Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Commentary ala Dad

My dad's "Dancing with the Stars" commentary is priceless. He does not watch the show. In fact, I'm pretty sure he finds it to be an immoral abomination. He does, however, from time to time, encounter the unfortunate happenstance of getting home from work whilst the show is airing. And certain family members happen to be watching it. In the kitchen. While he's eating his dinner. If he's going to be forced to watch it, he'll be darned if he doesn't put in his two cents. Every five minutes. The result should be sold in DVD form.

Example: Chris Brown is performing a flashy musical number on the show (this is the results show, mind you, where pretty darn near an hour and 45 minutes of the two hour show is taken up with useless filler). Mom mentions that she thinks Tabby (9) likes the said song. Dad has a moment of perplexed and dumbfounded silence. He then responds, somewhat disgustedly, by saying, "You mean Tabby would prefer something like this to "Amazing Grace"? Or "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel?"

I believe the word "salacious" was also used at least once to describe the costumes. I can't wait for next week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pointless Pleasures

As I sit watching the gaudy glitz known as "Dancing with the Stars" with my nine year old sister, Tabby, I can't help but be a little embarrassed to admit it. But only a little. Everyone needs a guilty pleasure, right? It could be anything from video games to cheesy movies to horrible television. Something that, while maybe hitting a solid 10 on the pointless scale, gets you out of reality for at least an hour or so. That's not wrong, is it?

I was struck with a similar feeling of embarrassment as I was reading a magazine earlier today that placed an interview with the new reality TV "Bachelor" couple directly after an article on the aftermath in Japan. Hmmm. It was a little sobering. Who cares if Brad and Emily are going to stay together, or that he went broke buying her diamonds and shoes when you've just seen a picture of a Japanese woman checking a list of survivors posted on a public board to see if her family is alive?

But maybe that was the point. Maybe the article of pointless pleasure was placed right after the harsh reality of the world for a reason. Or maybe that's just where it fit best in the layout.

Either way, I think it's ok to have momentary distractions. But only for long enough to catch your breath, pick yourself back up, and get back in the game. A healthy balance of both seems to be a reasonable goal. No one can go 100% Superman (or Wonder Woman) all the time. So, for now, I'm going to enjoy watching Kirstie Alley attempt to jive.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Photographic Memory

Pictures freeze more than time.

They can instantly transport you not only to a physical place, but an emotional state. When you think about it, that's incredible. Preserving memories visually is a completely different dimension of remembering.

I remember my freshman year of college, meeting my family after my first pops concert dressed as Rafiki the baboon, face smeared in blue, black and red. I remember being certain Tarah, not even two at the time, would be terrified and not recognize me. I remember the elated feeling when she not only recognized me, but came running down the aisle of the auditorium, right into my arms. I'll remember that forever. My photo, her little arms wrapped around my neck, me in my Rafiki garb, is what triggers that story.

Christmas 2007: Tarah bravely embarks on a Christmas tree-finding expedition at a tree farm near our house. She sallies forth, in front of all of us, blazing the trail, all two feet of her. I have a photograph of her marching into a sea of evergreen trees, her little self right in the center, fearless. That photo, to me, embodies her unflinching bravery, through so much, for so long.

A photo standing on its own can be aesthetically pleasing, absolutely. But without a story it really doesn't mean much. I think every photo does have a story...somewhere.

Tarah's stories are endless, and so are the photos. I'm so glad I was so trigger happy (and still am), especially while she was with us. Those memories would've been in my head forever, but the photos preserve a unique dimension of the memories.

Yesterday I was paging through my profile photos and came across a photo of Tarah and me. We were sitting at our computer desk, playing with the newly-installed webcam. Adam, sitting on the other end in College Station, Texas, had installed it for us the last time he'd been home and we wanted to try it out.

Tarah wasn't allowed out of bed much because she needed to be hooked up to oxygen, but Mom decided that for the special occasion of talking to Adam, we could give her a little break. So, we sat at the computer and had the time of our lives. We marveled at being able to talk to Adam half way across the country. We relished the limited free time Tarah had from her tubes. And we made silly faces in the webcam because we thought it was so cool that we could see ourselves.

As I looked at this photo yesterday, I realized the date was 3/14/2008. Exactly three years ago to the day. Almost to the hour, too. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Just down the hall in Dad's office, from where I sat looking at the photo, was where we were sitting, three years ago, goofing off. Just three years ago. Three whole years ago. I can't even describe the feeling, but I can tell you it was overwhelming. I miss her so much, but I'm so thankful I have those photos, and more importantly, the memories.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Other Things

The time has come, the walrus said, to think of other things.

Thanks walrus, I will.

Mostly by messaging my dear friend Alyssa random facts (I literally googled "random facts") because she can't sleep. What she may not know (unless she reads this) is she's helping me as much as I'm (attempting) to help her.

I'm learning a lot. Did you know elephants are the only mammals that can't jump? Or that some lobsters are born bright blue? Or the best yet: the sound of E.T. walking was made by someone squishing jelly between their hands.

Fascinating stuff. Or at least, stuff. Stuff other than what I was thinking of before the walrus (heh, or maybe someone else) so handily reminded me I'd thought about that other stuff enough. Time for something else. For now, anyway.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No More Magic: The Harsh Reality of Gas Tanks

Everyone has their limit. Apparently so do gas tanks.

I suppose I must've always subconsciously operated under the assumption that gas tanks are bottomless pits. I mean, I know when they get near empty, you're supposed to fill them. I know that, in theory, they won't run without gas, but I've never actually seen it happen. Somehow, the car magically conjures enough gas to get me to a gas station. It always has. The tank *says* it's empty, but it never *really* is.

Today, the magic was shattered. The pit does have a bottom, people. Thankfully, it was discovered while sitting in a driveway as opposed to a busy highway, or even any middle of any street anywhere.

A logical question about now would be, why would anyone *let* their tank get below empty? The car even goes to the trouble of illuminating a little orange gas tank directly in your line of vision when the end is near. You don't even need to read!

Well, in this case, I was holding out for my paycheck. Yep. My tank just had to work it's magic for *one* more day until I got paid, and then it'd get a very expensive feast. I supposed I've never tested the magic for an entire day, seeing as how the little gas light started blinking at me yesterday.

All I can say is thank the Lord for brothers. Although I'm almost certain this will be added to the arsenal of their etched-in-stone accounts of stupid things Laura has done that they will carry to their graves.

The magic may be gone, but at least I have slightly more sound logic to replace it with. Does this logic apply to the check engine light?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In Good Company

A flimsy square card table sits just outside the perimeter of the Christian Life Center floor's black border, marking the outskirts of the gym floor. A hand-written sign, complete with green and yellow highlighter coloring, reads "PRESS," with the words "non-violent zone" in parentheses. A white lap top and camera case sit, very official-looking, on the table. I sit behind them.

I have exclusive coverage rights to the one and only annual Lutheran Loop Dodgeball Tournament. It's kind of a big deal, so I don't know where all the other sports media junkies were. I wasn't complaining, though. Exclusive coverage, people!

While I didn't take stats, or notes, or even many photos (and most of the ones I did get were either blurry or dark), I'd say the afternoon was a success. If for nothing else, the chuckles that my sign garnered made it more than worth it. I also got to chat with friends I hadn't seen in a while and met at least two new people. Honestly, I thought I'd sit off to the side the entire afternoon while everyone but me threw balls at each other and take photos for the first half hour and then not know what to do with myself. So yep, definitley a success.

Whether dodgeball's your thing or not (I do actually have a good time with it), my sentimental rainbow for the day is who cares what you're doing as long as you're in good company.

Next year, however, I'll try and remember my tennis shoes and actually get in on the action (still leaving some quality time on the sidelines, of course). A friend of mine told me he wants me back for the press next year, only this time with a fedora and small white card sticking out of the rim. I think I'll just remember the shoes.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some People Care Too Much

Arguably one of the most sickening feelings in the world is a fading friendship. Not the sucker-punch from behind, stab-you-in-the-back, or even moved-away friendships, but the ones that are right in front of you and more distant than your old pen pal from Ohio who you've never even met before.

Something changed. In-depth, soul-searching tirades and intent, genuine listening turned into polite conversation fillers and minimal eye contact. The unique and shared humor has almost been forgotten and the simple yet heart-felt desire to know how your day went is lost.

There's less contact in general. But the now-rare moments of contact may be worse than the absence, because that's where the distance is most noticeable. My best friend lives nearly half a country away from me, and that never made her any less the best friend I've ever had.

With this friendship, it's not crumbling, or coming to a screeching halt, but painfully and slowly slipping.

There could be a good reason for it. In fact, I have a few sound theories. But theories they shall remain unless something snaps back into place or I force it. And by force I mean ask. I guess that's really the question: is it important enough to me?

The little devil on my shoulder tells me it isn't important enough to the other party, so why should I lose sleep over it? Oh yeah, because it is important to me. My pride just wants to say I don't care. But I know I do.

In the words of Pooh Bear, "Some people care too much. I think it's called love."

I'll keep feeling this one as it slips farther and farther away. Eventually, I'll have to decide if I care enough to try and piece it back together by asking, or if I just let it fade away and hope I eventually stop caring.