Archive for March, 2013

corruption of the facts: a snake in the garden

March 30, 2013 1 comment

Sometime, we lose perspective. It happens to everyone. We get so caught up in a moment, or in blaming someone else, that we lose sight of the situation at hand. That can be a very dark place to be in, one where we often do not make the right decisions. Because it’s hard to make the right choices with your eyes closed.

There are moments in life where you put our faith and our trust in the wrong things and the wrong people. Then, it all comes crashing down through some revelation grand or otherwise, and it sets the world on edge. Trust, when it’s repeatedly shattered, is difficult to repair. Because of the past history and the fear that goes along with it. Take Hollis Doyle in Thursday’s Scandal (A Snake in the Garden). Hollis’s daughter has been kidnapped. Apparently, she’s every terrible person you’ve ever met, with a drug addiction, horrid taste in men, and a huge attitude problem. Hollis brings the case to Olivia, only to protest that he doesn’t think she’s really been kidnapped – and he won’t pay one sent of her random. One severed ear later, Hollis recants, the random is paid, and the daughter is recovered. A few scenes later, it’s revealed that Hollis was right. His daughter staged the entire thing. Huck and company reacquire her, and Hollis gives her a choice: she can come home and start fresh OR she can take the money. In a moment that crushes her mother, and Hollis (who showed some real emotion), his daughter takes the money.

But who, then, is the snake in the garden? It isn’t Hollis. It isn’t the director of the CIA, who realizes Olivia is having him followed – only to later be found dead, shot to death in his car. It’s reported as a suicide, but a quick scene between Jake and an unidentified man (I feel like we’ve seen him before — in one of the war room meetings) reveals that it was not a suicide. So, Osbourne was not the mole. Which makes me wonder if the mole is Jake, whose got a suddenly convincing pair of crazy eyes in several scene (the male version of Overly Clingy Girlfriend).

The snake in the garden could very well be Jake. She tries to cancel their date, even after she’s put on fabulous black shoes and a white dress. After a brief phone call to Cyrus, by the time Jake arrives, Liv’s wearing a different kind of armor: sweatpants. Fancy sweatpants, but sweatpants nonetheless. He takes one look at her, and sees through it, because he knows more than he’s letting on. Olivia, in a moment of vulnerability, tells Jake a version of the truth: that she was in a relationship, but she’s not over it. And hot damn, if you cannot relate to what she just said, please check your heart for its functionality. Because she talks about a very specific kind of emotional haunting, when that person has seeped into every corner of your heart, leaving you to look for a ghost that is (and isn’t) there. To bastardize Neil Gaiman’s brilliance, love takes hostages and eviscerates almost casually.

He confesses that she doesn’t know anything about him – but that she’s sad and he could be her fresh start. The idea of a fresh start, a clean slate, is appealing. Who hasn’t wanted a do-over? A reset button? A way to rip out the feelings that you’re feeling, the kind that haunt you when waking and asleep, and start anew? Everyone has wanted that. Except it’s kind of the coward’s way out, because you can’t unlove a person. You don’t stop loving someone when they start making wrong choices, or because he/she is acting like a bit of an asshole. (I’m looking at you, Fitz. And yes, that’s me understating the situation, scotch-fiend.) What Jakes proposes is great in theory. But in practice, it’s a huge pile of crap. A kiss can make a person stop thinking. It can steal a person’s good sense, chuck everything else out the window, and rearrange the breath in your lungs. But a kiss, if not accompanied by a true and solid interest, is merely a wonderful distraction. Jake is, obviously, keeping things from Olivia – while spying on her. But I wonder about the man he met in the park. Who is it, truly, that Jake is answering to – and what is his angle? Mad love to Scott Foley for being wonderful in this role. He’s playing both sides to the middle, whispering in everyone’s ear. He’s keeping secrets when it suits him, telling half-truths, and using every available playing piece on the board. Jake has a nice guy charm, and I nearly forget that something is a bit off about him – until he sneaks in a wide-eyed, I might be crazy moment.

For Fitz, there are too many damn snakes in his horribly overrun garden. He’s trusting Jake, who clearly is keeping things from him. He is still keeping Cyrus at bay, although I think Cy made some headway this week, with a well-done speech to Fitz about mistakes – and how we all make them. But Fitz is all scotch, all the time. And it takes an extremely amazing speech from Mellie to make him snap out of it.

Because she acknowledges that Fitz has been absolutely devastated by Liv, simply because she’s human. She’s flawed. And he cannot handle it. To cope, we’ve seen him with a drink in his hand more often than not. Nothing has cracked that booze-soaked armor, until Mellie confesses that his kids do not want to see him, because he’s gotten mean. This is Fitz drunk in the elevator times three thousand. Mellie takes in a little far, comparing him to his asshole of a father, and this cuts Fitz to the quick. Fitz may be many things, but he has always been a good day. But he’s been so wrecked that he’s turned into someone else, someone he’s been resisting being his entire life. There’s a poignant shot of Fitz leaving the glass of scotch on the table and walking away. We can hope that’s one less snake in Fitz’s crazy ass garden.

However, I will say this: as RIGHT as hell as Mellie was, we cannot forget that when it suited her, she was the one supplying him with the scotch. In the morning. IN THE SHOWER. If it was affecting their kids for so long, she sure as hell took her damn time to tell him. Perhaps that allowed her to be the favorite parent for a while. Perhaps she relished the idea of being the one Karen and Jerry run to. I think that there’s at least a part of her who enjoyed being their safe place. But I have to admit, I CHEERED when she took Fitz to task. Because she championed the one thing (his kids) that might turn him around, turn him back into himself, instead of the person who keeps punishing everyone around him. Everyone who loves him. Everyone who is, for whatever reason, on his side.

“[Olivia] is just a person, like everybody else.” That line, right there. We are all just people. We fall in love. We make mistakes. Hopefully, we don’t pull a Van Gogh and slice off our own ears. But we are all flawed, all human. We lose sight of who we are, sometimes. We lash out at those we love. We heap silence upon silence, as punishment for things that might not need punishing. And we often drown our sorrows in alcohol, using it as a crutch – when that’s only a temporary solution to a problem. Crutches break. People fall right off pedestals. When that happens, so many things shatter. We are all capable of hurting those we love, simply by doing the wrong thing. But that action doesn’t negate love. It doesn’t turn us into a monster. It reveals our vulnerable humanity.

You cannot love an illusion. You cannot worship the idea of a person. Who hasn’t made a mistake in a relationship? Who is polished and without rough edges? Who hasn’t hidden things, or lied, or been decimated by a truth?

Good love – and a good relationship – is messy. It’s rare and raw. It’s honest. It’s talking. It’s showing up with popcorn and a bottle of wine. It’s telling the difficult truths, because they need to be said. It’s about forgiving and forgiveness, even and especially forgiving ourselves. Without these things, we become less. We lose sight of ourselves. When that happens, things slip into the garden under the radar, unseen. We make huge mistakes. Because without proper perspective, we maneuver like angry, blind bulls in this damned china shop of life. You can’t tell who to trust, who to forgive, who to believe, or what your lack of love is doing to yourself – and those around you. That is a great tragedy: when we get so wrapped up in ourselves, and our own heads, that we forget that our actions have consequences. That things are not quite what they seem. That trust is earned, not granted like a wish.

“No, the serpent did not
Seduce Eve to the apple.
All that’s simply
Corruption of the facts” ~Theology, by Ted Hughes

life is not a paragraph*

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

The other day, someone told me a story about death. It was a piano dropped out of the window of a building. It was crossing the street and getting hit by a bus. It was tripping and falling down the stairs, and breaking your neck. Basically, it was sudden and terrible, a cracking noise followed by silence.

And I hate silence. I hate the way it fills up a room, or a moment, or the way it sometimes sounds like a dial tone. The way you call and get somebody’s voicemail, instead of a voice. The way things slip out of our hands – and the way we sometimes let them. For a myriad of reasons that might look wonderful and right, on paper.

So, this story about death – the details are horrid and not mine to share. But lately, every time I turn around, there’s some kind of terrible shock like that. It isn’t something we can reason out, and yet we all try to make sense out of it, don’t we? We try to make death and life into equations, something that has the potential to be solved. That’s not exactly practical or smart, or even plausible. But we do it, anyway. If we can shove something into a box, that box has a label. And if it’s labeled, it’s easier to handle. To hide in a corner. To ignore, for reasons.

Except then, there’s me. Every time I gather one of those unexpected stories, I feel like lighting the world of fire. I feel like life is too much about being afraid and living easily, conveniently, and safely. Silence is a refuge for a self-made refugee. It accomplishes nothing real, nothing honest. It, in itself, is a lie. It’s what a coward falls back on.

Open your eyes. Look around. Tell me what you see. Tell me what you feel. Tell me what you need. Solving a problem is as easy as that, sometimes. It’s as easy as talking, before it’s too late. Before something happens and you just can’t anymore. To me, things like this – the unexpected accidents are horrors – always serve as a jolting wakeup call. There are only so many moments in life – why dedicate so many of them to unproductive and unimportant things? Things like silence. Why do we say no so often, instead of yes? Why don’t we jump up and make more time for the people who love, instead of sticking to the strict duties assigned to us?

Believe me – the vacuuming will still be there tomorrow. The dirty dishes will not turn into pumpkins overnight. Sometimes, conventional wisdom is overrated. More often, it is flawed. Most often, it isn’t even wise – it’s just pretty words masquerading as unexamined truths.

Yesterday, I had a good day. Something awesome happened. As I was walking to my car, I fished my phone out of my purse. The first person I thought to call was my mother. Obviously, I can’t do that. And it sucked. But it also reminded me that it’s important to talk to people when you can, to take advantage of those moments – to take advantage of life. Life is made of those moments, stolen out of a seemingly ordinary day. Life is made of reaching out, of connecting, of saying yes, of being present, and of loving in every direction possible.

We wear too many masks. We pile on too much armor. We hide from things that we shouldn’t. This often makes us stupid and cowardly, as if distance is some kind of talisman, a magic meant to protect us from feelings, memories, or moments. Nothing protects us from ourselves – and nothing should. Because you never know what you don’t know. And you never know what tomorrow might bring. You never know when someone or someone is just going to disappear. When you realize that, and act on that, you find that vein of bravery deep within yourself. Mine that feeling like gold – sift it out. Polish it up. You cannot spend that kind of currency in a store, or pay your rent with it. But there are things in life more important than that. And we lose that idea, sometimes, when we grow up. We forget to live life just for the joy of it. We forget how to perfectly silly, but true-to-ourselves, fools. There is a kind of ordinary magic in that, in not needing to be right – instead, reveling in the idea of being real.

Since technically, it’s spring – a time of beauty, growth, and change – live as boldly as you can. Let yourself grow, instead of sticking to where your roots are in the ground. Be loud and sing, like every bird does. Burst into bloom, instead of holding tight to bud (apologies to Nin). Be a fool. Be an absolute fool – because that is what the meat and marrow of life truly lies. When we stop being what is expected of us, and start being who/what we truly are. Fly, knowing that it’s never easy. Have an adventure. Have a moment. Forget structure and syntax. Go after what moves, what manages to stir your blood. And know this: kisses are a far better fate than wisdom. Always.
“since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom” e.e. cummings
*the title is also from this poem

to break our own rules

March 27, 2013 5 comments

I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe in accidents. I believe that things happen for a reason, even if that reason is initially unclear. I believe in doing things that are terrifying, because they are worth it. I believe that love may seem ridiculous or crazy, but if it isn’t, it’s not love. Sometimes, things happen to remind us that no one is really that far away. That we’re all just a turn or a phone call away from people.

Yesterday, a funny thing happened. I left the house later than I intended to hang out with my BFF. On the way, she texted me to say that she was running late. I nearly killed time by stopping at Starbucks, but didn’t. Because of that, I drove right by someone I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. So many small decisions could’ve kept that from happening. For one thing, I’m never late. For another, my BFF is usually great about letting me know she’s running behind. And I love any excuse to have a coffee.

But all those little things intersected, or didn’t, so I’d be on that road exactly when I was on that road. It reminded me of how our choices affect our lives, how one seemingly small thing can set off a chain of events, and how things happen for a reason. Sometimes, things have to fall apart for a while to come back together. (“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ― Marilyn Monroe) Sometimes, distance is a necessary thing, even if it hard to bear. Sometimes, people need space. In one way or another, everything is a choice. You choose to start up a conversation, or you don’t. You choose to be honest, even when it’s hard, or you don’t. You choose to stop for coffee, or you don’t.

You know, there are times where I do or say the wrong thing. I say too much or too little. I get caught by all the traffic lights. And life gets in the way of fate, if fate is the result of the things we choose. I can be horribly insecure sometimes, especially if I don’t have a good grasp of a situation. I can be selfish and a little be spastic. In short, I’m this Marilyn Monroe quote: “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” The easy days and things are just that: easy. It’s the way we handle our mistakes, our bad days, our flaws and difficulties that really matters. And you know, when someone or something is worth it? The bad days really don’t matter. They barely even tip the scales.

Yesterday, I was on that road. Yesterday, that happened. It was such a small thing, really. Being in the same place as someone else. It made me think a lot about certain things. It raised a lot of questions for me, some I’ve already been struggling with. But it strikes me as important – the idea of being at the same place, at the same time, as someone else. A large part of life comes down to timing. Or, at least, that is what we tell ourselves, isn’t it? Oh, this moment isn’t right. It’s too hard right now. If I ignore it for long enough, it will go away.

Well, bull – meet shit. Because there’s no illuminated moment where all the stars and planets align, making it divine perfection. There’s no such thing as perfection, first of all. Second of all, you don’t WAIT for the right moment. You make it. You seize it. You step up, and take it. To borrow a line from Faith on Buffy, “See. Want. Take.” (Within reason, of course.)

Sometimes, unforeseeable circumstances put you on a road – but most of the time, it’s not fate. It’s a choice. It’s deciding that something or someone is worth it. It’s a timely reminder. It’s a sign. It is whatever you make it out to be. So much of life is what we make it. It’s what we choose to go after. It’s every dream we’ve ever chased or failed to chase. It’s deciding if fear wins out. It’s who we love. It’s what we love. It’s how we honor that. It recognizing that our choices are our own.

It’s being on the road – even if you have to stop and turn around. It’s making the effort. It’s not running away. It’s not falling apart. It’s being the bravest you possible. It’s a thousand little things that add up to everything.

One of the scariest, most brave things we can do in life is DARE to change. To not let ourselves be boxed in, to be outside the lines – to break our own rules. It can mean quitting your job. It can mean telling someone you love them. It can mean that finally stop putting off that THING you’ve been putting off – and actually do it. There are situations that cannot be fixed, sometimes. No amount of willpower or effort is going to change that. You just have to say enough, this isn’t working. And then find something that does work. Life is too short and too uncertain for your days to be filled with have-tos and musts. It should have passion and wonder in it. It should have laughter, challenges, and too many kisses. It’s important to find people who lift you up, who make you better, instead of drag you down. “Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.” (Paul F. Davis).

“Be with those who help your being.
Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.

A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don’t try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it’s too late for all you could become.

Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?” ~Rumi

Once Upon a Time and All the Plot Holes

March 26, 2013 6 comments



So, we’re going to discuss the plot holes and problems in Once Upon a Time. Now, don’t get me wrong – I loved the first season to pieces. I have enjoyed this season, but far less than the first. For one thing, some characters have fallen strangely flat. Some plotlines are so tangled that Vishnu couldn’t make sense of it. And there have been questionable moments. Not to mention entirely too many new characters – very few of which I care about at all.

I’m not going to recap. I’m going to assume you’re caught up. In short: spoilers, sweetie.


  1. Greg Mendell. In Welcome to Storybrooke, we learn his backstory. We know that he’s looking for his father. He appears to be in his late thirties. In the flashback, we saw that he led the cops right to the Welcome to Storybrooke sign as a kid. So, um, WHY did it take him so long to go back?
  2. Now, I have questions about the curse. Initially, Greg and his dad wander into Storybrooke without a problem. When he goes back with the police, the town is invisible. So, what changed? If, as the curse previously dictated, Storybrooke was devoid of magic – HOW did the whole town suddenly *poof* off the map?
  3. Then there’s the matter of Tamara, who seems to be fond of the psychotic meet-cute. We have no idea who she really is, except that she’s somehow involved with Greg Mendel. Somehow, she knows about magic (presumably, because of Greg). But what sent her to the Dragon? Was she simply tailing August? My major qualm is not with her love life. It’s her obsession with that damn taser. Are we REALLY supposed to believe that a simple TASER killed a DRAGON? And speaking of taser impossibilities…
  4. Guys, August is made of WOOD. Last time I checked, WOOD DOES NOT CODUCT ELECTRICITY.
  5. Oh, and August, I have questions. When the Blue Fairy (who popped out of nowhere, for no reason at all, except for plot convenience) used magic to make him real a second time, why the HELL did he turn into a CHILD? The magic was supposed to get rid of his wooden affliction, not regress him nearly back to infancy. When that option was offered to Neal (by Gold), we saw him recoil in horror. Because you shouldn’t just have who you are taken away, bad and good. So, why did August’s good deed lead to him having to start over, without his memory, as a CHILD? Who wants to relieve their childhood?!?
  6. Why is Belle still in the hospital? Gold healed her immediately. Sure, she doesn’t know who she is, but if Ruby can bring her a book and check on her, I’m pretty sure someone can take her to her apartment and say, “Hi, you live here.” Instead, she’s stuck eating back hospital food, wearing a wretched hospital gown, and being bored out of her mind for – how long?
  7. Hook. How, exactly, did he locate Mr. Gold? He just happened to stumble into Neal’s (the VERY FUCKING SECRET BAE) apartment complex? I’m pretty sure running around with poison on one’s hook is not wise. What happens if he scratched himself? Tripped and FELL? Accidentally grazed random people navigating the NYC streets? And last time we saw him, Emma left him knocked out and tied up in a storage closet. Because nothing says ‘smart move,’ like leaving your enemy where you cannot keep track of him. I mean, it’s not like he’s relentless or anything like that. Right? *blinks* We’ve learned that he’s escaped – perhaps with Tamara’s help – but are we REALLY supposed to believe that Emma would leave Hook in NYC, without valid ID, money, or his bloody ship?
  8. What the CRAP happened to Emma’s I Can Tell When You Lie power? Because I feel like that might’ve come in handy. Plus, something is obviously OFF about Tamara, aside from the fact that she has ONE facial expression. August mysteriously dies, but not before he manages to whisper, “She…” You’d think that the brilliant sheriff MIGHT put two and two together.
  9. Lastly, Snow. Her characterization has been all over the place. She decides to kill Cora – which is premeditated. She’s THOUGHT it over. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment murder. It wasn’t an OOPS. It was a choice. Then, we’re supposed to believe that Snow immediately regrets her choice, falls apart, and sits in bed, catatonic? NO. A WORLD of NO. Yes, it was an impure thing, and Snow is all about goodness. But you cannot MAKE a decision like that and then act SURPRISED. But speaking of surprises…
  10. Snow’s heart is blackened by some kind of pulsated malignancy. One that, apparently, makes her do crazy things like SLAP people, independently. NO. Just no. First of all, if this whole Black Heart phenomenon were actually a previously established THING, we would’ve seen this before. Namely, when the crazy evil bitchy Cora’s heart makes an appearance. Cora, clearly, is not made of sugar and spice and everything nice – even from her snarky, Rumpelstiltskin-laden past. So, when Snow gazed upon Cora’s heart, candle in hand, it should’ve looked like a nice fat lump of glowing coal. BUT IT DIDN’T.
Categories: Once Upon a Time

when silence is a living thing

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

This silence has a history,
it is our map for bad days, moments
that began in grief or fear,
an abstract wound of questions
rigorously denied, unanswered.

This is an old theme, a blueprint
marred by footprints,
a lie born of absence,
a thing blind with wanting.

For days, I say nothing.
I pace inside myself, powerless.
How do I exist
without sound, breathe without echo,
love beyond the lie
of each unsaid word?

The syllables build up inside me,
repeating themselves into oblivion, threatening
to burst as a scream, demanding
I pick up the phone
over and over,

again and again –

but the words are old, unused,
nothing beautiful or rare,
raw sentences dripping
with hunger, a need that eats itself,
forgetting polite,
forgetting to be neat, legibly,
a primal despair.

This poem – this conversation –
is a false start,
a letter ripped up and burned;
it is a reminder
of things I keep choosing,
the fear that lives within its own walls,
unforgiving; absence
can be broken with a whisper,
a low-blue flame
of words that write themselves
into existence, a reminder
of the loneliness in the lie,
the uncertainty of the monster
raging in the unsaid word.

Categories: Poetry

controlling the narrative and the art of ruin

March 22, 2013 2 comments

Sarah: That’s not what’s going to kill us. A mistake is nothing. It’s that…
Olivia: You never told him the truth. It’s that you let him believe the lie.

Everyone’s life is a narrative, a story that we craft and shape every day. We hold back. We reveal. We feel, and then we act. In a way, keeping a secret is controlling the information. You contain it, so that it doesn’t affect the rest of your life. Or people’s perceptions of you. You live it, and then it starts living your life for you. Keeping a secret, even for a good reason, can sometimes slowly kill you. And, as Olivia Pope once aptly said, dirty little secrets always come out.

Who, though, is pristine? Who does the right thing, all the time, for their whole lives? Probably no one. The dirty truth is that we all keep secrets, we all do questionable things. And sometimes, that questionable thing is falling in love and having an affair with someone, like Linda Edelstein’s character Sarah, on last night’s Scandal (Top of the Hour).

Often times, it isn’t the mistake that damages us the most – it keeping it a secret. It’s living two parallel lives. When that happens, you aren’t really living in either one, even though you are residing in both. Sarah had an affair with her law professor. This law professor is now President Grant’s pick for Supreme Court Justice. Truthfully, the judge doesn’t seem like a bad guy at all – and when confronted with the crisis, he’s more worried about how the news will affect Sarah, than how it affects himself. Regardless, the truth trickles out slowly, doing more damage than a full confession might have done. Betrayals can be forgiven. It happens every day. Except the affair wasn’t a one-time oops. It was a repeated, lengthy thing – much like Olivia and Fitz. Sarah’s husband begins to spiral out, questioning their entire life together. Once the truth is out there, it cannot be stuffed back into the box.

And that’s what this episode is largely about: controlling the narrative and the motivations behind why we do that. Because keeping a secret is one thing, but does the reason we keep a secret matter? In a heartbreaking phone call between Fitz and Liv, they are both shattered – ruined, as he puts it.

Fitz is devastated that Liv betrayed him during the election. It isn’t that she rigged the election; it’s that she let him believe the lie. He doesn’t care about the reason why she did it. To Fitz, it doesn’t matter. The trust is broken, and she was the only person he really trusted. When Liv tells Fitz that she’s ruined too, he says he doesn’t care. Which, judging by the look on his face, is a lie. Because he called. He called under the pretense of work, but the call was clearly personal. They both agree to hang up, and while Liv does indeed hit end and put her phone done – Fitz only lets the receiver drop. He never actually hangs up the phone. Symbolism? Hell yes.

It seems like everyone is keeping, and reeling, from secrets. Huck and Quinn are stalking the FBI Director, who is shady and selling state secrets. Those two are fabulous together. But it seems like Quinn isn’t as careful as she thought, because the Director is looking into her. That cannot end well, and I suspect Huck is going to be very protective of his protégé. While Abby and Harrison come to an awkward emotional détente – after Abby confesses that she’s put her personal feelings aside and continues to work with him. At least knowing how he interfered with her relationship with David, she has an understanding of who he is – and he’s a Gladiator first and a person second. There’s no bitterness in the words when she says them, but there is a kind of sadness. A resignation that comes with the realization that you cannot fully trust or lean on something, because their full loyalty lies somewhere else. As long as your goals are common, things are fine. When they are divergent, life is uncertain.

Of course, there is also the matter of Jake – who is playing both sides to the middle: dating Olivia while spying on her for the President. He is desperate to keep his own secret, to control his own narrative. When a photographer snaps a picture of himself with Liv, he goes so far as to break into his apartment, beat him up, and steal the memory card. Hello, line. We’ve clearly crossed you. Because at this point, there’s no going back. There’s damage control until all the secrets come out. I suspect that neither Liv or Fitz will be able to forgive Jake’s transgressions, because he’s basically lying to everyone. Ironically, he had passed on some key intel to Fitz (that Liv gave him) which saved the President’s political ass – by rescuing the hostages, which has been an ongoing crisis for a while.

Mellie and Cyrus are doing the awkward dance of power – each wanting to have Fitz’s ear, while Cyrus’s hold is tenuous at best and Mellie is cast out into Influential Siberia. Initially, Mellie assumes that Fitz is sleeping with Olivia again. Cyrus is crestfallen to discover that he was kept in the dark about rescuing the hostages. And then Mellie sees Jake, realizes that he is who Fitz has been secretly meeting. Jake is Fitz’s secret – a dirty secret, considering the nature of Jake’s task. And as we all know, dirty little secrets always come out. This is the beginning of that unraveling. Fitz got sloppy in keeping Jake a secret.

One last thing is that this episode made me wonder about motivations. Say you’ve done a terrible thing. Shouldn’t the reason you did it count for something? I’m not sure I have the answer. You make a decision, and at the time, it seems like the best choice. Not the right one, because sometimes, there isn’t a right choice. There’s just the thing you choice. There’s just what you do. As Olivia put it,You did what you thought was best at the time, even if it was wrong. You thought it was best. You can’t change the choice that you made. All you can do is not let it ruin you.” It’s hard to forgive yourself when everything is falling apart. It’s hard to look at a situation like Sarah’s and not let it tear you up. It’s all too easy to self-blame and berate, because yes, you did a bad thing. But at the end of the day, we’re all human. We are all flawed. And sometimes, you’re living a secret for so long that living without it feels wrong. Sometimes, it becomes such a part of your life that you almost can’t breathe without it. When the truth comes out, you only have one choice: grit your teeth and bear it. Square your shoulders and take it. The thing you had control over is done. Nothing else is truly up to you.

Except to try not to let it ruin you.  Love can be a miraculous disaster from which a person never fully recovers. And falling in love does, sometimes, ruin us for all other people. Because, to quote from Downton Abby, “I’ll never be happy with anyone else, as long as you’re stalking the earth.” You find that person who gets you, who sees you and lets you see them. And that’s it. You’re done. You’re ruined. I wonder if anyone can ever recover from that, without being a poor imitation of themselves. I don’t think I could. I’m not sure either Olivia or Fitz truly can. Because they’re a matched set. They’re sometimes stupid bookends. They’re better when they’re together, and less when they are apart. And they’ve both made mistakes. And yet, I think we have to allow for another possibility. That, sometimes, what comes out of the ruins is stronger and more fierce that what was originally there. That sometimes, what emerges from the charred wreckage is something more than what was there, before. Sometimes, you have to burn it all down and start again, amid the ruins.

scandal love

(Photo is from Scandal’s Facebook page.)

“Maybe…you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said. “That’s what I want too.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Categories: Scandal

on things discovered and recovered

March 19, 2013 4 comments

This big world is a strange, small place. And I believe in its infinite, sometimes insane, possibilities. A few weeks back, my dear friend Alicia was moving to California. She ended up trapped in a snowstorm. The roads were closed. She had to seek shelter. She ended up meeting an author, Sara J. Henry, who was (and, I suppose, is) on a book tour. They got to talking, and it turns out that Sara reads my blog (hi, Sara!). Alicia mentioned that she knew me, and Sara gave her a copy of her novel to send me. (I got it, and I’m looking forward to reading it.)

What are the odds, though? Small, I’m guessing, especially considering the randomness of the journey, the moving from one coast to another. The sheer, bizarre happenstance that is life. I have to say: I love it. I love knowing that connections can be made in the strangest of ways and places. I love that talking to strangers is sometimes okay. I love the moment of reaching out. I love the idea of being seen. I love the way things often change in the ordinary, unexpected instant.

This morning, I found my claddagh ring. It was a gift from my mother (it’s bad luck to buy one for yourself), and it stemmed out of my love for Buffy. I haven’t been able to find the ring for over six months. I’d been looking furiously for it for the past month or so. It should’ve been in a small box, on my bookshelf. Another ring was there, but it was not. I searched everywhere. I moved furniture. I reorganized my dresser. I dumped out drawers. I lamented to friends about the lost ring. The symbolism surely did not escape me; it’s a ring of relationships. It’s friendship, loyalty, and love. I wanted to wear it. I couldn’t find it. It was weighing on me.

Then, today, in the same drawer I’d emptied TWICE – I found my ring. It was tarnished, but no worse for its mysterious walkabout. I cleaned it up, and I put it on. I know that I checked that drawer. I know that I took out every single item. And yet, defying logic and perhaps reason, there it was – right in front. Right on top.

People say that when you stop looking for things – especially love – it shows up. I think that’s a load of bollocks, because you can’t find love with your eyes closed. Sometimes, love is just where it is. There’s no explaining it. You may have sought it out a hundred times, but it wasn’t right. It was hidden in plain sight. And then one day, you open a door or a drawer, and there it is. A little beat up, a little misshapen – and most likely, surprising. I certainly didn’t expect to rediscover my ring, today. But I did. With so much of life just around the corner, this feels like a sign. It feels like the beginning of spring, of possibility. Yesterday, I was scared about things I do not know, things I can’t possible find out. This made me realize how much we miss, if we aren’t paying attention. Sometimes, seeking and looking is the wrong thing. Sometimes, we just have to wait and see what comes to us – and to be mindful. That is the key to life, often times: being present. Being real. Living the moment, instead of sitting there with your questions.

Like my friend Alicia, you don’t know who you might know. You don’t know what connections you might make. You don’t know how small and magical the world really is – unless you are in it. Unless you do the unusual, or even the impossible. Relationships are formed in the oddest of ways, sometimes. We cannot account for that. Neither can we account for what might be returned to us.

Friendship. Love. Loyalty.

What is more important than those things? It is from those qualities that many, if not all, great things begin. Once they exist, they may fade sometimes; they do not ever disappear. Just like matter cannot be created or destroyed – neither can the intersection of those three traits. Truthfully, these three things cannot exist, if they are not linked together. Friendship without love rings hollow. Love without loyalty is a farce. And perhaps worst of all, loyalty without love. There is nothing honorable about that.

This big world is a strange, small place. But it is also full of magic and wonder. It’s full of promise. You never know who you might meet. You never know what you might find. And you never know what you might gain, unless you open something.

Pull open the door. Pick up the phone. Put yourself out there. Otherwise, you will be the thing tarnished in a drawer, hidden.

“Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” ― Paulo Coelho, Brida

“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?… It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.” ― Paulo Coelho

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

lines on paper, crossed

March 14, 2013 2 comments


This is not a crack in your armor.
This is not a mirror, old and unpolished.
This is not debt or reason.
This is not something broken open,
its insides stolen out.

This is the talent found in stars,
a beauty forever bright and burning,
fire without ash –
a compassion stretched out,
a truth lit like copper.

Do not forget that a song
is built with a single note,
a change pitched out into silence,
breaking through empty space,
lines on paper, crossed.
Was it always there, waiting
to be created?

I want what happens when the world stops,
when the clock breaks and time
falls out; I want the sleek dark
of hearts caught in revelry;
nothing too perfect or too neat,
nothing locked or lukewarm –
I want what howls, what is full of flame.

No more going away.
No more holding back.
No more half-executed alchemy.
No more getting by.
No more taking a step back.

I want a love that lives,
beyond its threat to die.

Categories: Poetry

the monster in the basement

March 12, 2013 1 comment

Generally speaking, I handle things better when I understand them. I don’t have to like a situation to handle it well. In fact, if I had a superpower, it would be that. If you tell me that worst thing imaginable (“There’s a murderous clown living in your closet, and he has eaten your puppy!” or “I’ve just finished the last of the coffee. And there is a statewide shortage!” or “I’m sorry, but you are suddenly lactose intolerant and can no longer consume cheese.”), I will not be HAPPY – but I cope with things better when there are facts.

It’s the void that gets me. The dark unknown, the universe of answers turned inside out. Not because the answers do not exist. It’s because they are hidden from view, unable to be accessed. Because some answers are tucked any somewhere – and with someone – else. And it can be very hard, very challenging to get a handle on a situation like that. Especially if there are crazy variable involved, and you’ve absolutely no way to suss them out.

This is what your brain does in moments like that. Or, at least, mine. It’s like that scene in a horror movie where a character is in a basement. Suddenly, the lights go off, and the protagonist cannot find the stairs. It doesn’t matter if there truly is no monster lurking in the darkness. Your brain goes full on oh my god, what they hell? Is that a Jabberwocky? I AM GOING TO DIE. And the character ends up tripping on a rake and impaling himself/herself for no good reason.

Emotionally speaking, that scene is a landmine of what-ifs. Your brain starts to devolve into its worst, fear-seeking self – until you’re fairly certain the reality of a situation is the most terrible version possible. That is nothing more than fear taking all your good sense, wrapping it in insecurity, and chucking it into the ocean, where it gets eaten by a mutant shark while the theme song to Jaws plays at an alarming decibel.

Personally, my problem in this kind of situation is usually twofold. The first problem is that if I’m worried about someone, and I have no idea what’s going on or any way to find out what’s going on, this does not make me worry any less. In fact, it makes it worse. It ratchets up the fear and concern to an unholy height, leaving my pulse throbbing even in my teeth. My brain tends to bounce around like an electrified pinball, occasionally catching fire and shorting out. Because when left to my own devices, I always blame myself. I find some fault in something I did and start with, “maybe…” And that maybe is a whisper that turns into a voice, knocking itself around the inside of my skull. It’s the what-ifs that kill us slowly, stupidly, and thoroughly. (This is a flaw in my personality. One I am forever working on.) You may not notice this, because most things can be hidden with a good smile. But it’s there. Because I am a worrier. I care, therefore I worry. If I give a damn, I give a damn. And no amount of space, time, or intergalactic rifts in either of those things can even remotely change that. Like I mentioned before, it’s easier to deal with a situation if the lights are on in the basement.

The second part of this problem is I am absolutely shit about being able to do nothing. I don’t necessarily need to move a mountain or render some grand miracle. But I like to help. I like to do, even if it’s just to lend an ear, or a hug, or buy you a drink. I like to help. It’s not even a compulsion. It’s pretty much the foundation of who I am. If I love you, I want to help you. End of the fucking story.

But then, there are the times where the basement is dark. Everything is uncertain. And there are two choices, either of which could be possible. In that moment, the wisest thing is to calmly walk to the stairs, moving slowly – not flailing about like a hyperventilating water buffalo. But truthfully, who is really graceful in moments of raw worry or fear? That is something you have to convince yourself to do, reasoning with your lesser self. It is probably the best choice. The second is to sit down in the darkness. Remind yourself that there’s really nothing to fear. Wait it on. The lights will turn back on. You’ll see what there is to see. You just have to wait. Waiting without knowing is the hardest thing I’ve yet to fully master. Without a finish line, an end zone, a set place of ending – something to achieve – it is terrifying thing. What-if it never ends? What if I never understand? What-if [insert thing here]?

What-if. It’s a bitch.

But in the face of what-if, the best thing is to have faith. To believe. To sit back, consider the heart of the situation, and remember that there are a few things in life that are always true: laughter cannot fix a situation, but it can right the most crooked moment. Fear is only good if you use it as a guidepost to bravery. Love is the strongest force on this earth.

I don’t think much in life is black and white. I don’t think most things are easily figured out. I believe in the power of the heart, of the way life gets complicated when we least expect it to. But I think that at the end of the day, we know exactly what it is we’ll fight for. Sometimes, on the rarest of occasions, there is truly a monster in that basement. The lights go out. Your phone suddenly dies. The door slams shut. And you have, again, two choices: you let the damn thing eat you, because you’re paralyzed by fear OR you fight. Because you’d rather go down swinging than curl up in a ball and give in. That is the most important thing: even when it’s absolutely horrifying, you fight. You don’t just accept that the monster is going to eat you.

When that happens, the entire world changes if you know that someone is on your side. Someone believes in you. Someone is willing to risk everything for you. In that spirit, here is the truest thing I know – even my worst days, even when I’m scared, know this: I’m here. I love you.

After The Art of Asking and The Bed Song: Beauty in Vulnerability

March 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Asking is an art form. It is a vulnerable thing. It is putting yourself out there and trusting. Emotional crowd surfacing. Emotional skydiving. You’re taking a risk – a big one – and assuming that someone or something will save you from the fall. And it’s beautiful in its potential. It’s faith in the purest form. It’s allowing yourself to open up, without net or expectation.

In Amanda Palmer’s TEDtalk, she brings up the relationship between artist and fan. It is really very thought-provoking, and it made reconsider a lot of things about the making, and distributing, of art. It isn’t about asking people to pay for something. It’s about letting them. Watch it. I’ll wait.

She had a stellar success with her amazing kickstarter album Theatre is Evil. As a backer, I’m a little biased, because the whole process was amazing to watch. The music is wonderful. But here is what happened: she asked her fans to kick in what they could, offered tiered rewards in exchange, and then pretty much shattered expectations and kicked total ass. The CD, and everything else related to it, would not have been what it is – if it had been traditionally funded. If it had a genesis other than what it was. Just as people are, in part, the sum of our past and experiences, art is as well. From the kickstarter – and her tremendously intimate fan connections, she made good art. (Shout-out to Mr. Amanda Palmer and his make good art speech.). If you haven’t listened to the music, with the stellar new recording of The Bed Song, go. Go right now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. LISTEN. And if you only listen to one song, let it be the aforementioned one. Get tissues first. Trust me. The video is stunning, and it’s right below this paragraph.

I want to connect the idea of asking, as the Divine Ms. Palmer posited, to the Bed Song. Both things shed tremendous light on the importance of communication, of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, of connecting with each other. When we stop being vulnerable, when we stop taking emotional risks, when we stop trying – everything stagnates. We, as people, get stuck. We get stuck in a situation. We start drinking resentment in our morning coffee. We stop all possibilities, all potential. We stop living and start existing.

To me, there’s nothing sadder than a lack of emotional intimacy. Yes, being vulnerable in any capacity is a risk. A big one. But it is a risk worth taking, because it is through vulnerability that we grow and gain. A simple question, like asking how are you? and really listening to the answer – it can change everything. Relationships, all relationships, are work. Some days are harder than others. But the quickest way to kill any relationship isn’t a lack of sex: it’s lack of talking. It’s a dearth of dialogue. Even in small ways, like asking how your day was – or if anything interesting happened. Tell a story. Talk about a book or a song. Just…talk.

And yet, so often, we don’t. We get stuck. We get scared. We clam up. We disappear. And then, after a time, we’re so lost that we can’t even find ourselves. And we give into the routine. We act the part. We pretend it’s all okay, when it isn’t, simply because we’ve convinced ourselves that we have to. This is how things are. This is how they will be. There’s no changing it.

But that’s a lie we tell our reflections when we’re terrified. The truth is that there are a million ways to change everything. Change almost always starts with a single question. Things like, what do you want? Are you okay? How can I help? What’s going on?

There are always reasons why we build up walls, slather on armor, and stay silent. But there are also so many reasons not to. Because when you stop talking, things start dying. Little by little. Perhaps in such small ways that you hardly even notice. Trust me, though: the damage always spreads. Silence (if prolonged and habitual) is a cancer. It ravages trust and intimacy, making it harder to try. It is a closeness, full-stop. A period, instead of an ellipsis. It cuts off potential.

You have nothing, and yet have everything. The connection between two people cannot be measured in possessions, or time spent together, or in any kind of quantity-based idea. Instead, I think it’s measured in honest words, mistakes and bad days, vulnerability in its rawest form, laughter and tears, and love. The kind of love that comes without strings or agenda. The kind that allows for asking the difficult questions, even if you choke on your words a little. The kind that allows us to be ugly when we feel ugly, instead of idea of perfection or beauty.

“I would’ve held you, if only you let me.” That lyric in Amanda’s song gets me every time. You never really know, unless you ask. You cannot know, if you don’t ask. If you don’t strip off everything and run into the middle of traffic, offering yourself. You do not know if someone wants to be a part of your life, unless you take that risk and talk about it. You can’t know anything, unless you are vulnerable. And yes, it takes courage. It takes a measure of insanity, sometimes. But exposing yourself and being honest? It’s the only way to be true to [whatever – your art, your heart, your life].

When I ask the difficult questions, it is never pretty. I’m not comfortable with it. My hands shake. My voice shakes. My heart tries to gnaw its way through my ribs like a rabid dog. It is horrifying. And yet, it is also satisfying. Because it’s the only way to learn, to know, to grow, and to be. It’s the only way to keep yourself from getting stuck in the same spot, for years. Because before you know it, all the blooms have fallen off the trees; seasons have come and gone. Moments have flown past. And the only thing that is horribly the same is you.

After watching The Art of Asking, I was floored by one simple, yet superb, concept: that people often want to give us what we need – if we only ask. If we are brave enough to form the words, there is potential. If we don’t ask, there is nothing. And yes, in asking, we are placing ourselves in a vulnerable position – but that is a small price to pay for possibility.

We need to talk to each other more. We need to stop walling ourselves up and sticking to thing that we know do not work, that we know benefit no one and nothing. Don’t be afraid of losing everything, because you said the wrong thing. Be afraid of losing everything, because you said nothing.

There is true beauty in vulnerability. It is how we discover who we are. It is the only way to love each other. It is the only way to create something, even if that something is difficult or not easily obtained. Life, when you boil it down, is emotional busking. Someone sees you. You see them. They give you something. You offer them something. Eye contact. Intimacy. Human-shaped art.

It changes everything.