I Love My Old Movies

I have a small VHS player/TV in my bedroom.

I have access to a pretty large amount of movies through streaming services on other, more modern devices.

But that doesn’t stop me from popping in an old VHS tape and watching something in my room every now and then.

The sound quality is quite terrible, and the volume button is broken (all the buttons are broken in some way). If you press it too much, it starts to rewind the tape, so the volume is stuck at 14 (unless you want to fiddle with it). The speakers are also tinny-sounding, like the movie characters are literally stuck inside the boxy TV screaming at you.

The screen is small, probably 10 inches by 10 inches, a puny square. It practically demands you watch your movies fullscreen instead of widescreen.

My bed is situated on the opposite wall from the TV, but the head of the bed is blocked from directly viewing the screen thanks to a large dresser. I have to lie down with my head at the foot of the bed to properly watch things.

Sometimes I’ll watch a movie while I fold clothes in my room. I’ll push a tape inside and the player will seem to accept it gladly. If I’m packing for a trip to see Alya, a movie will help speed the time it takes. Or if I’m doing some much-needed stretching, a brief story on this sad, square screen will occupy my mind while my body is just protesting.

Other times, I don’t want my mind to be occupied. I’ll lie on my bed and put on a movie just so I can ignore it. I’ll stare at the ceiling and zone out for a good hour and a half.

I have a collection of classic Disney animated films courtesy of my mother’s assiduousness when it came to keeping me and my sister entertained. I also have a pile of rom-coms that my mother was gifted (that she forgot about), a handful of random 90s movies (for some reason), and The Ten Commandments (the obvious jewel in my movie collection).

Recently, when Alya took me to a used bookstore that also sells VHS tapes, I bought The Matrix Reloaded and The Last Crusade. I bought them specifically so I could watch them on this cruddy little TV.

I’m terrified it will break down one day, and I will be unable to fix it.

But for now, it’s one of the best things I own.

How To Get Away with Loathing Your Own Writing

Is it just me, or does anyone else absolutely hate the way they write?

It’s kind of like hearing your own voice for the first time. When you speak and you hear your voice coming out of your mouth, you start thinking that it sounds a certain way. It’s all a lie though. When you hear your voice in a recording, it sounds completely different.

Side note: I hate the sound of my voice. I think it sounds murky and dumb. I sound like I have marbles stuck in my cheeks 24/7.

The same concept applies to writing. When you first spill your words onto a page, it feels fantastic. The fast, free-flowing quality of writing contributes to this sensation. As your words fall into place, why shouldn’t you think that they make perfect sense?

Then comes the time when you reread what you’ve written, and gasp, it’s a nightmare! It’s like cringing yourself to death. Your sentences sound stupid, your word choice is lame, and your voice sounds whiny and immature.

I can’t even begin to tell you how often I’ve felt this way. (Well, actually, I can begin to tell you, technically speaking. That’s what this post is about. Telling you guys how much I hate my writing.)

I’m a fairly neurotic proofreader, so I reread everything I write in order to catch my mistakes. Catch these mistakes I do, and I also catch sight of my godawful, crappy writing.

And the truly sucky thing is that no matter how many times I revise a piece, I am never satisfied with the end result. I can only ever be marginally okay with what I get.

My sister is the one person who bolsters my spirits when it comes to my writing. She is my self-confidence.

Side note: She was pissed when she found out I named my blog The Below Average Blog. I thought that was a neat and unassuming name for something as potentially pretentious as a blog. She thought I was being down on myself for no reason.

But I have come to accept the fact that disliking my writing is a bit of a boon to me. I’ve said it countless times (to myself, in my head, and maybe on this blog a few times). Hating my writing pushes me to try and improve it (key word being “try”).

So if you, too, hate the way you write, just remember two things:

1) Your writing probably isn’t as bad as you think it is. Your self-loathing and self-deprecatory nature just makes anything that comes out of you look terrible. Odds are, given how many people exist on our planet, someone could read your writing and like it.

2) Hating your writing should only make it better. Unless you start spiraling into a depression. Though I have learned from books and TV shows that writers being depressed and alcoholics is a common enough thing, so at least you won’t be alone.

Then again, I’m a nobody writer with zero credentials to my name and therefore absolutely no credibility when it comes to giving writing advice, so maybe you shouldn’t listen to me.

A Day in the Life of Froley

He wakes up to the sound of my voice saying, “Good morning, Froley!” If he has gotten a good night’s sleep, he’ll try garbling out human words, such as “Pretty bird” or “Froley is a pretty bird.” If he’s not in the mood for speaking but he’s still happy to be woken up, he’ll start chittering gleefully. If he woke up on the wrong side of the perch, he’ll hiss at me as I remove his polar bear bedtime blanket from his bedtime cage. No matter his initial reaction, he warms up to the idea of greeting the day fairly quickly.

I carry Froley’s bedtime cage to the living room, where his big cage is located. I place it next to the big cage and connect the two with a little wooden ladder so that Froley has a kind of duplex available to him.

Before he celebrates having out-time, I have to ensure he does his Morning Poop inside one of his cages. I don’t care which cage he poops in as long as he’s in a cage. Froley’s morning poops are massive affairs. He doesn’t poop in his sleep, so I guess it all builds up in the night.

I might have to encourage Froley to poop. I brightly say, “Poop, Froley-bird, poop!” Sometimes he takes forever. On the days when I have to go somewhere in the morning, I swear, he does this on purpose. Once he has pooped, I always praise him for doing such a good job.

Now it’s free-roam time.

Froley decides where he wants to hang out, whether it is atop the perennial Christmas tree in our living room, on the couch (which has a rainbow towel on one of the armrests specifically for Froley to hang out on), on my office chair, or within his duplex. He’ll explore whatever area he’s in, but he makes sure to keep me in his line of sight. If I leave the room, he shrieks for a bit. I have to whistle back to him in order to let him know I’m still alive and everything is okay.

Froley on Christmas Tree

If whatever I’m having for breakfast is safe for Froley to consume, he’ll perch on my plate and share my morning meal. If I’m eating something no bird should ever eat, I have to confine him to his cage. He’ll pace back and forth by his cage’s door, outraged that he’s not partaking. He has no regard for his safety when it comes to food.

The hours blend together for Froley after breakfast (or at least I assume they do). He alternates between eating his pellets, waddling on the carpet, or trying to get a hand-job from me.

When I’ve done some work and midday is approaching, Froley accompanies me to the shower. He fluffs up and gets super comfortable on the bar that holds the shower curtain. If I decide he needs a bath, I’ll offer him a finger and bring him down to the floor of the tub with the shower-head on. He’ll roll around in the water if he agrees that he needs a bath. (If he doesn’t think he’s up for being hygienic, Froley will sit in a puddle with his eyes closed, ignoring me.)

Froley has to go back to his big cage after that because showers always make his poops loose. This is the perfect time for him to go to his favorite perch and take a nap.

Afternoons are pleasantly slow for Froley. After his necessary post-shower confinement is up, he mostly stays near his cage anyway. He naps on the roof of his cage, or he nibbles at the bricks of the chimney where his cages are at.

Froley on Big Cage

If he’s feeling affectionate, Froley will fly to my shoulder and fluff up there. He might want to cuddle, so he’ll nip my ears until I scratch his head-feathers. Or he might just want to be next to me, warming his feet up.

As the evening progresses, Froley’s energy levels go back up. He wants to be everywhere I’m at, and he’s even more insistent that he get head-scratches. He rarely plays with his toys, but if he’s going to, now is the time of day when he will. Froley’s favorite afternoon spot is my office chair. I’ve placed a little towel there to catch his poop, but he seems to poop everywhere but the towel.

I try to play my video games near dark, and if Froley wants attention, he’ll flap his way onto the controller in my hands and try nipping at the sticks and buttons. Once, when I left my controller unattended and my game un-paused, Froley killed my character by having him walk off a cliff.

Froley has a bedtime that he keeps to regularly. A well-slept bird is a happy bird, I always say (not really). Though when Froley knows I’m putting him to bed, he throws such a fuss. You would think from the sorrowful chirps he makes that I’m abandoning him for life.

On special nights, I carry Froley’s bedtime cage into my own bedroom instead of into the computer room where he normally sleeps. I’ll place his cage right next to my bed, cover him with his polar bear blanket, and then slip into bed myself later on. The next morning, Froley gets to wake up right next to me.

On those mornings, I’ll take him out of the cage before either of us are ready to greet the day and have him sleep a little bit more on my shoulder. I nab a few extra Z’s too. I can’t say for sure, but I think Froley lives for those mornings.