Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Family that Pees Together

I had a play date scheduled with BFF Kathy and her two kids last weekend. Her 5-year-old daughter's soccer game got rained out, so we had unexpected extra time together.

"What should we do?" Kathy asked. We wanted to do something fun, indoors.

"The La Habra Depot Children's Museum?" I suggested.

"Or maybe the Discovery Science Center?" Kathy offered.

Her daughter got to pick. Her first choice: to visit the bathroom with the two toilets in the family lounge, the one in the mall's food court near my home.

Kathy laughed with delight. She thought it was an odd choice, but what the heck, it was free.

Kathy's husband braved the rainy, crowded freeways to bring their family of four to West Covina. We enjoyed a good, healthy lunch of chicken, vegetables, and rice in the food court of our local Shopping Town Plaza.

We got lucky! The family lounge restroom was empty as we entered, on that busy, rainy Saturday afternoon. Kathy and her daughter went in first, to use the restroom with two toilets, side by side, one big one for the parents, and one little one for the kids. The three of us men made ourselves comfortable in the lounge area.

The lounge is set up like a nice, comfortable waiting room, with counters on one side for diaper changing, and a microwave for heating up bottles of milk or packed lunches. There are magazines to read, cartoons playing on a T.V. screen, and a play center in the middle of the area rug, one of those sturdy wooden set ups with several colorful and movable pieces. It's supposed to represent a small school bus, so you can pretend to drive, too.

Kathy's husband and almost-3-year-old son went in next. I didn't need a turn.

We spent the better part of an hour in the family lounge, relaxing quietly. Several other families came in after us, mostly young married couples with babies who needed their diapers changed. It became busy, as we had expected. When the two-toilet restroom was occupied by other families, we helpfully pointed out to others waiting that there were regular restrooms on the other side of the food court, across the way. And, no, the regular restrooms are not as special or as nice as the family lounge, so we understood people's reluctance to leave.

None of us seemed anxious to leave. Our palates still needed some sweet, however, so we were finally lured out by the promise of hot fudge sundaes at the food court's McDonald's.

Sometimes, it's the simple things in life that satisfy the most.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

21st Century Awesome!

I saw something new, today, while waiting to cross the street in the Hollywood neighborhood where I work.

At first I thought it was another skateboarder cruising down the Sunset Blvd. sidewalk, until he quickly got closer. The young guy's movement and stance were skateboard-like, but his feet looked like they were on roller skates. In motion, he was perfectly balanced on two separate platforms, small tile-like squares with wheels attached underneath. Fortunately, he stopped at the same intersection.

"They're freeline skates," he answered when I inquired.

When the light turned green, he dropped one freeline skate to step on with one foot, pushed off with the other foot, and then dropped the second skate to meet his launching foot, in a smooth, well-practiced motion, and glided away.

The sight of this new toy in action delighted the kid in me, and at the same time, it also seemed to emphasize how far past prime my age is.

I can't even balance myself in the Heely skates that have been sitting in the back of my closet since I bought them.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Beyond Ocean Dome

A good friend recently asked me what my favorite performing gig had been. That would have to be my time spent at Ocean Dome, in southern Japan.

Ocean Dome was a bizarre place. It was an indoor pool park that was enclosed in a dome covered stadium. On sunny days the dome would be remotely activated to split in the middle and slide apart, opening up right above the center of the park--a man made stretch of artificial beach and ocean, complete with waves. The waves would be cranked up for the surfers' exhibition, one of the park's daily shows. Perhaps the most bizarre thing about Ocean Dome was that it was only about a half mile away from the real beach.

As a high school freshman, I had practically predicted that I would work in a domed facility as an adult. I still have a Language Arts composition of how, in the doomed and imagined year of 2001, pollution would have grown so dense and toxic, it would have become necessary to move all animal species into protective reserves. In my self appointed future, I was working as a veterinarian at one of these sanctuaries, the Last Kingdom, a colossal, glass, domed structure.

When I first saw Ocean Dome in person, however, it seemed to be more along the doomed lines of "A Wrinkle in Time" than my zoological fantasy--it was easy to imagine Ocean Dome as completely empty, and serving as the housing facility for IT, the severed brain and evil nemesis of that story (is it frightening to anyone else that most work places refer to their tech support staff by the two initials, I.T.?).

My limitations in math and science soon prevented me from pursuing an education in biology, as well as any future jobs in caring for animals. Still, it was gratifying to go see "The Simpsons Movie," this past summer, and see a bit of my adolescent dream realized on the big screen when the town of Springfield was quarantined underneath a giNORMOUS hermetically sealed see-through dome.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Soggy Night Dreams

WARNING: The following entry may be TMI

There are fewer things that confirm a young boy's sexual identity and feelings than the dream images that accompany his first nocturnal emission, in my own experience, at least.

Sha Na Na.

The cast of Sha Na Na--that all male group that performed 1950's rock and roll hits and short sketches in a half hour family variety show in the late 70's--they were the guys in my first wet dream. Especially prominent in the dream were Johnny, the hot Latino, and Bowzer.

Bowzer? Yes, Bowzer, the one known for flexing a bicep in his trademark macho pose, mouth wide open, and the one that sang the opening bass vocals of Sha Na Na's closing theme song, "Goodnight Sweetheart."

"Do-do-doo, do-do-doo, do-do-doo, do-DOH"

Was is it just my naive 12-year-old perspective, or was there something homoerotic about this family friendly bunch of guys? First of all, there were those glittering gold blazers, often worn without shirts by Johnny and Denny (who was the one Black guy in the group). Mix those among the denim vests, the sleeveless muscle shirts, a black leather jacket or two, and you basically had a watered down version of the Village People.

There were two women in the cast, Jane Dulo, the elderly, curlers-in-hair matron who would hang out of her apartment window to deliver lines, and Pamela Myers, the perky blonde who had a giant parrot on her poodle-skirt.

In an interview, Pamela Myers mentioned an episode involving a kissing contest or a kissing booth, I can't remember exactly what. What I do remember is Miss Myers saying that Johnny had been the best kisser, shirtless-hottie Johnny, the one who had sang "Those Magic Changes" when Sha Na Na was featured in the movie "Grease."

It's been almost three whole decades since that first dream in the early stages of puberty. And here's a deep, dark, long-kept secret: Bowzer has always seemed to bear too close of a resemblance to my own father.

Ewww! That's beyond TMI, even for myself!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Future Security

Domestic Partner is going out of town for two weeks. His job, which he loathes, drives him crazy. So, for sanity's sake, he actually uses up weeks' worth of vacation time that he has accumulated, on a regular basis.

I am fine without any travelling, right now. I've done enough of that with previous employment. Besides, I have to pay off student loans! I am very much okay with staying at home while Domestic Partner travels alone or with friends.

Does this mean wild nights of unbridled infidelity for me? No . . . (not usually, anyway) What it does mean is peaceful nights of staying in so that the two canine kiddies don't feel neglected. It also means that I get to indulge in unbridled pig-sty messiness. I can eat pizza for dinner in front of the TV instead of our self-enforced soy and veggie meals! I can drink out of the milk and juice cartons without him catching me! Cyclone Pete can hit every room in the house with unlimited untidiness--for two whole weeks!

But it also means that my usual number of prayer requests for safe scooter rides is amped up a couple dozen notches, in a fit of daily paranoia.
One of my biggest fears is that something will happen to me while Domestic Partner is gone, and no one will even think to check on two little black pugs at home, slowly dying of hunger and thirst until it is too late.

Thank you, yes, I am a self-admitted drama queen, at times. But if these are my real fears over domestic pets, what must parents put themselves through in worrying over their human children?

I can alert the family across the street:
"I'm going to hang a red bandanna from the front door knob each night when I come home from work. If you don't see that red banner a-blowin' in the breeze, here is my cell phone number and several emergency contact numbers."

We already have electronic security systems for homes (Domestic Partner and I do not), the ones where people have to punch in a security code each time they leave and enter the house.
Hopefully, when I am much older, I'll be able to have a similar system installed into the home just to ensure my regular well being, a system that would require me to punch in a security code every day. If I don't, or even if I just forget to do so, a security center would be alerted to call and check on me. If I don't answer, then the center would proceed to call my emergency contact numbers to alert friends or relatives to stop by the house and check on me.

This type of system would be especially handy for the elderly and/or for those who live alone. If it's costly to have installed, it would still be worth the peace of mind it would afford me, especially if I have any pets in my old age.

"Someone to waaatch over me . . . " and my surrogate children.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bend Over!

If I ever ask you to go to the gym with me, don't. I will embarrass you, especially among the free weights.

I like to stretch, between each and every set of reps. And I don't stretch "like a guy," either, that is, bent over double with a rounded back, hands dangling just past the knees. No, I stretch like a big ol' girly ballet dancer. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but I do employ actual stretches learned in dance training.

Luckily, no one has ever kicked my ass in all the years and in all of the gyms that I've done my girly stretching. I used to worry about it, at first, but not so much anymore. But still, to this day, whenever I bend over to touch my toes, or squat in a wide second stretch, I don't want to look as if I'm "presenting," so I'll try to stretch in front of any out-of-the-way wall or any broken equipment awaiting repairs. I generally try to avoid bending over in front of mirrors to stretch.

At first, I started stretching between sets as a way to calm my heart rate and my breathing. It was also a good way to avoid wasting time, instead of just sitting there like a big lunkhead taking up space and hogging equipment, the way so many gym dorks do. Stretching is also a good way to maintain my lower back, though, especially since a lot of weight lifting involves the lower back muscles, which are easily strained.

When I do go to the designated stretching area of a gym, I like to do my pseudo-yoga. I like the pose where you lie on your back and throw your feet over your head, your body folded over in half. I'm especially conscious of people looking at me when I'm in this position, my butt to the wind. I can't help wondering if people ever wonder if I'm flexible enough to gratify myself ("Look, Ma, no hands!") in this position.

If I ever do get my ass kicked, at least I'll be warmed up enough to kick high and hard, in self defense.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Last Time I Kissed a Girl

Most people remember their first kiss. I had mine at 15, at church camp, on a breezy summer night.

"Let's go climb the water tower across the road, and look at the stars," Carey had suggested.

Clueless me had thought that we were actually going to gaze at stars. In what little light that was available on top of the water tower, I remember Carey looking at me, in the most non-threatening way, her braces glinting in her gentle smile. Nothing had been verbally communicated, and yet, the clue had become suddenly obvious in my mind. I knew what she wanted to me to do. She had brought the two of us to the proper setting--it had been up to me to make the first move.

Kissing a girl was not as gross as I had thought it might be, even with her tongue in my mouth. I had even tented in my Op corduroy shorts, although I suppose that at 15, the slightest bit of any fleshly contact would've brought that about.
I remember wondering if we should worry about getting our braces permanently locked together.

Carey had given me my first kiss. Jill had given me my last.

"In the eighties . . . ", while I was working at Disneyland, and struggling to find a compromise between my sexuality and Christianity, I had had my last kiss with a girl.
Jill worked in the merchandise department, in the stores of Fantasyland. She used to watch me working, dressed up as Tummi Gummi Bear and interacting with children and parents visiting the park. She had asked around backstage to find out who was inside the bear costume.
Having a pretty girl be interested in me had hardly ever been that easy or automatic, so I jumped at opportunity, and went with the flow.

We barely dated, but we did kiss, on the back of my Vespa scooter, in the employee parking lot of Disneyland, in sight of one of the Disneyland security guards.

Kissing Jill was nice, but I still liked kissing boys better. And more than kissing Jill, I enjoyed the image of myself kissing an attractive girl on the back of my Vespa. I enjoyed the rare affirmation of masculinity that this image gave me, when my usual self perspective involved perpetual fretting over my lack of a masculine persona.
Of course--just like a guy--I was an insensitive 21 year old jerk, and I ended it with Jill without telling her that I was ending it.

I ran into her a decade later, at the (then) Arrowhead Pond, at a Mighty Ducks game. She was working with merchandise there, and I was working as one of the cheerleader types. She was not very friendly to me, even ten years later. I did not blame her.

After telling my coworkers about this pathetic little tragedy, one of them had pointed out her husband to me. Jill's husband looked like a taller version of me.
I wished I hadn't seen him.

The last time I kissed a girl, Jill-from-merchandise, was in 1987, twenty years ago. Her version of this sad little memory may perhaps differ.
There is no way I can take any of it back. And maybe there are some things in life that you may never get another chance to apologize for.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Just Like Van Dyke

The following was submitted as part of my university application essays, in 2004, for an undergraduate program:

As a kid, I wanted to be like Dick Van Dyke when I grew up. Like most children in the early 1970's I only knew Dick Van Dyke from the family films “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” I wanted to dance and sing the way Dick Van Dyke did in those two movies. I wanted to be silly and happy while performing–and make other people happy–just like Dick Van Dyke.

“Oh, no!" my parents protested, "You can’t want to be like Dick Van Dyke! He’s an alcoholic!”

I didn’t know that. I was only eight at the time. And I didn’t care. My focus was on Dick’s singing and dancing, a point my parents seemed to miss. I wanted to be a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club. They wanted me to join MGM, Mentally Gifted Minors. I wanted to attend a performing arts school like the teens on the TV series “Fame.” My parents wanted me to get a “real education.” Maybe there was a reason Dick Van Dyke was an alcoholic.

I attended classes at UCLA, for a year, for my parents, before dropping out to become a dancer. It was difficult, but I did not end up regretting the decision. And I did not become an alcoholic.

I loved being a dancer. I was certainly not the most talented dancer auditioning. But I was a working dancer, mostly on cruise ships and in theme parks. I was happy to make it even to that level.

Dancing is the best feeling in the world for me, whether nailing an audition or perfecting a routine for an audience. It is a natural high that is better than caffeine, better than chocolate, even better than sex (sometimes). It is an endorphin rush that is both a feeling of accomplishment and of unadulterated joy. It is a feeling of defying gravity, even if just for brief moments.

But gravity takes its toll. Dance careers are short lived. The last couple of dance jobs have shown me that my stamina is not what it used to be. I have reached the dreaded identity of “aging dancer.” Lately, my desire to dance has found several outlets through choreography work, including in church musicals, local beauty pageants, and even in group exercise classes at health clubs.

I will always want to dance. Fortunately, the ongoing Palm Springs Follies has a minimum age requirement of fifty-five years old. I better keep practicing!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Innocent Lil' Japanese Mom, Bless Her Heart

My mother can be so seemingly naive, sometimes, that you would think she's handi-capable (yes, I'm attempting to be P.C.) with slight mental retardation.

Remember the Steve Martin film, "Parenthood?" I had watched that at home with both of my parents. During the scene when the power goes out and a kitchen drawer is rummaged through for a flashlight, a "battery powered shoulder massager" is revealed in hand when the lights come back on (I'm drawing a blank on which actor whips it out, but it looks much like the one in the photo, above).

The young daughter asks, "Mommy, what is that?"

Mommy hesitates in her answer. "It's . . . an ear cleaner."

"Well?" my mother asks us. "What is that?"

"Uh, Mom." I hesitate, too, before answering. "Well . . . you don't put it in your ear."

This is the same woman who, after my brother had told our family that he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant, asked "Well, how did this happen?"
The amazement and disbelief in her tone of voice, tinged with impatience, was not faked, bless her heart.
The are four of us, all siblings counted, that my mother bore. I wanted to respond with equal amazement.
"Mom, what, were you knocked out, unconscious, each time that you conceived? Did Dad have to drug you to have sex?"

One of my more memorable, former roommates taught me that Southern women can get away with almost any thinly veiled insult or criticism by sugarcoating it with the quick addendum of 'bless her heart!'

My mother can be such a clueless lil' thing, bless her heart!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Original Recipes

Thank Goddess for ebay!

Initially, I was reluctant to open the gates to even further depths of the hell known as Financial Debt, via online shopping. I'm glad that I took the risk, though, as I have been able to recover so much of what was once lost, but still beloved.

For a paltry $4.51, this week's mail brought me a used paperback copy of Anne McCaffrey's 'Dragonsong.' I already have copies of her books on my shelf, but not with the original cover art. I tend to fall stubbornly in love with the original illustrations of favorite childhood books. And the replacement cover art for McCaffrey's Harper Hall trilogy, in the 80's and beyond, just did not get the representations of fire lizards quite right, dammit!

I used to be one of those kids who did judge a book by its cover, and whose decisions about whether or not to read several books were based on the cover designs and art work. And just as a remix or cover of a popular tune doesn't hold up to the original, usually (in the minds of us old fogeys), I generally feel that the same priciple applies to first edition illustrations. There are exceptions, of course. I absolutely loved Tim Burton's film version of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.' And No Doubt's cover of "It's My Life" was an improvement--but these aren't even book illustrations . . .

I tend to fall instantly in love, too, with any adaptations of books that are able to faithfully recreate original illustrations. I did not see the most recent film version of 'Charlotte's Web,' starring Dakota Fanning, but the painstakingly accurate poster ad, copied from the original cover art, made me want to (see below).

If you still love 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,' look for the 1972 film, now available on DVD, starring Fiona Fullerton (and Michael Crawford as the White Rabbit! I wonder if he ever kicked any children?). This film is another example of an adaptation that faithfully and closely recreates the book's original illustrations (below).

If you're a Roald Dahl fan like me, then you understand the whimsical wonder of Quentin Blake's illustrations. But--BUTT--it was almost sacrilegious to have him redo the illustrations for 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,' 'Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator,' and other Dahl classics.
It tweren't broke! It didn't need no fixin'!
I was dying for another gawk at the fascinating and even sometimes-grotesque illustrations of the originals, marvelously drawn by Joseph Schindelman. And they were nowhere to be found in the children's sections of our local bookstores and city library (Stop looking at me suspiciously--I'm not like Michael Jackson, I swear!).

So, again, and say it with me this time: Thank Goddess for ebay!

One more: Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford the Big, Red Dog, had a fun little series of monster books for kids, back in the day. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm the only one on this planet who remembers 'How to Care for Your Monster,' by Bridwell.
As it turns out, I am only one of a handful, as evidenced by this pop classic that is advertised for sale, on ebay (last time, below).

Manna from heaven! Come to West Covina and take a gander-gander-gander!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Taylor versus Fergie

Is it me? Or do these two look enough alike that Stacy Ferguson could play Taylor Dayne in a bio-pic?

Or do you even give a crap?

Anonymous? (yeah, you, the "batshit-crazy" one)


I thought for sure that Brad Pitt would end up playing Kurt Cobain onscreen. Maybe Courtney's being selfish about selling any rights.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Stardust to Stardust

Beloved and popular children's author/Young Adult novelist, Madeleine L'Engle, passed away, this week, at age 88.

My love of her writing--how her writing made me feel--is what makes me sad to hear about this loss, as I'm sure that it does for many of her fans.

L'Engle is probably best known for her children's classic, 'A Wrinkle in Time,' and for its companion books. One of the reasons I am repeatedly a member of her reading audience is that L'Engle writes simultaneously about scientific and spiritual themes as if they are one and the same, in my interpretations, at least. L'Engle seems to write about science in a way that it was meant to be understood, originally, without any type of creation-versus-evolution conflict.

Most of all, reading L'Engle's books is substantially uplifting for me. It is "refreshment for the soul," as C.S. Lewis wrote in 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader.'
It is the reason that I have read her 'A Ring of Endless Light' over and over in the last twenty-five years.

'A Ring of Endless Light' is a good one to start with, if you're not familiar with her books. The story deals with death, from beginning to end, and how sixteen year old Vicky Austin copes with feeling overwhelmed by it all. And yet, the book manages to be uplifting, maybe because it is also about life. An integral part of the storyline, and perhaps an example of the science-and-religion-as-one theme, is Vicky's communing joyfully with dolphins in the wild.

Whether my interpretation is right or not, L'Engle wrote about scientific subjects poetically, which is part of what makes for such enjoyable reading.
We are all "completely made of stardust," L'Engle would tell people, according to a short essay that is included in a recent printing of 'A Wrinkle in Time.'
"Our little molecules are the leftovers of big stars that exploded eons ago."

Madeleine L'Engle may have reached her life's end, but her light is not extinguished. Just as the travelling light of stars no longer in existence reaches our vision on this planet, her writings will continue to illuminate the minds and lives of both children and adults for many years to come.

For her fans: Madeleine L'Engle is now like Mrs. Whatsit, a star who gave up its life in battle with the dark Thing.

To Miss L'Engle: Wherever you are, like Charles Wallace said to Mrs. Whatsit, "I should like to kiss you."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Obstacles and Progress


On my desktop at work, I am no longer allowed access to the comments sections of my friends' blogs, or even my own. Actually, I'm surprised that I'm still allowed access to any blogs at all. They really cracked down, today.

The main culprit was i-chatting, or instant messaging. And my department was the worst offender, collectively, averaging 35 to 40 hours a week of online visits to "Social Networking and Personal Sites." As our director put it, that amount of time--and money--could be put toward hiring another employee. Or firing one.

My coworkers can no longer access myspace, facebook, or any instant messaging services that they were used to participating in five days a week. We are upset. And perplexed, perplexed as to how to now fill those slow, dull minutes (okay, seconds) of any given work day.

Maybe our work performances will all improve, now.

It was a downer. I was looking for encouragement anywhere, and I found it on Sunset Blvd, in Hollywood, on the side of the House of Blues building. Covering several floors of the outer west side was a mega billboard ad for NBC's "Heroes." Prominently featured were only two cast members. Sistahs and brothahs rejoice--it was the two Asian men. I don't watch the show, so I don't know the characters or the actors' names, but it was the Japanese character with glasses, and a handsome guy with short, spiky hair.

I still hear comments and concern about limited visibility and representation in the media, for almost any ethnicity or race. So, I cling to such significant steps of progress when I unexpectedly happen upon them!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I Can Afford a Little Time

I was wishing he had given me some notice.

Domestic Partner and I were enjoying a leisurely do-nothing Monday off, this past holiday weekend. It wasn't until I heard him talking to "Billy" on his cell phone that I knew that the three of us were going to lunch, later. We were already a few miles away from home, getting a caffeine fix before a gym workout. I couldn't graciously bow out with the usual excuse of "needing to stay home and keep the dogs company."

I know that it's too easy for me to be selfish in my plastic bubble world. It wouldn't cost me anything to join DP and go to lunch with Billy. And I couldn't remember the last time I had seen Billy and his partner "George." The two are nice enough, at least to me and to DP.

Billy is only slightly older than me. He is 27 years younger than George, who is in his early seventies, and they have been together for a quarter of a century. I like George, enough. But he is extremely critical, and he is an equal-opportunity critic. At times, he is downright racist.

So, I found myself riding to their home with the smallest of chips on my shoulder.
I was trying to think of a bitchy-with-a-smile comeback for the inevitable comment from George about my weight gain. George is white and Billy was born in Taiwan. It's as if George expects any of us Asian men to stay eternally thin and forever youthful, at least for those of us still under fifty. Even before we arrived, though, I knew that I couldn't do it. I couldn't be snarky to George.

George has been living with AIDS for a couple of decades. That part of his life is everyday, routine, by now, for him and for friends like us who have known him a while. But George seems to have really slowed down in recent years. Sometimes, it seems as if Billy is silently and patiently waiting for George to finish living his life.

At the door, I hugged George and kissed him on the lips, the way I usually greet him. I was already prepared for the teasing pat to my thicker waist.
"You used to be prettier when you were younger," George taunts.
"We all used to be prettier," I tell him.
It's all I can manage as a response before we change the subject to the usual meaningless topics.

George didn't go out to lunch with us. Billy confessed to us later that he feels trapped because the two of them never go anywhere together. He feels guilty for going out by himself to visit with family and friends. He is caught between wanting to continue his normal, social activities and trying to leave George alone at home as little as possible.

George and Billy are like my honorary in-laws. I had met them within the first 24 hours of knowing Domestic Partner. Twice a year, George remembers to mail birthday cards to both Domestic Partner and me, a few days before our respective birthdays. I had forgotten to thank George for his consistent thoughtfulness. I have never once mailed him a birthday card . . . I don't think. I don't even know when his birthday is.

I shouldn't be so critical of George, even behind his back.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sweaty Glass Crack Days

How hot is it? Hot enough to crack window panes!

A loud noise like a rifle shot startled Domestic Partner and me in the cool air conditioned calmness of Suburban Paradise today. We have sliding glass doors that used to open to the backyard before the family room was added on. After the initial nerve jolting crack, the safety glass on one side proceeded to snap, crackle, and pop for about thirty minutes. It reminded me of that nerve wracking scene in Jurassic Park 2, with Julianne Moore (but with two black pugs instead of the T-rexes).

The family room has no insulation, so it is stifling hot in the summer. The glass must have succumbed to the contrast of that room's trapped-in heat and the coolness of the air conditioned dining room.

And how are you all beating the heat?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Fantasy Life Cut Short

Years ago, I had been fired from Disneyland, fired from the Character Department.
Why did I get fired? The short answer is, 'I kicked a child.'
Well, technically, yes, I did kick a kid, but not on purpose.

The long answer: Alice in Wonderland had organized a game of ring-around-the-roseys with some other costumed characters and visiting children. I was her White Rabbit that day. At 'ashes, ashes, we all fall down' (have you ever heard the morbid origins of that innocent sounding rhyme?), Gepetto, Pinocchio's father, jumped on top of me and started tickling me.

I cannot stand being tickled. I was a thrashing bunny under a merciless old toy maker, and one of my size 16 rabbit's feet--picture clown shoes covered in faux white fur--connected with a child's face.
Both Gepetto and I were put on a three-day suspension. Disney was used to being sued, at this point, so they had to take appropriate action to cover their butts, even though neither the child nor his parents were upset.

The Good Timing Gods were not on my side. During my suspension, my department received a letter from a very irate mother. She complained about a character that had shown her daughter an inappropriate button pinned to his costume.
The button said, 'What if the whole world farted at once?'
The mother had written that she was very upset by this and that "someone like that shouldn't be working at Disneyland."
Her letter included a description of the character costume, date, time, and location inside Disneyland park when the 'incident' had happened. She made it very easy for me to be tracked down, so I didn't see any sense in denying that I had indeed been wearing said button.

I had expected to get slapped on the hand, a verbal warning, or at the worst, a written warning.
Instead, I was fired. Terminated. Only two strikes and I was out of there.
I was devastated. I had a job I really liked. I got to go to work and play, everyday.
At 22 years old, I had forty hours a week, and enough status to have some benefits. I was able to support myself with this fun job.

I felt, for the first time, like I had had the rug pulled out from underneath me.

Did my life get better after that? You betcha'! And only a mere five months later when I landed my first performing gig as a human entertainer.
Did I try to get back into the Mouse House? Almost constantly. And I was turned away, eventually, at every audition for Disney after that.

Six years after being fired, they finally let me back in, as a union dancer for one of their stage shows. But I had a bitter attitude toward Disney for a long time. I had bought into the idea that Disney was about making your dreams come true. My dream was to work as a dancer for Disneyland. But when you get in the Mouse House and you're backstage, you soon realize that Disney is more about making a profit than they are about fulfilling dreams. It is all fantasy, all pretend, not real.

Disneyland has always been like an ex-boyfriend that I'm always yearning to get back together with, against my better judgment. It had been a bittersweet love-hate relationship for me, for the better part of two decades.
And as with any broken relationship, all it took was time, and more time, and then even more time, to get over the heartbreak of it all and truly move on.

And what if the whole world farted at once? I received several interesting and slightly varying answers from children, but my favorite came from a very serious and calm looking girl with glasses: "My, that would certainly be a coincidence."