So Here’s How It Happened

I must apologize for my last post. It left people hanging. It’s my fault. I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks, and the new editor from WordPress was a little harder to use than I expected. I refused to switch back to the “classic” (read: “for those too old to adapt to the changing times”) editor, the post went live prematurely, and some of the changes I thought I had made weren’t saved. The post was a little confusing and incomplete. Let me fill in the blanks.

Go back in time with me 19 years, when times were simpler. Gas cost a mere $1 a gallon***, and only rich people had cell phones. My husband of two months and I went out to Carter caves in eastern KY to spend some time together before I began my last semester of college. We were early for our tour, so we took of to explore the woods. We had wandered probably a mile down the trail when we heard screaming.  It took us a moment to realize it was a cat, and probably a small one. I dug through the underbrush to try to find the source of the sound. The volume of the cries were in keeping with those of an animal with a limb caught in a trap. I found the little critter, all giant belly and eyeballs. She was not injured in any way. Her calls were a terrified version of “Marco Polo,” and once she clapped those luminous eyes on us, she wasn’t about to let us go. She followed us out of the woods, crying the whole way, begging to be carried. It was when we turned and saw this tiny kitten braving a running stream to keep up that we relented and picked her up.

Eight months ago, we said goodbye to that waif, having shared lives and home for over eighteen years. Eighteen years sometimes just aren’t enough.

My old friend

My old friend

I never thought I’d have another kitten. They’re troublesome little creatures. I can’t count the number of times I had to leave the bathtub to pull Piper off the living room drapes, and if I had a quarter for every plant our cats knocked off/turned over/peed in, I’d be a rich woman indeed. And there are plenty of adult cats who need homes.

So imagine my surprise when I felt a sudden urge to look at kittens on Craigslist. Two clicks later, I found myself looking at the most arresting face. Within minutes, I fired off an email to the rescue group’s contact person. She responded almost immediately. I asked a few more questions, and my heart sank when I got the response. The kitten was slated to make an appearance at an adoption event the following day, during hours I had to work.

There are other kittens in the world, I said to myself. And besides, it’s not a decision for me alone. I emailed my husband and included a photo of the kitten. Piper’s death hit him just as hard as it hit me, and to bring home another tiny tuxedo without consent would be wrong. I hit “send” and waited. And waited. I saw him check his email. And he was quiet for a long time. Finally, he closed the computer and left to go run some errands. I had to go to bed early, and he was still asleep when I left for work.  We never got to talk about it. Oh, well. It was never my cat. Never mine.

I thought about the kitten at work all the next day. I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Not my cat. Not mine. Never was. I tried to put the whole notion out of my head. Not my cat.

I came home that evening. She was sitting on my bed like she owned the place. My husband had gone to the adoption event just about as soon as they opened to pick her up. She’s my cat now. Always will be. She’s mine. She’s my Pixel.

Pixel. Forever mine.

Pixel. Forever Mine.

 

 

*** I can’t vouch for the veracity of that statement. I just know that when old people tell me stories, they usually reference the price of gas somewhere.

The Thing I Said I’d Never Do Again? I Did.

I swore I was done. Finished. No more for me, thank you very much. I was wrong.

I thought I was ready for all of the changes headed my way; Squish starting kindergarten, the Padawan hitting middle school, and the Girl-child commencing her senior year of high school. For the first time in my life, all my children are school-age. We have freedom I haven’t known in nearly two decades, and I’ve been so looking forward to it.

So why have I spent the last few weeks mired in suffocating grief? Squish feels like he’s been five forever. I’m ready for him to grow up a little more. And we’ve been hanging on by our toenails, trying to help the Padawan survive a disappointing elementary school experience, counting down the days until he transferred to the stellar middle school. We’re there now. And it doesn’t feel as good as I hoped it would.

I’ve gotten a little weird, a little obsessive, pouring over family photo albums and baby books. But even as I chuckle over double-chins and gap-toothed grins, I grieve. I’m astounded that those oh, so familiar faces on the scrapbook page stare back at me like strangers. Who are these babies? I barely remember them. Time plays its paradoxical trick; babyhood seems at the same time yesterday and a thousand years ago.

I didn’t expect to feel this way. I thought I would celebrate our new status up one side and down the other, and I do. But I cannot deny the wistfulness. Sometimes in our grief, we do unexpected things. And I did.

I thought it was all behind me; the nights of broken sleep and all that good stuff. But we’re starting over again.

 

 

 

pixel

 

Proud big brother

Proud big brother

How to Raise Gun-Free Boys

When my husband and I first started talking about having children almost two decades ago, one of our concerns was the pervasive violence in our culture. Seeing boys barely old enough to write their names pretending to blow one another up was troubling, and we decided our kids were going to be different. We didn’t buy in to gender stereotypes. Kids are blank slates. We were going to raise our boys to be peaceful. We’re seventeen years into this parenting gig. Twelve of those years have been spent raising boys, and I’ve worked with hundreds of children aged preschool to high school, so I do have at least some experience when I offer this advice.

To raise gun-free boys:

  1. Teach them new meanings to common behaviors. Children naturally extend thumb and forefinger. Teach them it’s an “L” for “Love.” If that doesn’t work, I recommend gluing their thumbs and forefingers together.
  2. Monitor their television consumption. Weapons are everywhere on TV today, so screen time must be regulated. I recommend no more than fifteen minutes a day in ten second intervals. Choose shows carefully. We limit our boys to Thigh Master infomercials and reruns of Care Bears.
  3. Monitor their video games. Violence in video games is ubiquitous. Studies have shown that video games can skew perceptions of what is acceptable behavior.  Minecraft was shown the door, for example, when our boys began punching actual trees.  Stick with Reader Rabbit.
  4. Choose good playmates. Kids are easily influenced by their peers. I suggest never letting them play with actual children. A mirror is a reasonable substitute. Animals, preferably those without opposable thumbs, are a decent choice. Store mannequins are also acceptable.
  5. Choose toys carefully. No Nerf guns, of course.  I also recommend never letting them touch things that may to their eyes look like a gun. These items include, but are not limited to: coat-hangers, Lego bricks, sticks, high heeled shoes, kitchen implements, brooms, and, interestingly, a Thigh Master.
  6. Aim for early orthodontics. Namely headgear. If their lips can’t meet, they can’t make shooting noises. Little known fact – Little Willy Wonka didn’t have dental issues – his dad got tired of hearing him say “Pow! Pow! Pow!”
They can's say "POW!" if their lips don't meet. Use physiology to your advantage!

Use physiology to your advantage! Studies show kids in such headgear are also happier, too. They’re always smiling.

 

 

Stay tuned for the next in the series : Teaching kids that passing gas is a natural act, not a comedy routine.

 

 

The One In Which I Confess

I could have, and I should have, and I would have. I really would have. But I didn’t. There. Now you know. I did not like Game of Thrones.

I wanted to. I have been looking for a new series to dive into, and Game of Thrones was primed to fit the bill. When I finish a book I love, there is nothing better than the knowledge that there’s another one waiting right there in the wings, another opportunity to immerse myself in that world and meet the characters I have come to love. I’m not just looking for a good read, I crave all the trappings of a rabid fandom, too. I want to type on message boards in the middle of the night, attend midnight book releases where I may or may not show up in costume.

Trelawney. Don't say you're not jealous.

Trelawney. Don’t say you’re not jealous.

I want the whole enchilada. All of it. Game of Thrones was my next hope. Several books to read? Check. More to come? Check, check. Fans out the wazoo? Triple check. So I gave it a go. And then a second go. And now I’m done.

Why didn’t I love it? I wanted to. I really did. But this series has more flaws than I can overlook, not the least of which is an insufferable author who has as little respect for his fandom as he does for the characters he writes. When an author laughs scathingly and says he should make them wait 20 years for the next book, I lose a little interest. But it’s about more than the author.

Martin writes cardboard characters. I guess he has to because he’s going to kill all of them, but it’s hard for me to engage with one-note wonders. I hate spoilers. Hate them. I don’t even read blurbs on dust jackets. But when I finally gave up on this series, I collected spoilers from lots of sources. Turns out, some of the characters are not as one-dimensional as they seem at first. And I might have even liked them eventually. But it shouldn’t take an author 1500 pages to show me. What if Han Solo and Greedo had dropped their breadcrumbs 10 lightyears apart when they made their trail in the woods? Their dad would never have found them. Wait. Back up. Hansel and Gretel. There we go. When it takes too long to develop characters, I get really bored.

I don’t have to like all of the characters to enjoy a book. ***Spoiler*** Draco Malfoy was an irritating prat for five-and-a-half books in the Harry Potter series. BUT he was a great foil for the protagonists. His interactions with the other characters evoked something, be it laughter or outrage. He made me feel something. Heck, I don’t even have to like the protagonist to enjoy a book. I could not STAND Lincoln in Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. He was a spineless little clownfish. Every time he looked out into the world and appeared like he was about to mature a little and stand on his own , he’d dart right back into that anemone. I did not like him. You know why? Because I know people just like him! He was a real person. He made me angry. He evoked emotion. By and large, Martin’s characters don’t.

Yep, this is Lincoln. Will I ask her out? No. I'm gonna move out... Nah... Photo credit amazonaws.com

Yep, this is Lincoln. Will I ask her out? No. I’m gonna move out… Nah… Photo credit amazonaws.com

There are too many characters, as well. There were four characters whose story-lines I kind of wanted to follow. That sounds like a lot, right? But they represented less than 10% of the population of the first book. I didn’t even encounter many of them in the second book, or their chapters weren’t big enough to matter. I tried skipping the characters I was bored by and just reading the ones I liked, but that meant skipping the majority of Clash of Kings. Too much work.

There’s almost no subtlety. Martin’s bad guys are mustache-twirling evil dudes. They’ll tie that damsel-in-distress right to those railroad tracks. But there’s no hero, either. Not only will the train run her the heck over, it will cut her into three equal pieces, and it will take her two weeks to die. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Not the first three times, anyway. Eventually it becomes predictable. Imagine the very worst thing that can happen to a character. Then multiply it by five, and you’ve got Martin’s plot-line. Basket of puppies? Don’t look now, but those puppies are going to get put in purses and carried around by rich ladies. Poor, poor dogs. Are there little babies? No, not the babies! Is nothing sacred? Martin would write them having to watch six hours of Baby Einstein before being fed M&Ms and getting dropped back off with mom and dad. There’s your plot twist. You thought it was the kids who were being punished, didn’t you?

There were good parts. I loved the Others. I couldn’t wait for them to take over the whole world, actually. I liked Dany. Her storyline in the first book was the best part. She was the one character that was truly developed, and I was taken by surprise by how things turned out with Khal Drogo. I wanted to like the dire wolves. I hear they were pretty awesome later on, or at least had a great story. But again, there was too little of any of these to keep me engaged. If anybody wants to email me the story of the wolves or what happens with Dany, I’m game. I am just not invested enough to find out for myself.

What series do you absolutely love? I’m up for something new.

Up and Out

Last year, a mother Carolina wren made a wonderful nest on my back porch. For two weeks, we watched the parents tend to their youngsters. I don’t know a lot about this species, so those twelve days of observation taught me a lot. For example, in that very short period of time, the chicks grow tremendously. At the end of twelve days, they are almost as big as their parents. But though they are adult-size, mom and dad don’t expect them to behave like grown-ups. Even when the babies are so large that the nest is literally bursting at the seams, the parents tend them carefully. Then they bring them from the nest and begin teaching them to fly, letting them take little flights from branch to branch to strengthen their wings. Now this process has a whole new meaning for me.

Tiny, helpless, impressionable. They need their parents to teach them how to be who they are.

Tiny, helpless, impressionable. They need their parents to teach them how to be who they are.

My house is quiet this morning. For the second time in three days, I made a pre-dawn trip to a rendezvous point to drop off a child for a trip. The girl-child went on a mission trip to the inner-cities of Philadelphia, and the Padawan left this morning in a convoy of 41 buses to visit our nation’s capitol with the Safety Patrol. My chicks are making their test flights, stretching their wings and discovering the world beyond mom and dad. It’s exciting, it’s terrifying, it’s expensive. Since big brother and sister got to take big trips, Squish’s grandmother invited him to her house for some adventures of his own. He left last night. Suddenly my nest that was so cramped feels big. It feels empty.

I’ve been reminded lately of how brief my time raising kids actually is. The oldest is a year away from being on her own. Today, with the house so quiet I can hear the refrigerator hum, I have a glimpse of what my life will be like in a few short years. It’s my day off, and I am alone. Now I am asking the inevitable question. What do I do when there is no one asking for a hug or a lightsaber duel, no one to take to the zoo or to the park, no one looking to me to meet a need? What do I do?

And the answer is: Any ever-lovin’ thing I want. How about popcorn and a MoonPie for breakfast?

The One Where I Tell You a Secret

I have the weirdest dreams. When I was a kid, I used to dream that I could fly. I still remember that *whee* feeling in the pit of my stomach this one time when I dreamed I was flying on my magic carpet. Okay, so it wasn’t a magic carpet. It was a suitcase. I told you my dreams were weird.

The other night, I dreamed I was a zookeeper. Like, instead of volunteering in the reptile department once a week, they actually paid me to show up. And I had animals of my own that I was assigned to take care of. I didn’t get to fly, but I did get to touch cool things. It was the happiest dream I think I’ve ever had. Then I dreamed that I bought a box of salted caramel MoonPies. When I woke up, I had the biggest smile on my face. Don’t you love dreams like that?

Here’s where things get really weird. I opened my secret hiding place in the closet cabinet, and look what I found!

 

Oh, my gosh! Salted Caramel MoonPies are a THING!

Oh, my gosh! Salted Caramel MoonPies are a THING!

 

But wait. If the MoonPies were real… Does that mean…? Yes, it does! As of this week, I have a new full-time job! I am the newest keeper in the Herpetology department. This is my dream job. I have thoughts and plans for studies on reptile cognition, and I want to do some operant conditioning with our giant tortoises. I am so excited I could cry. And I may have once or twice already.

Can you imagine having a job where you get to continue learning and learning and learning about things you love? Because that’s what this job will be for me. I’ll eventually be in charge of some species of snakes that I have limited or no experience with, so I will be reading and scouring the internet for information to learn as much as I can. About biology and the natural world. What could be better?

My first day is Saturday, and I’ll let you know all about it. My new life is about to begin. First full-time job since Squish was born. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Wish me luck!

 

***

In case you didn’t know, I contribute writing in other places. This week, I entered my drug screen post in a competition over at Yeah, Write. If you enjoyed it, click here to go vote for me. You can vote for your five favorite blog posts that you see there.

 I also added a post over at our local City Moms Blog. It’s a silly little poem about how parenthood changes us.  Because it does. Want a free sample, no extra charge? Okay, then!

Motherhood is pretty great.

I know that statement’s true,

But I’d be lying if I said

Kids haven’t changed my view.

.

At restaurants fine, I used to dine

On lobster or capon.

Today, I only choose the place

That offers free crayons…

Click here to read the whole post, and feel free to leave a comment to let me know you were there. I like it when my friends visit me.

 

So Maybe I Failed Another Drug Screen

I’m good at lots of stuff. I take decent photographs. I can cook a decent meal, sometimes I write. There are things I’m good at, see. And then there’s the stuff I’m not so good at. Like passing drug screens, for example.

I blew it once before. It was by accident, of course. Wait. That was a bad choice of words. Allow me to clarify. I didn’t have an accident or anything. I failed the screen because, having been brought up right, I flushed the toilet. And then was close to failing a second time because the sample was a little, er, on the low side.

A few days ago, I had the chance to redeem myself. As part of the pre-employment process of a job I am up for, I had to go and do another drug screen. I promised myself this time would be different. There would be no flush. No flush. Not from me. And there would be no question of volume. I would turn that volume UP!   I knew I could do it! I would pass this screen the first go-round. Sometimes you just need to believe in yourself, you know?

So I went. To the clinic, I mean. Well,  I went, too. Because that’s part of the process. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I showed up at the clinic and registered after drinking enough water and coffee to provide a large enough sample for an elephant. The lobby reeked of cigarette smoke. I looked around to see if they were screening Noah. They weren’t. The closest they had to a Flood of Biblical proportions was a large fish tank with a constantly trickling filter. In the lobby of a place where people go because they’re supposed to pee. Rather dangerous placement if you ask me.

When they called my name, I knew my moment had come. I followed the nice lady back to the Cubicles of Disappointment and got signed in. She gave me the instructions, but she needn’t have bothered. They are burned into my heart. “Pee in the cup, don’t flush.” Like I could ever forget them.

I did what I had to do, and I did it well. After all that water, my cup overfl- oh, nevermind..You get the idea. I walked away from my nemesis feeling a little grossed out without flushing. I had done it! I think I heard an angel sing.

The thrill of success doesn’t last forever – just long enough to remember the poppy-seed bread I had eaten a couple of days before. Poppy seeds. You know the ones. Little black seeds that show up in a drug screen as heroin.  Awesome. Even though my liver problem means I can’t drink OR shoot up heroin, but try explaining that one to Human Resources.

I’m waiting to hear the results. They say no news is good news.  It might also be said that no news means they think you’re strung out on something stronger than dandelions. So now I’m scouring the classifieds for a position with an employer seeking hard-working individuals with a taste for poppy seed baked goods. I’ll let you know what I find.

If I can't get regular employment due to my hygienic and dietary  habits, I could be a kennel girl.

If I can’t get regular employment due to my hygienic and dietary habits, I could be a kennel girl.

 

You shall submit! Your link, that is!

And This Is What It’s Come To

I never thought spending a few hours a week caring for tortoises at a zoo would lead me to this. It’s a slippery slope. I started out innocently enough, just wanting to offer my tortoise friends a little treat now and then.   But here I am, bundled against the chilly weather and sneaking out of the house in the wee hours to cruise the neighborhood for weeds. I am ashamed. Especially when a neighbor drives by and catches me stumbling along in the gloam with my baggie of cabbaged dandelion (not actual cabbage, of course. Real cabbage is bad for tortoises).

It’s not just dandelion I’m after anymore. Dandelions are a gateway weed. Now I’m also searching high and low for mallow, and even the occasional Japanese honeysuckle and chickweed.  If this downward spiral continues, I’ll find myself hitting the back part of the playground for some hoary plantain (maybe it’s more politically correct to call it “plantain of questionable morals?” “working plantain?”).

And not only am I trying to score weeds in the neighborhood, I’ve also been scouring the internet for the proper artificial lighting and seeds so I can grow my own. If I’ get good at it, I may sell some, too.

It's a gateway weed. Look at that lovely bloom! Why don't my dandelions bloom like that? I covet!

It’s a gateway weed. Look at that lovely bloom! Why don’t my dandelions bloom like that? I covet! source: simple-wikipedia

Tortoise-keeping is leading me into all kinds of other sins, as well. I know it says in the Bible “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s dandelions.” Or something like that. But I do. I so covet them. If you saw them, you would to! The base of the plants themselves is six inches wide. The full-grown leaves are twelve inches long. Those are some dandelions! They could feed the entire collection by themselves!

When I look at the piddly little plants in my own yard and their stupid little two-inch leaves, I am just green with envy. Green with a pretty yellow bloom. What does my neighbor’s yard have that I don’t have? Their dandelions are growing out of a brick wall, for Pete’s sake! What’s so wrong with me? Why can’t I have nice things, too?

I’m discontent. It’s true what they say. The chickweed is always greener in someone else’s rock wall. I think we are going to have to pack up and move to a place where the weeds are thicker and a girl can catch a break.

Every time I come home with my bag of weeds, I promise myself this will be the last time. I’ll settle down with some nice collards or a little kale. And then I see this face.

Bored. So bored. What's with the plain greens? Score me some weeds, yo!

Bored. So bored. What’s with the plain greens? Score me some weeds, yo!

And the next thing I know,  I’m cruising the neighborhood with my giant Zip-loc bag and wishing my neighbors were less attentive gardeners. Where will it end? I’m waiting to show up on the daily Neighborhood Watch emails – a suspect with the springtime shakes, covered in dirt canvasing the weedy and seedy parts of the neighborhood weeding people’s gardens. Technically, I’m not actually weeding, though. I just take some of the leaves. If I yank them out by the roots, I’ve essentially cut of my own supply. How sad is it that I’ve thought it through that carefully? Don’t answer.

Maybe it’s just spring fever. We’ve been dependent on grocery store greens for far too long, and now that stuff is blooming and growing, I’ve gone a little nuts. Hopefully I’ll settle down in a few weeks. Maybe not, though. Soon it’ll be watermelon season!

Maybe it’s just spring fever. We’ve been dependent on grocery store greens for far too long, and now that stuff is blooming and growing, I’ve gone a little nuts. Hopefully I’ll settle down in a few weeks. Maybe not, though. Soon it’ll be watermelon season!

First the weeds, and now taking questionable photos of tortoise bellybuttons. But look how it has closed up since last time!

First the weeds, and now taking questionable photos of tortoise bellybuttons. But look how it has closed up since last time!

I have some exciting news to post soon. As soon as I get the green-light to share, I will!

The Benefit of Second-hand Smoke, Part 2

When last we met, my husband and I had gone to see a real movie in a real movie theater, a movie theater that quickly filled with cigarette smoke. I know. I didn’t believe it, either.

Warning. Spoilers abound. Skip to the next bold print if you need to.

I introduced you to the marvelously stupid rock-Transformers, otherwise known as the Watchers. Remember them from Sunday School? Nah, me neither.

Yeah. The Watchers were fallen angels (the Nephilim in the Old Testament. But instead of marrying the daughters of men, these guys helped build the ark. I know. And they looked pretty much like this, give or take a leg or two.

Yeah. The Watchers were fallen angels (the Nephilim in the Old Testament. But instead of marrying the daughters of men, these guys helped build the ark. I know. And they looked pretty much like this, give or take a leg or two.

 

Originally, I thought it was a period piece. I was kind of right. It’s bloated and made me scream a lot.

I don’t know what the message was supposed to be. Was it a fitness movie? There was a lot of running. Or maybe it was about hugging? There was a lot of hugging, too.

It wasn’t about the ark. In reality, it took years. In the movie, it was built in a two-minute montage with the aid of a magic seed and the rock-Transformers. It wasn’t so much about his adventure with the animals, either. They were glossed over, arriving in an amorphous mass and appearing to be generally the same species. Has the director only seen two kinds of snakes in his life? And the moment they arrive, he tucks them neatly away by putting them to sleep with the help of special happy smoke so they don’t eat each other or him during their time on the ark. (But if they wake up with the munchies, he pretty much defeated his own purpose, right?). So they’re going to sleep for the next year.

I think the movie’s biggest failure is that the director forgot he was making a movie that was based on a book – a book that maybe a few billion people have read. It’s a huge risk. There are a couple of ways to pull it off successfully. A director needs to think so far outside of the box that it hits viewers right over the head and they know to expect the unexpected. “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” comes to mind. It’s a genius retelling of the Odyssey, and one of my favorite movies. I get a lot of satisfaction finding the elements that tie it to the original story. The other way is to stick pretty darned close to canon. This director does neither. Big mistake.

I know Aronofsky is an atheist. I don’t think he had to believe in God the Creator in order for the film to work. Sadly, though, he did not believe in God the character, either. He commits the cardinal sin for writers everywhere. He tells instead of shows. Rather than hearing God’s voice and hearing the message right along with Noah, we are treated to a dream in which Russell Crowe spends ten seconds underwater. The moment he wakes up, he’s all “The Creator said I gotta build this big boat and we’re all gonna die!” Really? That’s what you got from that dream, Noah? Right. Last night, I dreamed my dog Phoebe ate my wallet and turned into a jackalope. So I’m pretty sure that means God wants me to buy a wardrobe of pink hot pants, strap on some rollerblades, and run for President. That leap was weak at best, lazy at worst.

The problem with taking God out of the story is that without Him, Noah’s motivations become muddied. In the first hour, Noah isn’t shown in any act of worship, he just seems to have a general idea about what’s right. It reminds me of the phase of my life when I went to church on Easter because I had this vague notion that’s what I was supposed to do. Would someone with that level of devotion believe they were being told to build a giant boat? And would they obey? Doubtful. Maybe he would build the boat out of self-preservation, but then how do you work killing his grandbabies into it? Suddenly the film makes no sense. There’s no believable catalyst.

Imagine The Lord of the Rings with no Gandalf. Frodo just tells us he met this old guy who said he was supposed to hike 1500 miles and dump a ring into a volcano. Would we buy it? Probably not. We needed to see Gandalf, to experience his terror  first-hand. Only then can we swallow the premise of Frodo’s perilous journey. And we do, hook, like, and Slinker/Stinker.

Maybe it was about vegetarianism? The bad guys were first labeled to us as bad guys because … wait for it… they ate meat. Killing animals is wrong, wrong, wrong. Forget that (in the Bible) God actually instructed man to make animal sacrifices and that Noah was to bring seven pairs each of the sacrificial animals.  Or that in the story of Cain and Abel, the murderer was the veggie-raiser, not the shepherd.

Oh, wait. I did say I would bold a section to let the spoiler-haters know when to tag back in. Here you go!

It was a mess of a film with everything and nothing going on at once. I know it was directed by an atheist. That doesn’t bother me. It could still have been a thought-provoking and engaging film without the religious aspect. But when the intent is to remove the religion from a religious story, it needs to be replaced with something else equally compelling and profound, more than just “eating meat makes you the devil.”

I can live with poor movie making, lazy plot and silly CGI, though. The deal breaker, what prompted us to get up and walk out of the theater, was the over-the-top violence that partially involved over-the-top cruelty to animals. When I buy a ticket for a movie rated PG-13, I should feel comfortable in knowing I am not about to be subjected to animals screaming while they are ripped apart  or have to watch them try to get away after their body is mangled. PG-13, huh? Is that the kind of thing you want your 13-year-old desensitized to? I don’t. When the violence is taken to that level, the film needs to be slapped with a big, fat R. It’s not a kid’s movie. It’s not a teenager’s move, either, in my opinion.

Was Aronofsky thumbing his nose at believers? “Here’s what I did to a favorite religious story! Neener-neener!” I don’t know. Maybe. But it reminds me of the time in an act of supreme defiance, one of my toddler children peed on the dog. Yes, the kid made their point and I had a bit of a mess to clean up, but the kid was the one who stooped to peeing on the dog. Which of us had the bigger problem? So Darren, dude, I hate to be the one to tell you, but you just peed on the dog.

So we walked out. And thanks to the smoker, we had a good enough reason to get our money back. Because that’s what we did. We could have gotten return tickets to come back when Smoky Joe wasn’t there anymore, but we didn’t. We got the refund. Because life is too short to sit through a pointless picture.