Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I have some talents. Really, I do. I can make a mean homemade pizza crust, start an IV almost with my eyes closed and am able, with no hints whatsoever, to tell which drawer in my kid's room is the one hiding the remains of last night's before bed snack. I can monitor homework from three rooms away, beat almost anyone at Scrabble and know intuitively when the dog's water dishes are empty. I'm not a total loser. But...
I also have some talents that I'm not so proud of. Talents that don't really advance me in the game of life, if you get my drift. I call them my useless talents. If it makes you feel any better you can call them skills. Useless skills. And I believe we all have them. Maybe you can curl your tongue. Perhaps you can do world-class armpit farts. Maybe belch the alphabet. None of these are really imperative to survival. What are your useless talents? Are you tough enough to admit it?
Totally Useless Talents
#1. Birthday Recall. If I hear your birthday once, just once, I will
remember it for the rest of my life. Truly. I have absolute birthday recall. You might think this would be a useful talent. It certainly should be. Unfortunately, even though I remember someone's birthday, I never remember to do anything about it. I may say, "Oh wow, it's Cleopatra's birthday today", but do I remember a card? Do I call? Let's not even get into the present aspect. So, I remember it but forget to do anything about it which makes me feel terrible so I'd be better off not remembering it in the first place because if I forgot it entirely it might just be better.
Ya know what I'm sayin'?
#2. Impeccable Internal Clock. I can tell you within ten minutes what time it is at any given time. Without looking at a timepiece of any kind. If I wake up in the middle of the night I know what time it is before I look at the clock. I don't need the clock in my car, because I already know what time it is. I'm always on time, usually early, because not only is this internal clock embedded in me, but it's loud and obnoxious about the need to be timely. I am a human alarm clock.
Back in the days before wristwatches and cell phones that tell time in twelve different time zones, this could have been a kick-butt talent. But who needs it now? I always wear a watch, so I have basically made my own talent obsolete.
The funny thing is that I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever. Absolutely none. What. So. Ever. I cannot stress this enough. I couldn't find my way out of a paper bag in my own bedroom under a voice activated halogen light giving me GPS instructions. I would be so happy to trade some of this time talent for something I could use, like the ability to find the grocery store. You can't buy a watch for directions.
#3. Tidy Toes. I can pick up anything with my toes. Anything. Pencils, dirty dish towels, errant dog kibble, skanky underwear on the floor, you name it. I can pick it up. My nickname growing up was monkey toes, because my toes are disgustingly long compared to what they should be. This is another thing that could be a blessing in disguise, but isn't. Because first, I have two perfectly good hands to pick things up and second, now I have a complex about my toes.
And a strange desire for bananas.
You see these toes? Not even close. I could possibly palm a basketball with my toes. Reach a full octave on the piano with my toes. Swing from a tree in the jungle with my toes. Without. A. Problem.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
For today's reading enjoyment, everyone in my household will now be placed under harsh lights and outed to reveal a moment of their past week that they'd rather forget. I'll leave the Film Geek alone just this once. I've picked on him enough the last few days. (I reserve the right to change my mind if the mood strikes).
Sasquatch - Last night was Parent's Night at his brand new High School. I didn't really feel like going but I did. You have to bear in mind that all through his Junior High years I approached these things warily, never knowing which teacher was going to put a contract out on my life. Or send in my picture for the cover of "Loser Parent of the Year" magazine. (Although my money was on his AP Biology teacher). It's not that we don't try, it's that he has a head like a concrete bunker and is fortunate enough to always know better than us. I learned a lesson last night in inflection. Always before the teachers have said, "Oh, you're Sasquatch's mom." Last night, every one of them, with a genuinely pleasant smile said, "Oh, you're Sasquatch's mom." That little inflection changes everything, doesn't it? It tells me he's trying. It tells me he's finally ready to take this seriously. It tells me we're only nine days into the year.
Gumby - Has joined the Sixth Grade Orchestra and will be learning to play the violin. He has been practicing diligently at every opportunity, and makes up in volume and enthusiasm what he hasn't yet learned in technique. At the same time he's decided that our bathroom "ghost" has now moved into his bedroom and is watching him while he sleeps. Last night he told me very excitedly that he'd figured out how to scare the ghost away. He's decided to play his violin for his visitor, you see. To hear him tell it, ghosts don't like music. As he said to me,"I bet I can scare it away forever with my playing." I'll bet you can too, sweetie.
Surfer Dude - Got so carried away eating Farmer's Market pear shaped yellow cherry tomatoes that he told me if it were legal he'd marry one. (They were amazing, I'll give him that. He and I ate most of the pint on the seven minute drive home). This from the kid who said (after attending our last lesbian wedding), "Mom, just once can I go to a wedding where a girl marries a boy?"
Yours Truly - Was helping Sasquatch carry a dilapidated entertainment center out to the trash Saturday and lost my grip, causing it to slide down my shin with enough force to break it apart. The entertainment center, not my shin. However, it took a concave divot out of the Rotten Correspondent off and on from knee to ankle, causing me to hop around in my front yard with blood running down my leg and vile words spewing from my mouth. When the FG saw it he first looked nauseous and then said I should go straight to the ER, at which point I said..."On my day off? Are you out of your mind?" and went looking for clean cloths, hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin. Every time I hobble past him he bites his lip and keeps walking. Wise man.
On the good news front, I racked up my 5,000th visitor to this blog this past week. I can't remember exactly when I put the stat counter on, but it was very exciting to hit that number. So to celebrate I threw on the little country counter to your right to keep track of other fun stuff. It looks a little sparse now, but hopefully will bulk up soon. It could be quite interesting. Make sure to check it out.
And that's all I have for today, folks. Eat lots of cherry tomatoes, listen to some good lesbian wedding music and don't let ghosts carry entertainment centers out to the curb. You heard it here first. And I should know.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I was reading Jen's post yesterday about churches in Georgia and while I don't want to copycat, it got me thinking. As someone who has spent quite a lot of time in the South (Alabama to be exact), I'm fully aware that it takes some getting used to. I was lucky, I guess, in that my time in the South started practically at birth, so even though I can see how different things are I'm so used to it that it doesn't even phase me. Not everyone is this lucky though, and this is what I started thinking about yesterday.
I was born in Michigan and lived in the Detroit suburbs until I was eight. That was when my parents divorced and my mom and I moved to Southern California, the place I consider "home". My grandparents on my mom's side also lived in Michigan, but they were both from Alabama and went back several times a year to see their family. When my grandfather retired they moved back to the house they owned there. When I was growing up I spent summers in Michigan with my dad and my grandparents and always made at least one trip to Alabama with them. My love of road trips started with these journeys and I always had a great time on the way. It was when we arrived that my troubles started.
I always felt a little Bipolar (Tripolar?) with this Michigan/Alabama/California hat trick, but was usually able to fit in somehow. Alabama challenged me. I had family there I loved and it was certainly familiar, but I was always the odd duck out. The family home was down a dirt road in the middle of frickin' nowhere and there was not a bathroom in the place until I was about twelve. The last time I forced myself to go into the godforsaken outhouse something in the corner rattled. Standing in the middle of the yard with my panties around my ankles I swore "Never again". I spent my days trying to talk people into driving me to the gas station in town so I could pee. I would come up with all kinds of fictional errands that always went right by the Sinclair station. I developed the largest bladder in three counties.
Then there was the fact that I was terrified of bugs. (One day I woke up with a spider in my mouth and now, all these years later when I sleep I cover my mouth with a sheet). And I'm not a big meat eater. And there aren't any tornado sirens. Or basements. And I hated the fact that every time you went to the Piggly Wiggly or the Jitney Jungle you ran into twenty people you knew who all had to ask you which you liked better - Alabama or California. I was a mess. And my family, who loved me, made excuses for my eccentricities and wrote me off as a bona fide city girl. To be fair it was my own teenage inflexibility that made it such a problem. My family just thought I was a whack job and went on with their lives.
By the time I took The Film Geek to my grandparent's house for the first time I had made peace with the whole situation. I was finally able to see the good and tolerate the bad with fairly good humor. I was comfortable there. I fully expected, forgetting entirely where I was and who I was married to, that he would fit right in and have a great time.
As Humphrey Bogart says in Casablanca, I was misinformed. It was, plainly put, a train wreck, more aptly a train wreck driven by Homer Simpson. It took me a long, long time to laugh, but it was worth the wait.
FG is from a military family and had lived in California, Hawaii and Arizona. He was used to moving around but he was mostly in the Western US. He had, to be fair, spent time at his dad's house in Dallas, but by his own admission usually stayed inside in the air conditioning to read a book. And his dad was in the city, not the country.
I was already in Alabama with the infant Sasquatch when FG arrived, fresh off a job that had fallen through at the last minute. At some point during that first day my grandmother, not sure what to feed him, suggested we go to the Piggly Wiggly to buy some food. It was summer, which means hot and humid. He was extremely cranky about the world at that point. When we got into the store he told me he was going to go get some sparkling water and walked off. I called after him to let him down gently.
"You can't buy sparkling water here," I said.
"Whattya mean you can't get sparkling water here?" Mr. LA asked. "Of course they have sparkling water. It's not like it's caviar or anything." And then he stomped off.
Five minutes later he came back empty handed.
"You can't buy sparkling water here," he said accusingly.
"I know", I replied. "They don't carry it. If you want water you have to take a container to the gas station." ( See? I worked the gas station into everything).
He took a deep breath.
"Are you trying to tell me that you can buy a five gallon bucket of lard but you can't buy a bottle of sparkling water?"
The next day he got a little cabin fever and decided to go out for a walk. Well, you don't really walk in the ultra polite South. He lost count of how many cars pulled over on the road to ask him if he'd had car trouble and needed a ride. He was gone for hours, but I wasn't a bit concerned, because every few minutes someone would call and say to my grandmother, "Bill (her nickname), I think I just saw Julie's husband walk by on the road. Isn't he wearing a blue t-shirt?" We tracked him for hours and knew when he was headed home because one of my cousins saw him turn onto the road, so she called from the Dairy Dip to let us know he was coming so we could warm supper up for him. Riiiight.
He walked in smiling and in a mood fit to live with again. Walking eight miles on dirt roads will do that to you. As he got a glass of water he said I'd never guess where all he'd been.
I didn't have the heart to tell him.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Have you ever watched the credits at the end of a film and wondered what language they were written in and what in the world it all meant? Not everyone watches credits of course, but I'm always surprised at how many people do. The Film Geek and I knew we were on the same page on our first movie date when we both stayed in our seats at the end of the movie to watch the credits without even asking the other first if they wanted to. I weeded out quite a few potential boyfriends with this little trick.
As he has been in the thick of pre-production for months and is three weeks into principal photography on his latest feature, I've brushed off my language skills so I know what the heck he's talking about all the time. I've never worked in film, I was always in television. Some of the jargon is the same, but film really is a language of it's own. So as a public service (and to annoy your friends no end) I've put together a FilmSpeak Primer. Now you too will be able to decipher those pesky credits.
Oddly named crew positions...
Gaffer - Department head for the Electrical area. The term came about one of two ways, depending on which story you want to believe. First is from the stick they used to use to adjust the lights, called a gaff stick. Second is from the term "old gaffer" which came about as a way of defining seniority. Whoever had survived the longest without electrocuting himself got the job as the top electrical guy - the gaffer.
Best boy - the next step down in the Electrical department. If female can be called Best babe.
Rigging electricians - do a lot of the grunt work, laying camera runs and other cables.
Key Grip - head of the department that handles all the non-electrical equipment on set that relates to lighting and camera. The name "Grip" comes from the name of the equipment cases they carry, which are called grips.
Best boy (or babe) grip - next step down in this department. They are below the key grip but higher in rank than the plain old grips.
Rigging grips - the ones who build the trusses for the overhead light grids.
Strike grips - the ones who "strike" or tear down the set when the crew is finished.
Swing grip - someone who goes back and forth between grip and electrical.
Grips have a reputation, deserved or not, as being a little rough around the edges, you could even say coarse. Some of the most astounding things can come out of their mouths. (To be fair, this could be said about anyone on the set at any given time). And there can often be friction between the grip and electrical departments.
Film Geek joke - What's the difference between a grip and an electrician? An electrician will take the dishes out of the sink before he pees in it.
So those are two of the key positions - the gaffer and the key grip. The third (and last) key position is in the Camera Department and is the camera operator. All of these positions report to the DP, the Director of Photography, also known as a cinematographer. The DP is in charge of all the technical aspects that create the "look" of the film, such as designing the lighting. They work closely with the director to create this look.
The Film Geek is a Director of Photography. However, he has worked in both grip and electric, so when he tells me stories about these two groups I tend to believe him. He's usually too tired to make things up. Here's another one of his tales...
A few years ago one of his classes was getting practical experience by working on one of his shoots in assistant type jobs. He introduced a couple of the female students to the grips and then, out of earshot of the students, said ( not totally joking) "Please don't sleep with my students." "Okay," the key replied agreeably. "Whose students can we sleep with?"
The Assistant Director is responsible for keeping the production on schedule and on time. This can be a very thankless task. The AD runs herd on everyone from crew to talent to pokey directors. Weather delays, transportation hold-ups, equipment malfunctions all combine to make the AD a very high strung individual indeed.
Film Geek joke - How can you tell the AD's kids on the playground? They're the ones running around telling the other kids they only have fifteen minutes left to play. How can you tell the Teamster's kids on the playground? They're the ones watching all the other kids playing.
Now we come to the Camera Department positions.
First Assistant Camera (AC) - the First AC is surgically attached to both the camera and the DP at all times. They clean lenses and filters and load film magazines on and off of the camera. The First AC works with the Second AC to move the camera into position for each shot.
Second Assistant Camera (AC) - the second AC is known for their leg strength. They need it. They are permanently attached to the First AC and when the DP calls for an item such as a film magazine or lenses and filters, the First AC tells the Second AC to go and get it. It's an unwritten rule that you never run on a film set, you "walk with purpose." The Second AC walks with purpose all day long. They also do the slate at the beginning of each shot and keep the camera reports up to date, noting how much footage has been shot, what shots are on each roll, etc. This information is invaluable to the editors during post-production.
clapper/loader - this is the second lowest person on the camera team. It is typical of the idiocy that is film hierarchy that this position is usually filled by the least experienced person on the team, but that they are given the most delicate and potentially disastrous job. The clapper/loader loads the magazines, the film containing device that clamps on the back of the camera. This job, threading film into a magazine that looks like a convoluted pinball game, is done entirely in the dark, completely by feel. Imagine an oversized sewing machine bobbin crossed with a rat maze. It's usually done in a camera bag but can be done in a completely dark camera truck. Either way they can't see a thing. And film is expensive. If it's loaded wrong or exposed to light in any way...see ya. Game over. They don't often get a second chance if they screw up. And they get paid crap.
Production Assistants - this is the true grunt position on the crew, speaking of getting paid crap. They do everything from making copies to getting coffee for the talent to taking the director's dog to the vet. (Sometimes they even babysit the DP's kids when the shooting schedule changes unexpectedly and his wife has to work). Eighteen to twenty hour days are not unheard of. Film is a business that is very big on "paying your dues" and PA' s are at the very bottom of the ladder. One of the Film Geek's friends had a t-shirt that said "I've overpayed my dues and I want a refund." I'm pretty sure everyone who saw it wanted that shirt.
These positions, with the exception of the DP are all called "below the line" positions. I'm not really sure what the "line " part of it means, although I think it's an accounting thing that shows up on the budget above or below a certain line item. The "above the line" positions are the producers, director and DP. The title Producer can mean many, many things, ranging from someone who puts up the money because they've "always wanted to be in film" to the very hands on producer who has their finger on the pulse of everything. The director is the one directly responsible for bringing the film in on time, on budget and looking good, and is the one who is made a hero if things work out or a schmuck if it flops.
Okay, class over for today. Aren't you sorry you asked? (Whattya mean, you didn't ask?) Doesn't it make you want to see a movie right now so you can begin translating for your friends? Study hard, because soon we'll have a lesson on film lingo on the set. I'm still figuring out how to put the funniest, completely unprintable lines in. It may be awhile.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Very shortly one of two things will happen. Either my head will get too big to fit through the door or all of you very nice award-giving people will decide that I'm more trouble than I'm worth and take your blog reading business elsewhere. I'm seriously hoping it will be the former. Heads fitting through the door are highly overrated anyway. But losing my blog buddies...now that would be a disaster!
From the wonderful and well-travelled la bellina mammina comes the
which I am thrilled to accept. And I'm playing it forward to...
Ciara at Ramblings and Whatnot
Iota at Not wrong, just different
Diana at Piffle
laurie at Three Dog Blog
Because I think they are really thoughtful and have very interesting ways of looking at things that always make me think. It's so nice to have different perspectives on things, and they certainly provide that.
And from one of my bestest blog babes Jo Beaufoix is the
which evidently is intended to prove that it never hurts to be nice. It's to thank people for responding to posts and being encouraging and polite all around. I have a southern mother. Impolite isn't an option. She'd kick the grits out of me. Politely, of course.
I'm giving this to...
Pixel Pi at Motes & other small things
Diana at Piffle
laurie at Three Dog Blog
Because I can always count on an encouraging word and nice comment from this bunch, whether it's on their blog as a response to a comment or as a comment on my own site. Or both. The urge to give this to willowtree just to see how he would modify the award to fit his site is almost overwhelming. But I'm resisting. This time at least.
My girdle is killing me and my mascara is running, so I guess I'm done. It seems like Awards Season is upon us again, doesn't it? I'm impressed with myself. I think I actually managed to hand out my awards before they cut away from me and went to a commercial break for feminine hygiene products.
Just to get everybody ready for tomorrow's movie post, let's play Six Degrees. I'm sure you've all heard of it. It started with Kevin Bacon, since he's been in so many movies with so many different people. The idea is to link one actor to another in six steps or less. Here's an example -
Adam Sandler to Winona Ryder
1. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates
2. Drew Barrymore and Demi Moore in Charlie's Angels
3. Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson in Indecent Proposal
4. Woody Harrelson and Keifer Sutherland in The Cowboy Way
5. Keifer Sutherland and Angelina Jolie in Taking Lives
6. Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted
Here's another not too awful one...
Link Michelle Pfeiffer to John Cusack in six steps or less.
On your mark, get set, GO!
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Now that all the hype and hysteria are over, now that THE BOOK has been devoured by the hordes, now that we all know what happens with Harry and the gang...
Let's dish. I want to hear what everyone thinks.
Did the book live up to the hype? Did J.K. Rowling do right by her readers? Was it worth the wait? Can we shut the door on the Hogwarts crew with the majority of our questions answered? Are we happy now?
In my opinion - yes. To all of the above. With a few small quibbles I think she delivered the total package. When I shut that book after an all day marathon I had tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms. The only regret I had was that there was no "next book" to look forward to. Given what I had just read I could live with that.
As far as the storyline, I was right with some of my predictions and not so right with others. I'm grateful that I was right on the important ones. When I realized that Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all survived I really did cry. You have no idea how hard it is to make me cry. Trust me. For a while there it looked like Harry wasn't going to come out alive and it was all I could do to not turn to the end of the book and peek. When I saw that Arthur and Molly Weasley made it through I cried harder. Molly Weasley is my favorite of the non-kid characters and always has been. And in my opinion the very best line of the entire book was on page 736...
"NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"
screamed in parental rage and anguish before Molly, the overlooked mother figure who folded laundry and waved her wand over the dinner table - Molly, who we had never really gotten to see in action, Molly...
kicked Bellatrix Lestrange's butt in front of the entire school and Voldemort. Single-handedly cursed her into oblivion. If I hadn't known Rowling was a mom before I sure would've known it then. It was brilliant. And I never saw it coming. I was so sure Neville would be the one to take down Bellatrix.
Then there's Snape. He didn't die the way I imagined, but he did turn out to be a good guy. A foul tempered, complicated good guy, but still. It wasn't until I had read his death scene a few times that I understood the significance of him asking Harry to look in his eyes as he died. [insert sobbing sounds here]. I liked the arc with the Malfoys and how, even though they were a "dark" wizarding family, the love his parents had for Draco changed their allegiance and ultimately their actions. I liked the epilogue and the way it tied everything up, although I don't understand the significance of it being nineteen years later. Why nineteen? I'm enough of a softy to be glad that the happy couples ended up together. [insert sobbing sounds yet again].
I didn't like it when Fred died. I really didn't like it when Lupin died. I don't understand why Tonks had to die, except for the symbolism of their orphaned son and his godfather Harry. There were times where you felt like you were reading for quite a while with no action and then there was a lot of stuff happening all at once. As Sasquatch said there were long stretches where the main action was the characters whining about how uncomfortable they were while they were searching for the Horcruxes. I thought Neville would have a much larger role. I thought Ginny would be more active as well. I was positive she had one really well timed bat bogey hex in her.
I wished we had found out what happened with some of the other characters in the future. But then I saw this and got over it. It was enough.
It isn't a perfect book. It didn't have to be. But it's awfully close.
Friday, August 24, 2007
I read in the newspaper the other day that according to an AP poll, one in four American adults didn't read a single book last year. This poll found that the average person read four books in 2006. People give a lot of different reasons for not reading more books, but the study directly faulted television, movies and the Internet. According to publishing company analysts this downward trend is not new and is certainly expected to continue indefinitely.
Well. I don't even know where to start on this one.
How about here? I'm a reader, born to a reader, married to a reader also born to a reader. Together we have raised readers. Two of my children were reading at the college level by the time they were in fifth grade and the other one (just started in fifth grade) hasn't been tested out yet. My gut tells me he's there too. My eldest tested at a post-college level in second grade. I'm not saying they're brilliant. (I have lots of stories to refute that theory). I'm just saying that they love to read. And they have the vocabulary and the imagination to prove it.
I've always loved a good book. I admit it was tough when my kids were smaller and my attention span was suspect, but I managed. I know I read less, but I still read. For a while magazines were my fall back since the articles could be read during a nap or Power Rangers. But as my kids got older and more self-sufficient, I was more able to go back to my old ways. I've never looked back. I read off and on during any given day and every single night before I go to sleep. I can't not do it.
It can be tricky sometimes with time constraints and other demands. It should be obvious to all that I spend more time on the Internet than maybe I should, and once the kids get home from school I pretty much run like a dog for the rest of the day. But I fit it in for one primary reason. Because I want to. My kids are well taken care of and not lacking for my attention. I'm sure my house could be cleaner, my meals more gourmet and my spice rack better organized, but I don't really give a rat's ass about those things for the most part. My house is usually tidy, my family eats healthy (usually from scratch) meals and why organize anything when your house is full of boys who pick everything up absent mindedly and move it someplace absurd? My cumin would be in the tool drawer. Why bother?
There's a blog I really love called Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. To say that her life is not like my life is quite the understatement(although she and the Film Geek did go to the same college), but I read her every day and enjoy the heck out of her. She did a post last week about how she's not a reader but that she had recently picked up a book and gotten sucked in and was now thinking about reading more. I'm all for that, of course, but what really interested me were the comments from people about this post. She has something like half a billion people reading her blog on a daily basis it seems, and I could be wrong, but I think her readers are a pretty diverse group. The comments certainly reflected it. There were (in my mind anyway) an appalling number of people who proudly said they never read books, if not in their entire life at least in their recent memory. And of course there were the ones like me, who squeeze books into the smallest corners of their days, who asked her nicely what in the world she was thinking. But they were the minority. It may not have been a landslide, but it was pretty clear. Our side lost.
These people are obviously readers as they're reading a blog. People read things all day long, from the instructions on how to put the fan together to how to find the channel you want on your thousand channel satellite dish to other people's blogs. It's not that they can't read a book, it's that they don't. It's the "don't" part that baffles me. I just "don't" get it.
As I finish this I'm off to the library to restock for the next week. Thanks to a recommendation from Akelamalu I've just finished my first Karin Slaughter forensic mystery and loved it. I'm headed to get more. Thanks for the tip, Akelamalu!
Finally, on the subject of reading, has everyone who was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finished? Can we dish??
I'm off my soapbox now. You can get on with your regularly scheduled lives.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Irrational fears. We all have them, as much as we might wish we didn't. Sometimes the more irrational they are the harder they are to shake. The Midwesterner who is terrified of sharks, for example. Are they afraid of the idea of sharks or the sharks themselves? And does the fact that they live in a place that won't easily allow them to face their fears make it worse? Why would you be afraid of something you'll most likely never run into?
Why do our brains do this to us?
#1. Snakes. Not just poisonous snakes, like the
fine upstanding specimen to the right, but any snake, any size, anywhere. If I lived in the Amazon Rainforest and I was afraid of snakes that would be a sign of intelligence. But lets be honest here. I don't run into too many snakes on a daily basis. Sure my three boys have all expressed an interest in a pet snake, but that one never even made it into the discussion stage. They probably heard my "NO!!" in the Amazon.
What makes me crazy is if you put four legs on them and call them lizards I have no problem at all. We've had several pet lizards and they were great. They didn't bother me a bit.
I've been really big on the whole "Face your fears" bandwagon the last couple of years, and this was the first thing that came up to challenge me. We were at an animal exhibition when someone came walking around with a fifty foot long snake that weighed about two tons. It had fangs longer than my leg and made the basilisk in HP look meek. One of my reptile loving kids, I've blocked out which, looked at me evilly and said "Face your fears, mom" and the next thing I knew I had both hands on the snake, because I'm damned if I'm going to give my kids that kind of ammunition. Thank god the handlers didn't want anyone to hold it or "Face your fears" would've turned into "Run like hell out the front door and let the kids fend for themselves." Ugh.
#2. Siamese cats. When I was about four my mom and I visited one of her friends in St. Louis. This woman had two Siamese cats and they weren't thrilled about me being on their turf, so they just kind of cat vanished during out trip. I never even saw them.
Our last day there they pounced on me from the top of the fridge and tore my face up so badly I had to go to the doctors. I've been terrified of Siamese cats ever since.
What makes this irrational is that I've had one dog run in after another and I'm not even remotely afraid of dogs. I've had bones in my left hand bitten through trying to stop two German Shepherds from fighting. I got bitten by a dog that hadn't had its rabies shots and I had to sweat it out while they quarantined the dog for ten days. I've been bitten at least four other times that I can think of off the top of my head, mostly as a kid. Yet I have no fear of dogs whatsoever. I will admit that the sound of dogs fighting freaks me out, thanks to a certain aggressive Shepherd from my past, but my dogs never even grumble at each other so it never comes up.
But Siamese cats scare the living crap out of me. It goes without saying that if there's one within twenty feet it's all over me, purring and rubbing up against me. Sadists. They smell fear.
And they like it.
#3. Small, enclosed spaces. Now seriously, how is a space going to hurt you? Is the wall going to punch you in the head? I don't think so. This is one where it's all about the idea of it. I don't like cramped spaces. They make me very nervous.
The summer I was repeating the Face your fears mantra we drove to California for the summer. In South Dakota there are caves. Lots and lots of caves. Everyone else was all gung ho to see this one particular cave that had something stupid about it that was special. I was not big on this idea, but, you guessed it, my little mantra came back to bite me in the butt. I need a new line. I did the tour through the cave (all sixty minutes of it) and only got through because I never looked up. I looked at the ground directly in front of my feet and the shirt just ahead of me. Not very exciting as cave tours go. But I got through it.
But it isn't anything I plan to do again. Ever.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Some of my best eavesdropping on my younger kids lately happens when they're in the shower. I guess I can thank our mythical bathroom ghost for this. See, neither one of them likes being in the bathroom alone, so they bribe the other one to go in and sit with them while they shower. The door is always left open for a quick exit in case the ghost shows up between the shampoo and the conditioner, so I can hear perfectly. The downstairs bath is right off the kitchen, and I've found that if I do kitchen chores during shower time I get all the gossip. It's always interesting, even if it does sometimes make me cringe.
Yesterday morning was a perfect example. Gumby was in the shower and Surfer Dude was lounging on the toilet, fully clothed, reading a Foxtrot book. Out of nowhere Gumby said, "Who do you think is the craziest person in the world?" As SD pondered this I stopped making cinnamon toast and tried to guess what he would say. We're a fairly well read family, and my kids are very interested in current events, so it could have been anyone. Politicians get defiled on a daily basis at casa de Correspondent so I was pretty sure that was the direction we were headed for. What I wasn't expecting was ...
"Britney Spears," said SD decisively.
"Do you really think so?", asked Gumby, "I think Lindsay Lohan is crazier."
"Well," reflected SD, "really it's a toss-up."
"I don't think either one of them could be any crazier than they are," offered Gumby, climbing out of the tub. "They're out of control."
"You know how you could make them crazier?" asked SD with a sadistic note in his voice. "Lock them each in a room with nothing to do except a book to read. They'd go nuts!!"
As they continued getting ready for school I had to wonder. What in the world do they even know about these two women? And how in the world did they hear it? And why in the world do they care? Why does anyone in the world care? Do they not know the difference between Hollywood crazy and real crazy? Surely people realize that there is a difference. Don't they?
Although I have to give Surfer Dude points for his plan. I think it's a sure fire winner.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
There's one in every family and my family is no exception. One person is the emotional stabilizer, the one who pulls rabbits out of their hat and keeps everything going, the one who listens to everyone and solves everyone else's problems or goes down trying. This is the person who has their nervous breakdowns in private so no one else freaks out. The person who everyone else feels secure enough with to totally unload on. One person is always the touchstone.
Every unpleasant day in my life has some surreal element in it, just a little drop kick to keep you awake. Mine was supplied by Surfer Dude, who had to appear in our little soap opera somehow. He's all fired up for this next Kid's Top Chef competition he's planning and keeps fiddling with things in the kitchen as he prepares. (This event is weeks away, BTW). Whenever I walked into my kitchen there was a pile of all different kinds of peppers and jars of spices artistically stacked up. Except the position kept changing. First it was on the table. Then it was piled on the counter. It made its final appearance on the island before I said if he didn't put the peppers away I would feed him nothing but Pop Tarts until he went away to college. Foodies evidently don't eat Pop Tarts, even ten year old foodies, because the pepper pastiche went away.
Monday, August 20, 2007
I was doing charting at work yesterday and my patient was a little four week old baby. And this is what I typed in...
Pt. sleeping quietly at this time in mother's arse.
Arms, arse, whatever. All I can say is thank god I caught it before I electronically signed it or I would have been out of my job on my arms. It would almost have been worth it.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
I was having a fine old time yesterday checking what I call my "Buddy Blogs" until I got to Jen's site. She was handing out awards, which was not the problem. The problem was that as I was reading, I had this awful realization that three weeks ago when I was heading off on vacation, I promised that I would "play forward" awards that I had just received as soon as I got home. And then I completely forgot to do it. Oh, the awards are up on my blog, looking all cute and perky, but I never passed them on. I. Am. Not. Worthy.
Disclaimer: For some reason hyperlink isn't working for me, so none of these sites actually link. However, they're all in the right column on my links under Fun Reads. Check them out if you haven't.
I am passing this along to...
Akelamalu at Everything and Nothing, because she has the most fabulous multi-media site I've seen. And also because I love pretty much everything she does on her blog.
Three Dog Blog. You can always tell the journalists. They hook you hard and then keep you that way. Great pictures and great writing.
Piffle. A relatively new find that I just love. Funny, thoughtful and with a sarcastic streak a mile wide. My kind of blog.
Flowerpot. Also a recent find that keeps me coming back for more. Beautifully done and grabs you by the heartstrings more than once.
And to Dumdad at The Other Side of Paris I'm giving the
because he makes you think all right. Through the tears of laughter streaming down your face, until you think you're going to choke. Remember what I said about the journalists. It's true again here.
And from the lovely Akelamalu I received the
award. You don't have to be no stinkin' dude to be a dude, dude. (I got called dude by the grocery bagger just yesterday, now that I think of it).
I'm giving this one to...
Jen at A Snowball's Chance In... because, well, she's awesome. And funny. And looks at things in the slightly warped way I crave. And because we've been through the blog trenches with pesky viruses and comment codes written in Vulcan code. Did I mention that she's awesome?
Jo Beaufoix - Her site has been down for a bit lately and I've felt terrible withdrawal pains. Every day I'd check hopefully and find nothing. A couple of days ago when it was back up I jumped out of my chair and yelled. That, my friends, is awesome.
Mya at Missing You Already - I hate to let her know how much I miss her with all of this gallivanting around she's doing, because it's entirely possible it will go straight to her head. Even knowing that, I have to admit that a day without Mya's outlook is a bleak one. So I'm going with Awesome. Only because no one has come up with a Slacker Award yet.
And there you have it. Can I just take this opportunity (now that I have the stage and before they cue the music and cut to a commercial) to say something to all of you? If anyone had told me six months ago how many amazing people would become part of my day because of blogging I'm not sure I'd have believed it. But you have andI do.
And I absolutely love it.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Since we've moved to the midwest I've made an important discovery. It's different here. Some things I like better about Los Angeles and some things I prefer in my little town on the prairie. But it's the differences that really keep me hopping.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
What would you do if you all of a sudden acquired $25,000 (or the equivalent) - with almost no strings attached? How would you spend it and why?
Here are the rules. No bill paying, no doing anything responsible like college funds or investing. You can't spend it on anything you need. And it must be for you. Other people can benefit from it, but it needs to be what you want.
How Would You Spend $25,000?
Here's what I'd do...
#1. Travel. Anywhere and everywhere, as long as the money held out. I've travelled a fair amount in my life, but not lately and I'm really missing it a lot. I want to go. As I said, I'll go pretty much anywhere, but there are places very high on my list. Australia, for one. I'd like to spend time really experiencing the country. All over Europe would be great. Asia. Anywhere with a beach. I want to look at the lights of Manhattan from the highest hotel room possible. I want to eat in the dining car on the Orient Express. I've never been to Italy. I want to go.
We have the potential to be able to go abroad for a semester or a year for the Film Geek to teach film production. The three places that are the most likely are Sterling, Scotland, Singapore and somewhere in Australia. I keep trying to find out exactly where in Australia and hear a different story every time. I believe it's Melbourne, but don't quote me. This is by no means carved in stone, as my husband has film projects lined up for the next couple of years and what would we do about the dogs? He doesn't want to do it as much as I do, which of course is a problem all by itself.
But it sure is fun to think about it.
#2. Buy a mini-van. Not because I need one, but because I want one. And yes, I am an old fart. I'm tired of fitting three kids and their friends and all their crap in a five seater car. There's kind of a funny story here. A couple of years ago when I was commuting an hour and a half a day we went car shopping. We had a mini-van, but the gas mileage was nothing to write home about. Well, we ended up buying a good mileage commuter car, figuring that whoever would be schlepping the kids around would drive the van and whoever would be driving a lot would take the smaller one.
I was at work one day and the Film Geek called from his office. We were catching up on events of the day so far and all of a sudden he started screaming. Now, I love the man dearly, but he's not always rock solid in a crisis, if you get my drift. I'm thinking someone has burst in with a gun because he's shrieking "No!! OH MY GOD, NO!!" And just before I wet myself he yells that someone has gone off the road, across a huge lawn, through a very large parking lot and plowed right into our parked van. Totalled it. He has watched the entire thing, from car leaving road to impact out his window. We had owned the commuter car for two weeks.
This is why I want a van.
#3. Have my yard landscaped by a professional. I am so overwhelmed by my property that I don't even know where to start. It's not even like it's big. I have about half an acre of land with a house and a studio on it. There are a bunch of very large trees and a daylily patch that is very large and very old. I have a pile of old house issues, like a brick patio and arbor that need some serious TLC. There are a lot of orphan perennials in bizarre places. We're on a corner and people cut through our yard, which pisses me off and makes me want to plant something really big and intimidating. Preferably with thorns.
I'm not from here, which of course makes it more problematic. I've been trying to get a clue about what likes to grow here and what doesn't, but I feel like I'm in over my head. If someone could come in and design and plant a garden for me I could maintain it. I know I could. They would just have to teach me what to do. I don't have a problem with yard work. I have a problem in not knowing what to plant and where.
I believe my money is all gone at this point. Now you can all spend yours. Please? I hate to shop alone.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Well, it's finally happened. I've had a stress dream about my blog.
I went to sleep last night in a state of massive brain fart and no real idea of what I would write about today. Usually I have some idea before bed and I let it evolve itself out in dreamland, when my thought process is all loosey goosey. But last night the brain wasn't cooperating and I went to sleep minus a plotline for today.
Then I had this dream...
I woke up this morning having overslept and needing to be at work. But it wasn't my current job, it was my old one, the one that had really started to get to me before I switched. When I got on the computer I couldn't get it onto Internet Explorer where (like the dinosaur my kids consider me to me) I keep all my favorites. They keep wanting me to go to Mozilla and I keep resisting. So I couldn't find my blog anywhere and hollered for the Film Geek to come and help me. He said to use the other computer, but we were never able to find it no matter how hard we looked.
Then I remembered that I was supposed to telephone a blog buddy who lives in the land of tea and crumpets. Do not ask me why - I have no idea. So I called her but just as she asked me to hold on a second I looked at the clock and realized that a) I still had no blog posted and b) I should have been peeling out of the driveway five minutes ago. I kept calling her name but she was still not back on the phone, so lacking other options I hung up.
So there I am running out the door to a job that was killing me with no blog posted and a blog buddy who I knew was going to be pissed (with good reason), and as I got in my car I dropped my bagel cream cheese side down on the driveway with a solid splat.
What the hell do you suppose all this means??
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
For some reason I have food on the brain lately. (I'd like to say this is unusual, but it isn't). There's a lot of food related stuff going on - from Surfer Dude planning his next Top Chef competition to me finally getting around to organizing clipped recipes. We've also reached an impasse around here in terms of meal planning, as I've finally hit critical mass with the whole process.
As I was sorting through my clippings I found one from an old column the LA Times used to run called (I think) Desperation Dinners. The rules were that you had to make a meal in (again, I think) thirty minutes from door to table and you were allowed one quick stop on your way home to shop. Other than those two things you were on your own. Sky's the limit.
I've covered this once in the Thursday Three, but I'm going back to it now. Why? Because who couldn't use a good thirty minute meal that makes everyone happy? And who doesn't benefit from other people's ideas? And because I need help. Badly.
I'll start. And I'll even do something different from the T3 post. My stop at the store would be for fresh shrimp and lemons. As soon as I get home I'll put water on to boil for pasta. In the meantime I'll saute the shrimp in olive oil, garlic and a little butter, adding broth and lemon juice when the shrimp is done. Add Italian seasonings to taste and simmer. Toss in a slug of white wine if you want. Or just drink a glass while you cook. When the pasta is almost done I'll add broccoli florets to the water to cook tender crisp. Drain the pasta and broccoli and toss it with the sauce. Pass fresh parmesan or romano cheese. Add some bread and a salad. Fini. My entire family is content. And quiet.
Okay, people, don't let me down. Tell us all about your desperation dinners, those miraculous saves that you pull out of your hat at the end of a killer day. I want your input. Seriously. It's not just my dinner that's desperate.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I just finished my recertification in ACLS, Advanced Cardiac Life Support. This is basically emergency cardiovascular care - to be used in worst case scenarios only.
The basic set-up is this: You follow your ABCs (airway, breathing and circulation), fixing problems as you go (if you can) and attempting to keep blood flowing while someone else is drawing up meds and starting IVs and getting the defibrilator charged up.
This is the format -
If you encounter someone down you shake them to see if they're alert...
"Annie, Annie, can you hear me?"
...then you holler for someone to call for help
and then you start your process...
A) Airway. Make sure it's open. If not get it open somehow. Position them to maximize airflow.
B) Breathing. Extend neck if necessary.Give rescue breaths before starting CPR.
C) Circulation. Check for a pulse. Chest compressions, 100 a minute, giving two rescue breaths after each 30 compressions.
Short, sweet and to the point. But as anyone who has had anything to do with the American healthcare system lately can attest, the HMOs have screwed everything up. Not just for the patients, but also for the doctors and the nurses and the social workers and the mental health screeners and so on and so on. It all comes down to the almighty dollar, and if the care itself falls through the cracks so be it. For the most part, people in medicine don't think much of HMOs.
So it should come as no surprise that some disgruntled medical type (not me this time) came up with the HMO version of ACLS...
Advanced Cash Liability Survey
A. 1) Attorney
B. 1) Bank Account
C. 1) Cash on Hand
2) Checking Account
3) Credit Cards
4) Court Date
If an unconscious patient is encountered, follow the sequence below:
1) Shake patient and ask: "Annie, Annie, are you insured?"
2) If no response, position patient to open pockets. (Listen for loose change while positioning patient)
3) Extend neck. Open mouth and look for gold fillings. ( If time allows, check airway.)
4) Palpate neck for gold chains and necklaces. Note: Carotid pulse may be an incidental finding.
5) Palpate pocket for wallet. (Tell bystanders you are checking for femoral pulse.)
6) If insured, call for help immediately.
7) If uninsured consult your policy manual.
8) Traditional CPR is optional at this point.
9) If no response to CPR, proceed to ACLS
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I tried to take the kids out for dinner tonight, but ran into roadblocks right off the bat. My first mistake was asking them what they wanted to eat. I told them to each give me their top two choices of what they thought sounded good and one thing that they really didn't feel like eating.
Sasquatch - wanted delivered pizza or chinese, didn't want pizza from our local all you can eat pizza buffet.
Gumby - wanted delivered pizza or submarine sandwiches, didn't want chinese.
Surfer Dude - wanted chinese or pizza from the buffet, didn't want delivered pizza.
Well, that simplified things.
It's like this every time we go out to eat or order in. If two of them want something the other one doesn't. It is absolutely impossible to get all three of them to agree on anything. And it's not like they're always trying to be obnoxious about it. Sometimes I have them write down their choices secretly and throw them into a box or something to draw out of, and they still do the 2:1 split. It's like it's instinctive.
We've said before that we're going to stop even asking them, because all it does is make us crazy. Yet I keep on doing it. I was trying to be nice tonight because they've done a lot of things this week that have made my life a lot easier and I wanted to reward their really sweet behavior. By the time we were twenty minutes into this discussion I was ready to throw four packs of Top Ramen in a pan and call it a meal.
But I didn't. In a moment of maternally induced insanity I told them to each pick the one thing they wanted most that I could pick up and bring home for them to eat. Sasquatch chose mexican. Gumby picked a sandwich. Surfer Dude wanted chinese. Three different restaurants to go to. I told them (pretty nicely, considering) that this is why we eat at home as much as we do and that while I wasn't exactly mad at them for this whole thing I wasn't really happy about it either. Then I started making phone calls.
All in all, it could have been worse. Because I ordered two things ahead of time and plotted my course wisely, I was home in thirty six minutes with food from three different places. Dinner is served.
And as I listened to the thank yous and the ripping sound of foil I promised myself...
Friday, August 10, 2007
To say that I've been technologically challenged the last few days sums it up pretty well. The key word here is "challenged", because, up to this point anyway, I've come out on top. Eventually. The computer hasn't actually crashed, it's just being very temperamental. The Mac, our backup computer, has developed some strange personality disorder, and without its meds pretty much does what it wants to do . What it wants to do bears no resemblance to what I need it to do. Last night one of my best friends emailed to tell me my blog was down. Luckily it was back up fast. Then the wireless connect wasn't plugged in all the way and we couldn't get online. The dishwasher is making odd noises and all the phones in the house have this funky static thing going on. It's enough to make me consider an Amish lifestyle. Briefly. Thank god my kids are techno nerds.
This all reminds me of the year the Film Geek went away to teach and I stayed in LA with the kids. In the time he was gone virtually every piece of electronics we owned went down the crapper. It started with the computer and moved through kitchen appliances and VCRs. Next came my car. Then came the television set. There was something else big but I've blocked it. Absolutely on purpose. (There were other things too, like backed up plumbing and meningitis, but for now I'll stick to techno stuff).
The low point was the night I was woken up by an ungodly screech in my kitchen. The closer I got the louder it became. It seemed to be coming from the fridge, but I couldn't figure out why. Then it started flapping, so help me. I considered a poltergeist with an off sense of humor, but we lived in a 1960's ranch, and who ever heard of a ghost in a ranch? (Now that we live in an 1880's Victorian I've decided that our family is just not the ghost type, as the decibel level in my house can give commercial aircraft a run for it's money. Even poltergeists need to be able to hear themselves think occasionally).
Barring any other options I unplugged the fridge and the noise stopped instantly. I hazarded a hope that the damned thing wasn't going to explode on me and went back to bed. The next day when the repair guy got there he moved the fridge out from the wall and within about three seconds pulled out a piece of paper that had slid off the top and gotten half sucked into a fan or something. Problem solved. I can't recall exactly how much that little adventure cost me, but I do remember thinking that I could feel like a fool for free.
The funny thing is that even if my husband were home he wouldn't have been able to fix a quarter of these things. We'd still have had to have someone else come out and do it for us. For a price, of course. It's just that it's good to have moral support when the TV is on the fritz and three little Power Ranger hungry rugrats are in withdrawal and attacking their stuffed Barneys in a rage. It would have been nice to not creep into a dark, screaming kitchen alone. It would have been nice to have someone else who didn't see the damned paper either.
I'll manage just fine. As long as the computer works.
I think I'll go light some incense. Just to hedge my bets.