31 October 2008

Ghostbusters

The son, dressed as the Master Chief, is standing outside the front door with the candy basket, scaring the bejesus out of all the kids who come to the door. The adults are loving it. The son is having the time of his life.

The daughter, dressed in camo, is running about the neighborhood collecting candy, while her father chaperones her, collecting beer and Milk Duds. That's our 'hood. Even the parents get treats.

I've got the pumpkin seeds, gleaned from the three pumpkins the kids and I carved this afternoon, roasting in the oven.

This afternoon, Milton met the iron cats that have been our Halloween decorations for years. He ran at them, hissing furiously, and then suddenly realized they might not be the threat he thought. He had to regroup and decide which one he was going to kill first.

















It's a lovely evening and the street is filled with screaming ghouls.

















Happy Halloween.

Go listen to some good music: "Ghostbusters" from the album Greatest Hits by Ray Parker Jr..

30 October 2008

Don't fear the reaper

I got an email from a friend telling me that Rush's Hemispheres is 30 years old.

(Same friend who asked me if I'd seen the Moving Pictures tour, looked at me again, and then said, "No way, you'd have been too young." Dear man, I will adore you always for that!)

I avoid the total fangirl posts (but I'm a rotten fan in that I don't keep track of how old records are, what exact songs were played each tour--look, I'm lucky if I remember what day it is when I get up in the morning--don't visit message boards, etc. However, I'm a great fan in that I buy all the records, tapes, CDs, mp3s and play them until they fall apart (or until the spouse hides them from me, which is what happened with Counterparts) and I have to buy another copy. And I go to concerts. Geez, do I go to concerts.)

Anyway.

Hemispheres.

I was a young teen when Hemispheres came out. I had very little discretionary income in those days, mostly what I could earn babysitting and watering people's yards when they went out of town, and most of that went to keeping me decently clothed. So records were precious and rare in my youth. But that didn't stop me from hanging out in record stores, digging through the bins, checking out the artwork, reading song titles and album notes, and keeping mental lists of what I would buy someday.

A year later, autumn 1979, I was on deadline to choose music for a solo I had to choreograph (that's what happens in dance classes. My grade was dependent on a solo I had to choreograph for myself and perform the following spring). The dance teacher decided I needed to be pushed a little out of the box at that point, and told me my piece had to be classical--even though it was a modern dance class. I was also banned from classical lite (think Tchaikovsky).

So there I was standing in the Wherehouse at Park Mall, early evening, cradling a Bach album in my arms.

I had $10.

Albums in those days cost about $3.98. I'd given myself the gift of choosing a second album since I was being forced to spend my hard earned cash on something for school.

What do I remember about that evening? I was hungry because in those days I tended to skip lunch in order to get homework done. I was tired because it was one of the days that I had six hours of dance in addition to a full load of academic classes, and whatever effervescence I'd gotten from my afternoon TAB had long since run out. I remember how the fluorescent lights in the store seemed so harsh.

What do I really remember? I was wearing a dress! Which may be why the clerk started talking to me.

I was running my fingers over the records in the bins, thinking about what I wanted to buy (something loud...). In the rack above the bin was Hemispheres. In the rack next to it was Blue Oyster Cult's Agents of Fortune.

I took the Hemispheres LP down from the rack, tracing the contours of the brain on the cover with my fingertip. That cover art just screamed at me. That cover art was my life.

(Which is at least one reason why I remember this particular occasion so well.)

My parents had little patience for me in general, but even less with the way I liked to juggle my life. In their view, my life was to be going to church, succeeding academically and becoming a lawyer (their random career choice for me), and dating one of the nice young men in the CYO group. It wasn't supposed to be dancing and performing, excelling academically in everything--especially math and science, working at the local PBS TV station, and persistently hanging out with nice young men of the wrong religion (come to think of it, I don't believe I ever dated a Catholic).

I looked at Agents of Fortune. I liked "Don't Fear The Reaper," which I'd heard on the local AOR station.

"Get Hemispheres," said the clerk, a tall, very skinny young man with wire rim glasses and a blonde Afro.

"Hmm," I replied. The real issue was I knew a song on the BOC album. I didn't get to buy albums very often...

"Really. Get Hemispheres," the clerk persisted, looking slightly doubtfully at the Bach album I was holding. "You'll like it."

So the story should end with me bearing off Hemispheres in triumph, a confirmed Rush fan for life.

Nope.

I bought the Blue Oyster Cult album. Rush had to wait another few years ("Tom Sawyer," of course. Just how irresistible would that line "mind is not for rent to any god or government" be to an older teenage pain in the neck like me? And believe me, by then I'd established exactly how big a pain in the neck I could be). Signals was the album that claimed me for good.

(The son has just discovered that album, after hearing "The Analog Kid" on the radio a few weeks ago, and suddenly he's listening to Rush like he's found a new religion.)

Agents of Fortune? I listened to "Don't Fear the Reaper." I didn't find the rest of the album very compelling.

I performed my solo to Bach's "Little Fugue in G Minor" in March 1980. It's a beautifully triumphant and moving piece of music, and I still listen to that album. I got an "A" in the class.

In 2002, I unintentionally put on a performance to Rush's "Circumstances" for several neighbors. I had no idea anyone was standing outside the window, but while grand jeté-ing the length of the house, I caught sight of them standing there, mouths ajar.

I have no idea what they thought, but I gave myself an "A" just for the shock value.

Go listen to some good music: "Don't Fear the Reaper" from the album Agents of Fortune by Blue Oyster Cult.

29 October 2008

If there's a rocket tie me to it

(If you're looking for a download, you won't find one here.)

Shopping alert for North Central Orange County:

Since I've had to visit every grocery store in this part of the county hunting down non-perishables for holiday food boxes, I thought I'd let the grieving know that there are a couple of stores out there that still have some Mother's cookies. Only a few varieties--I think you're only going to find Circus Animals on ebay at this point. I'm not a big fan of commercially-produced cookies, but I know a lot of people are on the look out since the company shut down operations a few weeks ago.

(I bought my family a farewell package of Circus Animals when I heard the company had shut down. They love those nasty little pink and white cookies. The son wanted to frame the empty bag, and he took me to task for abominating two of his favorite food groups: Circus Animals and Peeps).

It's been another run-around day.

My little Camry, which is now over 11 years old, has only one real problem (other than the fact that the battery dies, something to which I object strenuously), and that is a screwy connection in the right turn signal. Toyota has looked at it, fiddled with it, replaced it, and it still occasionally will suddenly do double time. The last mechanic who messed with it told me, "I hate to say this, but just slug the car here." And he slugged it there, and the turn signal resumed its normal rhythm, and that's what I've been doing ever since.

This morning, on my post-grocery and post-Trader Joe's runs, I turned into the Office Whomever (can't keep track of which is Depot and which is Max) parking lot, and the turn signal began to double time. I was highly distracted (as usual), and only remembered that I wanted to smack it after I started off to the store. So I turned around, smacked it, and the car alarm went off. That's never happened before, and of course, everyone had to look. But now the turn signal is working properly again.

And yesterday, grocery again, I finally had to break down and pay $6 for a fresh pumpkin. After, of course, upending myself in the bin trying to grab the one at the bottom.

We'll just bypass what happened with the soy sauce.

Been that kind of day...month...quarter.

Go listen to some good music: "If There's a Rocket Tie Me To It" from the album A Hundred Million Suns by Snow Patrol.

28 October 2008

The tell-tale heart

I know; I'm sorry. My heart is not in this.

I am told that I am being too nice, pulling too many punches, and yet, I feel as angry and mean-spirited as the best of them.

My heart is not handling any of it well. Unfortunately, in my case, this is literal. My heart is disordered; it's not something I talk about.

(No, I'm not going to drop dead. And I tend to ignore it. We've been engaged in this delicate dance for many years. Occasionally it feels the need to remind me that it can knock me off my feet, steal my breath, make it difficult to carry a load of laundry 10 yards. Mostly it's a pain in the...chest).

On the up side, my life is so boring at the moment, I really have nothing to write about. I think this might be a blessing. I need some time to regroup. So much has happened this year; there's been no time to assimilate.

No time to breathe.

I've signed up for NaBloPoMo again (god only knows why! My last post from last November has evidently become a hit amongst shoe fetishists. My, isn't the blogosphere a weird place! Live and learn, I guess).

So I need to conserve my energy for posting every day in November, anyway. And then we'll go where my mood takes us.

(Scary thought!)

Go listen to some good music: "The Tell-Tale Heart" from the album Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Alan Parsons Project. I think this counts as the first prog album I owned. Thirty years later, it's still a great collection.

26 October 2008

Mad world

I started watching Mad Men early in the second season.

Wow.

I strong-armed the spouse into watching it, too, of course. We were both born in the 1960s, although I was born later than what we've seen thus far. Even so, the show resonates with certain aspects of my childhood, including Peggy's Catholic upbringing (I had to wear a chapel veil to Mass despite the reforms of Vatican II, and when I made my first Communion, we were still dressed up like little brides. Weird!). Tonight I watched the season finale, and all I'll say about it is that choosing to end it with the Cuban missile crisis was just eerie.

I've often wondered exactly how that event shaped those of us born in the dead zone between the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Somehow, it seems to have lodged in our DNA. Nuclear war always seemed to be a given rather than a possibility, a when rather than an if. Then again, the fact that I spent my earliest years in Washington, D.C., and my later childhood and adolescence ringed by Titan missiles might have given me a rather fatalistic viewpoint.

It's interesting that the show evidently has so much influence. While I find myself longing for some of Betty's beautiful outfits (but not the pointy bras or girdles), I am simultaneously appalled by the blatant racism, classism and sexism demonstrated by the characters. Not that we ever see any of that today. Of course.

And divorcees! Both the spouse and I remember the exact names of the one family each of us knew that featured a divorced mother raising children on her own. Both of us remember the hushed conversations of other mothers discussing these single-parent families. And this was 10 years after the events depicted on Mad Men!

What's interesting about the show, too, is the post-World War II selling to the U.S., which predates the end of that century's selling of the U.S. What does this country actually produce any more? There is no more Bethlehem Steel. While American Airlines continues to fight for life, who remembers Eastern Airlines? TWA? Pan Am?

A mad world, indeed.

Go listen to some music: "Mad World" from the album The Hurting by Tears for Fears.

24 October 2008

Half the world

Music wars!

My neighbor is blasting some old disc with people yodeling in a garlicky language (ok, I know damn well what it is, but so what?), and I am retaliating with Vapor Trails. It goes to 65 on the Bose system in my bedroom.

The word of the day: feisty.

I'm not a political blogger, never have been and have no interest in being one.

I am, however, a woman, an investor, a taxpayer, a mother of a son and daughter.

And this election matters to me.

(Yeah, so this is my opinion. Your mileage may vary. But remember that objects in the mirror are closer than they appear).

What is wrong with people? I've never seen an election that was so acrimonious at the voter level. People are polarized on every issue. Common sense, common courtesy are out the window.

(No, I am not voting in favor of legislating the ability of egg-laying hens, pregnant pigs and veal to stretch their legs (wings, whatever). Not because I'm cruel but because the proposition is asinine. PEOPLE! Vote with your buying dollar! If you want animals to be raised humanely, then only buy from producers that treat animals humanely. You can easily find lists of those who do. Buy their products!)

There was never much chance that I'd vote for John McCain. I lived in Arizona for a long time, and while I honor McCain for his service to the country, it doesn't make him presidential material. He endured things as a prisoner of war that no human anywhere should ever be asked to endure. While I also respect him for enduring what he did, I don't see him as the leader this nation needs.

Keating Five, seeming inability to control his tantrums (perfect behavior for a world leader!) and Sarah Palin. What's to love?

Whether or not McCain was the most reprehensible of the Keating Five, I don't know. I was pretty disgusted with all of them, but probably most disappointed with Dennis DeConcini, someone known to me from childhood, someone with whom I'd shared family dinner at his home when I was the same age as my daughter is now. And while McCain may have been cleared of everything but "poor judgment," is this the person you want leading the country? Especially now? I don't.

The temper issue pretty much speaks for itself. It's embarrassing to watch him lose control.

Sarah Palin. I'm not sure what it is about her that offends me the most. That she'll stoop to using her children for her own gain; that she's demonstrated a startling lack of understanding in what states have the authority to mandate versus what the Federal government determines; that she is apparently unable to differentiate between "private" worship of God and attempting to turn the U.S. into a theocracy (same cite). That she has little understanding of the job of vice president? We won't even discuss her foreign policy "experience."

But really, the worst? She's an embarrassment, too, and I don't want her representing me to the rest of the world. I don't see anything about her that I can hold up for my daughter and say, yeah, this is what you want to be like. I was railing to the spouse the other night that I. WOULD. LIKE. TO. SEE. A. REAL. ROLE. MODEL. FOR. MY. DAUGHTER. IN. POLITICS.

(The daughter, of course, appeared at that exact moment and chirped happily, "You mean someone like you, Mommy?")

On the other side of the ticket:

Barack Obama. He's really kind of a non-starter for me. There just seems to be a lack of substance, not one thing I can really sink my teeth into and say, yeah, this is the guy for me. Or yeah, this *isn't* the guy for me. I like his wife, though, and I wish she was running. She reminds me a lot of me, though she needs to lose the potato sacks. Oh, wait, I'm guilty of potato sacks, too (beat you to it, D.).

And Joe Biden. EWWWW. Just EWWWWW. Exactly how strongly can I say EWWWWWWWW?

I've been telling people I'm sitting on the fence with regards to the election, which wasn't strictly true. I was sitting on the fence about who I was going to write in on my ballot: real person vs. dead cat. But I had two conversations last week, both with women in their 70s, and both those women offended me so deeply with what they said about the election, that I changed my mind about how I'm voting.

But I'm worried. We are living in very scary times right now.

Go listen to some good music: "Half the World" from the album Test for Echo by Rush.

23 October 2008

Bloody well right

Back in August, I wrote in graphic detail about how the son and I happened onto a crime scene--a car accident--and how harrowing it was to literally stumble upon the place on the sidewalk where the girl who died was bleeding out. I sat down and wrote that post within minutes of returning home, and the point was to put you, the reader, where I had been that morning with as much horror as I could summon up in words.

Really, there aren't words.

According to the local newspaper, 17-year-old Milad Mouyali has been charged as an adult in the murder of his 16-year-old passenger. At the time of the accident, he was allegedly traveling between 102 and 112 mph. His blood alcohol level was .11.

His learner's permit had been suspended the day before.

Go listen to some good music: "Bloody Well Right" from the album Crime of the Century by Supertramp.

22 October 2008

Neon bible

The daughter: "I was SO mad today."

Me: "Why?"

The daughter: "On the way home from PE, I saw a sign that said 'Yes on 8.'"

Me: "That made you mad? I wouldn't get het up over a sign. We have one of those in our very own neighborhood."

The son and the daughter in unison: "We DO?"

Me, laughing: "Yeah."

The son: "WHO?"

The daughter: "I'm gonna go tear it down!"

Me, to the son: "Who do you think?"

Me, to the daughter: "You will do no such thing."

The son: "WHO?"

The daughter: "Why not?"

I tell them who and add: "Who else? Look, first of all, we are not the sort of people who deface other people's signs. Second, they have a right to their own opinion; they are guaranteed that right in this country, whether we agree with their opinion or not."

I look at my two sulky children.

Me: "And third, would you deny them the opportunity to demonstrate to the world their intolerance, hypocrisy and willingness to fly in the face of the Christ they hold so dear?"

They stare at me for one second before bursting in raucous laughter.

The son: "What was that Bible verse, again?"

Me: "Matthew 7:12."

The daughter: "Make the sign. Please..."

Me: "Of course Matthew 7:1 is good, too."

The son: "Well, use one of them."

Me: "'Matthew 7:12. No exceptions made.' Has a nice ring, doesn't it?"


****

Proposition 8 is not a religious issue, though it's being treated as such by the religious right. "God said..." "The Bible says..." Cherry picking Bible verses, as usual. Possibly the funniest argument is "Do it for the children..." in a trailing wail. Yeah, I'd say preserving marriage for same-sex couples is certainly good for their children.

The second funniest argument is the one about the "sanctity" of marriage. Really? With a 50% divorce rate?

But the red herring being thrown into all of this is what might happen in public schools. There is no provision anywhere for the concept of gay marriage to be taught in public schools, although tolerance is already taught, and Prop 8 will in no way change that. Religious righters, if you don't like what happens in the public schools, pull your kids out. You are not entitled to determine the curriculum of the public schools, and while I'm a taxpayer who is supporting said schools, you won't be. I am also not entitled to determine the curriculum of the public schools, which is why I pay fantastic sums for my children to be privately educated.

One of the things that mystifies me about the whole debate is why do the supporters of this measure feel so threatened? I've been married for 20 years come December, and am raising two beautiful children who are filled with common sense and compassion for their fellow human beings. It really doesn't matter to me if a man and a woman, two men or two women join in a union and call it marriage. Love is not governed by a definition of one man, one woman. Love is what love is.

I've taught my children that they should read the Bible because it is a great work of literature and history. Is it the Word of God? Perhaps, but only through the translation of fallible humans. I've also taught them that the 10 commandments are a good basis for good behavior, but that we were given one very simple rule to follow, and it's the hardest rule we could ever be asked to follow.

Matthew 7:12.

No exceptions.

Go listen to some good music: "Neon Bible" from the album Neon Bible by Arcade Fire.

18 October 2008

When the world is running down

We have entered a very social time period: cocktail parties, dinner tonight in Newport Beach, and yet another celebratory meal tomorrow.

Parties.

Usually, I'm reasonably social, but right now I'd like to take to my bed with a good book.

(At the moment, I'm reading Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News? How prescient that title! Her books tend to be violent and unbearably sad, but there is something about her writing style that appeals to me. I suppose I shouldn't admit that I can definitely relate to some of her female characters.)

I never did get to the cocktail celebration I was supposed to attend last night for a friend and former colleague who was just voted into the National Academy of Sciences, a huge honor for him. I have guilt, but it's been a very long week.

The daughter gave me a little test from her health textbook last weekend, and while I'd readily admit I wasn't paying much attention while she was asking me questions, and while I'd certainly acknowledge that the answers I was allowed to choose were not the responses I'd have in real life, I was really annoyed when the daughter pronounced me "a serious pessimist."

Because I'm not.

There's plenty to be pessimistic about, no doubt. The world financial situation, the presidential election (really, imagine a world where Sarah Palin is the first female president of the U.S. Completely appalling, and a completely different appalling from Hillary Clinton as the first female president of the U.S.), the increase in crime (violent crime, you bet, but the daughter's snack was stolen two days ago, at a school where none of the student body is exactly going hungry).

If anything, my attitude toward all of the above has been rather awfully optimistic (except for the theft of the daughter's snack. The thief also stole the skip from her step, which to me is unforgivable), and I'm starting to feel guilty--or perhaps slightly insane--that I am actually fairly happy, when I'm not raving in ecstasies of rage at the infernal idiots who got the world into its current mess. So the combination of guilt and irrational exuberance is weighing on me as well.

I dropped the idea for Dallas altogether (guilt, mainly, but also the hassle suddenly seemed unbearable, which was probably fed by the guilt), though Coldplay is on. So there.

So, dinner tonight...

Living in Southern California, I'm no stranger to heavily hyped restaurants. More often than not, the food is mediocre and the service is dreadful and after a brief time in the limelight said restaurant mercifully sinks into oblivion. Periodically, of course, you find a gem. Tonight's restaurant wasn't quite a gem, but it wasn't mediocre, either.

It wasn't promising that the person who more or less greeted us at the door, kept telling me in a vacuous way that we'd be seated shortly, using a tone of voice that indicated "I told you!" although the only thing I'd said was the name under which we had a reservation.

Fortunately, once we were seated, our waiter appeared quite promptly to offer cocktails. He was roughly the shape of Jack Black, with something of the same deadpan mien, and a haircut straight out of my high school yearbook.

I got a bit nervous when I ordered the house martini and he started listing the ingredients, using the word "essence."

By the time I had three sips of my martini (it was really very good, essence or no), and Jack was back to make menu suggestions, I was actually giggling every time he said "essence." There was lamb essence (ewwww!) and lobster essence (a somewhat more palatable idea in the context of the dish). My salad (baby greens with pears and goat cheese and...stuff...sans essence) was nice, though ultimately I wished I'd gone for the micro Iceberg (if only to see what micro Iceberg looked like) with buttermilk dressing and and bleu cheese. My scallops (with lobster essence) were a bit rubbery, though the risotto had a very fresh taste. The chocolate souffle was perfect. Unfortunately, the peaches in the peach cobbler were unripe, which wasn't very nice.

Then there were our fellow diners. An interesting lot. Definitely some mutton attempting essence of lamb. A wanna-be George McFly yapping on his Blackberry. A group behind us holding hands and singing "Kumbaya." Me, giggling helplessly into my martini.

It was all very entertaining.

Go listen to some good music: "When the World is Running Down" from the album Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police.

15 October 2008

Monster mash

Oh JOY!

We finally got BOO-ed last night.

No, not booed, as in we put on a performance and they booed us offstage. We were BOO-ed.

Here in the 'hood, every Halloween, someone starts with the BOO-ing. They give two of the neighbors treats anonymously, along with a big sign that says BOO! and instructions to BOO the next recipient. It's cute and fun, and it's nice to see the BOO signs proliferating on people's doors (you put your BOO sign out to indicate that you've received your treat).

Every year, the daughter sits in a state of nervous anticipation, waiting for the night when someone bangs on our door.

(I sit in resigned anticipation because I'm the one who has to put the next two BOO baskets together. The rules are you have to do yours the next night. Here's an example of the game. Ours is a bit different, but you get the idea.)

Last night, someone pounded on the door. The daughter ran down the hall, fairly quivering in her PJs.

False alarm. UPS.

An hour later, BANGBANGBANG!

The daughter, who was studying for her pre-algebra quiz, quivered again.

LO!

BEHOLD!

A plastic pumpkin sat on our doormat.

"Thank you!" I yelled out into the darkness.

Everyone does things a little differently, every year. Last night, we received a bag of homemade cookies, some packages of candy, a package of spider web decoration (I guess that's a hint that I'm behind on decorating the yard), and some light sticks.

Today, I baked cupcakes (German chocolate cake) to be distributed in our BOO baskets, along with candy and some Halloween tchotchkes. We live in the kind of neighborhood where you bake cookies and cupcakes for your neighbors.

Tonight after dinner, the daughter and I collected up the baskets and set out in the dark to see who didn't have a sign on the door. The moon was hanging low in the sky, nearly full. We were hit really early this year, so there were still plenty of houses where we could leave our goodies. We dropped our first basket off at the next door neighbor. I stood behind a clump of bushes while the daughter crept up to the door and banged on it, thundering away before it was opened. Once the coast was clear again, we set out down the street once more.

Mostly, we try to make sure that the houses that have younger kids get treats first. A lot of them already did, so the daughter left the second basket at our across-the-street neighbor.

As the daughter pounded down the street toward me, she hissed, "I think they saw me!"

"Yeah," I replied, "but they probably couldn't tell who you were in the dark."

"Probably," she considered.

We walked in silence for a moment.

"You know, Mommy," she said, in a voice filled with satisfaction, "I love doing that."

Go listen to some good music: "Monster Mash" from the album The Original Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers.

14 October 2008

I love rock n' roll

This had me laughing out loud:

Don't let another day go by without patting yourself on the back for being the incredible person you are, dear Gemini. It could be that you are constantly striving for perfection, but never satisfied with all the work you've done and the person you really are. Remember that the cleanliness of your house is not a reflection of the cleanliness of your soul. Give yourself a break.

Damn straight. A clean soul is better than a clean toilet any day.

I don't know why my horoscope shows up on my browser every morning, but it's always random as can be.

Now, down to business:

Bless you, Sarasota, for making me laugh at 6:30 in the morning.

Google image search: "what to wear to a rock concert."

Seeking fashion advice from the woman who hates to shop and has no fashion sense. Yikes!

Over the last couple of weeks, more came here searching for the same thing...

I'm a middle-aged mother. Who strives for appropriate. Full coverage, preferably without panty lines.

I am also practical. Rock concerts can be messy.

(I don't think I'm going to elaborate on "messy." Just search the blog for "beer." I've been blessed that it's been nothing worse, and even had a 10 concert run where nothing was spilled on me. But that's balanced by a very memorable night involving a Hummer limo for transportation to and from a concert...oh, man. I'm sure I don't even have to say that I don't drink alcohol in any form at these things.)

So, jeans, shirt, boots. That's my uniform. A sweater if it's cold; sleeveless tee if it's boiling (let's hear it for the Eddie Bauer Essential Crewneck Sleeveless Tee in red and black! They're indestructible and inexpensive). My favorite jeans this last round were NYDJ skinny jeans in black and Joe's Jeans, Honey fit, Gigi wash (yup, the infamous they'll-stay-in-my-closet-forever jeans). Everything machine washable, except the boots, which are leather and can be cleaned, too.

Then there's the lipstick. I generally don't carry a purse of any sort, but I always carry my lipstick. Laura Mercier Stickgloss in Baked Earth.

And there you have it. What the not-exactly-fashionable but very pragmatic woman wears to a rock concert.

When I'm traveling, I pack an extra plastic bag for whatever I wore to the concert. Nothing like stale beer wafting out of one's carry-on during a TSA inspection. Even better when one's leaving a foreign country!

(You know, I have this whole thing down to a science. I can find my way through John Wayne asleep. Which is why I can't figure out why I'm reluctant to make the trek to Dallas even though I found a great ticket for face...)

Now, if you want to know how to get a ticket to a rock concert...that's where the fun begins.

Talk about random...

Go listen to some good music: "I Love Rock n'Roll" from the album I Love Rock n'Roll by Joan Jett.

13 October 2008

Monday, Monday

So this is how the day starts:

The Santa Ana winds kicked up over the weekend. I've expounded on numerous occasions how much I hate the winds, so it's probably not necessary to do it again. Suffice to say the air is dry and prickly. I'm just prickly.

(The son said this morning on our way to school, "I love the wind! If only to hear you go on about how much you hate it." Alrighty then.)

Parent-teacher conferences are this week at the daughter's school, and one of the daughter's teachers won't be at the school on the actual day, so I got to meet with her at 7am this morning. I rallied the son, telling him he'd have to move a little faster because we'd have to leave a little earlier, and I knew I'd have to get up earlier, too, because I'd have to dress a little more nicely than the standard 6:45 am sweats.

So, the alarm went off and I groaned, and the wind was howling. I finally threw the covers back--it's actually been pretty cool the last couple of nights--and no sooner did I sit up than suddenly everything goes black.

We'd lost our power.

At the least the coffee was ready.

Fortunately, the power outage was brief.

Around mid-morning the sky was suddenly, startlingly white. The firefighters quickly (thank you!) put out a small fire a mile or two up the road. So far we are blessed down here: nothing like what we saw last October, nothing like what is happening north of us.

My trees and plants are utterly shredded. When I think of everything else that's going on, it's almost going to be a pleasure cleaning up that mess once the worst of the wind dies down.

Welcome to Monday.

Go listen to some good music: "Monday, Monday" from the album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears by The Mamas and The Papas.

10 October 2008

Maps and legends

Today, words failed me.

This happens sometimes. Sometimes, I can't frame the story the right way. I wrote it three different ways, but none of them worked well. Today, somehow, I just sounded histrionic. Not what I wanted.

It was a simple story. The phone rang early this morning, a stranger calling me from New York. She'd been given my phone number by someone who believed I could help her. I've been asked to do it before, and I am able but reluctant to play this part. We spoke for something close to two hours, and I tried to give her the information she was seeking.

There are times, and today was one of those times, when I speak with particular force and authority. It is practically an out-of-body experience when this occurs, this flood of words, and I joke about it, saying I am speaking ex cathedra. But it is terrifying how powerful it is, and the experience leaves me drained. And it leaves me fearful that I have sounded arrogant, so damned sure of myself.

Yet realistically, I know I have done exactly what I've been asked to do.

That was the story. Simple.

But in the context of everything else going on, quite complicated. I feel like I've lived another lifetime in the last year or so. Finding my way has been a bit tricky. I want signs but ignore the ones I'm given. I want a clearly stated declaration, with well-defined boundaries, a starting point and a finish line. Because that's how you play the game of life.

This isn't a game. I'm already on the road. The signs are right in front of me.

And then today, recognizing that for some, I am the map. I hold in my head a possible route, well-defined boundaries, a starting point and a finish line, the legend written on my heart in my hand. Reluctantly, perhaps, for better or worse, but there it is.

When I was in sixth grade, maybe seventh grade, one of the nuns sent me on an errand to the school office. The junior high wing was at the opposite end of the small campus. I was bored, chronically bored, and ready to romp in the cool morning air. So I began to run to the office for no other reason than I wanted to, mapping in my head the route I'd take to make the moment last. And as I gained speed, my heart flew ahead of me, and nothing, nothing, nothing could stop me, including the teacher yelling behind me STOP RUNNING! My heart was full, my feet were fleet and I had no brakes. I was running; I was committed with sort of commitment you make when you are running off the high dive and you take the last step into freefall. I was running despite the consequences flowing from that teacher's mouth...the ones that couldn't quite catch up to me because I could run so fast.

I am running now, and I'm so afraid the consequences of what I'm doing. I am running ex cathedra. I am giddy with the height of the dive, anticipating that moment of freefall. The world has opened to me again as it was when I was a child. But I'm not a child and so there is responsibility attached to everything around me. I can't refuse my calling any more because it always finds me. All the noise and all the sound, all the places I've been found.

I said it months ago, ex cathedra: I am no longer running from; I am running to. And it has to be right this time because no one is telling me to stop.

Go listen to some good music: "Maps and Legends" from the album Fables of the Reconstruction by REM.

09 October 2008

Sonata for flute and harpsichord in B minor: III. Presto

Last night, the son posited that you can tell alot about a person by the way s/he writes.

(I love 14-year-olds. They invented the world, you know.)

And, according to the son, you can tell from my blog that I am a cynic!

(I don't know, actually. Can you?)

The son languishes in a DMZ, loving how very cool his mother is (cooks food from every conceivable culture, including some that haven't been invented yet; plays Halo!) and despising how very cool his mother is (see above). So, of course, nothing is better (or worse) than having a cynic for a mother.

(I certainly can be cynical. But I don't think I make a daily practice of cynicism. It would sort of be like eating M&Ms every day.)

I just finished reading Lori Lansens' The Girls, which in addition to being a novel about conjoined twins, is an interesting meditation on reading, writing and autobiography. There is a lovely flow to the writing that I really enjoyed, and for the most part, the story worked--it would have been, I think, a difficult one to write. I never want to say too much about the books I read because part of the fun of recommending a book is allowing others to experience it on their own terms. So often I'll hand one of the kids a book, and they ask, "Well, what's it about? What happens?" or once they start reading, "What happens next?"

And I'll never tell them, because therein lies the joy in discovery.

Nothing cynical about that.

Go listen to some good music: "Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord in B Minor, BWV 1030: III. Presto" from the album Bach: Flute Partita & Sonatas by Jean-Pierre Rampal and Trevor Pinnock. I saw JPR perform years ago, and he was such a pleasure. The Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano he did with Claude Bolling remains one of my favorite albums of all time.

And rumour? Yes. Heard the rumour. Lovely rumour. Still...rumour.

08 October 2008

Speed of sound

Seneca wrote "Light griefs are communicative; great ones stupefy."

Or another way of saying that there are times when I find it easier to keep my head down. Or perhaps that I am likely to yammer on about small complaints, and remain silent in the face of the enormous ones.

I was really ill last week, and of course, the whole world was going to hell in a handbasket.

(A friend and I used to joke about going to hell in a handbasket. We would talk about what we would take in our handbasket on our way to hell. It usually involved cake and coffee. If we were going to hell, we were going in style and well fed.)

Actually, the whole world is still going to hell in a handbasket. The Angels certainly went to hell in a handbasket (I don't take no mess and they don't get no cake).

I have been baking cake. And bread. I'm working my way off the grid of the world. I can buy 15 lbs. of bread flour for the price of a loaf of bread. I know the names of the farms that supply my vegetables, all of which are local. My eggs and milk are locally produced, too. I am fed up with the globalization of the food supply (and yet, my family is well fed).

Anyway.

I found out late last night that Coldplay just added a show in So Cal! I'd been toying with the idea of going to see them in Phoenix until I realized the show was the night before Thanksgiving. They opened this tour at the Forum the day I left for London, and then headed over to Europe around the time I got back to L.A. I also missed the only other show I'd have liked to go to--REM--because they played Hollywood Bowl at the end of May, when I was drowning in responsibility. I've been playing with the idea of going to Dallas to see them and still may. All this traveling to concerts stuff originated with them, anyway, long ago.

And now, to the garden, to earn my keep.

Climb up, up in the trees,
every chance that you get,
is a chance you seize.


Go listen to some good music: "Speed of Sound" from the album X & Y by Coldplay.

05 October 2008

Shock the monkey

At least a baseball team showed up tonight. We don't know what was on the field the first two games--retired Audio-Animatronics from Disneyland?

Go listen to some good music: "Shock the Monkey" from the album Peter Gabriel 4 - Security by Peter Gabriel.

01 October 2008

Calling all angels (again!)

And so we've arrived at October.

And the first game of the ALDS for the Angels.

We talked about getting tickets, but given the fact the Angels are facing off against Boston, we are...nervous. So, we're holding out for the ALCS. If there is an ALCS in the Angels' future this year. (I've been an Angels fan for too long to assume anything about the team. I love them; I have my favorite players, but...I'm also a pragmatist. Or is it a realist? There was an interesting article recently in the Wall St. Journal that I didn't completely agree with, but this particular quote hit home: "'No Angels fan should take anything for granted,' says Mat Gleason, who runs the Angels blog Halos Heaven. 'I've been following this team for far too long.'" You and me both, man.)

Of course, all the local papers have been running all sorts of stuff about the upcoming series. This underscores why I rarely eat at Angels Stadium. Well, that and the rats. Nine innings and a bottle of water and I'm good. (Full disclosure: if I'm going to eat anything, it's an Italian sausage or brat from the Sausage Haus. With no stuff on it, and I don't even eat the bun because it's disgusting. But I have to be pretty hungry. And I'm still not even entertaining the idea of food at this point.)

Do I want the Angels to win? You bet. Do I think they will? I think they can, which is different from thinking they will.

I'd be so happy to see them in the World Series again.

Go listen to some music: "Calling All Angels" from the album My Private Nation by Train.