29 June, 2008

One Big, Happy Family

Mother: Priscilla, honey?

Priscilla: Not now!

Mother: Honey.

Priscilla: Mom! I’m just here to pick up the last of my stuff.

Mother: I want to talk to you.

Priscilla: And I don’t have the time. We can talk later.

Mother: When, later? You’ve got two more boxes and then you’ll be gone.

Priscilla: I’ll be back, Mom.

Mother: When?

Priscilla: Later.


Thomas: How was your day, Dear?

Mother: Fine. Priscilla came by.

Thomas: Oh really? Did you two have a talk?

Mother: Yes, Thomas. It’s all worked out.

Thomas: Good.

Mother: Thomas?

Thomas: Yes, Dear?

Mother: She seemed upset.

Thomas: Did she say why?

Mother: No.

Thomas: But she seemed upset?

Mother: It’s probably nothing.

Thomas: Sure, it’s probably nothing, Dear. What’s for dinner?


Mother: Oh, hello, Honey. How are you?.... I’m fine, how’s your new room?....That’s nice….. Thomas? He’s fine….. You’d like to talk to him?.... Are you sure?.... Ok, Honey, hold on….It’s Priscilla.

Thomas: Hello?.... I’m fine….. What? I can’t understand you….. You’re what?.... Please don’t cry. I can’t understand you when you cry….. You’re where?.... Now?.... I really can’t. Your mother’s here….. What are we doing? Now, you mean?.... We were watching tv, your mother was going to put in a movie….. Her favorite, of course: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner….. Yes, I’ve seen it a million times. Your mother likes to watch it when she’s….. What?.... Not now….. I can’t….. Right now?.... All right….. Ok, in an hour. That was Priscilla.

Mother: Oh, how is she?

Thomas: Fine. She wants me to meet her in an hour.

Mother: An hour? What about the movie?

Thomas: I’ll have to take a rain check. She wants to see me in an hour.

Mother: Are you sure that’s such a good idea?

Thomas: No, but she asked.

Mother: Well, ok then. But don’t be long. It’s Saturday night you know.

Thomas: I know. How could I forget? I’ll be back soon as I can.

Mother: Love you.

Thomas: Love you.


Priscilla: She’s my mother!

Thomas: She’s my wife!

Priscilla: Not yet, she’s not. The wedding isn’t even for a week.

Thomas: It’s close enough.

Priscilla: What are you doing with her, Thomas?

Thomas: Marrying her.

Priscilla: What about me?

Thomas: You’re too old to adopt.

Priscilla: That’s not what I mean, Thomas. Why aren’t you marrying me?

Thomas: I’m marrying your mother, that’s why.

Priscilla: But why?

Thomas: Ours is not to question why…

Priscilla: Ours is but to do or die. And if I can’t have you…

Thomas: Put away that gun!

Priscilla: You were My boyfriend!

Thomas: It didn’t work out.

Priscilla: You fucked my mother! You think maybe that’s why it didn’t work out?

Thomas: Your mother’s a very seductive woman.

Priscilla: She’s almost 50!

Thomas: Is the safety on on that thing?

Priscilla: What’s the safety?

Thomas: Give me the gun, Priscilla.

Priscilla: You were mine!

Thomas: Please give me the gun

Priscilla: I invited you over to dinner and ten seconds after dessert you’re fucking my mother over a sink full of dirty dinner dishes!

Thomas: It was the best meal I ever had! Please give me the gun.

Priscilla: That is not an appropriate way to show your appreciation for a delightful meal!

Thomas: Please, Priscilla, for God’s sake…

Priscilla: Don’t invoke God! Leave my mother.

Thomas: What? I can’t leave your mother. We’re getting married in a week.

Priscilla: Leave her! Come away with me or just go away. I won’t shoot you if you leave her.

Thomas: No. I won’t leave her. Even if you asked nicely – which you are not…

Priscilla: Ours is but to do or die.

Thomas: No! Wait. Wait! Please don’t shoot me.

Priscilla: Leave her!

Thomas: I can’t … I can’t. I don’t want to die.

Priscilla: It’s one or the other, Thomas.

Thomas: I … ok. I’ll leave her. But I can’t do it now.

Priscilla: Now. You have to leave her now.

Thomas: She’s going to have our baby. I can’t leave her before she has our baby.

Priscilla: Your … baby? My mother is having your baby? What about me?

Thomas: What? I don’t understand.

Priscilla: What about me?!

Thomas: What about you?

Priscilla: You fucking bastard!


At the Same Time

Mother: Oh, you’re going to be such a beautiful baby. You’ll have your father’s eyes and my skin. And with any luck you won’t get any little bit of your sister’s temper. No you won’t. She’ll learn to love you. I just know she will. You, me, your daddy and your big sis Priscilla. All one, big, happy family.

25 June, 2008

Yayyyy Debbi!

(this is what I imagine I'll look like that weekend, without the hoodie)
Go Me!

I won 2 tickets from the Chicago Reader to the Rothbury Festival in Michigan over the 4th of July weekend.

Very excited ... both Jason and I entered the contest as a last resort, fully expecting to miss the inaugural year of this promising festival due to a desire to s
ave money for Caribbean Holidaze in December and my upcoming job change but figured we'd rest the decision on whether or not we could win a contest (meaning, I expected to be spending the weekend in town going between the local waterpark and the Lisle Eyes To The Skies festival held annually on that weekend.)

But noooooooo, we're going to a festie, we're going to a festie! I am going to need to invest in some comfy sandals!

We get to go live in our really flipping Huge, red
Columbia tent (pictured below) we bought last year for the Camp Bisco VI festival in Mariaville, NY (near Albany)!! I love our tent - it has closets. It's big enough for a queen size blow-up bed - hell, it's big enough for two! And did I mention closets?

I have to start this packing list Now!

23 June, 2008

Into The Wild

Had a chance to finally see this movie last night. Of course I would love it, I am a huge believer in finding yourself before all others. I had been impressed with Emile Hirsch in his role as Jay Adams in Lords of Dogtown (although I am a much bigger fan of the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys on the same story and characters). His portrayal of Christopher McCandless/Alexander Supertramp was exceptional.

I found the roles that C.M./A.S. played in the lives of complete strangers to be the most heart-tugging of everything in this movie. Here is a recent college graduate, completely fed up with his family and society and traditional roles and goals, entering into the lives of others and helping them to find themselves as he is on the road to finding himself.

One of the couples who picks him up as he's hitchhiking through California has hit a dead spot in their relationship; Jan (Catherine Keener) isn't 100% into the relationship due to her own dramas and Rainey (Brian Dierker) doesn't know what exactly to do other than watch it go down the tubes. Alex strikes up a unique friendship with Jan and helps her - without really helping her at all - to overcome some of the obstacles between her and Rainey.

And as he moves closer to his great Alaskan Adventure, Alex meets up with Ron, played by Hal Holbrook (wow did he get old!) who lost his wife and son while stationed in Okinawa in the late 50s and has not moved forward since. They grow very close, even inspiring Ron to offer to adopt Alex in lieu of having any descendants. Alex's role in Ron's life however, is merely to encourage him to move forward, travel, enjoy life and not mope in death.

Interspersed through the leading up to the adventure are scenes of Alex living the adventure: discovering and setting up "house" in an old, abandoned Fairbanks, AK public transit bus he refers to as The Magic Bus, hunting for squirrel and eventually downing a bull moose, much to his chagrin as he is too slow in skinning and preparing the meat and the flies have laid their eggs in it, ruining it (who knew hunting and killing for food required such a strict deadline?)

I'm going to spoil the movie now, if you haven't seen it and don't want to know, stop reading.


Chris McCandless/Alex Supertramp dies in his Magic Bus. If you haven't seen the movie, I'll leave the How of it as a surprise but it is based on a true story so perhaps you know already anyway.

Thing is, his death wasn't what I found to be nearly as sad as the legacy of his life and the fact that he realized that he wanted desperately to come back to The World and enjoy all the things Community can offer, all the things he experienced on his trip up to his great Alaskan Adventure but just never realized that in order to find himself, he didn't need complete and utter solitude to take solace in the good parts of being alone.

He comes to that realization awhile before the end of the movie, but Nature foils him, forces him to go back and that is his eventual undoing. Had he just taken the trip up to the point where he entered the Wild and understood all the things he learned about himself as well as others, his great Alaskan Adventure could have been more of an actual adventure and less of a man running away from the thing that keeps Mankind a viable (and dominant) species: Community. Communing with others. Being one of.

I enjoy my moments of solitude and quiet as much (possibly more - that would be the only child in me) than most but eventually I know that I won't move forward without the others around me. While he encourages Jan and Ron both to move forward and experience life, he is getting ready to leave the most important part of life behind: the other people in his life. They don't have to be parents or classmates, they can be complete strangers who fulfill that missing puzzle piece in your life or you fulfill the same in them. But to deny them all and yourself of the company and companionship that Community provides ... it may not always be fatal but it will never be harmless.

22 June, 2008

Spring Cleaning

So to celebrate our anniversary weekend, Jason and I decided to prepare in case we needed to move soon by emptying the 12 large Tupperware containers in our garage into 3 piles: Keep, Give Away and Trash. As they were before yesterday, the containers were stacked in two piles of six with, hopefully, the heaviest at the bottom and the lightest at the top. Our goal was to reduce them by half and then use the empty half to hold camping supplies (for a quick getaway, I always like to be able to make a quick getaway) and other loose items cluttering up our lives.

We pulled down the top 2 containers to discover our Europe backpacks in one and old clothes in another. If you ever want to understand exactly what your body stench is, hiding underneath all that soap and perfume, put away some clothes for a few years in a somewhat-airtight container and then open it. You will get a full-on body chemistry profile in a single instant. And if you're lucky, it will stay in the air for a little while for you and curious neighbors to enjoy.

As the first hour passed, our giveaway pile had grown to 3 large trash bags and our trash pile to 1 nearly filled bag. The Europe backpacks went into a 4th pile - the eBay pile. Next time we go to Europe, we'll go as adults do: with suitcases.

Jason sent me inside with 4 now-emptied containers to do some de-cluttering in our condo as well. I tackled the 2nd bedroom closet first. This is pretty much the catch-all for all things fragile and useless. We have about a million frames, they're all in there. We have a decomposed computer, it's in there. We have leftover software boxes (three-times the size of the dvd-sized cases the software actually comes in, is that really necessary and is it really necessary that we hold onto them??), my iPod box that we kept for ?? reason; they're all in there. That took two of the empty tupperwares to lessen the load and that was just from the top shelf.

Next, I tackled the puny linen closet. Seriously, this linen closet is great if you have one set of everything you use besides the set you are currently using, and perhaps many people only have one extra and we're the freaks, who knows? But, fact is, we have many towels, for many moods. We have beach towels and bathroom towels and seasonal towels (not my doing!) and we have blankets in case we have guests, we have pillowcases that have no matching sheets, we have dish towels and hand towels and orphaned wash cloths. We don't fold our linens and put them in the puny linen closet; we open the door with our bodies rigid, ready to catch the first thing to fall and we shove in the newly-cleaned linen into any spot that may appear empty, then we shove back whatever attempted to fall and shut the door very quickly, happy in the knowledge that we don't have to open it until the next laundry day. Well, no longer. One now-filled, formerly-empty tupperware later, and our linen closet has been sufficiently tamed.

And finally, I cleared out the top shelf in our entryway closet. It took two empty containers (I had to go out to the garage to grab one more), but the endless paint cans and paint supplies and winter accessories and random Christmas ornaments are no longer threatening to topple every time we open the doors.

Back in the garage, Jason had reduce the piles to the bottom tupperwares and it was time for me to sit down in front of my own, personal tupperware - the parents' basement I never had, to store my entire history, now in the form of plastic. The things in there run the gamut: I have notebooks with half-written stories dating back to junior high, old pictures from school and beyond, several sets of juggling balls, and old tin, old letters to and from friends and lovers, undeveloped film rolls from God knows when, a couple of hats, some school transcripts and lots of picture IDs from all points in my life. At the top sat an old newspaper from my days as Editor of the high school newspaper - this one had my very controversial editorial about preppies and mushroom cloud bangs: it's a keeper.

In an hour, I managed to whittle my history down from one-full to one-half tupperware, commenting aloud, and often in surprise, all the way through. I would have loved to have the time to read through the notebooks, the diaries, the newspaper, go through each and every picture and reminisce about days gone by and friends no longer friendly but I don't think Jason would have the same patience my parents barely had when I did the same thing in the form of cleaning my room. The thing is, cleaning isn't about tidying up; it's about running through a personal history and remembering each step it took you to get where you are now: sitting here in this garage, cleaning it all out. It's cyclical and the things I kept yesterday from being cleaned out, will one day be cleaned out by an even further removed me.

The only thing that truly tugged at my heartstrings as I let it go was my childhood blanket. I don't know if it was made or bought by my parents or grandmother but it was full of memories and stench. Patchwork quilted with swatches of homey fabrics on one side and a cartoon character the cross between Strawberry Shortcake and Holly Hobby on the other. Which reminds me, I need to go out and at least get a picture of it before we give it to the garbage gods. I can keep the memory, even if I can't keep the blanket - it's falling apart and badly in need of a bath but too fragile to introduce to water and therefore keep and it's not like I have children to hand it down to and why on earth would they want if I did: fact is, I was removed enough this time to finally let it go.

At the end, our eBay pile had some good stuff in it. The record pictured at the top is one. We pulled out a ton of old lps, some from our own collections and others from our parents. We looked up many of them on eBay to see their worth - most weren't worth much more than $10, one or two were alternate pressings and therefore worth a little more but nothing to pay off a mortgage for sure (always a good reason for Spring Cleaning). The record pictured, Freedom, is one that came from a parent (can't remember if it's my mom or his) and, I thought, might be worth a little something on eBay so I looked it up. Turns out, there are a lot of records with Freedom in the title but this one didn't come up in current or completed auctions search so I googled it. Googled the title of the album (Freedom), the songs (several - compilation from the 60s), the label (Sessions Presents Freedom), the company (RCA), the cover artist (J.A. Kurtz) ... one solitary, little-described mention, no picture. Googled all of the above in images, thinking someone has to have posted a picture of this iconographic image - nothing.

So I took this picture this morning in the dining room. I opened the curtains to the sliding glass door and let all this beautiful sunshine in, grabbed one of my husband's cameras (he's a professional, he owns a few, all very expensive and I hate holding them but this was an emergency) and his 80 - 200 lens and stood over this album sitting in natural light and took this picture in order to place it on the Internet so that someone else, someday, can get a digital image of this album they found in the midst of their Spring Cleaning and maybe, they'll even have a high-dollar eBay completed auction to encourage them to sell it and pay off a mortgage. To me, the album was the perfect epithet to our productivity yesterday. Stuff is a prison. You feel chained to your stuff, your things, and you feel guilty when you let it go but the fact of the matter is, you haven't thought about that roll of blurry concert pictures or that ratty blanket since the last time you opened this box and if you didn't throw it out, you wouldn't think about it till the next time. Break the chains, throw away the blurry, natty memories, keep the sharper, sturdier ones. Till they get blurry or torn, then toss them too.

Life isn't about hiring a size-larger moving truck to relocate your stuff ... it's about Freedom.

21 June, 2008

Love, Death and Donkey Kong Jr.

Today is my third anniversary. It's actually been a blah kinda day sitting in the middle of a pretty damn good week. I got a job offer yesterday which is a huge relief in the wake of a layoff. We'll call it an early anniversary gift.

We watched our wedding video last night before bed ... I hate my voice. I really, really hate my voice. I mean, there are so many other things I could nitpick on about myself from that wedding (like my hair, my body, my sweat - Jamaica in June) but no, it's my voice I reserve the rolling eyes for. Damn my deep-voiced parents!

We didn't make any plans for today, really. We kinda wing it on big occasions, which wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have decision-making issues as well. Spontaneity is inevitably served with a side of What do you wanna do? - I dunno know, what do you wanna do?

Eventually, at 9pm, we decide we want to go to dinner at
Venuti's in Addison. J has shot a couple weddings there, his most recent being last weekend, and swears the food is out of this world.

We're heading out to the car, dressed up and looking nice and we run into our upstairs neighbor Michelle. She and her husband Chuck moved in upstairs only a few months after we moved into our condo and we have gotten along very well even though they're in their 50s. Down to earth, very kind people.

A couple of months ago, we noticed Chuck was looking ragged and his voice was shot. I asked him if everything was okay and he said he'd been to the doctor and they were testing him for lung cancer. They didn't yet have the results when I spoke to him, he said they'd have them within the week. We found out about a week later that the results came back positive. J talked with him not long after that and Chuck said he was told it was terminal.

Now, Chuck isn't a smoker nor is he an unhealthy man. He's in his early to mid 50s, loves to fish and when I say loves, I mean he'd choose fishing over just about anything else. Real rugged kinda guy, very soft-spoken and nice, silly moustache, salt and pepper hair and always willing to help out if needed. His wife Michelle is a massage therapist and yoga instructor - she may be in her 50s but she looks like she's in her late 20s, perhaps early 30s. Hot babe kinda lady.

So we run into Michelle. She's getting out of her car, her two dogs are in the back seat, the normally sedate Yorkie is yapping like crazy while the normally frenzied mutt is sleeping beside her. We exchange pleasantries and then ask Michelle how Chuck is, as we've done everytime we've seen her in these last 2 months. She drops her pleasant smile and says Chuck died two days ago, he's gone.

It's been a long time since someone I know has died - our friend Mike's mom passed in early December and we attended her wake (open casket, an hour after having 2 wisdom teeth removed and the novacaine hasn't worn off yet ... yeaaaaaaa) but we didn't really know her. We knew Chuck. We'd talk about all sorts of stuff with him while he walked Zena and Scruffy. He was planning on retiring in 10 years and moving up to Wisconsin to live on a lake full-time. On the weekends, he and Michelle escaped to that lake cabin and couldn't wait till the day they wouldn't have to be weekend residents only.

God royally screwed them; as Chuck lay dying upstairs from us, unable to go "home" one last time for lack of nearby medical care, torrential rains caused their lake to overflow and flood their cabin and maroon their pontoon boat.

Michelle hates the city, isn't even really crazy about the suburbs - she loves peace and quite and countryside with few people. So she's selling her condo and moving back to Wisconsin, cleaning up the cabin and going to grieve where she feels more at home.

So this is what is crowding my head as we pull off to dinner.

Venuti's is gorgeous, big money in that, and the food is 5-star to this 3-star lady. After deliberating between about 6 entrees, I decided on the linguine with steamed mussels. I fell in love with linguine with clams the summer before my senior year in high school when I spent 3 weeks out in San Francisco with my uncles and they took us for a weekend to Santa Cruz and we had dinner in this joint on the pier and I thought I'd try linguine with clams because I was going to be a senior and my palate was growing up. I loved it. Absolute smash! But I never ordered it again because I thought maybe that Santa Cruz joint was phenomenol and I'd never find it as good again ... and bad clams are BAD.

But tonight I decide to go out on that limb again, with mussels, and I think there's no need to worry about my love for linguine with clams or mussels again.

We talked about many things over dinner but I think both our minds were on Chuck and Michelle.

After dinner, with leftovers in the floor well, we decided to head to Dave and Busters for some arcade fun. I was ecstatic to see they had some old school arcade games like Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede and my favorite: Donkey Kong, Jr. I cultivated an unhealthy arcade addiction as a younger person: my Dad took me to Vegas a couple times and he would head off to his games and I would head off to mine. Only difference was he could watch me play my games and I had to gesture to him from the boundary of the casino when I needed his attention. Donkey Kong, Jr. was one of those games I continually fed quarters to. I never got that great at it, not like I did with Galaga and Galaxian (virtually the same game except you couldn't retrieve a kidnapped ship in Galaxian).

Not much has changed. I didn't even make it past the second level. I knew I would waste our investment in front of that machine if I didn't pull away voluntarily so I left willingly after watching "Game Over" dance across the screen.

We tried out various other games and then spent the rest of our card on a Lost World sit-down game shooting velociraptors and T-Rex. I accidentally shot a couple of people too but when the screen is flashing left and right, humans wearing camouflage look just like deadly dinosaurs. Anyway ... it's not like I actually knew them.

So now I'm home again, starting this blog over, my mind still unable to wrap itself around the fact that Chuck is never going to prop our recycle bin up against our garage door Tuesday afternoons, that Michelle will be selling and moving away, that a man who isn't even 55, never smoked, keeps active and loves his family and friends with all his heart isn't going to watch his sons marry or have kids or take his grandsons fishing. Of course life isn't fair, hell I could spend the rest of my life expanding on that subject but it seems all the more unfair when it's a person you know and you know how good a person he is ... was.

Michelle told us to go out tonight and celebrate each other, that she and Chuck celebrated each other when he was alive and that there was no time like the present to love with all you've got. I guess I'll try to remember that a little more from now on.

And on that note, it's time to go be with my husband as our third anniversary winds down.

Mazel tov.