Thursday, May 29, 2008

Psyche development via material possessions

I am one of those women who are more comfortable at a table full of guys than a table full of girls. (I currently work in a profession that's 80% women ... go figure.) On the playground I played dodgeball and soccer just as much as I played hopscotch and jump rope. In high school my best friends were guys. I wonder how much of that had its roots in the toys my parents surrounded me with.

My mom bought me the typical girly toys: dolls and kitchen gear. I had Barbies, stuffed dolls, dolls that peed when you fed them, dolls that closed their eyes when you laid them down, dolls that had different outfits. I fed them, gave them naps, changed them, and put them in the mousetraps. I had an orange-and-brown metal kitchen set complete with fridge, stove, and sink. I had an easy-bake oven that saw some serious action.

My dad bought me boy toys: balls and trucks. I had colorful balls, balls attached to paddles, whiffle balls, ping pong balls. I had dump trucks, army trucks, matchbox cars and trucks, Tonka trucks. I especially remember a whole Tonka Trailer-Truck set that included little plastic hay bales, horses, and fences to keep everything corralled properly.

A nice marriage of the duality occured when I played in my dirt pile (really just a bare patch of lawn next to the house). There, I used the trucks to make mud pies that I would then "feed" to the dolls.

My mother taught me to crochet, gossip with friends, polish my nails, bake a cake, and how to laugh with others.

My father taught me to gut a fish, know when to keep my mouth shut, hammer a nail, creative cursing, and how to laugh at myself.

Oddly, my dad taught me how to bake and decorate sugar cookies. He actually did most of the baking in our house; with the possible exception of Chocolate-oatmeal-no-bakes and Rice Krispie treats, he owned the sugar in our house.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Television and the Young Mind

In my youth, I watched a fair amount of television. Back in those days there were three big networks: ABC, CBS, NBC. In the St. Louis environs we also had PBS, channel 11 (local station) and channel 30 (a precursor to Fox, if memory serves.) My viewing habits were governed by two facts: I was a night owl by nature and my mother was a stay-at-home mom.

Back in those days I lived and died by Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. I remember counting with the pinball-machine cartoon (1-2-3-4-5 ... 6-7-8-9-10 ... 11-12!) and going away to the Land of Make Believe. Once, during a public television tele-a-thon, I called the 1-800 number to see if the people on the phones in TV were real. (Yeah, I got in big trouble for that one. I wonder how many kids those PBS fundraisers talk to?) The Electric Company aired later in the morning, and as I got a little older I watched that, too. One science lesson illustrated the concept of optical illusions using a level floor tiled to appear sloped. It seems like I watched Kids, Incorporated around this time, too. As I watched the kids sing and dance I wanted to be just like them, all graceful and beautiful and talented.

During the afternoons, my mother commandeered the television to watch soaps. I can still remember the order they aired: Ryan's Hope at 11, All My Children at 12, One Life to Live at 1, General Hospital at 2, and The Young and the Restless at 3. I learned all I needed to learn about boys and cooties before I started school.

Once Dad got home from work and did whatever yard work needed done, he or mom would cook dinner as we watched the news (usually KSDK, the NBC affiliate). During the evening we watched TV as a family: Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, The Muppet Show, The Wonderful World of Disney. Later, my mom would go to bed early, and then it was just dad and me. We'd watch Joker's Wild, a game show that came on at 9, and then we'd watch the news again before catching The Twilight Zone, Dr. Who, and The Benny Hill Show. For a while we watched a women-in-prison show called Cell Block H; I don't remember it very clearly, though, so I bet it was only on for one season. I usually fell asleep during these shows; I'd wake up in time to watch The Lone Ranger with dad at 6:30 before mom woke up.

On the weekends, dad would go fishing or hunting. Sometimes he'd take me with him, but when he didn't, mom would take a break from cleaning the house to watch American Bandstand and dance with me. She taught me the Mashed Potato and the Twist. This was, of course, after the Saturday morning cartoons: Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner/Wile Coyote, Smurfs, Scooby Doo.

During my tween years I watched Doogie Howser, The Wonder Years, Quantum Leap, and the occasional Mystery Science Theater 3000 with dad. And of course I discovered MTV. And all during my childhood mom and I watched all the awards shows; Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, Daytime Emmys. If there was a statue to be had, you can bet me and mom were on the couch with a pan of Rice Krispie treats watching who won it.

What's this all say about me? I get my sci-fi/fantasy geekiness from my dad; I get my pop culture awareness from my mom. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Watch this space!

I've been feeling a little nostalgic lately, probably because I've been thinking of the future. There's no better way to figure out what I want to do with my life than look at what I've already done, am I right? So I'm declaring this week "Nostalgia Week," complete with pictures, witty anecdotes, and, if I play my cards right, raw emotion. This will get into full swing Monday evening. Until then, brace yourselves: the ride's about to get a little bumpy ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Notes from the addiction clinic

Me: So, I went to this yarn shop after work called Needleworks.
Ken: The crack house.
Me: I found it pretty intimidating. There's like three or four rooms full of yarn of all kinds, hand dyed, hand spun, regular stuff, sparkly, really bulky, super thin. You name it, it's there. What was cool, though, was there were three people sitting around a table knitting--
Ken: Sniffing cords.
Me: Um, sure. What I found interesting, though, was that there was a guy there. I'm guessing he was in his sixties. He wore a Cubs t-shirt and knitted with three double-pointed needles.
Ken: Huh. So anyone really can be an addict.

The trip was good: despite my intimidation, I scored the yarn and instructions for a Gryiffindor scarf. I don't know if I'll use the pattern--it seems a little more advanced than my skill level--but the colors are spot-on. Can't wait to knit it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My husband rocks

He surprised me today by bringing home Rock Band. This may be a part of his nefarious plan to pull me away from knitting. I'll let him think it's working ... for now ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Can I get a "hell yes," people?

Looks like HIMYM is back for another season! This brightened my mood considerably.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A post of three parts

1. I got purling down. Ha-ha-ha! Now I'm half-way through a lovely pink-and-brown varigated-yarn potholder. Next, I will practice changing colors of yarn, and then work on a scarf. Today at Hobby Lobby I saw some cool lime-green yarn, which would be fun, but I think first I'd like to make a burgundy-and-gold Gryffindor scarf. Knitting is the new crack.

2. We watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle today. Funny stuff. There were some lame things--riding a cheetah, for example--but some really funny things, like Neil Patrick Harris snorting coke off a stripper's ass. Ken and I and a few friends are going to see Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay this week. Hopefully it doesn't suck.

3. We went to the theater and watched Iron Man last night. Great movie, awesome special effects, good plot. Robert Downey, Jr. rocked the role of Tony Stark, Gwenyth Paltrow made a good Pepper Potts, and Jeff Bridges looked good bald. I thought the actual story wasn't as good as Batman Begins but on it's own merit it's pretty good. I think it's worth paying full price. If you see it, stay through the end of the credits. There's a little scene that sets up a sequel. I know what you're saying: "Why should I stay for five minutes and watch a bunch of names scroll the screen when I could already be half-way home?" I'll tell you why: Samuel L. Jackson. 'Nuff said. Though I have to say it was cool watching the names roll by. There were a zillion (okay, maybe only a hundred) people that worked on the computer graphics, and I told Ken that soon we'd go to a movie and watch the credits to see our friend Jimmy's name. To which he replied, "Have you talked to Bridget lately?" and I had to say "Uh, no." This only proves once again that I am a bad friend.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I was wrong

Turns out I don't know how to purl, yet. Bah. I've got knitting down, but purling is like knitting backwards, and I'm hitting a roadblock. It's basically an essential stitch to master if you're ever going to make anything smooth ... so. More practice. And then! I will win and I will make a scarf and life will be good.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I'm doomed

I went and did it. I bought a pair of knitting needles and some yarn, and last night I got together with some co-workers and learned to knit. Okay, "learn" is a strong word. "Tried" is better. This morning I tried to do some more and failed to even get started. I tossed the needles aside and said, "bah! I have too much other stuff to do anyway."

And then I went online, found a cool beginner's website, learned a new way to "cast on", and went to town. I knitted two rows, purled two rows, and cast off. I wouldn't say it was easy--I dropped a few stitches and my finished product is pretty loose--but I think I'm actually getting the hang of it. I'll never knit my own sweaters, but if I can get good enough to work my way up to scarves, I wouldn't complain.

Like I needed another way to fill my days, right?

ETA the pictures.