Tuesday, September 2, 2014

You win some, you lose some....

I recently entered my first fiction writing contest (well, at least since high school, even though those were entered for me by my amazing creative writing teacher). I didn't win, but I'm not disappointed about it. The winning story was really good! I'm glad I had the opportunity to compete and that Every Free Chance Books allowed me to share my story here now that the contest is done.  (I wasn't sure if it would become their property whether I won or lost.) I want to thank Samantha Stroh Bailey for helping me with editing and for her support and encouragement!

Keep in mind I had to write this in 1000 words or less. Not so easy....

Side note: I did win a caption contest on Facebook recently and got a $10 Amazon gift card. It was a picture of an empty toilet paper roll and a full toilet paper roll right next to each other on the same holder and I said "This is how we roll." I apparently made the author who was running this contest giggle...a lot.

The Destiny Do-Over

“And you're Mary Tyler Moore. I don't care what they say about us anyway. I don't care…”
I reach out to whack my snooze button and notice that my clock radio isn’t where I normally put it. I somehow manage to whack someone in the face instead, as I hear a stream of expletives behind me. Except the voice doesn’t belong to Dan, my boyfriend of two years. And my room looks like it has thrown up a 1990s shrine, complete with Backstreet Boys and Friends posters.
“Okay, if this is some sort of surprise fortieth birthday prank, it’s not funny!”
“Aren’t you aging yourself a bit there, Jackie? You just turned twenty-one.”
The voice sounds familiar, and not necessarily one I want to hear first thing in the morning. Especially since it belongs to Bryan, my ex-boyfriend from college. Either I got really drunk on my last night of my 30s or I’m having a nightmare that I just can’t seem to snap out of. I squeeze my eyes shut and roll over, hoping that when I open them again, it will be March 11th, 2014.
I slowly open them. Chandler, Monica, and the gang are still looming over me from their spot on my ceiling. And now “Wonderful” by Adam Ant is playing on the clock radio that I still have yet to locate. “Did I tell you that I was wrong? I was wrong…”
As I look around my dorm room from junior year of college in 1995, I can feel my heart racing and I suddenly have trouble breathing. There’s no way this could be happening. No way. As I try to regain composure, I brush some stray hairs off my face, noticing that they’re much longer than the sleek brunette bob I recently got used to.
“Deep breaths, Jackie. You didn’t miss your Business 201 exam. You still have a few hours to study. That’s what’s wrong, right?”
“That’s far from what’s wrong at this moment. I’m supposed to be at work. And you’re not supposed to be here.”
“Slow down. What are you talking about? You signed me in last night when you were too drunk to get back up to your room alone.”
“I know this is going to sound absolutely insane but humor me for a moment. Today is my fortieth birthday and last night I was celebrating with my boyfriend, who I’m sorry to say is not you. When I went to bed, it was 2014, but now I’m somehow supposed to believe that it’s 1995. And that I’m twenty-one again. I don’t even have my iPhone here to prove that it’s true.”
“Is that like a phone you use with your eyes?”
“No. It’s half the size of what you would call a cell phone and you can do e-mail, surf the web, text, take and post pictures, Tweet…”
“Tweet? Text?” Bryan scratches his shoulder length blond hair, reminding me of how much I used to like running my fingers through it. I quickly snap out of my daze.
 “Look, I don’t have time for this. I need to find a way back.”
“A way back to what? Is there a secret time portal in your closet?”
It suddenly hits me that I gave up on my plans for the future to follow Bryan to Los Angeles so that he could follow his dream of writing the next big Hollywood film. And when he achieved that dream, he tossed me aside like the crumpled up scripts that made their home on the floor of his dorm. Something inside me snaps this time. I’m not going to live that life again. If I want to live in L.A., it would be on my own terms and I’d have a successful career to show for it. Who knows if it will lead to meeting Dan this time around, but if we’re meant to be together, we’ll somehow find each other. All I know is that I’m breaking up with Bryan now, before I waste my life on him again.
“Bryan, I can’t go out with you anymore.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Absolutely….not.  I have plans for my life and can’t waste them to focus on your big goal. Find another girl to follow you while you find yourself. I’m done.”
“Look, I have to run to class. Why don’t you sleep off your hangover and when I get back, we’ll talk about this.”
“There’s nothing more to talk about,” I say as he shuts the door behind him, a little too aggressively.
 I curl up in my bed, content in my decision, and doze off while “Zombie” by The Cranberries plays softly on my radio.
*****
“You're my end and my beginning, even when I lose, I'm winning…”
As I hit the snooze button, the smell of pancakes and coffee drifts into my room. It actually makes me feel slightly ill. I must have had more to drink than I thought.  I reach for my iPhone to check the date and to my relief, it says March 11, 2014.
“Happy birthday, sweetie!”
I turn to the voice that doesn’t sound anything like Dan and discover, to my complete shock, that Bryan is still here. But he’s an older, even more attractive version.  And he’s holding a tray with pancakes, hazelnut coffee, and a small bouquet of roses.
“How…how did you…how are we…”
“I’m guessing that when you had your weird time travel freak-out and decided to break up with me, I did some thinking.  So here we are…you, the hotel magnate and me, the Oscar nominated screenwriter. Now get yourself ready for work and then prepare to be wined and dined tonight!”

Either 1995 or the other version of 2014 was a dream, but after looking at my slightly rounded belly and feeling another wave of nausea come over me, I realize there’s no more going back.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Six degrees of Merrylandgirl

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about a year now, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week I chose the topic: Tell us about a time you were "set up" for a friendship with someone. Or a time you matched two friends together. (Or both.) Please keep it to "in person" friendships only since it's way too easy to connect people online these days.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

My friend Denise (different from Darwin Shrugged) changed the name of the famous Kevin Bacon game so that it applies to me instead. This is because she claims I know everyone. I don't think I know everyone, but I happened to bring a lot of friends together at once. After I graduated from college, I decided to bring some of my friends together because I felt they would be a good fit. I had some friends from college who lived nearby and could easily hang out with some of my friends from high school. Back in 2001, Kris (from HS) reunited me with Lauri and Denise. (They later reunited me with Dawn.) Around that time, Kris, Lauri, and I started bowling together and I invited Jenny (from college) to join our team. From that point on, she started hanging out with us more often, even though we had different circles of friends in college (for the most part...she introduced me to some friends with whom I am still in contact, as well). I also remember seeing Little Shop of Horrors at a community theater with Cari, Rob (both from college), along with Kris and Lauri. I think this is the first time I had seen Lauri in forever and thus Cari and Rob's first time meeting her too. They all hit it off though. Soon enough, we had this group of my friends from both high school and college. I was really the link between both groups or they never would have met. At some point down the road, Denise became close with Betsy and Jenny. I especially love her friendship with Jenny. I mainly see them interact through Facebook, but they also take all these fun pictures together and I just know that they're good for each other. If I lived closer, I'd be hanging out with them way more often. Nowadays, I'd introduce one of my closest friends in my neighborhood (along with her husband) to this group of friends, as I feel they'd also get along well with them. Their personalities would blend in well.

Just because I like bringing friends together doesn't mean that I am excluded from being matched with friends too. One of my favorite friend matchmaking efforts was from my mom. She introduced me to Sheila, who worked with her at the time. We are the same age and my mom thought Sheila was really friendly. I think I came with her to the office once so she could introduce us. From there, we would get together for dinner sometimes and eventually started hanging out more often. I find it ironic that the one friend my mom introduced me to was the first person to buy me a drink when I turned 21. We also danced together on top of a bar at Boogie Nights (an 80s dance club). She even took me to my first gay club (a few weeks prior to going with "Will" for his 21st birthday.) Sheila has always been really easy to talk with and I've enjoyed her company when we got together. We've since both have outgrown our "party girl" ways and are now moms of three kids each. When I was in town back in 2012, we got together and I got to meet her first two boys while she got to meet my daughter. It was great to see her again and I hope we'll be able to get together the next time I'm back in town for a visit. I'm definitely thankful that my mom thought to introduce us!

I'm always glad to connect friends with each other if I feel they would be a good match (for friendship, that is). In turn, I'm open to making new friends, so if you think I'd get along really well with someone, please don't hesitate to make an introduction.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back from my fiction break

Last month, I did not post any fiction because I just couldn't get into the mindframe for writing anything substantial. I was unmotivated due to everything going on in Israel and even in the US. However, fiction writing keeps my mind strong and I missed coming up with ideas. I did write a short fiction piece for a contest recently, but won't know until Monday if I won or not. Hopefully, I'll be able to share the piece one way or another. (So wish me luck! Thanks!)

The story I have for this month is based on a real-life situation I read about a few years ago and found recently in Timehop. (I LOVE that app!) 

Bring Out the Big Guns

“Mail’s here! And it looks like my diploma arrived too. I’m an official graduate!”
“That envelope looks a bit small to be holding a diploma, don’t you think?”
“Maybe it’s a letter telling me where to pick up my diploma?”
Chris used his index finger as a letter opener and pulled out a letter written on letterhead from Hargrove High School.

Mr. Lyons:
It has come to our attention that you used an inappropriate word in your Valedictorian speech, implying gun violence. Therefore, we cannot give you your diploma at this time and have alerted the admissions office at Princeton that you have not officially graduated.  If you wish to appeal this decision, please have it to us in writing within 30 days of receiving this letter.
We apologize for this change in plans.
Regretfully,
Simon Grinne
President, Hargrove High School Board of Education

Chris read over the letter several more times in stunned silence.
“What? You’re starting to scare me here.” His mom, Abby, tried to glimpse at the letter, but Chris held it against his chest, still standing in shocked silence.
“Gun violence. When have I ever told anyone to use guns?”
“What are you talking about?”
“They said I can’t officially graduate because I 'implied' gun violence in my speech.”
“I’m sure it was a misunderstanding. I have your speech on video. Unless I was sleeping—which I wasn’t—I didn’t hear a thing about using guns. You’re the least violent person I know! And I’m not just saying that because you’re my son.”
Abby scrolled to the video on her iPhone and turned up the volume. When it was finished, she still looked puzzled. “There’s nothing about guns in here. I am—I mean—we are going to take this to the school first thing tomorrow so they can tell that idiot Board President that he was hearing things. “
“Good. Maybe we’ll get this whole nightmare behind us. I hope I can convince the admissions office at Princeton that it was all a mistake.  Liz and I were supposed to go there together. She’ll freak out if she has to go without me.”
“We’ll get this all figured out. Don’t worry about it.”

*****
“Mrs. Lyons. Christopher. Thank you both for coming in. We’ve reviewed the video of Christopher’s speech several times and there’s no mistaking it. He said the word ‘shoot.’ According to school guidelines, words that are related to guns in any way are not permissible at school programs.” Simon Grinne adjusted his glasses and scratched at his bald patch as he spoke.
“He said ‘shoot for the stars.’ It’s a common saying.”
“He could have said ‘reach for the stars.’ It would have been more acceptable.”
“Then why didn’t you review his speech before he gave it and make the appropriate edits. Isn’t this your fault?”
“Given that he’s the Valedictorian, which makes him the smartest student in his class, he should have taken the responsibility to look over the guidelines before writing his speech. My hands are tied here and we cannot let him graduate given that he promoted gun violence in any capacity, even unintentionally.”
Chris groaned and buried his head in his hands.
“Simon, if this is about me turning you down for prom way back when, ruining my son’s life is not the way to handle it.”
“Well, aren’t you full of yourself, Abigail Grant. What made you think I’d even remember you until you just mentioned that?”
“The fact that you told everyone I was pregnant with Dan Harper’s baby after I turned you down, but the laugh was on you because Dan came out of the closet around that same time. I know you’ve been waiting to get revenge ever since.”
“You’re just a bit paranoid, Abigail. That still isn’t going to change what your son said in his speech. He can appeal it all he wants, but a rule is a rule.”
“With all due respect, Simon, we will find a way around this. Chris would never hurt a fly.  And he’s way more popular than you would have ever been, even if you had been in school now. So you know where you can shove your pompous attitude.”
Chris just scowled at Simon as he followed his mom out of the office and back into the warm June sunlight.

*****
Dear Mr. Lyons,
We regret to inform you that we received a letter from Hargrove High School’s Board of Education stating that you did not graduate. We have no other choice but to revoke your admission. Should you resolve this matter and take the extra steps to graduate, we can add you to the bottom of our waiting list.
Best of luck to you.
Sincerely,
Rosie Watson
Dean of Admissions
Princeton University

This time Chris was vocal in his response to receiving the letter from Princeton that threw his future a huge curveball. “They’ve got to be kidding me. Did they even bother to listen to my side? No! I would never use a gun, but I have the strong desire to kill Simon right now.”
“Don’t let him hear you say that or you’ll probably get pushed back to freshman year and have to start high school all over again.”
“This is not a time for jokes, Mom! What is Liz going to say? She’ll probably break up with me. No one wants to date a Valedictorian who can’t even manage to graduate and get into an Ivy League school! I’m screwed!”
“I’m sure Liz will understand. She loves you, right?”
“I guess we’ll have to see.  I dread finding out though.”

*****

Dear Chris,
After our talk the other night about your new college plans, I’ve decided that I should make a fresh start by going to Princeton as a single lady. I don’t think I can do the long distance thing. It’s been a great couple of years, but I’ve decided to move on and see what happens in college.
Love (as a friend),
Liz

Chris slammed his laptop shut and threw it on the ground, jumping on top  of it. How could his girlfriend of almost three years break up with him through a Facebook message? What was wrong with the world?
“Christopher Joseph Lyons! That is not the way for a Valedictorian to behave! You’re paying for any damage done to that computer, so you might as well get a job while you’re waiting for this graduation issue to get resolved.”
“But she...broke up….with me….on Facebook!” Chris was sobbing as he continued to stamp on his laptop. “And who is going to hire a Valedictorian who didn’t graduate, can’t get into Princeton, and whose girlfriend broke up with him through a social media site? I’m. A. Joke!”
“I’m sick of the self-pity party. So you said a word that was taken grossly out of context. We’ll fight this. You’re better than Simon Grinne ever will be.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re my mom.”
“The entire student body was cheering for you at graduation. You were invited to all the parties year-round. Clearly I’m not the only one with a high opinion of you. Besides, you haven’t checked the mail today.”
“Why should I? All I seem to get is more bad news.”
Abby sighed and handed him a letter encased in a gold envelope with fancy calligraphy on the front.

Dear Mr. Lyons,
We would like to formally invite you to visit Wrightman College and see how an education here can open doors for you in your future career path. We heard about your predicament and we would be open to you just taking an admission exam in order to qualify. We are a prestigious college, established in 1882, and we only invite people we believe would represent us with the utmost quality.
Please contact us at your earliest opportunity to let us know if we can arrange a visit to our campus.
Sincerely,
Jasmine Kirtch
Dean of Admissions
Wrightman College

“Is this some kind of trick to make me feel better?”
“No! It’s real. It came in the mail today. I’ve never even heard of this school.”
Just then, he heard a pinging from his iPhone, alerting him to a new Facebook message.
“If Liz wants me to take her back, it’s too late.”
“Maybe you should just look for yourself.”

Hey Chris,
I wanted to tell you how sorry I was to hear what the school did to you. You totally didn’t deserve that. I found out when Liz got all drunk outside Taco Bell and decided to tell everyone who walked by how her boyfriend somehow ruined HER life. Of course, the gossip got to me pretty quickly, given my sister, Tiffany, is her best friend. In any case, you should have received a letter from Wrightman College by now. My cousin’s father-in-law works for the admissions office and I asked her to tell him what happened.
I also wanted to thank you for not making a freshman like me feel invisible. It’s hard to fit in when everyone expects me to be like my sister, and I’m not. So I appreciate you giving me attention that was purely about me and my interests. It means more than you know.
Anyway, if you decide to go to Wrightman, I hope you’ll stay in touch.  
Your friend,
Marnie Douglas

Chris reread the letter several more times in quiet contentment.  Before he could even think of something deep and meaningful to say back, he decided to write a quick message instead.

Marnie,
I believe I have something to celebrate. Care to join me for ice cream in 30 minutes? I’ll swing by.
Hope to see you soon.
Chris

Simon may have made his life a nightmare, but maybe he did him a favor in the end. Either way, Chris hoped Wrightman would give him the tools to become far more successful in the future and he magined the look on Simon’s face would be when that happened.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dead Celebrities Society

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about a year now, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week Moma Rock chose the topic: Robin William's death has shocked the world. It made me wonder: What celebrity deaths have you found most shocking, and why?

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

First of all, I want to share my thoughts about Robin Williams. They're not on his death or how it happened, as I have no idea what he was thinking or feeling. I've seen him in many different movies and he's always been a source of incredible talent. I loved him best as Genie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, and John Keating (Dead Poet's Society). He was also really funny as the doctor in Nine Months. And I forgot that he had a small role in To Wong Foo... I even saw some roles he was in movies that weren't as well-known, such as The Final Cut and House of D. The most recent movie I saw him in was The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. Maybe that's why I wasn't so shocked about his death. His character in the movie is told that he's dying within a short period of time. I probably associated it with real life or something.
Side note: Just from looking him up on IMDB, I found out that his birthday is right after mine.

There are other celebrities that have died too soon or their deaths just came out of left field:

Actors:

Cory Monteith: Since he was in rehab and seemed to be doing better, I didn't see this coming at all.

John Ritter: I remember it was after the first anniversary of 9/11 and I was driving to work when I heard the sad news on the radio. John was so funny on Three's Company and seemed like a cool guy in general (he wasn't always after attention from the media).

Brittany Murphy: I loved her in Clueless and she was great in some other movies, as well. She definitely went down in her prime.

Chris Farley: I was working at a resident facility for adults with developmental disabilities when I saw on a TV that Chris Farley had died. I was totally shocked. One of my friends who worked there with me was also a fan of his and I ran over and told him right away. He was really upset.

Phil Hartman: He was a great comedic talent and it was truly disturbing what happened to him. I'll always remember him as Frank Sinatra.

Singers:

Whitney Houston: I used to be obsessed with her music. I'd listen to her cassette every day (the one with "How Will I Know") and memorize all the songs. I even saw her in concert when I was 10. She was great in The Bodyguard, as well. I didn't give her much thought after that, but was still shocked to hear about her death.

Michael Jackson: I wrote a tribute to him a while ago. In any case, I remember going to a county fair and then having dinner afterward. My mom called as we were sitting down at the restaurant and she told me the news. I can't believe it's been five years. I definitely did not see his death coming.

Michael Johns: He was one of my favorite American Idol contestants in 2008 and I was sad to see him get sent home so soon. I didn't give him much thought after that, however, so this news blindsided me.

Kurt Cobain: I listened to Nirvana all the time in high school and still listen to the Nevermind album nowadays. Kurt had a soulful voice and I definitely was affected when I found out that he killed himself.

Writers:

Nora Ephron: I didn't know she was in her early 70s and sick when she died. All I know now for sure is that she's a great writer and director. Her talent lives on thanks in part to The Mindy Project and Linda Yellin's novel, What Nora Knew.

Billie Letts: I was totally sad to read about her death in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. Even though she was in her mid-70s, I always imagined her as much younger. I knew she had stopped writing novels and I kept hoping for more. She's responsible for my favorite movie of all time, as she wrote Where the Heart is as a novel first. The novels she has written since then have all been fabulous, as well.

*****

On a lighter note, I'm impressed that Betty White is the last "Golden Girl" standing. Even in her 90s, she's as feisty as ever. I keep hoping she's immortal because I know the world will be grieving big time when it's her turn to join Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia, even if it's by natural causes. However, I can totally see her living into her 100s.

Which celebrity deaths shocked YOU the most?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CLEAR YOUR SHELF Giveaway Hop!

CLEAR YOUR SHELF GIVEAWAY HOP

August 20th  to August 27th 
Hosted by  Bookhounds  & I Am A Reader 


There are a bunch of blogs participating in this one so be sure to stop by each one. Each has their own entry rules and geographic limits, so be sure to read the rules for each one.  This hop starts August 20th and ends August 27th at midnight EST.


Here's what you can win:





*Open to anyone with a US mailing address, PO Boxes OK!
*The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here, as well as emailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
*This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified.
*The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
*Giveaway was organized and sponsored by me.
*VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway






Friday, August 15, 2014

A Tribute to "Orphan Black"

I just recently watched both seasons of Orphan Black and am experiencing a TV hangover. (Similar to a book hangover, but instead it's hard to watch another show after something so incredibly good.) Orphan Black is such an amazing show and I don't get how or why it was denied Emmy nominations (same goes for the lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, who should totally win several Emmys for all the roles she plays). After each episode was over, I would say "such a great show." I rarely do that with TV shows. It's definitely intense and suspenseful with some gory scenes, but there's also a lot of humor and emotional aspects, as well. I don't even want to give a synopsis because I feel like that would be giving away some of the plot. There's just too much to explain. I will share IMDB's quick description in hopes that it intrigues you:

A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her.

Yep...that's all you're getting if you haven't seen it yet. Just trust me that you need to see this show because it's so intense and amazing. It's like a book I don't want to put down even when real life is calling. Now that it's done, I am not motivated to watch anything else for a while (hence the TV hangover).

If you have seen it all the way through, I am going to delve into more detail below.

If you don't want any SPOILERS, stop here and come back when you've watched both seasons in their entirety. This post will still be here when you get back!


LAST CHANCE to turn back before you find out more than you should know....


Since the episodes have so much happening and seem to blend into each other so that you don't know where one ends and the next begins, I instead want to focus on the characters. I'll share my thoughts on all the major players, as well as possibly some smaller roles.

Sarah Manning: She's like Sarah Connor, River Tam, and Sydney Bristow combined. While she definitely is the center of the show, her story doesn't take away from the other stories. What's at the heart of the story is how she tries to protect her daughter, Kira, as well as the other clones, while also watching her own back.
Alison Hendrix: There's a reason she's one of the 25 best characters on TV, according to Entertainment Weekly. At first, she seems completely rude, but then she loosens up and we get to see her in all her glory. I love that she's in a musical that seems to reflect what is happening in her life. I love her friendship with Felix. She's the epitome of a "Desperate Housewife." (If she had been on that show, she would have totally been Bree. Or maybe Lynnette....)
Cosima Niehaus: I think she's my favorite of the clones. I love how she talks. Her voice is full of wonder, but she also seems to know the most of what is going on. Her cat-eye glasses, braids, and nose pierce all add to her essence, as well. I think one of my favorite things she did was school all the guys in that role play game. That was awesome! She was even inspirational for one fan (see item three on the list).
Helena: At first she's evil and not to be trusted. Then she manages to show her softer side. And when she is evil again, it's all to help Sarah and protect herself. Her long, blonde curls stand out the most. She has a lot of chutzpah and is afraid of nothing. I love how she cut off Olivier's tail before he could even think about it and also how she played Henrik at his own game (and won). My favorite scene involving her has to be with the guy at the bar. It showed her softer and more vulnerable side and it was nice to see that she had a chance to be loved. She's also really good with kids, which is something I never saw coming initially. I just hope she'll be okay, based on where she was taken at the end of season two.
Tony: Even though he was only on for one episode, he was memorable. Tatiana looks good as a guy (even though he's actually transgendered). I just wish he had a cleaner look. Maybe shorter hair or a better looking beard? Then again, I'm just jealous because he got to kiss Felix. Priorities! :) I wonder if he'll be back next season.
Rachel Duncan: Sometimes it's hard to believe that she's also a clone because she seems so different from everyone else. Not sure if it's the hair, voice, facial expressions, etc. I just keep forgetting that she's also being played by Tatiana. Her fits of rage remind me of a combination of my three year-old and six year-old children when they don't get their way. There was one point when I was hoping she'd actually become nice, but then she completely changed the game when she kidnapped Kira.
Mrs. S: She's good. She's evil. She's good again. And then when you think you can trust her, she pulls a stunt in the last moment of the last episode. I do love when she took down the woman and her son at the house in the woods.
Kira: I have to admire a kid who manages to stay strong while being put in some scary situations. I love how she pulled her tooth out to help Cosima.
Felix: Sorry, Cam Tucker, but Felix is my new fictional gay best friend. He's the kind that I manage to develop an unrequited crush on though. I just love how he tells it like it is and his friendship with Alison is my favorite relationship. I was laughing so much when Alison only wanted to talk to him during the intervention and he was all smug about it. And how he spiked Vic's drink. He's just plain awesome in every way.
Paul: He's another one I'm not sure about trusting. Especially now that he and Mrs. S are in cahoots. I love him and Sarah together though. He still wants her even though it's probably not going to happen for him at this point.
Art Bell: At first I didn't trust him, but he's really one of the good guys.
Angie: I don't like her at all. Especially since she was working with Vic to get the dirt on Alison. There's nothing redeemable about her personality at all.
Cal: I like his role in the show, how he's Kira's dad and is also trying to help Sarah. I like how he hacked DYAD's website.
Donnie: I didn't like him at all for quite some time, but after he killed Dr. Leekie and threatened Vic, I appreciated him so much more. The scene where he shoots Dr. Leekie is incredible. You know that he wants to do it anyway, but it ends up being an accident. And suddenly he has this new bad-ass side. Given that he's Alison's husband, he'd also be great on Desperate Housewives.
Dr. Aldous Leekie: I knew he was bad news the first time I saw him at the Neolution seminar. He tries to act like a good guy, but he really isn't. And when you find out what evil he was capable in the past, it makes what Donnie did to him that much better. Fun trivia fact: Matt Frewer, who played Dr. Leekie, was Max Headroom back in the 80s.
Delphine Cormier: I was worried that she couldn't be trusted, but she is also too trusting herself and manages to get pulled into two different directions as a result. I know she truly loves Cosima and regrets anything she did to mess up their relationship at any point in time. Also, I love her accent.
Scott: He seemed to be on the sidelines for a while, but I like how he got pulled into the fold and what he did to help Sarah in the season two finale.
Ethan: I wasn't expecting to meet him at all, but I'm glad he was found and that there was some explanation behind everything that was happening. I am annoyed that he chose to end his life so that he couldn't help Rachel anymore, but glad that he left all his notes for Cosima to find. I hope this will help her get better.
Henrik: There is nothing to like about him at all whatsoever. He's abusive and self-serving. I'm disgusted by what he did to Gracie, especially. I'm so glad Helena got revenge on him before either she (or possibly Gracie) did away with him for good.
Gracie: She's really ballsy...I have to give her credit for that. Of course, with parents like hers, she has to be. Not only is Henrik awful, but her mother is so mean too. And it seems like she was lied to since she was under the impression that if she brought Helena back, she wouldn't have to carry the babies herself.
Mark: While he comes off as super creepy and evil, at least when it's involving anything to do with the clones, I liked how he became a softie for Gracie. However, I don't know that I want him to be cloned. Obviously, I don't have a choice in that matter. I thought one of him was bad enough. The clone in Marian's house was even creepier!
Daniel: Another person with no redeemable qualities. I'm SO glad Helena did away with him.
Aynsley: She was the epitome of a villainous character from Desperate Housewives. Even though she was nosy, obnoxious, and bossy, I don't know that she deserved to die. I love that Alison slept with her husband, but I wish the insanity had stopped there. Although calling her out on all her shenanigans at the intervention was a nice touch too.
Sarah Stubbs: She was nice, but I almost felt like she smothered Alison a bit. I had to wonder what would have happened if she found out Alison's secret.
Marian Bowles: Her role in the cloning experiments is interesting. Especially since she's the mother of a younger version of Sarah, et. al. She seems nice enough, but it sounds like she has a hidden agenda too. I'm glad she was working against Dr. Leekie, instead of with him, though.
Vic: While I kind of feel sorry for him with all the bad stuff that kept happening (getting his finger cut off, getting his hand nailed to a table, the glitter incident, etc.), I also was glad when Donnie threatened him. I'm hoping he'll leave everyone alone from now on. He seemed like a comic relief for the show, even when he was being all scary.

*Crazy side note...when we were watching the episode with Alison's potluck party, there was a part where Vic was about to shoot Paul. Just as he raised his shotgun and pointed it, there was a huge clap of thunder and our power went out. Talk about freaky timing!

*My thoughts on the last moments of the season two finale: Well played. I did not see that coming at all. However, I think it would have been better if Felix had been cloned instead. It would have been cool if he was also a clone all along and didn't even know it. Besides, maybe a few straight versions of Felix would be available, even though I probably wouldn't enjoy their fashion choices as much. ;) (Actually, Jordan Gavaris doesn't look like Felix when he's not on screen. Still cute though....)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not to overreact or anything....

Sometimes I only get the chance to blog once a week. And since I can't always get up the motivation to think of a topic, it's nice to have other friends to blog with so we can take turns. I enjoy being challenged to write about stuff that might not normally come to mind and also reading everyone else's thoughts on the same topic. Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about a year now, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

This week Darwin Shrugged chose the topic: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic:
Darwin Shrugged
Froggie
Moma Rock

It's hard not to immediately think of Kelly Clarkson when I hear this phrase. While I was considering taking a humorous angle to discuss what it's like to have a three year-old and all the mood swings that go along with it (both hers and mine), I realized that wasn't what is really "killing" me these days. In fact, she's one of the bright spots in my day and all she has to do is talk! No, this is something a bit heavier, so brace yourselves.

This has been, perhaps, the longest summer of my life. And I spend most of it the same way I spend the rest of the year....working. So it's not like I'm spending endless days at home. It's mainly to do with the war that is going on in the Middle East. You'd think it wouldn't affect me as an American, but it affects me a lot as I support Israel. I may have mentioned it before, but I was there in 2002 for Birthright. It was an amazing experience that shaped who I am as a Jew nowadays. Oddly enough, even with bad Middle Eastern relations going on even back then, I felt safer than I did on the "L" in Chicago. Then again, I was on a bus with an Israeli army soldier during most of the trip. And we avoided areas that could possibly come under attack.

Where am I going with this, you might ask? Well, every time I hear something bad said about Israel, I feel personally attacked. Every time I hear about anti-semitic things happening either in the US or overseas, it eats at me like a parasite. And when I hear about acts of anti-semitism in my own neighborhood, I feel like another year has been taken off my life. I'm surprised my hair hasn't completely turned gray from all this stress and anxiety. I recently posted something about all the anti-semitism going on and someone commented about how we're over-reacting as a whole and that it's really minor in comparison to the Holocaust. While I understand what she's getting at, things might be different where she lives vs. where I live. Pardon me for taking it seriously, but if we laugh this off and ignore that it's happening, we're not doing ourselves any favors. Another friend posted that we should have trained armed guards at all the shuls, even though I still think having police presence nearby would be enough. That's still better than someone standing around with an instant door locking mechanism on a string.

After hearing about a woman in our neighborhood being told to "go back to Auschwitz," I'm sometimes afraid to leave my house. This is especially the case on Shabbos when we're all walking to shul. We're out in the open and can't just get in our cars to escape potential danger and threats. I warned my husband about this the other day and he then made fun of me for worrying. I had to show him the post about the woman who was yelled at in order for him to believe that this is all really happening.  A few weeks ago there was a fire alarm at our shul and I was convinced it was part of some terrorist plot. I couldn't find my husband and older son anywhere and I thought they'd be the first to head to the playground. I felt so anxious until I found them. Hearing the alarm go off (and subsequently the sirens from the fire trucks) made me think of what people in Israel are dealing with constantly on a daily basis and how they have less time to get to a bomb shelter than we do to get out of a building. I'd be a complete goner if I had to hear sirens all the time and rush to safety with only seconds to spare, if that.

This has gotten to my head so much that I won't answer the door unless I'm expecting someone. The other day, the exterminator came over to do our routine bug spraying around the house and he rang the bell first. I wasn't expecting him and didn't answer it. I didn't recognize the car when I looked out the window, so he could have been anyone for all I knew. I'm even wary about going to Kosher stores and restaurants right now. If a non-Kosher restaurant owner who displayed an Israeli flag is receiving death threats, how soon will these crazy anti-semites go after Kosher restaurants and potentially their customers. I know this is probably what they want...for such places to lose business. However, I'm not ready to put my life on the line until I know there's no threat to the safety of my family and myself. Maybe I'm letting my imagination get the best of me, but it's hard to trust that we're safe at all these days.

While social media is a blessing in a way (we're using it to spread the truth in the wake of such blatant lies being told in the regular media), it's also a curse because all I see these days are posts and articles and videos about what is happening in Israel and how the rest of the world is reacting, including in the US. I hear about Rabbis being murdered, swastikas painted on cars and shuls, anti-Israel rallies, Islamization of America, political rants, etc. It gets to be too much. Yes, I do take part in sharing this stuff too, but I read and watch what I share first. If it sounds too far-fetched, I don't share it. I recently read a quote in a novel that summed up this social media aggravation quite well...almost like it was a harbinger.

"Thanks to modern technology, folks who aren't qualified to make a decision about what's for dinner now have the ability to make snap judgments at a moment's notice, and what's worse, the ability to voice them without having to stand behind what they say. It gives a whole new meaning to the words 'witch hunt.'" (From The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich.)

I will admit that I've posted some articles because I liked what they said, before learning that some parts were contrived or re-written to suit today's situation (or that the wrong person was being quoted, for that matter). However, I didn't post such things to be hurtful as much as to put the truth out there (ironically enough).

While all of this is figuratively killing me, I don't know that any of what is going on is making me stronger. Less ignorant, perhaps. I feel like I get weaker and weaker as more hatred is displayed on my screen each day. Maybe this is making me more educated because I'm taking the time to read articles from reliable sources that explain what is going on. I also look for an acquaintance's AIPAC posts each day that have updates of what is happening in Israel. The one thing that does keep give me strength is knowing that we're all in this together as Jews. We're all using social media to warn each other about potential threats. We're all looking after each other in the US and our family and friends in Israel. I've even received some wonderful support from my non-Jewish friends and that also strengthens me because I realize that there are still good people around us. Seeing how many people have access to the truth is encouraging, but I hope I can persuade everyone to pass along the pieces of truth I am sharing so that as many people as possible could see it. The more who know what is really happening, the better the chances of this stopping once and for all. We didn't have the advantages of social media 70 years ago, which is why people are in denial that the Holocaust actually happened, even with the concrete proof right in front of their faces. The more we can spread the truth about what happened then and what is still happening now, the sooner we can say "never again" for good.

This article sums up a lot of what I'm feeling and thinking, as well. I encourage you to read it and ask questions. May this be the first article you pass along to your social circles. Most importantly, do your research before believing what the news media  is spouting forth. Thank you, if you've stuck with me this whole time (by either reading this article or by being supportive).