November 24, 2015

Nanowrimo: Throwing in the Towel

So, for the first time, after much prompting from my wonderful fiancĂ©e, I finally worked up the nads to participate in November’s Nanowrimo event, where a few hundred thousand writers around the world endeavor to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I was pretty excited to finally be writing for Nanowrimo for the first time. I had participated in ways in the past, treating Nano more as a writer’s holiday where I work on a current literary project every day, sometimes with a word count of 800 words per day. In doing that, it took me…oh, about 3 years…to complete the first draft of a novel. So I read books about Nanowrimo (Including No Plot? No Problem! written by the event’s founder,) I created character profiles and an outline for a story I’d been thinking about on and off since high school. The average word per day to complete 50,000 words by November 30th was a bit over 1,600, so I bumped it up to an even 2,000 words per day. It was thrilling! But at the same time, I was terrified. 50,000 words in 30 days sounded completely insane, especially since it took me so long to write my first novel. Still, by my birthday, I was chomping at the bit to get started.

November 14, 2015

Why I'm Getting Married

Note about the future of Bite Me at the end of this blog.

            So, long and awesome story short, my boyfriend, normally called Wade on this blog, but I’m just going to call him by his real name in this particular post, proposed on our anniversary in the most perfect way possible: In a huge scheme at my beloved INation with everyone watching. It was awesome, and I may post about it in detail later. For now, photos:

August 16, 2015

Change......or Whatever.

In the past year or so, I’ve begun to notice a pattern emerging in old friends of mine. As my childhood/college friends creep into their mid and late 20s, many of them seem to be morphing into their parents. They’ve begun to adhere to old values they had rejected or openly rebelled against in their teens and early 20s. They’ve even adopted the personality traits of their parents. In many cases, it’s a good change: the slob who suddenly began to keep a clean house, like the one he grew up in: but I’ve also seen some bad changes: a formerly forward-thinking student reverting to his parents’ racism, a once level-headed thinker suddenly adopting her father’s bull-headed, arrogant, shout-you-down argument method she had so long despised.

The phenomenon has been swift and jarring in most of the cases I’ve witnessed, and I have to say that I’m utterly fascinated by it. We’re all aware of the teenaged rebellion phase, and that it’s only temporary for most of us. But to see such dramatic swings in behaviour so quickly is very unsettling. Did my friends just spend the past decade in the throes of adolescent hormones? Was every step they took away from their parents a farce? It almost seems as if they were destined to become little clones of their families, returning to old traditions and beliefs like salmons swimming back to their spawning creek.

June 14, 2015

My Murtaugh List

Barney's too old for this shit.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of How I Met Your Mother.

Well, the first six seasons. The show had quite the downward spiral and horrific death. But until around season 7, HIMYM was clever and hilarious, with dynamic characters, fresh jokes, and a great perspective on life in your late 20s and early 30s.  Somewhere around season 4, there’s an episode called Murtaugh in which Ted, the main character, discusses a list he created called the Murtaugh List. This list was based off of the Lethal Weapon character Murtaugh’s catchprase, “I’m too old for this shit.” The Murtaugh List is a chronicle of things that Ted used to do when he was young, but feels he should or cannot do now that he’s in his 30s.

While I’m not in my 30s yet, I do happen to be at a point of rapid maturity in my life. Or at least, since I’ve moved back to BG and been surrounded by younglings has made me more aware of how much I’ve grown up since I last lived here. Either way, at least once a week, I find myself shaking my head and thinking, I’m too old for this shit. So in true HIMYM fangirl fashion, I created my own Murtaugh List. While much of it is a bit more emotional/philosophical than Ted’s list, it was a ton of fun to write, and I highly recommend everyone make their own Murtaugh List to see how far they’ve come in life.

Without further ado, Dee’s Murtaugh List!

1. Giving a shit about Facebook likes.

There hasn’t ever been a time where I’ve been hungry for Facebook likes, but a few years ago, I cared a bit more about how many people liked a picture of me or some witty status update. Now I barely notice. I do still pay attention to comments, however. They foster discussion far more than likes do, and discussion is more what I care about on my Facebook nowadays.

2. Online debates.

I still have the unfortunate habit of posting politically volatile subjects on my wall, but I’m too fucking old to go looking for fights on Facebook. I’ve become a Master of the Unfollow Button. I have friends on all edges of the political and religious spectrum, and while I value a good discussion, debating on Facebook is nothing but useless frustration. This is a lesson I’m still learning, but with every pointless argument I get into online, I find Murtaugh’s words echoing in my head louder and louder.

3. #teensandtwentiesproblems.

I’m going to preface this by saying that I love each and every single one of my friends, regardless of age. But I’m definitely well beyond many of the problems of the late teens and early 20s. Any time friends stress out about the life of a kid in college, I really want to smack them. I know that’s terrible, but I can’t help it. College is such a wonderful little safety bubble of fake adulthood. Yes, assignments and projects and studying is hard, but for fuck’s sake, you’re studying your passion and that’s all you have to do for the next four plus years. Enjoy it!
Other problems under this umbrella include gossip and people who are two faced. I’m extremely lucky to be well liked in my community. There have been a few whispers of gossip and insincere friends here and there, as there will be in friend circles. In the past, I would shrug it off and say, “If they have a problem with me, they can talk to me. If they won’t, that’s their problem.” and I would continue to interact with the person in question. Nowadays, I still live by that motto, but I find myself drifting away from those who talk behind my back or gossip excessively. I’m still friendly, but they’re not really friends to me at this point. Keeping insincere people close to me is so on the Murtaugh List.

I still, however, have nothing but empathy for the post or mid college crisis I see so many friends go through. The endless stream of existential crises and second guessing myself is still very fresh in my mind, and that is a young adult problem that I don’t think will ever seem trivial to me.

4. Staying up all night.

This is more my body’s decision than mine. In Columbus, I lived like a normal diurnal nonvampire; bed by 12, awake by 7, living in daylight. Almost immediately after I moved back to BG, I was once again a Nightchild. And, unfortunately, my sleep schedule got all sorts of fucked up. I was all right for a while, but now my body’s rebelling. Once it hits 4am, I start falling asleep whether I want to or not. I’ve never been one to pull an all-nighter, but now I don’t seem to have the option. The apocalypse could occur and I’d still start falling asleep at 4am.

5. Living in filth.

By college living standards, I’ve always been a neater person, but by my family’s standards, I’ve only recently stopped being a total slob. Currently, my kitchen sink gets full every once in a while, clutter is a regular thing on my coffee table, and I will procrastinate doing the laundry until I’m down to my last pair of emergency undies, but my apartment is neat and put together. I’ve always been a nester; making wherever I’m staying my home, rather than leaving it a temporary space.

After returning to BG, I have seen some shit, you guys. I have seen some gargantuan garbage piles, never-before-scrubbed toilets, shit-piled litter boxes and carpets saturated with cat piss, and mold colonies on sink dishes that have evolved to the Iron Age. There was a time in my life when one room or another in one of my apartments resembled places like this, but now, I absolutely cannot live in filth. My apartment may not be a four star hotel, but it’s  my home, and I take pride in keeping it together.

6. Caring about connecting with everyone.

I’m a friendly and social creature. I have friends from all different walks of life, with personalities and beliefs all over the spectrum. This past year was the first time I’d spent a lot of time with a few people and just failed to connect with them on a warm and friendly level. It was more of a blow than I had expected, but in the end, I know that not everyone is going to want to be my friend. I’m not going to click with everyone. It’s a fact of life. In the past I’d go out of my way to be overly friendly with people who didn’t seem to be clicking with me, but now I pretty much let it go, focusing instead on the friends I connect with rather than trying to win over everyone.

7. Relying on others.
Close to Ted's "crashing on a friend's couch instead
of getting a hotel."

I’ll always rely on friends and family for good company and occasional emotional support, but I’ve definitely learned that there are certain things that I rely on myself for and no one else. I cannot rely on anyone else to motivate me to exercise, for example. I’ve taught enough dance and fitness based classes to see the enthusiastic first class cut in half by the end of a mere month. Schedules conflict, motivation lags…for whatever reason, most times I’ve tried to organize an exercise partner or group class, I’ve ended up on my own. I still throw out suggestions here and there—a few friends are currently taking a pole dance class with me—but at this point in my life, exercise is something I have to motivate myself to do.

I don’t consider people unreliable, but I prefer to be as self-sufficient as possible. I’ve never been comfortable asking for favours like rides, places to crash, or a couple of bucks. Dependency is, as much as it can be, on my List.

8. Equating beauty with self-worth.

“You’re so pretty. You’re going to go so far.”

I’ve been told that all my life, by those with the best intentions. I’m going to go so far in life. Not because I’m creative or intellectual (which I am, thank you), but because I’m “pretty.” To this day, I’m greeted by older relatives with “You’re so skinny, such a lovely figure!” Reunions with old friends and family are often clouded with “Have you seen ___? She got SO heavy after the last baby. She’s HUGE now.” and “He was so muscular in high school. You can’t even recognize him now with that beer belly.”

It’s an unfortunate byproduct of our brains to equate current physical ideals to worth, abilities, and even trustworthiness. As a result, we have men slaving away at the gym and women starving themselves, all to feed our national obsession with beauty. I hear and see this perpetuated in every day conversation with friends and especially when I work at the bar.

Unless you’re a model, beauty means nothing (hell, even if you are a model. Makeup is magic, folks.) Someone’s facial symmetry, smooth skin, and proportionate figure has nothing to do with their value as a human being. Most beauty ideals have to do with fertility, and nothing more. But unfortunately, we’ve created this false correlation with beauty and worth, not to mention other stereotypes. After discussing the transgendered brain on an acquaintance’s wall, they messaged me saying, and I quote, “I didn’t expect a hot chick to be smart.” Needless to say, we’re not friends anymore. Stereotypes about anyone’s looks (fat people are lazy, pretty people are stupid or mean, etc) do not match with reality.

It’s only now, when I’m surrounded by younglings, that I’ve truly begun to realize just how much I absorbed the message that beauty is worth. For the first few months, I started worrying about whether or not I looked much older than my younger friends, or my younger boyfriend. I began studying my face for signs of age and panicking when I thought I’d gained any weight. I still have my moments, but at this point, I’ve let it go. I’m going to get older, the good looks people say I have will fade, and I will still be me. I will just be blissfully free from idiots catcalling me on the streets. Like I said, I’m still struggling with this one, since the lesson was ingrained in me from roughly birth and has been reinforced my entire life, but I’m working on it, and in all honesty, I’ve stopped telling my friends that they’re beautiful when they need a pep talk, unless it directly pertains to insecurities about their looks.

9. Pleasing my parents.

I love my parents. We’ve always had a good relationship, even during the teenaged years. But lately, this year, especially, I’ve begun to realize that my personal goals for my life have deviated sharply from what they wanted from me, and that we don’t see eye-to-eye on many of the plans I’ve made for myself. I’ve always looked to my parents to make sense of the world, but I’m finally learning that we don’t always see the world in the same way. I still love them and we’re still a close family. Nothing there has changed. All that’s changed is that I’m more confident in my own choices, and I no longer doubt myself when my views don’t align with theirs.

10. Respecting tradition for tradition’s sake.

I’ve never been someone who respects authority and tradition without question. I question everything. That’s how I learn about the world and separate fact from fiction. Traditions are fascinating parts of culture, but to me, they are not something to be respected simply because “they’re traditions.” I don’t care about church weddings. I don’t care what age I’m supposed to be when I get married. Traditions have their place, but I don’t have to respect any of them unless I choose to. In short, I’m too old for “because that’s the way it is.” to be the end of a discussion.

There we go, my Murtaugh List. It wasn’t as funny as Ted’s, but I stand by it. However, before I bring this post to a close, I did compose a mini list of things I’ll never be too old for:

Dee’s Anti-Murtaugh List

1. Wearing what I want when I want to.

I will never apologize for wearing what I want to. I will wear what I feel like regardless of age, weight, or other societal frownings.

2. Getting a new piercing or tattoo.

If I ever feel like getting more of either, I will. I’m already starting to get the itch for some new ink. My body, my rules.

3. Dying my hair.

Why yes, I will be one of those awesome grandmothers who dyes their hair green and purple. Grandma Joker. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be amazing.

4. Watching cartoons.

5. Making pillow and blanket forts.

6. Chasing down an ice cream truck.

Numbers 4-6 are byproducts of my inner child’s stubborn refusal to die. I will forever be a Lost Boy. And I will throw small children out of the way for a Snoopy ice cream. Just saying.

7. Creative endeavours.
From making pet beds out of TVs to belly dance to ceramic worry stones to picking up photography to body chains, I’ve always been a creative creature learning new creative things, and that is never going to stop.

Have a great one, kiddies. Love love love.

May 2, 2015

What I Wish I Had Known About College

            After dropping out and returning to classes, I am happy to say that I have just finished my final week of classes in my undergraduate journey.* Though this year I often felt out of place and questioned what the hell I was doing here, I’m very happy that I decided to go back to school and finish what I started. I’m not 100% positive what I’m going to do next. In my heart of hearts, I want to continue my studies and get my MFA. I hope to spend the next year applying for various programs, but I’m not optimistic about being accepted. I decimated my GPA when I dropped out, and that will be hard to look past in a multitude of applicants who haven’t royally fucked up in their academic pasts. Still, all I can do is apply, so I will in this next year.

            In the clusterfuck that is my academic journey, I really wish I had been told a few things, and that I had been mature enough to understand some other things. College orientation normally discusses campus living, student organizations, safety, and that sort of stuff. It doesn’t, however, discuss how to make the absolute most of your time in college, issues with student loans (why would they? That’s where their money comes from!), studying abroad, and other things I wish I had known as a bright-eyed freshman in college.