Friday, March 11, 2016

Everything Should Come in List Form

How many times I've run this week: um, once.

How many times I meant to run this week: More than once.

What I'm reading: My own work. Over and over.

What I wish I was reading: Full disclosure: I've had Go Set a Watchman on my desk for months. What's my problem?

Lunch plans: Posy naps, burrito bowl*, Seinfeld re-runs.

Expecting any day: To know where Edie was accepted into kindergarten (it's a crazy world around here).

Needing: So many things. To go to Trader Joe's, for one. New hand soap for the bathroom. To stop going to bed at 2:00 am. A good run (see above).

Reading on the internets: Have You Encountered the Soft Boy, which James reads like he could have written it himself.

Photo of: A touchstone that no longer exists.

* Explanation: I like burrito bowls and eat them as often as possible, but today it's especially important as I've got an avocado that's ready to eat, and you know how that is--one day it's like "noooooot yet", and the next day it's like "now now now!".

Sunday, January 31, 2016

This Face, Her Face, Posy's Face

Dear Posy,

You are so little now.  But so much bigger than you used to be.  Sometimes you fall asleep in my arms, or on my bed, or in your high chair, and I carry you to your crib.  I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and your long legs stretch so much further than I ever expect them to.  I am always surprised that you no longer tuck into my arms.  I am glad, because you're so funny and busy now that you're big, but it's also a loneliness for something that's gone.  But, it's strange, because your infancy was, like, JUST here, it takes work to wrap my mind around the fact that, now that it's gone, it's gone forever.

Oh, my Posy.  You talk so much.  You have so much to say, and I love just looking at your face as you look, by turns, surprised and emphatic and happy.  And there is nothing happier than you when you're happy.  You laugh and look around and make everyone around you laugh too.  I laugh as I walk down the street and people look at us and laugh with us.  You wave more now, and it makes people on the street feel like a million bucks.  You're so democratic with your good graces: checkers at the market, our friends, old men on the street, teenagers on the bus, dad.  I love to watch how people change when you pay attention to them.  Before I had you and Edie, I knew it was charming to see a baby smile, but watching people watching you, I realize that when you smile at people, they smile back like they're looking at the face of God.

You and Edie love each other so much, and I can't think of a single thing in my life that makes me feel as happy and accomplished.  You two are not always on the same page at the same time, sometimes all Edie wants is to love you and kiss you, but you're busy with something only you know.  And sometimes you follow Edie around and she yells at you to give her some space (which I think she's heard me say).  But, a lot of the time, your chubby arms wrap around her round belly, and she leans down and kisses your head or your cheek.  You two take splashy baths together, and Edie begs us to let you sleep with her, so she can cuddle you.

Posy, your hair is always in your eyes.  You love to be outside more than anything--you run at a full toddler sprint for your coat and shoes whenever anyone mentions going for a walk.  You hate to be left behind, and cry bitterly on the days that are too cold for dad to walk you to school with Edie.

If I'm not paying enough attention to you, you grasp my face and turn it straight at yours.  You mash your face against mine, which is your version of a kiss.  Your chubby arms wrap around my neck and I know that even when your arms are long and thin and doing other things, I will feel them as an echo.  You love me, Posy-pie, and, like those people on the bus, being loved by you is like hearing the voice of God say my name.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Life and Death: A Critical Analysis of Twilight, Reimagined, Chapters 6 and 7

Chapters 1-3

Chapters 4 and 5

Chapter 6: Scary Stories

Summary: Bella/Beau go with friends to La Push, the beach on the Quillayute Indian Reservation.  Bella/Beau meets Jacob/Jules, an old friend from childhood.  Jacob/Jules tells the story of the cold ones--vampires--who he/she says are the Cullens.  Jacob/Jules takes none of this seriously.

Synopsis: This one starts out as a Find and Replace job.  It changes a bit when Bella/Beau get to La Push and meets with Jacob/Jules.  Bella is more manipulative (by her own admission) to get information out of Jacob, whereas Beau considers manipulation by flirting, but then just kind of asks like a normal person.  Bella flirts with Jacob, though she feels ridiculous doing it. Beau considers flirting with Jules, smoldering at her the way Edythe does to him, but realizes he might be a little out of his depth, and then just acts like himself instead. They both get the outcome they're looking for.  Meyer just lets Beau be more of a human being--more true to himself--than she allows Bella to be. For what it's worth, I think this has more to do with Meyer's own developing maturity as a writer than with the dichotomy between female and male.
Though this isn't a comparative difference, can we take a second to talk about why Bella/Beau are so clumsy?  I mean, I kind of get it--they're supposed to attract trouble or something like that.  And, also, clumsiness is a real easy way to make your character flawed, but not flawed in a way that would make them less attractive.  But Bella/Beau can't even make it on a small hike without falling repeatedly?  I don't want to be a buzzkill, but it might be time to make an appointment with a doctor to get that inner ear checked.

Chapter 7: Nightmare

Summary:  Bella/Beau is real upset about the vampire story Jacob/Jules tells, and has a nightmare where Jacob/Jules turns into a wolf (foreshadowing!) and Edward/Edythe appear as evil vampires.  Bella/Beau wakes up knowing what she/he has to do, but avoids the dreaded internet search as long as possible.  However, nothing can be put off forever, and then . . . there's a very tense google search.  Bella/Beau learns about vampire legends from around the world, then, feeling foolish for even searching, she/he takes off for a walk in the woods. This is where Bella realizes that whether or not Edward's a vampire, she's still pretty into him.  Beau realizes the same thing.  So, that's it, apparently.  Bella/Beau is cool with Edward/Edythe being a vampire.
The next day is sunny, and Edward/Edythe is not at school, much to Bella/Beau's dismay. Bella/Beau makes plans to go to Port Angeles with friends the following day.

Analysis: Actually, this chapter gets interesting pretty quick.  Okay, so, in Twilight, when Bella sees Edward emerging from the trees in her nightmare, she says that his skin glows and his eyes are "black and dangerous".  In Beau's nightmare, Edythe is apparently going to the Oscars:
She wore a black dress.  It hung all the way down to the the ground but exposed her arms to the shoulders (sleeveless?  does she mean sleeveless?) and had a deep-cut V for a neckline.  Her skin was faintly glowing, and her eyes were flat black. . . Her nails were filed into sharp points and painted a red so dark they were almost as black as her dress.  Her lips were the same color. (102)
So, why?  Why the big descriptions for Edythe, but nothing for Edward.  Would I, as the reader, have wondered how Edythe looked if only her eyes had been described?  Is this kind of dramatic dress more reasonable for a female.  Would it have just seemed silly to have Edward emerge from the darkness in a tux? (answer: yes).  I mean, the difference is there.  We have to acknowledge it.  Whether Meyer had something in mind or she was just having fun playing with the image, we have to acknowledge that it makes a statement--and leaves questions--about our expectations of a "dangerous" woman.
There's more.
Bella and Beau both get annoyed with the internet search, or, annoyed with themselves or whatever, and go for a walk in the woods.  Beau follows the path, and that's the end of it.  Bella, however, insists on mentioning how hopeless her sense of direction is, and how easily she can get lost.  She's forever reminding the reader how helpless she is.
Then, as Bella and Beau both consider their course of action is Edward/Edythe is, in fact, a vampire, Bella considers staying away from Edward.  She thinks that she'll " . . . tell him to leave me alone--and mean it" (my emphasis).  Because, though she's said it before, she didn't mean it that time.  But, if she says it again, Edward will somehow know that this time she does mean it (my shudder of horror).
Then, as both Bella considers this option, she's " . . . gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered that alternative.  My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on the the next option."
Agony of despair?  Get a grip, Bella.
Beau--fortunate, fortunate Beau--also considers telling Edythe to leave him alone, "And it hurt--just the idea--more that it should.  More than I felt I could stand.  I switched gears, skipping on to the next option."
So, again, we have a more grounded Beau.  A protagonist less inclined to agonies of despair.  It hurts, and he says it hurts, but the language is more natural, and the character less hyperbolic.  Less ridiculous.  Less silly.  More human.  More relateable.
Lastly, Meyer appears intent portraying Bella as--what?  Poor, maybe?  Less fortunate?  I don't even know.  Maybe it's intended to throw Edward's economic privilege into sharp relief, but everything Bella owns is dust bowl-era threadbare, apparently: her shabby book, her ragged old quilt, her scruffy wallet.  What's the deal?
Anyway, Beau--though fictional--apparently benefits from Stephanie Meyer's post-Twilight affluence, because his belongings don't appear to have been handed down to him by a hobo passing through town.

Okay, next up . . . Port Angeles.  Someone almost gets assaulted!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Life and Death: A Critical Analysis of Twilight, Reimagined, Chapters 4 and 5

Chapter 4: Invitations

Synopsis:  It's the aftermath of the van lifting incident, and Edward/Edythe won't talk to Bella/Beau.  Bella/Beau gets asked repeatedly to the Spring Dance, and finally--finally--Edward/Edythe speaks to her/him.  Edward/Edythe warn Bella/Beau that they shouldn't be friends, then, the following day, asks her/him to roadtrip to Seattle.

Analysis:  This chapter is a lot about the dynamics between Bella's and Beau's friends, and I thought Meyer did a pretty deft job of maintaining similar dynamics even with the gender swap.  Which really shouldn't surprise me, but still kind of does.  Bella's relationship with Jessica is kind of thorny because of Mike, and I don't know if I would have assumed it would be easy to replicate that dynamic between two guys.  And she doesn't, exactly, but she does create the same kind of tension--that both Bella and Beau feel the same concern for Jessica and Jeremy, and yet the contradictory guilt about disappointing Mike and McKayla.  It's not like she split the atom or anything here, but, still, it's worth noting.
Also worth noting is the fact that Beau seems to be a way more logical character than Bella is.  When he's making those damned chicken enchiladas and wondering why Edythe said they shouldn't be friends, he decides it's because she knows he's obsessed with her and doesn't want to encourage him. Then he thinks:
I was boring--I knew this about myself.  And Edythe was the opposite of boring.  This wasn't about her secret, whatever it was, if I even remembered any of that insane moment clearly.  At this point, I almost believed the story I'd told everyone else.  It made a lot more sense than what I thought I'd seen.
But she didn't need a secret to be out of my league.  She was brilliant and mysterious and beautiful and completely perfect.  If she was, in fact, able to lift a full-sized van with one hand, it didn't really matter.  Either way she was fantasy and I was the very most mundane kind of reality (61).
The way he arrives at his conclusion, even questioning the impossibility of what he saw, seems understandable, relateable.  It just seems real.
Add this: when Edward admits to Bella that he held her up in the parking lot to give Tyler a chance to ask her to the dance, Bella gets mad, but doesn't question how Edward could have known that's what happened.  Beau, on the other hand, does wonder that, and reasonably so.  I mean, Edythe was a car ahead, possibly with windows closed, and the roar of the truck is super loud (as we're repeatedly told), so, Beau is right to wonder how Edythe knew.
I assume this is just a matter of Meyer looking back and noticing holes in her own logic, but, it ends up doing the same thing, which is making Beau seem like a much smarter character than Bella.
Finally, she changed Twilight's squish (For not letting that stupid van squish me) to the much improved L&D's crush (For not letting Taylor's van crush me when it had the chance).  Thank goodness.  Squish?  Why?  How?  For what purpose?

Chapter 5: Blood Type

Synopsis:  Edward/Edythe and Bella/Beau spend lunch together, then Bella/Beau goes to Biology where she/he nearly passes out during blood typing.  On the way to the nurses office Edward/Edythe swoops in and carries Bella/Beau to the office, then drives her/him home.

Analysis:  So, this was the first incident I was like, I wonder how she'll handle this.  And, the answer was: in the exact same way.  True, Edythe doesn't technically carry Beau to the office, but, essentially.  Which is okay, I mean, Edythe is really strong.  It feels fine that Beau gets woozy; I actually thought he was way funnier about it than Bella.  I think Beau just seems to take himself less seriously than she does.
So, that's all fine.  But, then they walk out to the parking lot, and Edward/Edythe wants to drive Bella/Beau home, and it's the first time that Edward/Edythe gets kind of bossy, and, I'll tell you, it's a lot easier to read the scene in Life and Death.  I re-read the chapter in Twilight, and, yeah, it reads weird.  Like, Edward's holding onto Bella's coat, dragging her to his car, and she tells him--insists-- that he let her go, and he ignores her, and that's kind of weird.  There's no two ways about it: there is a lot of noise out there about how predatory Bella and Edward's relationship is, and that kind of "no means yes" nonsense doesn't help anything.  It just reads easier when Edythe's "little hand" grabs a fistful of Beau's jacket.
Which, again, makes me think, is that me?  Is that my cultural baggage that's making it feel like Beau has a choice in the situation but Bella does not?  I mean, Beau kind of breaks it down: while he knows Edythe is strong, he also knows that he's bigger than she is, taller, same age, and I think there's a confidence implicit in that.
The fact of the matter is, whether Edward has super-strength or not, he's stronger than Bella, he can--and does--physically dominate her, which is maybe what makes their interaction feel a little more sinister.
Also, there's something about Bella--and I realized I felt like this the first time I read Twilight, years ago, so I know it's not just in comparison to L&D, but she doesn't feel particularly mature.  Maybe it's the way she's always pouting or puckering her eyebrows or something, but she just reads really young.  So when Edward tells her she doesn't seem seventeen, I'm like, really?  But, when Edythe says the same thing to Beau, I kind of get where she's coming from.  He does seem more mature.  He seems more grounded, less likely to describe himself as helpless.
It makes me wonder how much of this change is due to the growth that can happen to a writer in ten years, and how much is due to Meyer seeing Bella interpreted by other people--Melissa Rosenberg and Kristen Steward in particular--who both seemed to see Bella as far more grounded and competent.
Also, I was for sure not expecting this, but L&D is occasionally kind of funny.  I was caught off-guard and nearly laughed during the scene in the parking lot.  Who saw that coming?  Not me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Life and Death: A Critical Analysis of Twilight Reimagined, Chapters 1-3

First of all, the cover: Good hand model.  Definitely masculine, but still, intriguingly delicate.  And the green apple is a nice touch.

Let's get to it.

Chapter 1: First Sight

Synopsis: Bella/Beau both leave Phoenix and arrive in Forks.  Respectively unpack and go to the first day of high school.  Meet friends, see the Cullens, nearly get murdered by Edward/Edythe.

Analysis: Well, it's better.  Like, a lot better.  Did you notice how much better the prose is?  I mean, I guess it's not a surprise; it's been ten years since Meyer wrote Twilight, but, still, I was surprised.  It's just easier to read.  Interest level-wise, it's feels basically like she used the "find and replace" feature in Microsoft Word and switched out the names, but, still, so much easier to read.
I'm interested in why she chose not to switch Charlie and Renee, when she swapped the gender of every other character in the story, down to the most insignificant teachers (Ms. Varner? come on).
The idea of a scatterbrained but lovable mother seems pretty acceptable, but maybe the idea of a father who couldn't keep hold on his life was too culturally charged (why couldn't he pay bills on time? is he a drunk?  why is he so dependent on his kid?).  Couldn't a male Renee (Ross?) have been one of those absentminded professor-types?
Or, maybe, and this is just occurring to me, it's too culturally charged to have a mother cede near full custody of her child to his father.  Actually, yeah, that's probably it.  Because then you wonder what kind of a mother would just give up seeing her son except for two lousy weeks a year?  What's going on with her?  What could she be doing that was so important that she couldn't leave Forks and live nearer?  Maybe she just didn't care enough.  It's too troublesome a question to deal with in the half a chapter that Meyer allows for Beau's reintroduction to living with his dad.
That's pretty interesting, actually.  Because though it's not explicitly said, you have to examine why we're so willing to accept a father's geographical estrangement from his child as a matter of circumstance or personality, but--were a mother to make the same choice--it would require significantly more explanation to get even close to acceptance.
Alright.  This is already getting interesting.
I will say I was disappointed, though, near the end of the chapter, when Beau goes into the office and catches Edythe cajoling the receptionist, MR. Cope, into letting her switch science classes.  If we are to take into account all canonical* literature, Edythe knows how her "low velvety voice" affects Mr. Cope, and while it seems toothless to have a young man twinkle his eye at a middle aged receptionist to get her to give him what he wants, it produces a much different visual image to have a young girl batting her eyelashes at a middle aged man, which I thought was a change worth exploring.  How would it look from the outside?  How would it look from the inside?

Chapter 2: Open Book

Synopsis:  Edward/Edythe disappear from school, then just as mysteriously reappear.  He/She speaks to Bella/Beau for the first time.

Analysis: Straight up Find and Replace.  But still, L&D is better.  Sooooooo much better.

Chapter 3: Phenomenon

Synopsis: Bella/Beau gets snow chains!  Edward/Edythe stop a van!

Analysis: It's really similar, which I guess is what I expected.  There's no reason that stopping a van from crushing someone should be any different for a super-strong female than it is for a super-strong male.  Though, when the van swings around to crush Beau's legs, Edythe utters a more understandable "Come on!" rather than Edward's lame "low oath".
There's a different feel to it, though, somehow.  When Bella's on a stretcher in the hospital and Edward comes to talk to her, it feels different, more powerless than when Beau and Edythe act out the same scene.  Which makes me wonder why?
Well, for one, Beau just isn't as goofy, frankly, and so he doesn't feel so ridiculous.  When Bella sees Edward in the hospital, she glares at him, though she says she'd rather "ogle" him (which I find personally embarrassing).  Beau simply stares at Edythe, trying to put the pieces together.  He's better written than Bella is, which makes him seem just more--I don't know--with it.  Less bumbling.  Less of a mess.

Next up, chapters 4-6.  Someone's going to faint during blood typing!!

*This assumes that Midnight Sun is considered part of the Twilight canon.  Which, we're all doing, right?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Summer Post-Mortem

James gets up with the girls most mornings.  Well, like, every morning.  There's breakfast and playing, and, depending on what time people woke up, a bit of Star Wars.

Some days I wake up and go for a run, or some days Edie has school and James starts to pick out clothes and get the girls ready for the day.

And every day since September started, I have come home or woken up to two girls waaaaay overdressed for the temperature.

James and I differ on a few thing, one being seasonal dressing: I like to wear summer clothes for as long as I can get away with, but James is always anxious to load up on fall layers.

So, I would undress, or remove layers, or take off socks.  I would let Edie wear her favorite summer dress with shoes instead of sandals and a jacket over it.  I would layer short sleeves under sweaters because I knew that afternoon would come and in the sun it would feel like summer still.

But, these days the high is falling.  Tomorrow it's in the fifties.  Summer this year felt so long, but so short.  It feels like it was just spring.

Soon, very soon--tomorrow, really--James's instincts will be right, and I'll have to concede summer defeat.

It happens every year, and it always hurts.

So, here's to photographic evidence of an Indian summer.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Running the Numbers

Eating: a Caramello I actually bought for James.  But, it's almost 1 pm and he's somewhere wearing a tie and I'm still in my pajamas, so, I ask you, who needs it more?

Listening: for Tiny to wake up.  She had a crazy night last night, or, rather, early morning up from 4:30 am to 5:40--just up), and is now on hour two of her morning nap.

Working on: Yet another secret project.

Worried about: Ugh, everything.

Reading: Twilight.  Kind of.  Well, skimming through it, re-reading the notes I made in 2010 when I bought it to write a paper.  I wrote about Twilight and Gilead.  I didn't compare them, that seemed really beside the point.  I just wanted to think about each of them, kind of next to each other.  Because that seemed weird and odd and sometimes you just have to pull the trigger.

Wondering: Is Twitter over?  Also, what's up with The Andy Griffith Show?

Drinking: Water/coke/water/coke.

Needing: I don't know; something.