One Fine Mess

vintage-get-well-illustration

a vintage “get well soon” card illustration

Well, 2014 has been quite a mess, health-wise. I’ve battled lice, chronic insomnia, two ridiculous colds, no less then four kinds of rashes, AND – worst of all – my boyfriend broke both of his elbows in a motorbike accident.

He’s recovering just fine, but I’m still itchy.

The lesson here is: never take the insurance plan with the high deductible. It’ll get you every time.

That’s is; that’s the post.

Leave a comment

Filed under meta, Uncategorized

Another Meme, This Time About Books

I can’t resist a good meme. Especially when it’s about reading.

Literary Pursuits of a Young Lady by Harlamoff Alexej.

Literary Pursuits of a Young Lady by Harlamoff Alexej.

A. Author You’ve Read The Most Books From
Erm, probably Neil Gaiman. Though I’m not sure I want to admit to that any longer. Though if we’re counting comics, there are lots of mangaka I’ve read a lot more of.

B. Best Sequel Ever
Book series don’t usually feel like separate novels to me, but I have to say all the sequels in the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey are great. They just get better and better as they go!

C. Currently Reading
Oh boy. I’m reading “My Gringo Cabron” by Jeannette Gau Stone and “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve been halfway through “World War Z” since last summer because I loaned it out and just recently got it back. I just picked up “Horns” by Joe Hill and “The School for Good and Evil” by Soman Chainani from the library. I am always reading something.

D. Drink of Choice While Reading
Arizona iced tea.

E. E-Reader or Physical Books
I’m happy with both, though I admit I’m better with physical books. Sometimes I forget I’m reading things on my iPad.

F. Fictional Character You Would Have Dated In High School
Harry fucking Potter, man. I would have dated the shit out of him in high school. Now? Not so much.

G. Glad You Gave This Book A Chance
“Ruby Red” by Kerstin Gier. The back cover has pretty much the worst write up ever, but the writing inside is amazing and hysterical! Such a pity it’s got a terrible jacket blurb, because I’ll bet it’s made a lot of people put it down.

Reading Girl by Gustav Adolph Henning.

Reading Girl by Gustav Adolph Henning.

H. Hidden Gem Book
See above. The entire trilogy is amazing, honestly.

I. Important Moments of Your Reading Life
I can’t think of many of them, but my recent decision to break up with Neil Gaiman was a pretty good one. It was just time. He no longer loves me like he used to.

J. Just Finished
Anne Jamison’s “Fic.” An awesome exploration of fanfic and fandom. Mostly Western fandom, but still pretty interesting. I can’t wait until someone starts writing academically about anime and manga fandom. I honestly worry it might have to be me.

K. Kinds of Books You Won’t Read
I can’t read a lot of really popular stuff. 99.9% of time it’s terrible. I read “The da Vinci Code” once. That was a mistake I won’t make again.

L. Longest Book You’ve Read
Maybe “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell”? Or “1Q84”. I forget which is longer.

M. Major Book Hangover Because Of
It took me NINE WEEKS to read Grant Morrison’s “Super Gods”. I don’t know why. It’s a ridiculous fucking book. I don’t know if that’s what this means by “book hangover,” but it feels appropriate.

N. Number of Bookcases You Own
Five. Two of them are short, only two rows, and one is small and mostly holds CDs and Erik’s cookbooks. The fourth is maybe a little shorter than me and holds mostly video games, DVDs, and some manga. The fifth is the tallest, and holds books, a printer, and some of Erik’s stuff.

O. One Book That You Have Read Multiple Times
Ugh, I’m not a re-reader. It’s really hard for me to reread books. That said, probably the “Alice” books.

P. Preferred Place to Read
On the couch, but I’ll read anywhere.

Q. Quote From A Book That Inspires You/Gives You Feels
“We have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which ‘now’ was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient ‘now’ to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. … We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.” – William Gibson, “Pattern Recognition”

R. Reading Regret
So much time and money spent on Neil Gaiman, I s2g.

S. Series You Started and Need to Finish
The Lunar Chronicles by Marrisa Meyer! The last book isn’t out yet though, sob. Also the Monster High “Ghoulfriends” series. The library only has books one, two and four, ugh.

Morning Reading by Zelio Andrezzo.

Morning Reading by Zelio Andrezzo.

T. Three Of Your All-Time Favorite Books
Ooh, so hard. I forfeit, because this is constantly changing.

U. Unapologetic Fangirl For
A young adult novel series with well written female characters.

W. Worst Bookish Habit
Having too many! I’m working on it though. And I mean it this time!

V. Very Excited For This Release More Than Any Other
Ooh, the new Ever After High novel! They have a lot of upcoming books I’m excited for. The series about Lizzie and Duchess is going to be amazinggg.

X. Marks The Spot (Start On Your Bookshelf And Count to the 27th Book)
“The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin. A fantastic children’s puzzle mystery.

Y. Your Latest Book Purchase
Purchase? I don’t actually buy books much, if you can believe it. I usually go to the book exchange, get given books, or borrow from the library or friends/family. I think the last book I *bought* was Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time Being” last summer. Which was great, by the way.

Z. ZZZ-Snatcher (last book that kept you up WAY late)
Again, Anne Jamison’s “Fic”. SO GOOD, GO READ IT.

2 Comments

Filed under nerdery

Blog ABCs: P through Z – The End!

Fact: updating daily is impossible. Let’s finish out this nonsense.

P is for Pink

Pink is the color my bedroom was painted when I was a wee thing. I whine and moaned and told my parents that I want a red room, but they weren’t interested. I was getting pink walls (and subsequently, a pink bed, since we had enough paint left over) whether I liked it or not.

Fast forward a good 20 years and it’s now one of my favorite colors. As a kid, I knew my favorite color. And it certainly wasn’t pink. As an adult, I hate the question; how could you make me choose?! But pink is definitely up there.

Exhibit A: A semi-bad hair day from college.

Q is for Quiet

I’m not gonna lie, I’m just trying to finish this thing. But damn do I love the quiet. Now hush and let me be.

R is for Reading

I wish I could say I’ve loved reading all of my life, and though I did spend a lot of my parents’ money on books as a child, I almost never read them. They just kind of sat on the shelf and sometimes I flipped through them, but I didn’t really read them. I don’t know what exactly I thought they were good for,  but eh. I’ve learned.

Now, reading is, in fact, my jam. I try to read at least 50 books a year, and though I’m not always successful, it’s not for lack of material. I have a stack of at least ten borrowed books on my desk. I have an iPad with five apps dedicated to ebooks. I abuse my library card. The local book exchange can’t get rid of me. I don’t want to get up and count the number of bookshelves I own, but it’s definitely more than a one bedroom apartment should have.

S is for Sailor Moon

from bishoujosenshisailormoon.com

from bishoujosenshisailormoon.com

Wow, this is kind of a big subject. Let’s start with history.

On a summer’s day in my youth, I was hanging out with my cousin in park near her home in New Jersey, when she asked me an innocuous question “Do you like Japanimation?”

I had no idea what she was talking about, but not for long. She introduced me to Toonami, an after school programming block Cartoon Network showed on weekdays in the 90s and 2000s, which was populated by shows like Dragon Ball Z, various Gundam series, and yes, Sailor Moon. I recognized SM as a show I had sometimes caught very early in the morning years before when waiting to go to school, and happily began rewatching the original series and R season. In the early 2000s, Cartoon Network bought the rights to the S and Supers seasons, and though I knew all about them from doing lots of “research” online, I watched them all anyway, immediately dropping everything when I got home from school to turn on the TV.

To say Sailor Moon was a big part of my childhood would be incorrect. Sailor Moon is a big part of my LIFE. It was one of the first times I had ever seen a show, cartoon or live action, that was almost completely populated by girls and women. Books did it sometimes, but no one really liked those – and as I mentioned, I wasn’t great at keeping up with my reading as kid. But there was Sailor Moon on Toonami along side other cool action shows, with it’s femininity front and center.

And now, 15 years later, Sailor Moon Crystal is being simulcast all over the world, and it and the original series will soon be released on DVD with a new dub for an entirely new generation of girls to find and fall in love with. I’m elated for them.

And for  me too, of course. ;)

T is for Tattoos, planned

Hi, I’m Michelle and I don’t have any tattoos. But I want them.

Junko-Full1_2-Laptop-sig

 

Above is the first tattoo I plan to get. It’s the signature of mangaka and fine artist Junko Mizuno, whom I talked about a bit in the last post. I don’t want the entire picture above, just the bunny skull and crossbones, perhaps on the inside of my forearm. I’d love if Junko herself could sign it and I could then get that tattooed on as well, but I’d like to focus on just getting the tattoo first and seeing if I want to make any alterations later.

eye tattoo

The next one has a bit of an interesting story. When I was very young, maybe in kindergarten or first grade, I found the above drawing in my backyard. It had blown in on the wind and stuck in the grass. At first I thought it was amazing, and I was surprised by the two numbers written on the paper, since I was learning something similar in math class at the time. (That would be, having two numbers and circling which one was the larger or smaller number. Very difficult stuff when you’re six.)

And after 20 years, I still think it’s pretty awesome. I may redraw it to make it look cleaner, but I think I’d still like this somewhere on my body. I’m not sure where yet, but I’ll figure it out.

I’ve always wondered if this was someone’s original design and who they were, and if it’s not original, what it might be from. Watch, it’s just from a CD cover or something. But even if it is, it’s pretty damn cool.

Those two are so far my only planned tattoos, but who knows what else I might stumble across that I want to ink permanently on my body?

U is for Undecided

I really don’t know what to put here. I want to finish this meme. Here, have an appropriate image:

IMG_1891

V is for The Victorian Era

I’m not one to romanticize the past, but if I ever had too, I think I’d probably go for the Victorian Era. Everyone was much kinkier than you’d think and they all had amazing clothing. I mean, there was also a lot of disease and other horrible stuff, but hey. Pretty dresses!

W is for Wonderland

ttl7

You know what else happened during the Victorian Era? My most favorite books ever, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (And What Alice Found There) were published.

Anyone who knows me knows I love these books, and the many pieces of media, et al. based on them. I own a number of editions of both books, books of academic essays about them, a few movie versions, an Alice costume and plenty of memorabilia. And of course American McGee’s games. Slap something Wonderland-themed on your product and I will at least gaze longingly at it. I also know a shit-ton of trivia. Ask me anything. I probably know the answer.

X is for XD

‘XD’ is my emoticon of choice. I will use it in any and all situations, guaranteed. Yes, probably even ones it would be inappropriate for. Sorry, not sorry.

Y is for YA

I think this kind of speaks for itself. I’ve been reading a lot of Young Adult fiction for the past couple years. Feel free to read some of my reviews. Next on my list is Soman Chainani’s “The School of Good and Evil.”

Z is for Zat’s All Folks!

Yeah, I’m done. So very done.

Leave a comment

Filed under blog ABCs

ABCD… JKLMNO…

Wuh-what do you mean it’s not June anymore?! I swear it was just… ten minutes ago, tops!

J is for Junko Mizuno

junko-mizuno_kappa_miyo

Junko Mizuno is a well-known illustrator and mangaka, and I do not suggest Googling her if you’re prudish or squeamish. The above picture is one of her more Safe For Work pieces, and even that is a kappa eating sushi – and if you know anything about kappa, it’s entirely possible whatever’s in those roles is pretty gross. She known for taking cute and girly imagery and turning it creepy and gruesome. Though everything is very stylized and nothing is particularly horrific, her art still often depicts things like naked women, monsters, chopped up body parts, organs and all sorts of unwholesomeness. While depictions of nudity and gore would usually make me assume the artist wanted to be shocking or controversial, with Mizuno’s art, I feel she’s actually depicting her thoughts and feelings. Instead of seeing a painting of a sexy woman with blood on her, I see a woman creating artwork featuring women looking gruesome and cute at the same time. It reads so much more as empowering than titillating.

K is for Kris

And now for something completely different.

Kris is my little brother. We don’t talk a lot, because he’s a college student and lives on the opposite coast, but my little brother remains very important to me. I never felt like some children do when they have younger siblings, that the new child is their “baby,” but I feel I had a big part in raising him, and even if we don’t talk and interact a lot, he remains a big part of me.

L is for ______

I have been racking my brain for something to put in the ‘L’ spot, and I think I’ve finally realized it’s not going to happen. I even originally forgot the letter L when I wrote out a paper list of ideas for this entry. I give up. L is too hard.

M is for Michelle

Hi, that’s me. I’m Michelle. I’m important to me. Or I try to be.

N is for Netflix

Ah, I know, isn’t this list supposed to be of stuff near and dear to my heart, or something like that? Well, I just started using Netflix a little over a month ago and I already really like it. And I totally didn’t just put it on here because I couldn’t think of anything to write about when it came to the letter “N.” Probably.

I guess I’m so into it, not only because it something new to me, but because I haven’t had actual television/cable in years. I’ve mostly kept up with TV through web sites like Hulu which only show you recent episodes if you don’t pay for the backlog. And while I do have to pay for Netflix, I feel like it’s actually worth it. I have unlimited access to their archive, no commercials to deal with, access to original content like Orange is the New Black, and I’m able to catch up on the back log of shows I’ve always wanted to watch while also keeping up with the newer stuff via Hulu.

And for someone like me who enjoys watching lots of terrible horror movies whenever I want, it’s amazing.

So yeah, maybe not as important as my dog or my hometown, but I still really like it. Get back to me in a few months and we’ll see how much I still like it after the honeymoon period ends.

O is for Olive

IMG_1519

Oh my God, let me tell you about my dog.

Olive is my two year old Chihuahua/Jack Russel Terrier mix, and she is my goddamn baby. She’s also the biggest brat in the universe, scratches, bites, growls, and stabs me with her knobby joints, but I will always be her mommy.

My boyfriend and I got her a year and a half ago in mid-2012 when I started my then-second job. I had been feeling lonely all by myself in our new apartment and, missing the two dogs I’d had as company when we were living with his parents, Erik and I came to the decision that we could get a dog once I got another job. I did, we met Olive through some connections with a local animal rescue, and we brought her home the same day we met.

She was very tough to take care of at first, because being both Chihuahua and Jack Russel meant she was extremely nervous but also extremely aggressive. She still has bad days where her inner jerkbutt takes over, but for the most part she’s mellowed out and has become our little butt. She still growsl/barks when she wants water and tries to scratch my face to wake me up in the morning, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

3 Comments

Filed under blog ABCs

June ABCs: G, H & I

Trying to do daily updates is so the first week of June.

G is for Graffiti Art

Untitled

I’m much too much of a chicken to actually try my hand at graffiti art, but I do love looking at it and taking pictures of it. The title of this blog is even based on some street art I started noticing while living and going to school in Philadelphia. You can read all about them here.

H is for Hair

IMG_1620

My hair and I have a complicated relationship I think most people, and especially women, can relate to. As far back as I can remember, I kept my hair in a chin-length bob with straight-across-the-forehead bangs. Though the length varied depending on my age, by high school I was so uncaring, I kept the short bob all the way through graduation. When my grandmother took me to her hairdresser and I found the length she gave me too short for even my taste, I let it grow out for about three or four years. It got to boob-length before I re-bobbed it again, and unsatisfied, I came up with a plan.

After a lot of planning and money-saving, I visited my campus’ extremely expensive hairdresser, who was a great guy and had so much fun chopping my hair into a pixie cut and dying it pink, he didn’t mind that it took a full three hours. I don’t think he got to experiment like that very often. I spent another couple years after that keeping it short and dying it black when the pink became too difficult to maintain.

After college, I let my hair grow again, convinced it was the right thing to do for the wedding I’ll eventually be having. I thought having plenty of hair to work with would be ideal when the big day came. But as we’ve continued pushing it back due to financial constraints and laziness, I found the surplus of hair annoying. Just like any time my hair was long enough to get in my face, I’d pull it back into a ponytail or bun to keep it from tangling and getting in the way. I never did anything with it, and it had extra waves and weird crimps from all the elastic bands I rarely took out.

The result of my frustration is the above picture: hair short and natural, no color or highlights. I might again turn it to straw experimenting with color in the future, but for right now it’s staying that short, wedding photos be damned.

I is for Irritants

Chemical Irritants

Chemical Irritants

Irritants are a big problem to me. I have sensitive skin, and I mean REALLY sensitive. I can’t use generic or even “normal” soap, otherwise my skin dries out almost instantly. I can’t wear certain fabrics because my skin reacts badly to them. Most shampoo is a nightmare on my hair and scalp, and gently scratching my skin leaves red marks that last much too long. I don’t use powder makeup, because it if gets in my eyes or up my nose,  there goes all of the day’s grooming into a red, puffy mess. Towels at hotels have given me painful rashes. I’m allergic to half of the outdoors, some of the indoors, and my own dog. If I could live in a bubble, I would.

Leave a comment

Filed under blog ABCs, the science of appearances

June ABCs: D, E & F

Updating daily is hard, you know?

D is for Dolls

Monster_High_dolls

I’ve only recently fallen into the word of doll collecting, but let me tell you, it’s kind of all-consuming. I’ve always liked dolls. As a kid, I owned two huge bins worth of just Barbies. I had baby dolls, even though I’ve been adamant from a young age about not wanting any real babies of my own. Polly Pockets, Little Kiddles, Sky Dancers, Baby Alives, Spice Girls, you name a doll made in the 90s and I probably had it. For some reason, this did not translate into my adult years until recently. I guess I just didn’t think about dolls much after I hit middle school and closed those overstuffed bins for the last time. I thought it was, as the saying goes, time to put away childish things.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered how much I still liked them. After watching through all the webisodes, TV specials and hour-long CGI movies from the Monster High franchise, I started haunting toy aisles again. And then came Ever After High. And I may also have a Barbie and Novi Star or two. I really love how fashion dolls have evolved since my childhood from a scant 20 years ago. Barbies were just Barbies. There weren’t really back stories, or even present day stories, to go with them. You were supposed to make that up. None of them had personalities – you made them up, too. But with today’s doll lines, it’s all about webisode tie-ins, cartoons and movies. Even Barbie has her YouTube show now, called “Life in the Dreamhouse.”

There’s also something I love about the simulacra of the stories, taking old monster movies or fairy tales that were already re-imaginings of older tales, and telling them again with modern themes for modern girls. I could go on and on about the meta, but I won’t, because that would take much more effort than I intended to put into this.

E is for Erik

IMG_1316

He is my schmoopie and I love him.

F is for Fandom

Fandom-Fox-random-24620386-400-400

When it comes to fandom as a whole, some people despise it, while other don’t even know what it is. Both of these are valid states of being, but me, I was basically raised by fandom. Almost as soon as my family got the internet in the late 90s/early 2000s, I stumbled into fan culture. As a kid, I had quickly learned that obsessing over things wasn’t something most people did, and I often lacked people to talk to about the things I was into. Finding out there were more people like me was surprising but eye opening. As I grew older and weirder and felt more disconnected from my (IRL) peers, I found solace joining with people just as strange as me in obsessing over things online.

Don’t get me wrong; fandom can also be awful, but I was lucky enough that most everyone I met through it were good people who enriched my life. These days, I mostly have fandom friends, even if we’re not in the same exact ones. Fandom isn’t my life, but it’s a very big part of it.

1 Comment

Filed under blog ABCs

June ABCs, Part A, B, C

I’ve seen a meme going around many blogs I read which makes June all about posting alphabetically. Specifically, blogging about something in your life that starts with each letter of the alphabet everyday (or nearly everyday) throughout the month. Being that it’s already June 5th, and I’m running late as usual, I will post the first three letters today and (hopefully) keep posting daily for the rest of the month!

A is for Allentown

billyjoelallentown

Allentown is the name of the city in Pennsylvania where I did a lot of my growing up. It’s not particularly large, but it’s not small either, and most people haven’t heard of it. In fact, if people do know of it, it’s usually through the Billy Joel song of the same name. I grew up in the Center City portion, where crime was fairly common and most of the streets were basically alleyways. A week after my family finally moved out, a man was shot and killed right behind our old garage. I remember my neighborhood vividly and still often visit it via Google Maps Street View. There was a tiny garden in our tiny backyard, and it’s mostly been paved over last I checked, but an Earth Day sapling I got from school many years ago is still there and thriving. It’s big enough that it looks like it might knock over the garage and I feel oddly proud of that.

Goofy and homoerotic video aside, the song portrays the city and surrounding areas well. Which leads me to my next letter…

B is for Bethlehem

Bethlehem is one of Allentown’s neighboring cities, and if you ask the locals, Billy Joel’s song is actually it and Bethlehem Steel. The Steel was a fixture of Bethlehem and it’s surrounding areas for ages, but when it shut down in the 1960s, it put hundreds of people out of work and upset the economy in a way the area’s never really recovered from. Locals are very proud of it’s manufacturing history, but for some strange reason really aren’t into the Billy Joel song. The Steel building, which stood empty for decades, is now a casino and shopping mall.

I moved to Bethlehem the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I was attending Catholic school there, and while I was used to school being very conservative and oppressive, I found the city to be even more so. While living in Allentown I had been more interested in my personal safety and rarely went outside, in the very suburban Bethlehem I found a quiet community with loud opinions. It wasn’t until I transferred to the local performing arts school in my junior year that I started feeling welcome there, because despite it’s religious zealots, it also had a big downtown art scene, and I felt a little better when I wasn’t reminded daily I was going to hell.

I don’t know any songs named after my specific Bethlehem (there are 10 in the US alone), but here’s one named after one of them by Paula Cole. I can still relate to it rather well.

C is for California

1311733082972914

After finishing up college, my boyfriend and I packed up our tiny apartment and moved to the west coast. I was happy to leave the east coast behind for reasons that mostly related to the weather. His family was living in the Bay Area, so we moved in with them for a bit before finding our own place. I have a feeling we’ll be here for a long, long time.

Living here has been a huge improvement in practically every aspect of my life: my allergies bother me a lot less in this climate, I’ve made many like-mind friends, the weather is much more agreeable, and the people here seem much nicer than their east coast counterparts. And as I have mentioned before, this side of the country has an abundance of public restrooms, something Pennsylvania and much of the east coast as a whole sorely lacks.

The only problem I have is that the drivers here are simply not aggressive enough. In fact, I wonder call the driving style out here passive aggressive. Ah well, you can take the girl out of the east coast and all that.

Leave a comment

Filed under blog ABCs