Saturday, August 27, 2005

Reality Bites

I always wonder if I see life the way it really is. Not just how other people see it, although that is certainly a part of it, but life as it really is. Like I wonder why my five year-old shaved his tongue with Topher's razor (yeah, it makes me cringe just to type it) and not only what was going through his head at the time, but for the moment afterwards as he was sucking on a cloth, looking up at me with his puppy-dog eyes as I struggled to see how it all fit in the grande scheme of things and what sort of reaction I should put out into the universe, what--yell at him? comfort him? I did both--you know, just to cover all the bases--and I wondered what would amount to all these little incidents in his life and mine. What would he remember about the incident? Would he remember it at all? Would he ever look at a razor in the same way? I won't.

I've been complaining so much this Summer about Provo City not fixing our basement after they were at fault for flooding it with 2 inches of rain water until yesterday when my neighbor discovered that she had 10 inches of sewage in her basement because of a block in the city's pipes. Turns out it was a dog. Some idiot had put a dog in the pipes (at first alive or dead? the world will never know) and I thought about the idiot who thought that was a good idea, or was it an accident? a dare? Turns out several homes had poo in their basements yesterday and the damages will be in the tens of thousands. Does that guy (and, yes, I'm being sexist, I'm just so sure it's a male aged 14-22) even know what happened? I wish I had a good poo-joke to insert here, for Eric's birthday, but I don't.

I left my baby (and other children) with my mom and dad while I saw Topher's musical (another blog for another day) and when I came back and asked how the baby did, my mom said "Oh, he was fine! An angel. . . what a beautiful. . ." and then my dad cut her off with an indignant "Thank goodness you're back! OH, he was AWFUL! Man he can scream! What's wrong with him?!" Now I know my dad didn't have anything to do with "watching children," because just as enthusiastically he yelled, "Now come and see your kitchen sink! It's never BEEN this clean!" He was really pleased with himself, and while I sat and nursed the baby he proceeded with his itemized list of household chores including pouring bleach down all my drains and removing that nasty glob of Gorilla glue (a present from him, I might add, and it is, undeniably, the best glue in the world, but, like all things, comes with a price) we couldn't get off our bathroom counter. Well, he was really proud of himself--he got it off. Of course I wasn't offended by my father, (but I did tell him my mini-van was a mess, "by the way"), he has his own way and I've grown to love it, but I thought the dramatic difference between the two reports interesting.

I'm not claiming to have a firm grasp of reality, but I do think a lot when vacuuming. And since you know what my father is like, you'll know I do it a lot. I think that the people who have the most interesting things to say about the way things really are unlikely sages. Like everyone assumes that my little brother who has fame and money would be out of touch with reality, which isn't true. Because he has this experience of celebrity, coming from totally different beginnings in the Midwest, he has a really unique perspective and, as a result, has really interesting insights about life as it is. (As a rule, I must note, I don't want to know what Brittany or Paris or Angelina [and her mohawk baby] have to say about life, politics, or exercise.) My friend Erbecca has gone through more craziness than anyone I know, enough to make someone like me roll into a ball under my bed with a box of Godiva and never come out, but she always says, "it is what it is" and "ignore the crazy" with a sense of humor. My friend from Dawlish, England who once sold donuts and, is this right?, braided hair on the beaches of Greece, and lived in the rough part of London with her little ones, has grand insight into the human condition. And she lives in a quiet, little sleepy-town full of waterfowl.

I love any movie about awesome young adults discovering awesome things about life and reality, as beautifully documented in the 90's cult classic, Reality Bites. Because they always come up with awesome new insights about following your dreams and being true to yourself. But what do they have to say about poo sludge in your basement and babies who scream like dinosaurs?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Roll Call

They say it takes a village. No, I don't mean Hillary Clinton who used the term in a book she "wrote" about "community" or "family," or something. I didn't read it, but maybe I should, 'cause Hillary didn't sit around baking cookies and giving Chelsea velcro shoes, oh no, she was working the village. In any case, I mean the blogging village I have come to love so dear. I am glad to reconnect with old friends, find new ones, read funny stuff, write something and send it out into the world (it gives me the illusion of productivity). But it's not all roses and G-2 gel's, it has also brought out some insecurities that surprise me.

I'm such a busybody and I fully admit it: I want to know who's reading my blogs. Do they read one, or all of them? Why don't they comment? (not the "they" who know all about the village, lest I confuse, I mean the readers) The other day I heard someone I know had read my blog--I had no idea. . . this made me a little uncomfortable. I mean, anyone can read them, but it's somehow more comfortable if a stranger reads it than a person, who I actually know. . . I want to know how long they looked at my site--was it just for a second? What took their attention away? Why did they leave? I have horrible images in my mind of people reading my profile and laughing so that somehow I become their latest inside joke--"ohjudy" takes an ironic turn. . . I also want to know who's reading for organizational writing purposes: will this comment offend X ? Will Y appreciate that? It will bring the village closer together--I just know it.

I don't want to come off as a narcissist; I'm not asking for your empty, solicited feedback. People, this is not the time nor the place. I'm just suggesting a roll call. It seems like an appropriate time: Back to school season. So hopefully the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and white paste will inspire you silent anonymous writers and voyeurs to participate. You can post without anyone having to read anything about you. You don't have to have a blog. It's safe. Everyone is doing it. Only one time won't hurt. Just say something, anything. What's your favorite writing utensil? Lipstick color? Anyone?



Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Workin' It

I love pens. I love all school supplies, but I am especially in love with pens. I love the ultra fine point pilots, and my G-2's, and I have every color of Sharpie. I even have forest green, a color I loathe, but I have the Sharpie because I couldn't help myself. I think I became a teacher because I love pens so much and no one questions a teacher who has one million pens, but anyone else, well, this might raise some eyebrows ( I'm already self-conscious about the reaction I get when anyone discovers how many lipsticks/balms/gloss I carry at one time). The second reason I became a teacher was so I could draw on the chalkboard. Don't get me started on this business of replacing chalkboards with whiteboards. I have very strong feelings about this, but I'm determined not to get sidetracked, as is my nature, so back to pens. In conclusion: I love them--but not the 89 cents for a pack of 10 kind. The good ones. The reason I became a teacher. Oh yeah, I was a teacher once, which makes me think of all the jobs I've had. Did that flow nicely? Well, I ain't a teacher anymore. . . So here is my employment history.

Paper route: I delivered papers at 12 years old for the Lincoln Journal. I hated it, but I learned to fold papers really quickly and to hate old people (they were always trying to make my job harder--on purpose/deliberately/with disdain: I tried to get everyone to pay by mail so I wouldn't have to go to each one of their houses each month and the old people wouldn't because "it's part of the job!" grumble grumble). I decided to get the job because my older brother, Christopher, had had a route for years and when I complained about the inequality of housework among my brothers and sisters to my mother, her reasoning for giving him less chores was because he had a paper route. So how dumb did I feel when I had the same amount of household chores, but a paper route in addition. . . So I did what any other spurned preteen would, I split the route in two, paid my younger brother and sister a small fee to do it, ordered the rubberbands, and made a little profit.

Babysitting: This counts, right? I liked it, especially when the kids went to bed and I could help myself to a big bowl of sugar-cereal. You know what I"m talkin' about. It went smoothly, some better than others. I hated the family across the street with three kids because they'd say they'd be home at 11, and then they'd come home at 3 smelling of pot and pay me $1 an hour: with 3 kids, and even for the 80's that was cheap. There was a family I loved, though, because the boys were darling and made me Valentines and all sorts of sweet things, but I once had a really uncomfortable car ride home with the dad. He was really, really cute and he drove a cool corvette and I had a crush on him. I babysat for them starting in the 7th grade and the summer before 9th grade, lets see, how can I say this delicately? I went from a AA to a C and Mr. Corvette told me he noticed that I was "growing up," and "filling out" and something painfully awkward like that and there was this awful moment of silence I'll never forget and that was that. So imagine how confused I was when I found out, years later, that he left his wife. . . 'cause he was gay. Turns out he didn't love me or my filled-out sweater.

The Gallup Polls: "Hello, My name is Lisa and I'm calling from the National Gallup Organization. I assure you I'm not trying to sell you anything, we're just conduction a survey about (insert a variety of subjects: apples, tabacco, President Bush (the first one), insurance, the People's Choice Awards, etc)." I must have said that one million times. (no Miles, not exactly "one million," it's just an estimate). Gallup's Polling headquarters are in Omaha/Lincoln due to our "lack of an identifyable accent." Nebraskans are really proud of that. Working at Gallup was a prerequisite for high school graduation; everyone worked there at some point in time. It was a great place for showing up, talking-gossiping-flirting (point of interest: the office vixen went to the Catholic high school and her name was Chastity-how funny is that?), ordering food, leaving and then doing a half an hour of work. You were paid per quota so it could take you 15 minutes or 4 hours to get your surveys done. Sounds exciting? Well, it was. You had your finger on the pulse of the country. Do people like apples? Why yes, yes they do. Machintosh ones, in fact. Not everyone is privy to such information, but we were. I worked there all through high school and the summer I came back from my freshman year at college. I also verified calls. I'd have to call people, bugging them a second time and asking them if they REALLY completed a survey weeks ago. Basically I was questioning their integrity, and we both knew it. But I doodled a lot, played a lot of Peter Murphy and Fishbone.

Leon's Market: Featured in "Terms of Endearment," this little gourmet grocery store is within walking distance from my home. It's small and overpriced, but it has the best steaks in the city, and that's why it stays open. I needed a second job when I came back from my first year at BYU to kill the summer and interrupt the time inbetween sleeping and listening to the Indigo Girls in the dark. I did slave labor for the Deli women (two old ladies in their 70's who were going to teach me a thing or two about life), which I didn't mind because then the time would go by faster. Time stood still in that place. I did everything I could to keep busy. I offered to make signs for the deli, for the front counter, for the meat counter, for the . . . you get the picture. Some of those signs are still up today (not because they're so great, but because time stands still in that place--they still think it's 1991). I dusted the gum. EVERYDAY. Once I started wiping the windows and the manager told me, "we have someone who does that." I dusted the candybars. ANYTHING, I've never been so bored in my life. But it's here that I learned how to make watergate salad and learned the subtle, yet important distinction between swiss and baby swiss cheese, and my life's never been the same.

Hogi Yogi yogurt blender/hogi maker: I know, I know. Not the proudest moment in my life, but I'm not too proud to make an honest living. . . does your opinion change of me if I tell you I only worked there for 3 months? Yeah, I blended. Raspberry/cream cheese: try it. An old boyfriend introduced me to his fiance my first week on the job. One of my proudest moments. Even Topher, then just a friend, came in once to mock me (oreo-vanilla, yeah, I remember). I left when my then roomate, Rebecca (www.ignorethecrazy.blogspot), convinced her manager to hire me as a watress at a restaraunt if I helped clean up cockroaches after Saturday's bug bomb. That should have been a sign. . .

Waitress at The Underground: Certainly one of the more lucrative jobs. It was a great job for me: I worked with really cool people, there were plenty of "work drama" to keep me entertained, and as much Mr. Pibb as I could drink. I learned a lot, too. Apparently it's romantic to eat dinner in an old-fashioned car in a fake speak-easy, french fries you don't pay for ARE, in fact, better tasting, and always tip 20 percent. Some of the highlights include: Watching Keith, the cook, tease Marsha, an 80 year-old who got her hair done every Thursday and wore lots of dark blue eyeshadow (we were never sure what her job title was, but she made bleu cheese dressing and cheesecake, and wrote letters to everyone who had ever worked at the Underground) that when she died, since she had worked there for so long, they'd have her and her cats stuffed and placed on the mantle by the piano. Then she'd cry. But they were best friends so it's okay. That scene happened every Friday night. Rebecca and I would always get Keith to cook us up something: french toast, prime rib, etc. . . Keith was a really good cook, too and I've never eaten so well in my life!

Bombay Company: I sold overpriced, cheap fancy-looking furniture, but mostly I talked to the other employees because it was another "dusting" job. In a two years we had three different gay managers, all of whom were really funny and hated their job but LOVED "Pretzel Time" (what time is it?)! There was one exciting day: I was interviewed by company headquarters because apparently there'd be "a call" about someone stealing some stuff. Then the next day we had a new manager! I still, to this day, don't know who it was.

Sears and Western Watts: Both involved calling people, but not selling anything. Both were really boring, and I told them so.

Spanish Fork Middle School: 6th and 7th Grade: I will go to heaven just for having this job. Seriously, the deal's been made. I remember when I thought I was really getting to them--I mean, we were really having a deep discussion. I was really going somewhere and I thought they were with me, I remember saying, "Have you ever heard the expression 'the pen is mightier than the sword?' " and Thomas, who had a problem, physically, sitting still immediately raised his hand excitedly and said, "Oh yeah! I totally know what you mean!" I smiled, (this was what I knew teaching was all about--I had FINALLY gotten through to them) he continued, "That's totally true! 'Cause this one time, when that guy got out his pen, there was poison in it and then he stuck it in that other guy. . . " hmmm. .. where are we going with this. . . "and then it had a bomb in it and he TOTALLY killed him with the pen. It's so much better than a sword." Oh yeah. It occurs to me he's talking about a scene from "Mission Impossible", and that pretty much sums up that experience/job. That, or the time we were reading "The Devil's Arithmetic" and talking about the Holocaust and a student raises his hand in the middle of our discussion and asks where "the name bagel comes from?"

Springville High School: 10th and 11th Grade: see above description, but remove "students who can't physically keep to themselves," and add "can't physically look anything but bored."

Voice Overs: Ellis, Commercials, Peak Productions, BrainGarden, JuniorsGiants. What could be better than talking into a microphone and getting paid for it? It's the best gig ever, but I'm always afraid someone will find out it's not that hard and do it themself. But I could really use the money, so mum's the word.

Acting: Garrens Improv Comedy, which doesn't really count because I got paid, like fifty cents a show, and it was fun. But I did get paid for some away shows, so I'm totally going to count it. Don't let me deceive you, I don't consider myself "an actress." I usually get calls for audtions because they're calling Topher in and, well, I answer the phone. And how awkward is that? They kind of have to ask me then. I have done some Commercials, and I think I've always been "the mom," so does it really count as acting? If you're Cox cable and you're wondering if you should send the check, the answer's "yes." "Stalking Santa"--I'm "the pregnant mom" in that (really stretching it) and Topher's "wife," so as you can tell, I'm really choosing roles that will challenge me as an artist.

BYU Independent Study: Science Fiction Class: I wrote the original online class when Miles was a baby, and I'm revising it now. It seemed like a good idea at the time, then came the birth of child #4 and strep throat and a disk drive that won't work and now I'm wondering if it's worth all the work. Oh, you'll pay me three dollars? Yeah, it's worth it.

Thanks for reading my blog about pens. (I'm trying to wrap this up all nicely, is it working?) As you can see, I used a pen in ALL OF MY JOBS, so you can see how important they are to me. And lipstick. I've needed lipstick in every single one. Now you know what to get me for Christmas.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Our Lamanite Friends

For the last week I've been in a strep-throat "special place" coma, coming in and out of rational thought. I like to think it's something like a peyote-induced hero's journey, where I've learned something significant about life and the journey of eternity. I know nothing of the peyote, which will surprise noone, but I once took a Native American literature class that I quite enjoyed, and we read a lot of books, although the only thing I clearly remember was that Star Wars is a classic example of the Native American hero's journey. That bit of information both impressed me (wow, we're we really are all connected. . .) and disappointed me (you mean it wasn't an entirely original. . . story. . .? George. . . ?) That, and we got to give ourselves our grade at the end of the semester. That was particularly difficult for an overachiever with serious issues with guilt. But that's a topic for another day. And one more important detail: my teacher had a white, round non-Native American face and wore plenty of turqouis and blue eye shadow. Come to think of it, I had TWO English professors who fit that description. . .

So you can see that I'm an expert in all things Native American.

I'd like to share my relationship with my neighbors who are, technically Native CANADIANS, not Americans, but have lived in Provo for almost 3 generations. They have different "teens" from their tribe come and stay with them to go to school in America, and they have "a band" which consists of several different kinds of drums and chanting. I know that some could accuse me of being overly dramatic to emphasize comedic elements in my life (Tina), but I want to assure you that the following are true, accurate accounts of the facts. I will try to dress them down in the dullest flesh-toned twin set I can find. Keep in mind that Topher and I have had face-to-face conversations with our neighbors on several occassions. Whenever we see them we say Hi and wave, and that their youngest children have been inside our home several, several times to play. These are most of my encounters with my next door neighbors, Ralph and Yvonne.

1. When we went to look at the house that we now live in, Ralph (older Native Canadian with long dark hair pulled back, stern expression on his face) came up to us, we said hello, introduced ourselves and said we were considering buying the place. His only response: "You guys aren't from California, are you?" I replied no, and he walked off. scene.

2. A few weeks after we moved in, I introduced myself to Yvonne, and asked "So, how are you?" she replied,"Yeah, so we need all sorts of stuff--anything you want to give--like laundry soap, dish soap, and soap."

3. Ralph goes on long walks down the middle of the road and when you say hi, he pretends not to hear, even if you say it really loudly (Topher has experimented on many different levels of volume).

4. Ralph came over to borrow some laundry detergent. When I returned with it he looked inside the cup and said, "liquid?" and walked off. This has actually happened twice.

5. Ralph came over at 10:30 pm in the pouring rain to borrow an umbrella.

6. Ralph came over to borrow a red pen in the middle of the day. I gave it to him, he crossed something off on a list he had in his hand and handed me back the pen. I told him to keep it.

7. One day Topher came home, got out of his car and tried to make small talk (yet again), he said, "Looks like you're moving someone out! Who's moving?" Ralph looked and stared at him, Topher repeated, Ralph stared, Then, after some time Ralph said, "You live there?" pointing to our house. "Yeah.. ." Topher replied and Ralph said,"Oh. .. I thought some young guy lived there." then turned around and walked inside his house. We had lived in the neighborhood for a year and a half. (That was the day Topher double-clapped Ralph.)

8. Ralph came to borrow the phone (one of 12 times) and turned back as he was leaving (wha-wha-wha-what? I thought) and said, "Your husband. . . is he into computers?" I told him, no and explained in two sentences what he "does," and he ended with, ". .. He's kinda . . . an . . . eccentric guy, isn't he?" I laughed and he walked off. (Christopher, upon hearing the story, yelled, "Since when is RALPH the barometer of eccentricity?!!?!?!")

9. For no "reason," Ralph came over and had some how found out my brother's band "did well," and told me his band was cutting a CD, too. I wished him well. (We actually don't mind hearing the drums. It's no so loud and it's got a good rhythm to it.) It occurs to me on this occassion that he always calls me, "neighbor," when I call him by his first name. He has no idea what my name is. Christopher considers going up to their front door and offering them one million dollars if they can name one of us, or one of our kids.

10. Yvonne has just started coming to our ward, and is incharge of Primary birthdays. Last Sunday she looked around and said, "Who's Bro. Clark?" I laughed out loud and told her he was gone. We've been next door neighbors for two years now.

I guess I'll end on #10 because it seems appropriate. They are actually good neighbors, all things considered. Right? You don't have to be best friends with everyone in your neighborhood, right? I don't have anymore clarity thanks to night after night of 10 hours of sleep, but I'm still on my meds so I suppose there's still time to have a vision of clarity to make sense of all this.