Monday, January 31, 2011

Revenge of the teenage girl: how to embarrass your mother without even trying

Queen Teen and I took a walk to our favorite cafe (well, the only one open on a Sunday in Ukiah), something we do every Sunday when the weather is fine. She ordered a Vanilla Steamer and I a decaf-Cappuccino, which is our usual order. Settling in at one of our favorite tables, we sipped our drinks and played the "Eye-See" game.

Queen Teen: "I see a tree outside."

Me: "I see a big black truck."

Queen Teen: "I see a red hat."

Me: "I see a napkin on the floor."

The cafe was quiet with only a few customers: a man reading the newspaper at the table near ours and a couple talking intently while staring at a laptop screen. Even the barristas were quiet, one lazily wiping the counter while the other stared off into space. Queen Teen and I stopped playing our game and slipped into the same peaceful Sunday mood.

And then Queen Teen said, so loudly her voice echoed against the metal tables, "Mom, why are you playing with yourself?"

Every person in that room stopped what they were doing and stared at me. The room became absolutely quiet. I swear, even the announcer on the radio had paused for breath.

"I have a hangnail," I said too loudly, showing Queen Teen my torn cuticle "It's bugging me."

"You shouldn't play with yourself like that."

The man cleared his throat to keep from laughing, I think, and the barristas started whispering with big grins on their faces. The radio began playing another song as the couple with the laptop murmured about their work again, but the young man stared at me a bit longer.

I told Queen Teen to finish her drink.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Last Week of my Internship!!!!!!

Only 11 more hours of interning to fulfill the requirements for my certification and credential in Orientation and Mobility. 11 more hours...

... and I have the flu.

Yep, I'm in the home stretch and I have a fever, sore throat and runny nose. I ache and sneeze and wish I could sleep for the next 48 hours (at a minimum. more would probably be good).

Queen Teen came down with it last Sunday and missed an entire week of school. And of course it was the same week Rick started a big project for one of his computer clients which didn't go as smoothly as it should have. That meant I missed two days last week, but I was grateful for the time he squeezed in to stay home so I could get a few hours of work in. He was planning to go to MacWorld with me, but instead I went alone while he stayed home with our sick girl. By Saturday, Queen Teen was pretty much back to her smiling, cheerful, energetic self. By Saturday, I had a fever.

It always happens like this. She gets sick, I take care of her, then just as she starts to get better I catch it. Not as bad as she, but still sick. It would be a lot more convenient if we had it together, but I suppose catching it in stages means I don't have to get up to wipe her snotty nose when I feel like ass.

So tomorrow, which should be my last Fort Bragg trip with Laura where I teach my final cane lesson to my high school student, I'll stay home and watch movies until Queen Teen comes home from school. Then I'll PRAY that I'm well enough to go back to work on Tuesday. 11 more hours. That's all I need. Two more days and then I'm done!!!!!!

Everyone, send me strong healing energy. I must get healthy fast!!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm turning into a computer geek

I blame it on my iPhone, the coolest most useful gadget I've ever known. And now that Queen Teen has an iPad I get to play with, I'm even more hooked.

For example, I downloaded this BlogPress ap today and can easily update my blog anywhere using my phone. Still not in love with typing on this little screen though, so now I'm considering buying a small bluetooth keyboard.

Further proof of my increasing geekiness, I went to MacWorld yesterday. Unfortunately, it was kind of a waste of time. I went looking for more info on the iPad and accessibility, but the class I attended was more about managing music and cool aps than real life usability. I spent several hours hunting the expo for ideas for people with disabilities and only found a few. Plus, now that Apple doesn't come to MacWorld anymore, the event is focused on aps and accessories for the iPad. They should just call it iPad world.

I'll write about some of what I found at MacWorld in my next post, and since I use my phone so much for business for my press, I plan to review the aps I use and discover on my press blog, Medusa's Muse.

Now, time to see if this blogging ap really works.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Classic Movie Review: The Women

I finally broke down and Netflixed Meg Ryan's "The Women." I was hesitant because the 1939 original is one of my favorite movies of all time. Unfortunately, the remake is awful. It tries hard, even using elements and characters from the original, but in modernizing the plot they lost the focus of the story. The modern version is a rambling, woman-finding-herself-with-the-support-of-her-best-friends, chick-flick, complete with a fashion show and a birth at the end. The original is more sinister, and funnier. Women can be vicious and cruel, even with their best friends, and gossip is the weapon of choice. Mary Hanes must navigate not only the expectations of being a woman in the 30's, but the dangerous waters of her so called friends.

And yet, those friends are funny, intelligent, quick-witted and fascinating. They both love and hate each other, but would probably kill for each other without a second thought.

Mary Hanes, played by Norma Shearer, is the perfect wife in her perfect marriage, but she doesn't know her husband is cheating on her with the beautiful Crystal Allen, played by Joan Crawford. Unfortunately, her friends know, and they set her up to find out second hand from the too-talkative manicurist who informed them. Once Mary finds out, she must decide whether or not to fight for her man. But she might not have a chance against the stunning Joan Crawford.

The entire cast is all women, and each character, from Mary to her supportive mother to the catty Sylvia and sweet natured Peggy, is fully developed and unique. Norma Shearer is mesmerizing, especially in her silence. When she's on the phone talking to her husband after she's learned of his affair, you can see how hard she wants to tell him she knows, but she tearfully tells him it's okay for him to "work late," knowing full well he's with Crystal.

Joan Crawford wants her man, and she'll do just about anything to get him, even lie about her birthday to keep him from going home to his wife. Crystal is actually genuine. She knows what she wants and goes after it, manipulates her man to keep him hooked, but doesn't stab women in the back. If she attacks, you know it's coming.

Sylvia, played by Rosalind Russel, is the worst of Mary's friends. She loves creating havoc wherever she goes. But she eventually gets her comeuppance when her own husband cheats on her. Eventually Mary finds real friends, including the fabulous Countess De Lave, who's favorite thing to say after 5 marriages is "La Amour, La Amour," with a wave of her hands.

The original has a fashion show too, just like the 2007 version. Fashion shows in films were vogue in the late 30's and early 40's, especially since it provided the opportunity to show off the new color technology just being developed then.

The Women was originally a play written by the brilliant Claire Boothe Luce which ran successfully on Broadway for 666 performances (so the movie states during the opening credits, and she wrote the script as well. The new version of the movie takes scenes straight out of the original, like when Crystal and Mary finally meet at a dress shop and when the maid and cook discuss how Mary and Steven were fighting when Mary confronted him. But the ending of the original is completely different from the new version.

Ultimately, this is a comedy about the complexities of women's relationships. Frenamies is nothing new, it's been around since at least 1939.

Sylvia - "Why do we all like Mary so much?"

Nancy - "Because she's not afraid of being what she is, a woman."

Sylvia - "And what are we?"

Nancy - "Female."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You can't be shy with people who can't see you

You probably don't know this, but I'm shy. I know it might be surprising, especially since I keep a blog and reveal far more details about myself than most people find comfortable. But in person, one-to-one, I'm as timid as the proverbial door mouse, tongue tied and terrified of saying something stupid. The idea of having to engage a person in conversation makes me nauseous. At parties I tend to hang in the background and wait for people to approach me, or I tag along with a few people I might already know. I can chat and fake it, pretend to be clever, or at least not stupid. And sometimes I have no idea how to end a conversation, so I probably hang around too long, like one of those annoying people at parties you can't shake.

I've been told I'm aloof and sometimes intimidating. The reality is I'm so shy I don't know how to say hello.

This became a problem when I started working with visually impaired people.

How does a person who can't see you know that you're there? How do they find out who you are, your name, and if you're still in the room or if you left?

You talk to them, of course.

Simple, right? At work, when you enter a room and there is a visually impaired person present you say hello and even if they already know your name, you tell them who you are ("Hi. It's Terena."). In fact, wouldn't it be great if everyone did that, instead of having to fumble for names? Or if you pass on the street an acquaintance who is visually impaired, say hello. It's rude to just walk on by as if they don't know you.

What did I do the first few weeks of my internship? I walked into a room and tried to be quiet so I wouldn't "bother anyone." When my instructor was talking to one of her students and she forgot to introduce me, did I say hello? Nope. I pretended I wasn't there. I kept waiting for the other person to acknowledge me first, just as I do every day, rather than take the first step. This tactic doesn't work when people can't see you. As I've forced myself to stop being rude (which is exactly what I was doing by not letting a blind person know I was there), I've also had to deal with my shyness. I'm now wondering, If I can be more outgoing with my students, can I also be more outgoing with people in general?

I've decided to give it a try. I can at least pretend to be outgoing, and then maybe eventually it will stick.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Grandpa Bear came to visit

and Queen Teen was very happy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mom Jeans

My mother gave me "mom jeans" for Christmas. You know, those high waisted jeans that make me think of little old ladies with their pants pulled up to their armpits. Really Mom, you gave me "mom-jeans" as a Christmas gift? Is that really something you should give your 43 year old daughter in the middle of a mid-life crisis?

They were the right size and length, so I put them in my drawer to save for the day when I ran out of clean pants.

That day came a week ago Monday.

I'd been too busy to finish the laundry so when Monday morning arrived I discovered I had nothing to wear to work.

Nothing, except for a pair of clean, bright blue, mom jeans shoved in the back of my pants drawer.

I put them on.

And then I discovered that they fit perfectly.

More than fitting perfectly they covered my muffin-top so that my clingy shirt fit smoothly over my ever-expanding grad-school belly.

Oh.... so that's why women wear mom jeans.

All day long, my jeans felt secure. I wasn't hiking up my pants or unbuttoning the top button when I sat down for long periods of time.

Usually, I prefer hip-huggers because I hate the way regular pants cut into my stomach. Hip-huggers are also cool and hip and trendy, all those things I still think I am. But hip-huggers also have a terrible tendency to  cut into the fat around one's middle and squish it upwards into a perfectly formed, succulent muffin top.

But not so mom jeans.

Yesterday, I wanted to wear a stretchy knit top, but unfortunately this favorite shirt did little to hide my aforementioned grad school flab. And then I thought, "I wonder if the mom jeans will work?"

I slipped them on, zipped them all the way up past my belly button, then pulled on the lovely red top. My muffin top was reduced to a sweet, delicate mini-muffin, no longer one of those giant muffins that overflows the muffin tin.

So now I have to say, thanks Mom. I think. Thank you for introducing me to the joy and beauty of mom jeans. Or at least, thank you for giving me a pair of pants that will fit until I lose these 15 pounds of belly flab which is my graduation gift from sitting on my ass studying for the last 2.5 years.

Although I can't get that image of a granny with her boobs hanging down to her elastic waist band out of my brain.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The next step in asking for help

After I wrote my blog post about needing more help, the response from friends was wonderful. I was particularly surprised by the offers of help from people I didn't think would respond. Not that they're insensitive, it's just they aren't particularly "kid people" and have very busy lives. I was also surprised by how many people I just KNEW would write back with offers of help who didn't. Again, I don't think it's because they're insensitive (well, a few might be), I think it has more to do with people not knowing what they can possibly do to make any difference.

When you ask for help, no matter how much you wish it would just fall into your lap, you need to have a few specific ideas for people to know how to help.

Ummmm...  I'm still not sure how to answer that question.

I mean, we need help with everything: money, sanity, housekeeping, childcare, cooking, car maintenance, yard work, pet care... everything. But telling your friend who just offered help that they could clean your bathtub for you isn't a great way to foster a good support network.

So I've been working on a list of ideas, and instead of worrying about how people will react or how unrealistic some of these may be, I'm just gonna spell it out and see what happens.

Terena's Help List

  • Housework. No you don't have to clean my bathroom, but if you know any good tips, tricks, cleaning products or cleaning staff (inexpensive) who could lend a hand, let me know. 
  • Yard Work. Some strong hands to help my hubby and I catch up on the mountain of yard work around here would be great, especially since Spring is already trying to arrive.
  • Sanity. Send me an email just to say hello. Post a hug to my Facebook page. Call and invite me out for coffee or to a movie. Let me know when a party or event is happening. Rick and I have gotten very isolated up here in Mendo (really people, there is life above Santa Rosa!), so any little thing you can do to help us feel less lonely would be wonderful (btw, Rick could use some help just as much as me). 
  • Childcare. This is a big one. I know people get really nervous about offering to watch Queen Teen because she seems to need so much care, but she's actually pretty easy. Her favorite thing is to go for a walk in her chair and get a snack. If you just want to take her out for ice cream some time for an hour so I can grab a nap, that would be great. We have respite for the longer hours and overnights, and I'm looking into another agency to provide more support. Plus, Queen Teen gets just as lonely as Rick and I do. More people inviting her out on a Saturday for a short time would make her very happy.
  • On that note, the more people who learn American Sign Language the better. As her hearing has degenerated, so has her communication. Very few people in our lives know ASL, so very few people can chat with her. She doesn't know very many signs yet, but in time she will, and the more she can use her language skills, the faster she'll learn. Plus, her world will expand to include so many more people and friends. What a gift that would be.
  • Cooking. Made too much Beef Stew? Send it my way. I know my food allergies make it tricky, but if you have something Gluten Free you'd like to share, we'll gobble it up. 
  • Money. Well... if you win the lottery, you can pay off my house. 
Looks like I have more specifics then I realized. While I'm on a roll, I'll just throw out a few more ideas (which may be less reality based, but what the hell?)
  • Could someone tell that Ty guy that I need a new house? Mine is way too small and with Queen Teen's equipment getting bigger, we're about to reach a space crisis.
  • Or if not a new house, how about letting one of those designers on the Home and Garden Channel know that we need help making better use of the space we have. (ooh, I just saw that the dream house sweepstakes has begun.)
  • My car is about to die (a 1995 Honda Odyssey with 220,000 miles on it). I need a new one, preferably in red.
  • Rick and I still need a honeymoon. We've been married 11 years. It's about time.
  • A massage, once a week, for the next six months to get grad school out of my muscles.
  • A huge family with lots of cousins who live in California (rather than Louisiana or Texas, neither place I wish to move to. Sorry guys).
  • Queen Teen would like another trip to Disneyland... oh wait, we're already planning that one. 
  • Queen Teen would also like to fly, just like the little girl in the Tinker Bell movie "The Great Fairy Rescue." She believes that if she could fly it would change everything (I think she's right). 
Today, my orchid has even more blooms! The ones I thought were too small and would fall off have thickened until they've opened into gorgeous blossoms. I wake up every morning and look at this:

It gives me hope.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Bloom

This morning I saw that my orchid had bloomed. It was a gift from last Christmas and after a couple of months of lovely blooms, they all fell off. I figured the plant was "done," but since it was still alive, I kept it, watering it and feeding it, but pretty much ignoring it. Then eight weeks ago I noticed that it had grown a new stem, and shortly after that, tiny buds formed. I just kept watering it and feeding it as usual, and over time the buds swelled. On New Years eve I saw that one of the buds had swollen so much there was a distinct line on it. Was it going to bloom?

New Years Day, my orchid bloomed, exposing bright white, pink splotched petals. There are five more buds still thinking about blooming and I have no idea if they will. One might be ready, the others are so small they may just drop off.

One perfect flower has bloomed, and I'm taking it as a sign that 2011 is the year my life also blooms. I don't usually believe in signs, instead I lean more toward cause-and-effect patterns (Karma, if you will). But my orchid blooming on New Year's is too beautiful. I've put in many years of hard work and struggle, perhaps it will all start to come to fruition at last. Hell, I'll settle for graduating on time and getting a job. At any rate, seeing that bloom pushed me to stop being so blue and have a little hope for a change.

The funny thing is that I'm not an orchid person. I have no idea how this plant bloomed again. I haven't fed it orchid food or doused it with warm, distilled water like I hear you're supposed to do. It has thrived on ordinary plant food and the same level of neglect all my house plants live under. So the fact it didn't just live, but bloomed again, feels like a gift.

Btw, the picture on the wall behind the plant is by Clay Vajgrt, an anniversary gift from Rick two years ago. It felt so perfectly "me," I had to have it. The artist paints other meditating heroes (you should see his Batman!).

Happy New Year, everyone. May your new year bloom as well.