Of facts and attitude is everything

In keeping with the recommendation that I solicit outside opinions to improve my attitude at work, I picked up Growing The Positive Mind by Dr. William K. Larkin. The gist is you can train your brain to feel good and be positive most of the time. He gives exercises to help modify one’s outlook and interaction with the world.

I tend to associate “positive” with “perky”. I’m not sure where that connection came from, but it’s what makes me get a little squicky when someone suggests I “be more positive”. What the book is slowly introducing is you can be positive / optimistic / happy without getting out the pom poms and cheer bows. It doesn’t even have to be spoken. It’s a way of looking at the world and seeing the light rather than the dark. Positive is looking forward using what you’ve already learned. Negative is looking behind you, dredging up the past, and going over it repeatedly. It’s awfully difficult to be optimistic about what’s in front of you when you’re too busy looking behind you at everything that has gone wrong.

The hardest part about the past is it’s both always with us because it’s what brought us to where we are now, but something that we need to accept is behind us and, therefore, unable to change. Getting upset over something someone said yesterday is a waste of time. Getting upset at myself for something I did five minutes ago is a waste of time. “What If” are probably two of the worst words you can use, up there with “should”. I need to write that in giant letters over my computer screen or on my bathroom mirror. Or both.

One of the important parts of the book are 4 things you need to stop doing in order to succeed. They are:

  • Stop Being Critical of Yourself and Others (guilty x 1000)
  • Stop Blaming Others for Your Problems or Any Problems, for that matter (guilty)
  • Give Up Being a Cynic or Critic of the World (guilty)
  • Be very, very picky about what you watch on TV, especially the news (I got this one! Yay!)

I freely admit that I mask cynicism as “realism”.

“But I had all this crap happen! Why should I believe that it’s going to improve? That’s not reality!” [Shut up, Hailey]. Yes, shit happens. Bad shit happens. Shit I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The whole point of this blog is to take the shit that happened to me and learn what I can from it. What did that situation teach me? What does any crap situation teach me? How can I apply what I learned in another part of my life? Can this lesson help someone else if it doesn’t serve me right now? There are facts – which can be proved empirically, then there’s reality. Reality, especially when there are two human beings involved, is pretty damned subjective. Have two people observe the same set of circumstances and you’ll get two different answers for “what did you just witness?”. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I get caught up in my own reality very easily. My reality is someone else’s theory. Someone else’s reality could just be a theory for me. All facts are realities, but not all realities are facts.

I end this entry with a little anecdote. When my dad was going through his cancer treatments the first time around, his oncologist shared something with my mom. He said that what he’d observed in his patients was the ones with a positive outlook did worlds better than those without. If you believe that you’re going to get through it, that’s a huge step in success. If you just give up, sign your own death certificate, and wait then you’ll get exactly what you signed up for. That was something that always stuck with me. Even in a literal life or death situation, if you believe you can live, then you’ve got a start.

XOXO!

Of dead circus performers and overly sappy heroines: Review of “The Immortal Circus” by A. R. Kahler

I thought I’d mix things up a bit & review the latest book I finished. Be warned – there will probably be spoilers.

The premise had a lot of promise as a murder mystery nestled into a supernatural circus. It didn’t live up to that promise.

The heroine, Vivienne, joins this circus for an unknown reason. Her memory has somehow been erased & she can’t remember exactly why she joined in the first place. It’s narrated in first person present. Personally, I find that a rather irritable tense to read. It’s a challenging tense to work with & I’ve yet to find an author who could do it well. A. R. Kahler is no exception. Vivienne reminded me way too much of Ana from 50 Shades of Grey. I’m sure part of it was the tense because 50 Shades is also written in FPP. Vivienne also couldn’t shut up about how hot the male lead was (is?). Add some whips & chains and we’ve got the supernatural sibling of 50 Shades. Ew.

After 2 chapters, we’ve heard about how sexy Kingston is at least a dozen times. Yes, we get it. Now shut up and give us something vaguely resembling a plot. Take my hand if we be friends and I shalt not giveth thee a plot.  Kahler plucked Mab & Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream & plopped them down almost wholesale as the leaders of warring “courts”. Mab is the leader of the Winter Court and Oberon is the leader of the Summer Court even though he never appears in the book. Of the whole cast, I felt like Mab had the most development. That was probably because Shakespeare had done most of the heavy lifting to begin with. There are about half a dozen other named characters, but the most development they’re given are their positions in the circus. Even Vivienne, Kingston, and Melody (Kingston’s lovely assistant) aren’t developed enough to care about. Kahler is a relatively new author & it shows. If he’d spent more time building each character & less time on Vivienne wondering how she can get some Kingston action, it would have elevated the book at least one level. I can’t help but compare it to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. She was also a debut author with a similar theme. Even though the ending was a deus ex machina (love that term!), it was forgivable because the rest of the book was that good. Her setting was absolutely spellbinding. His was good, but not nearly as good as hers.

The Immortal Circus was the kind of book I had to force myself to finish. It was a hair under 250 pages which was do-able for me. If it had run 300+ pages, I would have put it down never to pick it up again. After I finished the book, I discovered it was released as a serial for Kindle. That explained the jarring endings for each chapter. It felt like someone trying to learn how to drive a manual transmission car on a hill. Always wear your seatbelt, kiddies. This wasn’t a “stay up way past my bedtime to read another chapter” book. This was a “throw it in my purse & half read it during my lunch break” kind of book. It’s a shame because it could have been so much more. I was left with no desire to read the next two. Guess the show will go on without me.

Final Rating (out of 5): 2.5

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Watching the movie or That’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back

In a moment of pure insanity, Boy & I decided to watch Twilight. Yes, I know. Hear me out first.

We’re both fans of RiffTrax. It’s the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 doing running commentary of assorted films. Watch this before moving forward.

With that in mind, we figured some witty outside banter would make the movie bearable. Thusly we embarked.

I’ve never seen Kristen Stewart in anything else, or if I have, she made no lasting impression. I used to get her confused with Kristen Bell. Too bad, as Kristen Bell actually has talent. I saw Robert Pattinson in his brief role as Cedric Digory in the Harry Potter universe. He was little more than cannon fodder in that. Going in, I had a fairly clean slate upon which to judge their acting. If one can refer to it as acting, of course.

The acting lived down to what I’d heard. Teenagers frequently stare awkwardly at each other, especially when facing their crush. This was way overboard on the awkward stare followed by some mumbling along the lines of “yeah, sure, totally, definitely”. The rest of the cast was no better. There wasn’t any one actor who stood out in the sea of mediocrity. Sometimes a crappy movie can be saved by a decent actor who outshines the rest (pun intended). Speaking of shiny –

What the hell kind of sparkle was that? I was expecting full on blind you make a drag queen look like an overly faded tee shirt level sparkly. Nope, I could barely tell the dude was anything other than needing to put some powder on his oily skin. Go big or go home, goddammit. The piggy back ride up the mountain made it a little better, but only because the Benny Hill theme was being hummed in the background.

If I thought the pacing of the book was slow, the movie more than delivered. Boy & I looked over at one point and realized we were only halfway in. AND THAT WAS WITH WITTY BANTER.

The movie dropped a few hints about the villains fairly early on. I’m seven chapters into the book and not a whisper of an antagonist, other than Bella antagonizing the rest of us. I honestly couldn’t tell what Blackeyed Peas was after. They show up and are like “Hey! Mind if we play some ball with you?” and the Cullens are all “Yeah totally!” and then Blackeyed Peas goes “Wait a sec, you brought a snack!”. They did not, however, bring enough for the whole class. Douche move, Team Cullen. Ponytail is especially disappointed. Why? I have no clue. Absolutely no motive was given. I guess he was just really, really hungry.

That’s another thing, there was no motivation at all. On anyone’s part. Ever. If the protagonist has no motivation (i.e. end goal), then how is the antagonist supposed to antagonize? Toss Bella around a dance studio like the worst ballroom dancing competition ever? I was really, really hoping he’d just toss her through the window and we’d be done with it. Sorry, no, you’ve lost. Next contestant please.

Boy & I frequently have conversations about our various suspensions of disbelief. He yells at the TV or a movie about their crappy security. I frequently yell at the TV or a movie about how they’re killing someone incorrectly. If Bella’s femoral artery really were severed, she would have bled out in approximately 3 minutes. It probably would have been faster considering her pulse was higher from, you know, being tossed around like a rag doll. Of course, to save her, Edward takes even more blood out of her! Apparently vampires are like poisonous snakes in this universe. He tries to suck the venom out like you would with a snake bite. Except for the minor detail where that’s an urban legend, she still lives in spite of losing about half of her blood. Why, gods, why! Why is she still living? For whatever sins humanity has committed, I will repent! We shall repent! *hits knees wailing*

Then there’s the denouement which really shouldn’t be classed as such. Edward takes her to the prom where they bust out the cliche of the gazebo lit with Christmas lights. The gazebo isn’t the only one getting lit by this point. There’s more staring and a voice over that I had something along the lines of “I love Edward! I shall never leave him! We are destined for each other!”. Of course, that’s pretty much the whole movie. I would go throw up, but it’s a waste of my time, much like the movie itself.

After it ended, Boy and I simply stared at each other. There were no words.

Back to the books next week, kiddos!

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 6 or Why the hell is everyone with a vagina jealous of Bella?

We’re, give or take, 20% into the story. I have no further comment than that. Yet.


Now our heroine is sitting in her room reading Macbeth with rain pouring outside. The Shakespearean centric English major in me had to giggle. She might as well be reading Hamlet when it’s foggy outside. For those of you (poor souls) who are unfamiliar with either play, suffice to say that doom, gloom, and rain / airborne precipitation are in short order. Once again, we have to see how well read Bella is. At least this time she doesn’t make the snide comment that she’s reading it for fun.

The worst part about Friday was that, even though I knew he wasn’t going to be there, I still hoped. When I walked into the cafeteria with Jessica and Mike, I couldn’t keep from looking at his table, where Rosalie, Alice, and Jasper sat talking, heads close together. And I couldn’t stop the gloom that engulfed me as I realized I didn’t know how long I would have to wait before I saw him again.

Try Monday morning. That seems like a good start.

As they’re leaving the lunch room, Minor Character Number Four (or Five? I’ve lost count) questions why Bella isn’t sitting with Team Fangtasia. To which Bella replies:

I really didn’t know her well at all, certainly not well enough for her to dislike me – or so I thought.

Because she’s a set dressing, that’s why you don’t know her. Duh.

Once she’s home, Bella decides to bring up Edward’s little camping trip to her dad:

It’s not a very good place for camping.” He sounded surprised. “Too many bears. Most people go there during hunting season.”

And if you’re a vampire, it’s always hunting season. Just wait for duck season. Or rabbit season.

The day of their little jaunt to the beach, it’s sunny. Go Mother Nature. She arrives at the meeting point and all the girls are whispering and gossiping about here. I really don’t understand why. Unless they all have a raging crush on Edward of which the reader is heretofore unaware, I don’t get it. Bella has beaten us over the head with how klutzy and otherwise undesirable she is. Why on earth would the other girls feel at all threatened? Oh right, because Bella is our self deprecating protagonist and there has to be some lame attempt at conflict.

On the drive to the beach, Meyer treats us to a rather positive review of the landscape. It’s completely incongruous with Bella’s previous bitching and moaning. Apparently, a little Vitamin D does just the thing. They get to the beach and there’s two pages worth of Mike trying to flirt with Bella and Jessica giving Bella the stink eye.

I was completely absorbed, except for one small part of my mind that wondered what Edward was doing now, and trying to imagine what he would be saying if he were here with me.

The answers to your questions are “sleeping” and some snide comment about how he’s dangerous and not cut out to be a BFF. Also, your whole mind is small.

Drumroll please, we have now officially met Jacob.

My positive opinion of his looks was damaged by the first words out of his mouth.

“You’re Isabella Swan, aren’t you?”

In her mind, Bella is God. You are not allowed to speak her name as it is blasphemy. YOU ARE UNWORTHY!!!! Seriously, bitch, get over yourself. Jacob starts chatting her up:

He had a pleasant, husky voice.

I totally see what you did there.

Meyer tries to continue the girl on girl conflict. Minor Character Number Four (or Five) aka Lauren, apparently has a thing for Jacob & tries to pick a fight with Bella. The Plastics have NOTHING on this chick (Incidentally, a viewing of Mean Girls needs to happen in my near future). What’s problematic about Bella’s interpretation of Lauren’s behaviour is just that. It’s an interpretation. There’s no emotional investment on the part of the reader with the interactions between Bella and the other female characters. Meyer didn’t waste her time on fleshing out those relationships in favor of Bella mooning for pages on end. If she had established Lauren or Jessica or Random Minor Female Character Number Three, the antagonism would be more interesting. Instead, it reads as puzzling at best.

The topic changes in the direction of something vaguely resembling interesting.

I stared at the deep-voiced boy, taken aback, but he was looking away toward the dark forest behind us. He’d said that the Cullens don’t come here, but his tone implied something more – that they weren’t allowed; they were prohibited. His manner left a strange impression on me, and I tried to ignore it without success.

Wow, your Spidey Sense is really on point.

In the true spirit of emotional manipulation, Bella decides to extract further information from Jacob:

“Do you want to walk down to the beach with me? I asked, trying to imitate the way Edward had of looking up from underneath his eyelashes.

Yes, channel the creepy vampire face. That sure does bring all the boys to the yard.

More blah, blah, blah I’m a terrible flirt. Blah, blah, blah, he’s totally falling for it. Blah, blah, blah.

“Do you like scary stories?” he asked.

“I love them,” I enthused, making an effort to smolder at him.

Yes, please go ahead and light on fire.

Jacob tells the story of how vampires and werewolves came to a happy agreement to stay off each other’s turf. Of course, the master of the Cullen Clan engineered this 4 generations ago with Jacob’s family. Even better, the Cullens just welcomed two new ones into the family. Mazel tov.

But I really did like Jacob. He was someone I could easily be friends with.

Uh oh, here comes the friendzoning.

Then the puny humans are back off again thanks to the rain. At least we get a short break from Bella bitching about the precipitation. Being a weatherman in this part of the world must be stupid easy. And scene.

I’d like to point out that Jacob was introduced in this chapter & has already had a conversation with Bella. Yet the Cullens / Hales were introduced in the second chapter & none of them have spoken a word. Named characters are supposed to talk! If you don’t want them to talk, don’t bother with a name. If you’re trying to amp up tension until they speak, then save the name for when they decide to open their mouths. It must have just been too difficult to say “All those damn pale kids look the same! Except Edward. He’s totally hot. Err, cold. Whatever.”

We finally (FINALLY) get some kind of exposition. It took all of 4 pages to set up the whole plot. Vampires don’t like werewolves. Edward just so happens to be a vampire and Jacob is conveniently a werewolf. Why the hell did it take so long to get there? In case I haven’t beaten the dead horse enough, the pacing is driving me insane. It’s going like a George Romero style zombie pace rather than a vampiric pace. If vampires can move at the rate of virtual teleportation, then the plot should, too. I’m surprised the book hasn’t been trudging around behind me moaning “braaaaains”. What has taken Meyer over 100 pages to set up easily could have been done in half that time. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a very succinct writer. My biggest problem in college was getting the word count necessary for my papers. I could say in 300 words what the professor wanted in 500 words. That was with references and quotes necessary to support my argument. Excessively wordy prose is not my speed. If I were writing the book, I probably could have set up the whole thing in 30 pages. Am I really asking too much? If I am, please speak up. I appreciate honestly from my loyal readers.

Until next time!

Semicolon count: 8

Number of gummy bears I consumed during the creation of this post: Apocalyptic

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 5 or Are We There Yet?

…And we’re back! Did you miss me? I bet you did! Now that I think (*crosses fingers*), I have the draft / post issue resolved, this should go a bit more smoothly. Unlike the book.


 

Now that Bella is high on V (shit, wrong vampires), she waltzes into class late. But that’s totally cool because it’s English Lit and she already knows everything there is to know about that class. Duh.

Jessica babbled on and on about her dance plan – Lauren and Angela had asked the other boys and they were all going together – completely unaware of my inattention.

You know when your friend gets a new boy/girlfriend and they’re covered in new relationship smell? Bella has already hit that point and they aren’t even dating yet. Instead of making it look like Minor Characters You Really Aren’t Supposed To Care About 1-3 looking like the lovestruck ones, Bella comes across as the New Relationship Smell chick. No one likes *that* person. She keeps being *that* chick until Minor Character #1 (aka Jessica) slightly moves the plot along by observing that Edward is, once again, staring at her. Starting to get a little creepy there, buddy. As if we hadn’t hit a decent number on the Creep-O-Meter, he one ups himself:

Once he’d caught my eye, he raised one hand and motioned with his index finger for me to join him. As I stared in disbelief, he winked.

I have the mental image of him giving the really awkward over exaggerated wink that may or may not be followed by “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”. If only. Vampires are the sex gods of the supernatural world. However, Eddie here skipped seductive entirely and went straight to I’ll need to shower for days level of creepy. Less is more, Steph. Less is more.

“Does he mean you?” Jessica asked with insulting astonishment in her voice.

It’s already been determined that Edward may or may not have a thing for Bella. Bella has all the subtle grace of a shotgun blast in a SmartCar. How, exactly, is Bella inferring that Jessica (who we still aren’t supposed to care about, btw) is surprised to the point of being insulting? Because the world revolves around Bella. You’re welcome, readers, for the clarification.

She goes over to the table, they lack any kind of witty banter or plot advancement for 2 pages or so, then we hit that same tired old note.

“Well, we can try, I suppose. But I’m warning you now that I’m not a good friend for you.” Behind the smile, the warning was real.

“You say that a lot,” I noted…

One point for Bella’s keen observation. Yes, Edward, you’re dangerous. Can we move on please? Like how we’re 90 pages in and still no vampire reveal? Again, if you have to beat the reader over the head with it, you’re doing something wrong. Guess she slept through that class.

I do give points for the third superhero reference during the otherwise dull conversation. Though I’m reasonably certain the Biology teacher’s name wasn’t intentional.

He looked down and then glanced up at me through his long black lashes, his ocher eyes scorching. 

“Please,” he breathed, leaning toward me.

I blinked, my mind going blank. Holy crow, how did he do that?

I’m grateful I wasn’t drinking anything when I read the last line. It would have ended up going out my nose and / or choking me. The 1880s exclamation aside, how did he what? How did he lean? I would assume he leans just like everyone else. It would appear vampires lean differently. Must be all those years of squeezing into a coffin.

Also, boys and girls, “ocher” is the word of the day. Learn it, love it, use it.

It’s not even worth quoting the umpteenth time we’re reminded he’s dangerous. Blah, blah, dangerous, blah, blah, blah, can’t friendzone, blah, blah, what’s that smell?

Finally, things start to get a little interesting. It only took 95 pages. Bella heads to Biology after Edward informs her he’s ditching class again. I suppose one of the perks of being dead is you have this high school shit down pat. What are they doing in Biology, you might ask? Drawing blood! I literally yelled “What the fuck?” at the book. What the hell kind of high school allows students to prick their own fingers and try to blood type themselves? Allegedly, it’s for the upcoming blood drive because it’s super handy to know your blood type going in. Newsflash, the Red Cross does that for you! You don’t need a bunch of 17 year olds stabbing themselves to determine this. I’ll go along with her on the vampires. But I will not suspend my disbelief that any school district that doesn’t want to get sued into the next century would allow this.

Of course, our heroine swoons at the sight of blood. Oh wait, I *totally* get why Edward was ditching class. He knew there would be blood and that would make him a bit peckish. Getting the munchies in class is a bitch. After Bella almost barfs and Minor Character Number Two (aka Mike) half drags her to the nurse’s office, Edward swoops in.

“What’s wrong – is she hurt?” His voice was closer now, and he sounded upset. I wasn’t imagining it. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to die. Or, at the very least, not throw up.

Because vomiting and death are so closely related.

Suddenly, the sidewalk disappeared from beneath me. My eyes flew open in shock. Edward had scooped me up in his arms, as easily as if I weighed ten pounds instead of a hundred and ten.

And now it becomes clear why the Forks school district was bordering on negligent. It was so Edward could literally sweep Bella off her feet. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! Since she’s such a klutz, how is it that she even made it this far without slicing a body part? Nope, that’s conveniently ignored in favor of sweeping her off her goddamn feet. Now it’s my turn to vomit. Or die. Or both.

Edward arrives on his white steed to the nurse’s office carrying the fainting maiden. Bella explains that the smell of blood bothers her. Edward insists that people can’t smell blood. Yes, humans can, dickhead. Anyone who has ever popped an aggressive zit will attest to that one.

Mike comes back in with another fainter and they go back and forth about the beach trip. Edward smirks about how Mike hates him. Everyone hates you, Edward. Everyone. Bella suddenly remembers she has Gym after this more groaning ensues.

Fainting spells always exhausted me.

I find them strangely invigorating. Who knew?

Edward gets her out of Gym so they can have another asinine conversation while he drives her home. The only thing worth mentioning:

I began to realize we were driving very fast; the car moved so steadily, so evenly, though I didn’t feel the speed. Only the town flashing by gave it away.

Shiny Volvo go fast! Vroom! Vroom!

Then Meyer *has* to loop back around to the child raising the parent trope. Apparently, Bella’s mom is her best friend. Bella has to approve of her stepfather AND has to be the adult in the house. I refer back to Chapter 1 and my suggestion for the use of Forks.

“Do you think I could be scary?” He raised one eyebrow and the faint trace of a smile lightened his face.

I defer to this:

Okay, mostly just the “Ladies” part. You’re welcome.

Finally we hit the home stretch.

“Won’t I see you tomorrow?”

“No. Emmett and I are starting the weekend early.”

“What are you going to do?” A friend could ask that, right? I hoped the disappointment wasn’t too apparent in my voice.

“We’re going to be hiking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, just south of Ranier.”

I remembered Charlie saying that the Cullens went camping frequently.

Eh, camping, getting takeout, same diff.

Final semicolon count: 9

Number of times I screamed at the book and terrified either Boy or the cat: 3 each

XOXO!

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 2 or Vampires Do Not Go Up to 11

I have to admit, this chapter was less painful than the first one. Kind of like how the second strip of a bikini wax hurts less than the first one because your brain has already shut down. My brain has probably gone into survival mode already. Positive signs. Anyway…


When we last left our heroes, Bella was driving and crying over how much she hates her life, the rain, and whatever else might make the poor life choice of coming within 10 feet of her. She opens Chapter 2 with this:

The next day was better…and worse.

Do tell, Ms. Swan, do tell. She regales sitting with a large group at lunch, some of whom, she’s deigned to remember their names. Okay, that’s a positive. Then that positive came to a screeching halt. She got called on in class, whacked some kid with a volleyball, and worst of all? Edward cuts school.

But when I walked into the cafeteria with Jessica – trying to keep my eyes from sweeping the place for him, and failing entirely – I saw that his four siblings of sorts were sitting together at the same table, and he was not with them.

Hold on, hold on, let’s back up a minute. She started out sitting with a big group at lunch. Now she’s back in the cafeteria? Or do they have two lunches? If that’s the case, hobbits must run the joint. Ms. Meyer’s prose is as clumsy as her heroine’s extremities. Flashbacks only work if they’re obvious. It wouldn’t have been a huge challenge to start at the beginning of the day. I’m not sure what she was trying to accomplish by establishing Edward and the hair were out gallivanting around town before Bella actually realizes it. And that’s just the content of the sentence.

The sentence construction makes me want to start a utensil fight. Or just stab Bella in the eye. It’s one thing to know the rules and then break them for the sake of character building or narration. This does not qualify. At least it wasn’t in passive voice. Then I really would have to get out the cutlery. Now that we have returned from our unnecessary flashback, it’s time for Biology!

I held my breath at the door, but Edward Cullen wasn’t there, either.

He wasn’t at the door? What is he, the Biology class butler? Though having him hide behind the door and scare the shit out of her would have been hysterical. Oh, wait, she meant he wasn’t in class. Maybe he did get that schedule change after all. The hair was pissed.

After more whining about how a boy may, gasp!, like her, she offers this nugget of exposition:

I had never been enormously tactful; I had no practice dealing with overly friendly boys.

Yeah, duh. You can put the stick down, Stephanie. We get it. She only has eyes for tall, dark, and dead over there. I can’t argue with the lack of tact. Girlfriend has all kinds of issues up in there. We *finally* make it to the end of the school day and Ms. Swan is off to the grocery store because her father can only cook “fried bacon and eggs”. It looks like we’ll make it out of the parking lot safely, right? Oh, no, no my children. Safety is merely an illusion.

I saw the two Cullens and the Hale twins getting into their car. It was the shiny new Volvo. Of course. I hadn’t noticed their clothes before – I’d been too mesmerized by their faces. Now that I looked, it was obvious that they dressed exceptionally well; simply, but in clothes that subtly hinted at designer origins…It seemed excessive for them to have both looks and money. But as far as I could tell, life worked that way most of the time.

Apparently, money buys you a shiny Volvo. Really? Couldn’t it at least be a Lexus? Maybe we could even spring for a Mercedes? Also, it’s implied that it’s a sedan. There are 5 of them. Who cares what they’re wearing. I want to know how they determine who gets shotgun and who gets the bitch (middle in the back) seat. That would be so much more entertaining.

The last sentence is where she really gets me. They’re so pretty! And rich! It’s all too much! I’m going to make wild assumptions about pretty people who dress simply and drive a shiny, moderately priced car! [insert eyeroll here]

When I got home, I unloaded all the groceries, stuffing them wherever I could find open space.

So, if there really isn’t any food in the house other than bacon & eggs, what’s taking up all the space? Dare I ask what’s in the cabinets? No, no, it’s all better if I don’t know. She gets dinner started, goes upstairs to check her email, and has no fewer than 3 messages from her mother. Of course, Mom is freaking out about everything from forgetting a top to Bella not replying to aforementioned emails.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the whole “child raising the parents” trope drives me insane. Mom makes scatterbrained look like a compliment. Dad can’t cook. Bella is responsible for remembering when to pick up dry cleaning from 3 states away and also whipping up a good steak & potatoes. It’s a cheap way to give the teenage protagonist some kind of autonomy. How about this instead? The parents function like actual adults who have raised their child in a where s/he has developed the agency on his/her own. Family dynamics are difficult to navigate when the main character is a child or teenager. Hell, family dynamics are difficult to navigate in real life. I’m much more willing to accept the parent(s) as minor characters. If you *have* to cut the parent(s) out of the picture, kill them in a car accident. If it ain’t broke…

Then, for funsies, she whips out Wuthering Heights as a little light reading. Again, the child makes so much more sense now. Nice to see you again, AnaBella. Over her perfectly cooked meal, her dad makes his positive thoughts known about the band of sexy vampire children. Her response? “They’re all very attractive”. Because that somehow will make the situation better? It’s not like he was ranting at you. Oy. She makes the point that she has to wash the dishes by hand. Perhaps scrubbing the floors or polishing the silver is on the docket for tomorrow night. I think a mouse or two might be looking for some work, too. At least we get a break from every inane detail for the rest of the school week. For the moment, I can put the fork down.

CinderBella spends her weekend cleaning, homework-ing, and talking shit about the local library. The first practical thing she concerns herself with is the gas mileage on the truck. I suppose practically had to butt in sooner or later. And then…

He’s baaaaaack!

I kept my head down and glanced up under my lashes.

As opposed to where? Your spleen?

Finally, he speaks:

“Hello,” said a quiet, musical voice…”My name is Edward Cullen”.

I imagine Edward sounding something like this:

With that in mind, he laughs soft enchanting laughs and we FINALLY get a reason why Bella’s whiny ass (and the rest of her) moved to Forks in the first place. Her mom got remarried. Really? That’s it? I was really hoping my mental institution theory was going to pan out. Bummer. However, the mental institution has an excellent curriculum because she’s “already done this lab” and her teacher infers she was in “advanced placement”. Only if it’s the kind that involves padded walls. A girl can dream.

Through the entire conversation, Edward never simply speaks. He murmurs and mutters through most of it. Of course, fangs can make enunciation a bit of a challenge. They’re also, apparently, a hindrance to speaking at a normal volume. There is also, clearly, no other way to communicate dark and sexy but by mumbling. If I can’t understand you, maybe I missed the fact you just used a really terrible pick up line.

Instead of drinking every time Bella flushes, blushes, or turns some other shade of red, we drink when a semi-colon appears. If you’re reading the source material along with me, I apologize to your liver in advance.


 

Hope everyone enjoyed this week’s commentary and maybe even had a good laugh. I live to serve, faithful readers. Have to start prepping myself for next week. Breathe in, breathe out…

XOXO!

 

Twilight Thursday: Twilight Chapter 1 or Forks are for sticking in eyes

Alright readers, here’s a little something fun for you. I am attempting a feat so great, so masochistic, I must share it with the Internet. I was hilariously entertained and inspired by this series of blog posts. She had me laughing so hard I was crying at certain points. I thought “why not try that myself?”. Amazon hooked me up with all 4 books in the Twilight Saga (and a saga it will be) for about $10. Every Thursday, I’ll be posting my commentary on a chapter. And we’re off…


The book opens with a quote from Genesis. Considering my first thought upon opening the book was “Dear God help me through this”, it’s appropriate.

We begin with this little gem from the first page of the first chapter:

It was from this town and its gloomy, omnipresent shade that my mother escaped with me when I was only a few months old.

Why hello there, passive voice. As someone who purports to have a degree in English Lit, Meyer should know that passive voice is reserved for work based emails where you’re trying to call someone an idiot without calling them an idiot. It is from this I infer Ms. Meyer has never held a job which requires passive aggressive emails.

Bella then declares that she’s moving to Forks (in active voice), a town she just said she hates, of her own accord. Alright, I’ll go along with motivation TBD. After a paragraph long description of how one gets to Forks, she mentions again how much she hates the joint. This is less than a page after the first mention of moving. Heard you the first time, Stephanie. Right before Bella almost faceplants getting off the plane, passive voice strikes again.

Charlie was waiting for me with the cruiser. This I was expecting, too.

They have an awkward conversation about the origins of the truck Charlie has procured for Bella. Charlie mentions the previous owner, Billy Black, whom Bella doesn’t remember.

“He used to go fishing with us during the summer,” Charlie prompted.  That would explain why I didn’t remember him. I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory.

Da fuck? Really? Granted, I’m not one to enjoy hanging out in a boat skewing a water dweller for sport, but I wouldn’t class it as “painful” or “unnecessary” on the memory scale. Unless “fishing” is a euphemism for ol’ Billy whipping out his trouser trout for all to view, Bella can calm the hell down. She gets in the house without falling up the stairs and settles in.

It was nice to be alone, not to have to smile and look pleased; a relief to stare dejectedly out the window at the sheeting rain and let just  few tears escape. I wasn’t in the mood to go on a real crying jag. I would save that for bedtime, when I had to think about the coming morning.

We’ve now hit Page 9. Meyer has once again whacked us over the head with the fact Bella doesn’t want to be there. Then why the hell did you go in the first place? There better be an epic reveal by the end of this chapter. And no, because without it there would be no plot otherwise doesn’t count.

You know in situations where you meet the parents and all of a sudden the kids make more sense? I finally saw where Ana (50 Shades) gets her penchant for self deprecation even though she’s the definition of attractive in North America. Here’s how Bella so eloquently describes herself:

Instead, I was ivory skinned, without the excuse of blue eyes or red hair, despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but soft somehow, obviously not an athlete…My skin could be pretty – it was very clear, almost translucent – looking – but it all depended on color. I had no color here.

So you’re skinny with alabaster clear skin and somehow that’s an issue? Bitch please. Of course, none of this would be complete without:

Good luck tended to avoid me.

*facepalm*

Meyer then goes on to contradict herself in fewer than 3 sentences:

Finding the school wasn’t difficult, though I’d never been there before. The school was like most other things, just off the highway. It was not obvious that it was a school; only the sign which declared it to be Forks High School made me stop.

So if it wasn’t hard to find, how was it “not obvious” that it was a school? The term not hard to find typically implies something is easy to identify based on location. Yet the sign made her stop. Whatever you say, hon. Bella did follow it up with this comment:

Where was the feel of the institution? I wondered nostalgically. Where were the chain link fences, the metal detectors?

I wasn’t aware high schools in Phoenix also doubled as mental institutions. Unless, of course, Bella did actually escape from a mental institution. That would make so much more sense.  Bella meanders her way into the office and remarks that a woman wearing a purple tee shirt makes her feel overdressed. It begs the question what exactly is the dress code at this school / not mental institution? I guess she left the orange jumpsuit in Arizona.

Bella goes off to class and observes there are, in fact, other white chicks at this school. Go her. Then, once again, the child mimics the parent.

I flushed tomato red.

At least she hasn’t hit crimson or garnet. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. She has, of course, read every book in her English curriculum. Because, you know, Phoenix standards are far, far superior. For those keeping score at home, it’s page 17 and I’m still waiting for an explanation as to why she moved there in the first place. In the next class, after a snarky comment or two about other classmates trying to help her, she trips over herself again.

At lunch, we have the Cullen clan with a side of snark. Oh joy! People whiter than she is. *slow clap* The quintet are introduced as Emmett, Jasper, Edward, Alice, and Rosalie.

Strange, unpopular names, I thought.

I’ll concede that Emmett and Jasper are less common names. I fail to understand how Edward, Alice, and Rosalie are “strange”. I don’t think hicks name their kids after 18th century children’s book characters or British royals. I get that Meyer is trying to set up the fact their names were mainstream, or close to it, at the time. If she really wanted to hit “strange”, she should’ve read a few more baby name books first. Imogen and Asher, I’m looking at you. Bella meets Edward’s eyes and here we go again:

I bit my lip to hide my smile.

I know when a dude looks at me like he’s going to rip my head off and snack on it,  it always gets my no-no bits tingly. Enough of that, time for the next class!

Next to the center aisle, I recognized Edward Cullen by his unusual hair, sitting next to that single open seat.

It’s awfully polite of Edward to give his hair its own seat. Not sure where the rest of him ended up, but wherever that was, it provoked the AnaBella hat trick:

I looked away quickly, shocked, going red again. I stumbled over a book in the walkway and had to catch myself on the edge of a table.

The hair offered no comment.

Once again, the class is something she already studied. Way to go Phoenix public schools! Though apparently they don’t like their students to stay in shape as they only require 2 years of P.E. vs. 4 in Forks’ main center of secondary learning. On page 26 out of 28:

Forks was literally my own personal hell on Earth.

I’m going to ignore the misuse of the word “literally”. I will, instead, direct Ms. Meyer to this video. You’re welcome. Enter my mantra: Why the hell did Bella willingly move to Forks in the first place? We’re a page and a half from the end of the chapter. I’m sure the reveal has been totally worth the previous 27 pages.

My wait proved to be in vain. Bella catches Edward trying to escape from the biology class. The hair, however, was perfectly happy with the schedule. The chapter ends and we have Chekhov’s interstate move. I have, by the grace of God, survived the first chapter.

Only 113 more to go…

XOXO!