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Yes, You Can: Go to a Concert By Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

Who doesn't love a good live music event? There's nothing quite like sitting on a grassy knoll on a blanket or lawn chair enjoying a perfect summer evening while indulging your ears in music that speaks to you. Well, let's face it, although outdoor summer concerts are great under the stars, indoor ones can be just as enjoyable with the right seats.

Experiencing a concert with one of your music soulmates, whether friend, shallow acquaintance, or romantic partner can be sweet. But what if you desperately want to grab tickets for an upcoming concert and you can't find a music buddy? For folks in a romantic relationship, more than likely, your special boo will go just to please you. As I have grown older, and my musical tastes have changed again, I find myself interested in seeing performers none of my friends are familiar with. Some of the things I have tried to avoid goin…

What the movie The Public got right about libraries

The Public, a new independent film directed by, written by, and starring Emilio Estevez, came out in select theaters in early April 2019. The film takes place in a public library in Cincinnati where many itinerant city dwellers spend their days making use of the facilities. On a particularly cold night, Cincinnati residents without homes decide to stage a peaceful protest by choosing not to leave the library at closing time, leaving city officials at a loss as to what to do.

Excited at the prospect of seeing a film set in a public library, I attended a screening of the film. Although the film contained some groan-worthy elements and perpetuated some librarian stereotypes, here's a list of things the movie The Public got right.

Crowds waiting for the doors to open. Although it didn't happen every day, many times I would look out the window before opening time and see a crowd of eager faces, ready to access all the library has to offer. It sometimes struck me as funny, seeing w…

Yes, You Can: Buy a House by Yourself, Part 1

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

My journey to buying my first house alone is a long meandering one, but it's worth telling and makes me proud that I was finally able to take the jump. Buying a house is one of those things that can seem daunting and impossible. The first step you have to overcome is just overcoming the negative thought in your mind that it's impossible. Once that bridge is crossed, it's really just a matter of putting the pieces into place. Often to reach this place, you have to reach a pain point where your current situation is so heinous and unbearable that the pain and struggle of buying a house seems the lesser of the two evils. You might think of this as the tipping point, or the point of no return. It's the point where going back is harder than moving forward.

When I became an adult, I moved to North Carolina alone with no previous connections to teach at a private school. I was…

Yes, You Can: Buy a House by Yourself, Part 2

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics.

Continued from part 1. Although I was nervous to think about buying a home alone, the thought of continuing on my present track was unbearable. My thought track went something like this: I am turning 40 years old. I'm a working professional. I can't keep living like this. I had managed to pay off all of my school loans, and I knew plenty of other people who were now home owners and somehow managed, even though they made less money than me. But much of my block was mental. I always thought of buying a home as something you do when you are married and ready to settle down. I had heard you should not even think of buying a house if you weren't prepared to stay in it at least 5 years. I had never lived anywhere longer than 2 1/2 years.

At this point, a friend of mine gave me the name of a realtor. I called him and started asking questions, and the impossible began to seem possi…

After She's Gone by Camilla Grebe: A Scandinavian thriller makes for a chilling read

Whether you call it Nordic Noir or a Scandinavian thriller, After She's Gone by Camilla Grebe does the job of creating that icy, chilly, somber mood that fans of this region's fiction love.

Ever since Stieg Larsson's iconic Millenium series came onto the scene, I have been fascinated with Scandinavian thrillers and books by non-Scandinavian authors that provide the same experience. After reading all of the Millenium books, I next read Tom Smith's brilliant novel, The Farm, where an adult son has to figure out which of his parents is lying to him about the other's intentions. It's a riveting novel that continues to linger in my mind as one of my most memorable reads.

Although I enjoy American thrillers such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn and British thrillers like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and anything by Clare Mackintosh, there's something about thrillers set in Sweden. Maybe it's the setting itself,…

Yes, You Can: Take a Vacation by Yourself

This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics. Solo vacationing can be one of the most freeing and relaxing ways to travel. I'm sure you can think of at least one time when you took a trip only to have your getaway ruined by your companion.

I love a good vacation. There's nothing better than taking a few days off to decompress and get away from the stress of life. In my family, even when we didn't have a lot of money, it was considered important to have these little weekends. Sometimes we stayed with a family member. Sometimes, we would drive an hour away to the closest big city and spend a night in the Holiday Inn Holidome (remember those?). We thought that was big stuff. There was an indoor pool and a video game arcade. Sometimes Mom and Dad would go out for dinner, and we three girls would get to order pizza and watch TV ALONE.

It wasn't always easy sharing a hotel room with 5 people, 4 of them being female. We …

Solo Living, Yes You Can

I was once interviewed on a podcast and given a list of question I should think about to prepare. One of those questions was: What is something you think you do better than most? At the time, I struggled to think of an answer. I could think of a bunch of skills I have, but something I do better than most means I can offer expertise to others that is sound. I finally came up with my answer: I can do life alone better than most.

I am 42 years old, have never been married, and have no kids. This isn't entirely by choice, although I've made choices along the way that contributed to my single status. I truly wish I had a marriage partner, but for me, it hasn't happened yet. One of the things that makes it bearable is my ability to do things alone and not allow my solo state to hold me back from living the life I desire. I have decided to start a series of posts about solo living.

The reason this seems worthwhile is that I purposefully didn't do things for many years becaus…

Peele's Us (2019) Movie Review

Although Jordan Peele's Us makes use of tried-and-true horror tropes, he repackages them with some very powerful imagery, an intriguing scenario, and a mostly black cast to paint a creepy tale with an interesting blend of gore and suspense. 
I am very fond of Stephen King's novel It, and the cold open gave me that feel with the 1985 carnival, where we meet young Adelaide and her parents. As she walks off alone and towards the beach, I half expected to see Pennywise with a balloon. The whole first scenario with her foray into the "Find Yourself" fun house and the cut to the wall of rabbit cages with the opening track from the soundtrack, Anthem, playing was pure gold. 
The well-know Us trailer showed everyone that a family of four gathering for a cozy coastal vacation is surprised to be invaded by a group in red jumpsuits, who just happen to look exactly like the family. But it doesn't show much more than that. I went into the film unsure of what to expect. I enj…

The Best of Enemies (2019) Movie Review

Politically, America is more divided than ever, with seemingly no room for compromise. The Best of Enemies is a true story that shows what can happen when very different people from different worlds come together and work for a common cause. The story is set in Durham, NC, 1971. Durham happens to be my current home, and residents of Durham are proud as can to call Ann Atwater a "favorite son" of Bull City.

Ann Atwater is an African American female who knows how to get things done. She appears to be the appointed mouth of her people. She is shown advocating for families who are being treated unfairly in the housing market. She attends town council meetings where a landlord might be called to task for treating families of color unfairly. When Ann is treated dismissively, she's not opposed to slapping someone on the head with a telephone receiver.

C.P. Ellis is also a natural leader and admired by many. He just happens to be the local leader of the Durham Klu Klux Klan. Na…

Five Feet Apart (2019): A Sick Lit Love Story With Heart and Some Schmaltz

In 2014, The Fault in our Stars, a teen novel by John Green, was released on screen, receiving mostly positive reviews. Yes, it was a love story about two teens with cancer, but it was told with such an honest and quirky voice that it rose above the average "sick lit" tale. Here was a teen to which readers/viewers could relate. In 2017, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, received the same treatment. This time, however, the story received less than stellar praise. Folks from the disabled community who were eager for representation in this movie were dismayed that the main character ended up not truly being sick (instead she's a victim of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy), adding to the many narratives featuring characters with disabilities or illnesses who are far from empowering.

Now in 2019, the newest "sick lit" story has come to the screen. In this case, however, the movie screenplay was written before the book. Five Feet Apart features Cole Sprouse as Will …

Dark series on Netflix Provides Mind-bending, Time Slip Experience

This is a spoiler-free review.
After the juggernaut that is Stranger Things season 2 Netflix dropped in October of 2017, everyone binge-watched it within 24 hours, looked around in a daze, and wondered out-loud, what do I watch next?

One of the recommendations I heard repeated multiple times is the German language thriller, Dark. All I knew is that there were missing children, kids on bikes, monolithic power plants, and creepy vibes. I began to watch the show, muddled my way through it at first, but fell into the storytelling deeply. I am currently re-watching the first season, as season 2 is scheduled to drop in June 2019.

Here's a snapshot. Our story takes place in a fictional small town of Winden, somewhere in Germany. The town is in a tizzy because there is a teenage boy missing, Erik Obendorf. The police have been unable to solve the crime, and so everyone is understandably upset and on high-alert. We also learn that another boy went missing under similar circumstances back i…

Panos Cosmatos, Mandy, and Beyond the Black Rainbow

Under the crimson primordial sky, 
the wretched warlock reached into the dark embrace
His fist closed around the serpent’s eye, strange and eternal.


My most loved movie of 2018 was Mandy, written and directed by Panos Cosmatos, and starring the ever-divisive Nicolas Cage. Red and Mandy live a peaceful life in the woods until a crazed cult leader decides he has to have Mandy. After his gang and some otherworldly creatures attack the couple, Mandy ends up being killed. Red spends the rest of the film getting revenge.

Cosmatos has directed only one other film, a trippy dreamy picture called Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010). Beyond the Black Rainbow takes place in a scientific institute where plants are grown that can supposedly make people feel enlightened and happy. But inside the institute, a young girl who is telepathic is kept captive. We see her plight, and then she escapes. Although Beyond is clearly an inferior film to Mandy, it has all the clear markings of its director’s paintbrus…

Roma (2018) Movie Review: A Window into the Life of a Working Class Woman

For every person who keeps their hands clean and smooth from doing heavy duty manual labor, there are people who work thanklessly in the background, making life comfortable for those few. This is the subject of Roma, a film set in Mexico City with original screenplay written in Spanish. Roma takes one of those hardworking people and brings her front and center.

Cleo is the housekeeper of a middle-class family in the 1970s. She cleans the house, cleans the dog poo off the house entrance, brings the family tea, and serves them at mealtime. Cleo comes across as diligent, hardworking, sweet, shy, non-demanding, and loving. The children seem to adore her. She is a constant in their lives, and they treat her as one would expect a person who demands or expects nothing in return. At times, she’s like wallpaper. Other times, they are affectionate with her and desire her attention.

There isn’t much plot to this movie. Cleo does have some romantic adventures and deals with an unexpected pregna…

Movie Review: If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

From the moment the trailer was released, I have anxiously been awaiting If Beale Street Could Talk. Due to my new job and my relocation to Durham, NC, I have become aware of my ignorance about the lives of others who don't share my background of being a white middle-class female in America. While I have always enjoyed seeing a wide variety of films, my interest has grown in seeing movies featuring characters of color.

In 2017, Theon Hill, an assistant professor at Wheaton College spoke at the ECPA Art of Writing conference, quoted James Baldwin and spoke highly of his writing. In 2018, the keynote speaker at the Joint Librarians of Color Conference, Benjamin Alire Saenz, also speak of James Baldwin and the impact he had on his writing career. And not too soon after, my father asked me if I'd ever heard of James Baldwin due to a pupil of his researching some of the author's work.

I have not read the book the movie was based upon by James Baldwin but is highly regarded in …

Glass Movie Review and Thoughts on Unbreakable and Split

** This reviews contains spoilers from Unbreakable and Split but not of Glass. **

Glass (2019) gives fans of M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016) the chance to see what happens when David, Elijah, and Kevin and his many personalities come together in one hospital and one one screen. It's hard to believe that it's been almost 20 years since Unbreakable captured my attention and heart on screen. I remember vividly watching the first film and being captivated with its storyline. The trailer gave almost nothing away. Yes, there was a time when trailers didn't show all the exciting scenes. All viewers knew is that David Dunn (Bruce Willis) was the sole survivor of a train crash. If you have time, go watch the trailer and see what I mean.

Instead of a survivor story though, Unbreakable takes viewers on a journey that includes love, loss, trauma, and man that has been "getting by" for quite some time now because of a moment of significance. He…

The Tradition of the Annual Debbie Macomber Christmas Book

My tradition of reading the annual Debbie Macomber Christmas romance novel started like any tradition does -- by my doing something one time, enjoying, and repeating the experience each year. Before you know it, the repeated action becomes a tradition, and you can't imagine life without it. I don't read any other Macomber novels, but I do read her Christmas books. I normally finish them on the 90 minute flight home.

If you aren't familiar with Macomber's line of Christmas books, let's just say they are similar to a Hallmark movie experience. There is always a smart, savvy female who is stubborn and a rugged curmudgeonly man, often the type that would reside in isolation, in Alaska, for instance. He is normally wealthy, and she normally has a career and feels torn by her feelings. The two fight their attraction but, by the end, they just can't help themselves and fall in love. 
I believe my first Debbie Macomber Christmas book was her 2003 The Snow Bride. Just …

Scythe by Neal Shusterman Book Review

As humans, we understand our time on this Earth is limited. We therefore strive to live in a certain way. We create patterns and ways of living that set us for success in the way we define it.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman, book 1 of the Arc of a Scythe duology asks us to imagine a world where no one dies. What if life could go on forever? There is no sickness, no poverty. Everyone has what they need because the Thunderhead, a futuristic imagining of an evolved Siri or Alexa, has solved all of the world's problems that people could not. Freed from the corruption humans carry in themselves, the Thunderhead has made it so that people now live forever.

But of course a new problem exists -- overcrowding and limited resources. Hence the scythedom was created. In this system, men and women are ordained as scythes who must glean around 5 times a week. A gleaning is a legalized killing. Free of malice or motive, scythes must fill a quota of kills, that are statistically backed up. No preferen…

Border (2018): A Dark Swedish Fairy Tale

Have you ever felt like you are alone? Like you exist and move around in a community of people that you are nothing like?

Imagine how Tina feels. She works as a highly competent border guard for the sole reason that her sense of smell is extrasensory. She can smell fear, shame, and any negative emotion on people as they cross through her security area, and she is never wrong about her suspicions. Her work career, however, might be the only thing she has going for her.

She lives on the outskirts of town with a boyfriend that owns a pack of dogs, and from all counts, they live together in a loveless domestic arrangement that is hard to imagine either of them conceiving. Things become a little clearer later as we learn that Tina owns the home and the boyfriend is enjoying the luxury of living rent free. Tina appears to have no family except for the man she calls father, who claims to have adopted her.

Tina is unattractive by human standards and is most often seen staring attentively and …