and they fix Chevies, they could fix my car. Turns out they do not do auto glass. They recommended me to a company who does do auto glass, but did not have my window and would not have had it in stock for at least another day, which was not good as I had to go to work. This company did not offer to collision-tape the window so I could use it in the meantime. Googled "auto glass massachusetts" and made twenty phone calls in one hour (I counted) and managed to find a JN Phillips in Worcester that had my window and could get it out to me that day and called my insurance to cancel the overnight order from the other company. They said they would have someone out to me by 2h00 or 2h30 at the latest.

JN Phillips dude showed up at 3h30 or 4 and informed me that he could not put in the windowpane because the window motor was broken. Talked to Diamond Chevy dude who said he could order the window motor and it would get here on Friday. I was not happy but need my window fixed, so I ordered it for what, according to the Internets, appears to be three to five times the parts' actual price. Also, the invoice that I have because I had to prepay because it was a "special order" says I bought a window regulator. I do not know what that means but the Internet tells me the motor and the regulator are different.

Anyway, JN Phillips dude told me he would call in another JN Phillips dude to collision-wrap the window so I could go to work the next day, and that that would take about an hour and he would call me as soon as it was done. Did not get phone call. When I called them back, they told me the collision wrap was done (yay) and had in fact been done a ten-fifteen that morning (uhh... what?). By this time, the Chevy dealer was closed, and the otherwise totally unprotected outdoor parking lot was blockaded off by large shiny Suburbans, which seem like a nice target for Worcester carjackers, and do nothing to protect the cars in the lot from anyone willing to do damage to the cars, but did prevent me from taking my car that I had not in fact had any work done on so I could get to work on TIME the next morning. So I was late.

Today, I went to the auto shop in Bedford for an oil change and to have the leak in my car looked at, which I was originally going to do Monday. Leak turned out to be a rotted fuel tank, so replacing that was expensive, but is now done. They also looked at the window, determined the problem was the power switch (which the Internet tells me is different from a window motor OR regulator), and replaced that for less than half the price of the motor-or-regulator that I bought. So there are two possible scenarios here:

1. JN Phillips will NOT be able to replace my glass on Monday because the switch AND the motor-or-regulator were fucked up, and I will have to pay to get the damn motor-or-regulator installed, and go at least another day with loud plastic sheeting where my window should be, OR
2. JN Phillips WILL be able to replace my glass on Monday, meaning only the switch was fucked up, and the expensive special order motor-or-regulator is THE WRONG PART, which will make me wonder if they even actually LOOKED at the window or just listened to what the GLASS technician said, and I will have to do my best to be assertive and demand a refund even though they don't do refunds for special orders (that sounds like a good reason to not ever keep anything in stock so EVERYTHING becomes a special order AND you don't have to pay for storage! that should be fucking illegal!) on the basis that the part was sold to be under false pretenses; ie, that it was the part I needed to fix my window, even though it was not.

I am having trouble deciding which one of these scenarios would piss me off more.

And if I cannot get the part refunded, it is looking like I'll probably be able to sell it online for like... a QUARTER of what I got it for. Fuck you, Diamond Chevrolet. I will not be going back to you ever again, unless every other car shop in Massachusetts simultaneously explodes.

So now I get to drive to NJ tomorrow with no window, risk the Black Friday sales to try and get a new GPS at a price I can afford after having spent more than I made this pay period on my crappy old car, drive back with no window, and try not to spend another unnecessary cent for at least the rest of 2010.

Also, I seem to be coming down with a cough, which is part of why I am up and ljing angrily at midnight when I have to get up at 6h45 tomorrow - I went to bed three hours ago and I kept waking myself up.

Anyway, back to bed to hope it goes away by morning. If I actually get sick tomorrow I am going to have to punch something.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
Swiss decide not to extradite child rapist and fugitive from justice Roman Polanski after all

If you're not mad enough already, I invite you to take note that this article is filed under "arts and entertainment." See, Roman Polanski makes movies, and because movies are so much more all-fired important than anything else evar, when he drugs and rapes a child and then flees the country after getting a lighter sentence for it than Lindsay Lohan is getting for parole violation (IIRC, his sentence was no prison time and 90 days of counseling), it's still somehow all about the movies. Because MOVIES! Movies movies movies! Movies exist, so the people involved with them are then somehow suspended from ever relating to the real world in a way not about movies. Also, if Roman Polanski were ever punished for drugging and raping a thirteen year old girl, this would retroactively cause all his movies to stop existing. Which would obviously be a fate worse than death for the whole world, and certainly a fate worse than being drugged and raped.


...And I say this as someone who really likes movies, and who even likes some Roman Polanki movies. But do you know what I hate even more than I like movies? Child rapists.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
This is a tripartite post!

Part the First: Stuff that is not actually happening in my life

This means this part of the post is about television.

Season 3 of Dexter was exponentially better than season 2, because Lila wasn't in it, also because Deb's taste in men gets somewhat better with each season (season 3 dude is a drug dealer, but is not a serial killer, or older than her dad, and she doesn't throw over anyone who is actually awesome to be with him). Despite the OMG Pregnancy And Marriage subplot, this season is not about le awesome power of romantic love, and is only about as much about le fucking-you-up power of family, but is very much a Power of Friendship season, which is a type of relationship that has really not had much show time in Dexter so far. Of course, Dexter's BFF winds up being just as frakked up as he is, but cuddly new cupcake-wielding LaGuerta definitely showcases the positive transformative power of having cuddly cupcake-wielding bestest friendses. Rita still awesome, in her soft-spoken cute-little-mommy way, and handles falling headfirst into A Pregnancy Plotline with maturity and grace. I give this season an A for massive personal growth on the part of everyone who doesn't die.

Dollhouse: I don't wanna spoil things for people who haven't seen this week's yet, or who did not know season 2 had started because Fox sucks and seems to be allergic to actually advertising the damn show, but: I think Joss Whedon is a Man on a Mission to get every single cast member of Battlestar Galactica on the show. Tahmoh Penikett's been on it since the beginning, obvs, and the weird cockney lawyer dude was on it sometime in season 1, and then Jamie Bamber was on last week, and this week has another Special BSG Guest. Here's to hoping Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff show up soon!

Also: last week's Dollhouse and this week's Castle totally both used the word "frenemies." Which I had previously heard, like, once, several years ago.

Castle: Last week's fantastic. Really exciting for the upcoming week's. This week was about models, but it was an episode of Castle, which means it'd be fabulous if it were any other cop show and I was thoroughly entertained by watching it, but the moment the mystery was solved I stopped caring about the main plot. Hopefully they won't subject us to multiple "because so-and-so was/I thought (s)he was cheating on me"-motivated murders in a row again, like the beginning of season 1, because even as non-predictable as those plots manage to be when they're still unfolding (this is Castle, after all) they always leave me feeling like That Was Totally Unoriginal, Sheesh.

On the movie front: Today I watched Soylent Green. Some bits of it were surprisingly good, especially compared with how bad some other bits of it were. Overall it was better than I expected.

Unfortunately I am not having much time for reading outside of school. Northanger Abbey awesome, as Austen usually is. Am about halfway through A Long Fatal Love Chase (the NEW Louisa May Alcott book!) and so far it is a hell of a lot better than the front or back covers would have you believe.

Part the Second: In Which I Annoy Everyone I've Ever Met By Being Really Cranky

Mega uber super crackdown on club sports procedure and paperwork this year. Like, they used to be like "handing in your med forms is nice, and here's the deadline for financial stuff" but now they have gotten utterly fascist about it. All forms must be in by Tuesday or they freeze the club! They are sending people to observe us, so that if anything is being done not by the book they will freeze the club! Tuesday we are still on motherfucking break, but the forms still need to be in by five o'clock or they will freeze the club! Grad students cannot practice with us, or they will freeze the club! I asked, what about the loopholes to the grad students policy me and Shay and Shihan discussed with Mike McKenna last year? If we jump through those hoops, can they stay? No answer. I asked, if people want to join and get me their health forms after Tuesday, can they still do that, since karate club often has people join at weird times in the semester? I was told... get all your forms in by Tuesday or we freeze the club! So I'm not sure if that's a yes or a no, but apparently it is very threatening to ask them complicated questions so they needed to threaten me back. Aaargh.

Part the Third: Why I Should Totes Not Be Writing This Entry

It is the holiday weekend and I have a ten-page novel synopsis due next Friday and I had very little plot development in my head, just the premise and ending. So now I am home, in a nice empty house (mom is out of town til tomorrow evening), so that I can actually figure out what the frak happens in my story.

I spent all of today worldbuilding, and outlining my plot mountain (yes, I plan stuff in on a visual of that 'plot mountain' shape they teach you about in sixth grade), and wrote the first page or so of the actual synopsis, in addition to going to the gym and drinking wine (Gnarly Head is on sale at Gary's, whee) and hunting centipedes (ew) and a few other things that were not actually writing. Oops. But I did get some stuff done.

Tomorrow needs to be more productive, though, so I's going to bed now.

bloodygranuaile: (Default)
I officially take back any complaints I may have had, no matter how minor, about the first three books we read in 19th Century British Novel. I take back being ~so annoyed and disappointed~ in Austen for Captain Wentworth's "superfine, extraordinary sort of gallantry" NiceGuy rant about how women had no right to be comfortable on ships and should never travel on them. I take back any whinging about how utterly confusing the beginning of Wuthering Heights is or how catty all the women are or how god damn dumb its narrator is. I take back any complaints of Mr Rochester really being kind of a twat and Jane wanting St. John's approval and the ending being ridiculously sappy to the point of creepy in Jane Eyre.

Because now we are getting into the Victorian novels written by men, and if Wilkie Collins is any indication of the normal way women were written about in the nineteenth century, then it really is pretty damn impressive that anybody wrote anything involving female characters as being kind of people-like at all. I'm about fifty pages into The Woman in White and good God, if this man doesn't stop with the sexist attempts at "characterization" and give us a really good PLOT to work with by the end of this chapter, I am going to go positively apoplectic.

The first and least surprising issue is the narrator's own views towards women. I am not even going to start being bothered by his excessively lengthy descriptions of what they look like; Victorian writers give unnecessarily lengthy descriptions of everything. That these descriptions do tend to be somewhat longer than the lengthy descriptions of men, and focus much more explicitly on deeming each trait "beautiful" or not, whereas a judgment on the aesthetic pleasingness of men's features is only passed for about half the details given, is something I am rather inured to at this point, and it cannot possibly bug me more on feminist grounds than on simply stylistic ones (the rules for writing a paid-by-the-word Victorian serial novel are almost exactly antithetical to modern rules for fiction writing). What bugs me is the actual standard of beauty for women. Austen, while still using beauty as a "positive" trait for her heroines in a way that is problematically lookist, at least tends to define her "beautiful" women as being "healthy," "athletic," or "fresh" looking, with countenances "lively," "thoughtful," "capable of expression," "intelligent," or some other actual positive quality, when personality is supposed to be shown in appearance. Wilkie Collins' first and foremost standard of female beauty is "those feminine attractions of gentleness and pliability, without which the beauty of the handsomest woman alive is beauty incomplete" (32).

I'm still waiting for the novel in which "pliability" is considered a positive attribute in a man. When dealing with people we expect to be fully fuctioning autonomous human beings--in the Victorian period, this meant "men"--we call it wussiness. So, yeah: it's a woman's most important job to be ~pretty~, which is problematic enough, and then a woman's prettiness hangs necessarily on it being immediately visible that she is easily controlled. And that is Why The Victorians Sucked At Life, Hardcore, Exhibit A.

Oh, and then there's Mrs. Vesey, who is not pretty, but is "the personification of human composure and female amiability", in that she does nothing but sit, sleep, and smile, and cannot so much as decide what cut of meat she wants at lunch.

Exhibit B: Actually, exhibit B might just be really bad writing on Collins' part, I wouldn't be surprised if other Victorian writers were somewhat more aware of the fact that women could read. I mean, women did a very large portion of the novel-reading in Victorian society, which is why the novel was looked down upon as an inferior form of literature, and is also why there was always such Scandalized Outrage whenever a novel printed something mildly challenging to the status quo, because everyone knew that Impressionable Females would read it. Except, apparently, Wilkie Collins, who apparently believes that only men can read. Straight men and lesbians, at the most generous, but frankly, if he didn't realize women read novels, which actually was talked about at the time, I'd be rather surprised if he realized that some people aren't heterosexual, which was not. At any rate, after a two-page description of how hawt Miss Fairlie is (get it? FAIR-lie? Because she's the most beautiful pliable angel fairy cupcake darling ever?), he tries to describe her effect on him, saying: "Think of her as you thought of the first woman who quickened the pulses within you that the rest of her sex had no art to stir." Or, in modern parlance, the first time you saw a really hot chick and did not just recognize intellectually that she was supposed to be attractive, but were like, DAMN, that chick is REALLY HAWT. Except that a huge chunk of his readership probably never thought that chicks were really hawt, or at least not the definition of "thought" that means "felt," with quickening pulses and all that.

Exhibit C irks me the most because I had high hopes for the character the first couple lines she was introduced. Exhibit C is Marian Halcombe, that most pernicious blight upon womankind, even more so than merely stupid wussy girls: the Misogynistic Woman.

The first thing we learn about Marian Halcombe is that she has a very attractive figure and does not wear corsets, and the text likes that she doesn't wear corsets, and I was kind of hoping we would be going in the direction of a positive, non-conventional sort of female character. The second thing we learn about Marian Halcombe is that her face is very ugly, which is actually kind of cool, since this didn't seem at first to compromise the text's sort of vague setup that we might still like her. She has "piercing, resolute" eyes and a "bright, frank, intelligent" expression, all of which I figured were good qualities shining through the moustache & such, and while her ugliness is supposedly exacerbated by the lack of "gentleness and pliability", she is still described in mostly positive terms--such as a "self-reliance" in manner--and the narrator seems to think that these are, indeed, positive terms. In fact, the narrator likes Marian Halcombe very much.

Unfortunately, I don't, because the moment she opens her mouth, she outdoes the narrator is sexist drivel. She starts off by criticizing her sister for having the "essentially feminine malady" of a headache, and chatters on through:
-"How can you expect four women to dine together alone every day, and not quarrel? We are such fools, we can't entertain each other at table."
-"You see I don't think much of my own sex, Mr. Hartright... no woman does think much of her own sex"
-"I will... do all a woman can (which is very little, by-the-by) to hold my tongue."
(All of the above comments occur on ONE PAGE.)
-"...and I am inaccurate, as women usually, are in calling Mr. Fairlie my uncle..."
-"Women can't draw--their minds are too flighty, and their eyes are too inattentive."
-"...I can match you at chess, ecartes, backgammon, and (with the inevitable female drawbacks) even at billiards as well."

That's all in the next two pages. I admit I am curious as to what the "inevitable female drawback" is at playing billiards. The only thing I could think of would be difficulty bending over a billiard table and breathing at the same time as a result of wearing corsets, but Marian doesn't wear corsets.

Now, the average Victorian woman didn't have whole lot to recommend herself in terms of being not wussy and useless, especially among the leisure classes. But Marian does not seem to be making the Mary Wollstonecraft argument that "Women are stupid, because we make them stupid." She just seems to be saying that women are "inevitably" stupid, foolish, and incapable of doing anything, even playing freaking billiards or having a dinner conversation. I am still waiting for the qualifying statement that "we are raised..." or "we are allowed/not allowed/taught/not taught..." to be this way, and until it happens, I am staunchly disliking Marian Halcombe.

I have a lot of female friends that have issues with, y'know, most other women as they wind up. The closest friends I've had in life, consistently, have been girls who are most used to being friends with guys, and the next closest 'level' of friends have been predominantly male since I hit my teenage years. I'm entirely used to hearing women bash "girls" for a particular normative conception of girls-as-they-wind-up, specifically "what we wind up running into a lot," generally with a very clear understanding that girls don't HAVE to be that way, because the girl-that-doesn't-play-well-with-other-girls has managed to not turn out that way. We are generally lamenting the widespread habit of many girls to wind up the way they have been taught to be, and more often than not there are cries of "I thought we knew better than this now" or "What kind of crap were these girls reading when they were young?" I don't hang out with women that sit around giggling "LOL, women suck, and I suck too because I'm a woman, I am catty and bitchy and a walking stereotype of female inferiority because I do not believe I can be any other way, TEE HEE."

And while nobody with eyes attached to a functioning brain will claim that women, as they are, as they really exist now, let alone how they really existed in Victorian times, were and are overwhelmingly spifftacular awesome wonderful good intelligent strong people as a general demographic, there is a HUGE difference between people who think that most women suck because women are brought up to suck and that's bad, and people who think that women suck because women just inherently suck and we're bad. The first bunch of people are cynical, rational feminists who understand that environment impacts people's personality development and the patriarchy impacts it harmfully. The second batch of people are self-hating misogynistic women and I cannot fucking stand them.

*deep breathing*

Now that that's off my chest, I think I can keep doing homework now.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
Madame Ferly thinks I should try to major in French. I think it's only two extra courses to double-major instead of minoring. Two issues: one of those is National Imagination, which I don't really want to take, and also there's an abroad requirement. Madame said something about (since it's obviously way too late to do a semester in Dijon) doing summer courses in Quebec. Which would be awesome. It would be doubly awesome if I could also still work for at least part of that summer. Probably at least worth looking into.

I heard once that one commonly used measure for being "fluent" in a language is whether or not you can crack jokes in it. I'm nowhere near punning my way through my French homework but I'm starting to be able to make an effort towards being horribly sarcastic, mostly because my head will explode with righteous feminist indignation if I keep having to write all these damn papers I'm writing without finding some way of expressing my complete and utter contempt for a world in which this shit is still possible. A week or so ago we had to read and write on an article about attacks on single women in Algeria (no, seriously. Grown women who live by themselves are getting violently attacked on the street simply FOR BEING SINGLE). Now I'm in the middle of a four-page essay about a "society in transition" re: the film "Moolaade," which is about a group of women who, having listened to ~nasty subversive radio programs oh horrors~ in which they find out that female genital mutilation is NOT, in fact, mandated by the Koran--oh, and also having been through it themselves, so they know how much it sucks--start a huge to-do in their cute ickle traditional Burkina Faso village when they decide to give protection to four nine-year-old girls who ran away from a "purification" ceremony.

I have spent a LOT of time in this freaking hippie school reading about the evils of globalization and guess what, globalization has its ISSUES. HUGE ISSUES. I am not a huge fan, on most counts, like how it lets people economically screw other people over on bigger scales than we have ever seen before, or how it causes ridiculous and easily treatable health crises that still never get solved. I can even shed my hippie liberal tear for this nebulous idea of "cultures" being destroyed, although I still think there's a huge difference between actively trying to obliterate use of a language (bad) and omg trying to also teach people languages spoken by more than like four people, how dare we (useful! this is what language is FOR!).

But... not with the women's rights stuff. Not with any sort of rights issue that could very easily be solved by people opening their eyes and recognizing what a HUMAN BEING looks like when they see one, instead of making up whatever sort of bullshit they can think of so they can hang on to whatever sort of power the old system was giving them. If MY society contains occasional enlightened individuals who truly believe that women are people, and even the misogyny that still surrounds me leans more towards instances of personal asshattery by individual asshats that do absolutely nothing to prevent me from driving, voting, going to school, talking to people, or getting a job, and YOUR society cuts women's girly bits off to make them "pure" and "marriageable" so that they can never enjoy sex enough to ever be tempted to run away from their husbands, then I live in CIVILIZATION and your picturesque little traditional "culture" CAN'T GET IMPOSED ON FAST ENOUGH. MISOGYNY IS NOT A CUTE LITTLE ANTHROPOLOGICAL CURIOSITY. IT HURTS PEOPLE, AND IT IS WRONG--MORALLY, SCIENTIFICALLY, BIOLOGICALLY, AND COMPLETELY WRONG.

And I will NOT adopt a neutral academic tone when writing about it. I am NOT being biased in condemning it. I am pointing out the self-evident scientific fact that the human species has two genders and they are both still human and I WILL NOT PRETEND THIS IS A MATTER OF OPINION.

*climbs off soapbox*

So, that was your feminist ranting for the day. I have to go finish ranting feministly in French, and you should all run to Netflix or your nearest purveyor of difficult-to-find West African movies and rent "Moolaade." A bientot!
bloodygranuaile: (bitch please)

Considering all the fun I've had completely snarking the Twilight series at every turn, I never really thought I'd say this, but... Stephenie Meyer *so* does not deserve this shit. This might be the most ineptly written interview in the history of ineptly written interviews. Offensively so, but I'll get to that in a minute.

We can start with the fucking HEADLINE (and that's a bad sign): "News Review interview: Stephenie Meyer. A Mormon housewife’s bestselling tales of a gallant ghoul are fast filling the void left by Harry Potter". Okay, I have enough issues with Stephenie referring to her sparkly wonderpeople as "vampires," but... GHOUL? There is only one instance in which a ghoul and a vampire are the same thing, and that is when the speaker is AN ILLITERATE AND CULTURALLY SHELTERED IGNORAMUS WHO DOESN'T EVEN REALIZE THAT "HORROR" *IS* A GENRE AND NOT JUST THE FEELING YOU GET WHEN YOUR TEA COSIES DON'T MATCH. Fifty bucks says this reporter doesn't let her children celebrate Halloween.

Also, the reviewer has clearly not read "Breaking Dawn" yet. She/he/it happily dithers on the series "boil[ing] with desire that all goes unconsummated" (emphasis mine), and that "even though her characters never have sex...". Um, that was true of the first three books, but part of the reason so many people hate BD is that Edward and Bella are constantly sexxin'. CONSTANTLY. Especially in the third segment of the book, which I'm only halfway through, and I am so god damn sick of it already. I'm going to vomit next time I she uses the word "physically," I swear.

Most importantly, by which I mean the punishment for the other two should have been being locked in a library for 10 years each but the punishment for this one should involve electroshocks and waterboarding, there is the following evaluation of Stephenie Meyer's literary genius:

"She’s a roundish, bouncy figure who disguises her weight well in smart black pants and tailored shirt."

As much as I am a nosy bitch and want to know absolutely everything about everyone, Stephenie Meyer's weight has absolutely NOTHING to do with her writing ability, or lack thereof, depending on what camp you're in. NOTHING. And it is not nice to call people fat. It is especially inappropriate to call people fat when it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what you're talking about. And as much as I do believe that being able to dress yourself is a skill (I go to a hippy nerd school... there's actually people who can't around here), it's not a writing skill. Also, I am extremely skeptical as to whether this comment would still have been made if Stephenie Meyer were a man.

This article does contain some helpful insight into why the Twilight books are... um... bad, as far as I'm concerned. Point the first:

"Even her husband was doubtful, once she confessed what she had really been doing all those nights when she came to bed late. “He wasn’t very enthusiastic, because he was trying to protect me,” she said. “He knew how hard I would take rejections and I think he was concerned I was going to get hurt. And nobody would want to live with a rejected Stephenie.” "

Score! My number one problem with the Twilight series, Edward's particular dickheadedness-- "protection" at the expense of supporting your girlfriend/wife's ability to be a god damn person. At the expense of supporting her right to take chances, make mistakes, try new things, face the big bad real world and its meen ppl. God forbid you encourage your wife to develop her artistic talents and express herself! Somebody somewhere might not think she's good, and that would hurt her feelings, so you should just beat them all to it instead.

Interview also mentions that "before she started writing, [she] had never read a vampire book". YOU DON'T SAY. No wonder her vampires' mythology is so awkard and, um, NON-VAMPIRIC. No wonder there's all these awkward scenes where Bella goes to check out vampire myths, and only finds the *myths*, and then dithers about how the Cullen vampires are "sooooooo different than the stories" even on the points where their differing from Dracula and pre-Dracula myths are, in fact, extremely common points of modern vampire mythology. If I read one more vampire novel where, upon discovering vampires, some human character goes "But I thought vampires couldn't go out in sunlight?" and the vampire is like "ALL TEH STORIEZ ARE RONG!!" I will BURN IT. So many modern stories have adopted the idea of "the vampire that can go out in the day and there's just (x) reason why they usually don't" that most of us have freaking heard that notion by now. Did Meyer really think she was making her own change to the mythology? When I actually review BD, I will go on my own rant as to why the modern changes to the vampire myth are being made (any why they suck!), but I am now going to shift my focus onto the changes that Meyer made that actually *are* original, and why *they* suck.

1. Individuated superpowers. Um, this one sucks because it betrays how little you know about traditional vampire powers. Since you have absolutely no idea what has ever constituted "vampire powers" except for superstrength, you gave them each individual ones, making them more like a bunch of superheroes than a single race. Mythologically, even in modern vampire stories, vampirism is generally *opposed* to one's individuality, which gets sort of tied in with the being human business, ie, being "you". Part of the existential angst facet of most modern vampire stories is that the vampirism thing basically irons out bits of "you", and you have to struggle between being "you" and being "vampire." The idea of an individuated superpower doesn't fit in too well with that theme.
2. Sparkly vampires. Actually, the whole 'inhumanly marble-like' skin thing being conspicuous is old. It's just the addition of the literal word "sparkle" that makes it dumb. SPARKLE. Seriously.
3. Vampires don't sleep. First of all, it just seems really Mary-Sue-ish. Second of all, it sounds like it'd be twice as big a curse as being immortal and sleeping through half of it, but no, it gives them extra time to be ~awesome~! *eyeroll* Third of all, and probably the weakest argument, it just departs SO completely from all other mythology, from the primevial horror image of rising out of the grave, that it very much bothers the folklorist in me. Vampires don't have to actually crawl out of their grave every evening to make me happy. There just needs to be SOME shred of a tie left to that original idea. Fourth, vampires aren't *robots*. They still need sustenance, why not rest?
4. Okay, the big one. Vampire "venom." Is DUMB. Why? Because they're VAMPIRES. What bodily fluid is most closely associated with vampires? BLOOD. If the vampire's power therefore resides in one of their bodily fluids, what fluid would it be? BLOOD. What is it in every single other motherfucking vampire story where a vampire's bodily fluid changes the victim? BLOOD. Why do some canons have vampires sweat or cry blood? BECAUSE THE VAMPIRE MYTH... IS... ABOUT... BLOOD. Now, WHY would you have a vampire's power reside in one of its bodily fluids that is absolutely unrelated to blood? There are two possible answers: one, you're stupid, two, you don't know what a vampire is.

Oh, and one more major, apoplexy-inducing pet peeve for the entire world of douchewagons who want to praise SMeyer without stopping to think if what they're saying makes any sense or not: STOP COMPARING THIS TO HARRY POTTER. Yes, they're both series, they're both popular, they're both fantasy. This is where it ENDS. The stories have radically different tones, setups, and characters. The world-building bears no similarities. Mythologies are interpreted radically differently. Hell, the idea of the power of love is interpreted almost COMPLETELY differently. Meyers' books are ridiculously conservative in terms of their social mores and evaluations of relationships between people (find Prince Charming, do what he says, everything else is secondary); Rowling has a strong hippie-liberal bent (stick by everybody, be dependent on none of them, challenge authority, be yourself, tolerance, etc). Meyer is deliberately writing about mythologies she knows nothing about; Rowling's books are deeply colored by more old mythology and folklore than you will ever be able to uncover. Meyers' books are mysogynistic, despite her female protagonist; Rowling has a male protagonist but also has a share of ass-kicking and sometimes even single women who are considered as individual characters, not halves of pairs, and certainly not in need of the protection of their men. (I would put in that HP is legitimately good and Twilight is just fun 'cos it's crack, but all know that.) JUST STOP COMPARING THE TWO ALREADY.

Meyer majored in English, too. >.< Inexcusable. But God... the fact that she writes crack has nothing to do her *weight*. And at least she writes; I respect that enough to believe she should get an interviewer who at least *reads*. Writing is hard; reading is easy. Poor Stephenie.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
I really, really wish I'd brought my copy of The Silmarillion to school with me. Oh well. If I make it to Spring Break I can hole up and read it at home.

In the meantime, I am getting as close as I can by listening to "Nightfall in Middle-earth" and reading a book I borrowed from Keen called "J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth," although at the moment I've just read the back cover and the introduction and it has served to make me rather depressed, as it has reminded me that, despite the fact that I am a very bad Catholic, some form of "noble Christian ideals" have indeed made their impact on me, probably less from Church than from reading so many things coming out of the European Christian tradition, and the fact remains that they make better stories and are so much more uplifting than anything I actually believe in, as I am agnostic and cynical. No, I don't believe in fate. I just like fate. The things I believe in, or rather my general lack of belief in anything other than people's own responsibility to not make other people's lives more hellish than necessary, makes for dreary existential stories. This is why I like fantasy. I think the only stories where I really fully agree with the worldview *and* like the piece are Ibsen's social dramas, namely "A Doll's House".

I remember reading "the Telling" and liking the idea of the Telling, but not really liking the book that much. Ursula LeGuin's carefully inclusive bits of backstory--namely that the main character is Anglo-Hindi and this isn't mentioned until halfway into the book, and the bit about her girlfriend--flat-out annoyed me. It made me feel like the book was being written about our current society instead of telling its own scifi tale, which, to be honest, was not something I wanted to read. Yes, I read fantasy largely for its escapist value, or rather a combination of sheer escapist value and its value for being able to have a standard and a model with which to try and look at the real world in a less disorganized way. There is no inherent meaning in the universe. Myths give us one. And personally, I wish there was, because I like the idea of people having something to work for greater than their own gratification, of having some sort of destiny that I will find or that will find me instead of messing around trying to assemble a coherent education and carreer path out of absolutely nothing except my own wants. And I like the idea of being tall and proud and pure and wise better than being likeable, friendly or popular anyway. I would like to think that being descended from the Celts means anything besides being pale and square-jawed.

And I realize that likely everyone who reads this is, if they didn't already, going to think I'm competely out of my mind on this one: I like reading books with no sex in them whatsoever. When I've been hanging out with one-track-minded teenagers for too long I have a tendency to shut the computer off, shut myself up at home and watch children's movies and read children's books and Victorian books and Tolkien, and get snappish and pissed off if anyone within ten years of my age level tries to talk to me because it's only possible for the conversation to go on for maybe ten minutes with my less sordid friends and ten seconds with some other people I've known before we come back to "earthy" subject matter. Sometimes, I'm not going for "earthy." I'm going for the idealized, the epic, the above-that, even if it's only that way because its intended audience was six years old, or dangerously repressed.

Despite popular opinion, I am not dangerously repressed. It's just that certain mundane things, after a while and in certain moods, make me horribly, ferociously depressed: sex, the Internet, brand names, commercials, certain political issues, vulgarity, plastic, computers, cars, sneakers, flip-flops, television, mind-altering substances, Ikea furniture. Some of these strike me as depressingly modern, others are depressingly "grown-up," some are just depressingly crude and pointless. At various times, every single one of these has made me want to barricade myself in my room and not come out until I've finished the entire History of Middle-earth series. Some of them I never, ever want to have anything to do with; others I only sometimes don't want to have anything to do with.

At any rate, I want my books to be above them. I like the idea that there is something "above" the pointless and mundane, that it can be anything other than uptight posturing to try to hold to an ideal "above" them, that the "noble Christian ideal" of behavior, even if there is no Christ, is something worth holding to in addition to something to be made fun of for.

However, I'm not sure I really believe that, and that kind of upsets me.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
Got around to watching "Wilde" this evening. Thought it was very good, although it may have been better if Wilde had written the screenplay, except then it would have been dreadfully inaccurate. Stephen Fry very Wildean as Wilde; Jude Law utterly despicable as Bosie; Orlando Bloom hysterically recognizable as Orlando Bloom as a rentboy in a dippy hat.

There are a lot of things I admire about Wilde and would love to be a fraction as good at--his writing is almost invariably superbly clever, he's extremely quotable, he's the undisputed master of paradox (in all its useful forms, from avoiding answering questions altogether to saying very serious things in a silly fashion, and sometimes both at the same time), he's a masterful storyteller, a skilled poet, and a lovely essayist, he's utterly and fantastically unconventional, the Aestheticism movement amuses the hell out of me even though I fully agree with it, and he basically got to travel all over the US and Europe and say ridiculous things and is remembered a hundred years later for it.

But Wilde made one mistake that, although a common one, scares me and upsets me greatly when I realized I've come anywhere close to it, and that was his abysmal lack of judgment about Bosie's character. Bosie was a spoilt little child who only liked Wilde when he was amusing, but never, ever thought of anything outside of his own amusement. The film featured a number of (hopefully exaggerated, but I really don't know) scenes of Bosie blowing up over the most idiotic things, getting mad at Wilde for not going into debt over him when he'd spent every penny he could afford on him (and Wilde had a wife and three kids to support, so this was generous), refusing to get him a glass of water when he was sick because he wasn't amusing sick, and eventually, it was ENTIRELY Bosie's fault that Wilde went to jail, because Bosie was trying to get back at his (admittedly rather crazy) daddy. Yeah, sacrifice your devoted boyfriend and mentor so you can piss your dad off one last time--that's really considerate. Wilde loved him anyway.

I don't want to love terrible people. I want to have people to love, people to truly care about and be loyal and devoted to, and I don't think love should be based on a selfish idea of "what does this person do for me," but I don't like getting stuck loving people who are selfish, childish, narcissistic, vindictive, and treat other people--including me--badly. I like the nice-sounding idea of loving without expecting anything in return, but I abhor the idea of loving people and getting beaten or toyed with as a result. There seems sometimes to be a distressingly fine line between judging people, which we all know is Bad, and being any sort of judge of character, in which case it would seem that being a good judge of character is good and being a bad judge of character causes all sorts of dreadful things to happen, although cases such as Wilde's (or King Lear's) are a bit extreme. I am also torn between the warm and fuzzy idea that, all people being equal, all people are deserving of love, and the feeling that people who have more and stronger redeeming qualities than negative ones are better choices for me to love than people who have more and stronger negative qualities than redeeming ones. In addition to potentially getting hurt, I feel ashamed and delusional when I realize I have been holding people in a higher opinion than they merit, as I hate being wrong and I hate finding myself guilty of bad taste. And I fear I'm rather dreadfully snobbish about people in general, but I really do want to be able to love people for who they are, rather than despite it.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
That damn cake metaphor is sticking with me. Have realized the same thing with the cake metaphor as I did with the hot-chocolate metaphor Hatim asked me after freshman year.

Which went as follows... question was, what's your favorite hot drink, why, and how to do you drink it? Answer: Hot chocolate, because it's chocolate, and I don't. I drink tea. I will always almost opt for tea, and I pretty much only drink hot chocolate at Show Band when it's unbelieveably freezing, and that has no chocolate content anyway. This is, quite simply, because it makes me sick. Point of this question was that hot drink of choice=sex. Look at what that says about me.

So due to this cake metaphor I've had an insatiable craving for literal cake. There is one slight problem (besides lack of cake): I wouldn't be able to eat it. These past few days I've barely been able to eat anything anyway, subsisting mostly off of drink. This is a periodic intensification, normally brought on by some form of anger or melancholy or worry, of a usually ignorable but pretty constant trait of mine: inability to deal with self-indulgence. I do this constantly. I like cake. When there is cake around, I am happy. However, actually eating just about anything, but especially junk food, is always accompanied by the knowledge that I really don't need this, a self-critical depression, disappointment at myself for lack of willpower, and annoyance at myself for finishing it because I somehow feel like it's obligatory. Sometimes I know this is going to happen and thus avoid it. Usually I know it's going to happen and eat it anyway. When I'm manic, I really just don't care until I get sick later anyway.

Self-indulgence is self-indulgence as far as I'm concerned, and I have the same negative reaction to all of it. I don't want to have my cake and eat it too. I've made my decision. I prefer to have my cake rather than eat it. The problem with this is that if I don't eat it, someone else will, or someone will throw it away eventually. Hence I have an apathy about my own high-minded distaste for such selfishness and sometimes engage in it anyway, continuing to get pissed off at myself and feeling like I'd rather just not care but not managing to pull it off.

And usually it doesn't matter. But sometimes, as now, I get very annoyed at the number of people who seem to be able to do what makes them happy and just be okay with it, wonder why I can't just bloody enjoy myself, and wonder how much is inherent and how much has to do with the fact that I have, in the past been severely bitchslapped as a result of self-gratification, and am now usually somewhere between relatively wary and paranoid of possible negative consequences of basing my behavior around my own whims and feelings as opposed to just about anything (or anyone) else.

Unlike life or society as a whole, which start off messed up and contintually move in what they think is a direction of improvement (sometimes is, sometimes isn't), many of the smaller things in life, like friendships, start off in a nice, perfect state of relaxed, fun and friendly chill, and get screwed up from then on. Then you usually can't ever go back to that same state of even and issue-less chilling out, because the past is a part of the present. You can't un-eat the cake if you change your mind. I hate this particular sort of finality. It's also part of what makes me ill. Wounds can heal in a few days, but scars don't go away, no matter what you do, for years, if ever, and they're just sort of there, marring your skin, even if they're not injuries any longer. And there's nothing to be done about it.
bloodygranuaile: (Default)
"The fact is that love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, strikes deep roots throughout our being, and continues to put out leaves on a heart in ruins.

"And what defies explanation is that the blinder the passion, the more tenacious it is. It is never more solid than when it lacks all reason."

--Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame de Paris, p. 398

I am the Cynical Romantic; the Fairy Gothmother; the Devil on the left shoulder; the priest in the confessional with a meaningless vow of confidence; the narrative commentary, character analysis and explication of a Romantic novel. I am the translator; I hold the backstory that doesn't make it into the movie. I am the bit character that exists to give random information neccessary to the plot, but the character itself isn't a character, it's a plot device.

If I am to be everything other than a central character, let me truly be everything other than a central character. Let me be a bucket of cold water dumped over somebody's head. Let me be a deus ex machina for just one player. Let me be heeded when I am right, and for the love of God let me be wrong more often. Let me be proven too cynical.

If all that fails, let me be left alone.

And regardless of my position, let stupid decisions and dramatic bullshit from now on be resolved within one year.

(And that, my loves, is the closest thing to a prayer I have offered in longer than I care to remember.)


bloodygranuaile: (Default)

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