Sunday, April 30, 2006

Neurotics Anonymous

Lorraine has tagged me to list 6 neurotic things about myself. I think I may have done this in the past, but I have enough neuroses to wrap around me twice with enough left over to make Woody Allen, so here is a selection:

1. I avoid left turns where there is no traffic light, unless I know I am somewhere there is no traffic. I also can't stand it when Dear Husband, who has no such fear, decides to turn left across multiple lanes of cars going 60+. I usually close my eyes.

2. I'm afraid I won't recognize people I've been introduced to. I'll run across someone I've met and they've changed their hairstyle or their clothes (drat them) and I won't know who they are. I've decided I should act as if I know everybody until proven otherwise.

3. I won't look in mirrors in the dark. Remember Bloody Mary? Pam M., my childhood nemesis who pretended to be a friend when my mom was around, terrified me with stories about looking in mirrors and this apparation called Bloody Mary appearing. Who was Bloody Mary supposed to be, anyway?

4. I'm afraid that some day I will see a ghost. I have a lot invested in not seeing ghosts. I'm convinced that if I ever see a ghost I will be so scared I'll have a heart attack and die on the spot.

5. I don't like being without ready access to water. For instance, I don't like to be in a car without a bottle of water handy, and I don't like being at a mall where I have to find the water fountain (yuck). I also have to have water by my bed at night or I feel anxious. This started in NYC, where I discovered that I needed to drink a lot of water to deal with the pollution or I'd get headaches. Then in Arizona, well, you have to be crazy not to keep water with you at all times there. Every summer in Arizona there's a news story about a tourist who collapses on a trail because he was foolish enough to sprint up Squaw Peak without water.

6. A holdover from working in publishing: I avoid opening and looking at books I've edited. I'm certain I will find mistakes and everyone will wonder what they're paying me for. I'm afraid my mistakes will show up on a list of stupid errors editors make. I've just edited a devotional at my workplace and I dread looking at it. But there's no escape since we'll be using it soon.

Bonus neurosis: I don't like getting manicures. Sometimes my worst fears come true: recently my boss sent us all off for free manicures. What I don't like is having my nails filed. I've only met one manicurist who managed it without rasping my finger tips, which makes me shiver and twitch and writhe inside. In the same vein, I can't stand rubbing my fingers across rough surfaces--not brick, plaster, the carpet, bed linen, not anything. Just thinking about it makes me feel cold and twitchy. I also can't stand to be around when someone else does it, but I sound like a freak blurting out "For heavens sake stop rubbing your hand over the carpet before I'm forced to strangle you!"

I think I'm supposed to tag 6 others. If you read this and you plan to play, leave a comment so that the fun of self-revelation can continue.

Friday, April 28, 2006

RevGals Friday Five: The Joys of Procrastination

This week we reveal our favorite procrastination techniques:

  1. Blogging and surfing other blogs and websites. One site leads to another, and another.
  2. Watching TV and movies. Last night I was sucked into watching a kung-fu movie about mah jong. You wouldn't think that mah jong could be so exciting, but it was smashing. And I have no idea how it's played or what any of those little tiles mean.
  3. Reading fiction. Murder mysteries, if I allow them into the house, will eat every spare moment as well as those I can't spare.
  4. Emailing a cheery message to my husband. That is so much more fun than my to-do list.
  5. Looking through catalogues. I love catalogues. Everything from Ikea to The Oriental Trading Company. I particularly like catalogues from The Learning Store and SchoolBox. I never buy anything, but I so enjoy looking at them.
If I have a particularly undesirable task, I will even procrastinate by doing laundry. There's always plenty of it, and I can always say to myself that it needs to be done. Of course, most of the time I procrastinate doing laundry by blogging, watching TV, reading, etc.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

DramaQueen Speaks Her Mind

Today Dear Husband was looking over his anataomy and physiology textbook, and because DramaQueen was sitting next to him, he started showing her parts of the body: "Here's the heart, and these are the kidneys." She showed a mild interest, asking what some organs were. Then Dear Husband turned the page to the reproductive organs. "These are the ovaries. Do you know what they do?" Then followed a very basic description of eggs and sperm meeting to make babies.

DramaQueen looked out at us with an odd expression on her face and stated calmly, "I think I've heard enough."

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bloggers in Dreamland

Have you ever had a dream in which another blogger appeared, someone you know only from the blogosphere?

And by “dream” I mean something completely innocent, so don’t get your hopes up.

I’ve been meaning to recommend some of my favorite blogs, and it just happens that one of my favorite bloggers showed up in a dream:

I was in a Medieval country, probably France, and I and my comrade were running from the royal guard. I’m not sure what we had done, if we had stolen a loaf of bread or tried to overthrow the monarchy, but whatever it was, we were in deep trouble. The guards finally cornered us, and the exit we took shot us straight into the castle dungeons, where everyone was awaiting their dinner of roasted newt. I’m not sure what a newt is, but my dream newt looked like a rat. The prison guards were doing a comedy routine for a spot of entertainment, which gave us hope that we could suborn them into helping us.

At this point Firecracker let out a wail, so I never found out if we managed to escape.

My comrade was Augustus, from Liberal Christian Front Parlor. Augustus, if you happen to read this, what do you think we did to piss off the government of France?

And fellow travelers, if you are interested in progressive Christianity, you should definitely check out his blog.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cheese and Whine

Since I’m in the mood to rant about everything that irritates me, let me address a children’s book that DramaQueen is currently reading, Who Moved My Cheese for Kids. I’ll state up front that I loathe Who Moved My Cheese. I’m pretty cheesed off (ha ha ha) that the author made oodles of money out of delivering this earth-shaking message: “Change is scary but you need to get used to it and not blame other people when things change but instead you should be proactive and get off your butt.”

Wow, my life is transformed.

Basically, this is a corporate inspirational poster in book form and I bet that corporations across the country hand it out with pink slips.

Given that it’s so simplistic that even a corporate executive can digest it, you would think that it would be right on target for a kids’ book. What a kid is supposed to make of “Smell the cheese so you know how old it is” I’m not sure. Actually, I’m not sure what to make of it. Now’s the time to dump your low-wage job and move on? Now’s the time to dump your not-so-fresh low-wage employees and find fresher cheaper ones?

And then of course there’s the message “Don’t blame others for moving the cheese.” I gather that means “Don’t blame me if I had to let you go in the downsize. Life’s a bitch so deal.” It’s America and there’s always enough cheese to go around as long as you aren’t one of the lazy mice who sits around and whines when Cheese Station C runs out of cheese instead of being a forward thinking mouse and striding forward boldly in search of new cheese in foreign markets. It’ll taste even better than the old cheese, and will be cheaper, too.

I just thought of an alternate title: I Just Moved Your Cheese: So Suck It Up!

As one reviewer put it: “Spencer’s book puts the onus for adapting to change on those who have it imposed on them instead of those who impose it.” It’s good to learn early how the system works.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

Today someone I know mentioned that he was praying for his son to fail at his current occupation. His son is a musician. This occupation is, in his opinion, un-Christian, and the music the band plays is also awful and un-Christian. Oh, and it protests war, which is also bad for some reason. Now, if the boy was singing about God and nice Christian things, like holiness and how Jesus died for us and heaven is a cummin and playing nice wholesome venues like churches, there would be no problem.

I admit that when I heard this I was so startled I almost started crying. But no one hesitated to pray for him to be taken out of the godless environment of rock music. I prayed for his protection, which was the only thing I could think of.

I’ve listened with some astonishment to similar opinions of popular music. Some people gave up their music collections when they converted and never listed to rock music again. One person mentioned bonfires of CDs.

I. don’t. get. it.

Give up The Rolling Stones to listen to Michael Card?

I think not.

There’s more true religious feeling in Sympathy for the Devil than there will ever be in My God is Awesome. One talks about the problem of evil in an imaginative way with great musical finesse; the other is, well, self-congratulatory pious dreck from the la la land of happy shiny Christians.

I don't want to downplay the dangers of the lifestyle, which has many pitfalls I have not doubt, or the misogyny and other reprehensible sentiments found in some music, but the dismissal of incredible, fabulous, creative works of genius because they aren’t “christian” makes me so very ill.

And I’m going to stop there, because my heart is still sore for this young man but being angry, resentful, and critical doesn’t help anything.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Real Gospel of Judas

And on a lighter note, from Gladly Suffering Fools, (be sure to stick around and read more of his posts, because he’s hilarious), I bring you:

From the Gospel of Judas, Chapter 27, Verses 19-29.19 Jesus pulled Judas aside at the gym and said unto him, "Did you tell the Romans about my plan to have you 'betray' me?" while making air quotes around the word "betray." 20 Judas replied unto him, "The other disciples are all over me like stink on lepers. I have not been able to get two freaking seconds alone."21 Then Jesus said, "What we need is a distraction." 22 And Judas said unto him, "You mean like an explosion? Or nude cheerleaders?" 23 Jesus shook his head slowly and said, "Um, no. I shall tell the other disciples to organize a celebration of the coming of springtime. 24 They shall hide colored eggs, both real and plastic, among the lilies of the field and the trees of the hills and the barbecue grills near the picnic tables.25 "All the children of the land shall look for the eggs and rejoice at the bounty contained therein. 26 And their parents shall call out, 'Lo! Remember to share! There are plenty for everybody!' and 'I think you've had enough candy for now!' 27 The disciples will be so busy running the celebration and dealing with the parents and the insurance underwriters that they won't notice you've gone to scheme with the Romans."28 Judas said, "Okay, just as long as I don't get in any trouble." 29 And Jesus said, "Relax, man. History is written by the winners."

Spiritual Doldrums

It’s Holy Week, and just about every blog I visit seems to mention it. I’ve been thinking about my lack of any spiritual community, discipline, or enthusiasm. I am not the kind of person who is filled with spiritual joy. Christianity is something I assent to because it has pursued me, but emotionally I remain distant. I cannot imagine getting teary-eyed over Christ’s sacrifice. I can’t say that I ever have. It is satisfying as a pattern, as a plan, as whatever, but I have no emotional connection to it. The world is broken, we are all broken, redemption is needed, redemption is provided. The birth of my children I can respond to—God becoming incarnate, dying, and rising again, well, He is God, after all. When anything is possible, is anything truly astounding?

Friday, April 07, 2006

RevGals Friday Five (uh, Seven): Performing Arts

This week we're talking about memorable performing arts experiences. Once I started I couldn't stop at five, but sadly these experiences have definitely tapered off since leaving New York City. I really must make more of an effort.

1. In college I saw a production of The Canterbury Tales in which the actors also served as props, becoming part of the landscape or a piece of furniture, as needed. When the action called for a river, an actor with long blond hair leaned over and her hair became the rippling water. A fiery hot poker was played by a man wearing a red sock.

2. I saw the dance troupe Mommix perform a piece called Baseball. Momix is incredible, and if they ever come to your town (or Pilobolus, a troupe that is somehow related to Momix) try to go. They do things you would not thing possible. This particular dance was funny and amazing and athletic. In one sequence they danced in full baseball regalia with bats. I also remember a naked woman dancing in a giant baseball mitt (this sounds cheesy, which it was, because it was poking fun a bit).

3. In the 90s I saw a production of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore at the Papp Public Theater in New York that I liked a lot. They set the story in Fascist Italy. Definitely not flawless acting, but since it is a Jacobean drama, it was violent and excessive and ran pell-mell over taboos (Giovanni falls in love with his sister Annabella, who wants to stop bonking her brother and marry, provoking violent rage in brother). I looked up the production online—it starred Val Kilmer, whose name I recognized at the time, and Jeanne Tripplehorn, whom I did not know at the time. Although I have a suspicion that someone else played the role of Annabella the night I saw it, and the phrase “Sharon Stone’s little sister” stays in my head). The final scene was memorable: Something nasty (perhaps the title) written in blood on the wall of Annabella’s bedroom.

4. I saw Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia during it’s first run in NYC. If you don’t know the play, it flips between the present and Sidley Manor in 1809, where the 18th century gardens are being transformed into a more romantic style. The main protagonist is Thomasina, a young math genius who has somehow anticipated chaos theory. I loved the way science and art bounced off each other. Thomasina’s story was haunting. She had these incredible ideas that bumped up against the limits of science (no computers), and because she was a girl, her interest in mathematics would have to give way to marriage and family. But she doesn’t even get that far, because we learn at the end that she dies in a fire the very night depicted in the last scene we see with her (she dances with her tutor).

5. This isn’t strictly speaking one of the performing arts, but I saw Jeannette Winterson give a reading. I find that a lot of readings are pretty boring. The authors go into “Public Reading” cadence (for poets, that means that each line goes dowwwwnnnnn). But you could tell that Winterson had been groomed to be an evangelical preacher. I guess she was reading from Sexing the Cherry, which had just been released at the time, but I don’t remember. It didn’t really matter what she was reading, but how she read it.

6. Recently we saw an experimental puppet show about the Epic of Gilgamesh. The show started with the actors, dressed in fatigues, singing shape note songs in the lobby. The puppeteers, who were visible at all times, also served as narrators, and sometimes as actors in the drama. They used a variety of puppetry styles from around the world. There was even puppet sex—very memorable, and rather startling I think if you were anywhere within firing range (I leave this to your imagination). One of my coworkers (who unfortunately has left and now I don’t have anyone to talk with about books who won’t get all prissy) recommended it because it engaged the Big Themes of redemption and death.

7. DramaQueen recently performed in The Foot Book for Dr. Suess Day at our local library. She was Big Feet. Or maybe Fuzzy Fuzzy Fur Feet. It’s not just me—the performers were also a little confused.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Knitting, ringworm, nurses, and pink frilly things

Well, I armed myself with some needles, yarn, and a copy of Knitting for Dummies and I Can't Believe I'm Knitting. I've been practicing, creating untidy little swatches for the cats to play with. I am at last catching on to the basics.

I would not, by the way, recommend I Can't Believe I'm Knitting, which someone recommended on Amazon. It's okay for learning the knit stitch and the purl stitch, but it's starter project involves two colors of yarn! I can barely handle one. Knitting for Dummies takes the by far better approach of having you practice making ribbing, seed stitches and bobbles and all sorts of things. Later you can use your swatches in a project.

I think I still want to take a class.

Other news: Daycare called me yesterday to tell me Firecracker has ringworm and I should take her away for medical intervention. So I had to take her to the pediatrician this morning, who rolled her eyes and told me that daycares and schools overeact to everything, and just slap on some Lotrimin and a bandage and trot her right back to daycare. Oh, and no need to burn the bedding. Whew.

Firecracker's asthma is also acting up. She coughs like an old man. So we went through a round of prednisone, which made her a shade tetchy. Given that she's already pretty fiery, that week was not exactly pleasant.

DramaQueen is gearing up for the end of year recital. She's in a drama class and gets to play a sprite or something like that in Sleeping Beauty, which is going to mishmash all the dance and drama classes together into one performance. No doubt they've had to manufacture all sorts of roles to cover the whole academy. I'm happy to say that for the 60 dollars we had to shell out, the costume is very pretty and guaranteed to entertain the cats. The academy is wise to not to hand them out ahead of time. We've only been allowed to see a picture. Last weekend DramaQueen asked me why the academy's gift shop only sold stuff for ballerinas. The shop is full of pink dance skirts, pink t-shirts, pink filmy scarves, pink bags to hold ballet shoes, pink poodles, tiaras, china tea sets, and fairy dust (overpriced glitter). Firecracker sussed out a backpack with a train on it. It's the kind of shop that makes you want to go out an buy a chemistry set and some monster trucks for your girls to play with. I admit, though, that every week I look at the jewelry with a covetous eye. It's exactly the sort of place I would have pitched a tantrum in as a little girl, insisting that I had to have the china tea service. And the fairy wand.

Dear Husband has decided to see if nursing is in his future. This is what comes of doing unexpectedly well in math, which he was convinced would defeat him. He has decided to sally forth and conquer Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry to see how he likes it. Dear Husband is a very proactive sort, so he has already put in his application to a nursing school, joined an online student nurses group, and signed up to volunteer at a hospice.

Meanwhile, I don't seem to have a spiritual life. I pray, or rather, chatter, to God, but I can't say that I take much time for contemplation. Well, for me contemplation is just one step away from sleep.