Will you say something?

If you live in the states, I’m sorry to bring this sort of downer post to you the days after a holiday. But, I honestly couldn’t think of a better time to do it. And, while I normally like to think that I write to a worldwide audience, this post is just for Americans. Because there’s something we need to talk about, guys. Something that should have stopped a long time ago.

Thanksgiving was a few days ago. Those of us who celebrated gathered with family and friends. We enjoyed food, wine and good spirits. Then some of us headed out to go shopping. I have feelings about that, but that’s another topic for another day. Let’s focus just on Thanksgiving. A time for gratitude, for family, for love and compassion. The first day of a season that is dedicated to seeing every man as our brother and reaching out a hand for those in need.

So let’s talk about some people in need. There are lots of them, but there’s one group that’s been heavy on my heart. The women, men and children currently held as prisoners at our southern border.

And make no mistake, they are being held as prisoners. They have committed no crime. All they have attempted to do is cross our border and seek asylum, legally.

I cannot stress this enough, seeking asylum is legal.

Let me say it again for the people in the cheap seats, seeking asylum is legal!

I would also like to point out that many of the people being held are children. Babies, toddlers. Ripped from their parent’s arms. Some have died. They’ve been denied basic hygiene, privacy and everything else a child that age needs. And, most horrifying of all, many children have gone missing. They’re just gone, missing. We have no idea where they went. The adults who took these children from their families have now been so negligent as to lose them.

And don’t think for a moment that this is unintentional. That this was some sort of well-intentioned governmental bungling. It was a fear tactic, and the government has said as much. Here’s a link if you don’t believe me. Our government is intentionally trying to scare people away from coming here and legally seeking asylum.

During WWII, America was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. This is something we all know. We all also know that we responded in a few different ways. The worst way was by locking up Japanese American citizens in camps. This is a scar on our country’s legacy. I like to think that if I had been alive then, I would have spoken up.

When we were founding this country, and making room for the ever spreading communities and cities, we forced native American’s off of their lands. Countless were sent on a march down what we now call the Trail of Tears. So many lives were lost, and this is a loss for all of America. We should have the ancestors of those people walking among us today. But we don’t. I like to think that if I had been alive then, I would have spoken up.

I’m here now, a proud American descended from Hungarian immigrants. And I will speak up for these families. I’m not doing it to assuage any sort of guilt, or because I wish to appear woke. I’m doing it because they deserve to have us all speaking for them. I’m doing it because the America I want to live in remembers what’s written on the Statue of Liberty. I’m going to speak up for these people because my great grandmother traveled here as a child with her parents so that I could stand here today. I’m going to keep right on speaking up because what’s happening is inhumane.

I’m hoping that you’ll want to stand up for them, too. Here are some ways you can help. 

To start with, start talking about this. Don’t let people forget that this is happening. The news cycles move too fast, and it’s too easy to forget. Post stories of families at the border, share this blog post if it inspired you. If you’re a blogger, and I’m honored that so many of you are, share your feelings in a post to raise awareness.

You can also donate. Here’s a charity that I’m donating to, called Immigrant Families Together. 

Finally, contact your local officials. Tell them that you don’t want to see these families treated this way anymore. Tell them that they need to do something to help them. 

And if they won’t, remember that next November. Remember who stood by, and let this happen. And vote them out.

I hope that all of you enjoy the holiday season. I don’t want you to spend the next month dragged down by guilt. I won’t be. But while I enjoy the season with my family, my heart is with the people at our border separated from theirs. And I will not stop doing whatever I can do until every family is reunited and free. 

And I’m grateful for every single other person saying something. 

Limetown series one overview. A huge letdown.

Okay, I have to start this out with an apology. I wrote a review of the first two episodes of Limetown, and I recommended it to you all. I thought it was going to be great. I thought it was going to be true to the podcast. I thought it was going to be worth your time to watch.

After finishing the show, I can confirm to you that it is, in fact, not worth watching it at all. It was such a disappointment, an absolute spit in the faces of the original creators. 

Let’s break down why shall we?

I’d like to start with Deirdre Wells. They decided to cast Marlee Matlin as Deirdre. If you’re not familiar with this incredible actress, let me tell you a few things about her. I first saw her on West Wing, where I fell in love with her. She’s funny as hell, a great actress, and also happens to be deaf. 

If you know about Limetown already, then you know that the town was testing tech that allowed people to hear other people’s thoughts. Now, I’m sure you can imagine that a deaf woman would be more interested in that than most. The ability to communicate, actually communicate with people after not being able to for most of your life would be too magical for words. They could have explored that. They could have gotten into how it was to be isolated her whole life, and then feel even more isolated when other people got the tech and she didn’t.

But they didn’t’ bother to do any of that. This was one of the few things that a show could have done so much better than a podcast. I mean, you can’t convey the actions of a deaf person in a purely audio medium. That sort of feels like a dick move. But no, there was none of that. She was just deaf, and they didn’t do anything with it.

What they did do instead was completely ruin the relationship between Dierdre and Max. If you recall from the podcast, Dierdre was all but convinced Max didn’t love her all that much. She was largely surprised when she heard that he’d called out “Goodbye Dorothy,” right before he died. She seemed more angry at him than anything. Like long term anger. One that had smoldered to a low blaze through the years. And Max? Max didn’t mention her at all.

Now, let’s talk about what really ruined the show for me. It was a specific thing, and it had a name.


I touched on this in the first post I did about the show. I loved Lia in the podcast. She was sweet, smart and cared about what she was doing. And she really, really, didn’t give a shit about her uncle Emile. She didn’t remember him, didn’t realize the connection he had with her.

This was incredibly important if you read the prequel novel. Emile stays with his brother’s family for some time, and he has this great connection with Lia. It’s suggested but never said out loud, that he can’t hear Lia’s thoughts. That was important to him. Lia was important to him. So the fact that she doesn’t even remember their bond is heartbreaking. It means something that’s felt deeply. And this show just pissed all over that.

I especially hated what happened to Mark. It was ugly, it was brutal, and it was completely unnecessary. It just made me feel sick. And look, I’m all about the flawed hero character. I love flawed heroes. But there is a difference between a flawed hero and someone I just really genuinely hate. This made Lia into someone I hated.

Now, let’s talk about Emile showing up on the second to last episode. What in the hell was that? It didn’t make any sense for him to show up. And it made no sense, how Lia reached to him.

This whole show she’s having some sort of crisis because she wants to find her uncle. Then he shows up, right out of the blue, and asks her to come with him. And she says no. 

She hasn’t done a damn thing all season that wasn’t selfish. She’s done all these horrible things and she claims that it was all for the survivors. But it wasn’t, it was for her. But when the time came, she didn’t take what she’d been searching for all this time. 

But she didn’t. Now, this makes sense for the Lia of the podcast. She cared about the story, not her uncle. She would have turned him down. But the Lia of the show would have gone with her uncle all the way. 

Now finally, I want to point out something that I thought was done almost to perfection. The last episode was almost perfect.

Lenore was great. The actress, the lines, the execution. Everything about her was wonderful. All through this last episode were little added scenes that did add something to the story. It was masterfully done.

Maybe it was so good because Lia was hardly on the screen.

So that’s it. I have nothing more to say on the subject of this show. But I do have some advice for the creators. 

Don’t bother with a season two. Get season three of the podcast done instead. 

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A review

Hank Green is one of my favorite YouTubers. He does some of the coolest science shows, including Scishow. I adore him.

When we stumbled upon his book, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, in our local bookstore, the husband and I had a bit of a disagreement. He was insisting to me that this was Hank Green, the Youtuber. I was sure that this was Hank Green, the author of A Fault in our Stars. Needless to say, the husband won that argument. John Green is the author of A Fault in our Stars, and he’s Hank Green’s brother. Oops, my bad.

But that’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to talk to you about this book. Because it’s really good. And if you haven’t read it yet, you should. 

It’s not like anything I’ve ever read before. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. The story imagesis about a statue that appears out of nowhere on a New York Sidewalk. April May, the main character, puts up a video on Youtube about it, saying that it was a shame that no one was paying attention to this impressive art piece. She named it Carl and thought that would be the end of it.

By the next day, everyone was paying attention, because the Carl’s had shown up all over the world, all at the same time. And she was the first person to say anything about it online. For this reason, April May and her friend Andy become overnight celebrities.

As mankind starts investigating Carl, it becomes clear very soon that no one’s seen anything like this before. 

One of the things you realize right off the bat about this book is that the main character, April May, is a real person. She’s not always nice she’s often selfish and self-centered. She’s a mess, emotionally. And I love that. I love that she’s relatable. I love that. Not only because it makes her a much more entertaining and relatable character. But also because it kind of ties into the whole storyline. A lot of this book involves watching April May go from a very private person to the most well-known person in the world. So it’s a constant reminder that she’s a real person behind the celebrity.

I was impressed with Green regarding one aspect of April May’s character. She’s bisexual. Hank Green is, obviously, not a bisexual woman. I’m also not a bisexual woman. But I am a woman, and I think he did a great job writing a female character. He handled a sensitive situation well. 

Andy was also a well-written character. Though I’m pretty sure he’s basically the stand-in for Green. His mannerisms certainly reminded me of him.

Now, let’s talk about the closest thing this book would have to an antagonist, Peter Petrawicki. Let me tell you, I hate him. I hate him a lot. Possibly because he largely reminds me of Ben Shapiro. They’re both megalomaniac fear mongers who don’t care what happens to people so long as they’re inciting their base to buy their books. Both are responsible for encouraging others to violence, but neither is willing to take responsibility for their hand in things. And both of them made a large amount of money for writing books that are pretty much bullshit.

Is it clear that I don’t like Ben Shapiro? I hope so because I don’t. And I pictured his stupid little rat face every time I read about Peter. Basically, well done on this character. I really hate him.

Now, I do have to say that it took me a long time to get into this book. At first, it was largely about how April and Andy were dealing with this newfound celebrity status. That part drug on for a long time, to be honest. And I was bored to tears.

Until very suddenly, I wasn’t. I hate to ruin it for you, but there’s a distinct turning point in the story that grabbed me and did not let me go. So if you start reading this book and feel like it’s not your cup of tea, keep with it. Trust me, the ending is worth it.

As of right now, there’s no information on the sequel. But I can assure you, I’ll be on the lookout. And you’ll be the first to know.

Scary Stories the movie review

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen this movie yet, there are spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz is one of a long list of books I cherished as a child. Hell, I’m lying. I still read these damn books sometimes, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Pretty sure my whole generation was touched by this trilogy. The stories were great, I’ve got four or five of them memorized. But what made these books memorable, what dialed my little horror-loving heart up to eleven, was the artwork! Holy shit, this artwork, man. If you haven’t seen it, where the hell have you been? But here are some examples.ss book pic one

ss book pic two

Creepy, right? They’re the best.

Now, movies made of beloved books of my childhood are something that I try to not bring up in polite society. I tend to get angry, and then I tend to get foul-mouthed. Like, more than normal. And seeing as how I’ve managed to slip four curse words into the first paragraph of this post, and this is something that I’m writing professionally, that should tell you something. Do you know that meme about someone being five drinks in and using fuck like a comma? Yeah, that’s me when talking about The Chronicles of Narnia books.

But when I saw the first trailer for Scary Stories, I had high hopes. I felt sure that this movie was going to be epic because they got the most important thing right. They got the artwork perfect! Of course, that could mean nothing. Just because the effects guys were epic, that doesn’t mean the writers knew what they were doing. The actors might have been shitty. There were lots of things that could have gone wrong.

Now that I’ve finally managed to sit down and watch the movie in full, I can say that my worst fears were not realized, and my greatest dreams were dashed. Let’s get into why.

The good

Within seconds of the movie starting, the husband and I both said that this movie had a strong Stranger Things feel. It was in a similar time frame, similar casting. The whole thing just had kind of the same feel. To the point that we spent a lot of time making jokes about calling Hopper. He’d have taken the racist police chief to task. And boy, did that idiot need to be taken to task. More on that later. But the movie benefited from that Stranger Things feel.

Scary Stories and Stranger Things are both part of a group of horror fiction that I enjoy. Lots of scary, small amounts of gore, and everyone keeps their pants on! So it’s great for the kids who are old enough to handle some scary stuff and the occasional oh so repeatable swearword. But you don’t have to have any sort of Labyrinth type conversations with kids who’ve never seen a bulge, bare ass or anything like that. Another option, if you’ve got kids that age, are the Paranormal Activity movies. Monster House is another great one.

Scary stories HaroldProbably my favorite thing about this movie was that the design team brought the artwork to life and it wanted to kill people. Harold looked just how you’d expect Harold to look. Which is to say, scary as hell. You remember Harold, the vengeful scarecrow. He’s had a dark, seeping, terrifying place in my nightmares for most of my life. He’s back now, with some horrifying movements and sounds to work with. Yay?

Oh, and the Jenga Man! If you haven’t seen this movie yet, let me not spoil this moment that made me, a thirty-three-year-old woman, scream. If you’ve seen it, please leave a note in the comments and tell me if I’m the only grown-ass adult who was creeped right out of their skin by that thing.

While honestly not the best thing about the movie, the storyline wasn’t bad. It was better than I was expecting, but then my expectations were pretty low. It revolves around a child killer named Sara Bellows. Her family locked her away, and she told scary stories to the children of the town. Then she murdered them. At least, that’s how the story goes.

Our main characters find themselves locked in the house on Halloween night, after tricking a bully and running from his vengeance. There they find one of Sara’s books. Stella, the horror freak and writer, takes the book with her. Horror ensues when the book starts telling stories. Stories that come true. It’s not an original story, but it’s pretty good. Like I said, way better than I thought it would be.

The cast of characters was really good. I loved Stella, I was Stella as a child. Auggie and Chuck were the boys I wish I would have been friends with. Auggie was too smart for his good, and Chuck was funny as hell. And then there was Ramon. He was a remarkably well-written character. Every character seemed like a real kid this age. Which is refreshing.

Now, of course, I am a writer. I’m a storyteller. And that’s kind of a big thing about this movie. Stories have power. Words have power. And that’s my favorite thing ever.

Can I also point out that this story was set near Pittsburgh? And I think you all know how much I love my city. Also, not bragging, but Night of the Living Dead was filmed here. We are the home of zombies, just saying.

Hey, so let us talk about how they handled racism. Because they handled it well. The way the police harassed Ramon the whole movie is sadly realistic. And I want that to be a conversation that we’re having. Kids should have that conversation with their parents.

The bad.

Okay, I know I praised the storyline, and it was good. But I have to say that the antagonist’s reasons were pretty heavy-handed. I don’t want to get too much into it because spoilers. And I get it that this is a movie meant for children. That doesn’t in any way mean that we need to get beaten over the head with the moral of the story. Stories can have morals. I don’t mind morals. I can enjoy it. But I don’t need to be knocked the hell out.

Now, I hate to have to do this. But there was one thing that made me hate this movie. It was the last five minutes. The last five minutes were so damned rushed, so damned tossed together. There were so many questions, without any good answers. There’s nothing wrong with an open ending to a movie. There are lots of things wrong with feeling like I have no idea what the hell just happened.

Finally, look, I hate to be that guy. But war is, um, bad. And the Vietnam war was really bad. The people who were drafted into that war were treated as disposable and it’s a stain on our country’s history. I personally have known several men who were drafted and came back broken. A whole generation of our people was shattered. We owe them an apology. The last thing we need to do is brainwash another generation of young men into thinking that if they don’t go overseas to kill people they’re cowards. Our men and women of the armed forces are heroes, but there are other ways to be a hero. Standing up for peace is heroic too. Just saying.

That’s about it. I recommend Scary Stories, I don’t care how old you are. I loved almost every minute of this movie, except for the last five.

By the way, I wanted to let you know that a lot of things ended this last week. American Horror Story, Limetown of course. And I finally finished An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. So, stay tuned for those.

Winter sucks! Here’s six new ways to survive for 2019/2020

November always manages to kick my ass. Nanowrimo and the holidays combine and call upon the force of seasonal depression to kick my ass. And every year I learn new things to help keep the winter feels away. I’ve embraced Hygge, focused on meditation, started taking a D vitamin and an antidepressant prescribed by my doctor. All those things totally help. But, I’m always learning and always growing. And today I’m sharing six things I’m doing to keep my life and mind in a good place this winter. And, really, all year round.

The Alistair method

I just found this new way to do a weekly spread in my bullet journal from this BohoBerry video. If you haven’t heard of this, check out the video. I can’t tell you how much better this makes me feel. Instead of looking at a whole week’s worth of activities, I can see just what I need to do each day. It also allows me to write things I need to do as they come to my brain, and still prioritize my actions by day. I’m also able to realize if I’m heaping way too much on one day. Which I have a bad habit of doing.

So many plants!

Last winter, I bought a cactus. Then, I bought a few more. Now I have basil, lavender, three aloes, my original cactus, and a pot of something that I didn’t mean to grow, but I’ll be damned if I’ll kill it now. I also have some moss on a rock that just seemed to want to come home with me. I’m hoping to grow peppermint and sage soon.

Bringing green life into my house is something I’ve struggled with. Focusing on plants that seem to not want to, you know, die at the slightest provocation, has helped.

Learning new things

I mean, I’m always learning new things. But it helps me in the winter to have something new and shiny to put in my brain. On the worst day, I have something to look forward to. I’ve been learning about reading tarot, that’s been fun. I’m also taking a ton of classes on Futurelearn. Always, learning, always growing. That’s the secret to being excited about every day. Well, that and coffee.

Chore charts

Yeah, that’s right. A chore chart. Just like when you were a kid. I’ve developed a chore chart based heavily on what I learned about myself and my needs while going through the Flylady’s 30-day course. I know what I need to do to keep control of my house, and what I’m capable of doing every day.

Why is this important? It’s not because I’m someone who requires a clean and orderly house to rest my weary head. It’s because once my house gets to a certain level of insanity, I become like a deer in the headlights. I can’t move, can’t think of what to do. I also can’t relax or even make a cup of tea in peace. Spending fifteen to thirty minutes a day to keep my house in order helps keep me sane.

And for those of you rebelling, that it doesn’t matter what your house looks like, listen. I deserve to have a clean home for me. You do too. It’s not for your mom, your roommate, your spouse. It is for you.

Focusing on therapeutic yoga in the morning

My upper back’s been killing me recently. Not sure why yet. Probably that I’ve been sitting at desks too often and I’m getting to an age where my body’s just not down for that. But, whatever it is, I’ve been doing this yoga sequence to help. And let me tell you, it has. It has.

No matter how busy I am in the morning, I fit in this yoga sequence. Because pain is the teacher the Universe resorts to if you won’t listen to any other. If you’re not in any overall pain, start taking measures to keep it that way right now. Don’t let yourself get to a place where you’re in tears just sitting at your desk at work.

Cooking things from scratch

I didn’t grow up in a family that did a lot of cooking from scratch. About the only thing we ever made that didn’t include a box or can of something pre-made were chocolate chip cookies. And even for that, we used the instructions on the back of the chocolate chip bag.

But I’ve started getting into this. I’ve become one of those people that have both baking soda and baking powder in my house and using each regularly. I’ve learned to make scones, several kinds of cookies, Irish soda bread, beef wellington, and a ton of other things. As I’ve gotten into this, I can see how it’s an art form that I can use to perk myself up. On a cold grey day that discourages me from going outside, I can whip up a loaf of bread or some scones. I can make some rice pudding if I’m really needing some self-love.

So that’s it. I’m hoping that this will be a great winter with these new tools at my disposal. But I’m always looking for new ways to grow. What do you do to keep the winter blues away? Let us know in the comments below.

Your yearly holiday reminder

It’s that time again. Today is November first, which means Nanowrimo, and the start of the holiday season. Well, as far as I’m concerned the holiday season never really ends. There’s always something to celebrate.

I understand that for some of you, that’s a terrifying theory. That’s because a lot of people take the holidays way too seriously.

Every year I write a blog post about this and I swear I’m going to do it every single year. #Sorrynotsorry because everyone needs to hear this over and over again until we all internalize it and believe it.

I know I do.

The holidays, all of them, are only what we make of them. They are as flexible and fluid as you allow them to be. There should be absolutely no pressure on your shoulders whatsoever to have the perfect holiday. Because what the perfect holiday looks like is a different thing to everyone!

That’s it, that’s all! You don’t owe your family a Currier and Ives Christmas. You owe them a happy you. And you owe that to yourself, too. Now, all that being said, I do love holiday. I celebrate a lot in December, including Christmas, Yule, my beloved husband’s birthday, anNew Year. I do this by following one very simple rule, ruthlessly.

I only do things for the holidays that my family and I actually want to do. 

I love decorating the house, but by that, I mean putting up like four decorations, including my Charlie Brown replica tree.

I love baking, but everyone in the house is either diabetic or has cholesterol issues, so I save that for the specific holidays. We don’t have a cookie platter.

I love buying gifts, but I love making them more. 

Of course, what I love best about the holidays is enjoying a glass of mulled wine while I read A Christmas Carol. My family and I love best watching movies, so we’ve got a whole list of our favorites to get through. I love special teas and holiday coffees. I love seeing good friends and exchanging gifts on Yule. 

The trick is, I don’t do have to’s. I don’t have anything that I have to do. I have things that I want to do. I want to get up early to write. I want to go to work so I can pay my bills and buy ice cream for my dog. I want to do everything I do in a day, even if I don’t enjoy it. I don’t love cleaning the cat box, or sweeping off the back porch or going to work. I do love having a healthy cat, a clean porch and, you know, food.

But I do love the holidays. I allow myself space and time to love them. Because life is too damn short not to.

Happy holidays. 

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