I’m having shirts made. And for $17.16 you could be wearing this awesomesauce:
But they’ll be black with white letters, like light in the darkness. Text on the back and nothing on the front. Email quirkypickings at icloud dot com if interested.
I’m having shirts made. And for $17.16 you could be wearing this awesomesauce:
But they’ll be black with white letters, like light in the darkness. Text on the back and nothing on the front. Email quirkypickings at icloud dot com if interested.
In the beginning there was the Word… and for months I have felt called to read the Word at the beginning of my day… like it says in the Lord’s Prayer: Give us this day our daily bread… one of my favorite friends has suggested to me, more than once, that you’ve to ask for His nourishment daily, and that He will give you exactly what you need to endure that day–not one bit more or less.
I thought, I’ve read inspirational books in the mornings–that’s kind of the same thing, and it doesn’t work for me. Like I’m some kind of exception.
Last night I set my alarm for seven a.m. I took only those pills I’m prescribed to take–no Benadryl, no Tylenol PM, no Nyquil… nothing but what I should take. I slept well enough. I had dreams about fear looking back at love rather than forward… of vegetables… of social gatherings.
When the alarm went off, I debated resetting it… I debated snoozing past the time I’d allotted myself (forty-five minutes). But at a quarter before eight, I realized I could read my Bible in the comfort of my bed… and so I did. And when I opened it to some random page, which admittedly has never worked for me before, the words I made you, and I will care jumped out at me. I’d looked at this page before. I’d colored I will care in blue.
And so these are the Words that spoke to me:
What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop you’re doing it wrong!” Does the pot exclaim ‘How clumsy can you be?’
How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?'”Isaiah 45:9-10
Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?”Isaiah 45:11
Again I am reminded of how much an insult my words have been to Him. How much more esteemed I’ve held my opinion of myself rather than His of me. The difference this morning was that I didn’t feel guilty or ashamed of this, as I’d done yesterday and the day before and the day before… This morning I felt like a child corrected… and LOVED.
I read that page and the next and the next… and then I was struck by this:
Rather I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”Isaiah 48:10
People keep telling me my lenses are askew…
Sunday, I snapped one of the lenses out of my glasses, yall. Doing one of those Bible studies. All the ways He tries to get my attention. All the ways He strives to correct me. All the ways He loves me… would that I could know the sensations of comfort and love I had this morning ALL the time.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought, “I don’t want to be alive anymore.” There were days it was a mantra, especially in my older adolescence and young adulthood. Like I spoke it with every breath.
Just moments ago, I muttered it aloud and was struck by how much of an insult it is to God, my father of fathers. He brought me out of the dark, into His wondrous light, and I’ve spent my life begging him to let me die so I can go to Heaven. BEGGING Him. LOATHING the gifts He’s given me because it hurts to be here, because living hurts. I sound like such a child. I feel like such a child.
A week ago Friday I spent two hours in an orthopedist’s office… and only spent maybe five minutes of that time actually visiting with the orthopedist, who told me he didn’t think I’d had the sort of surgeries I’d had. The moment he said that, I tuned out the bastard, gathered my things and stormed out in as much a huff as my crippled legs could muster.
It hurts to live.
Where the hell did I get the idea that it shouldn’t? WHERE. THE. FUCK. DID. I. GET. THAT. SUPREMELY. RIDICULOUS. IDEA?? Because I look at the people in my circles and think it’s EASY for them? GOOD GOD, I’m an idiot. A petulant child throwing a temper tantrum. I had it in my head that at some point, things would be easier.
There’s a Hillsong Worship song, King of Kings, with the line: He did not despise the cross. I have LOATHED mine. I have loathed God for making me carry it. I have loathed life. LOATHED it.
The following is from texts sent yesterday to one of my oldest friends:
I feel broken in many respects at many times… That brokenness is evident in my physical presence–literally and figuratively… not just because of the maladies that have plagued me and persisted despite efforts to correct them but because of how I’ve handled adversity. I feel, often, that adversity has worn away all that is good in me, leaving the uglier aspects of my character raw and exposed. So when people talk about physical appearance being what’s shown of your heart, what of your character is reflected on the surface, when I say that I am not pretty… I’m not just talking about the surface, though that’s certainly one aspect.
There is such rage and impotence within me. I struggle, daily, to mask it. I think perhaps I inherited it from my mother’s father–he so hated that he could not be what he wanted to be. And, more, in me, there is such frustration that I have never felt a strong calling in my life, not one in which I had/have confidence.
I pray, daily, that the Lord would alleviate these feelings in me.
Perhaps this is why I am alone.
Ambition, purpose and a love for life are SUCH attractive qualities. I lack them all. I have no energy to cultivate these things because every attempt has always brought me up so miserably short.
All this is evident in me. I walk cloaked in despair with no confidence that I could walk any other way… because the cloak isn’t a cloak but a strait jacket. I am imprisoned in this body–doctors assumed at my birth I would be better off in an institution for people like me, and the older I get the more convinced I am that they were right.
All that said, I am FAR TOO focused on myself… like my grandfather was far too focused on himself.
Going to school felt like a death march. Coming home felt like a furlough. Every insult, every attack, whether orchestrated by a teacher or student, was mortar, the shrapnel chipping away at my sense of self so that by the time I was in junior high, I was a broken shell of a girl. First I let them destroy my self-image, then I let them destroy my self-worth.
I haven’t survived. I can’t even call this an existence. I wake up, and I waste time until the day is done. I take things to help me sleep… wash, rinse, repeat.
And before you say I should see a therapist, I’ve seen plenty of them. I know all the things. I know all the ways to combat this mentality. Depression is a lack of will. Anxiety is a fear of it. I am plagued by both.
My grandfather was groomed by his parents from a young age to become a surgeon. At some point I’m certain he was convinced he wanted this for himself. But his hands shook. He took medicine to still the tremors but became addicted to it. He drank. Once he had children, he hated not being the focus of the family. He could not change his circumstances so he drowned his sorrows in liquor and lashed out as his wife and children. He was verbally and emotionally abusive.
I have the propensity for this. Perhaps my singleness and childlessness is God’s way of ending the cycle… perhaps my parents’ efforts to steer me away from education was His way as well.
I have a heart for family and learning but the not the mind for it. And my body… often I feel as thought my blood is boiling and my muscles are cords of stone. Pair the physical sensations with the mental ones… it’s an ugly combination. It makes me feel ugly, literally and figuratively. And then I look in the mirror… and I see the ugliness.
I want to feel soft. And the only time I can feel that way is when I’m in bed. Or, better, when I’m being held.
When I say fear of will, I mean fear of choice, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of responsibility, fear of lackadaisicalness… it’s essentially fear of everything, but all things invoice choice of some kind. I fear the choices I will make will be wrong… so fear of will.
I’ve screwed up. I’ve blown the funds in my bank account. Pray, FERVENTLY, that I can be more respectful of and responsible with money. Pray I can grow up and stop spending it like a stupid child.
All but the last of the italicized paragraphs were sent yesterday… I’ve omitted her responses from the conversation. The last paragraph was sent about three hours ago. I had that glorious epiphany about insulting God about an hour ago.
No wonder I’ve hated life so… I can’t be trusted with His blessings. Can’t be trusted to appreciate them. Can’t be bothered to care for them. I see them as toys to be tossed aside when I’ve lost interest in them. Why SHOULD He bless me with ANYTHING? WHY should I get to see the glory of Heaven?
I feel like I haven’t properly written anything in AGES. And this here little space in the blogosphere began as a source of therapy for me to just sit and type… rant… share my meager opinions on things… and if someone liked what I wrote, GREAT, and if not, that’s fine by me.
But I’ve not just sat down and properly written anything in what seems like years. I know it’s not been that long, but it feels like it has.
I have been under such a significant amount of stress this year, as we all have. I have not wanted to write in forever. I’m not even tinkering with my characters anymore, and that used to bring me such joy (most of the time).
I have twenty-five cents in one account and twenty-three dollars and thirty-five cents in the other. I opened some veins of credit because I thought I was finally mature enough to handle that… I’m not. My Apple, Amazon and PayPal accounts are maxed. I haven’t been sleeping well so I went to Macy’s and got one of their Hotel Collection super-firm mattresses (the kind you can flip over as well as rotate because I am OVER the single-sided mattresses) and one of those adjustable bases. So now, in addition to my student loans (which I may be able to repay before I die… maybe), I’ve amassed another six grand or so in debt. Huzzah! I have become addicted to Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery and Design Home and stupidly keep throwing the little money I have away on those damned apps instead of paying off my debt because I. AM. AN. IDIOT.
My mother had open heart surgery on September fourth. She’d been in A-fib since December first of ‘seventeen, I think. She’s had that shock procedure done three times, now, and the second time was the only time it worked (though temporarily). She also had mitrovalve prolapse, and doctors had thought replacing that valve might be the thing to correct the A-fib. It wasn’t. And now her seventy-nine-year-old chest hurts literally as well as figuratively. She thinks she’s failed as a wife, mother, daughter and friend. And the only grandchildren she has, my brother’s twins, live in Natchez, Mississippi. She thinks they don’t want to see her. She thinks my brother doesn’t want to see her. She thinks a lot of miserable things.
I’d always thought she and I were vastly different women, but I’m starting to see just how much we have in common. I miss my mother… the one who could pull herself up by her bootstraps and carry on with her day, making the best of the bullshit. All she wants to do now is mope.
My father had heart surgery on September fourteenth. He’s back to his chipper-cherry self. My mother couldn’t take him to the hospital. She was sorely disappointed that she could not; her brother had come down from Colorado to stay with us for a while, and he and I insisted that she should stay home. So I took my father. I, the one who is phobic of hospitals, did. I managed well enough. Amazingly so.
This year… these maladies… the unnecessary and hypocritical violence of which I see and hear in the news… all the bullshit is wearing on me, and as strong as I am…
My left leg has decided that THIS is the time to rebel. For nearly fifteen years, the spastic cramping caused by cerebral palsy had limited itself to my hands, shoulders, and upper and middle back. About five years ago it increased its area to include my calves.
Two weeks ago, while I lay in bed in the middle of the night, awakened probably because the Tylenol PM or whatever I’d taken that day had worn off, I got a cramp in the left side of my knee. I’d been coping with pain in my knee for about a week, and that pain had begun to radiate into my hip and ankle.
I’d broken a trophy at work the day this fine instance occurred. I suspect that the stress caused by the circumstances of the past few weeks had manifested itself in physical pain and localized, at first, in my leg and then spread out. And then I broke the trophy–not one we’d ordered but one a soldier had brought to the shop for the purpose of fitting it with a new name plate. It’s one of those trophies that had been passed down from soldier to soldier for God knows how long, and I banged the edge of the eagle’s wings on the counter, and a sliver broke off. A sliver. If I’d been able to see better, if my hands worked better, if I weren’t in such pain that day from my damned leg… I couldn’t think past it, yall. I. could. not. think. past. it. I was ready to go home. It was past time for me to do so. I was in a hurry. I was negligent. I broke someone’s things in my carelessness. Something of great value. I broke a trophy. And that night, I guess the shame I’d felt in doing so, the regret, the helplessness I felt morphed into this giant angerball in my knee.
I had such a bad cramp that it twisted my leg in unnatural ways.
Friday, I’ve an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. I am not looking forward to it.
I feel beaten, yall. In all the years of ugliness I’ve known, I’ve never wanted to be held by a good man more than I do right now, and there’s no one. I can’t even get a jackass to hold me for a bit.
These conversations occurred some months ago–the former on May nineteenth and the latter on June first.
I’ve been off and on Bumble. I’d signed up for Silver Singles (because I’m OLD, yall), then canceled my membership the next day (and luckily managed to get my fees refunded).
How many men have given up on me? On how many men I have given up?
I’m tired. I feel like roughened, crinkled sandpaper. I’d been thinking, wishing for quite some time, that I can’t cry anymore. I’ve done more crying in the past month than I’ve probably done in the past two years.
Every time I read I gave up on you, I get a little pissier. And pissyness does me NO good WHATSOEVER.
I don’t want to do this by myself. I don’t want to grieve the loss of my parents, which seems so much more inevitable to happen sooner rather than later. And this body of mine… this broken body has begun careening downhill toward contorted, twisted mass. I won’t be able to take it on my own. I won’t.
If you were to choose ten chicks (or dudes) (from literature/television/film/whatever) who had comparable qualities to yours, which ones would you pick?
One. Kit Kat played by Lydia Wilson in About Time. Careless, unaware of her own worth, easily distracted by impulse.
Two. Anna Malloy played by Isla Fisher in Tag. Crass, pushy, dedicated. She’s probably my favorite of the bunch. Here’s a good (not kid-friendly) snapshot: https://youtu.be/9zayyt63auA.
Three. Samantha played by Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles. Shoots for the fences, annoyed by idiots, shy.
Four. Shelby Eatenton Latcherie played by Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. Has a hard time standing up for what she wants, people-pleaser, decent sense of style.
Five. Meredith Morton played by Sarah Jessica Parker in The Family Stone. REALLY good at sticking her foot in her mouth, tries too hard, excellent gift-giver.
Six. Molly Mahoney played by Natalie Portman in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Fascinated by magic but doubts her abilities to be magical, tenacious, has creative desires but not a lot of vision until push comes to shove.
Seven. Allison Reynolds played by Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. AWKWARD. Doesn’t much like people. Doesn’t think she has any friends.
Eight. Emma played by Ann Hathaway in One Day. Settles. Rarely speaks up for herself. Kind of a geek.
Nine. Sadness played by Melissa McCarthy in Inside Out. Caring touch, kind heart, incessant crying jags.
Ten. Meredith played by Gillian Anderson in Playing by Heart. Control freak, doesn’t deal well with passion, doesn’t deal well with men.
One. August First. National Girlfriend Day. I’m sure this one was designated for the romantic sort, but I’m opening up for gals to celebrate their girl friends, too. Take some time today to celebrate the ladies in your life! Spend some time with one! Snap a cute photo and share it!
Two. August Second. National Coloring Book Day. Put some color in the world! Grab a box of crayons and get to coloring, then put that color in the mail to brighten someone’s day.
Three. August Third. National Watermelon Day. Beat the heat with some sweets!
Four. August Fourth. National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Bake a batch from scratch.
Five. August Fifth. The film From Here to Eternity, based on James Jones’ book, is released in ‘fifty-three. I’ve not seen the movie nor read the book and will endeavor to do either, if not both. If you watch the film, Harry Bellaver plays Mazzioli — what’s the fifth line he speaks? If you read the book, what’s the fifth word on the eighth line of the fifty-third page?
Six. August Sixth. National Root Beer Float Day. NOT a fan of root beer? Neither am I. Can’t remember the last time I had one of these, but I’ll give it a go. Dare you to do so, too.
Bodie Lighthouse — Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Seven. August Seventh. National Lighthouse Day. Have you, in your travels, snapped a shot of a lighthouse? Show me! If not, and you’re feeling crafty, draw or paint one or find a coloring page and get to decorating. Or… set about finding the real thing, if you can. OR… if there’s a book you love that features a lighthouse in the story… tell me about that.
Eight. August Eighth. National Bowling Day. Yeah… there’s that whole pandemic thing… so maybe bowling is out, but if you can do it, do it. If not, share a photo from an earlier time.
Nine. August Ninth. National Book Lovers Day. What are the ten best books you’ve ever read? Make a photo collage, share some favorite snippets… GUSH about the things because God knows we need some GOOD stories right about now.
Ten. August Tenth. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed his chamber piece Eine Kleine Nachtmusic (A Little Serenade) in the year seventeen eighty-seven. Take some time to really listen to it. Put on some headphones, close your eyes, and listen.
Eleven. August Fifteenth. National Relaxation Day. This one’s TOO easy for me… but I’m a spoke on a wheel, so to speak. I don’t have a significant other or children to support. I EXCEL at doing nothing. When’s the last time YOU allowed yourself to do NOTHING? MAKE the time, folks. Recharge those batteries. FIND some solitude and unwind.
Twelve. August Eighteenth. National Fajita Day. Lupe’s Tortillas! BEST fajitas EVER… at least, I think so. Who makes the best in your neck of the woods? Or are YOU the best in the business? Make some… or make your way to that restaurant.
Thirteen. August Twenty-Third. Jeff Buckley releases the album Grace, featuring a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, in ‘ninety-four. Listen to the album in its entirety with headphones on and eyes closed. Also… Buckley’s cover of that song is my favorite version. What’s yours?
Fourteen. August Twenty-Seventh. The film Roman Holiday is released, also in ‘fifty-three. Another film I’ve not seen. What’s the twenty-seventh word Eddie Albert says?
Fifteen. August Thirtieth. National Beach Day. If you can get to a beach, get to it. If not, share some beachy-keen photos from days past.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these. Reminder, should you choose to play along, the things do NOT have to be done on their associated dates… any time in the month of August is fine by me.
Begins one minute past twelve a.m. September first / concludes midnight November thirtieth. You may NOT use a film you have already seen, even in part (excluding trailers), for this challenge. All films MUST be new to you. Each film chosen for the challenge may be used ONLY ONCE. Apple TV and Netflix productions ARE acceptable.
The first five people to complete the challenge prior to November thirtieth will each receive an Amazon gift card valued at twenty dollars. The one person to accumulate the most points at the challenge’s conclusion will receive an Amazon gift card valued at fifty dollars. Each film is valued at ten points, yielding a total points of two hundred fifty. Details of a bonus round will be revealed October fifteenth.
To be eligible for prizes, you must be a member of The Fall Film Challenge Facebook group OR have open communication with me with regard to your progress. If you choose to join the group, once you’ve chosen your films to fit the below categories, post your list to the group’s page or email it to quirkypickings at icloud dot com so that I may add your selections to a master list.
The Categories: Choose twenty-five films featuring actors who have appeared on Saturday Night Live as regular cast members or those who have hosted the show three or more times. I give you free rein with regard to whom you choose — you do NOT have to use the actors pictured above. Selected films do NOT have to be comedies, but… given the state of things, I thought we could use some humor.
Think of all the things you would’ve missed….
One. The Star Wars saga — sans episode the ninth. Playing hooky with your direct supervisor and coworkers to watch episode the first. Also this:
Conversation with my five-year-old nephew:
Me: But those stories are written by the best storyteller ever born (Shakespeare)!
Him: Not Star Wars.— June 25, 2014 / Panera Bread at The Woodlands Mall with family
Two. The Miracle on Ice! THAT FANTASTIC MOVIE Disney made later, memorializing the glorious feat of those Olympians. Watching that with your mother. All the times you’ve enjoyed it since. That soundtrack you were playing the day you hydroplaned on the interstate going seventy-five miles an hour and the miracle that everyone managed to get out of your crazy way and when Phineas Boba Fett (your beloved Acura RSX) stopped spinning and bouncing off guard rails, God put your car back in the lane you’d occupied before the world tilted and had Phinny facing the right way. You were listening to the Miracle soundtrack when that happened.
Three. Pac-Man. Taking turns, playing with your brothers first thing in the morning before school. Also Super Mario Brothers… the countless hours you spent playing this with your younger brother.
Four. MTV. The summer of eighty-three when you made friends, and yall would call each other to announce Duran Duran’s Reflex video was being shown. Years later… all the games you played while watching videos with your hallmates in the basement smoking recreation room of PEO Hall at Cotteyland.
Five. Metallica. That one time your hallmates got you headbanging to Enter Sandman at the Rocking K in Pittsburgh, Kansas.
Six. Calvin and Hobbes. Also Brian Kessinger’s mash-up artistry of the comic with Star Wars characters.
Seven. Neil Patrick Harris as Barney in How I Met Your Mother. And since we’re talking stupid comedy… the entire cast of The Big Bang Theory.
Eight. Peyton Manning. Also baby brother Eli. Two Superbowl-winning Giants. Pun (and sarcasm) intended.
Nine. Angelina Jolie in Playing by Heart. You LOVE her in that movie. You love EVERYONE in that movie. That movie is perfection.
Ten. Riggs and Murtaugh. Mostly Riggs, actually. But he wouldn’t be the same without his partner. Mel Gibson on the big screen. Clayne Crawford on the small one. How many times have you let those characters, those men entertain you?
Eleven. Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, a film released the year of your older brother’s death, the year after you lost Adam. How many days did you escape into that story? How many times have you reveled in the glory of its craftiness that. That movie’s perfection, too.
Twelve. If you’d taken your life before December twenty-fourth of ‘two, you never would have known you could forgive your older brother.
Thirteen. If you’d taken your life before March twenty-sixth of ‘two, you never would have known that thing they call chemistry between two lovers was real and not some myth, some plot device conjured by some storyteller centuries before. You never would’ve heard a man call you, in your American Eagle rugby T-shirt and Gap boot cut jeans and your battered brown Doc Marten boots, gorgeous. You wouldn’t’ve known that you could feel contentment.
Fourteen. This is Us and Life Itself. Probably the best stories ever put on screen, big or small.
Fifteen. Jessica Chastain in Lawless. WOW. Ain’t that just like you, to believe your own damned legend. She was SO SO good in that movie. And as Celia in The Help.
Sixteen. The Lord of the Rings. All those movie marathons. The director’s cut, boxed set your younger brother gave you for Christmas one year. The peace it gave you when you felt so, so lost.
Seventeen. Elvis Presley. That voice. The hope If I Can Dream gives you. The joy of the JXL Radio Edit Remix of A Little Less Conversation. Windows down in Phineas on Gosling Road on a clear spring day… or blasting down the interstate.
Eighteen. Zoe Saldana. Simon Pegg. Karl Urban. Chris Pine. J.J. Abram’s reboot of Star Trek. Watching that in the theaters with Keli. Beating your in-theater record of most-times-viewed. All that AWESOME dialogue.
Nineteen. Aaron Rodgers launching a football a hundred yards in the air AND A hundred yards downfield into the end zone and Richard Rodgers catches it with NO time left in the game to beat NFC rival Detroit Lions.
Twenty. Sara Bareilles’ Breathe Again. What kind of heart doesn’t look back?
Twenty-One. Chris Pratt. Bradley Cooper. Vin Diesel. Dave Bautista. Karen Gillan. And, yes, Zoe Saldana. Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, you CAN enjoy something that is sheer ridiculousness.
Twenty-Two. Anthony Ervin. Dude wins the splash and dash in the Olympics at nineteen and goes back to win it again sixteen years later. You watched that… granted you saw it in the living room of your parents’ house. You watched it, and stood, gleefully, on that terrazzo floor, amazed that this man who by most accounts was past his prime could swim that length without taking one breath in the water. Splash and dash, indeed. His time at the Sydney Olympics was twenty one point nine eight. He beat that in Rio by fifty-eight hundredths. His thirty-five-year-old self beat his nineteen-year-old self. Read that as many times as you need.
Twenty-Three. Michael Phelps, Klete Keller, Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay BEAT Ian Thorpe and his goons to reclaim the four by two hundred free relay title at the Athens Olympics. You watched this in your San Antonio apartment, jumping up and down on that teak Storehouse Furniture cocktail table you’ve got in storage. You can’t bear to part with the thing because it’s got such a happy memory for you.
Twenty-Four. Jonny Lang. Your older brother went with you to see him perform with Beth Hart in Houston. That was a good day.
Twenty-Five. Von Miller. Aggie football. All those games.
Twenty-Six. One Fine Day. Watching that with your parents and brother over the holidays. Every time you watch that movie, it brings you pleasure. Every time you watch it, you think this life isn’t quite so shitty as it seems.
Twenty-Seven. Christmases at the cabin. That last one… when you weren’t hating your brother… that last one that was a sort of miracle. A respite just before the shit hit the fan.
Twenty-Eight. Summers at the monastery. That last one… when you were sitting with your great uncle on the lawn toward the road, where the big old tree used to be. The words he spoke… if only you could remember them. But they were good and true, and he believed so well of you.
Twenty-Nine. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Cold Shot. Pride and Joy. Look at Little Sister.
Thirty. Primroses on street corners. How many times have you spotted those on desolate days? Lucille put those on your antique icebox for a reason.
Thirty-One. Blueberry muffins. Oh the comfort they provide. The scent of them in the oven, the flavor of them melting in your mouth.
Thirty-Two. Coca-Cola. Dr. Pepper. Peace Tea Green Tea. Such GOOD refreshment.
Thirty-Three. Chicken spaghetti. Best comfort food ever. Such a pain in the ass to make, but oh, the result is extraordinary.
Thirty-Four. Macaroni and cheese. The kind mom makes. She means so well. She wants the best for you. Funny how she makes this — or her chicken noodle soup, for that matter — when you’re feeling especially down and out. She sees you. She might not always know how to love you well, but she does love. She does her best.
Thirty-Five. Blue Bell Ice Cream. Coffee and Dutch Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough…
Thirty-Six. LONDON!!! All that history!!!
Thirty-Seven. Munich! All that beauty! The giant chestnut trees EVERYWHERE.
Thirty-Eight. Barcelona!! All that fun!! And the glory of Gaudi’s cathedral!
Thirty-Nine. All the effort Carmen’s making for you to help you get stronger. She LOVES you. Has thought well of you from the moment you met her at your brother’s house. She’s a GOOD friend to have.
Forty. Serena. There’s a reason Lisa asked you to help her with her class. There’s a reason Landon was there. There’s a reason God crossed your paths. She benefits from your friendship… SO many do.
Forty-One. Ranunculus. That day you were at that River Oaks flower shop, and that dude asked you what he thought of the tacky and over-priced arrangement he was going to get his girl. You suggested the radiant with charms ranunculus that cost a FRACTION of that bouquet, and he bought it. He chose to go the simpler route. Sometimes your ideas are GOLD. Sometimes you CAN convince people of their worth.
Forty-Two. Literature: The Language of Flowers; Landline; Eleanor and Park; The Fault in Our Stars; The Time Traveler’s Wife; Lovers and Dreamers. Think of all the characters you’ve yet to meet.
Forty-Three. Steel Magnolias. Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.
Forty-Four. The generosity others have shown you recently.
Forty-Five. The hug your youngest cousin gave you after being too much in a crowd, too stimulated by all the things, too unable to please your younger brother. Your cousin didn’t say anything. He just smiled at you and wrapped his arms around you and held on tight in a great bear hug that lasted I-don’t-know-how-long. It was long enough to make an impression. It was long enough to bring you some semblance of peace… even if that peace was short-lived.
Forty-Six. You went zip-lining. You who is afraid of heights and falling and hurting yourself. You went zip-lining. And when you suffered a panic attack at the thought of crossing the suspension bridge, another cousin — the middle brother of the aforementioned cousin — helped you across each of those planks to the other tower, and though you’d struggled with zip-lining to the first one, you did the second one perfectly.
Forty-Seven. Splendor with friends and the kids at school.
Forty-Eight. Settlers of Catan with the bartenders at Pappadeaux’s.
Forty-Nine. Watching Green Bay lose to the Panthers in Charlotte. That was not a good day… but girl, you lucked into going to that game.
Fifty. Your niece. Your nephew.
A long, long time ago I made a list of fifty reasons to stick around. And I wrote a list of fifty reasons not to do so. And BOTH helped me, yall. Both have been good tools for combating the crazy. But they’re old. And I wrote them in haste, without putting much thought into either of them. I did the different reasons list AFTER I’d written the live list, and almost every item on the different reasons list was the antithesis of its counterpart on the live list. Those lists… they need a little tweaking. So I am rehashing them for the current moods and madness with which I struggle. This is a hard one for me to write. I took more time with this one. I have to be in the right mindset, which at first wasn’t easy to do and I wasn’t sure I could find that place again, but that was the other day. I found it.
In reading this the mindset I have at the beginning, one of agreement, morphs into one of denial by the end. The Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson, has said OFTEN depression lies. Here are the lies I tell myself:
One. You are broken. You were born that way. Everything about your body, your face, your brain is fucked.
Two. Your brothers got most of the goods: the looks, the personality, the mad skills. You got the scraps: the leftovers, the rejected bits, all the less admirable traits from your ancestors. The mad and the madness. You’re a spawn, a spore. There’s one in every generation.
Three. Six surgeries. Thirty some-odd-scars. And you’re still an ugly hag.
Four. And now you’re a FAT, bitter, ugly hag. FAT. Remember what that one boy said to you? How at the reunion, people’s reaction upon seeing you would be, Who’s that rolling in? Yeah. You don’t get to prove him wrong about that.
Five. No one will ever want to marry you because you’re too ugly and no one wants to wake up next to something that ugly every morning. You don’t get to prove him wrong about that, either.
Six. You should go kill yourself; you’re taking up valuable air and space, and there are more important people who need it. You should’ve done it. Those people could manage to make friends and live good lives. You don’t get to prove them, any of them, wrong about that, either. You keep trying, though. You keep thinking you have gifts. Oh dear heavens, girl. SCRAPS. You’re made of scraps!!! Gifts ain’t found in the junkyard.
Seven. You signed up for that socials site to meet new people, to PAY people to spend time with you. TO PAY PEOPLE TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU. Your friends don’t want to spend time with you. They don’t want it SO much that one of them suggested that socials site so you could stop badgering her to spend time with you. They WANT you to leave them alone. You’re one of those unimportant people, remember? They’re too nice, too GOOD to tell you to fuck off. And you should. YOU SHOULD.
Eight. Your own brother doesn’t even want to spend time with you. Seriously. You’ve seen him like four times since Christmas. And it’s NOT because of Covid, though he sure does like to use that excuse with you… it was like this BEFORE the virus… and THEN it was work. Ask yourself why he makes the excuses. He sure can find the time for quite a few others.
Nine. Mama says you’ve got that go to hell look patented, and you know she’s right because you can feel the fury on your face when you unleash that look. You boil over, Jennifer. ALL the time. You boil over because the pan’s filled with rage and hate. There’s no love in the pot to temper the heat.
Ten. Good men want nothing to do with you. The moment they figure out you’re off your rocker, they RUN for the hills. Can’t get away fast enough. The words… you’re a WRITER, and the words that come out of your mouth are RIDICULOUS. They say you’re intimidating? That’s polite code for YOU FUCKING SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF ME, BITCH. PSYCHO FEMALE.
Eleven. You don’t know how to love. That BSF Bible study group leader talked about what happens when the virtues are perverted. You’ve perverted ALL of them. A L L of them. There’s a place for people like you.
Twelve. How desperate can you possibly be? You love Aggieland so much, were so incapable of conveying that love to your parents so they could respect your choice of institution for higher learning and have regretted that inadequacy with every breath since, that you’d brainwash your brother’s children in their infancy to love that university so they’d decided by their tenth year that THAT’S where they want to go so YOU can live vicariously through them. WHAT BULLSHIT IS THIS?? WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO BE LIKE YOUR MOTHER??? You HATE that she took choice from you! You’d want to take it from them? Those babies you say you love as though they were your own? IDIOT!! Why would you perpetuate that hell?
Thirteen. Must every other word that rolls off your tongue be foul? Really? Because girl… your mouth is essentially an ashtray. Your words reek like the trashiest of alleys.
Fourteen. When your parents pass, you will lose all contact with people. You will hole up in an apartment and play on Facebook… the modern day arena where Ms. Brill would watch her shows… Handy that she wouldn’t have to leave her house. You are JUST like that pathetic woman. JUST LIKE HER.
Fifteen. You spent thirty minutes writing about the lack of love, and half the words you put on the page were film quotes. You’d spend the rest of your pathetic life in bed watching movies because you’re too afraid to live.
Sixteen. You’ll NEVER write a story so good people would want to show it on a screen. And all you wanted when you were a kid was to win a damned Oscar. You’d make up speeches. WHAT A FOOL.
Seventeen. Everything you write is crap. No one’s every going to want to read it.
Eighteen. The staff at Pappadeux’s? They’re only nice to you because they have to be.
Nineteen. You quit smoking?? That was STUPID. You want a short life, right? Doesn’t quitting mean it’d last longer??
Twenty. Your teachers… how many of them hated teaching you? I bet it was a lot.
Twenty-One. Like school did you any good anyway. All that money your grandmother and great aunt left you so you could have a fine education, and you squandered it.
Twenty-Two. Every night, just so you can sleep, you gotta pop some pills. There’s so much ugliness inside you, the only way you can silence it is to drug it.
Twenty-Three. You like giving things to people, don’t you? Makes you feel better about yourself? They’re just things. And you’re trying to buy affection, just like when you were a kid. Remember the year you gave everyone in your class Valentines and got NONE in return. Yeah. YEAH. You sat at your desk staring at your pitiful, poorly decorated, EMPTY brown paper sack, waiting for someone to drop in a card, and NO ONE DID.
Twenty-Four. You BELIEVED Adam when he said you were gorgeous. YOU BELIEVED HIM. Of COURSE he’s going to say that. Boys will say ANYTHING to sucker a gal.
Twenty-Five. You’re too much like a boy, anyway. How could you POSSIBLY be GORGEOUS. GORY. GROSS. N O T gorgeous.
Twenty-Six. Haven’t got the faintest idea of how to be a girl, do you?
Twenty-Seven. Boys don’t want to get their hands on you anymore. Not the gentlemen. They never did. EVER. NOT ONCE. You were just there. Weak, convenient, lonely and easy… or so they thought.
Twenty-Eight. But you can’t even do that right, can you? So eager to play… but then you balk and walk almost EVERY TIME.
Twenty-Nine. When you finally said fuck it? You let a narcissistic, manipulative, emotionally and verbally abusive JACKASS have that card. You gave it to him in a fucking VALUE PLACE INN on the southwest side of San Antonio, in the damned desert, practically. Good GOD, girl. Talk about TRAGIC. SHIT. What a loser you are.
Thirty. God knows your parents would be better off if you weren’t here. They could’ve actually ENJOYED retirement instead of having to support their stupid, lazy daughter. They could’ve set aside money for their grandchildren’s education, but you’d rather rob them of that.
Thirty-One. Your brother couldn’t because he was weak. You’re JUST like him, in ALL the WRONG ways. All those bad scraps…
Thirty-Two. You signed a piece of paper twenty years ago. That doctor who made you sign it? He’s probably forgotten all about you. So many will…
Thirty-Three. And the debt. The goddamned DEBT you’ve amassed. STUPID GIRL.
Thirty-Four. You think you can sing? Bullshit. Your voice ain’t that awesome — ’bout as good as Marge Simpon’s. Look at all those times you tried to get up on stage. Your friends were in bands and never once asked you to sing with them.
Thirty-Five. It won’t be alright in the end. It’ll just be more of the same bullshit.
Thirty-Six. Those doctors in your infancy… they told your parents you would be better off in an institution for people like you. Those doctors were right.
Thirty-Seven. Your boss gave you a job because he needed a body–someone to occupy a desk and free the boys up from the incessant phone calls so they could actually WORK. He doesn’t actually like you. The hand!!! That face he made with it! I’m not talking to you. Shut the FUCK up. Answer the phones. Take the payments. Be QUIET.
Thirty-Eight. What good is a woman without a husband and children?
Thirty-Nine. Those prayer boards you’re fashioning… so you can have something positive and lovely and good to think on when you wake and when you sleep… You put little knickknacks and mementos on those so you can delude yourself into thinking people love you. IF they loved you, they’d not let you hide out in your room so often. If they were truly friends, they’d be FRIENDLY.
Forty. Jamie. Remember that time you felt bad that no one was at the other end of the pool cheering him on, so you went down there to be his cheerleader? You were the only one. Why would he WANT to swim toward that end if you were standing there screaming at him? Your interest in him was LAUGHABLE.
Forty-One. David. Three years you obsessed over that dude. THREE. YEARS. And I don’t know what he said about you to others, but it must’ve been ugly. And your fascination with him made everyone in that circle uncomfortable. Regina told you so. You should never have tried to be friends with them. You should never have thought enough of yourself that you could be appreciated by them, by him.
Forty-Two. Ben. He signed your junior high yearbook, “To the Love Doctor.” He humiliated you then, and yet, when yall were in college, when he roomed with your brother, you thought maybe he’d become a better person. He seemed to have done so. But you had to go and fuck that friendship up, and by doing so, fuck up his friendship with your brother. You drove two hours to go see about a guy, because, again, you thought enough of yourself… Cried the whole way home, and when you got closer to home, you realized you didn’t want to be alone, so you drove another hour out of the way to impose on your brother’s hospitality… You ruin EVERYTHING.
Forty-Three. Adam. Everything about that was a lie. EVERYTHING. Maybe if, just once, JUST ONCE, you’d been honest from the get-go, maybe things would’ve been different. But… you ruin everything, so… probably not.
Forty-Four. Tony. Everything about that was a lie, too. He was probably really good. He was probably worthy of your consideration. But… he bored you, and you can’t have that. Who the fuck do you think you are???
Forty-Five. Casey. You thought so well of him. A modern day Puck. He thought SO LITTLE of you. SO LITTLE.
Forty-Six. Gary. You thought so little of him. He thought so little of you. SO LITTLE. Yall deserved each other.
Forty-Seven. You should stop taking your meds and start smoking again and drink all the liquor and eat all the bad food… just get it over with already.
Forty-Eight. They said you couldn’t live, and you can’t.
Forty-Nine. They said you shouldn’t live, and you don’t. This isn’t a life, girl. This isn’t anything remotely resembling a life.
Fifty. They said you wouldn’t live, and you won’t. You’ll just keep writing the same damned chapters day after day after day… Who the fuck wants to read that? No one.
Why I wanted to read it: Because for Erin’s Book Challenge, one of the categories was about a detective. This series was the first to come to mind, and once upon a time I loved the way Nora Roberts wrote.
What I liked: She shifted on her sturdy legs. This was, she reminded herself, her superior. “I admire his talent.”
“Peabody, you’re admiring his chest. It’s a pretty good one, so I can’t hold it against you.”
“I wish he would,” she muttered (page 82).
Computers weren’t her forte. “Got a line on it?”
“Not yet.” With tiny tweezers, he lifted the sliver, studied it through his glasses. “But I will. I found the virus, dosed it, that’s first priority. This poor little bastard’s dead, though. When I autopsy it, we’ll see.
She had to smile. It was so like Feeney to think of his components and chips in human terms (page 137).
What sucked: Once upon a time I LOVED Nora Roberts’ writing style. So either it’s gone downhill since I was in my early twenties (which is when this particular title was published) or I’ve gotten to be a cantankerous bitch with regard to writing because of that English degree and all those writing critique groups and workshops and conferences I’ve attended. I was over this book by page 135. I pegged the culprit before the villain was identified. I marked two pages of text I liked. Just two. Glad to have gotten this one out of the way. FINISHED. DONE. Most likely will never read another Roberts novel again.
Having said that: Don’t read this crap. Just don’t.