Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best Christmas Gift Ever

So, because I'm a materialistic heathen, I'm going to write about one of my favorite Christmas pressies instead of the joy and love of the season. Yeah!!! I'm like that.

When I was about 8 years old, Cabbage Patch Kids emerged on the scene. And oh holy crap did I need to have one. I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeded one. To add extra pain, my friend, Mandy, had one called Joelle Alicia or something like that. She had blond/brown hair and blue eyes and she wore a yellow dress with white shoes. Not that those details were at all important enough for me to remember 20+ years later.

Obviously, if Mandy had one, I needed one, too. The yearning was unbearable. Torturous. Excruciating. All I ever wanted in life was to become the mother of a baby born in a cabbage. And I was not shy about telling my parents this. I was only shy around other people--my parents and brother saw the true, far more obnoxious, me. So I asked and pleaded time and again for a baby birthed in leafy vegetables.

At one point, my mom suggested that I pray to God for one, because God has a way of answering prayers. Hm. Interesting strategy, I thought. So I tried it, to no avail. I prayed for days and days but no ugly-but-cute nylon doll showed up. Not ever. Things were getting desperate. So I thought about it and decided these times called for strategy as desperate as the need I felt. I decided to use the God Card. I mean, hey. Mom started it, so it was totally justified that I use it, too.

The plot unfurled. I approached my mom one night while she was preparing dinner. I specifically remember looking at the stove while I unleashed my strategy--the top of the stove came up to about my mouth--I was shorter then, you see. Here's what I said: "Mom, I have been praying and praying so hard for a Cabbage Patch Kid, but God STILL hasn't given me one. Why not?" So innocent. So sweet. So conniving.

Mom suggested that I just keep trying, that sometimes it takes awhile. Hmph. God was playing the 'be patient' card, eh? And Mom had a dodge for my strategy. No good.

But then. Not too long later, my grandparents were visiting and I was across the street playing with Mandy. Probably with her treasured Cabbage Patch Kid. Oh, the jealousy. My brother came to find me to tell me that my parents wanted to talk to me.

Yulp. That couldn't be good. They didn't interrupt my play for nothing, so as I walked home, I ran through a list of potential offenses that could be at root of my imminent punishment. I walked in the front door, and there was Mom and Dad with my grandparents. In the room was a big garbage bag. Mom told me that I was getting an early Christmas present (it was probably late summer/early fall), and that it was in the garbage bag.

You can guess what happened next. I got Danya Karlotta, who had red hair, green eyes, and wore a pink knit dress with white shoes. I nearly peed my pants from joy. And it turns out, it was my little plot that had made it all happen. Mom and Dad decided they didn't want me to drift into atheism just because God didn't get me my Cabbage Patch Kid, so they took immediate action and gave me the doll. Sweeeeeeeeeet. They chose not to tell me that till later, and similarly I did not confess my little strategy until after I was an adult. We all lived in blissful ignorance that we had outsmarted one another.

And I got a Cabbage Patch Kid (the first of three, actually). And that year, on Christmas Day, I got a whole bunch of homemade clothes for her. Life was good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another sappy cynic agrees with me.

Found this NY Times article that delves into the complicated feelings about It's a Wonderful Life. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wonderful Life?

So, I'm finally getting around to watching It's a Wonderful Life this year. I'm a strange combination of cynical and sappy, so this movie makes my brain hurt. I can't decide how to feel about it. Do I love that the end shows how important a person can be without fully realizing it--and that being important doesn't involve doing anything grandiose? Or do I hate that it ends with George still never getting to follow his dreams of traveling and architecture?

That's the thing for me. I think everyone should be able to follow their own dream, but that would all too often mean that no one is taking care of anyone. We'd all be so focused on ourselves that those in need would be crushed under our self-centered weight. So that means that someone has to be the one to do the propping up, the taking care of, the seeing to, the watching over. And while I suppose that might be someone's 'dream,' I think it's fair to say that's rare. So that means a lot of people are living George Bailey's life instead of Harry Bailey's. Only who knows how many are ever going to at least get the thanks that George got?

I don't know what any of that really means. I can't in good conscience ask the George Baileys to stop the propping up, but I can no more ask them to sacrifice any dream they sacrificed to make it happen. Where does that leave us?

I guess it leaves me lucky that I've been able to follow most all my own dreams--traveling abroad, becoming a professor, etc. I'm Harry Bailey.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Top Ten Memories of Grandpa Fisher (in no particular order).

10) The fact that he called Happy Joe's pizza "Slappy Ho's." My brother and I aren't sure if he realized how sexual that sounded...or if he just got a kick out of it enough that he took the risk of us figuring it out. Probably the latter.

9) The Dukes of Hazard horn on his old, brown van. It played lots of songs, actually, be we liked that one best. This was before I fully understood the racist underpinning of the song's origins. But honestly, I don't care. It was awesome to pull into our driveway, have Grandpa honk the horn, and know that the Pylelo kids would hear it across the street.

8) When Grandpa and Grandma would come visit us in Sioux City, they would bring all their pop cans with them to redeem at the recycling center. Then Dirk and I would split the money he got back. Jackpot! Grandpa told us we could buy anything we wanted with it. I bought a Ken doll with mine one time.

7) They had this ugly old black dog puppet in their basement toy box. My cousin, Molly, and I would (oh so cleverly and sneakily) put the puppet on our arm and run up to "bite" his arm with the dog. He would carry on dramatically, as if in great pain from the bite. We thought it was so hilarious...looking back, it may be a miracle that we didn't turn out to be psychopaths. Whatev. It was good times, and he was sweet to indulge us. Every. Single. Time. We did it.

6) We used to stay at their house when we'd come to Hamilton county for a weekend. My brother and I used to HATE it when Grandpa would scrape his plate with his fork and knife. He would dig those utensils into the porcelain, making the most god-awful screeching noise, not far removed from nails on a chalkboard. Between that and ketchup on his fried eggs, meal times were an adventure for us. (Though Grandma gave us grape juice, which was a treat we did not get at home....that pretty much rocked.)

5) Keeping with the food theme, my parents rarely drink, but Dad and Grandpa would share a pitcher of beer when we went out for pizza together. Grandpa called it "barley pop," and claimed it was healthy for him. Who am I to question that logic?

4) When Molly and I were little, we went camping with Grandpa and Grandma in their RV. We stayed at a Cutty's resort and went miniature golfing. Then we went back to the RV and played cards till what seemed to be a very late hour. The next morning, Grandma made us blueberry pancakes for breakfast (there's the food theme again). Grandpa was great about having fun with a couple of silly little girls. One other time when our moms and Grandma were out shopping, Grandpa took Molly and me to Leon's pizza in Webster City. Just the three of us hanging out, having fun.

3) I spent the summer of 98 in France. When I returned to Iowa, I told Grandpa and Grandma all about it. Grandpa was excited to learn that I went to Aix en Provence, which is where he was stationed for awhile during WWII. He kept calling it Aix in Providence, and no matter how many times I corrected him, he kept saying it like that. I just gave up because ultimately it didn't matter. After that, we had several really great talks about his experiences in France during the war and he gave me some really nice photos and memorabilia from his Army days. I have always treasured those things, and will even more so now.

2) Grandpa often said the prayer during our family gatherings, and one thing he always said was, "Thank you for this food. Let it nourish us and give us strength for your intended juice." Or something like that. I never quite understood what that was meant to say. Juice seemed like a weird word choice. But it was familiar and comforting along with his voice, and I'll miss hearing it.

Spazz Alert:
My pal, Sara, pointed out that I'm a bad listener. He was saying USE, not juice. I confirmed with my mom, who got a nice chuckle out of it. She said it's too bad Grandpa never knew that's how I heard it. He'd think it was pretty darned funny. So, Grandpa, if you have Internet access in heaven, go ahead and have your little laugh!

1) Grandpa started emailing about five or six years ago. He took to it surprisingly fast, and in fact was not fearful ENOUGH of the technology, leading to some issues over the years. Anyway, he sent any and all email forwards that crossed his inbox. Sometimes it would drive me crazy that he sent all those weird, wacky, nutty things. But now I won't see them anymore, and that makes me sad. I'll kind of miss rolling my eyes and saying, "Oh, geez, Grandpa."

I am so lucky and grateful that I had my grandpa in my life for 31 years. Not everyone is so lucky. So to my grandpa, I say goodbye, but I'll never forget these and a billion other little things that I got to share with you while you were in my life. I love you!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I feel like I'm growing. As a person, I mean.

So, last night I was out with a group of people who put on a storytelling festival in my town, and at the end, a lady asked if I was interested in meeting men. Now normally, my paranoia and fear tells me to be all like, "Well, you know. I guess. I'm single, yeah." Because I don't want to come off as all desperate or needy or like I want other people to do my dirty work of hunting down potentially eligible guys. I'm afraid of looking weak or stupid if I say anything.

But last night, I said, "Heck yeah. I'm new to town and am looking around for someone." Woohoo. I braved it. I risked looking pathetic.

Even if nothing comes of it, I still took the risk of admitting that I'd like not to be alone forever and ever and ever. And ever. Forever. I admitted I'm normal.

Golly, just look at me all grown up.