The super badass way I injured myself, part 2

Okay, so admittedly, this is more badass than the first one.

And, interestingly enough, like the first one, this was also caused by my boobs being so big.

I decided I wanted to learn how to shoot long, pointy things into other things. So I bought a bow, some arrows, all the other crap you need, and had a short intro lesson with one of the instructors.

As it turns out, I cannot do the beginner stance, because it requires standing perpendicular to the target and pulling the string across your body. We quickly discovered that I couldn’t pull the string back nearly far enough without having to go around my boob and holding it in the middle of the two.

Which, of course, would result in some massive bruises when I released the string.

So I have to do a more open stance. I face more toward the target, which gives me more clearance in my chest.

Which isn’t a huge deal, but they don’t teach it to beginners because it’s more physically taxing, more difficult to achieve proper form (if you haven’t already mastered proper form in the square stance), and much easier to develop bad habits.

Still, it’s doable. But you know that proper form thing? And the bad habits thing?

One of the common beginner problems is not rotating your elbow out. When you release the string and your elbow isn’t out, it will slap against your arm.

No big deal, right? Just a little sting, right?

Um….

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And this is what it looked like the next morning.

Looks badass, right? I mean, granted, that’s not just one hit. I caught my arm 3 times. And all three times, I was quickly and effectively reminded how important proper form is.

So it’s a lot of fun, and string slap definitely motivates me to learn how to do it correctly. It’s not excruciating pain, but it’s painful enough to not want to do it again.

Busty girl problems, man. It’s no joke.

Beauty and the Beast

One of the longest running subjects Kazander and I bicker about is the fact that I love musicals and Disney movies.

Although he can’t say much about the Disney thing anymore, because he likes Force Awakens and Rogue One.

Disney knows their shit, y’all.  They generally don’t fuck shit up.

But the classic Disney Princess movies have caught a lot of shit, and 90% of it is completely undeserved.

One of the movies that catches the most hell is actually my favorite Disney Princess movie: Beauty and the Beast.

You hear people criticize this movie all the time, how it’s an example of Stockholm Syndrome, how it encourages women to stay in abusive relationships, hoping that the boyfriend will change, etc.

As far as the abusive thing goes, really?  You think a damn Disney movie will turn a woman into an abuse victim?

It just goes to show how truly ignorant some people are when it comes to the psychology of abuse victims.  But because I don’t want to turn this into a 10,000-word psychology lesson, we’re just going to sum up what I would’ve written and say that no, that claim has no basis in reality whatsoever, because facts, m’kay.

And the Stockholm Syndrome thing is the product of gross oversimplification, and completely misses the point of the movie, and annoys the ever-loving hell out of me.

First, you have to remember that Disney did not come up with the story.  Like all the other Disney Princess movies, Beauty and the Beast was based on an old fairy tale.  They made it more kid-friendly, as they do (you have a problem with Sleeping Beauty?  Check out the original fairy tale.  Holy shit, dude.  Disney’s version is a feminist anthem compared to the original).

Although Disney did break from its normal pattern, and actually made the Beast more aggressive and scary than he is in the original.

The original Beast isn’t aggressive or scary or angry.  Instead, he’s depressed and emo, and he wasn’t cursed for turning a homeless woman away, he was cursed because a sorceress tried to rape him when he was 16, and when he fought her off, she basically did the if-I-can’t-have-you-I’ll-make-it-so-no-one-wants-you thing.

The live-action Disney remake made the Beast slightly more like the original, and in my opinion, it just doesn’t work as well with Disney’s version of the story.  Disney’s Beast needs to be aggressive and angry and hostile.

But politically correct people don’t like that, so they toned him down, and the scene where Belle runs away after the Beast finds her in his room (which is one of the most important scenes in the damn movie) is just awkward in the remake, and it doesn’t fit either character.  The remake really ramped up Belle’s independence, and the fact that she’s a very strong woman.  The Beast barely raises his voice to her, once, and that’s enough to terrify her to the point of choosing certain death over staying in the castle?

No, dude.  It doesn’t work.  Disney’s original version, with him being scary, is better, and they should’ve kept it, for more reasons than just that scene.

Honestly, Disney’s 1991 version is a million times better than the original fairy tale.  A big part of the reason why is because of Howard Ashman.  He deserves the credit for changing the story so completely, and for turning it into the amazing, incredible, touching, heart-wrenching movie I watched as a kid.

I mean, do you understand what’s happening in the story?  Do you really understand it?

First, let’s a take a look at Belle and the village.  They often say she’s pretty, but she doesn’t fit in.  She’s an outcast.  They stare at her.  They mock her.  They shun her for being different.

Meanwhile, Gaston, the villain, is lauded as a hero.  And that’s truly the scariest thing about the movie.  Not the Beast, not the Beast’s temper.  Not the long claws or sharp fangs or dark castle.

The scariest thing about the movie isn’t that Gaston exists, but that he’s universally loved by society.

He fits everything society says a man should be.

They fall over each other praising him, ignoring how cruel and selfish he is, because that’s not as important as fitting in to society’s man-shaped box.

Meanwhile, Belle, who is kind, and smart, and loving, is ignored and shunned because she doesn’t fit what society says a woman should be.  This is one area where the remake actually got it right, in that they make the town even more hostile toward her, where in the 1991 film, the scenes in the town just aren’t long enough to provide as much of that attitude.

But even in the 1991 film, it’s obvious that being good and decent is not as important as fitting in, and the good, decent people suffer for it.  Bullies are rewarded and loved, as long as they fit in.

Because we’ve been conditioned to think that those who are different are somehow less than us.  And it’s everywhere.  Immigrants, Muslims, women, the homeless, the sick, the disabled, criminals, those who are gay (this is a big one, I’ll get to that), those who are poly, those who are atheist or polytheistic or pretty much anything other than Christian, those who are trans, I mean, the list goes on and on and on.

People like Trump, true, cruel bullies, are rewarded for criticizing and further ostracizing those who are different, because people are so quick to see them as less.  That they don’t fit in, so they don’t belong with us, and they must be put in their place.  Or killed.

This is a common theme that comes up in many of Disney’s movies, but the only one that even comes close to Beauty and the Beast is the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

So, look at the Beast.  He’s bitter and angry, and hates himself.  In the original, the Beast asks Belle to marry him every night.  Disney’s Beast doesn’t ask, doesn’t bother asking, because he’s convinced himself that he’s unlovable, that he’s a monster, and that he’ll never be anything more.  No one trusts him because of the way he looks, because he’s a beast, because he’s an animal, because he’s less than human.

His character, and the bitterness you see in that character, shows just how badly being ostracized can mess with your head.  It shows how being told by society that you’re a monster makes you start to believe it, yourself, and affects the way you see yourself.

Howard Ashman worked on the musical score, he wrote all the lyrics while Alan Menken wrote the music, and while he didn’t direct or write the script, this movie is and always will be his.

He was an openly gay man, dying of AIDS, when this movie was made.  And sadly, he passed away before it was released, and never got to see the success of his last great work.

But the story was very different when they gave him the script and told him and Alan Menken to write the music for it.  For one, it wasn’t originally supposed to be a musical.  And secondly, the Beast wasn’t meant to be a central character.  There wasn’t much to his character at all, really.

It was Howard’s idea to make it a musical, and to change the Beast, to make him one of the main characters, to make him more central to the story.  He recognized immediately the way Belle is ostracized by society, and gave birth to the love story in which she and the Beast can find comfort in each other after society rejects them both.

As an openly gay man, dying of AIDS, in 1990, he knew quite a lot about that.  He connected with the way Belle is treated by society, while Gaston is beloved.

He, as a gay man, also faced the same stigma that they wrote into the Beast’s character.  Because compare the Beast and Gaston.  Under the bitterness and anger, the Beast is kind, compassionate, and selfless.  Even in his rage, he never hurts Belle or her father, and he risks his life to save her after she runs away (and is injured to the point that he cannot stand or walk on his own).

Quick tangent:  It’s interesting to note that in this scene, after he collapses, unconscious, in the snow, Belle turns to her horse, intending to leave him there to die.

She doesn’t, of course.  She changes her mind and helps him, but that’s a significant moment.  He risked his life for her, he protected her even when he was angry, even when he knew that she would never love him, she would never break the spell (because at this point, you know he doesn’t think she’ll ever forgive him for his outburst).  He saved her, not for his own selfish reasons, but because he’s a good man, and that’s what a good man does.

Belle, on the other hand, turns to ride off.  For that moment, she becomes society, she sees him the same way society sees him.  She turns her back on him, she intends to leave him there.

But she stops, and it’s a very important, revealing moment in her character development.  Because it shows that she’s not perfect, that she’s human, that she can let her fear and distrust overcome everything else, the way any human can.  And it shows just how easily even good people can become victim to the conditioning society has ingrained in us.  She could have easily gotten on her horse and left.  She was tempted to.  It’s what she wanted to do.  But she turns, she sees him lying there, and sees herself in him.

It’s not the fact that he saved her that makes her stop, but her own realization, her own discovery of the man underneath the monster.  She shows her own strength here, in her ability to go against society, her ability to go against what society says she should do.  She makes the conscious decision to see him as more than a monster, and she helps him.

He’s completely stunned by this, and by her fearlessness when he yells at her later, while she’s tending to his wounds.  She inadvertently hurts him, and he roars so loud, right in her face, that it blows her hair back.

But unlike the last time he roared at her, there’s no fear.  She meets his anger fearlessly, she yells right back at him, she matches his fire with her own.  It’s yet another important point in her character development.  She is never the “damsel in distress,” at any point in this story, but here we see her not as his prisoner, but his equal.  She establishes herself as his equal, she commands his respect as his equal, and now that she sees him as a man, the roaring and the temper don’t scare her.

Again, she made the conscious decision to see him as a man while he was lying there in the snow, and now that she does, the monster doesn’t frighten her.  She yells right back at him, she doesn’t hesitate, she doesn’t show even a hint of fear.

It’s safe to assume that no one has ever spoken to him like this, and this is obvious in the way he stammers and stumbles over his words, his anger immediately gone.  It’s here that he starts to see her as more than just another person to reject him, and it’s here that he lets her see a glimmer of his vulnerability.

His anger and his frightening appearance have become the walls to keep everyone out, but inside, he’s lonely.  And sad.  And hopeless.  But he endures.  He keeps going, even though he’s so sure he will never be anything worth loving, he will never be anything more than a monster.

Meanwhile, Gaston is cruel, selfish, intolerant, and close-minded.  But he’s good-looking, charismatic, “brave,” and successful, so society loves him.

He’s everything society says a man should be.

But what is a man, really?  What makes a man?

Is it just a grown male human?  Is that all it is?  Or does it go deeper than that?  Does it mean more than that?

The Beast is Howard Ashman.  Being gay and being sick in 1990 carried a hell of a stigma, and most of society didn’t see him as a man.  He wasn’t what they said a man is supposed to be.  So he was ostracized, ridiculed, and attacked for it.  This was something he understood at a very personal level, and he wrote it into the story.

Because when you look at the Beast and Gaston, you have to ask; which is the monster, and which is the man?

Belle is the only one who can see the truth.  She looks past the Beast’s appearance and gets through the walls he keeps around himself.  She teaches him that he has a soul, that he’s worthy of love, and that he’s not a monster.

The only thing I don’t love about the story is how depressed he gets when she leaves, because he’s based his entire concept of self-worth on the fact that she cares about him.  When the angry mob attacks, he gives up, he doesn’t care, he simply wants to die.  He’s lost all hope, as he had before she came, but this time, he doesn’t want to fight anymore.

But given the story itself, and the life of the man who created the character, along with the fact that he was extremely ill while writing for the movie (he was tired, too, and knowing that his death was inevitable, I have no doubt he had moments where he just wanted to give up), I can understand it.

For Howard, it was a metaphor for AIDS.  It was a curse, that brought sorrow to him and everyone who loved him.  It was about his self-loathing, his regret, his despair, and through it all, the tiniest seed of hope, that he didn’t even want to really acknowledge, that maybe, just maybe, there was a miracle waiting for him, a way for the curse to be lifted.  And through it all, his partner, the man who stayed with him despite the stigma, the one who loved him when he couldn’t love himself, was there by his side.

Knowing this, the lyrics to the songs take on a whole new meaning.  You look at Human Again (which was originally cut from the film, but they added it back in when the special edition was released), and you see Howard’s own hope in it.

When we cast off this pall
We’ll stand straight, we’ll walk tall
When we’re all that we were
Thanks to him, thanks to her
Coming closer and closer

The Mob song is by far the darkest, most frightening song of the movie, not just because of what’s happening in the plot, but because it shows so clearly the mob mentality that turns men into monsters, and how easy it is to incite that kind of fear, and violence.

We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least
Bring your guns!
Bring your knives!
Save your children and your wives
We’ll save our village and our lives
We’ll kill the Beast!

In the title song, the way the Beast sees himself is really illustrated, and it touches on Belle’s ability to show him that he’s worth loving.  She shows him he can change, that he can let down those walls, that he can let her in.

Tale as old as time,
Tune as old as song,
Bitter-sweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Belle saves him, more than once.  First she saves him from his bitterness and despair.  Then, she saves him from his own self-loathing.  Next, when Gaston is standing over him, ready to kill him, she saves him by giving him something to fight for.  And lastly, when he is lying there, dying, she saves him again by breaking the curse for him.

People deride this movie, saying that Belle is “weak,” and I want to punch them in their stupid faces.  Belle is every bit the hero of this story.  She gives the Beast something to live for, she shows him that he’s not worthless, she teaches him how to love himself by letting him love her, even before she’s able to reciprocate it.

She makes it clear from the beginning that she doesn’t need the Beast (his name is Adam, but it’s never mentioned in the movie).  She doesn’t need anyone, and this shows in all her actions.  In the beginning, he’s her captor, but she doesn’t care.  When Madame Garderobe tries to talk to her, tries to convince her to get to know him, she snaps, “I don’t want to get to know him!  I don’t want anything to do with him!”

She’s strong and defiant, and even when she was afraid of him, she damn sure wasn’t going to let that affect her.  She wasn’t going to give in just because she was afraid.  She wasn’t going to let him have his way just because he could get loud and scare her.

She pushed him, she forced him to break out of the anger and bitterness that had become his defense.  And once he did, she fell in love with the man she found underneath.

This story is about how society sees people who are different, how quick the mob is to attack, and how that mindset is wrong.  Both Belle and the Beast are good, kind people, but because they’re different, they’re ostracized and rejected.  This story is about how two people, lonely and misunderstood, find comfort and understanding in each other, and can turn to each other when society turns its back on them.

And this is a story that’s actually paralleled in Phantom of the Opera, which, while most likely unintentional (although it’s possible the author took inspiration from Belle et la Bete), is eerily similar.  And I love that the same people who criticize Beauty and the Beast just love Phantom of the Opera, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version is seen as one of the greatest love stories.

…. Are you serious?

The only difference between the two stories is that Belle is strong enough to be Adam’s equal, while Christine is too weak to do the same with Erik.

Belle forces Adam to shed the walls he has around himself, she doesn’t let his anger and outward appearance scare her, and she doesn’t allow him to continue being bitter.  She’s strong enough to stand up to him, even when she’s frightened of him.  She’s strong enough to go against society’s expectations, she’s strong enough to see the man under the monster.

She’s strong enough to face him, to basically tell him, “Alright, that’s enough.  You’re going to stop being a dick, and you’re going to stop now.”

Christine, on the other hand, cannot do that with Erik.  She can’t stand up to him, she can’t push him, she can’t stop him from becoming the monster society has convinced him he is.  She’s weak, she takes the easy route, she goes with the pretty face that society loves (although Raoul is obviously not a villain like Gaston is).

She goes with the one that’s the easiest to love, and the one society loves.  She goes with what society says she should do, and Erik is left abandoned.  She’s weak, and she allows herself to be manipulated, even when she’s aware that it’s happening.

Throughout the story, she never does anything.  She never moves the story along on her own.  She requires other characters to drive the story, and all she does is follow and react.

I love the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, but I can’t stand the story.  I can’t stand Christine, I can’t stand the fact that she turns her back on the beast, and I can’t stand that she allows him to manipulate her even when she’s aware that he’s doing it, and she lets her own fear defeat her.  I can’t stand the fact that she can’t meet him as his equal, she can’t say to him, “Alright, that’s enough.  You’re going to stop being a dick, and you’re going to stop now.”

Both Adam and Erik suffer from the same curse.  They’re both shunned by society.  They’re both seen as monsters.  Convinced that it’s true, they both use it as their defense, to keep people away.  They both take advantage of it, because they prefer people being afraid of them to people being repulsed by them.

Unable to love themselves, they both look to a woman, hoping she’ll be able to love them.  Still clinging to their bitterness, they both end up kidnapping and/or imprisoning her, even as they hope she’ll be able to see what’s underneath all the anger and bitterness.  Through their despair, there’s still that tiny, tentative hope.

Belle rises to that challenge, she breaks right through the Beast’s defenses and society’s expectations, and she saves him.  She lifts his curse.

Erik’s curse is never lifted.  Because Christine is too weak and small and scared to meet him as his equal.  She can’t save him.  Hell, he’s the one who kind of realizes, “Hey, I’m being kind of a dick.  Maybe I should knock that off.”

In the musical, he realizes this and even finally shows her his vulnerability on his own, lays himself completely bare to her, he shows her every part of himself.  He realizes everything he’s done wrong, everything he’s done that has hurt her, and how he had been trying to control her, rather than love her.

He realizes this and opens himself up to her, he lets go of the hate and anger, and shows her the man underneath.

More than that, he begs her to save him.  Publicly.  He begs her to be strong enough to love him.

He submits wholly to her in that moment, he gives himself completely over to her.  In that moment, he is hers, and he’s begging her to accept him, to save him, to lead him, to guide him and teach him how to be a man, instead of a monster.

He’s willing to let go of all the hate and anger that has kept him going for his entire life, he’s willing to leave everything behind to follow her, if she’ll just accept him.  He begs her to accept him, to lead him, to save him.

Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime,
Lead me, save me from my solitude
Say you’ll want me with you here, beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go, too.
Christine, that’s all I ask of you

Of course, she fucks that up, too, because she’s an idiot and a coward, and he goes right back to the anger, but now he’s even more pissed off because he knows that she will never love him.  It makes him even more of a dick.

Until, again, he realizes he’s being kind of a dick, and he should probably knock it off.

He redeems himself, because she isn’t strong enough to save him.  Even when she finally sees him for what he is, even when she finally sees the man through all his anger and self hatred, she still rejects him.

Because Raoul is prettier.  And younger.  And wealthy, we can’t forget wealthy.

No, Beauty and the Beast is the way this story is supposed to go.  Phantom of the Opera is what would’ve happened if Belle was weak, the way the movie’s critics like to say she is.

The movie is dedicated to Howard, saying he “gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul.”  He was made an executive producer of the movie, due to how much he influenced the story, and his life and influence played a big part in the live-action remake.

Disney has played with gay and queer themes before, but it had always been subtext, or implied, or just enough to make people wonder.

Yeah, they didn’t do that with the remake.  I mean, the director of the remake is openly gay, but openly gay crew members isn’t anything new (as evidenced by Howard Ashman, himself).  Adding it to the movie, however, is completely new.

Not only do you have LeFou, the first openly gay Disney character (and I just have to say, I’m totally in love with Josh Gad.  Laugh if you want, but find me something he’s done that is not unbelievably awesome.  Totally in love with the guy), but you’ve got quite a few little queer things thrown in.  Most notably, you’ve got the bisexual man and his cross-dressing “wife,” and you’ve got one of the mobsters completely thrilled with Madame Garderobe’s transformation of him.

I actually love the changes they made to LeFou.  Especially the changes in the Mob Song, where he really starts to doubt Gaston, and starts asking himself whether Gaston is a man or a monster.

There’s a beast running wild, there’s no question
But I fear the wrong monster’s released.

And I totally awwed at the end, where he and the cross-dressing mobster accidentally find themselves in each other’s arms.  Totally adorable.

But it’s a more optimistic picture of society than what Howard painted.  How even Gaston’s closest follower and most loyal friend, the one who followed him blindly, the one who worshiped him, the one who idolized him, even he can realize that what they’re doing is wrong.

LeFou was Gaston’s biggest fan.  Completely in love with him, there’s nothing LeFou wouldn’t do.  No one loved Gaston as passionately as LeFou did.  No one clung to the idea of Gaston’s heroism like LeFou did.

But even LeFou, when confronted with what Gaston is, knew that what they were doing was wrong, and eventually turned away from him, saving Mrs. Potts’ life.

It’s a more hopeful outlook, that even the most close-minded and fanatical can change, that no one is too far gone to turn back.  I really like that idea, I really like the idea of redemption.

But with Howard Ashman being so instrumental in making the story what it is, it’s fitting that this is the movie in which they decided to bring the gay and queer themes out from obscure subtext and make them prominent, fearlessly facing the backlash they knew would come from the very people Howard Ashman felt ostracized by.

A company as universal as Disney would generally try to avoid taking sides in any political or moral divide.  The fact that they very obviously and proudly chose a side here is a beautiful tribute to Howard.  It’s his pain that made the story, it’s his struggles with society that inspired the Beast, and it’s his spirit that Disney was loyal to.

The rest of society turned its back on Howard, and everyone like him, but Disney showed here that they would not forget Howard Ashman, they would not forget that it’s because of him that Beauty and the Beast became such a massive success (it is the first ever animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture), and they would not forget the battle he fought and the pain he endured.

I mean, when you look at the story, when you see it for what it is, it’s impossible not to love it.  The heart of the story, the way Belle saves the Beast, the way she teaches him how to love himself, the way she teaches him that he’s worthy of love, is beautiful.  She teaches him to be vulnerable, she allows him to take comfort in her as she takes comfort in him.

And it begs the question, “What makes a man?”  And it encourages us to take a long, hard look at ourselves, at the way we see those we don’t understand.

Yeah, not Stockholm Syndrome, m’kay.  Don’t tarnish Howard Ashman’s memory by reducing his work to that.

When you live in Vegas…

… What do you do when you want to get away?

I mean, we already live in the tourism capital of the world.  I was born here.  I was raised here.  It’s nothing new to me.  Nothing special.

So Kazander and I were looking at places to do another stay-cation this year.  We considered the Luxor again, but honestly, that place has just gone so far downhill, neither of us wanted to go there again.

Which is sad.  I remember when it first opened, when I was a kid.  I loved that place.  I loved staying there whenever my parents did a stay-cation.  The first time Kazander and I stayed there, I was shocked at how bad it had gotten, but I was still nostalgic.

After the second time, though, even I had to admit that it wasn’t what we wanted.

Where, then, would we go?

He suggested the bustling metropolis of Laughlin (pronounced lof-lin, like in “loft”), NV, population, 8,000.

And I promptly laughed.

But then he said, “Well, they’ve got the river, and a couple of beaches, and jet skis and things.  It could be fun.”

Hmm, that’s actually a good point.

I’d driven through Laughlin a million times, but never actually stopped in the town.  I never gave it much thought.  It was just one more tiny little town in the middle of the desert.  A couple of casinos and a post office.

Big deal.

But the Colorado River is pretty cool, and I haven’t been to any part of the Colorado River since I was a kid.

So I looked it up.  And sure enough, there’s enough other stuff to do there to keep us entertained for a few days.

Who knew?

Hell yeah, actually.  I could definitely go for that.  It’s out in the middle of the desert, which I love, in a nice, climate-controlled room, which I love, literally right on the bank of the river, which I love.

Hell yeah.

So we made the reservations and drove out today.  We’re going back on Sunday.

And it just feels so damn good to get away.

Things are quickly reaching a boiling point with us living so close to his family.  I’ve been wanting to move out for years, but never really pressed the issue, because I don’t work, and that wasn’t fair to him.

Then, in the last year or so, I started pressing.  Because I need to get away from them.  I know myself well enough to know my patterns, and they’ve been pushing me and pushing me.  When I break, there will be no going back.

And his MIL and SIL (Mother-in-law and sister-in-law) have officially gotten me to my breaking point.

I have a friend, who used to be SIL’s friend, until he realized the kind of human being she is.  But she did introduce us, and we hit it off great.

I was hanging out with him the other day when he got close and said, “I have something I need to tell you.”

My curiosity was piqued.  “What is it?”

“SIL has been asking about you and Kazander.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, she’s been asking if you’re into any kinky or freaky shit.”

At first, I brushed him off.  “She’s done that before.  She’s just bored and nosey.”

But the friend was not so easily assuaged.  “She wants to find dirt on you to take the spawn from you.”

“WHAT???”

“She and MIL want you out of the picture.  They want to find a reason to declare you an unfit mother.”

“She said that?”

“Not in those words, but she might as well have.”

He’s not known for lying or exaggerating, or drama-mongering, so I completely believe him.

“But they’d never want to take her from Kazander,” i protested.

“They think he’ll side with them.”

I started to laugh, then stopped, thinking back to all the times MIL just insisted that Kazander would side with her on different things, or agree with her, or take her (poor) advice, etc.

Yeah, she absolutely would think Kazander would side with her.

Holy fucking hell.

So I got home and told Kazander what was going on.  He was shocked, but dismissive, and that angered me.

And I mean, I could see where he was coming from.  He would never side with them over me, so there’s nothing they would ever be able to do.  They could talk to lawyers if they want, but I have no record, I don’t do drugs, I volunteer with homeless veterans, I’m a total, upstanding citizen and all that jazz.  I mean, there’s not a lot they could use.  They’d have to do some serious digging to find anything remotely close, and he pointed out that they’re not intelligent or creative enough for that.

Okay, so cool, I’m in no immediate danger of losing my child.

That’s not the whole point, though.

Because we are living in an environment where people are conspiring behind my back to take my daughter from me.  Whether or not they can succeed is irrelevant.  I don’t want to be around that, and I don’t want my daughter around that.

That’s toxic.

So I told Kazander, “We need to move.”

He scoffed.  “We’re not going to move.  They can’t do anything.  There’s no point.”

“I don’t care if they can’t do anything.  It’s the fact that they want to do something!”

But he remained dismissive.  Even after I said, “Either we need to move out, or I do.”

So I started looking at options.

I wasn’t going to play tug-of-war with my child.  If they want her so bad that they’re willing to destroy her entire world, then fine.  They can have her.  Losing one parent would devastate her, but if Kazander’s family went through with this, she would either lose both parents (if his MIL and SIL won), or every member of her extended family (if he and I won).

That would hurt her so much more.  God, that would crush her.  I don’t think she could easily recover from that.  It’s been so central to her whole world, her whole existence, ever since she was born.

God… That would… That would just kill her.

I could never let that happen to her.

And I have faith in my daughter.  I have faith in the way I raised her.  I have faith that, even if she’s brought up around those pathetic, terrible, small people, she will know the truth as she gets older.

It was Sounder who suggested another tactic, one that would keep my family together.

So I talked to Kazander again.  I told him I wanted to move out.

He said, “What if I want to stay?”

I shrugged.  “Then you can stay.”

That angered him a bit.  “You’d break up with me over that?”

“Over your family having ridiculous amounts of control over us?  Over you choosing them and that control over me and your daughter?  Yes the fuck I would.”

So we agreed on a six-month trial run.  We’ll get an apartment for six months, and then reassess and decide if living away from them is worth the inconvenience of not having them there.

And of course we won’t be going far.  The family is still so important to the spawn, so we’d absolutely bring her over 2 or 3 times a week to spend time with them, or even spend the night once in awhile.  But she won’t be spending weeks with them anymore.  I told Kazander, in no uncertain terms, that’s coming to an end.

I want to be moved out by the time the spawn starts school.  So I’m looking at apartments and Kazander is talking to his dad about how he’s going to manage the finances without living there.  It can be done.

It will be done.  Because staying there, keeping the status quo, is not an option anymore.

I’m stressed.  All the time.

I’m on edge.  All the time.

I’m short-tempered and irritated.  All the time.

I can’t do this anymore.  And I hated having to give him the ultimatum, but I was literally at a point where it was either that, or I would have to walk away.  I’m not going to live in a place where people conspire to take my family from me.

It’s just not happening.

So due to the financial burden that moving out will be, we decided not to go to Cancun, as we’d planned in October.  We’d need that for moving costs and rent.

But Kazander said, “With us not going, you really just need to get away for a few days.  You need to get out of the house.”

Yeah, I really did.

Okay, so Kazander and I have very different ideas of a perfect vacation accommodation.  I want a nice room.  I want a suite.  I want… not crazy expensive, but definitely not Motel 6.  At least 3 stars.

Kazander hates paying more than he absolutely has to for a room.  He’d do Motel 6’s the entire way.

And I get where he’s coming from.  When we go on vacation, we have a budget.  He’d rather spend the money on activities and cool things to do than the room.  Where I would rather do cheap or free activities and be comfortable in the room.

So we’ve always compromised, and met in the middle.

Not this time.

We’re staying 4 nights, in a casino that has two separate kinds of suites.  The second-tier suite, and the first-tier suites.  He said we could get the top-tier suite.

You guys don’t understand.  He has never agreed to anything even remotely like that, much less offer it himself.  I was blown away.

And I appreciated the hell out of that.  So I looked on the casino’s website, juggled some things around, combined a couple of promo packages, and found something that was $300 cheaper (I’m really, really good at doing that.  I’m good at finding deals when I need to).

We’ll stay the first two nights, tonight and tomorrow, in the second tier suite.  Then, on Friday, we’ll check out of that room and into the top-tier suite, where we’ll spend Friday night and Saturday night.

After him going so far as to give me the best suite in the hotel, I’m more than happy to have the second best for two nights to save him some money.  It’s definitely worth the minor inconvenience of checking out and then checking back in.  And the packages I combined come with some nice benefits and coupons that save us even more money on food and activities.  So all in all, we’re looking at saving about $500.

Hell yeah, I’ll take the second tier suite for that.

So we drove out today, checked in, and walked up to our room.

And the room isn’t bad.  I mean, you have to understand, it’s Laughlin.  This is not Vegas.  This is not even close to Vegas.  The casino resort we’re staying in is, according to what I read, the nicest one in Laughlin.

…… That doesn’t really say much for Laughlin, m’kay.

Without the promo, after taxes and fees, the second tier suite would have cost $5 more than the pyramid suite at the Luxor for the same nights.  And it’s about that quality, just without the big tub that the Luxor suite had.  Or without the 12 years of dust hanging from the air conditioning vent that the Luxor suite had.

I mean, it balances out.

Still, kinda disappointing when you’re under the impression these are the “elite” rooms offered.

But it’s nice, it’s comfortable, we had a fantastic view of the sunset from our room, and the river is beautiful, and brings back so many memories.  We’re going on a river cruise, we’re going to one of the beaches, we’re thinking about renting jet skis, I mean, it’ll be a really awesome stay.

 

Sounder is coming out this weekend, too, to spend some time with us.  And honestly, both Sounder and Kazander are doubtful, but I promise, promise, promise that my reason for wanting him to come out to spend time with us is not to play, but to just hang out.

Kazander and Sounder are complete opposites in a lot of ways, but they’re almost eerily alike in other ways, especially regarding their senses of humor.  I think they’d get along really well.

And my dream is to have all of us live together one day.  Sounder and Kazander will have to spend way more time with each other than the occasional drink at a bar or the occasional cock in Sounder’s mouth to find out if that’s a possibility or not.

These are two very strong personalities, in two very strong men.  It could turn out wonderfully, or it could turn out badly.  I’ve had enough tense roommate situations to know that I don’t want to jump in to one again, without at least an idea of what we can expect and how we can all put in concentrated effort to make it work.

The only way to be able to make any sort of educated prediction about that is to have them spend more time together.

That’s why I want Sounder to come out.  Not to play.

Although, of course, while we’re in the room, I’ll expect him to wear girls’ clothes.  I mean, that’s just a given.  He should be wearing girls’ clothes 24/7 when he’s not in public, anyway.  Obviously he’ll wear it here, too.

And I mean, should the opportunity for play present itself, I won’t stop it.  As I told Sounder earlier today, I will never pass up the opportunity to put a cock inside him.

But even if we do play, that’ll just be a small, short part of the evening.  That’s not going to be the bulk of our interactions while he’s here.  For the most part, it’ll just be chill, seriously just innocent hanging out.

So yeah, y’all…. I am beyond looking forward to the next few days.

And for someone who lives in Vegas, who has done the “Vegas tourist” thing over and over and over again, this is a welcome change.  Hell, this might actually turn out to be my new favorite stay-cation place.  Who knew?

Kazander often has good ideas, but he hit it way out of the park with this one.  That was just sheer fucking brilliance.

Who would’ve guessed, Laughlin?

Why am I not surprised?

 

Okay so in my last post, I mentioned the large number of skeptics who give me hell or get all judge-y and condescending for choosing to believe that astrology has merit, and that I’ve never met one of these people who knew literally anything about it.

And sure enough, one such person poked his head up.  Surprising, right?  Aren’t you surprised?  Because I’m totally surprised.

See this?  It’s my “surprised” face.

But he wasn’t just condescending, he did one better (by not even reading the entire post before making his condescending comment, *Edit* and something else that seriously made my day), and since I’m just a bit argumentative (possibly because I’m an ENTP, possibly because I’m Air and Mercury Dominant in Aquarius, with Sun conjunct Mercury, or maybe just because I’m a bitch who loves to point out when people are flat-out wrong), I couldn’t resist.

Screenshot (29)

Aww, aren’t you precious.

It’s so cute when people try to be condescending, touting their imagined intelligence. Especially when their comment contains numerous grammatical errors.

And most especially when their comment reveals the fact that they didn’t bother reading the entire post before telling me why I’m wrong (and literally proving my original point about these obnoxious skeptics).

Like, I literally just got done talking about how the obnoxious, condescending skeptics prefer ignorance, that they jump to their precious conclusions without knowing anything about it, and here’s a guy who proves my point beautifully.  He didn’t even bother reading the next four paragraphs of my post (much less the whole thing).  He stopped at that sentence, jumped to his conclusions, and did the whole “do a simple blind study and win a million dollars. Easy money” thing.

And for the record, from this point forward, unless I specifically say otherwise, when I use the word “skeptic,” I am talking exclusively about those who get all judge-y and condescending, and feel compelled to give me shit about something they know literally nothing about.  I know a great deal of skeptics who are extremely respectful, and we can discuss it civilly and politely.  Nothing I’m going to say applies to those people.

But that’s not how things work? The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Sigh….

Okay, so since reading is hard (and I know I got super science-y and technical in my last post, you may not have been able to follow if even if you’d taken the time to read it), I actually quoted 2 specific studies of astrology that literally did that exact thing. One by Clark, one by Gauqelin. I also pointed out that Gauqelin’s results were replicated 3 times, by 3 different organizations, in 3 different countries.

Which you would’ve known, had you bothered to read the entire post before telling me why I’m wrong.

Just sayin’…

Also, we don’t have “extraordinary evidence” that the Big Bang, dark matter, and dark energy exist. Those are some pretty extraordinary claims. But using what we currently know and understand, we agree that it’s extremely plausible, to the point that it’s generally accepted as fact. Are you saying you don’t believe in those things? That you’re incapable of understanding or acknowledging something you cannot see or touch, because it hasn’t been proven?

That’s a depressing way to go through life. And what’s more, every astrophysicist, quantum physicist (or quantum anything, really), and physical cosmologist thinks you’re an idiot.  I mean, that’s literally how these people make their living, by imagining things currently beyond the scope of our understanding, and entertaining the idea that it might be true.

Did you read literally anything past the sentence you quoted? Or, like many obnoxious skeptics, did you not bother to learn shit before making your snap judgement?

That’s a hypothetical question, by the way. Don’t answer it, I already know the answer (look at that, I’m like totally psychic). Because I’ve had this same conversation a hundred times with a hundred people exactly like you.

And, like I said in my post that you didn’t read, I have no desire to argue or debate with those who prefer ignorance to education.

Oh, but there is just one quick, teensy little thing….

But for the record: Just do a simple blind study of astrology and you will get one million dollar if it works. Easy money.

Bigger sigh…..

*Edit* So the commentor goes by Randy, and the url he provided is literally the link to the Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (which was created by James Randi, and I’m assuming the commentor’s name “Randy” is a play on that), which makes all of this so much better.

Like, a million times better.  Oh my God, I literally, actually laughed out loud when I saw that.  Like, totally ugly laughed.  You guys seriously have no idea how happy this made me.

Okay, so the million-dollar thing was called the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (I know, Google is hard *Edit* especially when you were literally on the website), and the challenge was to prove the validity of ESP, and paranormal claims, not astrology. Not a single applicant accepted for testing was an astrologer.

You know, since multiple studies have literally already proven the validity of astrology.  Which, had you kept reading the next four paragraphs of the post after the sentence you quoted, you would have known.

Also (*Edit* and this is my favorite part, you guysthe challenge was terminated.

Which it says, in big-ass bold letters, at the top of the page you linked to.

*Edit again*  No seriously, how did you not know the challenge was terminated?  I mean, I know you didn’t read my post, but I figured you’d at least skim the shit you actually agree with on that site.  Like, how is that even possible, that you’d link to that site, but not know that it says, right up at the top, in bold letters, that they terminated the challenge?

Three astrologers applied.  None were accepted.  The most hilarious exchange was between the JREF (that’s the organization hosting the challenge, I know you didn’t know that *Edit* even though you were literally on that website.  Seriously, it’s almost not fair how much I’m enjoying this).  Look, I really am like totally super psychic!) challenge facilitator and an astrologer named John. A. “JAK” Keeran.

It’s hilarious because the JREF would literally not accept drivers’ licenses or birth certificates as legitimate proof of birth date, paternity, or biological parents’ birth dates.  JAK was never tested because they could not agree on acceptable proof of one’s birthday or parentage.

Oh and also, they didn’t like the idea of him using both astrological skeptics and believers in his data pool, because that’s something that made sense to them, while he wanted an equal number, or at least generally equal number, of skeptics and believers.  Because he felt that was the most objective method, that it would ensure that a group of nothing but believers couldn’t potentially slant their own answers to fit the test.  JREF felt that having skeptics specifically could somehow skew the results in his favor, and give him an “out” if the tests disproved his claim.

And while they said it had to be a double-blind test, somehow JAK was supposed to gather the group, interact with them, and get data from them.  Which is like, the literal opposite of a double-blind test.  When he pointed this out, and voiced concern that direct involvement with the subjects could potentially taint the test, their response was (I’m paraphrasing here) “Oh well, sucks to be you.  I guess you just can’t do the test after all.”

Oh, but tell me more about how objective and scientific and totally not-ridiculous that challenge was.  You can see the records by the challenge facilitator, and see just how demeaning and insulting he was to everyone who applied.  He openly mocked them, and was proud of it.

Whether their claims were bullshit or not doesn’t matter.  I happen to think 99% of anyone who claims any kind of paranormal thing is full of shit.  You won’t see me openly mock or insult them, though.

I know, it’s weird, right?  It’s almost like I’m a better, more compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded human being, capable of recognizing that other people have other experiences and thought processes that lead them to different conclusions that, while I may not agree, I can accept as valid to that individual.

Totally weird.

No, I save the mockery and insults for hypocrites, the willfully ignorant, and those who think they can come on my blog, say something demeaning (and incorrect) and not get publicly ripped to shreds.

So yeah, that challenge was a complete scam, by an organization (which was not a scientific organization, by the way *Edit* and you probably should’ve noticed that when you were literally on their website) run and headed by a former magician. It was so widely criticized, it was eventually terminated, citing wanting to use the money for other purposes as their reason (*Edit* which it literally says, right at the top, in big bold letters, on the website you were on when you copied and pasted the link to show how super smart you are)

And it’s hilarious to me that every obnoxious skeptic immediately brings up that challenge, knowing literally nothing about it, such as the qualifications for applicants, the “controlled” parameters, or the fact that applicants had to sign away their right to an attorney and had no access to the results of the tests, meaning that the organization could legally slant or change the results altogether to suit their purposes.

Whether the organization actually changed results or not, I don’t care. If their goal was truly to objectively prove or disprove the existence of paranormal abilities, why would they need to use such underhanded methods?

Uh, cuz it wasn’t objective, bro.

You know, facts and all.

The only “challenge” ever open specifically to astrologers was to see if they could correctly answer questions about future election results. Since astrology doesn’t predict the future (and it’s kind of laughable, and stupid, to think that astrology does that, and kinda just proves the ignorance of the skeptics running the test), that challenge was never won, and every time someone new opens that challenge (there has been more than one), no astrologist will ever win.

There’s also one open to anyone who claims to use paranormal abilities or astrology to diagnose and treat a range of illnesses. Again, astrology does not do that, so no astrologer will ever win it.

So, since no astrologer will ever win those challenges, that must prove astrology is bullshit, right?

Or is it possible the challenges themselves are slanted, knowingly or unknowingly, by skeptics specifically looking for flaws?  Or, more likely, by skeptics who are totally ignorant about what astrology actually is and have no desire to educate themselves?

Since, again, actual, objective scientists, using actual scientific method, repeatedly found validity in the practice.

Repeatedly.  As in, more than once.  As in, not an isolated incident.

As in, there are literally more tests and studies proving the validity of astrology than there are proving that it’s no better than chance.

Because of the studies that exist that claim to disprove astrology, a) I have a hell of a hard time finding the actual scientific studies themselves, published in the actual scientific journals, which immediately sends up red flags.  Any medical or scientific study that does not make its findings public screams “fraud” to me, but then again, I think Andrew Wakefield is a fraud, while a great number of people worship him as their cult leader, so what do I know?

B) They are made based on claims that don’t actually exist among professional astrologers (yeah, no astrologer can “predict your marital status at age 30” by using your birth chart, bro.  And none of the astrologers I’ve ever met have literally ever claimed to be able to do that.  What a shock that the study using that as their basis found no correlation), such as predicting the future or someone’s IQ, or whether they will die in an accidental death.  I mean, really?  Is that what all you skeptics think we believe?  Like for real?  You actually think that?

Wow, dude.

No seriously, show me where any astrologer claims to be able to determine your height from your birth chart.  That one, I’ve never even heard of.  But apparently some skeptics in India think that birth charts are supposed to do that.  What a shock, that study found no correlation, either.

There’s this one dude in Mumbai, named Raiyani, who tried to literally ban all public astrology practices.  He went to an event and issued a challenge.  These are his exact words:

“I said, you give me 12 predictions for every month-end about the movement of the Sensex, of inflation as per the price index, and the quantum of rain [in some of the main cities of India].”

He goes on to snidely say, “Predictably, no one responded.”

Uh, yeah, bro.  It’s not a damn weather service.  It’s not an economic guide.  It doesn’t show you how to game the Stock Market.  Those who are educated about astrology know this.  And we don’t pretend astrology can do what it can’t.

Also, c) astrologers will flat-out admit that astrology has limits, and will readily publish studies showing such limits (as opposed to the skeptical organizations in Belgium and France, who waited 8 and 14 years, respectively, to publish their positive results, because they didn’t like the answer they got).

Nona Press, an astrologer, gathered a few hundred birth charts from those who committed suicide in New York City between 1969-1973, and they found no significant correlation between suicide and astrology (which, to me, is common sense, but this was also 40-ish years ago, and apparently there were some people back then who thought astrology and suicide were somehow linked).  Quick, wanna guess how many years they waited to publish those results?  It wasn’t 14.  It wasn’t 8, either.

Oh, but astrologers are the biased, ignorant, close-minded ones.

Riiiiiight….

So um, the burden of proof is actually on the skeptics to show that those tests and studies are wrong.  Cuz as of right now, claiming that it’s complete bullshit is more extraordinary than claiming it has validity.  Since multiple people in France, Belgium, and the US already tried to prove one study wrong, and literally couldn’t.

Facts are hard, I know.

But no it’s cool. It’s totally cool to cite that paranormal challenge when you don’t know anything about it (you know, such as the fact that it’s been terminated).

Just like it’s totally cool to get all condescending about something you know literally nothing about.  And didn’t even bother reading the entire post, because your ignorance is just that important to you.

You wouldn’t happen to work for Trump, would you? If not, man, you missed your calling.

So I have a challenge for you (assuming, of course, you’re still reading this and didn’t stop after some random comment ten paragraphs ago.  I don’t have high hopes that you’re still with me, but we’ll see).  It’s the same challenge I’ve issued to every obnoxious skeptic who tries to get all condescending with me.  And just like your dear James Randi, no one has “won” my challenge.

In fact, while I’ve issued this challenge to literally every obnoxious skeptic who has given me shit for it (along with a few non-obnoxious skeptics, who have been respectful), only 3 people have ever taken me up on it, and one was Kazander.

Kazander was never obnoxious about his skepticism.  He was honest, direct, and polite, and that’s fine with me.  A few months ago, though, we were talking and I brought it up and he again reiterated that he thinks it’s bullshit.  So I issued the challenge, and because he is capable of changing his perspective when presented with conflicting information, he took me up on it, and discovered that he was wrong.

Interestingly enough, the other two who took me up on it didn’t fall under the “obnoxious skeptic” category, either.  It’s almost like those who jump to conclusions and feel the need to be condescending and put down other people are afraid that they’ll be proven wrong, because they cannot handle the world not fitting inside their precious little box.

Weird.

But as I was saying, only three people have ever taken me up on it.

Those three people are not skeptics anymore.

So here’s my challenge:  Tell me I’m wrong.

You want burden of proof?  M’kay then, I’ll prove it.

Give me the time, date, and location (city, state, county, country… or territory, whatever) of your birth.  Then give me a few days (these things are labor-intensive as fuck, I never do them for free, but I can be just a smidge spiteful – you know, it’s the Aquarius in me – and the chance to publicly show you up is more than worth the 10-15+ hours of my time it’ll take).

Give me that, and literally nothing else.  I don’t want to know anything else about you.  Then, when I’ve got your natal chart analyzed, tell me I’m wrong.  Tell me it’s not accurate af.

I’ll even post it here, so other people of different astrological signs can read it and weigh in.  That way you can’t cite the professor who handed out “individualized personality profiles” to his class, who scored it with an 80% accuracy, and then found out they all received the exact same thing (which, incidentally, was Gauquelin.  Does that name sound familiar?  It should, because he’s the dude who found the correlation in the positions of specific planets in celebrities.  He was in no way a believer of astrology, and he openly professed his skepticism.  He also openly professed that at least parts of it just cannot be explained by coincidence and random chance, and that there is validity to it).

If you’re a Cancer with Saturn and the Moon Dominant, chances are that there won’t be a hell of a lot in there that a Sagittarius with Mercury and Jupiter Dominant can relate to.

If you’re so sure it’s full of shit, you shouldn’t have a problem with that.  And if you’re so enlightened and educated, you shouldn’t have a problem admitting that you were wrong, and recognizing that being a judge-y douchebag probably isn’t the best way to navigate through life.

Oh and since you know everything you need to know about astrology, without having to read anything, do me a quick favor and calculate the ecliptical geocentric longitude on the eastern horizon at the time of your birth.  That’ll make things quicker for me, since I won’t have to do it for you.  It’ll help me out when I line up the Houses with Signs, and it’ll help me figure out your planetary chart ruler.

And just in case you don’t know how to calculate it, here’s the equation I use.  Just remember that you have to use sidereal time, not solar time, and that makes a big difference.  Since sidereal days are like 5 minutes longer than solar days.

{\displaystyle \lambda _{\rm {Asc}}=\arctan \left({\frac {-\cos \theta _{\rm {L}}}{\sin \theta _{\rm {L}}\cos \varepsilon +\tan \phi \sin \varepsilon }}\right)}

But it’s cool, if that intimidates you, or you don’t know how, or if you’re not familiar with the field of astronomy, I’m happy to do it for you.

You probably won’t take me up on it, though (remember, I’m like totally psychic.  I know these things).  No obnoxious skeptic ever does.  And because you choose to make condescending remarks without reading the rest of the post, because you cling to your ignorance and don’t bother reading what I wrote about it in the first place, anything you have to say outside of your birth info, I’m just not interested in hearing.

Good talk, though.

Why I believe in astrology

So I was talking with an old online acquaintance the other day, when I mentioned astrology.  His response was:

I just don’t get it.  You’re so wise and educated about everything else.  You aren’t swayed by popular opinion.  You always go for objective facts in every other subject.  But you buy into this astrology and Tarot thing, hook, line, and sinker.  Even though the facts and evidence are mounted against it.  Why?  On some level you must know it’s bullshit.  Why do you believe in it?

The short answer?  Because I’ve looked at the objective facts and have formed my own opinion, regardless of the popular consensus among other educated people.

I’m not going to get into Tarot here, that’s a whole separate thing, but yes, I do believe in astrology as a tool that, as long as one recognizes it for what it is, is extremely useful and quite effective at achieving a specific set of goals.

I’ll use the hammer reference that is so often used in debates regarding gun ownership in the US.  If you’re not from the US, and not familiar with the reference, it goes like this:

A hammer is a tool.  It is neither good nor bad.  It can be used to build a house for a homeless veteran, or it can be used to bash someone’s skull in.  The result of either scenario is not due to the hammer, but the person wielding it.

Astrology can use a somewhat similar metaphor.  Because it is a tool.  It is neither good nor bad.  It is neutral.  It can be used reasonably, by a reasonable person, for constructive purposes, and it can be used unreasonably, by an unreasonable person, for destructive purposes.

And for the record, the facts and evidence are not mounted against it.

*If you’re a skeptic, and you are polite and respectful of those who choose to believe in it, then cool.  Carry on.  What I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you.*

Most skeptics I’ve talked to actually know literally nothing about astrology, aside from reading the occasional newspaper horoscope or daily horoscope on some free website.  They have formed their opinion knowing literally nothing about it.

Which is just as bad as wholeheartedly supporting astrology, knowing literally nothing about it.

Honestly, I don’t care.  Your opinions are your opinions.  And I’d say most of the skeptics I’ve spoken to have been polite-ish and respectful-ish of my conscious decision to believe in the validity of the practice.  And those who have not been polite or respectful, I honestly just shrug off.

The kind of person who forms an opinion on something they know nothing about, and then gives me hell for having a different opinion, is not the kind of person I’m interested in debating with.

Because you can’t win that kind of debate.  Meaning you cannot convince a willfully ignorant individual to let go of his ignorance.  And usually, willfully ignorant individuals are extremely unwilling to let go of their ignorance, and therefore I don’t bother wasting my time trying to educate them.  I honestly just don’t care.

But again, for the record, there does not exist a mountain of empirical, concrete evidence disproving astrology.  There doesn’t even exist a moderately large hill of evidence disproving it.

Most people who do a ten-minute google search and promptly assume they are experts in the field will quote the 1985 study by Shawn Carlson, showing that astrology was no better than chance.  And then, believers of astrology will answer with Professor Suitbert Ertel’s 2009 reappraisal of the data collected in the study, and his conclusion that (in layman’s terms) Carlson is full of shit.

They’ll then follow with Vernon Clark’s 1961 study showing that astrologers could match and identify personality traits in individuals with a rate of accuracy that was significantly higher than chance.  Some may then go on to quote Michel Gauquelin, who studied a few thousand celebrities from Europe and the US, looking for correlations between the positions of planets at an individual’s birth, and any concrete effects it had on their lives, such as choice of profession and independent biographical descriptions.

He found statistical abnormalities in the positions of planets visible in the sky at the time and location of the individuals’ births, for example the position of Mars figured heavily in professional athletes, Jupiter in actors, Saturn in prominent scientists, and the Moon in well-known writers.

Three independent groups in Belgium, America, and France scrutinized his study, looking for errors, and ended up replicating his result.  Whether they used the same group he did, or completely different groups, those same statistical abnormalities were there.

So I mean, for every study out there proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that astrology is bullshit, there’s another one proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there’s validity to it.  There is no mountain of evidence on one side or the other.  Using any particular study as the sole basis for one’s opinion in this subject is illogical and inaccurate.

So here are my thoughts on it, taking out personal experience (which, as someone who did/does this for a living, is extensive af).

Okay, so there are three main fields that focus on all that fancy space shit: astronomy, astrophysics, and physical cosmology (you also have sects of cosmology that are more mythical/spiritual/religious/philosophical, etc.  I’m not talking about that here, because that’s not recognized as a legitimate science the way physical cosmology is.  But for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to just take out the “physical” and call it cosmology, and you all will understand that I’m talking exclusively about physical cosmology).

At its simplest, astronomy is the study of all the stuff you see in the sky right now (or with a telescope).  All the celestial bodies, stars, planets, all the objects out there.

Astrophysics is all about asking why, about discovering the processes that made the stuff we see in the sky, and why those things we see do the things they do.

Cosmology focuses on the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the Universe as a whole.  And in cosmology, there are three components that make up the Universe: radiation, matter, and dark energy.

Dark energy is pretty damn interesting, what we know of it, anyway, and the theories surrounding it range from really cool to really fucking bizarre.  All we know is that it is why the Universe is expanding at an accelerated rate.  The most common theory is that dark energy is an attribute of space itself, that space literally has its own form of energy, and the more the Universe expands, the more space comes into existence, the more dark energy is formed.  And the more dark energy is formed, the faster the Universe expands.

This means that dark energy permeates everything, interacts with everything, and has a pretty damn significant effect on the Universe, itself, and everything in it.  In fact, dark energy makes up the vast majority of the Universe, at about three quarters.

Cool, right?  Except we have no idea what it is, or, outside of pushing things away, what it does, and how it affects literally anything else.  And, as being about 75% of everything in the Universe, it’s reasonable to surmise that it does have some sort of effect.

One new theory is that dark energy governs time, the fourth dimension of the Universe (or spacetime, it’s really way more complicated than that, but we’ll call it time, this is already long enough).  Because, as fucking weird as it sounds, we cannot fully explain why time only moves in one direction.

Because the Universe (we think) operates according to the laws of physics.  I mean, as far as we can tell, that’s pretty constant.  But the interesting thing is that like, 99.99% of physics is completely time-reversible.  Meaning that it works regardless of the direction time moves.  To completely oversimplify it to a laughable degree, think of a planet orbiting a star.  Physics makes the planet orbit the star, and the only affect time has on the orbit is the direction.  Move time forward or backward, and the result is identical, aside from the direction of the orbit.  The past and future are symmetrical.

So if physics allows for time to move in any direction, why doesn’t time move in any direction?

There really isn’t a great answer for that.  The only real “explanation” is the second law of thermodynamics, which we also don’t fully understand.  It says that, as time moves forward, shit gets more complex and crazy.  This is, obviously, not time-reversible, and physicists reluctantly settle on it as the reason why the past and future are asymmetrical, and why time can only move in one direction.

It’s like a ruined orgasm, though.  It works, sorta, but it’s not satisfying, it’s just disappointing.

But dark energy could actually offer a more complete explanation.

So some really smart people with a metric fuckton of time on their hands decided to see if the second law of thermodynamics and dark energy could be related, because why the fuck not?

They created a little mini-Universe thing, consisting of a planet orbiting a star with a changing mass.  Super limited scope, but they didn’t even know if they’d find anything.

Well they found something.  If dark energy didn’t exist, the little planet just kept orbiting the star forever and ever, super boring.  And unchanged regardless of which direction time moves.  Run the simulation for billions of years, and the past and future are exactly the same.

But toss dark energy in the mix, and it pushes shit apart, which means that the planet would eventually be thrown out of the orbit, and go down a path it could never return from.

And obviously, this is not constant regardless of the direction time moves.  Move time forward, and the planet gets further away from the star.  Move it backward, and it gets closer.  The past and the future are now asymmetrical.  And because dark energy is always pushing things away, it requires that time only moves in one direction.  Time going backward would mean that dark energy is pulling things together, which is impossible (we think, we actually have no idea what dark energy is going to do in the future).

Dark energy must push things apart, and this only works if time is moving forward.  So dark energy, the thing that makes up the majority of the Universe, could literally govern the laws of time.

Now, this was one little experiment, with one little planet and one little star, so no one is getting too excited yet.  But it’s interesting to think about what other effects dark energy could have on the Universe.

But at the very least, even if it doesn’t affect anything, everything we experience from space passes through it.  Gravity, light, radiation, subatomic particles, literally everything.  It reaches everything, it touches everything.

So in that light, it’s reasonable to theorize that we could be literally and physically connected to the celestial bodies that figure prominently in astrology (as well as every other celestial body in the Universe).  Which means it’s reasonable to theorize that, to a miniscule degree, those celestial bodies and the energy they produce could possibly have a legitimate effect on us, particularly if they are visible to our part of the world at the time of our birth.

But that’s not the only thing.  There’s also dark matter, which is seriously fucking cool.

Here’s what we know about dark matter: if the laws of gravity are correct, it must exist.  We can’t see it, but we can see the effects it has on light around it.  It bends light around it, using gravity, but we obviously can’t see it the way we can see a black hole (which also bends light due to gravity).  We can also see stars orbiting around the outer edges of galaxies much faster than they should be able to.

We know that it doesn’t react with anything that we can see.  Just gravity.  So, while dark energy is pushing everything apart, dark matter is defying the laws of physics, holding things together in ways we can’t even begin to understand yet.

The most widely accepted theory is that it’s a massive particle that is just too light and too weak to interact with anything we can perceive and detect.  But if that’s the case, how is it holding normal matter (ie, planets, stars, galaxies) together even as force and dark energy are pulling them apart?

We can see that it’s clumped together throughout the Universe, and that in the very beginning of the Universe, it created a sort of scaffolding that influenced the location of normal matter as time went on.

Some theorize that it is evidence of extra dimensions, and suggest the existence of a “Hidden Valley,” an entire parallel Universe made up entirely of dark matter, existing right alongside us, completely imperceivable to us.

Some theorize that it connects everything, in one massive chain, to the literal center of the Universe, where the laws of physics, including gravity, originated.  It touches everything, permeates everything, connects everything.  That it is not limited by the fourth dimension, and harnesses the power and energy of the Big Bang, bringing it infinitely forward and backward through time, affecting everything it touches.

As wild as both these theories may seem, scientists literally cannot even come close to disproving them.  Not even remotely.  What’s more, we can’t even come up with a plausible reason why they couldn’t be true.  We just don’t know.

All we know is that it touches everything, and that it’s everywhere.  Just as dark energy is.  Billions of these particles (if they are particles) are passing through our bodies every second.

Dark matter and dark energy are these mysterious forces that simultaneously prove and defy the laws of physics, affect gravity and the energy holding us together, potentially govern time itself, and possibly hint at entire realities we could never hope to comprehend.

And I mean, this shit is real.  It is recognized science, these are widely known and accepted theories throughout multiple scientific fields.  And we have no idea how it affects us.

When you look at all that, and then take into account the radiation, light, particles, and literally everything else we’re exposed to every millisecond of every day, all the shit literally bombarding us from space, is it really that much of a stretch to think that the closest celestial bodies, the ones visible to the naked eye, just might have an effect on us?

To a point?

Cuz uh, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch.  You know, because science.

Our personalities are incredibly complex and multifaceted.  No, that can not all be explained by the positions of the planets and stars when you were born.  No, you will not find all the answers in astrology.  No, it is not infallible.  And your Sun sign is only one part of your astrology birth chart.  There’s a lot more to it.  So it’s not 100% accurate.  My parents, a Leo and a Capricorn, are sort proof of that (I say sort of because they stayed together until my dad died, but they definitely weren’t all that happy together).

Hell, I’m a walking example of it.  I’m an Aquarius, and do well with Capricorns.  Consecutive signs are never compatible.  Now, there are theories regarding Aquarius and Capricorn combinations, and why those specifically might do better than other combinations (one of the most popular is due to the planet rulers.  Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which represents discipline and structure, while Aquarius is ruled by Uranus, which represents rebellion and impulsiveness.  However, Aquarius is also co-ruled by Saturn, which may temper the Aquarius’ flightiness just enough, and give an Aquarius and Capricorn just enough that they can still relate to one another), but Aquarius and Capricorn should not work at all.  Aquarius is Air, Capricorn is Earth (Earth and Water go together, while Air and Fire go together).  Capricorn is negative (or feminine, or yin) while Aquarius is positive (or masculine, or yang).  And in this case, opposites don’t attract.  Negative goes with negative, positive goes with positive.  Capricorn is a Cardinal sign, while Aquarius is Fixed (Cardinal and Mutable go together, while Fixed signs usually do best with other Fixed signs).  Aquarius is flexible by nature, and considered to be the most “Mutable-ish” of the Fixed signs, but it’s still a Fixed sign.

It should not work.  At all.  Granted, it’s not the worst possible combination of the zodiac (that would be a tie between Aquarius and Cancer, and Aries and Scorpio), but it shouldn’t work.  Of course, I’ve got Virgo rising, which helps, but still.

It’s not infallible.  It’s not a science.

It’s a guide.  An eerily accurate guide to help people learn more about themselves, to inspire them to want to learn more about themselves, and reflect on who they are and how they relate to the people around them.  It encourages people to examine the way humans interact with one another, to examine what makes them who they are, and how to overcome their weaknesses.

And yeah, y’all.  It’s eerily accurate.  There are obviously exceptions to every rule, and Star Signs are only one part of our astrological chart (for example, my Sun sign is Aquarius, which makes me impulsive and insensitive, but I have Mercury conjunct Venus, which tempers that coldness with tact, politeness, and empathy due to an extraordinary ability to see and understand everyone’s point of view.  I also have every planet but one in Quadrant II, which makes me diplomatic and protective of those around me), but using astrology, we really can see clear, objective pictures of ourselves.  We can see our strengths and we can learn how to improve our weaknesses.

All I need is your birth date, and I have a pretty accurate idea of who you are.  Give me the time and place of your birth as well, and I know enough about you to truly creep you out and make you uncomfortable.

I did this for a living, y’all.  And I was damn good at it.  People would call me with relationship problems, I’d ask their birthday and their partner’s birthday, and before they could say another word, I could completely pick apart their relationship, telling them exactly what problems they were having, and why they were having those problems, and how to fix them.

Again, not infallible.  But I was right well over 90% of the time.

Still skeptical?  Alright, I’ll prove it.  Each sign has personality strengths, but those are easy and generalized, so I’ll do one better.  Just off the top of my head, here’s a list of common weaknesses for each sign, along with things each sign secretly worries about.  Scroll to your sign and tell me I’m wrong.

Aries:  Impulsive and quick to anger, and once you start, it’s hard to stop.  You’ll never shy away from a fight or an argument, even going as far as ending a relationship or friendship, but you often end up regretting it, and want those people back.  You pretend not to care, you pretend to be the strong, immovable one, but you can’t handle losing people.  The problem is that the regret and guilt set you off even more, which makes you even quicker to anger, and it’s a vicious cycle you don’t know how to stop.

Taurus: Stubborn to a fault, and impossible to reason with when angry.  You will push others away when angry, and won’t accept reconciliation.  You also tend to bottle things up, letting them build and build until you explode, and once that happens, you truly become a rampaging bull, and nothing and no one can stop you.  But deep down, you’re afraid that those you love just don’t want you around, or that they don’t love you the way you love them.  You’re steady, stable, and reliable, and put a great deal into your relationships.  But you worry that it won’t be reciprocated, and that instability is one of your biggest fears.

Gemini:  Argumentative and changeable, you’ll debate anything, anywhere, with anyone, but you don’t like being told you’re wrong, and can take it personally when someone doesn’t agree with you.  But deep down, you’ll adjust and change who you are to fit in with those around you, because being untrue to yourself isn’t as bad as being alone.  You’ll even take this as far as completely changing who you are around certain people.  You can’t handle boredom, and falling into a rut is something you truly dread.  Aquarius and Sagittarius are the signs most known for running when they feel trapped, but Gemini is right up there with them.  A dull routine will rot your soul.

Cancer:  Ruled by emotion, you can be pessimistic and insecure, and those emotions can become louder in your head than reason and rational thought.  But you try to hide it, because you think if others see that you’re upset, you’ll be disappointing them.  You pretend to be happy, taking care of everyone around you, neglecting yourself.  You never want people to think you’re too much trouble, and a fear of rejection or the unknown can keep you frozen in place.  You can also be spiteful, just as much as Scorpio.  The difference is that Scorpio has better control of their emotions, and is very deliberate in their vengeance, while you will lash out.  Even if you’re justified in lashing out, though, you’re generally gentler and kinder than Scorpio, and you’ll feel guilty afterward.

Leo: Not everything is about you.  You’re proud and have trust issues, and tend to blame yourself for everything, convincing yourself that you’re unlovable.  But you need to learn that you’re not the cause of every bad situation.  A bit on the melodramatic side, you work hard to cultivate a reputation as being the best, but this mindset that no one can do it as well as you can exhausts you.  You like being the leader, the protector, you like taking care of those you love, you take pride in taking care of those you love, but you don’t have to be perfect for people to love and admire you.  Everyone needs a break once in awhile, and you’re no exception.

Virgo:  As long as everything goes your way, you’re totally flexible.  You’re a perfectionist, and when people see you, they see someone who has their shit together.  Underneath, though, you’re less sure of yourself.  You have extremely high expectations of yourself, and worry that you won’t be able to live up to it.  You put an immense amount of pressure on yourself, and all that constant pressure makes it hard for you to stay positive, and you can get overwhelmed easily.  Spending time alone means getting lost in your head with a mind who looks at you and sees someone who can’t measure up to those high expectations.  So you avoid being alone if you can, because your mind doesn’t stop, it doesn’t have an off button.

Libra:  You need balance in your life.  Confrontation and anything that throws off that balance is something you avoid.  Often, you’ll outright lie to avoid an argument, and pretend everything is fine.  You’ll be untrue to yourself before causing any perceived stress to those you love.  Letting down those you love is the worst feeling in the world, and you’ll do anything to avoid it. But sometimes, making the right decision is hard.  You can become frozen when presented with a hard choice, spending more time analyzing what you should do, than actually doing it.  Your analytic mind can be difficult to turn off, and you fear making the wrong decision, particularly in love.

Scorpio:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone knows that Scorpios are the darkest sign, the most vengeful and spiteful, the ones who will use that stinger without hesitation when threatened.  This is not news (perhaps the fact that more serial killers are born under the sign of Scorpio is news, but I’d bet money that not a single Scorpio is surprised by that).  But what most people don’t realize is that all that venom hides arguably the most sensitive heart of the zodiac. Unique among water signs in that, while you’re ruled by your emotions, you have incredible control over them and will hide, not letting anyone get close, and using that stinger to push them away.  You don’t trust easily, and you don’t trust many, and allowing people to see that vulnerability means giving them the power to hurt you, and that terrifies you.  As loving and sensitive as you are, you crave that fulfilling relationship with someone you love and trust.  But the problem is that you’re so afraid of being betrayed, you’re so afraid of losing who you are, you’ll just instinctively push people away.  You’re worried that this habit will keep you from ever finding that kind of love, but you don’t know how to fix it.

Sagittarius:  So commitment is a thing.  Also, emotion regulation is a thing.  You are intimately familiar with neither of these things.  Explosive and impulsive, you’re pretty open and wear your passions, rather than your emotions, on your sleeve.  Because of your openness, it’s really no big secret that your biggest weakness/fear is commitment.  It’s not that you’re unfaithful, though.  You’re the archer, and a centaur, and you embody both the horse and the hunter.  Wild horses can’t be tamed, and hunters need room to roam.  Being pinned down, losing your passions, losing who you are, is scary.  But what fewer people know is that your openness and your generosity lend to a forgiving nature that can often be taken advantage of.  You wonder if people will ever appreciate you, or if they’ll just continue using you.

Capricorn:  Everyone knows that Capricorns harbor a fear of failure, that’s pretty well obvious in the sign most widely associated with workaholics and ambitious climbers of the career ladder.  But there’s a whole different side that no one knows about, because you’ll do anything to avoid showing them.  Judgmental, condescending, and antisocial, this is easily the most misunderstood sign of the zodiac, because you don’t make it easy for people to get to know you at basically any level.  Stoic and steady is good, but there’s such thing as too much of a good thing, and you tend to not have a lot of deep connections with people.  But while your poker face is convincing, it’s still just a poker face, and you feel deeply and passionately, and can get lonely and moody.  But a fear of rejection, judgement, and abandonment keeps you from reaching out.  The goat never gets tired on the way to the top, and can handle immense amounts of stress, so you’d rather deal with it alone than risk being hurt.  Just as fiercely protective of those you love as any Leo, you have a habit of taking that too far, thinking you can protect everyone you love from everything bad in the world.  You’ll do anything to avoid putting a burden on the people around you, and feel guilty if you think you have.  You think you’re doing the people around you favors by keeping your struggles and your pain to yourself, and you don’t realize you’re pushing them away.  Because of all this, you worry that you’ll always feel isolated, but you don’t know how to fix it.

Aquarius: Oh dude, so many.  We all know about the fear of, and disdain for conformity, and the lengths to which you’ll go to break free of it.  There are even Aquarians who deliberately buck against the expected Aquarian attitude, just because they hate being put in a box.  But you’re pretty good at disguising your true self, so people don’t often know the rest.  You’re often cocky and overconfident, elitist, and unapproachable.  Impulsive and creative, you have great ideas and can create extremely specific plans, but get bogged down in the details, and then get bored, and then move on to something else.  You can’t finish a sandwich.  You actually enjoy being alone, one of the most comfortable signs with getting lost in your own head, so that combined with your detached and aloof attitude makes people feel like you don’t want them around or don’t care about them.  Also, emotions are things.  Like, they actually exist.  Maybe show them once in awhile.  You’re the master at hiding what you’re feeling, even better than Capricorn, Cancer, and (the most widely recognized master of hiding) Scorpio.  But there’s a reason for that.  Capricorn is Earth, and Cancer and Scorpio are Water.  They have better relationships with their emotions than you do.  Emotion is your biggest, most far-reaching weakness.  Your defense mechanism when you can’t handle emotion is to lock it up and pull away, but while this allows you to function, and you’re arguably the best sign in a crisis, able to stay calm and think quickly and creatively, it’s a double-edged sword, because you worry that you don’t actually feel emotion the way people are supposed to.  You’re so used to burying it, you feel like it’s muffled and muted compared to everyone else.  You wonder if you’ll ever feel emotion the way people are supposed to.

Pisces:  You need to be reassured in a relationship.  Extremely sensitive and tender-hearted, you put everything you are into a relationship.  But an avoidance of confrontation, combined with that sensitivity, means that it’s easy for people to take advantage of you.  You’re very self aware, so you likely know when it’s happening, but fear of confrontation and losing those you love will keep you silent.  You’re notorious for daydreaming, creating elaborate alternate realities in your head when you’re struggling with the world around you.  That self-awareness has limits, though, and you’ll often deliberately delude yourself into thinking everything is just fine, rather than dealing with the truth, because dealing with the truth is stressful, and you’d rather be taken advantage of than be alone.

So yeah, there’s validity to this shit.  It’s not all bullshit.  And I’m not going to discount something based on the opinions of people who know nothing about it.  They think that believers of astrology look at it as a science, when it’s not.  They think that believers of astrology worship it like a religion, when they don’t.

Astrology speaks to us.  It gives us a window into who we are.

At its core, that’s all astrology is.  It’s not a science or a religion.  It’s a language.  Its purpose is to communicate.  It’s up to us whether we want to hear the message, and what we do with it.

This is just not my month.

So I have apparently pissed God the fuck off.

And He’s not the least bit shy about letting me know it.

M’kay, so I might have mentioned that I’ve been fighting a cold.  Well, it’s more like a gazillion colds, over the course of like three months.

Routine bloodwork in October showed an elevated white blood cell count.  No big deal, but my doctor decided to check again in December.  And it was still elevated.

Still no big deal, he gave me some antibiotics to combat the infection and we called it a day.

Except the antibiotics had no effect on my symptoms, and I was just constantly sick.

So he ordered more bloodwork earlier this month, and I had the follow-up was yesterday.  And my white blood cell count is still elevated.

M’kay, now it’s kind of a big deal.

He said, “Alright, one of two things is happening.  The first is that you’ve got a really persistent infection.  So I’m going to prescribe one hell of a strong antibiotic, and you’re going to take it for ten days.  I’m telling you now, it’s going to suck.  This will kill pretty much every living organism in your body.  Even all the good bacteria in your digestive and reproductive systems.  So you’re going to feel pretty shitty for awhile.  Nausea, diarrhea, cramping, headaches, gas, bloating, loss of appetite, oh and you’re female, so it’s going to fuck all that shit up, too, so there’s the possibility of yeast infections, aren’t you lucky, some more nausea, it’ll be great.  You’ll have fun.”

Well fanfuckingtastic.

And why is he, a man who is usually pretty much against prescribing any kind of medication, prescribing this satanic fucking drug?

Why am I taking this satanic fucking drug, that will likely make the next 9 days a living hell?

I’m glad you asked, imaginary other half of this conversation.

Because after the ten-day course, he’s going to give my body about two weeks to recover from that shit, and get back to “normal,” and then he’s going to check my white blood cell count again.  If it’s still high, there’s something else going on.

So as it turns out, there are like 200+ separate viruses that cause what we call “the cold.”  And, as it turns out, the viruses themselves don’t actually cause the symptoms.  They’re actually relatively harmless.  But our immune system detects the virus and freaks the fuck out and goes into overdrive, which causes the congestion, coughing, sinus pressure, headaches, fatigue, achiness, all that fun shit.

The interesting thing is that, once a particular virus is eradicated, the body builds up an immunity to it, and the next time your immune system detects it, there are no symptoms.  Your body knows the drill.

Which would be cool, if there weren’t over 200 different specific viruses that cause it (with more constantly evolving and showing up) so there’s no way we can ever build up immunity to all of them.  So every time we’re exposed to a new virus, our immune system fucks shit up.

I’ve got cold symptoms, with an elevated white blood cell count.  An elevated white blood cell count is *usually* a sign of infection (hence the antibiotics), and the cold symptoms are a sign of my immune system fucking shit up.

However, if it’s not an infection, if it’s not my body reacting to some foreign thing, then that means my body is producing too many white blood cells.  It also means that those white blood cells are fucked up and unable to function properly, which is why my immune system is fucking shit up for like 3 months straight.

Oh and I’ve also had some very persistent joint pain in really random places in the last few months, like my freaking elbow, with no discernible cause.

What could cause all that, you ask?

Not a lot, as it turns out.

There are a couple of possibilities, but with me being in otherwise perfect health, those possibilities are pretty damn remote.

So not a lot.

Really only one thing.

And that one thing would be leukemia.

…yay…..

So I’m working on not freaking out.  It may not be leukemia.  It may just be a series of drug-resistant superbugs that just happened to hit me one right after the other, without affecting either of the other people who live in the house, or any of the inlaws that I’m often in direct contact with, or my chemo patient, immune-suppressed mom, who I spent 8 hours a day in a small room with (although I made a point not to get close to her or touch her), or Steel, who I spent about ten hours with (and yeah, I didn’t make a point not to get close to him or touch him).

The more you think about it, the less likely it sounds.  But it’s still possible.  I’m an optimist, after all.

Of course, while I am an optimist, I’m also not an idiot.  I know what the chances are of the test going the way I want it to.  And I’m working on preparing for that.  I’ve got to figure out the ins and outs of my insurance, what kind of specialists and resources are in the area, all that fun stuff.  I’m not going to be blindsided by some bullshit.

Other than that, there’s really nothing to do but wait, and work on not freaking out.  I’ve got 20 days until the next blood test, and then a day or two after that to find out the results.  Just have to be patient.

And not freak out.

But you know, I don’t give a fuck what any doctors or tests or statistics say.  I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.  I’m going to live to be 118 and I’m going to achieve my lifelong dream of stealing a watermelon from a grocery store.

I’m actually serious about that, by the way.  The one thing that’s at the very top of my bucket list is to steal a watermelon.

Allow me to set the scene.  I’m… I don’t know, 75?  80?  Old enough that people look at me and say, “she’s an old lady.”  Wrinkles, white hair, sagging boobs, all that jazz.  I do my little old lady shuffle into a grocery store, wearing something ridiculous and conspicuous, like a neon pink mumu, bedroom slippers, and a shower cap or something.  I don’t know.  Something ridiculous.  I shuffle into the produce department, pick up a full-sized watermelon, and walk out.

An employee will invariably see me and stop me, and tell me I can’t just take the watermelon, I have to pay for it.  And I’ll look at the employee with a completely straight face and say something like, “Andrew?  My goodness, you’ve gotten so big!  Where’s your mother?  I brought this watermelon for the picnic, I know she likes peaches better, but your uncle Dave always gets in a tizzy if there’s no watermelon.  When did you dye your hair?  Are you still playing the banjo?”

And the employee will feel so bad, and so awkward, that he’ll just let me go.  And I will have succeeded in stealing a watermelon from a grocery store.

Sounder pointed out that it’s possible, even with the conspicuousness of something as large and random as a watermelon, that I won’t get stopped.  And if that’s the case, then I’ll just put the watermelon in my car and go back in for another one.  Rinse and repeat, until I’ve either taken all their watermelons, or someone stops me.

And then I’m going to take all my watermelons to a bowling alley, carry one in, and attempt to roll it down a lane.  Again, rinse and repeat.  They won’t get very far, of course, and I won’t be rough, so they don’t bust open and make a huge mess.  But I want to see how many watermelons I can roll down a bowling lane before someone stops me.

Why?  Because you can get away with shit like that when you’re old.  And fucking with young people is going to be the best part of my day.

Oh, and I told Sounder I want to go to the mall with him, when we’re not quite as old as 75 or 80, but close.  We’ll separate and find two nice-looking young people, like in the food court, but on opposite sides of the food court so we can see each other, but the young people won’t notice.

I’ll hand my cell phone to the young person and say, “I’m sorry, dearie.  I’ve got such bad arthritis.  Would you be willing to text my boyfriend for me, if I tell you what to say?”

The young person will say sure, because she’ll think it’s just so cute that a little old lady has a boyfriend, and she’ll take my phone to text what I tell her.

And then I’ll say, “You filthy rat-bastard, you gave me crabs!  I had to shave off my landing strip!”

Her reaction will be priceless.

So she’ll text it (I keep envisioning a girl), and across the room, Sounder’s phone will go off and he’ll approach another young person and say, “I’m so sorry to bother you, I can’t see very well.  My girlfriend, the love of my life, just sent me a text.  Would you be willing to read it to me?  I can’t really work those buttons, either.  You know, old fingers.  Could I bother you to reply, as well?”

The young person will think it’s so romantic that old people are in love, so she’ll say, “Sure,” and take his phone to read the text message out loud to him.

Her reaction will be priceless.

He’ll ask her to type his reply, and he’ll say, “That’s what happens to cheating skanks.  It’s karma, bitch.”

So my phone will go off, and my young person will read it, and I’ll reply with, “Well it was your idea to get that prostitute in Mexico in the first place!  It’s not my fault I have an insatiable sex drive!  Oh, honey, it’s ‘insatiable,’ …s…a..t…i… there you go.  Mad face emoji.  Thank you so much, dearie, you’re such an angel.”

So his phone will go off, and his young person will read it out loud, and we’ll just go back and forth until the young people are just too hysterical to type anymore.

Also, did you know they’re not teaching kids how to read and write in cursive anymore?  People are seriously pissed off about this, but dude, I’m fucking stoked.  Just imagine it.  I’ll be in a nursing home one day, and I’ll coordinate all kinds of shenanigans, and we’ll communicate in notes written in cursive, and none of the young people working there will have a clue what we’re saying.

And dude, there will be so many shenanigans.  I’m thinking a random flash mob in the cafeteria at 3 in the morning, I’m thinking every single resident hiding all of their left shoes, I’m thinking everyone speaks in pig latin for a day (you’d be surprised how few younger people know it, even now.  It’s a dying language, and that makes the linguistic anthropologist in me sad.  But it makes the psycho rebel in me happy because that means none of the young people at the nursing home will be able to understand a damn word we say).  I’m thinking everyone whose name starts with a consonant dyes their hair blue, and then the next day everyone whose name starts with a vowel dyes their hair green (it’s not like we need to look professional for jobs or anything, why the fuck not?).

Oooh, or spending an entire day speaking in nothing but “oldies” song titles (since our music will be oldies then), and then correct the staff when they say anything.  Like, “I need you to sit down now, please.”

And I’ll respond with, “Sit down, stand up!  We can wipe you out anytime!”

Or loudly argue with another resident about what we’re going to watch on the TV in the main community room area.  He’ll want to watch BBC and interracial, and I’ll want to watch gangbangs and double penetration.

Alright I need to stop, because I’m just going to keep thinking up fucking awesome ideas, and this’ll end up being like 8,000 words.

The point is I cannot wait to be old, and I’m not about to let some bullshit fuck that up for me.

Again, it’s still possible that it’s just a really, really bad cold.  That’s what I’m hoping for.

But regardless, if it’s leukemia, I’ll just deal with it.  That’s all it is.  Some bullshit to deal with.

My dad had stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was straight-up cured.  He did the chemo, did all the treatments, and lived for like 10-ish years after that, and it never came back.  He died of completely unrelated shit.

A shit ton of my relatives have had different types of cancer and were cured after chemo and/or whatever other treatments.  It’s some bullshit I’ll deal with, and then I’ll move on.

And on the bright side, I’ve taken four doses of the antibiotic so far, and the side effects have actually been really mild.  Just some minor cramping and nausea off and on throughout the day.  Totally manageable.  So hopefully I’ll be able to avoid at least most of the crap my doctor described.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.