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 too 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 professor 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 students 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.

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've 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 rein 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 hundred 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:

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.



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. :]