Thursday, September 13, 2012

Refuge of the lazy

... or as it's also known, the numbered list.

1. We spent all of August doing a community theater production of "Annie." I say "we" because while G was actually performing in the show, I was working stage crew: moving scenery, setting props and helping the grown-up actors get into their costumes. With 16 performances over four weeks, it was a huge time commitment, but it was fun.

2. Now, G's rehearsing at the same theater for another show, which runs late October through mid-November. I'm a little doubtful about how this is going to mesh with school - rehearsals don't generally go past 9 pm, but during "Annie" the show itself ended at 10, and with the time it took to get out of costume and makeup, plus the drive, we often didn't get home until 10:45. She can go to bed at 11 and still get up on time, but it'll mean having every bit of homework finished before the 6 pm call. However, she can be very motivated when she wants something, so she'll probably figure out a way to fit it all in.

3. Speaking of school, it started a week and a half ago, and all seems to be well so far. She's in eighth grade this year and is taking four honors classes - English, physical science, U.S. history and Algebra I - plus concert choir and PE. The algebra class actually counts as high-school credit, which is nice because it'll let her get the college math requirements out of the way faster, hopefully freeing up some time in her senior year for other things. I would be extremely surprised if she picked either a major or a career in any of the STEM fields, valuable though they are - she does well in those subjects and is in the school's high-achiever program for math and science, but the arts are her real passion. (No, I'm not going to steer her away from them, and yes, I'm prepared to help her out financially for a long, long time.)

4. I think that's it for now. It's been a long, hot summer (and it's not over yet; the high is supposed to hit 97 tomorrow) and my brain feels drained!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Life, don't talk to me about life

Last night I took G to see Hot Chelle Rae. It was her first real concert and she loved it - she turned to me afterward and said "I'm hoarse from all that screaming and singing," and I said "That's the sign of a good show." I actually kind of like HCR even though I'm clearly at least 15 years older than the target demographic (doesn't hurt that the lead singer is hot), and I knew a few of their songs well enough to sing along, so it was fun for me too. Cold, though - one day I'll learn that even in July, it's chilly outdoors at 10 pm.

On a slightly related note, I've been thinking lately about what people mean when they talk about "having a life." To me, there are all sorts of different lives, all equally valid. If you spend your time going to your kids' soccer games and ballet lessons, that's a life. If you're a musician in a band and you tour 10 months out of every year, that's a life. If you dress up as a cartoon pony and go to conventions, that's a life. If you wander through museums alone and sit under a tree in the park to eat your lunch, that's a life. If you attend snooty parties and disparage the wine, that's a life. Whether you're married or single, have kids or no kids, cook fries at McDonalds or teach law at Harvard, that is your life, and no one but you should get to decide whether it "qualifies" as one according to any external standard.

As you may have guessed, this is on my mind because I get a fair amount of judgment concern from people who think I don't have a life. This baffles me because as far as I'm concerned, I do have one. I work and look after our home and pets. I take G to school and activities. I go to movies and plays and concerts. I shop, read, listen to music. When I can afford to, I travel. It sounds like a life to me, but maybe people don't recognize it as a "real" one because most of it only includes me and G, or because I don't fit the typical suburban social mold, or because I don't do things like camping and barbecuing that other people love (nothing wrong with those things, they're just not for me). And it's not that I need anyone's approval to like what I like and do as I please, but it would be  nice not to get the thinly veiled pity from people who think my life is defective or nonexistent because it isn't enough like theirs. Or almost as annoying, the overly hearty approval when I do happen to do something they deem valuable. "Oh you did X? Good for you! I'm so glad you got out." Uh...I wasn't paroled from federal prison, I just met some friends for breakfast, but thanks.

Anyway, it's Friday night, so I suppose I should go and do something people with no life do, like watch Star Trek and knit sweaters for my cats*...except even Star Trek-watching, sweater-knitting cat ladies have lives**, goddammit!

*Actually I'm going to watch The Bourne Supremacy and maybe bake some cookies.
**I bet there's a Star Trek Cat Sweater meetup group out there somewhere.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


G and I have both been sick for days with a virus I've dubbed the Venusian Swamp Plague. It starts with a sore throat, then rapidly evolves into all sorts of other nastiness, including sneezing, coughing, dripping, congestion, and a fever that lingers on and on. She's about a day behind me in the course of the disease, but we were both too ill on Sunday and Monday to do anything but huddle in my bed together, drink hot beverages, and watch Netflix.

By Tuesday, I was still weak, and I sounded like a whole pond full of frogs every time I opened my mouth, but was well enough to do a few hours of work. G spent the time nursing her cough, watching more Netflix, and feeling bitter that our tickets for the midnight Spider-Man premiere had gone to waste the night before. (We went to the first IMAX showing today, and I think that mostly made up for the disappointment.) This sort of thing should not be allowed in the summertime.

In other news, I've been in the mood to read time-travel stories for some reason. Right before I came down with the Swamp Plague, I read The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, which started out strong but ended up being not so great, with virtually no character development and a plot that was alternately rushed and snail-slow. After that I read Robert Heinlein's The Door Into Summer, which was much better in every way, but had a happy-ending romance that I found deeply creepy. Then just for nostalgia, I read Heinlein's Have Space Suit, Will Travel, which has nothing to do with time travel, but which I remembered reading and enjoying when I was around 10 or 11. Next up I have Replay, and after that I'm wide open, so hit me with your time-travel fiction recs if you've got 'em.

I've also been working my way through the original Sherlock Holmes stories - just finished A Study in Scarlet and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and started The Sign of Four, featuring the introduction of good old Mary Morstan. I quite like Mary in the Guy Ritchie films; not so sure how I feel about her here, but we'll see as I get further into it. I'm on vacation until next Monday, so I should have plenty of time for reading.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's been a while

What have I been up to since February? Let's go in reverse order:

 1. Our cat Malcolm, normally a chow machine, last Sunday stopped eating and started throwing up all over the house. On Tuesday, I came home at lunch to check on him and found him looking so sickly that I packed him up and took him to the vet, where X-rays revealed that he was constipated to the point of total blockage. After three enemas, two manual disimpactions*, one night in the kitty hospital and $650 in bills, he came home feeling better, but looking traumatized by everything that had happened to him. I'm supposed to be giving him canned food with a laxative mixed in, but the little bugger won't eat it, making me worry that we're going to be back there any day now.

2. When I was leaving the vet's office, all distracted by thoughts of the ailing cat, I put my Droid phone on top of the car for just a minute while I looked for my keys. If you guessed that I forgot it was there and drove away, congratulations; you win a chocolate cake and a great big kiss on the lips**. I have another three months until I'm eligible for an upgrade, and since Verizon refused to move that date and I'm not going to pay eight hundred bucks for a new phone, I'm temporarily stuck with an old flip phone that used to belong to G. At first I thought "well, it won't be so bad, I used to get along just fine without a smartphone," but then I realized how much I depended on that stupid device. Not only did I use it to text all day long (texting: the saving grace for people who hate to talk on the phone) but it was my camera and my alarm clock, plus I read Kindle books and watched movies on it. I think the hardest thing will be getting used to carrying a separate camera again - I do own a pretty nice digital camera, but have almost never used it because the phone did just as good a job. Oh well, first-world problems, right?

3. In more pleasant news, G tried out for the spring musical at school and won a part in the ensemble. At first she was a little disappointed not to get a speaking role, but I pointed out that it was still an accomplishment: her school's drama department doesn't do "everyone gets a part," so being in the ensemble means that she beat out about half the people who auditioned in order to get there, plus she's a seventh-grader and nearly all the speaking roles went to eighth and ninth graders. She cheered up after that and is very excited to start rehearsals next week.

4. Over spring break, we went to New Mexico to spend some time with my side of the family. It was a nice visit and a more or less uneventful trip, except that we were five hours late getting home because the train was delayed. Luckily, I had caved in and upgraded to a "roomette" in a sleeping car on the return journey, so at least we were comfortable. (We laughed so hard while trying to follow the instructions for converting our seats into bunks that I thought we were going to get thrown off the train. OMG, the comedy.) G asked if we could take the train up the Pacific coast next, and I've heard it's a beautiful trip, so I'm looking into that for sometime this summer.

 5. Before that trip, I took G to see the re-release of Titanic in 3D. I hadn't seen it in at least 10 years, and she had never seen it all (though she recognized some scenes, like the "flying" one at the bow of the ship, because they've been parodied in other shows/movies), so we were both coming to it relatively fresh. I remember liking it more when it was originally released - the clunky dialogue bothered me a lot this time, I suppose because I'm older and more jaded, or possibly just because I know more about writing now than I did then - but I did still enjoy it for the grand over-the-top spectacle it is. G loved the costumes, but otherwise thought it was just okay. She's seen the episode of Being Human where George's dad, masquerading as a ghost, suggests that watching Titanic is part of his "unfinished business," so as we were leaving the theater I told her, "Well, you can cross that one off your to-do list now" and we both laughed.

6. G was invited to join her school's advanced math-and-science program for honor students. It's a great opportunity, but we nearly fell over laughing (again) at the part of the brochure that said "In 9th grade, students will complete weekly math projects expressing concepts through other mediums, such as art and song." I wish I could sing you the "I Love Numbers" song that we made up on the spur of the moment, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) you'll just have to imagine it. Lots of jazz hands were involved.

7. I finally went to the optometrist for the first time in six years and got a full physical for the first time in at least seven or eight. I was figuring all sorts of things would have gone wrong in that interval, but I got a clean bill of health, aside from the usual warning about my cholesterol. Why I always have borderline high cholesterol when I haven't eaten meat since 1992 is anyone's guess, but I do. Sigh.

 Aaaand I think that's all the news that's fit to print.  

*The vet and I conferred on the phone between the first and second disimpactions (you haven't lived until you've discussed your cat's fecal issues within earshot of your colleagues) and she said she was going to try sedating him for the next go-round because "he didn't like it very much." You don't say!

**Not really.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Silence of the clams

I wasn't born with a naturally perky, outgoing personality. I'm not shy; I like people fine; I'm just not chatty unless I know someone fairly well, and sometimes not even then. The up side of this is that people confide in me because I'm a good listener. The down side is that a lot of them have said, "Wow, when we first met, I thought you totally hated me!"

(Did I slash your tires? Spit at your feet? Eye you meaningfully while spraying myself with Eau de Loathing cologne? No? Then I probably didn't hate you.)

Because I've been told this so many times, after an ordinary interaction like the passing chat I had with a neighbor yesterday evening, I walk away all paranoid, thinking "Did I seem friendly/happy/enthusiastic enough? Did I end the conversation too soon? Shit, did I forget to smile? I'll bet I forgot to smile. Great! Now they think I hate them. They're going to point out my house to visitors and say, 'That's where the witch lives.'"

Long story short, if you meet someone who's not bubbling over with small talk, please don't think they're snobs or jerks or that they wish you would die in a fire. They're probably just like me and will talk when they have something to say.