Ozzily Yours

Thursday, July 25, 2013

On the third anniversary

Conversation in a dimly-lit bedroom, as I put my son to bed and go about gathering the menagerie of stuffed animals that sleep with him each night. (His friends, as we say in our house).

"So here's Snoozy Bear... and your octopus... and Mr. Turtle. You know, I think Mr. Turtle is pretty special."

"Why is Mr. Turtle special?"

"Well, Mr. Turtle was given to you right after you were born by a very good friend of mine."

"What good friend?"

"His name was Todd."

-----

I don't know if you know many 4-year-olds. 4 is the age of "why," it's true - but it also seems to be the age of recalling and returning to everything you say. A few nights later....

"Why did Todd give me Mr. Turtle?"

"Well, I think he and his wife wanted to send a gift to welcome you into the world. It's a nice thing that people often do when you have a baby."

"Who was his wife?"

"His wife is named Rebecca."

"...Did they die?"

-----

It's interesting how children can read things into the smallest details. I guess it must have been my consistent use of the past tense, or maybe just the way I was speaking. Maybe he remembers my telling him a little about Todd before. I don't know. Somehow, the question didn't surprise me, and I knew I had to be honest with him.

-----

"Todd died, yes, but Rebecca is still alive."

"How did he die?"

"He had a big accident a few years ago."

"What kind of accident?"

"He fell from a very, very tall building."

"And that makes you die?"

"Yes, if you fall far enough, it can make you die."

-----

Mr. Turtle has been among his foremost friends for several nights this week. He's also been talking about gifting Mr. Turtle to his newborn baby brother - but so far he's not quite ready to let him go. Mr. Turtle is awfully soft, and pretty rubby - his word for a stuffed animal that feels nice to rub with your fingers while you're going to sleep.

-----

"Mom? Why did Todd have that accident?"

"I don't know. I wish I did. But I don't."

"Can you look it up?"

"No, I'm afraid I can't look it up."

"Why not?"

"Because, buddy, some things you just can't look up. There are some questions we'll never know the answers to, no matter how much we wish we could."

"I wish we could, too."

"I know. Would you like to hear some funny stories about Todd? I have a lot of those."

"...Yeah."

-----

It's been a few days since Todd came up in conversation. I have no doubt he'll ask about him again. I hope I'll still be able to be truthful, and to remind him that we shouldn't dwell on how he died, but on how he lived.

R.I.P., Crocketeer.  I still miss you.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Have to, or choose to?...

"Do you have to go back to work?" After declaring my 3-day-old son's weight gain satisfactory and observing that he was latching on well while nursing, the pediatric R.N. was ready to move on to new topics.

I blinked back at her in a sleep-deprived haze. Go back to work? Hell, no. I'm going home. Possibly with a stop at In-and-Out along the way. Why would I be going back to?...

Oh. Okay, I get it. "I'm going to start working again in October," I responded, which triggered a discussion of when to start pumping breast milk and when it would be okay to start offering a bottle. And then I was heading home, and whatever had lodged in my mind about the strangeness of the question was displaced by other things (namely, a double-double and some crispy fries).

And then, a few days later: talking of a family member who'd be having her own first child soon, I was told, "She has to go back to work after 2 or 3 months." And there was that weird discomfort again.

This is a woman who worked very hard to get into and through medical school and, now, is being challenged in her residency. Given all that she's invested in getting as far as she has - and how much she'd lose if she abandoned her path now - I would be much more surprised if I were told she wasn't going back to work. And that's when it dawned on me:

Do you have to go back to work?... She has to go back to work.

I suddenly wanted to bolt back to the hospital and tell that nurse, "No! I don't have to go back to work, I'm choosing to go back to work! I'm excited to go back to work! I know it's going to be really hard, but I'm excited anyway!"

And let me pause to acknowledge that I am writing from a place of extraordinary privilege: my family would remain financially solvent if I chose not to work. What's more, I work from home, part-time, for an extremely understanding boss who is also a long-time dear friend; and we've been lucky enough to line up a terrific nanny who has been close to our family for years. I understand that many women don't have a choice, and I understand that many women don't have the flexibility and options that I do.

Further, I came at my decision to return to work with the benefit of hindsight. A confluence of circumstances essentially took away my opportunity to choose work when my first child was born - a layoff combined with a weak economy combined with a planned move across the country meant that I was a stay-at-home parent for my son's first fifteen months. And having had that experience, I genuinely believe I will be a better mom if I take the 20 hours per week of work - the intellectual stimulation, the change of scenery (figuratively, if not literally), and, frankly, the break from the incredibly challenging work of parenthood will leave me refreshed and ready to devote my remaining time more fully to my family.

And I'm thrilled that I can choose that path. But I wish that I didn't find myself feeling defensive about it already - that defensiveness arising only because of the phrasing of that eight-word question.

So take a second the next time you're talking to a pregnant woman, a friend with a newborn, a mom whose child will be starting preschool soon. If you must ask the question, try to keep it neutral: "Do you plan to go back to work?" It may seem like the exact same question, but believe me when I say that, to me, and many women (and, increasingly, some men) like me, there is a world of difference.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New project!

So even watching all of Buffy can't get me to write regularly. How sad.

In the interest of chronicling the mundane details of my day-to-day life, I've decided to embark on a Project 365, taking and posting a photo a day. I'm not making any efforts at artistic expression here (most photos will be taken by my phone), just trying to capture snapshots of daily life.

If you're at all interested, join me at http://mcm365.tumblr.com/.

And I may well be back here some day. Who knows?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beauty and the Beasts

And then I only had one episode to finish out the disc! How could I not?

Turns out, easily. And I shouldn't have. Although I guess I should be glad that this episode taught me that domestic violence is bad. BAD. And so is creating a potion that turns you into Mr. Hyde. BAD.

Also, I've always felt this way, but Angel's dramatic return at the very end of the episode feels a little unearned to me. I can't really explain why, because I know it all gets explained and we learn that he suffered unimaginably, yadda yadda yadda, and yet... the eerily-lit claddagh ring tinkling on the ground still makes me say, "Eh."

Faith, Hope, and Trick

So I was going to nap after the last episode. But then I realized that this was the next one. I always forget that Faith and Mr. Trick, two AWESOME characters, were introduced at the exact same time.

We have a group of friends that has a duck. Not Duck, actually, is his proper name. And Not Duck has traveled the world and met many celebrities. Now, during our tenure in Chicago, as subscribers to Steppenwolf Theatre, we saw lots of moderately famous actors perform, but we never felt the need to wait by the stage door to meet them. Until, that is, K. Todd Freeman, Mr. Trick himself, appeared in Steppenwolf's Tempest. The only time we've lurked at the stage door. So worth it!

So clearly, I am a fan of Mr. Trick and, as such, I'm a fan of this episode. While the so-old-he's-cloven-hooved Kakeestos (sp?) is a little lazily reminiscent of the Master and Faith's overcome-your-fear-and-be-a-stronger-person storyline is cliched, I'm willing to forgive thanks to the very fact that this episode brought Mr. Trick and Faith into the Buffyverse. Also, I remain obsessed with the line, "Sunnydale ain't exactly a haven for the brothers."

(And for the record, K. Todd Freeman made an excellent Caliban.)

Dead Man's Party

Last weekend saw the perfect storm of me not feeling well and the kid being more tantrum-y than usual. A nap was in the cards, except I suspected I wouldn't actually sleep, given that being horizontal inevitably led to not being able to breathe through my nose. It was the perfect time to resurrect Buffython! Except then, clearly, I didn't feel like actually writing anything when I was done. So I dashed down a few notes, but we'll see what happens here.

This ep is necessary , but kind of boring. Yes, Buffy's loved ones needed the chance to vent, but the set-up is overly contrived. And also, given that Joyce was all excited about having a nice dinner party, why did she allow the gathering to turn into a high school kegger? - what kind of mom doesn't shut the party down BEFORE the rock band sets up their equipment? In other news, I've clearly gotten spoiled by watching Walking Dead, because DAMN this was some weak zombie make-up.

To be fair, this episode does have some stuff to recommend it. First and foremost: Jonathan! Addressed by Buffy (during the epic blow-out in which her friends finally tell her that running away was a selfish bitchcake move) as "you, by the dip, do you have anything to say?" (He responds, hilariously mid-dip, "No... I'm good.") Also, Giles' immortal line, often repeated in our house, "Do you like my mask? Isn't it pretty? It raises the dead! AMERICANS."

Mostly, though, the episode remains one long round of set-up. Buffy gets back into school and into her friends' good graces and the Mayor continues to be obliquely referred to in ominous tones.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Anne

This episode wasn't as hokey as I remembered. I liked the interplay between first-day-of-school drama and saving-the-world drama, as both felt very real. Seeing Joyce's and Giles' pain, as well as her blaming him for Buffy's disappearance, was also really well-done.

W/r/t the main storyline - I remembered the character of Lily as really annoying and in reality she was only, well, kind of annoying. I had completely forgotten the fact that she pushes their demon tormentor off a ledge in order to save everybody - sort of her redemption. Nice! Perhaps it's knowing that she later turns up in "Angel" as an even more-evolved character that made this more palatable for me.

I think they earned Buffy's return to Sunnydale. We'll see how well they earn her re-incorporation into Sunnydale life.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Becoming

The DVR kept ending up at >90% full. You can understand how Buffy had to take a back seat to getting that ridiculousness under control.

But today, as the kid went down for a nap, I thought to myself, this is the perfect opportunity! Two to three uninterrupted hours means it's an excellent time to watch the final two episodes of season 2! Sadly, the kid had other plans, but I struggled through it, though with frequent pauses to go downstairs and remind him that if he kept getting out of bed he would NOT be watching the new Thomas DVD he brought home from the library. (Side note: Calvin found this DVD himself and insisted on checking it out; this is the first Thomas show we've actually been exposed to. IT. IS. TERRIBLE. How do parents not shoot themselves after watching this stuff???)

ANYWAY. The first part of this two-parter is, frankly, weaker than I remembered. I found all the Angel flashback stuff kind of trite and was bothered by the constant game of name-the-accent. I'm bugged by the fact that Whistler's presence is never really explained... but I do like the fact that Richard Riehle, as Merrick (Buffy's first watcher) is pretty much the exact opposite of Donald Sutherland in every way. Yeah, Joss Whedon! Stick it to Sutherland!

And Kendra's death remains chilling, and sad, and the perfect set-up for the much stronger, truly heartbreaking second episode. Joss Whedon once said that he figured out early on that if he really wanted fans to be invested, he should just put Willow in danger... but I found the torture of Giles almost too hard to watch. The introduction of Spike as a potential ally for Buffy; Whistler's assertion that, in the end, you're always alone; and, of course, Willow giving herself over to the magic all set up themes that would be returned to over and over throughout the series.

Also, Buffy's coming-out scene remains one of my favorite things ever in television. "Are you sure you're the slayer? Have you tried NOT being the slayer?"

So, all in all: good stuff. I'm done with season 2. And the DVR is inching back up towards the 90% mark.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Go Fish

Why do I feel like I'm letting this Buffython turn into a Jonathan-a-thon? Because I am pleased to report that this is the first episode in which he gets to be comic relief all on his own - "So you wanted revenge. And you delved into the black arts, didn't you?" "What? No. I snuck in yesterday and peed in the pool." Heh. Danny Strong, you rock. Call me.

Anyway, back when this first aired, I clearly was not yet aware of the gloriousness that is Danny Strong, and I remember my then-boyfriend accusing me of enjoying this episode strictly for the Xander-in-a-Speedo scenes. Thankfully, I now have a husband who more than respects my enjoyment of the Xander-in-a-Speedo scenes. I will say, though, while Nicolas Brendon does look good in this episode, it does no favors for a pre-Prison Break Wentworth Miller who turns up in a distinctly unflattering turtleneck sweater. (Is Wentworth Miller still working? I'm thinking not so much.) I do like the moment when he sheds his skin to become the fish monster. Too bad the fish monster itself is kinda cheesy.

I'm not sure I agree with Adam807's take that the not-subtle subtext here is even more heavy-handed than the very-important internet lesson from "I, Robot... You Jane." Maybe because in the end, the steroid monsters got to be happy in the sea! - so... it all worked out? Sort of? Except for poor swim coach and nurse Conchata Ferrell.

I Only Have Eyes For You

When I was a preadolescent, my mom took me to see The Journey of Natty Gann and it was SUPER AWESOME. It took place in the depression and followed Natty as she traveled across the country to find her father, who, taking whatever job he could find, had left Natty in the care of his landlady when he found work in Seattle. (Side note: having just had the revelation that Natty's sweet, gentle dad is played by embodiment-of-evil-charm Ray Wise, I realize I must watch this movie again. Soon. To Netflix!) I loved loved loved Natty who, as played by Meredith Salenger, was all spunk and confidence and smarts AND, on top of all that, got to have a very PG pseudo romance with John Cusack.

The next time I registered Meredith Salenger, she was in a movie with the Coreys (RIP, Haim) which, though I did not see it, I'm guessing was no Natty Gann. Then she fell off my radar.

And then she reappeared in Buffy a decade later! And, no surprise, is the reason I have a soft spot for this episode - she is the teacher who, after breaking off an affair with her student (which, good for her - that's a whole other issue) is killed by said student... only to return in ghost/flashback form four decades later.

Other things I like:
  • "'Something weird is going on.' Isn't that our school motto?" -Xander
  • Giles being so pathetically sure that the ghost haunting the school is Jenny, and later giving Buffy a very sweet speech on the nature of forgiveness
  • The continued exposition regarding Snyder's knowledge that the school is on the hellmouth - but that he wants to cross the mayor even less than he wants to confront the beasties from the hellmouth
  • Spike can walk! And he's MAAAAAD at Angel!