Thursday, April 26, 2012

Very nearly there

It's almost the end of the semester. I'm taking a test on Wednesday for the current section we've been covering (some evolution mixed with bio-habitats and populations), then a week of review and the lab final, followed by the actual final the following Monday.

This semester has gone by really fast. I've enjoyed it. I love that I'm finally getting to do science to stuff. I love learning and I love being in college. I wish I had gone when I was younger. I envy people who went younger. People who got to live at the university and join sororities and stuff. I doubt I'll do any of that. At this point, I'll just be happy to be accepted to the program!

I have a lot of hopes for after I finish college. I'm sure I'll have to work at a vet's office for a while, but I'm hopeful that I can start finding large animal vets, and then eventually work at a zoo. I would love to work at the zoo in North Carolina, near my family. There's also a wildlife preserve there, and other options. I wouldn't mind working at a shelter or something similar.

I just can't help thinking, though, at times, "What if I go through all of this for nothing?"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The cat of my cat's litter is my cat's...sister?

I was talking to this lady in my office about a cat she was pet-sitting, and I showed off my Chekhov to her. I gave her the spiel about how I don't really know if he's a Russian blue, but I'm sure he is because of all the personality and physical markers. Well, I guess she talked to her co-worker about him, because this girl, Brit, e-mailed me yesterday with pictures of her cat and she and I went back and forth.

"Is your cat OCD?"

"Does your cat have funny knock-kneed back legs?"

"Does he talk all the time? Mine talks all the time."

"Does she have toys she only plays with in the bedroom, and toys she only plays with in the living room? Chekhov gets upset when you switch them up."

"Or when you move furniture! Ovi  can't stand it when you move furniture!"

"And the paw cleaning!"

"The paw cleaning!"

One of these cats is mine. One is hers. You figure out which.

(they're cell phone pics in case you didn't know already...I probably have better pictures of Chekhov, but T-Mobile won't let me in until I change my password, but they won't let me change my password for some reason.)

Now, they look almost exactly alike, and that's to be expected. They're Russian blues. One of the true hallmarks of a blue is that their coat is dense, short, and three different colors of grey, starting with light at the bottom, a dark blue at the middle, and a shiny silver at the top. Their head shape, the color of their eyes, and the shape of their bodies are what define them.

This is a picture of a "breed pure" Russian blue. There is no discernable difference between this cat and my cat. Except mine has a goofier face and a fang that usually hangs out just a little. And mine is handsomer. Just saying.  
What else defines a cat is the personality. I've noticed that in breeding dogs, only bite, head shape, body shape, etc. define the breed, but only the terriers are expected to have specific personality traits. I went to a cat show once, and the Persian judges expected the Persians to be relaxed, the Abyssinian judges expected the cats to be playful and devious. Scottish folds are supposed to be curious (like Maru) (and if you don't know who Maru is, I feel sorry for you). Russian blues are supposed to be OCD, very into structure and schedules. They expect their food at a certain time, play at a certain time. Heck, Chekhov even goes to the bathroom at the same time every morning, and if the stank in the litter box isn't enough to get you out of bed at five in the morning, then I don't know what is.

Anyway, Brit and I were talking and we started realizing that our cats are the same age, and they were both found in shelters in south Orange County, and now we're starting to wonder if they could be litter mates. South OC isn't exactly a cat breeding area. They're mostly into dogs, since you can show off dogs more, and nothing says "South OC" like really extravagant things to show off such as cars, dogs, purses, sunglasses. Everything is directly calculated to make people think that you have money, which means that cats aren't a hot commodity since you can't have people over to the house--they'd figure out pretty quickly that you have absolutely no money and are a poseur because you live in squalor--and therefore no one can see your cat.

Anyway, it's a huge coincidence no matter what, and it was really cool to talk to another Russian blue slave (I hesitate to say "owner" when it comes to cats) who understands the unique situation of owning a cat that was bred to be neurotic.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shouldn't I...

Just with all the stuff that's been going on with me lately, I really feel like I should be missing A in my life. After all, wasn't she my best friend? I should be looking for someone to lean on, I should be scrambling for the support she's always given me.

Except I'm not.

I've come to realize that...well, that she wasn't really there. And quite frankly, it's much easier right now that I'm not thinking about what I did wrong, or why she isn't being my friend, or any of that other angst that I was feeling while I was still working so very hard at our friendship.

I feel really foolish. More than foolish, I feel really stupid. I have been holding onto this relationship for so long, it's been so important to me. But it wasn't important to her; not like it was to me. Keeping her friendship was so important to me, and I guess I must have made myself think it was important to her too.

The good news is how much freer I am right now, and how much more able I am to foster the relationships that I currently have. Plus, I'm trying to make a few more.

I think people forget how important friendship is. Not romantic attachment, but true platonic love. Friendship should be a joy, and while all relationships are difficult to keep, friendship is one of those things that's based on mutual interests, compatable personalities, shared experiences, and the best part is that each friend can be a different area of your life. With romantic entanglements, the other person sort of has to cross over all the different facets of who you are, but each friend can represent a different area of who you are.

Well, I have no insights to offer. All this has done is given me a fervent desire to never go through it again ever. Hopefully I can manage that.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I've been surrounded by pregnant people and people with kids lately, and I'm sort of surprised how un-envious I am of their growing families. I figured that my biological clock would turn on at some point, and I'd get baby fever and then my uterus would explode out my chest and start swallowing children or something. But it's not happening to me.

What I am jealous of are people who are in relationships. I really miss male companionship and kissing and all that fun stuff that comes when you have a person in your life. I get really upset with the women I know who are getting involved with men, and the irrational part of me thinks that they did it so easily and that it's not fair. The rational part of me knows that they have struggled just like I have, but the selfish part then steps in and wonders why they got lucky and I didn't.

I should also mention that I never go anywhere or do anything any more. I have a profile on a dating site, but I haven't checked in on it since before Thanksgiving. Realistically you could point out that I'm not doing anything proactive to meet someone. Realistically, you could also shut your freakin' pie hole, sanctimonious jerk. Stop judging me.

(that was a joke.)

(not funny?)

Anyway, it's hard being alone.

There's this guy...he's good looking and nice. I like him. But I don't like him that way. Even if I did, I think my flirting button is somehow broken, and I doubt I could send him any signals even if I wanted to.

I'm sort of pathetic over here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Okay, so I'm going to start a little different. I have no idea if this author is religious or not, but I'm guessing she is, and I'm guessing she's some sort of orthodox--either Eastern or Roman--and religion is totally a focal point in this book. If you thought CS Lewis's allegory was a little obvious, you will think Carson downright heavy-handed. However, I have said before and I will say again that books with actual religious views and backgrounds are totally awesome to me, and I love how authors can incorporate and think of ways for their characters to be superstitious.

Okay, onto the book.

The main character is Lucero-Elisa, who was chosen shortly after her birth to be some sort of great person, as God marks her with a Godstone; a jewel in her bellybutton that countless others througout the ages, every hundred years, have also carried. The problem is that no one actually tries to help Elisa become great. They just leave her to her own devices, and her only companions are older maids who are sweet and everything, but a young girl needs more than that. Elisa turns to food for companionship, and as a result is very heavy and getting heavier every year. Elisa also has a favorite book, The Belleza Guerra, which seems to be an Art of War-meets-Machiavelli sort of book. She quotes it constantly, and every time she does, I'm reminded of Lilo and her assertions about Elvis being a model Hawaiian citizen. I mean, that's how sweet and innocent this character is.

Naturally, she can't stay that way. Princesses have to marry princes or kings, and Elisa is no different. Her father and older sister arrange a marriage on her sixteenth birthday to a king of a neighboring land, and Elisa suddenly finds herself in a different country with all new foods.

Now, Elisa is much different than me. I'm heavy, but Elisa seems to be morbidly obese. She's totally got Such A Pretty Face syndrome, and while I'm on the subject, thank you Rae Carson for a character who is dark haired, dark eyed and dark skinned! And even thank you for making her fat. I just...I'm not like that. I'm heavy, but I don't eat in front of people, and Elisa seems to have no problem with that. She eats, and then she goes back for more, and then she visits the kitchen in the middle of the day and night and afternoon and elevenses. I squirrel away food, particularly sweets, and eat it when no one can see. I know that everyone is different, but most of the fat people I know don't like opening themselves to ridicule by eating out loud like that. Elisa is really pathetic where food is concerned, and while I loved her descriptions of honeyed melons and sugared date balls and scones of all sorts, I started thinking that food is less of a comfort to her and more of an addiction. And that's okay, I just wish there had been more of her eating normally in public and then sneaking off to somewhere else to really dig in and get her "fix".

Now, Elisa's Godstone is sort of in the background in the beginning, but such a thing can't stay hidden. In her new country, King Alejandro decides to keep his marriage to Elisa hidden, and tells her not to reveal her Godstone to anyone. Elisa sort of flounders at this and actually gets proactive and writes her sister a note, and her sister answers and says basically, that if Elisa wants to be queen, she has to make herself queen.

So Elisa hides in her bedroom and eats herself silly.

And I walk into the book and smack her upside the head and shout, "Wake up you idiot!"

The good news is that Elisa begins to proactively attempt to learn more about her Godstone and learns that her sect believes that a Bearer can know nothing about it beforehand, otherwise their service will be tainted, while the sect she is currently in believes in training people. However, Ximena, Elisa's nurse, turns out to be a guardian in Elisa's sect, so Elisa can only do so much while she's around. The father of the temple gives Elisa three Godstones that fell out of their Bearers after they died, and Elisa is left to ponder them...but not for too long because of course she's kidnapped.

Now, I've read books where the heroine starts out heavy and then loses weight for whatever reason, but I've also only read one (1) book where the heroine started out heavy and remained heavy (Hi, Jenny Crusie!). I don't know why an author can't just be okay with the fact that her character is heavy. Now, in this case, Elisa is morbidly obese. She can't walk up a flight of steps without getting tired, and she can't go for an hour without eating. She has a pavlovian response to food and absolutely zero coping mechanisms, so I'm okay with her transformation. Particularly since the transformation, while physical, is mostly mental. Elise enters the desert a squishy creature with no discernable skeletal structure and emerges with a backbone firmly in place. It takes months and it's heartbreaking for her. But finally, finally, she sheds her skin and is transformed. Her obsession with food is still firmly in place, but it starts taking a backseat to her obsession with learning about people. Not from a book or from a place of superiority over them, but as an equal to them. She starts learning how to make friends by being a friend and how to get respect by giving it. She also learns what it means to be a part of a community, and that being a ruler means knowing your people. Lastly, she learns what love really is, and that she can't live without it.

In fairy tales, transformation happens usually in a forest, but for Elisa, she must enter the desert. She even starts learning more about the Godstone (oh yeah, that) and how to use it to save her people.

In all, I was very happy with this story, though it is more "young" than "adult". There are going to be two more books, but I'm not sure if I'll read them. Not that this book wasn't enjoyable, but I'm not sure I can handle Elisa again. I'm glad she transformed, but she started out the book a virgin bride, and she ended a virgin bride. Sure, I get that her husband wasn't all that, and that she fell in love with someone else, she's been through a huge transformation both physical and mental, and I don't think she should have just hopped into bed with Alejandro at the first chance she got, would have given her that last edge. That last facet. She ends being just a virgin who can't drive. And just because I railed against this in Branded by Taylor Keary, I want to say that I don't think people should just go and have sex. I'm in the third Green Rider book, ad Karigan still hasn't lost her virginity, but since there is no emphasis for her on sexual relations, and because she's disinterested in being with anyone other than the guy she is not currently romantically involved in, it doesn't bother me. In both Branded and this book, there is an undercurrent of the heroine just allowing stuff to happen to her rather than her happening to stuff, and sexuality is one of those things that both heroines turn off. Karigan by contrast is very capable of reaching out and taking what she wants, but she stops herself not because she is embarrassed by sex, or because she's not ready, but because she doesn't want to. Both Elisa and Jessica seem to want to have sex, but are embarrassed by it, or shamed by it, or ashamed of their bodies, or whatever is stopping them. In fact, Elisa gets a little mean with Alejandro, and yes, he's not really a likable character, I just wish she had taken more control of the situation in a firmer way. She's a strong heroine in many ways, but in some important ways, she flounders and...again, I'm not sure I care to read more.

Overall, I'll give it a B.

Edit: I almost forgot. In regards to Elisa and her Godstone, there are all sorts of people after her. One of the sects of the church feels that Elisa is not important, but her Godstone is. Alejandro clearly thinks she can use it to help him lead the war that is coming. The people who kidnap Elisa believe that the Godstone will help them win the war that they are already in the thick of, and the people who are bringing the war think that Elisa will help them prevail. Everyone says that it's the will of God. This, that, the other thing, is the will of God. Except Elisa. She is the only person who shows doubt, and she discusses her doubt both internally and with a Father that she has befriended. She doesn't know the will of God, and at times even doubts His existence. This is pretty awesome coming from someone with a supernatural stone stuck in her bellybutton. I loved her doubts because it made her a real character, and it also held up a mirror, so to speak, for my own beliefs to challenge me on them. (Again, there is religion in this book, so you're either okay with that or you're not.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More tales from the OCD cat front

I haven't been posting because I haven't felt well, and that tends to lead to a lot of navel-gazing and complaining. And seriously, who wants to hear about that? Not me.

So, the past several days, I have finished reading the second book of The Green Rider Series, and another YA novel that was very heavy on the Y and not so heavy on the A, but I will be reviewing it soon.

This weekend, one of my cousins came up to visit. She had to drive to LAX to pick up a friend, so she parked on our sofa Sunday night. I'm about an hour and a half (or more, depending on traffic) from LAX, but she's in San Diego, which is like, three and a half hours away, so it was best for her to camp out with me and just go from there.

Now, I've mentioned that my cat is OCD to a certain level. His breed, Russian Blue, does not like change at all. Like, claws buried in the wall, not gonna move, hate change, period. But...I wasn't expecting his reaction to Anna staying over. He kept coming up to me and meowing at me, and then pacing and walking back and forth.

Monday morning, we all got up and left, Anna went her way, I went mine, Chekhov stayed at home. I got home that afternoon, not feeling well, and saw that the sofa was still made up and thought that it seemed like a good idea to just lay down and take a nap. Chekhov usually loves it if I do this and joins me, but he didn't on Monday. My mom got home that evening, also not feeling well (you have no idea how difficult it is to accomodate the flu when there is only one bathroom in the house...) and noticed Chek acting weird. She said, "I think he's upset about the sofa still being made up," and I agreed, so I took off the sheets and put them in the laundry hamper, and suddenly I had a new cat on my hands who couldn't wait to spend the evening with us.

You know; people think pets are stupid, and I'm not saying they aren't. Really I'm not. In fact, I think this whole situation shows up just how very stupid my cat is.

And yet...and yet...

Monday, April 16, 2012


I hate it when I suspect someone is being untruthful. I always feel bad, because I'm such a cynic and a misanthrope that I tend to think the worst of people right off the bat. Most people prove me wrong, but every now and then, someone really just sticks in my craw.

In the case of Munchausen-By-Internet, I always ignore it because...well, it probably isn't hurting anyone. I mean, if someone is threatening suicide or pretending to have cancer or something, that's one thing. A lot of Munchausen-By-Internet is just attention mongering in a persistent but harmless way.

Currently, though, I've noticed a pattern in someone. Maybe it helps that I don't read their blog very often, because I think when you're invested in someone enough that you read their blog every day, it's probably a case of slowly acclimating to the drama. But I rarely read this person's blog, and yet everytime I check in on them, some odd thing is happening. It's not always a crisis or an illness, but there is always a feeling of contrived coincidence when I read her posts. Sort of like how everyone on the show 7th Heaven was always going through the same issue at the same time (everyone has a nickname! Everyone has a Muslim friend! Everyone wants to say I Love You to someone else!).

I felt bad the first time I thought that about this person. I said to myself, "She's been through a lot. Of course her writing appears clinical and detached. She probably doesn't want to relive the hurt." or "this must be a pastiche of many different events that she's piecing together. That's a valid author strategy." But lately, it's been more, "Yes, this has a probability of happening all at once in one family..."

My belief has been suspended more times than I can count. And it's not that what this blogger is saying is so very, very weird, it's just that everything taken on the whole combined with their odd writing style and unending coincidental issues makes me think that they could be a fraud.

Whistle blowers on the internet are almost always vilified. Cassandra Claire plagiarized? Oh, you're just jealous that she thought of it first! MsScribe made up an entire life and nanny? You're so horrible. The Smart Bitches out Cassie Edwards as a Plagiarizer? Again, they are jealous and mean, bitter women who wish they could write a book and get published!

I'm not going to say who this person is...I mean, there's always a probability that I'm wrong. I hope so, because if they are lying, then they are lying about some very important things that could hurt a lot of people if it comes out. I can only caution that if someone has a history of drama, especially if the drama escalates in a slow but steady rhythm, be very careful.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review: The Green Rider by Kristin Britain

I just need to say first, even though no one reads this blog, that I really enjoyed this book. It was very good, well paced, and interesting. I loved it. I am, however, going to snark a bit on it and compare it to JRR Tolkien, but I do really like this book, and I got the second part of the series on my Kindle, I just haven't started reading it yet.

Okay, so, the main character is Karigan G'ladheon. No, seriously. That seems familiar, doesn't it? Hmm...I don't know. Anyway, Karigan starts out the book on a journey, which I appreciated after reading about three hundred pages of Frodo wandering around the Shire, I was happy to pick up a book where the heroine is already on her way.

The author really made me happy with her pacing here, because I have read a few books (namely Twilight, but a few others) where the heroine is running away from whatever, and keep us in suspense for ages while she angsts about her decision. "Was she doing the right thing? Could she go through with it even though it was endangering everyone she loved? Le sigh!" Karigan keeps us in no suspense. She's running away from school because she got kicked out for having bad grades and beating up a young lordling. Mostly for the beating up a young lordling part. In her defense, he was asking for it. Rather than wait around for her father to come and collect her, Karigan instead decides to just set off for home, alone, without a horse, with very few provisions, and on foot. As you do.

Now, Karigan's reasons are pretty sound for doing this. She maybe should have left a note or told someone, but she's seventeen. Her reasons are that her dad is a merchant, and she doesn't want to take him away from his business while he goes to collect her because she doesn't want to lose him any money, and she's pretty sure she'll do that if he comes after her.

She's just about to turn on the road that will take her home when a Green Rider comes through the trees with two black arrows in his back. He forces her to promise, with his last breaths, to take his message to the king, and gives her everything he has on him for her protection. And now suddenly, Karigan is whisked into a world where magic is real, Eletians (sylvan elves) exist, and a mysterious gray-cloaked man is killing all of the green riders with two arrows to the back. The Green Rider, F'ryan Cobblebay (you can't make this stuff up), also leaves Karigan with his greatest assets; a gold pin that shows a winged horse, and a horse that can run like it's flying. The Horse, as Karigan calls him, quickly becomes my favorite character.

The descriptions, characterizations, and various adventures are really wonderful and very nearly distract from Karigan's meeting with the Tom Bombadil and Goldberry: two spinster sisters called (again, can't make this up) Bayberry and Bunchberry. There's also the Shelob part where a gigantic scorpion-like creature comes out of the woods of, Blackveil. Mornhavon the Black created Blackveil centuries ago in order to rule Sacoridia with dark magic, but the Sacoridians managed to construct a wall to keep him out, and his immortal spirit now dwells in the Blackveil forest. But The Grey Cloaked One (not to be confused with Saruman the White) decided to open the wall, and now creatures are getting out. There's some sort of brand of Orc that I think they called shadowmites, but I can't remember, that go around and fight people, so now that the D'Yer wall has been breached, they're getting out and causing havoc.

Bayberry and Bunchberry give Karigan a "moonstone", a stone that has a captured moonbeam in it, and it lights Karigan's way when she's feeling down, heals her when she's injured, and eventually helps defeat, The Grey One. I mean, I'm not saying that she's necessarily copying Galadriel catching the light of Earendil in a vial of water for Frodo, but come on. It's hard to not compare this book to Lord of the Rings.

Now, one of my biggest issues with LOTR was the pacing. I felt that Tolkien really needed an editor and badly, so I was happy when Karigan managed to deliver the missive to the king before the end of the book (took the One Ring to Mordor...), and I really did enjoy this book. If I had never read LOTR, I would have thought this author was a genius. I still think she's quite clever. She's nowhere near as clunky and contrived as that horrid rip-off, Eragon, but less maybe could have been more. When the giant scorpion came out, I was like, "And there's Shelob."

I think what made this author successful where other authors have failed is that firstly, Kristin Britain did not write a fanfiction. She made her own characters and gave them their own motivations, desires, backstories, and worlds. Even the Mean Evil Baddies have backstories, and I think most authors just go by tropes rather than plots and characters where we're supposed to hate the people they say to hate and like the people they say to like, but Britain gives us the greatest gift writing can give us: not only are the "bad" characters well developed, but in their own world, are "good" characters, rendering Karigan and her side "bad" if you look at the kingdom in the correct light. And the "bad" side, even though some people's motivations were less than pure, had a point. You see, when the old king died, he named his second son as the successor rather than the first. This is not done. Second sons don't get the throne unless the older son dies, that is the way of things. So really, the old king made his second son's life somewhat of a misery. There have been assassination attempts, uprisings, the anti-monarch society, etc. all because the line of succession was thrown out of whack. So taken that way, really, Karigan is in the wrong by serving the king. You see? And those that are trying to make the elder brother king are really in the right. This author does that. And it's brilliant.

I totally have to give this book an A. Even with the not-so-subtle homages to Tolkien, it was excellent and I'm looking forward to finally reading the second saga.

Oh--as a PS. There is no romance in this book. Karigan is a strong woman on her own. Yes.

Edit: I did a google search of "greenrider lotr" and found a lot of other people comparing the two. It's funny how we all have different ideas of who the Tom Bombadil was. One reviewer pointed out a woodsman who appears later on in the book for a brief time and seems to have lived a very long life. I agree that he was a more etheric spirit, but my reasons for thinking that Bayberry and Bunchberry were supposed to be Tom and Goldberry was simply because their showing up towards the beginning and giving Karigan some rest and help made me think of Tom. Someone also pointed out the gigantic eagle who came to Karigan's aid during the gigantic-scorpion-who-is-totally-not-Shelob incident, and I had sort of forgotten about him. In a way he reminded me of Radagast the Brown's eagles, but it's also hard to decide whether Britain was going for more general mythology or Tolkien mythology. Either way, it is a lot like LOTR, but it's also like some other fairy tales where eagles and other large "good" birds come and help. I mean, even CS Lewis had owls helping Eustace and Jill.

So, anyway, all that to say, there are a lot of people comparing the two, but I haven't read anyone who hasn't enjoyed the books so far. This book was seriously excellent, and I hope the second book is more able to stand on its own mythos and not borrow so very heavily from one of the most well-known fantasy books out there.

Another edit: in all fairness, I should point out that I know LOTR is based on The Volsunga Saga and also "Der Ring Des Niebelungenleid", an ancient story told from both the Swedish and German perspectives, (and it's so great because The Volsunga Saga makes Brunnhildr out to be the scorned woman whilst Der Ringe Des Niebelungenleid makes Krimhildt out to be the sympathetic character who is being used as a puppet in her brother's machinations. When you realize that both are contemperaneous, it will blow your mind.) There's a reforging of a father's sword, a cursed ring, two women in love with the same that's pretty much it story-wise. Tolkien admitted to borroing heavily from Teutonic mythos, and it's not surprising that his world was called "middle earth" (Midgard), and that there were elves and dwarves...the elves even believe that their kind is waiting in The Halls of Mandos to be reborn, sort of like the slain warriors wait in Valhalla for Ragnarok. Heck, Gandalf's appearance very closely resembles the way Odin cloaks himself when he walks among humans. It really is an excellent representation of how to take existing mythos and make it your own. Likewise, Lois McMaster Bujold will take known historical events and create her own world around them in the same way that George RR Martin is using The War of the Roses to write his Game of Thrones saga. It's sort of like how two families can live in two exact copies of a house, and yet they both look completely different inside.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Just get over it"

Have you ever noticed that the victim in a situation is always told to get "over it"? Not past it, not beyond it, but over it. They are also asked to forgive and forget.

The thing about really bad situations is that it's not only impossible to forget, but sometimes we don't want to. The question should always be, "How do I keep myself from being in this situation again?" When it was abuse that the victim went through, I think this is doubly so.

April is National Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, and while I've never been a victim of sexual abuse, I do want to stand in solidarity with people who have been. I don't know what they've been through, but I do know that it was not their fault and that their perpetrator is a severely disturbed human being.

Sexual assault is not a sexually gratifying act. Or, it may be, but that is not the required end result of a perpetrator. Sexual assault and abuse is about controlling another person. It is not a respecter of gender, race, religious affiliation, country of origin, or nationality. The victims of sexual assault are not chosen for what they wear, but for their present vulnerability. A young woman walking across campus at two in the morning. A young child afraid of the dark. A teenaged boy going through all kinds of hormonal changes without the life experience to back them up. Someone who is easy to control. Someone who can't fight back. Someone who will blame themselves. "I shouldn't have worn this dress!" "It's my fault for being afraid." "I knew it was wrong, but she wouldn't stop touching me."

I hate the "I couldn't help myself" excuse. "She wanted it until the very last, and then she started fighting. It was too late for me." I once heard a man, who had been sexually abusing his daughter since she was a baby, say that she started wanting it. When everyone left, she would just go to him. You know those five-year-olds. They're so seductive and sexy.

Sexual abuse needs to be talked about. When a girl is drugged unconscious, raped, and then her perpetrators put their cigarettes out on her arms and other body parts, put it on tape, go to court, and then their defense attorney suggests that the girl is complicit and just feigning sleep, there is a problem.

Victims are victims, period. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is not their fault. Wearing the wrong clothes has nothing to do with it. Trying to say that all teenaged boys want twenty-something older women hitting on them and having sex with them is not addressing the fact that he was violated and that it was wrong of that woman to even look at him.

We need to all stand together and remember that the victim is the one that needs our sympathy and protection. Not the perpetrator.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What we owe our furred and feathered friends

Today's Dear Abby upset me. A lady wrote in about her chihuahua because she can't decide if she should put him to sleep, or have him move to another state with her. Her reasoning was that he was old and she was worried that the change from Florida to New York would be too much for him. My first response was, "Dude, buy the dog a damn sweater and be done with it!" A few minutes later, I was thinking about how guilty she'd feel if the dog died in New York after only a few months of winter, but then I thought that she'd feel even guiltier if she were to put him to sleep now and then think about how much she missed him later.

The thing about animals is, that we're all they've got. We have jobs and hobbies and families and friends that take us out of the house every day, and while we're gone, our pets sit and wait for us to come home. When we do, they are excited, but I think a lot of people misinterperet their response to our homecoming. My guinea pigs would wheek for lettuce or a treat of some sort, my cat wants me to turn on the bathroom sink for him to drink, my bird wants me to chirp at him (he kisses, I kiss, etc. for several's cute...), my brother's dog will grab one of your shoes and greet you with it (she never greets you empty-mouthed), and my grandparent's dog used to demand pets and loves, just like my old cat used to do. I think a lot of people think that pets do these things because they're treating us like their meal tickets or personal ear massage slaves, but the truth is that we've been gone for a long time, or you know, however long it takes to get the mail downstairs, but we've been gone. Your pet wants affirmation that you still love him. He wants those scratches, those kisses, that faucet turned on, because it shows him that you were not gone because he was a bad boy, but because you just had to go out for a while. You're good with each other, bro. Really.

It's really easy, when you're out until midnight with your bestie, watching the premier of the movie that you've been looking forward to for ages, to forget that your pet doesn't have that. Your pet is confined to the house and the garden/balcony/whatever outside place you have, and they have no friends of their own species to hang out with. When you leave, your cat is not going to go hit up the kitty across the way and have a cup of tea while discussing the current financial crisis. No, he goes and lays on your pajamas because they smell like you, and you are his god.

And someone is thinking of repaying this loyalty by putting him to sleep?

I put my last cat to sleep because of health problems. Her kidneys were failing, and there was nothing I could do, but I still wonder if there was something I could have done differently. Both of my guinea pigs died after long lives and plenty of love, and I still wonder if I could have done more for them.

Thank goodness that little hateful bird is still going strong. (I love you, Rain. You know it.)

Animals give us so much and they ask for so little in return. So what if your piggy wants a carrot every time you open the refrigerator door? You know it's not good for him, but you also know that you can pluck off a sprig of mint or basil and that will make him happy. So what if your cat wants you to take five seconds to give his head a pat when you walk through the door? Yes, you are tired and probably had a really bad day at work, but so did he if you think about it.

Think about it. They aren't stuffed animals, they are real, living beings, and they deserve our respect and love and consideration. They aren't disposable. You will never have another Whiskers, Woodstock, Rain, Chekhov or Oskar again. Give them a chance.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is not a book review. I don't think I could review this book because anything I could say about its brilliance and power would fall short of the true meaning of the book. However, in light of the fact that my uterus, and every other uterus in America, has suddenly become a stomping ground for both of the "big political parties" in America, I have been thinking about it a lot.

Firstly, Republicans, my uterus is none of your business. What goes on inside of it, or what doesn't go on inside of it, has nothing to do with you. What I put into my body to stop embryo implantation is no more your business than your Viagra usage is any of my business. Besides, don't you have a men's bathroom to hang out in? Tap your foot, reach for the toilet paper?

Secondly, Democrats, my uterus is not a place for you to plant a flag to make yourselves look so much better. "Hey, we support your rights to use birth control!" I have never heard any of you supporting a man's right to use a damn condom, so no matter how you slice it, you are using my uterus to win votes.

This reminds me a lot of the "gay" marriage debates. As one brilliant man put it, "I don't want gay marriage. I just want marriage. I don't wake up in the morning and have gay coffee." I don't wake up in the morning and take a female shower, then take a female allergy pill and go off in my female car to my female job.

This isn't about "women's rights." It's about the right to be a human being. I don't need anyone telling me that they support my biological functions. I support my own biological functions. I don't need permission to do that.

I don't think that the world will ever go the way of The Handmaid's Tale simply because there are too many people who oppose what the "Religious Right" are saying about my uterus; however I still feel that there are too many people patting my uterus on the head and saying, "That's okay. You'll be all right. We'll take care of this."

In The Handmaid's Tale, Offred was never allowed to talk about male sterility. No one was. It was not an idea that entered into the consciousness of society. A man might be given five or ten handmaidens, and if they were unable to produce a child, it was their fault, not the man's. Similarly, right now birth control is a woman's issue despite the fact that HBC only protects against unwanted pregnancy, not STD's or HIV, and that it should be considered just the first line of defense against unwanted pregnancy alone. After that, there should be a condom to protect against STD's and HIV. If HBC is being taken only to prevent unwanted pregnancy in heterosexual relationships, then there is a responsibility on both parties to prevent that pregnancy. As it stands, most women take HBC to deal with many other issues, including horomone regulation, PMDD treatment, bleeding irregularity, and other mood and physical issues that arise in an ovulating female. HBC is actually a female-specific drug to treat hormonal issues whose side effects often, but not always, prevent unwanted pregnancy.

In The Handmaid's Tale, what started all of the issues in America was a birthrate drop-off. People weren't having children. There didn't seem to be any reason for it, either, or if there was the government wasn't talking about it. We don't have a birthrate drop-off in America. If anything, people should stop having babies and start adopting already. There are so many unwanted children out there that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Why aren't the politicians addressing that issue? As it is, my body instead has become a battleground with one side trying to take over, and the other side fighting them off, and I'm supposed to be grateful to the side that's fighting them off and I suppose I am to a degree. I just can't stop thinking, though, that if it was an issue about viagra and prostate cancer and vasectomies that there just wouldn't be an issue in the first place. Women are just lucky we can vote, right?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Migraine, meet Insomnia...

A few years ago, I was having an issue with my body. I would get insomnia about a week before my period, and then the week of my period, I would get a really bad migraine. This lasted for about a year, and then just as mysteriously as the condition came about, it stopped.

Well, it's back. Well, not entirely like last time; last week I had a migraine, got my period, and then this week I'm dealing with insomnia. Looking back, this was all preceded by about a week of extreme exhaustion.

Yes, I'm going to talk to a doctor. I know they're supposed to have all the answers, but I'm a bit sceptical at the moment.

Anyway, I'm just sitting here, fixing every other word that I type because I'm so tired that I can't even do that right any more. I have lab tonight after biology. I hope I don't screw anything up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The bloody finger

I've been trying to purge some no-longer-necessary file folders from my work this last week and a half. I find it cathartic, and I seem to be the only one who wants to do it, so I've been diving in at will. I have totally messed up the middle finger of my left hand, though. It started with a ripped cuticle, and then it has gone to the point where I actually had gushing blood on Monday. I've put a bandaid on it, and so far I've been better. Unfortunately, the bandaid seems to be taking the brunt of the attack, so I have to change it a few times a day. These file folders are brutal, really.

It reminds me of a story about my grandma, who died almost three years ago.

About ten years ago, the year my cousin realized she was pregnant with the first great-grandchild of the family, we all decided to try and start a tradition that really quickly fizzled out by renting a cabin in Big Bear for Christmas. I sort of wish it had caught on, but it didn't. It was a fun year, though.

My grandma had hurt her finger in a similar fashion, and just like me now, she kept re-injuring herself. One of my cousins said she needed to go into the town to pick up some things from the pharmacy, and since there was really nothing else to do, there was soon a sizable party waiting to head "into town" and get a feel for the place. Grams asked Cuz to pick up some finger cots for her, and Cuz was like, "What is that? What if they don't have them?" Grams was pretty insistant that they would have them, and lo and behold, they did. My cousin came out of the pharmacy laughing and blushing and just having a good time. I didn't know why. I didn't know what a finger cot was.

Back at the cabin, Cuz walked up to Grams and said, "Boy, the pharmacist sure wanted to know what I needed these for!" and then laughed.

My grandma, god bless her, was just confused. "Why?" she asked, full of innocence. "He should have known what they were for."

Then I got a look at them.

Ribbed for your pleasure. Protection. Whatever.

My uncle chuckled, my cousins and I made jokes. My mom and her sister rolled their eyes but laughed when they thought we weren't looking. Things were said about Pregnant Cousin not needing them for a while. In all, the finger cots gave us a lot of enjoyment one night in Big Bear.

About three months before Grams died, my mom, her brother and sister and sister-in-law and I all got together and were moving Grams from one place to another. She never made it to the other place; she was sent to the hospital and never made it out, so it was good that we started cleaning her out so soon. I was in the kitchen, emptying out box after box of hoarded saltine packets and jelly pods while the others were taking care of the rest of the flat. My aunt-in-law was in the bathroom finding similarly hoarded stashes of hospital-sized toothpastes, deoderants, and hotel-sized tubes of soap when suddenly she let out a laugh and walked into the living room. "Mike," she said to my uncle. "Can you please explain why your mother has a box of condoms in the bathroom?" My mom and aunt came out to take a look and I let out a laugh as I rolled one onto my finger. "At least she was safe," my uncle said with a laugh.

We all remembered that Christmas and Cuz being forced to buy them.


I want a cheese danish so badly right now. I really do. I wonder if Weight Watchers makes a sort of danish? I should look into that. It wouldn't be the same, but I totally want one.

I have a lot on my plate right now, and yet I don't really. Most of what I have going on is in my head. I'm still dealing with cutting A out of my life, and then there's my stepmother, who has been blocked from seeing my Facebook status for almost a year now, and I'm thinking of unblocking her. Thinking of unblocking her makes me think of A, who had blocked me from her Facebook status, but when I asked her about it, she gave me some BS excuse about how she didn't realize it.

Yeah. I...probably need to stop thinking about it, but it's hard. I get angry with her, and I think I'm better prepared to talk about my feelings right now. Blocking me from seeing her Facebook wasn't the only lie she told, as I've said. And yet she kept acting like I was the one she had to protect herself from.

I spent so much of my life being told that my feelings and needs weren't important. I spent so much time taking the blame and responsibility for other people hurting me because I always figured it was somehow my fault. Now that I'm older and in better mental health, I try not to feel that way, but it's a hard habit to break. When she told me that I wasn't "safe" for her to be around, it made me sad at that time, but now I'm angry about it. The whole reason we were having trouble in the first place was because she was treating me badly and I called her on it, but somehow it got twisted to me hurting her when the opposite was true. I fell into the trap again and I felt guilty again for a while until I remembered.

I just really want a danish. I mean, I might be eating my emotions, but at this point I don't care. I think I need a danish.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Freedom is just another word for nothin left to lose

You really understand what true first world problems are when you tell an ex-pat of a "third world" country that you're planning on quitting your fancy government job with tons of security in order to go to school full time and pursue a job that you don't even know if you can get within the next five years, and their reaction is shock and horror. "You have a full-time job with benefits and you're going to quit!?" she almost shrieked. "Why?!" It reminded me of Office Space when Samir was like, "I would love to have that kind of job security!" when Peter was like, "We're going to be here until we DIE!"

(Also: Samir Naga...Naghan...Nagannabehereanymore!)

(I love Office Space a little too much, but I'm okay with that.)

The thing is, I know it's stupid, and I'm actually more than likely going to cash in a tax-deferred account that I've had for the last fourteen years (it should have close to 20,000.00 on it right now, though, so I'm thinking it might just help me out...) that I should be saving for my retirement, and oh yeah, I'm giving up my current retirement benefits and it would probably be best if I just stayed here. Really. One of my coworkers even noted that I'll probably be offered a better job when I go to quit, and maybe five years ago I would have taken it. But now, what am I supposed to do? This is what I want. I'm not going to lose my retirement, I'm just not going to be paying into it any more, and yes the loss of the tax-deferred account is going to be really harsh, and I'm more than likely never going to be able to make that up again.

But to sacrifice it to do something I love and am passionate about...Why would I want to retire?

I do indeed have first-world problems. I live in the first-world, I'm not going to lie about that. I have this opportunity, why wouldn't I take it? If I have to eat food off of my plate that I'm not particularly happy about because there are starving children in Africa/China/French Indochina, then why wouldn't I go get an education for a job that I love when there are women in Africa/China/Malaysia who are never going to get this chance?