Monday, May 11, 2009

For Mama

You read a lot about mothers in literature and lore. About serene, wise women who dispense worn maxims and are beloved for their famous pie crusts. Or stifled women, who entertain and charm and hold secrets. Or wild, wonderful women who just happened to make terrible mothers- all smoke and scent and leaving.

It might be the times, it might be without the lens of purposeful prose, but when I think of my mother, I believe I am too close to her still to make any sweeping or poetic judgements.

Honestly, the character I relate my mother to most is probably Jill Taylor: the mom from Home Improvement.

Here's a woman who talks loud on the phone, is perpetually annoyed with some project or other of her (exasperating yet ultimately capable and infinitely loving) husband, tries to keep up with her kids' antics, while also always remembering to do what she loves (be it her job, or the time Jill goes back to school).

From a pretty early age, I think I learned to recognize my mother as a woman in the context of the world around us, and not just as Mom. She has generally always worked at least part-time, has always been active in the church community, makes sure to carve out time for friends on a regular basis, and fits into her (huge) extended family in a niche that always allowed me to see her as someone's cousin, a niece, a sister. So often I think our perceptions of our mothers are dominated by our inability to see them as anything other than our mothers.

I hear often that I bear similarities to her (the shape of my hands, my laugh, some other miscellaneous mannerisms) and I see them, too (the way I conduct small-talk, the way I prepare meals). I wonder, when we are not as close- when I move to a different city or the day she eventually passes on (God willing, decades and decades from now), what I will really remember about her. The things I will realize it was she who taught me, and no one else.

I think one of her most wonderful gifts is her ability to use the adversity in her life to benefit others. I have seen her draw on painful and difficult experiences and in turn, offer comfort and hope to people who would otherwise feel desperate and alone. Likewise, she does similarly with bounty in her life, and is wonderful about letting it go to people who need it more.

Mothers' Day at first appears to be a silly holiday, but I suppose any day that makes you reflect on the woman who brought you into the world can't be all bad. Above all, I am thankful that my mother somehow manages to be so normal, but also extraordinary. To raise her children in a stable and healthy environment, while fulfilling her promise to remain married to my father, is a feat in itself. I never grew up for want of anything, and managed not to be spoiled. Despite my observations that she is so much more than a mother, being a Mom might be her best talent.

I am so thankful for that.

What about you? What have you learned from your mothers? What do you admire most about them?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Straight Up: Paula Abdul

There are few things that irk me as much as celebrity for celebrity's sake- people who become obnoxiously ubiquitous and overexposed for no apparent reason, other than to fuel their own unhealthy self-obsessions. It seriously grinds my gears.

The most recent object of my wrath (previous offenders include: Paris Hilton, everyone who is a part of the Laguna Beach/Hills franchise, children of legitimate celebrities) is 90's hit-maker, American Idol's drunkest judge, and best person to watch on local news interviews, Paula Abdul.

Let me preface this by saying I've been stewing about this for days, but only today realized that her pain pill addiction started as a valid dependency due to a car crash, or a plane crash, and not just a career nosedive. She's been through a lot, I get it, fine. Good for her. However...

The most recent thing that's been bugging me is that, yes, on the way to work in the mornings, I like to listen to the radio. The problem with this is that 99% of morning radio is absolutely worthless junk. This forces me to skip around from station to station to avoid commercials (it doesn't work) and I think for the last 4 days running, Paula Abdul has been a guest on the "John Jay & Rich" morning show (it's awful. Don't listen to it). She sounds perpetually drunk, and it is such an obvious and desperate PR stunt for her new album, that I can't help but be annoyed.

Paula, I like American Idol, ok? I do. How can I not love the institution that gave the world Kelly Clarkson? I love Simon's little smirk, especially when you say something stupid, and I love when he draws little mustaches on your face.

But I do not love that you are desperately clinging to your song & dance career, as it was over years ago, with that beloved song which I first heard on my next-door-neighbor and best friend's giant cassette player: "Straight Up".

Girl, you are done. And now, a video montage of all things that you ARE still good for:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Mothers' Day Present for Me

Ok, I'm not a mother, obviously. But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the gift I'm giving my own mother for this most ridiculous of holidays.

I bought us two (excellent) seats for the grand finale of the Jefferson Dancers' Spring 2009 Recital.

According to Wikipedia:
The Jefferson Dancers are the performing leg of the magnet arts dance program at Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon, United States. The company was founded by Mary Vinton Folberg in the early 1980s.

Since its inception, the Jefferson Dance Program has trained many young dancers who have gone on to further their training in some of the leading performing arts colleges in the country including New York University—Tisch School of the Arts, North Carolina School of the Arts, SUNY Purchase, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Bennington College, University of Utah and Juilliard. Former Jefferson Dancers are performing all over the world, with professional dance companies.

Basically, they are high schoolers and they are phenomenal dancers.

I am taking mama to the 7:30 PM showing this coming Saturday- tickets available through Ticketmaster (or sometimes, you can just get lucky and buy leftovers at the Will Call box office the day of the show)!