Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Parental Advisory- Explicit Lyrics

As some of you know, a lot of the music that I listen to is not exactly kid friendly. For example, the Beastie Boys are not known for their wholesome lyrics. However, this doesn't stop me from listening to the kind of music that I like to listen to, but it does present a rather interesting conundrum when it comes to my kids. They're always, and I mean always around.

At home, this isn't a problem. I just plug myself into my iPod and they're none the wiser, but in the car, music proves to be a little more problematic. So, what's a girl to do? I've become very good friends with the volume knob. It helps to know the lyrics very well. When some explicit lyrics are coming up, you get your hand ready on the volume control and, when you get to the objectionable lyrics, you turn the volume completely off for the duration of the word/phrase that you need to blip out. Done correctly, this technique will help preserve the purity of your child's vocabulary until their friends (or, by sheer accident, you) lend a hand in mucking it up.

Having heard me talk about doing this and also being in the car with us to witness it, Sasha sent this to me. Thanks, dude. ("Dude"... mwaahahahaha!)

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Night at the Movies

I saw the movie "The Lives of Others" with a JP and Sasha this weekend and I'll have to say that I'm still thinking about it. If you're not familiar with the film, it's a German movie about a German secret police wiretapper/interrogator in 1984 East Berlin who is ordered to wiretap and eavesdrop on a couple, a high profile author/playwright and his actress girlfriend. The movie got all sorts of awards internationally, including the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year. Rightfully so, I think.

Still, when I see movies or hear stories about these kind of activities of paranoid and controlling governments, it makes me perhaps a little more uncomfortable than it might make others around me because it hits sort of close to home. This movie got me thinking about what my mother went through as a child in the Baltics in Europe.

My grandparents had an apartment in the capital city where they lived much of the time, but they also spent time out in the country on the family farms. My grandfather's and grandmother's family farms were near to each other and they had known each other since grammar school, which is where they met (apparently my grandfather used to dip my grandmother's pigtails in the inkwells). After my grandmother and grandfather both finished college, they got married in 1928. Since my grandfather's early life had been centered around agriculture, he went to school to study dairy bacteriology and went to England to get his master's degree. Unfortunately, World War II intervened and he had to leave the country to go home before he could defend his thesis, so the actual degree was never received even though he did all of his work and research.

When the Germans came and occupied my mother's country, my grandfather spent time in a prison camp because he was educated in England, but one of my grandmother's brothers was able to convince them that they had no reason to suspect him of anything subversive and win my grandfather's release (apparently, this great uncle was a pretty respected member of the military and could use his influence effectively).

The Russians also occupied their country and, because my grandfather had studied abroad and was considered a possible threat, the Russians had a KGB agent living in the house with them as a "precaution". Of course, the woman whom they'd placed there couldn't be there all the time, so she would have "talks" with my mother about who had come over when the agent wasn't able to be there and what they'd talked about. My mother was four years old at the time.

One summer day during the Russian occupation, they were at my grandmother's farm when the Russians came and took all the neighbors from the nearby farms away in buses, but by some stroke of luck or fate they didn't go to my grandmother's farm. My mother said that they saw the bus hesitate at the end of the long drive to the farm and then drive away. They're not sure what happened to the neighbors or why the Russians didn't come to take them away, too, but after sleeping in the woods during the night for a time in case of a nighttime raid, they finally packed up a horse cart with all they could carry and left the farm, trying to get to the coast to escape. In the end, they got cut off by the oncoming Russian front and ending up living as refugees in Germany before they could get sponsored to come to the US years later.

All in all, they ended up better off than many. Many of my relatives had been put on cattle cars by the Russians and were sent to Siberian labor camps. Several didn't even survive the trip there, including some relatives in their 80's and some children. My dad ended up in Berlin with his mother after his father was taken away when he was 7 years old. His side of the story is less clear, since he never talked about it when he was alive, but I do know that he had to survive the nightly Allied bombing by lying in trenches during the air raids and he finally got out of Berlin by clinging to the outside of a train for 11 hours with his mother, who had to struggle to keep him awake through the night so that he wouldn't fall off. I don't know much other than that.

Having heard about what my parents have had to go through, I see movies like "The Lives of Others" with a particular chill, not to mention a bit of added perspective about all the petty things in my life that have been bothering me lately. Those things can go on the back burner and, with any luck, stay there for good.

Oh, and my mother, through an offer by the present government of the country where they came from and lots of sweat, paperwork and red-tape, has now gotten both the family farms back. My grandparents would have been happy to see it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Glorious Weekend

Okay, so posts have been coming less and less frequently lately and I've been visiting and/or commenting on your blogs less frequently, too, but I wanted to say that it's not that I've lost interest in you all... I miss visiting your blogs terribly, really I do! Things around here have been sort of crazy, so I haven't been getting on the computer much at all these days. (It's even gotten to the point where I've been hiding from my primary e-mail account with its 200+ unread messages that I have to deal with. Ugh.) I've been trying to catch up with reading your blogs when I can, but I'm so very far behind. And I haven't been posting much at all, nothing that takes any real thought, at least.

So, what's been keeping me busy, you ask? Oh, not much... just getting a jump on having a mid-life crisis. For those of my readers who are older, you may say that I'm being stupid, but, hey, it's my head problem to deal with. It's not fair how men are thought of as "wise" and "experienced" as they get older and women are thought of as past their "use by" dates. Or even worse... not thought of at all. And I'm having some temperature adjustment problems making the transition from being thought of as "hot" to being thought of as merely "cool" (not my words, someone else's). It sucks. And to make matters worse, I'm really starting to hate the phrase "for your age"... the next person who says that to me is going to get poked in the eye.

Mostly, I've been pretty pissed about it all, but I've been trying to deal with it constructively. On Friday, I spent the day plugged into my iPod, blasting the age inappropriate music that I love so much and ripping through the house like a tornado, sorting and throwing stuff out (recycling what I could, of course). When I finally became bored with the brand new mess that I had made, I spent three hours of quality time with the chainsaw taking apart the big logs and stumps that were left over from last weekend, only stopping when it finally became dark. On Friday night, I actually went to bed early for a change.

On Saturday, I went to my stylist (I adore that man and have been seeing him for over ten years now) and I came out freshly cut, colored, styled and looking fabulous as only he can make me. Still, things weren't quite right. My husband, very mindful of my state of mind these days, sent me out that afternoon to get myself some clothes for spring before they all disappear, y'know, it still being winter and the summer clothes are just about on the racks by now. I just couldn't get into it because the clothes out there seem to be either too old for me or too young. Still, I was able to get some nice things (among other things, a nicely fitting, hot pink, cashmere, cropped-cardigan sweater with elbow length sleeves... it just begs to be touched.)

While I was still out trying on clothes, my husband called and said that I should take myself out to dinner and a movie. It's not my first choice to do these things alone, but I took him up on the offer. The wait for a table at my chosen restaurant was over an hour, so I left the restaurant and had an oh-so-sumptuous culinary experience in the sophisticated ambience of... the mall food court. It was quick. It was cheap. It was mall food. But it would get me to the movies sooner, right? That's how I rationalized my disappointing meal. I got to the movies and the only thing that wasn't sold out at that late time was "Music and Lyrics," the romantic comedy with Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. Given my age-related, gender inequity mindstate at the time, was I enough of a masochist to watch a movie that glorifies a romantic relationship between a 46 year old man and a 32 year old woman? What, are you crazy?! No. Thank. You. That movie would never sell with the genders reversed and I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for that.

Dammit. The bookstore was all that was left at that point, so off to Barnes and Noble I went. Not that I minded. I absolutely love books to the point of it nearly being a fetish. While browsing, I picked through all sorts of very useful books, most notably a couple of books on such subjects as how I'm supposed to dress for middle age (egads, I'm not wearing that, EVER.) and another one with some new and interesting techniques for giving mind-blowing hand jobs. As interesting as the latter book was, I settled on buying a sequel to a memoir that I had been waiting for in paperback. The bookstore finally closed and, not feeling like going home, I decided to go to one of the local eating establishments that had a bar to have a drink. Again, not my first choice of things to do alone, but I had nobody to go with and thought that it would be a nice change of pace regardless of that fact.

But maybe this wasn't such a good thing for my ego, either, it turned out. I found one single bar stool and asked the young guy sitting on the next stool if anybody was sitting there. Judging by the disgusted look on his face, if there had been a thought bubble over his head it probably would have read, "Is this dried up old cooch hitting on me?!" Whatever. I ordered a beer and the bartender carded me because they card everyone (literally) to be on the safe side. He handed me back my ID and said, "Huh, you're doing pretty well." It's a good thing that he didn't add "for your age" or I would have had to reach over the bar and poke him in the eye. That would have greatly affected my service and I wouldn't want that.

After getting my beer, I got out my memoir and started reading until I was interrupted by a 50-something year old guy asking me about my book. He then started going on a bit about how everybody in the bar was so young and how the suburbs were really bad for finding places to drink. After some more general conversation, he finally left to go home and I went back to my book for a long while, completely and unfortunately undisturbed while finishing my beer and a large water before leaving to drive home. Oh, well.

Maybe I would have actually had more people talk to me if I had been reading the book about hand jobs instead. Maybe next time. I went back the next day and bought it.