Why Act My Age?

Later this year I turn (gulp) 40.  And with this big birthday around the corner, I began thinking that maybe I should start acting my age.

Because here is the thing:  I don’t act my age.  I just don’t.  Mostly because I don’t know how an almost 40-year-old is supposed to act.  Is there a textbook on this or something I can download on my Kindle to explain how to act my age?  No?  Really, no?  Hmmm.  I didn’t think so.

Which brings me to my question, do I really need to act my age?

These are some things I am pondering.  So should an almost 40-year-old:

  • Skip or dance down the hallway if no one is around?
  • Enjoy a trip to Toys-R-Us as much as my dudes do?
  • Sing loudly and poorly and not be embarrassed even in the grocery store?
  • Say words like “cool,” “sweet” and “cute” frequently?
  • Sport a pony tail frequently?
  • Be mesmerized by glittery things (oooh, pretty!)?
  • Chew gum and blow bubbles?
  • Making up crazy car dances when certain songs come on like Train’s Drive By or Madonna’s Borderline?
  • Use hand gestures that resemble those of a 13-year-old drama queen?
  • Cry when people are mean to animals in movies?
  • Laugh really loud and not care who hears me (Valleygirl96 aka Brainvomit40 knows my laugh travels miles)?
  • Go to the midnight showings of all of the Twilight movies and the final two Harry Potter films (and consider dressing up for the latter)?
  • Giggle when the word fart or poop is mentioned?
  • Jump up and down when I am happy or excited about something?
  • Sneak Halloween candy from my dudes?
  • Take super silly pictures of random things on my iPhone (wanna see my picture of the rock that cracked my windshield)?
  • Screen calls from assorted people (sorry, Mom!)?
  • Take almost daily naps after school (thanks to The Captain this can happen!)?
  • Continue my text conversation with my brother that contains newly created words like poopalicious, poopapalooza and poopsicle?
  • Randomly speak in different accents (my Southern and New Jersey ones are best!)?
  • Give silly nicknames to everyone (Sorry again, Crazy Pat, I mean Mom!)?

I guess my final question is what is age appropriate? And who would be the role models of success to tell me and demonstrate the proper age I need to adjust to?  Because if I don’t have any idea, then I am just going to keep doing what I’m doing.  Like speaking in a Yoda voice and saying, “May the Fourth Be With You.”  Because, after all, Star Wars rocks, it is May 4th and I am a kid at heart.

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Spider-Man, Superheroes and Me

I love superheroes and I love superhero movies.  I get excited about the new ones ready to grace the silver screen.

Apparently, this is strange for an almost 40 year old woman to clap and cheer in a movie theater when a trailer for The Avengers comes on. According to The Captain, it is very embarrassing for an almost 40-year-old woman to react “strongly” at a clip of a superhero movie.  Cranky Captain.

Basically, The Captain thinks my love of superheroes is somewhat strange.

Underwear that was fun to wear. Photo from Wikipedia.org

I blame my brother.  He had the coolest superhero stuff when we were kids.  He had tons of action figures.  He had a red cape that was as majestic to me as a holiday Barbie.  He had it all.  He also had these super cool Underoos with various comic book characters on them.  There was a Batman pair, a Robin pair, a Superman pair, and, of course, a Spider-Man pair.  The girl’s Underoos basically stunk.  They only had flowers or butterflies on them or, sometimes, the elusive Wonder Woman pair would be found at Target or Venture and my mom would pick those up for me.  But sadly, there were barely any other superhero ones for girls.  Later I found that the makers of Underoos realized there was, in fact, a solid girl’s market and began making Supergirl, Princess Leia, and even Batgirl ones.  Wish I had those… Bummer.

Here he is. Photo credit: film.com

I blame my mom.  My mom, Crazy Pat, took us to all of the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve.  I was riveted.  I would sit there, barely even touching my popcorn, as I watched the man in red and blue save the day.  I may have even teared up when Superman was thrown into the Coke sign in Times Square.  I was so thankful when he got himself out of that mess.

I blame Batman.  In high school, I was the best girl to take to the movies.  I was more than willing to sit through all of the Batman movies (Val Kilmer, if you are out there in blog land, you were and always will be my favorite Batman).

I blame Marvel Comics.  They created the Amazing Spider-Man, which happen to be my favorite of all the supers.  It could happen, right?  It could be marginally possible, right?  A regular dude could be bitten by a radioactive spider and develop super powers could be, right?  Well, maybe not, but that may be a small reason why love the Spider-Man movies.  The other reason?  Tobey Maguire makes a very convincing Spidey.  And when the Spider-Man movies are on TV, even though I own them all, I am drawn to them like a fly to a web.

Spidey himself. Photo credit: wikipedia.org

So, I anxiously await The Avengers movie.  I am on the edge of my seat about the new Spider-Man film.  And I think I may owe Stan Lee a high five because he is a cool dude.  If only they had some Spider-Man Underoos for me, I would be all set.

Oh, and to The Captain, can I get a “woot woot” and a “hooray” and even a “yee haw” for the new movies?  No?  Oh well.  I will have to send Spider-Man to deal with you.  (Maniacal laugh goes here!)

Memphis the Musical

The Captain and I like going to see musicals.  Unfortunately, we are almost eight hours from the lights of Broadway, so we have to take what we can get in good ol’ Ohio.  Last year, we decided to buy season tickets to the Broadway series at the Cleveland Playhouse and it was one of the best entertainment decisions we have ever made.

The most recent performance was the musical Memphis.  I really didn’t know what to expect besides it being the 2010 Tony Award winner for Best Musical (which pretty much was all I needed to know).

It was – hands down – one of the best musicals I have seen. Ever.  Now, I have to admit, I really like rock and roll. In fact, I think most of America/England/Canada/basically most of the world digs rock and roll.  Earlier this season, we saw Million Dollar Quartet and I felt like I was watching Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis live in concert.  It was breathtaking.  Memphis was breathtaking as well, but for different reasons.

One of the biggest movies of 2011 was The Help based on the book by Kathryn Stockett.  Sometimes taking a risk and exposing some of the less-than-stellar aspects of our history, as Kathryn Stockett did, is a good thing. Memphis, too, took this risk.  It spoke of an uglier time in American history – one of racism, bigotry and extreme prejudice.  Memphis focused on the music scene where radio was dominated by the extremely caucasion Perry Como’s of the world, and radio stations, just like schools, drinking fountains and seats on the bus, were completely segregated.

The story begins with an aspiring white DJ, who appreciated good music, stating it is “The Music of My Soul,” begins to break through the barrier and integrate black music (which was referred to as “race music” in the musical – I was shocked to learn this was a common term in the 50s) into the mainstream.  Think Hairspray but with even more of a statement.          The musical also delved into a love story involving an interracial couple – the lead DJ and the amazing singer he fell for.  This very sweet relationship, happening during such a perilous time, sadly caused both of them much heartache.  Until the mid 70s, there were laws throughout the Southern states banning interracial marriages.  For this couple, the choice became clear: stay in the South and hide the relationship or move to NYC and be together.

Parts of the musical were heartbreaking.  It is sometimes difficult to be reminded of the racism: it’s bitter nastiness and extreme hatred.  Parts of the musical were uplifting.  The progression of how this DJ motivated a great change in society.  Parts of the musical were dynamic.  The singing and dancing were truly outstanding.  This is an excellent musical to see.

Oh, and, we’ve come a long way since the 1950s.  Thank goodness.  I hope we, as a nation, can keep moving forward.

Great musical - get tickets!

If the Broadway tour of Memphis stops in a town nearby, get tickets.  Don’t hesitate for a moment.  It is worth it.  “Memphis Lives in Me.”

Life is Laughter and Rediscovering Erma Bombeck

My mom, Crazy Pat, has always really been into the Erma Bombeck books. She would buy the hardbacks, read them cover to cover, and then let me read them.  The two I most vividly remember are Family – The Ties That Bind…And Gag! and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?  It was 1987, and both of these books were keepers.

In 1987, I was 15.  It was a strange year.  I was a sophomore in high school in New Jersey. I had frizzy hair, the wrong clothes, braces and even a bionator – which is orthodontist speak for torture device – see my post on Teen Gooberville.  I worked at a doughnut shop in the mall where I had to wear a t-shirt that said “A Hole Like No Other.”  I. am. not. kidding.  (This shirt will have to be a topic for an entire other post).  😉

Every evening, no matter what, my mom could be found snuggled in on the sofa (or couch – whatever you want to call it depending on the region where you reside) reading Erma and laughing hysterically.  I had to read that book!

Looking back, after getting married, having children and dealing with progressive-like family dinners during any holiday, I decided that I needed to look at these books again, with a new perspective.

Here are some things I have rediscovered through Erma (all of her famous quips are in quotes):

Don’t deny yourself the little things.  “Just think of all those women on the Titanic who said, ‘No thank you’ to desert that night. And for what?!”

There are no instruction manuals on how to being a good parent.  “When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911. ”

Pets are important members of a family.  “Despite all the demands pets put on you, in the pecking order of a family, they are right near the top.” and “A dog will sit with you through the worst television show…and never once will he try to change the channel.”

Life may hand you lemons, and that is just life.  “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

A clean house is for the birds.  “Housework can kill you if done right.” and “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.” and “Housework, if it is done properly, can cause brain damage.”

Be a good listener.  “I love my mother for all the times she said absolutely nothing…Thinking back on it all, it must have been the most difficult part of mothering she ever had to do: knowing the outcome, yet feeling she had no right to keep me from charting my own path. I thank her for all her virtues, but mostly for never once having said, “I told you so.”

Having children can make one feel like a crazy psycho at times.  “Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids.”

Family is important.  “Families aren’t easy to join. They’re like an exclusive country club where membership makes impossible demands and the dues for an outsider are exorbitant.”

Justifying my kitchen prowess (or not so much of one).  “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes.”

Recycle, reduce, reuse.  “I found a letter to my sister the other day that I had forgotten to mail. It just needed a little updating to send. After “The baby is…..” I crossed out “toilet trained” and wrote in “graduating from high school this month.”

Laughter is highly important.  “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” and “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”  Amen, sister.

I wonder what Erma would think of blogging today.  Would she thoroughly enjoy the sharing of silly stories, life lessons and bittersweet sentiments?  Would she laugh at my doughnut shop uniform?  I think she would be pleased with this paradise of connecting through technology.  Thanks, Erma, for being the first to really write with flair, laughter and humbleness.  Glad I rediscovered you.

The original Crazy Pat hardbacks circa 1985 and 1987.

An Exercise in Patience

I am the resident techie in our home.  I am the one who does all things like set the time on the DVD player to updating all of the computers.  I am the girl who makes sure that our stuff works — and texts/emails my handy-dandy, amazing tech guy at school if it doesn’t.  Word has spread about me throughout my family.  Now, I must say that my brother is the real tech guru in our family.  He is a genuine computer science engineer and his home computer system is something that Bill Gates himself would admire.  Unfortunately, we live two hours from each other, and I only live ten minutes from our mom, Crazy Pat.  When she needs tech help, who’s she gonna call?  Oh yeah, that would be me.

The Captain (my husband) and I live less than five minutes from his mother.  She keeps her baby ducklings close by and even The Captain’s brother, Coach, lives less than a mile from us.  We are little ducks all together, and I am the resident techie for his side of the family.  When they need help, who are they gonna call?  Oh yeah, that would be me.

The two moms, Crazy Pat and Salt, both got iPads for Christmas.  I can say that I very much helped in the matter.  I was there when Crazy Pat clicked the button and ordered hers (she bought it for herself for the holiday), and I orchestrated Salt’s iPad (her computer crashed and she needed something easier to use).  The Captain warned me that this iPad frenzy may not be a good idea.  He was concerned that they would call me day and night for help.  I assured him that the iPad was easy peasy lemon squeasy and there would be no way they could fail at handling it. The Captain grinned like The Grinch and turned back to organizing the mail on the counter.

All was well with the moms.  Happy was I because this was an area that I could really help them both on.  I happily set up their emails, wireless connections and Apple IDs.  I happily downloaded apps on their iPads that I knew they would love.  I happily put Salt’s favorite game Free Cell on her’s, and happily uploaded the Oprah magazine for CP’s (Crazy Pat’s). I even put App Start on each of their new toys so they could learn more about them on their own time.

Being proactive, and to show the naysayer The Captain that it was a great idea for the moms to have this technology, I scheduled an “instructional” day for both to sit down with me and learn the basics of the iPad.  I was excited.  I was ready to share my favorite things about the iPad with them.  Strangely, they both cancelled.  Salt had to go to my nephew’s basketball game and CP was headed to something having to do with the theater.  The Captain grinned and said, “I told you so.”  I glared at him and pretended I didn’t hear his less than subtle comment.  But, alas, he was right.  Again.

I tried to reschedule the meeting.  Crazy Pat actually stopped and met me at our local coffee shop.  She said she had only 30 minutes, so I needed to tell her everything in that time.  She laughed and giggled and asked all about my latte and basically did not hear/understand/listen to a thing I was saying.  Then she told me that I needed some foundation for the circles under my eyes and some blush to enhance my features, and I looked at my watch and said her 30 minutes was up.

After that episode, Salt started calling.  She can’t get her email working.  She can’t remember her password.  She doesn’t know why the free cell won’t open. When I asked her how long these things were going on, she replied that it had been over a week.  A week!  I asked why she waited to call me, and she said she didn’t want to bother me, but she was about ready to throw the “thing” out the window.  I begged her not to do that, and jumped in the car – in my pjs – and got her up and running again.

I must say, despite The Captain’s sarcasm, I am pleased that these two women would take the leap and use this technology.  I am proud of both of them.  I do know that I am the one who needs to take a deep breath and continue to lead them on this new adventure.  And have a little patience, too.

Patience, yeah yeah, a little patience.

Censorship Blinds the World

I have a poster hanging in my classroom.  It has many different covers of many different novels on it.  In the center, it looks as if it is an eye chart used by  optometrists everywhere.  But the kicker is what it says:  “Censorship Causes Blindness. Read!”

This is my tenth year of teaching high school Language Arts (that’s fancy educator speak for English literature and writing.)  I have had this poster since day one, and I believe in it wholeheartedly.  Pictured on the poster are books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Slaughterhouse-Five, 1984, and even Judy Blume’s Blubber.  Books that are classics.  Books that encompass time periods that we have conveniently forgotten about.  Books that are guides to not making the same mistakes twice.

My students don’t understand how some of these books could be the victims of censorship.  They can’t wrap their heads around how a book about a Southern girl or a book about a wizard boy with a lightening bolt scar can be on the same poster.  They don’t get how a book about a girl being bullied because of her weight or about a boy would choose to eat worms would be censored.  These students are not blinded by censorship.

If they aren’t, then why are adults?  Why the need to censor books, blogs and more?  Who decides what is to be censored and what is safe?  Isn’t censoring these things just making more of an issue?  Shouldn’t we be teaching our children to understand what is right and wrong and also, more importantly, truly understand the defeating power of censorship?

I just finished reading two novels set during World War II and the Holocaust.  One was Sarah’s Key.  This book was unbelievably heartbreaking to me.  Censorship?  Yeah, it was everywhere during that time.  So much so that the French didn’t even understand that Jewish neighbors were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  The second novel I read was Those Who Saved Us.  This was from the point of view of a German teen who fell in love with a Jewish doctor.  She ended up having to do many difficult things in order to survive.  One point rings true:  No one was told anything.  Everything was censored.  The news, the neighbors and even the words each said to each other.  Censorship was hurtful. Censorship caused blindness.

It is important to look back on these novels for reference.  Especially books like 1984 when the world is a false utopia and Big Brother is constantly watching.  It is important to look back in history so the same mistakes aren’t repeated.  It is important to look ahead at the ever-changing landscape of the world and make sure our children don’t have to face the dangers of censorship.  It is even important to think of the words of Elie Wiesel when he said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”  So, in turn, we are not blinded by censorship.

Chain letters of the future

In 2009, when Facebook was very new to me, everyone submitted these “notes” that reminded me of chain letters from yesteryear.  Chain letters are to the 80s and early 90s as “please forward or you will have bad luck forever” emails are to the 2000s. 

So, I felt obligated (forced) to fill this out and then post it on Facebook to enlighten (appease) the friends that I had found again.

25 Random Things About Me…

1. I was born in New Orleans and took many trips there during college! 😉

2. I have lived in many states: LA, TX, MO, NJ, AL, OH

3. My mom actually fixed me up with my husband. “Al, I think you should stop by the theatre and meet this good looking guy in my cast. He just moved back to the area…”

4. Sometimes when I am quoting other people (like in #3), I use South Park voices for them. (Sorry, Mom!)

5. My brother-in-law (my husband’s brother) is a head football coach! And on the flip side –

6. My husband is the theatre director at the high school where he teaches!

7. I love the beaches of North Carolina and am a particular fan of Duck, NC.

8. I have a minivan. I know, no glamour, but it is cool, leather seats, DVD, loaded! The kids love it (and it drives nice – Go Honda!)

9. I am addicted to Macs. I love Mac. I love iLife. I love all things Mac. Mac, Mac, Mac.

10. On my sweet Mac (thank you glorious SV Tech guys) I have 13, 884 photos. I try to organize by month. Did I mention that I am addicted to digital photography? (As of today, two years later, I have over 25,000 pictures in iPhoto. Yikes.)

11. My husband does the majority of the cooking and cleaning. He is so much better at cooking than I am or ever will be!

12. There is one thing I can cook well. I am the pancake flipping queen. We have a Saturday morning pancake tradition, and I have only lost one pancake to the floor (but the dog was happy!)

13. I usually hate going to the grocery store, but in the summer when I am out of school, I love going. I hear it calling me – Giant Eagle Fuel Perks!

14. When I was working in Public Relations, I received an evaluation that stated in the weaknesses section: “Entirely too enthusiastic.” I now have that statement engraved on my iPod.

15. I love superhero movies. I love them. I love all of them such as Batman, Fantastic Four, Superman, X-Men, but most of all, Spiderman. “With great power comes great responsibility.” What an awesome motto for our USA, don’t cha think?!

16. I would choose red wine over dessert any day.

17. This past November, I became a National Board Certified Teacher! Hooray!

18. I have been a fan of the show ER since it started, and I will cry when it ends this year.  (I miss ER.  Forget Grey’s, I want me some ER.)

19. I love Sharpie markers and colorful Post-it notes.

20. We used to own a Victorian home. (Did anyone see the film “The Money Pit”? Yeah, well I lived it.)

21. I like cheese.  A lot.

22. I am secretly addicted to “The Bachelor” and wish I knew of someone to nominate to be on the show because I would write them one heck of a recommendation letter!

23. I named our son Luke not just because it is Biblical, but more because of Star Wars. May the Force be with all of you!

24. I love pets, but I am allergic to most of them.

25. I secretly listen to Duran Duran when no one is home. 

Yes, I grew up in the 80s.

Here goes nothing…

Reasons you know you were in high school during the 80s:

1.  You laugh any time you hear the name Long Duck Dong.

2.  You secretly crave a red Porsche 944.

3.  You know how to put lipstick on without using your hands.

4.  You really want to see the movie Hot Tub Time Machine.

5.  You have caught yourself saying the phrase “Hot Beef Injection” at inappropriate times.

6.  You still think Judd Nelson is cute.

7.  You are thrilled that leggings and slouchy boots are back in style.

8.  When you think of Madonna, you think of a cone bustier.

9.  You saw Tiffany, Debbie Gibson or Jack Wagner in concert and sometimes wonder how they are doing.

10. You are mesmerized by any VH1 specials on the 80s.

11.  You can still sing all the words to every Wham and Duran Duran song.

12. You sometimes wish that pegging pants was still in.

13. You can recite lines from Sixteen Candles and Dirty Dancing.

14. You justify that your hair didn’t look so bad in your senior picture.

15. You listen to XM’s 80s on 8 and get teary that new music just isn’t the same.