More Letters to Cherie

It makes me angry, now, to watch Battlestar Galactica. One of the main characters, President Laura Roslin, has cancer, and it hurts me and makes me angry all at once, that she looks nothing like a cancer patient. Oh, they give her a skincap once in awhile to show her bald, and her wig is sufficiently un-shiny to look like a wig rather than natural hair, but other than that, she just looks tired all the time. Like, mother-of-three-children tired, not fighting-for-her-life tired. They tried a little harder with a cameo role of a character that died of cancer--but they but such odd, harsh makeup on her that she just looked dirty, like she'd been playing in mudpies. She was still fleshy, whole, untouched by disease--just dirty.

It makes me think of your graveside service, when I see Laura Roslin. It reminds me that standing next to your coffin was probably the hardest thing I have had to do in my entire life. I thought it would be difficult, beforehand--I had no idea.

It was all I could do, hanging physically on to Jayne for dear life and biting my lip, to keep from screaming and throwing myself forward. If it had been an open-casket service, I don't think I would have made it.

I kept looking at that coffin and picturing your disease-wasted body lying there. And I think it was painful on two levels. I wanted to throw myself onto your body, to touch your body one last time, to see your golden eyelashes and your freckles--it was some deep visceral need that I didn't anticipate or understand. And on another level, I couldn't stand to even imagine your wasted body there, so unlike the body I used to know, before it was twisted by cancer and treatments and prescription drugs. I know in either case, I know, that that body is not you, was never you, even before that disease captured you. I know that your "you-ness," your soul, is long gone and destined for a better locale. But that didn't make it any easier.

The last time I saw you, barely able to lift your legs onto the recliner footrest, your legs were mostly bone, kneecaps knobily protruding from what had once been vibrant, muscular legs, capable of back-handsprings and running after two energetic kids. Your arms were so thin that it's painful to even think of it, and your face was swollen from the steroids--you wryly compared it to a chipmunk's. You made us all laugh at your comments about your complete lack of any butt, the fact that you could still somehow gain weight in your face and your stomach. But in the end, it was so hard to see you look so alien, to wonder where that body I had known had gone. To see my strong, vibrant friend so frail.

So I see these characters on TV shows, in movies--they all have cancer now. It seems everwhere I turn, there's a plot where someone dies. I'm sure everyone feels this way when they lose someone. But still, it makes me so angry. I want them to take the President Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galatica, and make her face look pinched and drawn--or swollen by drugs. I want to see her arms look thin and wasted, her legs look so frail as to nearly be incabable of supporting her body. It makes me resent her, that her acting expects me, the audience, to be sympathetic toward her plight, to fear for her health and feel sorrow for her pain. I simply don't believe it. She doesn't look sick, or exhausted. She doesn't have cancer, and I know it. My suspension of disbelief is no longer willing.

I cry a lot more now, at anything. Part of it is that every plot line is related to death, or cancer, often both. Part of it is that emotion seems always to be bubbling just beneath the surface--good ones, bad ones, all kinds. Except for those days when I'm too numb to feel anything. On those days, I wonder if I'm dispassionate, or happy you're no longer in pain, or too busy to feel anything, or forgetting you, or if I'm simply over your death. But I'm not--it's just another wave of numb, to be followed by another wave of sorrow. In and out, the tides flow.

I feel like no one who's not in this sorrow with me can understand. I need to talk about you, think about you, look at your pictures and--even more so--your handwriting. When I look at your handwriting, you seem so alive. Perhaps everyone feels this way, or perhaps it's just that in high school and college, we wrote so much together--stories, yes, but also notes in class and goofing around. We didn't write notes and then hand them to each other, we wrote entire conversations, sometimes talking at the same time, sometimes simply silently communicating through words. Your handwriting is, to me, like your voice--therefore reading it isn't like watching some static photograph of you. It is you, almost audibly speaking to me, in the present.
Your photo is on my bedside table, on my desk at work, and I've been carrying your senior picture with me in my backpack for weeks. I feel like anyone who doesn't understand will see it as some bizarre shrine, some evidence that I don't believe you're in Heaven, or that I'm obsessed. I think it's just my way of reaching out for your presence, not to hold you on earth, but to know that my (I keep using the word "vibrant," what's another word for this, for you?) hilarious creative friend is still alive. Not here on earth, but alive in a far more real way.

Everything I just wrote was about my own selfish sorrow--I certainly feel a lot of that, but it's tempered by my knowledge that for you, this is better. You are happier, you are without pain, you are waiting for us. But I also hurt far more for your family, particuarly for your mom and your sister. I cannot fathom what they must feel, knowing that their sorrow must be so much deeper than my own. It makes me unspeakably sad, and it strengthens my resolve in the promise I made you. And I pray for them, oh I haven't prayed this much in years. When I hurt for them, I pray.

And I remember what you told Mom, at Sasha's funeral, that it wasn't sad, that this was just the beginning for her. That it wasn't a waste of her young life, but that she got to go on to the real life that much sooner. And I know you were right, that you are right. Sometimes I can nearly see your wry smile as you shake your head about all the fuss we're making. But it's so amazingly hard, being left behind. I cannot believe it, it amazes me constantly how hard it is. I didn't see you every week, every day. I lived far away, I hadn't lived in the same room as you for twelve years. And still, it is this hard.

I've been talking a lot with a friend at work, who lost her younger brother in a car accident three months ago. I cannot believe, at times, that she is able to keep going. She didn't get a last chance to say goodbye like I did, she had no idea that this was coming, that he would be lost in an instant in a car crash. I know it's incredibly difficult for her, every single day--and I'm thankful that she talks to me about it, that we each have someone who understands a bit of this experience.

I started reading "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion, about the year after her husband suddenly died of a heart attack. I'd been wanting to read it for over a year--and now it's exactly what I wanted. I would have thought the last thing I'd want is to read a book about grief--but that's what I want, to hear someone else say "this is how it is" and "this is okay" and "you might later expect this." It makes me cling to Alex like he's a life preserver, or like he might suddenly vanish. It makes me almost want to have kids and screw that I'm not ready for that or wanting them at this moment--but just in case, just in case. To quote "The Time Traveler's Wife," when Claire talks about wanting a child with her husband, Henry:

"...I wanted Henry to be in this child, so that when he was gone he wouldn’t be entirely gone, there would be a bit of him with me…insurance, in case of fire, flood, act of God."

I know it's irrational, and we'll wait for kids at the right time, if and when it comes. And I know that ultimately Alex's safety--and mine, and everyone else's--is up to God. But right now I feel like I'm clutching desperately at everyone, to keep them close.

And in the end, if that makes me reach out to my friends more often, treasure each moment with them more dearly, then I think that would make you happy. So I'll wipe my eyes--yet again--and I'll do just that.


Weekend-ish Weekend

Well Saturday was all-out weekend-y, but since Sunday I had to write a conference paper, I'll just call it weekend-ish as a whole.

Friday night, we saw Iron Man, which was just about as fantastic as the trailer made it look, which made me extremely happy--but also frustrated, since I immediately wanted to see it again, and it no doubt won't see a blu-ray release until Christmas. Arg! But dude--yeah, I so called that Robert Downey Jr. was genius casting. Favreau, I thought if anyone could do it, you could--and you not only did it, you threw yourself in there as the chauffer. And had more than one line! I'm impressed.

Of course, we all know what movie is coming out this weekend, the thing of speculation for years, anticipated for nearly two decades--Indiana Jones. I've been heartened by the trailers--but worried that the whole "alien" plot thing isn't in the trailers at all. Yeah, that worries me. And the early buzz... I try to ignore it, but I guess time will tell. I hope to actually see it this week/weekend, despite the fact that we just saw Iron Man and have yet to see Speed Racer or Prince Caspian. But dude--it's Indy.

In other news, one of my fellow geek-brarians let me know of this extreme awesomeness: Joss Whedon is almost done shooting a 40-minute musical about supervillians that stars NPH (Neil Patrick Harris, for those of you not on the down-low) and Nathan Fillion (of Firefly, for those of you not--well, let's face it, for those sad, sad people who haven't seen Firefly yet). It's called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Ahem: did you hear me? Whedon. NPH. Fillion. Musical. Supervillians.

Ah-ha, I thought I'd hear your scream of extreme awesomeness. Yes, indeed--and it's supposed to be released online first, later to DVD (and I can cross my fingers for blue-ray).

Erm, yeah, back to my weekend... Anywho, Saturday we met with our architect (yay!), had lunch at Freebirds (yay!), went to the Frisco mall and bought some clothes (I guess I'll just stop saying "yay" now before it gets old), had yummy tasty food at Cheesecake Factory, had a nap, I wrote in my novel (finally! returning to creative writing summers), and then watched some more of the new American Gladiators show--yeah, that's what I said. Cheesy guilty pleasure, indeed, with a little nostalgia thrown in.

Sunday, I had to work on a paper for IFLA (which is kind of a "yay" but also a groan for actually doing the work), but we did FINALLY break out the Mario Kart Wii. Dude--the wheel is a vast improvement, particularly for the kind of gamers, like me, who always threw their traditional controllers around anyway. I actually don't completely suck at this game--in fact, I got first place in most of the races I tried yesterday, which is pretty crazy stuff. I was so bad at Mario Kart DoubleDash for the GameCube that after the first week, I never drove my own cart, but was always Alex's partner in charge of throwing stuff at the other carts. I'm glad that the peripheral for the game is intuitive enough that I can finally drive my own cart. And the retro tracks are pretty fun--one of them is completely boring, but most are great, and I just love the idea in general. Next task: type in Bryce's Wii and Mario Kart numbers, so we can meet for online battles--woohoo!

We watched Enchanted in the evening, and it was truly awesome. I'm sure as a normal romantic comedy it was so-so, but for a Disney freak, it was awwwwesome, catching all the little references and watching Amy Adams do an amazing job of actually moving like a Disney princess in real life (which boggles my mind). And James Marsden was hilarious. And better yet was watching the credits and seeing James Baxter, my favorite animator of all time because he animated Belle, listed as animation supervisor. Dude!!! Go, Baxter! And who did he supervise? None other than Andres Deja (who animated Gaston). (I think Glen Keane, who animated the Beast, is busy working on Rapunzel, which I am so so excited about.) AND the great Alan Menken was responsible for score and song, which of course explains why both were awesome and hilarious.

I'm wearing the black-funeral-jeans again today--I keep wearing them and washing them and wearing them. Somehow it just comforts me to wear them, although I would have expected that I'd never want to wear clothes I bought for a funeral again. I think it's at least in part because it was Cherie's idea to get them in the first place, and having them on makes me think of her, in good ways. I've got still more memory notes, like my last two posts, but other than writing them down on a pad of paper, I haven't wanted to type them out and see them again. I think I'll get on that later this week, though. I don't know if it's important to anyone else that I put them up, but it makes them seem more real to me, if they're on the blog. And I know I'll read the blog again, whereas I'll probably lose the paper notes at some point.

Thinking of Cherie makes me think of missions, which reminds me: if you'd like to help with the crisis in Myanmar or in China, World Vision offers a great way to do that. They'll accept online donations of any amount, but if you specifically give $100 to either cause, you'll be providing one family with a survival kit including emergency food, drinkable water, blankets, temporary shelter, and a cookset/utensils. You can donate to Myanmar, to China, or both, or you can still sponsor a child for $30 a month. My family's supported World Vision as long as I can remember, and I've always been impressed by their organization.

And upon returning to my office with my lunch, I also brought back Jellaby by Kean Soo, which I'd read part of online and loved, but didn't realize was now in print. He's got short stories related to this book in the Flight volumes (which I also highly recommend). Jellaby is strongly reminscent of Calvin and Hobbes--only with a dragon and girl instead of a tiger and boy, and it's mostly drawn in purple--which is to say it is AWESOME. It's more of the "quiet style" Calvin and Hobbes strips, as I think of them, with a little manga-style background panels thrown in. I love it very, very much and if you like dragons or cuteness or small children with big imaginations, then you must buy this book.

That's a lot of news for one day, so I'll leave you with that.


More Memories

I keep having these memory flashes, and I want to get them down for keeps.

Cherie & Me (closeup)

Saturday mornings after staying overnight at Cherie's house: frozen Red Baron pepperoni pizza, brownies we made that morning, and Dr. Pepper. I have no idea how we survived so many years on that diet, but that was the tradition. Then we'd plop down in front of the TV with something like "Hunt for Red October" that was almost impossible to see, because the movie was so dark, and because the sunshine glared through the back living room windows in the morning.

The music of our youth:
  • Waking Up the Neighbours by Bryan Adams (this has been in my dashboard player for months now, retro-rockin' out)
  • Top Gun soundtrack (dude: you know you love The Danger Zone)
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack (Cherie's favorite movie at the time)
  • Three Musketeers soundtrack
  • Footloose soundtrack
  • Shout soundtrack
  • Amy Grant's Heart in Motion
It was because of Cherie saying how Christian Slater's line in Robin Hood POT was the only time she'd ever found the F-word funny, that I discovered both that word and what it meant. Um, not that I lent on that I had been clueless. Heh.

Cherie had a photo of a cop pointing a gun at the camera--the barrel was the only part in-focus. She absolutely loved that--at the time, she and Beth wanted to be FBI agents.

It's funny that, although I was a really vain and sensitive kid, I loved hanging out with Cherie. She was so frank--she told you exactly how it was. But when she said an outfit looked ridiculous or I was being silly, it didn't hurt like it would have with others--I valued her words because they were spoken in absolute honesty, without malice. And when she said you looked great, or--even mor importantly--that the story you wrote was incredible--you knew it was absolutely true, that there was no bias in it. Her honest opinion was a gift.

I find it hilarious and ironic that one of my favorite photos of Cherie is her cheerleading portrait. The non-conformist, non-girly, sarcastic pal of mine was a cheerleader for exactly one year. Yep, it baffled me, too.

The next-to-last time I saw Cherie, she was up in Dallas visiting her sister. She, her sister, her mom, my mom, and I all went out to Chili's and had a great gabfest--and wow, was it. I think we are about five of the talk-i-est gals I know. We left Chili's and were going to say goodbye, but ended up gabbing a long time on the steps, Cherie regaling us with her hilarious take on what the cancer and drugs were doing to her body. She made us scream with laughter as she showed off the absolute lack of a butt, and as she described how square the steroid had made her face. Although her body was distorted to the point where it made me sad to see how different she looked, she was completely herself with her dry sense of humor. After six years of hell with that disease and its nearly-as-bad cure, she had an immensely upbeat attitude.

We used to write together a lot--sometimes trading off paragraphs or sentences in short stories. We wanted to write a novel that way together called "It Was a Dark and Stormy Knight." I think we only got one or two chapters written. My favorite thing we wrote together was a story-poem (our term) called "The Tree Way Up in the Sky All Alone and Bill the Canary." It is awesome.

I am immensely sad that the only person I ever planned on writing collaboratively with is gone.

We both loved fairy tales, and my bookcases (well, okay now my many many boxes of books in storage) are filled with the fruits of our long weekends spent at used book stores. Many fairy tale rewrites, original volumes of them, reference works about them. Our favorite bookstore, which is now closed, was in San Antonio near the Shepherd's Shoppe, and was about the size of a closet with bookcases nearly to the ceiling. We thought it was about the coolest place on earth (but then, I hadn't seen Recycled Books in Denton yet). I think we must have spent half our weekends there.

The other passion we shared was movies--to be honest, Cherie got me far more into movies. My husband has her to thank for that, and for getting me even more into Star Wars than I was. (Sidebar: it's odd now that my interest in Star Wars is due to three women: my mom, Jayne, and Cherie. I didn't realize how odd that was until I got to college. And became popular with boys. Er, geeky boys.) I did not know how Boba Fett was until Cherie told me--I didn't pay attention to the names of secondary characters until college, for some reason.

We spent almost as many weekends at the theater as we did at bookstores. I remember watching so many of the movies of the '90s with her, good and bad... The Bodyguard (heh), French Kiss, While You Were Sleeping, Only You, Crimson Tide, Circle of Friends, Batman Forever (slight cringe), Batman and Robin (shudder), Johnny Neumonic (shudder), Waterworld (biggest shudder ever)... Cherie saved the poster images from the newspaper ads and had them pinned to a bulletin board in her room. The one I always remember looking at was the one for Beauty and the Beast, because it was my favorite movie and it was an awesome silhouetted image.

While sitting under the steps at Bracken Christian School (it was an awesome hideout after school), we planned out an entire Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves-themed bedroom. I remember the bunkbeds were treehouses, and the carpet was green with a curving blue section for the river... I don't remember the rest.

Cherie is the only person I've known with naturally orange hair.

I kept thinking about that first time she was at my house, with the black and white outfit, and I couldn't remember what necklace she was wearing, just that it was special. This afternoon at the service, Rynae came in wearing Cherie's hourglass necklace, which she wore every waking moment in high school--and beyond. When she ran up to Carolyn today and said "this was my Mommy's necklace" and asked her what it was, it about broke my heart.

Had dinner with my parents, Jayne & Tony, and Martha & Brandon (with their kids Zachary and Lydia). We went out to Adobe Cafe, in honor of Cherie, and at first I couldn't decide what to eat. But then I remembered that not only had Cherie ordered tortilla soup at every Mexican restaurant I've ever eaten with her at, and she ate it last August when we went to Alamo Cafe, but she's also the person who got me to try it for the first time in high school. So that's what I had, and it was very very good.

Cherie & Rynae

I've uploaded some photos I took when visiting Cherie last August up on Flickr.

Hey Cherie:
Yep, I wore the outfit--fittingly enough purchased at your favorite place, Kohl's--and will wear it again at the second service tomorrow. I've found a Princess Leia shirt for Rynae--it's even pink--so yes, your princess-loving kid will finally get a shirt that encourages her geek side. It's even the exact graphic of the shirt I wore three weeks ago that you liked so much. And yeah, I remember that third promise--don't you worry. It's taken care of, and I've enlisted help. And stop rolling your eyes at me from up there--I know you think we're all putting up such a fuss. I hope you got a good chuckle out of me walking through Half Price Books like a loon with tears streaming down my face--yes, I honestly didn't realize how much every single book I looked at would remind me of you. And yes, now you know exactly how the Wheel of Time Series ends--I know you finangled it out of God or RJ himself.

But I'm going to miss not seeing your reaction to the last seasons of Stargate: SG-1, and to the new Indiana Jones movie, and so many other things. I'm wearing my half of that silly black ying-yang friendship ring we bought as our RJ rings, believe it or not. I wanted so bad to send this to your email address, as if somehow it would be forwarded, to cherie.tamar@heaven.org, or something. But I didn't want your family to read this and be sad, if they cleaned out your inbox--so I'll just post it here, teary-eyed, yet smiling to myself because I know you're definitely up there shaking your head and rolling your eyes, with your own awesome smile.

Can't wait to meet you again, girl. I love you.


Promises to Keep

Last night, my mom called to say that my good friend Cherie had finally escaped cancer. She passed away at noon yesterday.

Three Goofy Pals (1995)
L to R: Jayne, me, and Cherie in 1995, senior year

My emotions are kind of running a wild course at the moment, although I think I've cried harder for Cherie's family than anything else. It's particularly awful that Mother's Day is this weekend--both for Cherie's mom, and for the fact that she's leaving her six-year-old daughter and three-year-old son behind. Please, keep her whole family in your prayers.

But when my mom related the news, I was driving home from work, and instead of continuing on, I made a detour. I wasn't ready yet to face family--Alex wasn't home yet, but we're temporarily living with his parents, and loving sympathy wasn't something I was strong enough to face at the moment. I'm one of those prickly private types, especially in emotional moments.

So I drove south to Old Navy. It wasn't so much retail therapy, although it was partially a distraction--I went with a mission.

When Cherie and I were about fifteen or so, in high school, we made this pact. It was especially silly and dramatic, because that's the kid of gals we were (even more so back then, yeah). I think our favorite article of clothing at that point were our black jeans. Yeah... that was a bit of an unfortunate mid-1990's thing, and we bought it hard. I remember hanging around North Star Mall many, many weekends in those black jeans, feeling cool while probably looking like the biggest dork on the planet.

We had this theory, that if you paired a black turtleneck with black jeans, it would be the coolest outfit ever. However, in this completely irrational twist, we thought it breached some major kind of fashion faux pas, so we thought we could never actually wear this awesome outfit. (This flabbergasts me now--we prided ourselves of being non-conformists, and yet wouldn't wear something we thought was awesome? Chalk it up to the insanity of being a teenager, I guess.)

Hence the pact: whichever of us died first, no matter how old, the other would wear that outfit--black turtleneck and black jeans--to their funeral.

I have no idea if Cherie still remembered this. I've been thinking about it a lot, off and on, for that past six years that she's battled cancer. I've done a lot of praying that I'd be wearing that outfit--or she would--at the ripe of age of 103. I've thought a lot about buying the outfit, just in case, and thought that it was morbid, or superstitiously that it would bring about the end, or that it was a sensible move because it might be hard to find black jeans on short notice. In the end, I waited.

I got rid of my last black turtleneck a few years ago, and I don't think I've owned black jeans since 1997. In fact, to be honest I'm such a fashion low-lier that I had no idea if that was even an item you could find anymore, or if it had gone the way of ripped stone-wash jeans... er, but since the 1980's are back, maybe that's a bad example.

I hunted through Old Navy desperately, to no avail. They indeed had black jeans, but these are apparently--to my amazed discovery--a "winter" item. The ones left were all on sale, and in sizes 12+. Not quite a perfect fit.

I figured I'd look elsewhere, but I didn't see any other clothing stores nearby, and when I get upset like that I can't think, so I couldn't even remember where any other store was in McKinney at that point, to be honest. But I couldn't go home yet, I just needed to be alone in a crowd. Luckily, I managed to remember that there was a Half-Price Books close by.

I just went as a distraction, but it was the best thing I could have done. Yes, I found some books--but what I didn't count on was running into memories of Cherie at every turn. She was my reading and writing friend, my fellow fiction devotee, compelled not only to read it but to write crazy stories that ran away from us and turned into things we didn't expect.

I went to fantasy--well, there you are. Robert Jordan, the reason that we used to guide each other down the hall, while one was reading and walking simultaneously. (RJ passed away last year before finishing the last book--so I guess now he can tell her how it ends.) L. E. Modesitt, Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip. Star Wars books, that's a whole other story. Since my eyes started overflowing, I quickly went to check out the clearance aisle--Clive Cussler. That really did it--Sahara, the book she loaned to me that started my obsession with Dirk Pitt. I turned to the YA section... Madeleine L'Engle (who also died last year). The only place without memories in the whole store was the comics section.

It made me overwhelmingly sad, but also wonderfully happy, remembering. It was a fitting farewell, one that I wouldn't have thought of myself. I'm glad I was there.

Then I --slightly-- came to my senses and remembered that there was a Kohl's nearby. Off again to hunt for the funeral outfit.

I was in luck: they were clearing out their winter stock. It took me two hours of hunting in every form of women's department they had, but I finally located a pair of black jeans, a black turtleneck, and a black and white bracelet.

I was rushing past jewelry on my way to the absolute last area that might have black jeans, when I saw the bracelet out of the corner of my eye. It was chunky plastic black and white beads, and I had a sudden flash of the first time Cherie ever came over to my house, freshman year of high school, 1990. She was wearing black jeans (naturally!), a white shirt, black and white dangly dice earrings, and a plastic black-and-white bracelet. She was heavily in her "black and white phase" that year, as it's now referred to. I thought that she was the Pinnacle of Cool, devoting herself to a limited palate for the sake of fashion. My mom thought it was amusing, my dad thought it was unbelieveably ridiculous. Anytime I brought up Cherie's name, for years, he'd bring up the Black and White Phase with an amused expression, as I rolled my eyes.

So, yeah, naturally I got the bracelet. It will totally go with those rad black jeans and black turtleneck, I laugh to myself, and it will remind me of the girl I met eighteen years ago. As she was--vibrant, hilarious, frank, creative--and as she remained to the end, despite the cancer consuming her body.

So I'll be keeping that promise, silly as it is. And hot as it's destined to be, in Texas in May, in long sleeves and black. Because yes, it's silly--but that's the kid of gals we are. That's how I loved her, and that's how I'm seeing her off.

(And thanks for the line, Robert Frost.)


Yet Another "I'mToo Busy to Post" Excuse

...Yeah, as of 7pm Friday I should be done with school for the semester, leaving me to enjoy:
I actually don't have many comics on my "I am now free to enjoy" list, but that's primarily because I'm waiting for several of them to be released: Y the Last Man vol. 10, Fables vol. 10, Jack of Fables vol. 3... Not that I'm a Vertigo girl* or anything, but... yeah, I'm a Vertigo girl. So sue my little goth self, okay?

*As defined by many, but most memorably in the book "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl," which is awesome and hilarious and probably entirely too true.