Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mermaids Meets Macbeth

Recently, while I was visiting the laser center, I spotted a poster with a picture of a beautiful mermaid. Now, for those of you who don't know me that well, I happen to LOVE LOVE LOVE mermaids. Beautiful, ethereal creatures who are depicted as both saving men from drowning and, at other times "accidentally" squeezing the life out of them as they attempt to pull them to shore...hey, I didn't come up with the idea...I just really like it. Anyhow, I have always loved mermaids and of course, so does Ava Grace. I figured this was a fantastic opportunity to see a live show, close by, with local performers, featuring one of my favorite mystical creatures. I say favorite because I also happen to love unicorns--yes, I really said that (feel free to take a moment and let it sink in).
Anyhow, last week Ava graduated from preschool and I was already missing the daily contact I had with some of my girlfriends so, I decided to make it a double date, a mother/daughter outing for both myself and one of my good friends. She accepted the invite, we got babysitters and met at the Olive Garden (Ava loves that place). My friend and I shared a bottle of cheap wine, a few funny stories and some mediocre pasta, then it was off to the show. Now, right away, I should have known something was not right when we arrived at the address on the poster and it was the Masonic Temple. Apparently the Mason's are into mermaids too. My friend asked how much the tickets cost, I told her it was free as long as we became Masons before the night was over. I mean how hard could it be right...a few simple handshakes, a couple of rituals, declare our belief in the "Supreme Being" and learn the art of making bricks then VOILA!...we're golden. When we arrived we asked the hostess where to pick up our tickets, she pointed to a woman with a ticket box who asked for our names (as if to look up our purchase info) and then to our surprise (and horror)--from memory--she told us we we're in the front row and would find our seats labeled with our names. Not yet sufficiently freaked out we went in to join the other 10 people at the show and found them (our seats) as promised, labeled with our names smack dab in the middle of the front row.
Now, it wasn't long into the performance when I realized this was not a show ABOUT mermaids but actually a performance of the "The Little Mermaid", and...not the familiar Disney version with a sassy crustacean singing about the pleasures of living beneath the sea. In fact, it was quite the opposite, it was the dark and cynical Macbeth style version where Ariel must kill the prince if she wants to become a mermaid again and return to the sea after a failed attempt at love. Uh...OK. My first reaction was...whatchu talkin' bout Willis? Ariel's going to do what? That's not how the story goes. Then I realized, I had never read the Hans Christian Andersen version of the story. At this point, I was a little overwhelmed. In fact, I was quite upset since I had my 5 year old daughter with me AND earlier in the week I had specifically called on the phone to make sure this was a kid friendly performance. "Oh yes, kids love it" (that's what the lady on the phone said). Really? Who's kids--Ozzy Osbourne? Not my kid, that's for sure. I wasn't sure how much more I could handle. I mean, come on people...I had already turned the other cheek when the mermaids came out looking more like Britney Spears meets Morticia Adam's in costumes that were clearly made for an MTV video, NOW I had to be subjected to witnessing an underwater execution by a pissed off merwhore? What next? I couldn't possibly imagine.
Fortunately for my daughter's sake, Hans Christian Andersen viewed woman as being forlorn and passive when it comes to love. So, believing that Ariel would rather parish then kill her Prince, that's exactly what he had her do...she just up and died. "Ugh" that's what I said as her sisters carried the lifeless, heartbroken mermaid off stage. I mean come on...Ariel made a deal with the evil sea witch in order to become human just to be with Prince Eric. She gave up her voice, her charmed life beneath the sea and all of the things she knew in order to take a chance on love and then he falls in love with someone else? I mean REALLY. All of a sudden I was pissed...I thought "that DICK!" I felt myself secretly wishing she had killed him. However, it was at that moment, that strange, disconcerting moment I was overcome with the desire to see a mermaid get medieval on a man, that I happened to look down at my baby girl sitting beside me...softly weeping. I knew instantly what was wrong--she was devastated, heartbroken. She simply could not contain her disappointment about this play not having a "happy ending". That magical, romantic love story that makes it worth sitting through the scary parts of movies like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. That eternal, undying love between a Prince and his chosen one that Disney has fed us for the last 15 years. I was truly caught off guard. I didn't know how to handle this situation. I mean, lets face it, I know how to handle boys. They are simple, straight forward, easy to read creatures that can be physically coerced and verbally assaulted into submission. But I didn't really know how to deal with such emotional pain, such tenderness, such vulnerability. I looked down at her sad little face, I wiped away her tears and kissed her cheek, then I said, "Oh Honey, I know it's sad, but really...she's better off without him". And then it hit me, the anger, the resentment, the homicidal tendencies towards men...good Lord, I was possessed by my late grandmother Geraldine. It was all I could do not to yell out my favorite line from the Hunchback "sanctuary...sanctuary".
I tried to collect myself for Ava's sake and put aside my murderous feelings toward the Prince (that BASTARD). At the end of the performance we got up and left the theater, though, I must admit it was difficult, those Mason's...they don't want to let you out once they've gotten you in the temple. We tip toed down many hallways and what seemed like secret passage ways. We even ended up in what I thought was some kind of hidden Scooby Doo room you can only enter by leaning against the door frame in a special way. At this point, I was sure we had to join "the order" in order to get the hell out of this building. I looked around to see if anyone was doing the secret "exit" handshake when I noticed a dimly lit sign above a stairwell, it said "EXIT". Hallelujah, we've been saved.
We left the Temple of Doom and went into the parking lot to find our car. Ava had recovered from the trauma and asked if we could get an ice cream. "Of course" I said. I looked at her beautiful little face...the window to her sweet soul and tried to just love her, in all of her tenderness and vulnerability, just simply love her and be there with her in that moment. I tried not to think about what the future might hold for her, what kind of heartaches might be in store for my precious Ava, but I couldn't help it. As we headed to Baskin Robin's I knew in my heart this would probably be the first of many trips to the ice cream store where I would try to help my heartbroken daughter drowned her sorrows in a bowl of rocky road. Unless of course the trauma of the mermaid show coupled with her genetic predisposition had her turning out more like Grandma Geraldine...then I would probably be trying to prevent a Macbeth style execution of a high school boyfriend. Either way, she can count on me to be there, loving her unconditionally every step of the way.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Celebrity Worship...Really!?!

Tonight I decided to address a topic I feel is really not very important but rather a peculiar phenomenon I can't seem to figure out. Ryan calls it "celebrity worship". I call it the "male hairdresser syndrome". It goes like this--people assume that because you are a celebrity you are "special" you are some how better then the average Joe. And, that for some unknown reason, you deserve special privileges that ordinary people don't--like getting stuff you can well afford (for free no less) simply by attending some special event and accidentally showing your panties to a paparazzi. Really? You have a billion dollars but you can't remember to keep your legs together when exiting a vehicle? Ugh.
Let me use the example of the male hairdresser to further illuminate this idea. When I was attending hair school I noticed that many women would request the male hairdressing students and then treat them like hair Gods. Granted, sometimes the boys were good--but frequently they were little more then the semi attractive kid from your high school who was too lame to do anything else but women's hair. I believe the idol worship has something to do with the rarity of the male hairdresser...well, at least the straight male hairdresser. I have to tell myself it simply MUST be this--otherwise why the hell would you continue to go to a hairdresser who is pompous, inconsiderate and rude AND actually has the nerve to burn you with a curling iron and then blame it on you. Yeah...Mom, I'm calling you out.
Well, enough about the "male hairdresser syndrome", back to celebrity worship. This week People magazine named Ashton Kutcher one of the world's 100 most influential people. Really People magazine? Really!?! When I think of Ashton Kutcher I think of, first and foremost, that dreadful movie "Dude, Where's My Car?" Second, I visualize one of the world's top 100 pieces of boy-ass scored by a women who is old enough to be his own mother. I can't help but wonder if his recent climb to the 100 most influential people list isn't a frightening coincidence with the fact that he "tweets" more then a 14 year old girl and posts super lame videos of himself on Facebook every 15 minutes. I mean really--come on Ashton--the only other crowd posting videos and pictures of themselves more frequently than you are the "Emo's".
Nightline did a piece about him tonight and asked "Ashton, why do you think you have you become such a success in the entrepreneurial world?" His answer, "Because I see the top companies out there losing 100's of millions of dollars every year, and I know how to stop it" to which Diane Sawyer, after almost falling out of her chair, mumbled a truly inquisitive "Really?" His response, "I know...but I'm not gonna do anything about it...YET" Brilliant Ashton, brilliant. Way to keep us on the edge of our seats. Congratulations my friend, you have transcended your previous status as a mediocre actor limited to playing the dim witted kid barely able to graduate high school to a financial wizard (at least that's how those 14 year old girls hanging on your every "tweet" see you).
I guess celebrity worship has something to do with the fact that we pay them (celebs) a shit load of money and then expect nothing from them in return. Maybe that is why we get so much enjoyment out of watching them crash and burn. Their train wreck is our only redemption once we realize what complete morons WE are for awarding this type of entitled idiot to be at the top of our social hierarchy. What is the message we are sending young girls (and boys for that matter) when we let hypocritical hillbillies like Carrie Prejean represent the ultra liberal state of California in the Miss USA pageant? After letting the world know she was openly against gay marriage (even though she IS representing California) she went on to write a book about the lack of respect for women and their bodies and the need to treat them like holy temples. Ironically, shortly after the release of the book she appeared in a sex tape--apparently someone WAS worshipping Carrie Prejean's body like a holy temple.
So, in closing I feel it is important to remember that when looking back at our own childhood and remembering innocence lost, at least in comparison to what we experience in today's world--we really shouldn't blame our off spring, the next generation if you will, for the decline of society when what we offered them for role models were Michael Vic, Paris Hilton and Spencer Pratt. Oh and don't forget to include the "Donald" he was the person Carrie Prejean referred to as her role model whom she was "overjoyed to have meet-ed" (yeah...her words--not mine).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Well, I did it. I have finally overcome my writer's block just in time to share my thoughts's, and mom's special day. After a certain sister in law blasted me publicly, (well, on Facebook--but still--that's pretty public) about not being a good mother, I've been deep in thought about the significance of being a mom. I decided to look at that comment. I felt it didn't apply and let it go. Maybe it's because it's Mother's Day--the holy grail of days when it comes to being nice to mom--but I feel pretty confident that the techniques I use are good. It appears to me that they have been effective in creating 3 healthy, imaginative, lively children with relatively well developed emotional vocabularies and a pretty strong sense of who they are, and what they want out of life. After my fantastic Mother's Day dinner, right before bed I asked Ava Grace if she wanted to get rid of an old stuffy I saw laying on the floor. She said "No, when I grow up and live here and have a daughter I will give it to her. Then you can tell her about buying it for me at Disneyland." I said "Ok".
I wanted to spend my Mother's Day at home with just my kids and their dad. Our festivities included a delicious bar-b-que and 3 lovely handmade cards. While I sat in the sun drinking a glass of wine enjoying my wonderful husband, my oldest son built a lean-to in the backyard with a mattress on top for resting...and pondering deep thoughts. He was very proud of his accomplishment and marveled, as did we all, at his ability to make such an elaborate design with parts harvested only from an old porch swing. He was proud of himself and I was proud of him. I was also proud of myself for teaching that child how to take pride in his achievements and feel good about something he had made. That same child pitched an awful first inning at his game on Friday and though heartbroken and tearful he stuck it out until they called the "mercy rule" and ended the inning because he had walked in 6 runs. I was proud of him then too. In fact I was overjoyed at his ability to walk off the field like a man and collect himself. He allowed himself a brief moment to put his head in my chest and let a few tears go, then he stood up, put on his batting helmet and picked up a bat. He was over it. He had throw his first "loser" inning, his team was 6 runs in the hole and his ego had taken a serious blow but he gave himself a moment to feel the pain, then he moved on. Later in that same game he went on to pull three outs in a row, almost single handedly, in the last inning and secure a victory for his team. I was so proud of him. I was proud of his team too. Proud that they could love him just the same as they always do and congratulate him on a job well done on first base, putting behind them the first inning tragedy that had only an hour earlier befallen the whole team and cost them 6 runs. I was sure their mom's were proud too.
All of my children are good and special as I am sure each mother believes about her children. My mom used to say "Every crow thinks her babies are the blackest." I agree. I think that someone accusing me of being anything other than a fantastic mother, especially when they don't really know me says more about them and less about me. I have learned how to let people be whoever they are regardless of how stupid they are AND still be the person I am, (sometimes equally as stupid I'm sure). I try hard not to judge people because my honest belief is that people do the best they can with the resources they have. I believe it was Maya Angelou who said "When we know better we do better".
My mother is always trying to do better. I think she is a fantastic mother, sure she is not perfect. In fact just the other day I accused her of being a hypochondriac and you know what she did? She got sick. I mean come on. Really Mom? When she thinks she can help, she does. She always tries to anticipate the needs of others. She does what she thinks is best for people and sometimes it's wrong but she tries hard and she comes from a place of love. She is genuine. She has done well raising 3 wonderful children of her own and just like everybody in the whole world--we have issues and we are not perfect. My brother and sister and I are smart loving social people who like to be with people and have a good time. We are very different. We all have different interests but we are good people. We work on improving ourselves and strive to become better--better parents, better sons and daughters and better friends. How many people can say they look at themselves honestly and try to change the things they don't like? I have done many, MANY things I am not proud of and would not do again. However, I had to do them once to know that I didn't want to do them again. One of those things was religion. If I didn't at least give it a try how would I have know it was not right for me? And you know who was there loving and supporting me and NOT judging me? My mom (there were a few other's but the only get an honorable mention cause it's not Father's Day or Husband's's Mother's Day).
I am grown now, I don't live with my mom any more and our relationship has changed significantly, but--somethings will never change. Last time she was here visiting I told her "Just when you thought you were out of hot water...I reproduced. I can't torment you in the same way I did when I was a kid so I did the next best thing...I made more kids." She laughed, just like she always does when I tease her. She's a good woman. I'm a good woman. I am confidant my daughter will grown up to become a good woman and someday she will have a daughter of her own and she will teach her how to become a good woman. I want to teach Ava how to really love someone. How to accept and support them through all the seasons of their life.
Someone once asked me what I wanted my legacy to be. I was speechless. It's hard to fathom anything beyond this life when you don't believe in anything BUT this life. I couldn't answer him...but I can now. I want my legacy to be that I was a good woman--that I was strong and loyal. That I was brave and smart and funny. That when I loved someone...they knew it. And, that I was a mother, and a damn good one. And mothers never stop loving us and helping us. And even after I am dead and gone I will still be helping, still working, still contributing to making the world a more beautiful place for my children...only now it is because I am in the ground helping the flowers grow.