Thursday, January 31, 2008

and now i've been you-tubed

For all the fans -  Here is the link to our nanoseconds of fame, as Molly so eloquently put it.  I found it by searching for the contestant who auditioned right after our big scene.  We're almost the first thing on the clip, so you can't miss it.  I'm on the left with the long beige shirt.  Charity is the one with all the glee, and my mom is behind her.  Ryan, Charity's husband, is the guy.  

And just to prove that I'm moving past the American Idol thing on this blog, very soon anyway, get this.  This is the actual fortune I pulled out of a fortune cookie yesterday:

It's a good time for serenity - a good book and a good friend.

Fortune cookies love me.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

this is why people get Tivo

My sister was just on national television.  That's right.   American Idol, Baby.  I was looking at my computer screen when it happened, but I caught the last little bit as she was laughing at someone off-camera (whom I know to have been my other sister, and I know this because I was standing right there).  Uncle Rick says I was also in the shot as well as my mom and my sister's husband.  You would think I would be cool about this.  I mean, I'm too old to actually be a contestant, and my sister didn't get to sing for the celebrity judges, and it's reality television after all - not exactly an Oscar moment.  But I'm not cool about it.  I'm completely thrilled and excited.  Eight thousand.  That is the number of people who tried out in Omaha.  One hour.  That's how long the show was tonight.  Seven thousand seven hundred and something.  That's the (approximate) number of other people who did not get through to Hollywood and could have been shown laughing at Felicity's joke (or their own sister's joke I guess) on American Idol tonight, but weren't. (There, Felicity, you see?  You didn't make it on screen but now the masses of people who read this blog are completely aware that you were ALSO THERE.)  (P.S.  "Masses" is a tiny bit of a stretch)  (P.P.S.  So is "tiny").

Charity says she has watched it a few times over now, and suddenly television has begun to lose it's mystique.  It feels kind of like: National television, national television, national television, and cue home video . . .  national television, national television.  

If the writer's strike doesn't end soon (although, I hear the conglomerates did get my letter, since the Oscars are officially a go), then one day probably most of us will have a reality television story like this one.  Getting-to-know-you questions will be like, What's your favorite coffee blend, who's on your iPod, and which reality television series were you on?   That won't really be a happy day I don't think.  

But anyway, this one is.  It's an American phenomenon, and I was a part of it.  These are the moments we uncool people live for.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger

Felicity is right (in her comment on my previous post), I have to write about Heath Ledger. I didn't want to because I wasn't sure I had any right to mourn his death as if I had been any part of his life that made any sense at all. It is so difficult to find the line between genuine concern and plain old celebrity gossip. Christians are especially confused about this, but I think the whole world is really. When it comes to marriages and break-ups and births and style, we are embarrassed that we care. So we pretend that we don't, and we scoff at those who do, and we look at the magazine covers through our peripheral vision ONLY. But when it comes to young mothers losing custody of their children and when it comes to death, we pounce. At that point we feel our concern is acceptable because the magnitude of the sorrow overwhelms the gulf between feeling that we know them yet recognizing that we could not even possibly.

I wonder when people hope for fame, or even for success in the field of entertainment, I wonder if they realize they are giving us permission to care. Someone on Oprah once explained that it is because of our ancestry's tribal tendencies. You knew someone was a member of your tribe simply because you recognized them. Suddenly, Britney Spears feels like that girl we met at summer camp once. And Heath Ledger may as well have been the transfer student in our sixth period history class.

I don't feel embarrassed that I care. I only feel sad that I didn't find a way to think more seriously about Heath Ledger before this moment. I feel sad that I didn't consider his humanity, his religion, or his peace of mind until he died, at which point I thought about them over and over again in a sadly curious and wholly ineffective way.

He didn't really ever give me permission to care. But I do. I just don't know what to do about it.

a little thought on sameness

So this morning I was putting on my mascara and deliberately closed my mouth.  I do the same thing with blush, never smiling as I apply it.   And I'm a work-at-home mom who refuses to wear sweat pants or pajama bottoms EVER.

Why do I do these things?  In case it's not obvious, the technical reason I do them is to be different, to avoid embodying a cliche.  A friend gave me a cartoon once of geese flying in a V, and the last bird in one of the formations was saying, "Geez, I feel like such a conformist."  I don't think she gave it to me because I was so very unique but because she could see that I was trying to be.

What is amazing to me is the contradiction of it all.  First of all, in this day and age - seriously - trying to stick out in the crowd is exactly what the rest of the crowd is doing.  So I'm not sure it's possible to actually stick out in the crowd unless you genuinely do, and that's rarely by deliberate activity.

And more importantly, why do I try so hard to be unique when everything I do as a writer is try to describe, illustrate, and otherwise completely embrace the little things that make us all the same?

It's just something I was wondering.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

he's two . . . he's good at it

Jake was born in 2006 exactly two days after my friend Christie had a little girl and named her Emilee.  It was so cool being in the hospital at the same time.  Back then, Emi was giving the nurses trouble with how much she was(n't) eating.  Jake didn't have a problem in that area. Recently they both turned two.  Emi was showing me some dance moves the last time I hung out with her.  She was naming the moves as she did them, "Plie, plie, arabesque . . . leeeeean."  I'm not kidding.  She says "Arabesque".    While she demonstrates it.  And she told me in complete sentences exactly what she was wearing (new Christmas pajamas) and who they were from.

Jake says dog pretty well.  And I want, although the two words are about four syllables and I really only recognize them because of the familiar inflection in his voice, the pointing, and the fact that it's followed by some word that resembles whatever he is pointing at.
Now don't you worry, there is no part of me that frets over this.  My middle son talked like an adult before his second birthday, but my first was more like Jake.  I've read all the books and baby websites - all kids are different.  It's all good.

But still, I was pretty thrilled when he got out a 2-word sentence the other day and has repeated it several times since.  He was on his new miniature truck-n-trailer, and looked right at Michael and said, "Papa, watch."  Clear as day.  (Our kids call Michael Papa, it's a long story about a good friend, I'll tell it later).  He has said it to me now too.  He also says I love you.  Not as clear as day, but it's still quite evident that's what he's saying.  He knows it makes me giggle and squeal like's he's the coolest thing on the planet but I don't think he's realized just how much he could probably get out of me by doing it.   Thank goodness.

It's not like Jake needs words so very much anyway.  His actions speak pretty loudly.   For instance, the answer to "What is that on your shirt?" is almost always, "The same thing I just spilled on the kitchen floor."   And, "Where are you," which I ask after suspicious silences, is straight out multiple choice for which I was well-prepared with Deductive Reasoning worksheets back in grade school.   A) It has something to do with the toilet, B) Let's just say you'll need the changing table soon, C) It starts with "Digging in" and ends with either "Your purse, your drawers, or the refrigerator," and D) "Well, the cat was eating it!"

Anyway, it doesn't matter how you say it - Two looks great on him.

Monday, January 14, 2008

and the winner is . . . are you kidding me?

Dear Hollywood big corporation conglomerate guys (is that what we're supposed to call you?):

Last night's Golden Globes . . . thing . . . was supremely awful. I can't tell you how much I missed the razzle dazzle. Did I ever say it was just a night for Hollywood to simply pat itself on the back, further increasing the distance between them and us regular blokes? No I did not, because I was too busy glued to the television screen each year enjoying the show with all my heart, a bowl of popcorn, and a glass of chocolate milk. I love watching Hollywood pat itself on the back. Johnny Depp's final win after seven nominations meant nothing when he wasn't there to tell us he was proud. His picture was simply flashed on the podium as if he had died this year. And best drama of the year and best comedy of the year should never be read from a cue card like all the technical awards we (should but) don't care about that "were handed out in a previous ceremony earlier this evening." It was not cool. And I'm begging you, before Oscar night, please fix this. Get back at the table, and make the deals.

I know there are more important things in the world. But I don't come to you for your solution to cancer or the Iraq war or the AIDS epidemic in Africa or all the smaller equally horrible things that happen to one person at a time all over the world. I come to you for inspiration, to laugh just after I have cried, to react to the saddest things in life in a way that at least connects me to someone else who gets it, and to hope that the very best things in life sometimes do happen.

Yes, the Oscars get more and more pretentious every year. Most of us don't even live near a theater that carries all of the nominated films. But I don't care about that once the women don their dresses and the best speech-makers tell us jokes and the even better ones make us cry. I love that show. Please don't let two and half cents keep it from happening.

And for goodness sake, if you can't please the writers by then and thereby get the actors to show - at least give us the music montages. It's movie clips to music. Perhaps, you can at least do that without writers.


Monday, January 7, 2008

he totally remembered

You know all the little things you do as a mother and never get any thanks for?  I mean, it's not like you need thanks very often.  You don't usually care.  If you start to care too much then you have to think of all the things your own mother did unappreciated, and it's just very overwhelming.  It's better to just keep doing things for your own kid - and sort of bask in the whole circle-of-life of it all.

But every now and then - you get thanked.   And it's better than the Tyson commercials when the kids stand on the chairs and deliver a monologue on all that is good and wonderful about their mother while the neighbor kid or the grandfather or the brother play inspirational music in the background.  

I forgot Drew's snack the other day.  It was his turn.  And I knew I would forget it, being only the second day back from Christmas vacation, before I even had my new calendar on the wall, and way before I was back into the swing of things as far as notes home and library days and snack turns go.  But knowing I would forget did nothing in helping me actually remember.  So some time in the late morning I realized I had forgotten.  I didn't even know when he had snack - morning or afternoon, but I determined to take something to the school anyway, something they could use another day when some other mother forgot.  I met his teacher in the hallway and handed her the granola bars.  I hadn't missed it.  And I don't know where Drew was at the time, but I didn't see him.  I pictured him though.  I pictured that moment when he realized he had forgotten snack and felt bad about it, or, more likely, the moment when the teacher would announce that Drew had brought snack today, and he would know that I had come through for him when he hadn't even realized he'd needed me to.  But I didn't expect him to remember the moment and thank me for it.

You can imagine my thrill then, when I picked him up from school.  The teachers recognize my car, and send the boys out when they see me.  Drew was swinging the leftover box of granola bars and talking a mile a minute to John as they came to the car.  As soon as he opened the door, this: 

 "You rock, Mom."  

Thursday, January 3, 2008

thoughts on the new year

2005 was a big year for me.  I found out I was pregnant on May 24.  Then found out I had cancer on June 14.  It was the most frightening year of my life, the most surreal, in many ways - it was just plain the worst.  But just into the new year, 2006, Jake was born.   It was so strange and wonderful that such health and pure, screaming, wiggly, adorable proof of Life could have been happening inside of me during such a troublesome year.  

Shortly after he was born, a couple of spots were found on my lung that they have since more than ruled out as nothing to worry over.  But at the time, I plummeted in fear.  This is an excerpt from my manuscript describing my emotions at the time, just after we were relieved by the news that the spots were not, after all, very suspicious for cancer.

I would like to think my reaction that Friday [when I was told of the abnormality] was dramatically enhanced by postpartum hormones.  And I will continue to believe that until proven otherwise.  Cancer diagnoses and babies just should not be mixed.  In any way.  Ever.

But then, Jake gave me so much to smile about.  He was such a gift.  Such perfect proof that Life perseveres.  I would not have chosen to make his entrance to the world so wrought with trauma.  But then I would have missed the awesome joy.  We were at the beginning of a new year.  I love a new year.  I know it's just days on a calendar, but I get such hope at the beginning of each one.  As though maybe this will be the best one yet.  Thank goodness no one told me at the beginning of 2005 what that year held for us.  I would never have believed the heartache and painful lessons could add up to all this beauty.  And I would not have risked it.  But then how much I would have missed.

I'm thankful God does not tell us everything.  I'm thankful for the gifts that outweigh the trouble.  I am so deeply thankful for Jake.