random quarter: the q&a edition - december

December 13, 2014

one. on a scale of one to ten, how happy are you? four.

two. do you want to know how it ends? not really.

three. who do you miss? my older brother.

four. what is your most recent act of generosity? salvation army's angel tree gifts.

five. where do you find joy? little things and the twins.

six. what's on your wish list? better lives for the twins.

seven. what is your biggest regret? not loving my brother better.

eight. why are you impressive? generosity, compassion, intelligence, talent, resilience.

nine. moderation or excess? moderation.

ten. what do you find irresistible? pretty eyes, tattooes, strength, kindness.

eleven. if you had to move to a new city, where would you move? don't know. somewhere near water.

twelve. what do you like to talk about? fiction, film and football.

thirteen. what's your favorite cereal? honeycomb/cap'n crunch/corn pops.

fourteen. write down five words that describe today. heartbreaking morning... better... then best.

fifteen. on a scale of one to ten, how spontaneous were you today? two.

sixteen. when was the last time you felt at peace? for a second... yesterday.

seventeen. snuggle down or go out and play? snuggle down.

eighteen. what details from today would you like to remember? fortune parking, pleasant workday and evening.

nineteen. today you gained another pound, i'm sure.

twenty. how ambitious do you feel today? not at all so.

twenty-one. what surprised you today? getting a first-row parking space.

twenty-two. if you could change one thing about today, what would it be? i'd find the right words.

twenty-three. where do you see yourself next year? the same place.

twenty-four. what is your dream vacation? a beach, booze and books.

twenty-five. list what you've eaten for the past week. ice cream, steak, vegetables, junk.

the fall film challenge: my list recap

November 30, 2014

one. any action/adventure flick. x-men: days of future past. this one was pretty nifty. not the best of the x-men films, but certainly not the worst. loved quicksilver's character. loved jennifer lawrence as mystique. and i really like james mcavoy as professor x. but it was sometimes hard to follow, and i feel like some of the storyline was constructed just so the crew could show off their impressive skills at creating special effects.

two. any shot in budapest, hungary. a good day to die hard. UGH. this film franchise needs to die. i loathed this film in the beginning. way too much of the same shit--same car chases, same chaos, same demolition... same story, really... just set in a different country. it got a little better as the film progressed, but... UGH.

three. any awarded an oscar for best cinematography. who's afraid of virginia woolf? richard burton. elizabeth taylor. god, they were beautiful to watch on the screen. not just because of their physiques... their presence was incredible. but i didn't love this movie. i know i should. i didn't like the other couple. you're not supposed to like either one, really, but... i felt sorry for burton's and taylor's characters. the other ones irritated me. and it felt long overall. maybe it was supposed to do so. i can't quite put my finger on it. i would've been okay if i'd never seen this film. i really don't know how to explain it.

four. any drama/biography/documentary. the judge. i love robert downey, jr. i love him in this film. and robert duvall is amazing here.  it's a good story, well-scripted and well-portrayed.

five. any awarded an oscar for best film editing. argo. i loathe ben affleck. but here, he did good. and this story... it's definitely worth watching.

six. any science-fiction/fantasy flick. brave. haven't watched it. this was not an original choice.

i think originally i'd planned to watch hereafter, which i did attempt to see. i watched it for maybe half an hour. but there was a scene that was too difficult for me to see, so i turned it off.

seven. any starring an actress whose last name begins with the letter g. meet me in st. louis (judy garland). i'd meant to watch this for the holiday category. i did not like it, but i LOVE the trolley song. and judy garland's voice... it's so lovely.

originally, for this category, i'd selected dallas buyer's club starring jennifer garner. i watched about thirty minutes of it, but i could not stand matthew mcconaughey's character (and i know... i wasn't supposed to like him); i just could not muster any semblance of compassion for that man. i know it's something i should see. i'm aware of how important his life was, of the impact of his efforts. but i could not bring myself to finish it.

eight. any set during any holiday. in bruges. haven't watched it. this film replaced meet me in st. louis.

nine. any from internet movie database's top flicks list. american history x. haven't watched it.

ten. any starring an actor whose last name begins with the letter j. lincoln (tommy lee jones). i fell asleep so many times during this movie.

eleven. any starring an actress whose last name begins with the letter k. unhook the stars (moira kelly). usually i love gena rowlands. usually i love moira kelly. usually i love marisa tomei. this film is one of those rare exceptions. don't bother with it.

twelve. any shot in london, england. sherlock holmes: a game of shadows. so much of this film went over my head, just like the first one. but i enjoyed watching it.

thirteen. any awarded an oscar for best original score. the way we were. wow. robert redford was a damned fine looking man back in the day. good god. but i could never believe that his character would go for barbra streisand's character. no way, no how.

fourteen. any adapted from any novel. this is where i leave you. i liked this movie a lot, though there's a scene here and there that i wish hadn't been included.

fifteen. any awarded an oscar for best original screenplay. butch cassidy and the sundance kid. SO boring. SO, SO boring.

sixteen. any awarded an oscar for best picture. driving miss daisy. this movie beat out dead poet's society for best picture. that is a horrible, HORRIBLE crime.

seventeen. any featured on american movie classic's fifty great movie quote's list. national lampoon's animal house. watched thirty minutes of it or so. was not amused. of those i'd begun but not yet finished, this is the only one i feel inclined to see to the end, which i will do... at some point.

eighteen. any romance or comedy. st. vincent. LOVED the acting. bill murray is fantastic here. and i actually liked melissa mccarthy, which has never happened. but the story? meh. not so much.

originally, i'd planned to watch airplane!

nineteen. any sports flick. when the game stands tall. this had the potential to be a BADASS film. what an amazing story. and yes, there were definitely scenes that i found gripping. but overall, too much of the story was told with too many of the usual cliches. there are so many better sports films out there.

twenty. any thriller or mystery. lincoln lawyer. of the film's i've seen for this challenge, i liked this one the best. i am NOT a matthew mcconaughey fan, but here, he's impressive.

twenty-one. any starring an actor whose last name begins with the letter u. the newton boys (skeet ulrich). boring. don't bother.

twenty-two. any shot in a country you've never visited. rush (austria). niki lauda's story is wondrous, and daniel bruhl did a beautiful job portraying that man.

twenty-three. any shot in wilmington, north carolina. twenty-eight days. i watched maybe forty-five minutes of this one, but had to turn it off. too difficult for me to see.

twenty-four. any western or war film. fury. UGH. such a waste of time and money.

twenty-five. any from american film institute's greatest american movies of all time. a streetcar named desire. this one's like who's afraid of virginia woolf? i'm glad i watched it, i guess. marlon brando and vivien leigh... but i would've been okay not watching it, too.

final tally: twenty of twenty-five films viewed.

random quarter: the q&a edition - november

November 24, 2014

there's a five-year journal called q&a: three hundred sixty-five questions - five years - one thousand, eight hundred twenty-five answers. i found it at barnes & nobles and anthropologie. it's good for road trips. it's good for these rq posts i do. this one's gonna be a little different. instead of me rambling about some subject of my choosing, i'm picking twenty-five of november's questions from this here book and anwering them with five words or less.

one. what was something you couldn't do today? have lunch with the twins.

two. what's your biggest expense right now? transportation.

three. when did you last hold a baby? i don't remember.

four. what time did you go to bed last night? nine.

five. what are you bored talking about? sex.

six. is there anything missing in your life? yes.

seven. what song could be your self-portrait? indigo girls' closer to fine.

eight. what do you need to vent about? family.

nine. waking up was pleasant.

ten. what are you obsessed with right now? fixing things potentially irreparable.

UPDATED TUESDAY: phineas, my beloved vehicle, is in fact dead.
i'm quite certain i've wrecked things with someone i would've liked to at least call friend.
thankfully, i saw this in a college friend's facebook feed:

lately i feel a lot like pigpen. and seeing this made me think of the charlie browns in my life.

eleven. which friend(s) did you last speak to? veronica.

twelve. what is your dream job of the day? something in communications.

thirteen. when was the last time you checked an online social network? fifteen minutes ago.

fourteen. what do you have to get done? my room's a disaster zone.

fifteen. what are your favorite shoes? brown docs.

sixteen. what are you trying to do? i don't know.

seventeen. what is your favorite brunch food? sausage, egg and cheese sandwich

eighteen. who have you recently deleted from your contacts/address book? i don't know.

nineteen. how much water did you drink today? none.

twenty. what three words describe your family? smart, odd, loving.

twenty-one. who inspires you? currently? no one.

twenty-two. what was the last risk you took? submitting a manuscript.

twenty-three. what five words describe your mood? sad, shameful, frustrated, disgusted and perturbed.

twenty-four. today you almost had lunch with the twins.

twenty-five. did you leave work on time? no.

random quarter

November 13, 2014

one. my friend melissa and i attempted to watch gone girl tuesday. we sat in that theater for maybe twenty minutes of the show. then we walked out.

two. froot loops are better than fruity pebbles.

three. my first dog, a black lab, was named buckwheat.

four. if given the opportunity to take a trip to anywhere i want with as many or as few people as i'd like for as long as i'd like and money is no object, i would go by myself and fly to alaska and hawaii and then i would take a nationwide roadtrip for however long it takes me to see what i want to see.

five. i'm still descending, though the fall isn't as speedy and straight as it had been.

UPDATED FRIDAY: actually i spoke too soon. apparently there's a whole other chute into hell that i was supposed to find. though this one isn't quite as vertical as the last, it's slick.

six. if a genie were to grant me three wishes i would wish for... here is where the road diverges... if i'm descending, then i would wish for love and health for my younger brother, love and health for his children, and sudden death for me (the less violent, the better)... if i am well, i would wish for love, literary representation and publication. (either way... it's selfish.)

seven. i believe in ghosts... that it's entirely possible for a spirit to linger and to haunt.

eight. i am not a huge fan of steak, but if i must eat it, i would prefer it be cooked medium well.

nine. if i am out with my friends at a bar, i like chocolatey drinks and lately i favor a variation of a mudslide. i'm not too much a fan of the blended version... just put the liquor (an ounce of tito's vodka, an ounce of kahlua, an ounce of bailey's) and a little milk in a rocks glass, and i'm good. if the bartenders can't be accommodating, i'd probably get a vodka (tito's again... it's from texas, yall) tonic.

ten. two insurance companies have determined phineas is totaled, but the dealership is saying he can be fixed, so... more waiting. i just want my car back. i can't afford a new one, and i'm kind of in love with that one. i hadn't realized a person could be in love with a car. and yes, i'm aware of how ridiculous that sounds.

eleven. i don't much care for dancing.

twelve. i don't much care for jalapenos, BUT there's a cheesy bread that's got those in it that i love.

thirteen. my biggest achievement is existing when i'd rather be extinguished.

fourteen. if i could go back in time and change something i would hold my older brother tight instead of giving him the pathetic excuse of a one-armed hug he got the last time he reached out to hug me.

fifteen. i am not hungry at all and yet i can't stop munching on the stupid bag of nacho cheese doritos to my left and sipping on what is probably my fifth soda for the day (dr. pepper! yum!).

sixteen. i want a new job. the other day i went to a staffing agency for assistance and was told they could not help me. when i went to a former manager and asked if i could come work for her, she was oh so reluctant. i suppose i should keep the job i have, yeah? at least i have one.

seventeen. i count on my father. i wish i didn't do that quite so much as i do.

eighteen. the other day i used the word pervasive correctly in a sentence; i had to ask my mother just to be sure. on the same day i had to look up the spelling for the word rapport; i'd been helping a friend with her resume and had forgotten how to spell it, so i googled repoire (spelled just like that). my friend suggested that maybe if i couldn't spell the word that perhaps we shouldn't use it in her resume. but i figured out how to spell it. affect and effect confuse the snot out me on a regular basis. i just thought i'd mention this in case yall were thinking i'm some linguistic genius. i'm not.

nineteen. the last person in my missed calls is geico's insurance adjuster calling me about phineas.

twenty. i am very bad about overstuffing myself and overindulging. if it's good, more's better, right?

twenty-one. my biggest expense right now is going to be phineas' repairs. he's really messed up, yall. really messed up. so those following distances they preach about in driver's education and defensive driving... those really are crucial things.

twenty-two. the texas longhorns' football program should remain as is (pathetic) forever.

twenty-three. my dad is my hero.

twenty-four. at the moment, i am stuck on needtobreathe's something beautiful.

hey, now. this is my desire
consume me like a fire
cause i just want
something beautiful
to touch me

twenty-five. i don't really have a victory dance. if something goes well and i'm that excited about it, i throw my fisted hands up and lock my elbows so that my arms are straight like goal posts on a football field.

the good in my day: october

October 30, 2014

getting off work on time. earphones (because i just had to sit in front of the baby who cried the WHOLE way to georgia). the medic. coligny beach. chatting with the bartender at proof. my nephew. my bed. weezer (because it was that, aerosmith's eighties rock ballads or adele's sad shit). reading dickens' our mutual friend in the courtyard before work. ed sheeran's lego house. chatting with the soldier boy. the chat i had with my general manager... her reinforcements are sometimes miraculous things that help to restore my sanity. the mornings i've slept until ten (lately i've been waking up most every night at around four a.m. and then again at eight... so those extra hours of sleep are a welcome blessing). dinner with josh and dianne. the two claires. knorr butter noodles. pansies. bodycology bath products. fireworks. trick pony's pour me. the judge. george strait's run. martina mcbride's anyway. the sky on the way to work today: there was this fantastic smattering of white, white clouds shaped like a giant's thumbprint right over the sun. caterine. sarah, the car salesman at the toyota dealership here in town. cherrie's kindness and willingness to alter my work schedule. fudrucker's. leigh's counsel. tylenol pm. the edits i made to the first chapter.

having said all that... i'm damned glad this month is O V E R.

the day phineas (may have) died

October 25, 2014

the world at sunset

October 19, 2014

home. at the waterway. (sorry for the grainy quality... old iphones do not good cameras make.)

somewhere in utah... near mount green, i think, on the way to the abbey.

savannah. sneaking a rooftop view.


and... on the other side of the world... madrid... i think.

home again.

but my favorites (and you might've seen them before) are these:

 college station. kyle field of old.

 huntsville, utah. the abbey.

santa monica. the pacific.

descending... again

October 17, 2014

i haven't wanted to write about this. i wasn't going to. i've been trying for the past few weeks to distract myself: i left texas for a long weekend in the deep south; i spent several days immersing myself in dickensian london to reacquaint myself with some of my favorite characters; i've worked; i've played; i've watched movies; i've taken aimless drives along some of my favorite backroads. i've sought the counsel of some of my better friends.

maybe that's part of the problem. some of my better friends haven't been good friends lately. several weeks ago, one flew in from tennessee for a long weekend; i met her for dinner one night and then again for tea the next morning before her lunch meeting. and everything was fine. it was fine. until she had to broach the subject of what i will do with myself once my parents are no longer here. and i had this godawful panic attack. it was horrible. i had to excuse myself. had to step outside and sit in the sun and pinch my arm until it nearly bled to alleviate the tension in my being. i'm crying right now remembering it.

because i don't know what i will do. i don't know. i don't want to think about it. friends are supposed to lift you up. i don't have that many. and this one, she's always, always been a source of comfort to me. i've always felt so blessed that she should want to call me friend. i know she hadn't meant to upset me. i know she hadn't. i know what brought about the conversation was her concern for her own mother's well-being. and i know she was concerned for mine. i know all this.

i don't know how to talk to people. i've said this before. i can't begin to tell you how much i hate conversing with them. i loathe it. because i'm so awful at it. i would rather not do it at all. and all this stems from a horrible, horrible childhood i can't overcome. i hate that, too. i try. i try so hard, but it can't be done. i make myself go out. i make myself say the words. and then i beat myself senseless for saying the wrong thing. again.

for being the wrong thing. for not playing the stupid, stupid games. i've never understood why they must be played. i'm supposed to be a bitch to the boys i like and sweet to the ones i don't? what the hell is that? it's so rare that i like a guy that i'm excited when i actually meet one i do like. and i like being excited. it's so much better than the alternative.

the other day, i asked another friend to tell me that i'm not nothing because i don't have a man or children and live with my parents and work in retail. to remind me that i'm not nothing. i know i'm not. but i'd forgotten. again. because i am incapable of doing those things that make a woman womanly. of standing. of holding my ground. so she did. she spoke of several of her friends who were married and unhappy. of the fact that some of her happiest friends are single.

you know what sucks? i get to that point where i don't want... just that. i don't want. i'm not ashamed to say it. it's kind of nice being there. i can tolerate that so much better than i can tolerate this. and then some boy will come along and remind me that wanting's not so bad. i'll like that boy; i won't want to be a bitch (and trust me... i'm quite capable of bitch. my mom says i've got the go-to-hell look patented, and i'm sure she's right... i can feel the fury on my face when i unleash that look). i'll be sweet to him. because it's so rare that that's what i want to be. this, of course, isn't want the boy wants. and i'll have to start all over. again.

i'm tired of fighting. i'm tired of having to do this by myself. just once... one time i want a man to fight for me. to fight with me. i want to know what that feels like. not this.

i make myself go out there. and then i come home to this lovely brick house in this lovely neighborhood with all its glorious greenery. i round the corner. i turn onto our street. i pull into the driveway. and i have to pretend to my parents that i'm fine. again.

our mutual friend

October 16, 2014

why i read it: the first time? a man (a literature professor) made me. the second time? another man (some dude i met in a bar) made me, though he would say he did not.

what i liked: in these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the thames, between southwark bridge which is of iron, and london bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in (p. 13).

he had no net, hook, or line, and he could not be a fisherman; his boat had no cushion for a sitter, no paint, no inscription, no appliance beyond a rusty boathook and a coil of rope, and he could not be a waterman; his boat was too crazy and too small to take in cargo for delivery, and he could not be a lighterman or river-carrier; there was no clue to what he looked for, but he looked for something, with a most intent and searching gaze (p. 13).

thus, like the tides on which it had been borne to the knowledge of men, the harmon murder--as it came to be popularly called--went up and down, and ebbed and flowed, now in the town, now in the country, now among palaces, now among hovels, now among lords and ladies and gentlefolks, now among labourers and hammerers and ballast-heavers, until at last, after a long interval of slack water it got out to sea and drifted away (p. 40).

"my respected father has found, down in the parental neighborhood, a wife for his not-generally-respected son... but if he amuses me, i can't help it... when my second brother was going to be born by-and-by, 'this,' says m.r.f., 'is a little pillar of the church.' was born, and became a pillar of the church; a very shaky one. my third brother appeared, considerably in advance of his engagement to my mother; but m.r.f., not at all put out by surprise, instantly declared him a circumnavigator. was pitch-forked into the navy, but has not circumnavigated. i announced myself, and was disposed of with the highly satisfactory results embodied before you... therefore i say that m.r.f. amuses me."

"touching the lady, eugene."

"there, m.r.f. ceases to be amusing because my intentions are opposed to touching the lady (pp. 148-149).

"i tell you, my good fellow," said lightwood, with his indolent laugh, "that i have nothing to do with swearing."

"he can swear at you," eugene explained; "and so can i. but we can't do more for you" (p. 151).

"besides, 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. 163).

"if it was me that had the law of this here job in hand," growled riderhood with a threatening shake of his head, "blest if i wouldn't lay hold of her, at any rate!"

"ay, but it is not you," said eugene. with something so suddenly fierce in him that the informer returned submissively: "well, well, well, 'tother governor, i didn't say it was. a man may speak."

"and vermin may be silent," said eugene (pp. 171-172).

a man's figure paused on the pavement at the outer door. "mr. eugene wrayburn, ain't it?" said miss wren.

"so i am told," was the answer.

"you may come in if you're good."

"i am not good," said eugene, "but i'll come in" (pp. 233-234).

there's much more, really. but it's a big book, and i don't have time to expound on all the goodness.

what sucked: it's a BIG book. nearly eight hundred pages. and like any dickens novel, it is chock full of incessant, trivial detail. sometimes that man takes a helluva long time to make his point.

having said all that: when he does get around to making that point he makes it quite well. the premise of the story is pretty good. the subplots are, with the exception of one, so much better. if you can manage to trudge through the muck and the mire of the seemingly inconsequential (because those details that seem to be silly DO prove to have merit in the end) bits of the story (and i know how big that if is), i think you'd be glad to know the outcome.

the fall film challenge bonus round: my list

October 15, 2014

one. any film featuring music by louis armstrong. how to make an american quilt.
two. any starring anne bancroft. home for the holidays.
three. any featuring music by frederic chopin. inside llewyn davies.
four. any awarded an oscar for best costume design. gladiator.
five. any starring elaine stritch. a farewell to arms.
six. any awarded an oscar for best foreign language film. amour.
eight. any starring richard harris. the guns of navarone.
nine. any film currently (or soon-to-be) shown in theaters. the theory of everything.
ten. any featuring music by john williams. war horse.
eleven. any with a color in the title. the blues brothers.
twelve. any starring lauren bacall. to have and have not.
fourteen. any with a number in the title (sequels do NOT count;
i.e. no men in black three). seven psychopaths.
fifteen. any awarded an oscar for best actor. one flew over the cuckoo's nest.
sixteen. any awarded an oscar for best art direction/production design.
how green was my valley.
seventeen. any awarded an oscar for best sound/sound mixing. from here to eternity.
nineteen. any shot in scotland. rob roy.
twenty. any featuring music by thomas newman. the debt.
twenty-one. any with a one-word title. her.
twenty-two. any shot in vancouver. the a-team.
twenty-three. any starring robin williams. awakenings.
twenty-four. any film of your choice. what if.
twenty-five. any featuring music by hans zimmer. pirates of the caribbean: on stranger tides.

the fall film challenge bonus round

one. any film featuring music by louis armstrong.
two. any starring anne bancroft.
three. any featuring music by frederic chopin.
four. any awarded an oscar for best costume design.
five. any starring elaine stritch.
six. any awarded an oscar for best foreign language film.
seven. any shot in georgia.
eight. any starring richard harris.
nine. any film currently (or soon-to-be) shown in theaters.
ten. any featuring music by john williams.
eleven. any with a color in the title.
twelve. any starring lauren bacall
thirteen. any shot in massachusetts.
fourteen. any with a number in the title (sequels do NOT count; i.e. no men in black three).
fifteen. any awarded an oscar for best actor.
sixteen. any awarded an oscar for best art direction/production design.
seventeen. any awarded an oscar for best sound/sound mixing.
nineteen. any shot in scotland.
twenty. any featuring music by thomas newman.
twenty-one. any with a one-word title.
twenty-two. any shot in vancouver.
twenty-three. any starring robin williams.
twenty-four. any film of your choice.
twenty-five. any featuring music by hans zimmer.

same rules apply. the original film challenge post is here. latecomers are welcome.

georgia and south carolina

October 7, 2014


the first three are of savannah, the fourth of charleston, and the last of coligny beach.
i'm not feeling very descriptive today, so that's all you get.

random quarter: happy memories

September 26, 2014

i call this one random, but it's not, really. in fact, these haven't been random in a while (i think i've run out of random, actually). but one of my blogging friends loved these posts. she's no longer with us, and i'm saddened by this because i'd enjoyed her friendship. she loved them. and i could use some happy thoughts, so... a chronological list.

one. march, i think. fourteen years ago. borders at meyerland plaza. i was working the five a.m. to two p.m. shift as a shelving clerk. my direct supervisor was not a nice man. the commute, the hours, the work, the man's lack of respect for me... all of these things had been eating at my sense of job satisfaction for several weeks. this, paired with depression, did not bode well for my mental or physical health. i hated coming to work, i felt like crap all the time, and i was on the verge of quitting. i'd volunteered for shelving crew in october. the hours, once eleven p.m. to ten a.m.. had seemed ideal: i could write in the evenings, work and then sleep. the general manager had said it would only last until january. i hadn't realized he'd meant the hours. they changed in january. so i was working when i usually was sleeping. i wasn't writing; i was barely eating, barely sleeping. the happy, then, was the note i'd found in my box when i'd come into work one morning. the general manager was away for an extended bit of time. the inventory manager had been promoted to interim general manager. she'd left the note: come see me. and the first words out of her mouth were: i'm pulling you off shelving crew. i about wept right there, i was so overcome with relief.

two. november, i think. that same year. borders again, but this time at stafford. i had just come in from a smoke break. i'd loaded up a library cart and hauled it to the science fiction section and begun shelving. (the same woman who'd saved me from the shelving crew that spring... she'd been promoted and assigned her own store. i had left the company in june--when that store's general manager had returned, he was not pleased that i'd returned to day shifts, and his treatment of me reflected that displeasure, and i'd had enough. when i'd learned that she'd gotten her store, i went to work for her). my general manager found me and said come smoke with me. i'd replied that i'd just returned from a smoke break. she insisted. so we sat out on the patio, and she discussed with me the trio of promotions she had available for me. that she'd thought enough of me to even discuss them was a pleasure. that she gave me a choice... i've never felt so welcomed, so respected.

three. borders again. stafford. i don't remember when. i was the front of store lead clerk, responsible for all the tables and bestseller/local interest/new release bays. i was damned good at my job. i knew it. my general manager knew it. but she'd told me after a corporate visit that our store had the best front of store in houston.

four. june, two thousand one. borders again, but this time in selma, texas. opening a new store. that was so much fun: new fixtures, new books, good music, no customers.

five. the best first date: thursday, march twenty-first, two thousand two. fours hours at international house of pancakes (with a quick jaunt to mcdonald's and texaco for fries and drinks). the first time i'd ever felt comfortable with a guy. also, the man said i was gorgeous. me. gorgeous. i'd been wearing a gray, long-sleeved american eagle rugby t-shirt, ragged, boot cut gap blue jeans and my docs. i wouldn't've used the word gorgeous. that he did thrilled me.

six. august. that same year. my victorian literature professor introduced me to the best book i've ever read: charles dickens' our mutual friend. 

seven. october. same year. victorian literature midterm. i remember sitting in the class for quite some time at a loss for what to write. i'd sat in the front row near the door on the first day, and my classmates and i'd kind of kept to sitting in the same spots. so i'm sitting there with my blue book opened, twirling my pen with my right hand, propping up my frowning face with my left. and my professor looks up at me, then looks pointedly at my blue book and makes like he's writing. i remember grinning at him. and then a few minutes later, the idea for my essay came to me. i was still scrawling on those pages when it was time to turn in our tests. i remember him telling me later that he'd been surprised by how good my paper was. that he hadn't realized it was mine until after he'd finished reading and scoring it. that he'd been happy that it was mine. i was happy to get the a plus. i'd never gotten one on a paper before.

eight. november. same year. this same professor  came into class, pausing before he'd gotten to his desk to slip a white letter sheet of paper underneath my notebook. i'd pulled it out and read. information about the university of illinois at urbana-champaign, about some masters program (an mfa in writing, i think) for which they were hoping to increase their student body. he hadn't looked at me (at least i don't think he had). he hadn't even really stopped. it was very fluid, this encouragement of his. quick and understated. he'd opened the door and breezed in, withdrawing the paper from his and slipping it under mine without breaking stride. i remember my thoughts had been on that slip of paper all day instead of my studies. it was the first time in a long time any professor had offered any kind of encouragement.

nine. december. same year. my linguistics professor had asked us to fill out index cards about the classes we'd planned to take the next year (or something like that), our academic goals... that sort of thing. i written on my card that i wasn't going to be in class next semester. writing that had made me sad because i'd thought of my parents and how they hadn't wanted me to take more classes. and she'd asked me after class had been dismissed why i wasn't taking any in the spring. so i told her. and she'd looked appalled and had exclaimed you're so bright! you should be in school! her faith in me, paired with that of my other professors that semester, was exactly what i needed.

ten. january, two thousand three. basalt, colorado. the last christmas at the cabin. my brothers and i didn't fight once. it was also the last time we'd all be together for a vacation.

eleven. april, two thousand five. the woodlands, texas. i'd applied for an editorial assistant's gig at a weekly newspaper. i was living in san antonio, but i wanted to come home. to do this i needed a job, and hunting's not my specialty. somehow i'd scored an interview at this paper. i donned a yellow blouse and a gray suit and headed for the editor's office. i sat there gripping the chair while she told me about the job. i remember thinking this sounds sort of perfect. and when she'd finished talking, i blurted out (in this painfully shy manner) can i have it? she studied me for a moment then said, yes, i think you can. 

twelve. july, two thousand seven. london with maria. best vacation ever. the best part, aside from her company, of course, was touring the churchill war rooms.

thirteen. july, two thousand eight. the second best date: dinner at tommy bahamas. i looked GOOD. i'd been working out, i'd quit smoking, and i'd dressed well (thanks to anthropologie). and i'd been wowed by the dude. i hadn't expected it. i'd met him online, and in the pictures he looked cute, impish. made me think of puck and peter pan. in person, he was much more impressive. but more, i hadn't considered that another dude could do that.

fourteen. july, two thousand nine. hiking alone in wales. there's a scene in two thousand five's pride and prejudice in which keira knightley's elizabeth stands on a cliff overlooking the countryside, reveling in the breeze, in the independence, the peace. i'd been walking toward hay's bluff, near hay-on-wye. i didn't make it to the top, but that's okay. there was a point when i turned and saw this view and reveled in the breeze and knew contentment. i was actually really glad to experience that by myself. had i been with friends, i wouldn't've been able to do so.

fifteen. july, that same year. writing this post.

sixteen. august. same year. writing this one. maybe i'll never become a successful novelist. maybe nothing of mine will be in print the way i'd hoped. but i'm damned proud of those two pieces. of my ability to take pain and make something pretty with it.

seventeen. june, two thousand ten. the hike to neuschwanstein. it was a bitch climbing that mountain. but the view... and then that castle. i'd never seen anything so beautiful in my life.

eighteen. november. that same year. college station. specifically kyle field. east side, first deck (NOT in visitor territory). the aggies had lost to the razorbacks and then the tigers (worst game EVER... at least that i'd seen in person. i'd never seen that field so dejected). they beat the jayhawks (big deal). they beat the red raiders (yay!). then they beat the sooners (hot DAMN)!! and the bears! THEN they beat those silly cornhuskers from nebraska. it was BEAUTIFUL. i've never yelled so loud in my life.

nineteen. june, two thousand eleven. sitting outside the guest house at the abbey of our lady of the holy trinity in huntsville, utah, under the shade of that box elder tree and enjoying that lush, peaceful view, the breeze, the cooler climate and the company of my mother's family. (also, we'd gotten there in time to see the lilacs! that hardly ever happens.)

twenty. december. that same year. and they say the leaves don't turn in texas. i call bullshit.

twenty-one. i can't tell you when i wrote this, but it's one of my favorite pages in the novel with which i've been tinkering. i did good, here. at least, i'm proud of it. that's all that matters.

twenty-two. february of last year. i read the language of flowers. it'd been a long time since i'd loved a book.

twenty-three. april. that same year. i read the fault in our stars and loved it, too.

twenty-four. june. same year. i didn't think i could love a book more than i loved fault, but then i read eleanor and park. i fell in love with this one on the first page. that hardly ever happens. i mention these stories because they keep me in love with my craft.

twenty-five. bugging the boys and girls at pappadeaux's. like today. today's a good day for that.

sucker punches

September 6, 2014

i got pulled over tonight. a friend and i saw the hundred foot journey, which is amazingly good and lovely by the way. it'd been a good day. i got a pedicure. i played my best game of hearts today. i had a good day at work. brio's had italian wedding soup (this is not always the case). it didn't rain; i thought for sure it was going to because there was that tropical storm that blasted mexico, and in the past few evenings, we've seen some pretty impressive cloud cover here, no doubt because of dolly. i wouldn't've minded rain, except phineas does not have a functioning air conditioning system, and so i'm driving with the roof open and the windows down; i did not want to get drenched. i browsed a bit in barnes & noble, straightened a bay of books, skimmed a couple of pages of some michael connelly novels, managed to entice a woman to read the language of flowers rather than some sophie kinsella crap. spent some quality time with a friend and watched a REALLY good flick.

for the most part, it was a really good day.

the not-so-attractive bits: i planted my left hand smack dab in the center of a fire ant bed, so now i've got some lovely little bite marks all over it. i've some sort of an infection that's wreaking havoc somewhere in my digestive tract (i'm almost done with the antibiotics, thank god), and the ice cream, popcorn and coca-cola i had right before and during the film was just too much for my still-weakened system, so i got sick. on my way to a convenience store to purchase a roll of tums and a bottle of water, some guy in an s.u.v got too close to me; his lights blinded me so that i couldn't see the road well. i put my hazards on in hopes that he would use one of the other two vacant lanes to pass. but he stayed where he was. so i stopped. he stayed where he was. i stuck my hand out and gestured for him to go by. and then i saw the outline of the lights atop his car. which is, of course, when he turned those lights on.

no biggie. i just have to tell him that i have special k vision and couldn't see. and then i have to tell him that i don't wear contacts or glasses, that my eyes were crossed when i was born, that i have no depth perception because of it, that it can't be corrected, that at night i rely very heavily on what i see in my mirrors, that i couldn't see because of the lights.

all i want is some tums.

i don't want to think about the conversation the friend and i had before the film started--about what i'm doing with my life, what i'm not doing and why i'm not doing it. i don't want to think about the comment a woman left on my facebook page today--the only therapist i'd seen in my adolescence that i respected, the only one who seemed to respect me... i don't want to think about how, maybe, just maybe if i'd actually had the courage to tell her what troubled me then, that i'd be so much better off now. i don't want to think about the fact that i don't have a passion for anything. i just want the tums and the water and my bed.

so i pull into a parking lot, tell the cop that i've those vision issues and wait for him to do his initial check and come back so i can tell him that those issues can't be corrected. and there before me is this tree. and all the leaves are golden. dry. dead.

i feel like that tree. and i really wish my brain would leave me alone. i'm tired of the sucker punches. i'm tired of the battles. the losses and failures.

copper lets me go. i get my tums. i go home. and cry. again. and then i sit down to jot a quick note on facebook that more people need to see that movie.

i look to my left at a printout my mother's left on her desk. an email. a spiritual thought for the day.

it's a passage from john o'donohue's anam cara: a book of celtic wisdom.

i won't quote the whole thing. this is a long enough post as it is. but this, the beginning of beannacht for josie:

on the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

that passage... the fact that it was there, in such a spot that my attention would be drawn to it... that must be the clay.

the good in my day: august

September 1, 2014

lunch with maria. dinner with dianne. i sold a lot of stuff at work. seabiscuit. swimming. hearing my older brother's name called over the p.a. in the airport just before my younger brother and i caught a flight to colorado to attend my cousin's wedding. going to the aquarium with another cousin, his wife, child and father. lunch with my aunt and uncle and cousins. the beautiful evening outdoors for the ceremony. playing cards with my mother and aunt. dinner and skip-bo with a neighbor's family. the red, patent leather shoes i bought at macy's. the third interview i had at a high school for an instructional aide spot--maybe i could've done better, overall, but i was pleased with many of the answers i gave, and that hardly ever happens. the email erin sent, just checking in. the two days i spent caring for the wonder twins. feeding the ducks. not losing them at the mall or chuck e. cheese's. the lego store. the letter and surprise i got in the mail from a former employer. playing tennis with the neighbors. actually hitting the ball with the racket... quite a few times and well enough that it soared over the net to the back of the court. harry potter and the sorcerer's stone. my friend victoria. the trailer for the theory of everything. the costume i got bambam came in today; it wasn't supposed to get here until october. houston's skyline. surprising karen with a gift after her back surgery. joe perry on guitar. that i got another saturday off without having to ask for it. the staff at optimum emergency room on research forest drive; i loathe all things related to hospitals and emergency care, but i also loathe infections, and (for you local peeps in need of a good twenty-four hour clinic) this place was pretty phenomenal. mike myers on david letterman.

the fall film challenge: my list

one. any action/adventure flick. x-men: days of future past.
three. any awarded an oscar for best cinematography. who's afraid of virginia woolf?
four. any drama/biography/documentary. the judge.
five. any awarded an oscar for best film editing. argo.
six. any science-fiction/fantasy flick. brave.
eight. any set during any holiday. in bruges.
nine. any from internet movie database's top flicks list. american history x.
eleven. any starring an actress whose last name begins with the letter k.
unhook the stars (moira kelly).
thirteen. any awarded an oscar for best original score. the way we were.
fourteen. any adapted from any novel. this is where i leave you.
fifteen. any awarded an oscar for best original screenplay.
butch cassidy and the sundance kid.
sixteen. any awarded an oscar for best picture. driving miss daisy.
seventeen. any featured on american movie classic's fifty great movie quote's list.
national lampoon's animal house.
eighteen. any romance or comedy. st. vincent.
nineteen. any sports flick. when the game stands tall.
twenty. any thriller or mystery. lincoln lawyer.
twenty-one. any starring an actor whose last name begins with the letter u.
the newton boys (skeet ulrich).
twenty-two. any shot in a country you've never visited. rush (austria).
twenty-three. any shot in wilmington, north carolina. twenty-eight days.
twenty-four. any western or war film. fury.
twenty-five. any from american film institute's greatest american movies of all time.
a streetcar named desire.

wanna take the challenge? click here for details.

we all bleed the same

August 26, 2014

i've been debating writing this post for a while now. it's ultimately going to sound preachy, and i doubt it'd make a dent, but...

i'm really tired, and it's probably not going to make much sense, but i decided to give it a shot anyway, all because of one sentence, one callous remark spoken by a stranger seated next to me on the hill at the cynthia woods mitchell pavilion last night.

i was waiting for aerosmith to come on stage. i forget i don't enjoy concerts at the pavilion. i'd been at my spot at pappadeaux's bar when the service bartender reminded me that the band had a show that night. so i collected my things and hurried over to see if i could snag a ticket without thinking of the discomfort i'd feel while there. my brain was fixated on the thought that i wanna watch joe perry play live once in my life. 

at some point, the couple to my left scooted toward me so that the space between the gentleman and i was a mere inches. i looked to the man, who'd had at least two large beers to my knowledge, and asked that he not sit so close to me, that i had huge personal space issues. 

instead of scooting back over, he chose instead to mock me and argue that the distance between us was plenty and blah blah blah. his girlfriend looked over at me, and i tried again to explain my need. i'd said i know it doesn't look like i have a disability, but i do.

she came back with some sort of retort about how it does look like i have one. i can't remember. but the words she used, the tone with which she delivered them, her facial expression... all these things reeked of superiority.

the last time i'd attended a concert at the pavilion was depeche mode's show nearly a year before. i sat on the hill then, too. both times i've had good spots. on this night, i'd gotten up to use the restroom. when i came back the ladies to my left had moved my things over so that they could have my spot because a bar kept them from getting a good look at the stage.

last night, when aerosmith came on, another couple--friends of the folks to my left--came and stood right in front of me. the man was quite heavy and had been drinking. he practically stood on top of me. his ass was very much in my face. i put my hand up twice to get his attention, and when i finally got it, his attitude was that i shouldn't be sitting right there.

and then there's the stories i hear... and people's reactions to them...

when robin williams died, my mother's response was to think him a coward because he couldn't, wouldn't face his challenges. in her mind, he should've used his humor to prevail, to endure for as long as possible.

the week before i'd sat in my father's office willing myself to do just that. my mind was plummeting to hell, and, yet again, i had to talk myself through it. so when a person chooses to act in such a way, i know exactly how he feels. i know how hard it is to resist the temptation to end it. i know how easy death appears. how peaceful. i know. and i did what i could to convince her that williams' choice wasn't an act of cowardice. but i couldn't change her mind.

when michael brown was shot, people in that community used the word execution in reference to the shooting, to his death. that word implies that the shooting had been an intentional, lethal punishment for some crime. people insisted that if the boy had been white and the cop had been black, the world would be in more of an uproar.

i'm so tired of reading crap like that. i wanna throttle the people who say these things.

because it IS crap. a man died. period. death should be the story--the grief, the tragedy, the loss. we could reach for the best examples of our humanity. instead we turn to riots and bigotry.

i don't care about the color of that boy's skin. i don't care about the color of the cop's. i care that a man died. i care that another man now carries the label of killer. i care that another man who'd given us decades of laughter, that the contributions he'd made in his lifetime will be erased by apathetic people who can't respect a man's choice... who can't respect a man. i care that we can't appreciate each other's differences, each other's needs. i care that we have become so obsessed with political correctness in an effort to appear courteous, but when the time comes to walk the walk, to actually behave courteously, we choose to be callous instead.

the pain i feel is no different from the pain you feel. a word can cut me just as easily as it can cut you. a bruise forms in just the same way. a wound heals in just the same way. my hopes and dreams are just as fragile as yours. my loves as beautiful.

the fall film challenge

August 11, 2014

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 best cinematography category may not be used for the best picture 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 t.v. movies are not eligible for the challenge.

the first five people to complete the challenge prior to nov. thirtieth will each receive a redbox gift card valued at ten dollars. the one person to accumulate the most points 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 participate, 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 group's page or email it to criticalcrass at me dot com so that i may add your selections to a master list. only those who have submitted lists to me are eligible for the prizes. 

one. any action/adventure flick.
two. any shot in budapest, hungary.
three. any awarded an oscar for best cinematography.
four. any drama/biography/documentary.
five. any awarded an oscar for best film editing.
six. any science-fiction/fantasy flick.
eight. any set during any holiday.
nine. any from internet movie database's top flicks list.
twelve. any shot in london, england.
thirteen. any awarded an oscar for best original score.
fourteen. any adapted from any novel.
fifteen. any awarded an oscar for best original screenplay.
sixteen. any awarded an oscar for best picture.
seventeen. any featured on american movie classic's fifty great movie quote's list.
eighteen. any romance or comedy.
nineteen. any sports flick.
twenty. any thriller or mystery.
twenty-two. any shot in a country you've never visited.
twenty-three. any shot in wilmington, north carolina.
twenty-four. any western or war film.

songs that start with the letter u: a not-so-random sample

July 22, 2014

because it's not a good day and i just wanna sit here and listen to music,
yall get another playlist. yay!

one. ultraviolet (light my way). u2. achtung baby.
two. unbelievable. emf. coyote ugly soundtrack.
three. under the milky way. the church. starfish.
four. undercover. pete yorn. nightcrawler.
five.  underneath your clothes. shakira. laundry service.
six. underwater march. klaus badelt. pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl.
seven. undone. lifehouse's self-titled album.
eight. ungodly hour. the fray's self-tilted album.
nine. under my skin. rachael yamagata. happenstance.
ten. uninvited. alanis morissette. city of angels: music from the motion picture.
eleven. union of the snake. duran duran. seven and the ragged tiger.
twelve. universe and u. kt tunstall. eye to the telescope.
thirteen. unsung psalm. tracy chapman. telling stories.
fourteen. until it sleeps. metallica. load.
fifteen. until the end of the world. u2. achtung baby.
sixteen. untitled. collective soul's self-titled album.
seventeen. untitled. fuel. sunburn.
eighteen. untitled. interpol. turn on the bright lights.
nineteen. untitled. smashing pumpkins. rotten apples: greatest hits.
twenty. untitled one. keane. hopes and fears.
twenty-one. unwell. matchbox twenty. more than you think you are.
twenty-two. up all night. unwritten law. elva.
twenty-three. upside down. tori amos. silent all these years (single).
twenty-four. us. regina spektor. soviet kitsch.
twenty-five. useless. depeche mode. ultra.