The Sweetness, etc.


I am watching (500) Days of Summer.

And I’ve just realized something:  I am Tom Hanson (Joseph Gordon Levitt).

It is funny, because I completely identify with his character despite the fact that I have been, at times, likened to Zooey Deschanel, who plays Summer Finn.  I mean, it’s pretty amazing the comparisons blue eyes, bangs and a generally cheerful disposition will get you, but I like being compared to her so I will spread it around even if it’s probably not so true.

Sometimes I also like to pretend that I am a little like the character Summer Finn – independent, quirky, hip, free-spirited and untamable.

Truth is, that I have much more of Tom “Perfectly Adequate” Hanson in me than Summer Finn.  Namely in that I have a long and storied history of developing wild crushes on people based upon fictions. Even when I have gotten to know people, I can still project my own version of someone onto someone and carry that around with me for a long time.  Like, a long, long time.

omg we like one band in common! we’re totally getting married!

It is why I am not only still single, but am always single.  The constant disappointment of learning that people are real people and not the built-up, fictional versions of themselves that I have been obsessing over makes dating hard.

It’s probably why I hated Summer Finn the first couple times I saw this movie.

You see Tom jump to all sorts of conclusions about his compatibility with Summer based on non-legit criteria (like a shared interest in banana slugs) and develop a relationship with her that is built on selfish projections, if not full on delusions.  The train-wreck of their relationship is almost entirely his fault because of this.

This problem I have also relates to The Jake Ryan Complex, which is a classic issue stemming from the movie Sixteen Candles.  See, Molly Ringwald has a crazy crush on Jake Ryan because he is hot.  That is all she really knows about him, but in the way of high school crushes, that is all she really needs to know.

He is really way super hot, in fairness to Molly Ringwald.

really way super hot.

In Sixteen Candles, Jake Ryan turns out to be a nice guy and also interested in Molly Ringwald.  He shows up to her sister’s wedding in a tiny convertible and gets her a birthday cake.

I have always wanted that – the guy who you obsess over from afar turns out to like you too and also turns out to be a person worth liking.

Here is a Ze Frank video that discusses a similar topic as well:


I know I post a lot of his videos, but it is because they tend to really hit me where I live.  This one especially speaks to my soul, even more than all the Cheese Monster stuff he put out.

The craving for The Sweetness has been the main problem of my life, worse by far than my addiction to cheddar.

From now on, I am going to try very hard to stop being like Tom Hanson, and to stop waiting for a Jake Ryan, and to let go of the Sweetness, is the whole point of this blog post.

I think it will be hard, but I think it is worth trying.


Did I fall asleep?


Here’s some free advice for you:

If you are a person who suffers from frequent, intense and incredibly realistic night-terror hallucinations in which you become convinced that people are somehow invading your bedroom and using technology to steal your life and/or control your mind, maybe don’t watch a whole bunch of episodes of the TV show Dollhouse right before you go to bed.

Dollhouse, in case you didn’t know, is a show in which technology is used to steal people’s lives and control their minds.  It is very good, actually – made by Joss Whedon, features Tahmoh Penikett: Handsomest Man Ever, has a slew of really excellent characters, makes me forget how much I cannot stand actress Eliza Dushku in most things – just all around top-notch storytelling, I say.

But seriously, man…I suffer from night terrors and have since way before I ever watched Dollhouse.  Not like wake up in another room holding a knife or scream my head of at 4 am or punch the person I’m sleeping next to night terrors.

I just sometimes wake up (or do I?  Am I actually just dreaming?) in the middle of the night, and believe that I see things (wires, cameras, other DEVICES) and feel things (like my soul being sucked out through my fingertips or my arms being controlled by outside forces) and I usually believe it to be my neighbors behind the plot and it scares me a lot.  I freak out, naturally, but I never get up or make noise.  I just wait a few minutes and my mind both clears and gets fuzzy; it returns to its regular, non-terrified state and I realize I’ve been having a night terror but the thing that had been terrifying me becomes very vague and difficult to remember.

Then I fall back asleep and that’s that.

[I was going to embed a video of one my most favorite television scenes involving night terrors, but it wouldn’t let me embed it, so click this link you and it will take you to one of my most favorite television scenes involving night terrors]

In the moment, I always really believe whatever thing is happening is real…so much so, that I sometimes kind of believe the whole situation is real when I am awake and talking about it.  It just seems like this happens an awful lot for it to not be real.  And I mean, pretty convenient that I never quite remember exactly what it was that I saw, you know?  A little too convenient…

Of course, I do realize that the nice PhD candidates who lived downstairs from me at my last apartment were not trying to use dark magic/surveillance cameras to steal my life force.  And while the elderly British mother-son duo who live in the adjacent apartment to me and smell like soy sauce may be hoarding stuff, I understand that they are certainly not feeding wires from their kitchen through my bedroom window to control my mind.

This is a problem for which I currently have no solution.  I’ve spent a lot of time moving furniture and decor in my bedroom(s) trying to blame the terrors on bad feng shui.  In my experience, good feng shui does help to ease the symptoms, but it has not been a total cure.  Truth is, when I feel stressed out about something my night terrors happen more often.  New school year, for example, combined with oh-so-many episodes of Dollhouse before beddy-bye, it’s just a recipe for disaster.

I will have to risk one more night of it because I have one more episode of Dollhouse left and I must know how it ends.

Not so handsome as Agent Paul Ballard [swoon], but Topher Brink here is my favorite.

Also, I meant to write about Good Stuff during Good Stuff Week, like Love and My Family and Streaming TV on Netflix.  Unfortunately, I am moving on to Back to School Week, which means Whatever I Feel Like Week, because going to back to school is hard.  But those are some examples of Good Stuff in my life, aight?

Good Stuff: My Health


Although my rampant hypochondria may suggest otherwise, I am generally an incredibly healthy person.

Plus the truth is that my hypochondria has decreased by many-folds since I was a teenager; none of the diseases I had convinced myself I had ever actually manifested and even I could not continue to suspect that I had a weak constitution when I never actually ever got sick.

As an adult I do continue to spout ideas for diseases that I likely have with every little symptom I get but that really comes more out of habit than any real sense of concern.

Of course, when I found the tick on me in April, my several-days long obsessive WebMDing of Lyme Disease was legit.

But then again of course, I never got Lyme Disease.

With the notable exception of my first year of teaching (two sinus infections, strep throat and a truly heinous norovirus) I rarely get sick as an adult.  I get about a cold a year, and sometimes at the tail end of a cold or when I have a really exciting trip coming up, I’ll get a barky cough that won’t go away.  It will be my only symptom, usually and I am so used to it that it barely phases me.  Plus, since I always get these coughs before and during exciting trips, the taste of Halls Cherry Menthol cough drops reminds me of All-Eastern Orchestra in Pittsburgh, Disney World, Disney Land, Scotland, &c. in the very best of ways.

Anyway, today I feel kind of crappy.  Symptoms are a headache and a body ache and the occasional bout of dizziness, plus also my body is reacting poorly to shifts in temperature. Intense shivers at the grocery store, the sweats when I am outside.

Part of me -the old hypochondriac part – believes that I have West Nile Virus.  This is because I got two big mosquito bites the other day and my mom said, “Be really careful about getting mosquito bites.  All the mosquito diseases are rampant this summer” which is an insane thing for my mother to say to me.  She’s usually smarter about not suggesting diseases to me and my sisters, because she knows how we are.

But most of me believes that this is just a mild Megabug from the Megabus, and it will pass in no time.

I am sure one day my health will not be as good as it is.  Bad Shit, you know?  But for now, my health is Good Stuff and I celebrate it.

Also, to make myself feel better I had breakfast for dinner.  Eggos, Tater Tots, Bacon…only the best meal ever.  Even though I encountered serious First World Problem on my way to brinner:

two whole blocks away, no less!

And finally, all this thinking about how lucky I am to have good health has had this scene running through my head:

So brilliant, I think I will eat another Eggo and watch The Princess Bride now.

On Bad Shit and Good Stuff


I keep trying to write this particular blog post and it keeps coming out cheesy and then I delete everything I’ve written and start again.

Cheesy is not my schtick (just the flavor profile my Monster likes, know what I’m saying?!) so I am trying to make it better.

This is the last time I try to write this post, but I am afraid that it’s going to come out cheesy again no matter how hard I try and I’m going to publish it anyway.  So you’ve been warned.

I’ve been thinking lately about Bad Shit, and how it happens.  It happens to good people and for no reason and all the time and it sucks and there is no life so secure that Bad Shit cannot encroach on it. Bad Shit can be so bad and shitty it fundamentally alters people’s lives – inner and outer- and that is terrifying, because Bad Shit is simultaneously both random and universal.

It has been on my mind a lot.

But the past few days, I have had something else on my mind: Bad Shit’s counterpart Good Stuff.

Good Stuff happens too, to good people and for no reason and all the time and if you let it, it can also fundamentally alter your life – inner or outer – just like Bad Shit can.  I just feel like it is really a lot easier to not notice when Good Stuff comes and shapes our lives, whereas Bad Shit really gets our attention.

Good Stuff is often quiet and unassuming whereas Bad Shit tends to be more bold, obnoxious.

My life has been significantly balanced more toward Good Stuff than Bad Shit.  It is nice sometimes to pretend like my life is like this because I take steps to insulate it.  Steps like wearing my seat belt or not walking alone in sketchy alleyways after dark or using toiletries manufactured without parabens or all manner of other cautious, responsible things that might mitigate the possibility of disaster.

But I know the truth, which is that I have been lucky.

My stars have been kind so far, but all the sunscreen in the world won’t stop a cancer that really wants to destroy me or one of my loved ones.  (It will have to really want it, obviously, but, as I understand it, cancer is pretty good at single-mindedly pursuing its destructive ends.)

Since Bad Shit can come calling whenever – it’s rude like that – I think the best thing I can do about it is focus a little more on the Good Stuff.  Take some time to really appreciate the Good Stuff in my life because right now I have it there to appreciate.

I have also decided that I want more Good Stuff in my life.  I feel sometimes like I have had more than my fair share, and that I am greedy to want more.  But I want to severely overbalance my Good Stuff to Bad Shit scale in advance of Bad Shit that may happen, so that my scales never go too far in the Bad Shit direction.

So this is going to be Good Stuff Week.  I am going to spend some time writing about Good Stuff in my life because that’s the best way I can think of to stop myself thinking so much about all the Bad Shit that could happen.

Also, just to be clear: I will continue to wear sunscreen and my seat belt and to stick with my generally risk-averse behaviors because while I beleive Bad Shit is random, I also have to believe that at least some of it may also be avoidable.


Cheese Monster made me do it.


This happened last night, 10:00PM:

To clarify: I did NOT eat the Floor Refresher Spray

It was only a minor set-back, in terms of pulling myself together food-wise.  In the past three days I have gotten myself back on the right track.  I have eaten many fruits and quite a few vegetables and virtually nothing with added sugar.

That last has been particularly hard since I am coming down off a trip to my Grandma’s, where apart from having had 24/7 access to chips, ice cream and soda, I basically mainlined Starbursts for 48 hours straight.  It is just what you do at Grandma’s, but suddenly stopping the steady stream of Starburst sugar sent my system staggering.

(p.s. I just won a gold medal for alliteration!)

So although I was basically tweaking on processed sugar and jumping out of my skin looking for another hit, I avoided temptation and I think it’s mostly out of my system.

I’ve had but the one quesadilla incident that I consider a failure.

Of course, it wasn’t ME who made the quesadilla, it was my Cheese Monster.  Of the Cheese Monster, Ze Frank says:

And when I get that feeling in my stomach, you know the feeling when all of a sudden you get a ball of energy and it shoots down into your legs and up into your arms and it tells you to get up and stand up and go to the refrigerator and get a cheese sandwich: that’s my cheese monster talking and my cheese monster will never be satisfied by cheddar, only the cheese of accomplishment.

Ze Frank is like my new guru: I listen to what he says and I think about it.  He takes mundane topics and speaks about them with humor and insight.  He has crazy eyes that I absolutely love and thanks to him, I have a name to give the thing inside me that drives me to get up and eat some cheese, which is a thing I do a lot, and that name is Cheese Monster and it’s brilliant.

Of course, my Cheese Monster is still craving cheddar (and feta, manchego, wensleydale, provolone, &c.) rather than accomplishment.  At least it has a name now, so I can work on redirecting it.

Ze Frank also just just just put up THIS video about having high cholesterol in which he talks to an unnamed inner-version of himself that I believe to be HIS Cheese Monster.  This video SPEAKS TO MY SOUL:

I am very bad at fighting that inner voice, but I do want to live a longer and healthier life and my Cheese Monster has been out of control lately.

It is something to think about, and to work on.  I am very good at thinking about things, it’s just the working on them that I need to work on. I’m working on it though.

More areas of my life in which I am pulling myself back together to follow!

Semi-wise, semi-regular


I’ve decided this should be Pull Yourself Together! Week.

The “Yourself” referring, naturally, to me.

You may have noticed that I spend a lot of time telling amusing/appalling anecdotes about eating junk food and being absurdly lazy.  While those are true stories, the truer truth is that most of the time I have my shit together.

Let’s not carried away: even at my best I am not someone you would show in a motivational setting as a shining beacon of How You Should Live.  But I am, for the most part, a productive and functioning member of society, who makes semi-wise life choices on a semi-regular basis.

Except for times when I do not.

Times like when I eat 12 ice cream sandwiches in a week, I forgo exercising regularly, I snooze my alarm clock too much, I forget to charge my electric toothbrush, I stop answering emails, I don’t change my sheets at particularly appropriate intervals, I watch entire seasons of television in unacceptably small windows of time, I abandon any and all creative projects, I fail to nurture my interpersonal relationships, I shower less often than you would like, I go out in public in holey t-shirts and flip-flops.

Other things, probably too, but I think you get the point.

The problem is that many of the things on that list that make me feel like my life has fallen apart in August start out as real treats in June/July:

Snooze that alarm clock for an hour and a half because you don’t really have anywhere to go and your new bedroom is absurdly pleasant for early-morning snoozing?


Eat whatever you want because you have no regular schedule and it is summer, dammit?

Sounds like a plan.

Stop showering, wearing make-up and putting any effort into your clothes because you never go anywhere where you may see people?

Why the heck not!?

Start Battlestar Galactica over again at the beginning because you finally finished and now you MISS IT?

Best frakkin’ idea I’ve ever heard of.

And so on.

As these things begin to pile up, though, they stop being relaxing and fun.  Suddenly I take a look at my life and wonder where it all went.

So with three weeks left in summer, I figure it’s about time I started pulling myself together, lest I show up for the first day of school two hours late, wearing a dirty Ron Weasley t-shirt and toting naught but a bag of Cheetos for lunch.

If you knew the version of me I have become right now, that very scenario would seem dangerously close to realistic.

Updates to follow this week on my success at sorting out the biggest areas needing my attention: food, exercise, sleep schedule, general productivity….


Catch-22 and also an otter


I have been accused of being a hipster.   I am not one.

One item of evidence that has been furnished against me was that I wear fake glasses.  Obviously, I do this.  My blog is named fauxspectacles; I like fake glasses.

To combat this piece of evidence, I find myself in the greatest Catch-22 of my life:

See, I’ve been wearing fake glasses since my freshman year of college.  That’s ELEVEN years ago, guys.  My love of fake glasses has always sprung from a desire to have REAL glasses, which started when I was a child and I would tell my mother I was plagued by headaches and needed to see the eye doctor because I really needed glasses even though my vision was fine.  I would gladly trade my fake glasses for real ones in a second.

But anyway, the main point is that I have been wearing fake glasses for over a decade, before hipsters were even really a thing.

I wore fake glasses BEFORE IT WAS COOL, is what I am saying.

And in an instant, my entire argument against hipsterdom falls apart, you see?


Also, an otter:

Otters, man. Otters.