Friday, March 30, 2007

Misty birthday-colored memories

Tomorrow's my birthday. I had a couple of work pals surprise me and take me out for a birthday lunch, and that was nice. It got me thinking about some of the best birthday memories I have:

  • One, of course, was being born, but I'm a little hazy on that. I know there was a bright light and lots of noise, and I got smacked around a little bit, but it ended well. I got a pink blanket out of it.
  • There were plenty of parties with annoying kids who pinched me, busted the pinata before I got a turn, and made fun of my lop-sided, microwaved chocolate cakes. That wasn't so great.
  • I got a Sweet 16 party, and my parents invited the boy I'd had a huge crush on for three years -- to his credit, he was nice enough to attend, but I'm sure inside he was cringing.
  • When we lived in Washington, our circle of friends threw some great and creative parties for birthdays. One involved a hair-ball puppet; another centered around a handwritten story featuring Star Trek characters and an Organic Life Form (OLF). Those were the salad days.

Saw my favorite sister yesterday. She and her husband were on their way back to Colorado. They stopped in to say hello and wish me a happy birthday. "The older you get, the less of a big deal it is," she said, handing me a card my parents had asked her to deliver. (They live in town, and refuse to mail anything to me -- why waste a perfectly good stamp? If my sis hadn't brought the card over, I'd have had to pick it up myself.)

I agree with her on some level. I don't want expensive gifts. I don't even want cards, but I get a secret pleasure out of ecards, emails, and phone calls. I like it when people do stuff like that. It makes me feel a little special. It's nice.

One of the best gifts I ever got came out of the blue a couple of years ago. One of my co-workers had recently retired. She called me on her cell phone from the beach and let me listen to the breaking waves, knowing how much I loved the ocean. I will never forget that. One of these days, maybe I'll spend my birthday at a real ocean. Or, if global warming really kicks in, my little Oklahoma house might be situated on beachfront property.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Bald is beautiful

This is going to be one of those annoying “I am so proud of my kid” postings, so if you can’t handle that kind of stuff, don’t read on.

I can't help it, though, I really am proud of LegoGuy. Two years ago he started growing out his hair to shave on St. Baldrick’s Day, and he did the deed yesterday, along with about 70 other folks. He really would’ve had a lot more to take off, but during Christmas we made him get a trim and the stylist cut about 4 inches. (I was certain I told her to leave the length but add lots of layers; apparently, she didn’t hear me or chose to ignore me.)

Last year, Lego’s friend Fletcher died from Ewings Sarcoma. When it was time to sign up for St. Baldrick’s, he didn’t hesitate. He raised about $2000 for childhood cancer research.

I’ve been thinking about him all day, wondering how his friends at school reacted. He figured it might be a little rough but by Wednesday, everyone would be used to his new look. I think he’s got a beautifully-shaped head!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chain chain chain

Sport left his glasses on the back of my car last night. He tried to convince himself that he’d left them somewhere else: in the garage, on the swing out front, on his headboard, but of course, they were nowhere to be found. I imagine they were lying in the middle of the interstate most of the morning, finally pulverized into dust by passing 18-wheelers.

I was proud of the way SO handled the information. Sport told us about the missing glasses in the middle of a visit from his aunt, and SO was able to keep his composure. He’s able to deal with the stupid kid stuff better than I am — I’m notoriously short on patience when it comes to this.

We took the boys to the art museum on Tuesday to see a Napoleon exhibit, and while it kept LegoGuy mildy entertained, Sport was bored. It was a video on chain reaction that really caught their attention. It was 30 minutes long, but it was almost impossible to get up and leave once we sat down to watch it. I think Sport was expecting a grand finale – fireworks, girls dancing the Can Can, or, at the very least, a perfectly brewed pot of hot tea – but it didn’t work that way. It was an exercise in math, chemistry, and planning. Lots and lots of planning.

I wish I could say the boys learned something from that video, like if you send a tire down an inclined plane, and it knocks a burning candle into a puddle of gasoline, the subsequent explosion could cause a concussion that would send several tubes of empty tape rolls into the air, and on and on, causing a chain reaction that ultimately might result in the death of an entire civilization of people. (I don't know, we really didn't get to the end of it -- maybe the candle fizzled out at the end or a brigade of volunteer firemen rushed into the warehouse and shut the whole thing down.)

I really hoped it might give them pause before doing something that, in the end, would bring about bodily harm or at least the loss of a pair of expensive glasses. Didn’t happen.

Sport put the glasses on the back of my car as the sun was going down and left them there all night. The next morning, I backed out of the garage, and, as the sun had not yet come up, didn’t notice they were there. I took off for the highway, humming along with whatever was on the radio, racing through lights that were about to turn yellow, completely oblivious.

Kids don't think about what happens next. They live in the moment. I like this about kids -- but it can also be kinda painful. I know this, having experienced it myself at the ripe old age of six. My father, burning leaves as he often did during the fall, left one pile unattended. My sister, younger by a year, took a stick and put the tip of it into the flames, getting it nice and hot. Then, she branded me on the back. Later (after her spanking), she was remorseful and sad. She hadn't meant to hurt me, she just wanted to see me jump.

Another incident with fire, this time my niece. Seeing a lit candle in the bathroom, she wondered what it would look like if she threw a wadded up handful of toilet paper into it. She didn't realize it would startle her, making her sweep the blazing item into the trashcan, causing an even bigger conflagration. She was perfectly willing to confess, but only after she'd spent about 5 minutes trying to come up with the right way to tell her uncle that the bathroom was on fire.

Then there was the time I warned LegoGuy not to mess with a giant pile of rocks, just before he slipped and took off the entire top layer of shin skin.

Sport's got a backup pair of glasses, one with a missing nose piece. We'll get that fixed, and he'll be back in business.

I wish monocles were popular. I think he'd look great sporting one of those. And they're cheaper to replace.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hand over the napkins and nobody gets hurt

Only moments after bolting down a grilled cheese sandwich at Sonic, I found myself racing to the computer to begin a tirade against a growing trend. It's becoming more and more prevalent in the fast food industry: the mysterious disappearance of condiments.

Used to be, you'd pull into the drive-through to get a low-dollar lunch and be subjected to minimal customer service, a barely palatable burger, and a watered down drink. But in that grease-stained bag there would reside a handful of ketchup packets, some flimsy napkins, and, if you were lucky, a random sampling of salt and pepper.

Not today.

Is it a cost-cutting strategy? Conservation? Laziness? A vast, right-wing conspiracy? Is it so difficult to toss a couple blobs of ketchup and a few measly napkins at a customer? On top of making sure our order is correct (and the soft drink is indeed a Dr. Pepper, not a crappy Diet Coke), do we have to beg for condiments as well?

This makes me cranky. Very, very cranky.

So I'm sitting in the car, munching on an onion ring, when I notice I haven't been given a single napkin to wipe the crumbs from my face. On the floor (crushed and looking the worse for wear) is a used napkin. With care, I pick the thing up and observe it. A couple of the corners appear to be useable. At least I don't have to resort to some cruddy old snot rags I'm sure are lodged under the seat somewhere. As for the missing ketchup, I happened to have a few on hand from my last Sonic run, where I specifically requested extras when ordering.

I have many, many pet peeves, but as of today, condiment conservation is at the top of my list.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The spice of life

Love is in the air. It’s possible I might be getting a new grandpa for Easter. My grandmother’s got her eye on a wheel-chair bound resident down the hall. In fact, she’s got more than an eye on him. Apparently, she groped the gentleman during a sing-along of favorite church hymns.

Nearer my God to thee, indeed.

Sexual harassment or senior moment? Both families pledged to keep the elderly Juliet away from the aged Romeo, but I didn’t have the courage to ask her about it Sunday when I picked her up for lunch. The image of my granny playing fast and loose with forbidden fruit was too much for me. Always elegant, proper, and reticent, it was impossible to imagine her doing such a thing. She probably wouldn’t even remember doing it, to be honest.

Grandma wanted to go out for a hamburger, but her favorite place had closed down. We ended up at a Mexican food restaurant, eating fajitas and soft tacos. She put away an entire bowl of salsa and queso, smacking her lips with satisfaction. “I love that spicy food!”

That's one thing we've got in common.

Spring is also in the air, and I spent Saturday afternoon in the yard, preparing my flower beds, pulling weeds, and watering. “You wasted all that water,” Sport said when he saw it was raining the next morning. True enough. I was also sore from all that squatting. I still need to spend many more hours out there, but I’m not sure how I’ll fit it in – Sport’s got soccer games and piano contests every Saturday until the end of May, and LegoGuy has his church youth activities and orchestra competitions. I’m getting too old for this. I’d love to hire someone to help me – preferably a young latino man who looks a lot like Antonio Banderas.

With Grandma as my role model, I think I'm going to refuse to let the aging process kill my spirit. I’ll refuse to wear a hat in the sun, embrace my gray hair, and look at each wrinkle as a badge of honor. I’ll squat in the mud, eat spicy foods, and occasionally grope my gardening assistant.

"Mmmm, spicy!"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Book fever

Recently, I got to do one of my favorite things: recommend a favorite book to a friend. As luck would have it, Gypsy found the author to be just as hilarious as I'd promised. We went back and forth, sharing our favorite parts and lines. I couldn't stop laughing. Afterwards, I emailed SO and had him order me a hardbound copy of Naked by David Sedaris. I decided it had to be in my collection.

I don't buy books very often. As a librarian, I prefer to participate in the public sharing of reading materials. I enjoy being part of the process and I enjoy being an end user. If I can get it at the library, I don't like to spend money on books (except for leather-bound classics -- I love the weight and feel of a gorgeous Easton Press edition); I hate clutter and most paperbacks. When I come across something that I really, really love, then I'll buy it in hardback. This doesn't happen very often, so I think David should be flattered that his book qualified, not that I'll ever hear from him. He lives in France, you know.

Anyway, back to Naked. I checked the book out after cataloging it because it looked like a good read. Tucked into bed one night, my beloved beside me, I opened to the first chapter and started chuckling. I tried to keep my mirth to a minimum. After all, we have a waterbed and a couple of hearty guffaws is enough to start a ripple effect. Soon enough, I couldn't control myself. I had to read some of the paragraphs aloud.

Normally, this drives SO insane. Heck, it drives me crazy when he reads something out loud to me, because, you know, most of the time what I find to be funny isn't so funny when read out loud and out of context by someone else. But he started laughing, too. It was great. He ended up checking the book out later and thoroughly enjoying it.

Last week, DoOL mentioned a book that had grabbed him and it turned out to be another one that SO and I fought over when I brought it home from the library, Into the wild, by Jon Krakauer. It's not the slightest bit funny but it was gripping, plunging us into a bookreading fever from which there was no escape until the tragic last page was devoured.

After reading FE's latest posting, I decided to weigh in on a couple of books that have gobsmacked me. Anyone else have something to add?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Al Gore, superstar

I have had a brush with greatness.

Last night, LegoGuy and I went to see Al Gore give his now-famous presentation on global warming. Originally scheduled for a smaller venue on the OU campus, it was moved to the enormous Lloyd Noble auditorium at the last minute. Thus, we found ourselves in line with about 7,000 other people, waiting for permission to go inside and grab a good seat.

The line snaked around the building and through the parking lot like a gigantic anaconda. We'd parked near the back of the line and walked over to join our compatriots, giddy with excitement.

"Look at all these Democrats," Lego said.

"This issue appeals to people in both parties. I'm sure they aren't all Democrats," I told him. We stopped to admire a bumper sticker: Frodo failed. Bush has the ring.

The line doubled back behind us toward the front. It looked like it was going to take a very long time to get in, especially if every bag was being searched. However, anarchy was just around the corner. When the doors opened, those in the back of the line (who were really closer in proximity to the front of the line) saw their opportunity and broke rank. The remaining line hesitated for a moment. Should we continue in a civilized fashion? But less than 3 seconds after the end bolted, the entire line dissolved and there was a mad dash for the entrance: a complete breakdown in society. I've never seen anything like it. No elderly ladies were crushed, but there was a mix of dismay and laughter. Cell phones were snapped open; friends were called. "You are not going to believe what just happened..."

With security guards giving only a cursory glance at purses, we were able to get in really quickly. Found some great seats, with a clear view of the podium. They had big screens up so people could see on three sides of the vast arena. I'm telling you, the place was 3/4 of the way full. I sat next to a journalism student and we struck up a conversation, with me giving her some ideas about what to include in her story (but not in a pushy way).

Time went by fairly quickly. We were trying to figure out where Al would enter from -- most likely the bottom right, was my hypothesis. I went up to get some water and it was at that moment that Al Gore burst from the wings at the top of the stadium. I was standing right there! He was sweating already, since it was really warm in Lloyd Noble. One of his secret service men was dabbing at the VP's temple with a handkerchief. I reacted quickly, taking off my lightweight red cotton jacket and tossing it to Al. He shot me a grateful smile, mopped his brow, and threw it back at me. So, I didn't get an autograph, but I did get a little vice-presidential perspiration as a souvenir.

The crowd erupted in applause and standing ovations. We just cheered and cheered. He said he was overwhelmed by such a reception. Who knew he and David Boren were such good friends? Basically, the thing was a rehash of his slide show, which I've already seen twice, but he'd added some newer, even more depressing slides. Famished and blue from the continuing bad news on the global warming front, yet elated by the experience, we snuck out early and went to get something to eat. Proudly, I showed off the sweaty jacket*, but the waiter didn't seem at all impressed.

I'm starting to agree with JrCat, who really thinks Al needs to run for president. He's got a huge fan base.

*Okay, I admit to a tiny bit of embellishment here, but in 7th grade, my sister and I were the lucky recipients of a brush that had been pulled through the sweaty locks of an Elvis impersonator.