Computer + Depression

Sorry for the unplanned disappearance.  Again.  This one wasn’t anything to do with me or my situation, it was just my mom visiting and keeping me busy.

Today’s post is about something that’s been working for me lately; keeping my computer out of my bedroom.

A little history; I can’t sleep without background noise.  Haven’t been able to since I moved into an apartment building for the first time.  When I try and sleep without constant noise, my brain picks up on EVERY noise and wakes me up to investigate what it was.  When I do have noise, my brain just tunes everything out assuming everything is from the constant source.  And for a long time I didn’t have cable, so I would put DVD’s on or something.  Things that always stopped playing after a while and I would wake up and have to put it back on.  This got annoying.  I could have used music, but at the time I was being a luddite and refused to get a cell phone and couldn’t afford an MP3 player.

After a while I got cable and could just stick that on a channel that was mostly repeats so they wouldn’t keep me up wanting to watch something I’d already seen, or a channel that played shows I wasn’t angered to listen to but also wasn’t terribly interested in, like the Food Network.  When I moved though, and ended up living in a camp more often than not, I had to get a laptop since I needed a computer that was mobile, and I started to get used to using my laptop as my source of noise to sleep.  This was not a very good idea.

When I am home and not working, which is a lot lately (isn’t unemployment just the greatest?) I had my computer in my bedroom because it was my background noise.  It is also my internet and my communication with my friends, and my games… I barely ever left my bed.  Didn’t have to!  Everything was right there!  Why get up when you can be so warm and cozy right here and you have everything you need?!  Oh, just a few reasons.

First and most obvious reason is less physical movement.  When you’re sitting at a desk all day you get very little physical movement.  But when you’re lying in bed all day your heart rate barely gets above 65, and that’s really not great for your health.  Beyond that there’s also several other things.  Like making it a lot harder to convince yourself to leave your home, not just your bed.  Like being more tired because your body is in a position that tells it to sleep.  Like having a harder time motivating yourself to do things that actually do need to be done because you’re tired and comfortable right where you are, why would you bother moving?!

Being too comfortable is a bad idea when you’re depressed.  I know that sounds stupid to anyone with depression who feels massively uncomfortable all the time and would kill to feel comfort, but honestly when your depression stems even partially from your situation, comfort is a killer.  When you’re comfortable, you don’t make changes.  Not the important ones.  You do everything you need to do to keep whatever is making you comfortable.  Even if staying comfortable means giving up a chance at being more than comfortable.  A chance at being happy means a chance you won’t be.  And if it goes THAT way, then you gave up comfort for misery.  Why would you do that?

For me, having my computer in my room was making me sleep longer than I should, it encouraged me to not get dressed, which was comfortable, but honestly terrible for self esteem.  It encouraged me to be unwilling to view my writing as work, which made it harder to write.  When I was miserable at my job, my writing was to vent.  I don’t need to vent anymore.  I still wanted to write, but I was so tired all the time.  It required too much focus.  So I had to find some other way to motivate myself to do it.  I had to get out of bed.  I had to stop being up till all hours of the night after deciding to go to bed because there was something interesting on the screen beside me, and then sleeping all day instead.

Honestly it’s not that easy to explain why it helps as much as it does.  But it’s made a significant difference.  I don’t know if it would help anyone else, but it helps me, and this section of my blog is about my fight, not just advice for other people.  But keeping your computer out of your bedroom is never a BAD idea as far as I’m concerned.  Unless your common areas are untrustworthy or your bedroom is also your living room, then it gets a little tricky…

Lack of Focus

Last week I talked about how my anger had affected me in the past.  I have also talked about how that doesn’t really affect me anymore.  I still get mad, but only when there’s something to be unquestionably mad about, like when I learn about someone getting away with abusing their own child.  And I’ve talked about how after I got rid of the anger, I gained a problem with severe fatigue.  Well, I’ve mostly dealt with that, but now I have a new problem, because god forbid I cure one problem without gaining a new one to replace it.

The new problem, as I’m sure you’ve guessed thanks to the title, is that I struggle with focus.  Things that I used to have no problem focusing on for hours on end, I can focus on for about 5 minutes before getting distracted.  And this isn’t just work things, this is trouble reading books, trouble watching TV shows, trouble focusing on games that I used to start playing and then not stop until I realized I hadn’t slept in two days… My level of focus is basically that of an over stimulated toddler.

Obviously this is incredibly problematic.  It makes it nearly impossible to get anything done.  It makes it difficult to even TRY to get things done.  I have to force myself to do just about everything, including microwaving left over pizza so I can get something to eat.  I’m pretty sure I was more productive when I was sleeping 18 hours a day.

So, what am I trying to do about this?  Well, I have three different ‘to do’ lists that I keep posted around my apartment, I have multiple alarms set on my phone to remind me to do things as simple as taking the pills I need to fight the fatigue, I’ve tried denying myself things I want until I get things done, I’ve tried promising myself rewards for success and punishments for failing, I’ve tried meditation, I’ve tried omega 3’s which are supposed to be good for focus, and lately I have been trying the ‘pomodoro method’ of getting shit done.  Which is basically just setting a time frame that you shut off everything but what you need to get something done for 10 minutes then an alarm goes off and tells you to switch to take a break for 5 minutes.  So far this has been the most successful thing I’ve tried.

So far this is the most obnoxious result of my battle with depression.  Even writing this post has been way more difficult than it has any right to be.  My apartment is messier than it normally would be, I’ve been late paying bills because I get distracted and forget, even when I write myself lists I get distracted in the store and forget I have a list telling me what I need to get and so forget things I needed… It’s frankly massively frustrating.  It took me almost a week just to pick up the omega 3 pills and I had that in my phone in three different places and had reminders all over my apartment.  I would have just ordered them online but I kept telling myself ‘no, I’ll remember it today!’  And then promptly forget the second I got to the store.

I had been doing better at focusing when I was exercising every day, but frankly I have been getting distracted from doing that lately too!  Not quite sure what changed, it’s not a lack of motivation, I still enjoy working out, I still enjoy writing, I still enjoy making things, I just keep getting distracted and then forget to get back to what I was doing…  Which is why the pomodoro method has  been working so well for me I think.  There’s a bunch of free apps that set off a series of alarms telling you ‘it’s time to work’, ‘it’s time for a break’, ‘okay, stop being distracted and get back to work.’  It gets you in a rhythm.  Or at least it has been me anyway.

Have any of you had to deal with this? Any suggestions that aren’t ADHD meds?  I’m still very much struggling with this one so if you’ve been there and gotten through it, any suggestions would be fantastic.

Anger

I’m going to talk a little about how my anger affected my daily life.  I’ve expressed before that I had fairly good control over it, never physically lashing out at anyone, managing to bite my tongue most of the time people pissed me off, so unlike a lot of people with anger problems, I wasn’t going around harassing people or making enemies.  But it did affect me a lot despite that.

One, it made me never talk to people.  I hated everyone, why the hell would I ever go out of my way to talk to people?  I mean, come on.  So I don’t have a lot of friends, and now I have no goddamn clue how to make new ones because I never figured out how the hell to talk to people and have to learn a new skill.  It’s not gone well so far.  But the amount I moved around, combined with a desire to punch most people in the face, I never had a chance to meet a lot of people or make a lot of friends.  I have a few close friends, and some people I got along with enough to add to Facebook.  I rarely ever leave my apartment outside work and grocery shopping.

Two, I hated myself.  Every time I would get angry I would hate myself a little more.  What right did I have to look down on them so much?  What did I have to be so angry about when so many people had so much worse lives than I’ll ever have?  What the hell was wrong with me that I couldn’t control my emotions?  Why was I letting such menial shit get to me?  Why couldn’t I stop being so goddamn angry?  What the fuck was wrong with me?  What right did I have to get mad at these people’s actions, I’d done bad things too, sometimes even similar things!  What right did I have to get mad at these situations that I wasn’t a part of?  Why was I letting things that shouldn’t affect me, affect me?

Three, it affected my health.  Did you know that being angry is linked to high blood pressure, heart attacks, headaches, stomach ulcers, stress related illnesses… I’ll bet you did.  I was not immune.  Sometimes I would get so angry my temperature would go up so high I could go sit out in a Canadian winter in the snow without a jacket and still be boiling hot.  And that is NOT good for the body.  I had stomach pains, digestion issues, headaches, knots in my muscles… My everything hurt more often than not.  And I’m immune to painkillers, so I just got to hurt, all the time.  Sometimes to the point of throwing up.  Life was fun.

Four, when I did fight with people, shit got LOUD.  And I hold a grudge.  There are people who crossed a line with me well over a decade ago that I still won’t forgive.  And I was scary.  There were people I had never even been angry with who were absolutely terrified of me.  The ones I did hate, some of them were genuinely afraid I would kill them in their sleep.  And I don’t mean jokingly, I mean they were afraid to come anywhere near me.  Again, neeever actually intentionally hurt anyone.  Not once.  But my anger was so visceral that I didn’t have to.  People did not fuck with me.  Which I will admit in some cases was actually a good thing… But in others it was fucking obnoxious.  Especially the people I had no problem with who were afraid to even let me show them something because they were certain I was going to hurt them.  It’s hard to realize that people you care about are afraid of you.  People who knew me well knew better than to find me scary, but the ones that didn’t, friends of friends, or people I just hadn’t known long enough yet, who were great people and I wanted to try and get along with, were legitimately afraid of me.  They’d at some point seen or heard about me finally hitting the end of my rope with someone and ripping them a metaphorical new one and assumed I was a vicious jackass.  And they had every right to.  I couldn’t hold it against them.  Why wouldn’t they be scared of me?  I was a jackass.

Five, my already bad relationship with my parents broke.  By the time I graduated high school, my parents and I weren’t really on speaking terms.  We didn’t even really tolerate each others existences.  Whenever we would see each other, there would be a shouting match.  No matter what was going on, whether we’d actually pissed each other off or not, we could not just talk to each other.  Even if I’d done well in school and was showing off an A on a test, it would after only about 2 sentences progress into shouting insults.  We could not co-exist.  And I wasn’t on speaking terms with my sister at that point either, though that wasn’t fighting, that was just pretending we didn’t exist to each other.  So after high school there was about a 2 year stretch where my parents and I only talked on holidays.  To be completely honest part of me still wishes that was the case because they never did acknowledge their part in the strife between us but they’re pretty damn quick to point out mine.  But that’s not really the point.  I had, in my mind, no family, almost no friends, and life sucked on just about every conceivable level.

I had no money, the only jobs I could get were part time temp work.  I had no support system, financial or emotional, I didn’t even have a functioning computer.  Couldn’t afford one.  I was living on kraft dinner and koolaid because it was all I could afford and I was just getting increasingly isolated and angry.  I didn’t have anything.  At that point even though Llama and I were already friends, we were more tangentially friends.  She was a friend of a friend of mine and we’d started talking from time to time.  So I had bills I couldn’t pay, pretty much no friends because the ‘friend’ that Llama and I had gotten to be friends through was the only ‘friend’ I had in the city I was living in and he was my roommate and a bigger jackass than I was with even worse anger problems.  I had nothing in my life worth living for.  Just a bundle of shot nerves, a massive chip on my shoulder, and a bunch of burned bridges.

And of course all of this just served to make me even angrier.  100% of the time I could feel the frustration and anger in my chest.  Sometimes it was physically painful.  Even when things were going well or something good was happening in that moment I would still feel the frustration and rage.  At it’s worst it would only take one tiny little thing to make me snap into full blown visceral rage.  Being angry all the time sucks.  I knew what I was doing, I wanted to stop.  I wanted so much to stop.  But in my head the world was just such a terrible, unfair, miserable place.  There was so MUCH to be angry about, that I couldn’t pull myself out of it for even a few minutes.  I was trapped in a pit and I didn’t know how the hell to get out.  I didn’t think it was even possible to.

The Why of My Issues

I suppose the first post in this series should be about the problems I had; why I had issues with depression, and the impact it had on my life. Everyone’s story is different, and everyone reacts to things differently, so this is basically just a summary of the first 26ish years of my life that finally brought me to a point where I could make the changes I needed to make.

When I was a toddler, I was always surrounded by incredibly intelligent people. Everyone in my family – even the individuals who don’t necessarily seem to be on first glance – is ridiculously intelligent and talented. Entrepreneurs, pharmacists, sergeants, accountants, engineers, professors, advanced math teachers, musicians, artists, programmers…and I have a big family; that list only encompasses my parents, my sister, my aunts and uncles, and a couple of first cousins that I spent a lot of time around. I was also very intelligent, and that was a problem. I know it doesn’t sound like one, but bear with me.

When I was very little, I picked up on things incredibly quickly, and my thought patterns were…abnormal for a child. As a toddler, I would watch a piece of technology be used, and immediately understand the principles that made it work. I remember watching a movie (in the ‘80s, long before the days of Google) with my parents in which the main characters were using a device to break into someone’s house by picking up the signal from the garage door opener and mimicking it. The movie didn’t explain that that was what they were doing, it just showed that they had a little device on which, after the person left for the day, they could press a button, and the door would open again. My parents voiced their inability to figure out how it worked, so I rattled off what it was that the device was doing, and they looked at me like I had three heads. I didn’t realize at the time that they were simply hugely impressed at their toddler understanding something that they didn’t, so I took their expressions to mean that I was wrong and they thought that I was stupid.

Things like that happened a lot. Everything except people just intrinsically made sense to me. It all worked on rather straightforward and predictable logic that just came to me, but people I knew to be very smart, who were much older and more experienced than me, didn’t seem to understand those things as easily. I didn’t take that to mean I was smarter than them, or that I was just more capable than them in certain areas, I took it to mean that I must be wrong, that I must be stupid, and the fact that everything seemed so simple to me just meant that I really didn’t understand it at all. So I started to keep my mouth shut when I thought I knew the answer to something; I would overanalyze to a painful degree, and never voice anything unless I was absolutely certain I knew what I was talking about…which was pretty much never.

Obviously, this was not good for my social development, not to mention my self-esteem and confidence. I was afraid to try new things, I was constantly second guessing myself in school, I hated most children because they were even stupider than I was in my own mind, which made me question how stupid I actually was, which then led to a weird sense of superiority that would cause a massive crash as soon as something made me feel stupid again. I would feel guilty for ever thinking I could possibly be smarter than anyone, even people who were objectively really fucking ignorant.

As I’m sure you can guess, that horrible cycle outlined above, coupled with a feeling of isolation from the entire world, (I struggled to connect to people my own age, adults tended to talk to me like a child even younger than my actual age since I was a pretty tiny kid, and as I said, I felt like I was the only stupid member of my family so I didn’t connect with them either, add to that the fact that we moved around a lot so I would constantly lose the friends I had managed to make, and you’ve got a very lonely teenager) caused a lot of problems. I was angry most of the time, annoyed at myself, annoyed at the people around me, annoyed at my lack of direction in life, annoyed about the fact that my parents spent more time away from home than at home and still felt when they were around that they had a right to tell me what to do when they weren’t even there often enough to reliably provide groceries…

I was a highly independent child, and that only got worse as I got older. I didn’t trust anyone around me to help me with anything. When I was a toddler, on top of everything else, I was also a very picky eater. And my parents wouldn’t accommodate that, but they DID let me make my own food. So I had a choice, either eat what they gave me, go hungry,  or make my own meals. So I made my own meals. As a toddler. When I needed help with something, I couldn’t trust my family not to make me feel stupid for needing help, and that wasn’t even me misunderstanding non-verbal communication like the issues with my actual intelligence. My parents did see me as very smart, and so when I needed help with something that they thought should have been very simple for someone who understood the things I understood, they would get annoyed at me and actually imply that it was ridiculous that I needed help with it.

As I got older, it became a matter of no one actually being AROUND to ask for help. Like I said, when I was a teenager, both of my parents weren’t there most of the time. By age twelve I was basically living alone. My older sister would go stay with her friends or boyfriend, my parents had jobs that caused them to leave for long periods of time to other parts of the country, I was just left home alone for days on end, they would come home for a day or two, yell at me for drinking all the pop and not keeping the house spotless, and then leave again. I resented them a lot. But mostly what I learned from that was to never ever rely on anyone else for anything because the people who should have been there for me the most, weren’t fucking there. Even when they were there, they weren’t there. I couldn’t talk to them about my problems. They would tell me that I wasn’t allowed to be stressed or depressed until I had bills to pay. When I had bills to pay, I still wasn’t allowed to be depressed because my whole situation was all my own fault so I should just suck it up.

I make my parents sound like terrible parents, and objectively, yeah, pretty much. But they are really good people. They’re just shitty parents. I know they love me very much, and I have a great deal of respect for them as human beings, but they’d have been much happier if they’d just never had kids and instead put all the money the spent on us into doing things they always wanted to do like traveling to Australia. Instead they had kids because that’s just what people did. So please, if you’re considering having kids, have kids because you WANT KIDS, not because you think you’re SUPPOSED to have kids. Please. Or at the very least remember that kids are human beings with individual thoughts and feelings and needs.

Anyway. So yeah, because of the whole, feeling like an idiot thing, I never pursued anything I really cared about because I never believed I could do it, or if I thought I could do it, I thought it would be something that would make my family look down on me, and for some reason I still wanted their approval. So I had no long term goals, few friends, no ambition to do well in school or give any kind of shit about my health. I ended up in a university I didn’t want to go to taking courses I had no interest in while working part time at a job I hated to try and pay the bills because my parents couldn’t afford to put me through college but I also wasn’t eligible for student loans because they made too much money. I stopped going to school, I ended up working in a call center taking calls from angry old people about how much they were being ripped off by the company that I was representing, and just trying every day to find SOME reason to keep getting up in the morning.

Eventually I couldn’t take this anymore, realized my only way out was going back to school or suicide since I lived somewhere with a non-existent job market and I had few marketable skills, so I decided to at least try school first, and managed to get myself into a retraining program offered through the government through some… I didn’t lie. But I certainly bent the truth a bit. But I got out of the call center, into another school that I didn’t really want to be in preparing for another job I didn’t really want, but at least would suck less than the one I had been doing. I still had to work another shitty job I didn’t want to do to keep up with the bills because I was still somehow not eligible for student loans, but I felt hopeful that at least life would suck marginally less at the end of it all.

Then my not paying attention to my health came back to bite me in the ass.

I am going to say this with all the sincerity I can muster. If you ever have a filling fall out, GET IT REFILLED! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT IGNORE THIS! IT CAN KILL YOU VERY GODDAMN QUICKLY AND PAINFULLY!

So that sucked. But then I found a job that didn’t suck! I actually enjoyed it! And I liked the people I worked with! It was wonderful! I even managed to get The Llama a job at the same company, so I was working somewhere I liked for people I liked, with my best friend, and things were looking good for the first time in my life.

It didn’t last long.

The boss I liked who really wanted to see me succeed, left. He recommended me for his job, but they ended up giving it to someone with absolutely no management experience or training, no people skills, and whose idea of motivation was to call everyone morons as loud as he could for even the tiniest of mistakes. Or when they didn’t make a mistake, they just couldn’t get what they needed to do the job because we were ill equipped and there was not a goddamn thing they could have done. And he did not like me. At all. And then Llama got pregnant and moved to another province so the good job now sucked and my best friend was hours away again, and I no longer had a bright future at that job since there was no way in hell I would ever get a promotion as long as that ass was in charge. In part because I had the gall to point out the fire hazard that indeed ended up causing a fire. So the anger that had only been starting to go away came back with a vengeance and the depression and hopelessness came back just as strong.

I grew angrier and angrier every day. I started writing about villains as a way to vent. I contemplated every day whether or not I should just drive off a cliff. Getting up every day was harder and harder. I was jumpy, I was constantly on edge, waiting for the next horrible thing to happen. I had believed wholeheartedly that this job had been the start of finally being able to enjoy life, and all of that had disappeared almost overnight. I had had a career path, now I just had a job. I had had a boss I could actually talk to and bounce ideas off of, who respected me and listened to what I had to say and acted on some of my suggestions, now I just had the stereotypical horrible boss that everyone fantasizes about getting beaten by the watercooler who I couldn’t even approach about legitimate health and safety concerns, let alone suggestions for the future of the growing company.

Even when he eventually left too, he was replaced by people who he approved of who also hated me for daring to bring up safety concerns that one time. (It really was just the once, and it was only after the overloaded wall circuit had already caused power outages.) Though I also dared to point out that they were treating their employees in a way that wasn’t acceptable. I have a bad habit of defending people even when I’m not involved, and watching employees who did nothing wrong get yelled at for ten minutes for technical issues they had no control over wasn’t something I could let go. I went to the higher ups and pointed out that the man they put in charge had anger issues that made him an unfit manager. I also made a point of cutting him off mid rant explaining what happened as point blank as possible when the person he was yelling at was just sitting there taking it. This did not win me any friends with anyone above me. I was a shit disturber. I will always be a shit disturber though. That’s not something I ever intend to change, no matter how many times it screws me over.

So my depression and anger was pretty constant and I didn’t feel like even if I made another drastic change again that I could escape it. I felt like any improvements I made to my life would just go to hell again like this job had. So I didn’t try. I gave up. I dragged myself out of bed each morning, forced myself into the office, and eventually once it settled in that all hope of every moving up was gone, I just completely half assed pretty much everything. I hit another breaking point. End it all, or try again.

I’m stubborn. I tried again.

The way I chose to look at it was that if I was going to kill myself if I stayed, and only might do it if I left, I owed it to myself to at least try the other way first. The worst case scenario was I killed myself. Which was what I was planning to do anyway. So the worst case was just delaying the plans. So I moved to the other side of the country with the help of my family (I told you they were good people. I have issues with them, but they’ve been there in their own way, it just wasn’t the way I needed them when I was young) and then went broke and caught pneumonia.

It wasn’t off to a great start.

I felt horrible in every sense of the word, went with my parents to a bar, met someone who had a potential job for me, got food poisoning from the chicken wings. While I still had pneumonia.

Anyway, despite a lot of issues cropping up, things actually did start to improve, then suck a bit again, then improve, then suck again… But there was enough good going on to keep me from dropping into the severe depression again, which allowed me to actually start working on improving my outlook on life.

This was the turning point that has allowed me to drastically alter a LOT about my emotional and physical health in the last three years.

QA: What’s the best/worst things about youth?

The Llama intends to break this out into two posts, but I’m on a bit of a time crunch this week so, sorry folks, no extra posts from me.  Though definitely check hers out because they’ll probably be a lot more interesting.

busy

Today’s question is in two parts: “What was the best thing about your youth?  What was the worst?”

I don’t want to go into too much detail about this because a lot of it is kind of hard to explain.  But the best thing about my youth in my mind was the environment in which I was raised.  Despite my parents being religious, one of their most deeply held beliefs is that it’s not your religion that matters, only whether or not you’re a good person.  I was raised with that belief at the very core of my morality, and my parents only associated with people who they considered good people.  Didn’t matter your race, religion, or sexual orientation, your political orientation or income level.  Everyone was held to the same standard.  Do you treat people with respect?  Do you give new people in your life the benefit of the doubt?  Do you stand up for the people you care about?  These are the things that matter in friendship and life in general, and if you can live by them then everything else just makes you interesting.  Gives you a different perspective from us that we want to learn from.

This is how I was raised, and it’s how I live to this day.  It made me the person I am now, and I’m grateful for having been surrounded by so many various types of peoples growing up with so many varying points of view.

The worst part about growing up was that I got picked on.  A lot.  I was the skinny nerdy looking kid who was good in school and the teachers loved.  I had the thick glasses and used the big words and everything.  If I had had a pocket protector I would have been a walking sitcom character.  The fact that I also suffered from depression and issues with anger, not only was I an easy target, but one they found particularly entertaining to pick on.  Over the summer between junior high and high school I gained nearly a foot in height and finally inherited my dad’s miraculous ability to grow and maintain muscle with little to no effort on my part, and the taunts stopped after that for some totally inexplicable reason.

Who'd have ever guessed when you become attractive and strong enough to beat people up that they'd stop picking on you...

Who’d have ever guessed when you become strong enough to beat people up that they’d stop picking on you…

But before then?  For years I was the loser that was picked on so much other kids didn’t even like to be around in case they started getting picked on for associating with me.  I grew angrier and more depressed, developed trust issues and kept things bottled up until I would explode like a land mine you didn’t know was there until you stepped on it and lost a leg by no fault of your own.  The fact that this conflicted so much with my morality, that people in general deserve respect, created a severe conflict in my brain that left me with major issues with guilt that I still struggle with to this day.

I don’t look back on my youth fondly.  I’m glad to have grown up with the morals that I did, and getting to experience as wide a variety of places to live and surrounded by so many different lifestyles and cultures, but there was a lot of negatives.  My family wasn’t terribly supportive of emotional issues, and they expected me to live up to the legacy of the family which on both sides is full of doctorates, entrepreneurs, high ranking public servants of the saving lives varieties (firemen, federal police, military).  Friends of family added to the high expectations, most being successful and highly educated.  All of them had to struggle and fight the odds to get to where they were, so when I encountered issues they were always to simply be overcome on my own.  Suicidal depression at the age of 8 was just to be kept to myself and pushed past because my life was good so I couldn’t possibly understand what it meant to have problems, and there was nothing that I couldn’t deal with on my own because they had it tougher.  And yeah, they did.

I would never argue that my life wasn’t privileged.  But when an 8 year old is contemplating suicide there is clearly something wrong that I needed help with and no one would help me.  I had to push through it on my own. I started to get picked on while I was already bottling up severe emotional issues and I was already feeling that isolated and frustrated.  I wanted to hurt them.  I wanted so badly to beat them to a pulp.  And despite how I looked, I could have.  But I never did, because it went against my moral code.  As my mother told me ‘never throw the first punch, but if someone hits you, hit them back harder.’  (My dad believes violence should only occur if there are zero alternatives, my mom believes you get what you give, even if that’s a punch to the face.) But no one ever hit me, so I never got to hit them back (The one time I did shove a kid it was because he sat his ass on my desk and refused to move while I was trying to get ready for class.  All I did was shove him off my desk.  Probably a little harder than I should have, but he didn’t get hurt.)  That’s probably for the best, I’m sure I would have regretted it if I had.  Especially since I’ve spent most of my life since then attempting to be in control of my anger to specifically avoid escalating fights so no one gets physically or emotionally hurt.

Anyway, my childhood was a long time ago and a really long story.  It’s not something I’m particularly fond of talking about.  I wasn’t a great person when I was younger, and in some ways my circumstances made it worse, in others they made it better.  So overall, I am who I am now because of it, and despite all of my many, many issues, I don’t hate who I am, so, net positive?  Yeah, let’s go with that.

Yeah sureFeel free to tell your own stories, I’d love to hear them and QA is a judgement free zone!  But even if you’re not open to sharing give The Llama’s answer a read!

The Host Review: Uncomforted (Ch 5)

I swear to god somehow these chapters are getting progressively worse while also having less and less actually happen.  This chapter is Wanderer talking to her comforter, Kathy.  That’s it.  We aren’t even treated to the drive over, or nervous waiting in the reception area, she’s already there and they’re already talking, and it ends without her leaving, so this entire chapter is even more exposition.  Months have passed in the book’s time frame, and rather than getting even the most basic snippets of her daily life by the fifth. Fucking. Chapter. We get more goddamn exposition ‘dialogue’.  SHOW, DON’T TELL.

Yes, of course I want more exposition, please do go on.

Yes, of course I want more exposition, please do go on.

MOST of the chapter is exposition about what she’s been doing for the last few months that Meyer skipped over.  So instead of having a chapter that spanned those few months, saying what job she took on, actually meeting her boss she talks about fondly in this chapter, actually experiencing some of the spite between Melanie and Wanderer and how it’s affected her enough to get her so bothered by its progression that she would be so beaten down by this point… Nope, we just get the one occurrence that was the last chapter, and then everything else is throwaway dialogue.

This is a problem.  This is a problem because I already explained that I don’t like these characters.  I already think Wanderer is weak, pathetic, mean-spirited, and not at all special like all the other characters keep telling us she is but without any kind of buildup leading to her break down, without a better picture of who she is when she isn’t being hypersensitive all we have to go on is what we’ve seen, and all we’ve seen is how hypersensitive she is.  She looks like she can’t handle a dream that to us does not seem scary or depressing.  In fact it was useful to her as she got important information and all she has to do is occasionally tolerate a mean voice in her head that tells her she sucks.  So, you know, what most people go through as teenagers.

Which brings me to another problem with this book; if ‘strong emotions’ and ‘rebellion’ are enough to cause Wanderer issues, and they’re constantly assuring us she’s the strongest of all the parasites, how the fuck did they ever infect any teenagers?  And I’m not just being snarky there, that’s a serious question.  Hormones are at an all-time high and the point you’re at in the brain’s development is what causes all the emo crap and hyper rebellion.  The whole Romeo and Juliet ‘I’ll die for you, love of my life I only met last week!’ powerful emotions are not just teens being stupid and inexperienced, they actually, genuinely feel that strongly.  If strong emotions are enough to cause so much problem, teenagers are the cure to this parasite.

They'll do

They’ll do

This chapter got me so riled up I managed to go four paragraphs without actually talking about this chapter…  So the chapter starts with Wanderer literally half in the Comforter’s office.  She’s coming off as incredibly immature for one of the longest lived of the alien parasites by not wanting to talk to the Comforter because she thinks it makes her weak.  Since every ‘soul’ is assigned a Comforter, she’s basically saying every other member of her species is weaker than she is, and that she’s pathetic for having to stoop to their level.  Remember; this species is all loving and peaceful, but apparently egotistical and judgemental is A-Okay!

Thumbs up

We’re still only on line two of this chapter.  This is gonna be a long one so settle in…

She talks again about how it’s getting easier to read facial expressions and I’m reminded of previous rants about bears and spiders and bats that I won’t go into again, and other rants about how if she has all the memories of a human adult it should all be as natural to her as English.  I won’t rehash it again, just reminding you of it because Meyer feels the need to bash this information into every chapter because clearly we need constant reminders of how alien humans are to Wanderer even after having months to acclimate.

She describes a smile as:

She smiled, just a tiny movement at the corners of her mouth.

And just, no.  It’s not a ‘tiny movement’.  It’s a fairly significant one, and a more drastic change in facial features than is even possible for a bear, bat, spider, flower, or weed with no fucking mouth at all so shut the fuck up you horrible goddamn character.

Yup

Yup

Do you see what I mean about how she doesn’t come off as experienced?  If Wanderer were a new ‘soul’, maybe I would let all this stuff slide, hey, it’s a drastic difference from just the see weed right?  But after 8 other planets and 8 other species, she should be used to things changing by now.  Everything would be so drastically different from one of those races to the next that when things are drastically different again these things should not seem so strange to her.  They should not take as much adjustment as they seem to.

Anyway, the reason she’s even mentioning the facial expressions again is so Wanderer can point out that the smile isn’t just ‘I am a welcoming host’, it’s amusement at Wanderer being stupid.  Well, she says:

I could see that the Comforter found my reluctance a bit amusing.

Which is basically the same thing.  At least in Wanderer’s mind anyway, because she’s full of self-doubt and anger at having to even be here in the first place she thinks the whole world is mocking her for it rather than just accepting that therapy is a natural part of their existence as a species since they have to deal with a variety of new things every time they switch to a different body let alone a different species.  Each different body would come with a whole new set of memories and experiences and challenges.

It’s not like buying a new car.  You’re gaining or losing whole senses and decades worth of memories and experiences.  In some cases, the worry of being caught (though it’s implied in this chapter that Wanderer has never been anywhere before it’s been fully taken over. Further adding to my ever growing pile of evidence that Wanderer isn’t special, she’s just gotten lucky and never actually had to face any hardship before, so the fairly modest struggle of having to deal with anything that didn’t go perfect for the first time is too much for her, which seems to be the alien parasite version of ‘first world problems’) would be potentially traumatizing.  Needing a therapist is not admission of failure or weakness.  Needing a therapy session for every little thing that goes wrong would be a bit much, but getting some advice to help you adjust to the new emotions?  Perfectly acceptable.  Getting some help when the voices in your head won’t stop telling you they hate you to the point where you’re having nightmares and breaking down into tears?  I don’t think anyone in their right mind would ever see that as a bad thing.

Therapy

Therapy

Staying home hoping the voices go away

Staying home hoping the voices go away

How are we not even past the first page yet?  I’m going to try and not rant about every line, I swear… it’s just so very difficult not to.

She describes the room in such a way that I have absolutely no idea what the hell the room looks like but I feel like I’m supposed to.

With a quiet sigh of resignation, I walked into the small brightly colored room and took my usual seat–the puffy red one, the one farthest from where she sat.

First of all, ‘usual’ seat, implies she’s been there a lot, but the rest of the chapter mentions her skipping appointments and having barely been there at all.  ‘Preferred’ would have been a better word choice.  But that’s a nitpick and there’s so many nits to pick I should have let it slide.  And since this is pre-written text I could have, but chose to subject you to it anyway.  Second of all, that’s literally the only description of the room we get.  Is this an office?  Is it just a room full of chairs?  Why is there multiple chairs in a small room designed for one on one therapy sessions?  Do the aliens have group therapy?  Wouldn’t that be better in a more open room?  Where the fuck are all the commas?

Flynn Rider doesn't know

There is a legitimate reason I took the time to point all that out.  I’m not just intentionally wasting your time.  It comes up later.

To avoid her gaze, I stared through the open windows at the clouds scuttling past the sun. The faint tang of ocean brine blew softly through the room.

If you’re confused as to why I’m pointing this part out, just read it out loud and keep in mind this is a first person narrative.  You do that while I move onto the next nitpick.

We find out Wanderer is a teacher of some kind and she uses her students as an excuse to avoid doing things she doesn’t want to do.  Which would make perfect sense and give depth to a character, if she were human.  As an alien parasite that’s supposed to be above all that and super strong and still ‘winning’ over her human host, trying her hardest to not give in to those pesky negative emotions that only humans feel, especially one with so much experience who’s been alive for, as we find out in this chapter as well, several centuries, she should be above that.  But, nope, it’s all her students fault she missed her last appointment, but hey, she left a note!  Meyer should stick to writing teenagers.

She was attractive for an older woman, as humans went.

‘As humans went’.  God.  Yes.  We get it.  She’s a fucking alien.  WE KNOW.  THIS IS THE FIFTH FUCKING CHAPTER MEYER.  WE. GET. IT.

Nobody cares

So much of her behaviour seems so childish to me.  She’s apologizing and acting all guilty like a 5 year old caught with their hand in the cookie jar, but also still being petulant about it as though she felt she deserved the fucking cookie.  This is not how centuries old adults act!  And no, you can’t excuse it as her not being used to the emotions, because, first of all, she was a fucking bear once.  A bear.  And second of all, she’s plugged into an adult human brain.  She has access to all the motor skills, all the language and the memory of all the context surrounding the language necessary to understand it, all the memories of all the context surrounding emotions and how to read other people, she’s not relearning these things.  It’s not like sticking a toddlers brain in an adult body and expecting them to just figure it out, she has a lifetime of memories to access and the only ones Melanie is keeping from her are the ones surrounding key facts that might get her loved ones caught, not important information on how to be human.  So no, she doesn’t get the ‘omg it’s so new’ excuse.  It’s been months, parasite.  Grow up.

I feel like I’m repeating myself now but I am progressing through the chapter at least, I’m on page three now.  Do I sound angry yet?  Because this shit gets worse.

“That’s all right. I understand. It’s difficult for you to come here. You wish so much that it wasn’t necessary. It’s never been necessary for you before. This frightens you.”

I stared down at the wooden floor. “Yes, Comforter.”

“I know I’ve asked you to call me Kathy.”

“Yes… Kathy.”

She feels guilt for feeling fear.  Her entire species has to seek the help of ‘Comforters’ from time to time.  Mental health is apparently not shamed in their species like it is in ours, since every single person is assigned a therapist at ‘birth’ (new host).  There should be no reason for her to feel guilt.  None.  This requires her to have taken pride in the fact that she’s never had to get help before.  But that would require her to think she’s better than everyone else who has had to seek help before.  Oh my god I am repeating myself.  Look, this stupid parasite claims she’s better than us, then continuously proves how pathetically not at all better than us she is.  It makes her not alien at all, and very hateable.  She’s the bitch at your work who looks smug for having never being late to work while you walk in 5 minutes passed 9 feeling like crap after your grandma died last week and your mom called you at 2 in the morning crying.

Joffrey Slap

But then she makes it worse by not even being willing to show the woman the courtesy of using her fucking name until forced to.  She does kind of excuse this rudeness by making it sound like it’s the fact that it’s a human name that’s so disagreeable to her, but that just raises a whole slew of other new/old questions.  They don’t seem to have actual names that stick with them from body to body.  They don’t have a native tongue.  They can’t communicate without a host body.  There is absolutely NO REASON WHAT SO EVER for her to think human names are so awful other than that she hates humans.  Which makes her a racist.  Specist?  Bigot.  Our main character everyone!

Not amused

She laughed lightly. “You are not at ease with human names yet, are you, Wanderer?”

“No. To be honest, it seems… like a surrender.”

Remember, it was perfectly normal for Kevin to keep his bat name.  It was perfectly normal for Kevin to have a bat name.  But with humans it makes them dirty surrender monkeys.  Because humans are the worst species ever.

What a fucking bitch.

I looked up to see her nod slowly. “Well, I can understand why you, especially, would feel that way.”

Really?  ‘Cuz I can’t.  Mind filling us in Kathy?  No?  You’re not gonna do that?  Well fuck.

Look.  I get it.  Melanie is being a pain in Wanderers ass and she feels like she has to stay strong to ‘win’ against her.  But how is that so much harder than the parasites whose lives were at risk?  How is ‘you, especially’ an appropriate phrase to use in this scenario?  I understand why she would be cranky.  I can even see a little depression and angst.  But to make it sound like she’s waging her own private war inside her head and that gives her a right to write off the entire human race as a bunch of violent pricks because the one whose body she fucking stole justifiably hates her is a bit much.

Oh right, that wasn’t there because Wanderer is actually doing anything special, it’s there because Meyer wants you to know she’s special without having to ever actually let you see why that’s true.  Because if she did want us to see it rather than just being able to make it true by having people say so, instead of getting the 6th (counting the prologue) straight chapter in a row of exposition, we’d have gotten to spend some time with Wanderer actually living her life instead of jump cutting to a fucking therapy session.

Dance of the fingers

Dance of the fingers

“Let’s talk about something easier for a moment,” Kathy suggested. “Do you continue to enjoy your Calling?”

“I do.” This was easier. “I’ve begun a new semester. I wondered if it would get tiresome, repeating the same material, but so far it doesn’t. Having new ears makes the stories new again.”

Really?  Really?  Oh you better believe I’m angry and spiteful enough to reread an entire fucking chapter just to find the line that makes this stupid.

With my last species’ language of thought, it would have been impossible to lie, even had we wanted to. However, anchored as we were, we told ourselves stories to alleviate the boredom. Storytelling was the most honored of all talents, for it benefited everyone.

Sometimes, fact mixed with fiction so thoroughly that, though no lies were told, it was hard to remember what was strictly true.

Chapter two.  We find out in this chapter that she was a see weed for centuries.  All see weeds talk to each other by a shared neural connection.  They cannot lie because whatever they think is immediately known by the entire species.  They tell the same stories over and over and over again to the point where they’ve told it so many times they don’t know what’s true anymore.  But a second semester as a college professor might get dull!

Oh god finally something I can gloss over.  Apparently Kathy and Wanderers boss are ‘partners’ (their host bodies were married and they just stuck together afterwards) and he talks about her.  Says she’s the most requested professor on the campus.  Whoop-di-shit.  Wanderer wants to know if they intend to live a second life on Earth or move on to another planet but isn’t willing to ask because it might mean she’ll have to answer another question she doesn’t like so she keeps her mouth shut.  Now I just wish there was a way to get this story narrated by someone else instead too.  Her boss’ name is Curt.  It’s irrelevant but it doesn’t make me angry, so, yay.

“I enjoy teaching,” I said instead. “It’s somewhat related to my Calling with the See Weeds, so that makes it easier than something unfamiliar. I’m indebted to Curt for requesting me.”

The Calling’s don’t make sense to me.  When they talked about them before it was with Kevin.  It seems to be just another word for ‘job’, but the word itself implies something they were ‘meant’ to do.  Meaning, each parasite would be born/hatched/excreted/whatever and they would take some kind of test and then all of their lives they would be guided by their assigned case workers (Healer, Seeker, Comforter, these aliens have a very convenient built in support system far as I can see) into the closest their new planet/species has to their ‘calling’.  But the way she describes it above, yeah, it’s just a job.  Also; how is it a ‘calling’ to tell stories in the species where all they can do is tell stories?

I knew this would come in handy again

I knew this would come in handy again

“They’re lucky to have you.” Kathy smiled warmly. “Do you know how rare it is for a Professor of History to have experienced even two planets in the curriculum? Yet you’ve lived a term on almost all of them. And the Origin, to boot! There isn’t a school on this planet that wouldn’t love to steal you away from us. Curt plots ways to keep you busy so you have no time to consider moving.”

Honorary Professor,” I corrected her.

What the fuck do you care about the distinguishing between ‘professor’ and ‘honorary professor’?  No, really, what?  What in the name of the almighty spaghetti monster in the sky do aliens care about our nomenclature?  They certainly don’t care about our definition of ‘calling’ or ‘soul’.  She’s not teaching physics, she’s teaching the history of all the planets she’s been living on.  She’s the expert.  She’s experienced the history she’s teaching first hand.  WHY DOES THE CLARIFICATION MATTER TO HER OR MORE IMPORTANTLY TO US?!

Alan Rickman Table Flip

There’s a certain rule all good authors should follow.  If it’s not important to the story, don’t include it.  If it doesn’t further the plot it should build character.  If it doesn’t help build the world the book is taking place in and it doesn’t serve the plot it’s just pointless fluff and no one gives a shit.

That last quote was also more reminding us how ‘oh so special!’ she is by repeating stuff we’ve heard in the prologue, the first chapter, the second chapter, and the third chapter.  The fourth chapter is the only one that did not remind us of how special she is for having been on so many planets.

I promise I’m trying to speed this along, we’re not even a third done this chapter yet…

Kathy smiled and then took a deep breath, her smile fading. “You haven’t been to see me in so long, I was wondering if your problems were resolving themselves. But then it occurred to me that perhaps the reason for your absence was that they were getting worse.”

I stared down at my hands and said nothing.

Fourth time she’s looked down/away to avoid talking about her problems.  Fourth page of the chapter.  These are the avoidance tactics you see from children.  By teaching about her experiences on other planets she’s cemented the knowledge that what they learn and experience on other planets stays with them, they just have to find new ways to word it in their new language.  So she’s lived eight life times, supposedly all longer than the average human life span, the most recent being whole centuries long, on eight different planets, as eight different species.  And yet she is still less mature than some human children.  I really hate this character.  I really, really do.

Anyway, she gives me a brief moment of hope that maybe the host body isn’t white so this story at least seems a little less racist (Seeker, the established bad guy, is still the only non-white character at this point) by talking about how her skin tone is rather dark, but she dashes the hope by the end of the chapter

My hands were light brown–a tan that never faded whether I spent time in the sun or not.

*insert fairly significant information here we’ll get back to in a moment*

And… this was my body. I was used to the feel of it. I liked the way the muscles moved over the bones, the bend of the joints and the pull of the tendons. I knew the reflection in the mirror. The sun-browned skin, the high, sharp bones of my face, the short silk cap of mahogany hair, the muddy green brown hazel of my eyes–this was me.

So her skin is brown no matter whether she’s been tanning or not, but don’t worry kids, she’s still white, she’s just perma-tanned.  No need to panic.  Also; ‘silk cap’ of hair?  Really?  And seriously, it is not your body.  You STOLE it.  It’s MELANIE’S body.  I don’t like her either but I like her a lot more than I like you and your whiny self righteousness.

Moving on.

Back to that significant middle bit.  Prepare for more long winded nerd rage.

Wanderer asks Kathy why she goes by Kathy instead of something more ‘alien’ (see: white interpretation of Native American).  She asks if it was to feel more ‘at one’ with her host body.  Kathy laughs like that would be a ridiculous reason to do that, which comes off as a little judgmental, but, hey, she’s laughing at Wanderer.  I support that.

“Heavens, no, Wanderer. Haven’t I told you this? Hmm. Maybe not, since it’s not my job to talk, but to listen. Most of the souls I speak with don’t need as much encouragement as you do.”

Just adding to the evidence that the race is pro-therapy, it’s just Wanderer that thinks she’s better than they are.

Kathy talks about how she was one of the first alien arrivals, that her and her husband Curt lived among the humans having dinner parties and inserting aliens into their brains while they were drunk.  This raises so many questions I know will never get answered like how the hell were they doing surgery in their home with multiple party guests without getting caught?  How did people never catch on?!  ‘Robert and Jane went to Kathy’s party last week and you know, they’ve been acting strange ever since.  A lot nicer than usual, but, also a little paranoid don’t you think?’  ‘And I don’t remember Robert having that scar on his neck, or either of them having shiny eyes.’  ‘Come to think of it, Kathy has shiny eyes too doesn’t she?’  ‘I asked her about that once.  She get kind of nervous.  Said it was some kind of cataract…’  ‘You know, I don’t think I’ll be going to Kathy’s next get together.’

Ever hear of the Uncanny Valley effect?  It’s where something (specifically robots, but the principle applies) is so close to perfect in mimicking human behaviour that people get the creeps from it, generally without being able to explain why.  Wanderer wanted to know what good instinct was.  It has its uses.

“Curt and I had to pretend to be our hosts for several years. Even after we’d settled the immediate area, you never knew when a human might be near. So Kathy just became who I was. Besides, the translation of my former name was fourteen words long and did not shorten prettily.” She grinned.

Note she says ‘former’ name, not ‘my normal name’ or ‘my soul name’, just her last one.  Still say Wanderer is just racist.

Racist

I’d had no idea that this soft, cozy woman had been a part of the front line. It took me a minute to process that. I stared at her, surprised and suddenly more respectful. I’d never taken Comforters very seriously–never had a need before now. They were for those who struggled, for the weak, and it shamed me to be here. Knowing Kathy’s history made me feel slightly less awkward with her. She understood strength.

NOPE.  I AM NOT CREATIVE ENOUGH TO COME UP WITH CURSE WORDS STRONG ENOUGH TO RESPOND TO THAT PARAGRAPH.

He is though

He is though

Ignoring the most rage inducing portions that I’ve actually already covered a couple of times in this excessively long review because this judgmental bitch wants to make damn sure you understand how much of a failure you are if you need to talk to someone when your life sucks, there’s other, slightly less rage inducing problems with that paragraph.  Like the fact that they’re a supposedly peaceful race trying to covertly intersperse themselves into the population.  Why would the fact that she’s ‘soft’ and ‘cozy’ be a shock?  How many times do I have to point out that this is supposedly not Wanderer’s first rodeo before Meyer stops writing her like a newb?  Who are you more likely to let your guard down around?  The friendly therapist who makes you feel at ease or the cold glarey seeker bitch from chapter three?

They were not going to fucking war.  They didn’t come down here with tanks and machine guns.  Why would what anyone looked like matter at all?  They just had to be smart.  …I figured out why Wanderer wasn’t on the front lines.

Amused

This question was more pointed, and Kathy grasped that at once. She shifted in her seat, pulling her legs up and folding them under her.

Remember earlier when I said I’d brought up the lack of clarity on what the room looked like for a better reason than just pointless nitpicking?  Yeah, me neither, that was like, 6 pages in Word ago…  Dear god I wish that was an exaggeration.  Anyway, this was why.  I hadn’t anticipated this going this long when I wrote that part.  When I first read the chapter and got to this part, I’d been picturing the room as an office.  I pictured Kathy sitting behind a desk in a big comfy office chair complete with arms.  So when I read that passage I imagined her lifting herself up off the chair, suspended in the air as she tucks her legs under her.  It was one of the few things in the chapter that amused me instead of making me angry so fuck it I’m pointing it out.  I still have no idea what the room actually looks like or what kind of chair anyone is sitting in.  It says further down that there’s an arm on Wanderers chair, so my image could be accurate!

“In so many millennia, the humans never did figure love out. How much is physical, how much in the mind? How much accident and how much fate? Why did perfect matches crumble and impossible couples thrive? I don’t know the answers any better than they did. Love simply is where it is. My host loved Curt’s host, and that love did not die when the ownership of the minds changed.”

I’m going to be completely honest and admit I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.  It implies that humans are strange for having not figured love out.  But then it implies that no one has figured love out.  So why say ‘the humans never…’ why not just say ‘no one has ever’?  The mind and body are linked.  Pain is technically all in your head too, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  How can a species that takes over the minds of others talk about the ‘fate’ of the love of the species whose bodies they’re stealing with a straight face?!  Perfect is boring, struggles offer opportunity for bonding and growing as people and as a couple.  These are not questions we don’t know the answers to.  ‘Love’ is not an alien concept.  It’s biology.  It’s sociology.  It’s psychology.  Sciences that we humans have already got a decent grasp on.  Is it complicated?  Your damn right it is.  But those are not the hard questions.

And yeah, no, not a big surprise the host bodies kept being attracted to one another.  It’s mostly physical cues that draw people together.  You’re more likely to be attracted to people with different immune systems than you so your offspring have a better chance of survival.  Your body knows this by the scent cues you don’t consciously pick up on.  You’re also more attracted to physical characteristics that seem desirable (which varies from person to person based on more variables than I’m willing to even consider listing here).  The fact that those cues would still be present, combined with familiarity, comfort, friendship, etc, Kathy and Curt are probably a wonderful couple who genuinely love and respect each other.

…Can we read their story instead?  No, seriously, they had to struggle with adapting to a new species they had no prior information about with no one around to help them but each other as they try and blend in among the humans.  Fighting for survival and the progress of their species, they struggle with moral quandaries of what to do to their kind coworkers they grow to respect but must inevitably bring into the collective, essentially killing them.  All the while this ‘couple’ who were together for convenience and support, find themselves confronted with emotions stronger than any they’d felt before, beyond the kinship their species knew.  Never knowing from one day to the next if they’d be discovered and hunted down like animals.

I might actually enjoy that book.  Wanderers biggest struggle is will Melanie call her a mean name again over the next jump cut.  Kathy and Curt’s story might actually have some tension to it.

Alright, fuck it, there’s still a whole half of the chapter left I’m skimming the rest of this shit.  I don’t care how angry it makes me.

Wanderer talks about how ‘strong’ Melanie is, how she ‘grieves’ for Jared (not her little brother who just got ratted out in the last chapter though.  No mention of him at all.  Apparently he’s not important.) Kathy tells her it’s okay to cry, Wanderer says it isn’t, Kathy says how no one would blame her for giving up and switching to a new body, Wanderer uses the suggestion to get Melanie twisted into a knot.  This is actually a pretty significant conversation basically discussing whether or not suicide is socially acceptable if life is shitty enough.  Wanderer already thinks you’re pathetic for needing to talk to people, where do you think she stands on suicide?  Melanie says to just do it, to make her death official, Wanderer mocks her for feeling fear as she says that.  Because facing death while feeling fear of it even though you know for a fact your only other option is to watch an alien steal your face while you sit helpless to so much as wiggle a pinky to stop her, is totally cowardly and ridiculous and totally means she wouldn’t have the guts to toss herself down an elevator shaft again right?

There’s so much subtext there I could rant for another 10 pages but I’m pretty sure I wasted my rage on the first 4 pages of this book and burnt out by the time I got to this point.  Plus I think this review has already overstayed its welcome and I hear this isn’t as bad as the next couple of chapters get, so I call it quits.  Maybe the Llama talked more about that last stretch, give her review a read.

Overall, I hate Wanderer more than I have ever hated the main character of any other book I have ever read, I still hate Melanie, Kathy and Curt seem to be pretty decent for body snatching aliens.  Someone who understands science and psychology write their story and pass it along.

Until next time!

PS: A message to Wanderer from me:

Go Fuck Yourself with a cactus