Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Karate Kid

I first saw The Karate Kid when I was around eight. That is exactly how old Peanut is, so I expected the same reverence for the film that I had. Didn't happen that way...

First of all, the experience just wasn't the same. I was holding a very grown-up drink, but that was an improvement. Why had I not noticed the first time around, that the Cobra Kai sensei looked like David Hasselhoff and Val Kilmer's lovechild? I'm not kidding - you should take a look, it might surprise you:

Kind of like how I was surprised by the tightness of the jeans and super short shorts that Ralph Macchio wore in the movie. All the male characters were wearing amazingly tight pants, actually. I am kind of puzzled that the generation, as a whole, was able to produce offspring.

The part that broke my heart was the reaction that my children had, to Mr. Miyagi. As a child, I had found the movie and life lessons learned to be profound. Here's what I heard last night:

"Wax on, Wax off." HeeheeheeeheeehaaHAHAHA!

"Paint the fence." OOOOOOhahahahhahHeeeheeeheee!

The kids thought it was HILARIOUS.

They loved the movie, but for an entirely different reason than I did. I still thought the experience of watching the film was something akin to holy. When Daniel-San executed the Crane Kick during the final moment, a sob escaped from my throat. "Look kids", I said, barely holding it together, "he DID IT! With an injured leg and everything! Good overcame evil. Perseverance triumphed!" My husband gave me a look that said I was pathetic.

Then came Pat Morita's all-knowing look, frozen until the credits rolled. The kids exhausted themselves with knee slaps and foot stomps - at the hilarity of his beatific (*sob*) facial expression.

They said that they thought it was a really great movie.

They could have been watching Spongebob.

May 28th, 1986

My favorite thing to do is karate. I go to karate lessons on Thursday and Tuesday. We practice many things. In karate you have to have a stance that keeps you balanced. Like the horse stance you spread your feet as far as you can like this with your back straight so the person your fighting won't pull you down. or the cat stance. you put your feet like a t with all the weight on your back leg like this. I practice my hardest to have strong, steady stances. In karate you have to have strong punches. You put one hand in a fist by your ribs upside down and when you punch you turn it right side up. You need to know how to kick. you need to balance when you kick. To have long, extended, kicks you should strech. Before you strech you should exersize so you don't strain yourself when you strech. I like to do karate and I know alot more than what I told you. But I have to quit in June. And start again in September. I have to practice in the summer my hardest.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

If I Had a Fortune...

My eight year old daughter, whom I shall call "Peanut", is convinced that she won the Danimals yogurt sweepstakes and that I threw away the winning container. She swears that it was right there on the counter, but she forgot to tell me about our unbelievable good luck - so it made it's way into recycling. For a couple of weeks now she has been saying things like this:

"Well, we could have gone on a free vacation, but MOM threw away my winning container!"


"If MOM hadn't thrown away my winning container, I could have been rich!"

She is extremely bitter about the whole thing and I'm sure I'll be hearing about it for the rest of my life. At first I was certain that she had imagined it all, but now I've almost got myself convinced that I did, indeed, throw away the winning yogurt container. I guess we'll never know. I asked her what she would have wanted anyway, if she had won a fortune. Her answer? Zhu Zhu Pets. Yes, my dear Peanut would have spent the sweepstakes money on toy hamsters.

My son, who we like to call "The Bean", got a little over $100 for his sixth birthday. He told me that he was going to use it to buy me a minivan. That money began to burn a hole in his pocket. He couldn't help himself and spent it on Lego Star Wars stuff before we ever got to the Toyota dealership.

I can't even begin to think about what I would do, if I suddenly had a pile of extra money. Here's what Ten Year Old Me would have done with the cash:

October, 1985

If I won two million dollars in a lottery, I would buy a mansion, furniture for it, a Porshe, turbo with a million miles on it, a Television watch, a big, very big getto blaster and other cars and things for my family. and two hundred dollars would go to an orphanige. I don't think money is everything, so I'll give some of it to my friends! I would buy a lot of horses and a tennis court, to go with my mansion! I would put the leftover money in the bank. I don't love money, but it I had two million dollars, that's what I would do! I would like to have two million dollars but it probably wouldn't buy as much as I want so, this is what I'd buy, six horses, a barn, and a big house! and I'd give some money away, put some in the bank, and buy a porshe, and a Lamborgini. I would save lots of it, though because of payments on the house,so, I would buy five horses, a porshe and and a big house. I would save and spend the rest of the money! Maybe not! Too tell you the truth, I don't know what I would buy!

Well, at least I had my priorities straight: Big Ghetto Blaster, before giving that $200 to the Orphanage...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cloudy With a Chance of Awkward

While drifting away from that delicious, warm, cashmere hug that some people call "Anesthesia", I could hear two unfamiliar, female voices near the foot of my hospital bed. "What is wrong with her?" One of them asked. "I dunno", answered the other, "but she must be dying. Just like our Dear Martha. I think everyone on this floor is."

Just like that, I was in a huge quandary: Do I sit up, open my eyes and say "Hellooo? I'm alive"? Or do I lay there, letting them tsk-tsk over my prone body, until someone comes to check on me? Then I begin to worry that maybe I really am dying. Thankfully, I didn't have to make any rash decisions. The nurse came in and told me that I could go home, once I used the toilet and proved that I can walk.

I peed and ran around the nurse's station, the back of my gown open and flapping in the breeze. If I had had that sort of motivation in junior high school, I could have won the Union Middle School Turkey Trot. Luckily, I was a victim of hospital overcrowding and not a botched surgery: The only thing to have met it's Heavenly Reward was my gall bladder. It went on to a better place.

I frequently find myself in these surreal, awkward situations. Some people say that they have "Aha" moments. They finally "get it" and hear a choir singing, or something. Mine are usually "Why Me" moments. All I hear is that wacky wind instrument that you get in cartoons when someone is smashed in the face with a pie.

Did you know that in less than two years, I have had five mysteriously flat tires? Alright, so one wasn't a mystery: My tire kissed the center island at the Taco Bell drive-thru. Then there was the one from when I got too close to the curb at my kids' school, but never mind that. I've had to call my husband every time and ask him to come help me. Do you know how embarrassing it has become to make those calls? Why Me?

Several years ago, I was directing a production of "Tom Sawyer" at a children's theater. An entire family was cast in the show together. The Wife, The Husband, The Son (he was around 8) and The Daughter, who was four. They were adorable. The Husband was playing the part of The Reverend. When the town thought that Tom and Huck were dead, he gave a speech that started something like this:

"My Brothers and Sisters in Jesus! We gather today to mourn these young souls..."

And ended something like this:

"Let me hear you say Amen! Louder now: Let me hear you say AMEN!"

He was great. He sounded just like he was raised somewhere in the Deep South. During dress rehearsal, he and The Wife told me that they thought I had a great sense of humor, casting a Jewish man in the role. I'd had no idea. That's obviously not a "Why Me" moment though, just a funny anecdote. Stick with me - it gets better.

The previous week, The Wife had informed me that The Husband was going to miss a rehearsal due to a business trip out of the country. I explained that he had already missed two rehearsals and per my policy, he would have to give one of his performances to his double. She pleaded with me, saying that the trip was to Japan and it was crucial to his business. I, being the clueless, power-tripping 20 year old that I was, would not bend. The Husband was impressed by my "spunk" and handed me a business card. "Call my HR department", he said, "I could use someone like you where I work. You would be great at team building exercises." I indignantly informed him that I would never sit at a desk. I was an artist and I did not belong in some corporate cubicle. He patted me on the shoulder and walked away.

I didn't look at his business card until five years later, when I was getting ready to marry my husband and move out of my parent's house. It was in a box of random items. At the top of the simple white card was his name.

Cue the cartoon-y wind instrument music...

Below was his title: CEO. At the bottom was the name of a very large, very famous movie rental company. I'm willing to bet all of you have used their services, at least once. I'm pretty sure that I actually hit my forehead with the palm of my hand after reading that card.

I will always have days like that. I'm like a magnet for those moments and I always have been...

May 1986

I am a wimp! I only got 3 seconds on the arm pull, it is sort of like chin-ups, except you don't go up then down, you go up and stay up and you count how many seconds you stay up, oh, well,I hope I get good grades, this doesn't affect your grade, but I do hope I get good grades. C says I gave him rabies and he says E gave him rabies and aides and all of that and he also bit me: HARD! He doesn't have any resemblance to human life, he's a weird looney bin! In a psyco house! He is not exactly what i want to write about! especially him gosh! He is strange. well, my trip to yosemite wasn't the greatest trip I've ever been on, but it wasn't to bad to speak about: Like C - Gross. I don't really like E as much as I used to, she acts like I'm someone stupid, like a jerk! Oh well, she is still my friend ALWAYS SHE WILL BE!

PS. C.E. will be my friend for ever and ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, etc.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Brief Visit From the Other Side

When I was a teenager, I used to spend part of my summers studying at the Ashland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Sometime during the June that I turned fifteen, I was in line waiting for a show to open at the Elizabethan Theater when my grandfather appeared and handed me a box of Hot Tamales. “I thought you might want these,” he said and then he was gone. He lived (as do I) in California. That means he drove across two states to hand me a box of candy. ‘Cause he just rolled like that.

Grampy taught me how to fire an antique Civil War rifle and drive a stick shift, well before I turned twelve. Things that he used to say became a fundamental part of who I am, such as: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” and “don’t worry about deciding what you want to be when you grow up until you’re thirty.” The last one threw my husband for a loop. When I reached that milestone birthday, I informed him that my chosen vocation was Stay at Home Mom.

Around the time of the Interstate Candy Drop, I decided that I wanted to be a Beauty Queen. I convinced Grampy that I deserved a crown and sash, so he signed me up for The Santa Clara Miss pageant. I think I should explain that where I am from, we don’t do this kind of thing. I realize that there are states in the US of A where beauty pageants are an important part of life, like brushing your teeth. Or breathing. That’s just not how I was raised: Between Kindergarten and college graduation, I knew of four girls who had participated in a pageant – and one of them was a dancer for the numbers when the actual competitors were changing into their ball gowns or swimsuits, or whatever.

The rest of the contestants had their gowns designed and constructed specifically for that pageant. Mine was not new, nor was it a custom job. Somehow, the other girls knew that they were supposed to sing “Stand by Your Man” or “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”. I did a stand up comedy routine. I wish I could grab Fifteen Year Old Me’s shoulders, shake really hard and yell, “Nononono! Turn away from the light! Don’t do this!” I think it was during the Personal Introductions that I finally realized (with a horrible, panicky discovery) that I did not belong there.

Here’s how it went down:

Announcer: Joining us now is Gardenia McFlowerson! She loves her kitten, Marshmallow. She was sponsored for the pageant today, by Pretty Pettunia’s Florist. Welcome Gardenia!

And next we have Bunny Fuzzipants! She likes to practice perfect posture. Bunny was sponsored by Getterdone Hardware Store! Beautiful smile, Bunny!

And now… we have Shauna. Shauna enjoys writing “biting satirical One Acts”. She was…uhm…sponsored by her grandfather, Paul. Get…up here…You!

It was a disaster, but I did win the award for “Best Personal Interview”. They thought I had an OK personality. Grampy thought I was robbed. He really believed that I should have received the title, to the bitter end.

He passed away before my eight year old’s first birthday. He never got to meet my son. From time to time, the sorrow of his passing still hits me in the chest like a hammer. One of those giant ones at carnivals, that you use to whack the post and try to activate as many lights as your strength allows. The impact of my mournful hammer is powerful enough to ignite the bulb at the top. Sometimes I feel like he was just here, yesterday.

I was filled with a fuzzy kind of comfort when I read my journal entry from September 26th, 1985 and found that Ten Year Old Me had literally seen him, just the day before.

September, 1985

Yesterday I didn’t play much just got picked up by grampy. I got new earings and a necklace. I got a tea cup, a small one and a tiny house. And a unicorn key chain. I also got a new shirt with a unicorn fighting a pegasis. And my mom gave me her shirt with a unicorn on it. Aaron got a Hulk Hogan shirt and my dad got a shirt that says something about being fed up about morning. I did my speaking assignment about ancestors today, I couldn’t find Germany until the last minute. I like school. Guess what L was giving out packages of stickers. I think other people like him just because of his stickers but I like him (for a friend) so does K.

I wish I still had those Unicorn tshirts, I think they're coming back in style...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Always Avoid Confrontation. Except For That One Day in 1985.

I tend to avoid confrontation at all costs. I guess I prefer to bumble about, like Winnie the Pooh: Oblivious to the negative and just happy to be, as long as I have my honey (or, in this case, Dunkin' Donuts Original Blend Coffee). I just can't seem to stand the heat - unless someone does or says something inappropriate to my children, then you'd better watch out: Mama Bear will come out of hibernation faster than you can say "Oh, bother!"

When I think someone is going to confront me about something, my insides turn into a churning vat of squirming eels. I start to sweat and I can't form complete sentences. I kid you not: I will hide from you, if I think you are going to yell at me. This has been the case, for the better part of 34 (almost 35) years. Or so I thought.

Imagine my surprise, when I found out that Ten Year Old Me almost got into a beat down with a deaf kid. I was flipping through her journal and she was telling me all about how she loves watching The Cosby Show and how her favorite food is Thrifty's ice cream. Then between hearing about what she was going to be for Halloween and what she wore to her/my parent's wedding (my mother remarried in 1984) she told me about a real true life confrontation that she got into on October 29th, 1985.

I was stunned for two reasons:

First: I have no problem whatsoever with the deaf community. The elementary school that I attended had a program for hearing impaired kids, so we were all required to learn American Sign Language. We learned the alphabet and many words that someone our age might need, in our day to day travels. This education made it possible for me to befriend a girl in middle school, who happened to be deaf. In sixth grade, we did everything together. She and I would sign to one another in class -I still know how to sign "cute boy" really fast so no one can see me do it-and have sleepovers. Using sign language at a sleepover is really awesome, because you can talk all night long and no one will come in to make sure that you're sleeping. We drifted apart after that year, but I still remember enough sign language that I was able to help some people make their sandwich order at Subway, last year. The teenager behind the counter just wasn't getting it and I could sense frustration all around, so I whipped out what I remembered from my old ASL days and ordered their lunch for them. My fingers were a bit rusty, but somehow it worked. I do not discriminate against anyone (except maybe those people who air their personal dirty laundry on Maury Povich). I always thought that it was a trait that I had carried with me, for ever. I guess not.


And yet, here is what Then Me had to say about a run in that she had, while being on Lunch Duty:

October, 1985

I hate working in the caffeteria, I never get to see what happens on recess! I was outside to clean the table and a def girl and def boy were at the table and I signed for them to go to the other table, the girl did but the boy didn't. I kept on yelling at them and signing for him to leave that table. the girl even asked him, but he didn't budge, so the girl kicked him and he chased after her and I grabbed his stuff and put it at the other table. J started laughing! Oh, R and S had a fight today. I don't like working in the caffateria because everything happens outside when I'm inside. I even have to work in the caffateria on Halloween! I have to have more time to get my constume on then ten minutes! Jeese! I never want to work in the caffateria after this week! I hate it! I need more time to get my costume on for sure! I have makeup to put on, a costume to put on a wig too! Oh, T moved. I wish she didn't.

I'm so glad that I got over that bloodthirsty phase...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

She's So Unusual

I think I may have been a little bit cool once. There is no doubt that I am definitely not cool anymore. Not even the tiniest bit. I know this because of the amount of eye-rolling that is aimed in my direction, at my house. Notice that I didn't say in my "general direction". That's because it is very specifically aimed at me. I see so much of the whites in my children's eyes that I occasionally believe that I signed us all up for a zombie movie at some point and between Brownie meetings, Choir practice and our complicated playdate schedule, it skipped my mind. Here is an example of mornings at our place:

Me: What a beautiful morning!
*Eye rolling*
Me: What would you like for breakfast?
*Eye rolling*
Me: Don't forget that Nonnie and Papa are going to pick you up from school, take you to Disneyland and buy you each a pony.
*Eye rolling*

About three months before my husband and I started dating, I went with him and some of our friends to see The Cure play live. We were rocking out in the front row and I found myself sucked under, with a terrific view of goth-inspired leg and footwear. He pulled me up and probably saved my life. I am eternally grateful - not that it wouldn't have been pretty special being trampled to death to the tune of "Friday I'm in Love". I have seen more than my share of local musical talent and I saw Green Day play at the Cactus Club before they were a really huge band. I got the Best. Souvenir. Ever. when some idiot's Doc Marten collided with my eye socket as he dove from the stage. It lasted for about a week and I loved recounting how it happened. That makes me cool, right? Right?

Even as I was hanging out at the Works Gallery in Japantown, watching punk bands play nearly every week and sporting twelve - count them: TWELVE - piercings and my Bettie Page bangs, the CDs that got the most playtime in my car were all from the eighties. I have to say that I would have been pretty embarrassed if my cool friends had found my Huey Lewis and the News cassette floating around in my car. I still loved Wham, too. Nothin' says PUNK ROCK! like "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go"... Around the time that I was wrapping up my education at the university, I purchased three soundtracks: The Wedding Singer, Grosse Point Blank and Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Apparently, my taste in music never matured past the fifth grade:

September, 1985

I like Cyndi Lauper, I like her because she is so "So Unusual". "So Unusual" is one of her newest tapes (or albums) I like Wam because I like their music, and I like them! I like Maddona, I like her because she is, so neat! she is also a good dancer, and singer. I also like prince. he is a very good singer, and I like him. I saw his movie "purple rain". I love music and dancing. I listen to the radio stations K.W.S.S. and K.F.R.C. I like Duran Duran, Tears for fears, and many other groups, and singers. I like music alot, I know people who play music, and sing.

Funny: I could have written that at any point in my life. Minus some of the commas.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How I Know My Daughter Will Be a Fan of Stephen King's Work

Every night, before my children go to sleep, I gently tip toe into their rooms and give them each a delicate kiss on the forehead. My son coos at me (so what if he's six?) and usually says, "I love you, Mommy." My seven year old daughter says, "What are you waiting for? Tell me what happened next!" She is asking what happened in the book that I'm currently reading. The scarier, the better. She loves hearing about it all. Ghost family? Check! Unbalanced, psychic Grandmother wielding an axe? Check! She LOVES that kind of material, because she is genetically predisposed to love it. And I have proof.

What ten year old is allowed to read gory, violent religious fiction? "My goodness", Current Me would sigh, if she saw 1985 Me curled up on the couch reading such literature, "poor little girl. Some people will let their children read anything! Don't her parents know that she is reading that garbage? Do you think it will cause issues, later in life?" I'm pretty sure that Then Me would have told Current Me that her mother and father had no idea that she was reading a book about the spawn of the devil. I am convinced that people can grow up to have issues, stemming from all kinds of things, but horror novels will most certainly not cause any lasting trauma.

Case in point:

September, 1985

I finished "The Omen". It was good. I found out something about it, before the young nanny died(It was hard to see with the bare eyes!) by being hung by herself, in the picture Jennings took there was a CLOUD around her neck! Also on the picture of Father Tassone, he had a CLOUD going in his arm and out of his waist, then a little while later, (a few days later) he had an accident. A teacher accidently dropped the pole that opens the window and it went down through Tassone's sholder and out his waist! Then, after he died Jennings took picture's of of Tassone's room in the church and a small mirror was in the corner,Jenning's caught his reflection in it, and he didn't have a neck, just a CLOUD! Then, a truck with glass on it sliced his neck off! So, everyone who found out the secret died! Get it? I think that's NEAT!

There you have it. Although I will try to make sure that my little girl doesn't read this book any time soon, I don't profess myself as being an expert on child rearing. I do think it would be advisable to make sure that your child can at least spell the word "shoulder", before they are allowed to read about the son of satan.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I am a Cougar, proud and true.

My elementary school's mascot was the Cougar. Did you think I dated second graders, or something? I actually didn't date anyone. Although, our class was in the practice of "going around" with each other and I did kiss a boy in the classroom - but I think it was on a dare. My fifth grade existence was was as innocent as it gets. I didn't think there was anything particularly wonderful or horrible about ten year old Me. Imagine my surprise, when my children begged to read my fifth grade journals over and over out loud. Let me explain that I didn't even know that these journals existed, because I didn't think my parents cared enough about me to keep anything from my childhood. I guess they did care, because a couple of months ago they began bringing down boxes from the attic. Among my old things, we found:

  • A polaroid shot of me with a cardboard cutout of Don Johnson (I paid $7 for it, I remember)
  • A Mad Magazine circa 1973 (never mind that I was born in '75)
  • A US Army issue English to French pocket sized translation book, from World War II
  • The black tooth wax that I got for my wicked witch costume - from Halloween of 1985
  • A stack of journals in my childhood voice

When I read these journals, I am either laughing or cringing. Mostly cringing. My spelling and grammar are terrible, my handwriting nearly illegible and my thoughts completely juvenile. I guess that's why my children love them.

For some bizarre reason (probably that good old narcissism which comes with having a degree in Theater), I feel compelled to share my ten year old self with you. What better place to start than with the first page:

September 3, 1985

Today is the first day of school. It is fun. Mr. K is my teacher. I just moved in. I met new friends and I like it. I wish I was at my old house with my old friends, but I’m happy I’m here.

I didn’t get to go on vacation because we were buzy moving.

The worst thing I ever ate was frog’s legs. We went to our friends house and my mom said we were going to eat chiken. But I sat at the dinner table eating tons of frogs legs! A few years later I learned they were frog legs. I couldn’t belive it! I don’t like frog’s legs! I thought it was gross when my mom told me. I don’t even think she ate any! I sure hope I never eat them again. Some people like them but I sure don’t! Chiken isn’t bad but frog’s legs! Gee wiz! They taste like chiken when you think they’re chiken though. People can realy be convinsed can’t they (at least I was)? People (my friends) gross out when I tell them I ate frogs legs.

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