Welcome to Mod Land

So, my family is into body mod. Fatherbot sports several tats, Will is planning on getting some work done once he’s older and more sure about what he wants, and I have a small collection of mods commemorating personal achievements. Liz just went and got her first piercing (although it was definitely against my advice. She’s a tad young at 13, and not real great at things that require long-term responsibility), and was shocked at some of what she’s heard from people since she got it. I basically told her “Welcome to land of body mod”.

Here are some attitudes that I’ve encountered with mine:

Positive: Have to say, this one is my favourite. Being told that my mods are pretty or cute, that they suit me, or people generally thinking mods and the people who do them are cool is pretty much guaranteed to make my day. Growing up in our family, this attitude is the only one my sister has ever encountered — although, granted, she’s mostly been around adults with mods, or peers that either a) think body mod is cool, and might have some of their own, or b) are unmodded, and thus it hasn’t really come up in conversation — until now, with Liz having a barbell so fresh it’s still bruised.

When it comes to the negative ‘tudes, there’s a whole gamut of ugly. Here are a few of the more common ones I’ve run across:

“That’s kinda slutty” or “She’s clearly looking for attention.” For some reason, certain mods (belly piercings, lower back tats/ “tramp stamps”) are considered sexual, or sexually provocative –which feeds into the assumption that the person who has one of these “sexy” mods is hyper-sexual, extremely sexually active/ doesn’t discriminate in her choice of bed partners, or is trying to attract attention of a sexual nature. None of these are necessarily accurate. The reason why Person A mods is going to be unique to them — and the person who gets a tattoo that’s only visible when they’re in a bathing suit (or their birthday suit) probably didn’t have the same feelings about their mod as the person who got a tat that’s super visible. Also? Trust me when I say that sexualizing yourself isn’t a good reason to get inked or pierced — which is why most people don’t do it for that reason. There’s a lot of time, effort, and inconvenience (oh, and pain, that too) that goes into getting tattooed or pierced, and in taking care of it until it’s healed. Investing in body mod is something most people I know who’ve done it decided to do for themselves, not anyone else.

“I don’t understand why tattoos are becoming so popular” and “You’re going to regret that when you’re older”. There seems to be this misconception that tattoos are a trend, and simultaneously a youthful indiscretion. Underlying this attitude is the belief that inking your skin is always a mistake, that it is something each person who does will — sooner or later — come to regret. I have a lot of thoughts on this one, including:
a) modifying your body is not something brand-new. Indigenous cultures around the globe have been engaging in culturally- or even spiritually-significant forms of it for as long as humans have had culture;
b) deciding to permanently alter your appearance is not something most people decide to do lightly. Because there’s that “permanent” bit in there when it comes to tattoos, since laser removal is expensive, and imperfect;
c) there is an age-of-consent for body mod for a reason, specifically to prevent people too young to make these kinds of decisions from making them on their own;
d) there is also the assumption that, just because someone is young, they are stupid, or incapable of knowing what they want for themselves and their lives, or aren’t capable of making long-term decisions about their own body, which is a crock of shit; and
e) most of the people I know that have lived with their mods for a number of years have not, in fact, ended up regretting the majority of them. You get the odd few — a sleeve that wasn’t well-thought out, placement that was a mistake — but overall? Most people are proud to show off their jewellery and ink, because there is meaning behind it for them, and it acts as their own personal highlight reel of important moments in their life.

“It’s unprofessional.” Um. Sure. If you’re wearing a sleeveless top and happen to have a gyrating stripper tattooed on your bicep. The notion that inked skin is somehow unprofessional makes me grind my teeth a little. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, makeup, watches, high heels, hair dye, and nail polish are fine, but ink isn’t? Studs or rings that are punched through anything but earlobes are unacceptable? That seems kind of arbitrary. I can understand an employer not wanting their employees to display curse words, sexually explicit images, or drug references on their skin or clothing, but telling someone with a flower or inspirational quote inked on their wrist that they’ve screwed themselves over professionally seems harsh. I mean, okay, sure. Some fields might take exception to that. But it seems kind of ridiculous that employers and workplaces should evaluate potential hires by their appearance, by something that that someone has chosen to do with their own body that in no way affects whether or not they are competent at or qualified for the job in question.

This last one kind of directly related to all of the above — the argument that ink, piercings, and other forms of body mod are “unnatural”. First of all, lemme say this: there is no such thing as “unnatural”. Nature is free; if it is possible, nature has done it already. The “natural/unnatural” argument only ever comes in to play when someone is scrabbling desperately for an excuse as to why someone else shouldn’t do something. The bigger counterargument for this, though, is “So what?” Every single day, we all do a veritable shit ton of things to our bodies that are “unnatural”. The only difference is that those body-altering things are socially sanctioned. Things that I listed above like makeup, hair dye, shaving practises, and nail polish are all great examples. “But those are temporary!” people will argue. Which, okay, fine. How about some permanent examples, then?

High heels can cause permanent shortening of the calf muscles, and structural damage to the skeleton. Cosmetic surgery like breast enlargement or reduction, and reconstructive surgery post-accident are permanent, too. Having teeth pulled because they are broken or infected isn’t a short-term thing either. You also don’t find animals swapping out defective organs from the living with relative healthy organs from the dead.

We do lots of things that would make animals or aliens drop their jaws. Throughout the course of our lives, we take medications, have routine dental care, undergo surgery for medical and/or cosmetic reasons, squeeze our bodies into different shapes with corsets, athletic supports and Spanx,  and make conscious decisions about whether or not to reproduce. So, really, at the end of the day, your argument of “that’s unnatural” really boils down to “I think that’s disgusting” which is nothing but an opinion that you really ought to keep to yourself, or express to other like-minded individuals rather than crapping all over someone’s else body, day, and choices.
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Social Media

I’m a weirdo. Anyone who’s flipped through five or more blog posts of mine will know this. But I’m an even bigger weirdo on the subject of social media.

Every so often, I get friends or family members urging me to join some social network or other. I always end up laughing them off. Because, well, here’s the thing: I have never had a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr account. And I don’t really want to change that. Oh, I’ve dabbled in some of the other social media sites, even some of the bigger ones. I have friends with Tumblr blogs that I stalk, because I love their content.

But, on the whole? I’m happy without it. Without the sense of competition, without people prying into my business, without losing time that could have been better spent on writing or sleeping or spending face-to-face time with people.

Mostly, though, I’m happier without social media because, from where I’m standing? The whole thing looks like a never-ending series of train wrecks, and I have no desire to be on any of those trains. I’m good over here, outside the blast radius, where I can occasionally pull up a lawn chair and some popcorn if I’m in the mood to watch things explode.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

First Impressions

So, today when I clawed my way out of my death-sleep, I emerged from my bedroom to see that my living room was filled with people — at which point I went, “There’s people,” and started scurrying towards the kitchen and salvation (AKA: the kettle). When the people started trying to talk — probably to introduce themselves — I gave a little wave before scuttling faster and muttering, “I’m not a people yet.”

As it turns out, the people in my living room were Fatherbot’s Life Coach, my siblings’ counsellor, and the new counsellor being brought onto my family’s Mental Health Team. The Life Coach, who’d met me before, laughed. The other two were kinda puzzled until Fatherbot explained. When I re-entered the room, mug of tea in hand and brain quasi-functional, they pretended I wasn’t there until I proved my peoplehood and spoke to them.

So, that happened. At least it wasn’t a complete disaster.

I wish I could say that this was atypical of most of my first impressions, but that would be a lie.
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

Confession # 102:

So, there are times when I feel the nearly-irresistible urge to say something so heinous and shocking that it makes whoever I’m in the room with shut the fuck up.

Ex:
Prof: Freud says you want to sleep with your father!
Me: Nope.
Prof: But you do! You just don’t know you do.
Me: Nah, been there, done that. ‘M over it.

Ex. 2:
Middle-Aged Suburban Housewife: It was so terrible, the pneumonia. It was awful, having to be admitted to the hospital. I was so glad they let me go home that night, but the antibiotics were terrible, and I just hated what they did to my body.
Me: Try being hooked up to IV antibiotics, and then having to re-learn how to walk because you nearly died. Then we can talk.

Ex. 3:
Middle-Aged Amateur Carpenter: My wife had to chase me down and sit on me to get the splinter out of my hand.
Me: I lied there fully conscious and unsedated while the doctor shoved a big-ass needle into my eye, and you’re freaked out over a splinter?

Ex. 4:
Random Classmate: I could never do [heinous/illegal/terrible thing]!
Me: I bet money that if someone threatened you or the life of your little brother, you’d find that you could.

Ex. 5:
Phone: *rings for the umpteenth time*
Me: Karl’s Sex Toy Emporium, how can I help you?

Of course, the hilarious bit is that my brother is pretty much the same. Snippet of a conversation that’s actually happened:

Teenage Boy: *makes a “your mom” joke*
Will: Yeah, my mom’s dead.
Teenage Boy: *flounders* I’m sorry.
Will: I’m sure you are. That’s why you made that joke in the first place, right?
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

Selective Snobbery

Anyone who knows me well will know that I’m a bit of a tea snob. As in, I am very particular about how I prepare and drink my tea, because there are a bunch of little tips and tricks that help make every cup absolutely perfect.

I don’t know how many people are like me, but I feel like sharing anyway:

#1: Don’t squeeze your tea bag. It’s a common mistake, but it will make your tea bitter, and more-or-less impossible to drink without sugar.

#2: Loose-leaf really is better than bagged – I know it seems pretentious, but I’ve tried both, and I do actually know what I’m talking about. But I won’t judge you for just not having the time or patience to deal with loose-leaf. I get it. It’s a pain in the ass. (Although, pro tip: if you clean out your French coffee press really well, it can double as a no-hassle way to steep loose-leaf tea, and tend to be easier to clean than most infusers/tea balls.)

#3: Heat your teapot. Because, believe it or not, pre-heating your teapot (or teacup, if you’re brewing one individually) actually results in better-tasting tea – it allows the tea leaves to steep at the proper temperature, rather than a slightly-lower one because the ceramic is soaking up the heat.

#4: Teapots are your friends. No, really. They brew better-tasting tea because THEY ARE MAGICAL. (Actually, I think it’s because they trap heat and keep the tea steeping at a more consistent temperature, but “magic” seems valid.)

#5: “Boiling” is not always the right temperature for your tea. White and green tea leaves are more delicate, and boiling water will scorch them. You actually need water that is just shy of boiling for white and green tea blends – though boiling is fine for black and red teas (reds often go by the name “rooibos”), and for most herbal blends (which are properly called “infusions”, because they don’t have tea leaves in them). If you’re not sure how to get the water temp right for green/white tea, you can do one of two things:
1) let the water come to a boil, and then wait three minutes before pouring
2) let the water heat until it is steaming hot enough to be uncomfortable when you pass your hand over the pot/kettle spout

#6: In much the same way that green and white teas have different optimum brewing temperatures, they have different ideal brewing times than red and black teas. Red and black tea typically need to steep anywhere from 2-5 minutes, with 3-4 usually being ideal. White and green teas, on the other hand, only take 1-2.5 minutes to steep. Longer than that, and they develop a grassy, muddy, or bitter taste.

#7: Dunk your teabag. I know, this sounds really odd, but by dunking your teabag while your cup of tea steeps, you force the water in and out of the bag, which releases more antioxidants and other healthy compounds into your tea. It also helps compensate for brewing tea in a cup rather than a pot.

#8: Not all green tea is created equal. Matcha is powdered tea made from the whole leaf, where other kinds are the dried leaf itself, in whole or in part. As a result, matcha is supposed to give a long-lasting, slow-release of caffeine and healthy compounds to help get you through your day. Additionally, there is a difference in quality and taste from brand to brand no matter what kind of green tea you drink – and which you like best will largely be a matter of personal preference. My only advice on this front is to go with a brand, any brand, over a no-name variety, because while the no-name versions are less expensive, they also tend to taste like lawnmower clippings.

#9: There are lots and lots of teas that do not taste good cold. I often see diet advice suggesting people brew and then chill different kinds of tea, and drink that instead of juice or pop. While the advice is sound on a dietary front, there are a number of teas that are 10x better hot than they are cold. If you want to try making an iced version, I suggest using any kind of plain tea, or a very, very simple one – teas with more complex flavours tend to taste “flat” when cold.

#10: Don’t use milk in green, white, or herbal teas. This one is really a matter of preference, but as a general rule, milk in these kinds of teas tends to taste really awful. Black teas are amazing with milk, and red teas are a little hit and miss – it depends on the blend. As a general rule, if the blend contains fruit, no matter what type of tea it does or doesn’t contain, you’re safer going milk-free.
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

The Zombie Shuffle

I am not a morning person. Shocking, I know, since I’ve ranted about being nocturnal before. But, well. It’s more than that.

When I sleep, I sleep hard. I sleep like the fucking dead. Anything short of an actual emergency isn’t even going to register as a blip on my radar when I’m out cold. I’ve slept through house parties, car alarms, alarm clocks, telephone calls, screaming matches — you name it, and I’ve probably slept through it. And while this makes sleeping around inconsiderate carbon-based life forms easier, it also makes transitioning between states of consciousness kind of, well . . . I refer to my “waking up” routine as “The Zombie Shuffle” for a reason.

I wake up confused. Anything said to me before I have actually hauled ass out of bed gets eaten by the trash compacter in my brain. Retrieval is not nearly as safe or efficient as simply repeating whatever it was that you wanted me to know.

That first cup of tea is vital. Everyone I live with knows better than to talk to me before I have the first cup of tea in me. Well. Tea and/or breakfast. Because I tend not to like humanity much when I’m feeling distinctly zombiesque, in part because I greatly dislike feeling undead, but also because I’m totally down for trying out the zombie-diet until I’m reminded why that’s a bad idea. (It’s a pretty standard list: the level of clean-up required. Prion disease. The fact that brain matter has a distinctly slimy texture.) Also, I’m not touchy-feely upon waking for similar reasons. It’s usually best to hold off and let me initiate contact — like letting the wild and potentially-chomp-happy wild animal come to you when it feels safe.

In short: Death to mornings! All hail tea, the saviour of civilization and my floors! (I know, I know, my British is showing.)
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

“I Did A Thing”

. . . those are apparently terrifying words that signal the revelation of some mind-bending crazy.

At least, if you believe my siblings. Because that is the consensus they have reached regarding those words coming out of my mouth. Other terrifying sentences include, “So, I had an idea” and “Remember how I said . . . ?”

Because I did a thing. A thing that was scary and exciting, that convinced Liz that I am nuts. But, well . . . I’m not sure that that really means anything, because she thought I was crazy before. And “crazy” (and all it’s variants) aren’t exactly derogatory around here. In fact, they’re really more like terms of endearment.
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I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.