Monday, February 27, 2012

I made you some delicious egg rolls. But then I ate them.

Last night was awesome. No, not because of the Oscars, although I did experience this strange phenomenon... every time Jean Dujardin was shown on screen, my panties fell down and I heard La Marseillaise playing from somewhere betwixt my nethers. That aside, last night was awesome because last night was EGG ROLL NIGHT.

Let me tell you about egg rolls. You have never had egg rolls as awesome as mine. But you will, one day. Because I'm going to show you how to do it.

You're gonna need:
A big onion
Either three big bell peppers or four medium sized ones, it's up to you.
Egg roll wrappers
Soy sauce
Wok oil
1/2 head Napa cabbage
Some cooked chicken cut into strips (totally optional, in fact, my egg rolls last night were vegetarian)

This is what you do:

Slice the onion, peppers, and cabbage into long, thin strips. Throw enough wok oil into a wok or a big frying pan so that stuff isn't just sticking and burning all over the place. Heat your oil over medium-high heat, then throw in the onions. Sweat the onions before you add the peppers. Then sweat the peppers. Then throw in the cabbage and saute until it's not rigid. Then throw on soy sauce to taste, saute a little longer. You don't want the veggies to be mushy, but you don't want them to be crunchy and uncooked. I mean, YOU might want them crunchy and uncooked, but these are MY awesome egg rolls, pal!

Where was I?

After you've got your pliable veggies all made pliable, toss them in the fridge to cool off for about thirty minutes. They cool off faster is you stir them. The veggies have to be cooled down, or else you're going to end up disintegrating your wrappers. When they're all cooled off, take the veggies out and get to work wrapping your egg rolls. If you don't know how to do this, here's a good tutorial. They recommend using a paste to seal them, honestly, I just use water because I'm hardcore.

The last step is the one I know nothing about. Frying the egg rolls. Now, if I'm making them by myself (as occasionally I do), I just spray them with olive oil spray and put them in the oven at 350 until they brown up a little. But if my husband is home, he fries them in oil on top of the stove. If you have a fry daddy, you could dump them in there, too. The point is, when you're done, no matter what method you use, you've got a fuckton of egg rolls. I serve some for dinner, and when our gullets are so stuffed we cannot move (even to retrieve our mysteriously, Frenchly dropped panties), we freeze them to snack on them for the next couple weeks. Take two out, microwave them, and they come out pretty darn amazing.

That's my egg rolls. They're not fancy, but they're very good. Much like me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I Am Not A Weirdo.

If you follow me on twitter (and if you don't, why don't you? You're missing out on important stuff, like my love/hate relationship with Glee and stuff my cousin breaks when she comes over), then you already probably know what this post is going to be about. UFOs.

Now, I know that I come off as an entirely sane and reasonable person, the very paragon of rationality, some might say. It's my curse. Lurking beneath this absolutely normal facade is a person who has serious doubts about the date of Elvis's death, whether or not the moon landing was real, and a firm belief in the Chupacabra. Not all people can come along on a ride that, even to me, appears to be a one-way trip through looney land. But what I don't get is the looming double standard that exists when you talk about these things to people.

As I mused last week, upon ye olde twitter, when you tell someone you believe in ghosts, they'll usually believe you. A lot of people will feel free to tell you about the ghost they saw, or some strange noises or creepy feelings they had in the house they grew up in. Occasionally, you'll have the random dick who's like, "Pfff, I don't believe in ghosts or anything supernatural and that makes me way smarter than you are." I have an intense dislike for those people.

Anyway, why is it that you can say you believe in ghosts all day long, but the second you're like, "I saw a UFO," people think you're one roll of tinfoil away from being that UFO guy on the bus with the briefcase covered in anti-government bumper stickers, handing out all kinds of crazy pamphlets? What an insane double standard! I'm just going to let you read the two following statements, and at the end, you tell me which one sounds more insane:

"Last night, around midnight, I got up to use the bathroom down the hall from my bedroom. When I opened my bedroom door, I saw a hazy, full-body apparition. It floated there for a moment and disappeared. I am certain that this was the disembodied soul or spirit energy of a person who died a very long time ago."

"Last night, around midnight, I was driving down a deserted country road. Suddenly, lights appeared in the sky. The object was not a plane, but clearly a vehicle of some kind. It floated there for a moment and disappeared. I am certain that this was a visit by living beings from a planet too far from our own for us to have any knowledge of, based on our limited technology."

Seriously, which one of those statements seems more likely to be true? That someone dead is somehow projecting their consciousness into the living world for no other clear purpose than to freak us out, or that there is a species out there in the vastness of our universe- that we have not yet begun to explore- that happens to breeze by every so often for some reason?

To be clear, I'm not saying it's stupid to believe in ghosts. I just think it's bizarre that more people seem comfortable with the idea of the dead still walking the Earth than the possibility of something unearthly visiting us.

When I twittered this question, one of my followers, Lyndsay, hypothesized that it's because as humans, we're uncomfortable with the idea of other beings in the universe. Not because we're afraid of them, necessarily, but because we're selfish and would prefer to believe that the universe literally revolves around us. We want to be the only heroes in the cosmic story, so to speak. The writer I mentor told me that she believes we're a science experiment, or that the aliens are just keeping tabs on us, waiting for us to reach some point in our development as a species before making first contact. I'm not sure that's not more of the same, "We're really important," belief getting caught up in the process of figuring out why aliens would visit us. I'm more of a mind that maybe aliens breeze by here on long trips to break the monotony, or because their ships can get fuel from our atmosphere, or because they're bored and have to take a leak. In all the universe, we are, at best, an alligator farm attraction on the side of a real long, deserted stretch of two-lane Georgia highway.

I believe in UFOs. In fact, I will go so far as to publicly admit that I've seen one. It was back in the 90's, either '94 or '95. I was in the car with my best friend and her parents, coming back from their family Christmas in Coldwater, MI. We were nearly home when we saw it, a low, impossibly bright light just above the trees. There wasn't a lot of snow on the ground, but there was a lot of fog in the air, so what we saw was a light basically as bright as looking directly into a halogen headlamp on a new car. The light seemed to skim along in a straight line, then suddenly disappear and reappear further back on its track. Years later, I think it must have been a literal "flying saucer" with a circular rotation, and the disappearance/reappearance of the light had to do with the ship making revolutions. It followed the road for about five minutes, then it was gone.

We were incredibly freaked out, even the adults in the car, who at first tried to assure us it was probably just a plane. They quickly gave that up, though, and all the talk in the vehicle immediately turned to aliens.

I can't imagine why our how aliens would find us important. I don't think they're going to come to us and bring us some amazing message of intergalactic peace. But I do know one thing: if a body can walk around saying they believe that dead people just randomly pop up all see-through and blue, then it's not such a stretch of the imagination, I think, to say that somewhere, far beyond the reach of our technology, whole civilizations are thriving and exploring space, much in the same way we're attempting to.

Also, Doctor Who is based on a true story, Big Foots are real and freely roaming British Columbia, and JFK was taken out by the KGB.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, Readers

I thought this Valentine's Day, you all could use some Cyrus. - Jen

Hatred of Valentine's Day isn't reserved solely for the living. I have hated St. Valentine since the fifteenth century. That's when all of this nonsense got started. Courtly love may have made it incredibly easy to lure women to their deaths, but it's almost too easy. There's no sport in it, especially when it's a church sanctioned holiday. Vampires think of Valentine's Day as amateur night.

This Valentine's Day would be different. I'd already promised myself that no matter how easy the pickings, I would not give in. I'd been following the Movement's stupid protocol, stubbornly and in total absence of any guidance, since my father's embarrassing failure to achieve Godly status. Since the Oracle destroyed Movement headquarters, the world has become... different, for vampires.

But I can't bring myself to hurt anyone. Not anymore.

So, rather than avoid the temptation of the easy kill on the night when humans are at their most vulnerable, I drove out to the desert. I made my journey in a rented cargo van, sleeping my days in the windowless rear compartment on a bed made of furniture pads and still-folded cardboard boxes. It took me a year to make the trip, the first time. I'd driven to the little desert town shortly after my second resurrection and my father's entirely justified death. At the time I'd been lost, mourning the death of yet another woman I'd thought I'd loved.

I'm proof, as much as anyone, that death doesn't always stick.

This time, the trip was not about licking my wounds. I'd gone to Nevada the first time to see Mouse's grave. Her body had been interred, along with the body of the poor priest and nun who'd perished in the terrible tragedy at St. Anne's. Police had determined that an unidentified assailant had violently raped, murdered, and mutilated all three victims before burning the church to the ground. I knew better, and so did Carrie, where ever she might be now. I'd visited their grave, in the churchyard at the diocesan seat, but I hadn't had the courage to drive out to the ruins. I'd gone to see Mouse, and found only a cold inscription carved into the stone: "The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; The Lord accepts my prayer." Fitting, as I'm sure there were all manner of pleas for mercy in those days that The Fangs used St. Anne's as their headquarters.

I hadn't felt Mouse's presence at her grave. I'd hoped, with every slow mile that had passed on my journey, that I would. When I'd been faced only with that unhelpful psalm and her terrible given name, Stacy Pickles, I'd known that she was well and truly gone.

Yet nothing could have stopped me from making the drive a second time. I had stopped for the day at a rest area, dreading nightfall and hoping for it all the same. Some self-destructive impulse had convinced me that at the site of her death, some presence would remain. I clung to that when I woke and climbed into the driver's seat, clutching a bag of donor blood as I pulled onto the crumbling desert highway once more.

I don't know what I was expecting to find. It had been nearly five years since our imprisonment in the basement rectory of St. Anne's Catholic Church. Yet I'd still imagined I would come upon a pile of still smoldering ruins in the desert. Far from it, I found a construction site, ringed by chain link, the hulking shapes of building machines visible against the desert twilight like some modern stone circle. The workers had left for the day, and a padlocked chain held the gate closed.

I'd brought flowers. It seemed natural. It was what one did when visiting a grave. Now, seeing the former site of St. Anne's parish littered with evidence of ordinary, human activities, the flowers seemed overblown. I left them on the passenger seat when I parked the van across the road.

No shock of memory touched me as my feet hit the road, though my mind had come to consider this place a holy site. The fear that my pilgrimage would end in the same bitter disappointment as my visit to her grave formed a hard knot beneath my ribs. My two hearts might both break, then, and I'd be just another lonely, angst-ridden vampire. The world seemed to like those, but I had no desire to be a part of the world.

Scaling the fence was easy enough, and I dropped to the other side, brushing off my knees. There was a prickly feeling to the place, though it might have been my imagination, fueled by the nightmares in my memory. I closed my eyes, trying to remember where the footprint of the church would have been. Not here, this was almost certainly where the tar-patched asphalt of the parking lot had lain. The ground was level, the basement filled in. That seemed impossible to me; a place I once was, a place that had significance, no longer existed. I'd experienced the feeling many times, but it had never seemed so poignant, so important as now.

I'd almost given up in my quest when, after stepping through the shadow of an enormous crane, I saw her. Blue and transparent against the night sky, she was exactly as I remembered. She stood with her back to me, drifting slightly in the breeze. Her feet didn't touch the ground; in fact, her feet weren't there at all, the apparition ending raggedly, just below her knees. She wore the thin cotton dress she'd worn all through our captivity together, and her hair stirred in the warm desert night.

I approached her cautiously, wondering if I should bother. Ghosts were funny things. Some, like Clarence, my former servant, clung tenaciously to their physical forms and their earthly life. Others existed only as a memory of themselves, and to startle them into consciousness of their death was a fearful thing for both parties. I didn't want to frighten her. I didn't want her to leave. But I had to make her see me.

It was foolish of me to think she wouldn't know I was there. The moment I put a hand out toward her, she felt me there, a fellow creature of the night, someone who had walked on both planes, as she did now. When she turned, her face was terrible, burned and mutilated by the violence of the fire and the teeth of the vampires who'd killed her. Then, before I could turn my eyes from the sight, she became herself again, and something like joy transformed her. She reached out, her form moving toward me, propelled only by her will and, perhaps, mine. But when she came close enough to me, she saw the bloody tears that streaked my face, and she stopped.

"It wasn't my choice." My chest ached with a grief I hadn't felt so intensely since the day she'd died. "I never would have chosen this life again."

She lifted her hand to touch my face, her eyes two sorrowful pools. Her hand passed through me, and the cold chilled me to my bones. In life, she had not been unusually beautiful, but death had transformed her into a creature of beauty, and of mercy. She forgave me. Though she did not speak, she forgave me.

Drifting away, she beckoned me to follow, and soon we stood, side by side, where I'd found her. She smiled and pointed into the distance, where one star shone brighter than all the others in the night sky.

"Is that what you were looking at?" I asked, and she nodded her reply, beaming. I'd seen so few smiles from her; I could only remember one, and that itself had been tinged with fear. Her mortal life had ended in violence, it seemed fitting now that she radiated only joy.

We stood together in silence, staring at that far off star. Perhaps the reason she didn't speak was because nothing we could say would matter. Though I ached to tell her I was sorry, that I wished I could have prevented her death, that in some small way, the love I'd had for her was real, fractured as it was. Maybe she already knew all of it, and didn't need to hear me say it aloud. But I was content, as she seemed to be, to stay beside her through the night, admiring that star that held some untold meaning to her.

It was near dawn when the star disappeared below the horizon, and with it, so faded Mouse's spirit. I could have begged her to stay, but it would have been unfair. Whatever form her existence had taken, I had no part in it. I left the construction site with more grief than I'd brought with me, but more solace, too. How many nights had I prayed, hating myself that I still held that faith, for death to be kinder to her than life had been? My prayer had been answered; now, there was nothing left for me in the desert.

The flowers still waited on the passenger seat, wilted and cheap-looking. Daisies, most of them, and carnations. I left them in front of the gates of the site, and drove away, the dawn on my heels.