A Tale of Two Hearts: How Doctor Who Helped Me Get Over a Breakup

My last relationship ended two years ago.  I was totally heartbroken and in dire financial straits, two things which greatly contributed to my nightly cry-sessions and horrible depression.  I felt pretty trapped by the circumstances of my life, and I wanted to escape by almost any means.  It’s a desperation I hope I never experience again, even though it forced me to examine a lot of parts of myself I had been surreptitiously avoiding that were in need of fixing.

And that’s when the Doctor came into my life.

I wasn’t the most fun person to be around for the first couple months of 2014, so I would often come straight home from work, cry, and watch movies or TV to soothe myself until I fell asleep.  I had been catching up on another of my favorite BBC shows, Sherlock, and I wanted something different; a little more escapist.  My brother and various friends had been begging me for a long time to start new Who, believing (rightly) that I would be hooked if I actually gave it a shot.  My main excuse for not watching had been a combination of stubbornness, lack of time, and too many other shows to keep up with.  But considering I was an emotional wreck with quite a bit of time on my hands, I figured that was as good a time as any to start my travels with the Doctor.

The Ninth Doctor is totally underrated.

And like most of the companions, the Doctor arrived when I needed him most.  Within minutes of starting the first episode, “Rose,” I was swept up by this Madman With a Box into a universe full of aliens and amazing planets and historical figures.   I felt the same rush of adrenaline the Doctor’s companions feel stepping into the TARDIS for the first time; eyes large with wonder and disbelief.   For the first time in months, I felt hopeful instead of dejected, like my life really counted for something.

I know this probably sounds silly to say about a television show, but when someone and/or something has crushed you so completely you feel like you’re nothing, like you’re worthless, to have something constantly remind you of the sheer wonder of being alive is not silly at all.

As a companion, I'm some hybrid of Donna & Amy

As a companion, I’m some hybrid of Donna & Amy

To be inundated in episode after episode with the message that even the smallest, seemingly insignificant person is actually deeply valuable and worthwhile and capable of extraordinary things just because they are human and alive and full of feelings and thoughts can work wonders on a heart and soul that have been battered and beaten to think otherwise. This is what the Doctor does to everyone and everything he encounters in his travels: he saves them by showing them how those “weaknesses” are strengths, how their ability to feel things deeply makes them stronger and more capable than they’d ever imagined.  How they always have a choice between light and dark, right and wrong, war and peace, hope or despondency.  He even says at one point, “I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before.”  And boy oh boy did THAT one hit me like a ton of bricks when I heard that for the first time.

I became addicted to the Doctor, which tends to happen to his companions and fans alike.  I couldn’t wait to get home from work and watch hours and hours of Doctor Who until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

"Vincent & the Doctor" is one of DW finest hours

“Vincent & the Doctor” is one of DW’s finest hours

And then I’d dream of adventures with the Doctor in all corners of time and space.  And the longer I spent with him, the more my broken heart started to heal and get stronger.  And I realized the Doctor is no stranger to heartbreak eitherHe’s lost so much, but yet, he keeps going.  He keeps fighting for those he loves.  He never gives up on them even when they’ve given up on themselves.  He looks for the hope even when it’s just a sliver…that’s all he needs to keep going.

The Doctor is lucky enough to have two hearts to keep him alive.  But in reality, ALL of us have two hearts: one that breaks and one that keeps  beating.  You mourn the one that’s broken while you ignore the one that’s beating and full of hope for a future you cannot see until eventually through time and healing, that becomes reversed.  Eventually, you allow yourself to focus on the hopeful heart instead of the broken one, but you always carry both with you, because one cannot truly exist without the other.  To ignore the pain is to forget what makes you so beautifully human.  The Doctor would agree with me on that.

YES!

YES!

I’ll fully admit to having become a full-fledged, cosplaying Whovian these days.  I own two Sonic Screwdrivers (and I guess I’m gonna have to get a pair of Ray-Bans now too).  I have a Pinterest board full of quotes and gifs and behind-the-scenes videos.  I read fan theories and follow DW writers on Twitter.  I’ve gone to multiple early preview screenings and been to the Pandorica Restaurant in Beacon, NY.  I re-watched the entire series over the summer to prepare for the current one.  The Doctor is an old friend now; someone I rely on to show me a good time, encourage me to never give up, and occasionally give me some tough love.  But I need him a little less than I did when I first met him.  This happens with many of his companions too;  they grow enough to not always need him around.  They learn to fend for themselves and others without constantly relying on him for help.  I’m always up for an adventure, but I don’t need him to be everything for me anymore.  My heart is healed.  My spirits are high.  I have, thanks to the Doctor, learned to navigate my life as well as he navigates his TARDIS: competently, enthusiastically, and  with the occasional malfunction every once in awhile.   It doesn’t always take me where I WANT to go, but it always takes me where I NEED to go.

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Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Compassion

*DISCLAIMER: I rarely discuss my faith publicly as I believe it is private thing for everyone and choose to let my actions speak for me.  In light of the times, I wanted to say a little something; well, 2,224 words of something.  I know some will disagree, and that is absolutely fine and within your prerogative, and I respect your opinion.  Please respect mine.  I promise I will return to regularly-scheduled silly, meandering, Millennial diatribes about life, love, movies and more on my blog soon.  Thanks for reading.

Compassion.

It’s a word we hear often but perhaps don’t fully comprehend its meaning.  Compassion comes from the 14th century Latin, “compati” or “compassio” which means, “to suffer with.”  Compassion itself contains the word “passion,” and from a Christian perspective, there is no more important narrative to the Church than the Passion of Jesus Christ, which is the story of Christ’s suffering and death.  It is so important to the Christian faith, the Passion of Christ is included in all four of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (though John’s account varies a bit from the first three).  jesusIn many churches during the Easter season, Christians travel the Stations of the Cross, which is a series of 14 images or “stations” depicting Jesus on the day of his Crucifixion and death.  At each station, you are encouraged to reflect and pray in order to “suffer with” Christ and better understand His sacrifice for the world.  Compassion: the act of suffering with others to try to understand their own suffering.

I can remember the late spring day, quite clearly, when one of my oldest childhood best friends pulled me aside by our lockers after school in 9th grade and said, “Emmy, I have something important to tell you,” he took a breath, “I’m gay.”  While I had always suspected this and, therefore, wasn’t totally surprised by it, I also knew I had a choice in that moment—a very important choice—of how I could respond.  I was able, at fifteen, to recognize that this moment was going to be the one that would define our friendship from that point onward.  Not only that, but I had the good sense (thank god) to recognize just how difficult this was for him.  I could see he had clearly agonized about sharing this with others.  At that time, he would be basically the only openly gay student at my high school, a school small enough (our graduating class was around 156 people) for everyone to know who you were and gossip about you incessantly.  It wasn’t, at that time, the friendliest place to be openly gay (as our high school was situated in a rural Missouri town of about 13,000 people), and I understood what such an admission meant for my best friend.  So I took a breath too and replied, “Okay.  Thank you so much for sharing that with me.  I love you, and I’m here for you no matter what.”  Then, I hugged him.  It was a response I would repeat many, many times over the next couple of years as subsequent friends would come out to me and others, but no matter how many times I repeated it, I never stopped meaning it.  Each time I was presented with a choice of how to respond, I always chose the one of compassion, acceptance, and love.  It wasn’t really a choice at all, frankly; it just felt like the right thing to do.  Who was I to judge, anyway?

I don’t pretend to understand how difficult it is for many in the LGBT community to come out to their friends and family.  I will never know the anxiety and fear so many experience over whether or not they’ll be accepted for who they are and who they love.  I cannot fathom having to choose between being myself and having my family in my life, but some of my friends have had to make that choice, and it is devastating watching them go through that.  Imagine being told you don’t exist anymore or that you’re worthless or God hates you simply because you stood up for who you are and it may not align with the expectations and beliefs of someone else who is important to you, whether that is someone in your family, your church, or otherwise.  Imagine being made to feel less than human on a daily basis because of who you are.  Some of my friends and colleagues in the LGBT community have suffered through depression and thoughts of suicide.  Quite a few have been completely disowned by their families.  I’ve sat and listened while friends have cried because they couldn’t understand why people hated them so much, why their own families wouldn’t even try to understand what they were going through and who they were.  And it made me feel helpless, but I did the only thing I could do: listen to them, love them, and show as much compassion as I could.

Some of my LGBT friends are vehemently opposed to Christianity and church.  Most of their arguments against Christianity center on the hypocrisies presented by those who claim to be most pious yet act in ways that are anything but.  They pose very valid questions about how people can call themselves Christian but judge others, turn away the poor, discriminate against those who are different using Bible verses as weapons.  If these are the only interactions they have with people who claim to be Christian, can you really blame them for not wanting to be followers of Christ?  Why would a person in their right mind go where they have been told repeatedly they aren’t welcome?  Why would you worship in a religion where some of its believers repeatedly tell you that you are an abomination?  That God, who is supposed to be loving and forgiving, sees you as a the worst kind of sinner?  Even in New York City, where differences are celebrated and welcomed, some of my gay friends have been met with haughtiness and silent judgment in certain congregations and have never returned to church since.  “If I can’t find a church that will accept me in New York City of all places,” they ask, “what church anywhere will accept me?”  All they see is corruption, hypocrisy, and unfailing judgment of others.  They see Christianity as the dagger loved ones used against them when they were coming out.  They have been told through the words and actions of an unfortunately very vocal sect of Christians that they do not belong in Christianity.  That they do not belong anywhere.

I have found myself becoming increasingly more and more distressed as of late by the actions and words of a lot of my fellow Christians.  With the reveal of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, I expected an impassioned response, but the lack of any sort of  compassionate response has weighed very heavily upon my heart.  While the internet is always a breeding ground for vitriolic un-Christlike and decidedly trollish behavior, my heart sank further and further reading death threats, accusations of mental illness, and generally horrible slurs aimed at not only Caitlyn but others within the transgender community.  Unprintable things.  Things no human being should or would be able to say to someone’s face.  And all of it wrapped in the words of scripture and the guise of Christianity.  Everyone claiming to speak for God and to know His thoughts but not once even attempting to show compassion the way Jesus constantly did for lepers and prostitutes, the blind, the hungry, the downtrodden, for any and every person who has been cast aside by others.  For all of us.  The more I read, the more upset I became at how so many Christians were attacking this group of people and have attacked this group of people (sometimes physically) in the name of Jesus Christ.  I have found myself at points lately with tears welling up in my eyes at how little compassion has been shown to the very people who need it most.  This is the moment, like the one I had with my best friend all those years ago, that Christians have a choice in how we respond to those who are reaching out to us, and I fear many of us are going to choose the wrong response.  Some of us already have.

Being compassionate doesn’t mean you are condoning the words and actions of another.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree with anything.  Being compassionate means putting someone else’s feelings above your own.  It means listening and seeking to understand another person’s sufferings as best as you can totally free of judgment.  jesus on crossI see Christ as the best example of compassion there is: He suffered death on the Cross in order to “suffer with” all of us and our sins.  He did this out of love for us to save us all.  If you truly believe in the Passion of the Christ, then you must also believe in compassion, because God showed perfect compassion for all of us, no matter how grave our sins.  None of us here on earth are perfect; all of us need saving.  That so many Christians are ignoring God’s call for love and compassion in favor of doling out judgment and rejection hurts my heart.  God calls all of us to be in His flock not just a selected, more righteous few.

I understand the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Case of Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26th does not sit well with a lot of Christians.  I know many do not believe same-sex marriage should be legal and that this is just another part of “America’s downfall” and that “end times are coming.”  I know I probably have members within my own family who are crestfallen by the Court’s decision and do not understand how I am in support of it and how I rectify that belief with those of my faith.  I know I have friends who do not understand how I rectify that belief with those of my faith.  Honestly, they don’t have to understand, but I do, and that is what’s important.  I know God knows what is in my heart the same as He knows what is in yours, and even though they may be different, I know that God loves each of us exactly the same.  The old song goes, “Jesus loves me, this I know…” and I have no doubts that He does.

As for the “end times,” yes, they will come one day and perhaps even at our own hands, but I believe Christians who harp on this the loudest are probably the most scared about dying, which makes no sense if you believe in the power of Christ’s death, resurrection, and eternal life for those who believe in Him.  “End times” are used to scare people into the church, but too many Christians are doing a better job of scaring people OUT of the church these days.  People like Caitlyn Jenner.  People like Matthew Shepard.  People like my best friend.  That is not what Christ wanted.  In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”  Later he says in verse 12: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this the Law and the Prophets.”  Too many Christians today more closely resemble the Pharisees in the Bible.  Consider this passage from Matthew 23:13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.  You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”  The Pharisees often made themselves appear the most pious while inwardly they were just as sinful as the rest, but Jesus warned us that “whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12).  All of us need to truthfully ask ourselves if we are exalting ourselves before others and the Lord or if we are humbling ourselves instead.

I understand those who are mournful for what they perceive to be a great loss.  It is a hard thing to feel like the world is against you.  The irony is that is exactly how the LGBT community has felt for hundreds of years.  It is how I feel sometimes as a woman in this country.  It is how my African American friends feel.  We’re all in this thing together, and the sooner we start treating one another that way with true compassion, the better off we are in the end.  We need to seek to personify God’s love and compassion here on Earth.  I’ll leave you with a verse from 2 Corinthians 1:3-7:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of COMPASSION and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

Be a comfort to those around you.  We all bear our own equal burdens.

With deepest love for ALL of you (I mean it),

Emmy

My Favorite Fierce Film Heroines Part II: Rose

Welcome to part II of my series on fierce film heroines.  If you missed part I, which probably happened since I wrote it more than two years ago (oops!), just hop over to HERE.  At some point, I’ll probably add more ladies to this list like Ripley from Alien and Dr. Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park, but today, we’re talking about the gal who defied her uppity mom and horrible fiancé to run around “the ship of dreams” with a gorgeously hot third-class passenger named Leonardo DiCaprio, erm, Jack Dawson.  It’s Titanic time and Rose’s turn.

Rose DeWitt Bukater

  • Our first glimpse of Rose is actually of her amazing violet hat and her getting out of what I assume is probably a Ford circa 1912. 
    "They called her the Ship of Dreams..." Because it is everyone's dream to look THIS good and have Leo as their boyfriend.

    “They called her the Ship of Dreams…” Because it is everyone’s dream to look THIS good and have Leo as their boyfriend.

    We see her raise her head and then BAM!  Kate Winslet’s gorgeous face appears beneath the hat.  Then she acts all unimpressed with the Titanic like it’s not about to be the ship where she has the greatest sex of her life following the greatest nude portrait session of her life with a dreamboat steerage passenger.  “It doesn’t LOOK any bigger than the Moritania.”  Obviously, Rose has already learned the importance of Say Something Hat Day and how a good chapeau can influence your entire outlook on life. 

    Miss Vida Boheme: drag queen, life guru, and creator of the all-important Say Something Hat Day

    Either way, her nonchalance and sass is not something I can replicate with any authenticity.

  • Rose meets Jack during a suicide attempt.  Like, GREAT STORY to tell your grandkids, Rose.  “I met the love of my life before I was about to throw myself into the ship propellers.” #dramaqueen much?
    No, girl, YOU'RE crazy for not immediately climbing back over the rail into Leo's arms.

    No, girl, YOU’RE crazy for not immediately climbing back over the rail into Leo’s arms.

    But actually, if she hadn’t had a moment during dinner and then almost jumped off, Jack might never have walked over to her and been all “you jump, I jump” which is basically the best pickup line no man has ever said to me and probably never will (but I can dream, right?).  I’m not condoning Rose’s original death wish of a plan, but I AM saying that what I got from this situation is that if I do something bold and possibly crazy, Leonardo DiCaprio might start up a casual conversation with me. Or the more likely scenario, which is that he files a restraining order.

  • This: “Do you know of Dr. Freud, Mr. Ismay?  His ideas about the male preoccupation with size might be of particular interest to you.” 

GREATEST. DINNER PUTDOWN. EVER.  Ladies, THIS is the way you classily attack a man’s unmentionables during an elegant dinner (possibly held on a luxury ocean liner).  Rose could probably go toe-to-toe with Lady Mary in terms of brilliant snide remarks.

  • Jack teaches Rose how to “spit like a man.”  This is about the only thing we mere mortals could possibly do reasonably as well as Rose.
    Is there anything more romantic than spitting off the deck of a fancy-ass ship at sunset? Can you do THAT on a Viking River Cruise, PBS?

    Is there anything more romantic than spitting off the deck of a fancy-ass ship at sunset? Can you do THAT on a Viking River Cruise, PBS?

    Sure, it’s a little disgusting and undignified, but in comparison with how you probably spent your Saturday nights (alllllllll the struggles), this is pretty tame stuff.  And according to Jack/Leo, it’s just all about technique anyway (I feel like there’s a reaaaaaally dirty joke in there somewhere, but I’ll let this one be for now).

  • Rose gets drunk and then does pointe in just her stocking feet in third class (which is OBVIOUSLY where the REAL party is; I mean, arm wrestling in that time period is like beer pong now).  Rose, all cocky and confident, asks, “You think you’re big, tough men?”

    DO NOT ATTEMPT WHILE DRUNK (or sober for that matter)

    Having studied pointe for six years, I can tell you that this would hurt more than any situation in the Final Destination films (none of which I’ve seen, because I’m not interested in ridiculous death wishes or really inane “horror” movies with thin plotlines).  My toes bled even WITH padding, lamb’s wool, and the occasional paper towel stuffed into the toe box.

    True story: I have quoted this film and this line whilst drunk.

    At my drunkest, I have attempted many feats to impress boys at parties, but none of them have involved doing pointework without pointe shoes (though I might have once attempted doing “Thriller”).  Bravo, Rose.  You have feet of steel.

  • Rose only has to pay 10 cents for a nude portrait drawn by Leonardo DiCaprio, erm Jack, “wearing this…wearing ONLY this.”  Um, seriously impressive seduction technique for a friggin 17 year old not to mention she seems confident and content with her body.
    The kind of body confidence that can't be taught. You go girrrrl.

    The kind of body confidence that can’t be taught. You go girrrrl.

    When I was 17, I was pretty much the opposite of smooth unless you count me playing saxophone for jazz band (among also being in marching band and playing oboe as my regular instrument).  If you know me at all, you know I have been harboring an intense crush on Mr. DiCaprio since I was seven years old and have thought out many seduction tactics, but I’m 98% sure if I approached him only wearing a bathrobe and a fancy necklace and then dropped trou in front of him, I’d be slapped with a restraining order (I’m sensing a theme).

  • Rose wields an axe after nearly being electrocuted from swimming through the flooded, dark third class hallways and successfully frees Jack from his handcuffs.

    Heeeeeeere’s Rose!!!

    Her “practice swings” are, I think we can all agree, pretty disheartening, but because she is Rose FREAKING DeWitt Bukater and destined to be with Jack (at least for the next twenty-ish minutes until he dies), she obviously frees him without scarily chopping off his hands on her FIRST TRY. I have never used an axe, but I DO have pretty boss table saw skills from taking stagecraft lab in college, so I guess that’s something.  However, I’ll leave the brawniness to Rose and the handsome guy in flannel on the paper towel logos (and in selected neighborhoods of Brooklyn/Portland) and just stick to the brains part.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Man

Ladies and gays, I think the most important thing we can learn from our dear, fiery Rose, is the importance of choosing the correct life partner.  At the beginning of the film, she’s engaged to handsome Cal Hockley,

My favorite ever GIF of Billy Zane. Not sorry.

who makes his money in steel and has gobs and gobs of it (enough to buy a bunch of really famous pieces of art AND a diamond that is more ostentatious and obnoxious than the Kimye wedding). 

Hey boo, I bought you this huge diamond so you're supposed to love me now.

Hey boo, I bought you this huge diamond so you’re supposed to love me now.

As we come to find out, this is going to be a marriage of convenience rather than love since Rose and her mother are basically bankrupt.

Ah the passive aggressive corset-lacing move is fun, isn’t it? The angrier you are, the tighter it gets. Scarlett O’Hara knows a thing or two about this.

  But it’s pretty obvious Rose doesn’t love the guy (even though Billy Zane’s hair has literally NEVER looked better) not to mention he’s got a temper worse than Alec Baldwin and the table-flipping skills of a Real Housewife of New Jersey.  He’s also majorly controlling and has questionable ethics (pretending to have a child to get in a lifeboat…”I HAVE A CHILD!” much?).

Teresa Giudice has NOTHING on Cal Hockley when it comes to table flipping, y’all. What a nightmare.

  If she stayed with him, Rose would likely find herself in a verbally and physically abusive relationship especially since he full out slapped her in the face aka NOT OKAY.

PREACH

So it’s pretty awesome when she spits in Cal’s face and picks Jack Dawson for a lifetime of love rather than money…ESPECIALLY in 1912.

UGH THE WORST

 

Again, PREACH

Jack is willing to risk his life for her, he challenges her in good ways, he doesn’t want to squash her independent spirit, and he loves her for exactly who she is.  Ladies and gays, THIS is the kind of man you should seek out.  Now I’m not saying you should take up with the first guy who teaches you to “spit like a man” and has sweaty car sex with you in the boiler room of a luxurious ship, but be on the lookout for a guy who cherishes you rather than seeks to buy your affections so he can control you. 

Baby, are you an Oscar?  Because I want you so baaaad.

Now, if he happens to cherish you AND have the money to buy you a blue diamond worth a gazillion dollars, then you really have hit the jackpot of life-mates, and I envy you and your accessories collection.

So where were we?

  • Rose loses Jack to the icy depths of the ocean, swims in the freezing ass water to blow a dead man’s whistle to get a lifeboat to come back
    Try not to think about the fact that whistle was in a dead man's mouth.  Ew.

    Try not to think about the fact that whistle was in a dead man’s mouth. Ew.

    and FINALLY makes it back to America where she tells customs her name is actually “Dawson, Rose Dawson”

    LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE, ROSE! YOU LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE AS ROSE DAWSON!

    BECAUSE SHE’LL NEVER LET GO (even though, okay, technically she DID let go of Jack’s hand to save herself but whatever) and TRUE LOVE.  And if you aren’t crying by this point, you are probably a robot named Caledon Hockley.  Anyway, Rose is a fighter, and I’d like to think at some point after all her rollercoaster riding and plane flying (Kate Winslet, you better WERK that aviatrix costume), she went to North Carolina and founded a town called Dawson’s Creek, because she was full of feelings and so are all the people in that town (specifically young adults) according to the WB in the late 1990s.

  • AND THEN WE FIND OUT THAT SOMEHOW, MIRACULOUSLY, SHE STILL HAS THE HEART OF THE OCEAN.  And by “miraculously,” I mean “movie-magic” because it’s a necessary and emotional plot point that needs tying up.  And now that Rose has essentially told Bill Paxton and his merry band of sea treasure hunters her entire secret life and sex history,

    “It BELONGS in a museum!” – Indiana Jones

    she must die a poetic death after throwing her “heart” back into the ocean (eh?  See what I did there?).  And thus, she goes to “heaven,” which for her is the prettier parts of the Titanic where Leo is waiting to make out with her,

    Just add pizza to this and pretend Kate is actually me, and you've got my idea of heaven.

    Just add pizza to this and pretend Kate is actually me, and you’ve got my idea of heaven.

    and clearly, Rose has been reading my thoughts, because oddly enough, that is exactly what heaven looks like to me too.  But also with pizza and burritos that don’t make you fat.

So, in conclusion, I think we can all agree that Rose DeWitt Bukater Dawson is a lady worth our admiration and respect.  She blazed those trails one giant iceberg at a time and lived life on her own terms.  Everything’s coming up roses…this time, for her!

Tempus fugit

I saw Richard Linklater’s extraordinary new film Boyhood opening weekend (at the always cool IFC Center here in Manhattan) and was treated to a Q&A with the man himself and his star, the miraculous Ellar Coltrane, following the film.  Chances are, you’ve probably been reading and hearing a lot about this film the last two weeks or so, and not without reason does it have a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  It is quietly moving, honest, and completely lovely; full of the real stuff of life that seems insignificant, but upon rumination, it is actually the important stuff.  It’s the stuff that shapes who you are.

Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane: changing the face of cinema, quite literally

Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane: changing the face of cinema, quite literally

And it got me thinking (and continuing to think as it is over a week ago I saw the film) about life.

But it also got me thinking about magic: both fictional and real.

Whether it’s coincidental or not, magic seems to be a recurring theme in the film.  In one scene, Mason’s mother (a sublime Patricia Arquette) reads from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before bedtime.  In another scene, Mason and his sister, Samantha (played with feistiness by Lorelai Linklater), dress up and attend a midnight book party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  They’re wide-eyed and excited, clutching their newly purchased books to their chests like precious treasure.  A third scene has Mason asking his father (the always reliably affable Ethan Hawke) about magic and elves.  “Right this second, there’s like, no elves in the world, right?” he asks tentatively.  And this propels his father into a wonderful moment of vocal philosophizing about the definition of magic itself.  He explains that magic could very well be the fact we have whales so huge you can swim through their arteries, but is that magic?  He doesn’t know.  When Mason asks again, this time a little more pointedly, his father answers, “Technically, no elves.”

Mason Jr. and his female friend = the new Jesse and Celine?

Mason Jr. and his female friend = the new Jesse and Celine?

The last scene of Boyhood features a now nineteen year-old Mason sitting on a rock in the wilderness of Texas with a girl he’s just met that day, his first of college.  They’re talking about life.  “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment?” she asks. “I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”  He replies, “Yeah, I know, it’s constant, the moments, it’s just — it’s like it’s always right now, you know?”  And just as he’s saying that, the sun is setting, and you know you’re glimpsing another fleeting, magical moment, but like Mason, you’re hopeful, because you know another one will come along if you ground yourself in the present.  And THAT right there got me thinking about another of my favorite Linklater films, Before Sunrise (really just that whole trilogy, but the first especially).  In a scene in that particular film which is all about seizing those fleeting moments, Celine says to Jesse, “If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.”

"If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt." - Celine

“If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.” – Celine

So is that magic?  Connecting with someone else on an almost spiritual level?  The kind of magic we’re accustomed to is often the kind associated with witches and wizards like Harry Potter where there are spells and people are transformed.  If you really think about it, all magic is about doing something to another person: cursing them, making them fall in love with you, changing them or yourself in some way.  The Oxford Dictionary defines magic in four ways:

  1. The power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.
  2. Mysterious tricks, such as making things disappear and appear again, performed as entertainment.
  3. A quality that makes something seem removed from everyday life, especially in a way that gives delight.
  4. Something that has a delightfully unusual quality.

So if we look at it this way, as magic being something that seems delightfully removed from everyday life that influences the course of the events in a life, then we really DO experience magic in the real world.  Mason’s father wasn’t wrong and neither was Celine: magic is very real and present.  I don’t think Richard Linklater featured Harry Potter in two scenes of Boyhood without reason; not only have the books changed the lives of millions of readers around the world in profound ways, but so too do Harry, Ron, and Hermione experience the magic of growing up, forging friendships, and discovering love (among other things like battling dark wizards and basically saving humanity).  Magic is ever present in all those milestones of life, big and small.

"We are the three best friends that anyone could have..."

“We are the three best friends that anyone could have…”

Celine and Jesse experience that magic as they wander the streets of Vienna, talking for hours and essentially falling in love.  I’ve written about it before, but we’ve all had those moments of connection with someone else.  It’s usually those moments we actually FEEL life happening to us and around us; we become acutely aware of our own mortality and the preciousness of it all.  It’s the thing where you feel infinite and finite at the same time.  Mason Jr. becomes aware of it at the end of BoyhoodCeline and Jesse know it too.  And so too do we when we allow ourselves to be swept up in those moments, to be seized by them the way Mason’s female companion posits during their conversation.  And those moments are also usually the ones that transform us with their magic, because our lives are never quite the same afterwards.  I just felt it late last Wednesday night as a guy and I recklessly climbed ladders to the roof of his office building just to look at the Empire State Building and essentially, each other.  To hold hands and talk about life, both of us sensing it was the start of something new and treating that beautiful fragility with reverence and wonder, because we know it will never be like that ever again; we will never have these moments again.

A now iconic movie poster for a now iconic film

A now iconic movie poster for a now iconic film

Boyhood often is about the mundane of life, but further examination reveals the mundane is the magical.  So often we remember these small things more so than the milestones.  The little setbacks and victories.  The way your mom would make breakfast.  Summer days spent riding bikes and drawing with sidewalk chalk.  Long conversations to your best friend on the phone.  Or maybe harboring a crush on a college professor.  Or climbing on a roof to look at the city lights with someone just because you’re young and feel invincible.  Things DO change, people DO change, and that’s the magic of it all.  Time is magic, because as it passes, it transforms you and the world around you.  You’re always under its spell.

Just as he’s leaving for college in Boyhood, Mason’s mother is crying and poignantly admits, “I thought there’d be more.”  So do we.  All the more reason to appreciate whatever time and magic we’ve got.

*Run to see Boyhood whenever it hits your local multiplex.  Heck, even drive to a showing nearby if it’s not.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of movie.  Truly something special.

xoxo: Letters versus Texting

I have unscientifically determined that texting is to my generation as letter-writing was to our grandparents’ generation (and all the generations before theirs), at least in the context of dating and relationships. Some scholars bemoan the state of our writing saying no one really learns how to properly write anymore (which, I think, is partially true) or even likes to write, but I would say with the Internet and technology, people are actually writing more than ever, just not necessarily always at the highest of literary/intellectual standards. No one is going to argue “Hey bae, I love u” is anywhere on the same level as Byron or Tennyson, but the sentiments are generally the same (for the record, I had to look up “bae” on Urban Dictionary #Imgettingold).

Proof that real mail is MAGICAL!

Harry Potter: Proof that real mail is MAGICAL!

Let’s look at our grandparents and great-grandparents for a second. Technology was much more limited. People had telephones, sure, but letter-writing was still an effective and important means of communication. You didn’t talk to people on the phone every day, because it still cost a lot of money, so letter-writing was a way to pour out all your thoughts and feelings for just the price of a stamp (which back then, at least around WWII, would have been 3-5 cents). Letters made feelings and worlds tangible; it gave them actual physical weight. Without unlimited access to cameras, you had to describe everything you saw in vivid detail so the letter-reader could see what you saw, smell what you smelled, hear what you heard (song cue: “Do You Hear What I Hear?”). And you would clamor for that next letter, sometimes for a week or a month or more, and as you did, you’d spend hours analyzing every word of the current letter, committing portions to memory. You became hungry for more words from your pen pal, sometimes ravenously so. And the waiting could drive you mad with worry or lust or desperation or love (sound familiar, Millennials?).

The letters from decades and even a couple centuries past are a thing of real beauty because no one writes to each other like THAT anymore (at least, not that I am aware of). Some are almost shocking in their open declarations of love and passion; probably because we have this idea that people from the past are all stuffy and proper when really they were just like any other human being with tons of feelings pulling them every which way. Epistolary romances are basically extinct, and it’s sad to think I will never probably know what it’s like to have someone write to me with such esteem and honesty, to express enamor in such a way. It’s an art rapidly being lost every minute each day. When I think of the great love letters of all time—Beethoven and his Immortal Beloved, Napoleon Bonaparte and his Josephine, Elizabeth and Robert Barrett Browning, etc—I think how much of their souls these people let bleed through the ink of their pens onto paper. That’s why there are so many grandmothers with bushels of old letters carefully preserved in dusty trunks in their attics: because to throw them away would be like throwing away the person who wrote them.

Drunk (texting) in love?

Drunk (texting) in love?

My generation, the Millennials, has grown up with rapidly changing technology. The older of us Millennials may even be the last kids to formally learn how to write in cursive at school. We burrow ourselves into our online personalities, which we carefully construct and sculpt to look the way we want other people to see us. We live in this oddity of a half-virtual, half-real world, and the two are always shaping one another whether it’s Instagramming our meals or checking in to cool places/events on 4Square or Facebook. Communication and the sharing of our “personalities” is a constant, daily practice for us. We feel more naked without our smartphones than we do wearing our barely-there crop-tops.

And dating? Well, there’s an app for that (or a hundred). Meeting people has never been easier. These days with Tinder, it’s literally a swipe of your fingertips across your phone (The lamest conclusion to a “how I met your mother/father” story, which is good news for Ted Mosby).

Ted Mosby: lover of Star Wars and prolonged stories with anti-climactic endings.

Ted Mosby: lover of Star Wars and prolonged stories with anti-climactic endings.

Most of us barely use our phones for actual CALLS these days. No. If you want to get a hold of your Millennial child/friend/whatever, you better text us. We’d rather type with our thumbs than talk. Thus, our preferred method of communicating with our objects of affection is texting, the most personal form of the impersonal virtual contact we allow. And here is where I think we can find some common ground with our elders, because texting both plays into AND against my generation’s dependency on instant gratification. Texting is where we flirt and express ourselves, but many times, it becomes a game, and that’s when it becomes less about communication and more about the act of texting itself. We create all these weird, nonexistent rules for ourselves in this game, rules that drive us crazy. For instance, how soon can I text him/her back without seeming clingy? If he/she texts me three times in a row, can I text them back three times in a row? Do I make him wait two hours before texting back? She didn’t text me back right away, so does she not like me? It goes on and on.

But guess what? Those rules aren’t even real. (“They were real that day I wore a vest!”)Regina - Those rules aren't real We make them up to ease our discomfort with the unknown much like our grandparents and great-grandparents probably made up hundreds of scenarios to explain why they hadn’t received a letter in a reasonable amount of time. We send texts out into a void (ooh the void with the Cybermen) and hope beyond hope we’ll hear back from that person instantly. Each message notification ding becomes a trigger for our happiness and self-worth (Pavlov would have a field day with us “dogs.”). We long to hear back from that other person. We pine. And when we do finally hear back from them, it sends endorphins rushing through our bodies. The older generations devoured their letters to each other, and now the younger generation just as eagerly devours our texts to one another. But my generation no longer has to spend time describing something; we can just send a photo along or a video of where we are, so in a way, we’re writing letters like our grandparents but with technology this time.

Do I wish I had something more tangible to remember romances of old? Yes, and I’m rather jealous of past generations for having such beautiful correspondences they can hold onto and read forever. I regularly preach the power of keeping a hand-written journal of ANY kind and how it unlocks your brain and feelings in ways nothing else does. I finished my first ever 200 page journal in May (covering a two-year timespan of my life) and have already started filling a new one, and it means more to me than anything else I’ve written, because I can see and feel those words, their meaning; I can remember how I felt writing them. No matter how great texting feels short-term, it doesn’t carry the same kind of emotional weight in the long-term as something handwritten. But the times they are a-changin’ and even if we all took the time to write each other proper letters, we wouldn’t have the patience or discipline to keep it up. After all, letters were just conversations spread out over pages and time, and now we can have those conversations more rapidly, for better or worse.

Which reminds me…I have a guy to text back.

First Crush

Spring is in the air here in the City and with it comes the inevitable coupling up of animals and humans (though I myself am politely declining any and all close encounters of the male romantic kind until such time as my heart has fully recovered from the last).  So that got me thinking back…way, WAY back to the 90s…to when my heart felt its first flutters of love, or at least, deep like.  Enjoy…

My first crush was named Paul.  We were in the same kindergarten class, and I thought he was adorable.  Of course, at the time, I didn’t really understand what a boyfriend or love was beyond what I saw depicted in the Disney movies I so frequently watched.  Paul was gentle and sweet, sometimes shy, but always friendly and polite.  And the best part was that he had a crush on me back.

Crushes come and go, naturally, and my crush on Paul was no different. For a while in third grade, there was Robbie, who was blonde and played soccer and had just moved from Kansas City.  He had that new kid in town mysterious quality, a mischievous grin, and never was without a little twinkle in his eye.  I was smitten.

McIntire Elementary School: where many an early crush was had

McIntire Elementary School: where many an early crush was had

But it turns out I wasn’t the only girl at McIntire Elementary who felt that way; apparently every other girl in the third grade had taken note of Robbie and was secretly plotting ways of winning him over.  Realizing he was more into my friend Joanna, I quietly withdrew my heart from the competition and turned my attention back to multiplication tables and my Book-It booklist (which I think we can all agree was one of the best reading incentives ever: read books, get free pizza), and not long after that, Paul too.

Read books, get pizza. I wish the adult world was like that.

Read books, get pizza. I wish the adult world was like that.

Sure, he was a little too into Pokemon by that point for my taste, but we both loved music class and I had never forgotten the heated discussion we’d had over which Power Ranger was the best.  It seemed like a good match (if only it was THAT easy now).

In fourth grade, we started switching classrooms for science, history, and math, so even though Paul and I were in different classes, we could still communicate via notes we left in each other’s desks.  He left me a carefully folded note one day after science class, asking if I’d be his girlfriend, and naturally, I left one back accepting.  I marked the occasion by making note of it in my Lisa Frank polar bear diary

My actual Lisa Frank polar bear diary from 1997. Please note my favorite color was "cerulean." #pretentious

My actual Lisa Frank polar bear diary from 1997. Please note my favorite color was “cerulean.” #pretentious

that I kept under lock and key, saying we had “a complicated relationship.”  As if I had any idea what that actually meant, but it sounded good and adult at the time.  For Valentine’s Day, he got me a TY Beanie Baby keychain, which I still have somewhere in my closet at home in Missouri.  For a girl in the 90s, getting a beanie baby on Valentine’s Day was even better than flowers or candy, and I knew I had picked my boyfriend correctly.  I think I got him a pack of Pokemon cards, probably as a peace offering to say “I don’t understand this obsession, but I accept that it’s important to you.”  This would prove an important lesson for later relationships: you don’t always understand your significant other’s interests, but you must support them anyway.

Frosted tips, unlike Frosted Flakes, are NOT "grrrreat!"

Frosted tips, unlike Frosted Flakes, are NOT “grrrreat!”

Things changed in middle school because suddenly, we joined with all the kids from the other two elementary schools, and frosted tips and lots of hair gel became a thing.  An UNFORTUNATE thing, but a thing, no less.  Not only was there more homework, but now I had to worry about bras and school dances and figuring out how to do my own makeup (which in middle school in my day meant lots of eye shadow, Dr. Pepper Lipsmackers, and maybe a hint of mascara; SO natural…NOT).  And there were more boys.  So many more boys I had seen around town but didn’t really know.  I joined band and was in choir, and Paul was too, so we saw each other still in our music classes, but became friends instead.

I definitely believe in the whole When Harry Met Sally scenario that men and women can only be friends after they’ve gotten physical contact and/or those pesky romantic attractions out of the way (at least, most of the time).  That’s what happened to Paul and me.  After our brief 4th grade romance (with NO physical contact, mind you), we settled comfortably into a good friendship, which we have maintained up until now.  In high school, I used to go over to his house a lot after school with some of the other guys from band, and we’d play video games for a while and drink Route 44 drinks from Sonic.

The one thing I really miss about the Midwest: easy access to Sonic Happy Hour

The one thing I really miss about the Midwest: easy access to Sonic Happy Hour

A few times, I’d catch Paul looking at me, and I’d wonder if perhaps he had rekindled some of those old feelings for me.  If he did, he never acted on them again, and we graduated with our friendship intact.

I ran into him two summers ago at a friend’s wedding, and it felt weird but also like old times.  He introduced me to his girlfriend (who’s cute as a button and who he’s still with now).  We shared some laughs.  Once in awhile we send something to each other over Facebook, but we’ve gone in different directions in our lives, and have fewer things in common.  He works with computers in St. Louis, and I’m here creating stuff, living a semi-bohemian life.  I catch myself thinking about those strange childhood years sometimes, and Paul always enters my mind when I do.  He represents a time gone by, a different version of myself, and, in a way, the men who would follow him; the ones I gravitated (and perhaps still DO gravitate) towards.

I think we all are trying to recapture the magic of our first crush in our later relationships in many ways; the youthfulness and innocence, the butterflies in the stomach, the longing.  You only get one first crush; only one person gets to be the first to awaken those feelings in you for better or worse.  I don’t mean to sound all starry-eyed and nostalgic, but  it’s one of those moments you really DO carry with you for the rest of your life.  We always hope that the next person we fall for will stir up all of that, make us feel like we’re back in the throws of young, exuberant 4th grade love.  Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.

I’ll always think fondly of Paul no matter how much life separates us, because that relationship has become oddly preserved just as it was, untainted by whatever else has happened to us in our individual romantic lives.  It is just as sweet now as it was then, and for that, I’m grateful.  I could use more sweetness in my life.

And for the record, I still know nothing about Pokemon (but THIS is pretty adorable).  Sorry, Paul.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

You know how celebrities/famous people always seem to die in threes?  And some murders inspire subsequent copycat murders?  That whole “when it rains, it pours” thing?  What I’m trying to say is misfortune often breeds misfortune.

And I should know.  The last three months have probably been the worst of my entire life.  I know that’s a bold statement to make, but in thinking about the last twenty-five years, I cannot remember another time in my life when so much shit was flung my way in such a brief space of time.  Blow after blow after blow.  Three months of near-ceaseless gut punches.  My life literally imploded in my face.  BOOM!  There it goes in a mushroom cloud and rubble like a scene out of a doomsday movie.

There goes my life

There goes my life

(Maybe I’m being a TAD dramatic, but you get the point.)

I had a great summer, one of my very best, truly.  Lots of travel and fun times with friends and family.  After a year and a half, my best guy friend finally asked me out, and we started dating.  As my second year in New York came to its close, I finally felt settled; everything was in a good place.  I felt prosperous in nearly every area of my life from my bank account to my relationships.  I bicycled through the streets in a haze of contentment, peace, joy, and love.  I reveled in it all.  I felt seriously happy for the first time in a very long time, and even though not everything was perfect, I felt like I was FINALLY on track.  My life was slowly but surely piecing itself together.

And let me tell you, after a boyfriend drought of about six years (we’re talking committed relationship here, not random dating, which I HAVE done on and off since 2007), having one again was awesome (let alone this guy who is funny and smart and respectful).  Not that I was ever miserable because I DIDN’T have a boyfriend for a long time, it’s just you forget how great it can be.  And being in a relationship and/or love in New York City is especially great.  And since I’ve grown up by leaps and bounds since my last real relationship (considering I’m 25 now and was just 18 back then…eek), this one was VASTLY different.  It felt real and adult.

Maybe if I had invested in better floaties and a baby modeling career, I wouldn't be sinking...

Maybe if I had invested in better floaties and a baby modeling career, I wouldn’t be sinking…

So things were going swimmingly until the beginning of September when my floating turned to sinking.  It felt like someone pushed my head underwater all of a sudden.  My roommates wanted to have a conversation about apartment business, and what I thought was going to be a routine discussion of what we could all do to keep improving the place turned into them accusing me of basically being the worst roommate on the planet (which, having asked my other former roommates to confirm this, all answered with a resounding, “WHAT?!  You’re probably the BEST roommate in the world!”).  I couldn’t speak because I had no idea anyone felt this way.  Now, I’m a highly intuitive person, but I’m not a mind-reader, so if you don’t expressly tell me something is bothering you, I might not be able to pick up on it.  My roommates both avoid confrontation whereas I like to deal with things head on in a civil way, so a personality conflict was bound to arise.  All this came completely out of the blue, but here I was being asked to move out.  Two against one.  They’d discussed the whole thing behind my back and already decided the best solution was to force me out without any input from me or even attempting to fix the situation.  So here I was, a relatively impoverished twenty-something in one of the most expensive cities in the world and had about a MONTH to not only find an apartment I could afford but also move into it.

Things quieted down a bit in October, though I was furiously on the hunt for an apartment.  I lucked into one almost immediately and began planning out my moving strategy.  If you’ve never lived in New York, I can tell you that moving here is a major, MAJOR pain in the ass.  Worse than anywhere else because like no one has cars.  ANYWAY, I made it through October relatively unscathed and managed to get all my possessions schlepped from one neighborhood in Queens to another adjacent one thanks to a dear friend of mine and his sturdy little car (Tim, you are an angel!).  I let myself think the worst was over and breathed a sigh of relief that the apartment scenario from hell had been vanquished.  New apartment, new roommates, fresh start.

But the worst was not over.  Five days into November (and a little under a week to go to my 25th birthday), my boyfriend and I broke up.  Even HE admitted the timing was horrible considering everything I had just been through (because in spite of everything, he’s a really good guy).  The breakup is both sharp and blurred: parts I remember so clearly and others I can only remember the feel of them.  When you love a person, that doesn’t just go away overnight.  Love never really dies; it just transforms itself over time into different kinds of love.  What makes this particular breakup hard is that it’s not because there isn’t great care, affection, and love there for each other; it’s timing.  It’s emotional preparedness.  It’s other things that are between us right now.  And these are things people have to work out for themselves.  I’m not putting it all on him either, because I have my own set of issues to work through.  My intuition tells me that he and I have more to our story, but we both have some life to live on our own first, and for whatever reason, we can’t do it together right now. 

So I was awaiting the third event (because like celebrity deaths, these things always happen in threes), and finally it came on Sunday.  My dear friend was in town for a few days and invited me to the Brooklyn Museum to look at the Jean Paul Gaultier Retrospective (which, for the record, is amazing).  On the way to the admission desk, I slipped in some water and tumbled to the floor only to be followed by my bankcard being declined.  Overdrawn.  AGAIN.  Trying not to panic and maintain some semblance of composure (despite having just fallen to the floor like an idiot), I pulled out my bankcard from home, paid, and entered the exhibit where I put the best smile I could for my friend.

As I made my way to my church afterwards for that evening’s Vespers concert/service, hot tears crept into my eyes, thinking about having to make yet ANOTHER phone call to my parents asking for help.  I’m 25 years old and can’t seem to get it together despite numerous attempts.  While church was reliably soothing for an hour or two, once I left, the hot tears came again.  On the walk home from the train, I lost it.  Angry sobs.  I called my mother from my bed, curled up in the fetal position.  Ever the voice of love and understanding, she eased my fears, but couldn’t quash my anger at myself for yet another financial failure or at the universe taking another massive dump on me.  “WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH?!?!” I yelled into my phone in anguish, my mother silent on the other side.  And it’s a question that is yet to be answered and may not be anytime soon.

I'd give anything to get lost in Middle Earth right now...or just maybe New Zealand

I’d give anything to get lost in Middle Earth right now…or just maybe New Zealand

To combat my heartbreak, anger, and sadness, I’ve been spending a lot of time in libraries and my church looking for answers, peace, distractions, etc.  I’ve planned out trips to places halfway across the world to try to escape my life here.  I’ve gone on two-hour bike rides.  My friends have done their best to keep me busy.  And sometimes, I can manage to forget all that has befallen me these last few months for a little bit.  I can even almost muster some real happiness if only for a minute or two, but somehow or other, it all comes back.  There is no magic salve to cure me of it all, no quick-fix.  I am, quite simply, a broken down human being desperate for a break, some goodness, some light.  A reprieve.

BUT I haven’t lost all hope.  I have to believe on the other side of this destruction and desolation there is something big and great waiting for me if I have the courage to push through all rubble.  Yes, I am angry, vehement even, but what good does it accomplish?  It’s obvious everything is out of my control right now, so being angry isn’t going to change that, but maybe channeling that energy into something else will.  Maybe forcing myself to work harder and create will produce something good.  Maybe I was too much like Icarus, arrogantly flying too close to the sun just because I could only to have my wings catch fire and plummet to the ground.  I don’t know.  At this point, I feel like I can go nowhere but up…even if it means crawling.jk rowling