Urban (mis)Advantures

Of Mice and a Woman — February 29, 2012

Of Mice and a Woman

This beautiful moment is brought to you by rodents.

Yesterday morning, as I gathered my things in my giant pink bag, ready to head to work, I heard the little unnerving noise that stops me in my tracks.
Squeak.  Squeak. 
Maybe it’s some birds outside.  After all, the weather has been insanely mild this winter and the birdies are out flying around.  I dismiss it at first because I need to get out the door. 
Squeak.  Squeak. 
No, it is not coming from outside.  I turn with widened eyes towards the electrical box in our large kitchen.  I swiftly pull the door open.
Not one, but two tiny mice are stuck in the glue trap.  One is not moving, and the other freezes, staring at me with its round black eye. 
I close the door and walk away. 
It is not that I am overly afraid of mice or rats.  It is just the notion that they are inside my walls.  Since I have not handled the glue traps before, I called the Mister to ask what to do.
“If you don’t mind, take the trap outside,” he said. I agreed to.  “It’s too bad we no longer have Oli, our hunter.” 
Yes, it is awful that he is no longer with us, our master mouse catcher.  I began missing him horribly.  So I took the oath to dispose of the vermin. 
I opened the electrical box once more, peering down at the two mice whose bodies were no bigger than my thumb.  I had one of those “aaaawwwwww” moments and stared at them with pity.  They were quite cute and so little and helpless.  I felt dreadful about sending them outside to a death by starvation or by consumption of a predator. 
But then I remember why I don’t like rodents.  They crawl into my walls.  They chew things.  They poop in my walls.  They mate in my walls.  Then their babies are in the walls, chewing and pooping and mating.
Sorry little guys, out you go.

Why Do I Watch the Oscars? — February 27, 2012

Why Do I Watch the Oscars?

Every year I put the TV on to the Oscars.  In the recent years, I aske myself repeatedly, why do I watch them?  Like almost every Oscar event, I haven’t seen any of the movies nominated, and never heard of some.  Because I was outvoted during the family Christmas movie tradition, I missed out on Hugo.  Great actors get nominated for roles that are secondary to earlier performances, such as Brad Pitt. To me, playing a serial killer (Kalifornia) or a bare-fisted boxing pikey (Snatch), well outweighs playing in a baseball movie. Oh well.

There is two particular awards that I usually disagree with.  One being Sound Editing/Mixing.  All three Transformers movies have alien robots changing into cars, explosions, and gunfire, and were nomiated.  Yet they all lost to someone else.  This year, Transformers 3 was defeated by a movie that appears to deserve it, Hugo.
But I mostly disagree with the Achievement in Make-Up Award.  Yes, it is impressive that artists turned Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher.  But this category is where fantasy and horror films should dominate.  Aging someone and giving them a gap in their teeth does not compare to transforming someone into a wrinkled, pointy eared goblin.  Or into a snake-faced warlock.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows definitely deserved the Achievement in Make-up.  As do the artists that bring us hordes of rotting, walking dead when Romero and other horror masters grace us with zombie movies.  Oscar, why are you hating on the undead?

And Angelina Jolie…..standing with her leg jutted out of her awesome dress, as if to rub in our faces that she is a beauty goddess.  Really?  I did like that the award winner made fun of her.

So why do I watch bits and pieces of the Oscars?  Maybe because everyone else does and I want to talk about it with others the following day?  Meh….
Oh yeah, this guy:

Billy Crystal

He has not gone wrong when hosting.

With this year’s movie line up full of mostly remakes and sequels, we’ll see how Oscars go.

I *heart* Darth Maul — February 26, 2012

I *heart* Darth Maul

*Spoiler Alert! I talk about Darth Maul’s fate towards the end!  So be warned, any young kiddos or anyone else that has not seen the movie!*

Okay.  So he’s covered in tattoos.  But so is international superstar athlete, David Beckham.  Rrrrrrrrrrr.  Yeah, this Sith Lord spends a good chunk of time cloaked in black.  It’s one of my favorite colors.  Creepy horns sprout from his crown.  And his eyes are like a demon whacked out on meth.  Yet, he is waaaaaaaayyy better than Count Dorko.

Darth Maul is the best thing going for Star Wars, the Phantom Menace.  He gave us a glimpse that the Sith are more than wrinkled, demented men and asthmatic cyborgs.  Masterfully portrayed by martial arts expert, Ray Park, Darth Maul skillfully jumped, kicked, and flipped his way around Tatooine and Naboo.  And he had the most excellent light saber of the saga.  When seeing the first Phantom preview at the movies, the entire audience voiced their awe when Maul stepped into defense mode and ignited not one, but two glowing blades from his saber.  He whirled them with the ease throughout the fight scene that would earn an MTV Movie Award.  When seeing the light saber in action in 3-D, I’m pretty sure I ducked at least once.

Pssst.  Spoiler.  While the rest of the audience cheered when Obi Wan sliced Darth Marl in half, I exclaimed: “What?!  Nooooooo!”  and clapped only half heartedly just to fit into the crowd.  Then I frowned and crossed my arms tightly.  That’s almost always the way; my favorite character usually bites it in movies.  Yet Maul’s death served greater purposes.  It proved, first of all, that you don’t mess with Obi Wan Kenobi.  Defeating the first Sith discovered in a “millenia” greatly helped Obi Wan shed his Padawan learner braid and paved his way to becoming a Jedi Master.  It launched Obi Wan’s reputation that catapulted him to the rank of General Kenobi in the Clone Wars.

And most importantly, Maul’s demise left an opening for a “stronger and more powerful” apprentice to Darth Sidious.

Darth Maul deserves his post as the prominent figure in the Phantom Menace poster.  Amidst peaceful Zen-like Jedis, a clumsy Gungan, and an oddly dressed queen with apparently no personality, he brings much needed balance and kick-ass to the movie.

The Best Thing About a Kid’s Sleepover… — February 25, 2012

The Best Thing About a Kid’s Sleepover…

Another Beautiful Moment brought to you by the kiddos.

My son had a small sleepover last night, although two of the kids did not sleep.  Just how many video games can one play before the brain is mush?  Anywho, I appreciate one huge thing about sleepovers:

The house is clean.

There were no dishes on the counter tops when I came home.  The bathroom shined.  Nobody’s jacket lay strewn over the couch.  The floor was nicely vacuumed.  The Boy’s bed sheets lay straight and crisp on the mattress.  The Star Wars figurines now stand at attention in the Darth Vader holder, instead of scattered about like corpses in a mini war zone.  Although a few of his favorite characters line the windowsill.  I almost did not recognize his room when I first came home from work.

Yes, the living area is a mess of blankets, game controllers, and overgrown teen-aged boys.  The air mattress takes up most of the room, and I’m sure the TV is about to scream “Enough with the Modern Warfare game!”  And the half-gallon of orange juice was inhaled at breakfast.  But I was motivated this morning to wash the few dinner dishes before starting the pancakes, sausage, and bacon.

I am positive this “motivation” to keep the house spotless is quite temporary.

Will You Teach Me to Listen? — February 20, 2012

Will You Teach Me to Listen?

This beautiful moment is brought to you by small children, who give us many beautiful moments.

While completing my duty of grocery shopping yesterday, a young father and I played chicken in the crammed soda aisles.  I shuffled to the middle between a couple of water or snack stands to let him pass.  In his cart sat a little boy about the age of four or five.  Both of us went about looking for the grocery store brand soda.  Then I heard a question I’ve never heard a child ask.

“Will you teach me to listen?”

“Will I teach you to listen?” the father repeated with a grin playing on his lips.  “Teaching you to listen is going to be harder than I ever thought.”

I clamped my jaws down hard around my mango peach gum to keep from bursting into laughter.  I left the aisles to avoid interjecting in such a sweet and unforgettable moment between a child and parent.

Will you teach me to listen?  Let’s start with the first beautiful aspect of this moment.  This child voiced that he wants to listen to his parents.  He indicated that he would like to  improve his listening skills, to better himself.  Is this child human?  Anyway, this wee boy has realized either through an epiphany or through adults in his life nagging him to follow directions or clean out his ears, that he needs to work on listening.  And who do small children turn to first for guidance?  Their parents.

Secondly, it is hard to teach a child to listen because many adults don’t know how to do it either.  When a little one rambles on about something adults don’t care about, they see nods and hear “uh huuuuhh,” as the adult barely makes eye contact and goes about their business.  Therefore, a child learns that.  When a little one stumbles over his words, loses his train of thoughts, or repeats himself while his inexperienced, yet developing, brain tries to connect his thoughts to verbal words, adults tend to get impatient.   Half of the time, adults don’t listen to their own spouses.  If you don’t believe me, just ask your husband to repeat the last thing you said to him.

And our children are watching and learning these listening skills.

Listening to someone is much more than waiting your turn to speak.  Listening to others is one way we download information into our brains.  It is taking not only spoken words, but also body language and facial expressions into account.  It is being with someone in a moment that may or may not ever happen again.

Can we always give good eye contact or respond to everyone every time something is said to us?  No.  But when we can, it is important to do so and teach the younger generation true listening skills.

Beautiful Blue Collared Men — February 17, 2012

Beautiful Blue Collared Men

I work on the fifth level of a six-floor mill building.  The roof is getting repaired directly above the office.  When something hits the floor, I hear it in my ceiling.  When the workers roll the 1,000 pound roofing rubber, it sounds like a train rolling above me.  We can hear the beep beep beep of the fork lifts as they back up.  We all wonder when something will crash through our ceiling.

Today, I stepped inside the first floor hallway by the elevator, finding three people waiting ahead of me for the elevator.  One looked to be a case worker from Department of Youth Services of the 4th, and two construction workers.  One was young, tall, and slim, sipping on the remnants of his soda from McDonald’s. The other was older, with a great moustache and a bit shorter.  Both dressed in sturdy denim and thick work boots, with the younger man donning a knit cap over longer wisps of dark hair.  Both have “working man hands” lined with black under the nails and rough skin.  Both have dark skin…or perhaps both were grubby from hard work with roofing tiles and rubber, in a 100-year old dusty mill.  When the elevator door finally slides open, they both motion for me to go in first.

I lightly ask “how is it going up there” since my office is just below where they are re-roofing.  They both smile and nod.  The older man sweetly apologizes and chats about how good the weather has been to work on a roof.  Says they should be on the other side of the building by next week.  I wish them a good day as the elevator stops on the fifth floor.

Construction workers are normally negatively stereotyped, and when they toil away on the roads, we often grumble because it interferes with our commutes.  But let’s face it.  They labor away for many hours a day.  It’s needed work.  It’s work that most of us cannot do.

Beautiful Baby…. — February 16, 2012

Beautiful Baby….

This beautiful moment is brought to you by a three week old baby boy and his mother, my supervisor, who brought him to a meeting for all to swoon over. 

Yesterday’s clinician team meeting focused on a couple of things, including admiring a new born baby.  I was the first to hold the little bundle of joy, who wasn’t quite comfortable in my skinny arms until I rested him against my shoulder.  There is something amazingly soothing about holding a baby, at least when he’s calm.  I guess the soft skin and wiggling, warm little body bring out the more gentle, nurturing side of women.  A baby helps put me at ease, because they can sense when their caregivers are tense, therefore making the ones who hold them calm down.   

This mini-man was adorable with blue eyes and a patch of red hair spiking up on his round head.  For only being three weeks old, he was alarmingly alert and already holding his head up off my shoulder.  He was a vocal little one, grunting and squealing a few times.   It was so refreshing to take a few moments and just smile and coo over a new life.   It was funny watching the difference between the mothers holding the baby and the women who were not mothers.  We seasoned mothers held him firm, with confidence, and patted his back and diapered bum with a bit more *oomph.*  Those that did not have their own babies held him with uncertainty, and one was nervous about walking across the room with him.  The young man who came to look at the baby, stayed on the other side of the room from him.  We won’t get started on that….