Three Hundred Sixty Five

June 25, 2022

I'm going to see how long it takes me to watch three hundred sixty-five films. Some of yall know my intense love of film and suspect, I'm sure, this won't be much of a challenge. One movie a day. Shouldn't be too tricky. Yall. I've not watched barely any movies AT ALL. This year, I've seen one in theaters: Top Gun: Maverick (twice, because it's badass). The films for this challenge can be those I've seen, and genre does not matter. The kick is each film has to be connected to the previous one by at least one actor.

Example: Top Gun stars Val Kilmer who's in Tombstone with Michael Rooker. 

Begun: May twenty-sixth.

One. Top Gun. I love Maverick and Goose. The story sucks, but I want to like it so I remember it being better than it is. Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise have NO chemistry whatsoever. I mean, she plays a different field so why should they?

Two. Tombstone. BEST. WESTERN. E V E R. Val Kilmer at his finest. Good cast. Great story.

Three. Days of Thunder. Meh. Typical Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott fanfare.

Four. For Love of the Game. BEST. BASEBALL. FLICK. E V E R. Great story. LOVE Kelly Preston's character and her portrayal. Would that they would've gotten someone other than Kevin Costner, but... oh well.

Five. Into the Wild. Never seen it. Good story. SAD. Did not end at all the way I would've liked.

Six. The Adam Project. 
Love Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner and Zoe Saldana. Cool story, bro. I enjoyed it. I don't know what it is, but something about Ryan in this one reminds me of my affable older brother... and that awkward little boy reminds me of myself. And watching those two interact kind of reminded me of how Jon and I would, and it makes me miss him and wish I'd been better to him.

Seven. Definitely, Maybe. LOVE LOVE LOVE Isla Fisher. I've seen this before but not in its entirety. Cute movie. Clever. Maybe not so different than the one before it after all. Also I now understand why people prefer American Spirits.

Eight. Tag.
I love stories inspired by real life stuff. A group of boys have been playing the same game of Tag for thirty years. In the film, one of them's NEVER been tagged. Isla Fisher makes this movie for me. This is my favorite film of hers.

Nine. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. This the only film in this franchise I've seen beginning to end. I suspect they're all like this one. I dig the cast, though.

Ten. Top Gun: Maverick. SO, SO, SO much BETTER than the first one. Penny Benjamin!!! Goose, Jr.! And the STORY... it actually HAS a story, not just a bunch of dudes flying around with their hair on fire. Good times, yall. GOOD times.

Eleven. Apollo Thirteen. I love EVERYTHING about this film.

Twelve. The Terminator. First time I saw it, at nine, I was petrified. Now… meh.

Thirteen. Vertical Limit. Never seen it. Never have I been so happy to see a bad guy die.

Fourteen. The Right Stuff. Never seen it in its entirety. LOVE this movie. Love this cast.

Fifteen. American Underdog.
Never seen it. SUCH a KICKASS story. Beyond WORTHY of the screen. I was bored OUT OF MY MIND the first third of it... and found mild interest in the film here and there after that. Bad screenwriting, bad casting. SUPER disappointed in this one. I did LOVE the Wheaties scene though. Best thing about the movie was watching him wrestle with dreams while trudging through mediocrity.

Sixteen. Collateral. Never seen it. Liked a LOT of it but not one I'd want to watch again.

Seventeen. Thanks for Sharing. Never seen it. Man this one's rough. Never, ever want to watch it again.

Eighteen. The Lucky Ones. Never seen it. NOT to be confused with the Lucky One. I feel like this one flew well below radar with regard to publicity, and maybe it's not a stellar movie, but I liked it... And then when I was copying text from Facebook (where I started keeping track) to here, I had to remind myself what movie this was, so... apparently it's forgettable.

Nineteen. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Not my favorite Marvel dude. Only watched the others because of the other Marvel dudes in them. Only watched this one because I needed something Rachel McAdams and wanted to do something I'd not seen and to see the other Marvel dudes so of course I had low expectations. Of the Strange flicks, I like this one the best. Its visual stun and several scenes shock and awe. And, most impressive to me, Vision's role--her longing, heartbreak, impotence and rage. A perfect storm.

Twenty. War Horse. Never seen it. Took me three days to finish it. Neat story but POORLY executed and MUCH TOO long.

Twenty-one. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. I'm still pissed they broke this book into two movies. Half the scenes in this one could've been cut. I didn't need to see Hermione obliviate her parents or dance with Harry in a tent or listen to Billy Nighy tell the muggle ministry that the magical ministry would stand to protect them... Harry found what... one horcrux in this movie? Hogwash. I'd thought when I'd seen it the first time I was being too critical. Nonsense.

Twenty-two. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Haven't seen it in its entirety. I do love me some Captain Jack... and maybe some Will Turner, too. And the visuals are awesome. I liked that this one was more complex than the original. An abundance of characters contributes to that, but all those people can overwhelm. I liked it. Probably won't watch it again though because Keira Knightley sucks. 

Twenty-three. Finding Nemo. I like everything about this movie except Dory.

Twenty-four. Incredibles 2.

Twenty-five. Wall-E. Never seen it. Never want to see it again.

Twenty-six. Monsters Inc. Never seen it. Cute movie. But I've gotten myself into cartoon hell...

Twenty-seven. Inside Llewellyn Davis. Never seen it. DO NOT WATCH THIS. MORBID and DEPRESSING. And Oscar Issac’s character is a piece of shit. You never get inside his head. No redemption. Utter waste of time. Worst one on the list so far, by far.

Twenty-eight. Dune. Never seen it. STUPID. STUPID. S T U P I D.

Twenty-nine. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Never seen it. LOVED its complexity and intricacy. GOOD movie.

And now I am in one degree hell because the next movie I've watched is Zombieland, which means I've to figure out a way to get from Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan, Charlie Sheen, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella and Shia LeBouf to Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, that wuss Jesse Eisenberg and Bill Murray. So far, the only way I can do it in one is No Country for Old Men. I am NOT watching that shit. I've seen clips. I get the gist.

So... in less than five minutes after I originally posted this, I found a movie starring both Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray. HUZZAH!!!

Thirty. A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. Never seen it. Never heard of it. Similar to Inside Llewelyn Davis in that the main character is a selfish bastard and there's no redemption, in the notion that the character becomes better, in the end. Better because people love Charles, despite that selfishness. Because here's the thing, the dude does care. Not well, and not consistently, but he loves. He is messed up, but he owns it. Super obvious, though, that Charles and Charlie are the same person. Interesting, self-deprecating characters paired with some mid-century funk makes for a good mix. 

Thirty-one. Zombieland. Heard of it. Never seen it, nor have I wanted to do so. Working at a liquor store with a coworker during slow times means we watch a LOT of movies. He'd chosen eight of these, including this one, and next on the list makes nine. He loves this movie because it turns up to eleven every plot device used in every zombie ever made. It's sheer ridiculousness. I did not enjoy it. And I've already said what I think of Jesse Eisenberg. Ultimately, he's the reason I've not watched this before. 

Thirty-two. Dedication. I freaking LOVE this movie. HARD. I remember working the music shift at Barnes and Noble one dull night and keeping myself occupied by watching trailers on the Red Dot kiosks. After viewing this one's, I bought the DVD, confident I would love it, and I DID. It's ballsy, yall. It starts in a porn theater--children's book collaborators stumped for a book idea. It's got a solid cast, and Billy Crudup excels in his role. I think it's his best work. I never tire of watching this one. Justin Theroux did good with this one.

Thirty-three. Hot Fuzz. Never seen it. Another coworker selection--a favorite of his. I dig it. It's fun. And Simon Pegg is a rock star.

Thirty-four. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Never seen it in its entirety. Some have suggested I read that Dale Carnegie book. My psyche leans more to this film's title, though--in a snarky way. But the first time I tried to watch it, I quit after like fifteen minutes. This time I made myself get past the crazy and hang with the story, and I'm glad I did so. Pegg's character wasn't doing the alienating so much as others strove to alienate him.

Thirty-five. Skyfall. Seen it. LOVE this bond flick, mostly because of Javier Bardem. He rocks the psychotic bad guy SO WELL.

Thirty-six. This is Forty. Never Seen it. One of the FEW Apatow films I can appreciate. Good story, and Leslie Mann is wonderful.

Thirty-seven. She's Funny That Way. Never Seen it. The title SUCKS and has nothing to do with the story. Good cast. LOVE Kathryn Hahn. Liked the story. Loathed Jennifer Aniston's and Owen Wilson's characters.

Thirty-eight. A Bad Moms Christmas. Never seen it. I liked it for the most part. Good cast.

Thirty-nine: Anchorman Two: The Legend Continues. Never seen it. HATED the first one. This one was FUN. I dig it. 

Forty. Minions: The Rise of Gru. Never seen it. Never seen ANY of the minions flicks. I love those guys. Such a cute and fun movie.

Forty-one. I Can Do Bad All by Myself. Never seen it. Good story, but a little cliche at times. I love Taraji Henson.

Forty-two. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Homecoming. Never seen it. I liked it a lot

Forty-three. Star Trek. Seen it a thousand times. Never tire of this one.

Forty-four. Starsky and Hutch. Seen it. I like Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman and Snoop Dogg’s characters. Stiller and Owen are decent.

Forty-five. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Seen it. Love it. I think it’s Stiller’s best work.

Forty-six. The Last Word. Never seen it. Really liked it. Woman wants her obituary written before she dies, only she doesn’t like how the obit writer sums up her life so they make a mad dash to change the ending.

Forty-seven. Because I Said So. Seen it. Like it well enough. LOVE Gabriel Macht.

Forty-eight. Morning Glory. Seen it. LOVE this movie. Girl dreams of working for the Today Show and struggles to make that a reality. Love Diane Keaton—her character in this film is my favorite of her work. Love Harrison Ford. LOVE Rachel McAdams—she plays cute well.

Forty-nine. The Hot Chick. Never seen it. Wish I hadn’t.

Fifty. Seventeen Again. Seen it. Remember liking it when I watched it but talked myself into thinking it was stupid since. But Scarlet, Ned and the principal entertain me.

Fifty-one. The Other Woman. Seen it. LOVE IT. Cracks me UP.

Fifty-two. Wimbledon. Seen it. Had forgotten that I’d enjoyed it. Light-hearted and fun. Plus: Paul Bettany’s adorable.

Fifty-three. Mona Lisa Smile. Seen it. Like it well enough.

Fifty-four. Confessions of a Shopaholic. Seen it. Cute.

Fifty-five. Instant Family. Seen it. Liked it better the second time.

Fifty-six. Spirited. Never seen it. Enjoyed it. And I don’t usually like musicals.

Fifty-seven. Daddy’s Home 2. Never seen it. Hadn’t seen the first one. Hadn’t wanted to watch that one, but this one with Mel Gibson and John Lithgow… meh.

Fifty-eight. The Departed. Seen it. Couldn’t remember why I loved it because it’s GOOD… and then I remembered it gets REALLY REALLY lame.

Fifty-nine. Ford Vs. Ferrari. Seen it. LOVE this movie HARD. SO much perfection.

Sixty. The Lincoln Lawyer. Seen it. LOVE this movie more and more every time I watch it.

Sixty-one. Someone Like You. Seen it. Like the characters. Story sucks.

Sixty-two. Where the Heart Is. Seen it. Sucks.

Sixty-three. Thor: Love and Thunder. Never seen it. Thought I might like it better than the last one. It sucked more than ALL the other Thors combined. ALL OF THEM.

Sixty-four. The Big Short. Never seen it. Bankers are SLEAZE, the politicians who sleep with them have incurable diseases, and the dudes who profited from it are the sickest bastards ever to walk the earth. 

Sixty-five. By the Sea. Never seen it. SLOW. Not a lot happening on the surface of things. Good undercurrents though.

Sixty-six. Playing by Heart. Seen it. LOVE this movie. Awesome cast. Slow, but I don’t mind it. Cleverly told. LOVE the characters and complexity.

Sixty-seven. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Seen it. LOVE it.

Sixty-eight. The Lost City. Seen it. Sucked.

Sixty-nine. Free Guy. Never seen it. It’s clever… and then plugging into the Matrix came to mind, and I couldn’t stop comparing Guy to Neo. And then one character threw in “white privilege”, and I lost interest… but I can’t use Sandra Bullock more than once at a time, and I don’t feel like picking a different one. Lots of Deadpool feels. Also main girl dreams of being Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction. Only so many stories out there, and I’m all for parody, but… pilfering’s shit. Which IS, I ultimately realized, the point.

Seventy. The Proposal. Seen it. Like it. Like it more having realized I love Sandra Bullock’s character’s depth—it’s FAR greater than in any other of her films.

Seventy-one. Miss Congeniality. Seen it. Like it.

Seventy-two. Miss Congeniality 2. Seen it. SUCKS.

Seventy-three. A Cinderella Story. Never seen it. Y'all. This may very well be the shittiest on the list. 

Seventy-four. The Coneheads. Never seen it. I was too serious to appreciate them in my childhood. I liked it MUCH better than I thought I would. Phil Hartman!! Chris Farley!! The story would never NEVER EVER fly now.

Seventy-five. You’ve Got Mail. Seen it. I always think I like this one better than I do. But but the big, bad, chain store (for and to which I have whored myself dozens of times) seeks to wreak havoc in the community and shut down all the small shops. And Meg and Tom are IN RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE… which bothers me more and more every time I watch it. I think Heather Burns, Dave Chapelle, Parker Posey and Steve Zahn make this movie. The ending BLOWS.

Seventy-six. Larry Crowne. Seen it. Forgettable—because I’d forgotten I’d seen it. Stupid story. Julia Roberts is ridiculous.

Seventy-seven. Ticket to Paradise. Never seen it. Stupid. Julia Roberts is almost as ridiculous in this one as the last.

Seventy-eight. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Never seen it. More of the same… but the tale and characters get a little more lackluster with every new chapter. I watch them because of the dude playing the villain… but they’re more of the same.

Seventy-nine. Eat Pray Love. Never seen it. Didn’t care much for it until the end. While I liked the ending it’s not enough to save it.

Eighty. Prisoners. Seen it. SO good. Gripping and gutsy story-telling.

Eighty-one. Far from Heaven. Never seen it. This one was like watching an old school movie or play in theater. Such beautiful craftsmanship. The story will wreck you, though. I'm glad I watched it. I don't want to see it again.

Eighty-two. Non-Stop. Never seen it. Typical Liam Neeson… always the same gruff, barely-tethered, traumatized, God-complexed savior.

Eighty-three. The Gentlemen. Never seen it. Not one I’d normally choose, but the cast ensemble interested me. I LOVE Hugh Grant in it. Also Matthew McC—and I don’t normally love him. This is definitely my favorite of his films. He’s a BADASS in it. I like this one a LOT. Have watched it multiple times since the first viewing.

Eighty-four. The Banshees of Inisherin. HAUNTING and awful. Steer CLEAR of this one. It’s MESSED UP. NEVER want to see it again. Shockingly awful. This got nominated for, and I’m sure won, some Oscars. That should tell you EVERYTHING you need to know.

Eighty-five. Mission Impossible II. I don’t think I’d seen it before. More of the same. Just another money-making vessel.

Eighty-six. The Saint. Seen it. I remember liking it better, probably because Val Kilmer.

Eighty-seven. The Bookshop. Seen it. Lovely. Inspired me to read Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, which is awesome. Oh but the film's SO sad. I’m not eager to see, again, Patricia Clarkson play SUCH a bitch, but then Bill Nighy is SO SO sweet, and it’s got a beautiful love story to balance all the hate. I watched this with my parents at River Oaks' theater. Never has a film filled me with such rage at the ruination of a woman and her dream, at the despicable influence one woman has on a village. It's the best rendition of cancel culture at its worst. Everyone should watch it. The machinations in this film are IMPRESSIVE. 

Eighty-eight. Miracle. SUCH an AWESOME story and a perfect telling. The opening credits are some of the best sequencing and piecing I’ve ever seen, and the music is LOVELY.

Eighty-nine. Pieces of April. Seen it. I adore this film. Mostly because of Patricia Clarkson… she plays a bitch… but redeems herself, and it’s so gratifying to see… ESPECIALLY since the film’s set on Thanksgiving.

Ninety. It Runs in the Family. Never seen it. This is pathetic in SO many ways. I wanted to turn it off twenty minutes into it. I do like Mrs. Douglas. She redeems it a wee bit. And then there’s Bernadette. I chose it because of her. It’s not awful. I wouldn’t watch it again.

Ninety-one. Winter Solstice. Never seen it. Wish I hadn't. One of the most boring films ever. Should've had great depth and intense conflict. Barely scratched the surface.

Ninety-two. X-Men: The Last Stand. Seen it. This movie is SUCH shit.

Ninety-three. Jesus Revolution. Never seen it. MUCH better than I thought it would be.

Ninety-four. Dear Eleanor. Never seen it. Cute flick. I enjoyed it, mostly because of the characters and cast. Not one I'd want to see again.

Ninety-five. Some Kind of Beautiful. Never seen it. Picked it because I love Salma Hayek and like Jessica Alba, and I appreciated both of them in this movie. Salma's got some GREAT scenes. Pierce Brosnan annoyed me, and the story's lame.

Ninety-six. The Greatest. Never seen it. Painfully slow, but it should be. Carey Mulligan’s the best thing about it. Not one I’d want to watch again.

Ninety-seven. The Client. Seen it. LOVE IT. Didn't mind watching it again. Good story, and I LOVE Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. 

Ninety-eight. Double Jeopardy. Seen it. LOVE it. I shouldn’t because SO SO much of it’s hokey as hell, but…

Ninety-nine. Kingsmen: The Golden Circle. Never seen it. Entertaining but not one I want to see again. Julianne Moore can't do bad guy AT ALL.

One hundred. Trust the Man. Never seen it. Liked it. Parts of it show truly despicable men and cemented the notion (again) that I could live perfectly fine without them (which I can... but you need reminding now and again, yeah?) and other parts cracked me up so that by the end, I wanted these asshats to be happy. I don't know that I'd watch it again willingly, but if I happened upon it, I wouldn't switch off.

One. Hitch. Seen it. Like it. Happy to watch it again. LOVE Kevin James. SO SO much.

Two. Little Black Book. Seen it. Liked it SO much better the second time around. Brittany Murphy’s SO GOOD in this.

Three. O Brother Where Art Thou? Seen it. Didn't want to watch it again, but it must be done.
This movie is D U M B.

Four. Up in the Air. Never seen it. Didn't want to, but it too must be done.

Five. Tropic Thunder. Never seen it. Pretty sure this wouldn't fly now.

Six. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Seen it but had forgotten I’d seen it… so… yeah.

Seven. Fatherhood. Never seen it. GOOD movie. Based on the memoir Two Kisses for Maddie by Matt Lougelin.

Eight. The Marrying Man. Never seen it. OH. MY. GOD. This SUCKED. SO SO MUCH.

Nine. Batman. Seen it. LOVE this movie. LOVE Michael Keaton. LOVE LOVE LOVE Jack Nicholson.

Ten. The Quick and the Dead. Never seen it. Never wanted to watch it but I had to get to Cry Macho, and this was quickest way. SO SO SO awful. GOOD GOD, y'all. STEER CLEAR of this one. I'd rather watch The Marrying Man than to have to watch this trash again.

Eleven. Absolute Power. Never seen it. Never been curious enough to watch it. I like Gene Hackman. His character is ABSOLUTELY terrible, and he plays him WELL. That's the only good thing I've to say about this one.

Twelve. Cry Macho. Never seen it. Yet another Clint Eastwood being his typical gruff, I-hate-people-but-must-be-the-one-to-save-them grumpy bugger badass. I didn't like anything about this movie and never want to see it again. 

Thirteen. Hollywood Homicide. Never seen it. Crap. 

Fourteen. Man on a Ledge. Seen it. I love a good revenge story. This one's solid.

Fifteen. People Like Us. Seen it. LOVE this movie. Such a wonderful story.

Sixteen. Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. Never seen it. Never want to see it again.

Seventeen. All the Bright Places. Never seen it. Read and loved the book. People talk all the time about why someone struggling with mental illness "never" asked for help. BULLSHIT. People just don't want to see it. One character asks for help, but no one wants to give it. Because he can recognize the need for help in others, he saves a girl from grief. And she recognizes that he needs it himself... It's GOOD, y'all. Please watch it.

Eighteen. Bottle Rocket. Never seen it. NOT good. Don't bother.

Nineteen. Wedding Crashers. Seen it. Didn't want to watch it again, but I needed to connect some dots, and I thought maybe I'd like it better the second time around... so many people LOVE this movie, it seems. I wanted to be able to do so. It's TRASH.

Twenty. Aloha. Not seen it in its entirety. Tried to watch it but couldn't get into it. John Krasinski's AWESOME in it. Alec Baldwin's good. The rest of the cast blows... because the story BLOWS.

Twenty-one. Burnt. Seen it. LOVE this movie, too. GOOD story, great characters. Redemption, y'all. Redemption is AWESOME.

Twenty-two. Rush. Seen it. Niki Lauda's story is MIRACULOUS. Everyone should see it.

Twenty-three. Easy A. Seen it. LOVE it. Loved watching it again. This might be my favorite of Emma's films.

Twenty-four. Burlesque. Seen it. Like it.

Twenty-five. Safe Haven. Seen it. This is probably the best of Nicholas Sparks' stories. All his films have been cute and sappy and sweet and saccharine and blah blah blah. This one, though... this one had me jumping out of my skin in the theater, and that one of his story's could do that shocked the hell out of me. It's GOOD, y'all.

Twenty-six. Spider-Man: Far from Home. Never seen it. Predictable as hell. Too reliant on CGI. But I do like Tom Holland, Marissa Tomei and Zendaya.

Twenty-seven. The Italian Job. Seen it. LOVE it.

Twenty-eight. Bombshell. Never seen it. John Lithgow, y'all. He's GOOD in this movie. His character's utterly revolting, but he rocks the role. Good cast. Great story.

Twenty-nine. The Truman Show. Seen pieces of it. Good story.

Thirty. Dumb and Dumber. Seen it. Liked it better the second time... but not by much.

Thirty-one. Oh, God! Seen it. Meh.

Thirty-two. Pretty Woman. Seen it. Like it a little more every time I watch it. Still wish they'd chosen someone other than Richard Gere, but apparently Julia Roberts really wanted him to play the part he'd originally refused.

Thirty-three. Mystic Pizza. Seen pieces of it. Know it's loved by many. Not my thing.

Thirty-four. Air. Never seen it. SO SO good!

Thirty-five. It's Kind of a Funny Story. Seen pieces of it. Couldn't get into it before. Glad I watched it. GOOD story.

Thirty-six. The Hangover. Never seen it. NEVER wanted to watch this one. Glad I did! Cracked me UP.

Thirty-seven. We’re the Millers. Never seen it. Never wanted to watch this one, either, but I had time for one more movie, and friends recommended it, so... Meh. 

Extraordinary Activity

 I've been wanting to write this for months but wasn't ready to do so. I attend a church whose benediction, spoken at the conclusion of each service, goes like this:

Because we have received the DNA of Jesus and because we want to see His kingdom come, we will be His hands and feet in a broken world. We will be love where there is no love, we will be peace where there is no peace, we will be hope where there is no hope, and we will expect extraordinary God activity at all times, knowing wherever we go, the kingdom goes with us for His fame and glory. Amen.

I have never witnessed such extraordinary activity in my life as I have this year.

For three weeks in January, we fast with intention to develop new habits, whether they're emotional, mental, physical or spiritual. The church seeks to develop a habit of daily, hourlong time with Jesus from six to seven a.m. It's still black outside, and cold (yes, Texas knows cold), and the drive to church takes a good twenty minutes for me. The last thing I want to do is get up in the bleak of morn to drive twenty minutes to church to spend time with Jesus and pray with other when I can't keep my eyes open. But I do it... not daily, of course, but I do go enough that I am content with my effort.

The church isn't open on Friday. They give the staff that morning to sleep. I'd forgotten this. He woke me. I got up, dressed, drove and found that only one other car was in the parking lot, one belonging to my friend, also named Jennifer. She sad her cat had woken her by sitting on her face. She figured she was supposed to get up. We sat in her SUV talking for a good while. I'd asked her why people didn't want to spend time with me. She didn't want to upset me, was wary of answering, but I told her I wanted to know so I could be better with people. She told me then I talk too much.

I wish I could tell you I've always struggled with this. My parents spent a significant amount of money taking me to assorted counselors in my childhood and adolescence. I had so much about which to talk, so many subjects I could broach, so many wounds needing healing. But I was ashamed of them all. Some still weigh heavy in my mind and heart. I couldn't talk. I couldn't let the world know how much I hated myself for the things I'd done, how much I hated my peers and teachers. How much I wanted to die. I couldn't admit any of it.

When I thought I'd found love twenty years ago, when I'd been spinning at the top of a glorious whirlpool and he said things that, like the hand of God, shoved me into its depths where I stayed for years afterward... the things he said made sense. It was the way he said them... on his couch with our legs and arms entwined, my head resting on his shoulder, my hand resting on his heart, my tears leaking onto his shirt... NOT because of what he'd said, but all the ghosts, all the boys I'd known. I heard him. I was on the same page he was. If I could've said so, maybe I would've found a way out of the water and onto the shore, where he'd gone. If I could've said I'm with you... but in that moment, I wasn't there. Somehow I'd found the drain and gone through it into the abyss where the ghosts, all the terrible things boys have said to me up to the time I'd met him, where they hide and lie and wait. And I cannot kill them. I could not tell him where I'd gone or how I'd gotten there. I didn't want his pity. 

I've dated since him... but still I could not communicate. One said I had internal conflicts and reservations, and that pissed me off. What woman doesn't? What man? I wasn't able to communicate with a man until my last relationship bought it six years ago. Oh was I glad to be free of him. I had no trouble whatsoever losing him. His idea of a relationship was emotional and mental abuse. I got enough of that from myself, especially for completely dropping the bar my fathers, uncles and cousins had set, allowing him the opportunity to all but ruin me. Damned if I'd take it from him, too. Damned if I'll do that again.

The point is... like in every other aspect of my character, I've gone from not talking about things that matter to me to talking about ALL the things. I share too much. I've yet to learn to listen. 

I say all this because a few days ago, I'd been talking to yet another Bumbler, a traveling nurse who was in my neck of the woods. I'd notice the traveling bit in his profile but had overlooked where home was for him. I'm too hasty with the swiping sometimes. I know this. We exchanged numbers and began talking. One of the first questions I'd asked was about the traveling and where he was based. He'd said Lubbock. 

Lubbock. The mouthbreather from six years before, his last location known to me was Lubbock. Two thoughts: Oh, this again. SWELL. Also, fuck if I drive to Lubbock. I don't care how good the guy might be. I am NEVER going back to that city. I felt this in my gut. I acknowledge it but didn't act on it. And then there were all the words, the keys shall we say that unlock a woman's defenses. I recognized them, but didn't act on them. We met. More unease. And that same day, I let him go.

Yall. I can't tell you how proud of this I am. I engaged in what had, for the most part, been good conversation. I was more alert to the flags. I saw them waving. But I also didn't want to assume the dude was a jackass just because the rest I've known had been so... and I would've wanted a man to give me the same grace. I gave it. I rescinded it, and I did so in what I thought was a mature and eloquent manner. Of course he didn't respond... just disappeared as all the others have done. Yes, I probably should've heeded the first flag and nipped it in the bud then and there. I'm learning. Still. 

Listening's hard stuff. God's been teaching me, and I'm starting to pay attention.

BUT, while that is, to me gold, these other things, like Jennifer and I both going to church that Friday when it was closed, I have seen miracles.

I've talked about the dental work, and all the ordeals from that. I believe I referenced in that post the goodness I've known through those experiences.

Let me tell you about my favorite, the most extraordinary activity of all.

I severed ties with my previous employer, a tutoring facility, January fifth. They'd cut my hours from full to part-time and reduced them to something like five per week. That would've been about eighty dollars, and with taxes cut I would've seen about sixty-five. It cost me, at the time about sixty bucks to fill up my tank. So I would've been commuting an hour round trip three days a week to earn the money I'd need to spend on gas to get me to work. No thank you. I cleared out my cubicle, most of my belongings there were food, and resigned, effective immediately. On the way home I found a woman dressed in a pink parka with heavy brown fur lining, standing roadside on the edge of Trader Joe's parking lot. I thought, help her. And then I thought I've twenty bucks, and I just quit my job. I passed her. I thought again, you have food, and she needs that twenty bucks more. So I turned into the parking lot, circled back to her and gave her what I had.

Two days later, as I was leaving Target, I saw an elderly man standing at the lot's exit to the intersection. I had ten dollars. I gave it to him.

The next day, Saturday, I got up and went to prayer at the church, I'd dreaded the immature way I'd handled my funds over the past week or so. I needed roughly a thousand dollars to get me through the coming month. That's how irresponsible I'd been. I stood and shared the troubles then sat while others prayed aloud for me. I felt called to turn the gentleman behind me and reach for his hand. When I did, he took it and slipped something inside it. I knew it was cash. I didn't look then to see how much it was. When I left the church, the prayer pastor handed me money she wanted to give to me. And then I had breakfast with another church member, and she hired me, paying me five hundred dollars, to help her with work for the charity she ran.

I tithed, in my own way, thirty dollars after resigning that job, one God had been telling me for weeks to leave.

The man seated behind me blessed me with one hundred dollars--ten times what I'd given the man standing alone. The prayer pastor, a generous woman, blessed me with two hundred--twice what I'd given the woman standing alone. And then another woman blessed me with five hundred. 

I took fifty dollars from the money she'd given me and bought groceries for the church's children's food drive. Exactly fifty dollars worth. When has that ever happened? I used some of the money to update my vehicles registration and inspection, and while there, I asked the manager, a friend of mine for almost three decades, about the food drive going on, and how hardly anyone's donated, and would he be willing to contribute fifty bucks. He said yes and reached in his wallet before I'd finished the question. So with his help, I purchased one hundred dollars of food and took it with me to church the next day.

And while I sat in the 9:45 service, the prayer pastor texted wanting to know if I were there and then, yes, she saw me on live feed. Someone else had given her money to pass onto me. Two hundred more dollars. Twentyfold what I'd spent the day before. 

Yall. It is so easy to look at the people following too closely or sitting too long at the light or constantly getting in your way when you've got ten minutes to grab something for that dinner with friends and think the day is SHIT. It is SO easy.

I dare you to look instead for the extraordinary.

With Teeth

April 19, 2022

I know. I know. Yall should be used to the infrequent posts by now, though, yeah? I haven't wanted to write. But four months is inexcusable. Let me catch yall up. 

January. I started the year weighing one hundred thirty-five pounds. This has not happened in well over a decade. Last April I weighed fifty pounds more than now.

The past is prologue: I'd put most of that weight on beginning April five years before and kept it because I had given up on life and love and was waiting to die. I suspect the darkness of the past posts have reflected this well. I'd been drinking much too much during that period, and the more despaired I became, the more I drink. Hello. Alcohol's a depressant. I know this. I knew it would expedite the process of dying. It could not come fast enough.

I'd bought a miniature refrigerator for my bedroom to stash food and canned sodas so I wouldn't have to see my parents so much. And then I stopped stocking the food and sodas I did not need to eat and replaced those with canned wine and hard seltzers. I'd work (this was pretty much all last year), come home to have dinner and watch Fox with my parents, then go upstairs, take the prescriptions to help me sleep (drugs that weren't working--can't imagine why... DUH), grab four cans of wine or seltzer, play Seekers Notes on my mother's computer and drink until I felt I could sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

I couldn't tell you how long this went on... but there came a night when I'd puked up so much red wine I'd disgusted myself. And another night... or maybe the same one, I can't remember... I stumbled (my parents thought I'd slipped on a bath mat and, the next day put those rug holder things underneath them) and landed on my right elbow. Nothing hurt. My cousin, a surgical tech, said drunks often don't hurt themselves because their bodies are so lax. I woke my parents. My father called from the bottom of the stairs (thank you, Jesus, for keeping him so distant) to ensure I was alright, as I wrapped my elbow in an Ace bandage so I wouldn't get blood on the sheets. 

The next morning I woke to see I'd bled through most of the bandage. The cut on my elbow looked much deeper than the night before (can't imagine why). My mother said it needed stitches, and so I got them. 

My father knew I was drinking too much, of course. But he only mentioned it one time, long before this happened. 

I stopped drinking so much after this. I've not stocked alcohol upstairs since that fall. This would be one of the reasons I lost weight. The other is I stopped shoveling so much crap. So... January...

I resigned my job as a tutor because I wasn't tutoring. I had five hours a week to work with children, and the rest of the time I was doing administrative tasks. Part-time tutors were given more opportunity to work with students. My boss, a man who took over management of the center in December because the owner wanted to see a greater financial return on his investment, decided because I showed reluctance to do the work I had not been hired to do that he would demote me to part-time...which meant five hours times sixteen dollars... which means eighty dollars per week... which is sixty-five or so after taxes... and that will buy me one tank of gas because of Biden's inflation. The commute is thirteen miles, which doesn't sound so bad, except it takes about forty minutes, and my thirteen-year-old Nissan doesn't get the best gas mileage. So basically I'd be making money to buy gas to get to work to make money to buy gas... and I loathed the new manager, whose wife is the assistant manager. Neither of these people speak a word of truth, and the things they say to children are flabbergasting. The manager told two unrelated first-graders their parents had named them after a gun and his favorite adult beverage. What man in his right mind speaks to children this way? I quit cold turkey and collected unemployment, which was more than I would've made had I stayed.

I have seen five different dentists in the past decade.

Caveat: I smoked as many as three packs of cigarettes a day, beginning in April of 'ninety-two through June of 'seven. When I lost Adam in 'two and Jon in 'three, for a couple months after each loss, I went days without brushing my teeth. I smoked lots of cigarettes and drank lots of sodas. I have caused all the forthcoming crap with negligence and disregard.

The first of these, and I don't remember how long he "treated" me, loved milking patients for money by doing poor work which necessitated costlier work. One of those faulty jobs resulted in a necessary tooth extraction... I'd posted about this at the time of the surgery, but that post did not survive the great culling of 'fifteen... as far I can tell anyway.

After that surgery, I started seeing my mother's dentist, who informed me the previous one had left drill bits where he'd done root canals, who neglected to adhere to my caution at the beginning about my high tolerance for pain, resulting in the need for yet another extraction.

I was about to lose my job at the newspaper (which I did not mind, by the way, because they were working on moving me to covering news, and I didn't want to write such stories because I knew they would only feed my psyche's darkness, which has become less and less tolerable... I suppose because of the drinking, but more because I've been trying to understand things I should not touch). Anyway... I had nine hundred dollars on an FSA card that I had to use in four days or I'd lose it, and my dentist couldn't see me.

So I found another who extracted, without sedation, that tooth and put a crown on the one next to it.

The next dentist did not think my teeth had issues meriting attention.

The next one seemed better... which brings us to January.

I noticed that the last crowned tooth's gums had receded more than felt comfortable to me and looked gray. I went to that dentist, who said it just needed another crown. It didn't. I knew it didn't... the pain below it was too significant, even to me, and it looked like things were dying down there. She insisted. I went to church to pray I'd find a better one.

Four days before I'd seen that dentist, I drew a sort of barometric pressure map of how my face's muscles feel. That morning, I'm standing in this dentist's lobby, looking at an abstract painting that looked much too similar to that map, only the picture was flipped. Not a reflection of me but as though I'd come face-to-face replica, one that was eye-level. It was like looking at my soul. I'm standing there as an office assistant is trying to get a hold of my insurance company, and tears are streaming... so I go speak to the dentist again and reiterate my concerns and how I think the pain is caused by some sort of toxins. She says, "I'm a dentist. I deal in teeth. I can recommend a holistic dentist for you..." And so I went back to the reception area to stare at the painting some more, to weep some more. It's gray at this office. I see no blue anywhere but in that painting. When the assistant informs they do not take my insurance, I head for church.

When I arrive, the sky blue for what seems like miles. No gray. Anywhere. 

I go to the prayer pastor's office to get the wifi password. She sees I am stressed and offers to help. I tell. She listens. And then she tells me to give her my insurance card so she can make a copy of it and that she wants to find me a dentist. I let her. She texts me that afternoon with four names.

That Saturday, another crown comes off. This one's on the other side of the extraction site. The tooth is black and brown. I am grateful that it's come off so that when I tell the next dentist, whomever that is, of how serious my concerns are he or she might take me seriously. I had ruled out one of the four dentists. I call the others. One of the three doesn't have an answering machine. I rule him out, too, and leave messages with the other two. 

Monday morning, I decide against waiting until they return my call. I go to the one nearest my house. His doors are locked with signage all over them about COVID restrictions. I decide that's not my guy. I go to the other. That office had a cancellation five minutes ago and can see me right now. And I meet a woman who seems genuinely concerned about her patients. She believes she can save the first tooth, even though there's not much tooth left, that it only needs a crown, as the other does. So they put on temporaries. And when the permanents arrive... the crown on the back tooth (not the one that had looked gray) goes on without a hitch. The other one, though... the dentist who put the crown on it (the one I'd paid with my FSA) left little tooth. When the dental assistant goes to fit that crown, it fits so well the tooth breaks down to the gum when he takes it off to put cement in it. So... extraction, but I have to wait until February.

While I'm waiting, another tooth needs a root canal, and she sends me to an endodontist. This one's top left... the other work's been lower right so far. The endodontist says he can fix the root canal, but the guy who did it earlier punctured something he can't fix, and the root canal would be pointless. Another extraction.

Two more teeth need crowns and another needs a cavity repaired, but the extractions take precedence. I schedule the surgery, which would've been done in mid-March, except I found courage to insist it's an emergency... and so it goes on the calendar mid-February instead.

Right around this time I find work at a liquor store. (And before you say, oh shit! This is SERIOUSLY good for me. The more I stock these bottles of badness, the more I see the regular day-drinkers, the greater my resolve becomes to never touch the stuff). I've made all these plans. Fortunately, the owner is good with all of them.

February. Surgery, done Friday morning, goes well. Recovery goes well, I think, until Sunday night I notice something that looks like a pinprick at the broken tooth's surgical site. My jaw hurts, but I figure it's because of the surgery. I shrug it off, but by Friday I figure it shouldn't be hurting so I go back to learn I've got a dry socket.

Don't know what that is? Bone's exposed. The gum's not healing over it. Anything that touches that bone could cause serious infection. Not good. It takes weeks to heal.

I'm feeling as though I'm a nuisance with all the visits to the oral surgeon, the dentist and the orthodontist--I need Invisalign, too. All this work costs, before insurance, some thirteen-thousand dollars. My parents had thirty-thousand save to replace one of their aging vehicles. My father says they'll have to use that money to pay for all this. The guilt for all the work needing to be done, caused by all the neglect from decades before, weighed HEAVY on me. 

And then I go to the orthodontist for a consult. He takes REALLY good pictures of my teeth, and I see that they look SO MUCH MORE disgusting than I'd thought. The weight of all that guilt is crushed by the heartbreak of never feeling so ugly as I did that moment. I felt like monstrous inside and out. I struggled with that for weeks.

I wrote it out and realized all the gains I'd mad e in the past four years, of how this was third and four and I needed to get the first because the goalpost was too far down field. My mind replays footage of quarterbacks throwing balls that don't connect but the ref declares forward progress so they get to try again. I get to try again. And after all this work's done--the cavity, the crowns, the braces, the implants, the crowns--my smile will be amazing again. People used to say all the time my smile's amazing. I've not heard that in too long a time, and I miss the compliment. Anyway...

March. The dry socket heals. I get the cavity fixed. The bottom left molar and the tooth above it, the one next to the tooth that was no longer there, need crowns. The temporaries are put in, though the dental assistant helping this time seems agitated and somewhat inept. She doesn't get a good mold for the lower molar. That temporary comes off about a week later. It's got a hole on the top.  Another assistant fixes the hole, supposedly, and puts it back on over what's left of that tooth. A week later while having lunch with a friend, the lower molar's temporary crown comes off again as I'm eating, and I crush it. 

April. They make another temporary crown. It stays put. I make an appointment to see the orthodontist the day after I get the permanents placed.

A couple weeks later I go to get the permanents. The top one goes on without a hitch.

The lower molar's crown, poorly made by the absentminded assistant, feels terribly wrong in my mouth. I say so. The assistant--there are two I like, and he's one of them--tells me not to move and reaches for some tool to take it out, but my body reacts to the foreign object like you would expect. My tongue pops it off, but the crown lands too far back. He tells me not to sit up, but my body does this anyway, and my tongue's making feeble attempts to get the crown closer to my lips. But my throat is opposed to this. It can't handle that something's so close to it, and as though it's food, swallows it. The crown then gets stuck somewhere around my larynx. I'm coughing and swallowing, and eventually the thing goes down. Amazingly enough, I am laughing about this. I've not been able to laugh about dental work in a decade. I shouldn't be laughing about this, but I think at this point I'm delirious or something. Fortunately, and never has that word seemed more perfect to me, my parents haven't had to pay for temporary and permanent crown recreation. The guy makes a new impression for the permanent and puts on again the temporary. We schedule a new date for the permanent. I reschedule my orthodontist appointment for the day after that.

They tell me, yet again, to chew on my right side. I'm missing three lower teeth. Can you imagine for a moment how hard it would be to chew on your right side when there are no teeth there? And it's barely been a month since the last of those three was removed.

Saturday, the sixteenth. I'm watching Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald with my family. I braved a small bag of popcorn. I'm doing my best to eat on my right side but... I'm halfway through the bag when I feel something that's not a kernel. I suspect I've broken the crown in half. No. Not in half. I've crushed the thing. I fish splinters out of my mouth. 

Monday. I go to the gym and then the dentist. She can see me right then (it's half past nine), but I have to open the store at ten. 

Tuesday, today. They joke that I swallowed the temporary. It's funny, seriously. I laugh. They make me a new temporary, and now I sit at the counter banging these keys.

I have to keep this thing on my tooth until May second. It must happen. Please pray.