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Monday, September 27, 2010

When hinges creak...

Yeah, yeah, I haven't been around much. Goodtime Mommy gets the blues sometimes. I thought of posting the blues, as I'm in a very hot and friendless state lately. The hubster and I drift on different seas, it saddens me that he doesn't want to share the things that give me pleasure. It also pisses me off that he thinks dancing in public while one sings the theme song from "Growing Pains" is unseemly. I find it perfectly normal. Sometimes I think his greying hair (which has been greying since he was in his 30s) has turned him into a fuddy duddy. I, on the other hand, see myself as embracing life. Others see me as a lunatic. I suppose that, between the two of us, we comprise one whole, normal, moderately enthusiastic boomer.

Anyway, this last week has been one of those "take a deep breath, haul it out of bed and get it to work" weeks. The week-end wasn't a LOT better, although a friend of mine had an extra couple of tickets to the Sing-A-Long "Sound of Music" at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday and I went and took one of the boys. It's sort of like the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" for traditional theater people. We hissed the Baroness, cheered when Maria and the Captain FINALLY figured out what the rest of us had known all along and screamed "Don't come out yet" when Christopher Plummer emerges from behind the shelter of the tombstone. The Bowl provided party poppers which we all pulled when Maria and the Captain FINALLY kissed, shooting streamers over all and sundry.We yodeled through "The Lonely Goatherd". We all turned on our cell phone lights, held them up and swayed while we sang "Edelweiss". Eighteen thousand people in an outdoor amphitheater, singing and swaying with their lights in the air.

It was enchanting.

The hubster announced the following morning that he hadn't any interest in attending something like that as he was NOT enthusiastic about being part of a crowd of eighteen thousand people who had come together to mock something.

It was already a bazillion degrees in the apt when he let loose with that one and it didn't go over well. Just saying...

Well, I've been worrying about the fact that the blog has been empty for a week. Of course, the fact I only have three readers mitigated my guilt over the lack of updates. I also figured that posting about how much life sucks isn't exactly something that brings people back.

And then...this morning came.

Someone dear to me sent me (via another board) a post made by someone on the board that banished me, and many others, to the Interwebs Molokai. Not only was I declared unclean and ferried away, they THEN nationalized their oil fields, so that only those with a golden ticket could pass. So this is now super secret stuff, things the general public are not allowed into without showing their passports and visas.

Someone in this super secret society wants to know what other people are putting in their Halloween candy bowls. Holy Cow! No WONDER this club is now ferreted away, available only to those members who have been approved.


And, just to add insult to injury, I'm privy to what the poster is putting in HER Halloween treat bags.

In the first place...BAGS? It's obvious this woman has no children in her life. Biological, adopted, nieces, neighbors, none. Because if she did, she would know that, on Halloween, hoards of children, teens and adults show up at your doorstep. THEY have bags. YOU just toss candy as fast as you can into shopping bags, little plastic pumpkins and pillow cases until they leave and the next marauding band shows up.

But noooooooo. Not this self-styled holier-than-thou and richer too. She just loooooovvvvves to post about her cooking skills and how her entire week's menus are routinely ditched because the local "God, we're rich" Farmer's Market has a cache of organically grown and natural bat guano fertilized black current leaf (I googled it, there IS such a thing)while she posts nasty things about the rest of the pedestrian members who work full time, come home and manage to get a meal on the table for their families, a healthy one if they're lucky and one that will just fill them up if they're not.

Well, there's an entire list of what she has mapped out to buy, to mail order (can't mail order for the chocolate yet, apparently it's too hot or it's only in season in months with an "O" in them or something) but there is a complete breakdown of what must be two dozen different items, all of which will be organized and then put into various gift bags, then to be doled out according to the apparent age and financial status of the night visitors.

Bags are being assembled for toddlers, children, teens (and these seem to be divided by sex as well, one assortment for boys, one for girls) and a super special bag for pre-teen girls who will get a bag with several items including some little plastic glow stick bracelets.


No self-respecting adolescent would be caught DEAD actually wearing a glow-in-the-dark bracelet. I'll give TEN BUCKS to the first person who can produce a pre-teen girl who would voluntarily do such a thing.

Okay, she lives in a very rich neighborhood, on the water I believe. Now, I'm not complaining about that, it's hotter than hell here and I wouldn't mind living at the beach myself. But I also live in an extraordinarily rich neighborhood. Granted, I live in the part reserved for poor people who rent old apartments without air conditioning or washer/dryer hook-ups but hell, we all have the same zip code. My neighborhood goes all out on Halloween, btw. Fog swirls low on village streets, dancers are hired to dance Thriller on rolling front lawns decked out as graveyards, "Young Frankenstein" is running on a 60" HD TV from someones balcony, turned towards the street, 'natch, and Bugatti's are backed out of garages to make room for the haunted mazes. Andy Garcia gave me a candy bar last year. So did one of the Disneys. And now you can Google where I live. It's okay, I'm listed anyway. Guess what? Not ONE of these people handed out age profiled goody bags with appropriately counted out toys and treats in each one.

They were throwing Snicker bars into bags as fast as they could. Of course, for all their money, these people also have kids, dogs, jobs and LIVES. I've passed them on the street, exchanged "good morning" with people I recognized (koffkoffDenzelWashingtonkofffoff) and we exchange these pleasantries because we're NEIGHBORS. NOT because they're rich, you effing snob. Oops...yeah, I digress.

Anyway, I was laughing my head off at the list of toys and treats and how they would be divided and allotted and handed out in neat little gift bags and all I could think of was "DAMN! I'd PAY for that kind of spare time." I'm pretty sure Martha Freaking STEWART doesn't go to all that trouble and she puts on a hell of a Halloween. Know why?

She's too effing BUSY to start dividing the trick-or-treaters into age appropriate groups.

Now, why did this particular story turn my life around this morning?

I thought about it. It's hotter than hell and we have, for all intents and purposes, no a/c and the sweat (and yes, it's SWEAT, perspiration my ASS) was literally running down our faces last night. The hubster is turning into a crotchety old man who dresses WAY too conservatively. My younger son is home only to eat and sleep most of the time. The older son has disabilities that cause me worry. My job isn't very satisfying and my apartment looks like a toxic waste dump because no one with testosterone has any idea how to hang up a jacket on anything except the back of a chair. I have no car. Yet. I've starting selling Avon. The hubster hasn't found work yet.

But after I stopped laughing and finally caught my breath it hit me. In spite of her exotic herb garden and her mail ordered plastic spider rings, this woman has WAY too much time on her hands. And while she was sitting in her all too snooty home probably setting up spread sheets to aid in the assembly of her Halloween bags a month in advance I was sitting on my ass between a friend and one of my sons, drinking what she would most likely consider an inferior red wine from a plastic glass and eating chicken salad I made from a non free-range Costco rotisserie bird dressed with Major Grey's chutney from a jar, Best Foods Mayo and store bought curry powder while I belted out "Do-Re-Mi" with 17,999 other folks who were not planing their Halloweens yet either.

Last night I fell asleep, starkers and sweating on top of the bed clothes and the hubster made not ONE joke about harpoons this morning. The kid who mostly shows up to eat and sleep treated us to malts last night. He's going to get his Bachelor's degree this June. My older son is going to the bank (on a bus) today to get some money so he and I can go play Bingo at the air conditioned Elk's lodge tonight. I bought two hats, which I wear, and I'm going to take a free ballroom dance lesson tomorrow night.

And I remembered that life is FULL of ridiculous people who plan Halloween bags and take themselves WAY too seriously. I think it's God's way of giving the rest of us a good belly laugh every now and then.

Either that, or I'm bi-polar and no one ever noticed. Either way, I'm good with it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday on the Road. With John.

I spent a great deal of yesterday with my father. I always look forward to hanging with my father and, after it's over, I swear I'm not going to volunteer for this duty again.

It's not that I don't LIKE my father, I do. I love my dad and I like seeing him. I have the idea, however, that he doesn't really return the favor and if I wasn't toting his grandsons along with me we would see each other on Christmas and possibly Easter. My younger son, when I mentioned this recently, opined that it's not that my father doesn't LIKE me, he thinks he has no idea what to DO with me. He feels that, had I been a boy, we would have a more stable relationship. I don't mean that it's unstable, I think my father frankly, has no clue how many inconsiderate things he does do me.

He interrupts me constantly, usually to change the subject. It's not like I'm talking about my sex life, it's usually something like, oh, Costco. I'll say something like "Oh, I was at Costco last Wednesday" and he will ask "Which one?" and I'll say "Burbank, and it was just before closing..." and that's pretty much it because he then leaps on "Burbank", launches into a diatribe about the terrible parking at that store and then goes on to a screwdriver he wanted and got via the internet and it took forever to get delivered..." A couple of months ago he did this and I waited 10 minutes until he was done. At which point I said "well, as I was saying..." at which point he became quite deaf in that ear.

I used to attribute his rudeness to his lack of hearing. They guy spend his LIFE working around machinery, of COURSE his hearing isn't what it used to be. But it seems he always hears whatever my kids are talking about so maybe the kid has something. It's possible he just assumes that, because I'm a girl, I MUST be talking about Barbies or lipstick and he has no interest.

Well, yesterday he really did us a BIG favor. We took a train to the Inland Empire and he picked us up at the station and drove us to the outlet mall, where the boys bought shoes and I, true to my plans, bought a hat. Two of them, in fact. And a non-stick skillet. We were right next door to the Indian Casino, and the boys asked if they could spend a half hour there. This was met with a repeated "no". This didn't put them in a very good mood.

My father did, however, want to buy us lunch at the local "you can't eat here unless you're accompanied by someone on Medicare and you better have cash because we don't trust those credit card things..." cafe. There were four of us in total and he got change back from his $20. I had the chicken cordon blue lunch with iced tea. The line was out the friggin' door. We crawled our way up through the velvet roped stanchions. The place was packed. Blue hair, plaid shirts and old men in shorts and sandals with white socks. Why do they DO that? My son lives in shorts too. He wears them with tennis shoes and clean white socks, looks rather nice.

My father then took my older son, who is always eager to please, into the dining area where he appropriated a booth and dumped the kid in it to hold it. THIS annoys me to no end. Not just when HE does it, when ANYONE does it. IF people would just wait their turn in line and THEN find a table there would BE one. It's a sort of ebb and flow thing. The person who just picked up their food at the counter sits down and eats. The person at the back of the line is IN that line for 10-15 minutes. At which point the people eating have finished and a table frees. But NO...the place is full of people holding down empty tables for the people in the back of the damn line.

Which means the people in the front of the line who don't have willing grand kids with them are now wandering around the dining areas, looking for a place to sit and eat, all the while passing clean, empty tables being held by six year olds. Okay, my son isn't six, he's 22, but you get the idea.

Now once we were seated, my son and I, in conversation, brought up the new movie "Sherlock Holmes" which was the reason I went to the outlet. To buy a hat. My father asked which moves, as Sherlock Holmes never wore a Fedora, at least according to my father he didn't. I explained to him that it was the movie which, when he stood under the building sized poster for it prior to it's Christmas Day opening last year, he pronounced "Oh JEEZ, they're trying to remake Sherlock Holmes? Who ARE those guys? It's gonna BOMB. Why do they waste good money making crap like that?"

I must admit, it gave me no small amount of pleasure to point out that that movie had "bombed" to the tune of over two hundred million dollars and another one is in the works. He rolled his eyes. He asked if it was true to the books, which he mentions he has read several times over. Yes, we told him. I explained about Holmes shooting the initials "V.R." into the wall. My father announced that we were crazy, that wasn't in the books, someone made it up. Yeah, dad...Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made it up. And mentioned it frequently. But we kept it light. Because, after he went on about the great detective we all dad never read the books, he watched the movies.

We changed the subject. Or tried to. He was now off on a movie that he had rented and he wanted to know who made it. I'd never heard of it. He said it was new and when he rented it and tried to copy it there was a copy guard on it that he couldn't crack. He had to transfer it to VHS and THEN put it on a DVD for himself. I pointed out that maybe he shouldn't be bragging about this in such a loud voice and in a public place as he was, for all intents and purposes, stealing the movie. "It's called "piracy", dad" I said. "Yeah, I know, what's THAT about? There were all these people in the market this morning pretending to be pirates, it's some sort of stupid pirate day today." The then proceeded to try and imiatate several checkers having fun with "Talk Like A Pirate Day" which was yesterday. My father's impression of anyone under the age of 60, or anyone who doesn't listen to The Best of Rush Limbaugh, is him raising his voice an octive and saying "wah, wah, wah". I'm SO not making this up. Well, after we got the video piracy thing separated from talking like a pirate, he announced:

"Stealing? I'm not stealing anything! I PAID to rent the damn thing, didn't I? And besides, the rental store had to pay for it too. Hell, it's been paid for a dozen times at least."

We love him to death, but we change the subject a lot. We did it again. My boys are getting pretty good at this. It occurred to me though. You know that guy on Twitter, the one who started the feed called "Shit my dad says"? My father's been saying shit for YEARS. Do I start a damn website to post all the stuff he says? Hell no, I mostly try and shrink into a corner when he gets going. But this guy starts posting it on the internet and now it's a freaking TV show with William Shatner and the guy's on easy street! Most of us bang our heads on the walls when our dads get going. This guy turns it into big bucks. What were WE thinking?

The chicken cordon blue, btw, (and yes, they spell it "blue") consists of a breaded, flaked and formed "chicken" patty with a slice of sandwich ham and a piece of swiss cheese on top. This is warmed up and then dropped on a piece of garlic toast and presented with a little plastic cup of mustard sauce on the side. I've had worse.

Well, we hit the road, he wanted to drive us home. He's leaving the state for a few days, apparently my step-sister, who has been seriously ill, was given a very positive bill of health, to which she reacted to by "freaking out" in my father's words. Now if it were me and I'd been through that I would have reacted by stripping naked and running down the middle of the street drinking Dom Perignon out of the bottle but, I suppose, that might be considered "freaking out" by some people too. I try not to judge.

Well, they're driving up to see her in the hopes that she'll let her mother in, as she's pretty much throwing everyone out of her house. He said there's a 90% chance she'll throw them out of her house too but, hell, I'll take a road trip for pretty much any reason too. No, I'm not saying that she doesn't need her mother, and maybe her mother can help. She's been hanging up on her mother recently though, so I'm thinking maybe not. We all react differently to stress and we all need help dealing with it. She's reacting with anger. So the cavalry is assembling. I think it's great that they're doing that. I also am aware that if I were "freaking out" my father would say "well, good luck" and leave for bingo. At least that's what he did the last time.

The kid's right, he has NO idea what the hell to do with me.

He liked my hat, though.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Elementary

I had a revelation this morning. More like a Homer Simpson "DOH!" and I have Robert Downey, Jr. and my younger son to thank for it. It started simply enough. Last night, the hubster was out. He volunteers at an organization that gives him great pleasure, and he's usually gone at least one night a week. Well, last night BOTH my sons were home, miracle or miracles.

So after a casserole and "Jeopardy!" and "The Simpsons" we started casting around the TV guide and I landed on "Sherlock Holmes". The dock had just blown up (one of my favorites scenes, btw, not because of the explosion either, although I LOVE explosions, but because it so defines the Holmes/Watson relationship) so we didn't have a LONG way to go. We left it on because both my son and I have fallen head over heels in love with the movie, which rather surprised us both. I have a portrait of Holmes in the dining room, I've had it since before I even MET the hubster. so the boys, of course, have grown up with the gentleman from Baker Street. Personally, I am always suspect of writers and directors taking on the Master.

THIS attempt is MOST satisfying. Holmes as a bad-ass with a human characteristic or two. Not many, but enough. But I digress.

Towards the end of the film, Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr) put on his hat. He does that thing that men in movies do with a fedora, he picked it up and quickly spun it around and settled it on his head. I said "I always wanted to know how to do that." "What? The thing with the hat?" asked my son. "Here, throw me my hat." I took my son's fedora off the to of the coat rack and tossed it to him and, after a second or two, he flipped it.

We spent an hour practicing. We do stuff like that. My older son retreated to his room. Michael Jackson used to make that move with a fedora and last summer my son and a friend of his spent their morning train ride to work trying to figure out how to do it.

So I was thinking about that this morning as I put the hat back. How to do it. And then I decided to look for a hat when I go to the outlets tomorrow (that's the plan, anyway) because I haven't had a hat in quite some time. Baseball caps, yes. Hats, not so much.

I used to wear hats. I had a straw fedora with a dark brown ribbon band and a BIG black picture hat with a white ribbon band and an antique looking hatpin. I had a newsboy cap and a red felt hat. I LOVE hats, I always have. I got married in a hat. From the time I was a small girl I always wanted to get married in a hat. I had no use for veils, I wanted a hat, and I was prepared to change my choice of gown if we couldn't find a hat to go with it. I look good in hats. Although I can't wear a cloche, never could, my face is way too round.

And this was when I had an epiphany. We have no style anymore. There are a dozen older women and men scattered in New York City and Boston who have maintained their style. The rest of us? Not so much. I mean, LOOK at the people walking up and down the street, going into and out of buildings. Can you tell them apart? Tall, short, thin, fat. That's pretty much it. I too, have succumbed to this, and in the last few years, too. I used to have a thing for awesome shirts. I would rather have ONE awesome shirt than six tailored ones. I don't mean crossing the line sort of things. Just really pretty, unusual sorts of things.

See this shirt?

I OWN this shirt. Well, not THAT shirt. Mine has green hydrangeas. It's also bigger. I don't have a staircase and if I did it wouldn't be that neat and clean. But back to the shirt. I haven't worn it in two years, I'm not sure I even know where it is anymore. See, I've never really had any potential, at least that I lived up to, with one exception all I've ever done is work. The hubster, while he has a career, doesn't seem to have a long term job. We go through a LOT of unemployment, and frankly, I don't really make enough to make this a feasible way of life. The economy tanked, he lost another job and, after two periods of unemployment lasting over a year I discovered that our castle was build on sand. Quicksand. We lost the house, the cars, even the dog had to go. We were lucky, we were able to beg, borrow and steal enough to pay an inflated security deposit on a modest, old but sunny apartment and we kept the cat. I don't like the cat but it was something.

It was at this point I stopped wearing cool things like the occasional hat and awesome shirts and started dressing like Ma Kettle. Part of it was the length of time it took me to FIND my clothing, we moved quickly, and not too well. Then, since I no longer had a washer and dryer, I took the dry cleaning budget and moved it to the laundromat and started avoiding clothing that needed professional care. I don't know if it was the lack of self-esteem, the sudden shift to pasta from grilled chicken or something else but once I found my stuff, the buttons were sort of pulling. You know, across the boobs? Now, I see that all the time, is it some sort of style or something? Well, not for me, it's not.

I kind of wonder, if that's not why we're going to hell as a society though. I mean, let's face it, for some reason, when I downsized my environment I upsized my ass. Well, I'll be damned if I'm going to ditch all these shirts to upsize THEM! I like them. I KNOW I need to take off the same effing 50 pounds I've taken off before and I know how to do it, but I fall off the damn wagon too often. I see people every day who look as if they feel JUST like I do. We WANT to conform. Our sense of style consists of what color iPod earphones we use. If we fade into the crowd it doesn't matter where we live, or how much weight we've gained, or how grey our hair is getting or if we need new heels on our shoes.

So, I figure, we need to start small. Build ourselves up gradually, so the shock doesn't kill us. To this end, tomorrow, I am shopping for a hat. Not a hat with a baseball team logo and a bill, either. A real, honest to god hat. One that I can wear with a jacket and put on by rolling it up my arm and settling it on my head from the back. Besides, it's a LOT more satisfying to walk into a store and buy something in a size 7 1/2 than it is to slink into the "special sizes" section and root around for things in double digits with a "W" on the end.

And when I put said hat on I will draw attention to myself. And just what the hell is wrong with that? I figure, it's a circle. If I draw attention to myself I will become aware that people are looking at me and after they admire my guts in wearing a hat in public and make nasty cracks about my age (because only old people wear hats in public) they will then look at my thickening middle. This will then make ME aware of my middle and I will, if history teaches us anything, then DO something about it. And all of this because the hubster went out and my son and I watched a movie. Oh well. Big oaks come from small acorns, or something like that.

Anyway...the game's afoot.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So this is how one falls into old age...pushed from behind.

I have always been spontaneous. Or an optimist or something. At least other people see me as someone who does things on the spur of the moment and has fun. These people are wrong, but I'm okay with the perception, fuzzy though it may be.

Yesterday, thanks to a friend in high places, my two sons, one of their girlfriends and I found ourselves loaded onto luxury VIP tour buses...and I mean REAL VIP buses, they had a potty in the back and working air conditioning. We were then driven in relative comfort downtown where we found ourselves on the periphery of the Video Music Awards.

We got to rub elbows with the rich and famous of the current music scene. Some of them I'd actually heard of, although I only recognized one of them on sight. And, may I just say, Justin Timberlake? You are HOT. Seriously. The elbow rubbing, btw, lasted for approximately 3 seconds until someone got us the hell out of the cool people line and back into the ancillary venue line we belonged in.

We were all lined up according to bus number and proceeded, in an orderly fashion I might add, up several escalators. We hung over a short wall and gawked at the pretty people going by until we were finally herded into the "club". It said it was a club. Right there, on the outside of the building. Now, when I hear I'm going to a club, I figure it's either something like the Elk's Lodge or the Coconut Grove.

Our VIP seats got us 4 on the aisle, three rows in front of the back wall in the upper balcony of what turned out to be a small arena type venue. The "club" utilizes stairs. Up we went. And up. And up. After the fourth landing one of my sons noticed my wheezing and gave me some kind words..."I can see the top, Mom, you can make it". Like HELL. There was a bar at the top of the stairs however, this made the journey somewhat worthwhile.

As I reached the top I had become aware that the muscles in my butt were starting to burn. And twitch. I started to wonder what possessed me to GO to such an event and why hadn't I just handed the tickets over to my kids and said "have fun, buy me a present" but I was pretty much committed now, I couldn't leave until it was over anyway. I was on a fun bus.

We found our seats. We then left, braved the restroom lines and got in line for souvenir t-shirt. About six hours later we were almost to the front when we were told they were shutting the concessions down (briefly) and everyone needed to take their seats so they could start letting in the standby ticket holders. Okay, made sense. We filed back in to our seats. Which were no longer empty.

This is the second time in a little over a WEEK that I've arrived at my ASSIGNED, TICKETED SEATS to find other peoples asses in them. This is getting old. Very old.

My son's girlfriend was the first one in our little line and she seemed to be handling the "out of my damn seats" duty. Well, that's the way I would have handled it, she, I believe, was being a bit more gracious than that. Well, after a minute of staring all over the room and ignoring us the young woman in the aisle seat got up. And then sat back down. Another conversation I couldn't hear ensued at which point she rose again and moved out of the seat. Her three companions continued to occupy their perches. The second girl moved out and now there were just two of us left. Numbers 3 and 4 continued to sit. After several seconds one of them FINALLY opened her mouth and uttered the first words ANY of them had spoken since we arrived back at our seats: "Do we have to move too?"

Well, let's see. Do YOUR tickets say Row H? Gee, sorry, no, they don't seem to say that. Does MY ticket say Row H. Well, I'll be dammed, it DOES! YES, you vapid twit, you DO have to move. Am I out of line here? Granted, it's been awhile since I've had the opportunity to attend social events. Have the rules changed? Does one now buy tickets for a show, receive a seat number and then show up early in order to plunk your ass down in a better seat? In both instances, the show hadn't STARTED yet. These were not people who tried to better their really lousy seats with slightly less lousy seats that had remained empty throughout the first act. These are not people who look at their tickets and say "Oh, I'm so sorry, we're in the wrong row".

These are idiots who come in before the show starts and effing sit down someplace that looks nice and then stare, blankly, at the actual ticket holders when they come in and attempt to utilize their seating assignment. WTF?

I attempted to sit down in my hard won seat, only to discover I didn't fit. A foot and a half of chair space isn't conducive to two and a half feet of my ass. I started to sit and immediately felt the arms of the seat pressing on my butt. I shifted forward, settled my rear end on the front part of the seat and attempted to slide backward, assuming I could just slide my backside UNDER the arms of the seat.

This method has worked before, and technically should have last night. Except the seats were upholstered. So was by butt - I was wearing corduroy slacks. The pants stuck to the upholstery as if they'd been made of Velcro and sliding wasn't an option. My ass moved but the pants stayed, effectively cutting off all circulation to my legs.

After about 10 minutes of this position, I checked to see that the previous occupants of my seat were safely ensconced in their own chairs and suggested to my son that we hit the souvenir stand again, thus allowing me some relief. As we stood in the line I started considering my problem. I realized that my butt is basically soft. It SHOULD compress. So, what if I just sat down? It should compress enough to go through the fixed arms of the seat and then I'd be fine, right?

So back I went, I took a deep breath, and sat. Well, I was right, basically. The arms pushed the sides my ass up and up as I sank lower and lower into the seat. it wasn't a comfortable feeling. Just as I thought I was stuck, the saddlebags suddenly popped through their cage and landed with a thud, eventually settling on either side of my lap and UNDER the arms of the seat. I was in.

As the nature of the show we were seeing was one of high energy and a frenzied audience screaming with enthusiasm we were being directed to stand up about every two minutes. Stand, wave your arms in the air, scream and pretend you can't get enough of Lady GaGa. I finally got things worked out. To rise, I just twisted to my right and was able to sort of drag myself out of the embrace of my seat. To sit I discovered that, if I bent my knees slightly and leaned back until I felt the back of the chair I could then sort of slide down and under the arms from the back, thus avoiding the unpleasant tremors caused by my ass suddenly dropping like a bag of bricks.

And this was my evening. Standing, sitting, waiting in lines, walking in lines and realizing that I was doing this to see performers whos names I had heard but who's faces I wouldn't recognize if they sat on my lap. Well, except for Justin Timberlake. And the guy from the Old Spice commercials, he was there too. Now THAT'S hot.

And as I staggered out this morning and sat in my living room, rubbing my sore feet and gingerly trying to ease my bruised thighs into a pair of jeans I flashed back to a scene from the movie "Stripes". Towards the end, Warren Oates has to jump on top of a moving bus and hang on to the top. As he lands, he announces, to on one in particular:

"I'm gettin' too old for this shit."

Me too, Warren. Me too.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fresh Starts

So, after my brief hiatus, brought on by a raging headache, depression, occasional nightmares and the inability to muster up the energy or the desire needed to put one foot in front of the other and move on with it I finally woke up with half a headache and moderately tired eyes, which, I think, can be attributed to the excessive amount of time I spend staring at a computer monitor playing Mahjong dimensions. Damn, that thing is amazing. I periodically rest my eyes by watching Wipeout!, reading and working on a needlepoint canvass of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Yeah, yeah, I KNOW. I yell at my kids for doing the exact same thing.

Anyway, I woke up early this morning and realized I could probably accomplish something before everyone else got up. My younger son crashed with a friend last night, which left the house amazingly quiet. I managed to get the entire top of my desk cleared off before anyone got up to start moaning that I was throwing away precious 18 month old Taco Bell receipts, so I felt pretty damn good. I also found my check book, a stapler, two watches and a brand new package of sticky notes. So it was a profitable morning.

It was SO profitable, I decided to tackle the mess I had on the dining room table. It wasn't bad and, not only that, it was, for the most part, my mess. Not quite two weeks ago I decided I was going to sell Avon. I wasn't sure I could say that without some sort of permission or one of those registered trademark things. Which I would be perfectly willing to use but my photo-shop skills aren't that good and, as I use a PC keyboard on a Mac, I have no freaking CLUE where to find the keys I need to do something like that without a LOT of effort. And then it occurred to me...I only have 2 or three readers anyway so I really don't see who's gonna object.

The only time I have readers, from various indicators like my e-mails and my periodic banning from other websites, is when I say something that someone from the website that introduced me to the Internet and taught me how to make Internet friends thinks is about them. Granted, at least THREE of the members of its (koffkoffMousePlanetkoffkoff) hierarchy think EVERYTHING is about them and, given those parameters it's kind of hard to deny that a blog about why I don't highlight my hair anymore isn't really some sort of scathing condemnation of their way of life and a serious act of passive aggression.

So I usually don't bother. Although I was once vilified because something I wrote about something else made a former friend think I was writing about her and the completely lousy thing she had done to me. I wasn't, but hey, if she was stuck with a guilty conscience for awhile I consider that a bonus and am MORE than happy to take credit for it. There's a name for that kind of luck, but I don't remember it at the moment. It'll come to me.

Now, this actually has a point. This experience is why I have no small amount of trepidation in trying to sell stuff. I spent a year trying to sell scrapbook crap. And I do mean crap. I was talked into trying it by this self-same guilty conscience ex-friend. No, no one held a gun to my head and made me sign up. I got a LOT of rosy stories about all the money she was making at home and hell, I'm as greedy as the next guy, I wanted more money too. Plus, if I signed up with her, she would win a free trip to some god forsaken place in Minnesota. Minneapolis, I think. It cost me almost $500 bucks to sign up and get a case of stuff I didn't see the use for and then every three months I had to submit at least $500 in sales. I didn't know that many people who went in for serious scrapbooking and the ones I knew that did had little use for this juggernaut of a company the the crap they sold via the time honored American scheme called the multi level marketing plan.

I must admit, I didn't like most of their shit myself. If you do this kind of thing well you have an iota of creativity. And anyone with even that much creativity doesn't need a kit, which is basically what this place was pedaling. Well, after a year of about 100 bucks worth of legitimate sales and close to $2500 in "stock" that I had purchased and shoved into a closet I didn't bother to send in my 5Th quarter order. I had received ZERO support from my up line or down line or clothesline or whatever the hell she was and every time I would contact her regarding some lame idea I had to get rid of this stuff (say a booth at my church's holiday fair or eBay) she was say "well, you know, the contract is very specific in how you can sell, you can't list on the Internet, I doubt anyone at your Church wants to buy your stuff and I've got to go pick up Blinkie at school, later, gator."

To top it off, she got dysentery or something and never even WENT to Green Bay or where ever it was.

I used to drive an hour and a half to go to her house and there were piles of this crap everywhere. I'm not Martha Stewart but was always a mess. So when I saw all of this Avon stuff all over my dining room table, I panicked. BTW, it cost me 10 bucks to sign up with Avon and get the starter kit. Just saying...

Anyway, I was trying to figure out how to squeeze even more storage into a too small apt and my eye suddenly fell on a cabinet at the end of the sofa. The hubster hauled this cabinet home several years ago when they were cleaning out his mother's house after her death. I said "what the hell did you bring THAT home for?" It doesn't match anything we have. It's sort of like an apothecary cabinet except the the little square drawers are double size. It LOOKS like two little drawers but it's really one drawer inside. Sort of like when the Beatles all went into the front doors of their modest little flats, all next door to each other in the opening of Help! and ended up inside the same mansion. I think it was "Help!", I seem to remember it being in color. But I digress.

This cabinet has been moved from place to place over the last seven years, it never fits and I never wanted it in the first place. But the hubster is a member of the "it wasn't nailed down so I took it" school of design and so it follows us around to this day. Well, it occurred to me that that cabinet would be perfect. Little drawers just the right size for catalogs and perfume samples and bags and sales slips and things. For the very FIRST time EVER the little cabinet would have an actually USE!

So I started cleaning out the drawers. Throughout the years we had pretty much used them to shove stuff in that we didn't want anyone to see or meant to go through later.

Apparently my mother-in-law used it for the same purpose. It took me five minutes to pry the top drawer open and get it out of the cabinet. The first 8 1/2 x 11 (yes, I measured it) drawer netted five years worth of ATM receipts, a St. Christopher's medal, my son's missing cell phone from two years ago, two boxes of checks from banks we don't use anymore, a 3 of diamonds Bicycle card (missing from one of the hubster's decks lo these many years), three extension cords, an AC adaptor, several matchbooks from the Thunderbird Hotel (the new Las Vegas Luxury Hotel), half a Christmas candy cane, three sets of unidentifiable keys, a padlock, a utility knife, a fistful of slot club cards, a (thankfully) empty roach motel and several pornographic DVDs, only one of which was mine (hey..."Debbie Does Dallas" is a CLASSIC. I bought it as an investment. Yeah, that's it, an investment...)

The second drawer was pretty much the same. No naughty movies but there was a headless Barbie so now I'm wondering where her head went and when is The Antiques Roadshow coming to the urban village and how much I can get for that DVD along with the headless Barbie? I have two drawers cleaned out and nicely organized with Avon catalogs and fragrance samples and I just pulled the third one, which seems to be mostly full of extension cords. So I won't have to worry about stumbling across any dead cats - my mother-in-law could be wonderful at times but sometimes I watch "Hoarders" and I think holy cow! That place looks like my MILs living room. There was a "Hoarders" marathon on last Monday, after two episodes I started cleaning the bedroom. Right before they found two many years dead cats at the bottom of the pile in that Alabama woman's living room. This kind of stuff worries me. Finding dead cats in my living room.

I never SAID it was logical. It just is. Thinking I have Bright's Disease isn't logical either. I don't even know what Bright's Disease IS. I read that Teddy Roosevelt's wife died from it, which is a shame on several levels. In the first place, it seems as if it should be something nice and non-threatening. Bright's Disease. Doesn't that sound pleasant? In the second place, if she had lived, perhaps Alice Roosevelt wouldn't have turned into such an insufferable brat. I know, I'm rather isolated in thinking that Alice Roosevelt could have used a good smack upside the head. Okay, I'm probably close to alone in knowing who Alice Roosevelt WAS. Point taken.

Although she probably used Avon, it's been around that long. Seriously. I settled on selling a product that elicits the response "oh right, that's the stuff my grandmother uses". Oh well, if I accomplish little else with this venture than finally getting that cabinet cleaned out and organized it will be time well spent.

KISMET! THAT'S what it is! When a whole bunch of little things that aren't related to each other come together and then something worthwhile shakes out. That egotist was convinced that my world revolved around her and no matter what I actually said if you only got out your Little Orphan Annie decoder ring you would realize I was really talking about HER. And she has a guilty conscience (one of the nicest things I can say about her) because she screwed me over and told people I was a liar, a drunk and, probably bi-polar. And then she had the hubster thrown out of a public lobby when she caught sight of him. She's SO guilty she's freaking out because I continue to exist.

Hmmmm. You don't suppose she'd buy some bubble bath from me, do you? Nah, I didn't think so either.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

And don't let the door hit you on the way out...

According to an Internet news story I just read, the History Channel is airing a documentary about the attack on the World Trade Center nine years ago. The attack was nine years ago -the doc will air this week.

They news story states that Condoleezza Rice, in this documentary, says that after the attacks in New York Bush wanted to fly to Washington D.C., like a good little leader. She says she yelled at him, literally raised her voice at him and told him to STAY OUT of Washington D.C. and then hung up on him.

Do you have ANY idea how many times I wanted to do that?

The White House has a listed phone number, you know. Honestly, it just never occurred to me it would be that simple. She then, according to the story, goes on to describe the complete and utter chaos reigning in the Capitol and the White House.

Now THAT’S comforting. It’s nice to know that the leaders of the country were running around like headless chickens during our time of crisis. I thought it was just my crazy neighbor letting her imagination run away with her. Of course, hers WAS the first news report I heard that morning, having opted out of watching television, and frankly I was inclined to believe her. I then ran inside, pulled all the drapes and cowered with the television until I sorted everything out and discovered my neighbor, while understandably nervous, had overreacted a tad. The National Association of 7-11 store owners was NOT getting ready to invade Burbank. Well, any more than they already had, I felt sorry for the guys fixing the Slurpee machine later that afternoon, now THEY looked batshit terrified. Of me.

I also really enjoyed the story Ms. Rice tells about how they were all shoved into the same bunker under the White House, herself, Cheney (and a whole bunch of scared people as yet to be identified) and the Secret Service started throwing non-essential people out because they were running out of air.

My first thought was hell…with all the hot air that gas bag Cheney expels, no wonder. But now I’m thinking, okay, maybe I’ll have to watch the documentary, because I’m wondering just who in the hell designed an emergency bunker and didn’t make provisions for fresh air? Can’t you picture it…Condi Rice, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and god alone knows how many other “essential” personnel all huddled in a windowless bunker, watching the Co2 gauge go up while they frantically took off someone’s sock, ripped the cover off a flight plan and taped a garbage bag together to make a carbon dioxide filter?

Guys? This is the 21st century. You weren’t in a space capsule the size of my bathroom running on less power than my laptop uses. I think someone’s been watching too much Cinemax.

Nine years sort of numbs things, granted. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not sloughing this off as unimportant, or irrelevant. I will admit, it didn’t affect me with nearly the intensity that Kennedy’s assassination did. Jack AND Bobby, yeah, I’m THAT old. Or the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Those were events that profoundly shook my little world and, looking back, had a great deal to do with forming the person I am today.

I do know that the events of September 11, 2001, brought out a LOT of people’s true colors and not just the “leadership” of this country. I talked to my step mother-in-law later that afternoon, as I talked to many people. We’re a nation of phone users when it comes down to it. I told her I had concerns for the hubster’s aunt and uncle, east coasters for many years. Like pretty much everyone I wanted to make sure the people I knew east of the Mississippi hadn’t suddenly decided to go into lower Manhattan and have breakfast at Windows On The World. Irrational fears, granted, but I had them and so did you, admit it. Some of those fears may NOT have been irrational. I understand.

There had been a falling out between my father-in-law and his sisters over a rather shoddy real estate deal he had brokered for them, this I knew. Families fight. All the time. I didn’t think much of it. I asked if anyone had heard from them. My step MIL said she hoped they were IN the World Trade Center.

My step MIL had always exhibited bitch like tendencies but until that day I had NO FREAKING CLUE what a complete and total waste of space she could be. So I learned a valuable lesson. My MIL is a cold hearted witch. The guys at the 7-11 are just as scared of Al-Queda as I am. And Condi Rice is my new hero. She told Bush to stay the hell out of Washington, and he did.

Just not long enough. I'm guessing there wasn't enough positive re-inforcement. You know..."Sit! Stay!'s a treat." She didn't follow through.

I'm reminded of a movie with Sandra Dee and Bobby Darrin. They're newlyweds and very happy until he finds out that she's been using a "how to train your puppy" book on him. Well, comedy ensues and everyone turns out happy in the end. I'm wondering if that might have worked on Bush. Yeah, I know, it's water under the bridge, been there, survived it, moved on. It might be something worth remembering know, just in case...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Take care of business, Mr. Business Man...

Twenty two years ago the hubster and I spent a blisteringly hot Labor Day week-end holed up in a one bedroom apartment, drapes drawn against the sun, the one window air conditioner running 24/7, watching the Jerry Lewis telethon and trying to figure out what to do with this newborn we just brought home. I didn't have a clue then and I haven't a clue now. I mostly fly by the seat of my pants and think of what my mother would have done in the same circumstances. Then I do the opposite.

Labor Day. It's an odd concept. We celebrate Labor by not doing any.

I'm basically okay with that, simply because I get a day off. I have been trudging to the same damn job for closing in on four years now. Every day. I'm one of the few positions in the organization that has to punch a time clock, I feel like the opening scene of "Joe vs. The Volcano" most mornings. They PROMISED me that this position was a "springboard", there would be plenty of opportunity, I'm be out of there and into something that would take advantage of my degree and my certificate in a heartbeat.

HA! And may I say HA!

There's still no work out there and, as far as the internal workings of a company that has already made a billion dollars this year and will make yet another billion on a project they're letting loose in November (I think it's November) I'm still sitting at the same damn desk day in, day out. I have a boss who said I'm not allowed to have pictures or personal items at my desk because if I'm gone they have to get a temp and the temps don't want to have to look at MY things. Things? Um...those are my KIDS, you S.O.B.

But I have a kid in college and a kid who's floating without much direction right now and a husband who doesn't like to work. Geez, dude...I don't LIKE working either! But I do what millions of women before me have done. I shut up and take it. My dream is to do something be3cause it makes me HAPPY and not because it makes me money. My dream is to NOT be working a dead end job from 9-6 and then selling mail order fragrance the rest of the time. Which my father, btw, thinks is hilarious. Thanks, Dad. You know, for all her faults (and she had TONS of them), my mother would have at least BOUGHT something.

I also have a dream that one of these days I will not spend my few days off loading the laundry into tote bags and hauling it on the bus to a laundromat. Yeah, like that's gonna happen any time soon.

I'm not content sitting in the same place, hour after hour, day after day, staring at a monitor. I want to get in a car, and drive, somewhere, ANYWHERE. Do you have any idea how joyous it is to leave your hot apt on a blisteringly hot day, get in your car, drive until you find a beach that looks nice and spend an afternoon dancing in the water's edge? I used to to stuff like that. I drove to the shore about an hour north of here and played in the water and ate crab on the pier.

No more.

I sit in this box and I look for stuff to watch on HBO because there's nothing else to do. I wash dishes and cook and vacuum and clean the toilet. I get to walk to the store and haul the groceries home and I get to take a bus to the laundromat. Because I can provide the bare essentials for my family but little else. I can't provide the registration for the car, that sits in the parking space, filthy and unused since the first of the year.

It's not just me, it's millions of women in this country. We do our best but, because we're woman and because we're mothers and therefore likely to have to leave and pick up a sick kid at school and because we are the ones who actually have a sense of responsibility we get abused by bosses and hiring managers and corporate lackeys. In spite of how far we've come as woman, we've accomplished nothing. Look around you in any corporate headquarters. The receptionists are women. The executive assistants are women. We don't jump from job to job and we seldom end up on the track, fast or otherwise, to advancement. Our destinies are all hitched to the stars of our male bosses.

We STILL, in THIS day and age, are making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Try and find a man that puts up with the crap women put up with.

Which brings me back to Labor Day. When I will spend my day off doing the work I don't have time to do the rest of the week and count the days until Thanksgiving which is my next day off. It's not so very different from that Labor Day week-end 22 years ago. I can't drive a car, I won't leave the apartment and the Jerry Lewis Telethon has been running every since the hubster got home from yet another social event yesterday.

Although at least the boys make their own lunch now...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Aging ungracefully. And damn proud of it.

I woke up this morning feeling as if I'd been run over by a truck.

In the first place, it was already hot. Now heat, in and of itself, isn't my favorite thing in the world but it's summer and it gets hot (at least in this hemisphere) and it's Labor Day. It's just the way it is.

It's the brightness. Instead of waking up, slowly, floating towards the surface, opening one eye, stretching, sneaking a peak at the clock in the grey light I find myself jolted into consciousness as if I've been hit upside the head with a 2 x 4, trying to get my bearings in the blazing light pouring through the impotently closed vertical blinds, wondering how I could possibly have slept until 1pm only to find out it's 6:45.

I got up and staggered to the kitchen to turn on the coffee. Every night, my older son grinds beans, fulls the coffeemaker with 12 cups of water and leaves it for the first person up, all one has to do it push the on button. Nothing. No water. Dammit. Well, okay, we got in late and he went right to bed, okay, I'm not that pissy.

Until I found out we were OUT of coffee.

I've been noticing that lately, when I get up in the morning, my feet don't seem to flex. I waddle out to the kitchen like a two year old, still not fluid in his gait. It seems to take a room or two before I start rolling on to the front of my foot as it leaves the floor instead of just picking the entire thing up and slapping it down again, flat and stiff. This morning, however, it was worse. Not only didn't they flex, they hurt. My knees didn't seem to be in good shape either.

I poured myself a glass of iced tea and waited for god knows what because I certainly had no clue. Everything I had hurt. I looked down at my hands and discovered the palms were swollen and bruised and I remembered. Friday night, the Hollywood Bowl. Earth Wind and Fire. Somewhere between them opening with "Shining Star' and the last frenzied set which, I'm embarrassed to say, started with me jumping to my feet and screaming "DO IT!" as I sensed "September" finally coming up and ended with "Hearts Afire" I not only tore up my vocal cords and abused the good natured blood vessels in both palms I also, in retrospect, most likely made an idiot of myself.

Yeah, like THAT'S never happened before. Fortunately, when one goes ape shit at a sold out outdoor concert it's nothing you have to really live with. I mean, everyone else is doing the same thing. Well, except the hubster, which is partly the reason I'm in this condition today.

Seven of us made out way Friday night to the not quite but might as well be the cheapest seats in the Hollywood Bowl. I walked to the market Friday morning, stocked up on chicken, bread, hummus, pita, tea (for the iced tea) and all kinds of long Labor Day Week-end crap. I had so much I couldn't haul it home and had to call a cab.

It's not a long ride, by any means, but in the interest of frugality I told him to drop me off at the corner, which saved me about six bits in cab fare. My son called his father and asked him to meet us at the corner and help haul the bags home. The hubster, unbeknownst to us, had decided to ride along with my younger son, who was on his way to the computer store to have his laptop fixed.

Had I known this I would have sprung for the extra buck for the cab, as we were lugging 4 2 liter bottles of soft drinks, several cans of chili, 10 pounds of chicken pieces and 24 rolls of toilet tissue. We grabbed everything we could juggle and ended up leaving the toilet paper under the tree in front of the apartment building on the corner. Fortunately, it was still there when I went back for it.

I sprawled on the coach in front (kind of, it's in the path anyway) of the air conditioner and watched a movie on cable I'd never seen. It started out on Cape Cod or Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard or someplace like that. Very rich and a lot of beach with very cool breezes and an ocean to walk in. I hated those people.

My son came in. Without his father. Who had, for some reason, decided that, as long as he was on the west side he might as well go to Pasadena and have some cuff links polished. We have tickets for a concert, we're going with another family who is picking us up at 6:30 and it's now 5pm and he's in Pasadena having cuff links polished. So it's hot, and I'm now baking chicken stuffed in loaves of bread so the oven's on and I didn't get it in as early as I wanted to so I'm worried about not being ready to go when our friends show up at 6:30 and I have no idea why he picked THIS afternoon to have cuff links polished.

Well, it turned out fine. Our friends didn't leave their house until 6:30, I had plenty of time to get the chicken out of the oven AND find a place to pack it, as the picnic basket I had been assured was in the storage bin downstairs was actually a magazine basket. I guess when you're a guy and you've seen one wicker basket...

So there we are, seven us us, finally having convinced the people who were sitting in our seats that they WERE in our seats and then having to explain, many times that yes, we DID want to sit in them sitting down RIGHT as the lights went down. I'm fumbling in the dark trying to get plates and unwrap the chicken, which I can't really see. The hubster is holding the canvass tote with the insulated lining, which he held on to the entire concert. I mean, as in his LAP. I wasn't able to get the hummus or the pita chips out. Or the cookies I bought for dessert. I finally was able to pry the top off and get some plastic forks out.

Our friends had opened the wine they had brought and were, nicely, asking about the plastic glasses I had brought. Which were...yep, you guessed it. In the tote in the hubster's lap. That took 10 minutes. We then embarked on the ritual "my wine is better than your wine" I"m trying to applaud but my lap is full of chicken and paper plates. I finally decided to hell with it and just started showing everything under the bench seats, chicken bones, used plates, leftover chicken, you name it.

Well, we sorted ourselves out at intermission, my son's girlfriend found trash bags, the hubster opened bottle number three and I was able to finally sort everything out. He was, however, still clinging to the insulated tote. I kept asking for the hummus and chips and decided it was a lost cause.

Now, unless the hubster has chosen the show he spends every play or concert sitting firmly in his seat, exhibiting little emotion other than boredom, although this was the first time he spent three hours with a cooler in his lap. I tend to feel foolish responding with enthusiasm when I'm sitting next to him and usually sort of shrink into my seat.

However, about 15 minutes in to the second part of the evening bottle #4 was uncorked, at which point I figured pretty much everyone else in the Bowl was on their feet and dancing, what the hell? There was Earth, Wind and Fire. There were fireworks. I didn't HAVE a cooler to hug so I just sort of vamped.

We staggered in about 12:30am. Yes, that USED to be an early evening, hell, coming in at 12:30 used to mean it was a work night. Now? Yeah, not so much. It was a fabulous evening but at 12:30 all I knew was that my feet hurt, my back ached from being squeezed into a seat next to a guy sitting with a beer cooler in his lap, my hands hurt and I had to pee something awful. This maturity thing really sucks at times like this.

The boys and I ate the hummus and pita for breakfast and discussed going to see Pink Martini at the Bowl next week-end. I gave my son my bank card and send him down to the local coffee house for a bag of beans. The hubster finally emerged a little before noon. The pounding sinus headache I woke up with started easing up about two hours ago and I finally came out of the bedroom. My eyes stopped burning too. I've obviously had some sort of allergic reaction to something blooming around here, brought on by the warm nights and sleeping with the window open.

Because it sure as hell couldn't have been the wine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The pause that refreshes.

I must have been about 5 years old the first time I saw the Hollywood Bowl.

It looked just like this back then, except it was daylight. There was a pool and water and it was one of the most mesmerizing things I had ever seen. There I was, in my yellow dress with the full skirt, the one with the tulips all around the hem, my hair in braids, my white anklets trimmed in lace, my hand in that of my father.

I had no idea where we were going, I wasn't really sure where we were when we got there. To this day I have no idea why my mother wasn't there (Okay, I have an idea, but no reason to go there just yet). And we sat down in this open place and we waited, with hundreds and hundreds of other similarly clad children and their parents.

And after what was at least a YEAR of wondering why we were there, the orchestra played some really cheerful music, mostly with flutes, that I remember to this day. And out came:


If you don't know who the Captain was, well, I actually feel sorry for you. The Captain raised me. The closest thing to the Captain would be Mr. Rogers. Like Fred Rogers, Captain Kangaroo never talked down to me. He liked me. And there he was!

He had the orchestra behind him. The Captain always had music, always. And they never played things like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" either. They played real, honest to God music. Because the Captain assumed that, even though we were five and six, we heard the same notes in "The March of the Toreadors" that everyone else did and that we would like it. And we did. Well, I sure as hell did, anyway.

Mr. Green Jeans was there, and so was Dancing Bear and Bunny Rabbit. I don't remember if Grandfather Clock was there, so I'm guessing he wasn't. And the orchestra played LeRoy Andersen's "The Typewriter Song" and a man wearing a green eye shade sat at a table at the front of the stage with an old manual typewriter and he typed so fast and he would always seem to reach the end of the line just in time to ring the bell and fling the carriage back so they could start all over again.

Every time I walk into the Hollywood Bowl I have the same feeling I had on that spring afternoon. Last week I took my son with me and heard some amazing Gershwin. A few boyfriends and I have nestled in the cheap seats in the back with a bottle of wine and Beethoven. No, not at the same time, get your minds out of the gutter. There has been a sunny June week-end or two lost at the Playboy Jazz Festival. I saw Van Cliburn there. Twice. The Beethoven he played was good, the Tcahikovsky just soared.

I've seen Cleo Laine, Anthony Newley and Ray Charles there. Henry Mancini was an essential. I don't remember how many times I saw The Boston Pops with Fiedler...they used to come out every summer. I've heard the "New World" and "Birdland" and "Last Train to Clarksville" there.

There have been changes in the 50+ years since I saw it first. The water is gone, replaced by very expensive box seats. The shell has been replaced a few times too. But the bowl remains essentially the same. When your there, that's all there is. Warm summer nights, picnics, music and stars. There's no Hwy 101 roaring towards downtown just outside the trees, no traffic jams snaking their way into Hollywood.

I'm going again this week-end, me, the hubster, two sons, a girlfriend and her parents. Along with a LOT of chicken, pasta salad, pita and hummus, maybe some brie, some cookies and a bottle or two of wine. It's a strange circle of a journey, from my father and me and Captain Kangaroo to my sons and their dates and Earth, Wind and Fire. Seven seats, on the aisle, in the back.

And I won't even think about contracts or bills or people that annoy me. There's no room for paranoia there. All the space is taken up with music and crickets and trees and the sounds of 16000 people all leaving their stress in the parking lot. I don't care if anyone watches me. I don't care who likes me or thinks I'm smart or stupid. I just AM.

I think we don't spend enough time just being. Not being anything in particular, just being. No watches, no blogs, no reports, no Monday mornings. See, I've been thinking of that poor guy today, the one who lost it and tried to hold the Discovery Channel hostage. Because, among other things, he wanted them to stop glorifying people having HUGE families and sapping the planet's resources. I kind of get it. If nothing else, I really get not wanting to look at the Duggers. But how frightened must that man have been? He was convinced that the planet is being destroyed and that the Discovery Channel is glorifying people like the Duggers who sap it's resources and abuse it's space.

I really feel bad about this. This poor man lived his life worrying about what other people are doing. Now, yes, there is validity to that. The planet IS special, and it's all we've got. But living one's life in fear, full of suspicion and worry and anger, well, that's just gonna get you dead.

There are things we SHOULD worry about. And times we should worry about them. And then there are times we should forget about it for awhile. Times we should just talk to a friend about how good the corn on the cob is this season. Times we should rub the dogs tummy. Times we should read a book or quote "Casablanca". Times we should just come together in one lovely place and surround ourselves with something beautiful and be glad we're there and NOT worry about where the funding for the arts is coming from.

In the morning it will be soon enough. For now...just BE.