the good in my day: january

January 30, 2015

i'm cheating and doing this a day early. because i can.

heat. my room. blue skies. corona. football. how i met your mother. meredith. facebook. bubble baths. the patriots beat the ravens! the packers beat the cowboys!!! the star wars shirts i found at journeys. stephanie, connor and sabrina. jennifer and maureen. american sniper. lesley. chocolate cake. the patriots beat the colts. the normal heart. gabriel and alex. the library. the bookstore. the pb merch card i got from work. rob and brandon. the goose's acre. chili's. northshore park. five guys. baker's street. becca, taylor, june and jeni. bread and butter.

foreign language

January 24, 2015

the other day mel asked me how i would define friend. i'd told her i wasn't a very good one, that my definition wasn't the best. she wanted me to tell her anyway.

i really don't know how. i had friends when i was little. kelli and i played barbie all the time. i spent a lot of time at julie's house. i met jennifer because her mother taught pre-k, and then she and i were in all the same classes after that. there was deborah and felicia and kerry and...

then i turned eight and everything changed. and just as i was beginning to acclimate it changed again. and again. and again. and again... i never was in a place long enough to forge a friendship with anyone. so that by the time i was in my early twenties... instead of going out, i'd go to the outback or to denny's or to ihop and write. or i'd curl up with a book.

i had acquaintances--i'd met them because they were friends with my little brother--who were in bands. i'd go to bars and hang out with them on breaks and whatnot. but i was never needed there. i'd go so far as to say i wasn't wanted there, but i loved hearing them play, and i didn't have anything better to do, so i went, knowing that they didn't give a shit that i was there, that they'd rather i not be there.

i graduated from college. i worked. i played on my computer. i wrote. i lurked in bars where more talented, more affable folks seemed to revel in life's goodness. eventually i got tired of being a groupie. i moved to san antonio, where i lived for five years or so. i came back home. i worked. i wrote.

i work. i write.

i don't socialize, unless it's with the barstaff and servers at pappadeaux's (and so often i feel that they think of me like those musicians thought of me... but the physical dimensions of the bar are quite nice--the height of the thing in relation to the barstool... that kind of thing--the aesthetics of it please me, and the bartenders know how to make a drink). i don't like doing it. i'm awful at it. it's easier, so much easier to just avoid doing it.

a friend doesn't shut people out to save herself the embarrassment of awkward interactions. she doesn't ignore people because speaking to them is too difficult. she doesn't prefer texting to talking because she can't appreciate the chattiness of a conversation. she doesn't overcompensate by talking too much. she doesn't spend her days holed up in her room because she feels the world would be better off if she weren't in it. she's not selfish. or self-absorbed. she's not lazy. or thoughtless. or demanding. she doesn't need constant affirmation that she's not annoying. she doesn't begin every paragraph with i. she doesn't fill your heart with sadness and angst. she doesn't quit when a thing's too challenging. she doesn't leave a friend alone at a bar because a boy's caught her attention.

i don't know what makes a friend good. i know what makes one bad. i know that quite well.

because i've not blogged in fifteen days...

January 20, 2015

one. that packers game. what. the. h. e. double l. all those fucking field goals. all those calls for lacy to run left. russell wilson SUCKED for like ninety-five percent of that game. the pack HAD it. i'm so pissed.

two. deflate-gate. PATRIOTS!!! DOING YOUR JOB DOESN'T MEAN RIGGING THE GAME, DAMMIT!!! refs! if the balls weren't standard, yall should've called it DURING THE GAME not the day after. colts! you managed to score SEVEN STINKING POINTS. yall got your asses handed to you, like i knew you would; blaming it on some sorry balls JUST MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE SORRY BALLS.

three. right before i fell asleep last night, my body jolted like when phineas got his ass crushed by a toyota sienna. (a fucking minivan killed my car. i'm still pissed about that, by the way. i still look for him in the parking lot.) jolted, yall. scared the crap out of me. that's some crazy shit. i felt like i'd been broadsided.

four. i'm pissed about a lot of things right now. it's easier to handle the anger caused by football games and vehicular damage (things i usually can't control) than that caused by family drama, fear and failure (things i usually can).
five. the normal heart. i know. i'm REALLY late to the party. my god. what a beautifully crafted story. what a way to take rage and make something good of it. what a spectacular acting job. i'm serious, yall. those fellas did some truly remarkable work. i'm haunted by it.

random quarter: the q&a edition - january

January 5, 2015

one. can people change? no.

two. what are you reading right now? me before you - jojo moyes.

three. the best part of today? watching last sunday's packers' game.

four. what was the last restaurant you went to? fielding's.

five. today was tough because brother's children drove me nuts.

six. today you lost patience. several times.

seven. what's your favorite accessory? london blue topaz ring.

eight. where do you want to travel next? drive up california's coast.

nine. are you a leader or a follower? follower.

ten. one a scale of one to ten, how was your lunch today? six.

eleven. do you owe someone some money? yes. does someone owe you? no.

twelve. what was peaceful about today? watching football.

thirteen. list three foods you ate today? cake, turkey sandwich, chocolate milkshake.

fourteen. are you holding a grudge? yes. about? my brother disrespecting my space.

fifteen. what are you looking forward to? a day with no responsibilities.

sixteen. are you seeking security or adventure? adventure.

seventeen. do you need a break? yes. from what? life in general.

eighteen. today you needed more rest, cooperation, cleanliness, patience, kindness.

nineteen. which art movement best describes you today? abstract expressionism.

twenty. how do you describe home? tempestuous.

twenty-one. what was the last television show you watched? nfl football - sunday, december twenty-eighth.

twenty-two. what do you want to forget? a boy.

twenty-three. who do you want to be? better.

twenty-four. what is your mission? self-sufficiency.

twenty-five. was today typical? yes. why or why not? it's equally good and bad.

reading recap: the fifth

January 2, 2015

the ones i've read
eleanor and park
the fault in our stars
the language of flowers
one day
redeeming love
i see you everywhere
the perks of being a wallflower
just one day
where she went
if i stay
the truth about alice
love is a mix tape
dash and lily's book of dares
dr. bird's advice for sad poets
meant to be
the statistical probability of love at first sight
the silver linings playbook
thirteen little blue envelopes
love and other perishable items
makeovers at the beauty counter of happiness
fifty shades darker
fifty shades of grey
the time of my life
all there is: love stories from storycorps
the testament
the chance
the wit and wisdom of mark twain
how to love
julie and romeo
the phantom tollbooth
this is what happy looks like
fifty shades freed

the ones i'd started
interpreter of maladies
gone with the wind
the book thief
the help
the absolutely true diary of a part-time indian
this is where i leave you
a stained white radiance
 if he had been with me
two kisses for maddie
so long insecurity
me before you
every day
the sisters mortland
gates of fire
anna and the french kiss
crime and punishment
another piece of my heart
the arrivals
mennonite in a little black dress
the noticer
maximum achievement
rays of the dawn
the fountainhead

the ones i (wish i could've) took back
because they bored me
whiskey beach
just one year
how to be single
looking for alaska
an abundance of katherines
the best of me
a casual vacancy
if you could see me now
lucy sullivan getting married

and a bunch of others whose titles i've forgotten.

i've decided i'm gonna keep the recap list going indefinitely.
right now i'm at forty-one.


January 1, 2015

why i read it: because as part of the book challenge which i have undertaken, i was to select a title that was not a reread by a favorite author.

what i liked: "he's a perfectly good boyfriend," cath would say.

"he's an end table," wren would answer.

"he's always there for me."

"... to set magazines on."

"would you rather i dated someone like jesse? so we can both end up crying every weekend?"

"i would rather you dated someone you'd actually like to kiss."

"i've kissed abel."

"oh, cath, stop. you're making my brain throw up."

"we've been dating for three years. he's my boyfriend."

"you have stronger feelings for baz and simon."

"duh, they're baz and simon, like that's even fair--i like abel. he's steady."

"you just keep describing an end table..." (p. 35).

wren usually lost interest in a guy as soon as she'd won him over. the conversion was her favorite part. "that moment," she told cath, "when you realize that a guy's looking at you differently--that you're taking up more space in his field of vision. that moment when you know he can't see past you anymore" (pp. 35-36).

"we're kids," wren said.

"not anymore. you're sophisticated young women. nobody wants to watch you unwrap gift cards" (p. 160).

"i'm really good at quickly identifying the smartest girl in every class."

cath frowned at him. "god, levi. that's so exploitive."

"how is it exploitive? i don't make them wear miniskirts. i don't call them 'baby.' i just say, 'hello, smart girl. would you like to talk to me about great expectations?"

"they probably think you like them."

"i do like them" (p. 172).

eventually she heard a buzz and levi walked back through the doors, holding two disposable coffee cups and balancing two boxed sandwiches on his forearms.

"turkey or ham?" he asked.

"why are you always feeding me?"

"well, i work in food service, and my major is basically grazing..." (p. 220).

seeing that they were scared terrified their dad. he'd go to bed and sleep for fifteen hours. he'd make an appointment with his counselor. he'd try the meds again, even if they all knew it wouldn't stick.

"i can't think when i'm on them," he'd told cath one night. she was sixteen, and she'd come downstairs to check the front door and found it unlocked--and then she'd inadvertently locked him out. her dad had been sitting outside on the steps and it scared her half to death when he rang the doorbell. 

"they slow your brain down," he said, clutching an orange bottle of pills. "they iron out all the wrinkles... maybe all the bad stuff happens in the wrinkles, but all the good stuff does, too...

"they break your brain like a horse, so it takes all your orders. i need a brain that can break away, you know? i need to think" (p. 224).

"i'm like him," she whispered.

"you're not," wren said.

"i am. i'm crazy like him." she was already having panic attacks. she was already hiding at parties... 

"you're not," wren said.

"but what if i am?"

"decide not to be."

"that's not how it works," cath argued.

"nobody knows how it works."

"what if i don't even see it coming?"

"i'll see it coming... if it tries to take you," wren said, "i won't let go." (pp. 226-227).

"somebody else got ugg boots for christmas," reagan said, watching the dinner line empty into the dining room. "if we had whiskey, this is when we'd take a shot" (p. 256).

what sucked: the main character's name is cather. every time i read that, it thought catheter. 

having said all that: this is definitely my least favorite of her books. i liked it. i did not love it. i do not want more of it.

the good in my day: december

daddy. sarah. mercy bocephus. iced tea. pottery barn's comfort roll-arm slipcovered sofa. saltgrass' chicken fried steak. jewel. that the world can sometimes be so beautifully small. the compliments a woman paid to my father through me. the memory of a man. that window of calm in the day, just as the sun's setting... when the world seems painless and plentiful: the dogs barking, the people laughing and loving, the daylight blushing before it pales. first-row parking places. cousins. online shopping. adam. marble slab. the whopping sale i had at work (i've not had one of those in years). the christmas card from amy. pappadeaux's. the christmas card from erin. shopping with dad. the christmas card from karen. lesley. kimberly. gary and kathleen. the shirts i found at the gap. the wraps i found at urban outfitters. fielding's. making the twins' christmas presents. i took the twins the library; afterward, they wrote in the library notebooks i'd made for them what they'd checked out; it was so beautiful to sit with them while they practiced writing. lindsay.

the truth about alice

why i read it: because in july of last year, i went to a writer's workshop presented by the author, and ever since then, i've been meaning to read her book, and when i emailed her the other day with questions about the craft and because i'd lost my notes from that workshop and needed some reminders, she took the time to compose a very kind reply.

what i liked: kurt -- so why don't i mind living here? first, everyone leaves me alone. which is to say they ignore me. which is not as bad as it sounds. to be honest, it's really rather nice to be afforded such freedom of time and of space to read, to think, and to study, and to be left in peace. when i sit by myself in the cafeteria rereading the hobbit for the thirteenth time just because i want to, i don't look out onto the sea of faces and wish i wasn't alone. i simply acknowledge the sea exists and go back to the hobbit. it isn't difficult for me.

secondly, i haven't minded living in healy because my grandmother is a loving and caring woman who has raised me with affection and compassion.

lastly, alice franklin lives here.

alice franklin with the raspberry lips and the bad reputation and the faraway eyes (pp. 34-35).

"it's such a pleasure to teach you, to talk with you," he answered. "you have a gifted mind." he leaned back in his chair, his arms behind his head, and i could see the yellowing stains on his shirt, under his arms. if mr. becker knew they were there, he didn't seem to care. nor did he seem to care that he was almost completely bald and had pockmarks on his cheeks from bad acne, or that he had several unknowable stains on his tie. 

i have a gifted mind, all right. i know enough to know that i do not want to turn out like mr. becker. and i know enough to know that to ask mr. becker about how to talk to alice would be more complicated than discussing quantum gravity (p. 53).

elaine -- then my mom will take all our special weight watchers food and use a black sharpie to label it with point values and store it on one shelf in the fridge and one shelf in the cabinet, and if she's feeling totally nuts, she might even put a post-it note on the shelves that says, "mom's and elaine's special food--don't touch!" which is totally stupid seeing as how the only person who lives in the house is my dad and he wouldn't touch our special food even if it meant the healy tigers were guaranteed a winning football season for the rest of his natural life (p. 59).

what sucked: it's two hundred pages, but it sometimes feels as though reading it takes as long as a book twice its length.

having said all that: it makes me SO glad i was not one of the popular kids growing up. one of the girls with whom i'd gone to elementary and junior high school... a few years ago, when discussing a particular back-to-school swimming party (that had sucked so much for me that i'd left early, walked back home and gone to my room to cry), she'd said that her friends (because she was popular) had made fun of her because her bathing suit sagged in the butt. i remembered being annoyed with her for comparing them mocking her textiles to them mocking my person... her pain seemed so insignificant next to mine. i'm a little ashamed, now, to admit that i felt that way. i know high school sucks for everybody. but i've a better appreciation for that now because of this book. and i'm so glad i was more like kurt (but not nearly as good as he... i was too embarrassed to sit alone in the cafeteria) back then than kelsie or elaine or anybody else in healy, texas. it's not a bad read. best thing i can say about it is the author does a pretty good job of making each of her characters have unique voices.