Tuesday, September 30, 2008


A wandering woolly bear-ish caterpillar was waiting at my door when I got home, the surest sign that fall is here. Just this past few days I've noticed that it's dark when I leave work. The emerald greens of summer are turning dusty and dark. I've started having nightmares again, about losing someone or getting lost.

When the woolly bear finds a good place to dig into the dirt, she'll shed her fur and pupate. Maybe that's what's happening to me. My hair has started to fall out. It's worse on days when I wash it.

My posse of Blythe dolls, hangin' tough with their dinosaur. Pretty soon Ms. Brunette Blythe is going to be Ms. Shadow Over Innsmouth Blythe. I've already ordered new eyechips and hair for her.

Jasper, beautiful as always. She's been an affectionate kitty lately, believe it or not.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prescription for ending the day on a not-so-crappy note

Today wasn't the greatest I've ever had, for a variety of reasons that just sort of added up and made me grumpy. But once I stepped out of work, lit a cigarette and turned on my iPod, things started getting better immediately.

First three songs on the random shuffle:
"Big Jilm"- Ween
"5 Minutes to Live"- Nashville Pussy
"No Class"- Motorhead

In my mailbox at home:
A t-shirt and some prints, and a Blythe doll for my top secret customization project.

Leftover pizza and Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

The archive of "Married to the Sea" (same place I got the shirt and the prints).

Now I'm going to lay in bed and flip through the latest issue of "Country Living" until I pass out, content.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Woo, I'm special!

So Jenny McCarthy thinks she's an Indigo Child, and that her son isn't autistic, he's a Crystal Child. Reading this I thought, hey, I'm pretty special too, and guess what?

Your result for The Are You An Indigo Child Test...


You were born in the right generation and scored very high on the checklist criteria. You're almost definitely an indigo child! I probably don't have to tell you much about what that means, because you're driven and have a passion to do something important in this world, you're in touch with yourself and you're in touch spiritually . You were born with purpose and will be part of global change. I hope you like the results, many indigos seem to find solace in finally knowing why they are different from the general population and in knowing they are not completely alone.

Take The Are You An Indigo Child Test at HelloQuizzy

So take that!

You know what else? Whenever I read character descriptions for Geminis, they sound JUST LIKE ME.

Japanese beetles and cockroaches sign treaty in upcoming world takeover

Everyone glibly says that the cockroaches will be here long after we're gone; they've been here millions of years already, they thrive in the grease behind our stoves and in our dumpsters, and in general, they've become supremely adapted to the filth of human habitation. Even I celebrate this myth, being an overall fan of insects taking over the world, and I wear my partying cockroach t-shirt (above) proudly. But as Alan Weisman points out in his book "The World Without Us," this could actually be the downfall of some of our most familiar species, the American, the German, the Oriental cockroaches, for example. Because these guys depend on our rot and garbage now, and if humanity disappeared from the face of the earth, they might have a rough time competing with their rural cousins. So if cockroaches are smart (and they are, believe me), they'll keep gunning for human overpopulation and urban squalor.

Now back to the countryside. As I mentioned, cockroaches live there too, but they're a kinder, gentler cockroach, I guess you could say. I can flip over a rock here in my back yard and find a couple of cute little guys puttering around underneath. They don't threaten me. We have to look to other insect species for that, and the first thing that comes to mind are the voracious herbivores. The locusts, the tent caterpillars, the bark beetles that are decimating conifer forests in the west. But after reading a recent paper, and also based on my own research, I am going to put my money on the Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica, as cockroaches' partner in crime. Because, the Japanese beetle seems to be particularly well suited to taking advantage of humankind's mistakes.

Japanese beetles are actually kind of aesthetically pleasing. They're pretty (or at least I think so). They're a nice metallic green color and they have cute little bacchanals on your rose plants, kicking up their little heels as they eat and fornicate.

Japanese beetles also have huge mushroom bodies, those higher brain centers that in insects play a role in sensory integration and learning and memory. I think this is because they learn a lot of things about the world around them and form memories about where the good foods are, so they can come back later. Not all bugs do that, you know. A lot of bugs just go straight to one decent food source and stay there until they die. Japanese beetles are much more flexible, and flexibility requires a big brain.

So why do I think Japanese beetles will take over the world? Because they've figured out how to benefit from one way in which humans are screwing things up. A recent paper monitored the behavior of adult beetles that were fed soybeans grown under high CO2 levels, such as those that may eventually be present in our atmosphere if we continue burning fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow (ha). It turns out that female beetles eating these plants lived longer and laid twice as many eggs. Take that, rose plants and turfgrass and the 300+ other plants that Japanese beetles are known to nosh on.

Did you know that when a cockroach infestation is really, really bad, they'll actually start nibbling on the human inhabitants of a household? No reports yet of hungry Japanese beetles (or other ravenous scarabs with big mushroom bodies) ganging up on a child playing in its back yard and gnawing on its soft little skull like it was a clump of ripe figs.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Penis scoops and word play

Damselfly males have fancy little scoops on the tips of their penises, so they can dredge out the sperm deposited by previous suitors before they get busy with their lady loves. Quite a handy adaptation in a species where the females are polyandrous.

Speaking of suitors (but not of penis scoops), what shall I call the subject of this little affair that has been so pleasantly soaking up my weekend hours? So I like to put labels on things, I'm a biologist, remember?

Boyfriend: He shies away from the reciprocal, so perhaps not. It's my preference, though, as it's simple to understand: world, we're sharing both conversations and a bed. Anyway.

"That guy I'm hanging out with:" His coy and noncommittal choice, but as I while away the hours on the road each week for the admitted pleasure of this hanging out that we do, I think that maybe I'm needing something just a little bit more substantial. Hmmph.

Lover: Silly, poncey, pretentious.

Sweetheart: Saccharine candy and just as empty.

Swain: A favorite, but previously taken by the ex. I don't like to recycle terms of endearment, it's so cheap.

Hmm... this is getting difficult...help me, internets!
Http://www.synonyms.net brings me...

"Young Buck!" LOL, Ok, back to the trusty dictionary and thesaurus, then...

"Inamorato: a male with whom one is in love or has an intimate relationship." Let's leave the love stuff for now and focus on what comes after the "or." "Intimate" is at the crux, and better yet, it sounds like it might be the name of a fallen angel. Or of the word "immolate," and as Pete Steele once wrote,

"For the quest of holy copulation,
The end result, self-immolation"

So watch yourself with tuo inamorato, girl. You know what I'm getting on about, you weren't born yesterday, you know.

The day after

As predicted, the next day is here and while Jasper has been hunting and bringing damp, furry little presents to my door, I've been sipping coffee and questioning the wisdom of pouring my heart out on here last night. Oh well, I'll let it stand, what the hell.

Returning to the mood of the usual activities on this blog, let's look at my kickass new Blythe doll. Isn't she awesome? The first outfit is the one she came with, the second was purchased from Sugar Blocks and Shopaholican. She has two special eye colors, pink (bottom pic on left) and moss green (bottom pic on right); the other two colors are orange and blue that are standard on most Blythes (not shown).

Thanks, Miss Enchanted Petal Blythe. Now let's get this day rolling.

Late night musings

There are still some nights when I just can't get to sleep. It's not that I don't like to sleep, I do, I love stretching out in the comfort of my bed, fan blowing in the window and cool sheets on my skin, purring kitties keeping me company. But some nights it just seems a shame to give up to oblivion when there is so much that I want to see, hear, create, and think. Tonight is one of those nights, it seems. It's never a good idea for me to reach outside of the niche I've created for myself here at the end of Brown Street when I'm feeling like this, because when the light of day comes, I always seem to regret having shared the part of myself that comes out on these nights. Still, here I am, awake with mind wandering through past, present and future, about to pour some of it out on the internets.

I chose the Mark Ryden painting above for this post because it reminded me of myself, and more importantly, a self that I have been in danger of losing over the past few years. OK, I'll start at the beginning, but I'll try to keep it short all the same. In high school I had a friend that I talked to for hours on the phone, laying on my parents bed and staring at the patterns made by the ceiling fan. We talked about everything, from our silly little sex fantasies to whether we would make it to 30 before dying in a nuclear war and every angsty teenage topic in between. And throughout it all, we commended each other on being "deep." I can't help but smile thinking about it now, but the truth is, I've always had an extensive inner life, a life of the mind, that I've only shared with a few people over these thirty-seven years. And over the past five years, against every drop of my better judgement, I've done my best to crush it all away.

At some point in my life, I decided that it was time to grow up. I put away my toys, started buying clothes at the Gap, and most of all, packed up my inner life and tried to be a grown up. Within weeks I was having panic attacks. One night a few months in I laid in bed with my new husband, sobbing in hysterics, screaming "I DON'T KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE!" Smashing things, throwing things out the window, screaming, insomnia and grinding teeth and ruminating about the what ifs until the sick rays of daylight shone into our bedroom. A year later I was diagnosed as bipolar. Sometimes I think I made myself crazy by trying to be like everyone else. So I numbed out, I stopped dreaming, a mayfly, except instead of burning through my short time on earth in search of a mate, I searched for the next drink and the bliss of not caring about anything anymore.

And here we are at the present. I've been living alone since February, recreating my nest, my niche, my inner life. I'm surrounded by the little mementos that anchor me to all of the things that I have ever loved: music, art, nature, learning. It's a process of rediscovery, recently facilitated by the amazing man who I have been spending my weekends with. I don't know him terribly well yet, and sometimes I think that I'll never really know him, that every time I think I've found the tip of this iceberg I'll run into miles and miles of caverns teeming with life beneath. But maybe, right now, that's alright. Right now I need those caverns to explore.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Toys, toys, toys

I've been buying goodies for my Blythe doll, here she is with her pet dinosaur and stylin' new outfit. And I just got a slip in the mail saying that my second Blythe doll, a Neo Blythe Enchanted Petal, is waiting for me at the post office. Yes, this is turning into an obsession.

There is an entire internet community dedicated to customizing Blythe dolls (see example above). This is where I'm headed next, I'm afraid.

In other toy news, Hasbro has re-released the first six My Little Pony figures as part of their 25th anniversary celebration. This weekend I picked up three of them for $15 at Super Kmart- bargain!

Rediscovering old tunes, or Type O Negative Is Still The Greatest

Since I now spend hours each week driving the interstates of SW Pennsylvania (for the nicest possible reward, of course), I've been entertaining myself by listening to a pile of mix tapes that my brother J made in the mid- to late-90s. In the process, I've discovered some great new music (like covers of Slayer songs by bands I'd never heard before), and rediscovered songs from old standbys, including my favoritest of the favorites, Type O Negative.

"Stay Out of My Dreams" was released with the "Least Worst Of..." compilation album that I never bought, mainly because I own all of Type O's studio albums and figured I had everything they put out. I was wrong. "Stay Out of My Dreams" kicks ass. Pete Steele's bass sound is out-of-control crunchy, the vocal melody is delicious, and there are some awesome yells and panting bits that make me want to jump up and down and kick my shoes around the room with joy.

Type O didn't make a video for this song, but a fan set it to images of Coney Island, above.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

All work and no play...

I'm heading home today after a short trip to Champaign-Urbana, IL, where I was invited to give a talk for the University of Illinois at U-C Neuroscience Program. The talk went very well and I had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new bug brain folks.

Of course, no trip to central Illinois is complete without a visit to Nick Wiggins at The Mark of Cain Tattoos to get some work done. Yesterday I finally got my sea slug sleeve finished- yay! Check out the colors!