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I am 33 years old. Despite that fact:

1. Puff the Magic Dragon still makes me cry, every time I hear it.
2. Whenever I make a decision, I worry about what my dad will think of it.
3. I check under the bed for monsters. Yes, every night. Feel free to judge.
4. I sort my Starbursts by color and eat the yellow ones first to get it out of the way.

I expected that at 33, I'd be a lot more "grown up" than I am. I mean, sure, I pay all my bills on time, report to work promptly every morning whether I feel like it or not, and wash my dishes, my clothes, and my hair every single day, even Sunday. But even though I don't cry, scream, stomp, and throw things when the grocery store is out of Jet Puff'd chocolate covered marshmallows, I still want to - I mean, it legitimately crosses my mind - and I feel guilty about that. I've considered trying to eat more vegetables in the hopes that it would make some sort of difference in my over-all grown-up-ed-ness (seeing as how it might aid in my aforementioned aversion to buying furniture that looks like it fits in the kind of grown-up house in which I live, among other things) but the fact remains that I don't much care for vegetables... which in and of itself doesn't help my argument with myself that I AM an adult. Adults are supposed to say things like, "Brussel sprouts fortify the spirit!" instead of muttering vaguely about how I've never much cared for green foods, right? Again, though, it probably all falls into the realm of being comfortable in one's own skin, and as I'm learning, I fill up my skin the best way I possibly can. I just don't see the harm in sometimes wishing it were a bit better skin.
"...failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive... so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life." ~Jo Rowling

Started really thinking about this last night while J and I were watching the latest Chris Titus special, "Love is Evol"... he mentions somewhere in the middle, and then in more depth at the end, that you don't get a rebate at the pearly gates for the time spent in a painful, soul-sucking relationship. As with every Titus, I laughed hard enough to make me cry, and I cried some without laughing, and at the end of the evening I looked at the kind, gentle, patient, diplomatic man next to me and thought, "No... that's right. You don't. But sometimes there are lessons that need to be learned before you're ready to be done." And as I thought about Jo (whom I'd just seen read this part of this address earlier in the afternoon when I finally got around to watching the Oprah interview) and her words, I came to the conclusion that I'd previously reached the proper conclusion (yay, me!): what I've lived has made me a much better person. Not that I've made all the right decisions since then, because I haven't, not by a long shot. But because that adversity stripped away what I thought I was, I was left with only what was there to start with... simple but stable building blocks that gave me the freedom to - with a little creativity and a lot of hard work - build a life that I'm proud to call mine. Don't get me wrong - I owe a lot of people a lot of thanks for the things that happened to me that enabled me to find my rock bottom and start building, but I'm pretty sure that's part of the journey... and I'm completely sure that being grateful to people like my parents, and my sister Lora, and Eric James Matthew Padfoot Scull, and a whole host of other family and friends, keeps everything constantly in perspective. I could never repay those favors, but I can live the rest of my life in a manner worthy of them. I think I'll try. :)
Adult relationships come with adult responsibilities. Heather tried to explain this to me a while ago in terms of condoms, porn, and lawn-mowing (which are "boy" responsibilities) but that was another of those things that I didn't "get" until I experienced it for myself.

A partial list of my observations ensues.

Girl Jobs:
1. Cooking that involves an oven.
2. Making sure we don't run out of toothpaste or toilet paper.
3. Throwing away any underpants or socks that have been worn to the point that you can read the newspaper through them.
4. Maintaining the medical arsenal: Tylenol, Band-Aids, Bactine, Alka-Seltzer, Pink Stuff, Benadryl
5. Maintaining the Netflix list.

Boy Jobs:
1. Cooking that involves a grill, or hamburger, or a grill AND hamburger.
2. Vanquishing spiders.
3. Any chore that involves sticking a live, flesh-covered appendage into the garbage disposal.
4. Maintaining the maintenance arsenal: Drano, Resolve, Goo-Gone, duct tape, Gorilla Glue, 2000 Flushes (the blue kind, ideally)
5. Exercising veto power over the Netflix list.

Unrealistic X...

Okay, so in a previous world I ranted a lot about what it takes to find "Mr. Right" and chronicled my adventures chasing potential suspects into traffic. Fast forward to now, a world where Mr. Right exists, and I have very little to complain about. Except it was brough to my attention this weekend that, lo and behold, I still have several pet peeves regarding men (no, I promise I won't list them all alphabetically - there aren't enough blog pages in the world for that, to be honest), the most prominent of which can be summarized thusly: IF YOU LIE DOWN IN FRONT OF A DOOR AND LOUDLY PROCLAIM, "I AM A DOORMAT," YOU SHOULD NOT ACT AS THOUGH YOU'VE BEEN AFFRONTED WHEN SOMEONE WIPES THEIR SHOES ON YOU.

Let me 'splain. This weekend, Justin and I were headed south for a little day trip into Kansas. Along the way, we stopped for lunch - just north of Kansas City at a Whiskey Roadhouse steak joint in a hotel in what was basically the middle of nowhere. Our waiter was a personable enough guy - wanted to chat and at first I humored him because he told a good joke about Catholics being really impatient Jews and, well, frankly he seemed a little lonely. So we tolertaed him and all went well until we got to the part of the meal where he brings the bill, and he asked Justin, "How long have you guys been married?" Justin said, "We're actually getting married next year," and Mr. Waiterpants begins telling us about his girlfriend who lives in New York and is a broadway actress as if it fit perfectly into the topic of conversation - apparently he'd been dying to bring it up. And then he began telling me - me, specifically; not Justin - how he'd really done it up on her last birthday... he allegedly bought a ticket to both of her shows on a Sunday, took her to a hard-to-pronounce restaurant, got a fancy room at some swanky hotel where there were (overused and cliched) flowers waiting for her, and then in the morning took her to get a massage at the spa... of course, he spared no detail on the price tags, and so while he was regaling me with tales of his valiant commercial chivalry, I was running tape in my head. And my conclusion was that THIS IS WHY MEN FAIL.

(Disclaimer: this is why men fail assuming that this man is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and that his "Broadway girlfriend" isn't actually:
a) currently seeking multiple restraining orders
or
b) actually a community theatre actress from Indianapolis.
Not that I don't believe that a Broadway actress could fall in love with a hayseed from the sticks but... given that she's probably surrounded with people who share her interests and passions as well as her geography... well...)

Anyhoo, forgive my digression. Look at this fellow. Now I realize that I'm judging a book by it's cover here, but I don't believe that there are a lot of multi-millionaires in Bumfuck, Missourri, who moonlight as waiters at smoky steakshacks just to get them out of the house a couple days a week. Therefore, we can assume that he probably NEEDS the $5/hour plus tips he's making waiting tables. Not that there's anything wrong with earning an honest day's living - quite the opposite actually. However, the conclusion that I reached when I reached the conclusion of my tape on his extravagant birthday weekend was that the weekend itself, excluding his airfare, certainly cost him well over $1000. Say that at his busiest, he can take care of 5 tables an hour, at an average $7 tip (it's Missouri, remember) - that makes $40/hour. Cut that in half as an average for the days when he doesn't have many tables at all - which is all being quite generous. That means he makes about $40,000 - out of which he has to pay taxes, living expenses, dental insurance, etc.. Not a terrible living in the middle of the country, to be honest... but also not one that supports multiple $1000 weekends in New York.

ERGO... Mr. Waiterpants is wooing a girl whom I assume is rather out of his league by making implied promises about a lifestyle he can't possibly hope to sustain, especially a few years down the road when you factor in diapers and daycare. Not that I think it's inappropriate to occassionally share an extravagance with your sweetie, but... and I know I don't utter this phrase often, but... for heaven's sake, be PRACTICAL!
I love 'Single Dad Laughing' for Dan's articulate expression of how REAL guys REALLY think... but this... while it may not be his usual witty prose, it's pretty amazing. A friend linked to it on Facebook this morning and I'm going to store it right here so I never forget about it again: The Disease Called Perfection. Enjoy.

OMGOMGOMGOMG *dies*

OPRAH... IS MAKING MY DREAMS COME TRUE!

Cast of The Sound of Music to Reunite on Oprah

This is... the happiest day of my life. I mean, I'm sure I've been happy before, but I don't remember when. If Chris Plummer brings that whistle, I will fall right over dead of a happiness stroke.

WHY OH WHY DO I NOT LIVE IN CHICAGO ANYMORE? *wails* (Of course, if I did, I'd be taking the week off, camping in front of the building, stalking Captain Von Trapp all over town begging to be whistled for... it would just be pathetic... but it would also complete my life, which I heretofore did not know was incomplete.) As it stands, I'll need to complete a pre-Oprah viewing of the film, and another of the film with commentary. I'll probably need to be alone for that.

Sweet Jesus, a brain vacation...

Wait... that's three posts in three days... all three of which mention Jesus. I would have changed that title but I'm a fan of irony and this melds so many brands of irony I almost wet myself. Rest assured that will be the last mention of religion in this particular post.

Mkay, so I've been a fandom junkie for quite some time, and fic is my drug of choice. OPC. Other People's Characters. And every hard-core fic junkie has three lists stashed away, even if it's only on the back burner of their brain somewhere, and will readily expound on command. If you don't believe me, hit up anyone lurking about the manga section of your local indie bookshop and see if I'm not right.

The first list is the "oh gawd no" list - sometimes referred to as the "squick list." Whether it's general (like "no slash"), character-specific ("I don't want to read anything involving Samwise Gamgee. Ever.") or situational ("Please, please, God, no more giantsquidpron please?"), everyone has their "things I won't do" list.

The second list is the "if only I had time" list. This is the list of projects that you have stored away in draft, on notecards, or on that aforementioned mental back burner, that haven't seen the light of day because there just aren't enough hours in the day to do it justice and/or it's the kind of project that you start on on a normal Tuesday night with a pot of tea and half a pack of cigarettes and wake up Friday mid-morning surrounded by discarded wine bottles and drooling on the keyboard over fifteen pages of classic boiling interweb wank where most comments begin with, "WTF were you thinking..." and end in acronyms that suggest creative ways in which you might die. Not that I've ever done that, I swear. I'm just imagining it could happen.

The third list is the list of things that you would like to see if the world was a perfect place, all the planets aligned, and you had four of your favorite fic authors chained to typewriters in your basement because this is stuff you could never, ever, ever write even if you could hear it in your head like you can when you're really on a fic roll. (The voices... they talk to me...) My list includes a Michael Caffee/Mary Rose Caffee fic in the Hook/Wendy vein, a Tavington set during the war that doesn't involve murder or fluffy-bunny bullshit, and some decent Deadwood. The list used to include a decent non-graphic canon Hook/Wendy, until I found the perfect specimen last year, and to be honest, I truly believed that was the only item that would ever be crossed off that list. No one's writing Brotherhood, LEAST of all minor characters... having modded some of the best for eight years, I can say without hesitation that Tavington is just fluff-fodder and anyone that says otherwise is probably writing some of the rubbish that comes across my virtual desk and amuses me... and writing Deadwood fic is akin to writing Shakespeare fic. It just can't be done well.

In this case, I love to be proven wrong. Oh happy day:
Tangling Shadows
(Reposted without the author's permission, but with the utmost respect and gratitude.)

*eyepoke*

In the last four years or so, I've done a great deal of work in the area of "my personal responsibility" for my general put-uponness. Granted, there are some things that one can't control in one's life, but generally speaking, the world looks cheerier when one controls what one can... having reached that plateau, however, has led me to a harsh realization. And that realization is that sometimes, no matter what you do, you're going to be on the outside. No matter how okay you are with yourself, no matter how hard you try to give, no matter what you do to try to be accepted, the fact of the matter is that sometimes, you won't be. And the challenge posed by this new face of the self-respect mountain is to accept one's self anyway - to realize that one's self-worth isn't based on anyone else's assessment. And then to remember that just 'cause someone doesn't like me doesn't make them a bad person, either. In other words, as my daily Notes from the Universe would probably point out, there ain't no good side, there ain't no bad side, there's only you and me and we just disagree.

That's been the journey out of codependency in a nutshell, and overall, it has been an amazing trip. I've been blessed with enough adversity in my life to teach me about compassion, and I've been stung by embarrasssment and exclusion just enough to give me the conviction to stand up for those who can't (or won't) stand up for themselves and the empathy to remember that every being matters, no matter how small. (My mom and Horton helped with that part, too.) So yeah... it's been mostly positive.

There's a point in here somewhere, though, I swear - not just wandering though emo-land wailing like a banshee... and that point is that no matter how hard you work on being okay with you and okay with others and just generally "okay," when someone who allegedly loves you unconditionally does something that tweaks your spiritual weasel, it still stings like lemon juice in a paper cut on your soul. But hey - it happens, and Jesus says, "Turn the other cheek," right? When that someone does something that tweaks your spiritual weasel, and then proceeds to rub your nose in it as though YOU'RE the one who's done something wrong, though, it can be enough to make you wonder why you bother. I mean, what happens when you're out of cheeks? Oh, I'm OKAY... I have a strong, kind, gentle significant other who validates me when I can't validate myself, and I have - literally - the two best friends that anyone could ask for, anywhere, with whom I would entrust my life without a second thought and who would do absolutely anything for me. In fact I'm better than OKAY... my cup runneth over, and it's spilling happiness all over the damn place. So I'm not whining so much as pondering where my own failure in this situation lies. And at the same time deciding what I can do differently in MY life to avoid making anyone else feel this way... which is why I'm avoiding the bridesmaid thing. Just not doing it. Sure - I'd like to... but because I can't include everyone, I don't want to exclude anyone.

*nods* I'm just fine... just a little more cautious for the wear now. Another lesson from the great and powerful Universe weathered and absorbed. Life is amazing.

Jesus is LEED certified.

So... Justin and I had a few minutes to relax tonight, and instead watched Waiting for Armageddon, which I knew was going to work me right into a foamy little frenzy but agreed to watch anyway, since Justin sat through a "Hoarders" marathon a few weeks ago. I was not wrong about the emotion involved, but honestly... I think I'm more sad than anything that there are so many people out there that seem to be too lazy to really think about this stuff and instead decide to follow someone - anyone - with a zealous streak into ulcer territory.

The way I see it is pretty simple. There are two schools of thought on the whole giant-air-quotes "religion" thing:

1. "Religion" is the cosmic boogeyman that keeps us on the right path by implying that there are consequences in a big way for the stuff that we WANT to do but shouldn't; in other words, do bad stuff and bad stuff happens. And that's generally the principle behind nearly every major world religion and a lot of the minor ones. But more about that in a second.

OR

2. Jesus is real, he's pissed, and he's coming back to kick your ass.

This upsets me to the roots of my toenails. Having had some basic conflicts with dogma and doctrine, I've done a lot of searching (both in the academic way and the intrinsic 3am insomniac way) and I've come to my own personal conclusion that... IT DOESN'T MATTER. And here's why: it all says pretty much the same thing. It all says don't hurt people, help where you can, give what you can to those who need it, love each other, and keep your priorities straight. More importantly, it all says - if you actually STUDY instead of just READING (a very important distinction) that if there is hatred or anger involved in your doctrine anywhere at all... YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. If there is an omnipresent spiritual being, that being is about balance and harmony, not warmongering and pious one-upmanship. But again... IT DOESN'T matter. Because those principles that I mentioned a minute ago? Aren't we more fulfilled as people when we're living our lives by those principles anyway? Harmony and balance are pretty decent things, for sure.

Thoreau said, "Heaven is as much under our feet as above our heads." I'm pretty sure he "got" it. Forgive me if I don't think I'm going to hell for suggesting, "What Would Thoreau Do?" bracelets.

Tags:

Miscellany, etc.

A few things that I must share, even though my new life is taking up far more time than my old life:

First, in a brief glimpse of old habits, I see that Donal Logue is has a new show. Wait, wait, don't walk away, this is important. It's gonna happen this time, I know it. He can DO this! Although if he DOES end up succeeding, it may wipe that whipped puppy expression off of his face and then why would we want to hug him? Nevertheless, Terriers - FX, September 8th, and every Wednesday thereafter. (Plus, I think I saw Jase in a trailer. Uncredited, of course. How like him.) And that is - I swear - all I know about the fall line-ups.

What I've learned a great deal about, on the other hand, is planning a wedding. Which, in turn, has given me brand new respect for Martha Stewart. I'm serious - the woman is a genius. But I digress - what I've learned, mostly, is that there is as much crap out there clogging the interwebs regarding wedding planning, destination weddings, wedding discussions, and the whole horrible wedding industry (which I loathe from the depths of my soul) as there is on any other topic. If you're going to google "wedding" save yourself some headache and google "giraffe" instead. At least it'll be educational. I actually found a discussion the other day about "redneck weddings" and something about making centerpieces out of beer cans with daisies in them... complete with the one or two self-righteous people that don't have anything better to do than project their own self-loathing onto complete strangers by lecturing on the topic of "self-respect" and "respect for your wedding" with regards to use of the word "redneck." *headdesk repeatedly* So, in an effort to shield myself as much as possible from the "wedding industry" while still keeping in mind that:

A) The man with whom I want to do this thing has never been weddinged before and therefore would like some manner of celebration surrounding the event;

and

B) This is supposed to be a pleasant - and even FUN - experience...

I started looking for alternatives - because I knew they were out there. I mean, there are groups along the information superhighway for enthusiasts of wild grasses and message boards for people who build replicas of the seven wonders of the ancient world from toothpicks, so I knew there had to somewhere be a group of brides who can't stand the kerfluffle just like me. And then, in a huge EUREKA moment, I found Offbeat Bride. I am still in awe of this group... these girlies are the most creative, most innovative, craziest bunch of tradition-bucking free-thinkers whom I've ever had the pleasure to encounter. Bless their hearts. Which has given me all the permission that I need to plan a ridiculous-crazy shorts-and-tshirts Vegas blow-out instead of a quiet, demure walk down the aisle of some church, for a "ceremony" that J and I have orchestrated ourselves as a perfect reflection of us, instead of mocking some religious tradition. I feel free. It's also ironic that the "Should You Spend the Money on Custom Art?" article came up at the top of the Offbeat Bride page this morning because... we did that, too. We've asked Chris Heaton, the brilliant mind behind Chillustration UK to whip us up an Ames Bros. style concert poster to go with our all-access backstage-pass-style invitations. Wedstock 2011 - all of the wedding, none of the drama... you know. I am... thoroughly enjoying all of this. *grin*