A Boobtacular 15th

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

It’s the anniversary of my breast reduction surgery! Hooray!

Break out the party hats and the balloons because it was 15 years ago today that I went under the knife and changed my life. My surgery scars are now eligible for their learner’s permit.

I’ve written about the struggle of having large breasts and the relief that surgery provided me. I’ve written about the scars that the surgery left behind and the struggle with the insecurities the scars have caused. I’ve even told my favorite boob story.

This year to celebrate, I’m going to tell you all a pre-surgery story.

My breast reduction was scheduled for eight in the morning, so I had to be there at six. My friend Gin had graciously volunteered to come out and take care of me, getting me to the hospital, hanging out with me there, taking me home, and minding me for a few days afterward. When we got to the hospital, we were met by my friend (and co-worker at the time) Josh.

I got checked in and settled into my room. Gin and Josh kept me company until it was time to go under the knife. When the nice nun came in to ask if I’d like to pray before surgery, I politely declined, thanking her anyway. There may have been a comment made after she left that the nice nun praying for me would have been pointless as I make angels cry.

Anyway.

I can’t remember where Gin had gone to, but when the nurse came in to insert my IV, only Josh was with me. Now, I’m not afraid of needles. Naturally, I’d prefer not to be punctured by them, but for me, they’re no big deal. Josh, on the other hand, didn’t like needles. At all. Period. But, Josh is a sport and he wanted to be supportive. So while this nurse tried to insert my IV, Josh held my other hand.

And he also held the hospital menu in front of his face so he wouldn’t actually have to see the nurse trying to establish my IV.

Which felt like it took forever because she said she couldn’t find a vein. And I’m looking at this poor nurse like, “Lady, I’m so white I’m practically see-through. What do you mean you can’t find a vein?” while Josh is looking at this menu like, “Oh, they have cottage cheese. How interesting.” And despite this woman digging around in my arm with a needle trying to strike oil, which stings quite a bit, I’m trying desperately not to laugh at the absolute absurdity of this situation and make it all worse. Because if I started laughing, that poor lady was never going to get that IV done.

Some people feel apprehensive about having surgery. No matter if it’s elective or necessary, life-threatening or minor, anesthesia will be administered, incisions will be made, blood will be lost, and the chance of death will linger. Others feel excited. Whatever had been burdening them is going to be fixed. They’re going to go to sleep sick and wake up better.

I, on the other hand, felt totally calm. Not really apprehensive. Not excited. Just zen and ready.

The comfort of knowing there’s cottage cheese on the hospital menu is clearly underrated.

Learning How to Have Bad Days

Of all of my annoying personality traits (and I have so many), being too hard on myself is easily in the top twenty. Maybe the top fifteen. I have no ability to cut myself any slack whatsoever. In my perception of myself, there is no reason for me not to do or be or achieve and my failure in that regard is glaring.

The fact that I didn’t own the world before I was 30 has weighed heavily on me.

For most people, a bad day is just that. It’s one day in which things are shit for whatever reason. It’s a blip on the radar screen of life, an expected anomaly that happens on occasion. It’s just a garbage day made to be thrown into the trash and forgotten about in time.

But for me, a bad day turns into a confirmation that I am, in fact, a garbage person.

The days that I’m feeling physically puny for whatever reason, that I struggle to get through my workouts or maybe I don’t even get through my workouts, just confirms that I am a lazy piece of shit. God, other people are doing much harder workouts. All I’m doing is some belly dance and yoga and a few push-ups. Being tired isn’t an excuse. Feeling fatigued isn’t an excuse. Being sick or feeling unwell isn’t an excuse.

The bad brain days that make thinking hard, concentrating difficult, that make writing a struggle, those days just confirm that I’m an unambitious, lazy piece of shit. God, it’s not like I’m doing anything hard, right? I should be able to get much more done, much more written, much more revised. Other people are doing a lot more than I am even on my best day. Being tired, having a headache, being overwhelmed by dark thoughts, anxious thoughts, depressed thoughts, is not an excuse.

Notice how I equate bad days with being lazy. There’s no bigger fault in my stars than being lazy. Had that one drilled into me. It’s fine for other people, but not for me.

I am learning, slowly and the hard way because that’s the only way I can learn anything (easily in my top five annoying personality traits), how to have a bad day. That it’s okay to have a bad day. Well, maybe not okay because nobody wants to have a bad day, but I’m slowly learning that having a bad day is not a moral failing. Bad days happen to everyone indiscriminately. The biggest asshole and the sweetest saint have bad days. The bad day isn’t the issue. How I respond to the bad day is.

Slowly, I’ve let up on myself when having a bad day. I’ve stopped beating myself up on those days, stopped stomping myself into the ground when I’m already feeling low. No more insults to my injuries. I’m training myself to rethink those days.

On the bad days, I try to focus on what I do get done. Yes, it wasn’t the greatest belly dance routine of my life, but I got through it. Yes, I sort of rushed my yoga routine and didn’t get as much focus from my postures as I normally do, but I did find a bit of peace while doing them. I didn’t get as much revising or writing done, but I got something done and when I come back to it tomorrow, that’s less that I have left to do.

My brain is a real stubborn bastard and it’s not easy rewiring its thinking ways. But I’m doing it.

It makes the bad days a little easier to deal with.

New and Newish Things

As you know, my laptop crashed last month leaving me in quite the lurch and limbo, necessitating the purchase of a new laptop.

Without a steady day job and two months of no sales, let’s just say that the purchase was an incredibly painful one.

So, here are a few potential salves for that financial wound.

First of all, “Summer Rot”, which used to be over at Suburban Fool, is now available in the Freebies section. It’s quite different from most of the stuff I write and even though it’s a freebie, I think it’s still worthy of a read.

There are two new stories in the Storytime Jukebox, “There and Not” and “Erin Go Bragh”.

“There and Not” is a short little ditty about a man who has trouble trusting his senses. “Erin Go Bragh” is about a terrifying night swim. If you were around for the very beginning of my self-publishing exploits, then you’ll recognize “Erin Go Bragh”. But it’s been out of print for years, so it’s time for a revival.

For those new to this show, the Storytime Jukebox is a pay whatever endeavor. Pay whatever you want and get the story/stories you request.

I’ve also launched paperback editions of Gone Missing and The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys. Consider this testing the waters of Amazon’s new paperback option. The lack of Kindle sales recently and the fact that neither of these stories has sold well as ebooks makes me wonder if they might work better as paperbacks. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

Of course, if $5.99 is too pricey for you, both are still available as ebooks. Gone Missing is only $1.99; The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys is still only $0.99 AND you can also find it in Ghostly, which is also $1.99.

In old news: there’s always time to become a Murderville patron. There’s one more episode of The Last Joke left (plus a bonus episode later in the year) and I’m working on a fun reward for the next goal.

And, of course, if you don’t want to buy any of my work or become a patron, or if you already have, you can always buy me a coffee.

Any help would be very much appreciated, so spread the word!

July Writing Projects

June was certainly an interesting month. My primary goal was to get the first draft of Murderville Season 2 written and I did it, though it didn’t happen nearly as easily I thought it would. I was all set to be finished early, before my trip with my roommate to Chicago to see a couple of Cubs games, when disaster struck.

My laptop crashed.

Though I regularly back-up my work, I hadn’t yet backed up Murderville Season 2 (or a few other things). With my laptop dead and my hard drive looking lost, I was feeling pretty hopeless. I bought a new laptop (ouch) and, at a friend’s suggestion, a hard drive enclosure. Luckily for me, I was able to fix the hard drive on my old laptop enough to salvage my work. And I did end up finishing the first draft of Murderville Season 2 before the end of the month.

Still doesn’t have a title yet, though.

This month I plan to do another round of revisions on “August 8, 2015”, “A Girl’s Best Friend”, and “Suicide Paris Green”. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get them completely finished this month (as in polished and pretty), but it’s looking more and more likely that I won’t have the next short story collection out before the end of the year. I feel like I’ve got a hundred things going and I’m not gaining ground on any of them right now.

That’s the risk I run working on more than one thing at a time, but my brain isn’t wired to focus on a single project at once. The risk is usually worth it.

This month I also might try shopping Come to the Rocks. When I started writing it, I figured it was guaranteed to be another self-publishing venture, but after revising and polishing, I think I might see if there’s any good fits out there. Novellas are a hard sell and I imagine that novellas featuring lesbian mermaids, the bisexual women who love them, and the murderous plots developed to keep them safe might be an even harder sell, but there might be a small press out there simply aching for it. Besides, it’s been ages since I’ve even tried to shop something of mine. I might as well dust off those underdeveloped skills and see what’s what.

I’m also struggling to come up with a new $25 goal for the Murderville Patreon. I’ve had some suggestions and I’m mulling them over, but so far, I haven’t decided on anything yet.

Ah, the pressure to make good. It’s the pressure that squishes me quicker than any other.

But! The show goes on and there are only two episodes left! Episode 7 of Murderville: The Last Joke, “To Find a Crime Scene”, goes live on July 11th. $1 gets you a read, $2 gets you access to the bonus content. Don’t miss out just because I haven’t decided on a new goal reward yet!

More Than Just a Story Challenge

The entry deadline for the Simon & Schuster Prose Challenge has passed. They’re supposed to announce the 50 best stories on June 21st, so I guess that reading/liking/reposting/commenting will still be happening in an official capacity until then (if the contest is a popularity contest, as most suspect, in which the more likes you get, the “best”-er you are). So, please, continue reading and liking and sharing “Take the 55 North” until then. And beyond then. My ego is always in need of boosting.

As much as I would like to be in that top 50 for the chance to get a Simon & Schuster editor to read my work (and I would really, really like that, make no mistake), I am happy that a more personal challenge has already been met.

I woke up the morning after the deadline to “Take the 55 North” having garnered 21 likes, 9 reposts, and over 370 reads. Six people left very lovely comments. This is may not seem like much, but for me, this kind of support is huge. I labor under the delusion that no one is interested in my writing, that I don’t write anything that anyone else wants to read. So to see numbers like that, it really encourages me.

It also encourages me to see how supportive people have been. In addition to people taking the time to read my story and sign up so they could leave a comment or a like or repost it, people were also retweeting my tweets about this challenge and sharing my posts over on Facebook about it.

I am not a very good self-promoter. I feel like no one gives a shit about my writing career and I’m just annoying them when I do any sort of promoting about it. With this challenge, I made a conscious choice to promote it -and, therefore, myself- more. Clearly, I didn’t do it to excess, but I did it much more often than I normally would have. I’m sure I annoyed some people. But many others also showed up to support me and that means the world to me. It showed me that I shouldn’t doubt that there are folks cheering for me.

So, thank you very much to everyone who supported me. If you signed up to give me a like, thank you. If you gave it a read, thank you. If you reposted it, thank you. If you left a comment, thank you. If you retweeted it, thank you. If you shared a post, thank you.

And if you’ve always done those things and will continue doing those things, THANK YOU!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I appreciate it so much.

Because of you, this particular challenge has been achieved.

“I’d Never Sleep with a Fat Girl”

There’s a flip side to the “I like big girls” coin and it’s called “I’d never sleep with a fat girl” or some variation of that sentiment.

Oh, yes. It is indeed the same coin. Because declaring that you’d never sleep with a fat girl isn’t that different from proclaiming that you like big girls. It all boils down to the same thing.

Centering the conversation around what gets a guy’s dick hard.

Now, in my personal experience, I’ve had more dudes tell me that they like big girls than that they wouldn’t sleep with a fat girl. However, in the case of the latter, it seems to always be a desperation move on the guy’s part. You can almost smell the panic, almost hear the alarm bells ringing in their head.

Oh my God! I think this fat girl might like me! My friends would never stop giving me shit for that! Quick! Say something to reject her without actually rejecting HER.

I am oblivious when it comes to flirtation. I don’t know when people are flirting with me and I don’t realize that others can interpret my behavior as flirtation when I’m just trying to be my usual funny-to-cover-up-my-awkward self. This sort of interpretation leads to the above panic.

And to my own confusion.

I once had a guy say straight out to me, “I would never sleep with a fat girl” and it was so out of the blue that I was momentarily baffled. It wasn’t until later that the I figured out that the guy was having “fat girl panic”.

On another occasion I had a guy casually remark that he could never date a girl with cottage cheese thighs. I can’t remember how this came up in conversation, but it was so oddly offhand. My first thought was along the lines of “Good luck with that”. Again, thinking about it later I identified the comment for what it was.

Listen, fellas, just like it can be cool if you like big girls, it’s also cool on the flip side of the coin if you don’t. If you’re HONEST about why you don’t. And why you feel compelled to declare it.

Would you never sleep with a fat girl because it’s honestly not your aesthetic? You like them just fine as people, as friends, but for whatever reason, a woman with a generous helping of curves doesn’t get your dick hard? That’s cool. No need to shout it from the rooftops unprovoked like a weirdo. It makes everyone uncomfortable and you look like a jackass. Let it come up in conversation naturally, if you must. Or, if necessary, let it happen in private with the fat girl you’re certain is digging on you and the feeling is not mutual.

But if you wouldn’t sleep with a fat girl because what would the guys think? Wouldn’t consider it because the guys would rag on you endlessly? Even if you really liked the fat girl in question? Even if she got your dick hard? Because the guys would just give you way too much shit? Then here’s what you need to do, skippy.

Get new guys.

Because those bros are reading from society’s worn out script. We’re talking cheesy ’80s sitcom worn out, my dude. And not the good kind of cheese either. It’s a rerun even I wouldn’t watch and I watch them all.

Announcing that you would never sleep with a fat girl is doing more than just stating the obvious, sports fans.

It’s also blaring just how cowed by society and insecure about it you really are.

So, no worries there, guys who would never sleep with a fat girl. Fat girls wouldn’t want to sleep with you anyway.

Because that frail ego flailing? Not a good look.

“I Like Big Girls”

It never fails. Whenever I point out the bullshit way society treats fat women, drilling into everyone’s heads that they’re somehow unworthy of any sort of love, sex, or happiness, some dude needs to jump into my mentions with the same tired statement.

“I like big girls.”

Really? Well, good for you. If you’re looking for bonus points for bucking society’s rules of attraction, I’m afraid I’m all out of gold stars. Sorry, fella.

Tell me, my dude, since you’re so keen to make this all about you, why do you like big girls?

Do you like them because you’re genuinely attracted to them? Is that the aesthetic that truly pleases you? The image that gets you hard? Or is it convenience that they represent? The worn out thought that a fat girl will settle for the less of the less, any crumb of attention thrown her way, therefore she’s an easy score and good for your ego? Or is it something in between? Sexual gratification solely because she’s fat with little regard to what kind of a human she is? Or that she’s human at all?

I know that guys like big girls, despite what society instructs. Even if I’d never been hit on by a man in my life, the fact that people find my blog searching “mature chubby fucks” would clue me in. And I know, deep in my cold, black heart that for some guys, fat girls are just peachy. They’re into them for the whole package, not just the aesthetic, not just for perceived convenience.

It’s the declaration that grates me right down to my last nerve.

Guys, take a little advice from a fat girl. Instead of loudly proclaiming “I like big girls” at every opportunity, why don’t you put some fucking thought into your words? For clarity’s sake. Saying you like big girls is lazy and muddled. Just be clear. If you get off on fat girls because that’s your fetish, own it and say so. If you like fat girls because you think they’re desperately easy, then say that (I can’t guarantee that this will help YOU out any, but it will do many favors for the rest of humanity). If you dig fat girls because that’s your “type”, then say it plainly. And if you think that society’s rules about who deserves love, who is allowed to be attractive, who is qualified to be sexy is fucking bullshit, then put that thought in the appropriate words and shout it from the fucking rooftops.

The point is that this conversation need not be centered around you, champ. It’s not the time for free advertisement for your dating profile, nor is it a good opportunity to look for a pat on the back.

You can be supportive without involving your own ego.

Try it. You might like it.

At the very least, you won’t be irritating the fuck out of this fat girl.

Writing Without a Day Job: The Adventure Begins

coinsChild learnin’ has come to an end for me.

This was not entirely unexpected (no need to go into details), though the timing was sooner than I anticipated.

What matters is that I am without a day job of some kind for the first time in six years.  I view this as both a blessing and a challenge. The challenge, obviously, is to pay my bills while also finding a new day job to help supplement my income, especially since I still haven’t replaced the floorset side hustle yet.

The blessing, though, comes in the form of opportunity. When I lost my floorset job, I chose to see it as a push from the Universe to really focus and promote my writing career. I’ve taken tentative steps in doing that. It’s still not something I’m entirely comfortable with. Without any day job, I have the opportunity to really push myself, to make writing my sole focus day job, at least for a little while.

I already had some projects in the works that were in this spirit. They’re going to have priority in the next couple of weeks, that’s for sure. Selling my books, getting patrons for Murderville, making the Storytime Jukebox better, all of that is going to be key. It’s the side of the business that I admit to not working hard enough on because I don’t want to be annoying. I don’t want to be a walking commercial, a constant promotion that ends up being tuned out. But considering how very little I do of it right now, I think a moderate increase wouldn’t be too over the top.

Also, I can no longer use the excuse of not having the time/energy to promote myself. Got plenty of it in the immediate future! No reason not to use some of that free time/free energy to cultivate and utilize some new promotional skills.

The point is that as optimistic as I am, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to survive without a steady day job of some kind. Most writers can’t. However, while I am looking for that new day job, I can take the time to elevate my writing career to a new level. That’s something long overdue.

So, here’s to the next adventure.

Endings are new beginnings and all that.

Am I Numb or Zen?

peaceIf there’s anything funny about my dealings with depression (and there’s little really ha-ha funny about it), then it’s how paranoid it makes me when I’m feeling okay.

I wrote about how my holiday blues in 2015 started too early and ended up deepening into a nice depression that hung around until April like an in-law in a not-funny sitcom. Because of that experience, I was paranoid about that happening again this past holiday season.

We’re talking extremely vigilant.

How am I feeling? Am I sad? Do I hate everything? Am I operating on the frequency of do-not-want more often than not? Do I want to run away? Do I want to give up? Do I want throat punch people for a legitimate reason or just because?

This sort of interrogation happened on a nearly daily basis starting at the end of October. I thought that not dressing up and passing out candy to trick-or-treaters might be a sign that the holiday blues were settling in early once again. But upon reflection, I realized that I was just burned out and not feeling the spirit and therefore, I didn’t feel like forcing myself to do something my heart wasn’t in.

Okay. That’s cool. Very reasonable.

As the holiday season progressed, I kept waiting for the blues to hit, to come rumbling through, maybe dragging a semi-trailer of depression behind it.

Only I kept asking the questions and I kept responding that I was okay. No, really. I’m okay.

This okayness, in turn, jacked up the paranoia regarding my mental state.

Was I really okay? Or was everything in the world at the moment such shit that it fit my mood and it only felt okay? The latter might have been true to an extent. I didn’t even get a real dose of the holiday blues this past season.

So, here I am, a couple of months into the new year and I’m still feeling okay. Things that should be throwing me into a rage, the little things that I’ve become so used to pissing me off, aren’t having that effect on me. I feel okay. I am maintaining my okayness.

Maybe it’s the shift in thinking that occurred at some point late last year. Maybe it’s my 2017 motto, “Let it be”. Maybe it’s the nightly meditation I’ve been doing since late December, which includes chanting certain mantras designed to calm me and keep me optimistic.

Maybe I’m fucking zen.

Or maybe, as my paranoia has repeatedly suggested, I’m numb.

Maybe I’m existing in some sort of dulled stated that has rendered me non-reactionary to certain stimuli in my daily life. Maybe my depression, which I’m so used to operating in a certain way, has now taken on a new dimension, a dimension of numbness that resembles okayness and therefore tricks me into thinking I’m okay when I’m really depressed.

Boy, that mental health paranoia is a real dick sometimes.

But those mantras I’ve been chanting at night before I go to bed have influenced me to think positively about this. Instead of caving to the ravings of my paranoia (which has a long track record of being wrong), I’ve chosen to view this period of mental calm as something to be embraced. It’s almost like I’ve achieved a kind of clarity here. I’m not numb; I’m just not at the mercy of my emotions and my hellscape brain. For now.

I am okay.

I am zen.

Because Nothing Says I Love You Like I Have To

**I’m specifically focusing on het couples in this post because it is in the dynamic of those couples that I’ve really noticed this particular socialization of Valentine’s Day**

heart raysAs a career single person, it’s easy to dismiss anything bad I might have to say about Valentine’s Day. I mean I obviously must be bitter that I’m spending this day of love alooooone, no one to buy me roses or candy or take me to a restaurant that required a reservation six months in advance.

Well, allow me to assure you that I am pleased with my own Valentine’s Day celebration, so this post is not in anyway reactionary to having coupledom shoved down my throat in a pretty pink heart-shaped box.

Rather, it’s the culmination of years of observation of this rose petal bedecked holiday.

After working in the jewelry department at Wal-Mart for three years, I’d come to consider Valentine’s Day as a jewelry extortion holiday. Watching boyfriends and husbands come in and look at the contents of the cases, hopelessly lost, praying for a divine sign that would point out the right gift that would prevent their girlfriend or wife (or girlfriend and wife) from being mad at them. Truly, the romance gymnastics these guys would put themselves through for the women in their lives, knowing they were being judged and scored and compared was really gross to witness.

It was enough to make me swear off the holiday in the event of ever becoming coupled (I also really like watching Vincent Price movies, so I can’t imagine that suddenly going out the window just because I acquire a partner; more likely I’d be like, “Here, sit next to me, hold my hand, and we’ll watch Vincent murder his wife together.”).

In the last week or so, though, the flip side of that extortion coin showed itself.

It’s a trope we see everywhere, in movies and on sitcoms and even in the mundane day-to-day. Guys forget Valentine’s Day, have to scramble for something last minute, have to be FORCED to do anything romantic, get shit from their buddies for attempting any sort of sentimentality, have to be nagged by the women they supposedly love to show them a token of that supposed love.

Let’s face it.

The bulk of Valentine’s Day profits are made off the idea that men are only allowed to show their love one day out of the year. Two, if you want to count anniversaries, but Valentine’s Day, thanks to a constant bombardment of social peer pressure, is the big one.

Think about the constant reinforcement men get from society. It’s sissy bullshit to show your wife or girlfriend that you care about them outside the acceptable boundaries of a specific day. If you’re a REAL MAN, then you only show your love when you’re FORCED to, either by nagging or by Hallmark. And even then, you do it in the most uncreative, cliched, FORCED way possible so nobody suspects that you actually want to do this, even if you maybe, kinda, really do.

And women accept that as normal. They don’t even question the absurdity of it because they’ve been told their whole lives that this is how a REAL MAN is supposed to act.

As someone who’s been consciously uncoupled for the past ten plus years, for whom Valentine’s Day is largely a spectator sport, I find it really fucking weird.

Like, in what way is any of this enjoyable? It looks like the most painful dance since the Achy Breaky.

But it’s a popular dance, one people are ridiculed and pitied for not doing, a dance that people long to have a partner for just so they can do it.

Thankfully, at my advanced age and expert-level singleness, I’m pretty fine with being a wallflower here.

I’d rather dance with someone more in sync with an offbeat rhythm all year long.