Desert Hearts and Visibility

“My only clear memory is arriving. The rest is a blur. An absolute blur.”

It’s 1985: The push for gay rights feels stagnant. Aids is still “the gay plague,” ignored by the Reagan administration and taken seriously only in pockets of the U.S.. Slurs are commonplace, sexual education is limited, and, needless to say, it’s a difficult time to come out. It’s in this year that Desert Hearts (dir. Donna Deitch, 1985) is released – a criminally underseen American romance that deserves recognition for its craft, performances, tenderness, and defiance during a time of immense, sweeping homophobia.

The backdrop is Reno, Nevada, circa 1959: moments of silence on a dusty railroad are taken over by the distant squealing of tracks. A train saunters into the frame, crawling to a stop. Vivian (played by Helen Shaver) carefully steps off to see Frances (Audra Lindley), an older woman with a Southern charm, despite living in the Northwest. She’s arrived here to establish residency – after six weeks, this move will make her divorce swift. The distance, in theory, makes it less painful.

They set off in a truck to Frances’ guest ranch, where Vivian is staying before she finalizes the split. On the ride there, a dot forms on the desert horizon further down the road: a car speeds down the opposite side of the highway and jolts at their side, switching to reverse. Cay (Patricia Charbonneau) drives alongside them, backwards, shouting niceties at Frances and taking a welcome note of Vivian.

Vivian’s presentation and personality are a stark contrast to her new surroundings. She’s an English professor from the New York North her demeanor is suited, her attitude tact and proper. Straight-laced and decidedly straight. Throughout her time on the ranch, she doesn’t shy away from letting the emotional weight of her marital affairs be known. Still, she refuses to be vulnerable.

On the other hand, Cay wears her heart on her sleeve; she projects herself the way she likes, sleeps with whoever she wants (men, women, and swingers alike), and says what she means. She recognizes the loneliness in Vivian and becomes fixated on the idea of seducing her. The relationship between the two blossoms as they grow closer together, through cracked smiles and whip-smart dialogue (“I won’t take off my robe.” Well, we all have to draw the line somewhere.“)

The chemistry on display here is intoxicating. Whenever Vivian lets go and loses herself in Cay, it’s mind-melting. It’s like the film freezes and they’re each left entirely aloneindividualized, seen through each other. It’s so cathartic that it feels like voyeurism.

This becomes the place – in each other’s arms, away from their surroundings (though Cay would be much more content if they acted outwardly and held it on their sleeves). The two continue to meet. Frances inevitably catches wind of their relationship: “You people,” “sinning,” and “never understand it” are thrown around willingly, and Vivian’s time on the ranch, along with her relationship to Cay, is put in jeopardy. Cue the rest of the film.

While watching, it becomes apparent that there isn’t much support in their surroundings. The men are a negative presence entirely. Every man we encounter feels like an obstacle – the closest we get to a positive contribution is one half of a couple that Cay has sex with, who, bare minimum, genuinely listens to what the two have to say after asking about their lives. Otherwise, they leer, judge, and treat the two like objects. None have good intent in their interactions; they all assume that they exist for them.

Later on in the film, Vivian walks up to a gambling table at the casino where Cay works. Immediately, she’s pulled in by a wealthy, stump-nosed man who wants to “teach her the game.” She wins; he tries to congratulate her with a kiss. Cay, while tending the slot machines, is grabbed at, touched, and catcalled. At home, Vivian is pursued unconsentingly in her own room by Frances’ son. The family she stays with is judgmental and openly critical. Support is only found in smaller spaces from other women.

In the Casino locker rooms, Cay and her best friend Silver (Andra Akers) recount the long work days and make a point to check in with each other. Solace, still, is limited – the two work under the thumb of a male manager who constantly ogles his femme coworkers and continuously pursues Cay. Wherever they go, they’re bothered. Their existence and expectations are held to heteronormativity. Their only escape is in private. The relationship that forms between Vivian and Cay feels genuinely defiant and sacred.

This is an intimate story of love painted across rolling, dusty hills and pink sunsets, driven by a need for self-discovery. A film emblematic of both its time and now, Desert Hearts showcases the difficulty of projecting oneself openly  and acting as you are in a heteronormative environment. The complexity and tenderness of its characters are served graciously through the film’s meditative pace and the curated words that Cay and Vivian share with one another. It’s bonkers how well everything works together and how such complexity is found in something that, on paper, is straightforward.

The context of its release as an explicitly queer narrative emboldens what is already a fantastic film. Desert Hearts is a dream worth your time – and if the rawness of its romance isn’t enough, the smiles, timelessness, and sparse Nevadian scenery absolutely will be.

(Available on the Criterion Channel)

Meet the Robinsons is underrated.



Disney’s animated film Meet the Robinsons was released in 2007. I was in fourth grade and my sister was in kindergarten. I remember seeing this in the movie theater with her and loving it. At the time we were naive and while we still enjoyed it, we did not understand all the deeper meanings behind the character’s and the plot. 

If you have not seen or heard about this film, the storyline is about a 12-year-old orphan boy named Lewis who is an aspiring inventor. He has been rejected by many potential families. The technology he creates fails time after time and he starts to give up on his latest invention, which ends up being stolen by the someone called, Bowler Hat Guy. Then, a time-traveler boy named Wilbur shows up one day and takes Lewis away to the future. There he spends a day with Wilbur’s eccentric family and discovers something about his life. 

The love my sister and I have for this movie grew as we continued to rewatch it and learn more. As we became older we recognized the lessons, analyzed the characters and were able to connect the movie to our lives, building an emotional connection to the film. This is something I’ve noticed when I go back and rewatch many of my childhood favorites. As kids, the movies were enjoyable, but now I get more out of them as a young adult. I find it amazing when watching children movies and seeing how the writers designed the plot to reach audiences of all ages. Everyone is able to get something out of it. Not all movies are like this, which is fine, but I find it incredibly creative to figure out a way for someone at age 5 to enjoy a movie just as much as someone at age 25. 

My favorite part of Meet the Robinsons is definitely the closing scene, partly because of the song choice. The song used is, Little Wonders by Rob Thomas. The lyrics are very fitting for the theme and lesson and complete the movie nicely. It definitely makes me tear up when watching. The song elevates the emotional impact of the ending, and ties together the overall powerful meaning of the movie. 

As far as the rest of the film, Lewis, the main character, goes through a rollercoaster of finding himself and learning about major life lessons. Considering his age, failure is expected. However, Lewis is presented as very intelligent and obsessive about his work, easily getting frustrated when things go wrong. Early on in the film you begin to notice his confidence issues as he starts to doubt his skills. His self-esteem problems also derive from the repeating rejections by families at the orphanage. They are often taken aback by his energy demonstrated through his exquisite inventions. When Wilbur shows up he tries to convince Lewis not give up, because he knows the consequences of his future. During this time Lewis is more concerned with using the time machine Wilbur came in to go to the past to find his birth mother. The Bowler Hat Guy, who stole his recent invention that went wrong, tempts Lewis into helping him in trade for taking him to meet his birth mother. Lewis ends up betrayed, and near the end, before going back to the present, Wilbur decides to take Lewis back to when his birth mother left him on the orphanage doorstep. This was another impactful scene to me, because Lewis walks up behind his mother to reach out to her and then stops. He realizes that if he does this, his future will change. He then is faced with the difficult decision of what is more important to him, fixing the past or moving on? You later find out that Wilbur is Lewis’ son and the family he met traveling to the future is his family in the future. I also thought it was touching to see Wilbur sacrificing his existence to give Lewis the happiness he thought he wanted. If Lewis would have met his mother, he would have a different life and Wilbur and the rest of his future family would not exist. 

Meet the Robinsons does an excellent job letting it be known that failure is a learning experience and that moving forward from someone or something is not always an easy choice. What I did not grasp from the movie as a child is, figuring out who and what is meant to stay in the past and what is meant to be given another chance. That said, one point in the movie I disagree with is that there are multiple instances where mistakes are able to be fixed. Sometimes relationships and situations cannot be fixed and we are not able to go back in the past to do that, nor into the future to see these mistakes so we can prevent them. We have to live with the consequences sometimes. Lewis learns from his future family to accept failure and take a step towards better things to come in his future. This hits him when visiting his mother and realizing he already has a family in the future that loves him and he becomes a great inventor. 

Applying this movie to my life right now, being in college is stressful (an understatement) and at times it is hard to keep the end in sight and feel in control of everything. Movies like these are like a breather and remind me of simple life lessons, such as not giving up. It is okay to be bothered by a bad exam grade or worry about how my GPA will be affected by a final, but the important thing is to not let these things bother me for too long. Those feelings are temporary and I can’t dwell on what has already been done.

All I can do is: Keep Moving Forward.

“Angst” (1983): Straight Murder, Son

Despite my best efforts, movie nights normally turn into adding films to watchlists across different platforms in lieu of actually watching… anything. Cut to last week: The cycle starts. My thumbs’ sore from flipping around and my eyes are all heavy from jumping back and forth between screens (harrowing, I know). It was midnight and I was bent on watching horror – I wanted a midnight hour. A drive-in without the drive. That was the agenda.

I landed on Angst (dir. Gerald Kargl) and was immediately hit with a slew of white text: “For the squeamish, discretion is advised,” “Banned in Europe” for XYZ, “Ultra-Graphic Content.”

Alright, so I’m to be held accountable for my own discomfort. Got it, no problem.

It starts out with a man’s face as he stalks the sidewalk, scanning houses across this wide Austrian suburb. He stops and glances to the right at this unassuming two-story and makes his way to the door. He knocks, it opens – an old woman. His hand rises into view clasping a gun.

“I’m shooting now.”

He does just that. What follows is a psychological-profile and narration of this unnamed killer’s behavioral history and 79 minutes of him skulking around and terrorizing a family of three after he’s released from prison.

We are placed into his head, in every facet. Scattered narration, disorienting camerawork, a sadistic performance, and raw, spacious cinematography make this a churning, cerebral, arresting experience. All the adjectives.

This is a film more concerned about the effort that it takes to murder someone than it is exhibition for exhibition’s sake. It doesn’t hold onto the “why”: it’s how long it takes, the physical labor, the adaptiveness, where that drive would come from. The man is an animal but, undeniably, human – a monstrous, despicable, inhuman human. There’s no sympathy for the killer, no real foundation for his actions.

It’s horrifying, made worse by the fact that this was directly modeled after a local crime that occurred just three years prior – so directly that it was banned across Europe. I wasn’t sure if the “Based On A True Story” would hold, but it contains actual quotes from the killer (Werner Kniesek), among others. The lead uses the same model car to carry things out. The deaths are eerily similar. Whole thing’s fucked.

What you get, essentially, is the chance to poke the body with a stick; To have this perspective flipped into the eyes of the audience and touch the aura of murder.

I’ve never seen anything like this and I’m extremely pissed that it feels as essential as it does: this has to be some of the best camerawork I’ve ever seen and, thankfully, it doesn’t fall into the trap of victimizing the killer and justifying their existence.

It is absolutely worth the watch and subsequent nausea.

The Unrated Cut is available on Shudder. If you don’t want to sign up for it, Prime has the other version. Either way – this is a wonderful film to watch with your loved ones, preferably after church, lunch, or on Easter Sunday.

“Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion” (Quickie)

Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion

(A Quick Discussion)

Directed by Shunya Ito, this 1972 cult classic from Japan focuses on Nami Matsushima (Meiko Kaji), a woman betrayed by the man she loves and wrongly sentenced to time in a horrific, batshit prison for women run by sadistic, sleazy men. The film follows her escape, radicalization, and revenge. “Stylized” is definitely the word here. Can’t express enough how off-the-wall this is.

That visual style shifts so, so much. The sets – how expressionistic! The movement, the angles…. baffling in how the color will be muted then explode. The things’ a carnival laced into a rad, 70’s-as-hell prison exploitation film (complete with some insidious post-war angst).

*****TW: Sexual Assault *****

The film engages with and subverts that “gaze” that’s inherent in exploitation flicks. As we know, that lens is often objectifying, male, and warped – and here, thankfully, it moves largely away from this and flips it onto its audience.

artwork by senior artist, Natasha O. Kappler.Objects in the hands of her long list of oppressors are arranged in-frame to be phallic. In times of stress, lights are bright, movement is disorienting. Anytime the camera looks like it’s getting skeevy and voyeuristic, the next shot is focused on #701’s eyes, glaring critically toward her enemies and through the screen. There’s an acknowledgement not just of the evil,  but its storied portrayal and existence. All with surreal visuals and tactful framing.

The genre normally puts women through hell and sexes it up for no reason other than to appeal to a gross quo.  This movie throws that absurd violence onto both the perpetrators and those who are complicit, refusing to take power from its protagonist. It’s tangible, even when its fantastical.

It’s barbed, all of it, and of course, its influence on Kill-Bill is *readily* seen.


So? Worth a watch?


Yes. Yes absolutely.



For more on its influence, here’s an article written by James Balmont on the film’s impact on badass blockbuster women in American Cinema. Click the link below:


Devon Canal

Expectations of the Protagonist Part 3

Hello 4381 Productions,

Most love stories always end the same way. The main characters fall in love, their love is tested, something bad happens, and they somehow end up together in the end. Perfect. Well we all know life doesn’t always work out like that. Over the last two blog posts, I have explored the common ideas and expectations associated with the role of the protagonist in storytelling. This post will further explore that idea and how it relates to the human experience by analyzing the evolution of Sebastian and Mia’s relationship in La La Land (2016).

The film is about the all of the glamourous (and much less glamourous) aspects of Hollywood. In a lot of ways, it’s a love letter to Los Angeles and classic musicals, like Singing in the Rain (1952). The film centers around the two main characters, Sebastian and Mia, crossing paths several times in the city while trying to achieve their own personal dreams, until they get to know each other, and begin to build a relationship. Mia wants to become a famous actress and Sebastian wants to own his favorite jazz club to reinvigorate it. Their relationship is full of wonderful song and dance numbers, montages of dates and intimate moments, and them both working towards their dreams. Mia encourages Seb to join a jazz band to make money, while he encourages her to put on a play about her life. As they work towards their goals, they start to see each other less and less until they’re eventually brought to a point where they have to choose what is more important, their relationship or their dreams. Spoiler alert: They choose their dreams.

Although the movie is centered around the characters building up their relationship, that is not their end goal. The main characters experience a numerous amount of trials and tribulations to finally achieve their dreams, but choose to sacrifice their relationship in favor of personal gain. A lot of people I’ve talked to don’t like this movie because of the ending. Claiming it’s “Bullshit” or “Not a happy ending”, which it’s not, but life isn’t like The Notebook (2004) or any sappy unrealistic love story where everything works out in the end. Life is full of tough choices and I appreciate this movie for the decisions the characters make. It’s not what the general audience member would expect from of movie of this type, but I think it’s more relatable and carries a better message than most fake romantic comedies/musicals.

In conclusion, failure is a natural part of life. In cinema, we expect our protagonists to succeed and everything to have a happy ending, which is fine, but I find that movies benefit when expectations are subverted in favor of being more relatable to the human experience. The Dark Knight (2008), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and La La Land (2016) are exemplary examples of films set in semi-fictional settings where characters fail, deal with consequence, learn from their mistakes, and grow past their limitations. That’s all apart of life and cinema is like life, but with all of the boring stuff cut out isn’t it?


All that, for what?

After a brief discussion with KRH about Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, and an essay I wrote about Rear Window, I think I figured out why I didn’t really love the film.

Here’s an excerpt from my essay (WARNING: highly unpopular opinion & SPOILERS ahead).

I did not, however, think it was one of Hitchcock’s best works. Although I really enjoy watching the films that he created to challenge himself (like this one), and I find it interesting to see how he handled the parameters he set forth, I didn’t think there was enough of a reward at the end. The suspense that he creates throughout the film seems to be for nothing. We were wondering, along with Jeff, if the man across the courtyard was a murderer for nearly the entire movie, and then he was. What’s the fun in that? Although it would be a completely different movie (boring) if Thorwald ended up being the innocent man in the equation, it would at least provide some sort of twist.

I realize that saying this mimics a lot of what I had to say about Suspicion’s ending (and how I didn’t mind that the husband didn’t end up being a killer), but at least my reasoning is consistent. The ending I thought was sufficient in Suspicion, many view as a rip-off, while the ending many enjoy for Rear Window, is one I’m rather unexcited about.

For me, Shadow of a Doubt is very similar to Rear Window in this aspect. Just like Suspicion, we are nervous about the intentions of a potentially murderous character. Of course each of these three films has a different purpose, but Suspicion is the only one that ends with an answer you weren’t thinking of. The other two films create a lot of build-up about something that ends up being true. It feels like something is missing, and like I was cheated out of a climax. So, although Suspicion’s ending is highly contested and not how the film was meant to end, I prefer it over Rear Window’s. My favorite Hitchcock films are ones that show me something I didn’t see coming. The whole point of suspense is to make me feel like I don’t know what’s going to happen, so I feel that knowing who the killer is for most of the movie is a strange strategy for the master of suspense. In the end, however, I cannot deny that Alfred Hitchcock is in many ways a master of his craft, and Rear Window is one of those masterpieces.

Like Rear Window, Shadow of a Doubt has a lot of brilliant aspects to it that make it a well conceived film with much attention to detail and development. I still don’t think it’s his best work, though.

Come Along and Take that Ride

You know those films or shows that just motivate you to create? Maybe they don’t necessarily inspire you directly, but just after you finish watching them, you feel inspired to create something, anything, just any artistic expression. I had experienced these films since I was a kid and the most recent one for me has been Spike Lee’s concert film of David Byrne’s American Utopia.

Based on his most recent album of the same name, David Byrne’s American Utopia was a stage musical/concert hybrid that ran on Broadway for multiple months in 2018 and 2019. The show, with a script written by Byrne, goes through the songs of the album along with songs from Byrne’s career, including acclaimed Talking Heads songs. The play features Byrne and 11 musicians wearing matching grey suits and dancing barefoot on the stage whilst playing cordless/portable instruments. Byrne, through the songs and his monologues, makes commentary on American values, the human situation, and our connection to one another as people. When Spike Lee approached Byrne to make a film of it, he brought his own brilliant sense of cinematography and editing style to the production. By the end of it, you can’t help but feel gleeful and hopeful for a better future.

The stand out point for me was their rendition of “Road to Nowhere”, a Talking Heads song that has been a favorite piece of mine for a while. If you have been following along with my thesis updates, you may notice that this song has the same title as my screenplay. This was no mistake. David Byrne and his style have been a major influence on me and my own aesthetics, especially with my thesis. Now, after seeing Byrne and his talented crew perform this favorite of mine in the film, I just had a feeling of rejuvenation in my work. I have been in a writing slump for a while, but this film, this joyful celebration of life, just fills me with a drive to create again.

With that, I highly recommend this film. You can watch David Byrne’s American Utopia on HBO Max (It’s an HBO Max original so I don’t believe you can watch it anywhere else).

A thesis update: I am past the halfway mark and I am almost at the end of Act 2 of the screenplay. I hope to have a finished draft of the screenplay by the end of this semester. The story wall of my apartment is still a very useful tool.


Rebecca: Eighty Years Later

This semester I’m taking a course focused on the study of Alfred Hitchcock. Prior to this class I had only seen Psycho (which I watched for another cinema class), but to date, I have now seen 10 Hitchcock films.

The 39 Steps (1935)

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Rebecca (1940)

Suspicion (1941)

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Notorious (1946)

Rope (1948)

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Rear Window (1954)

Psycho (1960)

I’m enjoying these films a lot (some more than others) and I am excited to continue watching the remaining films for my class to see how Hitchcock continued to evolve over the decades.

Rebecca is the only film on this list that wasn’t on my class syllabus. As I was researching for an essay over the film Suspicion, I found a lot of comparisons and mentions of Rebecca. As Hitchcock’s first film in Hollywood, he did exceptionally well. Rebecca won Best Picture and Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards that year along with several other nominations, including Joan Fontaine’s nomination for Best Actress. The very next year Hitchcock released Suspicion, where Fontaine plays a nearly identical role, but this time she won the award for Best Actress. I like being able to compare movies (and I enjoyed Suspicion), so I watched Rebecca for more context.

Coincidentally, Netflix released Rebecca (2020) days after I watched the original. Oh boy. What to think… On the one hand I was excited that this even meant anything to me, because I probably wouldn’t have watched or even understood the significance of this release without having seen Hitchcock’s. On the other hand, I wanted to facepalm out of worry (for hopefully obvious reasons). Because it was fresh on my mind and (like I said) I really like comparing movies, I decided to see this attempt to remake one of Hitchcock’s more successful films (80 years later).

The movie was fine.

The cinematography was clean, the story followed pretty closely with the 1940 version, and it was a good watch, but as I expected, none of that was enough to stand against the version that made the story of Rebecca so iconic. Hitchcock can’t be imitated. I mean he can, and certainly is, plenty. However, I don’t believe there’s any way to authentically replicate or reproduce a work he’s done as well as he’s done it in my opinion. There are too many factors involved with a remake that could lead to disaster, and trying to overcome a shadow as big as Alfred Hitchcock’s is a great example of that.

I don’t think Rebecca 2020 was bad, but Rebecca 1940 is untouchable.

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley is a 1941 John Ford film about life in a Welsh mining town. It was adapted from the 1939 book of the same title written by Richard Llewllyn. The original intent was to shoot on location in Whales, but there was this thing happening in Europe at the time called Work War II. You might have heard of it. Instead of Whales, John Ford had Fox Studio build an 80 acre replica of a Welsh mining town. The cinematographer has so much more control anytime a film can build to suit the story rather than the film fitting a found location. Compositionally there are some stunning shots in the movie and it is worth a look sometime.

That is not what I am writing about today. I wanted to write about one of the many moments that make up the story. The whole thing is narrated from the view of an adult Huw, the youngest of six children born to Gwilym and Beth Morgan. Young Huw was played by a very young Roddy McDowall who you might know from any of the 269 projects he acted in or from just one:

I am not writing to discuss his portrayal of Cornelius in the original Planet of the Apes. I am writing to discuss his Huw’s day of school. The clip that follows comes in the second half of the film. Huw is the first of the family to go off to school. The first to have a chance for an education and a life outside of a coal mine. He is given the gift of a nice new pencil box by his family and sent off to school. Think about the sequence that follows, the economy of word and image used to paint our villains; how quickly one villain is redeemed in our eyes; how satisfying the comeuppance of the other. The voice over is that of the narrator an adult Huw.

Also, think on what the film is saying about honor, integrity, respect and responsibility. If you know other Ford works then you have some familiarity with these themes.

Finally, a few stills from that purely artificial Welsh village that is now a golf course in California.

Screen Shot 2020 11 08 at 4 11 16 PMScreen Shot 2020 11 08 at 4 11 37 PM



the road ended

Like everyone else, I was very interested to see how Halloween would look this year. While my family and I took on the burden of staring at each other trying to figure out what to do, it feels like everyone else couldn’t help but take advantage of the perfect circumstances.

Did I say perfect? Now why would I say something like that about a Halloween occurring in the thick of a real life horror film called 2020?

Because it could have been. Should have been. It’s only once in a blue-moon that the night lands on a weekend, and it just so happened that this year, it did.

A full blue-moon on a perfectly weathered Saturday.



The proper response to this should be “Damn. What an unfortunate scenario to be in. Let’s get really creative and figure out something fun to do without endangering others and feeding the virus more souls!”

I’m sure history and covid case numbers will reveal how few people actually decided to respond properly, but in the mean time, back to my miserable night of everyone repeating “I don’t know, what do you want to do.”

Trying very hard to get scared this year, my 12 year old cousin got us all in a car and convinced us to drive to a very small and secluded cemetery a few miles from my house. Since the people in the car varied from hardcore horror fans to me and my 9 year old sister, we elected to blast music and make jokes on the way.  As the road narrowed and the houses got further apart, we approached a tree with a very small “Keep Out” sign and some headstones.

It was here, approaching the grass graves, that the gravel road ended.



We tried coming here one night several years ago, but I was too scared to open my eyes, let alone get off the floor of the car where I was balled up, so we left before even approaching the graveyard. This time, however, we went as far as the little road would take us, and I was in the front seat. My cousin rolled down her window and stood up to look into the dark.

Nothing else happened. We made it to the end and stopped.

The next day I watched Poltergeist and The Shining for the first time. I was by myself and I loved them. I understand that there are some terrifying films out there and these aren’t those, but I felt the anxiety I was meant to feel. This time there was no blasting music or making jokes so I could handle the suspense and anticipation. The chilling uncertainty played its part, and I had to contemplate.

What if I won’t be able to find the line I won’t cross? These are the films I was looking for (the ones that are worth a knotted stomach) and I’m sure there are plenty more like them. Does the road end here? Will I ever know how to classify what I can/can’t handle? What does “worth it” mean to me?

I’m afraid it’s time to get out of the car and start walking.