Prepping For NaNo

Over the years, I have made a sheet of tips from numerous places.  Sometimes advice given to me by writing teachers and professors.  Sometimes, questions that teens have asked that has required me to think on the answer or ask others for it.  As I prep for NaNo, I’ve decided to share them.

  • Stress causes writer’s block, as does lack of sleep.
    • This means if you have a big test or presentation on Monday and you are worried about it, you probably won’t accomplish much writing on Sunday evening regardless of how much you may want to write
  • While writer’s block is usually the result of stress, there are things you can do to work through it.
    • Go for a walk, exercising helps you get creative by sending extra blood into your brain.
    • Take a shower, stand there until the water runs cold. Showers are nice quiet places to think and hot showers stimulate blood flow and help with relaxation.
    • Meditate
    • Go read a book – I keep two or three dozen short story books around my computer desk and when I feel writer’s block strike, I read a short story from one of these books.
    • Make some new characters for a different story. Creating characters helps stimulate the creative side of the brain.  – I almost always have a dozen or more characters just lying around for me to use at a later date in something.
    • Realize writer’s block happens to everyone who has ever tried to string sentences together to tell a story.
  • Have a routine.
    • Even though I work from home, I try to wake up at the same time every day. I try to turn on my computer at the same time every morning.  I try to take a lunch break at the same time every day.
    • Before I start writing on any “novel” that morning, I practice writing with either a writing prompt, creating a character or two, and/or by writing a blog post.  These things warm up my brain and get it ready to write.
  • It’s okay to delete huge sections of text.
    • I can’t count the number of times I have started over on a book or the number of times, I’ve decided I hate an entire chapter and just deleted it.
  • Spelling, grammar, proper page formatting, your typing skills, none of them matter when you sit down to write. These things are fixable after you have gotten your ideas out on the page.
  • Just because your story starts one way, doesn’t mean it won’t change.
    • Embrace those changes. No matter how well you have your story plotted out, your brain is constantly adjusting the story as you add words.  This means your story may be vastly different than what you planned it to be.  This is okay!!
    • The only author I know that can plot so intensely and detailed there are absolutely zero deviations from the outline is James Patterson. And while I do like most Patterson novels, I sometimes find them difficult to read, as if it was over plotted and it doesn’t feel or sound organic.
  • You are your audience!
    • Only under special circumstances will you ever write anything for someone else. These usually include formal papers and formal writing assignments in English classes.  Although I did once write a story for one of my closest friends when she got married.
  • If you are stuck, read what you have already written.
  • Embrace your creativity!
    • I grew up with words on the brain. I wanted, no needed, to get those words out onto a page most of the time and I would write during study hall and on my lunch break.  Unfortunately, some of my not so creative classmates thought it was weird that I wrote for fun.
    • And that too was okay!! Creativity is a sign of intelligence, deep introspection, and a mind that doesn’t conform to all the standards of normalcy.  It is not something a non-creative will ever understand and even with your expanded vocabulary (another bonus of writing and reading), you will never explain it where they can understand it.  Don’t let them stifle you, just because they don’t understand and therefore want to make you feel bad about it.
  • Use Your Friends & Family
    • Once you have something written, give it to your mom or a good friend to read. In junior high I had three friends that read all my short stories along with my mom.
    • Those Alpha Readers may discover something you missed or something you should add.
    • If any of those people respond negatively to something you wrote, evaluate why. Did they dislike it because they don’t like to read that kind of story?  Are they envious that you can be creative?  If you can’t find justification for why they didn’t enjoy it, don’t let them read anything else.
  • Don’t get rid of anything
    • You may hate a handful of pieces of your writing. You may decide they are terrible.  Put them in a folder on your computer and just let them sit.  Time brings new perspective.  Something you think is awful or stupid today, you may decide is great in a year.
    • I’m talking from experience here. When I was 22, I deleted every short story and novel I had written up to that point because I decided I wasn’t good enough to be an author.  I would give a lot to have all those pieces back.
  • Almost any problems that arise in a story can be fixed.
    • I have gotten to the end of novels and realized I forgot to wrap up the main plot of the novel.  That’s why everything starts as a draft.
  • Most writer’s practice by writing short stories.
    • I love to write short stories, even to this day.
    • Even Neil Gaimen (author of the book Coraline) writes short stories to stimulate his brain.
  • In real life, first names have power, they are part of your identity.
    • The same should be true of your characters. This means if you hate the name Ashley, don’t make it the name of a main character.  And you may hate Ashley just because you don’t like the way it sounds or because there’s a girl that’s mean to you named Ashley.  Your feelings towards the name will transfer into your book and the reader’s will know you hate your character named Ashley, even if they don’t know why.
  • Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more
    • Writing is a skill, no different than playing a musical instrument. You must practice it.
    • Sometimes that practice is sitting down and writing. Sometimes that practice is sitting down and reading a book about how to craft a good plot.  And even reading a fiction novel counts as practice.  I don’t just write books, I get to read them as part of my job!!
  • When all is said and done, what you have written is yours!
    • Despite the fact that I have now published more than 25 books, I still have two reactions every time I release something
      • I’m nervous none of my readers will like it
      • I feel like King Kong because I have written a book that I think is worth sharing with the world.
      • And usually about a week after the book has published, I regret it. My brain says “oh you should have done this,”  “You should have done that section differently,” “You should have made her have wings,” “You should have changed the plot to include X,” and I will second guess myself, even as people tell me how much they liked it.
      • ALL of these emotions are completely normal!
      • I even hate a few books that I have published. And that is also normal.
  • You are the God of your story
    • You created every character.
    • You created the setting.
    • You created the plot.
    • You rule the universe that you created.  You may do exactly what you want.  If you want Pirates with laser cannons to battle zombies from the lost Continent of Atlantis, go ahead.  Most of the time, you don’t even need for your characters to understand.  The only people that need to understand are you and your readers.
  • Finally – Writing Should Be Fun!!
    • Writing even as a hobby is work.  Even if you do not publish your stories, you are flexing the “muscles” of your brain.
    • It is normally exhausting.
    • The difference between writing a story and running a marathon is that one is mental exhaustion and the other is physical exhaustion.
      • Both will help you sleep.
        • Both will help improve your mood.
        • Both are healthy.

Now go forth and NaNo or write a short story or create a character or copy this list and print it.  Or whatever….

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Movies to Watch

I have a set group of movies I watch every October, because I do love a good scary movie. I either watch them by myself or with my mom, since J really doesn’t like a good scary movie.

Surprisingly, some of my favorite horror films are actually comedies.  Or maybe it isn’t surprising, since I don’t watch a ton of comedies and I’m kind of a dark personality, maybe horror comedies fit me to a T.

So here’s a list of some of my favorites:

  • Monster Squad (Yes, really, I love this movie, I loved it as a kid and I love it as an adult, there is just something very satisfying about watching pre-teens kick Dracula’s ass and how can you dislike a movie that declares loudly and proudly that Wolfman has nards!)
  • Thir13en Ghosts – I love Tony Shalhoub and I love movies about ghosts, demons, serial killers, and the apocalypse, this movie has a touch of all of it.
  • Devil – This movie was panned by fans and critics alike, which might be why I like it.  Oh and the devil makes an appearance which helps.  By the time M. Night Shyamalan released this film, we were all wise to his plot tricks and we were a little burnt out after classics like The Village, Lady in the Water, and Signs – to be honest, I love Signs and The Happening too.
  • Delivery Us From Evil – This was not a great book, I read it and sort of shook my head in wonder when the movie was announced.  The movie was better and I liked Eric Bana’s portrayal of Ralph Sarchie better than Ralph Sarchie’s portrayal of Ralph Sarchie.
  • The Crazies – I did not have high hopes for this film.  I have seen the 1973 original and I didn’t figure Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell would make it better, although I do like both of them.  I was pleasantly surprised that I did enjoy it, better than the original even.  It is now one of my Halloween go to movies.
  • Sinister (1 & 2) – I love the Conjuring Movies, a lot, I can’t wait to see The Nun.  However, for pure scare factor, I find the Sinister Movies scarier.  And more importantly, the Sinister Movies surprised me.  I had worked out bits and pieces of it by the end of Sinister 1, but I hadn’t worked out the demon was after the little girl in Sinister 1 when she suddenly kills her family.  Plus, there is just something all around terrifying about a child who is willing to murder their entire family.
  • The Thing – I loved the original The Thing, probably because my mom loves Kurt Russel, so I of course, love Kurt Russel (Funny how strong parental influences can be).  However, this is the new one I’m talking about.  The one with the girl that played Lucy in the two new Die Hard movies.  The one released in 2011 was unique, it wasn’t a remake, it wasn’t even a retelling of the original, it was an origin story that most people missed.  Even I missed it until recently.  I remembered how the original started, with the Norwegians shooting at the dog as it ran across the snow to McMurdo base.  And screaming at the Americans it’s not a dog and calling them idiots.  Recently, as I rewatched the 2011 version, I realized they were in a Norwegian station and everything sort of clicked into place, this is where the infected dog comes from before it infects everyone at McMurdo in Kurt Russel’s The Thing – sometimes I can be slow on the uptake.
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – I have seen all the Abbott and Costello movies, this is the only one I own and it cracks me up, no matter how many times I see it, I still find it hilarious.
  • House on Haunted Hill – Despite the fact that the special effects were cutting edge for the late 1950s, I still love this Vincent Price classic and watch it every year.  I also remember the first time I watched it, there were a few scenes that made me jump, which is rare for me.
  • Exorcist: The Beginning– And every horror movie buff on the planet just groaned.  I’m sure everyone expected an Exorcist movie to show up, but this one?  Not so much.  It is however, my favorite of the Exorcist movies I’ve seen (I haven’t seen one of them, not sure if it’s 2 or 3).  I’m not sure I can explain why this is my favorite, but it is.

I own tons of other horror movies including the original 3 Purge movies, The Conjuring, Conjuring 2, End of Days, The Haunting in Connecticut (1 & 2), Deep Blue Sea, all 3 Blade movies, all 6 Alien movies, Trick or Treat, Predator, Predator 2, AvP, AvP Requiem, Predators, the Insidious Trilogy, Split, all 6 Resident Evil films, Doom, Cabin in the Woods, Darkness Falls (love this one too, but don’t have it digitally, so it is often forgotten), the Original Halloween movies, Freddy v. Jason, Mirrors 1 & 2, the Final Destination films, Hellraiser 1 & 2, Legion, the Rings trilogy, Priest, the Riddick Trilogy (Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick), the remake of Friday the 13th, the Halloween Movies directed by Rob Zombie…

And here is where perception matters most, J isn’t interested in watching any of these movies, except Purge, I can get him to watch those, but I consider one of his favorites to be a dramatic horror movie Full Metal Jacket, but he doesn’t.  I realize it isn’t billed a horror film, but the psychological abuse exhibited in Full Metal Jacket is actually more intense and terrifying than almost any of the horror movies listed above.  Full Metal Jacket has caused me nightmares, but none on my list of horror movies have.  So I consider it a horror film even though most people don’t.

One final thought on my surgery

I had fajitas Thursday night, they were amazing. I mean really amazing, even though they kind of screwed them up.

However, I am back to eating pretty much anything I want. No veggies bother me, not even spicy ones.

I have felt bloated a few times after meals but was told this was probably a response to my body getting meals again every day and it would probably be a week or so before it adjusted to eating at least twice a day again, I often skip breakfast.

They put four holes in me. The bottom two were for the camera and blowing are into my abdominal cavity. I see the surgeon Tuesday to discuss my surgery.

I had a realization during my recovery week that I need to share with everyone. Late Thursday night, after the leftovers had been put in the fridge, and I was lying in bed trying to convince my brain to freaking shut down for the night, my brain latched onto a thought and refused to let go.

I often talk about my pain levels, but it is exceptionally hard to understand someone else’s pain if you have never experienced it. It doesn’t matter how empathetic you are as a person.

However, at no time last week, not even when I first woke up in recovery from the surgery did the pain from my surgical incisions hurt as much as the pain in my hip when I have done nothing to aggravate it.

In other words, my disease causes me more pain than laparoscopic surgery. And I have another 30 years or so of this, maybe. Waking up day after day and knowing that the pain in my hip is worse then the pain of laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery.

Well that’s fucking depressing.

I don’t even know what to do with that information. And worse, when you tell someone that they think you are exaggerating or lying or misremembering.

But… here’s one of the things that made me start thinking about it. I take a Vicodin for the surgical pain and for a few hours, there is no surgical pain. That doesn’t happen with my hip pain. Not even this week. And I have not once regretted waking up because of the pain of the incisions. Most days, I have only taken 1 Vicodin to deal with the pain of the 4 incisions. That is less Vicodin than I take to deal with my hip pain even on days I don’t overdo it.

I have spent a year trying to explain in words the entire world would understand the insane amount of pain CRPS causes and I have always failed. But there it is. I would rather have surgery than deal with the pain in my hip because a laparoscopic surgery is less painful.

This is why CRPS has such a high suicide rate. It isn’t because they are weak it’s because you can only spend so many years dealing with pain levels higher than those you have in surgical recovery after a laparoscopic surgery. And you know that it really doesn’t get better.

You try to stay positive, but it can be next to impossible, for even those whose “glass is half full.” I am still working on my book about it. Maybe next year I’ll get it published if not this year.

Sometimes, You Have To Switch Books

Sometimes, when I get bogged down by a book, I have to switch books.  I love Aislinn as much as the next person, but there are times when working on it is akin to sloshing through the swamp…

When this happens, I have to change books.  It happened during the fourth killer chapter of Ritual Dreams.  I considered writing on The Dysfunctional Expansion, but after getting a 100 words into it, I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to write either.

So I started a new book.  A completely new book.  And I’m going to attempt to expand my horizons a bit with the writing… fingers crossed.  The first day, I got 8,000 words wrote on it.  It’s kind of fun and light and dark.

Will it be finished eventually and decent enough to publish?  Beats me, but in just 2 days, I got 14,000 words written.  And I’m enjoying the story line.  I admit I have struggled writing the last four D&R novels, so I feel like this is refreshing to my brain.

And I sent it to my best friend and my editor to read to give me an opinion on it.

Because They Needed to Damage Their Credibility Some More

I was sent an article the other day regarding the FDA and their approval of an app.  Not just any app, but an app to help prevent pregnancy.  I guess the FDA decided they needed to damage their credibility some more.

The app is based on folklore, which in itself is interesting.  Folklore tells you that if you want to avoid pregnancy, track your body temp and don’t have sex on days when it is high.  This is what the app does, for $80 a year.  You get a cheap oral thermometer that sends data to the app about a woman’s body temp.  Based on how low or high your body temp is it tells you how close you are to ovulating.

For the record, the app makers are being sued because there are a lot of unwanted pregnancies associated with it’s use.  It is being marketed as an all natural form of birth control, but you’d be better off to find a smooth flat rock to shove in your vagina in front of your cervix which would be like an all natural diaphragm.  DO NOT DO THIS!  I’m sure this will lead to infection and probably unwanted pregnancies, so I repeat, do not shove a rock in your vagina and hope it works like a diaphragm.

So why did the FDA approve it for use?  I think simply because the EU did as well.  I am all about the digital age and think that most of the time it has made our lives better.  This is not one of those times.

First off, an app is not going to keep you from getting pregnant, not unless the app inserts a diaphragm or injects you with birth control hormones.  Second, cycle tracking isn’t even a terribly effective way to get pregnant, let alone keep someone from getting pregnant.  Third, science has debunked cycle tracking to prevent pregnancies a number of times.

Did you know that as you sleep your body temperature constantly fluctuates based on where you are in the REM process?  And not sleeping well during the night can raise your body temp just before you wake up?  While sleeping well can lower it just before you wake up?  Also, not everyone has the same body temp as the next person.  My average temp is not 98.6, it’s a little higher at about 99.4.  A bad night’s sleep can make me wake up with what appears to be the start of a fever at 100.3 or so.

Hydration levels also affect your body temp.  So if you have mild dehydration, it can make it appear you are close to ovulation. However, if you are like most people and almost always suffer from mild dehydration, then a day of hydration can create lower body temps the next day… and as a result of the lower body temp because you actually drank enough fluid that wasn’t alcoholic the day before, it can make it appear you are okay to have sex and that ovulation is several days away when in reality you are going to ovulate this afternoon.

So do yourself a favor and do not subscribe to this app unless you have this weird need to know what your body temp is every day.  And it certainly shouldn’t be considered an effective form of birth control, even if the FDA rubber stamped it because they wanted to be like the cool kids in the EU.

Immigrating into the US

The media has us convinced that to get into the US, Mexican citizens pay coyotes (smugglers) to bring them across the border in semi trailers.  This is not exactly accurate.

I had never even heard the word coyote until the last decade or so.  However, I did know a girl when I was in college who had come here as a child and neither her or her parents had papers.  They all eventually got them, but it took a while and she told me about having forged papers for most of her time in school.

They did not run through the desert and then wade across a dry Rio Grande and walk into Texas avoiding border guards in the dead of night.  They crossed the border in Texas to go visit her father’s brother in New Jersey and they just didn’t go back to Texas and cross the border back into Mexico.

In other words, they legally crossed the border from Mexico to the US and didn’t go back home.  As I understand it, if you live in central America or Mexico and you know someone in the US, that’s how you illegally immigrate into the US.  You don’t pay a coyote to smuggle you across as cargo in a semi trailer full of vegetables.  You only pay a coyote to take you across when you don’t know anyone.  Coyotes take you to an area that is populated by other Hispanic immigrants where someone knows how to forge you papers.

Now forged papers aren’t cheap so if you can’t afford them, you get a job somewhere they don’t ask for them and you save up to get them, especially if you have children because your kids will need them to go to school.  If you know someone here already, the fee to get papers is usually cheaper because the business isn’t exclusive, and competition drives down the cost.

Sadly it does mean that you will probably have to consort for a short time with some unsavory characters, but in the larger cities, they aren’t hard to find.

Nowadays most coyotes are also connected to the cartels and the days of truck loads of immigrants packed into semi trailers has decreased significantly because cartels have built drug smuggling tunnels into the US.  It’s safer to move drugs through tunnels than through mules or even through trucks filled with crates of coffee beans.  This means coyotes can also use the drug smuggling tunnels to smuggle people into the US.

A PSA Regarding Your Lady Bits

When I got my depo shot last month, I also got a sheet of paper that I didn’t bother to look at.  Yesterday I cleaned out my purse looking for some cash that I had misplaced inside it.  I found the money had slipped into that folded sheet of paper.  So I pulled both out and decided to read the piece of paper.

My gynecologist has decided to start a campaign to educate his patients about the importance of their lady bits being covered in hair.  After reading it, I realized he was a fighting a battle he couldn’t win, not without help, because the social standard for ladies is to remove as much hair as possible from their lady bits and it’s encouraged by men, which doesn’t help.

However, there was some important information in it and if you are a lady who shaves your lady bits and you have not experienced any of these things, you might be the exception not the rule.  So I decided to share with all my blog readers, male and female to help him in his crusade.

Women who completely shave are more than 100 times more likely to suffer infections of hair follicles that turn into sebaceous cysts that must be surgically opened and the core removed.  These types of cysts are normally referred to plastic surgeons for treatment in order to keep the scarring to a minimum.  Unfortunately health insurance in the US has the right to refuse to pay for the treatment when a plastic surgeon is used because it is considered elective.  Not all gynecologists will treat them since it is a dermatological infection, meaning you may have to see a dermatologist for treatment, however, both of which will require you to expose your downstairs lady bits to doctors other than your gynecologist.  Sebaceous cysts are painful and while they may look like a very large pimple, they do not pop.  Occasionally, they may leak fluid and the fluid has an very intense and extremely unpleasant odor that can make someone self conscious.  There is currently no form of hair removal that will prevent a sebaceous cyst.

On a less psychological position and more physical one, women who remove all the hair from their lady bits are more likely to experience frequent and severe urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, and pelvic inflammatory syndrome.  PID has nearly zero symptoms, but if not treated quickly can cause female sterility.  Frequent urinary tract infections can also have serious side effects such as an increase in the frequency of kidney stones and over time, frequent urinary tract infections may cause damage to the bladder and kidneys.

The hair on our lady bits protects the mucus membranes of our vagina and provides protection for the opening of our urethra.  No matter how careful you are when you wipe after using the lavatory, some detritus is left near the urethra.  On a lady with hair, this detritus is removed by the movement of hair covering the area and taken away from the urethra.

He states that many of his patients say they shave their lady bits because it is more hygienic, but the opposite is actually true.  Hair helps move vaginal secretions away from the vagina and urethra, placing it safely on our clothing.  Without hair, vaginal secretions tend to linger around the opening of the vagina increasing the moisture around the opening and increasing the chance of a yeast infection on the labia and outer ring of the vagina.  And it isn’t just a lady’s own secretions it helps move, contrary to popular opinion, the area around the vagina is prone to collecting dirt, it is a wet lining much like our nose.  Secretions happen when the vagina is trying to remove foreign items from the area, this means that secretions are often filled with things like dead skin cells, anything that may have moved into the vagina on a breeze while changing clothing (forced air and forced heat exposes the vagina to hair, dander from pets if you have any,  pollen, mold spores, and anything else in the air – the basic ingredients of dust), fecal matter, impurities excreted in urine, and while everyone just said in their heads – that’s why you wipe front to back on the fecal matter – some particles will always be left, it collects on clothing and moves towards the vagina, hair plays a part in stopping it from entering the vagina and moving it away from the vagina and urethra.

And men, you are part of the problem.  Semen is considered a foreign object to the vagina and uterus.  Lady bits hair grows the way it does for a reason.  Semen is one of the leading causes of urinary tract infections.  Not only does sexual intercourse actually force bits of dirt and detritus into the urethra (which is why women should always urinate after sexual intercourse), but after completing sexual intercourse, if a condom was not used, as semen leaks from the vagina, hair moves the liquid away from the vagina and urethra.  Without hair, semen can be moved into the urethra by walking or changing positions if lying down, thereby increasing the risk of getting a UTI.

Men tend to like shaved women because they can get to the playground equipment easier (I am of course paraphrasing), however, a woman should not participate in sexual activities if they have a UTI, yeast infection, vaginal infection, or PID, so which is sexier hair or the phrase “We have to wait for me to finish treatment?”…

In other words, the hygiene myth is busted, it is not more hygienic to remove the hair from the Lady Bits.  And it can cause serious health problems, including female sterility and kidney damage.  It ends by saying as female hair removal from a woman’s labia increases, his office is seeing an increase in urinary tract infections, PID that are often not caught until a woman comes in for an annual exam and with new guidelines stating that women should only get an annual exam every two years, more women are going to start experiencing long term side effects from untreated Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

If a woman does have symptoms of PID, they should immediately call their gynecologist symptoms include pain in the pelvic region, abnormal discharge, abnormal bleeding,, pain when having sex, and low back pain, when it becomes severe a woman may experience a high fever.  These symptoms may be mild or severe or not exist at all.

And while it is called a disease, it is actually a severe infection of the reproductive organs.  I went to school with a girl who ended up spending a few weeks in the hospital due to pelvic inflammatory disease.  She was 17 and the infection was so bad that even IV antibiotics did not clear it up and they had to perform a full hysterectomy.

Just something to think about.

Parental Rights and Baby Rabies

That is a poorly worded title, but I can’t figure out a better one.  I occasionally question the parental rights system we have in place right now.  I don’t think we are.  Women have options, I’m pro-choice so I’m fine with that, but men less so…

In 1995, one of the guys I ran around with was 16 and essentially his life was ruined… He started dating this girl everyone thought was super hot.  He sorta thought he’d hit the jackpot.  What no one knew was that the girl at 16 had baby rabies.  Her older sister had just given birth to a little girl a year earlier and she made the decision she was ready to have one of her own.

Her and my friend start dating and he’s a little unsure about sex, because he had always used condoms in the past, but the girl was on birth control and claimed to be allergic to latex pointing out that meant they couldn’t use condoms… but she was on birth control, so no big deal.  Until she got pregnant.  My friend tried not to be an asshole about it, but he wasn’t interested in having kids at 16.  He goes to one of her appointments with the obstetrician who dons latex gloves and when he points this out, the girl says it’s fine, she isn’t really allergic to latex.

Long story short, they have a kid.  My friend drops out of high school and starts working on his GED so he can work and support the baby.  They broke up after a year because she wanted another baby and he refused to have unprotected sex, because he didn’t trust her to stay on her birth control.

In three years, she has 3 kids and every guy says the same thing, she swore she was on birth control and they couldn’t use condoms because she was allergic to latex.  The guys are stuck paying child support to this woman until the child grows up.  I didn’t stay in contact with her, but she didn’t graduate high school, she dropped out to be a stay at home mom, living on child support.

If a man conned a woman that way, he’d probably go to jail, and the woman would not be forced to pay for that mistake for the rest of the child’s natural life.  But somewhere along the way of trying to stop guys from being dead beat dad’s, they lost some say in the matter.

Here’s the thing, what she did was morally reprehensible, but not illegal.  She is allowed to lie about being on birth control and about being allergic to latex and 16 year old guys do not have vasectomies.  I’ve heard people argue that the guys should have kept it in their pants, but there were hormones involved and she was rip roaring ready to go.  I don’t think even fully formed male brains would have been able to say no if she hadn’t been jail bait… do we really expect teens, who are basically sociopaths to have more self control?

This is where our social expectations go awry.  We expect 16 year old females to be responsible and not want children, but biologically speaking 16 year old females are the prime age for children and the body knows this… it’s why 16 year old females are every bit as likely as 16 year old males to be sexually active.  Baby impulses start during the teen years.  Also from a biological stand point, the teens are the perfect age to start trying to conceive children in a female because they are mostly developed physically, hormones are surging, and they can find out early if they are even capable of reproduction.  It is only our societal expectations that says teens won’t have sex (possibly because they aren’t married), which directly contradicts human biological impulses.  If biology wanted us to stay abstinent into our 20s or 30s, we wouldn’t go through puberty until our 20s or 30s (I am not a fan of abstinence as the only form of birth control because I think trying to curb biological impulse using social mores is fairly difficult).

The point is, a man does not have the option to just ignore the fact he had a child, the courts can put him in prison for it.  However, if a women entraps a man this way, we consider it the guy’s fault and we have the same expectations of the man as we would if he had planned to have a child with his wife and they then got divorced.  And we feel sorry for the woman because the guy abandoned her and his love child.  Why?

One of my friends once told me it was because the woman was stuck with the child for 18 years.  But if she wanted the child in the first place and went to extraordinary lengths to get pregnant, it isn’t really punishment.  And a high school girl with baby rabies is formidable.  She is of an age that encourages her to think and be clever and when she turns her focus to breeding, it greatly reduces the odds of it not happening.  For instance, one of my classmates once told a group of us that every time her and her boyfriend had sex, she would make sure to douche afterwards because someone had told her it would increase the chances she would get pregnant and she did.  She was one of my many classmates that walked across the graduation stage obviously pregnant.

As an adult, I suffer from the same mental block as other adults, I think all teen pregnancies are unplanned.  But looking back, the only ones not planning them were the guys and me…  I think there were maybe a handful of females who were surprised by their pregnancies that were part of my circle.  The rest were ready and willing to start pushing out babies and most were consciously trying to get pregnant for a variety of reasons, and I don’t think any of the reasons were “I love this guy and if we get pregnant he’ll marry me”.  I don’t know where that myth comes from, but most of my friends were more like “oh if I get pregnant by him, we’ll have attractive kids.”  And if you’ve seen the movie Dangerous Minds you’ll remember the scene where Michelle Pfeiffer is arguing with the principal about why her pregnant student has to go to a different school and how it’s ridiculous, but to some degree, that was how it worked.  Once one got pregnant baby rabies spread like wildfire and suddenly there’d be six or seven of them trying to get pregnant and discussing how their kids could grow up together… maybe even get married to each other (which is absolutely insane).

Just something to think about.

Done with July

July has been a strange and disastrous month.  It started with payday which was June 29th.  Amazon pays on the 29th of every month, so I always consider it the check for the next month because I try to pay as many bills as possible out of it.

My debit card strip was demagnetized and then when I put in the request for a new one my old one was automatically deactivated, so when one of my regular monthly debits, tried to go through on my old card, it triggered a security warning…  and locked my account.

Great.  Now I have to wait for my new debit card to arrive in the mail.  I get a letter the other day from my bank and I’m thinking it’s either my new pin number or my card… Nope it is a letter telling me that a new debit card and pin request had been put in on my account and if this wasn’t done by me, I should contact the bank.  Thanks for the head’s up?

Last week, I received a phone call and my phone decided to panic.  The call lasted maybe 45 seconds.  It was Rachel calling to let me know that my business line of credit had been approved for $500,000.  No one on this planet is going to let me have a line of credit for this amount.  I get about 3 of these calls a week.  It’s a scam of course.  The scammers spoof local numbers.  In this case, it was a (573) 777 number.  My pain management clinic is a (573) 777 number which is why I answered it.  After I hung up on Rachel, my phone overheated.  It became warm to the touch.  The screen wouldn’t turn on.  The phone wouldn’t turn off.  And even though the call had been disconnected when my husband called it to try to get the screen to come back up, he got my voicemail without hearing a single ring.

I plug it in and the screen magically comes back on and my phone slowly cools.  I was inside my house when the overheating happened where it was a cool 70 degrees and I was wearing a jacket because I get cold.  I also get hot randomly, there is just not a happy medium in my life – I’m either freezing to death or cooking.  I keep expecting to spontaneously combust.  I text my nephew, he works for Verizon and ask him about it.  He tells me I have to get a new phone.  Ugh.  The damage is related to my phone falling in a toilet 2 years ago so it isn’t covered under the phone’s warranty.  He orders it for me.

Three days ago, I stopped being able to accept phone calls for a period of about a day.  My nephew had called about the phone specs on the order.  My phone seems to get stuck, no matter how many times I hit the disconnect button, it still shows me actively talking to him.  Charging it made it go away, but it was stuck for 6 hours.

I call my doctor.  My gallbladder symptoms suddenly went away.  My father and sister experienced gallbladder death.  You can leave a gallbladder in place if it dies, but it has to be regularly checked.  I called the gastroenterologist first.  He didn’t want to scan it.  He hasn’t wanted to do anything with it.  Not even look at it.  My primary is the one that ordered the tests that were done.  My cousin also experienced gallbladder death, after her gallbladder ruptured.  It caused some problems.  But the problems were caused by the rupture not the gallbladder dying.  With my sudden departure of symptoms I enjoyed a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, a salad, and a steak.  Beef and bread were serious problems when I was having symptoms.  I was basically living on bacon.  I still dropped a clothing size on the bacon diet (I do not recommend it, I’m sure my cholesterol jumped significantly in the last couple of months).

PS: Cutting out bread did not reduce my pain.  I didn’t completely cut it out, but I made a serious dent in my intake of it and it didn’t even reduce my pain a little.

The Strange Case of Douglas Preston

I am a huge fan of the Pendergast series written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  I own the book Relic and have watched the movie several times.  I also own Reliquary and The Cabinet of Curiosities.  I don’t know why I stopped reading the series, but when I started listening to audiobooks on Scribd, I grabbed all three of those to refresh my memory.

They were just as good as I remembered and I am now waiting for A Still Life of Crows to become available to me.  Since I read a lot of bestsellers, Scribd limits how many best selling authors I can listen to in a month, I think.  That’s the only reason I can think of for so many books to be unavailable today but available at a certain date next month.  I am listening to the Women’s Murder Club, the Pendergast Series, and several Dean Koontz books or trying to.  I keep getting stuck waiting for the “available” date. I’ll write about Scribd more in a different post.

Once I finished The Cabinet of Curiosities, Scribd recommended The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston.  It is a non-fiction book written by Douglas Preston.  I read it when it first came out and it documents Douglas Preston’s life in Italy…

The book titled is based on a serial killer that was active between 1968 and 1984 in Florence, Italy.  He killed couples that were having sex in their cars.  The murders are unsolved.  There’s been a lot of talk about how Italian police botched the investigation when it first started and just continued to screw it up.  For starters, they were unwilling to admit they had a serial killer, which is never a good way to go about a murder investigation.  It wasn’t until the late 1970s that they decided the cases were all tied together.

In the late 1990s as Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s books became bestsellers, Preston moved his entire family to Florence, Italy.  Preston said it was a dream come true.  He had always wanted to live in Italy.  The dream didn’t last long.  As Preston and a journalist began to investigate the monster of Florence killings, the Italian police began to investigate Preston and the journalist he was working with.  Eventually, they arrested Douglas Preston (who lived in the US at the time of the last murders and all the murders before then) as an accessory to murder.  The journalist was arrested for murder and accused of being the monster of Florence.

Eventually both men were released, but Preston was told he was not welcome in Italy anymore.  He was told to leave and he’s not even allowed to vacation there now.  Preston and the journalist even had a suspect in the killings and interviewed him.  The police vehemently deny the man could have been involved, which is kind of weird… but Italy has a very long history of botching murder investigations, corruption within the police, and not being very good at dealing with crime as a whole.  Interpol has been investigating the Italian justice system for years because several European countries have filed complaints against the Italian justice system.  In the early 2000s, a German tourist in Italy was mugged and stabbed multiple times by his mugger when he fought back and the Italian police arrested the German tourist for assault.  The German government had to intercede to get the man released from prison.  Just like the US government had to intercede to get Douglas Preston released from jail and Italy.

In 2007 or 2008, profilers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation wrote to the Italian government to say that the suspect identified by Douglas Preston and Mario Sperizi (the Italian investigative journalist that worked on the book with Douglas Preston and his name might be spelled wrong) in The Monster of Florence did indeed fit the profile and was worthy of investigation. The Italian justice department told them to butt out.  Several investigative journalists have made claims that the Florence Police Department and the Italian Justice System have always known who was responsible for the murders, but because he is rich, they won’t do anything to him.  Furthermore, before Mario Sperizi, other Italian journalists who have investigated the monster of Florence case have been put in jail and the Italian police are not above censorship.  Writing about the Italian police is done so at a journalists own risk – the police have been known to force newspapers to pull unfavorable articles, and they have ruined a few journalists’ careers for writing unfavorable articles about them.

Interestingly, Douglas Preston’s experience, actually helped bolster the position of the US when they intervened in the Amanda Knox case (Knox was accused and then convicted of killing her roommate as part of a Satanic sex ritual both Knox and her roommate were exchange students living in Italy at the time).  Knox was eventually acquitted of the crime by the Italian Supreme Court, but most people are still not happy with the verdict.  One day I will write a post on how we will never know what happened in the actual murder, since the Italian Supreme Court found that there was evidence tampering, witness tampering, failure to follow investigative procedure, and several other problems with the investigation into the murder for which Knox and her boyfriend (an Italian who has not been acquitted) were convicted.

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