Remembering Grandma

February 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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GrandmaO

Grandma O. passed away last night. She would have been 83 this month. Her health had recently taken a turn for the worst, and she was going to need round the clock care. Then she had a bad fall. And then it was her time. We saw her as much as we could the past few years as her health declined. I’m so happy all of us made it out to see her last September. All of the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids were there. It was a good day.

I have so many great memories of her, especially from my childhood. The first grandchild typically gets to pick the name grandparents go by. Not so for me. Until I was about five, I called all of my grandmothers by the color of their hair. I had “Grandma with the Black Hair” (Grandma Weddle) and “Grandma with the White Hair” (Great Grandma Arth). “Grandma with the Gray Hair” quickly nixed that. She suggested “Grandma O” because her last name, Overhuls, was hard to pronounce. And it stuck.

Grandma O. was an elementary school teacher, and she always had summers off. She and Grandpa Jack drove a motorhome, traveling all across the country on their vacations. We thought that was so cool. We gave all the neighborhood kids a tour of it once when our grandparents came to visit us. I believe that was the same time that we all went camping at Truman Lake. I remember we slept in the tent and the grandparents slept in the motor home. One night we had quite a rude awakening followed by a mad dash for the motorhome in the pouring rain.

We visited Grandma in Cincinnati about every other year or so. I remember Grandma played the piano. There’s this great picture of me playing piano with her when I was about three. They had a house with a screened in back porch. We all used to sit back there and play dominoes and card games like Oh Hell and Bunko. She drank iced coffee long before Starbucks made it trendy. She had this throaty laugh that I’ll never forget. I loved that laugh.

I remember visiting Cincinnati for Christmas one year and arriving just in time to throw up all over grandma’s couch. And the last time I visited her in her condo, Liam threw up all over her carpet. Funny how things come full circle.

So many great memories. Ones I’ll never forget. Rest easy, grandma, wherever you are. 

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Parenting in Uncharted Territory

July 1, 2012 at 9:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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You know that scene in Caddyshack where the kid talks about the divisions of middle and upper class? All the caddies are in the lower or middle middle class, and all of the country clubbers comprise the upper middle, and lower upper through upper upper classes. For some reason that idea has always stuck with me, and growing up I would say our family fell somewhere in the lower middle or middle middle. My hubby, on the other hand, would have fallen in the upper middle, I would say. And with that come some key differences in the ways we were raised.

In our family, my sister and I never got toys unless it was A) our birthday or Christmas; or B) purchased at a summer garage sale. And for my sister with a July birthday, sometimes it was both. My mom clipped coupons religiously, and we only ate out once every two weeks. And that was always drive thru fast food. On very, very special occasions we’d go to Stephenson’s with the family. But for the most part we didn’t have much experience dining in nice restaurants. Family vacations were always taken in places we had family to bunk with, and we always took the family car. Our family cars were always used, and usually in questionable working condition. I have this vivid memory of the car dying on the highway, and my mom pleading with my father to just, please, make it past the bridge we were on so we’d be on a proper shoulder. By the time I went to college, I’d only been on a plane twice in my life. I had a cousin who sent me hand-me-downs (from the upper middle class, of course), and then those hand-me-downs would get passed to my sister. My mom would sign us up for occasional classes – swim lessons, vacation bible school, dance through the parks and rec, tumbling, acting lessons – but for the most part, our time was our own. I never remember being ferried from one activity to another like some of the other kids I went to school with. (With the exception of one very full summer when we had swim lessons, vacation bible school, and girl scout day-camp. I think my mom vowed never to book us that full again. For all our sakes!) But for the most part, our free time was our own. I remember taking my bike out in the morning and not coming back until dusk. I remember watching the older kids catch crawdads in the creek at the end of our street. And when they bulldozed the woods to build a subdivision and shopping center, I remember exploring it with my best friend, Helenmarie. When it snowed, we’d take our sleds to the hill and go up and down, totally unsupervised. We wouldn’t come home until our feet got numb. And most vividly, I remember using my imagination. I was a princess in the forest. I was an explorer charting new lands. I knew every inch of my neighborhood. We knew all the neighbors on our street. We played with the neighborhood kids. In junior high and high school, I had to use my allowance, earned by doing household chores, to pay for school lunch. Otherwise I was expected to brown bag it. If I wanted to go to a concert, I would suck it up and bring PBJ’s to school until I had enough saved up for a ticket. When I got my license, I borrowed my dad’s car when I wanted to go out. I never had my own car until I paid for it myself, in cash, my sophomore year of college.

I can’t speak for all of James’ childhood, but from what I gathered, his was very different from mine. They took vacations involving planes and hotel rooms. Cruises, even. Being an introvert, I doubt he was signed up for many activities, but I knew a lot of more well-off kids who went from soccer to flute lessons to cheerleading day after day. I have no doubts he got toys outside of the birthday/Christmas window. And while he drove a beat up Oldsmobile when I met him in college, it was a car given to him by his grandparents, and gas was paid for by this parents.

Now I find myself in the fortunate situation of raising a child in the upper reaches of middle class. I find myself at once thrilled to be able to buy almost anything my child wants when he wants it, but guilty for even thinking I should. It may not have been easy for my mom to deny my sister and I things, but she had to out of necessity. And in my mind, that would be easier than what I have to do now – deny it for his own good, even though we have the means to pay for it. It’s much harder than I ever imagined it would be. And we buy him way more things than we probably should. We don’t frequent garage sales. We have very few hand-me-downs. And I can already tell I’ll be one of those moms signing my kid up for activities and shuttling him from one to the other. Though, if Liam remains firmly in the introvert camp into his school-age years, I may do that less than I think. But now I’m starting to see why those upper middle class parents did all those things for their kids. When you have the money, you want your kid to be able to take music lessons. And to drive a safe car. And not to want for anything.

James, on the other hand, sees no issues here. He thinks we should buy Liam whatever he wants most of the time. But there’s something to be said for the way I grew up. We learned the value of money, and how to live on a budget. We learned to entertain ourselves with our imaginations. That’s not to say James didn’t learn those things, too. But it seems those are harder lessons to instill when you have more money and more scheduled activities.

Now we take Liam to Disney World every month, and we have season passes to Sea World.  We take him to nice restaurants way more than I ever went as a child. I take him on play dates with other kids who don’t live near us. I find I’m trying to grapple with wanting to provide things and activities for my child, yet teaching him the value of money and letting him use his free time for himself. It’s going to be a struggle as he ages, for sure. But growing up the way I did helps me see what it is he’s missing in the upper middle class. And hopefully I won’t fall into the trap that so many of us parents in this place do.

You had me at Muppet…

December 7, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Not since Toy Story 3 have I been so emotionally involved in a children’s movie. Liam sat still for the entire show so I could actually choke back a few tears without having to chase him around the theater this time. The movie wasn’t sad — really funny, actually – but it was particularly nostalgic for me. I remember my mom bought us a tape of Muppet songs that my sister and I listened to over and over. Rainbow Connection was my favorite, and now it’s Liam’s favorite, too. With this new Muppet movie come some welcome additions to the repertoire, notably a hilarious cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit which I embedded above. (Liam calls this the Meep Meep song, lol) It’s even funnier in the movie because the kidnapped host, Jack Black, keeps interjecting, “You’re ruining one of the greatest songs of all time!” The jokes were smart and quirky, the songs were outstanding (thank you, Bret McKenzie!), and it was so sweet to see the old gang reunited. Seriously, I got all choked up when the show lights came up and they all sang the Muppets theme song. I was suddenly transported to my parents living room, sitting on the green shag carpeting, eyes glued to the Muppet show. I was still pretty young when they aired in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, so I don’t really remember any specific episodes. In fact, I was probably watching repeats. But I do remember wearing out our VHS of The Muppets Take Manhattan and religiously watching Muppet Babies every Saturday morning. I had some high expectations for this movie, and it definitely delivered.

And let’s not forget Liam! He was such a good boy! It probably helped that he’d been listening to the soundtrack every day for a week before we went. He recognized all the songs, and kept asking when, “The Rainbow Song,” was coming. I brought lots of snacks and milk, and you should have seen how cute he looked sitting on the edge of his own seat, a bag of veggie chips in his lap, and his milk sippy in the cup holder. He eventually moved to my lap, then wanted to stand up and watch through the row in front of us. But he didn’t wander around at all, and he seemed to really enjoy the movie. He came home saying, “We saw the Puppet movie. I liked it.” And he keeps requesting I sing the Rainbow Song. Though today he asked me to play it on the radio (my iPhone hooked to the iHome)…I guess my rendition isn’t cutting it anymore!

There’s something special about passing down a beloved childhood icon to your own children. I remember my mom reading The Borrowers to me when I was girl, and she probably felt the same way I do now with Liam. It’s wonderful that he’s finally at an age where these things have real meaning to him.

Needless to say, we’ll be getting this movie on DVD. In the meantime I’ll just have to make do listening to the soundtrack every day. But I don’t mind, with songs like this one:

Ode to Dad

August 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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RecordingStudioPic

When I was a kid, my dad had the coolest job. In the mid-80s he teamed up with a couple of good friends at a startup recording studio. From what I remember they mostly handled radio and TV commercials for large and small advertising agencies with accounts like Blockbuster Video, Worlds of Fun, and Pizza Hut. They also recorded musicians, I’m sure, but the crux of their business lay in the commercial world.

What I remember best were summer days spent at the studio with dad. We’d get up early for the morning commute, and despite the above photo, I don’t think mom came along with us very often. Being a mom now, I understand how she must have loved these days as much as we did! We’d arrive at the studio at 42nd and State Line, coming in the special back entrance. We’d run down the corridors, upstairs decked out in plush, maroon carpet and green walls with wood panels, and downstairs a wood floor perfect for tap dancing. Dad would check out the sessions he had booked for the day while Jill and I would snag Cokes from the fridge. Mom never allowed us soda at home, so the endless supply of sugar and caffeine provided quite a treat for us. Dad almost always worked in Studio B, our favorite because it was large like Studio A, but cozier and less pretentiously decorated. There was a big leather couch in the back that we’d lay on, soaking up the smells and textures. The chairs by the controls all had wheels, and we had many a spin in those. We met advertising creative directors who humored us our endless questions. We met high-spirited voice talents who made us laugh. Unlike Jill, I’d run at the mouth to most of them, which probably led to the handful of commercials I did as a child. Though I do remember one instance where the client was trying to come up with a nice, short name for a character in their radio spot, and they chose Jill’s name. She didn’t stop grinning that entire session.

At some point business was so good that the clients would order in lunch for everyone at the studio, including us kids. I remember Rose, the secretary, coming around with a menu and taking our orders. We felt so posh, despite our usual request for burgers and fries. We’d eat in the lunchroom and listen to stories. It was these moments where we’d see a side of our dad that we didn’t see at home. He’d quietly listen to whatever outrageous story was being told, munching away at his lunch as if he weren’t minding the conversation at all. And then suddenly he’d chime in with the most hilarious and random sentence. Our dad was funny?!

In the early days I remember racks and racks of reel-to-reel tape machines. Each recording would be spliced with a razor blade and taped with this special blue narrow tape. There was an art to it, finding just the right spot in the tape by rolling the reels with your hands and listening. He’d adjust dials on the control panel, hundreds of dials! In the sound booth, as big as our living room at home, all of the sound-proof treatments on the walls made it eerily quiet. Sometimes dad would make recordings of Jill and I singing. We’d don headphones made for much bigger heads, and stand on tip-toe to reach the microphone hanging down from a stand. Dad would push a button to talk to us, his voice strange and tinny through the headphones. Finished with our “set”, Jill and I would race to the door and push it with all our might — it was thicker and heavier than a regular door -– and join dad in the control room to listen to ourselves and giggle. Our voices didn’t sound like our own.

After the session with a client was over, dad would have to do some of the more boring, technical stuff. So he’d run to the archive and get us this very thick tape, then cue it up for us. At the front of the control board, below all those hundreds of dials, there were dozens of sliding knobs. Slide up, volume up. Slide down, volume down. On this particular tape, each knob corresponded to an instrument in the musical piece. Jill and I would spend the duration of the tape fiddling with the knobs up and down and composing our own masterpiece. Dad would check in every so often to start the tape over for us. Oh, how we loved this game!

In the 90s everything changed to digital, and most of those machines were replaced with computers running ProTools. Dad spent many countless nights learning everything there was to learn until he became an expert. That’s his way. Into junior high and high school, Jill and I would still go into work with dad in the summers. The computers were no less interesting than watching him splice tape. And I remember once, after a quick lesson in ProTools, he set us to work making our own Halloween spooky sounds and music tape. We’d fade one track into another, pretending we were the hotshot recording engineers.

Ultimately Jill and I never made careers anything like our dad’s. In fact, it saddens me to think of Liam going to work with mommy and watching me design at a computer (boring!) or going to work with James to, well, ok, who knows exactly what position he’ll be holding, but I’m sure it’ll have something to do with filling out paperwork and giving presentations about horribly acronymed policies. That thought makes me realize just how good Jill and I had it, those wonderful summers going to work with our dad.

My motherhood neurosis (the first of many, I’m sure)

July 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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My mother worries. A lot. Too much. As a kid, and even as an adult, I tease her about it, but she’s always maintained that once I had my own kids, I would worry about them more than I ever thought I would. Whatever, mom.

Ok, so, she’s right. Liam is finally, blessedly, sleeping through the night once again, but I am not. I find myself waking three or four times a night in a panic, convinced that Liam is in the bed with us, and he’s getting crushed. I’m sure it’s a holdover from when I used to get up with him and bring him into the bed to cuddle him into submission. It always worked for him, but for me I was constantly waking up to make sure he was still securely in my arms. The fact that I’m prone to sleep walking and talking makes matters worse. Now that he’s sleeping through the night, I should have nothing to worry about. But for some reason, my wires have been crossed. Poor James…I punched him awake accusing him of flattening our kid the other night. I think I may have done it more than once that night. Or that’s what he says. My memory’s a little hazy. My bad, dear.

It started with a poop explosion

May 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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and it ended in tears. Mine, not Liam’s.

This morning Liam had a doctor’s appointment, so I had to get us up a little earlier than usual. Of course, Liam picked 4 AM…not exactly the time I had in mind. He ate well (for once), then we went back to sleep and woke up at more respectable 7:30. I rushed through my shower, got myself dressed, and was even thinking how much time I had to spare, when the smell hit me. Poor boy’s been constipated, so I figured I had a tiny little poop to deal with. But, alas, it was a poop explosion. All over the diaper, the jammies, his legs — basically his whole lower half was covered in poo. I quickly cleaned him up — wishing I had time to give him a bath — packed his bag, obsessed over leaving the house keys in the mailbox for the nanny, and made it to the doctor’s office only 5 minutes late. Woo hoo.

Or not. The receptionist said, “Didn’t someone tell you your appointment was in our Rockville office?” WTF? That’s fucking miles away. I would never have made an appointment there. Then the boy started crying, hungry. I made him a bottle, thinking we’ll be here awhile, when the receptionist pops over to say she can get us in at the Rockville office this morning. I asked her when we should be there, and she said, “Whenever. They’ll get you in whenever you get there.” So, back in the car, screaming kid, I detoured to the house to feed him first, thinking i could spare the time. Then a flurry of repacking the bag, writing the nanny a note, sending work an email, obsessing again about the keys in the mailbox, running in and out to get something I forgot, setting up the GPS (which was still programmed for Texas, fucking aye!), getting three blocks down the road, turning around because in my frazzled state, I forgot to leave the keys in the mailbox.

Finally, we made it, the boy was asleep, all was well. Or not. I was greeted with, “We thought you were coming right over.” And, “I’m sorry, we can’t get you in now.” You have got to be fucking kidding me. She was very nice about it, which was about the only thing holding me together. She asked for some information for their system, including updating our emergency contacts. “Do you have any parents, or siblings, or aunts and uncles in town.” And I’m screaming in my head, “No, No, I have no one, no one!!!” And all the while I’m thinking, “What am I doing here, in this place we can’t afford!? With a husband who’s traveling so much?! With a baby I have to take care of all by myself!? How am I doing this?! How am I even keeping this together?!”

And with that I took my appointment reschedule, ran to the car, and cried all the way home. I thought about calling James, but I didn’t think crying AND driving AND talking on the phone was such a good idea. I pulled myself together enough to face the nanny — she’s a nice gal, and I didn’t want to worry her. And what do you know, Liam was all smiles when I got home. At least one of us was happy.

And as I’m drying my tears, I’m thinking this was a bad day, yes, but in the end, everything will be ok. I got a call last night from a very good childhood friend, Tiffany. Her twin sister is in a coma, and they’re not sure if she’s going to wake up. She went in with an ear ache, and it turns out she contracted a very rare bacteria that gave her meningitis. She had brain surgery, and she still hasn’t woken up. They’re not sure if she’s going to. Thinking about them and what their family is going through makes me ache with sympathy. And it makes my complaints seem downright frivolous. Sometimes perspective is all it takes to calm me down.

Remembering where I came from…

April 18, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Nothing marks the beginning of spring to me like the sound of birds and neighbors streaming in through the windows. I have my mother to thank for that. To this day she throws open every available window at the first sign of seasonable weather. Liam and I were napping on the couch today, and I heard these comforting sounds, punctuated by the traffic on 495 just about a block away. I grew up near a highway, so I suppose those sounds are nostalgic for me, as well. Normally I have a fight on my hands with this many windows in the house open–James doesn’t want any outside getting on him– but with him in Texas, I spent the entire afternoon vacuuming, scrubbing, and repairing windows and window screens. Before you start imagining I’m some sort of ms-fix-it, I’ll have you know I used duct tape. Hey, it’s a rental, what else am I gonna use? I did come across something called Rad’s Screen Tape, which you can only order online. I may decide to give that a try if I get sick of looking at this butt ugly silver tape.

There is one downside to James not being here (well, of course there’s more than one, but you know what I mean.) After all this work cleaning and opening windows, I’m afraid of few might be hard to close. These windows are old, probably the originals. In our many years together, James has become an expert on closing windows, lol.

Sleep Walking

March 3, 2009 at 9:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Talk of the Nation inspires another blog post…today they had Mike Berbiglia on talking about sleep walking, and people were calling in with their funny sleep walking stories. Too bad it was a podcast, or I would have called in myself. According to my mom, I started sleep walking when I was just three or four years old, and I did it all the way through college. Now that I’m older, I’m apparently too lazy to walk, but not too lazy to talk. I remember my house mates from college telling me years after i’d moved out that I yelled in my sleep almost every night. I must have been a joy to live with, heh.

When I was a kid I had this bad habit of sleep walking about an hour or two after I’d fallen asleep, so my parents witnessed most of my episodes. One night I marched right past my mom and into the kitchen, where I started rustling around with the bread and peanut butter. Mom asked me what I was doing, to which I replied, “Making lunch.” Yeah, clearly I was not awake. Another time I marched right past her to the front door and proceeded to put on my coat. Again, mom asks what I was doing, and i replied, “Going out to wait for the bus.” It was winter, so thankfully she was there to stop me.

In high school I got more devious. My dad used to drive me to school in the morning, and one night I frantically woke him up claiming we were late. He got up, started his coffee, and in a bleary daze did a double-take at the clock. It was about 1:30 in the morning! He discovered me fast asleep in my room, none the wiser. He loves telling that story, heh. On a vacation in DC when I was 15, I tried to sleep walk right out of our hotel room. Thankfully my dad heard me and stopped me. He told me to go back to bed, the standard parental reply when I was in that state, so I took my pillow, which for some reason I had in hand, and tried to get into mom and dad’s bed. “Wrong bed,” he said wryly, so I took my pillow, started toward my bed, and went right past it and into the bathroom. That’s when I woke up, my head inches from a mirror. Quite disorienting, to say the least, but this wasn’t my first time to wake up standing up, not sure how I got there.

In college the frequency lessened, but hilarity ensued. My first night in the dorm I told my roommate, who I had just met, that I should probably take the bottom bunk because I sleep walk. She was skeptical, but agreed to the arrangement. Thankfully she did — she woke with a start and saw me crouched over her alarm clock on the desk, hitting it and yelling at it. How Embarrassing.

At the Movies

January 1, 2008 at 11:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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With the writer’s strike and all of this time off, I’ve been seeing lots of great films. Here’s a rundown:

Atonement: A young girl (Briony) wrongly accuses a family friend of a serious crime, setting in motion terrible events for him and her older sister, but not until adulthood does she realize her horrible misjudgment. At once funny, endearing, and achingly sad, this film is the best I’ve seen all year. I read the book when it came out a few years ago, and I remember being annoyed with the ending. Looking back, I think I found it difficult to pull back and recognize that the novel I was reading was the book the main character had written. This jarred me so much, I guess I couldn’t appreciate the ending, nor could I empathize with the main character. But the movie does a brilliant job of expressing Briony’s immense sorrow and regret, so much so that I’m still tearing up just thinking about it. The director also did a fantastic job on the war scenes – something I always had trouble imagining while reading.

No Country for Old Men: A masterpiece of suspense by the Coen brothers, this simple tale of a man on the run from a psychotic murderer had me on the edge of my seat. An amazing performance by Javier Bardem as the killer Anton, a man who cannot be reasoned with and cannot be stopped. The suspense was palpable. My only quibble is with the ending, which sort of sputtered, slowed down, then stopped. With all of the suspense, I expected a bigger finish. However, I can respect the Coens for avoiding cliches and predictability.

Charlie Wilson’s War: Humorous and enjoyable, this film tells the true story of an alcoholic, womanizing congressman who almost single-handedly defeats the Russians by covertly supplying Afghan rebels with weapons, training, and funding. What amazes me is no one knew about all of this until almost 20 years later. James has this book on CD, and we listened to most of it on our way to St. Louis after we’d seen the movie. The CIA agent Gust (played by the ever-talented Phillip Seymour Hoffman), was even more colorful in the book, and I’d say he sort of stole the show in the movie.

Jesus Camp: This documentary, which I caught on A&E the other night, follows a group of Evangelical Christian kids (incidentally from Lee’s Summit, MO, the suburb where I grew up) as they roll their eyes at the idea of evolution during home-schooling, speak in tongues at a local retreat, protest abortion on the steps of the Supreme Court while in DC, and attend a Christian camp in South Dakota meant to “arm” them with the same fervor for Jesus that the fundamentalist Muslim kids hold for Allah. Needless to say this movie both scared and angered me (Toast warned me, but I had to see for myself). It breaks my heart to see children being manipulated, even if the adults think they’re well-intentioned. (The scene where the kids pass around plastic fetuses and are told these little “babies” are being killed on a daily basis really made my blood boil.) And it dredged up a lot of childhood memories for me. I grew up decidedly nonreligious, but my parents left it up to me to attend church with my friends and make up my own mind. We didn’t really discuss religion at home until I was in high school. But I remember questioning religious faith when I was maybe 11 or 12, around the same time I realized how much adults lie to children. I had a best friend who constantly scolded me for taking the lord’s name in vain, and when I asked her why this was so bad, she simply replied, “because God says so.” (Mind you, I wasn’t cursing…only saying “God” with the requisite amount of sarcasm or incredulity for the situation). This made no sense to me, even after I attended a few Sunday services with her. I didn’t have a word for the way I was feeling, all I knew was that it felt suspiciously like the adults were once again trying to pull the wool over our young eyes. I remember going to a slumber party, and all the girls started talking about “being saved”, and it was then that I realized how much in the minority I was. It feels odd to say that by age 12 I was firmly Agnostic (leaning Atheist), when on the other hand I feel like kids that age can’t be expected to make intelligent decisions about faith for themselves. But I can draw that fine line in the sand – I hadn’t been indoctrinated into agnosticism like so many kids I knew were indoctrinated into their respective religions. It was something I discovered for myself, and to this day I accept the possibility that I could be wrong.

Books for this month
I just finished Finding Serenity, a compilation of essays about my favorite and underappreciated TV show Firefly. I’ve got the sequel, Serenity Found on order. In the meantime, think I’ll spend my New Year’s Day watching some of my favorite episodes.

They’re heeeere…

October 4, 2007 at 11:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Twenty-five years ago, in a momentary lapse of parental judgment, my mom took me to see Poltergeist. I was five years old, the same age little Carol Anne uttered her famous line and landed herself in another dimension. And I had nightmares for weeks.

Tonight my mom agreed to see it with me again at a special twenty-fifth anniversary showing on the big screen. As the branches of that creepy tree crashed through the bedroom window and snatched up Robbie, my mom leaned over to whisper, “This is the part where I thought maybe I shouldn’t have brought you here.” Hee hee. I remember I was the most creeped out by that guy tearing off his face. It took me years before I could watch that scene without covering my eyes. And when I finally did, it seemed so fake, I couldn’t believe I was ever scared of it in the first place. It’s funny–that movie scared me so much when I was five, but as I grew older and watched it again, I came to love it. Especially the end where Craig T. Nelson haughtily pushes the TV out of their motel room. That still cracks me up.

In fact, that movie made quite an impression on me. In fifth grade I started doing research into the paranormal for this project I did in school, and I discovered an intriguing theory about poltergeists–that because they normally revolve around a person, usually teens going through puberty, perhaps they aren’t ghosts at all. Instead, they’re telekinetic energy brought about by hormonal imbalances, and uncontrolled by the teenager involved. Around this same age I read Willow Davis Roberts’ The Girl With the Silver Eyes, about a girl who could move things with her mind, and I became absolutely convinced that if I wished hard enough, I too would have telekinetic powers. I read up on ESP, then made up little cards with circles, squares, and wavy lines to test out with my friends. I started reading Stephen King novels, which only fueled the fire, and as I approached puberty I watched for Signs. But, alas, puberty came and went, and with it went my psychic tenacity. I gave it up in favor of slumber parties and crushes on boys. I continued to read my Stephen King, but I resigned myself to an ordinary, un-telekinetic existence. Now the whole psychic thing seems like a sham to me. But deep down inside, sometimes I wonder…

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