Why Everything Sucks

I couldn't have said it better myself. I don't think anyone could say it better.

"It became fashionable and desirable to be young and to be stupid." ~Craig Ferguson, 21 July 2009 Opening Monologue

I Think I Should Play Me

"Who's going to play me? I think I should play me." ~Adaptation, Film (2002)

I have been trying to determine for quite some time which fictional character I would want to be … or which ones more closely represent the me that I am. This process actually began before I published the lists of fictional places
I want to visit and those you can’t pay me to visit and will be my final (maybe) entry in what somehow became a short little series.

I considered, at some point, listing those fictional characters with whom I have been infatuated, but I covered that subject last year when I created
this mosaic. It is a fairly accurate list minus the noticeable absence of Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly who was omitted in an obvious moment of insanity. There were only nine in that mosaic, so we’ll add Mal at the top of that list and consider it complete. Ta da! That was easy.

I wish selecting my own representation of fictional characters was as simple. Let me begin by confessing that none of Jane Austen’s heroines made the list. I came to the Austen party late in life. I thought reading Austen was too “girlie” for me. But, as an English Literature major in university, it was inevitable that I would find myself with one of her six novels in hand … eventually. Now I own them all. I started with Persuasion (still my favorite) and found myself an Austen convert. There are a number of online “Which Austen Heroine Are You?” quizzes. Confession: I have taken several of them and the answer is always the same. Elizabeth Bennett. On some levels, Lizzie and I are very much alike (beyond sharing the same name). She is headstrong, quick tempered, witty, independent and honest. I carry those characteristics as well; however, I also tend to be very stoic, practical, and firmly ensconced in responsibility … much like Elinor Dashwood. Truthfully, I find several things in common between myself and most Austen heroines with the exception of Emma. No, there is no part of me in Emma. Thank goodness.

After much deliberation, here is my final current list of fictional characters I would love to be OR those who could, quite easily, be me.

10. She-Ra the Princess of Power
Cartoon Character: He-Man Universe

I’ve always said my superpower would be the ability to speak to animals. Well, Princess Adora (aka: She-Ra) has that power … telepathically, of course. I was one of those girls that wanted to be He-Man until his twin sister, She-Ra, was introduced to the cartoon world. She has superhuman speed and is also able to heal by touch. And, like He-Man, she has her own sword. This one: The Sword of Protection. (In truth, I had difficulty choosing between She-Ra and Cheetara from Thundercats. Both of them almost made the list, but it was not meant to be.)

9. Ahsoka Tano
Saga Character: Star Wars - The Clone Wars

Yes, she is Anakin Skywalker’s (aka: Darth Vader) padawan, but she is spunky, determined, aggressive, talented, mouthy, and reckless. Not to mention, I needed an excuse to be a Jedi … even only one in training … and the personality fits.

8. Commander T’Pol
Saga Character: Star Trek - Enterprise

Let’s forget for a moment that T’Pol is the science officer onboard Enterprise and that science was one of my worst subjects. Let’s also forget that she is Vulcan and I’m not terribly logical most of the time. Over-analytical? Yes. Logical. Not so much. She is actually much more emotional than the average Vulcan. I, on the other hand, tend to be more stoic and less emotional (on the surface) than the average human female. Perhaps our personalities meet somewhere in the middle. T’Pol is seen in the Vulcan community as a rebel, especially for the curiosity she exhibits in regard to human culture and emotions.

7. Josephine (Jo) March
Literary Character: Little Women by Louisa Ma Alcott

“Jo is independent, tempestuous, vivacious, clever, and self-confident. She struggles throughout the story to learn to control her temper and her tendency to hold a grudge. She is a tomboy who is more interested in reading and playing games than in primping or gossiping with girls her age.” ~enotes.com (They said it better than I can.) Again, sound like anyone you know?

6. Honey Ryder
Literary/Movie Character: Dr. No by Ian Fleming

In the book she’s Honeychile Rider. In the movie she’s Honey Ryder. Either way, she is the iconic Bond girl. Like many of the characters on this list she is independent and headstrong. I like that.

5. Selene
Movie Character: Underworld

Oh, come on … this is me. You had to know I would choose to be a vampire true immortal somewhere along the way. The name “Selene” originates in Greek mythology. She is the titan goddess of the moon. Ironic, as Selene is a vampire in the movies and not a lycan. Anyway … Selene is an emotionally strong character, proficient in weaponry and often exhibits superhuman traits such as super strength. She is a warrior. She also has a heart that she has guarded for an untold amount of time until Michael the vampire/lycan hybrid enters her life and she falls in love. Of course, I know no one close to me who seriously guards her heart.

4. Black Cat
Comic Book Character: Marvel Comics

Her name is Felicia Hardy and, much like my favorite comic character Bruce Wayne/Batman, she has no superpowers. Well, in the beginning she had no superpowers (long story). She trains her body, uses her own wits and ingenuity and has great gadgets. She is also a semi-reformed thief. I won’t delve into her history but she is an awesome anti-heroic character: streetwise, strong and a wee bit morally ambiguous. And … she has my eyes.

3. Beatrice
Literary Character: "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare

Methinks Shakespeare liked his women sassy. Beatrice may not be his most in depth female character, but she is the wittiest. She is sarcastic and jaded and lively. A master of quick wit she uses masterful word artillery against Benedick in their brilliant verbal sparring that is, without question, the highlight of the play. But, behind Beatrice’s laughing eyes and witty mouth hides a woman capable of loving deeply, as well as a woman with an incredibly fierce temper. Sound familiar?

2. Éowyn of Rohan
Literary Character: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

A Shieldmaiden of Rohan, Éowyn is one of the great literary tomboys. She feels trapped in her life of nobility and longs for glory and honor … which she eventually earns by disguising herself as a man and joining the Battle of Pelennor Fields where she defeats the Witch-King.

"But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him." ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

I have claimed to “be” Éowyn since I first read The Lord of the Rings in junior high. We have much in common and I often feel caged by female responsibility … longing for something more. In the beginning, I took issue with the casting of Miranda Otto for the films. But, she has grown on me and I feel she brings authenticity to the character.

1. Lara Croft
Video Game Character: Tomb Raider

Let me be honest. I might give up my first born child to have the body that Angelina Jolie was sporting in the first Tomb Raider movie. I’d be tempted, but that isn’t all I want. Characteristically Lara is strong-willed, brave, super confident, a risk taker, and completely bad ass. Born into English nobility she is also well-educated, worldly, shrewd and bloody brilliant … traveling around the world
plundering in search of archaeological treasures and ancient civilizations. Do I want her life? Absolutely.

I’m done. Whew. Runners-up: Buffy Summers (Buff the Vampire Slayer) and Zoe Washburne (Firefly) came so close (as in they were on the list and then I took them off) but I had to limit the list to a top ten and not a top twelve.

Of course, in the end, it’s always better to be one’s authentic self. Don’t you think?

“The authentic self is the soul made visible.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Operation Skinny Bitch

Good title, huh? I think so. Unfortunately, I can’t claim credit for it. That honor goes to the lovely Andrea of Gathering Dust … a woman of like mind and fellow female watcher of sporting events … who penned a tweet one day with those very words and I was inspired.

“Inspired to do what?” you ask. Inspired to get healthy and, in doing so, to rediscover myself.

Truthfully, I’ve been inspired for a while. But, inspiration is not always enough … evidenced by my complete lack of motivation. Pitiful excuse. Excuses: I have a lot of them.

A brief picture (please forgive the photo quality) story:

Once upon a time there was a skinny young tomboy who loved sports.

That skinny tomboy became a skinny junior-high athlete …

… and, in turn, she developed into a skinny (yet muscular) teenager … who still loved sports … lived sports … breathed sports.

A little history beyond the above photographs is needed, I believe. This will read a bit along the lines of bragging rights but, damn it … I didn’t brag back then. Why shouldn’t I do it now? Let’s see … 7th grade through 12th grade should do it. My 10th grade year will be noticeably absent from all mention as I was in the United States that year and I chose to not participate in any school sports.

Basketball (my least accomplished sport)
Position: Guard or Point Guard
7th – Junior High Team (1st year picking up a basketball.)
8th – Junior High Team
9th – Junior High Team
11th – Junior Varsity Team
12th – Varsity Team

Field Hockey (my passion)
Right Wing
9th – Junior Varsity Team (1st year picking up a hockey stick.)
11th – Varsity Team
12th – Varsity Team

Track (my natural gift)
Events: 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles, high jump, long jump, 4 x 100m relay … and wherever else coach chose to plug me in on any given track meet day … except long distance. Not only did I not have the stamina to run anything longer than a 400m, but even I wasn’t stupid enough to run long distance against the Kenyan schools.
7th – Junior High Team
8th – Junior High Team
9th – Varsity Team
11th – Varsity Team *Captain
12th – Varsity Team *Captain

There you have it. The story continues ...

Eventually, and far too early in life, she got knocked up … got married … had children … got divorced. Life (and one particular bed-ridden pregnancy) took its toll.

[Stare at this spot long enough and you might see a full picture of me as I am today. Pffffft! Like hell.]

I am … *ahem* … full figured. No, I don’t exaggerate and I am miserable. I have been for years. All my attempts at losing the extra weight (and I’m not talking about 10 pounds here) were epic failures. On top of my half-hearted attempts is the undeniable fact that my bipolar medication (and pretty much all bipolar meds on the market today) causes weight gain … often substantial. For a long period of time maintaining my current weight without putting on medicinally induced pounds became the main issue at hand.

About three years ago I finally joined a gym and actually began to make some progress. But then, I found myself (by my own choice, mind you) a single mother with one income and a very strict budget that left no room for gym dues. What progress I had made … vanished in a couple of months.

So, here I am. My circumstances haven’t changed. I’m still a big girl. I’m still a single, working mother. I’m still … so bloody miserable. Hence, the commencement of Operation Skinny Bitch. Now, I am realistic. I have no intention of ever being as tiny as I was in high school. Truthfully, I don’t want to be that small. The word “skinny” to me conjures up images of anorexic and emaciated women. Likewise, I don’t really think of myself as a “bitch” … but we all have our moments, right? The point is this: I think I finally hit my breaking point. No more complaining. No more blaming anything and everything but me. Circumstances may have led me to be this way, but I am 100% at fault for not working harder to overcome the effects of those circumstances. No more bullshit excuses.

A lovely friend here in town is close enough to me that she can see through my smiles and my sassy attitude. She knows I am in pain and, in a moment of wondrous generosity, signed me up and paid for the first month of my membership at one of the local gyms … and I have been going … and I had almost forgotten exactly how much I LOVE exercise. I love how it makes me feel. I love to sweat. And … I hope I can eventually love the results. Subsequent monthly dues, however, are my responsibility so I must decide what to give up in order to give this gift to myself. With this quest has come a new found will power in regard to food. Oh, I am no glutton. I ate more in high school than I do now, but I haven’t necessarily been eating the best things for me. That’s changing and it means an entirely new lifestyle for me.

I know this body does not define who I am. No, it does not. Yet, I allow it to affect how I portray myself … and that is a travesty. I have to find her again: the confident athlete. I can do this. I have to do this. I need this. Failure is not an option.

“I am not a has-been. I am a will be.” ~Lauren Bacall

Patriot Found

If you know or have read
my history then you realize that, with good reason, I don’t always feel particularly American. And, yet, I possess enough knowledge and wisdom to know I would never abandon or give up my U.S. citizenship. It is an interesting internal conflict. I love the country where I was born and currently reside and, yet, I am often embarrassed or angered by her people or her actions toward one another and the rest of the planet. However, there are moments both profound and frivolous that illicit deeply sincere patriotic feelings within me. Strangely, July 4th … Independence Day … today (or any other year) is not one of those moments. I don’t particularly care for parades. Hot dogs are disgusting. And, I would gladly bid a fond farewell to fireworks for the rest of recorded time.

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” ~Erma Bombeck

Traditional Fourth of July celebrations just don’t “do it” for me. What does? Well, I’m glad you asked.

My senior year of high school I chose to take American Government as an elective class. Yes, I was still in Kenya. It was, however, an election year. I would graduate from high school in July. In August I would turn 18 (voting age) and be in the United States for university. When November came … I would vote and I was not going in blind. I wanted to understand how the system worked. I wanted to know, without doubt, what made America great and for what, exactly, I was voting. I did vote that year and I have voted in every subsequent major election. I will not take that privilege for granted. And, without fail, I shed a tear or two as I am leaving my local polling station. In that moment … when I have just cast my ballot … despite the outcome … I am damn proud to be an American.

“To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.” ~Louis L'Amour

Sporting Events
A lifetime ago I used to be an athlete and I am, by nature, I highly competitive individual. Greatness in sport is a wonder to behold. The Olympics, in particular, bring out the patriot in me. I am not alone. Look at how we Americans have rallied behind Jesse Owens, Mary Lou Retton, Carl Lewis, Michael Phelps or the 1980 U.S. Ice Hockey Team … Miracle on Ice.

Movie Speeches
Screenwriters are geniuses. Enough said.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Film (1939)

Independence Day, Film (1996)

Don’t scoff until you have seen a bald eagle up close … in the wild. Or, even more relevant, when you witness the release of an eagle that was injured and rehabilitated … and share in the freedom it experiences as it spreads its wings fully for the first time in many months and soars into the sky.

Our Military
Have you ever been in an airport when a unit, or even five or six soldiers, stepped off an airplane and was greeted by a few smattering claps that slowly built into a full-blown applause as they proceeded through the airport terminal? I have. It was one of the most profound moments of my life. Forget the politics behind how we, as Americans, end up in conflicts around the globe. My heart cries out every time an American soldier dies protecting our freedom or protecting those who have no one else to protect them. I almost enrolled in the army after my first year of college. In retrospect, I should have done so. I think other countries are right about mandatory military service. There would be more benefits than drawbacks to every able bodied man and woman in this country spending two years in their military branch of choice once turning eighteen. [Please refrain from the hate mail. This is just an opinion.]

In truth, “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood gets me. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of country music but I can sing the lyrics to Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” as well. But, it would be remiss of me ... on this day … if I did not give you this:

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to my fellow Americans.
Remember: We are all in this together.

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” ~William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America


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