Friday, November 20, 2015

A male coworker just emailed me to let me know I no longer needed to handle a particular task he had asked about. Being a fun-loving individual, I replied, "Party time!"
But. I originally typed "Panty time!"

And now I'm mentally playing out a horrifying Sliding Doors scenario about what happened next to the version of Helen who hit send before she could correct her typo, and thus declared 12:37 pm to be "Panty time" at the office.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Someone I knew 15 years ago died suddenly yesterday.
To call him a friend would be a mis-characterization of our relationship and would trivialize the many full, dear friendships he did have in the impressive life he lived.
I knew him best in freshman year of high school. We sat at the same table at lunch. And we argued. Every day, we agreed to disagree, and we exchanged words, and we rolled our eyes at each other, and we laughed. We called each other terrible names that we didn't mean. We called each other terrible names that we did mean. And we smiled and gesticulated wildly and we thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. "Fighting" with him was often the highlight of my day. We respected and reviled each other.
After our lunch schedule changed, we fell out of touch. I didn't know him at all after high school, except for what I learned from Facebook, which seems to be an accurate account:
He was in law enforcement, a parole officer.
He had a wife and three boys under the age of three, whom he loved dearly.
He loved God and shared this love with others.
He and I have been Facebook friends for years, but I don't think we ever interacted -- not one Like, not one comment. We were still on opposite ends of the political spectrum and I had to force myself to refrain from arguing with him on more than one occasion. His opinions, though always expressed intelligently and diplomatically, made me angry -- not playful high-school-lunch angry, but irrational Internet angry. So I didn't engage. We were not friends.
Still, I watched his Facebook life in awe. He had a beautiful family for which he was demonstrably grateful, and I loved seeing pictures of his sons. He had grown into a father, a husband, and a proud public servant. He was a good man, and to hear his friends tell it, he was a Godly man.
I don't fully comprehend the sadness I feel. I valued him, but I didn't really know him. I don't even know if I liked him. But he was a good man and a friend to many, and his death is just flat-out unfair.
He touched my life more than I was conscious of. His ripples were far reaching. All of ours are.
I am so profoundly sad for his wife and children. Having a child, I can't help but try to imagine what she's going through, and even just the imagining is insufferable. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry.
He filled a page in my freshman yearbook -- an epic poem in Sharpie -- full of swears, obscene inside jokes, and confusing stick figure drawings. And then, upon hearing that my mom might see it, he scribbled out the obscenities and replaced them with kind words. He was thoughtful like that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I find myself in the awkward and surprising position of being an apologist for The View.
I don't watch The View, but I have seen A LOT of hate and anger in my feed about what was said about Miss Colorado on Monday's show.
I have watched both relevant videos, and these are my thoughts:
  • I have no doubt that Miss Colorado is an amazing nurse, and -- her profession being her primary talent -- I love that she wanted to showcase that for America.
  • Wearing scrubs on stage and reciting a story about a guy saying she was a great nurse is not a demonstration of her talents as a nurse. To me, it is akin to wearing a robe for the swimsuit competition and saying, "Every time I wear a bathing suit, people tell me I look way hot." That said, it was a bold move, and I thought it was pretty cool. It was also unusual and surprising.
  • It is the job of the ladies at The View to talk about -- and make fun of -- things that are unusual and surprising.
  • When you are speaking off the cuff, you sometimes use words you wouldn't have chosen had you had time to think it over. Those of us not on TV enjoy the privilege of not being subjected to hundreds of angry "open letters" and occasional death threats every time we misspeak.
  • You can poke fun at something an individual does without making a statement about the group to which that individual belongs. You can think Miss Colorado's monologue about nursing was weird or silly or ridiculous, and it doesn't mean you think all nurses -- or all beauty pageant contestants, or all Coloradans, or all women -- are weird or silly or ridiculous.
  • Nurses are awesome. Only an asshole would intentionally be disrespectful of nurses and their profession.

Anyway, the guy from The League pretended he was a 9/11 survivor. So I think we can move on from this.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In the past few weeks, I've seen a bit here and there and everywhere about how people just need to stop being offended, how we're building mountain ranges from various molehills, and how we all just need to chill the fuck out and think about something else.
On my commute this morning, I found myself behind someone whose views differ from mine. This happens constantly (we're all unique snowflakes, after all, and, living where I do, I occasionally find myself a bluish snowflake in a sort of reddish snowbank [metaphors!]). It's fine/dandy, and I'm seldom aware of it. This particular fellow, however, was thoughtful enough to print his beliefs out in 72 pt. font, laminate them, and tape them to the gate of his pickup truck. These are the words he chose to represent himself to other motorists:
"AIDS * Ebola * Obama - Thanks a lot Africa!"
"Have you ever noticed how women using food stamps always seem to be pregnant?"
We are blessed to live in a country where freedom of speech is protected. I'm into it. Go USA. Go first amendment.
You are allowed to hate and/or fear black people, women, the poor -- whoever you like -- and you are allowed tell us all about it.
And -- here's the thing -- we are allowed to react to it. You are entitled to share your views, and I am entitled to weep, or dry-heave, or think you an asshole, or write an overlong Facebook treatise in response to those views, if that's what my body wants me to do.
Never feel bad for being offended by something that truly disgusts or threatens you.
In high school I proclaimed that I wasn't easily offended. More accurately, I just watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show a lot. And I let myself believe that people like the Staunch Racist and the Casual Sexist were relics, or at most, harmless caricatures with no influence. I was proud of the notion that I was so open-minded and unflappable. And I was wrong, as past versions of ourselves often are.
Spewing intolerance and ignorance, or -- to another point -- flying a flag that makes a large portion of the population feel uneasy or unwelcome (regardless of the flag-flyer's intent) is protected speech. And being offended is just as protected. It's wonderful.
Hate is offensive. Be offended. You owe it to yourself -- and to America -- to say what you feel and to feel your feelings thoroughly. Speech is power, and you can use it to shift the energy. Or, at the very least, you can use it to passive-aggressively shame a guy in a Ford pick-up whom you'll never see again, and who will never know how you feel.
I probably should have just flipped him off.
But I was afraid of offending him.
There's still a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pop Culture Commute

Someone* once told me told my writing and humor rely too heavily on pop culture references. I am not trying to disprove that notion now. It's true -- I look for such references everywhere I go.

These are the unintentional bits of popular culture I encounter every day as I drive to work -- all of the below are the names of subdivisions. And after nearly three years of making this commute, I still chuckle nerdily to myself almost every time I notice these neighborhood signs.

In geographical order (and order of importance):

Haley's Mill
Haley Mills played both twins in The Parent Trap and the title role in Pollyanna. Of course, I remember her best as Miss Bliss in Saved by the Bell. This neighborhood is not technically on my way to work, but I pass by signs advertising it as soon as I get out of my own subdivision.

Elan Hall
Chef Ilan Hall won season two of Top Chef on Bravo. I thought he was super-hot for the first few episodes of the season. Now I find the townhomes in his eponymish subdivision much more handsome. 

Knott's Landing 
Knots Landing is an old soap opera that I have never watched. Still, when we were house-hunting, I looked closely at this neighborhood, just because I thought it would be cool to live in a place with the same name as an old soap opera that I have never watched (and they have a little lake!). As it turned out, I couldn't afford a home in Knott's Landing any more than I could afford a home in Knots Landing.

Dr. River Song is a companion to the Doctor in the current series of Doctor Who. That's all I'll say about her, lest I reveal spoilers.

Does anyone else encounter these sorts of things? Do you care when you do? I'd love to hear other examples.

*It was Tila Tequila.**

**This is not true.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I had planned another discussion of the woes and whees of moving house, but then I stumbled upon this little nugget ("nugget" because he is both small in stature and akin to gold).

This is what inspires me today.

My friend Tress shared this on Facebook yesterday. When I watched it this morning, the video had less than 20,000 views. Now there have been 1,532,234. Wait -- I forgot to hit "refresh." Make that 2,137,217. When I opened my browser to write this blog, Yahoo! had a front page story displayed about him, Greyson Michael Chance, or "Little Lord Gaga," as their music blogger called him.

But it's not the trajectory of this tyke that impresses me most. It's his gosh-given talent and the charisma with which he was able to hold the attention of all those girls (though at least one was able to keep a pretty good Pokerface throughout the performance) and the other 2 million of us. And Lady Gaga is only a gateway for the boy (though she is listed first when he lists his two main musical influences); the two other videos on his YouTube channel are for songs Chance wrote himself. "Broken Hearts" is really more powerful than it has any right to be (to whomever broke this precious popple's heart: thanks. Sucker). "Stars" is a touch repetitive, but it's no fun to critique a 13-year-old negatively.

I want to be jealous of his astounding voice and his ivory tickling and his overnight success (and I am jealous of the ivory tickling), but the real achievement is that he is using his talent. He is writing songs, and learning the art of performance, and posting a showcase of the art he deems complete enough to share (even though he admits that "it needs a lot of work"). And yeah, he has had genetic and/or economical advantages over others -- the voice is worth noting, his house looks to be several tiers above hovel, and he's got the looks those Tiger Beat tweens go mad for. And it's clear from the "Paparazzi" video that he goes to some fancy all-girls school and really had no choice but to cultivate the skills necessary to woo them all.

But really, he's doing it. I'm just proud of him, is all. It is really a shame that he has to achieve celebrity before he hits puberty, though. This means the whole world will witness his balls drop. It will be like New Year's Eve. Hope you're ready, Greyson.

Bloggers and YouTube commenters alike have been making comparisons between Little Lord Gaga and Justin Bieber. But I don't know Justin Bieber. Instead, Chance reminds me of this artist.

Local treasure, oh dorian.

The comparison may seem like a bit of a jump to you, but whatever, kids. Both have voices that would melt polar bears (and you know how high melting point is for polar bears), both play piano with style. And I'd wager both are younger than me -- even Lady Gaga her majestic self is younger than me. Greyson Michael Chance and oh dorian -- and Lady Gaga, too, for that matter -- write original songs and perform them with a quality that is at once haunting and darling.

And I find myself in awe. Greyson Michael Chance is going to be on Ellen. Lady Gaga went to Tisch and supposedly taught herself piano at age 4. Even that guy Matt works with goes to open-mic night at Mellow Mushroom and sings '90s songs in front of people.
I taught myself guitar at 15 and haven't improved since then. I played flute in middle school; I can still play my favorite Australian aboriginal folk song, but nothing else. I took chorus for 13 years.
And I am blogging about other people's art.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Homeward Boned

I have just bought my own home. That means I have the great pleasure of packing up all the stuff and nonsense I've collected over the 24.961643835 years I lived at my old house and hauling it 5 miles up the road to my new house (which is actually about the same age as the old house). This is my first moving experience. And it's been, I suppose, rather a moving experience.

It's strange to have to quickly become accustomed to new and fascinating doorknobs, lightswitches, musty odors. The soapscum in the shower is not my soapscum. Except legally. And though we've been at the new house for nearly three weeks, I still feel, to an extent, like a guest -- one who's making herself very comfortable, painting the rooms and weeding and whatnot, but still a guest. At least I no longer really feel like I'm living in someone else's filth, as I did the first few days, because Matt and I were good about moving our own filth over, early on. The dogs can snuggle in dirty laundry or old pizza boxes or paint-splattered drop cloths, and it feels just like home to them. The first day we brought the dogs, Walter was dry-heavingly stressed out, so they've made a lot of progress.

I'm sure I'll feel more at home once we've moved every everything over. We're still in that limbo where we've brought over the absolute essentials -- bed, undies, dogs, dental floss, chargers for various electronics, lamp in the shape of an airplane, frozen waffles (we haven't brought the toaster over yet), box of liquor, etc -- but the rest of our stuff (and most of my life) is still at the old house. It's hard to decide what you can't live without when you've never had to live without anything you've ever received or bought since the day you were born. Some of the moving-day decisions were tough -- like I chose to bring this low-cut-but-still-work-appropriate blouse first because I've worn the other six more recently or something -- but I had to be practical. Neil Gaiman looks more attractive in his book-jacket photo than Bill Bryson does (despite Bill's beard), so he got to come hang out on my new nightstand first. And I'd already read all the Bryson books.

Mostly, though, I just find the whole thing exhausting. Not only do we have to pack up and move, but there's all this broken crap we have to shell out precious time, money, and effort to fix we've been presented with all these wonderful opportunities to rejuvenate the home!

For instance, the home inspector noted that the railing around the stairs was too low and a safety hazard, so the seller fixed it for us.

The inspector also mentioned that the oven that was to come with the house did not have an anti-tip bracket. So the seller bought a new (used) oven that also doesn't have an anti-tip bracket. And he only had to saw off a little bit of the kitchen counter to make it fit!

If that's not a dare to renovate, I don't know what is.

And then there's the delightful leak in the quirky room under the front porch, which has inspired us to completely demo and rebuild the room. And we wouldn't even have thought to do it if it weren't for the few pints of water coming in last Sunday. There are just home improvement ideas everywhere!

But I'm happy to start really making this place our home. I'd go on and on about it, but I have to go paint the dining room and bring over a few more books and lowish-cut blouses.