Donna’s Friday Morning Moment of Self-Awareness

I’ve got this gap between my front teeth. I hate it.

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I told you it was awful

A couple years ago, I was talking with some friends of mine about how much I hate seeing pictures of myself. Among the reasons for this aversion? That horrible, horrible gap.

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It’s not really that bad, but it sure feels like it. Fun with snapchat *awkward, nervous laughter*

 

See, when I was a kid, I had braces, and they fixed the gap, but then when my wisdom teeth came out, I guess my teeth spread apart some and now I have this gap between my teeth again. For a long time, I wouldn’t even smile with my lips open, because of that gap, but then several people told me I have a great smile so I have tried to get over it, but still, whenever I see one of these, pics, all I can see is that gap and…

That’s when one of my friends broke in on my story and said, “I’ve never noticed it.”

And I thought, “How many other people would never have even noticed this horrible, horrible flaw of mine if I’d just never told them about it?”

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No more fooling around. No filter. Totally natural expression.

I was reminded of this when the three brothers on my favorite podcast (My Brother, My Brother, and Me (MBMBaM)) did a TV show for Seeso TV.

The oldest brother, Justin, talks frequently about being overweight. He makes comments like “I’m living my life as an overweight man.” He talks about not being able to find clothes that look good – how his jeans are always cuffed because he can’t find jeans that are short enough for his chubby legs.

I do this too. As a podcaster, a writer, a blogger – non-visual mediums – I find that I will start stories much the same way when I want to talk about trying to find clothes that make me feel good about myself, or challenges finding a date, or the like.

But then…

I saw the first episode of the MBMBaM show.  Now, don’t get me wrong. Justin is overweight, he’s not one of those totally average people complaining about how fat they are. But his weight is not his most defining characteristic. It’s not the first thing I notice when I see him. In fact, the first thing I thought was “Why does he talk about his weight so much?” And this is coming from someone who’s overweight!

So, I don’t have a great insight here, really. Sometimes, like if I want to talk about having a hard time finding clothes, I’ve got to mention that I’m overweight, or you’re going to wonder “Why doesn’t she just go to the GAP?”

Which brings me back to the lesson I learned a few years ago about the gap in my teeth.

Maybe we should all spend a little less time pointing out our flaws to other people, because maybe we’re the only ones who noticed them in the first place.

In Defense of Garbage TV

I have a confession…red-rose-1347966141q6t

No, I can’t. It’s too horrible.

OK. Let me just get this out.

Recently… I started watching The Bachelor.

Whew. I got that off my chest. I feel a little better.

Now, this show is garbage. Purest garbage.

So why am I watching it?

Well… because a podcaster I like does a fancast for The Bachelor (called Rose Buddies) so I thought I’d give it a try. In other words, I’m watching the show as an excuse to listen to a podcast.

Still. It’s garbage. It’s fake, and awkward and really inappropriate in a lot of ways.

And I’m starting to find it therapeutic. It’s fun to flip off the TV every time the designated ‘villian’ is on the screen. It’s fun to protest when the bachelor gives her a rose week after week. It’s fun to bitch about why they don’t show more positive interactions between the contestants, or speculate about how much of what goes on is actually real and how much of it is producer manipulation. To speculate on who’s in the running to win and who’s just there to stir up ratings *cough corn cough*

I can’t actually scream “I hate you!” to idiots on facebook, but I can scream it at my TV. I can’t say, “OMG, you’re SOOOOOO STUPID,” to people in real life, but I can yell it at the bachelor.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s trash. It’s garbage. It’s sensationalist and ridiculous and more than a little sexist.

But one night a week I can forget about real life and real problems and that’s not a bad thing.

…I may have more to say on this topic later. 🙂

An open letter to Disney: Please DO recast General Leia Organa for Star Wars Episode IX #SaveGeneralOrgana

Losing Carrie Fisher was a tragedy. Please do not compound that tragedy with your handling of her character.

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I see three basic options:

  1. You can kill, incapacitate, or otherwise remove Leia from the story,  off screen.
  2. You can severely cut back Leia’s part and CGI her, as you did with Peter Cushing.
  3. Or you can recast Leia.

Here’s why I do not recommend the first two options:

Carrie Fisher cannot be replaced. We all know and understand this.

But, while Carrie Fisher is gone, Leia Organa is still alive*.

The thing you need to understand is how important Leia is to women who were girls when the first Star Wars movies were released. We’d never seen anything like her: confident, out-spoken,  competent, strong, smart.

For a girl growing up at that time Princess Leia was a symbol showing us that we did not have to be soft and compliant and submissive. We could be like Leia Organa. Be strong and own that. Be smart and own that. Be out-spoken and competent without feeling like there was something wrong with you.

I want the girls who will be women in a few years to have that same character, that same strong, confident, competent character to look up to. Absolutely, they have Rey, but Rey is young and pretty. Leia is mature and still not afraid to be in charge. It’s an important thing to see, an older woman whose appearance is a secondary concern.

Which brings me to the third option of recasting. There are plenty of actresses of an appropriate age to take on that part. No, they won’t be replacing Carrie — no one could — but they will be allowing Leia Organa to continue to live. They will allow you to continue to tell us Leia’s story.

Off the top of my head Meryl Streep and Geena Davis both could take on that part. Leia will forever be Carrie Fisher, but they could pay tribute to Carrie. Young women, whether they’re young now or young in their hearts, need General Leia Organa on the screen.

Please consider allowing Leia to live fully in episode IX of the Star Wars franchise.

ETA: Sigourney Weaver, Kate Mulgrew, Ellen Barkin, Kathleen Turner, Dana Delaney, Linda Hamilton (!!!!)… the list goes on.

*I know it’s possible Leia dies in episode VIII. I certainly hope not.

Sometimes depression is a terminal disease

Reposting this because my depression is really bad right now, maybe it’s the holidays, I don’t know. But I needed this and thought I’d share.

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Depression is like a war

A few years ago, a good friend of mine killed himself. I did all the things you do: I blamed myself. I got mad at him. I grieved.

While talking to a friend, I expressed the thought that if I’d only called him that day as I’d planned… and he said, “Sometimes depression is a terminal disease.” Sometimes, you cannot save someone with depression.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Take depression seriously.

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Don’t tell a depressed person they should just smile more. Or that they’re just being dramatic. Or that they should just think positive, or just shake off the negative feelings.

Depression is a disease. You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer, or in liver failure, or heart failure to just let it roll off them. You wouldn’t even think of making one of those people feel bad about themselves for their inability to just “get over it.”…

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A totally uninformed opinion about Passengers from someone who hasn’t seen it and my thoughts about it as a writer

I haven’t seen Passengers. But I’ve seen a lot of pearl clutching posts about that AWFUL TWIST.
So, I gave in and read them.

Digression – many, many years ago I watched a made-for-TV movie starring Teri Garr [Intimate Strangers, 1986]. She played an army nurse who’d been taken as a POW and suffered horrible PTSD upon her return. The entire movie revolved around the slow reveal of what had happened to her. The reveal: She’d been raped one time by one of the guards. And, call me a cynic if you will, but I had kind of assumed that all along. It wasn’t a reveal, it was a given based on the way they’d characterized her captors. It was kind of like showing someone coming home after ten years in prison and then revealing that while they’d been in prison they’d occasionally been locked in small rooms. Not to say it’s not traumatizing. Just… you’re not surprised by that reveal.

Which brings me back to…

SECOND-HAND SPOILER WARNING

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Apparently, Chris Pratt’s character and Jennifer Lawrence’s characters do not wake up at the same time on the ship’s 120 year journey to another planet. Pratt wakes up earlier, spends about a year alone, begins obsessing over Lawrence — still asleep — and then wakes her up so he won’t be alone.

 
Yes, I agree this is a bad thing. But I wasn’t surprised to hear it.

 
When news got out and people began to complain about it, Writer Jon Spaihts had this to say, “It’s not as if it’s an accidental oversight of the film, where we, through some cultural blindness, have failed to see the appalling nature of our hero’s actions. It is the subject of the film. [emphasis mine]

 
Director Morten Tyldum added, “…I think that most of us, if we had the choice, would have done what Chris’s character do. We’re lying to ourselves if we’re saying that we won’t. And I think also that Jen’s character and her stance, the moment he walks out [of the ship] and may not come back, she understands that, knowing she will be alone on the ship. And she understands. She completely understands why he did that.”

 
I get that. I totally get what Spaihts and Tyldum are saying. They made a film about what a person would do in this horrible situation, gave us Lawrence to react to this situation, and then put her in a position to understand that she would have done the same. It’s a good story, exploring emotion, human nature and the need for companionship. But apparently, they didn’t communicate that story to their audience. Instead, they gave their audience a creepy stalker story (apparently).

 
It doesn’t really matter what story you intend to tell. What matters is the story you do tell.

Holiday Shopping Guide for Your Writer

If you’re shopping in Tulsa, check out Decopolis in downtown. They have writer themed candles; little plush dolls of Poe, Shakespeare, and more; journals; feather quill sets…. you can make all your writer friends happy by stopping by there!

(NOT A COMPENSATED COMMENT – I JUST LOVE THEM THAT MUCH)

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Shopping for a writer this holiday?

We’re not that hard to please, really.

I asked several of my writer friends what they most wanted for Christmas and then compiled their suggestions.

Stationary

You will not go wrong shopping at an office supply/school supply/stationary shop. Among the most requested gifts were Notebooks, Journals, Pens, pencils, and post it notes. If in doubt, pick up a nice journal and a good pen. Score!

  • Pens and Pencils
  • Notebooks and Journals – if you want to really please your writer, go for a Moleskin journal, known as Hemingway’s favorite journals.
  • Sticky Pads in every shape, size, and color
  • Huge clamps to hold manuscripts
  • Brass manuscript tabs
  • An enormous, stylish notice board to spread out notes.

Software

There are a ton of helpful programs for writers and a couple of them are nearly indispensable. Here are some of the most requested programs for writers

  • Scrivener

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Political Post #1 – Echo Chambers and how to stay out of them

I had planned to wake up November 9 and make a post on Facebook along the lines of “If you were surprised about the results of the election, you might be living in an echo chamber.”

Then I woke up November 9.

And I had been surprised about the results of the election.

…(So thank God I didn’t confidently make that post before the election – I don’t like the taste of crow or humble pie.

But here’s the thing: I do not live in an echo chamber. I go to great lengths to make sure I don’t. I know most of my friends lean left, so I know I’m in danger of creating a Facebook environment where I only hear thoughts I agree with. I’m aware of the danger, and I actively try to avoid it.

Check your news sources.

I get my news from a variety of sources and I make a point of avoiding news from biased sources.* The exception to that is if I don’t understand a particular reaction from one side or another, in which case I will seek out those biased news sources because I know they’ll explain the offense to me. For instance, some time ago, a lot of my friends on the right were clearly furious about a new bill. But it seemed like a perfectly reasonable bill to me and I just could not understand why they were all so mad. So, I went to FoxNews.com and rather quickly understood what the problem was (I don’t recall what the bill was, so I can’t recall what the problem was. Big government, maybe?)

*I know a lot of people will argue that all media is biased. I’ve had that argument sooooooo many times! But some news is deliberately biased – Fox News, breitbart.com, infowars.com, Drudge Report, Huffpo, Politico, MSNBC, et al, while other news attempts to be neutral and unbiased. Seek out neutral news sources.

However, even for the most neutral news media, news is now profit driven, so their editorial decisions are slanted towards what will get the most viewer/hits. Which can definitely create the appearance of bias.

Don’t prune your friends list

I make a point of not silencing people with different political views from me. I have a lot of friends across the political spectrum and I like it that way. My only rule, oft repeated is, “Don’t be an asshole.” As long as people who disagree with me can discuss that in a civil fashion, we can be friends. More than once I’ve asked the people who do agree with me to settle down. It happens.

PS – several my friends have done exactly this after the election – unfriending/unfollowing anyone who voted a certain way. It’s your Facebook, you can do whatever you want with it. I can certainly understand the appeal of being surrounded by like-minded folk.

I’m just talking to people who don’t want an echo chamber. At least one of my friends said explicitly that they did want an echo chamber. That’s cool, I’m not judging you.

Check the sources.

When I see a news story that seems too good to be true (or too bad to be true), I research it. I check a lot of different news sources. And if the only sources for that news are highly biased, I’m a lot less likely to pay attention to that particular bit of news. Beware – BEWARE – of the plethora of fake news sites that make up purest BS and send it out into the world to garner clicks.

Don’t be too quick to hide pages you don’t like.

I do occasionally block posts from certain pages on Facebook. I hold pages subject to the “Don’t be an asshole” rule. As long as you’re not an asshole, you can post memes I don’t agree with. If you are an asshole, you can still post them, I just won’t see them.

 

 

Even with all these efforts to avoid an echo chamber, I was still surprised about the results of the election.

 

It doesn’t help if the media is wrong. I was surprised about the results because even Fox said Trump was losing. The far-right media was still insisting that everything was rigged. Even project 538 – which has been uncannily accurate the last two elections, was way, way off this election. I think rather than biased media or any kind of echo chamber, we were seeing sort of a Bradley Effect . I think people were ashamed to admit they were planning to vote Trump, and therefore lied to pollsters (I could ask why you would vote for someone who was so awful you were ashamed to admit it, but that’s another topic). I think a lot of people who said they were for Clinton didn’t show up to vote while most of those enthusiastic for Trump did show up to vote.

 

At any rate, I encourage everyone, righties or lefties, to venture out of their comfortable bubble filled with people who think just like you. For one thing, it’s never a bad idea to understand others. People are still people, even if they have different views than you.

Try to get your news from neutral media. Go to Google if something seems too good to be true. And try to remember that we’re all people, and most of us believe that what we want for the country is what’s best for the country.

And, if you’re thinking of  adopting the “Don’t be an asshole,” rule, I can tell you that a chamber which does not echo with the sounds of assholes is a nice place to live.