Getting Old and Music

A few weeks ago everyone was talking about WAP by Cardi B. I read the lyrics, even listened to the beginning of it and…was really uncomfortable with it all.

But I have to be honest with myself. Back when I was 15 or 16 I listened to 2 Live Crew… if you haven’t heard 2 Live Crew they were the over sensational band that sang about sex in really blatant lyrics that were graphic. The one that actually made it onto the radio for a while was “Me So Horny” but it was heavily censored to get to the radio. I had the album. That song, even with the graphic lyrics, was the cleanest one on the album.

I think that’s what happens with things like this Cardi B song, though. The ones flocking to it are mid teens to 20’s. Older adults listen to it and get a little shocked because we grew up, we realized what is actually in those lyrics, and it doesn’t sound as good as it did when we were younger.

But our younger self? Bring on the sexy lyrics. Ludicrous singing about his fantasies, the Thong Song, and Missy Elliot with Work It. We listened, danced, and sang along. Even Madonna who was on every radio, every music video station, and many movies, had those songs and videos that caused scandal after scandal. She wasn’t just the queen of pop, she was a sex goddess, and we loved her for it.

I think a large part of it is that I look at a lot of the girls doing these music videos these days and I realize they are the same age as my daughters. I look at them and I think of my girls and I realize it just isn’t the same…

Music videos have gotten more graphic in some ways. “What’s Your Fantasy” had very tantalizing lyrics but the actual video is pretty tame. I was surprised when I saw it. WAP, or even Belle Delphine’s new music is more of a visual stimulant than an auditory one. I actually like Dell Delphine’s new music, but the videos make me uncomfortable so I don’t want like watching the videos.

Objectively WAP is a very average song. It lines up with a lot of other songs out there, and doesn’t do anything new. The music video leverages shock and awe with light fixtures and furniture that look like body parts, and everyone is scantily clad, but it still hasn’t gone too far beyond what every other music video does. I would even say it’s less interesting because she goes to such great lengths to use nudity. It’s like the difference between burlesque and a full frontal. The strip and the tease is what makes it tantalizing. When you’re just standing there naked it is less interesting than the tease.

But nuance is lost on a lot of people these days. They are more likely to bash you in the face with their beliefs then to try and work through them in a subtle way. I think WAP is like that. Young women who have nice bodies and use them to get eyeballs on their product, sell music, or art, or a twitch stream… Use what you’ve got, right?

I guess I don’t like the song, it isn’t to my taste, but it isn’t going to start the next generation down dark paths anymore than D&D made young geeks into Satan worshipers. So there’s that.

A journey to the stars…

September is almost over. I’m back in Texas and I’m already hoping for winter, and miss the rainy days in Seattle.

But I’m healing. We just drove another 3000 miles south from Seattle, down through LA, and over to Texas. It took four days this time because I wanted to see my daughter who lives in CA. Worth the extra time.

Also, I’ve finished the rough draft of Dragon’s Blood. I’m working on edits, but I should have it out next month. Now is a great time to read Dragon’s Flame if you haven’t yet. 

If you’re looking for a shorter read I have two books free this weekend. An anthology, and a short story. 

 
Stars End : Four short stories about life, and death, in the future. 
The Camera : A tales from the crypt style short story.

I can’t wait to get Dragon’s Blood out there. It feels like it’s been a long road to the end, but it’s more about the journey than the writing, I think. This year has been filled with crazy things, for all of us. The world has changed, and only time will tell if it’s for the better or not. And because of a lot of these changes (some personal, a lot global) things got slowed down a bit. 

 

Slowing down isn’t always a bad thing. Taking your time to enjoy the smell of the roses, or really savor that meal, or enjoy spending time with the ones you love…all of it is important so that life means more than pushing buttons. I hope that part of all the craziness moves forward with us. 

Until then, keep on reading!

I have questions….

(Note: I started writing this a few months ago before I got sick. It had some good points about story telling so I thought I’d share it. Also… SPOILERS.)

picardI just watched the new episode of Picard and I have so many questions.

Why isn’t the Dr in the brig?

Why is everyone saying Data is Soji’s (sp?) farther, not the doctor that created her?

Does anyone else find it utter cringe to call Picard “JP”?

Why did elf boy hug Seven? That seemed so out of character. For both of them.

There were a few things I actually enjoyed. Seven joining the cube was visually awesome (though it was a fast let down since it ended up not mattering what so ever). I could even see her disconnecting since she wasn’t actually part of the collective, but it wasn’t explained well. But I find it telling that my BF, who isn’t as familiar with the borg, had an immediate reaction of “that’s not how the borg work.”

The casino planet seemed out of place, and out of touch just like the casino planet in Star Wars (can we just stop it with the casinos in sci-fi?). The whole sub plot of the child on the casino planet made no impact what so ever on the entire thing and just made Raf look like a bad mom, and a junky. I feel like they could have done something with this, like had them make up at the end since she proved her conspiracy theory was real. But instead it was just a plot point to get her on the ship and didn’t actually matter.

And that’s the way the whole thing felt. Nothing actually mattered. Dr kills someone with no consequences. All the borg die with no consequences. The droids try to kill every organic being in the universe…with no consequences.

Consequences give the story gravity. It makes it matter. And the biggest consequence could have been if Picard actually died at the end. Instead they created a deus ex machina and gave him a new body. He lived, he got rid of his old ailment, and everyone is happy.

Actions should have consequences. Without them what’s the point? Everything is retconned anyway, and nothing really happened, except now androids can dream of electric sheep again.

Anyway, if you enjoyed it… well great. Every story has an audience, so they say. This clearly wasn’t for me and I have no interest in further Star Trek. I’d rather watch Axanar.

Back to work…

It’s been two weeks since my surgery, and I’m feeling more myself. I can breath, I can eat, and I can walk around comfortably for a bit.

I still have a ways to go. My staples get removed tomorrow. I’ve started the process of building up my stomach muscles again but there’s only so much you can do at first. Better to be safe and not tear anything. But I’ve made a lot of progress, like finally being able to sleep on my side again, and able to sit up in bed without help.

You never realize how important your stomach muscles are until you can’t use them for a while.

But, since I’m feeling better I am back to working on my writing, art, and a few other things.

First, the next installment of the Half Blood Sorceress. Dragon’s Blood

I was finishing up the very last chapter and rereading some of it, and realized I need to just take the last five chapters and re-read them all, and fix them. There are some plot issues, and pieces that are out of order. A few things happen twice. Time to redo it and make it better. But that means once I get that taken care of I will be done and ready to send it to an editor.

I’m drawing on a lot of my memories from North Dakota in the snow this time. She’s a fire mage, she hates the snow, and it seems to hate her too. But that’s what’s so interesting about writing it.

I’m also challenging myself to do some drawing over on my new instagram. Life for the last two months has been pretty consumed by medical issues (rightly so) and I need to get back into the swing of things, so this little challenge should help bring out some creativity.

I’m also trying my hand at learning programming. I always wanted to, and now I have an excuse. I would love to use my story telling ability a little differently.

But the book is the most important thing. I want to finish that before anything else. It’s just nice to have the art and game dev as something to do when I need a break.

Oh, and before I forget, I do have a new short story out. Impology.

Slowly getting there

It’s been a week since the surgery that happened at 5pm last Monday. I am feeling a lot better already but there is a long way to go.

I had a c-section twenty years ago so I was prepared for some of this, but it is worse just like my surgeon cautioned me. Mainly because it is taking much longer to heal than the c-section did. A lot more was removed, and the cut was a lot longer. I also have a huge black bruise on my outside so no idea what the inside looks like.

On the plus side…. I can eat again. My stomach is still small so I can’t feast on a giant turkey dinner, but I can have a small plate and even mostly finish it now.

I can get into and out of chairs now without help, but I can’t lay down completely in bed, and I can’t get myself out of bed without help. I’m also hobbling around the house a bit more, and as long as I don’t go too far it’s okay.

You don’t realize how much of what you do every day depends on your stomach muscles. I tried sitting at the pc today and that lasted all of five minutes before I had to get up. I don’t dare put the laptop in my lap either, it would be too much weight for my stomach. I’m pretty much stuck on small things like my phone, switch, or kindle.

Sleeping is… Interesting. It’s hard to sleep if you have to go pee every couple of hours. It’s worse on those who have to help you get out of bed every two hours because your muscles aren’t strong enough to get you up. I don’t sleep a lot anyway (my normal is 4-6 hours before all this). I could deal with it. Gregg, not so much. The poor guy isn’t suited for sleep deprivation.

So I have been sleeping for a few hours in bed, then when I have to get up I switch to a reclining chair beside the bed so that I can sleep a bit more, and if I have to get up again he doesn’t. It’s a good compromise and we both get sleep.

Gregg and his parents (who we are staying with) have made it abundantly clear that they expect me to focus on getting better, and taking care of myself. Not push too hard, and relax when I need to. I am forever grateful for how much all the of them have helped with my recovery. That doesn’t mean I magically feel okay about laying around and doing little. I can’t cook, clean, or help with dishes. I can’t even carry more than a dish or two without hurting myself. I’m still trying, of course, when I can, but in a reasonable limit.

Recovery is boring. But…. I’d rather be here then the alternative.

But now that I’m more awake, and moving a little better, it’s time to see what I can do. Like writing on my phone, or drawing some designs. Anything that gets me back to doing something productive.

Till then, I’m just recovering.

It’s not cancer!

The big tumor is out, and I am laying in bed with a cut in my stomach but the tests came back and it was BENIGN!The doctor even showed me pictures of him holding the growth. It was huge! 38cm at the largest point. It also had a huge blood supply allowing it to grow fast.Plus my other ovary was also the size of a nerf football. I think I made the right choice removing it all. He even removed my appendix just in case because cysts like mine can sometimes grow there too.I’m just so happy to have it out. I’m eating a small piece of banana bread this morning, the first bread I’ve had in a month.And when I finally get to go home…. Sushi!

So, a lot is happening this month…

This is not a baby bump. I almost wish it were.

This is a tumor or cyst (we’re not sure which yet) growing in my abdomen. It is 8 inches at the largest point, and is filing my entire abdomen so that I can barely eat, and I get faint when I’m walking around.

I am going into surgery Monday to have the tumor we named Lumpy removed. As scary as the idea of being cut open like this is (since they have to take it out all as one piece so have to make a big hole for it) I am so happy that it is coming out.

The last month and a half has been pretty terrible. It started with my abdomen growing larger even though I was eating less and exercising more. I was getting full faster and faster, and my stomach was getting hard. In the last month I’ve been eating less than 1000 calories a day because even one small egg was enough to fill me up for half the day. Currently I’m only able to eat soft foods like pudding, yogurt, and Avacado. On the positive side I’ve lost weight so once Lumpy is out I’ll be pretty skinny. Well, skinny for me.

The fainting is also tough. The mass is sitting on my arteries and constrict blood flow. If I sit up for too long, or walk around much, I start to feel like I’m going to fall over. Gregg has been good about being near me so that if I start to fall he can give me a hand, and making it so if I’m having trouble that day I can just lay down and he can get things for me. I hate being sick, but he has made this so much easier.

But the worst part until this week has been the medical. When you have a giant thing growing inside you there is no option except to remove it. But while we were in Texas we were on cash only for medical needs. We had insurance, but it’s for Washington since that is where our residents is still. Every test has a price tag, and you had to pay up front. And they don’t want to bankrupt you either so they only suggest things you absolutely should get. So after a couple of visits we realized this wasn’t something simple that would need a little medicine. This was worse. There was a mass on my ovaries and I needed to see a specialist. Asap.

So we packed up and drove from Houston to Seattle in three days. Or I should say Gregg drive. I slept most of the way since I was getting worse.

I made an appointment with a gynecologist before we left, but they didn’t have an appointment available for a week. So we got to Seattle, checked into a hotel, and waited.

The first appointment went fast. The Dr had already looked at my chart, and read that I had a 22 cm mass and realized we had to get moving on this fast. She did another ultrasound to check the size… And it is now 30cm. Lumpy is growing, and fast.

So she gave me a box test to see if it is cancer or not (since it could still be a really big cyst) and sent me across the street to get a CT scan while calling a surgeon to get me in a list ASAP! Dr Keys has been amazing!

I talked to the surgeon yesterday. He is also pretty awesome, and very confident that we can get this taken care of. But he also saw the urgency and got me scheduled for this Monday. Just a couple days away.

I’ve had some prep to do, like a covid test since I can’t have surgery if I test positive. I will go in Monday around 11am and be poked and stick with needles before finally getting into the surgery. They will take out the lump, and my ovaries since they are both affected, and send it to test before closing me up. If it is the malignant kind of cancer they will take out a few other things, like lymph nodes, before sewing me up. If it’s benign they will just sew me up.

So, in short I’ll lose 20-30 lbs, and my ability to have periods (yay! I hate those things). And I’ll have to heal for a bit since my stomach will be cut open. Last time it took a week or two before I could walk normally again.

I hope it’s benign because then once I’m healed up I can go back to life as normal. If it isn’t…. Well I’ll still have some treatment to do.

I won’t be able to give an update for a few days. I’ll be in the hospital for at least two days, maybe more. And they won’t let anyone in except Gregg while I’m there, which makes me sad. I’d like to see my kids too. But there’s always video chat.

Corona has made everything a little tougher. Appointments aren’t as available as they once were, and if I had Corona I couldn’t get the life saving surgery I needed. Plus you can’t have visitors, or even a family member at your appointment to talk about your diagnosis. He has to do me off at the door, and I have to waddle in. Thank goodness I can still walk, though I think the nurses were really worried about me falling down at the hospital today. She kept offering me a wheelchair.

One and a half more days….

What is an “essential worker”?

One of the things I struggled with when I worked at various businesses was the thought that I didn’t matter. The job I did wasn’t important, and I wasn’t “essential” to the running of society. Today we have a whole government that has decided who is and who isn’t essential, and everyone else has been deemed unessential. To have the work you do to earn a living dictated in such a fashion seems a bit harsh, but we did it for a good reason, right?

“Essential worker” is an interesting thought experiment. What do you need? Let’s try a laptop to work from home. How many people are required to make that laptop, ship the various ingredients, refine them, mold them, and assemble them? How about tech support when it breaks, or a repair person? How about electricians to keep the power plants running, ISP workers to keep your internet working, and all the people necessary to make the parts (fiber optics, copper wires, mechanics for the trucks, etc. Etc) that the techs are going to need.

Everything can be bought through Amazon, but they don’t build it. They don’t get the raw materials or refine it. They don’t keep the system running that you need to use it.

Heck, even thinking about Avocado toast and all the people needed to grow, pick, process, bake, ship, and sell the items in that simple meal…. It’s a chain of people and they all have their place.

It has taken me a while to realize that it wasn’t the jobs I had that made me feel unimportant. A lot of it was the fact that management made it known that I could be replaced with anyone else, and it wasn’t my job that wasn’t important, it was me. They boiled the job down to the necessities, and it didn’t matter who did it, they just needed a warm body.

And if it wasn’t the employer reminding me how little they needed me it was sometimes the customer that looked down on me for having that job. The shouts, snide looks, or condescending attitude that said they were better than me because they managed to get a “real” job. And yet they were there for my customer service. What would they do if that job disappeared?

One of the jobs I had was making noodles at a noodle factory. It seems like an unimportant job, but in the first days of the corona virus noodles were one of the first things to disappear from the shelves. It seemed important to all the millions of people who eat noodles every day.

Another job was a storage facility. It seems like a perfectly useless job, so many people just have them for “stuff” right? But I met so many people who had just lost a parent and were storing their stuff while they dealt with the funeral arrangements. Or people moving to new opportunities. Or people who just lost their home and had to have storage because they had no other option. I had so many people thank me for a warm smile, or a kind word. I had people cry telling me about their mom who just passed away, and how they just didn’t know what they were going to do now that she was gone. For those brief moments… I mattered.

What is “essential”? Humanity has been building upon the jobs and inventions of past generations for centuries. Each part fits together to hold up the other.

I think if you feel a job is “unessential” then you shouldn’t go there. If you think they really don’t matter than stop giving them your money. Eventually the unessential jobs will fade away. But the jobs that do exist are there for a reason. They provided a service someone needed, either to feed them, cloth them, shelter them, or just keep them entertained. And each job is an intricate part of a greater whole.

I think once quarantine lifts we’re going to realize just how essential some things are, things we perhaps forgot or gave up for a time. I only hope that this reminds us to be kinder to those who serve us because we need them as much as they need us.