February 25, 2007

Kagerou Update Post

Two new pages are online. They're a day late, but still fresh and tasty!

I think in future I'll just announce updates on the Lukadia LJ. That way it will be posted as soon as I update, and not once a day the way syndication works. I am so disorganized...

Another Dream Post

I had a One Piece dream where the crew ended up on an island where everything had been wrecked. Dogs were stranded in trees thirty feet off the ground, half the cats were shaved, all the humans were either wandering around naked and furious, or hiding in their houses with the blinds drawn.

Everyone, including the traumatized animals, ran away and hid from the crew when they entered town. The only local who would give them the time of day was this batshit old man in a cave on the far end of town. He was a mad scientist, of course, and a fellow pariah.

To be hospitable, offered the crew his latest batch of home-brewed liquor, but only Luffy was dumb enough to actually drink it. Oh, and did I mention it was a very high-proof time travel wine? Because the old man sure didn't.

Rewind a day and a half to the bender of the century....

I wish I had time to do a doujinshi, because this could actually be pretty hilarious.

February 23, 2007

Two Blondes, A Camera, And My Ego

I dreamed I somehow met and befriended Britney Spears. This is unusual in its own right, since I don't really know much about her except that the news can't get enough of documenting her breakdown.

In the dream, we ended up hanging out a lot and having the sort of uplifting, life-changing conversations that make you grow as friends. I felt like I was really helping her clear her head of all the bullshit and the drama. It turned out that under the facade she was a really nice person who hadn't really had a lot of time to find a real friend before. It was hard to tell who was real in the sea of fakes and liars that was her life.

Unfortunately, the goddamned fantourage was always surrounding us for a chance to get at her, and the attention made everything kind of strange and strained. Then paparazzi photographers started taking pictures of us hanging out (slumming, in Britney's case). The next thing I knew, we were all over the gossip magazines. Someone had airbrushed the photos to make me look skinny and attractive like every other cardboard cut-out in the magazine.

At that point, I hit the roof and woke up feeling annoyed and betrayed because I had stuck my neck out for Britney Spears and ended up getting humiliated for the effort.

The really weird thing is that I had this exact same dream about two months ago, only it was Paris Hilton. I don't even have any special interest in either of these celebrities, but ay caramba, the symbolism.


Right now, this very minute, outside my window, is an amazing weather phenomenon. Loud snow.

Actually it's just tiny styrofoam-ball lookin' frozen rain, but it makes a wonderful soft rustling as it hits the trees and streets. So I have dubbed it loud snow, and loud snow it shall be.

I'm such a scattered person that I have trouble keeping a schedule, which is distressing because I also crave stability and discipline. As I progress through life, I've left mostly-empty planners behind me like a trail of broken hearts. But these days, I seem to have leveled up a bit.

Recently I bought a desk calendar, and have been using it to good effect as a way to remember which day is Inking day, which is Trash day, and so on. I've also started keeping track of my daily routine via a series of notecards on my desk.

Each morning I pull up one of the cards and write a series of tasks on it until I run out of room or tasks. The list usually has items like "Brush teeth" and "Gym" and "Eat five meals" as well as "Dishes" and "Clean kitchen," which are some of my daily House Elf jobs.

I cross off each task as it's complete, and if I have a cleared card by the end of the day, I write "Good Job!" and doodle big stupid stars and smiley faces all over the back of the card. It cheers me up. My current plan is to keep the "Good Job!" cards and, once I've accumulated enough of them, do something really special to reward myself for being functional like a human being.

On a related note, I kind of want to go shopping for gold star stickers tomorrow. You know, to stick on my calendar to mark "Good Job!" days. It would be shiny. I could show them off to company and they could praise me for being practically a superhero.

Okay, so maybe not so much with the "functional" after all. But who cares, as long as I get a kick out of it?

February 18, 2007

Schrödinger's Mom

I've been off-kilter recently.

I keep re-realizing that Mom is dead and getting nasty little adrenaline spikes. It's like various parts of my being have somehow slept through the whole thing and are now queuing up to hear the bad news one at a time.

"Hey, hypothalamus: Mom's dead. Yeah. Here's a tissue. Send my kidneys in on your way out, would you?"

I look forward to the day my entire body has been updated and fully accepts the truth about My Dead Mom. No more random jolts of sudden realization followed by micro-mourning every time I think about a childhood memory and have to integrate it into this new universe where the context involves Mom being dead.

This process has come to an interesting head. Somewhere in my brain a connection has been made between the sound of a ringing phone, and Bad News. Whenever it rings, I get another goddamn jolt.

It's Mom! I forgot to call her all week again! Or even worse, Oh shit! Mom's died and that's the nurse calling to give me the news.

And then I remember that I've already gone through all of this, and I feel a little bit dumb because Dead Mom is just so old meme and for a smart person I sure don't seem to be absorbing the information fast enough. You'd think it would go more smoothly, as important as it is. You'd think I could just hold a press conference with every fiber of my body and break it to them all at once, but no.

Every fucking time the goddamn phone rings, I have to go through the same little routine. It does no good telling my ears to stop sending that sound straight to the Mom center of my brain.

It does no good arguing with myself that it's not the sound of my Mom kicking the bucket, it's the fucking gym calling yet again to ask if I want to be entered in a drawing.

Seriously, it's a little nerve-wracking. For a split second, every time the phone rings, she's alive. But only long enough for me to kill her again.

And I thought I hated phones before.

February 16, 2007

"White skin still the best skin"

I like to visit CNN for a daily dose of reactionary, poorly written political wankage and tiresome puff-pieces about celebrities. I especially like to record the highly unacceptable freudian slips that make it through their filters and onto the website without tripping anyone's High Wrongness alarms.

For instance, I visited the site ten minutes ago and found the above pictured headline on the front page. I just about choked on my toothpaste. The story itself concerns a rather tragic study about race and self-image that found a majority of black children, when told to pick between a white doll and a black one, would choose the white one.

The study does not conclude that white skin is 'still the best skin.' That such an inappropriate headline ever made it to the front page of a major news site is both telling and pathetic.

EDIT: I have emailed the website.

I was just wondering why my CNN front page has racism on it. I opened the site from my bookmarks like I usually do, and was greeted by allegations of caucasian superiority.

This is not something I'm used to. I actually hit refresh a couple of times, but there was still racism on my screen when I closed the window in disgust.

I would be very interested in knowing precisely which correspondent has discovered an accurate ranking system based on skin color, and why news of such an invention has not yet been revealed to the public.

I'm certain such a device will come in handy with future generations. Children learn so quickly from our prime example.

PS - For those of you tuning in via our feed, please don't hesitate to leave comments via LJ. I can still see them and respond even though I'm technically posting over here on Blogger now.

February 14, 2007

Happy Idiot's Day!

Click for valentine art.

Nick X Tonbo = OTP. Their love is so absolutely unlike Fireball's writing style!

February 12, 2007

Out on the Lake

I was in bed, about to fall deeply asleep, when my cel phone began ringing. I had it set obnoxiously high during the trip to Nebraska, and forgot to turn off the ringer after returning to the Twin Cities.

It was my brother, and he was pissed at me.

Backstory: This X-mas, I went home to visit Mom. It was awesome, and the last time I saw her alive, except when she was lying in that god damned hospital bed, which really doesn't count. She gave me her credit card and told me to spend a certain amount while we were out on the town. She did her checkbook dance to make sure she could afford it, and all was well.

I accidentally took the card home with me to St. Paul with me, and since she was in the hospital barely two weeks later, it got lost in the shuffle. And at some point during the insanity of our first trip down to see her in the hospital, I used the card twice. I stayed well under the limit of what she had given me.

Well, my brother is furious. He claims that the card had never been activated and my using it has ruined his plans to have it cancelled on account of her death, or something. He wasn't very explicit on the details, and I was half-awake. After hanging up, though, drowsiness fled and I spent the rest of the night undergoing horrible dreams that left me feeling even more exhausted upon awakening.

It sucks when the initial glow of reconciliation fades, but I can't say I'm surprised. I've been waiting for this unhappy moment for a while now.

Mom's the one that kept me tethered to that place and that part of my life, and she's gone now. I have burned some bridges, many for good reasons, some because I was wrong.

In a way, I'm perversely glad that, with Mom gone, I can cut myself free from my past without hurting the one person who rooted for us as an ensemble cast. But is that really the most graceful way to honor her memory, knowing how important it was for her that we all learn to share a planet? How far should honoring someone's wishes go before it becomes living for the dead?

There's a point where I will have to say "I love you, Mom, but my siblings and I are better off in a long-distance relationship." She'll understand, but she will be unhappy about it. I think what's really going on is that I know I'll feel guilty about the decision, and attributing the guilt to the emotions of a deceased person allows me to put a step between myself and regret, thus making it slightly easier to make a hard choice.

My sister has two modes, super-happy and incandescent with rage. She is famous for jumping back and forth several times in the course of five minutes between these extremes, and it's become a little bit pathological.

Sample conversation from memory:

A. Dude, don't take that road anymore, the potholes will destroy your car.

Me: It's okay, the car I'm driving has really good shocks. It hasn't bothered me yet.


Me: I just meant--


Me: I didn't mean--


She hasn't been physically violent in years and I've learned to stay out of her way, but things are not good between us. It stems, I think, from miscommunication. She believes that when I get calm and quiet during arguments, it's because I am looking down on her for all her inadequacies and flaws, judging her.

The truth is that I get quiet and stop making eye contact in arguments because I'm scared shitless of provoking her rage, or if it's too late for that, of giving her new fuel.

She blows up because she hates herself and is projecting her faults onto my silence or downcast eyes. The standoff can't help but escalate unchecked because she won't calm down and I can't make her NOT see hidden hatred in my every move. We're like two countries on the edge of a full-scale nuclear war.

Neither one is able to let the past go. She's still mad because she thinks I'm laughing at her. She also knows I blog about her behavior and that the portrait is not kind. For my part, I'm mad because she went insane one time and invited her drug friends to come into my house and take home whatever belongings they liked.

This is not something we can just put behind us or patch up. I cannot forgive her because she's destroyed our trust so many times. I either trust someone or discard them; there is no middle ground. With my family, I can understand a little of how I grew to be this way. But it's cold.

And she can't prove to me that she's a different person, because any sudden moves from her direction immediately throw me into Def-Con 2, and I'm sure it shows in my demeanor.

Sadly, this standoff resulted in one of her famous explosions during a visit with Mom. She wanted to paint Mom's nails, but I had already been warned not to do so by a nurse because they need to check her nails periodically for cyanosis. She listened briefly to my explanation, then got the idea I was talking about the inconvenience of having to move the finger-clamp monitor from finger to finger, and overrode me with her plans to get around the problem.

If I could go back in time and NOT have taken that brisk tone with her on the third repetition of the cyanosis explanation, I would do it in a heartbeat. I had to know it would set her off. It did, and she snarled at me and stormed out, ending her first visit of several days in negativity. If there's one thing we didn't need in that dark and horrible room, watching Mom gradually slip away, it was yet another shallow feud ending in the words "No, I've been DISMISSED. You have DISMISSED me." followed by storming out of the room.

For my part, I blame stress and grief and maybe even a subtle urge to just get the explosion over with. I don't know. It was bad. At least Mom knows how we are and, even if she was aware of the mess, would understand that this wasn't a relationship-ender, but merely the latest in a long line of failures to see eye-to-eye.

My brother and sister are also at odds with one another. He's had it with her temper and unpredictability. She's furious that he (as the youngest) was given Power of Attorney over herself (the oldest).

He's angry that she argued with Mom's decision to intubate and scared her with dire warnings so that she was not in a good place when she went under.

She's pissed that he retaliated by not giving her the password for daily status updates over the phone, thus causing her to be left 'out of the loop.'

He's pissed that she blew up on the Baptist minister at Mom's unplugging. She's furious that he made her feel unwelcome to Mom's wake, resulting in her not attending either the wake or the Baptist service.

And now she's extra mad because she ended up not even hearing about the Mormon service, and couldn't go to that. In my opinion, she made her desires plain by choosing not to come to the other services, and her anger and rejection and tendency to derail conversations led to an unfortunate mistake, resulting in her not being invited to this final service .

She says she would have wanted to go, but she bears some responsibility for making it impossible to please her. If either one of them had been willing to behave like an adult, even an angry adult, it would not have gotten to the point where one of Mom's own children didn't go to any of her services. He snubbed her, and she reveled in the rejection and turned it into Law.

She will regret this later. I know I sure do.

And by letting their squabble occupy so much of their time that they both individually chose to leave their other sibling happily ignorant of Mom's sickness, hospitalization or the high likelihood that she wouldn't make it this time, they have both blown it big time with me.

I tried to tell myself they didn't mean to ignore me until it was too late to say "Goodbye" or "I love you," but all it would have taken was one fucking phone call. One email. Before she was intubated, she even asked them to call me, and they didn't. She asked them to call me and they didn't.

I've tried to put the outrage and anger behind me, but I'd have to be a Zen monk to not feel a sense of absolute, crushing rejection. If either one of them had called me, I wouldn't have spent the days before her intubation playing fucking video games without a care in the world. I would have been on the phone telling her to be strong. Reading to her. Trying to keep her company.

I get that when someone dies, a natural response is to try to make sense of it by creating a villain. Your kid falls off a jungle gym, so you sue to remove playgrounds from schools. That sort of thing. You want closure, so you dwell on the things that weren't done, no matter how trivial.

This is different. This was the single most important thing any family could do for its out-of-town members during a crisis, and I got left by the wayside because they were busy snipping at each other and forgot about the real world.

If one or the other had forgotten to contact me, all could be forgiven because it wouldn't have been too late. But they both knew they should call me, both knew Mom wanted them to call me, and both failed to do so without having any explanation for it later other than "I forgot."

This is a hurt that can never be righted. I have to live with it. So begins the struggle between my mother's very good reasons for us to love one another and stick together, and my urge to scorch the earth between us forever.

But back to the money thing. My brother is having trouble making ends meet now that Mom's SSI is no longer helping pay the rent. I'm sad to say that my wealthy relatives have been oddly silent since she died. My aunt actually told my brother not to pay the Funeral mill, and to just take a $2400 hit on his credit and get on with his life.

She does not understand that credit is actually quite important to members of the working class; she was just trying to be helpful. She did collect $700 from her church and friends to contribute to the cremation fund, though, so that's nice.

My grandfather lives on an Ohio lakeshore and has a nice boat. Apparently he lives off of the interest of the family estate. He married Grandma and became step-father to her kids, but he has never bothered to bond with any of them or their own children. It's funny, but I was 22 when I finally realized why he had always been "out on the lake" or "out on the tractor" every time we asked about him during Grandma's holiday/birthday phone calls. When Grandma was sick for the last time, he pulled the "no, you can't speak to her, you'll just excite her" shit on MY Mom, and it devastated her.

Still, he sent along a hefty $500 to help pay for his step-daughter's cremation. Grandma would have smacked him, but she died a few years ago and was frail enough by then to have made little impact anyway.

I gave my brother $1000 to help with expenses. I have no steady job, no money, no husband or wife earning bread, no inheritance that I know of. When Grandma died, she did so with full intentions of including her kids in the will, but he will probably leave everything to his vile yuppie spawn anyway and we will be offered their second-hand clothes and scuffed yard sale furniture.

(True story, one X-mas the people in this family invited my Mom and siblings over for gift exchange. They proudly presented us with taped-shut garbage bags of castoff clothing. I remember one of the other gifts we saw changing hands that day was a set of keys to a very nice car. Top shelf people, really top shelf.)

I raised the money via the internet. I think it's pretty funny that people who have never met the woman coughed up more than my rich grandfather to see her decently cremated and returned to her children, but there you are.

But now my brother is mad at me for spending the money Mom gave me for a Christmas/birthday gift. I didn't realize that it would cause him trouble. I'm cutting up our cards and closing the shared bank account to avoid future mishaps, but I've failed him because he is under stress and I've just gone and added to it.

My family is broken. Mom, I'm sorry, but I don't see this working out without a miracle. Even with a mountain of past transgressions more or less forgiven, we will never be friends. It was good that we siblings were able to come together (with some thorns) during this crisis, but what comes next? What comes after there's no assholes left in that scummy redneck town to gang up on?

We three siblings have always been a source of anguish for my Mom. She watched us grow from contentious little Welfare brats into adults whose rocky loyalties simultaneous pleased and horrified her. We've all been taught by long experience to believe that every little needle-prick is the point of a dagger. It's too late to pretend that a new start is possible, and we're too jaded to want to waste our efforts. And yet, now that she's gone and it's no longer we three against the world, we've lost our excuse to remain family.

Lonely, yes. I don't want to disappoint her, wherever she is, so I guess I'll just keep trying to fix this until I can't anymore. Sometimes all you get is a shallow phone relationship, and sometime's that's enough.

Out on the lake... there but for the grace of God go I.

February 11, 2007

Open mouth, insert foot.

Despite its reputation for leading the world down a hedonistic path, "Hollywood is one of the most homophobic places on the planet," de Shields says.

I can't compose a sentence that will accurately communicate the "wuh?" feeling I experienced upon reading this quote. So, I will instead allow my jaw to hang slightly open in mild disbelief, and let the reader intuit the rest.

Quoted from here.

EDIT: I think the subtlety may have flown over a few heads. I'll clarify: this poorly-worded quote directly implies that homosexuality is synonymous with hedonism. And that's kind of fucked up.

Cat Head Theatre

This is really spectacular.

February 10, 2007

Frigid In Minnesota

This morning I boiled a small pan of water, took it outside, and threw it into the air. Only two-thirds of it exploded into white vapor. CAN THIS BE THE END OF WINTER?

But seriously. A couple of nights ago, I burned the packet of wishes I had collected at my Mom's memorial service. They were basically little pieces of paper with private notes written by people who knew Mom. I asked for private thoughts and swore not to read them. Two people requested that I do so, and they were lovely.

The wish cards went into a small envelope, which I placed a bowl on the stove-top and then set on fire. The stink of burning paper proved too strong for the kitchen's puny fan, so I relocated to the bathroom midway through the burning. I propped the tiny bathroom window open about five inches to let the smoke and fumes out, and this worked wonders for the air quality.

When they were cool, I took the ashes and emptied them into a little zip-loc bag. The process was eerily similar to the heartbreaking task of scooping my Mom's ashes into another bag just like this one, but this time it was actually very mellow and nice and not creepy or horrifying at all.

After the ashes were safely sealed in the bag, I crunched them up good to destroy any sentiments that might not have been fully incinerated. Then I slid the packet under Mom's box.

Two hours later I was in dire need of a shower, but all was not well. I had left the window open all that time, and the bathroom was now freezing. Not just freezing. Frozen. As in, the shampoo and conditioner were solid as rocks. There was a thick rime of ice on the toilet's surface, and I couldn't flush until it thawed out. All this from a 5x18" gap in the window.

The shower experience itself was pretty awesome. The air was cold, the water super hot. My lungs got a spectacular steam treatment from the white clouds that quickly filled the bathroom.

Later that morning, Jesse's thrown water erupted in a proper and spectacular FLOOMP of vapor and not a drop hit the ground. Minnesota is a strange place.

PS - I've noticed quite a few people, even Northerners who should know better, have expressed disbelief at the existence of this phenomenon. You just want to cry for them.