tell me three things

April 15, 2018

why i wanted to read it: fuck if i know. it was on a table. i was buying GREAT books to go into a care package i'm sending to some girls i met when touring my college's campus during its founder's weekend celebration. somehow, and i really can't say why, it caught my attention. maybe it was the waffles on the cover. maybe it was the title. maybe it's because i can be, at times, a stupid girl. and this was definitely one of those times.

what i liked: it's been 747 days and still i have not learned how to talk about any of this. i mean, i can talk about how i bought the toilet paper, how we were broken, how i was broken. but i still haven't found the words to talk about my mom. the real her. to remember who she was in a way that doesn't make me keel over.

i don't know how to do that yet. 

sometimes it feels like i've forgotten how to talk altogether... if i was going to be held captive by a wicked stepmother, surely there are worse places i could have ended up than living in the pages of architectural digest... the problem was that mom wasn't here. that she would never be anywhere again. when i thought about that for too long, which i didn't, when i could help it, i realized it didn't matter much where i slept (page 38).

rut seemed too small a word for grief... sometimes when scarlett says i'm strong, i think she really means i'm numb (page 40).

i bet i would have liked him better then, when he read marvel comics instead of sartre, when he didn't wrangle with all the hard questions and come out the other end sad or angry or tired or whatever it is he is (page 58).

what sucked: pretty much everything else. boy decides he's too afraid to speak to the new girl, but really wants to so he (somehow) gets her email address so he can counsel her on who to know and how to cope. i knew who the dude was before i'd read a fifth of the story. so much for secretive. but then, maybe i was supposed to figure it out. still... i would've preferred the surprise. i do love surprises. it's about about a gal coping with the loss of her mother and being uprooted from chicago to california after her father comes home from what she thinks is a business trip to announce he's married someone else. there's GOBS and GOBS of shell shock here. EXCELLENT material for conflict, but it's SO watered down, the storytelling so pitifully executed that it feels more like middle grade fiction than a young adult novel.

having said that: the author, who lost her mother at a young age so she knows that of which she writes (and should have done a MUCH better job because of this), addresses the reader in a letter between the concluding page and the acknowledgements: i decided to combine the loneliness of first loss with something much more magical and universal: the beauty of first love. she should've tried harder, for there's neither magic nor beauty to be found here. it's mediocre at best with regard to the writing and the story, horribly cliched and predictable as hell.

the good fight

April 11, 2018

the other day a friend asked me to help her tweak an essay she'd been asked to write for her work. it was about repainting some metal planters, about how the task had enabled her to see that sometimes we are like those planters, weathered and rusted by life, and how when we let him, god can give us fresh coats of paint, restore our spirits.

i've mentioned that bible study in which i'm taking part before. in romans four, paul talks about circumcision. when i'd first read it, i thought that doesn't apply to me. but then in the lecture, our group leader talked about how our hearts need to be circumcised, that the scar tissue makes it difficult to live like god had intended us. in romans three, paul says their throats are open graves... their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness... ruin and misery mark their ways.

these words have haunted me ever since. my voice will be the cause of my death. somehow. morbid, right?

today a woman came to ship something to a friend. she had shoulder-length, glossy, straight black hair, wore black-rimmed glasses, a black blouse with yellow details (i wish i could tell you what they were... flowers, maybe? but that doesn't sound right) forming vertical stripes about an inch apart, bell sleeves, black slacks. she was blessed with beautiful features: good skin; symmetry; wide, dark eyes. her face was flawless. she was talking with my boss about how she'd just come from an interview, that it had gone well -- the man with whom she'd spoken had said that he liked her and wanted to hire her, but he had to conduct some other interviews and would be in touch. and then, maybe five minutes later, she said he was probably going to hire her because she was pretty... and how she couldn't help that.

i was jealous. i was also angry. i know i shouldn't be.

it took me the better part of a year to convince my boss he should hire me. this woman has an interview that probably lasted no more than fifteen minutes, and she will most likely get the job because she's pretty. when she's in conversations with men she won't reveal that she has a boyfriend. she takes advantage of her beauty. she uses it. i think that's what makes me the angriest. it's a tool to her. she wields it like a weapon.

how many of you do that? how many of you brag to others in front of women who aren't as blessed with physical beauty? i had to leave the room because i couldn't stomach the conversation any longer.

i'm writing this in my room, surrounded by the things i've collected and received over the course of my life: the chicano visions book sent to me by cheech marin's public relations team for his latin art exhibit, the prints and paintings i got from my grandmothers, the woodwork fashioned for me by my great uncle, the stories in which i have immersed myself... tales that have taken me out of my often bleak internal landscape -- as unsettling to me as my reflection is -- the hope i've found in them, however shortlived it may be.

but the things to which my eyes are most frequently drawn are the red patent leather shoes my mother thought i might like to have in my room. shoes worn in my toddler years. shoes worn when i could barely walk. shoes worn, most likely, with ugly metal braces that she was quick to throw out once i no longer needed them. i am reminded how lucky i am that i can walk... because so many with medical histories like mine can't. those shoes... and that ivory ceramic mug bearing the crest of my alma mater and the year of my graduation from high school. i am reminded of the teachers and the principals who thought i would fail to do so. most of the time, i look at those two things and remember my strength. most of the time it works, and i regain my balance, my perspective.

those fights, though... struggling to walk and learn the state-mandated curriculum... those were easy. those were good.

ten things to celebrate in april

April 1, 2018

number one. ayatollah khomeini calls for an islamic republic in iran on april 1, 1974. read (some, if not all of) reading lolita in tehran: a memoir in books. what's the first word on the nineteenth line of the seventy-fourth page? what are four things you loved about the book?

number two. maya angelou is born on april 4, 1928. share four lines of your favorite one of her poems.

number three. edgar allan poe's murders in rogue morgue, the first detective story, is published april 14, 1841. read it. what's the fourth word on the eighteenth line of the fourteenth page? share your favorite line of text.

number four. geoffrey chaucer's canterbury tales characters begin their pilgrimage to canterbury april 17, 1387, according to scholars. which of the tales do you like best; share four reasons why it's better than the others.

number five. jennifer garner is born april 17, 1972. watch draft day. which line(s) of hers do you like best?

number six. first crossword puzzle book is published april 18, 1924 by simon and schuster. find an s&s puzzle book and do one of the crosswords.

number seven. deepwater horizon drilling rig explodes on april 20, 2010, killing eleven and causing the rig to sink, causing a massive oil discharge into the gulf of mexico and an environmental disaster. watch deepwater horizon. share four things you learned about the disaster from that film.

number eight. shakespeare's macbeth is first performed takes place april 20, 1611 at the globe theater in london. the first performance of his merry wives of windsor takes place april 23, 1597, with queen elizabeth the first of england in attendance. his death occurred on april 23, 1616. read one of the plays; share twenty words from the text you liked.

number nine. prince rogers nelson died april 21, 2016. what's your favorite prince song? share four lines from it that you love.

number ten. rc duncan patents pampers first disposable diaper on april 27, 1965. donate a package of diapers to an assistance center.

six things (sort of) celebrated in march

number one. ludwig van beethoven had his first debut performance as a pianist on march 29, 1795 in vienna. first performances: fourth symphony in b -- march 5, 1807; missa solemnis -- march 26, 1824; string quartet no. 13 in b flat major (op 130) -- march 21, 1826. he died march 26, 1827; three days later, 20,000 attended his burial in vienna.

the task: pick ONE of the pieces mentioned here, play it three times -- first with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed, and on the third, write down the things you imagine as you listen -- maybe your high school teachers did this sort of thing during english class. my junior teacher was really fond of this kind of writing assignment. share what you wrote with the rest of the class -- and DON'T worry about writing style and grammatical correctness. just write. let your mind wander. where does the music take you?

i did listen to a few minutes of each of the beethoven selections, picked the one i liked (fourth symphony in b) and listened to it all the way through.

number two. tennessee williams and edward albee were born on march 26, 1911 and march 12, 1928, respectively. elizabeth taylor won a golden globe march 10, 1960 for her performance as catherine holly in the film version of williams' suddenly last summer. she divorced eddie fisher on march 6, 1964 and married richard burton nine days later. taylor and burton starred in the film version of albee's who's afraid of virginia woolf? she starred with paul newman, who, by the way, won best actor march 30, 1987 in the 59th academy awards for his role in the color of money, in williams' cat on a hot tin roof.

the task: watch ONE of the three: suddenly last summer; who's afraid of virginia woolf; cat on a hit tin roof. what are the two best lines of dialogue in the film; what two things make the film noteworthy?

i borrowed suddenly last summer and cat on a hot tin roof (have already seen who's afraid of virginia woolf -- DEPRESSING AS HELL. DON'T WATCH IT) from the library. they're sitting on my desk.

number three: vincent van gogh caused a sensation with 71 of his paintings at a show in paris on march 17, 1901 -- eleven years after his death. his sunflowers sold for a record 22.5 million pounds ($39.7 million) on march 30, 1987.

the task: find and view the van gogh armchair travel exhibition on screen: van gogh - a new way of seeing. what three things did you learn about the artist from that production? what's your favorite of his paintings? share three things you love about that work.

one. he and gauguin only lived together for two months. i'd thought it was longer than that.
two. he did eighty paintings in seventy days; the last of which was tree roots, not wheatfield with crows.
three. his brother had arranged for a funeral service to be held at a local church, but the officiant canceled the service because van gogh had committed suicide and was protestant; his funeral was held in the auberge dining room, with his coffin on a table and as many of his paintings as they could fit.

favorite is almond blossom.
one. he created it, despite being in the throes of madness, as a gift for theo and his wife and their baby.
two. i'm constantly amazed at how fragile it looks.
three. i like the peace of it.

number four. kerouac, campbell, sedaris... jack kerouac, aaron eckhart and dave eggers were born on march 12th of 1922, 1968 and 1970, respectively. earl campbell, perry farrell, amy sedaris and billy bean were born on the 29th of march in 195, 1959, 1961 and 1962. pick three of these celebrities and learn four new things about each of them. read a book or watch a movie that is about them. if you live in texas, for example, campbell was born in tyler; make a trek to that town and find a statue or mural or something the town loves to show off about him. interpret this task in a way that suits your abilities and interests. but you must share four things (lines of dialogue from a film or text from a book or lyric... four facts new to you... something of your choosing for each of the three.

so i did this a couple of sundays ago... there's earl campbell parkway in tyler, texas. it's a nice street. if memory serves, the district's administration building and technology center are on this street. i like that.

number five. delerue and silvestri. georges delerue and alan silvestri were born on march 12, 1925 and march 23, 1950, respectively. the task: watch films [FIVE for each if you can (HAH! aren't i funny?)] whose scores were composed by either gentleman. whose music do you prefer? give me five reasons why one's better than the other.

i borrowed what i could find from the library. i googled some of delerue's music the night before last and listened to a few minutes from a handful of soundtracks.

number six. jack nicholson won best actor twice: in the 48th academy awards on march 29, 1976 for one flew over the cuckoo's nest; in the 70th academy awards on march 23, 1998 for as good as it gets.

i borrowed one flew over the cuckoo's nest from the library.