Archive for December, 2010

Adult videos

December 20th, 2010

This December, we're doing a stay-cation with my cousin's family. For regular readers: yes, that cousin, the one we do most things with. Her children and my child are close in age and get along well.

We got a beach house for a weekend so that we could all hang out and have some relaxing fun under the same roof. We're giving each other the gift of time this season.

Val, Claus, and I were at the table making a check list of what to bring to the beach house. We had been talking about food portions, and then bedding configurations, and since age is important in both scenarios, I was in the mode of thinking about "adults" versus "children."

As in, an adult eats more than a child, so portion more food for the adults. Or, adults get the real beds and kids get the air mattresses, so how many adult versus kid bedding materials do we need?

After we conquered the food and sleeping arrangements, we moved on to entertainment. I said I have a Scrabble board and might have Trivial Pursuit that I could bring. Then the talk moved to movies. Claus and I are not big collectors, so we have about two movies for us, and about 20 movies for Olivia.

"We don't have that many adult videos," I told Val, "So if you have some good ones, bring them."  The table got awkwardly silent for a moment.

"No! No! No! Not like that! I mean grown up movies! Movies for big people! Not cartoons!" I stammered, while they just laughed at me.

I'll just shut my mouth now.


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Office wars

December 17th, 2010

There's something heating up at my office this holiday season, and it isn't the yuletide fire. It's the annual Christmas competition to see whose office can be the most jolly.

I was warned about this when I first arrived three months ago. "Christmas is a big deal here," they said. "You watch. We put up lights, trees, ornaments, it's crazy."

Right after Thanksgiving, I happened to have a spot of time to decorate at home. Since I had my ornaments out of storage, I decided to bring in the surplus to work. I erected a small desktop tree. I was the first.

My coworker DF walked by and saw the tree. "Oh? Oh, you want to get like that?" he said playfully. "You started it." He responded by hanging up a tree-shaped wreath on his door with ornaments.

I passed his office as he was proudly touching up the last ornament. My eyebrows raised and I made a note to stop procrastinating and hang up the lights. I had a huge pack of lights my cousin was getting rid of so I brought that in. I had so many I gave most of them away at work.

I spent part of one lunch hour untangling and putting up lights around my filing cabinet. (Which I make sure to unplug whenever I plan to leave the room for more than half an hour! I'm paranoid!)

DF passed my office and saw the lights, which are very visible from the door. "Mmm hmm," he nodded, and walked off. I interpreted that as "Challenge accepted."

He hung up lights on the ceiling, and one-upped me with snowflake ornaments also dangling from the ceiling. Very nice. I then spent part of the next day's lunch hanging more lights, this time around the four foot tall plant in my office. "How you like me now?" I teased.

"You win," he said, as I gloated. But it was just part of his strategy.

A few days later I had to talk to him about something. I went to his office down the hall. "Can I come in?" I asked.

With a grand gesture of the hand, he said, "Sure! Come in! Have a seat by my fireplace!" My eyes followed the motion of his hand. On his wall, near the chair, he plastered a fake fireplace picture.

Then he delivered the coup de grace: "This comes with a little electronic component that makes crackling noises, like you're really sitting by a fire. I just have to get new batteries and I can turn it on."

You win, DF, you win... until next year when I bring in the blow up, life-sized Santa with the snow globe that blows around fake snow.


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Preschool performance

December 15th, 2010

Olivia's preschool performance was last week. It was our first experience as parents, and we were excited. She had been coming home with Christmas carol lyrics for a month, singing and practicing little motions to accompany the song. It was really cute.

The day of the performance, we expected a crowd, so we carpooled with my parents. We were not super early so all the front row seats were taken, but we found some good aisle seats. Then we waited for the show to begin.

Each class paraded through the middle aisle, took their place at the front of the stage, and sang two songs. There were five classes. After the first class went through, there was an expected flurry of camera flashes, and one or two parents crawled to the front to snap photos. After the second class, there were a half dozen parents.

With each class, the parents got more familiar and comfortable with the idea of staking an aisle position to take pictures. By the time the fourth class marched through, which was Olivia's class, no sooner did the kids get on stage then the parents swoop in to take a position. I could not see my own child over the many heads. I was kind of put off.

We were given programs, so we knew that the last class would sing a group song with the whole school. Therefore, when the fifth class went in, it sort of turned into this free-for-all in which a mad rush of parents crammed to fill every available space near the front.

The adults nearest the front were kneeling, but towards the back, people had to stand because they couldn't see over all the heads, which were probably four-deep. Some people were standing and holding their cameras high in the air to take photos. There were probably more cameras than when Lindsay Lohan checked into rehab.

Certainly, I'm familiar with the crazed-paparazzi vibe from my many years in news. I know how to rush to the front. I just didn't want to. The school had a videographer who was offering up free videos to parents; I am OK to have that. I get a front row seat to Olivia's performances every day at home.

Yes, I knew that a lot of parents would be this way, and yes, I totally understand the desire to see one's own child up clearly, both in person and in the viewfinder. I can see why it would be hard for people to strike the balance between civility and selfishness. This was my first time experiencing it in person and it was... interesting. I don't fault people for wanting to capture the best viewing position, and yet I've learned about myself that I am not one of those people. At least, I wasn't on this occassion.

It would have been nice to see her on stage. I'm sure, however, there will be more chances. I'll just have to make sure I line up at 3 a.m. to stake out my front row seat.


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Red Eye

December 13th, 2010

If it isn't one thing, it's another. I often get woken up in the middle of the night by a small child who wants to get into bed with us. We've tried all sorts of different reactions and rules, and the one that seems to work for our family is this: if it is 3 a.m. or later, she can come in bed with me.

I can handle sleeping with her for three hours. If it's before 3 a.m., she has to go back to her bed. She kicks and tosses and turns and generally makes it hard to sleep. At first when I set this rule she cried and cried, but now she reluctantly acquiesces. Of course, she can't read a clock, even a digital one, so I am woken up no matter what.

She wakes up about four or five nights a week and shuffles over to my side, waiting to be let under the covers. Naturally, the night she did not wake up, was the night Claus was responsible for waking me up.

He was on-call for the mortuary that night. It's funny that his business and my old industry were alike in that way; the world doesn't stop at 5 p.m., so your job has to work around it. People die at all hours. Someone has to take care of it.

He got not one, but two calls that night, and conveniently spaced about 90 minutes apart, so that juuuust as we were falling asleep, the phone rings. After the second call, we both couldn't go back to sleep, so we were watching Entertainment Tonight for an hour and learning about important events like why Ashlee Simpson's latest look was a fashion flop.

We got about four hours sleep that night, and in the morning, my eyes were freakishly bloodshot. As I was getting Olivia ready for school, brushing her hair, she was saying, "My eyeballs are green inside!" After a little while, she said, "Are your eyeballs green inside too?"

I was trying to be silly with her so I bent over to open my eyes wide so she could look at me. Her face got serious as she stared into my eyes and pronounced, "No. Your eyes are red. Are you OK?"


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Flying off the shelves

December 10th, 2010

At work, the subject of ghost stories came up, and one of my coworkers told me a story about how there's a Honolulu lingere store that's haunted. She knows this because her friend used to manage it.

As the story goes, products were mysteriously being knocked off the shelves, to the distress of the night time staffers. The manager didn't believe it until she had to take the late shift alone one night, and witnesses the weirdness for herself. She then got it blessed.

When I go home, we all talk about our day around the dinner table. I mentioned this story, but I guess I was not as clear, or Claus was not fully listening. The way I phrased it was, "I heard a ghost story at work today. There's a certain lingere store in town, and things were flying off the shelves. The evening employees were freaking out but the manager wouldn't believe them until she saw it for herself."

Somewhere between listening to my story and assisting Olivia with her dinner, he looked confused and asked me to repeat the story. I did, but he still looked confused.

"Why are things flying off the shelf a bad thing?" he asked.

"Because it's spooky," I replied, now puzzled. I mean, I know he works at a mortuary and he's used to dead-people-stuff, but is he that desensitized?

Now he actually stops and puts his fork down. "Where is this store?" he asked.

It's in metro-Honolulu, and I described the location. He stopped to take this in.

"Ooohhh. I didn't hear the ghost story part, and I thought you said there was a lingere shop at work and due to a sale, all the items were selling fast - you know, flying off the shelves?"

"Why would you think that?" I questioned.

"Because you said you heard a story at work."

Hmm, maybe not quite... But an amusing mix-up.

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