Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Past Life Thing

When I was, I dunno, let's say 4 years old, I walked into the kitchen and saw my mother washing drinking glasses and setting them upside down on a towel to dry. My response to this?
"When I was your grandmother, I told you not to do that."
And then I walked away.

At the time, my mother had one living grandmother (called Big Grandma because my oldest cousin couldn't say "great", which is awesome because she was a wee tiny lady), and one deceased one. Who had told her not to do that. I guess because the glasses fog up or something.

A few days or weeks later, we were at my grandparents' house and my mother told her father (the son of the deceased grandmother) that she had something to show him. Then she washed some glasses, put them upside down on a towel and I came along and said the same exact thing.

My extremely Catholic grandfather's reaction?
"There are things in Heaven and Earth that we're not meant to understand."
And that was that. My mother has since has no doubt that I used to be her grandmother and has even come to find it not freaky or terrifying at all.

You know what is freaky?

My cousin/godson was once driving around the neighborhood with his parents, spotted a house and said, "I remember when we used to live there." He had never stepped foot in that house. To this day, he has lived in only one house. The house he pointed out is the one where our grandfather and his 3 brothers used to live. With their mom, who I used to be.

I keep thinking I'll do some sort of writing project inspired by all this. Nothing as ambitious as The Years of Rice and Salt (which is a great book that you should totally read), but something.

And for the record, I do sometimes wash glasses and put them upside down on a towel to dry. So apparently, people can change. Even if it takes a reincarnation or two.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Oh, Dear Lord!

This past Saturday was my family's annual September Birthdays Bash. Ostensibly, this event is to celebrate the 5 September birthdays in my extended family, but really it's an excuse for Aunt Bea and Uncle Brian to make a big turkey dinner and for the rest of us to stuff ourselves with stuffing and consume an unholy amount of gravy.

All without the sucktasticness of Thanksgiving, so it may actually be the happiest day of the year.

Before dinner, we were looking at photos of my grandparents' and great-grandparents generation. One great-grandfather was a rum-runner during Prohibition who had his boat shot out from under him by the police during a rum run, and played piano for Jimmy Durante. As is the case with interested ancestors, I gather he was a bit of a jerk. In fact, in my past life, I divorced his sorry ass and became a single mother to 3 sons in the 1930s rather than stay married to him.

More on that later this week, because I have something even more interesting to share.

After the pictures, my mother sorted through a plastic bag of greeting cards my grandmother had saved. Some went back to the 1950s. Some may have been earlier, but it's the ones from 50s that you will not believe.

Allow me to remind you that this branch of my family tree is Catholic. My grandfather was so into it that during one blizzard, he walked to church and helped the priest say mass since no one else showed up, but it was Sunday and these things had to be done. At one point, there was also a nun (possibly also the school principal) who would call the house, say "Tom, I'll be at JFK at 4" and hang up and he'd drop everything and pick her up at the airport.

This history makes it unsurprising that there were greeting cards with wording similar to this:
Father, I am giving you this Blessing, including:
___ Masses
___ Prayers
___ Rosaries
___ Ejaculations

You read that last one right.

As you can imagine, there were many jokes along the lines of "no wonder this is such a big family." has the real definition (mini-prayers) and examples. I'm a little sad that I looked that up. I thought it was more borderline taking the Lord's name in vain or maybe church lady Hallelujahs.

The blanks above were so the kid in question could write a number. A couple of the cards had 5 of everything, but one had 10 and I have to wonder what my Uncle Richie had gotten up to that made him feel it was necessary to double down on the ejaculations.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Book collectionI love fiction, but rarely tear through a book. Years of reading on the subway while commuting to work has affected my brain, training me to read in 45-60 minutes bursts. When I get to read at home, I often find myself deciding that I've had enough and need to go do something else. I'll even have to renew library books that I haven't started yet (after 3 weeks).

Once I had to return a book that I hadn’t begun reading because it was new and had a waiting list (no renewals allowed). I got the book about a month later and loved it, btw. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella. Even if you want to pop Shopaholic in the face, you'll enjoy Twenties Girl. Or at least that's where I stand on things. I've enjoyed all her non-shopaholic books, including those written under her real name (Madeleine Wickham).

(I know quite a few people who can't stand Shopaholic, including some people who probably blow all their money at restaurants and bars instead of clothes, so y'know, we're all big, fat hypocrites. Just think how boring the world would be if we all had our heads on straight. I don't loathe Shopaholic, but I do want to smack her. Because I possess self control and am still fat (because self control isn't the only factor in weight), yet I spent years listening to co-workers about half my width going on and on about how they'd weigh a ton if they had those chocolate truffles in their house. Because a box of 20 chocolate truffles are going to turn you into a complete lardass. Eat them, or don't and shut the fuck up about it. I brought in a box of truffles from The Chocolate Show to be nice, so stop acting like I've wounded you in some way.)

(You do get the connection there, right?)

Anyhoodle, I recently got What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty from the library and knew I'd need to actually read the thing in 3 weeks to get it back on time. I think it ended up taking me 3 days. Maybe 4. Because the whole "I've had enough for now" thing didn't happen.

You see, Alice wakes up after falling and hitting her head, convinced that she's 29 and pregnant with her 1st child. In fact, she's 39, has 3 kids and is getting a divorce. Which freaked me the fuck out because loving your husband while everyone (including him) tells you that you hate him is just terrifying. Her ex-to-be even bets her money that she'll go back to wanting a divorce as soon as she gets her memory back. And of course she doesn't get her memory back until the end and I just had to find out what would happen then.

Excellent read.

What have you read lately that you couldn't get enough of?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Let's be Random, Shall We?

I wish I could google things like "where the hell did I put the pencil sharpener?"

The other night, I dreamed I was in France and my attempts to speak French actually woke me up.

This makes me feel like I should finally get proficient in French. I only lived there, for fuck's sake.

Because I'm not busy enough. Apparently.

Remember the old "You must pay the rent" bit from, I want to say Electric Company, so let's go with that, though it could've been Ville Allegre? What kills me about that bit (which I repeat on the first of every month), and what most people forget is that they started the sketch by saying that you can make up games with just one prop and your imagination. The whole point was to teach kids to make up their own games. The actual result was teaching kids to recite the "You must pay the rent" bit verbatim, proving that we of Generation X will not do what we're told.

The original sketch doesn't seem to be on You Tube. But you know what is? Dozens of videos of people re-enacting the bit.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Fall TV Season Approacheth

This past week, I've been even more psyched than usual to read the latest Entertainment Weekly (aka EW, pronounced "E.W." by some and "ew" by me). They have a big fall TV preview issue, complete with a list of the shows sorted by premiere date. I've even gone so far as to circle all the shows I want to check out on that list, so I can set the Tivo accordingly.

But I'm not equally interested in every new or returning series. I've realized that there are several categories of TV show.
  • Returning, and I'll definitely be watching the whole season.
  • New, and I may stop watching after a few episodes/when it's cancelled after a few episodes.
  • New, and maybe I'll make it through the first episode without throwing anything at the television set.
  • New, and I hope it doesn't suck, but I'm not holding my breath.
  • New, and please don't let it suck.
  • New or Returning and I don't care. I don't care how good it is, you can't make me watch another crime drama/police procedural/soap/reality show.
I won't name specific shows, since it's all subjective and I don't expect you to share my tastes. (Though if you're not watching Fringe, I just don't know you anymore. Just don't watch it while eating. Just trust me on this.) And it's enough work to read the issue and circle all the show names for eventual DVRing. I'm not going to categorize each and every show because that would be almost as boring for you as it would be for me.

What are you looking forward to watching?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Migraine Movie Marathon

I spent my Labor Day Weekend in pain, so I got better acquainted with the couch and watched many movies. Some pretty high falutin' flicks in the mix because we have IFC now. Release the mini-reviews!

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly--A very slow moving film by necessity--it's about a guy with locked-in syndrome. How fast can it go? Perfect pacing for when you're laid up yourself.

The Last King of Scotland--Gee that movie got brutally violent at the end. I actually covered my eyes with both hands. And I saw some pretty disgusting stuff when I was a volunteer EMT. But damn, Idi Amin was fucked up. Like Frank Miller fucked up. (I saw Sin City a couple of weeks ago and I'm still suffering flashbacks. I think the mind of Frank Miller is a very scary place and we're all lucky he channelled all that fucked-upness into comic books rather than enacting any of the horrific acts of violence he makes up. He may be a delightful and well adjusted individual in real life, but I don't think I'll be getting close enough to him to find out.)

The Canterville Ghost, 1990s Patrick Stewart/Neve Campbell incarnation. We watched this as a follow up to the WW2-era version, which was much better, even though it included jaunty American GIs teaching the locals how to swing dance. Because only Americans really know how to party. Or something.

The Namesake. Man, I could go for some samosas. This film had as many close-ups of food as Julie & Julia. Probably would've enjoyed it more if I'd watched it straight through instead of stopping to watch something else with HA several times. There are some huge jumps in time between some scenes. I suspect the book is less disorienting.

The Sweet Smell of Success. Sounds like a jaunty showbiz romp, right? Not so much. More like the Acrid Stench of Failure and Unhappiness. Also, I can't look at vintage Tony Curtis without picturing him in drag. Also, also, they didn't care too much about cigarette continuity--at one point, Burt Lancaster took out a cigarette and lit it, and I was like "you were less than halfway through a cigarette 5 seconds ago. What did you do with that one? Are you just wasting cigarettes to show off?"

The Searchers. Good movie. Whole lotta racism. Yes, the movie is supposed to make us think about racism and conclude that it's wrong, but damn, when you've already reached that conclusion, it's hard not to dismiss certain characters as assholes.

So what did you did with your Labor Day weekend?