This Child

So, I know I do this a lot, but I just stumbled upon an old poetry assignment from high school… based upon the first Walt Whitman poem I ever read. I thought it was lost, but it was on an old flash-drive I recently dug up. Considering the huge effect that Walt Whitman’s poems have had on me since then, it feels like a gift to have rediscovered it.

My classmates and I were told to write our own poems based on Walt Whitman’s poem, “There was a child went forth everyday,” but to shape it around our own lives, and it had to end with Whitman’s own words, which I will italicize. I was 15/16 when I wrote it… might take a crack and writing a new one sometime, to reflect new experiences.

For Olde Poetry Monday, enjoy!

This Child

Doctors and white walls were a part of this child,
Needles in arms and IV’s in foreheads,
A bit of blood turned into life-saving power,
For one tiny, incubated figure,
Too frail to even utter a cry,
And as the years went on, the scar grew smaller,
Serving only to gently remind
Of painful days and cold linoleum.

Summerville was a part of this child,
The town where the sun never died,
Shoes weren’t needed, and southern drawls summoned,
From across the street,
This child’s head was filled,
With impossible dreams of otters,
And pretending that the backyard was some far-off land,
Though the boat she made out of cardboard
Never floated anywhere,
She was happy.

Books and rain-streaked windows were a part of this child,
This child, who sat in her closet for hours,
Wishing that she could find Narnia.
She thought that simply howling at the moon would make her a wolf,
And even though it was only a game,
She really thought was the World’s Greatest Pokemon Trainer.
And that she and her blonde-haired best friend,
Really could fly when they sat on the swingset,
And flung their shoes out over the mulch to see whose went the furthest.

Soccer fields were a part of this child,
A checkered ball hammered into the left corner,
And cleats smudged by mud and dew-kissed grass,
The freedom to run from white line to white line,
Avoiding elbows and knees, ignoring harsh words,
Enduring practice in sweltering heat,
Striving to become worthy of that pale green jersey,
And the number ‘3,’ emblazoned in white,
In the end, the cleats proved too big.
And she traded the jersey in for a pen and paper.

Terrified screams were a part of this child,
Being chased by the Licorice at Hershey Park,
Pursuing a hug that she did not want to relinquish,
To some creep in red and white, with a never-fading smile.
But screams turned into peals of laughter,
During remembered hours of hide-and-seek,
Out on the lake, fishing with Dad in the grey of the morning,
Setting the bass free that was meant to be breakfast.
And at sleepovers, when staying up until 11:00 was an incredible feat,
And we waited for the first girl to fall victim to sleep,
So her face could be decorated,
With the vibrant colors of a marker box.

Awkward silences were a part of this child,
A struggle to fit in, once moving vans carried a cherished friend away,
And the halls grew longer, the crowds heavier,
But friends were made at last, and kept,
The ‘See you soon’s’ written in the yearbooks became sincere,
And the taunts became distant echoes,
No longer heard in her ears.
Instead, laughter rang out in summer nights,
As fireworks crackled in the driveway,
Car rides down Friendship Avenue became adventures,
And text messages almost always exceeded 160 words.

Accidents were a part of this child,
Taking a horseshoe to the head,
Running headlong into a telephone pole,
That day, the race wasn’t much,
The competition poor,
But she ran her hardest, regardless of a sure-thing,
The steps were miscalculated,
But the baton left her palm,
Her feet left the red rubber,
The race won, but something else lost,
The only standing ovation she ever received,
Rang in her ears, even in the Emergency Room.

Boston was a part of this child,
Golden ducks at Boston Commons,
And free chocolate bars from the cute guy at Starbucks,
A house shared between 12 teens and 3 adults,
Attempting to share 3 bathrooms.
Something was found on the grey-paved streets,
Floating on the cold, salty Atlantic,
And in the embers of a towering campfire,
Perhaps it wasn’t what she intended to find there,
But it was real,
And those sharing the memories may be scattered,
But she can look at a simple cone of ice cream,
And remember,
That seven day journey to understanding.

Comic books were a part of this child,
All of her dreams packed into one word balloon,
Accentuated with sound effects in all the right places,
Inspired by vigilantes and men in masks.
Microsoft Word files exceeding 540 pages,
And a burning desire to see her name in print.
Will drive this child to pursue a new life,
If only this child can stave off procrastination,
To reach her distant dreams.

These became a part of that child who went forth every day,
And who now goes,
And will always go forth every day.

Film Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Dir: André Øvredal
Starring: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint
Runtime: 1hr 47min
Spoiler Level: Light!

When my class had library periods in elementary school, back in the late nineties/early 2000’s, there was one book series that had a waiting list – the Scary Stories books by Alvin Schwartz. Whispers of the terrifying stories and the even more petrifying illustrations (by Stephen Gammel) rippled rampantly through my peers, with many claiming that they had trouble sleeping at night after reading such creepy tales.

When I finally got my hands on the books they did not disappoint, and many of the stories – and legendary artwork – have stuck in my mind and sent shivers down my spine years and years afterward. So when I heard there was going to be a film adaptation, produced by Guillermo del Toro, I was hoping to see the monsters from my childhood come to life.

Scary_Stories_to_Tell_in_the_Dark_film_logoSet in a small Pennsylvania town in the fall of 1968, Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark follows a group of teenagers who accidentally incur the wrath of the spectral Sarah Bellows after removing her book of “scary stories” from the basement of a haunted house on Halloween night. They must find a way to appease Sarah, or become the stars of their own scary stories…with less than pleasant endings.

Since the original books are more or less anthologies featuring ghost stories, cautionary tales, and folklore, the film isn’t a straight-up adaptation. Instead, references are peppered throughout an over-arcing narrative that has been constructed for the film, and many of the most memorable “monsters” and stories make appearances with clear inspiration from Gammel’s original artwork. It’s a decision that works well, because fans of the books get to see characters like “Harold” and experience some of the best tales, with some fresh twists, while the unfamiliar can follow along without feeling lost.

The film employs familiar tropes connected to the horror genre – jump scares, a jarring neck snap or two, straw-spewing, the usual – but it manages to balance telling a well-paced story for the uninitiated while also aiming to please fans of the books. The music builds tension where it needs to without being overwhelming, which can be difficult in films where sound is so critical to the atmosphere. 

The plot – a group of teens aiming to appease a vengeful spirit of sorts or face untimely or maybe even slightly comical deaths – isn’t unfamiliar, but it works, mainly because it never tries to break the boundary and veer into “too much” territory. The cast function like a slightly more sinister version of the Scooby Doo crew, and though some receive more development than others, it’s easy to feel and empathize with the characters as their lives spiral into chaos and their friends start dropping like flies. Sure, the film doesn’t do anything revolutionary in terms of horror. It’s not Hereditary, or Get Out, or A Quiet Place. But it doesn’t have to be – and it’s easy, while watching it, to forget that certain features and characters are gleaned from a series of books intended for children.

Overall, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is not super scary, earning a PG-13 rating. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t jump in my seat a few times, and I’m not easily swayed by the genre, so even if it is a bit tamer than horror films with a higher rating, it can definitely frighten children and might lead to some sleepless nights, though fans of the books may be more affected by the scares than others. Seriously… The Pale Lady was terrifying in the book, and she’s just as scary onscreen, especially knowing that she was created using practical effects. 

If a spooky night at the theater is what you’re after, then Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a solid choice – not too scary, not too long, and not too much.

Overall rating: 8/10

The Choices We Make

I have technically been an adult for 9 years, but in many ways, I feel like I’m not quite there. I sometimes forget that I am the master of my own destiny, the bearer of my own burdens, the navigator on my own stretch of road, and I determine the path, and how to handle the obstacles that arise. I can go out, buy a whole cake, and eat it all by myself if I feel like it, with no one but my conscience to stop me.

I’ve wanted a Nintendo Switch for a while now, and planned to buy one next month. Thanks to an employee special at work, I would be able to get one for a great price. And then, come November, I’d be playing Pokemon Shield, and making my way across the Galar region. And there would be a lot of Mario Kart, and maybe some Let’s Go Eevee! until then. Plus, I could play online with my two best friends – Mario Party is great fun when the three of us play together.

But I had my car inspection this week on my beloved Nissan, Vice. It has been a long while since I’ve needed anything done to it – I usually breeze through inspection with maybe a couple of tweaks, nothing major. So it was time, and $337 later, my wallet was a bit thinner than I would like it to be – and I’m looking at new tires in the near-ish future. Which won’t come cheap.

And so, I had a moment of clarity – that the choices we make can reflect where we are in our lives, and our values. I have bailed on plans because I don’t have the funds, but have also spent money on things that aren’t necessities. No matter how badly I want that Switch, it is going to have to wait until my Nissan has some new tires, even if I miss my initial chance to become the champion of the Galar League. So, I must be an adult for now… but eventually, play time will come around again.

 

Boop

Like all dignified cat owners, I love to give my cat, Reese, little ‘boops.’ Boops on the nose, boops on the head, etc. However, much like me, Reese also spurns the majority of affectionate gestures, so she typically acts incredibly affronted when I do this to her, and then ignores me for hours afterward.

Here is a pic of the demon, for reference. My adorable, antisocial tortoise-shell kitty. She’s about twelve now – but she’ll always be a “kitten” to me. She does love the occasional cuddle, but only on her terms.

20190314_1131009165462623960138011.jpg

Recently, Reese has taken to laying behind the living room couch, which is a decent sized strip of carpet that leaves plenty of room for her to loll around, and she can see when people come and go from the house through the stair banister.

Recently, I came home from an outing – I believe from my viewing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – and Reese was waiting patiently behind the couch. She stuck her head through the bars of the banister and meowed eagerly at me, likely upset that I’d left her so long without food, not at the simple joy of seeing me return from being gone somewhere.

On a whim, I stuck my face toward her. Normally, she shies away from such gestures, but she tentatively stuck her head further toward me… and she booped my nose with her nose. Her little pink, velvet nose booped mine, like a tiny kiss.

I was stunned. She’s never done anything of the sort before, and she immediately scooted away from me afterward, so I almost didn’t believe it had happened. I filled her bowl with food, and she chowed down, the moment forgotten. But my heart was warmed… and even if it never happens again, I will always remember that boop. I will treasure it.

It truly is the little things, isn’t it?

This next week…

The dreaded black cloud known as “Inventory” looms above me at work this week.

My brain is fried already. Last week, I spent two hours attempting to find barcode numbers for over a hundred miscellaneous pairs of men’s underwear. I struggled to differentiate between at least 6 different types of jeggings. We received a massive shipment of winter sweaters that we aren’t allowed to put out yet, so we had to find a place to stow them. I discovered that our entire bra section had been mis-tagged during a marking event, which meant the entire department needed to be redone in less than a week. I banged my knee on a stepladder, then broke a door off of a jewelry case – in separate incidents.

So… in short… this post is a dud. I have a 12 hour shift on Tuesday, and I need to conserve all mental energy for it. But there will be a better post on Friday.

Just a Moment…

This week, landscapers came to do some yard work at our house. So, being the occasionally nice human being that I am, I figured I would park my car in the street so they could pull into the driveway, which would hopefully make it easier for them to get their work done.

The issue is, I forgot to do this the night before. So when I blearily awoke, around 7:40 AM, I remembered the plan and dragged myself out of bed to go and move my car. It would only take a moment, I thought. So, frizzy-haired, in my PJs, and with my feet shoved in my mom’s too-big clogs, I clambered into my Nissan and maneuvered down the driveway, then pulled into the street…

…only to realize it was also trash day. So the trash and recycling bins were set up on the curb. I would have to park a little further down to give the trash truck room, but that would mean parking adjacent to a neighbor’s car, and thus, making it even more difficult for the truck to get by. Plus, I was dangerously close to my other neighbor’s property line. Since she is a horrid person, I didn’t want to give any reason to set her off.

So, I figured, I’ll just swing around the block and park along the street on the other side of my driveway. Yet again, I thought, it would only take a moment…

… except I saw the familiar brown of a UPS truck lumbering down the street in my rearview as I swung around the corner. I looped the block, then, as I made my way down my street, I saw the UPS truck parked in front of our house. Right where I needed to park. And because one of my neighbors parks his big honkin’ red truck right on the rim of our property, I had to wait in the middle of the road for the UPS truck to move.

And I waited… for five minutes. Which, needless to say, is more than a moment. I would have gotten out and asked him to move outright, but because I looked like a troll, I didn’t feel like making my presence known. Eventually, he moved and went about his business, and I was able to park my car well out of the way of all passing trucks, both mail and trash, and leaving the driveway clear for the landscapers.

The whole process took about seven minutes. Which is hardly just a moment… so maybe, I would be better off expecting the unexpected from now on.

And the best part?

…The landscapers didn’t even park in the driveway.

Hall of Fame pt. 2

Much like my post last Monday, where I detailed my return to Pokemon Alpha Sapphire after a five year hiatus, I picked up Pokemon Moon this past week, determined to conquer it. I got to the Team Skull base in Po Town last time around, but never actually finished the game.

This time, when I booted up a new file, I amended a past wrong – in my first failed run, I chose Litten as my starter. But I chose Popplio for this attempt, because I have always had my best results when I’ve chosen the water starter. Water starters 4life. Though Primarina is definitely my least favorite of the water starters thus far.

Alola definitely isn’t my favorite region – none of them come close to Johto, for me – but I did admire the changes the games implemented. The trials were fun, though I much prefer standard gyms. Z moves were fun, but I kind of missed Mega Evolution. The Alolan dex is also my least favorite dex, though I LOVE the Alolan variants of the Kanto Pokemon, like Raichu and Marowak. The story-line was compelling, though I’m not sure I’ll delve too deep into the post-game. I’ve been wandering a bit, collecting the Zygarde cells, finding hidden paths, and might just take a peek into what the Ultra Beasts are all about…

However, on this run, I also tried to do things that I normally don’t. I managed to secure a team with a solid theme – half cute, half scary. Team Cute n’ Scary, if you will. And I was super pleased with the balance of my team, as I think I used everyone just about evenly and had a way to combat just about every type of competition. I also finally achieved my goal of using a fairy-type on my main squad. Thus, now that I’ve become Alola’s first Champion, I thought I’d document my team. Team Cute n’ Scary consisted of…

PRIMARINA Merry 
lvl. 59, holding the  Primarium Z
Moves: Hyper Voice, Sparkling Aria, Hydro Pump, Moonblast
HP: 177
Atk: 121
Def. 115
Sp. Atk: 187
Sp. Def: 153
Speed: 91

TOUCANNON Rio
lvl. 59, holding the Sharp Beak
Moves: Beak Blast, Bullet Seed, Drill Peck, Hyper Voice
HP: 184
Atk: 177
Def. 106
Sp. Atk: 112
Sp. Def: 118
Speed: 96

ALOLAN RAICHUMango
lvl. 59, holding the Electrium Z
Moves: Discharge, Echoed Voice, Nuzzle, Psychic
HP: 159
Atk: 128
Def. 90
Sp. Atk: 130
Sp. Def: 123
Speed: 160

MIDNIGHT LYCANROCRiff
lvl. 59, holding the Amulet Coin
Moves: Rock Slide, Stone Edge, Crunch, Counter
HP: 193
Atk: 176
Def. 126
Sp. Atk: 79
Sp. Def: 94
Speed: 137

SYLVEON Poe
lvl. 59, holding the Fairium Z
Moves: Dazzling Gleam, Moonblast, Swift, Draining Kiss
HP: 198
Atk: 124
Def. 99
Sp. Atk: 144
Sp. Def: 177
Speed: 92

ALOLAN MAROWAKZen
lvl. 60, holding the Scope Lens
Moves: Thrash, Flare Blitz, Bonemerang, Flame Charge
HP: 148
Atk: 128
Def. 147
Sp. Atk: 92
Sp. Def: 111
Speed: 97

 

 

 

Duality

There is a butterfly bush in my backyard. It’s not uncommon to spot little winged friends taking a sip of nectar, or catching a break from the hot sun.

The other day, I was looking out the window and spotted two butterflies in the air by the butterfly bush. Both were of decent size, but one had buttery yellow wings, and the other had velvet black. I watched as the two seemed to spar in the air with one another – or maybe it was some type of mating dance, I don’t know – over and over.

It was a bizarre, beautiful dance. They proceeded to flit all around the yard, clashing against one another – light and dark in symbiotic union, until they disappeared from my sight.

Their aerial dance got got me thinking about duality. Light and darkness. Happiness and sorrow. Hatred and love. And how, so often, one does not exist without the other – or we do not realize how vital one is until the other creeps in upon us. Can we ever appreciate our happiness if there was never any sadness in our lives? Can we ever bask in the light without first moving out of darkness?

However, on the other end, we can combat sadness by remembering the happy times that preceded it, and darkness can be less frightening when we know that light is out there. We can battle hatred with love when we know the highs and lows of both. Duality is not fearing one side and embracing the other. It is seeing, and appreciating, and enduring, and being able to accept whatever side we must face, and come out stronger on the other side.

Hall of Fame

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released for the Nintendo 3DS way back in 2014, and, like a good Pokemon trainer, I bought my copy of Alpha Sapphire in advance so it would arrive on release day. But Hoenn has always been my least favorite region, so, as video game burnout set in for me, I played the game for only a couple of sessions and then stopped completely.

I had three badges when I set it down, and my team consisted of a Swellow named Fio, Marshtomp named Warin, Aron named Raze, Mightyena named Jolly,  a Numel named Bram, and an Electrike named Volt.

Recently, I’ve had the itch to play Pokemon again. And I’ve been in a general slump, so I’ve been looking for some things to boost my mood. So last week, I dug out my 3DS, charged it up, and booted up the ol’ Alpha Sapphire save file, five years later.

I can now proudly say I am the champion of the Hoenn League, twice over! But this time I did things differently. I stuck to a few of my general rules, such as keeping the starter on my team the whole time, fully evolving my starter before the fourth gym, and having the entire team be lvl, 60+ before entering Victory Road.

Whenever I played the original games, I had the same team – Swampert, Swellow, Mightyena, Aggron, Absol, and Skarmory. Every time. I always tried to get a Manectric and Camerupt, but always gave up on it, every time. Like I said, Hoenn is my least favorite region, and I never really gravitated toward many of the Pokemon that were added in gen 3. Besides Mudkip, of course. But this time, when I kicked off again, I put Mightyena and Swellow in the box, and replaced them, over time, with a Swablu named Loom and a Girafarig named Griff. I’d always wanted to use both, but never achieved it, so they became main team members, and I hung onto both Numel and Electrike until they evolved. They ended up being the two best Pokemon on my team, stats wise.

And so, now that I’ve swept the League twice, done all the optional mini games and quests, and caught all the legendaries available to me without trading, here was my Hall of Fame team! I was pretty proud of them, so I’m documenting them here!

AGGRON Raze
lvl. 77, holding the Aggronite
Moves: Rock Slide, Rock Smash, Ice Beam, Iron Head
HP: 208
Atk: 202
Def. 294
Sp. Atk: 113
Sp. Def: 139
Speed: 111

CAMERUPT Bram
lvl. 85, holding the Cameruptite
Moves: Fissure, Flamethrower, Will-O-Wisp, Earthquake
HP: 248
Atk: 229
Def. 163
Sp. Atk: 193
Sp. Def: 157
Speed: 123

MANECTRIC Volt
lvl. 80, holding the Manectite
Moves: Bite, Charge, Thunder, Thunderbolt
HP: 233
Atk: 141
Def. 137
Sp. Atk: 202
Sp. Def: 137
Speed: 237

SWAMPERT Warin
lvl. 86, holding the Swampertite
Moves: Earthquake, Surf, Hammer Arm, Scald
HP: 302
Atk: 234
Def. 175
Sp. Atk: 181
Sp. Def: 159
Speed: 141

GIRAFARIG Griff
lvl. 84, holding the Amulet Coin
Moves: Crunch, Psychic, Zen Headbutt, Strength
HP: 249
Atk: 170
Def. 136
Sp. Atk: 201
Sp. Def: 129
Speed: 178

ALTARIA Loom
lvl. 100, holding the Rocky Helmet
Moves: Fly, Moonblast, Dragon Pulse, Draco Meteor
HP: 289
Atk: 215
Def. 206
Sp. Atk: 159
Sp. Def: 252
Speed: 209

 

Maybe I’ll replay Y next…although, I never did finish Moon…