I was a terrible cheerleader once.  This was pee wee cheerleading, not the big leagues, and no kid at that age is going to be a paragon of grace, but especially not a girl who’s taller than her classmates and a little fat and in the midst of her gangliest stage.  But I wanted to try it.  My friends who were not so tall or fat or gangly were all there and said, even to a young kid like me, that maybe the exercise would help me lose weight.

I was worried about that sort of thing before junior high.  Sad to think about now in retrospect.

Anyway, I went to practice.  Every practice, without fail.  I practiced at home all the time.  I practiced with my friends at their houses.  I still remember some of the cheers a million years later because that’s how my brain works.  It’s a spongy piece of skull meat that can’t recall locations of wallets, keys, or second shoes, but do I ever remember, “WESTIES CONQUER AND DEFEAT, LET’S GO BIG TEAM YOU GOT THAT BEAT.”  I even remember the hand motions of the stupid cheer.

I cared then.  A lot.  I attended every game.

For a while.

Every town sport, no matter what age, has a competition season.  Statewide events where you go to compete against kids your own age.  Cheerleading was no different, and we had “try-outs” for the state competition.  We weren’t a big squad, so it wasn’t really necessary, but it certainly succeeded in doing what the coach of the team set out to do.  You see, after try outs, every single person on the squad got to go to regionals except me and one other girl.  Both of us were tall, a little fat, and gangly.  We didn’t blend.

I cried.  I cried more when, a few days later, that friend (named Erin, by the way) got called up to go to regionals because one of the other girls on the squad couldn’t make it.  I was the only kid left out.  I was the only one not good enough to go with the team I practiced with and cheered with.

I stopped going to cheerleading for the most part after that.  I certainly never signed up again.  The writing was on the wall that I wasn’t worthy and I wasn’t good and I wasn’t and I wasn’t.  It’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for something that’s such an utter humiliation.  One kid out of twenty.  Hi, I’m Hillary the failed cheerleader.

I often see people talk about our entitled generation where every kid gets a trophy for trying.  I often see people insisting that rewarding everyone only encourages mediocrity and that’s not how people WIN in life.  Well, as the kid that would have been the only one denied the trophy, I can tell you that’s a pretty horrible thing to wish on a child.  I would rather reward a kid for giving something a shot than to discourage them by communicating that their efforts matter less than those of their teammates.  That they aren’t as good as other kids so just deal with it because SORRY MIDDLE SCHOOLER, THEM’S THE BREAKS. Sure, there are always going to be superstars in any sport or club and those superstars deserve an extra gold star, and I have no problem giving them said gold star (or, by this analogy, a Much Bigger Trophy), but I also don’t want to deny the one tall, fat, gangly kid their token gesture.

I tell this story because, as I get older, I look back less at all the things I’ve done and more at all the things I didn’t do.  Weird how that works, but it’s true.  I was always afraid of team sports after the cheerleading thing, so I stayed away from them.  I developed a fear of public humiliation that is, to this day, crippling.  I can’t stand not being good enough so anything that makes me uncomfortable?  I avoid like the plague and that means I miss out on a lot of cool things.  No, cheerleading didn’t afflict me with these issues, but it certainly didn’t help as it was this kid’s first foray into sporting.

What an impression it left.

So everybody out there reading this right now?  Who has a kid or knows a kid who’s trying something or doing something that they’ve never done before?  Who’s extending beyond the limits of their comfort zone and participating in life?  Lighten up on the trophy thing.  Encourage don’t diminish.  Be a positive influence, not some child’s first introduction to the School of Hard Knocks.  Dropping the anvil on a kid’s head is not a badge of honor.  And giving one tall, fat, gangly kid a participation trophy in no way diminishes the achievements of your superstar athlete kid, cause trust me, next to my awkward ass your kid’s going to look absolutely fantastic.  You don’t need ALL the statues–yes, even the rinky dink ones–to confirm what you can see with your own eyes.

Or, if you do, the problem ain’t the tall, fat, gangly kid in the first place.

Hillary out.

The Instagram Thing.

Instagram has made beauty DIFFERENT. There’s this push to do Full Makeup Glam looks–girls are thinking that’s what’s beautiful. The Kardashian full contour with falsies. If you wanna do that (which is your prerogative) be honest about your time investment. I know what I’m doing with the warpaints and it STILL takes me awhile. I timestamped “The Instagram Process” for a point of reference. No one needs to go through this every day to look pretty. No one.


One Small Thing. One Big Problem.

I sometimes think I let myself get and be fat as a line of defense. Stop with the torches – I know it’s a shitty thing to say. I recognize it, but hear me out before you blast me into oblivion. For better or worse, society associates fat with unattractive. It’s not ideal in a mate because everything around us tells us that fat is shameful, that it’s disgusting. In this paradigm, a pretty thin woman will always ALWAYS get more attention than an equally pretty fat woman. Not with all partners, of course, but I’m fairly sure even the most stalwart defender of “beauty in all sizes” cannot disagree with what I’ve said. While some folks are forward thinking re: the attractiveness of all bodies, the vast majority of society is not.

Rewind to when I was at pretty much an ideal weight. Pardon my vanity a moment, I’ve got a good face. Mama gave me some looks and for it, THANKS FOR THE GENES, MOM. I also stick out. I’m tall – 5’9″ and I have this shock of wild black hair and very pale skin. You see me coming. The bright red lipstick probably doesn’t help me blend, but I’m not sure I would have blended well anyway. I’m going to highlight in no particular order just a few of the things that happened to me during my tenure as “weight-appropriate fit chick” –

1) A man at a bar bought me a beer on draft even though I was drinking bottled Corona all night. I lifted it up to thank him when my girlfriend pointed out the white shit dissolving on the bottom of the glass. He’d put a mickey in my drink. I slid the drink down and away. I was shocked. Erica looked at him, and realizing he got caught, he took the fuck off out of the bar. Hillary narrowly avoids date rape, Story One. There’s another narrowly-avoiding-date-rape story, but I don’t tell that one and I never will. Just believe me that it wasn’t fun.

2) I was on a boat at a wedding wearing a nice dress. One of the men at the party cornered me between the deck railing and the side of the reception hall. He ground against me and forced me to lean so far back over the railing, I had to grip it for fear of falling overboard. I was saved by the arrival of a guy who saw what was going on and forced the guy away from me.

3) I walked down the streets of Boston to meet a friend who was visiting from out of town. While walking through Boston, three guys followed me around six curving blocks. I ducked into a convenience store when I realized I was being followed. When the gentleman behind the counter asked me what he could do for me, I told him what was wrong. The three men outside lingered for a minute. Fortunately, the guy in the store was a hulking dude and basically went out to clear them out for me. He also assured me if they gave me crap, he was willing to use the various implements of anti-robbery he had behind the counter if need be. Thanks, Hero Stranger.

4) Dave had this friend who was well over six feet tall and BIG. Every time he saw me, he would NOT stop groping me. Boobs, butt – you name it, the guy was a pig and manhandled the piss out of me and did not take no for an answer. And yes, I said a lot of “No.” It wasn’t until Dave told him “If you don’t stop, I will break your fingers and then I’ll tell your parents” that he backed off. Me? Ignorable, I guess. Not deserving of personal space on the merits of my own choice.

5) I went to a comic book convention with my friends. Because I like to look nice? I wore a skirt. I was warned, “Don’t do that, these are stinky fan boys.” I’m stubborn – I wanted to wear what I wanted to wear and fuck society for telling me I can’t. While there, I had my ass palmed no less than four times.

There are more examples. Many more, actually, now that I think about it. A girl (or any victim regardless of gender) never forgets how you feel during this shit. Disgusted, scared, and I think even the smartest person is left thinking, “What could -I- have done differently to avoid this?”

Last night, I went to a concert with my mother, my aunt, my uncle. The man in the row behind us was a friendly sort, kept talking to my uncle. He also stroked my hair at one point. Like, full sweep of this stranger’s hand on the back of my head and down to thread his fingers through my hair. I was shocked, but I thought MAYBE it was an accident – when he did it, there were people walking in front of me and I’d had to lean back into his row to get away from them so I didn’t get an elbow to the face. I told my mother what he did, whose response was, “If it happens again, tell me.” It didn’t. Not until we were leaving. My uncle had just said we ought to go a little early to avoid traffic, so we were packing up. The guy asked us if we were leaving, I said yes. Not only did he put his hands on my shoulders and say, “Aww, that’s too bad,” but as I turned away, he touched my hair again. Same deal – open palm on the back of the head and down to my back.

Because we were leaving, I didn’t make a thing. I just wanted to get out of there because it was gross. This particular feeling of discomfort is a VERY distinct one, I find. Once you are in the midst of it, you are reminded of all the other times that you were feeling similarly horrified by someone treading all over your personal space and boundaries. And while my shut-in lifestyle and weight have, to a point, acted as a shield, apparently last night it was my turn to be creepy touched again.

The thing I found — find? — sad was/is, I’ve recently dropped a healthy chunk of weight. Not all of it, but enough that I comfortably feel like I’m heading in “the right direction” for my particular goals. And I actually found myself wondering, “Do I want to invite this shit back in.” Because it happened to me frequently enough when I was skinny (or as skinny as my body type gets) that it’s going to happen more and more. And there’s this awful fear that goes along with that thought that I’d love to explain but I’m not sure would do it justice. Powerlessness is the best word that comes to mind. Not being in control of your own body. Not being respected in your own skin.

I guess the reason I’m blogging about this is there’s a lot of talk about how rape culture is exaggerated and how the feminists need to shut up about women’s issues and “Dudes get it.” Do they? Really? Because I’m thinking the ratio of dudes having to deal with the powerlessness thing compared to women is pretty low. Yes, male victims happen and DUDES, I AM SO SORRY for you. But this does tend to slant towards a female problem most of the time. And if we are as enlightened of a society as people like to claim, if dudes REALLY GET IT, why would someone like me dread getting back to what society deems an ideal proportion for me? Why would I -ACTIVELY- think about, “Do I want to lose the rest of this weight? More people will touch me.”

Isn’t that fucking sad? I think it’s sad. That’s why I’m talking about it here. And no, I’m not going to stop losing weight out of fear, but when it actually crosses my mind that “maybe I shouldn’t,” something is terribly, terribly wrong. I only wish I knew how to fix it, but it’s an issue a little bigger than me alone.

This is Sad.

I think everyone’s had something to say about the Zimmerman/Martin trial over the last few days and that’s understandable. I don’t really want to talk about it. Well, I do and I don’t. The politics involved make my head hurt. The race issues and the trial and the everything is such a jumble of AWFUL STUFF that I’ll let smarter people dismantle it. I’ll let others take it apart piece by piece before spewing their slant on the rights and wrongs of our judicial system. As my grandmother used to say, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.”

Smart lady, that grandmother. If you have an opinion and share that opinion, good on you. Cheers to you. I won’t play in your sandbox, though, because I’m too tired to fight right now.

What I want to talk about today is something I’m seeing missing in a lot of this political grandstanding and it’s bugging the shit out of me. The value of human life, or the tragedy inherent when a life so young gets snuffed out for ANY reason. A kid that wasn’t even old enough to buy cigarettes or lottery tickets died. Regardless of where you stood on this trial — your support or loathing of Zimmerman — there’s one thing that can’t be overlooked. A seventeen-year-old boy died. And the reality here? That kid is neither the hoodlum nor the saint the left versus right media is portraying. I’m betting he was a little bit of both. Somewhere in the middle. He did good things, he did bad things. He had a family. People loved him. And now he’s gone.

That’s sad. And if you don’t think it’s sad, I’m wondering what’s wrong with you, because gleeing at the death of a kid is just . . . I can’t even. You are the worst. If you do that, you are THE worst. Whether you think that Zimmerman was within his rights to shoot Trayvon Martin is not the topic at hand. What is? A kid’s passing in any guise is terrible. If you rejoiced over the verdict, if you found some “pleasure” in it? Shame on you for losing sight of the stemming tragedy.

Do you remember being seventeen? I do, and man, it was a weird time. I wasn’t a bad kid. In fact, outside of a streak of laziness and a snide mouth, I was a relatively GOOD kid. But I made some incredibly stupid decisions because . . . I was seventeen. I remember going out with friends on a snowy night and playing car tag. The object was to chase each other and bump our friends’ cars and that car became IT. Our Oldsmobile behemoths could, if we were just a little too reckless, kill us. This incredibly bad plan was brought to you by icy roads and boredom in a small town. But I did it anyway even knowing my mother would kill me if she found out. I did it knowing that a cop would tear off my head if he saw what I was doing.

I also remember stealing shit off of people’s lawns. Garden gnomes, I think it was. Street signs? Yeah, we took those, too. Because we were dumb. Were we breaking the law? Probably. No, definitely. But I stand by my assessment that I wasn’t a bad kid. I did stupid things because I was young and reckless and didn’t quite understand consequences yet, but I don’t think that made me a reprehensible human being. I think it made me seventeen and dumb, but not reprehensible.

I’m venturing a guess that Trayvon Martin did a lot of stupid shit, too. Because I think it’s part of growing up. I think teenagers test their limits. I think they strive for acceptance among their peers, whoever those peers might be. I think they grandstand. I think they make crappy decisions but, in most cases, learn from their mistakes. But they can only learn from their mistakes when they’re given that opportunity. This kid? He won’t have that opportunity. For every person assuming what Trayvon Martin would become one day, whether that’s a good person or a bad person? Stop. It’s a moot point. You can hypothesize until the cows come home. This half adult, half child human being will never be able to prove your theories of his potential right or wrong because he is dead. And pretending you know him? Pretending you know how he would have turned out as an adult? Makes you a prophet or a dink, your pick.

If someone comes in here vomiting vitriol in the comments, I’m going to nuke it from orbit. I have a very clear opinion on the Zimmerman subject and no one’s going to sway that opinion. This post is about the bigger picture – remembering what was lost BEFORE the politics. A kid died. Take a moment to think about that. Take a moment and be sad about it. Take a moment to consider the douchebag you were at seventeen and how your death would have affected those around you. And once you’re human enough to do that, go ahead and have your political talks. But Jesus Christ, please remember what was lost first. Seventeen years is not long enough. It just isn’t.

Language is Fluid. Stop Pretending Otherwise.

Language is hard, not gonna lie. Words are more than just definitions spewed out by Merriam-Webster. There’s nuance to consider. There’s origin. There’s history that can change and redefine a word’s impact. But before I get into all this, first I want to talk about the swastika. Why? It’s relevant, I promise.

The Hindu Swastika

The Hindu Swastika

The swastika was originally a Hindu symbol developed in ancient India, and by ancient I mean 3300 – 1300 BC, so a minimum of three thousand years ago. If it faced left, it represented the terrifying goddess Kali, night, and magic. If it faced right, it represented the gods Vishnu and Surya. The symbol was used to empower. It was used for good luck. It was, by its original design, a lovely, healthy thing people would sew onto garments, paint onto temple walls, and venerate. But we all know what happened to the swastika, folks. A madman came in, adopted it for his own, and now the connotation in the forefront of everyone’s mind is Nazi assholes instead of Vishnu. Because of one man “claiming” it, a symbol that was a thing of beauty in the Hindu religion for THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF YEARS was forever polluted by genocide.

THIS is a perfect example of the nuance in language, guys. Something can be both GOOD and BAD at the same time depending on your origin. If you are a Hindu and you use the swastika, you’re probably in the clear. If you’re a blue-eyed white person, no, it’s not okay, and you can thank Adolf for that.

I keep hearing this outcry about “Why can the black community use THE N WORD but Paula Deen can’t.” Substitute ANY WHITE PERSON EVER for Paula Deen and you have the jist of the complaint. The answer is both complex and simple, but it boils down to because history happened. And you can’t dismiss that with, “well that was a long time ago.” So was Hitler’s bullshit, but it’s not like there’s a shelf-life on atrocity. THE N WORD’s origins are white people enslaving black people. Yeah, this generation isn’t guilty of it, but our Super Grand Pappies sure were. And our grandparents were part of the generation that embraced segregation, so it’s not like active racism in America is SUCH AN OLD THING.

So then why is it okay that black people use the word? Because in our society right now, there’s a cultural allowance in their community. They “took it back.” Just like some feminists took back bitch. Just like members of the LGBT community took back queer. As members of an oppressed group, they took what used to be THE WORST OF THE WORST and they turned it on its head. I don’t know that I’d say they used it to empower themselves, but there’s probably a level of that there. And you can go ahead and argue that these folks are no longer oppressed minorities so it should just be off-limits period (and I’ll laugh because, uhh, wake up and smell the racism), but by that argument, the swastika should either fully embraced or fully outlawed depending on which side of the coin you allow. But considering the history outlined above, there’s no right answer there, right?

So do you tell someone who’s taken a word back and uses it to empower themselves that they’re wrong? I don’t. Because I understand how language works. I understand nuance, history, and fluidity. I also understand that I am never, ever going to be allowed to get a swastika tattoo and I’m okay with that. Why aren’t you?

Aluminum Magnolia.

Ramble on.

I’d like to claim I’m a steel magnolia, but there is very little steel about me. When describing myself, I’d have to go with something softer and more malleable, like aluminum. Aluminum has its own weird strength despite its tendency to bend and crinkle under pressure. For one, it knows how to cleave when it ought to cleave. You can tear it, but a fold or two will fix it right back up again. It can take various shapes when it needs to and it knows how to yield.

“What the hell are you talking about, Hillary?” Lemme ‘splain.

So, Thanksgiving comes and goes with its usual fat-kid foods and wonderful company. There are laughs and plenty of happy memories to be shared. It was a good time. It’s usually a good time, so this was not a surprise. What is surprising (to me at least) is how I feel after spending time with my family. They’re smart people who have strong convictions. They’re well-spoken and have truly interesting stories to tell. More than that, though, they’re strong. Whether it’s from my grandmother’s battleaxe parenting or surviving the various punches life threw their way, my mother and uncle never cease to amaze me with their resiliency. They’ve seen and done stuff beyond my scope of experience and — as such — are granite.

In comparison, I’m sheltered. This comfortable little bubble that is my life is great, but it may have done me a disservice in its own weird way, too. I don’t feel like I have the Monahan mettle. Sure, I’m outspoken and loud. I have far too many opinions on far too many things. That’s not steel, though. Often, I think willingness to speak one’s mind translates to “strong” to those who aren’t so good with the “getting their thoughts out there” thing. Does it take some stones to blurt your brain babies in front of others? Yeah, I guess, but not as much as you might think. It’s one thing to yammer on with gusto to those you’re comfortable with — friends, family, co-workers — it’s quite another to present it to the general public (and I do mean in front of real life people here – the anonymity of the interwebs lends itself to far too many “would be” ballers.) I’m good with telling those I know and trust how I feel, but I generally shy away from it with strangers. Why? No idea, but I can tell you that the disdain of strangers terrifies me more than it should.

Thus, no steel for Hillary. I can’t take my loudness and convictions into the world without the fear that everyone’s going to laugh at me or find me somehow lacking. I’m afraid that despite my greatest efforts, how I relay my thoughts will always be picked apart by a smarter, brighter star. Sometimes, I’m willing to try anyway, which makes me feel like I’ve got at least some juevos, but it’s different. And this is where my aluminum analogy comes from. Foul-mouthed aluminum in the house, thank you very much.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this stuff lately, mostly because my life is going to drastically change in the not-too-distant future. My name will be spoken by a lot of people I will never meet. Sheltered bubble girl is going to be thrust into a limelight. Despite what you may think, writing is not a career that lends itself to squirreling yourself away in a house. As Lauren put it, that only worked for J.D. Salinger, and I am not J.D. Salinger. I’m going to have to speak on panels. I’m going to be reviewed and ripped apart by anonymous critics. I’m going to have an online presence I’m accountable for. People are going to ask me what I think about things and the worst part is THEY’RE GOING TO LISTEN TO WHAT I SAY.

I’m not going to lie, the scope of all that terrifies me. It’s bigger than what I’m ready for. I know my aluminum skin will help me through a lot of it, but sooner or later something will puncture and it will hurt. Lucky for me that I have such amazing people around me. When I go soft, there will be a few steely types for me to lean on. I can find a measure of comfort in knowing that. It helps me be a little less scared about what is surely going to be a very long, intensive ride into a public life.

And don’t get me wrong, y’all. I’m thrilled with what’s happened to me and what’s going to happen to me going forward. But after all the dazzle fades and you’re looking at the road ahead, you start to see some of the bends you may not have noticed before. Realities set in. That’s where I’m at. Not ungrateful, not complaining, but feeling very, very unprepared for my own future. I’ve never been in a place like this before so let’s hope I don’t fuck it up, hmm?


I’m twitchy around new folks.  Like, I’m totally outgoing on one hand, and on the other hand, I worry about being too outgoing.  I talk a lot about stuff that may or may not pertain to wherever I am.   I swear.   I have a raunchy sense of humor.  I am prone to non-sequitors.  I’m opinionated. All of these things make me vacillate between the Queen of Good Impressions and . . . uhh.  Not.  I’m always fretting people think I’m a weirdo who looks in bathroom windows or licks the exhaust pipes of cars for fun.  I’m not, of course.  I’m just friendly.  Puppy friendly.  A snarling, psychotic puppy.

I Will Fuck You RIGHT Up

So combine my personal hang ups about how I present myself to new people with a new job, and you have a recipe for . . . something.  I don’t know.  It’s not a disaster — not even a little bit — but it’s definitely a level of self-awareness I’d rather went away.  If I didn’t care what people thought of me, I’d be a sociopath, yes, but I’d probably be a happy sociopath.  I could be the Czarina of the Dipshits and let my Freak Flag Fly and life would be swell and dandy. As it stands, when I’m at work I’ll occasionally crack a joke or make some smart-ass Hillary comment and promptly duck my head because I’m afraid someone around me is going to stare at me funny or ask what’s wrong with me. This may have happened once already when I said my lunch looked liked an autopsy.


Anyway, I haven’t always been uber sensitive to what other folks thought of me.  I was conscious of it to a point, but I didn’t worry about it to the degree I do now.  So I started mulling over WHY I’ve changed, and I realized a few things.

1)  Locking yourself in your house for extended periods of time makes you FUCKING BIZARRE.

2)  I’ve grown nicer over the years. No, really, I’m nicer. Before I was Attila the Hun.

3)  I’ve lost enough friends to be scared of losing more.

Thems three big, honkin’ things up there, dudes. First on that list? Yeah, that’s how hoarders come to be. I totally understand how long bouts of alone time can screw with you. You are completely out of touch with any reality beyond the four walls surrounding you. You exist in your head SO MUCH, that trying to put yourself in other people’s shoes becomes almost impossible. Things that are relatively small in importance feel like monumental hurdles. It’s always about how you feel at the moment because you lose track of yesterday and tomorrow, so nothing’s in perspective.

I had Dave to buffer it some, and my friends dragged me out on Saturday nights to blow the stink off of me, but WHOA. Had they not done that? I’d probably look something like this:

What hump?

It wasn’t a pretty time in my life, let me tell you. Sometimes, Lulu would look at me and I’d start blabbing at her like she was people. I’d have long, one-sided conversations with her while she wagged her tail and farted in my general direction because she probably thought I’d give her food. The worst part? I NEVER FOUND THAT WEIRD. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog, but that’s . . . yeah, sorta not right. In retrospect, I was six months away from eating wallpaper paste and putting a gun turret on my house to keep strangers away. My faux-goal of being the creepy cat lady was a little too close for comfort, methinks, and maybe I should stop making that joke.

Parts two and three are sort of a combined thing, I think. I’m not nearly as angry as I once was, which is probably the result of extensive therapy (sessions with a real professional person, not with the dog), and I’m old enough to be wistful for things I’ve lost or abandoned. I didn’t particularly love high school, but I miss my friends from then and wish we could reconnect more without me being so fucking self-conscious. The problem is, I worry about that social awkwardness thing. I never feel like I’m as cool or as interesting as other people. I never feel like I’m living up to the imaginary standard I’ve set for myself. I’m not thin. I’m not super successful. I’m not the ruler of the free world. (Yet.) Logically, I know I have a decent job, a house, a husband, pets. I’ve got books under my belt and a lot of hot pokers in the pub industry fire. By most accounts, I’m doing pretty well, but I have this hang up that everyone will see me as a loud-mouthed, obnoxious failure. My minute clinic head therapist says I’m projecting, and minute clinic head therapist is right, but keep in mind . . . that’s essentially my imaginary friend talking, and we’ve already established I’m insane. Minute clinic head therapist should have a Twinkie and shut up.

The good news is (and the whole point of this long, bumbling post) that I feel better in general. I’m still angsty about the new social circle thing, and I will be for a while at work in particular, but hopefully with more vodka and less autopsy jokes, I’ll settle into a routine that I can be comfortable with. I can stop worrying so much about being someone people like and just be me, and hopefully the liking part will fall into line on its own. I do wonder if other folks get as freaked out by new people as I do, and the answer is probably yes, they just tend to preoccupy themselves with other stuff to keep the crazy at bay.

Stuff like this.

Because that cat rules.