War Paint

“Hello! How are you?”

“Oh, hi! I’m

                    sad tired broken fat a bitch not good enough ugly stupid lost sick
                    desolate lonely scared furious weak hopeless a failure worried
                    wounded broke terrified damaged worthless aching bleeding
                    desperate anxious at rock bottom trapped damned grieving
                    weighing various suicide methods now that you mention it
                    heartbroken incompetent hurt nervous angry confused
                    a complete waste of oxygen

                        fine.”

Homeless in Seattle *Updated

“I never use the words humanist or humanitarian, as it seems to me that to be human is to be capable of the most heinous crimes in nature.”
     ~Elphaba, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Gregory Maguire

Because on one hand, we have this:

And this:

And this (no charge for the advertising, Tom Teifer):

While on the other hand, we have this:

Bryan Harvey/Creative Commons

And this:

And we have this, for Pete’s sake:

That is Seattle’s Federal Reserve Building, sitting empty.  It has been empty for six seven years and declared surplus by the federal government, which continues to pay the upkeep and maintenance of this wasted space. With almost 90,000 square feet, it could easily house several hundred people. Title V of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act provides that when there is surplus federal property suitable for use to help the homeless, it must be provided at no charge to agencies who assist the homeless. The Compass Housing Alliance went for it and they had the private funding they needed, but no go. Denied. The building continues to sit empty and useless and soaking up taxpayer money, and will for who knows how long.

Meanwhile, we still have this:

Read the poster in that window and tell me — I couldn’t have got a better shot if I’d asked that man to throw his sleeping bag down in that spot. I didn’t ask him. He was sleeping there when I walked by.

Incidentally, I went no more than 20 minutes out of way to take my photographs. On foot.

I realize that banks do not exist for the purpose of providing housing to homeless people. But it can also be argued that banks do exist on the shoulders of the American people, especially in light of astronomical bailouts, and thus have a moral responsibility to give something back to the American people. This is especially true when bank-owned properties end up being bulldozed because the banks can’t do anything else with them. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying the issue, but when this country has $5 million to spend on its senators’ hair, well then, I really don’t see why it has to be that hard. I’ve recently seen a statistic that says there are enough empty foreclosure houses in this country to give six to every homeless person. What is wrong with us?
I’ve been told that “most of” these people are unsheltered because they won’t comply with shelters’ policies on drug and alcohol use. Some, sure, I buy that. Addiction is a bitch and I can believe some would rather be high than warm, at least some of the time. But not all of them, and not all the time. I’ve heard the other arguments too. “They wouldn’t be homeless if they’d just get off their asses.” “Nobody’s homeless against their will.” “They’re just not trying.” Blah blah blah. Can it. There’s a saying that most of us are one paycheck away from being unable to pay the monthly cost of a roof over the head, and I’ve been close enough to have no problem believing that’s true. I don’t want to hear what you would like to think they think. Go talk to a homeless person. The ones I’ve talked to are nice people who don’t ask for much, really. Listen to what they say they think.

How do any of us believe people want their children to live like this? Yes, there are children living in this camp. Or there were, before the authorities ran them out, to set up their tents somewhere else, where they will also be run off, to move elsewhere, to be run off again, and so on, until they set up camp right back here again.  Instead of moving people in circles, literally in circles, why don’t we solve the problem?
Seattle’s 2014 2015 One Night Count, in which volunteers tally how many people are sleeping outside or in their cars, in the frozen depths of January, was 3,123 a record 3,772.  180 of those were children. I’ll update the number of children as soon as I get it, but if there were 180 last year, it’s a sure bet there are a lot this year. As Real Change newspaper pointed out, that number is probably low, since a lot of homeless people are successful at hiding. What kind of society are we, one of the richest and most “advanced” in the world, when a privileged few have more money than they could ever realistically spend, ever ever, but we let our own go cold and wet and sick and hungry?

We can turn our backs and say it’s their problem, their own damned fault, they’re capable of taking care of themselves and if they’re not, they should be. Or we can do the kind thing, the humane thing, and take care of our own.

When is it ever a mistake to err on the side of compassion?

Let me eat cake. Please.

I knew of a man who, in the course of a couple of years, quit smoking, quit drinking, and lost almost 200 pounds. I would have thought the smoking or drinking were the hardest but that’s not what he said. He said the weight loss was the hardest, because you don’t need cigs or booze to live. You do have to eat.

I have been living this for the last year. Living it, and fighting it.

I do all right watching what I eat, most days, but all it takes is for something negative to happen, and what life doesn’t have negative things in it? I have an argument with Dream Girl. Money gets tight. I miss Monster. I’m homesick. I’m stressing a midterm. I head straight for the coffee house and my favorite chai, because I deserve a treat. That’s not terrible by itself, because we all deserve treats and deprivation is the quickest road to overindulgence I know of, but I can’t pass up the cinnamon roll because dammit, today positively sucked and I really deserve a treat.  My days are crazy: I am a full-time student with a part-time job, gone from the house up to 16 hours on some days, eating on the fly. Yes, I can prepare my own stuff to take with me but I don’t have a way to refrigerate and I have to get up at 5 a.m. as it is. I can’t remember the last time I ate a fast-food junkburger so I get lots of points for that. Still, I’m not helping myself when I’m eating stuff prepared by gods know who, with gods know what in it.
I do exercise, walking a mile and a half on my way to work every day. I walk on the weekends, or do yoga. It’s not even a chore. I’ve never been a fan of exercise for its own sake, but I do feel better when I get out there and move. It helps the arthritis too. I find it incredibly ironic that when I consistently exercise more than I ever have in my life (not counting my stick-limbed childhood), I also weigh more than I ever have.
Because despite my best efforts, my scale and I are playing on a teeter-totter. Up 5 pounds, down 5 pounds, up, down, up, down, ad nauseum. Those same 5 pounds have become the bane of my existence. Other people’s pounds hound me too. Everywhere I go, the first, and sometimes only, thing I notice about people is their weight. They stop being people and become figure types, estimated weights and BMI’s. I see a whip-thin woman and spitefully conclude she starves herself and that being in bed with her must be like sleeping with a bag of rakes. A foodie posts about their latest kitchen delight and all I feel is envy. I see an obese person and superimpose my own face on top of theirs. I look at even healthful* food and think no, I can’t eat that. It has calories in it.
I keep thinking that if I could manage to lose ten pounds, my attitude might change. A taste of success might help. And then one day I stopped and listened to what was rattling through my brain as I was trying to figure out what to have for lunch, and those thoughts together with everything I already wrote here gelled, and I realized:
Food had become the enemy.
This is not a good place to be, obviously. With all my other issues (and I’ve got ’em), nobody needs me throwing an eating disorder onto the pile. I am still proud of myself for not turning back to cigarettes, but at this point I’ve merely traded one abuse for another. I learned that by tracking, which is very useful. I tracked for a few weeks a while back, writing down everything I ate and how I was feeling when I ate it. I often ended up not eating because I realized I wasn’t actually hungry — I was angry or sad or scared. Sometimes I skipped a treat because I just didn’t want to have to write it down. Accountability rocks, but it only works as long as you agree to hold yourself accountable. You can only eat so much spinach and quinoa before you revolt. I coped with tracking by not tracking anymore.
There’s all sorts of things I can try. I’ve seen the diets. Atkins. Vegetarian. Pescatarian. Gluten-free. Paleo. Any of those might work, or none of them. There is one big thing I’ve learned. Processed junk (read: pretty much anything prepared) is loaded with preservatives and other crap. This we knew, and it’s bad enough by itself, the guck that goes into our bodies, but now let’s toss in the fact that these delightful eats have been pretty much proven to be addictive. You eat some, you want more. Kinda like cigarettes. It blows me away to learn that the food industry is engineering their products in pretty much the same way Big Tobacco does.
So I wonder if the best diet of all might be simply to eat real food, the kind our mothers used to fix. It had real ingredients and a recipe, not Envelope 1 and Packet 2 and directions. I’m thinking chocolate cake may not be so bad if it’s real chocolate cake, made with baking cocoa and flour and sugar. How much more pleasurable would that be, when you have to take the time to measure and mix and fold and blend and create? That would be a cake I’d love to look at as much as I’d love to eat it. Baking a cake like that would be making art.

This.

I’m not kidding myself. I’ve mentioned that I have a hectic schedule. I also live in an apartment. I’m not about to morph into Suzy Homemaker, baking bread from scratch and raising free range chickens and making all my own jams from fruit I grew myself. I’ve never been a foodie and I’ve never been into cooking much either. With the exception of a few favorite dishes, I cook mainly so things will taste better and not kill anybody.

But I beat Big Tobacco, and I’m determined to beat Big Food, too.

As I zoink around like a pinball, reading about everything from juicing to food additives to living vegan to carb addiction, the thing I keep coming back to is the way I look at food. I spent most of my life indifferent to it. Of late, I hate it. The time has come to develop an amicable relationship with it. That’s the only way I know of to transform an enemy into a friend.

So. I will be observing the enemy. Back to tracking. I figure it’ll be good for at least one more blog post.

And if I’m to properly and scientifically observe cake, I have to eat it.

* The correct word is healthful, not healthy, which everyone should know since I published this post.

Photos in order of appearance:
No food! uberculture, used under Creative Commons license
Cake: EvinDC via Creative Commons.

You with the Sharpie, rock on.

I started out happy yesterday morning. I like all the rain up here in the Pacific Northwest, and I particularly like the secret world of walking in the rain under my own umbrella. It’s like being in my own protective bubble where I’m untouchable. I think that’s pretty widely acknowledged as part of the romance of rain and umbrellas, but it is also a fact that an instrument with sharp points around the edge really does keep people at a genuine physical distance. This is particularly comforting if you are an introvert with agoraphobic tendencies.

I also like autumn leaves, and I like puddles, mostly because puddles are hard to come by where I spent most of my life in the Nevada desert and if you do come by one, it’s probably considered a lake and has a name. I liked this leaf. I liked the way the raindrops looked rippling out all over this puddle around this leaf. The whole thing made me absurdly happy, which is why I stopped to take a picture of it.

And it’s called…ta-daaah…Autumn! I know it’s not high art. It’s a crappy little hundred-dollar digital camera.
And now it’s making me sad. Yesterday was the first day that it felt noticeably cold outside when I left work in the afternoon, and with the magical rain stopped it was just dreary and windy and yuck. Pretty autumn days are crisp and the colors are stunning and I love apple cider and then there’s Halloween and Smarties. Smarties! I love it and at the same time I get melancholy, knowing it doesn’t last for long and then here comes winter, which I do not like. Not a winter person at all. I accept cold weather grudgingly for Christmas’ sake but when that’s over, I want Spring and I want it now. I would probably do fine in Florida even though I hear they grow spiders the size of small dogs there. There’s always a tradeoff.
And because there’s always a tradeoff, so it is that there’s always something to make you smile, too. There’s a woman in an ad posted in various Metro buses who looks vaguely, a little bit, if you cock your head and squint your eyes just right,* like the horrible woman I worked for in my epic tale of the Job From Hell. I don’t hate her, because my parents taught me that hating is wrong and futile and I know it’s bad karma and I’ve got enough trouble with the karma I already have, thank you, but whenever I see this ad I feel creeped out, like I escaped and finally started breathing and living my life again only to see that she’s stalking me. Even though I know she wouldn’t be caught dead on the bus because public transportation is for peasants, I feel disquieted and edgy the entire trip whenever I see this particular ad.
Yesterday afternoon I boarded, shook off the cold wind and got settled in my seat and pulled out my book and looked up and saw the ad and laughed out loud. I would never have thought to commit this defacement myself, because my parents also taught me that vandalism is bad, but I’d like to hug whoever did do it:

It’s like Monster Spray! The bad lady is gone now. The magical power of the graffiti artist is revealed.
This gives you some insight into both my sense of civic responsibility and my spiteful immaturity. These are things you may want to know about me if we’re going to be friends.
*The difference is not that drastic. I just said that because I don’t want her to sue me.

Follow me!

Sorry. It’s not a conga line or a super week-long Bahamas cruise for me and 2500 of my closest friends. I wish it was. But it’s almost that good.
What is is, is, I figured out the wadgets or gidgets or whatever they are for my blog site, down at the bottom of this page, so you have two ways to join up and follow my blog. If you’re interested. Which you are, because you love me.
You can subscribe to my posts by email, and you can join me on Google+. I’m just getting started over there and still figuring it out. I may see about Tumblr and Twitter but don’t hold your breath. I’m not sure I see myself getting that  technologically inclined and I already spend far too much time in the cybersphere as opposed to, say, knitting, or keeping my closet cleaned out.

I like blog posts that have pictures, so here’s a picture of me and the Tominator (the Tominator is the one who looks like a guy who might be named Tom). You can see how dashing he is and you can tell that I have weird toes. You can also see surf and rocks in the vicinity of Fort Bragg. There’s no other point to this picture. It’s entirely gratuitous, by whichever definition of gratuitous you prefer.

Bullshit, Kim.

I publish a post about what a waste of news space you are, and now you’re everywhere even worse than you were. An app for your stupid Hollywood game is banner-style down the side of my Facebook page. An ad for your gacky perfume, and I hate perfume anyway as I made clear in this post, is now big and fat in the middle of my news feed.

OK, I get it. You’re rich. You’re insidious. You’re crafty. You will make me pay for mocking you.

That’s okay. Please note that I use apostrophes correctly. I am the apostrophe champion. I don’t know for certain that you misuse apostrophes, but I’m guessing. I know it’s pathetic, but it’s all I have.

I’m not even really that irritated. It’s just that I have a head cold and I don’t want to do my statistics homework and tomorrow’s Monday. If you weren’t everywhere I go you wouldn’t be such a handy scapegoat.

Your making me nauseous. Updated.

I don’t know what it is of yours that makes me inspire barf in other people, but there it is.

I’m about to land on your terrible grammar. Snark warning.

1.  Free kitten’s. A free kitten is what? A free kitten is happier? Feistier? Better than an expensive kitten? Or are we talking about something belonging to the kitten that I’m getting for free? A free kitten’s tail? Free kitten’s fur? Gross.

Apostrophes are just not that hard. An apostrophe (1) takes the place of a missing letter or (2) shows ownership. The kitten’s cute. The kitten’s fur is soft. Kitten’s=kitten is. Kitten’s also=belonging to the kitten.

If you want to make it plural, just add the s (or es). No apostrophe. Free kittens. That’s it.

Except for it’s. There is no plural of itIt’s is the contraction for it is. Possession for it has no apostrophe. The kitten is eating its food because it’s hungry.
It’s not the quantum consciousness hypothesis or Fermat’s Last Theorem. You can learn something that takes less than six inches of type space to explain.
2.  They’re and its companions their and there are not that hard either. Really.

The apostrophe in they’re indicates a missing letter: they’re=they are.

There. Think “here,” location, and at add the “t” to make its partner, “there.” (Same with adding a “w” to make “where,” again referring to location.)

 That leaves one: Their=belonging to them.

They’re enjoying their party over there.

3.  Partner to the they’re/their/there mishmash is you’re/your. Again, not that hard. “You’re” is missing the “a” from “you are.” Your=of or belonging to you. Simple. You’re displaying your ignorance.
4.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda. “You should of whatever blah blah…” Gaaaahhh!  This one makes me gnash my teeth. It’s should have, people. You don’t say, “I of shopped at that store before.” You say, “I have shopped at that store before.” Same thing. You have done it, you should have done it. I see writers arguing that common use makes it correct by adaptation. I disagree. Common use doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong. That’s like changing what time the workday starts to accommodate people who can’t be bothered to get their lazy butts in on time.
5.  Begging the question. Hint: It has nothing to do with asking a question.

“Begging the question” comes from the Latin petitio principii, “assuming the initial point.” It is a circular form of reasoning wherein one of the arguments is used as the conclusion and “the question” is the entire issue being debated. Examples include “Abortion is wrong because it is murder” or “Abortion should be legal because it isn’t murder.” Both of those are using a debate point as the conclusion of an argument about the question of abortion. To beg the question is to commit a logical fallacy by assuming something that can’t be assumed.

What you probably mean to say is, “This leads to the question…” or “This raises the question…” When in doubt follow the KISS rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
6.  Quit making me nauseous. Nauseous is not how you feel. Nauseous is the quality of inducing nausea. The classroom where I learned that had nauseous green walls.  If you are nauseous, you make other people want to hurl.
Again, I am aware that some dictionaries have given in to the “popular usage” theory, wherein consistent incorrect usage morphs the wrong into right. See #4. It’s like saying it’s OK for a guy to beat his wife the 18th time because he’s done it 17 times before and other people do it too.
Ain’t is a colloquialism, not a word. The dictionary has colloquialisms in it too.

We don’t even really need nauseous. The bases are nicely covered by nauseating and nauseated. The nauseating misuse of words has left me nauseated. Therefore, I propose that you have to have a license to say nauseous. Two strikes. Licensed users who misuse it will lose their licenses. Non-licensed users will be executed at dawn.

7. Healthy. Eat healthy food. Of course I want to eat healthy food. I don’t want to eat diseased food, do I? Healthy means in a state of good health. Healthful means contributing to or promoting a state of good health. We should eat healthful food so we will be healthy.
I’m afraid this bad language usage is far too ingrained, even among people with doctorate degrees, to ever be corrected, but it’s going to continue to piss me off, and I’m going to continue to put my two pennies in whenever I hear it.
8. I could care less. Aaarrrgghh! Wrong, wrong, wrong. When you say you could care less, you are somewhere above 0 on the caring scale, which means you do care, at least a little bit.  You mean to say you don’t care at all, right? If you don’t care at all then on the caring scale you’re at a 0. There is nothing less than 0, so you can’t go less. I couldn’t care less.
9. Speaking of less raises the question of less and fewer. (See what I did there? Clever, right?)Less is for something that can’t be easily numerated or measured, like air or caring. Fewer is for something you can realistically count. Sarah has fewer kittens than Joan, but she couldn’t care less.

10. Aweeeeeeeee or loveeeeeeeeeeeee. I’m not sure why this irritates the crap out of me, but it does. Sound it out. Do you really mean to say “awe-wheeeeeeee, isn’t that cute” or “I love-eeeeeeeeee” you”? No. You probably mean to say, “Aaaaawwwww, that’s cute,” or “I loooooooooove you.” I write for fun and I’m all about making up words and monkeying with them to emphasize my point, but make it so it has sense to it.
11. Expresso. There is no “x” in this word. It’s espresso. Only Dire Straits can get away with this mistake, with the bitchin’ song “Expresso Love,” and that’s been done now. If you’re Mark Knopfler, please leave a comment. I guarantee I will think it’s cool.

12. Irregardless. This isn’t even a word. Regardless is the opposite of regard. Irregardless is the opposite of…irregard?

13.  Text language. This is more of a laziness gripe than a grammar gripe. Text and chat abbreviations do not belong in other writings. My acceptance of “how r u” in a text message has become more grudging with the advent of qwerty and swype keyboards, which greatly negate the convenience of such shortcuts. Abbreviations like that are inappropriate for emails, social media comments and posts, letters and the like, period. It makes you look lazy. It’s difficult to read and I don’t bother.

I will, however, give you half – HALF – of a cleverness point if you’re using “ur” to disguise the fact that you don’t know the difference between you’re and your.

This will do for today. I like to spread my bitching out, like jam on toast.

***

UPDATE
Oh my God, I forgot “supposably!” Selective amnesia, maybe? “Supposably” was part of the grounds for one of my divorces. The correct word is supposedly.
This grammar gaffe has altered my neural pathways and created a hardwired response in my brain so that it now compels me to take half the furniture and file for a restraining order. If you say “supposably,” we can’t be friends.
***
Photo credit in order of appearance:
Apostrophe Abuse: Martha Soukup via Flickr Creative Commons
Dictionary: Flickr: alexbrn/Creative Commons