Your Reasoning is Not Valid

Found a (horribly written) article where a journalist admitted he’s actually not as concerned about legalizing weed as he once was. When he finally got to the “Ooo, scary unknown long-term effects of Mary Jane” part, these two quotes were all he could find to really drive home the inherent dangers:
 
And drug policy experts say there’s a risk to pot even if it doesn’t have long-term or deadly health effects. “The main risk of cannabis is losing control of your cannabis intake,” Kleiman told me in February. “That’s going to have consequences in terms of the amount of time you spend not fully functional. When that’s hours per day times years, that’s bad.”
 
Jon Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon University put it more bluntly: “At some level, we know that spending more than half of your waking hours intoxicated for years and years on end is not increasing the likelihood that you’ll win a Pulitzer Prize or discover the cure for cancer.”
 
Obviously these guys haven’t met the new generation of stoners. We’re hungry. Driven. Pissed the fuck off at the condition of the world we’re inheriting. Now we want to make it better.

Part of that may actually involve those who want to chilling out and letting anger take the backseat for a while.

So much going wrong in the world can be traced back to someone angry at someone else for whatever reason. Imagine anger as a stick. Everyone right now is all riled up about politics, police abuse, women’s health rights, racism, religion, etc. and to make sure their voice is the only one heard, they’re going after each other with Anger Sticks. Now take the sticks and wrap them in a few layers of bubble wrap. Does the stick still hurt? Yeah, it’ll sting. Can the buffered Anger Stick kill anyone? It’s not that likely and would take a tremendous amount of effort. Okay, my demonstration is super simplistic, but still a valid take on how something everyone has demonized for so long could be one thing to dampen the anger controlling everyone right now.

If these are the only excuses experts can come up with, why has it taken so long for pot smoking to become socially acceptable? People who smoke every day know their limits, will smoke just enough to reach the high they want and stop. Self control is a thing. I know I’m not the only one who’ll pack a bowl, take a hit, wander off to clean or work on something, then come back to my pipe later for more. This isn’t Reefer Madness. We aren’t instantly driven to insane acts of depravity after half a lungful. It’s not a race to smoke the fastest. The weed will still be there after I write an article or wash the dishes.

And now because I need a giggle, here’s a picture I found on Facebook which made me laugh so hard, I thought Gallbladder Hulk would burst.
highcows

Well, Then . . . Do YOU Want to Raise My Kid?

This rant is inspired by an anonymous post on an Indie Author/Blogger Facebook page.

It’s the same ol’ song and dance. A group of women, in this instance authors like myself, called on the carpet for not being “helicopter parents” and *gasp* attending signing events or conventions–where they hope to make enough money to pay their electric/gas bill that particular month.

Guys, we’re trying to do what’s right by our children. Honestly. If that means missing a school event, so be it. Will we be late for that birthday party someone invited us to two days ago because we have a signing gig? You bet your ass. Nothing and no one will come between myself and the financial goals I’ve set in order to ensure my child wants for nothing. This is the general consensus I’ve seen from everyone fielding this flavor of criticism.

How do these trips impact my kid?

He loves it.

I’m a stay-at-home mom. Have been since we took custody of my nephew (Kiddo) nine years ago. Since I don’t drive, we’re often stuck at home with each other a lot with little to no options within walking distance to entertain ourselves. The nearest park is essentially a motel for the homeless and drug users. The school’s play yard isn’t really entertaining enough for my geekling; he’s too big for the meager play equipment. It’s an hour bus ride to reach safer, more engaging places for us to romp in town. That’s an hour plus of editing work I’m not doing for the sake of a little playtime. He and I agreed a while ago, it’s usually not worth the trip unless we’re making a full family day of it–movie, frozen yogurt, dinner, etc. Plus, those are hours he’d much rather spend killing orcs or dragons. What can I say? I raised a gamer by accident. We have plenty of family time, despite. It’s just not all day, every day. We’re perfectly content in our separate corners, one writing, the other laughing at whatever oddness he’s achieved in-game.

I really don’t appreciate anonymous people assuming convention/signing trips are all fun and games–this goes for myself and other authors lumped into this, “Not momming enough,” category–or that I’m running away from parental responsibilities. Authors work insane hours. Most also have at least one or two day jobs to put food on the table. And here we are, signing up to work three/four insane days, putting our socially awkward selves on display for potential readers at signing events or *literally* walking twenty miles a day across a convention floor. What do we get out of it? Sometimes just enough to cover our costs for the weekend, with hopes that new reader outreach will boost sales down the road. Lucky few walk out with enough cash to finally pay off their overdue cable bill so the kids can binge-watch My Little Pony without Mommy having to explain why there’s no ponies until next week–or the week after, or even a month down the road if finances are that tight. Kids don’t understand balancing budgets and picking which bill is the most important.

I work this much so Kiddo will never find out just how hard it’s been the last two years to keep the family afloat. Yet some people judge women like me for it. I sacrifice time with my kid to make sure he has clothes, food, and whatever books/games make him so giddy, he begs to stay up just another fifteen minutes. But somehow I’m a bad mother for, say, missing a school carnival when I’ve volunteered for every other one in the past; critics just don’t care to find out that part.

Are there author moms running away to join the figurative circus? Totally. No one is perfect. Are all author moms guilty of this? Not at all.

Why are we still harassing women for choosing to put career and family on the same pedestal of importance? Oh, right. We’re walking baby factories without the ability to make critical life decisions without a husband’s input. Get out of the history books. Get a friggen clue. Most importantly, get your nose out of our private lives and focus on your own. Quit transferring your guilt, frustration, and envy onto a group of women simply trying their best.

Why I Sent Myself to the ER by Eating Peanut Butter

Healthcare systems are odd. Something I’ve learned rather late in life, unfortunately. See, I was one of those statistic numbers everyone loves to fling around–an American adult without health insurance. Was, being the operative word. Last year, the ACA (Affordable Care Act) allowed me to visit a doctor for the first time since I was sixteen. Good. Great. I can finally get some of these health concerns taken care of. Namely, a cranky gallbladder.

What do you mean I’m not sick enough, doc?

Turns out, my provider won’t give patients ultrasounds to confirm gallstones unless they’re actively miserable (pain, nausea, etc.). It’s bad enough I’m fighting a hard-wired fear of hospitals, but they wanted me to willingly put myself in pain in order to receive treatment.

I put it off for another year. That’s what a restricted diet is for, right? Well, not really. But I couldn’t fight my fear as well last year. Call me a coward.

Something, I’m not sure what, finally kicked my self-preservation into gear. If I didn’t take care of this now, one day I’d end up seriously sick and unable to control it. That’s actually my fear–being unable to control my body. This is what happens to children raised by a disabled parent who didn’t take care of himself. Didn’t care what happened to his body, or what extreme lengths doctors went to in order to save him from self-destruction. One of those extreme lengths–a gastric bypass–contributed to the heart attack which killed him.

So on Monday I bit the bullet . . . actually, I ate a ton of organic peanut butter and chocolate spread on graham crackers, then had a friend drive me to my healthcare provider’s emergency room.

I knew exactly how much fat to ingest in order to bring up the symptoms the doctors needed to consider it a Serious Thing and finally ultrasound my gallbladder.

Guess what? Little fucker made stone friends to keep him company. But I already knew this.

There was literally nothing else I could have done to obtain this diagnosis. The doctor and ER nurses quickly understood (and I made no point to hide it) that my condition when I walked in was intentional, I’d controlled symptoms for years through diet, and I knew full well what my body was doing, why it felt the way it did.

I knew it was a bad day for them shortly after I arrived. It wasn’t my intention to add to their workload. Two patients coded that morning. A woman with a compound fracture rolled in about the same time I walked in. An older woman with no actual medical problem yelled abuse at the nurses, cried uncontrollably, and even faked breathing troubles to avoid being discharged without what she considered adequate care and attention. “Everyone ignores me. They want me to suffer,” she bellowed constantly. At the far end of the hall, a woman too drunk to function bitched at any passing staff member about the fact that she’s drunk. In response, I was on my best behavior. Shut up. It’s possible.

But now the ball is rolling. I will finally get the surgery I’ve needed for three years next month. Yes, in a month. I have things to do, damn it, and I’m too stubborn for my own good. My body and I are on speaking terms again, and back on the diet wagon. I’m not concerned about any problems between now and then. Even if something does happen, I now know that the ER at my provider’s hospital is pretty damned good. The fear, which still gives me plenty of anxiety, isn’t enough to stop me from getting necessary aid now that I have this information.

I’m losing sleep over the surgery, though. This is something I anticipated. What I didn’t anticipate was my decision to keep it quiet compounding the anxiety. So here I am, talking through it on a blog. Publicly. Apologies to any friends who read this and want to kick my ass for not telling them privately. I do try to keep my fears from bleeding all over cyberspace and relationships, but it can’t be helped. Not if I want to sleep anytime between now and the surgery date. This is my way of holding myself accountable. Too many people know now. I can’t back out of the surgery just because I’m afraid.

Yes, there will be updates once Gallbladder Hulk is evicted. No, I’m not going to try and convince my doctor to let me keep a stone. That’s weird. I mean, I kill fictional people, dress as a zombie, and scare people professionally, but the line is drawn at including my own medical waste to my bookshelf memento collection. Unless I had a teratoma, then I’d beg to have that shit preserved.

Oh, It’s *That* Day Again.

Father’s Day and I don’t get along for one obvious reason: My father died when I was in high school.

So of course, every force-fed story on social media talks about what to buy your father, what outdoor activities to take him to, why father’s don’t have to be the biological kind in order to love a kid, etc. Honestly, I usually put up a blinder to this flavor of media until a good three days after the holiday. It’s done me good so far.

Then I saw this GQ article where Chris Pratt talks about what he learned from he recently departed father.

“The perfect metaphor: Dad left me a compass that didn’t work. And I still—the sentiment—I’ll take it out and look.” He laughs again. “And be like, ‘Aw fuck, I better use my phone’.”

Much like Pratt’s father, mine was a tough guy who found himself unable to cope with seriously limiting physical ailments. Dad was a diabetic who didn’t give a shit about doctor’s orders and diets. His lower spine was shattered in a motorcycle accident that should have killed him. Before he finally passed, a good chunk of his heart stopped working. He died and was resuscitated numerous times during surgeries. I spent my childhood terrified of hospitals because I never knew if Dad would roll back out the doors to smile at me again.

Dad’s physical problems weren’t the only hiccup in his life. He suffered from what I can only now describe as a horrific mixture of chemical dependency and undiagnosed bipolar disorder. We didn’t know what bipolar was when he would hole up in the master bedroom for days on end and fly into rages about nothing at all. Life was all about the eggshells for a long time. If Dad was having a good day, we all were. When he didn’t . . . I’d beg to go to a friend’s house for a long weekend.

But like Pratt, I eventually learned to appreciate the lessons Dad taught me instead of dwelling on the bad. He was who he was. Death didn’t make Dad a martyr. It just means he’s not here to tell me I’ve used the wrong fake blood on a prop or that a medical emergency in my latest book isn’t as life-threatening as I thought, or even make fun of me for staying across the room from a snake securely locked in its cage. Through Dad’s emotional demons, I learned that I’m not okay. Bipolar is an issue in our family, one which passed not only to myself, but to my sibling.

The one I disowned because they became exactly like Dad. They didn’t learn these vital lessons. Didn’t pay attention when we left because of his drug use and emotional abuse. I tried to pass on what I learned, but it didn’t work.

So today, not only do I remember the lessons Dad taught me–from the silly and gory to the nightmares lurking in our brain chemistry–but also the sibling who is learning the hard lessons about emotional instability and drug abuse on their own.

Listen to your fathers, guys. Even if what comes out of their mouth is wrong and ugly, it’s still something to learn from. A behavior you now know never to repeat.

The best lesson I learned from Dad? Be weird. It’s okay. If weird makes you happy, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you horror movies and books are for freaks. If that’s true, then you’re the best freak out there.

Today, I’m going to be weird. Tomorrow I’ll be even weirder. Because Dad said it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Life vs Art

Warning up front, this may have a couple spoiler-ish tidbits from my second vampire novel, In Too Deep. It’s unavoidable. Why?

I may have accidentally predicted one of the biggest ecological crisis in my lifetime–the California drought.

It sounds nuts. I know. I’ve had my head in the sand for months, looking past the similarities. But the numbers I crunched while plotting ITD–there were ten pages of information gathered about agriculture in Fresno, CA–kept bouncing around my head. See, it’s one thing to watch the news and see that another farmer is selling his property or letting the fruit fall without harvesting or an entire field wiped out because there’s no water. The game changes when you know how many tons of grapes the average farmer grows.

Suddenly trips to the grocery store incur anxiety attacks half a mile from the nearest shopping cart. How much longer until the cost of fresh produce reaches obscene levels? Californians, for the most part, are spoiled with cheap produce prices. We grow it. There’s no huge transportation cost. Our Eden, the security of knowing one can go to the store with $10 and pick up enough fruits/vegetables for at least two meals plus dessert, will vanish soon.

These were the “what if” concerns I chewed over while plotting ITD. I wanted the KGB to attempt something that’d seem insubstantial on the surface–disrupt production produce–but once the numbers came to light, everyone would know just had badly they’d screwed over the United States. Food became the obvious focus because, well . . . food and I are tight. BFFs. I’d take a bullet for food. Well, maybe not really. I expected Meghan to do it for me.

I’m a writer. She’s a CIA agent. Okay, a fictional one, but still . . . .

There’s no sexy, witty redhead to fight this drought, though. She’d have plenty of people to confront about the worsening situation in my home state–from politicians approving horrible water-management policies, to companies schmoozing their way into exceptions to drought protocol. Hell, if my neurotic ass can deal with a dead front lawn in order to save water, they can man up and do their part.

Oddly enough, the plot for the final vampire novel ended up coming true in part, as well. Now, now. I’m not going to let you in on that one just yet.

Hollywood, Just Stop it Already

In the course of an hour, I’ve seen news about two remakes that’ve set my teeth on edge. First Poltergeist, now She’s all That.

Why? Why is this necessary? Poltergeist was a pretty solid movie the first time around. I remember being terrified any time we moved into a new house—being a welfare family, it happened a lot—because I was afraid we’d end up in a place built on a graveyard. There’s no flashy effects like the remake has and what’s there is pretty damned effective. I’ll bet you a turkey sandwich, the CG effects are all the remake has going for it. Sorry, Mr. Rockwell, but you can’t salvage every film.

5985d24fb7640031510cf5b5a2ddc70fAnd now the seriously insulting remake, She’s All That. Yes, I was that chick in school—almost too weird for her own good. Well, then it was a problem. Now, I’ve embraced that shit and dance a tango with it every time I stand. But a huge part of finding confidence in myself came from that damn cheesy as hell teen flick. It’s perfect as-is. Yes, the jokes are dated. It wasn’t made for an iPhone generation. Why does everyone feel we have to turn my generation’s memories into something so dumbed-down, even paramecium brained morons understand the subtle nuances involved in personal growth? To make things worse, this is one of my favorite Paul Walker films, even though he plays a douchebag. The director they’ve attached to this remake hasn’t done thrilling things, and even has another unnecessary and shitty remake in his credits. This film is already on shaky ground. One production company is fielding media questions, apparently ready to start pre-production. The other denies signing any contracts to make this thing happen. I’m hoping it’s all a belated April Fool’s joke.

 

I Need a Second Brain

Things have been a tad . . . hectic in Murphlandia. If you haven’t followed my Twitter account, then you were unaware of my eight-day vacation. Yes, it is as exhausting as it sounds.

However, life waits for no man.

Yesterday was a holiday, so I did take a half day to recover from our travel day. Six hours on Amtrak soaking in the weird existing between Anaheim and our home town. It was informational. At one point, we watched a man in his mid-twenties do his best to polish off an entire case of Corona between Bakersfield and Fresno.

I’m pretty sure I woke up with his hangover.

Which is why moments ago, I tapped my mother on the shoulder and said, “In twenty-five minutes, tell me to go make the pesto for the garlic bread and check the lasagna.” I’m so exhausted, I’m borrowing intelligence from family members just so I remember to feed them food that hasn’t been turned into charcoal.

This isn’t the first time, either. Throughout my life I’ve collected a series of people who, for lack of a better term, speak Née. Occasionally I simply forget how to human and do ridiculous things in order to complete simple tasks. Or I’ll forget everything except my shoe size and last name. It’s normal for me. There’s simply too much going on in my head on these weird days. If I don’t compartmentalize, things get wonky. I get wonky. It isn’t pretty.

That’s where the Née fluent come in handy. Often, the first clue is what background noise I’ve selected. If there’s a marathon of bad television going on, bring caffeine. If I’ve resorted to non-stop musicals and singing at the top of my lungs, be concerned. Find me in the office staring at a wall, I probably haven’t eaten since dinner the night before. Hear me rummaging in my desk for gummy bears, means I skipped lunch to work. These things do happen. Most of the time I’m not actively aware of it or catch it in time to work out of whatever’s consuming my brain.

The secret? I don’t think I’m alone in this. Especially amongst my creative friends. We’re all the type to hyper focus and Just Get It Done. Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave a lot of mind left to do the basics. Hey, most days I applaud if I remember to shower. Everyone else does too. It’s how I pay them back for lending me their brains so often. Everyone wins.

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