25 September 2011

Nerds are the best kind of people

I’ve just returned from the Arizona Browncoats’ sixth annual Can’t Stop the Serenity event, and if that didn’t make any sense then you’ve probably never seen the cult classics Firefly (the TV show) or Serenity (the movie).  Obviously I recommend both.  And I bet you wouldn’t argue with me that Can’t Stop the Serenity is a nerdy event.

This event represents exactly why nerds are the best kind of people.  On every scale, it exemplifies the very best that people can be, and what they can do when they come together for a good cause.

To summarize in one sentence, Firefly was a space cowboy sci-fi show that waxed profound in its portrayal of a group of mercenaries struggling to survive a universe that failed to appreciate their particular brand of morality.  Firefly has a wealth of fantastic messages enmeshed in it, about ethics, righteousness, equality, the list goes on.  I mean to say that this nerdy space cowboy show in and of itself was a production promoting the best kind of people. 

But it was canned in the first season by Fox. 

Enter the browncoats, the cult followers of Firefly.  Like the characters they idolized, they banded together for a common cause: to give a final voice to their favorite show.  They actually scraped together the cash themselves to fund a full-length film chronicling their favorite crew, and out of that sprung Serenity.  How awesome is that?

And it gets better.  Now around the country, browncoats put on annual Can’t Stop the Serenity screenings of the movie, and all the proceeds go to benefit Equality Now and other organizations seeking the empowerment and equality of women worldwide.  It’s a charity the show’s creator, Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Dollhouse fame), feels very passionate about.  Six years in, these screenings have raised over half a million dollars for Equality Now.

So yeah, all of that is great and all – strong moral messages and philanthropy and whatnot, it’s real nice.  But would you also believe that nerds are the most courteous moviegoers I’ve ever had the pleasure to sit with?

I know!  This is at a dedicated cult-movie screening where you’d expect people to be all rowdy and annoying.  And still no one yelled over the dialogue, no one clapped out of turn, and when the important bits came around no one ruined the surprises for anyone who hadn’t seen the movie yet (yes, there were two of them in the crowd).  One cell phone did go off, but the girl instantly turned it off and looked absolutely mortified.

The husband and I have all but sworn off movie theaters after our last twenty our so experiences where we’ve been subjected to people having entire conversations throughout the movies we paid ten dollars a ticket to watch.  But these browncoats were fantastic and their conduct throughout the whole evening – in the theatre, during the speeches and fashion show and front-running show screenings, milling around the lobby, even in the bathroom – was exemplary.  It was amazing.

I’m totally going back next year.

23 September 2011

When the husband’s away…

Everyone has idiosyncrasies they choose not to display around other people.  Some of us do this because we’re prudish and self-conscious, and others of us do this because we don’t want to annoy the ever-loving piss out of our loved ones.  When my husband is out of town, my life changes in oh-so-many infinitesimal ways…

1. Loneliness is cleanliness.  Can you believe I’ve actually done the laundry every single week this month?  And the dishes?  And I’ve made my own meals for dinner?  You should see my house right now, it’s gorgeous.  It is absolutely miraculous what you can get done when you have no excuses like, “He totally put that there and he can damn well pick it up himself.”

2. Loneliness is craftiness.  I never would have scrounged up the sewing machine if the husband was around.  I’m making holiday costumes and learning to face-paint and cleaning things I’ve never cleaned before and mending things that really don’t need mending.  In husband-departures past, I’ve hauled out the acrylic paints or the earring-making supplies or the molding clay and gone to town.  Oh, and the husband was out of town for a couple weeks when I made the Stargate, too!  See?  I’m only ever creative when he’s gone.

3. The house turns bulimic.  With all the cleaning and all the crafting, the house pretty much waffles daily between being pristine and qualifying as a natural disaster area.

4. There’s this thing called ‘fruit’…  I’ve said we don’t eat in.  But as part of point one, I’ve been going to the actual grocery store and picking up actual fruits and vegetables and actually consuming them on a regular basis.  And the white nectarines in season right now are delicious.

5. Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.  Normally I’m not much of a drinker.  No, honest.  But when the husband is away and I don’t have my regular social drinking partner and wine-bottle-sharer, I go crazy.  On days when it normally wouldn’t cross my mind once, I’ve found myself staring down the beer in the fridge and wondering how long I’m going to hold out before I start drinking alone.  I could shank a baby right now for just one good glass of white wine.  I’ve finagled my way into two glasses of wine this week and I’m still dying.  I think this defines alcoholism.

6. Cereal = all-day staple.  Cereal is no longer just for dinner.  Breakfast, lunch, second lunch, dessert, midday snack, midnight pick-me-up… it’s so versatile!  Especially when I don’t want to leave the house.  Which leads me to…

7. Self-imposed exile.  I’m a natural-born hermit.  The husband makes me leave the house to walk around the university, or get food for dinner, or buy things, or socialize.  But now, I don’t have to do any of that!  I can sit in a single spot on my couch all night and no one will bother me!  (Friends of mine, don’t get any smart ideas about taking me out of this in a fit of pious pity.  I like it.)

8. Forget personal hygiene.  I still brush my teeth twice daily.  But it can be hard to get up the motivation to shower when no one with whom you interact is going to get within a few feet of you in a given day.  And makeup and hair maintenance and cute clothes are all straight out the window when the bed is calling for you to sleep in just a few minutes more…

9. Cadaver nails.  That’s husband’s name for my fingernails when they start growing out of control, he says they look like when people die and their nails keep growing (I’ve heard this before, but I’m not sure it’s true).  But I hate cutting my nails.  HATE.  It takes forever and then you have to file them and I never had this problem back when I used to bite them off.  So when husband’s gone, the claws come out.

And finally…

10. Absolutely NOTHING in moderation.  At least, with regard to media.  The husband can only watch things once or twice before he gets bored with them.  He hates listening to music on repeat.  Me?  If I don’t consume everything a song or a band or a show has to offer, if I haven’t yet worn it like a second skin, if I can’t repeat it back verbatim, then I feel I haven’t really experienced it yet.  And when husband is gone, there’s no one to limit my addictions.  So far I’ve watched both seasons of Modern Family straight through four times.  Four.  That’s forty-eight episodes, back-to-back, four times over.  And each night I find a new song to fall in love with and play it on repeat for hours – last night it was Silver Sun Pickups, tonight it’s Mark Martel’s “Somebody To Love” audition tape for Queen Extravaganza (and my God, does that man ever sound like Freddie Mercury!  Be still, my beating heart!), and so on.  It never ends.

Anyway, I’d keep going on this list but my cereal’s getting soggy and I have to reorganize the pictures on the piano and I just reached the episode where the whole family takes a trip to Maui, and I really like that one.  Peace out!

21 September 2011

Just like riding a bike!

I’ve taken up sewing again.  Well, effectively for the first time.  The other day I dragged my brand-new untouched sewing machine (gifted to me a few Christmases ago by my mother) from the highest recesses of our hall closet, because I finally found a use for it: making Día de los Muertos costumes for our stuffed animals.

Best not to ask, really.

Let me give you some background on me and sewing.  When I was young, my mom’s sewing machine was always set up in the family room and my sister and I dabbled in making crude stuffed animals and whatnot on it.  I own no evidence of this, but I’m confident I was once capable of threading the machine and sewing in a straight line, and even a curved line on some daring days.  But that was a long time ago.

So when I opened this box, I have to admit I was feeling a little trepidation.  It was a daunting beast of a machine, with a really big manual that had lots of diagrams.  (I’m exaggerating.  It was a big book because there were a lot of diagrams, three languages, and painfully exhaustive large-font instructions, such as “Disconnect the machine from the power supply by removing the plug from the main socket!” and “Never drop or insert any object into any opening.”)  Hesitantly I threaded the needle, pinned down my first test scrap, and pressed with ginger care on the foot pedal.

And it turns out, relearning to sew is just like relearning to ride a bike!

See, after I stopped riding my bike in high school I was nervous about getting back on it in college.  But by the end of my first week, I was still wobbly but I was getting the hang of it.  I was even confident enough to take one hand off the handlebar to wave a thank-you to a row of cars that had stopped so I could cross the street—

And my hand twisted and I flew headfirst over the handlebars and my backpack knocked straight into my head and I scraped both knees bloody and totally ruined my good new jeans.  Right in front of dozens of stopped cars full of laughing drivers.  Yep.  Grace personified, that’s me.

So when I say it’s just like riding a bike, I mean that I am comically inept at relearning to sew.  So far I’ve wasted half a spool of thread and a good dozen scraps of fabric and filled my house with more shouted cursing than even the foulest-mouthed sailor would admit to, and all I have to show for it are two disembodied doll-size jacket arms.  I’m just glad Dead Day isn’t for another month and a half.

03 September 2011

No green thumbs on these hands

I’m an awful plant owner. 

We have three plants living in our house: an orchid, a ficus, and I think an amaryllis.  I’m pretty sure if my poor plants could talk they would scream in fear every time my husband leaves and they get left in my care. 

The probable-amaryllis has the most to fear from me at the moment.  (I have a feeling my comment field’s going to ping with the correct answer to my flower ambiguity about five seconds after I post this.)  It was a gift from my mother a few years back, and after a half hour of internet searching I’ve seen lots of amaryllises (amaryllii?) with our same pot and I think I remember seeing that flower on the box when we got it. 

Who knows?  That’s not the point.  The point is it has not once flowered in our house and I finally decided to heed my sister’s advice and look up how to properly care for a bulb plant.

And of course the first thing I read was not to put it in a sealed pot, which is exactly the kind of pot it came in.  So one screwdriver and a good deal of effort later I’m left with a cracked pot bottom and a shower of soil all over my kitchen sink.  Good start.

Also, I think this thing gets watered by the husband about every three days.  That might be too much?  Is once a week better?  And how often would all these East Coasters and Midwesterners water a plant if they lived in a desert?  I keep reading all this “cool, dry place” business and let me tell you – cool is not happening.  Dry I can manage, no problem.  Ten percent humidity is an Arizona standard.  But cool? 

Like I might have mentioned once or twice on this blog and even in this post, I live in Arizona.  We don’t do basements or cellars.  We can’t even get cold tap water nine months out of the year.  If you want cold water out of the tap, you rig a strainer filled with ice up to the faucet.  (Desert rats take note – I got that tip from a Facebook friend and I’m paying it forward because it works-ish.)  Outside of my refrigerator the coolest any part of my house gets is about 78 degrees, this time of year.  That’s not even close to the 60-something I’m seeing on the web. 

(Do people still call it the web?  I feel like that’s some holdover from the 90’s all of a sudden, like “cyberspace” or “the Net” – although Sandra Bullock is holding up incredibly damn well, come to think of it.  Good on her.  Okay I’m rambling.)

Plus, some sites say to take the bulb out of the soil to make it go dormant and some say not to and some say to do it in summer and some in fall and some when the leaves start to turn yellow and some say to cut the leaves down to the bulb and others say leave two inches…  All I want is the industry standard, people!  Gosh!

It’s enough to drive a girl crazy.  The internet is not remotely helpful for advice.  It’s as bad as reading scientific literature, with everyone all defending their mole hills, except on the internet it’s a lot harder to sift out bullshit.

Can someone help me?  How does one get a flower out of an amaryllis (probably) bulb?

My poor plants.