Fucked Up and Wonderful
COVID thoughts
Wed, 13 Apr 2022 04:48:00 +0000
An cream orange cat sitting on the floor in the morning sun. The sun is highlighting his whiskers so they appear almost blue and glowing.
One of our new pandemic pets

July 22, 2020
Early on, one of the first things I journaled (in my private, real paper journal) about COVID was that everything fucked up about our world was just going to get ten times worse because of it. And one of the first things to annoy the shit out of me was seeing people (older, white, financially stable people) share some stupid post about how this was a forced pause on the frantic pace of our lives, an opportunity to enjoy dinner with our children, read, rest, blah blah blah, shit shit shit. It was so oblivious to or uncaring of the crisis that COVID caused and is causing in so many people's lives. Lost jobs or trying to work from home while caring for children; so many people who can't access what few benefits there are because they are labeled "illegal." People who are doing just fine and are far removed from money stress or housing instability or job insecurity just don't give enough shits about everyone else who is struggling. I guess there are studies that have shown that the more one has, the less empathy they have.

Now it's been four months since we first started seeing lots of cases in the US, and I have such a strong feeling of cognitive dissonance every time I see people post or share photos of their vacations. Brendan and I have canceled all our travel plans for the year and we aren't making any new travel plans anytime soon. Well, we have talked about going camping, just us, but no definite plans yet. We canceled our flights to Wisconsin back in May, when we were supposed to go help plant trees and spread Wes's ashes at Bur Oak Farm. We canceled our plans to drive up to Washington to visit our family and friends in July-August. We won't be planning a big 10 year wedding anniversary celebration in October. We had hoped to rent a cabin and invite a bunch of friends to have an artsy fartsy weekend with us. We haven't talked about the holidays yet, but we won't be inviting anyone over or going to see anyone. Cases are surging in many spots around the US because there's been a total lack of regard for science, a push to reopen and get people back to work, and very little social support from the government. IT'S A FUCKING SHITSHOW. And yet people are going on fucking vacation and it pisses me off. Because it's such a normal thing. But nothing is normal right now.

And that's the thing. Everyone's normal has been disrupted, but for some people, that was a good thing.

April 12, 2022
Brendan walked into the kitchen as I was washing dishes and watching Ozark and said, "You're brilliant." I asked him what he was specifically talking about, and he said he'd been reading my old blog posts. So I came back here to read my old blog posts. I have a terrible tendency to forget about this blog for long swaths of time, but, you know what? I enjoy my writing, too. And then I logged in and saw that I actually had the above draft from 2020. I guess I was planning to add more to that. Now here it is, one year and eight plus months later, and I'm afraid I've become a bit COVID-numb. Which is to say, I don't even know exactly how I would continue that particular blog. Has everything fucked up gotten ten times worse? 

To do that question justice, I'd first have to make a list of everything that was already fucked up. Then I'd have to do some decent research into what's changed about those things since COVID. I don't have the time or energy to do that tonight, at least, and I'd like to go ahead and publish this post. 

So let me just come back to the title of this post. COVID thoughts. Something I think about a lot is the COVID death toll in the United States and how we're very close to one million. The current toll, according to the CDC, is 983,237. Compare that to China, a country with one billion seventy million five hundred thousand more people than the United States.  Incomprehensible numbers. Their death toll, according to the WHO, is 14,319. Incomprehensible loss all around, but for the United States? A fucking failure of the US government. 

Speaking of failures, basically all the West Coast dropped masking requirements last month, with some exceptions (public transit, healthcare facilities). Meanwhile kids under 5 (which includes Lochlan) don't have a vaccine yet. That's fucked up. 

What's wonderful? I've gotten a bit more active on Twitter. Not that that's necessarily wonderful, but there is an account that is dedicated to honoring those who have died of COVID in the United States: https://twitter.com/FacesOfCOVID
It is beautiful and tragic. Another way to say fucked up and wonderful. 

I have to walk the dogs. We have two of them now. I have to scoop out the litter box. We have two cats now. Normally those are Brendan's nighttime chores, but he has a cold (not COVID, but of course we check now whenever we are not feeling well), so I will do them for him. He did a good task tonight, in reminding me of this blog. 

Death and thoughts about it
Tue, 31 Mar 2020 02:04:00 +0000
March 9th, 2020
Off and on this past year, and especially last month, I was thinking about how March was coming up, and March was the month that my dad died, so the one year marker of his death was coming. And now March is here and that date is closing in. March 30th. I just looked back through my texts and it was only nine days before he died that my mom texted, asking if I could talk. We were at a play that was about to start, so I texted her back with that information, and asked if everything was okay. She responded, "Not really...Daddy has cancer..."

When I logged back into this blog today, I saw a draft post from April 2018 that I had decided not to publish. Here's some of it:

"Death. I think about it more than I should, perhaps. I've questioned within myself why this might be so, and I think it's at least partly because I have never experienced the death of someone very close to me and feel totally unprepared for that inevitability. Death scares me. Or, perhaps, the thought of grief scares me. And because it's scary and unknown, part of me wants to prepare myself for it.

Since having a child, I seek out stories of child loss. I think I'm just trying to wrap my mind around how people go on after losing a child. Maybe some part of it is masochism. Maybe I think, by reading of how others have lost children, I can prevent it from happening to us."

I couldn't keep death at bay.

March 16th, 2020
I saw a therapist on Friday, three days ago. This was my first time seeing a therapist. Brendan and I both sought this out through our primary care physician, hopeful that something would be covered through Medi-Cal. What is covered is short-term therapy, so I will have eight sessions. Toward the end of the first session, the therapist was going through a list of questions with me, and one was something like, "Do you worry about losing people you are close to, or about them being harmed?"

I realized that I worry less about that now that I have experienced loss. In the past year, I lost my father and father in-law, and our close friends lost their child. And now I know the enemy, grief. It's not so much that it's any less scary. It's just, I see how every day just marches on. Nothing I do can stop it. Not that I want to stop time. I want to go back in time and change things, stop people from dying. But I can't, and it marches on with no regard to my feelings.

And now there's COVID-19, or coronavirus disease 2019. I don't even know what to say about it. Of course it relates to death, but for me, personally, I hope it won't. I hope I don't lose anyone I know because of it. And not just from contracting it, but from the greater effect it's having on people's livelihoods and mental health. At the same time, I am fascinated by it and the impact it's having on the world.

March 27th, 2020
I wonder what my dad would think about COVID-19. I think he would also be fascinated by it and the impact it's having on the world. I'm sure he read books about pandemics or worlds changed by pandemics. I could look at the notebooks my mom gave me, where he wrote down the titles and a brief blurb about books he finished, and the date he finished them. He'd been keeping these notebooks for years, going back to when I was a teenager, up until he died. And my mom didn't know! Isn't that funny? You can share a house and a life with someone for forty years and they still have their own private world.

I think my dad had a rich inner life. I've had this idea, to read all the books he read, and blog about it. I'd include what he wrote about the books he read, and my own thoughts about them. It'd be an ongoing, lifelong project, at least at the rate I read books lately. It'd be a way to continue sharing experiences with my dad. I'm glad he kept those notebooks.

March 30th, 2020
I donated blood this morning. I didn't pick today in honor of my dad, it was just the first available appointment I could get. I have a hard time calling this the anniversary of his death, because anniversaries are usually something to celebrate. But then what do I call it?

My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2018. In the couple years leading up to it, I had imagined I would plan a big 40th wedding celebration for them. I had organized something when they had their 25th, and 40 years seemed like another good big one. But then life just seemed harder. I mean, it was. We had a kid. I didn't get a full night's uninterrupted sleep from November 7th, 2017 (probably before then, what with being pregnant and pee) until at least the end of October, 2018. Probably not even then, but that's when we night weaned. And their 40th wedding anniversary was October 29th, 2018. So it's understandable that planning a big event in another state just didn't happen. But boy do I wish I'd done it, now.

I don't think grief is the enemy. I know I said that before. But it's death, really. Grief is dealing with living after death turns your world upside down. That's a friend more than an enemy. But death? Death can go...I was thinking of saying various expletives. But really, it can just go. Go away. I think I believe that there's a time for it. But I wish it could be more like the very end of The Good Place, but instead of choosing to leave the afterlife, that's just how it would be for actual life. You get to live it all until you're ready to go. And until your loved ones are able to accept that you're ready to go.

On this day one year ago, my dad died.

December, 1982

Lochlan Cadigan Pederson Weinhold
Fri, 16 Jun 2017 22:45:00 +0000
That's the name of the squirmy worm growing inside me.

We just had the anatomy scan ultrasound, and now we know the sex of the baby. We're not keeping it a secret. The baby has male genitals. Now we can refer to the baby as a he instead of an it. Mostly I want to get used to calling him Lochlan. Loch for short.

I've felt hesitant about how to share this news on social media. I don't think it should be a big deal. I don't get those reveal parties, where someone close to the parents knows and there's a party where the sex is revealed and the parents' reactions immortalized by pics and vids.

I don't think the baby's genitalia can tell us much about the person he will be. Human behavior, and what of it is biologically or societally determined, is complicated. These are not questions with easy answers.

I do know that I hate how gender divided our society is. I inwardly cringe whenever someone says to me, "You know how it is, you're a woman" or "They just don't get it, they're men" or anything along those lines.

Sure, women and men will in general have some different experiences throughout life because of their sex. But two things.

One, any individual will have their own unique set of experiences that may or may not fall in line with the majority of others of their sex.

Two, sex is not gender and gender is a spectrum. People just don't always fall in line with binaries or societal expectations.

And another thing (there are always more things, why did I assign it a number?): When people say stuff like "You don't get it, you're a ____" it is almost always a discussion ender. And I think that's usually because discussing complicated things is hard and people don't like hard things. Or sometimes it's just lazy shorthand, a thing people assume most others agree with. Either way, I don't think it's helpful and I do think it's dismissive. Let's try to do better.

So, his name is Lochlan. He has male genitalia and is healthy and is still squirming up a storm. Here's his spine:

Some interesting further reading:



Fri, 02 Jun 2017 20:39:00 +0000
Lotsa lotsa thoughtsa.

I'm thinking, lately, it'd be better to just have this up and going, whether my posts are well-structured, well-thought-out, well-written, or wells. It might be interesting if they were wells. Hell, that would definitely be interesting. How can a blog post be a well? A literal well, that is. Metaphorical wells are easy.

I am incubating life. That's new since last time.

I am often overwhelmed by life. Last year I started to feel like life was a freight train that is chugging away slowly in front of me. I am jogging behind it, trying to catch up and hop on. The best thing would be if I could hop on it, clamber my way to the captain's seat (the engine car? Are those in front?) and hop in and set the pace for the train.

All the things I want to accomplish are sitting in the cars of the train. Or maybe the car they're in is rusting and falling apart, so some things are falling off the train. If I stopped and and tried to catch them, the train would just get further away from me. I dunno. It's not a perfect metaphor, but it's the best image I've been able to come up with for how I feel.

Anywho. Here's a start to something.
I slew (slayed? Have slain? All that!) 50k words!
Sat, 29 Nov 2014 20:05:00 +0000
For the first time since I signed up at nanowrimo.org (National Novel Writing Month) seven years ago, I succeeded in writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. And it's only November 29th.

As of Tuesday, November 18th, I needed to write 2400 words per day to meet the goal. By last Saturday, November 22nd, that per day word count had eked its way up to more like 3000. I started to lose hope because I knew we would be traveling for Thanksgiving in just a couple days and I didn't want to travel with a laptop.

But such things as pen and paper exist and a three hour flight is a good opportunity to catch up on writing. I nearly met my goal on that travel day and knowing I could write that much by hand inspired me to keep going. And simply keeping going inspired me to meet my word count goals every day. Then getting so close to finishing inspired me to just finish. Having a supportive husband and in-laws helped. "No, we can't bother Stina--she's writing!" I'm thankful for that this Thanksgiving weekend.

There will be a lengthy editing process before what I wrote will be released for the general public, but I'm committed to doing that and sharing what I've been working on this month. I don't just write for myself, and for that reason I'm going to share the prologue and first chapter of my first novel at the end of this post.

I wrote The Good Message of the Hand Dryer in the spring of 2010 and edited it the following year. Ever since then, it's just been waiting for me to do something with it. I'd like to share it with the world, so I'm going to see about publishing it online. Until I do so, here's a bit to get you started:


Eleven was born on the eleventh of January. Her parents had been told by more than one expert that the baby was most certainly a boy, but after a 17 hour labor, it most certainly wasn't. Hank and Rebecca were exhausted and didn't know what to call her, so they flipped a coin over January or Eleven. Tails won, and Grandma Rose's name worked as well for a middle name as Grandpa Henry's would have. With that, Eleven Rose Wunsch joined the world.

Eleven's ten year old brother, Joe, had high hopes riding on the baby being a boy. He was going to teach his little brother everything he knew, and then some. He couldn't get over his disappointment, so he ignored his little sister for the next eight years, then went off to college and ignored her some more.


The summer before Joe left for college, the family took a road trip from San Diego up the coast and she annoyed him the whole way. By the end of the trip she realized the way to get close to him was not by annoying him, but by pretending to sleep leaning on his shoulder. They arrived home and she stayed there, fake-sleeping on his shoulder.

“I can't get out,” he whispered to their parents. She kept herself from smiling, though she was ecstatic. It was the longest amount of time she'd ever been this close to him, where she could smell his aftershave (it was overwhelming and gave her a headache), his deodorant (likewise) and his hair gel (triple whammy).

If only she'd figured this out sooner. How many hours could she have pretended to sleep on him, secretly reading whatever he was reading, listening to his phone conversations and music, feeling his shirt sleeve under her head? He flew to New York the next day with Dad and she stayed home with Mom.


The next year they took another road trip. Her brother got an internship at a law office in New York, so he didn't join them. They went from San Diego to Yuma, Yuma to Phoenix, Phoenix to Tucson, Tucson to Las Cruces, and from Las Cruces to Carlsbad to see the bats. Somewhere along the way between Phoenix and Tucson, everyone had to pee. They saw a sign for a gas station and took that exit. Eleven was excited because she saw signs for “Live Rattlesnakes!” and “Feed a Rattlesnake!” She'd never fed a rattlesnake before.

The toilets were on the outside of the gas station, a single one for women and a single one for men. Eleven's mom got the key and let her go first. When she was done, she washed her hands with soap, singing her ABCs as she scrubbed. Then she went to dry her hands. There was a hand dryer and there were paper towels. Eleven strictly used hand dryers or nothing at all when they weren't available. She pressed the button and started reciting what she liked to call The Good Message of the Hand Dryer.

“Dryers help protect the environment. They save trees from being used for paper towels. They eliminate paper towel waste. They are more sanitary to use than paper towels and help maintain cleaner facilities.”

She read it off the dryer first, then closed her eyes and said it from memory. She got the whole thing right in one try. Just before the dryer automatically shut off, she thought she heard a sound coming from it. Her hands weren't quite dry, so she pressed it again. There was a knock on the door.

“Eleven, are you done? I really have to go!”

“Hold your horses, Mom!”

She was listening to the hand dryer as she rubbed her hands together. There it was again. Music. She stopped rubbing her hands and moved her head closer. It was bagpipe music. She stepped back from the dryer and listened by the door. No, it was definitely coming from the dryer.


She opened the door for her mom.

“Mom, listen to this!”

The dryer had just turned off, so she pressed it again. Her mom rushed in, pulled her shorts down, and sat down on the toilet.

“Eleven, lock the door.”

“Do you hear it?”

“Lock the door, Eleven!”

Eleven stood like an Irish step-dancer and skipped over to the door and locked it. She continued skipping around the small bathroom.

“What are you doing, you little weirdo?” her mom asked.

“I'm dancing to the music!”

“What music?”

“The bagpipe music!”

“Ah. I see.”

Her mom finished, washed her hands at the sink, and grabbed a paper towel just as the dryer stopped again.

“Mom, nooooooooooooo!” Eleven marched over to the dryer and turned it on again. “Use this,” she said, pointing to the dryer.

“Oh, sorry. I forgot,” her mom said.

“And dance to the music!” Eleven started skipping around the bathroom again as her mom rubbed her hands under the dryer.

There was a knock on the door.

“You two about finished? Those rattlesnakes are getting hungry!” Eleven's dad said.

“To the rattlesnakes!” her mom said.

“To the rattlesnakes!” Eleven said.

Her mom opened the door and walked out, and Eleven followed her. Halfway through the door she stopped and turned around and bowed to the hand dryer.

“Thank you for the music.”


There were a bunch of snakes in a pit. A man poked a long stick with a red cloth tied to the end of it into the pile of writhing snakes, and several of them bit at the cloth. Then the man gave her a dead mouse to toss into the pit.

“Whoa,” she said and picked up the mouse by the tail.

“Brave little girl you got there, folks,” the man said to her parents as she tossed the mouse into the pit.

There was a frenzy of movement and then calm. Eleven could see that one snake had a lump inside it.


As they were passing the gas station on the way back to the freeway, Eleven asked if they could stop.

“Do you have to pee again?” her mom said.

“No, I just wanted to hear the music.”

“We can listen to the radio, honey.”

“I have to pee again!”

Eleven's mom turned around and looked at her with a very Mom look. “You just said you didn't have to pee. Do you or do you not have to pee?”

“No,” she said in a small voice.

“That's what I thought.” Her mom settled back into her seat.

Chapter One

Present Day

It was December. Eleven was at the store, ready to greet the next customer. It was before 4pm and after the lunch crowd and she was in a bad mood. During her lunch break, she had called the guy she was kind of dating and told him she couldn't see him right now. When he'd asked why, she'd said, “It's too busy at the store during the holidays.” He'd given up without a fight, though she knew it was a lame excuse. That meant he hadn't been too interested and that put her in a bad mood. A customer walked in.

“Hello! Welcome to Bea Arthur's. Let me know if there's anything I help you with.” She flashed a bright smile that she hoped looked sincere.

The customer smiled back and said, “Thanks, just looking.”

Eleven scanned the store. She headed to the children's section in the back first. Nobody there. Then she went over to the greeting cards and journals. An old woman was perusing the cards and had a small stack of items on the floor near her.

“Would you like me take these things up to the counter, Mrs. Holgott?”

“Oh, yes, thank you, Eleven.”

“My pleasure.”

She bent down and picked up three votive candles, a votive candle holder, and four cloth napkins. The red of the votives matched the holly design on the napkins.

“Is this a gift, Mrs. Holgott?”

“It is, for my granddaughter. She just bought a house, and I thought those would look nice in her dining room.”

“I'm sure they will. The candles match the napkins perfectly. Would you like me to gift wrap it for you?”

“Oh, yes, please. That would be wonderful. Could you do it in Christmas paper?”

“Of course. I'll have it ready and waiting for you whenever you're finished.”

Eleven smiled again, a real smile. She liked Mrs. Holgott. The woman came in nearly every day, often just to browse or pick up one little candy. She was nice, and patient.

As Eleven walked back to the counter, she looked around to see if anyone new had entered the store.

There was the same woman, Just Looking, but no one else. It was nice when it was this quiet. Bea would be back from her lunch break soon, in time for the after-work crowds.

Eleven pulled the price tags, then arranged the items neatly in a box with tissue paper. She took her time wrapping the gift, making the folds just so and losing herself a bit in the details. She imagined Mrs. Holgott's face when she saw the gift, then imagined Mrs. Holgott's granddaughter's face, and how she wouldn't want to open it because it looked so beautiful. The fantasy was building in her mind—the gift being passed unopened from generation to generation—when Eleven felt like someone was watching her. She looked up and saw Just Looking glancing her way, so she stepped out from behind the counter and approached her.

The woman pulled a washcloth from her purse. “Do you see this?”

Eleven looked at the washcloth. It was blue and looked used. “Yes, ma'am, I see the washcloth.”

“Well, do you see the spot?” The woman pointed to a corner of the washcloth.

Eleven looked closer. She thought she could make out a faint brown stain by the woman's finger. “I think I see a little stain.”

“Good. I'd like to exchange it for this one.” She picked up a dark blue washcloth.

Eleven took a deep breath. She hated customers like this. “Do you have a receipt for the washcloth, ma’am?”

“No, I don't have a receipt! I've never needed a receipt to exchange anything here before. Is Bea here?”

“She'll be back from her lunch break soon. I can help you, though. It's just that this washcloth is dirty and used, so you can't exchange it.”

Eleven tried to smile as if she understood the woman's problem, but it felt thin. She had no patience for this today.

The woman huffed. “I've never been treated this way here before. I want to talk to Bea right now.”

“By all means, let me interrupt her lunch break for your ever so important washcloth issue.”

Eleven smiled even bigger, then marched to the back of the store. As she passed Mrs. Holgott, she heard the woman humming along to the Celtic music playing over the speakers.

She stopped outside the office door, her fake smile crumbling from her face. She opened the door and peeked her head around and saw Bea sorting through the inventory pages from a recent order. She cleared her throat and Bea turned to look at her.

“What's wrong, Eleven?”

Eleven realized there were tears pooling in her eyes. “There's a customer who'd like to talk to you. She has a problem with a washcloth she says she bought here. I was kind of rude to her.”

Eleven's voice was trembling and she was having a hard time holding her mouth in a normal way. Her chin just wouldn't relax.

“Sit down here.” Bea got up and motioned to her chair. “I'll go and talk to her. I'm sure there's just a misunderstanding. I can't imagine your being rude to anyone.”

Bea walked out of the office and Eleven sat down and started crying. She'd never acted like that with a customer before. She was so sick of fake smiles and always having to be in a good mood and pandering to bitchy customers who treated her like it was her life's work to please them. She started crying harder and put her head down on the table in front of her. It was her life's work to please them and she hated it.

She took a couple sobbing breaths and sat up. She needed to pull it together. Just one unhappy woman facing another unhappy woman with unhappy results. Nothing to cry over. She got up and walked out of the office, checking to make sure the door was locked behind her. She turned to the right and into the small bathroom and locked herself in. She stood in front of the mirror.

No makeup on, so nothing for tears to smear. Her eyes were bloodshot, making the blue stand out in contrast. They were kind of puffy, too. She turned the cold water on, bent down, and splashed it onto her face.

She looked up at the water dripping off her face and snarled at herself. She was really good at lifting the left side of her lip, but couldn't lift the right side without taking her whole mouth with. She grabbed a paper towel and used it to dry off her face first, then her hands. She soaked the towel through but didn't take another.

She pulled the elastic off her ponytail and smoothed her long, light-brown hair back into a new ponytail. She took a deep breath and didn't smile. No more fake smiles. She turned off the light, opened the door, and headed back into the store.
My Totally Subjective, Short Reviews of All The Movies I Saw In 2013
Sat, 04 Jan 2014 05:49:00 +0000
Have I mentioned I work at a movie theatre? It's just like what you'd expect--low pay, grubby work, and one awesome perk: free movies. I hereby present a list of all the movies Brendan and I saw in 2013, with some words or, shall we say, reviews.


P.S. There will be spoilers. Beware.


  • Mama: Boo. They basically give up the little girl to the nasty ghost at the end! Come on. Wouldn't she rather grow up and be alive than be a flurry of moths hanging out with ghost? I think she would have gotten over her obsession with Mama.
  • Hansel and Gretel: Boo. I don't even really remember why boo, except I remember thinking it was stupid.
  • Movie 43: Yay and eh and boo. This movie was a series of shorts, and some were funny, others stupid. 


  • Warm Bodies: Yay! It's a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, with zombies! 
  • Identity Thief: Eh. I wouldn't exactly recommend against seeing it, if it happens to be on a cross-country flight (do they still do movies on cross-country flights?) or something like that, but it's not particularly great.
  • Side Effects: Eh, mostly because I can't really remember not liking it.
  • Safe Haven: Eh. Cobie Smulders is a ghost! 
  • Beautiful Creatures: Yay! This movie has an indie-movie quality I love, and that kid who plays the male lead is just so adorable, you can't help but fall for him. 
  • Snitch: Eh. Again, not exactly a bad movie. 


  • 21 & Over: Eh. I would give this movie a boo except they filmed it in the U-District and on the University of Washington campus and Basil Harris is in it! I know him.
  • Jack the Giant Slayer: Eh? That's a little stronger than "eh" but not as strong as "yay." It's got the actor from About A Boy in it, all growed up! 
  • Oz, The Great And Powerful: Boo! I wanted to like this movie, but Oz was just a jerk and why did they need an average human jerk to save them when they had magic and stuff? I do not believe being spurned by Oz would make Theodora go all Wicked Witch--he just wasn't worth it and she barely knew him. I don't remember all the eloquent thoughts I had right after seeing the movie, but I think it really bugged me that Oz himself never really had a redemptive moment. He's a jerk to the very end. (Okay, yes, he helps them, but that doesn't make him stop being a jerk.)
  • The Call: Boo. This movie was just ridiculous. Mostly the ending. 
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: Eh. It was kind of stupid and I didn't believe for a second that the Olivia Wilde character would hook up with the Steve Carrell character, but it had a couple funny moments.
  • The Croods: Boo. I liked some things about this movie, but I especially hate when children's movies perpetuate negative stereotypes and unrealistic ideals. An obvious example is when the more advanced cave guy is teaching them how they can safely walk across rocks. The grandma and the daughter go crazy over this new concept: shoes! 'Cause women go crazy over shoes! Bleh. Later, and more insidious, the mom's hair goes from crazy, sticking straight up, to straight and hanging down after she walks through a rainforesty type place, and it's associated with positive change. 
  • Olympus Has Fallen: Boo. Amurica! Where the president gives up nuclear codes, endangering the lives of millions, to save his friends. 
  • The Host: Eh. Unmemorable.
  • The Place Beyond the Pines: Yay! This was a beautiful movie, beautifully told, beautifully acted. 


  • Evil Dead: Yay. It didn't have the wacky of the old ones, but it payed homage to them nicely. 
  • 42: Eh. Good to learn some history I hadn't really known about, but otherwise no strong feelings. A minor thing that annoyed me was at the end when his wife is leaving the baby with the sitter and the music is ominous, so you think something bad is going to happen to the baby. Don't worry, the baby is fine.
  • Oblivion: Boo. As of 1/8/14, this movie's status has been downgraded from "eh" to "boo." See my friend Anthony's comment for the reason why.
  • The Big Wedding: Boo. God, April was a long time ago. I seem to remember not liking that it just kind of glossed over adultery.


  • Iron Man 3: Yay. Entertaining and fun. 
  • The Great Gatsby: Eh. I liked the spectacle of the first two-thirds or so of the movie. That one big party scene was really fun. 
  • Peeples: Eh. It was kind of funny.
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness: Eh. Maybe even boo. I remember really liking the first one. I don't remember exactly why I didn't like this one, but I recall a really unbelievable fight scene and sexism.
  • Epic: Eh. I so wanted this movie to be epic. The trailers made it seem like it would be. It was okay...but definitely not epic. 
  • Fast & Furious 6: Boo. If you like car chases, this is for you. Only for you.
  • Now You See Me: Eh. It was fun to watch the tricks, but not so much fun to watch the movie. The camera work could make you sick.
  • After Earth: Boo. Poor acting, not so great story. 


  • Much Ado About Nothing: Yay. The one movie we paid money to see all year, because it never came to my theatre. Love the director, love the actors, so it was fairly inevitable I'd love the movie...but it doesn't get an exclamation point after the yay because I didn't love love it. 
  • Man of Steel: Eh. I really liked the second half of the beginning of the film, which had that indie-movie quality I love, but then it was boring action sequence after boring action sequence.
  • This is the End: Yay. This movie gets a yay because I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was way funnier than I thought it would be.
  • World War Z: Eh. It had a couple very memorable scenes, like him cutting the girl's arm off or facing off with that creepy tooth-clicking zombie, but was otherwise just okay.
  • Monsters University: Eh. 
  • The Heat: Yay-ish. I really like Sandra Bullock comedies, and Melissa McCarthy is super funny, and I thought they had good chemistry. But they were also power-abusing cops.
  • White House Down: Yay. Like Olympus Has Fallen, but better! Maybe because that's the bar I was comparing it to, it gets a yay and really deserves an eh. But hey, it was just like that other crappy movie, but had humor, better acting, and a more interesting villain. And the cute kid was a smart and scrappy girl rather than a boy.


  • Despicable Me 2: Eh. It was kind of cute, but should have had more of the girls. They're way cuter than the minions.
  • Pacific Rim: Eh. I went into this movie with high expectations, but it disappointed. The acting was so-so and the script sucked. The special effects were cool, though.
  • Fruitvale Station: Yay! Not an easy movie to watch, but so well done and so worth the challenge.
  • R.I.P.D.: Eh. Maybe boo. Hardly remember it, so that doesn't speak too well of it, right?
  • The Conjuring: Yay. Yay on a scary movie scale, which is a different scale than for regular movies. I thought the acting and the pacing were good, and it scared me. 
  • Red 2: Eh. Once I got over how casually people were killed, I was able to find some funny moments.
  • The Wolverine: Eh. 
  • The To-Do List: Eh. I loved that it was set in the early nineties. That was when I watched Full House, put pictures of Jonathan Taylor Thomas on my walls, and used scrunchies. Good times. But I was expecting a better film, so I was kind of disappointed.


  • Elysium: Boo. Implausible. Jodie Foster's stilted acting bugged me. Why were those greedy bastards hoarding the medbots or whatever they were called when there were obviously plenty of them to go around? Seemed like a land where everyone could be happy and healthy, so it didn't really make sense that they were hoarding all the goods up in the sky.
  • We're The Millers: Eh. I was kind of expecting to hate this movie, so the fact that it elicited no super strong feelings and made me laugh a couple times gives it an eh.
  • The Butler: Yay. Any movie that makes me cry pretty much automatically gets a yay because it means I'm invested. See exception at the end of this month. But The Butler made me care and kept me interested. Good acting, you actors, you.
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Eh. Why just eh? Why didn't this movie strike me in a similar way as Beautiful Creatures? I don't know, exactly, but it just didn't.
  • You're Next: Boo, and yet, it was pretty funny if you don't mind movies that are funny because of how bad they are. As the daughter prepares to run outside and get help, you can't help laughing at how stupid it is, and then you feel kind of bad because you can't help laughing that she sliced her throat open on the trip wire THAT OF COURSE WAS THERE.
  • The World's End: Eh. Another case of having high expectations and the movie not quite living up to them. I mean, I liked it. Maybe I should give it a yay. Okay, fine, it gets a yay, but no exclamation point. I just didn't think it was as funny as the other Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright collaborations I've seen. 
  • The Grandmaster: Yay. I thought this was a very beautiful film. 
  • Instructions Not Included: Eh. Here's the exception. This movie made me cry at the end because it totally surprised me that it was the little girl dying, not the dad! WTF! I felt like it was yanking at my heartstrings in a very inappropriate way. If it hadn't had that ending, it probably would have gotten a yay.


  • Insidious Chapter 2: Yay. I didn't like it as much as The Conjuring, but considering I worked in the highest rated maze ever at Halloween Horror Nights 2013, and it was based on this movie and its predecessor, I just have to give it a yay. 
  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2: Yay. It was super colorful and I really liked that. The food creatures were really cute, too. That was enough for me.
  • Don Jon: Yay. Another case of I went in not expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised. I didn't necessarily believe that the character would change the way he did, but I liked that he did. 


  • Gravity: Eh. I was totally immersed in space, but it totally freaked me out. It didn't make me go, yay, space is so awesome! Rather, shit, space is the scariest place ever. So yes, I got into the movie, but I didn't really like the experience. And it was pretty heavy-handed. Her coming out of the water, like a rebirth, after she's made this decision to fight for life? Eh. And it really bothered me that there were water splatters on the camera lens for the final shot. How am I supposed to feel in it if I feel like there's a camera between Sandra and me? She was good, but I like her comedic roles better.
  • Carrie: Eh. It wasn't bad. 


  • About Time: Boo. I wanted to like this movie, but I really hated how stupid it was. He can travel through time, at will, and for him "It was always about love." Bleh. I don't buy it. If he could really travel in time like that, he should have had a much more interesting life. And then there's the scene where he TAKES HIS SISTER WITH HIM TIME TRAVELING. He can TAKE other people with him time traveling! But he never tells his wife he can time travel or takes her time traveling! What an ass. 
  • Dallas Buyers Club: Yay. The acting was incredible. 
  • Thor: The Dark World: Yay. I just really like the Avengers, what can I say?
  • The Best Man Holiday: Eh. Some of the characters are about to topple off their moral high ground, while others bow down to those on the pedestal. Had some funny moments, but the Christian proselytizing bothered me. 
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Yay-ish. I read the books and enjoyed them all right, and I'm having the same experience with the movies. I thought this one was fast-paced and entertaining.
  • Delivery Man: Eh. It was all right.
  • Frozen: Yay. I loved the music and the snowman was hilarious. Kristen Bell, too.
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: Yay. A good overview of the life of Nelson Mandela. 


  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Boo. Not boo because it was such a bad movie, but boo because I didn't think it was nearly as good as people kept telling me it was. I think this is the issue--I keep comparing The Hobbit movies to The Lord of the Rings movies. LOTR had such a great cast and you really felt like the characters cared about one another. In The Hobbit, I don't get that feeling at all. Poor Bilbo. He doesn't have a Sam. 
  • Saving Mr. Banks: Yay. I really liked this movie. No idea how much of it was accurate or how much rosier a picture they painted of Walt Disney than was true, but I got totally immersed in the film, so much so that nearly peed my pants because I didn't want to miss anything. That happened in Mandela too, by the way. 
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Yay. Not quite a yay with an exclamation point, which I was expecting to have, but a yay nonetheless. This movie really made me want to travel. I guess I just wish the only breaks with reality had actually been in Walter Mitty's imagination. The dating website guy being able to call him everywhere was just overly cutesy, and the bad guy was comically jerky (in a bad way). And the shark scene...it just didn't really add anything. Now, the amazing things he did that were difficult but that I could believe, like hiking through Afghanistan to find the photographer and seeing a snow leopard--those moments were beautiful. Also Brendan noted that the female characters only represented home and stability, and were never a part of the adventures. 
69 films in total. Aw, yeah. 

Comic-Con: How to Avoid Waiting in Lines
Tue, 30 Jul 2013 05:57:00 +0000
It's pretty easy to avoid waiting in lines at Comic-Con. Just pick panels with titles like "All Shapes and Sizes Welcome: Body Image and Women's Issues in the Entertainment Industry." I'm being tongue-in-cheek, but it is true we didn't have to wait in line to attend this panel, whereas we had to wait an hour to attend "What's New with Magic: The Gathering." And even that was nothing compared to the hardcore Comic-Con attendees who wait overnight to get into Hall H.

I wanted to attend the body image and women's issues panel because Brendan and I are interested in these things and I hoped the panel would offer some interesting new insights. I was overall disappointed with the panel. I felt like the panelists were too easily sidetracked by irrelevant points, case in point when panelist Adrianne Curry went off on a weird tirade about gay fashion designers. However, it did raise some good questions and when I further researched some of the panelists, I came to the conclusion that they are interesting and insightful women who are doing something really admirable simply by having a panel like this. The important thing that they're doing, and what I want to do, is raise a dialogue.

One of the panelists, Helenna Santos-Levy, talked about a debate she got into with her mother that was sparked by high heels. Her mom compared high heels to foot binding, but the panelist argued that she liked them. They made her feel sexy.

So my question whenever I hear that high heels or makeup or A, B, or C other thing that women wear or do to alter their bodies in some way, is why? Why does something that hurts, or that is annoyingly time-consuming to apply, make us feel sexy? It turned out Helenna Santos-Levy had already written a whole blog post of her own about this on her website (which I recommend checking out) Ms. In The Biz, titled Sex Pots, Strippers, and Lady Parts...Oh My!

In this blog, she asks, "Why do 3 inch heels that are hell to walk in or even stand in for that matter, make me feel sexy and powerful?" Her answer is simple: "Well, we still live in a male dominated culture."

Yes. And I would add that we live in an advertising dominated culture.These things combined wreak havoc not just on women's body image, but on our collective society's body image.

I spent my teenage years wanting little more than to be beautiful and have a boyfriend. I bought teen fashion and beauty magazines and read books about how to apply makeup. By the time I was in my twenties,  I habitually wore makeup. Nothing too crazy. Just a little foundation, pressed powder, a touch of eyeliner, and some mascara. But eventually I realized something: "It was dictating my self-worth." I'm quoting another great Ms. In The Biz blog by Holly Elissa, titled My Social Experiment: Cosmetics and Women's Worth. She came to that conclusion about the makeup she wore, and the blog is about how she went to a Hollywood event with no makeup on.

When I came to that conclusion, it was in large part because a smart man who eventually became my husband asked me why. Why did I wear makeup? Why did I shave? The surface answer was that it made me feel attractive. But why did it make me feel attractive? Why didn't I feel attractive just as I was?

There's a quote I love, love, love from Crimethinc. Ex-Workers' Collective. "Beauty must be defined as what we are, or else the concept itself is our enemy."

I stopped wearing makeup and shaving when I realized I didn't have a good answer for why shaving and wearing makeup made me feel more attractive. I didn't like the answer I realized was true, which was that I'd bought into the lies advertisers and society were feeding me. That I needed to "enhance" my face. That hairless skin is normal and hair is gross. That society's idea of beauty is some sort of attainable ideal that I should be striving towards.

Fuck that.

I often have to remind myself of that quote. I am still affected by advertising. I don't wear tank tops as often as I probably would if I shaved my pits. But then I go to the hairy pits club on Tumblr and read cool blogs like this one and I'm reminded that I'm not the only one trying to rebel against societal pressures.

I feel like this is where I often see disclaimers on other blogs that the authors are not judging other people who choose to do A, B, or C that the author is talking about. And I get that. I don't want to judge, either. We're all figuring this shit out as we go along. But I do want to question, and I want you to question. You shave? Ok. But why do shave? Why did you start shaving in the first place? I started because of my older sister, which I wrote about here. Do you think you would still want to shave if you weren't inundated by advertisements featuring beautiful hairless people? What about makeup? Hell, let's talk bras. Why do you wear one? You may come to different conclusions than I did. That's cool. Let's talk about it. I'd love to know why.

It's been a process, training myself not to see my armpit hair as gross and to not feel unattractive without makeup. But I think it's totally worth it. I want to live as if society were the way I want it to be. I want to contribute to changing the norm.

*It has just been pointed out to me that it's hard to see links in my blog. I've changed the color scheme a bit so hopefully that won't be a problem anymore, but just in case you missed them, here's a list of all the links provided in this blog post:
  • Helenna Santos-Levy's personal website: http://www.helennasantoslevy.com/
  • Ms. In The Biz: http://msinthebiz.com/
  • Helenna Santos Levy's blog post Sex Pots, Strippers, and Lady Part...Oh My!: http://msinthebiz.com/2013/05/30/sex-pots-strippers-lady-parts/
  • Holly Elissa's blog post My Social Experiment: Cosmetics and Women's Worth: http://msinthebiz.com/2013/07/19/my-social-experiment-cosmetics-and-womens-worth/
  • Brendan Weinhold's IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4590148/
  • Crimethinc. Ex-Workers' Collective: http://www.crimethinc.com/
  • hairy pits club on Tumblr: http://hairypitsclub.tumblr.com/
  • An awesome blog post about a woman's decision to stop shaving: http://deconstructioncrafts.com/2012/05/10/why-i-stopped-shaving/?blogsub=confirming#blog_subscription-2
  • My article about why I stopped shaving: http://stina-ann.hubpages.com/hub/Im-Done-Shaving-For-GoodI-think

Feminism on street corners, Part 2
Tue, 02 Jul 2013 05:08:00 +0000
After rereading my last blog post, I realized a couple things I should have made clearer. One, the post was inspired by this blog in The Guardian by Jinan Younis. Jinan Younis is a teenager in England and the blog post is titled "What happened when I started a feminist society at school." It's a good article, and what happened to her and her classmates is horrifying. Read it. Be informed.

Two, this incident where the guy said "See you, baby" to me was not an anomaly. I'd estimate that I get some kind of comment, whistle, or hoot a couple times a week, usually when I'm bicycling, sometimes when I'm walking or taking public transit.

My friend Sebastian left an interesting comment on my previous post. Two of his female friends regularly deal with men they pass on the street telling them to smile. Sebastian lives in Magdeburg, Germany, and was our neighbor when we lived there for a year from 2009-2010. I recall this same thing occasionally happening to me during that time. It's wrapped in a less obvious package than a whistle or hoot, but it's still a man objectifying a woman. By not smiling, the woman is not fitting the man's fantasy Jinan Younis talks about in her blog, so he's trying to rectify that. 

I've mentioned that I like making people feel good. One way I've traditionally done this is by smiling at people when I pass them in the street. Lately I've felt like I've been hollered at by men less frequently than in the past, and I wondered why. I realized that I've stopped making eye contact and smiling at people as often as I used to.

This pisses me off. I should not have to stop smiling in order to stop receiving sexist comments. And no woman should have to start smiling in order to fit a man's image of what she should be.

My friend Kashena also left a good comment on my previous post. My favorite part: "Point is - even if it's uncomfortable, even if you feel like you're doing it 'wrong' - say something, because it's unlikely too many others will."

The other day at work I was carrying a largeish ladder. I had just finished cleaning port glass windows (I work at a movie theatre) and was going to put the ladder away. A young male co-worker saw me and said, "You shouldn't be carrying that! You need a man" and came running to my "rescue." I said "No, thanks, I'm doing just fine" and continued on my way. He insisted. I insisted. We awkwardly carried the ladder together the rest of the way down the hallway.

With my own desires to be more outspoken and Kashena's words of wisdom in mind, when my co-worker said "You're the reason chivalry is dead!" I responded with something along the lines of, "You know, I do have a problem with chivalry. I have a problem with the idea that men can do something and women can't. What I would be fine with, however, is if you saw me carrying this ladder and said, 'Hey, that looks heavy, can I help you with it?'" He responded, "That's the same thing!" I said, "No, it's not. That's a co-worker helping a co-worker. Please remember that for next time, and thank you for your help."

I'll keep on carrying ladders and I'll probably continue to keep my guard up when I travel to and from work. It makes me angry that my smile is viewed as an invitation, but you know, if my lack of a smile helps to shatter some guy's fantasy that I'm just a pretty face, I guess that's one way I can communicate with total strangers on the street.

Feminism on street corners
Sun, 23 Jun 2013 11:33:00 +0000
I was bicycling home from the Hollywood Fringe Festival the other day and I stopped at a red light. There were a guy and a gal pedestrian waiting at the crosswalk. They appeared to be together. The light turned green and as I was taking off, the man looked at me and said "See you, baby."

A torrent of profanity-laced thoughts shouted through my lead, the gist being: Why the fuck are you talking to me? Am I your fucking baby? And if that woman with you is someone you whisper "baby" to in the middle of the night, then why the fuck are you looking at/talking to me? And just, why? Who do you think you are and who do you think I am?

I wanted to shout those things in his face. I would probably never actually do that. But what if I did? I imagine the response would be something like what happened to Jinan Younis

A few things I love about Los Angeles...
Thu, 13 Jun 2013 06:04:00 +0000
...as told through a mini photo diary entry. 

Dear Diary,

You know what's super cool? We live in a city where there are things most people consider "destinations." Like The Ellen DeGeneres show, and Universal Studios. We bought a day and got year passes, and that actually makes sense for us!

There's this cool thing called CicLAvia, where miles of streets are closed to vehicle traffic and open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Brendan and I rode Venice Boulevard all the way to the ocean, along with all these other bicyclists! 

The ocean.

Sometimes I see people I recognize and I'm like, where do I know that person from? Then I'm like, BECAUSE THEY'RE FAMOUS. Like Stephnie Weir, who was performing an improv set at the same time Brendan was performing an improv set during the LA Improv Comedy Festival at iO West.  

I've been watching the flower grow out of this plant for the past, oh, six months or so. It finally started blooming about a month ago, and it just continues its slow roll. How neat is that?

Auto Vs Bicycle
Thu, 30 May 2013 05:18:00 +0000
I got hit by a car when riding my bike home from work Thursday night. And what with the way the planets collide, or align, or whatever, it just so happened that I got hit by a car shortly after losing my helmet. And that happened because I accepted a ride from a friend one night when I really should have just ridden my bike home. Ah, choices.

That scary sounding fracture is just my cheekbone, which will heal on its own. Now that a few days have passed since the accident, the broken cheekbone is probably the most annoying of my injuries, because it means I can't chew as thoroughly as I like to. And if there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I like to chew (Interesting Stina Fact #1).

I went for a little bike ride today, the first one since I got hit. At first I was going to walk to the store, then I realized part of the reason I was going to walk was because I was a little bit askeered to ride my bike. So I decided to ride my bike. Brendan and I both got new helmets yesterday, so my tender noggin was protected, have no fear.

As I was riding, I thought about how accidents really suck. You can be doing everything right, riding safely, with headlight and taillight flashing, not running a single red light like all those other bicyclists you see, and out of the blue you get hit. And you can't even remember anything about it to know whether or not you could have done anything to avoid it.

I don't know who called 911. I don't know if someone had to pull me off the road or if I was able to move myself. The first thing I remember is a state of semi-consciousness in the ambulance. I was totally disoriented. Had no idea what day it was or what I had been doing or what was happening. An EMT asked me if I'd been drinking. (I hadn't. Remember? I was on my way home from work.)

By the time I was in the hospital, I remembered it was Thursday night/Friday morning and that I had been on my way home from work and that I had better call Brendan ASAP because he was probably freaking out. They scanned my head and X-rayed my arm (it's not broken) and I puked and worried about my glasses (they came through unscathed!). And then I got to go home and I spent the next two days sleeping. And now I'm mostly okay. I'm even picking at my scabs, that's how okay I am (okay, was picking at my scabs--I'm a good girl and I stopped because Brendan got really grossed out).

Moral of the story: Auto wins, but in a totally jerky way, so I'll still vote bicycle every time.