hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-04-22 03:26 pm

Game of What the Fuck is Happening Here?

This post is going to have spoilers so if you haven't seen the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, just keep on scrolling.
cut for spoilers )
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-04-21 03:41 am

diseases, anniversaries

this has been getting a lot of traction on my FB feed lately, the gist of it is painting children's as evil monsters who are destroying a kid's family and health over a debatable diagnosis. i doubt we know the whole story, but the whole case just makes me uncomfortable.

right about now, seven years ago, i got diagnosed with mastocytosis. getting there was a tremendous undertaking that was constantly trainwrecked by bad doctors who misread tests, ignored pathology findings, ignored symptoms and instead went down paths that suited their own specialty. it was seriously insane. within a short time period i had doctors telling me i had grave's disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, failure to thrive, anxiety disorder, pretty much it just got to the point where it felt like doctors were throwing darts at a wall and just picking whatever they felt could stick. one of the biggest problems was that i was being sent to a ton of specialists and each specialist wanted to be the one to fix me, because that is what doctors do, that is what they want to do, they want to fix broken things.

i wrote about it at first, though hesitantly and generally in a white washed manner because i didn't want to really express the hysteria that was going on in my mind. i remember when one of my doctors gave me the diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy, sitting up with ethan for hours, reading every medical journal i could get my hands on, every report about epilepsy and sobbing that it -wasn't- the right diagnosis, that it barely made sense to me, that i knew that it wasn't right, in my gut, in my brain, i knew that wasn't what was wrong (and rereading the criteria for it now, she was really fucking reaching with that one). but neurology was her specialty and she was trying to find a neurological explanation for what was happening to me and since i had a lesion on my temporal lobe (which would later be explained by the correct diagnosis), went with that, since the testing for MS that i'd had had come back negative (and eventually the testing for epilepsy would too). i remember the day she told me she thought i had epilepsy, excitedly showing her resident that a bump on my hand would react if touched, telling the resident it was something called a darier's sign. i'd never heard of it before but it seemed sort of inconsequential at the time...i was having these weird episodes where i felt like i was choking, my heart felt like it was going to explode, my nose would start bleeding, and i felt like i was going to die, so i didn't really care if my skin seemed particularly, years earlier i'd had a similar lesion tested by a dermatologist who determined that it wasn't skin cancer (which was the concern since i'd had a few bad burns and am pretty pale and have a family history of skin cancers), but that it did have an abnormally high number of mast cells in it but it was probably nothing and she could laser the remaining ones off if i was concerned about the aesthetic impact that had on my when it was pointed out that i still had weirdly reactive bumps on my skin, i didn't care, someone had already said they weren't a big deal.

and of course, in the long run, that overlooked symptom ended up being the first one that, when i saw the -right- doctor, was the one that got me on track to getting a diagnosis that wasn't based on trying to cobble unrelated symptoms together, something that would get discovered a few days later by a (thankfully different) dermatologist i saw randomly for something else, but i've gone into that story a bunch of times and it doesn't bear repeating.

rereading my journal from that time period, i'd stopped writing about all my doctor appointments and all the tests that were being run because i felt like i was going insane. while my health had never been particularly good, it had exploded that spring, into a downward spiral that no one could adequately explain, just throw darts around and try to find something that made sense. i was tired of saying "we think we found an answer" only to follow it up with "oh nevermind, false alarm" because the whole process was so tiring. going on medications that made me worse was so tiring, being sick was so tiring, having all sorts of invasive procedures was tiring, and after every failed appointment, every frustrated specialist, every night in the ER, i was becoming more and more convinced that i was losing my mind.

then i randomly saw the right doctor who was able to see the entire picture and present me with the correct answer, one that has been, for the past 7 years, indisputable. every thrown dart hit a bullseye. it was no longer trying to cobble pieces of different puzzles together, it was real, it was incurable, but it was over. i can't say i was happy, but i was relieved. though in hindsight i can't say i'm not angry. -2- separate doctors had confirmation that i had some abnormal amount of reactive mast cells (the dermatologist who offered to laser them off as if my only concerns were cosmetic, and the neurologist who excitedly showed the darier's sign to her resident) but instead of looking at the whole picture, they focused on neurology and aesthetics respectively. if either one of them had been willing to actually think outside of their boxes, they could have put the picture together, but they didn't. they were short sighted by their specialties.

this was -nothing- compared to when i had to go through some psychological testing later on down the road for SSDI. this is par for the course for the hearing and of course you see a court appointed psychologist and take a standardized test to determine what's wrong with you. they don't talk to you, they don't look at your medical chart, you just take a standardized test, after which they interview you. when i got the results back, i was literally told that i suffered from a somatoform disorder that was responsible for the exact same symptoms that were textbook for the bone marrow disorder that i had, a disease that was confirmed through blood, skin, urine, and bone marrow testing, a disease that i clearly had, there was absolutely no room for interpretation. so somehow, ignoring the fact that getting diagnosed with mastocytosis takes on average -10 years- from onset of initial symptoms, i was told that up until the day of my diagnosis, my symptoms were purely psychological and that somehow I just managed to manifest the exact set of symptoms for a disease i'd never heard of, that practically no one had heard of, and that once i was diagnosed with the physical ailment, i was somehow cured of my somatoform issues.

-this- specifically is what creeps me out about the case in the link i posted above. i literally had a doctor tell me that while the mastocytosis remained undiagnosed, the symptoms it caused were solely psychological, even though i had mastocytosis during that time period, it just happened to be undiagnosed. HOW DOES THAT WORK? i'd never heard of masto before i was diagnosed with it, i didn't go doctor hunting trying to find one that would diagnose me with some other mast cell disorder that defies pathology (it exists, it's called MCAD) it was literally someone saying to me, with the utmost amount of confidence that I was totally healthy until I wasn't and that the fact that i was symptomatic prior to diagnosis was totally unrelated to the disease i was diagnosed with. that the -day- i was diagnosed was the day that i became physically ill and that everything else prior to that was essentially coincidental. that i manifested symptoms for a disease that i didn't even know that i had.

that's really fucking scary when you think about it. at least in my case, i was a grown woman with a pack of doctors behind me who called bullshit on that and did so very quickly. but if i was a kid? if i didn't have someone as amazingly supportive as ethan to have my back during the whole thing? it would be a nightmare. honestly, it was a nightmare, because i felt judged, i started to second guess everything, even though my bone marrow clearly spells out that i have, and have had for a while, a pretty serious physical ailment. but some standardized test said differently and that scared the hell out of me. it reminded me of every doctor who stubbornly tried to fix me as long as fixing me meant that i fell under their area of expertise, all the false starts, all the misdiagnosis, all of it came rushing back and it was paralyzing. but i had the agency to not have to be seen by those doctors, to choose my own, hell i could've just not seen any doctor if i wanted to, because i was an adult and that was my right. so this case with the pelletier kind of freaks me out, only because i've -seen- the other side of doctors trying to do what is best and failing miserably in the process. i lived it firsthand, and honestly, there's a really good chance that my health could've deteriorated a lot more than it did had i not had a massive stroke of luck that to this day i swear is a miracle*.

i don't doubt that the doctor's at boston children's have her best interests at heart, i really don't. rare diseases though, are tricky, and rare incurable diseases are even more frustrating for doctors because they like to fix broken things, and some of us are unfixable.

that said, because i want to end this on a positive note, i've been sick for 7 years. at times it sucks and is annoying. i'm missing out on all the fancy cocktails, on gastropubs, on lots of random stuff that i was sort of holding off to do "later". however i've adapted, and i think i've done a great job of it. in some ways i'm probably healthier than i was prior to my diagnosis. i eat better, i exercise more efficiently, i take care of myself better overall. i don't find myself battling against the restraints that this disease has put on me, i've just tried to find ways to cheat the system or just accept it for what it is. knowing what was wrong me with afforded me those opportunities. having doctors work together in concert with each other afforded me those opportunities, having a phenomenal partner afforded me those opportunities, refusing to see myself as a lost cause afforded me those opportunities. i hope that things with pelletier and boston children's eventually get to the point where she can say the same things.

*seriously, the doctor who saw the constellation of symptoms and put them together was sitting in for the first dermatologist i'd seen, as she was on maternity leave. then he left boston right after getting me on the right path with the diagnosis and directing me to doctors he knew were better suited to treat me. it was like he just came out of nowhere, saved my life, and vanished. it's remarkable beyond words to me. to this day i cannot believe how lucky i was that he happened to be the doctor i saw, that that first idiot was out on maternity leave, or that he knew my future immunologist and had happened to see a few cases of masto in children. so many random pieces had to fall into place for that to happen that 7 years later i -still- can't get over it.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-04-17 11:46 pm

(no subject)

man i still can't get over how good this week's episode of Game of Thrones was. I think it might be my favorite of the series quite possibly, just because it was fewer, longer segments instead of 5 minutes catching up with the 800 million characters. also no matter what the sigur ros cameo was just golden since i think they are my favorite band ever. here's their song from the episode. i also like how even though it was sort of stunt casting it was handled really well. i wish they had done the complete song, if only because it's so novel to hear jonsi singing in english.

in other news, i have just had it with hollywood, or at least the area we live in. i can't tell if it's the area we live in (which while incredibly interesting is also incredibly tourist overrun) or LA in general. it's hard because this is clearly not a city to live in if you don't drive and it's also mind numbingly terrifying to even think about relearning to drive here because it's fucking madness. i know people throw a lot of shade at boston drivers, but they seem like saints compared to everything that goes on out here. plus honestly, at this point i would just love to live in a city that is wholly walkable again, even if it's frigid for 3/4 of the year because i really am starting to lose my shit when we end up in the car for 90min to travel 10 miles. i think i've just developed a serious aversion to being in the car.

i am weird that way. on one hand i deal a lot better with structure but on the other i tend to go bonkers when things get too repetitive. so now that being in the car for long stretches of time is essentially the norm, i want to blow up the car.

i think the earthquakes have been getting to me as well. the first couple years we lived out here, it was apparently an earthquake drought but in the past month we've had a few moderately strong ones. it's bizarre because i've experienced thunderstorms and hurricanes and dealt with half my town flooding (since we generally had flooding/freezing issues every winter even prior to sandy) but earthquakes are something completely different. it's funny, because i play with fire and i know that that's sort of not a terribly adaptive behavior since instinctively we're not supposed to be ok with fire. (and as I mentioned in a previous post I have little doubt that that added to the abject horror of Ander's passing) but for whatever reason i've always been ok with fire. i like, i respect it and i know it can kick my ass, but there's some modicum of control between picking the right fabrics to wear, having a safety, it's all done in a controlled environment.

earthquakes are a whole other issue because no matter what you do, what you wear, where you go, the earth is just doing things that it clearly shouldn't be doing, or can't be doing while the inhabitants on top of it feel at all comfortable. the response to earthquakes feels almost primal, just this "ok this could be big, this is really wrong, this shouldn't be happening, oh christ the tv is going to fall on the dog" and it doesn't feel like anything is safe until it's over and in those first few seconds you have no idea how long it's even going to take. it's bizarre and i don't like it and i don't see myself getting used to it any time soon. it just feels unsafe, like the earth is either trying to swallow you or eject you depending on the severity of the quake or your proximity to it.

and then of course with all the focus on boston this week i've been ten shades of homesick. it's been even harder since [ profile] mishak has been posting all of these awesome old photos from 10+ years ago and it just reminds me of what used to be. this of course makes me think that i'm more homesick for a time period vs the city itself, which is obviously a difficult issue to fix since i have not yet perfected the art of time travel. i just know that i don't want to spend much time being nostalgic since that's always a pratfall of mine, and yet i'm not entirely diffing living in the present. i know people here, but we're all doing our own things and i haven't yet found that feeling of cohesion that existed back in boston...we know tons of awesome individuals who have no ties to each other so it just feels kind of scattered. though it also is great to see how much ethan is digging his job, so there's that, and it's a big thing. i just sort of feel over LA, like maybe i should've moved here when i was younger. while i think it's great that i moved here with my spouse, i think that having him as a constant safety has made me less adventurous in some regards. some of the best times i've had ever were when i was single and WAY out of my safety zone because those were the times that i pushed myself the most to try new things, experience new people or places, but when you have someone to work out with or slack off and watch tv or play videogames with, it's almost too easy, especially if you, like me, are kind of lazy or low energy to start off with

LA is ridiculously awesome on so many levels that don't even need explaining...but healthcare out here is atrocious pricewise (especially when you have a rare disease that requires you see specific doctors instead of just aiming for ones that fit within a certain price range) and housing has gone completely out of control if you're a renter. even just in the few years that we've been here, seeing the gentrification that has been taking place is really astounding. when we moved here, DTLA was this scary place you kind of had to be hardened to experience, what with skid row and so many vacant areas, and now condos are going for over a million dollars...

though i think this spring is just kicking my ass. it's been in the high 70's/low 80's pretty much constantly (sorry boston friends) and it's fucking tiresome. we are having this massive drought, it's dry as hell, and the pollen count is through the roof which is driving my masto absolutely insane. so when i see footage of rainy boston i get all nostalgic as hell. even snowy boston looks pretty.

on the upside, even though my masto has been going crazy, at its peak i'm doing LEAGUES better than i was a few years ago. at this point it's been over a year since i ended up in the ER, and even then it was because i'd blown my eardrum flying, which was wholly unrelated to the masto. so my track record is getting stronger and stronger which means i want to start looking for work. i was offered a job as an exec/personal assistant but i don't think that's going to happen (mostly for a bunch of issues on my part i may write about later) and i've been looking into some work from home thing. Plus since Emerson's LA campus is nearby I've been checking their course calendar to see if there's any social media/new marketing courses i can take to brush up on my skill set since so much of what i learned 10 years ago (!!!!) is essentially useless now, or completely outdated. so there are totally positives in life, a bounty of them honestly, i'm just being cranky at the moment.

we will be visiting NY/Boston in August though. my brother-in-law is getting married and we're going to try to spend some extra time in each city/suburb to see what our thoughts are on the east coast, if things have gotten better, if my mindset has shifted to one where i'd be more appreciative of a smaller city again. because if there is one thing i know about me, i always romanticize the past, so clearly spending time in places where the past took place would be a good idea before being all "hey fuck it, let's move to boston" because honestly that is essentially how moving to LA happened, and to some degree that was not the best idea. because really our move out here was kind of insane in terms of how deciding to move and actually committing to moving took place within a matter of weeks. it's funny because i'm impulsive as all hell so my actions don't surprise me as much, but ethan is such a pragmatist and for whatever reason we were like "yeah fuck this place, let's move across the country to a city that we spent all of 3 days in, RAAAAR" and just did it. though i also think that's kind of awesome but is not something we can sustain forever obviously.

so right now i sort of feel like there are two solid options:
1) move to west hollywood which is WAAAAAAAY lest touristy/violent and see if that's tolerable. ethan will have a shorter commute, it's more walkable to things that one actually wants to walk to, it could be a good change

2) ragequit LA this winter. which of course would be kind of stupid since i'll have gone from years of sun and heat to moving to an east coast winter which might drive me out of my skull

my dream would still be to move to new orleans but i just don't see that happening any time soon being as while i'd actually be able to find decent healthcare there, job opportunities would be scarce.

i almost feel like this relates to that whole phenomena where people get paralyzed by having too many choices. we don't have kids, we don't have a strong social network here, we can do anything and go anywhere, and that just makes it even harder to have half of a clue what to choose.

finally - weightlifting. ethan is sort of being my coach at the moment and i equally love it and hate it. i've been doing a bunch of kettlebell stuff (really i wish i was still tracking on fitocracy) as well as free weights and bodyweight stuff. this in addition to running on the elliptical and doing the paleo thing has made some interesting changes in my body. i have a LONG way to go to get to where i want to be, but it's interesting seeing areas tone up. i just need to work on getting leaner too. running is at least meditative and a good excuse to listen to music i haven't listened to in ages (angry industrial RAAAR)

so yeah. that's life at the moment.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-04-13 11:44 pm

PAX & allies

So I'm a gamer, which is no surprise to anyone ever. Pax East was this weekend and I was sad that I couldn't go and see my friends since I'm on the wrong coast for these sorts of things, but then I remembered all the rapey transphobic misogynistic stuff that PA has not been held accountable for and felt super conflicted. I went to the first PAX and had a lot of fun, I have friends in the gaming industry who had booths there, on one hand it would be a very fun time, but on the other I don't know if I could entirely get behind giving these guys any money, or as a female consumer, lend any sort of legitimacy that how they treat their female audience is even remotely ok by going.

these articles sum it up better than i could:

the long and short of it is that they wrote a comic that used male rape as a joke. the premise of the comic itself was pretty funny, based around the idea that in a game you might get a quest to go save 5 people from a horrible fate, potentially leaving behind other victims because you've finished your quest, so fuck those people you left behind. you got your XP, so on to the next quest. however the fact that it needed to be rape, because rape is apparently the funniest or most horrific thing that can happen to a person, seemed pretty juvenile, but it's Penny Arcade, so what do you expect?

As a gamer, well I guess as a female gamer (a distinction I find tedious since at this point 50% of gamers are women, but whatever) the threat of sexual violence is pretty common both in games or whenever you step into the cesspool that is multiplayer gaming. I admit that I play a lot of bro type games and as a result, 9 times out of 10 at the end of a match, instead of hearing "good game" like my male teammates might, I end up hearing something about what a terrible and probably fat cunt I am and how I should play their team in a rematch where they will, inevitably, rape the shit out of me or that secretly my teammates are only playing with me because they want to fuck me and I probably really suck but I have my male teammates to hold me afloat. There are also the occasions where people on XBL will just start hitting on me, which is weird and awkward and obviously not appropriate since I'm playing Left4Dead, not Call of OKCupid or something. But after so many years of hearing verbal attacks on my gender, on my weight, and threats of sexual violence, you get used to it. Which really, really really really, is absolutely disgusting when you think about it.

I thought the need for the funny torture in the comic to be rape was unfortunate, but it also seemed like a total symptom of the source material of the comic. Gamers like to throw the word rape around constantly so it seemed like a no brainer that that would be the lowest hanging fruit that they reached for. What I wasn't expecting was their immature and completely hostile backlash toward fans who found the concept unpleasant. Instead of engaging in any sort of intelligent discourse with their female audience, they went and made team dickwolves t-shirts, one of the founders of PA said he planned on wearing his to the conn, quickly there was a team of people planning on having a team dickwolf flashmob. All of this was accepted if not encouraged by PA. Imagine being a rape survivor surrounded by people wearing shirts that condoned rape as a plot device or a joke (since I am well aware that the rape referenced in the comic was happening to cartoon characters and was being committed by fake mythical creatures). I'm not saying that it would be the most triggering thing in the world, but at the very least it would be incredibly uncomfortable and awkward. If you were female, not only is there the potential level of discomfort that you're trying to break into a boys club (since girl geeks either get hit on mercilessly or get their geek cred questioned mercilessly), now you're surrounded by a bunch of people who think that making a joke out of rape is a free speech issue or a political statement. It's kind of gross to say the least.

Then one of the founders came out with a TON of transphobic bullshit, the long and short of it was refusing to acknowledge that pre op transwoment had the right to refer to themselves by their gender since "only girls have vaginas" and then gave some halfassed apology after their fanbase made it clear that this was more fuckery on par with the dickwolves thing.

so for months on FB i've seen a lot of people discussing PA and how they're turning into a disgraceful corporation that clearly has issues with women, rape victims, and transgendered people. Like, if they were making the same comments about African Americans or Hispanics or something, I imagine the furor would've been a hundred times louder, but it's way easier to push women and transfolk off into the sidelines in the world at large, let along in a microcosm like gaming. but i saw people talking about all the things that PA were guilty of, and I was surprised to see that many people were opting -out- of going to PA. some of the loudest critics were opting -to- go to PA, which was confusing. I don't even mind that there are people who ignored the entire debacle, but the idea of being critical of the organization and then going to their conn seemed sort of perplexing. I think because all the previous criticisms of the organization felt like "Wow this person is an ally, they get why PA are shady and they're vocal about it" which seemed to get flipped on its head by then giving them money to attend their con.

Because really, I doubt that Jerry & Mike look into the throngs of people at the world trade center and think "yeah, those are the people who find our politics questionable". no, they just see dollar signs. they've managed to build a multimillion dollar comic and convention series based off of making misogynistic, rapey, and transphobic comments that they've never truly been held accountable for, and as long as their cons are sweeping successes, they will continue to do so.

and it's hard. one person I spoke to said that they went as a chance to be the change that they wanted to see. I think that is an admirable but potentially short sighted ideal. On one hand, yeah, going to PAX and making a political statement would be a great thing, however instead due to the way the con is set up, instead it sounded like it turned into like minded people discussing their feelings with each other, but with no platform. They weren't offered a panel, instead they had a "diversity hub" and unisex bathrooms. as a gamer i'd probably want to check out the wastelands or indie games booths before a "diversity hub" and as a woman i'm not sure i'd be too keen on unisex bathrooms, I don't know how a transgendered person would feel. Being the change that you want to see is a very valid argument for doing something, but in some circumstances it seems like a losing battle where a few small voices lost amongst the chatter will easily be lost. People go to PAX to discuss gaming, not gender politics. I've been vocally critical of the Church of Scientology, but there's no way in hell that I could affect any change by joining the church and giving them my time and money, and sadly the way that PAX is set up right now, going to the con and talking to people who agree with you seems about as likely for success. It's even harder though, because -going- to PAX doesn't seem to be any more or less effective than -not- going to PAX.

It sucks though, because if I were in Boston or Seattle, I can't even promise that -I- wouldn't go to PAX. because again, I have friends who go, friends who have booths there, and realistically they're the largest end user gaming convention out there. For me, they're also the most convenient since Seattle is close and I have a lot of friends in Boston. It starts to feel akin to raging against how corrupt the government is. You feel hopeless, powerless, or you possibly over optimistically hope that you can somehow affect some change from within. i'm not trying to imply that anyone who went to PAX is a bad person, I'm just surprised by the vocal opponents who went. Actually that's dishonest, there is some judgement, but i think it stems more from a place of hurt because as a female gamer who has had to put up with more than their fair share of rape threats in MP games, there is a part of me that would like to see stronger allies, though in the same respect I can't even say that -I- would be that stronger ally if PAX were in LA or I were in Boston. It's not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination.

It's frustrating because I appreciate people taking the time out to post their feelings on FB, however I also feel like it's as useful as talking into an echochamber. On FB we're talking to our likeminded friends, people who mostly agree that PA has not really apologized for their use of rape culture as plot devices, misogyny and transphobia. That's the easy route to being an ally...and it needs to go further than that. But I guess I just feel that fun trumps politics in a lot of cases, and that's not good enough. Though as I've said, I don't even know if I could hold myself up to the same yardstick I'm measuring others, and that's probably the most depressing thing of all.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-04-02 04:57 pm

(no subject)

so this might sound shitty, and it's not meant to, and i'm not stating things as absolutes, just how i observed them.

i wasn't really friends with anders, acquaintances yes, but even that was inconsistent at best. we had some very difficult conversations that were really more like arguments over the years on FB and LJ that tended to revolve around her vocal disgust for overweight people, ugly people, hippies, extreme dieting, (occasionally) muslims, feminists, people on welfare or any social program...our ideals just didn't jive on the most basic of levels. at the same time i was fascinated by her, maybe because she seemed so aggressive or maybe because i'm fascinated by people i don't get along with, or maybe because i always feel like it's somehow my fault if i don't instantly like someone, that it is some shortcoming on my part, or maybe i was just fascinated by the fact that she truly didn't seem to care about her detractors, i don't know what it was. she was always nice to me but i couldn't look past my own issues and i assumed that her niceness had more to do with the fact that my being a dj in "the scene" than any value i held outside of that (and my scene value was pretty low to start off with anyway). but really when it came down to it, i owed her, my first not-college-radio-or-lounge djing experience was doing the first Darkside Walkers thing in Arlington.

i had a lot of respect for her work ethic though, because she -never- gave up. she promoted her shows like they were all headlining gigs at the boston garden, she promoted her friend's bands or her students from School of Rock as if they were all Motley Crue. It was amazing to me because she'd work so hard and pretty much got lambasted a lot. I remember alternately cringing or taking part in some of the insane flame wars she provoked on the b0st0n community or on the noise blog...and for all the shit she got from people, she never fucking gave up, she never seemed to crack at all, which is really pretty remarkable. her passion for what she did was just that strong, her skin was just that thick, she believed in herself and in the boston music scene enough that she didn't care what people thought of her, she just wanted to get people to go out and see live music...i couldn't have put up with the shit she dealt with for a day, let alone over a decade. but her dedication to her muse was just that strong. even though she was often met with a lot of resistance and not always a lot of respect, she always carried herself like a rockstar.

i'd kind of forgotten about her (which is fair because i moved across the country and haven't kept up on boston scene things) until pretty recently when we got into a discussion on a mutual friend's FB wall and it was the same old banging of heads. she'd sent me a friend request and i deleted it because it felt more like she was just collecting people vs having any real interest in knowing me, and especially after i'd moved, especially after FB made it next to impossible to even see friend's postings, i'd been spending more time deleting people vs adding them. but then i felt sort of like a dick about it, like who am i to decide that someone isn't interesting enough to know on the internet, that the word "friend" in livejournal or facebook is sorely overused and undervalued. it bugged me though, that i'd deleted it, it felt arrogant or something. because no matter what i felt about her politics or the way she sometimes carried herself, i still respected how much she worked her ass off, and i always felt like i really owed her for that foot in the door.

then she died a truly horrible death.

the news broke yesterday and i watched as people who i'd previously seen completely rag on her any time she'd put herself out there suddenly sing her praises and act as if they'd lost a best friend. on one hand it made me happy because yeah, regardless of anything else, she did a ton for a scene and a city she cared for and that is what she should be remembered for, that is how she'd want to be remembered, she wanted to make boston her empire. she tried and she tried really really really hard. she was relentless and passionate and those things totally deserve commemoration.

but it also kind of pissed me off in a weird way. i don't know if it was her young age or the horrific circumstances under which she passed, but something about seeing people who vocally disliked her or didn't know her talking about going to her funeral, going through all the sorts of very visible signs of public seemed disingenuous on some level. where was all this love when she was alive? i mean hell, in the wake of her death i've probably thought more positive things about her than i ever did during her life...why the fuck is that? why do we just take people for granted while they are alive and then the minute they are no longer with us, the moment they may never be able to appreciate or acknowledge these positive sentiments, that is the exact moment that those sentiments are overly abundant?

i mean, i'm not saying i'm -not- a part of this culture. even by writing this post i clearly am. i never wrote an lj post about her when she was alive, and here i am doing it now. and man, i just see all of the loving things that people are posting about or to a dead woman's wall and i can't help but wonder how much better off we'd all be if we were so open with our communication when the other person could actually response or at least hear what we had to say. obviously that wouldn't have had any impact on the fire or her death, but it would've made life just that much more awesome. why is it so hard? are we afraid that we cheapen the sentiments by sharing them freely? are we afraid of people getting overbloated egos? do we just not think about things until it is too late?

it's so easy to have a thousand friends on social media and still feel or be alone. it's easy for everyone to assume that someone else is being kind or taking care of each's easy to just fall in amongst the masses and do the minimum to maintain some sort of social connection now, and on one hand it has its merits, but on the other hand it kind of sucks. it's so easy to feel like "oh yeah, we're friends on lj or fb so we totally know what is going on in each other's lives" but really that's rarely the case, in the same way it's way easier to eulogize people than to celebrate them when they're alive.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-03-27 12:07 pm
Entry tags:

Bioshock Infitie - Burial at Sea venting (SPOILERS)

Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 10.22.51 AM
the many different faces of Elizabeth that exist

I want to start this out by saying that I love the Bioshock series. It's rare to come across FPS's that are so smart and so brilliantly designed. Like most things that end up with a ton of sequels, I think that the story quality has kind of gone down over the course of the series (I think I'm in the minority in that I didn't think BS Infinite was the best game ever created ever), but I also think that is to be expected. The first game was a scathing take on objectivism that had a horrifying twist 3/4 of the way through, and they sort of ran with the horrifying twist 3/4 through bit while dropping the politics.

Anyway, I could talk about the series for pages and pages and pages, but I'm not. Instead I'm going to focus on BS Infinite and the DLC for it, which as a gamer, as a woman, was just incredibly unsettling to experience, and honestly kind of ruined the whole series for me, at least for the moment. As a gamer, I've often found situations that have made me uncomfortable as a woman. In a lot of ways, sadly, gaming and feminism are sort of at odds with each other. In the same vein though, I am loathe to turn every moment of pop culture that I expose myself into a platform to discuss how women in media are treated, since it often seems like low hanging fruit, however what I just played has been possibly one of the most horrific story arcs of a female protagonist I've ever seen. This is sort of exacerbated by the fact that it happened in a series that overall has been lauded for being above the typical bro-bullshit that tends to permeate gaming, especially FPS games.

I'm putting this behind a cut because I'm going to post a ton of spoilers )
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-02-16 02:35 am


since i got sick, i haven't really been able to enjoy the convenience of food. we prepare most of the food we eat, rarely go to restaurants, prepackaged food and drinks are out of the question, when we travel i pretty much live on smoothies that we make since we travel with our blender...overall it's fine because i have enough other avenues that appeal to me senses, but sometimes it's a bummer to go to party and see everyone having delicious mixed drinks i can't have or even just do something as easy as stop at a convenience store or bodega to get something to eat. but it's also been 7 years and that's more than enough time to adapt.

valentines day (which ethan and i are hokey, and by hokey i mean awesome enough to make a minor deal of) is a total bummer because chocolate is something i'm super allergic to, so it's usually "here's some cool flowers and a bar of white chocolate" and it's always appreciated but it's also sort of a clear illustration of my limitations when it comes to food. like man, the idea of getting a box of mixed chocolates is something i am envious of whenever i get one for ethan (which i do a fair amount because he's a total whore for chocolate and i like getting to smell delicious chocolate, like for valentines day i got him this because scotch and chocolate) but again after 7 years of limitations you get used to things (even though sometimes you miss random stuff you never liked that much like soda or random gross food court samples).

this year ethan surprised the hell out of me by going to a candy shop and had a box of assorted white chocolates made up for me. this is the first time in years that i've had a box of candy where i could eat -everything- without having to repeatedly double check the ingredients. the candy was good, but what was far more touching was the sliver of normalcy that it injected into my life. while i have adapted to the new normal that my life entails, there was something so awesome about doing something so normal as just being able to eat candy, which was just such a phenomenal gift. it wouldn't have even mattered if the chocolate was good, it was just getting to enjoy something that everyone else kind of takes for granted. so i was incredibly appreciative of how thoughtful and personal a gesture it was.

so last night was pretty fantastic as we hunkered down with our respective boxes of sweets and started watching house of cards. this season is great, way more complicated and dense than the first season, which i didn't even think was possible. one thing that i've gotten a kick out of is a friend got to work as a consultant to flesh out the character of Gavin which is pretty awesome. it's not arbitrary as said friend has made a name for himself as an on and offline activist, but i guess it is sort of cool seeing someone from boston doing industry stuff, especially for such a good show.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-02-11 02:21 pm

Dumb Starbucks

So we heard about the "Dumb Starbucks" opening in Los Feliz this weekend and decided to check it out. At that point, press was pretty minimal about the store and people were throwing around theories that Banksy was behind it, as he's been threatening to take over LA the way he did New York last year. We'd spent a good portion of the afternoon just wandering around West Hollywood enjoying the weather so we figured at the very least we'd drive over to see the Dumb Starbucks.

We got there and the line was pretty bad. I wouldn't say it was epic, it seemed like it would be a worthwhile venture to hang out, get free coffee, and just see what it was about. There were signs all over stating that the store technically fell under parody law, was ] an art exhibit, was donation driven, was free, it was all pretty confusing and conflicting which obviously made it more interesting.

Ethan and the dog got in line while I went to check out the actual storefront, which was not possible because the windows were blacked out which of course made it that much more tantalizing. There were two men hanging out in the parking lot selling "Dumb Starbucks" hats & stickers, again for a "suggestion donation". Which was bizarre because who the hell bootlegs a coffeeshop/art gallery/massive public troll? I looked at what they were selling and it looked identical in quality to what the people leaving the coffeehouse had, just the Starbucks logo with the word "Dumb" in front of it.

I went back in line and hung out with Ethan, the dog, and a bunch of other random people, and we discussed why we were there, was it worth it, why did this seem appealing, everyone sort of seemed either confused or excited. Again a lot of people thought this was Banksy or Shepard Fairy, or at least someone with money since clearly this was about as posh an operation as you'd get going in less than 24 hours. The signage out front looked great, the barista's had high quality uniforms, there were branded umbrellas outside the store, before even taking rent or all the free food and coffee into account this stunt had to have cost at least $15k or so.

The line moved -incredibly- slow. People would trickle out and occasionally you'd hear someone talk about how terrible the coffee was. Some people had ceramic mugs (which I coveted), some people left with hats, but the most common thing was just regular paper cups, though EVERYTHING was double cupped so that the cup with the logo wasn't stained with coffee, which of course led people to believe that these things were art and therefore would clearly have some sort of value (again because banksy).

there's only so much time you can spend hanging out in line talking to your spouse or watching your dog play with kids before you get kind of bored...i think for me that hit at about the 1 hour mark, which was also about the point in time where I absolutely refused to give up and go home. I'd put in enough time standing in line and not really knowing why I was doing it (because quality issues aside, I don't drink coffee!), but goddamnit there was no way i wasn't going to see the inside! So I started looking on my phone to see if I could find anything out about Dumb Starbucks. At that point a lengthy Buzzfeed article had been posted that showed the interior of the store, dumb Starbucks stuff was being sold on ebay, but overall no one knew what the hell was going on. I just knew that I wanted to see the inside and that i'd put enough time in that i wasn't going to be deterred. (also i heard they had Dumb Norah Jones cds and I kind of wanted one of those as I have a bootlegged version of Bankys' Paris Hilton cd and thought they would look cute together)

eventually we got inside. we we the last group of people let inside and at that point it was actually kind of scary because people were pressing their faces up against the glass and it totally looked like something out of Dawn of the Dead. Throughout this part of the experience, the "dumb baristas" kept stressing that everything inside was crap, that everything from the coffee to the pastries was just stale stuff that they'd picked up at Vons, but no one cared. So it was a little creepy feeling trapped in the Dumb Starbucks with hundreds of people lingering outside trying to get in, but we'd made it, our efforts had paid off.

the inside was pretty mediocre. it looked like a really stripped down starbucks that didn't have working refrigerator cases or cash registers. the only things that worked were the overhead lights and the coffee machines, which were incredibly slow. There were 2 people manning the entire operation, though by the time that we had gotten inside one of them was essentially the defacto security guard making sure the front door stayed locked (i also think he either called the police or a private security firm to clear the people out of the parking lot as the mob quickly dispersed and then reformed) but yeah, the most notable thing about the interior of the Dumb Starbucks was how astoundingly mediocre it was. It wasn't clever, there were no funny signs on the walls or anything mocking large scale retail culture, no biting satire, nothing that was all that interesting. it was just kinda boring. the only cool thing for us at least, was since we were at the end of the line, we actually got to talk to the employees a bit, and it was clear that they were pretty heavily scripted in what they could and couldn't say, but it seemed like they had at least let their guard down a little, since by that point we were all just locked in the store together, where it was FAR less crowded.

We got our personalized coffees (well ethan got a coffee, I got a cup) and headed out...feeling completely and utterly dumb. all in all i think we waited in line for about 2 hours. on one hand it was cool because we had no real plans that day other than wandering around neighborhoods, we got to see a ton of people, the dog got to play with lots of people, and it was a nice day to hang out outside. We had conflicting expectations on the whole thing, whether it was getting a piece of banksy or some other renegade art, it was kind of funny to be doing something that we were essentially questioning the whole time, and in the end it truly was about as dumb of an experience as you could have, but i kind of loved that, and it's not really lessened by the fact that it turned out to be some stunt that was backed by Comedy Central. On one hand, yeah I am sure I could've been more productive with my Sunday afternoon, but I wanted to see what the hype about Dumb Starbucks was, I didn't have the highest expectations, and it was so astoundingly mediocre and so open about its own mediocrity that it was pretty fun. but also completely dumb, and i feel like that is the best part, Dumb Starbucks completely and thoroughly lived up to its name.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-01-24 06:58 pm

(no subject)

so yesterday we went on the dearly departed tour of hollywood, because what screams birthday more than a morbid tour of your city. truth be told, the tour wasn't morbid at all, it was mostly about the history and the architecture of the city with some crime/scandal scenes thrown in. it was honestly a lot of fun though, especially if you like history & pop culture. it was also enjoyable because it wasn't "and here's so&so's house, and here's that restaurant everyone likes to go to" which a lot of the tours seem to be. being a tour guide seems like a fantastic job too, i mean, i didn't learn anything new since i am kind of morbid and fascinated by celebrity culture, but even still the way it was all described was just great. looking at the yelp reviews for the tour they have 3 guides, each of whom has their own take on the tour, which is pretty cool in that it allows you to do the tour multiple times, but also because you know that you're learning about what the driver finds fascinating (in our case architecture and building preservation) vs just reading a script written by some faceless person in an office somewhere.

the tour guide said that they try to make the tour enjoyable for both tourists and locals but that really at some point if your life you should try to see your city as a tourist, and it made a lot of sense. just in terms of seeing it how other people see it, but also seeing things you'd never know about, really arbitrary stuff like a hummingbird feeder that is considered the LAX of bird feeders, and it was truly just swarmed with hummingbirds and it's totally walkable from the apartment but i never noticed it. i wonder how much cool stuff i missed in other cities i've lived in.

when i lived in NY, I did some touristy stuff, I mean I went up to the top of the world trade center and empire state building and saw a broadway show, but that's about it. i mean, it's a totally different city now and i think i a) take myself less seriously and b) am far enough removed that it would be a lot of fun. I never did -anything- touristy in boston -ever- until my senior project where I had to write a proposal for the freedom trail foundation. even then I just walked the freedom trail with my classmates vs actually taking the real tour.

i remember years ago, standing by the eiffel tower with ethan and sort of griping about how everyone's vacations, no matter how hard they try to be unique, are probably essentially the same. we go to see cool things because we want to see them, whether they be super popular or off the beaten path (but not off the beaten path enough that we hadn't heard of them) the time it sort of felt weirdly melancholy, i don't even know if melancholy is the right word, just sort of like "whooo here's my picture of the eiffel tower that looks exactly like every other picture of the eiffel tower" but now i just sort of feel like that was being pretentious. because touristy stuff is fun, it's created to be fun, if it wasn't fun it would fail...

all i know is when we go back to boston this year i totally want to do a duck tour since that seems like the pinnacle of boston tourist. i also still have to sort out what i'm doing in new orleans (other than see neutral milk hotel) because that's coming up soon. going to NOLA is going to kind of suck in terms of being seriously restricted foodwise, but should still be a trip as i mean, it's new orleans and i'm gothy so i mean, come on.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-01-24 12:00 am

a birthday gift

today was a great day, we went on a hollywood scandal tour and ate gf pecan pie and ice cream and fried chicken. quite a break from the whole30 for sure, but i'll just tag a couple days on the end of the month to make up for it.

so i made this mix in case there was a swap, but that did not appear to happen, so instead i'm going to share this with everyone else. it's not the most current music, but it's music i either just loved or learned to or taught with
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2014-01-15 03:21 am


so tonight we took bones on a walk. the santa ana winds are blowing across LA and have brought with them some horribly dry air that is at least somewhat enjoyable at night. some people call the santa ana winds the devil's wind and claim that they make people crazy.

This afternoon the PCH had a 2 acre fire that you could apparently see from miles away. there's nothing weirder than seeing pictures of the beach on fire.

since it was nice-ish out we decided to take the dog on a long walk...which kept getting interrupted by...weirdness on a level i haven't experienced in a long time.

we talked with this one guy Twist, who is a homeless guy we talk to a lot, he's nice and sober and I honestly am curious to his whole story, but so far we just tend to talk about dogs, LA, just kind of trivial stuff, but we hang out and he's really nice. he loves the dog and the dog completely loves him. tonight he was telling us all about the camp he lives in in the canyon and gave us an open invitation to come hang out some time. which was sort of unexpected and out of the norm but not weird.

a couple blocks later we ran into this guy who apparently knows us though neither ethan and i could remember him. he started rambling about ballet and yoga and then all of the sudden pulled a knife out (at this point i contemplated whether or not my epi pen would be a good defensive weapon) and instead of stabbing us (yay!) he started throwing the fucking thing around while doing ballet. we were sort of cornered into an empty shop doorway so there was really no good way to quickly get away with the dancing man with the knife so we just sort of let him do his thing. then he tried to sell us weed, then crack. once he realized we were not interested in drugs, he started telling us about the price is right (i still have no idea what was going on), how he wanted to punch l ron hubbard's brother in the face, and how we should tear down the scientology building on hollywood blvd and replace it with condos. i was just sort of astounded this was happening, and i think someone with a better survival instinct than i (or ethan) probably would've figured out a way to extract themselves from the situation way earlier, however i was just sort of transfixed by the bizarreness of the whole thing...

eventually we escaped and laughed about how bizarre everything was. usually walks with the dog are pretty chill in the evening.

when we were a couple blocks away from our apartment, we stopped at a bodega type place to get cigarettes. at this point i was walking around a parking lot with the dog and ran into a rather tall gentleman who was wearing what looked like catcher's gear, black leather gloves, and a construction helmet. at this point honestly nothing is going to faze me in terms of "bizarre shit people wear in hollywood" so i was completely unimpressed with this guy until he told me "i am going to kill you and steal your dog" at which point i was just sort of shocked. either this guy meant it, had a terrible sense of humor, was crazy, or some combination of all that. i was just sort of rooted to the spot, apparently an addition to "bridget has inappropriate reactions to serious situations"* staring at the guy who then pointed his thumb and index finger at my forehead (at this point i started backing up toward the crosswalk) and said "bang, you're dead, your dog did nothing to save you" and repeated this a few times until ethan (oblivious to this) joined me, and he again repeated, "i am going to kill you and steal your dog" with a big fucking smile on his face as if that was totally something normal you say to anyone ever. thankfully he did not follow us as we ran across the street.

when we were a couple feet from our apartment building we ran into another stranger who was totally nice and normal but i think we didn't know how to deal with him as he completely did not fit the narrative of our evening.

i am now starting to wonder about this whole santa ana wind bringing the crazy thing since after tonight....i just don't even know.

then about an hour ago there was an earthquake.

YAY LA!!!!!

*i have a track record of cracking up when horrible stuff happens.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-12-12 01:43 am

(no subject)

i am always on my half assed quest to not let this journal die out.

things are going moderately well. i have a terrible cold which kind of sucks. what sucks more is when you have a terrible cold and it's "cold" outside you (if you are me) tend to get all introspective and frustrated about things. though really this seems to happen every winter, winter seems to be when i get overly nostalgic and when i'm not being overly nostalgic, i'm probably doing something i'll regret later on. well that latter part is more how i used to be. i feel these days i've got my shit together reasonably well. but nostalgia is the mindkiller, not fear.

but some things are frustrating me. i had this dream where in it i realized i was a failure...and i woke up totally convinced that it was true. it's hard because a lot of my former classmates are huge successes in their respective fields, and i'm kinda disabled and not sure what i'm doing with myself. i never wanted to be someone who was defined by their job or their tax bracket, but i'd also prefer feeling more useful than i do right now. sometimes it just feels pathetic when people are talking about their jobs and how important they are and i'm just like "whee i have a dog" and honestly, i love having a dog and i love walking my dog, but i didn't fucking put myself through two years of running myself into the ground with school & work to end up doing nothing. i think this is the one time where i get really pissed about my illness. because i worked so hard to get my degree and then eventually ended up in a city where my degree matters (people out here love emerson) and i feel trapped...i have no problem starting something entry level, but if i do that i lose my insurance depending on how much i make and that truly makes a huge difference. the system is so weird in that it makes it incredibly difficult to get into it (seriously disability is designed to deter people) and seems to make it equally difficult to get out. urgh.

healthwise stuff has been moderately stable for a while now so my goal is to find some places to volunteer at (as hollywood is rife with opportunity in that department) and then see how i do in terms of accountability and stability. if i can keep something up for 6 months without crashing, maybe i can start looking for a job, even if it's not some sort of career track thing, just something to push myself and see what i'm capable of. this has been the first week since august that i haven't had my foot all bound up and that's been pretty exciting. if there is one thing i can now say with absolute certainty, foot surgery sucks way more than you'd -ever- expect it to. it takes forever to heal and since there's not a lot of plasticity in your foot, when stuff has to swell, it goes into your leg.

one thing that i sort of miss, as the year winds down, is the mix-cd secret santa thing. i get that with spotify, grooveshark, and soundcloud mix-cds have gone the way of the mix tape, but i still really got a kick out of sharing music and seeing what other people were into. maybe i'll make something and throw it online.

otherwise stuff's stuff. taking more flow classes, trying to get enthused about ethan's work party (because really in terms of holiday work parties, i imagine one thrown by dr dre has to be pretty ridiculous) and gearing up for the holidays. maybe i'll see if there's somewhere we can volunteer on christmas since why not? we're not hugely into the consumption or gluttony thing (things you seem to lose interest in when you're sober, have food allergies, and don't have a big family to content with) so maybe we'll find something productive to do.

oh and i want to see catching fire.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-12-06 03:07 pm

bulldogs (dogs in general really)

these two articles are amazing:

i love irish wolfhounds, i think they are the most regal and beautiful dogs in the world. i'm sure the fact that i grew up around them influences this, but they are huge, gentle dogs that are just astounding. they also don't live very long as they are super prone to mast cell cancer, bone cancer, and a whole host of pulmonary problems. the breed went extinct in the 1700s and was revived using deerhounds and great danes in an attempt to bring back the massive wolf killing dogs that one would read about in the book of kells. however since this was done quickly, you end up with a giant dog that has a heart and lungs more optimal for a smaller dog, meaning that its body worked twice as hard, even at rest, resulting in a very short lifespan. the last time my parents were looking into getting a wolfhound (about ten years ago) they noticed that the ones being bred by the most reputable breeders were smaller than the ones they had previously had, and didn't really like that aesthetic, which is a shame because even though it wasn't as awe inspiring, it meant the dogs might stand a chance at being healthier. sadly over the past few years the wolfhouds i've seen have been fucking huge, way larger than any of the ones I had growing up so I guess that more breeders are aiming for aesthetics again vs overall health of the dog.

when i decided i wanted a dog, i knew that getting a wolfhound was a bad idea. we live in an apartment, we move a lot, we don't know if we're putting down roots in LA, ethan had never owned a dog before, there were a whole host of reasons why getting a giant breed was not a good idea. plus there is a part of me that sort of feels guilt in the whole idea of helping perpetuate a breed that is not healthy, or helping perpetuate the current standard which is not particularly healthy. in reading about breeds i realized i really liked a lot of the characteristics of bulldogs.

before we go any further, yes i know that i could totally be viewed a privileged asshole for buying a dog vs adopting. but at the time we had a very old cat and i wanted to bring a puppy into the house. i also wanted a dog that wouldn't be a detriment for finding an apartment and considering how many dogs/puppies in shelters out here are part pitbull that wasn't a tenable situation since most apartments out here won't rent to you if your dog is even part pitbull (which is a shame because they're awesome dogs). but even aside from that, i wanted a dog that i wanted. i wanted a puppy since it would more easily integrate with the cats and wouldn't be bringing any baggage into the house with it (since hey, dogs don't like being abandoned), i wanted a smaller dog, so i made the choice to buy vs adopt. i've always been responsible in not buying from mills or pet stores, adopting when i can, not buying wild caught exotics, so i sort of feel that if i want to be selfish in selecting a companion animal, whatever. it's not like we don't already know i'm selfish.

one thing that i noticed the more i read about bulldogs was how unhealthy they were. heart disease, allergies, skin disease, eye problems, palate deformation that could lead to a massive host of breathing problems, just every goddamn problem in the book seemed to be wrong with this breed. which was really disheartening because they are so adorable. but the idea of spending $x on a dog and then piling up massive vet bills (or even worse vet bills that we might not be able to pay) seemed like a really bad idea.

from there i started reading about french bulldogs, another small breed i've always liked, and found that if they were bred well, they might still have some health issues, but markedly less than the english bulldog. so we started looking at breeders and Ethan found a woman in the OC and set up an appointment to meet her.

the first thing that struck me was that her dogs were zipping around her substantial yard (she owns a ranch as she also has horses). frenchies are more active than english bulldogs, but they're not really known for their stamina...but even before meeting the puppies we got to see their parents and even a grand parent tearing up the yard like nobody's business. the fact that the puppies grandmother (the grandfather was not on the premises) was alive and happy and super healthy was a sign in the right direction. we had to talk to the breeder for a while about what we wanted in a dog, what my experience in caring for dogs had been, what sort of time/money we were willing to dedicate to this pet, it felt almost like a job interview. she explained that she bred her dogs for health first and foremost. her dogs were all champions in agility as well as show, meaning that they were bred for endurance as well as appearance, however they all tended to have more accolades in the agility stuff. looking at pictures (as well as being there) it was obvious her dogs were more slender, had longer faces and larger noses than other frenchies that i'd seen. their chest's weren't as barrelled, their torsos were longer, their nostrils were wider, their heads weren't as massive, their hips weren't as thin, they mated on their own, their eyes weren't as big, they still looked awesome and clearly like french bulldogs, but slightly different. more like little boxers vs little torpid tanks. she was also super against fad or rare colors so i was sold on her ethics. then we met the puppies and bones just killed me. he was honestly sort of the opposite of what i thought i'd wanted but when i saw him i just knew he was perfect for me. i also talked with other reputable breeders in the SoCal area and the ones vetted by the AKC all said that the breeder we were thinking of getting bones from was a phenomenal breeder and also very picky who she sold dogs to.

a year and a half later and i'm still thrilled with the decision we made. honestly at first i was sort of concerned that he was too tiny or not husky enough (mostly because of seeing other french bulldogs that are way stouter than he is, because in the end i think i'm a big dog person at heart) but overall according to his vet, Bones is one of the healthiest frenchies she's seen. he has no spine or palate problems, his breathing is perfectly normal, he doesn't snore or click, overall he's just a happy, healthy, and awesome dog. i've taken some precautions like having him registered as an emotional support dog, (which is essentially the new medical marijuana) so that he doesn't have to fly in cargo when we travel since i don't want to risk the whole overheating thing...but he's small enough that he can fly in the cabin anyway since he fits in a carrier the size of carry on luggage. overall he's awesome except for being allergic to fleas, though to be fair, it's not like i want him full of fleas anyway so it's not like bathing him and cleaning the apartment is a real chore.

so when these articles started making the rounds, especially the ones about what breeds looked like 100 years ago vs how they look now, i totally got sucked into them. it's just really striking and sad in so many ways to see how breeds have been destroyed to attain physical characteristics that, like the irish wolfhound being ginormous, are in no way sensical other than aesthetics. so i poked around looking at vintage pictures of frenchies and was pretty psyched to see that the bear looks pretty similar to those pictures vs the ones of modern frenchies. obviously i completely lucked out when it came to this dog and i'm grateful that there are breeders who are being more attentive to health vs cartoonishly adorable dogs. the one thing that makes me nervous is if i want another frenchie (and i do) i worry that bones is an anomaly and the next dog we get will end up being some genetic train wreck or something. i'm trying my best to hold out and see what sort of frenchies are up for rescue, though truthfully i think i'd wait until wingnut passes away before bringing a rescue into the house since many of the ones i've seen aren't good with cats or just display levels of food or toy aggression that i think would be too much for a 10 year old cat. who knows though. i know i want bones to have a dog sibling at some point.

on a footnote completely unrelated but buried at the bottom because i have little faith that people actually read livejournal posts and that makes me feel most comfortable discussing this here vs fb or twitter because i feel like it could come across as some sort of self congratulatory bullshit, but that's not where this is going. there are a lot of homeless people in hollywood. one of the great things about the dog is that they want to play with him and he wants to play with everyone ever. which sort of turns into a good way to connect with people you might not otherwise. the end result being that i talk to a lot of homeless people (or in a lot of cases they just talk to the dog, but that's fine because he's kind of cooler than i am anyway). the weather this week has been unusually cold and is only going to get colder. so ethan and i decided to gather up a bunch of blankets and socks and clothing to give to people since it's going to be in the 30s at night. so last night was part 1 of a multi-night series of giving stuff out to people, which was moderately successful,but the best part, the reason it was only moderately successful? someone had beat us to it and had started handing out jackets earlier in the evening. how awesome is that? it's really goddamn awesome is what it is. i sort of went out there last night feeling like we were doing the bare minimum and feeling kind of disheartened about the world and my own contributions to it, and came home feeling so happy that someone else had taken some serious initiative in helping people out. i still feel so happy about it.

so yeah, my dog is awesome and i love him and i'm glad that while he really wouldn't exist in nature without selective breeding, i'm glad that he was bred ethically and that he's not a heaving snorting mess that can't walk a mile without passing out.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-12-02 02:02 pm

talking/walking dead

there's this website called 1iota that allows you to enter lotteries to get tickets to free events in and around hollywood. that was how i got tickets to see paul mccartney and rob zombie over the past few months. i have been in the lottery for months to get tickets to see talking dead (which if you don't know, is a live broadcast that happens after walking dead where they interview cast members, people involved with the show, and celebrity fans) but i've never gotten in. the audience for talking dead is small (40 people) so i assumed that most of the tickets went to VIPs (they do) and that I'd never get a shot at attending.

being that this past weekend was a holiday weekend as well as shopping insanity and the hollywood christmas parade, i think there were less entrants and i ended up getting tickets. i was psyched since this was something i'd been trying to get tickets for for like, a year, plus it was the mid season finale (i hate how they've rebranded the holiday break). i was sort of less than psyched since my appreciation for the show has gone down a lot over the past year and it really is a timesuck to go to one of these things. but it would still be a cool experience so why not.

doing this really is a time suck, they tell you to get there around 3 (the live show is at 7) so it's a lot of hanging out on fairfax. ethan and i ended up being the first people in line, so i hung out and read while ethan headed over to the grove to do some shopping. finally after a million hours, they let us into the CBS lot, confiscated our phones/kindles/electronic devices, and herded us into viewing rooms. Since this was a "big deal" episode, we were watching it WAY before the east coast did, after which we spent a good hour asking questions to the producers so they could pick which ones would make it to air. at this point i learned that they tend to go for really basic and stupid questions (i guess for the sake of brevity) vs ones that are either critical of the show or ones that just require more thought in general (which makes sense since it's a live one hour show). so (my) questions like "how is it being justified that someone left a baby strapped to a carseat on the ground during a crisis" or "in this universe has no one heard of the term zombie prior to the outbreak, is that why there are so many other ways to refer to the walkers?" or "are there things from the comic that didn't make the show that in hindsight you're bummed about? or are there things that happened on the show that you wish you could incorporate into the comic?"* or "Daryl as a fan favorite seems to sort of be having a Legolas type arc of increasing bad-assery happening, how conscious are you of responding to fan favorites?" don't make the cut. instead questions like "how does daryl feel about the fact carol is gone" or "is maggie sad that ____ is dead" are more appropriate, which really is kind of stupid and kind of boring since a) they're fictional characters and that shit will hopefully play out over the second half of the season and b) it seems more interesting to ask questions about the creative process in general vs asking questions about fictional people doing fictional things or having fictional feelings. but whatever, i was feeding my questions to Ethan (who is not a huge fan, but is a big attention whore) since I didn't want to be on TV anyway, so in the end I'm happier than hardcore fans got to get up and ask questions that in the end were fed to them by producers anyway.

watching the episode with a group of hardcore fans was kind of awesome because people got really into it when good or bad things happened (and last night's episode was pretty action packed so a lot happened) but it also got sort of awkward at times since I ended up laughing at things that were supposed to be serious. i think this is in part because a)i tend to laugh when i'm anxious and b) i am steadily getting toward the end of really caring about the show and as such moments that were supposed to be filled with grim determination were just funny to me. i'm not going to get too into the episode since it's only the day after and people might not have seen it yet. i do feel that the show is just getting kind of worse at times goes by. a common criticism is that it's turning into lost with zombies and i can totally see that. (though to be fair i hardly watch tv and lost with zombies is still better than most of what's out there)

the taping itself was fun mostly because chris hardwick (that is such a good porn name) is really good at what he does. beforehand he was hanging out in the audience, he blew through doing the promos and podbusters in one take, and was really good at putting the guests at ease in between commercials. the studio was sort of less than ideal if you were in the back (we were) as it was kind of hard to see the stage. but it was still really cool and if i ever got the chance to do it again, i totally would. plus we got free toys.

*we couldn't ask that because it repeatedly gets asked about Daryl, where I was more interested in the universe on a whole, not the Dixon brothers.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-11-27 07:58 pm

(no subject)

i keep wanting to update this thing to keep hope alive, but i find it hard to write "and then i did this cool thing and it was a lot of fun" or "i like walking the dog on hollywood blvd, it's fun" because really, i do sort of feel that when i'm happy with life, when i'm doing things, i tend to not have a lot to say about it.

last night ethan and i went to a comic shop to see a bunch of people rip on episodes of star trek MST3K style. it totally helped that one of the people ripping on the episode was wil wheaton, who managed to both give the audience interesting facts about the show while also being sort of ruthless about his experience with the producers. it was easily one of the funniest things i've seen in ages. like, hyperventilating funny.

tomorrow is thanksgiving which we're doing on the quiet side, then friday is record store day so i'll go brave amoeba to pick up a couple albums, otherwise i plan on just hanging out with ethan and going to see a taping of the talking dead on sunday.

i'm still astounded at how fun living in hollywood is. i still miss venice a ton, mostly because it's cleaner and people weren't getting shot down the street with quite as much frequency as here, but i'm really starting to enjoy hollywood a lot.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-11-23 10:15 am

in which i'm cranky about paleo

for the past week i've seen four or five FB posts linking to this article:

which when viewed in its original context (satire) is funny, however it has seemed (and i could be dead wrong on this) that it's now being passed around as something with actual valid content, which makes it about a thousand times more frustrating. i -get- the idea that the name is a misnomer and i have no problem calling the lifestyle out on that, but what i do have a problem with is a whole bunch of people who seem to historically have had no problem with linguistic, or even cultural appropriation, suddenly turning into anthropologists or linguists taking great umbrage at the misuse of the word paleo. however pretty quickly instead of it being a discussion on language and the evolution of words, it reads more like "fuck your fad diet, it's annoying"

last year ethan and i decided to do the whole30 thing to clean up our diets as we were getting pretty sugar logged as a result of the bevvy of delicious cupcakes and doughnuts you can find in LA. i was originally not too into the idea since i thought it was sort of a hippie atkins, and my own diet was pretty limited due to the masto, but i went along with it for moral support (plus it would be way easier to only have to cook one meal vs two). at first i felt kinda awful, like i was going through withdrawal or something. but after the first week i started to feel good, like really good, like better than i had in years. my skin lesions decreased, my tryptase dropped a medically significant amount, my bone lesions disappeared, my bone density increased substantially...and i was taking less medication as well. i in fact was going through withdrawal, from sugar and gluten. two things that in retrospect made me feel awful, but were also super addictive. (a friend actually posted something about how when she stopped drinking, her desire for all things sugary shot up through the roof, kind of replacing one drug with another)

here's the thing about paleo - no one who follows the diet takes the name seriously. go listen to any podcast, read any blog or cookbook, no one truly invested in this lifestyle thinks to themselves "right on, i'm totally repping the paleolithic era in a comprehensive and accurate manner", much in the same way people who follow a Mediterranean or South Beach diet don't think to themselves that they are accurately replicating the dietary practices of people who live on the Mediterranean or in South Beach. Plus, for the most part, the Mediterranean and South Beach diets are just that, they're *diets* where the onus is on rapid weightloss (i think this is more true with South Beach than Mediterranean, something that is totally illustrated by the vast amount of SB approved prepackaged crap you can buy), where with paleo, the onus is on overall -health- (which I think is a pretty important factor when trying to compare them).

I think what bothers me about this paleo backlash is that saying it's solely about the name, to a degree, seems disingenuous, especially since again, most people who adhere to the lifestyle don't take the name seriously, they know they're not really eating like warriors or cavemen (much in the same way no one at manray was ever plotting to overthrow some modern day equivalent of the roman empire), they are just eating whole food, low carb, low processed sugar diets with the intention of improving their health. it almost seems like people -not- invested in it are taking the name way more literally than it was ever intended.

but even aside from that, why is it -THAT- important to critique either the name of the dietary lifestyle OR the dietary lifestyle of your friends? why immediately decide that it's a "fad" diet, why even fucking care? i don't care what my friends eat/drink/smoke; as long as they are healthy and happy, that is what matters.

i think i take issue with this since these dietary changes have markedly improved my quality of life. as i mentioned before, many of the serious problems i have due to the mast cell disorder have been changed for the better. my stomach is in better shape, my bones are in better shape, my skin is in better shape, i have more energy, and i went from needing -thousands- of dollars in medication a month just to ensure i wouldn't end up in the hospital, to maybe taking two hundred dollars worth of medication a month. that is medically significant, all my bloodwork and bone scans are medically significant, it's not a case of "well i've radically overhauled my diet, i better at least find something good about it" it's literally hard data proving that since i've made these changes I have dramatically improved my overall health. and because of all this, yeah i feel defensive about people calling it a fad or going for the low hanging fruit & criticizing the name.

blah. realistically i'm putting too much thought or effort into this. people can mock whatever they want, but for the life of me I cannot understand wasting the time and/or energy picking apart something that is clearly making positive changes in people's lives. EVEN if it has a dopey name.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-11-01 04:44 pm

hollywood rant #2

so hollywood is great for people watching, and even moreso on halloween, as we discovered last night.

the streets were flooded with people in costume. like, i've had to push my way through time's sq on new years eve to get to a concert, i've been to the thanksgiving day parade in ny, but last night was just intense.

neither ethan or i got dressed up. we went to a parking lot a block away to see a free rob zombie concert (meh) and afterwards we went home, made dinner, dressed the dog as jesse pinkman, undressed the dog, and took him for a walk. somehow in the short amount of time between leaving the concert and then going back out, the population of hollywood increased tenfold. the dog, oblivious to the serious risk he had of being stepped on by some drunken asshole, was thrilled...but it quickly got to the point where we had to pick him up as the crowds were just getting thicker (and drunker), and duck down a side street to get out of the chaos.

usually i feel pretty safe in hollywood at night. most of the violence that happens is either gang related or nightclub related and since i am not in a gang and don't go to nightclubs, i've got my invisible and perhaps unwarranted invisible wall of invincibility around me. last night, that wall crumbled in like, 5 seconds. at one point, we were walking and this group of 5 or 6 guys aggressively pushed past us. i noticed them because i liked their really heavy makeup (they were done up like the cast of dead presidents), but for whatever stupid reason, i remember thinking, "you could seriously fuck someone up and possibly get away with it because you'd be impossible to identify without the makeup". they made me uncomfortable, but i brushed it off since at that point i felt like anything would make me uncomfortable.

we walked the dog, but the whole walk just felt intense and hurried and weird. there were obviously thousands of people having a great time, but there were a lot of angry or drunk messes out there too, and for whatever stupid reason, i seemed more keyed into the vibe they were throwing off. (though i've increasingly realized i just have little to no patience for people who feel like the only way to celebrate is to get drunk. while at first my sobriety wasn't a choice, at this point is completely is, and i just find it so incredibly pathetic and tiresome to see people incapable of figuring out how a bike, a crosswalk, or a door works) I was just completely over crowds and shoving and wanted to go home.

we got home and i was looking at twitter and saw a picture of the guys who had pushed past us, having been arrested for beating some stranger to a bloody pulp, apparently very shortly after we'd seen them.

i set down to do some work (i tape hoops for hoopnotica) and about an hour into it realized that in the background i'd been hearing sirens and helicopters for at least half an hour. i went back to twitter (there's a feed that updates from an LAPD scanner) and it turned out there'd been a 700 person riot at a club 5 or 6 blocks away. of course no riot in LA is complete without people getting shot, so that happened a couple times. overall i think something like 80 people were arrested by the time i went to bed around 4am, the sky still thick with the sounds of helicopters and police sirens. i still felt safe, but wearied by the whole experience and just wanting to not deal with society for a little while.

then i woke up today to find out that someone had freaked out in LAX and shot up one of the terminals.

there are times where i feel like i am not cut out for la. where i miss the simplicity and tininess of boston, and this week is SO ENTIRELY one of those times.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-11-01 04:18 pm

hollywood rant #1

usually i am pretty ok with living in hollywood. i miss venice something awful, the weather/smog here actively bothers me, but venice is becoming insanely expensive and we had to move. plus as nice as the westside is, it's nice in a pseudo yuppie-you-never-leave-this-place way, and we tend to want to do things (aside from living) not on the westside...which is really hard to accomplish unless you don't mind spending 1-2 hours in the car...which is still difficult for me to process since 1-2 hours in the car on the east coast usually meant we ended up in another state, not the other side of a single - bloated by urban sprawl - city

it's weird, venice was a combination of ludicrously wealthy people and homeless surfers with an increasingly shrinking middle class thrown in the was a harsh juxtaposition, though for the most part it seemed like a large percentage of the homeless population chose to live in RV's or on the street as the weather was nice, the had their board, they could recycle cans and were generally left alone by the residents of was still disgusting to see 15million dollar homes (i think that sort of extravagance is disgusting in general) on streets lined with RVs with more people living in a single RV than in the houses, but it sort of worked and even the homeless didn't seem like they were doing too bad (especially compared to the residents of skid row, which was just so awful i tried to ignore it which made me feel like a total asshole).

hollywood is a whole other story, it feels like the homeless here are different. it seems more like resignation as opposed to acceptance. every night when i take the dog for a walk, pretty much half the doorways on sunset blvd have people sleeping in them...and it's a LOT of kids. kids who probably moved out here hoping to make it in the industry, and didn't, or kids who saw "where they day takes you" and totally romanticized it. they rarely ask me for spare change, though they usually ask to play with the dog, which i'm fine with because it makes him happy, it makes them happy, and it also is sort of acts as a vehicle for making a connection, no matter how brief, since to a degree these kids are invisible when set against the copious amounts of pomp and circumstance that make up hollywood blvd or the sunset strip.

it's funny because venice bothered me for the opulent way in which many people lived, but hollywood bothers me for the opulent way in which the industry (that often allows the people in venice to live so opulently) is run. every other week there's some huge movie premier at grauman's chinese theater where they roll out the red carpet, bring in tons of semi's for the news stations, studios, entertainment channels, and general media, just completely dominate the street with police and private security for a half hour event. all those fancy pictures you see of Brad Pitt or Harrison Ford showing up for their newest movie? a block away there are probably 20 homeless kids in sleeping bags who have been displaced for the evening. these events obviously cost a ton of money but they are nothing more than masturbatory self aggrandizement for an industry that is, in many ways, outdated. these events existed for print and television media to show us how fancy the celebrity experience was, a chance to see celebrities out of character but still living a far posher existence than the rest of us, something we barely had a peek at. but now with social media completely tearing that curtain down either willingly (twitter, fb, instagram) or unwillingly (thedirty, perezhilton, tmz), these events seem more and more pointless. the amount of money essentially wasted just becomes more and more repulsive when you see how harsh the juxtaposition of the fake world they're temporarily creating for their own amusement is compared to the rest of the street, and even moreso when you think about how badly Los Angeles, let alone the entire state of CA is doing financially overall.

i guess it bothers me because realistically you can't begrudge successful people for wanting to live a certain way. yeah it bothers me when a family of 2 has a four thousand square foot gated house because that seems excessive, but at least they're using the house*, but the bullshit that goes on in hollywood is pointless. i don't think premieres are the promotional vehicles that they used to be, and it's just really really sickening to see so much money being wasted. obviously i sincerely doubt that the studios or whoever is paying for these things would suddenly turn around and donate the money they spend on a premiere to say, improving drug dependency or homeless outreach programs in the city, but it would be nice to pretend.

*actually, i have to kind of take that back, a decent number of the huge houses in venice appear to be summer homes.
hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
2013-10-26 08:14 pm

in which i throw a tantrum about drunk people

So we went to see the purge yesterday with Ethan and a friend. I was pretty excited about the whole thing because I love interactive storytelling and if there is one thing that they take seriously in LA, it's halloween. The whole experience should've been awesome...essentially we were part of a group of 1%ers who were, for whatever reason, taking a great amount of entertainment in the annual "purge", which is a 12 hour period where all crime is legal, presumably as a form of population control. we then get taken hostage and get dragged through an entire 6 story building completing tasks, being threatened by revolutionaries, and working to complete tasks to try to get the revolutionaries to not execute us. The whole experience should've been awesome as the actors were great, obviously a ton of time and effort had been put into decorating both the inside and outside of the building, so many of the pieces were there for it to be pretty incredible, or at the very least, more engaging than Universal where they scare you more through shocking you vs telling any sort of story. However, sadly, our experience was pretty much trainwrecked by a drunk chick who would not fucking shut up throughout the entire goddamn experience. She was CLEARLY annoying everyone in our group, to the point toward the end, we were told that we have to sacrifice one of our own and the whole group instantly turned her over to be killed. I've never seen a group of strangers come to a unanimous decision that quickly in my life ever.

I'm just going to copy my yelp review here because it's sucks because most of the time I have little to no patience for people who let one element of a situation (or life) ruin their outlook on things. life is too short to spend an inordinate amount of time pissed off about shit that you can't change, which is something i've really focused on this year...which has been great in a lot of ways. but for whatever reason this whole experience just drove me completely bonkers.

Honestly I'd want to give this 3.5 stars because this night was a bizarre combination of awesome and complete suck which I'll elaborate on in a second... I'm also going to try to be really vague since i don't want to give away any spoilers for people who haven't gone.

The location is great and the performance starts off REALLY REALLY REALLY strongly. They do a great job of decorating the interior and exterior of the building, the actors are all fantastic, the experience starts off super frenetic and amazingly intense, but halfway through it gets a little muddled and repetitive. It's pretty interactive (moreso than sleep no more or delusion), the characters talk to you and actually seem to sort of acknowledge you as individuals vs "nameless, irrelevant customers", you have to perform tasks, it's quite immersive overall. They do a GREAT job of timing the groups that go into the experience, we never heard the people who went in before us, for all intents and purposes our group was in there alone... I probably would have enjoyed this experience immensely but we had one glaring problem which set the tone and COMPLETELY ruined the night

You go through the experience in smallish groups and are forced to work together and perform certain tasks with each other. You're acutely aware of the people you are experiencing this with, and ostensibly it's supposed to build some camaraderie since it's you vs. the purge. However we had an INCREDIBLY drunk person in our group. Like, practically falling down, slurring her speech, constantly heckling the actors, just being completely obnoxious. To be quite frank, she fucking ruined the experience for me and my friends because she was the epitome of a stupid, trashy bitch. I was praying that somehow she'd get separated from us so I could stop listening to her wailing about how she had to pee, how she was annoyed the actors weren't paying enough attention to her, just a constant insipid barrage of drunken foolery. I wanted to tell her off _so_ badly. However being as I, unlike her, have some fucking manners, I kept it to myself as I didn't think getting into a fight would've really enhanced the situation for anyone.

She should NOT have been allowed in the show as she was pretty clearly intoxicated even when we were in line. Apparently the producers noticed her and figured she might be a problem and sent some sort of defacto chaperone in with our group to keep tabs on her...which is cool and all of them to do, but said chaperone should've removed her about 5 minutes into the experience as once the play/frights started, she did not fucking let up for a second. I was astounded at the wealth of useless, self serving, loud, nonsense this woman was coming out with. It's perplexing when people talk constantly and say so little in the process

I live in Hollywood, I'm used to seeing intoxicated people making fools of themselves, but when you're in a supposedly intense situation in close quarters and you're paying to have an immersive situation and some asshole is CONSTANTLY trying to make the focus of the event be on them, it's not fun. I didn't pay to see "drunk bitch make a fool of herself" i paid to see "the purge" and sadly I saw a lot more of the former vs the latter.

I wish I could find this fool and get her to reimburse the entire group since she essentially wasted our time and money by constantly trying to make the experience about her. I also think that the producers of the show need to be more proactive about making sure that attendees are at least relatively sober, or if not sober at least not exceedingly distracting and disruptive.

So it's hard for me to review The Purge truthfully since my experience was more "learning how to put up with an insanely drunk, trashy, crude, idiot who was easily my mom's age" vs "learning how to survive the purge"

So yeah, producers, security, whoever, please do the rest of us who want to experience your night a favor and bounce people who are obviously walking disasters. If it was Universal it wouldn't matter since those mazes are solely about shock tactics. But when you're trying to tell a story and you've got people who are practically screaming, "PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" at every possible opportunity, it kind of detracts from all the hard work your actors and set designers have put into the production.

It sucks because I'm generally easy to please, but when it comes to horror, the overall tone is REALLY's why we watch horror movies or tell spooky stories in the dark. we WANT to be scared, we want to be on the edge of our seats practically drowning in the experience...and it's just really really not possible when you're trying to actively ignore an incredibly loud heckler. It completely destroys the illusion