Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THIS IS A REPEAT AFTER ME SONG!...and other ditties.


Once again, I've been hijacked by life. For a good two weeks.

I showed up to a former place of employment a few weeks ago, just to drop by and say hi to the two best bosses I've ever had. They asked me if I would be available to work for a few weeks? What else could I possibly say, but yes?

This "place of employment" is a Summer day-camp in the canyons of Irvine. It's the most simultaneously fun and exhausting places I've ever worked, not to mention the most rewarding. I was a Drama Specialist there for three years (which means I created and/or taught theatre games for children ranging in age from 4-13) ... and suddenly, for two weeks, they made me a counselor. WHAT??

The great thing about being a specialist (as I took for granted so many years ago), is that one gets to stay in one place, and sees all manner of children every day - diversity, if you will. And each class only lasts for about 40 minutes (30, if the group is coming from the other side of camp). I never got the opportunity to hate any children, because I didn't have time. And if I made drama fun enough, they'd all participate and be great for me. I could love them all, and not know that they were crazy cracked-out children who wouldn't leave the porta-potties alone, and ran around trying to lift all manner of things, from children to counselors.

Yeah ... I totally had that kid two weeks ago.

Now, my best friend Tracy wrote a blog post about birth control on her blog last week. And while her story has the gross factor, I'll say that my method has the longevity factor:

If you ever think about having children, but aren't sure ... go work at a summer camp.

I'm serious. You'll have every walking age. You'll see their development, their trials, the challenges involved with each age group. Because here's the thing ... raising a child NEVER STOPS. And as soon as they can walk, there's NO easy age. But if you can deal with them every day, their little quirks, their complaints, hiking with them in 100 degree weather, celebrate their little victories (you'll know when they happen), and be there to draw the hard line when they fail (which happens all the time, and is crazy hard!), then you can be a parent.

The other thing I'll say about camp is that it's family. You can leave for 5 years, come back, and be welcomed just as warmly as you were the day you were hired. You know ... provided no children died because of your care (or lack thereof), or you said something ridiculously inappropriate to a camper, or you let the kid light his own farts. Although, things go wrong all the time. Usually at the end of the day, the epitaph is: "Well at least no children died!" True story.

Anyway, it was an awesome two weeks, which included everything from trying to get caught up on the new camp fads (songs, dances, silly bandz, etc.), to me having to ice down my lower body at the end of the night, and suddenly realizing that I'm not 20 anymore. Because after my 10 hour camp day, I'd have to go to rehearsal ... and play Lear's Fool until 11:00 p.m. And then get back up and do it all again the next day. Oi! Needless to say, that's much of the reason I've been missing in action. Now it's on to finishing tech week, and opening the show! YIKES!

Here's a by-the-numbers look at camp:

Total number of campers: 30
Times that I had to eat gummy worms in tapioca pudding as fast as I could for a contest: 1
Times splashed with a water balloon: 2
Hours spent at Wild Rivers: 24
Sunburns acquired: 3
Approximate number of acres walked: 200
Times in which I fell down for no apparent reason, other than my own talent at gravity: 2
Number of times I had to take children to First Aid: 7
Number of times I had to take myself to First Aid: 1
Songs I made up: 3
Songs that worked: 1
Number of silly bandz acquired: 7
Number of swear words uttered by children, caught by me: 8
Number of swear words uttered by me, caught by children: 1
Times I woke up before the sun: 8
Times I ran to Target for camp supplies and/or costume pieces after 10:00 p.m.: 3
Approximate cups of coffee consumed: 22
New facebook friends made: 15-20
Children who drove me crazy: 2
Children whom I loved: 30
Bought and depleted bottles of sunscreen: 1
Number of children who asked about the origins of my camp name: 50+
Number of counselors who knew my name before I got to camp: 10
Percentage of happiness: 1000%

In other news ... I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. If you haven't read it, start. If you haven't finished it, hurry up! I finished book 3 last night, and sobbed through the last 20 or so pages. Seriously. READ THEM NOW.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm in the wrong line of business...or, The Great Sock Monkey Massacre of '10


So here's something that no one (read: me) thinks about when they buy dogs:


I suddenly understand the necessity for traditional female rituals like baby showers. One NEEDS a baby shower in order to afford accessories for said baby! So *why* aren't there puppy showers, I'd like to know?? Perhaps because the great thing about dogs (or, at least my dogs) is that all it takes is a tennis ball or a frisbee to keep them happy and entertained, and they don't (usually) require clothes. If only I could remember that.

Question: Besides the price of food and vet bills, what other expense could a dog require???

Answer:  When owned by me, a whole lot more!

Why? In three words: Pet Accessory Marketing.

Last Sunday, I went to PetCo. I LOVE going to PetCo. I don't know why ... I can't explain it. There's just something about the prospect of buying something new for my dogs that they'll love - like cracking their personality codes with toys. And it's that pet-lover mentality that PetCo, PetSmart, and any other pet manufacturer in the world banks on. Literally. According to Donald Trump (via an episode of The Apprentice), the pet accessory industry is a multi-million dollar profit making machine. They target fools like me with promises of cuteness, jack up the prices, and voila! The money-giving automaton is complete!

Evidence A: Sock Monkey Stuffed Animal, aka Hagrid's baby

I know, I'm a sucker for a good sock monkey. I'd been eyeing this particular toy for almost two months ... since I took Hagrid home, really. Do you want to take a guess at what this relatively little toy cost? Anyone?

$11.95. Yep ... you read that correctly. $11.95. But it's worth it, right? It's worth it to give your good, loyal, happy, ever-lovin' furry companion something that makes him happy, right??

Evidence B: 5 minutes after the gifting of the sock monkey

Evidence C: Miscellaneous images of the massacre

The Perpetrators:*

For SHAME!!!

In case you've ever wanted to see $11.95 burn faster than a sheet of paper dowsed in kerosene, go buy the above sock monkey at your local pet store, and then give it to your dog. There is no greater, more humbling experience than seeing $11.95 being gnawed on before your very eyes. The small clumps of cotton stuffing you saw in the photos above, I'm estimating at $0.50 each.

* Shameless excuse to post pictures of the puppies...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Linguistics are SO gay...


I'm a bit of a word junkie. My career is all about words - the connection, the physicality, the movement, the meaning, the biology - and how to use them. My dad said, "He's a cowboy and a braggadocio!" last night, in reference to the guy at Office Depot attempting to fix my sister's insanely sick computer. I probably spent at least 20 minutes trying to think of circumstances and perfect moments in which to say "braggadocio!" This is my idea of fun.

Anyway, in case you're living in a cave at the bottom of Loch Ness, and didn't read about it *everywhere* - California has re-opened the door for gay marriage. Hooray! And while everyone's (like my glittering generalizations?) talking about the legal, political, and religious ramifications, what we're not talking about - are words.

A few years ago, the word "marriage" was all anyone could talk about. The (mostly) Conservative standpoint being that "unions" or "partnerships" were okay for homosexual couples, but not "marriage." Marriage, just as a word, it was argued, is sacred to the joining of one man and one woman. Fun Fact: The history of marriages covers all manner of business deals, including swapping a (virgin) woman for chattel, land, money, birthright, etc. etc. That doesn't sound holy and sacred to me. That sounds like a bargaining agreement.

But there's an issue, says the Left, with "Domestic Partnership" and "Civil Unions." Now we're going back to different drinking fountains and bathrooms - the separate-but-equal lie. This is one of my favorite videos dealing with this issue:

"I want to commitment ceremony you..." Kind of says it all, no?

The pro-Prop 8 people and their likes have been denying words to the GLBT community as a way to keep us separate ... different ... remaining in the "other" category, because if we're something "other," then we're not like everyone else - "human," or "normal."  And what about other touchy words? "Wife, husband, mother, step-mother, father, step-father" - words for family? How do they fit in?

My uncle sent me this wonderful letter that addresses this question. This is why the words matter. This is why the myth of separate-but-equal won't cut it as we move forward, and why it's *never* going to cut it for any minority. When Liz and I get married, I will have a wife. I will have a sister and brother-in-law, I will have a mother and father-in-law. And she'll have that too (and more, because I have a pretty big clan). And we'll be family. Words have power.

From the Daily Dish article by Andrew Sullivan:

A reader writes:

I found this piece of yours very moving, and I want to add to the conversation on gay marriage my perspective as a child raised by a gay couple (a "homogenate" as I call us, for short) in the U.S. in the 1980s.
If I had been born in the '90s or the '00s in the right state instead of the '80s, perhaps my biological mother and her lover, Mollie, could have had a civil union. That would have made their relationship simpler from a legal standpoint, for sure. But still, what would I have told my friends who came over after school and asked innocently: "Why does that woman live with you?"
Would I have felt better telling them that she is my mom's "domestic partners" instead of the usual routine: blushing, averting my eyes and blurting out "She's my mom's friend" or "Uhh ... she just lives with us" before frantically changing the topic.
Even if I was a pedantic 9-year-old willing to explain to my friends what a civil union is and how it is the legal equivalent to the (first or second) marriage of my friends' parents, that still doesn't address the fundamental problem in my opinion: Mollie could be my mom's friend, my mom's domestic partner, my mom's lover -- but she could never be myanything. She could never be my stepmother.
Family names are generic things -- mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and all their step-incarnations. It is the possessive that creates intimacy and a sense of family. And while our family would have had the same strains as any step-family even in the best of circumstances, I have no doubt that she and I would be closer today if I had grown up calling her and thinking of her as "mine" in some sense -- even when I was angry with her, or I missed my father, or, yes, when I wished that she was just gone and my family was normal.
Let me add something that I experienced as well. My in-laws have always been supportive and loving and tolerant. They accepted me at Christmas and other occasions and were glad their son had found a partner. But it was not until we told them that we were "engaged" that something suddenly clicked. They finally had a way to understand us and our love because they had the linguistic architecture to make sense of it. I was going to be their son-in-law! With those words. I became family - not Aaron's friend, or roommate or boyfriend or lover or what-have-you. But his husband. And thereby their family as well.
There was and is something about these words - engaged, married, husband - even though they may contain a mountain of different experiences, that made us a family. I think conservatives should favor the unification and mutual love and support of families. And that means they must by definition favor the mutual love and support of the gay people in them.
This is not about creating something new. It is about making a home for people who have been here all the time for centuries. It is about making the human family whole.
"It is about making the human family whole." 

Why would anyone want to stop that??

Friday, August 6, 2010

So a Fool and a Mantracker walk into a bar in Calgary ....


So that was a long two-week hiatus! Goodness gracious. Does anyone else find it highly ironic that the very day I fly back from Canada, California over-turned prop. 8??? 

Firstly, let me tell you that I'm alright. That last post probably wasn't the best to leave you all with, but I needed to get out and get away. And I did. And I feel much better. Thank you to those who left comments of concern. You don't know what they mean to me. I wish I could get into specifics, but I can't. 

So all crypticness aside, Canada was great. I went to the Calgary Folk Festival with my monkey (the tickets were a birthday present from her ... awwwwwww), drank a lot of really good beer (and a few less so), ate a lot of really good food (and some not so much), saw some of my favorite people in the world (and a few who are not at all), worked on memorizing my lines, missed my dog way too much, and watched lots and lots of episodes of MANTRACKER .... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm .... (yeah, this is totally a real thing)

I'm contemplating the creation of a music-only blog called "Trombone Rock n' Roll" ... with guest bloggers. I figure that I write enough about music as a topic of interest to sustain this crazy thing. No, it won't be about music featuring trombones ... I just thought the title might be paradoxical enough to get me some nerd points. And it just so happens that most of the cool (read:nerdy) music lovers I know, like me, at some point in their life, played the trombone. True story! Anyway, it's a work in progress. If you can think of anything better, give me a shout. 

Finally, I begin rehearsals for King Lear next week. And I'm scared out of my ever-lovin' mind. 

Let the insanity begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!