Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Like a Half-Eaten Donut, Better than Nothing!

I have been a bit of a mess lately. Literally and figuratively. Last week I went to a hair cut appointment and when the receptionist took my coat, I discovered I had fresh brownie mix dribbled down the front of it. And earlier that day I totally missed a conference call for work. The reminder popped up on my computer and I didn't recognize it so I dismissed it. Totally unlike me. I need a vacation. Somewhere that I can't get my hands on brownie mix or cookie dough.

Despite my above average ability to ramble, there are many occasions on which I start writing a blog post and only get a paragraph or two into it and realize I don't know what else to say. (See the example above.) Or I can't come up with a witty or fitting close. So today, because I slept like sh*t last night, I've decided that rather than try to write a complete post, I will pull together a few of the posts I've left unfinished for an eclectic look at the inner workings of my mind. Just what you were hoping for on this beautiful, spring-like day! So here goes it:

2/12/16: If you heard alarms going off on Friday night, it wasn't another car getting broken into. It was my hype meter. It's no coincidence that it was also the Night of Bruce.

My husband is an enormous Bruce Springsteen fan. Which is probably part of the problem. As I believe I've mentioned in an earlier post, familiarity breeds contempt. I have detested Neil Young for 20 years thanks to a coworker who played him 8-hours a day, 5-days a week. It's not really Neil's fault. Technically, as a singer-songwriter fan I should like him. But that's what overexposure can do to a person.

Every time I get in Rob's car, he's got the satellite radio tuned to the all-Bruce station. So, where before I generally enjoyed his music, I'm getting a little tired of it. But the music itself isn't as bad as the pre-concert buildup. I've been to one Bruce concert. He's an amazing performer, but I don't like waiting for the divas to appear on stage and I don't like big concert venues, so when it came time for this particular concert I took a pass. Not worth the big bucks and the finagling involved with securing the almighty ticket.

12/19/15: We know that fashion is cyclical. Every few decades, someone decides that bell bottoms, leg warmers, high waisted pants, tall boots, skinny jeans, shoulder pads, Bermuda shorts and pantsuits should be reintroduced to society. Even hairstyles come and go and then come back again. Except for perms. I'm still waiting for perms to make a comeback.

Toys tend to have more staying power than perms fashion. Elmo has been popular since he joined Sesame Street in the 80s. Barbie refuses to die. Matchbox cars still have their place. Every home has Jenga, Monopoly and Scrabble. And don't get me started on Legos. Did you know the company was started in 1932? [I have no idea where I was going with this post...]

12/13/15PJs and Down Time
I know a few people who wring the life out of each and every day. I know several others who never want the fun to end when it comes to social occasions. Then there are people like me (at least I hope there are others) who look forward to pajamas and bed time as much as--if not more than--a night out on the town. This obviously can be problematic when ones spouse and friends fall into different categories.

What's important for "those people" to understand, is that my desire to be in bed versus spending more time with them is not personal. In fact, I'm pretty sure if Jesus himself showed up at my house I'd only be able to give him a few hours and then I'd need to retire to my room, slip under the covers, and curl up in the fetal position. This is fairly common characteristic of us introverts. We get our energy from alone time, versus feeding off the presence of others.

I suppose on some level I consider bed time my reward for having made it through the day. After work, there's nothing I want more than to come home, change into my p.j.s and settle in for the evening. If you want to put me in a bad mood, ask me to run an errand after I've mentally and emotionally called it a day. Ask my kids how well I handle that.
Think I could pull it off?

9/27/15: [Ironically, this could have been written last Friday.] I regained a touch of my youth on Friday. Thank God for hair color! Now if only it lasted longer than a few weeks. Part of me is considering adopting that platinum silver/purplish look that Pink and Kelly Osbourne are sporting these days. At least when the color fades I'd have the right color coming in.

Almost as bad as the skunk stripe I sport every six weeks or so, is the process required to fix it. Two freakin' hours at the hair salon is not my idea of fun. Sitting still that long is torture, and there's something about the environment that drives me nuts. In fact, I came up with a list of "10 Things about the Hair Salon."
  1. The person with the loudest voice also is the one carrying on the most inane conversation. 
  2. There's always one stylist who thinks she has to talk to you throughout your entire appointment, leaving you screaming inside.
  3. And even if the stylist doesn't babble the entire time, you still have to at least start with small talk. I abhor small talk. 
  4. Putting on a cape, slapping some thick paint on your head and leaving you to stare at yourself in the mirror for an hour-plus is cruel. You find wrinkles and lines you never knew you had. And inevitably I'm there with no makeup on. 
  5. Speaking of thick paint, no matter how many times I remind them that my skin stains easily, I always leave the salon with a ring around my hair line. So I end up wearing a baseball cap for two days to hide my forehead. 
  6. There's always some customer talking about her horse, or her vacation to Bora Bora, or the limo ride to see Bruce.
[Obviously I couldn't come up with 10 things...]

And finally: 
2/10/15: [This still applies one year later.]
Yesterday was Abby's 14th birthday and I couldn't be prouder of my not-so-little girl. I have to confess that it takes a good bit of self control to not brag about her ad nauseam. Finding that fine line between "how sweet" and "enough already" is definitely a major challenge in the age of social media. I figure if I only post photos of Abby's work it's not really bragging, it's more like show and tell. But how do I write a blog post about Abby for her birthday without going overboard? I don't have to. It's my blog and I can say whatever I want. Insert smiley emoticon here.

When my kids were elementary school age, I had one recurring wish for them, and it wasn't the standard "may they be happy and healthy." Instead I wished that they'd turn out like Richard, Ryder or Bridget, or Kevin or Laura Jean. These former babysitters and/or neighbors/friends, were the gauge by which I was going to measure my children. Why these five? Because their qualities were the same qualities that I hoped my kids would one day possess. Respectful, kind, hard working, intelligent, involved, friendly, happy, and NORMAL. Sometimes super kids have everything except that normal element. The one that allows them to make friends and fit in and get a job someday (if that's your thing).

Well, I'm happy to say that Abby (and Ian, too) have lived up to the example of those former youth, now young adults. I realize that parenting experts generally advise against comparing your kids to others, but I'd say it was less about using them as a measuring stick for my children, and more about providing a parenting goal for me. When all we hear about are wayward youth, I needed a beacon to follow that could show me it was possible to get it right.

That's all for now folks. I have at least a dozen others I'll share with you when I can't find the time or energy, or the right words, to write a complete post. Enjoy this beautiful day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Kids are More than Alright

My increasing prudishness is evident in the TV shows I'm comfortable (or not) watching, the clothes I'm okay (or not) with my daughter wearing, and the skin I'm uptight about showing. I have referenced my issues in a couple blog posts over the years, from "I've Been Thinking," in which I wondered about parents who let their young teenage daughters go out in barely there dresses, to "Saying Goodbye to Sandra Dee" in which I had a small hissy fit about our high school's production of Grease three years ago. Given my well-documented history of serving as the morality police, my reaction to the high school's production of Rent this past weekend is even more surprising.

I thought it was fantastic.

For those of you not familiar with the musical (1996), which was also made into a movie in 2005, Rent tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City's East Village under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. Its characters are gay, straight, clean, addicted, living, dying, thriving and barely surviving. It's depressing as hell, and this incredibly mature group of Strath Haven High School students pulled it off beautifully.

I had heard good things about the performances, but was prepared to ask (not for the first time) what the hell Shank, our beloved musical producer/director, was thinking when he chose this show. Of course, it should be noted that his first choice was Company, which is even less age-appropriate than Rent. Shank never was one to play it safe, but he obviously knew his students and he knew what they could handle. He also knew better than to promote it to elementary school kids, which was one of my major beefs with Grease.

After opening night, someone posted a "must-see," rave review on NextDoor.com, a terrific app/website for all things local. But because nothing is ever without controversy on this site (i.e., deer hunting, new traffic circles, or the value of a Sharpie with a missing cap), at least one member had a negative reaction to the recommendation to see the show:
"The idea that children are involved with a show about I.V. drugs, homosexuality, death from AIDS, handcuffed girls getting paid at a stripper club makes me sick! They are too young to understand the depth of Rent and don't need to deal with that subject matter at their ages. Half of you don't even know it's a spin off of La Boheme. The human brain isn't fully developed until age 25. How do you expect teens to handle such material at their ages?
It is inappropriate for children to perform or see Rent in any version as the theme is not for children. Please be a responsible parent and do not allow your children to see the show. Rent is a great show for adults. Take them to see La Boheme instead."
Well, let's just say I bet this poor woman wishes she had never expressed her opinion publicly. There was a bit of a backlash After the last performance, a week later, she finally said: "This is my opinion. I would appreciate if this discussion would stop."

A.J. B. killed it as Roger
But, anyway, I was extremely impressed. Unlike in Grease where the maturity--or lack thereof--of certain students took a fairly innocent show (as compared to Rent) to an almost indecent place, the students in Rent seemed to understand the importance of the message they were sending. Liza B., the young lady in the role of Mimi, the main "handcuffed girl at a stripper club" never took the part to a tawdry, "let's have fun being naughty" place, but rather presented us with a broken shell of a woman consumed by addiction and the physical and emotional price she pays. Similarly, Ethan S., the young man who played Angel, a cross-dresser, managed to avoid creating a caricature or delivering an over-the-top, "look-at-me running around in heels and a dress" performance that many teenage boys would have presented.

Basically, there was nothing gratuitous that turned the production from one of value to one of indecency.

Kate D. as Maureen
And while I'm recognizing these specific
performances for their maturity, I also have to applaud the students for simply wowing me with their acting and singing chops. Kate D., who played the character of Maureen, delivered a stunningly strong performance in her song/scene "Over the Moon". And A.J. B., who played Roger, gave me "goosies" (as J Lo would say) with his singing. I could go on and on. The talent in that cast (typical of Strath Haven) was impressive.

The only disappointing moment came at the very end, after the actors left the stage and lights came on. That's when I turned to Ian, who had sat next to me for the performance, and told him he would have been amazing in the show. And then I cried, informing him he'd broken my heart by never allowing me the joy of seeing him on stage. It was one of my finest--and most shameful--mom-guilt moments.
Sorry, kid.

Perhaps there's a theatre production in your our future at Villanova?