The rest of away

It’s taken me a bit to somewhat process this past weekend.
(Side note, I’m watching Teen Mom 2 and this is the second one of these dumbass girls I’ve watched act like an invalid after her boob job. What the actual hell is the matter with me, watching this nonsense?)
Anyway, we spent the weekend at my first comic convention. I was prepared and not prepared – I mean, I’ve watched the documentaries and the sitcoms and read articles, nerds are weird. I know this.
But it was a good opportunity for the podcast, so I went. With Prozac. Prepared to network and schmooze.
While there’s lots to tell you about the weekend in general (like hello awesome food!, and being in the same room as Billy Dee Williams’ pee, and the time I thought I might see a man die and I acted anything but admirably), right now I want to focus on the actual event.
How it was stinky. Crowded. Germy. Confusing. And absolutely spectacular.

We had preordered our tickets (which was my first time ever to use Passbook on my phone, and I totally felt like the Jetsons with my virtual roboticket), so there wasn’t much of a wait to strap on some armbands and stand in line with pretty much every variety of person on the planet.

Seriously, this was as good as people watching gets. Costumes and pajama pants, stilettos and flip flops, and absolutely everything else imaginable. Spandex. Sequins. Feathers. Rubber. Metal. Cardboard. Want to wear some ears and a tail? Awesome. Top hat? Help yourself. Flippers with no other hint of a costume? Have some nachos.

And yeah, they stunk. Some of them did. Some of them smelled fantastic – particularly these two chicks who I’m fairly absolutely concretely certain were prostitutes. But they were all so… connected. It was such a community of all these people who mostly didn’t know each other. There was trust in so many iterations – from the toddler in his Iron Man outfit who won a sword fight with a Stormtrooper to the mom of two in her steampunk corset and bustle who didn’t give a shit what you thought about her cellulite. It was freeing just to be there, to be able to take in the attitude of acceptance.

And also…the talent. It was a grab bag of you-pick-it eeney meanie miney holy balls. I have never been in tossing distance of so much ability in my life. It was amazing and humbling and completely exciting. I still don’t really have the right words.

I am not and never have been what anyone would call a cool person. I’m not with it or hip or anything the kids like these days. And in theory, neither were these people, right?

I mean, according to the movies and high school and anything I ever learned from band camp, these are the punch lines, right? The nerds, the geeks, the people who don’t fit in.

Except these people were amazing. They were real and colorful and…themselves.

That’s it. That’s what it was.

There was no apology in any of this past weekend. No one was sorry for being whoever it was they wanted to be. It was open and obnoxious, and the most authentic experience I’ve ever had.

I met some amazing people. Made some connections I will treasure. Hopefully some of the people I met will take a turn to post here sometime soon, and I’m excited about that.

For now though, I’m still sorting through everything I learned this weekend. About myself, about my world. About comic books and zombies. About how lucky I am to realize that just because there’s no one like me doesn’t mean there’s anything to change about me.

***all photos used with permission, courtesy of Keith Reed, whom I found on the Twitters.

 

In progress.

I’ve found that it’s easiest to be frustrated with change when it’s disappointing.

 

I had, like everyone does, a picture of what I expected from my life at whatever point. This point. Three years from now.

 

I wouldn’t be upset if, say, I were a millionaire this time next year. That’s not in my plan, but I think I could handle it.

 

(On a completely separate note, I’m watching the State of the Union and DAMN MY PRESIDENT HAS BALLS. Just saying.)

 

It’s when things go wrong that I don’t handle things well. 

 

When there’s less money than I need.

When a little girl looks at me to make it feel better and I can’t.

When I’m presented with a fourth grade math problem and I have no clue ho to begin it.

When the house looks like a cotillion of hobos took it over the night before.

 

I know I sound like a whiny brat. A pampered little simp. I suppose I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I am totally at a loss. A loss of drive and fervor, a loss of confidence and security.

 

I suppose I need to buck up. Have a backbone.

 

I’m working on it.

Forward Ho

 
I hereby greet the new year.
 
There are lots of superstitions about bringing in a new year. 
 
I stayed in one spot for a full extra thirty seconds after Lucy hurled on my shoulder and hair just so I could get my midnight kiss on Saturday night. 
 
You’re welcome, surrounding partygoers. You’re welcome.
 
My point is that there are lots of things that tradition dictates one must do or not do to usher in a new year.
 
Eat certain foods. 
Be loud at midnight to scare away evil spirits.
Refrain from paying bills.
Postpone laundry (something I only found out AFTER I put the puke clothes in to wash).
Along with lots of others…some that make sense and some that simply sound stupid.
 
But it can’t hurt, right? Like avoiding black cats or throwing salt or not stepping on cracks…why tempt fate?
 
Except I think sometimes I get so focused on the why-not-it-can’t-hurt-just-do-it mindset of a new calendar that I overlook some things that might actually be useful.
 
Like starting new. Forgetting things past and having a clean slate, letting go of baggage which serves no purpose besides gall.
 
So instead of remembering why QR Nobody  annoyed the shit out of me in 1999, or what Sal Asshole did to give him his Asshole name, I’m clearing accounts. 
 
Starting over.
 
Cleaning out.
 
Second (third, fourth) chances all around.
 
I feel it will help my soul.
 
Happy new year. Look ahead, not behind.

Christmas Confessions

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit at a loss. Like I don’t have much to say.
 
Which is probably more than a little ironic, seeing as one of my main complaints these days is that I don’t have enough people to talk to.
 
This should solve that problem, right? To just blather out everything I think in the middle of the world.
 
It doesn’t. It doesn’t make sense to me.
 
Anyway, I wrote that whole other post about getting into the holiday spirit…but the truth is I haven’t. I love the tree and I love the time off that my family will have soon, but I haven’t gotten into the whole present/gift/happy buying spirit yet.
 
I haven’t bought the first present yet.
 
ISN’T THAT AWFUL?
 
Shameful. I know. It is.
 

There are people on my Facebook and Twitter and wherever else who have been buying gifts and planning since September.
 
SEPTEMBER.
 
Josh and I traditionally wait until Christmas Eve. 
 
I don’t see that changing this year.
 
And what’s worse, one of the main reasons I wait so long every year is that I just damn despise most people. We went in WalMart the night we put up the Christmas tree, and after the fourth person ignored Lucy’s, “Hi! Hi! Hi!” and the second old lady stood UNDER OUR ELBOWS at the checkout, I turned to Josh and said, “Oh my god I fucking HATE CHRISTMAS.”
 
I know. It’s harsh. But sweet Moses, what happened to grace? Manners? Decency? Personal space? Isn’t this the season of good will and brotherly love and all that shit?
 
I know I don’t exactly sound like the poster child for any of those things…but here in Baptist Town should it be me?
 
So anyway, this week is Christmas. Shop local. Be nice. 
 
Ho ho ho.

This is why I think church kind of sucks

This past Sunday, we the Steens decided to go on a small road trip. We needed to go to Five Guys, Target, etc.

 

So we went, after convincing my Mom to loan us her car (we take her car on trips like that because it gets good gas mileage and is always clean).

 

In my mom’s car, I found a copy of a recent bulletin from her church. While I was somewhat afraid that my blaspheming fingers might cause it to burst into flame, I looked over it. 

 

Josh noticed the blurb pictured below, and he observed that the Brittany Settle mentioned would have been in school with our friend Marty.

 

So I did some research. Because I’m a trouble stirrer.

 

In 1991, Brittany Settle was indeed given an assignment for a term paper. The teacher was clear in her terms: pick whatever you want to write about, get it approved, and then write about it.

 

So Brittany chose her topic. She chose the topic of “drama,” which I can only assume meant things like traveling troupes and Globe Theatre and the like.

 

Then, for whatever reason, she changed her mind. She decided to write about Jesus instead. I can only imagine the reasoning. Maybe she thought it would be easier, maybe she knew she had a good paper in her brain, bred from years of Bible verses and Sunday School.

 

She decided to change topics and she wrote what I’m sure was an excellent paper. 

 

However, she never got the change approved. She didn’t give her teacher any heads up at all, and so when she turned in what was supposed to be a paper about actors and dramatics and it was instead about Jesus, she failed.

 

It’s a lesson I learned in about the fifth grade – you don’t follow directions, you fail your shit.

 

The fact that the situation then escalated to court dates and appearances on church bulletins two decades later is just a little ridiculous.

Thoughts on competition

(looking for the giveaway?)

So we’ve talked about the competition that I’m in for the blogging scholarship. A normal person would link to the voting thing right about now, but I’ve pretty much given up hope of winning. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Which is good, because it frees me up to say what I really think.

I mean, I was never officially hindered, but if I were talking trash and then I accepted ten grand from them that would be a little bit of bad form. Which I try to avoid. Sometimes.

But I won’t be accepting any money from them, so I’ve got some things to say.

Within a few hours of the email announcing the finalists, several of the finalists had hundreds of votes. Within a day or so, the numbers had escalated to tens of thousands.

It was intimidating, especially considering that the top contender at one point had 64,567 votes to my 75.

Then Friday night I got an email saying that the votes had been reset, due to “ballot stuffing” – which is a term I’ve never heard before. But I suppose it makes sense.

The same people are winning now, which is what was expected I guess.

The reset, though, led to a situation I hadn’t anticipated. I soon received an email from a fellow contestant, and this dude is PISSED. He’s angry that the suspected cheaters were not removed from eligibility (basically there was no way to know that it wasn’t done by a third party, the people said), and he’s calling for people to petition the proprietors. Then the website edits his comments calling for the petition, saying they don’t appreciate “hate mail.”

Hence commences a series of “reply-all” conversations, picking and sniping and keeping serene zen all in turn.

Which brings me to my reevaluation of the entire situation.

I think online voting is a shit way to determine something like a scholarship. I purposely haven’t perused the other blogs because I tend to get down on myself, so I don’t know how I stack up against any of them, hence this statement is unbiased: I think merit and need and all around awesome should be factors in the decision. I think it should be decided by committee or whatever. The current system is obviously flawed.

Besides that, we all know that popular doesn’t always equal best. Ashton Kutcher has five zillion followers on Twitter and Ke$ha is a thing.

Proof provided.

Foots and Balls

Max is playing flag football this year.

It’s a big deal.

The last time he was involved in any sort of organized sport, it was soccer. He kind of spent the games wandering around on the field seeing how deeply he could dig into the grass with his cleats.

Since then, we’ve kind of steered clear of athletics. But lately Josh and Max have been spending lots of time outside tossing the football, running and passing and all sorts of technical things I only understand superficially (except for when it comes to fantasy football, cause we all know I’ve got that in the bag).

The form for flag football came home a few weeks ago, and we jumped on it. The practices began on a day Max had a field trip, so he only caught half of the first one.

Then the next week, the coach had said in a text that they had practice “after school til 4:45″ which for some reason I interpreted as “bring the kid for practice at 4:45.”

So Max arrived right on time to miss the entire practice.

The next two practices? Rained out.

So that meant that my son stepped out onto the field for his first game last night with roundabout half an hour of practice under his belt.

So yeah, I’m not exactly living up to the fantastic supportive football mom.

I will go ahead and admit that I was a bit wary for Max’s team last night. We arrived and his team conglomerated on a slope and ran a series of plays. The lineup did not look airtight.

The other team, to begin the game, gathered on the opposite end of the field and burst through a paper banner like they were damned Notre Dame and ripped down the grass.

I was very close to turning tail and getting the hell out of there, my kid had no place with these steroidal fourth graders.

But I was strong.

We stayed.

And Max’s team won. 12 – 0.

The kids played well, everyone was a good sport except one of the coaches, and even the kids knew to just roll their eyes and ignore him.

So my attitude towards tiny sports has softened. I will go next week prepared to be intimidating. We even talked to Max about his game face.

And Max will go to practice, too.

My guns aren’t his guns or hers

I’ve made reference before to issues I’ve had with a local organization and how they don’t like the Steens.

Basically, in a nutshell, for those of you just tuning in: our community theatre, for one reason or another, has effectively banned Josh and I from ever taking part again. Unless we grovel and beg or something.

And that ain’t happenin’.

Dan, though, is still pretty involved with that organization, they like him and stuff.
Which is great, I mean, good for him. And them. And whoever.

My misgivings have resurfaced lately with my kids’ desire to be involved.

It’s a mishmash of strange feelings I’m not really accustomed to…

When I was little, I very much wanted to be involved with the theatre. I even auditioned once, but I wasn’t cast. Consequently it took me years to muster up the courage to integrate myself. I don’t want that for my kids.

Now that they’re old enough to actually want to do things and be involved, I don’t really want to stand in the way.

But how to explain that? “Kids, the people there don’t like me or Josh so have fun, I’ll watch the DVD of the show.”

No. Think what you want, but I wouldn’t do that.

Which I guess means that I will go. Of course I’ll go. I’ll watch the show and Lucy will yell with glee (oooh, speaking of Glee, I am SO glad it’s back on. Seriously, enchanted.) and we will stride in and out amidst a huge cloud of weird.

But it’s worth it, right? I mean, no matter how many puckered glares I withstand, I’m totally not going to break. And if I’m honest…if I cared what anyone thought about me I probably wouldn’t say all this shit anyway.

And who am I kidding? These kids are awesome – I’d let anyone look sour at me if it made them happy. Because they won’t remember me going to a den of tightly drawn assholes who don’t like us…they’ll remember I saw their show. And that’s fine by me.