Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Joy

I'm a fan of Ingmar Bergman, but I found "To Joy" a bit difficult to watch. The acting seemed overwrought, even for 1950, and the story a bit disjointed. Fortunately, it was a short film.

But there were some solid themes running through it:
* What happens when we find out we are not as special as we thought?
* How do we parse out freedom and responsibility?
* Where does love go when it takes a holiday? And how do we lure it back?

I watch (read) a lot of foreign films and wonder about the nuances of the translations. And I'm not very familiar with most of the classical music that punctuated this movie. I think I would have appreciated the movie more were I better educated.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bored and boring, but it's a grand life

Falling back on memes for blog material is a telling marker that my life (and me) are rather boring. Join me in my boredom!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
If it weren't for my job, my neighbors, and other people, I would be perfectly happy. Actually, my neighbors aren't too bad, except for the one with the five (FIVE) barking dogs.

What is your greatest fear?
Being old and sick and diagnosed with dementia when all I really need is a stiff drink and a cigarette.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Gee, so many to choose from. I'll say, the eating thing. When stressed, my eating is out of control. Although last night, when I was feeling particularly weepy about city services (or the lack thereof) and discovered the makings for s'mores in the cupboard, I limited myself to two. I don't like marshmallows that much, and they are so sweet they killed my taste for more chocolate. Now, if I had had some milk in the fridge, the graham crackers would be history.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Again, so many to choose from. There are the usual - intolerance, ignorance, selfishness - but most days what I really hate is how other people drive.

On what occasion do you lie?
In general, I don't lie, except to myself, e.g. "I didn't eat THAT much today."

What is your greatest extravagance?
Define extravagance. Others might judge my yarn stash an extravagance, or the fact that I buy organic food, but even in those areas, I have my limits.

What is your current state of mind?
Boredom. (Editor's note: I wrote this at work.) I'm almost always bored. Me and Flaubert.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
I like a guy who says what he thinks. Also, is willing to make the phone calls to solidify the plans.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
I like a gal who says what she thinks. Also, is willing to make the phone calls to solidify the plans.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Asshole" and "shit". But usually they are so appropriate! Especially when on the road!

When and where were you happiest?
In college. Freedom without responsibility! And while nursing my babies.

Who are your favorite writers?
This changes all the time. Lorrie Moore and Michael Connelly come to mind, although I am reading Marilyn French right now.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Metaphors. I cannot come up with a halfway decent metaphor to save my life.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
My family, as in my kids, or family, as in my siblings? My kids are perfect, and my siblings are okay. I do wish my mother had lived longer, though.

If you died and came back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A cat or an otter. Or a tree. Or a wiser version of me. I like to think we learn something in this life that will help us in the next, assuming there is a next. Otherwise, what is the point?

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
The extra 30-40 pounds I tote around. Since it is mostly around my waist, it really gets in my way.

Where would you like to live?
I like where I live, but we could use a bit more snow in the winter. The summers have been kind of dry lately, too. And then there are those barking dogs.

What is your most treasured possession?
Well, my kids are most treasured, but they are not possessions, and any pet owner will tell you that it's the pets that own US. If the house caught on fire and the pets were safe, the only things I would grab would be my laptop and my purse, because each contains huge portions of my life.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The loss of a child, even though that goes beyond misery.

What do you most value in your friends?
I like a friend who says what s/he thinks. Also, is willing to make the phone calls to solidify the plans. (Ask me something different!)

What are your favorite names?
First American names, because they say something about the namee. Mine would probably be Grumpy Bear or Dances with Beagles.

What is it that you most dislike?
Besides the usual - intolerance, ignorance, selfishness - the way people drive.

What is your greatest regret?
Not following my dreams when I was young. I can still follow those dreams, but it is so much more difficult with a mortgage.

How would you like to die?
First, I plan to live forever - don't we all? But if I must die, let it be in my sleep. But only if the house is clean.

What is your motto?
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Moderation in all things. It's a grand life, if you don't weaken.

Friday, November 13, 2009


This Swiss film is the sweet and funny story of a boy genius who wants to be normal. Vitus is a prodigy who truly loves music, but doesn't like how people, especially his parents, treat him because of his gift. Grandpa is the exception, as are a few others who realize he is fine just the way he is.

It is telling that, after viewing one too many Hollywood movies, I kept waiting for something bad to happen - a tragedy, a molestation, a prank gone horribly wrong. But instead, the story progresses along a natural timeline. Along side the plot are questions of parentage - dad is a workaholic, mom becomes overly invested in Vitus's success - and questions about just what is "normal".

The storyline gets a bit fantastic toward the happily-ever-after conclusion, but the ending fits the story. A pleasant, intelligent movie appropriate for most ages.

P.S. All my blogs are getting spam from "anonymous" commenters. So I am going to disallow anonymous comments, to see if that eliminates this pesky problem. Not that anyone will notice.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cleanliness is next to clean-limbed (in my dictionary)

Many years (actually, decades) ago, a group of us from college developed the habit of gathering twice a year, sans children and other significant others. We started with a stolen Saturday afternoon (some of us were nursing babies), which later grew to an entire day, an overnight, and eventually a whole weekend. It gave us an opportunity to smoke, drink, eat chocolate, watch R-rated movies, play cards, and discuss whatever subjects were pressing at the time. Thirty (30?!?) years later, we smoke less and drink less and eat less, but we still gather and gab.

This past weekend, the group met up at my house, which meant I did not have to drive anywhere but I had to clean everything. I'm one of those people who cannot see the dirt in my own home except through the eyes of others, family members excluded. After executing a rapid "spring cleaning" in anticipation of this weekend, all I can say is, Oh. My. God. It was gross. It was inexcusable. It was embarrassing. My house was filth personified.

But now it is clean! And I would like to keep it that way. Occasionally, I consider hiring someone to clean, rationalizing it would take only one or two hours a week to keep things under control. Then I think, surely, SURELY, I could spend one or two hours a week doing just that. But for some reason, I don't.

Not that I don't create a cleaning schedule for myself. Living alone, if I did an abbreviated spring cleaning in one area each week, my house would always be presentable. Week 1: bedrooms. Week 2: bathrooms. Week 3: livingroom, diningroom, West Wing. Week 4: family room and kitchen. This would be beyond the weekly laundry and vacuuming and toilet swishing. This would be the mopping and the decobwebbing and the dust bunny roundup. Not everything would need to be done every time, but each area would receive a bit of individual attention, to keep things from going to hell and to forestall a cleaning marathon such as the one that occurred last week.

What usually happens, though, is when it comes time to execute the plan for week 1, I think, Well, it's still clean from the last cleaning and I'd rather do such-and-such and I'll do it next time. And that is usually the end of that.

Actually, if I could just keep the breakfast bar clear, I would be happy.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Auntie Climactic

I'm not a holiday person, and in the past, I have complained bitterly about the extortion of Halloween. But I really do get a kick out of the kids. Well, most of them. What's up with the "Happy Halloween!" greetings? What happened to "Trick or treat!"?

Ordinarily, this plastic bag adorned with a jack o' lantern face and stuffed with packing peanuts is all the further I will go re decorations. But for some reason, this year I went wild and plopped down $4 for the above window treatments. So I was stoked, in my own pathetic little way.


So where were the tricky treaters? I started with a 90-count bag of "fun-sized" Starburst and Skittles (chosen because I don't like either). At the end of the evening, I still had 72 left. (Despite my distaste for them, I ate three). Were the kids sick? Were their parents afraid of germy candy? Because it was a Saturday night, were there parties in place of canvassing the neighborhood? I don't know. At least the ones who did show up were wearing the best costumes ever.

And I have the best daughter ever, as evidenced by these birthday flowers:

(No, my birthday is not on Halloween. I'm just late in posting this pic.)