Some Thoughts on Amazon’s The Boys

blog post august 5th 2019

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019. 

I just finished watching Amazon’s The Boys and have some observations I’d like to share with you all. First of all, I absolutely loved the idea of seeing superheroes, for once, being heavily flawed, culpable, and not as infallible as they’re always depicted. I also really liked how “The Boys” were “the good guys” or anti-heroes, really.

I have always had several issues with superheroes that I never voiced out loud for many years. My views may be seen as a widely unpopular opinion but here goes anyway. I always quietly noted all of the violence, all of the deaths, especially all of the collateral damage that was done while superheroes purportedly “saved the day.” You rarely see the superheroes acknowledging or taking a moment to apologize, to grieve, or to recognize all of the senseless lives lost and if they do it’s a mere afterthought. These superheroes are always larger than life characters who were given these powers and decided to dedicate their lives to being noble while saving the world from crime. But what if it’s not so black and white as we’ve been accustomed to while watching or reading tales in the DC or Marvel Universe?

The Boys provides a view of what it might really be like living in a world with superheroes in this day and age. We are heavily tied to technology and you can’t get away with anything these days without someone catching your actions on their phone and posting it to several social media outlets. You have to be careful with what you say, spin your words in a way that will get people to follow you, believe in your actions, and even pick a group, and with this show, in particular, the religious community and have them support your cause. In this world, they were made to be superheroes at birth and it wasn’t by some freak accident or some other hackneyed cause that became commonplace with superhero origin stories. We see how the individuals who are known as “The Seven” cope with their superhero status and how they unravel in front of our very eyes in quite a sight to behold.

You have A-Train who is fighting to keep his status as the fastest man alive, facing the reality of aging and the limitations of his body and toying around with Compound V to help him maintain his status as a renowned and beloved superhero. He inadvertently kills someone while speeding through residential streets with little regard for anyone but himself. He even sacrifices his own beloved Popclaw to cover up one of his many messes. To what end do your actions persist without consequences? One of the most poignant moments in the series is A-Train’s last conversation with Popclaw before killing her where he recalls what foods she ordered on their first date. He told her that he was impressed by her choice and loved how she wasn’t afraid to be happy. That was the most authentic moment that character had the entire season and that was the only chance we got to see A-Train being truly vulnerable, away from the Compound V, away from the influences of Homelander and Stillwell and Vought.

These “supes” as they’re known, are so scripted and violated and destroyed mentally as they’re constantly reminded by those around them how privileged they are to be apart of this elite group but what they had to do to get there is just way beyond what the average human being would tolerate just to become famous.

I always equated superheroes with the popular kids in high school. These are the kids who naturally excelled at sports, the beautiful young girls who were cheerleaders or chosen homecoming and/or prom queen, the Ivy-league bound kids, etc. These were the kids that I had the least in common with growing up. I was always awkward, shy, overweight, never pretty, plain to look at, unremarkable in every sense of the word. I’ve been bullied, fat-shamed, emotionally tormented, and so on my entire life and it has become something I’m used to. With every hardship I’ve endured and whenever I happen to tell my story to other people they always tell me how they are so impressed by how level-headed, smart, and accomplished I am. They tell me how strong I am to have gone through everything I’ve gone through and never turn to drugs, or alcohol or worse. I take my pain and I turn it into something positive. My weapon of choice has always been my words. I use words to make sense of my feelings. I use words to educate others to be better people. I use words to teach people tolerance, positivity, compassion, empathy, love, and respect.

I’m no superhero. I often end up sympathizing with the villains sometimes. Not that I’d ever condone any of their abhorrent actions. I can just sometimes relate more to their backstories and can understand how these villains did not have the mental fortitude to turn an extremely negative and unfortunate event in their lives and turn it into a positive.

This show, I realize, relies heavily on karma to serve these so-called heroes and heroines their just desserts. From A-Trains broken leg, to Translucents unfortunate demise, to The Deep’s gill violation,  to Queen Maeve’s coming to terms with letting all of those people die on that plane and the bitter loneliness she exhibits on a day to day basis just being her, to Homelander’s desperate need to father a child only to find out that he had a child as a result of his raping Butcher’s wife but only finding out several years later that the child actually survived. All of those cliched colloquialisms apply here: Fate catches up to us all, You get what you deserve, You reap what you sow. You get the point.

This show had raised so many thoughts and questions and I was really impressed from beginning to end. I was kind of dragging my feet starting this series and I rolled my eyes at the mere thought of watching yet another superhero driven series. This concept highly fatigues me and the concept has to be really mind-blowingly good for me to not fall asleep or even forgo watching it altogether. I really liked how the tables were turned and made what we would normally consider the villains as the kind of heroes/anti-heroes of the story. I liked how the superheroes weren’t always perfect, were heavily flawed, and weren’t even good people most of the time. I liked how Starlight was the young ingenue getting into something she thought was so noble and worthy only to be disillusioned and wrecked practically from day one after her sickening encounter with The Deep. We’ve all had moments where we find out that some of our heroes are not good people in real life and how scripted the majority of people whom we admire actually are and how Hollywood lies, and how things are absolutely not always as they seem. Thanks for reading my observations. I’d love to hear about your thoughts on the show. Remember, if you decide to leave a comment, only positive comments will be published, so keep it clean, keep it polite, keep it respectful, folks.

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My new novella, John of Art, is out now and is available for paperback and Kindle ebook on Amazon. It is also available as an ebook wherever ebooks are sold. If you’d like to get a copy of the paperback, just click the picture below and it will lead you to Amazon to purchase your copy of the new novella. Thanks to all of you who have already purchased your copy. I am in the process of making the paperback available through other platforms and my voice over artist is currently working on the audiobook and that will be released in September most likely.  Currently, I’m working on a couple of new things. I am working on possibly doing some book signings. I have just sent out a few inquiries regarding that so I don’t know if that will happen yet but will let you all know if and when that actually occurs. Thanks again and have a great week everyone!

Limited Release of My Latest Novella, John of Art, Available Now on Amazon!

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

John of Art, the second novella in the Seasons of Change novellas, is now available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle e-book format. Click on the first picture below of the book cover to get your copy now! $12 paperback/$10 Kindle e-Book

Click this picture below for your copy of John of Art!

ABSOLUTE FINAL BACK BOOK COVER

Back Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the blurb for John of Art:

John of Art, a sequel to A Wynter’s Tale, is the newest novella in The Moonlit Goddess’ Seasons of Change series.
Wynn and Lin are settling into their newly married life in Wister Bay, Maine. When Wynn gets some devastating news about his new fledgling business, he and Lin find themselves in a familiar predicament that brought them together years back. As Wynn tries to re-navigate his life once again, Lin’s business as a psychologist is thriving. Her new client, Simone Soares, comes to Lin seeking coping strategies for her depression and anxiety. The majority of Simone’s troubles stem from her caring for her ailing father, João “John” Soares, who is suffering from advanced dementia. What Simone got instead was a whirlwind of chaos she had not expected. A chance meeting with a mysterious, out of town stranger helps Simone handle her grief, financial hardships, and the origins of her birth. With the help of those around her, Simone learns compassion, empathy, inner strength, and above all else, forgiveness.

For the first time, my new work is now featured in e-book format in other outlets like B&N, iBooks, and anywhere e-Books are sold. Just look me up under any search as PSG Lopes (The Moonlit Goddess Presents: A Seasons of Change Novella: John of Art)  wherever you purchase your e-Books. Paperbacks through new outlets will also be available soon and I’ll make those links available to you all as the author copy of the paperback is approved in the upcoming weeks. I am using a different distributor aside from Amazon this time around in order to make my work more readily available to a broader audience. It’s a lot of fine-tuning and making sure everything is perfect before I release the paperback version through B&N, and other outlets. Lastly, the audiobook will be produced soon and will be coming out in late summer. I will update you all and provide the link for that as well when the time comes. The book has a song which accompanies it and you can listen to that here:

www.themoonlitgoddess.bandcamp.com

Thank you all for continuing to visit my website and supporting my work!

I’ve already got my eye on my next two projects and I’m in the developing stages of both! I’m always thinking ahead!

The Vulnerability of Humanity

blog july 2nd 2019

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

People often confuse hardships and moments of vulnerability for weakness and naivete. Some people have a knack for spotting the defenseless people and honing in on them and targeting them as their prey.

When I went through my hardships at the beginning of the year, I became more hyper-vigilant of those who genuinely cared and wanted to help me and those who thrived on my hardships. I’ve developed a saying for myself, “I like my friendships and relationships like I like my crayons–non-toxic.” That’s my motto for 2019. I am staying away from those who do not serve me in a productive and healthy way. There are so many people out there who are hurting and going through their own hardships. That’s the time to help nurture them and raise them up not expend negative emotions to tear them down. You don’t use that knowledge of an individual’s pain as ammunition to hurt or harm them in any way.

When I started my writing line and began publishing my own books, I started really paying attention to the people around me. People started changing the way that they spoke to me. You could clearly tell that some people were actually jealous of me. People started unfollowing me on social media. People started avoiding me when they saw me on the streets and those who I thought were my friends had all forsaken me. The writing journey has certainly not been an easy ride for me, that’s for sure. I consider myself wildly ambitious and if someone who I invite into my creative circle does not exhibit the same drive as I do, they become a liability.

It’s not easy to say no to people or to move on in a different creative direction. People are sensitive. People get hurt. But you have to be mature, and adult and people have to recognize that you have a vision and you work really hard for that vision and you want those around you to share in that enthusiasm without being cruel, hurtful, spiteful, or by saying disparaging words meant to psych you out and discourage you from continuing. I work really hard on all my work. I especially work hard on being original. I also pride myself on being a damn good human being and I respect everyone in my life and I respect their schedules, their struggles, their pain. I recognize that and I am supportive and I would never slight someone for their individual struggles in life. I aim to make every person who leaves my side at the end of the day to feel good about themselves. I’d never make any human being feel less than who they were simply because of what was going on in my own personal life.

Humans are remarkable. We will exhibit moments of sheer pleasure and moments of sheer anguish and we bounce back and we recuperate and we move on and we come full circle and experience sheer pleasure and sheer anguish on and off over and over for the duration of our lives. Despite my hardships this year, I choose to focus on all of the good I’ve done this year. I published my third poetry anthology, my second children’s book, I worked with a lovely woman to get my audiobook done for A Wynter’s Tale, I was featured in two newspaper articles, and in August my second song and my second novella will be released. I also have some other opportunities that I’m waiting to hear about that I’m really excited about and may help get me to the next level of my career. So with every negative experience whether it’s a soured relationship, soured friendship, illness of a loved one, or whatever I may be experiencing, I choose to remember that I’m going through the anguish part of my circle and I will eventually turn around and find the pleasure of my life circle once again. Just be patient. It will come. I just need to ride out the negative wave and I’ll get to where I need to be. And patient I am.

I had a long talk with my mother the other day and she and I agreed that medication for my depression was not a suitable option. She told me that she noticed that my confidence was gone and she saw how I interacted with others and realized that that stemmed from my weight. She agreed that if I lost some weight that would help me regain my confidence which would then ease the depression and anxiety that I am feeling. She bought me three self-help books to help me navigate the next few months of my life. I found one book that will help me creatively, I found one book that will help navigate through my traumas in life, and I found one book that is a diet and exercise regimen for those with depression and anxiety. So that is my summer reading and my self-help project this summer. I am working hard on being the best possible version of myself away from the toxic atmosphere around me. I have learned to stay away from those with nothing nice to say about others because they don’t have the tools to properly navigate the hardships that they’re experiencing. I will not begrudge others for the hate in their hearts because that’s just not who I am. I wish them well and I choose to worry about working on myself and being my best authentic self.  I don’t put myself into situations where I’d harm someone else. I don’t get into toxic relationships where I know the other person does not want me. I don’t fight for friendships that do not serve me in a productive and positive manner. I have nothing but pure-hearted love in my soul and wish only the very best of others and I will always root for them no matter how cruel or how rude, or how mean their words are. I know that with every cruelty, with every sharp lash of their painful words, those people are hurting too and my only wish for them is for them to find their inner peace. I am finding it in my writing and my music and my art and my photography. There are the doers in this world and the dreamers. In 2019, I have finally solidified my future as one of the doers. I am making my dreams come true. Sorry to those who don’t understand or who are jealous or who don’t have the courage yet to follow their dreams. My best advice is if you want something bad enough don’t focus on what I’m doing, worry about making you the best you that you can be. Don’t worry about my accomplishments, worry about how can you improve and make your dreams become a reality. I’ve learned my lesson in life. I know that I’m a good person who opens up to everyone I meet but I also am wary about those who use the words I’ve given them and allowing them to use those words as weapons against me.

My book is on track for August 15th release. My song will be done by then as well. I work really hard on my writing and my music and I work incredibly hard to produce something original, unique, and the words of my writing and the melodies of my songs are unlike anything else out there. Everyone on my team is positive, encouraging, nurturing and loving. These are people who have exhibited real pain in life but still know how to be a friend and work together for a common cause. Those who adhere to deadlines, respect other’s time and work, and will work together to put together some really great and memorable stuff. There’s no room for toxicity. We are all in this together. I love you all. And genuinely wish you all well. I will forever and always cheer you on.

John of Art is the sequel to A Wynter’s Tale. For those of you who want to read the first book before John of Art’s release in August please check out A Wynter’s Tale on paperback, ebook (Kindle), or audiobook in the following links below. Thank you as always for your continued love and support. It always means the world to me.

A Wynter’s Tale Ebook (Kindle edition): https://amzn.to/2xrnHZa

A Wynter’s Tale Paperback: https://amzn.to/2Jh33Ay

A Wynter’s Tale Audiobook: tinyurl.com/y234qddk

 

Here are some promo codes for the audiobook for my UK/US readers/audiobook listeners:

UK:

63YY6XLB44SX2

6SD66HTRRHZ5K

86WWER9THC4UL

US:

2YWGDZFK55E82

3SAWYYYYBSP5U

5M3LUUT8JKEBK

Promo Codes can be redeemed at the following websites:

UK: https://audible.co.uk/acx-promo

US: https://audible.com/acx-promo

 

My Thoughts Moving Forward

blog post 2019 june 25th

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES, UNLESS EXPLICITLY EXPRESSED OTHERWISE. FEATURED PHOTO TODAY IS FROM HIDDEN TRANSFORMATIONS COLORING BOOK PUBLISHED BY MINDWARE 2007. ALL RESPECTIVE RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019. 

I realize it has been a hot minute since I have posted anything on my blog. I have been going through some personal issues that I needed to take care of in order to move forward with my writing and other ventures.

As many of my readers are already aware of, I have been a lifelong sufferer of depression and anxiety. I sought help in 2002 right after college but I didn’t stick with the regimen because my doctor ended up dying and I was sick of feeling like utter crap and no one helping me or understanding me that I went rogue and stopped going to therapy and quit the medicine I was taking cold turkey. Until then, I’ve endured many hardships but I’ve had some happy moments mixed in and was able to compartmentalize my depression and anxiety and bounce myself back to my own state of equilibrium and I was able to function in my own way. Yes, the underlying issues still remained but I was able to be a functioning depressed and anxious person for a very long time.

This year, I’ve faced one hardship too many and this was the very first time in my adult life that I found it virtually impossible to bounce back the way that I needed to in order to continue being a productive member of society. I just couldn’t handle things on my own anymore. The very last straw was how I was treated at my old doctor’s office in early May. I snapped and decided that enough was enough. I have been shit on my entire life and I wasn’t going to allow anyone else to speak to me in the way that I was spoken to that day. That was the very last day I was ever going to allow people to speak to me like I was lower than they were. I have accomplished so much in my life, so much more than most around me. I am not nothing. I have value and I deserve to be treated like everyone else. Today’s photo is a coloring book page that I found from a book in 2007. When I first saw the picture I thought it looked like me in my twenties, that’s why I liked it so much. Upon coloring the photo, the picture came to life to me and I wished I was that person in that photo: strong, powerful, beautiful, graceful, and poised, instead of the falling down mess I became in my thirties.

I realized I desperately needed help and the first step to getting that help was seeking out a new primary doctor. Due to the limitations of my insurance, I had to settle for another male doctor. I was very nervous going into the appointment the first time. I was grateful that my mom was able to go with me both times that I went so far. Thanks, mom! I have developed this new mantra based on Adelita’s Way song “Ready for War.” They sing, “I pray for peace but I’m ready for war.” That’s my new mantra. I go into every new situation hoping for a peaceful interaction but secretly my fists are clenched and I’m ready to fight holy hell if I have to to get to a healthy place mentally and physically. I went into my doctor’s appointment, not at all hopeful and waiting for the same spiel, “You’re fat, lose weight, here’s a bunch of prescription, come back in six months.” But what I found, pleasantly surprised me. He just had this positive aura about him right from walking into the room. I just knew instantly that I could trust him. I spoke to him, choking back tears, bravely telling him every single thing that had been holding me back for years and he not only listened, he handed me tissues, he gave me permission to feel how I felt, he gave me permission to relax and just let life happen, and not bear the burdens of the entire world on my shoulder. He is teaching me to tackle one thing at a time and that I can do what I can but I’m not a failure if I can’t do it all in one day. I was so relieved to finally find someone who fucking understands. I waited twenty years to hear those words even though, I really needed that every day my whole damn life.

I am finally getting my life back on track. I did bloodwork and I’m happy to report that I’m a fucking healthy thirty-eight-year-old woman! Fuck the assholes who are so concerned about my weight. I’m metabolically healthy and I’m proud of my body and I don’t need to fit into the standards of society. I go for walks when I can, and I mix good food with the bad so fuck everyone else who has a problem with me. This bitch is fat and she’s most likely staying this way for a while, at least until I get my shit together.

I am going back to therapy, I also made appointments for other doctors like gynecologist, dermatologist, etc. I finally feel like I have control over my life again. Everything was collapsing around me beginning this new years eve with my breakup, my dad nearly dying, and just trying to deal with all of the drama around me. The force field around me that I used to protect myself was weakening and I couldn’t hold on any longer. I was so relieved to unleash all of my heart’s burdens to my doctor. Like Carrie Underwood’s song, “Jesus Take the Wheel,” I’m not a religious woman, but I was so the personification of that sentiment that day. I gave all of my burdens to my doctor and he was more than happy to take them away from me, give me permission to feel, and help me acknowledge that I won’t get the answers that I crave for closure and described my life experiences as a gallery in an art museum and he said that some exhibits I can visit freely pain-free, but some I’m going to have to put a tarp over and walk by and that’s okay. Sometimes things just don’t get resolved no matter how much I grieve or revisit, or self-blame, or torture myself over. Shit happens basically. I needed to hear that more than anyone will ever know. I want to thank that man so much for not only saving my life, but seeing my life as something worth saving. He will never quite understand the immensity of his words that first day. Even his entire staff was helpful and kind and that meant the entire world to me too. So, thank you!

That all helped me put things into perspective and help re-set my mindset for my writing and other future ventures. I am a little behind on my editing of John of Art but I still have the tentative release date for both the song and the book as August 15th. I really want to make sure that this book is absolutely perfect. I don’t have any means of recording the song in a way that is professional so I’m just going to sing it and place it on my Bandcamp account when I’m releasing the book on the same day and will be sure to post links for both. If you noticed my Amazon Author Page, I did release the song lyrics already to the
John of Art song. It’s available for 99 cents for the Kindle, if anyone is interested in supporting me and getting a glimpse of song lyrics, I’d appreciate your support and feedback. You can access this and my other works on my Amazon Author Page here: amazon.com/author/psglopes

I found a wonderful resource in Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. This book opened my eyes for a lot of reasons. I always felt like a loser asking people for donations for my work. I first utilized crowdfunding in 2014 when I was hoping to finish my phd. I ran out of funding for the oral defense and sought out the help of others. I will never forget my cousin, Julie, gave me one hundred dollars. I felt so touched by this gesture. I was not accustomed to having family believe in me and when she told me that she believed in me that moment changed me forever. Even though I didn’t meet my goal for the crowdfunding, I never forgot her kindness and I always promised myself to return the favor somehow someday but I never was in a position to do so. I was always struggling and coming up for air my whole life. But I want her to know that I will never forget that one moment of pure kindness. That moment taught me so much. It taught me that there are still amazing people out there. It taught me that there’s no shame in asking for help when you’ve exhausted all your other options. I’ve learned that it’s not being pathetic or foolish reaching out and asking for others’ help. I have just befriended an individual who lives in the deep south and he told me that in that area they are big on being neighborly and that’s what’s missing in the area in which I live, that long-lost concept of neighbors helping out neighbors.

I no longer feel foolish in asking for help when I need it. I feel that what I’m doing is powerful and can help a lot of people and I wish to continue fighting for my work. If others come along and help I’ll always be greatly appreciative but I’m no longer going to see it as modern day panhandling. Especially in the arts where people have to fight tooth and nail to keep art alive nowadays. Every bit of help counts and matters, as long as we work together to keep art thriving and alive.

On that note, I do have a Patreon account mostly for professional editing services and to produce my song professionally. If you are interested in taking a look you’ll find that page here: www.patreon.com/themoonlitgoddess

I thank you all as always for coming back and checking up on me and what I’ve got going on in my life. I hope that my words prove helpful and encourages others to seek help if they need it. What I’ve learned from my ordeal is you have to be persistent and not give up after the first try. You have to shout louder and louder each time until someone finally hears you. There are people out there who will listen. I wish you all a productive and fruitful week full of laughter, love, hope, and friendship. Let us continue to be good to one another and lift each other up when things are not going well in our lives. Judgment has no place at my dinner table.

My Radical Conclusion

Blog May 2, 2019

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, 2019.

I am still pretty much fuming over yesterday’s ridiculousness over the embarrassment I exhibited in the doctor’s office. But instead of being negative about it, I decided to be productive and spent the remainder of the day searching for a new primary care physician (female this time, and a real doctor not these cute P.A.’s or whatever bullshit scam this country is peddling upon its citizens in lieu of legitimate healthcare). I also found a reputable ENT relatively nearby so that I am able to officially get some sort of hearing aid device for myself. I am sick and tired of being treated like a second class citizen. And I shouldn’t have to explain why I decided to start taking better care of myself. I am doing so because I fucking want to that’s why!

I was born in America. I have worked incredibly hard over the years just like everyone else. My means for someday obtaining financial freedom may be unconventional and not understood by those who were brainwashed into thinking that having someone else signing your paycheck is the only way to be respected and valued in the community. I am fiercely ambitious and you may consider me crazy but I will not stop fighting for a better life, for a better world, and my way of doing that is through my writing and art. This year, I feel that I have seamlessly transitioned from hobby writer to career writer and even though I’m not rolling in the dough, I have value, I am respected in my field, and I do deserve the same consideration and care as everyone else on the planet.

I read this amazing quote by Audre Lorde today. She once said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” That’s the mantra I am currently adopting. I’m not going to let anyone guilt me into thinking that I’m not worth proper healthcare and I don’t have to justify why I’m seeking assistance in getting hearing aids, or bloodwork, or any other thing that will ensure that I remain healthy and mentally happy and at peace.

For years, I’ve allowed people to bring me down, to mock me, to make me feel inferior. But what have those people truly accomplished in their lives? Anyone can get married and/or divorced, have a slew of unruly kids, settle for a nine to five job making someone else richer, buy a home, a car and buy other materialistic bullshit that they just don’t need. I once prescribed to that notion. I felt hollow, empty for not being like everyone else. I tried the whole relationship thing. I was fed notions of possibly having a happily ever after, living in my own home, and all that. But I realized happiness is found from within and I feel truly fulfilled and free when I’m writing. I feel validated and purposeful and I know that my message is a strong one and others need to hear this message too so that we can all break these damaging so-called social norms that make people believe they need to achieve certain things and reach certain goals in order to make them feel whole. Granted, one may feel fulfilled with the lives that they currently have. I’m not arguing that my way is better than anyone else’s. My argument here is to respect that there is more than one way to fry an egg. Happiness is individualized. My happiness differs from yours. And vice-versa. I realize I give too much clout to others and their opinions. But it makes me fucking furious thinking there are people out there who appear villainous and actually thrive on seeing people fail and falling flat on their faces. This rage fires deep within me and I will not stop until I am recognized for my positive contributions to society.

I noticed right away since I was a little girl that I was not like everyone else. My first bra was a neon green disaster. I wore neon pink bicycle shorts and a playboy t-shirt hand-me-down from my older brother. My hair cuts were never fashionable and always uneven. I always got dirty from doing somersaults in the park falling into piles of geese-poop horribly embarrassing family and friends. I have fallen down concrete steps, knees bleeding profusely, while my dad was part of a Portugal day festival in the city hall where I grew up totally shaming my family and godparents. I have fallen down stairs more often than not, that was a major theme in my childhood. I have fallen after attempting to climb a retaining wall in fear of missing the school bus as my sister watched in horror from the school bus in front of all of her friends. I am shy, I am weird, I don’t smell the greatest all the time, I cry a lot and can’t control my emotions and sometimes appear somewhat of a crazy person when I am horribly triggered by cruel and mean-spirited people. I’m outspoken and feisty and have this unusual blend of soft-heartedness and lion-heartedness that often fight together until they harmoniously decide to get along and help me be the productive person that I am today.

I say and do weird things making others uncomfortable. I curse like a sailor on leave, I burp, I fart, I eat with my elbows on the table, I am comfortable talking about my bowel movements in front of family at the dinner table, I laugh at fart jokes and enjoy potty humor, and I wear dresses with stains on them that are not ironed and have cat fur all over them. My hair is in knots, my mother and sister forced me to dye my hair because it had ten-inch gray roots and they bought me hair dye from the supermarket so that I’d look decent for my latest newspaper interview. I may look like I have it all put together in my profile picture, but I’m a wild, feral, hot mess and I have been this way since the day I popped out of my mom’s vagina.

I say and do awkward shit, I can count the number of friends I have on one finger, I eat noisily and fast, I enjoy Mexican food and ice cold root beer and I am done apologizing for who I am.

For those who question why I dress well and have nice boots even though I don’t currently make a lot of money with my writing, don’t realize that my clothes are either donated to me by my mom since we are the same size, or clothes I have purchased years ago when I was teaching. I am not fussy about clothes and just wear old stuff that I take care of because I’m not a behemoth beast. I also notoriously hate wearing shoes and I only own 5 pairs of shoes. I own flip flops to wear around the house, sneakers to go walking in outdoors, my very old Doc Martens flowery boots which may look nice on the outside but smell like your grandma’s crotch on the inside from years of wear, my sandals for the summer that are on their last leg and are about to bust apart at the straps, and my winter boots to ward against ice and snow. I am sick of justifying who I am to others who lack any sort of emotional intelligence or even general intelligence. The amount of willfully ignorant people around me are astounding and no amount of education can create the level of self-awareness and common sense people need to really pay attention to the things that really matter around us.

To the person who stole my quarter bug juice at snack time consecutively every day for 180 school days in Kindergarten and I never said a thing to stop her, to the kid who spat in my face with a mouth full of ham and mayo every day at lunch consecutively every day for 180 days in 1st grade and I never said a thing to stop him, to the little bitch who lied and told the teacher I threw her down the stairs during dismissal when I was nowhere near her in line and I never defended myself, to the teacher who shamed me when I didn’t understand long division showing the class my paper with a zero on it trying to shame me into somehow magically passing not realizing it wasn’t because I wasn’t studying, it was because I just didn’t understand what to do and she did a lousy job teaching me, who will also never know that I got straight A’s in math from senior year in high school all throughout my college career including bachelors, masters, and doctorate years, to the bullies who called me fat and have compared me to every fat actress out there like that is some sort of insult when all of those so-called “fat actresses” are the people whom I admire the most in Hollywood, to the student who called me an idiot who provided the final straw on my last day of substitute teaching and made me finally realize that it was time to move on and taught me that I deserved so much more than the bullshit I was being served, to all of my abusers and oppressors of all forms who have created this neurotic, anxious, and often, depressed individual, I will continue to fight not for you, not because of you, but in spite of you and your patheticness. I continue to write in spite of you. I pour my emotions on this page in spite of you. To send a message to the world, who so desperately needs to hear it that whatever someone does and whatever their circumstances are, happens to be none of anyone’s business but their own, and what works for one person does not work for all. Everyone is on the same team and we are all battling the same villains. Instead of turning on each other and being cruel and meanspirited, reach your hand out to heal, not to destroy. Because you don’t know what is going on in another person’s mind. You’ll never know. I’ll leave you all with another one of my all-time favorite quotes from R.J. Palacio’s marvelous book, Wonder, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” Believe me. It makes all the difference!

By the way, I chose today’s photo because it looked like the middle flowers were flipping the bird. It seemed apropos given today’s topic. Alright, NOW I will choose kind! 🙂

(Of course, I appreciate all of my readers and followers but I wanted to give a shout out to one new follower in particular who gave me props for yesterday’s blog–My message to you is to always keep fighting for what truly matters in life and never let anyone tell you no!)

 

The Old Depression Debate

blog pic february 5th 2019

ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Before I begin tonight’s topic, I just want to say that the past two weeks have been incredibly hectic for me. I’ve been trying my darnedest to get my new work ready for publishing and I am very, very close to the finish line! I am tweaking and doing finishing touches before I am finally able to reveal what I’ve been working on for the whole month of January! I am so, so proud of my work and can’t wait for the big unveiling coming soon. That and more surprises are coming up by the end of the week, I promise!

Anyhow, for tonight’s discussion… depression and anxiety and how the “neurotypical” perceive issues concerning mental health.

I had an interesting debate this afternoon regarding depression and anxiety.

I was taken aback by one person’s perspective and decided to question the individual. A lot of thoughts flashed through my head, but my thoughts honestly weren’t combative. My questions and thoughts were coming from myself being a lifelong sufferer of depression and anxiety and trying to establish a teachable moment for an outsider who may “sympathize,” but not necessarily “empathize.”

Depression and anxiety are complex. A person may exhibit chemical or situational depression. There may be tons of factors as to why an individual becomes afflicted with such a debilitation. My depression and anxiety, coupled with me being overweight, carry an enormous stigma for myself. I hate leaving the house. I feel judged at every corner whether it’s my own perception or reality. I have had depression and anxiety and been overweight my whole life. I know of no other way of being. I have known fleeting happiness sprinkled sporadically throughout my life. I can still smile and laugh at jokes and have a good sense of humor. Those things don’t mask the fact that to my very core, I’m deeply hurting inside. So, for me, hearing this person’s thoughts and how a seemingly kindhearted act, which I found to be insensitive, would somehow both eradicate and invalidate this struggling individual’s feelings—it felt a little tone deaf to me.

I was reminded of the poor individuals in Flint, Michigan dealing with their water being unfit for bathing, cooking, and drinking. I remember reading about celebrities delivering bottled water to the residents of that area. There was a disconnect between the people and the outside world and their struggles were not being properly understood. I feel the same was true in this particular situation regarding mental health.

I honestly wasn’t meaning for it to sound judgmental or negative, but right away the person I was speaking to was so very offended and said that I had to “shit on everything” and that I was always negative about everything. Being negative and judgmental and being concerned and fearing that the individual’s seemingly well-meaning thoughts would do more harm than good are two totally separate issues. I was made out to be the bad guy because I was trying to get that person to reach a little deeper within themselves. The person even deflected and backpedaled stating that they too once suffered from depression. To me, if you can say you suffered from depression in the past tense, then it wasn’t truly depression.

To me, the way that I see it, depression is a lifelong struggle. It stays with you. Whether you seek counseling, are medicated, or choose to cope with your depression on your own terms, depression and anxiety are never going to disappear completely. One therapist I visited in my early 20s told me that I was never going to be the same me I was in my youth. She told me I was always going have depression and anxiety and told me that what I would learn in therapy were strategies to cope, learning to recognize triggers, and finding ways to combat the depression whether through medicine, diet, exercise, yoga, meditation, or other strategies. There’s no getting rid of it. That’s my own experience with it at least. This is my own experience throughout the years. I do not doubt that every experience is vastly different. Again, I am not here to judge. I respect everyone’s journey.

Also, you don’t know what a person is truly going through when they say that they are depression and anxiety sufferers. If the person revealed they had suicidal ideations the best way to handle that is to gear them towards professional help and help them develop ways of handling their depression whether it’s chemical or situational.

Do you think something as simple as throwing a party or saying a kind word would have helped Kristoff St. John’s son, and possibly himself, or Kurt Cobain, or Chris Cornell, or Chester Bennington, or Anthony Bourdain, or Kate Spade, or anyone else who has taken their own lives? No, the problem is so much deeper than you can imagine. The problem is real. The problem can’t be shaken off by one or two hours of laughter.

You’re missing the point.

Depression is not, “I’m having a bad day.

Depression is not, “I’m sad.”

Depression is not, “I hate the rain, it makes me depressed.”

I will tell you, from my own experience, what depression means to me:

Depression is not remembering what cash feels like in your hands because you’ve been poor for so long.

Depression is not being able to wash your hair for ten days straight because you just don’t have the strength.

Depression is talking to people who never listen to you and choose to talk over you because they find you inferior to them and you let them believe it because you have no more self-confidence to prove them otherwise.

Depression is not wanting to get out of bed in the morning because you can’t think of a single reason why you should.

Depression is leaving the house in old house clothes, not brushing your hair, or taking care of your hygiene because you just don’t have the energy to do anything about it.

I’ll tell what anxiety is not.

Anxiety is not, “I’m going to fail that test tomorrow if I don’t study.”

Anxiety is not, “It took me two hours to go to bed because I was nervous about that job interview that I had this morning.”

I will tell you what anxiety is to me:

Anxiety is not wanting your picture taken because you feel that the whole world will judge you because you’re so ugly and the thought of having someone take your picture makes your throat close up from fear of judgment.

Anxiety is staying up all night from remembering something stupid I said in front of co-workers ten years ago that no one remembers except me.

Anxiety is being afraid to speak up about your traumas and your past because people only ever tell you stuff like, “Why don’t you go to the doctor and get some medicine,” instead of offering empathy, compassion, understanding, and just being present and listening.

Anxiety is working hard to appear “normal” and human like the rest of the world so you don’t get labeled anti-social or an outcast on days you just feel like being by yourself.

I am not exaggerating when I say that depression and anxiety are crippling and debilitating. I’ve tried the whole therapy/medicine routine. I never found anyone who could truly empathize or understand. I don’t want to mask my pain with pills, I want to heal from it. I want to address my pain, I want someone to drag it out of me, I want someone brave enough to want to stick it out with me no matter how ugly or scary it may appear on the other side of that dark. I want someone to carry that burden with me and hold my hand on the dark days, and then laugh and triumph over the good days.

My pain is validated. My pain is real. My pain can’t be erased by one-hour of someone’s attention. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not miserable all of the time. I do have amazing days. I have days I wish I could bottle up like perfume and revisit them on the really dark days. My life is one big uphill climb. I just want someone to understand that, that’s all. I’m not arguing. I’m not suggesting I’m right and you’re wrong. I’m saying dig a little deeper and don’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty because depression and anxiety are ugly beasts that need to be slain, sometimes daily. It’s exhausting, my body gets tired, I’m getting older and weakened. But I’m not giving up. And I ain’t dead yet. Which means I’m doing something right.

So, in closing, the debate turned ugly, but it didn’t have to. Sometimes you just need to listen and hear an individual’s pain. There is no worse feeling than not being heard or understood. An old friend once told me that pain is like shouting in the dark with the volume turned down. It is invisible to most, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Sometimes you can hear someone’s pain almost like a whisper if you stop trying to speak over someone’s softened, innocent voice. Louder does not mean right. Experience someone’s struggle firsthand. We don’t measure mental anguish on a scale. This isn’t a competition on whose pain is worse. All of our struggles matter. All of us deserve to be heard and understood. I’m a lover of love. I may be a shy introvert, but I feel that I exhibit much compassion and empathy towards other living beings. It took me many years of struggling to earn this level of self-awareness and introspection coupled with an outward-looking perspective of everything around me. It’s not hard to hear someone’s pain, sometimes you just have to stop talking, and just listen. Sometimes a person’s silence speaks volumes to those who were once too proud to listen.

A Star is Born: The Enduring Message of All Four Versions

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ALL WRITTEN AND ARTWORK ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF PSG LOPES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018.

I know people hate remakes and get sick and tired of Hollywood always redoing perfectly made classics, but I kind of like them and I will tell you why. I like the idea that our generation is being preserved in film form. I am a huge fan of old sitcoms and the reason I have such a soft spot for them is that they are time capsules of my youth. An example would be Full House. This brings me right back to my youth from the clothes they wore, the movie and television references, and the music they played. Having a movie redone to your own generation provides comfort and a level of familiarity that will be memorialized in film form for a lifetime.

I absolutely adore and admire Lady Gaga quite a bit. When I heard that she was going to be in a movie with Bradley Cooper as the director and male lead, I was on board. I had been aware of the Barbra Streisand version of A Star is Born but hadn’t realized that the 2018 rendition would be the fourth iteration of the film. I decided that if I was going to embark upon this adventure the correct way, the best possible way to do it was to watch all four films and break down the story and highlight the importance of the underlying message of each.

The original A Star is Born film that came out in 1937. I really loved this version for so many reasons. The actors who portrayed Esther/Vicki and Norman were phenomenal. They had such amazing chemistry on screen and their love was apparent in every scene together.

The lead character, Esther Blodgett, was so relatable in that so many people, even today, wish to head to Hollywood and fight so hard to make it there. Esther’s family did not believe in her, except for her grandmother. There were so many wonderful quotes, too, in this film. Her grandmother gave Esther her blessing and told her “Don’t let anyone break your heart. Break it yourself. That’s your right.” Esther heads to Hollywood and finds the cemented footprints of one of her favorite actors, Norman Maine, who she places her feet on top of. The message in which he wrote in cement was “Good luck.” Esther was so full of hope, but that quickly crashed down on her. She was disheartened when she attempted to find an acting gig and the lady she spoke with told her only one in 100,000 made it as an actor. Esther said encouragingly, “Maybe I am that one.” Her grandmother sent her money to help her stay afloat, but things were looking grim, so she took a job as a waitress at some Hollywood hotshot shindig and came across Norman Maine. He instantly took a liking to her and decided to drive her home. He urged her to take a screen test, they had her sign a movie contract and is magically reinvented as Vicki Lester. She is an instant hit and placed in a movie alongside Norman Maine. To the surprise of all involved, everyone becomes enamored by Vicki Lester and Norman Maine is quickly forgotten due to his alcoholism and unpredictable behavior.

Esther and Norman end up getting married. The public relations man, Libby is the one responsible for really catapulting Esther’s career. He also hates Norman and would do anything to see him in ruins. Norman had some good moments when he was first married to Esther. The scenes with them during their honeymoon in their RV were endearing and sweet, but that rosy cloud of happiness didn’t last long when Vicki’s success continued, and Norman’s career further declined. During Vicki’s awards ceremony, Norman showed up and ruined her moment. His downward spiral makes Vicki consider leaving Hollywood altogether to take care of Norman full time.

Norman finally realizes that he can’t keep doing this to Vicki, and the last time he sees her, he repeats the same line he told her that first night when she got out of his car, “Do you mind if I take just one more look?” He then jumps in the ocean and drowns. After a huge spectacle with the media, Esther settles into life without Norman. She is visited by her beloved grandmother who tells her that “Tragedy is a test of courage.” This piece of advice convinces Esther to remain in Hollywood. In a radio interview at the end, Esther proudly announces, “Hello, everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine” and the movie ends just like that. I really enjoyed the version immensely. The acting was superb, the story was told well, and even so many years later, the film is relatable and heartbreaking.

The second rendition of the film came several years later in 1954 and starred Judy Garland. This was by far my least favorite of these films. I found several issues with it. First of all, the movie was three hours long. Completely unnecessary. Adding that extra time did nothing for its storytelling and really watered down and destroyed the heart of the romance and agony of Esther and Norman. I also felt no palpable chemistry between Judy Garland and her leading man. There were some similarities and some lines that were exactly preserved as the original including the line, “I just want to take another look at you.” There were many changes including the addition to music in the film. This version became a musical. Esther was already established in the entertainment industry. She was part of a band and traveled and toured. This version of Esther was much more confident. She was very talented, very capable and Norman was more of an accessory than a necessity. Norman was less charming, needier and more demanding of Esther and truly yanked her from her band and ushered her by force into stardom. He also ruins her moment when she wins an award. He dies the same way at the end of the film, by drowning after hearing Esther mention quitting Hollywood to take care of the self-destructing Norman. She also ends the movie by announcing “Hello, I’m Mrs. Norman Maine.” It was agony watching this version. Also, another thing that really got to me was the film was so degraded that it has several scenes replaced with photo stills with dialogue placed over. It was distracting and ruined the whole movie experience for me.

The third rendition came in 1976 with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. There were several changes, yet again, but that same message endured. Esther Blodgett became Esther Hoffman and she didn’t have a stage name. The only slight difference was when she married the lead, which was John Norman Howard, she then became known professionally as Esther Hoffman Howard. Music was also a very big part of this movie. The movie highlighted the big influence of rock and roll in this era. Enamored by singer Esther, John strove to make Esther a star. Esther became a sensation, leaving John to struggle with maintaining any sort of momentum within his own life. One enduring line in the film, which came from one of John’s songs, that I found to be quite haunting, was “Are you a figment of my imagination or am I one of yours?” The role of Libby was replaced by a man referred to as Bebe Jesus who is hellbent on providing the worst publicity for John. John’s character died at the end by racing his car through the desert where he and Esther shared their second home. This final scene was by far the most heartbreaking of all the films. The scene where he says to her “Just looking, babe,” before he leaves her in bed and took off in his car brought tears to my eyes. You can see how damaged and destroyed John is and feel that bitter realization that not even true, passionate love can get you out of the giant hole you’ve dug for yourself. How desperately sad the male character is in all of these films. How he felt that death was the only way that they could truly save his beloved from being dragged down by his destructiveness. Instead of her announcing her name at the end, an announcer states her name as Esther Hoffman Howard as she sings her final song of the film. This was one of the strongest versions of this film by far, in my own humble opinion.

The final rendition, for now (haha), was just released last weekend and features Lady Gaga as Ally and Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, a nod to Norman Maine.

There were many differences in the story, but the overall message of this version was the same. The story starts off with Ally, a working-class woman who just so happens to sing and aspires to become an established singer. Jackson Maine is an already established musician who is afflicted with crippling alcoholism. The pair meets serendipitously at a drag bar. She sings La Vie en Rose. I thought this was such a remarkable scene and it happened so early on in the film. The way that Bradley Cooper looks genuinely enamored by Lady Gaga singing—you just cannot fake that look of admiration. The two of them get acquainted and after he gets to know her a little better, he reveals to Ally, “I think you might be a songwriter.” They become involved and are instantaneously smitten by one another and the classic line that carries over each of the four films gets spoken aloud by Jackson to Ally, “I just want to take another look at you.”

After being told she was late again to work, she finally gains the courage to quit her dead-end job and takes Jackson’s advice and attempts to pursue singing full-time. She watches him perform live and Jackson coaxes her to go up and sing with him. Thus, begins her career as a musician. Just as Ally scores a record deal and gains momentum as a star, Jackson then begins to resent her. Every song screams Lady Gaga. As always, she is beautiful and effortless. Jackson’s alcoholism gets the best of him. Jackson decides to propose to Ally at his friend’s home and they decide to get married right away.

She is changing with stardom and Jackson falls deeper into his alcoholism. He hits more than rock bottom with a particularly horrible argument where he calls her ugly, which was a low blow to Ally because of a conversation they had when they met where she told him of her insecurities with her looks, especially her nose and how she felt it held her back creatively. They soon make amends and Ally ends up winning an award for her music. Jackson ends up collapsing and embarrasses both himself and Ally at the awards show. He finally accepts that he must go to rehab. After he comes home sober, Ally agrees to stop touring so they can spend time together after one last show. His final words to her were the same timeless words, “I just want to take another look at you.” While she is performing her last show, he overdoses and hangs himself. Jackson’s brother, Bobby consoles Ally and tries to help her accept that the decision was Jackson’s and it was no one’s fault, but his. She then performs one of Jackson’s songs as she introduces herself as Ally Maine.

There were so many wonderful actors in this film, notably Andrew Dice Clay (yeah, the little Miss Muffett sat on her Tuffet guy! He was amazing!!), Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott, Anthony Ramos, Greg Grunberg, Ron Rifkin, and others. As a product of this generation, I felt most moved by this version. This version had a lot of positives. The movie had a strong director, cast, and strong music.  The story itself is timeless and was told in a relatable and modern fashion with hints of an age-old story of a romance that is achingly painful, but strong and all-consuming. Norman and Esther, John and Esther, and Jackson and Ally’s love was a toxic and jealous love, but not one that easy to walk away from in the end.

Some people are so ruined that they cannot be fixed. No amount of therapy or pills can help. Suicide is a real problem, especially in today’s world. It is an enormous tragedy and it is important to highlight what a real issue it is and to aid those who need it the most. In a fast-paced world, so many of us are consumed by our own lives and our own struggles, that it is hard to recognize when others are struggling and need a helping hand. It is always such a shock when we hear about individuals taking their own lives. It feels sudden, we feel powerless and feel like we are to blame. It is a horrible burden to those left behind. I wish peace and comfort from those who have experienced this within their own families and social circles.

Those who are still lucky to be alive and breathing please know that help is out there, you are certainly not alone, and sometimes the help you need is from an outside source if you feel like your immediate circle might not understand you or understand where you’re coming from. I always remember Eric Draven’s quote in The Crow when I think of my own struggles, “It can’t rain all the time,” which conveniently is coupled well with Little Orphan Annie’s “the sun will come out tomorrow.” As hokey and cheesy as it sounds, these are the mantras that I often repeat, and they work for me during dark times. I am comforted by the thought that bad times don’t last forever and there will be happier moments again. You must cling to those moments. Grasp onto them with all your might. Those are the moments to remember: the warm sun shining on your face, those jokes told at the dinner table that make you laugh so hard that they literally take your breath away, or the way your significant other looks at you when he tells you he loves you. Cling to that. Please cling to that. Those are the reasons among so many others that truly matter the most.

 

Anyone else out there who did the same and watched all four movies like I did? What did you think of all four? Which one was your favorite? Did Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga do the character’s justice? I am curious to know your thoughts. Positive and nurturing comments only, please.

 

Thanks so much for your continued support!