Wastelander's Ball

So, I wanted to wait until some official photos came out to post this, but I'm just kind of writing things on the fly now!  I felt so excited about this event and it's been in the back of my mind so much that I just want to get the details of the experience down before I forget them.

The same people who put on the Wasteland Weekend event tried something new in 2017--a Wastelander's "Ball"....post apocalyptic, but fancy.  From what I understand it obviously was a hit, and they announced a second annual event sometime toward the end of that year.  I got tickets for Allyn and I as a birthday gift to him (and presented the present as an old, worn invitation stuck inside a Nuka-cola bottle) back in January.  We immediately got to work on our costumes.

Allyn started watching a show, Blood Drive, right around this time and fell in love with a character named Julian Slink.  Slink dressed fancy, and post-apocalyptic, so Allyn did a bit of a costume mixed with a cosplay on this one.  I just went with full on froofy ballgown, because duh.  The only faction regal enough to pull that off is the Legion, and that's exactly what I modeled mine after.  The past few months has been filled with scrambling to glue, cut, paint, spraypaint, and mash together everything.  We pulled it off with help from Niki and Derik--I couldn't believe it, but we looked fantastic!

Getting There

LA is a ten hour drive for us.  We got the weekend off and I used my master of travel planning skills to decide the best way to do it was drive to Primm, Nevada, stay overnight, then go to the party/stay in LA, and drive home Sunday.  It worked out so well that I have to once again applaud myself.  Frittering away all over the states and the globe has paid off so that I rarely end up stumped about travel plans, I don't overdo my schedule or energy, and I don't end up STRANDED IN THE AIRPORT---looking at you, Arlanda 2009.  Holy shit, that was almost ten years ago.

Anyway, Primm was so great--I'll definitely stay there again.  Whiskey Pete's was remodeled and the rooms were just as fresh as anything in Vegas, with none of the crowd (just kidding, there was a crowd, this big desert race was happening that weekend...) and all of the amenities.  I actually had pertussis and bronchitis during the trip that got so bad I ended up with full-blown laryngitis, so I crashed early.  The amazing thing about Allyn is that even while I slept in Nevada, he was working on my codpiece, and finished it in the hotel room.

After exploring for a bit--the Bonnie and Clyde car is in the casino on display, so that was super cool to see, and we also made a pit stop at my home away from home, Goodsprings--we got back on the road with a few hours left before the big night.

I'll get back to the road trip in a minute, but I just have to make my usual sappy, sentimental post on how much this area of the world means to me.  I'm lucky I'm just a few hours away.  New Vegas shaped my life in so many different ways, it almost feels like a religion.  Standing in the Goodsprings cemetery is always indescribable, and I got to take Allyn there this time.  

Anyway, we left Goodsprings with rocks in our pockets and headed to California.  Sunny California, where we were instantly bombarded with rain the entire drive.  I am not complaining much, because it was beautiful and humid and a lot like home, and probably helped me breathe a bit better.  We arrived at the hotel and pretty much started costuming up.  I did Allyn's makeup and my makeup, and everything was way easier than I expected it would be due to good planning on both our parts.

The next part was definitely the most stressful: getting to the venue.  I had already booked us a parking spot in a garage, but this was downtown LA and I had never been.  I also don't wish to ever go again, because that place is just awful.  I hate cities, and I hate people, and I hate everything...but this was especially bad.  I've never seen so many homeless people, some of the freeway passes looked like District 9.  I'm quite used to poverty, but urban poverty is somehow especially devastating to me, likely because I am so unfamiliar with it.

Anyway, we get to the parking garage and the angry little dude tells us that our truck is too big.  Allyn risked going down anyway and I think we cleared with about 1 centimeter left.  From there we could walk a few blocks to the venue.  We were so early (good planning what can I say) that we had time to eat.  We stopped for drinks at a bar nearby and got a lot of compliments.  We also got some hamburgers and a homeless guy asked for some food, and Allyn gave him a burger and was really annoyed about it until I pointed out that the guy had guts coming up to the only people in the place dressed fucking ridiculously terrifying and asking for food.  Haha.  (We later saw him again and he was profoundly more cheerful and grateful after the food, so that cheered Allyn up a bit)

The Party
When I went to my first Rammstein concert I had no idea what to expect.  The 'typical' Rammstein fan is a surly angry goth in a trenchcoat with a spiked collar, and I thought that me not fitting that stereotype would make me an outsider.  When we all gathered outside the Denver Colosseum though, my fears were washed away as I saw every age, race, social class, and style of human there--and the giddiness and love of Rammstein was present in every single person.  We didn't even need to introduce ourselves, we just babbled and nerded out.

Wastelanders are the same.  They're my people, even if I don't know them.  You show up and stand there waiting for the venue to open, so excited you could burst into flame, and nobody cares what you sound like or where you come from, they just want to talk about the apocalypse n shit.  It's just amazing.  I never connect with people and I absolutely don't connect with crowds--I mean, I literally left in a panic during my EMT instructor class because we had to do a group activity--but this crowd you can't help but connect with.

I'll take this opportunity to mention that Allyn and I actually first "bonded" over Wasteland Weekend.  I'd been talking to a fellow guard about the event, and the guard turned around and mentioned it to Allyn after Allyn glimpsed a Mad Max wallpaper on my computer.  I don't think that guard realized that he was accidentally creating an avenue of us to start talking, but that's how we did!  Feels really good going to an event together after that legacy.

Onto the ball itself!  The venue was decked out, it looked AMAZING.  We were like kids at a candy shop.  I still couldn't speak at this point but it appeared everybody around me was so drunk or happy they didn't even notice.  Maybe it just went well with my imposing character to glare silently while Allyn translated whatever I needed to say.  I didn't get too many venue pictures, but it's because I was too busy having fun, really.  We watched some aerial dancers, and participated in a really cool group ballroom dance lesson.  Interjection--the instructor was so professional and maintained her composure while being surrounded by total weirdos, most of whom were already inebriated.  She was snarky and hilarious, perfect for the Wasteland ball.  Also, even the ultimate introvert-me-got to mingle with a lot of people because we kept trading partners.  This is the kind of interaction I can get behind--a minute or two of dancing aaaaaaaaaand go away now, repeat.

You can see Allyn in this photo, he's the top hat in the lower right corner.  I think I'm in the bottom left, but it's hard to tell.  Anyway, after the dance lesson there was more music and a performance by Hell's Sirens, some really awesome bellydancers.  The final performer opened her piece by walking around the audience and painting inverted crosses on random "chosen" onlookers, in fake blood.  She marked one guy near us and with every ounce of willpower I conjured up enough of my voice to say "Now you're fucked."  He shrugged, "Yeah....well, I had a good run."

Another item of note--we ran into a maker of uranium bullets, which fascinated me so much he seemed amused at my awestruck gaze and gave me a uranium bullet bracelet, and he was the only person who knew who Allyn's costume was supposed to be.  He'd worked on the set of Blood Drive, and that's pretty much the coolest thing I've ever heard of.  We were both nerd-level excited.  I was wearing my Vault 34 shoes, and showed them off to a few people who mentioned that I was with the Legion.  I was too sick to even attempt dancing after the lesson, but I guess while I was in the restroom a girl came up to ask Allyn to dance.  He declined her! What a jerk!  I told him next time he'd better say yes.

Anyway, we ended up leaving early because the very light exercise in dancing just became too much for me.  I was feverish and sick and disgusting and couldn't talk or move.  I didn't mind leaving early but felt bad that Allyn didn't get to enjoy the ball for longer.  You know how these things get as the night progresses.  At least I lasted as long as I did, which is surprising, because I was reeeeeeeally sick.  I collapsed at the hotel pretty much immediately and slept way too late the next morning.

Going Home

It's always nice to go home after you've had a good time out.  Allyn and I stopped at a random gas station to use the bathroom, but everybody else in the world was in this one lone gas station (going home from the race I mentioned) so we opted to just go out in the desert a ways and pee.  That ended up turning into a mini off-road session with the rental truck.  We also stopped at a deserted..who knows what?  It looked like a gas station and restaurant, but had long been taken over by raiders.

Edit: I went and googled and apparently this place was once called Halloran Springs.  Wow! What a difference.  So cool to see the 'before.' These days I'd like to think the surviving architecture could be renamed "Eat Passy."


a) can I just do like Myspace Tom and cash out an empire and spend my life doing photography? I'd be happy to photograph this shit forever

b) isn't Allyn such a dreamy hunk?  I love that he loves exploring the dredges of the world (and prefers them) just like me.

Anyway, that pretty much sums up the trip.  I can't wait to go back to the Mojave later this year, to Vegas.  I have a better appreciation for Southern California and won't mind going back to the various Wasteland events we're sure to go to.


The Ritual



I very rarely get excited about movies.  I am a complete movie snob.  I went through a period in my early 20's where I didn't even watch a movie for maybe three years?  I get so annoyed knowing the clock is moving and my day is wasting and whatever I'm watching is poorly written or acted, or both.

I love horror, just, in general as a part of my life--haha--but unfortunately horror is one of the genres least likely to impress a total snob like me.  So on the very short list of movies that I enjoy, the slots for horror are even more limited.  This sucks for me because like I said, I love scary stuff and being spooked and ghosts and nightmares and horribleness.  Movies just take the "cheap scary" lazy route (one of the main reasons video games are superior.)  I roll my eyes at gore, I sleep through possessions, and every ghost that I get excited about ends up being an over-the-top spookfest at the end of the movie or doing like the movie 'Mama' and turning into a Tim Burton edgefest.

I found the movie on a whim because I was bored and Netflix was available.  I freaking love when I have luck like that.  I was so enchanted with this movie that I stopped whatever craft I was doing to just watch, enraptured.  The wind was blowing super hard that night, we had gusts up to 97 miles an hour, and the CREEP FACTOR was SO HIGH, just sitting there in the dark with the wind howling through the walls and doors.

There's so much to love about the Ritual.  Honestly, the opening scene where Rob dies was really stomach-churning for me.  Like I say, I roll my eyes at gore, but it was subtle and realistic, which made it way "scarier."  From there the movie really took off.  I thought the pacing and momentum were great, and even though they had some pretty cliche 'horror story in the woods' opportunities here--cabin at night, creepy wooden idol, weird Swedish hillbillies...they really did well with them.

When Luke woke up from his nightmare and realized he was outside then rushed back inside to find everyone in chaos I was legitimately terrified!  Stuff like this is just really eerie and that's what I love.  It's the same reason I prefer horror video games: plot building, characterization, atmosphere, more atmosphere, a sense of dread, and did I mention atmosphere?  Specifically the sound direction was great--there was no music, just the ominous 'something in the woods' snaps and pops and ooooh I'm getting creeped out just thinking about it.  I grew up in the woods and can attest to how terrifying they get, even in the middle of the day with the sun shining.  

Another thing I loved is that the 'creature' was actually shown.  That can either pay off or be really cheesy and so far most people who I've convinced to watch the movie agree that it paid off.  So many movies do a cop-out and make something Christian (demons, devil, blah blah blah same old crap) and pray the monster away that I have gotten accustomed to my hopes being crushed.  This story actually stuck to a Nordic bastardized creature and wow!  That character design.  I'd play that video game.  No seriously, I loved the way it looked, it added so much to the movie at the end.

On the same "everything can be bible-shouted-at-awayed" annoyance and its blissful absence here, this movie had less religious reasons for Luke's survival and more human ones.  He overcame his guilt, his "pain" as the one follower called it, and I think that's beautiful.  Maybe a bit anti-climactic as to the method, but I really enjoyed his angry scream into the wilderness.

The only head-scratchy part for me were the draugr-esque like people in the attic at the end.  They were severely creepy and I LOVED the scene and the setting on of fire, but I wasn't sure who they were.  Really old worshippers? Original bodies of worshippers who were now in younger bodies? Punished souls? The dead?  I need more info, Ritual, pls.  

Just a mention about Sweden--I had no idea when I hit 'play' that I was watching a movie supposedly taking place in Sweden.  Honestly if they hadn't stressed it I wouldn't have known.  The terrain just looked...not Swedish (it's mostly flat, thanks to ice caps squashing it on their way down) and as another friend noted, if they were there in winter there would be no daylight, and if they were there in summer, there would be no sunset.  Day and night seemed to progress normally, which makes sense when you realize it was filmed in Romania, nowhere near the land of the Midnight Sun.

I think those are minor details though, only because the mood of the forest was so good and spooky.  I'll suspend belief since this is literally about a Loki-child monster that eats people and gets worshipped by Deliverance Swedes.

So anyway, check it out!  That's it from me until we return from our California Wasteland Adventure!!! I'm so excited you guys.


What People Misunderstand About Me

So, I was looking through my journaling prompts and this one really caught my eye:

 What’s the one thing that people always misunderstand about you?

JUST THE ONE? angst. But there's SO MUCH to tell.

Actually, the first thing that came to mind when I thought about that question, is how people always assume I'm friendly or social or outgoing.  I actually talked about this in another entry:

"I can't imagine you not being social!" or "You're so social!" No, I'm a faker, I hate all of you, and you're annoying, go away and leave me to the garden. But instead of expressing that, I smile and nod and say thanks....

So really let's talk about it in depth, since I never do.  What people see from me is most likely an eager hostess, who loves to talk and have meaningful conversations and probably interesting stories and more social grace than you'd expect from someone raised by wolves in Appalachia.  I don't know when this shift happened, but it was sometime in adulthood.  As a kid and teenager I was more of the quiet weirdo who wore homemade Led Zeppelin shoes and a trenchcoat.  Haha.  Truthfully I had no desire to stand out or interact, because I'd never been urged to do so by my family and foster care was not the place or time to blossom into a socially developed human.  My parents, my dad in particular, actually lectured me to keep my 'head down' and stay out of trouble.  I think this likely came from his time in prison, as I've heard others who have learned similar, say so.

Whatever the cause, I was not urged to be social or friendly under any circumstances.  My parents were borderline xenophobic, and held themselves and us in high regard; we were better than others and it was by their grace that they bestowed conversation upon people.  (I still maintain characteristics of this mentality today.)   Add to that the fact that I was abused and lived in poverty; I had all the traits you'd expect from a child who endured that environment. Yet there must exist in me some charm that I'm unaware of, because people started talking to me when I was an adult and began enjoying my company.

I'd say I started to come out of my shell my final year in high school, and when I moved to Utah at 19  I really began socializing.  Again I don't really find myself witty or interesting or fun to hang out with but others disagreed, and I had friends and went to parties--a lot of it was superficial, but a lot of it was also genuine.  Still, my introvertedness stuck out like a sore thumb.  I cried at the prospect of spending the night at a friend's house when I was around 20--I only ever slept at home and being away from home for that long was too much to bear.  I honestly thought I was insane for awhile and just suffered through these idiosyncracises, before I got older and wiser and had a better handle on who I was.

As it turns out, I much prefer written communication to verbal.  I prefer online friends to friends in person.  I hate and avoid eye contact.  The vast majority of social courtesies exhausts me and smalltalk makes me want to kill someone.  Even genuine and fun encounters are really terrible for me.  Many times I've been out with friends, either drunk or sober, and my friends are having an obvious blast and comment on the fun we're having and my inward response is basically

The good thing about being me is that I am happy to eschew every single appropriate fraternization and be a total hermit.  I guess other than my work commute I was a complete shut-in for...five, six? years.  It was glorious.  Maybe I was coping with all the shitty forced interactions that partying and having friends involved...who knows? 

I really found a happy medium in Sweden.  Swedes are notorious for being awkward, quiet shut-ins who ignore everyone.  The part that isn't so well-known is how Swedes are behind closed doors: unnaturally warm, caring, concerned, honest, loyal.  To be friends with a Swede is to be friends with a true person, instead of one of the multi-facted Americans (not that one is better than the other, I'm the latter myself.)  Somehow in this society of "it's okay to not talk to strangers" I did a lot better socially and really found myself enjoying hosting.  Hostessing? Does it matter?  I like to take care of people I love, that's it--if I could do that remotely I probably would.  

So fast forward to today.  I can socialize, I can party, I can have guests over and enjoy entertaining people.  But I hate it.  People seriously underestimate how much I hate it.  I go into a state of depersonalization every time I have to maintain eye contact with someone.  I struggle when holding the simplest of "how's the weather" dialogues.  And yet, because I am caring and warm, people automatically think I am also social and love to entertain.

I don't.  I really truly hate it.  It's a part of life that I endure rather than enjoy.  And when I say this it's always met with "oh yeah sure me too" or "I get it, I'm a quiet person too!" I'm not fucking quiet, man, I just HATE being around other humans!! It's not just smalltalk, it's not just forced interactions, it's every single social event and close friend that I have.  One of the reasons my friends are so special is because they know, understand, or appreciate that I need my space, and for some reason they keep me around despite my hermit nature.  

So! Let's clear up this misunderstanding...just leave me be, I truly hate human interaction.  And no it's not "just for strangers" and no it's not because I'm "mean" (though I am pretty mean!) and it's not just "being an introvert."  It's an actual aversion like a vampire in the sunlight and you should count yourself extremely lucky if I show up at your party--it means I do care about you very, very much.  


My Favorite Book(s)

I didn't feel like going in order so I picked one I actually feel like talking about:

What’s your favorite book/movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?

A few things came to mind when I saw that question...namely my "big two" movies, Life of Pi and The Grey.  I've actually already written about the Grey although it was forever ago, and I'm pretty sure I wrote about the life of Pi on my now-defunct Wordpress blog (it's a great platform, but too much maintenance for someone as bored and disinterested in MAKING AN IMPACT as me....) anyway, what a bummer!  I'll give them a brief mention.

Nobody who reads has a single favorite book, right?  I have two that rank top favorite out of anything ever, even Jane Eyre, so here they are:

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury was the epitome of storyteller, and the thing I love about this book is how it really feels like you're a kid when you read it as a kid, and yet it feels like you're an adult when you read it as an adult.  I read it when I lived at home and I was around 12, and these horrifying scenes of Mr. Cooger going backwards and turning into a creepy boy (why are the gingers always the creepy kids?) and the Dust Witch and her balloon really truly kept me awake at night.  It was such an eerie, wonderful tale.  But rereading it as an adult I found myself enjoying the symbolism between the two main characters (Will and Jim, light and dark, good and evil, willpower and temptation...etc) as well as being in 10000% sympathy with Will's dad.  One of the themes of the book is aging itself, and I think as an adult the scariest thing besides that Dust Witch is how real the scenes depicting the father's struggle with his age feel and sound.  When I reread it I didn't even have kids....I'm betting if I reread it when Ender's eleven I'll be super depressed.  Still......great book.  Great symbolism.  Great imagery.  Set in the perfect era.  Expressive and fantastic. Oh and Mr. Dark probably started my crush on guys in stovepipe hats.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
This book made it on my memorial painting for my mom's death; it was one of the rare books we 'bonded' over.  I say 'bonded' because after she finally let me read it at 14 years old I just kind of stared at her in abject horror and she nodded fervently, and that's pretty much how everyone reacts to this book.  (I saw the movie much later and was extremely disappointed in it) Chief is such an amazing character, and his admiration and love for McMurphy is really touching amid all the just downright horrific things that happen in the story.  The symbolism again is really strong here, but the themes are of course, establishment and mental health...really such a progressive book for its time.  And the narration! My god.  Here just read it.
I don't fight or make any noise. If you yell it's just tougher on you. I hold back the yelling. I hold back till they get to my temples. I'm not sure it's one of those substitute machines and not a shaver till it gets to my temples; then I can't hold back. It's not a will-power thing any more when they get to my temples. It's a [...] button, pushed, says Air Raid Air Raid, turns me on so loud it's like no sound, everybody yelling at me, hands over their ears from behind a glass wall, faces working around in talk circles but no sound from the mouths. My sound soaks up all other sound.

Ugh, SO MANY GOOD PASSAGES LIKE THAT.  And the humor in that book is just perfect.

Okay, I can't help but mention one third runner up:

Intensity I knew I had to read this book when it was told to me that one of my foster dad's daughters had put it in the freezer because it scared her so much.  Haha!  To be honest, the protagonist reminds me of myself, and it's just a grueling and terrible and painful book.  I like pretty much anything by Dean Koontz but this book is in a whole different realm of amazing.

 Honorable mentions: (aka my 900 other favorite books...)   Black Beauty, Great Expectations, Behind the Attic Wall, The Witch Returns, Harry Potter series of course!, Dark Matter: A Ghost Story, Jane Eyre, Brother Odd, and Frankenstein.

That's about all I have time to write; I might do a part 2 for the movies!