the fall film challenge: my list

August 18, 2016

one. about adolescence. the outsiders.
two. about a character's rebirth or rite of passage. a guide to recognizing your saints.
three. about a comic book character. deadpool.
four. shot or set in washington, d.c. jason bourne.
five. set in an academic environment. clueless.
six. about failure. take this waltz.
seven. about a man vs. god or gods. the trojan women.
eight. about a man vs. himself. the big chill.
nine. about an invention or an ingenuous individual. flash of genius.
ten. set in a jail or prison. american history x.
eleven. about a dog. red dog.
twelve. about loss. truly madly deeply.
thirteen. about man vs. man. unbroken.
fourteen. about man vs. nature. deep water horizon.
fifteen. one that has a monster or monstrous individual. the hobbit: the desolation of smaug.
sixteen. shot or set in pennsylvania. flashdance.
seventeen. about a character's quest of some kind. the hobbit: battle of the five armies.
eighteen. about a character who goes from rags to riches. joy.
nineteen. about a man. vs. society. allied.
twenty. originally released in the thirties. mr. deeds goes to town.
twenty-one. about undesirable individuals or elements. ghostbusters.
twenty-two. about a voyage and return. the martian.
twenty-three. about wizards or witchcraft. fantastic beasts and where to find them.
twenty-four. originally released in the sixties. tom jones.
twenty-five. about a yearning or obsession. hugo.

wanna play along? details are here.

in response to anar nafisi's reading lolita in tehran

August 14, 2016

some twelve years ago, while hiding out in academia recovering from three dramatic events that occurred within a twelve month period, the greatest of which was the death of my older brother, i took a creative nonfiction writing course in which we were to write responses to the stories we read. one of those stories was reading lolita in tehran, which i strongly suggest you read if you've not already done so. this is what came from that:

I see myself as both villain and victim.

My apartment, and I’ve lost count as to how many of them in which I have lived, is lined with boxes of various sizes and misplaced furniture. I do not know if I move because the villain knows the victim is getting too close to knowing herself and insists that this not be the case. Or because the victim is too afraid of what and who she is. Or because she struggles to be free of the villain’s constraints and thinks, foolishly, if she moves, she will be rid of them.

I take them both with me—the villain and the victim.

The only thing I do here in this cell, with its pricey kitchen appliances, garden-style tub and Berber carpet, this cell I have stuffed with pieces from Restoration Hardware and Storehouse Furniture—I do not know who chooses the pieces, whether it’s the villain or victim attempting to make my prison seem more livable—the only thing I do here is sleep.

I am like the butterfly—or moth—nailed to a wall. For awhile, I was innocent, carefree, happy, beautiful. Then, at the age of eight, I became aware that I was not beautiful, because my peers were kind enough to point out my many physical short-comings. I became aware that I was fragile, clumsy, easily scarred both mentally and physically. I learned that my body was not made like everyone else’s and being different, however unintentional, was wrong.

Eventually, I learned not to wonder at the differences. I learned to hide them as best I could. I learned what things I should like and what things I shouldn’t. That even if one has all of the things that are “cool”, she is not necessarily so.

Nabokov wrote: “Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.” Why is it, upon reading this sentence, curiosity immediately seems wrong? Then, I think about it further and realize it isn’t wrong at all. It’s fabulous, really. My mother jokes that the first words I learned weren’t “Mama” or “Dada”, but “What would happen if…?”

To this day, I wonder.

I wonder what it would be like to be better. To be some character in one of my idol’s romance novels, like Margo, whose perfectly sculpted physique hides an amazing amount of insecurity, or Laura, whose femininity hides an amazing amount of strength, or Kate, whose abrasive persona hides an amazing amount of femininity. I have reread the tales of these three women numerous times, not because I see myself in any of the characters, but because I like them the best and because, just for a second, I can escape the monotony and ugliness of my own colorless world.

But I am not myself when I read. I am a ghost, a shadow, a voyeur of some contrived reality.

I am only myself when I write. But the villain only lets me see so much of me at once. Or is it the victim that does?

You describe Lolita as a “small, vulgar, poetic, and defiant, orphaned heroine.” I read that and thought, briefly, you might be describing me. I can’t be certain, because, of course, I am not certain of who I am, but there are times I would use most of those words to describe me. I am small. Not physically, really. I am nearly 5’8, which is fairly tall for a woman. But I am* the smallest person in my family—the shortest, the lightest—and so I feel small. Few people in this world could doubt the vulgarity of my tongue and actions. I have done things in my life I feel an immense hatred towards myself for doing, the most vulgar of which is having given in to the constraints of society’s whims and, thus, losing myself. I like to think of myself as poetic, though I wonder if this is true. Defiant? Sometimes, I am certain I can be. Orphaned? I would say yes to this as well, though my parents still inhabit this Earth, still claim me as their own. But the world has rejected me and I have rejected myself. So, I am no heroine.

Manna identified Nassrin as a “contradiction of terms”. I am a contradiction, too, but only because I do not know who I am, and, thus, my identity changes, as do my moods, on a daily basis. You describe Nassrin as a Cheshire cat. And so am I.

You say a person becomes a villain because he or she never wonders, never is curious about anything but himself. That is another reason why I say I am a villain. Because I can be selfish. Because my curiosity can be quite limited to things that concern me and only me. I do not wonder why the world turns so much as why mine turns in such an ugly way. I have to remind myself to ask my friends how their worlds turn after having vented for many minutes as to how mine does.

You write: “They invaded all private spaces and tried to shape every gesture, to force us to become one of them, and that in itself was another form of execution.” I feel, much of the time that I died many years ago. That my body clings to this Earth simply because it is stronger than my soul. I died because I forgot what it was to be myself. Because I chose to value others’ definitions of me as opposed to my own. I was talking to my mother about this book earlier. Asked her to pick one word to define me that encompassed every aspect of my personality. Her word was “effervescent”, because when I’m in a good mood, I’m bubbly. When I’m in a bad one, I’m still bubbly, but the bottle is corked and bound to explode. I told her that I didn’t know if I could choose one word that sufficiently described me because I don’t know me. She reminded me that a counselor I’d seen in the seventh grade had said I knew myself. Maybe I did then. Maybe. But somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten. Somewhere along the way, my soul grew weary and eventually slept.

You say, often, throughout the second part of the book that you felt irrelevant. I have felt irrelevant since I was eight years old. Nothing, nothing I do seems to matter. Nothing inspires me to feel that my life is worthwhile. For twenty-two years I have struggled to find some reason for my being here. Always trying, always reaching. Always falling short, always failing. How does one cope with this? 

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster”—Nietzsche. I fought monsters as a child: my peers, who thought I was worthless and told me so at every opportunity, that the world would be better off without me in it; my teachers, who had no idea how to reach me and, sometimes, gave up, recommending that I be placed in special education classes. Had I not been so intelligent, had my parents not had so much faith in me, those few teachers would have gotten their way, and I would never have graduated from high school, never gotten a college degree, never had the opportunity to consider going to graduate school. I would have found a way to let my body sleep with my soul a long time ago. But I forced myself to go to school every day and fought them. I was not so careful, though, in protecting myself from becoming one, for I am as judgmental, as shallow as my peers were, and bitter, too.

Now, I see myself as an irrelevant, monstrous, villainous victim.

Perhaps the only reason my body survives is because somewhere, in some cell, there is this notion that eventually, my soul will wake and rejoice. But as I grow older, I become more resolved to my former peers’ insistence that I am, in fact, worthless.

I take these thoughts home, to my cell, each night.

And the only way I sleep is by taking two Tylenol PM tablets.

*at the time this was written, this was true. now? not so much.

i was thirty-one then. i am forty-three now. i wish i could say i felt differently about life but the only difference between that version of myself and this one is that my cell is now a room in my parents' house because solitary confinement was killing me.

the week or two in review

August 1, 2016

wednesday, july twentieth. dental appointment for cleaning (which i'd put off because i'm an idiot); purchase two new tires to replace the baldest two of the four i've been spinning for months. made smidge of a down payment on wheels because mercy bocephus (my car) has hubcaps, and they're pretty lame. got his oil changed and his windshield wipers replaced, and then he got a bath. all this took several hours, during which i had subway for lunch (it's been YEARS since i've eaten at subway, yall... i'm blaming the shit end to the day on the fact that i chose that establishment for filling my belly... maybe going there upset my world's karmic balance or something... i've been thinking a lot on choices for the best week or two, so...) i took a copy of that week's newspaper to a friend. and then i got a phone call from a human resources associate at the houston chronicle, which recently acquired the company for which i once worked, thereby making me reapply for my job, to learn that my services were basically no longer needed, and so i would not be transitioning to their staff.

monday, july twenty-fifth. i learn the flexible spending account i'd established the year before and requested the absolute maximum contributions be deducted from my paycheck each month and placed on the card i'd received would be canceled on the day my employment with the company would be terminated... thursday, july twenty-eighth. i had nine hundred dollars on that card. i'd set aside the money because i had dental work that i wanted done that i'd put off because i'm an idiot. i check with my dentist to see if it's possible that he could squeeze in some time to see me because it's NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS i'm losing, and i know there's work to be done, and surely, he'd see this as an emergency. no joy.

wednesday, july twenty-seventh. i get the day off from work and go to my dentist to check one more time. still no joy. so i find another one who can see me and can find work that needs to be done because i'm an idiot who smoked cigarettes like a fiend once upon a time (DON'T SMOKE YALL, if only because all the sugar in those damned rolls of tobacco will seriously mess your mouth up and make you have to spend a shit ton of money on crowns and root canals) and guzzle dr. pepper like they're going to stop producing it tomorrow so get it while i can. so yeah, there's work to be done. turns out i've got not one but THREE CAVITIES and one of them's so bad (this would be one of those teeth that had had a root canal) that it'd have to be extracted. how much does all this work cost? TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. thank god for flexible spending accounts. i spent every penny of it wednesday.

thursday, july twenty-eighth. end of days. i has a sad.

friday, july twenty-ninth. half past seven a.m. bright-eyed and bushy-tailed i go to the new dentist (the one who actually did want my money, thank you very much, and did give a shit about the condition of my mouth) who yanks out the errant tooth. without anesthesia, yall. i got shots, sure. lots of shots. but i was AWAKE while he yanked that bitch out, and it took HOURS. my brain was going off on some VERY interesting tangents. it was kind of creepy.

saturday, july thirtieth. babysat the wonder twins. they are now seven. i miss them being little. so much.

sunday, july thirty-first. brother, his wife, her sister and her sister's daughter came over to swim and cook. it was a nice day. except for the fact that the pain meds i was prescribed fixed it so i couldn't keep food down. good times.

monday, august first. babysat the wonder twins again. they were godawful difficult. this would be one of those days where i'm SO SO glad i don't have kids. also one of those where i feel horribly guilty about being glad about that.

ran into some of my parents friends at pappadeaux's. they are well-loved. they are well-loving, generally as a rule. their children are all happily established in their lives for the most part. they've had a clear vision of what they want and how to get it.

i've never had that. not really.

watched thirteen going on thirty again. sometimes i wish i could go back to that one moment in my life and make the right choice, so that my life could be what it was meant to be. because god knows i have no idea what that is. i keep grasping at things, and they keep getting snatched from me.

a room without windows

July 20, 2016

my mother says that i am the strongest woman she knows. she is not the sort of woman who is biased where her children are concerned. she could tell you, with absolutely no effort or remorse, of every flaw and failure in her sons and daughter. she would have no trouble doing this. none. she will tell you that i will lie to your face, that i am frivolous with money, that i am crude and irresponsible and selfish and lazy... she can rattle off with great ease every shortcoming, every negative attribute i possess. that one compliment, though... that's like hope amid all the ugliness in pandora's box.

i bruise easily. it's almost pathetic how quickly and marvelously those bruises will form. and i know there are times where i've thought that perhaps some of those bruises were caused by brokenness. maybe they were.

i keep thinking of what my friend minn told me once, long ago, that a broken bone tends to heal so that it is stronger than it had been before.

another door has closed for me. another person has deemed me insufficient in some capacity. and so i am here again... in a room that seems to have no windows. a box, like the one my third grade teacher put me in so she wouldn't have to see me. 

too often i feel as though the world doesn't want me in it. i'm tired of fighting. i'm tired of having to prove myself. to convince someone that i'm worthy. i'm tired of trying to find and claim a place. and i know that i will get up again tomorrow and make as concerted effort as i can to fulfill the obligations that are expected of me. sometimes i'm just tired of being strong. i really just want to lean for a while. 

because the film challenge isn't a lofty enough goal

July 12, 2016


i have never finished my own damned film challenge. but that IS happening this year. it is.

today i learned that some dude made himself watch julie and julia every day for a year AND blog about it. i am not going to be doing that. one) because while i can appreciate that film, there is NO WAY IN HELL i'd want to see it more than five times. two) i'm doing my own damned film challenge AND erin's book challenge AND battling a heinous bout of depression and... blah blah blah. three) i have an exemplary tendency to obsess, but even i have my limits.

however, outside of the film challenge, the thought of testing myself to see how many times i could watch AND blog about one film intrigues me. and so i put these questions to you:

one) IF i could watch ONLY one movie for one year which of the following do you think i would pick: 

about time. apollo thirteen. the avengers. the count of monte cristo. dedication. dogma. the family stone. a few good men. five hundred days of summer. for love of the game. the great raid. good will hunting. the help. the hundred foot journey. jay and silent bob strike back. life as a house. life or something like it. lone survivor. the lord of the rings trilogy (the director's cut). marley and me. memoirs of a geisha. miracle. mr. magorium's wonder emporium. ocean's eleven. pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl. playing by heart. saving private ryan. seabiscuit. the secret life of walter mitty. serenity. sleepless in seattle. spy game. star trek. star wars: episodes four through six. steel magnolias. a time to kill. tombstone. trainwreck. when harry met sally. you've got mail.

two) how many times in that year do you think i would be capable of watching it?

i know. everbody does this, so why don't i? it's not meant to be trite or cliche, but i know full well that it is. i may not even do it. there's a part of me that cries out this has been done before, you silly girl. but the thing is, i haven't done it. i know there are films i've seen more than twenty times. easily, and a number of them. but i can't confirm the count.

i've seen star trek twenty times in theaters, a test to see if i could beat my record of watching pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl eighteen times. i did it. amazingly enough i can still watch those films, and happily. i never tire of them. but that's the thing... i never tire of film. i could watch star trek twenty times in a week, easily. assuming i had absolutely nothing else to do, of course. that said, i'm sure i could see any of the above films as many times.

so... which should i watch, and how often?

the fall film challenge: picky recommends-the third installment

July 10, 2016

eighteen. about a character who goes from rags to riches.
the count of monte cristo. seabiscuit. burnt. trading places. cinderella man. the shawshank redemption. the hundred foot journey. ocean's eleven. the blind side. pretty woman. a knight's tale. office space. invincible. the pursuit of happyness. mr. deeds. cinderella. annie.

nineteen. about a man. vs. society.
divergent. v for vendetta. the hunger games. schindler's list. the giver. serenity. the help. a time to kill. the last samurai. sleepers. lone survivor. philadelphia. glory road. the painted veil. creation. the shawshank redemption. murder in the first. pump up the volume. donnie brasco. pay it forward. charlotte gray. the great raid. a few good men. the last of the mohicans. boondock saints. gangster squad. the dark knight. dead poets society.

twenty. originally released in the thirties.
gone with the wind. snow white and the seven dwarves. it happened one night. the wizard of oz. 

twenty-one. about undesirable individuals or elements.
fear and loathing in las vegas. the silence of the lambs. the help. a walk among the tombstones. the dark knight. sleepers. the count of monte cristo. se7en. jay and silent bob strike back. a time to kill. the client. the usual suspects. dogma. philadelphia. glory road. tombstone. fried green tomatoes. terms of endearment. gangster squad. sliding doors. a love song for bobby long. pump up the volume. major league. dedication. trainwreck.

twenty-two. about a voyage and return.
captain phillips. star wars: episodes four through six. hell or high water. star trek (2009). finding nemo. pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl. cast away. wind. back to the future. chasing mavericks. charlie st. cloud.

twenty-three. about wizards or witchcraft.
the lord of the rings trilogy. the wizard of oz. the harry potter series. practical magic. mr. magorium's wonder emporium. the sorcerer's apprentice. labyrinth. mary poppins.

twenty-four. originally released in the sixties.
becket. the sound of music. anne of the thousand days. the taming of the shrew. who's afraid of virginia woolf? romeo and juliet. camelot. my fair lady. cleopatra. mary poppins.

twenty-five. about a yearning or obsession.
the lord of the rings trilogy. sleeping with the enemy. the count of monte cristo. vertigo. incendies. the the terminator. closer. terminator two: judgment day. memoirs of a geisha. the silence of the lambs. the dark knight. sleepers. burnt. pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl. fight club. unbreakable. creation. serenity. batman begins. seabiscuit. giant. saint ralph. chasing mavericks. rudy. gone with the wind. the notebook. five hundred days of summer. fever pitch. boondock saints.

the fall film challenge: picky recommends-the second installment

July 9, 2016

nine. about an invention or an ingenuous individual.
apollo thirteen. creation. real genius. moneyball. a beautiful mind. the theory of everything. julie and julia. back to the future. willy wonka and the chocolate factory. the imitation game. iron man.

ten. set in a jail or prison.
incendies. sleepers. a time to kill. the count of monte cristo. the silence of the lambs. murder in the first. the shawshank redemption. dead man walking. the rock. 

eleven. about a dog.
marley and me. iron will. turner and hooch. eight below. the fox and the hound.

twelve. about loss.
beaches. steel magnolias. incendies. you're not you. about time. lone survivor. saving private ryan. the vow. dead poets society. life as a house. philadelphia. we bought a zoo. creation. marley and me. a river runs through it. we are marshall. the count of monte cristo. if i stay. people like us. what dreams may come. the family stone. love happens. the painted veil. a walk to remember. fried green tomatoes. the last samurai. one day. terms of endearment. woman in gold. charlotte gray. mr. magorium's wonder emporium. the notebook. a few good men. a good year. no reservations. five hundred days of summer. mystic river. step mom. eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. ghost. regarding henry. extremely loud and incredibly close. he's just not that into you. premonition. the bourne identity. passengers. fifty first dates. p.s. i love you. catch and release. delores claiborne. big fish.

thirteen. about man vs. man.
lone survivor. sleepers. the lord of the rings trilogy. star wars: episodes four through six. the count of monte cristo. a time to kill. cinderella man. schindler's list. murder in the first. the shawshank redemption. a few good men. silence of the lambs. the great raid. seven. the help. philadelphia. the lincoln lawyer. saving private ryan. the last samurai. the usual suspects. full metal jacket. three:ten to yuma. donnie brasco. spy game. dead poets society. serenity. the client. tombstone. gangster squad. the pelican brief. heat. top gun. charlotte gray. the way way back. becket. turner and hooch. divergent. star trek (2009). boondock saints. pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl. bad words. the princess bride. lethal weapon. real genius. die hard. young guns. ferris bueller's day off. labyrinth. anne of a thousand days.

fourteen. about man vs. nature.
iron will. cast away. eight below. 

fifteen. one that has a monster or monstrous individual.
interview with the vampire: the vampire chronicles. the terminator. the lord of the rings trilogy. terminator two: judgement day. the avengers. thor: the dark world. i am number four. thor: the dark knight. the harry potter series. star wars: episodes four through six. incendies. se7en. gangster squad. the silence of the lambs. the lincoln lawyer. a walk among the tombstones. the help. sleepers. the little mermaid. a time to kill. beauty and the beast. schindler's list. sleeping beauty. the three musketeers. star trek (2009). snow white and the seven dwarves.

sixteen. shot or set in pennsylvania.
the avengers. philadelphia. marley and me. the silence of the lambs. dogma. twelve monkeys. the fault in our stars. the sixth sense. my girl. school ties. i am number four. unbreakable. 

seventeen. about a character's quest of some kind.
incendies. the secret life of walter mitty. lone survivor. saving private ryan. the lord of the rings trilogy. star wars: episodes four through six. the great raid. serenity. labyrinth. star trek (2009). apollo thirteen. the never-ending story. master and commander: the far side of the world. pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl. the hunt for red october. twelve monkeys. the count of monte cristo. patton. the matrix. space cowboys. the harry potter series. salmon fishing in the yemen. dogma. x-men: days of future past. clash of the titans. thor: the dark world. a knight's tale. the terminator. life or something like it. terminator two: judgment day. captain america: the first avenger. smokey and the bandit. jay and silent bob strike back. tombstone. charlotte gray. the painted veil.  the hundred foot journey. woman in gold. chocolat. three: ten to yuma. field of dreams. ocean's twelve. chasing mavericks. sleepless in seattle. bad words. stand by me. the fault in our stars. stand by me. thor. little miss sunshine. boondock saints. 

the fall film challenge: picky recommends-the first installment

July 8, 2016

one. about adolescence.
dead poets society. dangerous minds. stand by me. pump up the volume. life as a house. the way way back. the fault in our stars. she's all that. the breakfast club. saint ralph. ferris bueller's day off. ten things i hate about you. the karate kid. sixteen candles. the duff. chasing mavericks. some kind of wonderful. fast times at ridgemont high. back to the future. can't buy me love. dazed and confused.

two. about a character's rebirth or rite of passage.
good will hunting. shawshank redemption. burnt. stand by me. cinderella man. seabiscuit. a beautiful mind. playing by heart. life as a house. the way way back. the count of monte cristo. people like us. the last samurai. salmon fishing in the yemen. the judge. you're not you. mr. magorium's wonder emporium. trainwreck. a good year. the painted veil. life or something like it. no reservations. love happens. one day. the devil wears prada. pieces of april. the mirror has two faces. parenthood. invincible. we bought a zoo. the blind side. rudy. chocolat. crazy stupid love. this is where i leave you. about a boy. catch and release. the taming of the shrew. big eyes.

three. about a comic book character.
the avengers. x-men: days of future past. the dark knight. x-men: first class. men in black three. superman returns. batman. thor: the dark world. captain america: the first avenger. x2: x-men united. ironman. x-men. men in black. thor. captain america: winter soldier. v for vendetta. batman begins. men in black two. the punisher.

four. shot or set in washington, d.c.
a few good men. the silence of the lambs. the emperor's club. the pelican brief. the bourne legacy. thank you for smoking. argo. x-men: days of future past. breach. x-men: first class. captain america: winter soldier. x2: x-men united. in the line of fire. x-men. the american president. the rock. born yesterday. st. elmo's fire. clear and present danger. patriot games. chances are.

five. set in an academic environment.
dead poets society. with honors. stand and deliver. dangerous minds. pump up the volume. lean on me. the program. good will hunting. saint ralph. a beautiful mind. real genius. the mirror has two faces. she's all that. about a boy. ten things i hate about you. the blind side. parenthood. the mighty. school ties. the breakfast club. rudy. ferris bueller's day off. sixteen candles. can't buy me love. some kind of wonderful. back to the future. the karate kid. the duff. mean girls. chasing mavericks. fast times at ridgemont high. dazed and confused.

six. about failure.
incendies. se7en. full metal jacket. with honors. dangerous minds. a river runs through it. murder in the first. proof. closer. who's afraid of virginia woolf? burnt. sleepers. gross anatomy. on the waterfront. the emperor's club. a streetcar named desire. elizabethtown. the way we were. everybody's fine. mystic river. american beauty. the life of david gale. black swan. 

seven. about a man vs. god or gods.
ben hur. thor: the dark world. dogma. thor. clash of the titans. o brother where art thou. bruce almighty. oh god! percy jackson and the olympians: the lightning thief. meet joe black. troy. the grapes of wrath. 

eight. about a man vs. himself.
good will hunting. seabiscuit. a beautiful mind. tombstone. burnt. walk the line. for love of the game. people like us. the last samurai. trainwreckdonnie brasco. the secret life of walter mitty. the judge. salmon fishing in the yemen. mr. magorium's wonder emporium. with honors. a good year. one day. love happens. the program.

praise and gratitude

July 7, 2016

let's start with the boy i knew in high school freshman year. one of the girls in my art class, which was right before lunch, had noticed that if i ate in the cafeteria, i was always by myself, and if i wasn't in the cafeteria, i was hiding in the band hall. so she invited me to sit at her table. she was a senior, a very popular girl, and of course all the others girls at the table were seniors and very popular, too. and of course, of course, the table next to theirs was where some of the most popular senior boys sat. sometimes i liked sitting with them. i loved their conversations. i loved that they included me. sometimes i hated it because it felt more like pity than friendship.

one of those boys owns a business in which he makes signs and trophies for the community. i'd gone by his shop the other day because i was in need businesses to feature, and i knew that he knew lots of people.

the shrink i'm seeing had recommended a while back that i have an object at my desk, something of sentimental value, something i could hold on to when i was troubled to help center me. for some reason, i thought to ask this man if he could make me something.

the next day, i went by his shop again because i was in need of a business sooner than i'd anticipated. and he had just boxed up the thing he'd made for me, was just about to send me an email.

it's a trophy. on the plaque at the base, there's my name, orhs alum, aggie lover... and writer of the year.

it was perfect. it made me so happy to have it. makes me so happy to have it.

tonight i hosted the bible study group. the closer it got to seven, the more i thought they're not coming--they all live west of conroe, and i am south of it. takes too long to get to my house... and it's my house. it's been ages since i've had friends over. but they came. i'd worried for nothing and am a little ashamed that i had thought so little of myself, of them. they showed up, and we had some pretty good discussion. i'm grateful for that. i'm grateful for their friendship. i wish i didn't have to doubt it so much. but i very much loved having them in my house. mostly, i loved knowing that some of the struggles i have are the same as theirs.

the fall film challenge

June 30, 2016

the first rule about film challenge: you do not change your film choices.

not after the thing's started, anyway. 

begins one minute past twelve a.m. september first / concludes midnight november thirtieth. you may NOT use a film you have already seen, even in part (excluding trailers), for this challenge. all films MUST be new to you. each film chosen for the challenge may be used ONLY ONCE, i.e. a film used for the adolescence category may not be used for the character's rebirth or rite of passage one as well. all films selected for the challenge MUST have a page on the internet movie database. films can be viewed in the theater or at home, but all films must have (had) a theatrical release; made-for-television movies are not eligible.

the first three people to complete the challenge prior to november thirtieth will each receive a redbox gift card valued at twenty dollars. the one person to accumulate the most points at the contest's conclusion will receive an amazon gift card valued at fifty dollars. each film is valued at ten points, yielding a total points of two hundred fifty. details of a bonus round will be revealed october fifteenth. 

to be eligible for prizes, you MUST be a member of the fall film challenge facebook group. once you have joined and chosen your films to fit the below categories, post your list to the page. changes may NOT be made to the list after the challenge begins september first, so choose wisely.

one. about adolescence.
two. about a character's rebirth or rite of passage
three. about a comic book character.
four. shot or set in washington, d.c.
five. set in an academic environment
six. about failure.
seven. about a man vs. god or gods.
eight. about a man vs. himself.
nine. about an invention or an ingenuous individual.
ten. set in a jail or prison.
eleven. about a dog.
twelve. about loss.
thirteen. about man vs. man.
fourteen. about man vs. nature.
fifteen. one that has a monster or monstrous individual.
sixteen. shot or set in pennsylvania.
seventeen. about a character's quest of some kind.
eighteen. about a character who goes from rags to riches.
nineteen. about a man. vs. society.
twenty. originally released in the thirties.
twenty-one. about undesirable individuals or elements.
twenty-two. about a voyage and return.
twenty-three. about wizards or witchcraft.
twenty-four. originally released in the sixties.

today's a fucking ugly day

June 27, 2016

(yesterday... the twenty-seventh)

pardon the vocabulary. if you've read picky before, yall know i can be crass like that.

the therapist is putting me on meds. i am kicking and screaming because they kill my creativity. but living with the crazy right now is killing any love i have for life. 

so tomorrow... i go to a doctor and tell him why i need the drugs. the pills i don't want to have to take.

because the hate and the rage and shame and inadequacy and despair and frustration and impotence were so strong in me today i damned near clawed my face off. and the guilt... let's not forget the guilt.

. . .

(today... the twenty-eighth)

the doctor i saw today, by the way, is an old friend of my family. he's known me since i was about ten. he's never known of how fucked up my head is because, contrary to what it may seem here... i don't broadcast that shit. i do it here, truth be told, for two reasons: one, and this one's much more selfish) to remind me that i've lived through this bullshit before and i can do it again... and again... and again... two) to let others know that they are not alone in battling the bullshit. misery loves company, yeah?


thirty minutes i sat in this man's office, and for much of that time, i kept thinking of his lovely, lovely wife who passed away a few years ago, of the scarf of hers i carry in my purse, have carried every day since the service. this sweet, sweet woman who, while i'm certain could scold her daughters into submission just as well as the next mother, this woman who never seemed to show anything but goodness and kindness and thoughfulness. the good lord took her, of course. robbed a man of his happily ever after a little too soon, really. deprived her of the privilege of doting on her granddaughters. she had a life. a good one.

i have a life, too. but the world could use more people like her in it and fewer people like me.

so i'm sitting in his office crying about the rage and shame and guilt and the fact that i don't want to need this help but am so clearly very much in need of it.

zoloft... that one made me crazier. prozac... that one made me a void. so now it's wellbutrin.

and some other thing called clonazepam...for when i've fallen off the rocker completely and am bashing it against the walls of my psyche. he calls it the nine one one drug.

i don't like feeling that my life is so precarious.

i don't like thinking i've shredded my strength.

random quarter: the q&a edition-june

June 24, 2016

one. today you cancelled a date with a douchebag.

two. what was the last beach you went to? myrtle beach, south carolina.

three. my nephew is funny.

four. what's the next book you want to read? after you by jojo moyes.

five. what do you have to lose? not much.

six. today was delightful because of lunch with cameron.

seven. when was the last time you spoke to your parents? this morning.

eight. are you wearing socks? no.

nine. how can you help? writing to raise awareness.

ten. what do you need to throw away? the trash in my car.

eleven. does anything hurt today? yes.

twelve. who was the last person to make you angry? myself.

thirteen. where do you go for good ideas? the movies.

fourteen. are you working hard or hardly working? at the moment? hardly working.

fifteen. what was the last road trip you took? north carolina in november 'fifteen.

sixteen. nothing is perfect.

seventeen. what was the last thing you baked or cooked? i boiled lipton noodles.

eighteen. if you could hire any artist (living or dead) to paint your portrait, who would you pick? vincent van gogh.

nineteen. write a phrase to describe your year so far. exhausting.

twenty. today were you a wallflower or social butterfly? wallflower. always the wallflower.

twenty-one. do you have a secret? more than one? who doesn't?

twenty-two. what is your heroic downfall? your achilles heel? my brain.

twenty-three. today was unusual because i had lunch with someone.

twenty-four. if you were a literary character who would you be? mary bennett.

twenty-five. what are you sentimental about? st. patrick's day.

for better highway vision

June 18, 2016

Philippians 4:8New International Version (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

one of my oldest friends, a girl i'd met not long after my family had moved to conroe, had mentioned a few weeks ago that she was participating in a bible study. i'd done a couple of these with her in the past, though i'd never completed either of them because they didn't speak to me.

this time we're doing priscilla schirer's the armor of god, and i am loving it so far. i was going to share with yall the reactions i've had to the text but decided against it because, for the moment at least, i'd like to keep them somewhat private. i've shared some of them with my mother and some of them with the others in our study's small group of women.

the other day, we were doing prayer requests. and when i'd said mine, one of the ladies immediately jumped in with a passage that had helped her -- she could recall the sentiment, but the not the place in the bible, and so there was a few minutes debate of whether it was phillippians or corinthians or maybe... but eventually they found it. phillippians four: eight. i loved that she was so quick to think of it. that others were so quick to help find it. i'm putting it here so i can hang on to it. kind of like when minn (i miss that lady. SO much. damn i wish she were here. today is one of those days i'd be on her doorstep, seeking her wise and kind counsel.) shared with me her beloved psalm forty.

i will share, however, one bit with you from that study. we'd talked about how the devil works his magic so that we see what he wants us to see. he's damned talented at that where i'm concerned. i look in the mirror and instead of seeing the fantastic complexion, for example, for which i am so frequently complimented (my skincare regimen, in case you're curious, is washing with dove pink once, sometimes twice a day -- depending on whether i'd worn make-up, the incredibly rare use of cosmetics, the sporadic use of olay regenerist advanced anti-aging cream cleanser and the infrequent, though liberal, application of aveeno's skin relief twenty-four moisturizing lotion... that's it), the way my face feels to me distorts how i view my reflection, and if i'm depressed or haven't slept well, i'm more likely to notice the palor, my hair has more grays in it than it did the other day and could use a good washing, my eyes are drifting more than usual, my chin is way too pronounced, my neck's gotten fatter... whatever. so i see that instead of the good. i see what my peers made sure i saw in my youth, and my psyche, under satan's influence, echoes those sentiments, which, of course, robs me of any confidence i might have because how can i, a girl so far removed from beauty, ever hope to have a beautiful life?

this is what his influence does.

i keep thinking of those words from me before you... that hashtag. #liveboldly. that is not a thing i know to do. i, an aries. bold is supposed to be my business. my m.o. but far too often i cower in the corner and feed on scraps instead of ramming my way to where the sustenance is. because i've been telling myself for years, that's for the pretty ones. you've to wait your turn. you should be content with what you've been given.

the study urged us to pray for vision and to seek the light, to use the truth of god's word. so that is what i am praying for... better highway vision so i can choose the right paths. and if you've got a prayer to spare, i sure could use it. thanks.

me before you

why i wanted to read it: i'd assumed that because so many were appreciative of the thing, it must be good. and so i bought it and tried it and set it aside because it bored me. and then for erin's book challenge (if you've not signed up for that thing yet, you should totally do it), one of the categories one time was a book with a pronoun in the title, so i tried again and set it aside again. and then i saw the trailer several weeks ago, and hearing the actors' voices in my head made it a little easier to get through the thing.

what i liked: from louisa's perspective: i watched relationships begin and end across those tables... (p. 8).

"black and yellow stripes."


"that's a bit harsh."

"well, it's true. they sound revolting."

"they might sound revolting to you, but astonishingly, will traynor, not all girls get dressed just to please men."


"no, it's not."

"everything women do is with men in mind. everything anyone does is with sex in mind. haven't you read 'the red queen'?"

"i have no idea what you're talking about. but i can assure you, i'm not sitting on your bed singing the 'molahonkey song' because i'm trying to get my leg over" (p. 84).

the first time we went out on a date, a little voice in my head said: this man will never hurt you. and nothing he had done in the seven years since had lead me to doubt it. 

and then he turned into marathon man.

patrick's stomach no longer gave when i nestled into him; it was a hard, unforgiving thing, like a sideboard... (p. 89).

i wanted him to be happy -- for his face to lose that haunted, watchful look. i gabbled. i told jokes. i started to hum. anything to prolong the moment before he looked grim again (97).

i thought about the warm skin and soft hair and hands of someone living, someone who was far cleverer and funnier than i would ever be and who still couldn't see a better future than to obliterate himself (p. 123).

from camilla's: after will's accident i didn't garden for a year. it wasn't just the time... it was that i could see no point. i paid a gardener to come and keep the garden tidy, and i don't think i gave it anything but the most cursory of looks for the better part of a year.

it was only when we brought will back home, once the annex was adapted and ready, that i could see a point in making it beautiful again. i needed to give my son something to look at. i needed to tell him, silently, that things might change, grow, or fail, but that life did go on. that we were all part of some great cycle, some pattern that it was only god's purpose to understand. i couldn't say that to him, of course -- will and i have never been able to say much to each other -- but i wanted to show him. a silent promise, if you like, that there was a bigger picture, a brighter future (pp. 106-107).

when will first told me what he wanted, he had to tell me twice, as i was quite sure i could not have have heard him correctly the first time. i stayed quite calm when i realized what it was he was proposing, and then i told him he was being ridiculous and i walked straight out of the room. it's an unfair advantage, being able to walk away from a man in a wheelchair... i shut the door of the annex and i stood in my own hallway with the calmly spoken words of my son still ringing in my ears.

i'm not sure i moved for half an hour.

he refused to let it go... he repeated his request every time i went in to see him until i almost had to persuade myself to go in each day...

it's just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man -- the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated offspring -- you see before you, with his parking tickets and his unpolished shoes and complicated love life. you see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one.

i looked at will and i saw the baby i held in my arms... i saw the toddler reaching for my hand... the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied by some other child. i saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history. that's what he was asking me to extinguish -- the small child he was as well as the man -- all that love, all that history.

he had located a rusty nail, barely half an inch emerging from some hurriedly finished woodwork in the back lobby, and, pressing his wrist against it, had moved his wheelchair backward and forward until his flesh was sliced to ribbons. i cannot to this day imagine the determination that kept him going, even though he must have been half delirious from the pain.

when they told me at the hospital that will would live, i walked outside into my garden and i raged at god, at nature, at whatever fate had brought our family to such depths... i was so furious, you see, that all around me were things that could move and bend and grow and reproduce, and my son -- my vital, charismatic, beautiful boy -- was just this thing. immobile, wilted, bloodied, suffering. their beauty seemed like an obscenity. i screamed and i screamed and i swore -- words i didn't know i knew -- until steven came out and stood, his hand resting on my shoulder, waiting until he could be sure that i would be silent again.

he didn't understand, you see. he hadn't worked it out yet. that will would try again. that our lives would have to be spent in a state of constant vigilance, waiting for the next time, waiting to see what horror he would inflict upon himself. we would have to see the world through his eyes -- the potential poisons, the sharp objects, the inventiveness with which he could finish the job that damned motorcyclist had started. our lives had to shrink to fit around the potential for that one act. and he had the advantage -- he had nothing else to think about, you see.

two weeks later, i told will, "yes."

of course i did.

what else could i have done (pp. 109-111).

what sucked: it's about a hundred pages longer than it needs to be, and, this is a personal preference, i would've rather the novel have more dialogue, that moyes would've used more of that tool as a mechanism for telling the story.

having said that: it's alright. i liked the movie better...

side note: in one of the concluding chapters, moyes includes a report detailing the legal ramifications of will's choice: there is no evidence of mental illness... (p. 363).

the surgeries i've had in my life have blinded me... i've had three on my eyes, and while i don't know the duration of the recovery period for the first two because they'd occurred in infancy, the third had only blinded me for a period of twenty-four hours, but toward the end of that period, i was bordering on delusional. three other surgeries have severely affected the use of my legs. two of them have resulted in my having to learn to walk and ride a bicycle and do all sorts of other things again and again. and i'm sure at some point, i'll have to do it again, and it will be worse, because i was in my twenties then... my body was in much better shape.

i'm limited, physically, in other ways, but they are so, so slight. they are not things i can't live with.

these physical things i endure, they're not tragic.

i read that line, though... no evidence of mental illness... and was put off by it.

as if the brain can't be in pain. the mind can't. as if a person's life can't be horribly, monumentally crippled in ways unseen by others. as if post traumatic stress disorder and post concussive disorder and traumatic brain injury and depression aren't godawful, debilitating forces. as if these things can't mentally paralyze a person.

i'm tired of people thinking just because someone can get up out of bed, put on some clothes, get in a car, go to work and come home in the evening to family and friends... that because their bodies can physically function, they shouldn't be afforded the same consideration as those who bodies don't.

i am sick to death of this society that belittles mental illness.

it's perfectly okay to put a dog or a horse down... but a human, we'd prefer they suffer in a physical or mental hell... because only god can decide when a man should die. i call bullshit.