Category Archives: Weirdness

I’m not your Mary Sue.

I recently ended a 23-year “friendship.” I don’t regret it, but I think the details might be instructive for others who are tolerating manipulators out of kindness or habit, so I’m sharing.

The conflict began when I decided to boycott a Peter Yarrow concert after learning about Yarrow’s 1970 conviction for molesting a 14-year-old backstage. My then-friend (I’ll call him “Andy”) inexplicably took exception to this, and when I noted that Yarrow’s victim was about the same age as my students — of whom I am extremely protective — Andy announced he didn’t give a damn about my students.

If you don’t care about my kids’ safety, we cannot be friends. Period. So I replied, “You are dead to me” and blocked him.

That was the end of the conversation, but it wasn’t the beginning. It wasn’t even the weirdest part.

Andy had a crush on me when I was 19. I wasn’t interested in dating him, largely because his perception of me bore no resemblance to reality. It felt as if he’d seen my face, written some fanfiction about it, and then confused me with the Mary Sue he’d created in his mind. Every time I tried to explain that his perceptions didn’t match reality, he refused to listen and insisted I was [insert litany of flattering adjectives that don’t apply to me].

It was awkward, and I was never quite sure how to respond –especially when he paired his compliments with remarks about how unattractive he was. At the time, I read this as insecurity. In retrospect, it looks more like manipulation: The more self-deprecating you are, the more people will coddle you.

Despite the awkwardness, we became friends — or, at least, I was friendly toward him, and he fawned over the Mary Sue he imagined me to be. I’m not sure that constitutes friendship, but it seemed to make him happy, and it wasn’t costing me anything.

Two decades later, Andy started this weird habit of stanning for celebrities accused of sexual misconduct — whereupon he was confronted by the cold reality that I wasn’t a fictional character he could control; I was a living, breathing, thinking woman whose opinions did not necessarily match the headcanon he’d dreamed up to go with my face.

When I said I wasn’t going to buy Peter Yarrow tickets, Andy immediately accused me of hypocrisy, asserting that if Hillary Clinton or Dianne Feinstein pulled something like that, I would fall all over myself to defend her. (Yeah, I don’t know what a couple of female politicians have to do with a folksinger molesting a kid 48 years ago, either. The logic probably works better if you’re drunk.)

When I asked him whether he honestly believed I would give somebody a pass just because I agreed with her politics, he said something that really clarified the nature of our long “friendship”:

“…i (sic) do believe that about you … . I think your politics ranks (sic) above all, because I DO know you.”

Andy does not, in point of fact, know me. AT ALL. He never has. He just knows a character he’s invented with my name and face, onto whom he has projected wishes and whatifs for 23 years. And when he finally had to confront the fact that I am not that character — when he finally had to choose between the real Emily and his imaginary friend — he reacted by saying something that was certain to end our friendship immediately.

I don’t appreciate being manipulated into being the bad guy, especially publicly. But I also don’t need someone in my life who prefers a fictional version of me to reality, and if he insists on dreaming up fanfic about me — well, let’s just say that I am MUCH more comfortable as a villain than as a Mary Sue.

Emily

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Eco-Saturday: Walk more; drive less

I spotted the chalk message pictured above — an adaptation of Philippians 4:13 — this week on Themis Street while taking literal steps to reduce my environmental footprint.

I knew walking instead of driving was good for the environment, but it’s something I didn’t start doing much until this spring, when the Subaru broke down and I refused to shell out $8,000 to repair it. We still have two other cars, but mine is nearly 9 years old, and I’d like to pay off some other bills before I replace it, so I’m trying to make it last as long as possible.

We don’t walk everywhere, of course. There are days when it’s too hot, our schedule is too tight, or for whatever reason, we just don’t feel up to it. But we’ve started walking to work several times a week, and on our day off, we often wander around town on foot, running errands or just checking out places we haven’t seen.

To maximize safety and comfort on my walks, I’ve found the following helpful:

Athletic shoes. Buy good ones designed for running or walking; they’ll last longer and prevent injuries.

If applicable, a good sports bra. Opt for medium-impact or better; it’ll save you a fortune in Tiger Balm and massage therapy.

A golf umbrella. Keeps off the rain without turning you into a lightning rod.

A backpack. If you’re carrying anything, a backpack will keep your hands free and distribute the load comfortably.

I could write a whole post on nighttime risk management (and would be happy to do that if anybody would find it helpful), but for most people, if you’re planning to walk after dark, I’d recommend the following:

Use the buddy system. One person is a much easier target than two.

Plan ahead. Walk your intended route at least once in the daytime, and drive it at least once at night to make sure you’re aware of trip hazards, poorly lit areas, potential hiding places for ne’er-do-wells, or other issues.

Wear light-colored or reflective clothing.

Carry a light. I like Mini-Maglites because they’re bright, sturdy and double as makeshift Kubotans.

Trust your instincts. If you get a bad vibe, get the hell out of there. NOW.

Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.
Speaking of bad vibes: Whovians, you cannot believe the number of weird little statues in this town. I spotted this particular flight of suspected Lonely Assassins on my way to work the other day.

I’ve really enjoyed walking more the past few months. It’s good for the planet, good for your body, and good for your mental health. Kind of fun, too. You never know what you’re going to see when you slow down and take a closer look at the places you pass every day.

Emily

I don’t even know.

When my sister bought me a set of KISS Lego figures for Christmas last year, I assumed that was as weird as it got. Clearly, I was mistaken, as evidenced by the Lego Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega figures you see pictured above. My friend Jeffrey found them at Hastings on Monday and promptly bought them for me to glue on my dashboard. I have no idea who thought the world needed Pulp Fiction Lego figurines — or why — but that person is obviously a genius and deserves a Royale with cheese and whatever is in the suitcase for coming up with something this brilliant.

I had yesterday off in exchange for working New Year’s Day, so I seized the opportunity to install Jules, Vincent and some other characters I’ve acquired in the past few months:

The Silent, Cyberman and second Roman-soldier Auton have been sitting on my piano for months, waiting to join their brethren on the dashboard.
The Silent, Cyberman and second Roman-soldier Auton have been sitting on my piano for months, waiting to join their brethren on the dashboard.
Doctor Who Titan figures are sold in blind boxes. Someone had opened this one and then -- inexplicably -- left it on the shelf at Hastings, where I happily snapped it up.
Doctor Who Titan figures are sold in blind boxes. Someone opened this one and then inexplicably left it on the shelf at Hastings, where I happily snapped it up. I thought David Tennant would look good next to Ryne Sandberg, whose hand is visible to the right of the TARDIS.
We found St. Francis of Assissi in a little Catholic bookstore in Las Vegas, N.M., on our vacation this summer. I had to have him, of course.
We found St. Francis of Assissi in a little Catholic bookstore in Las Vegas, N.M., on our vacation this summer. I had to have him, of course.
I found Jesus in Las Vegas, N.M. And glued him on my dashboard, of course.
I found Jesus at the same bookstore. And glued him on my dashboard, of course.
I think I got this dragon at a bead shop in Flagstaff.
I think I got this dragon at a bead shop in Flagstaff.
No idea who this kachina is, but that side-eye was too epic to pass up. I think I found him at the Continental Divide Trading Post.
No idea who this kachina is, but that side-eye was too epic to pass up. IIRC, I found him at the Continental Divide Trading Post. Apparently he’s not a KISS fan.

Hope your day was filled with fun stuff worthy of gluing onto your dashboard.

Emily

Random video: Lyrebird

This bird reminds me of the parakeet my younger siblings babysat for a friend when we were kids. They put the bird’s cage near the TV where they played video games, and by the end of the week, it was imitating all the sounds from all the games.

Somebody needs to breed these things as pets. I’d train one to sound like the TARDIS taking off and give it to my little sister for Christmas.

Emily

Well, that was surreal.

Look at these pictures:

merida2 merida1

Now, look at this post from 2006 that I stumbled across tonight while I was looking for my thermophilic compost recipe.

I told y’all Pixar wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of a rough-and-tumble redhead with Scottish blood doing unladylike things while dressed like a refugee from a Renn fair.

Too bad I gave that outfit to Goodwill before the movie came out. I’d look pretty cool wandering around the Secret Garden in Makanda in that getup.

Emily

Folk Thursday: La Llorona

So a weird thing happened the other night. My mom had just finished reading my novel, and she had e-mailed me with her thoughts on the manuscript. In my response, I described how one of the book’s final scenes had drifted into my thought as I pulled into San Jon, N.M., late one night, too exhausted to drive another mile, and checked into a tired little motel a half-mile from the defunct business that had inspired much of the novel’s setting.

I’d gone to New Mexico in search of inspiration that weekend, and I found it in the surreal combination of cold and wind and darkness and desert. What I didn’t realize was precisely what I had found.

As I told Mom about that night and the way it had inspired my perception of one of the novel’s secondary characters — a kind, generous woman facing a terminal illness with grace and selflessness — a name popped into my head: La Llorona.

I had seen La Llorona mentioned once in a Tony Hillerman novel, and I was vaguely aware that she was a weeping spirit, but I knew absolutely nothing else about her.

I Googled her and was somewhat unnerved to discover a painting of La Llorona that bore a striking resemblance to the scene I’d imagined that night in San Jon, where I’d spent the evening curled up in a threadbare motel room, listening to the wind wail outside. Leave it to me to conjure up a 500-year-old infanticidal Southwestern banshee without even realizing it….

In the course of my online research, I made the delightful discovery that Joan Baez had recorded a song called “La Llorona” — so of course it had to be this week’s Folk Thursday offering. 🙂

Meanwhile, the benevolent character in my novel has taken on a slightly different persona. She’s still benevolent, and I still love her, but with La Llorona informing my perceptions, she has taken on a darker backstory, and her benevolence seems to be the product of a tormented soul in search of redemption.

This is what I love about writing fiction: Spend enough time with your characters, and they will eventually write much better stories than anything you could have come up with on your own.

Emily

Latest creation

I’m holding a drawing tomorrow in class for another fabulous (read: ridiculous) handmade prize. Here it is:

I was going to do something different this time, but the last sock monkey went over so well that I decided to put together another one. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but its arms are “tattooed” with images of flying pigs that look vaguely like something Matt Groening would come up with.

I think the weirdness coefficient is high enough to endear this little character to most of my students….

Emily