Speaking of Pride Day

I had dinner with my grandfather, GP, last night.  This was particularly awesome because I don’t see him very often these days and certainly not without the distraction of children and dogs.  Besides the fact that he’s a great guy, he helps me to check my politics (he was ahead of my family curve of swinging to the left) and reminds me that there are plenty of Christians out there that are standing among those I would call The Good Guys.

We’d planned for an early dinner with his lady friend, J, and I arrived at his place around 4pm.  We sat down and started talking books, because I had spent the day trolling every bookstore from Andersonville to Lincoln Park, and he told me that his church had a book club.  The most recent title was the memoir of a transgender lady.   He stumbled a bit over the word “transgender”, as though he wasn’t entirely certain that was the correct and/or polite adjective.  I didn’t really notice that at the time, since my head had exploded, but I managed to ask the title of the book.  He didn’t have it quite right, but I am pretty sure it was Crossing: A Memoir, by Dierdre McCoskey.  She is a professor at the University of Chicago.

Me:     So, did you read it?

GP:     No, but J did.  She can tell you about it.  I went to the discussion, though.

Me:     What did you think?

GP:     Mm.  I don’t like her politics.

Me:     What’s wrong with her politics?

GP:     Well.  She’s an economist and she was talking about minimum wage.  She said that it is better for the economy if Wal-Mart is allowed to pay its employees whatever it wants.  You know, I am a fiscal conservative and even I think that is wrong.

That was it.  That was all he had to say about her.  At dinner, I asked J about the book:

J:       Yes, I read it twice.

Me:    Why did you have to read it twice?

J:       It was a lot of information and I wanted to be sure I understood.  It’s very…detailed.  About the process a person goes through.

Me:    GP says he doesn’t like her politics.

J:       GP!  She said she’s a Libertarian!

GP:    I know!  That’s what I don’t like!

J went on to tell me that the book club meeting was packed full.. far more people than usual.  She expected that people were just curious.  I understood her to mean “curious” in a tabloid story kind of way, but I don’t even care.  This church – which is not just open to, but led by gay people – invited its parishioners to read and discuss the story of a local lady whose experience was completely foreign to them.  They invited the lady to meet with the parish and talk about it.

And my grandfather didn’t mention a man or a woman.  He only saw a Libertarian.  Happy Pride Day.

Rainbow White House

Chasing Off Boys

I had a sleepover with my nieces last night while their brother, father and grandmother were out of town.  They  are both fascinated and sometimes intimidated by my dogs.  Both dogs are very barky, though Fiona settles down and makes friends pretty quickly.  Gibbs is high-strung, high-energy and tells the whole world when something makes him uncomfortable.  Like little girls running around the house.  I snapped this shot shortly before bedtime last night.  Fiona was busy being petted by Ashlyn.

11 2014

This morning, we were gathered in my mother’s bedroom.  The dogs were doing the wrestle/chase thing and Ainslie couldn’t tell if they were fighting or playing.  I told her that it was sometimes hard to tell with Fiona and Gibbs because Fiona is the big sister and when Gibbs annoys her, she can be pretty bossy.  (Yes, yes.  I said, “bossy”.  I didn’t have another wordy handy for conversation with a six-year-old.  My bad.)

Ainslie said she had the same problem with her brother, Alex.  “He’s bossy and mean sometimes even when he is playing!”

I asked what she does when Alex is bossy and mean.  “I make him go away.”

“How do you make him go away?” I asked.

“I sing ‘Let it Go’,”  she replied.

“The song from Frozen?”

“Yeah,” she giggled.  “I don’t even like that song, but he really hates it and when I start singing – he goes away!”

The child is a genius.

Road Trip 2014: How it Began

Road trip 2014 started with..I blocked a week from my work calendar for a vacation and then didn’t plan anything.  By the time I got serious, the ticket prices had skyrocketed.  At the same time, I had decided that I have not had enough summer and I wanted to be someplace where I was absolutely certain the weather would be balmy.  I was looking at New Orleans when my mother – who can’t stand the idea of my being in New Orleans by myself even though I have been there plenty of times before – reminded me that Vicksburg, Mississippi has been on my road trip bucket list for awhile.

Why, yes.  It had.  It’s a History Nerd thing.  Don’t judge.

So I started looking for hotels.  I came up empty with my usual suspects – chain hotels where I have points or status or something useful to keep the cost down.  Then I went to the website for the Vicksburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and found they have a whole lot of Bed and Breakfast places where the prices were quite reasonable.  Because, you know.  Who wants to be in Mississippi in August?

This Yankee.

So that is how I found Cedar Grove Inn.  It was once one of those old antebellum mansions in town that became and B&B and has since built out to have 33 rooms, a bar, a restaurant and a swimming pool.  It looked like a lovely place to sit outside and read books.  So I clicked over to Trip Advisor to read the reviews, and the first one I found was a guest that had experienced a haunting.  You might want to take a minute and read this.

IMG_1849

Filtered picture I posted to Instagram when we arrived.

Short version:  the Library Suite is a two-story room.  The library is on top and the ghostly gentleman of the house seems to hang out there.  The bedroom is down a spiral staircase in what had been a wine cellar…and later, during the siege of 1863, a morgue.  The dead soldiers were kept there because it was cooler.

Damn straight I wanted to stay there.  But I wasn’t sure that I wanted to stay in the Library Suite by myself.  So I started asking everyone at work.  Stay at the hotel, they said, but not in that room.  Yeah.  That wasn’t the only room that was haunted.  It just sounded the scariest.

When I told my sister-in-law, Becky, about the place she said:  “Oh, you need to go there.  And you need to stay in that room.  And you can take your brother with you because he needs a vacation.”

It took a little bit of schedule juggling, but I booked the Library Suite the next day.

Conversations with My Brother

I went on a road trip with my brother.  I will have stories and pictures as soon as I get around to uploading them but for now, a conversation from the car:

 

(Leonard Cohen is playing on the iPod.)

Scott:  Leonard Cohen songs are all about sex.  Even that really popular one..what was it?

Me:     Hallelujah.

Scott:  Yeah.  Hallelujah.  It sounds all Biblical and stuff, but it’s really about sex.

Me:     No.  It’s a break up song.  I was just talking about this on Facebook.  Everyone thinks it’s about a religious experience, but I swear, it’s a break up song.

Scott:  It’s about sex.

Me:     It talks about sex and uses religious symbolism.  But it’s a break up song.

Scott:  Hang on.  “She tied you to the kitchen chair, she broke your throne and she cut your hair….”  that’s clearly Biblical.

Me:      A Biblical break up.  “And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song…”

Scott:   …damn.  It’s a break up song.

Me:     It is possible that I think everything is a break up song.

Scott:  No.  It’s a break up song.

 

(Two days later.  “A Thousand Kisses Deep” is on the iPod.)

Scott:  Damn.  They’re all break up songs.

Christmas Princess Shopping

This year, my family finally got its act together and made some Amazon wish lists.  The adult ones are incredibly boring, but for the kids, it is quite useful.  Then this happened.  From the list of Ashlyn, age 3 1/2:

That is a Barbie Mariposa Fairy doll.  I presume that it is from some Barbie movie or TV show about which I want to know exactly nothing.  So this is what I think of as “The Princess Dilemma”.  On one hand, I do not want my nieces to be engulfed in the princess culture.  I do not want to contribute to the princess culture.  But particularly in the context of Disney, this stuff is ubiquitous.  They’ve already been exposed to it, they already want these toys.  And I want to bring them things they like.  So my response is not to fight it, but to use the toys as an opportunity to talk about stuff.  For example:

A few years ago, my nephew Alex (then age 6ish) asked who my favorite princess was.  When I told him it was Belle, he asked why.  I told him to guess.  He thought for a minute, lit up and said, “Because she likes to read books!”

Absolutely.  She also rescues her father and the Beast and saves the day.

Around the same time, my friend Elijah (just turned 8) announced that he didn’t like Ariel, The Little Mermaid.  He said, “She makes bad decisions.”

Yes!  I am eternally grateful to Elijah, because he showed me how to explain my disgust with Snow White to the children without having to use the words “complete moron” or “makes me want the bad guy to win”.  Snow White makes a very bad decision.  And you know what?  Ainslie, age 5, is already starting to outgrow Disney princesses.  This year for Halloween she decided to be a lady bug, while Ashlyn was Cinderella.  But back to Barbie.

I am somewhat less worried about the body image thing than many people.  This is a post for another day, but I am rather  convinced that the true enemy is Photoshop, not Mattel.  But it has always irritated me that the Barbie dolls in my day were all Malibu, Cheerleader, Figure Skater blahblahblah.  At least now Barbie has a career.  Or several.  So I bought that fairy Barbie doll.  And a doctor Barbie doll.  And an astronaut Barbie doll.

 This is how I do Christmas.

Text From My Brother

Scott: Did you watch the movie Ted?

Me:  Of course I haven’t.

Scott:  There’s about two minutes on YouTube I will find for you.

A few minutes later, he sent me this:

I was sitting in the parking lot heading into a Project Linus event when I received it.  I rolled my eyes and clicked.  Then laughed my head off and felt sorry for all the only children in the world.

P.S.  You know how my brother is dumb?  He also sent that to our mom.

 

Dallas

When I was a kid, Dallas was my favorite show.  Favorite.  Han Solo may have been my first love, but Bobby Ewing was the first, “I am going to marry a guy just like that.”

Like many people, (seriously, I checked the stats on the ratings) I began losing interest when the supercouple of Bobby and Pam was permanently dismantled.  I

couldn’t tell you a thing that happened in the last season except for the grand (silly) finale.

When I heard about the reboot on TNT, I set my DVR, but didn’t watch it.  Then I sat through two episodes.  It wasn’t horrible, (Well.  It was half-horrible.) but it was no Downton Freakin’ Abbey.  And the truth was, it made me sad to see Larry Hagman so…old.  So I let my DVR run and left it alone.  I caught up a bit reading the recaps while it was on hiatus.  And then I read about Hagman’s death.

I read everything I could find about it.  That it was Thanksgiving and he was in Dallas.  He had filmed a lot of scenes for the second season.  Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray – his longtime co-stars and friends – were with him at the end.  Duffy reminded me that when he left the show for that terrible season (the one that ended with the shower and “it was all a dream”), he returned because there was a very meaty contract and because Larry Hagman asked him to.  But I wasn’t all that interested in how TNT was going to kill off the character.  I wasn’t planning on watching.  And then someone in my house started asking about it. 

It is my own fault, really.  I spent too much time as a nine-year-old recapping every episode to my parents.  My father could tune me out.  My mother had a harder time.  I told her what I knew.  Then last night, I walked into her bedroom and she shushed me.  She shushed me.  It was the last five minutes of Dallas.  She had watched the funeral.

Ugh.

So I watched it tonight, all handy on the DVR.  And it was good.  It might have required Kleenex.  It was true to the spirit of everything I know about the characters and the stories past and present.  (Although seriously, Sue Ellen?  I don’t care if it’s a scheme to trick him into handing over drilling rights.  Hitting on Gary is icky.)  Then I looked up some recaps for the previous few episodes and my brain started turning on the different ways the story could run.  And because I am obsessed with the balance of the Universe: if J.R. is gone, then who the hell is Bobby?

Dammit, Mom.