ENG 350 – Week 2 – Remainder of California

In my previous post regarding Edan Lepucki’s California I mentioned the symbolic “newness” of the turkey baster and the meaning Frida attaches to her other artifacts.  There are several times where objects—possessions—are triggers for memories or behaviors for Frida and Cal. These same objects, when handled by others, affect the characters. The Bee that Frida finds in Micah’s house meant so much to them as children and brings back pleasant memories for her, but to Micah it is just a tool. Micah understands what artifacts mean to Frida, though, and has August bring back her collection from the Miller Estate. But again, to Micah, they are just a tool to control Frida’s reactions. It’s entirely possible he left the Bee out for her to see. Micah uses Cal in the same way, but targets his ego rather than objects. He know Cal will be chuffed to part of the inner circle; to be let into a room that not even other members of the inner circle get to be in. He gives Cal/Gray an assignment on the inside to keep him in line; to make him feel special. He gives Frida/Julie all the objects of a “normal” life she could ask for.

I don’t particularly like that Lepucki echoed the stereotypes of men and women in the Land, especially after deriding such separations in earlier chapters. Frida willfully enters into “women’s work”; baking, cooking, gossiping. Cal continues with manual labor, security, and intellectualism. What does Lepucki mean to say about the end of the world, or the nature of humanity, by having her starring roles be held by such stereotypes? Even with Sandy, a pioneer through and through, she cared for the kids and did laundry and even pressured Frida to have a child. Bo did the hunting. The labor. “It’s about upper body strength” was used more than once in the novel to explain why Men do certain jobs.

While neither Frida nor Cal’s skills are presented as lesser than the other, the Land still has a clear distinction of how women work/behave/think and how men work/behave/think. Cal collected information from discussions. Frida, from gossip. Cal proved his worth by working. Frida, from bribery (with baked goods). While it could be said that these character choices are just these characters and how they would behave, that doesn’t explain the remainder of the population going along with the same ideals. The Men were in charge. The Men did security outside, the Women inside. The Women used sex to persuade Men. There were jobs that were co-ed, such as the construction, but the one woman in it was considered a shrew for wanting things measured. The men in cooking were considered inept.

ENG 363 – “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay (first half of book)

My fear with any feminism class I take and any feminist book I read is that I’ll be beaten with the two-by-four of feminist rhetoric telling me how awful I am for not embracing the gold-star feminism of hairy-pits and man-bashing. It seems Roxane Gay has this same fear. While she starts the book with essays about herself, she goes on to discuss how pop-culture has skewed her view of feminism and how it could (and does) skew others’ views as well.

I am particularly taken with the essay “Garish, Glorious Spectacles.” I’ve long considered gender (masculinity/femininity) to be purely a performance. It’s an act one puts on to get responses. I’ve never been attached to either femininity or masculinity, having spent much of my younger years being told I was a “tomboy” for liking the things I liked and never really having much interest in the script for “girl”. My lovely housemate found that she also didn’t have much interest in the script for “boy” growing up, and now is finding that the script for “girl” doesn’t quite fit either (but moreso than “boy”). She revels in her ambiguity now, and as I told her I love seeing her happy, “You make others as confused about your gender as you are!” Gay’s readings of “Green Girl” et al affirm/confirm our right to be confused about ourselves by showing how the media portrays the “act” of woman. We know what we are, yet here is a popular TV show showing us what we say we are is not the definition they want to portray. The stereotypes of women are entertaining—an actual woman is human, normal.

Gay’s “Not Here To Make Friends” elaborates more on the stereotypes of women in media negatively affecting women in general. A woman who is portrayed as independent and bold is unlikable, but the same for a man is the ideal. Such it is in life – a woman in leader ship is bossy while a man is just the boss. The essay goes on to to say that it’s foolish to thing of a character needing to be likable to be a good character, man or woman, but a man often gets a bye as the “anti-hero”. A woman is just a bitch.

ENG 350 Week 1 – California Chapters 1-7

The opening of California (by Edan Lepucki) has been refreshing. Growing up with media such as Captain Planet and Ferngully, I’ve been inoculated against the over-the-top personal pleas for the average person doing what they can to fix whatever is wrong with the environment that week. If you, average American child, do not recycle that can, you are leading us to the environmental apocalypse! California acknowledges that the problem isn’t the average American—it’s the rich capitalist, the corporation—that’s causing the problems. It is, however, the average American that suffers.

Frida fawns over her artifacts, including the like-new turkey baster, as reminders of what life was before it began to end. Though as the story progresses, we learn that the end was already there. The irreversible causes had already had their effect, and it was just a matter of time before everyone felt them. Resources became more and more scarce, and only the rich could afford them. Frida’s artifacts seem less like symbols of what her life was, but more like what life should have been had humanity cared enough to not destroy itself. It’s more of a hope that they could return to the ideal, should they come across some wonderful fix or some way to get into the Communities.

Naming their plot of land the Afterlife is a bit like holding on to her collection of objects. While the move there was Frida and Cal’s abandonment of the world, they still call it something based on their interpretation of the world. But the name also shows their acceptance that they really can’t salvage the world in any way. To not call it “Eden” is an admission that the move was not for a new beginning; it was for a new ending. Rather than be just another body in an alley outside a hospital, unable to afford care, they chose to be away from everything and care only for themselves. They threw themselves to the wild knowing full well they could not tame anything.

Lepuki’s descriptions of the wilds reclaiming urban centers and man-made objects makes something extremely clear about global warming and its effects on humanity: the world will continue even if we cannot live in it. Super-storms and other “acts of God” are already present and destroying civilization’s mark upon the world; they’re no different in California. Cal’s parents in Cleveland succumbed to harsh blizzards and the west coast is devastated by other natural events. Being able to ignore it is a privilege for the wealthy, but they are only ignoring what will eventually happen to them.

Reading the beginning of this book I was reminded often of the Fallout series; an eternally wasteful USA drains the world of its resources and goodwill, and succumbs to the events they cannot control. Though it is nuclear war in Fallout, the anarchic, community-based societies that follow the destruction are similar. The isolationists, the raiders/pirates, the feral communities are present in both the Fallout games and California.

Frida and Cal’s devotion to each other is not total—while they are clearly not physically unfaithful, they each, for their own reasons, choose to keep their emotions and thoughts from each other. It is strange that they would do so considering a fear of what the other might think (such as with Frida’s drug use) is a product of a society in which they no longer participate. Even marriage is a relic of this society, just as Frida’s artifacts are.

There is so much that can be said even in these first few chapters about Lepucki’s take on what would happen during the social apocalypse, especially since I haven’t even mention Micah yet. Micah (and his supposed death) is a huge catalyst for both Frida and Cal in the story; his return in chapter 8 intrigues me.

English Classes – Summer 2018

I’m enrolled in two English classes this summer that require blog posts for interaction. I’ll be putting them here on SDO with tags for each class—ENG350 for Dystopian Lit and ENG363 for New Feminist Memoir. Use the links here or below the post to find all writings as they are posted for each class.

Memento Mori – parody

spooky!

Some Art 2-16-16

frisk2-16-16-2ibis2-16-16frisk2-16-16 sans2-16-16

someone I follow on tumblr hosted a drawpile so I drew some Undertale stuff.

Jurack Family Game Night

Saturday night, we had my husband’s side of the family over for our bi-monthly family game night. One of the games suggested by Kim has the lovely title of “Eat Poop You Cat” (a name no doubt inspired by results of a round of the game). The basic premise of the game is that you play telephone on a sheet of paper, and in order to garble the message, every other person draws. It starts with a sentence at the top from one person. The next person draws that sentence, and folds the paper so that only the image is visible. The next writes what they think the original message was that produced that image, they then fold the image away. The next draws that sentence, and so on. I think it works best with an odd number of people, so that when your paper gets back to you, it’s a sentence again.

Round one, we passed to the left.  The seating arrangement was me, James to the left, Dan to the left, , then Kim, Sandy, Lindy, Brett, and back to me.

amanda-left

A grown man sobbing into his pizza a midnight.
Being an extremely sad person eating a pizza with your tail.
I’m sorry I stained my pants with pizza.
I spilled pepperoni pizza on my jeans and I’m sad.

james-left

Frodo biting off Gollum’s finger.
3 men in a cave and one is smacking the other guy while he throws up + the other is shocked.
The caveman puked and his friends watched.
Superman vomiting after toking some bad weed while a two-legged horse runs away.

dan-left

An angry old man eating cereal.
There’s a marshmallow in every bite!
Three tanks in a row without cannons from an aerial perspective.
An endless line of Allied tanks rolling into Germany.

kim-left

Nintendo Mario punched a zombie in the back of the head.
Mario slapped the baby and made him cry.
TOAD IS MEAN TO BABY!!
Toadstool shaking a spoon, sadly, at a crying baby in a push-car.

sandy-left

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
A cat swipes his paws at a dog laying on the ground.
Cat trolls dog and dog doesn’t care.
A spider scared the cat + made him poop while a small dog rode on a big dog that was wagging his tail.

lindy-left

The baby spilled the spaghetti.
A baby spilling food off the high chair, breaking a dish.
A baby crying in his highchair with a sippy cup on it and a broken egg on the floor.
Mama, I dropped my eggs—can I have some more?! PLEASE!

brett-left

Abraham Lincoln loves riding a T-Rex at the moon.
A Victorian gentleman escapes Armageddon by going back in time and riding a a T-Rex to the moon.
The cable man rode a T-Rex through the clouds.
I rode my T-Rex up into the clouds.

Round two, we passed to the right.  The seating arrangement was me, Brett, Lindy, Sandy, Kim, Dan, and James.

amanda-right

I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.
Robin Hood shot his buddy in the leg and smiled about it, while another villager hid behind a tree.
Robin Hood shot the bad guy in the leg while Little Jon hid behind a tree.
The larpers got caught up in a volcanic eruption.

brett-right

The baby feet smell like stinky cheese!
My feet stink as bad as Limburger cheese! Peeuuuuu
OH MY GOD! My stinky feet turned into a pizza-mouse!
Fuck! I have stinky pizza feet again.

lindy-right

Two brothers sporting mustaches rode a whale into town.
Three mustached men rode a whale into a village.
Three mustachioed men ride a blue whale through town.
A mariachi band ride a whale through town.

sandy-right

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffit, eating some curds + whey.
Little Miss Muffet sat on a mushroom (tuffet?) eating her cereal. While along came a spider…
Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating of curds and whey. The spider like to watch.
Little Miss Muffet dipper her finger in a piece of cake, not giving two shits about the spider that sat down beside her.

kim-right

The elf rode the unicorn as they leapt over a rainbow.
Bird-man was surprised by a noise behind him while jumping over rainbow on unicorn.
An angel cheers on a unicorn jumping over a rainbow.
Somewhere over the rainbow unicorns + angels fly.

dan-right

A man naked from the waist down playing the trombone
A man plays the trombone while pants-less and commando.
The trombonist in the UT marching band forgot his pants and everyone saw his family jewels.
Naked marching band.

james-right

Don’t milk that cow, it’s sick!
Don’t milk the cow yet, son. It just pooped and left a pile on the ground.
Let’s go get some cow poop to fertilize the garden!
A dopey cow pooped all up them flowas.

 

I ended up sleeping until after everyone had left … then going back to sleep again until about 5 pm. I guess I wasn’t feeling well.

Dental Issues

Back in January, at my 6-month dental cleaning, the x-rays showed I had a cavity. My first one ever. I went along with the suggestion to get it drilled and filled right away, and within two weeks I had some white resin where there had been solid tooth before. Almost immediately, I had cold sensitivity on that tooth. I figured this was part of the healing process – and the internet confirmed it – so I waited.

Two weeks later, it was still there, but not getting any worse. I saw the Walnut Central Orthodontics dentist and they took new x-rays. It showed that the filling was close to the nerve, but it should heal up soon. The dentist said it might take longer than expected because the drilling had gotten so close to the nerve. So I waited.

Last week, I had my next 6-month cleaning. I said that the temperature sensitivity is still there; hot or cold. It’s not debilitating, but extremely annoying. I asked what my options are. I could get a root canal, which would leave much of the original tooth but remove the nerve. Or I could get the tooth extracted, which would obviously leave a gap.

I went with the extraction. The tooth causing problems was my back left molar. It was at an angle in the first place, so it was barely used. I didn’t care about retaining any of it. The dentist didn’t pressure me into the root canal, and I set up my appointment with their dentist that does extractions.

The next week, she looks at the x-rays and asks if I’m sure I want to get the tooth extracted. It’s a perfectly healthy tooth, she says. I explain that healthy or not, there is cold sensitivity that has been annoying me for 6 months and has gotten no better or worse. It has to go. I’m not wasting my time on a root canal that might end up in an extraction later.

She numbs me up and removes the tooth. Quick, painless. I ask her for the tooth. She says she’s not allowed to give it to me, but if she set it in a cup and looked away, she wouldn’t know what happened to it.

After the extraction was paid for, I drove over to my husband’s work and we took a short walk around the towpath trail. My face was slowly losing the numbness. There was some swelling, but not any real pain.

Later, I washed off the tooth that was removed and examined it. At the edge of the filling, on the inside so that when you took and x-ray you couldn’t see it, was a cavity that was the size of the filling. The dentist had missed part of the original cavity, and it either was still there or had spread.

I’m glad I got it removed.

Spider Bites

I’ve been researching various spiders recently because I’ve been trying to find out what bit me, and I’m fairly certain that it was the brown widow. We’d seen the spider around the bathroom previously, and she kept to herself. She had that definite black widow shape, but with a big brown booty instead of being shiny black. Her web was a disorganized mess, but she was collecting carpenter ants like crazy so we let her stay.

A few days before the bites, I noticed she was gone from her usual spot behind the toilet, so I just assumed she moved somewhere else after exhausting her supply of carpenter ants. I was right, and late Wednesday/early Thursday, I found out where she’d gone. Apparently under the headboard.

The way I sleep, I put my arms under my pillow, and occasionally my hands will be in the space between the mattress and the headboard. Our mattress is about three inches or so too short for the bed frame, so we have quite a bit of space there. I’m assuming she got herself somewhere around there and was just startled by my hands.

I woke up Thursday morning around 1 to 1:30 chewing on my right ring finger. It was itchy and swollen, and in my sleep I had started trying to scratch it with my teeth. At the time I assumed it was a mosquito bite on my knuckle because I’d heard one buzzing around before I went to bed.

I stayed in bed and tried to go back to sleep, but the itchiness just continued. After a while, I could no longer feel the pillow with my ring or pinky fingers. I could only feel itchiness. I got out of bed and ran my hand under cold water for a while. I noticed that I had a few spots where my teeth had broken skin, probably from my eczema blisters that were stretched out from the swelling. I used a washcloth to scratch my finger so I wouldn’t tear the skin.

The swelling of the finger was enough to keep me from closing my hand all the way. The itchiness had died down enough that I could go back to sleep, so I did.

When I got up in the morning, the itchiness was gone, but my hand was still swollen. I got out of bed and the first thing I noticed was that my right leg did not want to work. A tendon on my right knee felt like it was swollen and would not let me bend my leg without pain. James got me some ice and did the driving for the day. My leg pain did not subside, even with pain killers. I had a strange pain in my left collar bone as well. I didn’t really think that all of these were connected because I still thought it was just a mosquito bite.

I spent the day trying to find out what could possibly cause this. The results came up as widow spider bites. There are several kinds, but people only seem to fear the black widow. The articles I found said this is because the black widow will inject much more of her weaker venom, causing more pain. The brown widow, and the other widows if they bite, will use small amounts of their stronger venom. Brown widows are an invasive species, new to the US and not common enough in Ohio to be listed as having the state as in their range. Everything I read fit, but I still had my doubts. There were bites from mites and other things that could possibly have similar effects.

That night, the swelling in my hand was down enough that I could actually tell where the bites were. One just under my ring fingernail. Another about two inches down, below the knuckle. Yet another about four inches down on my hand. And another one about six inches down that on my arm. My left hand has one bite on the index finger and one on the middle finger, below the first knuckle. Those ones didn’t seem to have any ill effects other than redness and itchiness.

I began to look at various bug bite pictures, trying to confirm what was going on. Nothing I looked at really matched until I got back to widow spiders. I don’t know why I doubted it so much, but this is really all it could have been.

Friday morning, the pain in my leg had spread a little. Rather than just being the tendon at my knee, it was now my calf muscle and a muscle in my thigh. I went to work and kept my leg propped up, but then my left shoulder started to get the same pain. At one point, I went to the rest room and found another spider bite on my right thigh. That’s what convinced me it had to have been a brown widow. My right knee having pain wasn’t something unrelated to the bites on my hand. I found a bite on my left elbow later.

I left work early and just chilled around the house. I read more on brown widows, trying to ID the spider in the bathroom from memory. I was at the point where I couldn’t tell if my memory was helping me find the spider by looking at images, or if looking at images was molding my memory of the spider. I remembered the big booty. I remembered the size. I remembered the web. That matched. But the hourglass? I don’t remember seeing that. I don’t remember seeing the designs on the abdomen. I don’t remember the stripes on the legs.

Friday night, as James and I were about to get into the car, I noticed a spider in the window of the garage. She had the booty. We looked at her, and based on what we’d both seen about brown widows, we’re certain that is what bit me EIGHT FUCKING TIMES.

Fire Luen

Luens are the physical embodiment of goleuni, and this here is a fire one. Nowadays the leuni doesn’t completely take over a being, but it’s still inside.