Sweatpants & Coffee

I can’t recall where I heard about the website Sweatpants & Coffee.  It was probably affixed to something or other I saw elsewhere on the internet and for some time it’s been on a Post-It note stuck to my cube’s mailboxes. Today I finally had a chance to look it up. Their slogan (if that’s what you call it) reads:

“A bastion of comfort and sanity in an often uncomfortable world.”

Without browsing the site more thoroughly I can’t comment on whether that slogan is accurate, but I can say I WILL be browsing it more thoroughly.  The home page is a bit on the busy side for my taste (and time) but on my first visit I managed to find my way to the Body Mind & Soul tab toward the top and there discovered Personal Essays.  “True stories” are posted at that link by guest authors.

One essay there inspired me to write this post, my first in a while. Life has been hectic, what can I say?  For about ten days my other half and our daughter were very sick.  Somehow I dodged most of that bullet and still got out of family obligations over Mother’s Day weekend – go me!  In that same month, we visited JD’s biological father and saw his art show (less impressive than it sounds, but not because the art wasn’t outstanding). Then for the last 2 weekends we were moving the daughter into her new place which is about 5 minutes from our house.  That project first involved retrieving her U-Box (U-Haul’s version of mobile storage), unpacking it in near 90 degree heat, and toting the contents (including a sofa, dresser and full file cabinet) up to her second floor apartment. Fun times.

Then that Sunday we visited Mom at the nursing home.  Mom has been improving in leaps and bounds by the way since they took her off oxycodone.  She’s no longer paranoid, and seems like her old self, even recovering her not-so-super power:  Jewish Mother Guilt (more on that later).

Following a week at work we again helped the daughter with moving.  After picking up the rest of her belongings from her old boyfriend’s house we hauled all of that upstairs, went to dinner and the next day went to visit Mom again.  While the other visits aren’t specifically mentioned here, that makes at least 4 weekends in a row we’ve been to see her.  Each time she’s better and better and we are so grateful.

Now Father’s Day is fast approaching and of course the family plans to be together.  Not unusual – a lot of families want to be together, right?  But Father’s Day should be about what the Dad wants shouldn’t it?  That’s me standing up for JD in his desire to NOT be part of the family gathering.  After Dad passed a few years back the day just isn’t the same.  I could elaborate on how it makes JD feel but I’m pretty sure I did that last year.  In any case, he’s one of the fathers in question and he doesn’t want to go, so I don’t think he should have to.

Last Sunday during our visit he even told Mom ahead of time that we weren’t coming to dinner on Father’s Day.  He explained that we’d been extremely busy for the past several weeks – from moving K into her apartment 2 weekends in a row to his older sister’s visit the week before that – and we’re exhausted.  JD said we didn’t know what we were going to do but we needed some down time.  He told me that Mom said it was a good idea.  Then last night we got a call from my sister-in-law on the house phone. I started to ignore it but then thought it could be news about Mom which we wouldn’t want to miss.  B said she was with Mom and Mom wanted to talk to both of us so I put it on speaker.

Enter Jewish Mother Guilt.  She asked whether we were going to a hotel this weekend.  I thought from that opening that she remembered talking with JD about our not being at the family dinner and told her we didn’t know what we were doing.  Either she didn’t remember or she did and chose to ignore it, reminding us that A (our other daughter) had made reservations at a “little Italian” restaurant.  I told her we knew that and that we’d already talked with her.  Mom then said that we should bring K when we come and I had to remind her very clearly that we are not coming.  I repeated what JD had said earlier about being exhausted and just wanting some time to wind down.  We didn’t know whether we’d hole up at home, go for a drive and stay overnight somewhere or what.  She said, and I quote as near as I can remember:

“Okay. Okay.”  There was a brief pause. “Okay.  If you’re happy…okay.”  Sigh.

Cue the hair-pulling, teeth-clenching frustration.  All I said was that yes, we were happy and told her to have fun with the rest of the family.  The call ended almost immediately after that.

We didn’t lie outright about this weekend.  No definitive plans had been made at that point, though we had earlier discussed the possibility of visiting JD’s bio-dad like we did last year.  After the call with Mom, JD got on the phone and confirmed BioDad (now if that doesn’t sound like a superhero name I’m not a geeky gramma) would be home this weekend.

Boy did this ever get off topic…

I started this post meaning to build on the idea in the essay I saw on Sweatpants & Coffee and somehow it evolved into this.  Do you suppose I needed to vent a bit?  Imagine that.

So it looks like I get two posts out of that inspirational true story!  Win-win!

Stay tuned; the next installment will be up soon (fingers crossed).  And whatever your plans for the weekend, enjoy!

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I’m going to hell…

I’ve never made it a secret that I was raised in the Christian faith, though “raised in” is a bit loose for what I really was.  I regularly attended church with my grandma while my grandpa was decidedly less-than-Christian with me at home.  ‘Nuf said about that I think.

Seriously, I believe in God.  I can’t say that I understand him or that I am a consistent follower, but I believe in him and try to make my life choices such that I don’t piss him off.  (See the Old Testament for examples of God’s state of pisseration.  We do NOT want to go there!)  Of course if God were threatened by every television show or film which dissed him I think there’d be a whole lot more plagues going on.  Just saying.  Hey, I never said I was good Christian.

So all of that was the lead-in to this:  I ADORE the new Fox television show Lucifer!

Briefly, Tom Ellis plays Lucifer Morningstar or The Devil.  He’s grown bored with being the Lord of Hell and has taken a vacation to – where else? – Los Angeles, where he owns a night club. He’s charming, incorrigible, and hard to resist.  In fact he’s completely irresistible to everyone except Chloe Decker, a female cop.  Her ability to ignore him fascinates him.  At one point he asks her, “Did my father send you?”

It’s a police procedural slash buddy show which is already rumored to have been cancelled.  In addition, there is apparently a lot of controversy about the show trying to paint Lucifer as a misunderstood but basically good guy.  I didn’t do a lot of research on this but just skimming Google results shows that there are many groups out there who think Lucifer is evidence of how low humanity has sunk.  Some say it mocks the bible. Petitions were begun last year following Fox’s announcement of the show; no one had even seen it yet.  Talk about overreacting.

Coming from a semi-religious background I can sort of see why people of faith might be put off by the show.  But come on people, grow a sense of humor would you?  It’s supposed to be entertainment, not doctrine.  And it’s based on a comic book character, NOT the devil depicted in the bible.

I can understand if they cancel it based on the fact that it’s on the predictable side, not to mention the whole “cop show with a twist” idea hasn’t been too successful of late.  But it’s funny and clever and if it goes away I’ll miss it.  At least till the next funny and clever show comes along.

What I’m reading now

In case you’re interested –

Body & Soul by Frank Conroy.

book cover

From the back cover:

“In the dim light of a basement apartment, six-year-old Claude Rawlings sits at an old white piano, picking out the sounds he has heard on the radio and shutting out the reality of his lonely world.”

Imagine a little boy left alone while his mother goes off to drive a taxi in New York in the 1940s.  Can you put yourself in his place?  Claude spends a lot of time watching people walk back and forth on the sidewalk outside the apartment window.  All he can see is their legs and shoes, but at least it’s something to do.

“An old woman with thin calves, a kid in sneakers, men in wingtips, women in high heels…. If anyone paused he could see detail – straps, eyelets, a worn heel, or cracked leather with the sock showing through – but it was the movement that he liked, the passing parade of color and motion.”

Claude eventually discovers the piano that is stored in the back room where he sleeps.  As the back cover blurb mentions, he begins to copy the music he hears on the radio, filling the long hours his mother is gone.

As novels go, this one starts slow but builds into a very enjoyable read.  Claude is a likeable, genuine character, as is Mr. Weisfeld, a music store proprietor who takes Claude under his wing.  One of my favorite characters though is Al, a furnace man at a ritzy New York apartment building where Claude goes to collect bottles for the refund.  Al’s character develops slowly, almost deceptively.  When he appeared to be leading Claude astray I wasn’t sure I was going to like him.  But Conroy redeems him in my eyes later on and one of my favorite quotes from the book is his.

Al and Claude’s mother, Emma have become friends and the three of them are having dinner when Claude learns that Al’s been unjustly fired.  Claude is accustomed to is mother’s passionate outbursts and overreactions so he is surprised at Al’s calm demeanor.

“I mean, you’re not even angry.  That’s terrible what they did.  It’s outrageous.”

“I’m angry.  I just don’t give in to it.”  He sipped his tea and then put it down.  “Stuff happens all the time.  What’d you call it?  Outrageous.  Outrageous stuff make you so mad you can just burn yourself up with it.  You got to decide if the mad runs you, or you run the mad.”

How wise is that?

I’m not doing the book justice with this post, but it’s worth your time if you like character studies.  I should have finished it long ago but I’m lingering over it, savoring it.  I don’t want it to end.

Oh, and Merry Christmas if you swing that way.

 

A pair of docs walk into a bar…

 

Okay, not my cleverest title ever.  Being frustrated will do that.  I know this diatribe may be long overdue – I have no idea when these originally aired but I only just saw the two episodes of The Flash I’m going to rant about so if you’ve gotten over the disappointment just move along.  Similarly, if you follow The Flash and have not seen the finale of Season 1 and the opener for Season 2 you’ll want to skip this, as there will be spoilers.  If you don’t follow the show you can also disregard this post.  Or not.  I’m not the boss of you (to borrow a line from Wil Wheaton).

Still here?  Alrighty then.

Yes, I am a grandmother and within a month will be 59 years old, but I still like comics, from the comics page of the newspaper to actual graphic novels.  And I especially enjoy the movies and television shows based on said comics. Like the aforementioned Flash.  Unfortunately, suspending disbelief for the sake of entertainment isn’t always easy for me.  While we’re watching a show, my brain insists on jabbing me with snide little comments like “That would never happen in real life” or “You know there aren’t really any zombies, right?”  But I kick my brain to the curb and continue on because the shows are my brief escape from the “real world.”

However, at the end of the Season 1 finale and throughout the Season 2 opening episode of The Flash I couldn’t shut up my stupid brain. The minute Eddie shoots himself my mind starts throwing out the problems with that scenario.  Ever hear of the Grandfather Paradox?  I bet most of you have whether or not you know it by that name. Briefly, if you travel back in time and kill your grandfather before he fathers your parent then you should cease to exist. If you don’t exist to travel back in time to kill him, he lives on and fathers your parent, etc.

If Eddie (who is the great, great – I forget how many greats – grandfather of Eobard Thwane, the time traveler from the future who assumed Dr. Wells’ identity) kills himself before he becomes a father then the future Thwane should not exist, correct?  Well, Thwane disintegrates before everyone’s eyes right?  (See?  Spoiler right there.)  But that isn’t a complete resolution of the paradox.  Shouldn’t everything Thwane did not have been done?  The real Dr. Harrison Wells should still be alive, as should his wife.  Barry’s mother wouldn’t be dead, his father wouldn’t be in prison for killing her and Star Labs wouldn’t be built.  Okay, there could be some debate about that part because the real Dr. Wells intended to build Star Labs, but wasn’t going to be able to do so for some time.  After Thwane killed him and assumed his identity he accelerated the timing for that project in order to get home (back to the future – HA!  See what I did there?).

The writers of the show try to distract you from these paradoxes by creating an unstable black hole which Barry has to stop, and ending the season by killing off another character.

Season 2 opens six months later to find Barry vowing not to put any of his friends in harm’s way ever again.  However, the paradox continues because while Eddie’s sacrifice removed Thwane from existence everyone still remembers him as having existed.  For all intents and purposes, he’s just dead, or I guess, technically Dr. Wells is dead.  But if he never existed how does everyone still remember him?  Why would he need to leave Barry a videotape confessing to the murder of Barry’s mother thus clearing Henry Allen of the crime?  Say it with me:  She. Should. Not. Be. Dead.  And he shouldn’t have been there to make the damned video either!

To continue would be to beat a dead horse, or a dead time traveler if you will.  But I had to get this off my chest, or out of my head or something.  Whether or not I will continue to watch is up in the air.  This may have ruined it for me.  At least the logical part of my brain hopes so.  After working all day in the really real world the escapist in me still looks forward to suspending disbelief, if only for 45 minutes.

Of course I’m way behind on Agents of SHIELD and Arrow, eventually Daredevil will be back and of course I need to get caught up on The Walking Dead!  I hardly think I’d miss The Flash.  Yeah, right.

 

624 Tiny Things to Write About

You’d think since I self identify as a writer that I would have ideas out the wazoo (technical term).  At least one of my favorite bloggers (Craig, I’m looking at you) seems to have a repository of material so large he will never run out things to write about.  Me?  Not so much.  I finally did finish my novel (after many, many years of letting it languish like a Victorian heroine) but I still haven’t found (made) the time for editing.  My brain is full of snippets of ideas, the beginnings of stories, vague character outlines, and the like.  But whenever I try to put them on “paper” they quickly peter out.  Enter the writing prompt.  I’ve followed a few here at WP and even wound up with a decent piece of fiction or two.  But last week I stumbled on a book of inspiration that I just had to share.

I don’t frequent brick and mortar bookstores much any more.  Not by choice, I love to read and I’d buy all my favorites in hard cover if not for that pesky moola requirement.  The public library is my friend both in its brick and mortar ideation and its online persona.  Last week however I decided it was time to get out of the office at lunch and I don’t mean to run errands.  I had a Barnes and Noble gift card from Christmas (or maybe from Mother’s Day) burning a hole in my wallet.  So I did a search for the downtown B&N, found it wasn’t prohibitively far away and headed for the bus stop.

An hour and a bit later I trudged back to the office with sore feet but holding a shopping bag and an icy java chip from the local iconic coffee place.  Sometimes it can be disappointing how little you can get for $25 these days and there were only three items in my bag, three GREAT items!  One was a fancy schmancy 3D birthday card for my sister-in-law’s birthday next week.  Then there was the Disappearing TARDIS mug.  Since I feel safe in saying you’ve probably all seen a version of the “Disappearing” beverage container I won’t share a photo of it here.  Should you not have a clue what I’m talking about let Uncle Google help you with that.

I’m writing about the last item in my shopping bag.  The “book of inspiration” as I described it above:

642 Things

 

There were multiple iterations of this book including titles such as 642 Tiny Things to Draw, 104 Things to Paint, 104 Things to Photograph, etc.  They were shelved in a corner along with the bound journals a lot of stores sell.  The journal with the TARDIS cover had caught my eye and I went over for a closer look.  After examining it my eye fell on the one you see here and I picked it up to skim through.  Now this was interesting.  Here, see if you agree:

nicknames

 

 

 

And then there was this.

I can think of a few choice nicknames these days.

 

 

 

 

Some of the other prompts include:

  • Beefsteak tomatoes or cherry tomatoes? Why?
  • Describe your style today in two words.
  • Pick a state you’ve never been to. Explain why you’re moving there.
  • Frankenstein’s best actor acceptance speech.
  • The passenger safety instructions card for a stagecoach.

I’m keeping the book at my desk, within easy reach if I have a moment of boredom or things get slow.  (You can’t hear the maniacal laughter echoing in my head but trust me, it’s there.)  For now the book resides on my desk among my toys and near the Juicy Fruit so others can witness it and perhaps jot down a thought or three if they are so inclined.  Who after all could resist responding to this gem?

Write about the first moment you knew you could kiss well.

 

And my style today?  I’d have to say shabby chic.

 

Eli Stone: A Review

Or maybe I should just call it like I see it – WATCH THIS SHOW!

Television shows come and go.  Some are more popular than others, obviously.  Not that that assures them of a long tenure on the air.  (Firefly rocked but the people in charge dropped it anyway damn it.)

I’ve followed quite a lot of TV shows over the years, from Joan of Arcadia, Farscape and Dead Like Me to The Walking Dead and Orphan Black.  While I enjoy The Big Bang Theory, I’m not often a fan of the sitcoms airing these days.  Co-workers have raved about some of them so I’ve had JD look them up online and given them a look-see only to be disappointed at how lame I find them.  What happened?  Where are the shows like M*A*S*H and Night Court?  When I look back at Night Court now, even though it does seem silly, I still laugh out loud at scenes like the one where Roz has tied Dan Fielding into a human pretzel.

More recently, JD stumbled across a show online that he thought looked interesting.  Since it only lasted two seasons, he saved both of them so we could check it out.

Oh my goodness!  Why didn’t this program last longer than two seasons?!  It only took one episode to hook me; I had to see the next one, and the next.  I let my other shows linger in limbo while we binged on 20-something episodes over the course of several days (I can only watch a couple hours after work before I have to hit the sack).  As we neared the end I started slowing down and including other programs between episodes.  I didn’t want it to end!  Knowing it was truly the end — of the show — not just the season, was heartbreaking.  Okay, that might be a tad of an exaggeration.  But I really loved the show, the characters, the stories, the premise itself!  And part of me dreaded how they ended it.  Would it have closure?  Were they given enough notice to tie up loose ends or wind up the storyline?

No spoilers here folks; watch it yourself and find out.  But to whet your appetites, here are two videos which will give you an idea of what the show is all about.  If it turns out I’m the only one who found this entertaining, then I guess we’ll know why it wasn’t around very long.  But that won’t change that I love this show.  So much that I’ll probably watch both seasons again.  And again.