Booking Through Thursday: Multi-Tasking

Do you do other things while you read? Watch TV? Cook? Brush your teeth? Knit?

I mostly stay focused on reading. Sometimes, especially if I find the book boring, I start to daydream, but mostly I eat, drink, text, or Facebook message Terra or Paul. Or update my Goodreads progress. Every so often I read while I’m on my lunch break at work.

My favorite is the time I was taking a class one summer and would get stuck in construction traffic on my way, so I’d catch up on the day’s reading while I was stuck. And I once was that kid who took Harry Potter out to dinner and read until the food came, but that Order of the Phoenix had me hooked.

Fuck Snow

First a friend of Paul’s got into a minor accident Saturday morning, which canceled their plans for the weekend, and those plans were the reason Paul didn’t come over Friday night like usual. And snow kept him away all day Saturday.

I was supposed to spend Friday night at a fire-company fundraiser Terra and her mom help out with, complete with alcohol, drawings, and a band, and almost the whole group bailed because of snow. I was still gonna make an effort and so were my parents, although apparently only because my past behavior has indicated I don’t let snow fuck with my plans.

My car was a little stuck in the parking lot. No big deal. That happens a lot when the bastards with the big, beefy trucks who can run over anything no problem take the easiest spots least likely to barricade me in. But I dug out, and even though I have yet to see proof that the city of Washington believes in plows, things weren’t going too bad, especially on the highways.

Then my bitch GPS took me down some back roads for a shortcut. I slid everywhere but made it out alive.

With about 20 minutes left to go out of a damn hour-long drive, the snow suddenly turned to an all-out white-out blizzard, and my mom called to say they came up on someone in a ditch, stopped, and were gonna eventually turn around because they couldn’t go any further.

About the exact same time, my car decided it couldn’t handle the hill I was trying to drive up, so I sat with my flashers on, waited for another car to pass me, made sure he didn’t wreck when I saw him sliding all over the road in front of me, then turned around and rode that bitch in second gear back down and all the way back home.

I’m not sure why plows drive around in snow storms without actually plowing, but they’re what’s wrong with this country.

Over an hour later–and ultimately two hours total travel time–I was back in my apartment, all dressed up without even any good mixers for my various flavored vodkas. Had I not already changed out of my very snowy jeans and into pajamas, I would’ve walked either to Shop ‘N’ Save or the six-pack shop. I should’ve done it anyway.

Paul and I planned to go see Gravity Sunday, but snow ruined that, too. The theme for the weekend was “let’s dump a lot more snow than predicted at a totally different time than predicted,” which is especially inconvenient when you need groceries.

When it stopped, I literally dug myself out–then got pushed out–and trudged over for groceries, couldn’t make it back in the lot, very slowly circled the block and almost didn’t make it up the hill, and park at the very flat and more efficiently plowed Methodist church next door. God bless those Methodists.

And now we’re in for 30-below wind chills tomorrow. Fuck you, winter.

On Conspiracy Theories and Politics and Relationships and Stuff

I love hearing a good conspiracy theory, but finding them entertaining and believing them are totally different. And I’m amazed by people who are highly educated believing them, especially when they’re coming from blogs with no other sources. Some dude who says he saw something doesn’t make it so.

If a college professor wouldn’t accept it as a source on a paper, you shouldn’t be believing it or repeating it.

I also have a major problem with the underlying theme of conspiracy theories–almost every single one implies that we’re all pawns, powerless to powers above us that control everything. I don’t believe that. In fact, I think it’s a cop-out that allows people who buy into them to promote their own paranoia and let things in the world run amuck without trying to fix them. If everything is corrupt, then why should we try, you know?

There was a whole discussion on this the other night thanks to Facebook, but it also led to another interesting, semi-political point.

I ended up chatting with Fr. Bob on the subject. We ended up on a slight digression regarding some of his dreams for the area. He’s very outspoken on what can and should be done to improve it, and he told me he’s working with some people to open a Headkeeper’s-like establishment, which I think is an excellent idea that would probably be pretty successful. I mentioned how Headkeeper’s is on my long list of places I want to take Paul, and Fr. Bob said he’d love to join us and we seem like a very opposite couple.

I feel like I’ve discussed this before, but a quick, half-assed search turned up nothing.

Outwardly, yes, we are total opposites. We kind of make fun of ourselves for it. He prefers to dress pretty plain, and I’m typing this wearing a black lace shirt under a bright red tank top with even more lace and some beading. I have epic, curly reddish-brown hair, and it’s drastically changed length and color multiple times since we started dating. I’m a liberal, he’s a conservative.

Except, well, it’s not that simple. For one thing, “liberal” and “conservative” give you vague ideas of the views but not the specifics. And Paul is not, nor has he ever been, as conservative as he’s claimed, which I’ve pointed out to him. He may be more religious than me and his personal desires and decisions may be pretty traditional, but he’s a little more live-and-let-live than his conservative family and friends. We’ll occasionally get into an intellectual debate, but he’s not exactly a fan of the Republican party right now. Granted, his mom blames that on me, which may explain why she hates my life.

Sorry, I have to interrupt myself to report that iTunes is on shuffle and just played Buddy Holly’s “You’re So Square (Baby, I Don’t Care)”. Perfect.

So anyway, Fr. Bob mentioned that his friend John talks like Paul is super conservative and I’m super liberal. Now, when John and Paul were better friends, this was true, so I’ll give him a pass there. But he’s only met me maybe three times tops, and we’ve never discussed politics. All he knows is what he sees on Facebook–and not for much longer because he’s getting purged, but we’ll get to that–and what other people tell him. And Facebook isn’t necessarily good for accurately explaining a person’s whole philosophy on life, and perhaps for similar reasons, people almost always get it wrong when they discuss my political beliefs behind my back.

On the most basic level, I believe people should be free to do whatever they want as long as no one else gets directly hurt–if someone else’s life decisions that don’t actually involve or impact you somehow upset you anyway, that’s your problem and doesn’t count.

My dad’s the one who gets it horribly wrong the most, but he does that with everything. He paints me as a bra-burning Communist who literally worships Obama. Brandon’s said I hate rich people. Paul’s mom just thinks I’m the hippie antichrist. And now John’s running around saying God knows what and using it as evidence that my boyfriend and I are just too different, which brings up another observation.

People who point out how different Paul and I are–or any other people, for that matter–seem to be using it as proof that we shouldn’t be together, don’t belong together, but this is also almost always coming from people who I’ve noticed firsthand have a really hard time interacting with people who aren’t very similar to themselves.

Paul almost dumped me about a year after we’d been dating in part because he was worried we’re too different, and I told him our differences would only be a problem if we made them problems. One of the reasons we work so well as a couple–and this applies to anyone with major differences–is we let each other just be. We don’t try to get each other to do drastically different things to please the other or fall more in line with the other’s personal taste, and we understand and accept each other for who we are. In the world of love and relationships, common ground isn’t the most important thing–it’s how you handle a lack of it, and people who can’t do that have a lot of growing to do as humans and really are denying themselves so much potential for experience and love.

Which is certainly at least a partial problem with John. I mentioned to Fr. Bob that John doesn’t know me, but I wish there was a way to nicely say, “Look, he’s kind of a shitty person.” See, John had a thing for Katie a few years back in high school, possibly even to this day given semi-recent events. He and Katie went to I think prom together, but John never asked her out or anything after that. But Paul’s brother Jacob did, and aside from a brief breakup one summer, they’ve been together ever since. They’re engaged. And apparently, John is so bothered by this–even though his loss is his fault–that he completely stopped speaking to Jacob in the years since and then in the past few months called Katie a cunt and Jacob a pussy right to Katie’s face, so now she’s not speaking to him, either. As the defense big brother, neither is Paul, but John’s been on shaky ground for awhile anyway due to being a hypocrite, racist, and belligerent drunk. I never had a problem with him personally, but I do have a hard time with someone who treats people like that, so he was on his way out of my life, too, especially now that he’s decided to offer up completely uninformed opinions of my political leanings and my relationship.

Great job, dude!

Friday Five: Alternate Uses

  1. A sticky note is supposed to be used for sticking notes temporarily to stuff. What’s a different way you’ve used a sticky note? I used them for the very short-lived New Year’s happy jar thing. My mom once used them brilliantly–though technically as intended–to put over my dad’s glasses when he fell asleep wearing them.
  2. Plastic cutlery is supposed to be used for moving food from a plate to your mouth a few times before being discarded. What’s a different way you’ve used plastic cutlery? I used a plastic knife to put fabric glue on something.
  3. Books are supposed to be for reading. What’s a different way you’ve used a book? To flatten something, most like very wrinkly homework in school.
  4. A file folder is supposed to be used for holding and organizing important papers. What’s a different way you’ve used a file folder? I can’t think of a way I’ve used one differently.
  5. A shoe is an article of clothing meant for wearing on a foot. What’s a different way you’ve used a shoe? For killing bugs, especially Raid-resistant ones. In fact, a shoe is still in the corner of my bedroom from an early-morning spider chase weeks ago.

Booking Through Thursday: Hated

If there was one book you could make sure nobody ever read again … what would it be? And why?

Let’s go with the ones I’ve been complaining about lately.

50 Shades of Grey mostly just because Christian is an ass, and while I generally thing readers and any human who consumes any sort of media are smart enough to not base their decisions, lives, or relationships around what they read, listen to, or watch, I do still think that a lot of ladies read books like this and look at characters like Christian and view them as the penultimate romantic. Nope. Being controlling, manipulative, and abusive isn’t romantic. Whoever came up with Discovery ID is probably rich because of dudes like Christian Grey.

Go Ask Alice because it’s ridiculous. I see its usefulness if you want to scare teenagers into not doing drugs, but the whole book just seems so implausible and extreme. Yes, drugs can be very, very bad, but I know plenty of people who have smoked pot or used acid and didn’t end up in half the shit this girl did. I’d rather read an honest memoir of drug addiction. Or A Million Little Pieces. He may have been making shit up, but at least it was a good book.

Fountainhead because no one needs to be this bored. While things are picking up, an interesting first chapter and random interesting segments between that and the ending are unacceptable. Plus if no one read it again, we could all talk about Ayn Rand a little bit less.

50 Shades of Bullshit

In case you haven’t been watching me mentally deteriorate in real time on Twitter, I recently decided to take on 50 Shades of Grey for two reasons. The main one was curiosity–like anything that gets hugely popular, I was wondering what all the hype was about. The other reason was so I could say, “But the writing is bad and it depicts an abusive relationship” with evidence to back it up other than, “Well, some people on Twitter and Tumblr said so.” I need to form my own opinion.

Obviously, that’s going just peachy.

Honestly, starting off wasn’t too bad. The writing wasn’t as bad as I was expecting–it’s certainly better than Twilight. The writer mostly just does a bunch of little things they teach you not to do in introductory writing classes, most notably lots of repetition and cliches. I’d be happy if I go the rest of my life without ever reading the word “clamber” again and if Christian Grey’s fingers are described as long one more fucking time I may rampage, plus it’s yet another story of a naive sexually inexperienced girl who’s never fallen for anyone until this super amazing hot rich dude with epic flaws, but all in all, these are small offenses that would be annoying in any book. I’m getting sick of Anastasia’s damn “inner goddess,” too, but I can appreciate its purpose in contrasting Ana’s logic with Ana’s sex drive.

All was actually going pretty well until Christian Grey revealed the extent of his sexual proclivities.

Now, I love sex. Really. I don’t need to tell you how much because I guarantee you do not care. And I don’t care about what other consenting people are into or what they do or how they do it. The problem is–especially considering 50 Shades has been criticized for being a horrible depiction of the BDSM lifestyle–that it toes this very fine line between fetishism between two consenting adults and some really fucked-up abusive shit.

Red flags started going off for me when Christian presents Ana with a contract. That would be all well and good to lay down the rules of what they will and won’t do, except it goes so far as to tell her what and when to eat, what to wear, and how often to exercise, including when she’s not with him. Once demands leave the bedroom, I feel you start to shift out of the realm of sex and fetishism–no matter how much Christian Grey pretends this is just about the sex and fetishism–and you move into the realm of being a controlling fuck. Now, at least Christian admits he’s controlling…but that’s a problem, too.

I’ve never given up on a book. I can’t do it. But I almost gave up on 50 Shades after Christian decided Ana needed punished because she rolled her eyes at him one too many times after he told her not to. Her punishment? 18 very hard, nasty spankings that left her sore and crying. The goal? To teach Ana to behave in a manner that Christian deems proper, to get her to change her behaviors so that she’s doing things Christian is okay with–to change her, even though when Ana asks if he’s trying to change her he insists that’s not it.

At this point, I feel like 50 Shades of Grey is basically presenting me with an abusive relationship and saying, “No, see, it’s okay because it’s part of a sexual fetish, and she consented to it!” No thanks. Any dude who admits that he is sexually aroused by controlling a woman and being physically violent to the point that she needs painkillers isn’t just into some fun BDSM anymore–he’s an abusive ass who’s using a fetish to justify it.

And then there’s the references to Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

What is pretty nice is I was coincidentally reading Tess and coming to the end around the same time I started 50 Shades . What’s not pretty nice is the comparisons at all, at least at the moment.

For starters, they’re being used very similarly to the way Twilight referenced Wuthering Heights. I think the main purpose is really just to make the book seem much more high-brow than it really is, but it also serves to take one couple in a modern romance and draw parallels to another in a classic. This is a problem because of major differences in book quality, obviously, but also because Twilight and 50 Shades both have problematic relationships masquerading as much more beautiful romances than they really are and–at least in part and with Twilight moreso than 50 Shades–they’re trying to use these classic romances, although no way is Tess a proper romance, to prove how wonderful they are. The problem is the people and circumstances in Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D’Urbervilles are terrible. It’s like referencing Romeo and Juliet in any romance movie or Taylor Swift song–it’s all well and good until you remember they were teenagers who decided to get married after only a brief time together in the middle of a family feud that required one faked death but ended in two suicides. Not so romantic, is it?

It’s been awhile since I read Wuthering Heights or Twilight, but from what I remember, Bella boasted a lot in Twilight about how she and Edward both considered it to be their favorite book, and she often compared them to hot-mess on-again-off-again couple Cathy and Heathcliff. The problem is Cathy is a spoiled little bitch, Heathcliff is a raging asshole, and they never actually get together proper because they just keep treating each other like shit the whole time until they both die. Obviously, this is a classic romance and all couples should aspire to have a love as deep as Heathcliff and Cathy.

50 Shades of Grey’s relationship to Tess of the D’Urbervilles is a little dicey at this point, just because I’m not done with 50 Shades so I don’t know how the references are used in the future, but unless Ana’s comparing Christian to Alec D’Urberville, they’re gonna piss me off. I do recommend reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles because it is pretty much amazing, but skip to the next paragraph if you haven’t and don’t want spoiled. It’s that good. But basically, Tess is like every show Discovery’s ID channel has every had combined. A young, somewhat naive Tess goes to work for a distant cousin and keeps shooting down his very persistent and aggressive romantic advances, so once night he rapes her. She leaves shortly after but is pregnant. When she has the baby, he’s very sick and ultimately dies, at which point Tess leaves again for work. There she meets Angel Clare, and they fall in love and it’s all well and good because Tess and Angel are both actually pretty awesome, except Tess has major guilt and such thanks to archaic views of rape except oh wait they’re not that archaic because women are still treated today the way Tess was at some points in the book, though that does make the book still relevant. Because of all this, Tess struggles with telling Angel about the rape and baby, especially when he keeps asking her to marry him. After some failed attempts, she tells him on the wedding night, and he’s pretty pissed she’s kept this from him and feels he’s been deceived and Tess isn’t the virtuous woman she claimed to be. He decides he needs some time to think, so he runs off to Brazil and Tess finds more work yet again. Unfortunately for her, she ends up in the same area as rapist cousin Alec and they see each other by chance, and he stalks her from then on. He convinces her Angel is never coming back for her, even though Angel meanwhile is starting to think he reacted way too harshly, and by the time Angel gets some balls and goes back for Tess, she’s shacking up with Alec because he’s a manipulative bastard and they already had a kid together, so why not? Tess gets so pissed at Alec when Angel shows up again that they fight and she stabs him then runs off with Angel, and they stay on the run for a bit until the cops find Tess. So, you see, this is not necessarily an example of a good, healthy relationship. Sure, you could argue that love wins in the end, but it takes a whole hellish mess to get there. And Angel may be flawed, but Christian Grey ain’t no Angel Clare.

Other little things get me, too–he’s so appalled by Ana’s car that he insists on buying her a new one and orders her not to drive the old one, not because it’s genuinely unsafe but because it’s just not up to his standards. This is probably supposed to be some grand, romantic gesture, especially since it seems to be a common tactic in romance involving rich dudes, but if my boyfriend was like, “Hey, your car blows, here’s this new one I bought you without any input from you whatsoever, I’ll hit you if you drive that piece of shit old one again,” I’d be pretty furious.

Oh, and I’m tired of the sex scenes, which I guess is a sign I’m not cut out for porn or erotica. Granted, it could be the terrible characters ruining it for me, but it’s already becoming gratuitous and I just don’t care. And I don’t know of any woman who can come as easily as Ana does. Ladies, if you’re expecting orgasms like that all the time, give up on that dream because that’s not how most of our bodies work.

Stay tuned.

We planned to spend New Year’s Day at the casino like we did last year, but Paul and Kelly didn’t want to go and he spent the night with me and she spent the night at my parents’ and we didn’t want to kick them out early in the morning to go gambling, plus my dad wasn’t feeling well. So we pushed it back to that Friday night.

I went in straight in from work. The rest of my family was still on their way in, so I took the cash I had on me, planted myself at a Princess Bride slot, and was down to like my last 50 cents or something when I hit and ultimately won about 75 bucks, more than doubling what I’d put in, by the time they showed up.

We ate dinner, went our separate slot ways, and I ended up winning about $100 on an Alice in Wonderland slot. And by then my parents were losing and I think Brandon had broke even. When we left for the night, I went straight to the bank to deposit my cash, then paid bills with it.

Maybe this can justify the shopping I’ve done in the meantime, but I have gotten myself some nice new clothes, lots of books, some CDs, and undies. And then there’s that $50 Gabe’s gift card I’ve won and will probably be trying to spend for months–I’m picky and not too into the bright, print trends right now, so I’ve gone to two separate stores in two weeks and have only spent like 20 bucks on socks, tights, and a dress.

Meanwhile, my life is in limbo as Paul is in the running for one of two open positions for a steel company in New York. Out of six possible candidates, they narrowed it down to three, and thanks to a semester working on a project in college, Paul’s one of the three. He’s waiting to hear back on scheduling an interview now, and we’re sort of working out the logistics of jobs and living situations should he get it. Short version: it’s contract to hire, so he’ll have a six-month trial period before they decide to hire him, and we’re hoping they’d let him know early so I know what to do about my lease, my job, and moving to New York with him.

Here’s to hoping he gets the job!

Friday Five: Food Again

  1. What was the most recent pork dish you consumed, and how was it? I’m a vegetarian, so I haven’t consumed pork proper in about 10 years now. And I can’t think of any similar vegetarian equivalent, although I have had vegetarian bacon somewhere in those last 10 years. It looks like Play-Doh but tastes like bacon.
  2. What was the most recent fish dish you consumed, and how was it? I’ve snuck shrimp within the past few weeks. Delicious as always.
  3. What was the most recent beef dish you consumed, and how was it? I’m not the strictest vegetarian in the sense that if a sauce has meat in it and I have no other options, I’ll just eat it but pick around the meat the best I can. Did that just before Christmas but also had veggie burgers last week. Both were good.
  4. What was the most recent all-veggie dish you consumed, and how was it? A salad last night. It was good, but salads are salads–they’re only excellent when you try to make them excellent.
  5. What was the most recent chicken dish you consumed, and how was it? The awesome Greek place down the road, Mr. Gyro’s, has amazing seasonal soups. Paul’s been at my place since Thursday night, so he stopped for take-out on his way over. I wanted the lentil soup, but they were out so he got me the lemon to try instead. Turns out it has chicken in it, so I ate a little bit of the rice and let Paul finish the chicken. The soup was excellent, though. Lemon soup sounded weird to me so I was afraid it would taste gross, but I loved it. It’s sweeter than I expected, too.

From Friday Five.

Booking Through Thursday: Equality

All other things (writing quality, story, etc), which would you rather read?
1. Something written by a man or a woman? Woman, simply because I am one and it’s still kind of a male-dominated field. Although as to whether or not I actually prefer one gender over the other, I don’t. A good writer is a good writer.
2. Something with a male or female protagonist? Either.
3. Something funny or something tragic? Tragic. I think they catch my interest more. But I enjoy both.
4. Something short or something long with many parts? Short, though I don’t mind a well-executed long book.
5. Something simple or something layered? Layered. I like complexity, new things, and discovering things on rereads.

From Booking Through Thursday.

Celebrating New Year’s

My plans for New Year’s were to not have plans. Sort of. As with most things, I was open to accepting invitations, but this year all I really wanted to do was drink at home in my pajamas and turn my New Year’s kiss into a New Year’s fuck.

I went to Terra’s a few days after Christmas to hang out with her and Scott and exchange gifts. At some point, Scott invited Paul and I over and said that if we didn’t come, he’d come find us, wherever we were, and bring us over. So we decided to go over for a few hours.

Terra said Scott acted like the pope was going over and was making a big deal about what to cook. He settled on pork and sauerkraut, plus dumplings and various imitation meats for me and Terra. Paul and I took over what was left of our stash from our last run to the six-pack shop, and good times were had.

Scott’s friend John was over with his girlfriend, who occasionally accuses John and Terra both of cheating with each other, but she seemed nice enough.

It was a nice, low-key night, too. Not that my past New Year’s have been epic, though they have been spent at Sarah’s and involved moonshine, but watching Stalked and being forced to play Apples to Apples was fun. Except Apples to Apples is hardly fun at all after you’re played Cards Against Humanity.

Meanwhile, my parents were over at Uncle Eric and Aunt Vicky’s. I may have forgotten to mention this, but some months ago I deleted Aunt Vicky from Facebook because she annoys the shit out of me. Brandon and I may have been technically invited, but we didn’t want to go and were glad to get out of it. Sounds like it was mostly okay, but when I asked my mom about it, she beautifully nailed one of the major problems I have with my aunt that I never thought much about: “She just likes to stir shit up.”

They say how you spend New Year’s is how you spend the rest of the year, so I guess I’m in for good food and good times while my aunt just stirs shit up.