Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back To Quiet

Thanksgiving has always been a weird holiday for a few reasons: it basically involves a ceremonial feast with food, kind of bland, that you don’t (or rarely) eat at any other time. It’s based on an event that probably didn’t happen in the first place, sort of a whisper-down-the-lane evolution of a gathering between two groups of people who probably wanted to kill one another. Well, not probably. And now here we are centuries later. When you’re a kid, it’s hard to feel thankful for things because being thankful involves time (distance) and recognition (understanding), things that are not typically the strong points of anyone under the age of 11. But by the time you’re an adult, say 25, you’re supposed to understand gratitude, unless you’re like me and don’t really catch on to the whole idea until you’re in your 40s and just beginning to think about getting old and dying. Then feeling grateful is like that extra credit report that might make your grade a little higher, or make you live a little longer. Still you don’t want gratitude to start feeling like a chore, which is what it sometimes does when at Thanksgiving you’re asked to say what you are grateful for.

That’s why this year, when we were all seated around the table, I said we all know we are thankful for each other so let’s (cut the crap) and each say something about ourselves that no one else knows. What? Everyone screamed and/or laughed loudly and nervously. My brother Lightfield left the table. Some people thought I was kidding and the ones that didn’t hated me. I only meant to encourage things like “I have to drink chocolate milk with a spoon” or “Every morning when I wake up I have to say cockadoodledoo”, or even “I sneezed into the stuffing while I was making it”, nothing deep, nothing too revealing. But I couldn’t even make the suggestion; it was too horrifying. A few brave members gave it a go, Cam told how she pees in her pants a little when she does jumping jacks and Beau told a story about how he caught a hillside on fire when he was in some skateboard park by himself (see, that’s what I’m talking about!) but then it came back to quiet. Can you pass the salad? Mmm this is delicious.

I was thinking about this when I read yesterday about the Wikipedia leaks. I thought what are those idiots doing? What the hell? What do we need to know this stuff for? Who are these self-righteous wiki-holes and what is their purpose? And then I thought, wait, am I the same kind of idiot? I mean the information does not carry the same weight but am I being self righteous and inconsiderate trying to dig that up? I mulled this over and then decided no, I’m not a wiki-hole. There is a reason for diplomacy but not with your family. Maybe it will be less scary next year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seen and Heard: A Recent Inventory

Hollywood Brush with Greatness

Last week I was driving down Hollywood Blvd and I passed a double-decker bus. There was a crew of black-haired guys cheering and waving at the characters in the street: Marilyn, Spider Man, Darth; and a few people on the sidewalk were cheering back at them. I looked across the street at some guy with a camera hanging off the roof of the Jimmy Kimmel Building and he was surrounded by a few people chanting Chile, Chile, Chile. I realized the guys on the double-decker were the rescued miners. I waved, beeped my horn and continued on to school.

Metaphor For Life

If you blindfold a person and ask him to walk ½ mile, he can’t walk in a straight line but rather will walk in an overlapping series of circles. Try it.

Bubby’s Teeth

I don’t know how or why it happened but I have my step-Father’s false teeth in my drawer. Lately Harry has been playing with them along with his action figures and Bakugans. I can’t think of anything to say about that, except that in a strange way, this is very comforting to me.

Mr. Social

I read an article about some new facebook application that Mark Zuckerberg created because he believes that writing an email was too much of a “cognitive load” for people used to texting and instant messaging. The cognitive load theory has something to do with the idea that our working memory is limited (duh; and yes I looked that up on Widipedia) but the thing is, if we want our memory to improve shouldn’t we exercise it a bit by giving it something “heavy”. I hate that everything, even conversation, is becoming abbreviated. Maybe it’s less of a load for our brains but isn’t it also less of a connection? Maybe not, but I still think Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to make us be more like him, i.e. alone in his room, in front of a computer, wishing he had a friend.

Drugs and The Good Old Days

I took my Dad out for coffee recently and we were talking about the good old days when people took drugs and smoked out in the open. He said that on the famous album cover of Abbey Road, with the four guys walking across the street, that the cigarette in Paul's hand has been digitally erased. Weird. I've never taken hallucinogenic drugs, but I think if I blindfolded myself and tried to walk half a mile while listening to this beautiful song, I could recreate the experience.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My First Moviestar

I remember my grandmother wore a coat that looked exactly like this. It had deep pockets where she kept her peppermints, Salems, and tortoise shell hair combs. She'd wear it over a dress with nylons and clickity high heels or else over a wool turtleneck and some slacks and old brown wallabees. She wore red lipstick and Chanel perfume. She lived with my grandfather in a big farm house on a dirt road and later in the guest house on the same property. She knew almost everyone in the small town where they lived either because she had taught them in elementary school, went to church with them, or just chatted with them while waiting in line at the grocery. She drove an old Volvo with both hands on the steering wheel and she drove fast on the back roads so the car would hit the bumps and get a little air. We never wore seat belts then and sometimes our heads would hit the ceiling. She made us listen to NPR or classical music and we hated it and she'd pretend to cry because we weren't letting her enjoy it. She'd sing along with the opera so loud we'd cover our ears laughing. But she was fantastic and proud of herself. Her hair was thin, almost transparent, after it turned white, but it never mattered because her face was so beautiful. That's what my grandfather said. Sometimes out of no where, she'd look at me in the rear view mirror and say, I love you, Deird. Or she'd say: your mouth turns down like mine, you look like my sister Elizabeth. And I'd feel self conscious, embarrassed, and totally proud.

On the way home from errands she'd stop at Friendly's for an ice cream cone or at Dairy Queen if we went the back way. She'd ask for a taste of my rainbow sherbet and I'd ask for a taste of her butter pecan and then we'd both make faces like it was disgusting. Then we'd sit in the car and she would smoke and sometimes tell me about my Dad, her son, who I remembered seeing once between the ages of 3 and 15. He was an actor, a moviestar, who worked with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds and Robert Redford. She'd say "He misses you and wishes he could see you more", and I believed her. Once we were driving home and black smoke started pouring out of the front of the car. We had to pull over on the side of the road and put the hood up. Nana and I looked at the engine and the smoke; neither one of us had a clue. My cousins and brother got out of the car and started throwing things at each other and it got a little out of hand. She yelled and told them to sit in the car. We waited and Nana said how everyone's true character came out in times of trouble, and we all felt ashamed even though we were all under the age of 9 and barely knew what true character meant.

Finally some guy in a truck came by, and of course she knew him because she had taught him in the fifth grade. Hey Mrs Lewis, he said, and then they talked and had a look under the hood. Put ya gran-kids in the back of my truck, he said, I'll go get Don. We all climbed in and Nana asked if she could have the radio on while she waited. Couldn't hurt, the guy said. We watched her sitting in the front seat, holding a cigarette and listening to Beethoven, the collar of her coat pulled up like she was lounging at a French cafe waiting for the garcon to bring her a glass of red wine and a light.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Few Ways I Know I'm Getting Old (and possibly senile)

I assume my children appreciate the animal videos I email them as much as I do.

What’s wrong with you guys: the hugging lion, the dog that says RI RUV ROO, the hippo that lives in the house. How can you not think these are fantastic? I called Mo to ask if she watched Patches the horse yet, and she said “Um… no”. Like I’m the one who’s nuts.

I freak out when someone leaves the lights on.

Come on! It’s not even because of the bill or the environment, why are there lights on the ceiling, it’s agitating, this is what they do in torture chambers, if I knew how to take that goddam cover off, I'd smash those bulbs with a broom(these are all things I walk through the hall in my house saying to myself in an enraged monologue).

I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to assume all bad drivers are Asian.

(me, after a car cuts in front of me) Oh my god, of course she’s Asian.

(Mo, Dar and Harry) Mom!

I think I look (kind of) cute and sassy in shorts.

Yesterday, I was about to get out of the car to hand Darla a book she had forgotten and she said, Mom don’t get out of the car!

I can’t stay awake past 10.

I can’t find my glasses when they’re on my head.

I can’t remember your name.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I don't think I ever saw one of these in my entire school career and here are two from Dar in the past month!

Observing Dressage

The guy didn’t walk, he pranced. I’m not making a judgment here, I’m just telling it like it is. Like those horses, you know the ones who lift their legs high at the knee and set the foot down just so. I can’t remember what they’re called but they’re beauties. This guy though, well that’s not the first word that would come to mind. He looked like he cut his hair with a butter knife. I mean it was short, tidy in its own way, but it wasn’t even. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He missed one or two good-sized clumps in the back. Obviously, he didn’t own a mirror. And here he was prancing. Anyway, so he comes on in through the gate to the pool, a book in one hand, a towel draped across his arm. He already had his shirt off and from the looks of him the last time he was out in the sun he was wearing a short sleeve shirt. He was buttery, this short-haired prancer.

He found a lounge chair across the way. Still right in full view, he was. Not that I would have turned my head away. How could I? This was a show. He set his book down and then lay his towel across the lounge, snapping the ends of it like an Italian woman shaking crumbs from a tablecloth. He put his hands on his hips and raised his face to the sun and took in a few good deep breaths. Ah this is the life! Then he undid his shorts, let them drop to his ankles, kicked them in the air with a little showgirl move, caught them with one hand and put them on the lounge next to him. Then he smoothed and patted, smoothed and patted like those shorts were his best friend who needed some cheering up. Those shorts, the smoothing and patting, it must have gone on for 5 minutes.

He was so busy that you could barely take the time to notice he was wearing a thong bikini. I said barely. He stood still for a second and then made the international hand sign for Oh I forgot my…. He marched over to the lifeguard stand with his hands on his hips. Not lifeguards really, they were two teenage girls chit-chatting away under the umbrella. I don’t think either one of them ever looked in the direction of the pool for more than half a second. Of course they stopped when he came over and when they got a load of his suit, they instantly made the international facial expression for deer in headlights. I watched them pretend to listen and try not to look at each other and try not to look below the waist. One of the girls got up and handed him a bottle of sun block and he read the entire thing front to back, top to bottom. He took a step back and started in on lathering himself up, the face, the nose, the tips of the ears, arms, legs, toes, in between his legs for the love of god and then you could see him formulating the question before it came out: he looked at the poor girl and pointed to his back.

Don’t do it! I wanted to yell like you do in a movie theater when the hero is about to go down in the basement. Don’t—oh there she goes, God! bless her she’s touching his back. 4 seconds it took. Completely unsatisfying I’m sure. But she finished and then shooed him away like she needed to look at the pool and he was blocking it. And off he went.

Added to my list of makes life worth living.