That Age

Sometimes the universe decides to remind me that I have reached the age of practicality.  It does this in sneaky ways as opposed to slapping me in the face with it…  Things I never thought would happen.

For instance, in May I bought clothes hampers with lids.  It may not sound like a big deal but I was terribly excited when they arrived.  And it has cut down some on the dirty sock smell that emanates from the hamper from time to time.

Several of my towels have gone missing.  Possibly sacrificed to the Dryer Monster because I don’t have a lot of towels that aren’t as old as my youngest nephew.  Towels are just something I don’t think to buy.  Towel sets were on my wedding registry, more as a filler than anything, but I got two sets and I love those towels.

This month, when I realized we actually did need towels, I broke down and bought 3 sets.  I’m not exactly a cheapskate, but there are limits on what I will spend on towels, even if it’s a matching set that includes washrags and hand towels.  I found the brand that we had received from our wedding registry and forked over the money for 3 sets.  It was less than $100 so it was okay… a few days later, 6 new towels, 6 new hand towels and 12 new wash rags showed up on my doorstep because I love online shopping… I was excited about their arrival.

I used to get excited about new books, new movies, concert tickets, those sorts of things and now I get excited when I get new hampers and new towels.  Like I said, it isn’t a huge slap in the face, but it is a reminder that I have either reached that age or am getting very close to it.  I mentioned this to a friend this month and she giggled and told me I used to make fun of her for that sort of stuff.  She’s right I did… but she had children young and I think children speeds along “that age”.

Even comparing today to five years ago, I see the difference.  I am more aware of my public appearance, which is why I’m annoyed that I am losing weight, because I’m no longer okay with wearing clothing out in public that looks like I borrowed it from my husband’s closet.  I still wear my ripped jeans, but now I usually put a pair of leggings under them, which takes them from grunge to grunge chic.   and instead of sporting a NIN T-shirt with them, I usually wear a blouse.  I rarely wear T-Shirts anymore which is good because I only have maybe 5 of them.

The change was gradual and I don’t know when it started, but here I am, excited about towels and clothes hampers…

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Losing Weight

I have lost a little over 30 pounds since March.  I have dropped a clothing size as a result.  Losing weight is inconvenient.  I don’t know if it affects men the same way as women, but there is a psychological aspect to losing weight…

At first, I didn’t notice it, not really.  My pants were a little loser and then my pants started requiring help staying up.  You know that dream where you are standing in front of a room full of people in your underwear that everyone talks about?  I don’t buy the whole “fear of public speaking” aspect of the dream, I think it was probably had by someone losing weight.

You shouldn’t lose more than 3 or 4 pounds a week or 12-16 pounds a month for health reasons.  The reason I think that dream is about losing weight is because as I lose weight, I have had some incidents of jerking up my pants out in public before they revealed the downstairs lady bits.

This month, I realized that my size 18 jeans have to go.  I have 2 pair left.  They are older pairs of jeans that have been washed a thousand times or so.  I have already bought 3 pairs of size 16 jeans when I realized in June that I couldn’t put it off any longer.  However, over the 4th of July weekend, I wore a pair of my 18s to the store.  As I was walking around I realized two things were happening: my underwear had mostly fallen down into my jeans and my jeans were falling off.

With my metal allergy, I have to be very careful about belts.  The backs of the rivets on my jeans can break me out in a rash, a belt buckle can do the same and they just don’t make belts with plastic buckles.  And I probably wouldn’t wear them if they did because I wouldn’t like the look of the plastic buckle.  (I just gave someone an idea to help them get rich… metal is a common allergy and people with metal allergies usually have to avoid metal in their clothing, plastic belt buckles would be a god send as long as they didn’t look cheap).

So hands firmly grasping my jeans, I rushed my husband through the store because once the jeans start to fall down, it’s hard to stop them.  The store we were at sold jeans and I considered buying a new pair, but I refuse to pay $50 for a pair of jeans.

I mentioned there was a psychological aspect.  I hate to clothes shop.  But clothes aren’t something I can just randomly buy.  My bits don’t measure out evenly.  Every year I buy a two piece bathing suit and new cover ups.  I buy the two piece even though I shouldn’t wear it in public with my poochy belly because one piece swim suits come in two sizes for me: fits my bottom half but the top half is struggling to stay covered or fits my top half, but under the right conditions I will be flashing everyone later because the bottom half is very saggy and ill fitting.

Anyway, because I hate to shop, I’m not a clothes horse.  I don’t have a closet full of clothing.  My shirts have become billowy and hang oddly because they are now the wrong size.  My jeans are falling off when I walk, and my underwear are falling down into my jeans as the day wears on.  This is psychological torture, just FYI.  Because it isn’t comfortable to have your underwear falling off into your jeans or pants as you walk and some clothing shows when that happens and sometimes you flash more butt than you expect with ill fitting underwear.

When you have this problem, you start to think about it, a lot.  Is my shirt long enough in case my underwear falls down since almost all jeans these days are hip huggers or low rider jeans?  Two of the pairs of 16s I bought in May and June are high waisted, but when I bought my 18s years ago, high waisted jeans had been made obsolete because mom jeans weren’t popular.  It usually comes across as an insecurity, but it’s hard to think of anything else when you are worried you are going to be flashing your butt crack to the world because your underwear fell down into your jeans.  And here’s the deal, large billowy shirts aren’t the answer.  They basically look like you don’t know how to buy shirts and since you didn’t get shorter, a billowy shirt isn’t necessarily long enough to cover your butt crack in the event you flash it because your underwear decided to try migrating down.

This means I have three pairs of jeans and one pair of shorts that I don’t have to worry about falling off while I walk.  I have about five shirts that are the correct size, two of them new because I got tired of people asking me why I was wearing a maternity shirt.  I have an upper abdomen paunch which is mostly air.  It’s round like a basketball and hard as a rock.  This seems to be a shape deformity that is genetic.  My father has the same problem although his is significantly worse than mine.  Shirts that are too big actually hang from that upper paunch and they do look like maternity clothing.  I see it in the mirror all the time.  Unfortunately, we haven’t perfected deflating people yet, although I did offer to be a guinea pig for any methods they could think of.

It also means that I need to buy new underwear because I only have three pairs or so that don’t fall off me.  For women, wearing ill fitting clothing is psychological.  We are very aware of it.  Several years ago, my mother lost a large amount of weight and she had the same problem, she didn’t feel comfortable going out in public in her clothing because it didn’t fit right.  I think this is worse for women than for men.  But I could be wrong.

Clothing is dreadfully expensive.  I hate shelling out the money for it.  My husband occasionally comments because I buy LuLaRoe.  But $35 for a blouse is about what I would pay anywhere.  T-shirts I can usually pick up a little cheaper, but not blouses.  Oh and undergarments can be more expensive than shirts.  Places like Walmart and Kmart and Target don’t carry my bra size.  Victoria’s Secret doesn’t either.  Even Lane Bryant doesn’t carry my cup size all the time.  I have had to have them special order them for me, but that gets time consuming (go to the store, get measured twice because the associate doesn’t believe you when you tell them the size, then stand there while they fiddle in their computer to pull up that size in something, then wait a week or two for it to come in, then go to the store to pick it up).  Just dreadful… I swear it’s a form of psychological warfare most of the time.

Not That

I hate to admit I have struggled with my mental state in the last year.  It didn’t help that the shrink I saw told me it was okay to mope, whine, and be depressed, or even have a good cry.  I was told these things would help me work through my depression.

It didn’t do much for me.  Long before my laming (I don’t have a clue what to call this), my family experienced something we never thought we’d experience.  I won’t get into the details much because it isn’t pretty and we’ve kept the family out of it.  It isn’t my immediate family, but my extended family, however family is family.

I find it bizarre and it doesn’t make much sense to me, but so few things in this world actually make sense.

The point is, sometimes I have to remind myself that I am not a bowl of petunias that have suddenly sprang into existence 300 feet above the surface of a planet and gravity is providing a demonstration of how it works.

I can also claim that in the event of an emergency, like someone deciding to build a hyperspace byway, I have a nice towel handy.

Life is about the little things after all.  All I can say, is Don’t Panic…  I am reminding myself of this every couple of days.  Jude the Great Nephew turns 2 this month.  I ordered his gift the other day which gave me a few minutes of happiness.  And my mother came up with a solution to get myself a child’s toy, because we didn’t have cool toys like that when I was a child and I enjoy doing things with Jude, but feel I have failed lately due to my obsession with my own problems.

But there’s no reason to sulk, because at least I’m not a bowl of petunias.  There is always that…

It’s Haunted

If you were online in the mid-2000s, someone you know probably sent you an eBay link for a haunted wine box… Because let’s face it, when an eBay seller has Haunted in the title an description, you have to show it to someone.

The haunted box eventually ended up in the state of Missouri, about an hour north of where I live and the wine box turned out to be not so much haunted as home to a demon and thus the story of the Dybbuk Box began.  There’s a movie.  There’s a book.  There’s interviews on a TV show (I don’t remember which show) about the box and it’s owner who agrees that something nefarious is going on with the box.

With the success of the Dybbuk Box which sold for a couple of thousands of dollars, if I remember correctly, other haunted items have shown up on eBay.  Specifically dolls.  For some reason there are a lot of haunted dolls.  Usually they look like dolls that should be haunted.

Not surprisingly, there is a psychology behind this.  First, we buy haunted things because we are naturally drawn to the items due to our curiosity.  Oddly, a number of ghost skeptics have admitted they want to be proven wrong about the existence of ghosts.  The Dybbuk Box was actually an anomaly.  Haunted or not, people are less inclined to believe something like a wine box could house a spirit.

We are far more inclined to believe dolls are haunted.  For the most part, old dolls creep us out.  The older the doll, the more likely it is that we will find it creepy.  In other words, today my 30 year old cabbage patch doll isn’t projecting a sense that it is creepy.  Most us remember the cabbage patch rage and even though it is old, it is also commercially produced and it was trendy in recent history.  In 70 years, my Cabbage Patch doll from the 1980s will most likely be creepy.

The psychology of it, goes beyond just “dolls are creepy.”  When we buy the item with the label “Haunted” we set our selves up to be haunted, even if it’s just in our imagination.  For instance, we have an Echo Dot.  On Saturday night, I jumped from bed at 2 am to check on Lola.  I would have sworn I heard Lola whining.  I get into the office where the echo dot lives and where Lola usually sleeps on the futon, to find Alexa telling a knock knock joke… At 2 am.  To my dog.

We had guests from out of town Saturday staying at our house.  Five adult human beings and two dogs.  There is no telling what Alexa thought she heard.  I was the only person awake, but it’s possible she heard one of the dogs or one of the people talking in their sleep or snoring and mistook it for a command.  On Friday, I was messing around with the echo dot and the last command I gave it was tell me a knock knock joke.  I do this to expand my catalog of Knock Knock jokes to tell to Jude the Great Nephew.  So, Alexa at 2 am on Saturday, basically repeated the last command I had given her, the day before.  If I were less rational, my first instinct was not “an unseen presence commanded Alexa to tell a knock knock joke” but it could have been.  I figure Lola who occasionally tosses and turns, probably hit the echo dot with her foot jarring the power cord which resulted in the repeated command.

But it isn’t hard to see how one could imagine the house haunted simply from Alexa’s late night forays into telling jokes and giving empty rooms baseball scores.  Because these and playing the song Hey Jude for Jude are pretty much the extent of my echo dot usage.  I feel I got distracted.  The point was, that our expectations of being haunted appear to play a role in whether we are haunted or not.

It’s not limited to dolls and echo dots either.  If we buy a house with the expectation it is haunted, then we are more likely to experience incidents we attribute to paranormal activity.  A creaky floorboard suddenly proves to us that the haunted house is haunted when it might in fact be that the humidity has changed thereby causing an expansion or contraction of the board which made it squeak in the middle of the night, when humidity as well as temperature is prone to extreme fluctuations.

Essentially, we know that expectations contribute to things like hauntings, which is why buying anything listed as haunted is more likely to be haunted.

Of course, from my personal experiences, I can say there are still things that go bump in the night and that expectations do not account for all hauntings.

Next by Michael Crichton

I grabbed the novel Next by Michael Crichton.  I haven’t read everything he’s put out, but I have read several of his books and enjoyed them immensely.

Next has been a bit of a struggle.  I understand DNA beyond just basic concepts.  I also understand bioengineering to some degree.  I try to stay abreast of it because I feel like I should be informed about things that are eventually going to affect my life.  And these two things are going to shape the future more than most people want to admit.

Next is about bioengineering DNA, much like Jurassic Park was.  And while I am used to the many characters and threads in Crichton’s books, I am struggling to remember who connects to what thread of the story and how it all weaves together.  I was going to listen to this on audiobook but I can’t imagine it would be any easier to for me to cobble together…

I am working on Ritual Dreams here and there.  This month has been a struggle.

 

#United2026

If you watch World Cup you know this hashtag as the bid put in by the US, Mexico, and Canada to host the World Cup in 2026.  Which was won by the Us, Mexico, and Canada.

It stands for United North America, and is perhaps the weirdest thing ever.  First off, the three countries that make up North America couldn’t be more divided right now.  The US stance on immigration and trade have really screwed things up.  We have put up tariffs to supposedly protect American goods against everyone, including Canada and that has lead to some economic conflicts with our neighbor to the north.  And the Zero Tolerance policy on immigration is kind of terrifying and mostly affects Central American and Mexican immigrants trying to enter the US thereby straining the relationship between the US and Mexico and the talk of a border wall just makes things worse.

In other words the three countries involved in hosting the 2026 World Cup are not getting along real great.  It has already been announced that Mexico will host the finals.  Canada and the US will host the group play.  Meaning Mexico will host 8 matches or so.

Talk about spreading out the matches.  Canada and the US are huge countries.  If you lopped off Russia all of Europe would fit within the borders of the US.  Canada and Mexico have provinces bigger than most European countries and the US has states that are geographically bigger than most European countries.  For instance, all of the UK will fit within the state of Missouri, where I live.  And there is talk of my state holding some of the group play matches because Arrowhead Stadium where the KC Chiefs play American Football is also used to play Major League Soccer (KC Sporting uses the stadium) and it holds around 75,000 people.  It has also undergone massive renovations in the last ten years making it a nice stadium.

However, Missouri isn’t exactly close to either Canada or Mexico.  I live six and a half to seven hours away from Chicago, Illinois which is the closest major city with international recognition… Although while in Germany I did meet a waiter in an Italian restaurant that knew where Missouri was.  Much like Russia, fans aren’t going to be renting cars to go from stadium to stadium, they are going to be hopping on planes.

Plus there is the added thing of in World Cup the host country gets a free pass into the tournament.  How will that work with 3 host countries, two of whom, the US and Canada do not make it into World Cup consistently?  With a little luck, by 2026 the three countries will be back to playing nicely in the North American Sandbox…

Sometimes, It’s Good To Hate The Author

I listened to Under the Dome by Stephen King and remembered that sometimes, I kinda hate him.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it means he is doing his job very well.  I like character driven stories.  Don’t get me wrong, all stories need a good plot, but I have to connect to characters to stay interested…

I think that’s why I don’t enjoy reading Dean Koontz or Jim Butcher.  I can listen to their work in audio format, but I can’t stay interested when I have to read it.  I have always wondered why I can listen, but not read them and listening to Under the Dome finally gave me the answer.

I like Harry Dresden, but I like him the same way I like the characters of a TV show.  I’m not truly vested in what happens to him when I read.  Unlike an audiobook where a narrator gives him a voice and ta-da, I stay vested in his character.  Same applies to every character of Dean Koontz.  I really liked the Odd Thomas series, but I couldn’t get through the first 100 pages of the book, had no problems with the audiobook though.

This is where Stephen King and Clive Barker appeal to me… When they want me to hate a character, I really hate them.  Listening to the rape scene of Sammy Bushey in Under the Dome made me think “If these characters do not die, painfully, I will never pick up another book by King again.”

I’m happy to report, Under the Dome did not disappoint.  I didn’t like the TV show.  Made it through two episodes, but sometimes a book just doesn’t translate to TV or movie.  Considering all the dark themes that flowed through Under the Dome, I can’t imagine the show was much like the book and what would have been forced onto the cutting room floor are the parts that make King’s work scary.  For instance, I read The Shining about a decade before I watched the Kubrick version of it.  One of the things that scared the crap out of me from the book was the topiary.  It sounds absurd, but that damn topiary was like the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who… yet for the sake of making the film shorter, Kubrick cut most of the topiary scenes from the movie… Totally sad.  It is one of the big reasons I prefer the Stephen Webber TV miniseries version of The Shining instead.

I admit there were times in Under the Dome that I was actually a little annoyed that the characters that needed to get what they had coming weren’t.  Like the main bad guy… all that crap about his arm hurting, the doctor having a heart attack, I could have sworn it was foreshadowing and then it didn’t.  He didn’t get away with it, but much like Anna Karenina, if he’d just died the first time his arm started to hurt, some of the frustration could have been avoided… But then the plot of the book would have also disappeared to some degree, so I get it, but I was still a little ticked about it.

At which point, it was perfectly okay for me to hate Stephen King just a little bit.  He did his job and did it well once again reminding me why I consider him a masterful writer.

*Clive Barker can make me love a character that I’m not supposed to, which takes a whole different set of skills.  For instance, in Mister B Gone, the reader knows up front that the narrator is a demon who has done some evil things, yet the reader likes him anyway.  And it isn’t just the tongue in cheek way that Mister B approaches his imprisonment.

Audiobooks

I have been listening to lots of audiobooks lately because I am having difficulty concentrating on words on a page.  I’m on book 10 of the Dresden Files.

I’ve mentioned before that some writers, I have trouble reading and Jim Butcher is one of them (as is Dean Koontz which is even stranger).  However, I can listen to his books just fine.

For the last year, I have been accumulating Audible credits that I haven’t used.  So I went and grabbed more Dresden Files as well as some Stephen King and Clive Barker books.  I’m managing to get through about one Dresden File book a week.  It might take me a little longer to get through the three Stephen King novels I grabbed because I realized I hadn’t read them.

I grabbed Dr. Sleep and Mr. Mercedes.  I didn’t realize how far behind I was on my regular reading.  In the past, I have read every Stephen King upon its release and used his back catalog to keep my King Fix going between books.

One of the other books I grabbed was Clive Barker’s Scarlet Gospels.  I have read the book, I read it almost as soon as it was released because as much as I love other authors, Clive Barker is my hero.  In many ways I aspire to be Clive Barker.

I don’t find Barker’s stories to be terrifying in the way that everyone expects horror to be.  His narrative is magical in so many ways that have nothing to do with whether his books keep me awake or not in the dark of the night.  And I did love Scarlet Gospels.  I’m hoping I love the audiobook as much as I did reading the actual book.

The point of this was something else, not just announcing my love of Barker, King, and audiobooks.  This has made me realize that audiobooks have become very important in our society.  They aren’t just for car rides, in other words.  I have listened to the last two Dresden Files audiobooks while playing video games and attempting to cook and things.  It helps me think about something other than the pain and almost constant nausea from my gallbladder woes and pain issues.

You Might Be Psychic If…

I don’t remember what article I was reading this week, but it listed common criteria for psychics.  Some of the things were like “able to put together furniture” which I associate with being mechanically inclined more than being psychic, but I don’t know much about psychics.

  • Babies and dogs love you instantly
  • You are sensitive to scents
  • You see colors around people
  • You hear sounds no one else hears
  • You intuitively know how things go together
  • You are a vivid dreamer
  • You commonly experience Deja-Vu

There were others, but these are the ones I remember.  All except the being able to put shit together intuitively apply to me, which is weird because I don’t like babies nearly as much as they like me.

They also apply to my mother, including the mechanically inclined part.  My mother can soothe the babies of strangers with just a touch.  It never fails, if her and I are grocery shopping, some baby in a shopping cart will want our attention.  They wave, smile, giggle, make faces at us, and I have actually seen my mom touch a baby’s hand while it was fussing in a cart and have it instantly settle down.  The baby’s mother was less freaked out than one might imagine because my mom just puts off a grandmother feeling and people are just comfortable around her, even if their babies.  The mother told us that said baby had been teething and hadn’t stopped fussing for days and she was surprised my mom had gotten her to calm down even for a few minutes because her own mom hadn’t been able to do it.

However, my cousin and I are fairly sure that most of the women in our family are a touch psychic.  On more than one occasion when my cousin and I were together, we have both been struck by watery eye-hair standing on end sensations at the same time.

Most of the time, I’m indifferent to claims of psychic abilities and I don’t know if I believe they exist or not.  But sometimes it’s hard to dismiss every event that happens to someone as coincidence.  Especially considering strange things happen from time to time.  For example, before we bought our house over the summer, I had a dream about it.  That wouldn’t be a big deal except it was June and we weren’t even looking at houses at the time, especially not this house, which we saw the first day it came on the market.  I walked in and knew it was the house I had dreamed about and I have had a lot of deja vu moments in it.

Also, I was instantly in love.  I am not particularly close to any of my uncles on my mom’s side.  There is one though that I talk to often and like a lot (and one is creepy AF and I am waiting for the news to splash his picture around announcing he’s a serial killer).

A few weeks after we moved in, the uncle I really like, came by to see the house.  I gave him the tour and he looked at me and asked why we had decided on this particularly house.  Turns out during the 1970s and 1980s, my uncle knew the guy that owned the house and they held a monthly poker game here.  Here’s the thing, I don’t live in a huge city, but it isn’t a little town either.  At a population of 110,000 residents, with at least four satellite cities, the odds of us buying a house my uncle used to play poker in three decades earlier were really rather slim.  Especially, since my uncle has lived in several other cities besides this one…

It just makes you scratch your head.  We saw probably a hundred houses and yet this was the one I absolutely wanted to have.  The others were nice, but they were just houses, this one felt familiar, like a home.

A Hitman’s Mistake?

The Mary Morris Murders are theorized to be the work of an idiot, unfortunately the idiot is probably a contract killer.  As someone that considers contract killer’s serial killers who really love their day job (much like me, but without the need to clean up after myself as often), I research contract killers the say way I research serial killers.  The only difference is we don’t know a whole lot about really good contract killers…

After all, if they weren’t good, we would know about all of them and they wouldn’t be employed for very long.  Sadly, to err is human and contract killers are human.

In October 2000, Mary Morris left for work in the morning and was reported that evening as missing by her husband.  It didn’t take long for the Houston Police to discover, Mary Morris had left for work at her normal time, but had never arrived there.

It didn’t take long after Mary Morris’s husband reported her missing for her body to be found.  It was parked in her car, not far from her house, dead.  Everyone was shocked.  Mary Morris didn’t live a high risk life style.  No one could imagine who would do such a thing.

Just three days later, another woman was found dead, in her car,   Like Mary Morris, this woman had left for work as per usual, and her body was found only a short distance from her house.  Someone had tried to make it look like a suicide.  Oddly, the victim’s name was Mary Morris and the theory of the inept Contract Killer was born.

With the Murder of Mary Morris One, there were no suspects.  The same was not true of Mary Morris Two.  Mary Morris 2 was a nurse who had until recently, been working with a male nurse that had creeped her out.  He had been fired just a week or so before, Mary Morris’s death.  Also, Mary Morris 2, was having marital problems with her husband.

Mary Morris 2 had a very large life insurance policy and her husband refused to let the police interview their daughter, who was his alibi.  Also, both Mary Morris victims were missing their wedding rings, but nothing else, including their wallets and cash were missing.  This is one instance where art imitates life, contract killers often remove identifiable pieces of jewelry such as wedding bands to provide to their employer to prove the job is done.

Two women murdered just a few days apart in a city as large as Houston, even with both of them named Mary Morris, could still be a coincidence. There were probably a dozen or more women named Mary Morris in Houston at the time.  However, the similarities between the two cases, including how the women were killed, and the fact that both Mary Morris victims even looked a bit alike, make it coincidence unlikely

Finally, after the murder of Mary Morris 2 there were no more Mary Morris’s killed in Houston in 2000 or in 2001.  Police actually suspect that Mary Morris 2 fought back against her killer.  The case has gone cold, but it is an interesting case.  A serial killer of the non-professional kind is unlikely, since serial killers are never that strict about their vicomology, that they would have to kill dark haired women named Mary Morris and try to make the crime look like anything other than a murder.  Also, if it were a serial killer, one would think there should have been more Mary Morris victims.

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