Monday, November 29, 2010


I saw a commercial for the upcoming Victoria's Secret underwear fashion show.  My first thought was "That first model looks like a man in drag."  My second thought was "Who is this commercial for?"

Not women.  I imagine any woman who isn't a size two would feel like a fat, ugly toad watching all those skinny "angels" walk the runway.  My first guess was men, but according to L, "This isn't aimed at straight men.  Straight men don't like super skinny, starved model types.  All fashion anything is aimed at gay men.  The crazy wing shit and glitter is so the women don't scare them."

Sure, there is the gay male stereotype in the fashion industry, and I am sure that the whole angel (or super rainbow butterfly in a few cases) appeals to the more flamboyant, but I fear the show is truly aimed at teenage girls.

Mommy, you said I could be anything I want.  Why am I not a garden fairy princess angel?  

I am no activist.  I'm not out to save the youth of the nation beyond my classroom.  I could go on and on about body image and the importance of getting an education in case you don't get your Mrs. degree while you're in college (and how even if you do, your Mr. could die unexpectedly and without life insurance leaving you and your kiddies destitute).  If teaching has taught me anything about youth it is that if you have to struggle and figure it out for yourself, you will learn the lesson and remember it always.  In my opinion, it's up to each of us to save ourselves.  Waiting around for someone else to do it is a sure way to be disappointed for your entire life.

I use this blog to, among other things, share my personal opinions.  So, I will share this one: if you are a woman, don't watch the Victoria's Secret fashion show, and don't let your daughter watch it either.  If you do, don't hate yourself because nature or money haven't given you an improbable 6 foot, size -2 body.  Explain that to your daughters as well.  Then, do me a small favor by laughing while you watch.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Appreciative Ape

I had an uneventful Thanksgiving, which is really nice compared to what some folks endure.  Other than the year we discussed World War II (My grandfather ended the conversation by yelling, "The French are a bunch of cruds!") and the year L and my SIL got into a hot debate over how intelligent people in this country are treated like they have some sort of disease until they produce something seemingly useful to the masses, we get along just fine.  There is always some drama, but it is generally small in the grand scheme of things.  This year, my brother decided to clean his brand new carpet and his brand new house with Clorox Cleanup, thereby turning spots here and there from a non-descript brownish-tan to garish orange.  He will beat himself up over it far more than his wife could; although, she swears she's gonna try.

We stuffed ourselves, divvied up leftovers, and, half-drunk on turkey, drove ourselves home.

Lately, I haven't been in the mood to write.  Instead, I'd much rather play pc games.  L and I have been playing Diablo II quite a bit the last few days, which isn't unusual for us in wintertime.  What is unusual is that yesterday, we spent a total of about five hours on the sofa watching TV.  True, we were watching Daria, but we rarely ever do something like that.  If we're sitting on the sofa for hours, it's because L got a new PS game.  But, it was so nice to just cuddle under a blanket, eat popcorn, and laugh together.  When the marathon ended, L said, "I had a lot of fun today."  It doesn't take much to make either of us happy, which is a blessing in its own right. 

Thanksgiving marked the fifth year we've been living together (we've been married for half that time), which is another reason why I like this holiday more than the others.  It reminds me of a time in my life that was scary and painful and yet joyous and exciting.  It reminds me that I took a leap of faith in L's love for me. 

Beyond what it means to me on a personal level, Thanksgiving is a holiday where we all try to be good, appreciative people by remembering (and sometimes listing) the things we have that set us apart as the lucky ones.  This year, I'm feeling pretty lucky to have my husband, to have a job, and to have the free time to write, read, watch cartoons, and play computer games.  Tomorrow, I'll put up the Christmas tree while L studies, and while I will grumble about ornament arrangment and how we still don't have a tree topper, I'll also be especially grateful that I don't have to study Physics.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

According to Bob...

A little background is necessary for this.

Bob was my master's project advisor.  I studied wavelets, something neither of us had any previous knowledge of, and we spent most of our weekly meetings with me teaching him what I learned from the text.  He was the one professor I asked to write a letter of recommendation for me for my first and second teaching jobs.  Moreover, he gave me a copy of the letter to keep - something he wasn't required to do.  The letter impressed my potential employers and made my heart swell and my eyes fill.  When I came back to school, he was still there and still someone who was proud of me, even more so because I was coming back after being away for six years and basically starting from scratch.  It is a great honor to me that a full professor, who is forty years my senior, thinks enough of me as a teacher and a student to ask me to call him by his nickname, as if I were a friend and colleague.   

Now, having said all the serious stuff, we entertain each other when we get together and chat.  We commiserate as well, as he was one of the trio that designed and first taught the elementary ed math classes I currently teach.  He understands the unique frustrations that come with that type of class.  He's the only professor I can talk to about it since Cecelia retired.  Cecelia was my undergrad mentor.  The last time I called her Doctor, she said, "Rachel, we're colleagues.  Just call me Cecelia."  Again, deeply honored, especially knowing what her life has been like, but that is for another post. 

To get on with my afternoon, I stopped by Bob's office to ask him to serve on my dissertation committee.  After signing the form, we chatted, during the course of which I informed him that the department was no longer going to offer Math 210 - the probability, statistics, and algebra course in the elementary ed sequence.

Bob: Why the hell not?
Me: There isn't anyone to teach it now that Cecelia retired.  I'm sure you don't want to do it every semester.
Bob: God no.  One needs a break from such things.  No one will teach it?  Not even Wei Shen?
Me: He's too busy giving me and Katherine a break from 209.  You know, not just anyone can teach these classes.
Bob: No.  Can you imagine someone like Starvos teaching that class?
Me: (snort) That would be a disaster.  You've got to have someone nice, compassionate, and willing to do all that grading.
Bob: Well, when I teach it, I only half-ass it.  (Keep in mind, this man is over sixty and wears bobble antennae to class on Halloween)  I suppose half-assing it is better than no-assing it.
Me: (chuckling) I would think no-assing would be far better than half-assing.
Bob: (rubs his goatee) Hmm, you think so?
Me: Sure.  Which would you prefer: ass or no ass?
Bob: (chuckling too) I see.  I suppose I should've said 'full-assing it.'
Me: (laughing enough for my eyes to run) Yes, I would say that full-assing is the worst.

Half-assed or full-assed, either one is better than four-assed.

We both take pause long enough for the fit to pass.
Me: Well, I better get going.
Bob: Yes. (He turns back to his computer) In an attempt to only somewhat-ass my Cal 2 class, I should email this student, especially since he asked a really good question. 
Me: That's so rare.  You must be proud.
Bob: Kids like this are the only reason I haven't retired.

And it's professors like Bob that are the only reason I felt like I could come back to school.

Monday, November 22, 2010

You're Standing on My Neck

Years ago, my college roommate gave me a button of Jane Lane holding her TV remote.  It looks down on me at my computer desk.  I smile, knowing she is watching "Sick, Sad World." 

This past summer, I bought the entire Daria collection, including the two movies.  Tonight, I finally got around to cracking the seal on them, and I made it a little over half-way through the first season.  Much like the Beavis and Butthead boxset, it doesn't have the music.  But, then again, I never watched Daria for the music.  I watched it for the sarcastic wit and banter between Daria and Jane.  Also, the end-of-show drawings of characters in various crazy guises always crack me up.     

The show was so well written.  Just under Aeon Flux (oh, darlin', I'll get to you soon enough), Daria is an all-time favorite cartoon from my pseudo-adulthood.  It's a shame that, most likely, MTV will never make anything anywhere near as awesome as those cartoons ever again.  Okay, I may be a bit prejudiced.  Still, I'm infinitely glad I bought the collection.

Let me share some gems from tonight's episodes:

1) Daria to her parents: I don't have low self-esteem.  I have low esteem for everyone else.

2) Daria to Brittney: Can you teach me how to twirl my hair around my little finger and look vacant?
Brittney (the vacuous cheerleader): I don't think that's something you can teach.

3) Daria when daydreaming about college: How come, even in my fantasies, people are jerks?

For all you fans, I give you the opening theme, written and performed by Splendora.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Much Fondue About Nothing

My SIL, the honest one, threw a swanky wine and cheese gala Friday night.  She researched this thing to the teeth, decorated her entire house, even made placards for the cheeses so everyone would know the name, the style of cheese, and the flavor profile.  She had a chocolate fountain and beer-cheese fondue.  Before Friday night, I never knew how delicious a rice krispie treat smothered in chocolate could be.

Smooth as you please.

I was excited to go to this thing, even though there would be A LOT of people there that I don't know.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love cheese.  However, I wasn't too thrilled when one of my SIL's friends decided we should all "dress up" for this event. 

I am a t-shirt and jeans (or dressy t-shirt and slacks if I'm teaching) kind of girl.  When I get home from work, I put on pj bottoms and a t-shirt and lounge like a sloth.  Sometimes, I think I'm just a cute guy  with a vagina and boobies, which works out since, if I had a penis, I'd be a gay dude, which wouldn't be so good in L's opinion.  I wear a dress on Easter, Mother's Day, and wedding and baby showers.  I wear skirts only on those miserable Alabama summer days when it's 100º with 98% humidity.  I can be girly (around spiders and snakes), but I don't dress girly, especially since L doesn't care if I dress girly or not.

In preparation for this night, I went on closet safari, looking through hanging bags of dresses and suits, most of which I can only dream of squeezing into again, and then I remembered this wild velvet skirt I have.  It's soft and comfortable, and clingy in the appropriate places.  I tried it on and zipped up my  4 inch knee boots.  I did a little spin for L, and he said, "I like the boots.  The skirt is cool, too.  You going to wear a top with it or just a black bra?"  Yeah, trouble was that I lost the top.  So, for the next few days, I stressed about finding something.  After searching through racks of sweater dresses (SWEATER DRESSES OMG IS IT THE 80'S AGAIN?! NO!), I found a little black top that is ridiculously tight with a crazy neckline.  Still, it looked okay with the skirt and only cost $20 (I'm cheap), so I bought it.

I have digressed again...Skip back to Friday...After finally seeing a doctor about my neck, I got home with 30 minutes to get dressed and go.  Sometimes, I wish it was acceptable to put a brown bag with eyeholes over my head and just go. 

As soon as my brother greets us at the door, I hear my SIL yell, "Help me!"  This is the part where being a SIL transforms into being a sister.  This is a good thing, as then we are free to order each other around, curse, and poke fun instead of tip-toeing around and being polite.  I started slicing the pumpernickel while L threw our overnight stuff in my brother's computer room.  Once he returned to the kitchen, she put him on fruit duty.  We got everything out and ready just after the first two guests arrived.  The spread was beautiful -- something you would expect to see on the cover of Southern Living. 

I am a teacher, and so is my SIL.  All of her friends are teachers, and they all teach at the same school.  Anytime you get that many hens together, they are going to cluck and do it so loudly that it pierces the eardrums.  They reached first tier hearing damage when they started gossiping about a 23 year old female teacher who got busted fucking a 16 year old student.  I'm listening to them bash this woman and shaking my head as my SIL's sister comes over to stand beside me.

"Good grief, she was only 23," I said.
"Yeah, coaches have been fucking 16 year old girls for how long?  Since my mom was in high school for sure and probably forever.  And they are usually in their forties.  Some even have kids older than the girls they fuck.  I mentioned that and they all looked at me like I was a traitor or something."
I nod in agreement.  "Right, and do those coaches get fired?  Do they get escorted off school grounds? Fired on the spot?"
We shake our heads.  This was the first point in the night where my poo-flinging gene kicked in.  I had to get away from them before I said something that embarrassed my SIL.  Also, three of the ladies wore sweater dresses, and all but one of them wore 4 in or higher spiked heels.  Let's face it: unless you are used to them, heels that tall make you walk like you just had an enema.

Eventually, we got around to the sampling portion of the evening, which was also the time when everything started to go wrong for the ladies.  While I was in the kitchen eating chili with L, my brother, and the other husbands, the women were all drinking wine...too much wine.  They hadn't yet started talking about sex, but it seemed that's where they were headed soon. 

Note to men: all women talk about sex when they get drunk, we do compare notes, and some of you need schooling.   

After my stomach was mostly full of chili, I tasted the cheeses (professing my undying love for the Gouda, but then, it already knew it was my bottom bitch).  I pour myself a glass of Riesling (my favorite wine), which is no easy task as this bottle is almost two feet high.  I got a huge laugh later on when my SIL whacked herself in the face with the top of the bottle.  Once my cheese needs were met, I enjoyed a chocolate-bathed rice krispie treat (or 2) along with some Belgian truffles that are so good they will make you slap your momma (I got to bring home a box of them).

Oh, baby, that's right.  Take off that rind!

As the wine continues to pour, the ladies get less and less restrained.  Then, they all start talking about designer purses and shoes, things which I care absolutely nothing about, which was my cue to go outside and visit the keg.  That's right.  Wine and cheese and keg party.  That's the south for you.  I plop down in a chair in front of the chiminea (a clay pot mini-fireplace with a chimney) to keep from shivering in my thin shirt on this 40º night.  Yep, it was me, a fire that eventually made me reek of smoke, and all the guys.

This always happens to me at parties.  ALWAYS.  I can't help it.  Other than my SIL, her sister, and the two or three other good female friends I have, I just find men more entertaining. 

While the overstuffed, roaring, chiminea rains ash down on us, we talk about bar hopping in New Orleans and Memphis.  Meanwhile, the ladies have all gone upstairs to try on...get this...cheerleading  and school danceline outfits.  We can hear them whooping and hollering at the ladies brave (or drunk) enough to try to squeeze into something only a teenage girl should wear.  Occasionally, husbands were retrieved to come view their wives.  I stayed by the chiminea and talked about movies, atomic hand grenades from the Tropical Isle, and listening to the blues on Beale Street.

You don't feel the first one until you're on the second one.  By the third one, you're ripped and ready to head across the line to the gay bars to check out the drag queens.  Bonus: you can make the commemorative cup into a bong! 
Everything was going great, and then two homophobes started gay bashing.  This marked the second time my poo-flinging switch got flipped this night.  L and I decided to go back inside because, well, shoving an asshole's head in a chiminea just isn't the polite thing to do. 

I nibbled some more (Brie on crusty bread with honey <cue Homer drool>), had a bit more wine (a homemade variety so sweet and fruity that I could actually taste grape skins), and dipped a few more things in chocolate.  L and I caught a bit of Johnny Quest that was about as understandable as Thundercats or Voltron or Teletubbies.  We settled on Swamp Loggers, which was about as interesting to me as watching grass grow.

You can see the Havarti in the background, giving the evil eye to the Brie.

Eventually, I went back out for beer, only to find the keg floated.  My SIL was in a group of women, hurling grape tomatoes out into her yard and insisting to her friends that I am just the cutest thing.  When I got ready to go back inside, she squeezed the daylights out of me.  Then, I chased her down before she could take a lit cigarette into her house.  When I sat down in L's lap and put my arm around him, she said to her friends, "Look at them.  They're gross soulmates.  They like finish each other's sentences and shit."

The rest of the night involved an embarrassing accidental pantie showing (not me), a drunken golf cart ride in 40º weather (I didn't go) which sobered up those folks enough to drive home, and me finally breaking down and taking a muscle relaxer because my neck hurt so freaking bad that I couldn't stand it.  Still, I laughed often, and when that happens, I call it a good night.

Saturday, there were a lot of folks moving slow.       

What I learned:
Beer-cheese fondue tastes awesome in chili.
If women drink enough wine, they will try to relive high school.
Johnny Quest only makes sense to the deeply stoned.
I fucking hate gay-bashers.

Zelda Humor

My buddy Mike's FB picture.  I crack up EVERY TIME I see it. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

You Know You're Old When...

UA Health Center lost my medical history.  This is neither surprising nor worrisome.  However, it did require me to spend time that I would've spent re-reading Starship Troopers filling in blanks and checking boxes. 

I took the slip of paper from the receptionist, and while fumbling around a clipboard while trying to put away my insurance card and keep my book from falling out of my purse, I dropped the clipboard and the form.  The form went sailing to the floor and slipped under the chair of the guy next to me.  He politely picked it up and handed it to me.

Me: It's been one of those days.
Guy: Yes, ma'am.

WTF?  Did he just say "Yes, ma'am, " to me?  Not me, but it had to be me.  Then, it really hit me.  After years of always looking too young for my age, I finally look old enough for students to assume I am a "grown-up" and not a student. 

I wonder if I confuse people that I pass in the hallways.  Do I look tired?  Is it the short, wild curly hair instead of the flat-ironed straight hair?  I get strange looks sometimes.  What do the kiddies think of a woman who walks the halls in a Naruto t-shirt warning, "Don't make me use my sexy jutsu on you," and red sneakers?  That I look too old?  That I somehow don't belong?

Meh.  They know nothing.  They're just kids. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Wanna Sling Poo

It's time like these that make me lose all semblance of being a rational human.

I'm tired of hurting, so this morning, I decided that after my class that ends at 11, I would go to the health center and see what, if anything, they can do for my neck.  I wait for an unusually long period of 15 minutes for the green bus to stop at the hub.  Meanwhile, my neck and shoulder are becoming increasingly uncomfortable from the weight of my backpack.  The bus finally arrives, and I ride it over to the health center only to find the automatic doors locked and a hastily printed sign stuck to the door informing me that the place is closed.

I can be a bit of a dinosuar when it comes to phone technology.  I have a cell phone for the sole purposes of  emergency phone calls and long distance calling.  I don't do anything more than make phone calls on it.  Hence, I don't text.  I just don't.  Additionally, there isn't anyone I care to yammer with on the phone, so I sit there on a bench, waiting for L to get out of class and come pick me up.  It's only thirty minutes, but I also discover that I've no book to read while I sit.  How in hell did that happen?  How did I get stuck somewhere with nothing to read?  Well, I could've read math or graded papers, but staring at the ground seemed like more fun at the time.
Normally, I could entertain myself with people-watching, but the center is almost off-campus, and so there isn't regular foot traffic.  Instead, I entertained myself by staring at the crepe myrtles, with only their bottom-most leaves remaining, and the pansies that wiggle every time the wind blows a bit.  And, I could lose myself in plant watching if it weren't for the people who kept walking up to the health center and saying, "It's closed?" like I'm the GAP gnome guarding the entry (that's a MAD TV reference). 

This woman got off the blue bus, came up to the door, and huffed out a breath.  "Even Billing is closed?" she asked. 
"It says all staff," I said.
"Well, Billing must not want their money too bad," she said and rolled her backpack toward the faculty/staff end of the facility.  I was envious of that backpack at that point, but they are just so ridiculous to me.

It's times like this that make me miss being a full-time teacher.  I could go in the faculty/staff end, and in under thirty minutes, a doctor would see me and deal with me and send me on my way.

I sighed and confirmed for the cute little girl who frowned at the door that yes, the pharmacy is closed too, as those are also health center employees.  The only one who even remotely entertained me was the guy who cleared his cruddy throat all the way to the door, spit in the cigarette bin on top of the trashcan, and then said, "Well damn.  I guess if ya sick, ya just screwed, eh?"

"Yup," I said.

After a while, a university employee on a golf cart drove up and said, "It's closed until one-thrity."
Rather than get snappy, as I wanted to, I said, "Yup."
"It's gonna be a warm one after all," she said.  Upon closer inspection, the woman has on the electric green and reflective silver coat of a traffic monitor.  What she's doing up at the health center - somewhere that parking zones aren't enforced - I have no idea.  She should be off in the commuter parking giving tickets to the people who got too drunk at the Thursday night game to drive themselves out before 8 am.  Instead, she's parked in front of me in her coat and with her legs wrapped in a blanket.  I'm sitting there in a t-shirt and wishing I had a hat.

Apparently, I didn't entertain her enough for she drove off to another part of the parking lot where she parked and sat and texted for the next thirty minutes.  Tell me, is that AL taxpayers money and student tuition and fees well-spent?  I wanted to go Sasquatch on her golf cart (that's a Jack Link's Messin' with Sasquatch reference).

By the time L picks me up, I'm hurting even more from the metal bench and my right arm is slightly sunburned.  It's times like this that make me wish I were a lesser ape, brave and crazy enough to smear poo all over the automatic doors and anyone stupid enough to keep talking to me after I look them in the eye.    

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Terry Pratchett

From Interesting Times:

The ultimate curse from a person from the Counterweight Continent: "May you live in interesting times."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gorilla in the Mist

Time to Say Goodbye (HD)

Among the many, many reasons I love Las Vegas, the fountain at the Bellagio.  Yes, it is a testament to extravagance and waste - a fountain in the desert - but my God, is it beautiful when the blast of the water cannons accompanies a moving duet.

This video is far better than the one I made in the daytime with my camera.  Also, this one doesn't have the intrusion of my severe southern twang when I comment to L, "I got a great shot of the rainbows."

When the show I recorded ended and I lowered my camera, I found a fine mist covered my chill-bumped (even in 100º+ heat) arms, and tears dampened my cheeks.  That's right - a friggin' fountain made me cry.  I wiped my face and runny mascara before anyone could see me and stuffed my camera back in the Crown Royal sack that serves as my camera bag.  After sliding it back in its place in my purse, I looked up to see L staring at me.  "I love you," he said and kissed me in front of the fountain.  My soul was happy.

Baz Luhrmann - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

Love this, and he's absolutely right about sunscreen.

I Believe...

that you can't have true faith if it's untested.

that you can't experience true happiness unless you've experienced true pain.

that you can't know true grace until you've been undeservedly forgiven.

that, if you hook jumper cables up to your computer and a Barbie doll while wearing a bra on your head, then Kelly LeBrock will appear and grant you three wishes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dr. E said...

In response to a comment I made about how shifting down infinite terms of a series introduces new terms of order two:

"One thing you don't want in math is a bunch of twos.  They gang up on you pretty quick, and they are a nasty bunch to deal with."

Aching Ape

Last Friday while teaching, I wrenched my neck.  Normally, things like this bother me only for a day or two, but this particular strain or crick or whatever it is refuses to relax itself.  The only thing that brings me relief is being perfectly still with my chin down and my right arm hanging limp at my side.  That isn't likely to happen very often or for very long.  I am right-handed and I spend a lot of time each day actually writing, whether or a board or in a notebook.  Last night, I went to a seminar where I pretty much zoned out and doodled on a sheet of scratch paper, and by the time it was over, I could barely stand to turn my head.

It's been four days, and I've been eating ibuprofen like candy to keep the pain down to a level where I can  function.  I should just go to the health center and get some muscle relaxers, but I hate taking pills like that.  About most things, I am a control freak, and pills like that render me stupid and useless -- two things I cannot abide.  So, I suppose I should just quit bitching about it.  Then again, that is part of the purpose of this blog.

My heart has been nagging me a lot lately.  It's grumpy and confused and irritated with itself and others.  I was thinking,"Wouldn't it be nice if someone made a painkiller for when your heart aches," but several drug companies do.  My cousin was on Prozac for a few years, and he said that he quit taking it because feeling the ups and downs he had before he started taking it was better than feeling absolutely nothing.  My college roommate said the same thing when her doctor suggested she take something after she lost her husband.  I realize that for some people, those drugs are necessary to function.  However, I can think of only one person I know who is on anti-depressants who doesn't look and act dead inside.  Is there such a thing as comfortably numb?   

Pain is supposed to teach us, right?  So, okay, I got the lesson.  Next time I want to see what is at the other end of the board, I should step back and look instead of leaning back and jerking my head to the left.  But, what about my heart?  That's different.  Yes, I learn from heartache, but it doesn't stop me from repeating some of the behaviors that caused it in the first place: putting myself out there, sharing (too much sometimes), caring about people I probably shouldn't, and so on.  I can't stop doing those things because if I do, I will feel nothing.  I can't abide a numb heart.

So, what's the solution?  Take the pills and surrender control, or take the time to relax so the pain eases and goes away on its own?  I guess I'll wait a few more days and see.       

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wristcutters: A Love Story - Trailer

One of the best movies I have seen in a while and that was almost four years ago.

Wristcutters: A Love Story - Clip - The Meaning of Life

Eugene explains the meaning of life to his little brother.

Blushing Baboon

On my way into class today, my most outspoken student stopped singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and  yelled, "Ooh, hey!  I love that shirt."  It's not my usual solid cotton blend t-shirt.  It's a light gray t-shirt with swirly filigree-looking things in black velvet and white screen print on the torso.  I said, "Thanks.  I like it, too."   

Last fall, a different student (who was worried that, among many other things, having her tonsils out would make her voice sound like that of a smoker) said, "Hey, you look really cute today.  Good job!"

God, I love the filterless ones.  They always act so surprised when I wear something "cute," and I am as entertained by their surprise as I am appreciative of their compliments.  They ask the best and the worst questions, but they aren't afraid to ask.  I count myself lucky if I can get one in every class.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

For CJ

A beautiful song for a man who loved music more than anyone I have ever met.


May of 1999.  CJ and I are in his home studio.  He is mixing sound for a commercial for a local Piggly Wiggly that is having a sale on meat.  He has been snappy all afternoon.  He shifts his laptop in my direction.

CJ: I need to you say "They have the best deals on beef" and sound super excited about it, like buying their meat is your life goal.  Okay?
Me: (in the tone and attitude he wanted) They have the best deals on beef. (pregnant pause while he ends the recording on his laptop)  What's up?
CJ: I always get like this around my Angie anniversary.
Me: I know, but what's really wrong?
CJ: I want to run my own radio station, but you have to be rich to do that.  Fuck that greed.  I just...this isn't what I thought I would be doing.  It isn't what I want to do.
Me: How many people do you know are doing what they thought they would be doing, or even what they want to do? (CJ shakes his head)  Then, what makes you special?  Why should you be any different?
CJ: You're too young to be so old.  When you say things like that, it makes me want to put your feet in the air.  (I smirk and shake my head at him.) You'd enjoy it, but I know you can't handle that.
Me: You're right.  You know I love you. (I give him a long hug)
CJ: I love you, too.

May of 2001.  The three of us, CJ, me, and my college roommate (his mate), are sitting outside the sweat lodge and eating his homemade French onion soup. 

Me: Don't say it. (But, I know he will anyway.  She looks at me and then him.)
CJ: You're too smart for him.
Me: Yeah.
Her: We love you.
Me: I love you, too.  The soup is good.


May of 2005.  CJ and I are in the hay loft that they have converted into a bedroom.  We're on a large pallet of quilts.  I'm on my stomach, and he is straddling my legs but not sitting on me.

CJ: You've got a lot of hate stored here. (He presses a hand firmly into my root chakra, inhales deeply, and exhales.) I'm surprised you can walk.
Me: I'm fucked up.
CJ: Well, of course you are.  Let it go.  Scream or something.  What is the thing you hate most?
Me: When I tell the truth and people don't believe me. (I say this instantly, without thought or censor.)
CJ: Really?
Me: I guess so.  I said it.
CJ: That wasn't what I expected.  You have the most interesting answers. 
Me: At times when I am most truthful, no one believes me.  It pisses me off.
(He slides off to my side.  We each sit in the lotus position, knees touching, palms touching, now third eyes touching.  We stare at each other, into each other.)
CJ: You know what would make you feel better?
Me: (I smile and laugh. I may have been the only female he knew who wasn't attracted to him sexually.)
CJ: Yeah, well, with your hangups about marriage and monogamy, it wouldn't be good for you anyway.  Doesn't matter.  [My ex] can't share you.  That's why it's been four years since the last time we saw you.
Me: I've missed you both.  I'm meditating again.  I called to you.
CJ: I heard you.  I've been having dreams about you for two months now.  Look at me, Beautiful.  (He kisses me softly on the lips.)  Come on.  I'll show you the camp we made at the river.


He was so quick to see the beauty - mind, body, and spirit - in others but not in himself.  He would tell me not to waste my energy on people who abuse it, knowing that, being me, I could not help but do it anyway.  He would often chastise me, to which I would reply, "You do it too, and you're a lot sweeter than I am."  He was gifted at assessing just how far he could push a person before he snapped, and he was never afraid to do it.

Two years ago, he died in her arms inside their tipi.  An aortic aneurysm that bled out into his body within one minute.  And a small part of everyone who knew him died with him. 

I miss you, CJ.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

xkcd: Dimensional Analysis

Another Dorktoon

Dave comes through again with this awesome Venn Diagram.

Two Haikus

longing of my soul:
to hold mind, spirit, and flesh
and never let go

honest eyes that see
through the brave exterior
the true me inside

Friday, November 12, 2010


Office Space re-cut as a thriller? Awesome!!

The Villanelle

I am a teaching mathematician who writes fantasy novels.  Weird? Yes, but that is who I am.  I majored in Pure Math and minored in English.  There was a time when the roles could’ve reversed or I could’ve double-majored.  In my senior year, my Modern British Drama professor tried, on several occasions, to change my mind.   I took a course in Chaucer, learned to read and speak Middle English, and took almost enough hours to complete the degree.  I love literature, especially modern American lit.  Dr. G could not fathom why I stuck with math.   

Well, math is pure and frakkin’ hard.  I like, and often crave, a good challenge.  And, let’s face it: there is always a demand for good mathematicians, especially those gifted at teaching, and there aren’t many American females who are interested and talented. 

If you haven't checked out yet, do it now!!
In my sophomore year, I took a creative writing class for an outlet and to bring balance to the hyper-analytical nature of mathematics and the tedium of undergraduate literature courses.  In high school, I wrote a lot of terrible poetry and a few decent short stories, so I thought, “What the hell?  I can use the 3 hours of Humanities.”  I worked my ass off, as is my nature, and I enjoyed every second of it.   

Except for the part where I was forced to write a villanelle.  You know what that is…Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night,” with its imprisoning rhyme and line schemes?  Yeah, that.  Instead of letting us do as we pleased, which for me was using a style similar to Wallace Stephen's "Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird," my professor handed out poetry styles for the coming week’s assignment.  She apologized when she gave me the villanelle.  After class, when we were outside having a smoke, I asked her why she cursed me with the villanelle, and she said she thought I was the only one who had a chance of doing it well.  I was touched, pissed, but touched.  No one in the math department said things like that to me, but then again, all mathematicians are a bit sadomasochistic.  If you have read my tweets when I'm grading, you know.

I spent more time on that damned poem than any of my math homework, including my programming.  When you have to keep up the same two rhymes for so many lines, it is a challenge to make it work, make it sound right, make it not just a bunch of crap you slapped on a page.  When I finished it, I hated it.  It didn’t matter what my professor thought, I hated it.  I reread it the other night, and all but one stanza sucks.  But, I put my heart into it, and I did it.

There have been times (my eyes water just thinking of them) when I either didn't or couldn't put my heart in it because I had no heart.  I was sleep walking through life.  Let me tell you, class, that life sucked big donkey balls.  I settled to the point where I didn’t feel very much of anything anymore.  I spent the five miserable years sleepwalking through a life that society told me was what I should want.  Get up, make and eat breakfast, pack lunch, smoke, drive to work, teach, smoke, drive home, make dinner, smoke some more, watch TV, be ignored by my ex-husband, go to bed.  Most nights, I dreamed of fighting my Shadow, who is male, and he either mortally wounded or killed me almost every time we met.
In the fifth year, I walked into my Differential Equations class and heard my best student sing, "I beat my dick like it owes me money," from the puppets episode of The Chappell Show.  Here was someone who didn't give a flying fuck what people thought of him.  It was literally like a switch flipped in me.  He woke me.  I looked at myself and thought, "Who the hell am I?" 

I took the villanelle challenge at the personal level.  I began to rewrite myself as who I truly am, and when I did, I found that my old life and most of my relationships didn’t fit anymore.  I found out who truly loved me, and to the rest...fuck 'em.  I had to shed that old skin, which earned me the honor of my waker saying, "You remind me of  '46 and 2' by Tool.” (see below for a video with lyrics and analysis)  I cry perhaps once a year, except that one.  I cried more in that year than I have in my entire life, but it was to be expected.  Any meaningful metamorphosis is going to be hellishly painful.   
So, here I am, awake and living, mostly at peace with my Shadow.  Some of my rhymes are cheesy, and some of the line breaks are awkward, but this life, this skin, fits.  In my true skin, I can grow as much as I am willing to let myself.  This life is worth being awake to experience.  

"46 & 2" by Tool:

Thursday, November 11, 2010


"@curlyrbr A fantasy novel heavy with mathematical theory would be interesting." @EvilWylie tweeted to me. 

A quantum wizard maybe.  L and I talked about it last week.  He could teleport.  Teleport and manipulate things at the basic level.  As long as there is a non-zero probability that something could happen, he could make it happen.  Tee-hee.  That is friggin awesome! 

As if I need another work in progress, what with Camellia and Jahleen and Cameron already on the burners. 
Camellia is in timeline overhaul to make her parents culture Gen-X, my generation.  Disregarding edits, the current story for her is in book six, and I'm desperate to find out what I will do to her next.  Her primary antagonist makes me feel creepy and dirty and delicious all at the same time. 

Jahleen is about to convene the first ever peace summit of her world.  Her use of magic is changing her, and I want to see what marks her next -- fire or wind. 

Cameron is still in chapter one, bashing his forehead into his steering wheel and wishing he had a soul.   

Then, there is the National Novel Writing Month novel I am stupidly trying to write. My main character annoys me.  I like the asshole that hit her in the head with a hacky sack better than I like her.  I don't know why I decided to try to write a YA novel.  Yes, I do, and I know better.

Oh yeah, and somewhere in there I should be outlining my dissertation.  It's hard to be motivated when both you and your advisor are drained and tired and ready for the semester to end.  

But this idea of a quantum wizard...or possibly even something related to my own research...It is so hard to write something like that on the proper level so that it is mostly scientifically true (well, as true as it can be when so much is still unknown about quantum states) but still accessible to readers.  It would be a challenge, and if done well, it could be...Wow.  Yeah.  Mathmagical. 


My buddy Dave finds the funniest dorktoons:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monkey Read, Monkey Do

As per Patrick's request...some of my sources.  More to follow in the future:

"What the Bleep Do We Know?" DVD, 2004

The Book of Nothing by John Barrow, 2000

The Complete Book of  Dreams by Julia and Derek Parker, 1998

"Ancient Aliens" series on The History Channel

The History and The Science Channels

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandries by Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2007

Universe: the Definitive Visual Guide 2005, ISBN 0-7566-1364-7 (although I don't know where they get off saying it is definitive)

Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation (this one is supposedly re-translated from original texts)

Honest Ape

This past summer at the oil-spotted beach in Gulf Shores, AL...

"I look like shit," I say to my sister-in-law (my brother's wife).
"Oh, shut up with your this," she waves her hand around her face, "and your this," she runs her hands up and down her arms.  "You're beautiful."

I don't believe her, not for one second.  But, it makes me smile because I know that, as someone who doesn't have to love me much less like me, she feels that way.  Even better, she won't hesitate to say it and be pissed at me for it.  She makes me wish I could see myself through someone else's eyes.

Later in the week, I ask, "Well, does my book suck?"
She puts down her Kindle.  "No, I like it so far, but it's missing something." 
I ready my pencil.  "Can you be more specific?"

I am blunt and honest to a fault at times, so I appreciate honest people who aren't afraid to tell me how they feel.  Even if we don't agree, never be afraid to share.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dr. E said...

"We've blundered into the truth, which is completely trivial once we realize it."

How many of us are on some quest for truth?  All of us who are awake, I am certain.  Let me be clear.  By awake, I mean someone who is invested, whether positively or negatively, in each day of his or her life and isn't just going through some recursive schedule that mimics living.  Every scientist, mathematician, theologian, philosopher, and artist seeks to reveal some truth about our world, our universe, ourselves.  Some, like me for instance, cross subject areas and occupations in order to do so.  We look everywhere we can think and many places we imagine.  We ask experts, friends, family.  We might even pray to our god of choice whether it is a deity, money, or a drug, for inspiration.  We do all these things in the hopes that someone, something, or somewhere will hold the key to our revelation.

What happens when we make the discovery?  Newton invented Calculus, INVENTED CALCULUS, but was he satisfied?  No.  His invention and his new understanding of Physics only led to more questions, some of which he could not answer.

That is the nature of the search and why we call it research.  And that is a terrible pun.  I love terrible puns.  But, I digress, as I often do, which is why I am generally behind when taking notes.  Well, that, and I need glasses.   

Anyway, where was I?  Right!  You do the work.  You put all your time and effort and energy into building up the platform on which your truth will sit, and find it, but you realize it wasn't this profound thing at all but something simple and so obvious that it was almost negligible.  You feel like a douche when you set it on the platform.  And worse, that truth leads to even more questions.  Or should that be 'But even better'? 

Do you slap yourself on the forehead, laugh, and move onward, or do you pound your fist on your desk, curse, and give up?  Perhaps we start out laughing, and after years of searching, we get bitter.  Maybe it doesn't even take years.

Right now, I'm in the Southern Culture on the Skids "Camel Walk" phase: in search of truth and some pointy boots and maybe a few snack crackers.  I really, really don't want to get bitter because I see bitter people roaming this planet.  They look Tired and Angry and Trapped and Lonely.  Here, I really do mean the essence,  the very personification of these emotions.  I despise all those feelings, even though I have felt them all in varying degrees throughout my life. 

For me, bitterness is something to assess and correct on a daily basis.  With all that I am, I hope that when I have been at the game of truth seeking for as long as Dr. E has, I can laugh and say, "Alright.  Good to know.  Let's move on then."      

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monkeying Around...

Give graduate math a chance.  I swear to keep it simple.

My research for my dissertation focuses on groups (an algebraic structure) that have a property that my advisor, Dr. C, and I have named "the road trip property."  Incidentally, he wanted to call it that instead of "the trip property" because trip made him think of acid.  Anyway, we think of a space where we have shortest paths and defined distance - a sheet of paper for instance.  We draw some hideous, crazy loop on it and measure its length and say that's our longest trip.  Now, we promise not to drive more than a certain distance each day and put a bunch of destinations on our trip to ensure that.  Then, it's possible for us to carefully shorten the trip in stages until it is a trip where we stay home. 

This branch of geometric group theory is refreshing in the fact that we look at things from a distance, sometimes very far away.  The idea is that if you look at certain spaces from far enough away, they look the same.  It makes me smile to think that there is a loose equivalence between traveling across the country and back and never leaving home. 

The rest of the research involves how this property relates to area bounded by the trips, which are labeled by algebraic words.  Yes, there are words and alphabets in mathematical spaces.  The nice thing about the property is that your space can be really terrible, like a wadded up sheet of paper, but you can map everything into a nice space and visualize it all through the use of van Kampen diagrams. 

The upshot: I get to make dreamcatchers for my dissertation!

Home is the bull's eye. Circles represent trips with dots for destinations.  The blue lines are how the "trippers" are synchronized with each other.

Home is at the bottom. The big trip is the black ring.  Other trips leave home on a blue curve, go out to a black dot, cross a red line through like-colored dots, hit another black dot, and take a blue curve home.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dr. E said...

"I may be the only person you'll ever meet who has gotten severely burned while playing golf.  I never played again."

He was absolutely correct (unless someone out there has gotten severely burned while playing golf and would like to introduce yourself to me). 

He was still in school in Wales but enjoying a summer of leisure.  That summer, there were terrible, widespread forest fires -- so widespread that the people just sort of accepted them as part of the scenery.  One day, he was out with a few friends, playing golf and drinking a bit. 

He says he wasn't very good at golf, but the drinking didn't help matters.  As is often the case with drunk and/or talentless golfers, he hit his ball into the trees.  Now, the concentration of magnesium in the soil in Wales is unusually high, and the ground could actually burn without smoking.  He stepped onto such a patch of scorched earth, which almost instantly burned through the soles of his shoes.  His buddies had to take him to the hospital.

Great story though.


4% FTW and 4% FAIL

From The Huffington Post:    "Geron Corp. has begun testing an embryonic stem-cell treatment on a patient with spinal cord injuries, marking the first time such a medical therapy has been used on a human in a government approved study."

Yes! Yes!  Use that 4% for the greater good.

There are stem-cell "face-lifts."  Well, someone had to think of a way to get the WASPs on-board.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Course Content

Ages ago, when I was in tenth grade English, we read "A Rose for Emily," and I was the kid who got bonus points for being able to tell the class that necrophilia was the act of loving and/or having sexual intercourse with a corpse.  My teacher commended me and suggested that my research skills would serve me well when he assigned our class our first ever research paper.  

Mom, where is the correction sheet?
He was the grammar Nazi of the Honors English sequence.  If you had two comma splices, you failed the grammar section of the paper, which meant you failed the entire paper because grammar counted for half of the total points.  I started writing the thing on my mother's ancient, fifty-pound typerwriter with type bars no less.  By some miracle, my dad decided to buy a computer for the family for Christmas.  And folks, this was when Word Perfect had been around for only a handful of years.  No spell check, no grammar check.  Just your eyes and a list of rules. 

My point?  The man was a total bastard, 32 years old, most likely still a virgin, who often joked that he had so much in common with Christ that he would probably die at age 33. 

Should a person like that be teaching kids?  Hell fucking yeah!  

Maybe Sexy Muffet would've been acceptable
He didn't take shit from anyone, including uptight, overprotective parents.  Not long after my dissertation on necrophilia, one of my classmate's parents went nuts over our class reading about that as well as reading about rape, abortion, and euthanasia (Kevorkian was just getting started).  The Christ comments were just the icing on the close-minded, humorless cake.  The day after he was called to the principal's office for a conference, he came to class and said, "Look here, little children.  We aren't reading Miss Muffet.  This is a literature class about serious works.  If you want to read safe stuff, go back to regular English and get out of my Honors class."  A few parents did pull their kids out of the class.  I stayed, and I learned so much more from him than the fact that men with man boobs should never wear tight t-shirts.

He taught me that even if a work has "questionable content," it doesn't make it unworthy of reading.  It doesn't make it an less valuable or important.  He stood up to those who would censor him and his course content and for good reason.  We read short stories, essays, poems, plays, and novels that opened my eyes and mind to aspects of my world that I had never considered, which allowed me to go to college with an open mind.

This brings me to my second point about content.   

I took a course in classic lit in my junior year.  It was backtracking, and having already had the classics in another Honors College survery course, I had read most everything we were covering.  You know, Homer, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Virgil, Aeschylus, etc. As I hoped, I cruised through, which was great since I had two of my hardest math classes yet.

We also studied The Bible as literature, something that doesn't generally go over too well in the bible belt.  I asked our teacher -- a scared shitless graduate student only two years older than me -- if we would be studying any of the books not in the canon, to which he answered no, and I said, "Well, damn."
The girl next to me says, "What are you talking about?"
Me: "Books that were written but not included in the Bible, like The Book of Mary about Mary Magdalene and her life as an apostle."
Girl: "She wasn't an apostle.  Women can't be preachers.  It says so in the Bible."
But I had long hair then
I had a Sheila Broflovski moment...what, what, what?! 
Me: "Have you read the Bible?"
Girl (now glaring at me): "Yes."
Me: "Then you know about Priscilla and Aquila -- the married couple that BOTH preached?"
Girl (looks around the room and at the teacher): ...
Guy from my computer science class laughs.
Me: "What do you think Mary did while she traveled around with Jesus?  Do you think she just hung out and cooked dinner?"
Girl (now looking worried): ...
The teacher looked worried too.
Me: "Many books were written but not all of them made it into the Bible.  It'd be too big to carry, but mainly, King James, or rather the members of the church who wanted to control what people thought and did, had a lot to do with what stayed and what went."
Girl: "No, God is perfect and the Bible is His Word and if He wanted it in the Bible, He would've made sure it was in there."
Me: "Uh, haven't you heard of free will?"
Guy from CS quotes Hamlet, calling the girl Horatio.  The girl looks at me like she can't decide whether to scream at me or cry.  Finally, the teacher grows a pair and reclaims the classroom.  The girl never sat next to me again.

Take it back! Evolution is only a THEORY!
That day made me wonder what happened to the girls and boys whose parents removed them from my tenth grade English class.  Did they spend their high school years completely sheltered from learning anything true about the world around them?  Did they never think to question anything?  I wondered if they went off to college and had a rude awakening or worse, they never had any sort of awakening.  Perhaps, but then again, some people react badly to having their safe, hermetically sealed worlds opened.

For fear-driven reasons, things get left out, important things, things that would add richness and dimension to the story and the characters or people involved.  Damn it, I believe that by including such things -- hard things, scary things, bad things, rip-out-your-heart-and-stomp-on-it things -- the stories and history are made real and better.  Trouble of any flavor evokes a response, for better or worse.  Without it, fiction is meaningless fluff, and non-fiction is mind-numbing fact reporting.     

If you write, even if you write fantasy like I generally do, write something real.  Write what you are moved to write, and fuck the censors.  If you don't write, but you read, then read things that make you feel, that elicit something powerful from you, that meaningfully change the way you see the world or Mankind.  Censoring yourself, whether as an artist or a reader, cheapens your experience.

Oh, and my mother would ask, "Do you have to use so many expletives?" 
And I would say, "Yes.  Yes, I do."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dr. E said...

"And now, we've picked all the low-hanging fruit from this tree of knowledge."

"We're splashing around on the surface of some very deep waters."

Getting Clean

Thinking about addiction…

The first thing that comes to mind is various drugs.  Alcoholics, pot-heads, coke-heads, crack-heads, meth-heads, pill-heads…jeez you name it, I more than likely personally know and/or love someone who was or is on it.  Folks I grew up with -- people in their early thirties -- have died from meth rotting their bodies and from cocaine-induced heart attacks.  One of my brother’s college roommates drowned in a hot tub one New Year’s because he passed out in it.  Jimmy – the first fully fledged alcoholic I ever met whose eyes were perma-bloodshot.

I did my share of hard drinking, but having started at age 16, I was burned out by age 21.  Throwing up every Saturday and Sunday morning lost its thrill, especially when I still had loads of homework to do and a serious case of perfectionitis (i.e. having to do everything perfectly or the world will end).  Now, if I have more than three beers or two glasses of wine, I feel like total shit the next day.  It just isn’t worth feeling crappy anymore.    
Smoking took longer to kick.  Because all my friends did, I started when I was 18, and I kept going long after most of them quit.  I tried to quit several times in college, but I would usually end up bumming from my roomie or smoking her butts (yes, I know how gross that is) until I broke down and bought a pack.  I used patches twice and quit for 3 months both times.  Both times, I went back to smoking. 

I suppose that, if I had also quit smoking pot, I might have been more successful.  The first boy I ever loved is the first person whoever offered me pot that I accepted.  It was laced with opium, and afterwards, I sat on his sofa and watched two episodes of Outer Limits followed by watching him and three other guys shoot a Coca-cola can with a blow gun…a real freaking blow gun with barbed darts and everything…for two straight hours.  My head felt like Mr. Mackey’s in that episode of South Park where he does drugs and his head becomes a giant balloon that floats around in the breeze.  The only other pot experience I had of that caliber was when I took two hits off a pipe with a chip of a hash bar.  OMG.  I think I stared at my friend’s dog and giggled for three hours.  My only contribution to the conversation was, “What?  Shut the fuck up.”  

Pot replaced booze.  With the pot came the migraines.  Once I finally quit smoking weed, my migraines almost completely stopped.  I didn’t quit smoking cigarettes until I was 29.  And after all the previous tries, what did it for me was seeing a student of mine, who was actually 2 years older than me, hacking up a lung outside the math building before he wheezed his way into my classroom.  Once the nicotine was out of my system, the migraines stopped completely. 

They say pot is a gateway drug, but other than the one time I took G, went berserk, and then puked for an hour, I never ventured beyond pot, even when two people I loved and trusted begged me to take X with them, because I knew these things:

     1) I have a somewhat addictive personality
     2) I am too high-strung for uppers
     3) I am too paranoid to completely relinquish control of myself to something else, especially since I know how I strongly I used to react to certain people when all my protective barriers were down.
But, what it all came down to in the end was that I made the decision to live in the real world with as few influences on my consciousness as possible, even influences that came from inside me of which I wasn’t really aware.

“W-What?” you ask.

A dear friend of mine (the person who taught me how to love myself) suggested that I check out the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?”  I have to say that some of the people interviewed for it seemed like complete whack-jobs, but there are a lot of physicists, biologists, psychologists, mathematicians, doctors, and so on who contributed as well.  Part of the movie dealt with addiction, and it had nothing to do with drugs. 

The main character we follow throughout the dramatic part of the movie is a photographer with self-hate and ex-husband issues.  Her boss sends her to a wedding to take pictures, and she watches how the guests interact with each other at the reception.  During this portion of the movie, the biologists and doctors discuss addiction to emotions. 

When you become angry, happy, in love, aroused, sad, or what-have-you, your body produces hormones (neuropeptides), which you can become addicted to just like any other drug.  You become dependent on feeling those emotions because they make you feel alive and vital and part of the world, no matter how fucked up they are.  Even if they are bad, they are better than feeling nothing.  You get high on your rage or your misery, and the hormones responsible for fueling your body’s reaction to those emotions (increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, etc.) feed your habit and increase their numbers of receptor sites, making you want more.  It can get to the point where some of your cells lose receptor sites for nutrients in favor of neuropeptides associated to the emotions, and when those cells reproduce, they don't even have receptors for things the body needs to heal itseelf, cleanse itself, etc. 

The movie bit has a bunch of gummy bear-looking “hormones” running around egging on various reception attendees, but it’s a very good way to visualize what happens.  Check out a condensed version of the scene here:  "Addiction" 

It made me stop and think: what emotions am I addicted to?
Hate of myself and others
Anger at the world, my students, my boss, my parents, my ex
Sadness about things that weren’t how I thought they should be
Intellectual snobbery
Many, many more…

Once I began paying attention to how I fed myself on those things, I could stop it.  Oh, did it take a lot of practice and meditation.  It takes a lot of painful self-analyzing and a strong desire to want to change, but I have to say that I feel better and happier and more like the person who I feel I am at my very core than I have since I was a child.  That is one of the most incredible, life-altering, beautiful feelings I have ever experienced.  When I chose to be me again, instead of this hate-filled creature living in a husk that looked like me, I wept. 

It would be far easier to stay addicted, to nourish myself on hate and fear.  I still have major issues with self-doubt and self-hatred.  I still get absurdly angry about inconsequential things.  When that happens, I have to rehab myself -- rewire, rewrite, reassess -- and move forward.  Getting clean is an on-going process but one worth the effort.