In Which I Find I Really AM A Vampire

I’m not some curtain-twitcher on a crusade to make young men pull up their pants; rather, I’m only concerned if there is reason to believe that my house or someone else’s might be struck by a hail of bullets or the flying wreckage of an exploding meth lab. These are valid concerns, given my neighborhood history.

Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder!* It’s totally a thing!

I walked out of work last night at 4:02 PM into a Florida late-winter evening, which means a temperature of 80 degrees F, and so bright your eyeballs fry down to little hard marbles inside your head.

For as long as I can remember I have felt this way – That first blast of light and heat makes me close my eyes, and my first instinct is to literally lay down wherever I am and go to sleep. It’s a strange response, and I didn’t really think about it much until last night. Maybe it’s going from the darkened office environment to the bright outdoors, and my melatonin, seratonin, or dopamine levels are thrown off so something suddenly goes into overdrive and manufactures more of something else. That’s why I drop like a Battle Droid without a Command Ship.

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“Does Not Compzzzzz”

Admittedly, it’s been a tiring week – I’m still investigating why the police were in my neighborhood Sunday night. I’m not some curtain-twitcher on a crusade to make young men pull up their pants; rather, I’m only concerned if there is reason to believe that my house or someone else’s might be struck by a hail of bullets or the flying wreckage of an exploding meth lab. These are valid concerns, given my neighborhood history.

Still working on some upcoming posts, though! Check back next week for posts about my violin and I, and comparing Don Bluth’s classic An American Tale with the bloody, violent BBC America show Copper.

Stay tuned, and have a great week!

 

*Normally I avoid WebMD because on that site, all roads lead to cancer. Got a headache? Cancer. Got a sore back? Cancer. Did you pull that band-aid off too fast? CANCER. Problems with your transmission? CANCER!!!!!!

Happy Leap Day! Take Cover!

So when I got home last night to flashing lights and roving deputies, I had that familiar ‘Oh god, not again’ feeling. My neighbor said something about ‘We thought we heard a shotgun!’ before scampering inside.

Leap Day fascinates me. It is basically acknowledging the mismatch between our calendar system and the time that our planet actually takes to orbit the sun.

Leap Day 2012 was a good day. I took a half-day from work, and made a special dinner for myself. I can’t recall if I watched a movie or not but I probably did. I was also celebrating being in a loving, healthy relationship (or so I thought at the time) and just feeling good about life.

Leap Day 2016 has not been off to the greatest start. Last night I got home from dinner at a friend’s house to find my neighborhood swamped with Five-Oh. They were investigating a house one house away from mine, and all the lights were flashing. It put me in mind of an event that had happened before.

Read on for details on my night and why I missed watching the Oscars due a case of ‘Roaming Searchlight-Itis!’

Continue reading “Happy Leap Day! Take Cover!”

THE STARS HAVE ALIGNED!

I’ll sit back and let those first few notes of the theme carry me away, and experience the magic all over again. Then I’ll get home, pack, wrap Xmas presents, throw Herzog in the car in his carrier and head north for ninety minutes.

It’s been a rough few weeks. I got to see Star Wars, and have been struggling financially otherwise – basically I live paycheck to paycheck. I’m not complaining – in fact I am INCREDIBLY fortunate that I just have myself and Herzog to look after, and that I’m able to live as well as I do. Many people don’t! Many people have kids to look after, family obligations to take care of, and of course, keep food on the table and the light and heat on and manage to do so by the skin of their teeth, or by working two jobs. I have friends who are on food stamps despite working full time jobs, just so they can eat. My financial troubles were ALL My own making and I am slowly fixing that, but there are a lot of things I do without.

So when I realized I was getting paid a day early, I was over the moon! AND I am getting released several hours’ early from work. This means that I am seeing Star Wars again, in my favorite theater, before I head out of town to visit my family for the holidays. It’s a little dinner theater that serves beer and wings and salads and burgers, and there are hand-painted murals on the walls of Silver Screen legends like Chaplin and Mae West. It’s a wee little theater and I’ve spent some of the happiest hours of the last year there – in fact, I was there LAST Christmas Eve watching The Hobbit: Battle of The Five Armies.

This is the gift I’m giving myself this year, and I’m super, SUPER thankful that I can do it. I’ll sit back and let those first few notes of the theme carry me away, and experience the magic all over again. Then I’ll get home, pack, wrap Xmas presents, throw Herzog in the car in his carrier and head north for ninety minutes.

So once again, from me to all of  you, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, please have a holiday season of warmth, light and joy! 

 

Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane

So from me to you, I hope you’ll hear me and believe me when I say It’s going to be okay.

I’m still alive! Just busy.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies, but haven’t had time to blog about them. I’ve been working on fiction, and wrote up an entry on Mudder of Dragons about my trip to New York and I’m working on another one for tomorrow. Go check it out if you’re bored or stuck in traffic!

Patricksponaugle linked to an amazing Oatmeal comic on Twitter last night and reading it really gave me pause. Here it is:

It’s going to be okay.  

You need to read it. Right now. Don’t save it for later, don’t scroll past and think ‘Oh I’ll read that later’ like I almost did, because I am NOTORIOUS for such and then forgetting. Just read it. It takes less than five minutes.

–Yeah.

If we are alive and reading this, we’re all on that burning plane RIGHT NOW, and we all have the opportunity to tell someone ‘It’s going to be okay.‘ Half of the act is saying it out loud – the other half is believing it yourself once you’ve said it.

It’s easy to gloss over the nuance of human suffering with what seems like a platitude… but really, it’s true. Holding on to hope in times of desperation is one of the best things about humanity – maybe that sounds like bullshit off a greeting card, and people say it all the time in situations when things AREN’T going to be okay and bad things happen anyway… but that isn’t what life’s about.

It actually reminded me of something that happened to me, one of my life’s great regrets.

The rest of this entry is behind a cut because it deals with the death of a family member and a personal failing on the part of the writer. I invite you to read it, but please be warned, it’s depressing.

Continue reading “Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane”

Reading the News Lately Entry: HBO’s The Corner

Look, I’m not going to pretend I’m anything other than a white woman who watches a lot of TV and movies. But as an American, Baltimore’s strife kills me for a lot of reasons; I know that I live in a different America than a lot of people, I know that I am privileged. I am also struggling to understand both sides of a conflict that has made a lot of bodies and broken a lot of lives. In thinking about it, I remembered I had watched this amazing show and wondered how many other people were aware of it.

Watching a television show won’t make someone understand what’s going on in Baltimore, but The Corner introduced me to a conversation going on in this country that I wasn’t previously aware of, and helped me find an orientation to that conversation. Hopefully it can do the same for others.

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I love The Wire. It was one of the most important shows on American television and yet all it garnered was critical acclaim, and a few awards. You always know when someone has seen it, because we can’t stop ourselves from talking about it. David Simon, the creator, has talked about what’s going on in Baltimore because as a resident of the city he has long been privy to its inner workings.

A lot of people are probably looking to The Wire or recommending it to others who don’t understand what’s going on in Baltimore right now. And rightfully so, as it is one of the few television shows of the last twenty years that addressed some of those very problems. But The Wire was still required to be a commercial property, and so the stories were sometimes hampered by the need for some kind of cohesive narrative to draw the (white, middle/upperclass) audience in. It was thought-provoking, it was hard-hitting, but at the end of the day it still had to be entertainment.

The Corner paints a much more interesting picture, of the city in particular and America in general, and was made by many of the same people. Short of going to Baltimore and living there for a few years, it’s the closest some of us watching the news can get to understanding what’s going on.

Directed by Charles S. Dutton, The Corner is a dramatization of the nonfiction book The Corner: A Year In the Life of An Inner City Neighborhood. Many of its actors are recognizable from The Wire and elsewhere, and all of them give knockout performances.

As the title indicates, the six-episode miniseries shows a year in the life of a neighborhood that has fallen apart for a variety of reasons. Drugs, economic disparity, civic corruption, it’s all there on display. No punches are pulled by Dutton’s direction or the writing of the show- the grim realities are all exhibited without agenda other than ‘this really happened.’

For example: Francine, a drug addict and mother to one of the main characters, decides to get clean. She goes to a nearby center where she’s been told she can do so. However, the program has a limited number of beds, and sees people eager to turn over new leaves every day slide right back into addiction. She’s told to come back and apply again for four Tuesdays in a row so that they know she’s serious about getting clean. Basically, another month on the street.

It seems simple enough to us, who are reading this article or watching the show in our comfortable living rooms, with smartphones we can program to remind us where to be on certain days at certain times. Or even if we’ve been trained by parents or school programs about time management and basic organizational skills, being somewhere four times in a row sounds easy! We have cars we can use to get around, or means to check the bus schedule fare to get us there.

Francine has none of that. Her ‘normal’ doesn’t require her to know what day it is, or be anywhere at a certain time. As an addict, her internal clock is timed to her next fix, not “Humpday Happy Hour” or “Casual Friday” or anything that might help her get to the center at the right time on the right day. And a month in Bunchie’s neighborhood is a very, VERY long time frame in which a lot of things can happen. The show does not belabor the point, just makes it and steps back.

Another powerful thing about the series was getting to see so many actors I recognize from other shows display such range. Many of the people from the Wire play characters diametrically opposed to their characters in The Corner. Maria Broom, known as Lt. Daniels’ politically-savvy wife Marla in the Wire, is totally torn down as Bunchie, an unemployed addict who sits on her stoop all day. Likewise Clarke Peters, who played natty and understated badass Lester Freamon plays Fat Curt, so named because of the grotesque swelling in his hands and feet that years of drug use have caused. Seeing people of color displaying their range in such a way was a huge eye-opener; I started really thinking about how few roles there are for people of color in American entertainment, and how limited those roles usually are.

Look, I’m not going to pretend I’m anything other than a white woman who watches a lot of TV and movies. But as an American, Baltimore’s strife kills me for a lot of reasons; I know that I live in a different America than a lot of people, I know that I am privileged. I am also struggling to understand both sides of a conflict that has made a lot of bodies and broken a lot of lives. In thinking about it, I remembered I had watched this amazing show and wondered how many other people were aware of it.

Watching a television show won’t make someone understand what’s going on in Baltimore, but The Corner introduced me to a conversation going on in this country that I wasn’t previously aware of, and helped me find an orientation to that conversation. Hopefully it can do the same for others.

The Corner is not available on Instant Watch, but is available through Netflix Disc service and HBO GO or NOW.