Friday, July 22, 2011

It's one of those days where everybody else is at Comic Con and you barely survived your midnight showing of the Deathly Hallows. (I don't think there is a sentence on earth that could proclaim to world at large "I am a geek" as well as that one.) No really: I know not everyone is at Comic Con (I even know that some of you have no idea what the hell Comic Con is or why you would care about it), but if you looked at my Google Reader this week, you'd get the impression that most of the world's population is actually there. I didn't even know about Cons until the internet (I didn't even really know there were groups of geeks anywhere), so I'm glad for the updates, and only a tiny bit jealous.

My trip to the midnight showing of HP & DH Pt2 did not exactly go as planned - There was much less community spirit than I was expecting, because I wound up watching the show with about 8 other people, as opposed to the packed theater we had been staking our seats out in. Due to a malfunctioning reel or some such BS, the show I was at couldn't start. As in, we saw the previews twice, the 'here are the exits' message three times, and were treated to the lights dimming and rising - as well as the curtain opening and closing - no less than four times, before someone came out and told us that there was an 'issue'. Really? We couldn't tell. Their 3-D version wasn't malfunctioning, though, so we could either stay where we had been staking out seats for an hour and a half and watch in 3-D or go to one of the other theaters. As we have previously discussed, 3-D is NOT FOR ME, so SisterK and I hightailed it to one of the other theaters, where the movie had already started! I can't even...

(They were still talking to Griphook, so I don't imagine we missed more than 3-7 minutes, but still)

And then we watched the movie which was beyond amazing, and even though I am an avid book of the fans and knew there were a few inconsistencies (which parts of the internet are very up in arms about), I enjoyed it so much, and it hit so many of the high points that I couldn't help but love it. Which is basically my reaction to the series as a whole, too, so points for consistency! I can't say enough about the actors (because there could be no other Snape, at this point), and most of my favorite/least favorite parts were in there, and I even liked the Epilogue (which I think puts me in the minority, but who cares?) There were some tears, but I expected those. I wasn't a huge fan of the final Voldy & Harry fight, because I can't watch zoom-y type things, but SisterK said some of the faces during that were so horrible as to incite nightmares, so I guess I didn't miss out on much. Love, love, loved it.

They also gave us free passes to go to a different show, whenever, because of the inconvenience. Since the chairs there are (like regular movie theater chairs) Chairs of Fibro Doom, I will be passing my tickets on to someone else, but I appreciated them owning up to their mistakes. Now if they'd just install couches or something...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sincerely, NTE

Dear Internets,

Thank you so very much for all of your wonderful, fabulous, fantastic links on today, Harry Potter Day! I am quite enjoying them. So much so that I am going to share some of them here, in case anybody else has missed out.

Zoot, who wrote the original template I used for this blog, so I've been reading her for at least six years, and her older son are adorable here. Cheers for tolerant teenagers.

Jennie culls through the Collective's archives for some of the most amazing Harry Potter-related posts ever.

s. e. smith (posting at Tiger Beatdown) talks about accessibility - or lack thereof - and why it is a bitch for people who like things or want to be happy for a little while that nobody (with the power to change things) cares about it very much.

Gretchen Alice compiled the Harry Potter project, full of other people's stories about their HP experiences. (Which I meant to contribute to, but just didn't get around to)

and Tumblr, dear Tumblr is chock full of magic today as it is every day.


Dear Chunkys,

You are not to be thanked for having only one 2-D version available (and pre-sold) for your midnight showings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt2. Some of us require 2-D versions, and also really appreciate being able to sit in comfortable chairs for close to three hours. Yours is the only local theater that is truly accessible to me, on most days, and you went and ruined it by insisting on 3-D (which is completely inaccessible, unfortunately).(Please see Tiger Beatdown link, above.) Since I have to choose between a Fibro-flare and unmanageable migraine & dizziness, I'm going to go with the flare, and take my business elsewhere for the show. But bad call, Chunkys; bad call.

(PS - I will be attempting to take my nephew to the same movie sometime next month - see if you can figure this out better for next time, won't you?)


Dear Other Movie Theaters,

I do not really like you, because your chairs are very uncomfortable, and I do not have the option of ignoring that. You are also often inaccessible in other ways, and to many people other than myself. I recommend that you read the Tiger Beatdown link above, as well, and try to remedy that ASAP. As for tonight, I would appreciate it if you did your best to not be so stinking uncomfortable that I am unable to focus on the movie... there is much crying and squeeing to be done, and - while I realize your place of business generally forgets that people like me exist - I want to do my share. Also, on a more positive note, thank you for adding 2-D showings to your midnight offerings - it is much appreciated.


Dear Fibro-flare,

I know that you are making yourself at home, post-SisterCh's shower and family bad news, but I'd rather you didn't. As a matter of fact, should you choose to abandon me, I would be most grateful. In the meantime: do not mess up my very last chance to attend a midnight showing of Harry Potter... I would be most displeased. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.


Dear Readers,

Hello! Have you read all the fabulous Harry Potter posts the internets are sharing with us today? In case you were wondering, I am wicked excited about attending the midnight showing tonight, and super psyched about the whole thing. We've talked before about my Harry Potter love, but I'm going to try not to rehash all of that right now (in order to refrain from writing about how 'magical' the whole thing is). Suffice it to say that the fact that it is coming to an end - the original series and all that goes with it - is bittersweet, for sure.

My family has had a bittersweet week itself - SisterCh's shower was beyond amazeballs - a lot of hard work (SisterJ rocked it out of the park, SisterK really showed up at the last minute and helped us pull it out), a few cranky "I don't play shower games"-ers (neither do I - but if there are games, the least you could do is pretend it isn't going to infect you with something), and a mess I've barely begun to clean, but still - she was quite happy, and people were definitely impressed - I'm going to have to steal some of the pictures SisterJ took, because I'm sure the only ones I got were of present-opening, but trust me, it went really well, even if said Fibro-flare tried to make me miserable (Fail!). The bitter came, unfortunately, later that same day, when we found out that my uncle - who was quiet and funny and far away - lost his battle with brain cancer. He is the fourth of my grandmother's nine children to die in the past twelve years, and the only one whose death we were (mostly) prepared for, but it's still been tough. To sit with my grandmother, and hear her talk about being superfluous and wondering why "He" would keep doing this to her. To hear from all the cousins and aunts and uncles who are grieving and remembering fathers, mothers, brothers, gone. To live through it all, again & to know that there'll be more grieving coming, and just want to run away and hide, and not have to face any of it. It's not an immediate loss, for most of us - because he was the recluse of the bunch, for sure - but it's still a loss, and I'm sick of losing.

Ahem. So - The movie better be amazing (and I have heard that it is), because it feels like I've been waiting for-ever for it, and for the chance to go to the midnight show (sans costume, unfortunately: things came up - although I'd make a pretty good Bellatrix, if I just didn't brush my hair), but mostly because I just need it right now. I just need the magic (crap: puns, there is no avoiding them when it comes to this subject: sorry!) and connectedness and community and love. I need the fandom and the characters, and the knowing that there are a million other people sitting out there in the dark somewhere, tonight, crying their way through the Forbidden Forest with me.

Total bonus is that I get to go with SisterK, seeing as how she's moving away in a couple weeks and is all "being a grown up" now and stuff. She was younger than my Oldest Nephew is now when we (BigBrother & I ) took her to the first one. She was eleven - just like Harry - when she started reading the books. And I'm pretty sure she's the only one in my family (besides me) who is still disappointed that no owl ever showed up for her. She got her drivers license (way late) especially for this - well, this and the fact that she has to drive halfway across the country in a few weeks, but let's just say it was for this. And I'm going to buy really expensive popcorn and not care at all.

I've been seeing a lot of "Thank you, Harry!" or "Thank you, Jo!" type posts around, and I'm in love with them all. Because those are my people - people who get that books and movies are more than words and pictures, and that characters can be true friends and stories can be more powerful than you can imagine. People who understand that the gift of forgetting about your own life for a little while - no matter how good or bad it may be - is a treasure. And who don't take it for granted.

Technically, I was 'too old'* for Harry Potter - it wasn't my childhood, or even my teenage-hood. I started reading them as they came out, but it wasn't until college. They've been important to me, just the same. Sharing it with my sisters, even though they were only kind of into it; sharing it with my nephew, even though he reads s o o o s l o w l y; battling my brother to get back my copy of the last book; laying on a bed with SisterK, trying to read more slowly so the day wouldn't end: these aren't things that I take lightly or will ever forget. It's good for me, today, this week, to have those things to remember & it's hard for me to believe that they all came about because one lady decided to start writing things down in a coffee shop somewhere.

To someone who loves words as much as I do, that is pretty much a miracle. That the writing down of words; the creation of a universe so different from our own, and yet fundamentally the same; the invention of spaces and spells and specialness; the journey of a boy and his friends, could come to mean so much, to so many.

It won't be the end of the world, when there's no more new Harry Potter movies, just as the world didn't end when George Lucas decided there'd been enough Star Wars movies (of course, some people rejoiced, but that's a little bit off topic), but that doesn't matter - it doesn't make it less sad that there's nothing new coming down the line. It's ok that it's sad - that's life. But the best part is, fifteen years ago, I'd never heard of Harry Potter, and neither had anybody else, really. So there's always the possibility that tomorrow, some other journey will start, and we'll all fall in love with somebody else. That's life too: exciting and surprising.

So I'll go tonight to the midnight show (my first! midnight showing!) and I'll try my best to have an amazing time & knowing that it's not the end of the world, and that it will be incredibly bittersweet. And I'll love every minute of it, and be thankful that I'm here to enjoy it.

Miss you! Be back soon!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Topics, topics, who's got a topic?

I could write about how hot it is here, and how everyone else in my family would like that to mean all air conditioning all the time, but the stale smell of the air conditioning combined with general cooking smells that will not dissipate, plus the fact that air conditioning makes me frozen, added to the fact that parts of our house get a really good breeze makes me less than amenable to this plan. Which earns me a lot of dirty looks, I suppose, but it turns out I give just as many, when I come out of my non-air conditioned room to find that the rest of the house is iceberg cold. It's a game we will continue to play all summer, unfortunately, because the heat doesn't really bother me, and it seems to really bother everybody else. Humidity bothers me, asthma wise, and I have no choice then but to fall back on the A/C. Heat itself, however, because I am very low on the physical activity meter (& also a lot lower in the room physically - heat rises), doesn't mean all that much. Sun, humidity, all of the main accomplices of heat - we are enemies, but heat & I are kind of buddies.

(I recently told Zack that I have experienced a dramatic increase in my levels of sweating - "Usually, aside for fevers, I am not a sweat-er" I told him. "No: You're more of a jacket" was his completely straight-faced response. Zack is so pathetic, he can't help but be adorable, sometimes. Even if I have now been waiting four days for his substitute nurse to call me back - I don't like that substitute nurse very much.)

What else is going on here - OH YEAH - a big huge shower. Even though it is not really all that big or huge; it just feels like it because there are a lot of details and secrets and planning and crafts and last minute things that I hate, but you can't cook for a party three weeks beforehand, unfortunately. That's this weekend, in case you were wondering. I have no doubts that it will turn out to be lovely, but the anxiety of getting there reminds me that I would - despite awesome organizational and DIY-skills - make a poor wedding planner.

I always get nervous before parties, and can't really nail down what the anxiety is about (aside from things just completely falling apart). I know I am not truly anti-social, but there is a huge part of me that is introverted, and definitely socially awkward. I long to be one of those gracious hostesses who doesn't search for the right thing to say that makes people feel welcome, or who knows how to blend different groups of people together seamlessly, but longing for it unfortunately does not make it so.

In response to a previous query, I thought I'd tell you that we've decided on two games for the shower, neither of which require much of a spotlight or too much intense participation (which I am not sure we can count on from our guests) - a "How Old Am I?" guessing game, with pictures of the bride at various ages and stages, and a "Design a Wedding Cake" coloring thing that has so far only been hilarious in the number of ways my sister and I have miscommunicated about it.

Originally, I'd read something about creating cakes out of Play Doh, which I thought sounded like fun and was different enough that not everybody would have played it a million times already (toilet paper dress making, I'm looking at you!) We decided to scale it back a little, I think mostly because not everybody here is a big Play Doh fan (boo hiss: Play Doh is awesome!), and do models instead. I told my sister that there were cake templates that we could use, and then people could decorate their own and have SisterCh judge which was best. Now, what I was talking about was doing little Styrofoam models of cake - actually called 'cake templates' (the kind people use when they're learning to frost cakes) with real frosting and what not - still kind of messy, but silly enough that people were having fun. But what SisterJ (the matron (ha!) of honor) heard was templates - like a paper drawing of a cake, that we would then have people decorate. So I went out and bought 20 pastry bags, and the look she gave me when I took them out of the bag was as if I told her I had decided that I would wear my underwear on the outside of my clothing from now on. In the interest of space and cleanliness, we decided to go with the coloring page version of the game, and I'm hoping it will still have enough silliness in it to make it fun and worthwhile.

I'm off to finish printing the pictures for the How Old Am I game, as we speak, so wish me luck. Let's hope whatever any of us wind up doing this weekend will be fun and fruitful!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Constant vigilance

Am imagining myself in Italy with Nathan Fillion, instead of lying here in bed, with a headache the size of that leaning tower he's probably posing next to right now. (Nathan Fillion is actually too cool to pose as if he and the tower are both tipping over, I'm sure, it was just the largest thing my poor tired brain could think of.) I actually had a pretty eventful day - wedding crafting with my mom and sisters, which went relatively well.

When it comes to my sisters - to any of my family, really - "relatively" is the operative word. Members of my family have long accused me of being "overly sensitive", and I probably am, but I feel like I am certainly not alone in that personality trait - none of us is particularly immune to the barbs and arrows that are routinely slung around here. Only, for the most part, I feel like they are all only sensitive to what's coming at them, not at what they're dishing out, while I have to be on high alert for everybody's issues. (Hello: I'm an adult child of three alcoholics: I like to try to stave off any emotional conflict before it completely & disastrously explodes - Pleased to meet you!)

But I am apparently the only one who is on hyper-vigilant putting-out-fires-before-they-flame-up duty, because it often feels like every time I tune into a conversation, I see somebody standing there, dropping another match.

It's like they can't see each other's tender spots - or when they do see them, they underestimate the impact on that person when they poke at them. When they're doing it it's "just teasing/joking/making an observation", but if it's done to them, then it's a deliberate insult.

I know people do bite their tongues, which makes me grateful that they have some internal sensors, but I don't feel like anybody else is as tuned into trouble as I have to be. Nobody else seems to see that looking to SisterJ for what comes next is probably putting more pressure on her than she needs/wants, or that continuously laughing at Mum's attempts to cut straight leaves her more embarrassed than amused. Perhaps there's more than a kernel of truth in these things, or in the fact that SisterCh would rather play with her her music list than make a decision, but when people keep poking the same spot over and over, I find myself waiting for the inevitable to occur, and for some to go just one joke too far.

And Lord only knows what happens then.

Part of my apprehension is, of course, this newly formed/found peace between SisterJ and SisterCh, which (it seems to me as a semi-outsider) is being constantly strained and tested by the multitude and magnitude of wedding STUFF TO BE DONE, and while I know it is not my responsibility to try to police their interactions, I keep finding myself doing exactly that. (And then writing super long, run-on sentences about it!) I hear myself re-interpreting something one of them just said to the other, trying to soften a verbal blow that I hope was unintentional, or have to physically stop myself from following after them when they leave a room together, worrying about what might happen once they are out of earshot. It's unreasonable, and I know it, but I haven't figured out how to stop feeling it yet.

They're actually doing a lot better than I'd have imagined, but the potential for danger and chaos is frightening to me, and I know that it's kicking my control freak tendencies into high gear, leading people to tell me how bitchy I'm being, which, when you are really only trying to help, feels pretty awesome, let me tell you. So then I try to dial it back, and wind up seeming uncaring to somebody else. Balance: I need it. (You can't control other people, I keep telling myself. But knowing it and following through on it are two different things.)

What's really evident to me now, though, is how much it hurt when they were fighting - not just them, but me too, - and how powerless I felt during that whole thing. I don't want to feel that way again, so I am trying to throw myself on all the grenades I see now, before they blow us apart again. Of course, this is a stupid strategy, because A) maybe those aren't grenades to anybody else besides me, B) constantly watching for grenades is exhausting, as is trying to diffuse them before they blow up, and C) everybody involved is an adult, and I'm never going to be able to predict or control their behavior, so it's useless even to try.

I am well aware of all those points, and it helps, some, to calm me down when we get to spend a day like to day where there were three separate bouts of laughter-induced tears, two semi-completed projects, and a whole room full of very stubborn people who each gave the day their absolute all, but I have a feeling that this relationship repairing stuff is going to take a lot longer than I want to be on guard duty for, and am going to try to work on that.

Friday, July 01, 2011

" Is there anything worse than dress shopping? I would rather ...

have my toenails peeled off one by one with pliers than spend five minutes in the dress store.

After a rather disastrous round of ordering, trying on & returning dresses, my quest for an acceptable dress to wear to my sister's wedding continues. Let me just say this -

- I am not good at clothes shopping, unless it is for baby clothes. I could shop for baby clothes for hours, happily. As opposed to what I've been doing today, which is shopping very unhappily for grown up clothes, also unfortunately for hours.
- I am totally judgmental about jumpsuits, and do not understand why they are 'fashionable' again. I will say, though, that it's probably just because they look really comfy, and I'm jealous that other people would leave the house in them.
- Although I am generally good at visualizing, I am particularly bad at visualizing how something will look on me .I have this sort of fake "what I wish I could wear" mindset, and wind up buying things that would never ever look good on me. This is evidenced by every hat I have ever bought, the existence of anything empire waisted in my closet, and the fact that I own a choker.
- On the topic of empire waists: Why do people, fashion type people, insist that plus sized women look good in these? Certainly there is a certain segment of the plus-size population that can wear these types of things and look great, but as a top heavy lady, let me just say: this style is not doing me any favors, can I please have some other options? When there is a very obvious line between where your boobs are supposed to be and where they're not, and that line falls somewhere in the middle of your actual boobs, it is not flattering. And yes, I have a great bra, and yes, they're where they're supposed to be: they are just too big to fit in the section you have assigned them. Now would be a good time to try something else, except 89% of what is out there is in this style, so that kind of makes it a little more difficult.
(Other variations on this theme include - Sleeves - Can we have some?; Belts - Now completely unnecessary!; Prints - Being fat doesn't mean I'd like to resemble my couch; and Colors - did you know there are more colors than black and blue?)
- I never got the "I must have shoes" thing ( you only get two feet, and I'm just not that interested in fashion), but given that I don't have to actually walk in any of the shoes I buy, I can pretty much go for the most outrageous shoe out there. This is actually pretty reassuring, as I look at the spiky torture devices the models are exhibiting in some of these pictures.
- And that turns out to be a less than fair trade-off when you consider that nothing looks as good sitting down as it does standing, and I'm going to be sitting down the whole time I'm wearing this thing. Nobody thinks that sitting makes that much of a difference in whether you look good in something or not, but let me assure you, as one who is sitting 99% of the time, it really does. Standing is slimming, it's allows for air to flow and the natural movement of the dress (in this case) to occur. Sitting scrunches things, makes you realize that the neckline is too high because you can't breathe anymore, squishes other things, makes things you wouldn't have thought of bulge in strange ways. Plus it makes everything hotter, because you're just sitting there sweating in it for hours and hours. Trust me - always sit in something before you buy it, you won't be sorry.
- I think online stores should have more reasonable return policies - you know we can't buy these things in store, for the most part, so why don't you have free return shipping? Why don't you have in-store pick up options, if you're going to charge me $17 to send me the damn thing and it's your fault your store doesn't carry plus-size on site? Grumble, grumble, grumble.

That is my rant on wedding guest dress shopping, for the moment.... Now I'm off to try again. See if I can't find something that works. Although if you have an infant you'd rather I outfitted, I am open to and available for all distractions...

No? Nobody? Ok... fine.

Have a great, safe 4th of July weekend, everybody.

Little Manhattan