Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Seven

What is this Saturday Seven? My friend Lizz over at Am I a Funny Girl? began Saturday Seven earlier this year in an effort to blog more this year by pulling prompts from the book List Yourself: Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery. She’s invited friends to blog along, so here I go!

List mentors, dead or alive, you wish you could have access to.

1. Martha Stewart. She’s iconic. She’s a mogul. She’s my hero. Except for that whole stint up the river. If anyone is to be the poster child for rehabilitated criminals, it’s her. I seriously contemplated applying to her season of The Apprentice. Even more seriously than when I contemplated applying for the Bachelor the season Bob (of the Bachelorette fame) was up for grabs. I liked Bob a lot.

Where was I? Oh right.

Sometimes I still find myself looking at jobs with her company even though there’s less than zero chance my husband would agree to move our family clear across the country to NYC (I’m not even sure that he would agree to ever visit there). Most times I find I’m far inferior in talent and/or experience for most openings.

2. Julia Child. Talk about a groundbreaker. I remember watching her T.V. show with my mom and thinking she sounded funny. Half the time I couldn’t understand what she was saying. But now I’d like to eat, drink and be merry while learning all she has to share about…everything!

3. Giada De Laurentiis. Are you starting to see a trend?

I thought the first season of her show on the Food Network was abysmal. Not because she made bad food, but because she was so stiff, so unnatural in front of the camera. It was painful to watch. But back then I didn’t know she was descended from Hollywood royalty. Thank goodness she loosened up and came into her own, otherwise I would have been one short for this list.

While she hasn’t been as successful with the branding thing like Martha, I would love to cook with her and learn about life as a chef…who isn’t a restaurateur. And let’s face it, I’d LOVE to go shopping with her. In Italy.

4. The Pioneer Woman. I was a late arrival on the PW wagon trail. I was only introduced to her right when I returned to work after maternity leave in January 2010. Her love story, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels was so endearing and utterly hilarious. All I did the first week back in the office was read that story!

PW’s smart, witty and became a published cookbook author from the comfort of her Oklahoma cattle ranch.

5. My grandparents. (the ones who passed on before I could truly appreciate them).

My Farfar (that’s father’s father in Swedish). He passed before I was even a glimmer in my parents’ eyes. And even though he was practically a stranger even to my own father, I would have liked to have known him. I’m told he played the banjo and I’ve always wondered if that’s where my musicality came from. I’m not sure there’s much of anything else I could have learned from him, but isn’t the banjo enough?

My grampa. He passed away the day before my 19th birthday. He was a deeply religious man and a sports fanatic, especially for the Cubbies. And even though I had 19 years to spend with him, I feel like I didn’t really know him and my gut tells me I didn’t get to learn enough from him.

My Farmor (that’s father’s mother in Swedish). While I got much more time with her (she passed when I was just shy of 22) I resisted learning things from her that are important to me now. She was a single mom to two kids and worked as a nurse until she was in her 70s! And she still managed to keep so many Swedish traditions alive. My biggest regret is that I never learned how to make some of the traditional Swedish baked goods that she always had on hand. She was also unbelievable with a crochet needle. She tried to teach me both, but I didn’t have the patience for either at the times she tried.

6. Martha Graham. I didn’t dance enough when I could. I mean, I still can physically, it’s just not practical. I’m sure Martha would teach me otherwise.

7. Mireille Guiliano. Business woman. French. Not fat. I aspire to be two out of three of those things. She headed up Veuve Clicqot. She wrote a diet book (or three) and a fourth on women in business.

I don't know how the women on my list do it. Do it all and then some. I'd love their help figuring it out!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Something Much Heavier (an Op Ed)

Yesterday morning, an online petition started circulating among some of the women in my social network. The petition seeks an apology from the NY Times for this article that, in the mind of the petition organizer, inappropriate spin.

The NY Times reports the news. The journalist’s job, nay duty, is to retell the facts that make up that news. Certainly there is a call to find a compelling angle on a news story, but that doesn’t mean add a “spin.” Journalists are not supposed to proselytize for or against any particular viewpoint. They are supposed to be objective observers. And in my opinion, this particular journalist did just that.

There is no question that rape is tragic. No person deserves to be victimized in any way, the most horrific way being sexually. There is no disputing that rape is life altering for the victim. And, in some form, it irreparably changes the lives of the accused, despite guilt or innocence.

The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions.

I think that all too often we forget that bystanders are also affected by crime. We are mystified, left to wonder, “how could someone do that?” or, “what’s wrong with people?” and, the thought resonating in my mind lately, “how did we get to the point in this society that people are capable of ____?” In this instance the gang rape of an 11 year old girl.

I think we need to consider that sentiment when reading the NYT article about this small Texas town, rather than presume that the author is further victimizing the victim by his report. There was no report that people had actually said she had it coming, although admittedly the sentiment could be readily inferred by the account of the victim’s appearance. But I don’t believe that the reader should automatically make that inference.

How could their young men have been drawn into such an act?

As a mother to a boy, I would wonder the same thing. How did I fail my son in such a basic way that he thought it would be OK to participate in this type of activity, this horrendous crime, this depraved act? How could he even be associated with those who were implicated?

There have been 18 boys and men charged in this case. How did 18 sons of this small town allegedly participate in this atrocity? Was it nature or nurture that failed them and, in turn, their young victim? Or, is the peer pressure to follow the herd just that strong nowadays?

I have no illusions; there is undoubtedly people in that town that might be of the opinion that the girl had put herself in a compromising position by running with a much older crowd, predominately male. Was it imprudent? Sure. But that in no way condones or sanctions the actions of those boys and men. This should have never happened.

“I really wish that this could end in a better light.”

So the victim is now left to heal, while the accused are left to contemplate their wantonness and agonize over their fates. And the community is left to reconcile this atrocity that occurred right within their midst. And they probably will never make any sense of it; there is no bright side.

We should be up in arms over this. Not because some journalist made an astute account of the irreconcilable situation in a small town in East Texas, but because we are failing our boys and our girls. Failing to teach them to respect themselves and respect each other, failing to teach them basic common decency. That is something worth fighting for.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Speaking Of…

As I struggled to fall asleep last night, my thoughts continued to turn to my dreams (not those abstract aspirations, but that shit the brain comes up with when you sleep). In general, the characters we meet in our dreams. And more specifically the celebrities!

I can’t recall having too many celebridreams, but here they are (in no particular order) to the best of my recollection:

1. Joel McHale. He invaded my dreams just a few weeks ago. Fella and I started catching Community while the networks were on the holiday break (or whatever) and showing repeats of the shows we world normally watch instead. Which also got us, or rather me, since Fella is a notorious couch narcolept, into The Soup on Friday nights as well. (Actually, I started trying to catch the repeats on Saturday morning while I was nursing 4.0 before he became to distractible to nurse in front of the tele).

Boobs! I digress.

Anyway, in my dream, JMcH was all smoldery like his character on Community can be and I was quite smitten. Not really a departure from real life, I’m pretty smitten with him. It’s no secret I like the mens who can make me laugh.

2. Pavement. They’re a band, folks. (Were a band?) Are a band! According to Wikipedia, they are once again a band. A touring band. Maybe.

Where was I?

So I had this dream that I was at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. And I was sitting in the middle section of the seat-area. Strange, because in real life, I have never, ever sat in the seats; I’m a lawn section kinda girl.

But then I realize I’m not just in the seats, I’m in the area where the sound & light boards are. And it turns out I’M WITH THE FUCKING BAND. Like, the singer is my boyfriend or something. And during the show he pulls me onstage and I perform with them. And it was awesome.

As much as the following admission may strip me of my newly acquired indie rock rep for not only knowing who Pavement is (was?), but dreaming about them to boot, I only own one of their albums (as long as it wasn’t stolen somewhere along the way). And I’ve never seen them live. And I probably wouldn’t be able to pick out any of the band members from a lineup to save my life.

But it was still a pretty sweet dream. I mean, it’s no secret I like the mens who play the music. It’s also no secret that when I was youmger I wanted to be a performer, especially one who sang. Two birds, one dream.

3. John Goodman. This might rank as the second most bizarre dream I have ever had in my life. I wish I had some sort of real-life context for it, like I was watching a lot of Roseanne reruns at the time or something, but there’s absolutely nothing.

So in my dream, John Goodman was the dad of some faceless, nameless friend of mine. And somehow he and I became…involved. Yes, that kind of involved. I had a sexy dream about John Goodman. And, while chubby myself, I am totally not a chubby-chaser (Fella is string bean-ish, as was Stark from my previous post).

And that’s all I have to say about that.

4. God. Now this is the number one most bizarre dream I, in all my 33 years, have ever had.

I dreamed that I died. And I went to heaven and all that. It was nice. Comfortable. Like my living room. And I had friends there. But ultimately I was sad--I missed my family.

So God said unto me: “I guess you weren’t ready for this after all,” and sent me back to life on earth.

And ever since I have wondered: was it just a dream? Or did I actually die in my sleep and, well, you know the rest?

My rather religious mom chose the just-a-dream theory. Probably more because she’s my mom and couldn’t deal with the thought that her daughter had died in her sleep. Even if God spoke to her. And in heaven of all places!

So those are my celebridreams. Which celebrities invade your dreams?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Strange Dream

Last night I had a pretty bizarre dream. I was with a guy I dated* in college, in his present day kitchen. We were bantering and flirting while he made breakfast. Then in walks this hot, fit blonde chick with the haircut I’ll be getting soon. I’m like, who is this broad?

So I assert my dominance and speak first. “Hi, I’m Michelle.”

“Oh, hi! I’m Michelle; Stark** is my boyfriend,” she explains.


“Oh, he…didn’t…mention. Well, my boyfrien--I mean, husband, Fella, is just getting ready in the bedroom.”

What??? Were we vacationing with him, er, them or something?!

That's pretty much it. It wasn’t a very involved or convoluted dream or anything (except perhaps the thinner, hotter version of me with the same name) but it was vivid and just strange. I hope I wasn’t talking in my sleep during the banter/flirt portion of the dream. That would be interesting to explain to Fella:

“Uh…well, uh…I was dreaming that I was flirting with this guy I used to make out with in college. In his kitchen.”

“You used to make out with this guy in his kitchen? That explains some things.”

“No! We were flirting in his kitchen. While he was making me breakfast."


“But you were there, too. So was his thinner, hotter version-of-me-with-shorter-hair girlfriend.”

Interpret that!

*I use the term “dated” loosely. He and I never actually went on a bona fide date. But he was the first boy I made out with at college. And over the 3+ years before I dropped out, we had an on-again, off-again “relationship” where we hung out a little and made out a lot. We kept in touch after I moved home and last e-mailed each other as recently as 2004. Wow, that was almost 7 years ago--not recent at all! I think about adding him as a friend on FB, but the insecure 18 year old me gets in the way every time.

**Names have been changed to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent alike.