What I’ve Been Doing


Okay, well I had plans for a different entry and in fact kind-of wrote it but my writing was particularly disastrous this week and my editor was busy so eh. The subject matter will probably transfer over to a different week if it’s important. I promise, right now it’s not fit for consumption. Blah.

So right now I figured I would just spend a little time going over what I’ve been watching and reading in the past week, which is actually a fair amount of stuff. I have watched 14 movies since last Friday and finished 3 books. The books are actually more unusual for me than the movies but both are worth mentioning. This entry may be of no interesting to anyone whatsoever but, you know. This is one of the things I do. I guess this will give an idea of the sorts of things I watch and read. I will start with books since it’s a shorter list.

First up was A Woman Like That: Lesbians and Bisexuals Tell Their Coming Out Stories. I was pretty disappointed by this one. I’m usually really fascinated by this sort-of thing but for some reason this collection felt really super intellectual and… cold, I guess is the word? It seems like a subject matter that shouldn’t feel like those things but I found myself really detached from almost all of the stories. So that was unfortunate.

Fifty Shades Freed. Hooray, I’m finally free of this series? I laughed my way through the first one with a whole lot of glee but they became increasingly difficult to slog through as the series progressed. Once the bad writing just becomes monotonous instead of shocking and hilarious, you’re mostly just left with the incredibly depressing nature of an abusive relationship. And good lord, she does go on. This last book was almost 600 pages. Let me assure you, she did not have plot for half of that. But I pressed on because I like to finish what I start, even when it feels kind-of like torture. I have no explanation for this. Everyone has quirks, right?

The Burn Journals. I’ve kind-of been meaning to read this for a while. A memoir from a kid who set himself on fire when he was 14 years old and ended up with severe burns on over 85% of his body. It’s a very frank and straightforward feeling book and a fast read. I didn’t love it but I liked it. It definitely felt… authentic, I guess. I appreciated in a sense that it seems like he never really came to like a magical understanding of why he did it. I think sometimes things like that don’t have reasons, or at least not something you understand after the fact. Suicide, or suicide attempts, are strange things.

I have just today started The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, which my brother bought me for my birthday or Christmas a year or two ago. We will see how that goes, I’ve actually never read anything by Rushdie before.


Adrift, which was a 2009 French film about a young girl who realizes her father is having an affair. I was expecting something a lot different and I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to it (look, I watch a lot of things for various reasons, not necessarily because I expect to enjoy them) but I was pleasantly surprised. It ended up being a very sweet and sad story about growing up and how much it kind-of sucks to find out that your parents are very human and imperfect and in fact sometimes suck. But they can still love you anyway and that’s confusing and difficult, especially when you are 14 and you are still really, really enjoying the simplicity of a more black and white world. It was a really lovely little movie.

A Wink and a Smile: The Art of Burlesque. Eh, I don’t have a lot to say about this. It was pretty boring for a documentary and people were taking themselves way too seriously about something like burlesque in my opinion. If it’s supposed to be fun, have fun.

Mommo, a Turkish film about a young brother and sister essentially abandoned by their father and left to fend for themselves. Overall, it’s a less depressing movie than it sounds. It’s remarkably sweet for the most part, it was a nice little movie.

XX/XY. I’m not sure what to say about this one except I spent the entire movie wanting to shake Mark Ruffalo and yell at him to just please grow the hell up and stop whining. The one redeeming factor of the movie is that one character does kind-of get to tell him this at the end, although not quite as definitively as I would have liked.

The Edukators was for the most part a pretty fun movie about a trio of idealistic German youth who have decided to attempt to shake up the system by… breaking into rich people’s houses and rearranging all their furniture, basically. It’s a little more complicated than that but less than you’d think. Things go wrong, there’s kidnapping and hijinks and madness. I liked the whole movie quite a lot except for the last two minutes or so which I thought didn’t make sense with the rest of the movie and were unfortunate.

Requiem is another German movie based on the same story that The Exorcism of Emily Rose was loosely based on. Unlike the latter movie, this one seems to work pretty firmly off of the concept that she was not really being assaulted by demons but in fact was epileptic and suffering some kind of psychosis. I found the movie surprisingly effective and difficult to watch in places. Something about her portrayal of mental breakdown really got to me. Certainly it’s not as dramatic a movie as it’s counterpart but I liked it quite a lot.

The Safety of Objects is a movie about how very sad white suburbanites can be about all manner of problems. I’m not saying that may not be a true fact but you know. I’ve seen American Beauty (I still rather like it) and I’ve seen a number of movies before and since American Beauty about this same idea of what lies behind white picket fences and I find it rather not compelling typically. On the other hand, a boy has sexual love for a Barbie doll. I hadn’t seen that before.

Turtles Can Fly is a really excellent movie but holy shit is it bleak. If bleak is not your thing, do not watch this movie. This is the kind of bleak that is so dark that I don’t even think I cried. Sometimes things just tear holes out of you, it’s too dark to cry. It reminded me a little bit of my reaction when I first read The Kite Runner, except that book had more cheer. I honestly did appreciate it and I don’t want to say much about it because spoilers so you know. Chances are you either like that sort of thing or you do not. It is very beautiful in the darkest sort of way.

The Mark. To call this a movie is being generous. Look, my best friend Julie and I watch a bad movie together almost every week. We get on Skype, we chat, then we stream something together. For a while now we’ve been on a Christian movie kick. This movie blatantly ripped off Left Behind, which is fascinating because it would never have occurred to me that anyone would want to rip off Left Behind and mostly it was just boring. Possibly the sequel would be more interesting as the movie ended with them parachuting into a city in flames? But I… don’t know.

Rewatched The Hunger Games with David and the Superhero in preparation for the sequel. I really did not much like this movie when it first came out. On a rewatch, I think I mostly was just too close to the book. I usually try not to read books at all if a movie is coming out, certainly not soon before but in this case it had just sort-of happened. Now that I’m a couple years removed, I appreciated the movie quite a bit. I still hate the shaky-cam that the first 20 minutes or so is plagued by but that’s mostly my only complaint.

Chloe. Woman hires an escort because she’s convinced her husband is cheating on her and then DRAMAZ, INTRIGUE, LESBIAN SEX. And so on. Nah, I mean, it was okay. I just… this movie is directed by Atom Egoyan, who directed the heartbreaking and amazing movie The Sweet Hereafter and has just never managed to do another thing that even touches that since. This would be another one that just kind-of is fine but is never anything more than fine which is disappointing because I know for a fact he’s capable of more than fine.

The Queen of Versailles is a really fascinating documentary about this billionaire couple who are going to build the country’s biggest house and then the financial crisis hits and things go bad… it honestly doesn’t sound as fascinating as it is but there’s something strangely heartbreaking and touching about the entire project, in a really unexpected and curious way. It’s well worth a watch.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I really don’t feel like I need to talk much about this since if you’re alive right now you’ve probably heard of it. I went to go see it last night, I enjoyed every minute of it. I think they took a somewhat mediocre book and made a pretty great movie out of it. I’ll probably be going to see it a second time in the next… I’m not sure. Sometime in the next week, I guess, and I’m looking forward to that. So you know. Join the crowd or whatever, it’s worth it.

Haywire is an action movie directed by Steven Soderbergh that he decided he wanted to do after he saw the star doing MMA fighting. He did the whole movie around her. She’s quite beautiful and strong and I feel like you can see what might have drawn him to her. I enjoyed the movie quite a lot (and not just because my beautiful Michael Fassbender was in it). It was very visceral for an action movie, the fight scenes were really intense to watch and, although of course the story is kind-of silly as those stories tend to be, I found her compelling and interesting throughout. It’s a good watch if you’re into that sort of thing.

Okay, I swear contrary to what this looks like I do things other than watch movies. I also watch television shows! And also other things, really. The same weekend I watched 8 movies I also cleaned basically my entire house, did all of the laundry, washed my dog, cleaned my car, and wrote 2 papers. I watched those first 8 movies because they were about to expire on Netflix. I have school and practicum and spend an inordinate amount of time with David and the Superhero, and I have other friends too. It’s just… you know. We all have things we prioritize, movies happen to be my thing. Last year I watched over 400 movies, this year I am currently at 231, so you can see the number has dropped quite a bit. But I realized I haven’t hardly talked about movies on this blog, which seems a bit strange considering how much of my time I actually spend on them so you know. Consider this a very brief snapshot.


Unconditional Regard


“You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”

Of all the lines in Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane, and there are many excellent lines, that is my favorite one. In my Intro to Counseling class, we’ve been talking about how one of the fundamental requirements of good counseling according to one of the people whose name I’ve forgotten is “unconditional regard.” This idea that no matter who they are, people have inherent value and worth. You don’t pass or fail at being a person. People do good things, people do bad things. People move back, people make progress. But no matter what, your client is a human being and they deserve respect for exactly that. They have worth. You can’t be a good counselor if you don’t believe that. People can tell when you don’t believe that.

I have a harder time with that with myself, of course. I want my worth judged based on things. I want to be able to say, here are all the things I have done or not done, what I am or am not. You can balance them out, you can take a look. You decide whether or not I have passed. I must be smart enough and interesting enough to make up for all of the less awesome traits. But maybe that’s not how it works. I mean, on a logical level I know that can’t be how it works. I’m still working on the internalization process though and that can take a while. Sometimes stories help. I guess this is my recommendation for Ocean at the End of the Lane, which had me crying a fair amount. And another brief attempt to reconcile what I know with what I believe. My existence isn’t pass/fail. It really is okay.