Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Fools: Soul Crushing Disappointments in History

Yours Truly is standing in the middle of the Price is Right, betting on her future, and hoping for a win. The Final Question: What is the cost of happiness?  My guess: 7 Dollars plus My Immortal Soul.  As I wait the tension is terrible.  Am I wrong?  Dammit.  What sort of question is that.  I'm always wrong.  Of course, I'm wrong!  Obviously, I bid too low.  I should have said 9 Dollar plus my Soul.  But wait, Bob Barker is saying something: "Jennifer Nicole, congratulations!  You've won the Lifetime Showcase Showdown! Beginning tomorrow morning, all your problems will disappear.  Prepare to live out the rest of your days happy, fulfilled, and yes, Jennifer, you defeated the Silence."  The crowd cheers.  I cry.  Bob gives me a hug. Then I wake up. Fuck.  My psyche is playing another cruel nighttime joke on me.  Ha Ha! April Fools a day early so you wouldn't expect it.  My Psyche is such a Little Bitch.  

I'll admit the dream was a bit of letdown so I did what any Neurotic Pessimist would: Surfed the Internet.  Below you will find sadistic April Fools Pranks which made my life seem better by comparison. (Though the comparisons are apples to oranges)

"Hahahaha, I am such the Asshole."
1.) Yes Sanctions, No Bananas: Despite what one might think, Saddam Hussein, former President of Iraq, and his son Uday were fun-loving pranksters.  Need proof?  Sure you do!  On April 1, 1998, the Babil newspaper (owned by Uday), "informed it readers that President Clinton had decided to lift sanctions against Iraq" only to admit later Uday was just kidding.  Sanctions still exist, guys.  Obviously, the Iraqi people found the Hussein Hijinks hilarious so hilarious in fact, that Uday brought back his tricks the following year.  This time announcing that the country's "monthly food rations would be supplemented to include bananas, Pepsi, and chocolate."  Hahaha! Silly people.  Bananas, Pepsi, and Chocolate are luxuries reserved for evil Dictators and their psychotic, but fun loving sons.  Yes Sanctions but No Bananas for you.

2.) Get Out of Jail Free: On April 1st of 2000, the Opinia newspaper announced that a squalid Romanian prison would be releasing much of it population into the arms of their families.  In response, sixty hopeful Wives and Daughters made a long journey to reunite with their loved ones only to be informed: "April Fools!  No one's being released!  Hahah!"  The Opinia later made a public apology.  Isn't  dangling hope and then offering soul crushing disappointment hilarious?

3.) Colorize Your TV: In 1962, SVT (Sveriges Television) was the the only available station in Sweden, and their programming was broadcast in black and white.  On April 1st, SVT  announced that Kjell Stensson, a technical expert, was about to "describe a process that would allow people to view color images on their existing black and white sets."  What was that process?

"He began to explain how the process worked. His discussion was highly technical, going into details about the prismatic nature of light and the phenomenon of "double slit interference." But at last he arrived at the main point. Researchers, he said, had recently discovered that a fine-meshed screen placed in front of a black-and-white television screen would cause the light to bend in such a way that it would appear as if the image was in color. "

More simply put: Cut open a pair of nylon stockings and tape them to your television set.  Presto Chango: Color TV!  Though, Stensson warned his viewers that after they Nylonized their Televisions, most people would need to wave their heads back and forth while staring at the screen in order to "align the color spectrum".  Thousands of Swedish viewers would later admit to chopping up their hosiery, sitting disappointed in front of their Still Colorless TVs, while waving their heads back and forth but to no avail.  Awe, poor Swedes.  Tricky old Kjell!

*For more awesome and soul crushing pranks check out this site.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dear Santa: Defeating the Silence, Part II

Dear Santa,

"Thank you for the dolls, and the pencils, and the fish.  It's Easter now, so I hope I didn't wake you, but...honest, its an emergency."  The Silence suffered a crushing blow yesterday but I fear not a total defeat.   There's a crack in my personal armor.  My brother says its an ordinary crack, but I worry it isn't.  Because at night, my heart pounds, my palms sweat, and my fears increase.  So please, please could send someone to fix it?  Maybe a fireman [I don't care for the Fuzz]...or...well, I'm not sure who could possibly solve this problem...but I'm sure you can think of something.

With Much Affection and Confidence,
The Girl Whose Waiting

What?  Shocked to see me writing a letter to Santa?  Well, it IS almost Easter, I DID battle the Silence, and I AM afraid.  Considering the circumstances, scrawling a plea to the Man in Red seemed like the most rational thing to do at the moment.  And honestly, my Christmas sucked, so that Fat Old Bastard owes me.  [In case, you're reading this Santa, that was just a joke. Haha!  You know how those writer types are.  Nothing personal]  Listen, Kiddies, the stress of the last few weeks has transformed me into a veritable Princess Buttercup:

"The tears that kept Buttercup company the remainder of the day were not at all like those that had blinded her into the tree trunk.  Those were noisy and hot; they pulsed.  These were silent and steady and all they did was remind her that she wasn't good enough....The only time it really mattered, she wasn't good enough." 

Yes, those steady and silent tears have kept me company of late.  And in case you're confused, my Darlings, no matter what movies or books suggest, suffering is unpleasant.  No sane person, wakes up, and thinks: "Gawd, I wish I were unhappy," as if misery, somehow makes life more fulfilling.  No one concludes: "Look at that happy soul, well loved, shit together: the poor Bastard."  As these thoughts swirled and danced around my frantic brain yesterday, I learned a family member passed away at the age of 28.  Her life consisted of working at Walmart, health problems, and then death.  Maybe she was happy, but I have my doubts.   Her departure left me wondering, is life a Neko Case song?: "Margaret vs. Pauline" (See Below) "Everything is so easy for Pauline...fate holds her firm in its cradle."  And Margaret, the "girl with parking lot eyes"?: "Margaret is the fragment of a name.  Her love pours like a fountain.  Her love streams like rage.  Her jaw aches from wanting and she's sick from chlorine.  But she'll never be as clean as the cool side of satin, Pauline."  Perhaps, if someone had asked my late cousin she'd have believed me to be a Pauline.  Yet, she'd have been wrong.  We shared more than she realized.  My heart hurts for what she will never experience.  And selfishly, I begin to wonder again about the strength of the Silence, about my own mortality, about the people who I care about most, the ones I cannot bear to lose.  You see now why I wrote to Santa?  

"Don't you see? People start out losing small things, like noses.  Pretty soon you start losing other things too.  Its sort of an accidental leprosy." ~Kelly Link, Stranger Things Happens

Every way I turn this problem there are two options for a Margaret: Admit Defeat or Have Faith and Fight.  Well, my Friends, this Margaret is choosing the latter.  Why despair?  Yesterday, the Silence experienced a major setback.  That's a blessing!  "Faith is the substance of things hoped for.  The evidence of things not seen."  Hope frightens me.  It always has because so often that necessary intangible is accompanied by soul crushing disappointment.  Yet, what is life worth if I give up hope?  If I refuse to take a chance?  If the fear of being jumped on, up and down, up down, like Poppea is so overwhelming that I refuse to try?  That makes me a loser.  As Little Miss Sunshine suggests, a "real loser is someone who doesn't even try."  We're trying right?  Don't get me wrong here.  The doubts and fears are still with me.

A Leap of Faith
Like, Princess Buttercup, I bemoan my inability to be "enough" when it matters most.  But, maybe, just maybe, I am taking that word "enough" too seriously.  Because the truth is, my friends, I don't fall in love because of stolen glances, particularly witty statements, or anything based upon a person's current mood and exhaustion level.  No one is pretty all the time.  We're all going to get old.  No one, no matter how brilliant, is clever all the time.  The pressure to be so is ridiculous.  Like Amelia Pond, I fall for the entire person, faults and flaws, for Rory the Roman: 

"You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful and then you actually talk to them and five minutes later, they're as dull as a brick; but then there's other people.  And you meet them and you think, 'Not bad, they're okay,' and when you get to know them...their face just sort of, becomes them, like their personality is written all over it, and they just--they turn into something beautiful.  Rory's the most beautiful man I've ever met."

In real terms, what does that mean?  Well, I dunno. The real life application is still a mystery but for now, I've written my letter to Santa and I'm saying my prayers.  Because you know what? The Universe is vast and complicated and ridiculous.  Sometimes Impossible Things Happen.  Well call those events Miracles...and that's the theory.  In my 29 years, I've yet to see a miracle, but I've packed my bags, I'm sitting outside, and I'm waiting all the same.

*Below you will find Jessica's Daily Affirmations.  Personally,  I think I'm going to try this out tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons in Hope: Jane Eyre and a Cup of Crazy

"No sight so sad as that of a naughty child," he began, "especially a naughty little girl.  Do you know where the wicked go after death?"

"They go to hell," was my ready and orthodox answer.

"An what is hell?  Can you tell me that?"

"A pit full of fire."

"And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there forever?"

"No, sir."

"What must you do to avoid it?"

I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: "I must keep in good health and not die." ~Charlotte Bronte, Jane Erye

The Enemy Within: "I want to LIVE!!"
Yours Truly has experienced a rough couple weeks: A combination of Heartbreak and Work Stress proved more than this Historian could handle.  My Drama required two counseling appointments followed by a change in medication beginning today.  During the former, we discussed my "Mental Chatter", "Alarm Bells," "Moderate Responses",  and"Feelings of Inadequacy".  Nothing makes a Gal's day like a long discussion about why she believes herself unworthy.  By this afternoon, the new medicine had begun making me nauseous.  Perfect.  Everything is Fucking Perfect.  Honestly, each morning since the problems began, I wake up fearful something worse will happen while still praying for a solution.  Careful/obsessive consideration causes me to descend into my own personal hell, "a pit full of fire," self loathing, and despair.  Somehow everything comes down to my inability to be "enough".  My heart tells me that if I were whatever "enough" is then I wouldn't be hurting now.  On a rational level, I understand that bruising is simply an aspect of human interaction.  Drawing close to another person means allowing him or her into our vulnerable places, opening our hearts despite past wounds, and taking a leap of faith.  That's not easy, my Friends.  To make matters worse, I am fairly certain this process takes time and patience. 

Waiting is difficult for me.  Not difficult like: "Its difficult to resist a piece of chocolate cake."  Difficult like: "Its difficult to lead an Army into Medieval Warfare if you're an Imp." (Game of Thrones, Dude.  Check it out) I'm afraid patience is not a virtue I possess.  Yet, unfortunately, no part of my heart is held back once I sign off ownership.  Listen, I'm not stupid.  I understand that the Heart is a Fragile Organ.  In an effort to protect myself, as a personal policy, I rarely hand mine out.  It must be won despite my determination to never love anyone.  (Healthy huh?)  Yet, in spite of my best efforts, here I stand, confused and aching.  In the last few days, exhaustion finally caught up with me: The Dam broke and the Waterworks ensued.  Now, it takes no more than a Barrista informing me Quincy's Cafe is out of Peppermint flavoring to cause a torrent of tears.  "Oh, what fresh hell is this?  Why is everything broken?"  Everything is broken.  That's what keeps running through my mind as I tear up.  Yet, the truth is, its not.  The truth is the hurt is a moment in time.  The truth is this doesn't mean I will never get to speak to the person I'm missing again.  The truth is every nightmare is not a reality. The truth is each day springs new and offers hope.   The truth is I'm terrified.

What I need, at the moment, is courage, a candle in the dark to light my way.  For a number of personal reasons, my mind keeps floating to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.  What I've always loved about the narrative is that, in Jane and Mr. Rochester, Bronte offers two broken characters who adore and wound one another.  Their scars draw them closer together.  Their Union is one of anxious concern for the other person rather than social convention or childish notions of romance.   Call me Silly, but Romance to me is praying the other person is well, hurting when he or she is not, and aching to ease their unrest.  Of course, Jane Eyre is a book.  We suspect the outcome, feeling sure the problems will resolve and wounds will mend.  Life offers us no such assurances.  Because I've lost the license to my heart, right now, I'll simply have to pray for myself and the other person, "stay in good health and not die." (And, of course, dye my hair Red, Yellow, and Orange with a Dark Copper Base.  At least my Tresses are Cheerful)
*Lately, I've been listening to The New Pornographers.  "Use it" is one of my favorites at the moment: "You had to send the wrecking crew after me.  I can't walk right."   Its a perkier song than the lyrics suggest.  Anyway, we all send the wrecking crew from time to time.  Just takes some time to sift through the rubble.
And because I can't help myself allow me to recommend, "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras".  The closest thing I will reveal as an explanation is that a Gal who thinks up names for the Biological Warfare Engineers for Those Meddling Joes and the Cobra Commandos (Sandy Smallpox and Sarah Syphilis) can't help herself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Writ of Hocus Pocus: Miss Piggy and Moi

"Moi's hair has natural curls.  So does my tail."

"I plan to write more books whenever I can find the appropriate writing attire and color-coordinated pen."

"Express your feelings all the time unless you're trying to hide something."

Moi is having a Bad Day.  Moi is becoming Hysterical.  Moi must pull herself together pronto.  Thus, for the rest of this Suck-tastic Tuesday, I will summon the power and wisdom of Miss Piggy.  What?  An odd choice?  Not the American Action Hero you were expecting, my Darlings?  Well, sit down and listen up.  Miss Piggy is awesome: Self Confident, Well Dressed, Extremely Loving, and Bitch-tacular when necessary.  Plus, she has naturally curly hair, like Moi.  Furthermore, like My Muppet Heroine, "all my scenes are my own.  A double for Jennifer Nicole?  Impossible.  I am unique."  Okay, I'll be honest.  What that really means is that, just like Miss Piggy, my Emotions rule the Day.  Love, Fear, Anxiety all Pour Forth from Moi without the proper amount of regulation.  Unlike my Jim Hensen Created Role Model, however, recently, Moi has lost her Fire.  When Uncertainty Clouds my View rather than setting my jaw and fighting for my heart, tears stream down Moi's cheeks.  And yes, Moi's makeup is smudged today due to her Waterworks display this afternoon.  But, unfortunately, I cannot crawl home and go to sleep.  Nope.  Moi has responiblities.  Therefore, Moi is summoning the Greatness of Miss Piggy, herself: "I hereby Issue a Writ of Hocus Pocus".  Until the stroke of midnight, Moi shall be fabulous.

*Yes, Moi understands that she is misusing the word "Moi".  She does not give a Flying Fuck about French Grammar rules or the definition of the word.  Moi makes her OWN rules.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Way of Grace: Hearts and Hands

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:4,7

"The nuns taught us there were two ways through life- the way of nature and the way of grace.  You have to choose which one you'll follow."  The Tree of Life

In The Tree of Life, Terrance Malick explores the themes (sometimes at great and mind numbing length) of Nature and Grace.  The film's plot centers around the upbringing of three sons in a religious family with a Stern and Ambitious Father (i.e., Nature) and a Gentle and Loving Mother (Grace).   Grace, the Narrator explains, "doesn't try to please itself.  Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked.  Accepts insults and injuries," while Nature "only wants to please itself.  Gets other to please it too.  Likes to lord it over them.  To have its own way.  It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.  And love is smiling through all things."  As the narrative progresses, Jack, the eldest son, struggles against his Boyish and Destructive Nature to Embrace the Loving Way of Grace.  To be honest, the film is not one of my favorites.  Despite Roger Ebert's praise for the production, I found it pretentious to the point of irritating and began to chafe as I realized Malick believed that everything, even Dinosaurs, belonged in Tree of Life as long Lacrimosa accompanied the images.   But, lately, I've spent some time thinking about the nature of Grace.

Hold on.  You think I'm about to suggest I embody the Way of Grace?  Nope.  Listen, I might be J.R. Fucking MacReady but I'm not Delusional.  Anyway, back on topic, part of my irritation with Malick's Tree of Life comes down to his suggestion that Humans either go the way of Grace or the way of Nature.  As though We can ever truly become Grace and leave Nature behind.  In my opinion, the struggle between Love (i.e., forgiveness, humility, selflessness) and Instinct (fear, pride, lust) is an ongoing one.  Each day we awake and make conscious choices about which option we will pursue.  Yet, in defense the Malick's latest work, he deftly handles the emotional turmoil accompanied with learning to give and receive Grace.  

The past couple weeks, I've spent much time contemplating about what happens when Silence falls between two people.  What makes me ache the most is that in the midst of the Quiet it becomes impossible to convey how much I still care.  Each afternoon, I wonder how my Friend's day is going.  Not knowing the answer or even  being able to ask the question hurts. Honestly, perhaps part of my silence has come from the fact I don't know how to fix things.  How to Relieve the pressure that seemed to mounting, to convey that I look forward to hearing about a research trip, how class is going, or whether dinner at an Italian restaurant didn't settle well.  Those are the conversations that mean the most to me.   The ones in which we are both relaxed.  Both ourselves.  And Maybe that's it.  To me, "love is not so much a matter of romance as it is the anxious concern for the welling being of another person."  The catch here is one can't just turn off "anxious concern" but once Silence has Fallen how can it expressed?  The answer finally came to me today: Prayer.
"Prayer is not asking.  It is a longing of the soul.  It is daily admissions of one's weakness.  It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart." Mahatma Gandhi

"Be not forgetful of prayer.  Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education." Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
"Writing is prayer." Franz Kafka

A huge part of my frustration comes from my inability to act.  While my calmer counterpart, Maggie, sits down and thoughtfully contemplates outcomes in the midst of turmoil, I spring into motion.  The problem?: Silence strips me of the ability to do just that.  I find the sudden paralysis suffocating as if I'm drowning in the situation, tossed overboard without water wings or instruction.  But today, it occurred to me, perhaps I'd be better served praying for myself and the other person each and every time I feel the fear and worry creep back in.  Because no amount of anxiety on my part will fix the situation.  If I could worry problems away, my life would be perfect.  I graduated top of the Neurotics Class.   Alas, such is not the case.  Yet, I can act by praying for his well being and protection.  Perhaps, Kafka was right when he claimed "writing is prayer" (another action!)  Maybe that is why I've spent so much time scrawling on my weblog this month.  Because, prayer, I believe, is both a supplication to the Almighty and an act of renewal.  We not only find peace and hope in the request, we also find Grace.  While I cannot speak for everyone, too often, I go the way of Nature, "only wanting to please myself."  But when I pause and pray, I find Grace: "Love that smiles through it all, accepts insults and injuries."  Because, my Friends, injuries are a part of both Love and Life.  We rarely injury intentionally.  Most of us simply stumble in the dark.  For tonight, I think I'll finish reading Orson Scott Card's Ender Game, spend a little more time in prayer, and dream of Dandelions. "Second star to the right and straight on till morning."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Leap of Faith: Dandelions versus The Thing

'I know I'm human.  And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human.  This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation.  It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open.  If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it.  And then it's won."  MacReady, The Thing

"That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred.  I have plenty of fire myself.  What I need is the dandelion in the spring.  The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.  The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses.  That it can be good again.  And only Peeta can give me that." ~Suzanne Collin, The Girl On Fire

Nobody...nobody trusts anybody now, and we're all very tired...There's nothing more I can do, just wait...This is R.J. MacReady, helicopter pilot, US outpost #31

By way of a Quick Recap, its been a Rough Couple Weeks for Yours Truly.  Enough said.  Thus, in Hopes of improving my Grim Outlook, first, I Braved the Crowds and saw The Hunger Games.  After finding myself severely disappointed with that production, I watched, per my brother's recommendation, John Carpenter's The Thing starring Kurt Russell. Yep, it was my First Time.  Like any Virgin, I was both awed and horrified by the experience.  Wrapped in a blanket and starring wide eyed at the television, for 109 precious minutes my mind released the heartache and whirled around the question of which character had been infected by that Evil Siberian Husky Replica.  Heaven.  Of course, by bedtime, I found myself thinking about how much I missed the other person.  In the face of little information, I draw the worst conclusions...the ones that hurt the most.  When I eventually drifted off to sleep, The Thing consumed my thoughts: Don't most of us (at least those of us who have lived long enough to bear a few scars) spend our time wondering which of us is an Imitation (someone who will consume us, unintentionally or otherwise) and which of Us is still Human.

In my opinion, life is like a Horror Film.  When we move in a group dangers seem less ominous.  Our Posse is wielding shotguns and flame throwers.  Why worry?  However, when we walk down a dark corridor all alone, vulnerable and exposed, our hearts race and we wonder about our own logic.  Why did I think this little venture was a good idea?  I'm dead meat.  So, of course, in those anxiety producing circumstances, I draw the worst possible conclusions about the situation at hand.  Because, lets be honest, the moment any Member of My Posse attacks, well, let's call him "My Buddy", insinuating he's The Thing waiting to devour me, I fire back.  My Eyes Flash, My Back Stiffens, and I Inquire as to whether the Offender thinks he or she has the horses to take me?  Nope.  I didn't think so!  I am R.J. FUCKING MacReady.  Truthfully, I refuse to believe anything too terrible except when its just me and my thoughts, a Swirling Tornado of Unanswered Questions and Personal Insecurity.  I do know, however, that when my heart is involved I carry around a Flame Thrower ready to Torch anything that looks suspicious.  Maybe the trouble could be solved with a Blood Test, like in the movie.  We just need to know who is Human and who is not.  Is that too much to ask?  Somehow, I suspect, we both probably need reassurance at the moment.  Each just a person, with faults and fine points, scars and ambitions, dreams and nightmares. Because without the proper information and evidence what can we do, but tie each other to a couch, walk away, and hope to avoid being consumed.  Of course, the problem with that particular strategy is that we all end up like poor Gary in the movie: "I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!" 

With those unsettling thoughts floating around in my head it took me quite awhile to finally nod off last night. And this morning, after I woke from another restless night, I sleepily marched my dog outside, and stood staring at the street when I noticed something: Dandelions.  Not just any Dandelions but the Brightest ones I'd ever seen.  They looked up at me in such a cheery and hopeful manner, assuring me: In the morning sunshine nothing is impossible, unsolvable, or lost.  Ever since I was young, I loved one particular Bible verse.  Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."   With age and experience, I now believe the verse applies as much to our relationship with one another as it does to our relationship to the Almighty.  There is no Blood Test, my Friends.  No evidence to tell us the outcome.  That's where faith comes in.  Faith in the character of others.  Faith that lets us know a hurt is just a moment in time something to work through.  Faith is holding on when its seems safest to just let go.  Faith is a Dandelion in the Spring.  For now Nobody...nobody trusts anybody now, and we're all very tired...There's nothing more I can do, but have faith and wait. This is R.J. MacReady, helicopter pilot, US outpost #31

*Starting Season 1 of Battle Star Galactica has taught me that Cylones are as troublesome as The Thing...though, part of me finds Number Six amusing enough: "We should really make a copy of your brain patterns at some point."  A Gal after my own heart!  Everything Baltar says ought to end with: "Not that I was having sex with a Cylone for two years."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wrong Version: Borat, Kuwait, and Prostitutes

At an International Shooting Championship recently held in Kuwait, the Kazakhstan Team, who took first place, received a nasty surprise when their Host Country played Sacha Baron Cohen's parody of their National Anthem (from the movie Borat) rather than the Original Version. Despite the fact that Cohen's rendition happens to be in English.  Just to give you some indication of how grievous an insult Kuwait levied upon their Victors here is a sampling of the Borat Lyrics (See Below). For instance, the phrase "Kazakhstan's prostitutes cleanest in the region" replaced the original words "sky of golden sun" as the athletes listened in embarrassed silence.  Unsurprisingly, the Team requested a formal apology.  Kuwait Officials later concluded that rerunning the medal ceremony was the best way to make amends.  Makes me think of 30 Rock: "Do Over!"

Second Star to the Right: More Amusement

"Second star to the right and straight on till morning." J.M. Barrie

"Fear Cuts Deeper than Swords" George R.R. Martin

As my Friday evening draws to a close, this Waitress turned Historian finds herself miserable, unable to communicate in the way she'd like...or at all. No amount of Distraction or Escapism removes the Nagging Ache to Bridge the Gap and Defeat the Silence.  But each time I attempt to find a solution, words of caution stay my hand.  There's simply not enough information.  Desire is there but I fear the possibility of being jumped on.  The Fear is Paralyzing.  Reality check: I'm not the Goddess Diana, Amy Pond, Elastic Girl, or Abigail Adams.  I'm Jennifer Nicole and a pessimistic and unsure version of that person at the moment.  Thus, in hopes of drifting off to sleep and dreaming of pleasant days and steamy nights below I've listed a few more things which amuse me.  Then its off to Bed and Dreams of Neverland: "Second star to the right and straight on till morning."

The Count: Sesame's Street the Count could *&^% forever.  One, Two, Three, Four Whatever the Amount.  Really, Kids, call me Immature but this little video delights me to no end.  What?  You think its rather Blue?  That's all in your mind, you Dirty Boys and Girls.  Shame on you.

XKCD and Sex: Because we are on the subject of the Naughty Naughty (no, I won't tell you where I got that particular phrase.  Its a secret), I hope you enjoy these next two Cartoons by XKCD as much as I did.

Also, in case you are wondering, is a pretty nifty little site if you're looking for a way to track the amount of physical activity you're getting on a weekly basis...also, sex is a great form of cardio.  Just sayin.

Gloom: A quick update to a previous post.  Since last Tuesday, I have played this nifty little card game twice and I'm happy to report I highly recommend it.  Sure, I'll be honest, part of what I enjoy is doling out misery to my characters and watching them suffer, but the game is nicely paced and the cards are humorous enough.  Run to your nearest Game Store and purchase it ASAP. (Yes, I'm enabling you)

Bob Ross: Finally, my Darlings, here is a picture of a Talented Tree painting a Happy Little Bob Ross.  In case you miss Bob Ross as much as I do click here and relive the joy of watching him and his Awesome Afro once more.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Amusing Myself: Conquest, Comics, and Crazy Old Bastards

"She is starting to damage my calm," Jayne, Serenity 

"Pull your self together!  'What will you do?'  Is this a question?  You will show him you remember that he is Mr. Incredible, and you will remind him who *you* are.  Well, you know where he is.  Go, confront the problem.  Fight! Win!" Edna Mode, The Incredibles

In times of Great Uncertainty and Anxiety Producing Circumstances, I like to remind myself of the quotes above.  Something about them causes me to stop, take breathe, un-clinch my stomach, and attempt to relax.  Oh don't get me wrong.  This Hysterical Weblogging Historian plans to sit still Frozen in Complete Paralysis rather than Confronting her Problem.  Would to God, I was Elastic Girl but, unfortunately, I am not.  Such being the case, Drastic Action on my part could lead to Dire Consequences.  No Sirree.  Best to lay low, hang in there, and hope for a small miracle.  Of course, while I'm doing those things, I must be entertained.  To that end, I spent part of the afternoon surfing and looking for things to amuse myself with.  Below are a few examples of Posts I found entertaining.  Enjoy.

Apparently, Alan Moore is flipping out again.  What about this time?  Well, the Metal Talon Wearing Snake God Worshiper (also the author of Watchmen, The Sage of the Swamp Thing, and V for Vendetta) has unleashed his rage upon DC Comics for creating a Before Watchmen series.  In response to the upcoming release (set for June), Moore called the comics medium "brainless".  As for his readers, well, watch out!  Old Al is coming after us as well: "As for the readers, I have to say that if you are a reader that just wanted your favorite characters on tap forever, and never cared about the creators, then actually you're probably not the kinder of reader I'm looking for.  I have a huge respect for my audience.  On the occasions when I meet them, they seem, I like to think, to be intelligent and scrupulous people.  If people do want to go out and buy these Watchmen prequels, they would do me an enormous favor if they would just stop buying my books." That's right, Kids.  Alan Moore has standards and perhaps both you and I are not even fit to read his work.  Once a Crazy Old Bastard always a Crazy Old Bastard.

David Mitchell is my favorite Comedian: a Biting British History Buff.  What more could we ask for? Here is his Soap Box Explanation of why Necrophilia should no longer be a Taboo.  Oddly enough, he convinced me: "If I were to wake out of a deep coma, just as the terms of my will were being enthusiastically honored, I wonder which of us would be the more dismayed.  I'd like to think it would be me but, maybe, that's just vanity."

My only explanation for the "One Does Not Simply Invade Russia" picture to the left is that A.) I appreciate that the creator offered examples of those who have tried and failed to take Mother Russia B.) I like Sean Bean.  I dunno why.  Whether he's hanging with the Nine in Lord of the Rings, pretending to be Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, or portraying an Irish Nationalist in Patriot Games (and kicking Harrison Ford's Ass), I always think: "Aw, Sean Bean, you're awesome."
*For information concerning a Napoleon Themed Amusement Park Click Here.  If you'd prefer Jokes about Vladimir Putin and Josef Stalin Try Here.  And if you're itching to read about Islamic Midgets in Fallujah This should do the Trick.  Finally, if you're dying to learn about selling Doritos to Aliens This One's for You.

Hunger Games: Dandelions in the Spring

"I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta Dies.  Me"

“You're still trying to protect me. Real or not real," he whispers. 
"Real," I answer. "Because that's what you and I do, protect each other.” 

“You love me. Real or not real?" 
I tell him, "Real.” 

"That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that. "

At midnight tonight, Hunger Games Fans will line up to watch the Cinematic Adaption of Suzanne Collin's popular book trilogy.  For any interested readers, the film features Jennifer Lawrence, who won critical acclaim for her role in Debra Granik's Winterbone, as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson, who starred in RVa shitty and distasteful movie that proves Robin Williams career is truly over, as Peeta Mallerk.  In her postapocalyptic tale, Collins uses United States History and Roman Mythology to offer her readers an engaging twist on the nuclear holocaust genre.  In particular, Our Heroine, Katniss, embodies the spirit of the American Frontiersman, "as if she were Natty Bumppo reborn and resexed" while also summoning images of the Roman Goddess Diana armed with nothing but a bow and a "ferocious will".  According to The New York Times:

"Katniss lives in District 12 of Panem — as in panem et circenses, Latin for bread and circuses — a totalitarian state that has risen from the postwar ashes of North America. Every year a boy and a girl ages 12 to 18 are chosen from each Panem district to compete in the gladiatorial games of the title, a fight that owes something to that ancient Roman blood sport and something else to the Greek myth of the Minotaur, the part man, part bull that devoured Athenian youths given in tribute."

Like any On Screen Adaption, even prior to a viewing, I already have a few reservations.  In particular, Lawerence and Hutcherson look nothing like the Katniss and Peeta I pictured in my head.  Not a fair complaint, but a beef nonetheless.  My other reservation comes from the fact that the series is written from a First Person Perspective and features much of Katniss' Inner Dialogue.  Even with a Narrator, I somehow doubt a Movie can achieve the same effect.  And Fine.  I'll admit it.  I'm a romantic.  And some of my favorite lines from the series center around metaphors about Dandelions in the Spring, Hope, and Katniss' Relationship with Peeta.   Examples, you ask?  Well, they're sappy ones.  (See Above)   This Girl Whose Waiting is Stilling Hoping for a Dandelion in the Spring.
*Personally, I think The Hunger Games Soundtrack ought to feature "Mutiny, I Promise You" by the New Pornographers.  "What's the weight of the world worth to you, kid.  Go write down what you see.  And see how far it can go.  What's the weight of the world worth to your side.  And here's how you got by."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Anatomy of a Meltdown

I can't sleep.  Lately, nodding off hasn't been a problem, but no such luck tonight.  My mind is spinning.  Honestly, at this point, there should be a Measure of Comfort in the fact that I can tick off the steps toward an Insecure Meltdown of Epic Proportions.  Below you will find the Anatomy of Jennifer Nicole's Latest Implosion.  Enjoy.

1.) Calm Enough:  Trying to get sleepy, but having a difficult time shutting off.  I remind myself: This is just a moment in time.  You'll talk to him again...eventually.  Life is long.  Be patient, relax, and pray.  This too shall pass.  Then there is thinking, followed by obsessing, and finally repeating a few more cliches.  Rinse and repeat.  [Even breathing but mind whirling]

2.)Anxious:  Obsessing has now lead to Wild Assumption Making.  Let's use the little evidence at my disposal to draw the worst possible and most painful conclusion I can dream up.  Yeah! Hum...what if this isn't just a moment in time?  What if really he's sick to death of you?  What if you never get to talk to him again?  That would be sad.  I don't like that idea at all.  Now I'm not sure of anything. [Heart rate is increasing and palms are sweating]  

3.) Freaking Out: Now I believe my conclusions.  There is no question here.  All the evidence is there.  He definitely hates you which sucks because obviously you're just fucking obsessed with the topic of him.  How did this happen?  Why didn't you see this coming?  And how could you be so calm before when its so clear that things were worse than you thought.  Its like you just forgot to worry.  Who are you?  You make me sick.   I don't even know you.  [Upset.  Sleep is now an impossibility]

4.) Full Blown Meltdown: Compiling tons of less than reliable evidence is now combined with whatever awful idea pops in my head.  (For whatever reason, these tend to be sexual in nature.  I dunno.  I'm all messed up.)  Not only does he hate you but right now he's so happy you're not around that he's having a wild orgy with no less than ten gorgeous blonds.  And the connection with those women is a deep and spiritual one that leads to lasting intimacy.  Then they laugh at you because you're inadequate. [Self loathing sets in as does despair]

And there it is folks: Jennifer Nicole Roman's Crazy Ass Meltdown.  Wow.  Ain't that special?  At least the act of confession has made it easier to make another attempt at sleep.  See you in the morning Kids.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Game Preserve: Gloom and Onirim

When Life gives you Sadness, Buy Board Games.  What?  You were hoping for something more philosophical?  Well, too damn bad. Personally, I was hoping for a lot of things and none of them have happened yet.  In my Humble Opinion, Disappointment is a Dish best spiced with Dash of Hope and Steaming Pile of Distraction.  Om Nom Nom Nom.  Toward this end, tonight, I decided to distract myself with a trip to The Game Preserve in Bloomington.  I love it there: Friendly and Knowledgeable Staff, Great Selection, and a Pleasant Atmosphere.  Plus, I had thirteen bucks on my Preserve Rewards Account I was itching to spend.  Because I couldn't afford the Game of Thrones Board Game (and have a hard time getting more than one person to play at a time), I went the cheaper route with Card Games, well, two to be more precise: Gloom and Onirim.  Tragedies and Dream States.  I'm upset, alright?  You're so judgmental.  Like you've never bought an Armful of Games to ward off the Sadness Inside.  Anyway...back to my purchases.

Gloom:  Object of the Game: Make your character suffer as many tragedies as possible.  In the end, the saddest person wins.  (Sounds like my existence at the moment) Honestly, I picked this little card game because I noticed a friend of mine had played it and felt envious.  The graphics on the cards put me in an Edward Gorey mindset.  Of course, thinking about the connection to my friend makes me gloomy, but that's the goal right?

Onirim: This a cooperative card game in which each player is Dreamwalker lost in a labyrinth.  Object: Discover Oneiric Doors before your Dreamtime runs out and you remain trapped forever.   This one was a store recommendation.  Plus, I'd never played a cooperative card game before and found the idea intriguing.  Not to mention, it was under ten dollars so it wasn't much of a risk.   Then again, do I really need to sit around and focus on Dreamtime?   How is that a distraction?  

Dreams and Gloom.  Fitting, huh?  In my defense, I planned on buying Gloom and Sentinels of the Multiverse but the latter wasn't in stock.  The manager suggested Onirim.  As I looked down at my purchases I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.  So I decided to do neither, instead I'm reading the rules and writing this blogpost.

*For more entertaining Edward Gorey related Fun Facts Click Here.

A Game of Thrones: Hearts and Hordes

Pony Friendship Magic Meets Daenerys Targaryen
"Fear cuts deeper than swords." 

"We are only human and the gods fashioned us for love.  That is our great glory and our great tragedy." 

Bran: "Can a man be brave if he's afraid?"
Ned: "That is the only time a man can be Brave"

In the last week or so, I've developed a fascination with George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones (the quotes above are taken from his novel), as well as HBO's television adaption of the series.  As I indicated yesterday, this Hysterical Blogger has concocted a brilliant and cunning plan for dealing with a serious and devastating problem.  I call it: Escapism.  Say it with me now: Escapism.  What?  Its immature?  Half Assed?  Well, listen here, my friends, knowing the consequences of action requires more information than I currently have at my disposal.  Of course, I'm aching to talk to the other person.  In fact, I'd love nothing more.  But here is the deal: without good information and a few status updates, I'm working blind.  I could step out there and say what is in my heart only to end up like Nero's wife Poppea.  The latter was unfaithful to her spouse so the former jumped on her, up and down, up and down, until she died.  Am I hurting? Absolutely, but the prospect of being jumped on is terrifying.  Every way I turn the problem around I still conclude action on my part is ill advised.  The answer?: Escapism Game of Thrones Style.  

How can I escape into a Medieval Fantasy?  Well, mostly by reading and watching television, though the former is hard for me right now, as my ability to concentrate has greatly diminished.  However, there is a less obvious aspect to Escapism, my Darlings.  Let me explain.  As I dive deeper into George R.R. Martin's world of Kings, Hands, Knights, and Traitors, my solutions to Smaller Issues are taking on a certain Fairy Tale Quality.  Want an example?  Sure, you do.  Here goes. Before driving to Bloomington yesterday, I'd promised to drop my friend, Adam, off at O'Hare Airport in Chicago.  During the drive down we had the following conversation.

Adam: You can't argue like that with another person in your field like that.  I told you to break this off months ago, but you ignored me.
Bronies Amuse Me

Me: First of all, you're not Hand of the King.  My brother, Jacob, is.  Second of all, I don't care what you told me or said would happen.  I have feelings for this person and that's what matters to me.  As I said last time, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Adam: First of all, enough with the Geek Speak.  Second of all, Fuck Feelings.  You need a job so go play nice, make up, and say whatever is just fine with you.

Me: NO.  Jobs come and go but my feelings do not.  I won't make my decisions based upon the external.  I'll follow my heart.  You and I have different priorities.  "When you play a Game of Thrones, you win or you die."

Adam: Is this more nerdy stuff?  Stop speaking witchcraft.

Me: Let me rephrase: You're totally wrong so I'm demoting you from a Member of My Council to the Court Jester.  The Hand thinks you're wrong as well.

The more I contemplated the Jester's wrongness and insensitivity to my Smitten Heart the more I devised plans for his punishment.   First, I decided I would send the strongest of my Dothraki Warriors from my Horde to instruct him in the ways of pain.  Then I remembered...I don't have Dothraki Warriors.  In fact, I don't even control a Horde.  Well, alright, I thought, "I'll send members of my Kings Guard after him....hold on."  I don't sit on an Iron Throne do I?  Okay, fine, I'll call my Banners.  Wait.  Wait.  Why don't have anything cool or useful in my arsenal?   No Iron Throne.  No Dothraki Warriors. No Rainbow Guard.  Not even Smelly-Old Banners.  What's a Gal to do?  I've exacted no justice on the Court Jester and my problem still remains hanging over my head like a Rain Cloud of Despair and Doom.   At the moment, I think I'd have better luck obtaining a Pet Dragon (which I would name Tyrion.  I've a soft spot for bastards and broken things, probably because I am the latter), than running ahead attempting to fix things without the proper information.  So for now, My Medieval Escapism includes locating a Fire Breathing Pet and hoping that somehow that will solve the other Grievous Issue.  Who knows, "Sometimes different roads lead to the same castle."

*For anyone interested, Game of Thrones Season Two is set to begin in two weeks.  Whose excited?:  Me...yes, obviously, I'm holding onto my sanity with both hands right now.