The Bottle Above My Door

Hello, hello!  I have nothing writerly to talk about this week, so I thought I would share the (boring) story behind one of my weirder decorations.  Hanging above my door, alongside my collection of drumsticks and guitar picks, is a crumpled up plastic water bottle.  Whenever I’m hurting and need to lay back in the chair to shift my weight (or I get stuck on something while writing and just need a break), I usually end up staring at that bottle for a few minutes.  It has this weird ability to make me smile, despite being a piece of junk to everyone else.  I guess it’s because I get to think about that December night back 2011 when I got it.

Kyo's Water Bottle
Yes, I’m one of those weird people who keep things like this 

That year was a year for concerts.  Miyavi came around in November (pretty sure one of the drumsticks is from that one), which was a no-brainer for me.  I was definitely going to that show.  Then, I found out that Dir en grey was coming through that December.  I admit that I struggled a bit with the decision to go to that show.  I knew Dad wasn’t a fan (screamy Japanese metal just isn’t his thing, though I knew he wouldn’t say no if I asked to go) and it was a little expensive, but I had never seen them live before.  And you never really know if Japanese bands are going to come back through Texas, so it’s best to catch them when you can.  Ultimately, I decided to go.

Dad, the Minion (yes, I call my friend a minion, except I think he still had the title of Puppet back then), and I piled in the van and headed down to Trees in Deep Ellum.  It’s one of my favorite venues down there, though we haven’t been in a while.  The owners were super nice.  I heard they’ve reopened two other venues since the last time I went to a concert out there, which is neat.  But I digress.

The Minion!  And yes, I wore a Mudvayne hat to a Dir en grey concert.

The concert was awesome.  Sat by the stage, right in front of Toshiya, the bassist.  At one point, Dad leaned over and said that he had just realized that that guy (Toshiya) was wearing a skirt.  Given other bands I listen to, it wasn’t a surprise as much as an observation, but it was still funny.  Then, when the concert was over and the band members were leaving the stage, Kyo (the singer) stopped and gave me his crumpled up water bottle.  Still high on the live music buzz, it was the most awesome thing EVER!  A little later, when asked what I planned on doing with his garbage, I vaguely remember a plan to harvest his DNA and clone him.  That never came to fruition, but I did use it as a wall decoration.


And that’s how one man’s literal trash became my treasure.  What’s something weird that you keep around?  Do you have anything other people would look at and automatically think it’s trash?  Share your story here or on my social media pages!

The Show That Prepared Me For Life

Hello, hello!  I’ve been binge watching Sailor Moon Crystal the past couple of days and it got me thinking about how I would cope with life today if I hadn’t watched the original Sailor Moon growing up.  It’s one of those shows that prepared me for everything going on in the world today.  We all have a show like that.  Whether it was Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus or X-Men or Batman or whatever you watched as a kid, we all have a show that has stuck with us and been a major influence on who we are today.  For me, that was Sailor Moon.  How could a magical girl anime prepare me for the turbulence of today, you ask?  Stick with me for a minute and I shall do my best to explain.

One of my favorite pictures of all the Senshi.

Aside from a bunch of women kicking ass and taking names with the occasional backup from Tuxedo Kamen, this show was amazing for many other reasons.  Yeah, there was the obvious message that love and friendship can help you conquer any evil, including the evil that lurks within each of us (after all, if Small Lady can become Black Lady and Saturn can become Mistress 9, none of us can claim to be 100% good).  It reminds us that, ultimately, hatred and superiority complexes will fail.  It might take longer than we want, but as long as people don’t give up, good will eventually win.  We just have to believe in each other.

There are also more subtle messages that apply today more than ever.  There was the whole Uranus/Neptune relationship that the U.S. dub tried to pass off as them being cousins (everyone I knew saw through that charade and, honestly, the whole cousin storyline just made a beautiful relationship kind of creepy).  Not to mention Zoisite’s obsession with Kunzite in the original anime (again, no one I knew believed Zoisite was a woman in the dub).  Then came the Sailor Starlights arc where men transformed into women and back again (pretty sure they just cross-dressed in the manga, but I’m talking about the anime where they were biologically males until they transformed).  Early exposure to this kind of stuff wasn’t traumatizing.  If anything, it helped give me an open mind.

The Starlights.  I wanted those boots, though.  That’s all I cared about as a kid.

The story arc that hit closest to home for me and, in all honesty, is probably the reason Sailor Moon stuck with me so much, was Sailor Saturn’s story.  She was a sickly kid and an outcast, but she had the power to destroy worlds.  It was the first time I remember seeing someone who had physical difficulties (granted, they were nothing like my own) who could be the hero (or the villain if she had chosen that path).  She proved that you didn’t have to be athletic or even normal to be powerful or even accepted by people.  For a kid like me, that was the best message I could have received.  If she could help destroy evil, I could put up with whatever life threw my way.

The whole purple outfit didn’t hurt my love of Saturn either.

So yeah, Sailor Moon definitely helped shape who I was back then and who I am now.  It taught me about the power of women, the power of friendship, how to recognize evil, how to accept others for who they are, and how to accept myself.  What show helped turn you into who you are?

Educators Who Changed My Life

Howdy, howdy!  Lately, I’ve been seeing things floating around Facebook land with captions like “tag a teacher who changed your life” and all that.  I haven’t actually participated in these memes, but I’ve seen them.  And, recently, a teacher of mine from elementary school (and later high school) retired.  It all got me thinking about how I always ramble on about Stonecoast and even my SMU professors, but I have yet to talk much about anything before college.  I don’t even think I’ve mentioned my years at Eastfield (the community college I got my AA from).  So, today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite teachers from elementary through high school.

These things!

The first thing you need to know is that I don’t remember many of my teachers after fourth grade, because I was homebound.  It’s a little different from homeschooling in that the school district sent a teacher to my house (she would bring my work from the school I was registered at, teach me whatever I needed help with, then take my work back to the school).  I had a course list and was assigned to specific classes just like everyone else, except I did the work at home through a middleman.  It wasn’t great, but my mom was afraid being around everyone would mean I’d get sick, so that’s how we did things.  Honestly, it was fine.  If I had gone to school, I wouldn’t have met Debbie Christian and Anita Wesley (two of the teachers who changed my life).

Ms. C. (Debbie Christian), was my second homebound teacher.  I had her for sixth through ninth grade, I believe.  She became a member of the family over the years and we still talk and have dinner occasionally.  She’s moving soon to be closer to her grandkids, but that just means we (Dad and I) will have an excuse to do a little traveling to visit her.  One of my favorite memories from her teaching days was when we were doing one of those “invisible ink” experiments where you wrote in lemon juice or milk or something, then held it up to a flame to brown the juice.  The paper caught on fire and she tried to run it to the sink, but it broke off and fell on the floor.  She was kind of panicking and Mom (who had come in to see what the commotion was) and I were laughing.  Our kitchen floor was tile and at the time there was nothing flammable in the vicinity of the fire.  It was hilarious.

Ms. C. and I on prom night.

My next homebound teacher, Anita Wesley, had me from tenth grade through graduation.  She was a super sweet lady.  Her husband is a pastor (he officiated Mom’s memorial service), so she was a little more religious than I was used to at the time.  If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t sure we were going to be a good fit at first.  But she turned out to be wonderful.  She always goes the extra mile for her students.  I recently heard that she put together an award ceremony for a homebound student after the school made a fluke.  That’s the kind of person she is.  My favorite memory with Mrs. Wesley is an unexpected one.  As an early graduation gift, she got me a Bible (not the kind of thing I’m used to receiving).  The thing was, she wanted to get it personalized with my name in silver and all that fancy stuff, but before she did it, she asked if it would be something I would like.  She didn’t force it on me or make me feel obligated to accept.  We read from it and she was willing to talk about the things I didn’t get or that I found to be contradictory to other passages.  I’m still not a religious person (in fact, I’ve probably only opened that Bible once since I graduated high school), but I still have it and I’m glad that I do.

See below to understand the relevance of this.

Another teacher from those years who made a difference in my life was Loreta Peebles.  She recently retired, so you can blame her for this stroll down memory lane.  I had her in fifth or sixth grade, then again in high school for my AP English classes.  She was one of the only teachers I was assigned to who reached out to me despite my being homebound.  She helped organize a couple of parties at my house with my high school English classes and even had me participate in class via instant messenger (this was before Skype or she probably would’ve had me do that instead).  But my favorite memory comes from the elementary school class.  She had us  mummify a Cornish game hen.  Everything from ripping out its insides to salting it to wrapping it.  I even had to decorate a shoe box sarcophagus for it.  It’s buried underneath the slab to our shed.  She was one of those weird teachers who could make just about anything fun.  And we’re still friends.

Wow, this post turned out much longer than usual.  Sorry, not sorry.  I think I’ll wrap it up here.  See you next week!

Writing Challenge Q&A: First Love

Hello once again!  It’s time for the next installment of the impromptu Q&A.  This week’s topic is brought to you by my Minion (Joel Rede).  He chose 19, which is “discuss your first love.”  Why the Minion is interested in my lack of a love life is beyond me, but whatever.  This is actually something I don’t really talk about with anyone, so forgive me if it gets a little weird.

Replace the house thing with Interwebz stalking.  Also, it’s always creepy .  But you accepted that.

So, what exactly is a first love?  I could tell you about my first crush, or the first boy I loved like a sibling, or I could simply say I’ve never had one because I’ve never dated anyone.  All of those stories would be true, but at the same time, they’d be a lie.  I think first love is something we have to identify for ourselves.  Each of our experiences are different.  Some first loves are amazing and some are heartbreaking.  Then, there’s the kind that’s neither breathtakingly beautiful nor Earth-shatteringly horrible, it simply is what it is.  That’s the way mine was.

Don’t get me wrong, my first love was a lot of things.  It was unconventional (back before “we met online” became an acceptable meet-cute outside of the nerd circle).  It was terrifying.  It was beautiful in its own way.  And, ultimately, it was probably unrequited.  But I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, because it was exactly what I needed at the time.


When I met First Love (the person), I was eighteen, maybe nineteen.  I was hanging out in the Yahoo chatrooms when I spotted a screenname that intrigued me.  After a few minutes of stalking him, I got bored, pounced on him, and stole his boxers (it was this whole running joke between my friends and I back then, don’t ask).  We goofed around and talked in the chatroom for a while, then he eventually PMed me and the rest was history as they say.

Back then, I was in a really dark place.  First Love was the first person I felt comfortable enough showing the darkness to and he accepted it.  He never tried to tell me I shouldn’t be having those thoughts or feelings.  He didn’t try to change me.  He simply supported me when I needed it and talked me through things when I needed a dialogue.  It was terrifying, because he was the first person to see all the parts of myself that I hate and claim to love me for it.  Even when I pushed away, he was there.  Granted, he lives in the UK, so I never had to deal with any of those “let’s meet” conversations (which I probably would’ve shut down right away), but for many years, he was there just to talk to and be sweet talked by.  Like I said, it was what I needed at the time.

Not to mention his influence on my music tastes and the like.  I was mostly punk and metal before First Love came around.  Ugh.  The things we do for love.  But, eventually life started getting in the way.  We both had University (his word, not mine).  Our chances to talk faded away.  I’m glad I got to know him, but I’m happy he got a life outside of the Interwebz.  He deserves so much better than talking to me all the time.

Feel free to discuss your first love!  You know where to find me.