Thursday, September 27, 2012

Unforgettable... That's What You Are. (And Also a Bit Weird.)

(Update:  I should tell you, the the compliment I'm about to tell you about is sincere, was meant kindly, and was, frankly, taken in the same vein.  Any assholishness here is all mine.)

I have one of those faces.  Often, when people first meet me, they tell me I look just like their sister/cousin/teacher/sex therapist.  Sometimes, this is uncomfortable.

I've been told I'm almost as hot as my sister.  (Flattered, I'm sure.)
I look like a librarian.  (With the big black glasses, that's not too surprising.)
I look like a math teacher.  (Do math teachers look different than other teachers?)
I remind a friend of Maggie Gyllenhaal.

One of these comparisons is not like the other ones.

Obviously, I was beyond flattered to be compared to an actress I admire, and then...

And then.

And then, my friend continued, "Yeah, you're both manic."

(True:  The best part was when he frantically tried to backtrack:  "And you're both fit!  And brunette!")

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Um, You've Gone Too Far

I have discovered something that is equally amazing and apalling:

It's a tail.  That wags when you're happy.

Because I definitely need to give people an excuse to stare at my butt.

(True:  When I went to a bridal show with My then-bride-to-be Sister the Lawyer, one of the men with a "Groom" sticker--who was holding hands with a woman wearing a "Bride" sticker, mind you--"accidentally" copped a feel of my butt.  Dude, here's a hint:  If you want to make it seem like an accident, DON'T FOLLOW THE CURVE.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Handy Guide to Halloween Costumes and Life

(Humming...)  It's the most wonderful time of the year...

No, I don't mean Christmas, although presents are pretty damn wonderful.  I'm talking about Halloween, the one day of the year that responsible adults are still allowed to play dress-up.  By this point of the year, I usually have a detailed plan for what I'm going to dress up as and how to make that happen.  (I never buy pre-fab costumes.)  This fall, however, I'm running behind.  As I consider my options, there are several questions I keep in mind to keep myself on track.

And you should, too.

Question 1:  Could this costume be called "Naughty (Blank)" or "Sexy (Blank)?"
Because when it comes to costumes, both of these words are interchangeable with "whore."  One part of the costume can be of the come-hither variety without overdoing it.  (I flatter myself that I managed to pull off a Puss in Boots costume with red thigh-high boots.  But then, I paired them with a full cape and a modest top.  And, of course, pants.  Which leads me to Question 2...)


There is a happy medium...

Question 2:  Are there pants?
A banded top does not count.  Nor does any skirt short enough that you might get herpes from sitting on a bar stool.  Leggings might be okay with a tunic-length top, as long as they are opaque.  If they aren't, they are tights.  And tights are not pants.  Basically, keep your butt out of sight, please.

Question 3:  Will there be visible belly button?
This is not the 90s.  Start over.

Question 4:  Is this costume seasonally appropriate?
Seriously.  If you're running around in a tube top/mini skirt/high heeled sandals and it's snowing, you're not doing it right.

Question 5:  Is it lazy?
 Look, if you want to grab a pair of cat ears to wear with your everyday clothes, more power to you.  But don't blame me if people think you're more boring than watching other people watch paint dry.

Question 6:  Is it recognizable?
Don't get me wrong, I totally do obscure characters from literature all the time.  (That didn't come out quite right, but whatever.)  Even semi-sort-of-not-obscure characters, like the March Hare from Alice in Wonderland is probably going to get some questions.  But if you're going to dress up as a Jessie Drummond from Super What?, don't go crying into your beer when nobody gets it.  This is especially important with gender-bending costumes.

Question 7:  Can you sit/move in the costume?
If your costume is a pimento olive made out of chicken wire, consider this:  you may not fit into a car.  And you definitely won't fit through a bus door.  Your ass is walking.

A summary:
  • Be creative.
  • Wear clothes.
  • Use your noggin, just a little.
All points that will serve you well in life--I promise.

(True:  Less than six weeks to the big day, and I'm still undecided?!  Seriously starting to panic...  Also, I have to say I do actually really like the crazy cat lady costume above.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hops in the Right Direction: The Next Direction

If you've been reading my "Hops in the Right Direction" column for any length of time, you know Prada has come so far in the time I've had her.  She has become so much more confident in her body and in her environment, and her socialization is coming along very nicely, though of course we'll always be working toward something new.

There is one area, however, where she could still use a lot of improvement.  She still gets overexcited when someone is about to touch her.  Don't get me wrong--I love the fact that getting loved on sends her into throes of exultation.  It's the fact that she dances around like an ADD-ridden kindergartner on a caffeine high and suffering a seizure that's the problem.  For me, it means minor inconveniences, like giving her time to slightly settle before getting her into her harness and clipping her leash on before going on walks, and holding her in her "safe position" (i.e., like a football) when people ask to pet her.  And those inconveniences are mostly offset by the fact that her dancing almost invariably makes me laugh.

There is one place, however, where this becomes a more serious issue:  at the vet.  We've already experienced one example of this--the vet wanted to aspirate when she had folliculitis on her cheek, but was unable to because Prada is just too wigglesome. 

Prada will very likely end up with arthritis at some point.  I'm trying to stave it off as long as possible by keeping her at a healthy weight and giving her plenty of massages, but arthritis looms before us, and that means more vet visits.

So, the way I see it, I've got a couple of years, at least (hopefully), to teach Prada to calmly accept touches.  Here's the plan:

  1. Sitting is her go-to "see what a good girl I am" pose, and it immediately puts her into "work" mode.  I'm going to try to use this to my advantage and start touching her here.  The challenge I'll need to work through is how to reward her for doing it right without getting her too excited.  Maybe a long-lasting treat like a rawhide would keep some of her focus off what my hands are doing until she can build up a tolerance to it. 
  2. I haven't had too much success using the "stay" command during touching, so perhaps I can come up with a different vocal/hand cue to prepare her.
  3. Practice when she is already calm and relaxed, usually when she is laying next to me.  This is usually when I rub her muscles loose, since straight-up petting overstimulates her.  I'm going to need to practice other kind of touches--handling her ears, muzzle, toes, and tail, especially.  Hopefully if she is already calm, she won't be as quick to overreact.
  4. Use her fatigue to my advantage.  Practice after long walks when she's ready to settle in and rest for a while.
That's pretty much as far as I've gotten.  What do you think?  Anything you would try?

(True:  Dog people will totally relate to both this, the touching side and this, the disgusting/funny side of dog ownership.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Read This! Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

If you ask me, there aren't nearly enough books about sea monsters.  And if you know me at all, you know I soak up fairy-tale retellings like a sponge.  Fathomless fulfills on both counts.

If you want a lovely little Disney-esque Little Mermaid, stop here.  Go watch some animated fish sing.  This is a lovely tale, true enough, but the darkness in it goes deep.

Quick synopsis:  Celia is the triplet who can see the past, which isn't nearly as useful as the talents of her sisters Anne and Jane, who can see the future and present, respectively.  That is, until she meets Lo, an ocean girl who doesn't remember her past as  the human girl Naida.  (Brief note:  love the play on the word "naiad," a type of water nymph.)

Sounds like a sweet tale of friendship, right?  Well, sort of.  But add a love triangle, familial discord, two characters fighting to live in the same body, missing souls, monsters, and murder, and--well, there's that darkness I was talking about.

Flipping through the book at the bookstore, I saw the narrative is in first person, from two/three characters' points of view.  (It's a little complicated.)  This always makes me pause, since I frequently have a difficult time either telling the characters apart or caring for both (or all) of them, but Pearce uses subtle differences between how the characters view the world to make the POV switches clear, but not jolting.  The well-crafted adventure kept me turning pages, but this clarity kept me from having to turn back.

Celia's voice is matter-of-fact.  As a narrator, she offers enough description to get the point across, focusing on the facts she knows and the actions she and those around her take.  In her relationship with her sisters, she feels a level of disconnect, but the hurt that causes her is something to be inferred.

Lo, meanwhile, is highly descriptive.  Her life under the water is expounded upon in a manner that is very lyrical--without sludging into purple prose.  It seemed totally natural for her to live within the ocean, and her home there is definitely the setting I felt the most connection to--after a couple of Lo's chapters, I recognized her home, as well as the unity she feels with her sister-monsters.

Finally, there's Naida.  Naida lived in the past, and can only resurface briefly, when Celia helps Lo remember.  She was a happy girl.  She had a family she loved, a sister she loved, but can't quite remember.  Her narration is somewhat stilted for the mere fact that she is only the pieces of herself she can remember--just half a girl now, and one who has lost her soul to the ocean and the "angel" that made Lo what she is today.

All three are desperate for a sense of self, for independence, and for love--a desperation made all the more poignant since only two of them can survive.

My only itty-bitty issue was the physical description of the "angels" that created Lo and the other ocean girls--there is a clear social concept of the creatures they are described as (sorry, no spoilers here) that has no connection I could see to the role they play in the book.  However, that was balanced by the fact that I really liked the portrayal of the love interest.  I could see what the girls saw in him, and felt a pull to him myself--but the whole love-triangle bit doesn't consume the the entire plot.  Thank you, Ms. Pearce, for creating characters to whom a boy can be important without becoming an unhealthy obsession!  (Okay, with one possible glaring exception at the end...)

All in all, I'd highly recommend this one, especially if you like your heroines strong and believable.  I'll definitely be checking out the companion books soon.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The End of Days is Nigh. And Someone Needs to Come Over and Kill a Bug for Me.

(Note:  This was partly written Saturday afternoon, so please excuse some no-longer correct verb tenses.)

There have been some seriously cool bugs.

Jiminy Cricket is a pretty neat fellow, if perhaps a bit preachy.

Chester, the very talented headliner in A Cricket in Times Square.

Charlotte and her fantastic web.

The cockroach in WALL-E.

Buzz, the Cheerios mascot, if you're stretching.

This is not one of those bugs.

A truly enormous beetle has taken up residence on the suspension chain of my ceiling light.  It looks a bit like an elongated beetle that flies.  Or the First Horseman of the Apocalypse, Pestilence.  I haven't made up my mind yet.  Whatever.

It is taunting my dog.  No, seriously.  It's been here a few hours now, and I definitely see its pattern.

It reposes on the chain, standing upright on its hindmost legs, for long stretches of time while Prada growls at it.  (Prada is very brave, you know.)  Then just when her growls die out, the bug thrusts its thorax at us like an enthusiastic Elvis impersonator.  When the thorax wagging is no longer driving Prada quite mad enough, the bug flies down to the glass shade--always on the side facing us.  Bastard.  Eventually, it crawls back up onto the chain to start the process over again.

For about twenty minutes, Prada, Stink, and I all watched the bastard bug, transfixed.  I finally started a movie.  Between the bug and Prada's strong reaction to it, I was starting to (ear)wig.  Unfortunately, I chose a movie with dinosaurs.  When they started roaring, Prada almost fell off the bed, convinced the vile beast was on the attack.  Poor girl couldn't decide if she was cowering on my lap or valiantly defending me.

When the movie finished, I turned off the overhead light, foolishly thinking my bedside lamp wasn't bright enough to attract the monster's attention.  I was wrong.  It dive-bombed my face, at which point Prada and I both squealed like the little girls we are.

So I turned on the bathroom light, turned off the lights everywhere else, and hid under the covers till morning.

I am so badass.

(True:  The bug turned up the next morning in my bathtub.  And then I killed it, because I totally am badass.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five Things About Me You're Gonna Wish You Didn't Know, Or, A Bipedian English Dictionary Is in the Works

I wasn't going to post today, but Noa over at Oh Noa thinks I leave mildly amusing comments on occasion so I might actually get some traffic* and ohgodthepressure.

*(Besides that from my 22 loyal followers.  I love you 22 people so much that if you were to ask, I'd clean the baked on goop from that window of your ovens.*) 

*(That is a conditional sentence.*  I will not be cleaning anyone's oven.  I'd rather just stick my head it it.)

*(It's the same reason you really need to stop saying, "If I was you.")

So, I had to think of a topic off-hand, and this is what you're getting.  If you don't like it, too damn bad.

1.  When I was very small, My Sister the Lawyer once locked my imaginary friend in the house when the family was going on a trip.  I made my parents turn around to get her.

2.  My imaginary friend's name was Ulie.  Which is actually the name of one of William Tell's cohorts back in the fifteenth century.  This probably goes beyond simple precocity.

3.  The word "precocity" is in my lexicon.

4.  I can't help but point out when people use words incorrectly or in the wrong context.  This prompts them to call me a Grammar Nazi.  Thus I am forced to elucidate them on the difference between grammar and syntax.

5.  It would probably be more accurate, to call me not a Grammar Nazi, but enlightened or perhaps perspicacious.  Of course, "brilliant" would work in a pinch.


(True:  Bonus!  I identify deeply with Amelia Peabody.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Remember Me? That Blogger Who Isn't Dead? (Yet.)

You guys.  Did you know that tomorrow, September 13th, is Defy Superstition Day?  I think it's funny that the one superstition no one will be defying will be the whole Friday the 13th thing.

I was going to write about all the superstitions I was going to bash my way through tomorrow, but I'm beginning to realize there is a difference between being superstitious and being crazy.

Things I'm not afraid of (aka, things other people are apparently afraid of):
  • Black cats
  • Walking under a ladder
  • Breaking a mirror
  • Opening an umbrella indoors
  • Crows, ravens, and albatross
  • Sidewalk cracks
  • Red sky in morning

Things I am afraid of (aka, why yes, I am neurotic):
  • Putting mail in one of those big, blue, public mailboxes
  • Not checking at least twice to see if my car doors are well and truly locked
  • Making any noise whatsoever when my neighbor comes or goes
  • Giving everything (even inanimate objects) less-than-equal treatment (All of my stuffed animals were shown no favoritism when I was a child.)
  • The Gremlins under the bed
  • Books that aren't alphabetized by author (though by genre, then by author is acceptable.)

So maybe I'll mail you letter and then be mean to a frying pan, or something.

(True:  A friend did throw spare change on the floor of my new car for good luck, and I am sort of afraid of picking it up...)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vacation Fail.

I spent the long holiday weekend on a mini-vacation:  camping in northern Wisconsin.  I read, I shopped, I hiked, I ate marshmallows.  It was all very wholesome, if you discount the fact that I have contracted the plague.  I'm pretty sure a yeti spat on me in my sleep.  So if I don't post again this week, don't worry--I've just died, is all.