Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A New Year


I think perhaps school started this week.

I got some paperwork about it--all the teacher's meetings and greetings--and I shredded it. (Just for fun.)

But it occurs to me as I prepare my Jungle Costume for required dress up day on Sunday before Labor Day that somewhere there are teenagers choosing their outfits for school, there are teachers already grading papers, and there are lessons being planned.

Meanwhile, last night around 8 p.m. when I got tired I went to bed, brought my book (just finished it--The Mermaid Chair--it's excellent!) and told Justin, "This is such an amazingly logical thing. I'm an adult, I'm tired, I'm going to sleep, instead of forcing myself to stay up for hours and hours doing homework. It took me 32 and a half years to figure it out, but I did."

"For some people it takes a lot longer to learn," he said.

"Yeah, but almost 33 years!"

Then I read and went to sleep.

Today, on the other hand, I'm up waiting for Justin to get home.

This is absolutely not something I can continue to do--especially since I have my own weird hours job and since his hours are going to get even worse when he starts working on the anesthesiology rotation.

But, I have time to ponder my year... strangely without a lesson plan to carry me through June but even more interestingly without a horrible feeling of loneliness and remorse because I can't teach this year.

I have two art shows coming up: Sept. 8, Ray at Night and Sept. 15 & 16 the University Heights Arts Open.

I'm hoping to use the opportunity to sell some work, but also to market my wedding, event and portrait photography.

Two years ago we were welcoming into our classroom students who had fled Hurricane Katrina. I had one of them in English.

Now, I have modeling, restaurant, photography and painting jobs lined up and today I purchased a Halloween costume. (To be revealed later!)

I have to say though, that the most amazing thing that happened today, is that while I was shopping I realized that I might actually fit into girls' size clothes. You know, there's all those articles about how kids are growing faster and bigger than previous generations. Now that I'm a whole generation ahead of at least one kids' line of clothing, I figured I'd give it a shot.

I fit into girls' extra large! Boys large! Seriously!

I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid....

To tell you the truth, I kind of got the idea from Oakley. She can fit into a 6X at the smallest, but I'm really quite satisfied with anything from the girls' department. The clothes are less expensive, cute as in the juniors or women's section, plus they fit.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cross Walking

We were driving down Park Blvd. to Washington and came to that horrible intersection that no one was ever meant to walk across, especially not without the little blinking white man's approval granting permission to walk between the wide margins of the cross walk. Never through the chains admonishing, "No Pedestrian Crossing Use Cross Walk."

A haggard, short, gray haired woman was crossing exactly there, exactly where she shouldn't. Even cars don't know when or how to cross this three or five way intersection; guest passengers are always alarmed when I drive at the green light because one of the other lights is red, but I've learned which ones belong to which lanes.

This woman walked.

A tiny blond girl wearing pink stood terrified, no one holding her hand. Stopped in the street, near the curb, but too far away at once.

The woman was ahead of her, pushing a pink stroller--the kind a child might use for her dollies, but which she used for a small infant. She reeled around and hit the girl so hard that the girl screamed and fell awkwardly to the ground, now also danglingfrom the woman's hand.

Justin rolled down his window and shouted, "That's not a cross walk!"

A Mustang flew by, but the other cars stopped in the intersection, letting the fierce and frightened motley crew tramp across the asphalt.

I do not know what stopped me from getting out of the car and grabbing the girl: fear of the traffic, holding my hands to my face in terror while my breakfast lurched, ridiculous American propriety that does not allow one American woman to rescue an American child from an American woman completely lost in her mind and the system and the drugs (just a guess).

We do not want children, but I would rescue that girl. She could sleep on our futon. With her sister too.

We watched, afraid and horrified, not knowing what to do. Would calling the police really help? The system doesn't really save children does it?

If I could save just one child....

"There's another stripper on its way," Justin said.

I saw a valedictorian, a doctor, a teacher... hope for the world dashed by a slapping hand that hit its mark and a speeding car that missed...

How do people get this way?

We drove onward and saw a happy family of three, holding hands and walking to the farmer's market. I grasp at that image without desire for having it; with hope for it growing and saving the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oakley's Mommy died

Oakley is flying direct from LAX to Bangkok tonight. The cremation ceremony is Sunday. She texted me to let me know. I called and left a message about how sorry I am and that "she's not suffering in her earthly life anymore, but I know that's not very comforting to the kids of dead mommies..." and to let us know if there's anything we could do here, since we can't go to Thailand with cupcakes, the way she came to Mark's house in Lakewood for the wake.

I want to say at least all that waiting is over, but even after Toni's death I'm not sure which is better--waiting for a mom to die, or living without her.

Justin and I are going to watch a movie together tonight. I was supposed to go take photographs of a dance performance, but it's been too hard of a day and I'm just not up to it.

I'm glad Oaks and Brandon came down this weekend. We went to the zoo. Oaks and I kept running into stores because we saw a shirt that said, "I'm a little monkey" on it, but we couldn't find one in our size. (They were child sized--but Oaks can do child-sized shirts, and I could maybe give it a whirl.)

I wonder when she'll get back from Thailand.

Poor Oaks. She loved her mom so much.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

So Here's My Plan...

The puppies' mommy and daddy are coming home today.

But I think the kids have forgotten who they are and would be perfectly happy living with me and Justin.

So I'm going to kidnap them. We'll move to Georgia. No one will ever find us.

Nah, Georgia has a terrible problem with flies... and this little attitude issue about race and homosexuality that would really stress me out.

Perhaps I'll just move in here. We'll change the locks before they get back, I'll move the truck (the primary form of transportation for the puppies, which I have grown to enjoy driving immensely), and they'll just have to find somewhere else to live.

I'm sure that would work.

I even know where they keep the toilet paper. I could live here problem free.


OK, fine. I'll just go back to being Aunty Olaina who only gets to see the puppies once a day and doesn't get to take them to the beach or the park whenever we want to go there.

Who cares that Stan will only eat his breakfast/dinner (same food) if I'm sitting next to him? Or that he practically crawled through the truck window when we had to stop by my house to give something to Justin?

Somehow these dogs are owned by these other people who also own this home. I'm just the crazy Aunty who has pictures of them up in her house. Who talks about them every day... even writes about them on her blog....

At least I'm not A Cat Lady.

And it's not like I'll have to move to Florida by myself and only visit them when I am invited back. I have a standing breakfast date with them. Sure, they're "parents" have custody on the weekends, but maybe now and then, just before I have to get my car washed, I'll steal them away to some where like Disneyland... or the park. Or maybe even the beach.

I could never be a foster mom. I'd adopt them all. We'd have mismatched Andersons running all over our house. And we'd have dogs. And Yaz and Stan could come visit whenever they wanted to play.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mommy Memories--forts and flashlights

I was just reading a book... forget the title.... Mermaid Seat maybe? and in it the mom used to build a fort with the table covered with a sheet when it was storming outside. Then, she'd read to her son and daughter by flashlight while they lay there looking up at a crucifix she'd nailed to the table bottom and they'd feel safe.

It reminded me of the forts we used to build with the sheets and furniture--I'm not sure if it was rainy outside when we did that, but it was fun. Then, of course, it reminded me of my greatest childhood rebellion: reading by flashlight after lights out (also fun, until someone took the flashlight away *sigh*). Fortunately, clever little me had a relatively bright clock radio to read by. Ha! Sure got by Mom and Dad!

Now for some reason I have the ABC-song stuck in my head; I guess because I was thinking of childhood things. It's getting a little annoying, but Justin's still sleeping so I won't turn the radio on yet. (Yesterday I went to sleep just after 8 p.m. I was so exhausted from work. We had rented a movie, but then came home and I kept falling asleep on the couch before I even took it out of the box, so maybe today we'll watch it. Justin has to work today--noon to 8 p.m. and he'll probably want to relax afterward.

The night shifts are fun because I get to have my day to myself, but having to wake up early for the puppies really cuts into my sleep. It's good though, because otherwise I'd sleep all day and never get anything done. Diana said I could probably walk them later than 7:30, so I'm going to ask her when that would be. A little more sleep wouldn't kill me. Mo's is great though--I really like working there. I've been campaigning to become a server and was finally told what to do, so now I can relax and focus on being the best host ever and in time I'll be movin' on up. I just like to know what the future looks like. I don't mind waiting. Hard to say whether the money will be that much better, but hopefully.

It's so hard for Justin and I to get away. He's loving Emergency Department (ED) and doing really well, so hopefully UCSD will be our future. A friend of ours was talking to his cousin in Maine and he's in the same stage of medical school so our friend said he should come to UCSD, but the guy said there was "no way he'd get in there!" It really is a tough program, very highly ranked and respected. I'm so proud of Justin. Poor guy though, he's having a tough time with his Mom's death and his Dad's stroke (all within two months). But you know him, he powers through all things. He just needs to be sure to let himself grieve now in the drips and drivels and waves that come over us, rather than holding it all in and exploding later.

OK. That's all for now, I've got to get some work done. Goodbye from the grown-up fortless lightless living room--the windows let in just enough light even when they're closed and the laptop is actually easier to see in the relative darkness.

A letter to the editor re. the American Idol experience

I'm not sure if this letter is going to get published in the newspaper, so I'm going to post it here for what it is worth:

The producers of American Idol may "have it down to a science [as a TV show billed] as a talent contest," but they have a lot to learn about processing thousands of people through their gamut of auditioning. Contestants were told to line up at 5 a.m. on Saturday to register and get wristbands to enter Qualcomm Stadium on Monday, but people who obediently waited six hours to get their wristbands Saturday and then arrived promptly at 5 a.m. on Monday still had to wait to until 8:30 a.m. to enter the stadium with people who had just rolled into the parking lot. Then, despite their early registration, they were not necessarily the first to audition. Apparently there was some SNAFU in the order of the tickets distributed at registration as well as the producer's directions for escorting contestants to the initial judges tables. Some people who registered Monday morning without waiting in line at all got to audition before noon. Additionally, the Idol caterers ran out of stadium food in the afternoon (nachos, $6; soda, $4; audition experience, priceless). Contestants and friends did not have in and out privileges for the stadium, so by sundown thousands of hungry, thirst, overheated people were as excited to finally have their seating section's turn to audition as they were to actually sing.

As a former high school teacher and journalism adviser I have helped to organize several conventions and competitions for thousands of teens and adults, and I must say that any event organizer should know better than to frustrate already anxious artists with a lack of access to nourishment and clean bathroom facilities. American Idol may "discover" America's next idol with their TV show focus, but their organization skills and care for contestants leave little to idolize.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My favorite American Idol candidate

Thanks to Jareb, I got a chance to be a part of historical pop culture: The American Idol audition experience.

While media other than Fox News was not allowed to enter Qualcomm Stadium, friends and family were allowed to bring their brains and their cameras, so blog I will.

First some photos:

We got there at the literal crack of dawn to register on Saturday. The San Diego Union Tribune vendors were actually selling Idol signs for fifty cents each. Of course one charming style is drawn to another, so we met cute-boy-Kevin-with-the-Chiclets-teeth-and-20-years-of-life, who was there with his mom and late for rehearsal for West Side Story because of the Idol audition experience.

At first, waiting in the stadium was exciting. Thousands of contestants and friends buzzed with anticipation and listened attentively to the producer's directions. Then, boredom set in--Jareb and I started playing hangman and afterward we took a walk. When we returned, other people in our section were playing hangman too.

On our walk, we found benches that made a perfect cot for me to stretch my back out. Jareb got a text from a friend who had already auditioned and not made it to the next round. Theoretically, the singers performed for a two person panel of judges and then were sent to the executive producers if they sounded good enough. For that trip there was fanfare--a "golden ticket" and a run up the stairs with requisite running and jumping for the cameras and the crowd.

By night fall the scene was less enticing though; people just wanted to have their turn to sing... or eat, or drink, or move from their bleacher seats... It was a fifteen hour day for us and when we left half of the crowd was still waiting to audition.

Jareb finally got his turn and was shuttled through the process. He was on the express lane system--of the four contestants at his table, he was the only one who was sent on to a producer just behind the blue tents while the others were summarily dismissed. He sang his song again for that man (no fanfare Golden Ticket, but I really think they were trying to streamline the process since they had finally realized there were thousands of people to go and they had run out of food hours ago). After listening attentively, the man with the British accent said, "Close, but not close enough."

Jareb will get there one day, I know he will.

How old are we, really?

It doesn't seem possible that we have reached the age where dying parents is not a huge anomaly. It seems that dead parents should still be something that is responded to with great surprise: "Did you know that Joey's mommy is dead?!?! Yeah! Wow. I wonder what he'll do...."

But no, somehow we're into that time where the reaction is more like, "Yeah, Josey's mom is sick too, and last week Tommy's dad passed away."

I still think my parents are going to live forever. (For better or worse.)

Justin is going to live forever.

I am not going to be alone in this world.