Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So sue me, Mary Sue me that is...

For those of you not familiar with the term let me try to explain. A Mary Sue is a character that stands in as proxy for the author. Obvious proxy. And perfect. Idealized. The term started in the fan fiction universe, specifically the Star Trek fanfic. Mary Sue was the main character in a story written to show just how obvious and annoying these perfect proxies were. The brilliant science engineer who spoke 12 languages and made everyone on the ship fall in love with her before saving the entire ship in some sort of miracle maneuver. Those sorts of things. But as things in the real world tend to do it's sort of lost its meaning and now is just a quick and derisive way to "critique" someone's work. "Oh such a Mary Sue."

And it drives me nuts.

Because almost every writer I know has a touch of Mary Sue in their work.

It's why we write.

When I was younger when I read a book if I really liked the story I "wrote" myself in to it later. I didn't just read a book once, you see, I read it over and over and over again if it was a favorite. And then I would think about the characters and their stories and then I would make new stories in my head with me in them. And I was always awesome and wonderful and smart and the main character would fall in love with me Mary Sue. Because it was my escape. Why would I make up a story in my head where I was awkward and a little skittish and really angry? I had that in real life. For the most part I didn't write these stories down, they were just part of the fantasy life in my head. But they were still my stories.

I was also the kid on the playground who during a game was always saying, "now you say this..." I might be a story teller at heart but I always wanted to direct...

Anyway, back to the point. Writing a Mary Sue story is natural. Like I said, I think it's how most people start writing. They make up stories where they are the hero. Watch kids at play, they are the princess, the fireman, the Mom or the Dad. They are the hero. Total Mary Sues the lot of them...

The other thing I've found that is natural is that though we all tend to Mary Sue ourselves in our made up stories when we are reading or watching other stories we identify with the outsider. The one who is different from everyone else. During one of those "post the celebrity you look like" things on Facebook I posted a picture of Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club. When I was younger I got that I looked like her a lot. But when I posted it a friend of mine from high school commented that she was just like that in high school. Sheedy's character. The odd ball artistic one. I actually laughed because that is not at all how I remembered this person. She was one of the popular kids, in student government (that was a thing popular kids did in my high school, I know it's not the same every where else), active in clubs, she was a prep in my mind. Not at all an outsider eccentric. But that's how she viewed herself. (to be clear I posted it because I looked like her, I always viewed myself as a blending of Judd Nelson's and Anthony Michael Hall's characters I was the angry dweeb).

If you are on Facebook for any length of time you will see this over and over. People post things about how unique they are. Now generally the things they post are those pre-made little mini-posters and they don't seem to get the humor in that but... anyway...everyone thinks they are a snowflake. Precious and unique and maybe a little edgy. Everyone wants to be the hero when given the free reign choice. And most of us fall someplace in the middle.

We find people who are so much like us that we have to abandon the snowflake theory. We meet people who really are Mary Sue and just sit with our mouths hanging open as we marvel at their accomplishments.

So where does this leave me when I'm writing a story? Is the main character really me? Just a more perfect version? Or an edgier replica? No. And yes. They are. And the supporting cast as well. They all have to be me don't they? I mean they came out of my head, I'm the one giving them their words and their situations. So they sort of have to be a part of me. And yet they aren't, and the supporting cast isn't either. There is a core of me in there, the spark that brought them to life. But then they have a life of their own. Yes, I am still writing their dialog, I am still describing their worlds, but they stop reacting how I would react and start taking on their own lives. People who don't write look at me like I'm crazy when I try to explain it, people who do write nod along.

You know when you have an important presentation to make or an important discussion to have and you sort of rehearse it? You practice what you are going to say and you try to imagine what the people in the meeting or conversation with you would say? And if you know them really well you can do a pretty good job of guessing. They aren't you, but you know them well enough to guess where they are going. It's sort of like that. But sometimes they don't. They say something else.

And that's when I know I've got a good character going. When they surprise me.

Though I do still sometimes say..."NO! You say this..."

And Mary Sue arches her perfectly shaped eyebrow at me and replies..."No, now I say this..."

Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm tired...tired of playing the game...

A friend posted this list yesterday on levels of tired:
Levels of tired: 
1. Tired.
2. Really tired.
3. Stupid tired.
4. Bone tired.
5. So tired that you think even insomnia can't stop you from sleeping.
6. Seeing double tired.
7. Juice tired. (Hint: feels like you've been run through a blender.)

What makes it amusing is that her nickname is Juice, so you see Juice tired is how tired Juice is right now. What doesn't make it as amusing is that she really is that tired right now. I have a friend who lost her mother last week so she is grieving tired. I have more than one friend going through the dissolution of their marriages and so they are all at varying states of divorce tired. Friends with young children who are raising kids tired. People who work more hours in a week than they should so they are work tired. All of the tireds.

I'm reaching social media burnt out tired myself. It happens in cycles. They come quicker during political seasons. When your feed turns in to the worst of the worst of what passes for political discourse. During the latest round of Supreme Court rulings I had to walk away more than once. What is the difference between an activist judge and a wise ruling? If you agree or not.

People don't post about things that they aren't super passionate about. And anything that you are super passionate about you are going to spin. A friend of mine told me the other day that I celebrate accomplishments by gay people more than by straight people. I don't see it. But I can see how I could, or even how it could come across that way. I'm not super passionate about most issues, but gay rights is one that I am. So I post more about that than I do other things. I'm not religious so I don't make religious posts. But I'm also not anti-religion so I don't make those posts either. I'm progressive in my politics but I find that political discussion leads to nowhere so I tend to not post much about that anymore either. I don't find comfort from the ultra left or the super right sides of politics, in fact I think both of them need to shut up and let the grown ups nearer the middle talk. I am an omnivore so I don't make food bias postings. I think that guns are dangerous weapons and we should treat them as such, but I don't kid myself that there is an easy answer (arm everyone! disarm everyone!) so my levels of posts about them tend to be about the frustration of a lobbying group for gun manufacturers dictating the debate. And even that is rare.

I try my hardest not to even look at the public posts on news channel stories. A friend of mine drew this for me as a reminder:

I needed it because I get discouraged at times reading those posts. The vile things people write.The ignorance. The complete dismissive disdain of people with a different opinion than you have. I tried for awhile to argue my points, to get my voice heard. But it was like pissing in the wind. I can't change their behavior I can only change mine. By not looking.

It's more and more rare these days that I even have a discussion on a varied opinion on a friend's post. Every once in awhile if I feel like I just can't stand it I will. But even then it's usually to point out a flaw in the article they've linked. I have no illusion that I will change their mind on what they believe or even get them to think about something different than what they hold like a diamond, but sometimes the obvious spin in an article (I say spin but you know once something is spun so tightly it's really a lie, that sort of spin?) makes my fingers go faster than my reason and I try once more.

And so this leaves me tired. Tired of hiding people from my feed who only seem to post stories about politics or food or disease or whatever from fringe websites that only support their views not realizing they are linking op-ed pieces not actual studies. Right Makes Right. dot com. Left is Best dot org. Thomas Jefferson was a conservative hero dot you hippy bastards. Thomas Jefferson was a secular genius dot oh yeah take this. Meat is murder dot seriously it's just so sad you all. Fuck you dot au  Though I might go to a website that just had a variety of ways of telling people to fuck off. That might be okay...


I get that you are passionate about your beliefs. I get that you think the rest of us are ignorant sheeple (and you all know how much I LOATHE that word) who you should just be able to convince of the error of our ways so we can all live in your version of utopia, but honestly? I just want to see pictures of your kids, your pets and your dinner from last night. Tell me a funny story about the barista who you told you wanted a calf half (instead of half caf) this morning and so she mooed at you. Tell me about the hilarious thing your kid said/did or how proud you are about how well they hit a ball, or tell a story or paint a picture. 

But until that time comes, and I don't think it's coming soon, I will just be tired.

8. Social Media Tired
9. Logging off Tired

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Oh what a tangled web....

Char was cursing her own temper as she stomped through the woods. Yet one more time she had spouted off before thinking through all of the repercussions. Yes, her date had turned out to be a giant jackass, yes he had too much to drink to safely drive home, but the smart thing would have been to call for a cab and not try to walk back to town on her own. And she definitely should have stuck to the road instead of trying to find a shortcut back to the main highway.

She sat down on a fallen log and tried to figure out which way to go next. When they had taken the exit from the main highway to get to Templeton's how far had they gone? It didn't seem like that far but at that point Hank had still been sober and still been decent company. Could they have gone a few miles instead of the quick jot over that she had thought? And how deep were these woods anyway? She checked the connection on her phone and saw the E. Well no way to use a map right now, 70% battery life so she thought she was fine using the flashlight app for awhile longer. Maybe turning back the way she went would be the best bet. But which way was that now?

Okay, Char, don't panic. Start thinking things through. If you just stay put for the night someone will come looking for you tomorrow. Her roommate knew she had a date with Hank so they will ask him where they went. Will he admit that walking home was a better idea to her than spending one more minute in his company? He would have to, right? Just then she heard leaves crunching, someone else was out here. Her first thought was relief, someone was looking for her already. But then she realized if they were looking for her they would have been calling her name, and she would have seen the beams from their flashlights as they searched.

Char switched off the light on her phone and tried to calm her breathing and the shuffling got closer and closer. She could hear him breathing now. Noisy thick breaths. Her heart pounding in her chest so hard she knew who ever was out there must be able to hear it.

Then the pig snuffled past her and she laughed with relief. A baby pig! She had been terrified of some farmer's pig that had gotten loose. Her laugh made the poor little thing squeal with fright and take off at a dead run. Char ran after the pig thinking he would run toward the farm he must have escaped from. For a little guy he was incredibly fast and she soon lost sight of him.

Great, once again acting without thinking things through. Now she was deeper in the woods with absolutely no clue which way was out. Then she heard the pig squealing again. She followed the sound carefully trying to pay attention this time to which way she was going.

As she got closer to the squeals they became more frantic, she thought he must see me coming and is backed in a corner someplace, poor baby. She turned back on her flashlight and did a quick sweep of the area. She was looking down towards the tangled tree roots when movement to her left caught her eye. As she turned to look she couldn't make her brain make sense of what she was seeing. The piglet was up in the air. Floating. Squealing, screaming....the hair on the back of her neck stood up....

The pig was caught in the biggest web she had ever seen...and it's owner was slowly turning all eight of its giant eyes to look at Char....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The games people play...

"She said she didn't play games? Dude, that's the biggest game of them all."

"Not always. She could be completely serious. Some of us have never liked the game play bullshit."

Stan looked across the table at his closest friends Peter and Allie. If there really were two sides to every story he felt like he had always heard them from these guys.

"Who doesn't do the game play? I know for a fact that you play games. I saw you do it."

"When did you see me do it? Name one time."

"Right now! That's a game! You want me to pull a random time out of the air and how am I supposed to remember specifics?"

"You just said you saw me play games, so tell me when. I didn't do the game thing. I never understood the point. You either want to spend time with someone or you don't. Who the hell has time for counting days on a calendar between phone calls or texts?"

"Okay, you two stop fighting, we are talking about my problems now, not yours."

Peter and Allie both had the good graces to look a little sheepish that they had forgotten all about Stan's problem.

"Sorry, Stan. But it could be true. She really could mean it when she says she doesn't play games. Some of us really hate the games."

"But some of you like the games. And some of you say you don't play games as your opening move."

"Peter's sort of right here, Allie. We've all dated enough people who said they hated games and drama but what they really meant is they hated games they didn't win and drama they didn't create. What I'm trying to decide right now is if she is serious and doesn't want to play games or if she is trying to get the edge and is playing games."

"So what would you do if you were playing the game right now?"

"I would wait and call her on Wednesday about maybe catching a movie on Friday."

"Okay, and what would you do if you believed her and didn't play the game?"

"Don't do it! Seriously! She's just messing with you! Allie, don't lead him down this path!"

"Hush, Peter. What would you do, Stan? If you weren't worried about some stupid three day rule what would you do? You had a good time last night. You all had enough of a serious conversation that she told you she doesn't like the games what do you want to do?"

"Text her and tell her I had a really good time. See what she says."

"Then do it! What's the worst that can happen?"

Stan looked at Peter for his two cents, "The worst? She wins. First date in and she wins."

"Wins what? Wins the I know Stan had a good time contest? What's the prize we are after here?"

"Power, it's always power. Who has the upper hand in the relationship, who is winning."

Allie put her left hand on the table. "Anti up, gentlemen. I see one ring on this table. One. If it is a game I thought this is what we were playing for. Companionship. Partnership. Love. I win."

Peter looked at Stan, "See? It's always a game. Just depends on what you think the prize is worth on if you should play."

Allie rolled her eyes. "Whatever."

"Well it's been one date, I don't think I'm ready for a ring just yet. Okay, Allie, since you won, when did you call Craig after your first date? When did he call you? Remind me."

Allie started laughing, "You really don't remember? Or are you pulling my leg?"

Then it all came back to Stan and he started laughing as well.

Three years ago, sitting at this bar Allie, Peter and Stan....

"He says that he agrees with me about not playing games but...."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Yesterday I went looking for something in a box of old memories.

Wow...that sounds really poetic doesn't it? I might have to keep that for later.

Anyway...I literally pulled down a box of things I've kept from my childhood, Brent's childhood and the first few years of our marriage and dug through the stuff to look for something. Little flowers that I have been drawing for years as my absent minded doodles, to be specific. I knew that in that box there would be notes sent, letters written, old fiction starts, tons of bad poetry and also doodled in the margins those little flowers. They were there, snap, snap, snap, cut and paste and viola! picture of the day done!

But since I had the box out I poked around more and read some of the things I had kept. I had notes passed in class between old boyfriends and myself, between friends and myself and notes from Brent when we were first dating. I also had letters sent from long distance boyfriends. I thought about tossing all of those away and just keeping the ones from Brent. But then I didn't. There were reasons for keeping them. Things I wouldn't have been able to tell you before I saw them again but could now.

There was the note from a boy I dated most of the way through high school off and on. It was sent on Valentine's Day and he talked about missing seeing me during passing period but he had a surprise for me. The surprise had been a piece of jewelry he had planned on giving me (I found out later). The real surprise I got was between the time he sent me the note and the time we met up after school he had decided to break up with me. I kept the note because it was the first time I had been dumped out of the blue. And because once we were back together and broken up a few more times I thought it was just the perfect summation of our relationship. There were going to be surprises, but us not staying together wasn't one of them.

I had a letter from a boy I went out with briefly (like twice) that was one of the most infuriating and short lived relationships I had. In the letter he told me that he wasn't sure why he liked me. I wasn't feminine, like he normally went for, I wasn't blonde enough, I wasn't passive, I was pretty but not in a really obvious way, I was a little too smart. What the actual fuck? Tucked in to that envelope was the rough draft of the letter I sent him in reply that basically said what the actual fuck, though in much more polite terms. The reason we were writing letters was we were both traveling that summer, between summer camps and tours, I can remember calling him from California after sending the letter, because he had asked me to call him and for some reason I did. He wanted to get together for a coke when I got home. I laughed and asked him if he had a list of more things that were wrong with me that he was willing to overlook. We never saw each other again. But he was a good lesson for me so I kept the letters.

And I had a ton of really bad writing. Fiction, poetry, song lyrics. Why did I think I could write songs? I know I've dumped a ton of really awful stuff I've written (it's actually a bad habit of mine and one that writing on the computer made worse, too easy to delete a file) but I did keep some. Anyone who knows me now would be surprised at the religious poetry. But anyone who spent a week at El Porvenir hiking, singing and going to Bible study would understand. A lot of kids came home from camp fully committed to being minsters or missionaries. The problem is that you don't spend all of your time immersed like that and eventually the joy of camp couldn't outweigh the rest of my beliefs, or lack thereof. But that poetry and those memories are a big part of why I don't begrudge anyone their religion. I fully understand the peace that passeth understanding. I just believe it comes from a different source now.

There was an entire box of letters from Brent and to Brent from the Navy. Back in the day (yes, I am old) when Brent would go out to sea there was no internet, no Skyping, no cell phones, there was just a really short and expensive phone call when he would pull in to port and the daily letters. When I settled in for the night I would write him a letter and send it off the next day, every day. A number on the envelope to let him know which letter to read first since they came in batches. And for 6 months at a shot that's how we communicated. Questions that were asked were answered a month later. But it was a way to stay connected. The pure joy of checking the mailbox and getting a letter? Can't even describe it.

I also found some pictures of people that I scanned and posted for them on their Facebook pages, or kept and am waiting for the right time to post. I found some drawings a friend did for me when we were in high school and I scanned one of those and posted it for him. It also happened to be his birthday yesterday so it was nice to give him back something.

But mostly I looked at the things I had kept and read old work. And I wished I had more. More pictures, I had more than enough bad work. We didn't have a camera on us at all times like now so I don't have pictures of most of the people I spent most of my time with. And there are a few pictures out there that I wish I could find now. Like I know there is a shot of Brent, Cinnamon and me at the trailer on the way to graduation. I can remember posing on the steps of the porch, in my mind we are all on different stairs, each holding a cigarette and wearing our caps and gowns. But I don't have it. Or any shots of that day actually. So I looked at what I had and then I packed it all back up and had Brent put it back on the high shelf in the garage.

I could probably get rid of a lot of it and never really miss it. I couldn't have told you in more than a general sense what was in that box before yesterday morning. But it's one box. It doesn't take up much room. And in another ten years when I go through it again I will be grateful I kept it. And in another twenty I imagine I won't remember who all of those people other than Brent and I were and I can toss it all then...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pack it up...pack it in...

So last week as I was packing to go to Chicago I got to thinking about stuff. Not stuff in general, but actual volumes of stuff. When I traveled a lot I had packing down to a science. How to bring the least amount of stuff with me and still have all of the options I needed. A suit jacket over a nice blouse and skirt is good for the meetings during the day, switched to different shoes and ditching the jacket or changing the skirt for jeans and out you go for the evening.  Jewelry was limited down to a pair of earrings in my head and if there was a formal event at the end of the conference a dressier pair tucked in the makeup bag. Makeup was limited to one set of neutral colors for eye-shadow with maybe one extra color tucked in for the final night.  I could pack for a week with a single carry-on. And have room for my presentation materials. Always travel in something you could go directly to an event in just in case your flight was delayed. Pro.

Some of that has faded but I still tend to pack light when I travel. Which made me start thinking that maybe I have more stuff in my day to day living than I really need. If I could exist for 5 days on the road with only gray eye shadow do I really need green, brown, purple and all of the highlight colors as well? If I could live with just an outfit choice a day do I really need more than 7 outfits in my closet at any point in time? How about the shoes? I wore one pair and packed another and we all know even after the great broken foot purge of 2013 I still have a lot more than 2 pairs in the closet.

How much is enough?

Then we walked for miles and miles in the humidity and my sweaty feet on my leather soles gave me blisters on the bottoms of my feet. So switch out to the other shoes and we walked for miles and miles and the snug comfy shoes that are great here in Portland became torture devices as my pinky toes blistered up. What I needed was my tennis shoes. Not the ones I work out in but the ones that are just a touch too big so I could wear my cushioned socks. Both of which were back in Oregon. So maybe I couldn't really get rid of those.

And then when we got back in Oregon I was reminded that we have days like today. The high is supposed to be in the 80s by the end of the day so that means a skirt and a light blouse. But it wasn't quite 60 when we left this morning for haircuts and the clouds were so thick it was misting so that means jeans and even a light sweater and I can change later when it warms up. And since it's not really humid here I don't have to worry about sweaty feet sliding around in my shoes so I can go back to my sandals, but the silver ones since I am wearing a gray shrug this morning, maybe the tan ones would work later if I change but for now the silver. And no earrings this morning until after I get my haircut. But earrings later.

So maybe a little more than bare bones is enough.

And I really do want to get a new pair of good walking/hiking shoes that are a little stiffer than what I used to wear but not full out waffle stompers. And I still don't have much of a transition wardrobe, I have beefed up my summer selections but I don't have a lot of fall to winter things. And actually it's been so long since I shopped for sweaters that I should probably add a few more winter things as well.

So maybe a little bit more.

And with my new short hair I really would like a few more selections in the jewelry department. Maybe a collection of semi-precious stones for studs for the second hole and some more gold and silver hoops for the first? Or some other pretty dangly shiny things? Especially with as short as Sara went this morning I just feel like a pretty earring would add a nice touch.

So maybe a little more than just a little bit more.

And so it goes. I add stuff to the pile, then I take stuff away when I realize how big the pile has gotten.

We are thinking about moving in a few years and I've already started the pre-move purge. We have a lot of just things and if we do head to the city we are going to be cutting our square footage at least in half so the just things will have to go. Now if we move up to the hills they won't. So maybe I should wait until we find a place before I purge too much.

And as all of this stuff fills up the house it fills up my head too. But what to do about it all? How little can you get down to before you panic and add a lot of new stuff? I know I have purge issues. I tend to go in cycles where everything gets tossed out and I end up regretting it, thus the cooling off period between it going in the garage and actually going to Goodwill. And I also have weird sentimental connections with certain things, I have WAY TOO MUCH Christmas stuff, for instance. But I'm not sure the really austere life style would work for me. It's too tied to being poor in my head. I know that there are things I own that I don't need, don't even use, but there is a comfort for me in owning them that ties back to that. To knowing at a point in time I couldn't own them.

I know this about myself and I've learned to accept it. That owning a movie or a CD or a hardcover book (though I have started the switch to e-books) is as much about what that represents to me as it is about the actual thing itself. I guess knowing I have the choice between three different polka dotted skirts falls in to the same category.

How much is enough?

I'm not really sure, but I see a few experiments in my future....

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The number you have dialed is no longer in service...

She sat against the wall staring at her phone, not sure which she wanted more; another text or to never hear from him again.

Sitting against the wall might be overstating it. Really she was slumped against the wall. That's where she had been when her legs had given out and she had slid down to where she was now. Sitting, leaning, slumping against the wall. Knees tucked up to her chest, phone on the floor next to her, tears streaming down her face.

A friend of hers had once said "The worst tears in a breakup are the ones that come when you think you are through crying about it."

She hadn't understood at the time but now she did. She had thought she was past this part. But today she discovered there was still a deep well of bitter hot tears waiting to come out. And they were the worst. She hadn't been prepared for this to still hurt like it did. "Oh you thought you were healed? Let's just rip the band-aid off and poke at the scab a bit, shall we?"

To be fair she had cried about this on Saturday as well but it was quick. The fleeting grief over things that once were. This was the wrenching pain of never will be again. And yes, she knew she was being dramatic, but that's what it felt like. And the only way she knew how to get past it was to figure out what it was.

Every other break up she had ever had had gone well. She was the "Queen of Good Breakups." Relationships just drifted apart but the friendships stayed in tact. At 26 years old she was still friends or at least friendly with every guy she had gone out with since middle school. Her friend Jenny had told her it was because she had never had a "real" relationship. One that hadn't come with a predetermined end date. Looking back now she could see that was true. Summer crushes end when camp is over. High school boyfriends fade at the end of the school year. College boyfriends transfer or graduate. But this had been her first grown up, out on her own, real world relationship. The first time she had ever woken up next to someone and thought, "I could do this for the rest of my life."

So when it was over it hurt more.

But that had been months ago and she really had thought she was fine.

Until she got the call Saturday night. Or more accurately until she missed the call Saturday night.

She had been at the movies with friends and her phone had been tossed in the bottom of her purse. In the cab ride home she had pulled it out and noticed the 1 Missed Call, 1 Voice Mail Message notification. When she opened the voice mail and saw that it was from Ray she actually smiled. Jenny was wrong. She could maintain a friendship even after a breakup and this showed it. As the message started she wasn't sure at first what she was hearing. He had pocket dialed her by accident. He wasn't really calling her at all. She could recognized the low vibration of his voice as he talked to....who was he talking to? She couldn't make out the words but recognized the tone and then...

The realization that she was listening to Ray and his date flirting, teasing...She had pulled the phone away from her ear like it had stung her, hitting delete message. She had listened to less than a minute of the message, but it had seemed like forever. So she had cried that night. But it was quick tears. The acknowledgment that he had moved on. Which she knew he would. And really she wanted him to. She still liked him enough that she wanted him to be happy. She just hadn't ever expected to actually have to face it. Or at least not this soon. And not this personally. But a quick pep talk about life moving on and it being better for everyone and she was fine. Just fine.

Then today the text came. "Just saw that I accidentally called you Saturday, sorry about that."

"It went to my voice mail. No problem."

"Did it leave a long message?"

"Don't know, deleted it when I realized it was a pocket dial. No worries."

"Okay, cool, lol."


"Well, yeah, it could have been awkward if you had listened to it."

"You should probably just delete my number so it doesn't happen again."

And that's when her legs had given way and the tears had started. He knew. He knew what had been in the phone message. Lol? Who leaves a message for their ex-girlfriend of them with a new girl and follows it up with lol? And that's when she knew it was over. Even though they had been split for months, even though the break up had been needed, she hadn't really fully let go. Not until right then. lol.

So she stared at her phone not sure if she was willing him to send another text message or to never hear that ding again. And she cried.

The worst tears in a break up are the ones that come when you think you are through crying about it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Well that was a bust...

I have good boobs.

Okay, wait, let me back up a second. C, if you are reading this you might want to stop. I'm going to write about bras and boobs, mine specifically, so you are totally off the hook for any mom guilt on not reading my blogs, the one I wrote earlier today was about seeing Neil Gaiman and I will be back with fiction later this week so feel free to skip this one.

Okay, back. I have good boobs. I do. I'm vain about them, as you all know. I keep my weight above a certain level so they don't go away. I got them early (like between 7-9) and they've been a source of pride and frustration ever since. Because I got them so early I learned their power before I ever hit high school. I once got an entire set of appliances loaned to our high school theater department with nothing more than a smile and a low cut shirt. I've written before about figuring out I was pregnant by knocking over a display of oranges at the grocery store with my newly expanded bust line and how the maternity store had to special order bras for me because they didn't carry any in my size. I know that a lot of men believe that a woman with big boobs must be stupid, not because they are sexist necessarily, but because big boobs make them stupid so they think it must be universal.

I take care of them. You all know I am diligent about my yearly exams. The smash 'em flat and take a picture isn't the most fun thing to do with my day, but with great boobs comes great responsibility so I lay 'em on the glass once a year. I also wear good bras. I'm 44 years old, almost 45, my weight has gone up and down and I've had a kid. Good bras are necessary. Which is where this blog comes in.

I have to admit that my good boobs are enhanced. Not surgically, though there is nothing wrong with that, as a friend of mine says the real question isn't are they real or fake it's how do they taste? Mine just happen to be real. But they aren't as big as they appear. Not because I've added Wonder Bra technology or chicken cutlets (ask your friends) or surgical add ons, but because I have a really narrow back. Ladies, bear with me since you already know all of this; guys here is the way sizes work.

To get a bra size you measure your rib cage right under the breast for the band size (and round to the nearest even number) and then measure the fullest part of your breast while you are wearing a bra for the cup size. The difference between the band and the full is what determines the cup. Say you are a 36 C (which is always the measurement you hear held up as the gold standard) that means that you have a 36 inch rib cage and the fullest part of your chest is 39 inches. Three inch difference means a C cup. So you can see that if you are larger in the rib cage even if you have an additional 3 inches tacked on it's not going to stand out as much as if you are smaller. The difference between 40 and 43 (a 40C) isn't going to look as impressive as the difference between 36 and 39 (the 36C) it's math.

I wear a 32 inch band.

So you can see that anything tacked on to that is going to seem like a bigger difference than if I were bigger around to start. So I sort of cheat where other chesty women are concerned. I'm not massive by any stretch but because I am so narrow any additional size adds up in the inches pretty quickly. And since I told you all my weight a few weeks ago and my dress size what's hampering me from sharing my bra size? Because it just seems weird. Okay, deep breath, I tack on an additional 5 inches from band to full. And since I'm narrow that 5 looks pretty impressive, even though a 38 inch band wouldn't be unheard of for an average busted woman. Make sense?

Okay so on to the next part.

Bra fittings. I hate shopping in general, as you all know. But bra shopping is another ring of hell for me. Because of my size I cannot just go grab something off the shelf at Target and be happy. Often I can't even get something at Victoria's Secret because my band and cup size combination are a "specialty size" and don't even get me started on the fact that they charge me more because of it. If you aren't going to charge the woman in the A cup less then where do you get off charging me more? Hmmm???

So to buy a bra and make sure it fits right you have a fitting. Guys, I want you to imagine what this is like. You have to go in to the dressing room with another woman who measures you and brings you bras to try on and arranges you in them and...Okay, stop it. That's not what it's like at all. Stop imagining super models and picture little old ladies instead, I usually call her Olga. Okay, wait, how about this..

Imagine if you had to do this when buying underwear. Olaf would go in to the dressing room with you. Measure your waist then measure your penis. The difference between those would determine your pouch size. Then he would bring you underwear to try on. But you can't just put it on yourself, he has to make sure you have all of the straps and hooks adjusted right. And now you should bend over to make sure you get all of your boy bits in the pouch just right. Now he's going to run a hand over you and around the band and check to make sure the pouch is full but not tight, and there is no pinching or pulling and...

Yeah, it's like that. Super uncomfortable. But to get a good fit you do it. Then you discover that because you have a large package, which is good thing and you are as proud of something that you had no control over as you can be, you are going to have to pay more for your underwear than a smaller packed guy would. But it's okay, you will look good and be more comfortable so you do it.

So this is why I was super excited when Brent told me about two companies that were going to put the end to me and Olga in a dressing room together! Yay! Jockey with their new way of fitting a bra and True & Co. with their new way of shopping for one! It's the dawn of a new era! It's so exciting! It's...a blog.

First off was Jockey. They are completely reinventing bra sizes. Instead of the A-Z method of cup sizing you get 1-10. Based on volume. Seriously. So they send you a sizing kit and you measure your band size and your volume size and order your bra based on that. I have pictures to explain the process...

These are the volume cups. They come nested like Russian Boob Dolls
All laid out from 1-10

This is what size #1 looks like in my hand so you can see they start small and go from there

How I imagine most guys bra shopping for their wives, Yep this one seems about right

The band, this is pretty normal. If you are a 32-33 you order 32

After measuring (no I didn't take pictures of that part!) I ordered and here is my lovely bra box. 

Ta da! Just for presentation points alone I sort of love this bra.

And this is what it was packed in. Or I guess what was packed in it.
This just made me laugh. Having never hit the bra stuffing need I was just so amused by this
Seriously! Even the cardboard cut outs are shaped!

Okay, so the bra is pretty, the sizing process was different, what was the outcome? A horribly uncomfortable bra. Now this isn't really all Jockey's fault, but they did skip one important step in their new revolutionary sizing methods. Yes, women's breast are all about volume and I think that's pretty ingenious but they are also about placement. My boobs happen to be really good friends and are close together on my chest. Some boobs are a little more about spacing. When you see a woman who is wearing a dress cut down to her belly button and is only showing a hint of boob? Her boobs are spaced farther apart. Viva la difference! But Jockey assumed that my boobs didn't like each other much and there is a full inch of spacing between the cups. Ouch. Also they have a new thing they are trying in replacing the under-wire, not so comfortable this giant wedge of plastic in my rib cage. So the bra goes back. (also there was a lot of talk on forums about how expensive this bra is, it's $60 which to me is about normal for a bra, if I were a different size and used to be being able to pick up a bra at Target for $20 I can see how this would be huge sticker shock)

On to the next company True & Co. Their whole pitch is about how much shopping for a bra sucks and how great it would be not to have to see Olga anymore. Okay, I will give it a shot! So you go online and take their survey. You start with a bra that you love and fits great and in put that information. Brand, size, what you like about it. Then they walk you through a few other questions. How are you shaped, round, teardrop, those sorts of things. What is your problem area, do you get quad boob or back fat, for instance, then they bring you to your suggestions page.

So the next step is you pick 3 bras and they pick 2 and send you all five to try on. You keep the ones you like and ship back the ones you don't. Pretty cool right? But I wasn't getting a warm fuzzy from the start. See they have you enter your favorite current bra and the size at the beginning, so they know my size, but when I would click a bra the size they recommended for me from my feedback earlier was a band size bigger and a cup size smaller. I decided to go ahead and trust them. Different bras fit in different ways so maybe each one of these ran a little snug in the band and a little full in the cup. So I place my order. A week later I get an email letting me know that two of my choices were out of stock so they would be waiting another three days before shipping to see if they came in. If not they would just put two additional recommendations in the box instead. Okay....

So another week goes by and I get my sizing box!
Bigger box.

Not as many points for packaging but as the card says, fit is what matters!

Letting me know what I need to do next

And my selection. Super pretty collection right?

And what I kept. 
So that didn't work out so well. As expected the cups were all too small. Quad boob. Hate that. And there were a couple that no woman over a B cup would wear unless her boobs were fake. There just wasn't enough support. I don't want to look like droopy old lady thank you very much. So for them I think they need to pay more attention to the size people actually say they are and maybe ask if their breasts are real or not. If I had fake boobs that actually stayed in one place I would wear the pretty lace thing. Or not, I mean if they stayed where there were supposed to I guess you wouldn't need to wear anything at all.

So the great online bra sizing experience was (as the title said) a bust. BUT I like the idea of the Jockey sizing system, it's just not quite there yet. And I like the idea of the True & Co. try and buy from home system it's just not got quite the right algorithm going yet. And basically I like the idea of anything that keeps me from a dressing room. But since they don't work I will be taking the girls shopping and visiting with Olga again. Maybe if she bought me a drink first it wouldn't be so bad....

Being a fangirl is hot...

When C was giving his capstone presentation at ACMA one of the kids listening to him talk asked him about Magic the Gathering. C's response was "I am a geek, but not that kind of geek." It made me laugh then and it has stuck with me. What kind of geek are you? I am a shallow geek. Not that I'm shallow, though I can be, but that I like a lot of different things but I don't dive really deep in to much. I'm not an immersed in one world geek. But one of the areas I come the closest is with Neil Gaiman. He writes. A lot. In a lot of different genres. And I will read almost everything he does. I say almost everything because he's written a couple of Dr. Who episodes and I am not that kind of geek, so I've never seen those.  But I have read his graphic novels, his fantasy stories, his kid's books, his poetry, his short stories, I've listened to his speeches, I follow him on Facebook, I am a Gaiman type of geek. So when my friend Tiffany let me know he was coming to town to promote his new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane I bought a ticket for myself and one for C (a mini-Gaiman geek) and waited.

And waited, and waited. Seriously I bought the tickets in April when they went on sale and the event wasn't until the last weekend in June. When you are that kind of geek that just seems like too long to wait. But I'm glad I bought the tickets right away, I found out they sold out in 2 hours. Two hours to sell 945 tickets. Yes, almost a thousand people were going to be there. And it was general admission seating so you needed to get there early. So I planned! Ish.

And here is where the day takes the turns that days do.

As you all know I've gotten weird about crowds in my dottage. I've never been a huge fan but I can fake it if I have to. Since I am now in a position where I don't have to fake it, I don't. The balancing act of when do we get there so we could get in and get decent seats vs. how long do we sit in the crowd starts. Doors opened at 2, the event started at 3 so I decided that really getting there and in line by 1:30 would be okay. We got downtown and found parking in a, umm, technically it was a parking garage. That's what the sign said, and it had 24 hour access and it was close to the event so in we went.

Parking is $8, not cheap for a Saturday afternoon, but it was close and did I mention it was 90+ degrees outside so close was good? So first off we do the I have a $10 to pay and she has no change dance. Fine, dig out the credit card, get that handled and as she hands me the ticket she says, "Here is the number to call if you get back after 6 so someone can let you in and out." Ummm...what? So much for 24 hour access, yes, you can get your car out after 6 but you have to call and wait. Well hell....maybe the autograph session will go quickly and it won't be an issue. "Park on second floor please."

We drive up to the second floor. Now imagine, if you will, what would happen in a house that wasn't designed for cars if they took the stairway and turned it in to a ramp. Yep. SUPER STEEP! Eep!! Okay, we make it to the second floor and parking spaces are arranged well, they are arranged. The first place I thought about pulling in had a pile of glass where someone's window had been busted out. This is super great. I pull in to another space, I think it was a space, who knows what it was really, and say a little prayer to the car watch gods that my windows will all be in one piece when the event is over and off we go.

The stairs out of the garage put us out a block away from the entrance (foreshadowing) so we cross the street and start the hike back up to the front. As we pass by Ringler's (bar in the bottom floor of the Crystal Ballroom) I see a line inside, "Oh," I think to myself, "Due to the heat they must have decided to put the line inside instead of outside that's nice" We go in, check at the front door that this is the line for the Gaiman event are told yes and we head to the back of the line. I'm doing the calculations in my head and if the line is from where we are, through Ringler's, up the three flights of stairs to the Crystal Ballroom we are probably about 250 people in. That's not terrible. So we wait in line for 25 minutes, get to the front where they are scanning tickets and....

This was the wrong line. Yes it was A line for the Gaiman event, but it was the early entrance pay extra line. Now if I had known about such a deal I probably would have taken it, but it was too late now. So back outside we go to get in the other line. Which has been growing since we got in the wrong line about a half hour ago. We follow the line from the front door, around the corner, back around another corner, back to the corner we passed walking out of our parking garage. Where you all notice I did not mention seeing a line before. So by being in the wrong line for a half hour I am guessing we are about 300 people behind where we would have been. Ugh.

But if we hadn't had to line up outside I would have missed this perfectly Portland moment.

So disappointed. And did I mention it was 90+ outside? So we wind our way through the new line and 20 minutes later we get to the front door. I hold out our tickets to be scanned and notice the first "uh oh" of the day that actually worried me. My hand is shaking. A lot. Well this isn't good. Up we go the three flights of stairs to The Crystal Ballroom and my shaking isn't getting better by the hike. Uh oh. Then we get to the event, get our copies of the book and go to sit down. And discover that no, they still have not put air in. Anyone who tells you that AC in Portland isn't necessary is lying to you. Just know that right now. We have stretches of heat during the summer and if you don't have AC you either have to head to the beach or know you are going to be miserable. AC is needed. The Crystal Ballroom now filling with 945 of my soon to be closest friends does not have AC. Uh oh.

But they do have free water! So off to get us big giant glasses of water! This will help. And the big fans will help. And using the index card they gave us to write questions on will help. It will be fine. I mean, how much hotter can it get really? And I'm from New Mexico for crying out loud, my heat genes have to kick in soon! Right?
And we are inside and waiting for Neil Freaking Gaiman so it's all good in the hood...
The very crowded hood...

And so we wait, and the crowd fills in even more and I notice a guitar on stage and wonder what the heck that is all about and then FINALLY it's 3 and we are going to start! Yay! Okay, well, not really. It's Portland so the 3 was an estimate. Another few minutes pass and the guy from Powell's hits the stage and is proud to introduce to us...

This guy...

Umm...what? Jason Webley. Apparently he sings a funny song about an aardvark though for us he did a song about a giraffe. And he had fans in the audience who were really excited to see and hear him and did I mention it's over 90 degrees outside and I am pretty sure pushing 100 inside? So a few songs from him, that I am sure were lovely and the bit about the giraffe was cute but just not so much my kind of geek, NOW we are going to see...

Stephanie Stricklen!

Again..umm...what? Though to be fair she was adorable and is that kind of geek and I enjoyed her piece about making art. Because I am that kind of geek.

And then.. well...
Shot with an iPhone to give you a feel for the distance

Reading from Ocean

Answering questions from the audience

Blurry but it was quick, she got a kiss. Squee!

Reading from the book proofs for Fortunately the Milk (will be published in September)

Okay, let me say right now that hearing him read is always a pleasure. I love hearing him do voices for his own characters, what does he "hear" when he is writing them? What is the cadence he builds in the story? All of that is just like sugar to me. And then the audience questions? Gold. The stories and extra bits he added to what seemed like straight up questions that would have been straight up answers? Loved it all. He is an odd one for an author. Being able to write doesn't mean you can perform. The fact that he is the voice on his own audio books actually shows that he can. Being entertaining while you wilt in the heat at the end of a very long book tour is a talent unto itself. 

Then the break came so they could set up for the signing. You have a bookmark that shows you what group you will be in so please be patient. Okay...I get up go use the restroom and notice that though I have been drinking a lot I'm not exactly showing that. Anyone who has ever had an issue with heat knows what I am saying. So I get us more water and go sit back down convincing myself that it's fine. They call the first group and I set my timer to see how long it takes them. They call the next group and I check, 17 minutes. So 17 per group and we are how many groups back? I look over at the people currently in line and see a woman that we passed headed back to back of the line. The first line. The early admittance line. She is in the second group. Uh oh. 

But there are big fans set up so that will help. You know except for the fact that after the talk people got up and went to stand directly in front of the fans to cool off. Great for them but you know TOTALLY BLOCKING THE AIR FOR EVERYONE ELSE! And then the line for the signatures actually went in front of the fan near us as well so the part that wasn't being blocked by the douchbag who has been told twice to please go sit down is now being blocked by the line. Okay...this is fine...I will just start reading and distract myself.

So I reach the fourth chapter and...give up. I had told C earlier that I wasn't feeling well and he had wanted to give up then. See we could trade our books in at the door for a copy that was signed that morning. What we would be giving up by not staying was a chance for him to sign my "Make Good Art" card and get a picture "near Neil" he wouldn't actually pose with you, 945 people you see, but you could stand near him and they would take your picture. And I am a big enough fan that this was a tempting offer for me. Near Neil. A signature on something that speaks to me. And then I stood up to get a little more air and...well...uh oh.

So I decided that my day with Neil should not end with him telling the story of the book signing where the woman passed out in line and vomited on her way down spewing creativity and bile on everyone around her.

We got home, I took a cold shower and drank another ton of water and Brent said, "I'm sorry the day was a disappointment for you" and I had to tell him that it wasn't. Yes, we ended up out in the heat for longer that was good for either of us. No I didn't actually get to be one of the 945 people who stood near him for a photograph or got a signature on an additional item. But I was able to hear him read from his new book and from a book he hasn't even published yet. I got to hear him comparing growing up in England to being in Portland in a very funny way. I got to listen to him talk about Clive Barker's fans and how grateful he is that his fans are different, but not that kind of different. And I got a signed copy of his new book. And I got to share it all with C. And I didn't vomit.

It was a good day. 

Neil Freaking Gaiman, people!