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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Oh, the shame of it. I think I’m a bad mother.

My son, who’s 5, is obsessed with cars and his X-Box 360, so of course driving games are his all-time favorite form of entertainment. One of them is Burnout Paradise (which, gods help us, has unfortunately graced our household with its theme song, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Paradise City,” WAY too many times). It includes several cars that adults can easily recognize as knockoffs of famous vehicles from movies and television shows: Kitt from KnightRider, the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, etc. It’s amusing.

One of them is a hovercar that’s an homage to the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future. I’m awfully fond of Back to the Future (and yeah Huey Lewis too—wanna make something of it?), and I realized that my son might enjoy watching the movie. Heck, I thought, I would enjoy watching the movie—it had been quite a while since I’d seen it.

Strangely enough, it wasn’t available on iTunes and wasn’t coming up anywhere on the TiVo schedule, so I figured we could pony up the money to get a copy. I was sure that if we owned it, the kidlet would watch it enough times to justify the purchase.

So we picked up the DVD and popped it in late Friday afternoon. (more…)

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A friend of mine I’ve known most of my life once told me I tend to live my life in boxes.

She didn’t mean it in an accusatory way—there was no chastisement attached; she was just making an observation. And when I thought about it, I realized she was right: Whatever constitutes my life at any given time, I live in that box and nowhere else. Everything is in there, self contained: job, friends, mindset—all related—and all with sole influence over whoever I am at the time and whatever life lesson I’m learning. I throw myself into that box wholeheartedly, and I don’t look beyond what I’m doing right then.

And when that phase of my life ends, as it always does, I pack up the box, close up the flaps, tape it shut, and shove it away into my memory, which of course bears a remarkable resemblance to the government warehouse in the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don’t look back (as far as anybody knows), I don’t get nostalgic; I remember the time fondly (or not so fondly) and move on to my next box, which I throw myself into wholeheartedly once again, with equal intensity to the previous box, soon to be matched in intensity for the following box.

Okay, enough about boxes. You get the idea.

I’ve never had a problem with living my life that way; I’ve always felt that when I’m done with a phase of my life, it’s okay to let it go. I learned whatever I was supposed to learn, or I did whatever job I was supposed to complete, or I helped someone I was supposed to help—I completed whatever task was required of me and I was free to go. You know—kind of like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap. “I’m done; can I leap out now?” Mmm…Scott Bakula…

Wait. Where was I? Oh yeah.

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Oh goodness gracious, I actually wrote it. In the headline even. I must be insane. Defend Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace, nearly inarguably the most hated film character in the past 10 years…perhaps in the entire history of moviemaking? In public?!

But I am here to set the record straight for the poor schlub. As an ardent Star Wars fan, I feel it’s my duty. I have recently seen the light and feel compelled to clear poor Jar Jar’s name.

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I saw a Christmas tree at the curb just the other day. In the middle of February. And it hadn’t emerged from a melted snow mound, either. It had been put out just then. And I thought it was fantastic, especially in our neighborhood.

Let me explain: We have a lot of neighbors who are are very…efficient. Many of them are retirees with a lot of time on their hands, and gods bless ’em, that’s great—more power to ’em. But sometimes that makes them too efficient—and makes the rest of us feel a little inadequate.

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Penelope Pitstop

Penelope Pitstop

This morning, my mother fired the latest volley in her ongoing “you need a new car” campaign. I don’t remember what she said; I wasn’t really listening. That’s mainly because I’ve heard it all before; her campaign has been going on for quite some time.

Let me back up a bit. In June 2000, I did the unthinkable. I bought a new car. It wasn’t economical; it wasn’t used; it wasn’t a practical, modest sedan. I bought my first—and so far only—new car: a brand new, fresh-from-the-factory, made-just-for-me Jeep Wrangler. Silver grey and black, automatic (I never did learn to drive manual), CD player (quite a big deal nine years ago), both hard AND soft top (I thought the soft top wouldn’t hold up to our frigid winter temps—I was wrong and if I had the chance to do it again, I’d skip the hard top).

When I fired it up for the first time, I saw that it had 2 miles on the odometer. TWO. I could have spontaneously combusted, I was so ecstatic.

Why? Let me back up a bit more. My uncle (my mother’s brother) was a car guy. He first sold Pontiacs after he came home from World War II, and then, in the mid-1950s, he opened his own dealership: Oldsmobiles. Hey, they were cool then.

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We went sledding last weekend. I’ll be honest; I didn’t want to go. It was phenomenally cold, and my back ached. These old bones were begging me to stay inside by the woodstove.

But we have a 5-year-old son who would rot his brain playing video games if we didn’t drag him out of the house, and it looked like major brain-rotting was his plan for the weekend. It had to be done.

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I’m 7!

…Okay, I’m actually 43.

But this age is kind of unremarkable, on the surface. It doesn’t quite have the zing, the panache, of 21, or 30, or even 40. It’s a lot more bland.

43. Whoopee.

When I was 37, I could quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

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