Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For me.. for me!

Yesterday I was teaching J. how to sing the part in Bohemian Rhapsody that goes "mama mia, mama mia...," and he was doing a pretty good job, and then I blew all our minds when I hit the high note (totally falsetto, and not very pretty) at the end of the line, all the "for me!"'s. I think that's Roger Taylor singing that part, and I think it's a B flat or a C? I'm no singer (clearly), so it was extra cool to hear that big ol' note coming out of little old me.

I love that my boy loves music. He rocks out in the back seat, strapped into his (now forward-facing) car seat, and it's the cutest thing, ever. He sings along with TV shows, and when we're walking, he'll sing the alphabet song or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I'm still hoping he'll be a flutist or a drummer (or a sax or a marimba player, a composer, a singer, a bass player...) but whatever he chooses to do, I hope he always loves music.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Parental guidance required.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch in the freshly painted living room of the house I grew up, with a small stack of papers on the couch beside me. This is a couch that almost always makes me want to take a nap - it's so cushion-y and soft. I wish they'd had it when I lived there, instead of the scratchy brown plaid couches I remember.

The papers were life insurance paperwork for a policy my parents had purchased in 1998 that is probably not necessary. My mom said it's a "burial policy." We discovered that they might have duplicate coverage for their funerals but I was unsure, because no where on the papers were the words "burial policy." I have to do some follow up to make sure, but they can possibly stop paying on one of them. I don't know where we all were financially, 15 years ago, but I made sure my mother understands that at this point in all our lives, between myself and my three siblings, I think we can afford their funerals without her having to worry about it.

During our discussion of all this, which, by the way, was kind of surprisingly lighthearted, my mom left the room and came back with the pages from the catalog that show the urns she and my dad have chosen for their ashes. They decided against buying a space in a cemetery; I learned yesterday that their final resting places will be... wherever we chose them to be.

The urns are beautiful. Mom's has doves on it, and my dad's is plain, but nicely finished. I'm sure he was impressed with the workmanship. I'm sure either I or one of my siblings will find an appropriate place to display them, if and when the time comes. I guess there's really no "if," is there.

My mom left the room to put the papers away, and my dad and I were left alone.
Me: Do me a favor, and don't be like those people who, when one dies the other one goes within the week.

My dad: What? (Laughs)

Me: We're going to need a least one parent present at all times.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

This commentary is about 6 years too late.

I've been watching the West Wing on Netflix, season by season, episode by episode for a while now. It's such a great show, and I've been highly entertained. This week I finally made it to the 7th season. These are episodes I've never seen before, and they're a lot of fun to watch.

However, I am finding the storyline of "If you would just let him do what he wants, JOSH, Santos will get himself elected president" to be really tiresome. Patrick HATES Matt Santos, and every time he catches a view of Jimmy Smits on my iPad, he groans. I think the actress playing Mrs. Santos is a doll. This show has a thing for cute blondes.

I'm wondering what the hell Donna has been up to; if, after Josh's turned her down for a job but sort of admitted that he feels something, she walked our of the door of Santos/McGarry HQ and found herself a job at the Gap or something. Luckily I suspect this storyline will play out soon.

Josh's new super fluffy hair is super cute and youthful? Maybe. Santos needs a haircut, C.J. needs a nap, Debbie is never around, what does Charlie do, exactly, and WHO LEAKED THE SPACE SHUTTLE STORY? (Actually, I know the answers to some of these questions. Thanks a lot, Wikipedia.) Who cares, I just would like to see more Oliver Babish, please.

I don't like the weird color they've dyed C.J.'s hair: she looks older in the 7th season episodes than she does now, but I love the fuller skirts she's wearing. She's a great actress, and a beautiful woman, but she just seems too tired right now. I've said this before, but I love the actress (NiCole Robinson) who plays Margaret: Leo's, and then C.J.'s assistant.

Anyway, once I've finished watching all of season 7, it has been recommended to me that I should look into "House of Cards," and I watched one episode of "Veep" and laughed (a lot), so those will be my shows once this is over. I'm not sure if I will be checking out "Newsroom." I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Morning grouch

I noticed this morning that there was a memo on the intranet regarding our workplace dress code. I didn't read it because the intranet stories are so easily ignored, but also because I find a memo about dress code to be totally beside the point today.

I'm sleepy, and a little grumpy, and I forgot my coffee and my banana on the kitchen counter, and I didn't fall asleep until 12:45 last night, and then when the alarm went off at 4:45, and I set it to go off in 30 minutes thinking I could get a little bit more sleep, but then the kid woke up too and wanted "milk from mama."

Well. It is my opinion that since we all interact mainly with each other, and because the air conditioning has been so touchy lately, we should be allowed to come to work in our pajamas. I have a nice, respectable pair of navy blue sweat pants that don't say "Juicy" or "Pink" on the butt that I would be most comfortable in today.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Life is hard; wear a helmet*

Anybody who says they don't need a seat belt or a bike helmet ("because we didn't have those things when I was young") is foolish, period. Anyone who says laws enforcing these things are just "nanny state" governmental busybody-ness should get over their paranoid fears and protect their goddamn head already. Does it really matter who tells you to do it? Your mother, a coach, the "law"? I've heard some pretty stupid arguments against bike helmets. Have you seen how big a car is, felt how hard the pavement is, and thought about how delicate your fucking skull is?

(Those arguments that start with "I know someone who was in a car crash who would've died had they been wearing their seat belt" make me sad The stories of people dying in car crashes who should've been wearing their seat belt... well, let's just say they don't just make me sad.)

(I read a description of the car seat we bought for J. that said something along the lines of, "This seat has been nicknamed 'the Orphan Maker;'" implying that in a car crash, the kid will survive but the parents won't. If that fact right there doesn't take your breath away, you're insane.)

And yes, I too (and my sister and brothers) grew up during Evel Kneivel's heyday, riding in the back of my dad's pickup on the 405 freeway, riding minibike motorcycles bareheaded (actually, not me: by the time I was old enough, either the minibike was out of commission or my dad didn't want me riding it), not knowing what sunscreen was really for, rolling around on the floor of the front seat of a car as an infant, wandering the streets alone as a kid, giving "puppet shows" for the people behind us from the rear-facing back seat of my mom's station wagon... and we are all lucky, because nothing really bad ever happened to us (though my brother obtained some pretty rad scars from various bike crashes and other injuries; once, in the 11th or 12th grade, I was groped by a man who spoke to me in Spanish on the bike path under Sepulveda Blvd. Oh, and a big fat guy in a white car exposed himself to me while I was walking to school, once, but I was too stupid to understand what I had seen or do anything about it except laugh). And a guy I dated a few times in my 20s took me to his room one night, and when he was in the bathroom, I snooped in his bedside table and saw that he had a gun. I never saw that guy again.

I don't care if there is or ISN'T a law about safety; because we know, thanks to science and neurologists and people who study this for a living, that helmets save lives. We know that seat belts protect people in accidents. We know these things because not everybody has been as lucky as I have, or you.

Yes. You might die in a car accident even if you're wearing your seat belt. Yes, you might be paralyzed or suffer brain damage if you're in a bike accident while wearing a helmet: these tiny straps and pieces of foam are not the hand of God. None of us is guaranteed a safe ride home, every time. But don't be purposefully stupid, don't put yourself in harm's way if you don't have to. Take every chance you can while you can still think about it.

There, whoever I've pissed off has left the room, and for you, the ones left, I'd like to share this article I just read in the NY Times about pretty/cool/incredibly expensive bike helmets. My own personal helmet is a very utilitarian looking Specialized helmet that I got at Wheel World in Culver City. It looks like a helmet, and is black and grey, with reflective tape that I added for better visibility, not fashion; then again, that right there IS my style. Just because I personally don't feel the need to express my individuality via my stupid bike helmet, doesn't mean I don't think it's a fun idea. If more people will wear one because they now have the option of getting one that's a little kooky, then, hey, go for it. You can read the article here.

And don't forget to buckle up for the ride home, dummy.

*There's a seemingly now defunct website by this name that came up on my google search while I was writing this, with that title. I thought it was cute but couldn't access the site. My apologies for stealing your title, whoever you are.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Someday you'll tell this story, and laugh." Today is that day.

My mom hates it when I tell this type of story so let's just pretend this happened to someone else:

I was talking to my coworker on our walk this morning about learning to drive. Her son is in his 20s, and just got his first car, a 1999 Toyota Camry with low miles on it. I was about that old when I got my first car, and was going for practice drives with my mother. (It never occurred to me to get my license before I had a car.) First of all, who had that bright idea? Anybody with half a brain could see that was going to be a disaster. For one thing, my mom and I had a history, when I was younger, of butting heads about how to do just about everything. She knew the right way to do things, and hey, guess what? So did I. Unfortunately, those two ways were always totally different. We did not know how to agree to disagree, we only knew how to attempt to beat the other into submission. This is an exaggeration. But when we disagreed, we really disagreed.

And then, I was nervous and not a confident student (of driving, and many, many other things). This should surprise no one. But my mom was also a nervous teacher, and this combination of fear and lack of confidence meant that our lessons almost all ended in tears (mine).

(You should know: I am an excellent driver now, so I will take a moment to thank my mother for those lessons, which though they were dramatic and emotional, apparently also taught me something. So, thanks, mom, for getting in a moving vehicle with me when I was a big dopey 20 year old. Also, now, 20 years later, we are better about accepting each other.)

The story I told my co-worker was this: I remember being in my mom's 1984 Subaru GL, waiting somewhere at a red light not far from home. I want to say it was at the intersection of Sepulveda and Sawtelle, heading towards Overland. Where Crocker Bank used to be. I was sitting there at the red light, with my hands on the wheel, stuck at 10 and 2. Tense, man, I was TENSE. My mom said to me, in that tone of voice that freaks me out TO THIS DAY, "Irene, you can relax! We're at a red light! Take your hands off the wheel!" And I immediately burst into tears. I probably then made an illegal u-turn and took us straight back home, where I hit the curb when parking the damn car.

My coworker and I laughed about this and did the whole "Mothers!" thing, and she said, "Aw, she was just trying to keep you safe," and I acknowledged that J. and I will probably have this exact same moment at least once (and probably many times), about a whole bunch of things, so the lesson for me today is that I need to learn how to not do this to him. It's also nice to be so old (there's something wrong with that) that these stories are now more amusing than painful, but I'll admit that I wish I'd been a more confident young person, or at least self-aware enough to have known that I should've found anyone else to teach me to drive so that both my mom and I would be spared the emotional scarring this event inevitably caused. It was nice to laugh about this now, and to understand what was going on, a little better. I appreciate my mom so much now; I need to work on showing it better.

The driving lessons I had  in my 20s with my sometimes slightly drunken boyfriend were better, but I can't advocate this for anybody else. For one thing, it might be against the law. Hearing his silly half-drunk voice ("Are we stalled out?") from the back seat as I stalled his 1990 Toyota Tercel on Wilshire Blvd. was a much more fun experience. (Sober, he was pretty much just as nervous about my driving as my mom was. You should've heard the argument we had once when I drove his car on the 405 south over some sort of debris that when he asked me to identify, I couldn't. He made me pull over so he could ensure that his gas tank hadn't been punctured or some bullshit like that. Needless to say, he made me cry, too. And then we made out on the side of the freeway. Hey, this was a more fun story. Why didn't I think of this one sooner?)

All the world's a stage, even your crappy little work cubicle

If you do a search on the internet for "why do people talk to themselves," most of the answers you're going to get back are about schizophrenia or the fact that everyone does it "so you're not crazy."

But there's a third reason my 30 second haphazard Google search didn't unearth (though it might have; I didn't delve much further than halfway down the first page of results. You want science, look elsewhere, my friend. You should know this by now), and I think it's this:

People talk to themselves because they're (we're) attention whores.

That joke about it being the only way to be assured of having an intelligent conversation? Yes, and it's also a way of making sure that a room full of people who have their own thoughts and tasks are all totally aware of you and your every utterance.

Anyway, somebody said something out loud in their cubicle today (this happens many times, every day), in a tone that was intended to be overheard (everything this person does is intended to be overheard), and while I have to assume this person is as sane as I am (because doubting my own sanity would be a problem, and because I am not a doctor, and therefore completely unqualified to diagnose anyone; you should know this by now), it just struck me that it's possible this person (a former community theater actor) considers their position behind their desk, with their back to the window, facing the door of the office, as an actor, on a very small stage.

Yes, lady. We're all looking at you and listening to your performance. What you don't realize is that some of us are also judging your performance.

(This article cracked me up. Should I ever need to find a banana, I will be sure to say it out loud. "Where is the banana? WHERE IS THE BANANA? Seriously! Where's the goddamn banana!")

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Words are trivial": for examples, see "Maturity is a disappointment," blog, by Irene Palma

I was at Venice Beach on the 4th of July and heard "Behind the Silence" or whatever that stupid Depeche Mode song is called, and thought, "And now my trip to Venice is complete. J. will remember this day forever." (Actually, he probably will: it was his first time playing in the ocean and he went batshit crazy. He LOVED it.)

When Patrick had said he wanted to take J. to the beach, I thought he meant, to walk around on the boardwalk and look at all the crazy people. It was only when we got to the sand and he started heading to the water that I realized he wanted to take our kid into the ocean. I had to stop so we could talk about it. I said, "I'm kind of freaking out right now about this." I said, "You need to be in charge, here." I said, "Don't you take your eyes off him or let go of his hand, EVER."

These were strong words even for me, and Patrick's no dummy (after 15 years of marriage he totally gets when I'm scared), and he retreated a little: he said, "We don't have to go today." I said, "No, we can go, just know that I'm worried."

Why so much worry? I remember being about 15 or 16, playing in the water with my friends, turning my back to the ocean like an idiot, and getting totally wiped out, flattened, tumbled, and flopping up on the beach many yards from my original starting point, breathless and blind (my glasses were somewhere on the beach with my stuff, and my friends, who were nowhere to be found for what felt like forever but was probably only about 15 minutes). It scared the shit out of me. I'm sure that other people who wear glasses are safe in the ocean but I am not one of them. And that experience was not one I will ever forget. Patrick, who grew up boogie boarding and body surfing (and he wears glasses, too) in Venice Beach (without a history of eye/ear infections or gangrene) is a much stronger swimmer (much stronger, in general) than I am, but I sometimes worry that in his efforts to make things "fun" for J., neglects some of the safety precautions I would take. This is, I think, the difference between lots of mamas and daddys.

Anyway, Patrick did everything right, and J. loved his time in the ocean, and we will be sure to get him to (perhaps cleaner) beaches again soon. But that's not what this post was supposed to be about:

There is something about that song, and that place. It just seemed right, hearing it. I heard it as we were walking back up the boardwalk to Rose Ave. to my mother-in-law's house, and it hit me in the head, via my ears, like a brick. Maybe because my experiences at Venice beach were mainly in high school, when that song was new (me, too). Maybe because my experiences at Venice beach were mostly unpleasant. Anyway, going there with Patrick, who lived six blocks from there practically his whole life until we got married, and exudes Venice cool, and my toddler, who couldn't be cool if he tried, was totally awesome. J. had to be physically picked up so we could go home! After about an hour of jumping and splashing and having what we suspect was the time of his life! Patrick said, "I wonder if he will dream about this?" Who knows?

The kid loves the water. Me, I got in the ocean up to my ankles, felt the pull as each wave reversed it's way back out, and remembered that it's not my job to transfer my fears to my kid: it's my job to make him feel safe in the world, and to ensure that he is. I'm trying, sweetie. I really am.

Take a look, it's in a book

I was walking back to my office through the parking lot, after picking up lunch. I saw a butterfly, about 20 feet above me. Simultaneously, as my eyes/brains identified it as “butterfly” (as opposed to, say, “missile” or “777”), the words and tune of “butterfly in the sky…” came to my mind. (Did you know there's a Reading Rainbow app for the iPad? Check it out!)