Granite Flats Season 2 Premiere

The invitation to the Granite Flats season 2 premiere was something of a surprise. Our best guess is that Howard’s habit of posting movie reviews to his blog caught the eye of one of BYUtv’s marketing folks. (This was later confirmed) We walked up to the broadcasting building, not sure what to expect. I certainly did not expect to be greeted by a row of eager faces asking if we were press. Which we were, but it felt very strange to says so. Blogger, cartoonist, writer, podcaster, these are all titles we wave around quite comfortably. For this occasion we were press.

We didn’t know anyone. We didn’t even know much about the show, just that it was shot locally and possibly had a scifi tinge to it somewhere. (We were wrong about that. It is a cold war drama full of spying and conspiracy, lots of historical accuracy and intrigue.) The reception area was lined with banners, each with a cast member featured on it. I looked at all the faces, trying to figure out what we were in for with this show. I could tell it was set in the sixties, there were scientists and nurses, a sheriff, and some military men. There were also at least four featured pre-teens. Howard and I spoke for a bit with the man who’d sent us the invitation to come. As we spoke the actors came parading in. I say parading, but this was not because they intended a parade or because they sought to make an attention-grabbing entrance. It just seemed parade-like because they all arrived together on a bus from the shoot location.

Even if they had not arrived en masse, I would have guessed who they were, partly because the faces matched the posters, but also because the actors were the ones with professionally tailored make up and clothing. This doesn’t mean they were dressed to the nines, but even their hoodies fit perfectly. Actors are people for whom image matters tremendously. Their appearance is an integral part of their jobs and it was fascinating to get to witness that up close. It was even more fascinating to see that underneath the make up and clothes, they were just as happy to be part of this evening as Howard and I were. More so, probably, since they’d already emotionally invested in the show. It amused me to see the actors react to themselves on the banners. They photographed them and themselves with them. Somehow I thought they’d be blase about being on banners. They were actors in a show on TV, surely this was normal to them. But it wasn’t, and I realized that I was witnessing in the actors the same emotions I see in my writer friends when they have a book launch party or hold their book for the first time. You work hard to create something and then one day it is real in a way that it was not before. That is a marvelous day and I got to witness it.

People mingled and hugged each other, while Howard and I stood on the edges and watched. Then the doors opened and we all filed into Studio C, where we sat in the nicest bleachers I’ve ever seen. They were folding theater seats, but could obviously be pushed back against the wall just as most school bleachers can be. There were a few press people, like us (Press, yup still feels strange), but when the director, Scott Swofford, spoke, he was mostly speaking to everyone as family, part of the production. This is because most of those in attendance at this showing were related to cast members in some way. We were visitors at their party, but they made us welcome.

Then the showing began. I was impressed. Then I was impressed again. Then I laughed out loud, which I do not do for shows unless they’ve earned my trust in some way. Granite Flats is heavily serialized. We only had a two minute recap, which should have meant that I felt lost. But I didn’t. Instead I was engaged with the various plights of the characters. I connected to them emotionally and found them believable. I found myself fascinated by the editorial choices, the sets, and the casting. I truly enjoyed it.

Then the showing ended and everyone filed out into the reception area. Where before Howard and I hovered on the edges, this time we dived in. We complimented the excellent performances and then one of the actors, Maia Guest, pulled us through the crowd to introduce us to her husband, John Plummer, who wrote many of the episodes.

“How do you solve the Truth is Stranger than Fiction problem?” Howard asked. Which made both John and Scott (the director) laugh and say that they haven’t, because all their research keeps turning up factual accounts of the period and the MK Ultra experiments that would be unbelievable on the screen. I listened to them talk, praise their set designers, praise the actors, gush about this show that they helped to create, and it was beautiful to see. I love being around people who do creative work and are passionate about it. I love hearing them talk about the things they create. Howard and I would have happily monopolized the director and writer for hours, but we excused ourselves because they had other people who needed to speak to them.

We circulated some more and found ourselves talking to Taryn O’Neill who plays the part of June Sanders in the show. She was not featured in the episode we saw, but talking to her made me realize how many amazing people that the show has acquired. In addition to her acting, Taryn is a writer, contributing to and writing fiction. Of all the people we met during the evening, she was the only one who had even vaguely heard of Howard, and only then because she follows our friend Myke Cole on twitter. The world of creative people is far more vast than it sometimes seems when Howard and I are circulating among our regular crowd of con-going genre fiction writers. I hope I get more chances to meet people like I met last night. It is a wonderful experience to go where we’re completely unknown and yet feel welcomed and included.

Granite Flats is a show with really high production quality, excellent writing, solid acting, all of which is put together mostly with Salt Lake City local talent. It is funded by BYUtv, even though a scripted drama is usually far outside the scope of a college-based broadcasting station.I’m frankly amazed that it exists and feel very privileged that Howard and I got to attend their party. It is definitely worth your time. You can view season 1 on their website Season 2 will begin airing April 6 on BYUtv. I got the impression that Season 1 may be a bit rougher than Season 2, but I look forward to seeing all of it.

An Evolving View of the Twilight Series

I read Twilight about six years ago. It was after the third book in the series came out, but before there was a movie. I wanted to know what all the buzz was about, because I’d heard both raves and pans. I began reading and was pulled right in to the relationships portrayed. Then three hundred pages into the book, it suddenly had a plot instead of just a relationship. I enjoyed the book, but then I started to think about it. The more I thought, the more things I found that were of concern. It is one thing for a grown woman to read it as escapist fantasy, but I worried about young girls who were still forming their ideals for relationships. There is so much unhealthiness in the relationship between Edward and Bella. I was also concerned that Bella is so blank. She only makes one decision in the entire book and has to be rescued from the disastrous consequences. When my teenage daughter, Kiki, decided to spurn the books and join the anti-Twilight camp, I was glad and I never bothered to read the rest of the series.

Fast forward about six years.

A few days ago Gleek brought home Twilight from her junior high library. She told me that she had it, almost embarrassed, not sure that this was a thing that was allowed. She knew that lots of people hate the book. She knew her older sister dissed it. Yet she read the back cover and it sounded interesting to her, so she brought it home and she asked me if it was okay for her to read. Then I had a decision to make. At twelve, Gleek is at exactly the impressionable age that I was concerned about reading the book. If I told her not to read the book, she would probably obey. She’s a good kid. But I also know that the reason she’d obey is because she trusts me and I want to retain that trust. Someday she may ask to do something that I really feel is bad for her, something she wants desperately, but I have to deny. On that day I want her to know that I don’t just say no on a whim. I want her to trust me. Honestly, Twilight does not merit that level of concern. It is a romance book, probably no worse than half a dozen manga books that Gleek has read. So I told her my concerns about the series. We had a conversation about relationships and stalking. I told her why people love the book and why others hate it. Then I let her make her own choice. She decided to read it.

She loved it and will certainly be reading the rest of the series. And so will I, because I want to be able to talk about the things that happen in detail. I want to be able to reference specific scenes as examples as we have an ongoing conversation about how teen and adult relationships work. We’ll get to talk about how all people want to be desired and protected, but that those drives can lead them down dangerous paths if they are not wise. Those are really good conversations for us to have when she is twelve and most of this stuff is theoretical. So I suppose that a young girl reading and loving Twilight can be a good thing, which is not something I thought I’d hear myself say six years ago.

Shouting Out Some Things I Enjoy

A Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
I really liked this book. It falls into the category of YA paranormal romance, but it is far more about family. Also it doesn’t have a love triangle, which is good because those are so often done so very badly. Egyptian mythos and real emotion.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
I thought I’d guessed the ending reveal, but I only half guessed it and there were at least five other reveals which were just as cool. Once again Sanderson builds an amazing world and delivers some impressive action scenes.

Agents of SHIELD
I know this one has gotten lots of mixed reviews. I wasn’t sure myself, but it is really growing on me. Rewatching several episodes made me realize that things which I thought were weaknesses were just me not knowing the characters or rhythm yet. I hope this show gets a good long run so that it can finish building the story it has started.

Sleepy Hollow
I’m not generally a fan of horror and historical details are flat out made up about half the time. But I like the characters. I love who they’ve cast. It makes me happy to see a man being “the pretty one” who gets the special soft lighting. The show has promise, I hope it delivers.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Loved this novella. Loved it. I can see why it won the Hugo. Definitely worth the read.

Vodnik by Bryce Moore
I’m only part way into this, but so far it is building a compelling mythology and has taken me to a very believable Slovakia. I want to keep reading and find out what happens next.

Dancing With The Stars
I’ve been a fan of the show for years. I’m watching the current season as soon as the episodes are available online. I think Corbin and Karina are going to win it. I hope they do. I also hope that Lea and Tony stick around for a long time. I really like them. I’d never heard of Bill Engvall before, but now I like him quite a lot. I’m sad Bill Nye got injured so early. I wanted to see more dances from him. I never thought that I would feel any respect for Snooki, but she surprised me. She’s working hard and spending all of her non-dancing time taking care of her family. Once again Tristan’s partner left early, which is quite sad because I love watching him dance.

I recently re-watched a bunch of the show Angel. I skipped most of season four because the show really went to a weird place there. But there are some amazing episodes. I highly recommend Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been from season 2. I think it can be viewed as a stand alone episode and it is really good.

Goodbye Kaspersky, I’m Going Back to Norton

The tech folks at Best Buy told my that Kaspersky was the preferred anti virus protection for computers. It was rated much better than Norton they said. So when I bought my new desktop machine two years ago, I put Kaspersky on it. When I bought a laptop a year later, I put Kaspersky on that as well. Today I removed Kaspersky from both machines and paid to put Norton on them instead. I did this even though I only renewed Kaspersky a few months ago. In the past eight or more years of running Norton on various machines, the number of times I’ve had to troubleshoot is zero. The list of troubles with Kaspersky is below.

It installed easily and registered without trouble. Life was fine for 335 days. Then Kaspersky started popping open windows reminding me to renew. I followed the instructions to renew. Kaspersky continued to remind me over and over again that I should renew, not recognizing I’d already done it. Once the deadline passed, I had to call customer support and they walked me through a click-chain to get the program to recognize the renewal.

I bought the laptop and put Kaspersky on it, figuring the renewal problem was just a glitch.

Then my desktop machine started losing hard drive space. A hidden file was eating up all the space. WinDirStat showed me that Kaspersky was saving giant log files of doom. Some of them were over 50GB. I deleted the files and meant to call customer support about it, but got too busy. The problem was solved a year later when my hard drive died and I had to re-install from scratch. It is possible that the Kaspersky log files contributed to that crash.

Yet at this point I was still ready to defend Kaspersky as a good program. I don’t know why.

Some update taught Kaspersky to send me continual pop-ups telling me that a newer version was available. I didn’t want to upgrade at that time. No toggle would tell the program to stop doing it. So I lived with near constant pop-up notifications for over a year on two different machines.

The renewals for both Kaspersky installations came up again. They both reminded me endlessly to renew, even though I’d already done it. After the deadline, I went through the click chain to make the program recognize that it had been renewed. It did…for about three days. Then it claimed that my account was expired again. Repeat for several weeks. I tried upgrading in the hope that it would fix the renewal recognition and make the pop ups go away. Two birds, one stone. Then it complained of database mis-matching. I deleted and re-installed the old version. Then Kaspersky took to sending me a warning that I was unprotected every time the machine started up, only to realize that maybe I was protected after all.

I suppose I could have placed customer support calls on these issues, but I don’t think that I should have to place regular customer support calls to figure out how to make a program behave like it should.

Kaspersky on the laptop was broken in some way that seriously slowed down the machine’s restart process. Sometimes it took ten minutes for the computer to be ready to work. I timed it. With Norton installed and Kaspersky removed, the restart time is under a minute.

Last week my desktop machine crashed multiple times. Diagnostics show there is nothing wrong with the hardware. I suspect that the broken Kaspersky installation was conflicting with some other piece of software.

I don’t imagine that everyone has this much trouble with Kaspersky. It wouldn’t be so highly recommended if they did, but I’m done. Norton sends me a polite email telling me when to renew. Then it emails me a receipt. The program itself just runs and updates. I know it won’t be smooth sailing from here out, because for some reason my postage program won’t connect, and I’m going to have to solve that. (But that is a different customer support failure entirely. One that involves a tech on the phone continually asking me if my IT department has done something to my machine and telling me to give a list to my IT department, when I’ve repeatedly made clear, I AM the IT department.) Yet I’m hopeful that I won’t have to think about virus software for at least a year.

Now I just need to re-group and figure out how to re-work my schedule around the fact that I spent four hours of today dealing with computer issues instead of working on the Jay Wake book.

Thoughts that have Accumulated While Shipping Packages

I can tell it is shipping season by looking at my hands. They are dry from handling all the paper. The fingertips are sore from holding the edges of cardboard in place while I fold boxes. I have scratches and scrapes on the backs of my fingers from sliding product into boxes. I often have a cut or two from accidentally scraping some part of my hands against the cutting surface of the tape dispenser. Also my right wrist develops an ache.

I re-watched Brave on Monday night. It is a beautiful film that consistently manages to lance open unexpected emotional sores. Apparently I have unresolved emotional conflicts relating to freedom vs. restraint and Mother Daughter relationship struggles. I love Merida. I want to be Merida. Yet I am the mother. This makes me sad. It also makes me aware of how much depends upon what a reader/viewer brings with them to the story. No one else I know has such strong emotional reactions to this film in the places that I have them. I suspect I need to periodically return to the film to keep digging out what causes me to be upset. Also because it is a beautiful and fun film.

Two kids, two pocket knives, and several bars of soap results in soap carvings and soap dust coating one half of the kitchen. In theory soap dust is easy to clean up, but in truth it has to be carefully managed or one just ends up with soap scum on every available surface. Also, the kids are discovering that inadequately cleaned soap dust does not taste good. If soap carving is still a thing come spring, it will be evicted from the house.

My meal planning needs an overhaul. Frozen pizza should not be a staple.

When googling around to find answers for computer problems, it is best to picture yourself treading through swampy, snake-infested waters. Check multiple sources and think three times before downloading any “solutions.” Knowing this is half of what made me so panicked and exhausted when contemplating fixing my computer. The landscape out there changes fast and I don’t speak the native language.

The shipping of unsketched calendars is all done. Only sketched calendars to go. This is good since I’m starting to get emails from folks worried about Christmas presents. I don’t want to add to their stress.

Tomorrow I need to get my act together, conquer the laundry, and pay more attention to the kids and their homework. They’re pretty good at getting the daily stuff done, but I’m certain some longer-term projects are falling through the cracks.

Things I’ve Been Thinking About Which Are Not Long Enough for a Full Blog Post

These photos of people being scared. At first they were just funny, but then as I clicked through I became fascinated by the sameness of the facial expressions. It got to the point where I was staring at the photos trying to determine if they are real or people posing in caricatures of fear. I came to the conclusion that they are real.


I’ve been thinking about Charles Darwin ever since Howard tweeted this quotation from one of Darwin’s letters: “I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everything and everybody.” I find comforting that I’m not the only one who has stupid days. However I’ve been thinking even more about a statement made later in the article about Darwin

“He was not quick, witty, or social. He spent decades working out his ideas, slowly, mostly by himself, writing letters and tending to a weak heart and a constantly upset stomach. He was a Slow Processor, who soaked in the data, thought, stared, tried to make sense of what he was seeing, hoping for a breakthrough. All around were snappier brains, busy being dazzling, but not Darwin’s, which just plodded on until it finally saw something special, hiding in plain view.”

Darwin changed the world, but he didn’t do it with a flash of brilliance or by leaping insight. It makes me think of the tortoise and the hare. Also of my son Link, who is amazing, but not in a flashy, leap-of-insight way. He lives in a family of hares, I’m one of them, and I’ve learned a lot about how to commit to small daily effort just from watching him.


At the end of a school project–a child’s science fair project display, for a not so random example–there is an urge to just get the thing done. I want to be able to stop thinking about it. I want Get Child to Do Science Fair Project off of my to do list. This is how parents end up doing the work for their kids. It was very hard to restrict myself to cutting and taping while letting Patch do all the thinking and organizing. I could to it so much faster and neater, but then I’ve already learned the things that this project has to teach. Patch needs to struggle with them so that he can too. The result is a display that he is proud of and a project he can describe in detail because he knows how it works. Also: Mythbusters is a great way to expose kids to the scientific method. I know that there is a lot of theater and pseudo science in the show, but Patch instantly understood hypothesis, test with variables and controls, and conclusion. They were made familiar by Mythbusters.


I find it interesting how I can succeed at things all day long, but a small failure late in the day can alter my perception of the entire day. Out of all the things I could have gotten wrong yesterday, cookies are the least important. I guess it just threw me for a loop because cookies are easy. I have the recipe memorized, I can make them half asleep and they turn out great. But they didn’t last night, and it sent me back to thinking about the Darwin quote, the “I am stupid” part of it.


In Polish the idiomatic expression which means “Not my problem” translates to “Not my circus, not my monkey.” This makes everyone at Chez Tayler very happy and has now entered our family lexicon. Thanks to Dan Wells for tweeting it.


Watched an episode of Nanny 911 and spent the whole thing thinking about the power of a film editor. I half want to go through and track what people are wearing to deconstruct how misleading the episode was. All the tantrum footage was in the first part and all of the happy footage in the second, giving the impression that the nanny had made everything better. I’ll grant that she really did teach some important skills that the family needed to learn, but she also spent lots of time looking disapproving for the benefit of the camera. That sort of family therapy is best managed without the audience. I won’t be watching any more, though if I could find a similar show with a different editorial approach or tone, I might sample that. The psychology on display is interesting.


This is week five of Dancing with the Stars. I love that show and have been keeping my enthusiasm under wraps because I could bore everyone to tears talking about the relationships between the dance teams, the emotional arcs of the people involved, the editorial choices made about the clips, the execution of various dances, who I hope stays to the end, who I’d like to see go home, how this season compares to prior seasons, and the difficulties the show is going to have going back to a regular season after having this all star cast. Besides, blogging all of that isn’t nearly as much fun as finding someone else who loves the show as much as I do and sitting down in person to chatter.


The Iron Man 3 trailer hits all the right emotional notes for me. I hope the movie I get to see is the one in that trailer. I like emotional depth in my heroes and thus far Iron Man has amused me, but I don’t re-watch because I’ve already seen what there is to see.


I can not express how much I admire Robison Wells. He writes about his experience of mental illness and thus gives words to a problem that is usually kept out of sight.


I was recently at a laser tag place where I watched one teen hand something to another teen and say “Here you go. I feel like such a mom.” Later that same evening I heard a different teen say “Yeah. Moms are just like that.” I think I’ve figured out why I’m reluctant to self identify as a mom. Obviously I am one. I spend a large portion of my days nurturing my children and just about anyone else who gets near me. Yet when I start writing a list of who I am, mom ends up on the list at the tail end when I’m trying to come up with more things. Yet in the majority of advertising and entertainment, as well as in the minds of all teenagers everywhere, to be mom is to be unfashionable, over-responsible, rules-driven, boring, and ender-of-all-fun. Why would I want to identify with that?


Catherine Schaffer wrote a great post about why apocalypse stories are so popular. She has many good thoughts, but right at the end she wrote:

In our increasingly globalized world, even the most hawkish among us must admit, on some level, that our worst enemies are still human. So while some may argue that it’s justifiable to kill the enemy, there is no acceptable pleasure in it. Zombies, meanwhile, can be killed with gleeful abandon.

And I thought: of course. The rise of zombie fiction makes sense now. I find it very interesting that we are also seeing sympathetic zombie fiction, such as My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland. Even when we pick the ultimate enemy, some of us are still going to try to empathize. Which is hopeful for the human race I think.


My head is full of similar random thoughts all the time. Every thing I see or hear triggers new thoughts. This is why it is so important for me to step away and deliberately select activities that allow me to sort thoughts rather than giving me new ones.

Clearing My Head of Shirts and Shows

The last of the pre-ordered shirts went out this morning. Now I only have regular orders to fill. I’m glad to have the work. I’m also glad to be sending things out of my house. During the moments when I was too physically tired and brain dead for t-shirts I noodled around on Netflix and ended up watching a couple of episodes of Hoarders. I found the psychology involved fascinating, both the revealed motivations of the hoarders and my own psychology as I watched. I came away wanting to organize and de-clutter my whole house, which I suspect is a common reaction. Hoarders is fascinating in part because it is a magnification of things I do all the time. My house gets cluttered and messy. I don’t always clean it up quickly. I stack boxes in corners until I have time to deal with them. However I’m also aware that there is a fundamental difference. I am not a hoarder. I’m more likely to get rid of something and need it later than I am to keep something I’ll never use. My spaces get messy, particularly when I’m in the midst of a project, but then I clean it all up to make space for the next project.

In happier viewing, I watched Captain America: The first Avenger. I’ve seen it before, but this re-watch made me realize that I’ve crossed the line over into being a Captain America fan. I need to see Avengers again. I also watched Mirror Mirror for the first time. I really liked it. It was lovely, occasionally clever, and interesting. My feminist brain was not quite sure what to make of it, as the text of the film had messages of female empowerment, but Snow White herself was self-effacing and submissive through much of the film. I’ve decided to take the submissive aspects as a deliberate character choice rather than a social statement. Even a shy girl can learn to be strong and do it in a way that does not change her into someone else.

Having cleared my brain from shirts and shows, hopefully I’ll be ready next week to prep kids for school, ship the last of the merchandise to WorldCon, put Howard on a plane for GenCon, and (hopefully, maybe) open up my writing thoughts so that I have an answer for the question “What are you planning to write next?”

How To Raise a Strong Girl

Last week I saw several social media campaigns urging people to go see Brave on opening weekend. “Let’s show Hollywood that girl-led movies can make money!” they said, as if increasing the number of girl-led films would make the world a more fair place for women. I did see Brave during opening weekend, because Howard writes reviews and needs to see films early. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t because it managed to gut-punch me in my emotional baggage about motherhood roles.

Today I decided to spend my afternoon seeing Brave again. My kids had not yet seen it, and I wanted to re-view the film leaving my emotional baggage at home. I bought tickets and then set to work, before we could leave I had to make progress on my shelving project. I donned my work gloves and plugged in my borrowed electric sander. There is a sort of magic in watching a power tool turn a sharp wooden corner into a smooth round one. I glided the sander over the edges of the boards and dust blew away. I was careful to keep the sanding surface away from all my limbs and thought gratefully of my Grandpa who used to take me into his big garage and let me work on projects with him. With Grandpa, I soldered, repaired bikes, used a lathe, sawed wood, and hauled rocks. Grandpa let any grandchild was interested participate in the work; there was no distinction based on gender. Because of Grandpa, I am not afraid to pick up a power tool and make things even if I have never done so before. This shelving project is my first time using an electric sander.

Afternoon came and we all trekked to go see Brave. The kids loved it. They laughed out loud at exactly the slapstick moments which didn’t work well for Howard and me. I loved it too. I loved it as much as I wanted to love it the first time I saw it, but didn’t. The mother character, Eleanor, has to be rigid in order to provoke Merida into taking action. A more balanced representation of motherhood would have ruined the film. The scene where Eleanor quells the room full of brawling men is critical to a hero moment later in the film when Merida turns and faces down the woman who turned all those strong men into jelly. Yes it plays to a stereotype, but it allows that one moment which I think is the epitome of Brave, mother and daughter staring angrily into each other’s eyes because they have mutually exclusive plans for the future. I’m exceedingly pleased that the central conflict of Brave has nothing to do with romance or finding true love. If there is another girl-led animated film without a major romance component, I can’t think of it. In the car on the way home, I was thoughtful with tears pricking at my eyes, while the kids regaled each other with the antics of the comedy characters.

I’m glad I took my kids to see it, they now have a new princess story in their minds which is in many ways the antithesis of a class ic Disney-type film. But, if I were to weigh what I did today for gender equality, the most important thing I did was sand boards. My grandpa is not around to haul my kids (both boys and girls) into his garage to use power tools, but they can see that mom fixes stuff. For every movie where the girl character exists to scream, there is a time when I am fetched to slay spiders. For every movie with true love in it, they see a hundred days where mom and dad snap at each other grouchily and the laugh together later in the evening. For every movie where the dad helpless to manage the household, they have the days when Howard cleans the kitchen and makes dinner. Seeing a movie present a different perspective can be truly powerful, as when a young Whoopi Goldberg saw Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek and realized that black women could be on television without being maids. These powerful, pivotal moments in entertainment matter. Perhaps Brave is one of those moments and can change the world for some girls. But if I want to raise strong girls of my own, I just need to live as if the equality I hope for them already exists. I need to gift them with pocket knives, bows, arrows, hair ribbons, and nail polish as their interests warrant. My actions should say that of course they can be what they choose to be so long as they are willing to work hard to get there.

Life is not fair. It never will be. No movie can make it so. But strong girls can see the unfairness and do what they want to do anyway.

Summer Chaos and Brave

I’m the first one awake most mornings. I’m the last one to bed at night. Since it is summer, those bedtimes are later than usual. I rarely get my younger two off to sleep before 10 pm. Later if it happens to be one of the nights when our cul de sac fills up with kids playing night games, which happens every other night. Some days I get a nap in the afternoon. Most days I don’t. Usually the days have long stretches of time when I can focus on work or projects. Yet randomly a quarrel will break out, and I am the one who has to drop everything I’m doing to go create peace again. None of this is so exhausting as it used to be. As they mature, my kids are more able to help themselves and solve their own problems. It is just that everyone is here all the time and we all depend upon me to create the structure of our lives. I do it because it is important, because I crave the order as much as anyone else. This balance we’ve arrived at does seem to be the best solution currently available given the constraints of summer schedule and business requirements.

All of the above is what I took with me when I went to see the movie Brave. I wanted to love the movie, instead I only liked it because it prodded me right in my emotional baggage. You see, I want to be Merida, wild and free. I want to jump on the back of my horse and gallop through the forest shooting arrows and climbing waterfalls. I even want that glorious, untameable red hair. Instead I am Eleanor, the mother, the one who quells the fun and imposes order. I was very frustrated that Eleanor kept imposing princess behavior on Merida which seemed completely unvalued by anyone else in the society. It is one thing for a mother to insist her child learn something because it will definitely benefit the child later. This just seemed pointless. The movie was telling me that it is the job of adult women to impose civilization. “You must be Eleanor.” The movie seemed to say to me. “Be the embodiment of constraint.”

In after thought, I remember that there were portions of the movie where Eleanor also seemed trapped by her own expectations. At the end of the film Eleanor also gets to ride a horse. Lessons are learned all around, I suppose.

Each day I see all the things that are necessary. I see why they are necessary. I see how things must be done in order to achieve long term growth and goals. But the practical application of all of that leaves me being the one to impose order and structure on chaos and requiring others to help me. Part of me loves doing these things. I like order and calmness. I like my hair smooth while I create something of beauty with a needle and thread. Yet I also want to run through the woods with leaves caught in my wild hair. I think I need to see Brave again and view it while considering Merida and Eleanor as two possible aspects rather than feeling I must be one or the other.

Thoughts on Avengers — Spoiler Free Version

“What was your favorite part?” Howard asked Patch.
“Do I have to pick just one?” Patch answered with a concerned look on his face.
No son, you do not.
We spent a good hour this afternoon just talking about all our favorite bits. I’m not a fan of the Avengers comic, nor was I particularly attached to any of the Avenger characters prior to seeing the recent spate of Marvel films. This movie made me fall a little bit in love with all of them. I’m looking forward to seeing it again so that I can hear those funny lines in the non-action-y scenes when Patch and Gleek wiggled, asked for more treats, or otherwise unfocused my attention. During the action-y bits we were all enthralled.