Hair Salons and Dentists and Personal Weird-itry

I recently went to the dentist.  Not particularly good news, as I had two cavities filled that same visit, but then again, the dentist thought one would be a root canal.  So I was rather relieved.

I had another reason to be relieved as well.  Before that visit, it had been awhile since I had been to the dentist…years, minimum.  I mean I brush my teeth the requisite two minutes plus every day twice a day (I haven’t quite made it the the new requisite of three or four quite yet) and I even usually floss. Hey, even the dentist and the ? man (don’t know the title) who did the x-rays said I had a really small mouth, it’s really hard to reach!  So I just avoided it until it felt like I had broken a tooth, and couldn’t chew anything on that side of the mouth.  But now that I have been, and have discovered that I will have to revisit before to long to get braces and lose wisdom teeth.  Fun yes?

Yes. Well not fun so much as not scary.

It turns out I’m not afraid of the dentist.  Lucky, lucky me.  Bad enough that I have all four wisdom teeth that need to be removed, but at least I’m not going to get a panic attack on the way to the appointment.  And I’m not making light of those who do either.  I’ve had panic attacks, and they aren’t any fun at all.  But when I was getting my cavities filled, I was watching the dentist.  I could feel him scraping and drilling, and I was fascinated.  Weird? Very.  Don’t worry, I do know that.

Especially since, and this is where the title comes in, I don’t like getting my hair cut because when my hair is getting shampooed it freaks me out.

You read that right.  I’m fine with some strange man with scrubs and latex glove sticking his fingers in my (numbed) mouth with power tools, but some lady sudsing my hair is the situation that really bothers me.  I am a very odd person in my head. And with my head.  Large personal bubble, usually.  Then again, first situation, drugs and “shiny-new-type-situation” is involved, and the other a significant likelihood of actually having to listen to the hairstylist talking at me.  Not that I dislike hairstylists, specifically, but I don’t like being a captive audience, as much as I like having one.

In (one of) my editing class(es) we had to read a story about a women who worked at a one-hour-photo place and who happened to be crazy. It’s called “Picture Perfect” I think, and the story was connected to an essay by the editor who published it.  Apparently, the author herself didn’t actually feel it was worth publishing because she didn’t think it was good enough. (It was.) But everyone else focused on how crazy the Laurie character was, and yet, I could only think, well, yes, she’s crazy: but I was already sympathetic with the author, and you know, should I ever go crazy, I probably would be something like Laurie.  Never answer my phone–not so much obsessing over the neighbor’s answering machine though. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t take it that personally, because, frankly, I can empathize way too easily.  I don’t necessarily think it’s a flaw; but when I start realizing that I can understand what reasons people give for reasons such murder and other crimes against societies “mores” (dangit, that sociology class is going to be of use somewhere!) then I know I’m going a bit far in my identification with their character.

You know, I probably just read way too much as a kid.

(Randomness is my forte.  I could go back to wrap this up so it makes sense with the beginning of the post, but I’m too lazy to go back and read it.  So there.)

A Cappuccino or Some Coffee

There is a tiny percentage of people in the world you may be able to get the reference of the title. But probably not.

(Warning: made-up words ahead)

Anyway.  Did you know that that not too long ago, nearly everyone accepted that a “cup” of coffee was about 4 ounces?  Because that’s the appropriate survey. Now I know why I’m so irritated by all my coffee and tea individual package directions telling me to add 2-3 tbs per 6 ounces hot water, when I know I don’t like to use mugs smaller than, say, 12 ounces. Now most of those I own are probably 8 ounces, so I use a little less. So I double all of those directions, and get mad, because it seems like cheating on the part of the companies that they haven’t adjusted for modern tastes.

But, as with food, I know rationally that despite stupid people, it is not their responsibility to follow modern tastes.  Again, stupid people.  (From the direction of this post, you should already know that I am not entirely discluding myself from that group.)  So it’s perfectly fair for them to create a product that is adjusted for reality verses society. Oooh, I like that phrase.

And yet, upping the coffee intake since then really that bad?  I don’t think so.  Yes, in many cases I’m probably wrong…but when “we” as a culture, including the British and early United Statesians, thought of coffee as a specialty.  It was only for having a little bit of a time, and savored.  I’m sure there’s an equivalent now, but I can’t think of one.  Eventually, coffee likely just became absorbed into the culture, it was nothing more special than a drink to keep you awake when we first started deciding to fit as much work into as little time as possible.  The cup sizes never got any larger because it was accepted that a cup of coffee was only 4 ounces.  No one bothered to think of it.  Also, the coffee probably wasn’t all that good.

It’s only since the days of Starbucks and other coffee-type-specialty-drink stores started popping up, and then we decided that it was special again, and also good to use to keep awake.  So coffee started tasting better: because it was better in the first place, and also had lots of sugar, milk and coffee.  And we wanted even longer work days–that I don’t know the reason for. And everyone started drinking espresso in their fancy coffees as it comes in smaller cups, and therefore can accommodate more foamed milk, even as it has less caffeine than coffee.  Which naturally leads to the idea that you may as well just add more of it to make up the difference.

We’re probably okay on our coffee drinking in my opinion.  I can’t have it everyday, but I can when I want it because I can make foamed milk.  And I have hot chocolate packets, which adds up to a pretty good mocha latte.  Even then, however, I don’t drink as much as some others in the world–maybe a total 12 ounces of coffee–occasionally, hmmm, 20?  Maybe not that much, I can’t really judge…again, the milk takes up lots of space, and I can’t buy coffee all that often. But I can drink a coffee drink up until about an hour or two before I go to sleep (say a double espresso) and sleep just fine–admittedly, with very odd dreams, but it is good solid sleep.  Unless I don’t want to of course.

Anyway, there are some important reasons to drink coffee.  If you write fiction, it is simply unimaginable to try to face a blank page without some good-old-caffeine courage. And I personally will allow tea as well.  But, (if you’re a purist tea lover, nothing wrong with that!, don’t read) I like my tea very strong, hot, milky and sweet.  Shocking.

But having that drink on hand makes you–read, me–feel much more like writing.  If I can’t savor what words are on the page, at least I can savor the drink.

And I’ll stop here for the sole reason that I think this will be my shortest post ever!  I’ve been working on that.

Disclaimer:  I have absolutely no authority on this subject.  It’s all conjecture.  But I’m pretty sure it’s not all that far off…I have to have something that makes me feel better about my caffeine intake.

To Sleep…Seriously, No More

So, I don’t like to sleep.  Sometimes.  This varies: often I do like to sleep.  Particularly to sleep in. However, when I am stressed about the future I cannot help remembering that any particular person will spend about one-third of their life asleep.  A whole third.  That’s, like, a lot.

I apologize.

Anyway I don’t think there has been one day this week that I actually went to bed before midnight…and that does not include the time spent in actually falling asleep.  Then I have, or had, my alarm set for six-thirty in the morning.  Admittedly, I didn’t actually get up until only half-an-hour before class several days, but it still overall completely ruined my sleep schedule.  I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee.

I need my sleep. That’s all.  Of course now that I really do: i.e. school is in full swing and I need a job and I’m a procrastinator at the best of times, I’ve installed the StumbleUpon toolbar.  Will I ever sleep again?

Doubtful.

But I found one site there that does relate to this post (eventually).  It’s called LikeBetter (I think) and you just choose out of two pictures which one you prefer until the brain says it has something to say about you.  And then you tell it whether it was right or wrong. Generally it worked well for me…at least until it thought I was a guy.  I don’t know if I want to analyze that particular answer. Anyway, after one sequence of picture-choosing, the brain said I was a night person.  My brother’s first thought was, yeah that’s right. (He was visiting–or rather needed a place to sleep last night, so I got to see him. Yay!  And I’ll see him on Tues, twice, I think, and he’ll bring me Apartment Life.  Yay!)

Re-railing this post.  Yes, lately I’ve been a night-owl type.  This usually happens once school starts, and I actually have to do homework.  I can’t do all my online stuff, not to mention my games, writing, knitting and other free time stuff until I get back home.  And that’s especially hard now that I actually hang out with friends.  Seriously, this has been totally screwing with my academic life.  (Well not really, actually it’s really helpful when I’m writing an essay specifically and can brainstorm with a bunch of other people who have some idea of what I’m talking about.) But it does mean that I don’t have nearly as much time to screw around in. Though I do anyway.

And I stay up too late and don’t get up until pretty much just before I have to leave for class.

Why don’t I consider myself a true night person then?  Because I really like to get up early.  Preferably before, say, 6:30 am.  When I do manage to get up that early, I tend to accomplish much more.  There’s more daylight to work with, and while I have just as many hours when I stay up late, I don’t have the motivation.  I love the early morning light, and the way the sun slants through the window just after eight.  And I can appreciate that so much more when I’ve already had coffee and breakfast.

I can get kind of obsessive about not wasting time–though I continue to do so–especially when I’m stressed.  When I was really depressed my junior year in high school I didn’t want to sleep at all.  Seriously.  Mostly I just got stuck on the idea that as human beings we spend approximately a full third of our lives asleep.

What a waste of time, right?

This was before I’d come to the realization that sleep, is, in fact, the only the best, most useful part of the day.  So lets just say it probably didn’t help that I was depressed.  They (they being scientists, somewhere, apparently doing research, probably with federal grants) have found that the clinically depressed, are often also often chronically sleep-deprived.  And I have discovered since then that I need between eight and nine hours of sleep at night.  No matter what time of night, or what time my alarm goes off, if I go back to sleep, I will get back up almost exactly nine hours lately.  Or sometimes eight, if I did intend on getting up for something.  For example, when my brother came by he didn’t get here until after midnight, and we ended up talking until nearly two.  I woke up this morning enough to turn off the alarm and actually got up at almost exactly 10 am because I was going to help my youngest brother with his essay.

I know I’m an English major because I wanted to take the thesis (which was very good) from his one-and-a-half page draft and turn it into an eight page paper just for kicks.  He was very grateful that I didn’t try to make him do that.

P.S. You’re also supposed to sleep better in a dark room as well.  I’ve always preferred pitch black.  Unfortunately someone made the incredibly odd decision to install indoor office fluorescent strip lights on the walkway (where the only windows are).  They are rusting.  Then again,  the cover came loose on the light nearest the stairway, and it has killed lots of bugs.  It must be their supa-secret plan.  And so long as I don’t get electrocuted.  But at any rate, it means my room is darkest (currently) at about 6:30pm just before those lights come on.  Blackout curtains, maybe, if I ever think of them and can afford them at the same time.

Sweating Blood

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler

Writing is something that many people do now.  Blogs, obviously, and I’ve obviously been infected by that.  But also fiction writing and poetry.  With (literally) tons of books written on the subject of helping even the those unfamiliar with pencils to write fiction and get it published! lots of people try their hand, fail miserably and try to get published.  The greatest obstacle faced by these authors is their own inability to rate their fiction.  Or anyone else’s.  This is my failing as well.

I like to write…not so much here actually, because, really, who cares?  Most of what I would write here is stuff I’d be perfectly comfortable talking about with my friends.  And since they are the only ones who actually likely to read this, I could just talk to them in person.  But I’m not very good at steering conversations, so whatever I don’t say in person, I can say here.  Anyway.  Fiction writing: I do enjoy.  Unlike the authors who dream of success I don’t.  Nor do I try poetry.  Fortunately I had to practice writing poems for a class, and have so discovered, it is not, nor will it ever be, my forte. (Convoluted sentences with too many adverbs, maybe.)

Telling stories.  That, in my opinion is how one can recognize someone else who could write. Well ususally, but right now, I’m not look for exceptions.  My youngest brother could be an absolute genious writer.  Make lots of money, even, and be on talk shows.  He can be very charming, and oh! can he tell a story.  When he was little and a friend didn’t come to class, he’d tell us it was because the kid’s grandfather’s plane had gone down in the Atlantic Ocean, and the whole family was dead. (Disregarding that the kid’s older sister was in my class and I’d seen her that day–he’d say it was because she hadn’t gone.) His talent: the plot, of course, but also the concrete details that really make a story convincing. He’s also tends to be morbid, benefitting both the boy in him, and the storyteller.  My middle brother is also good at telling stories when he chooses to.  Sometimes just to mess with me when I ask him a question, and he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll just make up something.  Again, concrete details and absolute confidence.  I believe him every time.

Me?  As you may have guessed from the end of that last paragraph, I’m rather credulous.  Also, I miss some great opportunities for telling stories, because when they come, they fly right by me.  Can’t even hear the ‘whoosh’ as they hurdle overhead.

And I’m the one who really wants to tell the stories.  The one who has almost literally spent my entire conscious life reading everything I can get my hands on. The one who used to take the characters from those books and making up my own stories from them as I went to sleep at night. (In middle school…before Harry Potter…I was so relieved when I discovered fan fiction.  I wasn’t crazy after all!  Or at least wasn’t crazy alone.)

So I’ve found a few stories that I did in the years between when it never occurred to me to write (or not) and when I decided I couldn’t write.  There’s one from about sixth-grade, which for it’s grade level, has a good, tight plot; interesting, complex characters; and a happy ending.  And an epilogue for Mice and Menfor a 9th grade English assignment.  It’s interesting, and I think, not too bad.

Then, I think it was my senior year in high school, maybe junior, I decided I could write.  (As differentiated from “just writing when I felt like it”)  I wrote a 7 (?) page story based on the usualassignment to imitate the “Walter Mitty” story.  I thougt mine very clever.  Then we had an assignment to write a traditional gothic story–think Poe.  I was very pleased with both of these attempts and they both had several drafts.  I was so impressed with myself, I made two of my favorite teachers read them several times each.

Recently I have found them again.  You could say the gothic one was Poe-esque, only it’d be a horrible insult to Poe.  Very sophomoric…very stereotypically attempt, in fact, in imitating Poe, with absolutely no value in it whatsoever as I can recall.  Maybe there’s something good about it, but even if I knew where it was, I’m not sure I could bring myself to actually read it again.  As for the first “Secret Life” it did exactly what it was supposed to do.  There were even some interesting bits of characterization and description.  But most of it was just…blah.  Really nothing, no substance (although better than the gothic, which was nothing but a desperate, desperate pasting of heavy words onto emptiness to imitate substance) and a really jerky ending.  As in, it ended.  Stupidly.

I took the writing class in community college.  Wrote several bad poems.  Finished one, maybe two, stories.  And started two ridiculous attempts at plays.  One of the stories I took to a novel writing group I went to once a week, and it, apparently, was not a total failure.  These people had very good judgment, good writers themselves, and I trusted it.  I’d been with the group for two years before they saw this story, and they liked it.  We circled some problems with tense and such near the end, but they thought it good.

I’d actually been attending that group because when I was so enthused with my writing in high school, I took on the greatest attempt at all for the new writer armed with too many writing books.  I tried to write a novel.  I wrote maybe 100 pages total, about thirty perhaps usable…if I’d actually decided to try to continue it.  Whenever I brought anything to the meetings, I read quietly, quickly, and immediately apologized for the quality.  Then they’d tell me it was good, and to stop apologizing because I was better than I thought I was. Am.

Then, after that group, was when I realized how bad those two I wrote in late high school were, and I gave up for awhile entirely…for instance the novel has been abandoned.  I tried NaNoWriMo last year, and kind of liked that attempt, as I didn’t dislike the ‘novel’ I’d been working on before, or the sixth-grade story, or the Steinbeck epilogue.  But apparently…I tend to write extreme characters.  Actually in many ways they reflect how I think, and then I show them to other people, who say they are weird, and need serious help.  Which may be a good argument against having this blog.  But anyway, I took that to mean, I can’t do characterizations, can’t write, etc, etc.  Well, I thought I could write, but not for actual people to read, besides me.

Then I joined a website with a very supportive and kind (and genuine) group, that really welcomed me. For a fandom that I’ve never really been strongly involved in, and I was inspired to write something that I could post and share there, as thanks.  So I’ve started working on something.  And actually working on it.  Planning ahead, revising, actual working that I’ve never really attempted with my writing before.

I’m really enjoying it.  It’s not the best.  And (self-helpness-type happy ending ahead) it’s not as bad as lots of other stories that I can find on the internet.  Or even published (think Harlequin).  Well, maybe nearly as good as that.  But it doesn’t matter.  In this case, I know that the readers where I post it will either like it and say so, or they might not say anything because they don’t so much.  So long as I don’t expect to be the next J.K. Rowling (who I’m not sure I’d want to be anyway) it’s all good.

Goodnight.

Fandom

Pssst…I stole this from my myspace…just to have something here.

This is not a review of the book named below…for one thing, I didn’t read it.  This is not a critique of so-called “fandoms”…for another thing, I don’t belong to all that many. This is…random thoughts that have been percolating in my mind for awhile.

Disclaimer: The author is not responsible for any mental confusion that may result from the reading of this “web log”, or the attempted comprehension thereof.

I recently picked up a book at the library: The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, I think.  I stopped reading Harry Potter years ago now, and really can’t bear to go back. Whatever lingering interest I had was killed by the over-commercialization of the series–not to mention the movie trailers.  So I don’t know why I picked it up, and even checked it out, before realizing I seriously had no interest in reading anything along those subject lines, much less that long.

At any rate, I did end up carrying it around with me for about an hour, and in the meantime, the section about the “fandom” of the series caught my eye. And I read it of course.  I also flipped through some of the rest.  One of the first things I noticed overall was how overwhelmingly skewed it seemed to be to the positive of the series.  I don’t have anything against Harry Potter other than my lack of interest, but it seemed that The Ivory Tower had no other purpose but to defend it against all comers.  Seemed odd to me, for an academic perspective.  Then again, I didn’t read all of it, or even much of it, so I might be wrong.

But in the chapter on the Harry Potter community, the author discussed going online to read the websites and forums devoted to the series.  Apparently at the time (2002 or before) the series was (mock quote) “mature and intellectual for the age of the participatants” who were usually young and female.  Which is true, online fan groups do seem to be made up of younger female fans.  Or at least many of them are…others are composed of much older people, etc etc.

One thing that really caught my eye, though, was that the author thought this characteristic (maturity) was unique among Harry Potter fans.  Well, it’s fortunate that he/she got the chance to write their article so early because, while I never (fortunately) got too involved in the HP fandom (one word: twincest.  two more words: middle school), I can say that that peace did not last long.  Awhile ago…at least several months…I found a 5 page livejournal post just about how someone in the fanfic hp community had several identies and had real-life death threats…and that does it no justice at all.  It was awesome…and apparently is gone now.  Although I’m still looking for it, naturally.

In the looking though, I found this quote that sums up how badly the author misjudged the fandom:  “In terms of sheer quantity, this fandom outwanks them all. For batshit insanity, perhaps only the LOTR fandom surpasses it. So often is it featured on Fandom Wank that some FW readers’ idea of heaven would be a world without Harry Potter.” link Also, look up wank, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  But the point is, many Harry Potter “participating” fans…I specify participating, because I can’t comment on those who don’t…come across as completely crazy.  I’m sure they’re not. But many many sound like it.

This brings me to remember at least one thing I had intended to mention though:  this article, and most discussion of fan communities in general discuss it as though its some strange feature of crazy people, and bears no relation to “us” as normal people.  It’s what the weird people do.  Except, and I’m stealing this idea from somewhere I can’t remember, it makes a lot more sense and is a lot more rational than middle aged men taking of their shirts, painting their chests green and yellow, and standing with thousands of others to yell at much younger men sweating and fighting over a ball.  So there.  Liking sports is fine, and there’s nothing wrong with liking them, but there’s really nothing different about the impulse to talk to others about the books/games/movies you really liked, except for the most part, if you tried to strike up conversation in an elevator, people are either less likely to know what you’re talking about, or less willing to talk about it.  Stigma, you know.  Messes with people’s heads, it does.

Anyway, I think to wrap up, because my fingers are tired and it’s late, online forums devoted to books/games/tv, etc, are really just everyday conversations written down.  And those not involved think it’s stupid, because most things you say in person are stupid when written down.  Like this.

I’m not ashamed!  (Sorry)

Dang, there was a lot more I wanted to say…but that would mean writing it ahead of time, and actually working on it.  So this is all.

MsScribe hilariousness here.