Women and books, women in books

May 8, 2013

Earlier this week, the results of a challenge posted by author Maureen Johnson hit The Huffington Post, and I had a grand old time looking through the results, which you can find here.  Basically, flip the covers of books so that the “girly” no longer look girly, and vice versa. 

My personal favorite was Lord of the Flies, but all of these are truly well done, and I hope there’s work in the artists’ futures.  However, this coverflip is just one tiny aspect of areas that are just straight up ridiculous for female authors and books about women and women who read books.  You know I’m gonna break this down so get ready.

Women authors
The number of women who have used pseudonyms or their initials is absurdly long, and this is not some issue that’s no longer a problem.  Rowling did it. Yep, it’s easy to forget because no one really cares too much now that she’s so successful, but she did that on purpose to hopefully sell more books.  It’s not like this is some 1800s throwback issue or even a Andre Norton-era issue.  This still happens.  N.K. Jemisin?  Sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction author who goes by initials instead of Nora because this still happens.  She’s also a woman of color, and has problems because of that (like her books being placed in the African-American section), but that needs its own post.  Women authors are scared that their own names will frighten away potential readers regardless of content. 

Not only is this a problem when women try to publish under their own names like they need to be ashamed of them, but they’ll get shredded for “not getting it” if they try to write about men.  Men writing about women is just always going to be a little awkward and is apparently forgivable, but women writing about men emasculates the men somehow.  George R.R. Martin, bless his heart and his books and may he finish them quickly, is under the impression that women notice their own breasts and the cloth that covers them when they walk.  NOPE.  Writing for a sex or gender of which you are not a member is always challenging, but it is not okay that the problems associated with it are ignored for male authors while female authors are destroyed for it.  Or, reviewers claim they emasculate men if they say anything critical (like Margaret Atwood apparently did to Jimmy in Oryx and Crake).  

And then, of course, the covers.  Book covers are frequently sexist, racist, and just all around horrible.  Let’s not even talk about the ones that are “now a major motion picture.”  I’m still recovering from seeing Ella Enchanted get that treatment.

Books about women
“Books about women” end up in their own category, with “chick-lit” as its own little terrible subset.  Men and women read books about men, and women read books about women.  Please let me reiterate: books about women are not given their own space because women have struggles inherent to their sex.  They are separated because it is assumed that men won’t read them. 

What sells is brotime and ladytime: bros get fighting and angst, women get “drama” and “feelings.”  Even if those plots are exactly the same, wars are male and drama is female.    

Personally, I’ve lied by omission when trying to get people to read The Hunger Games; I just conveniently leave out that it’s a female author and female narrator and let the person just buy the book and deal with it.  (Interestingly, the covers on those three books are decidedly not girly.)   

One of my best moments in college (who am I kidding, this was one of my best moments EVER) was when some truly excellent people brought Tamora Pierce to my campus.  This was an author who truly helped shape my childhood with her amazingly detailed, kick-ass fantasy novels, and she’s been writing since before I was born.  She read an excerpt from her then-unpublished next book, signed basically whatever you wanted her to sign, did a big ol’ question and answer panel, and was just generally amazing.

Her books’ main characters, 95 percent of the time, are female.  The audience was 90 percent female.  A friend of mine there mentioned she had a male friend who did not attend because he was scared of it being all girls.  This is a powerful, fascinating woman with complex, realistic characters in a world that rivals Middle Earth and Westeros in levels of detail, and she gets brushed off because she writes books for teenage girls so she doesn’t matter.

I have to lie to people to get them to pick up books with female narrators, while it is just assumed that I’ll somehow adapt to a male narrator because I’ve been doing so for forever.  No one’s ever said to me “oh you might not like it, it’s about guys.”  Jane Austen is forever “girly books” because they’re about women potentially getting married and that’s not exciting.  And then we have an issue with women who dislike Jane Austen’s novels because they don’t find them enjoyable describing themselves as like, traitors to womanhood or something.  Not liking Ernest Hemingway doesn’t make you a traitor to manhood.  But she’s it, she’s all we’ve got, so everyone feels the need to be nice. 

Women who read books
Gonna get a bit more personal here, but this is important and related, too.  Women read everything that men read.  No, really.  If a woman says she’s read a book, she probably did!  And if she’s bragging and didn’t read it, she’s a liar, but she’s not a “fake geek girl.”  A woman lying about how much of a fan she is is actually the same as a man lying about that.  And don’t come to me with that “she’s just doing it to sound sexy” bullshit like the woman kicked a thousand puppies or something.  Lying isn’t admirable, but don’t act like it’s somehow worse that it’s a woman pretending.  Also, does this even actually happen INQUIRING MINDS NEED TO KNOW

And personal protip to guys who talk to me about books I love: don’t try to explain them to me.  Don’t try to judge how much of a fan I *really* am.  And don’t act like I’m somehow infringing on your territory.  Books are for everyone!  If I mention that it took me till book 3 to realize Robb Stark didn’t have any POV chapters, don’t try to convince me that he does have two, especially when you just began A Clash of Kings.  If I am purchasing a fantasy book and reply “yes” to “are you a fantasy reader?” your next move is not to name three authors, listen to my reply that I haven’t read their work yet, and then say “well you’re not really a fantasy fan then, are you?”  When I tell you I read and enjoyed many of Orson Scott Card’s books, please don’t immediately launch into “umm didn’t you know he hates gay people?”

No mansplaining.  I’m going to read these books and I’m going to know things about them and some books I haven’t read yet and things are problematic and I GET IT.  And there are TONS like me.  Deal with it and talk to me like I’m just another person who read these books. 
Everything I just said obviously does not mean that every book read by, written by, or about women is automatic gold.  But please register the fact that I have to even SAY that.  Because “this obviously does not mean that every book read by, written by or about men is automatic gold” sounds fucking RIDICULOUS. 

So what do we do?  Pick up something with or by women, and talk to them about the books you like.  Shooting something down because it’s about ladies is unacceptable, and so is shooting down ladies talking about your books.  Involving women is just involving people, and when we all understand that, the world will explode with books and book discussions.

Or at least I hope. 


Things you say that you think are nice but actually aren’t

April 11, 2013

When someone says something offensive, I really do try hard to be like “hey actually when you say that it’s not so good to this group of people, plz don’t do it again” under the assumption that most people are not terrible people.  I may be entirely misguided and people need to be yelled at, but I am not so good at yelling, and in my experience they respond better to being gentle.  Like a skittish baby horse or something.  Why did I say that?  I’ve never met a baby horse.  Plus I think baby horses have their own technical names so I’m not even right when I say “baby horse” OKAY STOPPING.  SORRY.

Anyway, I managed to compile a list of things that I sometimes hear people say that are actually not such great things to say.  If you say them, this does not mean you are a bad person!  No sarcasm!  Seriously! I get that you are trying.  But here’s why you should probably not say these things.  Also, as always, I am a white, economically stable, straight, able-bodied lady.  Plus a few more privileges I am probably forgetting.

1. “I don’t see color.”
You may think this is an okay thing to say, and that’s because you are almost definitely saying it from a good intention.  You are trying to imply that color doesn’t positively or negatively influence your opinion of someone.  And that is a good start to not being racist!  F’reals, way to not stumble right out of the gate.

BUT, and I know this sounds weird, but you NEED to see color.  Not in a “yep you’re black so now I think because I’m white I’m better than you” way, but rather in a “yep, you’re black, so your experiences with the world have almost certainly been different than mine, because the world is not done with racism yet.”  This person may have had some terrible slur thrown at them, have someone assume they’re dangerous because of their color, both, neither, something worse.  You need to see their color/race/ethnicity and understand that the world is not the same for the two of you.  Saying ” I don’t see color” is well-intentioned, I get it, but you gotta see color to even come close to understanding others’ experiences.

2. “Oh, I LOVE the gays!  I have a gay best friend!”
This is generally a specific thing said by some straight women about some gay men. This is good that you do not hate gay people!  This is not a true thing for everyone, so not hating them for their sexuality is indeed a good start.

But, these phrases and phrases like them are grouping all gay people into a stereotype, and just because this dude you work with is super awesome and goes shopping with you and is generally some SATC-glitter-covered happy unicorn who says “GURL” doesn’t mean that he represents all gay men.  Is he your best friend?  Just say that!  It is excellent that you do not care who he is attracted to, but his sexuality is legit and should be treated with respect regardless of his opinion on your shoes.

3. “I’m not trying to be mean about weight, it’s just I’m worried about your health!”
 Are you?  This is a serious question!  If you hang out with this person regularly and see that they are dealing with some disordered eating, or you think their mental health might be suffering, or whatever it is, then your concern might be legitimate!  Trying to make sure your friend or family member has a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and their own thoughts is not inherently a bad thing.

HOWEVER.  If you know nothing else about this person than he or she is “overweight,” you are probably not helping.  Question yourself when this comes up.  There is a chance that your “concern for their weight” might actually be “I don’t like looking at fat people because it grosses me out.”  This probably sounds harsh.  But because people are nearly always aware of their size, pointing out that someone is overweight doesn’t sound like a concern for their health, especially if you don’t talk very often (or don’t even know the person!).  It sounds mean.

So what should you say?  Probably nothing!  They know already, and they are dealing with it or not dealing with it. 

4. “She’s just so inspirational/beautiful/amazing!”
This is generally said to the chronically ill and/or disabled.  This person may very well be inspirational, but you should probably be saying this about something really freaking awesome that they’ve done, like build a house or win an election or complete a hundred heart transplants or something like that. 

I get it, you are inspired by this person’s ability to do things, but these things that are inspirational shouldn’t be things that are like “you were YOU for a whole day and are still happy!  That’s amazing!”  Yes, frequently being ill or disabled makes life much harder, but to say it’s inspirational that this person is just functioning often comes across as patronizing and insincere.  It also can sometimes sound like you’re saying “I would hate my life if I were you, but you don’t!  That’s cool!”  Don’t do that!

You are on the right track, for sure, because this person may very well do some awesome stuff.  But figure out what that stuff is and praise them for that.

5. “You’re not like other women.”
Ahhh you probably mean this to be complimentary to whatever woman you are currently talking to.  And again, good first step!  You’re trying to give her a compliment.  But this is actually not a really great thing to say to a lady.

She is probably, in at least some ways, pretty similar to some other women, so the accuracy here is a little bit off.  This phrase also ends up sounding like you’re grouping all other women into a category of “Those Bitches” or something similar, so that all of them are objectively terrible while the one you’re talking to is objectively awesome.  If you are trying to be nice to a lady, I actually cannot think of a time when you can say that they are different/better from all other women and have it end up okay.  WAIT.  The Olympics and other athletic competitions.  You can say a woman is not like other women because she is faster than all other women at running a marathon.  But she knows that because that’s what the gold medal is for?  So yeah, back to my original opinion: don’t tell ladies they’re way more awesome than all the other ladies.

And as a note to other ladies: don’t describe yourself like this!  I get squicked out when women say “I just don’t get along great with girls, we don’t have stuff in common.”  Um, like, ALL of us?  Dude, there’s gotta be somebody, and the common factor in any attempted friendship with another lady is you.  So the problem might be you, not Every Lady Ever.  Being a woman is hard enough without you, dudes, and The World comparing you to every other woman.  Don’t do it!

I am sure I am forgetting other things in this vein, so if you can think of any, please tell me in the comments!  I’d like to add to my list of “good motivation, bad execution.”


Baby’s first 10k

March 17, 2013

Okay, so I think I officially really love this distance.  It is long enough to make me feel like a badass, but short enough to make me not die.  Will totes still run a half-marathon in June and train for it and learn how to fuel properly but I gotta run more of these.

Chip time was 1:20:19.  I was REALLY trying to break 1:20, but this is my first one so regardless of my finishing time, just finishing gave me a PR.  And, apologies for the oversharing, but because I needed a bathroom break between miles 2 and 3 (good one, bladder! You’re really funny!), I know that I can actually break that time at some point.  I walked a little but my mile splits were still under 13 minutes even with my delay and haters gonna hate. 

Important things are as follows:

Race people, why why why would you have a course that has a beast hill from mile 5 to 5.5 I hate you just kidding it wasn’t that bad but that is where lots of my walking happened.  The 50-something woman near me was straight up like “this is bad.”  I agree!  But I did it. 

I still cannot pin on my race bibs in a way that does not look like I was heavily intoxicated while it happened.  I really like this race bib because it says 10k on it.  I am a ROCKSTAR.

This is such a stupid thing to complain about, but I am extra-sensitive about being a “slow runner,” so that is why I am mentioning it; I have lots of feelings and I don’t even go here.  The event today had a 10k, 5k, and 2-mile “fun walk,” and they split up the courses pretty well, including a fork in the trail where a lady had the pleasure of air-traffic-controller-ing everybody (“10k!!!!!” *waves to right*  “5k!!!!!” *waves to left* *repeat a thousand times*), poor girl.  However, I am decidedly a back-of-the-pack kinda person, and that means by the time I got to the last quarter mile, the walkers now dominated the course and I had to leap over some strollers and dogs.  I cannot actually get angry about this, because this was a fundraiser for colon cancer research, and what jerk is like “I wish fewer people walked so less money went to cure cancer”?  Not me.  But, because I am insecure about my running speed, I took the fact that the road was no longer clear for any of us slow’uns SUPER personally for like 20 minutes and was sad. 

However, runners are THE BEST (srsly if you don’t run do it just so you can have everyone be nice to you always), are super supportive of anyone who laces up some sneaks, and love you if you are just there.  (Sometimes I say sneaks so I can pretend I’m the Fresh Prince.)  A large part of the course today was out-and-back, and everyone was like “keep going YAYYY” to everyone, regardless if you had turned around already and were doing like a 40 minute race or if you had just finished the first half and were at double that time.  IF YOU RUN YOU ARE A RUNNER AND RUNNERS ARE THE BEST. 

I got a tech shirt today (this seems to be a thing that happens a lot now? Down with cotton, idk) and it is really green and if I wear it I should probs post a picture.


A rage-fueled treadmill workout

January 20, 2013

39:30 in my 5k yesterday.  WHAT. UP.  I get that this is far from Olympic quality but I broke 40 minutes holy crap we so excited we so so excited.  On an unrelated note, Old Navy’s active line is hella sweet.  Stuff is cheap and it is truly pretty good.  I got a pair of “compression” pants there this week and they are A+. 

Sundays, based on my half marathon plan, are “easy” days, and I generally hit the treadmill for these.  Conveniently, a week ago, the TV on the wall was showing some new workout for laydees and I therefore adjusted my speed and incline for each stupid and/or sexist thing the commercial showed.

(I’m joking here.  This wouldn’t work because I’d be mashing buttons every three seconds.  But the anger did really help me to finish.)  

Increase your speed by 0.1 every time

  • The founder says “tone”
  • They interview a woman wearing a pastel workout top
  • A bikini-clad model is shown emerging from a pool with no connection to the product being sold

Decrease your speed by 0.1 every time

  • Someone verbally shits on another workout for no reason
  • They show a perfectly groomed smiling woman performing the workout
  • “I got the body I’ve always wanted!”

Increase your incline by 0.5 every time

  • They show the beginner, intermediate, and advanced next to each other and there’s legit no difference between intermediate and advanced
  • A picture that could be the poster child for Worst Posture Ever is used as a “Before”
  • They say Hollywood actresses are using this method and fail to mention anyone by name

    Decrease your incline by 0.5 every time

    • The founder asks some of the laydees who have tried this workout “what inspires them” and they all say “you do! and this workout does! and OH EM GEE, it’s just the BESTEST!”
    • Someone says they lost a certain amount of inches without specifying any more than the number (can someone explain this to me?  Sometimes it legit seems like you just chopped your legs off and got shorter or something “WEEE I LOST 14 INCHES” like in height? JE NE COMPRENDS PAS)
    • Anyone in the commercial says “problem areas”
      • Can we seriously retire this phrase forever?  You know what’s a problem area?  Darfur.  You know what’s not?  Your stomach.

    Run at 100% speed and intensity when

    • The commercial legit brings these ladies’ husbands in to talk about how nice their butts are now and how they look better than ever and how they’re “so happy with the results”
      • Okay this one I didn’t plan but I was in the middle of a hill repeat and they brought the husbands in to this weird looking room with their wives to leer at them and talk about how they got “strong in a feminine way” and I just went “you’ve got to be effing kidding me” and cranked up my speed so I could take advantage of my anger-fuel
    • They bring in twin sisters, one of whom has tried the workout and the other who has not and they interview the twin who did not and she says “I saw my sister’s results and I told my husband ‘I’m the fatter twin now!'” and then bursts into tears
      • There are so many terrible things about that sound bite and using it that I don’t even know where to begin 

    I don’t really know how to wrap this up.  Just anger.  Lots of anger.  Love you all. 


      Stop it with these GoT articles. Just stop.

      October 24, 2012

      Can I… can I just?

      Everyone please stop writing these articles, please.  PLEASE.

      I read Thought Catalog regularly, and I was sad to see this yesterday because I generally really like the author’s stuff, but this one really bugged me probably because I keep seeing articles like this all over the place.  This post is spoiler-y if you haven’t watched the show, but it’s safe if you haven’t read the books.  Which you should.  But here’s the article.

      10 Game of Thrones Guys and Whether or Not You Should Marry Them.

      Originally I couldn’t quite articulate my rage for this particular article, and I am kind of sorry that it’s all being directed towards this one article rather than at every half-assed attempt to demonstrate you like the show, but the rage can be split into 2 vague groups:

      1. This isn’t even that good of a list.


      Let’s break this down, shall we?  First things first.

      A third of the list has been dead since 1996.  That’s when the first book came out.  (Drogo, Viserys, and Ned, for those of you counting at home).  Which is why I found it kind of hilarious that everyone was OMG NED because I was legitimately 9 years old in the real world when he died.  I’m 24 now.  This shouldn’t shock anyone who pays attention at all, but other sections of this list are gonna be deadsies as well.  This series is ridiculously violent so if you’re gonna get mad that your fantasy boyfriend (or girlfriend! Whatever! It doesn’t matter! Lots of people die!) died when the rest of the fandom has known it for more than a decade.  I’m only three years dedicated to this thing so I can’t even imagine the poor people who have been in it since the 90s an would sell a kidney to get Martin to write faster. 

      Now to the content: Pyat Pree?  REALLY?  That was the choice here?  No Jaime?  No Davos?  No Tywin? No Littlefinger?  No Jorah Mormont?  All so a joke could be made about the fact that he looks like a just-hatched baby condor with an affinity for grape soda.  WE GET IT.  DUDE’S UGLY AND LIKES DRAGONS.  Pick someone else. 

      I’d also really appreciate it if everyone could stop acting like it’s some kind of brilliant observation to point out that Joffrey is the dungbeetle of Westeros society at the tender age of 13.  The kid’s awful.  We get it. He’s awful and has stupid hair.  You wanna talk with me about how King Robert was basically as responsible if not more than Cersei for the way he turned out?  (I have feelings.  Don’t judge me.)  We can talk then.  But the next person who points out that he is a punk and looks like that Cobra Kai dude that Daniel-san beats up and a sneer mated and had a anger-baby like it’s some kind of Einstein brilliance is gonna get smacked.  Like Tyrion smacks Joffrey. Those clips you can continue to post, however, because that shit’s the BEST.

      And here we come to the bigger aspect.  I have to defend myself for this all the time but I read these books for the story and the characters and reasons other than to drool over Stark heirs and bastards.  I’ve been mad about this since the New York Times allowed an article to be published that said “i don’t get why women would like this show it’s so complicated and sword-y LOL.”  This matters to me, so I keep track of things.  That article was similar to saying “I have a lot of friends but I don’t wanna memorize their names and likes and passions so BYEEEE.”  I care what happens to these characters for reasons other than Bone Marry Kill.  A Storm of Swords made me feel all the feelings.  I have so many Theon thoughts I wish I had a second brain to work them all out.  I am the Watcher on the Walls.  (Not really that one but I did just buy a mug with that written on it so close enough.)

      The next person I hear assuming that the only possible reason I as a ladyperson could watch this is to count how many shirtless scenes Robb Stark has…by the old gods and the new, I will crush you.

      Winter is COMING.  I named my right fist Winter.


      Six reasons why I complain sometimes.

      September 22, 2011

      Apologies times a million for slacking.  Being a grown-up is hard.

      If you talk to me for like, 5 seconds, you know I’m in law school.  If you talk to me for 15 seconds, you’ll hear me bitch about it.  I’m not sure I’ve made myself clear on why it’s so difficult, so I’d like to walk you through some reasons why I pretty much feel like I’ve been steamrollered during every waking hour (and sometimes sleeping ones…no that’s cool, I definitely wanted to dream about Torts.)

      1. Your whole grade for a class depends on 3-4 hours
      No, really.  Your WHOLE. GRADE. is the final exam.  There’s no midterm, there’s no problem sets, there’s no “but I went to literally every office hour you had please do not give me that grade I will do anything.”  Every single exam you have is like the Olympics.  Yes, Michael Phelps was in like a trillion events and won all of them because he’s a pot-smoking champion with titanium ligaments and a dolphin heart or whatever.  But let me state: they were all SWIMMING events.  It’s not like he had to go re-train for every single event; he still remembers how to swim.  Having a torts final and a criminal law final and a civil procedure final is like doing a race involving the butterfly stroke, but then immediately having to go do a shotput event, and then finishing strong with some rhythmic gymnastics. (Probably that hoop thing, too, what the hell is that even I DON’T KNOW.)  You also have to train for all of them simultaneously.

      2. You can’t miss class
      Okay, you CAN.  I’m not saying if a bus hits you on your way to class that you need to pick your pancreas up off the ground and suck it up for 80 minutes, but barring OUTBREAK!-like illness, you have to go to class.  This is for several reasons.  One is that they take attendance every day, because if you miss enough classes, you legit don’t get credit for the class, because the professor can move to exclude you from the final. Yes, on paper that sounds awesome (WHAT NO FINAL BEST DAY EVER) but really it means “oh hey champ do errythang again.”  Because you probably can’t graduate without whatever class that is.  The other major reason is things won’t make sense in your notes.  Possibly ever.  You read for class in order to have the professor tell you where you are right (the facts of the case, sometimes), and where you are wrong (everywhere, about everything).  Yes, you can get notes from other people, but they will never look like YOUR notes, and you’ll always be a little more confused about that topic/set of cases than you will about the other days. 
      And this leads me to…

      3. Read for class or you’re f***ed
      No really.  This is not like undergrad where it was better if you read, but not a disaster if you didn’t.  You won’t understand a damn thing.  And even if you don’t read, it’s not like “oh okay we covered it, now I don’t have to read at all,” it’s more like “oh sweet now I have to do it at a later time.”  Class is where you go to get your outside work clarified.  No, there is no homework: you don’t have to turn in a book report called Our Friend The Commerce Clause.  But you HAVE to stay on top of the reading.  IT NEVER ENDS.  IT NEVER SLOWS DOWN. THE CASES ARE LIKE THAT WILDEBEEST HERD IN THE LION KING.  DON’T BE MUFASA.  THAT WAS WAAAAY TOO SOON BUT GOSH DARN DO I LOVE CAPSLOCK.

      There’s yet another reason why you should keep up with your reading.

      4. You’re gonna get cold-called
      Let me see if I can paint a picture for you.  You’re at a production of Cats. (Hang in there, it gets worse.) You’re like 20 minutes in or so, and you’re kind of lost, mildly bored and moderately uncomfortable.  They keep using unfamiliar words like “jellicle.” You just want to call your mommy and tell her you love her.

      And then the Rum Tum Tugger pulls you onstage and makes you sing “Memory.”
      Everyone is now looking at you, and you’d better not screw up the lyrics, or Grizabella’s gonna write down in her beat-up notebook that you weren’t prepared.  And someone dressed in a catsuit is now judging you, along with a bunch of people who paid money to see Cats.

      Okay, so my analogy fell apart a little there, but you get it, hopefully.  It’s scary and embarrassing and it keeps happening just like the show was on Broadway for like 15 years or some ridiculous thing.  

      5. Gunners
      Bigger, badder, more irritating version of That Guy/Girl.  This person will not shut up.  This person will make your class experience 10 percent more entertaining and 90 percent more filled-with-plots-to-murder. (Protip: don’t tell me about them.  That’s premeditation and it’s gonna ratchet up your conviction.  Also protip: don’t murder.)
      If you don’t know who the gunner is in your class…it’s you.

      6. Significant portions of school exist because horrible things happened and you’re reminded of them constantly
      Much of constitutional law exists because certain people who happened to be in power decided other people didn’t matter as much.  A lot of torts law exists because horrible accidents happened to people and the only possible way to even come close to fixing it involved money.  All of crim exists because people did ATROCIOUS things to other people.  All the gradations of homicide and assault exist because lawmakers had to decide just how horrible you have to be for first degree versus second degree.  This “people are mean” element doesn’t show up in every part of law, but it happens often.  And if you let it get to you, it REALLY gets to you.

      If you hear me complain, this is why, or at least most of why.  Law school be HARD, and there are days I feel like I’m barely hacking it, but hopefully you’ll understand why I sometimes gchat you saying “COME RESCUE ME PLEASE THIS IS HARD AND I AM WEAK.”

      Memoryyyy, all alone in the moooonlight…. 


      Critical mass.

      May 7, 2011
      I’m not sure what it is about large numbers of people, but it seems like for every person who gets added to a crowd, the collective IQ drops by a point.  I don’t know if pushiness was once selected for (the Permian mass extinction was actually a Black Friday sale?) or if everyone just gives up in despair when they see other versions of themselves close by (when will my reflection shoooow, the tool I am, insiiiiiiide…), but there’s got to be something about both being close to people and forced to wait for something that freaks errybody out.   There are types.

      1.      Waiting in line to order food.
      Two summers ago, my sister and I had gone to an ice cream place by the Jersey Shore.  She’s generally a pretty hilarious person, but I was almost on the floor laughing at her descriptions of people who wait in line for fifteen minutes, get to the counter, and have NO clue what they want.  Her faves are the sneaky ones: you don’t realize that they have no decision-making capacity, because they start the sentence with “Can I get…” but then follow it up with a distinctly bovine “uuuhhhhh…” as if startled to find out they’ve reached a point in the line which requires participation.  My personal favorites are the ones who want a sample of things and can’t even decide on that.  There is NO risk there, and yet they react like this has become Sophie’s Choice or Who Gets That Piece of Wood After the Titanic Goes Down…Choice.  (you’re so STOOPID, Rose, you’re so STOOPID.)  God forbid there is a parent in line with children who didn’t question them while in line about what they want, because the process is then one hundred percent longer for each additional child.  If I am behind you and Timmy and Susie and Barkley and Cartwright (or whatever other strange, old-timey trade genre you’ve decided to name your child…Tanner? Blacksmith?) and Timmy is giving you a look like he’s seriously considering jamming his Transformer toy into MY femoral artery because they don’t have Lime Berry Marshmallow Cotton Candy Rainbow as a flavor (Timmy has made this name up out of a collection of words he’s learned from TV today), I will not only take Bumblebee from him and make him Go Long, I will also bury your largest child in coffee-flavored ice cream and tell your other spawn that they must eat their way to their sibling or Santa dies. 

      2.      Traffic
      Here, I do not mean times when there are cars, and lots of them, but there still is some hope of movement.  No, here I speak of F*** All times when no one can do anything.  Instead of patiently waiting, or using the time to throw your car in park and accomplish something (making new friends with the equally screwed people next to you is my dad’s preferred cocktail, but there are plenty of options: getting your tan on; cranking the No Strings Attached CD you’re listening to, admit it; reconnecting with your brother; going back to school; pouring yourself a Maker’s, neat, because by the time you move the alcohol will have been out of your system for about 6 hours; reading Hunger Games fanfic (notthatI’vedoneit); opportunities are endless.  Just try not to be one of these guys:

      ·         This is TOTALLY a lane – when everyone is required to merge due to construction or an engineering prank (dude, dude, DUDE: if we just cut down on a lane here for no reason how funny would that be?), this person decides the lane about to end, or even better, the shoulder, is a shortcut to be the grand marshal in the Parade of the Damned we are all a part of.  Sir, EVERYONE sees you sneaking up on the side and NO ONE is going to let you in unless your wife is in labor, and only if her contractions are less than five minutes apart and she’s having at least two babies at once.  We all have ultrasound equipment so we will know if you are lying.  

      ·         This lane is betterOHWAIT – if one lane momentarily lurches forward 4 feet, you can bet this broski will be in that new lane: even if it is two or even three lanes over because it’s CLEARLY the best lane.  I’m sure when I eventually receive my license to practice law that will be more satisfying, but at this moment I can think of no other experience better than passing the person who cut you off to get into a “better lane.”

      ·         I’ma lean on mah horn, kay? – This person, when seeing all of the people in front of him, comes to the conclusion that instead of some outside force keeping all these cars from moving, that all of I-95 has decided to play Red Light, Green Light, 1,2,3; that our last command was Red Light; and that the person running the game was subsequently hit in the temple and lost consciousness, leaving us confused as to what to do.  He’s a conspiracy theorist with a Twitter account named TruthPatriot3790 which he updates twice an hour.  He has an open can of Redbull in his cupholder and is listening to a death metal band called Sponge 4 Blood (title track: This Weeping Wound).  “Wake up, sheeple!” he bleats from his sedan.  “You can move if you want!  We are the only things in our own way, so MOVE, dammit!”  This person makes you wish you could turn your ears into hands: you would no longer have to listen to him throwing his tribal-tattooed weight into his horn, but you would also have additional middle fingers with which to flip him off, and additional hands for belting him across the face with a copy of Idiocracy (which will be located in his front seat). 
      Champski, there is NOTHING any of us can do, so just sit tight and ease up on the caffeine.  And maybe switch out the CD?  No, Eminem is not a good substitute.  No, not even his new album.  Yes, sweetie, I know he’s said he’s clean now.  Here’s some Jack Johnson: there’s a song about banana pancakes that I’m sure you’ll like.

      3.      Crowds
      I generally don’t like to be touched, especially by strangers (worse than most people, it’s pretty bad), but I try to suck it up when it comes to events that naturally draw crowds.  We also learned last semester in Torts about the “crowded world” rule, and to summarize: if you’re on a crowded subway and somebody brushes past you, you can’t sue them for battery.  Basically?  S*** happens, sorry, and I get this, I really do.  I’m not going to start making a shiv out of my mailbox key so I can get your kidney the next time around.  The people in crowds that make me want to set myself on fire rather than be near them are the pedestrian version of “I’ma lean on my horn, kay?” and “That lane is betterOHWAIT.”  You give them an inch and they take a yard.  They IMAGINE you’ve given them an inch and they take 20 feet.  They scoot forward until their noses are buried in between your shoulder blades and you start contemplating faking leprosy or Christian fundamentalism to get them away from you.

      They push into you, and you know it’s not the people behind them, because the people behind them have left a space, an actual space.  They often wear backpacks and whip around, turning their travel gear into the equivalent of a spiked mace.  They shout things like “what’s the hold up?!” and “let’s keep it moving, people!” and then snort to themselves or their friends.  If there are several members to the party, they will link arms, the leader stating “follow me, everybody!” and muscle their way through the crowd like a conga line from hell.  My personal favorite exclamation is when they are rudely PUSHING you forward and stating “I don’t have to deal with this!”  I always wonder what led you to that conclusion: why not?  Are you armed?  Are you here under duress?  Are you the monarch of a tiny but plucky country (major exports: a sour kind of citrus fruit and handguns) and have diplomatic immunity from crowds?

      My ability to even form words, much less sentences, shuts down around these people due to a combination of hate and discomfort.  It’s mostly “eeeeeee!” with a little “AHHHGGGHH!” thrown it at low moments.  I just want to squirm and scream.  To disappear and take them out as I go with a garrote.  To Apparate out and elbow each one in the sternum.  Seriously, lady, I was not aware I signed up for a colonoscopy with you and your fanny pack, and I don’t know how you did this but your voice seems to trigger an adverse, sciatica-esque reaction in my vagus nerve (who are we kidding, you touched all twelve of those bad boys.)  The fact that you announced to the crowd that you need to pee only makes me want to dump my Nalgene on your head and start singing “Don’t go chasin’ waterfaaaalls…”  And seriously, it’s okay to want a piece, but f’reals, if your hand gets anywhere near my butt again, I’m going to travel forward or backwards in time, disguise myself as your wedding planner for 12 hours, and as you’re about to make your entrance, inform you that there was a little problem with the orchestra due to flight delays, and the only band available on such short notice is a Baha Men cover band.  You’re okay walking down the aisle to Who Let the Dogs Out, right?  They’ll be doing the reception as well. 

      In slow-moving crowds, please remember you are a human, and remember others are too.  Best scenario for everyone: you get to live, and I get to pass the character part of the bar.      

      Ain’t passed the bar presents: Recent Hits!

      February 28, 2011

      Trying a new thing for this post, and hoping that if I pick a theme I may update more often.  I recently turned in a brief, so my life is hypothetically my own again (no longer belongs to the 4th Amendment) and I have spring break now so I hope to make you laugh once again.  Plus, this is WAY more fun to write about than warrantless searches.   The day my brief was due I definitely looked like Ke$ha and the Grim Reaper made a baby (IT’S A GIRL)

      Wake up in the morning feelin’ like Grim Reaper
      Grab my scythe I’m out the door I’m gonna be a creeper
      ‘Fore I leave, shine my skull with a bottle of Jack
      I may not be the greatest party but my robes sure are black
      I’M TALKIN’

      Sorry, done.

      This is unrelated to the rest of the post, but if you are lost on a road, please DO NOT drive 15 under the speed limit and brake at every street.  Pull over.  Figure out where you are.  If you don’t do this, I will hunt you down, sedate you, and alter your cerebrum so that you now hear the word “got” as spoken  by Ke$ha, “love” as sung by Celine Dion, and “under” as sung by the lead singer of Creed.  Forever.  Yeah, that’s right.

      Today’s recent hit song that’s getting torn apart is Enrique Inglesias’ “Tonight,” featuring Ludacris.  Heyy lyrics, heyyy.

      I know you want me
      I made it obvious that I want you too
      How?  The song?  And how do you know for a fact that she wants you?  That’s a bold statement, Enrique.

      So put it on me
      Let’s remove the space between me and you
      Wait, wait… put WHAT on you?  My drink on your tab?  Gladly.  Also “remove the space” is a really awkward line, champski.  Just say come closer.

      So move your body
      Damn I like the way that you move
      So give it to me
      Cause I already know what you wanna do
      She’s probs already dancing, champ, but if not, I do like how you’re all like, “DANCE monkey DANCE” and then two seconds later like, “nice job!”  Also, what is she giving to you?  Is this still the drink on your tab thing?  Because I’d like that.  What does she wanna do?  I don’t know, fill me in!  Suspense is killing me!

      Here’s the situation
      Been to every nation
      Nobody’s ever made me feel the way that you do
      The lovely Adrienne had something to say about this: “Has he really been to every nation? Even Vanuatu?  Even Trinidad and Tobago?  Even Eritrea?”  Plus you know the Pope is chillin’ in Vatican City and shouting out “BITCH WE COUNT AND YOU AIN’T BEEN HERE.”  Just kidding, the Pope wouldn’t say that.  It’d be in Latin.

      You know my motivation 
      Given my reputation
      Please excuse me I don’t mean to be rude
      But tonight I’m f***ing you
      Your… reputation?  Enrique?  Enrique “I Can Kiss Away the Pain” Inglesias?  Enrique “I Don’t Wanna Be In The Dark Tonight” Inglesias?  You’ve been with the same woman for nearly a decade.  Yes, that woman is Kournikova, but your reputation is Enrique “oh my God I loved this ballad when I was in seventh grade” and “we’re karaoke-ing this right now because I’ve had 6 shots” Inglesias. 
      Also, not meaning to be rude?  ur doin it rong.  Does this line “do it” for anyone?   It makes me feel uncomfortable.  And the radio version makes me pee myself laughing: he doesn’t mean to be rude but tonight he’s loving you. AWWWW ENRIQUE

      You’re so damn pretty
      If I had a type then baby it would be you
      …huh?  Are you too cool to have a type?  Is having a type uncool?  What happened?

      I know you’re ready
      If I never lied then baby you’d be the truth
      Aaaaand challenging the last line for pure WTF-ness is this gem.  Is this part of your non-existent reputation?  How is she the truth?  Is this chick the Mirror of Erised or Veritaserum (HP reference CHHHHECK)?  I’m not even kidding can someone plz fill me in on what he’s trying to convey here?

      been to every nation, banging you tonight, etc.

      Hey Luda, how you be?  Your turn!

      Tonight I’m gonna do
      Everything that I want with you
      Everything that you need
      Everything that you want
      I wanna honey
      I wanna stunt with you
      I’m really hoping that everything that you want and everything that SHE wants are the same.  Also, have your parents never walked you through the difference between a want and a need?  Come on, Luda.  Also, suburban white girl says: I really am still not sure when the word “stunt” is appropriate.

      From the window
      To the wall
      Gonna give you, my all
      Li’l Jon was reached for comment: “WHHAAAT?  OKAY!”

      Winter and summertime
      When I get you on the springs
      I’m gonna make you fall
      No.  You’re better than that.

      You got that body that make me wanna
      Get up on the floor just to see you dance
      Make sure to move too, Luda, otherwise you’re That Creepy Guy at the club.

      And I love the way you shake that ass
      Turn around and let me see them pants
      Oh, Ludacris, you charmer.  They probably look the same from the front.  Also I absolutely just started humming “Tuuurn arooooound, bright eyes” at that line, so now I wrecked it.

      You’re stuck with me
      I’m stuck with you
      Let’s find something to do
      Please excuse me I don’t mean to be rude
      Was there a comically-timed power outage to make you get stuck with each other?  Handcuffs that someone lost the key to?  How are you stuck with each other?  Also I generally think of something else to do before I jump to sexytimes.  Just a thought.
      And you DO mean to be rude.  I also hope you both got your own girl.  Otherwise Luda is either the best or worst wingman for ‘Rique, I can’t decide.

      And it continues for the lovely chorus, and wraps up with OOOOooooh, OOOOoooooooh, fading out.  I picture Enrique and Ludacris fading into the background, giving each other fistpumps and going home alone.  This song is absurd.  And now I have Total Eclipse of the Heart in my head, and you do too.  AND I NEEEEED YOU MORE THAN EVAAAAAR

      Love you guys.


      Extended camping trip part 1.

      November 21, 2010

      I don’t know whether or not to say SPOILER ALERT but the book’s been out for a while.  I guess if you haven’t seen the movie and actually care about the differences between the book and movie (join us, we’ve got jackets and the derision of our peers), then don’t read this.

      I’ma break this down into things I liked and things I didn’t: seems simplest.

      Things I liked.

      • The entire scene with Bathilda’s house.  When I say I liked it, I don’t mean I enjoyed the scene, just that it was as pants-wettingly terrifying as when I read it in the book.  Beautifully creepy and awful.  
      • Xenophilius Lovegood.  He was nicely wacky at the wedding, and his terror and desperation were very well portrayed in his second scene.  
      • The scene where Ron gets Splinched.  Really good job by E-Wats there, pretty much exactly how I pictured it in the book.  Hermione’s still being her brilliant, efficient self, but also flipping out a little and crying and scared and the whole thing just felt very, very real. 
      • Story of the Deathly Hallows.  I was a little worried when I saw the animation start, but I didn’t think it was cheesy: something about it made it the perfect combination of fantastical and morbid.  
      • Every scene with Fred and George.  Actors do a perfect job, and the writers, too.  
      • The interaction between Ron and Hermione.  I was hoping for more, I guess, but I think they got the dynamic well, especially after Ron returns (his apologetic nonsense).  There were also two extra lines that I kind of loved: when Harry’s trying to run away, Ron’s response of “we can’t leave Hermione, we wouldn’t last two days without her” was so sweet and SO TRUE.  She’s saving their collective rears the entire last book.  I also really liked her response to Harry’s question of “are you still mad at him?” – “I’m always mad at him.”  TRUTH.  Both seemed like little self-aware inside jokes for dorks like me who got too invested in thinking about the books. 
      • Rupert Grint.  Dude’s been one of my faves since the first movie, but he did a really good job in this one.  Knows how to convey emotion in his face, and every scene with Hermione (especially those when he’s trying to get back in her good graces) were quite well done.
      • Charity Burbage.  All the chills from reading it the first time around showed up, and I more fully appreciated Snape being absolutely unable to do anything for her.
      • The scene in the frozen pond with the sword.  I was actively shivering watching Harry, and that scene was also pretty much exactly how I pictured it.
      • Frickin’ Dobby.  Wept.  And I don’t cry in movies.   

      Things I did not like.

      • Harry and Hermione dancing.  Really?  That was the most awkward thing ever, mostly because I’m not sure that was Harry attempting to be awkward, but actually how Daniel Radcliffe functions normally.  Not that I don’t love the kid, but seriously watch an interview or two.  Yes, I laughed, no, it did not need to be in the movie.
      • Voldemort’s scene with needing a different Death Eater’s wand.  Voldemort doesn’t ask for volunteers; he commands.  He doesn’t reference the amount of praise a follower would get for volunteering his wand.  And when he chooses Lucius, and he responds with “My Lord?” Voldemort does not do a mocking voice of “My Lord?”  No.  He’s not a petty, sassy bully.  He’s pure, straight evil and power.
      • Mad-Eye’s death.  Specifically the little time they spent on it.  And, in general, that battle, and how it’s poorly done.  Harry using the Disarming Charm is a huge point in the book: he refuses to sink to his enemy’s level to fight.  That whole battle is a big, huge, THIS IS SIRIUS (yeah I did it, shut it) moment of doom and they were kinda like “poor Hedwig, lawlz Hagrid landing in a pond, btdubs Mad-Eye’s dead.”
      • Ron’s bloodlust in the cafe.  I originally really disliked his desire to kill Dolohov and …Rowle?  (slipping on the names), but my friend Jack pointed out that he actually liked it.  It showed that Ron, growing up in the Wizarding world, had seen and heard about just how evil these people are, while Harry and Hermione did not.  I was pissed because Ron is super nervous about even thinking about having to kill them in the book, so to me, the movie “messed it up,” but Jack’s take is a cool one.  
      • The end of the Horcrux’s fantasy scene.  You were doing so well at staying true to the books until you made the whole audience uncomfortable.  The words were supposed to be what hurt Ron, not super awk H/Hr macking. 
      • They best be showing Dobby’s effing headstone next movie, that’s all I’m saying.
      • The eye in Umbridge’s door.  He let her keep it!  Not okay!
      • This isn’t really this movie’s fault, but I actually laughed at the beginning when Bill Weasley has to be like “yeah, werewolf.”  That’s because the last movie was Harry Potter and the Whoopsie We Decided to Leave Out the Whole Damn Battle Scene and Replace It With Helena Bonham Carter Acting Wacky and Alan Rickman Refusing to Shout His Lines.  And I love both of them, I do.  She plays a very convincing Bellatrix.  And his voice sounds like chocolates on a pillow made of velvet.  But there’s supposed to be shouting and a battle scene.  

      Probably will add edits at some point, but if you’ve got an opinion on it, please comment!  I’m always curious about what other people think.


        One third of your life? Lies. It’s all you think about.

        November 7, 2010

        Sidenote: they just opened a Chipotle about 5 minutes from me, which means I’ma be spherical by Christmas (think Violet Beauregarde but instead of juice, full of burrito).  

        I’m in law school, but I don’t pretend like I’m the only person whose sleep schedule is messed up.  (More like my life schedule: whatever, dinner can totally happen at 9:30 when I take a death nap from 6 to 9.) Most students seem to suffer from this, grad school, undergrad, whatever, and I love watching the articles and news reports showing that students aren’t getting enough sleep.  This is because I know every person between the ages of 15 and 29 is staring at the screen going “Say it ain’t so!  Next thing you know you’ll be telling us that Lindsay Lohan has done un-Disney-like things and Soulja Boy isn’t a good rapper!”  We KNOW, people.  EVERYONE knows.  We don’t sleep correctly. 

        I’ve never been a morning person, but I’m pretty sure most young people aren’t.  Waking up to an alarm, I’ve figured out, is retribution for the fact that you don’t remember being born and what a rude awakening that must have been.  It doesn’t matter if it’s 6:15 or 10 AM, if you don’t want to wake up, the first emotion you feel in the morning is rage.

        The alarm noise (I’m convinced they develop it by walking around and recruiting people you found irritating in highschool, bagpipers, and any one related by fewer than three degrees of separation to Fran Drescher) is basically a giant IHATEYOUIHATEYOU every morning, and if you have a comfortable bed, good luck.  Snooze button?  Let’s put off life for a bit longer.  Is it raining?  Hit it once.  Cold?  Hit it twice.  Raining AND cold?  Three times.  If you hit the trifecta of rain, cold, and still dark outside…sorry guys, not gonna make it in today.  Bed is better than the frickin’ Mount Doom outside.  Except at least Mount Doom would be warm.

        The rest of the morning is a blast and a half.  I don’t know what my favorite part is, since it’s so hard to choose.  The lines left on my face because I had the bad luck to sleep on a crease of my pillow?  The fact that my muscles are so weak that a six-year-old could take me in a playground fight and I’m anticipating being defeated by the orange juice lid?  The fact that my eyes are doing a sultry half-closed look due to puffiness and dark circles that might attract a raccoon but no other organism?  The fact that I have to drink a cup of coffee just to hit equilibrium?  Yeah mornings, that’s how I like it.  On Mondays and Wednesdays I get to go to torts and get shouted at for a while because our professor (while totally competent and clear) is a little WACKY so she SHOUTS some of her POINTS and at 8:15 in the Goddamn MORNING it’s like having another ALARM so I just want to PUNCH IT but “it” is a PROFESSOR so that’s probably a bad CALL but this goes on for two HOURS and by the end of it I’m like LESS LURNING MOAR SLEEPING PLZ.  And seriously, she’s a good professor, I’m getting the material, but still.

        Other than your supposedly main body of sleep done during the night, there are these things called “naps.”  Naps are kind of like a deal with the devil, or eating at Coldstone: at the moment, it’s wonderful, but not worth the price you pay in the long run.  
        There are rules to napping.

        1. You will nap longer than you wanted to.
        20-minute power naps become hour-long dozes.  45 minutes becomes an hour and a half.  Didn’t set an alarm for your nap?  Rookie mistake, and you gon’ be out for three hours.  Why you gotta be like that, bed.

        2. You will feel like an idiot when you wake up.
        If you didn’t mean to nap, you’ll feel like an idiot because you gave into sleep, but even if you meant to nap, you will feel silly upon waking.  You may look at the clock, see that it’s 7:45 and assume you’ll be late for class/work.  You may rise and fall, not realizing one of your legs is asleep.  You make wake up with a feeling I can only describe as HUNNNHHH?  which, defined, means “I have forgotten everything that has ever happened to me and am very confused right now.”  The Goldfish State, as it were. 

        3. You will waste time at either end of the nap preparing for and recovering from it.
        Changing clothes, closing blinds, listening to music, whatever.  Attempting to fall asleep however it works best for you.  Then, on the other end, you will take wayyyyy too much time getting yourself out of bed, adjusting to the light, and remembering how to make words with your mouth again.

        4. You’ll tell everyone about your nap.

        One other hard and fast rule about sleeping: instead of using the “fall back” extra hour to your advantage, you will waste that hour on YouTube and Facebook or decide laundry needs to get done instead of actually going to bed.  And Spring Forward?  Kiss that hour of sleep goodbye; you’re not gonna adjust your schedule.  Am I RIGHT? Is that just me?….nevermind. 

        Not my best work here, I know, but I had this post mostly crafted a few days ago and haven’t posted in a while, so here you go!