Sunday, May 31, 2009

Men in Maine

Since I've been thinking this past week about coincidences, my mind is working harder to notice them. Today I encountered another coincidence. I just started a book in the early-morning hours of the day (circa 1 a.m.) and then watched a movie about 11 hours later, and both concerned the prospect of a man returning home to Maine to take over the family business. Both men would be leaving their lives as writers, leaving behind their efforts to make their ways in the world by making use of their creative talents. In the book, "Empire Falls," the guy does go back to Maine. In his case, the family business concerns textiles. He thinks that it will be hard to put aside his true passions and suck it up, but finds out it's not that hard. The other guy, played by Ron Livingston in the movie "Two Ninas," really doesn't want to go back and doesn't go back. The movie never reveals what type of business he'd be entering into with his family in Maine. He continues to try to make a living in New York City as a writer, trying to find a publisher for the novel he's written. I tried to like the movie, but it had no substance. I tried to like Ron Livingston's character, which is usually extremely easy for me, but I found this character annoying, trite and pathetic. Sorry, Mr. Livingston. I'm still waiting for the Fox series Standoff that he starred in to come out on DVD, since I didn't get to see any of the episodes in its short life on TV. I don't think it's going to happen.

Friday, May 29, 2009

One or the other? Or Shades of Gray?

I've been wondering: how often is it that confident people are not just confident, but are arrogant and cocky and are uplifted by looking down on other people? Are there a lot of people who seem to lack confidence, but are judgmental and look down on everyone, including themselves? How often is it that confident-appearing people are not confident, but have decided to act that way anyway? And when someone is not confident in a given situation, is it because the person senses that people are looking down on him and judging him negatively? In an ideal world, people are confident because they believe in themselves and are happy about themselves, and are understanding and accepting of everyone. That is happiness.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Yesterday I found "Barrel of Monkeys" at the grocery store. What about that game doesn't appeal to someone? Happy, laughing monkeys made textured like illustrated hair and the goofiest long arms that link to one another indefinitely in a chain of square-dance camaraderie? Good as a solitary game, or for two or more players. Thank you, Milton Bradley. You and your barrel of monkeys will provide me endless happiness.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two Will Ferrell Flicks

Recently I watched two Will Ferrell movies, one that was an incredible waste of time and the other that was actually pretty good. The first one I watched, The Legend of Ron Burgundy, put me to sleep, which is probably just the classic passive-aggressive rating I have for, "This movie has nothing going for it and there's no reason for me to stick around for the ending, and I'd have a much better time resting my heavy, heavy ... eyeszzzzz ..." The jokes were pretty bad. By the time I fell asleep, I was thinking to myself that Will Ferrell has really not been in any funny movies whatsoever. Since this was about news anchors battling over news stories, and I have an interest in journalism, I thought that at least that part would interest me. It took place in the 1970s when females apparently were not news anchors, and Christina Applegate's character was trying to break into traditionally male territory. I don't know if the ending would have made the whole movie worthwhile or not, because I just couldn't make it that far.
Even though my mind was made up about Will Ferrell being not funny at all, I nevertheless gave "Old School" a chance. I didn't think that the back story would interest me that much -- a bunch of guys trying to fit in as a fraternity on fraternity row, but Luke Wilson's character had depth. He was intelligent, a little reserved, and didn't mind getting into the fun and wasn't completely rejecting the let's-be-a-fraternity-even-though-we're-not-in-college idea. And Will Ferrell actually made me laugh. Out loud. I could pity him and laugh at his jokes and understand him at all different parts in the movie, which is what the viewer is supposed to feel. It worked.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I watched a pretty good movie today called "Puccini for Beginners." It was an independent film and called itself a "screwball comedy." When I think of screwball comedies, I think of slapstick, Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges. Puccini for Beginners was nothing like that. One line I liked from the movie, which I would have appreciated before I watched the movie if only I studied Freudian psychology a little more than I have, is a line along the lines of something like, "Freud said there are no such things as coincidences. Our minds create coincidences."
Real-Life Application, Coincidence #1:
I was thinking back to that once coincidence I had a few months ago, when I went to Ann Arbor, and I heard from my friend who I hardly ever hear from while there. A few years before that, I was in Ann Arbor and the same friend who hardly ever contacts me called me while I was there then. I thought to myself, "how is that not a natural coincidence?" Then I turned it around on myself and realized there have been more times than just two Ann Arbor trips that my friend has contacted me out of the blue, after not having heard from him in awhile. Does that make it any less of a coincidence? Why did I even remember that he contacted me twice while I was in Ann Arbor? What difference does it make? How many times have I been to Ann Arbor? Three? It's not a coincidence at all. He didn't contact me the first time I went. Or did he?
Real-Life Application, Coincidence #2:
What about running into the same people all the time, strangers or not? What if I run into almost all the same people all the time, but only the people I see as interesting are the ones I keep noticing, which makes it feel like a coincidence? Help me, Freud! What if I could keep track of everyone I've ever seen at the grocery store and the park and at work and in the neighborhood and at parties and restaurants and schools and bike riding and whitewater rafting and at stores and at the beach and ... ? Maybe my brain has the capacity to track such coincidences, and I'm not using it to its capacity. Which brings me to my next set of questions, why do scientists say we use only a small portion of our brains? If it's true, why don't we use the rest of our brains? How do we do we expand? What else can my brain do?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Don't Read This Book? Read This Book? Don't Read This Book?

Go Ask Alice is in the young adult category of books. Here I am, an almost-middle-aged adult, reading it for the first time, and I am traumatized and disturbed. Someone recommended it as reading for teenagers to scare them from using drugs. The book jacket basically says that too. I agree that it might do that, but I am just saddened and upset after finishing it. At first I thought I was reading an actual diary of the anonymous writer, but after I finished the book, I re-read the introduction and it said the book is based on the diary of a 15-year-old girl who has a drug problem. Later I read that the book's authorship is controversial, and that the diary might instead be based on a psychologist's re-telling of the stories of a group of children who have had traumatic and drug-addled backgrounds. I'm still trying to decide if I'm sorry I even read it or not. What kept me reading was that I thought that surely it would have a positive ending. That book led me to such depths of despair that I had never before experienced. At least I have a comedy to watch from Netflix waiting for me. Ugh.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Vendetta's Capture

Friday night I fell asleep on the couch while watching TV. At some point during my late-evening nap, the cat jumped on my stomach and started kneading me with her half-sharpened claws and heaviness. She weighs 12 pounds and she can really weigh a person down when she's looking for a comfortable place to rest. Later, when I woke up again, I groggily got to my feet and saw that she was crouching on the floor next to the bottom of the couch, in attack mode, and pawing at the bottom edges of the upholstery at the bottom of the couch. I wondered if she was playing with the hamster Vendetta, who had escaped from her cage earlier that morning. I thought this might be my chance to return the wild pet to its proper resting place and maybe even achieve a minor hero status for a few minutes with the other members of the household. I realized if I had to chase it around, I might never get back to the restful sleep I had on the couch. At any rate, I moved the couch back and forth and spotted the hamster hiding underneath, going along with the movements of the couch. After about the fifth time I moved the couch, and, after trapping the cat in the bathroom, the hamster ran out. I spotted Vendetta running behind the couch. "This is my chance! It could be my only chance!" I thought eagerly. My hands pounced on her body, but she did a dive down the stairs, beneath and beside the living room floor. I heard a "clunk" as it landed on the stairs about four or five feet below. I ran around and down the stairs, and couldn't see Vendetta anywhere. I looked all around the barren stairs. Nothing. I went further down the split-level levels, examining the bathroom floor and family room floor below. I checked under the downstairs couch. Nothing. I checked under all the furniture. Where could a hamster have gone after falling down the stairs in about 30 seconds? my groggy brain wondered. I examined the shoes by the front door, and Vendetta was peeking at me with the protection of about 15 pairs of shoes all around her in a big mountain fortress. I formulated a plan to trap her inside one of my big shoes and run her back into her cage. After about 10 tries of me moving shoes around to get to her, she ran toward me, past me, and to the wall, where she was trapped. I tried to get her to run into my shoe a few times, but she resisted. Finally she had no other choice. She had to enter my Clarks. I put my hand over the open top and bolted up the stairs and into her room, telling her, "don't move." She ran into her cage where I deposited her, and she immediately ran to her water bottle and gulped away for awhile. Ahh ... victory ... now I could go to bed. It took about an hour to settle down, but I did it. The cat got to come out of the bathroom. She sniffed around for awhile and checked back under the couch.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not Enough Drama In Our Lives

Meecutio, calling Franjessca: I'm going to see some stuff tonight. Wanna come?
Franjessca: No, I'm going to a party; otherwise I would come. I normally don't have anything going on.
Meecutio: Oh ... OK ... well, I can ask more people.
Franjessca: See you next week.
Meecutio: OK, bye bye.
(Meecutio and Franjessca hang up.)
Meecutio, calling Suchanderina: Hello, Suchanderina. How are you today? I'm going to see some stuff tonight. Wanna come?
(Leaves message and hangs up.)
Meecutio, calling Mellsopam: Hello, Mellso, I heard you were in town and thought you might want to do something.
Mellso: Yes, I am glad you called. I'm with my sister at the hospital. The doctors have just induced labor on her and she's about to give birth. I can't talk right now, but I'll call you back.
Meecutio: Oh, OK. Talk to you later, then. Enjoy baby time. Hee hee. Bye.
(Mellso and Meecutio hang up.)
Meecutio, calling Djeneba: Hello, Djeneba. I just thought I'd call and see how things are going. I hope you're doing well.
(Leaves message and hangs up.)
Meecutio, dejected, can't bear additional rejection so avoids calling other people she knows, watches a movie, eats popcorn, makes salad and whistles to the tune of "Uncle John's Band."

Thursday, May 14, 2009


We've added a few improvements to our home, including a chime made of spoons and a fork, and a bird feeder that brings small brown birds, doves, cardinals, and bluejays to our yard. It's fun to watch birds come visit for our little snack we offer. And I used to think bird feeders and bird guests were completely uninteresting. How could I have let that happen? A few days ago I saw a tiny hummingbird and a pair of orioles high in the treetops, and I felt like my world was suddenly so much bigger. My grandmother used to call us excitedly to her kitchen window overlooking her back yard when something unusual landed in the birdbath. Sometimes she'd try to take pictures. I thought that she must have been really bored.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Yesterday I got to a lovely picnic, with fires and good food and friends and family. The day before that I got to accept an award for being a mother. The award was actually named "Single Mother of the Year." That ought to be a prime consideration for you single gentlemen out there. Just put that away in the back of your head somewhere if you're not a single gentleman. Or just revel in the amazement of me receiving such an award. OK stop now, that's too much. I felt kind of bad almost immediately after I received the award. At the award ceremony, I ran into someone I went to high school with, someone who I thought was always kind, funny, easygoing and lighthearted. I hadn't seen her in about 20 years. Her daughter was having a meltdown in the grass because she wasn't getting something she wanted. She said to me, "I'll never get a mother-of-the-year award; my kids are ..." and then she started listing a bunch of negative things that were relatively minor, but things a mother might spend too much time worrying about nonetheless. In a way it made me appreciate getting the award a little more; and in another way it helped me realize how it's so easy to look at other peoples' accomplishments and feel jealous, and that only knowing one tiny little portion of a story that might seem good but is really pretty unremarkable and also contains the unseen tales of heartbreaks, hardships, plenty of roadblocks, and endless struggle, casts a much different light, depending on the angle.