The PostSecret Live Show

I don’t even remember how I fell in love with PostSecret. I think someone mentioned it to me, and I checked it out. It’s not part of my routine to check the Sunday Secrets. I own all the books.

When I went to Virginia to visit my in-laws a few years ago, the only thing I wanted to do was go to the PostSecret exhibit at the Postal Museum.

I’m obsessed. I’m aware, and it’s okay.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, PostSecret was started by Frank Warren in 2005 as an art project. He gave out postcards and asked people to write a secret on them. His goal was to get 365 postcards. He got way more than that.

He started posting secrets he received on his blog. They update every Sunday (hence, Sunday secrets). I enjoy reading the secrets, and I keep a folder of my favorites to use as writing prompts.

I’ve never made it to a PostSecret Live show. I’ve always wanted to, but it seemed that every time one came to town, I already had a prior commitment, or I was going to be somewhere else.

I finally made it this past Tuesday.

When I got there, I realized that I hadn’t known what to expect. I didn’t have any expectations of it, but to me, that was part of the fun.

We were set up in a small theater in San Antonio. The show started with three actors speaking various “secrets” as if they were their own. Their voices broke with laughter or tears. It was powerful.

They flashed secrets on the screen. At the intermission, they encouraged people to tweet about PS #pssantonio, then they flashed tweets with the hashtag on the screen. In the ladies’ room, they had post-it notes and pens. Women wrote on the post-its and put them up on the mirror.

They also had postcards for people two write on, then after break, the actors read the secrets of people in the audience. Then more acting and secrets on screen.

As a finale, they had a Q&A with Frank Warren and with the actors. After that, a book signing where I got to meet the man behind it all.

Frank Warren never intended for PostSecret to become a national phenomena. But I think that it speaks to the fact that people want to make connections with one another. Our secrets isolate us, but they don’t have to. As Frank said, any secret anyone has is shared by someone else.

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I always love live events because the emotion in the room changes the event. In this case, I heard people laugh, gasp, or go hushed after various secrets were read. People cried, and no one cared because others were crying too.

This was a bucket list item for me, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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The 10 Worst Couples in Fiction

There are some pairings that just shouldn’t happen. Sometimes the pairing is so bad that it’s good. And sometimes it’s just… horrible.

  1. Dexter and Rita, Darkly Dreaming Dexter (the book, not the show): In the books, Dexter is a much darker, but also more comedic character. He’s heavily influenced by his Dark Passenger, a force that encourages him to kill, and that isn’t satisfied when Dexter has periods where he doesn’t. In the books, Rita is a mere convenience for him so that he can appear normal. He likes her kids though, because for some reason, he can connect with children. In the first book, he says he picked her because she was damaged, so that they could pretend to be normal together. It added something wonderful to the books, and though he was using her, it also felt like she was getting stability and comfort out of the relationship too.
  2. Archie and Gretchen, Heartsick: He’s a detective, she’s a murderer. When he falls in love with her, she also falls in love with him, in her sick and twisted way. For 10 days she tortures him, leaving him addicted to pain pills. Then she turns herself in. But even prison doesn’t release her hold on him…
  3. Cathy and Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights: Show of hands… who hates this book? In Twilight, this is Bella Swan’s favorite book, and she said she loves it because”I think it’s something about the inevitability. How nothing can keep them apart — not her selfishness, or his evil, or even death, in the end…” I’m sorry, but selfishness and evil is not a romantic pairing in my mind. He wasn’t even an interesting kind of evil…
  4. Romeo and Juliet: Teen suicide is not romantic. Especially because most teens already think everything is forever and dramatic. I’m not saying it’s not a good play, because it is. But to have their names become synonymous with romance? No.
  5. Clarice and Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal: Spoiler alert if you haven’t read Hannibal. The movie ending is waaaay different from the book. (The book was 100 million billion times better.) Okay, I warned you. It was obvious there was some chemistry in Silence of the Lambs. Not necessarily sexual, but a definite connection. In Hannibal, it’s years later, Clarice has had an unremarkable career at the FBI, and Hannibal Lecter escaped. He starts sending her love notes and gifts, talking about how unappreciated she is. And at the end, he captures her and brainwashes her into loving him and traveling with him. It’s creepy, but ultimately powerful. She was drawn to him, and the brainwashing can’t explain all of their connection. I loved this ending. Maybe it’s not love… but it’s definitely something.
  6. Bella and Edward, Twilight, etc.: I really enjoyed Twilight. Honest. I thought it was a fantastic read. I don’t think it was a fantastic book; that’s a different story. Their relationship is everything I warn couples about. Possessive? Check. Controlling? Check. Follows you around? Check. Secretive? Check. Might snap and want to kill you to drain you of your delicious blood? Check. So why do bad couples make for such fun love stories? (Sometimes.)
  7.  Skylar and Walt, Breaking Bad: I hated Skylar. Detested her. Wanted her to go very far away. I think that reason is that she couldn’t make up her mind about anything and blamed everyone else. If she had left Walt when she found out he was cooking meth, I would have totally been on her side. If she went all badass and decided to become his partner, but hadn’t whined and bitched about it, I would have loved it. But she did whine and bitch and jump in a pool in a creepy, quasi-suicidal way, and I hated her for it. Many times, I figure that bad characters are good for a show, but she served no purpose in my mind. In other news, I loved the on again off again bromance between Walt and Jesse, and was sad when they became estranged and never really made up.
  8. Mickey and Mallory, Natural Born Killers: I’m pretty sure that murdering your way across the country and wanting to be famous for it falls under the heading of “toxic relationships.” Yet it was interesting, because like Clarice and Lecter, their relationship was founded in some legit chemistry. It was a fantastic movie, and everything about their relationship was so bad that it was good.
  9. Anakin and Padme, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, The Clone Wars: Usually I pretend these movies don’t exist, so I hesitated even including them, but the list couldn’t possibly be complete without them. Speaking of chemistry, they had none. There was nothing believable about this paring. I love Natalie Portman, so it probably wasn’t her fault, but everything about this was terrible. Anakin was not a believable pre-Darth Vadar. I never really wondered what happened to Luke & Leia’s mother, and after these movies, I’m still pretending that I don’t know. If, by some miracle, you’ve never watched these, don’t. Don’t do that to yourself.
  10. Rick and Lori, The Walking Dead (the graphic novel & the show): Ah, Lori. Another universally hated character. She had no idea what she wanted. And I realize that many of us don’t, and that could be a way of connecting to her as a character, but it didn’t work. Because she was all over the place. She yelled at Rick that he had to get rid of Shane, and then when he did, she acted like he’d done something wrong. I really don’t begrudge her affair with Shane because I believe she thought Rick was dead. In the middle of a zombie apocalypse, it’s understandable that you’d want to connect with someone else. But that was the last thing she did that I understood. She was always letting her young son run off in the middle of the apocalypse and saying the wrong thing to everyone. And it wasn’t like she was just awkward and said the wrong thing the way most of us sometimes do; no, she just had a complete lack of empathy toward everyone because she was a self-centered person. Okay… rant over. (I could go on and on. If you hate Lori and want to talk about how much you hate Lori, email me.)

I know there are bad couples out there that I’m totally missing. Tell me what couples you hate or love to hate!

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Book Challenges 2018- Week 6

Popsugar Challenge

(7/50) over 10%!

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A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner (2014)- The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan A friend of mine gave me this book ages ago, and I’ve been wanting to read it, but… well, you know the story of my TBR by now.

It’s a series of essays and short stories written by a young woman who died five days after her graduation from Yale. She wanted to be a writer. After she died, her parents and teachers got together and put this book together.

Some of the stories and essays are fantastic. I particularly liked the title essay. Some of the stories are bleak, and I didn’t enjoy those as much. I’m so impressed that such a young woman wrote such lovely stories though.

Probably the thing that had the most impact on me wasn’t anything in her stories; it was in the Forward, where her professor talks about how Marina kept a list of “Interesting Things,” and that’s part of where she got the idea for her stories. I’m glad she told me that because I would have been wondering. Some of the stories are weird (in a good way) and I would have wondered about a college student thinking of those things.

Overall, it was absolutely worth reading.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(1/12)

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A book you chose for the cover- Release, by Patrick Ness: I tackled this choice by going the the library, looking at the “New YA Fiction” shelf, and grabbing the first book that caught my eye. I like train tracks, and I loved that a boy seems to be dangling from them upside down. The cover has absolutely no relation to what the book is about, but that’s always the challenge, isn’t it?

This is two stories in one. There’s the contemporary story of Adam Thorn and one monumental day in his life, when pretty much everything that can change for him, does. It’s a story about love and loss and sex and family. It was a captivating story. Then there’s the secondary story, about a murdered girl who’s spirit latches on to a fairy queen. And if the spirit doesn’t learn how to let go, the world ends.

I understood all the symbolism and how the stories are meant to relate, but I found the fairy queen portion of the story boring. Generally I love fantastical elements, but this one felt thrown in, like the author didn’t want to leave a great contemporary story alone and added some fantasy just to have it. I read it all, just in case I actually ended up needing to know it for Adam’s story to make sense. I didn’t; I could have skipped it.

Overall I liked this book. I would have loved it if we stuck with Adam.

The Unread Shelf

Total: 1

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

None

2018 Running Total: 13

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

My 18 Favorite Couples in Fiction

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. First off, the sea of pink starting the day after Christmas annoys me. Second, restaurants are always crowded. Third, I prefer incidental romance, like when my husband snaps a picture of something he knows I’ll like, or when he helps me fold laundry without being asked.

That being said, the approach of V-day does make me think about romance. I love romance novels and movies. And I’m totally a shipper! I call out my choices and stick to them. (I still think Twilight would have been better if Bella ended up with Jacob… Team Jacob forever!)

  1. Elizabeth and Darcy, from Pride and Prejudice: I’m a sucker for when people think they hate each other, but then end up in love. They’re both strong characters and end up being so awkward with one another when they start to realize all the ways they were wrong. Their coming together at the end is a delightful payoff.
  2. Eve Dallas and Roarke, In Death series: Eve Dallas is a homicide detective who thinks that cops make bad life partners. Roarke is a former thief/ smuggler, now richest man on the planet. When she has to interview him for a homicide investigation, he romances her with coffee. (My kind of guy!) They dated for a few books, then got married. 58 books into the series, they still love, argue, and negotiate difficulties of two passionate people being married. Part of the reason I love this series is it’s one of the few romances that doesn’t end with “and they lived happily ever after…” There’s so much more to love.
  3. Qhuinn and Blaylock, Lover at Last, the Brotherhood of the Black Dagger (#11): The Brotherhood are vampires sworn to protect their people from the Lessening Society, evil creatures who want to destroy them. Each Black Dagger book focuses on a different couple, and I love them all. Qhuinn and Blaylock are my favorite because the title sums up my feelings… at last! All the other couples had a sense of inevitability about them. But Qhuinn and Blaylock danced around one another in the background for many books, first as friends, then they had a falling out. When they finally get together, it was a beautiful thing. Incidentally, it was the last book in the series that I read. The author was starting to focus on characters who’d been in the background before, who I didn’t care about. Maybe I’ll go back to it someday…
  4. Claire and Jamie, Outlander: I love everything about their romance. I love how they challenge and test one another. Even in book form, their chemistry lights up the page. (I have not watched the TV series) This is another couple who’s story doesn’t stop with marriage, and their devotion to one another is captivating.
  5. Bishop and Miranda, Out of the Shadows: Kay Hooper writes a special crimes book series where the investigators all have some paranormal ability. Bishop created the unit and is in charge. Throughout the series, it’s alluded to that he’s looking for someone. Well, he finally finds her when Miranda Knight, a small town cop, has to call in the FBI for a series of murders. He wronged her a long time ago, and she’s not sure she can forgive him. Something about their chemistry has always spoken to me and made this book my favorite in the series.
  6. Noah and Allie, The Notebook & The Wedding: I know some people who like romantic stories who didn’t like The Notebook, and my guess is that they only saw the movie. I liked the movie, but it loses quite a bit of the power the book had. No matter what comes between them, Noah and Allie love one another fiercely, and nothing can stop them. It’s a beautiful love story set across two books, and even death doesn’t end it.
  7. Katniss and Peeta, The Hunger Games: I was always Team Peeta. I’m a sucker for unrequited, unselfish love, and I never believed, not even for a little while, that Peeta was hunting Katniss. I love that she’s the pragmatic one, and he’s the romantic one, and that we the readers can see her slowly falling in love with him long before she realizes it. The conclusion of the trilogy, while sad, felt right.
  8. Jane & Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre: I know there are people who hate this pairing, who think that Mr. Rochester was selfish and awful. I get it, but they’re wrong. Mr. Rochester is a passionate, proud man, and as such makes mistakes. Yes, he tries to deceive Jane about his lunatic wife, but his reasoning is sound. He doesn’t consider himself to be married, and in today’s world, he could easily get a divorce. See, if he treated the wife in the attic badly, I’d be all about “down with Rochester.” But he doesn’t. He hates her, but still takes good care of her. He deceives Jane, but never intends to hurt her. Jane is fantastic because, in an age when women were blindly submissive, she always does what she thinks is right. Her passion is a barely restrained thing, in an age where a passionate woman could get herself locked up in an insane asylum. These two perfectly complement one another.
  9. Will and Louisa, Me Before You: The first time I read this book, when I finished it, I started back over at the beginning. It spoke to me that much. Louisa never quite fits in anywhere. People are always teasing her about her clothing, the way she acts, and the things she says. Will is perpetually pissed off after the accident that left him paraplegic. At first, they don’t like one another, but as time goes on, they learn that the other one is the only one who really listens and understands. It’s beautiful and sad.
  10. Mia and Adam, If I Stay & Where She Went: Mia and Adam are brought together by their mutual love of music. Adam feels comfortable with Mia and her family in a way he’s never felt before. When a car accident kills her whole family, Mia learns about it from her coma, and realizes she has the power to stay or to go. She looks back on times with her family and with Adam as she makes her decision. I haven’t seen the movie, but the book gave me all the feels.
  11. Mulder and Scully, The X-files: I was on board for them to confess their love for one another in Season 1! But it didn’t happen that way, and the underlying tension was what made the romance great. I hated any of the rare times they dated or flirted with anyone else, but their close relationship and deep understanding of one another made me certain they were meant to be together. That’s part of the reason I’m enjoying the new series, even though it seems they’re together-but-not-quite. No one understands them the way the other does.
  12. Jim and Pam, from The Office: I didn’t even want to watch the stupid show. My husband started and thought it was funny. As often happens, he watched several episodes before something caught my attention, and then I was done. Throughout all 9 seasons, I was rooting for them, and I loved that their love story continued (and had conflict) even after they got married.
  13. Admiral Adama and Laura Roslin, Battlestar Galactica: BSG is not a romance series, and of all the romances that happen, this one is probably the most subtle. I doubt it’s making anyone else’s list, but I love it. They’re both a little older than are typically focused on for romance, but I think that’s part of what makes it great. They don’t get along at first. I don’t even think they respect one another at first. (OMG, this is just like P&P… no wonder I love it.) But slowly they start to learn how to work together, until at one point, Adama admits to his son, “I can’t live without her.” What makes that statement even more poignant is that she’s dying, and everyone knows it.
  14. Harry and Sally, When Harry Met Sally: There are so many amazing scenes in this movie, but the last scene, where Harry confesses his love on New Year’s Eve, is romance gold. They were enemies, then they were friends, then they fell in love. It seems to happen that way a lot in fiction, and I firmly believe it’s because we see ourselves in the people we hate, and overcoming that is like learning to love yourself.
  15. Prince Henry and Danielle, Ever After: I’ve always loved Cinderella stories, but I love this one best because: 1. Hello, Drew Barrymore. 2. Danielle isn’t some milquetoast heroine waiting to be rescued. Nope, she challenges Prince Henry, and he becomes a better man because of it.
  16. Han Solo and Leia, Star Wars: They hate each other until they don’t. Their relationship is volatile but based on respect. Even in the more recent movies, when they’ve been broken up, it was still obvious how much they loved one another. I liked how it showed that a broken up couple can still love one another, even if they shouldn’t be together.
  17. Kate and Luc, French Kiss: When Kate’s fiancé goes to Paris for a medical conference and meets the love of his life, Kate overcomes her fear of flying to follow him and win him back. She ends up teaming up with a French con man, Luc, who shows her why the one who left wasn’t good enough for her in the first place.
  18. Honorable mention: Rick and Daryl, The Walking Dead: I realize that they’re not a couple, but their bromance is the best. It’s not uncommon for women in books and movies to have close friendships, but we rarely see it with men. These two have such amazing chemistry that many of the best scenes are just the two of them. Seeing them go from enemies to brothers has been one of my favorite things on the show.

Did I miss any? Who are your favorite romantic couples, in books or TV/ movies?

How to Become An Early Bird in 13 Easy Steps

Step 1: Pick a time to wake. Make sure it’s in the middle of winter, preferably early enough to wake up in the dark.

Step 2: Try to go to sleep early. Toss and turn for about a half hour before giving up and going to watch Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.

Step 3: When your alarm goes off, hit the snooze button. Then hit it again. And again. And… one more time.

Step 4: Get out of bed, mumbling how ridiculous it is to wake up in the middle of the freaking night. That it would be easier just not to go to sleep. Channel your inner Garfield and say repeatedly, “I’d like mornings better if they started later.”

Step 5: Look longingly at your coffee pot and cry a little, since you gave up caffeine a few months ago.

Step 6: Force yourself to get through the day, telling yourself that being exhausted will make it easier to sleep that night.

Step 7: Start to wake up around 8 p.m. By 10 p.m., be at peak creativity and wakefulness. Don’t bother to go to bed. Reason that if you keep forcing yourself awake early, you’ll eventually be ready to sleep early.

Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7 for several days.

Step 9: Be thrilled that you can sleep in on Saturday. Stay up until midnight or so on Friday night, gleeful in the feeling that things are back to normal, at least for two days.

Step 10: Wake at 5:45 a.m. on Saturday for NO REASON.

Step 11: Curse a lot. Ask questions like, “Brain, why do you hate me?”

Step 12: Convince yourself that you actually liked getting up early, that it’s good for you.

Step 13: Come Monday morning, repeat Steps 1- 9. Pretend you like it.

2018 Book Challenges- Week 5

Popsugar Challenge

(6/50) over 10%!

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A book with song lyrics in the title- She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb This was the first Wally Lamb book I’ve ever read, and it was pretty good. I did enjoy it, but the relentless awfulness of Delores’s life started to get to me after awhile. Luckily, it had a happy ending there, but for awhile, I was getting ready to swear off literary novels. This book is the one that ultimately inspired my post 10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings.

While I Was Reading Challenge

(0/12) No progress

The Unread Shelf

Total: 1

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

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Still Me, by Jojo Moyes This is the third book in the Me Before You series. I didn’t even know there would be/ should be/ could be a third book. I’m always leery of series, never sure if I should continue them or leave the world as is. I found out about it through Goodreads and lasted about 24 hours before I bought it on Kindle. I loved rejoining the adventures of Louisa. This was a perfect sequel, and hopefully the end of the series.

2018 Running Total: 11

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

10 Reasons I Love Happy Endings

This post applies to all book types EXCEPT horror. I’m fine with everyone being dead at the end of a horror book/ movie.

  1. I read to take a break from real life. While I don’t mind a good depressing book, life is difficult enough without reality intruding in my entertainment. A lot of bad things happen in real life, and we can’t always count on them ending well. It’s important that books end on a hopeful note.
  2. When I live with a character in my head for several hundred pages, I want good things to happen for them. I start to enjoy spending time with a character as if they were my friend. Therefore, I prefer that things work out for them.
  3. Sad endings can make me introspective, but happy endings are uplifting. When I’ve read a book with a roller coaster ride between the pages and then a happy ending that feels right (not forced), it can make me feel cheerful the rest of the day.
  4. I believe that most problems have solutions. What I mean by that is that often when there’s a depressing ending, it happens, not exclusively because of circumstance, but also because of people’s choices. I like it when a character engages in problem solving to find a solution to a problem, and I think it sets an excellent example for readers.
  5. I believe that people can be happy in spite of circumstances. What do lottery winners have in common with paralyzed accident victims? This is not a joke.  ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… One year after the incident, they both tend to return to baseline levels of happiness. When a book has a happy ending despite bad things that happen, it means that people can triumph over anything. Happiness has to do with the individual, not the circumstances.
  6. They combat the negativity that seems to get the most airtime. I can’t get on social media without seeing something about some celebrity feud, someone complaining that someone is talking about them behind their back, arguing over politics. And don’t even get me started on the news. Ugh. If we believe the information we’re inundated with, we’re all the wrong shape or size, everyone is mean and wouldn’t give a glass of water to a dying man, and if you’re not “with” my politician, it must mean you hate me and everything I stand for. I don’t believe any of that BS. It’s nice to read about relationships working out, people talking through their differences, and people lending helping hands. It’s even nice to occasionally read about people discussing politics without creating Hatfield/ McCoy feuds.
  7. Hope matters. For those of you who don’t know about 13 Reasons Why, it’s a book about a girl who leaves a tape behind to be passed to the thirteen people she feels contributed to her suicide. It’s both a book and later became a Netflix series. It was under controversy because many teens cited the book as triggering them to attempt (or in some cases, tragically complete) suicide. If books can have such a negative impact, why can’t they also have positive ones?
  8. Happy does not equal shallow. I think that sometimes people equate depressing books with emotional richness and thought provoking, while dismissing books with happy endings. Do you know how much harder it is to be positive than to be negative? Try it sometime. Go forth in the world with a smile and a kind word for everyone, and see how difficult it can be. I love books that put a character through a difficult struggle and end up deserving the happy ending.
  9. Heroes should always triumph over villains. If we don’t believe that the light side of the force will always ultimately triumph over the dark side, then what’s the point? Maybe good doesn’t always triumph over evil in real life, but it should. Maybe the detective doesn’t always catch the murderer or find the kidnapping victim in real life, but he should.
  10. I want to feel like there’s a point. When I read a book that’s depressing for hundreds of pages, and then ends on a bleak note, I often feel like, “Well, what was the point of that?” We all know that bad things happen and that sometimes people never recover. It seems meaningless. When I see people suffer for hundreds of pages but ultimately triumph, I often feel like, “Wow, that person didn’t let anything stop them from reaching their goal.” When I did therapy, I used to ask my groups a question: What’s the difference between success and failure? There’s only one difference… the successful people never quit. If you try something 1,000 times, fail 999 of those times but only succeed once, people will call you a success. I like books that show that.

What do you think? Do you prefer happy endings or endings when things don’t work out? Do you agree or disagree with any of my reasoning?