Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Learning Colors With Strawberry Shortcake: A Critic's Review

After some heavier posts lately I thought I would post something a little lighter...and stupid, quite frankly.

This afternoon I picked up an old children's book that used to belong to my younger sister, but that now my nieces read.  It was a Strawberry Shortcake-themed book designed to help kids learn colors.  I was just thumbing through it as I have many times when I noticed an inconsistency that bothered the anal-retentive part of me a lot.

Although the book is designed primarily to teach kids colors, there is a "story": Strawberry Shortcake and her friends are taking a walk when they encounter all these different colors, and they comment on them.

At the beginning of the story, we see Strawberry Shortcake, Apple Dumpling, Plum Puddin', and Huckleberry Pie starting on this walk.  Strawberry Shortcake's cat, Custard, and Huckleberry Pie's pet dog, Pupcake, also went along for the walk  (Little piece of trivia: Pupcake originally belonged to Huckleberry Pie and looked like this:

but in later incarnations Pupcake became Strawberry Shortcake's dog and looked like this):

Apparently after Strawberry Shortcake stole and changed his dog, Huckleberry Pie got a new pet named Shoofly Frog.

In any case, these four friends and the cat and dog go on their adventure and teach kids colors at the same time.

"Let's go for a walk and learn about colors, " Strawberry Shortcake says to her compadres.  They walk by some red stuff.  Strawberry Shortcake comments that the strawberries are red.  They see some yellow corn (Plum Puddin' makes a comment) and some green items like a hose, a bench, and some lettuce (Strawberry Shortcake talks about those).  Then they march past some purple grapes and flowers, which Plum Puddin' notices.  Next, they see some brown dirt and a basket and some bread and peanut butter (Strawberry Shortcake comments on those).  Then they pass by some orange carrots and pumpkins, and Raspberry Tart mentions those.  (What the hell?  Where did Raspberry Tart come from?) 

The weird inconsistency is that Raspberry Tart, whose name, incidentally, was later changed to Raspberry Torte, shows up for just this one page of the story.  She wasn't with the gang at the beginning of the story nor is she with them at the end.  She just shows up for this one page and says what she has to say, and then we never hear from her again.  I just thought it odd.

After Raspberry Tart's mysterious entrance and exit, the gang passes by some blue stuff such as a watering can and a sprinkler.  Blueberry Muffin freaks out (Now where did she come from?  She also is nowhere to be found in this book until this page, but she, unlike Raspberry Tart, at least sticks around for pretty much the rest of the book).

Next the gang happens by some pink things like roses and the inside of a watermelon and a parasol and some strawberry ice cream that Strawberry Shortcake now magically has (where did she get it, I want to know).  Then Strawberry Shortcake comments on the white daisies, and we see some white clouds.  (What we don't see are Apple Dumpling and Pupcake and, of course, Raspberry Tart, who have mysteriously vanished).  Strawberry Shortcake also makes a feeble attempt at making another reference to white by saying that the meadow they're in is covered with snow in the winter (well, it ain't now, girlfriend, so methinks you're stretching things a bit).

 And now we're at the end of the book looking at several of the different-colored things like a yellow sunflower, white daisies, a green hose, red strawberries, an orange carrot, the blue sprinkler Blueberry Muffin was freaking out about, some purple flowers, and a pink parasol.  Only now it's just Strawberry Shortcake, Apple Dumpling, and Pupcake and Custard that remain.  All of Strawberry Shortcake's other friends (Plum Puddin', Blueberry Muffin, Huckleberry Pie, and the elusive Raspberry Tart) have all disappeared.  I can only assume the Purple Pie Man got them.

This book may be good at teaching colors, but the narrative is very inconsistent and the characters are all over the place (literally).

As I was making fun of the book, I remembered when Strawberry Shortcake was in her heyday in the 80s.  My younger sister was quite a fan.  I thought the characters were very girly and old fashioned.  The only one who interested me at all was the Purple Pie Man, probably because he was out to destroy Strawberry Shortcake and her friends (and I just found out today he had a cohort named Sour Grapes).

I remembered vaguely the tune sung in the old 80s commercials, but only the first phrase (which was "Strawberry Shortcake...").  I soon found out why I couldn't remember any more of the song.  It's because the rest of the lyrics changed depending on the commercial.  For example, one would say, "Strawberry Shortcake / in her floppy hat" and another would say, "Strawberry Shortcake / with her freckled nose", or "Strawberry Shortcake / Berry Happy Home", etc.

My older sister told me the Strawberry Shortcake gang has been updated.  Whereas in the 80s they were kind of an old fashioned, Holly Hobbie 80s legwarmers sort of look:

now they're supposedly hip and mod:

Look, Huckleberry Pie even skateboards now.  So hip!

As my sister said, "Now she wears pants."  I guess women's lib has caught up with old Strawberry.  She's a happening chick now.

On a completely unrelated note, I've noticed they've modernized Sesame Street, too.  I don't like it.  It seem too chaotic, frenetic, and computer-generated now.  I'll take old-fashioned Sesame Street any day.  Since I was never into Strawberry Shortcake at all, she can do whatever the heck she likes.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Losing Another Mother

I wrote here about two friends of mine I met on my mission named Jacques and Marlyse.  When I last wrote about Marlyse, she was battling cancer and there was a good chance she would die.  I last heard from her in June of 2011, and she wasn't doing well.

Since our last communication, I have tried this past year to get in touch with her and Jacques, to no avail.  I feared Marlyse had passed away, but I had no confirmation...until last night.

Last night I felt the prompting to write them again and I did so.  This got me to thinking about our time together, and so I surfed the net looking for any information about them that I could.  I saw their house on GoogleMaps and thought how wonderful it is that modern technology can allow us to see a friend's house on the other side of the world.  I was reminded of the good times we had when I visited Jacques and Marlyse.

And then I stumbled across Marlyse's obituary.  She actually died two months after her last email to me.  I was saddened by her death, but more so by the fact that it took me over a year to find out.  I was surprised that Jacques hadn't let me know.  I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it hurt just the same.

I imagine how empty Jacques' life must be without Marlyse.  She was his rock, and she is what often kept him together.  I mourn for his loss and wonder how he's doing.  I hope he's okay.  I wrote him again hoping he receives my email and knowing that I feel his pain.

Jacques and Marlyse have always been very important to me.  I often referred to them as my Belgian parents.  I am sad that I have lost my Belgian mother and equally disheartened that it took so long for me to find out about it.

It's weird that I found out about this just when I'm going through so much angst with my own mom.  It's probably not a coincidence.

Rest in peace, Marlyse.  I love you.

Finding Out Your Friends Are From CrazyTown

One thing I love about Facebook is reconnecting with all the different friends from different periods in my life and the ability to keep in touch with them.  One thing I hate about Facebook is finding out that some of those friends think or believe things I wish they didn't think or believe.

Anybody who is my friend on Facebook knows very well that I am an Obama supporter.  I have many liberal friends and many conservative friends and some in between.  That's terrific.  I love that people have different opinions about what it take to make this country great, and I don't expect anyone to follow my beliefs nor do I fault anyone for having theirs.

Where I do take issue is when certain friends become very extreme in their beliefs or worse, when those beliefs are based on things that I feel are untrue.  And I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum who I think are way too overzealous.  I have one friend who day after day posts diatribe after diatribe criticizing the Republican party or Mitt Romney, and I tell you, it gets to be a little much, and frankly, I don't think it does much to help his credibility.  I realize I can stop viewing his posts, but every once in a while he posts something I feel is worth reading, but wading through a lot of his anti-Republican, anti-religion posts gets annoying at times.

Another friend from my mission, who I quite like, actually, recently posted on my wall the question, "Can you tell me [Cody] why Obama claims to be Christian when he mocks Christ and denies the Bible?"  My original post was simply about voting and how I thought it important to vote, whoever you wished to vote for.  I didn't even mention Obama.

I responded, "I don't know where you are getting that information, but that is blatantly false. I have never known Barack Obama to do either of those things."

My friend then sent me several videos "proving" that he did.  Never mind that her first exhibit was a video that took a bunch of speeches Obama has given and spliced them in a way that made him sound like he was saying things he never actually said, such as basically admitting he was a Muslim and wanted to destroy the country.  The video was so badly edited, I would have thought it laughable if my friend hadn't been so gullible to actually believe it.

She also sent several other videos from clearly biased sources taking things Barack Obama said out of context to portray him in a way that does not match who I believe him to be.  My friend accused Barack Obama of trying "to turn the USA into the United States of Islamic America just like he has with his homeland in Kenya."  

And I thought, "Oh, my gosh!  I read about people like this all the time, but they're always so abstract to me.  Never in a million years would I suspect that I am actually friends with somebody from CrazyTown."  But I am.

She really believes this stuff, and I know there are many out there who believe the same thing.  Look, if you don't like Barack Obama because of his policies, I can buy that, but when you base your opinion of him on stuff that simply seems based in lies, I have a hard time having an intellectual discussion with you.

I was also dismayed that some of my more liberal friends starting attacking my misguided friend.  I don't find that useful, either.

I replied to my friend, "I'm sorry; you are my friend and I love you dearly, but I think you are very misinformed about who Barack Obama is. Your first source is a video where someone has clearly taken things he said out of context and spliced them in a way to make it sound as though he said things he clearly never actually said. Whoever put that video together is being dishonest. The other videos are from biased sources that are creating a narrative that does not reflect who I believe Barack Obama to be. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree, but the Barack Obama I know is an honorable man - not perfect, by any means, but certainly not the person these videos make him out to be. After all the years you've known me, do you think I'm such a bad judge of character that I would choose to vote for someone who was willfully and maliciously trying to harm the country I love?

"I think both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have good qualities, but in all honesty, I find Obama more trustworthy, and if you have a problem with that, I'm sorry. But I cannot agree with you that Obama is trying to create a United States of Islamic America or that he is not a citizen of this country. Those are not facts; that is misinformation."

To her credit, my friend removed all the videos she posted, but she did write me again a couple of days later to say this:

 Thank you, my dear friend.  I feel the same about you.  My intervening was certainly not based in bad intentions even if your friends seemed rather rude to me.  But that does not surprise me.  You know me well and we know each other well enough to know that we are good people.  

"But you see, my country [France] is in a state that might surprise you if you went back.  We know in Europe from these ideological Marxist and socialist ideas of communism that it makes us dependent on a government that controls our lives.  In only five months, the new governmental regime in France has created phenomenally damaging dangers.  I respect everyone's ideas, but when it endangers a country, I cannot agree.

"Truthfully, I do not like Obama for reasons that disturb me which I am able to discern for myself.  The information I know is a confirmation of what I feel.  These words permit me to know the character traits which cannot be mistaken.  I followed the presidential debates closely, and I am very disappointed for I love your country as well as mine.  But I do not agree with how Obama runs the country and even less that this election is not the honorable image of the American heartland.
 I can say it to you, but I do not like that he only lies and blemishes the image of your beloved country that I love as much as you do.  I do not feel patriotic at all, and I do not trust him.  I just wanted to raise the issue of his real identity [that he is a Muslim] because there are many that wonder what is behind the facade he claims.

"Sorry, I did not wish to offend anyone, but just wanted to clarify.  I am sure what is behind this man.  And it is sad he has used much negligence in the deaths of the four Americans murdered [in Libya], but hides what really happened using lies and deceit.  This is not normal.  The truth finally comes out.  It's true that ignoring the truth or refusing to listen to the truth can do much harm.

"I hope he is not reelected for the good of your country, but also the world.  Facts like this cannot be ignored.  [Cody], I do not trust him.  He and his partner, Joe Biden, do not show their concern for the good of the USA.  Their lighthearted attitudes on TV have greatly surprised a lot of us who live in France.  I fear that if Obama is reelected for another four-year term, you will follow in the footsteps of Europe, a very sad result that causes much suffering: the death of freedom and independence subject to the full power of the state.  We experienced the brunt of World War II with the occupation of Nazism, and we know what happened there.  Socialism leads to the failure of a country and submission leads to devastating and cruel occupation.

 "I think well of you and I wish you the best.  You are my friend, and I have great memories of your mission in France and those that you have met.  France and your country can only continue because of our freedom and independence.  We have a common history, and we are bound by it.  I pray that this regime does not lead to more like us as we are gradually losing our joy of being free.  I am enclosing what is a real [another video].  It makes me very sad.  I love you, my friend."

Okay, I get it.  Big government leads to enslavement and loss of freedom.  She thinks Barack Obama will lead to a more socialistic government.  Okay, I can buy that sentiment.  I certainly know there are many Americans who buy it.  But the video "evidence" she passed along is both biased and based in hyperbole and flat-out lies.

Be afraid of Obama if you want, but for heaven's sake, base your fear in real facts; not this fear-mongering extremist Tea-Party crap.  I just don't buy it.

Look, I thought George W. Bush was the worst president I've known in my lifetime (and that included Nixon), but I never once thought he was un-American or didn't have the country's best interest in his heart.  I disagreed with his methods (and think it Mitt Romney presidency will take us back to some of that), but I never thought he was out to intentionally destroy the country, nor do I feel that way about Mitt Romney (actually, my big complaint with Mitt is I really don't know what he stands for as it seems he just panders to whomever he happens to be talking to).

All this "Obama-wasn't-born-in-this-country-he's-a-Socialist-Muslim-bent-on-destroying-this-country BS is just that: BS - perpetrated by those who don't want him as their president.

I have friends who want to vote for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama because they think his economic policies will work better or because they want less government intrusion (although I find that ironic coming from a party that doesn't seem to mind intruding on whether my partner and I can get married or whether a woman has the right to make a choice about her own body, but whatever) or because they don't like Obama's healthcare plan or because they don't feel Obama's policies are working or because they feel his administration is spending too much, etc.  Fine.  I can respect all that.  But when you get your "facts" from CrazyTown, I start to have a problem.

I guess I was just surprised by this friend.  I thought she was smarter and less gullible.  I was also surprised to read on her Facebook page this rather telling joke:  

An Islamist gets into a taxi and as soon as he sits down, asks the driver to turn off the radio.

"I don't want to listen to this music. Our religion forbids it. At the time of our prophet this music didn't yet exist. This western music was made only for you infidels. "

The driver turns off the radio, stops the car, gets out and opens the back door.

The Islamist looks at him and asks, "Why did you stop?!"

The taxi driver responds, " Taxis didn't exist at the time of the prophet. So, get out now and wait for a camel!"

It surprises me because it betrays a racism I did not realize my friend possessed.  

When I look at her Facebook page, it reminds me of my overzealous liberal friend in that it contains diatribe after diatribe about Obama, and so much of it is so extreme, it's hard to take any of it seriously.  It almost seems based in irrational fear.  I don't care if she doesn't like Obama or his policies, but the lens with which she views Obama is so distorted, in my opinion, that it just makes her look a little crazy.  

I have another friend who is the same way, although I am not as surprised by her.  It seems par for the course.

She wrote about an article I posted on my Facebook page:

"Even if Romney had only paid 1% it still would have been more than Obama, a man I find to be the most racial and religiously biased president we have ever had. He and his wife are far more out of touch with the middle class than Romney. The evidence is at the gas pump and in the millions of tax dollars he has provided to companies that have gone bankrupt while their CEO's are paid big bonuses. While Romney has aided companies, institutions and governments to succeed financially.

"And don't even get me started on the Nazi like pogroms that have already started against whites, Christians, Mormons and obese people. (Really fat people are the biggest threat to national security?) Or the treaties Obama wants to sign with the UN that would take away our Constitutional rights, void the Bill of Rights and eventually make these United States part of a one world government. 

"I am sorry for the tirade, but not the stand that I take. I am finding more and more difficult to stay quiet while my liberal friends plaster their message of division and hate... of bias on my wall, and of them getting angry with me for pointing out the flaws and weakness in their arguments. Or saying that Conservatives are on the wrong side of history, from which it can be inferred that they are implying Conservatives are wrong and Liberals are right and that Conservatives have to change...mmm isn't that what Liberals are always shouting that Conservatives have no right to tell people what is right or wrong or to change, line up with Conservative beliefs? Yet it is alright for Liberals to say Conservatives must change, we be inclusive of all peoples and accept liberal values and lifestyles accept the Liberal view...

"I have formulated my political views by reading and watching numerous articles from mainstream media to conservatively biased networks. And copious amounts of research and reading of historical text and modern apologia. Can you say the same? When was the last time you read the Constitution? The Bill of Rights? Listened to the other side from their viewpoint and not the from the biased spin of some one who does not share their values? Did you know that statistics show that in many ways Republicans and Democrats are actually fighting for the same goals? It just the spin placed on the statistics that support the way they want to get to the end game? Some times if you state the question a little differently the supporting evidence supports both sides of the argument?"

I responded:

"Evidently, we see some things differently. Interesting how two people can have different perspectives on how they see the world. One of the things that makes this country so great is our freedom to be able to give voice to our thoughts. I appreciate yours. I don't agree with some of them, but I support your right to share them. Perhaps I will respond to them in a private message when I have time, but I have a long drive ahead of me right now, and, really, I doubt there is anything you could say to me or that I could say to you that would sway each other toward the other's point-of-view. Instead, I think it would lead to fruitless arguing and tension, and I am not interested in pursuing that vein of thought.
 "And, yes, I am well aware that Republicans and Democrats are often after the same things while they may disagree on the methods used to get there. I have said so before. I actually think as citizens of the United States, we have more in common than we have differences. I try to be well-rounded in the sources I use to get my news. The article in the original status is obviously biased toward the liberal side. I agree with that and said so, but unlike you, there are things in the article I agree with."

I'd probably be more prone to listen to her arguments if her Facebook page wasn't filled with incorrect information that has been verified by websites such as Snopes to be based on hoaxes.  Plus, this friend has always been both homophobic and racist, and we have rarely agreed on anything politically.  Why do I keep her around, you ask?  I like to surround myself with all viewpoints, even the crazy ones.  It keeps me well-rounded and helps me know what's out there.  Besides, flaws or not, she is still a friend.

For the record, I don't think either of these friends are stupid.  Misinformed, perhaps; but not stupid.

Anyway, that's my post for today.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I've been full of so many conflicting emotions lately.  I feel like I am on a roller coaster.  It's been a very challenging time for me.

One emotion I have been feeling strongly lately is anger.  I don't like it.  I am not typically an angry person.  I'm usually very controlled, and it really takes a lot to get me upset.  And I don't enjoy feeling angry.  It's a very negative feeling, and I don't find much use for it.  But I am angry.

I'm not angry at anyone so much, which almost makes it more frustrating; I'm just angry at the situation. 

Yesterday, my younger sister and her husband took my mom out while my brother, sister-in-law, and their kids came in and rearranged the whole basement.  They also moved mine and mom's elliptical machine from the basement to the upstairs office, where they cleared out a bunch of old computer equipment and a bookshelf.  I watched helplessly as they threw stuff out and moved stuff around.  And it made me angry; not because it wasn't necessary or needful, but simply because it's reminding me that things have to change, and I don't want them to.  It's reminding me that I'm relinquishing control of my mom's situation, and it's hard for me to do that.  It's reminding me that my mom has lost the ability to defend her own property, and that upsets me.  It reminds me that Mom's independence is slowly eroding away, and that breaks my heart.  It reminds me that there may come a time in the not-too-distant future when Mom can't even live in her own home anymore, and that makes me mad on her behalf.

Even though Mom's basement looks chaotic and disorganized, I knew where most everything was.  Now that it's all been moved and some stuff thrown away, I have no idea where things are, and the anal-retentive part of me finds that very frustrating.  Even though I know much of Mom's "junk" probably needed to be thrown away, I was very agitated as my family was rearranging and throwing stuff away.  At one point my sister-in-law asked me if it was okay to throw a certain item away.  I said, "I guess," and then I muttered to myself, "Looks like you guys are going to do what you're going to do anyway, so why should my opinion matter?"

I'm really not mad at my niece or nephew or my brother and his family.  I'm not.  My niece and nephew deserve their own space, especially if they're willing to take on the challenges of caring for my mom for another eight months.  And there is a practical side to throwing stuff out and organizing things better.  And truthfully, things look better.  I should be happy.

But I'm not.

I'm feeling such anger over the whole issue, and I can't seem to let it go.  It also makes me all that more anxious and eager to get back home to Jonah.  This home is starting to feel less like my home and more like my niece and nephew's.  Maybe that's how it should be.  But it leaves me feeling empty inside, and I don't like that.

There's also a part of me that's, like, "If they're only going to be here for eight more months anyway, what's the big deal?  Why does all this have to happen?"  And then that just reminds me that perhaps it's just my unwillingness to deal with the inevitable: that Mom has reached a point in her life where she can't fully care for herself and will reach a point where she can't live here by herself, whether that means bringing in someone else or moving her elsewhere, and both of those options make me angry.

I'm burned out.  I don't want to admit it, but I am.  Being Mom's primary caretaker and being away from Jonah for so long has really taken a toll on me.  I am ready to go home.  I need to go home.  And I am so excited to spend some time with my husband.

Mom is already getting blue that I am leaving.  It breaks my heart.  But I have to leave.  It's time.  I hope she will be well taken care of, and I hope that I can still continue to help her as much as I possibly can from where I am.

I'm glad my niece and nephew have their own space.  I really am.  They seem happier, and if they are going to be here another eight months, this should feel more like a home to them.  I guess I'm just mourning what has been lost and what will continue to be lost.  The basement has pretty much much looked the same way for 15 years now, and now it doesn't.  And it doesn't matter.  But what it symbolizes does: the loss of who my mother was and who she is becoming.

I spent last week looking at some assisted-living facilities for the future should we need them.  Not the most fun project I've ever had.  There are some nice places and some not-so-nice.  We need to find one that's financially feasible and one that will meet Mom's needs, but also be nice.  I dread the day when she actually has to move into one.  I think she'll actually grow to like it eventually, but I think initially she will hate it and will resent us.  I'm not looking forward to that.

I went through some of the "junk" downstairs and found a box of old school stuff my mom had saved.  Actually, I think she had one for each one of us kids, although I think my brother took his or threw it away because I didn't see his down there.  Going through mine, I actually found that most of my schoolwork wasn't worth saving.  I threw most of it away.  There were a few drawings and report cards I hung onto, although I may throw them away eventually as well.

One thing I did recognize: I was a weird kid.  I look at some of my art and think, "How is it they didn't have the sense to bring a child psychologist in?"  I would have.  lol

I also found an old army canister that had my dad's Navy papers, my parents' wedding certificate, Mom and Dad's patriarchal blessings, report cards, a letter Dad wrote his family while on his honeymoon with Mom, Dad's high school diploma, Mom's baptismal certificate, a letter to Mom from her grandpa, a card I gave her one Christmas when I was in Vegas going to school, a letter my sister wrote to Mom, a silly letter I wrote Dad, and a whole bunch more. It was fun to go through.

I know there is a box downstairs that has some of Mom's mementos from her youth.  I know there is a photo of her at some conference with President David O. McKay in attendance, and there are also some old pictures of movie stars she collected.  I hope to find that.  I hope my siblings will let me keep the movie star photos after Mom goes.  I've always wanted them.  Although the point is moot if I can't find the box.

It's hard saying goodbye to the home I was raised in.  I imagine one day, perhaps sooner than later, I will have to say it more permanently.  That will be hard.

Anyway, writing this all out has made me feel better.  I think I just need to learn to let go.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Letting Go Of Mom

This one's long, folks.  My apologies.

So many emotions are going through my soul lately.  In many ways, it's a very stressful time.  In other ways, I've discovered a new emotion regarding my mom cropping up, and it is one I did not expect: relief.

I've mentioned that I feel guilty about leaving my mom, especially when her condition seems to be deteriorating, and especially when she has grown so dependent on me.  I feel guilty that I am abandoning her when perhaps she might need me the most.  I feel guilty for leaving my siblings to carry much of the load I've helped carry at a time when Mom's care is proving to be more challenging.  I feel guilty that my leaving might make things harder on everyone (well, except for Jonah and me, of course).  And I feel guilty that I feel relieved that my role in my mom's care will not be as great as it has been in the past.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel relief that I won't be bearing the brunt of Mom's care for a while.  It is stressful at times, and I am, admittedly, burned out, which I understand is a common experience among primary caregivers.  Truth be told, these past seven months have been tough on me, although they've probably been tough on everyone involved in Mom's care as well as my dear husband.

My older sister wrote me a really nice email after we had our family meeting a week ago (referred to here).  One of the things she said was, "[Cody], you are allowing too much weight upon yourself," and she's right.

And the truth is, I have sacrificed a lot to care for my mom.  Jonah has sacrificed a lot for me to care for my mom.  Nobody can ever say I didn't give my all during the time I've been here helping my mom, and I have tried my best to be the best son I can be to my mom.  It, unfortunately, is someone else's turn to take charge of the situation, and I must let go.

I have a hard time letting go...of stuff, of people, of relationships, of responsibility (or perceived responsibility), of control.  I am a person who very much likes to be in control, and unfortunately, I live in a world where that is not always possible.  In this case, I am learning that I need to let go of the control over this situation I've carried for the past four years or so and let somebody else hold the reins for a change.  That's really hard for me to do, but I think it is necessary...for both Jonah and me.

I've always been terrible at delegating or letting others take responsibility in group projects.  I've always had this mentality (mistaken or not) that if I don't do it, it either won't get done correctly or at all.  That's neither fair to me nor those I work with on specific projects.  In the case of my mom, I need to trust that things will be done in Mom's best interest, and that those involved will do just fine without my constant presence.  And it's not like I can't still do things to help Mom from where I am.

I do feel ready to talk about some of the things that happened at this meeting on Sunday that I just couldn't write about the night they happened.  The bottom line is we have some tough decisions to make regarding Mom, and things will occur that will be less-than-ideal, and we will have to roll with that.

My neighbor, who lives across the street, has been a caregiver three times, and so she knows very much how this goes.  She attended the meeting and gave us some suggestions based on her own experiences.  Her advice was valuable and relevant, but sometimes very hard to hear.  The emotional part of me is having a very hard time with the practicalities that are in store for us.

One thing brought up at the meeting was deep cleaning Mom's house and getting rid of some of the junk she's accumulated over the years.  From a practical standpoint, I get it.  There are things in Mom's house she hasn't used in years and which she probably won't even realize are missing if they are thrown or given away: tons of mason jars from her days of canning fruit; camping gear from when we went camping when I was a child; Styrofoam cups she acquired from an ice cream parlor she worked at years ago; an old typewriter; old power tools that belonged to my dad; magazines and books she hasn't looked at in years; clothes she no longer wears; old knick knacks that have been packed in boxes untouched for years; old decorations; old computer parts; etc.  I get it.  Much of it is unused and forgotten, and Mom will leave this house eventually, either because she's died or because she has to move somewhere where she can be better taken care of.  We may eventually have to sell the house to pay for Mom's care in the future, so isn't it a good idea to start cleaning now; to get it out of the way sooner rather than later?

I get all that intellectually.  I do.  But emotionally, it's really hard for me.  Mom has always been kind of a pack rat, and I suppose I have inherited some of that from her (although, as I've written in the past, I am trying to eliminate that habit).  I have lived in her house more of my life than I have lived out of it, and of my Mom's four children, I have been the last to leave.  Even having my own home with Jonah, I always thought that if I had the money, I would buy my siblings out of their shares of Mom's house when she passes away just so I could hang onto it and all the memories it contains.  I've said in the past that I am very nostalgic, and no matter where I live, Mom's house will always feel like home to me.

But the reality is I don't have the money to buy Mom's house, and the reality is that we likely will have to sell it: either when she dies or when she moves into an assisted-living facility, so my dream of hanging onto it is most likely a pipe dream.

My niece and nephew, who have agreed to stay in the house and care for Mom until June, are admitted "clean freaks," which my mom and I, admittedly, are not.  I think the clutter and perceived disorganization get on their nerves as does the fact that they live in a cramped area in the basement, and so they have really pushed the idea of getting rid of some of the clutter.  Again, I get it.  Intellectually.  Emotionally, it annoys me.  I wish it didn't, but it does.

I certainly can understand their wanting their own space and for things to be more tidy, and I get their practical suggestions of getting rid of stuff that is, admittedly, just sitting there as it has for years.  But I guess the part of me who doesn't just see that stuff as "junk," but as my mom's possessions and part of our home's history, is disturbed by how easily disposable it seems to those who have little attachment to it.

The other day my mom had a really good day.  My younger sister and her two young kids took Mom on a picnic in the park, and Mom had a great time.  Mom received a really nice letter from my older sister.  And Mom went to see my play and just had a lovely time.  When I came home, she and I sat on her bed talking about what a great day she had had, and it was so nice to see her so happy.

Once she decided she was ready to go to bed, I left her and went into the kitchen to make a late dinner for myself.  I noticed the kitchen had been cleaned, but something seemed odd to me.  As I explored further, I looked in each cupboard and discovered that while Mom had been away to see the play, my niece and nephew had cleaned and organized each cupboard.  Much had been thrown out and completely rearranged.  This was something that had been discussed at the meeting.  Their philosophy is that Mom doesn't even know what's in her cupboards anymore and, therefore, she won't miss anything.

I suppose I should have been happy.  After all, they got rid of a lot of unused and untouched items and some garbage as well.  The kitchen is very well organized and clean.  I'm sure in their minds they're doing everyone a favor.

But I was annoyed.  I am annoyed that things must change.  I am annoyed that someone else is determining without her consent which of my mom's possessions is disposable.  I am annoyed that throwing away each piece of Mom's stuff makes me feel like a little piece of her is being thrown away.  I am annoyed that she isn't in a position to defend herself.

We have a cupboard in the kitchen that has had a vase in it for probably the last twenty years.  When you open the cupboard door, the vase rocks a little.  It's a terrible place for a vase, but that's where it's been for quite some time.  No more.  I don't even know where my niece and nephew put that vase.  Maybe they threw it away.

We have a drawer in the kitchen that held a bunch of tools.  The thing was crammed with them, and sometimes it was hard to open and close because the hammer on the top would get stuck.  Now it's much better organized and easy to open and close.  But I found myself missing the way it was because that's the way it's been for so long.

Another cupboard contained food items and miscellaneous crap.  Now there's a bunch of dishware in there.  It just feels wrong to me.

I noticed all of her old National Geographic magazines as well as some copies of The New Era from downstairs were in the garbage can with all the things they threw away from the kitchen.  It just made me sad.  I know in the long run, it's probably better to get rid of some of the stuff and, after all, it's just stuff.  But it's stuff that represents the memories my mom and dad started building together when they bought this house in 1961.  It represents the memories created by them and their children.  It represents all the things my mom has hung onto since her husband died and her children moved out to start families of their own.  I know it may be an irrational feeling, but it really feels like my niece and nephew are gutting the soul of my mom's house, and it makes me so very sad and a bit angry.  And I think to myself, "What right do these two kids, who have barely started creating their memories with each other, have to dispose of all my mom's stuff in preparation for when she is no longer here?"  Sometimes I wonder how they would feel if I went down into the basement and started rearranging their stuff without permission and throwing anything away that I felt was junk.  I'm sure they wouldn't like it.

I know that there is no ill-will and that they are well-intentioned, but it just feels cold and callous to my heart even if my brain "gets it."  Equally upsetting is that no one else seems as bothered by it as I am.

Well, Jonah is.  Perhaps even more than I am, if that's possible.  Culturally, he just doesn't understand it at all.  Something like this would never happen in his family.  He has felt very confused by it and defensive on behalf of my mom.

For the first time since I've lived in my Mom's house, I just want to leave.  I don't want to be witness to all of this.  I don't want to know what they're getting rid of.  It will be too painful.  Before I go back home to Jonah in two weeks, I will track down some of the stuff I absolutely want saved (I don't want them accidentally throwing away Mom's personal mementos from her school years, for example, or some antique hats my grandmother owned), but maybe it's better I not be here for the majority of the cleaning and desolation.  It's too hard.  I don't want to be here if they give all of my dad's old country albums away or throw out some of the old, outdated clothes my Mom doesn't wear anymore.

For a long time, I have been self-appointed "protector of the house," and now I feel I've lost that, and it's incredibly difficult for me, and while my Mom might not even notice (thus far, she hasn't noticed the changes in the kitchen), I feel defensive on her behalf.

And how do we know my niece and nephew won't accidentally get rid of something that has more value, either sentimentally or materially, than they realize?  And if they're moving out in eight months anyway (as is their plan), what difference does it make if they have to stay downstairs with all of Mom's junk for a little while more?  They've already done it for a year.  I did it for several.  I guess having lived out of a suitcase for many of the past few years, I just don't see what the big deal is.  But then again, I'm not a "neatnik" like they are.  In any case, it's so frustrating, and I feel helpless and devastated by it.

At the aforementioned meeting, my brother-in-law (also well-intentioned) said some things that really upset me as well.  He seemed much more gung-ho to sell my mom's house and car and get her moved out than he seemed concerned about my mom or us, and I found that very upsetting.  As I've talked with my sister, it seems she felt similar feelings as me.  I told her that sometimes it's good to have someone as detached and practical as my brother-in-law in situations like this, but Sunday night I was in no mood to hear it.

My brother-in-law seemed almost more interested in self-gain, or at least. that's how it felt.  Maybe he isn't, but as a realtor, he seemed to want us to put the house in either his or my sister's name, buy us out of our portion, and resell the house himself.  This might not be so bad under other conditions, but the house is already in a trust, which is the safest place it can be; and my brother-in-law is not known for smart financial decisions, so handing the house over to him seems foolhardy to me...and my brother. Even my sister agrees with that assessment.  My siblings are all united that the house will remain in the trust as it currently stands.

Ideally, we would would like to keep Mom in her house as long as we can, but as I stated before, we do not live in an ideal world.  Having an outside caregiver come in is expensive as is moving her into an assisted-living facility, but at least if she moved out of her home, we could feasibly sell her house and use that money to pay for her care.  This thought devastates me as well, but it may be the reality we face.

At this point, I don't know that my Mom needs a full-time caregiver, but I think if she had a live-in companion that would be ideal, and who knows, a year or two down the road she may require full-time care.  But we'd have to find a live-in companion that is trustworthy, patient, and kind (and inexpensive) because it would be so easy to take advantage of Mom in her current condition.

This morning my older sister and I visited an assisted-living facility.  Not a most exciting venture, but to its credit, this particular facility was excellent.  It certainly felt more like a home than a sterile prison, as some of these places appear.  The staff was terrific, and I really liked the philosophy of the facility, which focuses on keeping its residents active, validated, and independent.  They encourage you to furnish the residents' living quarters with the resident's furniture from home and encourage you to decorate it with photos and family mementos.  There was a courtyard where Mom could take a walk if she felt like wandering (although it wasn't as big as I would have liked).  Balanced meals with a focus on free choice.  Medication stations disguised as furniture so that it seems more like a home than a hospital.  A resident dog and cat for pet therapy and companionship.  She could even bring in her own pet if she wanted.  Activities.  Focus on residents' families taking an active role in their care.  A free support group for families of dementia-sufferers. The ability for residents' family members to visit or even stay with them 24 hours a day and take them out whenever they want.  If I were to put a parent in an assisted-living facility, this place is a nice one.

Unfortunately, it's also out of our budget.  $4,000-$5,030 a month.  Even if we sold Mom's house, she couldn't stay there more than three or four years before we ran out of money.  I don't want to put her anywhere, but if we have to, I wish we could put her there.

Money has never been all that important to me.  It's certainly never been my first priority in life.  But I wish I had money now, if only to give my mom the kind of dignified life and care she deserves.  Jonah and I both agree that if we had the money, we would get a place where Mom could live with us that could accommodate her needs.  And when that didn't work out, we would get her the best care she could have.  Sadly, no one in the family is currently in a financial position to do so.

I don't know how people pay for assisted-living care at all.  It is so expensive.  Even the cheapest places run $1200 a month or so, and those places are often holes with poor care.  I don't want Mom to live her last days somewhere like that.

I think it's such a sad commentary in this country that our senior citizens can't even afford to live the ends of their lives with the dignity and healthcare they deserve.  A person can work hard their whole life and accumulate enough wealth to live comfortably, but heaven forbid they get sick because this country will bleed them and their families dry.

We also realize in order to pay for Mom's future care, we need to curtail her spending and take over her fiances: yet another piece of my mom's independence going by the wayside.  It's so upsetting.  My brother and I are going to have a serious, bare-bones talk with her about her future and the realities we all face, and I do not relish that in the slightest.

There's still a part of me that's in denial about how bad-off Mom is and will continue to become.  Even when we were looking at the secure part of the facility where the people with dementia and Alzheimer's stay, I thought to myself, "Mom still has so many of her faculties left.  Does she really belong somewhere like this?"  I certainly don't want her to feel like a prisoner, no matter how lovely the "prison" is.

I'm sure people are tired of hearing me talk about Mom.  I'm not even talking about you who read my blog, but anybody who I talk with on a daily basis.  It seems Mom is often at the forefront of the conversation.  People are sympathetic and kind, but I'm sure it must get old and boring for me to bring up all the time.  The thing is, I need to talk about it.  I've even considered maybe seeing a therapist just to talk some of my feelings out.  I just feel bad that I bring up Mom all the time, but it's good for me to talk it out.

The one good thing I've realized is that the amount of pain we feel is equal to the amount of love we feel for someone.  I'm sure that's why this is so devastatingly painful to me: because I love my mom so very much.  She has always been one of my best friends.  It makes me sad to gradually lose who she once was and have to make hard choices regarding her care and future.

At last Sunday's meeting, after my two sisters and their spouses left and I was still trying to recover from the events of the night, I just started weeping and sobbing.  I felt such a well of sadness.  My sister-in-law, who's very sensitive, could see how hard much of the conversation was for me even before I starting bawling.  She tried to help me as best she could.

I won't lie: this whole stage of life kind of sucks.  When I came home from the meeting, already feeling drained and confused and still feeling somewhat guilty that I would be leaving my mother soon, Mom came out of her room looking so sad and forlorn.  I asked her what was wrong.  She started crying and said, "I'm all alone." 

I said, "Mom, you're not alone.  I'm here, and you have so many family members that love you." 

She looked at me sadly and said, "I thought you went back [home to Jonah] without saying goodbye." 

I said, "I would never do that, Mom."  Then I just held her in my arms in the hallway for about two minutes.

This is hard.  And I know it will only get harder.  I'm looking forward to going home and being with Jonah for a while.  It is needed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Deciding Difficult Things

Somehow my blog went from being about a struggling gay Mormon to a gay excommunicated Mormon to a gay ex-Mormon whose Mom has dementia.  But that's where my thoughts seem to be lately.

This evening my family had the big meeting about Mom's future.  All my siblings and their spouses were there as well as my niece and nephew.  Jonah would have come if he could have.  We also had a couple of family friends who have gone through care-giving for elderly parents three times.  They had some helpful advice that was, admittedly, hard to hear at times even though I knew it was good advice.

The meeting, needless to say, was not fun in the slightest.  Needful?  Yes.  Enjoyable?  Not at all.

I am drained.  We have some very difficult decisions to make in the coming months, none of which I relish, but which, unfortunately, are necessary.

I had planned on writing about the meeting, but I realize I just can't do it right now.  It's still too raw.  I need time to process and recover a bit.

My main thoughts are that my heart and my mind are waging some intense battles.  My mind knows certain things need to be done and should be done, but my heart is having a very hard time with it all.

Rationally, I know that going back home to Jonah is the right and needful thing for me to do.  But my heart makes me feel like I am abandoning my mom and my family in what is sure to be a very difficult time.  It didn't help that when I came home to Mom's house, she came out of her room in tears because she was all alone and thought I had already left to go back home to Jonah.  I just held her in my arms for about two or three minutes while she cried.

And rationally, I know that we need to take over a lot of my mom's day-to-day affairs and make some hard choices that will cause her to lose much of her independence, but my heart is aching because that's the last thing I want to do.

And rationally, I know that getting rid of some of my mom's junk in her house is probably best in the long run for her, us, and my niece and nephew; but my heart feels with every item we get rid of, we're throwing another piece of my mom away, and that breaks my heart.  And I feel I have to defend her because after all, it's her stuff, her memories, and she should have a say in the matter.

This sucks.  I wouldn't wish the choices a family has to make regarding their ailing parent on my worst enemy.

There's a line from Steel Magnolias that makes so much sense to me right now:

"Shelby, as you know, wouldn't want us to get mired down and wallow in this. We should handle it the best way we know how and get on with it. That's what my mind says, I just wish somebody would explain it to my heart."


Monday, October 08, 2012

A Walk With My Mom

Yesterday at about 4:00 PM, Mom and I took a walk around the neighborhood.  The weather was perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  Not too hot.  Not to cold.  Clear skies.  And a light breeze.

Mom doesn't walk too fast anymore, so our pace was very leisurely.  I asked her which way she wanted to go, and she chose to go east on her east-west running street.  She commented about how it was getting chillier, but that the weather was nice today.  I agreed.

As Mom does every single time we take one of these walks, she commented that she can't remember who lives in these houses anymore.  Mind you, Mom has lived in this neighborhood for 50 years, and many of her neighbors have lived here for 30-50 years themselves.  Mom can always remember who lives immediately across from her, who lives to the left of her (coming out), and who lives kitty corner to her, but everyone else she seems to be fuzzy on, although sometimes she remembers when I remind her.

And as I always do, I commented on who lives in which house (the ones I still know).  Sometimes a flicker of recognition would register, and she would say, "Oh, yes, that's right," and other times it would be as if she had no clue who the individuals I was talking about even were.

As we walked, we saw Mom's partner that she works with in the church library on Sundays.  Her name is Lillian, and she has lived in Mom's neighborhood as long as Mom has.  She is a sweet, adorable lady who both Mom and I like very much.  Mom enjoys working with her in the library.

Lillian asked when I was going to sing in church again.  I replied that I sing when they ask me and that I have no control of that.  Lillian said, "Well, if I had any power, you would sing every week.  I'm going to talk to the bishop.  I know he has some power," she laughed.

We enjoyed talking to Lillian for a few minutes, and then Mom and I continued on our way.  Mom asked me who lived in this house.  I told her it was a couple who had lived there since I was a boy.  Mom didn't seem to recognize their names.

"Who lives here?"

"I don't know," I replied.  Like a child, Mom mischievously crossed the lawn to the owner's mailbox to see if their name was on it (it wasn't; not that it would have mattered).  As we turned the corner, Mom looked through their fence into their backyard.

I pointed to the next house.  "You know who lives here, don't you?"

She didn't.

I reminded her who lived there, and she remembered.  As we passed each house, she would ask who lived there, and I would say if I knew or not.

We ran into another neighbor, Luwana, who was walking her dog and chatted with her for a moment.  I don't think Mom recognized her at first, but it came back to her, and she was even able to tell me that she lived on our street.  I said, "That's right."

It was so quiet.  So peaceful.  So calm.  And I reveled in it.

I remember when I went on my mission and hugged my dad for what turned out to be the last time, I felt a prompting to make it count because it would be the last time for a while.  Dad ended up dying while I was away.

I felt that same feeling today as I walked with my dear, sweet mother.  "Make this count," I felt.  "It won't always be like this."

That isn't to say that Mom will pass away soon or that we won't take other walks, but something told me to recognize what I was feeling with my mom in this moment and to hold on to it because it was precious and wouldn't always be like this.  It felt almost heavenly.

And I realized that I, who am always busy working or on line or watching TV or movies or doing my own thing, don't always appreciate these moments with my mom like I ought to.  Sometimes Mom's care and neediness is suffocating and I need to get away from it.  Today, however, I was so happy to be with her even though she is no longer the woman I grew up with.

Mom is very childlike these days.  It really is like taking care of a kid sometimes.  But she was enjoying the walk and I was enjoying the walk, and we were enjoying the walk with each other, and it felt nice.

We took another turn, and I mentioned another neighbor, and Mom told a story about how she had been walking home from church and that neighbor had picked her up and driven her home, and wasn't that nice?

"Yes, Mom, " I replied.  "That was very nice."  I'm glad my neighbors are watching out for my mom.  A couple of weeks ago, the bishop's wife noticed my mom out walking and asked if she could walk with her.  I'm sure it was because she wanted to keep an eye on Mom and make sure she didn't get lost, but Mom was grateful for the company, and it inspired me to ask the bishop to see if he might be able to find a walking companion (or companions) for Mom.

As we reached the end of a street, I suggested to Mom that we turn back because we needed to go to my brother's house for dinner soon.  Mom pointed down the cross street and asked, "What's down there?"  I told her it was just more houses, and she asked, "Does it go through?"  Again, this is neighborhood my mom used to know so well.

"Yes, Mom, it goes through, but it will take us longer to get back home if we go that way, and we have to get home in fifteen minutes so that we can leave to have dinner.

The more I commented about our various neighbors, Mom would say, "Wow, you really remember a lot.  But you have a much better memory than I have."

I said, "You used to know who lived in these houses.  What happened?"

"I guess I got old," she replied.  I laughed.  "I guess you did."

We passed some dogs, who barked at us.  Mom wasn't scared of them and even talked to them like a kid would talk to dogs, but Mom also said she was very glad there was a chain link between us and them.  As Mom and I passed the dogs, she linked her arm into mine and it remained there the rest of our walk, and I felt the love I've always carried for my mom so strongly.

Mom asked, "Don't Olschewskis live in that house?"

"No, Mom.  I don't know who lives there.  Olschewskis live in that house."

"Oh, yes, that's right.  Who lives here?"  It's the neighbors to the right of her.  She never remembers their names.

"Lingwalls," I answered.

"Oh.  I don't think I've ever met them."  She has.

We turned the corner and headed towards her house.  We saw another neighbor, who's wife also has dementia.  I waved to him.  He waved back.

We headed down Mom's driveway.  I said, "It's time to go.  Should we just go now?"

"Do I need my purse?"  Mom asked.  She's rarely without it.

"Not unless you're planning on buying something at Patrick and Sunny's," I sarcastically replied.  She gave me a light jab because she knew I was giving her a hard time.  "You're a smart aleck!"

"Yes, I am."  We've always had that kind of relationship where we tease one another.

It was a simple walk, but a very lovely walk.  And now that I'll I'll be going away soon, who knows how many more like it we will have?  Reminds me why the hard days are worth it.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Movies Of My Life

There is a segment in Entertainment Weekly occasionally where they ask a famous actor about different movies that have influenced them in their lives. After my last few posts, I decided to do something lighter today and answer those same questions about my own history with movies. 

The First Movie I Remember WatchingStar Wars.  

I had to have been 6 years old, and the film left an incredible impression on me.  Anyone who has seen my immense Star Wars collection would attest to that.  I remember we went to see it as a family in downtown Salt Lake City, I believe.  It was such a magical movie for me.  I was enthralled from beginning to end.  I remember the spaceship battle at the beginning and Darth Vader’s first, mysterious entrance and what a cool villain I thought he was.  I remember thinking C-3PO and R2-D2 were funny, and I wanted to be Han Solo.  I remember him shooting Greedo in the cantina (yes, Han shot first) and how incredible I thought the cantina scene was.  I remember fearing for Obi-Wan Kenobi as he deactivated the tractor beam and being very surprised when he “died.”  I remember when Darth Vader choked Admiral Motti and mistakenly thinking that Vader made him cough up an egg yolk (it was actually a button on the Admiral’s console that I mistook for an egg yolk).  I remember liking Chewbacca.  The movie was just so exciting and it still remains one of my favorite (although The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite in the series).  It was the perfect movie for a six year-old boy to see.

The Movie That Inspired My Fashion Sense When I Was A Kid I can’t think of one off-hand, but then my fashion-sense has never been that great.

The Movie Character I Wanted To Be – Bond.  James Bond.  

My dad introduced me to the James Bond franchise, and James Bond was everything I felt was not: suave, debonair, fearless, handsome, cool, British, dapper.  He was everything I wished I was, and all I could do is pretend I was.

The First R-Rated Drama I Ever SawAn American Werewolf in London. 

I remember this distinctly.  Mom said I could only watch if my older brother covered my eyes during the scary parts and parts where nudity was present.  But I felt thrilled and grown-up that I was allowed to watch at all.  I remember finding the movie both scary and funny, and I remember peeking through the cracks in my brother’s fingers to see the things I wasn’t supposed to see.  And I remember feeling a bit titillated by the naked body of David Naughton, who played the title character.

My First Movie-Star Crush – There may have been others, but River Phoenix comes to mind. 

I just thought it was dreamy and so good-looking, but also so talented.  I first saw him in Stand By Me and just adored him.  No matter if a movie was good or bad, if he was in it, I would try to see it because I was so mesmerized and infatuated with him.  I was on my mission when he died of a drug overdose, and I actually cried.  Even though I didn’t know him at all, I felt like I had lost a brother.

The Scariest Movie I’ve Ever Seen Hard to say.  I’ve seen quite a few scary movies.  When you’re a kid, however, I think scary movies are scarier, so Alien and Poltergeist remain as movies that scared me a lot.  Alien was especially scary because you rarely saw the alien at all, and it was the fear of what wasn’t seen that was even greater.  I think that’s why Jaws was also scary for me.  I do remember distinctly the alien popping out of John Hurt’s stomach.  FREAKED.  ME.  OUT.  I also remember being very concerned for the welfare of the ship’s cat, Jonesy, and hoping the alien wouldn’t get him (and was relieved that he survived (never mind the rest of the crew.  lol)

Poltergeist moments that scared me were the clown doll, the scary tree, and little Carol Anne getting trapped in the other world.  Gave me the creeps.

The Movie That Made Me Want To Be An Actor – Subconsciously, probably Star Wars.  It stimulated my imagination and eventually made me realize that all the play-acting I was doing could actually be a career.  Tootsie also made an impression on me because of Dustin Hoffman’s terrific performance.

The Movie Scene That Always Makes Me Laugh – Even though it was cut from Waiting for Guffman, I think the very last moment of “This Bulging River” on the DVD extras is one of the funniest movie moments.  I never stop laughing at Christopher Guest’s last note.

The Movie Costume I’d Love To Wear – Oh, I’d love to get into Boba Fett’s costume just once.  It’s probably heavy and uncomfortable, but it’s oh, so cool-looking.

The Last Movie I BoughtAirplane!  I don’t re-watch a lot of movies anymore, but there are ones that I am continually entertained by, and Airplane! is one of them.  It was only $5.00, so I thought, “What the heck?”

The Remake I’d Love To Star InCapricorn One.  It’s a great, but underappreciated movie, and it is a little dated.  It could use a remake.  I’d love to play Hal Holbrook’s role.  He was the bad guy, but played him so pragmatically and so convinced that he was in the right.  Nobody could top him, but I wouldn’t mind trying.

The Movie I Can’t Turn Off When It’s On TV – If Titanic is on, I usually get hooked no matter where it is in the story.  I liked the movie a lot (still do).

The Movie I’ve Seen More Times Than I Can CountScavenger Hunt.  I’ve written about it here.  One of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I’m sure I’ve seen it 300 times.

The Movie Musical I Know Every Word To – Probably Little Shop of Horrors.  I don’t know it by heart like I once did, but I did at one time.

The Movie I Quote All The Time  I always misquote everything, so I don’t usually quote any movies.  It’s a cliché now, but Monty Python and the Holy Grail is pretty quotable.  I also find myself quoting Waiting for Guffman at times.

The Scene That Reminds Me What Great Acting Is – Viggo Mortensen’s transformation
in A History of Violence is amazing.  There is a specific scene where he goes from who we presume he is to who he actually is.  There is a change in his eyes that is incredible.  Absolutely terrific performance.

The Last Movie That Made Me Cry – Probably A Better Life

Such a sad story, but one that is a reality for many illegal immigrants.

The Movie I Can’t Wait For – There’s nothing I’m necessarily dying to see right now, but Lincoln looks very interesting to me.  

I don’t much like going to the movie theater anymore (mostly because it’s gotten too expensive and audiences are rude and inconsiderate.  So I can’t really think of much I can’t wait to see.  

The Movie I’m Always Telling People To SeeCapricorn One.  Like I said, it’s dated, but it’s a fun movie and well-written overall.  One of my favorites.