Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meanest mom

Apparently, I now qualify for "the meanest mom". My crime? Limiting my children's access to the TV. And the Xbox. And the computer.

The boys feel it is their right and privilege to be entertained every waking hour of the day. Reading is not acceptable. They won't draw. They rarely stay in their rooms to mess with board games. If it doesn't come with flashing lights and sounds, they won't bother. Only when the TV is off limits do they turn on their stereo and listen to music.

It's the heat that is really exacerbating the problem. In the evenings, they'll go outside to play soccer, but ten days of 100+ weather has us all dragging. Even when the sun is setting, it's miserable outside. The boys say it's too hot to kick the ball out on the street. The pavement feels like a griddle.

I feel like I'm being held hostage by the TV. I know I'm weird. I have sound sensitivity issues. After working all day, I don't want to hear exploding bombs, irritating theme music or mindless role-playing dialog. I just want it to be quiet. Sometimes, I want to listen to classical music. Sometimes I want to read in my favorite chair. But I can't do any of that when the boys are entertaining themselves.

So I demand they turn it off. They throw tantrums. Call me mean. Roll their eyes. Say it's stupid. Accuse me of being unreasonable. Finally, the teen will storm off to a friend's house. The other will go into his room to listen to music and thumb through a soccer magazine. Then, it's quiet.

Except for the high-pitched whine of my neighbor's attic fan. Once the din of the TV is gone, that's what I hear. Sighing, I'll turn on my newest aquisition: a metal fan that hums like a small-engine plane. It masks all other sounds with blessed white noise.

Ahhhhh, quiet. Finally.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lounge wear

Dear Target shopper,

Don't. Just don't. Yes, I'm talking to you. You, the man in the lounge pants and the shirt with the sleeves conveniently cut out. You, wearing flannel in the middle of summer, multi-colored toasters winging their way across the grain of the fabric. Do you realize that when you raise that cup of Starbucks coffee to your lips, the arms of your "shirt" flop conveniently in the breeze, exposing the bulge of your belly? Your armpits appear to be dueling black holes, threatening to engulf nearby children with tentacles of hair. At least put on a pair of cutoffs. Sheesh!


Your fellow Target shopper

I know that grocery shopping is one of the least pleasurable activities on earth. I really hate the frantic search for relatively healthy meals to sate the appetites of my growing children. I'm all for embracing individuality and eschewing formality, but I can't stomach the increasingly bizarre outfits of some of the people I see at the grocery store.

I'm not in favor of putting on a dress, hose, heels, and full make-up like the character of Betty in one of my favorite tv shows. I think a pair of sweats, shorts, and a t-shirt are sufficient. But the whole pajama thing has got to stop. The other day I saw someone shuffling about in old lady slippers. Where's our sense of pride, people? Would it kill you to put on a pair of sandals?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Guilty pleasures

At the urging of my friend Thomas, I'm starting up the blog again. Facebook put a real damper on my posting enthusiasm, but I think I can base my entries on status updates and see what happens.

Right now, we are in the middle of watching episodes from the original Star Trek series. A trip to the theater to see the J.J. Abrams reboot got me curious to revisit these blasts from my past. I vividly remember coming home from elementary school and turning on the tv, face pressed to the cool black naugahyde of our family couch, and hearing that familiar refrain: "Space, the final frontier..."

What's even more interesting is recognizing the quality of the scripts involved. Yes, the special effects are cheesy. One of the episodes had Kirk and Spock thrown against the wall of the ship, and the thing buckled like cheap foam board (which it was). For the most part, however, the stories are really good.

And then there's that special relationship between two of the main characters. There is real chemistry among the three main characters, but especially between Kirk and Spock. Curiously, the Kirk/Spock dichotomy led to the birth of slash fiction, and I've read through some of these creative attempts during the last week. Mostly, they are pitiful, with multiple points of view, lots of heavy breathing, and too many adverbs. But it's also hard to stop reading. It's kind of fun, actually.

Author Henry Jenkins explains why this kind of fan-created fiction is so popular, especially among heterosexual women:

When I try to explain slash to non-fans, I often reference that moment in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan where Spock is dying and Kirk stands there, a wall of glass separating the two longtime buddies. Both of them are reaching out towards each other, their hands pressed hard against the glass, trying to establish physical contact. They both have so much they want to say and so little time to say it. Spock calls Kirk his friend, the fullest expression of their feelings anywhere in the series.

Almost everyone who watches that scene feels the passion the two men share, the hunger for something more than what they are allowed. And, I tell my nonfan listeners, slash is what happens when you take away the glass. The glass, for me, is often more social than physical; the glass represents those aspects of traditional masculinity which prevent emotional expressiveness or physical intimacy between men, which block the possibility of true male friendship. Slash is what happens when you take away those barriers and imagine what a new kind of male friendship might look like. One of the most exciting things about slash is that it teaches us how to recognize the signs of emotional caring beneath all the masks by which traditional male culture seeks to repress or hide those feelings.”

As Spock might say, "Fascinating."