Bucky Barnes and the Scraps of Humanity

Spoilers throughout for Captain America: Civil War


I read in an interview for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that actor Sebastian Stan had based his performance as the Winter Soldier/Steve Rogers’s best friend in part from his observations of his step-father battle with Alzheimer’s. As someone whose job it is to care for people suffering from a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia…I can tell you, it really shows. This is probably why that character has resonated so strongly with me: I never was a Marvel fan or even a Captain America fan until I saw The Winter Soldier. Then I saw Captain America: Civil War and realized that this movie continued all the threads that had so completely pulled me into its predecessor…including everything that made Bucky Barnes so achingly familiar.

Perhaps the saddest moment for me in this surprisingly sad movie was when the bad guy was triggering Bucky’s programming…all while Bucky was trying desperately to get away from him, before Zemo could finish saying the words that would remove what little scraps of humanity Bucky had regained for himself. The look on his face, that raw desperation and frenzied panic: I’ve seen that look before. I’ve seen it many times. It has been my painful privilege to be witness to the moment when the switch flips between lucidity and confusion and I’ve seen that look of panicked desperation to hold onto themselves on the faces of my residents. And I’ve seen the look of profound guilt and powerlessness when they come back to themselves and count up the damage done.

One resident didn’t recognize me when I came in to check on her and scratched my face and my arms, yelling that she was going to kill me. I left the room and when I went back an hour later to check on her again, she was crying. You see, when her memory of who I was came back, the memory of what she had done to me didn’t leave. She was crying, begging me to forgive her and wanting to know if I still loved her.

I told her of course. I told her that what happened wasn’t her fault, that she hadn’t chosen this disease, that she hadn’t chosen to forget who I was. She hadn’t chosen to cause pain to the people around her. It wasn’t her fault.

“No,” she replied. “I didn’t chose this. But I did this,” she added, resting her hand on the scratch marks her fingers had left on my arm only an hour before. That is almost word-for-word the exact same conversation as in a scene between Bucky and Steve in Captain America: Civil War. 

It hit me like a load of bricks, because like me, Steve had no answer for that. There’s nothing you can say, really. You can’t deny them their pain anymore than you can deny them their humanity. You can’t affirm their agency and deny them the validity of the experience of losing their minds. Alzheimer’s and other traumas shatter people, their lives, their sense of identity. As a caregiver, or really just as someone who cares about them, you don’t want to diminish their sense of personhood even more.

And that was the second saddest part of this movie: watching Bucky in Romania, trying to gather to himself some scraps of his shattered humanity. Buying plums (which, incidentally, help to improve memory) and trying so hard to find again what it means to be a person instead of a weapon that happens to breathe. Particularly potent is the behind-the-scenes reveal by Stan that Bucky’s backpack, the only thing he takes with him when he runs, contains notebooks in which he has recorded every scrap of his life that he can remember, good and bad, things he’s done both of his own free will and at the control of others. Watching all that effort be disregarded by so many, unaknowledged and unappreciated; watching so many of the numerous characters be unable or unwilling to see the other, silent victim in the Winter Soldier’s crimes: Bucky Barnes himself. Watching, knowing that whatever peace he’s managed to find on his own is about to shattered.

If Bucky’s character arc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was about the difficulty of free will over unquestioning obedience, as I suggested in my previous post on these movies, Captain America: Civil War is about the difficulty of choices and what it means to hold on to your humanity. Free will might start with a single choice, like, say, pulling a man who claims to be your old friend out of a river, but it is a choice that has to be made every single day for the rest of your life. To do the right thing, no matter how much pain it brings you. I don’t think Bucky’s courage in going back to Siberia, a place where his humanity was systematically stripped away, is acknowledged as much as it deserves.

Talk about following your friend into the jaws of death.

My residents may not march into battle, or fight Iron Man to defend their friends, but I see the same courage in their everyday lives. They live everyday in fear and dread of losing more of themselves to the disease…and yet they still struggle to live their lives. They grow attached to me, knowing they might forget me at any moment; they still struggle to be good people, even when they can’t remember the person they were before. They struggle to hold on to their shattered humanity, while so often their struggle and humanity are both ignored. We may not put them in cryostatis, like the Winter Soldier, but we do frequently shove them in a corner, forgotten. We forget to speak to them directly, to treat them like people instead of broken objects.

Broken people are people still and even the ravaged scraps of humanity are worth protecting.

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Three Requests

Fourth Season of Battlestar Galactica.
Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones.
Star Trek Into Darkness
John Carter of Mars
Jack The Giant Slayer
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Man of Steel


The above list is one of movies (and TV shows) that were panned by critics and/or belittled in the comments section on the Internet.
It’s also a list of movies that I thoroughly enjoyed. We can now add one more movie to this list: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
This post is something that’s been building up inside me for quite a while–but in reading the comment section of a site I regularly go to it finally bubbled out. Here you go.

Look, if a movie isn’t to your liking, that’s fine. Actually, that’s more than fine: if something’s not your cup of tea you have the right not to pretend to enjoy it. If you want to state the reasons you didn’t like something, that’s fine too. More than fine. Be passionate, be eloquent, be expressive. You have a right to your own opinion. It would be a sad, colorless world if everybody thought the same and liked the same things. But don’t call me a “pretentious idiot” or a “bad fan with bad taste” or any of the other hateful words thrown around the Internet just because I enjoyed the thing you didn’t like. I would make three requests of everyone posting opinions on the Internet, including myself.

1) Be honest when stating your opinions: don’t pre-judge based on someone else’s opinion. Go see the movie or go read the book before you start flinging around opinions. If you didn’t like because you didn’t like it, that’s one thing. If you’re tearing into it because you read a bunch of crap about it online, that’s another. You have the right to think for yourself and, if I may be so bold, the responsibility to exercise this right.

2) Be kind while you are typing your review or comment. Remember that real people will read it. Real people with real emotions that can be damaged with real consequences. While it is true that some people take things too personally and are extremely sensitive, that doesn’t excuse unkindness. Bullying isn’t okay just because you can’t see the other person’s face when you call their opinion or their work the “stupidest shit ever”.
3) Be respectful of people with a different opinion. Remember that any story is a two-way relationship between author and audience. No one is going to experience a movie in the exact same way as the person sitting next to them because we all bring a unique perspective to it. Each story means something different to each person who hears/reads/hears it. The question is: what did it mean to you?

So what is my unique perspective? Why did I enjoy both Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice?
I like this Superman because he’s quiet, understated. He reminds me of Helo from Battlestar Galactica: the incorruptible good man surrounded by chaos who is constantly misunderstood and consistently relied upon. This type (or should I say, archetype) of character is special to me. This Superman is reserved crusader and I, as an INFP, really connect with that. This Superman is humble and I am inspired by that. I struggle with pride: I like everyone to know what I’ve done. I wish I could be more like this Superman, who is humble and doesn’t require or desire the fanfare.

I loved the strong emphasis on the influence of mothers. So many stories skip over this, but Batman v Superman lingered here. Superman’s love for his mother is his strongest connection to humanity and that influence was clearly shown. Shown and celebrated. Maybe it’s me, because I have a very strong relationship with my mother…but this element really resonated with me.

This Batman made me stop and think. I see in him a lot of what I see in America right now: weary, losing hope, getting old and becoming accustomed to cruelty. Easily manipulated by fear. No longer believing that goodness and good men exist. His characterization warns me not to let my fears take control because they can be manipulated. If I no longer believe that good people exist, I won’t be able to recognize them even if they are standing in front of me. I won’t believe that I can be a good person…I won’t even try. Why should I? As Alfred so perfectly says, “It’s the feeling of helplessness that turns good men cruel.”
But, in this movie, Superman inspires Batman to hope again. To try again. Go ahead and laugh, but that inspires me. That’s why I liked this movie.

I’m not claiming Batman v Superman was a perfect movie. It wasn’t. There was a bit too much crammed in, it was disjointed…but I liked it. I consider it a good movie and I’m gonna see it again. Most importantly, my brother loved it. That’s the big guns in my argument here: please be kind and consider this before you call something a “worthless piece of garbage”.
It might be something precious to another person. Don’t call them stupid for having different taste and different needs.
In the interest of practicing what I preach…if you enjoyed the Star Wars prequels…that’s great. I prefer the Originals and Sequels but I’ll admit there’s merit in the prequels. Personally, I think they’re a bit half-baked, but hey, that’s what people are saying about Batman v Superman. I guess every movie has flaws and we love them in spite of it. We all just pick different flaws to ignore.

However, if you liked The Last Airbender movie, I’m gonna beg you to explain that to me.



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The one I’ve been dreading

This is the blog post that I have been dreading.
I’ve put it off for a long time, afraid to transpose thoughts into words…afraid of the finality of the written word. But it’s time and past, and so I will think it, and say it and write it.
My grandmother died last month.
One would think that, as a CNA, I would have a great deal of experience in dealing with death. One would think correctly: if there’s one thing I’ve learned in five years as a CNA, it’s how to grieve.
But all that experience feels like practice somehow, and I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t love those people dearly, that their passing didn’t and doesn’t hurt. It does, very much so.
This one hurts worse. This one lingers.

There’s a plaque that hangs in my room, bought years ago at a local Dollar General. It was cheap (only $12) and it rather shows. That thing’s been through hell in the varied forms of my turbulent teenage years and an EF-4 tornado…I’m not sure which survival impresses me more. I’m not even sure why I bought it. I hardly ever think about it, or even look at it…that is, until Grandma passed away.
Like I said, it’s a simple, cheap affair–perhaps even a little tacky: a small, square slab of fake stone decorated only with a spray of painted flowers and a quote by John Keats. The quote reads: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

And that, folks, is my Grandma in a nutshell. I can think of no other, singular phrase that accurately sums up what she meant to me and all my best memories of her.
Grandma was a great lover of beauty, especially jewelry, home decor and food. She had the most exquisite taste and true talent when it came to combining shapes with colors. She had several pieces of what I call “iconic jewelry”, pieces she would always wear. One of these pieces, a gold ring set with two sapphires and a diamond, has had a profound influence on my taste: the first serious “for real” item of jewelry that I ever purchased was a gold ring with two sapphires and a diamond, set in the same order as Grandma’s ring, only with a more delicate band.
Apparently, the influence of that ring might not have been entirely accidental…as I found out on the day of the visitation. I noticed right off that something was missing: they had Grandma’s body decked with all her iconic pieces–except for the sapphire and diamond ring. I was quite distressed by this and even more distressed when I discovered the reason. Aunt Paula approached me and pulled it off her finger and gave it to me, along with a story. Apparently, Grandma had purchased that ring when I was born, telling Aunt Paula: “This is going to be Hannah’s one day.”
Well, that day turned out to be Friday, January 22, 2016…and Grandma, as much as I’ve always loved that ring, I do believe I would have preferred to wait several more years before claiming that inheritance.

Grandma, you will be sorely missed. Of all my family, you were one of the most accepting, both of Michael’s Aspergers and of my own prickly, contradictory nature. I knew how proud you were that I was going back to college, but I can’t thank you enough for never pushing me on the subject. Your grace with and fierce defense of Michael will alway be remembered with love and affection.
I love you and miss you so much.

Well, this wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. A bit more cleansing that plain painful. Oh, who am I kidding. I’m freaking, sobbing mess right now and I need to go blow my nose now.

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This isn’t about Star Wars, I swear!

…except that it starts with Star Wars. Sorry, not sorry.
So, I went to see The Force Awakens again, this time with a good friend. Even after seeing it five times, I was still glued to the screen…that is, I was until something jarred me from the movie and I looked over my shoulder. This was during the final lightsaber battle and I wasn’t very pleased about being distracted. I’m still not sure what is was (someone might have kicked my seat, or it could have been a noise) but I’m glad it happened. Whatever the cause, my attention was quickly arrested by the sight of a young boy, no more than six, sitting on his father’s lap. He was…the only word I can find is awestruck, in the oldest possible sense. His jaw slack, his eyes wide and almost unblinking, he just sat there drinking it all in.
I didn’t turn back to the screen. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the boy anymore than he could tear his eyes from the battle. Instead, I watched the lights wash across his face: red and blue dancing in perfect sync to the music. Flickering as red chased blue; flashing as blue struck back. Back and forth, mixing, separating, clashing again. Always two colors, each trying to shove the other off his face.
Until the end, when red sputtered out and blue alone remained, it’s triumphant light illuminating his awed face. The boy drew a deep breath–I think he’d forgotten to breathe during the battle.
Then he turned to his dad and whispered frantically: “Her friend’s gonna be okay, right?”
I turned back to the movie, but part of me lingered in that moment, still watching colored lights tell a story of good and evil on a child’s face.

On the drive home, I had the hardest time figuring out why this had affected me so strongly. It wasn’t just the fight, although I love to see an action scene tell a story of emotion. It wasn’t just seeing the pure awe of a child, although I love to see uncynical appreciation for a good story.

As it always happens, the pieces connected themselves into a whole right as I was about to fall asleep.
A few months ago, one of the priests in my church had taken a young boy around to all the stained glass windows, using them to tell the story of our faith. “Saints are the ones who let the light in,” she said. “That’s why we love stained glass so much.”
Watching that boy in the theater had been an inversion of watching the boy in the church. At church, the boy had moved from image to image, staring up earnestly as colored light poured them. In the theater, the boy had sat still, staring up in awe as colors reflected off the screen, as image after image moved before him.

Two expression, one theme. Two boys, the same awe.
Throughout history and across cultures, we’ve used colors and light to express abstract ideas. I’ve always loved stained glass windows and I’ve always loved movies. Before now, it had just never occurred to me to link the two; that a movie, at its very best, can be a rapid succession of stained glass windows.

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Arthurian Symbolism in The Force Awakens

I love mythology. I love mythology retellings. I even find the Prequel Trilogy to be more palatable if I follow it by reading The Star Wars Heresies.
In fact, this is why I love Star Wars so much–it’s steeped in mythology and symbolism and I love it. I love pulling out the threads of older stories.
I’ll be honest…I wasn’t quite expecting The Force Awakens to continue that tradition…let alone continue it with the symbolism of one of my favorite mythologies. Maybe that’s why I’m loving it more and more each time I see it–a count which stands at three–right now, I’d have to rank it as #2 of my personal favorite of Star Wars, right after Empire. The Force Awakens combines two of my favorite mythologies: Star Wars and Arthurian legends.

Spoilers ahead. If you have not seen the movie, get thee to a theater before thou readest!




The search for Luke and the absolute reverence with which he is referred to put me in mind of an Arthurian staple: the Quest for the Holy Grail.
I’d say the map to Luke’s location is the Holy Grail appearing in Camelot at the Pentecost feast: the search for it kicks off the plot and it is fought over by the worthy and unworthy alike.
The Force is the Waste Lands, laid desolate by a young knight who slaughters a guest, unlawfully uses Spear of Destiny–betraying and wounding the Fisher King in the process. Balyn kills the king’s guest and uses the Spear to wound the Fisher King; Ben Solo slaughters his uncle’s apprentices, betrays Luke and tries to claim the lightsaber by brutal means at Starkiller base.
Luke himself also functions as the Holy Grail, in that he is the object of the Quest. Everybody has different objectives for finding him: Kylo Ren wants to kill him, Snoke just wants him to stay hidden, Leia wants his strength for her war. Rey, in the end, wants his training. You could also make an argument that Luke functions as the Fisher King as well. He is, after all, found on an island overlooking the ocean and he’s taken an emotional wound in the side by Ben’s betrayal.
I’d probably say that Luke’s old lightsaber is the Spear of Destiny…which is the spear used to maim the Fisher King and is sometimes connected with the spear that pierced Christ’s side. That’d certainly fit this lightsaber’s history as Anakin used it to commit his first atrocities as Vader. It’s used to commit an act of great evil but is thereafter used to further the triumph of the one it wounded.

In the Arthur legends, the Waste Lands and the Fisher King can only be healed when a knight (Galahad) proves himself worthy to hold the Spear and and drink from the Grail, undoing the damage that Balyn did. So: the Force can only be balanced when a Force sensitive person proves worthy to follow the map, carry the lightsaber and receive Luke’s training.

I would say that Rey is Galahad the Grail Knight, albeit a rather reluctant version. Either way, she’s young, of mysterious and isolated origins, seemingly untrained but unbelievably talented, and draws out a
sword of tainted legacy. Yes, I know I’m mixing up the metaphor here by double-casting the lightsaber as both Balyn’s sword and the Spear, as well as Luke as both Fisher King and Grail. In my defense, I’m not the only one who mixes up Arthurian symbols, however: almost everyone gets Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone confused. And speaking of…


The Grail Quest is not the only Arthurian interpretation of The Force Awakens. A slightly better known one is also applicable. You could structure it with Rey as the young Arthur and the lightsaber is both the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur…although presented in reverse fashion. That is, Rey is first offered the saber by a mysterious and ancient female handing it to her out of the depths–water in the legends, but I suppose the basement of a castle works too. (The Falcon does dramatically fly over the water before landing at the castle, which draws on the imagery of the Excalibur legend, the boat that takes Arthur to retrieve the sword.)
Then Rey draws it out of the snow like Arthur drew his sword out of the stone. Both actions are presented as an impossible feat…Rey because of her lack of training and Arthur for more obvious reasons. Both acts prove the character’s worthiness: Arthur to rule, Rey to take up Luke’s legacy.

As a bonus point for Rey-as-an-Arthur-figure…just look at her name. Yes, it evokes Luke’s own name as they both represent light: Luke is taken from the Greek word for light and Rey puts one in mind of a ray of light. It also invokes the once and future king: as Rey is Spanish for King. King of light, as it were. Well, female king of light.


Another Arthur bent to the story is the one told in the backstory and at the ending.
Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo stands fairly well in the place of Mordred, with Luke as King Arthur. Now, this doesn’t exactly match up as Mordred is usually presented as Arthur’s nephew (check)…and as his son. (Thankfully, they didn’t go there. People still haven’t quite recovered from the kiss between unknown siblings in Empire.)
Anyway, Mordred brings down Camelot by unexpected betrayal, aspiring to usurp Arthur’s place as King. Arthur, taking a wound at the battle in which he kills Mordred (I did say this wouldn’t line up exactly), retreats to the magic-steeped island of Avalon. He goes to recover from his mortal wound, but before he leaves, he tells his followers that he will return in the hour of Britain’s greatest need.
In this, Avalon is the island Rey finds Luke on, Luke is the Once and Future King and Rey, I would say, is all of us, telling him “Time to wake up, buddy. Hour’s here.”

Nothing quite matches up in a one-to-one correlation…but then, that’s a sign of good retelling. Yes, it uses the symbolism of an older tale but it also can stand as a complete and compelling story in its own right. Influenced but not a carbon copy. That’d just be boring.
I am, thanks to Mom, fairly more Arthur-obsessed than the average person. It’s very possible that I’m reading too much into the movie (I’m quite good at overthinking things). But, as Joseph Campbell says, there’s only one myth in the world, retold in a thousand different ways. His works have influenced Star Wars from the very beginning, so I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to think that Abrams and Kasdan looked to mythology for inspiration. If so, they’ve done an excellent job of retelling Arthur in a galaxy far, far away.

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The Force Awakens: Spoilers Ahead

Spoilers ahead! Turn back if you haven’t seen the movie!

It has taken almost 24 hours for The Force Awakens to sink in. Having absorbed and processed it, I can now say that I don’t think we would have gotten this movie had the prequels not been so…half-baked, so not quite right.
And that is not a condemnation. I felt betrayed by the prequels and I know other people did as well. No matter what, that feeling of betrayal sticks to Star Wars now, like a ghost. The makers of The Force Awakens chose to use those built-in emotions rather than ignoring or denying them: by doing so, I believe they crafted a heartbreakingly beautiful story. It’s painful, but oh, is it beautiful.

It’s like Kylo…Ben…is the prequel trilogy: obsessed with the wrong Skywalker. He’s convinced, as George Lucas was, that Anakin was the hero of the story and that belief has led him into the most vile of betrayals.
Before the bridge scene, I watched Han and thought, “He’s trying too hard.” At the time, I thought I was referring to JJ Abrams. Now I realize it was Han–and no wonder. When your hopes and dreams have been crushed so cruelly, of course you’d try too hard. He’s trying to go back into his old life–to be once again the Han Solo from Episode 4. But he’s grown too much since then, grown in joy and grief, to disappear into the selfish rascal. Truly, that scene on the bridge has to be one of the most painful things I have ever watched…but also one of the best bits of storytelling that I’ve ever seen.
I’ve never seen Kylo Ren be anything other than Kylo Ren, monster and murderer…and yet…on that bridge, I saw Ben Solo. I saw him in the spaces between the words; I saw him, reflected in the pain and love on Han’s face. I saw him and oh, how I wanted him to return…this person I’ve never met. I saw the good man’s son.
And then the light fades, the last rays of that sun extinguished and I saw the good man’s son commit evil…saw him become evil…and yet…
And yet, in the most vile of betrayals, I saw the purest love. In the blackest darkness, I saw the brightest light. A sad smile, a gentle touch. You can’t erase good, even if you kill it. Han dies forgiving his son, not blaming his wife or his friend for what has gone wrong. He forgives. His body might fall, but his spirit rises above. Good and love and loyalty…they are eternal, a Phoenix flame that is reborn again and again.
The same eyes in different people, as it were.

It is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen…The Force Awakens is truly a story told almost completely in the subtext. The spoken words are but the echoes of the true drama; the frenzied action but the quiet murmur of the true struggle. I actually kept losing track of the physical action, I was caught up in the storm of emotions. Besides the bridge scene, three other moments stand out to me as the best distillation of the story.

A man with the birthright summons a lightsaber, but it won’t come to him. It sits quietly in the snow, in condemnation and mourning. You have been judged and found wanting. Good was your birthright and you turned away from it. You are not worthy to carry the weapon of Luke Skywalker. That legacy will pass to another.

BB-8 bumps a still R2-D2 and at first you think it’s a friendly hello. Then, he keeps insistently nudging him and you realize it’s something so much more bittersweet. It’s not “Hello”, it’s “Please wake up. Please wake up, my hero.”

Rey holds out the lightsaber to Luke as a musical score builds to an understated climax. That last moment is a question–a question and a challenge. A double-edged question at that. “Are you who I believe you to be? Will you be my teacher? Am I worthy of your legacy?”
In a meta-contextual way, it’s a challenge to Star Wars itself…by Star Wars.

Who is Luke Skywalker? What is Star Wars? Who are any of us?
Begin again. Chose again. Believe again.

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The Force Awakens: my spoiler-free thoughts

Michael, Dad and I went to see The Force Awakens on Saturday. Mom couldn’t go because flashing lights bother her eyes.

This is going to be at least a two-part reaction. Up first: my spoiler-free reaction.


I’ll be honest: for one hideous second, I was afraid I hated the movie.

That moment passed. More moments passed and the movie ended. I just sat there, silent and still and completely overwhelmed. For one very long moment, I couldn’t remember how to string words together; I literally could not speak.

Then I turned to Dad and said: “I feel like I need to think for a week.”

Then I felt an overpowering urge to hug my family and tell them that I loved them.

Then I cried all the way home.

Then, when we got home it was like a comedy sketch, all three of us falling over each other, trying to get to Mom. I’ll never forget the look on her face–that look of absolute, dumbfounded bewilderment as the three of us, sobbing and staggering, rushed to hold her.

“Was it that bad?” she asked.

“No,” said Michael, “it was that beautiful.”

“I wanted you to be there so badly,” Dad told her.

“It was Star Wars,” I sniffled. “It broke my heart, but oh, was it beautiful and so Star Wars.”

We piled into the house, still crying, still reaching for each other. Jasper, Mom’s puppy, threw himself down and just panted. He’s such an empathic little dog that the poor guy was getting completely overwhelmed by the rampant emotions swirling around him.


30 hours later, I’m still drained. I felt like I’ve had a year’s worth of emotions crammed into me and I’m still processing. I wasn’t expecting to be this moved by it. I was expecting either exhilaration and excitement…or disdain and disappointment. I wasn’t expecting this reaction.

The Force Awakens was Star Wars, and oh, it was the most heartbreakingly beautiful thing I have seen in a long time. This is the movie I have been waiting for so long and oh, was it ever worth the wait. Go see it.

Like now.

I need to see it again.

This is Star Wars the way it should be.


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Fictional Happiness?

It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m very excited for The Force Awakens.
I can’t help it, it just makes me happy. Nor do I feel particularly apologetic for this excitement. It’s been a rough year and joy is always welcome in my life.
So yes, I’m the girl humming the Imperial March. I’m the girl who is the proud owner of a BB-8 shirt and three tickets to Star Wars. I’m the girl who jumps up and down in sheer joy when I see something Star Wars on the tv or the grocery store shelf. I’m the girl who is in love with BB-8 (just look at him…isn’t he the cutest thing ever?)
I’m also the girl with the biggest grin on my face. I am not about to apologize for my happiness or its fictional source. Yes, I know it’s “just a movie”. It still makes me happy–isn’t that real enough?
Some call it “escapism”…fleeing our stress-filled lives into a fantasy world. I’ve never seen it like that; I’m not escaping anything in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. I carry myself into the story…this means I carry with me the real world and all its problems. Stories–mine or others–have always moved me, have always been important to me. They are how I make sense of myself. I don’t have any perfect words to describe what it’s like to be me in the thrall of a story. There are no string of words sufficient to completely explain; I have to make do with imperfect words string inadequately together.

I’m never alone…and maybe that’s why I like time to myself. Stories aren’t beyond the waking world, they are behind my eyes. Closing my eyes is opening them onto that other world and whatever story is telling itself there. To be a part of a good story is an honor. Star Wars…well, the Original Trilogy…that’s a cornerstone, a touchstone. It’s one of the stories that has always been there for me; an experience repeated so often that it became, not rote, but ritual. No matter what was going on my life, I could always find myself in Star Wars.

So yes, I’m super excited for Star Wars and regardless of what the critics think of it, I am grateful for this period of delightful anticipation. Eager as I am to see the movie, I’m almost sorry it’s over.
To Disney and Lucasfilms, thank you. You’ve made me laugh and smile through a rough patch of this journey called life and for that, I thank you. It’s like balm for my soul to see my cherished friend from childhood given the love and respect it deserves.
So come on Saturday! I’m ready to discover new truths about myself, truths heralded in a John Williams score and illuminated by lightsabers.
I’m ready to be delighted by an old friend. Star Wars might be fiction, the joy it has brought into my life is real. And it’s being shared.

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I’ve always loved courtyards.

Like so many things in my life, this can be blamed on early and prolonged exposure to C.S. Lewis…more specifically, to his Chronicles of Narnia series. From an early age, I fell in love the idea of courtyard. I loved the way it sounded when Mom read the word aloud. “Courtyard”. 

I always thought it sounded like a promise. 

My love affair with courtyards was only strengthened by a series of picture books about the Eygptians, Greeks and Romans. All three presented me with images of a variety of courtyards. I decided that courtyards were special places.

I’m not a child any longer. Right now, I’m an adult, sitting at Ivy Tech. I’m waiting for my 6:00 pm class on Public speaking. There are many places to wait in Ivy Tech. Both buildings are chock-full of little lounges, besides the official Internet cafe and library, of course. I’m not a child any more, but I’ve rejected those options today. Instead I chose to sit on a bench outside. In front of me, there is a courtyard with a fountain centerpiece; behind me is a second courtyard, this one with a clock as its focal point. My bench is located in an open-air walkway that divides the two courtyards. 

It’s peaceful here, quiet, wrapped in an almost contemplative stillness that is enhanced rather than broken by the continuous splash of the fountain and distant traffic. People either sit like me, quietly enjoying the beautiful day, or they are scurrying to class. 

I’m an adult now, but despite all the changes in and around me, I still love courtyards. I still think the word sounds like a promise.

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A new car

Five years ago, I bought a car–a 1991 Pontiac Grand Am for $2,000.

To be completely honest, I hated it. It was nice in a new-almost-20-years-old kind of way, ran great, was built like an iron tank (for which I am exceedingly grateful)…but I just didn’t like it. That didn’t stop me from buying it; I needed a car and Mom said this was a good one. Up til then I had been sharing vehicles with Mom and Dad–it was time and past that I got my own. A friend told me not to worry, that I would come to like the car.

Shortly afterwards, on my second day of work at the first nursing home, the car broke down. That wasn’t a good day. There I was in Madison, stranded in a parking lot with a car that apparently thought belching out smoke from under the hood and refusing to start was great fun, and on top of that, I had forgotten to program my new work’s number into my phone. Like I said, not such a good day. But it sort of set a trend with the Pontiac–she’d break down frequently and I’d cuss at her, but despite that, I did come to love that car.

She was reliable (by which I mean that I knew exactly what to expect from her), hated Louisville and drive-throughs and sometimes intersections. Idling for more than ten minutes was a sure-fire way to overheat the engine. On the other hand, she was heavy and solid…the only thing that really put a dent in her was an EF-4 tornado and a big-ass deer bouncing over the top. Somethings would break and I’d learn what I could live without (like heat).

But eventually, all the little things just piled up too high. I was ready for a new car, one that got better gas mileage than 20 MPG, one that had heat, an engine that could idle safely, could go across the bridge without throwing a temper-tantrum, didn’t break down every 3-5 moths like clockwork, one that had a passenger side door that could open, a driver side door that could close all the way, a taillight made of more than colored strips of duct tape, and…well, you get the picture.

It took me months more than I expected, but I finally did it. Out with the old:
And in with the new


She’s a 2013 Kia Rio and I love her! At the dealership, I had to tell Mom to double check me on everything because I really wanted this one. Despite that, I stuck to my guns and my price limit and still ended up driving this beauty off the lot. Unlike the last few times I went used car shopping, I had an extremely positive experience–mostly because nobody tried to tell me that I deserve to lease a brand new vehicle or (incorrectly) assumed that Mom was the reason for my sticking points. This is, by the way, a sure-fire way to make me really cranky. Don’t tell me what I should want or assume that just because I’m not a “typical” 24 year old that I don’t make my own decisions! 

Anyways, the car. She’s gorgeous! She gets 35-40 MPG, all the doors open and close appropriately and I can go through a drive-through without overheating and dying! Plus, she’s got this nifty media hook up where I can listen to the music on my iPhone or iPad through the car’s speakers. Oh, and she’s got heat!

I’m in love!  

Categories: ordinary life | 4 Comments

A sci-fi high

My parents weren’t really big into spanking. And even when they did spank me, it didn’t hurt physically. Like, at all. It was embarrassing, sure, but it was over quickly.

I’m afraid to say that spankings really didn’t stay with me. No, of all my childhood punishments, there is really only that really stuck with me, really made me rethink what I had done and resolve never to do it again.

I was about seven, we were at Nana and Papa’s and we were putting in The Empire Strikes Back to watch.

Maybe I should mention now that Empire was then and remains to this day my favorite of the Star Wars. 

Anyways, something happened–I’m not sure what, but I’m going to take an educated guess that it involved the words “Hannah” and “no”–and I threw a world-class temper tantrum. I’m quite good at making a scene when I want to. Dad told me to stop or I wouldn’t be allowed to watch the movie. I can quote you word for word what I thought: he wouldn’t dare. It’s Star Wars! You don’t miss Star Wars!

Safe in this utter conviction, I proceeded with my tantrum. Dad proceeded to pick me up and carry me out of the room. I was astounded…though not quite dumbstruck, I’m afraid. No, my outrage was vocalized at extreme decibels.

“I want to watch The Empire Strikes Back!!” I howled. 

“You should have thought of that a minute ago,” Dad told me.

“We can watch it later,” Nana said, probably thinking that with me carrying on like that, nobody was going to be hear anything anyway.

“No, we will watch Star Wars now, she won’t,” Dad said firmly.

Maybe he should have said “you will watch it” and not “we” because he spent the next several minutes keeping me downstairs. I was quite furious at being kept from The Empire Strikes Back. It was cruel and unusual punishment and I was convinced if I yelled about it enough, Dad would recognize the utter injustice and let me back up to watch it. But the movie kept on playing without me. Unfortunately, I had watched it so many times that I knew exactly what I was missing. Luke was calling on the Force to retrieve his light saber when I gave up yelling and just sobbed. Han and Chewie were blasting the Imperal probe droid when Dad finally purposed a compromise: I calmed down and he would let me watch The Return of the Jedi tomorrow. I can tell you, the thought of this experience being repeated with another Star Wars stopped me cold. 

Even then, Vader was storming the Rebel base before I had quite cried myself out. No stubbornness was worth this, I thought. I resolved that, when Star Wars was on the line at least, that I would behave myself.

I actually had a point with this post. 

Growing up, Star Wars was almost sacred ground. Watching Star Wars meant everything was alright in the world…or at least that they would be, eventually. It was our chicken noodle for the soul.

Then it was 1999 and The Phantom Menace was released–and I thought: Okay…

Then it was 2002 and Attack of the Clones came out–and I thought: Wait, what?

Then it was 2005 and The Revenge of the Sith premiered–and I thought: Excuse me?

They were decent, shot through with sometimes horrible and sometimes great…but they were missing that Star Wars feel. I wasn’t sure they were soup and I definately knew they weren’t chicken noodle. In the last ten years, I have held on to my love of Star Wars, I’m proud to say. But I was a fan despite (or maybe to spite) George Lucas…because really, how can you so misunderstand your own story? Star Wars is about Luke Skywalker and the scrappy underdogs. It’s about the a Princess who can fire a blaster and take charge of her own rescue. It’s about loyalty and love from people who can’t properly speak to us. It’s about a not-so-selfish scoundrel with a not-so-reliable ship. It’s about a cute green thing smacking a stick against a cute blue and white thing. It’s about the warrior who won by throwing away his saber and putting his faith in his friends to do what they said they would do. It’s about the man behind the mask smiling at his son. It’s whatever I need it to be: rollicking good fun, witty one-liners or an almost metaphysical tale about how love is the greatest power you could ever have. It’s a safe place to hang my imagination and recharge. It’s part of my image of home.

It’s been rough, loving something so brutalized by its creator, so CGI-ed out of its soul.

Then it was 2012 and Disney bought Star Wars–and I thought: Can’t be any worse than Lucas.

Then it was 2013 and J.J. Abrams was named director–and I thought: He’s got a Star Wars soul.

Then it was April 2014 and the cast photo came out–and I thought: This could be something.

Then it was June 2014 and Harrison Ford broke his leg–and I thought: At least the Falcon’s real enough to break bone.

Then it was November 2014 and the first trailer came out–and I thought: It actually looks like Star Wars !

Then it was April 10th, 2015 and I bought the Original Trilogy on iTunes–and I thought: Can I really bear to be disappointed again?

Then it was April 18th and I finally brought myself to watch the second teaser trailer.

Now it’s today and I’m still on a sci-fi high the likes of which I’ve never been on before. I’ve heard Mom talk about how it felt to watch Star Wars for the very first time and I remember how that was the biggest disappointment in ’99–that I didn’t get sense of blown-away awe. I thought I’d lost my chance. I thought I would not get to experience that feeling myself. I felt cheated out of falling in love with something I’ve known all my life.

To quote Obi-wan, I was wrong. This is how it must have felt to be alive in ’77 and seeing Star Wars for the very first time. (Minus the hair, because ’70s hair was kind of weird.) 

Yes, Chewie, we are home. Star Wars is once again chicken noodle soup…because even if the movie sucks, I’ll always have that trailer. 

Now please don’t suck. Please continue to be chicken noodle soup. 

Categories: ordinary life | 1 Comment

Leather and glass

So, it’s been a while. 

Part of this is due to a crazy-busy, hectic, frantic work pace. Part is due to school work…and part is due to this.



I was in the mall one day, waiting for Dad to arrive (the mall being the closest indoor space with free wi-fi to the bus stop) and on impulse, I went in Books-a-million. I was not expecting to walk out with an Eco-friendly, fair trade, leather journal, but I did. 

Since then, I have been journaling. Not every day, but semi-frequently and always relating the emotions of the day. I’ve become so used to sharing my written words, through one form or another…but it is kind of nice to have an outlet just for me. My eyes only, raw as you like.

I have, however, missed this blog, so I’ve decided to pick it up again, and to also resume my fiction works and not just my nonfiction (which, I must say, has really taken off). Boundaries are something that I am coming more and more to appreciate, so I do like the distinction of having two different mediums. Leather-hound journal for private ruminations and glass iPad for public musings and stories. 

Well, that’s it for now, folks, but I’m back!!

Categories: ordinary life | 1 Comment

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