Trying to get my reading mojo back after grad school + What I’m reading right now

As some of you know, I have an English degree. No one ever told me about the side effects of an English degree. I just hope they wear off one day. Seriously, academia should come with a warning: “May cause uncontrollable analysing of every piece of media, immediate recognition of the tiniest bit of symbolism, smartassery, and saying ‘actually’ a lot”.

For the first few months after completing my degree I was unable to read. Anything. Books had become so much a part of uni I couldn’t relax with them. Books = work. Why aren’t you taking notes on this? This is a vital plot point, illustrating the effect of capitalism on the common person. This is also a vital plot point, drawing directly on outdated concepts of psychoanalysis. This sentence echoes Foucault’s Discipline and Punish almost to the letter.

And it just went on and on and on. It’s bad enough that I can’t watch any TV show in German without my brain translating everything to English immediately and without my explicit order. On a more positive note, I think I finally got rid of the Thereforeitis. It’s when every sentence you say starts with therefore because after the fifteenth academic paper it’s just become a habit.

So for the last few weeks I have made an effort to read leisurely. It’s hard. It’s like training a muscle I haven’t used since the accident. Books can be fun, I tell myself. Reading is good for your mental health. Escapism is the goal here. Don’t think about how it might have fit in with your thesis.

Reading doesn’t exactly relax me. For one, I read a lot of sci-fi, which means action. And if it’s well-written, I can’t put it down. I have this terrible habit of devouring reading material like chocolate cake during a particularly bad period. And just like with cake, once it’s gone I feel empty. So I got to read more. And it begins to stress me because omg, can’t read fast enough, must know plot, arrgh!

Reading before bed is especially dangerous, no matter if fiction or something academical, and yes, I do still read scientific articles. Either I sit up until 4 am reading through someone’s adventure, or my brain is up until 4 am thinking about the topic at hand, composing my own paper in my head. You might think, well, there’s an easy solution: just write down everything you think. I can’t write that fast. I can’t even type half as fast as I think. I’ll be up until 6 am because I keep forgetting something. I tried, okay?

If I have to sleep, the number one priority is not to wake up the brain again. It loves thinking way too much. It’s not fucking healthy.

And if you’re now curious about what I could possibly read that is so interesting, here, have a list of books I read (or am still reading, because one book at a time is sooo preschool) so far this year for fun:

Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice:

I’m about halfway through with this one. The story… well, if I told you this is about the mind of a 2000 year old space ship trapped in a human body trying to get revenge on the multi-bodied demigod emperor of the galaxy you’d think you know what it’s about, but you really, really wouldn’t. This one has world-building and flashbacks galore, but that also makes the main story move very slowly. I’m smack in the middle and the protagonist is still on the same planet. And also in the same house. 2000 year old ships are patient, I guess?


Naomi Alderman – The Power:

Funny tidbit about this book: Way back at uni I once wrote a short story with an almost identical premise, just a different ending. Feeling kinda stupid now that I never did anything with it after that, but at least this proves my hypothesis that people across continents can have the same idea at almost the same time without ever interacting. What’s it about? Well, three points: Women get power that makes them stronger, men get scared, paradigm shifts occur. Do youself a favour and read it. Like, right now. I liked it, overall. I had kinda wished for a different conclusion, but you can’t have everything. Most of the plot twists are kinda forseeable (it is a kind of dark comedy satire that way), but there was one that hit me out of nowhere, so good job, Naomi. The narrative is told through the lens of multiple characters, the plot is interspersed with drawings of archeological finds that already hint at where the story is going. It was something different, which I liked a lot.

Ann Aguirre – Grimspace:

This is the exact opposite of Ancillary Justice. I’m one fifth in and already there have been three fights, one flight on a spaceship, an attack by alien wild life, and at least five deaths. It’s a riot! The book is sectioned into many small chapters, which is good as you need a breather between all the action. What I particularly like is that protagonist Sirantha Jax (yes, that’s her real name) is not a teenager or twenty-something, as sci-fi space operas are wont to include, but a woman in her thirties who swears like a pirate. Woo for old women in space! I feel so understood! The motley crew seems diverse in terms of race and sexual orientation, too, that’s a plus for me. I don’t think I’ll be getting any hot lesbian space action any time soon, but hey, you take what you can get.

Mary Beard – Women and Power:

In these two reproduced lectures originally held in 2014, classicist Mary Beard takes on the relationship between power and gender, focusing mainly on ancient Greek and Roman times. But you don’t need to be an expert on antique history to get into this. Got it at the same time as The Power because my academia-addled brain thought it would make for some nice secondary literature. I heard people complain about the book being too short, but hey, it’s two lectures, and it is very concise. Not every academic pulls a Foucault and rambles on for 500 pages.

Arthur Machen – The Great God Pan:

I came across this little late Victorian horror gem on this post. I mean, I had told myself no more books that months, but as the great poet Macklemore once said, shit, it was 49 cents (Kindle edition). It’s more of a novella, so I finished it within a few hours. The story is simple: A scientist who insists he’s not mad does experiments on a young woman, everything goes horribly wrong, twenty years later a mysterious woman is terrorizing London and people die, two men decide to play detective. Like most Victorian horror, you couldn’t scare a fly with this thing, it’s super foreseeable, but it was interesting, always alluding to something, but never being precise about what exactly is so horrible about the god Pan or the woman everyone’s afraid of. But if you’re looking for an easy read and like seeing Victorian men scared out of their wits, this is one for you.

Right now, that’s it! Since I’ve declared No Fun February I can’t get any books until next month. Until then, I’m taking suggestions.


They’re doing what with the tide pods now?

As per usual, I’m a bit behind the times on internet trends, so there is a 66 % change that this will be last year’s joke by the time this post uploads. But anyway…

We’re doing what with tide pods now?

And apparently this is not a fucking joke. I live in a world where I get told people eat laundry detergent and it’s not a fucking joke.

I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t get teens. I mean, I know all the research of enhanced risk taking and chance of lack of self-control due to a developing brain and possibly a bevy of hormones. I know teens are into stupid shit. When I was young we stole traffic signs. Or the odd park bench. We terrorized the local hangouts with drunk guitar playing and more than one of us sustained an injury during headbanging sessions. It was an innocent time in the early days of the internet.

Now the internet’s in full swing. There are cameras everywhere. Everyone you know has a camera on hand. You’d think in this Big Brother-esque scenario that we have always dreaded people would think twice about the kind of pictures they leave for their progenitors and the fucking world in general. You’d think.

You’d think that people would think.

I think we all keep learning important things about human nature here. And also that stupidity is contagious.

I guess the hypothesis is that if everyone does the same stupid thing it will be viewed as less stupid overall. The stupidity will just be evenly spread between all participants like so much Philadelphia cream cheese. It’s the “In” thing, like shoulder pads and JNCO jeans and whatever happened to your dad’s hair in the sixties. I regret to inform you that this is not how it works!

This is how it works: To find out how stupid a group of people is, simply take the IQ of the dumbest and divide it by the number of people in the group. Add not-fully-developed brains to the mix and tell me why you haven’t shot your modem yet.

Also in theory, I get it. Tide pods feel denser than water but not entirely firm, kind of like a nutritionally rich fruit. They also smell fruity or flowery. So of course your monkey brain goes, “Eat it! Eat the fruit! It’s good for us!” But your job as a homo sapiens is to shut that monkey down. Stupid monkey! Do not eat the poison pod! What next? Your lizard brain goes, “The washing machine is vibrating, it wants to mate!” and there goes another challenge?

It’s detergent! You wouldn’t drink detergent out of the fucking bottle! Oh, what the hell, you probably would.

Now the company is trying to recall the fucking pods and issue warnings like that was even necessary. No! Don’t do that. Let natural selection take its course. This is nature’s way to tell us it’s time to cull the herd again. Have the fucking kids recalled. These teenagers are clearly defective, call the parents and tell them to produce new ones. Back in the day when your stupid kid ate the poison ivy you had to make another one, too, it was good enough for grandma and it’s good enough for you!

The Revenge of Dr. Daffodil

I’ve been gone and busy for a week again. And boy, did I have myself a time. It was such a time, you guys! Very time-y. I mean, what’s better than sitting in a draughty room for days on end listening to people present their latest papers on topics that may or may not make sense and be worth researching?

I don’t want to hate on people who are far more successful in academia than I’ll ever be actually I do, but uh… some of them I just wonder how they got in? Or if they ran out of ideas somewhere in the last three years because their current research focus is slightly bonkers?

I mean, we had a very special case. Being a good student, I took notes throughout the talks, even though it wasn’t required, but hell, I wanted to remember who I’m going to library stalk. And then this one guy came in, who I’ve nicknamed Captain Daffodil, though in hindsight Dr. Daffodil would have been funnier. ‘Cause he’s got a Ph.D. and all. Captain Daffodil gave a talk about nature poetry and… somehow he was really into plants. Like, reeeaaally into plants. To the point he was talking about the rhythm of plants and made us watch a short clip of grass growing. Needless to say, I was slowly breaking down. With laughter. And the only way I could contain myself was to write my feelings down in my notebook.

So without further ado… here are the original notes [with additional info because this is a written medium and you’ll need context] I took during this particular talk:

  • tradition of plant narratives (Plato, Aristotle)

  • plant life and poetic form

  • Greek stories of people being turned into plants

  • word “verse” connected with cultivating of plants

  • lack of plant agency in nature poetry (I can’t believe I’m writing this down)

  • Seriously? We’re watching grass grow now? This is a thing that happens?
  • [prof is reading a poem by Alice Oswald about basically stumbling over a mustard field] fucking mustard, didn’t even notice this fucking bright yellow plague! Now suddenly I’m in a fucking field, how did that happen?

  • Alice, who the fuck is Alice? Yes, we know you want to bone Alice, shut up about Alice.

  • Is Alice secretly Poison Ivy?

  • Like is that her new secret identity after she escaped Arkham?

  • I mean, no one would expect that.

  • Postplantism!

  • Is that a thing now?

  • Is he secretly a World of Warcraft druid trying to spread the call of nature?

  • I’m not writing from the perspective of a laptop, dammit, stop writing from the perspective of a vegetable!

  • Someone get this man a cactus, stat!

  • Can’t wait for the questions. Can’t waaaait for the questions.

  • Or maybe he’s Poison Ivy’s minion.

  • [Someone in the room asks a question starting with “I’m actually glad my plants can’t talk”] Yeah, it’s good your plants can’t talk. Who knows what those plants have seen.

  • Does anything contribute to your argument?

  • Wait, what is your argument?

  • Did he and Alice Oswald have a threesome with a rhododendron?

  • Oh, my mistake, was mustard.

  • [Somewhere in the back a screw falls out of a chair.] The chairs are falling apart for nonsense!

  • Oh my god, I’m gonna throw you in a mustard field, when is this over?!

  • I wish I had a burka so no one could see me laughing.

  • Official nickname: Captain Daffodil.

  • Maybe he’s a sort of plant zombie.

  • This some Batman shit going down right here!

Thus ends the tragic talk of Dr. Daffodil and needless to say, the audience was astonished. Stunned. Very stunned. Words could not express how stunned we were. I now have to go and read Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich to get all the bad poetry out of my head.

Clothes Make the Woman… Angry, That Is.

Clothing industry, are you and me gonna have a problem?

So as you may know I’m a human which means I have to wear clothes because otherwise small children will faint and I’ll get arrested. Also, frostbite. But how in the world am I going to avoid this quandary if you, clothing industry, keep giving me tissue paper to wear?

Seriously. I don’t have abundances of money, so I can’t buy like locally grown vegan clothing like all them rich ethical bitches. I don’t have any damned money. What do you need to get money? A job. What do you need to get a job? A job interview. What do you need for a job interview? Acceptable clothes. What am I not getting anywhere? You guessed it. I tried to buy a nice looking shirt on sale. Online, because y’know, grad school kicking my ass with some last exams and there’s no way I can just leave the house to do some shopping. Nice simple shirt, will go great with business casual or smart casual. Shirt arrives. Shirt is tried on.

Shirt is see-through.

What in the everloving hell?

Not sheer. That would have been too obvious. Just thin enough to be see-through.

Oh, I’m sorry, store, I guess I wasn’t aware of your stripper collection! You know, when they said everyone can be a star, this wasn’t what they meant, you know that, right? Andy Warhol was predicting YouTube and Twitter, not YouStrip and Titter. (Although…)

It wasn’t see-through on the store’s page. It just looked, y’know, shirty. But literally, you can see everything! I’m not sure I’m applying in the right kind of industry to wear see-through clothing to an interview. No, really, I don’t think my clearly visible bra is going to help me any. Especially not when apparently 90% of HR is female.

And even if I wasn’t too fat to be a stripper I’d refuse to wear almost transparent anything in public.

Seriously, I navigate across four pages of seventies style blouses with cut-outs so everyone can see your bra and flab just to arrive at the one decent looking shirt and then it’s fucking see-through?!

I mean, I know it’s going to be fucking summer in, hm, six months, but come on!

And don’t even get me started on pants. Pants would be the enemy if skirts were a feasible option. This is 2016! We all have giant mobile phones! How do we not have pockets on our pants?! What do you expect me to do, fashion industry, put my phone in my bag where I have to dig it out between my wallet, my keys, my asthma inhaler, writing pad, pens, assorted tampons, hand sanitiser, and my emergency snickers bar? Look, there’s a Greenpeace guy with a clipboard right there at the corner, I need to pretend I’m busy, I need my fucking phone! Now! Give me pockets on my damn trousers, dammit!

Also, I don’t know if you can see it under all the facial hair, but I’m a woman. I need pockets to sneak tampons into the bathroom at work because taking my entire bag is not fucking subtle, okay? You know what’s also not subtle? Walking around with a suspiciously clenched fist because I’m smuggling a tampon down the hallway. I might as well go around parading the tampon box over my head. No, I’m not angry because of my period. I’m angry because of the lack of proper pockets on my clothes! Forget penis envy! Ain’t no one want to deal with penis anyway! Pocket envy‘s where it’s at!

And Boyfriend wonders why I’m basically running around in drag. It’s no use. I’m going to wear men’s shirts until I die. And men’s pants, because they have pockets. Fucking pockets, man. Fucking pockets got me acting like a crack addict.

So Basically, James Joyce Was a Whore.

Recently had what felt like the 564th lecture on James Joyce. What else can I say except screaming internally. Entire generations of scholar’s have grown up to kiss that guy’s spectral ass, singing hymns of praise over Ulysses and Dubliners, mostly because no one ever actually finished Finnigan’s Wake.

And even in the new century, the rightfully deceased Joyce still holds sway over the not-so-peaceable land of literature. He and Yeats are the mighty two towers of Irish literature by which any other author will and shall be measured!

I have problems with this. Number one, his writing is… not that good. It’s mostly rambling about… actually, it’s not about anything, stuff just seems to happen to the protagonist, peppered with Bible quotes and Classical mythology to keep a semblance of interest, and no amount of scholarly research will tell me otherwise, nothing will make this nonsense suddenly worthy of my precious, precious time. Number two, Joyce was the mighty slut before the lord. Don’t you know I am a lady of quality! I shall not indulge in this debased filth! No wonder the future generations consist of degenerates delighting in depraved debauchery if the impeccable institutes of learning make them read masturbatory memoirs of sluts and whores!

Seriously though, he was slutting it up.

Like most Men Who Do Great Things, Joyce’s success depended on someone else doing his laundry, cooking his meals and, dunno, paying all his bills. So in Things Wikipedia Never Told You News: Joyce took the classical route and got hold of numerous patrons, or sponsors. Who were all wealthy. And… female. Basically, he kept finding new sugar mommas.

I guess this also kinda explains why it took him thirty years and two or three children to finally marry his wife. I mean, she wasn’t rich. Far from it, actually. So, you know. He just kept shakin’ what his mama gave him. In the general direction of heaving bosoms with well-filled wallets.

I know, you are saying, “But, but, but! Should we not judge an author by his literary merits? Did not most creative heads in history live a life against all social acceptability? Is it not the rejection of morals-of-the-time put in place by the-powers-that-be that fill the mind with prose? Is it not a truth universally acknowledged that a great mind must needs be unmolested by the day-to-day drudgery as well as pesky norms? Can and should you really judge this literary giant by his social life?”

Yes. Yes, we should.

Now, there’s technically nothing wrong with being a whore for the sake of literature, and no one will disagree with me on that (and if you do, the door of this private prose bordello is over there, get out). Technically, there’s nothing wrong with being a whore, period. But I mean, come on. Can you imagine if James Joyce had been Jane Joyce? Would we still be reading Penelope today or would scholars be more interested in examining Jane’s relationships with her ‘sponsors’? Chances are, we wouldn’t be reading any of her work. Jane would also have never been able to write a masturbation scene in Penelope (which, admittedly, was censored for long years, but wouldn’t you know it, came back) or a visit to a brothel with her as the customer and still have her book published. Never in a million years, or at the very least not in 1922. James Joyce, however? 800 pages of Notes From A Boner, also known as Ulysses in case the joke wasn’t clear. Oh, so you masturbate to a woman on the beach? Okay. Why? Oh, so you don’t like the fact that your wife is having an affair, or you assume she has an affair, but you’ve no problem going to a brothel on what seems to be the regular? Okay. Why? So you and your friend/son substitute/potential gay mate are pissing in the backyard even though it’s been established in the early chapters that you own a perfectly good outhouse? Okay. Why? Did the outhouse fall over somewhere off screen, or…?

Also, what the hell kinda drugs are you on with your frequent hallucinations?

I just wonder how this book became such a classic. No, actually I don’t wonder. It was obviously risqué and daring for the time because it was a complete attention grab, and the fact that it was so difficult to get it published, and that it was censored so heavily and indeed put on the index for years in some countries made for great publicity. Then some of the chronic onanists who got a hold of it, actually made it through the 800 pages, and liked it somehow became scholars of literature and the rest, much like the life of James Joyce, is history.

And now there are people meandering through Dublin, wide-eyed and delirious as if someone had dropped a copy of Finnegan’s Wake on their heads, every June 16. Wonder if they also visit the brothel, though.

There are two kinds of people. Those that have read Ulysses and those that haven’t and those who gave up halfway through, and those who have problems with numbers. And then there’s those weirdos who have to bite their fist so as not to yell “‘TIS PITY HE’S A WHORE!” through a lecture hall.

Not that I ever did that or anything.

Bah, sick of Joyce. Let’s talk about Yeats. Wanna hear a Yeats joke? Why was Yeats sad? Because his Maud was Gonne! Ba-dum-TSS!

Why Gallows Humour Will Keep Me Alive Until 98

The other day I saw a tramway decorated with Christmas lights, a Christmas wreath and a big bow in front. Just driving around, content as you please, with some people on board who seemed to be having themselves a glorious time. And the first thing that popped into my mind was, I want that for my funeral. Party train! All the way to the cemetery! Put a table cloth on my coffin and use it as a buffet table! Beat that for a wake!

My former therapist would remind me that planning elaborate funerals for myself is neither normal nor conducive to my mental health. I have another theory about my funeral obsession: If I plan it in a way that makes me sorry I’m going to miss it – you know, by being all dead and stuff – this will convince my jerkbrain to stay alive through sheer stubborn bloodymindedness. I see my therapist wagging his finger at me as the train goes past, but what does he know?

Anyway, it’s almost midnight, I went to bed two hours ago in a heroic attempt to get a decent night’s sleep because I have an important presentation tomorrow, and here I am, wide-eyed as a marigold. Oh, who cares about presentations? Who cares if I look like an extra from The Walking Dead and sound like one, too? It’s my own stupid fault anyway because I made the mistake of reading. Reading before going to bed! That thing people do to fall asleep! But somehow reading doesn’t make me sleepy, reading recharges me. Even if it’s reading for class. Boring reading. Oh, when will I learn?

It’s all because I went to bed at 10 pm. I’m my own Dorothy Parker now. If only I’d learned from her example, I’d have known that nothing good ever comes from that. Then I wouldn’t be in this mess right now, typing away at almost midnight. Reason, prudence, common sense that tell you to get a solid eight – what have they done for me lately?

Well, it’s not just the reading. The stress might have something to do with it. Presentations are stressful. And everything else in life, too. But the night before the performance, that’s so me! And yes, a presentation is a performance. If you can perform gender, you can perform being a normal human. And there’s the wagging forefinger again. Yes, yes, it doesn’t do to sort people into ‘normal’ and myself into ‘not normal’. No matter how true it is in practice. But what does the old quack know, anyway? If this whole therapy thing had been any good I wouldn’t be in this mess right now  at 11:40 pm when all the decent people are just heading out the door.

If I fall asleep right now I still get seven hours. That’s a big If. Almost as big as the joke I’ve got planned for my cremation. It all depends on whether or not I can convince someone to hide five pounds of popcorn kernels in my coffin.

Again with the funerals. Yes, yes, I shouldn’t. But what can I do? It’s what I think about when I’m stressed. I’m not suicidal; I think. To use the words of an ex-friend, if I was really suicidal I’d be dead. Either way, no one inherits anything unless I get a train to chug-a chug-a me over to my semi-eternal resting place. And whoever does the best locomotion at the reception gets the good silverware. If I have any good silverware, that is.

Dorothy Parker would just get up and read her head off. Then again, I’m pretty sure she also drank herself to death. Maybe I should do that. But booze is costly, like… really now. I got my dad some fine whisky for Christmas because the man’s a connoisseur, or whatever that godawful French word is for people who like expensive stuff once in a while. Spell-check will tell me. Ah, there it is. And I spent an ungodly amount of money on just two bottles. I mean, I suppose if you die penniless that’s just excellent financial planning, but still. What if I’d need an emergency bottle of whatever I’m drinking myself to the pearly gates with? And you can’t drink yourself to hell on cheap booze. That’s just not classy. Who ever heard of someone dying from Heineken, or Bud Light, or Eristoff Ice? No, no, no, it has to be the fancy stuff. Otherwise it’s just sad. Death shouldn’t make you sad, that’s what taxes are for.

Maybe I should try for those seven hours. Or a bit less than seven now. Maybe my upstairs neighbour should get their bladder checked, because they always get up to pee at the exact same time each night. Thin goddamn walls. I wonder if they can hear me type. Are they thinking about their funerals, too? They should, because I’m calling dibs on the train.

I suppose I’ll just leave ol’ Dorothy here for other sleepless minds to read (or people in the southern hemisphere who are wondering why I’m talking about midnight at, like, noon.): “I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.”

You tell ’em, Dot. Now, post this or sleep on it? Reason, prudence and common sense are sitting in the corner, drinking fizzy water and shaking their maiden-auntly heads. Eh… I’ll just smash my face into the touch screen and see what happens. And then I’ll try to get some 6 and a half hours. Maybe.

Snooorrrrrrrre: Confessions of a Secret Frequent Sleeper*

*in Metropolis because obscure song references are kinda my thing.

Actually, sleep is the weirdest thing ever. I mean, you lie down in a darkened room for hours, near-comatose and wildly hallucinating. And we have an extra room just for being comatose and hallucination. And an extra piece of furniture. And special clothing.

If you had to explain to someone who’s from a species that doesn’t sleep what sleep is you’d sound completely mad. “So… you’re telling me humans put on their special sleep clothes and go into their special sleep room, lie on a sleep slab and then just… what?”

Yeah, what?

Scientifically, sleep is very interesting, mostly because you can’t explain it. No one actually knows why we sleep, but most species on this planet do it. It’s useful for a number of things, that’s true. Relaxation. Improved healing. Slowed metabolism so you don’t starve while putting in your eight hours of hallucinating. You also go crazy if you don’t sleep. But all evidence to date seems to point to one simple answer: you fall asleep because you are tired. And then what? You also wake up tired, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep instead of slugging over to your work place in your special work clothes with the biggest cup of choice caffeine known to humankind in hand.

So no one knows why we do it. We don’t have sufficient data to say if other species on other planets do it. All we know is: sleep is fucking awesome! Why else would you spend a third of your day in your sleep slab? It’s like holidaying with your brain. Granted, your brain can be fucking terrifying at times (killer clown in the tool shelf level of terrifying), but nevertheless.

Sleep is so important a huge part of our culture revolves around it. There is an entire industry dedicated to making mattresses and pillows and bed sheets. Articles over articles that tell you in five easy steps how to sleep better. Get more sleep in less hours! Pulled an all-nighter? When you’re over 25? You’re so badass! How are you not dead? Sleep is the first thing that gets axed when there is a lot of stuff to do and it always involves this great personal sacrifice because everyone knows that insufficient sleep is unhealthy. You sacrifice sleep, then you sacrifice food, it’s like paying tribute to an ancient god. One in a suit who holds your paycheck hostage, but nevertheless.

Personally, I love sleep. Forget about sleeper agents, I’m a sleeping agent. But I’m really bad at it. I’m an insomniac, for one, I cannot fall asleep before midnight, for another. It takes me hours to fall asleep. But when I sleep, I sleep. No alarm clock? See you in ten… hours. Or twelve. Better make it twelve. Nap? Hah, good one. I can’t take 20-30 minute naps like normal people. Not even 90 minute ones. Nope. I nap 3 hours or not at all. Why? Dunno. If I lie down in the afternoon I know I won’t see anything but whatever my crazy brain is cooking up until evening. I can’t lie down for 20 minute because 20 minutes turn into two hours, then I check the time, think “Fuuuuuck” and fall back into the pillows because 1) I’m tired as all hell, 2) it’s so fucking late anyway, why bother getting up?

Then of course there’s the entire waking up part, which is gruesome, because 1) NOISE!, 2) my brain always wakes up first but the body is somehow lagging behind. Like, I’m already making a list in my head, or planning a short story, or just having very deep and meaningful thoughts that may or may not involve donuts, but my body is like… “Okay, inventory: left arm, check. Right arm, check. Head, check, because the fucker is babbling again. Breasts, two, check. Stomach, check, empty. Bladder, check, full. Spleen, check, still there. Liver, check, whatever happened there? Left leg, check. Right leg… wait a minute… oh, there you are. Check. You can open the eyes, Jim. Jim? Oi, Jim! Dammit, can’t get any decent help around here these days, now I have to open them manually *exit stage left while muttering expletives*”

Or that’s how I imagine it anyway because by the gods if it doesn’t take me forever to physically get up. If I do end up sleeping I’m gone. If someone put a do-not-resuscitate order on me, I could take a nap and wake up in a morgue, scare the crap out of some pathologist. Might as well send a rescue team with emergency caffeine. Or just keep me from sleeping.

Seriously though, I woke up once to my care assistant soon-to-be-nurse Boyfriend checking my pulse. That’s how I sleep, motherfuckers. You think this is a game?

On the Importance of Men’s Fashion, or It’s Not Drag If I Am Cold

Why is men’s fashion important? Because otherwise I’d have nothing at all to wear.

Looking back to this post, you might have guessed that I was a bit unhappy with women’s wear. I was and still am. Then this other post about men in sweaters happened and I thought I had something so say about that. So let me sing the praises of men’s sweaters.

See, I don’t have a lot of money. I’m still owed two months wages and it’s cold. It can’t possibly be colder in the ice block that Satan apparently inhabits (ask Dante, he was there. Or tripping balls. Anyway.).  So this winter I ventured out to get cheap, warm clothes.

And therein lies the problem. You can either have cheap or warm. Definitely not both. I’m looking for something reliable that will last me a few years, but I’m so not going to pay more than 30 for a single item.  Actually, I’m not going to pay more than 15 for a single item, because 30 can buy a week’s groceries for me. So off to Cheap Clothes Central, otherwise known as H&M and Forever 21. I’d go thrifting if it weren’t for the fact that some thrift shops here are actually more expensive than our cheap clothes stores.

Because it is winter, and again, actually cold, no matter what those Californian designers are thinking (seriously, where do you get your ideas of fall and winter from, fashion girls you see on Pinterest? They’d fucking die from hypothermia over here.), I quickly sigh the sigh of the defeated and slouch out of the women’s section. Because women’s sweaters don’t deserve the name. Odd cut and thin as paper. And itchy, because my skin doesn’t like the stuff that makes the material stretchy. Also, WHAT THE HELL I COULD WEAR LIKE FIVE OF THESE AND STILL BE COLD!

So I take a deep breath. Straighten my back. Draw back my shoulders. And attack the men’s section.

I always find it funny to be virtually the only female in the men’s section of a clothing store. Mostly because of the male shoppers. It’s like they’re one step away from growling. “Intruder!”, their looks seem to call. “Intruder! What dost thou intrude upon this our territory? Thou hath ventured beyond the pale, wench! Thou hast no business to be here, in these holy halls of manhood!”

Not like I could be shopping for my Resident Man Beast, right? I mean, I do, sometimes, but not right now.

Boyfriend is pretty similar in this respect, actually. I’m always silently laughing my metaphorical ass off when I browse the net and suddenly it’s like “Oh, those gloves look nice.” – “Should I get you some when I go out tomorrow?” – “Yes, pl… wait a minute, those are women’s gloves!” Boyfriend’s hands are as big as mine, by the way. It’s not like they wouldn’t fit. Or the opposite case: “What do you think of this shirt?” – “Looks nice.” – “Would you believe I got it in the men’s section?” – Cue giant eyes of disbelief and hasty retraction of former “Looks nice”. Males. Are. Weird.

Seriously, clothes are clothes. They’re made in the same sweat shop in Taiwan or China anyway. It’s especially stupid with things like scarves. Like… it’s a cloth rectangle. If it fits, I wear it. Unless we’re talking about a penis warmer I don’t see a problem.

The problem is of course the cost. Men’s clothes cost more, probably because they’re made of actual thread and cloth, not just of things the designer found lying on the floor. You know, old newspapers. Bagel bags. Starbucks coffee cups. Actually, a bunch of Starbucks coffee cups will probably keep you warmer than a women’s sweater. So your choices are spend more money on clothes or spend more money on cough medicine. I guess it evens out in the end.

Okay, so I can see why some people may not be able to comfortably shop in the other sex’s assigned department. Some girls have giant big boobs (you can tell from the adjectives that this is not one of my problems) that won’t cooperate with men’s shirts and I get that. Me, I can’t wear men’s trousers because they’re too loose around the mid and too tight around my butt (exception: men’s sweat pants. So comfy!). Sometimes sleeves are too long, and everything is too wide. But honestly? If I’m cold I don’t really care.

I own a lot of men’s clothing, actually, and you wouldn’t know it unless I told you. Basic t-shirts that on my frame are a loose fit. Long sleeved shirts that look great with skinny jeans. Plaid shirts that go with everything. Scarves. Gloves. Hats. Hoodies! Giant warm sweaters! They’re giant because a men’s S is apparently a women’s XL! But I don’t care! You don’t easily get all-cotton for women, at least not for the kind of price I can afford. I’m so grateful for that 15.- cotton knit long sweater that doubles as a very short winter dress (necessity is the mother of invention). I love cotton! Mostly because it keeps you warm! Not that I mind artificial fibres. I just can’t wear a lot of them because allergy issues. Sure, my life would be easier if I could just comfortably wear any acrylic or polyester (and then hope to never get caught in a fire). But am I the only one who’s freezing here? I just don’t feel like they keep you warm. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way round?

It’s all in how you wear it, and obviously I’m very good at that, because bitch, I’m fabulous (three snaps, ’cause I’m sassy as hell). It’s also pretty much impossible to mistake me for a guy (but thanks for your concern, Boyfriend), because 1. I’m very short, 2. my face is very feminine, 3. I wear skirts a lot in winter because it’s absolutely impossible to fit three pairs of wool tights under any sort of pants. Guys, if you’re cold, try that, it works. Yes, that includes guy-guys. It’s a valid option until we finally get some decent fashionable cold protection suits. And Taun-Tauns.