Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The NY Times reports that Tom DeLay has been found guilty of money laundering

Here's a quote from Mr. DeLay, as reported in the story (click on the title of today's post and you can read the whole thing):
"The criminalization of politics undermines our very system.”
So true, sir! And how do you suppose we should go about getting the criminals out of politics? Is there a New York Times article on how many politicians have been found guilty of a crime (any crime) in the last 20 years?

Dancing with the stars, or whoever

Last night was the finale of Dancing with the Stars, a show I (as I have explained before) started watching solely to have something to discuss with my mother (who loves shows like this), but of which I became a fan on my own. I didn't actually watch the whole finale - I felt a lot of ambivalence about it, though all along I've been voting for Jennifer Grey (and Margaret Cho, when she was still on). Instead I flipped back and forth between DWTS and a rerun of the first episode of the American version of "Top Gear" (loved it).

Dancing with the Stairs is total silliness, what with the wacky costumes, horrible music, even more horrible Brooke Burke, and completely ridiculous judging, but it's also, results shows aside, total fun. I kind of hate to admit it, but I do like it and I get a little bit invested in it, every season.

Anyway, so this season was full of so-called controversy - a couple of talented celebrities were voted off (Audrina Patridge, Brandy) seemingly too early, and Bristol Palin was kept on until the final. Bristol was repeatedly dinged for lacking in personality or not showing any emotion in her face during her dances, and when she finally showed some toward the end, unfortunately, it was an ugly, vindictive personality.

Hey, I'm not really surprised. Her comments about "haters" and "giving the middle finger" to those who wanted to see her fail - those comments go right along with her obvious lack of maturity. Grow up a little, Bristol, and yes, go home to your kid. Maybe get a real job and some actual life experience. See a Broadway show. Stay off of Facebook. Have a grown-up relationship. Have a life of your own that's not connected to your mom's career. Wouldn't that be something?

(I love that she can give the finger to the haters and at the same time feel "blessed" by an experience she really didn't deserve. And God loves ALL your fingers, Bristol. I guess.)

As a dancer, the thing is, yes, she showed improvement, but she was never really good enough, and this is not a hateful statement. Maybe she's one of those people who think just showing up entitles her to a trophy. Like my niece's first soccer team... when she was five. Newsflash, Bristol: you're not good enough. Yes, she tried. We all try - and we all sometimes fail. It's a fact of life, babe.

I will say that she looked great in her practice clothes - she's a pretty girl with gorgeous hair, and in a hooded sweatshirt and capri length leggings and fancy dance shoes, she looked prettier than she ever did in the strangely tailored sparkly dresses on the show.

The thing that's been bothering me is, I've heard/read a lot of comments about how Jennifer Grey shouldn't have won because she's a "trained dancer." She made "Dirty Dancing" in 1986 or '87, and as far as I can tell, the rest of her career includes no other dancing roles. You do the math - that's not exactly a lifetime of training. Yes, she could've had some private dance experience, but so can anybody. It's not "Dancing with the Normal People" (but if they make that show, can I be on it? and will you vote for me?) or "Dancing with the Bitter and Entitled," it's Dancing with the Stars. Those people are expected to be able to perform, and most of them work it out because they have the talent and the personality to pull it off. That's what being a celebrity is about. People like David Hasselhoff, Kurt Warner, and Florence Henderson are interesting because they've accomplished something in their field (come on, you know you loved Knight Rider).

In the end, it's a stupid dancing competition. The prize is useless. I loved getting to see Jennifer Grey again: she's a beautiful woman and a cancer survivor. I hope winning helps her career - I would love to see her in a movie again - but I also hope losing teaches Bristol something about humility, and working hard. Showing up doesn't mean you win, sweetheart, it just means you were there.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From the list of things I don't want to hear while at my desk:

  • "Push It," by Salt-N-Pepa
  • My co-worker moaning and groaning to herself over her inability to pass an online practice test for a higher-level secretarial position.

Argh. - Updated.

My boss is on the holiday party committee for our service (group of divisions here at work, whatever, not an important detail), and she asked me to make the flier to announce the party. It went out last week. I don't mind making fliers but please don't get it in your head that this is all I do: I do it once a year. I use Word but since I'm pretty stubborn about not using tacky cartoon clip art or their mostly lame templates, I make them from scratch. This year I used a photo of a fireplace with a roaring fire and a wreath and some other holiday stuff on it. I tried to make something relatively classy, that was legible and made sense. My friend  - who liked it - said it looked like a very well-done Open House announcement. I'll take that as a compliment. I follow the simplest design rules I can find and I take my time and they usually come out pretty good. And, the committee must like my fliers because they keep asking me to make them, and I don't think it's just because I can spell (you wouldn't believe some of the "typos" I've seen on other fliers around here).

Anyway, the day it went out (as a PDF), I got an email from someone in one of the other divisions (not on the committee, but it doesn't matter). She liked it and wondered if it was possible for me to send her the Word file so that she could use it for her personal use, if that was okay with me.

Well. It's kind of not okay with me. And, my boss agrees that I don't have to give it to her.

I haven't responded yet, even though apparently this person contacted another member of the committee to ask the same question (that conversation probably went something like this: "I asked Irene if I could have the the Word file for her flier but she hasn't gotten back to me!"). The other lady on the committee called me today to basically ask me what was what. I don't fault that person for contacting me, but the woman who asked the original question is now starting to get on my nerves.

It's not a big deal, just a dumb flier, but it did take some time, I did use some advanced Word techniques, and my own hard-won knowledge of fonts and all that crap, and you know? It's MINE. Nobody's stopping her from copying it or going out and figuring it out herself; I didn't make anything that complicated. Word is probably the easiest program to learn, I'm not saying this is genius work, here. I mean, take a class. Do an online tutorial. Play around with things. These are all examples of how I and everyone else I know has learned how to do anything creative on the computer. Seriously. If I just give it to her, how is that teaching her anything? Or should I just not give a damn? Maybe I'm just being silly. It would probably be easier to just give it up, but hey, isn't that kind of like the argument some guy used on me 20-odd years ago? And I did I listen to him then? Oh. Wait a minute, bad example.

Now I just have to figure out how to let this woman know. I already considered and rejected telling her I "accidentally" deleted the Word file (because I don't want to sound like an idiot. Who deletes their master file? Not me!). Your input would be appreciated.


I wrote this message:
I’m sorry, but I prefer not to share my work for your personal use.

Thanks for the compliment, and have a good weekend!
She wrote back and admired the clip art I used (a photo, remember). I told her where to find it. So - maybe she doesn't need me after all. Happy ending!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another dream

I'm not sure when I had this dream, maybe Monday night.
A boy (now a man, but who I still see in my mind as a 13 year old, as that's the last time I probably had any kind of interaction with him) I've known since kindergarten came to see me. We were never very close to one another (in fact, he was pretty mean to me sometimes, except for one time when he gave me a hand in climbing down from a high space; I'll never forget that tiny act of kindness) but I was best friends with his best friend's sister in elementary school, and the four of us were thrown together a lot, especially since that family was very generous and took us with them on many family camping trips, and had us all over all the time for sleepovers and things. We both practically lived with them in the summers. I will admit that he was a cute kid and I had a bit of a crush on him, but it never went anywhere (probably because I was nerdy and a goofball; he and the others were adventurous and athletic, while I was always the last one to jump in and do whatever they were doing, never with their level of skill), and he and his best friend (my friend's brother) enjoyed tormenting us with silly nicknames and teasing (they used to call us "Waffleheads," a meaningless but incredibly annoying appellation I still don't understand). Anyway, in the dream, this guy I haven't seen since Middle School (I'm sure he went to my high school but I can't remember ever seeing him there) comes to visit and he has a very specific message for me:
He wanted me to know that my 11th grade boyfriend, a guy I'm pretty sure he didn't even know, had cheated on me. 21 years ago.

That guy and I only dated for maybe 6 months, and I broke up with him while he was in rehab for some sort of drug habit I hadn't even been aware of (and no, I'm not proud of myself for this), but I will say that there is zero evidence of him being a cheater, and it was never an issue with us. I never suspected anything, I'm positive he never cheated on me, and I have no idea why my brain would imagine this, now. He was actually a sweet guy who made me laugh and took pretty good care of me while we were together.
So after this other guy makes his announcement, we end up on bikes (our preferred mode of transportation in elementary school), riding around a gorgeous park that bordered the freeway, and the section of the park we were in is higher than the freeway, so we could look down at the cloverleaf interchange. It was quite beautiful, surrounded by green grass and landscaping, the cars whirring by, and then, hey, I think I woke up.
Along with the crazy dreams, I've also been getting up to go to the bathroom a lot lately at night, and I've perfected the art of practically sleepwalking my way through the bedroom to the bathroom - I can do it with my eyes closed, which is no great feat, as my house is pretty tiny. I've opened them while in the bathroom to find that a little black and white cat has followed me from the bed and is waiting for me to pick her up and bring her back to the bedroom, which I always do. The two of us snuggle back in with Patrick and almost always go right back to sleep. Until the next silly dream or urge to pee hits us, of course.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sweet dreams are made of this...?

Everybody I speak to about this tells me that it's a common enough phenomenon, but I have been blown away by the realistic and yet still incredibly crazy dreams I've been having. I guess the pregnancy hormones are in full force, because they've been pretty insane this week.

Here's the one from November 11th, which actually involves a dream within a dream:
I'm standing in my parents' back yard talking to my friend from the theater who is also my former co-worker at the bookstore. His name is Bo, and I'm talking to him about the dream I actually had the night before, where my friend Missy, who I've known since I was about five, and my other friend Tammy from Rizzoli turned out to be sisters (in real life, one is a dental hygienist, and one is married to a dentist) and my dream has made them, not only sisters, but also the daughters of Frederique and Charles from City Garage. Frederique and Charles, in my dream only, own an antique store in San Francisco, and the three of us were driving around San Francisco in a big old pick up truck with furniture piled in the back. I think if Tammy and Missy knew each other in real life, they would get along very well. I'm telling my friend Bo this dream while we're standing in my parents' backyard, which was also somehow the backstage area of the new theater space (City Garage is leaving it's alley space in Santa Monica but there will be an announcement soon about the new space; my parents' house or backyard will not be involved, I'm sure), and we were opening a new show that night that involved a whole Lion King type overture with music and children and live animals at the beginning and I was supposed to be the kid wrangler and get them on stage at the right time by watching for a cue from Charles that was just him opening the screen of my parents' bathroom window during audio cue 1.

I was being incredibly pissy about the whole thing, because apparently they waited until opening night to tell me about this complicated opening and as I was talking to Bo I also had to fold all the clothes that were on the clothesline.

We were standing there in my mom and dad's backyard on the lumpy grass with about 15 child actors sitting at a picnic table nearby, listening to Jeff (one of the actors from the theater, a very nice, patient man; he plays three key parts in the current show right now) giving them acting instructions, and my dad's yard looked the same as usual, with the patchy grass and beautiful orange tree in the corner, and my brother's motorcycles and bikes all over the place.

My friend Bo listened to me complain, and then he smiled at me and said it would be okay. Frederique came out and it was 10 minutes to showtime, and she reminded me that Charles was going to open the bathroom screen 15 seconds into audio cue 1, which I couldn't even hear from out in the backyard, and then I was supposed to send in the kids, and I was so mad at her, and acting like a brat, but she was being really nice and not really responding to my bad attitude. I told her that there was no way I'd see that screen open because for some reason I wasn't wearing my glasses and she said to just do it, baby, words she says to me before practically every show when I'm in the booth.

My friend went inside by using the patio door that goes into my brother Dan's room, and I was standing on the driveway between the house and the garage, surrounded by children holding live animals, and the kid standing closest to me was holding a snake that bit him. The kid said, hey, he never did that before, and sucked his finger and then I saw the screen open and I sent the kids inside my mom's galley kitchen to start the show.
Here's the dream from Saturday, November 13:
Patrick and I are riding in a giant bus - it's like those tour buses rock bands use, I guess, more like a huge RV. The bus or RV was driving in a mountain area, and the road was very windy and dangerous, with steep drop offs and trees growing everywhere, and we were so high up that there was a crystal clear blue lake beneath us that was like a tiny speck below. The bus or RV had a passenger seat next to the driver, which I don't think they usually do, and I was sitting there alone. Patrick was just behind me. The bus didn't have a real driver, we had instead put it on "autopilot," and we were realizing as the road got twistier and turnier that this was probably a mistake, because instead of slowing down or braking into the really steep turns, the bus was actually speeding up and going out of control, and then we left the road completely and were flying through the air.

This part of the dream was really cool because we were so high it was like flying from the sky, which was black, like outer space, not night time, and we were passing things that were not possible, like tall buildings and the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek, and then we hit the water, and instead of, you know, drowning or dying like you would expect, the bus continued to drive through the water, and it was just like you'd expect a super psychedelic, pumpkin cheesecake fueled dream to be.

Then we weren't underwater anymore, or on the bus, and instead were at a party somewhere, and we had our baby, only it wasn't really a real baby: we were holding and passing around a little plastic baby doll for whoever those people were at the party, and we all were acting like it was a real baby. The doll's head kept falling off, and every time it happened, we'd nonchalantly replace it and say, "oops, baby's head fell off!"
Anyway, I'm not stupid: I know that these are anxiety dreams, and the bits with the last-minute instructions and out of control bus mean that I'm dealing with the feeling that I've lost control of my life because of all the new things that will come with having the baby that I can't plan for or even know to expect; and having a kid with a head that keeps falling off: I'm sure that just means that I'm worried about the baby's health...  The dreams aren't scaring or freaking me out, instead I wake up from them trying to remember every detail, wondering if I should write about them here or if you guys will be bored, or god forbid, better at dream interpretation than I am and see something in them that I don't, something that indicates that I'm just crazy or something.

Oh, well. I guess that's a chance I'm willing to take.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This week

On Monday, my mom had a second operation on her knee (she had a full knee replacement last September), and I haven't really written too much about it because when I got the news that this was necessary, I have to say that I was pretty pissed off about it.

Not at her, obviously.

She just had a CT scan about a week ago (we're still waiting on the news) to determine what the status of her cancer is, and then she has to have yet another surgery. This time last year she was recovering from the first one, and then started chemotherapy the week of Thanksgiving.

I was so hoping she could just continue to gain her strength (she's had a few months off from chemotherapy) and be ready for whatever the CT scan says, but nope, she's in another cast, unable to walk, still in the hospital, waiting for the fucking CT results.

Yep, I'm still pissed off about it.

The thing is, this second surgery is supposed to be good - the surgeon was unhappy with the way her knee had healed, and he says that this time he will correct whatever was making her foot point the wrong way and hopefully get her able to not have to use the walker all the time, and strengthen everything up, and signs are totally pointing that he's right - yesterday the physical therapist took her up some stairs without the walker, and come on, that's pretty major (three steps, but still), so I shouldn't be mad about the surgery, and I'm not, I'm just pissed that since this whole thing started she never seems to get a chance.

I want her to have a chance. I want her to see that she has a chance, and I want her to stand up and take it. How can she do that if she's in a cast? Or starting chemotherapy again? Her hair is finally starting to grow back, and it's this soft grayish white color, and I want to see more of it.

Anyway, you know, it's going to be okay. I have to get up and get ready to go to the hospital to see if she's really going to get to go home today, because it's my job to drive her there and I hope and pray that this trip home is better than the last one.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Police want you to get drunk, just like they did.

Dinosaur remains not included.
I got an email this morning from the Police, trumpeting the announcement of their new Synchronicity wine. I thought I'd have all kinds of ideas for things to say about it but on further reflection, I realized that my store of actual funny comments is pretty low today.

I'm not much of a wine drinker, and I'm really not a fan of celebrity products (come on; if you were invited to dinner with Sting and Trudie at one of their fabulous homes, do you think this is the wine they'd bring out for your enjoyment? Well. Maybe they would, if they were trying to get rid of you); the photo of Stewart, Sting and Andy that accompanied the email is unflattering to all of them except Stewart (Sting looks pissed; Andy's wig is crazy), and I'm just not in a good enough mood, even, to make fun of them (lovingly, of course) for this.

I do think they missed an opportunity to make a white wine inspired by Regatta de Blanc. I think it would've been a more natural connection, I mean, you'd think "Message in a Bottle" would be a wine marketer's dream, no?

Synchronicity (the album) makes me think of the tar pits and dessicated remains and skeletons and alienation and world destruction and crusts of bread and dying of thirst in the desert, spots on the sun and stalkers and crappy bass lines. None of these things, none of them I say!, inspire me to pop open a bottle of wine.

Thank god, because if they did, I'd be a drunk.
Stewart: I'll drink whatever you're pouring.
Sting: is it possible your arms are larger than your head?*
Andy: jeez, man.
 (Click here to order your bottle today!)

*Ah ha! I get it now!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Give Up Your Shoulds Day!

My friend Damon, a licensed marriage family therapist and author (I've known him since the 9th grade; he was a wise dude even then) is holding the 3rd Annual Give Up Your Shoulds Day today. You can find out all about it at his blog. It's a great idea and he's kind of amazing, so I highly suggest you check it out.