Pages

six impossible things

September 29, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what we hear in the dark

September 25, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

olympic book tag

September 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

siren songs

September 15, 2016

show of hands: how many of yall have seen an affair to remember? (if you haven't, don't. it sucks.) how many have seen sleepless in seattle? (if you haven't, and you're single, that film will make you depressed as shit. don't watch it alone, don't drink adult beverages while you watch cause that could just make you more depressed, and do have some ice cream on hand. do watch it. it's good).

i ask because i'm working on a particular chapter of my manuscript that involves my gals and their viewing of the former of the two films. two of them love it. one of them doesn't. the viewing comes at a fairly crucial point in the story. i've got the thing broken down into thirds, and this particular chapter falls right around the conclusion of the second third. the gal who doesn't like it is about to crumple under the weight of all the bullshit in her head, unbeknownst to the other two.

after they've left, she burns some sad songs to a cd and goes for a drive (my girl's old school, okay?) because she's upset and needs to cry. her friends, unknowingly, have put an idea in her head, more bullshit onto the heap, and a good jag would be helpful. only she can't cry. she should be able to because yall, the tunes on that cd, they're pretty sad shit:

the chain (live from webster hall). ingrid michaelson. be ok.
do what you have to do. sarah mclachlan. surfacing.
vienna. the fray. how to save a life.
gravity. sara bareilles. little voice.
every rose has its thorn. poison. open up and say ahh.
ashes and wine. a fine frenzy. one cell in the sea.
doughnut song. tori amos. boys for pele.
happiness. abra moore. strangest places.
almost lover. a fine frenzy. one cell in the sea.
sullivan street. counting crows. august and everything after.
nothingman. pearl jam. vitalogy.
tear in your hand. tori amos. little earthquakes.
with or without you. u2. the joshua tree.
sometime around midnight. the airborne toxic event's self-titled album.
roads. portishead. dummy.
bend and not break. dashboard confessional. a mark, a mission, a brand, a scar.
reason why. rachael yamagata. happenstance.

i wanna talk to yall today about the second one by tori amos, tear in your hand. first of all, that song's on one of the best albums ever recorded, and if you don't own it, i must insist that you stop reading this and go do whatever it is you do when you buy music and get it now. thanks. (you should get baker baker from under the pink, too. and that album by a fine frenzy. and that song by ingrid michaelson.)

the album was released in nineteen ninety-two. i was nineteen. i read, just today actually, an article in rolling stone in which amos offers a track-by-track guide to the songs released then. in that she said tear in your hand was nostalgic, about separating from family and high-school friends. but for me, i've always seen it as a really good song about a break-up: you don't know the power that you have with that tear in your hand. 

for twenty-four years i've thought, erroneously, that the tear might've been the man's, and that he was both sad and convinced that ending things had to be done, and that the girl was rendered powerless by the sight. even after i'd endured heartbreak, i still thought this. 

the other day i was listening to this song because whenever a scene involves music i make myself listen to it to help me get the thing right, to immerse myself in whatever my character might be feeling.

i was driving. i think i was coming back from a writing session at pappadeaux's when a memory surfaced. it involves that electrical engineer i'd mentioned in this post (he's in this one, too, by the way).

i wouldn't thought of it, except that i've dreamed of him twice in the past month. people aren't often in my dreams. he's never been in them, not even when we were dating. not even after i'd ruined things. never. in fourteen years. that's how long it's been. that's how much the bastard impressed me. but then again, i'm a supremely impressionable gal. anyway. i'm confident that had i not had those dreams, this memory would never have been stirred so well.

when i was a kid, i cried in school in front of my classmates. it was pathetic. eventually i learned how to reign it in until i could hide somewhere to get it out. i hid a lot. since grade school i think the only time i've been unable to keep the tears at bay in front of other men, excluding those in my family, was with him. in that second post, the one referenced in the parentheses, i mentioned that i couldn't let him see me cry. i'm talking about ugly cry, yall. full on misery.

but... we were laying (lying? i can never fucking remember) on his sofa, and he was telling me how much he liked me and enjoyed spending time with me, but... i knew what he was saying. i heard it. i understood it. i was in one percent complete agreement with him on it. he wasn't ready for serious, and he felt we were headed in that direction. i wasn't ready for it either. i was perfectly content with how things were because i could go home at the end of the night. (dammit. he's in this one, too.) i was listening, but all the hideous things were swirling around inside my head. one tear fell onto his shirt. one. so i sat up, wiped my face. told him i needed a kleenex. he went to get one, only he didn't have any, so he brought back a bit of bathroom tissue. i wiped my eyes. he was crouching before me, so his eyes, that gorgeous green, were level with mine. he gave me this hint of a smile, took the tissue and said he was going to frame it and call it jenn's tears. i got the hell out of there.

that song of tori's was ten years old at the time. it took me another fourteen to really understand it. i'm a writer. i'm supposed to pick up on this shit pretty quick. and yall, i pray i never know that power again.

if you don't stand for something...

September 8, 2016

during the olympics last month, gabby douglas didn't put her hand on her heart while the national anthem played...


colin kaepernick sits on a bench or takes a knee while it's played, and the same damned shit happens. do i personally like that this was so? no. not so much. because to me that song is beautiful. do i personally like it that john legend tweets things like this:

For those defending the current anthem, do you really truly love that song? I don't and I'm very good at singing it. Like, one of the best

no. not so much. because i truly love that song. i've stood at kyle field with my hand on my heart and the line, o, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, there's a surge of emotion in me... nothing big, just a little ebb and flow of pride at how that might have looked to those men on the night of that perilous fight. how beautiful the flag was to them in that moment. and that happens every time. EVERY time. how beautiful that flag is to me, always, when the wind catches it. hell, i was at some event at one of the parks in the woodlands a couple of months ago that involved skydivers and some flags, one of which was the stars and stripes, and when the last one landed, when that glorious red, white and blue hit the ground, i instinctively took a step forward, put a hand to my heart and said aloud: get it off the ground. he was quick to gather it up because it was precious to him, too.

that anthem is precious to me. if i'm at an event and it's playing, i will not sit and my hand will be on my heart.

but damned if this ain't the land of the free and home of the brave. gabby douglas didn't put her hand on her heart. so what? SO WHAT? she's free to put her hand where she pleases. colin kaepernick chose to sit. HE HAS EVERY RIGHT TO DO SO. he knew the shit was gonna hit the fan, but HE DID IT ANYWAY. that's courage, yall. that's the kind of bravery francis scott key had in mind when he wrote those words. no, it's not some galant act. he didn't enlist in our armed forces and fight alongside those in iraq and afghanistan. he didn't pull a child from a burning building or save a woman from the violence caused by some pitiful excuse for a man.

but there are people who have called his actions pitiful. there are folks setting fire to his jersey. i've heard endless bitching from almost every direction about how stupid it looks that a man who makes so many millions a year playing a game, whose black parents gave him up, who was raised in a white family has the audacity to say black men are oppressed in this country. heads up, people, plenty of them ARE OPPRESSED. still. it's a damned disgrace. and if you don't think it's in your neck of the woods, go drive around the lesser affluent neighborhoods of your community... i guarantee you there are wards not so very far from you that are comprised of houses barely standing because the boards are so ancient, the materials so corroded by weather and time. there are people living in those homes, or trying to. some of them are scraping an existence with three jobs and the skin of their teeth. you can tell because their yards are tidy and those boards, as beaten as they are... the windows are clean and there are potted plants on the porch. others... you know the people inside are as dilapidated as the building in which they reside. they are bitter and full of blame; that's their right.

there was an instance last summer in which a man was offended that i'd asked him not to stand so close to me. i needed distance because of my own limitations. he'd thought i'd wanted distance because he was black and i was white. my mother had to point this out to me. i reread that post, and not once did i mention color. because my parents made damned sure their children didn't judge people by the color of their skin. i didn't see a black man that day. i saw a man standing too close to me. for me, that's all it was. but because of how i was raised, i forget to consider that others haven't been raised that way. so for him... white privilege raising its head again. i was oblivious to it. to this day, i'm ashamed of my behavior. still. it had NOTHING to do with who he was, but my panic made it appear otherwise.

sure, maybe there's a better way kaepernick could've said his piece. i understand and can respect what he's doing and why. he's standing for something. not literally. it's a fucking metaphor, folks. but this cause of his, it's good and deserving of the attention.

and as much as i don't like that john legend said he doesn't like the song... posting that on twitter's maybe a little courageous.

settle down, you're okay at it

god love chrissy for her sense of humor. the world needs more of that.

the things i tell myself

September 6, 2016

this was written in the middle of cutting a significant number of pages from my manuscript, after several negative interactions with men who had expressed an interest in getting to know me.

i can't for the life of me figure out why the hell you want a man. you can't care for one. you've no concept of how to love one, of how to accept any positive attention they might throw your way. you can't love, jennifer. you can't. and all you want from a man, anyway, is to be held, which is absolutely the last thing any man wants to do. they can't stand that shit. 

remember when adam was holding you while yall were watching a movie? he was so bored he turned the movie off, and when you balked, he said he'd done it because he'd thought you'd fallen asleep. so obviously he wasn't so pleased to be in that situation.

you can't stand the way they look at you. the way they talk to you. you don't feel comfortable in their presence.

why in hell do you continually open yourself up to the scrutiny? you will never be seen as desirable by one. you will never be told you're beautiful by a man who honestly believes you to be so. you are not the girl a guy wants. can you please, please, please let go of this delusion? PLEASE.

it's so incredibly unhealthy for you to have it. they will never see you the way you want to be seen.

i'm trying to finish this story of mine. i think part of the reason it's taken so long is because i feel this way. this is where my head is, even with the medication i'm taking, so... i could use some prayers that the light will win out over the dark... that my mind could stop fixating on this hole, for lack of a better word.

random quarter

September 4, 2016

one. so...we're back to the true spirit of these posts because i've used up all the prompts from that question and answer book. you're thrilled, i'm sure.

two. the houston cougars defeat of the oklahoma sooners might be the most impressive football game i'll see this month. BECAUSE THIS:


three. NEVER DOUBT THE POWER OF THE TWELFTH MAN. BECAUSE THIS:
i love how big it gets. it starts out kind of small, and then it resonates so well throughout the stadium that there's a GLORIOUS echo. good stuff.

AND THIS:

 

rosen. what a dumbfuck. here's a tip, all you quarterbacks out there, don't say shit like after fifty thousand it doesn't make a difference. because CLEARLY in kyle field, IT DOES.

four. i've said it before. i'm going to say it again. i hate html code.

five. the irish are playing the longhorns tonight. should be fun. I. AM. STOKED. GO IRISH. BEAT texas.


six. i have spent the past few weeks poring over my manuscript. yes, some of it is crap. i spent about nine hours cutting out the majority of that crap on monday of this past week so there are GAPING, HIDEOUS holes in the thing. but the absence of that crap has made me better appreciate the good. so i'm feeling pretty good about the thing, which hasn't been the case for quite some time. that feeling, paired with this compliment and two others i've received this month from fellow writers (one said something about how my writing reminded her of rainbow rowell's, one of my favorite authors; another said she was crushing on one of my characters, reese. as she should. he's a pretty awesome guy) has me clinging, maybe a little too desperately, to the notion that this story of mine is good and worthy. that i CAN finish polishing it. that people WILL love it.

seven. the woman to whom my brother was previously married has remarried and relocated to mississippi. for the past year, i have had to listen to my nephew tell me he likes mississippi state better than a&m. because that's the team his stepfather likes. i. am. dying.

MISSISSIPPI STATE. FUCK. NO. that child will NOT be going there. he will not root for the blasted bulldogs. if that boy HAS to like a team from mississippi it's going to be ole miss. but by god, the aggies will prevail. i will see to it. if i have to mail him aggie paraphernalia EVERY WEEK, then so be it. MISSISSIPPI STATE. that's the WRONG GODDAMNED SHADE OF MAROON, BOY. there can be only one.

eight. yesterday, i spent the entire day in my pajamas. i've spent the majority of this one in them. it is almost three p.m. (or at least it was when i wrote this particular entry) texas time. i should probably get dressed. i did take a shower. i am clean. i'm just slovenly. depressed? nah. why would i be depressed? i'm unemployed and living with my parents. and the boys... 

nine. one of them stopped talking to me because i wouldn't send him a picture of my naked breasts. i'm not sad about this. i'm actually damned glad that he revealed his dickishness so well and so soon. there's not much i like about my body. but... i've a pretty good rack. so i've heard, anyway. i know... you're loving this bit. the point is... it's good. boys? i'm not going to show it to you just because you've asked to see it. i'm gonna be like amy schumer. you can holler show me your tits in the parking lot. as i'm driving away from your dumb ass.

and boys? PLEASE. STOP sending us shit like dick picks. that thing dangling between your legs... ain't NOTHING pretty about that. generally as a rule, that's a SUREFIRE way to get us to LOATHE you.

ten. another boy... this one had been badgering me for a good while to give him the time of day. not in some scary way. just... every few months, he'd shoot me an email. after the third one, i was like... you know what? he might be nice. you should maybe give him a better look. so i asked him what it was about me that inspired his persistence...

and i get this shit in reply: oh gawd. forget it. i'd rather go park my car on a train track than deal with your egotistical narcissism.

yeah. okay. you go do that.


eleven. i'd wash my hands of men completely, except i see things like anthony mason interviewing rory feek about the loss of his wife. and i cry.

twelve. and then i wish that i could be as good, as sweet, as kind as joey. and i've to remind myself that i am those things... just differently.

thirteen. there are so many ways i could be better, though. i just don't have the heart to bother with any of them. some of them are so simple, like bagging up all the clothes i don't wear and donating them so that someone else who needs them more than me might be able to. like walking. i used to take walks every day when i was younger; i'd make up stories or listen to music or just look at the world around me. i don't do that anymore.

fourteen. the fall film challenge started THREE DAYS AGO, and someone's already seen TEN FLICKS. i am impressed. i have yet to watch one. 

fifteen. portishead's roads is a beautiful song. if i ever finish fucking with this damned novel of mine and yall buy it and read it, the tune isabel's listening to in the first chapter? it's that one. actually that whole album, called dummy, is pretty badass. you should download it. now.

sixteen. i'm so old school with music, yall, that i had to correct cd to album in the previous entry.

seventeen. once upon a time i had about seven hundred cds. then i got my heart broken and quit my job and my brother died, and i did things like hock eighty percent of my collection. because who needs music in their lives? stupid. girl.

eighteen. i started this post at about half past two. it's now nearing four. just so you know... i invest in these here posts. probably much more time than i should. also... i'm still in my jammies.

nineteen. i've gotten a manicure and pedicure twice in the past month. that's double the number of times i've gotten such things in the past year. my hands are prettier when the nails are polished, though. i can see why girls make a habit of this. but man... the time it takes to get this shit done. ugh.

twenty. i think i'm kind of burned out on dr. pepper, which feels almost blasphemous.

twenty-one. i know i'm burned out on life, which also feels almost blasphemous.

twenty-two. i think balloon releases are stupid. why do people do them? because sending a balloon up in the air isn't going to make me feel any better about the fact that my brother no longer inhabits this earth or that my other brother's children now reside two states away. for those of you unfamiliar with the breadth of the state of texas, it takes the better part, if not all, of a day to get out of it. those children are like my own. my heart is sick, i tell you. letting go of a piece of rubber filled with gas and a string tied around it isn't going to make that sickness and sadness any better.

twenty-three. football, though. that will.

twenty-four. the other day i bought harry potter trivial pursuit. and yall, it is HARD.

twenty-five. i'm gonna go get dressed now. because the irish are playing in two hours. i have to get my green on. :]

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.