Wednesday, December 28, 2011

He said, "I like dinosaurs.  I like Superman.  I really like dinosaurs dressed like Superman."

She said, "Challenge accepted."

Improv before I knew what Improv was.

So I’m sitting here thinking in a British accent.  I know…it sounds weird…but it happens to me often.  Playing a character at a renaissance festival for about 8 weekends in a row does strange things to you.  It gets in your blood.  The majority of the stuff we do out there is complete improvisation.  We say whatever pops into our heads and then make it work.  We were given training on how to do this and while I’m FAR FAR FAR from being a pro at it…I do know a lot more than I did before.

That being said…I’m reminded of once doing a little bit of random improv before I ever even knew what “improv” was.

I was at the mall with my daughter.  She was probably 14 or 15 at the time.  We had one of her friends with us.  She thought it would be cool to pretend I was just an older friend of hers and not her mom.  So she asked if she could call me by my first name and pretend I was a friend.  I said yes.  What could it hurt?  So we’re walking about the mall and looking for people she knows…and I am people watching…as I am wont to do.

As we are standing about, near the area formerly known as Gameworks, I see two little boys coming our way.  They are right in the middle of the walkway.  They are holding their arms out as if they have huge guns.  They are crouched down and looking from side to side as if they are hunting.  They are making quite a show of it.  I watch them look around and try to catch the eyes of the people around them.  Everyone is just hurrying past and ignoring them.  I keep watching, amused.

The spot me and we make eye contact and they headed straight for me.  When they get to me, they have these big, fake sounding accents mixed between British and Australian.  In these big accents they ask me, “Have you seen a rhino?”  I make obvious faces as if I’m trying to remember if I’ve seen one.  Then I very animatedly replied to them in an equally big, fake British accent…
“No.  I’ve not seen a rhino…but I did see a monkey.  It had a hat on and it was dancin’ around.  It went that way.” I pointed off behind me.

That was all it took.  Their little faces lit up like Christmas trees and you could tell I was probably the only one who’d responded to this act of theirs and gone along with it.  They grinned like little fools.

“Alright then!  We’ll get it!” they told me in the big accents.  Then they saluted me. I returned the salute and off they went…their physicality even bigger at this point.  I laughed.  I felt like I had made their day.

I turn around and realize that my daughter is now on the other side of the mall, hiding her face and pretending not to know me all.

Oh well.  Can’t win ‘em all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Her face just looks like that.

Have you seen the movie Juno?  I paraphrase:

“She was giving me the stink eye.”
“I doubt that she was giving you the stink eye.  That's just the way her face looks.”

Great movie…but not what this blog is about.

When I was about 13, I was in the skating rink on a random Friday night.  Because that’s what you did on Friday nights when you were 13 and lived where I did.  I was there almost every weekend.  So on this particular, random Friday night…I’m looking around, people watching…like you do…and this little skinny girl comes stomping up to me with, what I now see was, a face full of false bravado.  She stares me down and says:
“What is your problem?”
My incredibly intelligent and well thought out reply was something in the vein of:
“Why are you giving me dirty looks?” she demanded to know.  Her false bravado was contagious and it brought mine out.  So I bowed up at her.  (You hear my redneck coming out? “Bowed up”?)
“I wasn’t even looking at you!” I said angrily.
“I just saw you!  You’ve been giving me dirty looks for five minutes!”
“I don’t even know you!”
“Then why are you looking at me?”
“I wasn’t!  I don’t even know what your problem is!”
“Well maybe you should watch where you’re looking!”
“Well maybe you shouldn’t be so paranoid and think everybody is looking at you when nobody cares!”
At 13…this was a really heated argument.  I think I even threw out the “s” word at some point.  Let me tell you…I had false bravado for days.  I had a redneck older brother and I could talk poo with the best of them by the tender, young age of 13.  That’s probably why I’ve barely ever been in a fight.  I got loud and didn’t back down and whoever I was shouting at usually figured out it wasn’t worth it.  This particular altercation lasted a couple of minutes and we both ran out of things to say.  So we kind of stood there…looking at each other.  When she figured out I was not going to back down…we had that moment of:
“Ok then.”
This led to the standard “Do you go to school here?”.  Because before it went any further, we had to know if our schools were rivals.  That led to introducing ourselves to each other…and next thing you know…we are hanging out with each other.  We are giggling together like nothing ever happened.

We started meeting at the skating rink almost every weekend…then we even hung out away from the skating rink.  Then she met my family and started calling my mom “Mom”…as most of my friends did.  She developed a crush on my brother…also like most of my friends did.  She became one of my best friends for the next couple of years.  We drifted apart after a couple of years.  I got pregnant and had a baby and she was still really involved in school.  We still talked here and there…but around that point, I started hanging around with a friend who lived closer and had more in common with me.  But that girl was still my friend and we still talked occasionally and even wrote each other letters since I didn’t have a phone.  She signed them all “L.Y.L.A.S.”.  You guys remember that one, right?  “Love You Like A Sister”.

Fast forward to today.  Yeah…it’s a long fast forward.  28 years worth.  I still talk to that girl.  We grew apart and are not best friends or anything…but we still occasionally talk and have very fond feelings for each other.  I haven’t seen her in years and our lives turned out very, very different.  But I still count her as one of my oldest friends and I think about her now and then and we send each other smiles and quick thoughts via Facebook.  And it all started because she thought I was giving her a dirty look…and I honestly had never even seen her face until she walked up to me.

She was not the first person to randomly walk up to me and confuse the hell out of me by asking me why I was giving her a dirty look.  She was not the last either.

I wasn’t giving any of them the “Stink Eye”.  Apparently my face just looks like that.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I want to be like you when I grow up.

So…I have a pretty big family.  My mom had three sisters and my dad had five brothers and two sisters.  So there were always lots of aunts, uncles and cousins.  I love my family.  My dad’s mother died when he was two so obviously I never got to meet her, although I was named after her.  His father remarried not long after and his stepmother was who I knew as “Granny”.  She was nice to me but I wasn’t close to her. She died when I was around nine years old.  Everyone used to talk about how cranky and mean she was…and apparently she was really not nice to my dad while he was growing up.  But she was always nice to me.  I think maybe it had a little to do with my being named after the woman she replaced.  Maybe she thought she had to make sure and not be mean to the namesake of his first wife.  I don’t know.  It doesn’t matter to me.  It only matters that she was nice to me and taught me to play solitaire and often let me be the one to choose what we kids watched on TV if there was an argument.  My father’s father was Charles.  I loved “Papa Charlie”…he was an incredibly charming and affable man with a wonderful sense of humor.  He made the most amazing fried apples in the world.  He was just the cutest thing ever.  I remember being 16-17 years old and watching him comb his mustache with a little “mustache comb” given to him by one of the many, many, little elderly ladies in the neighborhood that had gigantic crushes on him.  He was adorable.  He was a carpenter.  He is the reason that I love the smell of sawdust.  He died just a bit before I turned 20.  Papa Charlie and Granny were lovely grandparents to me but I never really spent a lot of time with them.

My mother’s parents were the grandparents I was close to.  My grandmother was a fantastic woman.  She could cook like nobody else.  She could sew and whenever I’d sit still long enough, she’d teach me.  She always encouraged me and frequently told me how pretty I was and that she loved me.  She played baseball with us in the front yard using a garden hoe, a tennis ball and plastic butter bowls for bases.  She had a great sense of humor and she had a plethora of home remedies and wives tales to share.  I always felt like she could fix pretty much anything.  Her name was Margaret and she was amazing.  She had a way of making every single one of her grandchildren feel like they were her favorite.  I still think I was her favorite.  My grandfather was the classiest man I ever knew.  His name was Wayne.  He is the yardstick against which I measure all other men and unfortunately for them…few can compare.  He wore leisure suits with style.  He played the piano and could sew and cook and even” permed” my mom and aunts’ hair for them when they were young.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and frequently had a twinkle in his eye as he had a penchant for mischief.  Meme and Papa were my solace when I was sad and my get-away when I needed to be away from home.  I spent every summer with them from age 11 to age 15.   They were my ideal for what a married couple should be…for what grandparents should be…for what classy people should be.  Papa was a 33rd degree Mason and Meme was a member of the Eastern Star.  I was never more “star struck” than when I saw the two of them get dressed up for one of the Masonic Lodge dinners and Papa wore a suit and Meme wore a floor length dress.  They made a striking pair and while the two of them were very blue collar people…they knew how to pull off elegant and refined.  I wanted to be just like them when I grew up.  Papa died when I was in my mid-twenties…and it was likely the saddest day of my life to date.  I wasn’t ready for him to go and I didn’t really get to say goodbye because he was in a hospital five hours away and I was a broke, single mom with two kids who couldn’t afford to leave work.  Plus – I just never dreamed that we would lose him…I was so sure he would recover.  Meme died when I was in my very early thirties.  It was horrifically sad but I was more prepared because I was older and she had been ill with Alzheimer’s for quite some time.  Of all the people I have loved and lost in my life, I miss them the most and there are days when I still get choked up thinking about them.  It’s hard for me to talk about missing them…because generally, I end up totally losing it. 

The point of this long ramble…is that I’ve been thinking a lot these past few days about my grandchild that is due in June 2012.  I wonder what kind of grandparent I’m going to be.  I got to play a little at being a grandmother when my daughter was dating a man that had a child.  That was fun and I adore that child still…even though I know we will probably not get to see her much once her dad finds a new girlfriend.  This time it’s different.  This is a grandchild that will always be my grandchild – no matter what happens.  He or she will be truly MY grandchild…which leads me want to figure out how to be a grandparent.

I know the basics.  I had wonderful role models.  I have expressed to my daughter that I would very much like to be called “Meme” (pronounced me me or mimi).  That name has some big shoes to fill.  I just hope that I am up to the task.  I am going to try.

I want to be a good grandparent.  I want to be the kind I had…like Meme and Papa.  I want my grandchildren to look up to me.  I want them to come to me when they are scared or hurt or when they hate their parents.  I want them to grow up with happy memories of things we did when they were little and I want them to remember me with that same fondness that I remember of my grandparents.  I want to have at least one thing to teach them and at least one thing for which they remember me.  I want to be someone they are proud of and someone they admire and aspire to be like.  But most of all…above all other things…I want them to always know that nobody could possibly love them any more than Meme.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We. Like. To party.

So…I had my first party in my new place.  I feel like it was quite a success.  It was a Halloween party even though it was held a week after Halloween.  We had a great time.

The thing about parties…is that they are way more stressful than they should be.  I agonized over making sure people were coming and making sure I had enough food and the right food and the right drinks.  Then I agonized over whether my house was clean enough and whether people would think my decorations are cute and whether people would have a good time.  I don’t know why I worry so much.  Thing is…when I go to a party at someone’s house…I don’t notice if their baseboards are dirty or if the floor is not mopped or if there is some little weird thing about their house.  So why am I so sure people are going to notice these things about my house?  And even if they do…these people are my friends…why would they care?  They are not going to think less of me if I do not have the perfect party food or if they notice that my cabinets in my kitchen are not as clean as I would like them to be.  So why do I stress about it?

People were smiling and laughing the whole night…yet here we are a couple of weeks after the party and I’m still wondering if people had fun and if I was a good hostess.  I’m feeling guilty because there were people I didn’t get to talk to as much as I would have liked.

However…I am also really thrilled that so many people came and seemed to be having a good time.  That part was awesome.  There was big crossover…I had people from way different aspects of my life that got to meet each other and that was really cool.

My faire family got to meet a little of my Sand Bar family and other random place family.  That was cool.  I had people say “great party!” which made me grin from ear to ear!  I had people say, “I had so much fun, we really need to hang out more…” which is just awesome.  No matter how confident a person I may be most of the time…I still have my insecurities.  So having people say they want to hang out again soon…well, that’s incredibly nice.

It’s funny how a party can have such duality in its effect on you.

Either way…I had a really good time.  Of course, there are things I wish I’d done differently but for the most part – I think it was quite good for a first party in the new place.  We got a drink spilled on the carpet – and hey, it’s not a party until something gets broken or spilled.  So I feel like the house got “broken in”.  And big bonus?  Nothing got spilled on my new couch.  YAY!  I was worried about that a lot.  I know it’s silly…but I love my new couch and was really hoping nothing would get on it.  HA! 

For the record…my parents were even at this party.  That was unique.  My parents are pretty cool people in general and they are very accepting of my friends.  It was awkward a couple of times because I have some really foul mouthed friends and having my mom and dad around and hearing somebody throw a lot of F-Bombs…well, it’s just awkward.  Not because my parents care or are judgmental or delicate or something…just – well, they are my parents.  I have probably dropped an F-Bomb in front of my parents a total of 3-5 times in my entire life.  It’s just a respect thing.  So I kinda had a couple of minutes of feeling weird about that.  Ha!  Plus – I’m super protective of my mom so I’m silly like that too. 

But they seemed to really enjoy themselves so that was cool.

Having my daughter there was awesome.  We haven’t seen each other very much over the last couple of months and I’ve missed her terribly.  I got to go pick her up Friday night and she stayed until Sunday.  It was nice because she helped me a LOT with getting ready for the party – she is great at cleaning and setting up stuff.  So she was a HUGE help.  But mostly it was just nice to spend so much time with her.  She truly is my best friend and I miss her when I don’t get to see her.  I try really hard to give her space and let her live her own life…but sometimes I just really need time with her.  It reminds me to spend time with my mom too.

I’m a really social person most of the time – so parties are definitely right up my alley.  I’m really glad that this one was fun and successful.  I probably won’t have another one like this for a while – but I’m really pleased with how this one went.  It was a good night.  I have good friends.

Oh yeah…and I got to have some really good, thought provoking conversation with my daughter’s new boyfriend.  That was a good thing too.  I need to get to know this boy.  He’s gonna be around for a while.