December 5, 2014

Murderous Meat

July 28th, 2044

 

It didn’t all start at once and by the time I was aware of it and my mom let me watch 24-hour news instead of my usual lessons, the world was already in crisis. This is what happened.

A few years ago, there was this 60-something year old lady in Texas named Esther Hughes who started waking up with really bad headaches. She took lots of medication and saw many doctors and they performed many tests but they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. They gave her prescriptions for strong opioids she had to inject herself, which didn’t help, and frustrated and in pain, she closed all her curtains and shut the world out.

Eventually, the holidays rolled around and Esther’s kids became concerned for their mother when she told them she not only wouldn’t be hosting the traditional five day feast but that she wouldn’t be seeing them over the holidays at all. She said the pain was too unbearable.

Troubled by the turn of events and the tone in their mother’s voice, Esther’s children, thinking they were doing a very good thing, decided to bring their families and the holiday feast to Esther.

Fortunately for Esther, it was her youngest daughter who arrived first. She told reporters later that it was the blacked out windows on her childhood home that told her something was really wrong. She lightly knocked on the front door and called to her mother, but there was no answer. She said she knocked for another few minutes with no answer before she went to the spot the spare key to the back door had been hidden her whole life. It was there and she made her way around the back of the house and unlocked the door to the sun room. She said the whole house was dark, but having grown up in it, she knew it like the back of her hand so she quickly searched the first floor for her mother with no results. She went upstairs, straight to her mother’s room, where she saw a lump in the bed. She called for her mother and turned on the light and according to their first interview with Oprah 2.0, Esther pulled the blankets over her head and screamed for her daughter to turn the light off, which her daughter, who was scared, immediately did.

In the dark, Esther’s daughter felt around for the bed and sat down on the edge of it. Holding her mother’s hand, she asked, “what’s wrong mama?” and Esther began to weep. Esther then held her daughter’s hand and brought it up to her face, allowing her daughter to first feel her mother’s lips, then her mother’s nose, then her soggy eyes which Esther fluttered so her daughter could feel her eyelashes and then she raised her daughter’s fingers to the middle of her forehead where…her daughter pulled her hand back and gasped. She said she felt the spot again with both hands this time and she was certain about what she was feeling in the dark: right in the middle of Esther’s forehead, where nothing should have been, there was a closed eye. And it had been crying too.

After recounting to her daughter how the process had happened and that bright light can often trigger headaches, Esther allowed her daughter to bring her downstairs, into the living room, where Esther said it was okay to turn on certain lamps, which she had dimmed by putting scarves over their shades.

Eventually the rest of Esther’s family arrived at Esther’s house and they all heard her tale, while not quite knowing what to do next. Esther didn’t want to see any more doctors or anyone for that matter, or rather she didn’t want anyone to see her.

Finally her family persuaded Esther to let a priest come to the house, who told her that this third eye was a gift from God and that there had long been stories and theories in many religions of a third eye giving the person the gift of prophecy. He told her that she should let as many people see her as possible, that she could help people in need make tough decisions, that this was her gift to share.

Pretty soon Esther became a worldwide media sensation, appearing on all the talk shows and news shows with her daughter, wearing sunglasses over her original eyes and a headscarf over her third eye to prevent headaches. People were calling on her to bless them and to try to heal their wounds or to tell them their futures.

At the same time people began pilgrimages to Esther’s home from all over the world, other people with new mutations that all happened in a short amount of time were starting to crop up in the media, which started a frenzy on the 24-hour news channels – so I’m told – about why this was happening. Some experts claimed it was because of pollution. Some claimed it was because of a surplus of vitamins. Some claimed it was because this government or that was testing or using weapons of mass destruction. Some claimed it was a virus or a bacteria. Some went so far as to say that these mutations were the next step in human evolution. No one was co-operating with anyone else and in the end, they would all be wrong as a result.

But as the media goes, after the initial hysteria died down and governments reassured their people that they were doing everything possible to determine the cause of this new “disease”, you didn’t hear about mutations as often. Soon people stopped worrying and went on with their lives, for the most part, with the most paranoid among them wearing medical masks in elevators and cities setting up sanitizing stations in malls, subways and large office parks.

And then Cookie Kaye happened. Cookie Kaye, of New Zealand, was the host of her own popular live internet cooking show, “What’s Cookin’ Cookie?” where she would prepare dishes from her global fans’ childhoods; such staples as macaroni and cheese with prosciutto on top, butter chicken, jerk pork or meatloaf with gravy.

One particular day, Cookie, dressed in a white, sleeveless blouse with yellow flowers, began by explaining that it was her 100th show and in that honour, she thought she’d surprise her fans with a dish from her own childhood: pan-fried lamb chops with rosemary and garlic. Cookie chatted about growing up in New Zealand and how lamb was a very common meat there, as she combined minced garlic with fresh, chopped rosemary and a little crushed red pepper to give it a bit of pizzaz! Since the next step in the recipe was to rub the mixture onto the chops and refrigerate for 4 hours, she pulled out two already prepared and chilled chops from the fridge and started heating olive oil in a large skillet. As the oil reached the proper temperature, Cookie discussed with her virtual audience the many other ways one can enjoy lamb and how you can obtain lamb in places where it may not be readily available. Once the oil was properly heated, Cookie explained that all you had to do next was to fry each lamb chop for 3 minutes on each side to attain medium-rareness and as she said this, she picked up a piece of the maroon, herbed meat in each hand and laid them into the skillet.

Immediately the lamb chops began to sizzle in the oil and before poor Cookie could say anything else, they were both flailing violently in the pan, writhing as if in pain like slugs that have had salt poured on them, splashing hot meat juices and oil across Cookie’s hands and bare arms. She gasped as she drew back and in the next breath she was pointing at the pan and yelling at her camera man, angrily asking if this was a sick joke. At that same moment, one of the chops launched itself out of the pan and over her right shoulder. In the clip I saw, Cookie screams as the second piece of lamb propelled itself similarly to its mate, only this time it flew straight at Cookie, hitting her in the face before Cookie throws it to the floor. Cookie screams “can you fucking help me here please, Steve?!” and now the camera man, still carrying the camera, rushes around the corner of the cooking island and drops the camera as he goes to aid Cookie who is shrieking and crying that she has hot oil and blood and pepper in her eyes. In front of the camera, now on the floor, is the second lamb chop, still sizzling and twitching in a most disturbing fashion as steam rises from it and in the background, you can clearly see Cookie’s high-heeled shoes and those of the camera man’s and then you hear the running and splashing of water as Cookie flushes her eyes at the sink. The camera man is heard talking on the phone with emergency services and the next thing you see in the clip is Cookie’s shoes turn around to face the still slightly squirming meat, which she then violently and without ceremony stomps into a million pieces, kicking the camera in the process, ending the clip.

As soon as this clip went viral throughout the world, stories of other incidents of butchered lamb parts behaving strangely when heated started slowly coming out in the papers. Those I was allowed to read. Then beef and pork seemed affected in quickly soon after, until finally there was a grotesque incident involving a turducken, captured on video and uploaded to YouTube.

In that clip, you see a green oven and through the window in the door, there is a black roasting pan that jumps around every couple of seconds, sometimes hard enough to knock the pan’s lid askew. You can hear two or more people in the clip quietly freaking out completely and swearing and a caption appears on the video saying that they were attempting to cook a turducken for Thanksgiving and that this was happening approximately an hour and 15 minutes into cooking it. Then one of the people, a man, gets brave and you see him open the oven door with one hand and then with an oven-mittened hand he pulls out the rack that the roasting pan is on and then backs up and out of the way while the roasting pan bounces around some more, seemingly agitated by the movement caused by pulling out the rack. The people in the background all go “OOOOH!” as the same man quickly reaches for the lid of the roasting pan and pulls it off, jumping back once again. Steam rises and the person recording the video gets closer and higher to better see what was inside the pan. What should have looked like a normal turkey on the outside looked more like a squirming mass of white flesh and bone, pulsating and spasming while the duck and chicken inside it presumably did the same. A girl in the background screams, “FUCKING GROSS!!! SOMEONE KILL IT!!!” to which someone replies “HOW?!” and the next thing you know, the oven-mittened man shoves the turducken back in the oven, without the lid, and slams the door shut. “That’s how,” he says and from there the video is a time-lapse view of the turducken from the window in the oven and you can see it squirming violently until finally it simply from within the oven there is a loud thump and an explosion of flesh against the glass. The video slows back down to normal and the oven-mittened man carefully opens the oven and backs up so the videographer can get a better look at the carnage inside the oven: bits of white flesh and skin and bones covered every surface of the oven and inside the roasting pan, where the chicken’s back and parts of the duck were still “raw” but cooking, it was twitching and flexing and reacting as if in pain just as the lamb chop had when Cookie Kaye tried to fry it. Someone suggested putting the remnants of the turducken back in the oven to “kill” the rest of it and the video stops there and starts again with a view of the inside of the oven with the rack and roasting pan pulled out slightly. All of the meat looks cooked, most of it overcooked and some of it burnt. Then the camera turns to the face of the oven-mittened man who mugs for the camera and says, “And that’s how it’s done, boys!” The video ends.

After that video also went viral, the governments of the world finally started working together.  When the World Health Organization issued a statement telling people to cut down on their consumption of un-processed meat until more was known about what was going on,  all that did was cause pandemonium and most people stopped eating meat completely, sticking to vegetables and fruits and processed foods. Most stores stopped selling it because they couldn’t guarantee that each piece or package of their meat wouldn’t react violently when the customer attempted to cook it.

My grandma Lisa said she saw this all coming. She said that a long time ago, when they were just starting the programs to replace heirloom livestock with cloned livestock that didn’t get sick as often, grew faster, tasted better and as an added benefit, the meat made people look more youthful, there were campaigns by people like her who thought that this was the wrong way to go. That this would muck up the food chain. And they protested. There needed to be more testing. But the governments of the world saw a quick way to “end” world hunger between these cloned animals and fruits and vegetables that had been genetically modified to not only grow just about anywhere, but to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides, and didn’t listen.

Now the 24-hour news channels were reporting that it was this strange meat that was causing the mutations.  I felt relieved because I don’t eat meat and neither does anyone in my family. Soon scientists figured out that it was the genetically modified corn that the world feeds to its livestock in some capacity or another, which was causing changes to the cloned animals’ DNA and when people ate the animals, it changed their DNA as well, causing mutations, cancers and death. The crisis, of course, was that the only “heritage” animals left on the Earth were wild game and immediately breeding programs for elk, deer and moose were established.

By this point, my mom said it was okay to watch the 24-hour news channels as much as I wanted to instead of my usual lessons because this was an important world event that would have lasting repercussions well into my grandchildren’s generation, so watch I did. I watched in horror with tears streaming down my face as animals were lead into big pits in the ground with a layer of charcoal at the bottom, doused in something flammable and lit on fire. Alive. To die. Screaming and writhing in pain. Because cooking or burning the meat was the only way to kill it, they thought in the beginning, so that’s how governments started disposing of the world’s meat supply. This upset a great many people, particularly Hindus who objected to the mass slaughter of cows that for all intents and purposes could live out their lives in peace but most people were so angry at the meat itself for being bad because by now just about everyone on Earth had been negatively affected by the meat in some way, that they blamed the animals and wanted to see them suffer. The United Nations eventually concluded, at the persuasion of several kinder countries, that the animals should all be poisoned or euthanized and then their bodies disposed of by cremation and most countries followed suit, while the poorer nations opted to slitting throats before the burn. Even on our little farm in Michigan where we weren’t burning anything, you could smell the rest of the world’s char.

On one morning show I watched, there was a scientist, Dr. Ryan Brownstein, discussing these worms called planarians that had an almost infinite ability to regenerate themselves into whole organisms, making them “effectively immortal”. He said that you could cut a planarian into 279 pieces and each piece would grow into a new planarian. This was significant, he told the toothy, blonde host, because when scientists were perfecting the livestock to clone, planarian DNA was most definitely part of the final sequence, which was what had been giving meat the property of giving the consumer a more youthful appearance and sometimes a slightly longer lifespan. The planarian DNA in the meat allowed for humans to regenerate their lost cells faster, allowing for new, glowing skin for all meat eaters just about all the time. He said that the problem now, however, was that this planarian DNA had run amok and now you can cut a cow into an unknown amount of pieces and after a short period of dormancy which is slowed down by refrigeration, each piece would grow into a whole new cow. That’s why these animals had to be destroyed, because if they were left to their own devices, we would be overrun with them. Not to mention what may happen to animals who ate parts of these animals – we couldn’t even grind up these genetically modified livestock into dog food – it could seriously damage the ecosystem.

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” cried grandma Lisa.

People really are so dumb though. Even the Amish got hoodwinked into replacing their heirloom livestock with cloned animals from the Sandy Mount company who just so happened to also sell the corn to feed them, which was cheaper and easier than the Amish growing their own corn to feed their own animals as they’d been doing forever.  Worse though, is that so many people signed on to ranch these animals due to government subsidies that no one thought to even try to preserve heirloom species. There was no Noah’s Ark, the so-called “frozen zoo” had a malfunction and everything thawed in 2019. The cow as my grandma knew it is extinct. As is the pig and the chicken and anything else you’d find on a farm 30 years ago. The cloning system was working so well and the whole world was fed so they thought “this must be a good thing”. With a lack of labelling of genetically modified produce, people just got used to that too and stopped protesting. Even vegans eventually got on board because it meant they could have any type of fresh fruit or vegetable any time they wanted no matter where they were in the world or what season it was.

And of course, there was the Svalbard disaster of 2032. Unknown armed terrorists wearing balaclavas and no distinguishing clothing, just all in black, descended on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault by small stolen planes on June 22nd and they killed the small staff that was in the building but left all of the security cameras undisturbed because they wanted someone to see what they were about to do.

The security cameras, the feeds of which were also stored at an offsite location, showed the terrorists, 18 in all, placing homemade ANFO bombs all throughout the seed rooms. I’m not even sure how many there were total, but enough that when they blew, it destroyed the entire stock of the seed bank, devastating the world’s original food supply. The terrorists were shot down trying to fly back to Norway but when officials got to the wreckage, they found that all 8 people were dead, apparently of cyanide poisoning: they had all killed themselves. This was a kamikaze mission.

The terrorists were eventually identified as being from all over the world but connected via the internet and while it was never proven – no motive ever was – many people I know thought the terrorists were hired goons for someone higher up because as soon as the news hit that Svalbard had been decimated, the stocks for Sandy Mount and companies like it shot up like squirrels with their tails on fire. Everything was investigated forward and backward but there was never any proven link between the terrorists and any of those companies or those companies’ shareholders. My gran said it was “some next level illuminati shit” because whoever did it doomed the whole world – except us – to be dependent on genetically modified produce, that these companies owned the patents for, for time immemorial.

Once people realized that the genetically modified – or GMO for short – corn had made the cloned animals act like planarians, they started questioning the genetically modified tomatoes and lettuce in their salads. The corn on the cob they had at their barbeques. The beans and textured vegetable protein in their vegan chili. If the meat had changed their DNA, would the genetically modified produce make them behave like planarians too? If someone lost a finger, would it grow into a whole new clone of that person?

Governments around the world obviously reassured their people that the produce was safe and that it had been tested for a long time with no ill effects, meanwhile behind closed doors presidents and prime ministers were ordering their top scientists to drop everything and make damn sure that what they were saying was true.

It was around this time that mom and gran started getting antsy and the guns were brought up from the cellar. Our farm is already protected by 12 foot fences topped by razor wire, disguised by rows of sunflowers but I had never seen the guns come out before and it frightened me. Being 14 years old, my mom said I was old enough to learn how to shoot so mom and grandma Lisa took me out to the behind the greenhouse and had me shoot old paint cans. They said I was a natural and that made me proud, but I was still scared because I didn’t understand why I might have to use the shotgun I held in my hands. They took me back into the house and sat me down at the kitchen table where gran gave me a dish of applesauce with raisins.

Our farm, they said, is veganic. This I already knew, it has been veganic for generations. We didn’t even fertilize with manure, we exclusively used compost. “All of the plants and seeds on our property are heirloom and right now that is a very valuable thing”, gran said with a hard edge to her normally soft as kittens voice.

Suddenly everything came into focus. All the rest of the world had was genetically modified seeds that may be making them sick and we were sitting on a farm with produce that had never been tampered with and we had an abundance of seeds because we harvested our own. The reason my mom and gran were certain that we wouldn’t start mutating was because we were raw vegans living on an organic heirloom farm. We ate very little that we didn’t grow ourselves.

My gran used to be famous, sort of. A long time ago she wrote a blog and book about eating a raw diet which we still follow, called “Raw on $10 a Day (or less!)”, which became a national bestseller at the time, as different diets were all the rage and people were eager to try anything that would give them the kind of glow my gran naturally had then, as she still has now. Because of this, she said, it was feasible that certain people may come looking for her now because in her book she suggested that people be wary of genetically modified organisms and that they should grow their own since the government refused to label them. Some people would naturally assume that she was doing this now.

She said that since we had a surplus of seeds, we could send some of them to someone but who would that someone be? And would the farm, our food, be safe from looters, our own neighbours, in the meantime?

These questions would have to remain unanswered for now. For now the gate to our driveway is chained shut and padlocked and my mom has been on the internet non-stop, trying to find the right person to offer our seeds to, someone who wouldn’t take advantage of us and leave us without food for ourselves. We’ve never trusted the government but it looked like on some level we were going to have to. While mom did that, gran was on the phone with family members who all also had farms like ours in Michigan and between all of us, gran said, we could show the government just what “Militiagan” meant.

As they did that, I immersed myself in 24-hour news for days.

In India they refused to kill the cows but made a preserve for them, agreeing to the United Nations’ stipulations that they keep the sexes separate so they would not mate and die out naturally and that if the bovine population began expanding rather than declining, then a complete liquidation would be necessary.

There were a lot of talking heads saying that the changes in people’s DNA were permanent and that we could be seeing birth defects for generations from this. Already babies were being born with deformities akin to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, like having two faces or babies that looked like their features were trying to slide off their faces altogether. Fortunately for these babies, most of them did not survive outside of the womb for longer than a few weeks. Because of these babies, women were getting abortions and tubal ligations in record numbers.

Doctors all over the world had a hard time keeping up with the effects of the meat between birth abnormalities, abortions, cancers and adolescent or adult mutations. Doctors and scientists found that no matter the mutation, if they operated on it, the same mutation would just grow back. The cancers were completely untreatable tumours inside people in various places from brains to bowels and the cancer was in every cell in between; it was in their DNA. Removing any of these tumours was fruitless because they would just grow back and by then the cancer would have already spread to somewhere really bad, like the kidneys or the liver or the brain, if it hadn’t been there previously anyway.

A new symptom started afflicting people where they would get a crazed look on their face, make a high pitched squeal, bite their own tongues off and eat them. Patient zero appeared to have been a woman in Japan on a crowded train and many cases have now been reported on every continent. The patients afflicted by this new behaviour then collapse into a catatonic state and stay that way indefinitely, unaware of anything happening around them, unable to feel pain or cold, unable to eat or evacuate waste on their own. The cause of this new, “cat got your tongue” syndrome is unknown but it is presumed to be related to what the media is now calling “murderous meat”.

Esther Hughes, seer, committed suicide.

With so much going on, every person on Earth basically started diets of rice and beans. Because no one knew what was safe to eat, people stuck to produce in cans, thinking they were better somehow, and all vegetables had to be nukrowaved for at least 5 minutes before consumption, because people were thinking that would “kill off” whatever DNA was active in the vegetable that could potentially harm them.

The vitamin and supplement industry was booming as people struggled to keep from being malnourished. People trusted synthetic nourishment in pills over fresh oranges and bananas and bread, a phenomenon turning a thousand science fiction books and movies into prophecies.

Some governments had to put in place bans on the exportation of meat because poaching had become a problem as people hunted the wildest of game to try and feed their families, such as cheetahs, zebras, seals and puffins. The breeding programs for deer had been successful so far but on nowhere near the scale they needed to feed any kind of large population. The elk and moose were less successful at breeding on their own so scientists resorted to the outdated practice of in vitro fertilization and things seemed hopeful.

I thought it was pointless though. People wanted no part of meat at all or even soy products that were made to resemble meat. People were sick and scared. The future of the human race was in question and we still didn’t know what was going to happen to us or our farm.

Then one morning at dawn there was the honk of a vehicle at our front gate. We looked out the window and there was a procession of shiny black cars parked on the side of the dirt road we lived on. My gran told us to stay in the house and to stay armed and she went out the side door to the truck. We have a very long driveway and my gran, while incredibly healthy and vibrant, is still elderly, so she drove the truck – unarmed – to the front gate to greet the people on the other side.

My mother and I watched with teeth on edge at the front windows. My mother was texting someone, I asked who, she said “everyone, this is happening” and I grew more afraid.

Much to our great surprise, gran unchained the gate and one of the men in suits pushed it aside. Gran got back in the truck and backed her way back up the driveway, parking at the side of the house as the truck had been before. As she did this, those 6 shiny black cars followed her up the driveway, with the last one closing and chaining the gate behind them all.

My mother told me to stay in the house and with shotgun in hand, she went through the kitchen and out the side door my gran had gone out previously to greet gran and these unidentified people. I ran behind her to watch what was about to happen through the window in the kitchen door. My mother said loudly, “mother, what the hell?” and as she said that men came out of the black cars, guns also in hand, screaming for my mother to “drop it” and get on the ground.

“There’s no need for that,” my grandmother said. “Honey put the gun down, it’s okay.” And my mother warily obeyed, placing the gun on the stair in front of her and putting her hands in the air. She slowly lowered them as a small figure emerged from one of the black cars. A thin woman with dark hair cut in a chin-length bob, wearing large sunglasses and a Pratt skirt, blouse and blazer stepped out of the car and into the sunlight. Behind her, a large man wearing the kind of suit every man wears only wearing it slightly better than the average man stepped out of the vehicle and held her hand as she picked her way through the mud toward gran, my mother and me.

She didn’t need to introduce herself but she did anyway and shook my grandmother’s hand. She was none other than the President of the United States, Belinda-Anne Briggs and her companion was the First Gentleman Charles Johnson.

Gran invited them into the house and lead them up the steps of the porch, where my mother had retrieved and put away the shotgun before scurrying into the house ahead of them. I didn’t know what to do so I went into the living room and slouched in the doorway between that room and the kitchen to watch what was about to unfold.

Gran, the President and the First Gentleman sat down at the kitchen table and my mother leaned against the kitchen counter. My grandma told my mother to get everyone some apple cider, which she explained we grow the apples, press them and bottle the cider ourselves so it was guaranteed to be GMO-free. Our guests gladly accepted and my mother served everyone a large glass. She offered me one but I just shook my head no, wanting to be as invisible as possible in the shadow of someone so huge.

President Briggs began by telling my grandmother how much she enjoyed reading her book and how she thought it was a shame that it was out of print and that that is something that should be remedies as soon as possible because a raw, vegan diet of fresh food is exactly what the American people, or even the world, needed right now. The second thing she wanted to discuss was our farm. She wanted to know everything about it, about how we keep our orchard pest-free, about what we grow in the greenhouse and how we harvest seeds. It was the letter she seemed the most interested in.

My grandmother flat out told her that we had a surplus of GMO-free heirloom seeds and that we had been trying to figure out what we could do with them to best help the world, if anything and the President cried real tears of joy, holding my grandmother’s hands across the table with both of hers and squeezing affectionately.

Something North America still had that a lot of the world did not was open spaces for planting fields, especially since the cattle and poultry industries were no more, said the President. She wanted to start by a few select organic farmers like ourselves planting “victory gardens”, a concept from the last century, harvesting enough food for ourselves and our neighbours and collecting enough seeds to plant for the next year, as well as to share with the government who would distribute the seeds to applying farmers. All of these activities would be heavily monitored by the military to ensure that the organic food supply remained GMO-free and to protect the gardens and fields from theft. The infrastructure was easy enough to implement, explained President Briggs, it was the seed stock that was the problem. Even farmers who had been planting perfectly normal organic corn in the earlier 2000s sometimes had genetically modified corn blow into their fields and when Sandy Mount found that these farmers were inadvertently selling their patented product, they sued the farmer into bankruptcy. The President said that she was in the process of creating a set of laws for the companies that produce genetically modified organisms that would eventually phase them out, make them illegal in this country and have them pay for the long-term implementation of the victory gardens. Apparently Canada was on board as well and due to our long-standing alliance with them, we would be co-operating with people on both sides of the border through the internet and mail system.

Gran said that even sending one person three tomato seeds to plant on a windowsill with instructions on how to eat most of the fruit and save a lot of the seeds at the same time, to be shared with someone else could make a difference. With time and the right selection process, community gardens and rooftop buildings with all tenants taking care of their own food supplies would be possible.

“YES!” exclaimed the President. “Exactly! This is exactly what I envision as well!”

“This,” grandma Lisa said stiffly, “is what I was trying to say in 2014.”

“And we should have listened,” President Briggs quietly admitted, meaning every word as she patted my grandmother’s hands.

After that, gran took the President, the First Gentleman and some of their staff down the muddy path to see the orchard, greenhouse and Southeast field while my mother got to work preparing gran’s famous cucumber dressing which we paired with a summer salad topped with edible pansies; it was gran’s showcase meal, if she ever had one. As she did that, I started peeling the apples for gran’s “Awesome Rawsome Applesauce” for dessert enjoying the sunshine streaming through the partially open kitchen window, a breeze slightly flicking the lace curtains. I smiled. Today was a new day.

Posted at 3:13 pm in: Animals , Environment , Food , Health , Politics , Things I Will Not Eat , winter , Writing
December 4, 2014

No and I don’t know.

Yesterday was Touched By Fire.

I finished work at noon and had between then and 3:30pm to roll enough joints for the night, figure out where to eat, co-ordinate all this with my mom and get myself ready, which not only often involves multiple wardrobe changes, but more importantly, well-timed pharmaceuticals, and I was freaking at twelve-oh-one because I didn’t know where to start. I started by rolling joints and listening to bad hip hop because medication of all kinds is the most important thing to not leave the house with and I’ve been known to take a VERY long time to do this, even with a rolling machine, so yeah, started there. As I got to about my 2nd (of a planned 5) joint, Blake got home with lunch from Fresh-A-Fare, which I had really really wanted when I asked him to bring it home half an hour prior, but since I hadn’t had a ton of time to actually medicate between then and when he got home, my stomach just wasn’t ready for it so we ended up leaving it in the fridge for Wes for dinner if he wanted it, which he would because it was a ham and cheese sandwich and turkey with wild rice soup and he eats like me, so he’d be all about it.

As Blake ate and I rolled, we watched Once Upon a Story in Wonderland because it’s free on this trial Netflix type deal we have right now, and when the episode was over, Blake went to the bathroom to start getting read and I so, so stupidly checked e-mail and Facebook. And that is how I learned that my friend, Jeff Depew, the drummer from Scratching Post, had passed away. As some of you know, I was sort of the band’s first unofficial mascot/panty girl/merch bitch who did a lot of touring with them and became very good friends with everyone involved. I was/am shocked and saddened by the news of Jeff’s passing and however it happened, it is my hope that it was peaceful. I found out at around 2:30pm and had to be out the door at 3:30pm. At first I almost didn’t go. Just didn’t feel like partying or having a good time or being social. Then I almost went in overalls, which in hindsight I probably should have, it’s what I’d originally wanted to wear, but I settled on the same thing I wore on our attempt to see Book of Mormon, which had been thwarted by a blizzard so the outfit had never been seen before.

It took me half an hour to do my makeup because makeup won’t stick to tears, no matter how much primer you try to use. I’m a very simple lipstick-top-lid-eyeliner-one colour of shadow-mascara kinda gal. Makeup usually takes 10 mins, tops.

Anyway, traffic was hellacious and it was becoming apparent that we’d be late, so I texted my mom who said they were running late too, which I figured because that’s how my mother rolls. We get to the parking lot and it’s 100 km away from the restaurant we were meeting at and it’s blowing snow and I’m in a skirt. That walk made me so unhappy, especially since at the time my mother kept texting me from the restaurant about stuff as I’m trying not to get hit by cars or drop my phone or get it wet. Finally I literally told her to “stfu lol” and eventually we got to the restaurant.

We went to this St. Louis Grill place that I don’t think I’d ever bother with again unless I had to. Typical chain, with tiny across-from-Skydome Toronto portions and prices. I did eat a piece of macaroni and cheese wrapped in bacon and deep-fried that was pretty wonderful but I forgot to bring enzymes with me and really really should not be eating something like that anyway.

After eating, we went to the show. I went there. I saw that my painting was in the very back corner in the dark where it belonged. I looked at everyone else’s stuff, some good, some not so good but overall WAY better selections than previous years, then I parked my ass at the bar where I could see people looking at my painting (but turned my back to it because I couldn’t look) and see when they did the speeches. Speeches were uneventful except that this year there were prizes and our old friend from town here, Brian, won an honourable mention in his category and his girlfriend won best of show for her category.

After the speeches and awards and stuff, the place cleared out pretty fast. It wasn’t like previous years at all. See, something happened. I don’t know what but last fall there was some drama surrounding the show and suddenly touchedbyfire.CA was NOT the place to go, but touchedbyfire.CO and there was a mad scramble to get sponsors and find a space. It seemed like too much drama for me so I didn’t enter. This year it was run with the same group as last year and I noticed a lot of familiar artist faces missing, which seemed odd to me. I mean, this show has its regulars and I didn’t see two of its most prominent ones represented there last night. The bust for Rebecca Burkhardt, the person in whose remembrance this event takes place, was also missing, or at least I didn’t see it anywhere. Her dad was there though.

Before we left the show, Blake and John went around the room to see if anything had sold and only 2 things had, one being the most inexpensive piece in the show.

While the quality of work this year was definitely better, the experience wasn’t. There was no printed catalogue, which is really the only reason I go, just printed postcards with instructions for people to use their phones to take pictures of the QR codes beneath them or whatever they’re called, to pull up basically this page. That makes sense for the paintings being up in the gallery for a month but the show should have had a printed catalogue, especially since if I sell my piece, I’m giving them 20% and I want certain things, like show catalogues, for them to deserve that 20%. There were also no name tags for artists which was a mixed blessing. Every other year I turn mine around as not to be identified but this year I was trying to get up the courage to actually speak to people, to sell that damn thing, and them approaching me first would have been better.

The show’s been running 8 years, my first time was the 2nd year and I think I’ve been in it a total of 5 times. Last night marked only the 2nd time I’d submitted anything that was actually for sale and I really really need to sell this piece or make money from it somehow, in order to complete my next project before I get frustrated by money and logistics that I give up.

Anyway, here’s my painting and what I wore and how far away I was away from my painting at all times. THE END.

PS. I also invited my brother and his girlfriend to dinner and the show but he never even replied. I have no idea why, I haven’t done anything to him and we haven’t had a fight, so wtf? This hurts me a lot more than it should and was on my mind all night.

PPS. If you want to buy my painting, help me make BETTER art and see my awesome artist statement, click here.

November 24, 2014

I never went to your school, I learned in a monkey tree…

Everything has been super crazy lately and today is my only day “off” between now and next Sunday, with some of those days working multiple times per day to cover people for US Thanksgiving-related stuffs. I had yesterday off technically but I slept all day because my body just needed it, I woke up, ate dinner, watched a show and basically went back to bed for the night. This is partially a byproduct of depression and winter, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as the doctors/Health Canada say. I was supposed to see Shrinklet (the “almost-shrink” who works with my new shrink, who’s technically a doctor but not a full shrink) last Wednesday to get a lightbox to try to alleviate some of the aforementioned symptoms, but she cancelled on me, so I see her this Wednesday instead.

I’m training 2 new people at work now, my last 2 having graduated out of training with me with flying colours. Now we’ve hired 2 MORE and I’m trying to get them into my morning training sessions with the other 3 I train every morning. With all these new employees, I’m pretty excited about our work’s Secret Santa because some of it will be blind guessing and some of it will be pure stalkage. :o) I also signed up for Secret Satan with the Scratching Post kids this year, which I’ve never done before. We met up with them earlier this month for lunch/brunch, as we tend to do a couple of times a year in Toronto, and as always, it was good to hang out. I’d never signed up for Secret Satan before because I’d never had enough money to do it properly and I suck at making things on a deadline. Last year’s work Secret Santa cured me of this when I made the perfect thing for the person I got and they loved it. This year I know my work Secret Santa really well and my Scratching Post Secret Satan barely at all because the last time we spoke, she was probably 16 and now she’s an adult.

The whole near death experience thing taught me a lot of things, but most importantly who my friends are. That and getting older is teaching me that putting energy into friendships is a good use of one’s time on this earth. Further to that, I have a LOT of “stuff”, so if I have to spend my money on something, I’d rather it be on an experience than another “thing”.

Last Sunday we went to the Danforth Music Hall to see Mother Mother and they were fantastic as always, but we were in the balcony and they use a lot of light effects in their show and I was literally switching between my regular glasses and sunglasses for their whole set. Then on Tuesday we were supposed to go see Book of Mormon but there was a blizzard and it took us 2 hours just to get to the movie theatre in the city closest to us where we watched Interstellar and waited out the storm instead. Super bummed about that. Then tomorrow we’re going to see Amanda Palmer, which should be interesting. It’s a “book tour with music” so I’m not really sure what that means. Her book is called “The Gift of Asking” and it’s all about artists finding funding for their projects or something. I dunno, I still say it sounds a little pyramid-y/Tony Robbins-esque but we’ll see. We had a spare ticket so we’re going with a new friend, named Liz. She’s a writer and here site is here.

The week before last, our hot water heater died and getting a new one into our tiny, shitty house was an expensive 10 day ordeal. 10 days without HOT water, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to live in a place with NO water.

I got into Touched By Fire, the remedial art show for people with mood disorders. It’s December 3rd in Toronto if anyone wanted to go, and you can get tickets here. I guess all of the artwork is going to be up in the gallery for the full month of December though, so you don’t have to go to the show itself to see what I made. I honestly didn’t think I was going to get in. I submitted the maximum allowed size and honestly, my piece isn’t perfect. I submitted it anyway figuring, why the hell not? It’s a self portrait and I’m hardly perfect either. Touched By Fire takes 20% commission so I made the price $1250, figuring I need at least $1k to get my next project(s) off  the ground and the intention with those is Touched By Fire next year and maybe…other things? I dunno, it’s totally an “if you build it, they will come” situation.

The latest rage in chez Crittenden is Magic. Liiiiiike, the uber nerdy card game that I was told the other day was invented by a mathematician, which I fully believe. Madison started it, or rather, her friends have been playing for a long time and Madison got interested, particularly when she found out that the comic shop down the street from us has Magic Night on Fridays and they stay open until like, 3am, so people can hang out and play. And people do, I mean, it’s a small town/community and there isn’t a whole lot to do here ANY night of the week. So Madison learned how to play and I asked her if she’d mind if I played too, because this is something she does with her friends and I didn’t want to intrude on a “kid thing”. She said she’d think about it and then I sort of forgot I asked until she told me this week that she thought playing with me would be fun and good for me, if we/I started going to Magic Night.

On Wednesday Madison and I went to the comic shop so I could start building my deck. We discussed things ahead of time and decided I wanted to build a blue and white deck for a bunch of different reasons, so I bought the starter pack thingy (the $17 as opposed to the – I think – $35 one) in the appropriate colours and then a ton of booster packs. I don’t think I was super lucky with my booster packs. I got a red foil guy that Madison said she’d trade for me for something I can use (I did the same with the foil that came in the starter pack because it required 3 types of mana and that’s too complicated right now) and I got 2 or 3 cards that I couldn’t use, that the store bought back from me for store credit, which Madison used yesterday I think, to get me better creatures. I have a lot of spells, counterspells and enchantments but a distinct lack of guys who do actual damage. I know one is a Planeswalker of some sort and that that’s a good thing and that I should actually have 4 of them in my deck. The learning curve is steep and I’ve still only played twice with Madison who obviously beat me both times, and I still haven’t gone through and read every single card, which is my plan when I’m finished writing this.  I’m also shockingly bad at math and that played a factor in deciding to play. When I was like, 13 maybe, my step-dad decided he wanted to learn how to spell things better so he bought a Scrabble game and we played LOTS of it and he improved, so I figure I can only improve my math skills by playing this. And of course, it’s something I can do with Madison (and Wes when he gets his start from Madison for Xmas), whom I hardly see anymore, that potentially gets me out of the house and interacting with real, live people. It’d be super cool if I end up being any good at this game and we can play teams, which I’m told is a thing. It’s also entirely possible that I’ll get frustrated with it and give Madison and Wes all my cards. We’ll see.

And finally, last Monday, Hoover Dog had a lump removed from his neck and THANKFULLY it turned out to just be a benign cyst. He’s recovering from surgery just fine, but he does ask for more ear scritch scratches because they gave him a haircut to do the surgery and I think it feels extra good without all that fur.

Okay time to make a “white sandwich” (turkey, mayo, havarti cheese and lettuce on toasted grainy bread) and read these Magic cards. Wish me luck and if you have any online Magic resources you actually use/trust, lay ‘em on me! (If my site allows comments this time…which it may not, I think, because Blake keeps forgetting to upgrade WordPress.)

Peace oot!

PS. This song is so stupid but is so totally my current favourite stupid song.

November 6, 2014

Yeah, I’d rather be a hippy than a hipster, what!?

Well, I *was* gonna show you a picture of this cool, old, US army truck that’s parked like a sculpture near my house but my gallery program doesn’t seem to want me to upload anything to it for some reason so I guess I’ll have to get Blake to take a look at that later to see why it’s not doing what I need it to do. Whatever, imgur for the time being. Behold, this awesome truck that I love so much I actually pulled over and trespassed on this person’s lawn/field to show you, which, for someone undergoing immersion therapy, is sort of a big deal.

I submitted a painting or, probably more aptly, a mixed media assemblage to Touched By Fire but I don’t think I got in because they originally said we should be notified by November 3rd if we did and I haven’t heard anything. That was before they extended the deadline until October 31st though so who knows? The piece I made was the biggest size they allowed so I knew my chances of getting in were pretty slim, especially when submitting so late in the game. Doesn’t matter though because I like what I made (but think I could have done better, of course) and it lead to two BIGGER ideas that I’m completely in love with and in the process of trying to make happen. The first part is waiting at least 3 weeks for samples because this shit is srs bsns, and within that 3 weeks, coming up with a solid budget which has been a lot harder to pin down than I originally thought it’d be. I’ve never spent this much money on an art project before though so I’m trying to be as accurate and frugal as possible but I’m dealing with wholesale minimum orders that I’ll only be able to meet ONCE so if I’m short on what I need, I’m screwed and I am THE WORST at math. I’ve asked many people to help me with the math and of the 15 or so answers I’ve gotten, including on Reddit, they’ve all been different. Vastly in some instances. I figure Reddit’s answer is probably the best jumping off point because if the ONLY DUDE THAT ANSWERED ME was wrong, he would have been downvoted or some other dude would have come in with a bigger dick to tell him he was wrong. Anyway, it’s been challenging but I’m pretty obsessed with making it happen one way or another, it’s just the “one way or another” I’m still figuring out.

I met my new shrinks on Monday. Yeah, shrinkS. Plural. I’m so lucky, I get two. The main one, we’ll call her Murphy Brown, immediately wanted to switch me from side-effect-free ziprasidone/Zeldox – my main anti-psychotic, the foundation of my mental health pyramid – with Abilify for no reason whatsoever that I can see except maybe she wants me to gain 30 lbs, which is just the tip of the iceberg with that drug. Fuck that and fuck her. It took me MANY YEARS of trial and error and metabolic syndrome, that outweighed any mental benefit of any drug, to find the right meds and right now I’m maintaining so fuck the fuck right off. I don’t have a nickname for the other shrink yet and she’s a doctor but not a full doctor and still in training or something? She looks about my age. I told them that S.A.D. has started kicking in, meaning that “we may need to go up by half a pill on my cipralex” at some point like my prior doctor said we may have to do and it’s not like this shit doesn’t happen EVERY SINGLE YEAR LIKE CLOCKWORK OR ANYTHING. I asked to borrow a lightbox, I’m going to use it – again, please fuck off with your bulldozer parked so close to my crystal castle.

So that’s how that went. I see the shrink-in-training in 3 weeks. I have no idea why or what I said to necessitate that. Hooray. Thrilled, I am, to have the privilege of answering 50 more random, nosey, irrelevant questions. Oh, that’s another thing, Murphy Brown suggested I stop drinking Diet Coke because it’s “SO MUCH CAFFEINE” and she said if I didn’t believe her I could look it up. Well. I did. When I got home. According to the fucking Mayo Clinic, a cup of coffee has 95-200mg of caffeine and a can of Diet Coke has 23-47mg which means that I consume on average the same amount of caffeine in a day as one cup of coffee, so again, I tell you, Murphy Brown please go fuck yourself.

I’ll stop now. Needless to say, the first visit was not a positive one despite the fact that I went in there with nothing but positivity because life’s going pretty good and good things are happening.

Like I said a while back, I’ve been working a lot. I now work 7-9 hours/day as opposed to 3. I’m still training people. Working all these new hours has enabled me to do something I’ve never done before: paid off my Visa. Then as soon as the final payment cleared, I immediately maxed it out by buying myself and Blake plane tickets to go to San Francisco for my birthday. Why San Francisco? Because Steph the Geek is there in her 20 Mission hippie commune. Because Sapphire is there. Because my friends Kat, Sarah, Quelyn and Erica are there. Blake’s sisters and nieces (whom he’s never even met) are close by in Tahoe. And it’s a medical state. With weird food we can’t get here. And it’s my birthday. So that’s why.

The plan is pretty simple: we’re gonna rent a place in the Mission District using airbnb with (ideally) 2 desks or work surfaces and a kitchen, that has a backyard or courtyard and we’re going to order crazy fruit and organic meat from this website Steph uses and basically just hang out with whoever and each other. Blake’s going to work on his book and I’m sure I’ll find a way to entertain myself.  We’re also going to rent a car and go to Tahoe. Not sure if that’s going to be an overnight thing or not at this point though. On the actual day of my birth we’re trying to have some sort of get-together with everyone…somewhere, because we’ll be leaving for home the next day. I don’t care about Alcatraz or the bridge. I would like to see some painted ladies. I wouldn’t mind seeing the other ocean. omg will there be tidepools? I’ve never seen a real starfish. I dunno, I just figured by the end of February I’ll probably be wanting to slit my wrists so somewhere sunny and warm (to me) with some of my closest friends seemed like a good idea since I suddenly realized it was a viable goal. And I realize I’m now in debt again, but it won’t take too long to pay off and I was pretty proud of myself for essentially saving up all of the money to do this. Or at least take the first step and order the plane tickets.

I have to figure out how to carry-on both my laptop and my camera because everything I’ve ever read/heard has said not to pack them in your luggage. Hrm. I dunno about this traveling stuff.

This week the new Anne Rice book came out AND the new Mother Mother album did too, so honestly, it’s been a pretty good week. Cried a little this morning, convinced that it was going to be a bad day, but it wasn’t. I also got the Lena Dunham book to read for myself, with context, what happened with her sister rather than rely on sentence fragments and the one excerpt the media’s been primarily focusing on to come up with my own opinion. My friend Tay also mentioned that Lena Dunham’s also said some racist things in the media about why there are so few minorities on Girls, which I guess I missed. I follow her on Twitter but like, as much as I follow any celebrity, which means I only read like, maybe 1/10 of her tweets. Anyway, I was interested in her book before all this but when I went to get the Anne Rice book, the Dunham book was only $20 and there was one copy left, so I was like, “fuck it” and added it to my pile, which also included Gone Girl, High Times and a magazine called Canadian Art that looked interesting.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANYWAY, it’s time to take my PM meds, find food, watch American Horror Story and go to bed. Peace oot, y’all.

September 26, 2014

NOW TAKING INTERESTING COMMISSIONS.

I have had a blank WordPress page open since like, the 18th, with this title. And I haven’t posted anything with this title or written the post that was to go along with this title because I’m not sure commissions are ever a good idea. For me, anyway. Either other people’s ideas don’t inspire me or the deadline aspect gives me diarrhea or (often) I’m not in love with the finished product because I see every imperfection and then I feel guilty taking people’s money. When I’m painting normally, I just paint what’s in my head and if there are imperfections, they’re part of the piece and it’s sold “as is”. Done, chuck it on Etsy. Next! But with a commission, I feel the client is expecting perfection and if they’re not they SHOULD BE because I would, so that’s what I feel I need to deliver no matter how unrealistic that may be.

Right now, though, I ain’t makin’ nothin’ and I only have these vague threads of ideas wafting through my head like the ghostly echoes of the whispers of creativity. The last painting I did was this one, last November. And right now all I do is work. Even when I’m not working, I’m actually still really working and I need to do less of that. A couple of weekends ago, I made an oldschool fan sign for a camgirl I like and I pretty much did it because I had 48 virgin Sharpies, a whole bunch of Bristol board and just wanted to do something – anything – creative while Blake and I finished watching Defiance. Cuz that’s what I do. I make stuff. I watch TV and I make stuff. It is what I’ve always done and probably what I will always do.

I have a ton of creative “shoulds” that are lingering about, things I either started or bought the stuff for. I mean, my god, there has to be at least one million ideas within the 6 x 7.5 foot cubicle I inhabit 17.5 hours out of every day, you would think it would be as simple as picking one and following through, but it’s not and it’s not because all of those ideas to me are old ideas. Stale ideas. No one’s ever seen or heard or been told about them or know they exist, but they’re so complete in my head and the process by which to execute them is so…I don’t want to say “easy” because I don’t want to imply that what I do is easy – it’s not. But definitely unchallenging and I’m probably not going to be surprised by the end result. More than anything I just wanna make shit and the only way I can justify putting in the time or money is if someone else wants it. If there’s a reason for making it.

I’m good at “cut & paste”. When I was in kindergarten or grade 1, there were “stations” in my classroom and one of these stations was “cut & paste” and it was THE BEST station because that was where you could always make the best stuff. I’ve always had a mild interest in various clay mediums and thought the dough station was 2nd best, but as a grown-up I don’t know the science behind making clays do what I want them to do permanently and they’re expensive so I’ve always just stuck to paint, paper, glitter & glue. And like I said, I have these almost tangible wispy ideas as I type this and mentally catalogue all of the “stuff” I have to make other stuff out of, but nothing solid takes shape. And right now I even have money that I could buy all kinds of NEW stuff to make stuff out of but I think that’s a complete waste unless the idea’s really good.

And as if by some cosmic joke, I literally just got the call for entries to Touched By Fire, the art show THEY say you have to be crazy to enter because it’s for artists with mood disorders, but I call it the remedial art show pretty much just because it’s like the Special Olympics of art and I’ve ridden that shortbus all the way to Crazytown a few times so I can make fun of it if I want to. This year it’s being held at the Steamwhistle gallery (which is in a brewery, I think) and the theme is “unspoken” and as I write this, about to make fun of it mercilessly, an idea appears….hmmmm….HMMMMMMMMM I SAY. And the more I think about it, the better it issssssssssssssssss…..oh look at that, 250 empty vegan gel caps and a box of o.b. tampons ordered off the internet. The deadline is in 28 days soooooooo I guess it’s problem solved and game on!

PS. Before I kill myself designing them, would anyone be interested in Xmas ornaments of my girls from Zazzle?  Here are the shapes. I figure I’d price them between $25-$20, depending on which type everyone preferred, if any. Lemme know!

September 17, 2014

I was not a cool kid. I was a ghost.

I work a lot. That’s what I’ve been doing. My grama died in July, my shrink retired in August and just as life was normalizing, I asked for extra hours at work now that I have a car (which I got)  but we also hired 3 new people which means working overtime to train them. On top of that, a couple of Sundays ago, when I was in Militiagan for a wedding (more on that later), my boss messaged me on AIM and asked if she could have a word with me, freaking me out completely  at first because I thought I fucked something up and I hadn’t worked since that Friday morning so for it to have cropped up now, I figured it must be something pretty bad that she’d spent time talking to other people about. I wasn’t far off the mark about her talking to other people, but it wasn’t anything bad. She told me that there was one aspect of our job (our job is not just e-mail, it’s many things) that she thought I did a really good job at and she wanted me to sort of be like, the expert/final decision-maker/manager of this one thing. So that was really cool and I felt really good about myself (although part of me is terrified that she only thinks I suck the least at this thing because I also probably do it the least and now that I’m doing it MORE my fuck up rate is going to go up too). She told me that this would take effect immediately and it would mean that my workload would increase but that was okay because she gave me 9 extra hours per week that she wanted dedicated to this task. BUT I’m training and I can’t train people unless another senior person is working with me (or it’s really difficult to) because while training, it takes at least 10 times longer to get the work done than if I was doing it by myself so even with help, I fall behind on my regular tasks and I don’t have time during my regular shift to do my new task the way I think it’s supposed to be done so that means staying an hour-hour & a half past the time I’m done training, which was overtime to begin with. (Why, yes I *am* proud of that run-on sentence…) In a span of about 6 weeks, I went from working 3 hours a day to 7 minimum, which may not seem like a lot to people who work the standard 40 hours a week but for me that’s a lot.

Having said all that, honestly? Mostly I’m having FUN. I’m being CHALLENGED. I imagine this is what it feels like when people who like working out work out. All 3 new hires are personal friends of mine and I thought it was already pretty sweet working with the group I do because we’re all friends outside of work as well. I mean, I’m getting paid to hang out with my friends on Skype all morning in my pajamas and tell them about the job I love WHICH I NEVER GET TO DO WITH ANYONE BUT BLAKE and he only understands like, 75% of what I bother telling him. (Better than the 5% of his job that I understand, however.) Due to the nature of what we do, who we do it for and who we do it with, we’re just supposed to talk about our jobs as little as possible outside of the company which suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks because our jobs are ridiculously interesting (to me), so it’s awesome to finally be able to be like “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! PORNO PORNO PORNO!!! XXX!!!” while listening to 80s & 90s rap at 9am. (That is the soundtrack of Sunny’s Porn School.)

My work day still starts at 5am though and doesn’t usually “end” (*cough*at all*cough*) now until, well, 2:30pm for me today. And to compensate for having to be “on” and a fully functional cyborg that early, for that long, I’ve been trying to go to sleep around 7:30 or 8pm so right now it feels like all I do is work, talk about work, talk to work friends, hang out at the site I work for and go to sleep tired as fuck, but I guess I’ve done more than that. Not much more, though.

Like I said earlier, we went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago in Militiagan for Blake’s cousin Helena and fiance Bill, which isn’t his real name. His real name is something super Albanian and unpronounceable so I guess they just call him Bill. They’ve known each other since they were 14 and now they’re 30, so that’s sort of cool. The ceremony was crazy religious and almost entirely sung. There was incense involved, which the priest did at Blake’s grama’s funeral too and I thought was cool and I tried to get video of it but the priest is actually like, this HUGE conservative guy who frowns upon anything newer than last century and there were a couple of signs saying “no cell phones” but Blake’s Aunt Pat was inconspicuously taking pics beside me with hers so I got a short clip of the dude on Instagram but not what I wanted. Oh well, so not the point….anyway, during the ceremony they blessed this and that and the President (no shit) three times, in English AND Albanian, all while singing a call and return with the priest and some lady and his incense shaker had bells on it and made clanging sounds and the whole thing seemed to me like he was trying to get God’s attention for a sec and get him to bless the marriage. There was some heavy old school bare foot and pregnant shit in the vows, but what I noticed in the ceremony is that the priest STARTED with, “do you take this man to be your…?” etc and they did their “I do’s” FIRST so everything after that they technically didn’t agree to in any legally binding way (not that a wedding is “legally” binding, but y’know, if this was a deal with the Devil they could get out of it on a technicality by traditional mythological standards).

I’m not going to post what I wore because I think I looked like crap. I also think me and Blake’s step-monster were the only blondes at the whole event.

At the reception, we got sat at the “cousin table” (and not with Blake’s dad and his bitchfaced wife, who got stuck sitting beside the priest all night heh) and I got to meet all of Blake’s Albanian cousins who have all grown up and have since left Albania for greater things, I guess. Blake’s cousin Shirley is a dentist living with a dude named Stiig who’s an engineer for Rolls Royce in Norway. Blake’s cousin Nonda and his wife Eva live in NY and have two little kids. They met in Albania and came over a while ago. Blake’s cousin Livvy is like, an international free spirit party girl type who lives somewhere in Europe too but I forget where. I wanna say Prague? Not sure.

What kills me about Blake’s Albanian family is like HOW into family they are. It’s so weird to me because my family isn’t like that at all. It’s hard to explain, but like, Blake just met these people for the first time since he went to Albania when I think he was 18 and they were weirdly close considering I’d never heard of these people before that day and I’m pretty sure this was only Blake’s second time meeting them in person. I’m pretty sure you could ask a favour from practically anyone in the room and they would oblige just because you were related and vice versa. There was a lot of hugging and picture taking like, with people who barely knew each other but they were related so HEY LET’S TAKE A PICTURE! NOW LET’S TAKE THE EXACT SAME PICTURE WITH 5 MORE CAMERAS FROM 5 MORE STRANGERS! It was weeeeeeeeeeeeeeird, man. Weird. It was the biggest display of pronoia in action I think I’ve ever seen. Just a whole lotta people conspiring toward good things for a whole lotta other people simply because they’re related somehow.

My family is more…strategic, political, hostile, a little phony and now, extremely small. Almost non-existent. And I don’t foresee that changing any time soon. God, honestly I’m not even sure I have the energy to have it any other way, so whatever. I haven’t talked to my brother since my grama’s funeral because I don’t know what to say to him. I’ve exchanged 2 e-mails with my mom, pretty much the same thing.

At the end of the wedding, there was a coney bar set up because when Blake’s grampa came to America, he opened a coney dog restaurant called George’s Famous Coney Island and this restaurant was the foundation for just about everything in that ballroom. I thought that was pretty neat even though we left before it got set up.

Other than that, the only thing I have to report is that I broke down and bought Sims 4 even though I had initially decided not to get it because I’d heard nothing but bad things about what WASN’T going to be included, but I was bored and I’m a sucker so I downloaded it and while I’ve only had a chance to play it three times, I think I like it. It’s VERY bare bones, a lot like OG Sims, and I kinda like that because the complexity of Sims 3 got so ridiculous with all the expansions that I lost interest in it a long time ago. The emotions system combines with the Sims’ needs, so for example, if my Sim is angry or tense (emotion) AND has to go to the bathroom (need), the interaction “take an angry poop” appears. “Wants” contribute to emotions. Anyway, I’m having fun with it so far and I have high hopes for future expansions.

Annnnnd I’m tired and have to go to bed soooooo peace oot. *yawn*

August 27, 2014

Radical or Pro-Parental

When I was little, I  remember constantly telling my mother in screaming fits that I hated her and she would hold me down and hug me and tell me she loved me anyway. This is what comes to mind when things like #WomenAgainstFeminism or female MRAs permeate my well-maintained bubble of white light, as seems to be the case increasingly these days. This “wave” of anti-feminism is hitting the internet like a tsunami and it’s leaving a lot of feminists on the opposite shore empty and at low tide. Feeling defeated. Feeling like, what’s the fucking point if we, as women in general – feminists and anti’s alike – are just going to fight among ourselves rather than work together for common goals that benefit the whole?  I can’t really speak for anyone but myself and a few friends, but I honest to god had no idea that SO MANY women would be anti-feminist. Because that’s like being anti yourself and that’s just fucking crazy. But no, they’re out there and there’s a whole lotta vum. And rather than react, I’ve been listening – or trying to, as much as I listen to anything – because whether they like it or not, what’s important to them is important to me because as much as they kick and scream and say they hate me, I listen and send them love, as lame as that sounds, because more than anything I want to understand. Anti-feminists and female MRAs are interesting to me in the way a serial killer might be interesting to someone into true crime shit. (Yeah, I did just compared them to serial killers, but I didn’t mean they were actually *like* the serial killers in what they do or anything.) Female anti-feminists are interesting to me because I’m interested in why and how people have come to the conclusions they have or believe the things they do about a topic I’m interested in, when they are (often) the complete opposite of my own beliefs, ESPECIALLY when I feel those beliefs are against the person’s own best interest. It’s like when poor people vote Conservative, I see these political arguments and memes on social media and think, “you realize this guy’s gonna fuck you right?” but they do it anyway because reasons or whatnot. Or worse, when people tell me they actively DON’T vote. Just like, never tell me that. Please. It hurts my heart. Even just tell me you’re too lazy to vote, that’s a completely acceptable answer. Feel free to not vote, do whatever the fuck you want, but my friends know better than to tell me about it because it makes me insane(r).

I actually have a friend who, I’m not sure if she identifies as an actual MRA or if she’s just more on top of men’s issues than anyone else I know, but she’s flat out told me she’s not a feminist. She was the first  woman I’d ever met (or have a relationship with) who didn’t identify as a feminist on some level and when she said it, pretty early on our relationship, it sorta knocked my socks off because she’s, to me, this badass, Amazonian woman with a huge mohawk and piercings, in combat boots; who goes to shows by herself, gives no fucks and listens to Ani DiFranco, whom I recently heard described as being the most misandrous musician ever. (I don’t know any of her music, but Blake likes her so that’s probably accurate.) My friend is also a camgirl and I just kind of assumed all camgirls were feminists by nature of what we do and how we all support one another. This friend especially because I know she’s super pro-sex workers and until that moment, I assumed that was a feminist thing!  But that issue doesn’t “belong” to any one group other than sex workers themselves, so that was pretty dumb of me to think. I also completely understand my friend not wanting a label and that’s why I’m not giving her one now – as being an MRA or being anti-feminist – because she’s never claimed that label and she’s never said she’s actively anti-anything and she has said specifically that she doesn’t want to identify with any groups. That was 3 years ago though, and now there’s been this wave of anti-feminists speaking up, so it’s possible she’s changed and has claimed a label. And that’s okay. Mostly we don’t talk about that stuff, though, because we respect the fact that we each see things differently (although I maintain we have more in common than different). She puts up with my “feminist crap” though (my term, not hers) and that’s all I can ask for in a friend. Tolerance. We come from hugely different places, I think, while still believing a lot of the same things and liking the same things and that’s why we’re friends, but on this one thing, I probably drive her bonkers because I’m cool with the feminist label. I wear it proudly. Blake’s cool with the label. Madison’s cool with the label. Wes wears a pink “feminist” 1″ button on his backpack after we asked him if he thought he and Madison should have the same rights and he said, “duh”. We’re all a pretty feminist family and I post feminist crap all over my social media and while I would not call myself a “hardcore” feminist, it sounds like my friend has met some women who have identified as “hardcore” feminists, who I probably wouldn’t agree with completely either by the way they were described.

Anyway.

It’s awesome having friends with different points of view than you and we should love anti-feminists as hard as we know how, even if they don’t appreciate us, because they are proof of feminism’s success. Feminism has been so successful that a lotta women don’t even feel they need it anymore. Yay us! There’s still so much to be done, but don’t you see that as successful? As progress on some demented level? Because I do. At first it made me sad but after digging around and reading what these women have to say, this is what I think.

I dunno, those thoughts just popped into my head. Work meeting in 40 mins.

August 6, 2014

Whose house?

I’m sort of frustrated with my front yard ditchweed garden. I feel like a planted SO MUCH SHIT and nothing I actually planted ON PURPOSE decided to grow as they have in previous years! I have a few theories on this. The first is that poppies are finicky little pricks. The second is that there’s too much grass in the garden now for certain things to grow, so they just didn’t get enough sun right from the beginning and grew retarded as taller things stunted them further. The third is that I need to give up on planting any type of cosmos that aren’t your standard pink and white ones because they just do not grow in my yard. I thought if I planted LOOOOOOTS of fancy ones in favour of regular ones, some would HAVE to grow, but nope. As with previous years, they did not and neither did the few regular ones I planted either due to problem #2.

Having said all of that, nature’s done a pretty okay job at giving me a base to work with for next year and next year I think I’ll be going back to American Meadows for my seeds because everything this year came from Vesey’s and they don’t have the quantities I need or the variety. American Meadows has better descriptions/information and has a lot of seeds that some people might call weeds, but bees, birds and butterflies call “food”. The bees like the Bachelor’s Buttons usually, but mine only grew to be about 4 inches high and maybe only about 30 flowers total out of a billion and a half seeds:

Nature, however, had another plan for the bees and somehow St. John’s Wort (as identified by awesome tumblr people) has made its way into the garden in little yellow patches. It’s done flowering now so I don’t have any current pics, but here’s one I took a few weeks ago. It was impossible to take a pic of it WITHOUT a bee!

Stunted cosmos.
These are normal ones, not fancy ones because only normal ones will (well, used to) grow.

So much Queen Anne’s Lace!
I need to find something NOT YELLOW that can co-exist with these because they grow tall, fast!

My best guess is that these are Black-Eyed/Brown-Eyed Susans but I honestly have no fucking clue.

These and the Queen Anne’s Lace were the end result of the wildflower mixes that were originally planted when we removed the sod.

Removing the sod that’s grown back (well, next spring) is out of the question because that’ll also remove what grew this year, as well as any flowers that may be the type to flower one year but not the next or whatever. Getting rid of a lawn is serious business, man. I don’t see how we could have done it any other way (with a sod cutter, 8 years ago) so now, like I said above, the name of the game is to find seeds that will co-exist with all this yellow, white and grass that can also be food for fauna. I’ve got a year to plan, so I don’t need to figure it out now, but after seeing what’s been the strongest to survive blind weedings and mowings, it should give me a good idea of what to look out for. Also I think I might ask my favourite seed-nerd, Ana, for a little help.

When I went into the garden this morning to take these pictures, the first thing I was greeted with, though, was SUCCESS. I purposely plant milkweed in my garden for the monarchs to lay their eggs on and sometimes at the end of the summer, if we’re lucky, we’ll find a couple of caterpillars ready to pupate and I have a special terrarium that I use to watch them turn into butterflies. It never gets old. It amazes me every single time. Well, this guy/girl was the very first thing I saw when I went outside today:

She’s big and probably ready to pupate but I like to wait for the caterpillars in the later summer/early fall because I know for sure when those ones are about to pupate because the milkweed starts dying. And when the milkweed starts dying, the caterpillars are like, “welp, buffet’s over, better get to work” and then they begin to pupate. With the caterpillar above, she’s big enough that I could put her in the terrarium with a few milkweed leaves and she’d pupate shortly after they got too wilted to eat because a lack of food can trigger the process if they’re close to it to begin with.

I am by no means a caterpillar expert, this is just what I’ve learned from experience (and I’ve never had a caterpillar or butterfly die before).

What I *didn’t* know, is what this guy is:

I think it’s a milkweed tussock moth.
I found two of them on the older milkweed stalks and that article says monarchs prefer younger plants, which is good to know because I’ve just let the old ones grow back. This fall I’ll rip out the old ones, which I have to do anyway because they’re in the way of my second heliopsis, which is this:

And that’s about all I have to say about my garden.

Honestly, that’s all I really have to say I guess. I had other stuff but Wes and I have started playing Warcraft together again and it’s about time for us to do some quests. Saw Guardians of the Galaxy and Maleficent on Sunday night at the drive-in. Both were awesome. I am now leveling a resto druid on a PvP server named “Iamgroot”. I’m hoping people will think I’m cute and not kill me…

Posted at 1:25 pm in: Gardening , keep off the lawn , Kids , KOTL , Life , Summer , Video Games , Wes , World of Warcraft

Ball & Chain

Posted at 11:14 am in: Blake , facebook , Family , Internet , Life , Misc. , social networking , Summer
July 22, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

Hi.

So yesterday was my last appointment with my shrink and it was pretty weird because there was no emotion, for either of us, and I didn’t really have anything to talk to her about because nothing’s really happening. My meds are the same (well, she actually weaned me off the gabapentin, which is awesome) I told her my grama died but I didn’t get into the funeral craziness because that’s a can of worms she knows very little about, so I might as well save that for the new shrink. Not that there’s much to really talk about at this stage of the game anyway or that there will be anything in the future. She wrote me a 6 month prescription for all of my meds and said someone would call me eventually to set up an appointment with my new shrink, who we don’t know as of yet.

The biggest thing that’s bugging me right now, and I told her this, is that I haven’t really been driving and I haven’t really been driving for a lot of reasons. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we live in a touristy area with all our beaches so there’s a lot of traffic now that the kids are out of school and the beaches are busy and that’s where I was primarily going. Also Madison has her learner’s permit now and just completed the class portion of Young Drivers (driving school) and I’m scared if we go anywhere she’s going to either tell me I’m a shitty driver or pick up my shitty driving habits that I don’t even know that I have (I took Young Drivers too), but I’m sure I do. I worry constantly that I’m a shitty driver and having someone say it, even someone with like, 2 days driving experience, would freak me right out. Getting Wes to come with me anywhere, even when it benefits him, is like pulling teeth. So far I’ve talked him into getting Chinese food with me and then to Nicholyn Farms, which is my new favourite place.

Nicholyn Farms is basically a grocery store for a farm but in the back they have a little sandwich and ice cream shop so the one day Wes and I went there and got sandwiches and I got him and Madison organic strawberry milk (blech). The rest of the store is full of fridges and freezers full of organic, free range, no antibiotics/hormones meats and meat products; all kinds of vegan and vegetarian stuff made locally; shelves of all kinds of craft spreads and sauces, most of which are veggie or vegan and of course organic produce. The place is magical because there are lots of things there that don’t gross me out. For example, ground beef really gives me the willies and the reason it does – and you can argue that this is completely irrational, maybe it is – is because when you buy ground beef at the grocery store or you get a hamburger at McDonald’s (or anywhere), you’re probably eating the DNA of like, 100 cows. And I don’t think that’s healthy – and this is my own theory, but I think it may contribute to cancer. I don’t think human beings are supposed to eat like that. If they were, cows would be much smaller and easier to catch, kill and cook, if we were still catching and killing our own food, which, again arguably, is how we “should” be eating, if you believe we should be eating meat at all. At Nicholyn Farms, when you buy ground beef, it’s probably from one cow. That is a natural and healthy way to eat. That’s normal. That’s how people have been eating since the dawn of time. That said, I’m still a little “iffy” on the amount of individual DNA in their chicken burgers, but I still figure no matter what, it’ll be less than anything from a grocery store or restaurant.

Anyway, what started us going there was I had a really shitty experience at The Keg, which is a steakhouse chain. A pretty expensive one that we never go to because it’s expensive. What I get there, every single time, is their filet – medium –  which comes with garlic mashed potatoes and is around $40. So the last time we were there was during the period of time where I was having difficulty eating and losing weight like crazy because I was so sick all the time and I put that in past tense because *knock on wood* the marijuana gods have been good to me lately, and the only thing one day that I could think of to eat was steak and it had been like, 3 days since I’d eaten anything so at that point, money was no object, I just needed to get food in me. I order the filet, again, medium. When it comes, I cut into it and it’s pretty rare, which grosses me out and since my stomach was fragile to begin with, it turned me right off food again and I just couldn’t eat. I tried to eat like, the edges, but the rest was just raw and gross. Blake finishes his meal and we ask for a bill. The waitress takes our plates and asks why I didn’t eat my steak. So I said I just didn’t like it and wanted to get the fuck out of there. Well then the manager comes over and he says, “I saw your steak on the way back to the kitchen and it didn’t look very good so I’m going to take $20 off your bill.” So that was nice of them but it still bummed me out because The Keg is now no longer an option and you can’t get that kind/cut of steak at the grocery store here. I didn’t know where people bought good raw steaks, but it wasn’t any of the major grocery stores, that was for sure.

Then one day we were driving past Nicholyn Farms and the sign out front said they had elk for sale so I asked Blake to turn around because elk is awesome. I’d only had it once and was curious to see how much it would be to buy an elk roast (about $50, which is a pretty good deal if you ask me, but not in our budget at the moment).

Well, we go in and start looking at the stuff in the freezers and I open the one with the steaks and they have the same steak I could pay $40 for at The Keg for like $16. They’re vacuum sealed and frozen, like Omaha Steaks, which were the best steaks I’d ever had up until now. Stoked, I get 2 of them (one was bacon-wrapped, I didn’t like that one), and Blake made it for me the next day on the BBQ and it was literally the best steak I’d ever eaten in my whole life. Like, it was almost shocking what beef is SUPPOSED to taste like vs. what grocery store steak DOES taste like. And I don’t like any foofy spices or anything on my steak either, which all restaurants do, so it was a bonus in that regard as well. Ever since, Blake and I have been buying each other steak dinners, courtesy of Nicholyn Farms and it’s been awesome, especially when you pair the steak with potatoes dug out of their own fields.

They also have homemade pierogi and pre-made meals that I love. They have single-serve sizes of a few things but I only like their shepherd’s pie and macaroni and cheese which are $5-6. All mass-produced shepherd’s pie is gross to me (see ground beef) and making it is a total pain in the ass. It’s one of my go-to foods though and up until we found Nicholyn Farms, I’d been paying $14 + tax for it from Flynn’s, it wasn’t that great and it was cold by the time we got it home. We went to Nicholyn’s yesterday and I got one of their pre-made chicken alfredos, so we’ll see how that is. And finally, they have like, honest to god organic , hand-made frozen TV dinners in segregated plastic containers that remind me of my great grama because when I was little, she used to make me TV dinners in pie plates and tin foil that she’d freeze after making a roast or whatnot. This was pre-microwaves. I haven’t tried the chicken one yet, but the beef dinner has three large slices of roast beef with no fat on them with gravy, at least a full cup of carrots and enough mashed potatoes that I’d safely wager that there’s at least a whole potato in each one. A Swanson TV dinner from the grocery store, not on sale, is about $4-5 and everything in it is questionable. They use flaked potatoes. With the Nicholyn Farms ones, they’re $7 but it’s all stuff that’s good for you and when I had the beef one last week, I couldn’t finish it because there was just too much food.

Ah, the benefits of living in farm country. It makes the occasional stench of manure-sprayed fields worth it.

Anyway, all of this is good because it’s stuff I can eat (yay!) and stuff I can make myself (bonus!).

Other than that, not a whole lot has been happening. I’ve been making things that I don’t want to discuss yet for a project that I can’t discuss yet and I’ve been watching a lot of really shitty Netflix movies while I do it.

And that’s all the poop that’s fit to scoop.

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