Saturday, January 31, 2009

A little fresh air

In my real life job as a writer, I often have to interview people. I wish I could be more like Terry Gross, asking the right questions to elicit deep and meaningful answers. I don't. But I get the job done. On the flip side, I've never really been interviewed myself so when I read this post over at moArdy's A Motivated Notion, I jumped at the chance to be interviewed. moArdy read about it on another friend's site (and so on and so forth).

Want to get in on this interviewing stuff? Here are "The Rules:"

A.) Leave me a comment saying, “Interview Me!”
B.) I’ll respond with five questions of my choice for you to answer (and I promise to try to make them exciting and interesting.)
C.) You update your blog with the answers to the questions
D.) You include “The Rules” and offer to interview other people

Now, without further ado, my interview:
1) If you could make anything socially acceptable for one day - what would it be?
This is the hardest question for me. I kind of feel like a lot of things that are socially unacceptable, probably ought to stay that way. At first I thought I would make saying the "F word" socially acceptable, but I don't think it's that really that far a stretch, and everyone would just run around saying "F***" all day and ruin it as a really great curse word. So, I'm going to go with men wearing dresses or skirts. But only if they want to. In fact, I think it should be socially acceptable (if only for that one day) for clothes to be completely gender neutral, with no one being judged for wearing dresses or pants or pantsuits.

2) What animal at the zoo would you like to make your pet? (without worrying about any logistical issues)
A hippopotamus. Those who know me, know about my odd obsession with hippos. And if I didn't have to worry about the logistics, I would totally have one for a pet. My second choice is a monkey. Haven't you always wanted a monkey?

3) What is the most uncommon color you have ever painted (or wanted to paint) a room?
"Gold Tone" -- a bright golden yellow color. It's actually on just one wall in our TV room, but it's so bright and cheery it always makes me smile.

4) What food(s) can you never seem to leave the grocery store without?
Granola -- we buy it in bulk from Whole Foods. Mixed with plain yogurt, it's our favorite breakfast. We go through it pretty quickly, too. We love breakfast.

5) If you could relive one year - which one would it be and would you change anything?
(Second hardest question to answer!) I would relive the year I graduated from high school and entered college. I would break up with my high-school sweetheart at the beginning of the year, instead of waiting until summer. I would not date the guy I ended up marrying (at a way too young age!). In the fall, I would moved into the dorms and work harder at being sociable while stilling getting good grades. And I would be truer to myself and my beliefs and generally have more fun than I did the first time around. Hmmm... I guess I need to do some of those things now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Possibly another reason we don't have kids

A conversation:

The S.O.: "I wish the dog could stand up on her back legs all the time." (Because he thinks it's cute.)

Me: "I wish the dog could type and do dishes." (Because that would be awesome!)

The S.O.: "Maybe we shouldn't have kids because I think your expectations for them might be a little high. You'll be trying to have them write stories by the time they're two."

Me: (unspoken) What's the point of having them if I can't try that? I'd have the first baby blog actually written by babies!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ear worm

I woke this morning with a song stuck in my head -- an insidious ear worm. It was "These Boot Were Made For Walking." It's probably one of the worst songs to get stuck in your head, on par with "It's a Small World."

On the plus side, it allows me to post this Boots Medley video from "Kinky Boots," a British movie we watched recently. IMDb users only give the film a 6.9 rating, but I really liked it. It's uplifting, fun and its ultimate lesson is delivered by drag queens in stilettos.

Fans of "Serenity" might recognize Chiwetel Ejiofor. (Now you have one more reason to love that movie.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

What I read: "The Falls" by Joyce Carol Oates

It's true. I have to admit it now. I definitely have a thing for Joyce Carol Oates. In the past year, I have read three of her books ("The Gravedigger's Daughter," "Missing Mom" and now, "The Falls"). They're all pretty heavy books -- love, dysfunctional families, tragedy. But Oates weaves her sad tales with beautiful images and intriguing characters. There are characters to hate, to love, to love to hate and to hate to love. But there are very few characters you can feel ambivalent about.

"The Falls" begins in June 1950 and spans the next 28 years of the life of Ariah Littrell, who becomes Ariah Erskine, then Ariah Littrell again and Ariah Burnaby in short order. I don't want to give too much away, but this is an Oates book, so you know there will be joy and pain right from the start.

Set in Niagara Falls, New York, "The Falls" paints a picture of the city, from its tourist sites to the infamous Love Canal. "Love Canal" -- words I remember vaguely growing up, words then-president Carter talked about. I'm embarrassed to say I had to look up more information about the controversy while reading this book. (You can find some information here, here and here. And there's plenty more information out there.) The lives of people suffering illness due to toxic dumping melds with the Burnaby family, which suffers its own toxicity.

I think Oates may be a bit of an acquired taste, as I've said, she deals in tragedy and dysfunction. But I have definitely acquired the taste. I have a hard time putting down her books and seek out new ones and old ones I've yet to read.

Words of wisdom

My 13-year-old niece sent me an e-mail yesterday with this little gem: "I hate stuff right now." As the "grown up" in our relationship, I knew that I should be all "Now, you don't really 'hate' anything." But even as I thought it, I knew it was a lie. Instead, I ended up saying, "You know what? I hate stuff sometimes, too. Just don't let it get you down for too long. Being 13 sucks sometimes. It gets better. I promise."

I remember how I hated when I was a kid and an adult would tell me those were the best years of my life. Being 13 was not the best time of my life. It may have been easy in terms of not having a job or bills or debt. But it's such a weird awkward age -- especially, in my humble opinion, for girls. We deal with the crazy changes our bodies are going through, wondering if what we're experiencing is "normal" because even though our friends are going through it too, it's never quite the same for any of us. Am I too big, too small, too short, too tall? What is happening to my skin, my boobs, my hips, my body? Why do I feel like crying all the time and why the hell did I have to be a girl? Ok, maybe not everyone felt exactly like that, which is kind of my point. (I imagine there were girls out there who had all the answers and were sure of themselves and didn't worry about the changes they were going through. If so, they were the freaks, not me.)

At the time, I thought, "If this is the best time of my life, that means it goes downhill from here. Oh that sucks. I hate everything." So, my advice to my niece was to hang in there. Sure, there will be harder times in her life (as in all lives) but that doesn't diminish how hard it is to be a 13-year-old girl. I only hope she knows how amazing she is, how much I love her and that she can always come to me for advice -- even if the best advice I can give her is to grab some chocolate and ride it out.