Thursday, October 27, 2016

OCD (Out of Character Disorder)

"Mom, you're like totally obsessed now."

I'm really not, or at least I don't feel like I am.

I don't know if my psychology degree is to blame, or the hours I spend thinking and analyzing everything from my kids' behavior to my own, but over the years I have become pretty self-aware.  I know all of my idiosyncrasies and the ways I can be overly sensitive, or predict the precise moment a specific event will tip my emotional scales from fairly balanced to someone-get-her-a-stiff-drink.

It's this awareness that helped me realize that I have a one-track mind when it comes to the things that I enjoy.  Obsessive-compulsive interests, if you will.

I've done this my whole life.  When I was in high school, Alanis Morrisette became very popular, and despite the fact that I couldn't identify with her angry lyrics, I was hooked.  I knew every word of every song.  I knew about the artist herself-- where she grew up, how she liked to style her hair (which I may have attempted myself a time or two) and spent the better part of a year wishing I'd been so lucky as to have a hit album rather than frizzy hair and thick glasses.

This happened in college with just about any Tom Hanks movie.  It happened a few years ago with the Hunger Games book series, despite the fact that I am, in fact, a grown-ass woman.  It happened when I rediscovered "Whose Line Is It Anyway" and was able to find every old episode that ever existed and spent a good two years memorizing most of them.  I even got to see a couple of the guys on their comedy tour and sat in the front row.

Apparently I'm a media superfan.  I'm super into the things that interest me.  I am not, to be clear, of the fan variety that mails locks of my hair to celebrities or pins their photos to my bathroom mirror.

Earlier this summer, after I exhausted myself re-watching the entire "White Collar" series for the fifth time, I saw a commercial advertising the next season of "The Voice", and it reminded me that I had never set my new DVR to record the upcoming episodes.  I have always liked singing competitions, and last winter I leisurely enjoyed watching Jordan Smith absolutely dominate all of the other artists, and was happy when he won handily.  I forgot all about the show and the season that aired last spring, so I thought it would be fun to start watching again.

And it has been.  The kids have gotten involved too, choosing their favorite contestants and campaigning for them to be chosen or stolen, and have begun asking about the coaches themselves.

"Who is Adam?  I mean, why is he famous?"

"He's the lead singer of a band called 'Maroon 5'.  You'd know a lot of their songs, I have them playing in the car."

"Who are Alicia and Miley?"

"They are singers, too.  All of the coaches are.  You might know a couple of Alicia's songs, and you've heard Miley's 'Wrecking Ball'."

I'm not particularly proud of that iTunes purchase.  We'll gloss over it, mmkay?

"Play something you have of Blake Shelton's, Mom."

No, nope.  I don't own any of his songs because I DON'T DO COUNTRY MUSIC.  Never have.  My disdain for country music has been as much a part of me as my name or the color of my eyes.  But with my two boys looking up at me without judgment for having watched the same seven episodes of "The Voice" on repeat for two weeks, I couldn't shut down their request.

"I don't really like country, but I'll find something on YouTube so you can hear what it is like."

And that's when my interest "disorder" took on a new and very weird twist... I started to like Blake's music.  I bought the song the boys liked the most and played in the car for them.  YouTube led me to others that I enjoyed and then later loved, and before I knew it, I'd purchased 19 of his not-so-twangy songs that have been on (you guessed it) nonstop loop.

I feel like a fish out of water.  If I like country music, then should I question all of the other things I believed about myself?  Tomorrow will I give up coffee and start homeschooling my kids?  Will I begin eating pickles and book a hot-air balloon ride?

"Mom, you're like totally obsessed now."

Maybe I am.  Maybe I'll be watching old seasons of "The Voice" for the next six months while wearing a cowboy hat and a plaid shirt.  And maybe there's just one more thing for me to do.

Just kidding.  Maybe if my hair looked like Alanis Morrisette's...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Big Wheel Keep On Turning

"Hello, Mrs. Foreman.  This is the principal at the elementary."

Uh oh.  Can anything good start with that?

Maybe if you're the mother of little girls with pink painted fingernails and pillowed reading corners, yes.  Maybe even if you're the mother of that variety of boy that prefers digging quietly in the dirt or chasing earthworms and dragonflies.  But I'm not.

I held the phone as I looked around my living room.  Shoes everywhere.  Sixteen legos strategically placed around the sofa, just waiting to be stepped on.  Bits and chunks of paper that I already know once read "fart poptart" before being ripped up before leaving for school in the morning.

No, a call from the principal only means trouble.

I tried to imagine the different ways this could play out.  

"We're afraid your son has vomited on six other children.  Wait... seven."
"Ma'am, your son de-pantsed a boy on the playground that disparaged the St. Louis Cardinals."
"Did you instruct your children to start a poker ring during recess?"

I definitely didn't expect what I heard next.

"I'm just calling to let you know that Graham was nominated by his teacher as our "Rockstar Student" of the week.  He was chosen for being kind to other students and always following directions.  As part of this, he got to visit with me, I tweet out his photos, and we make a phone call home so that you can chat with him.  Would that be okay?"

"Of course!"

I was surprised, but Graham must have been even more shocked, because as awkward as he is on the phone, his responses were even more stilted than I expected.

"Grammy, I'm so proud of you!"


"Are you excited? Your teacher chose YOU!"

"I guess."

"I love you!"


"And do you love me?"

"Uh huh."

"I've always thought you were outstanding, but it sounds like everyone else does, too.  Doesn't that make you feel good?"


"I'm still really proud of you!"

"Yeah.  Bye."

It's probably for the best that they weren't awarding eloquence yesterday.

Graham has always been my easiest, my gentlest.  But he is also a bit of a wallflower, and not one to stand out in group settings and preferring to be one of the crowd.  And while this distinction obviously made him a bit uncomfortable, I'm so glad he got to feel the heat of the spotlight for a bit.

Because when he gets home, he's still picking up those legos.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Book of Expletives

Apologies for the extended absence.  For the last week and a half I've been toggling between preparing for Cael's ninth birthday party with ten friends, recovering from said party, and most recently, shouting in anger at my various devices as they all unify to tell me that my camera's memory card has been somehow corrupted and ALL OF THE PHOTOS are irretrievable.

I'll share the details of the party eventually.  I'm just not ready to speak of this unfairness yet.

You can imagine how quickly I accepted when Joel suggested a mid-week date night to go see "Book of Mormon" at the University of Iowa's brand new auditorium.  I needed some time away, am never one to turn down a dinner out, and all I knew of the show was that it was funny.  I needed some funny, so it was a match made in heaven.

After dinner and a long walk from the recesses of the parking lot, we finally reached our seats in the nosebleed section (all we were able to snag on opening night).  We settled in and chatted with the stranger in the seat next to me whose quick analysis of the asymmetrical overhead lighting and its ability to "create balance in the space" told me that this was, in fact, one of those theater lovers, so I shifted toward Joel and avoided eye contact.  I'm much too introverted for snooty small talk on a Tuesday night.

Within a few minutes the show began, and from the very start it was entertaining.  The singing was great, the characters were very identifiable, but it is SO.  SO.  INAPPROPRIATE.

Ya'll, it's hilarious.  It's shocking.  It's going to send us all to hell for sure.

Since they don't allow photography during the show, I have no visual evidence to show you what went down, but I dug around on the internet to get some comparable examples.

Throughout the majority of the show, I looked like this:

Many of the older women in the audience looked like this:

And pompous theater guy next to me was clearly struggling between being offended and trying to maintain proper theater decorum.

See this photo?  There were about as many "F" bombs in this performance as there are grains of sand on that beach.

And after belly laughing at it a mere four days after our friendly neighborhood Mormons actually knocked on my own door, I'm quite confident I'll be spending eternity in a spooky Mormon hell dream of my own in about 45 years.

But the predominant feeling of the evening was complete discomfort at having to experience this show in close proximity to so many strangers.  It took me back to when I was in sixth grade, and shortly after my mom had died.  Two of my favorite former teachers offered to take me and my best friend to a movie as a kind gesture during a hard time.  The most popular movie in the theaters was "Forrest Gump", and I was thrilled to be seeing it with my friend on one side and my school teacher on the other.

That is, until Jenny took her bra off, and my face felt as hot as that fiery scene above.

Turns out, 22 years have passed and I am not beyond blushing like a fifth grader.

(Check out the opening scene of the show as performed at the Tony's a few years back... I promise it's safe.)

So in conclusion, if you can handle a round of Cards Against Humanity, you're probably tough enough, but if you're timid around vulgarity, steer clear.  Because it's hilarious.  It's shocking.   

And it's sending me to hell for sure.