The Keto Issues Blog

This blog entry discusses some of the things that I wish I had known about before starting my Keto journey.

Hello again, readers!  It’s me, Sian, and I’m here with a new blog for you!  As I may have mentioned in one of my blogging blitz posts, I am on the Keto diet.  To give a quick recap, I say no to sugar and carbs and eat a lot of fat, which forces my body to burn through its fat stores for energy.  I’ve lost a significant amount of weight on the diet, and I’m happy with my results.  What I’m not happy with is the little after effects of being in ketosis.  Saying “not happy” may be a bit strong, but I was certainly surprised by some of the changes that my body has undergone while in ketosis.

I just wish that someone would have warned me.  A lot of the websites out there tell you all of the benefits of being in ketosis, and that’s great.  I think it’s important for people to know all of the things that come with being on the keto diet, good or bad.  That way, someone can make an informed decision about whether or not this lifestyle is the best for them.  Also, keep in mind that everyone is different, so it’s possible that you won’t experience some of these issues, or you may experience some that I haven’t.  So, allow me, your humble blog writer, to tell you of some of the not-so-great things I’ve experienced on the Keto diet.

The first thing that no one really tells you about is your increased thirst.  People will tell you that it’s very, very important that you stay hydrated while you’re in ketosis, and that is very true.  Unfortunately, you’ll find that your thirst is pretty near unquenchable.  Obviously, you don’t drink things like soda or sugary drinks anymore, but the things that you can drink will not slake your thirst, no matter how much of it you drink.  Even when you aren’t thirsty, you can still polish off a bottle of water with little trouble.  I was never the type to drink water as soon as I wake up, but now I crave it.  It’s a weird issue to manage.

The second thing that no one really tells you about is…and you may have already guessed this…increased urination.  You will find yourself going to the bathroom a lot.  As soon as you drink that bottle of water, you may find the urge to go.  It’s quite inconvenient as well.  One minute, you’ll be living your best life, and the next you are smacked with the overwhelming need to relieve yourself as soon as possible.  It’s actually a bit funny, thinking back on it.  I just make sure that I’m always near or relatively near a restroom to avoid any potential unpleasantness.

The third thing that no one really tells you about is the smell of your breath.  Now, this was probably the most shocking Keto issue that I’ve come across.  You know how you just breathe into your hand real quick to make sure that your breath is on point?  (Don’t act like I’m the only one who does this, either.)  Well, when you’re in ketosis, your breath will always smell.  Keep in mind; it’s not a bad smell.  It kind of smells like overripe fruit, and let me explain why this happens.  When you are in ketosis, your body will produce certain chemicals.  The most important of these chemicals is ketones, which is what your liver produces to help you burn fat.  Now, what no one tells you is that one of these ketones is called acetone, not the kind of acetone that’s in paint thinner and nail polish.  This is natural acetone that’s normally produced in the body.  When you’re in ketosis, the production of acetone ramps up, and it’s most evident in your mouth, hence the smell.  Lovely.

I’m sure that there are other little side effects that you experience while on the Keto diet, but those are the major three that I’ve come across.  I don’t want you to panic, readers.  From what I’ve seen, this is all fairly “normal” and part of the process.  I just wish that this information was more readily available.  So, tell me, readers, if you’re on the Keto diet, did you experience any of these issues?  Did you have any issues that I didn’t talk about?  How does this make you feel about the Ketogenic Diet in general?  As always, let me know, and thanks for reading.

Juneteenth (And the possibility of Reparations)

Today’s blog is going to focus on the meaning on Juneteenth and some interesting observations surrounding the topic of Reparations.

Hello, my gentle readers. I’m very excited about this blog entry because I get to talk about Juneteenth and why it’s important to Black people and American history.  Chances are, you’re going to see this after the official date of June 19th, but that’s okay.  I know that quite a few of you probably have no idea what Juneteenth actually is, and allow me to give you a quick rundown.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th because in Galveston, Texas in 1865, the last remaining slaves were told that they were slaves no more.  Now, if you’re a history buff, you’re going to notice a little discrepancy here.  You see, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863.  Now, this couldn’t be enforced in Confederate states while the war was still going.  The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 with the last major Confederate army surrendered, and the proclamation could be enforced.  Of course, news didn’t travel as quickly back then as it does today.  There’s a good chance that slave owners knew that the war was over well before their slaves did.  Being the people that they were, they just weren’t going to inform them that they were now free, not when they could get a few extra months of free labor out of the deal.  So, we celebrate Juneteenth to commemorate the end of chattel slavery in the United States.

All caught up?  Great.  The funny thing about Juneteenth is that it is not widely taught and recognized.  It’s regionally celebrated, and it’s not on the federal school curriculum, though it should be.  Truth be told, I didn’t know that Juneteenth existed until after I was out of high school.  I don’t go all out to celebrate, but for me it’s a day of reflection.  I think about what my ancestors went through to make it in this country, after having their own identities and culture snatched away from them.  I think about the indescribable atrocities that they endured but still found a way to survive through it all.  Make no mistake readers; chattel slavery was no walk in the park.  No slave ever had it easy, and the things they were subjected to, day in and day out, it breaks my heart to think about it. But, I think on it anyway because without their struggle, I’m not here and alive, for all that entails.

The second thing that I wanted to talk about is Reparations.  Now, this topic came up because on Juneteenth of this year, Congress heard testimony from people about Reparations.  I think it’s wonderful that the topic is finally being discussed on a federal level.  Most Black households have been talking about Reparations for slavery for a long time now.  The idea has been batted around quite a bit, but this was the first time I can recall there being an actual Congressional hearing on it.  So, this is progress, and I can’t think of a better day to do it.

In case you don’t know, readers, Reparations is a pretty simple concept.  What Black people (and some other races) are asking for is for the descendents of African slaves to be compensated by the federal government for 400 years of slavery and government-sanctioned second class citizenship.  On the surface, this doesn’t seem complicated, and there is precedent for it.  For example, Japanese Americans received Reparations for being placed in internment camps and losing their livelihoods during World War II.  Even Native Americans received Reparations, though no one can deny that the dispensation of money has been less than stellar.  As always, this is easier said than done, and Reparations for the descendents of African slaves would be an undertaking the likes of which no one has ever seen.

The main thing about Reparations is that the federal government would have to apologize for slavery, and if you don’t think that we’re owed an apology, you’ve got another think coming.  This country would not be the economic powerhouse that it is without the free labor that my ancestors provided.  The wealth that slavery generated didn’t go away.  There are families out there that would have nothing if it weren’t for the back breaking work that slaves performed.  Behind every great fortune lies a great crime, and it’s time that people come to terms with that.

Another layer to this is the Jim Crow laws that were enacted to keep Black people second class citizens.  A really good example of that is the GI Bill.  In World War II, if a man went to fight for his country and came back alive, he was awarded money to make a down payment on a home. Owning property is a very important step to acquiring wealth, and every soldier got the opportunity to own a home, except for Black soldiers, of course.  There are other instances of Jim Crow laws that need to be recognized and apologized for in any Reparations given, such as redlining (but that’s another blog post in of itself).  The government of the United States allowed a significant portion of its population to be treated as less than based solely on the color of their skin.  It is high time that this be addressed and settled by our government.

Then, we come to the heart of the matter.  Will Reparations actually happen?  My guess is that it will happen eventually, but it likely won’t matter when it does.  This country has been saying for so long that it will take care of its citizenry and has reneged on its stances so often to believe that it will do what it says it will do is laughable.  There are probably people to this day still waiting on their 40 acres and a mule that was promised to the now freed slaves.  I also don’t think that Reparations will happen any time soon.  It’s nice that a hearing was held, but I can’t shake the feeling that that hearing was just for show.  It’s up to the congressmen and women to prove me wrong there, to see if they really care about attempting to acknowledge a wrong.  I’m quite tired of Black people being used for political reasons.  Reparations are not a political issue; it’s a humanitarian issue.  It shouldn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on if you serve the people of this country.  To deny that a great injustice has been done to an important part of the population is never politically savvy, but neither is attempting to use that population for brownie points.  You either do right by us or you don’t.  There is no more middle ground.

In addition to all this, and I hate to say it, but I’m not sure that Reparations will make much of a dent in the inequality that Black people have experienced.  The time for that may have passed.  40 acres and a mule meant something back in 1865.  It was an opportunity to carve out your own path in life.  In our society today, opportunity looks a whole lot different.  What could possibly be given today that would represent opportunity?  Money?  Land?  Paying off student loan debt (which I will take any day of the week)?  The logistics of Reparations is another issue.  One of the main complications is our population size.  There are almost 50 million Black people living in the United States.  I will be generous and say that 5 million of them are not descendents of slaves.  How are 45 million people going to prove that they are descendents of slaves?  If a monetary value was applied for Reparations, you have to divide it amongst those 45 million, which creates another issue.

Think of it this way, in 1988, Reparations were given to Japanese Americans for the World War II internment camps in the amount of $20,000.  Adjusted for inflation, that amount in today’s money would be $43,295.35.  The amount of people who received those Reparations was only over 100,000 people.  I can tell you right now that this federal government is not trying to give 45 million Black folk $43,000.  Even though this money would do so much to help level out the playing field, it is not going to happen.  I doubt $20,000 would even happen, and let’s face it, anything less than $10,000 is a slap in the face.  It’s a highly convoluted process for a very simple idea.

Finally, you have those who think that Black people shouldn’t even get Reparations.  You can toss out any theory of no Reparations out with the bathwater.  For someone, anyone to have the audacity to sit there and say that everyone in this country has a fair shake is insulting to my intelligence.  I don’t want to hear any more “we have the same 24 hours” or “pull yourself up from your bootstraps” platitudes.  My ancestors didn’t have boots, let alone bootstraps.  As I touched on earlier, wealth is generational.  Do you know when the last person born under slavery died?  1971, allegedly.  Perspective is an interesting phenomenon.  58 years is not a lot of time.  My mother was born in 1963. I’m sure some of you even have grandparents who could tell you stories of how things used to be and how some things never change.

I’m going to end this blog right here because this rabbit hole can get deep, real deep.  I will ask though, before this blog, did you know about Juneteenth?  Did you know about Reparations?  Do you have a respectful opinion about it?  As always, I’d love to know.  Thanks for reading.

The Interracial Dating Blog

Today’s Blog Addresses The Negativity I Receive For Dating Outside of My Race.

Happy Tuesday, readers!  It is a fine Tuesday because that means it’s blog time from me!  I wanted to talk about interracial relationships for this entry.  As you may or may not have guessed:  I’m a Black woman.  I also date outside of my race fairly consistently.  My current significant other is a white man.  He is an excellent partner, even when he gets on my nerves.  Is there a reason for me dating outside of my race?  Not a single one.

I look at dating the same way I look at food.  If I exclusively dated Black guys, that means I’m just eating chicken for the rest of my life.  I could live quite well because I love chicken, and it’s highly versatile.  Still, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a steak or a pork chop either.  They all provide sustenance and give different flavor profiles.  Juxtaposing those food facts to men, different races give different experiences, good and bad.  There’s no reason to limit myself to just one color of man, not for me anyway.

I know plenty of men and women who will only date inside of their race, which is completely fine with me.  After all, a person is attracted to what they are attracted to.  If you find those qualities within your own race and see no reason to venture out, cool.  I wish you nothing but absolute happiness in everything that you do.  What I take issue with is looking down at me or my S/O because we love each other.

At this point, I need to say that love knows no color.  I like who I like, and I love who I love.  The color of their skin has absolutely no impact on that.  In fact, what I look for in a partner often has nothing to do with race.  (I’m wildly attracted to gorgeous eyes, which can be on anybody.)  It disturbs me greatly when I hear comments that what I’m doing is wrong or that I should just be with my own kind.

What brought this up is that the S/O and I were having a discussion, and he mentioned that he’s getting a little flack from being with me.  I immediately went into protect mode and asked who it was.  (I’m a Taurus, you see, so an attack on someone I love is an attack on me.)  He told me, and it was someone I literally had said two sentences to and was nothing but polite to when I met them.  I wasn’t shocked or surprised when I heard.  I was disappointed and a little upset about it.  Upon seeing me become visibly miffed, the S/O attempted to diffuse the situation by saying it’s not my fault, the person is old, so on and so forth.  I still couldn’t get it out of my head for the rest of the night.  Are we that loathsome to look at when we’re together?

I know that the problem doesn’t lie with me and my S/O, but it makes me wonder how bold someone can be to say “I don’t like who you’re with because they don’t look like you.”  Think about the ridiculousness of this for just one second.  You don’t know me from a can of paint, you’ve never actually had a conversation with me, but you’ve decided that I’m no good for someone just because of pigment?  Are you so wrapped up in yourself that you cannot bear the sight of two people who love each other that you need to voice the opinion that no one asked for or cared about to them?

Now, I don’t want to give off the wrong impression here, readers.  These comments don’t just come from white folks.  They come from Black folks too.  I’d love to say that it’s from the older generation, but it’s not.  I really want people to follow what I’m sure every momma has said to their child.  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Who I choose to invite into my life is exactly that:  my choice.  I don’t even consider skin color when choosing a partner.  I don’t need your reminders or input.  I’m not broken, and I don’t need fixing.  I know he’s white.  Instead of worrying about what’s going on in my happy household, maybe you should have some introspection about your own life.  If you have something to say about my relationship solely based on skin color, it’s obvious that you aren’t happy with your own relationship.  You should unpack those emotions and deal with them, instead of trying to pass your pain onto us.

Readers, I’m going to end this entry right here because this topic is amazingly complex with a lot of different factors feeding into the root cause of the hatred of interracial dating.  I won’t leave you hanging!  On Thursday, we’re going to continue the conversation by talking about the root cause, and I promise that it will be well worth your time.  I am curious, readers, have you ever dated interracially before?  Did you have the same experiences that I had?  I’d love to know!  If you have, and you want to talk about it, leave me a comment, send me an email, do that social stuff to get in touch.  I’ll see you on Thursday.

Slow Cooked Jerk Chicken and Baked Brie

Today’s blog is about a couple of dishes that I’ve cooked this week that are too good not to share.

Hello, readers!  For this blog, I’m going to talk about two of the dishes that I’ve cooked recently.  I want to remind you readers that I do not come up with these recipes.  I find them, and if I like them, I cook them.  If I really, really like them, I cook them again until I perfect them.  I don’t get one red penny from writing about and cooking these recipes.  (However, if you want to pay me, I will happily accept money for words.)  I also need to remind y’all that everything I cook is keto-friendly since I’m on the keto diet.  Keto-friendly foods usually mean high fat content, minimal protein, and very low to almost no carbs.  Bearing all of that in mind, let’s get to the food!

The first recipe that I cooked is called the Slow Cooked Jerk Chicken, and it’s fairly self-explanatory.  It’s also ridiculously easy to make.  I literally prepare it and let it cook until it’s time for dinner.  I got this recipe from a book called “The Essential Keto Cookbook” by Louise and Jeremy Hendon.  They run a website called KetoSummit.  I purchased this cookbook from them, and it contains several recipes for breakfast, dinner, dessert, and everything else in between.  It’s come in very handy when I’m looking for something new to try.  Here’s the end result!

For added flavor, mix the chicken trimmings with the cauliflower rice.
Slow Cooked Jerk Chicken Leg Quarter and Cauliflower Rice as a side

In order to make this recipe, all you need is a crock pot, some chicken, and some spices.  You’ll more than likely have all the spices in your cabinet already.  All you need is salt, black and white pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and paprika.  Honestly, I don’t understand the love affair with paprika.  I don’t think it tastes like anything but whatever.  Now, the recipe calls for eight chicken drumsticks and eight chicken wings.  Personally, I didn’t do that.  I normally use leg quarters, but this is just personal preference.  I will say that whatever part of the chicken you want to use, make sure it has the skin on it.  It’s not as tasty without the skin, and you need the fat content for keto.

For cooking, you’ll need to mix up all your spices, in a bowl, rinse off your chicken and put it in the spice bowl, cover the chicken in the spices and put the chicken in the crock pot on medium.  Then, go about your day.  Go to work, go to school, do you.  When you come home a few hours later, you will have the most delicious chicken ready and waiting to be devoured.  It will literally fall off the bone.  One of the things I like to do is take the meat off the bone and mix it with some cauliflower rice.  It’s a deliciously easy meal that’s sure to please.  I will warn you though readers, it’s a bit on the spicy side.  If you don’t like spice, I might stay away, but when you smell it, you may not want to.  Just exercise caution and have some milk just in case.

The next recipe is not as easy as the first.  I’ve wanted to make baked brie for a long while now.  Plus, Tuesday was National Cheese Day, so it made perfect sense for me to make it on that day.  Since I am on the keto diet, it’s been hard to find a recipe that will work for me.  Cheese is keto-friendly (depending on who you ask) but wheat dough not so much.  I had to find a recipe that still kept the spirit of the dough surrounding the brie intact, which meant flakey and buttery.  I was super thrilled when I found a recipe for keto-friendly baked brie.

I acquired the recipe from www.gnom-gnom.com.  The curator there is Paola, and she has some truly amazing recipes that are keto-friendly.  I love the way she goes in depth to why she makes certain choices to get as close as she can to the way a dish is prepared in the traditional sense.  Her recipes are easy to follow, and I do recommend that you go to her site, look around, and see if you can find a recipe to make.

I’m not going to like to you, dear readers.  Making this baked brie was a task and a half.  If you search for baked brie on her site, you would be thrilled to see that all you need is the crust, the brie, pecans, garlic powder and thyme.  Super easy, right?  It’s right there where you would be wrong.  See, the crust is what makes the difficulty of this recipe ramp up exponentially.  Making the crust is not that hard.  It’s handling the crust that will give you fits.  This crust is much more delicate than a traditional crust.  As such, you’ll need to break out the kid gloves.  You’ve got to let the crust rest in the fridge for at least an hour.  You need parchment paper on both sides to roll it out, and if the dough gets too warm, you have to put it back in the fridge before you can try to mold it again.

Now, I recognize that not everything can be easy, and if you really want to do something and do it well, you have to work through it, failures and all.  I am incredibly happy and proud to say that the baked brie came out fantastically well.  Don’t believe me?  See for yourself.

This keeps well in the fridge.  For a warm pick-me-up, put it in the microwave for no longer than 15 seconds.
Keto-Friendly Baked Brie

Yes, it’s not as pretty as the picture on gnom-gnom.  I certainly don’t have the skill to make any pretty shapes like Paola.  Regardless of that, this brie was so good!  The thyme really brought this earthy, savory flavor that almost had me drooling.  When I made the first cut and the cheese oozed out, it was like a weight had been taken off my shoulders.  I did it right.  Now, I will say that the recipe calls for 30 minutes to bake.  I baked mine for 45 minutes because it wasn’t browning to my satisfaction.  As always, with any sort of pastry baking, you have to baby it.  I may or may not have camped out in front of my oven, just to make sure that I wasn’t burning it.  It was a lot of work to make this, but I’m beyond pleased with the result and the taste.

So, let me know, readers!  Would you like to try to make and eat these recipes?  Do they look scrumptious?  Are there any recipes that you’d like to see me try to make?  I’m always on the look out to try new things.  See you next time, and thanks for reading!

The Abortion Blog

This blog discusses what an abortion ban really means and who it hurts the most.

It pains me to have to write this blog, my dear readers, yet here we are.  I find myself forced to talk about a procedure that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with me.  I write this blog because there are some antiquated (mostly male, mostly white) people who seem to think that they know what’s best for a woman’s body, for my body.  As a person who believes 100% in body autonomy and a woman’s right to choose, I couldn’t sit by and not put my thoughts into a blog.

Before I truly begin, I need to make it clear that I’m not really interested in trying to convince pro-lifers to be pro-choice or vice versa.  I think it’s important for people to come to their own conclusions on this issue.  What truly gets under my skin is trying to force others to live based on your system of ideals.  I can’t get behind that.  As you, my readers, will find out (or already know), I have a very strong set of core beliefs that were formed based on my life experiences.  I do not attempt to force everyone around me to adhere to those beliefs.  For example, growing up, we had rice and beans on Mondays.  I’m not going to use any force of strength, will, or power to make everyone in the state or country also eat rice and beans on Mondays.  Nor will I sugar coat it by saying how nutritious and filling the meal is or invoke the poor rice and bean farmers who would now experience prosperity due to the increased consumption.  Ridiculous, right?  Well, so is what the lawmakers have done in Alabama, Georgia, and six other states, including my home state of Louisiana.

Just to give a quick recap on the happenings, these states have passed state laws that ban abortion for women once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually at six weeks.  Each state has a couple of differences, like in Georgia a woman can be prosecuted for leaving the state to have an abortion and in Alabama, there is no exception made in the case of rape or incest.  In the case of Louisiana, the law doesn’t go into effect until the recently signed Mississippi law goes through the courts.  Regardless of the quirks, these states have successfully managed to say to their woman population that their uteruses are now property of the state, which is a no-go for several reasons.

The main reason is that an abortion isn’t any of the government’s business.  The only people who need to know about a woman’s abortion are the woman, her doctor, and her partner, if applicable.  Everyone else needs to mind their business.  If you contend that the government must know about an abortion, the only reason I can even think that the government would need to know is to make sure that the abortion is done safely with no harm done to the woman.  That’s all Roe vs. Wade does, folks, is make sure that a woman has safe access to this form of health care.  And before you ask, yes, having an abortion is a form of women’s health care.  Mind blown.

Since we’re on the topic of laws, it’s my utmost pleasure to inform you that these laws are largely unconstitutional and will never be enforced.  Truth be told, having enforceable abortion restricting laws is not the end game for these abhorrent people.  The true target is the Supreme Court, to openly challenge Roe vs. Wade.  You may ask me why these folks want to get rid of abortion altogether.  The answer may surprise you:  most of them actually don’t want to get rid of abortion, per se.  Sure, you have your religious fundamentalists who believe they’re doing God’s work, and we’ll get to that soon.  You even have some who believe that abortion is a state’s rights issue, which is the same type of language people used for the continuation of slavery.

I believe the reason is just plain old misogyny and classism.  It’s easier to keep a woman “in her place” by making sure she always has a child to take care of.  It is incredibly difficult for a woman to come up in this world while taking care of young children.  If she’s raising them on her own with no help?  It’s damned near impossible.  It’s a real easy way to keep the growing majority from overtaking the aging minority.  Why is this also a classist issue?  Simply put, those with money and power will always have access to these types of services.  If someone with money and power wants to end a pregnancy, they can do so discreetly, (sort of, as we’re hearing stories of men ending the pregnancies of their mistresses).  It’s a wicked game of making sure that those who are in power stay in power, no matter the cost.

Of course, we have those who say that abortion is murder, which is incredibly laughable.  An abortion does not “kill a baby.”  It ends a pregnancy.  Language is important here, readers, so pay attention.  These bans are set at six weeks.  Most women don’t even know they are pregnant at six weeks.  Do you know what six weeks is?  Six weeks is one missed period plus two weeks.  Most women do not even exhibit pregnancy symptoms until eight weeks.  Also, let’s not do the “a woman should be clued in to her body” argument.  Periods can be skipped for a variety of reasons.  Hell, I can skip a period from being stressed out.  Do you know what a pregnancy looks like at six weeks?  It looks like this.

An actual 6 week old fetus.

It’s not even a fetus at this point, readers.  That is a pea-sized lizard thing called an embryo.  It does not have thoughts, feelings, and most importantly, cannot survive outside of a woman’s body.  Since this is a truthful blog and we deal in truth over here, a fetus can’t survive outside of a woman’s body until 24 weeks, and it’s not even a coin flip on the odds.  However, because language is important, you can call someone’s moral values into question by saying that they’re killing a baby instead of a pea-sized parasitic lizard thing.  Plus, it’s also easier to say and remember the word fetus, instead of embryo.  Got to say I’m almost in awe of the marketing of the anti-abortion crowd.  If I didn’t know any better, they might have me ensnared in their sea of lies too.

Oh, was saying lies too harsh?  How about “unproven theories of falsehoods” or “alternate facts”?  My personal favorite is “fighting for the lives of the unborn.”  That almost makes me giggle.  Don’t fall for any of the artful lies, readers.  These people do not care about these pregnancies or the women affected by them because if they did, our infant mortality rate wouldn’t be rising (which disproportionately affects women of color) and there would actually be programs at state and federal levels to make it easier to raise children.  As it is currently the SNAP and TANF programs have already been slashed tremendously. The CHiP and WiC programs have been threatened recently as well, and who does it hurt the most?  Children.  I don’t even want to go into the abysmal foster care programs, for those who say that women should put up those babies for adoption.

Let me pull myself up from this rabbit hole before I fall too deeply into it.  It’s a simple issue that has a lot of reach, affects, and hurts a lot of people.  Allow me to end the blog by saying this.  Pregnancy and a baby should be a joyous occasion, if you want to have a baby.  But, if you don’t, you shouldn’t be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.  That decision is ultimately left to the woman who would be carrying that pregnancy for nine months.  We should all be fighting for a woman’s right to choose the best path for herself, regardless if we agree with her or not.  That’s called respect for one’s body autonomy, folks.  Thanks for reading.

F@#k Cancer

In my latest blog, I talk about how cancer has affected my life, the lives of those I love, and dealing with loss and grief.

Seriously.  F@#k cancer.  F@#k it so hard.  I want it to be completely eradicated from the human lexicon.  I don’t even want the word to be a distant memory in the backs of our brains.  I hate it, and I hate that people have to deal with it so much.

This blog is not going to be a pleasant blog, readers, and I do apologize for that.  I’ve held this pain and this hate in my heart for so long, and I need to get it out, otherwise it could consume me.  I know this is out of character, but I’ve always said that I’m going to be upfront and honest with you, and this is what I’m experiencing right now.

Cancer isn’t fun to deal with for anyone, and unfortunately, it was my turn to be selected on this cancer wheel of misfortune.  You see, my grandmother recently died of cancer.  She was an incredible lady who took both me and my younger sister in and raised us when my mother died.  In effect, she was my mom.  Cancer took her away from me, from the family.  After her diagnosis, she didn’t make it a month.  It was an aggressive cancer, but we didn’t have time to figure out exactly what type of cancer it was.  It doesn’t matter now, and I’m not sure if knowing would give me some measure of peace or satisfy this gnawing, morbid curiosity.

I don’t really want to talk about the science behind cancer.  Instead, I want to talk about what cancer does to those who have it and the ones they leave behind.  My grandmother was an absolute trooper.  I think she knew that she wasn’t long for this world.  I never saw her complain, even through the worst of it.  She comforted the family that came to see her, giving us the encouragement that we needed to keep going.  She still wanted to participate in her church and would ask the elders to pray for others in the congregation who were sick.  She said that when she was in the hospital, which blew my mind.  I suppose it’s a blessing that she didn’t suffer, even though the family did.

It’s a difficult thing to deal with.  I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t affect me, change me in some way.  I’m still grieving over her loss.  I find myself crying in my quieter moments.  I go back and forth between being relatively okay and an emotional quagmire.  I know I have a grandma-shaped hole in my heart.  I think everyone understands that those that they love will eventually pass through the veil, but it’s never a real or tangible thing.  It’s just an abstract concept until it actually happens, and we come face to face with mortality.  In my case, it’s not that I’ve gone through life without dealing with death.  I have, but it’s never been this hard, this personal.  I don’t hold out any hopes for recovering.  I just want to find a way to continue plodding along as best I can.  I always thought she would be there, and now I get the pleasure to make my way in this world without her.

I’m sure that others in the family are going through the same thing, if not more. I see my aunt, who was my grandmother’s primary caretaker, still powering through everything, trying to settle her affairs.  I know it’s hard on her, and I try to help her as much as I can.  I feel bad for not being there, but every time I go over to what used to be my grandmother’s house, I’m filled with overwhelming sorrow.  I feel like I’m not supposed to be there, and it eats at me.

I think about my sister, if she knows what’s going on, if she can feel it like I can.  I see my cousin, who is very open about his grief, more open about it than I’ve been.  I want to reach out to him and help him, but I have no words to say to him.  I don’t know how the rest of the family is coping.  I hear from them every now and then, which is fine since I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep.  I do wonder what they’re doing to get through the day, how I can emulate that and make it my own.

I think about my friends who have lost loved ones to cancer.  I wonder if I’ve been a good friend to them, if I reached out like I should have, just to make sure that they’re okay.  I do have a couple that have reached out to me.  Mostly, it’s me reaching out to them when I’m feeling particularly despondent.  This act, of course, makes me feel even worse because it forces me to acknowledge that I’m going through it, which I determine as weakness.  I know it’s crazy, but I’ve always been the strong one in my circles, so to not be strong is a new feeling that I dislike greatly.  Then, I get angry.

I wonder how all of this happened, why she got sick.  I get upset thinking about how all the doctors said that there was nothing they could do.  I get angry about the stupid tumor that attacked her heart.  I’m filled with guilt, wondering if there was anything I could have done to spot it, to force her to go to the doctor’s earlier.  I feel alone, like there’s no one else that I can talk to about this.  After all, who wants to talk about cancer?

Finally, I get hit with an epiphany.  I know I’m not alone, but people don’t have a venue to really talk about how cancer has affected them, at least not without pulling someone else into their spiral of misery.  That’s why I choose to write this blog, not to drag anyone down, but to reach out and say that you are not alone, readers.  I walk along this path with you, no longer silent but as an equal partner.  It’s only lonely because we choose to isolate ourselves.

Cancer is insidious and pervasive in so many ways, to those it affects and their families.  It worms its way into us and changes who we are, right down to the core.  We can’t let it.  We have to fight back constantly.  We can’t let cancer claim us.

Walk with me, readers.  Tell me how it’s changed your life.  Let the world know that you are fighting back.  I won’t let cancer get the best of me, even on the tougher days.  I want you to be strong enough to say the same.  Because f@#k cancer.  We won’t let it define us.

Quick Memorial Day Blog

The Final Day of my Seven Day Blogging Blitz, I thank those who have taken the time to like and read this blog.

Happy Memorial Day, readers!  I’m happy to report that it is an absolutely gorgeous Monday, with the sun shining and the burgers grilling.  Before we begin this entry proper, I do want to recognize the servicemen and women who sacrifice their lives to make sure that we’re able to enjoy this day.  I want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Onto the blog!  Now, I won’t keep you because I know that this is a day for remembrance and family, but I want to thank all of my readers out there.  Honestly, this blog has been a long time coming, and I’m glad that I was able to get over my own fears to finally put something out there, to let the world know that I’m here, I’ve got a laptop, and I’m not afraid to use it.

It’s only been a week so far, but the engagement that I’ve had over these last seven days has really been heartwarming.  It also gives me the will to keep on telling my truths.  For me, it’s important to write, but it’s equally important that there is someone to read and listen.  For someone to take what I’ve said and really think on it is incredibly flattering.  I’ve always said that I’ve wanted my writing to help at least one person, to have meaning and purpose for one person.  I’m fairly certain that I haven’t done that yet, but the fact that so many of you have been willing to at least hear me out is encouraging.

So, what’s next for the blog?  I’m going to continue writing, of course!  I’ve decided that I will update the blog two days a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  That should give me plenty of time to create these thought pieces for your reading pleasure.  I also want to let it be known that I am taking tomorrow off, so there won’t be another blog until Thursday.  Since I like y’all so much, I’m going to tell you right now, Thursday’s blog will pull no punches.  I’ve been nice and sweet in my blogging blitz, but on Thursday, I get right to issues that I’ve wanted to write about for a while now.  Stay tuned because Thursday is going to be amazing.

That’s it, readers.  I’m keeping to my word of a short blog today.  Again, I want to thank you all so very much for the support of this blog, and I’ll see you on Thursday.

The Game of Thrones Blog

Day 6 of my Day 7 Blogging Blitz has me reviewing one of the most talked about and viewed shows ever created.

I imagine that I wasn’t the only person transfixed by Game of Thrones when it first premiered on HBO in April 2011.  I remember being immediately shocked and jolted by the first episode that started off with a zombie skirmish, a beheading, a potential wedding, and eventually a little boy being thrown out of a window.  It’s insane to think how much was actually done in the very first episode, and it so expertly sank its GoT talons into my brain.  I was hooked ever since.  Game of Thrones started with the loudest bang I’d ever seen a show start with, so it is both upsetting and unsurprising that it ended on the tiniest of whispers.

If you want to call 19.3 million viewers a whisper.  That’s how many tuned in to watch the series finale, and if you have any sort of social media, you can’t escape the dialogue that’s been swirling around since season 8 started in April.  Most of that dialogue has been centered on what a disappointment the last season was, how the ball was dropped in character development, and how there were no women in the writer’s room.  You can even find some videos about how Westeros now serves Starbucks and invented bottled water.  These criticisms are usually witty but most importantly, are valid.  You can’t have a show that’s been around for 8 years, with the last 2 being strictly development, and not expect it to be picked apart by the masses.  Now, it’s my turn to add my own thoughts to Game of Thrones, not just season 8 but a series as a whole.

As an entire series, Game of Thrones is a resounding success.  I can’t remember a show being this involved in the American zeitgeist since the ending of Lost (which, ironically enough, went through the same thing that GoT is going through right now).  Game of Thrones proves so many things.  It proves that fantasy can be mainstream, adaptations can be done extremely well (mostly), and women are just as viable as men main characters.  I don’t want to pooh-pooh the success of GoT because it’s enormous.  In my opinion, the success of this show can really lead to other stories being told and accepted by a mainstream audience that wouldn’t have otherwise gotten a look.  I would never think to take that away from this series.  Still, as a fan, I can’t help but feel that this last season dropped the ball.

The failure is not with cinematography.  It remains gorgeously shot.  There’s this one image of Daenerys emerging from the city she just destroyed with the wings of Drogon behind her that is simply awe-inspiring and breathtaking.  As always, Westeros is a beautifully dangerous place.  I’m not even going to complain about the Battle of Winterfell.  Yes, it was dark and hard to make out, but what I could see was immaculate.  Nor does the fault lie with the musical score, which perfectly mirrors what the directors want the audience to feel at any given moment.  As much as I hate to say it, the large reasons why most fans don’t like season 8 is due to the writing and complete abandonment of character development.

Now, some of you may be saying, “Sian, do you really need character development in the last few episodes of a series?”  The answer is:  yes, most definitely.  If we, the audience, are going to buy that certain characters are going to behave a certain way, then we need to understand that character’s motivations.  If you have a character like Tyrion, who’s been there since the beginning, and he starts acting in a completely different way from what the audience is used to, then character development helps the audience understand why he’s acting in this new manner.  Character development takes time, and in 6 episodes, it’s very hard to devote the time needed to both wrap up the series in a satisfying way and explain why characters did what they did.

My second gripe is the writing has been sorely lacking in this final season.  I have a couple of theories about why the writing has been less than stellar.  One is the fact that the show caught up to the book series that it’s adapting already.  Without the guidance of George R.R. Martin, the writers have had to actually work and complete the world on their own.  Normally, this is fine, and there shouldn’t have been any issue because writers…you know…write.  Plus, they had an amazing boon of Martin actually telling the showrunners how the series ends.  So, they had the ending.  They just needed to get there, and that’s where the tower comes falling down.

Game of Thrones has some amazing actors on it.  Lena Headley is truly spectacular to watch, but in season 8, Cersei is reduced to sipping wine and growling.  As engrossing as it is to watch her seethe, it is not enough.  Sophie Turner has fleshed out Sansa from an inexperienced, dream-struck girl to a woman capable of commanding armies and respect.  In this season, she’s catty and basic.  We also have Tyrion, who’s supposed to be the smartest person left in the show, and we see him completely acting out of character by trying to find redeeming qualities about the sister who has hated him from birth.  Sure, she loves her kids, but she also blew up a significant portion of her subjects, including her son’s wife, which lead to him killing himself in grief and despair.  That was a real Mother of the Year move proving that a woman isn’t as bad as the world says she is.

Then, we come to Daenerys, the now mad Queen, who’s thrown away everything she’s stood for to burn down a city.  The writers want to tell me that she’s mad because of her blood.  Okay, fine, but can I see why she went mad?  I mean, I understand why she went crazy.  After all, she held Jorah in her arms as he died protecting her, a beautiful shot further punctuated by Drogon landing next to her and enveloping her with his wings.  She also had to watch quite helplessly as Rhaegal was shot down (how the Greyjoy fleet get the jump on them will forever remain a mystery) and as Missandei was beheaded by Cersei.  Are these enough to make a person snap?  Sure, but I want to see the descent into madness.  Again, such a fall from grace can’t be adequately expressed in 6 episodes, and we’ve left with a Dany surrounded by destruction that she caused.  I remember a line in a book that I read for a creative writing class that said not to tell the audience what happens.  Instead, show them what happens.  That advice couldn’t be more prudent here.

As a result of these characters, who people have come to know, love, and hate, behaving in ways that are antithetical to who they are, it’s seen as a, inexcusable jarring change.  This brings me to my final point which is that the showrunners created a time frame when one didn’t need to.  We’ve waited for almost two years for this season, and they give us six episodes.  Six paltry episodes.  I mean, I get it.  You only have access to certain actors at certain points in time.  Actors get other gigs and want to do other things, truly I understand.  Still, I can’t get over the fact that HBO offered Benioff and Weiss more time and money for more episodes and they were like “Nah, we can do it in six.”  Yeah, I guess you can, but should you have?  Was that the right decision?  Even with hindsight being 20/20, someone should have stood up and said that one more season might be needed.

When you think about it, the books and the series have been relatively aligned, so are you trying to tell me that you can finish a series in 6 episodes when there are two more books slated to come out?  Even looking at the episode list of the series, season 8 is at least one episode short of season 7, and I remember people complaining that that season was short as well.  Even with the showrunners leaving GoT to direct Star Wars and wanting to create another series, ending Game of Thrones the way they did is almost a slap in the face to the fans who love the series so much.  It’s a decision that makes absolutely no sense.

In conclusion, I do want to say that the actual ending of the series wasn’t bad at all.  The audience understands why certain characters died and how they died.  (Though, I heartily disagree with the way Cersei died.  She should have died in a pool of her own blood instead of in a lover’s embrace.)  I think that most people take issue with is how we got to the end.  As I said earlier in the blog, the ending was already given to them.  They just had to get there, and they fumbled that task badly.

Tonight, we do get to see some behind the scenes action, the GoT final hurrah.  I’d like to say that I’m not interested and that I won’t watch, but that’s not true.  I’ll watch it, with a bit of sadness and a whimsical attitude.  Like others, I’ll wonder about what could have been, who deserved better, who deserved dust, and eventually come to terms that one of the best shows ever created is over.

The Avengers: Endgame Blog

In Day Five of my Seven Day Blogging Blitz, I talk about one of the most successful movies ever made.

It’s safe to say that I wasn’t the only person waiting for this movie, the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third phase.  Considering that this movie has become the second highest grossing film of all time in 11 days, a lot of people out there are invested in these characters that we’ve grown to know, love, and hate over 22 films and 11 years.  Now that I’ve seen the movie twice in theaters, I feel that I can talk about it and weave my own thoughts and opinions into Marvel’s storytelling.

Let me start off by saying that I didn’t think I was going to be able to see the movie on opening day.  Endgame was released theatrically a few minutes before midnight on April 26th, and I was at work bored out of my mind.  Most theaters were sold out, and I had resigned myself to see it the following week.  Then, my significant other sends me a text, saying that I needed to get out of work at 11 pm.  I ask why and his response was that it was important.  Taking this as a slight emergency, I let my boss know that I was leaving early and was out in the parking lot at 11:01 as my boyfriend rolled up to come get me.  As soon as I got in the car and asked what was up he said to me that he got us tickets to see Avengers:  Endgame.  I can’t even imagine the grin that was on my face when I heard those words.

The first time we saw the movie, the place was packed, and that always gives an interesting experience.  When the surrounding audience has the same reactions to the scenes that you do, it’s an affirming feeling.  You think to yourself, “Yes, we are supposed to do this thing right at this time.”  It creates a sense of camaraderie and togetherness that I really enjoy and rarely experience in a public setting.  That first midnight showing was mind-blowing and amazing for that.

The second showing was different but no less interesting.  The theater was empty except for me, my boyfriend, his bestie, and a couple of other randoms.  This provided me the opportunity to view the movie with a lot more nuance and carefulness that I couldn’t do in the first one, being all wrapped up in my emotions.  This is the showing where I got to analyze the times when I didn’t have the same reactions as the audience did in the initial viewing.   In the quiet, I was able to fully coalesce my thoughts on what I was seeing and solidify my opinion on the film.

The first scene is with Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, who was noticeably absent from Avengers:  Infinity War, and we now see why.  He’s living his dream with his family.  Heartwarming opening, but as the audience, we know what’s going to happen next.  The snap’s effects are tastefully done, and Clint’s horror and despair segue nicely into the “Where are they now” beginning scenes of the film.  I find Tony Stark’s and Nebula’s screen time together to be particularly enjoyable.

Brief aside and full disclosure:  Nebula is my favorite character in the MCU (so far).  She has the best character development in the entire series, with Thor being a very close second.  The most important trait about Nebula is that she is still learning and coming into herself as a person after having her entire being disassembled, reassembled, suppressed, and consumed by Thanos.  She’s sharp as a tack, pragmatic, and blunt, but in her quiet moments she is kind and thoughtful.  After all she’s been through she still cares about those around her, and I find that to be incredibly beautiful.

Back to the movie, the remaining Avengers, minus Tony who has had more than enough, hatch a plan to find Thanos and undo the snap.  When we first see Thanos, we know that something isn’t quite right with him.  Fully revealed, we can see the effects on his body of having used the Infinity Stones, and I was quite shocked.  Before we even have time to register what exactly happened, the Avengers crash through in a frenetic scene that leaves Thanos minus a forearm and eventually minus a head.  This also leaves our heroes minus any hope once they realize what Thanos did to preserve his homicidal legacy.

We fast forward five years to check in on everyone, and it’s apparent that the team is not doing too well.  It’s also here where I want to point out that this is Scarlett Johansson’s best acting in a while since she hasn’t had anything to do since The Winter Soldier.  We are introduced to our McGuffin/comic relief in the form of Scott Lang aka Ant Man, who’s been chilling in the quantum realm all the time and was immune to the snap.  After he checks in on his daughter, who is now five years older, he decides to head to Avengers HQ because he’s the only one with hope and the beginnings of a plan to undo the snap.

First stop on the list is our resident genius/billionaire/playboy/ philanthropist Tony Stark who is revealed to have procreated and will have absolutely none of these “time heist” shenanigans.  He also does a good job of convincing us that the time travel rules from Back To The Future are nonsensical, which hurt my heart to hear.  Tony’s a no-go, so the team must move on to the next big brain who the audience finds out is a perfectly melded Bruce Banner/Hulk who took the time to actually work on himself and embrace his Hulk alter ego.  While he admits time travel isn’t his expertise, he’s still willing to help.

After we’re treated to some time travel ha-has, Tony comes back into the fold with the answer to the time travel problem as well as some bolstering from Pepper.  I always love scenes with Tony and Cap because they have the most complicated friendship.  They’re family, really.  They don’t necessarily like each other all the time, but they love each other, and they both realize that they aren’t at their best without the other.  With the reunion out of the way, the rest of the team must be gathered, and it is here where my feelings split heavily from the overall consensus of the theater and rest of the world.

Black Widow goes and collects a mass murdering Hawkeye, and Bruce and Rocket go to recruit Thor, with a quick shout out to angry girl Valkyrie.  When Thor is revealed, the audience in my first viewing laughed because he gained weight.  I did not laugh.  Every single one of these characters has experienced PTSD in some form or fashion.  Cap’s emotionally stunted, Black Widow threw herself into work, Hawkeye kills people to fill the void, and Thor turned to food.  That’s not funny.  It’s sad, and I wish that this wasn’t played for laughs because there was an opportunity to have a serious discussion about depression and emotional eating that could have reached a massive audience. Despite my long side eye, the movie rolls along.

We get our teams situated, our times situated, circumstances understood, and off we go to…New York in 2012…because that’s where three Infinity Stones are at in one point in time, with very little explanation as to how that happens but alright, fine.  This is also ground zero for the initial Chitauri invasion of The Avengers but it’s okay because time travel!  Bruce goes to retrieve the Time Stone, meanwhile Tony, Cap, and Ant Man attempt nab the Tesseract/Space Stone and Loki’s staff/Mind Stone.  The audience is also introduced to America’s ass, and I’ll tell you right now readers, that is definitely America’s ass right there, no elections needed.

I have to also mention a huge plot hole here.  When Bruce is discussing with the Ancient One (Hi Tilda) about how not returning the stones creates an alternate reality for the present that the future has come to, they did just that when Loki managed to get his sexy fingers on the Tesseract/Space Stone and teleport away.  This is never addressed or spoken of again, and it could very well impact the rest of the film as well as the universe. But, we’re not going to worry about it because time travel!  So, Tony remembers that they’ve got one more shot to get some more Pym Particles, i.e. the substance that enables the time travel, and the Tessaract/Space Stone in one go by travelling back to 1970, and they do just that with a couple of cute scenes with Tony talking to his dad and Cap gazing longingly at Agent Carter.

Meanwhile, we hussle over to our next team consisting of Thor and Rocket who are in Asgard to suck out the Aether/Reality Stone from Jane when she was infected with it in The Dark World, otherwise known as the worst movie in the MCU.  We won’t talk about that, but we will talk about Thor having a heart-to-heart with his mom Frigga, played by the ever fabulous Rene Russo.  I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I saw her.  It was also nice to see that Thor, despite all of his trials and tribulations, is still worthy of Mjolnir and takes it with him, creating a beautiful plot hole but we won’t worry about it because time travel!

Finally, we’ve got War Machine/Nebula and Hawkeye/Black Widow on Morag in 2014 to retrieve the Power Stone before Peter Quill does.  This team splits up, and Hawkeye/Black Widow then travel to Vormir to grab the Soul Stone, and we know how this is going to turn out from Infinity War.  In a silly fight of “I’m going to jump off this ledge first,” Black Widow…wins (?)…and sacrifices herself so Hawkeye can get the Soul Stone.  I can’t lie to you, readers.  The first time I saw this, I was sad to see her go, but in the second viewing, I was happy because it was the best thing she’s done in the MCU since walking away from the Senate hearing in The Winter Soldier.  She went out like a champ.  I can respect that.

Back on Morag, this is probably the easiest stone to get because Quill was by himself at the time, and we get to see how a gorgeous opening scene in Guardians of the Galaxy is rendered wonderfully ridiculous looking at it from this end.  As we were warned that they aren’t the only ones looking for the Power Stone, we see that 2014 Nebula, Gamora, and Thanos are also in the vicinity.  As Timecop told us, the same bodies cannot exist in the same space at the same time.  Evidently, they got that a bit wrong in Nebula’s case since her old self and her new self went through some sort of mind meld thing and now Thanos knows everything.  Before they can get back home, Nebula has the most untimely incapacitating migraine, gets captured by Thanos and then replaced by 2014 Nebula who knows how the Pym Particles work.  I mean…damn.

Of course, none of our heroes know this when they get back to present time Avengers HQ and all of the stones assembled onto a Stark Industries sponsored gauntlet.  Bruce volun-tells everyone that he’s doing it because the energy being released is mostly gamma radiation, which he is largely immune to.  After some groaning, a snap, and a blackened arm later, we get hints that Bruce was able to undo the damage that Thanos did by a phone call from Hawkeye’s wife and a bunch of sparrows outside.  Then, the HQ gets blown to literal smithereens by Thanos’s ship that was summoned to this time by 2014 Nebula.

With the entire team imperiled in some form or fashion, Cap, Tony, and Thor (fully equipped with Stormbreaker and Mjolnir) face off against Thanos.  This is where everything starts to come together for me, all 22 films.  We got your standard 3 on 1, but everybody knows that the three can’t win that fight.  Then, we discover that Cap becomes worthy of Mjolnir, completing that scene from Age of Ultron.  It’s cool seeing Cap fight with the hammer and the shield, but he’s simply not enough, and we see Thanos destroy Cap’s shield, completing Tony’s vision in the beginning of Age of Ultron.  Then, the battle that we’ve been waiting for begins.  We hear Sam aka the Falcon’s voice in Cap’s headset, and he says “On your left.”  Then, a whole bunch of magic portals are created and everyone steps through.  When I say everyone, I literally mean everyone, those who were snapped away and those who weren’t, come through to fight off the never ending wave of Thanos minions.

This is the battle we have been clamoring for since Civil War, and it is glorious to watch.  Pretty much everyone gets to show off their skills and talents, working together to keep the Infinity Gauntlet away from Thanos, who has already revealed that he’s gonna snap the whole universe away this time.  There are a couple of scenes that steal the show.  First is anything with Spider-Man in it.  He is hilarious in anything he does.  Second is Scarlet Witch and third is Captain Marvel.  I must say that those two ladies had Thanos’s number, and he had to cheat in both instances to stop them.  To stop Wanda, he had to call down artillery from his ship, and to stop Carol, who was about to rip his fingers off while he was wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, he had to remove the Power Stone from the Gauntlet and punch her with it.

After this, we are reminded by Tony and Doctor Strange out of the 14 million realities he saw, there was only one chance to win against Thanos, and he couldn’t tell Tony, otherwise it wouldn’t happen.  So, Tony launches himself at Thanos, managed to take the Infinity Stones off of the gauntlet and merge them with his suit, and snaps his fingers, making Thanos and all of his troops fall to dust.  This saves their reality but it costs Tony his life.  (It also creates a plot hole that if 2014 Thanos was not returned to his time with no memory of what happened, alternate realities are created but who cares because time travel!)

In the end, we see how everyone is coping with the passing of their friends, and how they plan to get on with their lives.  As Cap goes back in time to put the stones back (time travel!) he doesn’t come back.  He stays in that time and gets a life, as Tony always told him to do.  He does appear again, as an old man, waiting to be noticed.  He passes his shield to Sam and tells him that the world still has a Captain America, and the film ends.

Is Avengers:  Endgame a masterpiece?  No, but it comes close to it.  The Russo Brothers gave us a super solid and satisfying ending to a universe that no one could have even dreamed of being conceived back in 2008.  If there is anyone who said that Iron Man would be the beginning of a new wave of cinematic storytelling, hire that person as a consultant and give him or her all the money they want.  Did I have problems with the film?  Yes, but those problems do not outweigh the overall goodness of how well done this movie is.  In the end, it lived up to the hype, and these characters that were created in comic book form were displayed magnificently on screen.

The Writing Blog

In Day Four of my Seven Day Blogging Blitz, I talk about the very reason I made this blog: my passion for writing.

Today, I write.  I write for me and no one else.  I write because this is the only thing that I know how to do well, really well.  I write because I love the language.  I love the feel of a pen wedged in between my fingers.  I love the gliding of my palm against a stark white piece of paper as the words flow from me.  I love writing in cursive, even though my handwriting is atrocious.  I love the feel of my fingertips pushing against the keys on my keyboard and the slight resistance the keys give back to me.  I love to write.

I love creating.  I love expressing myself through words.   I love turning the incomplete thoughts in my brain into sentences.  I love when words come to life on a page.  I love it when everything comes together, each word working as a cohesive unit to share what was in my head.  I love it when someone else understands.

I love telling stories.  I love interesting worlds and compelling characters.  I love their interactions, their dialogue.  I love monologues, soliloquies, and asides.  I love a character’s growth as the story billows on.  I love how a story progresses, and I love the way the characters handle it.  I love conclusions.  I love the satisfaction of an ending, and I love the anticipation of a continuation.

But, I hate.  I hate the thoughts that won’t come out.  I hate that they are there, sitting in my head, wanting, begging to be released but finding none to come.  I hate the words that are forced, unappealing drivel.  I hate staring at a blank screen for hours.  I hate the crumbled up pieces of paper that fill my tiny, office trash can.  I hate being blocked.

I hate how others make it look so easy.  I hate reading words and free flowing ideas that contain a mastery of this language that make me think of my own inadequacies.  I hate being inferior.

I hate their success.  I hate how they are celebrated for their words, their substandard work that I know I could produce with both of my eyes closed.  I hate how their work is touted as being the very pinnacle of this profession.  I hate their simplicity.  I hate that their simplicity is loved.

I hate this world, in how it treats what I hold dear.  I hate that my love for the written word is a dying art.  I hate that as we are propelled further and further into the digital age, words become less important.  I hate that we now express ourselves through emojis.  I hate that it doesn’t feel like it will stop.

Despite all the hills and valleys, this perverse need to create is still within me.  No matter how long I abstain from it or how far I fall into the rabbit hole, the fire in my soul will never be quenched.  Life can hurl every obstacle and kill every muse, but I will continue with my noble cause.  I will love, hate, and feel every other intricate emotion in between them.  I will create world upon world, as many characters as the stars and enough stories to populate them all.  I will.  I will write.