Fuck off, anxiety
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But seriously, anxiety is so fucking stupid. I can't believe I've been a wreck all day just because I wrote a note in a forum to an author I like. Hitting "post" on the message started a whole cascade of thoughts a la: "Why did you do that? She doesn't want to hear from you. She doesn't give a shit that you live in the same town. She probably will think you mentioned that because you're hoping to become her best friend and get a bunch of writing and publishing advice from her. You're going to come off like a total kiss-ass; another stupid wannabe author who wants to mooch off of her success. That's not true, but that's what it will look like. And what was that jokey line about not needing to worry about your being a creepy stalker--that was a stupid fucking thing to say. Even if you do live in the same town and mentioned it, who the fuck says something like that? Jesus, now she probably will worry that you ARE stalking her even though you aren't really and even if you did see her you'd probably hide and not say anything because you didn't want to bother her. But it doesn't matter, because it'll come off like you are stalking her, and she'll think you're crazy and, haha, you are kind of crazy because you're still listening to this train of thought instead of telling it to fuck off already. Anyway, there are probably some rules for that newsgroup even though you didn't see any posted anywhere, and they probably won't want to let you into their club and how dare you come in and try to get the attention of their pet author like that--how arrogant! Who do you even think you are? You're not anybody important so just get over yourself already."

In case you ever wondered what social anxiety sounds like, that's it. It's kind of like a loud speaker in your head that's also attached to your feelings. You know that cringing shame you feel when you remember something you did a long time ago that you regret? Social anxiety feels exactly like that, only all of the time and about the dumbest, tiniest little things. It's about imagining all the worst, most horrible misconceptions people could possibly have about something you said/did, and then undermining your own worth by blaming yourself for saying/doing anything in the first place and making them feel that way. It's more than being afraid of public embarrassment. Shit, I am scared of being embarrassed ON THE INTERNET.

The worst part though is knowing that it's all bullshit and not being able to stop the feelings anyway. For example, the newsgroup I posted to is a science fiction and fantasy forum, and the newsgroup board itself is dedicated to this author's work. She hangs out there all the time and people seem to post threads about whatever there. It seems perfectly reasonable to assume that posting a note saying you're a fan of the author's works would not be frowned upon in any way. There's no reason to think she shouldn't like to hear from a fan. And even if she thought the fan was weird or off-putting, she probably has the sense to just write something generic back like, "Oh cool that you live in the same town. Good luck with your writing efforts." It's not like she's going to turn into a screeching harpy and lambaste you for (horror of horrors) being friendly. And even if there was some sort of weird "don't just write nice notes to the author this forum is dedicated to," they would probably just delete your post and that would be that. No reason to go into an apoplectic fit over it. But the brain doesn't always listen.

Weirdly enough, writing all of that out actually helped a lot. Maybe I need to write out my anxiety stream-of-consciousness more often.

(no subject)
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Apparently these days I only write here when I am having problems with my anxiety. I guess it's because I feel like I want to tell someone, but I also don't want to broadcast it on my facebook or bug my friends about it. I suppose I feel like no one will care, or maybe they won't know what to say and it will just make them feel awkward too. I don't like to whine at people, or make people feel sorry for me either, so that makes it hard too. But then I feel really lonely, because when I am having anxiety I don't have anyone to talk to because I don't talk about it. Nice vicious cycle I've gotten into, I know. So now I turn to good old LJ, where I can write shit and pretend people read it.

Except I don't really want to talk about it. I just wish I had a true friend I could sit around with sometimes--a kindred spirit. Jesus, it feels like forever since I had a friend like that. I'm not even sure where to find them anymore.

Best Rom Com Drama Ever?
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It's official: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop is one of the best rom com dramas ever. I was wrong when I said the main character was a girl, because it's totally all about the male lead (Cha Chi Soo). Can I say just one more time how refreshing it is to have the GUY swooning all over the girl and NOT after she's already confessed and made him have to think about whether he likes her back or not? It's true that the girl (Yang Eun-bi, 25) asks him out in the first episode, but it's a completely spur-of-the-moment thing, and she immediately regrets it when she figures out about the whole, yanno, 6-year age difference and the fact that he's still in HIGH SCHOOL, ffs (note: while in HS, he is still 19 years old, so very much legal by American standards in the statutory rape sense, and legal enough from what I can gather from sources on South Korean ages of maturity, though it's a bit murky.... You're safer as a woman dating a younger guy; we'll just put it that way. And if anyone's still squicky about it, the actor is in his 20s and looks it so... ANYHOW...).

The writing is great. There are a lot of great puns and turns of phrase that start out funny but then end up having deeper meanings over the course of the show. It's also incredibly self-aware and tends to utilize a lot of drama cliches while slightly turning them on their head and making fun of them at the same time. Again, I love that this drama isn't afraid to change up the gender roles for a main couple--in the end it's the Prince who ends up getting saved from his ivory tower by his sword-wielding lady (no really, she runs up the stairs of a giant skyscraper and whisks him away from his father's clutches while wielding a plunger). The whole thing is executed with exactly the right amount of tongue in cheek to make it clear that it knows how silly it is, without completely going off the deep end, and that makes the characters lovable and fun but still believable on a fundamental level. Chi Soo and Eun-bi both have good development as characters over the story arc, and their chemistry is definitely smoking hot when it needs to be. And even more than that--even with all the silliness and strategic overacting, the world of Flower Boy Ramyun Shop is more real than the one presented in most other dramas. Chi Soo learns that he doesn't need to play the noble idiot because even if your shop gets torn down, life still goes on. Sometimes relationships are worth a little ruination, and being with the people you love is better than being locked in the penthouse of a modern-day ivory tower.
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Flower Boy Ramen Shop
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Since I've been sick the last few days and my computer's been on the fritz I've been watching a lot of dramas since they aren't particularly taxing on my brain and pass the time quickly. After initial hesitation based almost entirely on the name of the show (and its implications for the genre of the piece), I bit the bullet and started Flower Boy Ramyun(Ramen) Shop. I have to admit, it's really hard not to like it. Even though it seems from the premise that it's just going to be another "girl for whatever contrived plot reason begins working at a [insert foodstuffs] shop staffed entirely by young pretty boys who are all in love with her" show(/comic), it doesn't actually start out that way at all. Actually, I'm in the middle of episode 6 (of 16), and they still haven't gotten to that part yet. They've been establishing all the characters and setting up relationships well before mixing in the shared workplace stuff, and so far it's avoided all the pitfalls of harem shows/comics.

What I think I like most about it though is that while the main character is a girl and the genre is romantic comedy, she is not the one who is pining after a certain guy, or trying hard to choose between guys (or at least not yet anyway). The male lead is the one who's going through all the "omg, I think I'm in love" revelations and then acting crazily as a result. That's usually left up to women in this genre, so it's refreshing to see the tables get turned--especially since he starts out a total player, so this is pretty substantial character development for him. 

I also really enjoy the fact that there's no bad guy in this show. The second female lead isn't a mean bitch who pulls hair or throws water in people's faces or anything, she's just a little misguided in what she really wants/needs in a relationship. The big corporate boss dad isn't an evil, manipulative asshole--he's a huge softie who wants the best for his son, though it leads him to be way too lenient. It's nice, light, fluffy stuff to watch while sick.
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It's all in your head
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I spend far too much time being crushed by what I imagine to be other peoples' expectations of me.

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I'm observing a Japanese class three days a week at Joel's school. Every class the teacher takes roll and at the end she always says "Peggy-san mo imasu, ne..." (and Peggy is also here...) since I am not on the roll. Today it sounded like she said, "Peggy-san ga inai..." (Peggy's not here) and four or five people all went, "Yes she is! Peggy is here!" Among them were people who I didn't even think knew my name at all. It kind of made my day a little bit. 

The story of my life right now
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me:  Oh this book
I really don't know about it.
I need to get to [character] and the concept of [story element] faster in chapter 1
Chapter 3 is ssslllloooowwww until the end
and some of it is kind of...quaint
Joel:  So fix it
me:  ARGH
I am starting to hate this book
Like srsly not want to see it ever again
I don't want to go fix the first 3 chapters AGAIN
Joel:  That'll happen :/
me:  I'm wondering if it's salvageable
I'm wondering if I should direct my energy to developing [other project] because it fits the epic genre better
But no, that's dumb
I should really just fix the first three chapters again
It gets good in the middle!
me: I'm just frustrated because every new thing I have to do pushes back the date I can realistically be done :P
And, rightly or not, I'm feeling a lot of pressure to be finished with it.
me:  I think part of it is because I feel like I can't really call myself an author until I'm shopping stuff around which is probably silly but it's a thing anyway

Nice Guy
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Nice Guy (The Innocent Man) makes me realize why it is that people like soap operas. I've never bought into American soaps mostly because they never end and so I never really saw the point in getting involved with them. Korean melodramas have the distinct advantage of having a beginning, middle, and an end, so you know there will be a real resolution and can allow yourself to get really caught up in the story without wondering how long it's going to be until the next ridiculous makjang (outrageous plot element) that makes it possible for all of the same characters to have a new story in season 225 of As the World Turns.

I'm actually surprised how into it I am. I am not usually the type to shout at the screen when I'm watching a show, but this show really makes me hate the villain so much! In episode 5 I was shouting at Ma Ru, "No, don't listen to her! That bitch is full of shit! AUGH!!! YOU ARE TOO SMART TO FALL FOR THIS CRAP." There are elements of it that are definitely silly ("I'm going to rappel down this cliff to save a Barbie doll now!"), but I'm really buying into the raw, angry, vengeful tone of the show. Also, kissing already in episode 5? I'll jump on that train for sure.

I know this is basically turning into my kdrama review blog, but I haven't got a whole lot else going on that isn't just the same old shit. My life is pretty boring right now, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I am not a library
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A couple of people have asked to borrow my comics recently. When it was just the professor I am working with and one other person, I was pretty open to it. Now that ANOTHER person is asking, I am starting to get concerned. I don't really like loaning out my stuff to start with. I definitely don't want to become known as a comic book library for people too cheap to buy their own. I should have gone with a NOT EVEN ONCE policy. Now things are awkward. Argh.

Linguistic Limitations
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Last week when we were flying back to California for a wedding, I found an abandoned copy of 50 Shades of Grey by our gate. It's very difficult for me to turn down the opportunity to pick up a free book--particularly when it's supposed to be terrible--so I grabbed it. I didn't get a chance to really get into it until today. I'm about 150 pages in now, and I have some thoughts.

Firstly, just to get it out of the way; I am not going to bitch about the writing. It's not written well, but I didn't expect it to be. This book began its life as erotic fan fiction, and I definitely expected something of that caliber. I'm not big into fan fiction, but I have read more than enough internet erotica and actual, published romance novels to have a good idea of what that means. And as far as erotic fan fiction goes, it's really not the worst thing ever. Sure, it's annoying that the author stops every third page to remind me that everything is happening in Washington State (I guess she thought we would forget) or that Mr. Grey's pants just "hang off of his hips" (yes, she uses this description a thousand times), and the main character sounds more like a bubble-headed teenager than a woman about to graduate from college, but meh, it's erotic fan fiction. It's not the sort of erotica that gets me off, but I can appreciate it for what it is.

Several people have already commented on blogs and elsewhere on some of the thematic problems with the book re: the BDSM world and the fact that in the end, Grey is only a dom because he was sexually abused as a kid or something ridiculous like that (the only explanation for his sexual kinks is that he is irreparably psychologically broken, of course!), so I won't talk about that either. I do feel like I've read some comments suggesting that Grey treats Ana horribly and that this is a awful template for a relationship, which I can only answer with a tsk. I mean, how many erotic stories--narratives written entirely with the intent to make you have orgasms--have you gotten relationship advice from? Have you read some of that stuff?! Let's just say there is a healthy amount of erotica where the theme is full on, non-consensual rape. Lots of otherwise normal women get off on that and it doesn't mean they want to be kidnapped and repeatedly raped by a stranger in real life. Same with 50 Shades of Grey. I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be a relationship manual in any way, shape or form. Guys who point to this and say huffily, "Gosh if this is how women want to be treated, I'll just stop being nice and push them around instead! This just proves that girls don't really like nice guys," don't deserve to be in relationships.

That said, given what I had read about the book, I expected Grey to be *more* controlling. He's actually pretty freaking considerate. He doesn't do more than kiss her before telling her all about kinky he is, and he tells her that it's a required part of a relationship with him. In other words: he's completely honest and straight forward with her. He doesn't lock her in his dungeon and force her to submit to him--he gives full disclosure and a clear, open out. She is 100% free to not be involved with him at all if she doesn't want to be. The problem is that Ana is apparently a 15 year old in a 22 year old's body (ball of raging hormones) AND she thinks maybe she can change him. This a recipe for disaster. I haven't actually read the whole book, so I can't say how it turns out, but I think that will be the biggest sticking point for me. It pisses me off when someone says plainly, "I am not the sort of person who will x, y, z" and the other person thinks, "well maybe for me s/he will x, y, z."

Beyond the book itself, there is one thing that hits me while I'm reading it and that is how ridiculously our culture handles sex. Particularly I find it interesting to note how our cultural hangups about the dirtiness of sex have crept even into our language. I don't make a habit out of reading romance novels, but when I have I have noticed that there is almost no way to write about hot, sexy sex without sounding silly or just downright laughable. How is it even possible that I can be reading an erotic novel where the main theme is hot sex and the main character refers to her vagina as "down there?" Are we 11 years old? No. So why do romance authors write this way? Because when you think about it, there aren't many useable alternatives to "vagina," (which has too clinical of a connotation (if it _must_ have a name, it will be called this, but only in front of a doctor or trusted family member)) and almost all of them are considered VERY vulgar and often derogatory and degrading. Unless the character gets off on being degraded (not out of the realm of possibility in BDSM!), there's not much you can do besides make up silly words or use weak metaphors. In the end I just can't handle it. It ends up being too silly for me. This is part of why romance novels haven't become a habit for me. All sex is varied and unique, but our language refuses to see it in more than black and white. Sex is either transcendentally beautiful or unfathomably dirty and there's not a whole lot of room for in between without sounding silly. It's really too bad.


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