Archive | November, 2013

Catfight with Fictional Characters

25 Nov

After streaming the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, I texted my brother about it and we proceeded to have a Doctor Who-related text messaging discussion. I simultaneously ended up discussing the topic with a friend. Oddly, the topic was not only about Doctor Who but also about bullies, a topic I bring up frequently because, unfortunately, bullies have been a significant part of my life.

It all began when my brother mentioned that fan girls on Doctor Who forums “hate on” all the female companions in the new Doctor Who, with the one exception of Donna. I was absolutely flabbergasted at this. My brother explained that these fan girls call Rose shallow, Martha too lovesick, Amy mean, and Clara devoid of personality. I find all these descriptions invalid…well, I can see calling Amy mean (taking Rory for granted when he’s actually a really nice guy). Rose isn’t shallow by any means, and Clara has a strong personality and I find her to be a very likeable character.

As for Martha being lovesick…she has unrequited love, which anyone can relate to, and it’s not overdone. Furthermore, unlike Rose, she stands up to the Doctor and asserts herself. She insisted that he give her an explanation because he was being dishonest and evasive about Gallifrey, and he finally explained that he was the last Time Lord. In one of her later episodes, the Doctor is bossing her around and she stands up to him. She ultimately accepts that he’s never going to fall for her, and she moves on.

These critical fan girls have the word “jealousy” written all over them. They wish they were Doctor Who companions and instead of relating to the companions, they attack them! It strikes me as incredibly petty, mean, and immature behavior, and even in my teens and twenties I didn’t relate to such behavior. A friend of mine said she’s even known young women who wanted to steal her boyfriends.

The reason that only Donna is exempt from these attacks is because she’s older (presumably these fan girls are in their twenties) and because she is the only one who makes it quite clear up front that she only wants to be friends with the Doctor.

This situation has reminded me of a book in the In Other Words library called Catfight. I haven’t read it, but it’s about rivalry between women. Far from fostering a “sisterhood is powerful” mentality, they see other females as competition. (I realize that the “sisterhood is powerful” concept is problematic in that it came from middle class white women and is problematic considering the different kinds of feminism and how women of color have quite different perspectives and life experiences from middle class white women. Nonetheless, that’s the first thing I thought of in reaction to this weird treatment of Doctor Who companions.)

I have known bullies who bullied out of jealousy. I remember certain nasty and incredibly immature relatives sneeringly talking about my Aunt Barbara, who had a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. With one exception, none of these nasty relatives even has an undergraduate degree. In hindsight, based on some of the bully’s behavior, I have reason to believe that one of these relatives was jealous of me if nothing else because unlike her (a sociopath), I’m a good and deep person. If nothing else, she was certainly jealous of me because I’m much younger than she and look younger than I am. No fool like an old fool. I could probably look back and analyze many situations in my past, especially in my teens and twenties, and come to the conclusion that certain bullies were acting out of jealousy.

Like bullies in general, jealous bullies don’t feel good about themselves and attempt to drag down their scapegoats. They are pathetic and absurd.

The point of Doctor Who companions—usually humans from Earth—is to supply regular characters whom the audience relate to, a lens with which to see the world of Doctor Who. Supposedly the Doctor himself is too alien and too intelligent for the average viewer to relate that well. However, I’ve always related more to the Doctor than to his companions. He’s very eccentric. Besides, I’d love to be in control of a TARDIS and live for hundreds of years, traveling in time and space.

 

Kafkaesque Much?

22 Nov

Over the weekend, I had to call my Aunt Bev because my name is one of three names on the deed to a house in Topeka, Kansas, and Aunt Bev is attempting to sell the house to my cousin Shelly. Over the phone, she said she needed my email address to give to the real estate agent, so I gave her my email address. She also said this sale is to be completed December 1. The agent would email me papers to sign, and I’d email them back, according to my aunt.

Two days after my unpleasant phone conversation with Aunt Bev, her real estate agent called me. She asked for my email address, and I gave it to her without asking why Aunt Bev hadn’t done so. The entire point of my enduring a phone conversation with Aunt Bev was to pass my email address on to the real estate agent.

On Tuesday morning, I’d made significant headway writing one of my novels and went to my bedroom in order to take a nap at about 10:30. Immediately after I lay down, the phone rang. It was the real estate agent again. This time she claimed that the paperwork “is due tomorrow at noon.” I was utterly flabbergasted. Aunt Bev had told me that this was to be completed December 1, not November 19. I pointed this out to the real estate agent, and she just repeated that “No, it’s due tomorrow at noon.” She didn’t admit that I’d been given false information, and she didn’t apologize about it. This was the first I heard of the actual deadline.

Over the phone, she said that the papers, “have to be overnighted. They can’t be faxed because it has to be the original documents.” This completely contradicted what she said in the emails, in which she instructed—or rather bossed around, not using the word “please” or otherwise being civil—that the papers had to be faxed or emailed back to her. She didn’t admit that this was what she herself stated in the emails!

She didn’t apologize or admit that she did things incorrectly. Although she didn’t speak to me in a hostile or aggressive manner, I was struck by how she seemed to be trying to make me look stupid while she was in fact making herself look stupid.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people from Kansas (and indeed from the Midwest in general) are barbarians who don’t apologize, don’t admit they were wrong or did wrong. It’s a very sociopathic trait. I mean that in the sense that it suggests an absence of remorse or conscience. Admittedly, a friend explained to me that the attitude is that they don’t want to lose face, to back down, to admit that they’re wrong. Perhaps behind that is shame; if they admit that they’re wrong about anything, then they admit that they’re not perfect and therefore the lies about what a “superior” person they are will be exposed. Insane.

Instead of napping, I went to the UPS store and this time successfully printed the documents that I found as attachments to the two emails that the real estate agent sent me.  (I had attempted to print them last time I was at In Other Words, and the printer was being ornery and only let me print three pages.) I went through the paperwork and signed wherever it looked like I was supposed to sign. Still at the UPS store, I paid about fifty dollars in order to have an envelope full of paperwork shipped overnight. I sent the real estate agent a civilized email (in contrast with her bossy, capital letters email that involved no greeting or “signature”). I wrote:

 

Hello,

I have shipped the package, and it is scheduled to arrive at 10:30 tomorrow morning, in your time zone.

Susan

 

The next morning at about 11, the real estate agent called again. This time she said she received the paperwork, but not all of it, and that it wasn’t notarized. She said that she can’t have it notarized in Kansas because it has to be done by a notary with me in Oregon. This was the very first mention of my needing a notary! She again never apologized, never so much as admitted or acknowledged that she hadn’t given me any information in the body of the email.

I returned to the UPS store on Hawthorne Boulevard. I suspect that they’re sick of seeing me. I used their computer again. I opened the emails again, and I printed the papers again because the real estate agent said I have to reprint them and take them to a notary. With the papers in front of me, I called the real estate agent on my cell phone and told her what papers were in front of me. She claimed that there were other papers, which was odd since what I printed was exactly what she sent. She also claimed that there were Xs at the bottom of each page for me to initial…but I saw no such Xs. I explained that the bottom margin was cut off. She said she would email me all the correct documents in one email, in just a moment.

After hanging up, I sat anxiously waiting for this email. At the time, it didn’t occur to me to say or think: “Couldn’t you have just emailed me all the correct documents in one email in the first place? She had originally sent two emails—two days in a row—and the attached paperwork was different in each. One email had one attachment; the other email had three attachments.

I waited longer than I expected. I charged up my phone and read a couple pages in a book I brought. I kept checking my email, and finally I closed my email and reopened it.

Finally, the email arrived. All the documents were in one attachment this time, as they should have been originally.  I called the real estate agent, and she walked me through signing and initialing. This time all the paperwork was there without cut-off margins.

I went to my credit union and asked for a notary. While I sat at the notary’s desk, she observed that the first page of the three pages that needed notarizing in fact said “I/We, the undersigned,” instead of “I, Susan E. Wigget.” She said this isn’t valid, because anyone could sign the paperwork, and she needed a form that would have my name printed on it. She gave me a business card with her fax number. I called the real estate agent and explained, and the agent said I could print my name right under the line for signing it. I passed the phone to the notary, and she got it straightened out. We waited for a better form to be faxed, and that came through after a wait of about fifteen minutes.

The real estate agent had canceled the twelve noon meeting and allowed me until Friday morning to ship the package. I returned to the UPS store one last time and shipped the package to arrive on Friday morning, thus spending another $28 on shipping, in addition to the initial $50 and at least $30 on printing. In the paperwork, I’d noticed that the house—a two-story Craftsman bungalow that’s over a hundred years old—is only selling for $50,000, about half the price of a studio condo in Portland, Oregon. I don’t even know if I’ll get any of the money, since according to my aunt the motivation for selling the house right now is so that Evil Aunt Ethel the sociopath can pay for her nursing home rent.

I haven’t received any more phone calls from the real estate agent, thank Goddess.

NaNoWriMo, Day Ten

10 Nov

At a coffee shop this morning, I devoted four hours to working on my NaNoWriMo novel, an intense and overtly autobiographical novel that will ultimately be magical realism. I was rather shaken up by it this morning. Therefore this afternoon I’m nibbling on dark chocolate and instead working on the other novel I wish to complete this month: an escapist fantasy novel.

There’s something therapeutic about taking a break from a novel inspired by real-life trauma…and instead working on a novel that includes lines such as this:

“Here he is, bundle of love,” Bertram says, as we shove the immobilized evil sorcerer onto our flying carpet.

Phone Conversation with a Lunatic

10 Nov

Right before going to bed last night, I didn’t want to turn on my computer just to write a come-back for bullies, so I handwrote it. That said, now that my computer is turned on, here it is:

“I could endure your presence much more easily if your mouth were as small as your mind.”

 *

Yesterday, my phone woke me at 7:16 am. I glanced at it, and it was coming from Missouri, and the area code began with an 8. So I assumed it was a telemarketer (yes, they have called me as early as 6:40 am) and ignored it. Later in the day, while I was at a write-in, my mother texted me, asking me to call Aunt Bev and giving me her number. Looking at the number, I suddenly realized that she must have been the one who woke me early this morning. I got to wondering if she’s aware that her time zone is a couple hours ahead of mine (never mind that it’s about sixty years behind mine).

I texted back my mother saying I’d do it later, “between the writing party and tonight’s concert.”

She strongly implied that it would be a long phone conversation, which sounded rather unpleasant to me. Conversing with any of the Weird Sisters—even the least evil of them—simply sounds extremely not appealing. She texted: “Will you have more time to call tomorrow?”

When I was at home after the write-in, I immediately plugged in my phone. I had lunch and streamed part of a Korean film on Netflix before checking my phone, taking a deep breath, and calling Aunt Bev.

She just wanted my current email address to send the real estate agent, because my cousin Shelly wants to buy the house. I already knew about this, because my mother texted me about it last week. I figured this was about the house, but I also figured there was more to it than just my email address. Apparently the real estate agent plans to email me forms. I don’t know whether I’ll have to print something and sign it and return it via snail mail, but if so I can print at IOW.

Aunt Bev asked, “So how are you doing out there?”

I said, “Oh, great! This is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write fifty thousand words, or one hundred seventy-five pages, during the month of November. However, my goal is to complete the first drafts of two novels during this month. So far, one of them is slightly over two hundred pages.”

She said, “Two hundred pages isn’t very much.”

I froze, feeling flabbergasted. “What?”

She added, “Two hundred pages isn’t very much compared to a typical novel. That would be easy to do.”

I felt rather deflated and stunned.

I realize that for a conversation with one of the Weird Sisters, that was pretty harmless. However, after the phone call, it sank in with me….Nobody else would claim that writing two hundred pages in nine days isn’t a big deal. Nobody, that is, except my mother or one of her siblings or some similarly deranged and completely negative and toxic and disdainful bully.

Earlier yesterday, I spent slightly over an hour at the Pretty Kitty Bazaar, a benefit for the cat shelter House of Dreams. I ran into someone I know, and when I told her about NaNoWriMo she said she’s been seeing my posts on Facebook. She seemed really impressed, quite the opposite of Aunt Bev. She said, “I couldn’t write two hundred pages. I can barely write a paragraph.” Also, she had seen my Facebook post that I posted after midnight: “My NaNoWriMo novel is now 200 pages. I’m going to bed.”

I belatedly wish I had set aside my customary honesty and told Aunt Bev that the novel is currently six hundred pages. It could have been a test. She probably would still have come up with something negative to say. She definitely wouldn’t have praised me, never mind that I wasn’t fishing for a complement. She would have claimed that no publisher is going to accept a novel that long from a nonentity like me. Or she would have even said that isn’t very long and it’s easy to write six hundred pages. Perhaps she would have questioned the quality of my writing and try to convince me that I have no talent. When my mother isn’t pretending as though I’m not a writer, she’s openly dismissive, saying such things as, “I wish you didn’t write so long.”

The thought does occur to me: I’d like to see Aunt Bev try writing two hundred pages! I wish I had said that to her on the phone. True, the book I read on narcissists says not to engage, not to get into a fight with these bullies, because it’s futile and they have no remorse and will never admit that their behavior is inappropriate, let alone that they’re wrong.

Last month, I had sent via texting a photo of beautiful red vines on the wall of a building, and I wrote the message, “It’s autumn!” I sent this to my mother and to Francis.

My mother replied: “Yes, it comes every year.”

I read it in her sneering, mean, bully voice. I can’t even send her a photo without her making a snarky remark. I have countless times heard her snap in the most withering tones that exact same response to my dad when he comments about the fall colors or some other seasonal change.

I then texted to my brother: “I can’t even send the harpy a photo without her making snarky remarks.”

He replied: “She’d be negative even if someone held a gun to her head.”

I thought of that after talking on the phone with Aunt Bev. All of the Weird Sisters—and my uncles, when they were alive—are one hundred percent negative, at least toward people (scapegoats) who don’t fit into their teensy-weensy version of reality. They very consciously want to break a person like me. They see me as a threat, which is ironic considering that they’re the ones who are abusive, not I. I haven’t even acted in defense against them as much as the average person would have, never mind that responding is completely futile.

All my life, the Weird Sisters have wanted to destroy me, to kill my spirit. I don’t fit into their sociopathic and patriarchal version of reality, and they don’t want me to exist. Perhaps my very presence, or the awareness that I exist, is vaguely unsettling to them, because perhaps somewhere deep down they know they’re empty pieces of shit. On the other hand, their sense of entitlement and lack of remorse are so unfathomably extreme.

On the bright side, at least now—unlike for the first thirty-three years of my life—am conscious of what monsters the Weird Sisters are. While I’m emotionally still affected by their toxicity, intellectually I know better. Intellectually I know their behavior and their negativity is all about them. People who feel good about themselves are not bullies. People who feel good about themselves don’t try to diminish and depress others. People who feel good about themselves do not attempt to destroy the confidence and self-esteem of others.

Dreaming about De-cluttering

6 Nov

I had a dream about de-cluttering. My NaNoWriMo novel involves scenes in which I’m de-cluttering my parents’ house. This has seeped into my dreams.

I was in a small business that had been around for a while and that I had frequented a lot in the past. It looked a lot like a house on the inside. With the store owner, I was the last customer of the day, and at closing time I noticed something from my past, something that I had left at this store some years ago. So I started looking through a bag or box of things my mother and I had left behind. The paraphernalia was partially under a wooden structure, like a bench or the bottom of a bunk bed. (Don’t ask me what this business was—I think it was supposed to be an apothecary or some such place, an herb shop). I found some small toy animals and at least one craft project that I had started when I was a teenager.

Next thing I know, I’m doing this de-cluttering still, but it’s at my parents’ house. I’m in my old bedroom (the one my mother now sleeps in and uses as a computer room, mostly for playing games). I’m finding stuff that, in the reality of the dream, is from my childhood and adolescence. Old toys, including stuffed toy animals I made myself. Craft projects that I made long ago. They’re in boxes and bags all over the place. I’m finding these and thinking it’ll be good to get rid of them by taking them to thrift stores. There may have been a few items I considered keeping, but they were a small minority.

I even, to my disgust, found a plastic bag containing dried up carrots, beets, garlic, and one radish. This struck me as pretty gross. While I looked through it and then held it up and got up to take it all to the trash, there were at least two other people in the room, I think female relatives, and one of them made a comment about the dried-up food. Maybe she was saying that the carrots still look edible. But I just wanted to get rid of all of it, to get rid of just about everything in this room.

There was at least one craft project that was unfinished, from my teen years, and I was delighted to find it and wanted to go ahead and finish it despite the passage of time and my changing tastes.

 

At some point either in this dream or a very similar one, I’d been de-cluttering at my parents’ house, but the place was still quite a mess. I had a long way to go. Oh, yes—I was in the process of de-cluttering my bedroom and was struck by all the stuff there, overwhelmed. There were childish posters on the walls, some of which were starting to fall off the walls. This dream felt rather sinister. It was nighttime, and the house was pretty dark. At some point, I think I was in the living room, when I could swear something moved. It looked as though a big black plastic garbage bag moved. In the dream, I felt very creeped out. I felt as though someone else were in the room, watching me. I occasionally noticed movement out of the corner of my eye, not only because of the garbage bag.

 

In this dream or perhaps another, I was with a small group of people, five at most, along with a small terrier (mostly white, with some black and brown) on a leash. We were about to go out with the dog, when I noticed through a window that there were two people with a total of three quite different dogs on leashes. They were walking the dogs, right outside this big front window. At this point, the room looked more like a 1970s apartment than like my parents’ house.

We all set foot out the door, with the dog, and closed the door behind us. The other two people and the three dogs appeared. I was highly amused and wanted to pet the other dogs, especially the big one. But even I feared that our little dog would get in a fight with the other dogs.

 

NaNoWriMo, Four Days In

4 Nov

For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m writing an overtly autobiographical novel. In terms of accomplishing the word count goal of 50,000, it’s not overly challenging, since I have been copying and pasting a lot of the manuscript into the Word document. In fact, the word count is currently over 47,000 after only four days.

That said, I expect the novel to be rather more than 50,000. And as of last night and today, I’ve been writing parts of the novel from scratch, not merely copying and pasting. Even when I do copy and paste from a journal, I end up making changes, such as verb tense and more “showing, not telling.” I’m creating a novel, not a journal, so it will ultimately be considerably different from the original journal.

I also intend to work on at least one other novel during the month of November. The novel I’ll definitely work on is the second volume in the Rowanwick Witches series: something that is fun and escapist and not autobiographical in the least. I’m doing this in order to keep the intense level of work that we’re supposed to do if we’re participating in NaNoWriMo. Some people think I’m cheating, but the important thing to me is to complete the first draft of at least one novel during the month of November. Since I worked on the Rowanwick Witches novel in October, I’m thinking I should complete that first draft during November and perhaps get to work on its sequel. Thus I intend to complete a minimum of two first drafts this month.

 

NaNoWriMo!

1 Nov

Today is the beginning of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words or 175 pages between November 1 and November 31.

http://nanowrimo.org

I have reached the goal in the past couple of years. Oddly, in 2011 I intended to write a fantasy novel set in Tibet, and the title, synopsis, and excerpt for that novel, Living Dakini, is still up on my account at the NaNo website. However, I started writing a heroic journey fantasy novel at the same time, and I got so wrapped up in that project that I focused almost entirely on it during that November. So that actually ended up being my NaNo novel. That reminds me, I really need to get back to writing that Tibetan story….

The first time I participated in NaNo was in 2003, when I didn’t really know how to write a novel and wasn’t truly prepared. I incorporated autobiographical stuff, including a car accident I experienced in 2001, and I fantasized about some world travel, including visiting Tibet (since this was shortly after I became obsessed with Tibet, which I really did visit in 2008) and perhaps Ireland (which I really did visit in 2005). The manuscript did exceed 50,000 words, but it probably didn’t have a strong plot. I have yet to go back over it.