Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Book of Wrong: Holiday Edition

The Army Dude and I have something we call The Book of Wrong. It's a list of things that seem messed up somehow - like the parking meters in front of the homeless shelter, or the elderly man we've seen walking down the street with a cane in one hand and a skateboard in the other.

At first glance, I thought this Christmas card was very pretty: a deer and a cardinal surrounded by snowy pine boughs. It's a peaceful scene. You can almost hear the wind sighing softly through the trees.

Until you turn it over:

I guess nothing says Merry Christmas like killing Dasher.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Terrible Thing To Waste

I recently learned that I can remember the words to the Maude theme song. All of them. Which shows you what I was doing instead of homework back in the 1970s, and what is in my brain where a working knowledge of geometry should be.

I do not, however, know all the words to this version. Yet.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wicked Good!

I saw Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz yesterday at the Providence Performing Arts Center. I've been wanting to see it since it was first taken on the road a couple of years ago, and I was not disappointed.

Anyone who knows me knows I love musicals. I get this from my mother, who sang show tunes to me when I was little instead of pop songs or children's tunes (and whose lovely singing voice I did not inherit). While I am certainly predisposed to enjoy a musical, I went to see Wicked with the Army Dude, who is more of an action-adventure kind of guy, and he loved it too.

I read the book it's based on (Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life And Times of The Wicked Witch of The West) several years ago, and I was eager to see how much of the original plot remained in the stage show. The answer is, a lot of it - which was refreshing after seeing movies where all that seems to be left of the original book are the title and the names of some of the characters. I refuse to watch Under A Tuscan Sun because I loved the book and I could tell from the previews that the story had been entirely changed.

Wicked did not disappoint. The original book is quite complex, but the writer did a great job of distilling the story into a three-hour running time. There were several funny references to the 1938 movie The Wizard Of Oz, as well as to details in the book only lightly touched on in the play.

The costumes were gorgeous, the acting, singing, and dancing were excellent, and the sets and lighting were amazing. The songs were fabulous - particularly the showstopper "Defying Gravity."

In short, I loved it. Wicked was wicked good.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cow Report

Due to complaints from the neighbors, heat and hot water celebration festivities are cancelled until further notice.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Drunk With Power

The plumbers got the sprockets running true with the differential gear and the electrician finally managed to get the flux capacitor fixed, so now I have fully functioning heat and hot water. If anyone is looking for me, I will be taking a bath, then a shower, and then running around naked. I plan to repeat the sequence until it can be conclusively proven through rigorous scientific inquiry that the cows have indeed come home.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Heat and Hot Water, Week 2

It's Friday night and the temperature outside is 27 degrees with a significant wind chill. The heat upstairs is working fine; downstairs it's COLD. I came home to whatever is happening - or not happening - with no communication from my landlord (who lives on the other side of the wall) or the people doing the work. So I once again have no idea if they think it's done and it's not, or if they plan to come back or if (because tomorrow is Saturday) I will be in my pajamas when they do. Not that it's a problem to get dressed bright and early, but would be nice to be kept in the loop.

I'm trying to remain positive while the work is being done. I'm happy that I no longer have to call my friend Leppy and say "this is the showering bandit coming to steal your hot water. What time is good for you?" I realize that in the grand scheme of things, it's merely an inconvenience. I'm healthy, my cat's healthy, the Christmas present I was afraid would be back ordered until January showed up yesterday, which completes my shopping.

But I was a property manager and I also know that lack of heat and hot water during the winter means my apartment is not up to minimal housing standards. I'm not being a cranky bitch - we are talking about the minimum.

So I'm officially a little discouraged after one week without hot water, three days with no heat, and two days with partial heat. In Rhode Island. In December. With a big snowstorm forecast for tomorrow night.

Actually, maybe the snow's not such a big problem. It's a great insulator.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do Not Irritate A Peri-Menopausal Woman

An email I sent today to Find A Green (which, FYI, I do not work for a green business):

Not only have your employees repeatedly harassed me via telephone, your "Quality Control Manager" (and by that I mean "rude jerk") threatened this morning to "have someone call me every day" until I comply with your update. Since then I have received two more calls. I've already updated the entry! Stop harassing me or I will report you to the RI Better Business Bureau, the RI Attorney General's Office, and any other law enforcement agency who will listen.



Yours in Christ (and by that I mean "drop dead"),

That's right - I have a computer and a temper and I'm not afraid to deploy either one.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Christmas Carol

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.
Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of my very favorite stories. Not the movie starring Mickey Mouse, not A Muppet Christmas Carol, but the actual book. We tend to think of A Christmas Carol as a gloomy story about a cranky old man, or as a creepy story about ghosts, where Ebenezer sees the date of his own death and we are freaked out by the mere idea.

But the Victorians had a more intimate knowledge of death than we do. Scrooge is not upset over the fact that he will die - after all, the musings about Marley being "dead as a doornail" in the beginning of the story lead us to understand that Scrooge accepts death as a fact of life. What chills him to the bone is seeing that there is no sorrow at his passing; instead, those around him either see it as an opportunity for personal gain - and have no problem robbing him of his bedclothes and curtains while he lays dead - or they are not touched by the death at all.

What makes A Christmas Carol such an inspiring story is that as Ebenezer travels with the ghosts, he lays to rest the sorrows of the past (and we see that behind the bitterness is the sorrow of loss and regret), and he comes to understand that the future is what we make it with our actions and attitudes in the present. What we are left with, in the end, is a feeling of joy and hope. We believe that it's never too late to change, to grow, to become a better person and create a better life for ourselves.

The story is on my mind as I move through the second holiday season after walking away from my family's celebrations. Last year I was like Scrooge: sitting in an empty apartment, chewing on the lumpy gruel of my anger, resentment, and regret over what never was and never would be no matter how much I wished for it. I wanted to close the curtains around myself and wait for the whole thing to be over. I couldn't see all that I have because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself over what I believed was missing.

This year, something is different. I no longer see my future as carved in stone, as something that has already been determined by my past. I see it as something dynamic, something I can change with my actions today. I think, as I have shifted from the belief that life is work - work for pay, housework, working to stay fit, working to keep everything running smoothly - I have begun to play more, to enjoy the childhood I never really had, and I am becoming happier in general. It was bound to spill over into my feelings about the holidays.

Like Ebenezer, I am stepping into a new way of being in the world with no idea how it is all going to work out, and I am at peace with that. I'm making today the best it can be and trusting that the future will take care of itself. I am enjoying the process and leaving the rest to... whatever it is that takes care of those things.

And I am grateful that while there are regrets from the past and things are not perfect in the present, there is always the opportunity for laughter, good humor - and yes, even joy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Computer = Insanity

I bought a new computer and aircard last weekend, and you would not believe the drama I made out of it. To hear my anxiety-riddled mind tell it, I was taking food from the mouths of my starving children or that I had no idea where I'd plug in the power strip in my cardboard box near the overpass. Never mind that I live in a nice apartment, and that I have plenty of food, clothes, heat, and Hello Kitty pajamas. I was sure that by spending a few hundred bucks, I was headed to rack and ruin.

My previous computer was six years old, and for the last three, due to circumstances in the building, I have not had reliable internet access. This was not an extravagant purchase. And yet, I was awake in the night, wondering if I'd made a huge mistake and was steering straight toward financial disaster. Or that I'd simply irritated The Universe beyond all reason with my selfish desire for a new computer - and in response, The Universe was going to send me plagues of boils, fire, and locusts.

Now I'm anxious because I just learned, inadvertently, that if you sit down at a computer with a touch screen and you lean forward to tuck your bathrobe underneath you, settings can be changed by your head. The screen suddenly looks different, but I have no idea what I did.

I really ought to be committed.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mamma Mia! That's A Really Bad Movie!

I watched Mamma Mia! this past weekend, expecting to love it. I’d heard good things about it. The show took Broadway and the country by storm. I have been known, in the privacy of my car, to crank up “Dancing Queen” and car dance.

With a movie musical, I expect the plot to be simple and secondary to the singing and dancing. I expect a happy ending. In terms of cuteness of plot, Mamma Mia! did not disappoint. But I don’t think I’ve seen so much bad singing and dancing in one place in my whole life.

It was painful to watch, like a high school talent show when the fat kid with pimples who is a sweetheart but his mom irons his jeans with a crease – which, even without pimples and extra weight is social suicide – gets up on the stage to play “Lady of Spain” on the accordion. I mean, you may have been friendly toward him before because he is actually a very nice person, but now you find yourself desperately hoping that nobody remembers you sat with him at lunch a couple of weeks ago. Because you have enough to deal with without the stink of accordion music on your person.

That’s how I felt about Mamma Mia! I love movie musicals. But the whole point of the musical is the MUSIC. The plots are supposed to be thin and the viewer is supposed to willingly believe the premise that whenever you’re feeling blue, a rousing tap number will make you feel better. (I actually do believe this, whether I’m watching a movie or not.)

I theorize that on Broadway, and in the road show, the stars were chosen for actual singing and dancing ability. From what I can tell, the producers of Mamma Mia! the movie chose stars with a big box office draw and forgot to check if they could actually sing or dance. Whoops.

I think Colin Firth may have ruined Mr. Darcy for me forever. And as much as I love Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, I’ve got enough to deal with without having to hear them sing.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Diana The Huntress

I was awakened in the wee hours this morning by my cat batting something around on the bedroom floor. It's a fairly normal thing. Some mornings I wake up with her toys actually on me, and I think no wonder I had such a lousy night's sleep. But this morning, whatever she was batting was squeaking. She does not have squeaky toys for this very reason. Jingle balls, yes; squeaky toys, no. I do not want to wake up in the middle of the night thinking she's killing a mouse, and in any case, she can't carry the jingle balls up the stairs due to a lack of opposable thumbs.

I listened for a couple of minutes, hoping I wasn't hearing squeaking. I was. I remembered that I'd heard scritching up in the eaves a couple of weeks ago. Apprehensively, I sat up and turned on the light.

The cat's area of operations was at the center of the bedroom floor, a couple of feet from the end of my bed. She had a field mouse under her paw and she was looking at me like "What? It's a mouse, sworn enemy of the cat. I had no choice but to vanquish it."

A bunch of questions went racing through my mind all at once: Should I take it from her? What if she's still in predator mode and she gets pissed? What if it's still alive and runs away? What if it's dead and yucky? Why, oh, why didn't I marry like my parents wanted me to? It would be really handy to have a husband right now - after all what are they for if not handling little wildlife crises? All the while I sat on my bed, whimpering like a schoolgirl.

The cat's next actions ended my ruminations. She began crunching the little beastie's bones (which makes a very disconcerting noise, let me tell you) and swallowed the thing whole. Then she stood up, licked her chops, and went downstairs. Calm as you please, as if killing mice and eating them is an everyday thing for an indoor cat.

I got out of bed to examine the floor. Not a whisker, not a bit of fur, not a drop of blood. She'd killed and eaten the mouse with a grim efficiency. It was creepy.

I got back in bed, mentally debating whether or not I should bother trying to get any more sleep. Then I remembered: she'd been batting something around near my pillow earlier. I'd picked it up in a half-asleep state and chucked it to the foot of the bed. I distinctly remembered the feeling of wet fur.

I started ransacking my pillows, feeling rather ill, looking for mouse bits. Nothing. Then I very slowly picked up the comforter I had turned back when I sat up. There it was, with fur plastered down by cat spit, its pink felt ears looking perky and its blue felt eyes looking at me - mocking me, it seemed. A toy mouse. I picked it up and threw it on the floor. Then I got up and washed my hands, just because.

Oddly enough, my cat - who is on a prescription food because she has a delicate digestion - has shown no ill effects from her unusual midnight snack. Thank God. I can't think of anyone who'd be willing to elope with me before I'd have to clean up after that.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

Is it me? Does no one else wonder about these things?

It started like this: I was walking in a graveyard (you know, as you do) and I came across a hilarious tombstone. I'm guessing that it wasn't meant to be hilarious. It was a his-and-hers stone, with the dates of birth and death and whatnot. He died 20 years before she did. His part of the stone said "beloved father" or whatever. Hers said "happy in the last," which yeah, I get it, means that she bucked up and was brave in the face of whatever carried her off. But if you just looked at the stone, it said "She had a fan-freaking-tastic time after the old buzzard dropped dead."

So it got me thinking. Someday, someone might see my tombstone and find it entertaining. I would like that.

Here are the options:

1. "I've had all the fun here I can stand."

2. "Gas, grass or ass. Nobody dies for free."

My brother Aaron really liked the second one; my friend Peter, not so much.