Happy Birthday, Mary!

I can’t remember how old she is (last I recalled, she was a year younger than me, I think), nor can I remember the exact date of her birthday (hell, I can’t remember the exact date of MY birthday), but I do know it’s sometime this month, and she’s still alive and kicking, so happy birthday, Mary! Here’s to not dropping dead from sheer frustration.

The Origins Of Cynical Woman

I have a secret to confess. I am not the original Cynical Woman.

Are you shocked? Don’t be. Cynical Woman is a title I inherited/borrowed from a friend of mine way back when. Many, many, many moons ago, I was a young college student studying communications at Virginia Tech. I was also a cadet and an ROTC scholarship student, but those are miseries we’ll discuss in later entries. As I was saying, I was a young Hokie working hard on my degree and in desperate need of a social life. Being the geek/freak that I am, I joined VTSFC, the Virginia Tech Science Fiction Club, and proceeded to meet a wild assortment of characters, including a charming young woman named Joelle. I do not use the word charming lightly. Joelle originally haled from Atlanta, Georgia, and was as close to a Southern Belle as anyone I’ve ever met. She had style, grace, good manners and enough attitude to power all five computers currently running in this house, which is funny because computers and Joelle never really did get along.

So I met Joelle and we very quickly became good friends. She was working on her master’s degree in entomology, the study of bugs, and did cool things like make pets out of giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (while still maintaining that wonderful Southern Belle attitude). Unfortunately for Joelle, life was not always easy. I think she had more than her fair share of bumps trying to get through grad school. She was supporting herself and paying for all her courses, which often stretched her finances thin. She worked an assortment of jobs to make ends meet, and did them all very well, but usually only got paid crap for them. She rented a small room in an apartment that was quite frequently mistaken for a landfill. Her room was clean, but the rest of the place was a dump. And she had problems with friends who turned out to not be friends, thesis advisors who stabbed her in the back, etc., etc., etc. I won’t go into too many details because a lot of it is quite personal and much of it is not pleasant, but I will say that Joelle survived in spite of all the garbage that was dumped on her by her graduate department, minimum wage jobs, and assorted aggravating room mates and faux friends. In fact, she did quite well, although there was always something coming up to cause her trouble even after she graduated and moved on to bigger and better things.

Through much of this, I had the pleasure of being one of Joelle’s friends. I can remember several lunches, usually held as some fine but affordable dining establishment located somewhere in Blacksburg, where we’d sit and discuss our woes (I had my own problems with being a cadet and an ROTC scholarship student, but again, we’ll save that for later). What I remember best is that after detailing her latest crisis, Joelle always said the same thing. “You know Helen, just when I think things are going well and everything is wonderful, something really crappy happens, and then Cynical Woman raises her ugly head and says ‘I told you so!’”

And that’s where Cynical Woman came from. It wasn’t until a few years later that I myself started to use those same words. “And then Cynical Woman raises her ugly head…” By then, I was dealing with my own crappy minimum wage jobs, assorted aggravating room mates and faux friends and I so totally understood what Joelle meant. You think things are going okay and you start to feel happy and kind of nice and then life jumps up and bits you in the ass. Only the way Joelle said it sounded so much nicer. Cynical Woman. It just had a nice ring to it, so I adopted the title and developed the persona to go with it. And I have to admit, being Cynical Woman has served me pretty well these last few years, especially when my life has been at its worst. Anytime I’ve been hip deep in agony, I’ve always been surrounded by a bunch of Pollyannas who try to tell me that life is great, things are going to get better, God has a plan for me, etc., etc. Well I know better. Life isn’t always great. Many times it down right sucks, and I’d much rather be Cynical Woman and know that life is going to hand me crap than be all perky and obliviously happy and then get kicked in the teeth when things go bad. Some people think that’s a horrible attitude to have, but I say it’s realistic, and being realistic means I’m always prepared for when things go wrong.

So whatever happened to Joelle, you ask. Where is the original Cynical Woman now? She’s in Bangkok, Thailand, a place she went to pursue her dream job and live an exotic, adventurous life. Of course, they’ve just had a military coup over there and everything’s in a sort of uproar. As Cynical Woman would say, “It figures.”


Artwork from yesterday. More torsos. I’m getting better at it, I think.

Torso studies, 19 September 2006