Monday, March 31, 2008

She's Having A Baby

"You feel the beat of a brand new heart / All change / She's having a baby / It draws you close as it tears you apart . . . / Been dreaming about it so long / And now that the moment has come / Mixed drinks and mixed emotions"

Dusty and I had a rather packed social calendar this past weekend. On Friday night, we caught Danny Michel's great live show at the Myer Horowitz Theatre. The stage was pretty bare: an unused drum kit, a piano, a few scattered amps, and Danny with his guitar and electronics. Yet his breezy, laid-back charisma easily filled the room. Besides being an accomplished musician and lyricist, Danny is about 88 kinds of adorable. I was tempted to just roll him up and tuck him into my back pocket so I could cuddle him later. The Wheat Pool boys were a different sort of delicious; their brooding, literary country-rock opening set was a stark contrast to Danny's wry electronic folk songs. I guess the baby likes live music, too; there was lots of rolling around going on in my belly during the show.

Saturday night was our monthly dinner club outing at NAIT's culinary school. The food and the company was divine, as always, but I feel slightly left out of the wine tasting. I can't wait until I can drink properly again. The tiny, minuscule, just-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue sips I had of the wines they pair with each of the four scrumptious dishes always makes me long for a full glass. I miss being able to savor a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with a filet mignon cooked medium-rare. I miss having a chilled glass of plum wine accompanied by the rarest tuna and salmon sashimi. I miss going down to the pub for a pint when Beer O'Clock rolls around.

After a rousing session of post-book-club Rock Band on Sunday, I realized that there are even bigger things I will miss once the baby is born. Namely, I will miss hanging out with friends of ours who not only do not have children, but have actively chosen not to have children. When Dusty and I were struggling to get pregnant, we agreed that if a certain amount of time passed and we were still unable to conceive, we would content ourselves with being Tita and Uncle and relish the freedom that comes with not having to be responsible for a wee one. Now, because bargaining with the Universe is like bargaining with a market vendor in a Third World country, we got pregnant as soon as we decided we weren't going to try to get pregnant.

I'm jazzed that we will probably deepen and develop friendships with coworkers we like who have kids; we'll soon be looking for kid-friendly activities and we'll be more inclined and equipped to spend time with fellow parents. But I don't want our circle of friends to suddenly be limited to people with kids. Just because we both squirted out live human beings from our vaginas doesn't mean we will instantly like each other or that we should be forced to hang out. Especially because if kids are all we have in common, then that's all we'll talk about. And yes, motherhood is amazing and rewarding and all that blah blah blah. I just want to be able to talk about something other than kids all the time.

I know it will be difficult to maintain a decent relationship with friends who have no kids and I feel a little bit like I'm starting to mourn a loss. We may no longer be able to have these friends over to our house because a child will soon be living [and crying and crawling and running and yelling] here. We won't be able to go out as a couple as often with these friends because we won't always find a babysitter in time. Hell, it might be nigh impossible for just Dusty and me to spontaneously go for a beer on a Wednesday evening or see a show on a Friday night because someone has to watch our kid. I hope that won't be the case, and that we will be able to steal moments to ourselves as adults, but I'm preparing for it to be a challenge.

All change. I'm having a baby. Sigh.


"She's Having A Baby" by Dave Wakeling

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's a Shame about Ray

"Some things need to go away / It's a shame about Ray"

According to this article in Paste Magazine, the Lemonheads are reissuing their 1992 album It's A Shame About Ray this week, and they're planning to come out with a new album next month. I am SO confused. I thought Evan Dando had become just a lyric in a Barenaked Ladies song. Am I the only one scratching her head over this? Am I the only one who has heard that this is even happening? Or is this so six months ago and I'm just catching up?

I suppose it could be argued that the Lemonheads were among the forefathers of catchy, angst pop-rock, but I wouldn't call Ray a classic. At least not one worthy of a reissue just 16 years later. It's not even an anniversary reissue! If there's any album worth reissuing from 1992, it would be Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes. [That's the album I voted for in Paste's poll accompanying the Ray reissue announcement.] Tori would probably do something beautiful and bizarre to the original songs, to make the reissue truly unique.

Here's what really gets me: on Amazon.com, the original 1992 CD is selling for $9.00 and the "Collector's Edition" is $21.00. And for what? A few live tracks and demos? Can you imagine Evan's pitch for this project? "Dude, I blew all my money on heroin and Courtney Love, but I have a genius idea to make more. Here's our demo tape and some live footage. That's gotta be worth an extra $12.00, right?" As Dusty said, what do you expect? He's a lemonhead.

This is probably the most honest review of the reissue: "Bonus demos and a DVD of videos and footage of Dando during his Aussie stint play mildly interesting, but they mostly remind one of how royally Dando fucked up what might have been." Ah, well. Lock up your daughters and your drugs, y'all. THE LEMONHEADS ARE BACK!


"It's a shame about Ray" by the Lemonheads

Workin' in a Coal Mine

"When my work day is over / I'm too tired for havin' fun"

Last month, Nintendo Power magazine had a seven-page spread on BioWare's upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog handheld game for the Nintendo DS. It's pretty exciting news, actually. There's finally a BioWare game for my 11-year-old niece. Since she's such a huge fan of fantasy books, she might like role-playing games, and Sonic is the perfect My First RPG. It has a fairly straightforward story, and it has classic RPG elements like dialogue choice and party member quests.

Working on Sonic was a complete change of pace from working on Mass Effect. I went from editing dialogue like, "Hurry to our planetoid, Commander Shepard! There is genocide afoot!" to "Run through that loop-de-loop to get to the other side, Sonic! There are more gold rings to collect!" It's going to be slightly awesomer than that, but you get my drift. Shepard and Sonic are not going on any "fetch my magic acorn before it grows into a possibly carnivorous mind-controlling plant that looks like the Jolly Green Giant's left testicle" quests together.

Over the Easter weekend, I had a chance to playtest Sonic. The Sonic team lent me a DS and "devkit" cartridge containing the latest build. I got home and quickly tore through the first two chapters, enjoying the gameplay and ignoring the inevitable hitches and glitches. Then it crashed. Before I had a chance to save nearly 45 minutes of gameplay.

I rebooted and played for another 30 minutes, saving every five minutes to at least prevent loss of data. It crashed again. After it crashed for the 12th time in six total hours of gameplay [Yay temporary builds!], I had two choices: put it down on the desk or throw it out the window. I chose the former, out of respect for my own sanity and the company's property.

See, this is what our gamer friends don't fully understand about game development. Playing games as part of our work is very rarely any fun. We play the games when they are broken and ugly and buggy. We might play only certain sections of the game, e.g. the writers play through the quests they wrote dialogue for, over and over and OVER to check for bugs. Dusty couldn't play Mass Effect for a couple of months after it came out because he had touched almost every part of that game and knew exactly where it might hitch and glitch. It's like when you've spent all day in the kitchen cooking a huge meal [Yay Thanksgiving!]: by the time you serve the food, you find you're just not hungry.

At least my stint with Sonic only lasted long enough for me to make a sandwich. I think I will still enjoy it when it comes out. I want to know what it's like after the first two cheese slices . . . er, chapters.



"Workin' in a Coal Mine" by Lee Dorsey/DEVO

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Funny Face

"For you're a cutie / With more than beauty / You've got a lot of per-son-a-li-ty"



Forget all this talk about who's got the most delegates or the highest polling numbers. I think the Democrats should pick their candidate based on who can make the funniest face at a random baby in the crowd. Of course, based on these samples, Obama is still edging out Clinton. Damn, that guy is good.



"Funny Face" by George and Ira Gershwin, sung by Fred Astaire in the movie. Photos c/o Yahoo News Images.

It's in His Kiss [Shoop Shoop Song]

"Oh-oh-oh kiss him and squeeze him tight / And find out what you wanna know / If it's love, if it really is / It's there in his kiss"

So I'm folding laundry and flipping through channels to find something to watch. I eventually settled on Notting Hill, with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. It's perfect Folding Laundry TV: I know exactly what's going to happen, because it's exactly what happens in every single romantic comedy ever made, so I don't have to pay too much attention, but it provides a pleasant enough background noise. I'm intently folding socks, but I look up just in time to witness a kissing scene.

Oh my god, you guys. Hugh Grant looks like a crap kisser:

It might be hard to tell in the photo, but his body language is awkward, like he is pulling away from her instead of drawing closer. His lips are screwed up tight, like he doesn't want to catch horseface cooties. I mean, yes, we all agree that Julia's gargantuan mouth gives her the ability to swallow your face, and that can be a terrifying thought, but come on, Hughey. Your character just met her character five minutes ago. You spilled orange juice on her in a cute, bumbling way, which in movie terms means you're meant for one another. Give me a reason to suspend my disbelief. Kiss her like you mean it!

I'm talking to you, too, Michael Cera. You had kissing scenes in both Superbad and Juno with cutiepie girls, but both times you looked like you were kissing your pruney Great-Aunt Phyllis on her leathery cheek to thank her for that $5.00 check she mailed you for your birthday. You're 20 years old and at your sexual peak. Your job sometimes involves pretending to make out with pretty people. Feel it! Own it! Sell it!

And you, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Okay, two things: 1) I'm not sure if it's good or bad that the Hollywood studio system no longer changes names. Fifty years ago, you'd have been Nick Coast or Nicky Wald, which are less interesting, but more memorable. 2) You play a 400-year-old immortal on your show New Amsterdam. Yes, your character was presumably busy with sword fights and gun battles and riding horses and wearing silly wigs, but surely in those four centuries there was ample time to learn how to properly kiss a woman. During your first kiss with the woman you are supposedly destined to be with for the rest of your life, I noticed that you kiss like Hugh Grant. You don't want that on your resumé. You want "kisses like Johnny Depp".

Johnny is a brilliant movie kisser. First, he always does that thing that women swoon over, where he cups the sides of his co-star's face gently in his hands. Then he looks deep into her eyes, as if he is announcing his intention to kiss her. Then he leans in carefully, making sure his nose is perfectly aligned beside her nose. He closes his eyes and opens his mouth just enough so that his lips envelop her top lip and her lips envelop his bottom lip and then they switch and... stuff... and you know... sigh... anyway.

Practice makes perfect, darlings. Watch a few Johnny Depp movies. Maybe practice in the mirror a few times. [Shut up. You were 12 years old once. Admit it: your bedroom mirror had a mess of lip prints, too.] Then buy a case of Chapstick and tell your co-stars you need to rehearse that kissing scene just once more. Call it Method Acting. That'll get them hot.



"It's in His Kiss" by Betty Everrett, later covered by Cher and Vonda Shepard

Monday, March 17, 2008

Anak

"Ngayon iyong naramdaman / Ngayon iyong naranasan / Ngayon iyong maiintindihan / Tama pala ang iyong ina / Tama pala ang iyong ama / Ngayon hindi ka na magtataka / Hindi pala birong maging magulang"

"Now you've felt it / Now you've experienced it / Now you'll understand / Your mother was right / Your father was right / Now you will not question / It's not easy being a parent"

This song by Pinoy musician Freddie Aguilar opens with the birth of a new baby whose parents find him an utter delight. The first couple of verses talk about how the parents lose sleep making sure their baby is fed and comfortable, and yet they somehow still find energy to play with him. Sometimes the parents are exasperated and don't know what to do with their child. They are both new at this, but they do the best they can.

As the boy grows older, the next verses take a darker turn. He develops a strong will. He falls in with the wrong crowd. His path strays. The song implies that he gets into serious trouble and when he approaches his mother for help, she weeps and asks him, "Son, how did you end up this way?"

The final verses describe the boy's maturing into adulthood and eventually fatherhood. When he welcomes his firstborn into the world, he finally understands what his parents felt when they had him, and what he put them through. It's the kind of redemption moment that every parent seems to hope for when they say, "Someday, when you have kids, you'll know."

For the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about this song; I feel like I've lived some of the lyrics myself. I wasn't the easiest kid to raise . . . all right, I'll just say it: I was a bit of a brat. [I'm sure those of you who know me well are shocked. Shocked!] I didn't get into any trouble with the law or anything, but I could be difficult, demanding, mouthy and "too smart for my own good", especially when I was doing something stupid like staying out all night without calling to let my mom know where I was. She used to say that karma would someday "reward" me with a kid who is just like me. Whenever she said that, I'd roll my eyes and reply, "Oh, MOM. You are being SO dramatic! I'm SORRY, okay? Gaw!"

I know this sounds crazy, but part of me does worry that my mom's prediction will come true. On the one hand, if I do have a kid like me, then I might anticipate things s/he'll try to get away with. I'll at least know where to look for the stash of pot and condoms . . . that of course my child is only holding for a friend. On the other hand, if our Spidey senses are correct and we do have a girl, then a little girl like me + me under the same roof = Dusty should maybe look into that bomb shelter after all.

We all look askance at the mother who is yelling at her child across the aisles of the grocery store and think, "I'm SO not going to be that woman." We all see the father who gives his kid a toy car just so his kid will stop whining and think, "I would never do that." We all listen to our friends tell stories of their kids' worst tantrums and think, "My kid would have better boundaries." And yet I'm sure that every parent has found him/herself in the same place and done the same thing at one point. You never know what you're going to do in any given situation until you're actually doing it.

One of our Bay Area friends asked me and Dusty if we had come up with our House Rules, the sort of non-negotiable laws that will be enforced under any and all circumstances. Another friend in Austin asked me what our TV policy was going to be. I thought this was obvious, but perhaps I need to point out that our child is but a fetus at this juncture. If I could impose a rule right now it would be, "Stop kicking Mama in the bladder."

In general, Dusty and I think we should meet our kid before we start figuring out how to raise him/her, but we've at least agreed on four "rules":

1) Stay away from cigarettes. Because of those damned cancer sticks, you will never know your Gram.

2) Go to college. Even if it's just to shut us up. You'll grow and learn a lot by just being on campus.

3) Do not get pregnant [or get anyone pregnant] before you finish college and get a job. You have a few relatives who can tell you how hard it is to try raising a kid before you're done being a kid yourself.

4) Try not to be an asshole. If you act like one, admit it and apologize. [This one we're "appropriating" from Auntie Karin.]

I know I should probably be thinking or worrying about how much more jacked-up my body is going to get in the next few weeks or how intense labor is going to be, but those are passing discomforts, over and done with in a few short breaths. Once this kid is born, I will have to live with the kind of person s/he turns out to be for the rest of my life. And his/hers.

Darling Button, if you are reading this from T3H FUTURE, I hope I didn't fuck you up. And if I did, may it have only been in interesting ways that provided inspiration/profit, in the form of a bestselling tell-all memoir or critically-acclaimed debut novel or Billboard-charted solo album.

I'm new at this and I'll do the best I can.



"Anak (Child)" by Freddie Aguilar

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pictures of You

"I've been looking so long at these pictures of you / that I almost believe that they're real"

Finally, here are photos from our trip to the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle. Love. Miss. Sigh.



"Pictures of You" by the Cure

Monday, March 3, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

"Little darling / I feel that ice is slowly melting"

Dusty and I got home from our trip yesterday afternoon; we went from intermittent rain and sun to all snow all the time. At least it's "warm" out; only 20 degrees Fahrenheit. I'll post actual photos when I get it together, but for now, more snapshots. I miss all my lovely Pacific coast friends already.

  • On the way to our seats at Buck's in Woodside, I spot a table reserved for a party. Only the sign says, "Somewhat Reticent". The party eats their granola-encrusted waffles under the watchful eye of a tiny cast-iron Lenin.

  • My fabulous hula sister Gwen threw us a mini-baby shower, complete with a purple and green raspberry-filled cake and bunny bubble blowers. She knitted the baby a gorgeous poncho with a large pocket in front. Maybe it'll be an incentive for Button to figure out how hands and pockets work.

  • The best "Welcome back to Sunnyvale!" dinner at Saizo: Chicken gizzards and garlic sprouts, grilled squid with ginger-sesame dip, Mary's bawdy jokes and contagious laughter.

  • Ahhh... Nothing says "I'm driving on I-280" like the smell of skunk.

  • Lesson learned: flats are the pregnant woman's worst travel shoe choice. Owie!

  • My Seattle massage therapist's name is Calm Israel. I hope she finds true love with someone named Pacify Palestine.

  • At Ling's birthday dinner, I watch as a piece of oxtail meant for my mouth rolls down my chin, onto my right boob, across my belly. It bounces twice on my pants before it falls to the floor. I can't see where it went because my belly is in the way. Oh, the humanity.

  • Ling and I are on the couch, snorting, crying, laughing. Our faces are red and I have a stitch in my side. Her husband, Kent, walks by and shakes his head. "It's really a shame that you two never learned how to get along, even after all these years."

  • Sweet Hi'iaka-ika-poli-o-Pele! Outside the wonderful Kona Kitchen, there is a flyer advertising a ho'ike happening at the South Seattle Community College in two weeks! The women in the photo are wearing REAL lei! Their pa'u look handmade! The okina is in the right place in "ho'ike"! Why do I live here and not there?! Oh, right. Socialized medicine.

  • David, one of my parenting idols, says to the boys, "Stop eating all that fruit. We have pizza and hot dogs coming for lunch."

  • We used to talk about movies we had seen, books we had read, concerts we had attended, trips we had taken. During our last night in Issaquah, we talked about blowouts and the importance of carrying around an extra set of clothes for your baby and yourself. On the very day that you forget, you will find yourself in the middle of a poonami*. It's the new Murphy's Law.


"Here Comes the Sun" by George Harrison. *Phrase coined by my friend Corey Andruko.