Poison Ivy & Monty Python and the Holy Grail: an allegory

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This is what I presented to my doctor this afternoon. This is after the standard six-day course of prednisone. Yeah, that rash basically looked that steriod directly in the face, said insulting things about its mother, and then farted in its general direction. And the medication basically retreated all King Arthur ala Monty Python-like, leaving the rash the battlefield to do as it pleased to my body.

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Miserable coward.

So, I went to the doctor and she gave me something a bit more formidable. Something bigger and a lot less wussy, something more along the lines of Tim the Enchanter.

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Hells, YEAH! Now we’re talkin!

So, instead of a measly 84 mg of prednisone over six days, now I get 510 mg over 14 days. And a side of hydroxyzine to help with the itching. I like to think of it as the Killer Rabbit at the Cave of Caerbannog, keeping the rash huddled in fear lest it think about advancing any further across my body.

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This bunny will straight-up rip out your jugular.

As if Tim and the Killer Rabbit weren’t enough, my doctor complimented my sandals. She’s a good doctor.

I can see that my association with Tim and the Rabbit over the next two weeks is going to be interesting. Tim can cause insomnia while the Rabbit may induce drowsiness. So far I feel completely wired. Honestly, if I could go out and run a 5k, then fight the Black Knight, then organize all my closets tonight, I would.

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I noticed even with the wimpy King Aurthur dose, that I wanted to eat everything. Or maybe it was just something. Something that I couldn’t exactly put my finger on, dammit. Well, the craving is back with a vengeance, and we are talking a powerful ambiguous craving that not even Taco Bell could satisfy. Tonight I am dying for a chocolate chip cookie, which I don’t have in the house right now. So I satisfied my sweet tooth by drinking two cups of sweet, warm tea and eating cool whip straight from the bowl. I may need some kind of intervention by the end of the week if I don’t find a way to satisfy this craving.

Tim can make people puffy, and I feel it in my elbows and knees. He can also cause acne. As if my skin needed any more attacks. Why don’t you just catapult a cow at me while you’re at it.

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Whose side are you on anyway, Tim?

After just the first day with the higher dosage and anti-itch medication, I’m feeling better. At least, I’m not itching as much. Tomorrow morning will be interesting, since I usually have several patches of “new” rash when I wake up.

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The doctor says it may take a month before it all clears up. I guess I can wait.

Until then, gang, stay cool and watch funny movies!

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Uncool.

I am terminally uncool. I know this. Consider the evidence.

Exhibit A: My kids’ initials spell G.E.E.K.  That was totally unintentionally done, but now that it is so, I have a necklace that proclaims it. I’ll post a pic and a link someday when I’ve showered and don’t look like what I am–a summer SAHM mom who doesn’t give a rat’s patootie what I look like when I’m blogging in my basement.

Exhibit B: Little Miss G is ever so slowly giving up her Nickelodeon crap for this: <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/uvwCLGCozIk“>The best science-fiction-fantasy series going right now. And it’s British! YAY! I really have to thank my brother for this. If he didn’t come and commandeer our television at least once a week, none of us would have taken the time to watch. I’m ashamed of this, because staying up late with my dad on Sunday nights to watch this Doctor <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/PwkYhLiY_fM“> is one of my fondest childhood rituals.

Exhibit C: I went to this guy’s concert last Friday, and loved every single minute. Every time I hear a Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, or Katy Perry song, I want to stab myself in the ear, but this? This is good stuff. I’ve been humming this song all weekend.

Guilty as charged.

Pick-a-Flick.

This was the name of a video rental store when I was a kid. Twenty-eight years ago, video stores were scattered throughout the area–not every town had one. I remember as a kid going with my dad to these video stores. Most of them were small and rather seedy joints, dimly lit and smelling of dust. This was long before big chains like Blockbuster, when you would peruse the shelves and your choices were Beta or VHS. When we first got our VCR, the first two movies we purchased were Footloose and Romancing the Stone, and to this day, both of those movies have a solid place in my childhood. My dad, though he is rather quiet and reserved, passed on a love of stories and movies to my brother and me. Quality time with dad meant sitting in a dark theater with a popcorn and a soda, or curling up on the couch with popcorn and rootbeer sundaes, and so, there are certain movies I love because of their connection to my childhood and my dad. In addition to the aforementioned two, there are also:

Star Wars IV-VI — I know I am not alone in this, but these movies, in my opinion, simply cannot be touched. I know there are some that are technically better, and I know that other episodic storylines have rivalled its greatness (LOTR, Star Trek, HP), but for me SW has a certain something that will always hold it head-and-shoulders above the rest–probably because it was the first story in which I knew and loved the characters over a period of time. I was invested in their futures and their destinies. I cared about them.

Star Trek – I suspect this is my dad’s favorite, and why not? The story kept reinventing itself in The Next Generation and Deep Space IX in new and interesting ways. Plus, it was much more accessible than Star Wars, pumping out far more movies, three television series, and seriel books with regularity over the course of three (or so) decades. The Wrath of Khan has the distinct honor of being the first movie to Freak my !@#$ Out AND make me cry. At the beginning of the movie, when Khan put those black weavel-things in those guys’ helmets and the weavel-things crawled into the guys’ ears and the guys fell to the ground screaming in pain and the weavel-thing crawled out again all bloody…OMG! My 7 year-old self just freaked the FREAK OUT. It was awesome. But at the end, when Spock sacrifices himself to save The Enterprise, I cried… quite unconsolibly. The irony that Bones was the one who tried to stop him, that Spock saved Bones’ life despite the fact that Bones and Spock had a rather antagonistic relationship, was not lost on my young self… and that’s a mark of good story telling right there.

The Little Rascals, “The Kid from Borneo” episode – Okay, I watch it now and I cringe at the fact that a black man is supposedly the “wild man.” Please don’t lambast my eight-year-old self for lacking the social-conscience to see the inherent racism. My brother and I just thought it was wildly hysterical to watch him eat everything in the refridgerator and get shot in the butt with a roman candle. “Yum-yum. Eat ’em up!”

the original The Parent Trap – Yes, the remake with Lindsey Lohan, Miranda Richardson and Dennis Quaid is very good. But in my heart they will never rise to Hayley Mills, Maureen O’Hara (come on! It’s Maureen O’Hara!!), and Brian Keith (who was quite dreamy and had a sexy voice as well). I love the scene in the 1961 version in which Grandfather McKindrick uses reverse psychology to trick Maggie into getting a makeover before she flies to California to reunite with Sharon and Mitch. I also love how Pastor Mosby is so genial and doesn’t seem to mind the hijinks that is carrying on in poor Mitch’s confusion as to why, days before his marriage to Vicki, his ex-wife has suddenly appeared on his patio in his bathrobe. It’s a classic scene. To be fair, in the 1996 verion, the scene in which Hallie is reunited with her mother on the staircase of the James’ London home gives me goodbumps every single time. But while we’re on the subject of Hayley Mills…

The Trouble With Angels – I’ll admit, if you’re flipping through channels on a Saturday afternoon, this is a really easy one to skip over. But you shouldn’t. For one thing, it’s funny. Not in a belly-laugh way, but in a charming way. For a goody-two-shoes like I was, it was fun to live vicariously through Rachel and Mary’s troublemaking. More than that, though, it’s an excellent story about forging a friendship, finding one’s purpose, disappointment, struggling with faith as a seeker and as a believer, and discovering oneself on a path that was never expected. My favorite feature of the story, though, is that it touches on, but does not seek to reveal, the mystery that compels Christians to sometimes make “sacrifices” in obedience to God that is difficult for others to understand. It’s sequel, though, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows? Don’t bother. Really.

Can’t Buy Me Love – This movie came out the summer I turned 12, and it is one of the last movies I can remember seeing with my dad before it became cooler to go to movies with my friends. Now dad and I go to the movies together. 🙂 I still remember that just as dad and I were settling in and the previews were starting, I spilled my Sprite all over myself. It was summer, and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. As you know, they keep movie theaters nice and cold in the summer, so I shivered all the way through the movie because there was no way my dad was going to get up and walk out of a movie that he had just paid two tickets to see. I still managed to enjoy it. Also notably, this is where I claimed Patrick Dempsy to be mah boyfriend–looong before you Susie-come-latelys “discovered” him as Dr. McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. Seth Green is in this movie too; he was hilarious even as a kid… “Now that ain’t Dick Clark.”

So, if you’re snowed in for the fourth time this year (like I am), and you’re looking for something to watch–I recommend you march your little computer over to Amazon or YouTube or something and check these out.

“Sea of Love”

So I finally got to watch Juno during vacation, but this isn’t a movie review. I have a point, I promise.  There are numerous reasons why I like this flick.  The first time I watched it, I happily munched on my microwave kettle-corn as I soaked in the deliciously smart mouthed, intelligent protagonist. The script is well written; the characters are flawed and likable; it isn’t heavy-handed preachy, nor does it give the finger to traditional “family values.” It also revived an old pubescent crush of mine–Jason Bateman.* I’m so very glad to have had at least one junior-high celebrity that actually turned out to be talented. I’m sure River Phoenix would have also fit this category, but sadly, we will never know to what extent.

Anyway, so it was a nice little movie that I could enjoy… until the end at which point it went to a whole new level that packed such an emotional whallop for me that I’m still thinking about it. And the second time I watched it, it was just as powerful.

***SEMI-SPOILER ALERT*** Stop now if you don’t want to know how it ends.

Juno has just given birth to a boy. Adoption has been her plan from very early on. (In fact, the adoptive couple is the B-plot of the movie.) For the first time we witness Juno in a state of quiet and stillness, lying in her hospital bed. Her father gently strokes her hair and tells her that someday she will be back–meaning she will someday have a another child. A child that she will be able to raise and nurture. Her boyfriend Pauly enters the room still wearing his track uniform. “Nice legs,” she says, and dad leaves them alone.

Juno is not having second thoughts about giving up the child, but she is suffering. Without any words, Pauly understands this and quietly climbs into the hospital bed, holding Juno as she weeps into her pillow. Now, I’ll admit to being a sucker for a well-chosen, well-timed musical cue. This one was a deconstructed, simple cover of “Sea of Love” with delicate vocals.** What exquisite cinematography. The shot was from the vantage point of where Juno’s father was just sitting. The long close-up lets us really see Juno’s pain. The tenderness between Juno and Pauly is palpable. And the lovely Ellen Page freaking nails it without saying a word. A sixteen year old woman-child who is both experiencing the brunt of a difficult decision, but also sheltering in the love of her family and the father of the baby.

Perhaps this is so moving because Juno professed all along that she would give up this child. She seemed to understand well that her job was to take care of the baby to the best of her ability, and then to give the child to a couple who deserved a chance at parenthood. She seemed happy to do it. Not in a “Thank you, Adoptive Parents, for bailing me out of this huge mess I created so I can keep on being a kid” kind of happy. But in her words, an “I’m sixteen. I’m not well equipped” kind of way. This she knew all along, and she planned accordingly to give it to a couple who had been praying for a child.

What Juno didn’t know, what she never could have anticipated, what no mother (or father)-to-be can ever imagine, is how much she was going to love this child. It seems she was taken completely unawares of the power of this kind of love. Indeed, she was drifting in a sea of love with no boat, no oars, no buoys to mark the way to safe waters or back to shore. And this was when I did something I rarely do when I watch movies… I stopped analysing the plot, characters, and aesthetic. I just allowed myself to emotionally connect to that moment that resonated with me as a mother. Juno’s pain was not just the pain of giving her child away.

I remember feeling that way, and I’ve never given up a child. I don’t remember much about the hours, days, and first few weeks of my first-born daughter’s life. What I do remember is being completely bowled over by the sheer force of emotion this little creature inspired in me. I’ve never been one to really hold back or cut myself off from my own emotions. At least I didn’t think I was. But the magnitude of the love I felt for her caught me completely off guard. And I’m not a good swimmer.

I had no idea how overwhelming it would be. It actually frightened me because for the first time in my life, I felt as if my life depended on someone else. I honestly felt that if something were to happen to her, I didn’t know if I could stand it. If I were to wake up one morning, and she was not there, I didn’t think I could live through it. I felt helpless to her, this helpless baby that was mine to protect and to nurture.  If she was helpless without me, and I was helpless to her, then who was in control? Not me. Not me. And I’m not ashamed to say it completely freaked me out. I was overcome and drowning in a sea of love (and of sore body parts, poopy diapers, and sleepless nights, but that’s a blog for another day).

And the ebb and flow of this love was not predictable like the tides. Just when I thought I had a handle on it, just when I thought I could tread water, again another wave of love–the realization that no matter what I did, it wasn’t going to be as good as she deserved–would crash over me. Every mistake felt like failure. I remember chastizing myself for days because it hadn’t occurred to me that I could actually talk to her until my mom came over one day and starting chatting to her like it was the most normal thing in the world. I remember hating myself because she would be hungry, and I would hesitate for a nano-second because nursing hurt. The hours I spent nourishing her didn’t measure up to the fraction-of-a-second hesitation I harbored in my mind. I would have dreams of me and the baby in dangerous situations, and I had to choose between taking a guaranteed safe route but handing my baby over to a stranger, or holding onto my child and accepting a course with no guarantee of safety. My favorite dream was when I was trapped on a crumbling stair case and Bobby Knight (the hot-tempered basketball coach) stood at the top of the staircase with a long pole stretched out toward me, pleading with me to hook my baby to the end of the pole and he would pull her to safety. Yes, I really did dream that.

When my husband was chronically ill during my pregnancy and in LMG’s early months of life, I would catch myself imagining us (he and I) floating in the dark ocean, with no land in sight. We were bobbing in the water, and I had in each hand a long rope. At the end of one rope was a rowboat. At the end of the other rope was him. I couldn’t get him to hear me, to understand that I had a boat. He was adrift, focusing only on the pitch black night in front of him, and not the little bit of safety I could offer. This is not a metaphor for how my love for him could save him. We were both awash in a sea of love. Overcome by what we did not know, could not see, unsure of how much we could take, or how far we could go–together and alone. Alone was never an option. Yet, part of what made it so scary was because we loved each other so intensely. We were only thinking of, and trying to watch out for, the other. He could only think of the darkness that enveloped us and the threat it posed to me and our child. I could only think of not letting go of the rope that connected him to us.

Truth to tell, there are so many metaphors for that overwhelming, heart-filling, heart-breaking, bring you to your knees in joy, bring you to your knees in humility kind of love. Maybe it’s just me, but when that love hit me for the first time it was scary. It was emotionally painful. I felt raw, and exposed, and truly vulnerable for the very first time. Feeling love that strong will first make you aware of all the things you’re not, before you discover what it can help you to become. Sometimes I think we should talk about that more.

Yet, I would plunge into that ocean again and again and again. Sometimes I’m still not a very good swimmer. Sometimes that tide rolls me over, and I’m in way over my head. Sometimes I feel spat up on the shore, unlovable, and unfit to even tread love’s waters. I’ve learned not to fear those ebb and flows. To take them as they come. If I get tossed by a few big waves, I’m okay with that. They are still scary. I still don’t know how I’d live if something would ever happen to John or either of the girls. But the alternative would be to live life in the concrete, chlorinated pool, Sure, the water may be pretty, and I may be able to see the bottom, but nothing lives there. There would be a limit to the love that I could share. And I’d rather be helpless to the depths than be safe in the shallows.

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*I also liked him in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which did not get great reviews, nor is it the best kid movie ever made, but one could subject their children to worse movies–Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Have you ever seen it? Don’t.

** According to Itunes the artist is Cat Power. I highly recommend it, but it can’t be purchased as a single. Boo!

It’s the little things, ya know?

The tree is up, complete with a string of lights with a short at the top of the tree that keep blinking off and on, but I refuse to take off the top decorations and replace with a good string. I refuse because I have this thing about garland. My garland is wired ribbon. The garland on my tree must be perfect. It has to be all twisty and pretty and draped, peeking into view and then back again into the deeper recesses of the tree behind the ornaments. My garland is perfect right now except for that teeny spot near the bottom where Super L touched it. I didn’t see her touch it, but I can tell that she did just by looking at it. To replace that faulty string would mean having to redo the garland, and the garland is one long strand around the tree and you just don’t mess with my garland. Okay?

We celebrated the family achievement by sharing what is sure to be the first of at least a few dozen viewings of “A Christmas Story.” Actually, they watched. I listened while my nose was stuck in a book about the national reading curriculum. Those two things go together, right?

And then we wake up to snow! The girls did get a chance to play in it briefly this morning before it started melting. There are gloves and wet, muddy boots in the bathtub, so winter is officially here despite what the calendar says.  Is it a bad thing that I’m already hoping for a snow day tomorrow? I mean, I know it’s not going to happen, but I’ve had a fairly productive streak these last two days in terms of grading papers doing some research. I’d love to be able to keep it going with another day at home.

Finally, I managed to get through this biggest shopping weekend of the season while only going to the store for laundry detergent, cold medicine, and Christmas tree lights (yes, the ones that are shorting out). So I consider this weekend pretty successful. Especially since my garland is perfect.

John Adams

If you are an HBO subscriber, and you have even just a slight interest in history, I highly recommend the new John Adams mini-series. I watched the first two episodes with Matt and John. We three–two of whom are nerdy English majors/history buffs and one who is a history major/politics follower–give it enthusiastic thumbs up. Plus it has Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. My respect for Giamatti has grown considerably since his “Pig Vomit” turn in he-who-must-not-be-named’s Private Parts movie. As for her, I’ll watch just about anything she’s in; I think she’s fabulous.