My Life with Roseanne: We’re in the Money (Season One, Episode Two)

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Whenever I watch Roseanne, I always feel like I am watching home movies. Except the people on television are not my family. There are a few key elements missing: my mother divorced my father when I was around nine years old, so there wasn’t a father figure who was around all that often. My mother moved in a house that sat between two of my aunts, who were around often. Aunt Jackie is like a mesh of my two aunts, in the weirdest way. But there are also a lot of similarities. They are shocking and surreal.

The things I know about my family were heard by mistake, at holiday parties when the adults were talking and did not think that the children were listening. I find that even now, at thirty-five years old, my memories are fractured pieces as if the framed picture I had in my mind was thrown to the floor and shattered. It is hard for me to place when things happened, all I have is a foggy timeline. Watching Roseanne helps me to remember and it is a bittersweet experience. What I do know is that my mother and father divorced when I was around the age of eight, or nine, although I don’t know for sure how old I was. One of the first memories I have is when my mother and father were still together. For whatever reason, my mother had locked herself out of the house and I can recall having to walk around to the back of the house in order to get inside of my father’s office. My mother tells the story dramatically, as if my father was gone for most of the night, but I don’t know if that is true. I just remember watching an old television and falling asleep in the office, because we were unable to get out. I don’t remember much beyond that.

Unlike Dan, my father was not in the picture that much. That’s not to say that he didn’t try. I remember him picking my siblings and I up from school many times. I remember how my brother was allowed to play video games but I was not when at my mother’s house. But with my dad, I was allowed to play them too. I remember how he was more fair and understanding. My brother is a lot like DJ in that he is the golden child, the only child that seems to matter to my mother. Early in this episode, we see DJ trying to help Becky with the dishes but ending up making a mess. Roseanne sweeps in and tells him how wonderful he is and does not expect him to help at all. My brother was the more extreme version of this. The chores he was asked to do were minuscule and finished within minutes, while I found myself reenacting that scene in Cinderella where she is forced to clean the floor with a bucket of soapy water. Except my life wasn’t a fairy-tale. Similar to Darlene, I seemed to rebel against my mother in a foolish way to get her attention. I struggled in school and found myself in trouble most of the time. Instead of giving me encouraging words, my mother fought my rebellion with sarcastic remarks. Roseanne did the same thing; instead of helping Darlene with her homework, she quips back with “I’m not your real mom.” The laugh track plays and I find myself recounting all of the things my mother said to me over the years, none of them being “I love you.” When I first started dating my husband, he hugged me longer than I was comfortable with and asked me why I pulled away. It was then that I realized that I was never hugged by my mother. The feeling felt foreign, wrong. I had to learn what love truly meant because she never taught it to me.

I often find myself making excuses for my mother. She had a bad childhood. In this episode, we see Aunt Jackie and Roseanne talking about how because Dan was able to get a job, and therefore some extra money, Roseanne should treat herself to a perfume that she wants. Aunt Jackie mentions how similar Roseanne is to their mother, to which Roseanne scoffs at the idea. We will later meet their mother and discover why they find her so abhorrent. And at first, my mother did this as well. She seemed to want to distance herself from her family but found it difficult, the idea of “family first” being shoved down her throat. Trauma is one hell of a thing. But that should not excuse what she would ultimately do to her children. I remember my mother as a struggling force of nature, always unhappy and moving towards a goal that she could never reach. I was her ungrateful child, unable to live up to any expectations that she built up for me. My life was full of un.

In truth, Roseanne is a look into the life of a struggling family, who must put their children first before themselves. In this episode, both Roseanne and Dan buy things just for themselves, hiding and lying to the other about their purchases. But ultimately, they sacrifice their wants for their children by returning their items to buy Becky a new pair of jeans. In many ways, Roseanne is like my life. In many other ways, it is not. I find myself longing for the childhood that the Connors had because despite the sarcastic remarks and struggles, at the end of the day, Roseanne and Dan love their children. It is obvious in their actions. For whatever reason, something went wrong for my family. And I will likely never know what that is. I’m hoping to figure it out, in some form, in some way, but knowing that I likely never will.

My Life with Roseanne: Life and Stuff (Season One, Episode One)

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If you are like me, a child born in the 1980s, raised in the 1990s, and grew up in the 2000s, then you have probably heard of a little television show called Roseanne. This show was unlike anything else that was on television at the time. Unlike Full House and The Cosby Show, Roseanne showed what life was like for the blue collared struggling American household. It was real, raw, and my mother loved it. She would often speak about how much she connected with Roseanne and her family. I would later look back on watching Roseanne when I was only a child (the first episode was aired in 1988, making me a young five years old) and reflect on how eerily similar the lives of Roseanne, Dan, Becky, Darlene, D.J., Aunt Becky, and yes, even David and Mark were to my own life and the lives of my family. In fact, the similarities are so eerie that I decided to re-watch the entire series and reflect on how much of my life mirrors the lives depicted in Roseanne. Even stranger still, Roseanne Barr (who created the show, for the uninformed) based the show off of her own life, which leads me to believe that I am, in fact, Roseanne’s long lost child. (I’m kidding.) In this many-parts-undetermined series of blog posts, I will take you down the rabbit hole with me and relive each episode as I recall my own moments in life that mirror the episodes, the show, and the characters within it. Buckle up because you’re about to become a very strange smell in the attic.

It started off simply enough. I went to find where I could watch Roseanne and quickly discovered that most, if not all, video streaming services took the show off their line-up due to the controversy that Roseanne herself caused. (We won’t be getting into that here, though, sorry.) I ended up thinking about it and realizing that this show had attached itself to me like a fungus. In short, I ended up buying the entire series on DVD from eBay. It has sat on top of the TV stand for two months now, silently mocking me. I knew watching this again for the first time in years was going to bring up a lot of emotions, and frankly, I was terrified. After putting it off for so long, I finally broke down and decided to go on this strange little journey. Without further adieu, here is my experience watching Season One, Episode One: Life and Stuff.

As soon as I begun watching Roseanne again for the first time in a good ten-or-so years, a flood of emotions washed over me. In a lot of ways, watching this show was like watching home movies in the most visceral sense. I felt like I was having a fever dream, until my four year old came into the room and asked what I was watching. He quickly grew bored and left the room, leaving me to concentrate on the task at hand. The first episode is pretty simple: it depicts the lives of Roseanne and her family, which is composed of Roseanne, her husband Dan, their children Becky (the oldest), Darlene (the middle child), and DJ (the youngest.) Even at the beginning, the similarities between the life of the Connors and my own stare me right in the face. My family consists of my sister (the eldest, a girl), myself (the middle child, also a girl), and my brother (the youngest, a boy.) But that’s not enough to find things weird. Roseanne reminds me so much of my mother that I find myself often confusing what happened in the show to what happened in my life. Just like Roseanne, my mother was always a heap of sarcasm. Instead of a normal response to anything, my mother always had to be the last one to say a witty remark. The only difference between my family and the Connors was that my father was not in the picture as much as Dan was. That’s not to say that he wasn’t there at all, but my mother and father divorced when I was around nine years old and although is presence was there, he was not a steady force in my life. (more on that later.)

As the episode goes on, we as an audience realize that this sitcom is about a working-class family who struggle every day with simply living life. In the very first episode, we see Roseanne desperately try to find time off of work to attend a parent teacher conference for Darlene. She manages to get the time off, but when she finally makes it to the conference, the teacher is about to leave. Roseanne convinces her to stay and finds out that Darlene has been barking in class, which is disrupting the other students. Roseanne, naturally, comments sarcastically back and forth until she eventually leaves. When she returns home, Roseanne discovers that Dan didn’t unclog the sink like he had promised earlier in the episode and to make matters worse, he didn’t get a job he had been hoping for and instead spent the day doing other things. The two have a fight, which is broken up by a screaming Becky–Darlene has cut her finger and everyone jumps into action to fix the problem. The episode ends with Roseanne and Dan taking a small moment for themselves before they let everything go. This is their lives. The ugly, struggling, hard parts of it that they share together.

My life is a bit different. Sadly, there was no Dan to help when one of the kids needed it. My mother had to do it all by herself. Growing up, I never really knew why my parents got a divorce, and even now, I still don’t really know. Perhaps they grew apart. Maybe the struggles of that working-class life was too much. Whatever the reason, I always found myself obsessing over television shows instead of facing my real life. My mother, through her struggles, still managed to make it to the parent teacher conferences. But just like this episode doesn’t depict, the problem is never addressed. There’s simply too many problems piling up and I always felt left behind, forgotten in the struggle. I was a smart kid, but didn’t enjoy school. I would have rather spent my time reading books and imagining myself as the main character. I kept diaries and journals, none of which were true to life. They depicted the lives of the characters that I had created, the lives of people who had it better than me. These characters were off gallivanting through forests and rescuing princesses from towers. They had adventure. They had a story that was worth telling. Eventually, I would figure out that my life was different from anyone else I had ever met in the worst way possible, and the lives depicted on Roseanne were somehow following my own. It is as if the universe was playing a sick joke on me and I was ready for the punchline.

REVIEW: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book to review!

If you are looking to read about kick-ass women who take nothing from anyone, then this is the book for you! It is a violent retelling of Macbeth, mixed with Mean Girls and Cruel Intentions. This book will mess you up, in all the good ways. It is like reading Kill Bill but with Heathers, teenage girls taking revenge and not caring one bit. Speaking of Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino better get on this one because it is right up his little alleyway.

This book isn’t for the light hearted, so if that is you, then step away because you are going to need to take some serious self-defense lessons after reading this one.

REVIEW: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

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A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard is a hard book to read. It is a true story about a young woman who was kidnapped from her home for eighteen years. In essence, it is a story about a survivor who did what she needed to in order to survive. Trauma comes in many forms and it is so important to keep that in mind before we judge people for their actions, or in this case, inaction. Reading this book was at times hard but important. There were so many people who failed Jaycee, people who were supposed to speak up when there was something wrong. People who looked the other way and said nothing.

This is a true survivor’s story, one that will stick with me for a long time.

FiveQuirkyStars

REVIEW: My Mother the Psychopath by Olivia Rayne

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Reading this book was like reliving a nightmare. I unfortunately know exactly what Olivia Rayne speaks about when she says that her mother is a psychopath. I sat with tears in my eyes through most of this book, relating to Olivia on a personal level. Because my mother is also a monster. There were so many things that Olivia spoke about that happened to me as a child. Things that I believed were normal. Things that I never knew were wrong. They simply were. These things were what made up who my mother is, and was, and forever will be in my mind. These things are what a monster does to a defenseless child.

It feels only a little better to know that there is someone else out there who experienced what I did, who may still be experiencing these things. It doesn’t make the pain go away, but it gives a voice to the voiceless. Reading this book was in parts traumatizing and healing. If you are sensitive to child abuse, then stay away. If you are a survivor looking to make sense of the torture that you went though, this may help you. It won’t heal you, but it may help you on the road to recovery. Stay strong.

FiveQuirkyStars

REVIEW: Pumpkinheads

Rainbow Rowell made me do it!

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If you are like me, and live in a hot climate, then you probably have never been to a real pumpkin patch. You see the stands sitting by the busy highways and the outside of churches bursting with pumpkins and hay-bails. You go into the grocery store and see the giant containers full of pumpkins. But you have never seen how a pumpkin grows in the ground. (It’s on vines, apparently.)

If you are like me, your first reaction to Pumpkinheads was probably “What the heck, Jessica?! Why would I care about a graphic novel that is all about a pumpkin patch when I myself have never been to one ever in my entire life?!” My answer to you is simply:

Well you better make plans to go find a pumpkin patch right this dang second, because after reading this graphic novel in ONE DAY, you will seriously question your entire existence. You will begin to wonder what other parts of fall you have missed out on. What other traditions do people who do not live in swampland have?! And what about Christmas?! WHAT ABOUT CHRISTMAS, RAINBOW?!

In short, Pumpkinheads is about two people who work at a pumpkin patch and find themselves running around the entire amusement park-esque patch. Did I mention there’s a map? THERE’S A MAP, PEOPLE! This pumpkin patch has such gems as Pappy’s Apples, Pumpkin Bomb Stand (guess what it’s shaped like. Go on, I’ll wait), Haunted Hacienda, and the best of all, of course, Succotash Hut.

It is the absolutely PERFECT graphic novel to pick up, read, and probably stare at for the rest of autumn hoping and wishing and praying that you get the chance to see a real pumpkin patch one day and that it will live up to the VERY HIGH expectations that Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks have set. If you have made it this far, then why haven’t you gone out and bought this graphic novel yet? It’s that good. When you’re finished reading about it, tell me about it. I’ll wait.

FiveQuirkyStars

My Life with Roseanne: D-I-V-O-R-C-E (Season One, Episode Three)

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Memory can be an interesting thing. The life I lived in my past was always under a veil of lies, set up by my mother and siblings. My whole life, I felt as though I had memories that were false because they were always denied by my mother with such fervor that I truly felt as if I had no choice but to believe her. There are entire years of my life that I do not remember due to the state of mind that I was in. But there is one thing that I have always known. My dad, despite his flaws, loved me. The memories I have of him are nothing but happy, loving ones. Despite what my mother would have me believe. And I see that love through Dan, in the way that he loves his children, and sticks through the marriage with Roseanne despite the odds. It must truly be a hard thing to stay with someone who wants to be miserable so badly that they will blame anything and anyone for their misery.

In this episode, we see the flaws of Dan peak through that mimic my own dad’s. He was not a perfect man. He did not treat my mother like the fairy-tales imply a woman should be treated. But that is because my mother, like Roseanne, is not a princess who is in need of a prince to come and rescue her. She is more like the dragon protecting the castle, with the princess inside. But the dragon is not a creature that wishes the princess the best in life. The dragon is a being who was created to keep the princess locked away in her tower. And that is something my mother seemed hell bent on. She did not wish for me to explore the world because then I would not be under her thumb, willing to live the life that she wanted me to. She wanted me to stay locked away in the tower she forced on me, because then she had all of the control. Because that’s what it has always been about: control. Just like Roseanne growing jealous of Dan speaking to another woman, these emotions are stemmed from lack of control. Roseanne blames Dan for wanting to be with someone else, when that was likely never the case.

Watching Roseanne makes me wonder about the relationship my mother and dad had with each other. Were they ever happy? The stories my mother would tell me throughout the years always painted my dad in a negative light, but that is not the man I remember. Deep down, I know that my dad loved me. I know that he tried for a relationship with his children but was always met with a brick wall. I can only guess on how hard it must have been for him to feel so alone, cut off from those who were supposed to love him. It breaks my heart to think about him sitting in his empty house, thinking about the happy memories we shared together, reaching for them but being unable to grasp a hold of them.

For me, memories are like wispy clouds in the sky: high above and impossible to reach. My mind has locked them away so tight that I may never be able to find them. I’m scared if I ever do. Terrified about what I may find buried deep within the recesses of my mind. So I hold tight to the good memories, the ones of my dad taking me out on his boat. The memory I have of my dad trying to teach my brother how to fish. How much my brother seemed to hate it. We spent hours on his boat in the middle of the ocean, my brother holding his fishing rod like it was a snake about to strike. Then, suddenly, he got a bite! My dad leaped to his feet, ecstatic to teach my brother how to reel in a fish. But my brother could care less. He sat there rolling his eyes, reeling the fish in with as much excitement as a sloth. After a few long and agonizing minutes, I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped to my feet, grasped the fishing rod, and reeled in the fish. I don’t even remember anything about the fish at all. The only thing I can recall is the look on my dad’s face. It was the first time that I ever felt like an adult was proud of me for something, and it would be the last.

My dad had hoped for the stereotypical moment of teaching his son how to fish, but he got something greater. In that small moment, he taught me what parental love was supposed to be. That it wasn’t about disappointment and fear. It was about sharing your love of something with someone else. Hoping that they succeed and feeling euphoric when they do. Celebrating in their success, no matter how small they were. I remember the fishing days with my dad fondly. Whenever I tried to share them with my siblings, they always focused on the bad things. The things my mother taught them to focus on. But I refuse to live my life in the dark parts of my memories. I chose to seek out the light and to embrace it. I chose to be happy. That can’t be bad, can it?

REVIEW: Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters

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TITLE: Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters
AUTHOR: Emily Roberson
RELEASE DATE: October 20, 2019
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
AGE RANGE: Young Adult

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I was lucky enough to win this book in a Twitter giveaway and I cannot be happier about it. If you are like me, then you probably have been obsessed with Greek Mythology since before Percy Jackson was a thing. We live in a world where retellings of the classic Greek Myths are few and far between, and certainly none quite as unique as this one. Many people have stated that this book is like if the Kardashians and Greek Mythology were to mesh, which is pretty accurate. I personally feel as though it shines a stark light on how brutal and sickening Greek Mythology truly is and also how we as a society seem to want to tear our teeth into the stories that social media shove down our throats. The story does not follow the Greek Myths to a T, and that’s okay, as I feel that it lends to the story at hand.

If you have ever spent any amount of time looking to join Tumblr role playing groups, and maybe you even joined one or two–only to be completely disappointed, then this book is for you, my friend! Emily Roberson masterfully weaves in the Greek Mythology storyline while sending a modern-day message about a consumer’s obsession with social media and what really lay behind the Instragram photoshoots. In this world, Ariande is surrounded by a world obsessed with a storyline that is fed to the world via a popular television show. But there is a brutal reality that lay just beneath the surface, one with hidden truths and half-lies.

I sincerely hope that Emily Roberson is able to delve into the world of Greek Mythology with a modern twist more, as this story satisfied a need that I have had for a very, very long time. I am hopeful for many more Greek Mythology retellings! For that alone, THE LIFESTYLES OF GODS AND MONSTERS gets FIVE quirky stars! Yay, throw the confetti!!

FiveQuirkyStars

Book Review: The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

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FiveQuirkyStars

If you are like me and find the Disney theme parks to be a fascinating place full of wonder and mystery, and if you also enjoy the concept of robots taking over the world, then this is the book for you! Jess Rothenberg so seamlessly writes a world in which our main story takes place that I completely fell into the story and found myself wondering if this is not a look into how things may be run in the future.

But wait. Can we talk about this cover? Because, by god, is it beautiful! It sparkles when light touches it just right and if that isn’t a metaphor for this story then I don’t know what is. I found myself hooked at every second, not wanting to put this book down, my eagerness to know what happens next keeping me reading. I am beyond glad that I bought this book because it has become one of my favorites of this year. It is almost as if this story was crafted for me, mixing some of my favorite things and bleeding them onto a page. When I visit the Magic Kingdom next, I won’t look at the princesses and DEFINITELY NOT the animatronics the same way ever again.

I once read a fanfiction about the “friends” of princesses falling in love in the Magic Kingdom and this has scratched that itch. There was enough fantasy, mystery, interesting characters, and a vivid world that I may have to come back to this book and read it again. I found myself eager to read and learn more about this world and the characters in it, so here’s to hoping for a sequel! Guys, I rarely say that. No, seriously.

It is so hard for me to explain how much I loved this book, so please, go read it yourself and come scream at me about it! It is a fun, fantastical look into the underside of fairy tales and what it really takes to make them a reality. An image always comes to mind whenever I think of this book, an image that you can find in the bowels of the internet. Snow White, standing in a lunch line, grasping a linoleum sickly yellow lunch tray (you know, the ones that you had in school that always felt just a little bit filthy, like they hadn’t been washed properly.) She is reaching out to a worker standing behind the counter, who is outstretching their arm, holding a–you guessed it!–red, shiny apple.

 

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox Review

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TITLE: The Witch of Willow Hall
AUTHOR: Hester Fox
RELEASED: September 24, 2018; Graydon House
GENRE: Historical Fiction
AGE RANGE: Adult
PAGE COUNT: 368

SYNOPSIS:
Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall. The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

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My Review:

If you are looking for a book to read during this fall season, then look no further! The Witch of Willow Hall is the perfect book to get you in the mood for the changing of seasons. Feel that chill running down your spine? Don’t worry, I’m sure that it is just the cold weather creeping in.

The book starts off with a family who suddenly has to move to the country from Boston because of a scandal. However, we do not know what this scandal is and why it is bad enough that the entire family has to move so far away. It is definitely a Gothic read, as it is set in that time period and the surroundings, going-ons, and especially the language that the author uses plants you perfectly in that feeling. I was interested from the start and found myself unable to put this book down, wanting to read more and discover what was going on. It reminded me a bit of the movie Crimson Peak, in which we were unaware of what was truly happening right up until the very end.

I personally enjoy mystery and suspense over hack and saw horror; I want my scares to be subtle, the kind that gives me goosebumps instead of jumping out of my skin. Because of this reason, The Witch of Willow Hall is going into my must-reads for the Halloween and fall season. It has just enough of that creep factor–but it is firmly cemented in reality. If you are looking for a give you goosebumps, creeping under your bed kind of read, then this is the book for you!

Thank you to Grayson House/Harlequin for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

FourQuirkyStars