Books and Movies, Musings, Pictures, Poet Among Other Things

Hello, It’s Mz. Hyde

Better be scared, better be afraid,
Now that the beast is out of her cage

It’s not clean. They aren’t family friendly in the least. Most of the songs are about sex, whether explicitly or implicitly. The lyrics are full of obscenities. But there’s more to it than that. Sometimes you have to look past the obvious to see the true meaning of art.

One of my current favorite bands is Halestorm. I discovered and promptly fell in love with Lzzy Hale’s voice last year when she sang Lindsey Stirling’s Shatter Me. She has this powerful, gravely, but somehow still smooth voice that I haven’t found anywhere else. The band’s lyrics bothered me for a while. Stuff like, “I miss the bad things, the way you hate me, I miss the screaming, the way that you blame me.” This isn’t a healthy relationship. That song, and others, talk about rough break up sex and other “questionable activities”. But there’s an underlying theme, even in the most sexually charged songs.

But I won’t run
I’m not afraid
I’ll look em in the eye
Gonna hear me say
It’s
My life
My love
My sex
My drug
My lust
My god it ain’t no sin
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen
My grace
My church
My pain
My tears
My hurt
My god, I’ll say it again
Can I get it
Can I get an Amen

Much of Halestorm’s music is about accepting yourself and not giving a damn what others think of you. Having grown up in an environment where even my body wasn’t my own, this is something I’m having to learn in my 20s. I’m learning to own my identity, my beliefs, and my past. “I Miss the Misery,” mentioned above, is about getting out of an abusive relationship, and the twisted reality of missing the pain. While I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, I still strongly relate to the notion of missing abuse. Life is much simpler as a robot without a soul. There are times when all I want is to be back in the culture where I was manipulated, controlled and brainwashed. I’m free now. And I’m working on freeing my mind. I’m making new friends who are more diverse and accepting. I’ve learned a lot from them; like the fact that it’s ok to have very different styles from day to day.

CAM01920[1]Hello it’s Mz. Hyde!CAM01913[1]

I can be the bitch,
I can play the whore,
Or your fairytale princess, who could ask for more?

This deeply bothers a lot people. When you present your self in different ways every day, it confuses them. “I had you pinned as a nerd! What are you doing wearing Birkenstocks and a flower chain? How do I fix your obvious lack of connection to reality when you are dancing barefoot through the forest?” They don’t like to have to think about who you are more than once: the first time they meet you and make a snap judgement. After that, they like to be able to worry about correcting what they saw wrong with you.

When I first wore a black leather vest to school several people asked why I was dressed like a biker. I told them I was dressed like me, how I felt that day. I love this outfit. The tight leather vest, single dangling earring, and black ankle boots make me feel confident and daring. Some days I feel like visually representing the dragon part of me.

But there’s a lot more to me than black clothes and leather, and sometimes I feel like visually representing that side of me. I love my pink stripey tank top, knee high star socks and light grey converse. People are usually amused by this outfit. There are several colors and patterns going on at once. It makes me feel fun and quirky. I wear that on pegasus days.

Bands have songs. Good bands have lots of different songs. One may be about feeling good about yourself and another may be about having the worst day ever, but it’s the same band. People are like that too. They may look and act one way some days and be very different others, but they’re the same person. If you pay attention and get to know them you’ll probably find that those differences are actually kind of similar. My two outfits for instance. One is a dragon and the other is a pegasus. One has skin and scales and the other has fur and feathers, but both creatures have wings. Both are me. I’m also me when I just wear a t-shirt and jeans. Some day I may find another creature that suits me also, and I may eventually not identify with any of them. I’m learning to love and accept this about myself and my new friends. Maybe that makes us freaks, but we’re in good company, and I bet we’re happier than you.

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
You were born to burn,
This is no disease you don’t need a cure!
It’s our time now to come out!

If you’re a freak like me
Are you a freak like me?

Books and Movies, Musings, Poet Among Other Things

Saying “No” Isn’t Weak

Volumes of Rows is the only story I’ve ever finished, and I only finished it because it had to get out of my head. I came up with it as I was shelving in the library one day. Have you ever compressed a stack of paper and then let it go really fast? It makes this ominous creak that almost sounds like breathing. Now, our library isn’t all that large, so I knew I was nearly always in sight of the circulation desk, were something to happen. But what if I was alone? What if that creak actually was the books coming to life, but since someone can always see them, they can’t move? I came home that day and wrote down what played out in my head. The next week I had a gut check when I noticed that someone had left the large quilt book out.

After I finished trying to trip my sister, Meg, as she was learning to walk, I decided to torture her by other means. I attempted to convince her that aliens were going to come in our nearly two story high window, turn her brains to oatmeal and eat them with a straw. Now Meg, being very level headed and logical, had no reason to believe in aliens. I, on the other hand… have always had a very vivid imagination. I convinced myself of what I failed to convince my sister.

LimitsFor the past two years I have spent the weekends of October working at a corn maze. If you’ve ever been to a corn maze, you probably realise that there is a lot more to the attraction than a maze of maize. This particular maze features several rides and playthings, including a fairly tall zip-line. This year I worked the top of the line. I will admit, I wouldn’t have ridden this thing when I was little. I’ve never liked heights. As you can probably imagine, there were a lot of kids who would take one look and opt for the much shorter version. Most of the time the parents would suggest that they try the big line anyway. I loved it when a child who was scared at first grew to love the ride. You enjoy something so much more when you work for it. Seeing children overcoming obstacles is one of my favorite things. There’s a nearly visible shine on their faces.

Then there were the Shamers. The parents who would say some variation of “Don’t be a baby,” “He’s braver than you are,” or “Don’t be a sissy.” Some of these kids would eventually give in to their parents jeering. But some didn’t, and I applaud them all. The ones who did try because they faced their fears and the ones who didn’t because they took a stand. They didn’t give into name calling and pressuring. They ruled themselves and made their own decisions, even when those decisions weren’t popular. They set limits they were comfortable with. They had the strength to say “no.” Of course, they may later regret not riding. But, that’s part of growing up and making choices. You can allow yourself to be haunted by the Might’aves and the Should’aves, or you can learn from the experience.

My mind can be an eerie place. Because of this I have to be careful about reading or watching paranormal sci-fi or horror. If I give it the wrong encouragement, my imagination will run rampant and I can quickly lose control. There are times when I prefer movies to books, simply because my mind isn’t confined to a screen like a film is. I miss out on some things because I don’t enjoy certain types of entertainment. But I’m ok with that. To live a healthy life, you have to recognise your limits.

Books and Movies, Camp, Musings, Poet Among Other Things

Filling Journals

I’ve had journals since– I don’t remember not having journals. Sure, the entries were about 20 words long and illustrated because I couldn’t read for so long, but I had things to say, even when I couldn’t articulate, let alone spell them. I look back on some of those rudimentary scribblings and laugh. If they weren’t so old they’d be embarrassing. e678b832b693eac8bcb557b690cce3d8But even though I couldn’t write down how I really felt, and often didn’t actually know, I wrote enough to trigger memories. There’s one journal that Dad gave me around the time he was deployed overseas. It’s just about the ugliest shade of green, that one that is evidently the only dye color the military has, so I quickly took my crayons to it and made it mine. Our basement flooded a few years ago and it was barely saved. But on one of the pages, that has been threatening to fall out for years now, are a few words about how my day was ruined because Wendy’s messed up my baked potato, complete with a picture of how the spud should have looked. I remember that day. We had just been visiting one of mom’s friends and I was overwhelmed with the cares of being 9. It was the last straw. Either mom was pregnant with Adam or Dad had just left, but I was an emotional wreck and I couldn’t show it, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t draw, and now my lunch was a travesty.

I have another journal that my then best friend’s mom gave me. It has a picture of us in the front. Little, tiny, 7 year old us. This one is blue with vines, a picture window on the cover and a ribbon bookmark with a heart lock charm on the end. The one that I simply cannot remember not having is my Winnie the Pooh locking diary.

I used those two off and on the most, since the military surplus one was ruined, but I’ve yet to fill a journal. I’ve filled plenty of random notebooks with sketches of rooms and beginnings of stories, but I’ve never written my soul from cover to cover. That’s what a journal is. The soul on paper. Whether it means what it says or is just a symptom of the true condition is for the reader, usually your older self, to decide.

But that trend is about to change. 4980f05fdb74af85e118941df03bd15f

I have six pages left. I really don’t know what to do with myself. It feels as if my filling of that last page will end something in my life. I got this journal 2 years ago when I was a finalist in the library’s poetry contest. It was the year that Meg was also a finalist and Claire was the Honorable Mention. I didn’t win anything, but it was my last year of eligibility. I graduated high school right after that, and then started writing in the little book at Camp that summer. Only first few pages actually bare the thoughts of a baby counselor, as I quickly got too busy to write. Instead, it chronicles the heartache of a life turned rightside up. Learning to accept my PCOS, giving myself permission to live, embracing my gifts. It’s all in there. It hurts to go back and read who I thought I had to be. But the closer I get to the end, the less it hurts and the more it is beautiful. Most of my “poems” are actually journal entries, written as I’m falling asleep. They are raw Annie. What she sees with her eyes, but also with her heart. Moonshadows. Will-o-the-wisps. Dew laden blades of grass.

The closing of my little book coincides with the closing of my first semester of college. I never thought I’d go to school past what was required. I had no need to. I began the journal feeling broken and purposeless. I close it happier, more full of life, and whole. You don’t come through a chapter like that without scars. But scars fade. They remind you who you are.

Books and Movies, Musings

In Your Face Subtlety

I came across this graphic on Pinterest the other day. I pin a lot of writing things, so Pinterest has decided to just throw random writing pins on my feed. I’m fine with that; I find a lot of really good ideas that way. Some of my favorites are ones like this. But I don’t like this one for some reason. Maybe it’s that I don’t care for the color/texture/font combination, but it got me thinking.1bcf9b2f6f7c4c407f83f266d6db3345

I couldn’t read independently until I was about 10. Before that I “read” my dad’s college anatomy textbooks for fun. There were lots of pictures and I could understand what they meant without the use of words. Once I learned to read, I quickly jumped to junior high level books, then to high school. By the time I was 13 I was reading on a college level. But my “reading” of reference books didn’t end when I started actually reading. I remember the day I got my first pocket thesaurus. I was ecstatic. I soon got a pocket spelling dictionary as well. Both books were essentially just lists of words, but they were my lists of words. If I found one I didn’t know, I would ask mom or dad what it meant. It was a rare occasion that they actually just told me what the dumb word meant. Generally they would direct me to the enormous, red, college dictionary. This pretty much drove me up the wall. For one thing, it’s heavy as all get out (and about 4 inches wide.) But I also nearly always got distracted and started reading other entries before even finding the word I was initially looking for (if I ever got there.) While this was infuriating at the time, I learned a lot of new words and how to alphabetize, from this practice.

So if I spend hours searching for the right word in a dictionary or thesaurus (now with the help of thesaurus.com), why don’t I like this graphic? Well, it’s not exactly this specific graphic. It’s an idea behind it. Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is one of my favorite movies. It is about growing up, but never growing old. It is about living life to the fullest. It is about following your dreams and chasing your own star. It’s about beginnings. But it’s also about endings. In fact, the whole plot of this beautifully whimsical movie, when you actually look at it, is about Mr Magorium’s death. You see, he found a little store and fell completely in love with a certain pair of shoes, so he bought enough to last his entire lifetime. And his last pair is just about worn through.2dd8c74b2a81503c1a26666b97e5c3b6

When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words.

I think this is something we as writers often forget. Sometimes you don’t need a grand description or a flowery word. Sometimes the most accurate word is the most simple. The phrase that subtly states a simple fact, but makes the reader think. It reminds me of the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. Scholars and theologians have spent innumerable hours trying to figure out what this means. It just means He cried, but there is so much more to it than a bodily fluid draining out of a gland in His eyes. It shows humanity.

I once found a graphic that said, “How the teacher interpreted the text: The blue curtains symbolise the protagonists sorrow. The author’s real reason: Blue’s a nice color.” Sometimes details don’t matter as much so you write them simply. Sometimes details matter so much that you write them simply. Sometimes subtlety makes a stronger point than grandiose description.

Books and Movies, Musings

This Is Real Life, And It Is An Epic

Every heart has a story to tell
Some dreams have wings, some are torn at the seams
and just sit there on the shelf
If you were to walk in my shoes
You’d see we are all the same
So find the love inside yourself
Cause every heart has a story to tell
This is my heart
This is my story to tell

I really love Pandora. I have found two of my favorite songs by using it. This is the chorus of Every Heart, and it perfectly exemplifies something that’s been rolling around in my brain for a while. I touched on it several months ago, but I think this is an idea that warrants a closer look.

Stories are incredibly powerful things, and I’m not really sure how to describe them. What *is* a story? If pressed for a short answer, I would say it’s a string of related thoughts having to do with and describing an event. But they are so much more than that. They are life. I don’t just mean stories from 10660227_730463573675003_2572696761722264010_nhistory either. But my life is nothing like a storybook. It’s boring. All I do is go to work, eat, and hang out at home. Stop. I mean it. That is no way to talk about an epic masterpiece.

What do you look for in a strong character? You look for complexity, depth, emotion. You look for things that make it real. To the characters in stories, their world is just as real to them as ours is to us. You sit in McDonalds and drink a Dr. Pepper. They sit in an inn and drink a pint (“They come in pints?”) It’s kind of like what I say about the news. Just because something bad is reported on tv doesn’t mean it is a common thing. In fact, if it were common, it wouldn’t be worth noting. [Note: This isn’t strictly true, especially in cases regarding social justice issues.  I’m referring to things like buildings collapsing or people finding anacondas in their bathrooms.] Stories don’t often dwell on the mundane parts of a character’s life. They skim over the irellevent stuff and focus on the important details. We have the luxury of seeing only the good bits. The character doesn’t get that. They have to work their way through life, and they don’t know the outcome. Just like us. They don’t know which details are the important ones, they can make a guess, but there’s no way to know for sure. Just like us. 

But what’s the point of telling your story if you don’t know where it’s going to end? What’s the point of waiting? Do you read the last page of a book before you even begin reading the first chapter? I used to think that my story was boring. I grew up in a fairly normal family. Nothing exceptionally tragic has ever happened. But two things happen when you begin telling your tale.

You find out what makes you special. If you never talk about your life with other people, they can’t give you feedback and tell you how weird you are. I knew having 5 siblings wasn’t normal, but I didn’t know living in 5 different states was remarkable. My dad was in the military, moving was normal until I talked to people who had lived in the same state, same town, or even the same house, their entire lives. 

 You find out that you are not alone. Whatever you think may make you an outcast, or unloveable, or weird, someone else is dealing with too. But until you start talking and opening up, both of you will think you are the only person that feels that way. This is why we have fandoms. If we didn’t talk about loving Firefly, we would think we were the only ones obsessing over a bunch of space cowboys. If we didn’t talk about the damage that fundamentalist mindsets do, people would keep getting hurt by them and think they were the ones in the wrong. But since we talk about it, we can find each other.

When you look at your life as a story, it’s easier to see personal progress. As I said in A Bubbling Brook, a well written character changes. You may not catch it, change often happens gradually. There isn’t always an ultimatum.  Just like in a story, you notice those in real life. That sudden instant of realization. Sure, these moments may be turning points, but you don’t just turn without preparing. If you did that while driving, you’d flip the car. If you do that while singing, your voice will probably crack. Without your consent or knowledge, your life so far is leading up to something. Don’t speak disparagingly about what will be your success story. 

Books and Movies, Musings

More Than Just Books

“I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry. Don’t cry. You won’t be able to stop. Don’t start.”

It seems like lately I’ve walked into many places thinking this. I get anxious before tests and decision making, two things I have been doing quite a bit lately. But I don’t often leave a place with this running through my head. There was no crushing medical diagnosis. No loss of a much needed job. No one died. You may laugh, but I was leaving the library. I’ve been volunteering there for over a year now, and this afternoon was probably my last day. I’m starting college next week.

When I told the children’s librarian that this was my last day she smiled and said “Well, I guess I knew you would get a life some day.” But I didn’t work at the library because I didn’t have a life. I worked there because I loved it,library and it was part of my life. It was a hard year for me. I was figuring out life. Who I am. I was hard on myself, even cruel at times. My future went from set and definite to this current state of flux and uncertainty I’m in now. But no matter how rough of a week I was having, or how tired I was, every week I would have the library. Two hours when it didn’t matter what else I did with my life. All that mattered was that J comes before K and 4 comes before 5. It reminds me of in A Wrinkle in Time how Meg goes through the multiplication tables to calm down, because it is steady and unchanging. Alphabetizing and shelving books is the same for me. There’s nothing trivial about it, Bab goes before Bac, and when it feels like your world is doing backflips, that is a very comforting thought.

When the branch manager heard that I was going to school she said “Isn’t this enough education for you?” We all laughed, but I learned so much in those two hours a week. I’ve never really kept any kind of job that wasn’t super flexible for a very long time. Even though I could tell them I couldn’t come one week or that I needed to change from Friday to Thursday, I was still expected on a certain day, at a certain time, unless otherwise specified. I took debate and bible quiz, but those were both things that I did in school and I couldn’t change the time that classes and meetings were. Volunteering was the first thing I did where I was in charge of deciding I was going to do something, and then do it. It sounds weird, but I kind of learned how to adult. I was expected to be grown up. I was expected to not make a mistake. I was expected to straighten up other people’s mistakes when I noticed them. I learned that I can be liked by people who don’t have to like me. Maybe these are both odd things to learn from working for free at a library, but that’s where I learned them.

I can’t believe I’m starting school on Monday. It will be an adventure unlike any I’ve ever taken. I’ve traveled alone all over the country. I’ve witnessed firsthand the birth of 3 of my siblings. I’ve been pseudo-mom to around 20 girls. Getting up in the morning, driving, sitting through classes of more than 10 people, studying, and interacting with people I’m not related to on a daily basis. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle this, but I bet I’ll end up back at the library.

Books and Movies, Musings

Read It And Weep

I talk about books all the time. We know this by now, I hope. Honestly though, if you think it is bad online, you should see me in person. Sometimes, if there is a really awkward silence, I will just randomly ask someone if they have read A Wrinkle In Time. But I haven’t always had this relationship with words.

I’ve never been tested, but I’m positive I have some sort of learning disability, and possibly a bit of dyslexia. I didn’t read independently until I was about 9 or 10 years old. Mom did everything “right”. We had books everywhere. She read to me. I knew my alphabet. Heck, in college she majored in journalism and Dad majored in history. There was no lack of joanofarcexposure to books of all kinds. Mom started working with me when I was about 6, but it just frustrated me. We played the phonics game, read the Bob books, and all kinds of variations of the two. I remember her writing out the words of a Bob book on 4×6 index cards one word at a time because those three words were too overwhelming.

She was incredibly patient. Eventually, she just left me alone. The books were still there. She would still read to my younger sisters, but didn’t force me to join. Every once in a while we’d work on it again, but for the most part, Mom just let me be. And that is when it clicked. I remember distinctly. One day I opened up the Dorling Kindersley reader version of Joan of Arc, and I just read it. I was kind of surprised, but I just read. Soon after that I started writing poetry, and jumped straight to thick chapter books (A Wrinkle In Time being my first favorite.)

This is how school always was for me. Mom would sweat over it for a little while, try to teach me, but in the end, I learned on my own, on my own time. Not during a set school time. Not with a set school book. Not with a set teaching tool or lesson plan. She figured this out, and pretty much left me alone. We were talking about it a few weeks ago after I got back some test scores, and I really only did about 3 years worth of actual schoolwork in those 12 years I was “in school”. And yet, I’ve never really gotten what you would call “bad marks” when I’ve tested.

So, to the moms who are stressing out over their kid’s academics, don’t. Sometimes they don’t need a different curriculum or a more strict lesson plan. Sometimes they just need space. Your child is learning about life, maybe they need that more than multiplication right now. Keep the books around, but don’t push them. And for all that is good and decent, do not take away the fun. Let them play. Playing is learning how to live. Books will come later. You are doing a great job. Just keep loving your child and getting to know them.