Sunday, April 29, 2012

I am Moosicorn

Last January, I began a course required at my school called "Critical Reasoning." I have found this name to be a little misleading. Personally I think the class should be titled "Random trivia and an essay about symbols," or maybe just "how to bullshit 101," or even possibly, "everything you learned from IB that you really don't need another class for but since we don't recognize IB we don't know you are already a master of bullshit." Seriously though, I didn't need the class. I should have realized this the previous semester when my teacher to the precursor class (English Composition) introduced me as one of his "star students" to his girlfriend at a poetry reading and told me at our final review I would breeze through the next class. Also, I think my 107% in the class also speaks to that idea as well. And I'm barely even trying.

Anyway, the only assignment for the semester focused on an 2,000-3,000 word essay where we had to take existing symbols based off of artwork that inspires us and our life experiences, alter them, and create a new symbol that represents some aspect of ourselves or our lives.  Seriously. That was our only assignment. Welcome to art school folks, where we work SO hard and students complain at the very slightest reading or writing assignment and therefore get out of most of them! I bet you are thinking you should have gone to a private art school now, huh? Instead of taking the assignment very seriously like most of my classmates, who wrote about serious aspects of their fundamental personality and experiences that made the person they are today, I decided to write about the entire theme of this blog: being a badass. And now I present to you that essay. Because I can. Think of it as the foundation of this entire blog. The origin draft of this was much more lewd and, in my opinion, funny, but my teacher made me tone it down since I GUESS this is an academic paper. Or something. Whatever. 

Also, I totally got an A on this. Just sayin'

I am Moosicorn
Believe it or not, I am one incredibly nerdy and awkward white girl. Call it part of my inherent nature, or perhaps there is some psychological reason that I have never been capable of communicating in a functional manner with people, but, whatever the cause, I am sick of it. My social anxieties will reduce me to a whiny, melodramatic mush no longer! From here on out, I want to dedicate all efforts towards transforming into a badass. This is my greatest hope and dream, as it will mask all my ineptitude into something awesome. I want to be “cool,” whatever that is. I want to be strong and brave; I want to have endurance, both physically and mentally. I want to be uncaring, level headed, and unattached to the world and other people. I want to be above regular human flaws, with an air of mystery surrounding me. I want people to look at me with respect in awe and whisper to each other “Who is that? What do you think she does when she goes home? Wrestle bears?” Because if I can’t have regular relationships with people, they might as well think I am just too awesome for them.
Fig. 1, Dark Knight Movie Poster,
It isn’t enough to just want to be a badass. Not only do I have to put the effort into it, I have to make a symbol too; because if I don’t know what represents a badass, how will I ever be one? The first thing that comes to mind when I think of what a badass is would be Batman from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (see fig. 1). I have never been a huge Batman fan, but I saw this movie three times during its opening weekend. The character of Batman in the film is the pure embodiment of badassery. Unlike any other super hero, Batman doesn’t have any super powers. He makes his strength out of exactly what he is, which is why I hold even more respect for him. He is all about business, and no one can take him down. So what symbol to derive from this film but any other than the classic Batman logo? It is what everyone thinks of when batman comes to mind (see fig. 2). It reads immediately as the symbol for everything Batman stands for: justice, strength, stealth, and the ability to stand up for yourself in a powerful way, even when the world is against you. All of these things fit into my own definition of a badass. Beyond that, though, the Batman logo means even more. The yellow oval, in traditional Batman costume, is worn on his chest. Not only is this symbolic of the bat signal, and also a simple, striking representation of his trademark, but the bright yellow oval was meant to act as a target to Batman’s enemies. According to Robert Greenburger, author of The Essential Batman Encyclopedia, it was located on his strongest piece of armor- his chest plate- so at to attract enemies to shoot there rather than his face (29). The symbol thus becomes a representation of not just who Batman is in general, but his cunning and strength.
Fig. 2, Batman Logo
Fig. 3, Batman Logo sans Bat
This symbol would be quite fitting for what I want to be when I one day become a badass. However, since I do not dress up as a bat and run around to incite justice, I would obviously want to remove the bat. Instead, for my symbol I kept the yellow oval (see fig. 3), which is what works at the target and distraction to Batman’s—or my—strongest point, which in this case would be my badass nature. In place of the bat, I have chosen to place another animal that will come to represent me: the unicorn (see fig. 4).
Fig. 4, Unicorn Symbol, Unicorn Games Studio Logo
            According to Dr. J Michael Stitt, “In Medieval times, unicorns were representative of purity and thus Christ” (1). Do I mean to represent Christ? No. But do I want to represent purity? Yes, because a badass, while perhaps is not pure in the traditional sense of morality, is pure in the idea that they are not tainted by typical human flaws and emotions. The unicorn, of course, holds other symbolism in more modern times as well. Kate Trudeau, of the University of North Dakota, states that “the unicorn generates tremendous power and energy, the image embodying great magic, mysticism, and wonder” (1).  As I said, I want to be a badass that has power and mystery, which, by this account, is also what the symbol of a unicorn contains. Unicorns are also known to be “peaceful creatures who try to avoid contact with humans. They prefer to remain hidden” (Hedden 24), which also adds to the idea of a badass being unattached and unaffected by other people. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols further lists all the things a unicorn has come to symbolize feminine principles  of chastity, virtue, and strength of mind and body, as well as incorruptibility (Cooper 183).  All of these things are a part of the badass I want to be: a girl with strength and ideals that no one can upset, although perhaps the whole idea of chastity can just be for my public image.
Fig. 5, Unicorn and moose in combo become
the almighty "moosicorn."
One thing I would do to add a little more edge to the unicorn—because let’s face it, people often don’t take unicorns as a very serious idea, just look at the humorous game “Robot Unicorn Attack,” as an example—is add on a pair of moose antlers. This would thus transform the unicorn from just a regular old ordinary unicorn into a moosicorn: a beast that knows no bounds in its power (see fig. 5). This addition would be made for a few reasons. First of all, “Moose,” is my nickname and has been so for the past five years ever since I became a counselor in training at a Girl Scout camp in the Rocky Mountains. I picked this name as it seemed fitting for my location, and seeing as how I consider the Rocky Mountains my home, it has become an important part of my identity. My experience growing up in their habitat has informed me that they are quite a sight to see. They are large, intimidating, and very dangerous beasts to take caution around. It is difficult to detect when they are agitated and thus they are responsible for trampling people to death every year (Conger 2). This is exactly how I envision a badass to be. And besides, if there are any aspects to being a badass that I have already acquired, it would be that. I mean, ok, I’ve never actually trampled someone, but you know what they say about if looks could kill. Overall, this combination of a unicorn and a moose into a moosicorn represents a powerful beast that any badass would be proud to channel.
Fig. 6, Calvin and Hobbes illustration, Bill Watterson
For my next symbol I have drawn inspiration from one of the greatest comics of all time: Calvin and Hobbes (see fig. 6). I know what you are thinking. What is badass about a little boy and his imaginary friend/stuffed tiger? I’ll tell you: just about everything. How can one not see how epic it is that a kid can have so little restraints in his imagination and actions? He can dream up just about any situation and actually carry it out in real life, despite what his peers or other adults may think or could possibly do to him. Besides, did you ever see him go sledding or get in that little red wagon downhill? That kid had guts. And when he inevitably crashed, he would just shrug it off. There is nothing more badass than having that kind of youth, spirit, and creativity. Because of this creativity and spirit, Calvin and Hobbes could easily be represented by the symbol of the fountain (see fig. 7). “It is said that water gushing forth is a symbol of the life-force of Man and of all things” (Cirlot 113). Calvin has a superior life-force in his youth and creativity, and so will I, one day, when I become as badass as him. Also, it is stated in Cirlot’s Dictionary of Symbols that, “[Jung] links [the fountain] with the ‘land of infancy,’ the recipient of the precepts of the unconscious, pointing out that the need for this fount arises principally when the individual’s life is inhibited and dried up” (113). Hey, that is just like when I mentioned how my life needs to be improved it in the beginning of this essay, isn’t it? Perfect, the fountain is just what my badass self needs to get going.
FIg. 7, Fountain Symbol
The fountain is traditionally depicted as flowing upwards, as this is usually how fountains work. When I place the fountain into my new badass symbol, I will have it sideways. I not only want to spurt my life force up, but all around me, in the direction as others. Perhaps I mean this in the way that I want to share my strength with others or maybe I mean this in the way that I want to kick ass and take names with my strength. That is just another part of the mystery, isn’t it? All you need to know is that is propels me forward, towards my destination of the badass kingdom. I will also triple the image of the fountain, so as to assure all that my life-force is that much more superior (see fig. 8).
Fig. 8, Altered Fountain Symbol
Fig. 9, An early Masonic version of the Eye of Providence
with clouds and a semi-circular glory, 
            My final addition to my mega-symbol would be the all-seeing eye (see fig. 9). The all-seeing eye pretty much explains itself, as it is an eye that sees all. It is most noted as the symbol of the seal of United States currency, and is also popularly known as the symbol for the fraternal organization, the Freemasons. According to Dr. S. Brent Morris, “The eye on the seal represents an active intervention of God in the affairs of men, while the Masonic symbol stands for a passive awareness by God of the activities of men…Its meaning in all cases, however, was that commonly given to it by society at large -- a reminder of the constant presence of God” (3-4). Once again, I have unintentionally given myself a large religious link, although in this case it works as it is a little more broad in its meaning. Because this time it is not just a representation of Christ, but God himself. Yes, a badass should have power that rivals that of God, because truly, what can be more badass than that? Also, written in Sunstone Magazine by Allen D. Roberts, “The idea is that his eye is all seeing, or ‘all searching,’ …Power is also implied” (44). God’s eye seeks out everything, and so will mine. Part of being unattached to the world is about being able to be objective and observe that which you could not if you were among the regular ranks of men. The badass I hope to be will have this power that God holds, as seen through this symbol.
Fig. 10, The all-seeing lazy eye
            However, just because I will one day see all will not mean that it will process or even that I will necessarily care, seeing as how a badass does not care about many things. I think the perfect way to represent this is to give the all-seeing eye a visual deficiency such as amblyopia, or lazy eye (see fig. 10). According to the National Eye Institute, “Amblyopia is the medical term used when the vision in one of the eyes is reduced because the eye and the brain are not working together properly” (1). Once again, my brain does not necessarily want to use the eye to see all. It is overwhelming after all, to know all that goes on, so thus this dysfunctional eye serves as an accurate representation of my vision as a badass. Besides, people with amblyopia often have to wear eye patches to help cure their deficiency. And if an eye patch is not badass, then I don’t know what is.
            So how do all of these come together? First, the yellow oval will encircle all the other symbols, as to keep them all constrained into the “strongest point,” as on Batman’s armor. The moosicorn will serve at the centerpiece to the symbol, as I feel it is the closest representation of me because of it’s moose antlers and also because it is representing a living thing, or in this case, me. The eye will be super imposed over the moosicorn and become a part of it. The fountain will be bursting forth from the moosicorn, symbolic of how it is my life force. And there you have it. The badass I hope to be, all contained into a single point of strength and power (see fig. 11).
Fig. 11, "I am Moosicorn," the new symbol to represent my soon to be found badass nature
            So all these symbols have come together and now are blossoming into their own symbol lifehood, and it needs a name. As I said before, it all centers around the moosicorn, who is truly supposed to be me.  This Moosicorn stands for all the power, the unfeeling and incorruptible strength I will one day come to acquire, with it’s eye that sees all but doesn’t quite get it, and the fountain flowing forth of spirit and abundance. All of this fits into who the mooiscorn is. Tie this in with the Batman oval, and suddenly, it all comes together in the greatest Batman quote. “I am Moosicorn.” Because when Batman says “I am Batman,” he is saying everything who is, everything he has ever done and stood for, his strength and justice, are all a part of his identity as Batman. And so is the same for the moosicorn. When I say “I am Moosicorn,” I mean to say that I am all of these things that this symbol means to represent. It says “I am a badass.” And with such a firm statement, who would dare question it?

Works Cited

Batman Logo. Digital image. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>.

Cirlot, Juan Eduardo. A Dictionary of Symbols. New York: Philosophical Library, 1962. Print.

Conger, Cristen. "Why are moose more dangerous than bears in Alaska?"  25 April 2008. <> 05 April 2012.

Cooper, J. C. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004. Print.

Dark Knight Movie Poster. Digital image. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>.

An early Masonic version of the Eye of Providence with clouds and a semi-circular glory. Digital image. Illuminati. Web. 3 Mar. 2012.  <>.

"Facts About Amblyopia." [NEI Health Information]. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <>.

Fountain Symbol. Digital image. 2010. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>.

Greenberger, Robert. The Essential Batman Encyclopedia. New York: Del   Rey/DC/Ballantine, 2008. Print.

Hedden, Zach, Sandy Sprague, Kimberly Yennaco, Shelby MacKay, Paris Beckett,  William Sheehan, Laura Sawulski, Mike Hughes, and Shelby Sweeney. Fabulous Bestiary. Salem State. Web. 3 Mar. 2012.            <>.

Morris, S. B. "The Eye in the Pyramid." Freemasonry. 14 Jan. 2010. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <>.

Roberts, Allen D. "Where Are the All-Seeing Eyes?" Sunstone Magazine Mar. 1985: 36-   48. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <http://>.

Stitt, J. M. "Organized Christianity According to Lord Dunsany, a Contemptible  Religion? A Studied Analysis of Said Implications in Dunsany's "The King of  Efland's Daughter."" J. Michael Stitt. UNLV Department of English. Web. 03 Mar. 2012. <>.

Unicorn Games Studio Logo. Digital image. Unicorn Games. Web. 3 Mar. 2012.  <>.

Watterson, Bill. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury.  Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1988. Print.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Story of How I Became a Certified Badass

The Story of How I Became a Certified Badass (and my Mom and Aunt and our friend Andrew too)

Several months ago, as some of you may remember, I began my journey to badass-dom. It was actually why I started this blog, remember? Today, I reached that goal. At least level 1 badassery, anyway.

Yesterday I set out to complete the ultimate test that I have been training for during the past three and a half months: The USMC Mud Run. Not just any mud run! It's organized by the Marines, so it's totally legit (no really, it is the biggest mud run in the country- participation wise, anyway). I thought I'd start the badass stuff off right with ditching school. Aw yea. So I woke up Friday at 4:30 am PST and arrived in the great East Coast at 5:30 pm EST. Then, in preparation for the 6 am departure and later our 8:30 start time, I went to bed at what my body technically thought was 7:30 pm. So hardcore. After some rest, 6 am the next morning came around and we headed out.

I have to say, I had my concerns about some of the obstacles, but by the time we got there I had started to feel really nervous. It didn't help that some of my team mates kept talking about how nervous they were and also how a lot of the people there were young, super-beefcake guys in their muscle shirts and --you guessed it-- fancy fitness gloves. Damn those fancy fitness gloves. I really need to get my own pair one of these days.

Of course the nervousness got to me (and also several cups of water, coffee, and smoothie) and I had to pee a couple of times, and we had a somewhat close shave with our start time due to long lines at the port-o-potties, but all was well and we made it. We only had enough time in line for a lady on the team in front of us to ask if this was our first time doing the run, and as we nodded she smiled in a way that either said, "I feel ya," or maybe actually, "You guys are screwed." It was probably the latter, but whatevs. No big deal. She and her team left us in the dust in the first 30 seconds, so we didn't have to put up with her mysterious, slightly concerning smiles of mockery.

That was one thing I wasn't expecting. Apparently, in contrast to three middle aged adults, I am actually kind of fast. I had to really keep my pace down. Actually, that is not fair, Andrew-- the fellow my Mother recruited to be our "anchor" beefcake man-- was keeping pace with me throughout most of the thing. But it was probably a good thing we went so slow. I was so pumped up on caffeine and nerves that I could have easily exhausted myself out in the first 1/3 of the race. So that slowness was really quite appreciated. Also my Mother would probably like me to point out (as she mentioned defensively at least 3 times after we left the race) that there were no other older women out there with us. A few older men, but for the most part, the median age was probably around the mid to late 20s. So you know, I have to give them props for being all old and cool and stuff. It's not really our fault we were passed by at least 60 teams. Rock on.

The best part of this was being reassured that I would not have to live through the shame of my Mother  dragging my ass through the race. I mean come, the woman has 30 years on me, I just couldn't let that happen. That was basically my goal of the race: don't let middle aged people make me look stupid. I think I did ok. We were pretty equally matched.

So the actual race part...let's see...there was mud... And walls, poles, ropes, water, dirt, hills, and lots and lots of screaming Marines. I could handle everything but the walls and ropes. Basically anything you had to climb over that was above 4 feet I needed a boost, and anything you had to swing across was a complete bust.

It started out with several 5 foot walls to climb over. That is supposed to be the "welcome" obstacle. I guess they are trying to say that Marines are tough with this little bit of wordplay. And if you didn't get that right away, the Marines screaming at you at every single obstacle would reinforce it. (Ok fine, some of the Marines were nice. Especially the ones at the water stations) Then there was some mud, and these bars you had to swing up (needed a boost) and slide down, muddy water under logs so that you had to submerge yourself going underneath, a 15 foot wall climb which I somehow managed to not die on, and a rope swing that I completed so successfully I felt genuinely surprised. It was only last August on a family vacation to Lake Martin that I could not, for the life of me, swing into the lake on the rope swing without dragging half my body through the water 3 feet below. I couldn't believe when I landed on the other side of the rope swing. The multi-rope swing later on was not as successful, but who cares. I did one! Isn't that enough?

After these obstacles things really started to become a blur. There were more logs, more water to drag yourself through, and plenty of walls and poles to have your ass pushed up and over. It was foggy and cool and we had a particularly early start time, so we were lucky. It was a good morning for a mud run, even if the water was a little cold. Better than hot, sweaty mud, which I am sure it no doubt became later in the day when the sun came out.

I think my favorite obstacles were the deep, thick, black mud pits. All you had to do was walk/swim through them, but they sucked you in and held you tight. It was out of this world, really, to be floating through 4 foot deep mud that looked like alien slime and felt like cold vomit. You would raise your arms and not even recognize yourself. It was so gross. It was so cool. The hardest part, of course, was getting out at the end of the pit. Both times I had to be lifted out by a team of 4-5 people. If getting your muddy ass hauled out of a black pit of mud thick enough to hide as many bodies as you want by an entire squadron doesn't make you humble, I don't know what will.

Which brings me to, by far, the most badass part of the race. Just because everyone was on a different 4 person team did not mean they weren't going to help whoever needed it. It was all out Southern Hospitality-- strangers helping strangers just for the good of it. Even the teamwork just among my team was awesome. Yes, Andrew did do most of the lifting and all the other work, but still. It was cool. I don't think I could ever do a mud run alone after this. It just wouldn't be fun. I give my thanks to all the people who helped pull taut the ropes and cargo nets, helped lift non-teammates through obstacles, and cheered each other on. Special props to the guy who gave me a piggy back ride across the monkey bars and people who lifted me out of those mud pits. I literally could not have completed the course without them. And also all the nice, attractive guys who "helped" me wade through the creek. They warned me every time a log was coming up and one guy even held my hand over nearly every single one. ...I didn't really need the help, but hey, that was more action I've gotten from a guy in over a year, so I was not about to stop him. They told me I did some nice jumping jacks they saw me doing earlier at an obstacle. I thought this was funny, because I was doing the jumping jacks as a penalty for chickening out of the obstacle (a 10 foot wall with no handholds that teams were supposed to help each other over....yea right, like that was going to happen. I could barely get over the 6 foot poles and those still made my heart race from the height) but who cares, a compliment is a compliment. Hey boys, if you like my jumping jacks you should see what other tricks I can do. Wink wink! In my defense though, I totally did all 100 jumping jacks I was supposed to do, unlike my teammates who cheated and left after 20 or so. In any case, it made my day, so I appreciate that as well.

 As I said, I started out all pumped with nerves and caffeine, and being all fast and good and whatnot kind of landed me in the place of the group cheerleader. This is not a role I take basically ever. I am just about the least enthusiastic person you can find about almost anything. Even when I am "fangirling" about things, I mostly just read some online blogs and tell people I really like it when it comes up in conversation. That is me excited. But I cheered and whooped and tried to be encouraging. While waiting for my team to regroup I even became one of those people who high fives everyone as they go past. Yea, one of THOSE people. It was weird. But also cool. I told everyone that if we finished we'd become certified badasses. And finish we did. Not that it wasn't tiring, of course. I became a lot less cheery 2/3 in when my stomach started to hurt a bit and even walked with my team mates instead of racing ahead in some spots. But at last I finished the final obstacle (carrying my Aunt 100 yards piggy back style--also a very humbling experience) and we crossed the finish line together at just about 2 hours and 20 minutes. In our black mud-soaked clothes, we achieved true badass status. Mission complete.

I am pretty sure since I did manage to fail pretty hardcore on some of the obstacles (e.g. opting out of the 10 foot wall and pretty much just walking across the multi-rope swing pit) that I have really only reached Level 1 Badass Status, which is pretty good, but I totally have some leveling up to do, so this blog must continue on! Huzzah! Perhaps there will be more mud runs.

Oh! And all the aftermath was pretty great, even though I did feel like I just went through some sort of traumatizing experience. We got bananas and oranges just like any 5 year old kid on little league soccer team, made sure to take pictures of our muddy proof, and took internment camp style showers in which everyone shuffled in under some pipes with holes in them supported by a few beams, stripped down, and tried to scrub everything as clean as they could in the freezing water. This was the point where I was kind of glad everyone there was a super-beefcake guy. I mean--what, no, it was totally awkward and I was consumed with cleaning myself anyway...

After that we gathered our complimentary t-shirts as our reward and stripped down even more in the parking lot before we headed off to Chili's. Because what is a better way to end something traumatizing than going to Chili's? Life experience has taught me this: nothing. 

So that was it! I became a badass today and I feel really tired and still a little gross even though I took a real shower when I got home, so I am pretty sure that makes it legit. And now I am going to rest for real. Here are some pictures to prove I didn't make this whole thing up and now you can really believe I am a badass (none of them are flattering at all, unfortunately)

Before (from L to R: Me, my Aunt, Andrew, my Mom)
 After (from R to L: my Mom, Andrew, my Aunt, Me)
Now I am supa strong! Booya!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Men and Dresses: They're the Same Thing Apparently

I had an epiphany today. A very important epiphany that I am going to write about to take my mind off my horribly, horribly maimed computer, which I can't even type this on, because I killed it so badly... Oh boy. This isn't helping already.

And no, it is not that I am an idiot. Given all the stupid stuff I've been doing lately, yea, that one is already pretty obvious, even to me.

No, it is that I apparently approach the seeking out of relationships and online shopping in the exact same way. I also find irony in the fact that I tend to do both online anyway.

I get a lot of ads for a clothing company called ModCloth on the side of my Facebook page. Now, I usually ignore most of the ads on Facebook in general. I read them, sure, to see how well Facebook is stalking me and how much they can taunt me with ads about dating sites, singles groups, vibrator specials, etc, but I never click any of them. Ever. How Facebook has come to be one of the richest companies ever  from these ads is beyond me. The one exception I have made has been for this one company. Because occasionally a picture of a really cute dress will catch my eye and my inner girly-ness will get the better of me.

Sometimes, I just look at the thumbnail and decide that actually that dress is kind of a disgrace to fashion, but other times I will become intrigued and click away, wanting to get a better look. And again, sometimes I will decide that the dress is ugly and close the window, but other times I start to like what I see.

I read the details, get the close up pictures, read people's reviews about the dress. A lot of the dresses I eventually reach the conclusion that the fit would not be right for my body type and size. But the site will suggest other dresses that you might like and I can get lost in a whirlwind of clicking through dress after dress, imagining the potential each could bring to my own appearance. It's so exhilarating! It is just like real shopping, only without the clothes! But then all excitement ceases as I find the one.

The one that really gets you attention, you know? Maybe it is that dress that you SWEAR you imagined years ago in your head that has suddenly come to life before your eyes, or maybe it takes you by surprise. Doesn't matter. It is, like, sooo cute, oh my gosh! My inner girly-ness is screaming in a desperately annoying and whiny voice, using passive aggressive guilt trips to try and get me to buy it.

The thing about ModCloth though is that all of their products are way more than I would ever pay for anything. Ever. I am cheap as an old grandma. It's rare to find a product under $40 if it's not on a final sale. And you can't return final sale items. I will sit and stare at the dress, debating. I may leave it and come back for days at a time, desiring it ever more, but not willing to pay the price. And then I let it go. It disappears from my mind, my inner girly-ness no more than a mere whisper in the vast empty space that is my brain. Recently, I actually saw a girl wearing a dress I lusted after last December. It made me very sad, because it really was a cute dress. But life must continue on, dress or no dress.

Ok, so take that and extend it to a metaphor about men. If you are having trouble with this, here is the short version:
I take note of men but try to act all cool, but then I see one I like and get all mushy and interested, I stalk them on the internet to get to know more, I make up my mind, I finally find one I think I actually really like, I get all anxious and weird about it, I forget about it. The end. Oh and sometimes I see them later and feel sad. The real end.

I like to think that this is the reason why I am still single, and not the fact that it is actually probably because I am crazy and guys are afraid of me. Oh no. I am just not willing to pay the price! I have standards, you know what I am talking about? They have just got to be the best damn thing since zebra cakes to meet my requirements!

...Ok, fine, maybe I am just a huge chicken who never likes to take any risks. But hey, returning things through mail is difficult! You have to go to a post office...and buy boxes...ugh. Just not worth it... I'm not sure how that metaphor extends to boys. Actually, I wish you could return a guy you didn't like at the post office, never to see him again, and get all your money back* I guess that is the difference between men and dresses. However, considering the fact that almost 80% of my wardrobe is no less than 4 years old because I am too cheap to buy new things (I spend all my money on food instead), maybe I should consider just learning how to buy a dress before I figure out dating and shit.


Alright, it's way past my bedtime, so I shall end by saying thank you for joining me on this impromptu blog. It has been a pleasure, as always. MERI OUT!

*Actually, all you have to do to get that result is tell him you want to get married within a year/are pregnant/are actually a man. ZING! Ok sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Skill vs. Will: The Balance of Art and Running

Today has been a good day. So far, anyway. Not only did I finally talk to the really attractive guy who works at IT (he is helping me with my computer! yay! I'm debating asking him out as an excuse for my appreciation, but I'll probably chicken out of that one... Whatever, as long as my baby works again) but also I went for a very successful run this morning.

A clean 5 miles in 54 minutes, and that isn't even counting out the time I had to wait at stop lights. There were plenty of my worst enemies on this run: hills. But I conquered them. Even the biggest hill, up Aliso Creek Road--a road that even my car struggles with-- did I manage to run more than I ever had before. Usually I stop to walk about 2/3 up the half mile climb, but there was a biker fixing his bike right where I usually stop, so I pushed myself just a little farther to avoid the awkward moment that no doubt would have resulted in me slowing down next to him. I even ran through a lot of neighborhoods, places I usually dare not go, for the staring people and dogs barking are so intimidating as you sludge past. But it was just fine, kind of nice actually with the views that those people probably overpay for. And my work was rewarded. It was my fastest pace for a run over 3 miles since I've started training. Can I get a "boo" and a "ya?"

So what made this possible? I did buy fancy new spandex pants this week. My good ol' trusty pair of cotton capris finally bust a hole in the thigh and grew too large to ignore. My exposed thigh has been rubbing all up against the other thigh and causing an awkwardly placed and sized rash to appear. (On a side note, I didn't even realize that there are women who have thighs that don't rub together until a few years ago. I just thought these crotch biscuits of mine were a natural part of all women. I once saw a Barbie at Target while working who had thighs that were set very far apart and thought "That is just outlandish! No one has legs that do that!" I mean, that Barbie was still probably an anatomical disaster, but there are really women who get to know the joy of not getting a rash on your the insides of your thighs when you walk to much in skirts or loose pants. It blows my mind) So now I have a new pair of ultra-tight polyester pants that give me that much needed support in the "thigh and hips" area (really mostly the butt area).

But I don't think it was the pants, although they might have helped. No, I think this is just me. Improving. For real.

I have been told a couple of times since I started this blog and publicly talking about my exercise that I have inspired individuals to go running and work out. I always thought this was kind of odd, as there are plenty of exercise blogs out there, but my friend pointed out that it is likely because I am not a very athletic person, and my ability to push myself gives others inspiration.

I'd like to think this is true. I hope that people can see me doing things and feel the ability to do them for themselves. That is a really great thing. And I don't even mind if it is because that don't expect it from me, because I really am not so athletic. In high school the only sport I ever went out for was tennis, because they didn't do any cuts. Everyone got to be on the team. And you know how high school sports have different sections of teams? You have varsity, varsity 2, junior varsity....and then you have junior varsity 2....developmental....developmental 2....Guess where I was? Yep! The developmental 2 team, with 2 other girls, both who stopped showing up after awhile. I played 2 matches the entire season. The first I won in the very very end of a tiebreaker round with literally the entire team watching, since the worst teams always play last. And the second I lost to a varsity 2 girl who played while on her cell phone making plans to go see a movie after the match. One can imagine why I tried to avoid all other matches as best as I could after that.
...So, yea...not exactly the biggest athlete on the block.

Running for me has always been different however. And I'd like to talk about how, as an artist, exactly what it is that had made running so important to me. Now, just warning you, I may get a little serious here. I apologize that I actually have something real I want to say on a blog where I am supposed to be funny, but I need to say it, so here it is.  

Most artists I have met are the kind of people who sit inside working themselves to the bone and never see the light of day. Seriously, some of them truly forget what daylight is. Even if they do go outside, they are in such a daze that they aren't even aware of it. But if you think I am going to sit here and talk about how "going outside and getting physical exercise is good for your mental health," you are wrong. This is true, of course, but there is so much more to it than that.

I think it goes without saying that any successful artist will work diligently throughout their life to produce better and better work, ultimately improving their skills and making themselves a better artist overall. I feel this is what makes art so challenging. There is no end to it. You don't solve the problem and get to say "case closed." You can't just go home at 5 o'clock to make dinner and watch American Idol and forget about your job. What you do is who you are. And if you never stop, neither does your art. Your work plagues your mind like a disease. You can't stop working, even when you are laying in bed or making a sandwich or clipping your toenails. Such fluid and constant brainstorming and creation can be overwhelming. It's like driving a car with no brakes. You are frantically trying to get somewhere, but directing yourself there can be an incredibly difficult task.

Lately in my own artistic journey, I have been having the feeling that everything I create comes up short. It is like trying to make a Prada bag and coming up with a cheap, Mexican knock-off purse instead. Everything I do just isn't quite right. There is something off about it. I am always reaching for something I feel I am never going to be able to grasp. Because even if I begin to understand one concept, another more difficult one stands in the way.

This feeling is incredibly disheartening sometimes, especially when you compare your work to others. It is really tough to look beyond just one work and see the gradual improvement of your art. I mean, I can see the improvement between what I do now and what I did, say, two years ago, but it is the little, tiny baby steps you make that are so microscopic, they might as well not exist. Art is cruelly subjective and complex in this way. It is a long, rocky, jagged path to finding any satisfaction, if you even get to that point.

Now compare this to running.

Running, where literally all you do is put one foot in front of the other. You don't have to learn anything, it is an action anyone can do. Except for some really obese people. And babies. But besides that. Anyone. I've always been able to run. There are no two ways about it. You run or you don't. The only thing you have to learn is will. If you can will yourself to keep putting one foot in front of the other, you can run.

And with something like running, improvement is easily seen. Time and distance improves almost automatically with practice. These results are obvious and evident if you just keep track of things, unlike art, where improvement is seemingly invisible. Just take today for example. Last January, when I started training, I decided that my goal was to be able to run 5 miles in under an hour. And now I can. No one can tell me that I can't. Whereas with art, I can say I want to draw something that looks good, and so I draw something, and maybe I think it looks good or others think it looks good, but someone can always oppose this. There can always be someone out there who can tell me I haven't drawn something good. But no one can tell me I haven't run 5 miles in under an hour.

In short, I have found my running to be a perfect balance for my art-making, which is why I am happy to spread the exercise love, especially to other artists. I feel that if it helps balance my life, it can help others.  Even though sometimes I feel down about my art, I know I am improving in my running, which helps assure me that if I can improve in a field I am so obviously bad at, then I can improve with art as well. It is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. And that is all.

I promise next time I'll write something funnier.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Meri's Spoken Word: Episode 2

Another vlog! Oh joy!

....I obviously still have no idea what I am doing. Summer goal=save up for a nicer camera, and also possibly a mic.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Small Claustrophobic Gyms and Hot Dudes and Such

Today something very traumatic happened to me that I feel the need to share on here, mostly because I don't want this blog to stray too much from the original topic of "exercise," that I intended for it. Also with all these blogs about my singularity, I feel the need to throw off the scent of desperation from myself for at least a little while. I don't think this post will actually help, but hey, it's worth a shot.

Ok, so. Today. Traumatic experience.

I don't usually work out on Mondays. I have class basically from 10-6, and by the time I get home, I never really feel up for it. Also it gets dark. Well, not anymore since Daylight Savings, but I am still using that excuse anyway. It's a pretty good excuse. It does get dark eventually. And I don't want to get caught out there in that evil darkness! I don't have any fancy reflectors to ward off the endless traffic from running straight over me. Hey I'm serious here. This is California. It could totally happen the very moment I step onto the sidewalk of a busy road in the dark. Or in broad daylight, actually.

I was working out on Monday nights for awhile at the beginning of the semester, when I was obviously more driven and on track. (The eventual dwindling of my diet and exercise is inevitable over each semester, but my determination is usually revived with each break, in which I consume far more than is comfortable for a normal human being.) This meant going to the small gym at my apartment complex every Monday night. And every Monday night I would put on my exercise clothes and feel anxiety about how other people might be there, and then they always were, and I hated it. So I stopped going.

But with my mud run less than 3 weeks away, I have been feeling the pressure to really keep up a routine. And work on my arms more. I am still pretty sure if I tried to get on the monkey bars right now I'd slip and fall and crack my head open and cry like a baby about it. So I really need to work on that. It's my last chance. And so tonight I went to the gym in my apartment complex.

It's not a bad gym. I mean, we pay a considerable amount to live here, even if it IS the cheapest housing around. Our apartment complex is actually pretty nice overall. It's got 2 pools with hot tubs, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, a basketball court, and a gym and clubhouse. Do I ever use any of these? Nope. But we got em! The gym itself has two rooms. One room with all the mirrors and fancy equipment. You got your treadmills, a couple of ellipticals, two sets of weights, some of those bike thingys, and the scary weight contraptions I avoid at all costs for fear of using them wrong. Hey, it's been 5 years since my last PE class, ok? I don't remember how to use any of those things anymore. I mostly just stick to the treadmills and weights. I am usually pretty sure I know how use those correctly. Pretty sure. Most of the time.

The other room is a big, open, carpeted room with basically nothing in it except a bunch of stray exercise balls. They make me kind of sad, these exercise balls. They seem so lonely.

Anyway. Tonight I put on my exercise clothes, and standing up from my chair in my running shoes, idly looking out the window, I actually felt a strange surge of confidence. I don't usually just stand around in my running shoes. I took a moment and soaked in how much taller they made me, and I felt like I could totally kick ass right then. I could do anything! It was a very profound moment, really, standing in my running shoes. So with that burst of confidence, I headed off to the gym.

To my disappointment, there were people in it when I arrived. You must try to understand, you see, how much anxiety I feel over other people seeing me workout. I mean, people make me anxious enough in normal situations already. But when I am all sweaty and stupid looking? Ugh, no thanks, I'll pass. Which is why I have avoided gyms all this time. I always thought running around outside would be worse, but I have discovered if you stay away from neighborhoods, no one is really around to see you long enough to make a judgement beyond "Oh look, that girl is running. She is working hard. Wow." And then they zoom past in their car. If they even notice you, that is. Like I said, California. Driving. The two don't mix well. But running in a small room covered with mirrors where it is incredibly easy to make awkward, sweaty eye contact with the person on the treadmill next to you? It's the worst.

Fortunately for me, it was just two girls in the gym who were casually working out and chatting. I wasn't planning on doing any running due to a slight injury I gave myself during my 5.5 mile run yesterday. You see, halfway through my 3rd mile my hip really started to hurt, and I had switch between walking and running every few minutes all the way home. Amazingly it only added 3 extra minutes to my previous time on that run. No big deal. (Explanabrag moment!) But since they were using my weights, I hopped on the treadmill for a little speed walk warm up. Much to my pleasure, they left within about 5 minutes of my arrival. Perfect! I could just round out this warm up into a half mile and then get started with the weights.

And then he walked in.

One very attractive dude. The kind of attractive that makes someone look like they could be on television. Maybe he has! Who knows? It is Southern California, after all. He had very sexy arms, obviously. This was a gym we were in, not an In N' Out. And he had on nice looking work out clothes and get this--fancy weight lifting gloves. I don't know what those gloves are really called or why you need them, but I do know one thing: They make you legit.

Great. I can deal with other young women who obviously aren't as committed to their workouts as I am, or flabby middle aged folks, but young, hot, attractive dudes who clearly know what they are doing? That just sends my anxiety through the roof. I know this because there are a lot of these guys in our complex, and I have dealt with them in the gym before. But none so hot as this. I ended my warm up and prepared to flee to the carpet room, which is always empty. Not without first having to maneuver my way around him of course-- as he was standing in front of the weights I needed-- squeaking out "excuse me," at a barely audible level and dodging around him. I think he had no idea I was there. But I managed to make it to the carpet room safe and sound. And most importantly, out of sight, where I could complete my sets in peace and solitude. (Only not really, since one wall of the carpet room is all windows looking out across to other apartments, but I usually just pretend those windows don't exist)

So I did my work out, struggling but pushing myself through it as usual, sweating like a beast and dripping all over the floor (I'm sorry other people who use that room), my planks getting more and more difficult with each set. I kept myself going thinking, "1 down, 4 to go....Halfway done....Only 1 more set, c'mon we can do this! Ha, see we are already done with planks!" Speaking to myself with the royal we, you know, the usual.

I was in the middle of my lateral raises on my last set when something very surreal happened. Hot Dude strode through the doorway-- the sacred doorway which connects my special-alone-time-carpet room to the rest of the gym-- walked straight across the room to the far end and started doing stretches against the wall. I was dumbstruck. No one has ever dared come through the door before! Not while I have been in there, anyways. And why did he have to walk all the way to the other side of the room? I was standing in the middle, along the edge next to the door (no one coming in through the door to the gym can see you when you are in that spot). Why didn't he just use the wall that was directly in front of him?  He walked as far as he could into the room. Dude, I know this room is open to all residents, but can't you see that an insecure and red faced young woman is in it right now, doing lateral raises that are no doubt horribly out of form?? I don't want anyone to call me out on that! I don't think I can do legit lateral raises, ok?!?

But what could I do? I kept on with my work out, thanking the lord that I was nearly finished. Meanwhile Hot Dude kept on stretching in his mysterious and sexy way. Oh how legit it was! I never stretch! I always forget or if I do remember, I get too lazy to do it. I approach workouts in the way I am sure some men approach sex. I just want to get on with the real thing and get it over with, and once it is done I am tired and don't want to deal with anything "relaxing," or whatever.

Now, I would like to take a moment and point out that I am sure some of you are probably thinking "Oh gurrrl he totally came in to check you ouuuut." But this cannot be true for several reasons. First of all, while he was stretching he was staring straight at the wall the whole time. Second, during my workout some hot asian girl had come in and started running on the treadmill in the other room with him, so he had plenty of distractions in there. Third, I don't like to call myself ugly even in the worst of times, but let's just say that chronic bitch face + work out hair + sweaty and red-faced= not remotely attractive. Oh, and you can't forget the way my calves look swollen in my running shoes. The very same running shoes that made me feel so confident and strong earlier. "Oh the irony," I grimaced to myself as I tried to do overhead presses--probably the exercise I struggle with the most-- without letting my arms shake too much. I spent the next few minutes trying not to grunt or pant too much through my next few sets. Even if he had headphones in and was staring at the wall, I wanted to risk no chances. Unfortunately trying to hold in grunts as you simultaneously try to do the best possible pushups you can at the end of a tough workout is not so easy, and every now and then one escapes your mouth. You have no control and it completely takes you by surprise, so you end up letting out a high pitched squeal-grunt. Just try imagining that. Hot, right? Let's just hope those headphones of his were noise canceling.

As soon as I finished my crunches (I was doing full sit ups earlier but I was yet again afraid he would secretly judge me on my form inside his head as he watched from the corner of his eye, so I decided crunches were safer) I pretty much leapt out of there, hastening my way out of the gym entirely. It was only as I was leaving did I realize it may have been better if I had just turned to him the moment he walked into the room and said "I'm sorry, but you are way too hot to be around while I am doing this." It could have made a good pick up line. Or maybe it could have at least made him leave anyway. Of course, this would have never worked for a few reasons. One, he had headphones in and it would have been weird to try and talk to him. Two, I never have the guts for that kind of stuff and always chicken out at the last second. Three, I didn't think of it until I left. And four, a guy that hot probably has a girlfriend or at least really high standards. Oh well. So these things go.

...Every.... Damn....Time.

I guess the moral of the story is don't let your shoes go to your head, because you never know when some hot guy will walk in and knock off your socks. And your shoes. Metaphorically. In the bad way.
Or maybe sometimes embarrassing things happen and the most we can hope for is to never ever see that person again. Oh please oh please oh please....

The end.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Meri's Foolproof Method To Not Have A Boyfriend

Hey girls! You know what are so annoying? Boyfriends. Gosh, they just really irritate me. Call it a pet peeve, but I mean, you always have to see them and talk to them and text them about absolutely everything, including all the pointless things that happen to you that no one else in the world would ever care about--telling them what you ate for breakfast and how you saw a shriveled up dead worm on the sidewalk this morning and it made you feel a little sad. Isn't it annoying having to keep them updated on everything?? Their demands just never end! And then you are always having to hang out with them, feeling like your life is so dull and meaningless while you waste away hours just spending time with someone you genuinely like and getting to know them. Do you know how much I could get done in that time? I could waste so many hours on Facebook. And the whole time they are always complimenting you and being nice and doing nice things for you. Seriously, talk about lame. That is why I never have a boyfriend if I can avoid it. I just don't have the time to put up with being nice to someone, even if it is in exchange for sexual favors.

I know what you are thinking. "Meri, you are SO right. I always have so many men fawning over me and being all generous and gracious to me, trying to my boyfriend or whatever. I am sick of it! What can I do?" Well, good news for you, you have come to the right place. I now present to you, for the very first time, my very own foolproof method of how to avoid having a boyfriend for long, long stretches of time, all based off of my very real experiences of trial and error and I have endured. These are secrets that have never before been unveiled, so just brace yourself.

Before I start, I suppose I can't have ALL the credit for being the genius that I so clearly am. I'd like to thank my friend Kelsey for posting her own foolproof method of how not to have a boyfriend on her Facebook, which served as the inspiration and basis for this post of mine. It was quite hilarious, and very close to my own experiences, but I felt the need to expand upon it. For the sake of children... whales ...women?
Yea, I think that's it.
Ok, here we go.

Meri's Foolproof Method To Not Have a Boyfriend

1. Keep on constant alert for attractive men. Seriously, constant. Never let your guard down, or you might accidentally miss someone you are attracted to and you will be unable to avoid their eye contact/presence at all costs, which brings us to the next step:

2. When you DO see someone you think is attractive, look away. Frown as much as you can. Slouch and stare at your toes. Look around at all other females in the area and convince yourself you are completely inadequate as you can. Do something weird like chew on your hair or talk to yourself in low, violent undertones. Wait until they walk away before acting normal again. Go home immediately and don't come out for another 2 weeks, just as a precaution.

3. If you are lucky, you will never see that person again and all will be well. However, in some unfortunate circumstances you may have to endure their presence for a long term basis. This will often develop into what I classify as a Level 1 Crush. A Level 1 Crush is usually a fairly superficial crush based mostly on physical aspects of the person in question. It is not too dangerous, but left unchecked this type of crush could go awry. Once again, avoid all contact with the person you find attractive, and you should be fine.

4. The above behavior can be kept up for extended periods of time without a hitch, but occasionally someone will slip through the cracks, usually when you accidentally have a conversation with said attractive man. If they are cool enough that you are still attracted to them, you will develop a Level 2 Crush. A Level 2 Crush is just that. Physical attraction meets a charming/dynamic/interesting/whatever-floats-your-boat kind of personality and common interests. This is ok, this is just the next step. Do not panic. Well, actually...

5. Panic. Feel even more inadequate. Spend all your time and energy thinking about this person and how cool they are and how you are no where even close to their league. Facebook stalk them as much as possible just to convince yourself that they are even cooler and you are even less worthy of them. But give yourself enough hope to keep you up in bed all night thinking about them and wondering if they would ever want you. Waste away in this manner, spending as much time as you like feeling anxiety over the situation. 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years... I've done them all, and they are all as equally destructive to your self esteem, so no worries, you can't go wrong. But the longer the better really. The more time you waste on this step, the less time you will have to actually have a boyfriend.

6. Start talking to him more often and make yourself look as dumb as you possibly can. Try to be creative in this regard. Careful if you just go for nerdy or derpy---some guys are into that. Be obnoxious and strange....uncomfortable strange. This will prove how unique and special you are. Describe to him all your exes/past crushes and any horribly traumatic pubescent stories you can drag up from the depths of your repressed unconscious. Also don't forget to mention things about him that you would clearly only have known about if you had Facebook stalked him.

7. Text him every day asking if he wants to hang out (once get his number from anyone but him, of course). Always be loose with your proposed plans in the hopes that flexibility will make your desperation seem even more attractive. Do not be disheartened by his constant refusals. I'm sure he's just really busy.

8. Keep steps 5-7 up at a persistent rate until one of the following things occurs: 1. He tells you he has a girlfriend/is engaged/is married/is actually more than 10 years older than you or 2. He cuts all contact with you and/or moves as far away as possible

9. Pretend you don't care.

10. Actually care. Eat a lot. Feel inadequate a little more. Write terrible poetry. Buy yourself a nice vibrator. Be the "downer" amongst your friends for awhile. Be the slutty hot mess at all the parties you go to. Make a major life decision that you really should not make while under any duress. Whatever you need to do, do it. Just remember to pile on the pathetic-ness-- that is the important part.

11. Finally get over it, because even you are starting to get sick of how lame you have become. Also you kind of had an STD scare after one of your more recent self-indulgent drunken hookups, and you just can't take that kind of stress anymore. Pick yourself up and embrace your independence. Go back to step 1 because you are starting to feel good enough about yourself and believing you might possibly be attractive to someone else--inevitably noticing other men and starting the process all over again.


So that is it! Simple right? Just follow these steps and unless you look like Jessica Simpson or some other A-list star, virtually every guy will have no absolutely no desire to be your boyfriend. Congratulations, you are free to go out on multiple girls night out events every week and drink way too much wine and vodka! One day you may even get a couple of cats! Aren't you excited for what your future holds??

If it is so easy though, how do so many women go wrong? Well, usually around step 5 or 6 some women will actually have enough self confidence and sensibility to make the right moves. This leads to a Level 3 Crush which is attraction based out of everything from a Level 1 and 2 crush, but also more complex and now including mutual feelings for each other. This almost always leads to a relationship, and yep, wouldn't you believe it, a boyfriend. Those poor souls, they probably have no idea what has happened to them. So stay away from this path. If you do get caught up in a relationship somehow, don't worry, breakups at our age are frequent and if it lasts longer than that, never fear: over 50% of marriages end in divorce these days*, so we can  assume that most of them will come to their senses and see the light eventually. Better late than never!

So yea...Anyone else thinking book deal right now? I could get so rich off this content. Oh yea, and help people and stuff. That too. Great idea, or great idea?

Also, in an ironic circumstance, the application to be my boyfriend is still up and running. I know you guys are intimidated by how awesome I am, especially after that video I posted, but don't let that stop you. I know you want a slice of some crazy pie. Everyone does, in the end.

*I totally made that up, but I may have heard it on the internet some time so maybe it is real?