Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

"But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Wonder. Spontaneous, awestruck, speechless wonder. At You. At Your name. At your creation, Your power. Your great wisdom and knowledge. Your reckless love. This is the truest form of worship. To stand wordless before Your throne, for no words will ever be enough, and let my spirit express what my mouth and mind cannot.

To hold You in my arms, to see the power, the love and wonder of the Most High beaming from the face of a tiny baby, my baby?

Mary pondered in her heart because she couldn't speak. She had no words for the miracle that she held to her heart. She held close, clung to the physical presence of her Lord and God because she was overwhelmed by His light and His love. She worshipped through her wonder.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Moon

Wow, two posts in one day!

I just saw New Moon and I have to say that the entire time I kept thinking, "Wow, this is like a real movie!" I'm not sure what that means, exactly. It's not as if Twilight wasn't a real movie. Ha. I made a funny.

But seriously, I am very pleasantly surprised. New Moon was my least favorite of the Twilight books, mostly because it seemed s-o-o-o-o-o l-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng. The first time I read it I kept skipping ahead every few pages going, "Okay, can something happen now, please?" But in retrospect, I think that the book isn't really that much longer than it needed to be. I think we're supposed to get a sense of time just dragging on bleakly and seeing nothing in the future to look forward to, because that's how Bella feels for most of the story.

But I digress. The movie is an extremely faithful adaptation. There were only a couple of things that really felt condensed or were noticeably reordered. Sometimes an adaptation's insistence on adhering that closely to the source material can spell disaster for the movie. In this case, though, despite a slight lack of story in some parts, the world of the film was so convincing that it didn't matter, at least not to me. And I think the screenwriter must have taken some night classes or something.

So, yeah, I liked the movie. Suck it, Ebert!

To read my post on the Twilight books, click here .


The Puritan settlers in Plymouth colony ate a meal of vegetables, bread and strange wild birds to celebrate their survival of a cold New England winter and to thank God for their health and freedom. Legend has it that each Pilgrim had only seven kernels of corn to eat, but even that was a bountiful feast, and they gave thanks for it.

We tell little children that Thanksgiving is about being thankful for the things we have, but it is so much more than that. The Puritans faced displacement from their homes, stormy seas, cold and inhospitable lands, the loss of loved ones, and still they thanked God for their blessings, even when it seemed they had none.

Yes, we should be thankful for our homes and families, even the conveniences and comforts of modern day life, but let's not overlook our true blessings: life, health, freedom, and the love of our Savior.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Superheroes Anonymous

--I wrote this as a one-act play for a creative writing class, but I always thought of it as an SNL sketch.


FLOYD, Captain Valor

PAM, The White Raven

GREGORY, one half of The Incredi-Twins

CRAIGORY, the other half of The Incredi-Twins

FELICIA, Probability Girl

BASIL, Superheroes Anonymous group leader

Scene: The basement of a community center. A table with a pitcher of water and a stack of paper cups stands to one side. The characters sit in a semicircle on metal folding chairs. The superheroes wear civilian clothing and stick-on name tags. Basil wears a black turtleneck and skinny jeans and has a soul patch. He reads from a clipboard.

BASIL: Okay, people. First of all I'd like to welcome all of you to the first ever meeting of Superheroes Anonymous. Welcome. Welcome, welcome! A little about myself. My name is Basil and I, just like all of you, used to be a superhero. I know it can be hard to adjust to normal life after you hang up the tights, but that's why I'm here to help! So now why don't we go around the circle and introduce ourselves. [Standing] Hi. I'm Basil, and I'm a superhero. [Sits back down; turns to Craigory on his right] Now, how about you?

CRAIGORY: [Clearing his throat] Uh, okay... do I have to stand up?

BASIL: If you feel it in your heart.

CRAIGORY: Oh, um, no... no, I don't feel it in my heart. [Basil shrugs and smiles] Okay, well, hi. I'm Craigory and I'm a superhero.

BASIL: Hi, Gregory.

CRAIGORY: No, not Gregory. Craig-ory. [Points to Gregory] That's Gregory. [Gregory gives a small wave] See, our mom, she wanted to name us Greg and Craig, because they rhyme. But Greg is a nickname for Gregory, right? So she figured Craig must be a nickname for Craigory, so that's what she named me.

PAM: Oh, you're brothers!

GREGORY: [nodding] Twins.

FELICIA: [jumping up] Is it hot in here?

[Felicia walks quickly to the water table and pours herself a cup, gulps it down, then pours another, which she drinks while the others continue talking.]

BASIL: Ah, twins. Why don't you tell us your story, Craigory?

CRAIGORY: Well, being twins was part of our identity--

BASIL: Of course, you feel defined by your twin, you feel you can't be your own person... classic child psychology.

CRAIGORY: No, I mean it was part of our super identity. We're the Incredi-Twins.

[Felicia pours herself yet another cup of water and gulps it loudly, still holding the pitcher in her other hand.]

PAM: [To Felicia] You okay, sweetie?

[Felicia nods.]

BASIL: Go on, Craigory.

CRAIGORY: Okay, well... About ten years ago we discovered our powers... well, we thought they were powers. Now it's more like a curse. See, I can move stuff with my mind, and Gregory can--

BASIL: Let's let Gregory tell his own story.

CRAIGORY: Oh, okay... so, uh, you know, everything was great for a long time. We saved a few cities, defeated a few super villains... everyone loved us. But then, about two years ago or so, I started... I don't know... changing.

BASIL: Changing? How?

CRAIGORY: I wasn't just using my power for good anymore. See, I used to only use it to move really heavy stuff that I couldn't pick up myself. But now I was using it to pick up the TV remote... to make the fridge door open and a beer come out and into my hand... I got lazy.

BASIL: [sagely] Ah, yes. The most common superhero pitfall.

CRAIGORY: So, yeah... that's why I'm here.

BASIL: You're in the right place, Craigory. Let's all give him a hand, shall we?

[Everyone claps. Felicia throws her cup away and, still holding the pitcher, returns to her seat. She drinks from the pitcher as the conversation continues.]

BASIL: [Looking at Floyd] Now, you've been awfully quiet, sir. Would you like to go next?

FLOYD: [Already sitting tall, he straightens even more] Oh, all right. Hello, everyone. My name is Floyd, and I am [heroic voice] Captain Valor!

[Everyone looks at Floyd meaningfully. He notices their expressions and drops his bravado just a smidge.]

FLOYD: Sorry. Old habits, you know.

BASIL: That's okay. Hi, Floyd. Well, of course, we all know who you are, but why don't you tell us your story, anyway?

FLOYD: Very well. I was born on a cold winter's eve to a young Romanian woman with a--

BASIL: You don't need to tell your whole story. Why don't you start with when you discovered your abilities.

FLOYD: Oh. All right. I was a young man of nineteen. I fell from a fourth-story window, and, as I saw the ground rushing toward me I had enough time to think, “I wish I could fly,” and the next thing I knew I was. Flying, I mean. So, of course, I had to find out if I had other powers. I can run extremely fast and I am very, very strong. Plus, I'm not too shabby at Jenga, but I don't think that's because of my powers.

BASIL: Mmhmm.

FLOYD: So, anyway, My experience was much like Gregory and Craigory's. I fought crime, I prevented disasters, and, most of all, I rescued people. That's what I became addicted to.

BASIL: Rescuing people?

FLOYD: [nods] Yes. It got to the point where I was rescuing maybe forty, fifty people a day. Sometimes they didn't even need rescuing, but I couldn't stop.

BASIL: Wow. Thank you Floyd. Let's give him a hand, everyone.

[Everyone starts to clap, but they are interrupted by a loud SCREAM offstage. Floyd, Pam and Felicia all jump to their feet. Gregory and Craigory look alarmed. Basil looks panicked, but not because of the scream; it's because he's lost everyone's attention. He tries to call them back.]

BASIL: Now, everyone, don't worry about th--

FLOYD: Someone is in danger! We must help them!

BASIL: No! Sit down!

[Gregory and Craigory move closer together and talk in hushed whispers to each other. Floyd begins to pace quickly. There are more screams, then a cry for help.]

SCREAMER 1: [offstage] HELP!!! OH NO!! WHAT IS THAT?

SCREAMER 2: [offstage] It's a MONSTER!! Run!!!!!

[More screaming.]

FLOYD: [stops pacing] Okay, everyone, what are your powers? We need to figure out how to defeat this monster, whatever it is!

PAM: I am the White Raven! I can become invisible and I can manipulate electrical charges.

FLOYD: Can you propel them in bolts? [Pam nods; Floyd turns to Felicia.] And you?

FELICIA: I'm Probability Girl.

[Everyone stops and looks at Felicia blankly for a second.]

FLOYD: And that means...?

BASIL: Everyone, please, we need to calm down. We've been making some breakthroughs, but if you all go and use your powers now we'll lose all that progress!

[Everyone ignores Basil.]

FELICIA: It means I can calculate probability, odds, fate. Sometimes I can even change it.

CRAIGORY: [in awe] Cool.

FELICIA: [blushing and giggling] You really think so?

BASIL: [standing] People, please! Have you completely forgotten the reason you are here? You're supposed to STOP BEING SUPERHEROES!

[They finally turn their attention to Basil, gaping. Floyd stares at him hard, a spark of recognition.]

FLOYD: Hey, I know who you are. I'd know that shout anywhere. You're my arch nemesis, the

Crude Cretin!

BASIL: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just--

PAM: Hey, you're right. It is him. I thought he died in that meteor storm a few years back.

FLOYD: So did we all. But that must have been part of his diabolical plan.

BASIL: We really need to get back to--

FELICIA: Yes! He wanted us to think he was dead!

GREGORY: So no one would bother him while he made the next step in his plan to rid the world of superheroes forever and take control!

[Basil stares at everyone, wide-eyed, panic rising.]

CRAIGORY: Superheroes Anonymous was just a ploy, a way to get us to stop using our powers!

FLOYD: [a horrified gasp] To stop rescuing people!

BASIL: All right, fine. You caught me. I am the Crude Cretin. You have divined my evil plot. But you can never stop me! The monster that rages outside will soon destroy the entire city, leaving nothing but blood and dust! You will never be able to defeat me! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

FLOYD: You disgust me.


FLOYD: Come on, everyone! White Raven, Probability Girl, Incredi-Twins! With our powers combined, we can rid the world of the Crude Cretin and his vile beast!

[The superheroes surround Basil, who shrinks down, collapsing on the floor.]

BASIL: Ahhhhh! Noooo! No! Nooo... [his head falls to the ground, then silence.]

FLOYD: Now, for the monster! Follow me!

[A battle cry as the superheroes rush offstage.]


Monday, October 19, 2009

Five Favorite Film Soundtracks

Hey, it's my 50th post! Yay...
I was thinking of doing something really special for this post, like maybe a retrospective look at all my previous posts, with excerpts of everyone's favorite memories of Watts Up with Rhonda, or even a slide show of pictures of me writing the posts. They would all just be me sitting at a computer typing or, those times I was "taking a break" from writing, browsing on Amazon, updating my Facebook status, or getting really angry at iTunes. It would be really fun, but I think I'll save that for my 100th post.

For this one I decided to name my five favorite movie soundtrack albums. There is quite a heated debate on Amazon discussion boards (and elsewhere, I'm sure) about the distinction between orchestral/score soundtracks and pop or compilation soundtracks, and whether or not they should be considered separate genres for retail purposes. Maybe they are separate genres, but for this list I decided to include both score soundtracks composed specifically for a film and song compilations. The bottom line is that both types of soundtracks are important elements in a film; they help set the mood and tone, and neither should be ignored. My favorites, in no particular order, are:

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
I still haven't seen the movie, but I love the music. Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O composed these folk-alternative- rock songs for the movie, making this soundtrack both score and song collection. The sound is homemade, exuberant and, fittingly, wild. With acoustic guitar and an eclectic collection of other instruments, humming, shouts and a choir of kids, the music celebrates the joy and wildness of childhood and makes a perfect companion for Sendak's book.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Before this film came out, I was a little nervous. As an avid Austen fan, I worried that the movie would get everything wrong. Just one of the things it got incredibly right, however, was the music. The use of piano for much of Dario Marianelli's score was inspired by the fact that Elizabeth Bennet plays the piano, though not nearly as well as Jean-Yves Thibaudet. His talent is put to especially good use for "Liz On Top of the World," a theme that is echoed very effectively in "Your Hands Are Cold." There are pieces that don't use piano, too. I especially love "Meryton Town Hall," the song that is played at the Meryton Assembly near the beginning of the movie, for its slight imperfections that make it all the more real and believable as the performance of amateur musicians.

Juno (2007)
Listening to this collection of indie and folk rock songs is almost as good as watching the movie again. With both contributions from The Moldy Peaches' Kimya Dawson written especially for the film, and rock classics from the likes of The Kinks, Buddy Holly and Mott the Hoople, the album is a perfect reflection of Juno's world. My favorite tracks are Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters' "Superstar" and Cat Power's beautifully simple "Sea Of Love."

Marie Antoinette (2006)
Whoever heard of using 1980s punk and new wave rock music for a movie that takes place in the 1780s? It totally works, though! One of my favorite moments in the film is a scene at a ball with the dancing set to Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden." When the song ends the dancers stop and applaud. Brilliant. (The Vivaldi concerto isn't too shabby, either.)

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Before Bollywood met Hollywood (Bride & Prejudice), Bollywood met London. This bilingual soundtrack features a few tracks by Indian artists like Bally Sagoo and Bina Mistry (Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot" in Punjab!), the Blondie classic "Atomic," and some good songs by British artists (such as "a lit-ull band called Texas!"). Yes, there's a Victoria Beckham song on here, but I just skip that one! Oh, and Tito Beltran sings "Nessun Dorma." Not quite Pavoratti, but okay.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

School and Such

Classes have been in session for a week now, and I've gotta say: kinda easy. I mean, seriously. I could teach these classes. And they're so boring. I doze off like five minutes in. I'm not even learning anything. I hate Shakespeare, I hate screenwriting, and, let's face it, learning how to be a Writing Center tutor is pretty pointless. (You may choose whether or not to take me seriously.)

I also have a new guilty pleasure: LOL Cats. I like the ones with real people, though. I even made a few.
Don't worry. This doesn't cut in to my TV watching time. I watched my latest Netflix selection, disc 2 of the Complete Series DVD of My So-Called Life, this afternoon. I really wish that those plaid flannel empire waist dresses would come back in style. They look so comfy. And what's Jared Leto up to these days? I mean, besides his band's song being in Rock Band, because whose isn't?

Today is Tuesday, and I don't have any regular Tuesday shows, so maybe I'll read Twelfth Night for the 80 millionth time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

I will never be a photographer, but I was playing with the camera on my phone and some mirrors and I thought these turned out kind of neat.

"Ah! My beauty, past compare! These jewels bright I wear!"

"Through the Looking Glass"

"Portrait of a Lady"

"When Diet Dr. Pepper Attacks"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Got Loud

And what did I learn?

1. Jimmy Page, by his own admission, cannot sing.

2. The Edge always wears a hat. Always.

3. Jack White isn't British? (I know.)

4. Though I doubt I will ever be as passionate about the guitar as those three dudes are, I am passionate about creativity and self-expression. As Page said, every work of art comes from a creative spark. And that's what every twelve-year-old who hears Led for the first time and signs up for guitar lessons the next day, and every girl who writes a blog, is striving for.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ghost Stories

“And so, every year, on the anniversary of her death, Fanny Farnham's ghost wanders through the woods near the house where she lived, wearing only her nightgown, and searching for her lost love.” Jenny concluded her tale in a hushed, dramatic whisper, while Sarah and Lily gazed at her wide-eyed with rapt attention, their chins resting in their hands and their elbows on their knees. The three girls formed a close circle in the tiny tent in Jenny's backyard.
“Wow,” breathed Lily after a second. “That's the most romantic thing I've ever heard.”
“Romantic!” scoffed Sarah. “That's horrible! And kinda creepy.” She flopped onto her stomach, stretching out on top of her Mulan sleeping bag and pulling another Red Vine from the tub in the middle of the tent floor. “Even though I don't believe in ghosts.”
Jenny took a swig from her root beer. Her throat was parched after that long story. She gulped half the can in one swallow, let out a respectable belch, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Okay,” she said, “one of you guys has to tell a ghost story now.”
“I don't know any,” claimed Lily, nibbling on a Red Vine and examining the sloppy nail polish job Jenny had given her an hour before.
“Just make something up,” Jenny encouraged.
Sarah sat up quickly. “I know!” she cried. “Let's play...” She paused for effect. “Truth or Dare!”
The other two girls' eyes gleamed. They had been introduced to the game at camp earlier in the summer by some older girls, and still thought of it as scandalously sophisticated.
“Okay,” they giggled, instinctively scooting closer together around the tub of Red Vines and the flashlight balanced on its end so that it cast its light in a cone toward the tent's ceiling.
“I'll go first,” said Jenny. “Lily. Truth or dare?”
Lily narrowed her eyes and scrunched her mouth up, then nodded. “Truth,” she decided.
Sarah snickered. “Chicken.” Lily stuck out her tongue, then turned her attention to Jenny, who wore a wicked grin.
“Okay,” Jenny said. “Did you kiss Kevin Plasky on the tire swing on the last day of school?”
Lily's pale face turned bright red before she covered it with her hands. “You did, didn't you!” cried Sarah.
Lily looked up. “Did you see?”
Jenny nodded. “He's a sixth-grader! Are you his girlfriend?”
Lily shook her head. “No! He's so stupid! And gross.”
“Then why did you kiss him?” Sarah wondered.
Lily shook her head again. “I dunno. Isn't it my turn now?”
“Oh, come on!” squealed Jenny. “You have to tell us!”
With a deep sigh, Lily shrugged and said, “I really don't know, you guys. I guess I just felt like it. Can I puh-leeeeease take my turn now?”
Jenny and Sarah looked at each other and wordlessly agreed to take pity. Sarah nodded. “Fine,” said Jenny.
“Okay,” began Lily, immediately perking up. “Sarah. Truth or dare?”
“Well,” said Sarah, “I'm not a chicken, like some people, so dare.”
Lily giggled and rubbed her palms together. “I dare you to... go into the woods, take off your panties, and hang them on a tree!”
Jenny burst out laughing. “That's such a good one!”
“All right,” said Sarah nonchalantly, standing and picking her way to the tent door. Jenny and Lily followed her outside, and they stood on the cool grass in their pajamas and bare feet, looking toward the woods that grew right up to the edge of the lawn.
“This is the easiest dare ever,” Sarah boasted, and started toward the trees.
The moon was almost full, the late summer sky clear and dark and spangled with glittering stars.
Suddenly, a sharp, chilly gust of wind tore through the still, warm air, whipping the girls' hair back and stinging their cheeks like the dead of winter. Just one snap, and it was gone.
Sarah halted mid-stride and turned to the other two girls, fear written across her face. “What... was that?”
“Probably Fanny,” Jenny muttered.
Lily looked at her sharply. “What?”
“Uh...” Jenny stuttered. “I forgot to tell you guys. Um, remember Fanny Farnham?” Lily and Sarah nodded. “Well,” gesturing toward the house behind her, Jenny continued, “this was her house.”
“What!” Lily repeated, shrieking this time.
“Yeah.” Jenny went on. “And, um, she was murdered... exactly eighty-seven years ago tonight.” Lily let out a yelp and darted back into the tent, then peeked her head out, eyes wide.
Sarah leveled her gaze at Jenny, a cocky smile playing about her lips. “I don't care. Ghost stories aren't even real. I'll still do it.” She turned on her heel and stalked determinedly to the edge of the woods, where she paused for second, then stepped between the trees.
Jenny crawled into the tent beside Lily. Together, they watched Sarah as she went a few feet into the forest, then reached beneath the hem of her night shirt and pulled her underpants down to her knees. She stepped out of them, first the right foot, then the left, and picked them up with one finger.
Just after she had draped the panties over a nearby low branch, another icy breath of wind ripped through the night, making the girls scream. Sarah sprinted back to the tent and dove head-first through the small opening, then collapsed into uncontrollable giggles.
“Why are you laughing?” demanded Lily, though she couldn't help smiling herself. Sarah shook her head, tears streaming from her eyes as she clutched her stomach.
Jenny let out a short chuckle. “Your face was so funny, Sarah! You've never run that fast in your life!” All Sarah could do was nod in response.
Finally, giddy from consuming large quantities of sugar and being scared silly, the girls laughed themselves to sleep. Their dreams were varied.
Lily dreamed of Kevin Plasky, kissing her on the tire swing. And on the tether ball court. And behind the gym. And at a school dance, in high school, both of them incredibly grown-up. He wore a crisp tuxedo, and she wore the perfect dress, which looked remarkably like Cinderella's ball gown from the Disney film. She sighed contentedly in her sleep.
Jenny dreamed that she was a famous writer, which entitled her to a lifetime supply of Red Vines and root beer. She, too, let out a happy sigh as she slept.
Sarah dreamed about a young woman in an old-fashioned nightgown, her hair long and curly down her back. The woman seemed to be looking for something. She searched and searched, then stopped short next to a tree and plucked a piece of cloth from one of its branches. She smiled eerily.
Sarah woke with a start, her breathing labored. She looked around the tent, saw her friends sleeping, and let out a relieved sigh. She quickly rejoined them in sleep. There were no more wintry breezes to disturb their slumber.
The next morning the girls awoke to a glorious day. The bright sunshine and birdsong made their giddy terror of the night before seem ridiculous. They went inside, where Jenny's mother made them blueberry pancakes and told them to clean up their tent and sleeping bags after breakfast. As they clumsily bundled the nylon into an impossibly small bag, they laughed again at their silliness.
“I can't believe we were so scared!” sighed Jenny.
“I know,” agreed Lily. “Ghost stories aren't even real!”
“I told you,” Sarah chided. “I wasn't scared at all.” She didn't tell the other girls about her dream.
Jenny laughed. “You were, too! I saw your face! Hey, are your panties still out in the woods?”
“Oh, yeah,” said Sarah, thinking for a minute. But, when she went back to retrieve her underwear, searching all around the tree she had hung them from, they were nowhere to be found.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


After returning from the longest journeys, we are most aware of being home.


On the yellow-painted edge of the concrete sidewalk, I lean into the moistened breeze. The summer is still young, and the sun hasn't yet pierced through the thick blanket of clouds for Seattle's standard two months of warmth. The air current whips my hair back, blowing it into tangles, and pricks tears at the corners of my eyes. Though gray and wet, it is a beautiful day.


Five hours and 1700 miles earlier, I hug my parents and step into the security line, a shuffling, anonymous crowd occupied with removing shoes and jackets and quart-sized zip lock bags of toiletries- no more than 3 oz. bottles. Boarding pass and I.D. Laptops taken out of bags. Wait behind the yellow line, then walk through the metal detector.

I'm flying stand-by with no checked bags, which means I could be a terrorist, so I'm selected for further security procedures, says the guard.

“Do I win something?” I ask brightly.

“How about a full-body search?” At least he has a sense of humor, if a slightly creepy one.

Surprise! I'm not concealing a firearm on my person, or a box-cutter. There is nothing in my small carry-on that could be used as a weapon without getting really creative. Nail clippers? Maybe, but we'll let it slide. But that mascara needs to go in your zip lock bag.

So, apparently I'm not a hijacker. I am a twenty-one-year-old girl traveling alone for the first time in my life on a flight from Dallas to Seattle. I would like to stay a few more days, as my parents are doing, but I have to return to my job.

I have just been to my grandfather's funeral.


August, 1997: I am ten years old. I am sitting on a bench in the shoe department at the Bon Marche. My grandparents sit on the bench across from mine, watching me try on shoes. Grandma and Papa have taken me shopping for school. I'm starting fifth grade, and I have to have the right shoes.

I finish tying the laces on the plain white sneakers, then stand and walk around the bench. “Are they comfortable?” Grandma asks. She expertly presses down on my toes, feeling how much room my feet have to grow. “Do they fit?”

“They're okay. Can I try these on now?” I pull the lid from another box, revealing a more flashy pair of blue and silver basketball shoes. They cost twice as much as the white ones.

My grandma sighs. “Yes, you may try them on. But I think these white ones would work much better for you.”

I kick off the white sneakers and slip my feet into the basketball shoes, pulling the laces tight and tying them bunny-ear style. I bounce out of my seat and skip around the benches. “I love these!”

My grandpa smiles, chuckling at my delight. But, despite my adoration for these incredible shoes, my grandma explains to me that the white sneakers are more practical and economical. I have to admit that she's right.


June, 2008: I am twenty-one years old. I lie sleepless on a bed of air, listening to the sounds of the warm Texas night. I have kicked off the sheet. My head rests on a small corner of the pillow, letting the breeze from the open window brush my face.

My mind is adrift, aimless, as thoughts, memories, dreams skim across the surface, then turn to vapor, never fully realized.

From the dark and silent sea, something tells me to go to my grandmother's room, to climb into her bed as if I am a six-year-old waking up from a nightmare. I ignore the voice, though, because I am not sure that I've really heard it. I am soon asleep.

The next morning Grandma tells me that when she awoke, the covers on the other side of her bed were turned back. And I wonder: if I had listened to the voice, would I have seen him?

Nostalgia shows us what we wish the world was like.


August, 1997: Later, after our shopping is done, I am sitting in the leather back seat of my grandparents' car, surrounded by a new wardrobe in plastic bags. I pull the smooth cardboard shoe box out of its bag and flip the lid.

“What?” I cry. Lying inside the box are my beautiful blue and silver shoes. “I thought I was getting the white ones!”

Papa turns to me from the front passenger seat and looks at the shoes. “Oh, how did that happen?” I almost miss his wink as I pull the shoes onto my feet.


As I pull my shoes onto my feet, canvas flats with black and purple stripes, after passing successfully through security at the Dallas airport, I glance at my boarding pass and the signs around me, determining which direction I need to walk. I straighten and heave my bag up, putting the strap over my shoulder, and head toward my gate. I am pleased to find a Starbucks not 50 feet away.

I buy a grande iced white chocolate mocha, then settle into a cloth and metal chair to wait out the hour until my plane boards. I read a science fiction novel, I solve the Sudoku puzzle in an abandoned newspaper, I people-watch.

A family with five kids under seven gaggles by. A couple in their 60s with the kind of suitcases that have wheels. Two young men dressed in camouflage head to foot, brownish-green packs slung over their shoulders.


My grandfather was a Private in the United States Army. He served a year before his honorable discharge, before he even met my grandmother. He never fought in any battles, but he did shake hands with Elvis Presley.

He was interred in the Dallas-Ft. Worth National Cemetery on a beautiful day in June, given a military burial. Two officers saluted my family as we stepped into the gazebo where my grandfather's casket rested. With ceremony, while the bugler played “Taps,” they folded an American flag and presented it to my grandmother. She accepted it, saying, “God bless you.”


December, 2008: I am twenty-one years old. It is the day after Christmas, the first Christmas that I haven't heard my grandfather read the story of Christ's birth aloud to my family, sitting in silent awe, sacred reflection on a Winter night. We were all children on Christmas Eve, but not anymore.

I stand with my parents, my brother, my grandmother, my aunt and my uncle at my grandfather's grave in the Dallas-Ft. Worth National Cemetery. A poinsettia plant, vibrant red against the dull winter gray, has been placed in front of his headstone, beneath the dates:

1 September, 1934 – 23 June, 2008

This place, where thousands have been laid to rest, represents the grandfather I never knew, the soldier. The grandfather of my childhood was a kind and gentle man, with never a harsh word for anyone, always a smile.

My grandmother stands beside me, puts her arm around my shoulders. “I love you,” she says.

I respond, “I love you, too,” and I pray that I have inherited my grandfather's best qualities in addition to his name.


The flight attendant calls my name. I am the last stand-by passenger to board; I have gotten the last seat available on the plane, but there are still three more people waiting at the gate. I sit in the middle seat of a three-seat row. No window, no aisle, just four-and-a-half hours of my elbows pressed to my sides.

I read some more, I watch a movie on my brother's PSP, I ask the flight attendant for a ginger ale, I even sleep a bit. Then we are entering the familiar cloud cover of the Pacific Northwest, a welcome respite from the hot Texas sunshine.


July, 1991: I am four years old. It is the end of a beautiful day. The sun is setting through the leaves of the Tana Tree, the red maple in my grandparents' front yard in Kent, Washington. The tree that was planted the year I was born.

I am sitting on the front porch in Grandma's lap, wearing my favorite pink jelly shoes. Papa sits across from us, telling me the story of the Tana Tree, named for my cousin who lives in Germany and is only three months younger than I. His voice rumbles pleasantly, quietly, with a slight hint of the Arkansas country farm where he was born.

It is the same voice I hear reading the Gospel of Luke on Christmas Eve: “And it came to pass, in the days of Caesar Augustus...”

It is the same voice I hear giving the blessing for Thanksgiving dinner: “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your love...”

It is the same voice I hear on a warm Texas night, with the breeze from an open window brushing my face.

Nostalgia shows us what we wish the world was like.


We land, a bit bumpily, and I pull out my phone to call a friend of my mother's I've known my entire life, and whose daughter is my best friend. She's my ride home.

On the yellow-painted edge of the concrete sidewalk outside baggage claim, she enfolds me in a hug, holding me like a child for a moment. Then she lets go and glances down at my feet.

“I love your shoes!” she exclaims.

And then, for the first time since a fateful phone call from Dallas a week before, I smile into the beautiful day, and I am home again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Repetitive and Redundant

Writers love to write about writing. Virginia Woolf did it, Strunk and White did it, you know Stephen King did it. Of course most of the people who read these books about writing are other writers. Writers read about writing, and then write about reading about writing, and then readers read that and maybe write some more about it. As cyclical and redundant as this seems, it kind of makes sense. After all, if there's one lesson to be found in both Little Women and Orange County, it's to write what you know. Writers know about... writing. So that's what they write about.

I have to admit that I'm a bit guilty of this myself. I mean, I'm doing it right now. Plus, a couple of posts down from this one there's a poem about a poet. I've written several other poems about the actual process of writing poems, too. (Naturally, no one has read these.) I also recently wrote a song about song writing; at least, that's what it started out being about, but by the time I finished I was quoting a Psalm and singing a U2 song.

When I think that the songs have all been written
And there's nothing more, nothing left to say
You come and take my heart, my soul, my voice, my rhythm
And I hear a new melody begin to play

And I am waiting
Waiting on You
To make my broken
Melody new
You are everything
Borrowed and blue
Every song I sing
You make me new

Of the million songs that praise your lovingkindness
All of them together couldn't say enough
But I give You one more voice, one soul, one song, one promise
'Cause my heart has been transformed by Your love

I will sing, sing a new song (repeat)

In the fortieth Psalm King David wrote: "I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit, out of the miry clay. He set my feet upon the rock and made my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." David wrote about writing, too. But his writings about the song writing process don't cover word choice or verb tense or, since music is a form of poetry, meter and rhyme. He wrote about the experience that the song came from. The only time he even mentions the actual song, in fact, he says that it's not even his; it's from God.

When I write, whether it's a song or a poem or a blog post, I usually don't think about the process; I just let the words flow. Consequently, I've always been perplexed when writers attempt to verbalize a thinking process that's different for everyone. (Isn't it odd that I can't really verbalize HOW I verbalize?) In that way, if in no other way, I'm a little bit like King David: my focus is on the experience that inspires the writing. And, as I realize now, like every good thing, every word and every song is from God.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

No More Remakes!

It really, really bothers me when someone calls a movie that's based on a book a "remake" of another movie based on the same book. And then when they call the earlier movie version the "original." I've heard people do this a lot, especially with Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The latter doesn't even have the same title as the other movie based on that book! (The novel's title has "Charlie" by the way, not "Willy Wonka.") These movies, and dozens of others, are not based on any films; they are based NOVELS! So, therefore, they are not remakes, but new adaptations of those novels.

That's my rant. Good night.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dear John

A fruitless hope is falling in love with

Someone who's already dead.

I don't recommend it.

To be divided by centuries is

Far worse than being star-crossed.

I sat on a hard metal stool

Between book shelves, a worn

And tattered volume on my knees.

Its pages were rough between

My fingers, its scent of memory.

The words, full of sweet

Somethings, written to a lover

I imagined was me (fair creature

Of an hour). Darling Girl

Should be my name.

If only I could be married

To a poem!

The final letter, from Rome,

In November, before the magic

Hand of chance closed forever

Your gloom-pleased eyes,

Made me cry, and think.

Dear John, I love you, but

It will never work.

Before I cease to be, I will

Dry out many ballpoint pens, whether

My words fill high-piled, worn

And tattered books

Or not.

(This is about John Keats, in case you couldn't tell.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Exquisite Corpse

Yesterday in my creative writing class we took a break from form poetry and dove into some French existentialism. We did a class activity called the "Exquisite Corpse" (don't ask me why it's called that; those French are crazy) in which we sat in a circle, each person with a piece of paper. Everyone would write a line of poetry, putting the last word of the line on the next line. Then we folded the paper so that only that last word was visible and passed it to the person next to us, who then had to use that word as the first word of the next line. (It sounds more complicated than it is.) My professor gave us prompts for each line, like "modify a noun using an unexpected adjective." It was fun. At the end, when everyone had their original papers back, we read the poems out loud and shook with riotous laughter. Mine, which I titled "Lady Macbeth, Uncut," is as follows:

Hope is the first snowflake of winter is the hottest season of the year that smells like nails on a chalkboard sounds like Steve Erwin in the jungle birds chirp when I cry at home is the best place to experience warm sunshine smile waiting to punch me in the mouth of Katty, which is clean to talk with springtime drawing near, fishermen are out gardening their gardens with buckets and hoes ga nihogonai, totemo utsukashi, but her Japanese had fallen out of use since high school hadn't done her well, off to college she will go, just go! walk into that fluffy door like a past time never let the sun rise again more work in less time is porous and deserves our contempt is what the chair felt when it yelled, get out! damned spot, it looks like mud

It sort of reminds me of Jack Kerouac, except it's not nearly as pretentious. Here's another poem I wrote for creative writing, one of those form poems we needed a break from. This form is called a villanelle, and it's sort of complicated to explain how the form works, but I don't think you really need to know how it works. The title, "Villain Nell," is a pun on the name of the form.

Villain Nell was just misunderstood
She didn't want to be so very bad
The thing she wanted most was to be good

She'd be a superhero if she could
But didn't want to disappoint her dad
Villain Nell was just misunderstood

She only did what anybody would
She wasn't really trying to be bad
The thing she wanted most was to be good

So when she led a man into the wood
To leave him there, she wasn't very glad
Villain Nell was just misunderstood

And when the forest floor was red with blood
Villain Nell was happy but a tad!
The thing she wanted most was to be good

So Villain Nell did everything she could
To be heroic, but it made her sad
Villain Nell was just misunderstood
The thing she wanted most was to be good

I know, it's kind of dark, but she's a villain!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rhonda's Essential Guide to Girl Power (this has nothing to do with the Spice Girls)

This is basically my version of Oprah's Favorite Things. I compiled a list of what my favorite things to read, watch, listen to, wear, and create with were over the past month or so and realized that many of them are quite feminine in nature (which makes sense in the "wear" category, I suppose). So put on a tiara and revel in the girliness!
Memoir- Someday My Prince Will Come (Jerramy Fine)
Subtitled "The True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess," this story is a charming, clever (at the risk of being cliche) modern-day fairy tale. Fine's relentless anglophilia and obsession with royalty, even as an adult, made my childhood fascination with Cinderella and Marie Antoinette, which still surfaces from time to time and I've always felt a bit self-conscious about, seem downright normal.

Psychology- Spinning Straw into Gold (Joan Gould)
Continuing in the fairy tale theme, Gould shows "what fairy tales reveal about the transformations in a woman's life." She discusses just about every fairy tale you've ever heard of, and a few you probably haven't, and explains how the ancient cultures that these stories originated from used them to illuminate the stages of human life (for both genders, but the focus in the book is on female life stages).

Poetry- Sonnets from the Portuguese (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
A collection of forty-four sonnets written to her husband, Robert (yeah, Robert Browning; yes, the Robert Browning), this wasn't originally written in Portuguese. It's a clever title, though, isn't it? Sonnets contains one of the most famous poems in the English language: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."

Novel- Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier)
Alfred Hitchcock directed the film version of this 1938 novel, which was the perfect choice for the suspenseful psychological drama. The narrator is never given a first name, but it is mentioned that her name is "lovely and unusual," so, while I haven't done the research to know if there is a real scholarly debate about it, I've decided the narrator's name must be Daphne.

Magazine- April 2009 Marie Claire
There's a feature in the latest issue titled "We'll Show You Who's Funny" that's about women in comedy. Associate editor Yael Kohen interviewed a bevy of female comedy greats and a couple of up-and-comers, including Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Janeane Garofalo, Suzanne Somers, Lisa Kudrow, and, my favorite, Kristen Wiig from SNL (plus there were a few that I'm not the biggest fan of, like Margaret Cho and Roseanne Barr, but, hey, they're doing their thing).

Pop/Rock- Wild Hope (Mandy Moore)
Britney? Christina? Jessica? Who? This is Moore's first grown-up album, with more of a singer-songwriter/indie feel than her bubblegum debut ten years ago. It's legit. And I have to admit that a good portion of my love for this album belongs to the gorgeous cover art, with its warm lighting, outdoor settings and vintage-bohemian style.

Pop/R&B- Rockferry (Duffy)
The big hit from this album was last summer's "Mercy," a funk-infused, infectious pop song. The rest of the record is a little different, a little mellower, a little more soulful, and really fun to sing with, belting it at the top of your lungs!

Classic blues- Billie's Best (Billie Holiday)
Billie was the best. Even though it's hard not to imagine her singing the Oscar Meyer Bologna song since reading David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day, her voice and her songs still hold up.

Podcast- "Twilight Series Theories" (Kallie and Kassie)
An addictive podcast in which a Texan sister duo discusses Stephenie Meyer's addictive book series. I "tried out" several Twilight-focused podcasts before I narrowed it down to this one. Maybe because they're sisters, or maybe because their personalities are so clearly different from each other's, or both, the hosts have a dynamic that just works. Plus, they're very listener-oriented; most of the show is dedicated to reading and discussing listener feedback to the question of the week. Did I mention it's addictive? (To read my thoughts on Twilight, click here .)

Reality series- Running in Heels (Style Network)
This is kind of like a smarter, less annoying and vapid version of The City. It follows three editing interns at Marie Claire magazine. There have only been two episodes so far, but I've already been sucked in.

Classic musical- My Fair Lady (1964)
Audrey Hepburn couldn't sing worth beans, but she's so delightful!

"Teen" mystery series- Veronica Mars (UPN/CW)
I own all three seasons of this brilliant show on DVD, and lately my roommate has been watching them for the first time. If I, you know, just happen to be in the living room or something and she's watching that great episode with the 80s dance where Veronica dresses like Madonna and Meg wears that horrid dress from Pretty in Pink, or the one where the dead guy washes up on the beach and he has Veronica's name written on his hand (creepy!), or any of the episodes with Alyson Hannigan (love her!), I might just casually sink down onto the futon and watch for awhile.

Essential female buddy comedy- Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion (1997)
Me too! Now, ordinarily when you make glue you need to thermoset your resin. And then, you add in a poxide, which is really just a fancy-schmancy word for any simple unoxygenated adhesive, right? Well, I thought, maybe, just maybe, you could increase the viscocity by adding a carbon derviative during the emulsification process. It turns out, I was right.

Nail polish- "Broadway Burgundy" Long-wearing Nail Enamel (New York Color)
Scent- "Sheer Freesia" Body Splash (Bath & Body Works)
Sunglasses- Over-size Cat Eyes (Forever 21)
Bag- "Polka Dots" Messenger Bag (Olive N Figs)
Sneakers- Low-top Chuck Taylor All-Stars (Converse)

Software- Celtx
Notebook- Leather Cover Ruled Reporter (Moleskine)
Decor- Peel-and-Stick Wall Decals (WallPops)
Pencils- Ticonderoga No. 2 Soft Pencils (Dixon)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Become My Fan on Facebook!

Here is a link to my "celebrity" Facebook page. (Click the title of this post.) Now, I know what you're thinking: "But Rhonda, you're not a celebrity. You don't even have your own reality show on E! or a crazy-rich geezer husband with possible ties to the Mafia." This is true, but I am trying to get more people to read my writing. This seemed like a good way to do it. So just click the link, would ya? If you're already logged in to Facebook it will take you right to my page. If you're not, it will take you to the log in page, and then to my writer profile. Click "Become a fan" and write something on my wall! Thanks!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Random Updates

So, it's been awhile since I posted anything. I'm not feeling particularly creative at the moment, but I do have three topics of interest, completely unrelated to one another, that I will address.

(1) I've been listening to
No Line on the Horizon pretty much nonstop since my C
D copy came yesterday. I wanted it in CD format because I want to stick it to iTunes, and I'm kind of an old-fashioned girl. My favorite songs right now are "Magnificent" and "Unknown Caller." "Magnificent" has an awesome bass line, comparable to any from War (which has the best bass lines: "New Year's Day," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," etc.), in my opinion. And that guitar solo on "Unknown Caller"? There are no words.

(2) I wrote a sonnet for an assignment in my poetry class. The
point of the assignment was to show us how hard it is to write iambic pentameter, or some such nonsense. Not to brag or anything, but I got a perfect score. Here it is:

I need the consolation of poetry,
For when I am distressed I lack the words

To render true my sensibility;

My efforts at such times effect absurd.

Though I do often wonder whether art

Is more disposed to famish than to feed

That growing flow'r of goodness in the heart

That drinks its fill of words, so lacks the need.

And when my mind cannot attune the two,

This virtue and this creativity,

I cannot help but wonder what I'd do

If either quality belonged to me!

But when the two are joined, a wonder's wrought,

For then a poem is born, the bloom long-sought.

(3) I have another article being printed in the Ellensburg Daily Record. I don't know exactly what day they're running it, but it will be before Tuesday. I'll check it every day and see. It's a story on this artist named David Garibaldi who's coming to Central to do this show where he paints six-foot portraits in just a few minutes, right there on stage. I actually got to interview him over the phone a couple days ago for the article. For any of my readers that are interested I'll try to get a copy of the paper (that'll be, what, three copies?).

Here's a link to the press release (which I also wrote) on the Daily Record's website.

This is just the press release, not the actual story.The story is much more interesting.

So that's the biggest news in my life right now. Until next time, over.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Five Cover Songs That Are As Good As, If Not Better Than, The Originals

Cover songs: We've all heard them. Sometimes they're good, if unoriginal, copies of songs that were hits in their time. Sometimes they're heinous musical crimes that should be locked up in a vault and thrown to the bottom of the ocean. But every once in awhile an artist records a cover of another artist's song that is not only respectful of the original, but even presents something new musically. Here are five of my favorites.

"Sunday Bloody Sunday"
Original Artist: U2 (1983)
Cover Artist: Pillar (2004)
It might be bordering on blasphemy (against the gods of Rock) to say that any artist could play a U2 song better than U2, but Pillar comes pretty close. With a harder, more distorted guitar-heavy sound and less of a militaristic feel to the rhythm, Pillar's changes to the rock classic are subtle, but just different enough that the song is definitely their own. And the best part? The last verse, with the lyrics "And we've only just begun/ to claim the victory that Jesus won" sung with a lot more emphasis than in the original.

Original Artist: Cat Stevens (1971)
Cover Artist: Mandy Moore (2003)
Moore did a whole album of cover songs in 2003, and they were all pretty good, but this one was my favorite. She keeps the folk song/lullaby quality of Stevens's version, but elaborates on his guitar themes with a strings and drums orchestral build-up. Her powerful-yet-sweet voice is the more noticeable difference from the original, though, and its purity offers a nice contrast to the more complex accompaniment.

Original Artist: Britney Spears (2003)
Cover Artist: Yael Naim (2007)
Remember the video for the Spears version? It was like Alias! It's still the only Britney Spears song I have ever liked, say what you will about her newest album. Naim, best known for her 2008 break-out hit "New Soul," uses her ethereal vocals and minimalist instrumentation to turn the bouncy pop song into a bittersweet love ballad.

"High and Dry"
Original Artist: Radiohead (1995)
Cover Artist: Jamie Cullum (2004)
A great rock song translated flawlessly into a great jazz song. There's really nothing more to say.

"Your Song"
Original Artist: Elton John (1970)
Cover Artist: Ewan McGregor (2001)
This is from this little movie that came out in 2001. I don't know if you've heard of it, but it's called Moulin Rouge. It's pretty awesome. The song, like the movie, is totally over-the-top, turning Elton John's simple little love anthem into a Big Musical Number, complete with back-up vocals, a full orchestra and band, dramatic crescendoes and decrescendoes and an opera singer (Alessandro Safina). The biggest, and most pleasant, surprise is McGregor's voice; who knew Obi-Wan Kenobi could sing? (And, yes, Dad, he rides a mean BMW.)


And, here are just a couple of the worst cover songs (those ones that should be locked in a vault and thrown to the bottom of the ocean- except I would feel bad for the fish that had to listen to them):
-"I Want Candy"- Aaron Carter
-"Our Lips Are Sealed"- Hilary and Haley Duff
-"I Love Rock 'N Roll"- Britney Spears
-"All Summer Long"- Kid Rock (technically not a cover, but it samples "Sweet Home Alabama." Dude, you don't mess with Skynyrd.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday: the Best Night on Television?

I have previously awarded this title to Monday, what with How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Privileged (CW), and now the surprisingly addictive True Beauty (ABC; although I shouldn't be surprised, since it is a Banks/Kutcher production). But now I have reason to believe that Fridays, traditionally the Black Hole of TV nights where good shows go to die (the brilliant Firefly, the at least fresh and charming Ex-List), will now be the best night of the week, TV-wise. Here's why:

8:00- Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles (FOX). I've missed a lot of the second season so far because it was on Mondays, the second half of its time slot being the same as HIMYM. But the more-than-adequate first season has me convinced that I won't be disappointed. Plus, the upcoming release of the new movie Terminator: Salvation could very well give the ratings a much-needed boost.

9:00- Dollhouse (FOX). Created by Joss Whedon (Buffy; Firefly) and starring Eliza Dushku (Buffy; Tru Calling), this show seems like a dream come true. In a not-so-distant future, an underground, illegal operation hires people to have their memories erased, then "uploads" new memories into their brains for them to perform different jobs (hostage negotiator, escort, clown at a kid's birthday party, anything) for clients. It could have potential. If it can make it past the FOX curse, then its Feb. 13 series premiere could signify the beginning of an era.

10:00- Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi Network). The best frakkin' show on TV, if you ask me. The final half of its final season starts next Friday, Jan. 16. Who is the final cylon? What happened to Earth? Are the Lords of Kobol real? Will Hera and Nicky, the Hybrid kids, have any significance? Will Starbuck and Apollo finally get together for good (even though Anders is a good guy, for a cylon)? All burning questions that had better be answered, or I'm going to be writing some very stern letters.

Sorry to get all Entertainment Weekly on you, but it looks like I'm going to be one of those nerds who stays at home every Friday night. (Oh, wait, I already am... but at least now I'll have something better to watch than The Ghost Whisperer. Seriously.) In the words of The Cure, "It's Friday, I'm in love!"