Monday, June 25, 2012

Meet Copernicus

As I'm posting this, I hear the anguished cries of a stray cat. Sean and I have been joking frequently lately that I have the "mommy gene," and the discomfort I feel at the sound of those cries, the ache in my heart, reminds me of those jokes. The sound alerts Copernicus as well, as he leaps up and dashes toward the window.

Who is Copernicus, you ask?

Well, let me explain.

Thursday was my roommate as well as one of my best friends' birthday. The night began simply enough; dinner and drinks at a cute bar and restaurant, then off for more drinks at another bar a few blocks away. In the midst of a pretty cutthroat Candyland game (yes, this bar has Candyland), we noticed a girl with a tiny kitten in her arms. The establishment was always very welcoming of dogs, so we thought little of it and continued to play the game.

Shortly after that, however, the girl approached us and began to plead the kitten's case. He had been found in a friend's garage (gesturing toward a group of boys at this point), and could anybody take him in. She began to explain why she couldn't care for him, though I'm fuzzy on the details because at this point I was no longer listening. Instead, I was scooping him up into my arms and saying, "Yes, yes, I'll take him!" Unsure if I could keep him at this point, I needed to make sure he didn't end up in the hands of some drunken idiot. 

As the three of us girls cooed and snuggled this tiny malnourished ball of fur, Sean and the birthday girl's boyfriend stepped outside where supposedly, Sean grumbled "Well, I guess I'm getting a cat now." Though he only had to spend about 20 minutes with young Copernicus before falling in love with him.

Though, it'd be hard not to with this little guy:

We arrived at home with Copernicus, his namesake received at the bar, at around 1am. We bring him inside briefly when I discover that he has fleas. And so marks the beginning of my Very Long Friday:

1am- 4am: Spent spraying Copernicus down with an antiflea solution purchased at Walgreens, then picking them out of his fur as they died. With. My. Bare. Hands. I hate bugs, so this was awful for both of us. In an attempt to escape the chemicals, the bugs migrated to where I couldn't directly spray: his face. Pulling them out of the fur on his cheeks, chin and above his eyes was absolutely horrid. I killed at least 30 that night, combing through his fur OCD style and looking for more until there was no more to find.

5-7am: Changing on the back porch into clothes without the possibility of fleas on them under a halloween cloak, I went indoors to formulate a game plan for getting him vet care. Made a mental list of vets as well as what time they opened. Returned outdoors to give him company. Continued the search for fleas.

7-9am- Drove around, looking for a vet that would give us a discount or a payment plan given that we were trying to rescue an abandoned stray, with no luck. The entire time I'm so jacked up on energy drink, I feel like I'm experiencing all of the negative effects of taking amphetamines. My whole body felt strained, my jaw tensing up until it ached, my focus drifting away. Continue to search for fleas.

10am: I call my aunt, who told me she'd loan us the amount for the vet visit. Relief crashes like a wave throughout my body, downward into my fingertips and toes. Sean hears me thank her, and we share a look that my less than graceful use of the English language can describe. We make a vet appointment for 1pm. Continue to search for fleas.

Worn out little ball of fur
9:15-12:30: Unable to take him indoors and unwilling to leave him alone, Copernicus wait away the hours until his vet appointment on the back porch. We bring out his makeshift litter box as well as food and water bowls. A friend comes by with food and conversation. Along with not having slept, I also hadn't eaten since 3pm the day before as I didn't eat at the restaurant the previous night. Copernicus sleeps. And sleeps. And sleeps. Most of the time he's unconscious, but his waking moments slowly become more lively as he gets rest, food, and hydration. We leave to pick up my aunt and head to the vet's office. As before, continue to search for fleas.

One o'clock. We arrive for his appointment. We fill out the paperwork together, Sean and I. Another scary/exhilarating/exciting moments that make the whole "till death do you part" thing more real. Like when we got a joint savings account a few weeks ago.

Everybody in the vet's office is wonderful. Friendly, helpful, compassionate, sympathetic to what we've been going through. His checkup begins. He is about 12 weeks old, he weighs just over 2lbs. He's supposed to be around 3-4 lbs. Being underweight even 1lb is a big deal when it's 1/3 your body weight. They vet assistant brushes me off when I say I was thorough on checking for fleas, and I think I killed them all. He combs through Copernicus with a flea comb, only one dead one is found. He's given an instakill flea pill just in case.

They distract him with a can of cat food to take a fecal sample, which he devours into ravenously. A tiny growl during during the extraction, but he never even stops chewing. They draw his blood, and I have the realisation that I'm going to be that mom, when/if I have kids. When he cried out I felt a cold, helpless sort of panic. "But he's hurting my baby" is the exact phrase the went through my mind.

Sean and I had discussed the possibility of this not going well back home. "We have to be prepared for the possibility that he might come up positive for feline leukemia," I told him. Even so, it was an emotional moment when the vet announced that all of the tests were negative. FeLV, Heartworm, FIV: all negative. To hear that all he had was a few roundworms at the end of an emotional day with no sleep and little food released all of the stress at once. We both got a little misty. Sean asked if we could be his forever home. I asked the same question back. They gave him his first round of vaccinations, and we finally were able to go home, with the newest addition to our family. 

And he was finally able to go inside.

This is him today, already looks so much better!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In other, vaguely Wu Tang related news:

Remember this post?
Barversation made it onto Urban Dictionary!

I got the email a few days ago, and decided to wait until it was published to say anything. Which, I only succeeded in doing because I completely forgot until just now.

In other, other news, I got THIS game from Goodwill for 3 American Dollars:

If you're not thinking that's the most awesome game ever then I don't know who you are anymore, internet. Who doesn't want to play a good old-fashioned game of Good, Bad, and Mystery smells? Well, my friends, apparently.

Whew, deep breath.

Oh yes, it's been some time since I've written here.

I'm sure most of you that know me assume that the abandonment hiatus was brought about by my inability to stick to anything. Normally you would be right but this time that was not the case.

I don't want to go into all the details, because overexposure was the problem in the first place, but in a nutshell:

I became afraid of my blog.

One night out after a few too many I posted a video on YouTube exposing a little bit too much of my feelings/life/circumstances. The point was to use it anonymously as part of a project, with no intention of it being seen by anybody who actually knows me. An incredibly flawed plan if you're not half in the bag/feeling hopeless at 3 am.

The problem was, my YouTube account is connected to my Facebook.

So, the next morning afternoon when I awoke I saw that said video was linked to on my Facebook account, and also reposted by well meaning friends. I instantly deleted it from my wall and later made toe video unviewable, before deleting it completely.

Now, I'm a relatively open person, but this was exposing not only my life but the lives of others. The exposure of those I care about because of my carelessness is what resonated within me so much.

I felt a sense of betrayal, but the only thing at fault was my own carelessness. Then the social anxiety set in. And even though my blog was in no way related to my mishap, I needed to hide from any sort of internet exposure for awhile which included my blog. I went back to posting on Facebook, etc, but the blog took a little bit longer. Looming in the back of my mind, me longing to write again but hesitant to take the first steps. The heartbeat thud-thud-thud of small panic whenever I'd try to push myself to write the words I'm writing now.

Sometimes, I get afraid of the world. I've lost jobs because of it. Panic strikes and I can't will my body to move from its hiding place under my bedcovers. I cringe if I hear a roommate walking about because that means I can't eat, use the restroom, without them seeing me.

Due to my carelessness, I've now learned that same feeling of anxiety can happen for me online. But, I've gotten over it.

And I'm back.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How to Celebrate Paddy's like the Man Himself

Are you bored with the way Americans (or, Insert-Your-Country-Here. I have a limited world view due to my lack of omniscience!) celebrate St. Patricks Day? Do you think celebrating like the Irish still isn't "authentic enough?" Well here is a list of ways you can spend March 17th just like the holiday's namesake- St. Patrick . 

- Go to an English pub, and drink English beer. Not to be a hipster or "ironic." St. Patrick wasn't Irish. That's right. He was English.

-Become a slave. Apparently the young Paddy found his way to Ireland via kidnapping from his wealthy English family's estate, and was sold into slavery tending sheep.

-Own slaves. See "wealthy English family's estate" above.

-Take hallucinogenics and/or develop schizophrenia. After all, it was the voices that prompted St. Patrick to escape from Ireland. And also, to return to Ireland.

-Persecute anybody with religious views that are different from yours. After all, there are no snakes in Ireland, and there never have been. Snakes were used to symbolize the evil, and what war really driven out was pagan beliefs. So, have all of differentially-religious neighbors evicted, then spread the word that ridded the building of cockroaches. It's the modern day, apartment version of the banishing of the snakes. Well, it would be if you made sure to kill a bunch of 'em in the process.

-Die, but leave everyone around you confused as to when March 17th is the accepted date of St. Patrick's death, but there are 4 possible stated years of death on his Wikipedia page: 420, 460, 461, and 493. It's possible they clear up which date is the real one, I didn't pay that close attention.

Of course, you could always cut to the root of the United State's version of Paddy's Day. Have a slice of apple pie while playing baseball. After all, the modern idea of how to celebrate St. Patrick's day has "almost nothing to do with the real man" and "was basically invented in America by Irish-Americans." (Luther College Professor Phillip Freeman).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

(Re)Learning to Draw: An Exercise in Cthulhus IV: "Business Time"

Oh, Creativity. That special kind of mental illness that causes you to spend 12 solid hours drawing Cthulhu with a fedora on. So, if the written part of this post is mangled, that's why. I can't brain anymore. Really wanted to do it all from scratch, buas hour 12 approached, this seemed like an interesting/fun way to keep it from getting sloppy whilst finishing all in one go.

Find the first three installments herehere, and here.

I'm pretty proud that these four drawings are my only experience with a tablet- with no other attempts before or in between.

While making this, I had the best/worst situation ever. I thought of a blog post that I really wanted to write, but also didn't want to stop drawing. Write?Draw?Write?Draw? The creative's dilemma.

Credit where credit's due:
The Background
The Briefcase

Blarg. Done thinking. Also, I just attempted to put a comma into the word done 4 times. Umm... apostrophe, actually.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Condescension really isn't a good look on anybody

This is a post I've been wanting to write for the past few days- would have a few false starts then put away to write later. It doesn't help that, even now, I'm having a difficult time focusing my eyes to write this. But more on that in a different post. Perhaps. I don't promise eloquence on this one, just an expression of something that I find maddening.

There is very little that I find more insulting than an individual or organization advocating for my "own good" against my desires. About a week ago I found myself reading a discussion on the Evils of the Cosmetics Industry that followed the same regurgitated pattern of:

"The cosmetics industry manipulates women into thinking they need to wear make up to feel pretty!"
"It perpetuates poor self-image and low self-esteem!"
"Those poor girls!"

Hold on, now. As a woman, a self-identified third wave feminist, and a lover of cosmetics, I do take offense to this. The notion that I am somehow too weak-minded to see that I'm being taken advantage of by big bad corporations feels incredibly insulting. Telling me that I'm not capable of making my own decisions or thinking for myself in the name of feminism makes that insult so much more scathing.

I'm making this personal because I cannot speak for other women. I can only speak for myself and don't pretend to have an omniscient view into the heads of Every Woman. What I know is this:

I do not think I'm hideous without makeup. I am not afraid to leave the house without foundation/eyeliner/whatever. I do not wear makeup to give me "confidence." Sometimes I wear it to enhance features, sometimes for a more polished appearance, mostly to play with color. I love cosmetics because of the ways that they can be fun and artistic. I spend money on good cosmetics for the same reasons an artist spends money on quality art supplies- you can most assuredly tell the difference in quality as you use them. Just because you *can* create an amazing drawing using Crayola colored pencils, that doesn't mean you don't want the richer pigments and superior blending ability of a box of Prismacolors.

That's not to say there aren't women who have an unhealthy attachment to cosmetics, but in my experience the vast majority of women do not fall into that category. Many-to-most women think they look better with makeup on, but just because a guy thinks he looks better in an Armani suit that doesn't mean he thinks he's cripplingly disfigured in sweat pants.

Ultimately, this rant isn't just about cosmetics. It's also about anything that sounds as though it is speaking for your gender, your race, or even you as an individual, but in the process places that group or individual in a diminished capacity to speak for themselves.

Knock it off.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Barversation a word yet? or: Every time I use the phrase Wu Tang Clan take a drink

A barversation between me and my fiance:

"I love that you're going to marry me. And the Wu Tang Clan."
"I'm going to marry you AND the Wu Tang Clan?"
"You're marrying the Wu Tang Clan?? That's AWESOME!"
"What if the Wu Tang Clan was like, you can join our group but you have to let us marry Lindsey."
"What, all of them? Even ODB?"
"Yes, even zombie ODB."
"Even if it's against my will?"
"So, what you're saying is, in exchange for giving them you, the Wu Tang Clan becomes The RZA, The JZA, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, ODB, Raekwon, U-God, Masta Killa, and Sean? Yeah honey, sorry."
"I am not a commodity to be sold the the Wu Tang Clan!"
"I don't know about that...."

Oh white boys and their love for the Wu.  Which is I suppose is only fitting as the group seems to think they're Asian. The group that brings people together through rap music and racial confusion. And also the fear of bees.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I was probably meant to be a housecat. But they put me in the wrong body.

I feel as though I've spent the last 27 years of my life trying to be a basketball player. For someone who was recently told that there is no way she could be as tall as 5 foot 3, who occasionally lacks even basic motor skills, this is an absurd goal. Except all I'm trying to do is accomplish the daily tasks of a normal life. Trying to dunk when you can't even reach all of the shelves in your kitchen is my equivalent to holding a steady job, keeping my room clean, and showering regularly.

I see the people around me accomplishing so much more, working so much harder. I had 5 different jobs last year, and not one I feel completely confident putting on a resume. It's difficult to hold the same job if, invariably you don't show up for a few days because you're afraid to go outside. And you don't call and say anything because of both your anxiety over phones and the crippling fear of disappointing someone. Or getting yelled at. Which makes leaving your bed a terrifying prospect.

Yes, I have clear anxiety and social phobia issues, sometimes. Not all the time, but frequently enough. There are lots of people who have similar problems though, or issues with depression, who somehow manage to- one way or another- complete all of the things that mean being an Adult. Are my issues just "worse" than those people, am I weaker? Am I just lacking discipline, structure, order, as I've heard all through my life? I try to have these things. I get bursts of determination, of "this time I'm going to turn myself into a successful person." Invariably it falls apart and I end up back at this spot.

This is the spot where I feel as though I cannot function in society normally. I used to take that as a sign that I was a failure at being a person, would get very depressed and even suicidal once or twice. This isn't how I feel anymore. I go back to the basketball metaphor. It's as though I've spent the past 27 years trying to be successful by being tall, co-ordinated, and athletic. Well, I'm short, clumsy, and fairly sedentary. I want to try to find out how I fit in the world. How I can be successful (read: happy, fulfilled, and enriched) in this world by working with my personality; playing to my strengths and acknowledging my weaknesses.

While they both affect how well I can function, social anxiety and untreated thyroid condition aside, I still ultimately feel as though I'm trying to function in a way that I just wasn't designed for. Looking back, I see the fruits of those labors: failed attempt after failed attempt, with ill-fitting clothes strewn along the way. Trying something new is the only option, but it's also terrifying. The prospect of failing at what I've felt down in my bones as my only saving grace to being a fully functional adult causes me to shudder. Yet ultimately not trying has the same result as failing, so I suppose it's time to defrost my assets, and appraise them for their value.

Provided my talents aren't judged on that last metaphor, that is. Haven't you ever really wanted to write something, even if you knew it wasn't very good?

Monday, March 5, 2012

And I shall call the series, (Re)Learning to Draw: An Exercise in Cthulhus

Cthulhu was in the Bagiva Gita, I'll have you know. Not bad for my 2nd attempt with a tablet: I might be able to draw coloring book pages soon.

The Jeffrey Dahmer Tour: come see a bunch of abandoned buildings for 30 bucks

This past Saturday held the first official Jeffrey Dahmer walking tour in Milwaukee's Walker's Point, and after  much soul- and internet- searching, I ultimately think this to be in poor taste. This wasn't an easy conclusion for me to reach, being a person with focused intent on visiting places like the Museum of Death in Los Angeles and a genuine curiosity for abnormal psychology. Jeffrey Dahmer in particular I am fascinated by, for multiple reasons. Along with being a generally a good specimen of abnormal psych, I have a very personal interest in the man. As a native Milwaukean who was a child of 6 years old at the time of his arrest, I first heard the name Jeffrey Dahmer in the whispered voices of adults attempting not to traumatize small children. This man, his crimes, and their aftermath shaped this city; and this city shaped me. 

My first thought was to look for precedence. Surely this isn't the only example of a tour centralized around the murder sites or hunting grounds of a serial killer/mass murderer. I wanted to learn what Boston's reaction was when tours began featuring the exploits of the Boston Strangler and such, to find that Milwaukee's residents were giving in to sentimentalism. While it's true there are tours all over that feature their city's famous killers, usually they are part of a generalized ghost tour. On my brief search, I was able to find information on 2 killers with their own tours: Charles Manson, and the Night Stalker. These tours are also both in Los Angeles, which, as a person who has more than once defended LA against a reputation of vanity and superficiality which I think in most cases it doesn't deserve, the culture surrounding death is very different there than a small midwestern city. After all they show outdoor movies in the Hollywood Forever cemetery

The other thing I noticed is the time difference. The Night Stalker is the only one who's time frame came close to Jeffrey Dahmer's, who's last killings were in 1985 (Dahmer's were in 1991). As to why the Nightstalker's tour is not offensive, I think this quote from SCPR sums it up nicely:

“This is not a celebration of someone who has committed horrible acts,” [Guerrero] said. “It is a celebration of his capture, and the sense of community that came together to enable his capture and put him in jail.”
 Perhaps if another decade had gone by before this concept was attempted the public's response might have been different. As time passes, atrocity becomes history and the traumatic becomes interesting. Perhaps there's a math equation that can express when a joke passes the threshold from "too soon" to "funny." Maybe Randal Munroe will write it for us, if we ask him nicely enough.

In the midst of searching for information, I also kept trying to find more information on the tour. A phone number, a website, something that was not skewed perception. So, not an Op Ed piece (let's leave the objective journalism debate for another post). I wanted to see how the tour branded itself. And also possibly buy tickets as I was still on the fence. Well, if there's one thing all the news coverage succeeded in doing is give the the tour an abundance of negative press as well as make it impossible to find any detailed or contact information on the tour. Their official website was completely buried by headlines from as far away as the Daily Mail (a British Tabloid). I was about to give up when I noticed the story released by Fox 6's website was unsurprisingly the only news source willing to link to the official site.

If you care to take a look, the website is here (why not, I've linked to everything else in this post), and viewing it firsthand is one of two things that firmly set me against this venture. The language used on their site is clearly angled toward sensationalism. The writer also quotes himself on the same page of the original text. I sincerely hope whoever wrote the info page on their website isn't the same guy who wrote the cue cards the tour guide uses, as I can only imagine how "sensitive" the language is during the tour. Based on their own words as well as detailed accounts of the first tour (which seem to measure up to each other fairly well), without having actually seen it myself, it seems as though those running this tour are under the impression that stating things using Inflammatory Language is being Hard Hitting, but saying it with a Solemn Face is being Respectful.

My last criticism of this tour, again based on accounts and not my own personal experience, is that it doesn't really seem like they're saying anything new. It sounds as though I could print off the wikipedia page as well as a chronological list of the bars he frequented and save myself the 30 bucks. What I would be interested in is a tour that maybe delved a little, psychologically. How did Jeffrey Dahmer's presence affect what it was like to be a gay male in this city in the 80's and 90's? Was there a reaction of sympathy, or hate/fear/disgust? What were his personal relationships like? They call him a monster on their website, but he was a person. To call someone a monster because their behavior is extremely out of the societal norm is to oversimplify things to the point where you lose understanding. Ultimately why people have a fascination with figures like Dahmer is to try to find understanding in the horrifyingly inexplicable. This is a good thing. A tour that takes a psychological/sociological perspective; a tour that delves into his past as well into how that past has affected the culture of our city's present: that is a tour I'd be very interested in seeing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Owning a drawing tablet means never having to say your sorry

Well, by owning I mean borrowing from the upstairs neighbor.

And by borrowing I mean grabbing it off the couch while their house was on fire.

So I suppose she should thank me for saving it.

But actually the fire had already been extinguished by the fire dept, so the tablet wasn't in any danger.

So I suppose I should apologize for taking it without asking.

I guess, ultimately what secretly borrowing your neighbor's drawing tablet means is having to say your sorry. It also means you have to relearn how to draw from Square One. Case in point:

Real Women have Two X Chromosomes.

There's been a trend online that has picked up even more momentum in the past few months that I've found to be a source of frustration. The posting of images like this:

And this:

We've all seen these images: the skinny-isn't-sexy backlash against the barrage of Unrealistic Beauty Expectations from the media, rail thin models in high fashion, and the growing percentage of women with eating disorders. Those who post images like those above, as well as the commenters, usually tout these images as being revolutionary and forward-thinking when it comes to body image.

This is absurd.

The racial equivalent of this would be if, when our society realized that "hey, maybe we should treat black people like they're, oh I don't know, People" the dominant race (in this case white people) were demoted to subhuman. You cannot just switch the labels and treatment of two groups and call it revolutionary.

By saying X is what is sexy, regardless of the value of X, you are asking a diversely shaped group of people to become one shape. Those who don't fit the mold of that shape are devalued. If "curvy" is what is considered sexy (and remember that's a body shape not a body fat %), then if someone who is naturally slender eats more unhealthily to gain weight the shape of their body wouldn't change.

And ultimately, wasn't health the point of backlashing against the Unrealistic Beauty Expectations in the first place? To nurture/protect/place value in women's health? The real revolutionary idea would be if we promoted being in tune with your own body, giving it nourishing food, and placing value on all the things having a strong and healthy body lets you do.

The phrase "Real Women Have Curves" also resonates very negatively with me. Well, yes I do have curves, but if I was born with a different body type would I not be considered a real woman? Are women with smaller breasts and narrower hips "Not Real?" Things like the images above do nothing to end the commoditization of women or refocus the value of a woman on something other than her body parts.

To put it into excruciatingly simple terms: some people are big and some people are small. And that's cool. Some people think big people are prettier and some people think small people are prettier. And that's cool too. Do what makes you happy, do what keeps you healthy.