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Whats making me happy this week 04.05.13: boy shorts, dad guitars, and fluorescent adolescence

photos:
1. old dogs, as good as they get
2. cowboy songs
3. singer, from tom huffey’s “mirror” series

I sure would like to know what’s making you happy this week!

In the meantime, here’s what’s making me happy this week:

1. Mani/pedi AND I used a LivingSocial coupon. Happy!

2. NPRs Story Corps podcast. If you ever need your faith in humanity restored, listen. They are short, too short, but I am so moved by these I cry at…every…single…story. Does that make me happy? Yes, it does.

3. Body by Gap boy short undies that came in the mail this week. Yes indeed, new pretty underwear makes me happy! TMI? I know it makes other women happy. Does new underwear ever make men happy?

4. Cowboy songs by the Cactus Blossoms. I volunteered at the Ark this week and had no idea who the performers were. These fresh-faced brothers were the warm-up band. They had me at the first few notes of their sweet cowboy harmonies.

5. Not sure if Tom Hussey’s “Mirror” series makes me happy, but they make me something…introspective? This is how I see myself when I look in the mirror, so much younger than what the world sees. In my mirror, I’m still wearing braces.

6. My son reminded me of the Dad guitar scene from Flight of the Conchords. If you haven’t seen Flight of the Conchords, you will likely not find this funny…But you should get the FotC DVDs…really.

7. I’m finally reading George Saunders. Not “Tenth of December,” according to the New York Times, “the best book you’ll read this year” -which I think was last year. Instead I’m reading “Civilwarland in Bad Decline,” as recommended by Glen Weldon from Pop Culture Happy Hour. I’m happy that I am finally reading the celebrated Saunders. My name finally came up on the library wait list. Is the book making me happy? No. I do get why Saunders is so fêted, but his satire is so close to the edge in my mind, that to me, the stories are equal parts funny, smart and terrifying.

8. I watched Skyfall and Casino Royale with my boy (and wrote about it).

9. My boy and spouse are spending the week in DC and are having a great time! I’m smiling right now just thinking about it. And very soon I will be hitting the road to visit my dear daughter for the weekend, also making happy!

10. The Humans of New York FB feed always makes me happy, but it’s this poem by a student, Fluorescent Adolescence, I found on HONY this week that I thought was pretty fantastic. I wish I had the author’s name.
Sometimes youth is not wasted on the young.

this bond girl

April 4, 2013

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Bond girl?

photos:
1. judi dench as “m”
2. bond’s casino royale swim suit
3. max and his smart girl, agent 99

I watched my first James Bond movie last week, Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. Yes, I said my first. Ever. No, I’m not Amish.

I don’t like violence and I don’t like movies in which the female characters are nothing more than eye candy. But I am a mother of a teenager whom I adore and who will soon be off and running…fast and far away from me. So when invited by this boy to watch Casino Royale and Skyfall, I was willing to give it a try.

I was pleasantly surprised by these movies, in fact I look forward to seeing more. There was violence, yes, and I was born with a dominant sensitivity gene, so I didn’t love that part. But it wasn’t quite as violent as I had imagined.

As far as females, well Judi Dench was the most powerful character in these films and she kind of rocked in her toughness. There were definitely creepy parts– please James, sex with two different “owned” women in the same day and no hint of protection? Shall I teach you about STDs and exponents? Yikes.

I have to admit I almost blew my chances at watching Skyfall due to my obnoxious questions and comments during Casino Royale. I could not help but say things like, “Oh, he kissed her, she’s going to die.” “That one is going to turn out to be a bad guy.” My son accused me of seeing the movie before. He just needs another decade of movie watching to see the patterns. And besides, how can you have a new Bond girl if the old one is still alive? No Bond girl survives for a second movie, does she? And if you have a crazy, demented, bad guy, constrained and locked in a “display” cell with all 4 walls exposed, and he’s chill…he is going to escape. Saw that movie. It was called Silence of the Lambs.

When I was anxious someone was going to get hurt I couldn’t help it, “Is he going to die?” “Does he catch him?” “Where are they going?” and the worst…”What did he say?!”

I KNEW I was being obnoxious but I couldn’t help myself. I saw the words shoot out of my mouth and float in the air in front of my face before my brain could tell my mouth, “Shut it!” Guess who I sounded like—My OWN mom. (You are NOT obnoxious mom. You are awesome, ALWAYS. But you do ask questions during movies.)

Even more obnoxious, was when my son laughed at James Bond’s swimsuit, “Look how short his swimsuit is!” and I replied without a laugh, “Yes…just look.”

I’m the worst.

Luckily my dear son forgave my movie watching indiscretions, or maybe he is so used to tuning me out they didn’t even register. He allowed me to watch Skyfall with him a couple of days later. I was much better behaved.

Clearly I’m not the target audience for Bond films, I’m more of a Get Smart gal. But I’m going to keep my mouth shut and fake it, so I that I may be able to spend 20 more movies? 30 more hours? sharing time with this boy I love.

road tripping

April 2, 2013

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road tripping

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photos:
1. arches national park, delicate arch
2. a cowboy’s first stetson, purchased in moab
3. north rim of the grand canyon
4. canyonlands
5. sunset at canyonlands

My son and husband hit the road today for Washington, DC, and oh how I wish I was with them. I will be visiting my daughter this weekend at her college, which I am happy about, but I wish we were both going with them to DC. I love vacation road trips with my family.

I am not sure how it is in the rest of the country, but here in southeastern Michigan, home of the Motorcity, we are all about being behind the wheel of our automobiles. Or maybe because it takes more time to drive from Ann Arbor to some parts of Michigan than it does to some parts of Florida, we think nothing of a 12-18 hour road trip.

My family has often driven to the warm sunshine of Florida for spring break. We have also driven to DC and Virginia. NYC is close enough that we considered driving, but the thought of dealing with NYC traffic was too scary, so we flew. (Insert Arrested Development’s Gob chicken dance hare– chaw chee chaw chee)

This year, with my daughter now away at school, we don’t have the same breaks. Family spring break road trips, all family spring break trips, are a thing of the past, My son is itching to be the age where he can take trips with just his friends, so I’m sure even divided spring break trips will soon end.

So I am dreaming about a summer family road trip. It is unclear if we will be able to coordinate our schedules for a family trip this summer. It will all depend on my daughter’s employment situation which, in my mind, is a priority. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about it.

Some people will think I’m crazy, and they will be correct, but I love the driving part of a trip almost as much as I love the vacation itself. I love sharing a book together, via an audiobook, the way we used to when our kids would let us read to them every night before bed. I love it when I hear my kids unexpected bursts of laughing from the back of the car—while they watch a movie together with headphones on.

I remember driving in the early morning sun through the Rockies on I-70, which twists and turns through the towering mountains, as a river cascades down on one side. I remember feeling such incredible joy at traveling in the midsts of such beauty with my family right there with me.

Real talk- it is not all bliss. But you knew that. An argument ensues every time we have to choose a restaurant. The goal never seems to be eating at a restaurant you enjoy, the goal is getting to decide where we are going to eat that is not the place your sibling wants to eat, even if it is not the place where you really want to eat.

I remember at least one occasion where we pulled over at a rest stop and made one or the other kid get out of the car and told them to go be by themselves for awhile. And then we locked the car doors (stellar parenting skills right there). I’m sure the one who had been assaulted made smirking faces from the back seat window…

But really and truly, for the most part, the driving is great. And the fact that my kids are asking if we can drive out west again this summer, tells me they enjoy it too. I think because our lives are pretty stressful, that time with nothing to do but drive, or listen to an audio book, or watch a movie, to look out the window at the amazing landcape of this country, or just to process—this downtime in the car is kind of a luxury. And we are pretty good at planning car entertainment. We buy or rent movies before we go, we stock up on audiobooks and music, we make sure we have a car charger for electronic devices…not sure I would have done these trips in a pre-electronics age.

Two summers ago we drove to the Southwest: Zion, Bryce, Arches, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument and through the Rockies to get there. The summer before we did the Rockies, Tetons, Yellowstone and Dinosaur again. Oh such great trips. I’ll spare you the 4 hour slide show. It would be much better if you just go and see for yourself.

This year I would love to travel to Yosemite, San Francisco and maybe drive Highway 1 to Oregon to rendez-vous with my Seattle sister and her family. I think we would need to fly out and then rent a car to drive up the California coast. That would be a very long drive. We will see…

The worst part of driving, even worse than kids fighting in the car, is the drive back home. Oh Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois…or from the south, through Ohio…Gah! After awhile your fruited plains and amber waves of grain get really, really boring, especially after seeing those purple mountains’ majesty in Colorado, or Tennesee, or Pennsylvania. It is in these states that the media usually runs out, and where begins the stress over all of the work that faces us when we get home…

And still, I’ll take it. The team bonding power and shared discover of this vast and varied country of ours far outweighs the downsides of a long road trip.

And really, how much more time do I have with these people I love so much when we are just focused on each other and our shared experience?

The answer is at least 72 if we decide to drive to California, and back, this summer.

foolish thoughts

April 1, 2013

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foolish thoughts

photos (1-4 from the Festifools flickr group http://www.flickr.com/groups/festifools/pool/show/)
1. lovely skeleton
2. ann arbor mayors john hieftje (heeft-ya)
3. audrey
4. green men…or women?
5. wayne white’s LBJ head from http://buy.beautyisembarrassing.com

This Sunday will be the 7th year of the Festifools event in Ann Arbor and I will once again be out of town. Gah!

This crazy University-Ann Arbor Community event is mostly a parade of giant handmade, paper maché puppets/kinetic sculptures, and many silly fools— in celebration of April Fools day. I think most of the spectators are really celebrating spring, art, community and creativity- my favorites!

The event has expanded to include a homemade luminary parade the Friday night before the event, food stalls and I’m not sure what else because I have never attended!

My daughter and I did help with puppet making one year. We mistakenly thought we were volunteering to make our own large puppets, but it turned out we were just paper machéing, for 3 hours, puppets for the students of the UM professor who started the Festifool event. It was fine, everyone involved was really great, but it wasn’t what we had expected.

One of these old days I am going to watch this fool fest. One day I’m going to make a puppet of my own—which anyone is welcome to do, with their own space and resources. Being in the parade isn’t that interesting to me. I would rather watch, but I imagine there are plenty of fools, or festifools, who would be willing to parade around with a puppet.

You see, I have thought about this.

Instead of making a puppet, I might make something like this creature on stilts…but maybe a friendlier version, so as not to make small children cry.

Or I might make something like Wayne White’s LBJ head (above) featured in the documentary, Beauty is Embarassing, which I really, really want to see. (I have only seen the trailer.)

Or maybe something like Fifi, sans the vehicle, made for Baltimore’s Kinectic Sculpture race (which I am also intrigued by!).

I will definitely not be making anything like the puppets from the play War Horse— I’m a hack, not an artist. Have you seen these puppets?! So fascinating you have to remind yourself they’re not real. (There are many youtubes of these puppets, just search War Horse puppets).

These creative images and possibilities will be percolating in my brain until the right time, space and/or enthusiastic conspirator comes along.

I hope that time is before the next Festifools event. I hope that next year, I will be in town to help contribute to the foolishness! I hope to see you there! And I hope, that you will want to carry my puppet.