Saturday, July 23, 2016

30 Days of Blogging, Day 18: Top 5...Favorite Corners of the World

If you ask me what is my favorite place in the world--where do I feel the safest, the most reflective, at peace--in my brain I would say, "Duh, my couch with my cat and my beautiful TV." Out loud I would probably say something pretentious, like the Piazza Campo de Fiori in Rome on a warm autumn night. I mean, it's great, and I went there a couple times, but I think we know who the real winner is here.

Couch love rights are civil rights. 
Love is love.

I'm the type of person who really values their alone time. Don't get me wrong, I love being around smart, funny, amazing people--but when I'm tapped out, I need a significant amount of me time. I need a place where I can disappear or blend in to the scenery and watch how real people interact.

This is my top five favorite corners of the world. 

#5 A cafe in Athens
They had a pretty limited menu. Mostly just..stone.

Okay, maybe one pretentious answer. 

In fairness, there was never an intention of pretension when I found this cafe on a quiet street at the foot of the hill that leads up to the Acropolis. I was alone on my honeymoon, and I was hungry.

To my wife-of-the-moment's defense, she had contracted norovirus on our fantastic honeymoon cruise around the Mediterranean. After spending some time in the ship's medical clinic the day before she was told she had to be in quarantine for at least 24 hours--the day we were supposed to be in Athens. 

She insisted that I don't miss Athens because she was sick, and luckily years before she had spent a significant amount of time there, so she was able to direct me to the train that would take me to the Acropolis.

That morning I said goodbye to her and apprehensively set out into the city, armed with a few Grecian greetings, a city map and a Rick Steves travel book.

The hike up the hill to see the Acropolis was fucking hard. I knew it was going to be, and I was anxiety ridden about it the whole train ride to the center of the city. 

As I hiked up to the top of the hill I quietly cheered for myself for every ancient stop I conquered--and for not puking. 

I wandered around taking in the ruins, snapping selfies of myself standing far enough away to get the Parthenon in the background. Some dude offered to take a picture of me, and while it was kind, he just didn't know my angles!

After I strolled to the bottom I sat at the foot of the hill and watched tourists wander by, locals peddling their wares. and little old Greek ladies tearing at the heartstrings of Americans with beautiful lace table cloths. (I wish I had taken that table cloth when we divorced 5 month later)

I took a walk on the narrow streets, starving and having a hard time deciding which tasty smelling restaurant to eat. 

I chose the quietest one with an outdoor patio that faced the Acropolis. I order a lot of food. My waiter was the owner and he loved my appetite. He gave me a free order of baklava to take back to the boat. 

The city was busy with tourists and locals, but this tiny street was so quiet. I read a book I picked up from the airport, took in the scenery, and smiled at locals as they passed me by. 

I thought about the fight we had poolside two nights before. I made the mistake of asking when she wants to have children. She got mad I couldn't be in the moment and just enjoy what we have. I got mad that she got mad and couldn't just fantasize about having a family. I cried poolside on my honeymoon. I knew this was a bad sign. 

I enjoyed the peace and the feeling of independence--almost what it felt like to be single again. 

#4 My Secret Spot
What did you think I meant by Secret Spot?

I cannot disclose the actual location of my secret spot. I will tell you that it's somewhere near where I used to live in Castle Rock, and I'm so happy that it's not been bulldozed for more carbon-copy homes.

I was a chubby kid but I was actually pretty active. I was always going out on little adventures on my own my bike, looking for private places that nobody knows about to play pretend. 

My secret spot  was a hike off of a bike trail in the covenant community where we lived. I would hide my bike underneath a bridge and hike down a rocky hillside to a little glen nestled in the trees. A tiny little trickle-of a creek flowed down the rocks. The scene looked like an ideal setting for A Midsummer Night's Dream of dancing fairies.

I would dance up and down the rocks, sing, make up plays in my head. I showed a friend my secret place once. When I told her what I liked to do down there she teased me. I never told anyone else about it again. 

Some secrets should stay secrets.

#3 Kure Beach, NC
The last thing I want to see before I die.

I have many fond memories of spending the summer at Carolina Beach as a kid. Family fun in the sun and whatnot. Kure Beach is just a few steps down the road, and I spent the best few days of my life healing there.

Right after my divorce I retreated to North Carolina. My extended family on my mother's side live there. I had been planning to go with her there, but our break-up turned what was going to be a trip to show my new wife around the state where my family is descended from to a trip to lick my wounds. 

My Aunt Mandy, one of the greatest women I know and whom I adore, surprised me with a trip to the beach. It was the first week of May and still off-season. We got a condo on the beach for a steal. 

Every day I woke up, put on my swimsuit, grabbed a book I would never read, and flip-flopped down to the beach. My aunt and Uncle Matt would take turns rotating down to hang out with me and make sure I was wearing sunscreen. 

I loved that they still cared for my well-being the same way they did when I was 9 years old playing in the sand. 

I would stare at the water, occasionally force myself in and bounce in the waves, and collapse on my towel and remember what it felt like to feel good again.

The best part, however, were the locals. 

On Kure Beach, everyone is your friend. As folks would wander by they would strike up conversation. It would start with a hello and would quickly evolve into a conversation about our personal lives. 

I chatted with a gal who, on her days off, would come down to the beach with her husband to collect shark's teeth.

Another guy was taking a break from a construction job on a condo he was restoring.

The most interesting character was a dude who talked like The Dude. He was taking a walk before going to work and saw me bouncing up and down in the waves by myself. The beach was practically abandoned, and he loved how brave I was to go out into the water by myself, and how joyful I looked in the water. He looked exactly like Dr. Phil. He told me that he likes to go after midnight for a naked swim. He invited me to join him that night. I passed, but I appreciated the invite.

A friend told me that the friendliness of the people who lived there is fake--a cover to their menial lives. I don't agree. I miss the lack of rules and pretense--you don't have to be anybody but yourself.

I need to go back.

#2 Kerry Park, Seattle
Views should be free.

If someone comes to visit Seattle for the first time I always tell them to skip the Space Needle. What are you getting for the $22 it costs to go to the top of the Space Needle? A view--and you're not even getting the Space Needle in your pictures. 

Skip. It. 

Kerry Park is on the south slope of Queen Anne and has the most beautiful panoramic view of Seattle and the Puget sound, and--oh--the Space-freaking-Needle.

It's also a great place to take a seat on the bench and watch humanity roll by. 

Tourists snapping selfies, wedding parties getting their formal pictures, kids playing on the large scale art installment. If you're lucky you'll catch a flash mob or maybe eavesdrop on a sweet conversation between a new couple. 

Skip the stupid Needle.

#1 Oddfellow's Cafe
Yeah, I'm that guy.

Can you call yourself a writer if you don't have a cafe you can disappear into?

If it's a Sunday morning, I'm most likely walking into Oddfellow's Cafe on Capitol Hill and sweetly asking the adorable hip young man who is always hosting for a spot by a plug in the back. He never remembers my name, but he does remember me, and sometimes sneaks me to the top of the list. 

Tipping well matters, people.

I was introduced to Oddfellow's by my friend Jen shortly after I moved to Capitol Hill after my divorce. It was like being brought into the warm embrace of the city after spending my entire life in the suburbs. 

I sit in the back for hours. I always order the same thing--scrambled eggs and a biscuit with bacon on the side and house-made jam, and a drip coffee. For every refill I get on my coffee I add a dollar to the tip. My coffee refill record is 8, which lead to my hard rule--no more than 4. If my hands are shaking too hard to type, then I've had too much. 

For the amount of time I spend at Oddfellow's, I really don't spend nearly enough time writing than I do people watching. I like to write stories for the people sitting around me in my head while trying to avoid staring too long. 

Oddfellow's is my favorite place to disappear--my favorite corner of the world.

Your turn: what's your favorite corner of the world? 
Hit me in the comments.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

30 Days of Blogging, Day 17:Top 5...TV Shows

Hey you there. 

Who? Meh?

Yeah, you! The guy who brags that he hasn't had a television in ten years because he likes to "read" "books".

I like to consider myself "literate".

Guess what? This post is not for you.

This is a dedication to the one who raised me. 

The one who lit up imagination.

Who babysat me after school.

Who kept me company on those lonely Friday nights...and Saturday nights...and well, all the nights.

You taught me history and current events, that there's no such thing as too much of a good Shonda, the length of the Korean war isn't relevant as long as it's funny, friendship really is magic, and it's okay to sleep with whoever you want to as long as you're on a break--just make sure the other person knows you're on a break.

This was the hardest list to put together. If I had two hypothetical children, I'd probably have an easier time picking which one to sell to the circus than I did putting this list together.

Chloe, you are going to be SUCH a great juggler! Send me Snapchats, 'k?

Here we top 5 favorite TV shows...

#5: America's Got Talent
I hit the buzzer for Heidi all..the...time.

A nationwide talent show. It's more than a karaoke singing competition--it's inviting regular people to come on down and shine a light on whatever out of the box talent they have been hiding under a bushel. 

There are few television shows where I have ugly-face cried as hard as I have when I watched a juggler's dream coming true after his brother who taught him how to juggle as a young boy freaking died before his audition. 

Yes the judge skits are cheesy, and Pierce Morgan literally had no business whatsoever discerning who does or doesn't have talent, but the heart of the show is what makes me watch every summer.

From watching Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. go from car washer to million-dollar winning crooner, or Michael Grimm crushing the dreams of an adorable little blonde girl (deservedly so), how can you not roll a tear when you see someone's lifelong dream come to fruition?

Favorite Moment
Gut. Punching. Talent.

#4: The Cosby Show
Rudy seems to be the only one who knows what's up...

Okay, I know--you don't have to tell me. It's a controversial choice, but--it was my childhood dream to be a member of the Huxtables. 

Before you point out that I am as white as the inside of a TaunTaun, I know that the Huxtables are an African American family. I loved them because they were fun but real. The kids made stupid mistakes and their parents were able to set them straight without shaming them, raising their voices, or hitting them. Cliff was an idiot but also a beloved doctor. guys--Claire.

I wanted Claire to be my mom so badly. She adored her kids but also loved her career and life outside her home. She was the moral center and rock of the show and looked so good while doing it. She didn't resent motherhood and didn't resent working hard. Claire Huxtable is one of the most well-written women in television history. 

Also, who didn't want to be a member of the Huxtables when they lip-synched Night Time is the Right Time?

Favorite Moment
The night time is definitely not the right time for you Bill. Day light meetings with witnesses only please.

#3: Game of Thrones

Okay, I know this isn't from the show, but I've never felt so right.

I'll admit, I almost gave up on this one after the very first episode. My knee-jerk opinion was that whoever wrote these books must fucking hate women. It struck me as a little too--rapey?

Gradually over time sisters starting doing it for themselves. You got the Khaleesi with her freaking dragons crossing the sea, the Girl With No Name who has a name again, the new Queen of Winterfell, and the terrifying new Queen of King's Landing. 

Oh, uh--spoiler alert. 

Aside from the obvious drawing you in and making you love a character only to have them killed off in a manner too brutal for Buffalo Bill, the return of badassery every year has me tingling with excitement. 

Valar morgulis mothereffers.

Favorite Scene
Valar dohaeris too you guys--valar dohaeris!

#2: The Thick of It
Before he was The Doctor, he was terrifying.

You have never heard of this show. Please, please, please rectify this. If you love Veep, then you'll love this even more. The whole series is on Hulu--you have no excuse.

What Veep lacks in characters that are horrible people who remain unlikable, Thick of It has characters that are horrible people that you can't help but love.

One of the greatest characters--of all time and on the show--is Malcolm Tucker, played by actual Oscar winner and current The Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Modeled after Alastair Campbell, who is the British version of Karl Rove or Rahm Emmanuel. He's the enforcer of the Prime Minister who terrifies cabinet ministers into walking the party line, and he does it with foaming at the mouth gusto.

Even better is that they cuss and insult each other with the eloquence of Shakespeare, so I'll stop gushing and I'll let you just soak in some of my favorite quotes:

"He's so useless--he's absolutely useless--he's as useless as a marzipan dildo!"

"When I want your advice I'll give you the signal--which is me getting sectioned under the Mental Health Act."

"I will tear your fucking skin off, I will wear it to your mother's birthday party, and rub your nuts up and down her leg whilst whistling Bohemian-fucking-Rhapsody. Right?"

"That guy is an epic fuck-up. He's so dense that light bends around him."

And my favorite that--if I were a meaner person--I'd love to say to another person as a means of getting out of a conversation:

"I'd love to stop and chat with you but I'd rather have type 2 diabetes."

Favorite Moment

#1: 30 Rock
#OtherSquadGoals. I can have more than one squad.

Liz Lemon. Tracy Jordan. Jack Donaghy. Jenna Mulroney. Kenneth the Page. 

I have lost count of how many times I have re-watched this show from start to end. After awhile it became part of my bedtime routine--I would fall asleep watching 30 Rock and dream of strip club karaoke with Tracey. 

I can't begin to describe all the reasons why I love this show in a short blog post. 

In short, it's one of the greatest ensemble comedy casts of all time--on par with M*A*S*H, Cheers, and the highly underrated Arrested Development. 

It also contains all the answers to life.

How was that party? "Purr-fect--like a cat birthday!"

Someone getting you down? "High-fiving a million angels!"

Should you do the dishes? "I would love to do the dishes, but I'm in character, and if you make me do the dishes I WILL KILL MYSELF!!!"

Cramps got you down? "All women menstruating go home immediately!"

Need to get everyone's attention? "Listen up fives--a ten is talking."

Should I get a professional haircut? "D'Fwan--glue in my business weave."

Should I catch up on sleep on the plane? "I don't sleep on planes--I don't want to get incepted."

Is it time for rehearsal? "I'm not going to rehearse. I'm going to get a sandwich and then eat it on the toilet."

Is Global Warming really a problem? "There was a cyclone in Brooklyn last year--it destroyed two t-shirt shops and a banjo."

Is the audience unsatisfied with my performance? "Your boos are not scaring me! I know most of you are not ghosts!"

Do you want to go there? "I want to go to there."

Are you so frustrated there are no words to describe how you feel? "BLERGH!"

And so on...

Favorite Moment
See Day 7.

Hit me in the comments! What's your top five?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

30 Days of Blogging, Day 16: Top 5...Musicians

Years ago if you asked me who my top five favorite musicians or bands are, I would answer before you finished asking the question. If you asked me now, after living in the Pacific Northwest where if you didn't like someone first, you're a pleb--actually I don't think I've heard anyone use the word pleb here. Maybe the best terminology is "basic bitch"?


This basic bitch loves musicians and bands that lots of other people love too. They're popular for a reason people.What are you doing with your life?! Don't judge me!

Grab a pumpkin spice latte, put on your shades that you bought from Urban Outfitters at the local mall, and let's go to Sam Goody you betches!

Haaaay betches! I'm made with skim milk!

#5: Adele
I could rest my pumpkin spice latte in that gorgeous chin-dimple.

Just...come on you guys. I have two ears and a heart, don't I?

She sings all of my feelings. If you have had your heart broken by some soulless monster with gorgeous eyes and big boobs and you didn't sob uncontrollably while listening to Someone Like You while stuffing Cheetos in your face, you literally have no heart. You're probably my ex.

Favorite Song:
Just fucking sing.

#4: Coldplay
B.G.--Before Goop.

A hipster douche-bag once asked me who is in my top five. He made fun of me for liking Coldplay. 

His favorite band is Oingo Boingo. 

Fuck that guy. 

I love all of their albums, in order of release. Parachutes is far and away my favorite rainy Sunday album.

I saw them second row with my best friend at Red Rocks. Their poetic lyrics, iridescent sound, and light show that ricocheted off the rock formations was dazzling. 

Favorite Song:
Lullaby melody and lyrics that speak to my heart? Sign me up please.
Again, before Goop.

#3: Guster
Bringing back little-boy striped polo shirts before it was cool

I fell in love with Guster when I saw them open for my number two favorite artist. To watch them play music live is to watch someone experience joy doing what they love. 

My friend and I resolved to see them every single time they came to Denver, and we did--I also have not seen them since I left Denver because I cannot possibly imagine seeing them without her. 

I have two Guster t-shirts. Their t-shirt game is en pointe.

Their music? Joyful, thoughtful, emotional, cheeky. Even if their songs become melancholy they bring it right back around with a hidden song that they clearly improvised and cracked up while recording it.

Their drummer is my favorite drummer. Which of you Oingo Boingo loving bastards have a favorite drummer? 

They re-recorded their album Keep it Together and replaced the lyrics with simulated meows. Meows people!!!

Give joy a chance. Listen to Guster. Guster is for lovers.

Favorite Song:

This should be the first thing you listen to every single morning.

#2: John Mayer
John Mayer with some groupies he met backstage at Red Rocks. 
His life was never the same.

Before Jennifer Aniston--before Katie Perry--before that idiotic Playboy interview--I found out John Mayer was playing Red Rocks for the first time in his career. 

I saw him with my friend Casey three times already, but never at Red Rocks. I knew his shows would sell out, so to be proactive I joined his online fan club that would allow me first access to tickets. 

For $25 I got a tiny poster, a key-chain, and dibs on tickets. 

Two days before his show I got an email from his tour manager stating that as a member of his fan club I was automatically entered into a contest to meet John Mayer with one friend before his show at Red Rocks.

This excited me.

I assumed we would get a little meet and greet with dozens of his fans--maybe a picture and a handshake. His manager escorted us backstage where we stood alone.A couple other girls came and stood next to us. That was it. 

His manager introduced him to the girls; they worked with his brother Ben at Qwest. 

He came to us. I literally cannot remember a single word we exchanged. Knowing Casey she was cool. Knowing me I probably stuttered and said something odd and inappropriate. His manager said he had to be on in five minutes and he hugged us goodbye--and not a limp fish celebrity hug--our chests touched. He smelled great. 

Just as he was about to disappear I looked at the camera in my hand and sadly said to Casey that I forgot to ask for a picture. He stopped and asked, "Oh my gosh, I'm sorry guys, did you want a picture?" He was sorry. 

Look at that picture. Look at the joy on those faces. 

I love his music too.

Favorite Song:

This came out 2 years after I dropped out of high school. It spoke to me.

#1: U2
B.G.--Before Glasses.

The first time I saw U2 in concert it was such a spiritually moving experience I wrote an eight page review of the show and posted it on their fan tour website. Fifteen years later it can be read HERE. Nothing else could possibly illustrate my love for U2 more than this long gush-fest of love.

Seeing U2 live is going to church and having a spiritual awakening. 

Casey and I would show up to the general admission line early in the morning so we could get as close as Bono as possible every time we saw them.

We argued when he looked at me--she thought he looked her--he looked at me. It was during In a Little While, right at the moment he sang ...Spanish eyes...

You know it's true Casey!

I have every single album on CD. No digital downloads. 

I have bootlegs. 

I have vinyl. 

Joshua Tree was the first album I ever loved. 

Where the Streets Have No Name still makes me cry. 

The first time I listened to Beautiful Day I decided to change my life.

Seeing them live with my best friend are my most cherished memories. 

U2 everybody.

Favorite Song:


Your turn! Hit me in the comments. This is a no judging zone. Even if you love Oingo Boingo.

Monday, July 18, 2016

30 Days of Blogging, Day 15: Top 5...Movies

I was challenged to do a series of my favorite movies, musicians, etc. The opinions of this blog writer do not reflect the opinions of her cat. 

Movies, am I right? They have people in them. Sometimes they talk, sometimes they don't talk. Sometimes they run, sometimes they don't move at all. Sometimes it's just a couple people in a room, sometimes a traveling brotherhood of representatives of varying fantasy-based races fighting against the forces of evil to destroy the One Ring.

Movies, right?

It wasn't terribly hard to pick my top three--those never change. Four and five were harder to commit to. I even considered being very lazy and just making this a top three list, but a challenge isn't a challenge if it's easy.


Here we go gang! Drum roll please?

Who's da best widdle drummer in da world??

My top five favorite movies:

#5: Bridget Jones's Diary
I think we're all thinking the same thing here: devil's three-wayy. AmIright?

Bridget Jones: the Godfather of romantic comedies, except the sequel is not nearly as good as the first. The third...remains to be seen. 

I recall seeing the trailer for Bridget Jones... and I knew I was going to love it. When I saw it, I loved it even more than I thought I would. Like a lot of young women I think I saw a lot of myself in the heroine of the movie: dead end job, smokes too much, drinks too much, no partner, disapproving mother, and an under-appreciated full bottom. 

All the way from her serenading her answering machine with no messages to go out on a Friday night to pratfall after pratfall, I saw little bits of myself. When she pulled herself up by her stiff, British, upper-lip after being brutally dumped and she took control of her life and changed her story, she spoke to me. 

It's it silly to take life advice from an early 2000's romantic comedy? Maybe. So what? I've seen grown men cry like children when their football team loses. Shut-up. 

Favorite Scene:
Who doesn't want someone to love them just as they are? Wobbly bits and all.

#4: Waking Ned Devine
DRINK! (If you've never watched Father Ted you haven't lived)

I imagine this one is a little out of left field. Anyone I bring this movie up to has never really heard of it, but it had to go on the list. I watch it once a year with some rich food and a giant bottle of Scotch ale. 

I know it's Scotch but I hate Guinness--let's stay on track here.

Two life long friends find the winning lottery ticket of their recently deceased friend. Their tiny little Irish town is brought in to the fold and the varying characters with their own fascinating stories help make the dream come true. They are all darling and lovely and keep the story moving in their charming, small-town Irish way. There's also an abundance of old man tush. 

The overall theme of commitment and friendship touches my heart every single time I watch it, and as the final scene swells with The Parting Glass, I can't help but cry and pray I have friends I can grow old with. 

Favorite Scene:

Just...come on. Don't tell me you don't think this is all they do in Ireland--
standing on green hillsides and toasting their friends.

#3: Almost Famous
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes...

I defy anyone who says they didn't watch Almost Famous and want to jump in a time machine and be a rock journalist in the seventies. 

There is little not to love about Almost Famous. The changing music scene of the 70's, women feeling empowered to do what they want with their bodies, the ensemble of protagonists with their own angels and demons. Nobody is perfect, and nobody is bad--they all just fucking love music--because music is to bond. 

Kate Hudson's O.G. pixie manic dream girl Penny Lane, Patrick Fugit's wide-eyed writing ingenue, and Philip Seymour Hoffman's drug-addled sage wisdom are the best pieces of this movie set to the seventies soundtrack capturing moments of humanity in a sometimes inhumane business. 

This is also the movie that motivated me to go back to school, because I wanted to get a degree in journalism and write for Rolling Stone. Two major switches later and no degree, I did manage to get in Rolling Stone: in the Letter to the Editor section in their 9/11 issue. They pulled a quote from me on one of their message boards. The day I saw my name printed in Rolling Stone Magazine remains one of the greatest days of my life. 

Favorite Scene: 

Just shut-up and sing.

#2: The Color Purple
That unmistakable silhouette.

I believe I was seven years old the first time I watched this movie with my mother. I wanted to watch it with because I loved Whoopi Goldberg from her comedy, and I loved Oprah Winfrey from after school T.V. watching. There were a few scenes that stayed with me.

Oprah Winfrey's Sofia emerging from behind stalks of corn after fighting her husband. Her face bruised, she shames Celie for telling her stepson to beat her--after fighting men her whole life she shouldn't have to fight her own husband. 

Another scene with Celie and Shug Avery after they escaped from the gin joint fight. Shug dressed Celie up and taught her how to love her smile. When Shug gingerly kissed Celie on the lips, my mother covered my eyes telling me that it was disgusting and girls don't do that--but there they were--doing that. 

Then the final scene. After a lifetime of abuse and struggle Celie stands on her own front porch of her own house looking over a field of purple wildflowers. A car pulls up and four heads emerge followed by beautiful fabric being swept up by the wind against the setting sun. Celie knows it's her sister. Just recalling her gut-wrenching cry of her sister's name brings tears to my eyes. Then meeting her children for the first time since they were born. The bond of sisterhood over years and miles never broken as they resume their clapping chant from their childhood...

And I'm crying now. 

I watch it probably twice a year and I still see things that I never noticed before. It's unbelievably quotable:

Nothing but death can keep me from it!

See daddy? Sinners have souls too.

I think it pisses God off when you walk passed the color of purple in a field and don't notice it.

Til you do right by me, everything you think about gonna fail. (The prayer of every spurned ex)

Hell. No. 

Just watch it. Bring the tissues.

Favorite Scene:

Ugly-face crying here you guys. Ugly. Face. Crying.

#1: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Before Gollum came and fucked it up for everyone.

I'm a geek right? My favorite movie is a fantasy adventure of a bunch of fantasy characters banding together against evil to destroy the One Ring. 

If that's all you see when you watch this movie then you're clearly not watching close enough! Where's my inhaler?

Friendship. Love. Devotion. Faithfulness. Leaving the nest. Going on an adventure. Letting go. Taking a chance. Overcoming grief and fighting against the odds when the odds are so obviously stacked against you. 

Come. The freak. On. 

This is so much more than a fantasy adventure.

I saw this in the theater with my friend six times. I bought the original DVD release and the extended box set. I watched all thirteen hours of extras and my friend and I would sit in a bar and quote them. Not the movie--the extras. We even went on a road trip to California to see the third movie--which remains one of the greatest trips of my life.

I will leave you with this scene. The devotion that Sam has for Frodo wrecks me every time--and while I think about my top five, that seems to be a common theme. I guess that speaks to my values, or at the very least what I want the most: a friend who would walk with me through fire.

Favorite Scene:

30 Days of Blogging, Day 14: You Could Lose Your Mind

The summer before fifth grade. I was very proud of this shirt. Rad dude. Rad.

I think I can attribute the majority of trouble I got myself into as a child to the bad influence of Nick at Nite. Shows like Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, and The Little Rascals--riddled with rascally characters getting into all kinds of shenanigans. If you were going to take life advice from any Nick at Nite show, The Patty Duke Show was not one of them.

I changed schools twice in the fifth grade--the first time was at the start of the year when my mother decided the bullying situation at my current school was untenable, and the second was when we moved towns.

Second grade through fourth grade at Centennial Elementary in Littleton was at best a waking nightmare. My walks to and from school was like playing Super Mario Brothers--you never knew was was lurking around the corner wanting to throw things at your face. Things weren't any better in the school either. The kids were pretty bold when it came to their bullying, even going so far as attacking me in class--in front of the teacher. With little change and repercussion from the principal my mother pulled me out of Centennial at the end of fourth grade.

Peabody Elementary was full of promise. The staff and my teacher knew the situation I was coming from, and they were warm and welcoming. The kids didn't really pick on me so much as they ignored me.

One day a pair of girls in my class took me aside and said they wanted to talk to me. The reason that nobody really wanted to talk to me was because my clothes weren't really cool. Up until that point it never really occurred to me that clothes were supposed to be cool--I just wore what my mother bought me: jeans, corduroys, my Simpsons t-shirt, overalls--stuff kids wear. One of the girls offered to bring in clothes for me the next day, just so I could experience what wearing cool clothes would be like.

The next day she brought me a pair of black stirrup stretch pants, push-down tube socks, a cream colored turtle neck and a beautiful green long baggy sweater. They were the nicest clothes I'd ever put on. I went to the bathroom before our first recess to change. I stepped on to the playground and was met with all-around approval from the girls who dressed me up.

"See! This is how you should dress!" She was so proud of herself.

They invited me to participate in a swing race with them. We played together again after lunch.

For a day I felt like I belonged. Why only a day? Well, I brought myself down this time, with my big imagination and my big mouth.

As we sat together on the jungle gym I had an idea. How can I make my stock go up? Make up a fantastic, improbable lie, obviously!

I told the kids I wasn't going to be in class the next day because I had a doctor appointment, but my cousin is visiting and she was going to be allowed to sit in class for me. Oh and by the way, my cousin is from England! Oh, and she's British! Also,she's--wait for it--my twin!

Any of this sound familiar? That's because it's the plot to The Patty Duke Show. 

In summary, my genius plan was to show up at school the next day posing as my own English twin cousin. Sounds pretty cool, right? The kids clearly didn't watch nearly as much Nick at Nite as I did because they seemed to believe me, they even started telling other kids in the class. It occurred to me at the end of the day as I packed up my bag that my plot had many holes in it. If I was going to pull this off, I was going to have to tell my teacher.

I was the last to leave class and she was already at her desk grading papers.

Mrs. Fleming, was sweet but no-nonsense, with a darling pixie cut and she always wore red lipstick--I even still think of her when I wear red lipstick. I approached her at her desk and she looked up at me over her reading glasses.

I stumbled through my story--her stare was killing my confidence--but I walked away assuring myself that she believed me.

As I climbed into the car with my mom I became overcome with guilt. I told a pretty big lie. The absurdity of the lie didn't occur to me, just the fact that I lied. I was still doing time in my evening prayers asking for forgiveness for stealing a lip-gloss, I should be adding lying to my list of sins.

As I buckled myself in I told my mother, "I think I did something bad."

"What did you do?" She asked. Her voice sound strained--like I was about to drop a pretty big bomb.

I felt that I needed to diffuse what could potentially be a huge problem for me. If I acted like it's not that big a deal, then she would definitely find her chill.

"Well, it's not that big a deal. I told the kids in my class that I have an English twin cousin and that she's coming to school for me tomorrow. I told Mrs. Fleming too...but it's not that big of a deal! It's silly!"

The look on her face was not at all filled with amusement the way I hoped it would be. Her mouth was just stuck in a pursed "O" shape.

"Summer Jean, this is a very big deal. That's a huge lie, and it's not funny."

Yes it is, I thought to myself.

"Yes it is!", I said--out loud. Stupid.

"You are going to turn around and go back in there and tell your teacher the truth."

It wasn't rational, but I couldn't believe she wasn't on my side. I couldn't believe she was going to make me actually face my lie so boldly. I could feel my cheeks get hot and I began to cry.

"You can't make me go back in there!" If I cried maybe she'll take pity.

"We're not leaving until you go back in there and tell your teacher the truth." She put the van in park and turned off the engine.

I sat, slack-jawed, for what felt like minutes. I felt numb. I felt stupid. The absurdity of the lie was starting to wash over me. What a genuinely stupid lie.

I climbed out of the mini-van and started what felt like a death march towards the school. I could have done the honorable thing and just fess up. I could have done that. I didn't do that.

As I slowly paced down the polished school linoleum I kicked my brain into gear. Fessing up to lies is the worst. Why should I fess up to a lie when I could just come up with another lie? I can get through this relatively unscathed if I can come up with a really good cover for myself.

Mrs. Fleming was still sitting at her desk grading papers. I approached her desk and she peered up at me over her reading glasses once more.

"Yes, Summer?" Clearly I was encroaching on her time.

"Um, Mrs. Fleming? I just wanted to let you know--" Light-bulb."--that my cousin won't be able to make it tomorrow. She never made it out here. She's sick. She has pneumonia. She actually got sick on the plane. They had to turn it around and take her back to England. I don't know if she's going to make it. A-a-a-a-ny-way...she won't be here tomorrow. I'll be here though! My doctor appointment was canceled. See you tomorrow?"

I don't know what I expected. "Oh sure, no problem! Hope your cousin makes it! See you tomorrow!" Her face registered as utterly un-amused.

She just sighed. "Fine Summer. Good night."

I said good night and left her with her papers. Half of me thought she bought it. The other half knew she didn't, but it didn't matter. I had made myself look like an idiot at my new school--it was over before it could even begin.

The fun wasn't over. My mother demanded to know if I told her the truth, and in the spirit of maintaining an honest relationship with her, I told her that I lied again. She was aghast. She couldn't believe that I had lied again. We went home and I spent the rest of the night alone in my room.

The next day at school I spouted the same lie to the kids. Whether or not they bought it didn't matter. I was relegated to the same obscurity from which I came--not because I couldn't come up with an English twin cousin, but because my clothes looked poor.

Six months later we moved to Castle Rock. My parents were tired of renting in a bad neighborhood, and Castle Rock had better schools.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson. A couple days before I started school at Rock Ridge Elementary I sneak-watched Dirty Dancing. I was obsessed with the dancing in it and practiced in my bedroom wearing my mother's leotard.

On my second day of class I found out the two most popular girls took dance lessons. I boasted to them that I taught lessons, specializing in the dancing from Dirty Dancing. 

Lindsey, the most popular of the two, sneered through her braced teeth. "Our parents would never let us watch that, and I don't need lessons from you." I noted her response and quietly went about my business, once again relegating myself to friendless obscurity.

As I walked home from school that day I noticed another girl from my class walking the same path home as me. I asked if I could walk with her. She said yes, but this doesn't mean we're friends. She also pointed out that my cowboy boots looked ridiculous. They were my dad's boots and I loved them, even if they were too big for me.

That night my mother came into my room to say good night to me. I'll never forget that night, because the room was dark but still bright from the light of a full moon.

She asked me if I wanted to pray. I began to cry.

She wiped the tears from my cheeks. "Why are you crying baby?"

I felt bereft. "I just feel like I'm never going to have a friend. I'm never going to fit in. I don't know how to make friends."

She took my hands and told me to pray about it. I looked at the full moon and squeezed my eyes tight.

"Dear God, I don't have any friends. Please let me make a friend tomorrow."

My mother kissed me good night. I fell asleep crying that night, faithless in my prayer.

The next day as I sat alone on the playground a girl came up and started talking to me. Her name was Shiloy. I told her where I was from, where I lived in the neighborhood. She actually seemed interested in me. After school she walked me to the rain run-off tunnel that I walked through to get to my house. She said we should sit together at lunch the next day.

As I walked through the tunnel I heard the sparrows flapping around, building their spring nests. I smiled as I saw my house walking out of the dark tunnel. I ran the rest of the way home and breathlessly hugged my mother.

To be honest, 25 years later I still struggle with making friends and I still struggle with relating to people. I've stopped telling lies, and I always try to be myself. There's a gap that I struggle crossing--that gap that prevents me from connecting. Maybe it's fear, Maybe I'm a little bit broken.

That day though, I didn't feel broken. I didn't need a fantastic lie. I didn't need Patty Duke or Dirty Dancing.

As I hugged my mother, I looked up at her through tears in my eyes and said, "Jesus answered my prayer. I made a friend today."