Love that just didn't work out.

Too much information here, but once a month, my body swells with retained water, my uterus prepares to violently expel its cushy little sofa of blood and tissue meant to prepare a zygote which never arrives, and dysmenorrhea (read: cramps) manifest: constant, and agonizing.  During this period (see what I did there?) I usually curl up in the fetal position and watch a lot of Disney movies.  Mostly exclusively Disney movies.  I can always tell when I'm a few days away from that special time in a woman's month, when I suddenly HAVE to see Gaston, Ariel, Radcliffe, Meeko, Mrs. Potts, and the gang.  And today when I was watching the extravagant finale of Pocahontas, it turned my ever-working brain to an interesting topic.  Love...but not just regular old love, but love that never seems to happen.  Or happens, and never works out.

(seriously Disney....wtf happened to you?)

This was particularly interesting to me, thanks to the novel I'm writing.  Honestly, the 'superhero' aspect is requiring my full attention right now, and I haven't had the time to sit down and figure out how the two main characters' love is going to resolve itself at the ending. As this is the first book in the trilogy I'm not really worried about it.  I always know what to do when the time comes.  But I am primarily a writer of tragedy, and to me, the best love stories are the ones that end sadly.  

That may be morbid, but it's true.  And to open my heart here and be really honest: I think that's how my life is destined to go and why I cling to stories of tragic love.  I thought marriage would change how I felt, but it hasn't.  I just feel in my heart of hearts that with me being who I am--and other deep-seated and unnamed factors that I'm just too exhausted to rant about--that I will always be alone at the end of the day.  Even if I do end up having children one day, I will still be alone.  I used to be part of a huge family with over twenty children and a group of people whose bonds transcended friendship, and I was still utterly alone.  This bothers me on and off in different amounts at different times, depending on my mood, but it's probably also the reason I prefer and can better relate to films like Pocahontas which end on a really tragic note.

That was me saying Pocahontas II was a mistake, by the way.  Disney films, like most rock songs of the 70's, really needed to get a grip on when to stop.  There's a proper time to end.  And Pocahontas III wasn't it.

MOVING ON.....I decided to highlight several of my favorite "tragic" love stories:

Jack and Rose--Titanic 

"A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets.  But now you know there was a man named Jack Dawson, and that he saved me.  In every way that a person can be saved."

I couldn't believe the grand love story that I'd missed when I was a kid.  When you're 12 all you really want to do is cry over the ship sinking.  But as a woman re-watching this movie, I feel so strongly about the bond between Jack and Rose (and between Leo and Kate in general) and it really affects me.  And as much as I love Rose's character and the amazing change that love brought about in her life, I feel more like Jack.  (lol *drowns in Atlantic* god I'm so morbid, does anyone read this shit?)   Jack has had it rough, but he somehow still manages to get out and see the world, and he has a lot of appreciation for it and can, albeit uncomfortably, fit in with different crowds due to his intelligence.  He also loves very passionately and tries to persuade the people he cares about to share his enthusiasm for life.  He's not only a poor kid and a traveler, he's also an artist.  I don't have Leo's boyish charm, but otherwise we are twins.  Still, even though I am the female Jack...I would've pushed a little harder to get on that flotsam at the end.

Spock and Leila--This Side of Paradise (TOS)

"I love you---I CAN love you!" --Spock

Oops, my nerd is showing.  Let me just tell you though; this story is one I can relate to so personally it's a tragedy in itself.  In this awesome episode, The Enterprise crew beams down on a planet for Spock to find that a woman he met six years ago--Leila--is working as a botanist there.  Her attraction to him is obvious, but when plant spores infect the Vulcan and lower his inhibitions about emotion and showing and feeling things like love, he now has the ability to do what he never could before---both tell and show this woman that he loves her.  

The spores don't brainwash or otherwise change Spock; his deep-seated emotions have always been there. But with the help from the plant he's able to embrace love and for a period, everything is all sunshine and rainbows and sexy parties.  But Kirk, at risk of losing his whole crew, finds out a way to end the effect of the spores: heavy negative emotion such as anger.  So he basically taunts Spock until Spock punches the wall and tries to kill him---and just like that, the euphoria of being able to feel is gone.  Spock is back to normal.  

Instead of explaining how this tragedy ends, I'll just show you the ending of the episode.  It seriously makes me cry, again because I can relate to it better than anyone could ever possibly understand.  Not only that but the acting is superb, especially on Nimoy's part.  He always shocks and amazes me with his ability to suppress emotion and let it still shine through brighter than a beacon.  Enjoy: 

Link and Midna--LOZ: Twilight Princess

"Am I so beautiful that you've no words left?"

I hope no one doubts me again when I say "nerdy". To be fair, I have a picture of my Zelda tattoo on my "about me" page, and one of my cats is named Midna after this character.  You were warned. Anyway. The short version of the story: the hero, Link, has to work with a devilish imp named Midna to save the world from evil.  Midna has her own prerogative and is not interested in anything but herself, but likewise needs Link.  She's a very headstrong, impatient, bossy character whose trauma evolves from the fact that due to the evil in her land, she's stuck in this "impish" form.  Despite her huge ego and 24-7 nagging at Link to do better, the two become an amazing team and best friends, by the end of the story.

When it becomes clear that there's no other way, Midna sacrifices herself and unveils that she has the most power of anyone fighting these dark forces.  Link is traumatized by the loss, until he realizes that by some mysterious power (likely the goddesses, which the game is known for) that she's been given life again.  When Link rushes across the field to greet his friend, he stops in shock when Midna stands up, her true form revealed.  With the darkness gone, she appears as she really looks: the Twilight Princess.

image credit: aliceazzo on deviantArt

Midna, unfortunately, doesn't belong to the same dimension as Link, but has a mirror to travel between the worlds of Light and Dark.  When she departs, she famously says, "Link....I.......see you later," before crystallizing a tear and disappearing to her own realm.  The moment she leaves, the mirror shatters into a billion places, thanks to her crystallized tear.  And that was the end.

And last but not least:
(and no words do this story justice so I won't try)


An adventure with pills.

Boy, that title makes me sound like a real winner.  But the story is even better. Or maybe, so I think.  Grab some popcorn, dig in.

So about those pills....
Thanks to my panic attacks in January-February, my doctor prescribed me some "preventative Xanex" as in, "just in case." I've only taken one or two pills since then, when I'm having a freak out.  But for the most part I haven't needed it.  Jeff, Brad, Devin, Josh and I decided on a get together at Boondocks in Draper (a small arcade/go karts/mini golf) outing.  It was so much fun.  But since my sleep schedule is so backwards and I would have been asleep for most of the activities, I took a Valium the night before because NOTHING ELSE will knock me out.  Not melatonin, not sleep aides, not honey chamomile tea, not meditation, nothing.  It was my last resort.  The Valium allowed me to sleep for maybe two hours and I was up again.  Angrily I took two Xanex.  And then I had a nice, quiet, peaceful sleep.....for about thirteen hours.  Benzo systems GO GO GO!!!

When I woke up, (in a haze) it was time for Brad to pick me up.  It's about a half-hour drive from my place to Boondocks, so we were merrily on our way, in his red Mustang, cruising down I-15 without a care in the world.  Then the unthinkable happened.

His car stopped working.

We were at a left-hand turn lane.  Brad jumped out, popped the hood, turned on the hazard lights.  The people behind us weren't getting it (ah, Utah drivers) so I stepped out and started directing traffic to move past us.  Poor Brad.  He's very high strung, and almost as neurotic as me, so he wasn't doing too well.  His car had stopped, he had no idea what to do to fix it, and he was on the interstate with a doped up pill popper.

After traffic got the idea that this car with its lifted hood and flashing lights and driver and passenger standing outside weren't going to MOVE, Brad--still near-panicking--instructed me to call Jeff.  So I did.  Poor Brad had to stop what he was doing several times to push me away from the traffic line.  I kept wandering into the other lanes.  Had it not been for Brad, I may at this moment have become a splatter on the road.  I was curiously unfazed, and called Jeff.

The conversation went something like this:

(me)  "hey........"
"we're uhh.  We're on the um. Interstate."
"Okay.  Well um......see you soon?"
"We're uh.  Stopped.  We're stopped."
"We're not. The car's off."
"Where are you?"
"The interstate."
"Is there something wrong with the car?"
"Uhh. Yeah.  Brad's looking at it.  We're not there yet." (genius me)
"Okay um." (He seemed at a loss as to what to do.)
"Well....just wanted to let you know."
".......okay. Well, Devin's here.  Let me know if you don't get it working again."

Luckily after that GEM of a conversation, we did get the car working and poor worried Brad insisted on taking backroads, making us a grand total of an hour and a half late to our outing.  But that's all right, we had an amazing time anyway.  They wanted to play mini-golf. I protested.  The only two times I've indulged in golf, I've ended up getting kicked out and/or having to pay for the golf clubs I broke.  My anger doesn't give me golf patience.  Brad pointed out that I was still doped up on medicine and would probably be fine.  He was right; I OWNED that golf-field for the first three or four holes.  I was on top of my game like never before.

But then, about hole 8, I lost it, and started slamming things around, and my golf club ended up in a tree, so we figured go-karts was a better idea.  The rest of the night was a blast.  I really love my friends.

(Brad is on the left, Devin is on the right)

(Devin, Brad, Jeff.)


What I'm Painting.

So if you read the entry below this you'll hear how whiny I am.

Whiny and sick and feeling like I want to murder everyone.  I'm so wrapped up in annoyance and frustration over the fact that my novel is dragging that I can't focus on anything else.  Or, at least, I couldn't.

Until I read this entry on one of my favorite blogs, the Nearsighted Owl.  I've been following (read: stalking) Rachele for awhile now, and have always found her blog to be one of the most interesting, enlightening, and honest I've ever read.

I have male tendencies sometimes, in that when someone makes a statement, I take it at face value and I assume that it's always true and never changes.  Despite the fact that I'm always fluctuating and changing.  If someone says "I like my body" I assume that forever, every day, and every moment, they are perfectly happy with their body.  I have no idea why my brain does this, because again my self-confidence is all over the radar and rarely stays the same.  But it's just a weird part of how I am, maybe a reason why I lack connections with people, because usually when someone says "I'm fine" they're not.  I rarely look further once I get an 'I'm fine.'

I digress from the point of this post.  What I really was getting at is that in most of Rachele's posts, she comes across as confident and happy with her body, which is something I truly admire.  I could relate to what she calls "paranoia" and I have the same issues about myself, both inside and outside of the blogosphere, over my very 'devout' (lol) stance on atheism.  I feel like a big misfit, but I will always stand up for how I feel about it and I will always be myself.  But still, sometimes it's disheartening being the weirdo.  Or feeling like you are one, rather.

Anyway, the part that I read that even in my cough-syrup feverish daze made me kind of angry and kind of sad was the simple sentence: "I will probably never be the ModCloth Blogger of the Moment and nobody is going to draw my portrait or mold me out of paper or clay."  Despite being pretty much just an online stalker, this made me sad because I think Rachele is beautiful! And I love reading her writing.  And goddammit, I decided I would paint her portrait right then and there.

Either determination, or large doses of narcotics, worked in my favor:

I was so focused....


drugged up....that I didn't really take pictures at good intervals.  I also am not used to painting skin tones, or glasses...this may look amateurish. Oh, and I was SO PARANOID I'd put her nose ring in an "off" position. So even when my nerves are numbed by antibodies coursing through my system, I am apparently still a perfectionist and neurotic.  Don't know how to feel about this.

Anyway, I love you Rachele!!! You've been inspiring me for months now.  I love your blog and I hope you like the picture!

Writing rant, nothing new here.

As I've mentioned in several earlier posts this week, I've been sick.  It started on Sunday with a really stuffy head, then progressed into a spiral of fevers, sore throat and muscles, blurred vision, migraines, sinus congestion, and laryngitis.  I personally blame Derik because he had this crap last week.  The ONLY reason I caught it is because my immune system was compromised after a flip-flop in the snow adventure at the theme park.

But it came at a really bad time.  You see, I've hit an impass when it comes to my novel.  The plot introduces a rag-tag group of characters who eventually band together to become the newest superhero group.  The problem? I don't know much about super hero stories.  I'm going for a comic-book-style setting, that's always been my idea.  And I was rolling along just fine until I start dealing with the issues of realistically writing about a group of oridinary people turned superhero.  It isn't just something you can breeze through.  It has to be done just right.

I devised a great plan: I would download an unnecessary amount of movies that dealt with the same "style" of my book: dystopia, futuristic, sci-fi, funky and offbeat, comic-book superhero.  I had a few movie buff friends help me out with appropriate movies, made a huge list, and chose a day where I would do nothing but sit in bed, watch a marathon of inspiring films, and take notes about the storytelling process, as well as other things I'm clueless about--such as how to write an appropriate reaction from the public.  (Your superhero's rise to fame is so delicate...)

Problem with said plan? I'm sick as all unholy fuck, I can barely see, I haven't had a damn thing to eat other than chicken noodle soup and miso soup in a week.  I'm groggy and cranky and sad.  My house looks sloppy and I can never feel inspired when there's crap laying around messily.  I have been looking forward to April 21 for like, a month, as my big inspiration day, and now it's here, and I'm whiny.

I bought a pair of red rose earrings in Stockholm, and I found one of them on the floor today, meaning the other one is lost (probably my cats, they tend to carry around small things for fun) and I just cried and cried, because I was sad over it.  I watched Star Trek and cried over that, I took a shower and the water wasn't warm enough, so I felt like crying over that but instead just threw around a lot of shampoo bottles and whined.

Being sick is rough! This is the first time I've had any kind of viral infection in years.  I don't know how people who are frequently sick deal with this shit.  I power work through migraines and stomachaches all the time, but this is a whole new level of sick.  It's so shitty.  Derik tells me I should just be patient, understand my body needs time to recover, and take the time off. But when your "job" is writing a story you don't even feel like anyone will ever want to read.....and you can't even muster up the energy to sit at a damn chair, which sounds SO EASY but trust me, is SO HARD......you feel like shit.

So, here's my supposed 'day of awesome inspiration' and I'm sitting here feeling sorry for myself.  Goddammit.

Fuck being sick, and fuck emotions.

Also, unrelated, I made a pretty thing.  The picture was taken by my brother.  It's the Appalachian foothills (where we grew up. And apparently he lives there now. Whatever.)  The text is from some religious quote, but I thought it was relevant nonetheless. Atheists have just as hard of a time, if not harder, with thinking we're worthless at the end of the day.


Painting with progressive photos.

I just felt like drawing an expressive face today.  I needed to see another human face to make me feel better. This little doodle took me maybe 20 minutes to whip up, including the 2 second photoshop at the end for the texturing.

 I almost like the first few pictures best.  I may use them for some graphic art somewhere down the line.

Enjoy the pictures, any feedback is appreciated.

Rough outlines begin.

Shading, my favorite part. Or maybe blocking the outline is. Eh, I don't care. Both are great.

I always worry that I'm shading too dark on the face.  As usual, I didn't mind the finished product.

More facial darkening and structuring the neck and shoulders.

Color is always healthy.

Add a scratchy texture and blam, done!

I have no idea what I'm doing.

"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you." -Walt Disney

I could probably blame Titanic, or I could blame the conversation I had with my friend David last night about true love (and why I am ceasing to believe in it and how that affects me negatively) but for whatever reason, today has just been a horrible day. I had nightmares about Sweden, just a bunch of disconnected events that left me waking up crying, and I haven't been able to shake my melancholy mood since then.

I registered for school today, and got into the EMT course I need.

I should be happy.

I should be thrilled that I'm fulfilling a personal dream; a goal that means more than I explain.

But I just felt nervous.

Part of my dreams last night included me being lost in a Swedish university, which I think was an outlet (or a brain troll) for me being so insecure about going back to school. I can't explain this insecurity at all; all I know is that "in my day" I was the teacher's pet. The perfect pupil. From biology to creative writing, I owned the classroom. Now I'm old, insecure, and in a program that teaches you how to be an Emergency Medical Technician. I have no idea what to expect. Who to expect. What to do. Just walking to the campus and registering for classes I felt like some horribly misplaced moron.

Yeah. That's how I feel doing EVERYTHING school-related anymore.  And that's how I feel walking around in Sweden most of the time. 

Anyway, despite the fact that I have a ballet, a Bach concert, a pedi/mani, a chiropractic exam and alignment to look forward to, I feel so down today.  I hate having deep emotions in dreams that carry into my day.  To better explain; I'd posted recently about my method to help finish my novel, which among other things included cutting out a friend.  That friend was the focus of my dream last night, and this just proves my theory that my brain is the biggest fucking troll I know.  I couldn't focus on writing/other things because of all the energy I spent thinking about other things and people (and he was one of the main ones) so of course, after I say my goodbyes and get re-focused on writing, my brain finds a way to bring the same person into my subconscious and turn them into a diabolical villain who is intent on hurting every feeling I have.  

Well played, brain, but you can go fuck yourself.  

I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow.  And before I forget, a DIY. Or something of that nature: 

My kitchen wall over the stove looks terrible.  It has that layer of grime and filth you can only get from a stove manufactured in the 70's.  I don't know what the orange layer of goo all over the walls that make it look like a Silent Hill game is actually made out of, but I know that everything, even bleach, won't do anything to take it off the walls.  We're not allowed to paint our walls here, so I finally got sick enough to fake my way out of having a gross horrible wall.

The answer? Contact paper.  3 bucks a roll at Rite Aid.

I knew this stuff, despite being the bane of my existence when I was a teacher, would come in handy. And so it has.  (I had a before pic but apparently deleted it out of my phone. My bad y'all.)

Here are a few quotes I'm loving, which keep me focused.


Update and My Friend Brad, Part II.

So this post is going to cover a few things, about what's been going on in my life as well as stuff for next month. I'll start off though, by giving an update on my friend Brad, who I wrote about recently.  After his suicide scare, I panicked and begged to see him as soon as possible, and we made two dates: one, Friday, to catch up at a local Denny's, and Saturday to go to Utah's theme park, Lagoon.  Luckily Brad was up for hanging out both days, but of course I had to go behind his back and invite our mutual friend Jeff to Denny's.  Brad's face lit up when he saw Jeff stroll into the restaurant, and I was tickled to death.  None of us have been together since last September, so this was a thrill.

(Blame the sun for the bad lighting. My camera's flash can't compete.)

We chatted for hours, and ended up going to a nearby park to spend even more time together. It was a blast. I love these two guys.

The next day, Saturday (yesterday) I dragged Brad out to Lagoon and we rode rides ALL. DAY. LONG. We had a ton of fun.  I screamed on nearly every ride, which is surprising, because I normally don't...I guess it's just been awhile! My adrenaline was sky high.  Brad laughed hysterically at how scared I was.  We also rode the Skycoaster which was probably the scariest moment of my life; you're hoisted up...SLOWLY.....in a flight suit and after a signal, you pull your own rip cord and plummet to the ground at 80mph.  Attached to a bungie-like cord, you swing back and forth for awhile until you're lowered back to the safe, beautiful, wonderful ground.  I think I almost broke Brad's arm.  He, however, was laughing manically the whole time, so I guess that's good.

I even got him to smile once!! yipee!!

By the end of the day, we'd been pelted with rain, snow and hail, and we were both exhausted and cold, and extremely satisfied.  So ended our adventurous day.

Friends are great. Salt Lake City is great. Even spring rain is great. Roller coasters are great.  This outing definitely helped me expend a lot of the frustrated energy I've had all winter with being away from my friends and feeling so alone.  I feel even more ready to tackle this novel by summer's end.  But speaking of writing:

May is National Foster Care Month.  

I have thought a lot about things I can do to contribute, which is really difficult for me because of all the things I rush to meet head-on in life, talking about foster care and reliving those memories is not really at the top of the list.  Or anywhere close.  But in addition to volunteer activities, I thought it might be good (and healthy) for me to write a little about foster care.  Since I have no other real way to structure it, I decided to do a ten-day challenge with a foster care theme.  Probably, these entries won't be very pretty to read, but this is something that's been a huge part of my life, and I feel that it deserves to be talked about, despite my reluctance to do so.

So this is what I've put together.  Obviously a lot of people won't be able to write anything remotely relating to this: count yourself lucky.  Foster care is not something you want to cross off on your 'to-do' list.  Anyway, I've decided to dedicate a new page on this blog for the upcoming month and what it means to me, so I'll be working on that.  And speaking of working on my blog...

Do I want to change my blog background? 

I like the polka dots, but I'm also a fan of the damask.....I just can't choose which one suits the blog better.  Someone help.  Anyone help.


My friend Brad.

Let's talk about Brad for a minute.  I'm sure he'll appreciate it.

I met Brad when I worked for a call center back last year, after coming back to Utah.  He was younger than me; I was 23, he was 18.  He pranced around with a happy-go-lucky manner wearing polo tees and unnecessary amounts of bracelets.  Typical "I just got out of high school" kind of guy, and I didn't pay him much attention.  Him, or any other co-workers.

But something happened, along the way.  Brad and I as well as a few others ended up getting really close, and we were actually so disruptive at our job that the instructor (an American version of Hitler who was 80ish with a black belt, named Larry of course) separated us from sitting next to each other.  And though part of Brad's personality was the fluffy 18 year old idealism that everyone who has just graduated has, I sensed some other part of him, and that was the part that I got to know over time.  Brad is extremely intelligent, logical, and a deep thinker who has a very, very old soul.

Being an INFJ as I am, I often draw conclusions about people based on nothing but my intuition, and rarely has this method failed me.  I sensed that there was a lot more to Brad than what he shows people, even though he's up front with questioning, and in some ways an open book.  He's a sensitive kid, and his heart is too big to exist.  After I left that job (and at some point, so did he) we fell out of immediate contact, but would sometimes Facebook IM or Skype.  He enlisted in the Air Force, and though I was sad, I was also proud and excited--with my brother recently out of the Air Force, I know how life-changing it can be.  

Then, when I was in Sweden, I got the feeling (again, intuition operating on an unknown premise) that I should get in touch with Brad.  He'd been silent for awhile, but I figured that was the preparation for the military.  A lot of people, including Ron, went through a period of "withdrawal" due to leaving home and loved ones behind.  I tried several times to get in touch with Brad, and it didn't work . I knew he didn't leave for the Air Force until May, so right when I started to get extra-concerned, Brad messaged me.  

He had attempted suicide and luckily was pulled to safety by a policeman.  I don't know the details, but I know it was a close call, and now Brad is staying with his brother, still in a fragile mental state and sounding really lonely.  We had a long phone conversation the same night that I found out this news, and in my over-protection and desperation to give Brad something to look forward to, I arranged a weekend outing to Utah's theme park, Lagoon.  He seemed to genuinely be happy about this forceful shove into doing something social, and so this Saturday, weather permitting, I will be riding roller coasters with my young, sweet friend who has a heart too big to exist.  

Never take your friends for granted.  If they're going through a quiet period, go ahead and be nosy and check up on them.  Even if they get mad.  Make a point of being there for them.  I for one am a private person, I don't really use my energy on people--especially people I don't know well--but people who are a big part of my life, ie my friends, deserve me to be there for them, when they need it.  So I will be dragging Brad out and about and forcing him to ride roller coasters and laugh until he feels better.  I just had to post this entry because it suddenly rang true to me how quickly we can lose people we care about.  And I had to write about how much I love Brad, with his wit and adorable naivety.  He's years younger than me, but again an old soul, and someone I've had a lot of laughs with.  Here's to a lot more.


Myths about atheists.

In a place where an overwhelming amount of blogs have the little sidebar link with "My Faith" or "Our Beliefs" on it, it's kind of daunting sometimes feeling like I'm the only atheist out there.  In fact, living in Salt Lake City, sometimes I feel that way anyway, but the feeling seems to intensify as soon as I step on my Blogger page.  I don't mind, but it definitely puts me at an odd end when it comes to writing about atheism. I never really seem to know what to say, and I'm awkward in general, so unlike things like writing or nature where I can just type for hours and not notice the clock, I sit here thinking about my beliefs and seriously, have no utter idea where to begin.

However, atheism is a huge part of my life.  Pretty much the only social networking I do (other than blogging) is geared towards atheist activism.  I have an atheist testimonial video on weareatheism.com. I have subscriptions to atheist newsletters, newspapers, and magazines, which I like to sit and read and feel like a sir.  Atheism is gaining ground in America, and for someone who grew up in a small backwoods Baptist community, this is entirely fascinating to watch develop. Of the few causes I consider myself an "activist" in, atheism tops my list.  So, I'm going to do my best to show a few of what I've come to find are the most common myths about atheists/atheism, and explain why, at least from this atheist's point of view, they are myths.

1. Atheists in general are unhappy/are missing a piece in their life.  I get this one all the time.  I recently got really upset when someone blatantly accused my brother of being unhappy "and not knowing it" (he is an atheist as well.)  The road to atheism is very rarely driven by people who don't have a lot of curiosity and a lot of questions for the world.  We find happiness in all the things non-atheists find happiness in--companionship, family, good food, funny movies, sports, whatever it is that floats your boat.  As far as the "void" that we get talked to about a lot, most of us have tried to fill that with religion at some point in the past and for whatever reason it didn't work, so we turned instead to reason, logic, and science.  And for most of us, in different amounts, that fascination with the Universe is the only thing we can equivalate in any terms to a void we've filled.  I'm not saying that all atheists are happy Atomic Age families---but to categorize us all as generally unhappy is completely unfair and unrealistic, when there are just as many religious people with issues that can make them unhappy.

2. Atheists have never given religion a chance; they don't understand what it's about.  False.  We DO understand what it's about.  We just simply don't agree with it or find it reasonable to accept as the truth.  I have never personally met an atheist or talked to one, or listened to an atheist's story, and NOT heard "I tried praying" or "I tried to believe/make sense of it all" and couldn't.  I myself have been in and out of so many different churches I can't count them.  I worked at a church for two years.  Again, the path to atheism is rarely, for Americans at least, something we're taught from birth.  It's always a story of deep consideration.  And it's always difficult, because the amount of families who are accepting is marginally smaller than the amount who are not accepting.  When my own mother heard that I believed in evolution she broke down in tears and blamed herself.  (I was 12 years old.)  I won't get too personal here, but I will say that I've had moments where I really needed peace and comfort, I begged for it, and was met with silence.  This has happened since I was ten years old.  So, don't assume that every atheist is just a smug brainiac who has always been self-assured of their godless existence. Rarely is it so.

3. Atheists have no morals/or; nowhere to get their morals from.  I think this one bothers me the most.  Morals are not exclusive to the Bible (or other religious text.)  Morals come from understanding what is acceptable and decent in this life.  Atheists have interactions with friends and family just like religious people.  Atheists also have their own decisions to weigh and make just like religious people do.  We have to live with ourselves the same way anyone else does.  The difference is that our only "Judge" is ourselves.  We must make decisions that affect ourselves and others based on what we feel is right.  And honestly, usually what atheists feel is right or wrong does not hugely differ from the standard "religious" texts.  We know killing is bad.  We know stealing is bad.  We know you should apologize when you're wrong, and be grateful when something good happens.  We love and cherish people in our lives and don't wish to hurt them.  The only thing missing out of the equation is literally a book with a list we have to follow.  Independent, we make our own conclusions and though they might not be based on God's Word, they are almost always based on deep personal reflection as well as logic and reason.

4. Atheism is a religion. I've tried to understand this one and I simply can't, yet I hear it all the time.  From everyone to random forum users to politicians.  If atheism is a religion, bald is a hairstyle.  Off is a television channel.  Dead is a career. There is no religion in the equation.  We may congregate and support each other, but we do not worship a deity, which is what religion is.  So, wherever this myth has formed from--it's just that, a myth.  And on that same note, we are NOT DEVIL WORSHIPPERS OR SATANIC.  We don't believe in God, so we likewise do NOT believe in Satan.  I literally have had this happen to me, verbatim:  "So are you a Christian?" "No, I'm an atheist."  "Are you satanic?"


5.  Atheists can't be thankful or grateful. This one is pretty commonplace too, which surprises me.  I guess it does make sense, when one is religious, to thank God for every grace and moment of gratefulness.  That might explain why religious folk don't often understand who or what we thank.  And the answer to that is, we don't have a who or a what.  We just are.  We just are thankful.  Becoming an atheist was so infinitely humbling for me, and I'm still humbled everyday thanks to my choice.  When you see things like the Hubble Deep Field or listen to someone like Carl Sagan speak about the Blue Dot, life becomes so indescribably fragile and fleeting.  Atheists don't believe they were created for any cosmic purpose, rather that our very complex existence in itself is one of the Universe's amazing accomplishments.  In other words, a fortunate accident.  A "lucky" mashup of all the necessary items for our survival.  And that, when you consider the scope of the Universe itself, is uplifting and humbling at the same time.

So when I am thankful, no I don't thank God, rather I just enjoy the feeling of whatever is making me happy at the time.  I understand how insignificant yet how astounding our race and our planet are, and that is the basis of atheist living.  It may sound lonely, especially to a devoted follower of religion, but you have nothing to worry about.  It's liberating and enjoyable.  If it wasn't, for us atheists, we would no doubt be religious.  Our choices are for us.

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.” 

--Lawrence Krauss


Spring has sprung, and I have shit to do.

One of my most-used lines from a movie is in the movie Richer or Poorer, where the Amish friends ask Tim Allen if he wants to come with them to town.  He's busy working on repairing a wagon or something, and he mutters in a caustic tone, "Ehhhh I gotta lotta shit to do around here."  Simple, but it has stuck with me for years.  I DO gotta lotta shit to do around here.

And now, after I go over my list of spring-y things, I feel the need to give a personal update.  It isn't often I dig this deep and get gritty about what's going on, but when it needs to happen I don't turn a blind eye.  I am hoping I can look back on this post in a few months and see that the choices and feelings I have are validated.  So let's see what's going on in my public world before tuning to the Alex channel!

Good news before anything else.  My friend Madi and I are talking again! She's been my best friend for years, but we got into a big fight in 2011 and mutually decided we were never ever speaking again ever.  Luckily that's changed.  Madi is a huge part of my life, and has been even during not talking. It was (as she described) like a bad breakup; things would remind us of each other and we'd get sad.  So much to catch up on.  It feels great to have her in my life again.

1.  Madi and I at her 22nd birthday.     2.  A photo I took at the Great Salt Lake.  We found this amazing fish skeleton and dubbed it 'Godfish.'       3. New Year's 2010.  My makeup is smudged because the party theme was 90's and I was a grunge kid.    4.  Madi's 21st birthday, on the fun bus to Wendover, NV. We mutually agree this is the best photo of us ever taken.    5. Madi has questionable fashion taste; this particular outfit was a converted nightgown with a belt.   6.  Another photo I took, this time on an abandoned train car by the Great Salt Lake.  

As for the other stuff, here's an overview:

--I am getting my driver's ed taken care of after the 15th of this month.  By April's end, I will be the proud owner of a license, for the first time in my entire 24 years of living.

--I'm also taking care of school this month.  There are several things I still have to do, like take the placement test, figure out how much financial aid I will receive, and actually register for the classes. So thrilled and yet nervous.

--I bought a Groupon for $100 worth of yoga classes (only $39!!!) So for the first time I will be taking yoga classes. I'm really nervous about that too. I don't feel I'm ready for it, but that is the stupidest reason to not do something.

--My spring/summer travel plans include going to Portland, OR (to see Madi!) Denver, CO to see Rammstein, Norfolk VA to visit Ron, and Athens, TN to meet with my friends from many years ago.  It's a little overwhelming, but just think, I've already crossed the ocean and back this year. I know this will be an amazing ride.

--I've decided to start a few features, or recurring posts, on this blog.  Every now and then I jump on a linky party, but I'm not really dedicated to any one thing.  They're fun and a great way to meet new people, but this is my blog and it's time I started writing about the things that matter to me.  So the ideas I've picked out are as follows;

Friend of the Month: My friends are my family.  I wanted a more organized way of writing about them so that I can remember our fun times and introduce the blog world to the people who mean the most to me.  So I thought a fun monthly feature would be to pick a friend and write an entry about them.  I'm hoping I can write each entry on the first of the month, but if not any time will do.

instagr.am Friday: Oh god, instagram for Android is out AND I AM HOOKED.   I could never do the "photo a day" or photo challenges with any intent, but this is different.  A week in instagrams seems like a perfect weekly feature  (and one I've seen scattered here and there on other blogs.)

What I'm Painting: Self explanatory.  I like sharing my creativity here.

Writer's Rant: I could dedicate a whole blog to the trials, tribulations, and rewards of being a writer, but then I'd feel really complainy and negative.  Still, this post will be on an 'as-needed' basis, and it's nice knowing I can take a break from other posts in order to focus on my true passion.  Probably these posts will be really vulgar and scatterbrained.  Hence the word 'rant.'

Well, that's about it! I'm really excited for all these fun new things.

And now to the personal part....

Feel free to stop reading here.  This entry covers a heavily personal matter and doesn't really apply to anything other than what's going on in my work world and love life.  It's probably bitchy, but derp, this is a blog after all. And it's important for me to get this out of my system. 

Ron and I have not been doing well.  That would be the epic understatement of the year, but I don't want to get into the how and why my marriage is not meeting my expectations.  He is going away soon for 10 months.  A part of me will miss him, and of course I will still be sending packages and doing emails and Skype and all that stuff, but for the most part all I can feel at this point is relief.  I can't deal with the emotional energy; he reminds me of the big vacuum cleaners in Ghost Busters.  Except he's sucking the verve and emotional strength from me.  It's not fair and it's preventing me from being productive.

Which brings me to my next point.  This is another deeply personal thing, but I've come to understand that my biggest fear is not reaching my potential, namely when it comes to writing.  I know I have the ability, and I know a lot of hard work is in store, but my mind-numbing horror that I will be one of those women who is 40 with three kids and says "oh I used to want to be a writer!" or "I should've written a book, but now I don't have the time."  It's a bit of an irrational fear because I am a hard worker and I get a lot done, but it's a fear nonetheless.  But that fear and insecurity paired with all this emotional bullshit is too much.

For the past week or so I've been waking up in a melancholy mood. I usually only get about 3 or 4 hours of sleep at a time, and when I wake up I'm usually either groggy, or bushy-tailed, but not sad.  I realized yesterday (rather, the slave-driving micromanager inside me realized) that I needed to cut down on complications so that I can focus on what's important right now, which is being productive in several areas: school, writing, getting my license, saving money, and being healthy/keeping up with all my therapy and appointments.  In a rather quick, intuitive decision I cut one of the most important people in my life out.  This was really hard for me to do, but logical, because this is a friend whose friendship I also put a lot lot lot lot LOT of emotional energy into.

Thankfully, being the good friend he is, he seemed to understand my reasoning, though I wasn't really the best at explaining myself at 3am while blubbering and crying and trying to type on my phone.  Immediately after this foul deed was done, I decided to have a little talk with myself.  It probably sounds crazy, and I've been called that and worse, but I just needed a way to vocalize and deep talk with all parts of me: the micromanager,  the overemotional ten year old, and that little pathetically small logical voice I have that lurks in the shadows of the realms of my mind.

The conclusions that I reached were actually profound.  I am being far too hard on myself when it comes to work.  I'm the worst boss ever because I'm a huge bitch who doesn't reward herself for anything, and seems to never be satisfied with anything I do.  This leads to feelings of inadequacy and an almost crippling notion that everything I do is pointless. I've decided it's in my own best interest to stop being so hard on myself, and produce a healthy amount of discipline, instead of the reign of terror that goes on in my head.

I also decided that the feelings of worthlessness themselves are pointless.  The people who love me, love me for a reason.  The people who hate me hate me for a reason too.  Sadly the only people who actually do hate me are my family, and they hate my drive, independence, and will to never be satisfied with the ordinary (or what they consider ordinary, which is absurdly skewed.)  I respect my loved ones more than any role model or idol that's ever existed...yes, even Till....and I realized that I need to put faith in the fact that they appreciate me, and obviously see something that's worthwhile.  When you're your own slave driver it's hard to acknowledge at face value that people love you because there's some good in you, but it's true.  Not just for me, but for everyone.

Another decision reached was that I can't expend this emotional energy on Ron, either.  It's not fair that I had to cut off someone who in no way ever antagonizes me, yet I give buckets of attention to someone who abuses my feelings on a daily if not hourly basis.  So, for the rest of the time that he's here, I simply can't engage him in any way.  It's kind of harsh, but our fights take a much worse toll. That's my plan, and since he has less than 90 days left before deployment, it's entirely feasible.  I have no long-term solution for anything. All I know is that I can't wait to get on the right track of being productive.  The one where I'm not demeaning and traumatizing myself day in and day out.

Being a writer is hard for a lot of reasons, but I think the most difficult thing is finding the balance in being your own boss. Perhaps entrepreneurs can relate more than anyone else.  That balance takes its toll on you; you have to be supportive of yourself, disciplined, you have to have the faith that this unfinished work is going somewhere worthwhile, and if it isn't you have to stop, change your course of action, and you have to do all of this entirely alone.  It helps to have loved ones around you (and can be impossible without them) but at the end of the day, it's all you.

That takes a lot of strength, and character.  I have both, but I'm just recently learning how to utilize them.  

I feel positive about my work.  I miss my friend.   I am angry at the unfairness of losing a friend for someone who doesn't appreciate me.  I can feel the change in the tide now; I'm moving forward into a very successful time in my life.  I feel loved.  I feel creative.  Everything will be just fine.  


Painting in progress--preview!

I normally wouldn't post a work in progress, but I wanted something to link up with Vintage Wanna Bee's Talent Tuesday soooo, here it is, my latest painting in progress.

I hate this painting. No, I LOATHE it. It's made me so unsure. So self-conscious. So outside-my-comfort-zone.

But I'm probably just being an insecure artist.

It's not finished, but I don't know what else to do with it at the moment, so I'm just going to give you a sneak peek at the artistic process. If you can call slamming paint angrily onto a canvas art.

(It's not THAT blue, my camera just sucks and won't pick up color)

materials: pre-stretched canvas, acrylic paint, nylon brushes 2 days