Archive for October, 2007


in honor of Halloween — scary movie entry!

Last weekend my brother-in-law Jeff asked me what the scariest movie I’ve ever seen was.  I didn’t answer him at the time for the simple reason that I have seen so many.

 However, I’m still waiting to be scared.

I’m not just trying to be difficult, I swear! 

When I watch a movie –any movie — I’m rarely sucked in beyond watching actors act.  Whether the actor is sitting around depressed or running away from a ghost, I see an actor acting.  It’s a set, it’s fake blood, it’s conjured emotion.  There are dozens of people right off-camera waiting to powder noses.  I hold tight to my disbelief to protect myself from the boogie man, but also to keep a leg up and, in a way, be smarter than the movie. 

Having said that, here’s a short list of scary movies that I think are well done and actually held my attention:

The Silence of the Lambs

Blair Witch Projectblair-thumb.jpg

28 Days Later

The Exorcist

The Shining

The Sixth Sense

None of these compare to the first scene in an 1979 movie called When a Stranger Calls.  I haven’t seen the entire movie, just the first scene.  It’s not a celebrated horror movie and I’ve only seen it once.  Basically, a girl is babysitting and getting creepy phone calls.  I babysat approximately two times in my entire life (thankfully), but I can still remember how scared I was watching the girl answer those calls and the silence between the ringing. 

Now I’ll answer your question Jeff!  The best scary movie that I’ve ever seen is probably The Blair Witch Project, but the scariest scene is from When a Stranger Calls.

Leave a comment on what your favorite scary movie is — or a stranger may call!


urges to buy strange objects

I lost a finger nail when I was a kid.

My middle finger was crushed under my skateboard.  It’s a very clear memory for me, mostly because it hurt so much, but also because I swore to my parents that my nail was going to come off.  They didn’t believe me.  Imagine my splendor when a few days later my finger nail finally jiggled loose in a shallow bowl of warm salt water.  I was right!  They were wrong!  What else could mean so much to a five year old?! 

My two front teeth were knocked out while I was riding my bike.  I usually had scrapes and bruises on my knees.  There was no way that I was going to hang out with the little girls at recess when there was a kickball game going on with the boys.  Not only could I play with the boys, I could actually beat some of them. 

Being a tomboy was an integral part of my self-comprehension growing up.  I knew that Jesus loved me and I knew that I could throw a ball and win running races.  Felt boards confused me though, especially when Jesus and the disciples were plopped up there with no background or context.  Shotty Sunday School teaching is a whole other entry.


If nothing else, being a tomboy has prepared me to have a lot of fun with my little nephew, Ewan.  He’s my sister Jodie’s oldest and he’s currently four years old.  It’s almost like I know his mind because it was my mind 23 years ago.  Sometimes I still have urges to buy strange objects, such as a four year old boy would buy, like fake Dracula teeth.  No joke.  I almost spent $7 on fake teeth a few weeks ago…with no reason to wear them.  As I stood in the store with them in my hands, the thought of wearing them in my apartment, alone, was the only deterrent.  Ewan would have loved them. 


Now that I’m in my late 20s I don’t buy such things.  I buy clothes, milk, batteries, and other practical objects.  But that doesn’t mean that my pupils don’t dilate a bit when they fall upon finger-puppet monsters, NERF footballs and cap guns.  I would have given up a fingernail to have the money to buy those things back in 1984. 

The video below is Ewan and I wandering through a corn-maze this past weekend.  It ends with him yelling, “Run for your life!” which I didn’t know he was going to say until it exploded out of his mouth.  He truly makes me laugh and when I’m with him I forget about my worries, even if it’s just for a scary corn-maze stroll. 


thoughts linger like jelly fish at 3:30am

I was in an arranged marriage.

 Last night I had a dream where I was in an arranged marriage to an African man named Joseph.  Though I knew him, I didn’t love him…I didn’t even like him per se.  I found out who my husband was going to be by opening up a little piece of paper.  I wanted to get out of the engagement, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Hurt his feelings?

I shouldn’t have cared so much.  You would think that my lifelong happiness would have taken precedence over hurting his feelings. 

Oh well.  T’was a dream.  I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I woke up.

I wish that I could have dreamt about something last Saturday night.  I was staying at my mother’s house in Dalton, MA, in a guest bedroom.  The Red Sox game was in extra innings, so I turned in late anyhow, but I could not fall asleep for the life of me. 


Blankets on.  Blankets off.  Window open, then closed.  Thinking about my job, thinking about my relationships, thinking about how the blankets were bunching and taking up more room than I was.  Getting annoyed at blankets is such a one-way relationship.  They simply give the silent treatment and lay there like slugs.  What was going on?


Let’s consult my primary care doctor, Dr. WebMD.

Primary insomnia: when a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.  Acute insomnia can last from one night to a few weeks.

It looks like I had acute primary insomnia.  Basically, I couldn’t sleep for one night.

The only other time this happened to me was back in February 2007 when I was in Tampa, FL for a business meeting.  I was sleeping in a room with a middle aged woman, a stranger, who happened to work for the same company I did.  We were certainly cordial, and she did nothing wrong.  However, I laid awake for hours in that hotel room.  Hours. By the next morning I had landed about 2 hours of solid sleep.  I didn’t tell anyone at the time, lest they suspect that I was crazy.  I’m certain that my roommate didn’t want to think about me over in the other bed, lying with my eyes open, thinking about my breathing pattern.  It probably would have made her a tad uncomfortable?


But I was totally alone this past Saturday when I couldn’t sleep.  Well, counting the uncooperative mute blankets, there were two of us.  At 3am the heat in the house came on.  I was groggily wandering around inside the bedroom, resisting the temptation to rip off my pajamas and lay on the floor where it would be cooler. 

It’s funny how my brain was working around 3:30am, having been awake since 7am the day before.  Some thoughts were passing through like bullets (Who was that girl on my JV volleyball team that couldn’t jump well?), but other thoughts lingered like jelly fish without a current to ride (do I really want to stay in HR for my career?)  Wrestling with my life’s biggest issues while 65% asleep in a guest bedroom isn’t very effective. 

Maybe I needed Joseph, my African arranged-marriage husband to help me think things out?

We’ll see if he shows up again tonight.  God has spoken in stranger ways.



home was where the sox was

My family had cats growing up.  Well, I should say that we had cat growing up.  Never more than one at the same time.

We inherited our first, Peevah, when we bought our house in Amesbury, Massachusettes.  She was usually cranky.  Peevah would hide from my sisters and I any chance she found.  In closets, under beds, in bushes and in the back of drawers, we usually found her in a curled black sleeping ball.  My beady eyes were trained to find that little fuzzy ball and I would pet her when she was clearly annoyed.  She probably wasn’t the best cat for young kids, but she’s the one God plopped on our back porch, meowing to come inside.  We let her in.

 Our next cat, we seduced.  In Peekskill, Sox was the neighborhood rascal.  She’d slink between yards, a tabby nomad.  My sisters and I would tempt Sox with nuggets of food.  She came often until finally, on a fateful and wonderful night, our father let her sleep inside.  My sisters and I had triumphed in our cat-seduction.   

I’m ashamed to tell you how we found out her name.

I was an upperclassman in high school at the time.  We found out where Sox originated from and discovered that a girl who lived here went to our high school.  She was a freshman.  I approached her on the sidewalk one sunny afternoon.

Me:  Do you have a cat?

Poor girl:  Yes.  We have three. (taken aback)

Me:  What are their names?

Poor girl:  (some meaningless cat names)

Me:  Um…are any of them tiger cats?

Poor girl:  Sox is a tiger cat… (curious as to why I was asking)

Me:  OK!  That’s all!  Thanks! (walked away, knowing that we stole her cat)


Although our tactics while seducing Sox may not have been all that upright, we still loved her like crazy.  She lived with my family through a lot of changes.  She was there the day my father died, there the Christmas following his death, and she was a constant little companion for my mother while she was a widow.  Far more friendly than Peevah, Sox would greet and snuggle with guests in our home and play whenever I wanted to play with her.  I’m not afraid to say it, she was my little cat friend! 

I drove with Sox down to Maryland when my mother re-married Ron.  It was her big move.  Leaving that cat in an unfamiliar house in Silver Spring, where another cat (Ron’s cat ‘Magic’) already ruled the roost, was unquestionably hard for me.  When I left Ron’s house to return to Peekskill, Sox was hiding in a back bedroom.  She was a shell of the cat she was the day before.  I’m not afraid to say it, but I cried.  Home was where the Sox was.

I was leaving more than a cat behind in Maryland.  Having Sox living with me in Peekskill that last summer is part of what kept me grounded in the house I lived in since second grade.  It was where my father lived and died.  It was where mom made Norwegian pancakes on Sunday nights and where I would sit in my childhood bedroom, whittling soap.  Yes, whittling soap.  I was very bad at it.  (I suppose 3-D soap sculpture isn’t for everyone, though I made decent fish-shaped thing once.) 

Sox was apart of that world, and a fun part.  Uprooting and moving her to Maryland was as metaphorical as it could be.

Someday, I’m going to seduce me another cat!  And you’d better bet that I’m going to aim for a tabby with little white feet.


“this (enter fish name here) is nice and flaky”

The worst part of walking through any supermarket is the smell by the fish counter.  Well, paying is pretty bad, but the fish counter is worse.


Even if you like fish, you know what I’m talking about.  And even if your supermarket is sanitary, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s just the way fish smell.  

I’m working towards liking fish. 

The smell at the supermarket does fish no favors, so I avoid that section when I’m alone.  If I’m eating fish it’s because I’m at someone elses’ home and don’t want to be rude.  When in fact my little eyes are scanning the table to see if there may be enough side dishes to fill me up, if not, some sort of chicken alternative? 


I’ve long suspected that liking fish was a sign of a mature palate. After all, most of the fish-eaters that I know are intelligent and healthy.  They spritz lemon juice, never dredge through tartar sauce (which was always my way of making fish edible).  They sip white wine and say things like, “This (enter fish name here) is nice and flaky.” 


Meat can be flaky?


Is fish considered meat in the first place?  If not, if the food-powers-that-be would let me create a new classification just for fish, I’d have a better attitude about the word “flaky” being a positive thing. 

If I were a fish, I would like to be a zebra lionfish!  That way I’d have poisonous dorsal fin spines. Where else could a zebra and lion live in such harmony?  Plus, with a huge mouth that works like a vacuum cleaner, the zebra lionfish gobbles up small fish, crabs and shrimp almost as big as itself.   It can eat a lot. The zebra lionfish can eat up to ten animals in one night.  What’s not to love?


I want to re-iterate that I am trying to like the taste of fish.  If I ever eat at your home and you’re serving fish, I WILL eat it, so please don’t change the menu.  I’ll simply use my vacuum cleaner mouth.