Saturday, August 30, 2008

Freddie Highmore's Opus

Tonight my friend Heather and I watched August Rush. I've had it in my queue for a while and had planned to see it, knowing it was a cheesefest but that it had some Oscar-nominated music so I wanted to check it out. I swear, this thing shoved me right out of my Myers-Briggs T zone and I think I might now permanently be an F. It would be interesting to see how test results differed if people took the MBTI while looking at Freddie Highmore's face.

If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to know what happens, then stop reading. I'm not going to do a full review here because I didn't expect it to be a high quality film and it wasn't. I just have a couple of things, beginning with young Freddie. I cannot express to you how much I love this kid. I swear, I look at him and I just start crying. He is so sweet and adorable and how anyone could abandon any child let alone him is beyond me. His character is a supposed orphan living in a group home but he hangs on to the belief that his parents are alive and will come for him. He knows this because he can hear them calling to him in the "music" he hears in the world around him. He's one of those true prodigies born with a gift but in his context he had no way to work it out until he ran away to the big city where he is snatched up by a disturbed Robin Williams.

Robin Williams is always disturbed but this is more actually disturbed, not Robin Williams disturbed. He finds homeless or foster children with some musical ability, takes them in and sends them out to play on street corners and then collects the money. He clearly has a drug problem and is emotionally and psychologically manipulative. He does have enough sense to recognize the talent in Evan (Freddie) so he decides to create a persona for him and put him on the most profitable corner. During the conversation when they're creating this identity Robin asks him what he wants to be in the whole world. His simple answer: found.

That pretty much sent me over the edge and I was done for the rest of the movie. Anything with children who are abandoned or abused already just puts my soul through a cheese grater but his frank vulnerability in the face of such hopelessness was more than I could take. In this nearly throwaway moment young Freddie Highmore gave voice to one of the deepest human needs of people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone wants to be found in some way - to be sought out, waited for and cherished. As a child, Evan wasn't afraid to say that because he didn't know you weren't supposed to. When we "grow up" we learn fear, apprehension, self-preservation and self-defense. Evan knew when his parents were there because he kept his heart open to being found and connected to what he'd heard. He never let the bullies in the group home talk him into saying that his parents were not coming for him. He clung stubbornly to his belief and kept his heart open to being found and in the end he was. Life may not always work that perfectly - more often than not it doesn't. But I think there's something to be said for living in such a way where we believe that we can be found and are open to that possibility.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Labor Day Friday Five

Songbird says:

Here in the USA we are celebrating the last fling of the good ol' summertime. It is Labor Day weekend, and families are camping, playing in the park, swimming, grilling hot dogs in the backyard, visiting amusement parks and zoos and historical sites and outdoor concerts and whatever else they can find to help them extend summer's sun and play just a little bit longer.

It is supposed to also be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the "salt-of-the-earth nieces and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let's have some fun.

1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.

Gainey Ranch Hilton Gift Shop while I was in college. I had a manager call me up at 10:00 at night and cuss me out for not processing a shipment the night before when I was closing alone and slammed with business. She once also made me close 14 days in a row after I got back from a vacation. After the cuss out call I quit the next day. Hell no.

2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.

My favorite job was at a theology library. I got to interact with students writing sermons and papers and help them with their research. The problem was they didn't pay a living wage and they hired an idiot as the library director who actually asked our systems manager what a "monograph" was. Seriously.

3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.

There are a TON of things I would love to do. I'd love to do community organizing, I love cooking, I love public speaking, I love writing, I love traveling. Something with all that stuff.

4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?

I had more labor this summer than I knew what to do with. I'd like to do a little getaway but I don't think it's going to happen any time soon b/c I need to go to a couple of conferences in the next couple of months. I'll figure something out.

5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?

With my day job things will change b/c my boss (best boss in the world, love him, mean it) has been given more responsibility (well-deserved because, have I mentioned? best ever) which means more work for me and some fun extra projects. He piles on the work until I say stop but I'm a workaholic who doesn't say stop. Should be fun. Boundaries, anyone?

Church job is a whole other thing b/c Pastor is Queen of the Presbyterians (I think it's called "moderator") and is traipsing all over creation this fall and we're moving to a new facility. Lots of trial and error this fall. Looking forward to it all.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Very Encouraging Day

1. Was told I was a creative genius at work. Granted, it was said to coerce me into yet another project, but I'll take it.

2. Told by the desk chick at the gym that I always make her day.

3. Told by yoga instructor that I looked great. That's the cleanse. I've lost about 8 pounds so far.

Honorable Mention: Random dude in the Castro last night told me he liked my necklace. You know you're doing something right when you get fashion compliments in the Castro.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Isn't She.....Smart? Articulate? Accomplished?'s LOVELY!?!

I need to speak a word here about this evening's Democratic National Convention. So far, so good. There is a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, and some very disturbing hats. Because I'd recorded it on CNN, I got WAY more side commentary than I wanted and they talked over people's speeches, like Nancy Pelosi, James Leach and Donald Miller's benediction. Love how they lowered their voices during the benediction by the way, like they didn't want God to catch them talking during the prayer. Now I'm going to have to go online and watch the speeches, which is exactly what they want me to do, I expect, just so they can try to entice me to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal.

One of the highlights was the tribute to Ted Kennedy. The Kennedy family is one of the more fascinating and controversial in our history and one of the more colorful characters in it is Teddy Kennedy. Chappaquiddick anyone? However, regardless of your feelings about his politics, you can tell that he is deeply loved by his family and friends and the tribute they paid him was quite beautiful. He seemed healthy, energetic, and ready to take on another year in the Senate. Maria Shriver was just bawling during his speech. It was really great.

The keynote of the evening was Michelle Obama and she was introduced lovingly and respectfully by her older brother. She did a beautiful job. She told us that Barack was, in fact, the same man that she had fallen in love with 19 years ago. She spoke eloquently of his passion for the under-privileged, his desire to make a difference, his appreciation for those who have gone before. She noted the importance of this week being the 88th anniversary of women being given the right to vote and the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech. It was a home run on all counts. And then....the band.

The band began to play Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely." Seriously. I could not believe it. You know what - I don't care if it was their wedding song, or her favorite song or whatever. I'm not in on those kinds of inside stories. It seemed to me probably the most patronizing music choice in the history of political conventions. "Wow. That was a great speech. And look how pretty she is." WTF? Yeah, she's gorgeous. No argument from me. But what about playing something inspiring, even patriotic, something remotely befitting a future first lady?

To watch or not to watch?

The new 90210. I'm torn. Yes, I did in fact watch all 10 seasons of the original and I'm not all that ashamed of it. I don't even have the excuse of being in high school when it started because I WAS IN COLLEGE. Don't care. Love drama. But the new one. I'm not sure. The cast is mildly interesting, especially Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth. Jennie is a hometown girl and I have friends who went to high school with her, so I feel I need to support her. I'm a little sad about Tori being in the group but I fully support her bowing out after they refused to pay her as much as the other two. That's ridiculous. Did any of us chant "Kelly Taylor Graduates! Kelly Taylor Graduates!"? No. It was Donna Martin for whom we were cheering so enthusiastically when she was threatened with losing her diploma b/c she drank champagne before the prom. And whose was the big wedding in the series finale? That's right DONNA & DAVID!! So why wouldn't she get paid as much as the other two? Whatever. Anyway, I haven't decided if I'm going to indulge in the new offering that premiers next week. What say you, dear readers?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Five: Dates

1) Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance?

I use Outlook at home and at work, but I don't put my personal appointments on my work calendar. I keep a small datebook in my purse to write stuff down in the moment and then transfer it to the computer at home.

2) When was the last time you forgot an important date?

I forgot an appointment with my spiritual director earlier this year.

3) When was the last time you went OUT on a date?

I have no idea. Probably last year sometime?

4) Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated.

I am actually quite eager to get rid of things and don't keep them more than a couple of years before I donate and replace!

5) Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em?

I like them, but haven't had them in a while. My mom loathes them so I used to eat them just to gross her out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When did THAT happen?

Today, my niece started preschool. PRESCHOOL. She's 4. And-a-half almost. How did that happen? Seriously. It seems like last week she was the baby you see there on the left. Now this morning, she's this grown child who's starting preschool. I called her today and got the scoop on all of it and she seemed to really enjoy it. I have to say though, that the first time any child hurts her in any way I am not above boarding a plane and giving that little mongrel a serious beat down.

In the last couple of weeks I've been doing some growing myself. I've not felt great for the past, oh, two months or so, and I finally got fed up with it last week when I spent much of the time in bed crying. It's not as bad as it sounds. I came to the conclusion that the meds I'm on to help me sleep aren't helping me as much as they need to be and so I was approaching all of life as a sleep-deprived person: irrational and useless. I took appropriate steps and went to a regular doctor and an Eastern practitioner just to cover all my bases. Regular doctor upped the dose and Dr. Nature did some chiro/acupuncture stuff and put me on a cleanse. The cleanse sucks, but I know it's good. I may do some modifications just to get me through, but so far I'm being really good about sticking to it.

As much as not feeling well sucks, so far it's been a great exercise in asking for help for me. Monday in yoga I had a bit of a breakthrough about why I have trouble with that. I think it's because that for the first time in my adult life I'm surrounded by more healthy people than not. I'm really used to needing strict boundaries around myself because as someone who wasn't always in the most healthy place, I tended to attract people to me who were also a bit of a wreck. This is not to say I've achieved health - far from it - but rather I'm more honest about my own brokenness but also my strengths and I have people in my life who are more like that. It's more about adjusting to a new reality for me and allowing myself to trust the people in my life that I know that I can trust. I am so thankful for my friends, church community and co-workers who are truly great people from whom I learn something every day. Even the boss, who is, well, wow - can I just say... oh wait. He's probably reading this. I should stop.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

An Act of Supreme Douchebaggery

If we have not already gathered, I am not a fan of the Religious Right. They do not speak for me. I find them ridiculous, none more so that the abhorrent Focus on the Family. They are the pinnacle of all things hateful, paranoid and ignorant. Given their complete lack of sense, then it is not surprising that they should actually call on people to pray that it rain in Denver on the night that Obama is to speak at the convention at Mile High Stadium. Why? Because we hate the gays and love the unborn babies. These are the two reasons given - abortion and gay marriage. Because that's all we should care about, right? The way marriage is defined and whether or not "all babies want to get borned"? And, we are whiny spoiled brats that need opposing voices to be rained on so we don't have to listen to them. They're asking for a meteorological equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying, "La la la, I can't hear you." Here's what really creases me - why can't we listen and disagree? Why must we perform a rain dance to drown out? Why is everything Obama says wrong because of 2 issues? For the record, Obama has said that he's not in favor of redefining marriage or legalizing gay marriage but rather he's in favor of civil unions. Listen critically and engage in dialogue, I say, but apparently that's too much to ask.

Friday, August 01, 2008

We Interrupt this Friday Five....

to bring you a true life story of how I am my own biggest barrier. This week's Friday Five was on the subject of barriers and I had every intention of playing, but then my own life interfered. Let me begin with apologies to Boss Man as we have a "gentleman's agreement" that he doesn't get blogged about but he plays a significant role in today's drama. I would also contend that I have kept my end of the bargain because I don't blog about his personal life, which BELIEVE ME, is a blog unto itself. And I only say really nice things about him. But I digress. The events of the morning are as follows:

1. I am getting ready for work this morning when I discover the mysterious lack of mascara. I have no idea where it is. Having been raised by a mid-western woman, I have a firm belief that one does not leave the house without having first applied mascara and lipstick, at minimum. As living on the west coast has softened me, I decide to buck up, leave the house, and will go immediately to Walgreen's on my arrival and purchase stop-gap mascara until such time as suitable mascara can be procured. Fine.

2. Arrival at office. Get settled, start up computer, go get mascara. Need purse and wallet. Huh. It seems that my purse is nowhere to be found. I know in an instant that I had left it on the train. Instant nausea sets in. I inventory all the things in my purse - wallet with bank stuff, license, muni pass, etc., calendar, lipstick, mail, OH MY GOSH MY TINY CONDIMENTS THAT ABBY GAVE ME. My tiny condiments! How would I ever practice safe sandwich? This is intolerable.

I had spent my rather lengthy commute this morning standing toward the front of the last car and therefore staring at the back of the previous car and the number 1520B. This is important. It may be the name of my first child. As soon as I discover that the purse is gone, I call MUNI, and get a very cool, very sympathetic person who takes a description of the purse, time and place I got off and that very important number. Then I proceed to wring my hands and stare at the phone.

I receive a return call in about 15 minutes that indeed my purse had been located and I have never been more relieved. The train is at the Civic Center Station and the purse will be dropped off at the MUNI office at Church & Duboce. Here's the thing - I can hop on the MUNI and go get it, but my pass is in the purse, so I could get a ticket, I could fight it, etc. What a pain.

After I learn the whereabouts of my purse, I take my adrenaline-addled self into the boss' office to let him know the scoop. No purse, no mascara. Which is worse, he asks? Obviously, the mascara, I reply. He offers to say something nice to me but knows that I won't like it, so refrains. Then the nicest boss in the universe offers to drive me over there and get my bag. Very sweet.

We hop in the big manly truck and head over there. I run up to the door and knock on it and a very jolly elderly gentleman opens the door and says, "You're much better looking in person than the photo on your driver's license." This I can agree with, so I allow. Then he playfully asks, "Are you looking for something?" Funny. He is great about it, hands over the purse and I gush with gratitude. Boss Man and I stop at a taqueria in the Mission and grab lunch and then head back to the office.

This post is already long enough so I won't go into the details of what my personal barriers are but I will list them and then perhaps do a more detailed re-working of them at another point (aren't you lucky). They are, in no particular order:

1. The inability to accept compliments with which I do not agree. Seriously. How arrogant is that? You can't possibly have an opinion that is different than mine? What is wrong with me?

2. I HATE being the damsel in distress, and that's what I was yesterday. Ack. Let people help. Let people help. This must be my mantra.