In which our heroine has had it with defending her nerdiness.

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Most of the internet doesn’t know me personally, so let me begin this post with some information about the kind of person you’re dealing with here in this little blog.

I am a nerd. A HUGE nerd.

Nerds are people who don’t just like things, they fall madly in love with them. They are passionate about the things they dig and have no problem sharing that passion with anyone who will listen (and even some people who won’t if they’ll just stand still for a minute). Nerds just LOVE THINGS. That’s what we do.

I am what could best be categorized as your standard pop culture nerd. I’ve been obsessed with Batman since I was 3. I was the only little girl at my school who read comic books. My first crush was Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation (don’t you DARE judge me). I’m a Whovian. I’m a Browncoat. I still daydream about being Buffy Summers sometimes. I know way more about Monty Python than any one person probably should. I love horror movies, both good and bad. I could go on, but if that isn’t enough evidence of the kind of chick I am I’m not sure what else I could share that might clear it up.

There are a great many people out there who have serious misconceptions about the nature of nerdiness. In my experience, the most problematic of these misconceptions is caused when people have a very narrow view of what being a nerd means. I’m not talking about family & friends who don’t understand nerdy passion for certain things. I’m talking about people who are nerds & feel that they get to decide who out there is & is not “nerdy enough” to use the title. I have a couple of stories about times when I’ve been called out by those kind of nerds myself.

When I first started graduate school, I went to my first “nerd-con” at a hotel in Roanoke, VA. I went with the guy I was dating at the time, who was always an elitist about nerd matters. Whenever I would refer to myself as a nerd, he would respond with comments like “Yeah, how many D&D characters have you made, Allison?, “How many of your gaming systems do you still own, Allison?”, and/or “How many comic books do you still read, ALLISON?”

Yes, I know. He WAS indeed a diamond studded asshole of the highest pedigree. Very astute of you to notice.

So I went to this con with him & 2 of his friends &, even though I found it a bit strange in places, I loved it. I loved all the games & toys. I loved the fact there was a dude there randomly selling swords & battle axes to the revelers. I loved seeing all the cosplayers out & about, caring not a jot about the other hotel guests who were clearly confused by them. I even loved the hippies & belly dancers in attendance, although I couldn’t work out exactly why they were there for the life of me. It was a fantastic day right up until the end when Captain Asshole decided to open his big, dumb mouth.

You see, I was in a sorority in college. I was not a “sororstitute” nor was a “sorority girl”. I was a cool chick who happened to join a greek organization because she loved the women in it & what the group was about. On the day of the con, I wore a set of my sorority letters. I didn’t think of this as a problem, because I didn’t think about my choice of outfit that day at all. I just wore what I thought would be comfortable. As we were leaving the event, Cap’n let me know that, apparently, my outfit was a nerd fashion faux pas. While I was telling him about all the things I liked about the con & how much I’d like to go to another one, he laughed & said “Well you’re not allowed to wear your sorority girl stuff if I take you to another one because you looked completely out of place. It was ridiculous.”

In a room full of belly dancers, storm troopers, & starfleet cadets, who knew the girl in a t-shirt & jeans would qualify as the ridiculous looking one? Long story short, Cap totally killed my joy about my first convention. And, because he was my first serious boyfriend after college, I let him. I didn’t have the confidence yet to put him in his place for being mean to me, so I let him be a jerk & limped along with him for a few more months before our relationship died a slow death.

My second story happened just a few months ago. I was at a bar, talking to a couple of people about video games. Now, I consider myself a bit of a gamer, but I am in no way hardcore. I play the games I like when I have the time. That’s it. But, I do really love gaming & I know a lot about it. As I was rattling on, a random guy at the bar looked at me, chuckled derisively to himself, & shook his head. He then said (without being a part of the prior conversation in any way) “It’s cute that you like video games, but everyone knows that women are terrible at them. The concept of a gamer girl is a fucking joke.”

…oh EVERYONE knows that do they?

I proceeded to tell dude that I have had a controller of some kind in my hand since I was 3. That’s 26 years of my life that I’ve been gaming. And while I don’t play C.O.D (can’t play first person shooters at all, they make me too dizzy), Starcraft, or World of Warcraft (actually used to play it with Captain Asshole though), that’s a hell of a long time for me to be playing video games & not qualify as a gamer.

I also challenged him to play me at Street Fighter, Tekken, Soul Caliber, or Mortal Kombat. He could pick the game & the place. Any day that he felt like getting his ass kicked by a terrible joke of a gamer girl, say the word I’d be happy to assist him. Needless to say, he didn’t take me up on the offer. He just rolled his eyes & returned to drinking beer & being generally horrible at life.

These are just 2 examples of how this weird, completely unnecessary elitism has somehow developed within the nerd nation. It’s a phenomenon that baffles me, because I cannot remember one time in my life where I have compared someone against my nerd street cred. I’m always just thrilled to death to find someone else who gets why I love something so much.

See growing up, I had to keep a lot of the nerdy things I loved quiet. I got teased by other little girls for playing Nintendo in kindergarten because “only boys play video games”. In later years I got made fun of for reading comic books, watching Batman: The Animated Series, & reading R.L. Stine books for the exact same reason. I even got teased by a few women in my sorority for playing video games when I was in college. It took me just getting to a point where I just didn’t give a damn about what other people thought to let my nerd flag fly proudly. I went through a lot of grief for the things I loved, but as soon as I made being me a full time job, all that noise just didn’t matter anymore.

I think that experience is similar for a lot of nerdy folks. Growing up tends to fall on the the more awful end of the spectrum, but when you’re an adult you find out that the people who gave you a hard time don’t matter & never did. You also learn that there are a lot more people out there that are into the things you love than you ever imagined. And meeting those people is completely awesome about 99.9% of the time. Ever see two people who’ve just met learn that they both love Doctor Who? The moment between those people is one of pure JOY. There’s an immediate understanding & shared history between them, even if their day to day lives & life experiences could not be more different.

This is why I have a problem with people who think they get to decide who is or isn’t nerdy enough to qualify for the title. Everyone who grew up with nerdy interests was beaten up or harassed for it in some way. Some bigger or meaner kid was forever telling you that you were a weirdo & not cool enough for one reason or another, which almost always hurt your feelings. Yet, somehow, there are people out there like bar guy & Captain Asshole who think they are entitled to say who is & isn’t nerdy enough to come to the party. And they usually make the distinctions on profoundly stupid criteria, like not knowing as much as they do about a particular TV show or not owning a certain movie on DVD. That just doesn’t wash with me.

There’s also a sadly sexist edge to their judgements as well. I’m not just a nerd, because no worthwhile human being is just one thing all the time. I’m also a woman who is way into clothes & makeup & shoes. On any given day, my style tends to vary from chic tomboy to reincarnated pin up girl. Basically, I dig a lot of girly things. Because of this, I have been told by people more times than I can count that they’re surprised I like certain things because I “don’t look like I would”. Whenever I’ve been in a comic book or game store, I get stared at by both male & female store regulars. The men usually look at me like I must be lost &/or occasionally check me out. The women tend to glare at me. The conclusion I’ve come to is that I don’t look enough like a “nerd girl” to not get that kind of static. I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to look like to qualify for that label, but the reactions I’ve gotten over the years have let me know that I definitely don’t.

My generally feeling towards people of all persuasions has always been that as long as you’re nice, you’re welcome to sit at my lunch table. If I can geek out with you about certain things too, that’s a bonus. I don’t care if you just started watching The Doctor or have seen every episode they’ve ever made, I’m just happy to ramble on about how great he is with you. This happiness doesn’t change if you look like Sheldon Cooper or look like Mal Reynolds, because I don’t care. You can look like your stereotypical lifelong indoor kid or a macho man of the highest order. Doesn’t matter, because again, no one is just one side of their identity all the time. I know this philosophy is shared by the vast majority of nerds out there. I know that 99.9% of them just love sharing the things they adore with like minded people & never once think of it as a competition. I just hope it catches on with the remaining .01% someday as well, because defending my nerd status has become a bore.

In which our heroine ponders her singleness.

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Without exception, everything about falling in love is a game. Because of this, I happen to be the world heavyweight champ of falling in love. This is how decades of gaming has paid me off.

In early affairs of the heart, where balancing the scales between playing readily available and hard to get, I own. Shamelessly. I am a level 90 mage with a legendary weapon and epic steed, a badass, gun toting heroine who really doesn’t need you any damn way, and a damsel in distress locked inside an 8 bit tower breathlessly awaiting rescue by plumber. I know when to fight and when to surrender, when to respond and when to ignore, and when to run towards and when to run away. Basically, I’m a dungeon master. The entire romantic landscape is under my complete control. Once a competitor is identified, any resistance he puts up is futile, though I always let him think otherwise.

After weeks of spirited gameplay, the time eventually arrives to put up or shut up. In any game, there has to be a winner after all. After fighting the good fight, I concede joyfully into delusions of grand monogamous bliss, complete with diamond rings and washing machines and consolidated debts. This is when my mastery runs out and I flounder humiliatingly like a total noob.

I used to view my lack of long term commitment skills as complete, woeful failure at passing for a grown up. Most people I grew up with have 3 kids by now. I, in stark contrast, have a cat who I am convinced is the reincarnation of Sid Vicious. This means I don’t even have a consistent, warm relationship with a small animal, let alone a small human. Most people I went to college with are at least engaged, if not well into their first marriages. I am neither. I’m not even close to the diamond and the big party and all that. Yes, for many years I believed that the fact that I’ve yet to unlock the “Happily Ever After” achievement was because I am, in some way, defective. I mean, what good is kicking ass in levels 1 – 9 of a game if you just go on to do a total face-plant against the big boss on level 10? A waste is all that is. A tragic, pathetic waste.

But, after the end of my most recent relationship, I got to thinking. The kind of thinking you do as you sit in the bathtub, taking inventory of yourself until your fingers are prunes. The realization I came to was that my lack of a long term partner has nothing to do with my capabilities for maintaining a relationship. My only mistake has been choosing to align myself with inadequate players.

If you look back across my dating history, a pattern emerges. I consistently choose men who don’t even have the initial skills down, let alone the emotional depth & integrity required for committed relationships. My older sister says this happens because I’m only attracted to geeks and artists. I dig standard nerds, as well as audiophiles, bookworms, painters, and career intellectuals. She believes that if I’d just give up and find myself a nice, simple country boy, I’d be blissfully settled in no time. Obviously, the nerdy, artsy type is no good for me.

I love my sister. I really do. And it’s because I love her that I’m able to say this:

That theory is garbage.

So, I have come up with a vastly superior one: My relationships fail because I seek out the players with malfunctioning equipment.

(Not THAT kind of malfunctioning equipment, pervyface. Gross.)

I cozy up with men who never knew their fathers (or know them and hate them). I date guys who can easily make friends while playing an MMORPG, but maintain anemic relationships in that vast, scary place we call the real world. I pick men who drink too much, can never be serious (or are serious all the time), and have faith in nothing. I choose to strike up relationships with men who are fundamentally incapable of being authentically in love. They can be in like, less than 3, luv, and lust, but LOVE is out of the question. They just cannot do it.

Essentially, I date shoddy AI, computer generated opponents who can only match my skills as far as they’ve been programmed to. Picking these bots and choosing to stick around letting them win game after game is my only fault in the matter. I am otherwise a 25k platinum plated catch.

This realization has not only helped me tolerate my solo player status, but learn to revel in it. The only reason I’m unmarried and unattached is because I’m refusing to settle for noobs & trolls. I refuse to settle for ANYTHING less than face melting awesomesauce. Ever again. When the quirky nerd/ artsy dude I’m supposed to be with finally comes along, he’s going to have to be impressive. It’ll take a hell of a lot to win me over. But, he can handle it. Better than handle it, he’ll excel at it.

Why you ask?

Because he’ll be good enough not only to keep up with me, but outplay me altogether.

In which our heroine gives long overdue respect to Alex Mack.

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Hello all! I wrote this for another blog but not sure when or if it will ever be posted, so I’m going to share it here as well. Prepare yourselves for a nostalgiaquake:

Women in your mid-20s to 30s: take a moment & think back to your youth. Go back to the days when your biggest stress in life was getting stuck on a particularly difficult level of Super Mario 3 & when Nickelodeon ruled your world. Name the TV character you thought was the coolest person on earth. The girl you would have killed to be best friends with. Who was that fully rad chick you admired more than anyone else on TV?

If you answered Clarissa, you’re wrong & you made my heart sad. The correct answer is Alex Mack.

The Secret Life of Alex Mack is possibly the most underrated series Nickelodeon produced in the 90s. Ask any mid-late 20 something to list their favorite SNICK lineup shows & you may not hear about Alex until they hit around the 5-7 range. But, for my money, Alex Mack was maybe the most meaningful live action show Nickelodeon ever made.

Now, I already hear the sounds of derision coming from all corners of the internet. “ALEX MACK?!? Have you forgotten about the gem that is The Adventures of Pete & Pete? The hell is wrong with you, lady?!?”

Calm down, yall. Take some cleansing breaths to avoid hyperventilation & allow me to explain.

As anyone woman will tell you, being an adolescent girl is hard. I’m not saying adolescence is a walk in the park for either gender, but age 11 to 17 is a particularly horrific time for ladies. One minute you’re climbing trees & rolling down hills without the first neurotic thought about your awesome, agile little girl body. Next thing you know, your body is leading a revolt against you, charging towards womanhood well before you’re ready for it. You’re the ugliest you’ve ever been and probably ever will be. You concoct crazy nonsense anxieties about how fat your knees are & what ugly toes you have & why can’t your fingers be just a little bit skinnier, is that so much to ask?

Let’s not even get into the things that go on with your lady waterworks. There are no words for how weird THAT experience is the first time it occurs.

Oh & your brain is all hormone addled making you simultaneously hate everything & love everything all at once. Not only are you ugly, you’re a full blown crazy person.

All these factors come together to make you feel completely stuck in a weird ass body that can’t make up it’s mind about who it wants to be from day to day. And you’re completely powerless to change it. Best thing you can do is pray that 18 comes quickly & that you make it there unscathed. In this God awful mess lies the genius of Alex Mack.

Alex was a teenage girl caught smack in the middle of the unpleasant phase of life that is puberty. First day of junior high, she’s minding her own business, walking home from school when she comes thisclose to being squished by a truck. In the process, she gets covered in the chemical goop the truck was hauling. Now, for your average teenage girl, nearly getting hit by a truck would just be another traumatic experience en route to adulthood. She’d go to therapy & move on. But for our girl, the accident is just the first of many potentially traumatic experiences.

You see, ALEX GETS SUPERPOWERS. Telekinesis! Electricity in her fingers! The ability to melt into liquid & ooze into hard to reach places! While she looks the same 90% of the time, the chemical exposure makes Alex a full blown mutant. Not only a mutant, but a mutant with woefully unpredictable abilities. If Alex got freaked out, her skin would start glowing. Her ability to control her powers went hand in hand with her ability to deal with her emotions. She was a little teenage Incredible Hulk-esque girl, minus the green skinned crazy strength & with the addition of bib overalls & cool hats. So now, in the midst of all the terrors biology is generally subjecting her to, the GC-161 officially made her a circus freak.

That freakiness is precisely what made Alex Mack so great. Did she hide away in her bedroom for the rest of her life, lamenting that she never got to go to the spring dance because she was a chemically mutated freak? Hell no! With the help of her sister & closest pals, she set out on a mission to get answers. She learned to use her powers to help her get information about the chemical she was exposed to & the company behind it. All the while dealing with the standard issue problems for girls her age, like boys & school & the bizarro stuff going on with her body. If that doesn’t make her a role model for tiny feminists everywhere, I don’t begin to know what would.

Alex Mack was meaningful because she stood for something much deeper than most TV shows directed at preteens during that time. Watching her go on adventures as a completely kickass teenage mutant chick somehow made my own adolescence more tolerable. I mean, I may have had braces & chubby knees, but at least I didn’t glow when I was nervous. I was nervous ALL THE TIME. That would have been a nightmare! Alex Mack ultimately taught me that no matter how awkward I may feel, I can always use the things that make me feel awkward to my advantage. My weirdness is my greatest asset because it’s what makes me unique & powerful. To an odd little girl in the midst of a puberty tsunami, that lesson meant the world.

In which our heroine gets groped in public, Chapter I: Runaway Bride in da Club

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People touch me. Frequently.

I’m not talking about people I know touching me. I’m just talking about people. Random, don’t know them from Adam PEOPLE. The public at large, for reasons that are beyond my comprehension, feel very entitled to touch me.

And I’m also not talking about putting an arm around me or giving me a friendly hug. I’m talking about TOUCHING me with pervy intent. And typically doing so without even an introduction or buying me a drink or saying “I like your face, let’s make out”…they just roll up out of the clear blue & get all handsy. It’s been a persistent problem for me since I hit puberty & it’s gotten worse & worse over time. I’m over it. Consider this me putting all of the planet earth on notice (that’s how the internet works, right?). Enough is enough. I want the following funny & awkward (fawkward?) tales of woe to be the last of this icky garbage, you hear me? This post is part one of a 3 part series outlining how intense this problem has been in my life thus far.

So gather round children! Enjoy one of the greatest hits from my lifetime of being publicly molested by randos!

Chapter 1:
The Runaway Bride -or – You Can Find me in “Da Club”.

I LOVE HALLOWEEN. Love it. It’s my favorite holiday. I’ve dressed up
as something almost every year of my life & college was no different. My senior year of college, the only fraternity I liked put on a Halloween party at the one nightclub near my college. I thought “Halloween, Sig Taus, AND dancing?! Yes please!” I was all over it.

But I was wrong. Oh so very wrong.

You see, when I say nightclub, you’re probably imagining something very different from the reality of this place. Julians was a bar with a dance floor in one room, a DJ, & mirrors on some of the walls. That’s it. Oh, and it was on a street well known for hookers & drug dealers. (Classy joint, no?)

Also, I’d never been to a club at this point. I’d barely even been to a bar.
Me & my 21 year old “I aint never rode a plane” naïveté thought going to the club was like going to a bar that just happened to have more room for dancing. I didn’t know yet that, in many ways, the club is much more closely related to the meat market than the local pub.

But, since I was young & simple, I was just super excited about Halloween without care one about how creepy this place might be. I threw together the cheapest, quickest costume I could think of & went on my way.

Now, the costume I chose was cute, but in no way was it slutty. It wasn’t even particularly sexy or attractive. I went as a runaway bride – white dress, veil, running shoes, sweatbands. Easy peasy & a cheap joke…best I could do at the time. But based on the dance floor exchange I had with a gentleman (word used liberally & with heavy sarcasm), you’d think I’d walked up in there looking like a stripper.

So picture it! Little 21 year old blondie Allison (used to be blonde…I know, its shocking) dancing away in my little costume, minding my own business, having a good time, when suddenly, a wild sketchy townie man appears! Not only appears, but stands himself directly in my bubble of personal space.

Now, I don’t do the whole MTV grind thing when I dance with people. It weirds me out. I’m more of a two-stepper. So when this man put himself all up in my space, I did what anyone else would do…I immediately froze in place & stared at him blankly. Cause I’m smooth like that. Instead of taking this as a screaming signal of “DO NOT WANT”, he said “What? Cant I get a dance on your wedding night?”

Ok, 1. Obviously not my wedding night, jack. Your line is bad & you should feel bad. And 2. No, you cannot “get a dance”. You could have asked me to dance a minute ago, but instead you just jumped all up in my bubble & seemed surprised by my lack of response. See, I’m a lady, not a stripper – you can’t expect me to grind on you just because you walk up & invade my personal space.

That’s all what I would have said to him had I not still been frozen. At the time freezing solid was my only defense mechanism against creepy, so I was committed to it. I continued staring at him & maybe mumbled “…err um…no”. Again, this should have told old dude something & should be the end of the story, but alas, it is not.

The man then, as either a hail mary or sign of truly profound social ignorance, put his arm around my waist, pulled me against him, and stuck his tongue in my ear. After which he let me go & looked at me like all proud like “Now about that dance I wanted…”

He stuck. His tongue. In my ear.

MY. EAR.

That man is lucky I was 21 & simple then, not 29 & jaded like I am now. Otherwise, he may not have survived the encounter.

I immediately wished I was Alex Mack & could just melt into goop & ooze away. That’d teach him to be gross. “Last time I did that, bitch just melted into the floor! Not doing that again.” But I couldn’t. So instead, I ran away.

Seriously. I just dipped. Off the dance floor, out the door, & back to the apartment without a second look. So ended the first & only time I went to “da club”.

Thanks again, creep! Way to ruin my fun.

In which our heroine is grateful & unafraid.

Dearest readers,

My intention for this blog is to not always be so serious & focused on the numerous ailments of humanity. My intention is actually to be as funny as possible, although you wouldn’t know it by the last few posts. I started it to make people laugh. But lately, a lot of things have happened that have had me thinking about the world we’re living in, and none of the conclusions I come to are really very funny. I promise, loads of fun things are in the works. But for right now, I have other things on my chest & they’ve got to come off. I appreciate you following me along in my madness & giving even the most cursory glance at the things I have to say.

In the summer of 2006, I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia. In late August, I was driving home from my first day of graduate school at Radford University when my older sister called to tell me that we had an escaped convict on the loose. Go home, lock the door, don’t talk to strangers…she told me all that good stuff your older sister is supposed to tell you when she’s afraid. The next morning, that convict shot & killed a police officer on Virginia Tech’s campus before ultimately being caught. It was a very sad day for the community, but also something that at the time I just accepted as a reality. Being a police officer is a dangerous job that, sadly, costs many brave & honorable people their lives. It’s horrible & a tragedy, but it happens. So goes life outside the West Virginia hills, I supposed. After a few weeks, community had it’s period of mourning & moved on. I didn’t think much of it beyond that.

I didn’t think much of it because I assumed that was the last bad thing that I’d be seeing during my time in this lovely town. Sadly, I was very wrong.

8 months later, on the morning of April 16, 2007, I was sleeping on my sister’s couch after undergoing an invasive biopsy. I’d gone in for a routine exam the month before & my doctor saw some worrisome tissue changes. Those changes could be nothing at all, just my body being weird, or they could be signs of cancer. And if they were cancerous changes, they appeared to have been progressing for some time (translation: we probably didn’t catch it early & cancer has a head start on eating me alive). Needless to say, I was a wreck. A quivering, neurotic mess of a human being. I was doomed at 23. The long life of unbridled joy that up until that point I’d felt so entitled to just got cancelled by the big C & I was as pissed off at that as I had been in my whole life. After the biopsy, I took a handful of the prescription narcotics randomly hanging out in my sisters cabinets (because fuck you DEA, I AM DYING & you’re not the boss of me) & passed out until the early afternoon.

When I came to, Virginia Tech was on CNN. While I was out sleep-moping, 32 people had been gunned down by a man none of them knew. The deadliest mass shooting in American history happened 20 minutes from the house I’d been sleeping in all morning. The horror that came over me in that moment is something I’ve always failed to properly articulate. It was the most wounded feeling of vulnerability & terror I’ve ever experienced. I thank God it passed into numbness quickly.

I went to the candlelight vigil days later. I cried a lot. I heard the stories of the exceptional lives we lost that day for no reason at all & was nauseated by the waste. I also heard the man that murdered these people spew his special blend of crazy, bile, & hatefulness on the world from beyond the grave. I vowed to never say his name, because I refused to give him another second of airplay. I thanked God neither my sister or brother in law had been on campus that morning. And in the midst of all this weeping & wailing, I learned the most valuable lesson of my life thus far:

Life gives no guarantees.

I had no right to curl up in defeat that morning because I MIGHT have cancer. I also MIGHT get hit by a bus, or blown up in a terrorist attack, or shot up by a crazy person. Or I might live to be 102 & have lots of fun & babies & die a happy, beloved old lady in my sleep. Who the hell knows? No one promised me a long, painless journey through life just because I’m Allison Ball & I’m a special little snowflake. The adolescent narcissism that still had a grip on my brain made that junk up & convinced me it was the truth. The real truth is that I will be on this planet precisely as long as I am meant to be & then I will die, be it in a blaze or a whimper. And this same process will happen equally to every person I love & every person I hate. Life will get us all in the end. We have no right to expect anything different.

Morbid & revolting, yes? It gets better, I promise. Just stick with me.

The silver lining of realizing that I’m actually not an invincible, eternal super-goddess turned out to be the development of a very powerful type of fearlessness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dead inside. Things absolutely scare me. But, as soon as I got it through my thick head that life doesn’t owe me anything, my day to day happiness became entirely my choice & my responsibility. I could continue moping & withering away because of how angry I am at all the things that have happened to me and how afraid I am of all the things that could happen to me in the future. Or I could get up, put on some mascara, & carpe the living hell out of every diem I have left. I chose the latter & continue to choose it every morning when my feet hit the floor.

I learned to embrace life on its terms instead of having a temper tantrum when it doesn’t meet my expectations. Even though life hasn’t been a full time picnic over the past few years, I’m ok with it. Better than ok, I’m just happy as hell to still be here. I’m alive. I’m healthy. The cancer I nearly quit life over never came to be. I have a warm bed & food in the fridge. I’m surrounded by amazing friends & family who love me very much. What can I really complain about? Ultimately, the terror I felt when I thought my own life was being unfairly cut short compounded with the horror the April 16th shooting inflicted on my community taught me a very hard, painful lesson in gratitude. And that gratitude has given me a great deal of freedom.

I’m not sure why I’m putting this out on the internet. I’m not really even sure what my point is. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am hopeful that even with all the evils in the world, we as a people do not give in to fear & despair. We can’t let the actions of cowardly people convince us that all is lost & that all the light has been snuffed out of the world. Because it just isn’t true.

In Boston right now, there are many people who have been senselessly hurt by bombs some sinister being decided to put at the end of a marathon. BUT in the very same city, there are doctors, nurses, policemen, & firemen who have made taking care of those hurt people & keeping them safe their JOBS. They’re picking up the pieces in the aftermath of this mess & doing it entirely by choice. That’s not nothing. Far from nothing, that’s actually wonderful. We still have heroes. We still have good people who love complete strangers like family just because it’s the right thing to do. We can’t give up & give in to the blackness. On the contrary, we have to whatever we can to fight it.

In which our heroine explains why love & marriage is for everyone.

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When I was a little girl, I went to church with my parents every Sunday morning. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old when a guest minister came to our church to preach on homosexuality. Throughout his sermon, he discussed all kinds of Old Testament fire & brimstone (a rare occurrence in most Methodist churches) & uttered the infamous phrase “God created Adam & Eve NOT Adam & Steve!”

No, I’m not kidding. A grown man stood in the pulpit & actually said that…I WISH I was making that up.

Even at that young age, it seemed to me that, since “All have sinned & fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), it wasn’t really ok for that guy to stand up in front of a congregation & blast the “immorality” of homosexuality. The thought I kept coming back to was “Isn’t this guy just mad at people who sin differently than he does?” I mean, if we’ve all fallen short, what gives him the right to say one group of sinners is better than another?

Thus began my life long arm wrestling match with organized religion, which is a topic for another day.

The other thing that began that day was my fervent belief in equality for ALL people. The anger I felt at that guest preacher went way deeper than being faced with hypocrisy. Every religion has it’s own set of hypocrisies, comes with the territory. The ire that I felt came from someone using religion as an excuse to treat other Americans like second class citizens.

You see, I have my quarrels with organized religion, but at the end of the day I believe in God. I think God is benevolent & He loves everyone. No exceptions. You don’t even have to believe that He exists for Him to conspire in your favor. He’s THAT cool. This is who, based on all the evidence I’ve been presented with in life, I believe God is.

Now, if I’m correct & this is indeed the kind of God we’re dealing with, do you think He would be ok with discriminating against other people? Would He want a whole section of people to be treated as if they are “less than” because of who they love? Would He oppose people wanting to be in loving, committed relationships just because those relationships happen to be between people of the same sex?

No. Of course not. He loves us. He loves us even when we are unlovable. He doesn’t want us to be alone or unhappy. He created ALL of us, gays & lesbians included. I imagine He’s probably rather displeased that people choose to use pieces of His teachings to people centuries ago (when people thought it was ok to rape, pillage, & have sex with animals) in order to justify widespread institutional discrimination in 2013.

As a side note, if you really believe being gay is a choice, riddle me this: Why on earth would someone choose to be gay while living in Texas, Kentucky, or Alabama? That sounds like a TERRIBLE life choice to me. So terrible, I have a hard time believing anyone would ever make it. But I digress…

I believe that love is love. If you are lucky enough to find someone in this life you love enough to wake up beside EVERY SINGLE DAY, God bless you. I have a hard time finding someone I LIKE enough to keep around for more than 6 months, let alone a person I love so much that I want to committ myself to them for the rest of my live long days. When you find love like that, you should be able to walk into any courthouse in our great nation with your head held high & get a marriage certificate, regardless of the genders involved.

To people that have a hard time accepting that this change is going to come to pass in America sooner rather than later, I have a few questions for you: Why are you so concerned about relationships between consenting adults that don’t involve you? Yes the Bible says homosexuality is sin. It also says divorce, adultery, gambling, tattoos, & drinking alcohol are all sins. Where’s the outcry to make all these things illegal? You’d think people would be falling all over themselves to ban first two since they actually DO impact the sanctity of marriage, but they’re not. If that’s truly what all this is about, why pick on the gays? Why is the focus not on marriage in general? Because from where I’m sitting, a married straight couple who’ve had 2 sets of kids taken away by DSS, spend their nights beating the hell out of each other, & are cooking meth in a trailer somewhere aren’t doing a whole lot for the whole sancitity cause. They ARE straight & married though, so that’s good enough apparently? Seems to be.

My hope this week is that ALL the people I love will have a greater chance of being able to legally marry the people they love by Friday, not just the straight ones. I am hopeful that the courts will do the right thing by striking down both Prop 8 & DOMA. But even if it doesn’t happen this week, everyone who favors marriage equality can take comfort in the fact that IT WILL. This change is coming and there’s nothing that can stop it. Hopefully the courts will find themselves on the right side of history by doing the right thing now rather than continuing to treat our friends and neighbors differently in the eyes of the law just because of who they happen to love.

In which our heroine really hates the Kardashians, but actually hates society more.

Let’s get something out-of-the-way right now: I hate the Kardashians.

Now, I am not a hateful person.  I don’t use the word hate lightly.  I dislike a certain things, I get frustrated by a lot of things, & I may even rant about something from time to time…but hate is not a word I use lightly.  That’s because, despite the fact that I may do the above things sometimes, I’m a generally nice lady.  I work at a wayward girls’ home for goodness sakes.  Were I a truly hateful human being, I wouldn’t be able to do a job like that.  But, I’m also a woman who stands for some things, like hard work & class, & becoming well-known because you’ve done something meaningful with your life.  The Kardashians, in my eyes, are the polar opposite of all those things.

Now, if you think I’m being too hard on the crazy K’s, please take a moment and objectively consider how the Kardashian zeitgeist got started.  The only reason this family has become infamous is because Kim Kardashian had sex on camera with Brandy’s little brother & the video became readily available for public viewing.  Rather than respond like a half decent mother, Kris Kardashian saw an opportunity to make a few bucks & pimped out her whole family to Ryan Seacrest.  That is factual information.  That’s the series of events that made Keeping up with the Kardashians happen. Disgusting, eh?

Now, with an understanding of how much I truly dislike these people on a fundamental level, you can imagine it would be a little hard for me to feel sympathy for any of them.  They’re exorbitantly rich and famous for no good reason; woe is them, their lives are hard. HOWEVER, while checking Buzzfeed this morning with my coffee like always, a story came across that made not only feel some empathy for Kim Kardashian, it actually made my guts hurt.

The story is titled: Kim Kardashian Covered in Blood & can be found for your reading displeasure here.  This is the picture she put out on instagram after the procedure:

Kim K's vampire facial

Kim K’s vampire facial

On the list of gross things people do for the sake of beauty, between the fish pedicure & foreskin facial cream, I really thought there was not much left people could try that would truly horrify me.  But, the vampire face lift officially wins the blue ribbon prize for crazy. For those of you not brave enough to click the links, allow me to briefly explain the procedure.

The Vampire Facial involves taking an injection of blood from the arm, mechanically separating the platelets from the rest of the blood, then injecting the platelets back into the FACE in hopes of stimulating collagen production in those pesky fine lines & wrinkles.

First of all, that’s gross.  Fully gross.  At what point in a discussion with your dermatologist does THIS procedure not only come up, but seem legit?  Who came up with this idea?  And then who listened to that weirdo & said “This is the BEST idea I’ve ever  heard & it’s not creepy at all! Here’s ALL the money for your business!”? Also, this procedure is $1,500 a pop.  I repeat $1,500.  One of these icky bloody face treatments is equivalent to 7 months of my car payments. There’s so much wrong with the existence of this procedure that it blows my mind. But that’s not even the thing about this story that makes my guts hurt.

Kim Kardashian is 32 years old.  Not 102, not 72, 32.  She’s also gorgeous.  I mean I hate the whole sluttastic “dat ass” Maxim centerfold stink that rolls off of her most of the time, but under all the spray tan & liquid eyeliner she really is an attractive woman.  Why in the sweet name of Jesus did she feel the need to do this AT ALL?  When’s the last time you saw a picture of Kim Kardashian while standing in the checkout line & said “Geez, she looks haggard, she needs to get some work done.”?  Never, that’s when.

I may have a litany of other complaints about Kim K.  However, at no point has one of my gripes been “She is looking leathery, maybe she should consider getting blood drawn from her arm & injected back in her FACE?”  It makes me sad that a woman living in the public eye would go through a procedure like this to keep the aging beast at bay.  How intolerant of women older than 22 have we become for a 32 year old to be THAT WORRIED about the collagen in her face?  Point of information: 30 isn’t old.  In my little redheaded opinion, you don’t really become an adult until you’re about 27.  That’s just how it is.  I’m 29 & until today I hadn’t given the collagen in my face the first thought.   And when’s the last time you heard about Pauly D (or some other douche on Kim’s level) doing some crazy medical thing to keep his face flawless?  He’s the same age, so they should have just used the buddy system & gone in for vampire facials together, right?

No, not right, because that’s not how it works for dudes.  Men become “distinguished” with age where, for some reason, women just become ugly old bats.  Apparently that’s how stuff works for us ladies. So, in summary, because she’s reached the age of legitimate adulthood & about to be a mom, Kim Kardashian is officially an old bag.  She needs to pull crazy stunts  like this if she wants to save the dwindling life force she has left.  Because, in America, what’s less attractive than a 30 year old?  Or a mom?  Let alone a 30 year old mom?!  Eww!

That’s why the story made my stomach hurt.  It’s not just a story about a celebrity being cray cray bananas, it’s a story that symbolizes the value we put on women past a certain age.  If you’re 21 & super hot, we love you & you should run around topless all the time.  If you’re 30 & super hot, you’re no longer hot ENOUGH.  Go do everything you can to look like a 21 year old.  Until then, you’re just gross & sad, so get the crazy foreskin cream & blood facial ASAP if you want us to keep paying attention.  That’s the sad reality hidden behind this weird ass story: Kim’s not the crazy one this time.  Our society is.