Twenty-Seventeen

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A quotation from the walls of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I am
afraid. Folded in by the weight
of postcards and calls
links and 140 characters.
Always thinking about the invisible scales of equality  
between the unborn, the refugee, the immigrant, and those not living in privilege.

I am
certain that I have fingers
toes, a heart with blood pumping
slowly through my veins
as do you,
and them,
and us, but those that lead find
different ways to say
You Don’t Belong.

I question
my ability
my strength for this
test.
Yet I know that one cannot expect miracles
And God cannot do all the work

And so

Although I am afraid, I am certain. Although I question, I am ready.
I can be brave. I must be brave. I will be brave.


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Pulitzer Prize winning author Anthony Doerr put up this panel during his talk for the Arlington County Library. I wrote about that talk here.

Whenever I begin writing my annual New Year’s post I take a look at what I wrote the year before. Here is what I said in January 2016:

Continue reading “Twenty-Seventeen”

A Myth Reborn: The Force Awakens

This post originally appeared on FANgirl blog.

Beware! [Channeling Yoda] Beyond first paragraph, spoilers there be….

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“The bee in his bonnet was that history and myth are two aspects of a kind of grand pattern in human destiny: history is the mass of observable or recorded fact, but myth is the abstract or essence of it.” From The Manticore, Book 2 in the Deptford Trilogy, by Robertson Davies (p326)

Overwhelmed. That was the prevailing emotion I felt when I walked out of a theatre in downtown D.C. on December 17th. I can’t say it was because I was immediately blown away or that I had just witnessed cinematic perfection, but rather that I left my first screening of The Force Awakens with a sense of immense satisfaction jumbled up with a continuous stream of questions and ideas.

Whew. Continue reading “A Myth Reborn: The Force Awakens”

Three Days, Six Movies, and Stories to Come

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I can’t even.
Three days.
After a month of TV spots, interviews devoid of details but
full of excitement

It’s almost here.

I am self-aware that I am a willing consumer
For what is, on a very granular level,

Just a movie.

But we all know there is something more.
Something deeper.
Something beyond. Something Magic. Myth-Creation.

In a three day (over two months) spin
We’ve watched Four, Five, One, Two, Three, Six
And watched the narrative unfold.

A reminder:

Continue reading “Three Days, Six Movies, and Stories to Come”

Fundamental Truths: Forty-Six Days Until The Force Awakens

A day after the trailer for The Force Awakens aired I realized three fundamental truths at the exact same time.

  1. It was possible to feel 17 again.
  2. That in the absence of any real sense of story its possible to sway my opinion with a good score.
  3. That I am teetering on the edge of cautiously optimistic to sure thing.

Continue reading “Fundamental Truths: Forty-Six Days Until The Force Awakens”

The Cutest Droid In the Universe

I am trying to write shorter blog posts so here is my quick, fifteen-second, breakdown of the new The Force Awakens trailer. Hell. Yes.

ONE. Sand. Sand. Sand. BOOM. That buried star destroyer made me think of the Lusankya buried beneath the city of Coruscant — what happens to the detritus of these massive spaceships after battle? I guess they don’t all burn up in the atmosphere. Relics of a time gone past? Really, what a spectacular visual.

TWO.  The voiceover. “The Force is strong in my family. My father has it… I have it… my sister has it… you have that power, too.” Again we are seeing the blackened helmet of a father who fell so far before gaining redemption.

THREE. A passing of the torch. Rey the scavenger. Finn the stormtrooper. Poe the X-Wing pilot. Continue reading “The Cutest Droid In the Universe”

A Twinge of Loss. The Aftermath of the Star Wars Expanded Universe

This post originally appeared on FANgirl.

Han shot first. A toy in a prime television viewing spot at a friends house.
Han shot first. A toy in a prime television viewing spot at a friends house.

In eighth grade science class my friend Tracy slid me a folded piece of notebook paper. Scrawled across the top were the words “Star Wars Expanded Universe and Ratings” or something like that. On this paper she had painstakingly written out the name of each of the books marking each in turn with a series of stars. One for Children of the Jedi. Five for The Last Command. A blueprint for a newly inducted fan.

Soon I found myself devouring each book as it came along. Wanting to stay current, and let’s be honest, to know everything. In 1995, the internet was in its infancy, and my sphere of conversation on this topic was limited. But, boy, did I read.

I read regularly until the end of the New Jedi Order. Then things took a turn towards darkness. bugs, strange adventures, twisted Solo children. So I moved on, returning occasionally for a book by Timothy Zahn and to read about Mara’s demise firsthand. I felt like I owed it to her to read about her death, to pay my last respects.

Despite all this the internet kept me informed and it was enough. A single toe in a larger pond.

Enter Disney.

Let’s get this out of the way: I am hopeful. Cautiously optimistic. Filled with anticipation. Even thrilled now that we have three films in three years.

Seriously all — ROGUE ONE. Even if it isn’t linked to Michael Stackpole/Aaron Allston, the idea alone… Whew.

Then there was a notice about the new books, including a blurb about Star Wars: Aftermath, and there it was: an unexpected twinge next to my heart, a sudden moment of loss.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER ENDOR? FIND OUT IN STAR WARS: AFTERMATH Continue reading “A Twinge of Loss. The Aftermath of the Star Wars Expanded Universe”

Hodge Podge: Ordinary, Occasional, Spur-Of-The Moment

The silence on this blog hasn’t been so much due to a lack of inspiration, but rather the time — or the quiet — to put it all down on paper. A lot of what I’ve had to say comes between the lines of real-life events, catching up with friends, and spending pool side time with a book.

None of these moments are particularly revelatory. In fact, they are ordinary, occasional, spur-of-the-moment flashes of joy. Like nerding out every time the John Adams theme plays at a Washington Nationals game.

So the latest Hodge Podge is a look at 500 episodes of This American Life, A few short book reviews, and a round up of a mish-mash of things my brain stopped to examine in the last two months.

This American Life at 500

It would be funny to joke that the radio show was five-hundred years old, but really five hundred episodes of top-quality storytelling is something that deserves a few lines. When I first started this blog almost four years ago my intention was to spend every week commenting on the latest TAL episode. While that hasn’t exactly come to fruition, I still find myself listening every week and thinking about the people that are profiled, their lives and what they say about living and being a citizen of these United States.

So some of my favorites from the last two years in no particular order: Continue reading “Hodge Podge: Ordinary, Occasional, Spur-Of-The Moment”

Diary. Letter. Novel. Movie. Hologram. History.

This essay contains spoilers for David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.

There is a moment in the second half of Cloud Atlas when physicist Isaac Sachs posits a few theories on the nature of the past.

“Exposition: the workings of the actual past + the virtual past may be illustrated by an event well known to collective history, such as the sinking of the Titanic. The disaster as it actually occurred descends into obscurity as its eyewitnesses die off, documents perish + the wreck of the ship dissolves in its Atlantic grave. Yet a virtual sinking of the Titanic, created from reworked memories, papers, hearsay, fiction-in short, belief-grows ever “truer.” The actual past is brittle, ever-dimming + ever more problematic to access + reconstruct: in contrast, the virtual past is malleable, ever brightening + ever more difficult to circumvent/expose as fraudulent.”

This is nothing revelatory to those of us who work in the public history field–memory is fickle, the objects we interpret can only tell a fraction of the story and for every oral history produced a recognition of perspective is taken into account. In graduate school we spent days talking about authenticity trying to determine what exactly is the nature of historical truth. Continue reading “Diary. Letter. Novel. Movie. Hologram. History.”

2012: Turning, Turning, Turning Through the Years

writingWhen I started this blog in 2009 I had intended for it to serve as an outlet for these words I constantly have churning in my head. Words floating around after I step out into the world, asking–begging to be written down. These words are more than just a way to express myself, they are a way for me to paint a picture, tell a story, form a narrative. They are letters that form sentences that lead to ideas.

So when I look back at my words this year, I realize that 2012 was filled with milestones. When this blog goes live it will be my 108th post*, and the nineteen posts that made up this year have a few common themes. Some were labors of love (the history of Jim Crow, and my piece on public history, the American Revolution, and 1865) while others looked to my travels from Wisconsin to Washington State. I also attended some gorgeously produced theatre productions that pushed storytelling to the next level (not to mention the big Disney buys Lucasfilm news). With every word I put down I tried to embrace the connections between what we read, see, and watch and what we think following these experiences.

Continue reading “2012: Turning, Turning, Turning Through the Years”

A Long Time Ago…

I am a woman who loves history. I am a woman who loves storytelling and narratives of heroines and heroes that look beyond the black and white of good versus evil.

I am a woman who loves Star Wars.

This is not the blog post I intended to post earlier this week, that will probably come in a few days. Rather the sudden news yesterday that the Walt Disney Corporation has purchased Lucasfilm demanded a quick reflection.
Continue reading “A Long Time Ago…”