30 August, 2022

Tuesday Tirade - TV Tastes

There's a new Game of Thrones show out, which means there's a new crop of "I'm proud to say I've never watched ..." social media posts. 

I've seen posts of this nature for GOT,

for Tiger King,

for the Kardashians,

and other shows I can't think of off the top of my head.

It seems like a weird kind of snobbery. Who cares what you don't watch? Sometimes people go online and ask for recommendations of new shows or movies to watch, but I have never seen anyone ask what they shouldn't watch. (Unless they're asking ironically, to bait the trolls.)

It's probably just a sign of the times. Or a sign of the division inherent with a lot of social media. No discussion can follow a blatant "you are a moron for watching this" post. In real life, if I happened to say something about GOT to someone who hadn't watched it, they might very calmly say, "Oh, I haven't seen it." I don't know. It's never happened yet. It's all on social media.

During Covid, Tiger King was all the rage. Popular opinion is that the boredom of lockdowns had a lot to do with its popularity. Brett watched it. Which means it was often on in the same room with me. I watched the first couple episodes, and decided it wasn't my cup of tea. Still, I'd sit down while it was on sometimes. Why all the rage against a TV show? Or against people finding entertainment in true-crime drama? (Because that's what it is.)

I hadn't intended to watch Game of Thrones, either. I knew it was based on an unfinished series of books. (and honestly, the books are really fat and the covers looked boring.) One day a few years ago, Brett and I were talking about what to watch that night, and I said, "I feel like watching something with dragons," to which he said, "Hey! I'm pretty sure that Game of Thrones show has dragons in it!" So we started the series and liked it well enough to keep going.

I am a snob in my own right, but generally I keep it to myself. In my life I have considered myself a coffee snob, a beer snob, and yes, a movie snob.

But I'm older and wiser now. What you think is good coffee is fine, just please don't make me drink it! 

I still feel that I'm a beer snob, but I drink a lot of cheap Asian beer anyway. 

I've married someone with very different taste in movies than I prefer, and he is a bit snobby about it, as I am. (sorry Brett) BUT we make it work and we respect each other and can have a civilized discussion about our very different tastes.

So basically, with age I've learned the wisdom that everyone is different, and as long as they aren't hurting people, their choices are their own. What someone watches doesn't hurt you, so stop being a snob about it!

24 August, 2022

Tuesday Tardiness (Wednesday)

Yes, yes, I missed yesterday. I'm missing a lot of days, but that's okay.

I wanted to follow up from last week, since I expressed a lot of mixed emotions about my recent interactions with our new neighbor.

We had coffee together, out at a coffee shop, just the two of us. As I expected, it went well. I learned about her life, her past, found out a bit more about her situation, and just had a pleasant time. She is a devoted mother, going through a divorce, and working from home. 

She did not spend the time on her cell phone, as she did when she came to our house. However, after about a half hour or so of talking, she pulled the phone out to show me a picture of something, and soon I was immersed in picture after picture of her kids. Just the little ones. Who I know already.

Now, I like her kids. They are sweet girls. But I'm not, in general, a "kid person". They are fine. But I know what her kids look like. In this case - two little girls under the age of three - they haven't changed a lot. Most of the pictures looked the same to me, but we saw picture after picture after picture. 

She really loves her kids. It's sweet, how happily she will spend 20 minutes just flipping through the pictures. Kind of how - back in the day - old people would pull out photo albums and tell their grandkids all about each and every photo.

Anyway, we saw her again out in the street by our house the other night, and I've invited her to a wellness event I like to go to. We're still friends, and boundaries have been established. I think all is well.

Now excuse me, I have to go lie down. I've been way too social in these last couple weeks, so I'm always exhausted.

17 August, 2022

Tuesday Tales - #IntrovertProblems

Oops! I'm a day late.

I'm way off this week. It's been exhausting. We have new neighbors. She's as social as I am introverted.

Let me be clear: I like this woman. She's nice, she seems intelligent (although we haven't had any deep conversation yet), her kids are nice... I know she's reaching out and trying to make more friends in the community, so I'm being as social as I can, but there comes a point when I crash. I'm "out of spoons" if you know the Spoon Theory.

First, we'd see her in the street. Or see the nanny bouncing the baby on her knee in their front portico. The baby loves Brett. Of course she does; all children do. The toddler loves him too, but we don't see her as often.

Then, one day, our gate was open and she and the baby came over.

Cultural note: In Vietnam - or at least in this area - if you're home, everything is open. Windows and doors, to keep the air flowing in the tropical summer. The gate, if you're open to guests (I suppose. That's how I read it anyway.) During Covid, we were pretty diligent about keeping the gate shut, but we're more relaxed now.

So she and the baby came into the house. { This is extremely unusual! We do not entertain! } We all sat in the living room, the baby mostly interacting with Brett. There was some conversation, but she was easily distracted by her phone. I know she works "online" so I imagine she must be working all the time.

It was nice and friendly. I had a positive feeling after that interaction.

The next day, she came over with the baby and another little girl ("my maid's niece"). I was in the back room, relaxing in the bean bag with a book, when Brett came back to inform me that "we have guests". So I abandoned my book and did my hostess-ly duty to come and be social. The neighbor was more on her phone this time, but still social.

Two days later, she came over with the baby and the toddler. I was working on my computer, but abandoned my work to sit and be social. She was on her phone most of the time.

By now, I believe Brett has inadvertently taken the role of surrogate father. Maybe the dad travels, maybe they're divorced - not my business - but commandeering my husband so your baby can get snuggles is not cool. ... if that's what's going on. I don't know! She's on her phone all the time!

The other night, we came home late and she was sitting by her gate. Seeing us pull up she immediately invited us over for coffee. We declined because at that hour we'd never sleep. The next morning I woke to a message on my phone inviting me to join her for coffee. I do not answer any messages (unless urgent, from family) until after I've done my meditation, exercise, and usually not until I'm dressed and ready for the day. This time, after my workout, I messaged back to suggest that she and I go out for coffee later this week. 

I'm looking forward to our coffee tomorrow. Maybe, away from children and husband, we can actually talk. Really, I want to be a good neighbor. I do value having a friendly neighbor. We just need to establish boundaries. Especially because my "office" is out in the open plan living-dining-kitchen area, so I'm visible from the street. I need it to be known that my being visible doesn't mean that I am available.

Brett can set his own boundaries. If he wants to walk the street with a 1yo in his arms for 20 minutes in the afternoon, that's his business.

...Re-reading this, I realize I've painted a very negative picture. I'm not going to edit it: these are my first impressions. As I've said, she's nice, smart, and I look forward to getting to know her better... but my introverted nature can't hold up under constant social bombardment.

13 August, 2022

Fiction Friday - Fighting Giants

I read the Bible every year, and catch myself thinking about backstories to characters that are not told. For example: A lot is said about four of the disciples. What about the others? What was Adam and Eve's relationship like before the fall into sin? How awful/exciting would it have been to live on the ark for all those months? Today's prompt came from my husband, who wondered aloud what David's older brothers might have gone through watching their youngest sibling kill a giant.

The horn sounded, instigating a flurry of activity in the camp. My brothers and I left our breakfast and hurried to rejoin our units and form the battle lines. It was a daily humiliation: That giant Philistine taunts us for a bit, with no movement in the battle. We were in a stalemate. He was calling for one-on-one combat, but no one was stupid enough to try to fight Goliath! 

"Eliab!" I thought I'd heard that familiar voice talking with some of my fellow soldiers. Sure enough, when I turned to the voice I saw my youngest brother David standing there.

Like I didn't have enough pressure! "Why are you here? Where are your sheep? You heard the battle horn didn't you? Just have to see the battle, huh?"

"What have I done wrong?"

"Go away. You shouldn't be here."

"Oh, but Dad sent down some bread and cheese. It's with the supply master." I glared at him and David turned to walk away. What a relief. It was bad enough that he came down at times to play the harp for King Saul; he had no business with the battle.

My relief was short-lived when I saw David further down the line, questioning soldiers. I could hear one of them explaining, "Yeah, the king will give anything to the one who..." It was well-known in the camp that if anyone succeeded in killing Goliath the reward would be great. But he was nine feet tall! He was a giant - solid muscle, with weapons too strong to go against. It was madness.

Soon, David had run off into the center of the camp. "Good thing, too," I thought. "Stay with the supply master, or better yet, go home."

The sun rose higher, shortening our shadows, as we stood in un-moving battle lines. My leg was starting to cramp, when I noticed movement near the center of the line. I took advantage of the distraction to stamp the cramping leg and watch. King Saul was coming from his tent in the camp and soldiers were parting the way. Like everyone else, I stared, dumbfounded. He rarely left his tent these days.

Wait. He was leading... David? The king's armor bearer was laden with all the battle armor, but David wasn't wearing any. "What is he doing?" I muttered. 

"Eliab, isn't that your brother?"

"Yeah...but," I was too far to hear, but King Saul, his armor bearer, and David stopped behind the line and talked for a moment. I groaned in embarrassment. David was in the king's presence more often than I was, with his harp and music. Just never in public. I'd never hear the end of this.

The lines parted and my little brother walked through to the front. I couldn't see him through the soldiers, but could see the movement. So could Goliath. From his height, he could see everything. He was already laughing when David came out in front. "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" he bellowed.

Great. Now, thanks to my kid brother, we've pissed off the giant! His taunts were more personal now, like he was offended. Then he stopped and appeared to be listening. Oh no, what flowery words was David saying? I couldn't hear everything, but his voice rose a few times. "...I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty..." mutter, murmur, "...For the battle is the Lord's..."

Why did he have to shoot his mouth off at Goliath of all people? My heart was in my stomach as I saw Goliath moving forward, raising his spear. He was going to skewer my brother! David might be a pain, but he was still my brother.

Then there was a whoosh, and the whole company gasped to see a rock land deep in Goliath's forehead. His eyes crossed and he collapsed. 

No way. Soon the Philistines were running and we had to pursue them, but I stopped when I got up to the giant's body and saw David lifting the head out of the dirt. He'd cut it off after Goliath fell. David looked up at me and smiled as if this was just a normal day. I had no words, but a lot of questions.

"Eliab! Come on!" My questions would have to wait. Duty called.

Reference: The story of David and Goliath is told in the book of  I Samuel, chapter 17. The Bible does tell us that Eliab was less than happy to see David, but not a lot more than that about Eliab.

09 August, 2022

Tuesday Typeset - Book Report Time!

(There's no good "T" word for a book report.)

I recently finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. And I have thoughts. (Don't worry, No spoilers)

I saw the movie years ago. Have you seen it? If you have, you can understand why I wish I'd read the book before seeing the movie. I knew where it was going. But at least I didn't remember all the details. So as things unfolded I could either remember, or wonder - "Wait, was that bit in the movie or not?" And now I'm tempted to watch it again to compare.

But only a little tempted.

For being an edge-of-your-seat thriller of a movie, the book managed to be "put-downable". I think a big part of that is how the book is laid out. There are two main protagonists. NOT A SPOILER: By the title, you can guess that there is a "girl" and she is "gone". The other protagonist is the primary person seeking her. 

The book is written in alternating perspectives: the missing person, and the seeking person. So at the end of each chapter, you know automatically that the particular part of the story you just finished will not be continued in the next chapter. Put. Down. Able. 

I started Gone Girl near the end of June and just finished it two days ago. That's a long time for 415 pages!

The whole way through, you know who you are rooting for. But by the end I was left with a feeling that the main characters (more than just the protagonists) were pretty undesirable people.  Bleah.

I wouldn't want to be like any of them.
I hope I'm not. 

But I wish I could write characters like that. Flynn did a good job of making sure no one in the story is universally "bad", but overall, after reading about this whole event, they come out unlikable. Still... I'm left with the realization that in my own writing, people tend to be "nice". Boring. I think I need to work on that!

I gave it ⭐⭐⭐⭐ because it was well-written. The story was engaging and the characters were well-rounded. I do recommend it. Maybe if you read it, don't put it down each time you know the perspective will change, and you might get through it faster than I did! 

So, reader, any book recommendations? Comment below!

06 August, 2022

Fiction Friday - Safety

Devon chewed his cuticles in the darkened theater. How long would this last? He scrunched his knees up and tried to curl into a ball in the seat. Maybe indoors, in the warmth, he could grab some zz's. A storm was raging outside, and it had been building up for the last three days. He couldn't sleep out there.

Devon was on the run. It wasn't his fault! He'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now the Rostro gang were after him.

He shuddered and pulled his coat tighter around him. They'd got him, once. That's why he was running now. He didn't know anything. He didn't have whatever it was they thought he had. They didn't believe him. So yesterday when he saw his chance, he'd made a run for it. He had to knock one guy out with a makeshift club. Hopefully that guy wasn't dead. Devon wasn't a killer.

He couldn't go home. They had his ID, so they knew his address. Devon had to use one of the small bills he always kept in his shoe to buy a ticket at this retro-theater. He didn't want to spend much money at all, not knowing how long he'd be running. 

The theater played oldies, so tickets were cheap. This week was all John Hughes. That was good. There were a lot of people, so he could get lost in the crowd. Devon had taken a seat in the back row, corner, where he could lean his head back and sleep. If sleep would come. 

Even as he tried to relax, Devon's mind was running full-steam ahead. If he could somehow manage to stay in this theater, hidden, would he be safe? At least he'd be out of the storm. That thought gave him some comfort. As long as he didn't screw himself by getting caught before they locked up tonight.

Safety was a relative thing. Safe for now was good, but how long could he keep this up?


Every Almost every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

02 August, 2022

Tuesday Trauma - And Then And Then And Then

Whew! I have good reasons for being absent lately, but I hope I'll be back soon. (not really "trauma" but, well, read on.)

You know about the bike accident. That was on a Monday.

And Then... that Friday we were called in for our 4th Covid shot. So I was standing around in a crowded "line" for an hour, trying not to get jostled. Walking was okay by then - slight limp - but if I stepped wrong or was bumped and twisted, I felt a twinge in that pulled tendon area. So I was a bit tentative and probably easily irritated. Plus it was hot and crowded.

And Then... we had set an appointment at a tattoo studio for the 25th. That was one week after injury and I was sitting and holding my leg still for about two hours. This appointment had been set a month ago. It wasn't too bad, didn't strain my injury much, but meant being upright and not elevating it for that time. I was still in the "rest and elevate" part of recuperating. So I rested it more in the coming days. Good thing I had planned to rest and not go too far afield, because things got worse. Not the leg, just in general...

(And Then...) It had actually started Monday morning, when I woke with a sore throat. Of course. Covid vaccine, Covid symptoms. I hadn't had too much pain around the injection site and counted myself lucky. Not so lucky, it turns out! The sore throat faded that Monday, and didn't keep me from my appointment, but the next day and the next were worse. And then the lungs (a bit), and then the sinuses. Stupid Pfizer. This mess is annoying! Astra-Zeneca was kind to me!

And Then... The daughter of an old colleague of mine from my theatre in Delaware has been in Vietnam a couple weeks, and this past Sunday they made it to my town! So of course we had to meet up so I could show off some of my favorite places! This lovely, fun, interesting woman was a kid when I was in Delaware, so I "knew" her, but only in the way a 20-something "knows" the kids that participate in an event with them. I think we were in Oliver! together, and maybe one of the Christmas shows. It was fun to catch up, but it became a very, very late night for us old fogeys!

And Then... Since the Covid jab side-effects started, I have not had a decent night's sleep even once. Well, maybe once. I thought I was out of the woods until I stayed out past midnight with the youngsters. Now I'm back on the insomnia circuit.

July has never been my favorite month. It's just traditionally not kind to me. Do you have a good or bad month of the year?

Now it's August. I have high hopes.