Saturday, November 30, 2013

Little Women

During Christmas break in 1994, my mother took my sister, a friend of hers, and me to the movies. I, being 9-years-old and stupid, wanted to see Richie Rich. My sister, being 15-years-old and in her "deep teenager" phase (or, possibly, her "Winona Rider is the best!" phase), wanted to see Little Women. Our poor mother, realizing that it wouldn't look good if she sent the 9-year-old into one theater and went into another theater with the teenagers, went with me to see Richie Rich.

She slept through it, as she had done through The Flintstones Movie, The Santa Clause, and numerous other kid movies before.

And once the movie was over, my mother did something I never expected her to do: she took me across the hall and we went and watched the last forty minutes of Little Women. WITHOUT PAYING. Then again, I made my mother sit through Richie Rich. So, maybe she felt she might as well get something redeemable for the money she spent on her ticket- nap or no nap.

I wasn't completely unfamiliar with Little Women. When we had first heard of the movie coming out, I was interested in reading the book. And, after getting a few chapters in, I realized that it was going to take the rest of third grade to finish the book and decided to instead read several smaller books during that time and turned my copy of Little Women into a flower pressing book (because I was that kind of child).

But then I saw the end of the movie and immediately insisted to my mother that we come back before winter break was over and see the movie from the beginning. I had no idea how the story got to that point from starting with four teenage girls selflessly choosing to buy their mother Christmas gifts with the money meant for themselves (about all I could remember from the book), but I wanted to find out.

Also: I kept asking which guy was Laurie and which guy was Teddy. It's confusing to only see the end of that movie.

So, we went and saw the movie from the beginning a few days later. My mother, a fan of the book and the June Allyson film, did not sleep through this one. While I was very surprised to find a very different movie in the first 70 minutes of the film.

But I loved it.

I think we might've seen it again in the theater a few weeks later. By the time it was released on VHS (the next winter, I think), I had seen the June Allyson version of the film and read the rest of the book over my summer vacation. I loved the story, but along the same lines as how I loved the Little House on the Prairie books- a romanticized peek at a way of life from another time. And I think that might be how most people view the book.

In recent weeks, I switched out my usual Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery audiobooks from my sleep schedule for Little Women. Some odd urge to revisit the story mixed with the realization that it's a pretty darn long book.

And, in doing so (not to mention actually listening to it when not intending to sleep), I started to realize that there was a lot more going on with Little Women. I had known, vaguely, about Louisa May Alcott's connections to the transcendentalism movement (which is name-checked in the 1994 film, despite how I think it's never full-on named in the book), and some of the most memorable parts of the book- like the beginning where the girls decide to buy gifts for their mother rather than for themselves- I didn't realize that so many of the later parts of the book are basically transcendentalist lessons. And while the movement is mentioned in the 1994 movie, it's not focused on nearly as much as the feminist and human rights issues are addressed.

One of the sections of the book that always stuck with me but that I didn't really understand as a kid was the part where their mother lets the girls "do an experiment" where they don't keep up with their chores during a vacation. Alcott describes the girls as embracing the experiment but also feeling that something is not quite enjoyable about the lack of responsibility. They don't completely hate the experiment until their mother goes away for a day and also gives Hannah the day off, making it so no one is cleaning up anyone's mess or even lighting fires for anyone.

As a child, I thought that section read similarly to the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories, where naughty children are slyly taught to lose bad habits. A mother playing with her children.

But, really, it's Alcott attempting something more there. And I'm kind of surprised that the book isn't considered more controversial for being somewhat subversive- as what the movies portray is a much more straight-forward story: a once prominent now poor family of strong women struggling to take care of each other during the end of the Civil War era. But the book is much more blatant about the March women having the mindset of "Okay, so we're poor- how can we challenge ourselves to take this as an opportunity to prove that we can still help others even with as little as we have?"

Really though, I probably am just late to the party any everyone else has already realized this about Alcott. Now that they're thinking about making another film version (it has been almost 20 years since the Winona Ryder version!), I do wonder if it's going to come into play.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Back To Who: Companions, Assemble!

Although it was somewhat embarrassing to watch the BBC Three After Party special that aired after The Day of the Doctor, as all the former companions were addressed by their character names rather than their real names, it was nice to see a lot of them.

I mean, look! It's Wilf and Ace right next to each other!

Also, hot damn, Sophie Aldred is still looking good.

I promise I'll talk about something else once this week is over.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Back To Who: Aww, They're Adorable. Shut Up.

At this point, I'm rolling my eyes at myself- but I was ridiculously happy to see the shots in the Behind the Scenes special of the 50th Anniversary where Billie and David are just chillin' on set. On top of a giant crate. I'm assuming because Billie was stuck up there for her mark and couldn't get down easily, and David popped up on the crate beside her without an issue because it looked fun.

I don't really care about the whole Rose/Doctor thing, but those two are adorable and I'm a fan of adorable friendships.

My Choice For A Thanksgiving Movie: Addams Family Values

Okay, it actually takes place during the summer, but the camp musical is, for a brief moment, an amazing tribute to Thanksgiving.

And by "amazing", I mean "hilariously awful on purpose and then chaos breaks loose".

Also: I just plain love this movie.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back To Who: The Plot I Keep Waiting For...

It wasn't the first time I wanted it, but it was the time I wanted it the most: when The End of Time first aired, I desperately wanted the woman the Doctor kept seeing to be revealed to somehow be Susan.

But it was nothing so continuity-filled, of course.

Part of me just doesn't understand why they haven't gone there yet in the rebooted series. In eight years, no one has bothered to even hint at what happened to Susan and it leaves me kind of miffed at times. Wouldn't it've been great to have Susan show up in the 50th anniversary? With all the references to the first episode? With all the talk of killing children?

I'd really like if, in the official canon, they would finally address the fate of Susan. Did she stay in the 22nd century with David? Did she ever regenerate? Was she involved in the Time War? Of all the companions, I've always assumed that she would be one of the easiest to bring back. Carol Ann Ford is no stranger to coming back to the show for anniversaries and, as she is a Time Lord, it wouldn't be out of the question if another actress portrayed her during her return.

I hope it comes up during the coming Capaldi era. Especially given the hints from the 50th Anniversary about future possibilities. Doubly so as in the BBC Three After Party special, the montage about the companions paired Susan with Rose and Sarah Jane. I don't think that was done lightly.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wanted! Visual Representation of the Words "Invisible", "Robot", and "Girl".

Calling All Artists!

I'm in the market for an artist to design a logo cartoon character for an upcoming re-design of this website. I had commissioned an artist earlier this year, but life circumstances got in the way of the project and she had to step away and understands that this call is going out.

The final logo will, at the very least, be on a banner at the top of the blog and will include the signature of the artist that created it. There will also be a permanent sidebar banner mentioning you as the artist of the logo and a link to where the rest of your work can be found (if you want to be found). The logo will also be used on other products relating to this website (business cards, possibly merch in the future) and the artist can/will be consulted on all future uses if desired.

The artist will also be compensated fairly for their work.

If you would like to be considered for this role, please email with the following information with the subject line of "Invisible Robot Girl Art Submission".

1) 1-4 samples of your existing work. As links or embedded in the email.
2) A brief proposal of what you would like to do for the logo (a rough sketch/ brief description/interpretive dance/ect)
3) Your quote for what you think would be a fair compensation for your work (this can be adjusted at the end of the project, if more work than expected was needed).
4) Any questions you may have about the process.

If your submission is not chosen, I claim no rights to it or any new sketches within your submission. Please feel free to use them again for another project.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Catching Fire: This Is How You Spread Blood-Borne Pathogens!

On Thursday night, the roommate and I started texting about seeing Catching Fire and realized that it was actually being released at 8 pm on Thursday rather than midnight.

So, we saw a 10 pm showing at our local theater, surrounded by pajama-clad teenage girls. Which made it so we not only got the show of getting to see the movie based on the book we've both read, but getting to hear the reactions of the teenage girls and how they differed from our natural reactions AND I got an extra show in how indignant my roommate was about the Twilight-y behavior from our fellow audience members.

There was also then the fact that it was after 10 pm and we were both bone tired to begin with. We then also became a little punchy and started a rather terrible running joke of how various things in the movie are ways that you end up with a blood-borne pathogen of some sort. There were a lot of not-so-sterile looking needles happening, among other things.

But the other thing was that Catching Fire allows, among all the terrible death and destruction, to give Jennifer Lawrence some time to be hilarious. Her best moment, by far, being a silent moment.

It's all in the face, really.

I had to find a way to get a screen cap. It was too amazing. Okay, maybe not in this screen cap. But... go see the movie. It's amazing. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing.

Oh, but there is the fact that about an hour and a half into the movie, I suddenly remembered how much the last third of the book made my skin crawl and made me just want to read faster to get away from the ridiculousness. Holy crap, a lot of that stuff gets a lot more terrifying in the visual format.

I told the roommate that I wasn't sure at all if I would go see the third and fourth films in the theater when they came out. The Hunger Games is a diminishing returns series in book form. I don't know if they can (or, rather, will) fix Mockingjay to be a bit less like pulling teeth. Catching Fire is good, don't get me wrong, I just don't know if I ever want to sit through the last third or so of the book ever again. Also, this movie was ridiculously more violent. No more shaky cam trying to hide the violence for the tween audience. You see defenseless and innocent characters brutally beaten and/or killed with nary a cut away compared to Hunger Games. Also: swearing. But that comes with the Johanna territory.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Back To Who: The Most Adorable Anniversary Special

Peter Davison, the original fanboy-turned-Doctor, put together his own 50th Anniversary Special for Doctor Who. Unable to get Steven Moffat to return their calls, Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy hatch up a plan to make sure they end up in the special, one way or another. With a wink to The Five Doctors, inclusion of actually MORE THAN five doctors, some cameos that leave you laughing or crying, and a lot of adorable old men- there is little to not love here. I want a series based on this special, dammit.

Also, hat-tip to producer Georgia Tennant (as she is credited at the end, rather than Georgia Moffett) for producing and parodying herself while still actually very pregnant. That is commitment.

The short film is about half an hour long, so take some time and enjoy the sweetness of it all.

Hey, Look, The Round Things! The Day of the Doctor

Well played, Mr. Moffat. Well played.

Let's just ignore how poorly chosen the Eccleson and Davison stand-ins are, okay?

I don't even know what to say. I'm almost twelve hours late in seeing it, due to adult responsibilities. And I really shouldn't be trying to express anything about it so soon after watching but... well played. Very satisfying.

Yes, there were still issues.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Back to Who: An Adventure in Space and Time

As part of the celebration for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, the BBC and Mark Gatiss gave a world a wonderful gift: the TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time. About the creation of the show and the amazing legacy that William Hartnell, Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman, and Waris Hussein started.

If you know the name "Mark Gatiss" at all, you know that he is one of the most devoted fans of  Doctor Who- David Tennant often credits Mark Gatiss as being the first adult person he knew that every made frequent casual references to Doctor Who episodes in every day life. And Gatiss's devotion shows in the beauty, respectfulness, and love that comes through in every scene. It's just a shame that it wasn't a longer special and couldn't go more into detail.

The special starts by focusing mostly on Verity Lambert, who should be known as the Mother of Science Fiction Television, if you ask me. She's played brilliantly by Jessica Raines of Call the Midwife and, to show my shallow side, wears the most amazing 1960s clothes all throughout the film. It focuses briefly on how Newman took a risk in making her a producer- the youngest producer ever at the time at the BBC and also the first female producer. But it could go into it more. I hope that one day there will be a biopic entirely about Verity. Wikipedia tells me that there's a student film about her with the amazing name of "Verity: Men, Bitches & Daleks" but that's not enough.

The true focus of the film, however, is William Hartnell. Which is rightly so and also heartbreaking. David Bradley plays him so wonderfully- straddling that line of crotchety and magical- and by the end of the film, I was more misty-eyed than I had been about anything Doctor Who-related than I had been in ages. There's something so lovely about seeing the journey of a cynical man that thought his best days were behind him, only to suddenly find himself to be more adored than Santa Claus.

In many ways, this tv movie was what I was looking forward to for the longest time in reference to the 50th anniversary. And I'm not disappointed by it- I just wish there was more. And I wonder how it would play for those that don't give a damn about Doctor Who. Like my mother, who adores Jessica Raines and would probably love to see anything she's in. But doesn't even know that the shape of my minifridge is a "thing", let along a TARDIS. And the film only barely bothers to stop and explain things that the uninitiated wouldn't know, which makes me think that it might not be the greatest idea to test it out on my mother.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Holidays Are Here: Remember To Think Of Others

There is a week until Thanksgiving and I just want to take a moment to send a reminder out into the universe about how many families this year won't be able to afford to provide a Thanksgiving meal to their children and relatives. Families that rely on food stamps saw a reduction in their allotment this month and are feeling the pinch more than ever- especially if they're also trying to save up to give their children a "normal" Christmas.

 In addition to this, many families in the Midwest- especially here in Illinois- are in the midst of dealing with the horrific fall-out of last weekend's tornadoes and severe weather. Many homes were lost and even more were just damaged enough to disrupt the holidays.

When looking into setting up an office food donation box this week, my co-worker and I were startled to see just how many items were listed as being completely unavailable or in low supply at our local food bank, despite it being in a rather affluent area and connected to a very affluent church group.

So, please, when you are shopping for your Thanksgiving supplies in the coming week, take the extra few seconds to grab a few extra canned goods to donate to the grocery store's food donation box. I've listed below the items that our food bank was requesting for the holiday season specifically, as a starting point. You can find out what is needed in your area by visiting's Food Bank Locator and locating your local food banks.

 Holiday Food Donations Items:
Store Gift Certificates/Cards (so that families can purchase a perishable turkey or ham)
1-3lb (non-refrigerated) canned hams
egg noodles
boxed/instant potatoes
boxed/bagged stuffing mix
canned yams or sweet potatoes
canned gravy or broth
canned fruit or applesauce
canned green beans
canned corn
cream of mushroom soup
canned pumpkin
canned cranberry sauce
Jell-O and pudding mixes
brownie mix
canned pie filling
You can find more information on appropriate food donations and how to give in other ways (virtual food drives, monetary donations, volunteering, ect) on as well.

And, as we enter the holiday shopping season, I just want to re-list all the ways you can give a little back as you save money on all the pre-Black Friday and Black Friday sales (mostly taken from last year's Black Friday post, where I tried to turn my unhappiness with the lack of support for the Walmart strike into lemonade). In addition to these, remember that at any stores displaying the signature lime green logo, you can also donate to St. Jude's at the register along with your purchase.

And remember that as it is the holiday season, to carry spare change in your pockets for the Salvation Army bell ringer collection buckets outside of stores!
  • Toys For Tots bins should be out already at many stores. If you're at Toys 'R' Us in the next month, remember to grab two of whatever toy you were buying and put one in the bin. Or donate via paypal directly on the TfT site! Remember that they are always short on gifts for pre-teen and teenage girls! Also, if you know a child-in-need you can also find information on the site on how to get a toy for them.
  • The Red Cross, in addition to being one of the best ways to donate funds towards relief work for both the recent typhoon and the recent tornadoes (in addition to any other global disasters that will always strike), is always a good option for when you don't have money to spare but want to give back in some way. Volunteer for them or donate blood and platelets rather than money. Platelets only have a 5 day shelf life and are ALWAYS in demand! The site will point you towards where you can go in your area to donate and make sure to check the eligibility FAQ for donating blood before you go.
  • Goodwill is ideal for both saving money AND for donating. Board games are always cheaper at Goodwill (just check that they have all their pieces) and remember to head there first if you're looking for Christmas decorations or seasonal clothing that you're not likely to wear more than once or twice (i.e. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party items). And as you're getting gifts this year, start taking note of items in your house that you're not using anymore but you know that others might appreciate and donate them to Goodwill.

Four Out of Ten

This is not a Doctor Who-related post.

In the past week, I have injured four fingers. And one of those four has been injured twice.

And when I say "injured", I don't mean anything severe like breaking a finger. But I have bled a decent amount in the past week.

I burned a knuckle making a hot breakfast. It blistered and then scabbed, and due to it being on the knuckle, the scab keeps opening despite how I keep putting Neosporin and coconut oil on it.

A similar looking injury is on the upper knuckle of a finger on my other hand. I wasn't paying attention to wear my hand was and a co-worker ended up slamming a drawer closed on my finger. I played it off as nothing until it started bleeding on items I was wrapping. I'm just thankful that it didn't blacken the nail bed, as the whole upper portion of that finger was smashed but only the knuckle shows any signs of it. This scab also keeps opening- much more than the burn, in fact.

That same finger was scratched a few days later at the base. I can't remember what did it, at this point, but I remember it being something that I didn't think could scratch me.

The third was pinched in the flush knob of a toilet at my office. I have never run so quickly to disinfect an open wound in my life.

The last injury was on the same day, from a sharp corner of a metal cart. Again, something I didn't expect to cut me. Again, I raced to find a first aid kit to disinfect the cut, as I have no idea where that cart had been.

And, in all these injuries, I have come to the conclusion that adhesive bandage technology sucks. At first, I thought it was just my Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bandages being cheap (although, seriously, the artistic design of the TMNT bandages is AMAZING. The one pictured above is basically a design of Michelangelo photo-bombing the design on the one end- so that you can wrap a finger with the pad on the pad of your finger and have Mikey on the front of your finger. It's fantastic). But I have gone through so many bandages this week to keep from grossing people out and not a single one has lasted a full day. And it's barely a couple hours if I put Neosporin on under the bandage.

Why can't these things freakin' stick?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Insert Sentiment Here

I really hate buying cards for people. Specially certain people that I have very complicated non-traditional relationships. Certain people that are also very sensitive about wanting to pretend that our relationship is not complicated or non-traditional.

So, when you go to buy a card out of cultural expectations and are me, you find yourself in a dilemma. Why can't the cards simply say state "Happy [Certain Day]!" on the inside with some nice art? Why do they have to add on, making them not appropriate?

"You've always been there for me"? Nope. We both know that's a lie.

"You're the only one I've got"? Funky grammar and, also, not true.

"Thank you for everything you've done for me"? Pfft. Yeah, that'll make for some awkward moments.

I seriously can spend 40 minutes in a card aisle of a drugstore, desperately trying to find one that doesn't make my stomach churn. And curse myself for not having the forethought to purchase some nice stock paper and make a card myself.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Back To Who: Partners in Crime

Somehow "I want to go more in-depth about the series 7 episodes I just watched" turned into "I wanna rewatch the Donna Noble era."

Donna is my favorite post-2005 companion. By far. Which is saying something since I haaaaated "The Runaway Bride" for the first year it existed and especially the character of Donna in the special.

But after the ultra-depressing "Last of the Time Lords" and the mis-fire of Martha Jones (I'm so thankful for how they redeemed her once she wasn't the regular companion and no longer mooning after the Doctor), Donna was the perfect solution to bring new life to the show.

Or, rather, Catherine Tate was the perfect solution. Donna changed enough between "The Runaway Bride" and "Partners in Crime" that she was now palatable in large doses and I imagine a lot of that had to do with Catherine being Catherine. And also being the perfect pairing with David Tennant, matching his comedic highs and dramatic lows beat for beat. I don't want to slander Billie or Freema, but the truth is that Catherine had more training and more experience than either one of them and it showed. And was greatly appreciated that they chose her.

Also, I vastly prefer when the Doctor and his companion have no hint of a romance happening. Romance is boring. Caring deeply for someone without romantic feelings? That's far more interesting. And Donna and the Doctor's was of rubbing each other the wrong way is so much more entertaining than watching Rose, Martha, or Amy moon embarrassingly after a clueless absent-minded professor. Not to mention how nice it was to have a companion that wasn't ridiculously young and naive. Donna got things.

But back to "Partners in Crime". Good grief, I love this goofy episode. A perfect screwball sci-fi comedy with the absolute cutest alien villains ever in the baby Adipose and their desire to happily wave at the people they just popped out of. It would've made a great movie, with a little adjusting. Even with the silly slapstick ending of the nanny having a Wile E. Coyote fall to her death.

And in the more serious moments, there are some beautiful moments. Wilf and Donna staring at the stars is possibly one of my favorite scenes ever on the show. Such an endearing relationship that you immediately understand and adore. Not to mention Donna's little check-ins with how the Doctor has been since she last saw him and her ability to see that he has had some shit go down.

Plus, it's just great to see a companion take so much initiative. The kind of initiative that the Doctor might normally laugh at as stupid, but was absolutely brilliant in how Donna was pulling it off. Putting her skills to work.

Also, did I mention how adorable the Adipose were?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Back To Who

From 2006 through 2011, I was obsessive about Doctor Who. I have a TARDIS minifridge. I have the minifigures. I taught myself how to torrent files so that I could watch it the day that episodes aired in the UK. I even was saving up to by a Slingbox and pay a friend in England for their TV license for better access to episodes. Obsessed. I brought my laptop with me to my family's Christmas Day party so that I could torrent the Christmas Specials safely to watch when everyone else got boring. I forced the show onto dozens of friends until they loved it.

Then... I fell out of love. The writing when Steven Moffat first took over just didn't do it for me and I was having trouble with how unlikeable the character of Amy Pond was becoming in the fifth series. I was getting bitter.

I also was finally full-time employed in 2011, which took up a lot of my time that had previously been devoted to thinking obsessively about Doctor Who.

In 2012, I sporadically caught up with series 6, but was still having issues with the writing.

And, up until last week, I had not seen the most recent 15 episodes.

I only watched them because my nostalgic brain wanted to at least attempt to enjoy the 50th Anniversary. I want to see Ten and Rose, okay? I also am intrigued to see Peter Capaldi's take on the character (and it's a bit of a trip to realize that Capaldi is the same age as William Hartnell was when the show started), as I'm thrilled that we're returning to having a more mature actor as the character and it allows for characters to react to him in a different way from the previous two Doctors. While I do think that Matt Smith is a good actor and definitely has improved over the years, Capaldi just has an amazing weight to his acting at times. If you've only see him in The Thick of It or Fires of Pompeii, you need to see his performance in Torchwood: Children of Earth. You need to drop everything and go watch it now. He completely steals the show and tops himself with each installment.

It turns out that series 7 was actually much more my speed. More plots that were along the lines of what I considered a "classic" Doctor Who episode type. The Eleventh Doctor was finally very Doctor-y. And Clara wasn't too much of a focus-stealer, while still being an interesting character and a character I could adore (and covet the wardrobe of, yowza).

So, now I have just over a week to sit on my hands about the 50th Anniversary. And the excitement is building. I've already watched the mini episode below and was thrilled with the content of it (despite the slight brain-breaking logic being implied).

I'm really having to suppress my anticipation, though. I'm just going to be disappointed if I let it continue to build. But I think I might do a few Who-related posts in the next week, just to get some thoughts out about the episodes I caught up on.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

When You Take A Third Job...

You think, "Hey, at least it'll be a quick way to catch up on finances."

You give your availability as being 7 days a week, just working around the hours of all your other jobs. You're available 7 days a week. Five days, you give a 6 hour window but during the evening only. One day with all-day availability. And one day where you can work as early as possible but have to leave by 3 for your set shift at another job.

You hope for 15-20 hours a week. You can get ahead of things again and get a cushion with 15-20 hours a week. At least to start. It'll be tough and you'll probably want to cry a lot, but it'll be a great way to quickly fix things.

Just fifteen to twenty hours a week for a few weeks. You're relatively young. And it's early enough in the fall that the weather won't make things worse.

And when you get the job and they tell you that your position will be for up to 30 hours a week, you think things are going almost to plan.

But then, the job starts. First, you'll accidentally be scheduled for time frames where you clearly stated when hired that you would not be available.

Then, there just won't be any shifts.

You realize that they essentially hired for seasonal staffing in September and that there's a lot of staff and very few hours for most. But... it'll be okay, right? Eventually, there will be hours, right?

I mean, there are enough hours that you won't have a day off for three months and you have 12+ hour work days followed by days where you need to make-up extra time at your full-time job because you needed to leave immediately at the end of the work day one night and it put you behind schedule on a project. But you're not getting that extra 15-20 hours a week you wanted. You're barely getting 20 extra hours a month.

At least you're sort of saving on gas, though, right? Two nights a week, you're not driving home in rush hour traffic- the gas should be lasting a little longer, right? It would be, if it wasn't for how you have to schedule all your medical appointments for either the beginning of the day or the middle of the day, as this new job only does the scheduling a week in advance and makes doing end-of-day appointments near impossible. So when you have a mid-day appointment, you're driving 30 miles away from the office and then 30 miles back, to go back to work. No gas saved.

But, if I hang on through the holidays, it'll eventually pick-up, right? And even though, with 2-3 shifts a week at this job, you often feel like crying as the prospect of having to go to it after a rough day at another job, you convince yourself that if it does pick up to that beautiful 15-20 range, you'll stick with it. It'll be worth it. You won't destroy yourself at that point.

Even when the weather turns cold and your left foot becomes convinced that it's broken. Even when everyone at your full-time job starts telling you that you look worn-out, because you've been working your ass-off for that job at the same time.

And all your favorite co-workers at this third job start leaving, not having the patience to hang-on for the holiday season. So, you hope there's at least a silver lining of more shifts coming.

But, even when the Thanksgiving-week schedule comes out, things don't seem to have picked up. And you've hung on to this job that's not helping when you might as well have looked for one that would give you that sweet 20 extra hours a week for a few weeks.

Maybe it's time to look into becoming a Christmas Elf.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Little Rose Gold Ring

In November of 1933, a little girl named Clarice was given a ring for her tenth birthday. Her mother, Marie, had picked it out.

It was a delicate little rose gold ring. A simple band with almost no shoulder and a bezel shaped to look like an intricate flower. In the center of the flower sat not a gem, but a tiny seedling pearl.

Clarice was Marie's only daughter. Born 15 months after her brother, Reid, who adored her dearly. However, Clarice was sick. She had juvenile diabetes in an era where insulin was still a new discovery and it wouldn't be until she was twelve-years-old that scientists would discover that there were two different types of diabetes.

And, maybe because she was sick, that little rose gold ring made for a child fit her finger until she passed at the age of eighteen.

Marie held on to the ring after her daughter died.

Reid never forgot his beloved sister. When he and his wife had their first child, Reid felt that they should have another child as soon as possible, in hopes that the children would be as close as he and Clarice had been. As it would happen, fifteen months later in November, Reid's son had a little sister.

When that little girl turned ten-years-old, Marie gifted her eldest granddaughter with that little rose gold ring. The girl loved the ring. She cherished it and the connection to the aunt she never knew other than by the love her father and grandmother expressed for her. 

However, by the time she was in college, the ring only fit her pinky finger. She eventually came to the conclusion to resize the ring, realizing that it would still be the same ring, in the end.

And when her eldest daughter turned ten, she gifted the ring to her child, telling the story of how she came to own it and the connection to the original owner. The daughter kept the ring for a few years, but soon gave it back to her mother. By then, it was the 90s and silver was becoming much more popular than gold in the eyes of teenage girls.

So, when her younger daughter turned ten, once again in November, the ring was given to that girl as well. The story of the original owner all the owners since Clarice were told to the younger daughter, who eagerly took the chance to cherish the ring and the history with it.

The younger daughter wore the ring frequently. Panicking briefly when, just a few months after inheriting the ring, the little seedling pearl disappeared while she was at school. She was terrified to tell her mother that she lost the pearl, but when she admitted what had happened, her mother soothed her worries. The ring was over 60 years old. The pearl had been loose in the setting for years and it wasn't the girl's fault that it fell out.

They found a jeweler and had a new pearl placed in it. The girl fretted over how ostentatiously white and glossy the new pearl looked in comparison to the old pearl, but eventually came to accept it was still the same ring.

The girl wore the ring frequently well into her twenties, despite how it didn't quite match the rest of her jewelry by that time. However, after a couple cross-country moves, she realized she no longer had the ring in her jewelry box. This would not have been too much of an issue, other than for personal grief, other than the fact that her older sister had a young daughter.

As her niece grew closer and closer to her tenth birthday, she dreaded the fact that she couldn't pass the ring on to the next generation. She also feared the day her mother would ask about the ring and if she was going to give it to the younger girl. But her mother never asked, giving the impression that maybe she was the only one that remembered the ring and Clarice's story.

Then, on the niece's 10th birthday- another November, in fact- they all had dinner together. And when the niece arrived at the restaurant, she was wearing a fine gold chain around her neck which held the delicate rose gold ring upon it.

You see, the aunt had not lost the ring in her cross-country move. In fact, when she saw the move coming on the horizon, she had asked her mother to take back the ring, so that it would be safe until the niece was ten and could be gifted with it as well. She had just forgotten she had done so.

And, earlier on that day, the ten-year-old's grandmother had gifted the ring for the third time, as she had intended to do for years. Once again telling the story of Clarice, of Marie giving it to her, and how she gave it to her daughters. She had no idea that her daughter had been riddled with guilt for so long about the ring, afraid to admit that she had lost it and ended the tradition.

So, the ring once again has a ten-year-old to belong to. It does not yet fit on this ten-year-old's finger, but it will eventually (or will be resized, eventually). And, maybe by the time the ring is a century old, she will pass it on to a ten-year-old of her own.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Manic Whimsy Dream Boy of Doom

So... I'm not the type to have crushes. I don't fall in love and I don't even prioritize romantic love. I'm not the type to have my favorite thing about a story be the romance. In fact, often it is my least favorite thing about most stories.

Sometimes I like love stories. Just not super often. But when I do, it's often when I'm feeling my moodiest.

At some point in my teens, I had a few certainties that just appeared in my mind. Be they weird mis-fires or what, they happened. They weren't all correct- I was certain I would die before my nineteenth birthday, for one, and that's clearly not what happened. I was certain I would eventually run away, which I did... before running back for two years.

I was also certain that when I did finally find the love of my life, it would be with someone that was bipolar with severe mania.

It's quite specific, I know. And I've managed to yet to actually achieve that. I have never fallen in love and I've yet to have a romantic relationship with someone that is bipolar with manic episodes.

I have, however, had some amazing friendships with more than one person with tragic mental illnesses that have made our friendships all the stronger. I gravitate towards people with intense emotions and I have been that way my whole life. I don't know if I quite realized that during my teens yet, though.

But, I will say, that a couple years after that certainty planted itself in my mind... season four of Ally McBeal happened.

I probably need to explain that further, don't I?

My father watched Ally McBeal regularly as did a great amount of people in the late 90s. My father watched it mostly for the musical element of the show but the show did seem mildly amusing in the 90s. I would watch with him, rolling my eyes at Ally's man-hungry ways and not understanding her motives at all. But I found it amusing for the most part, not realizing how disgusting most of the characters were in a human rights point of view about quite a few "funny" topics (like any time a LBGTQ character appeared or any character with a diagnosed serious disorder).

But then came the fourth season. And Robert Downey Jr came with it. For those of you that don't remember this time in history, Downey had just spent about a year in prison after being in a Lohan-esque spiral of missing a few court-ordered drug tests that were part of his parole agreement. The lawyers that got O.J. off could not save him from a year in prison, that's how damning the situation was.

And, a week after he was released from that long stay, he was hired to be a new cast member on the fourth season of Ally McBeal as Ally's new love interest. Because that was David E. Kelly's hiring style.

And he was... amazing. He was the male version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

He wore plaid shirts with suits. He had adorable glasses that matched his outfits. He had Robert Downey Jr's amazing thick eyelashes that make it look like he's wearing eyeliner. He was quick and funny and quirky and just... got people. He played the piano and sang (he sang Joni Mitchell's "River" when he thought no one was listening). He built Ally a snowman version of himself to keep her company while he was out of town. He was broken and sad at Christmas because he was also anastranged father to a little boy. Hell, he even had great kind relationships with both the mother of his child and his ex-wife. Also: he was Robert Downey Jr- do I really need to explain the charisma more? He was universally adored for his performance on the show, needless to say.

It was in that character, I now realize, that I saw the embodiment of the imaginary love of my life that I had imagined for myself (and doomed myself to).

Now, like I've said, I have yet to actually fall in love. I'm not looking for love and I'm not too keen on the topic. But November is difficult for me. And I've found myself watching that season of Ally McBeal on Hulu (and have now seen the same ad for NickMom so many times that I have lost all fondness for Tia Mowry).

I thought I just had a thing for Robert Downey Jr but I tried watching some of my favorite RDJ movies (other than the Marvel movies or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and it just wasn't the same.

But I do know that, no matter how much the character of Ally McBeal bugs the hell out of me, I do feel a sadness for how the season ended- more for how it ended in reality than how it ended in the show. As you might remember, Downey had not quite finished his downward spiral and was arrested two more times and found to be under the influence of drugs during his time on the show and was fired at the end of the season and the wedding between his character and Ally was scrapped (however, the season finale was still called "The Wedding" and I have to wonder if that was because the title had already been released or if it was David E. Kelly being weird/funny/whatever).

The next year, the ratings plummeted. Jon Bon Jovi as the new love interest just wasn't the same. The cast was itching to move on. The show was canceled. And, as a viewer, you just felt bad for everyone involved, as the show had clearly gotten reinvigorated the previous year, only for life's harsh realities to step in. Like when you date someone who seems amazing and draws you into their fantasy world only for everything to come crashing down when they go into a manic depressive spiral that you weren't expecting and can't fix.

And I'm still watching old episodes of this stupid show for this one man. Like those creepy old ladies that talk wistfully about their lost loves and stare at their old pictures.

I have no idea where I was going with this. Other than I need to remember to go into my Hulu account settings to hide all the Ally McBeal. And that I fucking hate that theme song.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cut Your Own Damn Bangs.

In the past decade, whenever I have requested bangs to a hairdresser, they have been reluctant. Even when a dear friend of mine cut my hair, she was hesitant to give me full-on bangs.

Now, I understand it to a point. Pictures of me from ages 6 to 12 are pretty good evidence for why I shouldn't really have bangs. But that had more to do with the terrible helmet-like bob cuts that I had with those bangs while also not being allowed to wield a curling iron yet.

Since those days, I've gotten pretty good with my hair. I understand what different brushes do to it. I can french and dutch braid. I can do a lot with a single curling iron.

But hairdressers still will never go full-on with bangs. Except the one time where I let a woman that barely understood English give me a $10 bang cut and she gave me really uneven baby bangs rather than "just above the eyebrow" like I wanted. All others will basically give me nothing more than short layers that can work as bangs for about a week before they grow out too much to work with.

And when I got my hair cut this past August, once again I had a hairdresser that was hesitant to give me bangs. I convinced her on the grounds of trying to frame my face to thin it out a little, as I have a round pale Irish pie face that is made worse by frequent swelling in the jawline from my TMJ problems. I need my hair to make it not quite so daunting and terrible to see.

So, the hairdresser gave me some angled long fringe into some long side pieces. But it was rather thin and, when I went to style it the next day, I realized that she hadn't been very precise about where she got the hair for the fringe from. Which seems to be the case when it comes to giving me haircuts. I don't understand why, though, as it's pretty easy to see if you made a straight part in my hair as my hair is so dark brown that it's almost black and my scalp is so pale that it almost glows.

Over the past few months, I bought a cheap pair of trimming scissors. I mostly just tried to keep trimming the fringe to keep it out of my eyes and also try to even it out a little bit into more of what I was looking for. But I didn't want to go crazy with it, as I've had my fill of "I let my sister cut my hair and now I have this one chunk that's mysteriously too short for my ponytail" moments.

Until today. Armed with nothing but hazy memories of a "how to give yourself bangs" guide that I read online over a year ago, the cheap scissors, a mirror, and a terrible mood motivating me more than ever- I just did it.

And I did a pretty awesome job!

It did take hours to get it perfect, however, as the key to not fucking it up was to do a lot of tiny trimming with the scissors almost completely vertical, something I had picked up from the few times I could get a hairdresser to cut me some bangs. They're not as super blunt looking if you do it that way and easier to play with and cover minor uneven-ness. It possibly also creates texture.

The other thing I did was carefully map everything out. I found the center of my face and, using the pointed end of a make-up brush, I etched out a perfect triangle in my hairline, with the point lined up with the center of my face. I pulled the rest of my hair into a ponytail. Then, out of the wide triangle (think Zooey Deschanel-style), I carved out a smaller rectangle in the center and pinned back the rest of the triangle for later. Basically, I first cut a pretty uniform set of straight bangs that went just the width of my eyebrows and were just above the rims of my glasses. Then, I unpinned the triangle and let those have some more length to them so that they skim the rims of my glasses for the most part and then go longer on the sides.

It's hard to explain and I'm not putting pictures of myself up here (too incriminating about other parts of my life- like who I am). But it worked out really well. This way, I can have thick and full straight bangs  covering my entire forehead and framing the sides of my face without pulling out the curling iron to fix them.

BUT! I can also style them as slightly side-swooped, which is what really looks best on me. And, best of all, I can do it from either side- which was not an option with what the hairdresser had given me. To add to that, because I made them thicker and start further back on my head than previously, they're also easier to fluff and fix.

The biggest downsides to the self-cut:

1) Uh, I did it in my bed. So, I had to shopvac the bed and change my clothes to stop itching.
2) My scalp in the front of my head is now very sensitive from excessive brushing to make sure the hair was even as I was trimming. Ow.