The Return of the Abominable Blatherer!

So I’ve been keepin’ busy. Our apartment building’s been getting new windows in and Tuesday it was our turn, and I can still feel the dust in the air. I can feel it because I’m allergic. I haven’t stopped sneezing in days. And no amount of airing and vacuuming will get it out.

I’m also preparing a workshop. I’ve never lead a workshop before. Safe to say I’m a nervous wreck. Never been more nervous in my life, in fact. I want this to be good, you know? I want to distribute knowledge amongst my students-for-the-day. I want them to walk out of that room at the end of the day going, “Jup, that helped.”

Somehow this master’s thesis is also not writing itself and I need to go see my supervisor sometime soon.

And the last thing I need in between all of this… is this guy.

I feel like Jack Nicholson in that old Batman movie: I’ve given a name to my pain, and it is Batman the Abominable Blatherer. Now, if my problem was Michael Keaton, I’d be overwrought with joy. Because it’s Michael Keaton. Instead, I’m settled with… this guy.

So last year, before he was here, the team decided against putting pictures of our faces on the website. Because seriously, the team is rotating so much you’d have to switch out pictures ever year. Like, I’ll be gone come summer. Also, some of us are very concerned with control of our images on the web because by damn did we learn from American examples. Then internet is no longer our own private hidey-hole like it was in the early 2000s, now it’s a public place. No, we don’t even put pictures of us partying on facebook. No, not even if our bosses can’t force us to facebook friend them. No, not even if it’s illegal for our bosses to even ask us for our facebook name (we don’t even use our real names! And all our profiles are set to private! Because!). European millenials know how the damn internet works, so we like to keep our faces to ourselves until we get a real job, thank you very much.

I mean, look, it’s one thing to ask a question if you don’t know there was already a decision on this. It’s one thing to ask again because after all, we do have some newbies as well who may or may not want some pictures of themselves. That’s all fine.

But the Blatherer went ahead and contacted a professional photographer and got an estimate for group and single pictures. Mind, he did that literally five minutes after he said “Hey, we should have photos!” and literally three days before he thought to ask the twelve other people on the team about this. And now he keeps going on about it via e-mail. “I don’t understand why we can’t have pics!” Because the rest of us said no last year. Just because you are here now doesn’t change the minds of everyone else. Also, money. Why should our collective fund go to something only one of us wants and which is no use to our target audience? Hell, I even offered to lend out my old reflex camera if he absolutely wants a damn picture of himself so badly. But nope, it needs to be professional!

Now there are about 30+ e-mails in my inbox of people going back and forth and trying to get him to accept a solution that does not cost more than a hundred bucks. Does anyone beside me realise how much this guy is trying to run the show? Is anyone else tired? Is anyone else losing their motivation?

Also, we need an emergency meeting to discuss the new statutes he’s drawn up.

Someone should talk to this young man. But why me? Don’t we have people to deal with this? Like psychologists? Or HR? Or hitmen? Anyone?

The Amazing Adventures of the Abominable Blatherer!

Okay, so, I’m breaking a bit of a codex here. I made pact with myself that I wouldn’t talk about work. More precisely, that I wouldn’t talk shit about my colleagues. Such pacts are all well and good until your gorge rises and your heart speed is suddenly in the three digits area.

Do you know those people who talk… but they’re not actually saying anything? Like, they just talk? And talk? And talk? And talk? And no matter how often you tell them to shut up they just won’t? Even if they’re labouring a moot point? Even if whatever they’re complaining about was already resolved? Even if whatever they want just makes things more complicated and less efficient?

I have one of those at my work place. It’s getting ridiculous.

Usually, we’re quite an informal group. Things get discussed, pros and contras are brought in, and decisions are made via a simple majority of raised hands, or just a round of ‘yeah, sure’s. Also usually, we’re unanimous because most of our plans are sensible.

And then there’s this guy.

He’s not against anything, per se. But he’s trying to turn us into fucking parliament. We can’t just make a suggestion for a project or something, no, no, no, we need to propose a motion. And to show us how this works, he puts forward a motion that we sponsor a fund-raiser for a history related project he’s doing. Problem being, the way our place is set up, we’re not legally allowed to take in money from people. Don’t ask me, it’s complicated legal shit. All we can do is ask for donations, but we can’t, like, sell tickets or something. So we discuss this, because we all think this is what he wants us to do, and we go back and forth for ten minutes, with him yelling in between about democracy, until we finally arrive at the conclusion… all he wants is for us to promote the project and fund-raiser, which he’ll organise himself, on our homepage and social media.

Okay? Why didn’t you just say that? I mean, the project is interesting enough for our target audience and it’s for a good cause so why all this legal mumbo jumbo about motions and compliance audits and applicable documents? Just send us your shit and we’ll do it!

Somehow, though, he’s convinced that our team has dire troubles with decision making and general leadership, never mind the fact that we’ve all been rather happy with the way it’s been. But no, we need some really strict guidelines. And we can’t just have simple majority when we vote on something, we need to stick to three-quarters majority. And why are there never any abstentions, eh? Is everyone being pressured into casting their vote on something they don’t want by our evil chairpersons?! This is not how democracy works, we need to act according to democratic lines, what we really need are decent statutes that list in detail how we vote and in which order topics are dealt with, and which kind of projects receive aid, and how we propose motions and how to carry a motion and how to reject a motion…

Meanwhile, we’re all over there like

And if we want him to stop talking we should just propose a cloture, a motion to close debate, which I do, because fuck him, let’s get a laugh out of this, and we got a three-quarter majority on that particular motion and yet somehow, he keeps going.

You know? That kinda person who keeps coming up with all sorts of rules which apply to anyone but him?

I leave that particular meeting early. Because fuck it, I said I got two hours time, I’m not getting paid anyway, so two and a half hours is all you get from this bitch. And I’m not in here to get yelled at about democracy.

Look, I’m all for trying new things and better solutions and faster processes, and I respect the guy’s dedication to order. The problem is, he’s entirely inefficient, and efficiency is the thing I’m dedicated to. He’s slowing everything down with his inability to shut the fuck up. He’s making everyone resent his ass, thus fucking up the work climate. He’s actively blockading any decision. Just because he’s so in love with his ideas about motions. Like, didn’t he notice that parliament doesn’t exactly run smoothly? And that the number one complaint in this country is the mass of bureaucracy you have to wade through just to get a simple thing done? Like repair a bridge that needed repairing for the last twenty years? (But that’s a complaint for another time.)

But this dude just doesn’t realise that this particular three-quarter majority is so not on board with his suggestions. Because he’s not making suggestions, he’s flat out telling us that everything we do is wrong because he says so, because obviously he’s the expert in all things conduct and guidelines and law and politics. To me he’s sounding like he’s using democracy and bureaucracy as a shield to mark the beginning of a personal dictatorship which he will achieve by talking relentlessly until we all just give in to make him shut up. I’m so not here for that.

I’m also wondering what his sex life is like. “Motion to receive oral pleasure!” – ” Motion denied.”

Next time I see him I’ll just toss jelly babies at his head while shouting, “Hold it! Objection! Take that!”

And before any of you come in here like, “Yeah, tough gal, how ’bout you tell all that to his face instead of talking shit behind his back?”, I have. I have, multiple times. Multiple times over the last half a year he’s been here. I tried it nicely. Then I tried it not so nicely. Then I started yelling because he gave me a headache. Do you honestly think that type of person listens? And certainly not to me. Jelly babies it is!

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!

2015 Recap: A Year in Numbers

Let me speak to the manager, I want my money back! 2015 wasn’t the year the prophets Marty McFly and Dr. Brown promised us. But hey… wasn’t that bad, right? I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person!

So sometime in mid January I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I started writing down all the productive things I do every day so I don’t feel like such a deadbeat slacker? Yeah, so… I didn’t always write everything down because I didn’t choose the slacker life, the slacker life chose me, so I forgot a few days here and then, but by and large, it’s a really long list. The thing I forgot the most to write down was, of all things, cooking. Probably because I debated with myself forever if that even counts as productive, then decided, hell yeah, not least because I hate it.

I’m not sure what to make of all these numbers, though. A 365 day year has 8760 hours. A full-time (40 hours a week) job has you working for roughly 2000 hours if you don’t take any vacation time which around here is usually six weeks. Considering I spent more than 3000 hours sleeping, and roughly 5000 hours being awake, nothing I did this year is really that impressive. Except my sleeping skills. So make of this list what you will.

Without further ado, here’s my life in from Jan 23 – Dec 30 2015:

I cooked 197 meals (probably more like 250, though).

Vacuum cleaned 178 times, averaging 59 hours.

Dusted a total of 179 times, which comes to about 29 hours.

Did 48 weekend grocery hauls (not counting all the small trips to the store in between, that’d be too many).

Ran about 122 loads of laundry.

Ironed clothes a total of 41 times because I always wait until the last possible moment to fucking iron.

Spent roughly 210 hours working my sort-of-job, but considering I do a lot at home, I’m not so sure about the actual number. (Told ya it’s not much.) Didn’t count the freelance stuff I did this year because I lost track. And didn’t write anything down.

Spent 4660 minutes doing sports, which is roughly 77 hours, so… could be better.

Including research, paper writing and presentation preparation, I had some 500 hours dedicated to university.

I was ill three times, once for almost two weeks, the other times only for a few days.

So what does this mean for 2016? Well, I should definitely work out more. And there’s still the getting-a-decent-job-issue that’s been nagging me since, dunno, infancy? Breaking news, my country apparently hit another record for unemployment. Joy. New Year’s resolution: Overthrow government. Anyway, what else? Ah yes, do more uni stuff. Though seeing as the Big Project, i.e. thesis, is slowly coming up this won’t be a problem (or will it? Dun dun DUUUN!).

I’m just kidding. My New Year’s resolution is to stop lying to myself about lifestyle changes.

Happy New Year! Here’s to a fresh start at binge eating, boozing and slacking off!

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That Time My Dad Bought My Mum a 30 Pound Ham for Christmas

Merry Christmas! How you doin’? Me? It’s 10 p.m. on Christmas Day and I’m running a fever. Because obviously.

So because Mum had to take care of Aunt for a couple days we had the big family celebration not on Christmas Eve as usual but on Christmas Day. Which, in hindsight, was a clever ploy of fate because on Christmas Eve I felt all shipshape and Bristol fashion, but today was another story. All morning I’d felt sort of queasy. Hadn’t slept much, because I somehow woke up at 7 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. That’s never a good sign. Sometime after lunch my back started hurting so bad. Also not a good sign. And now I’m here chained to my bed, and not the sexy kind, heating pad on my back like an old lady and running temperature. Awesome. When I said I was going to take it easy for a few days I didn’t mean this. Anyway.

Maybe now I’ll have time to try this new battery powered manicure set my mum gave me. Are my nails finally gonna look fancy and like I have my shit together?

Anyway, Dad got whiskey, Mum got stuff for her phone (first smart phone, already addicted) and a giftcard for as many kindle books as her device can eat, Great Aunt got food and wine (she’s 91 and a hoarder, we can’t really give her stuff), Boyfriend got his 237th Doctor Who DVD. And after all this… Dad comes in with a big box.

The box stands about 1 metre tall. It has a note taped to it that details the adventure Santa had to go on to get this thing, whatever it is. Dad grins. It is the grin of a dad who is terribly pleased with himself. The grin that has a joke coming. Armies have fled in terror before the Dad Grin. Those who see it seldom live to tell the tale. So Boyfriend and me proceed to open the box because Mum apparently has a terrible premonition and doesn’t want to.

The box contains a smoked Serrano ham. A whole one. Weighing roughly 15 kg, or 30 pounds. The whole pig’s leg without the foot. Smoked. From Spain. With a cutting board.

Mum lets her head fall into her hands and seems to scream internally.

I have a terrible flashback. This is probably my fault.

Roughly twelve years ago, during the weekly grocery shopping when I was still living with my parents (being severely underaged tends to do that to a person), I saw a giant ham at the market. Very similar to this one. And I may or may not have joked that this would be something for the next barbecue. My father, bless his kidneys, may have remembered that remark. For over a decade. This decision probably started with the sentence “Hey, didn’t Kiddo say she wants something like that?”

Yes. Maybe. As a joke. Back before there were smart phones. Back before there was Youtube. Dad, why?

Back in the present, Mom seems trapped between laughing and yelling. Dad is grinning from ear to ear. I secretly dub the whole affair Hamgate 2015.

“But it’s Serrano ham You like Serrano ham. Everyone likes Serrano ham.” – “But what are we going to do with it?” – “Eat it.” – “This will go bad within days!” – “No, we’ll just eat it!” – “Alright, tomorrow you’ll cut this thing into nice thin slices and deliver it in portions to your aunt, the children, and the neighbours! Have fun cutting for two hours!”

Paraphrasing, of course. The half laughed and half despairing argument went on for half an hour. And that is why there is a 30 pound leg of ham on my parent’s balcony. I’m going to keep telling this story until I’m 90.

So… guess I’ll wait for a ham delivery tomorrow. Wonder if this works out or if mum makes herself a widow tonight by use of a 30 pound pig’s leg. If nothing else, this was a present to remember. It will probably be brought up as a stern warning for the next, oh, let’s say twenty years.

Maybe next year we’ll get a wheel of cheese to go with the ham, but I better not say anything out loud in front of Dad.

No really, what DO you get if you cross a snowman with a vampire?

Why did I ever think this was a good idea?

I went to a holiday party. You could say it was an office holiday party. I was talked into this. I lasted less than two hours.

At my age I should be good at this. I should be able to make small talk. I should not be in a the middle of a crater of people all talking with each other and around me. I should be able to join a conversation. Not become social ground zero.

But I do. Every time. Without fail. At least no one can complain I’m rude; I’m sure no one even noticed I was there.

Maybe it was because the party came at the end of an already long day. Maybe my social quota was already drained. Entirely possible. Or maybe I’m just the same socially awkward dork I’ve always been. Also entirely possible. And not ‘adorkable’ or whatever that godawful word is (think Zooey Deschanel or any other hot chick with glasses), but really just… sort of there. Nothing to say. No safe topics. I need a workshop. And maybe cue cards.

You know how in theatres they have prompters that help actors out if they forget their lines? I need one of those. In real life. I mean, I feel like that’s a gap in the market. Social Situation Prompters. Imagine all the job opportunities for extroverts!  I could pay one to follow me around inconspicuously and then go to some other person, “Oh, hi! The Grad Student was just telling me about her research, weren’t you?” And then the other person would just have to ask about it, right? Or another, my SSP could just linger behind my back and then when I run out of things to say whisper in my ear: “Weather!” Or with the rise of google glasses they could follow me online and send me my lines directly. Imagine the possibilities!

In reality I just sit there, smile and nod to conversations I’m not part of and can’t even really hear over the din and the music (auditory processing problems, anyone?), feel left out and excuse myself early. Keep smiling. Come up with excuse. Prior engagement. Have to leave now. It’s been so nice. Happy holidays to you, too!

And go home and cry. And whine on the internet.

Prooobably smiled too much. Dead giveaway. Urgh.

And what really breaks my heart is how when I say my goodbyes everyone goes “Aw, already? But it’s barely x o’clock, why don’t you stay?” like I just walked in the door and announced I’m leaving after five minutes. I don’t get it. You won’t even notice I’m gone, I promise.

I mean, I’m not blaming anyone but myself for my lack of social interaction or social skills. It just, y’know, kinda hurts that I can’t do it properly like other people can.

I’m just more of a one-on-one person. Single serve. Elevator, no more than six people. Rehearsed, not improv.

I probably called someone by the wrong name, too. Urgh.

I’ve been listening to this song since I came home:

This girl is about ten years younger than I am. So I guess this make me living proof that this kinda thing does not get better with age.

Urgh.

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.

Nine Reasons I Still Haven’t Quit WoW

It’s been a long, long week and all I want to is kick back with a cup of tea and kill something. My poor little neglected mage is making big soulful eyes at me and I cave, log in, and… and now what?

Okay, so… admittedly, my Warlords of Draenor enthusiasm faded with the speed of a raid boss nerf after every .1 patch update. And we started out so well! New world, check. New enemies, check. Housing, oh my god, finally, check. New pets, check. (What? There’s no such thing as too many pets.) And then the honeymoon stage ended and I was faced with the terrible reality of relationships and MMOs alike: bae ain’t what it used to be.

Maybe it’s not you, Blizzard, maybe it’s me. After all, I’ve been playing since BC. I’ve seen the best of times. I’ve seen the worst of times. You had me go from “What the hell, pandas?!” to “Fuck yeah, pandas!”, and we had such great times, but… times change. People change. Games change. You know what, maybe it’s you after all.

1. I’m more emotionally attached to my characters than is healthy.

Toons are people, too! Somehow, over the years, they accumulated so much personality it’s kind of hard to believe I wasn’t put in a mental institution yet. Or on an RP server. (No, seriously, why don’t I RP? Oh, right, no one can deal with my humour. Or my troll priest’s Jamaican accent.) They all have their own idiosyncrasies and background stories and fanfiction and funny little quirks, not to mention the heavily varied contents of their inventory. (So. Much. Stuff. I still carry around some quest items from long-forgotten and now non-existent BC era quests that my noob self was just too stupid to complete.) Like, my Human mage is very much the hero type, while my Forsaken warlock has a bit of a mischievous streak and is absolutely devoted to her little felhunter. (What? Felhunters are cute, shut up.) Then there’s the Nightelf boomkin who is trying to unify society’s pressure on Elves to look sexy and feminine with her love for RAW MOONFIRE POWER which only comes in the shape of a big fat owl with antlers (it’s a tough life).

…yeah, I may have a problem.

2. Dora the Explorer Syndrome

There are roughly 27 GB worth of screenshots on my hard drive. No matter the content, Blizzard always makes good landscapes. I’m a WoW landscape nerd. I’m also into discovering shit. I’m one of those weirdos that enjoys running literally around continents. The first thing I did when Cataclysm was announced was a last screenshot tour through my belovéd Azeroth. It was then that I discovered – dun dun DUUUUNNN – the original Quel’Thalas which got scratched and replaced by Eversong Forest in BC. You can’t go there anymore because since Cata there’s an invisible wall because gods forbid you see the three and a half Nightelves ruins. Okay, so it was a little anti-climatic in hindsight, but hey, I discovered something! Also, where they put Uldum now, pre-Cata there used to be a tiny Tauren village with a gigantic peace pipe. Also, did you know that at a certain point in Pandaria there’s a flying ghost turtle just chilling and if you wave at it, it’s accompanying you for a bit? Also also, if you go to Outlands Nagrand and fly up just over Throne of the Elements, there is a hut containing a troll woman and lots of children. And bubbling soup cauldrons. Dun dun DUUUUUNNN!

Also also also, there’s something weird going on in Stratholme.

3. Who’s gonna feed all my widdle pets?!

I can’t have pets in real life. So to (over-) compensate I own over 700 pets in WoW. I can’t help it! They’re so cute! They have big eyes and big paws and cute deadly fangs! I’m still waiting for Blizzard to install a cuddle feature because goddamnit! You can’t just give me a cutie like this and then tell me I can’t hug it:

WoWScrnShot_100115_201952

I may or may not have been caught hugging my screen more times than I’m comfortable admitting.

Look at it! It’s a corgi made of lava! Isn’t this the cutest thing to ever drag it’s fiery butt across the floor?

And I feel bad for them, because there’s so many of them I always feel like I’m neglecting one or the other. I also have clear favourites. I’m such a bad pet mom. Luckily they don’t actually need feeding.

4. There’s always something to do… even if it’s ridiculously work-intensive.

It’s not like there is literally nothing to do in WoD. You can grind rep for about a dozen factions. You can earn the achievement that allows you to use your long neglected flying mounts again. You can be all about your base (all about that base, ’bout that base, more missions! I’m all about that base, ’bout that base, more buildings!) and optimize everything and command your subordinates around all commander-y. You can earn what feels like 752 achievements in dungeons and raids alone. However, everything takes time. So much time. So much damn time I can see people debating with themselves whether or not to quit their jobs and move into a hovel near a coffee shop for the free wifi so they can do alllll those things that theoretically could be done.

What am I doing? Waiting for pet battle quests that I like doing so I can buy moar pets! Oh, and fishing. Lots o’ fishing.

5. Bring on the NPCs!

Not only am I too emotionally involved with my own characters, I’m also too into NPCs. I love Our Lady of the Forsaken and if anything happens to her in the upcoming expansion a rather large delivery of very smelly lutefisk may or may not materialise outside of Blizzard HQ. Better yet, in their air conditioning vents. I’m even more into Jaina since she snapped and went crazy on the Horde’s asses in Dalaran. I will absolutely never forgive Blizzard for moving Tirion Fordring and his horse out of Plaguelands, I liked visiting the guy on his little defunct farm! Then there’s all my furry panda friends in Halfhill, yes, I still go there. Sometimes I even do daily quests for them because well, we have so much history! Yes, I’ll water your fields. Yes, even though it is literally raining right now. And it has literally rained yesterday. For old times sake. (Also, there’s a guy called Gai Lan and I just found out that that’s actually a kind of broccoli. I may or may not have laughed for five minutes straight.)

6. “Stuck with you”

Okay, admittedly not a great reason to keep a relationship going, but… we’ve been together so long now, WoW and me! Like… we got the same phone number, all the same friends, the same address, you know, it’s just what happens when you’re together a really long time, the fire just slowly fizzles out, not least because the mage fire skill tree has a long history of getting nerfed and it’s supremely annoying each time. Like, what am I supposed to do, spec frost or – shudder – arcane?! Thankfully, with the higher gear towards the end of each expansion the problem usually drifts away on its own, but still.

7. World Events

I don’t care if I’ve done Brewfest a thousand times in my lifetime. I don’t even care that they removed virtually all the drinking quests (though they were fun, fuck you, P-12 rating!) and the only beer you get to pelt the attacking Dark Iron clan with is now alcohol free. I’ll be there every day, delivering kegs for tokens just so I can buy a grill. Or a flag. Or… sigh… a pet. You bet I’ll be flying around on a broomstick come Hallow’s End with my little Feline Familiar by my side, landing only to wade ankle deep through the candy buckets. I’ll be there next Winter Veil in my garish sweater singing traditional Winter Veil songs while wearing fuzzy warm socks and a winter hat and placing cushions all over Iron Forge so I have somewhere comfy to sit while I own my fellow players with my unbeatable little racing car. I mean, how do you spend your holidays?

8. The concept of it all

World of Warcraft is generally an amalgam of Earth’s most popular myths, taking bits and pieces from all over the world and mashing them up into entirely new things. For example, Night Elves are a mix of Chinese culture and the mythological amazons, Humans and Forsaken are general Central European, while Dwarves are a fun mix of Scottish and Norse culture. Likewise, some expansions are more on the nose about their origins. Northrend is very clearly inspired by Scandinavian and Canadian landscapes, and Scandinavian and Norse mythology. Pandaria is inspired by a number of Asian landscapes and mythologies, and some references are more obvious than others. And Blizzard just goes and ties them all together by the narratives of the Old Gods, the Titans, and the almost weekly demon invasions. I think this is part of what makes the game so great, the fact that you have something familiar and recognizable, but also something new. Humans generally like to hear the same story told over and over again only differently (think of romcoms or superhero movies, it’s the same damn thing with different names and different misunderstandings, but essentially it’s always the same), and Blizzard has a knack for that.

9. How else would I spend my weekends? Going outside? Among people?!

The flame wars in the trade chat are already more social interaction than I need or want. And you expect me to brace the same endless tirades in the real world? Where I’m required to wear pants or any article of clothing?! And were problems are not solved by wanton destruction of mine enemies?! Sounds like hell to me. In that case, I might as well play Diablo.

And that’s my own, personal, totally not biased reasons for still spending too much time playing this stupid time-consuming game. What are your excuses?