A stupid update and stupid Ebola

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I realized that I haven’t been posting lately and although I’m sure no one has noticed, I have, and that right there goes against the whole point of this blog experiment. This is not to say that I haven’t tried. I went and started about half a dozen of these but then got too overwhelmed or tired to complete them. So here I am with a brief synopsis on my junk, which I may or may not go into further detail on at a later date.

When last I posted it was shortly after my cousin’s memorial service. It’s been really hard, and affecting me in strange little everyday ways – but also in big ways. Like how I celebrate Christmas sort of ways. This year has been upsetting and disruptive to my routine, traditions and things that make someone like me – someone with major anxiety and depressive issues – on edge.

My great aunt, who is really my grandmother (she was there for me like a grandmother when her sister, my actual grandmother, wouldn’t be), suffered a series of strokes that have left her barely able to think, see, hear or speak. The matriarch of my family, as well as the single wisest person I know, has now lost everything, is in a senior living facility, and her life is being dictated by this monster of a cousin-in-law whose motives in the whole situation are dubious at best. I feel so entirely helpless in this that I don’t know what to do. TheRapist has tried to help me with it, but she doesn’t understand our relationship. She doesn’t get how for the majority of my life I felt that only one person in my entire family understood me, and I’m losing her: systematically, and in most despicable ways.

A terrible run in with the cousin-in-law has also started a strange thing in my family. People by and large are on my side because this woman is particularly offensive. However, it’s making things hard in other ways.

My house is entering its fourth year of renovation. Meaning that my entire house is in disarray, half of it has little to no electricity and no lighting, many of our belongings are in storage (including stored in my studio – thereby preventing my being able to use it) and it’s just not a big enough house for this much disruption. The main reason this is happening is because my father insists on doing these renovations by himself, but he doesn’t want to do it. He’d rather play with his boat or his band. So a project that could be finished in a weekend or two has taken nearly four years. Any interference from my mother or me is met with hostility and accusations. It’s created an environment of stress and resentment that is just too much right now.

Especially considering that my mother has atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. We finally got the heart failure into remission when she just made all of her stress worse and now it’s acute again. Awesome. Add to that my father quitting his fucked up (once epically awesome job) for a new one, and having to wait for the new health insurance to kick, it’s been a ball over here.

And it’s not just my mom who is sick. Our ancient greyhound is not doing too well either; and we don’t expect to spend another Christmas with him.

Personally I’ve not been in a good place. I may have to have a surgery next year that I’m not really on board with but am afraid I am without choice. My anxiety is at epic levels (obviously), I’m unemployed and unemployable. I am now, for the first time in years, officially broke. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Everything has been coming at me from all angles (even more things, things that I don’t want to even mention, lest I well up or throw up), and just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my grandmother called crying yesterday. My grandfather isn’t well, and instead of going to the doctor or the hospital, he’s refused medical treatment and aid. He won’t let us move him or let the ambulance take him. He’s announced that he wants to die and won’t get out of bed and eat.

So right now there’s this epic vigil going on at my grandparents’ house. We’re all just waiting for him to knock it off or die. And seeing as he is a stubborn old fool, and he isn’t well to begin with, he’s going to slowly die in his bed, breaking the hearts of his four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. And there is nothing we can do about it.

For the first time I really don’t think that I can handle this. It’s literally too much for me.

So there’s that. My completely bullshit life, and the reason I’m not really up for much socializing or generalizing or blogging.

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Before I go, I do have something I’d like to say about this Ebola outbreak. There’s been a lot of panic, a lot of bullshit reporting, and apparently even some ignorant and ridiculous conspiracy theories. But what it comes down to is this:

The reason why Ebola is spreading through Africa uncontrollably right now is because of poor sanitary conditions. The poor sanitary conditions are a direct result of having no access to clean water. This is a larger, much more terrible, much more difficult, underlying problem that needs to be addressed and no longer ignored.

Having no clean water is a major and horrific reality that you almost never hear about, and that most people in the western world don’t give a shit about. But the fact is, around a billion people worldwide have no access to clean water. An estimated 345 million of those people are in Africa alone. So now these diseases that are rare, that are containable – hell, some that should have been obliterated ages ago – are free to go unchecked because there is just no way to maintain sanitation when there is no sanitation to begin with.

What is happening with the Ebola outbreak in Africa is only an issue with us in the Western world because it’s starting to affect us directly. And like most things that happen around the world, they get ignored until they affect us directly. It’s sad.

Coming up with new treatments that only first-worlders can afford, or doing special new screenings at airports is ignoring the real issue and placating the few. It is the equivalent of walking into the most used room of your home, seeing a steaming pile of shit in the middle of the floor, covering it with a facial tissue and then walking away.

Without fixing the whole problem, the core problem, the ACTUAL problem, things are going to get worse and worse. For all of us.

Everything that happens everywhere in the world, everywhere on this Earth affects us directly. There is no us and them. There is only us. This is our problem and it is spreading. It won’t be long before it’s a rampant issue in the US. And note how I said ‘rampant’ – because it already is becoming an issue here.

So I just wanted to point that out. I also want to point out that these massive problems aren’t impossible. There are solutions. Everyone and anyone can help. You can raise awareness. You can demand it become a central political issue. Go to water.org to get further educated and see what else you can do to help bring clean water to these areas.

That’s it for now. Later.

Big Bad Storm Behaviour and Overstimulated Deer

The tomato soup is trying to kill me. It’s in my stomach searing it’s way out as I write this. Dear Glob. At this point I am doubting that this is even tomato soup after all. Maybe it’s Gorgon blood or worse yet, lava. And not that, you know, firey explodey kind of lava either, but the slow, oozy, seepy kind of lava that is still amazingly hot, but you don’t even notice it as you walk by until you realize the reason you’ve just fallen on your face is because your legs are gone. That’s what’s going on in my stomach right now.

In the world today New England is battening the hatches for some apocalyptic snow storm. As per us’ for this time of the year. I am hoping that this pending storm won’t warrant a reaction similar to that of last year’s big snow. Last weekend we had a heavy, wet snowstorm that dropped about four to six, and was a complete surprise to us locals. All the local meteorologists were at a loss for words (which was awesome). And for the first time in a long time, there was no stupid driving, ridiculous panic or rushing of super markets. I know this, because I was actually in a grocery store when the storm hit, shopping it up (like you do). We just looked out at the rampaging sky, shrugged it off, and went about our business.

It was like the awesome ‘old’ days when we New Englanders, people renowned for their curmudgeonly ways (a friend once explained to some Californians that what we have is called ‘crustiness’ so there’s no need to call the cops), did not give in to the bullshit hype that the media is always bombarding us with. ‘Scared people are good citizen-consumers.’ (Angie Simbert, Memento Nora). Most of us just got crabby and didn’t bother to shovel. And besides the Patriot’s were playing the next day, as I’m quite sure Mark Whalbergs ‘ neighbors would find out the hard way.

So now we must wait and see how we fare with this coming storm. I seriously hope the good, smart, angry people of New England refrain from ransacking the local grocers of all their milk and Pop Tarts.

On that day in that very grocery store I had an incident. I was struck by a moment of panic. Not a full blown ‘attack’ as it were, but a close call nonetheless. I was moments away from a full on crisis however, when something occurred to me. Earlier in the week I had watched a Nature documentary about deer and how and why they’ve been moving closer and closer to human beings, basically overtaking U.S. suburbia. They explained how deer have super shitty eyesight, which I didn’t know, even worse than human eyesight. They also explained that the whole deer-in-the-headlights phenomenon occurs because the deer is actually so over stimulated by all of the sensory input around it that it physically can’t move. It’s literally paralyzed by its’ own senses. And as I was wandering the wrong direction down a frozen food aisle and slowing to a stop in my newly giganticized local grocery, it occurred to me that this same phenomenon was happening to me. I knew what I had to do, I knew what I had to do to feel better about what was happening to me, and yet I couldn’t get myself to move or function properly. I was freezing up from sensory overload. Which makes sense, if you think about it; all of my worst panic situations occur when I’m driving, when I’m in a store, or other large facilities by myself.

So what I can derive from this lesson is that I am apparently a deer in disguise. Huh. And here I always thought I was a whale. A SPACE whale.

As seen here, the surprise storm inconvenienced Cobble the most.

As seen here, the surprise storm inconvenienced Cobble the most.

Okay, so it’s the next day now, and wouldn’t ya know – it didn’t snow. At all. All the schools closed, the governor cancelled his speech and everything was shut down for a bright sunny day. Temperatures did plummet however, if you can call going from somewhere in the forties on Monday night and then being -2 degrees on Tuesday night plummeting. Aside from closing down everything preemptively for naught, I think we did pretty good. No stupid accidents or traffic jams, and no racing to stand in line for an hour at the grocery hugging a quart of milk (that you just knocked an old lady down for) to your chest.  So well done, us I suppose.

I do worry however, that there will be too many people outside or otherwise unable to keep warm this week in these apocalyptic temperatures. I wonder if there is any way to get the statistics on that. Is there an accurate, officially tally? I’m not just saying this either, I genuinely stay up nights over this. How can we be the richest, ‘greatest’ country in the world, and yet people still freeze to death every year? Or go hungry? Events like this just drive home how flawed and ineffectual capitalism is.

And on that note.

Halloween and Fat Death of the Endless

Things have been sort of strange and slow on my bit of planet, what with all the cleaning, illness, the holidays, and my recent realization that maybe I’m actually Atlantean, and not alien, as I had originally suspected (or both – maybe my people didn’t disappear into the sea, maybe they just left). So I think maybe now is as good a time as any to back track to Halloween; a time of triumph or trial, depending on how you look at it. Either way, there is always lasagna, spontaneous candy checks (can’t let the little ones fall victim to poisons and razor blades, can we?), and at least one great ape. Occasionally there are film festivals (your Plan 9 From Outer Space, your Nosferatu, your Mommie Dearest, your Jason-on-a-boat) or Addams Family marathons. But every year it’s a little fun or at the very least interesting.

Traditionally Halloween is also a holiday for gorillas. One, rather, who sits in a lawn chair in my front garden distributing candy and bananas to the youth of my neighborhood. Occasionally there are two gorillas as Thunderball is often wont to sport the spare gorilla suit and tear around the yard doing the finest ape impression. (This is something not relegated to Halloween.) Last year there was even a fog machine, and so there were Gorillas in the Mist. The gorilla is pretty much the biggest attraction in our area (outside of my ridiculous dog, but that’s something else entirely), and people come from far and wide, driving miles even, just to see him. Families who have moved away return for this one night, and there are those who have had a picture taken with him every year (some since infancy). You’d also be surprised and a little proud by how many children go for the banana over the candy.  Perhaps there is hope for the American youth yet.

This year Thunderball and I were manning the door alone as ‘Superstorm Sandy’ rescheduled my aunt’s wake, and BB went to represent. Every year we get dressed up and mess around with the neighborhood kids. Last year we had two Halloweens (New England is a fickle place) and so Thunderball was Marceline the Vampire Queen as well as a gorilla and I painted my face and sported wings (make of that what you will). A few years before she was a witch, I wore a Christopher Walken mask and together with BB the gorilla we danced to “Thriller” on our lawn accompanied by a dozen or so neighborhood kids. It was epic. This year Thunderball showed up to my house about three hours before go-time determined to make a Brolaire of Astora costume – from scratch. So we hopped into the spaceship and sped to the nearest craft store with an idea and a ridiculous deadline.

During the ride over she and I discussed my recent trend of weird dreams about my teendom. I suspect this trend had a great deal to do with a recent meeting with escapist Sean Von Gorman, who unfortunately got some of my word vomit on his shoes, and heard a bit about my escapades. I get anxious telling these stories to people because I worry that I may sound as if I’m lying or crazy; because strange things do need explanation – if not context. Hence stress dreaming about my old comrades and exploits.

The dreams (and the vomit) lead to my writing an epic blog entry about my youth, which lead to me spending a day exhausting myself on ‘paper’ only to scrap the whole thing and back slowly away from the computer. I told some of the stories to Thunderball (who may or may not have heard them already), like about the time I was at a party and was accused of being homophobic (me with the hag DNA, of all people) when I pointed out that all the young gay men in New England (at the time) were named Mike, and so I yelled “Hey Mike!” into the crowd and pretty much every gay dude answered me, thus proving my point. I was trying to explain to her that it was a lot harder to write about that stuff (my strange employment, the random people I was acquainted with, my complicated friendships and home life) than I thought it would be. It’s strange to think that you are so far removed from your past, only to find that really you aren’t or to realize how much you miss parts of it, and just which parts those are.

So for those reasons I am not posting what I wrote anytime soon. In the future I’m sure I’ll regale everyone with random tales of drag queens, street art, AFP, Fort Apache, Rivers Cuomo, home invasions and the like, but for now the dreams have stopped and have returned to the normal vivid nightmares with excellent soundtracks (these days I dream in Grizzly Bear) that I’ve grown accustomed to.

At the store it was like old times in art school: budget shopping; being as creative as possible with as little purchasing as possible, brainstorming insanity that just may work. In just a few minutes we had a gameplan and had freaked out half the store- and as many scrappin’ moms as were in attendance – with our whirlwind savvy. (Whilst oohing and aaahing over new Martha Stewart tools a scrappin’ mom pointed out that she – Martha – was ‘moving up from Walmart’ and I pointed out that it’s high time that Martha joined Thunderball, Anthony – Tony – Bourdain and myself for a night of drinking, ‘cause we all know how Martha can put it away, and oh what a night that will be. Which just served to set Thunderball off in the same vein, as this has been a plan of ours – to get our drink on with Tony and Martha – for ages and we’re really excited about it. We have big plans, people, and this will happen. Oh yes, this will happen. You can imagine how well that entire outburst went over with scrappin’ mom, who hightailed it out of there first chance she got. )

Yeah, if the helm fits...

Yeah, if the helm fits…

Back at the hacienda, we proceeded to assemble a suit of armor from cardboard, duct tape and magic. It was amazing. And beautiful.

Art school pays off.

With Adventure Time and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog for a soundtrack, we literally worked right up until zero hour, whipping up this outfit like two nerds who forgot that today was Comicon.

Brolaire of Astora

Brolaire of Astora

I didn’t even have a chance to suit up myself, so I left Brolaire of Astora to greet the first of the kiddies as I perfected my look: Fat Death of the Endless (because I rule). I was much pleased by the new makeup – which held up all night unlike the glop from the beta test that smudged and spread and bled.  I donned the Generalissimos’ hat (to cover the bald) and joined Brolaire and my dog at a table we’d set up with Coleman lanterns (we have no outside electrics due to the giant crater that is half my house) and candy bowls. We also had a six pack of Sunny D – part of Brolaire’s costume and a prize to any trick-or-treater who could properly identify our costumes.

My house was bombed with sugar crazed masses seeking giant gorilla glory. We had to tell them that the gorilla escaped his enclosure during ‘Superstorm Sandy’, stealing my wallet and all of the bananas before hopping on a bus out of town. While the kids were all disappointed at least our story was believable. Hurricane Sandy had been a complete betch throwing a wrench into many plans and lives in the last week.  They all agreed to keep an eye out for him, and to report back with any information.  I felt really bad for a few of them though, especially the little kid who showed up in a full gorilla suit. I think he was hoping for a replay of last year, where he could have run free through the fog with Thunderball.

The brave steed, looking for reassuring hugs between candy goblins.

The brave steed, looking for reassuring hugs between candy goblins.

Most people got over the absence of the gorilla upon seeing that my dog was present. He is a local celebrity after all, even if he did try to hide behind Brolaire every time someone came in the yard and then demanded huggings and pettings after every encounter. I don’t know what it is about him, maybe his ridiculous height – he is very tall for a greyhound – or his clownish nature, but everyone in town LOVES my dog. Seriously – one time he was six miles down the road, going for a car ride with his head out a window when a bunch of kids on bikes shouted his name. He’s a frikkin rock star. And he’s not the only dog on the street either.  So everyone was so glad to see him and pet him ‘up close’ and tell me a story about the time he ‘got out’ – the most epic twenty minutes in small town history, apparently. Everybody in the neighborhood has a story from that day. One family tells of how he played with their kids in their yard. A mother with a toddler recalled walking the baby in the stroller and his accompanying them around the block. He saved a family from a burning house, delivered a baby and rescued a kitten from a tree. All I know is, the second we realized he got out (something that never happens and I’ll discuss why at another time) half the neighborhood formed a search party. People I have never met in all my years living here got in on the action to find my neurotic greyhound, who was out gallivanting and helping little girls sell lemonade.

As the night wore on we were quickly running out of candy but remained well-stocked on Sunny D. A lot of people tried, mostly guessing that Thunderball was someone from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (got to hand it to my neighbors on that one), and one precious little kid (had to be maybe three) did manage to finagle a juice as he assured us he was really thirsty and just wanted to go home. Costume-wise I am happy to report the absolute lack of zombies, which I’ve previously stated are the Disney Princess of costumes these days. I was sure we’d see dozens of those. Rather, I was shocked to see a surprising number of Mario Brothers, especially Mario. Am not sure what that was all about, but it was a trend I did not see coming.

In the end we were down to a handful of candy when a bunch of high schoolers in some decent getups show up. They were accompanying a young man who lives a few houses from me who is mentally handicapped. He was upset when I told him he couldn’t take all of the candy that was left, in case we got any more late comers. So he got sneaky and replaced our remaining candy bars with candy from his bag that he didn’t like. Touché, kid. The rest of the group was preoccupied with scoring Sunny D from Brolaire, and failing miserably. One of them, a guy in drag, was particularly endearing. He was in a miniskirt and boots with bad makeup and a big blonde wig, all giving him the effect of a drag queen who just woke up in an alley behind a dumpster. I asked him if his name was Mike. Thunderball nearly lost her shit (epic spit take ensued).

As we were closing up for the night, folding up the table and chair, gathering lanterns, my neighbor came over walking his dog. (Of course my dog is asleep back in the house when his girlfriend comes over). He isn’t looking for candy. He’s come specifically to ask if Thunderball is a Sun Bro. She almost keeled with joy. He tells us that he saw us from his candy distributing station at his house across the street and was dying to ask but his wife wouldn’t let him come over.  So when the kids stopped coming he snuck over under the guise of walking their dog. It was awesome. Much Sunny D was shared, the Sun Be Praised.

Praise the Sun

Praise the Sun

So I guess it was a successful night. Lots of diabeetus was encouraged, much praise was given the sun, and my dog continued his work as Ambassador to the Neighborhood. Plus, Thunderballs’ night was made, so that was good enough for me.

Oh, and here they are, the last pictures of me to appear on the interwebs.

It's all about the angles, baby.

It’s all about the angles, baby.

Not so bad for someone with so many chins. It’s all about the angles people. Awww yeah.

Fat Death

Fat Death

Cobble Impersonates Nicholas Cage, Apparently

We DVR  Conan in my house.  Specifically for moments like these:

Me:  Hey, you should check this out, this guy does an excellent Nicholas Cage impersonation.

Mum:  Cobble?

Me:  Our dog?

Mum:  Yes.

Me:  No. The dog doesn’t have an excellent Nicholas Cage impersonation.  It’s only so-so.

And here I thought Cobble only did impersonations of Bill Cosby:

This is Cobble doing his famous impersonation of Bill Cosby selling Jello Chocolate Pudding.

Flail Maces and Your Local Library

It’s small but it’s fierce!

So I haven’t been on the blog yapping away dutifully as I should have been this week. I was having trouble writing something that didn’t involve my Mum being in hospital, politics (which I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss here), or being sick all week. At some point I started a little essay on my writing, which is something I do and have done and all the other tenses too.  But I got all bogged down and tired so I was like, no. They’ll get to hear me whine about my imaginary Hugo Award some other time.

I should probably leave something here to, you know, look like I know what I’m doing with a blog. So here it is:

Today I took my dog to the library. Because my dog likes to be driven around in cars with his head out the window, and rocketing over to the library is as good a cruise as any. On the way over the subject of guns came up, as it tends to do.  Technically the subject somehow was on the topic of raccoons, which led me to regale BB with the details of a Nature documentary I had once seen on pest species that are rocking it in human inhabited areas, which led to a conversation on how one state was being overrun by white tailed deer and the various methods they were trying to thin the herds, which led to a conversation on hunting laws, which led to a definition of ‘primitive weaponry’, which BB felt I needed since he thought my idea of ‘primitive weaponry’ would be a mace, but I had to correct him because my definition of ‘primitive weaponry’ would be a rock, and I would categorize a mace as ‘awesome weaponry’.  (How was that for a run on sentence? Suck it fifth grade grammar!) Overall it became a conversation on gun control because, I’ll put it right here – Guns Are For Chumps. This is my campaign slogan. Feel free to chuck it around some.

So this should be enough to rile feathers and I don’t care. Guns are for chumps for no other reason than the fact that they are too easy. There is no skill in killing something you can’t get face to face with. Sorry. You want to make it fair, you want to make it skilled, you want to have a show of strength be it in war or in a battle betwixt two nerds next to a station wagon, guns aren’t going to cut it. What will? I’m glad you asked. Swords, betches. Swords. And maces. Flail maces especially. Knives. Brute strength. Big rocks. I’ll go as far as to say bow and arrow is acceptable, but crossbows aren’t.

But bnpqoe, isn’t there skill in shooting a gun? Not really and I’ll tell you why: a gun was made to kill something from a far distance. Unless you are a mob hitman or a sadist you typically don’t go for the eye contact in shooting someone. It’s a cowards weapon, a drive by weapon. Knock on my door with an epee and a grudge and I’ll respectfully let you in, sir.

But how would you know? You probably have never fired a gun before, you probably don’t know how hard it is to aim and shoot some of those things! You’d be wrong there again, chum. I have indeed fired a gun, more than one more than once. And not at a fair or carnival game either.

But bnpqoe, doesn’t all this talk of swords and maces just mean that you’re a huge medieval faire nerd, or at the very least into LARPing? No. Because my list also includes lasers – but only if you build them yourself, from scratch, and even then only if they are rolled into the field of battle, and not shot from afar. And the only time I would go to a medieval faire would be if I were dressed as Doctor Who (or one of his compatriots).

But doesn’t that count at LARPing? No it doesn’t. Shut the hell up.

See, there’s method to this madness. At the library I continued my rant and expounded on the virtues of a good flail mace. It was agreed that it was a respectable weapon, especially when you consider that one chuck at someone’s noggin was just as likely to come back and literally smack you in the face as it was to crack your enemies skull. I left my local library heavy with books and a pretty good idea that I’ve scared the shit out of my librarians (yet again).

I love my local library. And I am very sure my library is very happy that I use their online service to reserve the books I want to read, so I don’t spend any time looking around for them and making small talk with patrons and staff.

Support your local library folks! And remember: Guns are for Chumps!

This is Cobble driving to the library. Usually his mouth is WIDE OPEN like an alligator. I think maybe he’s swallowed a bug (he has that look of one who has inadvertently swallowed a bug).

A brief side note:

In the parking lot an extremely elderly couple that had been leaving the library while I was going in were in their car blocking the library entrance. They were revving the engine like mad and looking around at each other completely panicked. It took me a second to understand what was going on – the elderly man had his foot on the accelerator and didn’t realize it. They were panicking because they thought the car was exploding or something.  I just stood there as I couldn’t get their attention to help them and I didn’t want to cross either end of the car in case they decided to suddenly put the car into (or knock the car into) gear and run me over. I was always supposed to die by being backed over by an off duty ambulance;  I’ll be damned if I let these two get to me first.  Suddenly he pulled his foot off the gas pedal and they sat back and looked at each other for a moment before driving off out of the lot. To run over folks in front of a shopping center, I suspect.