I Wanna Be Dead, In Bed Please Kill Me, 'Cause That Would Thrill Me

She hadn’t texted, and I was melting down.
My mind ran in little circles, like a hamster in a wheel.  She hadn’t said she’d text me.  But she normally would have by now, right?  Except it was Thanksgiving weekend, and things were crazy.  But she hadn’t texted me.  I’d clearly done something stupid, and she wasn’t talking to me any more.  Why would she?  I’m arrogant, I’m needy, I’m neurotic, I say stupid things, why would anyone talk to me?
I listed all the things I could have said wrong.  I listed all the reasons why she wouldn’t want to talk to me.  I stayed away from the cell phone, trying not to explode in terror at anyone.
There is one advantage in living with a broken brain for twenty years, and that is the practical feedback from decades of mistakes.  A tiny voice said, You can survive all of this, if you only keep this inside.  I know from a long string of shattered friendships and lovers that bugging them whenever I feel insecure leads to never hearing from them again.  People say, “Oh, you can talk to me whenever,” but this is a lie; they don’t know the volcanic levels of crazy churning within me.  I damn near broke Gini, the love of my life, by asking for reassurance on demand.  I’ve learned to smile and nod and say, “Yes, of course I’ll text,” and then clamp all of that down in a tight can and never ever let it out.
So I hugged my knees and rocked, because I’d clearly done something terrible and I didn’t know what and maybe I should just give it all up and never talk to anyone again and Gini asked me what was wrong and I said it was nothing because it was nothing, my stupid brain was making crazy out of nothing like Rumpelstiltskin spinning gold from straw and oh my God I am insane.
Then she texted.  And we were cool.  Maybe better than.
And I broke down in tears to Gini, asking, “How do you put up with me?”  Because I’d been low-grade shivering miserable all day, and now I was happy, and now I was miserable again because fuck, this was just one text from one person and I do this all the fucking time and why can’t I learn?
I suppose, on some level, I have learned.  I didn’t go crazy spamming people with texts (or worse, calling out of panic), I turned it into a semi-breakdown where I still managed to write and get work done (instead of the full-stop crazy of my twenties), and I didn’t make Gini bear the full weight of things.  On the inside, I was a hurricane; on the outside, I was a summer storm, and I guess I should be glad those shieldings have held.
But it is exhausting.  I wish I could stop it.  But I’ve come to the conclusion as a constant depressive that I cannot control my emotions; all I can do is control how I react to them.  And that helps by not making things worse, because back when I didn’t have a rein on them I was involved in a constant string of psychodrama after psychodrama.  Now I only have occasional drama, when my shields fail.
Still.  I’m tired.  I’m strung out.  And I wish to fucking God I wasn’t this stupid and sensitive, and that I could have a rooted trust in anyone’s care for me, and that I wasn’t a goddamned idiot.
That’s the trick of the depressive: you spend so much time and energy passing for normal. And it sucks.

Immortalize Your Need On My Skin

Once again, over at FetLife (the Facebook for Kinksters), I have chronicled a Tale of my sexual exploits… or kind of not.  This is unusual for me, since I’m retelling an old story with a slightly new twist, about what hickies and scars mean to me.  The beginning of the essay is as such:

There were thirty-two hickeys on my neck, each as precise as her kisses, these tiny blood-red ovals.
This was the only proof that we’d been together. And I didn’t even realize it until I got to school that day.
I suppose I should have been embarrassed. But to me, it was proof that a girl had touched me, had made out with me – which no one had before. Oh, my friend Sue had drunkenly kissed me when I was driving her home, but I was three months away from eighteen and that was all the action I’d ever gotten….

Long-time readers will doubtlessly recognize this tale as a variant on “The Great Misunderstanding,” which remains one of the best personal essays I’ve ever written.  If you’ve ever been beaten down in high school, and wondered how I walked away from that, “The Great Misunderstanding” gives you what is, quite literally, my origin story.  You discover how I lost my virginity and my shame in the same day.
The one on FetLife, “Immortalize Your Need On My Skin,” ties two memories together in a way that illuminates me.  It’s a smaller tale, I suppose.  But if you’ve been irked because I post the sexy-exploratory stuff on Fet, then go read “The Great Misunderstanding” (which is, ostensibly, about Magic: the Gathering but really it’s not) and you’ll get the gist.  And if you are on Fet, then you can see bookends.  In either case, if you like my writings, I’d head over.  And if not, enjoy Black Friday.

The Muppets: A Review By Fans, For Fans

There are many similarities between Muppets and talking apes; they both talk, they’re both furry, they’re both intended to be reflections of humanity.  The only difference is that the talking apes don’t break out into spontaneous musical numbers, and even that’s been rectified once.
Oh yeah, there’s one other similarity: As I said in my review of “Rise of Planet of the Apes,” I will lie to you about both.  Because both talking apes and Muppets are wedged close to my heart.  They were installed during childhood, and as such it is impossible for me to be objective about such things.
The new Muppets movie is made for Muppet fans.  If you’ve ever teared up during “The Rainbow Connection,” this movie is for you.
Now, I believe it’s pretty good for non-Muppets fans.  It’s got some great musical numbers – including an excellent addition to the Muppets canon “Life’s A Happy Song,” the heartbreaker “Pictures in my Head,” and of course what we’ve all been waiting for – a barbership quartet version of “Smells like Teen Spirit.”  And the humor is appropriately meta, with a bunch of old Muppets-style references to the fact that yes, they’re in a movie.  *Diabolical laughter.*
The Muppets is, I believe, quite funny even if you’re not a die-hard Muppets fan.  But if you are, there are tons of jokes that reference all the good Muppet movies, and a couple of nons.  The more you know, the more you recognize how this movie is total and utter fan service.
If anything, the weakest bit about the Muppets is the addition of Walter, a young eager fan whose love for the Muppets kick-starts the events that bring the now-forgotten-and-far-spread Muppets team back together for one last reunion tour.  It’s not that Walter is a bad Muppet – far from it, he’s lovable and earnest.  But “lovable and earnest” is also Kermit’s schtick, so there’s a fair amount of overlap between Kermit’s “trying hard and believing the best of everybody” and Walter’s “trying hard and believing the best of everybody,” which leads to a slightly twinned climax where Kermit’s giving speeches that Walter could give, and vice versa.
…well, that and the fact that each of the Muppets gets very little air-time.  Aside from Fozzie, Kermit, and Miss Piggy (who would not be IN the movie if she didn’t have air-time), all of the Muppets are introduced quickly, so quickly I wonder whether kids will get who they are.  Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker are introduced in fifteen seconds of a montage and then largely forgotten, which is par for the course.  It worked for me, who actively cheered when Marvin Suggs and his Muppaphones showed up… But will it snare new kids, who won’t have a real handle on who all these crazy guys are?  Or will the tantalizing glimpses make them want to know more?
Regardless, Jason Segal understands exactly what makes the Muppets tick.  Because the truth is, life in the Muppets universe kind of sucks.  People have big dreams, and they don’t all come true.  It’s a reflection of the Muppet way that the two lovers, Miss Piggy and Kermit, are really not meant to be together – they have such grand love and (in Kermit’s case, hidden) affection, but their personalities are such that they can only achieve happiness in short spurts, in eternal reunions just before the reality of love comes crashing down.
That’s okay, though.  The Muppets are about what happens when dreams break and you’re still there, and what do you do then?  And Kermit winces and takes your hand and bravely tells you that yes, you keep going.  You always keep going.
The one true lesson of the Muppets is hope.  Jason Segal knows this.  And as such, there is hope, and love, and bravery in the face of total defeat, enough to make me cry.  A lot.
The Muppets is not a great movie – like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it is a B-movie that swings hard and hits far, arriving right on target.  It’s as though Babe Ruth pointed his finger and announced, “I AM GOING TO HIT TO GET ME ON THIRD BASE!” and hit a perfect ball to the outfield.  I don’t think the Muppets was meant to be great, merely entertaining.  And in that, it succeeds.  I’ll watch it on video, probably a lot.
I can’t tell you whether you should see it, unless you still feel this soft punch to your heart whenever you remember that Jim Henson’s dead.  If you do, then you owe it to yourself to go.  Jason Segal did Jim Henson proud, I think.

The Things I Am Grateful For

With the bird in the oven and the Secret Bosworth stuffing resting flavorfully inside it, it is time to ask: What am I thankful for?
Well, first, I’m grateful for you.  All of you, reading this now.  I sit here every day and blurt off whatever comes to mind, and you people respond with such zest and thoughtful feedback and counterpoints that I want to post the next day.  The reason I have these meme-days is because I like you all so much that there are times I don’t have much to say but want to keep hearing from you.
The number-one thing I hear when people email me is, “You don’t know me, but…”  But comments are the best part of this blog.  If you’ve commented a bunch of times, there’s a good chance I know who you are, since that’s my favorite part.  Me writing?  Fuck that.  I knew I felt that already.
You responding?  That’s the juice, man.  And so I keep doing it because I fucking love you all. Seriously.
Second, I’m grateful for the poly-loves in my life: By happy coincidence, I’ve been dating Bec and Angie for three years now, since we started up in the same month, and that places them squarely in the tied third-fourth place for “Ferrett’s longest relationship.”  Only my fiancee Bari lasted longer, and that wasn’t as nearly as happy as it’s been with Bec and Angie.  Angie’s silly texts and shared joy and obscure lusts for Sims and Top Gear, Bec’s quirky attitudes and shared music and dancing movements – both of them have continually raised the bar on “what a good relationship is,” and I thank them for continuing to put up with my delightful oscillations between arrogance and neurosis.
Also, the sex is hawt.
In that vein, I’d like to thank Jenna and Jen and for being in my life, neither of whom I see nearly enough, both of whom fill my life with joy and happiness and occasional bits of blistering desire.  I generally don’t mention other people in here for fear of dragging them onto a stage that they did not ask for and would get undue attention should they left, but today’s a little different because they are awesome.
I’m grateful for a strong family; my Dad, who’s been a rock of support, and my Mom, who helped bless me with a wondrous new kitchen this year.  I got damn good parents in the scheme of things – the kind of parents so good that they divorced when I was young and yet never once did I feel an ebbing of love or felt like a football kicked between them.  Now that I’m older, I understand just how much it took to make that transition seamless, and for that I thank them.
(Also, my Uncle Tommy.  I had three parents.  Tommy’s gone now, but I still feel that ache of loss like a phantom limb every time I publish a story and realize I’m not able to tell him.  I realize now that if he were alive, it would be a ritual where he’d be the first person I called whenever I sold a story, and I can’t, and that stimulates a flow of tears.)
I’m grateful for two strong daughters, Amy and Erin.  I don’t mention them here because their story is not mine to tell, but they make me prouder every day as they find their own rhythms.
I’m grateful for a lot of good local friends who bring me joy.  I’m grateful for my um-daughters (and now an um-son!) from the Meyers, and of course the Meyers themselves.
I’m grateful for the people who are helping me along my kinkier journeys in life this year, particularly those I’ve been texting with to help me explore such things.  You know who you are, even as I do not name you today.  But I often try stuff out on you first to see how it goes over in real life, and that’s an exploratory process that really helps me more than you can ever know.  Also, I always enjoy dirty pictures and I like that you like thumbing that button.
I’m grateful for all of my writer-friends who’ve helped me grow, supported me when I thought I sucked, critiqued my manuscripts, and just shared the usual frustrations of creating beauty and getting it rejected.  In particular my Viable Paradise buddies and Clarion classmates/teachers, the Codex group, Nayad, and of course my local buds at Cajun Sushi Hamsters who have helped force-evolve me from TheFerrett to my third-stage evolution as Ferrett Steinmetz.
Also, if you’re an editor and have actually paid me money for one of my stories, I’m never quite sure why, but I remain endlessly grateful.
I’m grateful for teeth.  You never know how grateful you are for teeth until you don’t have front ones for four years, but having them has made all the difference in the goddamned world.  Even if they cost us so much that we’re gonna be in the hole this Christmas.
And lastly, the word “thankful” doesn’t even cover it for the love I feel for Gini.  I mention my other poly-loves, but I literally could not do it without her – her continual feedback and gentle questioning makes me far wiser than I ever am.  She is the other half of my soul, the person who I need to talk to because my joy is never complete until I share it with her, the best kisser in the world, and a source of amazing wisdom and beauty and holy God, stuff. Words run out when I try to describe in indescribable, and that is the gratitude and adoration I feel towards her.
Also, the sex is hawt.

A Service, Desperately Needed

Conservatives often talk about the Free Market as though it was a panacea that will create a utopia – a dash of competition’ll clear that right up!  And you talk to them, and they talk about how awful the gummint is, and how wonderful business is.  They’re like a teenager dating for the first time, so in love with the idea that they can’t see the reality.
Say what you will, but the free market left unblinkered inevitably runs towards lying to consumers and screwing over people as much as they can get away with.  I know you conservatives don’t like to hear that, but the free market is wonderfully efficient at both creating innovation when the companies are young, and in stifling competition when they’re old and powerful and don’t want to deal with competition.  Big companies lie, they waste money on projects, they’re often so caught up in cutting corners that they wind up being more inefficient and harmful than the government ever could be.
Despite the current line of thought, companies are frequently both bungling and harmful to their consumers.  So what I’d like would be a mailing list you could sign up for (or, you know, sign other people up for) that emails conservatives a regular but brief summary of news tidbits to feed them real-world examples of corporations are often wasteful of their money, harmful to consumers, and making decisions that destroy the people around them.
G’wan, liberals, cheer.  Because this service is for you.  No, literally, because there’s the other side of the coin:
Say what you will, but the government left unblinkered inevitably runs towards overusage of public funding, eddies that do nothing and go nowhere except for lining the wrong pockets, and being purchased by old and powerful companies that use them to screw over competition.  So what I’d like would be a mailing list you could sign up for (or, you know, sign other people up for) that emails liberals a regular summary of news tidbits that show how governments often abuse their regulations and laws to screw over people with perfectly reasonable needs.
Not just “The cops busted this lady for growing pot in her windowsill.”  Like, “This new regulation is putting good people out of house and home.”  “This new law is causing these folks direct misery for no reason.”  Because liberals need a reminder that the government, though also a valid tool, is often a blunt instrument that does a lot of damage.
Call me crazy.  I think Big Business and Government need each other fiercely – Big Business is so “efficient” at finding ways of profit that it’ll chop up your floorboards to sell as toothpicks, and Government is so slow and lumbering that it’ll just keep bribing its constituents with free money until it goes broke.  You need Big Business to keep the country moving, and Government to rein in Big Business so it doesn’t use up everything in a mad rush towards short-term profits.
Some days, that makes me feel crazy, thinking both methods have significant downsides.  I’d just like to remind everyone of that.