Bird Watching Beginner: Spark Bird

It’s hard for me to find hobbies I like. I’ve tried music, knitting, polymer clay, yoga (I know, I know, it’s a lifestyle). Nothing really captivates my attention or soothes for very long. Although, I am determined to learn guitar BECAUSE.

But I am a writer and writing, for me, is both a job and a hobby. I write when I’m not at my “day job” and I take writing very seriously. I strive for the best book covers, the best edits, the best stories I can tell. But the buck stops there. I’m not interested in making online courses, freelance editing, or implementing marketing strategies to sell more books. Or sell anything. I don’t want to sell you anything.

I have maybe 5 friends. One of them is my husband so he doesn’t really count but he’s my best friend so he does. And I like it that way. I don’t socialize, I don’t GO OUT and do things unless I’m with my mom or by myself and usually that’s just to walk around the neighborhood and take pictures of flowers. Or hiking. Beyond the day job, walking around sometimes, and writing, I don’t do anything (except read, watch TV, and play with the cats. very important).

A tiny part of me wants to change that. So I’m trying to find other hobbies to participate in so my brain doesn’t liquify.

Today I saw a bird I didn’t recognize. We get lots of cardinals, robins, and blue jays in our backyard but so far the most exotic bird I’ve seen here at home is the Brown-headed Cowbird. When I lived in Alabama there were Crows and Seagulls. And the occasional brown finch-like bird that is probably not a finch but I can’t be bothered to look up right now (House Finch).

This bird had black and white wings and a red throat. At first I thought it was a woodpecker of some kind because the coloring was right but the pattern on its back was slightly off and it had a cardinal’s beak. Not a woodpecker. I looked it up and found its name: Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

It’s my spark bird.

I learned about spark birds in Anna Russell’s Talk of the Town segment “Field Trip” in The New Yorker.

I did some research and discovered the works of Jason Ward and Lesley the Bird Nerd.

So now I really like bird watching. Mr. J bought me a pair of really nice Nikon binoculars.

Morning thoughts on working in academia

Not everyone gets to play in the sandbox.

Some have to stay in the weeds.

They get kicked out by the other kids.

Or they look at the sandbox and think: one of my colleagues peed in that. That is a gigantic litter box.

Or they get trapped on the jungle gym because the ground has turned to lava.

Either way I am in the weeds. I don’t play well with others and I don’t want to sit in someone else’s pee. Even if the sand absorbs it.

Waking Up

I don’t want to.

I don’t want to.

I don’t want to.

Fine. Whatever.


Not for anybody.

Dammit feed the cats.

Get up.

Get up.

Get up.

Trinity in the first scene from The Matrix GET UP



Maybe autobiographical. Maybe confessional. Am I still in bed?

Who I Was…

I find myself regressing.

Repeating behaviors I exhibited back when I was in college.

I cut all my hair off and am letting it grow out again only this time the cutting was from losing the battle to save my ends from a bad dye job, not a surrender to early 2000s punk rock.

I return to my mother’s house where I live in the old room I had in elementary school. We played musical rooms a lot, my family and I.

I wear the clothes I wore as a child: jeans and oversized t-shirts only this time because they’re comfortable and not because we were flat broke and the authorities felt the need to hide my rapidly developing curves (I had the second biggest breasts in middle school).

I used to smoke cigarettes and I miss them with all of my heart.

I would tape magazine pictures into my notebooks for collages instead of gluing them, the glossy strips formed a layer of protection, preservation, I felt I could never attain.

I wanted to be a vampire. I wanted to stay the same, never age, never gain weight, never feel anything but cold.

Now I hate the cold and I weigh 50 lbs more than that girl I want to go back to.

She made a lot of mistakes.

I want to give her a hug and tell her to stop hating herself.

I want to tell her everything’s going to be alright AND she will find the PERFECT PURSE even though she’s also going to fuck up many, many times.

Fucking up is okay.

Do you guys out there feel that way too? Do you notice little things that you thought you outgrew? Or things you haven’t done in a very long time like make a collage or cut your hair?

Do you replay all your fuckups and cringe?

It’s okay.

Three Voices

(Phone conversation)

Me: You sleep well, love.

Mr. J: You too, get plenty of rest.

Me: Okay.

Mr. J: Actually do it, get rest.

Me: (silence…I was actually thinking about fixing a plot point and not really paying attention.)

Mr. J: Actually do it. And don’t use your rebellious voice.

Me: (laughs) I don’t have a rebellious voice.

Mr. J: You have three.

Me: (laughs) Really?

Mr. J: Yep.

Me: Tell me about ’em.

Mr. J: No.

Movie Talk: Alita: Battle Angel

SPOILER ALERT. I’m going to be talking about stuff that’s in the movie, the anime, and the manga so if you don’t like spoilers don’t read this.

I’m going to give you a little bit of backstory so you know where I’m coming from when I say what I do about this movie.

This will probably be way more information that you ever wanted to know about me.

When Blockbuster was still around, you know, that place where you could rent movies on VHS, when I was in junior high, there was an extremely limited anime section. There were only maybe 10 or 15 anime tapes and most of them were the 3rd or 4th volume of a series so you had no way of knowing what was going on and a couple movies.

I remember seeing Ninja Scroll, Sailor Moon, Galaxy Express 999, Windaria, Bubblegum Crisis, Dirty Pair, and two or three with elves on the covers but I can’t remember what they were called. And Battle Angel.

Battle Angel was the 3rd anime I’d ever watched (First: Galaxy Express 999, Second: Iria: Zarem the Animation). It was gory as fuck. They vivisected a dog ON SCREEN. And then Alita (Gally in the English dub) tore the guy’s arm off. And then you got to see Dr. Chiren’s tits when that guy broke into her apartment and begged her to fix him.

I fucking loved that shit.

I love Alita. I love her optimism, her blind lust for vengeance, her determination. I loved watching her fall in love and I cried with her when she lost that love. The anime doesn’t go into her backstory very much so there aren’t as many references to her fighting style or her memory flashbacks.

That anime also inspired me to get more physically fit and I took up jiu-jitsu, I wanted to be a fighter just like Alita. When the bullies at school came after me I did what I thought Alita would do and–no I didn’t get into any fights, my mom would have skinned me alive if I got in trouble like that–I became a more emotionally healthy person.

Alita was my role model. And I probably watched Battle Angel 100+ times. Until I discovered the manga.

Back then Battle Angel: Last Order and Alita: Mars Chronicle had not been written yet so there were only 9 graphic novel volumes (nothing compared to One Piece’s 600-whatever) but those could have been a fucking encyclopedia for all I cared. IT WAS SO MUCH BATTLE ANGEL AND I WAS SO FUCKING EXCITED ABOUT THEM.

I learned that Gally’s name was really Alita and I learned all about her past and motorball (motorball wasn’t in the anime) and the full story of her and Hugo. I didn’t have many positive male role models growing up so I really clung to the father/daughter relationship between Alita and Doc Ido.

And there were robot dogs. You can’t get angry with robot dogs.

I want to learn how to play the harmonica because Alita plays harmonica.

And then there was THE TRUTH behind Zalem and what it actually meant to be part of the floating city. Alita destroys a suicide booth, y’all. Like, a booth you go into when life is so great and conflict free you get bored and want to kill yourself. She just jumps in there and rips this huge gear out of the floor. And then she screams about hypocrisy for a little bit. It’s great.

Alita’s story gave and continues to give me joy, hope, and encouragement in these troubling times and, as a writer, her character development and story arc are fantastic inspirations. I want Regina to be my version of the Battle Angel (not a carbon copy of the character, of course, that would be plagiarism); funny and vulnerable, good hearted and tough as fucking nails.

And then back in January this year I heard a fragment of the movie trailer from another room and I thought to myself, “There’s no way that guy said Alita.” But I looked on YouTube just to make sure and I almost gave my mom a heart attack when I screamed with delight. ALITA BATTLE ANGEL IS ON THE BIG SCREEN!




My favorite anime and manga character, my waifu if you want to dive that deep, was going to be in a major motion picture. And James Cameron had a hand in it. I knew, I just KNEW it was going to be epic.

And then my husband, Mr. J., crushed my dreams. He said all the reviews were bad and people were so disappointed and blah blah blah. And he said he didn’t want to see it with me even thought he would be visiting me during the opening week and our anniversary was the day before it released.

I told him I wouldn’t care if the movie was microwaved dog shit, I was still going to see it and I was going to damn well enjoy it because ALITA.

And then after it released Mr. J. ended up seeing it with me because more reviews had come out and they were less negative. And one of his co-workers saw it 3 times so he told me it couldn’t be that bad.

So, I’m pretty biased when I say that I thought the movie was fucking amazing. Even though there were some plot holes and they changed up a bunch of things.

I am going to talk about some of those things now. If you don’t want major spoilers do not read any further.

Continue reading Movie Talk: Alita: Battle Angel

New Friend

I didn’t get a lot of reading done this month for the same reasons I didn’t get a lot of writing done. I spent 2 weeks doing nothing but home repairs. I fucking hate home repair/improvement, whatever you want to call it. Painting, plumbing, electricity. All the small trees cut down in the back yard. I am DONE with home improvement/repair stuff. Just let me do the dishes and leave me alone!

See these pliers? They’ve seen some shit. We are battle buddies. These pliers are my best friend now. If there’s a fire, I am grabbing them before I grab my cats. That is how much they mean to me now.