Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thoughts about Dexter.

My mom and I have had a night every week since like 2006 that we call Gilmore Girl Night. Every Thursday we watch several episodes of a couple of different shows. It started with "Gilmore Girls" of course, but it has also included "FRIENDS", "Will & Grace" and most recently we agreed to finally endure the entire run of each of our respective Favorite Shows of All Time. You know what MY favorite show is, of course, and my mom is enjoying it WAY more than she thought she would. My mom's Favorite Show of All Time is "Dexter". Being that it has less episodes in it than "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" we've already finished it and I have a few thoughts.



I enjoyed the show. A lot. I really didn't think a show about a serial killer's inner monologue would be that endearing to me. I went through the Serial Killer Phase in high school (American Psycho and Exquisite Corpse being two of my favorite items of serial killer fiction) and I'm pretty much over the romance of that whole thing.

The inner monologue of the main character, Dexter Morgan, was pretty heavy-handed pretty much all the time, but I got used to it and eventually found it endearing. The constant appearances of the apparition of Harry, Dexter's deceased father, were a never-ending source of frustration. Every time Harry appeared onscreen I yelled, "Shut the fuck up, Harry!" I wish they would have phased this aspect of the show out.

Overall, the show's plotlines, though often as heavy-handed in bald symbolism as Dexter's inner monologue, made sense to me and kept me interested.

***SPOILERS after the gif of Deb.***


However, I came away from the entire 8 seasons of the show ONLY caring about 3 characters: Debra Morgan (Dexter's sister), Dexter, and Angel Batista (eventually Lieutenant of Homicide where Deb and Dex work). Several other characters throughout the series I was SUPPOSED to care about, I never did. I never cared about LaGuerta or Hannah or Rita really either, though I don't hate her as much as my mom does. I HATE Harry. Masuka was present throughout the entire series and depth was never added to him, unless you count his surprise daughter showing up in the last season, and I DON'T. 8 whole years of a show and I only care about three characters?! That's sad. Several casting decisions in the show were bad ones, though generally the show is racially diverse and the female-to-male ratio isn't atrocious.

As characters go, Jennifer Carpenter as Debra and Michael C. Hall as Dexter were the best choices casting made. They blew their wads on these two, and I'm glad they did. Both of them consistently delivered believable performances and a range of emotion most actors couldn't deliver. Their performances singlehandedly kept me interested. They both deserve armloads of awards for this show if they didn't get them.

I feel like the show's writers consistently asked only two questions when writing the scripts for each episode: "What else can Dexter get away with?" and "What else can we put Debra through?"

EVERY SINGLE EPISODE has Debra being put through a load of ridiculous bullshit most normal people wouldn't live through with their sanity intact, both emotionally and physically. Conversely, each episode involves Dexter getting away with murder in the nick of time and the suavest of schemes. He is forever the golden child while Debra deals with his fallout, most of the show while not knowing her brother is a serial killer. I kind of hate him for everything he put Deb through and thankfully, he hates himself for that too.

So in the very last episode Deb dies and Dexter takes her out on his boat and dumps her in the water. He did kill her, but only in the pulling-the-plug way of her being braindead from a stroke caused by a gunshot that wouldn't have happened without Dexter, though he's not the one that shot her. He then steers his boat into a frickin' hurricane attempting to kill himself, thus abandoning his girlfriend and son. Then, epilogue time! Somehow this hurricane doesn't kill him and the last shot of the show is him dressed as a lumberjack (hawt red beard) hiding out on some fisherman island somewhere.

This is the last shot of the entire series.
On one hand, I get the ending. The entire run of the show was a journey toward humanity, not happiness. Dexter didn't think of himself as a real human until the end of the series when he was planning a move to Argentina with his son Harrison and girlfriend Hannah wherein presumably he would no longer need to kill, because he now has love and family in his life. But he couldn't live with himself for letting Deb die. He ruined her life consistently throughout the series and things were just beginning to turn around for her as he was preparing to exit from her life (save for her occasional future visits to Argentina). It couldn't have ended with him being with his son and girlfriend forever while Deb moved on with her life, and DEFINITELY couldn't have ended with Dex happy while Deb is dead. I think it makes sense that his life as he knows it ends with her. But no one knew Hannah had Harrison (because she's a serial killer too, and on the run). They were waiting for Dexter in Argentina when he calls her from the boat (!! all the time Dexter was making phone calls from that boat...yeah, right, like there would EVER be reception out there!!) to tell her and Harrison he'd be there soon and that he loves them, etc. And no one knew Dexter unplugged Deb and took her out of the hospital. So what does everyone think when Dexter's boat is found and he is presumed dead? Do they assume Deb was with him? Do they assume Harrison was with them? WTF? Poor Batista. Poor Hannah. Poor Harrison. Poor Quinn (Deb's boyfriend). Poor Dexter. POOR DEB! I loved her the most! So much tragedy and loss in this series but also worth it, I think.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The 79cent therapist, #347

A long time ago I read in a book about journaling that a journal (namely, any one subject notebook that probably costs 79 cents) can be your therapist. I've been a believer in the concept ever since. There's nothing in my life I haven't been able to gain insight from by writing it out. I may not solve an issue, but any stack of papers with room to scribble upon has the capacity to begin a psychological healing journey.

We all have some forgotten half-filled notebook somewhere in our desk drawers, right? And surely everyone has a cup with pens and pencils in it. Of course one can just as easily use a typewriter or a word document on their computers if typing is your preferred mode of writing.

The hardest part is getting started. Deciding to sit and write is the biggest hurdle to using your 79cent therapist, but you CAN jump it. You don't have to have a goal. Just write. See what comes out. For me, I adopt a superhero mentality when journaling. By that I mean I pretend I'm Buffy or some other super, often mythological, version of myself. This allows me to not blame myself in my writings to myself. It allows me to explore the idea that things aren't my fault and then work problems from the angle of that assumption.

For you maybe your writings can be directed as letters to yourself or to another person in your life, even if you'll never give them the letters. Or maybe you want to write fictionalized versions of what happened in your day, or maybe you just want to document how your day went in one sentence per day. Maybe you burn your journals after you write them, choosing never to actually read them back to yourself. Maybe you create a blog that no one knows the username to and post your darkest thoughts to the internet publicly.

It's your inanimate therapist. Use it however you like.

Friday, January 9, 2015

MixtressRae's Top Ten Shoes of all time.

I've had an idea formulating in my brain for some time now. An idea of minimalism. An idea of comfort. An idea of quality footwear. The idea is that I really only need 10 pairs of shoes. That it doesn't behoove my wish-I-was-a-minimalist heart to have more than that. That if I can suss out the good quality shoes for all seasons and situations, I would never have to think about acquiring shoes again, save for hunting down a replacement pair every 5-10 years when one of my ten dies the inevitable sole-death.

I've known for months WHAT these categories of shoes will be. I created rules of shoe conduct for myself months ago as well, but it wasn't until last week that the final essential category of shoes was acquired. Now I can begin my life of shoe minimalism.

The rules are thus:

1) From now on I will only acquire replacements for the shoes in my top ten categories of shoes.
2) I don't have to get rid of any of the extraneous pairs I already own (four or five pairs of heels and wedges I only wear for brief periods of painful-feet inertia), but when those shoes perish they are gone forever.
3) I've decided not to count slippers as shoes, though I will probably always have a pair of those for the cold months trudging about the house, plus that backup pair I keep clean to take with me to Jill's because she makes me take my shoes off in her house. Hippy!

I'm pretty proud of this idea of shoe frugality. I will feel like some sort of zen monk of feetness following the silly rules I've set for myself. Each pair of these shoes (except #10 which is just a category that can't be avoided) has been thoughtfully chosen and will be well-loved. Here's my countdown:

#10 -- Category: Flip Flops
Function: for the pool or the beach only
Brand Preference: cheap
Brand of Current Pair: ??
Lifetime Estimation: until the ferret chews them into a new shape or hides one or both of them permanently.
#9 -- Category: Heels
Function: for a night out of fancy dress and minimal movement, or maybe photography situations
Brand Preference: cheap 
Brand of Current Pair: Solanz (I think it's a Shoe Carnival brand)
Lifetime Estimation: probably forever because I wear heels like once a year for an hour, mayyyybe
#8 -- Category: Flats
Function: pair of basic slip-on shoes for work 
Brand Preference: sturdy
Brand of Current Pair: cushe
Lifetime Estimation: 1-3 years
#7 -- Category: Brown Boots
Function: for earth-tone outfits that don't match my superior pair of Doc Martens black boots
Brand Preference: none
Brand of Current Pair: Target
Lifetime Estimation: 1 year (I really like these boots so when they wear out I'm going to take them to a professional to see if they can be resoled.)
#6 -- Category: Running Sneakers
Function: workout/run
Brand Preference: well-rated budget trail running shoe
Brand of Current Pair: New Balance Women's 110 Trail
Lifetime Estimation: 3-5 years
#5 -- Category: Hardcore Boot
Function: hiking, snow-trudging, outdoor work, cleaning out your house after a tornado, lumberjacking your yard after an ice storm destroyed all your trees, etc
Brand Preference: Vegetarian Shoes 
Brand of Current Pair: Vegetarian Shoes; this particular pair has steel toes and was bought 11 years ago with barely ANY wear to the soles. Definitely worth the high price tag.
Lifetime Estimation: forever
#4 -- Category: Mary Jane
Function: work, cuteness
Brand Preference: Doc Martens 8065 Mary Jane
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: a couple of decades, at least...I'm hoping
#3 -- Category: Everyday Sneakers
Function: everyday comfort (especially in temperate seasons)
Brand Preference: Converse Low Top
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: 2 years
#2 -- Category: Sandal
Function: hiking, everyday summer
Brand Preference: Chaco ZX/2
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: forever, though the straps and soles will need replacing every 5 years or so
#1 -- Category: Badass Boots
Function: everyday 
Brand Preference: Doc Martens 1460 Boot
Brand of Current Pair: same
Lifetime Estimation: forever if I can get the soles replaced. I have a backup pair for when the current pair dissolves because I'm THAT obsessed with this shoe.

If you'd like to enter a giveaway for a pair of skeleton high heels and/or see even MORE details about my top ten shoes, see the video below:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

stop. making. sense. // a tattoo story

Last night I was asked if there's a story behind this tattoo. I'm TERRIBLE at telling stories, so this blog is an attempt to tell it better than I did almost 24 hours ago...

When I was a teenager I had a subscription to Alternative Press magazine. Back in the mid-to-late nineties, it covered music that was actually pretty good. They sent out sampler mix CDs every season during 1998. Man, that was so awesome. It was the only year they did it (while I was subscribing, anyway).

One day, I assume because of my subscription to AP, I received a simple postcard in the mail: black background and the word "STOP." in red typeface. Some time later (I think it was a week) I received a second postcard just like it with the word "MAKING."; "SENSE." followed another increment of time later.

I was fascinated. I taped the postcards together and put them on my bulletin board by the computer desk in the dining room. Those postcards moved with me, usually displayed by my desk, until weather took them away from me. I can't find images of them on the internet, but I swear I didn't make them up.

I sometimes have this ability to enjoy things for my own made up reasons without wondering why they were created. The back of the postcards must have explained that they were a promotional tool for a Talking Heads concert DVD being released (1999), but I don't remember wondering what the postcards were advertising. I didn't know it had anything to do with Talking Heads until many years later.

I like Talking Heads. They're my #34 artist according to my last.fm stats. I don't mind the few people that recognize my tattoo as a Talking Heads reference thinking that I got the tattoo because I'm a fan, but I didn't. I've never even seen the concert DVD!

The reasons I was enamored by the postcards and the reasons I got the words tattooed on my arm are entirely because of my personal conceptions of the words and the way they were delivered to my consciousness. I truly enjoyed the anticipation of waiting to "make sense" of what the postcards wanted to tell me. When the final postcard arrived and the idea that it wasn't supposed to make sense was revealed to me, I placed an ironic meaning into it. I kept those postcards as long as I could to remind me not to place meaning in life. No one I've ever talked about these postcards to remembers receiving them. It's the coolest piece of promotional advertisement I've ever seen, though obviously it didn't have the intended effect on me.

I got the tattoo because I no longer have the postcards. I got the meaningless tattoo to remind me of the ultimate meaning of life...that there is no meaning to life...except 42, of course. :)

So that's it. I like Talking Heads, but I like reminding myself not to take anything seriously more. I quite like being a meaningless speck in a gigantic and spectacular universe. There are a lot of us and some of us are pretty cool.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

It's that time again...

To assess the year past and plan for the year future.

A trip to Springfield to see my BFF Kim today started sorting out the analysis. The smoke (or "fog bank of twat mist" if you will--you probably won't, but that's a hilarious phrase I heard last night from a Patton Oswalt comedy special) of my brain cleared and now I know five things about 2015 I didn't know before.

 one  // I'd like to focus on less fragmented attention. For example, when I'm enjoying a bit of entertainment on a television screen, I'd like to not also be checking Instagram and Facebook. When I'm listening to music, I'd like to spend the visual part of my senses reading lyrics, walking, writing in a journal, drawing, or simply sitting in one of the many spaces in my house designed for enjoying sound (attic space, chair by the stereo in the dining room, etc). A scattered attention span can make a person feel spread out like a sticky film...clinging unpleasantly to the world without being OF the world.

 two  // My most important priority this year is friendships and family, especially Kim. She just moved from Florida back to Springfield. Gas is cheap right now. I work part time. Kim is my best friend in the universe and she's close again. It's too easy to let real people slip by as if you have all the time in the world. I could easily spend a day a week with her, and if I do, I'll laugh more, I'll engage with the universe more...a universe with people like her in it. I'm on the precipice of a great era of my life, and I don't want to miss it.

 three // I'd like more music in my life. Not only in quantity, but in quality. I'd like to subscribe to Spotify as many months as I can afford to do so this year. I'd like to spend more time listening to music for the sake of listening to music and reveling in the kind of meditative thoughts that accompany pure listening environments. I'd like to spend more time listening to my iPod, cassettes, CDs, and records instead of listening from devices with distractions (iPhone, Mac). In other words, get to know the 10,000 songs I already own BETTER.

 four  // I'd like to write a lot more than I wrote this year. Namely, I want to create a schedule for updating this blog that includes writing in it at least once a week. I'll put out two or three zines in 2015 too. I'd like to do at least two of the three NaNoWri Months (April, June, and November). I'd like to get back into personal journaling, my "79 cent therapist".

 five  // There are a few things I started this year that I'd like to continue on a more regular basis: I'd like to run two or three times a week. I'd like to put up a video on my YouTube channel at least once or twice a month. I'd like to read at least 40 books. I'd like to continue to put time and effort into the radio station because it's the most rewarding creative project of my life so far and I really love it.

Eventually, I'll start MAKING my own music, but I still don't know if this is the year...if I'm ready. I did open and use GarageBand yesterday for the first time ever to record radio intros with Michael's fancy new microphone. I do consider that step one, but step two could be months off. I don't know if DJing is for me either, but if more opportunities present themselves this year, I'll take them until I know for sure.

I accomplished almost nothing I set out for myself for 2014, but I did a few big things I never planned (new more rewarding job at the library, started the YouTube channel, started the radio station, and I DJed three different gigs). I feel good about 2014 but even better about 2015.

Let's do this!

Monday, October 20, 2014

self-curated creativity

I'd like to get something off my chest. Like most goals I made for myself in 2014, I failed at not buying the new iPhone. In the end, the desire to stay in sync contract-wise with my partner weighed out my determination to accomplish something. And I sort of accomplished something by doing it anyway. The steps I had to follow to get the new iPhone (paying off the 5C, paying for the new iPhone) were expensive upfront, but will save me about $20 a month on my cell phone plan, and that's a good chunk of money. I don't regret it, though I'm now dealing with two other first world problems.

First, my computer is starting a decline. I've already decided upon a solution, and it is a rational one. I will replace the hard drive with a solid-state drive (no moving parts! extremely fast, everyone says) and I will double the memory (RAM) while I've got my dear Honeycrisp under the knife. I will do these upgrades myself armed with the vast knowledge of the internet. If you'd like to help me afford these upgrades, feel free to send some $$ to the PayPal account in the column on your right...scroll down a bit.

Second, my fitbit (pedometer/fitness tracker) has met its end as well. I've had it a year and it will no longer hold a charge longer than 12 hours at the most, meaning I can't properly track my steps!! AAAAAHHH. This shouldn't be a tragedy except that the only reason I go for walks and get my steps EVER is because I get credit for it. That's so unbelievably lame, but it's true. I don't yet know what my solution to this issue will be. I might buy a cheaper fitbit model. I have already emailed the company because I should be within warranty, but I'm not hopeful I'll be able to resolve this the easy way. My new iPhone has a motion processor. It can count my steps, but only when I have the phone on me. So, I could just take the phone with me on walks and runs and call it good. That idea sounds the most rational because it won't cost a thing, but do I ever take the rational route anymore? I feel I've lost my grip on the rational.

Buuuuut, I hadn't meant to whine about which electronics I do and don't need. I meant to talk about something much more positive.

I'd like to talk about one way in which our society's progress has been towards the good. Yes, we have too many screens/too little focus on the world around us. Yes, we're getting older. Yes, our private lives are online, but this has its advantages.

Everyone can do everything these days. If I wanted to publish a book, I know exactly how to do it myself. If I wanted to make music, I'd upload it instantly to soundcloud. 24 hours before my first DJ gig I downloaded software called VirtualDJ, learned a bit about it and used it immediately. If I were an artist, I could sell my stuff on any number of websites without any intermediaries aside from the web services themselves. If I wanted to make movies, I could use my phone and an internet connection to upload them to YouTube.

When I decided to create a radio station, I downloaded a program (later had to pay a licensing fee to use the program beyond the trial period), signed up for a free server (later decided to pay $17 every three months for a server capable of being listed on shoutcast directories...so I could be on the Tune In app) and started broadcasting. It took a lot of research to get everything working together, but I finally got it up and running and it's my favorite thing I've done all year.

A person doesn't need a record executive anymore to get their sound heard. A person doesn't need a gallery to get their art seen. Sure, no one makes money anymore, but did we ever? Probably the same amount of people "make it big" as ever, it's just that now the rest of us can do our thing too. We can put our art out there in whatever form(s) we make it at no cost to us or our audience.

I really like the way I put my art out there. I make a zine and don't charge for it. I have a radio station that's free to anyone with an internet connection. I have a YouTube channel that's free too. If I ever publish a book, I might make that available for free as well. I can do this because I have no expectations of ever being able to promote myself enough to charge people for what I do and because largely everything I do costs me nothing but time.

All of the things I do can be done for free or nearly so. All of the creativity you can ever possibly exude can be put onto the internet. Anything you'd ever want to learn can be found on the internet. Here's a few short tutorials:

BLOG: Go to blogger.com or wordpress.com or livejournal.com or tumblr.com and sign up for an account and start typing your thoughts. When you feel like you're done typing, press "publish".

You're now a writer!

RADIO STATION: Sign up for an account on myradiostream.com. Download a program called Nicecast if you're a Mac user and SAM broadcaster (or something similar; Google it) if you're a PC user. Do lots of research, do a test broadcast, then tell people how to find you and play some tunes!

You're now a radio DJ!

ZINE: Put things on paper by whatever means necessary (computer printout, typewriter, Sharpie, collage, drawings, comics, etc) then make copies of that paper and hand them out to friends and family. Google zine layouts if you have more than one page and want to get fancy with staples and folds and shit.

You're now a magazine editor!

YOUTUBE CHANNEL/VLOG: Sign up for a Google account. You probably already have one. Record a video on a device you probably already have (phone, tablet, digital camera, webcam on your computer, etc). Use whatever means necessary to transfer that video to your computer (USB cable, email, Dropbox, etc). Go to youtube.com and select "upload".

Several hours later (unless you have AMAZING internet speeds or you only uploaded a 5 minute video) you're now a video producer/vlogger!

DJ: Download a program called Virtual DJ. Look up a few tutorials on how to use it on YouTube. Play with transitions and beat-matching and sound effects or whatever else you want.

You're now a DJ!

I firmly believe that being a DJ or a writer or whatever other creativity-creature you want to be doesn't have to be a prescribed set process. Doing it in whatever way makes you feel comfortable is still doing it. I've stopped doing many things in my life because someone else told me I was doing it wrong. My process in general has always been to jump in and see how it feels (usually after hours of research, but still). I go from not doing it to putting it up on the internet in no time flat. Some would say that's rash. Some would say I don't know what I'm doing. They're right, but I'm figuring it out. Becoming anything you want to become isn't sacred, or rather it is sacred, but the process isn't up to anyone but YOU. You hold the sanctity within yourself. YOU place the meaning on what you're doing. Don't let anyone else dictate your path. Everything can be done by everyone. The pressure to be "the best" at things causes us to not start things, not post things while we're still in the process of becoming...

well, guess what? We're never DONE becoming who we are. I hope to someday make music. I hope to someday write a novel or two. I hope to get better at DJing and see if I like it. I hope to keep making zines and posting blogs and vlogs and radio shows. These things are done by a perpetual amateur, but love me how I am or don't love me at all.

You know?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone...

I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.
I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.
I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.

It will cost me at least $10/mo more than I pay on my service plan now, which is already too much.

My current phone (iPhone 5C) is my favoritest phone I have ever owned. I would miss it. It's canary yellow! It works great. It has good battery life. It's perfectly acceptable for EVERYTHING I use it for...

I don't need every new device. I don't even love the design of the new iPhone. It's good and if I didn't have to replace my last phone back in March, I'd be happy to upgrade to this phone, but I. DO. NOT. NEED. IT.

This is my year of no new electronics. This is the hard part. I knew this would be the hard part. A new iPhone that I don't purchase. This will be the first year since 2011 that I haven't bought a new phone...if I get through this I will be golden. This is the last temptation of the year. I can do this. I can do this.

I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.
I am NOT going to buy the new iPhone.

I am NOT a mindless consumer.
I am NOT a hopeless Apple fangirl.
I am NOT reduced to my need to hold all the new electronics.

Hold me to this, friends. Help me. I might not make it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Unexpected Identity Progression

This year I've strayed far from the path of intention.

I meant to write my face off, but instead I've fallen into the performance of identity. I've started a vlog. I've begun the likely expensive and arduous journey towards becoming a DJ, both on internet radio and at local clubs. I've picked up the eyeliner pencil more times this year than the previous 10 years combined; and this year I've done it not out of a need to make myself "presentable" but out of the same child-like creativity that got me to start wearing makeup in my teens.

I started a new job this year that involves working at all the public service desks at the library (circulation, reference, children's, teen, and computer lab). I was very fearful of taking this position, even though it's the exact thing I've wanted to do at the library since I started there ten years ago. At the last minute I took the job after almost turning it down. The position didn't exist before I took it back in March. As the director told me a few months ago, "You're kind of an experiment." Ha. From my perspective, the experiment is going very well. I've taken over programming for Cari, the teen librarian, while she's on maternity leave and I love it. I was able to see the magic of Summer Reading up close through the eyes of the creative force that is the children's department. I never thought I'd work with children, but I generally like working with all age groups now, though I am still partial to teens and the over 60 crowd. I'm VERY happy with my job(s) now. I have always loved flittering about to different groups of people, and the "floater" position has allowed me to get paid for my tendency to wander.

An unexpected side effect of subverting society's tendency towards caution is that (mostly the imaginary kind of self-imposed) obligation has become irrelevant to me, mostly to my advantage, but often to the cultivation of ennui. Depression caused by inertia or no, my determination to commit to the "flow" remains, because this attitude has led to radio, DJing, and YouTube. Had I stayed the path I set out for myself last December, I wouldn't have made a tiny zine instead of the regular expensive one. Had I walked the premeditated course, I wouldn't have said yes to a DJ gig. I would have simply said, "I'm not a DJ..." and that, as they say, would have been that. It had never occurred to me that I could do it. My instincts for picking the right music at the right time have always existed and I've been making mixes since I was at least 10 years old, but I never thought that I could get paid for it. I have now been paid in a DJ capacity, but not because I decided I could do it. I took the gig and did the thing expecting only to endure it and see how it felt. In the moment, it felt awful. I was paralyzed with anxiety and nerves. Only now, three days later, am I starting to come out of the haze of confused adrenaline to analyze the situation.

Most of my adult life I've analyzed opportunities to death, like I literally kill them on the vine by relentlessly talking myself out of them. Life is easier to navigate when the analysis can happen after the experience. I don't know what changed this year, but I've somehow internalized the mantra I made up for myself LAST year:

Do it now. Be ready later.

This affirmation works for me because I've always stumbled through life, whether I wanted to or not. Before my instincts were smashed by internalized societal insecurities, this was how I operated. I just fucked with things until they made sense, and if they didn't I let them go.

Rupaul gives advice that applies in this blog; something to the effect of taking unexpected opportunities and letting the universe draw you to your purpose. People have been telling me for years that I should DJ and I waved my had, "pfffffft"ing the idea away.

I hate to contradict the above decision to analyze later rather than sooner, but I suspect I might be stumbling towards a more actualized self. If I can stay out of my own way, perhaps I'll be a DJ, a zen house cleaner, a librarian, AND a writer.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top Ten Books

So there's that rash spreading on Facebook wherein you tag some friends and force them to tag other friends...and it's all about your ten most "influential" books. I'm doing it in a blog so I can describe why I like the books without the overstimulation of Facebook churning in the background. My, that site can be distracting...

I choose to interpret "influential" as being the books that changed something about the way I think. They are in order of appearance into my life:

1) Drawing Blood // Poppy Z Brite -- This is probably my favorite book of all time and I cannot separate how much of this is because of the quality of the work itself versus the impression I made of it when I first read it. This is a book about wayward youth and the listless darkness of the goth soul. If that sounds laughable, perhaps you're not a real goth. Poseur! Poppy's prose is exquisite and I still reread this book at least once every couple of years. It's like a comfy cardigan that's never too frayed as far as you're concerned, thankyouverymuch.

Fun Fact: The copy my bff Kim and I first read still resides at the original library in which I checked it out for the first time. That very book has been read by all the tortured goth kids of Joplin over the last two decades.

2. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching // Thich Nhat Hanh -- I spent a lot of my teenage years searching through spirituality and religion for something that "fit". I researched absolutely everything from Satanism to Astrology. This is the first book about Buddhism I ever read and I was hooked. The tenants of Buddhism are still important to me and if I ever need to refocus on a way of thinking that really centers me, I go back to Buddhist texts. This is the book that taught me drishta dharma sukha viharin, a phrase I've never forgotten and might get tattooed on my body someday which means "dwelling happily in the present moment".

3. Queen of the Damned // Anne Rice -- Rice is maligned pretty much everywhere these days, but I buy her version of vampires. I like 'em verbose, beautiful, and full of religious guilt. This book truly celebrates Akasha, the baddest villainess in all vampire popular mythology. The book outlines the birth of vampires in Rice's world, the most compelling vampire origin tale I've ever read (and I've read a LOT of vampire books). I have a very beat up paperback copy of this book. If that doesn't say, "Book, you are good enough, you are smart enough, and gosh darnit people LIKE you!" I don't know what does.

4. High Fidelity // Nick Hornby -- I like my fictional characters in three simple varieties: a) a music-obsessed weirdo, b) a gay or gender-confused weirdo, and c) a goth and/or supernatural in a dark way weirdo. This book fulfills category A. I'm not sure what else to say about it. You've seen the movie...the book is better, but the movie is my favorite movie of all time...so, it's pretty fucking good. Now I want to read it...

5. Hardcore Zen // Brad Warner -- This is my second favorite book about Buddhism told from the POV of a straight edge punk that loves Japanese monster movies and sitting zazen. If Warner hadn't pointed out how punk Buddhism is in this book, I might have had to do it...'cause Buddhism is soooo punk, yo. This book talks about Buddhism in plain language.

6. Love is a Mixtape // Rob Sheffield -- My favorite kind of nonfiction is a music memoir and this is the ULTIMATE music memoir.

7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies // Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith -- Ultimately, what I love about this book is the Austen part of it, but I have to admit that before this book caught my attention, I hadn't read Jane Austen. I know! Despicable, but true. I've since read the real "Pride and Prejudice" several times and damn if that isn't a classic!

8. How Not to Write, by Someone Who Doesn't // Delilah Des Anges -- Del is a dear friend I met in a vampire chat room back in the '90s. This book is the most frank and to the point writing guide ever and I really appreciate it. Just shut up and write, bitch! My output has been slightly larger because of reading this book. Go buy it.

9. Hunger Games trilogy // Suzanne Collins -- These books are probably the most powerful fiction I've ever read. I read them during the winter of 2011 after the tornado and I cried SOOO much while reading them. I'm not a big fan of tragedy, usually ever, but Collins' dystopia seemed so real that I couldn't walk away. Katniss is the character I relate to most of any fiction character I've ever met...except the bow and arrow stuff.

10. Ready Player One // Ernest Cline -- This book is just the most fun dystopia of all time.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Year of no new electronics...

Like most of my goals for the year of 2014, this one was kind of broken when I,

a) had to buy a new phone in March when my iPhone 5's screen went all hot and bothered with pixels misfiring and general glitchy strangeness. Jill says that doesn't count because I needed a phone. I did buy the exact phone I wanted though --a yellow iPhone 5C-- because I'm extravagant like that.

b) bought Michael's old 3DS. M says that doesn't count because it's not new.

Buuuut, something interesting has happened:

1) I'm really really happy with all of my current technology without any plans to upgrade.

I love my phone (though as SOON as I can leave Verizon for Virgin Mobile/a plan that's 50$ less each month, I'm doing it!) a lot. The battery life is spectacular on the 5C and it's so freaking cute with its canary yellowness. The camera in it is amazing and it does everything I'd ever want it to do.

I'm really enjoying the 3DS with Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Mario Kart 7. Totally worth the huge discount my husband gave me on a great gaming device.

I appreciate my iPad mini and don't see that there would be any reason to upgrade it anytime soon.

Even my computer is now approaching four years old and I'm considering buying more storage and memory for it, but I don't want to abandon it at all.

The previous statements are SERIOUS progress for me. I don't feel that I need ALL the new things! The last several years I've talked myself into buying each new iPhone, several iPads and other various devices.

2) I completely forgot about the huge Apple Event today announcing the new iPhone 6 until Michael mentioned it to me at 930 this evening. I completely FORGOT. Usually I am glued to cnet.com watching all the live coverage for Apple's events announcing new products and this year I FORGOT.

I'm officially considering my electronics addiction broken. There will be further temptations. When the new iPad mini comes out with a color-corrected screen (the current model has some issues with color accuracy...yes, I notice that shit) I'll want it. But I'll resist because I don't even need an iPad. Really, I don't. I have an ereader and I have a smartphone. Sometimes I go days without using my iPad. I prefer to read on my ereader and if my iPad isn't rightthere I use my phone instead.

I want to beef up my computer. I want 500GB of hard drive and 8GB of memory...maybe while I've got Honeycrisp on the operating table I'll replace her battery as well. However, I have no desire to get one of the new Macbook Pros because they don't even have a disc drive and the cheapest model is 1300$.

In other news, the iPod classic (the last remaining iPod with the iconic click wheel) was quietly taken off the Apple website today. Sad. That click wheel made it just over ten years and is still one of the big reasons I became obsessed with Apple's design. I'll use my iPod classic I got in 2011 until the day it dies...probably even then I'll scour ebay for a new one.

Anyway, I'm taking a moment. It's a big deal for me to realize my 2014 goal of not buying new electronics has actually had the effect I wanted it to have. I don't check cNET every day anymore. I'm not up to date on all the new devices. I still follow Apple's new products, but I actually truly don't feel like I NEED to own all of them.

Yay me.

Followers