tunes for tuesday

October 25, 2016

a few weeks ago, when erin called my attention to alyssa's back to blogging challenge, i was like, nah. i don't wanna play. this right here is probably the only post i'm going to contribute, and i'm doing it because i realized one of the prompts, upon further consideration, did kind of strike a chord: three (or however many you choose) songs that define your life and why.

while in high school, my younger brother was asked to write a paper about music and how it could soothe the savage beast. he wrote about how it helped me, and though i didn't particularly like being compared to a savage beast, there are far too many times the phrase has suited.

my father was a musician in high school and college. rockin' rick played the saxophone. he also played football. on friday nights he'd play four quarters, and then he'd march on that field during halftime in his pads and uniform. he was offered a full-ride scholarship to southern methodist university to study music, but he wanted to be with my mother, and she wanted to go to lamar university... they have hundreds and hundreds of albums. there was always music in my house as a child. i'd come home from school, and my mother'd be singing along to barbra streisand, jane olivor, johnny mathis, harry belafonte...

i can remember sitting at the kitchen table listening to olivor's songs while doing homework (probably because i'd not done an assignment and she was making me finish it to turn in for partial credit so i wouldn't fail a class). i remember sitting before a phonograph in their bedroom listening to belafonte sing the rose. she'd wanted me to hear his version. i was, and still am, partial to bette midler's, which is where we'll begin...

the rose. had to be bette midler's because i can sing. well. and i wanted to sing it as well as she. (because in the early days of my youth, before i learned of just how broken my body was... before my peers shattered my self-perception, i had confidence... i knew i was good, and i could.) i sang that one a LOT. on walks around my neighborhood, on the bus ride to school... during class, i was writing the lyrics. every day. i clung to those words, to the hope in them. they were a relentless prayer for me... when the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long, and you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong, just remember...

the wind beneath my wings. midler again. sue me. i love that woman's voice. it is, well... divine. i was always in the shadows. my parents', my brothers', my peers'. i never felt the sun on my face. i always walk a step behind, even now. i've heard my smile's amazing; it hides an astounding amount of pain. but my father... he's told me often of how i'm his hero. me. this man who's accomplished SO much in his life, has made such a name for himself, has established and nourished so many positive relationships with SO many people. he thinks the world of me. so i'd sing this one, too. i'd pray i could be this strong, that i could know i deserve his praise. this one, like the last, made me hope.

before you were born. toad the wet sprocket. off the fear album. this album i listened to often in the first year or two of its release. it's one of those few that i think are pretty damned solid, beginning to end. this song, though... its lyrics speak to me for several reasons. forty years ago or so, if a child was born with issues like those i had, doctors recommended that child be placed in an institution, which is exactly what was recommended to my parents. before you were born someone kicked in the door... there's no place for you here... stay back where you belong. my parents took me home. they found other doctors who did what they could to fix me... every time some issue surfaced, they'd find another... and another... so physically, i lived with reminders that i am flawed, like i'd been made of scraps. i'd go to school to face my peers... you are not wanted here... stay back where you belong... my self-image was obliterated by the time i'd entered high school. the only emotions i knew by this point were rage and despair. by the time i entered college, i was a poorly-constructed shell of a woman. the rage had fueled me in adolescence, but the fire was dying by then. at least, i thought it was. this song stirred the embers just enough to help get me through five more years of academia. goddamn the wounds that show how deep a word can cut. i'm always having to ask others how they see me now. have done so for the last two decades because in the first two decades so many sought to break me. so my reflection... there are just pieces of that shell now. fragments. i always feel guilty having to ask, pathetic. i know how it seems. how can it happen that every time you ask us this question, the answer seems like a lie. you know what we're saying, and you know what it means, and it's always sincere, god knows, but it never gets through to where you need. while some of the lyrics light a fire in me, still, the first and last verses can sometimes keep it contained.

whatever i fear. toad the wet sprocket again. there's almost nothing left, and you eat my kind for breakfast... i sicken myself so much... whatever i fear the most is whatever i see before me...

rhyme and reason. dave matthews band. i've had enough, i've had enough of being alone... i got no place to go. i kept hearing people say depressed people choose depression. so for me, the reference to needles in the song is metaphorical. and there's that part of me that just wants it over and done.

with or without you. u2. because this is how i feel about love... i can't have it, but i want it. i wait for it, even though i know i can't handle it when it's in my clumsy grasp. my hands clench things too tightly. there's too much hate in me... from all that fire and rage. i'm too open. too eager to share. too free with my stories. i give myself away too easily... and then, when it matters to be open and vulnerable... the walls i build are insurmountable. mama says i've got the go to hell look patented. see the stone set in your eyes... see the thorn twist in your side... 

i also like acrobat: you can swallow, or you can spit. you can throw it up, or choke on it... don't let the bastards grind you down... i know you'd hit out, if you only knew who to hit. and who's gonna ride your wild horses

closer to fine; secure yourself; kid fears; prince of darkness; blood and fire. indigo girls. darkness has a hunger that's insatiable, and lightness has a call that's hard to hear. i wrapped my fear around me like a blanket (closer to fine). i wrote a whole post about prince of darkness.

silent all these years; crucify; precious things; winter; hey jupiter; the doughnut song; baker bakertori amos. every finger in the room is point at me. i wanna spit in their faces, then i get afraid of what that could bring. i got a bowling ball in my stomach, got a desert in my mouth. figures that my courage would choose to sell out now... i've been raising up my hands, drive another nail in. just what god needs. one more victim (crucify). basically the whole album little earthquakes needs to be in your collection if it's not already. that last song, though, baker baker. that one's my favorite. behind my eyes, i'm hiding... my heart's been hard to find. here... there must be something here.

place in this world; i'll lead you home; let me show you the way. michael w. smith. my crutches when i feel most defeated, when all seems lost.

with a little help from my friends...

October 19, 2016

on the writing front: for four weeks or so, my characters have barricaded me from their lives... or something. that crazy muse, the wench, hasn't let me spy on them so i can write about them, but yesterday with a little prodding and perspective from one of the gals in my writing group, i managed to eke out a page or two (yay!) on one of those scenes that was in need of a redo, and yall, i can tell when i'm finished with this particular one it's going to be awesome.

of course, she had to say if i don't hurry up and finish this beast, my story's going to be housed in the romance section. not that i'm opposed to that, but... i'd rather it go in fiction. so i spent the afternoon at pappadeaux's, tinkering with twitter and the manuscript wish list hashtag and reviewing my letters of rejection. there aren't that many... twenty-two. i'm a pansy. rejection's been the story of my life, and i don't really like adding to the number of times i've experienced it, but... twenty-two's nothing when you consider authors generally have been rejected HUNDREDS of times. i might not like being told my writing's for shit but... i can handle more than a couple of dozen occurrences of that.

anyway... the point is... one of the servers came by and asked what the list was. when i told him, he took my pen and wrote hit list at the top of the page. it made me laugh. like really laugh. it was good. and in that moment, i loved him for it. i need more people like that in my world. 

on the blogging front: last night i tinkered with the idea of pitching in a post for the back to blogging challenge hosted by alyssa goes bang. my friend erin had called my attention to it, and i almost wrote a post last night about the tenth prompt: what do you hope people receive from you? 

i'm a selfish pig, yall. in case you hadn't figured that out yet. a typical aries: me me me. the infant of the zodiac. i don't mind it because sometimes good things come of that. like the other night when i ordered a slice of pappadeaux's bananas foster cheesecake, which is a DAMNED FINE dessert and you should get you some if you can. it's a huge slice, though, and i didn't want the whole thing. so when some old man passed me and paused to ask what was that, i told him, and then i said he could have half of it. a) because i didn't want the whole thing; and b) i feel better when i'm being nice. apparently, no one had ever offered to split their dessert with the dude. he said i'd made his day. so that... for me, that's what i hope people take from me. that despite my selfishness and the darkness of the depression that plagues me, i'm capable of being a bright spot for someone somehow. which is, by the way, purely selfish of me. :]

like what i'm about to do... shine some light on some of those bloggers i follow. out of sheer boredom i'm doing this, which shames me to say, but.... yall, i'm glad i'm doing it because these folks really are pretty neat.

first up: i am in AWE of mary at home is where the boat is and her ability to set a table. she gets GUNG HO with it, yall. i love her spirit and how invested she is as celebrating a season, a holiday like halloween or making an ordinary day extraordinary. by the way, if that halloween decor isn't quite wicked enough for you, maybe this one's witchy enough.

i don't pop over to her blog nearly enough, but when i do i am always so glad i did because she brings such cheer to the world, really. thank god for people like her.

next... there's this guy who goes by the name elliptical man who blogs at the view from the third floor. he digs obscure things. sometimes he writes obscure things... and sometimes what he writes is pretty danged awesome. like that written in the post he calls notes.

if you're not like me, who can barely be bothered to reply to an email (i know. i suck. but TRUST ME WHEN I TELL YOU I READ THEM ALL.) let alone send a letter or card (but when i do, you can bet your ass i bought it from a hallmark store), and you've the inclination to make your own cards, amanda at house revivals has a neat tutorial on how to make a stepped card. i'm almost tempted to try my hand at that. almost.

one of the first blogs i started following is by heather at the spohrs are multiplying. this post of her children eating ice cream, incidentally published on my older brother's birthday (usually a sad day for me), made me smile.

so did simone's post taking stock (cos that's what i do when i've got writer's block) at great fun etc: adventures on life's rollercoaster. she's having a rough go of it right now, but even with that, she can find the beauty in her world. and hey, she's in new zealand. one of the things i love most about the blogisphere is it allows you to view the world of others far, far away. and sometimes, i even talk to them (though this is rare because i'm that antisocial wench who doesn't write back when people write her... again, i suck. i know). also... it's summertime over there, i believe. they can swim. i just get to look at the pretty pool in my back yard and think seven months, maybe... depending on how much it rains in april. jealous much? nah. not me. she gets to live in NEW ZEALAND, and i'm in suburban houston. yay. it used to be country. i liked it so much better when it was a forest. anyway...

then there's becky who posted on her blog about how beautiful it is in her neighborhood... because the trees where she is are orange and golden. pretty. yes. (ours are still green, by the way, though i have spotted some yellow... so we should see some pretty here next month.) she shared some really lovely quotes there, too.

lauren went to oregon's coast. it was rather gloomy there, but gorgeous nonetheless. she posts lots of recipes and things on her blog. for a broncos fan, she's alright. :]

so all you bloggers out there, thank you for what you do. i don't tell you often enough, if ever, but i love that you're there, that you share your world with the rest of us. reading your pages, reading about your lives helps me carry on with mine.

the fall film challenge bonus round: my list

the fall film challenge: the bonus round

guess what. for the bonus? pick twenty-five films that have been based on books or actual events. when you post your list to the facebook page, you HAVE to provide links (like goodreads or wikipedia) to verify choices are legitimate ones. I WILL CHECK. I WILL TELL YOU NO IF THEY'RE NOT. same rules apply: can't use films you've already seen; has to have a page on imdb, theatrical release... no changes... yadda yadda. AND because i'm nice, this year you don't have to have finished the regular round before watching bonus selections. so that's it. have fun.

the tally, for those of you who are interested in knowing challengers' progress, is thus:

christine: twenty-five. finished original list september twenty-second. 
alyson: twenty-five. finished original list september twenty-second (second). 
andrea: twenty-five. finished original list october second. 
christina: twenty-five. finished original list october seventh. 
kathryn: nineteen 
dani: thirteen 
brianne: nine 
sabrina: nine 
lauren t.: eight 
michael: eight 
stephanie: seven 
cassie: four 
cherie: four 
erin: three 
lauren h.: one 

there's no shame in having only seen a few, by the way. ultimately, the purpose of this challenge is to get you to see things you wouldn't normally see, and if it gets someone to watch one movie, then yay. i'm glad. because i know there are some of you out there who love books, like erin, a helluva lot more than they love film--or maybe i should say it's easier for them to get through a book than a movie. you can listen to a book during a commute or while you're cooking dinner. watching a movie while you're cooking is a little more complicated. like the other day when i was trying to watch desolation of smaug and bake muffins. it took me two hours to make the muffins, yall. why? because there are hot men in that movie. i enjoyed looking at their faces a whole lot more than i enjoyed spooning batter into muffin tins. anyway... collectively, we challengers have seen about two hundred movies since september thirtieth. i say about because some of them are duplicates, and i'm too lazy to figure out an exact count. that's a lot of movies, yall, in a very short amount of time. i am impressed by these girls. this is pretty awesome.

i have seen sixteen flicks. i'm having a really hard time finding the trojan women. i understand i could buy it, but, although it appears to have a pretty fantastic cast, i'm not interested in purchasing a film i've never seen. so... if by some freak of nature one of you lovely readers happens to own that particular flick or know of someone who does and would be willing to hook a gal up, i'd appreciate the favor. you will be rewarded for your generosity.

random quarter

October 14, 2016

one. so the first thing i do when making these posts is type out the one through twenty-five bit because if i do it that way, then i don't have to do control b as much. then i go back and type the things. today, i got so caught up in typing the numbers that i was on twenty-seven when i realized i could stop.

two. this the fifty-first rq post. actually, i'm sure there've been more than that, but i went through and killed about seven hundred posts last year, and some of those were probably rq's from way back when. picky's been around for more than a decade, yall. i can't keep everything. i can guarantee you i wrote more than two posts in two thousand eight, and there's nothing from five, six or seven. so yeah. there were probably more like sixty or seventy of these. whatever. the first rq post was composed on april twenty-fourth, six years ago. the one with the most page views is this one (one thousand, two hundred sixteen); the one with the fewest is that one (thirty). in the former, all of that is still true, save for number four because i can't fix phineas. he bought it two years ago this month. i'm still sad about that.

three. i am about to make the third call today to the cable company because i can't watch my recorded shows and do netflix and all that jazz... i am unthrilled. mostly because they ask for the best phone number at which to call you should they get disconnected, but they don't call you back when the call's broken, so you have to repeat the same complaints AGAIN. the third one, though was successful, thank god. something's busted in a box. imagine that. and they may be out today to fix it. maybe.

four. i have watched sixteen of the twenty-five films i'd chosen for this year's film challenge. i can't say for sure, but i think that's the greatest number of films i've seen by midpoint. i'm kind of proud of myself. i've never finished my own damned challenge. mayhaps i'll do it this year!

five. and then there's erin's book challenge. i've read FIVE books, which IS the most i've ever read of my selections for one of her challenges. the thing's over in two weeks. i might get one more in. maybe two. but ain't no way i'm finishing that one. sorry, lady. there's always the next one...

six. the aggies have won six games. they are undefeated. they are ranked sixth. it is a beautiful thing. that said... the first half of their season's a cakewalk compared to the back half. bama's next. as in next weekend. at bama. we've beaten them there before. maybe we could do it again. that sure would be nice. then we could be eight and oh because the next team is like new mexico state or something... aggies vs. aggies. there can be only one, dammit. and ours have a ninety-nine point five percent chance of victory. the bama game, though... the chance of success there is MUCH smaller. something like twenty-nine point three percent.

seven. so something really weird happened with picky this year. i can't figure out it happened. of the posts that survived the great culling, the one that's had the fewest views is called hate hates hating. i'm kind of glad i'm doing this rq post today, that i'm checking out the page views and whatnot because it made me revisit that particular post. and in light of the one i'd written the other day... i'm really glad i looked at this one again because it reminded me that that's how i need to pray. after giving thanks and asking for help for my friends... the simple request in that post is good enough. not that i've not made the request since. not that i'd forgotten writing that post or coming to that realization... but i forget a prayer doesn't have to be fancy. it doesn't have to be specific. it can be as simple as the italicized words i'd written then.

anyway... the weird thing... i culled a few more posts a month ago, so there are a little less than five hundred picky posts now. if you break'm down into hundreds...

the last batch (june to june, two thousand eight to ten):
eight posts have fewer than ten views;
sixty-one have between ten and ninety-nine; 
eighteen have greater than one hundred

the numbers for the next three hundred posts are fairly similar. the first batch, though...

the most recent one (may of fifteen to now):
twenty three posts have fewer than one hundred views; 
sixty have between one hundred and a thousand; 
sixteen have more than a thousand

SIXTEEN. in the other four hundred, there've been only two that have amassed that many: n is for neapolitan (one thousand one hundred twenty-three) and that rq post mentioned earlier. i can't figure out what i did to incur the spike cause i'm pretty sure i'm not writing about anything differently.

of course now the numbers are settling back to normal. maybe it was just this fluke thing. it's just that i never figured any post of mine would get that much attention. and i get it. there are bloggers out there who have posts that get hundreds and hundreds of views on a regular basis. so i probably sound silly talking about this...

eight. am watching the way, way back for probably the thirtieth time. i am not a sam rockwell fan, but there is no one who could do the character owen better justice than that dude. my older brother was kind of like owen. maybe that's why i like this movie so much. i say kind of because my brother was pretty damned particular about how he dressed, but for the most part... i can see my brother doing a lot of things owen does in this film. i miss my bubba.

nine. i can't stand steve carell. nothing makes me loathe him more than his character trentthe guys i meet, they're like trent. i'd really rather find one like owen. and i know, considering i'd just said he reminds me of my brother, that sounds weird, but... the guys in my family are pretty awesome. sue me for wanting someone like them.

ten. i had all these shows and films saved to the dvr. like an episode of a football life that focuses on steve gleason's interest and effort in climbing machu picchu. it was a damned good episode. it's gone now because the cable guy had to replace all our damned boxes. so... no more shows. i had to go through and reset all the shit. bah.

eleven. my mom makes baby cupcakes out of yellow cake and cinnamon and sugar. it only took me three tries but i've managed to nail that shit. there's like a science. you have to tweak the recipe a bit, beat it differently than what it says on the box, bake'm for just the right time (NOT the eighteen minutes it says to do on the box), mix just the right amount of cinnamon with sugar and soak'm in just the right amount of butter then the cinnamon stuff. the first batch? not so good. the last batch? badass.

twelve. i've told yall before it takes me hours to write these posts. that's because sometimes i'm like... what. the. fuck. i'm only on number twelve??

thirteen. i hate job hunting. i hate how small i feel. that i try for the jobs that interest me and end up working in retail. i really don't want to work retail EVER AGAIN but it's looking like that's about to happen.

fourteen. and then i hate hating on retail because it's honest work, hard work. and who am i to belittle that? it's just that i don't want my work to be just a job. and that's how i see retail. it's just a job. and a i'm just a girl. working a just job makes me feel more like a just girl. and i really don't wanna feel like that.

fifteen. i have kept my room clean for a whole three days! i swear to god this is a record.

sixteen. my bank account's had less than twenty bucks in it for two weeks. i'm pretty sure that's a record, too.

seventeen.  i've been having trouble sleeping. it took a clonazepam, two unisoms and watching the actors' commentary of the first half of the director's cut of fellowship of the ring to get me to sleep last night. i dozed pretty much all night. i know this because at some point, i had to start the thing over.

eighteen. baseball doesn't interest me so much. until i'm sitting at republic grille (filling out a job application) and watching the cleveland indians beat the boston red sox. yeah. YEAH. the INDIANS. that team that was featured in major league beating that team that was featured in fever pitch. that got my attention. because how in the hell did that happen? and then one of the servers is saying some shit about how the series could come down to the indians and the chicago cubs. THE CHICAGO CUBS. i feel like shit's horribly off its axis.

nineteen. six more things... i'm over flo the progressive gal commercials. those need to end. so do the ones for sites like match and eharmony. and credit cards. and the goddamned lincoln ads with matthew mcconaughey.

twenty. i want to take a road trip across the low-lying lands of louisiana. i lived in that state when i was nine. for like six months. it sucked. i can only blame the interest in going back there on the fact that i watched deepwater horizon the other day, and i liked how the land is spotted along the coast in places. kind of like it is in north carolina. i've not really taken a road trip in about a year... since north carolina. maybe i'm in need of another. after i get a job, of course... and when i manage to get some time off. funny how i have the time now, but not the funds. and when i have the funds, i don't have the time.

twenty-one. that movie, by the way... of those mentioned in this post, that's one yall definitely need to see. ain't no excuse for you not to.

twenty-three. that first movie mentioned has finished. now i'm watching the reboot of macgyver. well, the fourth episode. because i lost the first three before i could watch them (because i wasn't that excited about this particular program, so i was saving them for when there was absolutely nothing else to watch), and while the cable guy could fix the cable, video on demand shit's busted. but apparently that's busted for a bunch of people. i grew up with richard whatshisface playing mac. it feels weird to me to see this other dude playing the part. it feels weird to see henry winkler listed as an executive producer, too. that's the fonz, yall. i grew up watching him slicking his hair and snapping his fingers. this shit makes me feel REALLY OLD. anyway, this show? not so impressive. i can't see it lasting a season.

twenty-four. i watched deadpool (one of the many things i had saved that is now GONE, dammit, because the more i think about that movie, the more i like it) the other day. there's some damned fine dialogue in that flick.

twenty-five. i wanna be scrawny again. i also wanna eat like three bowls of honeycomb. guess which one's more likely to happen?

i don't know what to pray for anymore

October 6, 2016

i've never been good at praying. ever. i know how it should be done: you're supposed to express gratitude for the good, which i do; you're supposed to ask for help with things that hurt and are in need of healing, so i pray for my friends. i'm good with all that... until i get to what's hurting me, to how i've hurt myself, to how i'd like it to be healed. i don't know what to pray for anymore.

every well woman exam i've had has come back normal, save for the last. i've lesions, abnormal cells that may need special attention. i go back in march for another exam, and if they're still there... well, then...

i'm trying not to think anything of it. for the past month, i've managed to roll with this well enough. apparently they're rather common. they're caused by human papillomavirus, which i got from that douchebag i dated last year. i got it because i'd lowered my standards, because i relented. because i'd thought a lot of things i didn't like to think.

it's probably nothing, this... i'll probably go back, and they'll do their thing, whatever it is, and i'll be fine. this is probably just me freaking out because that's what i do best.

i am a strong woman. i know this. i might not always act as though i've got a backbone. i might use bitchy and bluster as a defense mechanism a little too often. i'm horribly passive aggressive. but i can take a ton of shit. you can poke and prod at me until you can't find a vein anymore, like doctors did when i was a baby...

whatever this is, i'll deal with it. that's been my thought process for the past month, since i got those abnormal results. hell, for the past eighteen months since all this shit really began. whatever this is, i'll deal with it, like i've done a thousand times before.

curious, though, isn't it, that i would feel compelled to go see that movie to joey with love. i went because she was gifted with a beautiful voice and seems to have had a beautiful heart and soul, and i wanted to know that beauty a little better.

halfway through the film, though, i thought... this could be you a year from now. this struggle she endured, this battle she fought and lost... leaving behind a man who loved her and a daughter who needed her. this could be your struggle... only you don't have as many reasons to fight as she did. all because you relented, because you gave up. you who makes a point to hold her ground, even if holding it means to curl up in a ball, to dig a trench, to bury yourself. well... you're running out of trenches... you can only build so many before the ground gives way.

this is probably just because i got done watching flashdance

October 3, 2016

or it could be because i caught this in my twitterverse today:

Benedict Cumberbatch: 'Sherlock' could end with season 4

no. just no. benedict cumberbatch does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for me.

N O T H I N G. W H A T S O E V E R.

i didn't even like him as khan in star trek into darkness, but i suppose if somebody's gotta pick up ricardo montalban's racket or whatever, cumberbatch is the best choice. i mean, who else these days could pull that off? no one. still...

never have i seen a single episode of his portrayal as sherlock. why, might you ask?

because sherlock does nothing for me, either. unless it's robert downey jr.'s sherlock, then sure, i'll bite. but really? i go for watson. especially when it's jude law reading the lines. because yeah... there's a man with a good voice. cumberbatch's is just too... EH. but i could listen to jude law talk all. day. long. in fact, after i read that there tweet, i spent probably fifteen minutes watching clips of law as watson. because...

of course, i've no intention of seeing law portray a pope. what fun would that be? generally as a rule, the roles the man's chosen, the films are MEH. but... god gave me him as watson. i'm content.

don't do flashdance, by the way. if you must watch something from the eighties, check out one of these.

six impossible things

September 29, 2016

so yeah. these are just a few of the dozens of books i've purchased or, as is the case with the help and dearly beloved, been given in the past decade or so that i've been meaning to read. that pink one third from the right? landline? i've read that one at least a dozen times. i'm obsessed with that one. like OBSESSED. if there were only one book i could read for the rest of my life, that one's on a VERY short list of titles from which i would choose. the one two doors down from that one? the brown leather one? that should probably be the ONLY one on that list. that's the bible, yall. and shock of all shocks, i've read some of it. like i've read a few pages in most of the books on this shelf. (there's two more rows of books behind that one... just so you know. i've read a few pages in a few of them, too.)

two doors down from that bible is a young adult novel i picked up a few years ago... another selection for erin's book challenge that, also shocking, i have yet to finish. it's called six impossible things

i see it every morning when i wake and every night before i sleep. i see it and remember that quote of the queen's in alice and wonderland. most of the time i look at those words and see shortcomings because all too often, i can't even find the courage or the strength or the passion to strive to believe in one thing. shortcomings because i can think of six impossible things with such ease. IMPOSSIBLE THINGS like looking in the mirror and not feeling about my face today like i did when i was thirteen. sure, the face staring back at me is different. but the girl's the same. the girl knows that the reason the face is different is because surgeons had to make it so. HAD to or her teachers would continue to treat her as though she belonged in a special education environment rather than a mainstream classroom. had to or she probably would've died not long after. i can tell you all about impossible things.

i was gonna make a list of the worst of those things, the ones that i needed to believe i could overcome. and then it occurred to me, that's just enabling the ugliness.

so let me tell you instead of some other, more uplifting impossible things i've known.

one. the love my parents have for me. i don't make it easy, yall. i've not made it easy for them since birth, practically. they've had to fight harder for me than i've ever fought for myself. they'd do it with their dying breaths. i've said before how easy it would be for my mother to tell you of the flaws of her children... but she sees such goodness in us, in each of us, no matter how uncouthly and idiotically we may behave... my brother drank himself to death. my other brother was unfaithful to his wife. and i've relied so heavily on their financial assistance for so long that they can't provide for their grandchildren's college education like i'm sure they'd hoped to do. we are gifted in so many ways, and not all of them are good. but when i'm despaired and drowning because of it, when there is no light in me and i ask her why she loves me, she holds on and says it's because i bring her joy and there is such goodness in me... that they could love me despite how ugly i can be to them, how frequently i take advantage of them... that their love for me can be so boundless seems so impossible to me, and yet, there it is. and i know it to be true.

two. the worst years of my academic studies were from fifth to seventh grade, and right smack dab in the middle of them was this wonderful teacher named pauline elliott. during this time of my life i was convinced death was the best way my story could possibly end. i've never prayed so hard in my life as i did then, and my prayers, they were not good. they lacked any gratitude or praise, any hope or faith, any kind of light. my pysche was similarly constructed. and one day, this woman pulled me aside after class and said i had a talent for writing. that one compliment... to this day it makes me cry recalling it because of the kindness she showed me, because of the good she saw in me when so many saw such ruin, such waste. i'm sure i've blogged about this before, but that compliment could not have come at a more crucial time in my life. it was just the right thing to say, at just the right time... and it seemed so impossible to me that any teacher could care for me because they had not done so in years... and yet... there. she did. she's gone now. she died this year. i don't think i ever told her how valuable her words were to me. they were like hope in pandora's box. i walked into that school every day and heard every hideous thing you could imagine... and there in all that ugliness, was that one shining sentiment.

three. the worst year of my adult life was from spring to spring 'two to 'three, and right smack dab in the middle of that was this wonderful professor named janevelyn tillery. i was in the throes of some pretty impressive depression when i met this woman. i'd enrolled in one of her linguistics courses at the university of texas at san antonio. i'd had my heart broken just a few months before. i'd quit my job and spent the majority of my summer holed up in my apartment, rarely bothering to change out of my pajamas and the only time i'd left the house was to buy cigarettes and food. somehow, by august, i'd decided i need to do something with myself, so i enrolled in english classes and hid out in academia. toward the end of the semester, tillery had asked her students to fill out index cards detailing the classes we were taking in the spring. i loved how invested she was in her students, in their education and aspirations. i didn't fill out a card because i wasn't going to be taking classes next semester. she noticed that i'd not submitted one, and when class had concluded she confronted me about it. when i'd said i wasn't enrolling for spring classes, she looked shocked and sad. she said, but you're so bright! you should be in school! i almost cried right there. not because i couldn't be in school, but because here, yet again, impossibly, someone saw good in me when i could not see it in myself. someone outside my family loved me when i felt so horribly unlovable.

four. i can laugh. a few months ago when we were at the monastery, my brother's friend adam remarked at how it pleased him when i'd laugh one of those full belly laughs. i think it surprises people when i do. i am so serious, so guarded, so besieged on so many fronts by so many things that laughter is as foreign to me as the french tube system. there are times when i think there's no way i could manage laughter while feeling like i do, and then... there it is. someone, something will strike just the right chord...

five. getting up out of bed every morning. often before i go to bed, i think, there's another day like today just around the corner. and even though i've gotten through thousands of those days... getting up out of bed each morning, planting my feet and putting one before the other again and again... that i have the energy, the capability to get through it astounds me.

six. i can sing and write and speak my mind. because i'm convinced i should've lost my voice decades ago, and yet, here it is...

by the way... at some point, i'll get all those books read.

what we hear in the dark

September 25, 2016

this one's probably gonna be a bit of a ramble because i've got quite a bit rolling around right now, but i'll try to keep it coherent...

friday, the granddaughter of one of my mother's oldest friends was married. my parents and i had been invited to the ceremony and reception following, both of which took place at a facility far from the freeway, deep in the woods and close to the lake: the blessed quiet country of southeast texas, the sole reason anybody moves here. it's gorgeous. that couple who got married, they're gorgeous. the granddaughter's family is gorgeous. they are, hands down, some of my favorite people on the planet, and i am immensely, incredibly grateful to have them in my life. they see beauty in me, always, even when i can't see it in myself.

one of the first things my father remarked on when we arrived was how quiet it was and how lovely. he started to say how it would be the perfect place for me to write but stopped because he remembered, i can't write in quiet. not usually. i usually blog in quiet. i almost always have to have quiet then because that kind of writing, for me, requires more thought, more conscious effort. but when i'm crafting fiction, i don't want to be cognizant of what i'm thinking. i need chaos, and what better place for that than the bar of a restaurant, close to the kitchen, the to go stand and the service bartender's domain. it's awful busy right there. it's really noisy. but more than the noise and the chaos, i need the company.

writing is one of the most solitary careers a person can choose. it's not THE most solitary one. my great uncle is a trappist monk, which means he's spent the majority of his life silently working the fields, raising cattle and making grandfather clocks and other things for family and friends, because he's also a gifted carpenter. trappist monks don't typically speak much to each other. they don't often leave the monastery. they don't generally interact with people. that's solitary. by comparison, writing's got nothing on that. but... if i had to spend my days in this room, this upstairs office in mine and my parents' home... like emily dickinson spent her days closed off her in her house... the depression i've battled since i was eight... let's just say its chances of winning would be increased exponentially.

it's five 'til seven p.m. on a sunday. this is my favorite time of day because the light in the sky is magnificent, and the air is glorious. but it's also frightening because the darkness is settling, and the world outside is quieter. so many are having dinner, so there's not much traffic. the air conditioner just clicked on. there's a dog barking. the only other noise is the clacking of the keys as i type.

if i spent my days here in this office, writing, i am confident i would lose the war i've been waging with my brain since childhood. i am confident that each day the darkness would settle sooner and more soundly over this house and within my heart. that it would smother me.

so i'm usually at pappadeaux's right about now. actually... i usually get there around three and stay until about eight. i catch the last bit of the lunch rush and the majority of that from dinner. i am there by myself, but i am not alone.

i can't worry about tomorrow... about when i'm going to find a job i love or a man i love or friends who will want to spend more than a few minutes with me or yesterday and how i've had jobs i've loved and a man i loved or how i had to leave that reception right after dinner because i just couldn't be in a room surrounded by all those gorgeous couples when i am not gorgeous and not part of a couple, probably never will be part of a couple. i can't think, really, of anything but the noise and the words my characters want me to write.

“Anxiety needs the future,” and “depression needs the past.” Thoughts?

my friend shane posted this on twitter this evening. i replied right away that i had thoughts but there were too many to share in a tweet, so i'd email her.

in reading the article published by the washington post by dana mich, who blogs at moving forwards by the way, i was struck by the notion that we should just be. like it's easy. like it's so fucking simple. just be. just go with the flow. the book i'm writing will be called let it be (mostly because i'm not capable of letting it be... it's sarcasm).

i'm SO, SO tired of people saying shit like that. don't you think i would if i could? don't you know i would LOVE my life a helluva lot more if i could? i'm a writer. my job is to figure out where the flow is going and how it's getting there. i can't just go with it. can't just be. no matter how hard i might try.

mich points out that there's almost always a word to follow be. it's used to identify the state of being. of being what? at present, i am in a chair. i am in a room. i am wearing a t-shirt, a pair of jeans and a baseball cap. am is what's called a be verb, a conjugate of be. if i were to say i am, you'd be waiting for the rest of the story, right? you are what? and then if i told you, i just am, you'd be like you're crazy. to which i would reply, yes, i am that. most assuredly. (because i've now been sitting by myself in the quiet for an hour. imagine what a full day would do.)

in the middle of reading that article, though, i remembered giving a presentation in college to a group of students, classmates, in human growth and learning, a course everyone seeking to become a teacher in texas, which had been my goal at the time, was required to take. i spoke about child suicide. i spoke of my own struggles with depression, when they began and the influences. i wasn't a good daughter or sister or student or friend. the first time i thought about death i was eight. by the time i was ten, i thought of it with every breath. EVERY BREATH. i wanted it over because i was such a disappointment to so many in so many ways, and i saw no hope of ever being anything other than that.

when i'd finished giving my presentation, when i'd finished sharing my experiences in hopes that these future teachers might take the feelings of the children they would teach more seriously, one of those students, a man who was much older than i, looked at me and said, so you wanted to kill yourself because you're weren't a good daughter, sister, student and friend? i was incensed by his question. it took me a moment to come up with a response, but when i did, i sort of gawked at him. i said something like when you're eight, your only responsibilities are to be those things, and i was failing, horribly failing, at all of them. it's not your job to judge the weight a child carries. it's your job to help him or her carry it... and if you can't do that, then it's your job to find someone who can.

i'm forty-three now. i still feel like i'm a horrible failure at being a good daughter, sister, student and friend. only now i've added lover (interestingly, i feel more like a failure WHILE i'm in a relationship than when i'm not) and employee to that equation. it's a hell of a weight i carry. too often, i am burdened by it. too often, i crawl into bed at night, and the only comfort i can find is from the softness of the flannel sheets and plump duvet i bundle about me.

i am too many things to say, really. too many things to be. i am too much in my head. i am too much by myself.

all of these thoughts were bobbing to the surface as i read that article. and with them was the sadness i felt that this woman was deprived of her father because he could no longer carry the weight of his burdens. he'd been crushed by them. my heart broke for him. for her. for all who love them, whomever they may be.

and then i scrolled down a little further on shane's twitter feed and saw this post of famous women's thoughts on being alone.

i don't hate being alone. i've spent a great deal of time this evening telling how much it sucks and what happens when i'm lonely. but i don't mind solitude. i mind the way it can cripple me sometimes. but generally, i prefer it.

it's dark outside now. it's taken me the better part of an hour to write this. i dig pretty much everything about that article. the thoughts these women have shared are generally badass. i'm fondest of what chelsea handler said. yes, there are perils that come with solitude, but there are perks as well.

i have the house to myself. this evening my parents, much more sociable creatures than i, are having dinner with that couple whose granddaughter got married two days ago. i have the house to myself. it is a BEAUTIFUL thing. it is, at the moment, blessedly quiet. i don't mind it right now. i'm reveling in it, actually. if it were two a.m., this would most definitely NOT be the case. but for right now...

it's quiet because i don't give a damn about the dallas cowboys or the chicago bears, if you must know. i'd be hard-pressed to pick which team i'd want to lose that game. i hate them both.

anyway... solitude can be a wonderful thing. i'm more comfortable being alone, truth be told, than i am being in a crowd, especially when it's a room full of gorgeous couples like that friday.

that said... one of the members of that family--my mother's friend's daughter-in-law, if you can follow that--when she heard i was leaving, she made a valiant effort to get me to stay. she dragged me onto the dance floor, she said she was single, too (her husband had left an hour before), and then she groped my ass and my breasts. because yeah, she's crazy (and was probably drunk). oh, but god it made me laugh.

i'll see her tuesday. she's in a book group and invited me to join. i'm really looking forward to spending more time with her because she's so much fun, and she's so kind to me. and maybe i'll make another friend there. wouldn't that be nice? i've got about forty-eight hours to read you are a badass: how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life by jen sincero.

shane, by the way, blogs at sea salt secrets. and the clock in that photo above, or the pieces of it anyway... it was crafted by my munkle. he can't make them anymore. my parents brought it home because he couldn't finish it, which breaks my heart, too. click here to see him and the monastery's grounds (and me from when i was a wee lassie).

i've got a quiet house. perfect for reading. i'll get started on that... soon as i can get myself off the twitter...

olympic book tag

September 23, 2016

a while back, erin joined in a thing called olympic book tag, which was originated by shannon. when i looked at the categories, i felt charles dickens' our mutual friend pretty much is the best example for all of them, really, but i figured it'd be a challenge for me to choose some other titles. what the hell, why not, right? surely, i can find books to fit these categories. it can't be THAT hard. every book mentioned in this post is one i could manage to finish. i liked them well enough, some MUCH more than others.

a book i loved from the first page: eleanor and park by rainbow rowell. the only thing i remember about the day i bought this book is that it was sunny. i read the first page in the courtyard outside the bookstore. i remember stopping and standing there to read it again and again. and i remember knowing i was gonna love this book from that one page.

favorite road trip book? as in which one do i wanna take with me on a road trip? lovers and dreamers by nora roberts. or which one was the best one i'd read while on a road trip? wonder by r.j palacio. or which one about being on a road trip is the best? finding paris by joy preble.

love triangle. charles dickens' our mutual friend. the tale of lizzie hexam, eugene wrayburn and bradley headstone... THIS is why i love this book. all the other drama in the story PALES in comparison to the intricacy, desperation and tragedy of this story. it is PERFECT. and yes, YES, it's a BITCH to read this book. it is GODAWFUL long, and so many of the characters are shit, but... if you persist, if you prevail, i am confident you would be glad for having done so.

eugene to his friend, mortimer, regarding lizzie: that lonely girl with the dark hair runs in my head. it was little more than a glimpse we had of her that last time, and yet i almost see her waiting by the fire to-night. do you feel like a dark combination of traitor and pickpocket when you think of that girl? (p. 162).

silver linings playbook by matthew quick. i can't for the life of me figure out why there was this shitstorm of fanfare for it. i mean, there are SO, SO many books out there that are better than this one. SO many. that said, it's not awful. it's okay. i didn't hate reading it.
one day by david nichols. takes place on the same day every year over the course of two decades, i believe. july twentieth, if memory serves... or somewhere thereabouts. i liked this book. i liked this movie.

i'm going to go with seneca's thyestes here. it's a greek tragedy so you don't see the fighting and the bloodshed... hell, you don't even get to read about it, but trust me... TRUST ME when i tell you there is bloodshed. there is a LOT of bloodshed. it is HANDS DOWN THE BEST REVENGE STORY EVER WRITTEN.

here i'm going with the language of flowers by vanessa diffenbaugh because it's back and forth between past and present, and victoria, god love her, is MESSED UP. and when you think her life can't get any worse, it DOES. so much so that you think she's never going to get it right. and then... there'll be some good that'll give her hope, give you hope.

the fault in our stars by john green. the film did not make me bawl, so if you've not yet read this book, maybe watch the movie first? just so you're prepared...

the time traveler's wife by audrey niffenegger. okay. i am a fast reader. i can knock a book out in two hours easily. this one took me a whole fucking month to finish. but yall, i am so glad i did. SO glad. because the parts that are good are VERY GOOD. and henry and clare are pretty amazing people. do not, DO NOT under ANY circumstances see the movie, if you've not already done so. it is SHIT. it is DEPLORABLE. it is HANDS DOWN the WORST adaptation of a novel ever put to the screen.

baby dear by esther and eloise wilkin. or a child's garden of verses by robert louis stevenson and illustrated by gyo fujikawa. or richard scarry's best storybook ever... or...

little bunny follows his nose by katherine howard. it's a scratch and sniff. it's a damned fine scratch and sniff. i like it. i like it a lot. also kiki's blankie by jane bynum's pretty nifty.
me before you by jojo moyes. i tried so many times to finish this book. it took watching the trailer and then the film several times to help me get through it. don't get me wrong: i dig louisa and will. they are pretty cool. but ugh... generally, the way their story is told leaves MUCH to be desired.

ah, george and liza in ellen shanman's right before your eyes. i love them. but more, i love parrot and aunt fran. a girl needs people like those two in her life.