Thursday, December 31, 2009

My "Guest Blogger" Post at Tomatoes on the Vine!

I enjoyed being a guest blogger for my friend Velva, on her wonderful "Tomatoes on the Vine" blog.  I think I enjoyed it more than Wayne, who was not fond of the meticulous process of photographically documenting the preparation of his delicious potato dish!  (Hey, at least it kept me and my camera out of the convenience store restroom!)

Here's the link; I encourage you to visit!!

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Please Do Not Disturb the Accessories

A couple of weeks ago, I made a Gatorade and hot chocolate run during a break between  Wayne Kevin's flag football games.  Grateful to have a "real" bathroom at my disposal instead of the portolets at the field, I availed myself of the facilities at the Gate Station on Magnolia Drive here in Tallahassee, where I purchased our drinks.

The Magnolia Drive Gate Station is, as convenience stores go, pretty  nice.  Many of the employees have been there for years and go out of their way to be welcoming and friendly.  I can count on the ladies' restroom being clean.  This time, the restroom was beyond clean -- it was decorated!!

I had my camera with me because I had had it at football, and my "hmmm, this has blog potential" sensor went off when my eye was drawn to the two identical signs posted on the wall.  They read:

We strive to keep our Ladies Room Clean & Fully stocked.
Our employees have also added decorative accessories to give our customers a more welcome & pleasant atmosphere.
We would appreciate it if our accessories were not disturbed, or removed from the restroom.
Thank you. 

I counted nine special decorative touches contributed by the Gate employees, including this quasi-nautical/natural arrangement on top of the commode:

I'm no interior decorator (a fact as well known as my compulsive reading), but I couldn't completely grasp the theme.  The blue/aqua family was prominent (we are in Florida after all).  There was also a nod to the Christmas holiday:

Why did I find all of this blog-worthy?  There are a couple of reasons.  First, I detected in the double appearance of the sign a sincere investment on the part of the Gate employees in making my experience at their establishment "more"' than your average convenience store stop.  And a fervent hope on their part that the effort would not be negated by a thoughtless visitor. 

This bathroom decor also elicited many of the same emotions I felt about my kids' efforts when they were little:
  • Gosh, I hope the effort works!
  • Man, I hope no one messes up what they've worked so hard on
  • Gee, I hope they aren't disappointed if something gets "disturbed"
  • Please, Lord, don't let them lose the optimistic view that something they create has the potential to make another person happy
  • Even if they are discouraged, give them the gumption and inner strength to try again
Thank you, Gate employees on Magnolia drive for beautifying an experience that is, to put it mildly, routine.  If your prints go missing:

Don't despair.  Maybe someone's atmosphere elsewhere was so yucky that they couldn't resist appropriating one of your decorative touches.  Maybe a two year old stowed away one of the little balls in the display on your commode (been there, done that). 

Speaking only for myself, I appreciate the effort. 

Nine decorations, two signs, and one grateful customer.

Have you benefited from an extra effort on the part of employees at an establishment you frequent?  If so, comment!

And I'll "run" into you next week. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting Tune Know You

"What kind of music do you like?"

I fumbled around for an answer.

I had just arrived on the set of an FSU film production and been introduced to Dalton and Emmy, two of my three "children."  As we were getting to know each other, one of the first questions had to do with music.  Dalton is a Britney Spears fan.  Emmy likes a lot of things, including the song "Fireflies" by Owl City.  I was still drawing a blank.  Even with prompts, like, "Well, do you like Celine Dion?" 

I have gotten out of touch with a lot of things about myself over the past 14 years of having and raising children.  My "deer in the headlights" reaction to such a basic question was, to me, a not-so-gentle nudge in the direction of reacquainting myself with the things that make me happy.  (And to being able to have a basic conversation with a new acquaintance.) 

My first thought was to pick the top ten songs that I love, and categorize them.  It wasn't quite so easy -- it was almost impossible to pare it down to ten (that's why there are 11).  And the categorization was a little messy.  But I am more prepared to answer the question next time I am asked, and I enjoyed the exercise of thinking through my musical tastes. 

There are 7 "contemporary" songs (for lack of a better word), 4 show tunes, and some "footnotes."

The seven "contemporary" songs are:

"The Story" by Brandi Carlisle.  I hear this song at work a lot over AOL radio.  It is a haunting song that compels me to listen, especially the line, "because even when I was flat made me feel like a million bucks."  Isn't that something all of us friends try to do for each other?

"God is Not Sleeping" and "Hope in a Hopeless World" by Phil Roy.  I first discovered Phil Roy when listening to XM radio, and I bought the cd containing "God is Not Sleeping" to give to my friend Rose when she was dealing with cancer.  He sings, "In the struggles of my life, he's right there beside me."  "Hope in a Hopeless World" belongs in two categories for me -- the contemporary thing and the "mentions New York City and/or evokes a NYC vibe" category.  This song is more of a call to action, with lines like, "Churches are full, but the prayers are not heard; Saturday's child don't wanna go to Sunday school; Whatever happened to the golden rule; It takes hope in a hopeless world." 

"Feels Like Home" by Chantal Kreviazuk.  This song is in several movies, including "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days."  It is played when the characters are on the East River walkway.  I'll close out this blog with a line from this song. 

"The Things We've Handed Down" by Mark Cohn.  I used an excerpt from this song on Tenley's birth announcement, so it will always be sentimental.  One of the stanzas from this song that I used on her birth announcement was, "Don't know why you chose us; were you watching from above?; Is there someone there that knows us; Said we'd give you all our love."  I'm sure at 13 she often wonders why she chose us too -- at least that's what she says with all those eye rolls right now!

"If You're Not the One" by Daniel Bedingfield.  This song was the soundtrack to my thought process as I came to grips with a relationship road I didn't take.  One of the lines is, "If you are not mine then why does your heart return my call?" 

"The Riddle" by Five for Fighting.  I found this song on my perpetual search for lyrics I can use in things like dance recital programs, etc.  This song is better for a son than a daughter, but I love the story it tells (even with the grammatical issue of "There's a reason for the world; You and I." 

The "show tunes" are:

"Slipping Through My Fingers" from Mamma Mia!, which Tenley and I saw together.  I used an excerpt from this song in the dance program ad for Tenley's recital a couple of years ago.  It captures that feeling that a mother has as her importance in her daughter's life wanes in inverse relationship to the daughter's peers.  "Do I really see what's in her mind?  Each time I think I'm close to knowing; She keeps on growing, slipping through my fingers all the time."

"Long Before I Knew You" from Bells are Ringing, another birth announcement song (for Wayne Kevin).  "Long before I knew you I loved you so."

"You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel.  I heard this song when I was in the 9th grade, during a difficult time in my life.  I have loved it ever since, especially "Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone."

"For Good" from Wicked.  This song makes me think of how happy I am to have had so many interesting, challenging, and loving friends through the years.  "Whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine by being my friend."

Now for the additional notes and then the close:
1) I have begun to enjoy the singer "Sissel."  I referred to her version of "Going Home" in a previous post.
2) Anything by Yes takes me back to the time when Wayne and I were dating.
3) This is a thread throughout the discussion above, but anything that mentions New York City or takes me back to the time I lived there in '89-'92 gives a song a chance of making it on my list.
4) Things really get eclectic when I start thinking about the types of music I like on my running mixes (such as 3OH!3), and the stuff my kids are listening to that I secretly like (mostly Tenley --Wayne Kevin is a classic rock guy). 

Back to "Feels Like Home."  The day I spent on the set with Dalton, Emmy, and the rest of the cast of Water Wings was different than any other day I have ever had.  I remarked to a friend in a Facebook exchange shortly after that it is truly a mystery how playing someone else can bring you closer to who you really are. 

The song "Feels Like Home" ends with "It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong."  I'm not sure I'm exactly "all the way back where I belong," but I'm closer, and I appreciate Dalton and Emmy reminding me that my playlist and I should get reacquainted with each other.

I'll "run" into you next week! 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Going for Picture

"At least I got the role of Teddy."

Last May, Wayne Kevin and I were sitting in the car waiting for the bus, and he was bemoaning some negative development in his nine-year-old life.  He finished the sentence by saying, "at least I got the role of Teddy." 

Although Wayne, Tenley, and I have been involved in the Florida State Film School for several years, we really had no idea what a big deal a student's BFA thesis production is.  For director Ariya Watty to choose Wayne -- a child who I love beyond all measure but frequently prefer not to take to Publix because a simple trip for milk turns into a detailed analysis of every Hot Wheel and the fabrication by him of some money I somehow owe him -- as one of the central characters of her most important production to date was brave!

I won't keep you in suspense -- the film turned out FANTASTIC!! 

That said, here are a few observations:

- As Jennifer, the parent of Elizabeth Scott, who played Wayne's older sister, said, "everyone on a film set is always happy."  Elizabeth has more professional acting experience than Wayne, so her mom has been on more sets.  But I have been on enough sets to agree with her.  There is a central beauty to being with people who are all doing what they love.  These are lessons that could be learned by many of our workplaces. 

- Your children can surprise you.  Wayne has been a fan of controlling situations since he used to keep us all enthralled in the "what shirt will you wear" decisions when he was two and three.  He hasn't earned the name "molasses" for nothing.  Sorry for the TMI, but it was a pivotal moment in the parent/child relationship when I literally had to force him out of his constitutional in a convenience store restroom somewhere in Michigan so we wouldn't miss our flight from Detroit back to Tallahassee.  I was most worried on the last day of filming, because he had gotten wind of a friend's Fun Station birthday party (I had purposely suppressed the information about the party) and was not feeling in a very "thespian" mood.  My husband, Elizabeth's mom, and I were all sitting on the side of the road, sweating and swatting away gnats.  I was wondering if Wayne was causing the whole production to stall due to his motivational issues.  (Production had been stalled enough by a slew of summer thunderstorms.)  Whatever transpired in the car (where most of the filming was taking place), the last thing I heard before that particular session wrapped was laughter --- I guess all my worrying was unfounded.  

- This is not a comparison that most readers under the age of about 30 will understand, probably.  If you remember life before word processors, you will recall that whenever you were preparing to type a table, report, or other document requiring more than words on a page, there was a LOT of preparation beforehand.  You had to predict how long your document would be, what margins to use, what width the columns would be (there was no "auto-adjust" button), and a variety of other components that would make or break the finished product.  I find film sets fascinating for that same reason:  the preparation it takes to create the finished product you envision is laborious.  You also have limited options for "do overs."  You can retake a scene over and over, but if you discover five days later that your subject's hair was parted on the left throughout the film but on the right during her most important monologue, there you go.  Attention to detail is key. 

"Going for picture" means you are through rehearsing and ready to commit the final product to film.  When it comes to a child, there's never a final product.  But in the process of watching Wayne work on Highway, I saw that he is capable of "going for picture" without me holding his hand or speaking on his behalf.  Six months after the filming, when we finally got to see the finished product, it astounded me how much younger his nine-year-old self looked and sounded than the ten year old who (yay!!) I discovered wants to sit through movie credits (I guess it helps if you're looking for your own name). 

Wayne will never take a tv or movie shot of someone inside a car for granted again; he knows that vehicle is stuffed with all kinds of equipment to capture the sound, lighting, and visuals of the shot. 

And just maybe I can take for granted his ability to pull his weight on a film set. 

Congratulations, Wayne Kevin.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Right Behind You

When we celebrated Wayne's 50th birthday last year on November 7, his brother Chuck wrote on the picture mat, "right behind you."  Since Wayne and Chuck were only 13 months apart, December 6, 2009, would be Chuck's turn to celebrate turning 50. 

We won't have one of the Kiger classic birthday shots with the honoree's cheeks puffed out as they blow the candles for Chuck's 50th.  Twelve days after Wayne's party last year, Chuck died. 

In my first draft for tonight's blog, I touched on several "classic Chuck" stories.  Each one could be a blog of its own -- how annoyed I was that he didn't actually get his butt up out of his chair to let me in the first time I visited his and Wayne's home; the time he shot Wayne's stereo out of anger and the guy at the repair shop wrote, "Gun Shot Wound" on the repair order; the time he talked his daughter, Kris, her friend Marlena and me out of going to the Jade Dragon Tattoo and Exotic Body Piercing Studio on Belmont Street in Chicago to hunt for navel jewelry for the girls (even though HE was the one who had someone come to the house for Kris to get her (underaged) belly button pierced). 

In the end, I can paint the picture of who Chuck was, while paying homage to his individuality, by describing his tombstone.  Apparently, when Chuck and his brothers and cousins used to go bowling (back when you actually had to keep score yourself, on PAPER), Chuck would turn the scorecard over and draw images of Snoopy instead of keeping score.  He loved to draw Snoopy.  Even more than he loved to draw Snoopy, he was passionate about all things Beatles, especially John Lennon (as the tattoo of Lennon's image on Chuck's arm attested).  When Tenley and I visited New York in 2005, we went to the Dakota just to take pictures of it to share with  Chuck. 

I am fairly sure Chuck's tombstone is the only one on the face of the planet with an image of Snoopy accompanied by John Lennon's quote, "some may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." 

I wish I could have captured some of the essence of the dreams in Chuck's head when he was doodling away, bringing the Sopwith camel to life in his imagination and on the scorecards.  I wish many people who I care about, who get wrapped up in worrying what others think of them, could have just a fraction of  Chuck's ability to revel in being "yourself." 

Most of all, I wish that Chuck had been able to meet his new grandson Griffin Charles, make that weird blowing-out-the-candles face, and do whatever it is the men of the family do outside at Mary's house when they are ostensibly grilling meat.  In closing, there's a song that I had considered using when we buried  Chuck's ashes in September, but it didn't make the cut.  I still like this song (by Chantal Kreviazuk), and it expresses some of the sentiments I  have felt over the year:

You are everything you ought to be
So just let your heart reach out to me
I'll be right by your side
Say good night, not goodbye.