Aug 31, 2010

My Mom Is Me

This is our mom. My mom. Sometimes it's hard to look at her pictures, because it's like looking at me.


But for some reason frizzy hair looks totally badass on her.


Like most moms of my time she was a little bit hippie,


a whole lot square,


of course a "Sadie, Sadie married lady..." (er, named Wanda)


and a mom.


Who in hindsight was a complete looker,


that could rock her some plaid.

Besides my affinity for plaid, I believe I am so like my mom it's sometimes hard to even describe her without feeling odd, or like there's a lump in my throat.

But when I actually try to think of the ways we're similar, all the big stuff comes up opposites:

Mom: Is like Mary Poppins. She can teach a toddler to read by snapping her fingers and has buckets of patience that she magically pulls out of her carpetbag of tricks. I mean, it's all. About. The kids. Not like "save the children." Oh no, her mom-now-turned-super-grandma love is reserved only for our clan, sorry, none to spare. We're just totally self-centered that way. But you can spend the night and she'll probably make you some homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Me: I know all the songs from Mary Poppins. I sing to my kids and read them stories. But I'm also pretty sure that I may have told my six year old that Ms. Poppins and the chimney sweep, Burt, have an "open relationship," meanwhile I had to train my two-year old to watch TV because he was getting to be seriously high-maintenance. So self-centered part? Check. Will I, or have I ever, made cookies from scratch? Not so much.

Mom: Is completely happy... like, all the time. She is the most content person, ever. She doesn't judge or nag or have unrealistic expectations. She's not like a creepy Stepford mom or a robot. I mean she gets pissed and annoyed, but it's not like a daily thing.

Me: I get pissed and annoyed literally every hour on the hour. What really sucks is when I get pissed and annoyed at my mom while she's perfectly content, patient, happy, and oh... you know, like teaching my kids to read and making us cookies at the same time. Kathleen is also really good at this.

Mom: A total tomboy. Who used to surf and play sports and apparently wore bikinis in the middle of the day on the couch.

Me: Unquestionably an "inside girl." Who just now is getting okay with the idea of wearing a bikini, like on the beach, but would prefer a nice TV blanket and some quality time with my DVR while I'm on the couch. Although I will say my mom has become quite the DVR hoarder as of late, she has some serious inventory cached on that sucker. Plus, our mother literally reads like five to six books a week, all while watching at least a dozen shows and one or two movies for good measure.

Mom: A working, professional person who does her job well, but then clocks out at the end of the day and never looks back.

Me: A working professional person who does her job well, clocks out at the end of the day and then wakes up in the middle of the night completely freaked out about, pick one: a deadline, a concept, a presentation, a client, an irrational fear that there is a rat in the bed and I have to run to the bathroom on my tippy-toes because it's nipping at my heels. This last one is actually a night terror that I have woken up from panting and leaning against the locked bathroom door after I've barricaded myself in... in my sleep. Um, yeah, sleepwalking runs in our family big-time... and we did not get it from my peaceful ear-plug and night-mask wearing mother. No, we got that from our crazy dad. Yeah, it apparently kept him out of Vietnam.

But there are the things that are the same. Things I've gotten from my mom like my height. My voice. My tendency to cry during any movie, or show, or commercial if given a proper bit of soundtrack and some good timing. My appetite for escapism, with a suspension of disbelief that turns on the moment I open the first page of a book, watch the lights dim in a movie theatre or hear the first few notes of my favorite show's opening credits.

My completely naive belief that everything is always going to be safe and good and that we'll all always be whole.


My tunnel-vision to all things family.

Aug 30, 2010

Yes, Mario Lives Here

As in the Super Bros. kind.


Don't be fooled by the needle and thread. No, much to my mother-in-law's horror, I do not sew. I have a brand new, very fine sewing machine, in fact, stashed away in my dining room corner hutch as we speak. She got it for me for Christmas. I thanked her politely. And I promptly hid it where it would not guiltily remind me that there are just some things I will never learn. Spanish. Driving a stick. Sewing a hem.

This is not a mom blog. But I am a mom. So that means doing domestic things like sewing these little mushroom patches on my six-year-old Charlie's nylon school lunch bag.


Mario, is in fact a prominent figure in our family's daily life.




Don't know who Toad is? You obviously have a Nintendo deficiency that you must remedy, stat.

Toad in da house.

Guess who sewed this Toad hat immediately upon the request of my warped-sense-of-reality son? Not me. My mom, who is the ultimate the costumer of this huge production we call family. I could post for days on costumes she's made us over the years. It's just one of the few reasons I believe Charlie has no clue that you can't always just ask to "be" somebody in the middle of an ordinary afternoon, and then snap. You are. I mean, of course there are other reasons he sort of lives in a fantasy land, besides his grandma's willingness to just whip up a new identity made to order. Um, his dad collects almost every action figure in existence. His mom brings home props from commercial shoots that he then sees on TV while he's still playing-with-and-or-wearing said prop. Oh.. his uncle breathes fire and sticks nails up his nose.

I actually had no idea that little mustached plumber was so freakin' huge again until I realized it was Charlie's go-to subject for making new friends at his new school. "So, do you play Mario?" It's a fool-proof pickup line. But for them that can mean so many things. Do you play Mario on the Wii? On the Nintendo DS? Or in Charlie's case, in a continuously day-dreaming loop in your own head-in-the-clouds brain.

But I remember when there was only one option for playing Mario. Nintendo 64 baby. Oh yeah. We made the transition from our Atari with it's bleeping and blooping Donkey Kong and Food Fight to a whole new beautiful mushroomed and floating question-mark-cubed world when our parents moved us from our shangri-la lake house in the woods, to a brand new suburb, right at the beginning of the summer, which meant 1.) no friends and 2.) super parent guilt.

Enter the Nintendo.

We had one of those huge wood-paneled TV-as-piece-of-furniture televisions that sit on the floor it's so massive. It was in Donny's room nestled cozily under his loft-style bunk bed. And basically, the rules were this: we had to win the game (as in defeat the big boss, fireworks at the end, roll the credits) before our parents would buy us a new game. This rule right here would leave any modern six-year-old flabbergasted. But we didn't know any better, so we were all in, totally committed to winning Super Mario Bros. Old school.

Donny and I traded off that grey and red controller all day long. I literally got a blister on my thumb from those red buttons. Since it was summer, and I was twelve and uber-responsible, it was just the three of us together during the day while our parents were at work. Kathleen was really too little to play, but that didn't prevent her from whining at us to have a turn... from under the crack... of the locked bedroom door... What? We couldn't have her screw us up.

And I remember when we did screw up, and poor little Mario would fall down a pit or get chomped by a piranha plant... we would lose our minds. We would turn on each other like vicious dogs. "Why did you have to crunch that Cheeto right when I was jumping?!" "Why did you bump my elbow!?" "Why did you breathe?!!!"

I seriously think if any of us meet an untimely death in our later years due to heart attack, it will be because of the blood-pressure-spiking, palm-sweating, adrenaline pumping, high-anxiety state of our Mario playing youth.

So when Charlie fires up his handheld DS and that old little Mario song starts a playing, I can't help but feel a little sentimental (and perhaps a bit itchy-palmed to pull that sucker right out of his little hands and save me a princess.)

And so, to say Mario lives here is like introducing you to my old friend, or maybe my first-cousin. No. Shall I dare to say my brother? Yep. My super... brother.


Aug 27, 2010

I Wish I Was A Tenenbaum

But based on some conversations I've been having about my family lately, and on top of the taxidermy post – I think perhaps I already am.



Maybe that explains why I love anything with labels. And I don't mean designer ones.




Insects. Skeletons. Furry creatures.



Dr. Delbert Bronwyn was especially irresistible. I had to have him the minute I laid eyes on him (and his super-clearanced price of $4.99 on! Hey... you people's loss, my gain. Just keep buying your gladiator sandals and spectator oxfords and ironic t-shirts. I'm hoping the rest of this framed collection (complete with a monocle-wearing billy goat and a suited gorilla) go on sale soon, too.




What especially rocked my world is when I saw these mounted vegetables at a local art show. Fake food and a scientifically-labeled vibe. I think Mr. Wes Anderson would definitely approve.


These illustrations are from this so-cool-it-makes-my-heart-hurt booklet inside my Criterion Collection Royal Tenenbaums DVD case, that maps out every room in the Tenenbaum house. Eric Anderson is the illustrator and, as I just discovered, brother to director Wes Anderson. Which, I think is even doubly cool, for obvious reasons.

Remember the scene in Royal Tenenbaums where Royal finds the Javelina (boar's head) in the game closet?


Yep. We're just Oklahoma Tenenbaums. I think my dad even looks a bit like Gene Hackman here. Strike up the Mark Mothersbaugh soundtrack... ya'll.

Aug 25, 2010

One Fish. Two Fish.



A coworker was telling me how rad and b-movie-delightful the 3D remake of Piranha was at the movies this past weekend. It made me almost regret having gone to see my Saturday matinee choice, Eat. Purge. Love. I mean Eat. Pray. Love, of course. Although, I did relish in all the locales and the outfits. I know that was not the point of the movie, but I did buy a cute bohemian top not but twenty-four hours later.

So, we're not really a taxidermy type family. For some reason the fish never really counted in my mind, unlike going to a friends' house and seeing, say a deer head stuffed and mounted on the wall.

That being said, two things have influenced taxidermy making it's way (if only just in random small ways) into our family's realm of possessions over the past few years:

1.) It's kind of trendy in a rustic mod sort of way – i.e., antlers as jewelry caddies and cow hides as throw rugs; and

2.) Ebay – my dad just can't seem to resist ordering a python forever frozen coiling it's way out of an Indian basket or a frog fashioned into a coin-purse... and then giving it to one of us kids for Christmas.

Okay, maybe we are a taxidermy family after all, because I keep thinking of examples of it that we have lying around.

Um... we don't wear fur? Does that redeem us? Well, except when we're dressing up all Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (a family-wide cinematic favorite). A good fur grandma stole always comes in handy then... like wrapped around your head... with an eye patch... and a single worn baby-shoe dangling from your belt... next to the frog coin purse.

This may deserve a future post. Or perhaps a humane society intervention.

Aug 23, 2010

My Dad Is A Serial Killer


It's true.


He has a compulsion he cannot resist.


It started at an early age. Some would say a learned behavior.


Don't these photos look like they belong in the opening sequence for Seven, complete with Nine Inch Nails soundtrack and someone x-acto knifing off their fingerprints? No? Hmmm. Just me then.

He has documented it well.


Some keep baby photos. His keepsakes are his babies, too. Six pounds, five ounces indeed.


His obsession has not waned through the years.


It has only grown stronger with time. Though this moment was probably the pinnacle of it's swankiness factor.


This addiction is the constant through the decades. That, and the mustache.


He has tasted true bliss and will not betray it.


Behind the wheel of his bass boat he is a god. The deity... "Scott."


Uncle Bill, Uncle Larry, Uncle Pete. Only one of these men is actually our real uncle. But spilling some blood makes you blood... that, and marrying our aunt.

He has lured many a co-conspirator into his dark undertaking.


He even caught our mom.


Some might say his greatest catch.


Growing up his trophies lined our living room walls.


His handiwork filled our bellies (and our sinks.)


Seriously. WTF?


But like his love for the catch, our love for him is also unwavering.


We see his truth and do not flinch.


This is the moment where Kathleen became a vegetarian. Oh, wait, a vegetarian who eats fish. Nevermind.

Which leaves only one question unanswered...


...can social services still take you away if you're thirty-five?

Um, yeah. Our dad also has a blog. No surprise there. If you go to Old Fish & Such you can see his "Play Bait" of the month. For real.

Aug 20, 2010

Pink. Popcorn. Pig.








Here's to a rosy weekend.

For our family that means spending Saturday at our parents' house. There's sometimes donuts from the store, sometimes not... but always some sort of sweets (usually rice krispy treats or brownies). Kathleen and I devour at least two if not, er, four by the end of the day. It's not uncommon for our dad to barbeque (like he will be this weekend), and if there's a good afternoon matinee playing at the movie theatre, we're totally there.

Sundays are fine and all. But they always seem a little bittersweet and unsatisfying. Maybe it's because they touch Monday. Maybe because there's not enough structure... no beginning, middle or end, just sort of a long sprawl... this mish-mash of leisure and chores and lazing about.

But Saturday is just pure, untainted – happy.