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tuesday topics: five. characters from literature

April 17, 2018


one. luna lovegood - harry potter and the order of the phoenix by j.k. rowling. one could argue that every character in this series is unusual, and i would agree, but i was most impressed with the uniqueness of luna lovegood. i admire her idiosyncrasies, loyalties, keen powers of observation and, most of all, her strength. 

two. pat solitano - silver linings playbook by matthew quick. this guy's just WEIRD. 

three. victoria jones - the language of flowers by vanessa diffenbaugh. i love how strong she is, love how she'll give flowers to people and the people think she's giving them to be kind, but the messages in those flowers are not. she's angry, and so, so justified in her anger. but she creates such beauty despite this, and that ability, i think, is remarkably rare.

four. rhett butler - gone with the wind by margaret mitchell. it takes a certain kind of dude to really love scarlett o'hara. i admire his tenacity and dedication to himself and those he respects, his ability to outwit others, to say screw you and get away with it every time.

five. august pullman - wonder by r.j. palacio. this kid, yall. DAMN. he is the STRONGEST character i've had the pleasure to meet in any book. hands down. ain't no way in hell i could've lived through the kind of shit he's had to endure. i love, LOVE his resilience.

tell me three things

April 15, 2018

why i wanted to read it: fuck if i know. it was on a table. i was buying GREAT books to go into a care package i'm sending to some girls i met when touring my college's campus during its founder's weekend celebration. somehow, and i really can't say why, it caught my attention. maybe it was the waffles on the cover. maybe it was the title. maybe it's because i can be, at times, a stupid girl. and this was definitely one of those times.

what i liked: it's been 747 days and still i have not learned how to talk about any of this. i mean, i can talk about how i bought the toilet paper, how we were broken, how i was broken. but i still haven't found the words to talk about my mom. the real her. to remember who she was in a way that doesn't make me keel over.

i don't know how to do that yet. 

sometimes it feels like i've forgotten how to talk altogether... if i was going to be held captive by a wicked stepmother, surely there are worse places i could have ended up than living in the pages of architectural digest... the problem was that mom wasn't here. that she would never be anywhere again. when i thought about that for too long, which i didn't, when i could help it, i realized it didn't matter much where i slept (page 38).

rut seemed too small a word for grief... sometimes when scarlett says i'm strong, i think she really means i'm numb (page 40).

i bet i would have liked him better then, when he read marvel comics instead of sartre, when he didn't wrangle with all the hard questions and come out the other end sad or angry or tired or whatever it is he is (page 58).

what sucked: pretty much everything else. boy decides he's too afraid to speak to the new girl, but really wants to so he (somehow) gets her email address so he can counsel her on who to know and how to cope. i knew who the dude was before i'd read a fifth of the story. so much for secretive. but then, maybe i was supposed to figure it out. still... i would've preferred the surprise. i do love surprises. it's about about a gal coping with the loss of her mother and being uprooted from chicago to california after her father comes home from what she thinks is a business trip to announce he's married someone else. there's GOBS and GOBS of shell shock here. EXCELLENT material for conflict, but it's SO watered down, the storytelling so pitifully executed that it feels more like middle grade fiction than a young adult novel.

having said that: the author, who lost her mother at a young age so she knows that of which she writes (and should have done a MUCH better job because of this), addresses the reader in a letter between the concluding page and the acknowledgements: i decided to combine the loneliness of first loss with something much more magical and universal: the beauty of first love. she should've tried harder, for there's neither magic nor beauty to be found here. it's mediocre at best with regard to the writing and the story, horribly cliched and predictable as hell.

the good fight

April 11, 2018


the other day a friend asked me to help her tweak an essay she'd been asked to write for her work. it was about repainting some metal planters, about how the task had enabled her to see that sometimes we are like those planters, weathered and rusted by life, and how when we let him, god can give us fresh coats of paint, restore our spirits.

i've mentioned that bible study in which i'm taking part before. in romans four, paul talks about circumcision. when i'd first read it, i thought that doesn't apply to me. but then in the lecture, our group leader talked about how our hearts need to be circumcised, that the scar tissue makes it difficult to live like god had intended us. in romans three, paul says their throats are open graves... their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness... ruin and misery mark their ways.

these words have haunted me ever since. my voice will be the cause of my death. somehow. morbid, right?

today a woman came to ship something to a friend. she had shoulder-length, glossy, straight black hair, wore black-rimmed glasses, a black blouse with yellow details (i wish i could tell you what they were... flowers, maybe? but that doesn't sound right) forming vertical stripes about an inch apart, bell sleeves, black slacks. she was blessed with beautiful features: good skin; symmetry; wide, dark eyes. her face was flawless. she was talking with my boss about how she'd just come from an interview, that it had gone well -- the man with whom she'd spoken had said that he liked her and wanted to hire her, but he had to conduct some other interviews and would be in touch. and then, maybe five minutes later, she said he was probably going to hire her because she was pretty... and how she couldn't help that.

i was jealous. i was also angry. i know i shouldn't be.

it took me the better part of a year to convince my boss he should hire me. this woman has an interview that probably lasted no more than fifteen minutes, and she will most likely get the job because she's pretty. when she's in conversations with men she won't reveal that she has a boyfriend. she takes advantage of her beauty. she uses it. i think that's what makes me the angriest. it's a tool to her. she wields it like a weapon.

how many of you do that? how many of you brag to others in front of women who aren't as blessed with physical beauty? i had to leave the room because i couldn't stomach the conversation any longer.

i'm writing this in my room, surrounded by the things i've collected and received over the course of my life: the chicano visions book sent to me by cheech marin's public relations team for his latin art exhibit, the prints and paintings i got from my grandmothers, the woodwork fashioned for me by my great uncle, the stories in which i have immersed myself... tales that have taken me out of my often bleak internal landscape -- as unsettling to me as my reflection is -- the hope i've found in them, however shortlived it may be.

but the things to which my eyes are most frequently drawn are the red patent leather shoes my mother thought i might like to have in my room. shoes worn in my toddler years. shoes worn when i could barely walk. shoes worn, most likely, with ugly metal braces that she was quick to throw out once i no longer needed them. i am reminded how lucky i am that i can walk... because so many with medical histories like mine can't. those shoes... and that ivory ceramic mug bearing the crest of my alma mater and the year of my graduation from high school. i am reminded of the teachers and the principals who thought i would fail to do so. most of the time, i look at those two things and remember my strength. most of the time it works, and i regain my balance, my perspective.

those fights, though... struggling to walk and learn the state-mandated curriculum... those were easy. those were good.

tuesday topics: six. unusual book titles

April 10, 2018


one. the geography of madness: penis thieves, voodoo death and the search for the meaning of the world's strangest syndromes. frank bures.
two. the island of the day before. umberto eco.
three. tree of smoke. denis johnson.
four. the illustrious dead: the terrifying story of how typhus killed napoleon's greatest army. stephan talty.
five. assassination vacation. sarah vowell.
six. termite hill. tom wilson.

tuesday topics: seven. unusual film soundtracks

ten things to celebrate in april

April 1, 2018

number one. ayatollah khomeini calls for an islamic republic in iran on april 1, 1974. read (some, if not all of) reading lolita in tehran: a memoir in books. what's the first word on the nineteenth line of the seventy-fourth page? what are four things you loved about the book?

number two. maya angelou is born on april 4, 1928. share four lines of your favorite one of her poems.

number three. edgar allan poe's murders in rogue morgue, the first detective story, is published april 14, 1841. read it. what's the fourth word on the eighteenth line of the fourteenth page? share your favorite line of text.

number four. geoffrey chaucer's canterbury tales characters begin their pilgrimage to canterbury april 17, 1387, according to scholars. which of the tales do you like best; share four reasons why it's better than the others.


number five. jennifer garner is born april 17, 1972. watch draft day. which line(s) of hers do you like best?

number six. first crossword puzzle book is published april 18, 1924 by simon and schuster. find an s&s puzzle book and do one of the crosswords.


number seven. deepwater horizon drilling rig explodes on april 20, 2010, killing eleven and causing the rig to sink, causing a massive oil discharge into the gulf of mexico and an environmental disaster. watch deepwater horizon. share four things you learned about the disaster from that film.

number eight. shakespeare's macbeth is first performed takes place april 20, 1611 at the globe theater in london. the first performance of his merry wives of windsor takes place april 23, 1597, with queen elizabeth the first of england in attendance. his death occurred on april 23, 1616. read one of the plays; share twenty words from the text you liked.

number nine. prince rogers nelson died april 21, 2016. what's your favorite prince song? share four lines from it that you love.

number ten. rc duncan patents pampers first disposable diaper on april 27, 1965. donate a package of diapers to an assistance center.

six things (sort of) celebrated in march

number one. ludwig van beethoven had his first debut performance as a pianist on march 29, 1795 in vienna. first performances: fourth symphony in b -- march 5, 1807; missa solemnis -- march 26, 1824; string quartet no. 13 in b flat major (op 130) -- march 21, 1826. he died march 26, 1827; three days later, 20,000 attended his burial in vienna.

the task: pick ONE of the pieces mentioned here, play it three times -- first with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed, and on the third, write down the things you imagine as you listen -- maybe your high school teachers did this sort of thing during english class. my junior teacher was really fond of this kind of writing assignment. share what you wrote with the rest of the class -- and DON'T worry about writing style and grammatical correctness. just write. let your mind wander. where does the music take you?

i did listen to a few minutes of each of the beethoven selections, picked the one i liked (fourth symphony in b) and listened to it all the way through.

number two. tennessee williams and edward albee were born on march 26, 1911 and march 12, 1928, respectively. elizabeth taylor won a golden globe march 10, 1960 for her performance as catherine holly in the film version of williams' suddenly last summer. she divorced eddie fisher on march 6, 1964 and married richard burton nine days later. taylor and burton starred in the film version of albee's who's afraid of virginia woolf? she starred with paul newman, who, by the way, won best actor march 30, 1987 in the 59th academy awards for his role in the color of money, in williams' cat on a hot tin roof.

the task: watch ONE of the three: suddenly last summer; who's afraid of virginia woolf; cat on a hit tin roof. what are the two best lines of dialogue in the film; what two things make the film noteworthy?

i borrowed suddenly last summer and cat on a hot tin roof (have already seen who's afraid of virginia woolf -- DEPRESSING AS HELL. DON'T WATCH IT) from the library. they're sitting on my desk.


number three: vincent van gogh caused a sensation with 71 of his paintings at a show in paris on march 17, 1901 -- eleven years after his death. his sunflowers sold for a record 22.5 million pounds ($39.7 million) on march 30, 1987.

the task: find and view the van gogh armchair travel exhibition on screen: van gogh - a new way of seeing. what three things did you learn about the artist from that production? what's your favorite of his paintings? share three things you love about that work.

one. he and gauguin only lived together for two months. i'd thought it was longer than that.
two. he did eighty paintings in seventy days; the last of which was tree roots, not wheatfield with crows.
three. his brother had arranged for a funeral service to be held at a local church, but the officiant canceled the service because van gogh had committed suicide and was protestant; his funeral was held in the auberge dining room, with his coffin on a table and as many of his paintings as they could fit.

favorite is almond blossom.
one. he created it, despite being in the throes of madness, as a gift for theo and his wife and their baby.
two. i'm constantly amazed at how fragile it looks.
three. i like the peace of it.


number four. kerouac, campbell, sedaris... jack kerouac, aaron eckhart and dave eggers were born on march 12th of 1922, 1968 and 1970, respectively. earl campbell, perry farrell, amy sedaris and billy bean were born on the 29th of march in 195, 1959, 1961 and 1962. pick three of these celebrities and learn four new things about each of them. read a book or watch a movie that is about them. if you live in texas, for example, campbell was born in tyler; make a trek to that town and find a statue or mural or something the town loves to show off about him. interpret this task in a way that suits your abilities and interests. but you must share four things (lines of dialogue from a film or text from a book or lyric... four facts new to you... something of your choosing for each of the three.

so i did this a couple of sundays ago... there's earl campbell parkway in tyler, texas. it's a nice street. if memory serves, the district's administration building and technology center are on this street. i like that.

number five. delerue and silvestri. georges delerue and alan silvestri were born on march 12, 1925 and march 23, 1950, respectively. the task: watch films [FIVE for each if you can (HAH! aren't i funny?)] whose scores were composed by either gentleman. whose music do you prefer? give me five reasons why one's better than the other.

i borrowed what i could find from the library. i googled some of delerue's music the night before last and listened to a few minutes from a handful of soundtracks.

number six. jack nicholson won best actor twice: in the 48th academy awards on march 29, 1976 for one flew over the cuckoo's nest; in the 70th academy awards on march 23, 1998 for as good as it gets.

i borrowed one flew over the cuckoo's nest from the library.

(belated) tuesday topics: eight. unusual characters from film

March 30, 2018

one. henry roth. played by billy crudup in dedication
two. owen. played by sam rockwell in the way way back.
three. vivian walker. played by ashley judd and ellen burstyn in divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood.
four. edward magorium. played by dustin hoffman in mr. magorium's wonder emporium.
five. desmond doss. played by andrew garfield in hacksaw ridge.
six. forrest bondurant. played by tom hardy in lawless.
seven. the narrator. played by edward norton in fight club.
eight. nawal marwan. played by lubna azabal in incendies.

this is the way i pray

March 20, 2018

i'm pretty sure i'm not the woman god wants me to be. i'm convinced of this on a daily basis. at a quarter past six almost every tuesday night i drive nineteen miles from conroe to montgomery to go to bible study that meets for ninety minutes beginning at seven p.m. why does it take forty-five minutes to drive nineteen miles on a divided highway that's got three lanes for traffic in each direction? why does it take the better part of an hour to drive less than twenty miles? because people are selfish bastards. they don't want to be behind anyone else. they don't want anyone cutting in front of them. they don't want to go any faster than the posted speed limit of fifty-five miles per hour on that well-constructed highway that's wider than a river because they don't want to get a ticket. but they'll be damned if they move over for you. they won't slow down to let you go by. they won't speed up and risk getting that ticket. they're perfectly content to pace the fucker next to them and block traffic so everyone else gets caught at all the lights with them. they follow just closely enough so that it's impossible to wedge your vehicle between theirs and someone else's.

i am not a patient woman. and the stupid vision issues with which i have been blessed make driving in a pack of metal at fifty-five miles per hour with little to no way out should an accident occur create in me a sensation of anxiety i do not desire to know. i am not a kind woman, and my lack of patience and kindness is never more evident than when i am making that nineteen-mile trek to montgomery.

when i googled the distance i was shocked to know it was only nineteen miles. it feels a HELL of a lot longer.

interestingly enough, the journey to the church this evening was definitely one of the more peaceable ones. this could be because i ran a couple of yellows to avoid getting stuck again when, thanks to the grace of god, i'd managed to extract myself from the pack and put some good distance between us. and maybe i was going sixty. maybe.

usually the ride home is pleasant. that was not the case today. i changed lanes like i was driving in a nascar race. i rode people's asses. in those moments when i saw an opportunity to get by someone, another car would fill that hole, and i'd be stuck again. and none of these drivers were going over fifty. all of them were going the same damned speed.

i want to be the kind of woman god wants me to be. i want to be gracious and patient and kind and good. i know i'm capable of these things. but so often, the lesser demons prevail. i want to be the kind of woman who isn't practically foaming at the mouth and ranting at others with whom i'm sharing the road. i want to be the one who's not screaming GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY even though the only ones to hear me are me and god.

i want the goodness i get from those ninety minutes to last longer than ninety seconds once i've walked out into the night and headed for home. for my heart and mind, my eyes and ears to be open to the lord's will and word.

one of the things mentioned tonight was we are encouraged to hate evil. not the person doing the evil, but the evil itself.

hate's not the answer, and i don't believe god wants us to hate, anyway. i think he wants us to love. i'm not good at loving. i'm good at being hateful. maybe that's why it's difficult for me to believe he would want me to hate anything. it always feels wrong when i do it. i never like myself when i am being hateful. ever. and yet... put me on the highway, and i can't be anything but hateful.

that is not the woman i want to be. that isn't anything close to resembling the woman i want to be.

i want to be fearless. i want to fear less. i want to be able to employ those tactics for safe driving that i learned in high school -- the safe distance, the constant vigilance... the yielding of the right of way. to demonstrate love in my life. i want to have joy in hope and patience in affliction and faithfulness in prayer.

sunday i drove to tyler to find something in that town with earl campbell's name on it. the distance from tyler to hawkins, where i lived from the time was i was three to eight, is about nineteen miles. i'd only been to hawkins once since we moved away, and it's been so long ago that my only memory of that visit is the auditorium at the high school. so i made that twenty-minute trek (which is how long it should take to travel about twenty miles), went to my old school and my old house and had dinner at some restaurant there. i let the waitress surprise me with my order. i told her to order what she felt was the best item on the menu. she served me fajitas, which is not a thing i order, but they were good. i liked them.

in bible study tonight, one of the girls said that she had a friend who would pray, god surprise me.

i want to be surprised. i want this life of mine to feel more purposeful. i want to feel like i'm contributing, like i'm doing the work he wants me to do. like i'm using my voice for good. like i'm not wasting it to curse the folks in the cars next to me.

i want to find a pair of women's jeans that can accommodate the width of my hips without sliding off of them. i want my car out of the shop (i'm driving a rental right now -- which i almost wrecked on the way home this evening, by the way) because some dude hauling a flatbed of pallets stacked to high clipped the right fender of my car at a gas station (i was standing at the pump, getting ready to fill the tank and watched, dumbfounded, as that trailer tore the bumper off). when i'm renting a car (on the day of my older's death, by the way) and i tell the clerk that it's the anniversary of my brother's death and i need this process to go smoothly, i want him not to be confrontational and condescending.

one of the songs playing at that restaurant sunday night was brad paisley's i thought i loved you then. when i hear a song like that, when i hear a story like the one told in that song, when a man can communicate the love he feels for another in such a way as to be sweet and good and loving, when it inspires in me a sense of wonder, i want to be happy that a man could feel that way for a woman and not be afraid to admit it. i want to be happy for the woman receiving such admiration. i want my initial reaction not to be sadness and jealousy and to mutter things like even happy country songs are depressing. and when a friend questions whether a happy country song exists, i want to refrain from replying: it's sweet and good and sentimental... and just the sort of thing that could make a single gal want to clobber a couple, and the damned steel guitar makes me want to snatch that thing out of some dude's hands, yank the strings off and wrap them around his throat.

when a handsome man walks into my place of work, i want to be able to speak to him without being anxious or seeming flirtatious. i want to be able to talk to him like he's any other customer. i want to be able to appreciate those physical attributes that are worthy of attention without cataloging all those i lack.

on the rare occasion a man asks to meet me for dinner or drinks, i want that man to be interesting and attractive to me.

a couple of weeks ago i was hired to write an article about a man who manages a cycle shop in the area because so much of that shop's business comes from recommendation... word of mouth... the encouragement of others.

when i'm tasked with an assignment like this, i want the wheels to be greased so well they spin effortlessly. i was chosen to write this story. i'm happy -- excited and honored -- to do it. i want to be able to do it in such a manner as to prove to those who have given me the opportunity that they weren't wrong to do so. but i am being met with reluctance and am frustrated because of it. that reluctance and frustration just feeds the ire i so often feel. i want the fire in my being not to be an inferno but a source of warmth and light.

i want less hate and more love in the world. i know that starts with me, but oh, how quickly i forget. i want to remember.

tueday topics: nine. unusual album titles


armchair apocrypha. andrew bird.
underwater sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation). counting crows.
flavors of entanglement. alanis morissette.
the melody and the energetic nature of volume. evans blue.
downward is heavenward. hum.
under the iron sea. keane.
this is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about. modest mouse.
phantom punch. sondre lerche.
sailing the seas of cheese. primus.

tuesday topics: ten. unusual song titles

March 13, 2018

one. late nineties bedroom rock for the missionaries. broken social scene.
two. unintentional tape manipulators. earlimart.
three. battlestar scralachtica. incubus.
four. my heart is the burns on the street. marah.
five. i'm totally not down with rob's alien. minus the bear.
six. we have a map of the piano. mum.
seven. polar nettles. neko case.
eight. well thought out twinkies. silversun pickups.
nine. silo lullaby. toad the wet sprocket.
ten. building a boat from the board in your eyes. what made milwaukee famous.

these are ten from my library that struck me as a little bizarre. what are some in your collection that strike you as unusual? share a link to your list in the comments.

tuesday topics: the next batch -- the unusuals edition

March 5, 2018

so for this batch, i want you to think of the most unusual individuals or things for each category...

ten. song titles.
nine. album titles
eight. characters from film.
seven. film and/or television soundtracks or scores.
six. film, book and/or television program titles.
five. characters from literature.
four. setting locales of novels, television programs and/or film.
three. characters from television. 
two. costumes from films.
one. plot twist in literature, television or film.

tuesday topics will resume march thirteenth.

six things to celebrate in march

March 3, 2018

i've changed things up a bit, and for the sake of my sanity (because i've made this one a bit more convoluted, i'm forgoing spelling out numbers with regards to the dates, even though it goes against my obsessive compulsive tendencies... whatever). there's a LOT of dates in this one. i hope i don't confuse the crap out of yall. all of the information i'm sharing in this post was acquired from on this day: history, film, music and sport.


one. ludwig van beethoven had his first debut performance as a pianist on march 29, 1795 in vienna. first performances: fourth symphony in b -- march 5, 1807; missa solemnis -- march 26, 1824; string quartet no. 13 in b flat major (op 130) -- march 21, 1826. he died march 26, 1827; three days later, 20,000 attended his burial in vienna.

the task: pick ONE of the pieces mentioned here, play it three times -- first with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed, and on the third, write down the things you imagine as you listen -- maybe your high school teachers did this sort of thing during english class. my junior teacher was really fond of this kind of writing assignment. share what you wrote with the rest of the class -- and DON'T worry about writing style and grammatical correctness. just write. let your mind wander. where does the music take you?


two. tennessee williams and edward albee were born on march 26, 1911 and march 12, 1928, respectively. elizabeth taylor won a golden globe march 10, 1960 for her performance as catherine holly in the film version of williams' suddenly last summer. she divorced eddie fisher on march 6, 1964 and married richard burton nine days later. taylor and burton starred in the film version of albee's who's afraid of virginia woolf? she starred with paul newman, who, by the way, won best actor in the 59th academy awards for his role in the color of money, in williams' cat on a hot tin roof.

the task: watch ONE of the three: suddenly last summer; who's afraid of virginia woolf; cat on a hit tin roof. what are the two best lines of dialogue in the film; what two things make the film noteworthy?

three. vincent van gogh caused a sensation with 71 of his paintings at a show in paris on march 17, 1901 -- eleven years after his death. his sunflowers sold for a record 22.5 million pounds ($39.7 million) on march 30, 1987.

the task: find and view the van gogh armchair travel exhibition on screen: van gogh - a new way of seeing. what three things did you learn about the artist from that production? what's your favorite of his paintings? share three things you love about that work.

four. kerouac, campbell, sedaris... jack kerouac, aaron eckhart and dave eggers were born on march twelfth of 1922, 1968 and 1970, respectively. earl campbell, perry farrell, amy sedaris and billy beane were born on the twenty-ninth of march in 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1962.

the task: pick THREE of these celebrities and learn FOUR new things about each of them. read a book or watch a movie that is about them or stars them. if you live in texas, for example, campbell was born in tyler. make a trek to that town and find a statue or mural or SOMETHING the town loves to show off about him. i'm giving yall free rein to interpret this task in a way that suits your abilities and interests. but you must share FOUR things (lines of dialogue or text from a novel, lyric or script... four facts new to you... SOMETHING) of your choosing for EACH of the three.

five. delerue and silvestri. georges delerue and alan silvestri were born on march 12, 1925 and march 23, 1950, respectively.

the task: watch films (FIVE for each, if you can) whose scores were composed by either gentleman. whose music do you prefer? give me five reasons why one's better than the other.

six. jack nicholson won best actor twice: in the 48th academy awards on march 29, 1976 for one flew over the cuckoo's nest; in the 70th academy awards on march 23, 1998 for as good as it gets.


the task: watch BOTH films. share six lines you love from each. give six reasons why you prefer his performance in one film over the other.

the least of my brethren

February 25, 2018

friday started out well enough. work then pappadeaux's to kill time -- ericka had written a post about the eight songs to which she wanted to see skaters perform in the olympics, and i was going through my itunes library, writing down the songs i'd include in a post: boom boom by big head todd and the monsters; the devil went down to georgia by the charlie daniels band; you haven't seen the last of me by cher; arms by christina perri; a common disaster by cowboy junkies; too late for love by def leppard. i'd intended to tackle this post at some point, and maybe i will some day because it's just my kind of thing, but... i stopped at three because a friend was allowing me to tag along to the mercyme concert at smart financial center in sugar land that night, and i needed to go get ready. her oldest daughter wasn't able to go; my friend's husband suggested she give the ticket to me. wasn't that nice?

so christian music isn't something to which i normally listen. i have a few albums: hillsong united; audrey assad; ellie holcomb; michael w. smith. that's about it.

i'd heard the song i can only imagine before. i hadn't known of the sources of inspiration for that song until i'd seen the trailer a few months ago. it's a film i'm eager to see, actually. but it still didn't dawn on me that the song and the band were connected. that's how in tune i am to christian music.

it was a good show. i'd recommend catching their act if you can. what i loved most about the event was when the lead singer would talk about the things that had inspired him to write songs that were more important to him, like i can only imagine. like even if.

my left leg's been bothering me quite a bit lately. and i know i'm to blame for some of the cause: i've bitched about what it's like to have cerebral palsy and major depressive disorder enough on here before, so i won't regale you with the biological and lifestyle factors again. it hurts to walk right now. a lot.

by the end of the night i was limping. horribly. my friends had left because they were eager to get to their hotel (they were leaving early the next morning to drive to san antonio, and their younger daughters are in elementary school). it was near midnight. i was eager to get off my feet. to get home. to down some advil and rub some ben-gay all over my knee (that shit reeks, yall; i hate using it... but i didn't give a damn about the stench just then). they were selling cds in the lobby for five bucks. i stood in line. waiting my turn to grab a few -- i'd gotten lifer free for sponsoring a child through world vision (one could argue that i'll be paying forty dollars a month for the thing because of that sponsorship, so it's not really free, but... whatever). i fished twenty dollars out of my wallet to pay for two cds: the hurt and the healer and a best of compilation called i can only imagine.

but the song i most wanted to hear was on the lifer album: even if.

his oldest son has type one diabetes. the singer had written it after a particularly bad day.

god, when you choose to leave mountains unmovable
give me the strength to be able to sing it is well with my soul
i know you're able, and i know you can
save through the fire with you mighty hand
but even if you don't...

during the performance of this song that night, i wept. i wept because i thought of how difficult their son's days might be, how difficult their days might be. i wept because i thought of all the battles my parents have fought for me. all the times they've had to push to get what i needed when i wasn't strong enough or willing to push myself. of how there must certainly have been more of those times than not.

when i bought those two cds, i was so eager to hear them, so eager to get out of that crowded arena -- even so close to midnight -- to hobble across the parking lot to my car that i didn't want to wait for my change. i told the man who took it to apply to the next person's cd purchase, turned and pushed my way past the others, pushed the doors open and walked out into the night. alone, like i so often am.

thankfully, a woman saw me struggling to cross the pavement, asked if i were okay and offered to give me a ride to my car. she was driving a white van full of adolescent girls. she was eager to get the door for me, to help me inside, to help me out... it was more help than i needed, and i was grateful for it. she wondered why i didn't have a handicapped plate.

i don't want one yet, i said. there are too many days where i don't look like i have a disability, and i don't want to deal with the reactions from others who might be offended to see me park in such a place. and really, i don't want one. i'm doing the best i can to live as normal a life as possible. that plate would only serve to encourage me to take advantage of things i don't need or want.

i drove home with that song on repeat. i cried the whole way.

i had it on repeat saturday, too. went to pappadeaux's to work on a bible study (one of the things the speaker had mentioned last week was that god doesn't owe you happiness; that may not be his plan for you. i've been trying to come to terms with this.) i read up on an individual who's made quite a name for himself in the publishing world because one of the professors at the local college here wants me to interview this man. it's been quite some time since i've grilled people. i was good at it. this professor and a colleague of his relayed this input to my father: we both think she is the best interview journalist we have ever worked with.

it pleases me immensely that these men think so highly of my work that they would say such a thing, would ask me to conduct this interview. i feel so fortunate that i've been given the opportunity. but also, i'm supremely intimidated. so... sitting at deaux's, reading up on this man, occupying two bar stools (my left leg's elevated on one because the pain was worse saturday than it'd been the day before).

i'd sat at three different locations at the bar saturday. first in my usual spot. i'd gotten up to use the restroom, and when i returned, a gentleman had sat on the stool i'd been using to prop up my leg, so i gathered my things and relocated. i like to sit by the taps, and all those seats were occupied, so i moved again when another seat by one of them came available. i sat in that third spot for the rest of the evening.

i've got my leg propped on a stool in front of the tap, where people don't normally like to sit. a woman sits to the left of that stool, then proceeds to set her gigantic and heavy bag on my leg, looks at me and asks if it's okay that she put her purse there. i glare at her and tell her that there are hooks beneath the bar top, that i need the stool because my leg is hurt. she bitches to her spouse about me while she hunts for the hook. throughout the course of her meal and for the remainder of my time there, she throws glances at me that make me uncomfortable. i do my best to ignore them.

it gets busy. the dinner time rush starts abnormally early -- before five. i wasn't expecting it. a couple notices that the barstool to my right is empty and asks if i could scoot over one so they could sit there. i tell them that i need this barstool because of my leg. he mutters something about how they were just asking.

fifteen minutes or so go by. they've still not found a place to sit. one of the bartenders comes up behind me and asks if i could scoot down.

here's the thing... all those experiences in my life where others have pushed me around, like the time my peers had said that i should go kill myself because the world would be better off without me in it or that i should go kill myself because i was taking up valuable air and space and there were more important people who needed it...

as much as i would love to brush this shit off, to bury it, i can't. one reason i can't is because of instances like these.

in my adolescence, i'd clung to the notion that life would be better for me once i became an adult. the reason i had this idea is because the adults in my parents' circles were respectable, respectful people. it never occurred to me that not all adults were this way. i was convinced ugliness was a thing one outgrew. i was convinced i would outgrow it because my father'd been telling me the story of the ugly duckling and how one day i'd be a swan since i was eight. i was convinced others would outgrow it because of who my mother and father knew.

but also... for so much of my life i've felt like one of those electrons floating out there that never attaches to anything. useless. when people give me such wonderful feedback, such great opportunity as those two men have, as others have, it's difficult for me to understand why so many more can't see the good in me. when they treat me as though i'm taking up valuable air and space needed by more important people.

i'm alone. saturday, i didn't mind this. saturday i was comfortable enough in my aloneness. that's a really hard thing for me to be, by the way. and it's so easy for that ease to evaporate.

the couple went to one of the bartenders and asked her to ask me to move. they are lurking nearby, waiting for me to vacate the premises.

i turn off my laptop, pack up my shit. as i'm doing so, i'm hearing that bartender talk to her coworkers about the couple who needs a place to sit. i call out that i'm leaving, they can have my spot.

moving is difficult. standing is worse. walking is excruciating. i move the barstools, stand, heft my backpack and haul it over a shoulder. the woman is standing behind me. her husband is a few feet away, leaning against a post. i glare at the woman and say sit in the meanest, coldest way i can. i hobble out. i relay these events to my mother, who says, again, that i need to put my past down.

she cleans out her garden tub, shows me the epsom salts and the lotions and says to get a glass of wine (beer, i say) and take a hot bath, to stay in there as long as i need and keep adding hot water as needed.

i cry. for a long time. i sing the words from that song over and over and over again.

i went to bed with those lyrics in mind. with the thought that as empathetic a woman as i can be, i should imagine scenarios in which people are struggling the next time i've to relinquish my ground: they've just come from the hospital and want sixty minutes of not being there, of not being in a room where his mother is hooked up to machines and not responding and they've just been told they may have to pull the plug... or they've just flown back from three days in north carolina after having to pack up a dead relative's house... or they just lost their son a few weeks ago, and the husband was taking his wife out even though she didn't want to go because he doesn't want her to have to cook and clean up the mess... i can fashion some pretty damned tragic scenarios, yall. i'm good at it. i need to get in the habit of doing it without putting pen to paper.

(it dawned on me just now that i've probably hopped back and forth from past to present tense several times in this post. fuck it.)

i awoke with miley cyrus' the climb in my head:

there's always gonna be another mountain
i'm always gonna wanna make it move
always gonna be an uphill battle
sometimes i'm gonna have to lose

i slathered ben gay on my leg again. ate my breakfast at the bar with my leg propped on a bar stool, moving a bag of frozen blackeyed peas from one spot to another to another.

i wasn't going to go to deaux's today. i was going to spend the day doing laundry and digging in the dozens of boxes stashed in my closet for my w-2, but i found it in the first box i tried.

so i dressed, packed up my shit and headed out. somewhere between my front door and deaux's, it dawned on me that maybe the least of my brethren doesn't mean the ones who live under freeways or in shelters or battle mental illnesses or physical disabilities much more significant than mine. the least of my brethren could be those people i've encountered in my life who aren't capable of showing others kindness or compassion. the least of my brethren could have been those peers who told me i should kill myself, that i was nothing. the ones who stand too close to me in public spaces. the ones who want to sit where i am. the ones whom i feel see me as though i am less than. those who gawk at me, who whisper to their friends or family about me as i hobble from one side of a room to the other.

i found a spot at the bar, opened up my bible to read. and caught myself staring at the number 3:12. three. twelve. the third month, the twelfth day. the day my older brother died. it's by itself, this 3:12. so i look to the line above and see that it's a passage from proverbs.

i'd come to deaux's on valentine's day, ash wednesday, to read my bible, to dig into the word. as i read those pages, i thought of all the times i'd failed in relationships with men. i flipped and flipped and flipped. the last one i'd come to was a bit from proverbs 4:23:

guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

my bible's one of those that has passages you can color. that day, i'd colored the words guard your heart. i cried as i did so because i've done a really shitty job of guarding my heart, and this is the course my life has taken. this one of anger and resentment and fear, of negligence and hopelessness and hatefulness.

and today when i flipped through it to find what i feel like my older brother, what god wanted me to see, and i saw those words again, i was sad.

and then i read proverbs 3:12:

for the lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.