Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The One Where I Discuss My Irrational Fear of Slugs

There aren’t many things that truly horrify me. I can watch disgusting films where people are disemboweled, I have gotten over the grossness of bodily functions after the first time I was peed on, barfed on, and I still have to change diapers on a daily basis. Sometimes a child will hand me food that has been half chewed because he or she doesn’t like it. If there is nowhere else to put this wad of pickle, or candy, or sandwich, sometimes I just eat it. The only thing in the world that creeps me out—I mean really makes my skin crawl—are slugs. Yes, I live in the Pacific Northwest. This isn’t exactly the optimal location for a person with an irrational fear of slimy gastropods.

When I was a kid we used to go for walks on the nature trail near my house and every time I saw a giant spotted yellow banana slug I would scream like someone had just been murdered right in front of me. I couldn’t jump over it, walk around it. I would stand petrified until my mother would talk me down and I psyched myself out to scoot around the enormous blob.
Last year was by far the worst year ever for my slug aversion. The past summer slugs were out every night around 10pm. This was the witching hour for slugs. While I was still sitting outside in my back yard enjoying a late night margarita or can of PBR, you could see them inching out from under the back porch, climbing up over the curb of the cement patio. The worst nights were those when the slugs would find their way up the middle of the back door and stick there like gooey suction cups. It was too much. My skin is crawling just thinking of it. I would make my husband go out and remove all slugs before I could make my way outside.

I hate them so much and I don’t know why. The idea of touching a slug brings me to near fainting.

There was a morning last fall when I was making pancakes in my kitchen and I stepped on something just a little too squishy, and that was it. My two little kids watched as I screamed so loud and so high pitched, I scared the pajamas off of them and they both started crying. I ran to my bedroom, woke up my husband, and forced him to get the itty bitty slug out of the house. It was the worst thing that has ever happened.

I could not figure out how a slug could infiltrate the walls of my crappy rental house, until one evening I saw one crawl under the gap between the front door and the carpet (I mentioned my house was close to being a cardboard diorama of a house?) I sat in my chair and watched, petrified, without my husband around to save me, as the slug inched his way in. There was no way I was going to do anything about it. I couldn’t. Miraculously, the slug inched his way back out again. He must have sense my high pitched, supersonic scream about to burst forth and high tailed it out. We have since installed the weather stripping the door needed, not to keep the house from the hurricane strength drafts we endured for four years, but because there were slugs. I can’t have that.

Last Saturday was one of the most beautiful days we have had all spring. My daughter’s friends were gathering out in the yard for her birthday party, I was in the kitchen making small talk with moms. I looked up at the seam of the back door and noticed an odd splotch. It was right at eye level, nearly fossilized, and slug shaped with a line of dried yellow drip that ran down to I don’t know how far because now that I know what it is I will never be able to look at it again. I can’t figure out how a slug could crawl into the door jamb, have the door close, and not ever fall out. I can’t believe I just wrote a whole page about slugs. It was not at all cathartic, and I have no idea who is going to scrape off the remains stuck in the door frame.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chihuly's Eye Patch and "Billie's Jeans"

I considered very carefully this evening whether to sit here and watch last Friday’s episode of Friday Night Lights, put in a borrowed copy of The King’s Speech, play Bejeweled, or get back to the blog that is my last ticket to getting my MFA. You can see my choice was difficult.

I’m still recovering from possibly the busiest week of my life. First, I finished my master’s thesis, a project that took three years and is a whole book-length manuscript, albeit a short book, but a book nonetheless. If this manuscript were ever to be published it would undoubtedly reside in the “Essays” section of the bookstore—the one shelf below literary theory, next to Westerns, and, as I noted last time I looked, across from books on architecture.

The second noteworthy happening: Thing One turned five. She had a birthday party with all the little girls from her preschool class. I invited them all in hopes that, as it was the last day of Spring Break, at least a couple would be in town. As it was, all girls came and enjoyed a nice afternoon at the beauty spa. Remember, Fancy Nancy? Only two of the six girls opted for the smashed banana facial, but the foot soak full of marbles was very popular. I never realized as a child all the intricate planning that went into these little kids rites of passage. I thought each activity would take at least, 20 minutes. I had planned nothing else. After a whole 20 minutes total the spa day was over and I was left wondering what to do with six 5-year-olds. The impromptu dance party went over well, although I had to tell my daughter that we could only listen to one of her five favorite songs (you may recall from a previous post that I have questionable taste in music and wouldn’t want to warp anyone else’s kids). One precocious little spitfire suggested we listen to” Thriller”, and “Billie’s Jeans”. How could I argue?

And that was Saturday, but Saturday day and Sunday only came and went after I sold my soul to the Devil for the weekend off of work. I ended up working Thursday and Friday, serving sandwiches and Pinot Gris to the lovely ladies and gentlemen of Mercer Island. Bless them all for their wonderful tips. It does take some energy, though.
What could I be forgetting? Oh, yes. The Third Annual Bad Poetry Night, whereby each person presents original “bad” poems in different categories. I wrote a rather angry haiku about my disdain for Dale Chihuly’s eye patch--and artwork.

And Sunday, Easter, church, candy, baskets, more birthday presents. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I picked all the plastic Easter grass off my carpet. Little orange and pink threads stuck to my feet, in my shower, in my bed. I looked under the couch to find not only this year’s, but some of last year’s Easter grass as well. Who invented that stuff? And why do I continue to buy it every year? I distinctly remember last year both children flinging the grass into the air and racing around the house with handfuls, evenly distributing grass. I remembered this event—and still bought more this year. I am a masochist. Or a traditionalist. Who knows the difference these days.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Can I Learn About Myself from Horror Movies?

(This title has very little to do with what I wrote, as per usual).

If any of you recall my earlier posting about Naptime Horrorfest, you will know that I am a sucker for the free FearNet On Demand movies. It is the only thing that makes my cable bill slightly tolerable, that and Bubble Guppies, Dora, Little Einsteins—whatever my kids decide they want to watch On Demand that day so that I can do a dish, or two, or not. Well, horror movies are not reserved for naptime alone, I will watch one whenever there is nothing better on TV and I am too tired to do anything else. So, that’s about 80% of my free time, which is about .5% of my actual awake time.
Last night around 1:45am I was just finishing up the Australian “horror” movie, Lake Mungo. I proceeded to post on Facebook earlier in the evening about my love for Australian horror films, which is true, they make some really good movies. I posted this about five minutes into my journey to Lake Mungo. The film really looked promising, but I was a bit hasty in my posting.
The movie is a mockumentary directed by Joel Anderson, filmed with really rough shots of scenery and stationary interview shots. This part of the film was successful; I was convinced after an hour and a half that what they were talking about could have really happened, because, like real life documentaries, nothing scary happened. Shall I give you a synopsis? Ok, well, I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, but a girl dies in a lake during the first scene. The rest of the movie is about her ghost showing up in photographs. And, that is the movie. I totally ruined it for you. I had hoped there would be aliens so that I could at least hate the film in the end (although I am just nerdy enough to love sci-fi now and again). But there wasn’t any aliens. At the end of the movie I felt a little lost, and also like I had lost about an hour and a half of my life.
The people who made The Ring picked up this film after it premiered in the After Dark Horrorfest in 2008 and the new version is currently in development. I can’t wait to see what they do to make the film more exciting. In its current form it was artful, if not a little sad. I read that they scrapped the mockumentary style and now I imagine it will be one of the scariest movies ever, if not a completely different story altogether.
But my point isn’t so much about this movie as it was about my next project. I have to start writing something after I finish my master’s program. My husband suggested I write about horror movies because I have seen everything, and whatever is leftover I will watch and have an opinion about. This book could be good. It could be horror movies sorted out autobiographically and fit into my memoir. Or it could be nothing more than a bunch of pages of garbage where I give my thoughts on indie movies like The Hamiltons, which was so crappy and so awesome all at the same time. But I am not an expert, I am just an enthusiast. I am not kidding about suggestions for movies, books about these movies, and otherwise horror oriented research materials. I would love to interview people, too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's Kind of Like Musical Tourette's Syndrome

Every couple of months I find some new song I want to listen to in my car. What this means is I have to make a new mix CD for my car, and whatever I have thrown together will become the anthem for my children until I cut them off. I must be very careful what kinds of songs I choose. . .
I have always been somewhat of a connoisseur of music, not exactly an expert or visionary, but I like what I like and will go out of my way to like new and different stuff that no one has ever heard of. It used to be cooler when I actually went to music stores and stood there, listening to albums, holding them in my hands, studying the cover art. Now I just go to iTunes and they tell me what I will like, so I don’t have to shop around. This method is not as fun, but I will admit, it is efficient.
In my music library I have a chronology of songs that have been my favorites for years, and all the new songs that I will probably like for a couple of weeks before I forget why I bought them. Any number of these old and new songs can make it onto the car CD. My husband, who finds my taste in music to be questionable if not moderately unconscionable, has reserved the right to turn the song at any given point. I have developed a method by which we bleep out the swear words I always seem to forget about. Sometimes this involves yelling out a different word at the same time the artist, sometimes it is a scream, an animal sound, could be anything, this act is very much like musical Tourette’s syndrome. Sometimes I just turn the sound all the way down for one second. It wasn’t always so important, for about 3 years the little kid in the back seat didn’t know what the word was. For all intents and purposes the kids still don’t know, but now Thing One is old enough to ask, and Thing Two will undoubtedly repeat expletive at the most inappropriate times.
I can’t stop making these CDs. It is one of the quirks of my generation that we refuse to grow up. We start our own companies with the base model that no one will ever have to wear a suit. We manufacture and purchase onesies for our babies that mimic our favorite band t-shirts: The Ramones, Bob Marley, Nirvana. It will always be appropriate to wear Converse All-Stars with formal wear. We will never give in and listen to that crappy kids’ music they try to sell on TV. Never! But, I can see where there may be a problem when my kid is sitting in the back seat of the car bopping her head along to David Guetta and Akon singing Sexy Bitch.
One answer to the generational music dilemma was solved by the company that makes Rock-a-Bye Baby, lullaby music by your favorite bands. I’ll bet you never thought Tool could be as soothing as when they are played on the vibraphone. Now, I get to listen to Opiate, my favorite Tool song, and sing the words in my head while my kids fall asleep in the back. For about 3 months the baby version of Clocks by Coldplay was on constant repeat in my car, which is fortunately better than the original. The next song that got unlimited play was the baby version of In Bloom by Nirvana. You can’t help but sing along when you know the lyrics. Both my husband and I would sing the lyrics along with the little music box version so much that Thing One actually learned the words having never heard the original. To her, that version is the original.
I suppose the point of all this is that I want my kids to like what I like. No matter what happens, they will like at least 1 out of 10 options, and that’s a start. Tonight driving home we listened to Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes on repeat, as per request from the backseat. I’ll take that as proof that my plan is working.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Mother Told Me Never To Give Rides To Strangers

It is the home stretch for my master’s thesis, which is why I haven't posted anything for a week. I have become a regular at the Kinko’s in my neighborhood because the printer on my desk would explode if I forced it to regurgitate the same 150 pages every other day. I am hopeless at math, especially calculating percentages and averages, which means I am probably spending twice as much money at Kinko’s. I can’t be sure. I’m half convinced they line those tiny ink cartridges with diamonds for as much as they cost.  
The other reason I am obsessed with copying is that the helpful people at Kinko’s will take all 150 pages that I copied and put a spiral binding on it. I have never written a book before, watching it come together like a real life, turn the pages, kind of entity is almost too much. I make them put the binding on the book every single time.
Yesterday I printed out what I hope to be the last copy before I send my thesis off to the head of my master’s program, and all other higher powers in the Humanities department. I didn’t realize Kinko’s closed at 6pm on Sunday. I didn’t realize it was Sunday. I should have, considering I had been serving bloody mary’s and mimosa’s all morning. At 5:59pm the last 50 pages were spitting out of the copy machine, I went up to the guy at the counter and pleaded with him to put the binding on my book, even though I knew he was allowed to kick me out and lock the doors. He shrugged, said that it would probably be ok, and I was so happy again.
There is a lot of quiet time while you are the only person at Kinko’s. I stood at the counter while he punched the tiny set of holes in the side, section by section. I looked at their assortment of candies and chips, studied their pen selection, considered purchasing a bubble insulated manila envelope. And then the guy is done punching the holes, he comes over to the counter and makes small talk while he winds the spiral plastic through each hole. He tells me it’s no big deal I’m making him stay late because he’s taking a different bus, it doesn’t come until later. I ask him where he’s going. He says Ballard. Oh, I am going to Ballard. . . And then I something very odd comes out of my mouth. . . Does he want a ride?
I think the fumes of the printer ink must have been getting too me. And he almost said no, and I was almost ok with that. But, I waited for him to close the shop, and as soon as he got in my car he said: My mother told me never to take rides from strangers. And I answered: My mother told me never to give rides to strangers. We agreed never to tell our mothers.
The ride was uneventful, if not even a little pleasant. The conversation wasn't awkward. He was just a nice guy who needed a ride. Every once in a while it feels kind of good to do a favor for a stranger, just like he kept the store open a few extra minutes for me. I’m not saying that I’ll ever do it again. In fact, don’t ask me for a ride, because that may have filled my generosity quota for a long time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This One Is About Star--The Psychic.

Because I am tired, here is something from my notebook:
I once overheard Star telling someone not to get on the plane. Star was the psychic who came in to give readings at the restaurant every Monday night. Of course Star wasn’t her real name. It’s the first name that comes up in the Psychic’s handbook, I am certain. She told me once that she changed her name because she was hiding from one of her husbands—but it wasn’t George, because George was dead and sometimes came to visit us in the women’s restroom.
Star was maybe 5 feet tall, probably less. Her hair was whitish-blonde, she wore plain looking frames on her round face. I have no idea how old she was, other than she looked old to me when I was twenty-one. Her body matched her face, round like two round parts of a snow person stacked on top of one another. When she walked it was almost a waddle, her weight shifted heavily from side to side, an attribute adding to her seeming “oldness.” The real kicker was her voice. It was as if she had been given helium as a baby and her vocal chords never recovered. She looked and sounded exactly like the psychic from the Poltergeist movies. So much so that people would frequently comment on it. Each time she would look away and pretend she had no idea what they were talking about. Baloney. She knew it.
Looking back a little I have a memory of Star taking me into the women’s restroom on some crazy Mardi Gras when she wasn’t doing readings in her special corner. She pulled out her cards and placed them on the hand painted tiles around the sink. It seemed to me that the cards were mostly for effect, but I am a huge sucker for that kind of stuff, so I played along. She told me very little. What I do remember wasn’t even about me. Star gave me a few tips about my boyfriend. She said, “J Rob is going to get married and have kids someday, but I don’t know if it’s with you. He’ll also own his own house someday . . . but I don’t know if it will be with you.” Comforting, really. My boyfiriend and I had been dating for maybe six months at the time. I didn’t put much stock in my psychic.
Monday night readings were free for anyone who bought dinner. All the weirdos came in on Mondays. The believers—Star’s “regulars.” They would order nothing more than a side salad, or a shrimp remoulade appetizer and get kind of perturbed when it wasn’t filling the dinner requirement. We had to keep our eye on these regulars. Star would put people on her list and waddle around the restaurant taking each one back to her little corner between the door and the wall. I once heard her tell a woman, “He has a shotgun. You need to get out of there.” This, while my arms were loaded with plates to take back to the kitchen. Sometimes she would come out from her readings and tell us about a person who was, as she described them, a “really bad person,” and when she said bad it felt like murderous.
One day before a shift I was sweeping the back patio. Star came outside to eat her nightly ration of chicken and sausage gumbo. I don’t know why or how the subject came up, but she told me one of her husbands had slashed her open and buried her alive. She said that she had been dug up and rescued by a dog. It was the biggest load of horse pocky I had ever heard in my entire life, but I gave her credit for making up a good story, and nodded, playing along. Then, she lifted up her shirt to show a pale purple scar running diagonally up the length of her body. Not a small surgical scar, it extended from below and went up past where she held her shirt. What does a person say to that?
Star really was a crazy, no denying. Half of the things she said weren’t true, the other half made no sense at all. But, that day that she pulled me into the bathroom for the reading—well, my boyfriend is now my husband and we have two kids. I’m crossing my fingers that whole house owning thing will work out.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Instead of the ER, I Bought Some Barbie Band Aids

We’ve never had a real emergency around here. There was the one time I took Thing One to the ER to make sure she didn’t have appendicitis. One x-ray, one ultrasound, one straw in the arm (which is what the nurse told her the IV was), and one thousand dollars later, we left Children’s Hospital knowing nothing more than she didn’t have appendicitis.
This afternoon the sun was shining, the birds were chirping little birdie warbles, my kids were playing chase on the way in the door to preschool. Everyone was happy—and then there were tears. Thing One smashed her finger in the heavy, industrial, community center door. She got it good, it swelled up purple, bled a little, and I am pretty sure she has never been in that much pain in her entire life. Meanwhile, I drop Thing Two in the preschool classroom; he steals a toy giraffe and runs back out the door. I had one heavy five-year-old on my hip sobbing, the two-year-old laughing at me as he runs out the door. I decided we would all just go back home.
And that is the point my maternal instincts kick in and I question everything I should do. Should I take her to the hospital? She is practically screaming in agony. What if her tiny fingertip is shattered? Bones poking out, bleeding under the fingernail. And then I think about what doctors normally do for a person with a broken finger—nothing. Maybe a splint, but mostly because the patient needs to have something physical attached to make him or her feel like a treatment is “working.” I remind myself that they don’t prescribe pain killers to kids. If I were to take her to the emergency room they would tell me to give her Tylenol, give her a Band Aid, and bill us for $500. 
So I didn’t take her anywhere. I gave her the Tylenol, told her to hold her hand up in the air (only after she refused the ice), and bought her some Barbie Band Aids. Two hours and a little nap later she was good as new. Her middle finger on her right hand is still enormous and purple, and every time she shows me her Barbie Band Aid she smiles at me while she flips me off.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Two Speeding Tickets and a Dead Raccoon

It is Friday. As good a day as any to get a speeding ticket.
It’s ok, I was going way over the speed limit along with every other car on the freeway, my car just happened to be in the HOV lane, closest to the cop. He was really nice, and I didn’t cry or try to negotiate with the man. I was speeding. He was doing his job. The whole experience brought to mind all the other times in my life I had been pulled over. . .
Today was speeding ticket number five, I think. The first ticket I got in the very same spot on I-5, passing Federal Way. It was 1999, I was listening to a Metallica song. I tried to explain this to the cop as an obvious reason why I was going twenty miles over the speed limit. She didn’t care.
The next ticket was just over the county line into Spokane. I was on my way to visit my parents in Montana. I thought the speed limit was 75 because it is later on different parts of I-90. The cop asked me if I knew how fast I was going, I said “Uh, 80.” Like it was no big deal. He thought it was a big deal.
The next two tickets were in the same day. Also on my way to Montana. One coming over Snoqualimie Pass. That was just stupid. Then, later that day I got a speeding ticket in Montana, the state infamous for not having a speed limit. The Montana cop also asked how I would like to take care of it. I handed him twenty bucks and the ticket never went on my record. That wasn’t my best driving day. I also hit a raccoon. I can still see him in my head, stopped dead ahead—and I swear he had his hands in the air pleading with me not to run over him.
But those last four tickets were all between my freshman and junior years of college (sorry mom). I drove really responsibly after that for eight years. I promise. But I did find it odd that this afternoon, my two kids in the back seat didn’t even question why that policeman was giving mommy a little piece of paper. Don’t worry about  it, kids. We’ll never have any money to insure you, or buy you a car.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Slicing Vegetables in the Bluegrass Family Band

A couple of years ago I was planning to get my husband a banjo for Christmas. The idea of being surrounded by an eclectic group of instruments seemed like an appealing hobby, albeit rather expensive. We already had a nice pile of instruments lying around because when I started playing classical guitar in college my dad began giving me stringed instruments as gifts. I have a blue generic brand electric guitar, a twelve string,  an awesome Takamine steel string with pickups, one Alvarez classical guitar that is nice, one old classical that belonged to my dad in the 60s, and a mountain dulcimer that I have never had a clue how to play, but looks kind of exciting and mysterious.
Shortly before that Christmas my in-laws over in Spokane shot me a text message asking if Jeff had a Mandolin. What luck! My husband could meet his obscure instrument quota, and I wouldn’t have to buy a banjo I had no money for since Trading Musician broke the news that my twelve string guitar had “a bubble” rendering it worthless.  
A mandolin! That was even cooler than I expected. I had no idea that Jeff’s family shared his interest in music. In fact, I was almost positive that they didn’t . . .  
Have you ever been in a room and anticipated one thing, then let out an audible I-get-it-now noise when you see what is really there? You try your best to hide it, but it is kind of a cross between a shocked inhale, and a quick “Oh my god,” under your breath, so no one can see that you made a mistake. That was Christmas morning, when, to my utter surprise, my husband opens his brand new mandolin—the kind that slices vegetables. The kind of mandolin that would be most appropriate for my husband, the cook, the guy who has worked in kitchens and restaurants for a long time. The kind of mandolin that never, ever once crossed my mind.
I thought of this today as I pulled the mandolin out from its hiding spot under the microwave. It’s getting a little old now, missing the little piece that looks like a cowboy hat that stabs into the vegetable like a handle—so you don’t slice off parts of your strumming hand. I am still mourning the fact that we never got a banjo, or a mandolin. How will we ever start our family bluegrass band without them? I’m positive that Thing Two will be excellent at finger picking the banjo, considering how well he picks his nose. Thing One can construct her own stand up bass from a broom stick and a bucket, and then teach herself how to play it. I’ll stick with guitar. Husband can pick the songs and sing, then procure the hippie followers. We’ll set up in the back yard on top of the giant stump that used to be a poplar tree and go to town. I hope someone will do the windmill, preferably while wearing overalls.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Psychoacoustics: I Haven't Read Far Enough To Understand

Somehow, someway, I have managed to read almost an entire book in the past couple weeks. Spook, by Mary Roach. Not only does she write about casing out supernatural activity, but she is witty. She reminds me of myself, if I had the time and funds to go around proving/disproving supernatural forces at work. And, in case you had any doubts about me, I totally believe in the spirits, and I am completely convinced that no one will ever adequately prove their existence.
I don’t think anyone realizes how hard it is for me to finish reading a book. The bookshelves in my living room make me look fairly well read, if not moderately scholarly. And I have read . . . most of the books. Half of the books, at least. I have a handful of favorite books, but when I start to think of what they are, the same few that pop into my head. It’s true, Gone With the Wind is my favorite book. It took me almost three months to finish. For me that seems like a very long time.
I’m actually a pretty fast reader, but I am not a focused reader. It is incredibly hard for me to sit down, open a book, and just stare at it. That doesn’t sound so hard, but what about the perfect place? The right amount of pillows? My cup of tea?  A blanket? What about the sounds that are going on all around? What about the kitchen? Is it clean? Do I care if it is clean? I couldn’t possibly read while there is a pile of laundry in the room with me (not that I will fold it, I will just actively ignore it, which means watching reruns of Criminal Minds, or CSI in the middle of the afternoon). Are my kids thoroughly occupied? If not, I will have one jumping on my lap, and one strangling me from behind in my chair. I can’t read from this position, but I can play Bejeweled on my phone. And what else, what else, what else? That is how I feel about reading during the day.
There are a few solitary moments before bed. Reading in bed is the best. There is peace, quiet, warm blankets, pillows—and one page later I am asleep. It is very hard to finish a book by reading one page a day.
So, thank you very much, blogging time, for taking me away from the 10 minutes of focus I will have to finish “Chapter 10, Listening to Casper: A psychoacoustics expert sets up camp in England’s haunted spots.” It promises to be very enlightening, and turn out exactly as one would predict a psychoacoustic analysis to be  . . . I can only hope that it is as thrilling as the chapter about ectoplasm, and the mediums of the early 1920s (in which mediums stuff cheese cloth into any feasible, or unfeasible, bodily orifice to pull out during the key moment of a séance, proclaiming it was coming from the spirit world). I love this book way too much. I hope I finish it someday.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dropping F-Bombs in Front of Her Grandmas

You know that sound that Marge Simpson makes? Her trademark groaning noise; the grumble from deep within her soul that passively voices her frustration and discontent without actually having a psychotic break. I've recently learned this is a motherly sound. If you don’t know the sound I am talking about, you are welcome to come over to my house, I have just become aware of myself making this pitiful angry animal growl. Mine might be worse than the Marge Simpson noise, I'm not sure. But, I promise that it was always subconscious. In fact, the only reason I noticed it as a habit was because my daughter, in her 5 year old frustrations, now makes this noise as if it were normal.  I asked my husband the other day if he noticed the groan. He looked at me and said, “Yeah, you do groan a lot.” So now, every time I hear the rumble coming out of me I have check myself--if only I could stop being provoked.  The situation could be worse. Thing One could be dropping F-bombs in front of her grandmas, but I still find the groaning sound so annoying. And even more troubling that she picked up the habit from me.

I suppose this is an appropriate segue into talking about how we all become our mothers eventually, like it or not. I’m really lucky. My mom is a really sweet, wonderful, kind human being who never swears and is a great listener. I’ll be the last to know if these traits ever show up in me, but what I have seen lately is how we both talk to my kids. There have been many occasions when my mom, my two kids, and me are sitting at the dinner table. One kid will wander off, pick up food off the floor, pick his nose—and my mom and I will give the same reprimand at the same time. “No, no! Don’t give your dinner to the dogs!” or “Icky, icky, yuck, don’t eat that it’s dirty.” It’s like parenting in stereo. I’m pretty lucky that when I leave my kids with their grandma I know things will be consistent, if not a slightly better version.
I wonder if it is fair for me to consciously change my actions in order to determine how my kids will be as adults (as if that were possible). What if I start to do strange things, like barking every time I see a dog; or what if I start cutting all sandwiches into thirds just so they will be totally weird when they start taking lunch to school?
What if I changed the way I laugh? That would mess with everyone.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It Totally Doesn't Rain that Much in Seattle, Except for Today

The Killing on AMC premiered last night. I didn’t watch it. I went to bed early because I was beat from waiting tables at brunch, going to the park, and generally being needed by everyone all weekend. My husband, however, came to bed around 1 am telling me about the most amazing show he had just watched. He started in the middle and was so intrigued he had to stay up for the encore so he could see the beginning. I sort of heard everything he said, and I may have replied something incoherent, as I tend to do when we see each other between 11 and 2 in the morning.
It isn’t often that my husband gets that excited about a show before I have seen it. Fortunately, my cable provides this show to me On Demand the next day, so instead of watching horror this afternoon I was able to catch up on this gruesome, honest, and incredibly dramatic crime show—one of my favorite things in the world aside from cheese, beer, and new pens.  As it turns out, this show takes place right here, in my very own city of Seattle. How heartwarming to see the dreary, grey, fly by footage of the Space Needle. But there are a few things a person has to notice about a show specifically set in their home town.
The first, the constant torrential downpour they show in almost every scene. I admire their spirit, trying to make the city live up to its stereotype, but it really isn’t like that here . . . (except for today—and most of last week, but this is irrelevant). The fact is, no one in this city carries an umbrella. I actually wore my flip flops out in the rain today, and I don’t own a raincoat, although this year I did purchase some trendy rubber boots, but I have mostly worn them on days without puddles. On television it really does rain in Seattle the way everyone thinks it does (My friend points out to me that in this scene there has to be someone with a hose pointed directly at a window). I suppose this publicity is good for our city, because if they were to show everyone how amazing the trees and the water is when the sun comes out, everyone in the world would want to live here.
The second interesting thing is the way that they sometimes pronounce the names of our outlying cities. On this show one kid pronounced Tukwila,” Tuk-wee-la.”  Which is wrong, in case you were thinking in your head “What’s wrong with that?” Plus, this kid was supposed to be from Mercer Island, and I am fairly certain no kid from Mercer Island is going to hang out at a bar in Tukwila. Especially not The Blue Moon, because that is in the University District. I will be keeping tabs on the show in its forthcoming episodes for any of these discrepancies, mostly because it makes me laugh when people on television pronounce Puyallup, “Poo-yall-up.”
I’m sure there are other things that I found egregious perpetuations of Seattle stereotypes, but overall the show was pretty spectacularly spot on. They had some beautiful scenes of Puget Sound, Shilshole Marina, Discovery Park (if it wasn’t discovery park I was fooled), and they did an excellent job portraying punk kids hanging out on the streets of Capitol Hill. I like this show, and just like the television promotions said, “You will be angry at the end of every episode.” I assume they mean because you don’t want it to end.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

How I Spent All My Grocery Money at the Movie Theater

I have a five-year-old who has been bombarded by commercials for a certain holiday film. Last night before bed I asked her what she wanted to do with her day off from school, and she said, “Go see Hop!” I supposed I could spare a Friday afternoon to see a movie with my daughter about the Easter Bunny who poops jelly beans. Why not?
Aside from the fact that Hollywood is generally not making great movies anymore, I postulated several theories about why I dislike the theater these days. But first, there are the obvious reasons people don’t frequent the theaters like they used to: home theaters are better, more comfortable, you can eat and drink anything, you can talk during films (much to the dismay of your friends and family), and if you happen to be some sort of technology enthusiast, you may even have a 3-D TV. Hooray for you! These things are all the bonus points for watching movies at home.
I used to go see movies by myself all the time. It was my favorite thing to do on my days off (back when I had those). I would get in my car and drive to any movie theater, walk in, and see whatever was playing closest to the time that I got there. Like I said in my previous post, I will pretty much watch anything, and watching horrible movies by myself kept me from feeling somehow responsible for the awfulness of the movie to whoever I might be with. On these solitary excursions I didn’t really frequent the snack bar because I think popcorn, as a food, is a waste of my time, and the only carbonated beverages I like are beer and bubbly. After my experience this afternoon I realize that I saved myself at least a thousand dollars.
I have never been more proud as a mother than today when my daughter chose, out of all the candy in the concession stand, fruit snacks and a small bottle of water—and a mini pepperoni pizza, but whatever. All that with a bag of popcorn cost me $26. For that kind of money I could have bought myself some amazing small plates at some posh Seattle Gastropub. Or I could have bought a nice bottle of bubbles. Or four happy meals at McDonalds. It’s all about perspective. Needless to say, I shouldn’t have let the girl talk me into the bigger bag of popcorn for a dollar.
Today I purchased my tickets online, Fandango style. We spent extra for the RPX show. There went another $25 cha-ching in my ear. I had no idea what that meant. Did that mean 3-D? Was there something magical that happened in this “Premium” theater? No. The seat was so big that my daughter couldn’t get the folded seat to stay down. She either sat with her body folded in half, legs up in the air, or she sat on the top of the seat still folded up. More than once I rescued her from falling off or falling in. And, it turns out, the premium part of the show is that the seats occasionally vibrate. That was an exciting addition to this confusing Christmas-like version of the Easter Bunny story. (Yes, he flies away in an egg shaped sleigh pulled by 50 tiny chickens, from Easter Island where tiny chicken minions work to make all the candy for Easter morning. Except the jelly beans, which apparently are Easter bunny excrement).
The volume in the theater was turned up so loud I swear I felt blood trickling out of my ear. During the previews I thought perhaps one of the high school kids, working whatever kind of buttons they push up there in the box, had made a mistake. I considered leaving the theater, not just for my kid or all the others who were crouched in their seats holding their ears, for my own sake. I’m getting too old for rock concert decibels when I am not actually at a rock concert. I have to conserve the little hearing I have left. But, just like any show, it’s so loud that you get used to it after a little while. But that doesn’t make it awesome.
So I guess the point here is that I love my kid, I wanted her to have a great time at the movies like I did when I was a kid. We actually went to the same movie theater that I saw The Little Mermaid in when I was 8 (not on purpose, I have just lived in this city forever). I’m not really sure what she thought, but when we came home she asked, “Why did we see that movie in the theater?”