Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prince and Princess Charming

Sometimes I like to put words in my daughters mouth. I've fessed up to it. But sometimes she likes to take words out of my mouth, especially if those words are on Facebook.

Which is the worser offense? I know not.

Remember that time I Liked all of her dance photos on Facebook, and she forced me at gunpoint to Unlike them? Well this week I commented on all of her senior pictures on Facebook using words like GORGEOUS! and Beautiful! as well as important questions like, She's preeeeetty, who made her?

Once again she called me from work--and from the depths of humiliation--and specifically instructed me to "Untoot my horn."


For the record, I couldn't find the Untoot button on Facebook, so I kept all them words in my mouth. (Take that, supermodel daughter of mine!)

What I don't get is how come when her Prince Charming Prom date arrived tonight and told her she looked like a princess, she didn't try to take them words out of his mouth.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Extra

You know how I love to share both movie wisdom, and advanced movie wisdom? Well, today I would like to share some advanced, advanced movie wisdom:

Movies ain't real, peeps. They're staged.

I know this because last week I made my acting debut in a commercial.

I didn't mean to do it, I happen to know a filmmaker who needed an extra "extra" because the original "extra" bailed at the last minute. He probably figured that since I was an adjunct faculty for 12 years I had a lot of experience being an "extra."

"Alls you have to do is open a fridge door, and maybe sit at a table," he told me.

He probably figured that since I've been a mom for 17 years I've had a lot of experience opening fridge doors and sitting at tables.

When I arrived on set, I introduced myself to the director as the "extra."

"Great," he said. "You'll be playing the mom, today."

"The mom? But I was hired to be the extra," I said. "Mom's aren't extra. Moms are the star."

He smiled. "Around here the product is the star, and the mom is the extra."

Another example of the media objectifying objects and deobjectifying moms.

While the film crew set up the room and staged the dinner table, and the producer ran to pick up Chinese food for everyone, the make-up artist fixed my hair and face and I tried to mentally prepare myself for the role.

But then the director began dishing up and serving me and my extra family dinner, so I had to speak up.

"Shouldn't the mom be serving the food?" I said. "I mean to get into character."

"You're just an 'extra" mom," said the director. "Your role is to look pretty and do what we ask you to do."

"But I usually don't look pretty at the dinner table," I said. I wasn't complaining, I was just saying. "Just worried that we might be sending the wrong message that's all, " I added. "And perpetuating stereotypes, and creating unrealistic expectations . . ."

My extra husband, who was played by a professional, raised one eyebrow, so I put a lid on it. Not only did he play in Oceans Eleven and 21, he was a CHiP in real life (California Highway Patrol).

"Is Eric Estrada as sexy in person as he looks on t.v?" I asked, while we waited for the crew to set up the lighting. He raised the other eyebrow.

Then he told me that George Clooney is way nice, Brad Pitt is pretty cool, Matt Damen is okay, and Julia Roberts is short and snooty.

"She also has a body double, so Julia Roberts isn't Julia Roberts at all," he said, wrinkling his nose up.

"Maybe that's why she looks so tall and friendly in the movies," I added.

My extra son was in the 8th grade and scored a 30 on the ACT the first time he took it. He wanted to be a brain surgeon and his favorite book was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. When the camera started rolling he smiled a lot and said he was excited to clean his room. My part wasn't to judge, but to look pretty and make dinner conversation so I pouted my lips and asked him how his basketball practice went.

"GRRRREEEEAT!" he said, as if he were Tony the Tiger.

"Why?" I asked. Then I turned to my extra husband and asked him how his day went.

He also said, "GRRRREEEEAT!" (Like fake father, like fake son, I guess.)

"Why?" I asked again.

"Cut!" called the director. "Dummy, can you not interrogate your fake family please, unless you're smiling."

"It just doesn't seem very realistic is all." I said. "Why is everyone GRRRREEEEAT? This isn't a breakfast commercial."

On the next take I asked my fake daughter if she had her homework done, and she said, "YES, I've had it done since 1995."

"And monkeys fly," I said.

"Cut!" called the director.

Next my extra husband asked our extra son what he'd been reading, and he said Harry Potter.

"I read the whole series in four days. 34 times."

"CUT!" I called. "Seriously! Who reads Harry Potter 34 times? I mean, someone is going to call social services on us."

"Dummy, you don't get to call cut, you're the extra."

"But shouldn't this kid be burping, or insulting my cooking, or telling me my waistband is too high? And shouldn't I be telling him to stop slurping or to get his elbows off the table, or that money doesn't grow on trees?"

 "Dummy can I speak to you for a minute. In private," said the director.

I was just keepin' it real, you know. For the betterment of mankind. But I learned a valuable lesson that day: The extra doesn't get to keep it real.

And the only thing real about movies is the wisdom. 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Aye, there's the rub

I don't know what that means, but I like to say it sometimes because Shakespeare said it sometimes, and when Shakespeare talks, people listen.

That's my philosophy; If you want people to listen, throw some Shakespeare into the mix. Nod your head sympathetically once in a while and say, aye, there's the rub. It works especially well when someone is confused, or conflicted. Or, if you're conversing with Hamlet while he's trying to decide whether to be or not to be.

Aye, there's the rub!

I said this to my daughter last night after she read yesterday's post about American Promises (in bed).

"WOW, Mom," she said. "You put a lot of words in my mouth."

"I know," I said. "I'm good at it, huh?"

"But like, you made it sound like I was not only in the conversation, but also of the conversation."

"I know," I told her. "And I made it sound like people like you too."

"Only thing is, I wasn't in the conversation, or of the conversation," she said.

"Aye, there's the rub!" I said. "There's. the. rub."

Truth is, the only thing my daughter actually said while I was reading all the American Promises and adding (in bed) was, "Mom, you're making me uncomfortable."

I don't know why alluding to sleep makes her squirm, but she turns away when vampires kiss on television too.

True story.

But true stories are dull. That's where I come in. To capture the essence of a conversation--not the conversation as it was, but the conversation as it was meant to be.

I don't necessarily repeat what people say word for word, I repeat what I want them to say, word for word. It's called wish fulfillment.

Wish fulfillment is why writer's write. Learned that in college.

See sometimes I wish my daughter wouldn't say, "Mom, you're making me uncomfortable," so I pick up my pen and write in what I wish she would say. Somewhere deep inside her I believe there is a place that doesn't get uncomfortable when I speak (or when vampires kiss). By putting words in her mouth I am tapping into that place.

I'm not lying, I'm just liberating.

Sometimes I liberate my hub's words too. I'm like an artist that way--a great French photographer, maybe, or a painter--not a literalist, but an impressionist, who communicates other people's exact thoughts rather than their exact words.

My hub may not say all the words I put into his mouth, but he thinks all the thoughts I put into his head.

For example, he may not say, "Frailty, thy name is woman!" like Shakespeare did, but I know he thinks it, especially when I water the new grass for 34 minutes instead of four minutes like he told me to, over and over.

See 34 minutes makes new grass puddle and you want to avoid puddling new grass at all costs, particularly after your husband spent 18 hours a day over the weekend tilling and shoveling, and seeding, and moving rocks, and as Shakespeare would say, "throwing compost on the weeds."

There's the rub!

You get me?


P.S. For the record, I have never had to liberate any of my MIL's words. I always quote her directly because she is totally in tune with her inner uncomfortable thoughts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

American Promises (in bed)

My daughter gets more love notes than any person I've given birth to. And not just from prince charming's who ask her to Prom, but from friends and neighbors and leaders and cousins too.

Someone is always dropping off brownies or cookies or candy or rainbow roses. Last night she got a necklace made from a Hawaii quarter with the word BEAUTY stamped across it, and a Mustache Mug full of Dove chocolates.

"These are American fortune cookies," I squealed.

"Technically they're chocolate promises," said my daughter.

"Tomato, tomahto," I said as we unwrapped each piece of chocolate, read our promises, then added the secret ending (in bed).

Can I just tell you that American promises are much more on point than Chinese fortunes. It's almost like Americans write their promises with the secret (in bed) ending in mind. Take my first promise for instance: "Get a good nights sleep (in bed)." I mean, how much more spot on can an American chocolate fortune teller be?

Check this one out:

Americans really get that a good day's sleep is as valuable as a good night's sleep.

My daughter's fortune said, "Too much of a good thing is wonderful (in bed)."

"True that!" I said. "You can never get too much sleep in bed. It's next to impossible."

"Unless you start worrying about all the things that happen while you are sleeping," my daughter added.

"Touche," I said.

My next fortune said, "There are no limits today (in bed)." I took that as permission granted to sleep in as long as I wanted today, and I didn't roll (out of bed) until 5:45 a.m.

There was only one promise that didn't work with the secret ending, although it could work if you had a water bed. "Create your own spa (in bed)."

"I wonder why Americans are so fixated on relaxing and sleeping?" I mused to my daughter.

"Sick and tired, I guess," she shrugged.

After we finished reading all the promises, we re-wrapped each piece of chocolate and returned it to the mustache mug. Then my daughter opened the note that came with the mug:

"I mustache you something. How come you're so amazing?"

I was kinda glad that wasn't an American promise.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

While You Were Sleeping

Have you ever wondered about all of the things that happen while you are sleeping?

You could be curled up in your bed counting sheep at the exact moment your sister starts throwing up blood. She's rushing to the emergency room, writhing in pain, losing consciousness, receiving blood transfusions, while you're just breathing deeply.

Other things could happen too. You're brother could get divorced, your neighbor could die of cancer, your mom could move into her dream trailer park.

Sometimes it makes my head spin just thinking about all of the things people are doing while I am sleeping. That's not including all the things I am doing while you are sleeping, especially when I'm striving. Striving and striving and striving, insomuch that I have become a stiff-necked people. Literally. Because my striving is your sitting and staring.

Imagine sitting and staring for 10-12 hours a day, with occasional breaks for a hot bath and a Sunrise Serenade. (That's yoga speak, for dummies.)

That is my striving.

My world has become so small. So infinitely small. This must be what Olympic athletes feel like, if Olympic athletes sat and stared all day. It's just as hard on the body is what I'm finding, and yet not as attractive on the body, is what I'm also finding.

But sitting and staring pays off if you stick with it. I'm happy to report that I'm more than halfway through my third draft of my memoir/diary. Or should I say memoirs/diaries, because there are multiples. Maybe even a series of them, depending on how many more darlings I kill. (That's writer speak, for dummies.)

Oh, and there's also a guidebook, Crash Test Dummies for Dummies. And a pamphlet for the young people--For the Warmth of Youth, about appropriate winter wear.

And Vern, I'm working on that Hunger Games for Mormons Parody. Stay tuned.

Striving has revealed one thing about myself that I was only vaguely aware of: I enjoy re-writing WAY WAY WAY more than I enjoy writing.

Blank pages make me itchy.

Please forgive me if you've emailed or called or texted or Facebooked or dropped a plant off on my doorstep, and I have not yet responded. Also, forgive me if I have not offered to babysit your children or cook your dinner. I am in a state of temporary striving, with a capital TEMPORARY.

I pinky promise I'll babysit and cook for you after the fifth draft. And maybe I'll remove my Christmas decorations from my window box after the fourth draft.

Most importantly, forgive me for not posting the winners of my Tell Me Who I Am contest.

Drumroll, please . . .

1st place goes to MOMZA because she made me see that it really is our stories that tell us who we are. She has listened to all of my stories and she's got me down to a nutshell--if that's even possible, because like I always say, we don't live in a nutshell now, do we. Although I am kinda living in a nutshell right now. An infinitely small nutshell.

The only thing Momza forgot to mention about me is how my eyeballs get stuck on my plate. (I would link to that post if I wasn't so busy striving.)

2nd place goes to CAROL YUEN because she really tugged at my Hawaiian heartstrings, and stroked my ego at the same time.

3rd place goes to SANDI because she told me who I used to be, (now I'm just somebody that she used to know) and that I hope to be again. One day. After I finish striving and move into a bigger nutshell.

Congrats girls, I've got autographed copies of Tell Me Who I Am ready to send--even got DeNae Handy and Jana Parkin to sign them so they may be in the Smithsonian someday.

And bonus, I've got free autographed copies for my honorable mentions too: Brittany, Garden, 2Busy, Scooby and Jon, and Anjeny (because Anjeny proved to me that she takes her blog title, Ramblings of and Islander seriously. I'm telling you, that's who she is.)

And Mariko, I will throw one in for you too, even though you already bought one, because honestly I loved your concision:"You're a writer." In a nutshell, you're right. Almost. If you had said "You're a re-writer" you would have been a shoe-in for first place.

Tell Me Who I Am is getting great reviews, btw, and will be available for upload on Kindle soon. Also there will be a Mother's Day promotion beginning April 23rd and I think chocolates may be involved.

Stay tuned.


P.S. If you won, email me your address and I will send you your prize. After I finish my 6th draft.

J/K peeps. I need a break from my striving anyway.