The Depths of Fear

So everyone has weird little phobias, right? Things that scare the jeepers out of them even while they acknowledge that, yeah maybe this shouldn’t really be super scary, right? It’s just something that triggers something in your brain that turns on the OH SHIT PANIC PANIC mode. For me, it’s the ocean.

Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. While I am scared shitless of the ocean in general I still love to learn about all the animals and things that go on in there for some reason. Octopuses are one of my most favorite animals ever to the point where I have a tattoo of one.

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Octopus designed by Erika Moen (erikamoen.com)

 

Jellyfish, blue sharks, orcas, marlins, squid, cuttlefish… All animals that I love reading about and seeing pictures of and if we go to an aquarium I will spend hours just staring at everything and telling random strangers little fun facts about the creatures before us. I read books, look up things on the internet, sketch images of them, the whole nine yards. Learning about these creatures fills me with no small amount of glee.

But I would rather die in a car fire than ever encounter any of those animals in their natural habitat.

I’ve had some people attribute my fear of the ocean to the fact that I’ve spent all my life up to this point living in a land-locked state. Driving to the beach would be an 8+ hour affair at the best. I don’t think that has anything to do with it though. It’s not scary because it’s unfamiliar to me. I have read so much about the ocean and learned so much that I don’t really think that is a valid point of explanation. Especially when you factor in the fact that the more I learn about the ocean the more batshit terrified I get of it.

It’s… It’s too big. It’s too deep. Humans are not designed to survive in the ocean and guess what? Everything that lives there, is. So when it comes to human being vs. anything in the ocean that is even moderately dangerous we are at a severe disadvantage. The fastest human swimmer is no match for some of the slowest fish out there. The most horrifying thought to me is being in like, a fishing boat or something out on the ocean.

Those boats are just so little and rickety and even if you’re not very far from shore (depending on where you are) the water can already stretch for hundreds upon hundreds of miles below you. The thought of all that volume filled with god-knows-what, it just… *shudders* No thank you.

I don’t imagine I’d do any better on a cruise either. Just ’cause the ship is huge and all doesn’t distract my brain from where we are. I would totally end up going everywhere on the ship with my Backpack of Survival outfitted with things to help me survive should I be stranded on a lifeboat.

Yes, I have devoted countless hours of my life to planning and researching just what exactly would be in this bag.

When one of my friends went to Alaska with her father to go deep sea fishing I had to beg her to stop showing me photos and videos of the fishing part of their trip because with each one I fell deeper and deeper into a pit of panic. When she laughed and put them away I felt so spent and exhausted it was as if I had had to run a marathon. Just, no boats for me, ever, okay?

As for the beach… Well I actually have been to the beach before in my life. In recent memory even. I was on South Padre Island in Texas and oh Jesus, just getting there was trying. You have to drive a bridge there. Like, a long-ass bridge over the OCEAN OH MY GOD I’M GONNA DIE. I actually did okay with the bridge until I found the little memorial to commemorate the souls of the people who died when a section of the bridge collapsed shortly after 9/11 happened.

Apparently a boat hit some of the supports and knocked out a section of the bridge. A section that was at the top of an incline on the bridge so oncoming cars couldn’t see the bridge section was gone until they were practically right on top of it. …Yeah. Some people ended up driving straight off the bridge and into the ocean. Let’s just say it made the drive off the island THAT MUCH MORE FUN.

South Padre Island is an interesting island to be on though. It’s really long but not very wide; you could walk from one side to the other in like, half an hour or so if you wanted. Plus all the beaches are public there so you can wander at will.

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View from the hotel. I went in December and it was DEAD so that was really nice.

 

And I gotta say, I like the beach. The air smells nice, all the birds that are around are really cool (there weren’t very many seagulls when I went so I guess I lucked out. There were a lot of really tiny sandy colored birds that were so cute and fluffy I had to resist all urges to catch one and keep it) and the sand was soft and warm. Hmmm? What’s that? You want to know if I actually went in the water?

The short answer is kind of. The long answer is: I never went so far in the water to be considered swimming. Ever. Not even close. I felt pretty okay with the water being ankle deep though I will admit that took some getting used to. The funniest moment with my “wading” was when I was taking a walk along the beach, feet in water, shoes in hand, staring at all of humanities lowest common denominators who were also at the beach when the sand sloped down more into the water but I didn’t notice until suddenly the water was right under my knees.

I froze and looked down in horror, trying to get my brain to start working again. “Well,” I said (not quietly) out loud, “This sure is deep. Uh, okay, crap. I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out.” I chanted as I skittered as fast as I could out of the water, feeling all the while like I was trying to outrun some vicious predator right on my heels.

I got to the dry sand again and stood stock still, bent slightly over, trying to catch my breath. Sweat had erupted from my brow and I’m pretty sure I was sportin’ a not too subtle case of The Crazy Eyes. When I felt a tad bit better I looked up and noticed a passing family had stopped and were just… Staring at me with unabashed confusion mixed with just a tablespoon of horror. As soon as I looked at them they skittered away as fast as they could, lest I start ranting and railing at them about how the ocean puts government controlled microchips in our skin to make us all stay home on election day.

The best sight I saw at that beach (and I cop to being a pretty horrible person to have found this as funny as I did) was a huge flock of seagulls mobbing a little girl for Cheez-Its. The little girl was maybe three and had long black hair down to her butt and the box of Cheez-Its was almost as big as she was. Her family was not two feet away, somehow totally oblivious to the huge mob of birds directly behind them, all hovering and dive-bombing at the little girl. The girl, for her part, tried to make the seagulls go away by throwing Cheez-Its at them. Not a very well thought out plan honestly.

I seriously tried to take a picture of this because it was just such a hysterical sight: little girl in red dress surrounded by seagulls as big as her while a huge clump of family members were less than a yard away (and get this) some of them were even facing the same general direction as the mob of seagulls but I dunno, maybe they thought the seagulls were going crazy over something else? I could hear the little girl shouting for the birds to GO AWAY as she mightily hurled Cheez-Its skyward in an attempt to drive them off. Just as I got my camera ready though the family finally turned around en masse and saved the poor girl from her trial. I was more disappointed than I should have been.

So panic attacks aside I wouldn’t mind going to a beach again. I still don’t think there is any amount of money in the world that could get me any deeper in the water than I’ve already been but I can live with that. I will say that living in a landlocked state makes it easier to feel better about the whole thing and also gives me the added bonus that unless we move or specifically save up for it I will never have to worry about my kid trying to drag me into the water and me having to dance the line between informing my kid why I won’t go but without passing on my phobia to them.

Makes life easier that way.

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Okay, Ocean, I tell you what. You stay over there and I’ll stay-

 

 

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AAAAH! It’s coming for me!

 

 

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RUN! RUN!

 

 

MMD Challenge: Read it in a day, talk about it for a week

So! Chuggin’ right along with this MMD challenge (don’t worry, my next book that I have planned is totally gonna knock me off my ass and take a million years to get through) I have an entry for Challenge #2: a book you can read in a day. The book I went with? Joe David Brown’s Paper Moon. (Or, if you have a copy from pre-1973, Addie Pray.)

This is another book that apparently has a movie adaptation of that I’ve never seen before. In fact, I didn’t know it existed until I tried Googling the book and the only thing that came up was the movie. Adding “novel” to the end of my search input yielded pages about the book under the title Addie Pray and honestly I was super disappointed with what I found because not a whole lot out there adequately describes just how fucking charming this book is.

But before I get into the book proper I have a confession to make. This book… It is the center of a book-sin that I have carried on my soul for far to long. You see, once upon a time one of my dear friends lent me this book. She loved the hell out of it and wanted me to read it because she was sure I would love it too and she wanted us to be able to discuss it and love it together. I took her copy of the book, assured her I would read and then I didn’t. For years. Until recently.

As a bibliophile I cannot stand when people do this to me. It’s like hey, asshole, I didn’t give you the book and I’m not making you write a report on it. If you don’t want to read it, fine, whatever, just give it back to me. I don’t want to be watching an episode of Hoarders only to see you on there with the host, who is holding my book and they ask you, “Do you really need to keep this? Have you even read it?” And you shake your head sadly and say, “No I haven’t.” So the host has you bravely and heroically throw the book in the Throw-Out bin as I shriek from my home, “THAT BOOK WAS MINE MOTHERFUCKER!”

(Not that this exact situation has ever happened to me, per se but I did have someone whom I had lent a book to ages ago admit to me that they had forgotten the book was mine and had donated it to a thrift store. They didn’t offer to replace my copy and I think it goes without saying that we’re not friends anymore.)

Yeah, after I finally read this book I called up the friend in question to confess to my mea culpa and give them the book back. Turns out they forgot they had lent it to me and had already purchased a copy of the book for themselves. So…. This one’s mine now! Not really a good way to learn a lesson, honestly since I essentially got rewarded with a free book. (My friend was rightfully pissed off at me when I admitted my sin but she did have the kindness to forgive me. I’m sorry K! You have good taste in books!)

SO! With that out of the way, let’s actually look at the book in question, Paper Moon.

Paper Moon is set during the Depression (the only time a specific year is mentioned is towards the end and it’s 1935) and follows the lives and scams of the 12 year old Addie Pray and her probably-father Moses “Long Boy” Pray.

(Yeah, Long Boy is one of three men who could be Addie’s father and the only real reason that she is with him instead of either of them is cause… Well… I don’t want to say he stole her cause that’s not entirely true but he did pick her up to drive her to an aunt’s house or something but then she didn’t want to go cause she thought it would be more fun to help him with his “business” so she begged him to keep her with him so he does, which yeah, sweet and all, but she is like five or six when this happens so technically he’s supposed to be the adult in the situation and not let a very young girl dictate his course of action but gahhh. Whatever, it’s complicated.)

So, Long Boy is a Confidence Man (which honestly I had never heard of before outside of an Arrested Development episode where Tobias wants to audition as Confidence Man 2 in a movie or something. When I first read that he was a confidence man I was like, “What? Why not just say he’s a con man? …Wait a minute…” So I looked it up and indeed, con man is short for confidence man so named because they trick people out of their money by gaining their confidence first. WE ALL GET TO LEARN SOMETHING TODAY. Unless you already knew that in which I’m sure this seems pretty freaking hilarious to you. ANYWAY).

Long Boy and Addie scam people out of money. Frequently. It’s how they get by and support themselves on the road. Normally I’m not a big fan of things that have what are essentially villain protagonists but the story frames it in such a way as to where we are supposed to like them and root for them as the “heroes.” I don’t mind villain protagonists in general but I enjoy it more when the story is like, “This is a horrible person. Let’s watch them be horrible! And by the way, if you feel like rooting for them may I remind you that they just shot a baby? They are not a good person!”

Even though Paper Moon frames Long Boy and Addie as the good guys (the story is being told retroactively by Addie so it almost does without saying that of course they are depicted in a positive light), I enjoyed the hell out of it. I mean, I was even rooting for them even though they are robbing people of their money in a time that is well known for not many people having a lot of money!

What was really fun was to use an inflation calculator to see just how much money we’re talking about. When you read things like a hat costing $30.00 it seems kind of steep for the time but it’s hard for your brain to grasp how steep. So we mosey on over to an inflation calculator like this one, type in all the numbers and see that today that hat would cost…. $518.79. Holy shit. It gives you perspective is what I’m saying.

For instance at the beginning they scam a recent widow out of $25.00 using a bible scam which means they really took her for about $432.33 by today’s money. Our heroes, everybody! Watch as they lie to a widow and tell her that her recently deceased husband had ordered a deluxe bible for her when he really didn’t! Be amazed as they charge her a huge amount for what was essentially a dollar bible they bought in bulk specifically for this scam! Try not to weep as the woman hands over the money without complain because she truly believes she is purchasing the last gift her husband ever got for her as she tells Addie about how she had a young daughter once who is (surprise!) also dead!

Though what is nice about this beginning scene is that the woman’s kindness gets to Addie too. As they drive away Addie feels so awful that she bursts into tears and she starts cussing the old woman out for making her feel bad about conning her, calling her things like, “an egg sucking slut” and the like. Long Boy is completely surprised at this because, unlike Addie, he pretty much never feels bad about any of the tricks they pull.

There’s actually another great part much later in the story when a fellow con man tells Addie that she’s very lucky because she truly doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. Addie is understandably, put out by this and insists she ain’t bad to which the gentleman chuckles and says, “I didn’t say you were, chicken. You have a keen awareness of the difference between good and evil, thank heaven. I meant that it never occurs to you to consider whether society regards what you are doing is right or wrong. You should be glad you’re so lucky. I envy you.” Addie is understandably not pleased to hear this. No one likes being told something like that but I think it gives interesting insight to her as a character. If she was truly bad or didn’t care then I don’t think she would have been ruffled by being told that.

Since this book is set in the 1930’s there is a decent amount of slang that is particular to the time period. Even though Mr. Joe David Brown wrote this book in the early Seventies he did a good job of making it feel like a product of its time. Which meant there were more than a few instances where I had to look something up because I didn’t understand what the characters were getting at, AT ALL.

For instance, you know what a bay window is, right? What about when a person refers to a man as having a bay window? Turns out that that’s slang for someone having a big, hanging out gut. I would have never guessed. I was going more the widow’s peak route and assuming it had to do with hair. I also looked up what a Nehi was and that turns out to be an old soda company that specialized in flavored sodas. It makes Addie’s favorite treat of a coney island with a strawberry Nehi make more sense, I’ll tell you that.

(I felt kind of dumb when I was initially confused by the coney island thing too, until I remembered that Sonic sells a, “chili cheese coney” and another character flat out refers to them as hotdogs at some point so mystery solved! And without Google’s help! Somebody get me a Smart Person medal!)

I definitely recommend reading this book, even if you’ve seen the movie, if only because what I think is the entire best section is apparently not in the movie at all. It’s a long con that goes all over the place in the best ways possible and it is emotionally gripping as well. Like, I didn’t cry but I definitely marveled at how invested I was in everything. This book made me surprise myself.

I’m working on the next book for this challenge but it’s a doozy of a read so it’ll probably be a while before I have anything to say about it. I’m definitely enjoying this as a challenge so far and hope you’re all enjoying the ride as well. Till next time!

“Vignette” is way too fancy of a word for this post

It’s a snowy day and I’m feeling a little bit lazy so here are some more little random fun bits (no, not those kind of fun bits, ya pervert) instead of a “real” post.

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I told Matt that we should have named Fang-A-Lang Ariel instead. He kind of just looked at me and I said, “Cause she always wants in here with us.” He sort of shook his head like he didn’t get what I was getting at so I started to sing, “She wants to be where the people are. She wants to eat, wants to eat their foo-ood. Batting and playing with anything that, mooooves!” Looking at his face all I could think was, “Ha ha and you married me, sucker!

(If you don’t get my song reference then you’re dead to me.)

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I got to learn that babies don’t like Doppler wands at all. Or at least mine doesn’t. My doctor was just checking the heartbeat, making sure everything was still going well and the baby kept running away (so to speak) from the Doppler. My doctor’s face would light up as she would pinpoint the heartbeat but not two seconds after finding it the steady, quick, whoosh whoosh whoosh, would be replaced with various gurgling Katie-stomach sounds because my baby was all, “Fuck this!” And had moved away. I tried not to laugh as my doctor pursued my baby throughout my uterus with the Doppler, trying to get enough of the heart beat for her to be able to say everything was normal. Pro-tip: if your doctor doesn’t have a sense of humor about that sort of thing then maybe they’re kind of a jerk. Just sayin’.

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Matt and I decided to get one last toy for ourselves before the baby gets here and splurged on an Xbox One. I was surprised (and a little suspicious of) the lack of a power button. Apparently you just have to hold your finger in front of the little Xbox symbol and it turns on. Matt demonstrated for me and my reaction can best be described as, “Puritan during Salem witch trials.” He laughed at me but I got revenge when he was surprised and baffled that the Xbox one has wireless internet and didn’t require us staking a cord over to it. We were like the apes at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Because of how Fang’s lower jaw is set she ends up sticking our her tongue while she sleeps 90% of the time. She’s very blasé about it too; she doesn’t mind if we poke her tongue or anything like that. She’ll still sit there with most of her tongue sticking out with a facial expression that reads, “What? What’s so funny?” The other day she was cuddling next to me and I looked down to see her tongue was actually rolled up like a taco. It was so adorable and bizarre and I tried to get a picture of it but of course as soon as I got my camera going she woke up and started cleaning herself.

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Matt and I don’t share blankets. We can’t, actually. It’s my fault. I am a world class Blanket Thief and Cocooner. We tried sharing blankets for years but what would always happen was I would get cold, roll myself up in all the blankets, stealing them from Matt. This would bake me like a roll in an oven so I would eventually kick off all the blankets in a wad between Matt and I, like a weird textile third person in bed with us. We would both end up waking up in bed cold and with no blankets, wondering at the weird blanket wall in-between us.

And while I could have tried to blame Matt for this too, he is not the first person in my life to accuse me of such behavior so we’re both sure it’s me. I still do it to some extent even though I have my own blanket now. That’s why Matt calls me a Cocooner. I somehow manage to wrap the blankets around myself in such a way it looks like I’m getting ready to undergo a metamorphoses. I can go to bed with my comforter right side up, with the pattern at the bottom and when I wake up the blanket is upside down with the pattern at my face. I don’t know how I do it either.

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Matt finally started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition (which means now we get to fight over whose turn it is to play). For this he made his character a female Qunari mage. (Just picture a 8’6″ woman with grey skin, horns and a staff that lets her throw lightning around as needed.)

While I have a tendency to play the game multiple times over Matt tends to focus on one play through during which he tries to collect/do everything possible. So when it comes to the romance aspect of the game I tend to only flirt with or pursue one person at a time (so I can be surprised when I play through other romances) and Matt is currently flirting with everyone he can. (He is a gentleman and stops if the other character is like, “Whoah, hey not interested.” Otherwise all bets are off.)

It’s kind of fun to watch this huge, lumbering woman flirt with everyone available to her. Matt’s favorite people are the ones who get flustered or don’t know how to respond to his flirting. I tease him that he’s not used to being the one who gets to do the flustering as opposed to being the one who is flustered. (If I had waited for him to start flirting with me I would die an old maid, let’s just put it that way. Matt is lucky that he’s super cute when he blushes.)

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I keep feeling like there was something funny and interesting that I wanted to say but my brain has just been shrugging and saying, “I dunno. Go eat some cookies. We’re starving.” So I’m gonna end here and indulge in some sweet treats while trying not to think of my impending gestational diabetes test.

Sleepless

Guh. I am not one of those people who does well with very little sleep. If I am yanked out of a peaceful slumber without enough z’s under my belt I turn into a cranky, whiney bitch. The worst part is I can’t even nap. My body does this thing where once I’m up, I am UP which means being awake until nightfall where I can pass the fuck out once more. Naps leave me feeling grumpier than before, usually with an unexplained migraine thrown on top of it.

So the fact that I’ve been starting to experience some of this pregnancy sleep problems crap that I’ve always read so much about it a bit of a bother.

So far it’s only really boiled down to being the last week or so with only two nights out of the last seven being bad enough for me to want to whine and cry. Most of it is common complaints: leg cramps, knees aching (I did finally learn to keep a pillow between my knees and ohmygod it helps soooo much), baby deciding to kick the crap out of my stomach as soon as I drift off to sleep, and needing to wake up to pee a lot (that’s another one the internet lied to me about. All these freaking pregnancy newsletters going on and on about how around 20 weeks you start to feel relief from needing to pee all the time because your uterus is ascending away from your bladder. LIES. ALL OF IT BIG FAT LIES).

None of those really compare to Wednesday night when I woke up twice unable to breathe. There was never really any warning beforehand, no dreams of suffocation or anything like that. Just suddenly jolting straight up awake, struggling to breathe in, feeling as if an elephant or something was sleeping on my chest.

Both times sitting up helped and I was able to start breathing again pretty quickly. (Matt never woke up for either of these, by the way. There was some grumpiness at the time of SURE DON’T LET MY SUFFOCATION DEPRIVE YOU OF A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP OR ANYTHING.) Also both times I had weird not-awake thoughts of, “Is this heartburn? It doesn’t feel like heartburn but what if that’s all it is?” Which, I don’t even know why my brain was convinced I was having heartburn. It didn’t resemble heartburn in the slightest.

Fortunately my sister happens to be a L&D nurse so I tend to go to her a lot with my basic questions of, “how concerned should I be right now?” Her answer was that it sounds like potentially sleep apnea or gastric reflux and to talk to my ob about it when I see her on Tuesday. She also chastised me for sleeping on my back but I explained that I keep falling asleep on my side but I guess I’m rolling over onto my back while I sleep or something. Fun times.

Last night was just pure insomnia. I was exhausted and begging Matt to turn off the video games so we could go to bed (I got him started in Inquisition, what have I done?) at like, 10:30pm. I then proceeded to get in bed, lie down and stare at my ceiling for like… Five hours or so. I didn’t start actually falling asleep until about 3am or so which means I feel like eight different kinds of ass today.

I’m super jealous of Red sometimes. He possesses the remarkable ability to sleep whenever he needs to regardless of the time of day. He’s also not a light sleeper as evidenced by the other day when he slept entirely through the jackhammer team working right outside our front door.

That’s right. He slept through jackhammers. What were jackhammers doing right outside our apartment, you may ask? I was wondering the same thing honestly when they got started. We live on the first floor and the stairs to get to subsequent floors are concrete set in like, metal frame beds. I guess the initial landing on the stairs right outside needed replacing so they were jack hammering the concrete out so they could replace it.

All I know for sure was that once the work started all of the cats clustered onto my bed (more specifically, onto me) and were looking around as if the end of the world was descending upon them. Shy and Fang set aside their differences so they could huddle in terror together, confident that they would be dead soon.

Once the jack hammering stopped there was a few moments of reprieve before a whole new auditory hell opened up. I still don’t know what they were doing but it sounded… Well it sounded as if a giant robot had asked someone what it means to blow a raspberry and so their human friend demonstrated what a raspberry is and the robot tried to imitate that sound. Constantly. For two hours.

And Red slept through all of it. So freaking jealous.

I’ll be interesting someday, I swear

Something about me sitting down at my desk and opening the laptop seems to signal to all the cats that, hey! I’m gonna be sitting down for a while, probably, you should cluster on over and try and figure out what I’m doing! Maybe poke around at the screen or (in the case of Fang-A-Lang) stare at the march of words that appear on the screen or take swipes at the cursor when it moves. It is a little unnerving to sit down to write and have all three cats surround me and stare at me with cold unblinking eyes. I dunno, maybe they’re trying to imitate an internet audience. Great verisimilitude you guys! Now go away.

(Pffff look at me, casually dropping a crazy-ass word like verisimilitude in here, like I’m all fancy-pants or something. I still remember the first time I ever heard that word and looked up what it meant. It was when that movie, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events came out. Count Olaf uses the word as an explanation as to why he cast Judge Strauss to play the judge in his play. I had to turn on the subtitles on the DVD to see how the word was spelled so I could look it up. And in case you were reading this boring anecdote about remembering the first time I learned a word, wondering if the rest of the post was going to be this same level of exciting, let me just tell you know that yes. Yes it is.)

Yeah I don’t really have a concrete like, theme or topic for today but since that never seems to stop anyone else (ooooh sick burn to lots of people on the internet, including myself!) I’m just gonna write little bits about stuff I’ve wanted to talk about but none of it is long enough to be a post proper on its own.

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Matt finally felt one of the baby’s kicks the other day. He’ll be quick to point out that he “faintly” felt it but still. He finally felt our baby move so that’s a win in my book. The baby has been so much more active lately and I’m able to feel movement pretty much throughout the day now. But the other day I sat and watched my stomach with a sense of bizarreness as I could see my stomach pop up and down occasionally, like I was popping popcorn in there or something.

(Has anyone else ever noticed how much pregnancy stuff is like, pure body horror? Like if you were to take descriptions of what pregnant women feel and go through with the Having Something Grow Inside Them and replaced the word “baby” with “creature” you suddenly have the plot to a sci-fi horror movie? No? Just me? Carry on, then.)

Matt has been dying to feel the baby kick for AGES now; pretty much ever since I started noticing movement. But since our baby seems kinda lazy (it likes to have on frantic burst of movement and energy and then, oop, back to sleep for three hours) I’ve never been able to get his hand on my tummy in time. Even the other day I saw my stomach go OOP outwards with a kick and I was like, “Hand! Hand!” And yanked Matt’s hand onto my stomach and then… Nothing.

Matt got the funniest look on his face and proceeded to sort of push down onto my stomach like he was playing the saxophone or something. Then he put his hand on me and waited a sec. Sure enough, his weird movements elicited a, “What the hell?” response from the baby who gave one solid kick right at his hand as if to say, “Cut it out, up there! I’m trying to sleep!”

Matt looked at me as soon as the kick happened and asked, “Was that a kick?” When I confirmed that it was, he looked so giddy and happy so I’m sorry to say, baby that your daddy doesn’t regret his pestering you one little bit. In fact if pestering you is the only way he gets to feel your little movements you may need to strap in and get used to being bothered more.

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I think I’ve been doing well with the pregnancy brain. Most of the time. There are still a lot of moments in conversation where my brain is like, “Ooh! We have a point! It’s relevant to this conversation and everything!” So I start telling my story or whatever and suddenly it’s like my train of thought hit a penny and derailed violently, taking out not only the point I was trying to make but also causing collateral damage to other thoughts and speech processes as well. So my talking suddenly cuts out and I look blankly at whoever I was talking to and have to ask embarrassing things like, “What were we talking about? Do you happen to know what I was going to say? Who are you again?”

Now I’ve gotten to the point where I insist that I did have a point, I swear! It was right here a second ago, I honestly don’t know where it’s run off to! Red or Matt will roll their eyes like, “Suuuurrre you did.” The fact that I do love talking and tell stories that rarely have points on good days doesn’t help my credibility here.

Talking problems and the occasional getting lost aside, I feel like I have a pretty good grip on this whole pregnancy brain thing. That is until yesterday.

I wanted to play Dragon Age: Inquisition so I grabbed both the Xbox remote and the TV remote and plopped down in bed. I held out the remote to turn on the TV and heard a weird click that usually denotes that the remote has successfully turned on the TV and it’ll be powering on shortly. Only, the sound was slightly off and I had popped my wrist right as I was clicking the power button so I figured I must not have hit the button hard enough and tried again.

There! That time I totally heard the TV respond and so I sat in silence for about five minutes, waiting for the TV to turn on. Let me reiterate: I sat for FIVE MINUTES staring at the black screen, waiting for the TV to turn on like, yup! Any second now! It’s sure gonna turn on soon!

As I’m sure you already figured out, I had actually turned on the TV the first time but stupidly thought I had just heard my wrist pop, so when I clicked the remote again I just turned off the TV. And then I stared at it; waiting for it to turn on. At no point in time did I think something like, “Huh, this sure is taking a while.” Nope. Nosiree Bob. I was certain that at any second the screen would burst to light and I would be awarded for my patience with hours of Inquisiting fun.

I’m a dumb ass.

***********************************************************************

Last Saturday Matt and I drove down to visit my grandparents as a way to cheer up my grandmother who had had the unfortunate luck of falling down in her driveway and breaking her right wrist in like, four places requiring pins to be fixed up right. Considering her right hand is her dominant hand she was having trouble getting used to her new limited abilities and just in general was feeling really blue.

It’s a three hour drive from my place to their house and since I had all but begged Matt to go with me, I offered to drive so he could just play video games or whatever. But in my car there is a rule, if I’m driving I get to pick the music.

So the moral of the story is that it’s probably a bad idea to drag your husband with you on a trip to see your family and then force him to listen to you sing at the top of your lungs to Bonnie Tyler. Just a thought.

Just what the Internet needs more of: Cats!

Monty is currently glaring at me with Hurt and Betrayal written all over his little kitty face because while I never let him cuddle with me anymore Fang-A-Lang is snuggling in my lap like a spoiled princess.

And to be fair, no I don’t let Monty lay on me anymore because he’s a freaking 15lb cat that likes to lay lengthwise on my body like a baby, with his head tucked under my chin. He takes up so much room this way that I literally can do nothing but pet him (which may be the point of that pose after all). He also likes to put his back feet directly on my tummy and he has a tendency to put alllll his weight on those two little back feet so it feels like Peggy the Peg-legged Cat is standing on my guts.

Fang-A-Lang, while possessing some faith changing bad breath, weighs maybe half as much as Monty and lays delicately on my lap like a normal cat would, thus causing no problems and getting way more cuddles and attention that way.

Fanglap

“You should let me write today’s post. It’ll be much better than this crap.”

 

Things are still tumultuous when it comes to cat relations in this house. Simply put Shy hates that Fang exists and every second Fang continues to exist instead of buggering off and finding a new family, Shy is filled with hatred for her. Fang doesn’t pick up on ANY of Shy’s not-so-subtle clues such as: hissing, clawing, biting, attempting to pounce her when her back is turned, general back arching and floofiness of fur, etc.

Fang sees all of Shy’s actions as signs that they are Best Friends Forever. Fang is almost always sporting some sort of small scab or scratch mark on her face because she doesn’t know how to leave well enough alone. Who we pity and who we’re mad at is determined largely by the circumstances.

Most of the time Shy will see Fang coming and she’ll duck to hide behind something so she can leap out and pounce Fang and swat at her for Daring to Exist. In these cases Shy is obviously the aggressor and we get mad at her accordingly. Fang will be looked over to make sure the damage isn’t too bad and gets an escort to wherever she was heading so she can’t get pounced again.

(The worst incident that I can recall had Shy follow Fang into our closet cause she was hell-bent on Starting Some Shit. Fang didn’t know she was there, tried to leave the closet, scared Shy and got swatted on the nose. I broke it up quickly but I guess Shy’s claw hooked like, the inside of Fang’s nostril or something because Fang had blood just dripping out of her nose. It looked worse than it was and Fang seemed totally fine with it though she did decide to sneeze that blood all over one of my pillows making it looks as if Jackson Pollock had had a go at it. It was gross.)

Sometimes Fang acts in such a way that it’s hard to have sympathy for her. Shy will be ignoring Fang or trying to go to the litter box or something and Fang will prance up, happy as can be, like, “Hey buddy! Let’s play!”

And Shy hisses and arches her back and is basically doing the kitty equivalent of, “FUCKING GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!”

But Fang just bounds forward like, “Let’s play!” Or even more stupidly, she will initiate a fight with Shy by taking a slow swat in her general direction. Shy will then flip the fuck out and attack Fang to make her leave her alone. When everything’s said and done Shy is looking as if she just narrowly avoided a tangle with Death itself and Fang is so dang confused about why her actions led to this outcome and how could it have been avoided?

Many a times have Matt or I had to grab Fang hastily and last second to prevent her from trying to pounce Shy in what I’m sure she thought was a fun and friendly sort of way but that Shy would have seen as a Declaration of War.

The most recent kerfluffle happened yesterday when I was trying to make the bed. Shy was on the bed, investigating it now that it had no sheets or anything on it. I was holding a giant pile of blankets and things that I was getting ready to set down. Fang decided to investigate by jumping onto the bed. Landing right next to Shy. Who was looking the other way. And miraculously didn’t notice Fang was there. Right next to her. Less than three inches away.

I had to think fast lest another episode of Kitty Fight Club erupted on the bed. But my arms were full of blankets. What could I do? Without really thinking about it, I dropped the enormous pile of blankets directly on top of Fang-A-Lang like the avalanche scene in Mulan. Whomp. Fang instantly disappeared. Shy turned to see what I was doing and I guess she like smelled or sensed Fang in that moment cause she got upset and fluffy but seeing only a giant pile of blankets, she chose to run away instead. Success!

Fang crawled out from under the blanket pile, blissfully unaware of what had just happened or just how close she had come to being filleted alive by Shy’s wrath. She just looked at me like, “Huh. Where did these blankets come from?” And then started to try getting me to play with her.

I really hope Shy will eventually calm down a little when it comes to Fang-A-Lang’s existence soon. I don’t think I’ll always be able to avert a disaster with blankets.

Book Challenge Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

The second book I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge qualifies for #7 on the list: read a book that was published before you were born. And with a publishing date of 1986 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood certainly fits the bill!

I know that there is a lot and I mean, A LOT, of political flak and discussion and debate centered around this book. “Is it feminist?” “Is it overbearing?” “Does Atwood suck all joy out of the art of reading?” “Is the author proselytizing at us too much?” “Is the story even remotely realistic?” “Is the message of the story lost underneath all the bullshit?” I didn’t realize this book was a hot-button topic for a lot of people until I did more than a cursory glance around the internet.

And honestly? I kind of don’t give a shit about any of it.

Maybe I’m just a backwater no-thinker but I like to let books sort of wash around me like music. I’m much more concerned about whether the book is enjoyable to read and makes me feel things. Not that I’m saying that people who dissect these books are in the wrong for doing so. Books can be powerful tools and they definitely deserve to be dissected by people who know a lot more than I do and care a lot more than I care.

There are definitely things in the world that I love to dissect to death. I pick them apart at the seams until the whole thing just collapses into a heap of parts in my hands. And then I start digging through those too. But this book? I dunno, it just didn’t strike me as something I wanted to sink my teeth into in that way.

Maybe because it was already a book that made me cringe up like I was watching a horror movie but I just didn’t want to analyze every single little thing in this. My personal subtitle for this book, while I was reading it, was: A Terrible Story to Read While Pregnant. I still stand by that because ladies this is NOT a book you should be perusing while with child. Just sayin’.

For those not in the know, pregnancy is like a central motif of the story. The author talks a lot about pregnancy to make a lot of points about gender politics, sexual discrimination, religious views, and biological roles being turned into societal roles. Pregnancy is kind of central to the whole plot and purpose of the character in the story.

Set in a dystopian future/past (it would have been future when it was written but we are so far forward now it is officially set in the past) where the United States has now transformed into a country called Gilead. Women have been stripped of pretty much all rights; they’re not allowed to read anymore, they are considered property of the men they are attached to and in the case of our narrator, they don’t necessarily have names anymore.

Our narrator is a handmaid. Handmaids exist to basically be child birthers for upper class men of Status who have no children of their own and whose wives are too old to bear them children themselves. So once a month the narrator (who, like all handmaids is referred to as property of her commander; in this case she is Offred or Of Fred if you’re particularly dense like me cause it seriously took me way too long to realize that’s how their “names” work) has to lie in tandem with the commander’s wife and he nails her to try to get her pregnant. She lays between the legs of the wife to really drive home the idea that she is just a vessel acting on behalf of the wife and any child she has will be the wife’s, not hers.

It’s implied there was some nuclear war not too long ago so birth rates have plummeted and handmaids get three years to prove they are still fertile enough to bear children. If they can have a non-deformed baby in that time then they are set for life. They still have to be handmaids and get boned professionally by old guys in an attempt to give them babies BUT they will never be declared an “Unwoman” and shipped off to be killed or just slowly starve to death in a place full of nuclear radiation referred to as the Colonies.

Yeesh. Did I mention that this is a super fucked up book?

Our narrator talks about the time leading up to this dystopia, her husband and daughter that she had before all this went down. Her daughter has naturally been stripped from her and put into a new family where she will be raised to be their child, with no more than faint glimmering memories of her old life. Our narrator describes the very macabre and sad life of a handmaid and recounts stories about friends, family, the transitional period between the old and the now, everything.

There are very emotional descriptions of feeling the need to be pregnant and the yearning jealousy of a different handmaid who actually is pregnant. When that same handmaid gives birth, all handmaids gather to attend the birth, participating in a crazy birth ritual involving chanting, refreshments, and the commander’s wife hopping on a special stool that puts her above the handmaid while she gives birth, as if it were her baby she birthed.

A lot of these parts made me feel tight in my stomach and gave me really ooky feelings about my own pregnancy and the importance it has in my life. But the part that has stuck with me the most is probably the Patricicution from towards the end.

(If you’ve never read this book but want to and want this horrifying scene left in tact for your surprise you should skip ahead. But I mean, this book is nearly 30 years old so I don’t think anyone can get mad at “spoilers” here.)

The Patricicution takes place at a Women’s Salvaging which is basically where they gather all the women together and make them watch as they hang women for committing various crimes and getting caught. After the Salvaging is done a man is brought forward and made to stand in a circle made up of handmaids. The handmaids are told that he and another man raped two women resulting in one of the women miscarrying. They will blow a whistle and the handmaids can do whatever they want to him until the whistle is blown again.

They tear him to pieces with their bear hands.

A point is also made that this guy is probably just a political prisoner that they need executed for other reasons; the rape story is probably all just lies to whip the handmaids into a murderous frenzy. The small part of this that sticks to my mind the most vividly is the image of one of the handmaids with blood on her face and hands holding a chunk of the guy’s bloody hair in her hands like a trophy and sort of babbling nonsensically as if she were back in her old life before all of this ever happened. My brain likes to hold onto fucked up imagery and it had a ball with that whole scene.

I dunno if the ending of the book is as infamous as I feel it should be but if it’s not then I guess the world has more patience than me. It basically ends when the narrator talks about being seized by the secret police known as the Eyes. But someone who has been helping her tells her it’s actually a secret resistance group that are getting her out of there before the real Eyes can get her. The last sentence we get from the narrator is her saying that she steps into the van.

Aaaaand that’s it.

At first I was like, “WHAT?!” And after like ten minutes of angry ranting realized that that technically wasn’t the end of the book. (Have I mentioned how dense I can be sometimes?) There is like this whole other tiny section at the end called “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale” that is technically the real end of the book. So I calmed down and I read it.

I hated it.

I honestly prefer the ambiguous ending that basically leaves you with nothing than I did this bit of crap that came at the end.

It’s like this “transcription” of a college lecture some two hundred odd years into the future and the students are studying the country that was known as Gilead (but apparently doesn’t exist anymore). The book we just read is apparently a transcription of tapes that people found in “what was once called” Maine which at least tells us that our narrator was indeed at least attempted to be smuggled out of the country instead of being tortured to death.

But of course they do go out of your way to tell you that because the tapes were found in Maine they actually don’t know if she got out or got caught and killed at the last second. So you know, this is still a Choose Your Own Adventure ending where you get to decide if you want her to have made it out of not.

They discuss the period and the men some more, talk more about how it got to that point, how certain decisions were made, blah blah blah. They also imply that the narrator was what we would call an Unreliable Narrator and probably lied about stuff or flat out didn’t know half of what she was talking about.

So what’s a good word for this? This little extra ending that, while it shows that Gilead didn’t last forever and did in fact eventually collapse, dumps all over the story that you just finished reading and (if you were me) were actually enjoying? I think that word is lame. It is an incredibly lame ending and it all but hobbles the original story like Cathy Bates in Misery.

So I would say that this book is still worth checking out but I dunno, man. That ending is a great example of, “be careful what you wish for.” I was mad that what I thought was the ending didn’t tell me enough only to discover the actual ending and be monumentally disappointed. Harrumph.