3:30 AM Thoughts on Friends

I used to think that I was a horrible friend. Maybe it’s because in middle school and high school–especially high school–I was always told I was. Maybe not in those words but I felt like I was a horrible friend. I won’t lie, I did things I’m not proud of in high school. I got caught up in the petty drama and I hurt my friends, but can we also acknowledge a few things?

Like the fact we were teenagers. Teenagers are stupid. They do and say stupid things to impress their friends. They say and do stupid things just to do it. Teenagers want to fit in and be cool, and I was acting like every other teenager, more or less.

In high school, my friends would act all supportive and then call me a whore and slut behind my back. They’d talk about me, the constant whispers took a strain on me. That happened a lot in sophomore year. I’d hang out with them and then the next day a rumor would start about me. It hurt. So you know what, I did retaliate. I stirred the drama pot. Looking back at it now, I think I wanted to fit in, I wanted to not be the whore or the slut. Or the girl who was causing problems. I just wanted to blend in and be the wallflower. Instead, I ended up as the doormat.

I think we need to realize, or rather acknowledge and understand. that in high school, I wasn’t just going through the regular teenage stuff. We all had our own problems and issues that we were all going through. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life.

Now that’s not an excuse. I wasn’t the best friend, but it is a reason. But come on. What teenagers make the right decisions? No one does. Add in hormones and peer pressure, you get a disaster of a human beings. Then on top of all that teenage idiocy, I had adult problems.

I had to figure out how to pay for bills and food.

I had to get up early to make sure the kids got on the bus.

I had to help the kids with their home, cook dinner and clean the house.

I had all of that on top of teenage life and school work. And I think that’s why I was a doormat.

My friends got me through high school. They were my safe haven. They gave me a place to go when I needed a break from my shitty life. When I wanted to just be a teenager and that’s it.

But you know what? My friends also hurt me the most.

I put up with the whispers and the taunts because I didn’t want to lose them. I didn’t have anyone else I could turn to but my friends. So I shut my mouth, most of the time, smiled and bared it, and you know what, I did lash out after I’d had enough. Then I was the bad guy. They made me feel like I was always the problem. Like I was the one who had to apologize for my shortcomings. But they never did. They made me feel like my words were insignificant because no one ever listened anyways. They made me feel like I had to change and adapt to the situation, and then they’d call me manipulative and a liar. They’d call me fake. I got called that a lot. Along with a whore.

You know what? I did fool around in high school with different boys and a few girls. But I didn’t have sex with anyone until I was 18. After high school. I was experimenting during high school. What teenager doesn’t? I will say that it was nice when I did come out as bisexual and the support I got from my friends, it was great.

My mother on the other hand. She said it was ‘phase.’ I hated that.

But honestly, all that experimenting in high school, it was detrimental to my health. I was lonely and hurting. And honestly, I wanted to feel something. Life was rough and I wanted to feel something. It didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel worse. And I think a part of me went ‘Well if they’re going to call me a whore, I’ll give them one.’

When I got back from Iowa, I slept around. I screwed over my friends, both literally and figuratively. I burned a lot of bridges. I was angry and hurting. I thought I had finally escaped my shitty life with my shitty mother, but I hadn’t. I was right back where I started. That pissed me off. So yeah. I slept around. I messed up some friendships. I regretted it afterwards.

And when I moved to Arkansas, and I was in a better headspace, I apologized. I apologized to the guys for using them and hurting them. I was hurting and barely any of my friends reached out and thought to ask hey are you okay? What do you need? Instead, I was alone. Maybe not all the way alone but often times I felt like If I reached out to complain they wouldn’t care. That it was just typical Keely.

I know I was awful then but I was going through a lot. And honestly, I don’t think I was near as awful as I think or how people made me out to be. It doesn’t excuse it, but I have apologized, and I think it’s time that I gave my 15 year old self, my 19 year old self, and the ages in between some credit. I think it’s time I apologized to myself and to realize that I was only 15. Yes I made mistakes, but I don’t need them thrown in my face.

I was only 19, angry at the world. Yes, I slept around and screwed over some guys. But come on. What 19 year hasn’t? That’s the time to explore and figure out who you are. Now I wasn’t trying to figure out who I was. I was self-flagellating. I was hurting myself by letting guys use me however they wanted because again, I wanted to feel something. I’ve acknowledged that. I’ve apologized. I don’t need it thrown at my face every time. I needed a friend then, and I didn’t really have one. Not a consistent one.

I used to think that it was all on me why I have this habit of losing friends. Like it was all my fault. That I was the awful friend. Truth is, after a lot of thought, I’ve realized that I’m not an awful friend. In high school I wasn’t the best but I tried. Now I do more than try, but I think I have the tendency of getting friends who don’t try. I claim everyone as my best friend but I’m not theirs. I cling to them. I make excuses. I don’t see the fact they’re not a good friend to me. Like the fact I always answer their call when they need me but they are always too busy to talk. If I don’t answer then they get angry at me. How I spend a week with them and they made me feel like an inconvenience the entire time. How they treat me like an idiot, talking down at me, being condescending. How I can never get a word in edgewise. It’s always about them.

Or how when they call and want to talk about their job, and I’m excited about my job so I ramble. I realize that I messed up and I apologize to them. They had said they were hurt that I did that. So I acknowledged that and I apologized. Tell them to call me and I want to hear all about it. Because I’ve missed them and it’s been a crazy semester. I want to caught up. I enjoy talking yo them. Then they call and tell me that they want to take a break from our friendship. That they need to work on themselves before they can friends again. And it might be the truth, but also, this isn’t the first time.

It makes me wonder if I’m the problem. If they want a break from me because I did something wrong. I apologized. But they don’t want to be friends. It makes me self doubt and think I did something wrong. Was it just that incident? I apologized and I was sincere. Was I never a good friend to them? Was I never their best friend? Do they even miss me? I’ve gone through a break up and family drama and, I, of course wanted to reach out to them but I don’t. Because they don’t want to speak to me. To be friends. Do they even care? Or are they going through their life, carefree and free of my apparently awful friendship?

Perhaps it’s petty to write it here. Maybe it’s being shady or something. But I’ve never been good at speaking. I get tripped up and I stutter. But when I write, it flows. It’s why I have this blog. I’m a writer at heart. I mean this blog is called “The Inner Workings” after all. It’s all about me and in my head.

I’m almost 28 now. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. I’ve grown up. I’ve learned. I’ve evolved like a Pokémon. I’m proud of who I am and I can’t wait to see who I am ten years from now. Maybe it’s naive to think I’ll keep my friends from high school. It is naive. None of us are the same. I barely speak to those from high school. Only a few random messages and comments on FB. But that’s okay. We’ve all grown up and adapted and changed. We aren’t the same. We talk when we can and that’s enough. The congratulations and how are you doings. It’s enough.

And you know what, those two people may have not thought I was their best friend, they may have hurt me intentionally or unintentionally but they were my best friends. They may not be anymore but that’s okay. I’ve learned from them. We’ve had great times. And not so great times. But without them I probably wouldn’t have made it out of high school. At times I miss them, but I’ve got life to live. They can’t consume my thoughts because, honestly, I don’t think they think about me. I think to them I was a burden. I was some clingy girl who clung to them and they allowed it. But I wasn’t their best friend. I don’t even know if they considered me their friend. I do know that I ignored the issues. I ignored how one would talk down at me and how the other brought up my sleeping around with guys and accusing me of cheating on my bf at the time. And how they bowed out when I did something wrong. Like I was too much for them and they needed a break. I didn’t realize how much that hurt until now. How a friend just stepping away hurts. I just accepted it as normal. They’d come back and I’d apologize for whatever I did wrong. I always bowed down to them and always agreed that I was in the wrong.

But you know what? I wasn’t always. I’ve acknowledged my problems. I’ve apologized. And I’ve realized something.

I’m not an awful friend. I’m not perfect but I’m a good friend. I try.

Friends are supposed to build you up not make you feel bad about yourself. Friends are there to support you. They may not agree. They’ll give their opinion and say they don’t agree but they don’t leave. They support you through everything. And if you make a mistake, they don’t rub it in your face. They tell you that they’ve got you. Even if you make mistakes, they’ve got you. They are here. Because they’ve made mistakes too. Friends know when you want advice and when you want to vent. Friends can disagree but not argue. They can agree to disagree and understand that everyone has their own opinion. Friends are there. They don’t bow out. They stick through the ups and downs because a real friendship does that. They realize that hey you messed up and I did but we’ll get through this. Because I love you. You love me. Our friendship is worth more than this one down. Let’s work on this together because I’d rather have you in my life even when we aren’t getting along, than not have you at all. Friends are important because they help you grow and you help them grow and then there’s lots of growth. And it’s like, wow, look at us now. Look at what we’ve become. Look at what we can become.

I didn’t know what true friendship was until recently. Until my internship in DC, and I met some wonderful people. We still talk to this day, and we met in 2018. They’re some real friends. I know they have my back and I have theirs. We may stop talking for a few but we always come back and check in with each other. We get each other and it’s nice to have people who support you and metaphorically have Pom poms in the air. Always. We all build each other up and when we break down, we help and we say ‘Hey we got you.’ It’s a beautiful thing. It’s real. And I love it. I didn’t know that friendship could be like that until them. Just like I didn’t know what being someone’s best friend was until now. I think that’s a wonderful feeling.

So maybe I don’t get to keep my best friends from high school. That’s okay. People change. People grow apart. I’ll always be grateful for what they’ve taught me, and I wish them all the best in the world. But you know what, I’m doing alright without them. I have my friends and they have theirs. Maybe our paths will cross again.

Through all this I’ve realized that I need to stop acting like I am an awful friend. Like I am the bad guy and the one that’s wrong. I’m not. I’m not perfect but I’m a good friend. I try. And I think that’s more than good enough. That’s all anyone can do. Is try.

-K

Everyone Was An Awkward 13-Year-Old (Turning Red Review)

Do you remember being thirteen years old? I know I do, though I definitely try not to remember. Let’s be real here. Even if now you’re some hotshot CEO or a popstar or a NASA astronaut, at some point, you were an awkward 13 year old. Don’t deny it. You might me smooth and cool now, but let me tell you, nobody was cool at thirteen. No one. At thirteen, you are hitting puberty and trust me, it’s dreadful. Your emotions are all over the place. If you’re a girl, you suddenly get this thing called a period and you don’t understand why it’s a taboo. Boys voices crack and they get hair in strange places. Basically, thirteen year olds are hot messes. They are walking disasters. In their minds they consider themselves a “young adult” but you know, most of them still have their baby fat. Thirteen is that awkward strange of not being a kid but not quite being a teenager yet either. You want to be taken seriously but you aren’t even sure who the hell you are.

Who was I at thirteen? Fuck, if I knew. I was trying to figure that out. I had braces, so you know I got called “Brace Face.” (I know, I know, so original.) I also had glasses so you know “Four Eyes” as well. I believe I was in 7th grade. That’s when I really started to figure out who I was. Who I wanted to be. I used to wear whatever my mother wanted me to wear, which was pink and girly and just not me. In 7th grad I was like, nope. No more. I wore a lot of black and fingerless gloves and probably the first time I dyed my hair red. I wasn’t quite popular but I wasn’t an outcast either. I was something in-between. I made decent grades. I was in choir and art. I hung out with those folks. But also with the skaters and the ones who didn’t quite fit in with the other cliques of middle school. Think like The Breakfast Club.

That was my friends and I, basically. Some hodge-podge, mismatched motley crew of people who probably shouldn’t mesh but we did. I’ve always hung out with people like that.

In 7th grade you want to stand out but not too much. You want to be cool but not a snob. You want to blend in. You want so many different things. And there are lots of shows and movies that show the teenage years. But let me tell you, this movie perfectly captures the sheer awkward, cringeworthy of being a thirteen year old.

Seriously. I got secondhand embarrassment from this movie.

Now I’m not going to tell the whole movie, because well, I want you to watch it. But here are the basic details and my thoughts.

Mei as a Red Panda

Turning Red is a Pixar film released February 21st, 2022. It follows a Chinese-Canadian girl named Mei who is trying to be the perfect, good daughter while also trying to be herself. This gets a bit more complicated when Mei finds out that in her family, the women turn into giant red pandas once they turn 13 and hit puberty. She can control the panda if she controls her emotions.

This movie talks about the messiness of being a teenager. It’s about school crushes. It’s about puberty. It’s about identity. It’s about how women are told to control themselves. To smile. To be perfect. To not show their anger or their sadness. That’s what the red panda is a metaphor for. Not just a metaphor for puberty, but the repressed emotions women have. That strain that society has put on them. It’s about the pressure that family can put on you (much like Encanto. I discuss intergenerational trauma in my blog post on Encanto too). Like the pressure Mei’s mother, Ming puts on her daughter. That was learned. Ming learned that from her own mother.

But you know what? It’s also about friendship. It’s about the friends you make that sometimes you keep forever. The friends who have your back. The friends who do silly things to try and make you feel better. Mei’s friends accepted her. All of that. And I think that’s beautiful. I know that without my friends in middle and high school, I don’t think I’d be here. My friends saved me, and in a way, Mei’s friends saved her too.

Mei and her friends

So, check out Turning Red. You’ll cry. You’ll get secondhand embarrassment, but trust me, it’s worth it. It’s a movie that I feel like everyone can relate too.

Here’s some other posts on Turning Red:

‘Turning Red’ confronts the messiness of adolescence with refreshing honesty

‘Turning Red’: Pixar’s taboo-busting period film leaves some men complaining about representation

“Turning Red” Is Finally Here, And The Reactions To It Range From Hilarious To Heartwarming

21 “Turning Red” Behind-The-Scenes Facts That Anyone Totally Obsessed With Pixar’s Latest Should Know

And check out this song!

-K

What Has a Book Ever Done to You?

What has a book ever done to you? Personally, if I was to ban a book, do you know what books I’d ban? Math books. Math books have harmed me. They’ve made me cry. They’ve made me scream. They’ve made me faceplant on the desk in hopelessness. But in all seriousness, what has a book ever done to you? What have they done that they warrant being banned from schools? You know if we decided to ban the Bible from schools, people would lose their plum minds. Then if we decided to replace the Bible with the Qur’an, then boy, howdy, people would lose it. Yet, the Bible hasn’t been banned from middle schools or high schools. Hell, in some schools they had a “praying time” in the morning. That later got turned into “read time” or “quiet time.”

Somehow, books are constantly being banned.

Now, I am one of those people who have never believed in the whole banning books thing. Can you name a single book that should be banned? Can you? I honestly can’t. I don’t think any book should be banned. Nor do I think music should be censored on the radio (See this blog: “Unnecessary Censorship”) Or movies censored on television. All that being said, let’s talk.

I’m sure you’ve heard about how a Tennessee school banned the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. This book details his parents during the Holocaust, depicting Nazis as cats and Jews as mice. The book was taken out of a middle school curriculum. Now, it was banned, according to this article, because it had several curse words and a naked woman.

However, this banning has caused massive controversy. A lot of people have spoken out about it, and it is still ongoing. That it isn’t about swearing or a naked woman, that instead, it’s about the context in the book. Since then, the book has been selling even more copies on Amazon. I plan to order it at some point so I can read it.

What other books have been banned from middle or high schools?

Let me tell you, there’s been a lot. Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, Dr. Seuss, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Judy Blume, To Kill a Mockingbird to name just a few. A few, mind. There’s a lot more where that came from. (See links below.)

But why ban books? Well, in my opinion, it’s because the board of directors are trying to control what children learn. Do they want children to know our country’s history? Yes, but not in a negative light. They want the kiddos to know yes, slavery was a part of the country and leave it at that. They gloss over a lot of things in history classes. Such as slavery, the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust. Why? Because events like that were dark periods in our history and they (the board of educators, the government, pick one, there are lots of ‘theys’) don’t want to remind the public about those times. So when it comes to books such as Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, or To Kill a Mockingbird, which both address difficult topics such as racism and slavery, of course, they will get banned.

As for books like Harry Potter and The Golden Compass, they deal with magic, and honestly, not to be rude, it’s the Christians or other religious sects who want those banned. Especially The Golden Compass which is very anti-religious.

I don’t believe books should be banned. Ever. I think that children should be able to read whatever book they want to read and draw their own conclusions from it. They need to learn and figure it out for themselves. But how can they do that when they are prevented from reading certain books? When books are banned?

So I’d like to challenge you to read one of the banned books listed in the articles below. Any of them. Make a list. See how many you can read before Banned Book Week in September.

They’re trying to ban ‘Maus’: Why you should read it and these 30 other challenged books

Book awards: Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century

Now to decide my first banned book to read. . . It will probably be either The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Beloved by Toni Morrison, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

-K

Cocoon (A Poem)

The little green caterpillar munches on a leaf, looking around with big brown eyes as the world spins around and around. She keeps trying to catch up but her short legs can’t keep up. She keeps falling and falling, further behind, scrapping up her knees and hands, blood staining her clothes.

She tries to keep her head down, be like all the other girls.

Keep smiling. Be sweet. Shut your mouth.

Don’t say a word even as the greedy grasshopper grabs her ass.

Don’t raise your fists as the angry ants swarm her, her supposed friends, calling her names and acting like she’s all to blame, Crawling inside her and devouring her up until there’s nothing left but green goop.

Don’t try to be unique. Get in line.

Neat little green caterpillars all in a row with their perfect white teeth, every hair in place, letting greedy grasshoppers move their limbs wherever they want them to go, bending and twisting, putting on a show for the whole world to see.

You’re too thin whispers the others. But don’t they know that it’s because she has hungry larvae to feed? So she hides behind baggy clothes and shrinks into herself like she can just disappear into nothing, fading away into the mist.

The whispers get louder and louder, crueler and crueler.

She’ll spread her legs for any grasshopper, they say. Let them stick their greasy claws in and tear out her insides until she’s just a Hollow husk of flesh with empty dead eyes and a broken heart.

The green caterpillar hides away, until she’s finally free of angry ants and greedy grasshoppers.

She builds up her shell, making thick outer layers to protect herself but doesn’t harden her heart. Instead she creates solid bones, a spine to hold up her head and a sharp tongue to defend herself.

Slowly the caterpillar starts to strengthen with the care and nourishment she never had as a child, flourishing and flourishing.

She becomes strong, finding her voice and speaking her truth with no fear of the repercussions, knowing that she’s not the victim. She is the heroine in her story as long as she believes. She builds herself a suit of armor, made of the encouragement of the others before her, telling her. You can do it. You can do it.

Just keep trying.

Keep your head held up high.

She wraps herself in her own strength that she never knew she had, forming a cocoon.

She used to be so afraid but now she’s not, even as she dissolves into green sticky liquid in her cocoon, shaping into something new. Change can be scary but she’s somehow she’s not afraid even as she breaks down until she’s nothing.

But then, then ugly brown shell cracks and the caterpillar slowly breaks out, shaking the wet off her face, more pieces crumble and as she dries, she spreads out beautiful wings of multitude colors. Vibrant blues, reds, yellows, oranges, greens. All in varying shades. Some pieces darker than others, others darker, some have no color at all, instead black as the night or as white as snow.

In some places, the wings have holes, letting the light through, a little scarred, torn in places but they will still get her where she goes.

She takes a slow hesitant step, still afraid. What if they get more torn? she wonders.

No.

She will simply add more colors, more scars and more tears that tell the story of her life.

So she spreads her wings, the kaleidoscope of colors shimmering in the sun and then she takes off to the sky, feeling the wind in her air and the sun on her face, as she finally tastes true freedom at last.

-K

The Snow Family (A Poem)

The house looks so picturesque, like something you’d see in a magazine for Home Garden, the Christmas edition.

The front yard blanketed with a fresh layer of snow, icicles forming on the gutters, so artfully dripping as if it was planned.

A neat snowman with a black top hat, a checkered blue and white scarf around his frozen neck, little black buttons to make him a sharp jacket, a carrot for his nose and blue buttons for his eyes, a smile on his face. He carries a briefcase in his hand.

Next to the snowman is his snow wife, a pink scarf around her frozen neck and a cream-colored faux fur hat, a wide smile plastered onto her face. She holds the hand of the snow girl, a mini copy of her with the same pink scarf and faux fur hat. The snow boy stands next to his snow father, a baseball cap on his head and a mischievous smile on his face.

The house is strung up with lights that start white then flash to green, red, blue, yellow, and every color in between. A Christmas tree behind the little snow family, the decorations perfectly in place. Not a pine needle out of order.

No, no, that must never happen. Everything must be perfect.

Emerald green, shimmering silver, gleaming gold, and radiant red delicate glass ornaments so carefully set in the tree. A string of white lights and a wide velvet ribbon wrap around the tree like a noose. Glittery white snowflakes and shimmering clear glass icicles. Cranberries and popcorn on a thread in between the ornaments, snowflakes, and icicles. The snow father placed an angel on top of the tree, her beautiful face filled with reverence, gold wings stretched out behind her, and a glowing halo above her head.

Everything is perfect. They seem like the ideal snow family. Their house is seen in one of those magazines that talks about how the family, a mom, and a dad, two kids, one boy, and one girl, have lived in this house since before there were children. When it was just snowman and his little snow wife.

It seems like nothing is wrong until it slowly starts to melt, revealing what they don’t want you to see.

Snowman yells at his snow wife and broke her carrot nose, blue buttons flashing with anger. “I am the man in this house!”

Snow wife threw a plate at his head even as she clutched her bleeding nose. “It’s Christmas!” she yelled. “How could you?”

Snow boy hid with his little snow sister in their closet, covering her ears instead of her own. “Everything will be okay,” he whispers even as the shouting gets louder, flinching at the sound of glass shattering and their mothers cries. The front door slams.

The icicles dripped onto the polished wood floor.

The angel turned up her nose as her wings turned black and charred, a broken halo on her head.

Snowman knocked the tree over, scattering pine needles and glass for his snow wife to cut her feet on as he fled. “Don’t come back!” screams the snow wife.

Crows eat the cranberries and the popcorn while the snow wife cried, her tears freezing on her face.

Snowman grabbed his car keys and screeched out of the driveway, running over the snow boy and snowgirl in the yard, leaving a track of mud.

Snow wife pours herself more mulled wine, telling her best friend over the phone, “I can’t do this anymore.” Her face in her hands, the tree still laying on its side, needles bent and broken. The first ornamanet they ever bought, a simple blue ball with a pretty white Christmas tree painted on it, laid in pieces on the floor.

Snow boy creeps out of his room, sneaking a candy cane to give to his sister. He carefully picked up the pieces of the ornament and took it to his room, spending all night trying to glue it back together, cutting his little fingers, his tongue sticking out of his mouth in determination.

Snow girl hides under the covers, crying but not understanding why, sucking on the sweet candy cane but not tasting it, clutching her stuffed bear tight, a red bow on his neck.

Snow man drives to the bar, picking up a blonde with too much red lipstick smeared on her face. “Make me feel something,” He tells her. But as she leaves red stains on his tie, the one his snow wife bought him as a gag gift, the one with little briefcases on it, he feels nothing. He shoves her face further down, closes his eyes, and finishes the bottle of whiskey, melting into the bed that smells like piss.

Later snow man will come home. He will kiss his snow wife’s cheek. “I’m sorry, baby,” he’ll say. She’ll smile and forgive him, like she always does. “It’ll get better,” says the snow man as he kisses her frozen lips.

And maybe it does. For a while. The snow boy proudly shows his parents the blue ornament he spent all night fixing, lines of silver glitter hiding the Elmer’s glue. The snow wife will say, “It looks even prettier now.” Presents will be given, red and green wrapping paper on the flooring.

The snow man gives his snow wife a heart shaped dimond to hand around her neck. It will get heavier and heavier as the years go by as her smile gets wider and wider. Back to crisp suits and steak and potatoes on the table. Back to screaming and crying, slamming of doors and broken bottles.

The snow man will continue to see random, nameless woman with lipstick smeared on their faces and cheap perfume. He’ll end up dying of a heartattack, sitting in his own filth in front of the television and leaving his wife all his gambling debts.

The snow wife will drink, throwing herself into PTA meetings, soccer games and ballet recitals, and trying to make everything perfect, putting so much Botox in her face, it’s like she’s permanently smiling. She’ll have to get a job after her husband dies, then another until she’s working three jobs.

The snow boy will drown his pain in pills and whatever else he can shove down his throat to forget the yelling that happens. He’ll turn to a life of petty crime, begging for someone to see him, to save him, until at 17 he ends up on a slab with a bullet in his head. His own hand pulled the trigger.

The snow girl grows up with earbuds in her ears, locked inside her own mind as she makes red lines on her arms and writes into a batter composition note book, hiding from the world. She won’t even mourn her father. She barely knew him.

She’ll try to help her brother but it’s too late, and she’ll always remember the blood on their family portrait and he said, “I can’t do this anymore.” She’ll remember her mother screaming and hitting the ground, clutching her brother’s body.

She’ll end up going to the school counselor and pouring her heart out. Her father’s drinking. The fights between him and her mother. Her brother’s crime record and suicide. She’ll slowly heal, telling her story to group therapy sessions and then eventually to a crowd of teenagers at her old high school, with her wife by her side and her children in the crowd.

She’ll visit her mother every weekend, take care of her and talk about the good days. Only the good days though.

She’ll place flowers and baseball cards on the grave and tell her brother that she’s okay, that she still loves candy canes and making snow angels with her children. She’ll tell him that it wasn’t perfect but at least they had each other. She’ll tell him that now she counsels children who came from homes like theirs so maybe there won’t be another him. Maybe she can save another snow boy when she couldn’t save him. She’ll tell him she loves him and that he was right. It will get better. Maybe not at first but it will.

Then she’ll set a blue ornament on the grave that their mother kept all these years, little lines of white glue visible where the silver and gold glitter had flaked off. She’ll remember how she took a glitter pen to hide the glue and how her brother said “That’s a great idea!

Then she’ll walk away, taking the hand of her snow wife, their daughter in her arms as they walk away. Money is tight. Stress is high. Their daughter is sick. Her snow wife lost her job. But the snow girl will remember.

It will get better.

-K

Bottles in the Closet (A Poem)

You only call me when you’re drunk.

I can hear the slur in your words even as you say, “I haven’t had a drink all day.” We both know it’s a lie. I can almost smell the alcohol on your breath over the phone.

You poured another glass of red wine, instead of putting the cork in the bottle and just walking away. Drink some water and start up again the very next day. As if drinking red wine will numb the pain and erase all the memories you swear you don’t remember.

Or maybe it was a shot of vodka to chase all the bad thoughts away. When you wonder why it is that none of your children want to stay. Throwback the shot glass, the alcohol burning your throat. I bet you don’t need a chaser. You simply grab another.

You keep pouring

and pouring

and pouring,

until everything goes fuzzy. You almost feel like you’re invincible. Like you aren’t risking your life and everyone else’s when you get behind that steering wheel.

You only call me when you’re drunk.

You tell me you don’t want to be here anymore. It’s something I’ve heard before, ever since I was 13 years old. What a thing that a teenager hears from her mother. Can you imagine how that makes me feel?

That time you took a steak knife in the kitchen and cut your wrist in front of me, slurring your words as you screamed and cried. Always playing the victim and making it about you when it should’ve been about us. Your children.

But no.

I had to be the mother. Coax you to hand me the knife even as the smell of vomit on your breath and leftover wine made me gag. I had to lie and tell you that it would be alright. I had to tell you that you were a good mother and that we loved you. That we didn’t blame you for all the hard times.

And when I finally got the knife away, you wouldn’t let me call the police even as the blood dripped on the floor that I’d clean later that night.

You left to go have some fun with drinks. Drank more. It was as if it never happened. As if I was the one who was crazy instead of you. As I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the red off the floor and trying my best to erase the memory of you dragging the knife across your wrist oh so slowly, like you had to make sure I was watching.

You tell me that you’re a good mother, and that you tried your best. Yet you do the same thing over

and over

and over again. You hit repeat. You never learn. You never listen.

You are not a good mother. You never were a mother.

You didn’t do your best. You don’t even know what that means.

Your best is not staying out late partying while your oldest daughter takes care of your children.

Your best is not the water or the electricity being turned off because you got more clothes rather than pay the bills.

Your best is not the pantry and fridge being empty and children going hungry because your happiness is more important than your children’s.

But go ahead, pour yourself another glass of wine. Fill up the cup if that makes you feel better. Makes you feel like you’re not a failure of a mother. Like you’ve done nothing wrong. Like you’re the saint that you think you are.

I remember once I opened your closet door and on top of all the shoes were empty alcohol bottles. Dozens of them, sparkling in pretty colors in the yellow light. Like it was some dirty little secret that you failed at hiding.

How many times did I help you out of your shoes and into bed, making sure you were on your side so you didn’t choke on your own vomit? I couldn’t tell you, I lost track. I know it was too many for a teenage girl to have to deal with.

You always said you weren’t an alcoholic but you’ve got bottles in the closet and wine on your breath that tells another story.

You always say that you’re a good mother and that you love your children. I don’t doubt that you love us. But I don’t think you loved us enough. I think you love yourself and the bottle more. You love partying with friends and trying to capture your youth while your children are left behind. Then we are the bad guys when we want to leave. When we want out of that toxic environment and to do better for ourselves. Suddenly we are abandoning you and turning on you.

You only call me when you’re drunk.

You tell me you love me, that you are so proud of me. As if that matters to me. You had nothing to do with the woman I am. There is not a single part of you in me, and for that I am glad. I don’t see you anywhere, and if I did, I’d be terrified.

I don’t want to be like you. A woman who drowns her self-loathing and insecurities in booze. A woman is so blinded by her own perceived greatness of motherhood that she can’t see the mental scars she’s left on her children. That she still leaves on them. A woman who puts the blame on everyone else instead of looking in the damn mirror and realizing that it’s been her all along. That she is the problem. Not us.

Go ahead. Pour yourself another drink, all the up to the brim until it pours over the edges and drips like the blood did on the linoleum all those years ago. I bet you’ll lick that wine up too. Make sure you don’t waste a single drop to numb the pain and ease the guilt.

Go ahead and call me, tell me you’re a good mother and that you did your best.

I know the truth.

The truth is in the bottles in the closet.

You only call me when you’re drunk.

-K

Red (Taylor’s Version): Album Review

If you aren’t aware, Taylor Swift announced that she was re-recording her six first albums. She doesn’t own the masters of those songs due to a lot of legal stuff that I’m not smart enough to really understand. For more information on why she’s re-recording them, read this article. Basically she’s doing this so that she gets the money if the song is used in a movie or on streaming sights, and it’s a way for her to reclaim the songs she wrote. Which, hey, you know what, go you Taylor. I can’t blame her for doing that.

The first album she re-recorded and released was Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which was originally released in 2008. It was her second studio album, released after her self-titled album. A few of my favorite songs from the album are “Fearless,” “Breathe,” “Untouchable,” “You’re Not Sorry,” and “Forever & Always.”

Re-released, April 9, 2021, let me tell you, not only do I have a new appreciation for those songs in Fearless (Taylor’s Version) but her songs “From the Vault” are incredible. The “From the Vault” songs are ones that didn’t make it onto the album. Ones that were written for it, but no one has ever heard. There’s something about hearing Taylor’s more mature voice sing songs she wrote a decade ago. But even more, hearing songs that we’ve never heard from her.

Songs like “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” a subtle sassy jab at a guy who broke up with her and acts like he’s not hurting.

'Cause I hear he's got his arm 'round a brand-new girl
I've been pickin' up my heart, he's been pickin' up her
And I never got past what you put me through
But it's wonderful to see that it never phased you 

“You All Over Me” tells how she tries so hard to get over a guy but he’s still there.

The best and worst day of June
Was the one that I met you
With your hands in your pockets
And your 'don't you wish you had me' grin
But I did, so I smiled, and I melted like a child
Now every breath of air I breathe reminds me of then

“Bye Bye Baby” where she realizes she has to let go and leave.

Bye, bye, to everything I thought was on my side
Bye, bye, baby
I want you bad but it's come down to nothing
And all I have is your sympathy
'Cause you took me home but you just couldn't keep me
Bye, bye, baby

November 12th, 2021, she released Red (Taylor’s Version). Now, Red has always been my favorite album. Taylor’s said that it’s her only album that’s really about heartbreak. I totally get that. Especially with songs like “All Too Well” and “Red.” “All Too Well” hurts when I listen to it. Just like when I listen to “Last Kiss” from Speak Now.

Holy crap. Just, y’all. I already loved Red as is. But now. . .yeah, I know what album I’ll be listening to forever now. Taylor has done it again, and honestly, I know we just got Red (Taylor’s Version) but like, I need more already. I can’t wait to see what we get from her version of Speak Now, 1989, reputation and her first album, because is this what with her versions of Fearless and Red, hot damn, it’s going to be gold. I can’t even listen to the original albums anymore because the new ones are superior.

Red (Taylor’s Version) takes an album was already incredible and raises it so high that I have no idea how she will top this album. It’s heartache. It’s tragic. It’s beautiful. It’s perfect.

Now, I’m not going to talk about the songs we know, because well, they were perfect then and now they are practically perfect in everyway now. I want to talk about her “From the Vault” songs, also the video of “All Too Well,” and “Better Man.” We’ll start with “Better Man.”

I first heard “Better Man” when Little Big Town sang it. I didn’t even know that Taylor wrote the song. I love her version so much better. It feels more. . .raw and powerful. Her voice, in the words of my boyfriend Corey, is like an angel. This song is about how she loved this man and that they could’ve been something, is he was, obviously a “Better Man.” It’s beautiful and powerful, and honestly just as heartbreaking as “All Too Well.” I also love that it’s a call back to her country roots.

I hold onto this pride because these days it's all I have
And I gave to you my best and we both know you can't say that
I wish you were a better man
I wonder what we would've become
If you were a better man
We might still be in love
If you were a better man
You would've been the one
If you were a better man

Take a listen to it. Seriously. Do it.

Now for her “From the Vault” songs. Oh, boy. Taylor, love you.

“I Bet You Think of Me” reminds me of “Mean” from Speak Now. That’s not a bad thing. It’s got that folky twanginess (is that a word) that I kind of dig. Also, it’s got the same tone as “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” by being one of those songs where it’s all chipper even though it’s like. . .throwing shade. I love songs like. Chris Stapleton (“Tennessee Whiskey” and “Say Something” with Justin Timberlake) sings harmony with this song.

There’s something so. . .easy about this song. Yeah, it’s about heartache. It’s a jab at an ex, but it’s like cool and sweet. For some reason I can picture a bunch of girls singing it at like a bachelorette party or something, arms around each other and they’re totally drunk swaying back and forth. Sometimes the best revenge songs are the ones that are like this.

But now that we're done and it's over
I bet you couldn't believe
When you realized I'm harder to forget than I was to leave
And I bet you think about me

We’re supposed to be getting a video of this song and honestly, I can’t wait.

The next song is one that I love so much, that I had it basically memorized a day after it was released.

“Forever Winter” hits me like a train. Like “All Too Well” and “Last Kiss” but in a different way. Because this doesn’t have to be about a lover. This could be about someone you care about. Whether that’s your sister or your brother or your friend. Someone who struggles with depression. It’s a tragically beautiful song. I can’t stop listening to it.

In this song, it captures the struggle of loving someone who struggles with mental illness, and all you want to do is make them feel better, but sometimes, you can’t. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, and it hurts knowing that they’re suffering and you are helpless.

He seems fine most of the time
Forcing smiles and never minds
His laugh is a symphony
When the lights go out, it's hard to breathe
I pull at every thread trying to solve the puzzles in his head

“All Too Well” is my favorite song on Red. And now with this 10 minute version of “All Too Well” on Red (Taylor’s Version), one of the best songs of that album and of her, hits even harder. It’s more raw and stripped down. It’s sad beautiful tragic. Also, the short film she did for this song reminds me of why I want to do short films.

And there we are again when nobody had to know
You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath
Sacred prayer and we'd swear
To remember it all too well, yeah

For more on my love of our girl Taylor Swift, check out the other blog posts I’ve done!

How Taylor Swift’s Music Helped Me Embrace Being ME!

Lover: Album Review

evermore: album review

Reviews on Red (Taylor’s Version)

‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ Makes a Classic Even Better

Taylor Swift: Red (Taylor’s Version) review – getting back together with a classic

On ‘Red (Taylor’s Version),’ Taylor Swift’s Vault Tracks Are All Too Swell: Album Review

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to start this entire album from the beginning and put it on loop. Until next time!

-K

What Do You Rewatch?

If you know me, you know that I love movies and TV shows. I mean come on, I have a degree in motion pictures (not that it’s being used at the moment and is gathering dust in my closet. But that’s another rant. . . .I mean blog post). I want to make movies and TV shows. It would make sense that I watch a lot of movies and TV shows. Which don’t get me wrong, I do. Seriously, I made an entire spreadsheet of all the shows we watch on Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and Disney Plus. It’s a glorious spreadsheet. Need a show to watch? You can definitely find one here.

Here’s the thing though. . . .I have the tendency to rewatch the same thing over and over and over again. It’s why it sometimes takes me SO LONG to finish a new show if I’m not watching it with someone else. I mean this is this the girl who STILL hasn’t watched The Witcher or The Mandalorian. Yes, yes, I know, blasphemy, blah blah blah. I want to watch them, I do but I’m a contrary little shit, which means the more people tell me I have to watch this show and it’s so awesome and I’m going to love it. . . .the more I don’t want to. It’s a problem.

And sometimes, I don’t want to watch something new. I want to watch something where I already know what’s going to happen. I know that the bad guy loses, eventually, and the good guys are happy. I know the ending, and it’s an ending I like. I need that comfort and security. When I’m sad or angry or insert whatever other negative emotion here, I know that I can flip on this TV show or movie, and it’ll make me happy. I’d thought I’d share the three TV shows and three movies that I rewatch.

TV Shows

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The first time I ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer was at my grandparents’ house in Fayetteville when my brother Tristan and I lived with them when I was in the fourth grade. We used to have what we called BT. Buffy time. Buffy time came with cake time. We’d all sit in the living room, eating the moist, yellow cake with the thick, chocolate frosting that my grandpa baked with a tall glass of milk and watch Buffy together. It was family time. All of us watching it together. Tristan, Uncle Dean, Grandma and Grandpa. Buffy reminds me of those times and yeah, it hurts sometimes especially since my grandpa is gone but it’s a good memory. So when I need Buffy and her badass blonde self to tell me to keep fighting, I flip on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I actually got to meet James Marsters who plays Spike in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He’s a seriously nice guy. I stood in line and got a selfie with him. I also got a photograph signed for my aunt that says “Mama Meme.” I talked to him for like thirty minutes while my cousin Paige gapped like a fool. I guess it’s a good thing when I’m nervous I talk. A LOT. Works to my benefit.

James Marsters with me (on the left) as the Winter Soldier and my cousin Paige (on the right) as Captain America

Can be watched on Hulu, all seasons, 1 to 7.

Charmed

Charmed used to come on TNT before we left for the bus. That’s where I got involved in this show about witches. My grandparents (not the ones in Fayetteville, the ones who lived in Oklahoma then but now in Texas) didn’t like anything to do with witches. I barely got to watch Harry Potter when I was over at their house. Or even like, Narnia. But they got over that. Grandpa Kopanke would always have TNT turned on for me when I got home from school. Two episodes came on right as I got off the bus, and everyone knew that it was Keely’s TV time. It was like some unspoken rule. I loved Charmed so much that Grandpa Kopanke actually bought me the first season of it and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for my birthday one year. I mean who wouldn’t like Charmed? It’s got sisters who kick ass. Hell, the story I’m trying to write on (What Lurks in the Woods) is about three sisters and based off my grandparents’ house in Fayetteville. Sisters kick ass.

I tend to actually rewatch a certain season of Charmed. Season six. Why? Because it’s the best season. It has a great story line. It was different. Now I don’t rewatch season 7 or 8 because the writers absolutely trash all the sisters’ personalities. It doesn’t feel like them at all. My thoughts on that are here.

Phoebe, Piper, and Paige from Charmed

Can be watched on Peacock apparently, all seasons, 1 to 8. (But I wouldn’t bother watching seasons 7 or 8.)

Criminal Minds

When I was in Washington D.C. 2018, we would sit around in my apartment, drink wine, and watch Criminal Minds. (That almost rhymed.) We would hang out and talk and just have a great time. Criminal Minds is one of those shows that you don’t necessarily have to watch in order. Sure, towards the latter seasons it might be best but if you don’t, then it’s fine. The cases do get really competitive at times. I mean, how many serial killers are there really? But for me the show isn’t about the unsubs (unknown subjects) or the cases. It’s about the characters themselves. The Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) is full of interesting and intriguing characters that you get invested in. Other than Elle who is thankfully only in the first season and leaves in the second season, you like the characters. My favorites are Penelope Garcia and Spencer Morgan.

It’s my go to show when I don’t want to watch something new but I need something semi-normal. Not fantasy.

The cast of Criminal Minds, Season 15, the final season

Can be watched on Netflix season 1-12 or all seasons on Prime 1-15.

Movies

Big Fish

Once again, the first time I ever watched Big Fish was at my grandparents’ in Fayetteville. Actually every movie I’m about to mention I watched at their house. Big Fish is a Tim Burton movie, which means that it’s a bit a lot weird and hard to explain. If you haven’t watched it, you should. Also, Ewan McGregor is amazing as always. It’s about a son who comes home because his father is sick. His father told these glorious grand stories and the son who wants the truth, and by searching for the truth behind the stories, the son finally connects and finds out who his dad is.

Alison Lohman as a young Sandra Templeton and Ewan McGregor as a young Edward Bloom

Here’s the synopsis:

“When Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) becomes ill, his son, William (Billy Crudup), travels to be with him. William has a strained relationship with Edward because his father has always told exaggerated stories about his life, and William thinks he’s never really told the truth. Even on his deathbed, Edward recounts fantastical anecdotes. When William, who is a journalist, starts to investigate his father’s tales, he begins to understand the man and his penchant for storytelling.”

Unfortunately you have to pay on every streaming service to watch Big Fish. It’s definitely worth paying to watch though. If you have HBO Max you can watch it on there.

Practical Magic

I might have a thing for witches. . . .a bit. (A lot.) Practical Magic is one of my favorite movies. I watched it so much at my grandparents’ that no one can watch it anymore because of me. It’s about a family of witches who have always been outcasts in this little town in Massachusetts. Two sisters, Sally and Gillian Owens grew up knowing that they were different. Sally denied her powers while Gillian has embraced it. The Owens’ family has a curse on them where any man that an Owens woman falls in love with dies. It’s about sisterhood and love and family and acceptance. I love it. To pieces.

Sandra Bullock as Sally Owens and Nicole Kidman as Gillian Owens

Here’s the synopsis:

“Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman), born into a magical family, have mostly avoided witchcraft themselves. But when Gillian’s vicious boyfriend, Jimmy Angelov (Goran Visnjic), dies unexpectedly, the Owens sisters give themselves a crash course in hard magic. With policeman Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn) growing suspicious, the girls struggle to resurrect Angelov — and unwittingly inject his corpse with an evil spirit that threatens to end their family line.”

Unfortunately you have to pay on every streaming service to watch Practical magic. It’s definitely worth paying to watch though. If you have HBO Max you can watch it on there.

Van Helsing

I watched this movie every single time we went to our grandparents’ in Fayetteville. So much that my Uncle dean actually bought a real DVD of the movie instead of the burned copy he had. Van Helsing is an early 2000s movie so it’s not the best in the world. The dialogue is. . . .well, I could write an entire blog post about early 2000s dialogue. The plot is okay, a bit shoddy, but I love it. I love the emotion behind it. It’s got everything. Mystery, romance, betrayal. It’s about a vampire hunter named Van Helsing played by the wonderful Hugh Jackman who can do no wrong who goes to Transylvania to take care of THE vampire, also known as Dracula. It brings in Dracula and Frankenstein’s monsters. Pretty sure I could quote the damn movie word by word. Also, Kate Beckinsale is amazing, and here she is playing a woman who wants to kill all vampires. And later she plays one — Selene, from the Underworld series.

Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious

Here’s the synopis:

“Famed monster slayer Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is dispatched to Transylvania to assist the last of the Valerious bloodline in defeating Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) reveals that Dracula has formed an unholy alliance with Dr. Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley) and is hell-bent on exacting a centuries-old curse on her family. Together Anna and Van Helsing set out to destroy their common enemy, but uncover some unsettling secrets along the way.”

You can apparently watch Van Helsing if you have a subscription on Peacock or rent/buy on Prime.

What movies and TV shows do you rewatch over and over again? Why? Leave a comment and let me know!

-K