My writing prompt for today says, “ Tell us about the best movie to bring on a cleansing cry.” Sometimes you just need to cry because the stress of regular life has built up inside you to the point where it has to come out one way or another. For a situation like that, I think I’d go with Up. The first ten minutes will get all the feels out, and then you can enjoy a delightful movie with a happy ending.
You should definitely not watch the first ten minutes of Up, though, if you are grieving after a miscarriage. If you do, you won’t have a cleansing cry and feel all better. You’ll have an ugly cry and regret your choice to watch any Pixar film ever.
Here’s the thing: Losing a baby is not regular life stress building up. You can’t just have a cry, get it all out, and be done with it. I wish you could. I can’t tell you how sick of crying we are, but no matter how much I cry, it feels like I will never run out of tears. They take a break for a day or two maybe, but they’re always there waiting. Being sad is the worst, especially if you’re normally pretty happy and optimistic like I am. I can’t wait for the day when I wake up and realize it’s been a month since I cried over the loss of my daughter. I can’t wait for the day when I wake up and realize it’s been six months. I can’t wait for the day I think of her with joy and gratitude, not with sorrow and pain.
But this process of cleansing (or changing or healing or grieving or accepting) is not a “one and done” kind of thing. It takes time and a lot more than a movie to get there. I am determined to get there, though.
Although my goal-setting to goal-achievement ratio is…quite bad, I am not discouraged. If you could have seen my room before Sunday and then see it now, you’d give me bonus points for the transformation. I found a bag in there of things from my Christmas stocking. No joke. And I chucked a whole big trash bag of stuff. I’m wondering now if I could do that every weekend. That would definitely be one way to simplify. Hmmm…
Here’s how the list stands now:
Sidewalk chalk a driveway.
Salsa dance party in my living room.
Swing! (aka play on a playground)
Story telling night.
Four square tournament.
Random dress-up night.
Photo scavenger hunt.
Iron Chef: Cookies (bake cookies using ingredients found in the kitchen).
Beach trip! (complete with sand castle contest).
People watch – make up stories about the people.
Public craft night (invite passers-by to join in).
Make a friendship bracelet/mail it to a friend.
Offer to do people’s caricatures in the park.
Send a silly package.
Spend a day in a podunk town just looking around.
Bake cupcakes and give them to my neighbors.
Let a child pick out an outfit for me at Goodwill. Wear it to work.
Buy a plate from Goodwill, paint it to commemorate my Awesome April Adventures, and display it on my mantle.
Set up a free face painting table downtown.
Ride a horse.
Go somewhere after hours.
Ride the carousel at Pullen Park.
I’ve still got the plate ready to go. I just need to come up with a design. And I have a plan in place to go horseback riding this Friday! Plus, there’s sidewalk chalk in my car, so that can happen at any moment. And let me just tell you about the swinging. I went on Saturday night after seeing Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which is really good despite the fact that it sounds really weird and stars Emily Blunt, whom I’d like to hate (because she’s married to John Krasinski and I’m not) but just can’t. And furthermore, who knew it was the Yemen? That was new for me.
Ok so as it turns out, I didn’t want to tell you about the swinging at all, but about the movie, which I’ve done now. Go see it if it’s playing near you. It was delightful.
In unrelated news, I’m sort of on a diet. It’s not terribly strict or anything. I’m just watching how many calories I eat with a goal of losing a goodly amount of weight by this time next year. I’ve been doing it for a couple of weeks, which means theoretically, I should have lost a couple of pounds by now, but since I don’t own a scale, there’s really no way to know, and that’s ok. It’s not about the number, just about paying attention to how much I’m eating and hopefully fitting into smaller clothes in a year. I’m using a Nook app called “Lose It,” which I’m told works sort of the same way Weight Watchers does: You’re allowed a certain amount of calories each day depending on how much you weigh, how tall you are, how much weight you want to lose, how quickly you want to lose it, etc. If you exercise, you’re allowed as many more calories as what you burn doing the exercise. Pretty simple, really. I’ll let you know how the smaller clothes thing is coming along in a few months, but it might help me stay motivated if you tell me I look thinner the next time you see me. I will have forgotten by then that I wrote this, so it doesn’t even have to be true. Thanks, friends!
I had never heard of Haywire until going to see it was suggested as a possible activity for last night, so I watched the trailer. And while skeptical because it starred Channing Tatum, I thought it had potential. I thought it would be like the girl version of a Bourne movie. Rock on! Girls kicking ass! Feminism!
But y’all. It sucked. It was so bad. I like action movies in general, but this was the most boring action movie I’ve ever seen. In trying to be positive, Will described it as being “matter of fact.” Hello, bad guy. We fight now. I win. You die. But I just thought it was terrible. The dialogue was dry and flatly delivered, none of the characters were likable or interesting, and the way the story was told was confusing, but not compelling enough to make you want to figure it out. And in the end, the story really wasn’t that complicated or unpredictable. It was just told in a very odd way. It was like they were trying REALLY hard to make it thrilling and twisty and intellectual, but I was just distracted the whole time by how hard they’d worked to make the main girl look pretty.
And it’s not that she wasn’t pretty. She definitely was. But she was unrealistically put-together at all times. The whole story is supposed to have taken place in just over a week, and in that time, while traveling to at least four cities in three different countries, killing bad guys, fighting for her life and trying to clear her name, she finds time to get a stylish new haircut and then have that haircut braided in cornrows? Please. What, did she have somebody do it on the plane?
Save your money on this one, y’all. Go see The Muppets again if you must go to the movies. It’s totally worth it. Or come over to my place, and we’ll watch an old Bond movie. They’re cheesy, but they’re entertaining.
I seem to have gotten this move off to an odd start by doing things in the wrong order. Just to refresh your memory, here are what I have determined to be the 7 stages of moving (for a more thorough break-down of each stage, go here):
Paying a Butt-Load of Money
Adrenaline Rush (aka Moving Day)
I’m not really sure I did the Dread phase this time around. Maybe a little bit, but I started the Purging phase so long ago that I wasn’t too worried about all the stuff I had left. Don’t get me wrong, I have PLENTY of stuff left (and plenty left to get rid of), but I really have gotten rid of a lot. So I started with Stage 4, skipped Stage 1 entirely, then went to Stage 2, and today we did Stage 3, which turned out not to be so bad after all. AND we got our new keys, so it’s official!!
That all sounds good, right? Sounds like I’m moving right along? Well, yes and no. That puts me at the beginning of Stage 5, which, as we all know, is the most dreaded of them all (including Dread itself). I have not begun to pack at all, which wouldn’t be so bad except that we’re moving in a week and a half.
And I still have a semester to finish. And a Sound of Music Sing-Along to attend. And a Harry Potter movie to watch. Oh it’s going to be a fun couple of weeks, friends! If you feel like coming to help me pack (even simply by way of company and/or motivation), let me know.
I have to leave for work (again) in about 15 minutes, so I don’t have time for a lengthy post about anything, but that’s cool because I don’t have anything lengthy to say about anything, so here are just a few short updates and tidbits:
I LOVE that it’s already Wednesday. This week is going by much more quickly than last week.
Whitney and I are looking for a new place to live. We want a cheaper place, preferably closer to work for me. If you know of anything in the Cameron Village/Wade Ave./downtown/campus area that costs less than $900 for a 2BR or less than $1200 for a 3BR and won’t smell like college boys, do let us know.
I signed up for Netflix. Why oh why did I not do this years ago?? It’s amazing.
I signed up for eHarmony. Just seeing if you were paying attention. Yes? You are? Good because I seriously did. Nothing exciting to report so far, but apparently I am VERY matchable.
I’m having an AWESOME hair day today.
My personal fundraising for my Italy trip is done!!!! I have ALL my money!! My team as a whole, however, is at about 72% funded, so if you still want to contribute, we would love that. I kinda want them to go with me.
I watched a fabulous documentary yesterday that I’ll write more about later, but if you want to go ahead and watch it, it’s called The Rape of Europa. If you have Netflix, you can stream it online. It’s also a book that I might be interested in reading with a book club. Any takers on that? AND I am 100% sure that I want to go on a European art tour. That is of course in addition to my European spy tour and my Sound of Music tour.
Oh! And on July 22, Koka Booth is showing a sing-along Sound of Music, complete with subtitles for all the songs and a costume contest! I’d like to go as Liesl in the gazebo, or perhaps Liesl coming out of the gazebo after being kissed by Rolf. I’ll just hold my arms straight out with an elated look on my face and periodically fling them backward while squealing. But I’d also like to find a dress. Any ideas?
I watched Legends of the Fall the other day for the first time since it was released in theaters in 1994. I do not know how I was allowed to see it at the tender age of 14. I don’t even think I was allowed to watch Dirty Dancing until later than that. But good golly it is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen.
Well, what I thought was going to be a relaxing weekend of nothing at the beach turned out to be a busy three days of hanging out with lots of people, not sleeping very much and designing stage lighting, but that’s just how things go sometimes. No? Some of you are shaking your heads no. Is that not what you do on your relaxing weekends at the beach? Is assembling/disassembling giant paper lanterns and hanging them from 20-foot ceilings for complete strangers’ weddings not a part of everyone’s vacation? Huh. Interesting.
Well, despite the manual labor and the fact that I didn’t ever actually step foot on the sand, I had a great time in Wilmington. I got to hang out with most of my Wilmington peeps, and I only ended up paying for one meal the entire time I was there. See? The manual labor paid off. Literally. And I got back just in time for Community Group last night, which is always a pleasure.
And speaking of pleasures, I think I slept for about ten hours last night. Then I caught up on all my stories (The Office and 30 Rock) and watched Born in East LA, which was loaned to me by a student who recommended I watch it. It’s pretty bad. Cheech Marin gets deported to Mexico even though he’s an American citizen, and he can’t convince anyone that he’s not an illegal immigrant because he accidentally left his wallet (with his ID in it) at home, and apparently all Americans – particularly those involved in any sort of border control – are complete a-wipes. Oh, and his mom and sister have gone to Fresno, and he can’t get in touch with them. So he works in Mexico for like a week with Daniel Stern while his Mexican cousin stays in his house, clueless as to what’s happening because he doesn’t speak English, and believing the entire time that Jesus is speaking to him through a creepy holographic picture that’s covering up the answering machine.
In the end, he’s able to get across the border with a handful of new friends even though by that time, his mom would probably be back in town and able to answer the phone and help him. Oh the silly problems we had before cell phones. Breaking down on the side of the highway and having to walk to get help, forgetting what you were supposed to get at the grocery store and having to go back home for the list, getting wrongly deported and having to work for Daniel Stern in Mexico. God bless technology.
So it’s 2:00, and here I sit, still in my jabambas. My options at this point are to either (A) take a shower and watch more movies, or (B) skip the shower and watch more movies. I suppose I could get a head start on my lesson planning for when class starts back up in May, but I had a pretty exhausting weekend, so I’m thinking I’ll save that for tomorrow. Or next week.
Y’all seriously, I don’t know where time comes from or where it goes. On the one hand, I have no idea how I’ve gotten done the things I’ve gotten done this week, and on the other hand, I feel like I didn’t have a moment to spare until yesterday evening. I am thankful for both hands, though, because I like being productive, and I like a week that goes by quickly in a good way like this one did.
I stayed up way too late every night reading Water for Elephants, which I finished on…Wednesday? Geez, I have no idea. Anyway, I finished it, and let me just tell you, it is good. It has a few racy parts and a lot of cussing, so if you’re not comfortable with either of those, I might not recommend it to you, but if you don’t think you’ll be bothered by them, the story is just really great. It’s told well, it’s interesting, it’s engaging, and the ending, I thought, was perfect. It doesn’t give you the feeling that the author is intentionally trying to keep you guessing, but it also doesn’t reveal everything up front. The timing is just right.
It’s also really interesting to read about the circus in the 1930s. I don’t know how accurate a portrayal it is, but it does seem that the author did a lot of research on it, and a lot of the characters and events were based on true stories from the time, which is neat.
I had a little bit of trouble keeping the minor characters straight. A lot of times it felt like when you’re talking to a friend who’s talking about his/her co-workers, but instead of explaining who they all are every time they’re mentioned, your friend just uses their names as though you know them, and you piece it together. In the end, it doesn’t really matter most of the time whether you know exactly who’s who or not. That’s why they were minor characters.
Anyhoe, the story is about a kid named Jacob, who is in his last semester of veterinary school at Cornell when his parents are killed in a car crash. In his despair, he sort of accidentally winds up on a circus train, where he pretty quickly becomes the show’s vet even though he didn’t finish his final exams. I won’t give anything else away, but from there, you get love, betrayal, murder, schizophrenia, friendship, loyalty, lots of animals, and an old man who can never remember if he’s 90 or 93 years old.
Read it before the movie comes out (in April, I think) because I’m not convinced it’s going to be good. I’ll see it, no doubt, but I’m really just not sure about the casting. I’m excited to see Christoph Waltz in something new because he was so incredibly amazing in Inglourious Basterds, but I’m not crazy about Robert Pattinson or Reese Witherspoon in their roles. I pictured Jacob more, I don’t know, alert-looking and less brooding – more wide-eyed and innocent. And I thought Marlena was closer to his age (Pattinson and Witherspoon are 10 years apart in real life).
Oh! And it seems that the film has done away with Uncle Al entirely and maybe merged him and August into one character? I don’t know, but I do not care for that at all.
Oh well. Like I said, we’ll see. But back to the book.
I’m giving Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen four out of five stars. If I could give it another half, I might (because I think I liked it better than The Help), but I don’t have the ability to type half a star, so four it is. Once again, I wouldn’t say it’s my new favorite book, but I thought it was beautifully and fearlessly written, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. ****
Well first let’s start with an update on my vacation to-do list progress. I spent the weekend with Rachel and Annabelle baking. And hooooo-boy did we bake! I think we made about 90 buck-eye balls, about the same number of pretzels with melted Rolos and pecans on top, roughly 50 Christmas wreaths, and when I left, Rachel was still rolling out and baking cookies. Christmas wreaths, by the way, are super-easy and very delicious. If you’re looking for something festive to make this year, I’ll tell you how to do it.
Basically, they’re like Rice Krispie treats, but you use Corn Flakes instead of Rice Krispies. So you melt the butter and marshmallows together in a pot, and then you add green food coloring until the whole pot of goo is green. Then you add the Corn Flakes and stir until they’re all covered in green goo. Then you plop them in roundish clumps onto wax paper and add a few Red Hots (you know, the tiny cinnamon candies) to look like berries on the wreaths. Then just let them cool and set a bit. Voila!
Oh, and the pretzel thingies were really easy too. We just got the sort of checker-board-looking pretzels (like these) and laid them out on a cookie sheet. Then I painstakingly unwrapped a whole mess of Rolos and placed one on top of each pretzel. We popped those into the oven for a few minutes, just to soften the caramel center of the Rolos. Then we took them out and smushed a pecan half on top of each one to make them a bit flatter and spread the chocolate across the whole pretzel. Let those bad boys cool, and you’ve got yourself a treat.
Oh, and also, I watched FOUR movies this weekend, so I’m very proud of that. It was also on my to-do list, if you recall.
But look at me. I’ve gone and gotten distracted by sweets and films. I meant to tell you about my first weekday of vacation, the first goal of which was to sleep in. Mission accomplished!!! The next goal was to get out of bed and go straight to the shower so as not to sit around all stank in my jabambas all day. BOOM! Showered.
Then, I was supposed to get dressed and put my face on as if I were going to go out to a real job in a real office because they say that’s what you should do if you work from home – treat your job like any other job – with professionalism.
Except when I got out of the shower, I realized that all my clothes were dirty.
So I put on clean jabambas and started a load of laundry. Oh well. I’ll get it right tomorrow. And in the meantime, I’ve got work to do. But hopefully, I’ll have something to say to y’all more often since all my brain power won’t be sucked out of me by the evil lesson planning fairies for the next few weeks.
I live in a musical, if only in my own mind. There’s always a song playing in my head, always a lyric to fit the occasion, and if I had my way, we’d all burst into spontaneous, choreographed dance in the streets daily. The weather (natural lighting) would also fit our moods, and our outfits would always range from just a little over the top to holy sequins, Batman! This is my ideal world.
Unfortunately, the rats on the street don’t all dance around my feet encouragingly (Hairspray), getting mugged in New York is almost never a golden opportunity to throw caution to the wind and start from scratch (Thoroughly Modern Millie), and I fear most child laborers don’t psych themselves up for a long day’s work with a robust song and dance around the city square (Newsies).
The real world isn’t an ideal world, but I can create one by writing a musical.
This is something I’ve been talking about for a while. It’s an idea my sister and I had on our way to Mom and Dad’s house for Christmas one year. We were listening to Neil Diamond, and when “America” came on, we both heard it – really heard it in a new way – as an opening number.
Click play, then read on as you listen.
The strings start out low and ominous as we see the city, quiet and dimly lit in the early morning. Then as one, hopeful, sustained note plays, the sun begins to rise as the city comes to life. Husbands kiss wives good-bye as they head off to work in their suits and hats, women shake out rugs from their balconies, florists open their shops and sweep off their stoops, restaurateurs haggle with fishermen over the price of their daily catch, and as the bell chimes, we see a boat coming into the harbor, its passengers on deck, groggy and shivering, but hopeful as they catch their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.
The music picks up as dock workers and the ship’s crew begin preparations for the boat’s arrival, throwing ropes, sacks and crates in time with the music and readying the gangway.
A male passenger on the deck of the ship sings: Far. We’ve been traveling far, without a home, but not without a star.
Another passenger, surrounded by his wife and several children sings: Free. Only want to be free. We huddle close, and hang on to a dream.
Someone on shore sings: On the boats and on the planes, they’re coming to America. Never looking back again, they’re coming to America.
You get the picture. Characters continue singing lines of the song until everyone aboard and ashore is singing, “Today!”
The captain of the ship descends the gangway slowly singing, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Of thee I sing today!” Then everyone joins back in with the “todays,” and as they leave the boat and enter the immigration building, they stop singing until all that’s left onstage is one boy, looking at the statue, almost whispering, “Today.”
Just thinking about it is making me want to watch it. There’s just one problem: In order to watch it, I have to write it, and I don’t know ANYTHING about writing a play. I honestly don’t know anything about writing fiction. Listening to several Neil Diamond songs, I see scenes playing so vividly in my mind, but I have no idea how they are related to each other or how they’ll string together to make a story.
And that’s part of the reason I want to go to the Living a Better Story Seminar in Portland. Living a story means knowing what a story is all about, and living a better story requires the ability to envision it. That’s basically what you need to write fiction too, am I right?
And ok, so I lied before when I said there was just one thing standing in the way of me watching my musical. There are lots of obstacles:
I have no idea how to write a play. We’ve now covered that. I need writing classes/workshops/groups to help me.
I’ll have to get Neil Diamond’s permission to use his songs.
Once a play is written, I’ll need performers, a place to present it, people to design/make costumes and sets, a marketing team/plan/materials, and money to pay for all of these things.
Not to mention, once the show is written, I’ll need to concentrate all my efforts on getting it ready, which means I’ll need funds to cover my living expenses for a few months.
I want Neil Diamond to appear in the show as Brother Love of “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.”
I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m hoping the conference will teach me a little about story-telling, but also about finding the resources I’ll need to do this (or any other big thing I might want to do). I’m hoping it’ll be an encouraging thing and that it’ll get my creative mind thinking about where to get the money to take the classes and pay the people to build the sets and make the costumes, etc. And I guess I’m really hoping it’ll teach me how to invite others into my story in a way that makes them want to participate and/or follow a big dream of their own.
Here’s a video about the conference for anyone else who’s interested. Wasn’t it so sweet of Don to make this for y’all? I’ll be sure to thank him properly if he picks me to attend the conference (I’m thinking cupcakes, but feel free to leave suggestions for how to thank him properly in the comments).
I realized this morning that I’ve been neglecting my questions lately. I’m trying to find a balance between answering those and just telling you fun stories about what’s happening. For the most part, there aren’t a lot of fun stories about what’s happening because my days are spent sitting on my couch, writing articles, and then driving half an hour to teach. And sometimes after I drive the 30 minutes to teach, there are no students. So…yeah. The questions are really more interesting than my life. All of that is about to change, but I’m not ready to make a formal announcement just yet, so hang in there, internet, and let’s talk about time travel.
Presuming you had a time machine what’s the stupidest and most dangerous thing you would probably do with it, despite having answered this question and having labeled it as both stupid and dangerous?
Well, I think time travel in general is definitely dangerous and probably stupid. I mean, Marty McFly’s hand disappeared when his mom was slow dancing/struggling with Biff, and his dad was too wussy to step in. But that’s what you risk when you meddle in your parents’ high school lives. My parents didn’t go to high school together, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that, but if we’ve learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that you don’t screw around with the space-time continuum. Doing so is both stupid and dangerous, and you could lose a hand in the middle of your guitar solo.
However, there are a few things I’d like to see happening:
my parents’ wedding – There is no video footage available that I know of. I assume it’s because video cameras were only for TV/film studios in the early 70s.
me as a baby – There are not a lot of pictures of me as a baby that I know of, and I don’t really remember anything before I started school, and even then, it’s all pretty hazy until about 5th grade. I’m sure my mom could tell us what I was like, but it would be way cuter to see tiny me in action. Unless I was a jerk. Was I a jerk?
my ancestors coming to the U.S. – My sister is making a massive family tree for our reunion this year, and I’m sure she’d love an eye-witness account of this. Plus, y’all know how much I love to travel, but to be ON THE BOAT with them, knowing what the country is going to become generations down the line, and seeing what it was like back then…man, that would be awesome.
Beethoven playing his own stuff
All of those things, I just want to witness. I don’t necessarily have to be a participant in history for those. But here are some things I would want to do:
meet Jane Austen
hang out with the Beatles before they were famous, and teach them all the Monkees’ songs before the Monkees even form a band (just to be a mischievous punk, not because I have anything against the Monkees)
convince Amy Grant that “Baby, Baby” is a bad idea
convince John Mayer not to record half of his songs
stop Shutter Island from being filmed, and convince Leo to do a movie that requires more shirtlessness
convince myself to go vegetarian in college
introduce myself to Mediterranean food much sooner (hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, etc.)
smuggle slaves to free states
smuggle Jews to safety during WWII
invent leg warmers before anyone else
Like I said, I think time travel in general would be pretty stupid and dangerous, so I don’t know which of these things is the worst. I’ll let y’all be the judge as to exactly which thing is the stupidest/most dangerous and/or which is the likeliest to cause me to lose appendages. What would YOU do with a time machine?