Alphabet, Take 1

Always begging
Constantly digging
ever
for grace
Heaving infinite joys
Keeping level
mastering nuance
offering penance.
Quickly running
scared
Twists untangle
voluntarily.
Whittling xoanon,
yesterday’s
Zest.

This poem is crap. Sorry about the X word. That’s part of what makes this exercise fun. It’s  also part of what makes it sound silly and stupid. The word looks so foreign, so alien, so out of place, but X is what comes after W, and that word looks like I’m trying too hard, but there are far worse words. I don’t dislike X words; they’re just unusual, and maybe they make me a little … xenophobic.

Oh.

If this is your idea of fun, you should give this a try. 26 words, one for each letter of the alphabet, in order.

Go.

ETA: The D word. Not as clumsy as X. Thanks, Andrew.

Movie Batch

Planet B-Boy – fun, yet a little bit long documentary following the international breakdancing championships in Germany. The dancing is unreal, and you feel like you’re in the middle of the action. Competitions like these are often organized chaos, and the filmmaker expects you to keep up, as the film as a whole is pretty rough around the edges. However, he invites you effectively to sympathize with and follow a few individuals. Nice, if not unsubtle, commentary on father-son relationships where career breakdancing is not the cultural norm. Go Korea!

The Watcher in the Woods – definitely a rewatch, 6th or 7th. This movie doesn’t really get less terrifying. That this is a Disney film is shocking enough! (And the movie trailers disclaim it being not your traditional family film.) The surprise effects with sound and light, and the sparse, fitting soundtrack were all well-done. Blue lasers shooting! Mirrors and windows cracking! Blood! Drowning! Tense violin chords! Scary, possessed voices that call out common names backwards! “Nerak.” !!! But, if you watch the alternate endings, this thriller suddenly becomes a comedy. I jumped quite a few times. That is all. I’ll probably watch it again in a couple of years.

Tron – okay, so maybe when I was 8 years old, when plot sometimes fell secondary, this movie was visually interesting and fun. The story, however? 25 years later? The computer programming jargon that brought all the renegade geeks out of the woodwork and into the theaters in the early 80s? Major snoozer. I wonder if Jeff Bridges watches this movie and then asks himself what he was thinking. Although, he seems to be involved in a remake, or a sequel? Redemptive, hopefully.

Dear Zachary – perhaps one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. Here is a review that won’t spoil it. The language is strong and some of the images are grim. This felt like more of a personal endeavor – which, it really was – and the documentarian masterfully crafted it with a whole lot of heart. It sent me through the emotional gamut: laughing and crying and being en/outraged and then crying some more. It’s not an easy film to watch, but it’s worth it if you make it to the end.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – I saw this for the first time in the theater, in 2004. I remember loving the entire concept of it. The performances are nicely understated; Jim Carrey keeps his cool, at least relatively, in this somewhat frenetic movie. This was not his typical role. Anyway, this film quite creatively encouraged working through kinks and setbacks in relationships. Maybe I related to it a little bit. I cried, but mostly rejoiced.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – I didn’t see this so much as a “movie” as a reminder of one of my adventures around the city, when I first moved here. Cruising in a car with a few of my non-nondrinking friends, looking for gigs, coming from gigs, taking friends home, watching a few of them almost hook up, not getting home until daybreak. It portrays that aspect of city life pretty accurately, and I do adore Michael Cera and think he’s quite talented, even if he is mostly typecast.

The Visitor – There’s this one scene where Walter and Zainab are discussing Tarek’s detention in an illegal immigrant facility in Queens. Tarek is a drummer from Syria, and Zainab is his girlfriend from Senegal. Walter is a bored, washed-out professor in the city who lets the couple live with him in his apartment and becomes their friend. Walter has visited Tarek in Queens and tells Zainab he has hired an immigration lawyer. Zainab interrupts that they cannot afford one, and Walter says it’s okay. I cry at this scene. The acting is exquisite. It’s not so much you can see Walter’s heart and Zainab’s gratitude, but you can sense them. The nuance is stunning. Richard Jenkins really deserved his Oscar nomination for this role.

Princess Mononoke – Not Miyazake’s best work, in my opinion. To be fair, I’ve only seen two of his films, and I liked Spirited Away a lot more. This is an incredibly violent piece of anime, fyi. The friend I watched this with agreed the plot could have been more developed; they could have tied a few elements together better. Maybe the ideas didn’t translate well from the Japanese version. The hate within; forest spirits; general mythology. As a whole, it seemed pretty disjointed. Oh, but you don’t have to second-guess one of the themes of the movie, which is the relationship between man and nature. Save the forests, people! That one they pretty much shove down your throat, all the while neglecting everything else. The movie, for all its 2 hours and 14 minutes, felt incomplete. Maybe they should have cut back on everything else.

An Open Letter for Friendship

Dear Australia,

It’s raining right now, 2:15 EDT. I’m sitting in the bedroom of my NYC apartment. The window is open, the fan is blowing, the lights are off. The air actually feels cool and pleasant. I wonder often what the world like is on the other side, south of the equator, opposite hemisphere. Did you know water drains, toilets flush the other way here? Does that fact fascinate only me? It’s a very nifty fact of which you should be extremely proud, because I associate it with you. I like nifty facts.

I’m sorry to say I don’t know you very well. Sure, I know of your Ayers Rock and Aborigines and the Opera House and your incredible Great Barrier Reef and digeridoos and vegemite and great white sharks and famous surfing; the Crocodile Hunter and the Dundee bloke and Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban and I don’t think Mel Gibson counts; and your Outback Steakhouse. And, of course, your distinct accent. I wish I could hear that accent more often. I sound very American, but I want to be able to hear Australian in my mind whenever I speak. That would rule. Anyway, all these things I listed, while phenomenal (even Crocodile Dundee, but maybe not so much vegemite), barely scratch the surface of the true you.

I do want to thank you, though. The reason I’m grateful is part of the huge appeal of getting to know you better. I want even more to visit you, because you seem to have produced a gentleman who seems genuinely, deeply, passionately interested in one of my very, very best friends, so interested that he is flying across the world, north of the equator, his opposite hemisphere, “Up Over,” at this very moment, to meet my friend. The whole thing started out bravely, yet unassumingly enough, with a single email. Then, it became something bigger. And we’re all giddy about it. Americans get giddy, you know.

Dear island-continent, what do you prefer to be called? Straight-up Australia? Oz? Down Under? I think I’m going to call you Barry. The gentleman’s profession is a barrister, so it’s fitting. Is that okay? You can call me May. Sometimes my close friends call me May-May, so you should wait until that feels comfortable for both of us. Oh, Barry, I’ve never seen anything like this in my friend. She has this look in her face all the time. She tells stories of the gentleman: what he writes or says or grandly gestures, and her already striking eyes twinkle or sparkle or … something. Light dances around in those eyes, and the source of illumination is NOT external.

So, Barry, this is a plea for friendship. It would be so wonderful to get to know you better! And I just want to thank you for sending over a good man who’s serious about earning my friend’s heart; a man whose @$! I won’t kick because he’ll not likely break her heart. Did you see that, Barry, with the censoring? Other guys, boys, @%$! have mistreated my friend in the past, and they have ticked me off, and the very thought of that happening again causes me to compromise my status at BYU by swearing. I frighten myself when I get overly like this, Barry, but I’m not scared to express ill will toward jerks. You’re not a jerk, Barry; I have no hard feelings toward you.

He sent her a rose this morning, you know.

I’ve seen my friend literally swoon. She has collapsed in a puddly heap of her own melty swooniness, which I believe has the consistency of fine chocolate. I had no idea swooning was something people actually did. Now I know.

A lot of hypotheticals are floating around, especially The Hypothetical, because, honestly, these two are in love. And that’s exciting, for certain. Then, Barry, what if  I get to visit you? I mean, this is why I’m writing you – we should establish our friendship first, right? I don’t want to startle you in any way.

Anyway, I’ve gone on way too long. I hope this meeting between your gentleman and my friend goes well. Astoundingly, infinitely; hand-clappingly and jump-up-and-downingly. Barry, above everything else I’ve said, I just want to thank you for helping make my friend so happy.

I hope to see you soon. And, in these circumstances, never too soon.

Sincerely,
May

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Me: So, you know how old she is?
Boo: Um, [an integer, x,  between 1 and 100]
Me: Ha, did she ever tell you the story of when she looked at her birth certificate one day and discovered she was actually born a year later? So she’s actually [x-1]! (That exclamation point does not indicate factorial.) 
Boo: What? May, you can’t do that. You can’t tell someone they have the wrong answer when they think the information they have is correct. That’s like saying, “Two plus two does not equal four because one of those twos is actually a three.” No, she didn’t tell me that.

But there it is, Mom is a year older today, but a year younger than one would calculate given information from over four or five years ago.  Oh my, every year she’s the same age!

She says it’s raining down there today, so there’s not much to do outside. She really likes spending time at the nearby parks, especially by the river.  A couple weeks ago she saw a manatee family grazing in the St. Johns. She called me and left a message that day. I love manatees.

She did work the bishop’s storehouse this morning, though.

In the rain.

On her birthday.

And she probably had a blast.

Now the internet knows of two secrets that keep her so young. The world should thank her for the grace of her presence among us mortals.

I wish I could spend the day with her.

I miss you, Mom. I’ll see you soon, though.

Happy Birthday!

I Haven’t Yet Written A Book, but I’ll Make One Instead

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This book was very enjoyable and gratifying to put together. Not a single crayon or bottle of Elmer’s glue was to be found in that craft room. So, I had no choice but to make do with the supplies on hand:

Fancy paper, for the cover
Varnish
Paper I made myself:
-pulp
-water
-thyme
-oregano
-flower petals
-iron, for pressing dry
Ribbon
Hot glue
1/8″ hole punch
Cute heart charm

Not too shabby.

Please, Sir, Can I Have S’mores?

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For all you pyromaniacs out there, a few campfire photos from camp. I’m not sure exactly what was in the fire to make it burn all those pretty colors, but those flames were extremely hypnotizing. I remember the camera batteries ran low that first evening. Fire makes me a little trigger-happy.

I think I may need to apologize for WordPress not resolving these photos decently. They look much better on my computer. They may look a little bit better at flickr, except that some of those are blurry, and that’s just my fault. Or the fire’s fault. And I’m still trying to figure out how to tweak the ISO.

The s’mores were delicious, by the way. Mine tasted blue and green.

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Flashbacks

Prom. Junior year.
I didn’t go with a date, but with a group of girlfriends.
It was toward the end of the evening.
I was dancing with a good guy friend.
He was a son of one of the faculty.
He was cute. And eccentric.
Adorably nerdy. We had a few classes together.
We were talking.
His mom had appeared along the sidelines of the ballroom while we danced.
She was a chaperone. She was dressed to the nines.
We both saw her.
He looked at me. Smirked a little.
He nodded toward his mom.
Suggested that perhaps we surprise her.
I mean, I had never kissed a boy in front of his mom before.
Also, I wasn’t quite 17.
I wish I could say I had never kissed a boy.
But that wouldn’t be very honest.
Instantly, I got nervous. Terrified.
I said no. Not in front of his mom.
I mean, what about my grades?
We finished the dance.

Oh, the one guy.
From Montreal.
We cuddled.
But we didn’t kiss.
Then I went home.

Then there was that time.
By the river.
With that older man.
Knowledgeable. Worldly.
Numerous stories.
No hints of writing opportunities for me.
But his seeking opportunities of … not writing.
From me.
Sun setting. His arm behind me.
I very much didn’t want to kiss him.
I tried saying as much
With all the negative body language I tried to give.
But he didn’t get it.
And he leaned in anyway.
And I had to put my hand up to stop him.
And I was incredibly clever about it.
And I haven’t contacted him since.
Other chances to write will come up.
I know.

Then one time
One guy
It would have been so easy
Just to lean in
And watch his eyes close
Because he was there
And I was there
And we were talking
And he asked when was the last time I made out with someone
I was honest and said a [long time]
And he answered his own question
With considerably less than [a long time]
What if, he said
What if, I said
Then what
I really want to, but
Then what?
We agreed we shouldn’t
So we didn’t.

Then, the times when I didn’t chicken out or reject and went for it. I don’t know how many times I’m going to bring up this list. It seems to emerge every couple of years:
1. On the band bus … twice.
2. In the parking lot in front of Shopko/Movies 8
In the parking lot of Regency apartments that same night – same guy, of course
3. In the living room of another apartment complex a couple of years later – the fiancé.
4. At a party around Thanksgiving in the late 90s
5. That one dude in Orem I totally forgot about
6. The state attorney
7. The one friend who’s not really a friend anymore
8. The guy from a few years ago.

Well, it seems I’m a bit obsessed right now with kissing. Maybe not so much kissing, but I just spent a week camping with a whole bunch of women and maybe I need the company of a nice man. So maybe I’ve been thinking about a nice man. Not just any nice man, but I have a few in mind. Any of those few would be nice to spend some time with. Or, maybe even a really, really nice random man. From church. That wouldn’t be so bad, right? Maybe? Because it’s church? Right?

And yet, I just spent a week camping with a whole bunch of young women from church, where we emphasized self-control and virtue and changing the world with goodness and purity. I taught excellent things at camp. Didn’t swear once while I was there; not a single peep. So I guess that whole bit about kissing and the boys I’ve kissed and wanting the time of a few specific men or a random man from church even though I wouldn’t necessarily have to kiss him even though I would really, really really want to, I was just kidding.

Sort of.

Sorry. It’s just been too long.