So many words, so little time....

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Adventuring Home
When did we turn even our dreams inside?

We all look back with a certain nostalgia at the summer afternoons of our childhood, biking off into the woods or off to the park with our buddies to play until Mom's call drifted across the way to bring us home for dinner. In today's protective times, we can't do that. Our children are not allowed even a tiny fraction of the freedoms we enjoyed. Families are fragmented, with extended families spread all across the continent and parents working and divorcing. In ever-larger numbers, our children are caged tightly by limits, but floating in a sea of uncertainties and ever-growing responsibility with fewer and fewer guides to show them the way as they grow.

It shows up in many areas, but perhaps nowhere so telling as our literature. Our stories are no longer about going off to find adventure in the great beyond and the next great discovery, but finding out how to fix our problems and somehow come to a place that feels like they belong.

Disney's film "Treasure Planet" is a great example of what I'm talking about, particularly because it straddles both sorts of stories. It's original text by Robert Louis Stephenson is a coming-of-age story with a young man going out in the world to make his fortune and forge his own path. He's just trying to grow up by the lights of the time. The new version is a troubled young man who goes off trying to find a solution to his problems so he can find a path for his life and a way to get home.

The main character, Jim, could have been filmed at my house. Both my sons (but particularly my younger) have that awkward set to their limbs and those questioning eyes that seem to personify a young man trying to figure out how to be a grown man in this day and age. I have seen that eyes-closed look of bliss and heard that yell of triumph as they land some insane thing on a skateboard, and that bright-eyed grin covered in dirty grease coming out from under the hood of a car. I also see those sullen, shadowed eyes and hang-dog shoulders when they've done wrong and know it or when they're forced to do something. Particularly when the younger has decided for whatever reason that he's not good enough and gives up.

This isn't the only film, though. Look back at the recent history of family cinema. "Holes", "Secondhand Lions", "Finding Nemo", and even "Lilo and Stitch" are all stories of young men (or young blue aliens) trying to find ways to straighten things out and fit in. Even the X-men and other comics contain a strong subtext of trying to fit in, and youth-oriented books are the same. Mr. Potter is only a broom-length in front of Artemis Fowl and Lemony Snicket.

The kids feel the lack, too. We saw Treasure Planet in the theater. As we were walking back out the car, my eldest turned to me and said, "Well Mom, I guess all you need now is a couple old cyborgs with boats." We laughed, but the truth of it really has stuck with me in the year or more since then. The fashion of sending boys off to learn a trade has been replaced with macrameing them to the couch in the house alone or placing them behind a counter in a paper hat. Then they turn 18 and they are supposed to magically know what to do with themselves and like it.

What do we tell them? How do we help them find their way? So many of us are still trying to find a way home ourselves. I don't know. All I know is I'm running out of time.
Thanksgiving Notes....

We've finished eating and in the tryptophan-induced holliday stupor the kids are quietly arguing about a game and I'm writing rather than deal with the mess. On the table, the bird is tattered strips hanging off bones and the bowls and serving utensils have got one good snack-worth left in each. It's going to take me an hour or so to get things back into shape around here, but all in all it didn't turn out too badly. I seem to have gauged the scale of festivities that fit us this year fairly well.

I've been asked several times on several forums what I'm grateful for, and this has turned out to be the best list I have come up with so far:
I'm grateful that we're all here, and I'm grateful for those who were here and had to go, but left us these ephemeral notes to remember them by.

I am grateful for my children, and for the fact that I have managed to keep us all together and taken care of for one more year.

I am grateful for my friends, both meat and electron, who have been a rock for me in these times.

I'm grateful for my best friend's truly bitchy cat, who keeps reminding me what really bad behavior looks like and helps me keep perspective (and also helps me keep in contact with the friend - I'm the only person she'll let take care of her but him).

You have a great Thanksgiving and see you in the Holiday Rush! ;)

Monday, November 24, 2003

Livin' La Vida Dorka....

I'm trying to bury myself in geek-dom for a bit here. I look at my life and the things going on in it and I just can't deal with this tonight.

Less than a month 'til Return of the King - even Newsweek is getting on the bandwagon. They ran a huge lovely spread. Heard a bunch of cyber-vapor about the battle at Pellenor but nothing I'm willing to quote.

Berkley Breathed has taken up his pen again to give us Opus, a Sunday-only cartoon starring everyone's favorite flightless waterfowl. The Seattle Times is going to have it - check their online comics pages to see it Sunday (I hope!).

Tomorrow X-2 hits DVD. Guess what's going to be playing in my house tomorrow night? I knew that you could. ;)

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Mint Flavored Sneakers in full effect tonight...

I'm going to keep this short. For some reason nothing I say seems to be taken correctly today. I might as well be speaking Sanskrit or something. I'm going to cut my losses and just do some work and then hit the hay, I think.

Do you ever have days like that, where nothing you do or say seems to be understood or make sense to anyone else?

Monday, November 17, 2003

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

My brain is running in tiny little pattering circles like a mouse in a Mason jar. This is the two-edged sword of being kept awake even beyond my very high threshold of no-sleep.

bookZilla's leg is doing very well - thanks everyone for asking. The surgery went fabulously, and the doctor thinks there won't be any problems at all now. She has her very cool black moon boot and she's ready for school tomorrow.

I, on the other hand, am a wreck. Kind of funny how that all works out.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

From the book of MsZilla....

I am seriously considering changing my screen-name to "Job". The book-in-the-Bible Job. I'm feeling a bit beleagered.

My house sounds like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Dirty Laundry - I've got the washer and dryer going in one ear, and Crimson Skies going in the other. Three of the kids are home from school today and so I'm working from home.

bookZilla fell last night and broke her leg. Did it right, too - we were at the ER until almost five this morning. She has to have surgery tomorrow morning so they have her tranked to the gills and I basically have a very surly, needy piece of furniture that has to be re-arranged frequently. grrlZilla has what is either the Sympathy Flu, or the real thing. skateZilla is at home due to his problems at school. ZillaJr had his 16th birthday yesterday in the midst of all this, and his first drama production has Opening Night tonight. He'll be home any second. And I'm here trying to work with my internet connection going up and down like a basketball at a Sonics game.

Arrgggh! I won't change it, actually. I consider it from time to time, but people probably won't read it correctly, and then I'll have to explain it, and well, it gets ugly from there..... ;P

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Educational day all around

The pagan horde and I have had an educational day today. First thing was a trip down to the good theater in town to see "The Matrix: Revolutions". It was just me and the guys, with me sitting between them with two coats I could throw over them if I felt the need. I didn't have to, not once. Well, I probably should have in the S&M bar, just because I had to explain what the heck that place was on the way out the car. That was embarassing, but not in the way you think. They had kind of figured it out, but they were kind of wigged out that I knew what it was. Ah, youth.

BTW, the film was actually quite good. And more importantly, it seriously improved the second film. You can see my spoiler-free version of my review on movZilla (and on Slate's Fray later tonight). I decided to post it on the Fray so we can discuss it. That's one thing that I miss with this blog is the interactions. I get response here, but not the conversational give-and-take I get there. Once they start answering there, then we get into the heavy spoilers.

Once I got that done, ZillaJr had to go to rehearsal for his drama production, and then I took the girls to see Brother Bear. I didn't go in with them - I was dealing with skateZilla. They loved it, though. Gave it two thumbs WAY WAY up. Except for the part with the bear riding the mammoth. They really didn't think that could ever have happened. Had great conversation on way home about real bears (like the fact that male bears eat cubs rather than take them on long trips).

Once got everyone home, it was chore time. When they were done, we drove over to Schlockbuster to return our videos and looked up in the sky and had a serious, "Oh WOW!" moment when I saw it. The eclipse! I had read it's time online but the guy had stated that we probably wouldn't be able to see it. Well, he was dead dead wrong. Gorgeous view. We drove home in a flash and sat out in the parking lot of our complex and drank hot chocolate and watched it and had a great talk about what was going on and why it looked like it did.

Now in for chili. It was skateZilla's turn tonight, and he cooked one of my favorite kid-friendly recipes. Simple, easy, and they love it. We call it "can chili", because it was created when a friend of mine who is a Mormon had to move out of state and left me her entire year's supply thing. Looks like this:
Can Chili
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup diced onion
2 cups frozen corn (or a can of nibblets corn)
1 large can or two small cans of commercial chili (Stagg is best)
2 cans diced, peeled tomatoes (stewed also works if you slice them up when adding them)
4 small or two large cans of various beans (two dark red beans and two pintos is good mix)

Brown ground beef and onions with your favorite spices (we use really offensive amounts of garlic, pepper, parsley, celery seed, and a touch of seasoned salt). Add chili and stir. Add rest of canned ingredients and stir. Add frozen corn and stir. Heat on medium until just simmering. Taste and if bland add some chili powder to taste.

Serve in large bowls with grated cheese and onions on top and bagel chips or cornbread on the side (or skateZilla adds what seems like a cup of frickin' Tobasco).

Once everyone had their bowl, we watched what we picked up at the video store, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I've been impressed. These films have really stood the test of time. The transfers on the DVD's are amazing - they must have found an unviewed print or the transfer company sacrificed something very large to someone at exactly the right phase of the moon to get twenty-year-old film this clean.

Let's see. Today we've covered several sorts of solipsistic philosophy, a little naturalism, lunar and solar astronomy, home ec and now cinematic history. We've had a full day. Time to relax with a little aeronautics and ballistics (Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge). The boys have been bragging again and it's time to peel some bark off them. My work is never done, I guess.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I was having lunch with the gang at work, and the movie “Anna and the King” came up in the conversation. This one gal has a fairly huge thing for Chow Yun Fat (one of the few things we agree on that way), and made a comment that she would give a lot to have someone look at her like that. I just nodded, flabbergasted that she had gotten this far in her life and she never had. She has been married twice, once for twelve years. She has a child. I can’t imagine having never having stood there, looking at a man looking back at you with his heart in his eyes. I can’t imagine never having known deep in your soul someone felt like that about you just once in your whole life.

I watched the movie again tonight, and I was watching Jodie Foster’s character struggle with the consequences of her own feelings about being held by a man other than her dead husband, and I realized I am in sort of the same boat. In many ways, my ex is dead. The person I knew and loved is gone, buried somewhere back along the years we were together. I don’t know when he died. I wish I did know. When that person died, the other parts of him were left to try and make sense out of the life they are left with. A lot of what happened was because the parts of him that were left were stuck trying to live that life, which in many ways was foreign to them. No wonder things fell apart.

There was a time, glacial ages ago it feels sometimes, when he looked at me that way and I looked back at him, serene in the knowledge that we belonged together. I was never happier but when we were together, even just sitting on the couch watching TV or something.

Even after the divorce, there were times I would see it again. When he dropped off or picked up the children he would look at me and I see the tracks the feelings had left behind in his eyes. Like somewhere down the line, he felt that the same thing happened to me – that the woman he loved and wed and lived with died too – and he was looking for her in the tattered remains of me.

I never did figure out how to deal with that. We always just found some trite way to end the conversation and escape. I will always be grateful to her for this insight, I guess. I never had to lack for it. Before I even realized what it was, I had it. And through whatever agency brought the twists and turns of our life about, I lost it. I had been afraid that something horrible was going on in my life because I didn’t have that any more. She seems to have gotten on just fine without it, and she is almost twice my age. If she can make it for that long without it, I can certainly find a way to finish out my life without it.

Even after this last year and it’s revelations, something in me still answers that searching. It would have been so easy to fall right back into that dance. He has said my name in a way that no one else has ever said it. He has held my hand and walked with me in a way that no other ever will. Will I listen for that sound and feel for that hand for the rest of my life? Even if I do ever find someone else, he will say those things and do those things his own way. And as wonderful as those ways may be, it won’t be the same. I wonder if I will ever not miss it?