fearlesstemp: (lionel)
This morning, I came downstairs to eat breakfast (and by "came downstairs to eat breakfast" I mean "ran into the kitchen with my hair half-dried and shoved an english muffin in my face as quickly as possible while speed-reading the comics") and saw my father had put a piece of paper with an address on the table where I usually sit.

"Wuv dis?" I asked around the five bites of english muffin in my mouth.

"The address for the writing group meeting tonight," my father answered.

The writing group. Ah yes, the writing group, one of those many things that sounds great in theory, but once they come around, usually cause me to be annoyed about having to interrupt my nightly routine of doing nothing very important or meaningful. And this was not just any writing group -- no no no, it was a Mensan writing group. My father has decided he wants to get as much bang for his $36 a year license fee and has started going on this huge Mensa kick, attending as many events as possible with me in tow.

So I spend all day debating whether or not to cancel with him, ultimately decide not to and pick up dinner for him on the way to his office where we're meeting pre-group, only to get stuck in traffic on my way so that when I arrived, we had approx. 2.3 minutes to eat the soup and ended up playing that fun old game every perpetually late person plays: It's Your Fault. He blamed me for picking up soup ("We don't NEED soup, you shouldn't have stopped, you should have gotten here SOONER, blah blah"); I blamed him for the inaccurate meeting time ("The soup is irrelevant! I got her a FULL SEVEN MINUTES before you told me too! Your meeting time was wrong! Blah blah!"). It was fun.

Finally we hopped in our respective cars and took off for the writing group, which was being held at this random guy's house. Right before we left my father's office, he turned to me and said, "We should bring something."

"We could bring him soup," I said, holding up the Panera bag with two quarter-consumed cups of soup. "Or half a chunk of bread."

My father actually looked like he was considering it before shaking his head and saying, "Nah, we'll just stop at Cumberland Farms [aside: classy, I know]. Follow me."

Which sounds like simple instructions. "Follow me." Okay, easy enough. Except my father didn't drive so much like he was leading me somewhere as much as he did like he was making a getaway in a hot car. I had to cut across lanes of traffic, pass people, make unsafe darts out of parking lots -- it's so fitting, though, because as I've told my mother, one of the most vivid memories of my father from when I was really little is the sight of his retreating back in the supermarket parking lot. He's always been one of those parents who has faith in their children's ability to keep up or catch up, whether they're six or twenty-three.

At one point he did get so far ahead that he pulled over to wait for me, only I assumed he'd gone way further ahead and ended up passing him, so that he ended up following me through the unfamiliar city streets, beeping. I kind of worried it was a carjacking or something before I recognized the car.

Anyway, finally we got there! Almost twenty minutes late, nervous we would be interrupting some big critiquing session, we arrived, walked through the doors to discover -- no one else was there. No one. Just us, the host, and his freakishly large Mancoon (sp?) cat.

SO. AWKWARD.

Especially because I brought nothing for people to read/critique. But it was okay for a while, just chatting, and then my father brought out his story and read it, and I was appropriately complimentary and Host Dude was relatively silent. And then Host Dude read his story, and turned to us expectantly.

"I liked it a lot," I said, and meant it.

"Yeah," my father said. "Yeah...." Now, there's no way to fully capture my father's impressive way of holding the floor in a conversation without really saying anything, mainly because he talks so incredibly slow that it's hard to tell when he's done talking, and a lot of the time he just ends up going on and on because no one's sure when they're able to speak without interrupting him.

After a few seconds of awkward pause, my father cleared his throat, said, "I liked it," and then launched into this long, detailed, somewhat harsh but not inaccurate critique of the story.

At the end? Host Dude's face? Scarily non-responsive. Like, offended and pissed. And there we are, sitting in his kitchen, sitting across from his freakishly large cat who he's already introduced as a "Helper" kitty, striking fear into my heart that should Host Dude say "Kill, kitty" I'd be toast in seconds.

I jumped in and tried to salvage it but being all "I liked it! Really! It was good! Ignore my father's wacky statements about actually having conflict in your story! It's okay! Please don't hate us."

We sat around awkwardly for another twenty minutes or so, which was about as fun as it sounds.

It was funny, though! My father has written, like, multiple novellas! I had NO IDEA. The excerpt he read was kind of funny -- he'd lifted it from his real life and fictionalized it a bit. I only knew because it's an old family story about my mom and dad. It was kind of sweet to hear how he characterized their evening together, and his description of "Maize"/Peg.

I have a feeling there was something else that happened there tonight that was rather funny, but I can't think of it now, and it's way past my bedtime. So snooze time for me!
fearlesstemp: (lionel)
i.

Carpooling home from work, I announced to my mother, "I am not going to spend any more money at all! I'm going to save save save!"

Three hours later she picked up the WalMart receipt I'd left on the counter, asked if I needed it, then glanced at the date/amount on it and said, "Not going to spend any more money, eh?" with a quirked eyebrow.

Whatever! Money spent on the new Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum book and Shanghai Knights so does not count, as they are integral to my sanity and the welfare of my SOUL. Also, I really really wanted both. It is indicative of my priorities that I didn't blink an eye at dropping $15 and $17 for the DVD and book respectively, and then proceeded to spend a solid ten minutes standing in front of a rack of clothes debating whether or not to buy a $5.00 pair of workout shorts that I really, really need. Like, sometimes I end up having to go outside and exercise in shorts and pants that haven't seen the light of day since the mid-nineties as they've been relegated to PJ duty for the past few years. I need new shorts! I'm almost positive I'm already ridiculed far and wide for my lame workout regime and lack of fitness, I don't need to be mocked for my shirts with holes in the armpits or bleach stains!

Anyway, the book is good and the DVD is sitting here right next to me, waiting to be happily watched. I don't know why I loved the movie so; I'm afraid I'm going to watch it again and find it far inferior. More to follow, surely, after I watch.

ii.

Sitting at dinner, Mom, the Brother, and yours truly present:

Me: ...I mean, it's not, like, Betsy Ross or something!

Jimmers: Hey, I like Betsy Ross! (very earnestly) She's my hero.

Mom and Me: ...

Me: Really?

Jimmy: No, not *really*. I mean, come on! I'm not black.

Mom and Me: ....

Jimmy: Wasn't she the one on the bus?

Mom: No! That was Rosa Parks!

Jimmy: Who the hell is Betsy Ross?

Anyway, for the rest of the night, my mother and I kept cracking up, saying, "Betsy Ross? Come on, it's not like I'm *black*." For some reason this just got more amusing every time, and by the end my brother was ready to kill the both of us.

iii.

I was peacefully sitting on the couch, enjoying the All Star Game, when my brother said, "Hey Jess, I have something I want to tell you" and then proceeded to lift his leg in the international sibling sign for Incoming Fartage. I responded quickly by moving to kick his leg in an attempt to distract him, only to face his retaliation of kicking my hand. Which was holding a big glass of icewater! And so I ended up with about a third of a glass of icewater ALL over me! So annoying! And my brother just sat there laughing, looking all satisfied with himself, and so I dumped the rest of it on his head.

It was a lovely moment, even with my mom screeching in the background about water getting on the couch. My mother doesn't seem to have embraced the fact that the couch is almost twenty years old and has had just about every liquid possible spilled on it. It can't get much worse for wear, and anyway, it was water! I think she was mostly upset because we distracted her from the game.

~~

And that's all that's fit to type into this Update Box tonight. One of these days I'll get around to discussing the big wedding and all, but tonight I'm too tired and Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan are waiting to entertain me with their wacky antics. Heart them so!



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So, my dad's a lawyer, which I think most of you know. What you may not know (but may have guessed through reading my stories about him), is that my dad is one of the least lawyerish people on the planet and is, in fact, not too happy with his chosen profession. Which is part of why I'm terrified of choosing the wrong career, and a big reason why I didn't just go on to law school like I'd halfheartedly planned a year ago.

So, he doesn't like his job, but instead of being bitter about it and whining all the time (like *some* people we know me), he just does the best to make the most of every single moment out of the office. And by "every single moment" I mean "every single moment." A typical vacation day to-do list for my dad, James J. MyLastName:

-Wake up at dawn
-Go for walk
-Buy coffee
-Wake family. Dodge projectiles thrown by semi-conscious family members bitter over being awoken before 8AM on their vacation.
-Go to breakfast
-Go play 9 or 18 holes of golf with son
-Go back to hotel, deposit clubs. Get tennis rackets and rest of family. Go play tennis.
-Go back to hotel, deposit rackets. Put on bathing suits. Go to beach.
-If at all possible, rent boat. Ignore high-pitched threats from wife that if you rent a boat again and put her son in, she will divorce you! No really, she means it this time! Really, Jimmy!
-Go boating.
-If possible, fish.
-Come back to shore. Go swimming.
-Scream from the surf at any and all family members not in the ocean until they get so embarrassed that they will risk the Walk of Shame and expose their pasty white thighs to all beachgoers while walking to the surf in order to shut you up
-Swim some more
-Get out of water. Go to designated beach spot, pull out painting supplies.
-Paint
-Once finished painting, gather family and go back to hotel
-At hotel, prepare for dinner. Tell family that you're going to go for a quick dip in the pool instead of showering. Ignore comments about how nasty that is and actually convince your son to go with you.
-Arrange impromptu race with son in the pool
-Lose pathetically
-Go back to room
-Go to dinner
-Walk around the town looking at shops post-dinner
-Go to room and go to sleep

Next day:
-See schedule of previous day.

It's madness, really, but especially as a little kid, it was pretty awesome. And even in non-vacation times, he's always had stuff going on -- though mostly, when we were little, the stuff going on was just hanging out with us. So though he worked crazy hours at this job he despised, whenever he came home he was 100% with us, talked to us at dinner, played catch with us in the backyard, made us go on long boring scenic car rides, etc etc. But as we got older and couldn't be his primary source of entertainment out of the work arena, he started to look other places.

Like: The Knights of Columbus. Mensa. Toastmasters. And last but certainly not least, art. He takes classes all the time and actually submits his stuff EVERYWHERE. I mean, if they have an open call for submissions, my Dad is THERE when the doors open. He actually had one piece accepted at our county art center's show, and then had another piece auctioned off on the local PBS station's fundraiser. He's on fi-yah!

I spent the bulk of today at one of my father's crazy art activities -- an art show about 45 minutes north of here. He signed up and, naturally, didn't notice that he'd already agreed to help coach a baseball game today too, but refused to back out of either, so, conflict! Art vs. Sport! What would he do??

Lucky for him he has two generous children (aka "loser kids with no other social obligations that would provide justification for not participating") able to come sit with his works while he went to the baseball game during the latter part of the show.

So Jimmers and I drove up there, walked into the parking lot where it was being held, and saw stand after stand of lovely artwork, masterfully displayed on cross-hatched wood or metal folding partitions, many with colorful decorative tents. Artists sitting there looking superior and deep in dark clothing.

And then we walked on and saw my Dad at the far corner.

Uniform: Bright blue hawaiian shirt, frayed straw hat with hot pink and neon blue accents, oversized khaki shorts with wide black belt, sneakers with velcro straps.

Setting: Far corner of artshow. Amid the crowd of tasteful displays, four pieces of 4ft by 3ft plywood hasily nailed together such that they stand up lengthwise, pieces of artwork hanging on nails hammered into said plywood. Other pieces simply leaning against the plywood on he ground.

Artwork: One (1) piece in actual frame. Rest au natural. Half on canvas, half on driftwood salvaged from the beach. Subjects include: Hollywood sign, horse writers' group (three horses sitting at a table with the book "Seabiscuit" between them), my mother sitting at a kitchen table (next to a creature I must assume is supposed to be one of our cats, but which is far too large, causing my brother and I to dub it "Mom and the Freakishly Large Cat" instead of its actual name, "The Artist's Wife").

He also was the only artist who made the interesting choice to park his car directly behind the display, so that it almost appeared that the massive Chevy Caprice was also part of his artistic experience. In short: It was a sight.

When we reached him, he revealed to us that he had actually not realized that he would have to have some sort of surface to display his art on, and so he was actually an hour late setting up his work at the show since he had to take an hour or so to drive to Home Depot to buy the plywood, and then another fifteen minutes or so at the show putting the contraption together. And let me tell you, the fact that it had been put together in fifteen minutes? It showed. I felt like we were the special needs section of the art show or something, except our artist wasn't from some local halfway house or person going through art therapy, he's an attorney of 25 years experience.

Anyhoo, Dad took off pretty quickly after we arrived to race to the game and my brother and I sat down behind his display to cover for him.

For four and a half hours.

I very nearly died of boredom. I had brought CDs and a book, but it was hard to read or listen to music because there were always people milling around and I felt like I should be available in case they wanted to ask me stuff. Not that I would have any answers (I have zero artistic ability and knowledge), but I felt like I should be available to say "Uh, I'm actually not sure?" at any time.

One artist dude from another display actually came by and stood there staring at one of my Dad's pieces for a solid fifteen minutes. It was kind of creepy. We went over to his display later to kind of return the favor (I don't know art show etiquette, but it felt right) and it was all this weird black and white mishmash of shapes and lines which I totally did not get, and thusly just stood there like a moron going, "Wow, this is so...cool! It's really so cool! I like the...shapes and...stuff. Very cool. Cool. Um. Gotta go! Later!"

Anyhoo. No art was sold, due largely to the fact that my Dad placed nearly all of his pieces above $500 in value, largely because I don't think he really wants to part with any of them. I think he just likes driving around, showing them off, meeting random other artists. And dragging his kids along, of course.

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fearlesstemp

February 2009

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