Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberley

If you know anything about me, you probably already know that I detest so-called "fan fiction" in almost any of its many forms.  There is a lot of fanfic out there, and most of it is bad.  Really bad.  Really, really bad. I also consider these "sequels" to classic literature to be fanfic of a kind.  I take my Victorian literature rather seriously, to a point.  I think I also have a lingering, if somewhat irrational fear, that the (probably legitimate) fanfic-sequel will taint or ruin my memories and knowledge of the original, similar to when your memory starts to conflate both the book and the film version of a thing.  That, of course, only applies to these "somewhat legitimate" published versions.  The rest of the fanfic I don't touch because bad writing hurts my soul.  (And do not get me started on the abomination that is anything Seth Grahame-Smith has ever touched!)

It is with such trepidation that I slowly approached Death Comes to Pemberley by J.D. James.  I only heard of it because they're making it into a film featuring Jenna Coleman of Doctor Who fame.  I did a little bit of research, and what can I say?  I'm more apt to believe an older woman with a professed "lifelong passion for Austen" than I am some twenty-something "ironic" hipster who claims he "took an English class once."

I've only read the "Prologue" so far, and I just have two words:

Thank you.

Thank you, P.D. James.  She has effectively captured some of the Victorian style and syntax while also retaining that spark of Austen's wit and (actual) ironic touch without being outright sarcastic or mean.  I actually chuckled out loud a couple of passages today whilst reading over lunch, like this one:
"Elizabeth had never been popular, indeed the more perceptive of the Meryton ladies occasionally suspected that Miss Lizzy was privately laughing at them.  They also accused her of being sardonic, and although there was uncertainty about the meaning of the word, they knew that it was not a desirable quality in a woman, being one which gentlemen particularly disliked" (9).
So we're off to a rousing start!  My expectations for the rest of the book have been raised from previously.  Let's just hope they don't fuck up the movie.

P.S.  Coleman recently took a break from filming to sign some autographs (in costume!!).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Leonard Explores the Bechdel Test

First and foremost, how have I not heard of this before?!? It took reading an article on Sandra Bullock playing the lead in the upcoming film Gravity for me to hear of the Bechdel test.  According to Wikipedia (source of all knowledge):
"The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. [...] The test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. In 1985, she had a character in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For voice the idea."
I've only read teeny bits of Bechdel's comic strip, but I read her entire graphic novel, Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic for a class on writing memoir.  It was a difficult read because I have a hard time with comic books and graphic novels, but that's another post entirely.  I adore Bechdel's sense of humor, and not just because she's a lesbian and a feminist.

At any rate, I find the Bechdel test to be quite brilliant in determining gender bias in our works of fiction, even while it may have its limitations.  To review, we are looking for works that:
  1. Have at least two (2) named female characters
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something other than a man
At first, I considered clarifying the last point to mean "something other than a man in a romantic fashion."  But why?  I shouldn't have to qualify it.  Let's leave it point blank that these two fictional women are not talking about men period.

I looked through my collection of approximately 210 movies (on DVD; the VHS are in a box in the basement).  Of the 210, only 31 made the cut; that's  14.76% for those mathematically inclined.  Less than fifteen percent!  Of MY movies!  What the hell kinda feminist am I??

The 31 movies (in alphabetical order) are:
  • Anastasia
  • Beetlejuice 
  • Big Business
  • Brave
  • A Bug's Life
  • Center Stage
  • Chicago
  • Chicken Run
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Despicable Me
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Ever After
  • Ferngully:  The Last Rainforest
  • All 8 Harry Potter films
  • Mary Poppins
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day 
  • Nanny McPhee
  • Practical Magic
  • Serenity
  • Shakespeare in Love 
  • Stardust
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • Tangled
 Now here's where it gets a bit tricky.  Some of these characters may talk about men in a conversation, but as long as they had another conversation NOT about men, I included them.  Unfortunately, many of these conversations, while not about men, are not exactly full of feminist goodness.  Many of the conversations involve how to become a princess, what exactly is lady-like behavior, and whatever fashion mandates are happening at the time.

The Bechdel test has its limitations.  I have many movies that have strong, kick-ass female leads -- like The Matrix, but the character in question (Trinity) is the only named female character.  Oh yeah, there was that blonde lady.  What was her name?  Switch (which I've always wondered if that was a pun on bisexuality).  Do Switch and Trinity ever have a conversation to themselves?  No.  (And if they did, it would probably be about Neo.)

Damn there are a lot of guns in this film.

Nearly all of my period pieces fail miserably because the many women only talk about men and marriage; they, sadly, had no other options.  Sometimes there are multiple female characters, but they only interact with the male characters, not each other.  Even Harry Potter barely makes the grade because Hermione and Professor McGonagall have conversations about magical things (sometimes other people are present for said conversations).

It's all rather bleak when you think about it.  Of course, I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or Firefly on DVD; that would have changed the numbers a bit.

My next goal is go through and watch these movies to make sure they do hold true to these tenets.  Some of these movies are still in plastic (what??), so I'll start with those and report back.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bird Shit and Bee Stings

Another oldie but goodie from the vaults.  It still makes me laugh (now.  At the time, there was no laughing).

Bird Shit & Bee Stings (08-08-06)
Subtitle:  Why I don't go outside.

I am not an outdoorsy person.  Even people who barely know me, know this.  I am a house cat.  I like the comforts of home.  I like my computer, my electric lights, hot water, and, of course, air conditioning.  If I could, I would build a shrine to my A/C and worship it daily.

I do not like bugs, dirt, sweat, or sleeping in uncomfortable places.  Yes, I am a rather spoiled and high-maintenance Leonard, but at least I can admit that.  And admitting it is half the battle.  Therefore, I do not go outside if I can help it.  I don't do "outside things."  However, only 50% of this is because I don't like it. The other 50% (okay, maybe it's more like 60/40) is because if I know I won't have a good time, I don't want to ruin other people's good times by whining and complaining and being an all around pain in the ass.  Let's just save ourselves the trouble and not make Leonard go outside to begin with.  At least that's my logic.

I have always been this way.  My mother swears that, as a baby, whenever she took me outside, I would immediately start to cry.  I have never broken a bone, had poison ivy, or seen a shooting star.

But I do like some outside things.  I like rappelling and rock-climbing, oddly enough.  I also like riding motorcycles (riding on the back of said bikes; I can't drive one).  An ex of mine was happy to accommodate the latter.  So one Saturday afternoon, we went for a leisurely late lunch and drive around the city.

Sometimes when we were tooling around, the end of the chin-strap on my helmet would fly up and smack me in the face.  It hurt.  A lot.  Especially if we were going down the highway.  It felt like I'd been sliced in the face. But Saturday afternoon, doing maybe 40 mph should not have produced such an effect.  Nonetheless, I felt a sharp stinging sensation that I at first assumed was the chin-strap.  

But it was too high for the chin-strap.  It was in my ear.  My next thought (granted, all of these happened in the course of about three seconds) was that my earrings were caught on something.  But it still HURT.  It kept hurting, stinging.  I stuck a finger inside my ear-flap and immediately heard an angry buzzing sound, and my finger plucked out (and promptly threw away) a bee.

And it HURT.  It stung.  It burned.  It throbbed.  I had already said, "OWW!" quite loudly.  As soon as I processed what had happened, I think I beat my girlfriend on the helmet, saying, "Go home!  Go home!  Go home!"  Obviously, we were already heading home, but this translated into:  "Please go home now using the most direct route because I am in severe pain."

My ear was stinging, burning; I could actually feel it swelling up.  Every bump in the road made it throb; the wind whistling past just emphasized the heat radiating.  I had my hands on my girlfriend's shoulders, gripping for dear life, her shirt clenched in my fists.  I cried nearly the whole way home, unable to do anything but wait out the ride.  At stoplights, I occasionally wondered if people thought she was kidnapping me.  "What is that butch woman doing to that poor girl crying on the back of the motorcycle??"

In addition to not having any broken bones or outbreaks of poison-whatever, I have never been stung by a bee or wasp or anything.  Never.  Ever.  Not even once, not even a tiny sweat bee.  I had no idea it hurt so badly, even though I've feared it for the past twenty-some years.  When we got back to my place, and I gingerly removed my helmet (convinced that side of my head had swollen up to Quasimodo proportions), and looked at her, and just said pathetically, "It huuuuuuuurts!"

To which she replied, "Yes, well, probably because the stinger is still in your ear."

Aaack!  Using tweezers, she gently removed it from my right ear, and I promptly removed all jewelry.  I also called my mom to ask, "What do you do for a bee sting?"  I had no idea; I had never had one before.

Unfortunately, Mom didn't know either.  She said, "Ohhh, did you get stung by a bee?"

Me:  "Yesss. (sniffle)  It flew inside my helmet."
Mom:  "Oh, while you were out on the motorbike?" (Yes, my mother actually used the word "motorbike."  I have no idea why.)
Me:   (still pathetic)  "Uh-huh."

While this was going, the girlfriend was looking up online how to treat bee stings.  My grandmother was also deathly allergic to them, so I was paranoid about that, too; although, you can't usually discover an allergy until the second sting.  Finally Mom asked, "Well, were you at least having a good time up until then?"

I said, "Yes, I was fine -- until five minutes before I got stung when a bird shit on my arm!!!"

At this point my mother just started laughing, then tried (unconvincingly) to apologize for laughing at me.  "Oh, sweetie, you're just not meant to be outside!"

"I know!" I wailed into the phone.  "But I thought maybe if we were going fast enough, Outside wouldn't know I was there!!"

Yes, a bird really did shit on my arm about five minutes before "the bee incident."  Two things in one day, within five minutes of each other, that have never, ever happened to me.  So when I say no to camping, river-rafting, float-tripping, please remember this story.  Oh, but do call me when you go ziplining!  I totally want to do that.

(Image courtesy of I Can Has Cheezburger

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why I Eat Chocolate Like Helena Bonham-Carter

I should preface by saying that I don't eat chocolate that often.  In my mid-twenties, I encountered my first cavity, making it hurt to eat sweets.  So I stopped.  Since then, any sweet tooth I may have had has gone the way of the dodo.  (Now leave me in a room with a Pepsi and a box of Cheez-Its, that's a different story entirely.)

(Image via

 At some point after I bought my DVD of Tim Burton's Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, I either read an interview with Helena Bonham-Carter or watched a "making of" feature on the DVD.  In said interview, HBC said that director (and husband) Tim Burton told them they all needed to find an interesting and different way to eat the piece of chocolate Charlie gives each family member after he opens his birthday chocolate bar.  
(Grandma Josephine [Eileen Essell] chose to snort hers like a crackhead.)

HBC stated that because chocolate is such a luxury for the Bucket family, she figured Mrs. Bucket would try to savor it as much as possible, ergo she actually just sucks on the end of her piece.

 (There are just too many jokes here.  Please take this moment to fill in the blank with your own.)

For some reason that stuck in my head.  So the next time I indulged in bit of chocolatey goodness, I popped the piece into my mouth and just sort of sucked on it, letting it melt and dissolve away.  I've been eating it that way ever since.  I can't even remember chomping down and eating an entire chocolate bar in one sitting.  Instead I just have two or three small pieces, letting each one dissolve in warm, melty, chocolatey goodness.

The result, of course, is that chocolate lasts a long time.  In our house, that means hiding the chocolate in my office so certain other Units don't steal it and eat it before I have a chance to dissolve another piece.
 (Don't try this at home; your cat could die.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Curse You, Emeli Sande!

Curse you and your catchy song and your funky name!  Really just the song; you can spell your name however you like.  (Fun Fact:  her given name is "Adele," but she didn't use it for her musical career for obvious reasons.)

Your song "Next to Me" is incredibly catchy.  I find myself wanting to sing along, and then I actually listened to the lyrics, and found I was offended.  Let's take a look-see:
You won’t find him drinking at the table  
Rolling dice and staying out ’til three 
You won’t ever find him be unfaithful  
You will find him, you’ll find him next to me
Wow, there's so much wrong with just that one stanza, I need to stop and take a breath before I start.


Okay, here goes.
  • Why should I care where your boyfriend goes??
  • It's very sloppy "logic" that a person who drinks and gambles is also going to be unfaithful.
  • It's also a false dichotomy that a person who is not unfaithful must then be attached to his girlfriend's hip 24/7.
This opening stanza is representative of the whole song.  Sande lists the places you won't find her boyfriend, but insists you'll find him "next to" her.  I find it rather offensive that, again, a significant other has to be "next to" their partner in order to be considered faithful.  I also find it suspect that a person would feel the need to insist to everyone else that said partner is "next to" her all the time.  Sounds a bit like the lady doth protest too much, y'know what I mean?

Oh sure, there are some lyrics about her losing her money and faith, and this nameless man (because, of course, it IS a man *coughheteronormativecough*) will still be next to her, but again, who cares?  Why do you need to prove this to us, Emeli Sande?

Sadly, apparently a lot of people care.  Facebook ads1 would lead us to believe that there are whole segments of the population looking for mates who are "faithful."  Apparently there are so many unfaithful men out there, others feel the need to qualify their faithfulness.  I at first read "faithful" (on said ads) as a mention of spirituality or religiousness, but I was mistaken.  No, Facebook was truly asking if I wanted to meet "Single Black Faithful Men."  No, Facebook, I don't.  Clearly your algorithms aren't working correctly if you think that's where my tastes lie.  And again, there's a lot wrong with that "ad" as well, but this post isn't about that.

So good for you (I guess), Emeli Sande.  Facebook ads worked for you in finding a faithful mate!  I still find it offensive, and I will protest your damn catchy song by not singing along.  Not even a little bit.  I may even change the station (though I make no promises).

(Image courtesy of Yellowdog Granny)

1What do you mean Facebook ads are not clear representations of real life??

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Who Needs a Will?

Plans for the future...
My Unit:  "You still have a headache?"
Me:  "Yeah."
Her:  "Why?"
Me:  "Sometimes my glasses give me a headache.  And I did smack my head on the freezer the other day."  (putting my hand towards the lump on my head)
Her:  "STOP TOUCHING IT!  But even before that, you were having headaches.  I'm started to get worried.  Maybe it's a brain tumor."
Me:  "I might have a brain tumor.  I might die from a brain tumor.  You always said you were going to outlive me."1
Her:  "So you're just going to die and leave me because of a brain tumor?  Who does that??  So rude."
Me:  "I know."
Her:  "So here's what will happen after you die.  I'll get a roommate and live in this house like a nun.  They'll move in here."  (gesturing to my office)  "Wait, no, I'll move back here.  I don't always like being up front because of potential gunshots.  I'll move back here."
Me:  "Are you going to repaint it?"2
Her:  "No, I'll leave it exactly as it is.  Like a shrine."
Me:  "With all my Barbies and everything?"
Her:  "Of course!  And who'd sell a DVD collection like that?  That's a woman-trap if I ever saw one."
Me:  "What about the animals?"
Her:  "Oh, they can stay and hang out.  Well, Doogie will have to go.  And you'll just die and leave me with nothing but books and Barbies and DVD's."
Me:  "And yarn."

1: It's funny because my Unit is eleven years older than I am.
2: My office is Pepto Bismol pink.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Leonard Has a Revelation

Being condemned to wearing my glasses for the next week, I'm already planning on not going out and being social.  I really don't like wearing  my glasses in public.  It's not a fashion thing (although I'm sure that's part of it); I don't see as well with my glasses (versus my contacts).  In fact, no one does because of the distance between the lens and your eye.  But I digress.

Refusing to be social got me thinking -- I'm not really that social in my "free" time anyway.  I don't go to knit nights, I rarely go to movie nights, and I can hear people asking "Why?   You do many things in front of people all of the time.  That doesn't make any sense."

And it's true.  All of my jobs -- teacher, actor, interpreter -- are very social, performative acts.  I "perform" in some capacity on a daily basis.  And then it hit me.  That's why I don't really socialize in my off time.  Because I'm already doing it the other 75-90% of the time.  Sometimes I just want to sit at home and knit and brood while wearing my glasses and no bra. 

So there ya go.  Despite the fact that I'm very outgoing when you might see me, the rest of the time I curl up in a ball at home.  It's hard being this fabulous all of the time; sometimes I need to take a nap.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

And the Winner Is...

After much calculating, counting, retabulating, and the assistance of three cats, one circus dog, and some hanging chad, a winner in Leonard's celebratory giveaway has been determined!

And the winner is...

Facebook user Heather!!!


Dear Heather wins her choice of knitwear from my stash, a short story in her honor, or a commissioned Strongly Worded Letter.  Watch this space to see which she picks.

Thanks for helping Leonard celebrate 1,000 hits!  We managed to do that in just under a month, so let's make it to 5,000 hits before Halloween -- woohoo!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Movie Review: Anna Karenina

The review can basically be summed up in one statement, but I'll give you some traditional bullet points as well.  That statement is:

Most of the time I had no idea what was happening, but it was beautiful to look at.

That sums up my experience of Anna Karenina.  I probably should have prefaced with the fact that I have not read the novel by Leo Tolstoy.  Seeing this film makes me want to read it, to fill in the holes, but then I remember reading War & Peace, and I start hyperventilating all over again.

Oh yeah!  Bullet points:
  • Who thought Aaron Taylor Johnson with a porn star moustache and blonde tips was attractive??
  • Whoever thought they could make Jude Law unattractive?
  • The theatre/film thing was fascinating.  Confusing (and I'm not sure I understand the point), but fascinating.
  • I want every single costume Keira Knightley wears.  EVERY. ONE.
  • Cameo by Lady Mary Crawley!
  • Cameo by Moaning Myrtle
  • Why won't this movie end?  It's only 2:10, but it felt much longer towards the end there.
And this conversation happened:
My Unit:  "When did this movie come out?"
Me:  "Last year."
Her:  "Did you rent it just because it's a period piece?"
Me:  "Yes.  AND because I wanted to see it."

Then later when it wouldn't end:
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it.  Love is horrible.  People are horrible.  It's always the same fucking story.  Will you please write a story that isn't the same as every other fucking story?"
I'm working on it...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fuck Off and Die: A Pre-Menstrual Translation Guide

From the vaults, here is an oldie but a (timely) goodie!  This information is for your continued good health!

In the future, I simply need to mark off the 3-5 days before my period and the first couple of days of said period on the calendar with a large warning of "OFFLINE TIME." The Internet is a horrible place to be when one's snarkiness is out of control. Faster than a card-carrying NRA member with an itchy trigger finger, my typing fingers fire off round after round of sarcasm and just plain meanness. Sometimes I don't even know what's happened until I see the carnage: hordes of innocent surfers and Facebook users in my wake, slain with my deadly wit and acerbic phrases.

Even a website as innocuous as awakens my ire. Some poor user who said "gray & navy -- two of my favorite neutrals" about a dress nearly got the following response:  "Navy is not a neutral; it's navy -- a blue, a cool color."

Another person who thinks they're oh so funny nearly got a snarky and snappy "Way to reinforce gender stereotypes!"

I actually published someone’s hair tutorial on Facebook with the following commentary:  I don't understand shit like this. Why go through all that work for a "not too perfect" wave? You can just put your hair in a giant clippie when it's wet (put some curly-girl gel in if you want), and later in the day, take the clippie out. Ta-da! Messy waves.   And no offense to Erin [my hairdresser] and my other friends who are more hair-talented than I am -- although I think even Erin would agree that my way is easier. :-)

In an attempt to curb the acid tongue, I've started saying things that really don't reflect what I'm thinking at all. Here's a handy-dandy translation guide for the brave.
  • "Congrats!" or "Congratulations!" = "Fuck off and die."
  • "Sure, I can do that for you!" = "Yes, I will do that, but please for the love of God and all that's holy, stop boring me with your endless reasons of WHY you want me to do that because I don't really give a fuck. At all. Not even a little bit. Why are you still talking?"

In fact, many of the statements from the second bullet point are useful translations for most anything said during this ten-day Internet sabbatical (5 days of PMS, 5 days of period). Nevertheless, I have provided you with some further translations to clear up any confusion. 

You Said:
I Said:
It Really Means:
“How are you?”
“I hate everything today.”
“How are you?”
“I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! Fuck off.”

“Fuck you!”
“Fuck you.”

“Fuck off.”
“Off is the direction in which I want you to fuck.”
“Sure is hot outside.”
“Yep, sure is.”
“Oh. My. God.  Why are you talking?”
“Could you/Would you/Will you [fill in the blank’?”
“I have nothing better to do than hemorrhage and be bloated and listen to your never-ending list of bland, everyday life – DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN MAKE IT STOP!  Before my ears start bleeding.”

“Thank you for the information.”
“I do not need more proof of your idiocy.  Stop boring me with details of your ineptitude.  I don’t care!  I don’t care!  I don’t care!  La la la la la la – NOT LISTENING!”

“I love you!”
“You brought me a present!”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“Your offering is displeasing to me.  Go away and do not return until you have something worthy and useful like snacks, vodka, jewelry, a new book, a new movie, new yarn, SOMETHING SHINY, a kitten.”

This Public Service Announcement bought to you by ibuprofen, Playtex Glide tampons, and a whole heapin' helpin' of vodka.

(Image compliments of

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cloud Vaginas and Elvis: Key West Adventures Part 2

The first flight was 2.5 hours long and very crowded; lots of small children.  I am thankful for things like iPods and sitting at the back of the plane.  We both slept most of the flight.  The flight from Orlando to Key West was much shorter (approximately 45 minutes) and much smaller.

A friend had asked me to "wave to Harry Potter" when we flew over Orlando (Universal Studios' "Wizarding World").  I did better than that!  I took a picture in the Orlando airport:

It was pouring down rain in Orlando, which didn't bode well for our week-long Florida vacation.

My Unit and I eventually each took window seats (me in front of her) where we could communicate through a series of ridiculous hand signals, including one that simply means "SPRING BREAK!  2013!  WOOHOO!" screamed like a frat boy.

The pilot warned us that the runways in Key West "are kind of short," so basically not to expect a soft landing.  With my forehead pressed against the window, I started watching the clouds streaming by.

Then the turbulence starts.  I have to sit back lest I forcibly knock my head against said window, and I really don't want to start the vacation off with a concussion (no concussions in 2013!).  It gets bad enough that I grip the armrests and practice some deep breathing.

Finally, it passes.  I start to let out the breath I didn't realize I was holding when a hand reaches around the seat and grabs my arms, scaring the crap out of me.  At which point I press my face into the crack between the seats and say (over the airplane engines) "You scared the crap out of me!"
And my Unit snickers.  And then she flashes our "gang sign" -- SPRING BREAK!  2013!  WOOHOO!

We attempt to "whisper" to each other -- which is really stylized shouting over the airplane engines.
Her:  "Did you like the turbulence?"
Me:  "It scared me.  I may have peed on myself a little."
Her:  "What?"
More snickering.

I pointed out to her that I was watching the cloud shapes roll by.  "That cloud looks like a vagina."
"That CLOUD is a VAGINA!"
"You mean a 'clagina'?"
"Eww.  Sounds like a disease."
"Yeah.  'I'm sorry.  It looks like you have clagina.'"
"Feels like burning!!!"

We flew over the Keys, and it took a moment for me to realize that I wasn't watching more sky, but blue-green ocean.  I have never flown over ocean before.  We could see boats below, and my Unit pointed out that "you can ride on those boats around the islands."
Me:  "...."
Her:  "They usually serve cocktails."
Me:  "Let's go on a boat!!"

As promised, the landing was short and abrupt; my seat belt served its purpose excellently, keeping me from flying into the seat in front of me (no concussions in 2013!).  And then we stopped.  And they opened the door.

There was no "tunnel" or walkway leading into the airport proper.  In Key West, one deplanes directly on the tarmac, just like Elvis or the President!  I had never done that before.  It was a novel experience; I felt like a celebrity, just as the other hundred people felt, too, I'm sure.  And then we were smacked in the face with Key West's humidity, and I started to strip off as many layers (having just left 30 degree weather) as I could while not getting arrested.

We stood in line for a taxi, and got a PINK ONE!  I was so excited that we got the PINK TAXI that I shouted, "Woohoo!"  The cop in charge of assigning people to taxis said it made his day that I was so excited.  So I gave another "Woohoo!" just for him.

(In Key West, many taxis are pink, but only special people get to ride in them.)

We got to our adorable hotel room, and it came complete with a painting that looks like exactly one of my Unit's niece's pieces!
We felt very much at home.  We unpacked, changed into cooler clothes, and made our way to Duval Street.  It was 11 a.m. Key West time, and I was starving.

This is how we do lunch Spring Break-style.

Coming up:  dolphins, manatees, and Kermit the Frog!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Key West Adventures Part One: 
My Unit and I had very different experiences going through airport security when we left for Key West at the ass-crack of dawn.  She was in line in front of me; while I was putting my shoes, coat, hoodie, and backpack in the grey plastic bins, I saw the security guard have her step to one side.  I didn't know what for, except maybe to wait her turn to go through the metal detector.

Oh, but wait.

It's not a regular metal detector, I realize as I step up.  It's two huge black walls, and the TSA agent is instructing me to "assume the position":  stand to one side facing one black wall with hands on my head, elbows out.  It's the back scatter x-ray that's not been completely tested, the one that give semi-nude scans to the agents running it, y'know, the thing that could potentially cause cancer.

My Unit is watching me.  She mouths, "Yeah, I'm not doing that."
I say back to her, "I didn't realize we had to," but my eyes are saying why the fuck did you let me walk into this thing??  And then the TSA agent tells me to stand still.

I seriously didn't realize that's what I was stepping up to.  One of the hazards of arriving at the airport at 5:30 a.m., I guess; my brain is still trying to process my surroundings.  If I had realized what was going on about five seconds earlier, I would have opted out, like my Unit did.

Speaking of my Unit, she was watching me get scanned.  She later said, "Oh my God, your boobs looked HUGE!"
Well, I was due to start my period in another day or so (yes, while on vacation), so they were extra big and swollen.
"Okay, Catwoman," she said.  "I bet the TSA guys watching were happy."

Then I stepped out of the scanner.  The gentleman in front of me still got a small pat-down even after being scanned.  The TSA agent took one look at me and said, "You're fine."  Apparently they didn't think I could fit anything else in my T-shirt and jeans.*
What?  They're not that tight!

I quickly tried to grab all of my stuff out of the plastic bins so I could catch up with my Unit as it had finally dawned on me what was happening:  her own personal pat-down.

A surly female TSA agent began patting her down under my watchful eye.  I saw that she used the back of her hand in places (like they're supposed to so as not to "grope").  It was hard to understand her instructions, though, between the airport noise and her (surly) lack of inflection.  My Unit had to say, "What?" or "I'm sorry?" at least twice, which just seemed to irritate the agent.

When we compared our two very different security experiences, my Unit said the female TSA agent had handled her quite roughly.  It didn't look rough from where I was standing, but I missed the very beginning when she said the lady grabbed her by the scruff of her neck.  Perhaps checking the neck is standard operating procedure, but my Unit's bleach blonde hair is cropped very short; there's no place to hide anything.  She also said that at least twice the woman nearly knocked her over/off-balance while pressing on her back and legs.  Neither of us could imagine being a handicapped or elderly person going through this process if that's the "regular" amount of force they use (my Unit is not a frail, slip of a thing).

Nothing else interesting happened until we after we changed planes.  Join us for the next Key West Adventure in "Cloud Vaginas and Elvis."

*The only other time that has happened to me was going into a concert.  I was wearing leather pants and a halter top.  It was the first concert after 9/11; the big burly security guard took one look at me (and my outfit) and said, "You're fine," and waved me through.  
Perhaps it is time to buy new jeans...