Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Depression, Guilt, and Giving Advice

This post... well, obviously involves depression. But it also is about the huge Internet response to Robin Williams' death, and that response became pretty triggering for me. If it was for you as well, you might want to avoid this post. Just wanted to toss that out there.

Two? Three? weeks later, I am finally mentally prepared to discuss -- at least a little bit -- the Matt Walsh depression blog, along with the idea in general of giving advice to people with depression.

When it first surfaced, I couldn't read the whole thing. Eventually (on a pretty good day) I managed to make it through, and I knew I had to respond. Except it turned out responding was way worse than reading it. I tried twice to write something about it. Both times, I had to stop halfway through in tears and was far from functional the rest of the day. It was... well, pretty triggering.

I had to unfollow people who reposted it on Facebook because nope nope nope, I couldn't deal with that. But then it launched into other people offering their own takes on what depressed people should and shouldn't do, and so I just stopped looking at Facebook, hoping the trend would die down soon and it would become a safer place for me again.

It did, and it has, and I've breathed and thought and now I just want to make one simple point for people to keep in mind when dealing with depression.

Walsh says in his post that he has dealt with depression. A lot of people have claimed that's a lie. I am not a fan of dismissing people's personal experiences, and I certainly don't know him in real life, so I don't really have any reason to think he is lying. Plenty of people struggle with depression that you wouldn't suspect. What I can emphatically say, though, is that his depression must have been drastically different from mine.

Mine comes with a built-in layer of All The Guilt.


Judges - First Appellate Division - May 1923 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Law Society of Upper Canada Archives, Flickr | PD | via Wylio
For me, this is actually usually the first symptom of an upcoming depressive period and the last to leave. I begin to believe that everything I'm doing, I'm doing wrong. I'm dealing with my depression wrong. I'm talking to my friends wrong. I'm writing this blog wrong. And then that guilt converts into crippling anxiety -- if I move or breathe or think or speak I'll do something wrong -- and then I get paralyzed. I spend all day unable to do anything and then feeling guilty about the fact that I can't make myself do anything and that makes me feel even worse and makes me feel even more anxious and then I am even more paralyzed and I can only hope that going to sleep will restart my brain a little bit and leave me feeling better in the morning.

And while obviously not all depression is the same, I've talked to enough people whose depression includes extreme guilt that I'm pretty sure it's not just me, and it's worth taking into consideration the fact that if you're talking to someone who is depressed, there's a decent chance that they're feeling extremely guilty. For everything.

Let me add another thought to that: Depression guilt is not rational.

Crying girl on bench from Flickr via Wylio
© 2009 uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
You can't always logic your way out of it and be like, "That's silly, obviously this isn't my fault." Criticism of any kind turns itself into truly nasty negative self-talk. There have absolutely been times when I got a minor revision request on an article I sent into Textbroker and depression guilt completely took over and all I could think was that I was a failure as a writer, a failure as a person, and that I was never going to be able to do anything. Ever again.

This is in no way just "not being able to take criticism" or an immature response from an oversized ego or "taking things too personally". I try very hard to learn from my mistakes and do things better the next time. I truly value criticism. But depression guilt is very skilled at latching onto anything negative anyone has ever said about anything I was connected to and somehow turning that into self-hatred and guilt and fear.

So. With this in mind.

Walsh wrote a follow-up post to his blog in which one of his main points to his critics was along the lines of, "You're twisting my words! People shouldn't be upset about things I never said!" And while I agree criticism should be accurate, he's missing the much bigger picture: He wrote, at least in part, to a depressed demographic, and depression twists your words, too.

I have never been suicidal, and Walsh made a big deal of saying that he was talking about suicide in his post, not depression... but depression guilt made everything Walsh said apply to me too.

Statements like "The final refusal to see the worth in anything, or the beauty, or the reason, or the point, or the hope" became "If I can't find beauty in something now, it's because I'm refusing to."

Statements like "The willingness to saddle your family with the pain and misery and anger that will now plague them for the rest of their lives" became "If you don't hurry up and get rid of your depression fast, you're hurting your family because you may not be dead but if you cared about anyone you'd clearly be doing more to fix yourself."

Statements like "In suicide you obliterate yourself and shackle your loved ones with guilt and grief" became "Every bad decision I make because of depression is going to hurt everyone I love forever."

Are these rational conclusions? Not particularly. But that's what depression does.

For what it's worth, I do agree with Walsh's main point that suicide shouldn't be glorified. It's a tragic tragic thing. But you can't give people hope by giving them guilt. It doesn't work that way. Some people are motivated through harsh criticism, through showing the awfulness of what they do and think. But with depression, all of that can sound awfully similar to the nasty self-loathing thoughts running through your mind 24/7 anyway, and it's not always possible to distinguish between the two.

SILENCE from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Anders Printz, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
"Does this mean I shouldn't say what I think, that I have to sugarcoat every single thing I say when I say anything because oh no, I might make someone with depression feel bad?"

Well, I am a fan of gracious speech in general -- we need more of it -- but, no, I don't think you can't be direct or say anything negative. I'm not a fan of silencing people. But it does mean that if you are writing specifically to people with depression, you shouldn't be surprised when your words get filtered through the lens of depression.

His follow-up post addressing objections included this line:
We live in a culture where rational discussion has become nearly impossible[.]
And my instant thought was, "Does he not realize he is discussing a mental illness?!"

Sure, there are plenty of people out there who think irrationally without any excuse, and yes, this is a sensitive subject where even people without active, current depression may respond without fully reading... but excuses like this also blame people like me, who are fighting against irrational self-hatred, irrational self-loathing, irrational guilt and fear and anxiety and apathy every single day for weeks on end.

He either 1) didn't know that depression makes things seem worse than they are, or 2) didn't actually think anyone with depression was going to read this blog. He wrote that blog to and about people with real depression, and then he got offended when people with depression (among others) responded to the accusing tone of his blog rather than the actual words.

This frustration that "oh my gosh, people get emotional about depression, what's up with that?" indicates to me once again that whatever experience Walsh has had with depression, it was nothing like mine is today. Maybe his depression really didn't have an ounce of guilt in it. Or maybe he felt like he could just logic-and-joy his way out of the guilt. If that's the case, well, that's nice for him, but I'm pretty sure that's not how it works for most of us.

So what does this mean for me?

All right. All that being said, this is the main thought I want to pass on.

Help! from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 Richard Gillin, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
A lot of people offer advice for people with depression, and I truly believe they want to help. I've heard everything from "Pray more" to "Go outside more" to "Spend time with your friends" to "Get therapy." And while these things can be very helpful, none of them are an instant fix to a one-size-fits-all problem. Trust me, most people with depression have heard plenty of these solutions, and they may have even tried them, only to feel utterly defeated when they don't work.

In my own writings about depression, I try to be very careful not to say "This will make things better!" Because sometimes it doesn't. And I don't want someone to read my blogs about dealing with depression and feel worse about it. I always try to frame it in terms of "Sometimes this is helpful for me" and encourage people to share their own stories because mine are in no way definitive.

I think sometimes people get frustrated when they see depression (not frustrated at depressed people, frustrated by the disease itself) because it feels like it should be something that just a little more self-control can fix, like controlling your temper or just doing things you're scared of. That can lead to very dogmatic statements meant to be encouraging, with those people having no idea that they're instilling even more guilt into the people they're trying to help.

If you find something you think might help a friend with depression, here's my brief take on it: you can totally reach out to them and show that you care -- it might be very encouraging -- but make sure they know they're not obligated to try it and it's not obligated to work. If you're not sure, you can even ask them first: "Is it OK if I shared a thought with you, or would that not be helpful?" Above all, let them know they're loved and valued, even if this is something they deal with for a long time.

I don't feel like I'm doing a very good job pulling these thoughts together, but in conclusion, let me say this. I advocate for love and compassion in dealing with people all the time, but just... please be extra compassionate in dealing with a subject like this. This is not a time for tough love.

And I did want to throw out a quick thank you to all my wonderfully kind and compassionate friends -- even those who have never dealt with depression themselves -- who thoughtfully listen and pray and love and care.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Um... Have a Video?

I'm a bit behind on my blogging this week (hoping to get caught up some this afternoon) but I don't want to leave you guys with nothing, so here is a silly video for you guys! I can't remember if I've shared this on here before, but this is one of my favorite YouTube channels, featuring adults lip synching along to stories told by children.


See you Wednesday!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Della, Part 4

Last time... nothing really happened. Jeff showed up and got all possessive. Then Della started calling everyone she knew asking them if they hated her parents and wanted to kill them. Surprisingly, that pays off in this chapter.

It wasn't long before the foon rang again, and Della picked it up eagerly. "Yes, who's speaking?" she asked the phone caller on the other end, eagerly.

"Well...this is Sammy Jorgenson," said the hesitant voice on the other end. "Actually, can I back up and not tell you who's calling?"

It's HOMESTAR! "So, actually, the best thing for you to do would be to go back and not listen to the first part of this tape."

Della says yes, even though in the back of her mind she was plotting to remember it forever.

She's such an obliging person.

The tiny voice went on, "I have to say I have reason to suspect my father was lying to you about his motivations for everything and anything. 

That is a LOT of lying.

He hated your father, hated hated him. He wanted him dead." There was a pause, and then the voice said, "But I can't say that that'll help you any."

Right. That's not going to be a clue to her parents' murder or anything.

"Oh, it's helped me more than you know!" Della squealed, and hung up the phone with a click. She turned triumphantly to Dax and said, "I KNEW it would work!"

Dax cracked his fingernails 

Ewww...

and said slyly, "I know you said that, but I was just unsure."

That's sly, all right.

Della leaned forward and said, "But now I've been proven right!"

At which point Dax stood up and stomped out of the house.

Well, that came out of the blue. Dax is temperamental, isn't he?

Della cheerily went on her way, 

Doesn't seem to bother her much.

cooking and cleaning and keeping the house airtight. 

That's right. No air's getting into THAT house.

When she had finished all her daily chores, she sat down at the table to think out her thoughts. The question was, how was she going to go about obtaining a confession from Mr. Jorgenson? She was sure it was him, she hardly had to ask any questions about it, but she didn't know how she would get him to admit he killed them.

She's a brilliant detective, may I just say.

She supposed the best tactic would be to spy on him and see if he did anything suspicious, and if he did she could go to the police with her proof - the gun, the information from Sammy, and whatever suspicious things she saw him doing.

That'll get a conviction RIGHT AWAY.

The next day was ideal following someone weather - foggy with a hint of rain.

Haven't you seen any movies? Of COURSE that's ideal following someone weather. Foggy so they can't see you. Except... wait. You can't see them either, can you?

She wore a long black gown and a mask over her eyes, 

Now THAT is inconspicuous. 

and stalked through the village with a mysterious air.

This CRACKS me up. I'm not sure she could be drawing more attention to herself if she tried.

When she reached the Jorgenson's house, she hid behind a tree but got tree sap on her hand.

...Oh no?

As she tried to swipe it off, she noticed the front door open and Mr. Jorgenson walked out of the door and into his car.

Oh, no! If he got in his car she'd never be able to follow him, he'd go too fast!

She probably should have thought of this beforehand.

Quickly she brought the blowgun to her lips and blew, 

My gosh. I'd forgotten that. The completely random appearance of a blowgun.

and a tiny dart flew out and into the tire of the Jorgenson's car. Mr. Jorgenson gave a start and went over to examine the tire more closely. "Martha!" he yelled. "Them darn kids are playing again!"

Right. In 1950s sitcoms, it was pretty frequent for the squirrely neighborhood kids to blow BLOWDARTS into people's tires.

Mrs. Jorgenson appeared in the doorway of the Jorgenson house, hardly sure what was going on. "You can't stop children from playing, dear," she said supernaturally.

Clearly I couldn't find the right adjective.

Mr. Jorgenson angrily indicated the punctured tire, which was sinking deeper every moment. "I can't possibly get to work now!" he said.

"Well, dear, you can walk," Mrs. Jorgenson said, giving him a kiss on the cheek and a brown paper bag. "Don't forget your lunch."

She seems very much in control.

He snatched it out of her hands and went on his way, mumbling. Della was glad for the interruption. She could follow him on foot, but she couldn't if he had been in the car. Sneaking behind alleys and between cars, she managed to keep him in sight all the way to his work place, a large smoke billowing factory that made shoes and toys.

Lots of smoke billowing going on there. Don't forget that part.

She hadn't known he'd gotten a job there after he'd lost his job with her father.

As she watched him, he walked into the factory gates and shut the doors. She sat outside with her own brown paper bag and ate her lunch under the trees on the hickory bushes 

That doesn't sound even slightly comfortable.

as she waited for him to reemerge.

"Having some lunch?" came a voice next to her. She looked up and it was that friendly policeman from the first day when her parents died. She patted the tree next to her. "Sit down," she said.

Well, after all, she is sitting on a hickory bush... it's not like she is taking the best seat for herself.

"I could use the company."

Stalking people is a lonely business.

He plopped down on the ground next to her and knelt his knees and rested his hands on them. "How are you doing?" he asked.

She shrugged, her mouth full of peanut butter. "Can't complain," she said. 

Apparently Della isn't even all that sad that her parents are dead. She just wants the revenge.

"I'm trying to watch someone."

The police man looked interested, and said, "Why? Why would you watch someone? And for what?"

Out of all people, a policeman should know why you might want to watch someone.

She swallowed and took a drink of milk so the peanut butter would swallow right, 

First things first.

and then she explained the whole story. "And so now I'm waiting for him to come out and do something suspicious," she said. "Because then I'll have irrefutable proof!"

Sorry, Della, I'm not sure it works that way.

"Well, actually, no," said the policeman.

He's putting a damper on Della's zeal.

"You'd have to actually catch him in the act."

Right. In the act of KILLING HER PARENTS.

"What!" Della's jaw dropped. "That's so ridiculous!"

She disapproves of the legal workings of this country.

The policeman shrugged. "Sorry, I don't write the laws, I just make sure everyone obeys them." 

That's right. So he's going to sit her and let her stalk the guy.

They sat in silence on the grass for awhile, until the sun began to set and Della was worried that Mr. Jorgenson would never come out.

This policeman is awfully patient.

A moment later, though, the factory gates began to slowly open, and Mr. Jorgenson's familiar figure came strutting out from behind the gates. He carried the same brown paper bag, except there was still something in it. Della knew he had to have eaten his lunch, so what WAS he carrying out in that paper bag? Left overs? Shoes? Toys?

"Can we follow him?" she asked her policeman friend.

At least she's trying to get legal permission now.

The policeman shrugged. "Sounds good to me."

They stood and padded behind him, 

Yeah... not the right choice of verbs.

careful never to get too close or make direct contact with him. When Mr. Jorgenson got to an intersection, he stopped and looked both ways before crossing the street. Finally at one point he ducked into a tiny dark shop. Della ran over to see what it was. The window in the shop read: "HATS FOR SALE."

Next time... we find out what happens at the shop! Kind of. As much as we ever find out anything in this story.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reasons to Dance: 1-100 (Highlights)

As I wrote in this blog a few weeks ago, I started a Twitter account specifically for me to catalog things that made me happy throughout the day. I decided in the interest of spreading happiness, every 100 items I'd come back and share a few of the highlights. Not all of them, because some of them are really specific to me or to a certain day, but some of the ones that I hope will make you smile as well.

I did not get struck by lightning when a thunderstorm started in the middle of my shower. So yay.


The score for Oldboy (2003). Those melodies are so beautiful. I could listen to them all day

Cleaning our house is a pain, but I do love the way clean carpets look. It somehow makes the whole house brighter.

When something you've been stressed about is finally over and you can breathe and feel like your head is clear again.

Ice-cold Pepsi. Seriously refreshing.

Late summertime sunsets. Right now it's 9 p.m. and there's still a tiny bit of light outside. Love it.

Sunset Watching from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 Zach Dischner, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
"Love Never Felt So Good" by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. This will be my summertime happiness song, I think.

While reading Lovecraft, I discovered the word "Esquimaux," which is the French spelling of "Eskimo." Languages are fun.

BANANA BREAD. Jacob is making it and I am really, really excited about it.

The Captain singing with his housemaids on How I Met Your Mother. I haven't laughed that hard at that show in a long time.

When you get new headphones and hadn't even realized how terribly your old ones were working until suddenly EVERYTHING SOUNDS AMAZING.


Woman with Headphone from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Sascha Kohlmann, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
It's very satisfying to figure out how to phrase something I've been struggling to communicate.

I have a real fondness for actors playing exaggerated versions of themselves in movies/TV. It just makes me happy.

That scene from Anchorman where they're all singing "Afternoon Delight." Why does it make me laugh so much? Who knows. But it does.

One of my friends got engaged today. I love when people I care about have great things happen to them :-)

I told Puppy to sit, and she sat. She still can't be reasoned with cuz she's a dog, but at least she knows when she's supposed to sit.

The "Cleveland" song from 30 Rock was performed by Tina Fey and Jason Sudeikis. It took me longer to realize that than it should have.

Scented garbage bags. They make the whole kitchen so much nicer than it could be.

I am really amused when Puppy stands on me and puts her face RIGHT UP TO MINE but doesn't lick me or anything, just stares.

"Is it the jacket? Because it should be." #TheITCrowd

The Swarley episode of HIMYM. Barney's face when he says, "Please don't start calling me Swarley," cracks me up.

The design of Letterboxd. This is a really tiny thing to go on my yay list, but it's just... so appealing. I love looking at it.

I like that I can use the Internet to find out information about local services without having to actually call anyone.

My mom has self-published her second book today. I'm super proud of her!



Having enough food in the house that I can choose what I want to eat. Not everybody can do that. Heck, sometimes *I* can't.

Weird Al's "Tacky" music video. Seriously, I don't think I can ever watch it enough.

That quesadilla I just made. Gooey cheese, salsa with EXACTLY the right amount of heat... Yummm.

I love when I quote musicals on my Facebook and my friends identify them. It just makes me happy to share that.

Barrett Wilbert Weed's voice. She has a weird name, but DANG she is captivating on the Heathers cast recording.

Papa John's garlic sauce. It can make anything delicious!

Completing a playlist on SongPop. Hey, sometimes it's the little things.

Realizing you've actually had a pretty good day and it's maybe the first time in weeks you haven't felt depressed. YAY.

I somehow lost all my online game progress. Jacob felt bad for me and restarted his game too even though he was further along. Aw!

Guardians of the Galaxy. Yay for superhero movies that aren't just crime dramas with capes.

Sister texts me: "I watched Little Shop of Horrors. I liked it! But it was a bad one to watch a week before I get my wisdom teeth out."

Snarky responses to things that make me furious. Laughing at it really does help to take away its power to hurt me.

A friend checked in with me Monday to find out how I was doing with all the depression talk on the web. Yay for friends who care!

Chocolat de Bonnat from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 Everjean, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
Dark chocolate.

Wonderfully compassionate friends who give me hope for humanity.

What's been making you happy today?

Monday, August 18, 2014

SONG Titles

So, I like my fun and creative friends.

I posted this on my Facebook last Wednesday:

I turned on caps lock accidentally and wrote the song title, "EVERYTHING I Do I Do It For You," which just sounds really passive aggressive. So now I'm thinking... what other song titles take on a different meaning if you put one of the words in all caps?

My friends and family members gleefully took on the challenge, and I wanted to share my very favorites with you all for anyone who didn't feel like sorting through all 110 comments on my page.

Let it GO!

MY Heart Will Go On

Can YOU feel the love tonight?

Kiss the GIRL

Have Yourself a Merry LITTLE Christmas

HOW Much Is That Doggy In the Window?

Mary HAD a Little Lamb...

If I Were a Rich MAN

I Get Along Without You VERY Well

What Child IS This?

Call Me MAYBE

ALL BY MYSELF

Hey There DELILAH

ANOTHER One Bites the Dust

EVERYBODY Wants To Rule The World

MAKE 'Em Laugh

I COULD Have Danced All Night

We WILL Rock You

I KNEW You Were Trouble

ALL That Jazz

Twist AND Shout

Bibbidi Bobbidi BOO

I JUST Called to Say I Love You

WHY can't we be friends?

Little Birdhouse In Your SOUL

OKLAHOMA

Feelin' GOOD

THERE Are Worse Things I Could Do

Ho HEY

Hey Hey, WE'RE the Monkees!

I WILL wait for you

JESUS loves you

MY Way

Chime in and leave your own suggestions in the comments! Maybe I'll feature some in a future blog.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Della, Part 3

Recap: Last time, Della called on her friend Dax the archaeologist to help her solve the mystery of her parents' death. They only got as far as figuring out that the bullet came from the most popular gun on the planet. Also, Dax is cooking food for Della.

Della took the casserole from his hands and put it on the table, then opened the door for him to come in. 

So the door was closed when she took the casserole from his hands? That's a bit freaky. 

"Come and eat it with me," she offered, waving her hands in the direction of the kitchen.

He took off his hat and stepped inside, wiping his feet on the mat and nodding. "I suppose I should," he said. "Where's the kitchen?"

She directed him to where they would eat, and pulled a chair out of the table for him. "You can sit here," she said, and then hurried to her own seat, which she pulled back and sat it. They carved the casserole and ate in silence for a few minutes. The casserole tasted so much better than anything Della'd eaten in the last twenty-four hours, she just gobbled it up. Dax ate slowly, savoring every bite and sneaking looks at Della. She thought maybe he thought she didn't notice, but she did. She wondered what he was thinking.

They were just about done with their dinner, and Della had gotten up to start clearing her own place, when the doorbell rang. Della shot a quizzical look at Dax and said, "I wonder who that is?"

"I'll get it," Dax offered, wiping his mouth with his napkin and standing up, pushing back his chair. "You just do the dishes."

Della nodded and turned to the sink, filling it up with soapy frothy bubbles. Her hands were plunged deep in the frothy mess 

I was apparently REALLY into the word "frothy."

when Dax reentered the kitchen, sounding a bit puzzled. "There seems to be a young man who really wants to talk to you," he began saying, but just then Della heard a familiar voice demanding, "Della? Are you in there?"

"It's Jeff!" Della squealed, grabbing a towel from the sink and wiping her hands. She ran into the other room, where Jeff stood, angrily thumping his feet on the mat 

That sentence conjuress up images of Thumper from Bambi for me.

and looking very glaring at her. "Where have you been?" he snarled at her as she rushed toward him. Taken aback by this rude gesture, she stopped short and snapped back, "Where have YOU been?"

You tell him, Dlla! I guess.

He looked askance at her. "I thought we had a date last night?" he said. "Or was I mistaken?" 

Della's jaw dropped. She had forgotten entirely of the day and couldn't believe she'd forgotten to even let him know what was going on. "I- I'm sorry," she began to stammer. "I can't believe I didn't tell you about it."

"About what?" he demanded, leaning one arm against the wall lazily. "I want you to tell me what you're talking about."

So Della explained about her parents, and when she finished, Jeff was awfully silent. "Oh, well, I guess that's a good excuse," he finally said. "But don't let it happen again!" And with that, he turned and walked out the door.

So, uh, Jeff seems like a really good guy...

Della breathed a sigh of relief, but then she turned to Dax, who was standing watching in the doorway, and said, "What did you do? Didn't you let him in? Why didn't you come get me?" 

"But I did," Dax said, "he said that-"

At that moment, there was a pounding on the door, and when Della turned to open it, it was Jeff again. He had snow on his boots. "I also have a question!" he said, waving his hand in the air. "I want to know who HE is!" and he pointed threateningly at Dax, who took a step backwards and tripped over the dog.

Sometimes during speed stories, dogs just appear out of nowhere.

"Is he some new boyfriend?" he asked Della. "Are you replacing me already?" 

"No, he's not a boyfriend," Della reassured him. "He's just a friend of the family. He's helping me out."

"That's all right then," said Jeff, and he turned and left.

For being someone who's super suspicious about everything, he accepts her answers without question.

Della shut the door again and leaned against it with a sigh. "Phew, that was close. He almost guessed." 

Guessed what?

"Guess what?" Dax said. 

I see Dax and I think alike. Which is actually not really a good thing...

Della shrugged. "I don't know. I'm going to go finish the dishes."

Just give up on conversation and do some chores. Good idea.

She wandered back into the kitchen and plunged her hands back into the filthy froth

More froth!

and began to scrub away. Dax came back into the kitchen and sat at the table and began to converse with her about various things. They talked about animals for a long time and she found she was laughing as she did the dishes. Finally all the dishes stood alone, 

Did the cheese stand alone?

and she could relax. She pulled off the gloves and hung up them above the seat, 

Nothing like dirty dishwasher dripping onto your chair!

and then she said, "Shall we go into the living room?" 

Dax shook his head. "Actually, I should probably get going," he said. "If you want me to find out anything about the investigation for you, I need to get to work." 

Apparently Dax has a plan. I don't know how, but good for him.

Della nodded enthusiastically. "I definitely want you to keep working on that. Don't stop if you can help it." 

Dax nodded. "Okay, I can do that." He picked up the casserole, hesitated, then thought of better and so left and walked out the door.

He should probably think of better and not help Della in her weird quest at all.

Della shot the door behind him, 

Is Della in the habit of shooting the door after visitors leave? Cause if so that explains how they passed the casserole through without opening the door...

and then leaned up against it as she thought of how the evening had progressed. It had been interesting, to 
say the least. She hadn't expected Jeff to show up and really, she was obliged at his graceful behavior today. 

Della has an odd definition of "graceful"...

She wished he wouldn't call, because she wasn't going to call him either. 

So there!

She looked at the clock. It wasn't time to go to sleep yet, but she wasn't hungry either.

Well, that IS a dilemma.

She tried watching TV and it was just news, so she flipped through more channels to see if there was a good show on. There wasn't. She remembered Mom and Dad again but told herself No, she wouldn't cry, and she didn't.

She picked up a magazine that was lying on the floor and thumbed through it, reading a few of the fashion tips - like those would ever help her! she thought dourly - and reading a bit of the gossip columns of the celebrities. She really couldn't care less who so and so was dating and who they were interested in. She wished she were famous so people wouldn't write that stuff about her because she wouldn't let them. 

She is even defiant about hypothetical situations.

She tossed the magazine back onto the floor, without a glance at it.

...Well, aside from the LOTS of glances she gave it just a minute ago.

What should she do in the long hours? And the evening longer hours tomorrow, when she hadn't school again? She would have school on Monday, and that would fill up a long time of the day, but now what? She couldn't sleep, she couldn't watch TV, she couldn't read, she couldn't eat, and those were all her choices.

Holy crap. My English was clearly just draining out of the back of my head here.

Maybe the computer could work. She went to it, plugged it in, and turned it on, and it flashed an ERROR screen, like it almost always did. With a shriek of disgust, she threw it on the ground and walked home.

Overreacting much? And when did she leave the house?

She finally fell asleep about 10:30 and woke up at 5:00 the next morning. "No," she told herself firmly, "I can't wake up at five," and she tried to fall back asleep but nothing worked and so she rolled up in bed and slowly climbed out.

It's easier to climb out of bed once you've rolled up in it, you see.

She wondered idly if Dax would bring a breakfast casserole before, 

So many casseroles!

and no sooner had she wondered this than the bathroom door rang 

If you're looking for awesome renovation tips, I do NOT suggest installing a doorbell outside the bathroom.

and she ran downstairs to see if he was there. He was, according to the glass window in the plate front of the door. She opened the door, still in her pajamas and blue bathrobe, and told him to come on in. He didn't have a casserole, he had a steaming plate of waffles. "Just out of the toaster," he told her. "I cooked them last night but can heat them up in the toaster."

"That's very clever," she told him. "Put them on the table." 

Dax and his clever food-making tricks!

The two of them shared the syrup over the table, and Della ate three waffles. She felt so full when she cleared her plate she wondered if she was going to burst. Dax told her she ate three waffles and she said, yes, she knew. 

This is such riveting dialogue.

When time ran out, she simply put the table in the sink, and somehow that wasn't at all what I meant to type.

A little fourth wall breaking as even my subconscious realized this didn't make sense anymore.

She did the dishes again, putting the dishes back in the dishdrainer when she finished, and then she went into the living room to look over anything Dax had found.

He had managed to get a list of all the people in the city who were registered with one of the guns that made the bullet that Della's parents had been killed with. Della eagerly poured of the list, hoping she would recognize one or two of the names. She did, and maybe they were angry at her parents. She decided to call them up. Dax warned against it, but she wouldn't listen.

Dax has at least a LITTLE bit more sense than Della does.

The first people on the list were the Stevensons. Mom hardly knew them but Della knew they went to her school and that her dad and their dad were friends sometimes. She called them up and the first thing they said to her was, "Oh, yes, Della, sorry about your loss." 

"I have a question," she said. "Do you hate them?"

There was a pause, and then the person on the other end said, "Of course I don't. Or didn't. Why do you ask me such things?" 

And this is why this interrogation technique is not likely to work.

Della hung up and tried the next number she knew, the Jorgensons. Mr. Jorgenson had once worked for Dad at the factory, but then he had been fired. Maybe he held a grudge. But Mr. Jorgenson didn't even recognize her name once she said it, so unless he was lying - and he COULD be lying - she didn't think it was him either. 

Finally, she hung up the phone in disgust. "None of these people seem angry!" she said frustrated to Dax.

"That's good, though," Dax reminded her.

"Yes, much better, this way it will be harder for us to find the killers!"

Tune in next time to... well, we might actually unravel some of the mystery next time. Kind of. I can't remember when the next big plot point happens.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Top 5, Bottom 5: Horror

I hit a milestone, guys. I watched my 100th horror movie. I wouldn't say I'm a horror movie fan -- it's not like musicals, where I love the genre so much that I tend to enjoy even not-very-good movies -- but I can definitely appreciate a good horror movie and am happy I've now seen so many. This seemed like a good time for a Top 5, Bottom 5.

Top 5
1. Bug (2006, #54). This little psychological horror flick based on a play not only gives Michael Shannon a chance to be freaking awesome, but it definitely freaks me out. It builds its characters and its story brilliantly. Good writing, good acting, good movie.
2. Little Shop of Horrors (1986, #64). I do enjoy my dark musicals, and this is one of the best, although the horror aspect of it is not what elevates it to my second favorite. It just has such good songs!
3. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007, #100). I figured this one would be in my top five as well. I think this is a good adaptation of a Sondheim musical I didn't like for the longest time. Tim Burton embraces the campy over-the-topness of a murderous barber in a way that really works for me.
4. Psycho (1960, #118). While not my favorite Hitchcock movie, it is (obviously) my favorite one is that is straight-up horror. I love the characters it creates and its final reveal is still a fantastic moment.
5. Cloverfield (2008, #120). I need to rewatch this one. I was completely drawn into it the first time I saw it, though, and I still remember some of the scenes that freaked me out the most.

knife-slasher-horror.jpg from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 r. nial bradshaw, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Bottom 5
5. Devil Doll (1964, #1964). OK, fun fact, ALL the movies in my bottom 5 list were ones I first saw on MST3K. I don't remember much about this one, just that it wasn't very interesting to me.
4. Squirm (1976, #2172). I don't like worms, so even if this movie had been smart and interesting, I probably still wouldn't love it.
3. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966, #2173). Unlike some other so-bad-they're-good movies, this one is really hard to watch and laugh at on my own. Half the time it's mind-numbingly boring, half the time it's seriously disturbing -- and not in a good way.
2. Zombie Nightmare (1986, #2174). Another one I can't remember very much of... so it's hard to look at almost any other movie on my Flickchart and say, "Yeah, Zombie Nightmare was better."
1. Blood Waters of Dr. Z (1971, #2191). Six spots up from the very bottom of my chart, we have this horrifically blah movie that not even MST3K could make interesting.

What are your favorite horror movies?