HOT/POETRY

It’s been over a week of record high temps. I do mean well over a hundred for most of June. I recently traveled to La Grande, to meet with a friend of mine who has family in the area and is traveling further to Lincoln City, Oregon. Hot. It was hotter than those inedible Takis burn holes in your tongue snacks. La Grande is in the mountains. I do not recall my undergrad town being almost too hot to go outside, not even once. In June. Or any other summer month. Unusual weather we’re having here in the West.

So, here’s a poem. I have no idea where this one arrived from. But here it is. Maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia. My family would gather, both sides, during holidays. My grandfather loved loved loved Fourth of July. Both did, actually. But my dad’s dad would order fireworks, then delight in shooting them off or having one of us light the fuse. Roman candles, those ones that spin and fly, bottle rockets, everything illegal that would set giant fires, woot woot. Maybe I am missing the sense of celebration, family now scattered or passed on…maybe maybe maybe. That careless ignorance that such gatherings would never stop. Of course they do. Time marches like a savage merciless army through everything and everyone, after all.

JESSICA IN THE GARDEN

Catnip and thyme, basil and lavender.

Her left hand tugs at the leaves,

caresses the stems.

She will smell like spaghetti sauce

and old lady purses

when she wanders by.

She eats a banana while standing on one leg,

her eyes on the cat chasing the dog

through the new mown grass.

They put bananas on hooks,

some sly wit tells the child.

Maybe that’s where bananas go,

Jessica replies

before arranging the rocks she painted

into odd and various piles.

The Good Girl

My aunt raises marijuana. It’s legal to do so now in Oregon, for some years now. She has a small operation, it gets harvested in October. Or when it’s ready, which is usually October. Takes about two weeks for thirteen to twelve plants. There’s roughly two to three people working a day, on weekends it’s more. You sit and trim the buds off the branches. It’s tedious, mind-erasing work.

The trimmed buds are then ‘ground’ up. This cuts off the excess leaves and such, turns everything into a round green or purple or amber ball that is then dried in a sealed container. It’s all labeled. Every plant has a name. You don’t just trim the stuff willy-nilly! You don’t mix the Blue Diesel in with the Girl Scout Cookie, after all. Bad!

Okay. All righty. Let’s skip the boring part. How weed gets into your bong or rolling papers you can all look up. It’s a process. It’s farming. Farming is really boring stuff to those not farming. Or is it? Do y’all wanna know how onions get to your table? Ask me, I know.

So, as I’ve disclosed, I’ve been working for the US Census. That work was supposed to end in September. Yet a California court case said, no, you will continue through Halloween! We at the Census got many a conflicting order and hysterical message and now we’re going through Halloween; at least, that’s what I know as of right now. When I told my aunt I could trim for her, I thought my Census job would be over and I could work for her no problem, with no other job drawing away my attention and time.

Yeah. What is it about those well-laid plans? Something about mice?

Oh dear. I block out the conservations that go on around me when I strip the buds from the branches.

The racism. The sexism. All the isms you can imagine that deal with human rights and who should be counted as a human and who should actually have rights or not. Yep. In years past I don’t remember it being this bad or this loathsome.

My aunt has a new boyfriend. Her husband died of a heart attack. Her second husband. They were together quite a long time. It was very sudden and horrible and I actually liked him. She did quite badly with his sudden demise but now seems okay again. The new boyfriend, by the way…is a dead ringer for her deceased husband. Even his voice is similar. It’s a bit eerie, to be honest. Did she deliberately go alley catting for a replica or what??? Prolly not. I might be watching too many sci fi switcheroo bad aliens imitating humans movies or something. Mm.

I’ve been exposed to COVID. I’m seated at a table well away from my aunt, the new boytoy and the boytoy’s elder brother. None of them are wearing masks. I’m far enough away but still should be wearing one, yes. I try not to go near anyone that much but…I am careless and ill at ease and am just counting down how many hours I have to do before I can BOLT LIKE A RABID HYENA. I figure at least five to six.

I start itching by then, getting headaches [probably from grinding my teeth or chewing on my own tongue rather than start screaming like some demented suffragette in a town square full of mockers] and wanting out out out.

Social anxiety or just don’t wanna be there around these assclowns no more syndrome.

For the Census, by the way, I wear my mask religiously. Every time I approach a door or have to talk to someone. I want that on record.

So in walks a friend of my aunt’s. I’ll call him Percival. Not even close to his very ordinary common name but yeah. I’m petty.

Percival, to me, is the name of a small diseased dog rotting slowly away from the inside on a stained sofa cushion. Someone’s too pampered pooch on its last legs but with enough venom to bite you if really necessary.

So “Percival” swaggers in, with his cheese grater of a laugh. No, really. I feel my skin grated off every time he sniggers. Urh urh urh. I try to be pleasant and not let his presence ANNOY THE EVER-LIVING JIM DANDY FUCK OUTTA ME.

I am at the back of the shed, after all. I am head down, cutting away, filling my giant pan with buds, buds, buds. Snip snip, gloves getting sticky. You have to wear gloves to trim. Fresh Mary Jo is like handling syrup-sticky toddlers. Better done with gloves and protective gear.

Percival is jovial, radiating good will and has brought donuts. Yay. I didn’t have breakfast. So I have a donut. I’m polite but cool. I’ve made it clear before I am not a fan of his. So. Yeah.

And then…it starts. Percival makes some tired joke about trans people. And then descends into a truly angry outburst about knowing who you are based on if you have a dick or a pussy. Everyone laughs and nods and is having a good ole time with this. I am…speechless. I…miss a chance to correct this. To say something.

Anything. Say anything at all, really.

Because I was taught to be the good girl and be quiet rather than cause a fuss. I was told I was nasty or mean or awful if I questioned what was said around me by the men of my family.

I learned women are quiet or go along with whatever flows from the lips of the menfolk…and take them apart in private. Rather like slaves would. Slaves who pretend all is well and good, then clutch at each other behind the scenes, when they don’t have to perform, exclaiming their actual opinions. Letting their real voices chime for a bit, when it’s safe to do so.

Oh. I learned this too well.

I speak out at the wrong times, say the wrong awful cutting things and stay silent when my voice is needed. I am ashamed of this tendency. Ashamed.

I am the good girl. The good German who does what’s told and doesn’t cause problems. Oh yes.

So from bashing transgender folks, it went to, yes, the coloreds.

The coloreds. The N word wasn’t said. There’s…that. I guess.

I got to hear how any road with MLK in the title of it should be avoided. Because you knew you’d get murdered for your shoes on such a road going past such a neighborhood.

I learned that there’s crime in big cities, and that the crime is them coloreds stealing everything as they killed you dead! Usually for your Nikes.

Yeah. I probably had my lips scaled back by then and my teeth bared. New boyfriend of aunt is also popping off with remarks about the coloreds. It’s hard to breathe. Hearing this sort of thing said so casually. The hate in the air like wildfire smoke.  Hard to breathe, hard to breathe in this now.

And I failed to speak up.

I am the only liberal in my family that I know of. Everyone else is an avid Fox News junkie. It’s…stomach-turningly hideous. I hear it all around me all the time. It’s that dream where you’re drowning but you never quite drown all the way.

I bolt. I see it’s near noon. I’ve been there since eight or so. Enough. Boytoy is outside, with the cart to go cut some more MJ. I have to drive past him, his steady glare a sign they will discuss me thoroughly, have discussed me thoroughly already…

I don’t wish to hate my aunt. She agrees with whatever man has spoken last. I’ve heard her say women are not as intelligent as men. I’ve seen her make up drunken Christmas songs about her own kid and then call that same kid a traitor…her drinking an epic family cringe-worthy festival in years past. Yet she is one of the kindest people I know. A hard worker, she…ugh.

Family is complicated, says the poets and playwrights and homeless guitar player singing about his brother.

It was like attending a mini klan rally or maybe the part afterword where they all meet for some fellowship. And I wanted no part of it. I want no future part of such sentiments and expressions and beliefs as theirs. I have no wish to nod along to Percival’s garbage take of race or gender or anything else, really.

I keep waiting to fit into my own family. I realize I never will. I realize I will never accept that and keep waiting. Keep waiting. I cannot mouth the things they do. I cannot endorse their casual hatreds and ignorances but I can be the good girl, go silent and hope I win their approval at last.

But I never will.

I am the odd duck. The not-pretty one. The fat one. The one without a man. The loser. The writer who’s not Stephen King level. The…yep. The list of negatives extends well into and past eternity here.

2020 is an awful year. It might be the year I break with my family, avoid them from now on. I can’t flee anywhere, not with…well, maybe another post I’ll go into that sad pickle of a situation I could have avoided by getting knocked up at seventeen, getting into meth real hard, then turning my life around or not.

This has been a perhaps too-honest post. I have learned not to share anything of myself with anyone. I seem to get rejected bigly when I do. People don’t like me when I’m sad. Or I get told I’m just attention-seeking. Or I get called a bitch or a cunt or that I’m mean and nasty…When I can’t control the confusion and fog in my head anymore. Hello, depression. Ain’t you fun.

So I hide the sadness, the rage, the pain…until I can’t. And then I’m usually alone anyway, with a razor blade in one hand. Considering some stuff. Considering.

And tamping it all down again. To be that good girl my mama so wanted. And never ever really got.

After all, my family already barely tolerates me. What more harm can I do to my family’s image of me by making it clear such talk as I overheard is not okay with me? Lots.

There’s the rub, aye. But it’s not okay. I am not okay with such shallow shit as Percival and the two dork brothers bleated out all morning with my aunt playing anxious drums  in the background. As she tried to not be so bossy. Her words.

Her words. I guess there were two good girls trimming buds today.

To Post or Not to Post

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The Yakima River. Not sure who took this or what year this is. Washington State.

Hi again. Double post. Sorrynotsorry whatever. 

I always hesitate about posting some long rambling ranty rant that goes in every direction at once. Most of the time I don’t post those. Thank me with chocolate. I’ll also take your spare change or that coupon that’s stuck to your garbage can for two for one cans of creamed corn at the Piggly-Wiggly. That would mean a road trip for me, but I will accept out of date Piggly-Wiggly coupons because I didn’t post some unreadable screed on postmodern-retro tropes in feminist Marxist socialist anarchist subgenres of indie films that start with the letter J. 

However, sometimes I need to clear the writing pipes. 

As I’ve been uncharacteristically not writing at all lately, any sort of attempting to write seems a triumph. An actual triumph over my lackluster, nearly dead and gone to hell already spirit. 

So yeah, posting the occasional heavy-handed scream against the evils of the universe is gonna happen. Along with updates on my cat and my garden and the state of my sludge-slapped brain. What else, I ask ya, is a blog fer??? 

I am also trying to force myself to just write something, anything. To get back into practice. It’s very hard to concentrate. I have projects I need to get done that in years past I’d have whipped out,  many times over. I was oddly very productive once upon a time. It’s galling now. 

So yeah. Trying not to care how unpopular and unseen my writing is. I expected so much more by the time I hit this age and I can’t seem to slap myself into working toward fixing that at all right now. Just want to sleep. 

Just wanna sleep. 

 

afterward: thank you as always for reading my stuff. I appreciate it. 

 

 

 

 

July Hash Post

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Storm about to hit plus the old locust tree. June 2020 pic. That’s a corn field behind it. 

The fireworks and dog and pony show are now over until next year. That’s Fourth of July to those not in ‘murica. I did not attend my family’s gathering. I have actually been trying to follow guidelines about public safety and not helping spread this pandemic about as hard and fast as possible. I guess I hate ‘freedumb’. I guess I hates it really damn hard or sumpin. Wear a mask, love the devil! That’s America right now!

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A Jimmy Johns employee makes a noose out of dough cause…BLM is the real problem here, obviously. Just head-exploding…yeah. 

Okay. Before I just start typing every cuss word every invented and calling upon Satan to curse my own with pus-filled painful boils for their MAGA-filled bullshit cunty cunt…Okay. Okay. See what I mean? Just a screaming unintelligible stream of consciousness filthy river that I hope will drown the world in a river of actual liquid feces infected with exploding small pox so we can be done with all this. Amen.

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is there an American equivalent of Ms. Salt? 

Ahem.

My mood has traveled to a low point in the life highway. Eh. What’s new. Except the sheer awfulness that is America right now seems to be a permanent stain on whatever composition is actually me. It’s tiring and stultifying.

The hits never stop; they pound relentlessly against the already torn fabric of this country and the world itself. Fraud. Lies. Greed. More lies. More damned lies. Mountains of lies. Victim playing while causing even more damage. Temper tantrums because the likes aren’t high enough from the press. Ratings are bad, temper tantrums, we all get punished.

Daddy isn’t happy! You earned that broken bone, America! Why do you make Orange Daddy hit you??? That black eye is YOUR FAULT FOR MAKING DADDY MAD AT YOU

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Oh. Here we go. Bear with me a bit. I apologize if I mangle this.

I’d go into the J.K. Rowling brohouha but others have done it so much better, so much more elegantly, with far more understanding that I do of this terf issue. I had no idea what a terf was until lately. TERF– trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

That’s a head scratcher. Why would you exclude entire groups from feminism? What would be the point and…? Oh, prejudice and ignorance and a host of some other stuff and things, got it. 

I will also state that trans people are people, the end.

Someone identifying as another gender or being gender-fluid or anything in between that—please understand I am not an expert in this and sorry if I state things wrong or badly—has no effect on me, my life or anything to do with me. It doesn’t detract from me or subtract from me that someone else is not like me or doesn’t identify in a way that I understand right off the bat. It might take me a moment to wrangle out details, word meanings, words used, terminology, etc. But I will try and understand, read up, listen up, catch up. It’s not my struggle, but it doesn’t mean it’s not real for others going through all this in some way or another.

Sometimes I don’t instantly receive all the changed anything to do with this issue of transgenderism and gender in general…I have to catch up, read up, watch something. I try to listen, instead of offering opinions and getting testy and defensive. I also, frankly, become afraid of SAYING OR WRITING THE WRONG THING about trans people or marginalized folks.

Because I know I have misconceptions, prejudices, wrong takes, hasty assumptions all just waitin’ to brand me a big ole idiot with poo for brains. I, like others, have no real need to be embarrassed or shamed, like, ever.

But.

How can you learn anything if you don’t venture into the unknown field of New Ideas and New Notions and Brand New Stuff That’s Scary At First To Explore. You might even get bogged down in It’s Always Been This Way Swamp. Ugh, amirite?

There is more than one way to be a woman, far more than Rowling and others in her camp cling to. You can only be a woman if you menstruate…? Um, no. Geez. That’s so obvious it shouldn’t even be offered forth as a reason to deny people basic rights and/or try to legislate them out of existence.

I understand Rowling’s essay, quotes from it, have been used as part of legislators trying to get laws passed against trans people. So, her views are actively and actually hurting people. I am not okay with that.

I am not okay with that!

Yes, read all the Harry Potter books. I did notice some troubling stuff. The 50’s perfect family conservative vibe, for one. The house elves…ick. The goblins…yikes, or was it just me who wondered why the goblins resembled the hoary stereotypes of Jews that people still vomit up to this day?

And Dumbledore being gay…after the last book was out and selling in the billions. It’s…yeah. Was it said in any of the books? No. Suddenly there’s a hot and heavy affair between Dumbledore and Grindelwald that wasn’t written about in any of the books? I…mm. Why not just be open from the start, write this side of Dumbledore into the story from the get-go? Why pretend it was there all along when it so clearly was not?

The females of this world get short thrift as well. They’re either stereotypical moms, like Mrs. Weasely or hard-nosed grim types, like McGonnagal, or shrill shrews, like most of the other female characters or love interests with no real layers to them, like Cho Chang or even Ginny Weasely. Hermione is the scolding, annoying rule keeper to the two boys being rule breaking adventurous risk-takers. Which is the backbone of Western literature, after all. Sigh.

I am all over the map here, with lots of profanity thrown in. Woot woot.

I am also not writing. I just. My brain seems very empty. Tumbleweeds don’t even bother blowing past the sad line of fences leaning here and there inside my skull. I should be almost done with the current rewrite of a film…This about the worst actual case of Don’t Wanna I’ve had. I just don’t see the point anymore in writing for love or money. Mostly love cause nobody gives a piece of toast about anything I string together; that might be the acute depression mumbling. Might be.

I seem to be waiting for the awful other shoe to drop here in my country. So I can adjust and get on with resisting in the correct way. As those that I’m protesting against have decreed are the correct ways to protest! So they don’t get upset or have to think or have to do anything at all, really but totally ignore my protesting. And then nothing changes and we all go on as before until another forty years has passed and there’s a need for protesting and…

Woot. However, things do change. They do. It just seems to take generations for actual change to register. Plant a tree today. Be buried a long time before that tree gets cut down to make way for more condos. It’s kinda like that.

Hopeful note!

I have a mini green pumpkin growin’ away. It’s so cute! I want to give it kisses and talk to it like I talk to puppies. Hey there, cutie pie! Oh you’re so cute! How are you so cute!? Baby pumpkin breath…No. No, that’s a garden too far.

Zooey

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Zooey, played by Jane Levy. Mitch, Peter Gallagher. Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist, NBC

I thought I was prepared for the finale of Zooey’s Extraordinary Playlist, the singing show. Where the manic pixie girl watches/hears people singing songs while dancing; usually about their inner thoughts. If you don’t know this show, it’s fine. This is not a review of it nor do you need to have an intimate knowledge of the minutia associated with this series.

The gut-wrenching heart of this show is Zooey’s dad dying. He has PSP, he’s non-verbal, he’s sliding slowly toward the grave. Or not so slowly, as the disease seems determined to ravish him, as diseases do. Odd choice for a generally happy idea show. To have the dad be robbed of movement and voice, and have this so darkly reflect in the lives of the characters. And how honest this show was about, well mostly, about what it’s like to have someone you love dying day by day by day. How fucking hard that is.

Where you clean up after them. Where you find yourself giving shots. Doing meds. Changing bedding right after an accident. Where you check tubes to make sure they’re not blocked. Where you hope the biggest hopes ever at the slightest uptick of progress. Maybe death won’t have to be faced so soon.

So, the finale of Zooey.

I sat there, watching. I thought it would be cutesy or they’d try something lighthearted or not so goddamn real.

That’s what this episode, despite all the singing and dancing and frothy who will Zooey choose man collection…got so right. How unreal, floaty, numbing and confusing death is when it arrives. Even when expected. Even when death sits on our couch to wait with us. It’s still a wrenching shock, a cry against something so ghastly unfair. It’s not welcome, it’s not that welcome friend at all.

I wept. I don’t mean the sniffing and tears of an ordinary sad or even that episode where something lovely happens, that longed for couple gets together or whatever. I mean weeping. Wrenched from me. This was like looking down at my mother, in the ICU, hooked to machines. How it wasn’t her anymore. It wasn’t her. That meat and bone and skin was not my mother. Where she was, she was not present in that round cool place in the heart of Boise, Idaho.

And knowing she had been gone a while before that fateful last day of hers. That I had missed her going. That I had spent more than a year of my life trying to keep her alive. That the cancer eating her up won. Won such a decisive victory. That I was the one who decided when the machines got turned off. That I had to make such a decision at all. 

And my anger, my confusion, my utter blood-soaked pain. I heard no music. I didn’t get a sign she was ‘okay now’. I didn’t get the last words that told me…she knew her horrible daughter had done her best. I didn’t get to tell her.

So many things.

One thing the Zooey finale got wrong was how neat and tidy death seems. That the transition from life to death is such a tidy affair. It was hinted, by the caretaker to the dad, that death is messy, awful, terrible. An actual truth. They’d done the episode picking out plots and coffins. This family seems made of money so there’s nothing about the sheer cost of death itself.

Just a few thoughts on a show I’ve enjoyed thoroughly. It broke into my inner little sanctum, and I relieved those moments waiting to hear my mother had died. How that still seems as fresh as a bouquet of funeral daisies.  

Some Pose and Some Thoughts

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Indya Moore as Angel. 

“Houses are homes to all the little boys and girls who never had one, and they keep coming every day just as sure as the sun rises.” – Pray Tell, 1987

 

Pose covers an area I didn’t know existed. Where transgender people oversee a house full of their ‘children’. They live together, support each other and ready themselves for balls. Where competitions are held, prizes given, for various categories. Costumes, wigs, poses, dances…with an announcer giving running commentary and judges judging by holding up cards with numbers. It’s set in the late eighties, early nineties at the height of the AIDS crisis, exacerbated by Reagan and by general ignorance and fear of this disease. This is before Rent came out. This is during Madonna’s Vogue period…and I get to learn where she got the inspiration for that song. It’s from the people who run the balls and compete in them. The vogue-ing, so to speak, became a craze that showcased this private world and seemed to promise acceptance and even love for the people others found frightening or laughable.

So, if you have no idea this show is even on, go watch it. It’s entertaining, heart-breaking and a look into the actual history of America during Reagan and Bush. A reminder that we have arrived far from that time and yet need to ensure our progress forward with the LGTBQ community [sorry if I am behind on recent labels being used here] continues. I am not gay, but I can sympathize and want the best for others not like me. My empathy exists yet. It’s rather how I ache for what’s going on at the border with those seeking an end to what’s going on in their own countries. The horrors that made them become refugees. Because I can and do understand why they’d leave.

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From left to right. Hailie Sahar, Indya Moore, Dominque Jackson, Angelica Ross and Mj Rodriguez. 

As I did work in Honduras for a bit. I saw firsthand what it was like there. I watched soldiers with guns bigger than they were guarding the banks. Military presence. Scary ass military presence. I saw how women and children were treated. Badly. Women had no recourse if abused or under threat or raped. None. No shelters, the police would laugh in their faces or deliver them back home to the very men who were beating the shit out of them. Their families, staunch Christians all, would look down on a woman wishing to leave such a situation. Abortion? Yeah, no. Birth control? Eh. I told a father in a teacher meeting that his daughter could be doing a bit better. I said this cavalierly. I expected such a common thing to say would have the consequence of dad going home and making sure his daughter did her homework…and instead, he went home, took off his belt and beat the shit out of this fourth grader. I mean left bruises, welts and cuts kind of beating. Because of some careless words I said.

So yes, I get why people are fleeing Honduras and Guatemala and other places in Central America. San Pedro Sula is the murder capital of the world. Go look that up. I never felt unsafe in China. I traveled around there by myself and felt fine. I never feared I’d get hurt or killed. Honduras scared me. I admit it. Not just the giant bugs, but how flimsy my doors were. If anything happened, I was on my own.

A man known to us teachers followed me home one night, drunk and raving. And I got myself into my house, without being raped. I was shaken. I told what happened to my fellow teachers, and that’s where it ended. He was told to leave me alone, by two of the other teachers, and…no local cops. I’d have been laughed at or worse, told I should have enjoyed the attention.

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Billy Porter as Pray Tell.

Pose. Before I jump into my brief time failing utterly in Honduras.

What this show does so well is reveal the humanity of people we’ve been taught to think of as subhuman or demons or laughable clowns. The drag queens. The transgenders. The queers. The gays. The…all the other names here. Yes, the campiness is there, the over the top performances, the volatile personalities rubbing against each other, sometimes literally. But we get to see the vulnerability, the heartache, the losses. We get to see young kids kicked out of their homes and taken in by these mothers who run the various houses. We get to see the every day struggle of being who you are when the world tells you you should be dead or hidden away. The sheer courage it takes to step out of your door each day.

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Janet Mock. From zimbio.

It’s written by people like Janet Mock. It’s written from some other perspective than straight people imagining what this world is like and getting most of it wrong. Women have had to endure centuries of men writing about them as if they were fragile idiots or gold-seeking harpies. Or even that women don’t matter at all in the scheme of things or across the webs of history itself. Women writers were few and far between. And to get published, they also had to follow the formulas. Or write anonymously or under a male non de plume. This is a whole post by itself, of course.

Pose, before I get distracted!

I happened to catch the very first episode of season one last year. It was fantastic. The acting hit it out of the ball park. The storytelling. The shadow over these people called AIDS. The excessive consumerism era that was the late eighties. The community presented who seemed every nationality out there, not just 99% glow in the dark white, 1% ‘other than white’. Representation does matter. It matters and oh boy, does Pose go for it here. They also use transgender actors.

I also enjoy how the second season focuses more on the houses, the mothers and the people in their care, their friendships, fights, relationships in general. 

If you’ve not seen this show, go watch it. If you don’t know why the AIDS epidemic was made worse by Reagan, go watch this. Or go look it up. Others have showcased this one, such as the Normal Heart and Angels in America. Pose takes us on the every day, tiny journeys of regular folk who just happen to be gay or ‘other’. Who struggled with how to pay for the expensive drugs. How the doctors and people of this small community would gather the bottles of meds to give out to those who needed them and couldn’t get them…from the bedsides of the dead. The looking out for one another.

On losing your friends to this disease and on watching society around you shrug at these deaths as if ‘those people’ deserved to be forgotten as quickly as possible. It’s such an ugly ugly aspect of America. And gives us a basis for the hatred and fear going on now about, well, those who are different or not straight white Christian males.

Pose is also funny. It’s uplifting, you cheer at the victories of these various characters. You watch actual journeys taking place as people learn from their mistakes and make new mistakes instead of the old mistakes over and over. You watch families form and stay strong together or break apart, but come back together. And you see love in all ways, from romantic to friend to family. The love that doesn’t judge or ask that you be anything but who you actually are. Pose says we all matter. Even those on the outskirts. Those in the shadows. Those wandering about homeless, selling their bodies because their families kicked them out of the house for being different or not what that family could accept or endure under their roof. Those of one gender dressing as another gender. Those who…yeah. All the people who had to and still have to pretend they’re ‘normal’ so they don’t get hurt or murdered for who they are. Or lose a job. Or be denied rights. Or be denied medical care. Or be denied that last visit from someone they love as they lay dying in a hospital.

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Display about Hart Island, showing the unmarked graves. Notice the date. 

One of the most gut-wrenching moments of this stellar show was the visit out to Hart Island, to the unmarked graves of those who had succumbed to the infections or maladies let in by HIV. The unclaimed corpses shipped to basically a leper graveyard as society proclaimed such deaths meant nothing at all and were probably deserved. A reminder that if the government had allowed the CDC to look into all this, a lot of people would have been helped and remedies against this discovered that much quicker. They don’t care about us—it’s what you hear a lot on this show.

Another soul-shattering episode showcased the murder and funeral of a main character, who had gone to make money by prostituting herself at a run down motel famous for seedy hook ups. Her battered, dead body is discovered. We get reminded that transgender people are often at risk of being killed. Even here in America. And we also got to see Candy, the one murdered, say her goodbyes to the people she loved and fought with. We got some closure and damn, something so hokey should not have worked as well as it did. Damn. 

But Pose showcases why you should care. Why it’s important to care about those in the margins and that, hey, those in the margins are not clowns or there for our amusement or scorn…they are, yeah…people. Pose gets it right so often. Those we’ve been taught are the ‘other’ or too strange to attempt to understand are people. Who love and work and hunger and cry and laugh and do everything people do. And oh my god, do we need to be reminded of that in this goddamn present time.

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From Pose. Mj Rodriguez as Blanca. 

From Pose, Season One, Episode Four– Fever. Janet Mock, writer

Blanca: You should have heard them talking, like not knowing is an okay thing.

Pray Tell: They’re young.

Blanca: That’s my point. They don’t know shit about shit. It’s my job to teach them. What’s the point in being their mother if I can’t teach them to do to protect them from the one thing we all know is comin’.

Pray: Then tell them to be careful.

Blanca: They’re kids! Most of the grown men we know aren’t careful. They gotta get checked and not just for their sake. They need to know so they don’t hurt nobody else.

Pray: I stopped getting tested.

Blanca: What?

Pray: After Custus got sick and I saw how the AZT made him sicker. He’s not the first. I know about five people where the drugs killed them before the virus did.

Blanca: You don’t know that.

Pray: I know that Ronald Reagan will not say the word AIDS. Health insurance will not cover any treatment. The world wants us dead. They don’t think this is a plague. They think it’s some sort of divine justice or Darwin’s answer for sodomy.

Activities with Rocks

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Early attempts at painting rocks

I wrote a scathing diatribe on the political hellscape that is ‘murica lately. Instead, to welcome yet another interminable month in this interminable slog of a life, I’ll write about rocks.  I’ll mention two novels that will hit sometime that could be any time, really. And something of mine that got included in a literary journal.

Rocks? Wha?

Military parade with a bloated price tag. Tanks. Money to pay for this culled from the national parks and veteran’s programs. With ticket prices, VIP seats! Sumbitch! Kids in cages. But hey, Nike pulled the Betsy Ross flag design and PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS CAUSE FREEDOM AND RIGHTS AND HONORING THE TROOPS OR…or…or…mm. Is that blood leaking from my ears? 

Yeah, I’m painting rocks. Badly. But it’s been a long time since I’ve painted anything. It seems a lot of people I know have turned to artsy crafty stuff to deal with…the drumbeats that celebrate the end of my country. With those supporting this screaming that we should get over it. With a ‘snowflake’ thrown in there.

I have friends also painting mandalas on rocks, leaving them places. Or writing some inspirational on a pebble, leaving it where others can find it and hopefully get inspired.

I do have a reason for why I’m slapping cheap paint on free rocks.

Last year, I went to the Death Rattle writer’s conference in Nampa, Idaho. I tried to sell some books. I was ill prepared. I didn’t have the fancy bank transaction app on my knock off Chinese-made phone. Where you can take people’s credit cards, run a transaction. Cause I didn’t even know that existed…I’m woefully behind the tech times. I’m also not up with how to sell your shit in these ultra-modern times. So. Learning experience.

I did get out of the house and mingle with others. Plus right there!

So I will attempt another attempt at a booth. You don’t have to pay a fee. Just apply for a spot. It’s held in a small alley by a bar. You sit there and try to smile and look inviting and friendly. Everyone seems to know everyone else. They’re all old friends or at least nodding acquaintances. But this time, for my wares, I intend to offer some art.

This takes place in October so I have the long hot summer to create. Or try to create something I can display without cringing.

I’ll also make some salt clay somethings. I was thinking pendants. One of a kind, small, tasteful, pretty. As I would love something like that and would scrape pennies out of the cup holders in the car to get one. I could also do some Christmas ornaments or even Halloween ornaments. I do write a lot of horror fiction. And it is my fave holiday.

If I focus on this rather pleasant problem, I do not focus on the crud coating my brain or the GODDAMN FUCKERY THAT IS CHEETOLINI and all that. At least, not entirely.

Also, I find other friends painting rocks or quilting. I noticed that Seth Andrews, who does the Thinking Atheist podcast, among other endeavors, got hooked on the Great British Baking Show. He’s been baking. I know tons of folks who love that show and then try to bake. Like, oh, me. Me, I’m one of those. 

 I am also hooked on baking competition shows.  I find baking so oddly fulfilling. I take raw ingredients, produce something roughly like what I saw. I’ve even managed to produce loaves of bread. I’ve moved from just schlupping the dough into a heated up giant cast iron pot into cutting the lump of dough in half, then placing that into bread pans.

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I made this!

I’ve graduated to seeing what I can shape the dough into. Can I braid it or…turn it into something actually pretty or French Bakery-esque?

Yeah, no, not yet. But I haven’t been baking bread for that long and it takes a lot of flour. And yeast. It seems like a lot of people need comfort and an outlet to deal with reality lately. That everyone seems to have picked up some sort of art hobby or baking or throwing away all their stuff in some sort of supercleanse or life enema. I wonder why.  I don’t. That was sarcasm. I don’t wonder why at all.

Rocks.

I feel like I’ve got an actual plan here, planning for a booth space I might not even get. But it’s a long-range plan. Longer than “make it through day.”

Ah, a flash fiction piece of mine, By Starlight By Starlight My Dear, is included in the latest edition of A Door is a Jar literary magazine. I had entered an earlier version of this same one that got soundly rejected, with actual criticism sent my way. I rewrote it. It got better. A Door is a Jar accepted it and there ya go.

Oh, so I think I have two books in editing right now. Alice in Oregonlandia, the not at all anticipated sequel to my dead on arrival House on Clark Boulevard. I kid, I kid! You’re supposed to Always Be Closing. That line from the Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross.

It takes up about ten years after the end of House. Alice gets a turn. The fall out of Nancy’s time in that house. Alice discovering a few truths about herself. How Art steps up as dad and caregiver.

Aftermath, which is my take on…wait for it…zombies. I know. I know. But!! It follows Hannah as she finds herself in a world run by zombies, after killing herself because she was trapped in a dead end space by zombies. Hannah tries to navigate her way through a vastly changed world, where zombies run everything and have all the political, economic and actual power. Set in Boise, Idaho, because, frankly, it’s an hour down the road from me. I had great fun writing this. Isn’t that the point of all this?

Thank you to everyone who bothers to read these. I appreciate it. I can be a tedious bore with my depression and endless string of failures. My tiny advances that give me a tiny bit of hope that maybe I should keep writing. That maybe today I can find whatever courage or gumption it takes to just keep plugging on.

Plug on, you dull bit of coal. My shout out to Pink Floyd…

 

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Available in A Door is a Jar, latest issue.

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Miz Bridge and Molly the Chocolate Lab.

 

 

Just Words

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The Carlisle School. Wikipedia. Pennsylvania

You cannot avoid the news. About the American concentration camps housing children in filth, abject starkness, no basic necessities. Like soap. Or tooth paste or a toothbrush. Or diapers for babies and toddlers. Or food beyond enough not to outright starve people.

The GOP frame this as it’s the fault of the Democrats for not funding so and so. That those kids can leave any time. Just walk out. Past armed guards and…go off into the sunset, I guess. That Obama did it first so the GOP and Trump are helpless not to do that as well. The separation of families, the torturing of children, the secrecy and lies. Except it was Jeff Sessions, last year, who put this policy into place.

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From Zazzle

But what do facts matter when brown people can finally be treated as cockroaches again? Or more than usual.

We hear pundits and amateur alike point out how dangerous the language used is. That it hearkens back to Nazi Germany, to Rwanda, to Cambodia, to places where mass exterminations took place.

Dehumanizing others to make it okay to kill them in heart-stopping numbers. Thousands. Hundred thousands. Millions. Rats. Cockroaches. Scum. Rapists. Diseased. They all carry diseases. They’re all gang members and sex traffickers. So it’s good that we’re taking those kids away. Who are all trained to come here to infiltrate us anyway.

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from the Western Rifle Shooters Association

I did read where the Trump Concentration Camps are to be put under the auspices of the military. Which means no oversight. No monitoring. Nobody allowed in who is not authorized. Rather like Guantanamo Bay.

That those kids are being forcibly adopted out, even as parents seek to get reunited with them. Rather like America did with Native American children. Like the Australians did with Aboriginal children. Like Canada did with…There seems to be a pattern here.

The government of the US stepped in, on those reservations. They placed children into boarding schools, cut off their hair, forced them to speak English only, taught them to be farmers or some trade thought suitable to be useful to society. They were not allowed to visit their families. They were not allowed to go home, back to the place they had to call home instead of where their people had been for centuries. As those lands were now plowed under or buried beneath emerging cities. All of this right after the wrenching years of the American Civil War. Once again, the near success of stripping identity and pride away from people deemed less than or not quite human or not human at all.

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Actual poster from 1870’s-80’s

You hear that Christians built America. You look under that even a little, you see Chinese people laying the tracks for the railroads that would connect the East coast to the West coast. NYC to Frisco. Except you don’t call it Frisco. Those that live there have told me that. But the Chinese were brought over to build the paths for the steel horses, and to fill the brothels and to wash the clothes and cook the food. To be laborers of all kinds, in every way. Families back in China sold their children during that time period, or sold themselves or got on boats heading to the brash new country as there was a horrific drought at that time.

Rather like the Irish and the Great Potato Famine era.

Rather like the American-helped drug wars happening in other parts of the Americas in current time.

Droughts, famines, man-made horrors that seemingly have no end, can and do send people to escape them, outlive them. Refugees. Outcasts. Seekers. They all have individual names. They are all humans. Same as I am.

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This is from a slideshow. I did not put this together. Found it during a search.

There is a massacre of Chinese gold miners in my own back forty, so to speak. In Hells Canyon, the great rift in Northeast Oregon, very western Idaho. A group of about thirty people were slaughtered. They had set up a mining claim on the Snake River, the river that gouged the canyon out of the rocks same as the Colorado did the Grand Canyon. They had some success.

There’s gold yet in Eastern Oregon mountains, streams, lakes and rivers. You can stop and pan for gold alongside the freeway if you like. At least you used to. I haven’t driven up there for a while, it might be gone.

White men crept up on this peaceful group. Killed them, wounded them, took their gold. Some of the men were founders of Joseph, Oregon. Which is named for a Nez Perce leader who very nearly won against the US cavalry. If you don’t know that story, you should look it up. It will break whatever’s left of your heart. But he got a town named for him, set against the truly lovely Wallowa Lake. You can take a paddleboat out on it. You can walk around and look at the art and statues. You can attend Chief Joseph Days. In honor of a defeated cockroach.

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Memorial at Deep Creek honoring those who were murdered.  From the Oregon Encyclopedia

The men who killed the Chinese were not punished. There was a sort of trial. No convictions. Everyone knew they had done this but the Chinese were regarded as a necessary evil, a blight. They were not granted the right to seek citizenship. Their customs, language and way of life were considered disposable or laughable. Bodies of those that had died had to be buried in China or the spirits of the dead could not find rest.

The laws regarding those from Asia said that Asians were not welcome. They had been brought here as children or…what does it matter. I guess. It’s old history. It has no bearing on anything today.

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It seems all I have left is a ghostly wisp of sarcasm. A faint wraith with no power left to startle or actually haunt. I cannot even muster up a good sneer or that dry tone needed to deliver the deft blows of a well-placed absurdity into the squawkings about ‘illegals and gang bangers here to ruin ‘murica’.

I am not surprised that Christians justify what is going on now at the border and elsewhere with those whose skin marks them as targets. That seething hatred to dominate and oppress seems built into the foundations of that religion. It has never been about love. It’s been about domination, conquest and erasing all opponents as ruthlessly as possible. I might be exaggerating. I don’t think I am. 

It’s my religion as well. At least it was. Brought up a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a Protestant. Martin Luther started an actual holy war with the Catholic Church back in 1495 or so. I was baptized. I was confirmed as a member of the congregation. My grandparents were staunch Lutherans.

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I cannot see either of them going along with what’s going on now. Their two sons do. My dad. My uncle. They are both Fox junkies; they shoot up on Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson instead of heroin. They cry fake news in echo of their lord and savior. They go off into that haze, that high, with a blissful smile.

But I cannot see my grandparents, who were alive for WWII, condoning this. I might be coloring them with rosy lights here but I honestly do not think my church-going grandparents who both spoke other languages and were one generation or so from being migrants themselves, would clap and cheer at children in concentration camps.

However, there were Japanese folks in America who were stripped of their rights and everything else, herded into interment camps. There’s even one nearby.

Whatever faith I might have had in God has leaked away like dirty water into the sand. Evaporated. I think today I am finally admitting I no longer believe. It’s been a long time coming, as the song goes. I look at my country. I listen to the people around me grumbling about illegals. About how Trump is trying to save us and the lefties won’t get in line to let that happen.

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1975, Camp Pendleton. Refugees known as the Vietnam Boat People. LA Times. 

My despair is profound, and awful.

There are children being kept in inhumane conditions in overcrowded cages. We are arguing over what to name such a thing. We are arguing that it’s just a matter of Democrats not willing to give ICE some funding or send funds toward the wall. That there’s a crisis at the border and the Democrats want a flood of…

Everything is broken. Another song title from Dylan. But it’s apt here. Never again. Just words after all.

Just words.

 

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Three Happy Dogs

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Brigit, Jake in the middle and Molly to the right. The Oywhee River.

I took the three dogs out to the Owyhees, which is the mountain range about forty minutes away. I loaded them into the Jimmy or the GMC, took some water, three dog bones, a towel. The old dirty blanket got placed across the back seat because there’s a small river up that way. And the three dogs love to fling themselves into the waters, whether pond, mud puddle, ocean, lake, trickle, stream, or river.

The wind a bit gusty but the sun out, the day beautiful otherwise. June day, not too hot but hot enough.

It seemed my mood lifted the second I crossed the tiny bridge over the Malheur as I drove toward the state park area. There’s a road carved into the rocks and sagebrush that leads up to the big reservoir where you can boat or swim or just hang. I don’t go up there cause…people are there and my entire goal in life right now is to avoid all human contact. That’s not sarcasm or being cutesy. That’s my depression, which has won and is just waiting for me to cut my wrists already so it can move on to someone else who at least poses a challenge to it…

Medication? Other than whatever’s in the fridge? No.

The three dogs whine and whimper. When they get to go anywhere, their other ends spew. They get excited, they have to empty the chambers. So I pull over, as there are little roads cut into the hills, as well as free range cattle and places to shoot off mortar rounds and…it’s Eastern Oregon. You can also see where the wagons cut grooves into the earth for all time, seemingly. Oregon Trail tracks. No kidding. Come see the permanent damage people have done to the earth, y’all!

I slow down when I see a ‘road closed’ sign, and a traffic cone. One of my favorite little spots to hunt rocks. This part of Oregon is rock hound heaven, in case I have not mentioned that. There’s a Thunderegg Festival in Nyssa, Oregon. That’s where people bring rocks to sell, along with other things. A thunderegg is another name for a geode.

The bridge, a tiny stone and wood structure you can drive across, had been swept away by a spring flood. The litter of that bridge in the river yet, which rushed past it importantly. Now. This is a narrow little river but it packs a powerful current with a strength more suited to the Mississippi at times. Same with the Snake River. It’s deceptively narrow but treacherous as the current regime of Gross Old Perverts. Crossing it on a covered wagon, in the days before dams and crumbling bridges, shudder. There’s a couple of famous crossing places that have been preserved in Idaho and Oregon. Farewell Bend, for instance. It’s where you left the river and went up into the Blues. By this time in your Oregon Trail adventure, you were just happy you were still alive.

Up the badly maintained road, often with rocks tumbled across it from the stony outcroppings that lean over it like something from a LOTR movie, I discover one of my favorite spots has no camper or group of scrubbed tourists lounging there like ticks on a hound. The dogs explode out of the back of the Jimmy, I notice I’ve left my bucket at home. I did bring a small ice cream bucket and a sack but nothing to put any or all the rocks I was sure to find. Hope is always eternal when I rouse myself enough to sneak off to hunt the elusive stationary rock. Some trips I find agates or chunks of crystal this or that almost at my feet when I park. I make sure I can get back on the road again as getting stuck out there with no phone is not a goal of mine. I can’t afford minutes at the moment.

The dogs go swimming. They sniff. I wander about noting the rocks, how the river must have flooded this little area, as the ground is yet muddy and water plants had died in straight lines. I had just seen the small bridge destroyed by the Owyhee River. I knew of hikers trapped by a mudslide not days ago. Fifty or more. A man had been swept away after falling asleep when rafting this same river. Found safe after a while.

The current at this peaceful little spot, with a small ranch next to it with actual livestock wandering through now and then, seems relentlessly evil. The dogs have trouble swimming against it and I worry I might have to rescue either of the two big Labs or the young Kewpie. Or cow dog as I think of Miz Bridge.

However, they enjoy being out of the yard and I trudge about. I am happy enough as well to be out of the yard, so to speak. But there’s no real joy in me at being in what has always seemed a spiritual place that renews what little I have left in my life’s batteries. It’s my big birthday. I turned fifty. Is that it? I am just down over how old I am?

Yes, to be frankly honest as hell. That is a small part of that yesterday. I expected. I expected a life beyond failing over and over and over, with nothing to show for my writing efforts but two books nobody’s even read. Including people in my own immediate family. My own fault for not becoming a teacher way back when, a real one, with certificates and such. As I pushed to do by my mother and others, and I did see myself teaching English to high schoolers or even, gasp, my little dream of teaching theatre in a college. And if I go into any of my abject wrong turns here or actual dead end blunders, I really will give in despair. More than usual, anyway.

I am not writing this for sympathy or thrills. I am attempting to sort everything out before I can’t. Or am not able to anymore.

Yes, it’s that bad. All the time. That little trip yesterday was my birthday treat. That was it. My family didn’t do anything special for me and I was grateful to even have my dad remember it was my birthday on the actual day of my birthday. I am grateful for a scrap of ‘hey, birthday, whatever’. Grateful. I have never mattered to my family…that’s how I feel.

And we’re not supposed to have feelings anymore. Or ever?

Once my mother brought a German Chocolate cake for my birthday. From the bakery markdown selection. The frosting had cracks in it, as it was old. Cheap old cake. I realize now that during June farmers don’t have a ready supply of cash and that I should be happy she bothered to get me a town cake at all. I just…want to feel that I matter to my own flesh and blood a bit.

And every birthday, it seems, I am faced with the evidence that I don’t.

The lifelong depression is going to win. I’m not going to magically defeat this thing in my head. I can barely concentrate enough to write this. I want to give in so badly and just end it. There it is. If I can look that in the face a bit, maybe I can…

take the dogs for little jaunt somewhere else that’s strange and new to me. Where I have no memories to remember. And I make it through another day.

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Not the bridge I mentioned, obviously. You can see the river doesn’t look formidable or anything else.

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Already dry as a bone. Sagebrush and rocks.

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Happy Jake after he emptied the chambers.

 

Downton Game of Witches

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Tingles! Downtown Abbey about to politely delight and thrill us ere again. Dame Maggie Smith!

Part one!

I mashed some titles together. I feel so clever.

I actually have three different posts here, I decided. Instead of one mashed together mess, I know! I’ll do a three-parter! Woot woot!

Downton Abbey.

Game of Sighs.

A Discovery of Sugar Cookies.

Mash seems to be my fave word today! Also, if I wish to go off on a rage-rant that has nothing to do with anything…well. I won’t.

My despair over DC has reached coma-inducing levels. Which is what THEY want. They. Tiny “victories” constantly overshadowed by actual bad shit done out in the open.

I need a gallon of pudding. Ever had that pudding that’s canned? By the gallon? Yeah, that stuff.

Shall we briefly revisit our favorite Upstairs/Downstairs knockoff??

Just watched the Downton Abbey teaser-trailer.

Oh. Yes.

When-is-this-on?? Hold the sherry! This is an actual movie. It won’t be on Masterpiece? What the…? Oh polite eye roll and sniff of suppressed annoyance! Excuse to leave house, though…!

A ROYAL VISIT??!! What wine will they serve the queen?? Which queen is this?? Must remember to look up what queen that is. Will not remember. Sigh!

I am so there for Downton Abbey the Movie. I know. It’s a snobby exercise in snobbiness. Yep. Don’t care! 

Lady Mary with that really cute short haircut! Will she and Edith have their sisterly rows or have they declared a sort of sisterly armistice? Oh hey, is that the same actor who plays Vampire Dude in A Discovery of Sugar Cookies? Is Lady Mary’s second hubbie VAMPIRE DUDE? Mind. Blown. Blown. BOOM. Just checked and yes, it is. Matthew Goode. Wait. His name in real life is Matthew, too? Hold it together, brain.

Back to squee central. 

What is Thomas up to??!! Are Anna and Bates SUFFERING AWAY AS PER USUAL?

Mr. Carson walking up toward Downton Abbey!

I need a scone!