Month: July 2014

misery cubed

This is a post from the deep, dark past of my old blog. Even though I am now free range and no longer work in cube farm hell, I still enjoy this little ramble. It’s kinda like looking at an old picture of yourself with hair teased to within an inch of being a ceiling fan hazard wearing an acrylic rainbow sweater and blue eye shadow. Sometimes it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come. 

The fluorescents are too bright.  I feel washed-out.
Cave crickets are translucent due to the perpetual darkness.  I am colorless from too much unnatural light.
Even the furniture is painted and upholstered in shades of non-colors: beige, taupe, gray.  All outlined in stark black like an illustration of something that should be real.
Is this life or the manual?
(See Fig. 1 – Female Employee slumped over cubicle desk.)
The coffee is flavorless and the creamer is synthetic.  The sugar looks too white to be trusted.  Much like the management.
The steady rhythm of telephones and the copy machine is like distant drums.  When they stop, the silence is unnerving.
Surrounding me are inanimate objects that demand my attention: blinking monitors, email notifications, stacks of folders and papers.  Yet the living avoid contact and look down when passing in the halls.
The only conversation I’ve had today was with my printer, coaxing it to give up a piece of jammed paper.
Here, all my natural instincts are considered signs of aggression.  I have to remember to speak softly and not show too many teeth.  Sudden movements and off-hand references from obscure movies cause confusion and fear.
(See Fig. 2 – Female Employee fashioning primitive weaponry from  rubberbands, paperclips and hi-liter ink.)
It is safer to not draw too much attention so I keep my head down.  Documents are strewn across my desk, multiple windows opened on my monitors.  Looking busy is my camouflage.
I pretend that I am biding my time, waiting for just the right moment to attack and unleash my fury.  It’s a hard ruse to maintain.  For now it is only about survival.  Towing the line while trying not to hang myself with it.
There is hope, though.  I am preparing a signal fire.  Every day I gather a little more fuel, building it bigger and higher.  When conditions are finally right, I’ll set it ablaze and the smoke will rise above the canopy and  my rescue will come.
(See Fig. 3 – Female Employee dousing cubicle in kerosene exactly three seconds before she realizes that the whole signal fire thing was supposed to be a metaphor.)

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the unboxening

Okay, y’all know I’m a huge dork, right? Well, if you didn’t before, you certainly will after watching this video wherein I open my Loot Crate box. I debated for days whether or not to even post this. There’s a reason why I’m a writer and not an actress or newscaster or infommercial spokesmodel. So, sorry in advance for my face and my voice. And also double sorry that I totally mis-identified Bowser as Shredder in the video. Please don’t revoke my geek card for that snafu. And it was evening when I shot the video, so no comments about drinking wine for breakfast. I save that for my birthday.

 

bad is a relative term

I remember watching Die Hard when I was around fifteen and thinking there was something wrong with me. John McClane was great and all with this quick wit, boyish swagger, and unflagging devotion to upholding the law (even while breaking a good forty dozen of them in the process). But I couldn’t keep my eyes off Hans Gruber.
The class.
The intelligence.
The snark.
I fell harder for Hans than he did from the top of Nakatomi Plaza. (Still upset about that ending, by the way.)
So thanks to Alan Rickman, I developed an unnatural fondness for brilliant, suave bad guys. The kind of guys who could kill you with Shakespeare. If they have dark hair and a British accent, then it’s all over but the cryin’, and there will be cryin’ because a gal who loves the villain rarely walks out of a movie happy.

I'm sending my therapy bills to you, Alan. In a big box. That also contains myself.

I’m sending my therapy bills to you, Alan. In a big box. That also contains myself.

I started writing my novel with an alien antagonist named Cid. He is everything I love about bad guys: confident, sarcastic, smarter than you. He’s also cute if you’re into gray-skinned, black-haired aliens with sharp teeth and claws. I am into that, apparently. Less than half-way through writing the story, I’d become so smitten with Cid that I turned him into the hero. Being a writer is kinda like being a God that way. “For I so loved my world, I gave it a snarky alien. Amen.”

Speaking of aliens, I am hoping that Loki’s character arc in the latest series of Marvel movies ends up with him as a pseudo-hero. So far he’s gone from being a good-if sneaky-guy turned bad (Thor), to a badder guy (Avengers), to kinda a good guy but still doing bad things (Thor 2). It could take only a couple more steps before he is fighting with the Avengers right beside his brother, Thor. I don’t think he could ever be Good with a capital G, but he could at least be kinda bad but in our favor. If there’s anywhere you want a dashing, maniacal genius who’s always twelve steps ahead of everyone else, it’s on your team.

Heimdall, open the bi-frost. I need to have a word with my boyfriend.

Heimdall, open the bi-frost. I need to have a word with my boyfriend.

Anyway, I am going somewhere with all this.

A while back I stumbled on a subscription delivery service called Loot Crate. Once a month, for how ever many months you choose, Loot Crate will send you a box of geeky goodness. In case you didn’t know, I am a bit of a geek. I’m a second generation Trekkie and I have a VIP card to the Mos Eisley Cantina. I love most anything sci-fi themed and adore the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So I really liked the idea of Loot Crate, but hadn’t signed up because it was such a frivolous expenditure and I was worried the box would have more gamer stuff (which I’m not really in to) than geeky stuff. Exactly what’s in the box is a surprise, but you are guaranteed a t-shirt (which is worth the price of a one month subscription in itself) and various other toys, stickers, trinkets all with a geeky/gamer sensibility.  You do get a hint, though. Each month’s box has a theme. Well, when I saw that July’s theme was Villains, I knew the time had come to lay my money down.

So in four days my box of baddie-themed prizes will be en-route to my door. It’s exciting! Like a gift from a secret admirer. That I had to pay for. But let’s be honest . . . don’t we all have to pay for secret admirers in some way eventually? Restraining orders don’t file themselves.

my roommate

Last December, I needed a new place to live and a friend of mine needed a tenant for her empty condo. Win-Win.

Well, except that the condo wasn’t exactly empty. Along with a couch and chair and dining room set, the condo came with a cat. My friend and her husband had moved to Atlanta and they couldn’t take him with them. They’d been trying to find him a new home, but had so far been unsuccessful. So the cat, Cain (yes, as in Cain and Able), was living the bachelor life in the condo with his automatic feeder and waterer and self-cleaning litter box. Cain was fully automated.

I love all animals: horses, snakes, lizards, bats, squid, narwhals. I grew up with both cats and dogs, so I had no problem moving in with Cain. As long as Cain had no problem with me moving in with him.

That’s the thing about cats, they have opinions. Strong ones. Not having lived with a cat since I was a child, I’d forgotten most of what I once knew about cat behavior. As the days turned to weeks turned to months, I relearned a lot. Such as:

– Unlike dogs, clapping your hands and saying, “okay, let’s go” means absolutely nothing to a cat. They will continue to lay on your bed and stare into space like you don’t exist.

– Cats will adore you with the entirety of their little fuzzy hearts right up until the random millisecond when they want to rip your face from your skull.

– That “I see dead people” stare they’ll do at a spot right over your shoulder then run from the room like their tail is on fire.

– No flat surface is out of a cat’s reach. I hid a dime bag of cat nip on top of the refrigerator and Cain found it, chewed it open, and ate the entire contents. I came home from work to find him rolling and drooling on the kitchen floor higher than Seth Rogen celebrating his birthday at James Franco’s house.

– Cats show affection by causing pain, i.e., kneading your flesh with their claws while they snuggle and purr and you whimper and cry.

– Cats have a burning desire to chalk your nose like a pool cue with their starfish every chance they get.

– Cats are, basically, assholes.

Like with any roommate situation, there was an adjustment period, but Cain and I have settled into a routine. This mostly involves him doing what ever the fuck he wants and me trying not to trip over him on the stairs and kill myself. It works for us.

Amy and Cain

 

not into girls

Disclaimer: I didn’t intend for this blog to be so writing-centric. I know that many of my dear readers (that’s you) are not writers and probably don’t give two flying monkey shits about what happens behind the curtain. You just want to take your ruby slippers back down the yellow brick road and party with some Munchkins (you know those lollipops are laced with something). But my personal life right now is more in black and white than technicolor, and writing is the only thing keeping the tornado at bay. So unless I’m visited by another preternatural swarm of flies or something equally as amusing/terrifying, I’m afraid you’re getting writerly rants. I feel like I should have worked in a metaphor involving an oil can in there somewhere, but let’s get out of Oz before the Lion remembers he’s a carnivore realizes we’re meat. 

I like men. I, mean, yes, I am a heterosexual female and I prefer my candle-lit dinners and subsequent “fade to black” time to be with the opposite sex (bonus points if he is intelligent, tall, has a British accent, and has played a dark-haired villain in a major motion picture). But, specifically, I like writing about men. Most of my short stories are from a male point of view. My novel has a male protagonist and twice as many male point of view characters than female.

Why?

Well, at the risk of insulting my male friends . . .  Men are easy. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

See, I’ve worked in female-dominated offices for many years and, like life, working with women is like a box of chocolates. Only half of them are filled with angry bees and the box is refilled and shaken every night. Women are a Whitman’s Sampler from the pit of hell. Yes, this is a generalization and a stereotype and as a woman I shouldn’t perpetuate such things, but Odin help me if it isn’t true. Bitches be crazy. And it’s not easy being in a woman’s head. I should know. We think a lot. About everything. All the damn time. It’s exhausting. Writing is hard enough as it is without having to also navigate through the rat king that can be a woman’s mind.

However, you know what you’re going to get with men. If a guy is an asshole one day, it’s a safe bet he’s going to be an asshole every day. Men are a bag of Hershey’s miniatures – there are only five options and they are all clearly marked. Again, this is the broadest of generalizations, but I’m comparing people to chocolate here, so obviously you shouldn’t take any of this too seriously. Men tend to think before they act then sort everything out later. This is great from a writer’s standpoint because you don’t have to delve too deeply into motivation. There’s more action, more doing, more moving the plot forward without stopping to think about consequences.

There is also a bigger reason why I prefer to write male characters. A reason that I didn’t fully realize until I finished writing a short story just last week. The story was about a girl who could fly, but only if no one was watching. Her parents had kept her under constant surveillance since she was a child to keep her grounded. For me, writing is always kinda like pulling yarn from a cat, but for this story the yarn was knotted and the cat had lockjaw. When I’d finished, I instantly hated it. I wanted to drag it into a sub-folder and never look at it again. And it was all because the protagonist was a girl. As a woman, I felt a sense of responsibility toward her. I was compelled to make her story real and relevant. I wanted her motivations to be genuine, her emotions justified. And I failed on every count because writing that is hard, too hard, and that’s not the kind of story I ultimately want to tell.

I want to write silly little stories about suicidal squirrels or quirky dog-loving robots. I want to make people think a little and laugh a lot and maybe go “Ew” a couple times. And I can do that best when I have a man leading the story. A man that I can jerk around and torture a little. A man I don’t feel needs to represent the very best of his gender. I can’t do this with a woman character. What does that say about me as a writer or as a female human? I’ll over-think that one later. Right now I gotta finish writing about a poor guy and his over-zealous robot vacuum.