That Darn Orca (Starring Hayley Mills)

25 05 2011

That’s a lie. Hayley Mills has absolutely nothing to do with this. But I do remember her on Saved By the Bell before it was called Saved by the Bell (it was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss). And that also has nothing to do with anything.

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

(I will only stop quoting Douglas Adams when he stops being so damn relevant.)

Last year I was making all those cute amigurumi animals, remember? They were fun and easy and quick to knit. So when I saw that Knit Picks was selling the pattern for an orca I coveted it at once. I posted the link on Facebook and the next thing I knew Bethany had commissioned me to make it for Annalie. This was back in August I think.

Deadline #1: Bethany’s Baby Shower
I wasn’t ready with her actual baby shower gift yet so I thought a fantastic placeholder would be the orca with an IOU note.


Happy Thing: FINISHED Orca (Swimming Amongst the Books)

As it turns out the orca involved a few things I’d never done before. I had to learn a crochet cast-on (and later how to pick up those stitches and knit in the opposite direction) and the whole thing surprised me by being done in intarsia. Probably in the future I will read patterns more clearly before I go proclaiming how I want to knit them. (Read patterns clearly? No I won’t. Why lie?) But no big deal, because I can learn stuff and I should learn stuff and I enjoy learning stuff. So it’s all good, just a surprise. However. I’m a sporadic knitter at best, and when there is thinking to be done I find myself not only putting off projects more than usual, but also finding it more difficult to find time to do the knitting requiring the thinking. My usual knitting is done in front of the TV or chatting with friends. I can’t multi-task. I am physically incapable of it. So Knitting With Thinking requires my full attention. Which makes it even more sporadic.

Deadline #2: Christmas
Bethany said, “No problem! I’ll just give it to Annalie for Christmas!”


the orca waves to you

After I got well into the body of the orca, I noticed the number of white stitches was off. The total number of stitches I had on the needles were right, but the number of white ones was wrong. I was confused. I puzzled over that for days. Weeks, maybe. I even took the pattern to my friend Karen who is Expert at All Things Fiber and she and I puzzled over that pattern for a full half hour before we figured out what I’d done wrong. Before this I’d never knit from a chart before and I decidedly do not like it, but I cannot tell if this problem was caused by me being inexperienced or if the chart itself is just really stupid. Anyway, after some frogging I was back on track and knitted away. By the time I got to the end of the chart, though, it was clearly Very, Very Stupid as it made some stitches magically disappear without any warning. I decided at that point it was best to ignore the chart and make up my own rules. It seems to have worked out well for the orca. And my sanity.

Deadline #3: Annalie’s Birthday
Bethany said, “No problem! We’ll just give it to Annalie for her birthday!”


fins in the RIGHT place

And then, when I was still possibly on timeish maybe, and certainly only two steps away from being finished, I sewed the pectoral fins on exactly where the pattern told me to, took a step back and looked at it and wondered why on Earth the fins were on the bottom of the damn orca. At which point my brain exploded all over the place. By this time I was certain that there must be reviews online about how this pattern is wrong and wrong and also wrong, but I didn’t find anything. In fact, when I looked it up on Ravelry, I saw that every single person had the fins sewn onto the bottom of the orca. I cannot figure out what to make of this. It is clearly not right. It looks strange and doesn’t begin to match the picture on the pattern itself. And yet I am the only one to have noticed? Or am I just the only one to speak up? It’s like I fell into Bizarro World only I haven’t yet met Me-With-a-Mustache (that’s how you can tell which one is the evil version of you).

Despite needing a few days to recover from that I probably would have made it on time but then Matt Lauer screwed everything up.

And so. I fail at deadlines. And, Bethany, I am so, so sorry.

But! I ROCK at orcas! Look how awesome he is. Very, very awesome.

handy travel-size orca

And poor Bethany has told me she feels awkward for putting me in the place of having to struggle with this project (meanwhile I feel awkward not doing it faster or better since she commissioned the project) but it’s really like how your little sister drives you nuts and you complain about her all the time and you love to complain about her all the time, but you still love her to pieces not so far underneath all the complaining? I mean. I don’t have a sister, but I assume that’s how it is. Anyway, that’s how it is with this orca. I don’t regret him one bit. All the confusion and stress I felt while making him makes me even prouder that I finally finished him (*cough*three deadlines later*cough*).

And my orca? He’s the one with the fins in the right place.

So thank you, Bethany – I honestly mean it! Now all I have to do is not procrastinate getting him in the mail. Let’s say by Annalie’s next birthday?

Star Tours and Disneyland

21 05 2011

I have so much to blog about.  Things like my youngest child’s sixth birthday.  But I also have priorities and so at this moment I’ll blog about Disneyland.  My youngest child can wait.

Summer is like a Raffle Goddess this year – she just keeps winning and winning (KNOCK WOOD). Most recently she won tickets to see the grand-reopening of Star Tours at Disneyland. The chance to be one of the first people in the world to get to ride after it was refurbished and updated: AWESOME. Originally when she told me about this, I told her she should opt for someone who, you know, doesn’t cry on roller coasters so she could have more fun, but in the end she asked me anyway and who am I to say no to that? And Matt Lauer should know I NEEDED this day at Disneyland. Of course it required me to ditch pretty much everyone important to me – my kids, the Camp Fire meeting I was supposed to be leading (and, uh, the other leader was out of town. *cough*). So while I felt guilty (and while I tried very hard not to allow myself the guilt) I also knew that I’ve never before ditched any of these people for anything trivial like this and I won’t be doing it again (often?), so I just went for it.

And “going for it” meant waking up at 4am.

line for star tours

I used to love going to watch movies the night they opened. I was the one happy to wait in line for hours if I needed to, to get a good seat (or a seat at all). More movie theatres showing the same movie on more screens waters the experience down so I haven’t had such an incredible experience in a long time now, but this morning at Disneyland reminded me of all the reasons I used to be happy to wait in line just to watch a movie’s first showing.

empty disneyland

The crowd was like a mini-Comic Con. There were costumes and geekery and camaraderie. Everyone there was your friend because they knew they shared an interest with you and that you were all interested enough to wake up at 4am, drive for an hour and a half in the dark and wait in line for hours just to have the experience. Once we finally got on the ride everyone in the car with you cheered and booed and laughed and screamed together. And that – THAT – is why I woke up at 4am. The experience is fantastic on its own, but when shared with a crowd like that it’s once-in-a-lifetime awesomeness.

And, as always when Disney changes or updates a ride, we were all nervous as to if it would survive or if they’d screw it up. And, in Disney’s track record, the screwing up often comes with the awesomeness. So we didn’t know what to think about how this would turn out.

But we needn’t have worried (in this case) because it turned out AWESOME. It was better, even. They paid homage to the original ride and it’s cheesiness in graceful ways, and they removed the dated look in ways which I feel will help the ride stay current in the future as well. They utilized today’s technology elegantly and stuck mainly to the original three movies (although someone did tell me you can find Jar Jar Binks in carbonite somewhere in the ride if you look for it). There are several different versions of the ride, each stopping at a different planet in the Star Wars Universe. We stopped at Kashyyyk, although the ride called it “The Wookiee Planet”. (Full disclosure, I had to come home and look up the spelling of Kashyyyk.)

flight times

The ride also utilizes 3D (as the guys in line in front of us said, “Not only do we have to clamp on with our butts but we also have to keep 3D glasses on?”) and if you now me at all, you’ll know I HATE 3D. Despise. Abhor. Detest. To put it mildly. I will put up with it grudgingly for short periods of time and I will complain about being forced into 3D every time. But not this time. This time was AWESOME. Seriously. I can’t express to you how surprised I was to not only tolerate the effect but to also enjoy it. LOVE it, even. It was seamless and headache-free (although that may have been due to the shortness of the time I had to wear the glasses). I know today’s 3D is better than that of, say Captain EO (which I also saw for the first time ever yesterday, and who’s 3D I detested), but even today’s 3D I find generally looks unlcean and cheesy at best. But the 3D in Star Tours was just fantastic. Perfect.

Happy thing: Bonnie and I, with our super cool 3-D glasses!
Photo by Summer. Actually maybe photo by me. But it was Summer’s camera either way.

The only bad thing I had to say about the ride was that it was too short. I could have enjoyed a couple more minutes at least.

Anyway, after that we enjoyed the rest of the park, too. I had no kids with me so I got to enjoy the bits I never get to enjoy like The Haunted Mansion and Indy. Summer got to have Dole Whip and sing along in the Tiki Room which is something she doesn’t get to do very often. We had coffee and churros (I had a bite, anyway – shh, don’t tell my body about the gluten, ok?). And we survived the day with enough energy intact to drive home safely and happily despite the too-early wake up call.

I feel so refreshed now. The last weeks have seriously kicked my ass and while my life itself is happy, my body and mind were wearying to the point that I didn’t even notice it until I was at the happiest place on earth recharging myself.

I’ve already thanked Summer a million times but here’s once more. And thanks to the people I ditched for understanding. And thanks to The Universe for knowing what I needed even more than I did and for making sure it happened.

Clicky here for the rest of the photos.


19 05 2011

My favorite Douglas Adams book is Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (in which, by the way, it turns out that one of the characters is totally a Time Lord who totally has a TARDIS, albeit not in the form of a Police Box). I love the book not for it’s dysfunctional Electric Monk, not for the impossible couch, not for the horse that randomly appears in an apartment, and not for the cheesy time travel party tricks (although I do love it for all those things), but for the math. In the book they discuss how math is found in absolutely everything in nature, from the way a leaf flutters in the breeze to the way a mountain rises from gentle rolling hills to majestic rocky peaks. The book discusses the idea that if you apply the math of these natural phenomenon you can create beautiful music. Adams often spoke of his love of Bach’s music and the book is clearly partially inspired by that. And I knew as soon as I read it all those years ago that it’s true. Nature is math is music is art. All the art that ever is or was or will be is already all around us, just waiting to be interpreted and transcribed by artists into something we can all understand through our senses as art.

In the writing I’ve done this year for BlogHer I’ve felt this. It’s a connection. I struggle and struggle with a piece, putting it down and coming back to it, unhappy with it and knowing it’s not right. And then suddenly something unlocks and it comes pouring out, almost without willing it to. I become less of a writer and more of a tool to transcribe the writing.

This is not to say I consider myself anywhere near the same level as Bach or the great artists of the world – I like my writing but I have a long way to go before I ever reach that point, if I am even destined to. And I am probably not and honestly I’d rather it be that way. But I’ve had a small taste of it, of that muse connection.  I can understand that which I have believed must be true on a deeper level now.  And it feels beautiful.

This is also not to say that all music is art.  I love Baby Got Back, but I don’t think Sir Mix-a-Lot pulled that directly from The Universe.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’ve never worked at it as hard as I have before this year. The fact that a piece has to be finished by a certain date forces me to focus until the click happens.  Without that external push, I may not have found the patience – I may not have known to look for the patience – to stick with something through the block.  And so I’m glad The Universe has given me this gift of a deeper understanding of writing and art and how it’s not just for the greatest artists of the world, but how we can all choose to be True Artists by connecting ourselves to the ether of math and music and transcribing it for humanity.  I don’t want to be a Great Artist, I’m just happy to have had that connection with The Universe. It feeds my soul.

Area 51

18 05 2011

If I thought my eight-year-old self was scared of the Unsolved Mysteries episode that focused on Roswell, that was only because I had never considered the alternative. I don’t know that I believe either story, frankly, but I do know one thing: I will never sleep again.

And then Saturday Happened

14 05 2011

I woke up this morning way too early, had some breakfast, got in the car, drove away. And noticed a light blinking at me: BRAKE.

Awwwwww, c’mon Universe! WTF?

And then I threw a spiritual and emotional tantrum.

When I was younger, I had mad overreacting skillz. The first time my car battery died, I naturally assumed I needed a new car. And there was much panicking and wailing. Life lessons and Alex’s reaction to my overreaction have taught me through the years to not panic. Seriously, I did not learn this from Douglas Adams because my brain is too thick. It had to be beaten into me. (To be clear, I mean metaphorically beaten into me. No one ever actually beat me.)

And today I did not panic. I know better now. But I did tantrum like hell.

I wrote this to Claire this morning:
Can you please tell The Universe to stop trying to teach me shit?

I had to learn how to check my brake fluid today. I don’t want to do that shit ever. I want someone to take care of me and do the hard stuff. I’m not even willing to be proud of me for this b/c DUH of COURSE I can check and add brake fluid myself. I’m smart enough and competent enough and independent enough. I JUST DON’T WANT TO. And I will fight the Universe all the way down about this. Apparently.


And quite frankly, The Universe is sending mixed messages, anyway. Am I supposed to learn to be independent or to reply on my friends? *stomps foot*

/tantrum again

Funnily enough, I had this photo planned for a Happy Thing earlier this week:
Happy Thing: Conquering Computers

Computers, like cars, are Hard Things for me. I look at them and my eyes roll into the back of my head. It doesn’t mean that they are hard, it just means I shut my brain off when the subject comes up. Like sticking your fingers in your ears and singing at the top of your lungs. It means that their mere existence is Hard. As long as they work well, me and cars and computers get along super great. But when they need fixing or upgrading, I shut down and start dreaming of Cave Man Days.

Even so, earlier this week I had to do some simple computering. All it involved was moving some plugs around and plugging a new external drive in but it was Hard to want to think about considering doing it. And I did it. And I was proud of me.

So why am I not having the same reaction today to the brakes? Well, firstly, because I’m not sure the brakes are all better now. I’d still like to have the pads checked before I give myself a gold star. But I’m pretty sure the big reason is that I ALREADY LEARNED SOMETHING THIS WEEK. DONE. LEARNING. NO MORE LEARNING THIS WEEK. Also? Remember the tired? And the menstruating? See? ALL DONE. NO MORE. FINISHED. END OF STORY.

It’s late afternoon now and I’ve calmed down, but I can feel the tantrum RIGHT THERE ready to go again if The Universe decides I need any more lessons any time soon. Universe, what I need at the moment is a damn vacation.

And a coconut mocha.

this is why i am tired

13 05 2011

Last week:
Tuesday, 5:30PM~ Someone FROM THE FREAKING TODAY SHOW called me and asked me to FLY TO NEW YORK the following Thursday TO BE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. LIVE. ZOMGWTFPOLARBEAR!!1!!! *dies and is ded*
Tuesday, 8:30PM~ (These Today Show people keep crazy hours) I get an email asking if I can come sooner so I can film a spot in addition to the live show.
Wednesday, some point in the day which I have now forgotten~ I’m told I won’t be flying there after all, rather they’ll BE COMING TO MY HOUSE TO FILM ME HERE AND PUT MY LIVING ROOM ON NATIONAL TV. OMGWTF! *faints* (Slightly lesser response there, see?)
Wednesday, all day~ I run around scrubbing the house and kids, spending my last $20 on a haircut, driving the kids to their various appointments normal to Wednesdays, hunting down moms who want to participate in the story and who meet the requirements of the Today Show staff, finishing up some loose ends requested by the Today Show, talking to my web host about making sure the servers can handle all the traffic, and generally stressing out a little bit.
Thursday, two hours before news crews arrive~ I get a call saying no one is coming. *sigh* *dies. and is ded* The foreign news was too much that week to have room for a story on mama-bellies. Which made sense. I had wondered why they’d picked the week Osama Bin Laden was killed to invite me to New York. But it was also Mother’s Day so I thought that might have something to do with it.
Friday~ Recover.
Saturday~ Clean off the entire patio.
Sunday~ Be in pain from Saturday. Also celebrate Mother’s Day.
Monday~ Attempt to get back to regularly scheduled programming.  Fail. Look over the paperwork that needs to be done this month and turned into the county office. I haven’t mentioned this here yet, but we’re on food stamps. SPOILER ALERT! I’ve been meaning to blog about it but just haven’t found the time. Refer back to this entry for an example of why. Anyway. Discover the paperwork was actually due last week while I was not in New York. Do the math and realize I had exactly two days to get it completed and mailed and received since it arrived over a week after it was dated. The government is full of lying liars who lie. Call the office to see what can be done. Don’t get through. Spend ALL DAY LONG trying to get through. Feel foggy. Feel bitchy. Not all of this is from having to deal with the government. Part of it is a major case of PMS.
Wednesday~ FINALLY GET THROUGH!! And remain on hold for one hour and forty minutes. No shit. ONE HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES. Finally give up because Elliott needs to be at an appointment. Feel menstrual. Very, very menstrual. ETA: Oh shit I forgot the bit about how my bank called me at 8am to ask me if I’d spent $6,000 that morning on clothes and how, no, they didn’t think so but wanted to double check and how they’d cancel my debit card and how I’ll get a new one sometime before the world ends. *sigh*  And so now I am partying like it’s 1999 and writing checks for everything. Yes.  I am that person in line.  Blame the criminals.
Thursday~ Call again, speak to an operator, explain my case, get put on hold FOR FORTY MINUTES MORE. Get hung up on. Menstruate more. (Sorry, male readers.)
Friday~ OH GLORY BE. Friday the 13th is here to make up for my Week o’ Thursdays. I not only get through and don’t even get put on hold, but I get my problem solved (turns out I actually had until Thursday and would have known that HAD I BEEN ABLE TO GET THROUGH) and spend exactly zero minutes in the office waiting for the paperwork I was told I’d have to wait for. WIN. Celebrate with Frappy Hour and some Doctor.

And the future holds? Well, more of this, but slightly less… manic. Unless the Today Show calls me back like they promised. In the mean time, and for the foreseeable future, we are blaming all our problems on Matt Lauer.

(Dear Today Show and/or Matt Lauer, totally j/k. lolz)

Mother’s Day Happy (via Instagram)

8 05 2011

mother's day breakfast
Beakfast: pancakes, bacon, fruit, coffee.

wtf did she get to be 16?
Daughter: way too grown-up looking.

Balboa Park: free guided tour.
botannical building

art museum

museum of man

fig tree roots

Free organ concert: in the rain.

rainy day

yellow shoes, witchy socks, umbrellas everywhere
Socks: extra cute.

largest coffee evah
Coffee: extremely large. And fancy.

i heart daleks
Daleks: basing on the Cybermen.

mother's day dinner
Dinner: roast beast, tots, slaw.

Happy Thing: Motherhood
Happy: me.

Begone, Scary Monster Eyes and Six-Foot-Tall Spiders!

7 05 2011

Over the years, for a variety of reasons, our patio and back yard fell into disuse. We had too much stuff, I had to focus my energy on the part we had to live in rather than the outsides, the brown widows literally invaded the city in one summer and our back yard stupidly has no access out except through the house which makes removal of spidery yard waste difficult and anxiety-causing. Whatever reasons or excuses, it was unpleasant. And my goal this year has been to transform my home into a place that is pleasant, free of clutter and peaceful. About a month ago I cleaned up the back yard and today I did the patio. While I never took before pictures to spare myself the embarrassment, I did create some shockingly realistic reenactment photos for you. You’re welcome.

Patio – Before:

patio reenactment

At times in the past, the patio’s been so cluttered you could hardly walk in it, let alone enjoy it or want to glance in the direction of it. Much of the extra stuff left with the husband, I tossed some more things I felt we no longer needed, and I chopped down the jungle that had sprung up due to the unusual amount of rain we got this winter. I am pretty sure there were monsters hiding in it, as you can clearly see in the reenactment photograph.

Here’s what it looks like now (which I’m sure is a complete shock to you, what with all my mad photoshop skillz).

Happy Thing: No More Scary Monster Eyes

This is what the shelves look like now. They aren’t pretty (well, there’s a patch I rather fancy, circled for your convenience), but since I don’t have a garage, they are quite necessary. I’m open to ideas for making them less garagey while also not creating extra hiding spaces for those widow jerks (spiders. my neighborhood is not infested with actual widows acting like jerks). The car seat will be tossed as soon as I get my hands on a sledgehammer with which I can destroy it.


Into the back yard.


(And I don’t wanna hear from you about how the orange is hard to read. It was too late to change the color. For some reason that made sense at the time.) Three summers ago the brown widows came to my town. These spiders are not native to San Diego and were first sighted and recorded in 2004 and now their range covers nearly the entire county. Those bitches breed like mad. I’ve seen them with four or five egg sacs. And they don’t stay to remote corners the way the black widows do (perhaps because their sheer numbers cause them to run out of space?) so they’ll be in places you frequent far more often than the native black widows. The summer they arrived in my back yard, the population went off like a damn bomb. We pretty much stopped going in the back yard at all. We had some camping chairs out there that became a large metropolis for them. In addition to random trash like that, the Ex Husband also created a few “compost” heaps. He was fond of them and no amount of logic could sway him from piling more leaves and twigs onto them. While they did, indeed, create some new earth, most of it was just a pile of leaves and sticks, even years later.

This is what the back yard looks like now:

And the other side:

geranium & hose

those bitches grow fast

That pepper tree in the corner there? Was definitely NOT there the last time I looked (*cough*three years ago*cough*). Those bitches grow fast. (They are also non-native and invasive. I’m allowed to call ecosystem-imbalancing plants and wildlife bitches.) (I really, really love parenthesis.)

Technically, the Spider Metropolis (i.e. camping chairs) are still in the yard, so these photos were strategically taken. My landlord promises to move them for me by tossing them over a series of fences rather than bringing them through the house. I expect this to happen in 2016. And once they are gone, despite my inclination to put some sort of chair or table out there or on the patio, I have made a firm decision not to. The yards are lovely now and simple. Adding things back there will only create more places for the widows to live (this time I’m referring to actual widows) (haha, kidding!) and be more for me to maintain. Maybe someday, if I prove to be responsible with what I currently have, then I’ll allow myself a bistro set on the patio and maybe some flowers in the back yard. For now, I’ll enjoy my spaces without anything permanent in them.

And for the future? I’d like to get a shade built for the patio and, if possible, find a way to cover the items on the shelves (not to mention protect them from heat and sun – even shaded it will get warm out there), add more wind chimes (especially in the tree in the back yard) and possibly someday find a simple way to put fairy lights up around both living areas. For now, though, it just feels good to be neatened up.

As for the house, I still get a thrill of happiness when I walk in and see my lovely living room, neat and clutter-free. Every single day.

Tweets From April

7 05 2011

My plans today were canceled so I guess I’ll have to eat all these cookies myself.
3 Apr

Saw a sticker that indicated the car it was attached to could do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Kids didn’t get it. They suck at being nerds.
4 Apr

That coffee I had at 9pm seemed like a good idea at the time. But now that it’s 1am and my brain won’t shut up, I think maybe not so much.
9 Apr

HAHA I have FINISHED the tail of the orca! I am AWESOME. Bow to me. (Also, I am humble.)
10 Apr

Oh by the way I can like my coffee black now.
14 Apr

A few nights ago I had a dream in which I made up a joke that it took me a few minutes to understand. I’m THAT smart.
15 Apr

Wanna know what’s dumb? Vacuuming the car just before you hit the beach. Thank god I’m so cute.
15 Apr

Temple of Doom really sucks. In every way. Except the shirtless Indy bits. That part doesn’t suck. Also this.
16 Apr

Elliott’s Lego guy is “unvisible” right now.
18 Apr

Gone Daddy Gone, Mayonnaise, Beat on the Brat- wow the radio doesn’t suck today.
18 Apr

Why yes I did back out of the entrance to the Coronado Bridge today in Barrio Logan. And I don’t regret it.
18 Apr

My son is into making up board games. While this is cute and shows how smart he is, it also means I have to play hours of 5yo-designed games
19 Apr

I hate it when I’m smarter than the baristas at @Starbucks . Also: I get bitchy if you come between me and my coconut mocha.
19 Apr

Just looked up the definition for “agelessness” and found that it’s dated to 1651. Hrm.
20 Apr

Margie: What do you call two lovebirds on a power line? Dead!
22 Apr

My dream this morning ended in a cliffhanger. How is that fair, brain??
23 Apr

Last night’s dream was a Veronica Mars spinoff. Some people dream in color. Apparently I dream in TV.
24 Apr

And just like that she turned nine.
24 Apr

According to Elliott Dr. Who said, “Bathroom.” So Rose kicked him. And rightly so, IMO. How impertinent.
25 Apr

ZebraBelly just discovered that Google will GUESS at a celebrity’s height. This amuses me for some reason.
25 Apr

I keep hearing the theme from Jurassic Park. I can’t tell if it’s the neighbors or if I’m going a little bit insane.
28 Apr

Why yes I did just Google “water crystals satan”. Is that not a normal thing to research? (PS. tell the water it’s cute to exorcise it.)
30 Apr

Other Things I’ve Become Obsessed With

3 05 2011

Probably the first obsession I had as a child was over Really Rosie by Maurice Sendak and Carol King. But I’m going to start later, after the New Kids on the Block obsession. I mean. You know. If I had one. Which I didn’t. Hey what’s that over there??? Oh, it was nothing after all. Moving on then!

1. 10,000 Maniacs As a child growing up, the churches I was raised in were sadly very negative and fear-based. I was warned against many things including evil music which may lead me “astray” and, eventually send me to hell. So when my 7th grade friend told me she was listening to 10,000 Maniacs I panicked a little bit that I’d chosen a friend who liked Satanic heavy metal. Go ahead: HAHAHAHAHAHA! When she finally persuaded me to listen I was absolutely hooked. It was my first experience with music (of my generation) that sang about more than just love or big butts. Now that I look back some of the lyrics are cheesy or elementary, but at the time I just felt so passionate about the subjects of the songs. Natalie Merchant was my idol, I absolutely adored her. I even punched a guy at school who dared to insult her nose (and I’d do the same again to defend hers or any other nose I happen to respect). I’ve never forgiven my mom from not letting me go to their concert because “people do drugs at concerts” and I guess she was afraid I might fall onto a joint and accidentally inhale it? (For the record I was not allowed to go see Nirvana’s last San Diego show because “don’t they fall down on stage or something?”) I did end up seeing Natalie Merchant herself in concert once and that was great, but just not the same. I told all my friends they should call me even in the middle of the night if they happened to see 10,000 Maniacs or Natalie Merchant on TV (life before the internet was so hard *sigh*). I decried the replacement of Natalie with Mary Ramsey. I called record stores regularly to see if they had rare copies of the original vinyl records the band put out. When we were in London I grabbed a copy of In My Tribe that had “Peace Train” on it since it was no longer available on CD in the US. I was utterly enveloped in 10,000 Maniacs for years and years and to this day, even if for no other reason than sentimentality, I hold them close to my heart (you may remember that my minivan is named Natalie Bubbles).

2. Jurassic Park I didn’t see this movie right away. In fact I didn’t see it for months. I wasn’t really interested in it until it came to the $2 theater in January the following year. I remember having a bag of Cheetos in my hand which I gently put down, uneaten, about four minutes into the movie. And I was glued to that story for approximately the next six or seven years. That night I had a hard time walking home because I was fairly certain a tyrannosaur would come bounding out from behind a building (and this was the original movie, not the sequel in which tyrannosaurs did, in fact, come bounding out from behind San Diego buildings). Over time I came to (almost) literally believe velicoraptors lived under my bed. This was not helped by the fact that my high school boyfriend pretended to get dragged under (which was one of the awesomest things he ever did. And he did a lot of awesome things). I had to run in from the hallway and leap onto the bed, lest they reach out and pull me under. I read the book and then the sequel, dutifully saw both following movies the night they opened (both of which were still pulling heavily from the original book). I bought the soundtrack and the toys and carried a tiny Jeff Goldblum with me wherever I went. I was so obsessed that I think I colored my friends’ high school experiences – we all made a point to use the metal service stairs in the mall so we could thump down and pretend we were the tyrannosaurs. I was so faithful to the damn movie that I even rode the ride at Universal Studios more than once. And I don’t do big scary rides. I lived, breathed and ate Jurassic Park until….

3. Hitchhiker’s Guide I was aware of this as a child. My mom had the book and the game for the Commodore. But she told me it was “for grownups” so I assumed it was some boring copy program. I assumed the book was the manual for the program. When I saw Summer reading it in 11th grade (her 10th) I thought maybe I was mistaken and I read it over the summer. And by “read” I mean “consumed voraciously”. I’d never read anything like Douglas Adams’ writing before and was hooked. The way he saw things and the way he used his words to express his humor seriously changed me. Aside from reading everything he wrote that I could get my hands on, I pulled out the computer program and found out I’m terrible at it, I watched the BBC miniseries and found out the 80’s were terrible at special effects and makeup, and I made all my friends who would would listen to me read the books, too (final count: two more friends). And with this obsession I colored not only my friends’ high school experiences, but possibly the entire school’s. Summer and I, as leaders of the drama club, used the series to promote our club. We made signs that said things like, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about Stage Company: Mostly Harmless.” And our fellow students looked at us like we were maybe a little bit insane. I’m sorry, fellow students. (I’m really not.) Being drama nerds, we got creative with our lockers and the day we were assigned them we brought in paints and wrote geeky Hitchhiker’s Guide phrases all over them. I even drew the green guy. (Interestingly, the school officials had a big problem with our, er, graffiti, but instead of confronting us directly, they spoke to the rest of the school about it and enforced it in all the buildings besides ours. Moral: Drama Nerds are scary.) In college I went so far as to adapt a scene from the book and make it into a short film (which was TERRIBLE and I hope to GOD it’s been lost to time). When we went to Europe in 1996 we got hold of a phone book and started trying to call Douglas Adams. As it turns out there were a shitload of Douglas Adamses in London so we gave up pretty quickly. (Update: OMG I wrote down some or all of them in my travel scrapbook! Although I guess it’s too late to try again. *sigh*)

4. Lost I just told Karen the other day that we first started watching Lost just as season two was ending and we threw internet safety to the wind and watched the entire second season online illegally in a week. She looked alarmed. Which is probably the right reaction because I think the sheer intensity probably aged my brain about 6 years in that week. And I don’t regret it. Lost was that awesome. Especially second season. That finale is still one of my favorite episodes ever. By the time this obsession happened I was a Grown Up so I didn’t have any lockers to paint and I’d rather buy real toys for my kids than buy myself Display Only toys, so this obsession was slightly more internal. But I did spend hours each week reading various internet forums and discussing various theories with Alex and making various inside nerd jokes with anyone else who would listen ever and some who would not.  I even had a Dharma Initiative birthday party.  I’d like to rewatch the series from the beginning sometime now that I know where it’s going (and all the places it’s not).

And there have been other things like the books by Madeleine L’Engle and the story of Harry Potter that may not have qualified as full-blown obsessions but they are just as important to me as the listed items above and are now an important part of the fabric of my life and I can just as geeky about them as I can about my obsessions.

And, again, looking at this list, comprised entirely minus one item of Geek Things, I’m just continually astonished at how long it took me to realize I’m a nerd.  But that’s still another post.


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