Why I Won’t Buy Your Product

I wish that I didn’t have to explain why this annoys me so much, but I have recently discovered that a few of my Facebook “friends” only care about selling to me, so this has been at the forefront of my mind for a while now. But I’ll start at the beginning.

I don’t hate makeup. I never wear it, but I don’t hate it. I’m a girl, I like looking pretty. When I was a kid, I loved getting to wear makeup. In high school, concealer was an absolute necessity. My grandma bought Avon from her neighbors, and my mom used to buy Mary Kay from her neighbors, back when she could still see. I got Mary Kay as payment from babysitting for the wonderful woman next door. But wearing makeup has always been too much effort for me to ever actually USE all of what I have before it goes bad. (That’s right, ladies, makeup CAN go bad.) Even so, I’ve found myself owning a TON of makeup. Why? Because I’m a girl, so people give it to me all the time. So why buy it? Especially when I can’t afford to buy name-brand anything?
When I was a kid, this made sense to everyone. I grew up in a little township called Magna, where almost everyone was lower-middle class to mid-middle class. Most of the neighbors were making ends meet, and nothing more. My family was among that group. We were only just scraping by. Now that I’m married, my husband and I are both working, and we can’t even afford to rent an apartment. We have a bedroom in a parent’s basement.
But lately, the women of Face-space seem to feel it necessary to sell me makeup, facials, health foods, WEIGHT-LOSS PRODUCTS, super-expensive clothing that won’t even cover my underwear, SEX TOYS, candles, “essential” oils, the list goes on. This has been happening to me for A DECADE. People I haven’t spoken to for YEARS will add me on social media and then do nothing but talk up “their” product. (And those two all-caps ones have fantastic stories, which I will get to later.)

This is called multi-level marketing. The skeptics and cynics among us call them pyramid schemes. Why? Because most of them are lies and garbage. According to the Federal Trade Commission multi-level marketing is when individuals sell products to the public — often by word of mouth and direct sales. Typically, distributors earn commissions, not only for their own sales, but also for sales made by the people they recruit.
Also according to the FTC, some of these are complete scams. My brother recently shared a news article about Herbalife, who were sued for lying about how much money their customers/sales-reps could realistically make, as well as other harmful business practices. It’s the primest of prime examples on a pyramid scheme. Especially when you compare it to Mary Kay, who’s been around for decades and built up a good product for a realistic price and pays their reps primarily for their own sales. (More to say on MK later.)

Now, I don’t have any issues with you choosing to sell someone else’s product to your friends as a way to try and supplement your income. (Notice how I said “supplement.”) If you invite me to your tupperware party, and don’t push me about going if I’m not interested, you still have my respect. But if, on the other hand, you keep pestering me about it, or trying to sell me a different product when I tell you that I can’t afford that stuff, you are part of the reason for my week-long rant about MLM.
Story time! Remember those all-caps items from that list earlier? When I had been out of high school for a couple of years, a friend I had lost touch with in Jr. High found me on Facebook.  Awesome! I thought. I always looked up to her, and we got along so well before we lost touch! I was excited. She started inviting me to stuff I couldn’t go to, and that was okay. Then she started inviting me to EVERYTHING SHE EVER GOT INVITED TO. Including the birthday parties of people I had never met, and events which she herself would not be attending. The best (or worst) incident was when she invited me to an mlm “party” for some sex toy line. I asked her what the line sold, as the FB event only listed the vague name of the product line and the date and address of the “party.” When she kindly explained, I replied that I was preparing to serve an LDS mission. She had always known that I am LDS, and that I was always very active in my faith. (For anyone who doesn’t know, active Mormons don’t have sex outside of marriage, so sex toys aren’t exactly what single LDS girls are looking for.) She said “oh, that’s okay, you can come  anyway! It’ll be great to know for when you get married!” Now, that’s not a horrible thing to think. Unless you know that the person you’re saying it to is very vocally adamant about NOT WANTING TO KNOW. How am I supposed to know if I care about a product intended to liven up your sex life if I’ve never had sex and don’t plan to for several more years? I have now been married for almost three years, and I still do not care to know how to use sex toys, or what is available for personal pleasure. I don’t need that stuff. It’s never been my thing, and it never will be, because I like things simple and straightforward. I explained to her that I had no interest in sex toys, or anything about sex at all, until I was actually getting married. She didn’t like my answer. A few stranger’s birthday party invites later, and I very kindly asked her to stop inviting me to everything that she does (or doesn’t do, in some cases). She got very offended that I was spurning her invitations to things that she thought I would enjoy. After getting very upset with me, I snapped and retorted that going to a birthday party for someone I’ve never met is NOT my idea of fun. (I didn’t even point out that some of those had been parties she was unable to attend. Think about it for a minute. Getting invited to a stranger’s birthday when the one person you know won’t be there.) She un-friended me right there, and I did not try to get her back. After my mission and marrying my wonderful husband, she sent me a friend request. I decided to give her a second chance. She hasn’t invited me to any product or party since, because she now respects the fact that I am not interested in what she is offering. I am simply interested in her friendship.

Sadly, others have taken her place. From the overly-pushy Mary Kay mom who used to live down the street to the high school classmate insisting that I try That Crazy Wrap Thing, my web-based friend-space has been so overly saturated with “party” invites that I feel like I’m in high school swim class again, trying desperately to tread water and only just barely managing to not drown.
When I capitalized weight-loss products in my earlier list of sales categories, it was so that I could explain why it is the most ridiculously stupid thing anyone has ever tried to sell to me. Not because it doesn’t work. Oh no. I’m sure that at least some of this stuff is completely legitimate, even if it is a “get skinny” trick. What makes this so hilarious is that I am five foot three and a half, and PETITE. As in, I weigh a buck twenty after GAINING WEIGHT FOR FIVE YEARS. And that weight comes from slightly larger chest and hips, increased exercise from my job, and drinking WAY too much soda. I have trouble finding pants my size that aren’t skinny jeans, because that’s what all the under-developed high school girls are wearing, and most companies don’t make “adult” pants in my size. I can still wear my t-shirts from elementary school. In high school, my larger friends were jealous of my fast metabolism and tiny waist, but I was completely convinced that I was as much as fifteen pounds under-weight. The people trying to sell me these weight loss products knew me in high school, when I barely ate and didn’t weigh enough. According to my profile pictures, I’ve only gotten more healthy. And I finally feel like I’m at a good place. I’m still really slender. And these women KNEW THAT. And still invited me to their It Works “parties.” And when I clicked “can’t go”? They messaged me and said “that’s okay, you can come another time!” or “It’s an online all-day event! You can attend via computer!” or even “I can sell you this product directly, so please tell me when you want it!” I then had to awkwardly explain that the reason I’m not going is because I don’t need to lose weight. Ever. I even went so far as to tell one girl that if I lost weight, I would no longer be healthy. The fact that I had to explain to anyone that a tiny girl with low body fat DOESN’T need to lose weight still astounds me. If you need or want to lose weight, and it actually does work, good for you! But DO NOT try to sell me a product that you KNOW I don’t need!

And then there is the person whose posts began all of my recent fuming and complaining on this topic. A woman I was sort-of friends with in Jr. High decided that she needed to become a working woman. No problem, you think. She wants to work, and support her family and stuff. That’s great! But she doesn’t apply for a real job. Oh no. She wants to “work at home” like everyone else does! So she puts up a post about getting into MLM. She wants to know what ALL of her friends are selling, so she can pick one and make money! (You can’t see my “sarcastic Matthew Santoro” face, but I’m totally making it right now.) She keeps posting basically this same thing for OVER A WEEK, and flooding my feed with so little besides “what are you selling?” to the point that I begin replying with photos of the most niche board games my store carries. And others start posting “what are you selling?” so that I get absolutely nothing else! So I post troll-y photos on all of them. One guy, who I sadly do not know, posted a picture of his fist between two slices of bread and declared that he was selling knuckle sandwiches. Thank heavens for that guy, because I really needed the laugh by that point.
So, after much deliberation, this woman decided that she is going to become a LuLaRoe representative! Good for you, lady, you made a decision! But it gets better. To get started, she needs FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS TO BUY THE PRODUCT TO SELL! So she needs ANOTHER JOB IN ORDER TO AFFORD THIS JOB! That, my friends, is a scam. I’m sorry, you have to buy five wardrobes in order to start your “business?” No, I will NOT help you. You’ll make pennies on the dollar, and you’ll probably lose friends over how much pestering you have to do.
Keep in mind, this is perfectly legal and legitimate multi-level marketing. This is how MOST customer/sales businesses operate. I have no problem with you wanting to sell Mary Kay on the side, for example. But if you are hard pitching over-priced product at every single person you know because you have to spend every dollar you make in order to have product to sell, then you are clearly doing it wrong.
I have one friend who, when I made an angry post informing everyone that I could not afford to buy stuff from them because I would not use it anyway, told me that she fully understands and only invites because she wants me to know that she cares. And she shows me that she cares by not pestering me if I can’t go or am not interested. If I want to buy lipstick in the future, I’ll probably go to her first. When I eventually have a house and want tupperware, I’ll probably go to her. (Especially since left-overs containers are really hard to come by in the right sizes.) I know that I can trust and respect her enough to know that she will sell me a good product for a reasonable price, and she won’t try to sell me things that I don’t want.
Right under her thoughtful comment was a different friend who immediately tried to sell me a product that I hadn’t listed in my angry post about not buying things I’m never going to use. I sighed in deep frustration and showed the comment to my husband, who also sighed in frustration. And then I politely told her that I own incense and a Scentsy burner, so I don’t need a Glade rip-off. (I bought the burner when I was young and could afford to do such things. I love the burner, but I’m rarely home, so I rarely get to use it.)

So, in conclusion, I hate multi-level marketing. I love people, for the most part, and hate to think of removing people who used to be so close to me. It really sucks. If you sell Mary Kay, I probably don’t buy it simply because I know that I won’t use it. It’s not because of you or your product. It’s because I almost never wear makeup. If you sell sex toys, I’m just not interested in the product because I won’t use it. If you sell oils, I wholly support you, and will even swear by some of those oils. I know that they work, because I’ve used some of them. But I can’t afford to buy brand-name. And please, for the love of sanity, DO NOT DO THIS AS YOUR ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME. THIS IS NOT YOUR BUSINESS! If you pay other people to organize the stuff you sell, you have a business. If you straight up sell me the picture you drew, or the book you wrote, or the earrings you made, then you have a business. If you sell someone else’s product and cannot possibly make ends meet by selling only that product, then you do NOT have your own business. You have been lied to. You are NOT your own boss. You are a salesperson who has to buy EVERYTHING you might sell to someone else for a marginally higher price than what you paid. You do NOT make money this way. If you do this as a hobby, or as that $5-$50 extra per month so that you can make rent, or so that you can get the product cheaper than you normally could, then good for you. Go for it. I may not buy from you, but I support you. If I tell you I’m interested in that free facial but I have no free time in the next few months, I’m not lying. I probably have a ton of things I’m currently doing, or several big events are coming up at work, or I feel like I never get any time to just sit at home and relax. If I’m not interested in your product, I’ll either ignore the invite or tell you “thanks, but this isn’t for me.”
Many thanks to those of you who do this the respectful and patient way, rather than the pushy and selfish way. Thank you for allowing me to say “no thank you” without awkward explanations or arguments. And especially thank you to those of you who value our friendship more than a sale, even if we rarely get to see each other.

 

If you’re looking into a multi-level marketing thing, the FTC actually has some fantastic guidelines for how to know whether your product of choice is a legitimate business or a pyramid scheme. Please check it out before you sign anything! The FTC literally exists to make sure that scumbags don’t ruin your life with bad business!
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/multilevel-marketing

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Suckerpunch in Wonderland

SPOILERS!!!

So, my husband introduced me to this interesting theory that I had never heard. Suckerpunch is basically Alice in Wonderland. At first, I thought it was weird. Then he explained it, and it made so much sense. Let’s start with the premise of the movie itself.
Girl is grief-stricken when her mother dies. Step-father, discovering that he gets nothing in the will, decides to attack the girl. It is not clear whether he intends to kill her or rape her, or both. That is left up to interpretation. But the girl fights back, so he goes for her more vulnerable little sister. Girl tries to protect sister, goes to shoot him, misses, and sister dies instead. Step-father has her put in an insane asylum for girls, even though there is no proof that she is insane. The orderly who takes her in is corrupt, and she has one week before she gets lobotomized. She turns to a delusion of being trapped in a brothel, where she comes up with a plan to escape. She and four other girls gather the things they need to escape, slipping into additional delusions throughout the story. In the end, only one girl escapes, and it’s not the girl you’ve been following. She gets lobotomized, and the corrupt orderly gets caught.

The girl we follow has a name, which we see in a brief clip while Step-father is filling out the paperwork to have her committed, but it’s only a partial name and it’s barely legible. So we only get to know her as Baby Doll. She is not Alice, like you would think. She’s not even the lead in Suckerpunch. She is the White Rabbit. There is, of course, the superficial reason: she’s got platinum blond pigtails. But the other reasons really prove her role. She leads the others through “Wonderland” and is constantly running around. Also, she is the only character with any sort of time limit. Near the end of the movie, Baby Doll even says “This was never my story. It was yours.”
We’ll get back to that in a bit. My personal favorite Alice character, The Mad Hatter, has a similar superficial trope to the White Rabbit. This heroine wears hats in all of the second-level fantasies. (The extra delusions within the brothel fantasy.) Rocket, Baby Doll’s first friend, is sometimes shown as having slightly ginger hair, as well. She has a spunky, almost crazy, attitude and seems to have little respect for those in authority over her. This is pretty easy to see when she tries to steal from the kitchen and then cries rape when the cook catches her. (There is no evidence that he actually intends to.) Then there’s her closeness to Alice, balanced with her disregarding Alice’s guidance in favor of following Baby Doll’s crazy escape plan. She also has very impulsive tendancies.
Rocket is also close with Amber and Blondie in a very “BFF” kind of way. These two girls are the March Hare and the Doormouse. Amber, being the more loyal, is the Hare. For superficial evidence, look no further than the pink bunny painted on her mech suit in the World War II delusion when they’re stealing the map. She follows the other girls, and provides solid backup throughout the movie. But like a skittish hare, she needs encouragement from Rocket, Baby Doll, and Blondie.
That leaves Blondie as the Doormouse. Blondie serves a similar backup/background position to Amber, and is very sensitive in spite of her cheerful attitude. Blondie is, however, the one who snitches in the brothel delusion. Like the Doormouse, Blondie is barely present in the other delusions.
The last of the girls is Rocket’s sister Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea is the only one of the girls who doesn’t just go along with Baby Doll’s crazy escape plan. She is logical, and in favor of preservation of life. As she accepts the plan, she blends in better, but is still separate. She wavers, where the others do not. This is who Baby Doll is speaking to when she says “this is your story.” This is our Alice. And like Alice, Sweet Pea is the only character to leave. The others can’t, even if they want to.
Early on, Rocket tells Baby Doll that she ran away from home, and that her sister followed her. In this way, Rocket also plays the part of Dinah, Alice’s cat, who leads her to where she will find the White Rabbit.
Suckerpunch even has a Cheshire Cat, in the form of a nameless old wise man. The Wise Man first appears in the ninja/samurai delusion. He guides Baby Doll and the others through all of the secondary delusions, making no appearance at all in the brothel. He only appears in the real world at the very end, when he helps Alice/Sweet Pea get home. Even in that final scene, we’re not sure if he is entirely real. He seems to exist almost exclusively for Alice.

This leaves us with our villains. The worst of which is the orderly, called “Blue” in the brothel fantasy, he is the clear Queen of Hearts. He is covetous, selfish, and prone to angry outbursts. After Rocket is injured in the attempt to get the kitchen knife, he shoots Amber for her part in the plan. Then, because he hates snitches, he shoots Blondie, too. Very “off with her head” in his approach to the situation. The other orderlies even follow his lead, in spite of their disapproving of his methods, which we see at the very end.
The Step-father is kind of a hard fit for the Alice in Wonderland analogy. He has moments where he is the Queen or Dinah, but he really seems to fall into the role of Knave of Hearts. He helps Blue, knowing that it’s wrong and not caring.
The Cook is far easier to place. He is the Walrus and the Carpenter, almost completely detached from Alice and the others, yet he is opportunistic.
The Duchess and the Baby are fun. They appear only in the second-level delusion of the Medieval castle with the dragons. The mother dragon, the Duchess, flips out pretty bad over her baby.
Last but not least is Dr. Gorski. She plays the parts of both antagonist and aid to the girls. She smokes throughout the movie, reminding us of the Caterpillar. She cares about the girls, even though she doesn’t always show it. She gives helpful advice, while still maintaining her professional front. She also has a moment in the brothel delusion where she takes on the role of the King of Hearts, trying to dissuade the Queen, Blue, from a violent tirade without having any success.

All throughout the movie, the music is ethereal and surreal, very reminiscent of the trippy Alice in Wonderland. One of the songs is even about Carroll’s tale. It adds to the girls’ need to escape from reality. After watching the movie again, it was interesting to see the similarities.

So that’s the theory. :) I hope you enjoyed it!

Blarg! Life! Politics…?

Life sucks when it gets super busy. Husband is back to work after foot surgery, but can’t stay the full shift because pain. Yeah, being on your feet for six hours straight? Not so good. So he’s looking for a different job. Meanwhile, I’ve been the one working. So I don’t turn down extra shifts.
With the surgery thing, hubby was off his feet completely for three weeks. Which meant that when I wasn’t at work, I was taking care of him. Then he was able to start walking again. He was supposed to go back to work, then one of the surgery sites got infected, so back to bed with him. Could still get around, thankfully, but couldn’t get back to work for another few weeks. Finally, we got the okay from the doctor. But he could only be on his feet for fifteen minutes every hour. Not happening when your job is to load boxes into trailers. So another two weeks. It’s now been two months that I’ve been the only income, and it’s a miracle we’ve been able to pay any bills, because I make half of what he does. (I like my part-time job, though. Awesome hours, awesome place, awesome people. Hubby makes more because his job sucks, and they’re desperate for people.)
The last two months, I’ve felt like I’ve had zero free time. For over a month, we had to camp out on an air mattress because the beds are all too tall for someone who can’t put any weight on their feet. It was murder on my back and neck. We didn’t go anywhere unless we had to, because it took way too long to get the wheelchair he was prescribed. For two months, I worked and did chores, and almost nothing else. And now that things are getting back to normal, I don’t want to do anything. I feel tired almost all the time. When I don’t feel tired, I have too much energy but can’t figure out what to do with it.
Been working on editing Just Your Average Fairytale the last few days. But final edits are mostly reading, so not using a lot of energy. My computer randomly started freezing whenever I try to load WoW, so I got back onto Mabinogi. Holy crap, that game is amazing. I can spend the whole day on it and not get bored! But then I go to bed and can’t fall asleep. Like now. I got four chapters done, played several hours of Mabi, and our voter ballots came in the mail. (Way easier to vote by mail when husband works the night shift and I don’t know where anything is in this town.)

Political section:
So I’ve been looking up the platforms for all of the non-Presidential candidates. You know, all those judges and state-level positions that you never hear about. So, I start by typing in the names of the three people running for the House of Representatives, because I haven’t heard of any of them. First guy? I think he’s already held the position for a while, because I searched his dang website and couldn’t find his platform. Just a bunch of crap about how Obama’s screwed up the country. Except that I know how the Executive branch of the government works. And half of what this guy blames on Obama is stuff that the whole rest of Congress was responsible for. Obama just suggested it. (Doesn’t make the ideas good, just means that Pres shouldn’t get all the blame.) The other male candidate doesn’t even have a website. Just a facebook page, which is mostly about how to support the party he represents, nothing about what they stand for. The one lady running is, of course, a democrat, so I don’t agree with all of her views. (I have a few very republican views, but I tend to lean towards the middle on most things.) But she is the ONLY person running for the House who tells the public what her goals are if she gets elected to the position! Seriously, I’m tempted to vote for her just because she knows how to be organized. >…>
ANYWAY! Besides the usual pre-NaNo excitement, I’m badgering my husband into doing it with me this year. :) He’s been running an Anima campaign for our old gaming group, and he’s written this INCREDIBLE samurai story for us to play through! I tell him I’m mad at him about it every time we play, but that’s just because my character has to deal with a lot of crap. Traditional samurai stories are not happy, and that’s what he’s telling. But with a creepy nightmare twist, because my husband has been into horror for probably his whole life.
The story is so well-thought-out and well-told that it hits my feels hard enough that I can’t spit out a ready-made response from my character. I thought I had her all figured out, and then he throws me a curveball, and everyone is like “are we gonna kill these concubines that are throwing magic at us?” and my character is like “… but that one raised me…and that other is being mind-controlled…” A couple members of my group actually got mad at me for a couple of things that my character did. (Well, one thing she did, and one thing that she didn’t.)
The didn’t? She didn’t try to save the enemy that was always a jerk to her growing up. I joked about letting her die, because she was the only one actively trying to kill the party. My character was busy trying to save the woman she loved like a mother. The healer was trying to save the girl that was mind-controlled. The jerk-lady was just sort of bleeding out. And these two guys get mad at me about it. Not that I made the joke, but that my character didn’t try to save the jerk-lady. Husband pointed out that my character was too busy trying to save someone else, and we both reminded them that my character never actually said anything about letting anyone die. (She actually asked the party not to kill anyone, because they were part of her family.) Then, there’s the ‘did’…
My character insisted on saving some enemies, then went to kill another one the moment she saw her. Backstory worked out with husband means that this makes perfect sense. This enemy was disliked from the beginning of the story. Her presence here, guarding the doors to the boss-fight and grinning like it’s Christmas, means that she is involved in all this crap. Party-members rag on me about how mean and morally wrong it was to attack, and their characters don’t like her flipping on someone like that “because you don’t like her.”
… Honestly? I cried. I actually cried. I get so wrapped up in this story, and I struggle so hard trying to make decisions that fit my character. I spent at least half an hour explaining to these two guys why my character made that one choice that they thought was immoral. (It may have been a lot longer, but I’ve gotten really bad at reading the passage of time accurately.) My husband, who’s running the campaign, tried to help. He basically told one of them that his character was doing something far worse than letting emotions get in the way. (We have all sorts of shady stuff going on in our side stories. Working for trickster gods, acquiring and selling black market goods, being Japanese mafia, being related to a crazy necromancer, working for the government…) On the way home from that session, my depression has already kicked in and I’m wondering if I really am just a screw-up, because this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Maybe I got too comfortable goofing off? Maybe I’m getting too confident? My husband, who always tells me when I’m being a pain, tells me that I didn’t do anything wrong. That they were being jerks, and that I don’t have to apologize, because I didn’t screw anything up. He then tells me that they’ve done this to me before, and I hadn’t even brought up that last game before my mission. (Which is the last game where these two got after me about my character’s decisions. They told me that my character was a bully, because she made fun of another character all the time. Said character was a pervert, and was based on a joke. The player of said character thought that the whole situation was hilarious. It livened up an otherwise dreadfully boring slog through the woods. (Which was that ENTIRE game, by the way.) The incident that caused the accusations of being a bully? The elf that got picked on was drunk, and making a scene of being a pervert. Not wanting to deal with him, my dwarf dragged him outside and tied him to a tree so that he couldn’t bother anyone. He got louder. I didn’t know what to do, because I wasn’t comfortable role-playing yet. So she untied him, and covered his mouth instead. My friends chewed me out about my character being a bully. And continued to bring it up in-game at every opportunity, even after my character had made amends with the character she was supposedly bullying.)
Husband reminded me that these individuals had been jerks to me about my character’s choices in two different games now, even if their characters were worse. That they probably didn’t even realize that they were being jerks by complaining about and attacking my character the way they were, but that it didn’t make it okay. After we got home, I thought that I should probably not play any more games with these people. The rest of the group is no problem, just these two, and only when we play a game that gets anywhere near the end. (Which has been exactly twice, so far.) But one of these two would always be included with some of the other players. And we were talking about doing Shadowrun after the Anima campaign is over… Which made me really sad when I remembered that, because I’ve been wanting to try Shadowrun for YEARS, but no one will ever play it with me… The one time I tried to join a group, they said that it was super mature, so I didn’t join. I asked my friend why she was playing if it was super mature, since she held the same values as I did, and she said that the game wasn’t mature, the GM just didn’t want more players than were already there. (I felt pretty low that day. Not because I was excluded, but because of how I was excluded.) The next time anyone I knew ran Shadowrun, I was on my mission. So I couldn’t play then, either. I really want to try the system, because it sounds awesome, but is it worth risking the crap I may get if the other players don’t like a decision I make? Is it worth it to have people get mad at me, even if it’s a stupid thing to be mad about?

Why I Write What I Write

Most little girls go through a phase where they want to be princesses. I did, and I wasn’t very girly. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t a bookworm, and my first literary love was Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede. It’s about Princess Cimorene, who is bored to death of being a princess. She’s not allowed to do the things she loves because “it’s not proper.” So she runs away to become a dragon’s princess, fights evil wizards, and sets traps for her would-be rescuers. It’s fantastic! And the basics of the story still resonate within me. That book changed me in a way I never noticed until just recently. It shaped the way I write more than any other book.

Now, I write stories about unorthodox princesses, and girls who love to climb trees. Girls who want to be free to be themselves. My favorite songs and stories all have elements of this. My favorite Disney Princess was always Jasmine, the one who just wanted to fall in love and have friends like a normal girl.

And that lead me to the type of guy I love to write. Aladdin is an ordinary young man who doesn’t question who he is. He certainly isn’t happy being a poor orphan, but he’s also not about to let it change who he is as a person. And it’s that “nice guy” personality that I love. As a teenager, I quickly recognized that the male characters I loved most were not the Prince Charmings, but the Aladdins. As I developed a love of romance, I often wished that the heroine would pick the nice guy next door instead of the serious pretty-boy that she always chose. I wanted real boys, not the too-perfect stereotypes that were out of reach for a shy girl like me. And when I discovered stories about the goofy boy-next-door or the best friend, I was ecstatic. At last, there were love interests I could root for!

And all of this tied together when I had an idea. It began with a song from The Swan Princess, which I also saw as a child. It’s funny how what we see when we’re small shapes who we are when we’re grown. The song is “This Is My Idea (of Love),” which shows Derek and Odette growing up together, and the shenanigans that ensue as they try to get out of spending time together. One day, as I saw those two awkward yet realistic children singing about how they didn’t like each other, I had an idea.

So I began writing snippets about a prince and princess who were betrothed as children, but don’t want to marry each other. It was always from her point of view, the little princess who loved playing with her brothers and being outside. And the following NaNoWriMo, I wrote up a complete first draft. She was the kind of tomboyish Princess I had wanted to be, and he was the realistic “nice guy” that I loved best. And I felt like this story, in spite of the crazy adventures, was more “me” than anything else I had ever written.

And I think that’s what writing is really about. I haven’t finished the story. I don’t even have a working title for it. But it’s made of my soul. And the strangest part? It reminds me of how I fell in love work my husband. He asked me out, and I turned him down. I liked him okay, but not like that. It wasn’t until several years and many relationships later that I realized I had fallen in love with him, now my best friend in the world. He was just always there, and it wasn’t a possibility, and then one day it clicked. Like a light turning on. I didn’t recognize it as love until another guy kissed me. And I still want to write that story. But so far, the closest I’ve got is this arranged marriage story. Ironic, since I wrote it some time before dating my husband.

Research

So, my husband and I watched Victor Frankenstein today. The one with Daniel Radcliffe as Igor. It was brilliant. And it gave me some brilliant thoughts about The Hero Project. Recently, I was talking to my wonderful husband about my villains, and how it’s really hard for me to write a truly evil character. And I realized that my second major villain is SUPER evil. She does something that bothers me more than just about any other criminal act. She experiments on, and kills, children. Why does this bother me so much? It’s a long story, so short version; I watched an episode of Criminal Minds that involved the sexual abuse of a young boy, and it scarred me deeply. I don’t watch Criminal Minds anymore, and child abuse is, for me, more evil than cannibalism. It was a rather disturbing realization, and an unpleasant tangent in our conversation.
And then my husband asked me about my other major villains. If this one is such a good hacker, why doesn’t he know this? If she knows so much, why is she still alive? How does he do that? How does this work? Why don’t they just do that? It got me really thinking about the villains in my stories. What are they doing that makes them evil? Why do the heroes care? And that has got me on a research kick. I’ve got three brilliant hackers in The Hero Project, but I’m not exactly good with computers. I know what programs will get rid of viruses and malware, I know where to find a lot of important things in the Control Panel, but I can’t do any kind of coding, and I am certainly no hacker. I don’t know a whole lot about anatomy, either, which is kind of important in the first book. I don’t know how cybernetics work, in reality or in theory. I know all sorts of fantasy stuff, and I know a fair amount about ancient Egypt and Japanese culture, but I don’t know what my villains and heroes make their living with. Which means that I need to start doing research about all sorts of mad science! Yay?
I love watching Sci Show on Youtube, so at least some of the research will be super fun. :) But I’m not excited about researching anatomy. I am easily squicked out. But sacrifices must be made for a believable story.

Anyway, I’m back from the Ghostbusters premier, and back to mostly-normal life. (The prerelease for the new Magic: The Gathering set was last weekend.) The premier was so much fun, and I got autographs from Dan Aykroyd and Annie Potts, and we got to see the new movie almost a full week before the general public! (I think that includes movie critics, actually.) So, I am thinking about writing a review of the movie here on my blog. I really want to watch it again before I do, though. So, yeah. Also, I still need to finish that theory about Suckerpunch.
And I’m finishing a commissioned doll of Sans from Undertale. And I’m editing Just Your Average Fairytale. Like, final edits before I submit the manuscript. And that reminds me, I need to research publishers. There are a few that I know do YA fantasy, but I don’t know enough about them. Besides having read lots of their books. (YA is still my favorite genre, even at 26 almost 27.) So yay, more research!

And, for those super-nerds out there; yes, I am playing Pokemon Go. My work building is a pokestop. So I’ve been getting more exercise. Yay!

Holy Crap, Awesome Stuff!

So! I’ve been super busy the last few months, mostly with work. But I’ve had some brilliant things happen that I just have to share. :)
First is the unbelievable news. I’m part of the Ghostbusters of Salt Lake City, which is one of the GB franchise groups that is part of Ghost Corps, which is run by Sony. (Sony currently holds the rights to the Ghostbusters franchise, if you didn’t know.) And Sony invited our group, along with several others, to attend the red carpet world premiere of the new Ghostbusters movie in LA! We’ll be carpet-side in our uniforms, and we get to see the movie before anyone else! And my husband and I are going!! .<

My husband and I had our two-year anniversary last month. :) We went and saw Alice Through The Looking Glass, which I LOVED. It feels like it was written by Lewis Carroll, even though there’s very little from the original Alice books! And the following week, we saw Warcraft! <3 It was so awesome! I squeed when they panned over the merlock, and every time they showed one of the cities. It was so cool to be able to recognize so many of the locations and characters! Both movies are really good. :) Don’t let the critics stop you from enjoying them! (I’ve noticed that critics tend to hate my favorite movies, unless they’re Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.)

And the best news, besides the LA premiere, is the whole reason I started this blog. I’m writing again! Well, editing, actually. I spent a good three or four hours after work going over a NaNo novel that I haven’t looked at since I finished writing it, and once I’m done with the edits, I’m going to write a query for it and start sending it around to publishers.
I talked to someone at World Horror about getting started with the publishing part, and she suggested not starting with a series book, like The Hero Project, but something that can easily stand alone. And a polished manuscript, of course. And a light bulb went off in my head. I have a book that’s one final polishing away from sending out! I wrote it back in 2009, when I was taking Children’s Literature, and my husband had just married his ex-wife. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo that year, and spent a week or two editing it and printing it, and that was the final project for Children’s Lit. And it was based on my mother’s favorite fairy tale.
When I got home from work today, I put a few things away, found a cord I’d been looking for, and thought “I should write something today. Hey, I still need to finish editing that book!” So I went looking for my printed and bound copy. I didn’t find it, so I gave up and just pulled up the digital copy. And it was already in my Dropbox, so I got right to work. :) Seven chapters in, reading it out loud to make sure that the flow is right, re-reading bits as I edit them, fixing errors I had missed before, all of that stuff. And it’s sounding so much better! I can’t wait to get it finished and start sending it out!

Worst Cold Ever

There is much illness-related talk ahead. If that makes you squeamish, you probably don’t want to keep reading. (I’m not overly descriptive about it, or anything, I just list ALL of the symptoms.)

It seems that getting married has opened me to a whole new world of first-hand medical knowledge. First, it was the UTI. Easy fix, but also easy to forget the preventative measures. I’ve now had two in as many years. Ironically, no pain. The first one was several months before we realized that something was wrong and that I should see a doctor. (If your urine smells funny for more than one or two trips to the bathroom, get it checked.) Then, I got Pink Eye. Yes, for the first time. No, I did not pick it up from small children. We still don’t know where it came from. I probably stuck my finger in my eye. I’m hyper-sensitive to things getting in my eyes, so I do this frequently to clear away gound, eyelashes, etc. My husband was shocked to discover that I had never had Pink Eye before. Now, it’s just a cold. But it’s the worst cold I’ve ever had in my life. And I am not exaggerating in the least.

I’ve always had a really strong immune system, thanks to growing up with cats and frequently playing outside. I also had a habit of picking interesting bits of garbage out of the gutters as I walked to and from school or friends’ houses. And I shared a room with two little brothers all growing up. So dirt and germs are nothing new to me. When I did manage to get sick, it was either so mild that I couldn’t even stay home from school, or it would only last a day or two and then I would be fine. The worst it ever got was when I got food poisoning on a date, and that only lasted two or three days, including post-illness recovery. (I was very low on electrolytes after a day of no food or water.)

It is now Day 8. Eight days of nasal congestion. Day one, I knew I had a cold. A little runny nose, nothing unusual. I was glad that it was on my day off. That night, I woke up at 2:30am, just after my husband got home from work, ran up the stairs to the bathroom, and puked my guts out. My wonderful husband had followed me upstairs to see what was wrong, and held my hair back for me. I promptly texted one of my coworkers to ask him to cover for me the next morning. Luckily, he hadn’t gone to bed yet, so I could rest easy knowing that I didn’t have to open the store while sick. And I did sleep great. When I woke up, I thought I’d be better by the end of the day. Nope! I had malaise ALL day. (Malaise is that achy feeling you get all over your body when you’re sick.) I barely ate, due to having tossed my cookies the night before. Still, I figured it was just a bad cold. Day 4, I even went to work! I wore a sick mask, and everything. :) It was great! I still had a stuffy nose and a little bit of a cough, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I’d had much worse, and I was sure that I was on the mend and would be fine by tomorrow. After work, my husband and I went to our friends’ house to pull some of their weeds. (I like pulling weeds, for some strange reason, and they need all the help they can get with their yard.) We got a huge section cleared out, and it was great!
That night, I did not sleep well. I felt sluggish and my forehead ached. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I recall sweating under the comforter far more than was normal, especially with how cold it still was at night. At one point, I slipped my hands between my thighs(because for some reason, I do that when I’m in the fetal position.), and I noticed that my legs were soaking wet. I remember thinking that I must be sweating out a fever. In the morning, I felt okay. Still sick, but okay. It was already the worst cold of my life, simply by lasting longer than any other illness I’ve ever had. Surely, this had to be the last day. It was Saturday, and the store was running the PPTQ(a big Magic the Gathering tournament). I wore my sick mask and my pajamas and showed up on time, and I felt like crap. Not even an hour into work, I started feeling feverish again. I talked to my boss, who was also there, and he said that if I needed to go home after the rush, I could. So I did. I went home, ate soup, drank Sprite, and prayed that I would get better. And good timing, too. I had diarrhea not long after getting home. I spent a lot of time sleeping, and even more time wishing I could do more than lie in bed and try to sleep. My temperature was 99-something. Not technically a fever anymore, but my normal temperature is a little below the average, so it was still pretty high for me. After a nap, I called my mom and told her how I was doing. It took an insane amount of effort to speak in anything that wasn’t a whisper, and I hadn’t even been coughing much! I lost my voice for a week back in November, but that was due to a couple days of violent coughing. This was just ridiculous.

Sunday came, and I sent my husband to church without me. We’re in the Nursery, so I was not about to go to church and get everyone’s kids sick. So I slept, thinking that I would at least get to go play D&D with my friends. Nope. My temperature fluctuated between 97.6(my normal) and 99.6 all day. And my voice was not up to consistent sound, which is kind of essential when you’re the DM. But I was coughing up phlegm, and it was brightly colored, so I was sure that wellness was just around the corner!
Day 6 came, and my nose was literally a faucet of snot. No, I do not mean figuratively. I mean that there was a constant flow from my nose to whatever paper or fabric I held up to it to try to stem said flow. I soaked half a pillow in the early hours of the morning. It was disgusting. And my poor husband, who had woken up when I chucked the pillow towards our hamper, didn’t remember why it was on the floor the next day. While amusing, I was still not terribly coherent, so trying to clarify took far too much effort on my part and some excellent guessing on my husband’s part.

At this point, I had taken generic sudafed, actual mucinex, and many much ibuprofen. I had done everything I knew how to do for a cold. And on Day 6, we went to the doctor. Not because the cold was lasting so long. No, that was still not too big of a deal. It was annoying, more than anything else, and I was certain that I was about to be well again in a day or two. We went to the doctor because my ear was so blocked up with congestion that I could barely hear. I’d had my first ever earache the day before. (Yes, ever. I have no recollection of ever having earaches as a child, and I remember being 3.) My husband was really concerned about my ears, and was afraid I had somehow managed to perforate my eardrum, or something. So we got it checked out, me constantly holding a tissue to my nose. The doctor was wonderful. Very understanding and to-the-point. We told her what all had been going on, and she said “Yeah, you’ve definitely got a cold.” She checked my ears, mouth and nose, and informed us that my blocked ear was just full of fluid, and would be perfectly fine once it drained, which it would do naturally when my sinuses were clear. The other ear, which had given me practically no trouble up to this point, had the beginnings of an ear infection. The first ear infection in my life. That one took me by surprise. Nothing else had really surprised me much up to this point, including the fact that I had woken up that morning with my back molars hurting due to the pressure in my sinuses. But an ear infection in the ear that had been behaving? Did not expect that.
And that’s not all! My throat and tonsils were totally fine, but my nose was not. On the same side that was so plugged up with fluid that I can’t hear, the doctor found signs of a sinus infection. I had suspected as much the night before, when I was looking at how ridiculous this cold had been so far, and now my suspicions had been confirmed. My cold gave me two out of three possible bacterial infections! The third one, the one I DON’T have, is pneumonia. My chest and lungs are totally fine, ironically. All coughing is due to swollen glands/nodes in my throat and my nose trying to drain down my throat as I breathe. (Pneumonia would have scared me, actually. My grandmother died from pneumonia, thanks to malpractice on the part of someone at the hospital.) So “yay!” for not being pneumonia!
As for the rest, I’m on an anti-bacterial pill. It’s gross and huge, but I can break it in two, and it’s only for ten days, so that’s not too bad. I’m also still taking the generic sudafed decongestant. And ibuprofen when I hurt.

 

Yesterday was Day 7, making it a full week since my cold began. And I was coughing up a lung. And still occasionally feverish. I went to work, but I left early. And just in time, too, since my body was not done tormenting me. I got home in time to run to the bathroom with diarrhea. And then I was fine, aside from the coughing, the runny nose, and the plugged up ear.

And now, it is Day 8. And far too early. See, I tried to sleep early, to recover faster. My body would have none of it. It decided I had been sleeping far too much already. “But I spent all of yesterday folding laundry!” I protested. “I won’t cough as much if I’m asleep!” But my body would not be reasoned with. So I tried staying up. It worked until a little after midnight, when my regular medication kicked in. I was relieved to be falling asleep. But it would not last. No, I awoke at FIVE IN THE FRIKKIN’ MORNING. Which some of you might not think is too bad. But my husband works a graveyard shift. We are Night people. Five AM is so early that my husband has usually not gone to bed yet. Such was the case this morning. I woke up before my husband went to sleep. AND I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO GO BACK TO SLEEP SINCE. Every time I tried to go back to sleep, my throat itched and itched until I fell into a violent coughing fit, in spite of cough drops. It felt like I was going to cough up my right tonsil, no joke. So I gave up on sleep and have meandered here to make an update of my life and a record of this cold. And to this cold, I say “screw you.”

On the plus side, I am FINALLY on the mend. And I am super awake, so I will be able to get lots of things done today, with only a cough, a slightly runny nose, and a plugged ear. And since I can’t sleep, I get to watch my husband sleep. <3 He’s adorable and snuggly when he’s asleep. <3 Husbands are the best.