Thursday, July 29, 2021

M Is For Movies

One of the first Movies I can remember going to see was The Sound of Music. That movie came out in 1965; I was six at the time. One of my parents dropped us kids off at a theater downtown with ticket money and enough for a concession snack. I chose a box of candies called Chocolate Babies, which were little child-shaped Tootsie Roll-type things. It never occurred to me that they were not only unfortunately named, but that eating them was also sort of cannibalistic.

I spent a large part of the movie feeling confused, having no idea as to the politics or the history of it all. My father served in World War II, but he rarely spoke of it, and being six years old, it was not something I had encountered in kindergarten or first grade. Still, I had a good time and loved the huge screen and sitting in the dark, getting lost in the atmosphere of it all.

We didn't go to the Movies as a family, ever, so the rarity of Movies made them wonderful to me. Even as a teenager going with friends, I always got a thrill when the lights would go all the way down and the previews would start. I loved the feeling of anticipation when the title of the feature I was there to see would go up on the big screen. I was immediately ready to be swept into the story.

My first date with Rick was a movie. We were going to go see Star Wars, but neither of us was entirely sure how to get to the theater where it was playing (oh, the days before Google Maps and GPS!). We ended up seeing Oh, God! with George Burns and John Denver instead. To this day neither of us has ever seen Star Wars on the big screen.

I went to the Movies quite often, years ago, with teacher friends. We'd go to early shows and, during the summers, matinees. One memorable Last Day Of School, a teacher buddy and I even went to a movie just a little bit drunk on some terrible frozen margaritas we made at my apartment. When our friend arrived to pick us up to go, our attempt to appear sober failed entirely. That movie was Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan, the only movie playing that afternoon at a convenient time for us. I have no idea what it was about, (none of us had seen Star Trek I; was there one?) but I had fun. We were the only people in the theater.

Back then, I saw so many Movies! I wanted to see as many Oscar Contenders as I could. A colleague and I would print out the Oscar nominations and make our picks and vie for bragging rights. A friend and I went to the Movies at least a couple times a month. In my retirement, I said wistfully, I'll be able to go to the Movies all the time. I imagined myself sitting afternoons in almost empty theaters, watching Movies on Tuesdays or Thursdays and emerging into the sunshine two hours later, blinking and smiling, then heading home and back to my Real Life.

That didn't happen. I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis in the titular role, in 2012. Going to the Movies slowly became less and less of a Pleasure for me. First, the theaters became smaller and smaller, and the walls became thinner. I could hear some of the heavier, deeper bass notes of the films going on in the adjoining cinemas. Then, audience member behaviour got worse:  it's hard to lose yourself in the Movies when people near you are talking (not whispering); when the lights from their cell phones are distracting you; when their cell phones ring AND they take the call right there in the theater; and when parents bring children to Movies that are really not for kids and then refuse to regulate their behaviour. I simply gave up, completely and totally. 

"Wow. It's just a movie, not a religious service," some of you are probably saying. And, of course, you're right.

Although the last religious service I attended was equally as annoying as what I described above, with the addition of it being a religious service. But I digress.

My point is--and I do have one--that Going To The Movies has been spoiled, like so many things, by a Lack Of Common Human Courtesy. Whether its demise was hurried by technology (cell phones, digital projectors) or greed (multi-plexes, short staffing), Common Human Courtesy at the Movies has definitely dwindled to the point where for me, there is not enough of it to get me to the theater. Like many others, I'll wait until the film comes to a streaming service. And then, I find, I don't care enough to seek it out.

How about you? Do you still go to Movies (or did you, before the pandemic)? Am I expecting Too Much? Chat me up in Comments


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

L Is For Lists


Oh, hello. Hasn't the weather been just shitful? Here in NEO, we're feeling like steamed dumplings. Not like we want to eat them, but as if we are them. 

I've been less than motivated to do anything, whether it be indoor or outdoor, but I don't want to neglect this space or you. So I press on, and with the Letter L.

A long time ago I used to have a blog with my eldest son Jared called Stuff On Our List. We'd pick a topic and make a list of stuff under that topic and then chat about it. Some of the topics included Top 5 Sandwiches, 5 Worst Songs Of All Time, Top 5 Childhood Toys, and Pets I Grew Up With. It was a fun blog and a fun project to do with Jared.

I still like Lists (especially those that aren't To Do Lists), so here are a few random Lists for fun.

Songs I Recently Downloaded

1. Starboy by The Weeknd

2. Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode

3. Royals by Lorde

4. Year of the Cat (album) by Al Stewart

5. Delicate by Taylor Swift

6. Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo

7. Larger Than Life by Backstreet Boys

8.  Quit Playing Games With My Heart by Backstreet Boys

9.  I Hope by Gabby Barrett

10. Blinding Lights by The Weeknd

Obviously, I get nostalgic for something and then I need to hear it, which is the case with the older songs on here. It's irritating to me that I have so many CDs that are rendered useless by my car, which does not have a CD player. The backstory to the Backstreet Boys music gives me very fond memories:  I used to blast their music when I picked up my son and his buddies from summer school gym (they took it to free up room in their high school schedules). We had so much fun.

Shows We've Streamed And Loved (In No Particular Order)

1. Kim's Convenience

2. Schitt's Creek

3. The Queen's Gambit

4. ER

5. The Kominsky Method

6.  Broadchurch

7.  Big Little Lies*

8.  Grace And Frankie*

9.  Hoarders

10.  Baskets

*The asterisk means that this is a show only I watched. Rick and I are currently watching ER, the 1994-2009 TV series, and we are thoroughly enjoying it all over again. I highly recommend it. We've watched so many shows across so many streaming services (Sam and Jared are very generous) that at times we forget where to find things. The options are mind-numbing.

Summertime Dinners On Repeat

1. Flatbread Pizzas on the grill

2. Cold Tuna Pasta with Peas

3. Raw Veg and Dip

4. Snack Board/Charcuterie Board

5. Spinach Dip with Crackers and Raw Veg

6. Huge Salad with Pork Tenderloin

7. Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Veg

Rick and I are both so bored with food, and I am so sick of planning dinner. I feel like when the boys were young, I made the Meat, Veg, Starch dinners like a champ for twenty years. I AM OVER IT. Now, almost anything counts as dinner. Sometimes, even ice cream. I am a grownup and I can do that.

Small Joys In My Everyday Life

1. The Redheaded Woodpecker Frequenting My Feeder

2. My Lemony Body Spray And Lotion

3. The Dogs Next Door

4. Sam Coming For Lunch

5. The Quiet Of My Home

6. Snuggling Under My Comforter On The Couch In The Evening

7. Time

I wish every single one of my friends could be retired. It is truly the gift I hoped it would be. I have so much more Time at home and so much more Peace. It makes me able to observe and enjoy all the other Happinesses in my life. Those of you who know me--even by reading here--know that I am no Pollyanna or Gratitude Proselytizer. Once in a while, however, I think it's helpful to take a look at some of the Good Stuff in your life. 

Summer Stuff I Don't Get Excited About

1. Baseball

2. The Beach 

3.  Eating Outdoors

4. Swimming

5. Pick Your Own Fruit/Veg

Lots of people are big baseball fans, and I am not one of them. I used to go to my brother's baseball games and my students' baseball games all the time. That was fun because I was personally invested. Now, as one of my son's friends said, with pro sports being the way they are, you're basically rooting for laundry; players come and go with regularity, and the names on jerseys don't stick around. I'm not a beach person because there's no good shade and so much sand (and that stuff comes home with you forever), and I do not know how to swim. I become panicky in water near my chin. I am not a farmhand, so I prefer to buy my produce, and because we have Evolved and Become Highly Civilized, I do not have to fight with the elements or insects for my food. I can eat inside a shelter with four walls and a roof and climate control. This is the twenty-first century, so I will act like it. Thank you.

Do not even think of asking my opinion of Camping. Ridiculous.

I'd like to see an entry or two of yours for these Lists. Please share--or just chat away about my Lists--in Comments.



Saturday, July 03, 2021

K Is For Knee

Right around 1996 or so, I had to get knee surgery. My right kneecap had begun to slip out of place and wander back and forth, causing not only some pretty awful pain and noise in my knee, but some damage as well as it tried to form a new pathway each time it moved.

The orthopedic surgeon had to do a TTT surgery, a tibial tubercle transfer, which basically was to cut a piece of my tibia to which the kneecap tendon was attached, and relocate it, using a titanium screw and collar. As a result, I have a bump below the skin of that knee, and you can easily feel the screw and collar, which are about a quarter inch total width, and they stick up noticeably about the same height, kind of like a prominent spider bite.

The orthopedic surgeon once offered to "slice that open and back the screw out with a drill, no problem, under a local," but I declined. He assured me that the bone, now healed, would quickly grow to fill the cavity left by the missing screw and present no immediate danger. I think I recall saying, "Do I look crazy to you?" and that was the end of it.

Every so often, the presence of a titanium screw in my leg would arise during my time in the classroom. When one teaches English, one teaches Life. There is no end to the topics of discussion that would arise during the teaching of novels, plays, poetry, and even grammar. As one of my students once said, "Mrs. D., you have to know everything to teach English, don't you?"

Anyway, at one point, I was asked how I got the titanium screw in my leg. I merely replied that it was an old hockey injury and moved on. The students all exchanged surprised (and some incredulous, some impressed) glances, but did move on. For a minute or two. Soon, a brave soul asked, "Mrs. D, when did you play hockey? What position did you play?"

"I thought we were moving on," I said. "I played a long time ago. I don't anymore. And I played goalie. And now, we are moving on."

It only takes one class period for word to travel in the halls of a high school before cell phones were in common usage. The very next period, I could see students looking at my legs. To their credit, no one asked me about my hockey injury, but to be fair, they were honors kids and not the type. But by the time my junior regulars arrived, they came in the door with the story and all their questions:

"Ms. D! Lemme see that hockey injury!"

"Ms. D., how much time you spend in the penalty box?"

"Ms. D., ain't no way you played no goalie."

"If you got titanium in there, you could probably hock it, right?"

The best thing about the whole Hockey Goalie Story was that it persisted and took on a life of its own. By the time my own sons attended high school there in 1999-2006, they were confronted with it as well, and asked by total strangers over and over again if their mother did indeed get hurt playing hockey and was her position truly goalie. My kids of course played along.

Here's the most confounding thing about the whole hockey injury story:  as a goalie, I would have worn a ton of protection, especially around my legs. Even back in high school--the late 1970s--there would have been decent protection, and the leagues wouldn't have been coed. It's not like they could have thought I was in a professional or college league, could they? Did they think I got hit with a high-speed puck? Did they think I was in a brawl? With teenage brains, who knows what they thought. It's hilarious.

And here's another thing:  whenever a student had a visible injury or a cast or something, I always said, "Oh, no! I hope that doesn't hurt right now. Do you mind telling me what happened?" Sometimes the story would be that they shut the car door on their hand, or that they had to wear a sling during a bursitis flare-up, or that they sprained their wrist at tennis practice. After hearing those explanations, I'd say, "No. That's a terrible story. No one wants to hear that. Tell people that you fell during your first wing-walking class. Or tell them that you were climbing a tree to save a cat. Or say that you were going for the Guinness World's Record in paddle ball. Always make up a good story."

They never caught on; I practically told them I was lying all the time.


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