Sunday, October 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo- National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. After some urging from a close friend I have decided to participate. This is my first time so it'll be fun to see what happens. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. That's about 1,167 words a day, I'll keep you updated on pages and word counts. This is the equivalent of a walk-a-thon for writing so let's see if I make it to the finish line! Good luck to all other writer's who are participating!  

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I AM My Father's Daughter

Last night I was standing in the line for Starbucks to get my caffeine fix before class and this guy in front of me was talking to his girlfriend and I swear he repeated the words Java Chip about twenty times. Because it's super cool to repeat the same words over and over, not really changing your tone, because there is SOMETHING awesome about the words Java Chip...I'm missing something apparently. I was kind of thinking he might have Tourettes or something but he carried on a conversation without any issues after he moved on from the amazing genius of Starbuck's Java Chip frappachinos. Really boy, you think you are impressing your girlfriend by repeating words like a ten year old? If she is impressed then I have no hope for society. It was at about the tenth time he said it, after stopping for a minute to have a normal conversation, that I started thinking, "Hmmm...we should suffocate stupid people." I'm not kidding, I thought it in a off-hand sort of way like this is a normal thought to have. I've never hid the fact that I despise stupidity but I've never had a thought like this so nonchalantly. It reminded me of something my father would say, out loud. I'm obviously my father's daughter, we share the same sense of humor, say facial expressions and apparently the same twisted thought process. The other day Bill even pointed at me and said, "That look was totally your father!" I hadn't even realized I'd done it. So I started to wonder, when do I reach the point where I say it out loud?

Today, I was sitting in the library trying to study, yes actually studying instead of searching the internet for once. Suddenly this idiot sits down and starts loudly telling his friend about how his classes are a waste of time and how he could already have a job by now. Two thoughts crossed my mind. 1.) If you think you are wasting your time then please leave and stop being so loud in the library. 2.) Really? Have you SEEN the job field right now? Good luck getting hired! Then I started to listen to his use of vocab...or lack of use of vocab. This kid thought he was straight up gangsta, yo! (Yeah, that's how he talked). No offense but this kid was obviously from a richer family and he apparently was a wannabe gangster who was doing his best to act cool. Well junior, all you did was sound like a tool! I wanted to hit him across the back of the head and tell him to use his inside voice, stop throwing his mini tantrum and put on his big boy pants. I know I shot him a few looks straight from my father's list of expressions. Once again, when do I start saying this stuff out loud? I know my filter will someday diminish and these things will pop from my mouth but I don't know when. I often find myself beginning to say something and stopping my self. How long until that control fades? If you know my father you know his filter is pretty much gone. I guess we'll see how long I have until that happens.

Oh well, I am my father's daughter and proud of it!

This reminds me of my dad!

Me and the man I have been channeling lately.
Gotta love him!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Already Gone (Mental Abuse Happens in All Kinds of Relationships)

It's an odd feeling when you look back on a relationship of any kind, even with your best friend, and realize how many red flags there were and how many things you just looked over. It's even weirder when multiple people look at you and say, "you know that's mental abuse, right?" I never thought of it before anyone said anything but I guess being constantly put down, berated for things that aren't your fault, made to feel lower than another person...yeah those are all signs. It's been almost two years since everything ended and I'm still amazed at how bad  I let it get and how only the people closest to me realized what was happening. I'm lucky enough to say it wasn't always that way and even luckier to say I no longer deal with it, at all.

I don't really think about the situation that often anymore, I tend to focus on how happy my life is now. However, anyone who knows me knows that music is a huge cathartic release for me. Because of this, there are a few songs that make me think about a time I'd rather forget. The songs no longer make me cry, thankfully, but one came on in the car yesterday and it brought me into a silent reverie. It was yesterday that I realized that I still think about the situation from time to time, I still sometimes wish it was different and that things had never took a turn for the worst but I also realized it doesn't bother me that much anymore. I don't cry about it, I haven't for a long time. I have come out of this mess much stronger than I ever thought I would. Some songs may still trigger a few thoughts but I actually try to remember the good times now because focusing on them made me bitter. That said, I still have those bitter thoughts once in a while, I won't lie and pretend to be perfect. Both of the songs that trigger this thinking are by Kelly Clarkson. I am pretty sure they are both meant to be about romantic relationships but the words make sense for other ones as well. 

If anyone asks, I'll tell them we both just moved on. When people all stare, I'll pretend that I don't hear them talk. Whenever I see you, I'll swallow my pride and bite my tongue, pretend I'm okay with it all, act like there's nothing wrong.

We just moved on. Yeah, I've used that line and I knew people talked about it. This isn't paranoia, I know they talked because people would ask about it by starting conversations with things like, "I was talking to so and so and we were wondering," or "we noticed." I know people were concerned but it always surprised me to realize that they talked about this. I guess it makes sense when you think of how inseparable we were. I'm sure people blamed me and I don't care. I had gotten used to the role that had been painted in our friendship: I was the sarcastic one who blocked out most people and she was the loving, kind one that couldn't hurt a fly. It's really funny to think now how wrong people were and how different things are behind closed doors. I now fully know the meaning of the phrase, "appearances can be deceiving." Yes, I'm sarcastic. Yes, it's difficult for me to let people in but I let this person in and most people have no idea what I did for her. Why? Because I never spoke of it. To this day, very few people know how much I did for her and how horrible things got. People had no idea how much of my life I devoted to helping this person, even at the expense of my own relationships with family and friends. As for the loving, kind person who couldn't hurt a fly? Wait until you turn your back, it all changes.

Remember all the things we wanted. Now all our memories, they're haunted. We were always meant to say goodbye. Even with our fists held high, it never would have worked out right, yeah, we were never meant for do or die. 

It feels bizarre to go from telling someone all your hopes, dreams and feelings to telling them nothing about you and hoping they would just leave you alone. I try to focus on the good times but sometimes that's difficult. It really felt like all my memories were haunted, or tainted, for a long time. Now I can finally think about the past and acknowledge there were good times before the downward slope. I trust that everything happens for a reason. Maybe we depended on each other too much...well, I know we did. I know that I was leaned on way too much near the end and expected to do whatever was asked of me. I also know that if I didn't do it I would be yelled at or guilted into it. Sometimes I was yelled at until I got so upset that I would get physically ill and I put up with it. No matter how hard we fought it, I think we would have always made it to this point. In my mind it would always end as it did, with the revelation that nothing I did mattered, with the words that broke me, "if I could forget you existed and be happy, I would in a heartbeat." Those words still pop into my head every once in a while, I think they've stopped hurting even though they put a sharp sword through my heart at the time. It's really destroying when somebody says this to you after you have helped them for years, especially when you've picked up the pieces of their lives over and over, especially when they choose when you are broken the most to say them. It was two weeks after my car accident and I could barely move, not the best timing to make me cry because even the simple act of crying hurt my body.

If anyone asks, I'll tell them we just grew apart. Yeah, what do I care if they believe me or not? Whenever I feel your memory is breaking my heart, I'll pretend I'm okay with it all, act like there's nothing wrong.

That's how I responded when people would ask about this person. "We just grew apart," became my favorite line but everyone knew it was a lie. I knew they didn't believe me and slowly I didn't care if they did or not. I still keep most of the details to myself, heck, I won't even put a name in this blog, but I've realized along the way that I don't care if people believe me. I know what happened, so does she. I thought about giving her another chance until I realized how many chances she got. Even after the initial fall-out I considered meeting to talk things over but I was lead through a roller coaster of, "I want to fix things," and "I don't think we should talk again." Who changes their mind that quickly? Well she did to try and make me suffer for not being walked all over as easy as I once had been. At a certain point I decided I would never let this person make me cry again.

You can't make it feel right when you know that it's wrong. I'm already gone, already gone. There's no moving on, so I'm already gone.

It during another one of her, "I don't think we should talk again," moments that I realized I didn't want to talk anymore. Why should I talk to a person who hurt me so badly? I was holding onto the person she once was, not who she became. Even talking to this person for a minute in a text message would get me so upset that the nerves in my neck would tighten and I would get a migraine. I never knew a person could make you physically hurt with just words until after the accident. When I think back and remember everything I did and how used I felt afterward, I feel ashamed that I ever let it happen. I had always said I would never let a man control me or abuse me, instead I let my best friend take over my life. I'm not sure if it has the same effect but I've heard it does.

I would never call myself an innocent victim. I'm not innocent, nobody is, and I'm not a victim. I'm a person who let another person use me. I regrettably let this person treat my family poorly and for that I have apologized many, many times. I stood up for them in the end but I'll never feel like it's enough. I'm not saying this person is evil, I'm saying she did horrible things to me and my family. Her control over me was suffocating and damaging but I knew this person better than anyone, I know she has a good heart somewhere deep inside of her. What this situation has made me remember is that everyone has a reason for being the way they are. She took her bad situation and reflected it on me, it's transference. The girl I once knew was already gone, had been for quite some time, I just had to accept it. She contacted me before I moved and asked if I wanted to talk, having changed her mind once again since she last said she never wanted to speak again a few months earlier. I didn't know what to say. It was random how she would pop into my life again when I had accepted she was almost felt like she planned for the moment I had realized I was okay to come in and mess things up. Of course, that thought is crazy. Anyway, after a few texts and a phone message, I decided what needed to be done. I couldn't let myself return to the way things were, I was stronger than that now. I told her that she had stopped being a part of my life when things were worst for me and that, if she couldn't be a friend then, she couldn't be a part of my life now that it was good again. It still hurts but it was the right thing to do. It feels weird to use the words "mentally abused" but they fit. I had been mentally abused for so long that when I finally broke free, and got over the heartbreak, it was impossible to go back after feeling the freedom. My life is better now. The songs come on the radio and sometimes I still think of her but now I try to focus on the good rather than the hell it became. I survived and I'll continue to thrive. I don't wish her bad but I can never go back. For those who have survived abuse, mental or physical, I admire your strength and courage. Those who have been through it know that abuse can come from anybody, even the person you least expect. I hope everyone who has gone through this managed to make it out and grow stronger as I have. 

(The lyrics used are from the songs "Cry" and "Already Gone.")

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Corgi Thinks He Rules the House...and He Usually Does!

I'm the proud mama of a six month old Corgi. He's a cute little guy and he gets complimented everywhere we go...yes, I'm also a boasting mama. He just recently had his 6 month check-up to which the new vet told us he is a healthy, very happy, sixteen pound Corgi. Yes, he is very happy. Why? Because he runs this household. OK, not really but it feels like it sometimes. Who knew that so much control could come from a little guy with tiny legs? From the moment he wakes up, he is the prince of the house. What better example is there than this: When I open my computer to check my e-mail or blog, I soon find a furry little head lying in my lap and if my lap is not available his head is on my keyboard. I wish I had a dollar for every time his little nose has pushed the button that makes the screen go blank. I have learned to keep my keyboard slightly to the right since he always lays his head on my left side. And if I don't rub his belly right away? I hear a little growl that clearly says, "Excuse me, I come first. Rub the belly, now!"

Don't get me wrong, there is discipline...which is usually followed by cute eyes and more spoiling but he is a good puppy. He is curious which often gets us into interesting situations, like the time he got his head stuck in my shoe, but he is very obedient. He is also VERY protective. I love this. Aside from the annoyance of having to calm him down when he wants to attack the door because of various sounds or knocking, it is very cute how protective he is of me. When my boyfriend Bill tickles me and I scream, he is ready to attack. When the two of us play wrestle, he will charge. He loves Bill but you don't mess with mommy. :) He is a very playful puppy and loves everybody but you don't mess with mommy (or daddy usually)!

It makes me sad how big he has gotten. I miss the little furry ball that I used to be able to grab with one hand to pick up. However, he is becoming a great dog and gets cuter every day! So here's to the head of the household (I'm sure all dog owners understand) and here's some pictures of this cute little guy as he grew (mostly for my family back home but also for pure enjoyment!)
Oscar and my nephew Gabe the first week we had him.

His love of belly rubs and shoes came early in life! :)

Aw, look how little he was!

Even then he knew how to glare when he didn't get his way...

On our way to New York!

Playing together on Bill's birthday.

Him and his Snoopy toy...poor Snoopy!

Sleeping like an angel

6 months old! (And sitting on my computer cord)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

5 Things Writers Can Learn From Soap Operas (I'm serious)

I grew up watching soap operas. I am not ashamed to say that my mother and I spent weekends catching up on our soaps with our handy DVR for many years. I think I began watching them around the age of 8, a fact to which my mother always responds, "what was I thinking?" due to their adult story-lines. Nevertheless, I grew up with the characters of Marlena Evans and Erica Kane, super-couples like Bo and Hope and Tad and Dixie and super-villains like Stefano Dimera and David Hayward. If you haven't guessed, mom was big on Days Of Our Lives and All My Children. She also dabbled in Young and the Restless for years and later in my life, OK the age of about 15, she introduced me to One Life to Live where I learned to love the Cramer women and the Buchanans. I was one of the people sad to hear All My Children and One Life to Live were cancelled because they were a part of my childhood. Yes, some story-lines were predictable but you try being on the air for over forty years and then you try to be constantly original. As a result of their cancellation, my mom refuses to watch "The Chew," which now has All My Children's time slot...she also mentioned something about the first episode having appalling looking food but hey it's a matter of principle mostly. I haven't watched "The Chew" and I don't plan on it. All My Children ended in September and One Life to Live will follow after the New Year. Mom has now resumed her watching of Days of Our Lives in hopes that they won't be the next to go. Soap operas are becoming extinct and that's a shame for a genre that began in radio. So, in honor of my beloved lost soaps, I present a super awesome list that I not-so-cleverly have titled: 5 Things Writers Can Learn From Soap Operas (in no particular order). Yeah, I'd say things Soap Opera has taught us in life but the values really don't apply. Enjoy!

1. A Sister Can Be Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy...and that can all change at the drop of a hat!

Let's examine a few famous soap sisters. My favorite example? Sami and Carrie on Days of Our Lives. Those two have been duking it out for YEARS! What started it? A man, of course. Sami and Carrie both wanted Austin's love and, even though Austin loved Carrie, that didn't mean Sami was going to give up. No, that girl drugged Austin, slept with him in said drugged state, and then pretended she was pregnant with his baby (the baby was actually Austin's brother's kid...yeah, try to keep THAT one straight). Sami eventually married Austin because he felt guilty about the baby but when her lies were revealed, as they always are (see number 4) he left. Much later, Austin finally ended up with Carrie and Carrie and Sami even had a few moments of semi-closeness. 

Sami (Alison Sweeney) and Carrie (Christie Clark)

Another good example? Bianca and Kendall on All My Children. Kendall came to town as the "bastard" daughter of Erica Kane although more accurately she was the offspring from a rape that was given up for adoption. Either way, Kendall was never good enough in Erica's eyes, or her own eyes, and she envied "perfect" daughter Bianca. She even locked Bianca in a crypt once (talk about family feuds!) Years passed and the sisters bonded, and so did the mother and daughter, and they became "the Kane women," a family you didn't want to mess with. The sisters even reunited after a rather large fight between Kendall and Bianca after Bianca, a lesbian, failed to tell Kendall that she became pregnant with her second daughter via Kendall's husband's sperm...that's quite a detail to leave out and probably should have been discussed before the baby was conceived. Despite this, the sisters got close again. What does this prove? Read above, a sister can be your best friend or your worst enemy! Writers can look at these situations and learn that they can write the family dynamic many ways and build the story strong so that the families can repair themselves in the end.

Bianca and Kendall (Bianca was later played by 
Christina Bennett Lind but Eden Riegel will always be Bianca to me)

2. Secrets and Lies Must Always Be Revealed!

Now, every person has their secrets so why shouldn't characters be the same? An author may choose to keep that secret until the very end of the story but all important secrets/lies must be revealed! Why? It's simple really, a secret/lie wouldn't matter if it didn't need to be hidden. One huge secret that was just revealed on One Life to Live was that the Todd Manning audiences had watched for years was not really the real Todd Manning. This wasn't a shock for all people because Roger Howarth played Todd until 2003 when the role was recast with Trevor St. John and viewers knew if Howarth ever returned that it was likely St. John would be out of a job no matter how well he did in the role. In an odd occurrence for soaps, One Life to Live actually acknowledge the difference in the character's appearance by stating Todd had plastic surgery to trick his wife Blair into loving him again by pretending to be a different person (yup, that's how they do it on soaps). This secret was kept for 8 years, a long time even for soap standards. It wasn't revealed that Todd wasn't Todd (try to keep up) until this year when Howarth returned to the show. The real Todd Manning was being locked away and the new Todd was his twin brother, Victor Lord Jr. and Victor had been raised and conditioned to believe he was Todd so that he could take over his life. Don't worry if you have trouble keeping up, so do I and I watch the soap. Either way, all lies must come to an end and this can takes years in a soap world. The important part to remember: there is no point for a secret/lie if you don't reveal it! So writers, you can set up a lie or a secret and you can make it last for an entire story but it means squat if you don't have some sort of revelation.

Todd #1 (Roger Howarth) and Todd #2 (Trevor St. John)

3. Paternity Tests Mean NOTHING

If your character is rich enough or smart enough, even a scientific thing like a paternity test can be altered. Paternity tests are literally changed ALL the time on soaps (remember Sami from before?). A big one recently was on One Life to Live when wealthy Clint Buchanan paid his lackey to switch his daughter Jessica's paternity test so that her fiance Brody would be the father and not Ford, the loser she slept with when she was having a lapse with her D.I.D (dissociative identity disorder). However, the lackey was dumb and didn't realize that TWO of Clint's daughters were pregnant and switched Natalie's paternity test so that she it appeared she was pregnant with Brody's baby, yes she slept with him, instead of John's. In this case, the rich and powerful character, Clint, made a real mess of his daughter's lives while trying to protect them but it proves the point, if they have the means your characters can fake the paternity and making a compelling story.

Rich Man Clint (Jerry verDorn) and his daughters Jessica (Bree Williamson)
and Natalie (Melissa Archer)

4. True Love Always Finds a Way (often multiple times)

Soaps are notorious for pissing off their fans by breaking up their favorite couples. Don't even get me started on All My Children's Zach and Kendall and One Life to Live's John and Natalie. Soap couples have to be the most tormented couples in all of writing simply because, unless the show is cancelled, the audience has to be kept on their toes. I don't know how many times I have yelled at the TV because once again my favorite couple has been separated by lies, affairs and even death. Of course these shows have tried the characters with other people. Kendall was with Ryan at one point and Griffin at another but she always made it back to Zach. Zach was presumed dead but he made it back to Kendall so that they could leave, presumably happily ever after, when the show ended. Natalie and John broke up years ago and John was with Blair, then Marty and Natalie married Jared but nobody ever forgot about this couple. They made it back to each other for a short time until the whole baby fiasco but no matter what is thrown at them, they will always make it back to each other (and they better be back together when the show ends!) So, writers, make your fans happy and put the lovers together. You can make them suffer and torture them all you want but you have to give your fans some happiness. Now, I won't say ALL stories end with the lovers together but I can say that a lot do and fans always want them to if the love stories are written well.

Kendall and Zach (Thorsten Kaye)

Natalie and John (Michael Easton)

5. Better double-check that coffin, Villains can always come back from the dead.

OK, so it helps if the villain originally had an open-ended death. You know, like his car went careening off a cliff or there was an explosion but nobody can find a body. Heck, if the villain is Stefano Dimera, they can still find a charred body, identify it as the villain and still explain that away later. Hey, that don't call him the Phoenix for nothing folks. On the other hand, good characters can come back from the dead too. All My Children's Dixie has 'died' multiple times, been impersonated and come back from the dead. Once she even died from tainted pancakes...yup, reread that, tainted pancakes. The character even appeared to family members as a ghost, especially to her soul mate Tad, yet she managed to come back to life. However,  people are happy when the good characters come back, not so much when someone like Stefano Dimera comes back. It's heart-warming when people like Dixie come back, it's worrisome when evil comes back. So writers, remember these tricks and you too can make the worst of villains come back to torment until they are successfully killed, and you can always give fans a little happiness by resurrecting the character they loved.

Days of Our Live's Stefan Dimera (Joseph Mascolo)

All My Children's Dixie (Cady McClain)

So here's to the soaps we have loved and lost and to the ones we still have to comfort us. I know lots of people like to laugh at this genre but if you look at the basics, these shows showcase the most important parts of stories, they just repeat them since they are on 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. You have to give them credit for lasting so long! And yes, I know there are other soaps than these three but these are my favorites and I wish I could list more characters but if I did this blog could go on forever, just like a soap was meant to!

National Writing Day- Reflection

So, two days ago was National Writing Day. I wanted to write this yesterday but time got away from me. On that day, I finished a short story that was over 5000 words, started looking at older stories and started reading a friend's story to edit it. Not bad. I had a great day and National Writing Day made me realize a few things.

1. I get a lot more done when I set aside time, have a goal and focus on that goal (even with the cell phone buzzing non-stop and a puppy trying to lay on my laptop).

2. I need to set aside time daily in order to be productive (something I have been trying to do but haven't done every single day so far). 

3. I like my writing a lot more than I used to. I used to finish a story and think, well that's pretty good. I've noticed that as I've grown so has my writing. Duh, right? Well it's been a while since I put aside a piece and said, "wow, I'm actually proud of that." I did this the other day and it felt great!

(now if only my puppy was as helpful as Roo!)

Honestly, I wish every day was National Writing Day, if only so I would be more productive. I realized I used to write this much all the time when I was doing for my undergraduate degree in English Writing. I need to get back into that mind-set of needing to write and treating it as a job. This is now my goal: to write daily and to treat writing as a job, since it is my job. 

I hope everyone else had a great day of writing. If you are a writer and you didn't write on October 20th, you should try setting aside a day to write. It's fun and productive!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

National Writing Day Continues

So, how is National Writing Day going? Pretty well, I think. I finished a short story that is 21 pages long (over 5,000 words), this is my second blog and I plan on working on my novel and editing a friend's story before the day ends. And I did all of this with the constant distraction of my my ever-ringing cell phone and my puppy:

Isn't he cute? Yes, and he likes to rest his head on my computer while I type and  he  naps because he, like most children, heck even most adults, doesn't understand that writing is one of my jobs. Yet, I still feel very productive today. Now, I am off to get ready for date night and to write and edit more, whether it is before my boyfriend gets home or later. I hope every other writer is finding this day as productive as I am!

National Writing Day- Jill Will Write!

I woke up today and thought, "hmm, I should really write today since it is my day off." And I mean a real day of writing, not this, "I worked a little on my story today," crap I've been doing around work and school. A day off means REAL writing. I am talking about "sit down and don't get up until you have finished" writing! I have started many short stories lately, worked a bit on my novels and re-visited old children's stories I have written. Well, today I am going to do more. I am not saying I will conquer the world of writing in one day but inspiration will at least lead me to a finished short story or two. 

After this proclamation, I got online and found out it was National Writing Day. What a perfect day to have the urge to write for hours! My inner Spidey-Writing senses must have been tingling due to this day. I would love to say I am always as productive as I feel I will be today but I am human and I also have a job and grad school to contend with. Usually, I do what I can, but today, well today I will do more and maybe I'll get some cleaning done as well ;)  So now I sit with my coffee freshly brewing in the kitchen and I am ready to seize the day...wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Espresso Book Machine

In response to all of the e-books being established, there is a relatively new machine called the Espresso Book Machine. This machine resembles a giant copier and can print a book in 4-5 minutes. Watching this thing work is amazing!

This article explains the process and the machine pretty well but I've heard they are now using normal copier paper to cut prices. I've also heard there are approximately 40 of these machines in existence and they want to keep making them. They are especially useful for libraries to reprint books that have been destroyed. In 4-5 minutes a brand new book with a shiny new cover, resembling a paperback book you can find in any bookstore, is created. I don't know about my fellow book-reading nerds but I want one of these machines so I can scroll the database and hit "print" and have my book. I love e-books but nothing beats the feeling of turning the page during a good book (yup, I'm that nerd). 

Friday, October 14, 2011

50/50 P.P.M.R (Positively Positive Movie Review)

50/50 is a touching movie about facing life after a cancer diagnosis. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a young man whose world is turned upside down when a doctor finds a tumor on his spine. Suddenly a backache becomes a major life changing event. Seth Rogen plays Kyle, Adam's best friend who stands beside him through thick and thin. This movie showcases the journey Adam takes to hopefully overcome this diagnosis and live while examining the many relationships in his life, including that with his mother, his girlfriend, his best friend and his therapist. Through his various relationships the audience finds themselves asking themselves how they would deal with this situation. This movie does a great job of portraying the heart-breaking reality of life with cancer while blending in comedy to not only lighten the mood but show that life doesn't end during the battle.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a remarkable job of portraying the many stages of coping: denial, acceptance, anger and more. There were scenes that sent chills down my arms and, of course, made me cry. He was completely realistic as he portrayed Adam's slow fall from comedic denial into half-hearted comedic acceptance and finally defeated acceptance. This fall can be seen from the change in Adam from when he shaves his head, because his hair will just fall out anyway, to him screaming at the people who actually stood by him. As the character weakens Gordon-Levitt's portrayal only strengthens.

Seth Rogen surprised me in this role. I have become accustomed to seeing him play a giant goof-ball. In this film he still provided comic relief but with more depth and heart than I have ever seen from him. Rogen was still his funny self but he shows a softer side in some parts that I really appreciated. Rogen also served as a producer on the film, which was written by one of his best friends Will Reiser.

Reiser wrote the script and based it off of his real-life battle with cancer, a battle that Rogen helped him overcome. This project was clearly close to both of their hearts as you can tell by the emotional impact the script and acting provides. Reiser is now a six year cancer survivor but the script was part of his recovery process and he faced a lot of his feelings of bitterness and anger as he wrote the script (see link at bottom for an article on Reiser). That anger is seen through Adam though comedy tinges his situations, much like experiences Reiser experienced in his life. Reiser's battle is reflected in Adam though some experiences have been altered.

Director Jonathon Levine (The Wackness) shows great strides with this film as he tackles a very serious subject while maintaining the humor life brings. I have seen him show depth  before but I believe this film has brought him to a new level. There are many scenes were the camera work is as powerful as the acting and only elevates the intensity of the film.

I obviously can't say much about the ending but the point of this movie is to follow Adam's fight and that fight is a courageous, realistic story that all adult audiences will appreciate.

If you want a straight comedy, wait to see this film. If you want to see a film with power, heart and one that has you on edge, waiting for results like Adam does, then this film is for you. Don't be put off by the serious topic of this movie, it contains plenty of humor and light-hearted antics to provide a great balance of laughter and drama. I highly suggest everyone go see it.

Movie Rating- No sugar needed to sweeten this review.

A story of friends, co-starring cancer

I Want a Mr. Feeny!

I was browsing through the aisles at Wal-Mart today to see if any new DVDs had come out and I came upon the final season of Boy Meets World. This was one of my favorite TV shows growing up. I loved Cory and Topanga and rooted for them no matter how many fights and break-ups they had. I thought Eric was hilarious and his childhood naivety mixed with pure craziness kept me entertained. Eric was in a close tie with my other favorite character, Mr. Feeny! I still love Mr. Feeny to this day and I found his bond with Eric to be completely endearing as he constantly supported Eric, though with a slightly bewildered face.Who could forget the Eric doll that he presents to Mr. Feeny in the last episode so that Mr. Feeny won't miss him....Feeny, Fa-Fa-Fa-Feeny! Fee-ny! I loved it!

I always wanted a Mr. Feeny. I wanted a neighbor who stood by my fence and gave me great advice with a hint of sarcastic splendor. On Home Improvement they had Mr. Wilson and he was pretty awesome but nothing beats Mr. Feeny. He supported the kids, calmed the parents and guided them all, though often in subtle ways so they could figure it out themselves...and he did all of it while usually sporting a nifty sweater vest! I don't know about everyone else but my neighbors NEVER were this awesome. We had an old lady who used to throw stuff in our yard, a crazy lady who made our lives difficult and the typical neighbors who never, EVER, introduced themselves in fear of human contact. Sure, we had some nice ones and I had neighborhood kids to play with but no Mr. Feeny. Did anybody ever have a Mr. Feeny or is he a fantasy that TV created in my mind to measure how sucky my neighbors could be? If anybody had a wise, older man with a sweater vest for a neighbor, please let me know because I want to live in that neighborhood!

Alas, I have no Mr. Feeny but I have the joy he brought me. I will never forget one of my favorite episodes where he and Cory ride the new roller coaster to prove to Mr.Turner and Eric that they are dangerous, not the safe cookie-cutter people that they are viewed as. They enter with Mr. Feeny patting the car and saying, "Let's light this candle!"  They exit the coaster, wide-eyed and in different seats with Mr. Feeny exclaiming that he was thrown forward and "had to run in front of the car!" Not only was this guy the best neighbor ever, he was hilarious!

I know I will sound old saying this but they just don't make TV like they used to. This is still one of my favorite TV shows. I now have the urge to go buy all the seasons, something I am amazed I don't already own! Enjoy the clips below, they are some of my favorites! (Oh and let me know if you find that neighborhood with a Mr. Feeny!)

The Roller Coaster 

The Feeny Call!

Clips of From Some of the Best Scenes

And last but not least...

Eric's Sneak Attack Attempts

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Warrior- P.P.M.R- Positively Positive Movie Review

Warrior stars Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy as estranged brothers, Brendan and Tommy, both MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters. One, Brendan, has long given up his fighting career to become a teacher and a family man. The other, Tommy, is a troubled war veteran returning home to a family he doesn't want. Both brothers find themselves entering the largest MMA championship in history, fighting for a purse of 5 million dollars. Both are also estranged from their father, played by Nick Nolte, but Tommy seeks his father's help in training for the competition, stating that coaching was the only thing his father ever did right.

This movie is powerful! Three different struggles are viewed from the main characters. Brendan is struggling to keep his house and support his wife and two daughters, one of whom has recently had heart surgery. Tommy is struggling with the tragic memories of war and the struggle to find life after. Their father, Paddy, is struggling for redemption, having been an alcoholic and abusive father and husband for most of their lives. All of their struggles collide in a fight for the finish as the two brothers are the two fighters left battling for the championship. 

The acting in this movie is amazing. Joel Edgerton does a great job portraying the desperation of a father and husband trying to do right by his family. However, Tom Hardy and Nick Nolte steal the show. Hardy plays the role of a PTSD stricken soldier so well that it sends chills through your body as you watch how shut off from the world he is. Nick Nolte somehow manages to take the role of a man with an abusive, terrible background and make you feel sorry for him. There is one scene where Nolte battles his alcoholism so viciously that it brought tears to my eyes. I am pegging Nolte for a Best Supporting Actor nomination and most likely a win.

If you are looking for a laugh, go elsewhere. This movie has it's lighthearted moments but it packs a punch, pun intended. For those who say they don't like "fighting movies," forget that. This is so much more than a fighting movie. It has heart, it has love and it has an AMAZING ending. I won't tell you who wins because that would ruin it but the important thing about the end is that there is amazing emotional impact.

I suggest this movie to anyone. It's not your typical good guy fighter versus bad guy fighter movie because of the family impact. In the end, it comes down to family. Most importantly it comes down to brotherhood.

For more information on this movie, visit their main website, which includes the "We Are All Warriors" page where people could nominate and write about the Warriors in their life. If you go to this link, , and scroll through the "View All Warriors" part you will find an entry that my boyfriend did about me (Jill Zimmerman). Hope you enjoy it! 

Movie Rating- No sugar needed to sweeten this review.


I was eating dinner with my boyfriend at Chili's when suddenly I heard a song come over the radio that brought a smile to my face. I didn't acknowledge it completely but it brought back some memories. You see, when I was in a car accident almost two years ago I was a mess afterward. I was bed-ridden, depressed and broken. My Tahoe had been totaled and released to us to sell and when the day finally came for it to be picked up I went out to the car one last time. Snow was on the ground but I insisted on walking to it alone. I could walk pretty normally by then even though pain shot through me constantly but I made my way into the chilly air and face the broken SUV that was parked up the street. I walked around it and saw the dented passenger side that looked like it had been attacked by a giant banana, the yellow paint from the cab was all over it. After doing a once over I slowly climbed into the car and put my hands on the wheel. My hands shook and my heart was rapid. My breath was coming in waves and I thought a panic attack was coming; PTSD does this to a person. I closed my eyes and remembered the safety glass from the cab raining down on my car and quickly opened my eyes again. My hands were wrapped around the wheel, white-knuckled like they had been right after the accident. Tears came to my eyes not only from the memories but from knowing this would be the last time I sat in this car. I know it is only a car but this car had seen me through a lot of my first driving and my college years. It would be hard to let it go even though it only brought back painful memories at that point.

I decided to turn on the ignition and placed the key in the starter and turned it on. Right away something funny happened. The radio came on just like it used to and a song started playing: Someday by Rob Thomas. I had heard this song before, in fact I had listened to it many times because it gave me hope after the accident. However, this time it really struck me as a sign that everything would be OK. I don't care if people find this crazy, to me it made sense. In my darkest hour there was a few lines of hope. I sat in the car and finished the song, patted the steering wheel as if to say goodbye and said a thank you in my mind for the car having been big enough to save my life. Then I went inside, curled up with an ice pack and found new determination to move on.

(more after lyrics)


You can go
You can start all over again
You can try to find a way to make another day go by
You can hide
Hold all your feelings inside
You can try to carry on when all you want to do is cry

And maybe someday
We'll figure all this out
Try to put an end to all our doubt
Try to find a way to make things better now and
Maybe someday we'll live our lives out loud
We'll be better off somehow

Now wait
And try to find another mistake
If you throw it all away then maybe you can change your mind
You can run, oh
And when everything is over and done
You can shine a little light on everything around you
Man it's good to be someone


And I don't want to wait
I just want to know
I just want to hear you tell me so
Give it to me straight
Tell it to me slow

Cause maybe someday
We'll figure all this out
We'll put an end to all our doubt
Try to find a way to just feel better now and
Maybe someday we'll live our lives out loud
We'll be better off somehow

Cause sometimes we don't really notice
Just how good it can get
So maybe we should start all over
Start all over again 

Tonight I sat at the table with my boyfriend and only heard a few of the words that went to this song but the meaning still hit me. I have come a long way since that day in the snow, staring at my demolished car. I still have back problems, still face pain daily but I am happy. I have the happiest life, the best boyfriend and I have hope. I am going after my Graduate degree and I have promise. Most importantly, I have life. I don't care how many years pass since that day, I will always hear this song and be reminded that I survived that accident and, not only did I survive, I thrived with my new sense of life. I used to listen to this song and think Someday all the tears I cried, and the ones I held inside,  would go away, that I would carry on and SOMEDAY it would be better. Well, that Someday has arrived and I living my life to the fullest. I wish the same for everyone else.

(Thanks to Rob Thomas for this song and AZ Lyrics for the lyrics.

Poetry Corner- "In Memory of Chris Farley"

This poem was written during my last semester of college. To say the teacher tested me is an understatement but hey, maybe she brought out the best in me...or maybe she drove me close to insanity. Either way, I produced over 15 poems for her class and this was one of my favorites. The assignment was to model a poem after one from the book. We had to model it in form and in meaning. The poem I choose was "The Death of Marilyn Monroe" by Sharon Olds. I choose a different actor whose life ended too soon.

"In Memory of Chris Farley"

Your brother found you
sprawled out on the floor,
arm out-stretched,
rosary grasped in hand.
Dead like your idol,
thirty-three like Belushi.
Was it drugs, was it the heart?
All to blame.
Seventeen trips to rehab couldn’t save
you from yourself.

We remember you,
cart-wheeling across the stage,
a van down by the river
your true home.
            When did your life take
a turn--the laughter
quieted by drugs. You, the Almost Hero,
helpless on the floor
reaching for help that never came.
Forever the Black Sheep,
the expectations of comedy were too much.

Now alive only in memories,
our dear Tommy Boy,
you entertained through silent pain, the funny

This wasn't the only piece I wrote about Chris Farley, maybe I'll share the others soon. He was one of my favorite actors growing up and I still watch his movies and laugh every time. I chose a more dignified picture up top but below is how I'll always remember him. What a great man!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Short Story- Skank Juice

Inspired by a friend, I was looking through some old stories I wrote for my undergraduate degree. I came across the one below and had to laugh because of the shock that came from people when they found out I was the one who wrote it. You see, these assignments were called "Flash Fictions." The assignment was simple: write a story of any kind but it must include the keyword and it can only be one page long. Also, we were not allowed to put our real names on the assignment. The keyword for this assignment was "Juice." I decided to title it, "Skank Juice" by Bob Newhart (I always used classic television names for code names). Note: I don't find this to be one of my best pieces of work but it makes me laugh and it was voted by the class for 3rd place.

Skank Juice

Brad came down the stairs to find Julie standing at the kitchen counter. Her hair was in a tight bun, a white apron was tied around her waist and she was squeezing orange juice into a clear glass pitcher. She had cheated on him again. He knew it. Not because she smelt like another guy and not because of a guilty look on her face. It was the juice. She always squeezed orange juice after she cheated. Brad didn’t really know why. Perhaps she thought acting like June Cleaver for a day would make up for her betrayal. Maybe she thought he wouldn’t suspect her if she acted like a good housewife for a day but the break from the norm of cereal and Sunny D had only sent up red flags the first time. The private detective had confirmed it all but Brad hadn’t confronted Julie. Instead he waited for the next time she squeezed orange juice. Sometimes it was a weeklong “treat”, as she called it, but sometimes he wouldn’t find it at the breakfast table for months. Fresh squeezed orange juice meant unfaithful. Brad hated fresh squeezed orange juice and not just because of the burning the acidy pulp left in his throat. He had acid reflux but far be it for him to interfere with Julie’s redemption juice. No, the pain that spread deep inside his heart bothered him more than his throat and all he needed was to see the juice in order to feel the pain, no drinking necessary.
            He had put up with it for a year; one whole year of having his world repeatedly disturbed by glasses of orange liquid. After the first time he thought maybe it was a one-time thing, an itch that needed scratching and that would settle it for good. He thought maybe she would get it out of her system and they would be OK again and they were, for about a month. Then the orange juice was there for a week straight before disappearing for a few more weeks and returning again for one day.  Brad drank the juice the first time, hoping he was wrong, but after his suspicions were confirmed he refused to drink it ever again. When it was sat in front of him he wouldn’t touch it and when Julie asked why he wasn’t drinking it he would take a sip and quickly spit it back into the cup when her back was turned.
            During that year, Brad avoided the reality that his wife was cheating on him and instead focused on how much he hated that damned juice. However, slowly the reality that he couldn’t live this way began to sneak into his brain. He could leave her, he decided, but how would that punish her really? They had signed a pre-nup; she’d get half of everything that was his. No, her punishment needed to be worse. About eight months in, he decided that perhaps public humiliation would do but slowly the bitter feeling in his heart turned to resentment and resentment turned to hatred. No, public humiliation wasn’t enough for the tramp he formally referred to as his better half.
            Early the next morning he was faced with orange juice again. His hopes had been answered, it wasn’t Sunny D, the orange rinds lay on the table.
            “Morning sweetie!” Julie fixed a smile at her husband. “I felt like making something special again this morning. Hope you don’t mind. Oh, and the sausages are almost ready.” She turned back to the stove.
            Brad walked up to the glass pitcher on the table and, watching Julie out of the corner of his eye, slipped two little white pills into the liquid and watched them dissolve. Julie would be dead by the next morning . He hoped her insides would slowly eat away at her body but didn’t really know how the poison worked. That would teach her not to be such a slut. Brad smirked as Julie put a plate of food in front of him and stated simply that he would just have water this morning.
            It was a good thing he didn’t dare touch the skank’s juice anymore.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rant From an Angry Retail Worker!

I firmly believe that EVERY person should work retail at some point in their life, preferably around the holidays and for at least a month. I have this belief because of how people treat retail workers. I am at my second retail job, I won't mention the names of either store, and customers treat workers horribly. Now, I know there are some wonderful customers who have fun conversations with workers and treat them with respect. However, there are an abundance of jerks who think they rule the world and are better than workers. The treatment goes far beyond the rudeness however. Therefore here are my guidelines for retail customers:

1. Reply to us when we greet you!

We don't really care how you are doing today. We don't care if traffic was bad or if your mother-in-law hates you. We are paid to serve you and, in doing so, ask you how you are when you enter the store. Therefore, when  we ask "Hi, how are you today?" you could at least respond in some way or form. A simple, "Fine, how are you?" would be great. Heck, I would even accept a smile and a nod! Walking away or averting your eyes is rude. Are you allergic to human interaction? Will it melt your soul if you ask how we are? I don't think so and don't worry, we won't tell you our life stories like some of you do (see below). It won't kill you: SAY HELLO!

2. We are NOT your therapists!

Therapists are paid good money for an hour of their time. In comparison to the average retailer's wage therapists probably get between 5 and 15 times what a retail worker gets in an hour, maybe more. I am not complaining about wages. However, I do not get out of bed in the morning and paste a smile on my face so you can come to my register or approach me in a store to tell me about your marriage problems, your daughter's marriage problems or your current problems with work. I do not mind listening to people's problems. My trouble comes from the people who spend 10 minutes complaining to me about it and then snap at me. I am not the reason your life sucks, go fix the real problem instead of bitching to me.

3. We are NOT punching bags!

I don't care if the last person you talked to slit your tires, stole your candy bar, took a piss on your shoe and then proceeded to light your newly cut hair on fire, it wasn't me! Therefore, do not come up to my register and cut me off when I am asking the questions I am forced to ask. Also, don't snap at me when I offer you a promotion. Snapping, "No!" before I can even finish a sentence is rude. I know my parents taught me better than that and even if your parents didn't you should know better. You don't cut off a doctor prescribing medicine or wave your hands madly at your massage therapist, don't do it to me. If you want to beat up on someone then go buy a nifty little punching bag. They even sell the "kiddy" versions with Spiderman or Barbie on them since you are acting like a 3 year old. I have had a customer physically hit me so maybe these handy little inventions could release some tension.

4. We are NOT stupid!

OK, some of them are. I will admit it because there are stupid people everywhere. However, I am not stupid and I do not wish to be treated like I am. Don't talk to me in a condescending tone and don't assume I am a loser because I run a cash register. I have a Bachelors Degree in English Writing and am working on a Masters in Library Science and I just so happen to run a register to make money in the meantime. I work with some very wonderful, intelligent people and we don't appreciate being talked to like we still eat paste with kindergartners. I once had a lady show me one of the then-new dollar coins with the Presidents on them. She showed me it and said in a patronizing tone, "That's John Adams. I bet you can't tell me which president he was. He was fourth." I looked at her and said, "No, actually he was second. His son was sixth, you may be thinking of him." I then rattled off the presidents in order up to about the seventh one just to annoy her. I may not be a genius but I graduated with High Honors and I know a lot of smart workers. Don't treat us like idiots just because we have to scan your merchandise to make a buck.

5. Stop talking on your phone for 2 minutes!

This one is simple. Don't come up to my counter, hand me stuff and proceed to have a full conversation on your phone in front of me while holding up that pointer finger that says, "hold on. Please wait for me to finish my very important call so I can give you a few seconds of my time." I know sometimes emergencies happen but I don't need to know about your problems with Sally from the office that you are annoyingly telling whoever is on the other line. Also, it inhibits me from asking important questions that could speed along our little meeting or, heaven forbid, save you money. The world won't end without the phone attached to your ear. People lived for centuries upon centuries without a device attached to their ears, try it for just two minutes.

6. We have no control over merchandise!

I know it is horrible when we run out of an item or when we don't have a wide enough selection of something you find important but I don't have any control over that. Most of the time, the store is corporate owned which means merchandise is sent to us, we put it on the shelves and hope it sells. We don't control quantity, half our stuff is ordered by the computer, based on when it's sold and I can't magically pull a limited edition ornament out of my butt! I once had a lady tell me I was despicable because the thread size had changed since she bought her sewing machine 20 years ago! This is not an exaggeration and frankly I was shocked that it took that long for thread size to change. She thought I had made that decision and kept telling me I should have kept it the same. This actually made me laugh. Listen, if I had control over things like thread size I wouldn't be wearing an apron and hauling boxes! Also, we have absolutely no control over when holiday items are released. Yes, sometimes ornaments or holiday plush start coming out at the end of September or early October. I have no urge to buy this stuff this early either but some people do and they have to put the merchandise idea into customer's minds. If I had it my way, Christmas items wouldn't be put out until at least Halloween ended if only so I never again have an elderly man tell me, "That's just disgraceful to have ornaments out this early." Once again, I just put out the stuff I am handed!

7. We CAN'T have more people working!

I constantly hear, "You should have more people on the floor!" Well, I am sure my manager would schedule much more people if they could just so she wouldn't have to hear that. The little known fact is: we have a strict amount of hours allocated to us so the company doesn't go under from having countless people work therefore spending more money than they are making. SHOCKING, I know!

A few other simple things: It's not cute when your kid screams for 10 minutes and you do nothing. It's not cute when you let them break things. It's not cool to continue a full shopping spree when you enter the store and I tell you politely that we close in five minutes. You should have come sooner if you want a shopping extravaganza. Also if we have more than one register and I am standing at the one at the back then yes, I do need you to come to my register, not the blatantly empty one in front of you!

This may all sound like common knowledge. Heck, this may all come as a huge surprise to you. Either way, learn to treat retail workers with respect. It is not our fault that someone yelled at you all day, that doesn't give you the right to take it out on us. We have very little control over our merchandise, deal with it. If your whole life is ruined because we are out of a coffee mug then you really need to reevaluate your life. Once again, I think every person should work retail in their life, if only so they show respect to the people behind the counter. But hey, who I am to make these decisions, I'm just a lowly retail worker. ;)