family ties

Comsumables #122 Watching: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

This weekend, three of my mom’s cousins piled in a car and drove down from Vancouver to visit her, and honey, they were fabulous. I mean, in every sense, but mostly in a badass lady sense. One of them had a scarf made entirely from silver sequins. Another one of them was rocking a mixed pattern trend like a boss: zebra print shirt under a leopard print cardy. Like, FAB-OOH-LUSSSSSS. They tumbled into the house and proceeded, along with my mom, to have a gab/giggle/guffaw fest like no other. Why do people think old ladies are feeble? All of the old ladies I know are rowdy. Especially in groups.

After going out for a big family dinner, my dude and I left these ladies with the run of our house, and went over to my brother’s house to spend the night. My nephew is twelve and had never seen PeeWee’s Big Adventure before. Obviously I had to remedy this immediately, as I consider that a pop culture emergency, especially for a 12 year old kid with a silly sense of humor and a love for his bike. This not-12-year-old lady dug it too.

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Consumables #120 Reading: The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry

Today I took my mom clothes shopping, which she hasn’t done much of in the past couple of years. I am the best supportive shopper, you guys. If you ever want to go clothes shopping and you need a person to go along and help you get your dress up game going, I swear to you I AM IT. The fashion whisperer. I will get you into what you need. I am so good at it! I am not even going to humblebrag or front or anything. This is a thing I rock. Outfitting. Why am I good at things that no one cares about? This is why no one ever wants me on their apocalypse team.

The other portion of my day off has been consumed with making my nephew a playlist. First of all, the fact that he wants me to do this? COOL AUNT CRED ON THE LINE, PEOPLE. I could accidentally put some 90s poopoo song that I love on there (hello, The Cardigans) and the coolness jig will be up. Careful, me, just BE CAREFUL. Agh, the pressure.

Anyway, so I read this book called The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which was quite enjoyable in a Hallmark Original Movie starring Steve Guttenberg and Lori Loughlin sort of way (what was I just saying about cool cred? Dang). By this I mean that I found it to be completely pandering but with sign posts that, if you love those particular sign posts, are so awesomely done. Are you a person that romanticizes small town bookstores? Are you a person that wants those small town bookstores to be owned and operated by lonely, grumpy people who need their hearts opened up? Are you a person that will tolerate the old plot device where a lonely someone somehow inherits a baby that they never wanted? (How are all these people in stories and movies inheriting babies? Like, I am pretty sure this is not how it works when a baby gets abandoned). Will you want romance to find the baby inheritor? Will one party of this romance have a tragically dead wife? Will you want someone in the story to contract an illness so that you can boohoo into your hanky for a bit? Of COURSE you want these things. We all want these things. Make yourself a cup of General Mills International Coffee, get cozy, and read it.

Consumables #119 Reading: Scandals of Classic Hollywood

When I think about celebrities of old Hollywood, I think about my parents, for many reasons. When I was little I loved hearing stories about them going on dates to see movies together. “I remember the night we went to see From Here to Eternity, you know, the one with Burt Lancaster,” my dad would say, only with his British/Island accent he would say “Beht Lahn-CAH-stah.” All of these old star names I say in my head with his accent. “Mawnt-gumm-ree Clift.” Looking at old photos of when my parents were in their 20s, they seemed glamorous in that old Hollywood way, with my dad’s crisp suits and my mom’s tailored dresses. The feeling of imagining my folks during this time in their life is the same feeling I get when watching old movies. It seems so out of my grasp, so drenched in my own imagination rather than reality, so circumscribed by a narrative that is based on very little real information, and therefore, so dreamy.

Scandals of Classic Hollywood  by Anne Helen Petersen is filled with bite-sized essays about a range of old Hollywood celebrities. At around five-ten pages each, you get a snapshot of a celeb (Judy Garland, Mae West, James Dean) from their childhood to how their career got going to the height of their fame to their death. Each essay focuses on how the publicity machines of the day (mostly the old studio system) dealt with these very human actors when their actual lives deviated from the prescribed norms of the time or the commodified images that they were being paid to promote. The essays are slight but pack in a lot of information, and it’ll make you want to hunker down and give these folks a re-watch. I’m about to fire up some Beht Lahn-cah-stah right now.

Dispute-cake

Since my mom has been in town, she has been making sure that we are all up to our nuts in foodstuffs. My mother is the kind of cook that can turn even the most unpopular dish into something someone will want to bust a grub on and we are rolling in it. For example, there is an Indian dish called karela made out of bitter melon and most people (including me) will tell you it is either (a) an acquired taste, or (b) flipping disgusting. Like, Indian people don’t even like it much. My mom decided to make a batch of bitter melon last week and when my dude and my sis–in-law reached for it at the dinner table I wanted to signal them like “don’t dooooo it, you’ll barfffff, white people can’t handle dat biznissssss” but then they took a taste and boom, they were both shortly thereafter in love with bitter melon. How does my mom do this? Dark evil mama magiks is the only explanation.
This brings us to the subject of what I like to call The Bitter Melon of Saint Nikolas, otherwise known as fruitcake. We can all agree, as a nation, that fruitcake is fooked-cake, right? This is something that the members of the jury need not deliberate on, correct? Well, we were sitting around the dinner table one night and the subject of the fruitcake and its documented grody-factor came up. And my mom looked at us and threw out a challenge. “You may not like fruitcake, but you will love MY fruitcake.” I was skeptical, until I called my sister on the phone and she confirmed that she hates fruitcake, but she loves my mom’s. Can I get a witness? Apparently, yes, my sister will vouch.My mom spent the other morning making fruitcake. Did you know that proper fruitcake takes like three hours to bake? That should tell you something right there. I mean, are we baking a loaf of bread or are we hardening a brick in a kiln? She baked the loaf, she took it out of the oven, she sliced off a warm piece, she handed it to me. I had hope in my heart. I bit into the fruitcake. I looked my moms in the eyeballs. She looked into my eyes, read my panicked face and said “oops! I failed, huh?”THAT SHIT WAS FOUL, PEOPLE. REPUGNANT.You gotta love a lady that will feed her child caca and then say “oops! I failed, huh?” I mean, I have to respect that. My sister, on the other hand, is an effing liar.

2014 Finito

2014 is about to go into the garbage can, fellas! Ima do this year end quiz one more time. Uno, two, trois, go!
1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
I had my first tarot reading ever, and it was full of surprising and auspicious predictions, which I thoroughly do not believe in yet I was stuffing it all right into my brain and heart and guts because even though I am not superstitious, I still don’t need to be suspicious about stuff that is auspicious. That was fun to say. Let’s throw some more in. Wishes, fishes, bootylicious.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I actually, for the first time maybe ever, made resolutions last year! 100 books read? CHECK. 100 movies watched? I think I saw maybe 40 movies this year. Two-fifths CHECK. Take a photo a day? Not every day, but I did take a butt-ton more photos this year. BUTT-TON CHECK. 100 dates with people I like? NO IDEA. How did I think I was going to track that without being psycho? Uncheck.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No? Can that be true? I feel like there have been babies popping out everywhere every year for many years now. Was this the first baby-less year? I sort of can’t believe it. I must be having tot amnesia right now.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, but there was an extremely close call earlier this year that was effing awful and scared the living bloomers off of me.
5. What trips did you take?
All the usual suspects: Michigan, Chicago, New York, Bay Area, Portland. Plus I was dipped in the nutbarn that is Vegas, and I am never to be the same again.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Remember that whole Anger Potato thing I was talking about before? Yeah, I was mad about some stuff earlier this year. Like, stifling mad. I am glad to say that the anger potato has passed, finally, and I am hoping for less of that crap next year.
7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Fixy’s birthday was super duper fun in 2014. We rode a ferris wheel! We had a warm day in January! We went to the opera and watched a lady kick the bucket while singing her face off!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
This year was a rebuilding year, after the shit show of 2013. I took a lot of care of myself and healed a lot. It was slow going.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Eh, I don’t want to talk about it.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really, although I took two falls this year. One was at the beginning of the year when I somehow convinced myself, against my better judgment, that ice skating was a good idea, which anyone can tell you is wrong if you just think about the dumbness of strapping razor like blades to one’s shoes and then locomoting onto ice. I mean, what kind of bull-feces is that? Second time was just a few weeks ago, so apparently 2014 was brought in and out with my ass kissing the floor. What does this symbolize about the year? Hmmm.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Our spontaneous decision to fly to California to see Baryshnikov perform was kind of the best. Aside from being amazing and fun, just the fact that we up and did it last minute when we really had no business doing anything of the sort was pretty sweet.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I had lots of work-related hoo-hah that was celebratory-worthy.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
See: anger potato.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Building our deck! Our lovely, monstrous deck! Our Tyrannosaurus Decks! It was built too late in the year for us to really use, but 2015? YEAR OF DECK PARTAYS AND HOE-DOWNS.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to Chicago to see Alli and Map, my homies who know mes.
16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Cool Kids, by Echosmith, for many reasons.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Way happier. WAY WAY happier. Like, happier times a kajillion.
ii. thinner or fatter? Well, my mom is in town and stuffing my face with baked goods, so probably fatter?
iii. richer or poorer? Richer, just a touch.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Hanging out with my peeps, especially Biogirl. She moved to the burbs and it was like we had to have passports to get to each other.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Mowing my yard.
20. How did you spend the holidays?
With my mom, bro, sister-in-law, nephew, and dude. It was hella fun. I am lucky to have a rad fam.
22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
Oh that dude of mine makes me so gushy.
23. How many one-night stands?
This question is so DUMMMMMMB
24. What was your favorite TV program?
The Good Wife and John Oliver. How can The Good Wife just keep getting better and better like that? How can John Oliver make me laugh at depressing news items? These are the mysteries of tv times.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No.
26. What was the best book you read?
Women in Clothes. I wanted to EAT THE PAGES I loved it so much.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don’t know- lots. I liked Sylvan Esso a bunch. Also that Lemonade song by Danity Kane was sort of my jam for a while. I am sinking in to the new D’Angelo. FKA Twigs. Just, lots.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
The Lunchbox got me squarely in my innards.
29. What did you do on your birthday?
Not much on my actual birthday, but right around then, I took a trip to New York. I cannot even tell you how it made me feel. After the hellish festival of horrible that was 2013, I had been feeling better all year, bit by bit, but right around my birthday was the tipping point in my year where I needed a balls out fantastic time to remember myself fully. My beloved pal Maddie plus my beloved NYC made it happen. The. Best. Time. Sewed up my soul.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The other day I was at a meeting and we had to go around the table and, as an ice breaker, tell the group an interest we have outside of work. One person, clearly a for reals genius, said “sleep.” I was so taken with this person and this answer that I sort of stared at them for a minute. THIS IS A PERFECT ANSWER. I think she thought I was mean-mugging her, I was looking so thunderstruck. Anyway, to answer this question: more sleep.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
I love apparel. This year my fashion concept stayed much the same (I am choosy as a Jiffy-choosing mom when it comes to fashion) but I did expand my repertoire a bit. Like for instance, pants. I branched out into pants! This is a huge broadening of horizon for me. 2014! The year I joined The SIsterhood of the Wearing of Pants!
32. What kept you sane?
My guy. Or maybe he kept me insane. One of those.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating the Kardashians. I have theories upon theories about them. I feel like a Kardashian savant. Literally no one in my life cares about this, much the way you must feel right now.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Events in Ferguson and all intersecting issues around it.
35. Who did you miss?
My dad.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
I met another blog friend- this time it was Aine from the UK, who swung through Seattle and contacted me to say hello. She was a frigging delight.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
Healing takes time and patience, and some things can never heal, but instead may just change. Sounds trite, but it’s true.
38. A song lyric that sums up your year.

Breakfast, by Kelis:

Sometimes it’s just so dark/And I can’t see past my hand
But you’re solid as a rock/You’re everything I love
And I done all that I can/You told me still stand
When it’s said and done/I am just what I am

So much of who we are/Is from who taught us how to love
So much of who we are/Is from who first taught us how to love

This is the real thing
The real thing about us
Welcome to the world

Happy New Year, everyone. Love to you in 2015.

Ho Ho Ho, Homies

Well, well, well, I sort of dropped the bloggie like it was hot these past twelve days, didn’t I? I sugar plum forgot about you, is the truth of it, but I am back, Christmas is over, and we are skidding right into 2015 sooner than you know it! I, for one, am READY FREDDY.

This year was the most Christmas-filled year that I have had in a very long time, due to the fact that my mom has been staying with me and has been hella into the idea of Christmas, so I have squashed my Grinchy tendencies as much as is possible. I have made cookies, I have Christmas shopped, there was Christmas tunage on the stereophonics machine, I decked my dang halls, and I WAS CHEERY I SWEAR I WAS. I even ate chestnuts! So Santa or Elf on a Shelf or whatever other magic Christmas judgmental entity there may be, I have succumbed to you and am a factotum of Christmas company policy. Now that I have run the Christmas gauntlet, I still maintain my Charlie Brown-esque Christmas boredom, but the two things I will toot as Christmas positives are: (1) I got some days off work. Lazy ass sluggish times, wut wut wuh-HUT! and (2) spending lots of family time because I love my fam, wish I had more time with them, and we make each other laugh our guts up.Some may argue that these two things have little to do with Christmas, really, since they can happen anytime, and some may argue that no, Christmas creates the atmosphere by which these things occur more readily. It’s your classic Chicken and Egg and Yule Log conundrum. I leave it to you to debate the facts.I shall try to get back on the blog wagon now, if I am not too drunk off of eggnog (ew) and hot buttered rum (gah) and the like.Christmas, OUT! Let’s close it with my favorite Boxing Day carol, the only song to focus on the day after Christmas.Last Christmas, by Wham!

Ceremonial Serviette Fail

This weekend I hung out with my mom, who tried to convince me of a few things:

That I need to buy more formal napkins. Apparently you cannot wipe your yap poshly enough in my house. The shame! Second, that we should make one batch of Christmas cookies per day until Christmas. This would mean that we would end up with 12 batches of Christmas cookies. Is this the request of a reasonable woman, I ask you? Third, that I need ornaments or a Christmas tree or something. Who is this person that raised me a heathen and where did she put my mother?

Because I love my mama, we have made three batches of cookies in three days and I bought a two-foot rosemary bush that is cut into the shape of a Christmas tree, BUT I DRAW THE LINE ON LOFTY NAPKINS. I have no idea why this is the boundary I am setting, but there you have it.

My bro, sis-in-law, and nephew hung out with us this weekend (I think my nephew may have given Cookie Monster a run for his money the way he was mowing those cookies down- maybe we do need a batch a day?). Because my brothers and sister need to spread out our visits to Michigan, we seldom get to be together with my mom (or when my dad was here) to hang out. So even though my sis and other bro weren’t here, half of our family in one spot is more than I usually get. Made me feel downright holiday-esque. Next thing you know Ima buy doily napkins and go full out Dowager Countess.

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Outta Sight

I just flew back in from Michigan (hi December in Seattle! I love you and your 55 degree weather smooch smooch smoooooch) and I’m feeling totally out of it. There is something about being away from my regular life that is really lovely, but also I get super disoriented when I get back, like I can’t believe that my life here still exists. Is everyone still here? Do my friends still remember me? My job is still there, right? It’s sort of like that episode of Star Trek TNG where Ro (who I like to call Ensign Headband because):

Anyway, she and Geordi don’t reappear from the transporter and no one can see them and they walk around waving at people’s faces going “hello?? Can you see me?? We’re RIGHT HERE!” Well, Geordi does that a little more than Ro because Ro almost immediately thinks they are dead, because she is the closest thing TNG had to a goth. This feeling I have probably illustrates some sort of deep seated fear that if I am out of sight I am out of mind and no one really and truly would miss me if I disappeared, which when I really and truly think about it: MAJOR BUMMER REPORTING FOR DUTY, SIR.

My trip was fast and packed to the gills with errands and chores that my mom needed doing, which is a good thing for me when I am in my hometown because there’s something so different for me now when I go there. My whole life I have loved that place like it was a part of me or my family, which I kind of think it is, and going back always felt like a piece of me was getting re-plugged into my soul socket. (Wow, I went a little Jonathan Livingston Seagull there, didn’t I). But now that my dad is gone, I get a very different feeling from being there, and I would not call it re-energizing. I used to look forward to these trips, and now I actually dread it. So keeping busy while there is key, which I did, and that’s about the best I can do. Sorry, soul socket.

On the up side, I got to spend some quality time with my cousin R who is by far one of my fave ladies ever, I got to help my mom with a bunch of stuff, and I got to bring my mom back to Seattle with me for the holidays. All worth it. Now, on to see if my life still exists. ANYONE THERE? ANYONE?

T-givs, y’all

I have been trying to make “T-givs” happen, as a way to say Thanksgiving. I currently have zero supporters in this campaign.

Here are some things that happened over the weekend.

It snowed and then it froze. Our front yard looks like it is covered in cottage cheese because Seattle doesn’t understand snow, not in its soul.

Although I am a notorious Scrooge, this year we went out and got some lights to string up on our brand! new! deck! Mainly this is because my mom is coming to visit me and she is not a Scrooge. Also this is because we do not have lighting installed on our front stairs yet and I would like for my mother to not trip when she is here (apparently up until now I have been fine with the thought of other people tripping).

I got my hair cut and another stylist besides mine was (I guess?) bored or something because she jumped in to blow dry my hair on one side while my stylist did the other. It was sudden and sort of terrifying, although I can’t say why.

I went to a movie in a theater and when the preview for the new Star Wars came on, the lady next to me started crying from excitement. Like, loud crying. I say this as a fan of the pop cultures: WOW LADY. For the rest of the night I kept thinking about what sort of pop culture event would make me lose my shit. I am sure there is something. I guess I will know when it happens and I promise I will share it.

Fixy and I spent more time in our pajamas than in day-time clothings over four days.

I got texts and messages from two of my friends who had sad news. Two sets of news, actually. One set sad and scary, one set sad and devastating. I called immediately, and basically just wanted to keep calling all damn weekend. Really, what I wanted to do was go over there, but in this case, “there” is across the country so. Being there for friends is hard when you can’t actually be there. All weekend, I was feeling heavy-hearted and distracted.

To help with this, I did what makes me feel better: I squeezed my dude a lot a lot a lot. He did not seem to mind.

Here’s the grainiest ass cell phone photo of me, Fixy, and Delium on T-givs (I am gonna say it until you love it). I do not know why I am making the face that old timers make when shaving with a straight razor.

Thankful for this:

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Younguns seem more refined nowadays

Friday night I went to my bro-ham’s house and spent some time watching my nephew and his friends for Halloween times. They seemed perfectly contented to be in the house, horsing around. They did head out trick or treating eventually but there wasn’t much urgency around it. It made me feel old and decrepit because all I could think about was how in my day (uttering the words “in my day” automatically gets you an AARP card) there was nothing more that my friends and I wanted to do than get out of the house and run amok around the neighborhood. I mean, we LIVED for it. When I was teensy, my dad would take me around from house to house to house. When I was a tween and teen, we just ran around in pods of pals, not even really trick or treating as much as just roaming the streets and yards, groups meeting up and parting and meeting up with other groups. I remember getting chased by a group of friends across a vacant lot that had grown squishy patches of grass that we called the Guacamole Patch, just running our asses off in costume, for no reason at all except to laugh and be giddy. I remember this other time that we ended up on a side street and some kids who had cars parked them all in a circle with their headlights on and their radios playing and we all had a dance party in the middle of the light beams. I am not even trying to start a “them there days were better days” argument. My nephew and his friends were having a hell of a time just maxing and relaxing at his house too, so that’s cool. It just struck me how different my young Halloweens looked, and how ragtag and rowdy it seems. All of my young relatives seem positively genteel compared to the scruffians we were.

Saturday we hung out with Delium for most of the day which is always good because that dude makes me bust a gut. Have a friend who makes you laugh until you have feelings of barfness? If you don’t, try to get one. Later that evening my friend H took me out for birthday dinner (eff birthday month, apparently it is now birthday season) at a fancy restaurant and then for drinkies afterward and the conversating was flowing and plentiful. Friends who will listen to your dumb jibber jabber and treat it like it is a goddamn Ted Talk are also a delightful thing.

Sunday (after some steadfast, dedicated sleeping we did with that extra hour of nighttime. I mean WOO WEE our sleeping was almost pornographic in its hardcoreness) was chore day, correspondence day, home improvement day. We built a hand rail for our front yard steps and put that in (and by we I mean mostly he but I got in there a little and made two supportive trips to the hardware store so that counts for something) because now that it’s dark around the clock I would love it if I didn’t die on my own front stairs.

I had signed up to help a friend who recently had some serious health stuff going on by taking her family dinner on Sunday night- a bunch of us are rotating the days. I bought her a delicious pre-made meal that she could heat up. It was from a really nice place and had good natural ingredients (just saying, I didn’t buy her no Hungry Man frozen dinner or anything janky) but there was a part of me that felt like I should have cooked up something myself, because the effort to do that seems more loving? Or because buying something seems like phoning it in? I do not think of myself as a person who does a lot of unnecessary judging of myself but I had a little twinge this time. I had to remind myself that the judgey self-talk just makes the situation about me at a time when it so isn’t about me. I got something my friend needed and I objectively knew she would find it helpful and kind. Sometimes you have to tell yourself to shut up, is basically the lesson I re-learned. I may still act dumb sometimes but at least I know when to tell myself to shut it a little more often, so that’s progress.

That’s my weekend roundup! I hope you are having a gorgeous day. Later, Mr. and Ms. Potaters.