Beautiful Boy

This one tugged some heart strings. (Thank you instructor for making me watch it…) And perhaps because I was supposed to be watching it with a therapist’s eye, more of it struck home.
It feels like such a hopeless story, but you remind yourself that it is based on the autobiographies of both David Scheff and Nic Scheff, father and son, played by Steve Carell ans Timothée Chalamet. I think Carell’s performance is heartbreak worthy. How do you love somebody so so deeply, and accept the fact that there is nothing you can do to help them?
I think it is easy for people to think they would never fall into the trap of drug abuse. We see these people who abuse drugs out on the street, and it is so easy to turn your nose up. But I can admit that I am no stranger to having felt so utterly, soul flying, happiness. And I would climb mountains to feel it again. But instead I am here, in the real world, where people are selfish, and angry. Where people point out all the things you do wrong, rather than acknowledge the things you are doing right. That is the pressure we are under every day. And so Nic Scheff ran away from reality.
What bothered me the most was that it is clear that Nic is suffering from some major mental and emotional turmoil. He admits to not being able to handle reality. The focus was so strongly placed on rehab, rehab, rehab. When one professor/doctor straight up told David Scheff that the success rates of drug rehab was in the single digits.
What pains me is that this is how it is. Let’s have better gun control laws, because that will stop school shootings. But that is NOT what is going to stop school shootings. We need better mental health resources. Let’s kick the homeless people out of the park, because they make our city look trashy. But that is NOT going to decrease the homeless population. More mental health resources might better help those with mental health issues to have higher stability rates. Drug rehab centers? I don’t honestly know, I have zero experience. But it is no secret that people who abuse drugs are trying to numb a pain.
I don’t think this was why the instructor made us watch this film. But it is a heart wrenching story, and it reminds you of how deeply people can struggle.

The Duke

But honestly, how can one NOT want to go out and try to make the world a better a better place after seeing this film?
It was cast excellently. A solid mix of amazing knowns, and newer faces who held their own. Directed by Roger Mitchell, who adored Jim Broadbent, and Broadbent adored him. Unfortunately, Mitchell passed away right before his film premiered.
Based on a true story, the idea was originally proposed by Kempton Bunton’s (played by Broadbent) real son. Set in a small English town in the early 60s. At the time, anyone who owned a TV with the capability of receiving the BBC channel, was required to pay for a license to watch it. Bunton whole heartedly believed that pensioners had worked hard enough and shouldn’t have to pay for this license. To the point of sitting at a booth in the rain, to actual jail time.
The rebellion is obviously a message for greater injustices. The 60s, while full of free love and aloofness, was also a time of incredible cries for justice and equality.
Don’t believe that this film is some serious, stand for what is right. It is an absolute romp. I may have been the only non-silver in the theater, but I laughed through the whole thing. Bunton is portrayed as a ridiculous, unfiltered, lover of life. He is also a writer. Writing such incredible ideas as, what if Jesus had been a woman? His play, about a woman named Susan Christ.. Broadbent did his character such justice, and then some.
And while the license requirement WAS eventually abolished for pensioners, it happened long after Bunton had passed.
Watch the film, and feel the fire in your belly to stand up for what you believe in, unapologetically, no matter how small it may be.

The girl who kept her heart behind a glass door in her chest

There once was a young woman, whose skin was hard and silver, and whose heart was made of precious stone. She kept it behind a glass door in her chest, and at night it would glow like the full moon at midnight. She lived deep in the forest where she danced to the music of the breeze blowing through the leaves and the laughter of the gently, flowing creek. Each night under the smiling moon, her skin would sparkle like diamonds, and her heart would shine like the bright, Northern star. And each night, men would come to the forest, drawn to her, intrigued by her light. And she would open the glass door in her chest for their pleasure, and she would feel so alive. 

But as the night began to lose to the dawn, the bright sun would push the moon away, and dim the glow of her heart. And the men, drawn stronger to the warm and encompassing sun that brought the world to life, would shut the glass door in her chest, and leave her. 

And each time the door shut; a crack would form across her heart. Until finally it had become so fragile, she feared to open the door ever again. 

She locked the glass door in her chest and sat down on a low rock. She sat while the moon danced in the sky with the sun, while one season acquiesced to the next. She sat while the leaves fell from the branches, and the creek was lulled to sleep. She sat as the air grew cold, and frost began to cover her hard and silver skin. 

And as the moon held dominion over the sky, a man came through the forest. He was drawn to her frozen, still form. Such a woman, with fallen leaves all around her, staring towards a creek that didn’t flow. Such a woman, whose silver skin had become tarnished and covered in frost. Such a woman, whose heart was locked behind a glass door in her chest. 

His warm thumb drew a trail through the frost on her cheek, and he thought, if such a woman were to dance under a smiling moon.. (unfinished)

Easter Gifts

I made a lovely meal for one on Easter. The leftovers took me a long way…

Lamb Choppers, with Blueberry Sauce, Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and Sauteed Green Beans.

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Round Two:


Leftover Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Apple, Date, and Bacon stuffed bone-in Pork Chop. And Sauteed Green Beans with Bacon and Honey.

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Round Three:

Goat Cheese Mashed Potato Gnocchi, in Rosemary Lemon Cream Sauce, and Chicken with leftover Blueberry Sauce.

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Round Four:

Farfalle in Rosemary Lemon Cream Sauce, with Arugala, and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Marinated (huge) Chicken Boob.

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Last Round:

Apple Date Stuffing, Brie, and Arugula Grilled Cheese

Morning Rain

The rain here is astounding. I can see it through my bedroom window, falling like heavy, heaven’s tears. Like, a gentle waterfall I am standing behind, glimpsing the world beyond the water. In the mornings sunlight blesses my room. I can see cracks of blue sky in the distance, and I am sure I could see rainbows were I on the otherside of the apartment. And I watch it bounce off the cement like jovial children jumping in puddles. The sound on the roof like amplified nothing. The nothing noise that a dead channel makes. I grew up in Alaska, where it rains more than the sun shines. I call myself a water baby. But the rain did not fall with such poetry as it does here. Coming on gently, and then falling with the authority of a symphonic peak. It does not let you ignore its presence.

Beef Stews of the World

I love beef, and I particularly love beef stew. I had really only known of the bigger known stews from Ireland, and France. I began to think, surely there are delicious stews from other countries as well. I did some research and this is what I found.

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Irish Beef Stew

Special ingredient: Guinness

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French Beef Stew

Beouf Bourguignon

Special Ingredient: Red Wine

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Belgian Beef Stew

Carbonnade a la Flamande

Special Ingredients: Belgian Beer, Brown Sugar, Dijon Mustard

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Chinese Beef Stew

Special Ingredients: Soy Sauce, Chinese Cooking Wine, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Ginger

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Vietnamese Beef Stew

Bo Kho

Special Ingredients: Lemongrass, Chinese 5 Spice, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Coconut Water

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Argentine Beef Stew

Carbonada

Special Ingredients: Sweet Potato, Acorn Squash, Frozen Corn, Apricots

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Moroccan Beef Stew

Special Ingredients: Cinnamon, Cumin, Ginger, Apricots

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Jamaican Beef Stew

Special Ingredients: Soy Sauce, Allspice, Scotch Bonnet

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Puerto Rican Beef Stew

Carne Guisada

Special Ingredients: Sofrito, Light Beer, Adobo Seasoning, Sazon, Green Olives

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Ethiopian Beef Stew

Siga Wot

Special Ingredients: Ghee, Ginger, Berbere

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Then I decided to take it full circle.

Dublin Coddle

Special Ingredients: Beef Sausage, Dark Beer, Bacon

College Behind Bars

I think a lot about prison, and our prison systems. This documentary series brings a lot of warmth to my heart. Presented by the renown Ken Burns, this is a look at college opportunities for inmates. It is an idea that a lot of people are against. One such mother expresses her feelings bluntly, these inmates commit crimes and go to prison and are getting a free education, while she is working and paying for her other children to get their education. She states they might as well commit crimes too. But how can you call it a “correctional facility” if you deny the opportunity to correct themselves. As well, not all inmates are cold-blooded killers. A teenager can be sent to prison via the three-strikes law for mere possession of marijuana. Battered women can be sent to prison for defending themselves from the battery. And once they enter those facilities, they are immediately shackled with the identity of “criminal” which will hold them back for the rest of their lives. Believe it or not, education is what decreases recidivism. Without this sort of opportunity, a prisoner merely serves their time, returns to the world, they face all the doors that are closed to them due to the label of “criminal,” job opportunities, housing assistance, etc, and they are forced back into a life of crime.
What this documentary highlighted was the mere act of giving these inmates something to live for, a goal, a reason to work to be better. And I am so astounded by how determined they were. You hear their stories and feel the hopelessness, and admire their will to keep going.

Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods. Not Chadwick Boseman’s most astounding performance, but it was his second to last film. A film about black Americans fighting in the Vietnam war. The film had deep messages, and seemed to emulate Muhammad Ali’s argument for refusing the draft, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam after so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” It was a movie about the intense brotherhood that war creates between its soldiers. And it paid a great amount of respect to the Vietnam people, and what they suffered, and are still suffering today.
Although, it then becomes slightly less deep, political message, and more international treasure hunt, crime boss double cross, intense shoot out… with a dash of strained romance, and an emphasis on the importance of assistance for veterans and PTSD…
It was an action film with a political message about our nation, made after the election of our 45th president.

While the City Slept

I read a lot of books like this, and in truth, I do start to get them all mixed up. Because it is always the same story. Always the same justice system failing. And I especially hate it when the added factor of mental health is brought into the mix.
While the City Slept, by Eli Sanders, is uncomfortably detailed. Thorough detail into the victim’s histories. And just as thorough detail into the crime. And you feel scared, and angry, and heartbroken.
And at the heart of this story, is just how preventable this horrendous crime could have been. One of the horrible truths about this nation is its fear of mental health. How people just don’t want to look at it or think about it. If we don’t acknowledge it, it’s not there, right? When the truth is, nobody, NOBODY is immune to mental health problems. But when nobody wants to acknowledge that it is a problem, money begins to get pulled from the mental health systems, rather than go into it. Without resources, our most severely sick are not getting treatment, or the same chance at a stable life that the rest of us get. Without resources, our most severely sick end up in prisons, rather than treatment facilities. And that is an absolutely unjust place for them.
This book is still haunting me a little bit, because I absolutely get it. I feel it, and I am just as upset.

Pray Away

I watch alot of documentaries on this subject, and L.G.B.T.Q, and all of the mental trauma involved.
L.G.B.T.Q individuals are born at a mental and emotional disadvantage. When Oliver Sacks, renown neurologist, admitted to his mother that he was homosexual, all she said was, “I wish you had never been born.”
This film, while following less severe forms of conversion therapy, were still appalling. Non-licensed individuals providing therapy, suggesting that homosexuals are the products of childhood sexual trauma. When it was said that there was no sexual trauma, they were manipulated into thinking they had merely suppressed the memory of it. To assume that this “behavior” is the result of past trauma, that you are PLANTING there is sick.
The documentaries on trans individuals emphasize the self harm and suicide attempts resulting from the internal confusion and lack of acceptance. Conversion therapy was exactly the same. “Why can’t you just obey?” “Don’t you want to be normal?” One woman talks about going home and burning herself. And how she felt a catharsis by doing it. They could change their behavior and smile and act the right way, but it was all a lie. Inside, nothing had changed.  And they couldn’t understand why they felt so empty.
A poignant moment was when survivors of conversion therapy sit down and speak to the presidents and founders of one of the largest conversion therapy networks, and express the damage they suffered going through the therapy. And a moment when one founder is watching the news after Proposition 8 passed, and saw the masses of people protesting against Proposition 8, and his heart broke because he realized he had helped pass a motion that was hurting his own people.
You can’t deny who you are. You can’t change who you are. It doesn’t make sense to say that an all-loving God created you, yet can’t love you.
And the most tragic part, is that these networks still exist.