Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Get That A Lot

A couple weeks ago, I watched a semi-lame TV show called I Get That A Lot, where celebrities pretend to be working folk and try to fake out unknowing customers. Chef Rachel Ray cooked up a great performance as a nondescript dry cleaner. Rock star Gene Simmons psyched out everyone as a guru in a crystal shop. Self-made celebrity Paris Hilton struggled to be a humble gas station attendant, and hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg convinced everyone that he was a low-income parking-lot attendant. Every time a customer would tell them how much they looked like the celebrities that they actually are, the celebrity would give the “I get that a lot” response and continue the charade.

While the show is not going to land in my top-ten, I did allow a self-indulgent blog entry to bloom out of it because of the many times I have been told I look like someone I’m not.

It started when I was a young teen at the beach. An older lifeguard told me once that I reminded him of Sally Field in the 1965 sitcom Gidget. Since I only knew Sally Field from TV's The Flying Nun, I had a hard time making the connection until a few years later when I saw a Gidget rerun.

Then came the Valerie Bertinelli phase, whom I know is much prettier than me, so whenever people would compare me to her I would joke that perhaps I could pass as her homely younger sister. Although now that we are older and more…let’s say…distinguished, I can see a closer resemblance. Perhaps when we're in our 80's, no one will know who the real Valerie is...


One incident that still cracks me up happened in the mid-nineties when I was rushing to get to a bathroom in the San Francisco airport. Two women were shuffling behind me, whispering loudly to each other. “Just ask her,” one of them said, while I sat there, perplexed. “You ask her,” the other said. I had another flight to catch, so I hurried out of the stall, lugging my carry-on, and washed my hands. That’s when I was confronted with the big question: “Aren’t you Jennifer Jason Leigh?”

“Who?” I replied. They looked at each other and sort of giggled.

“The girl from Delores Claiborne.”

I immediately pictured Kathy Bates as I glanced at my travel-worn face in the mirror.

“You don’t mean Kathy Bates, right?” I tried to clarify.

“No,” one of them said. “You look exactly like the other whacked out girl in that movie.”

“Oh great,” I said. “Sorry.” We parted awkwardly and I barely made my connecting flight.

But it doesn’t end there. When I became a teacher in 1995, I had to put up with comparisons to Xena (ya-ya-ya!) Warrior Princess...

Spidey’s main squeeze, Kirsten Dunst (I wish)...

really out-there Icelandic singer, Bjork...

and yes, rock star, Axel Rose...

And for a few months in 2008, it was rogue politician Sarah Palin.

My personal favorite comparison, however, came from my sweet little boy Noah when he was about four years old. He had been watching the DVD Mighty Joe Young, starring (ready for this?) Charlize Theron.

“Mommy!” he came storming into my bedroom. “The lady in the gorilla movie looks just like you!” Then he took a closer look at me and added, “Except she has a perfect face.”

Finally, to end this blog on a non-self-absorbed note, here are two family members who also have uncanny likenesses. My pretty cousin Cheryl and her counterpoint, Eva Longoria...

And lastly, my now nineteen year-old son Ryan and the ever-so-cute Anakin Skywalker...

"Hey, aren't you that Anakin guy?" He gets that a lot!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mc Sweeney's Loss

McSweeney's offers a place to submit "open letters to people or entities who are unlikely to respond." So I took a shot and submitted the following letter to them. They sweetly rejected it, but I still think it's kind of funny...

An Open Letter to My Genes

Dear Genes,

In spite of inheriting my mother’s left-handedness in a predominately right-handed world, I have managed to adapt with only a modicum of grief and frustration over the years, primarily in school where I had to twist a full forty-five degrees in my desk to write properly. And while all the righties were gluing their perfectly cut sunflowers, I was stuck in my angular position, manhandling those diabolical right-handed scissors in my left hand, which didn’t cut, but rather perforated my sweat-soaked construction paper.

I even accepted the dyslexic gene you allowed to sneak in from my dad’s pool because, while it has been a challenge at times when I have needed to decipher a map or put my ATM card in the right way, I have learned to resource my dyslexia to my advantage. Mirror writing, for example, is a by-product of this genetic quirk and has proven itself a great icebreaker in tense social settings, like attending an awkward Thanksgiving dinner with skeptical pre-in-laws or standing in a long post office line behind my gynecologist.

And the right eye being less hazel than the left is okay, too.

But when Mr. Lung, my redheaded biology teacher, brought it to my attention that I could not curl my tongue while the majority of the world can, I began to hold a grudge. All my tenth grade classmates showed off their tongue-curling skills, including some that could fashion three-leaf clovers and other impressive shapes, but I just sat there with this lifeless blob in my mouth. I even went home, locked myself in the bathroom, and in front of the mirror tried my darnedest, ultimately using my fingers, to unsuccessfully mold and shape my lingual member into a cylindrical tube. The best I could come up with was a ladle of sorts—more like a waterlogged wooden spoon.

Genes, why couldn’t you have given me something more desirable, like my dad’s chin dimple or his widow’s peak? Or even better, why not my mom’s impressive C-cup?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spindless Moonerisms=Mindless Spoonerisms

The other night, Jay Leno conducted his weekly Jaywalking segment, where he ventures onto the streets of LA, showing pictures of famous people to random passersby. I was surprised that none of them could identify Libyan Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Some saw pictures of Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, who was mistaken for American Idol reject/phenom William Hung.

And former vice president Dick Cheney was coined by one jaywalker as Dick Tracy.

But the one that finally got me laughing out loud was the smartest girl of the night who knew the picture of Mr. Cheney, but called him Chick Deney. A classic Spoonerism.

As a chronic dyslexic—or dronic chyslexic, I have dished out my fair share of spilarious Hoonerisms...especially in the classroom...with my students’ names. Students such as Sharon Wu became Waron Shu. Patrick Matthews—Matrick Patthews. And this year there’s Shane Witsell, which I refuse to put down in writing (go ahead…figure it out…I’ll wait).

Sometimes after a really bad one, I’ll bust out my favorite rendition of Cinderella—a la Spooner—called Rindercella.

Once uton a pime there lived a geautiful birl named Rindercella, who lived with her mugly step-other and her two sad bisters. When she went to the bancy fall, she pranced with a dansom hince, but when the sock clucked nidmight, she had to heave in a lurry and slopped her dripper on her way to the corse and harriage…etc, etc…

This usually gets everyone rolling on the floor laughing—or lolling on the roor flaughing, which makes it difficult to continue my lesson on sarts of peech—parts of speech: vouns, nerbs, and joncunctions!

One day, if I’m ever in Couthern Salifornia, walking down Bilshire Woulevard, I hope to bump into Lay Jeno. Maybe he’ll show me some pictures, and I’ll know them all because I’m bruch a sainiac: Boe Jiden, Parah Salin, [K]ill Blinton. Pro noblem!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An Epiphany on Epiphany

So I saw this bumper sticker on a car that said, “Mean People Suck!”

I nodded with my blinker on.
And on this January the sixth, this day of Epiphany,
When umpteen wise men went home a different way,
So too did I.
(it doesn’t say anywhere there were only three of them)
But they were wise,
And Jewel was on
A composite Christmas CD from Jerry
My Virginian brother-in-law,
And she sang about how
In the end, only
Kindness matters.
(and I haven’t listened to Jewel in such a long time).

And it’s my mom’s birthday today.
She would have been 88,
My favorite number.
She (and all who knew her) would have agreed with Jewel
That in the end
Only kindness mattered.

So I bought a mess of Chinese take-out
Because it’s my mom’s birthday
And she loved Chinese food.
Lamb stew with bean curd
Beef broccoli with crispy noodle
Bitter melon with pork
Fried rice
Cold ginger chicken with a sauce that sings.

And the lady who has owned Pauoa Chop Suey
Since forever
Made me smile my forty dollars away
Because as always, she was kind
(she gives lollipops while we wait).

And in the end
It’s very true
That only kindness matters.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tomorrow's Sweet Sorrow

In exactly twelve hours, I’ll be back in the middle-school saddle again. The bell to begin homeroom will spin me back into a teacher at exactly 7:35 in the (holy cannoli, that’s early) morning. I love my job…I really do. It’s just hard to kiss goodbye some of the frivolous luxuries that I so indulge myself in during the Christmas break. Sleeping-in is painfully the first to go, which means it’s adios to my post-midnight writing antics. Solo sessions at the piano are out the window. Hasta la vista to surfing, too—both web and otherwise. Facebook forays, shopping shenanigans, and mindless meanderings—adieu.

But the most painful departure, the one that always leaves me all balled up inside, is the shelving of my knitting needles. Over the past two weeks, I have finished and sent off Joe Llama to author (and friend), Claire Davis.

Joe Llama

Joe would have been sent off months ago, but after he lost a rhinestone eyeball, I had to go on a fruitless mission to find a perfect match. Ultimately, I did an eyeball transplant from Comma, my second llama, who, God bless him, had already lost an ear in the molten felting process.

(Comma the Llama II)

Next, I tackled the Dolly Llama—a gift for Alina, my favorite two-year old in So Cal. To my pleasant surprise, Dolly came out much hairier than my other critters, probably the result of three-stranding with Peruvian wool, mohair, and cashmere.

Yes, Dolly’s an expensive girl!

(The Dolly Llama)

She would be soaring across the Pacific right now if I didn’t run into yet another llama crisis two days ago, when I trekked over to Ala Moana Shopping Center in hot pursuit of a heart beater from the Build-a-Bear shop. I began adding these when I discovered them this summer at the Downtown Disney shop for a doable five dollars.

Taxi the LuckyAlpaca, whose owner is New York author (and friend), John Gorman, has a heartbeat, as does Claire’s Joe Llama.

(Taxi the Lucky Alpaca)

Much to my horror, the Build-a-Bear shop has been replaced by some unnecessary skateboarding shop, which now leaves the Dolly Llama heartless. Fortunately, I discovered the online Build-a-Bear shop sells these five-dollar coronary treasures, but the shipping of course is going to ramp up the price tag yet another notch. I’ve decided to purchase a dozen of them…for the llamas and alpacas of the future.

While waiting for the hearts to be medivacked from a warehouse in St. Louis, Missouri, I have begun shaping up a new alpaca in aqua for my cousin Jan, an artist in Gaston, Oregon. So far, Aqualicious only has a bulbous booty to show for herself, and with school resuming tomorrow, she may be stuck this way until spring break.

(Aqualicious' rear end)

Now the ultimate apex of my fourteen-day respite took place tonight, when Noah, my bold and daring knitter of a son (or son of a knitter), begged me to teach him how to knit up a hand puppet.

He persisted, even after I explained to him that it would require using not the usual two needles, but rather four, double-pointed bad boys all at the same time. “No problem,” he stated. “I can do it.”

So I took a breather from this bittersweet blogging effort, gathered up the needed materials, and hunkered down with him in my room to show him the ropes. It’s been over a year since Noah brandished a pair of knitting needles, but he secured his slipknot and proceeded to cast-on thirty-four stitches. I showed him how to divvy up the stitches onto the three needles and helped him to join it together and start the six rows of knit-1, purl-1 circular ribbing. It’s no easy task to wrangle four needles at once, but Noah proved himself 100% capable. I started one of these puppets myself as a model, but he doesn’t seem to need much guidance at this point. He went to bed at 10 (an hour past his bedtime), after completing eight rows of circular knitting!

So here I am, back at the laptop at 11:20. The homeroom bell’s gonna blow in eight hours, but I’m bound and determined to finish this blog as a swansong of my glorious, but much too brief, holiday reprieve.

Goodnight, goodnight, my precious notions and yarns, parting (until spring) is such sweet sorrow.