Is ‘Eternal Sunshine’ hopeful or depressing? Or both?


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Spoilers follow. But the movie’s 12 years old so … come on.

I am not lukewarm on much. In general, something is the greatest thing on the planet, or it is the very worst thing I’ve ever encountered.

This is especially true with movies. Up until Sunday afternoon, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” was on my Worst Movie Ever list.

Which has always been strange to me. People seem to love that movie. I’m not sure I’d ever know someone else to dislike it.

But it did nothing for me. My major issue was, I felt, the lack of character development. I simply did not care about Joel and Clementine’s relationship; and by not caring about it, I didn’t root for them; and by not rooting for them, I had absolutely no stake in the end of the movie.

Sunday, I gave it another try. Sunday, I realized I was an idiot.

Because “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a damn incredible flick. (Welcome to the party, Jaclyn. You’re late.)

I love that Joel and Clem are flawed, and I root for them to figure it out. I root for them to outrun the memory wiping. I root for them to ignore the obvious signs that they have no business dating. I cheer when they decide, in fact, to ignore the forgotten audio tapings that list the other’s fatal flaws and massive deal breakers.

The movie has been on the back of my mind for the last day or so, and I can’t figure something out: Is the ending hopeful? On the surface, it is, absolutely. They’re going to try again. They may very well fail. But that inexplicable something that draws us to another is so strong, they decide to follow that instead of listening to reason.

It’s rosy, and it’s romantic. And it’d have never been possible without Dr. M’s magic memory machine.

So the machine that helps the lovers forget is also responsible for those lovers’ eventual heart re-break. Because you know: These two cannot be together. So they’re going to go through all the bad stuff again.

Which is dire, and depressing.

My brain hurts.

(Any Eternal Sunshine lovers out there, please weigh in: What do you love about it? Is the ending hopefully depressing or depressingly hopeful?)

Some Neil Gaiman ‘Neverwhere’ love


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So the day became one of waiting, which was, he knew, a sin: moments were to be experienced; waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come and the moments one was currently disregarding.” ~Neil Gaiman, “Neverwhere

This is my fourth foray into a Gaiman book, and each time, I am amazed at the man’s creativity and storytelling ability. I stayed up way too late last night because of one of those can’t-put-the-book-down-right-now scenes, which, honestly, hasn’t happened to me in ages.

The scene started with the above quote, one I read three or four times because of its perfect sentiment. I try my best to live in the moment, and mostly, I succeed. But it’s so easy to look forward to exciting weekends or fun trips and lose the day-in and day-out’edness. Just because it doesn’t look like a weekday has anything special in it doesn’t mean there is nothing special about it.

I’ll end this short ponderance with a similar reference from one of my favorite movies, “About Time.”

And so he told me his secret formula for happiness: Part one of the two-part plan was that I should just get on with ordinary life, living it day by day, like anyone else. But then came part two of Dad’s plan. He told me to live every day again almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing. Okay, Dad. Let’s give it a go.” ~Richard Curtis, “About Time

Some sweet time with a niece, the little model


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(If you don’t read the snippet of words, go ahead and scroll down to the photos–that’s the real point!)

I had a really spectacular weekend this past weekend. So, so many highlights.

One of them occurred Sunday morning. My parents-in-law had a full house, and I was the first one awake. I took my book and sat on the porch.

Fifteen minutes later, my niece Kate, the second person awake, tiptoed outside and joined me. We said good morning, and she got really quiet and just looked around the backyard (it’s a gorgeous backyard–huge deck, pool, a ton of trees behind which flows the St. Joe River). I kept reading and kept peeking at her, surprised she was so completely content to sit in silence.

Another 15 minutes later, we both started giggling: Somewhere in the trees, someone was playing a trumpet. Not a song–just odd bursts of notes. The strangest wake-up call I’ve ever heard and not what you expect to come out of the woods at 10 a.m.

We spent the next 20 minutes talking about her school, music class, how excited she is to learn to play the recorder, how neat it was to see the group of turkeys moseying about in the field on the side of the house.

When Jeff and I left later that day, in the car, Jeff commented on the long hug Kate gave me when we left.

In short: I adore this girl. And then I get on Facebook this morning and see that she posed for a local photog’s business. LOOK AT THIS LITTLE GEM.

That is all.

For anyone based around Indianapolis, the brilliant photog behind these images is Amanda Matthews. Check her out on Facebook.


Kate the Great. By Amanda Matthews Photography

It’s time to bitch about jeans


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I am of the impression that there is no such thing has a closet with too many jeans. That’s why I find it to be an atrocity that I have exactly three pairs of jeans right now that fit me.

The reasoning is not a bad one. It’s, in fact, a very good one: Over the summer, I have lost just shy of 20 pounds, and now, I can gently tug on all of my favorite jeans and pull them off without unbuttoning them. This is not good.

So I took my slimmer ass to Marshall’s yesterday to find some new jeans. I tried on 21 pairs of jeans. (Seriously, I counted.) And I wanted to throw each and every pair of them in the mud and throw a toddler-sized tantrum.

As if you didn’t know: This is why jeans shopping in 2016 sucks the big one:

  1. Stretchy jeans. I don’t want them anymore. I have two pairs (in fact, they’re two of the three that still fit), and they wear like leggings. Fine. But I want real jeans. Made of denim. That are thick, and soft, and boot cut. Because, for the love of god, enough with …
  2. Skinny jeans. I’m over them. I miss that don’t hug my ankle like a koala. Straight leg is fine, but give me a flare already, would you.
  3. Gapping. Ah, the bane of my existence. I forgot this used to be a problem–when I gained my weight, this issue went away, and it was magical. But now, I’m back to the proportions I’ve lived with most of my life: Bigger thighs, smaller waist, bubble butt. Which is to say: My thighs and heinie are about a size 10. My waist is about a size 6. I compromise with an 8, but sometimes, the legs are too damn tight and the waist gaps open in the back enough that I can shove two fists down the back. This is never flattering. Ever.
  4. “Curvy” jeans that are not curvy. The solution to point No. 3 is to buy curvy jeans. They are (supposedly) made for women with, yes, curves. They are supposed to enhance a bubble butt and hug a smaller waist. A few weeks back, Target had a 40 percent off all jeans sale, so I got a measuring tape, figured out my waist is about 30 inches, matched that to Target’s online size guide, and bought three pairs of size 10 curvy jeans. Those bastards are lying liars who tell lies. Each of those three “curvy” jeans listed a waist measurement that should have fit me like a glove. Instead, it was problem No. 3 over and over again. Which is all to say that …
  5. Jean companies that lie. I tried on one pair of 28-inch waist jeans yesterday that gave me some gapping … despite the fact that my waist is two inches larger than this measurement. WHO IS MAKING THESE PANTS? I also tried on at least one pair of size 10s that could barely fit over my thighs.

These complaints are not new, I know. I don’t know a single woman who enjoys shopping for jeans, who doesn’t take some umbrage with the ridiculous sizing.

But damn, man. #CanIJustWearNightgownsEverywhere?

Don’t leave me, summertime: A forced ode to September


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Back in May, my friend Emma and I sat on her front porch and did something very important: We wrote out our summer bucket lists.

That, apparently, was more than three months ago. I am unsure how that happened.

Sept. 1 typically leaves me feeling a little melancholy. I love summer, and not just the obvious things that everyone loves about it. Yes, swimming is delightful, as are a post-9 p.m. sunset, boats, and cooking wiener-shaped meats over a fire. But even that oppressive heat that makes you feel faint–I love it. That rush of thick air that hits you when you slide into a car that has been parked in the sun for eight hours–I love it.

So yeah. I’m bummed today.

Ever the optimist, I’m reminding myself why I shouldn’t be bummed. Here are things I have to look forward to over the coming month:

  • September fashion issues! Those impossibly thick magazines are my favorite of the year.
  • So many wonderful to-dos this month. Seriously, September is going to be the month of No Rest: Next weekend, my husband and I are doing a mini weekend getaway in Michigan.
  • The following weekend, a dear friend I haven’t seen in 3 1/2 years is coming to visit.
  • The next weekend, my parents are visiting for my dad’s 60th birthday.
  • Then October will bring with it an extra long weekend family vacation to DC with my in-laws, another visit with a darling friend, and a murder mystery dinner.

I won’t get much sleep, sure. But it should be a good month and a half for making this soul feel loved.

I’ll conclude with my favoritest end-of-summer song.

The summer’s over. This town is closing. They’re waving people out of the ocean. We have the feeling like we were floating. We never noticed where time was going.

My favorite TV shows, or: How I realized I might be a TV junkie


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Last week, I may or may not have marked my calendar with the start dates of every fall show I watch. Because, apparently, I am obsessed with television.

OK, it’s not a clinical obsession. But over the years, storytelling on TV has gotten so dang good that I can’t help but get excited for more.

After reading Greatest Escapist’s top favorite shows of all time, I decided to shamelessly steal her blog post idea and come up with my top 10 favorite shows of all time. (Sorry ’bout that, Kate. And thank you!!)

10. Orange is the New Black–It has one of the world’s best ensemble casts, a notation often lost to the likes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. The “girl power!” shouter in me adores that it gives meaty, interesting roles to women otherwise lost in TV land. And I love the invisible line between who is “good” and who is “bad,” a line I’d argue that Caputo walks brilliantly.

Litchfield’s best inmate. I don’t want to talk about it.

9. Roseanne–I watched this show religiously as a kid, and when I find reruns, I’m always amazed at how much it holds up. I mean … just look at that cast. Love her or hate her, Roseanne is a perfect, bitchy, loving mother. John Goodman is John Goodman. Aunt Jackie should have won a frickin’ Tony Award this year. Plus, the family encounters legit, real issues (let’s not talk about that final season, ‘k?) Dan and Roseanne’s constant battle with themselves to merge the crazy kids of their youth with the responsible parents they become is the show’s best conflict. And their Halloween episodes are my absolute favorite themed TV episodes.

Click on the pics to zoom.

8. Friends–Let’s be honest: I’m floored this isn’t higher on the list. It goes to show how much wonderful stories are being told out there. I was the prime age to be a Friends-o-phobe, and I have very distinct memories of it, including freshman year of college, where every single girl on the second floor of Humphrey Hall watched with their doors open, and when we learned that Ross was the father, every single girl on the second floor of Humphrey Hall screamed.

The One Where No One’s Ready, or: The single best episode of Friends. Could I BE wearing any more clothes?

7. Sex and the City–True confession: I hated this show when I first saw it. I didn’t get the appeal. Maybe because I was a virgin, I dunno. But this is one of the few shows on this list I could happily spend an entire evening watching. Each character is too much, but together, they’re all of us (except maybe Charlotte–I don’t think any of those women would actually like her). While I could never be as free with myself as Samantha, I think she’s about the best possible role model: strong but soft, successful, and the very best friend.

6. Game of Thrones–I do not like to judge people for their tastes. We should never be made to feel guilty about what we like. However, there is a contingency out there who refuse to watch this show. To them I say: Stop being stupid. “But I don’t like fantasy.” “It’s too rapey.” “There are too many characters.” Blah, blech, and blarg. GoT is storytelling and suspense at its finest. Nothing happens for no reason. The simple plotting such a detailed storyline requires, it’s completely fascinating. (And if you’ve watched it and don’t like it, two thumbs up. It’s that weird “I’m cool because I’ve never seen an episode of X popular thing” thing I don’t understand.)

Sir Davos, the savior or Westeros. (Or simply … my favorite character in a slew of A+ characters. Anytime he’s in peril, my husband all but smothers me with pillows to get me to stop muttering, “Anyone but Davos, anyone but Davos, anyone but Davos.”)

5. The Big Bang Theory–I love a show that focuses on nerds. I love how much science and physics and math is the draw, and I love how the writers make it all work, even though they know their audience probably has no idea what they’re talking about. I love that Penny unwittingly teaches the nerds how to be social, and I love how that favor is returned, showing her the value is being bright. In a world of sarcasm, BBT theory is sweet and hopeful.

“The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” ends with one of those scenes that makes me double over laughing, no matter how many times I see it.

4. The Twilight Zone–I start every new year right: On the couch for as long as humanly possible, watching Syfy’s The Twilight Zone marathon. I love the stories. I love the twists. I love how sweet it is, and how creepy it is. I love baby Burgess Meredith in the most unfair situation on the planet and baby William Shatner freaked out by the single worst gremlin costume on the planet.

There are certainly more popular episodes of The Twilight Zone than The Hunt (including the two linked above), but this one is my favorite. If you don’t have a twinkly tear in your eye by the end, you have no heart–and I’m not even much of an animal person.

3. The Cosby Show–Until relatively recently, the Cosby’s held the top spot in my heart. I love this family so hard. It is rare to love every character on a show with so many actors. Cosby anniversary episodes could be a primer in how to do a sitcom right. Plus, it gave so many quoteables, even as a little kid: zerberts, jammin on the one (wtf does that mean?), the mating of the wildebeests (I’ve wanted to go to Nairobi ever since), I brought you in this world, and I’ll take you out.

PETER! Also, that little cutie on the end, in the striped leggins? Totally Alicia Keys.

2. The Walking Dead–Oh man, did I resist this show. I don’t like zombies, and I find zombie pop culture to be completely boring. Oh … you mean The Walking Dead isn’t about zombies? They’re just, like, a plot point? The writing and characters are some of the most fascinating in TV? Ohhhh. Got it. I got pretty into my early Walking Dead love a year and a half ago, if you’re interested. The love, clearly, has only grown from there. Because it is nearly my very favorite show in existence, second only to …

I follow so many Walking Dead actors and producers on social media. The cast seems simply spectacular. Hershel 4eva.

1. Boston Legal–Oh, Alan Shore and Denny Crane, my favoritest fictional relationship in the history of fictional relationships. Like Sex and the City and The Big Bang Theory, I can wake up at 9 a.m., turn on Boston Legal, and watch until 1 a.m., no doubt in my mind. I love how smart it is, I love how silly it is. I love how important its topics are and how silly its topics are. The episode Son of the Defender produces TV magic unlike any I have seen before or since, pulling from William Shatner’s loooooong career of acting. It can make me double over laughing and sob to the point of stopping my breath. Entertainment at its finest.

Runners up: Gilmore Girls, Breaking Bad, Girls

Potential runners up (as in, I’m mid-binge and loving these each SO SO MUCH, but I haven’t finished them yet so DON’T YOU DARE DISCUSS THEM IN THE COMMENTS): Parenthood, Mad Men. One of these could potentially take my No. 10 spot. Parenthood is dangerously close.

What’s your recipe for creativity?


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Write your recipe for creativity.

I bought myself a five-year journal for my birthday this year, back in April. It gives a question a day with a few lines to jot a brief answer, with enough spaces to cover that question on that particular day for five years.

Wednesday’s question is that above instruction about creativity. I thought for a moment. Considered all the things I needed … the things I thought I needed … the things that were nice and completely unnecessary. And came up with a simple lil equation:

Time + ideas

Do I NEED an ENTIRE free day to indulge myself? Of course not. It’s nice. It’s idyllic. But if all I have is 25 minutes to edit a page in my book or scribble down the first graph in a short story, or even to bullet point some ideas floating about, I’ll take it.

Do I NEED a peaceful spot, free of distractions and full of beautiful scenery? Nope. Do I imagine I’d craft great stories if (no … WHEN) I get to write on a balcony overlooking a European city with cobblestone walkways and the kind of view in the distance I’ve only seen thus far on a computer screen? I do. But I can do it just fine at my kitchen table, staring at the bunnies eating my grass.

My husband shared a story he’d heard from a friend about a woman he knew who finally decided to write her book. So she quit her six-figure job to Just Write! thinking she’d finally have the time and the stamina to succeed. And, a year later, she had nada to show for it.

I’ve never understood why so many seem to have this ideal setup to Get Things Done. As though by freeing oneself of all distractions and surrounding oneself by peace and muse-ful things, then we can unlock our Next Great Idea. But if you can’t get at that idea in your regular life, you can’t very well coax it out by tricking it.

See, I got rid of the boss who stressed me out. The kids who nag are at Grandma’s for the weekend. My honey’s out with friends and won’t be home until tomorrow. It’s a nice, rainy day, so the sunshine can’t tempt me. I minimized Google Chrome and turned off my phone and TV, so I’m distraction-free. Let’s do this, darling!

Sure, it sounds great. But if that’s what it takes to be creative, every single dang time, that’s not allowing much time for anything else, is it? You can’t very well shut yourself off from life every time you want to get down a thought.

But if you have some time, even a little bit, and an idea, even a small one, and you Just Do It, well, isn’t that the whole point?

What’s your recipe for creativity? What works best for you? 

Jim Kay makes Harry Potter even better–and yes, it is possible


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I just finished rereading “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for the … fourth time? Fifth time? But it was by far the very best time I’ve read it.

This version was the coffee table book version, illustrated by Jim Kay. Based on my knowledge of Kay, which begins and ends with this book, he is a watercolor artist who can take one of the world’s most beloved stories and improve upon it.

Consider, if you will, Hagrid carting Harry away from that creepy shack on the tiny island. His bitty umbrella!

Look at the detail in Kay’s imagining of Diagon Ally.

And then, there are my two absolute favorites. No. 2: The unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. I could stare at this for hours.

And No. 1 is reserved for … the house ghosts. It’s not even a full-page image–they float along the bottom of a double-page spread. I don’t understand how he made his paints look positively neon. So perfect. And so hard to reproduce. I can’t get a good photo or scan of it, and even what I find on Google is shoddy.

I finished this reread on Saturday and got out of my chair to grab “Chamber of Secrets” before I thought … wait …

I did a quick search and YES! Jim Kay’s illustrated “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” comes out in less than two months. I should be embarrassed about how much I danced around the house when I found that out. But let’s be real. Of course I’m not.

Join me at my new spot!

My dear friend Dana, who is one of my favorite writers and one of my favorite people, and I have discussed writing a joint blog for years.

Well, my friends, it has finally happened!

Follow us over at Curious Daily, where you’ll get moi and the delightful Dana. Hopefully, with both of us over there, we can be sources of encouragement to each other to Just. Keep. Writing. Topics currently over there to entice you:

See you there!