Monday, June 30, 2008



It appears as of late that my blog is basically the place where I come to do media review. Look at the last few weeks: we’ve got book reviews, movie chat, and even LOST. What happened to the old, interesting H who used to tell us all her funny stories from her everyday life? you ask. The simple answer is this: she got knocked up.

I’m currently 11 weeks pregnant with a little creature who has managed to not get implanted in some obscure part of my reproductive anatomy and whom actually has a beating little heart. Third time’s a charm, right?

What does this have to do with my blog? you ask. Everything. Apparently this little creature who we all adore so much is technically a parasite and has been sucking the life-force right out of me. The fun, spirited H you once knew is now struggling to keep her eyes open at 9 p.m. (and, hey, let’s be honest, 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m…..) and up until last week was too busy trying to figure out if she was really going to puke or not from moment to moment to actually do / say / think anything interesting. Hence, the fun stories and acute observations have been on a bit of a hiatus. I apologize for the interruption. Rest assured as I approach my second trimester I am starting to feel slightly more human again and should be back to doing / saying / thinking interesting things at any time.

*End Disclaimer*

I Do Not Need 437 Toothpaste Choices

I went grocery shopping this weekend with D. Typically D does not come shopping with me for a variety of reasons, one of which being that our grocery bill is generally $20 higher when he does. Unfortunately, D has this inherent weakness for products that boldly proclaim they are NEW!!! or IMPROVED!!!


D: Ooooh! Can we get these?

Me: But you don’t even like pretzels.

D: Yes, but they’re NEW!!!

Me: But you don’t like them.

D: Maybe I will this time. They’re NEW!!!

Me: But they’re still pretzels.

D: (throws them in the cart)

Me: (rolls eyes) *sigh*

2 months later:

D: H, are you ever going to eat those pretzels?

So you can see why I generally do my shopping alone. Aside from this, it always takes me ½ hour longer to do the shopping with D comes along. For some time (i.e. ever since I’ve known him) I’ve tended to blame him for this. I stand at the end of the aisle, silently thinking to myself, “Seriously, how long does it take to pick out toothpaste?? Just grab one and go.” I tap my foot impatiently and I make a conscious effort not to roll my eyes, although we both know I want to.

This weekend, that all changed.

This weekend, as we stood in the toothpaste aisle for what seemed like an eternity, I looked around and realized that if you don’t normally do the grocery shopping, it certainly would take you 10 minutes to pick out toothpaste. Why? Because there are 437 varieties (my estimate). Do you want mint or cinnamon or vanilla? Or maybe children’s bubblegum flavor? Or cinna-mint (which sounds disgusting, in my opinion)? And if you want mint, do you want spearmint, wintergreen, or just plain old toothpaste-mint flavor? Do you want to fight tartar? Gingivitis? Bad breath? All of the above? Do you want to whiten your teeth while you brush or are you just trying to get in and out of the bathroom without any of your teeth falling out? And once you figure out what kind you want, do you want it in a traditional squeeze-up toothpaste package or do you want the fancy squeezable plastic bottle?

Oh, and you might need a toothbrush to go with that toothpaste, as well. Do you want the plain kind, the kind with the tongue-brusher thingy, or the kind with the colored circle in the middle of the brush that will turn white when you need to switch toothbrushes? None of those? How about the kiddie ones that light up for exactly 1 minute so that your kid keeps brushing for long enough? Then there’s always the trusty battery-operated rotating toothbrush, if you’re really hardcore.

Don’t even get me started on floss.

What’s your point? you ask. My point is this: we don’t need that much toothpaste. Period. There is not one single reason why we need an entire aisle for toothpaste aside from the fact that toothpaste makers keep trying to out-do each other for the sake of the almighty dollar. And it isn’t just toothpaste. Tampons: an entire aisle. Seriously? You can only use one at a time, you know. Cereal: an entire aisle – both sides of the aisle. Are there really that many redeeming qualities that cannot be put into one cereal? And you know what we do in these aisles? We stand there and hem and haw and complain that we can’t find what we really want. Yes, but what I really wanted was a chocolaty breakfast cereal that is multi-grain and 100% organic with little pink marshmallows that look like pigs. Guess I’ll have to settle for whatever crap they have in the cereal aisle.

Too much choice is not a healthy thing. For starters, psychologists studying the phenomenon found that when we have too many choices, it actually impairs our ability to make a decision. Hence, D’s deer-in-the-headlights look / 20 minute sabbatical in aisle 5. We simply can’t process that much at one time. But secondly, why are we that picky in the first place? Really, what is it we think this magic toothpaste is going to do? Why do we think we need 437 choices?

We are far too spoiled as a society. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m guessing there are places in the world where there is *gasp!* no toothpaste (da da dan…. insert sound effects here). And maybe, *double gasp!* no breakfast cereal (ear-piercing scream)! Now I know I’m sounding like your mother looking down at your plate and telling you that there are children in *insert 3rd world country* who don’t even have green beans, so you’d better finish what’s on your plate. Bear with me. It’s not that I think we shouldn’t have toothpaste or breakfast cereal. It’s just that I often wish things were simpler. Yes, modern life means that we don’t die of smallpox or polio and it doesn’t take us 2 weeks to hear the news from the next town over and we can all read this blog (even if you don’t know who I am). Yes, modern life is nice, which also means that modern life can be a bit complex. But does it really have to be further complicated by the sheer number of toothpaste choices we have?

I don’t mind life being a little complex because I can better keep track of the people I love. I don’t mind life being a little complex because I have access to the authors I love. But complexity based on toothpaste profit margins? Give me a break.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Top 10 Things I Learned from LOST

Apparently, there is now a book out about what we can learn from the popular TV series LOST from the Christian perspective. This intrigues me to no end as a) a good many of the Christians I have encountered (but not all, mind you) would have run screaming from LOST about the time Kate *gasp* had sex *gasp* with Sawyer and b) the one character who seems to demonstrate a bit of faith is the one character that everyone I know seems to hate (though I refuse to back down from my Locke fan-dom). I have the book on hold at the library out of sheer curiosity and hope to get my hands on it soon.

Anywho, as much as I love this show, at times it’s too ridiculous for even me to take. In order to retain my fan-dom I must interject random sarcasm and give myself a bit of space. And so, a month and a half after everyone else was done chatting about the show for this season, I leave you with the Top 10 most interesting things I’ve learned from LOST:

10. If you give birth on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere after a major plane crash, your stomach will automatically shrink to 24 inches within days after birth and you will somehow not have any maternity clothes in your luggage – only tiny, tight tanks and cute little shorts. I know that’s what I plan to pack for all my 8-month-pregnant trips.

9. If you murder someone and then get into a plane crash, the murder charges will be dropped – as long as you helped rescue a few other people off the plane. Note to self: buy plane ticket for immediately after murder scheme and cross fingers.

8. Even if you hate your biological father with every fiber of your being, seeing his randomly disembodied spirit wandering around an island will somehow prompt you to leave your baby behind and follow him into a creepy invisible cabin in the woods. I wouldn’t follow most of the people I like into a creepy invisible cabin in the woods. But hey, that’s just me!

7. No one has to know where you are to send you food. So there’s this secret island, right? And no one can find it, right? And it’s this huge feat when the bad guys do manage to find it, right? But hey! Don’t worry about food – we have that air-shipped in.

6. Living on a creepy deserted island will keep you from ever being surprised by anything – even if no one ever tells you what the hell is going on. My personal favorite? Alex, this is your mother. And what did Alex say? Not, “WTF, I have a mother?!” Not, “Whoa, psycho, if this is my mother what have you been doing with me all these years?” Not even, “Huh?” Nope, she just blankly stares at Danielle as if it all makes sense.

5. Writing a plot line about a guy whose big brother gets him hooked on heroin and who then has a major scramble with the authorities in an airplane because he’s got the drugs before having to kick his habit due to being in a strange new world where there is no heroin (well, not for awhile, anyways) does not mean you read The Dark Tower. Really. It’s a coincidence.

4. If your child star, I don’t know, grows during 4 years of filming, simply start showing him flashed forward 3 years. Suddenly everyone says, “Of course Walt looks 17. He IS 17!”

3. Doors cannot be shut from the outside. They can only be shut from the inside. Unfortunately, the inside is also where you get trapped and drown. (Seriously, 4 steps outside that door and Charlie would still be here).

2. Being young and hot outweighs being right. It does not matter if you were right and the people on the boat are trying to kill you - if you’re not the 30-year-old lead actor that Miss Teen USA over there is tuning in to see, you’re still the bad guy. *sigh*

And the number one thing I have learned from LOST….

If you don’t like what’s going on in your little corner of the world…. move your island!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl

Just the other week I had the opportunity to watch the film Lars and the Real Girl. For those of you who haven’t seen it and may have no idea what I’m talking about, I offer a brief synopsis: Lars and the Real Girl is about a young man named Lars (of course) who lives in the garage of the home his brother and sister-in-law live in. Lars is something of a social phobic, choosing to have limited interactions with others, or just plain avoiding other people when at all possible. An event in the life of Lars’ family triggers the need for Lars to work through some of his issues. How does Lars work through his issues? you ask. Here is how:

Lars purchases a life-sized, anatomically correct sex doll named Bianca – whom he treats as a real person.

Lars takes Bianca everywhere he goes, pretending that she is a real person. He talks to her, carries her, pushes her in a wheelchair (he explains her total lack of movement by telling his sister-in-law that she’s paralyzed), dresses her, narrarates a history for her (she used to be a missionary; she can’t have children)…. the whole nine yards.

Lars’ brother and sister-in-law are, naturally, concerned (and, basically, floored - you should see their expressions at the dinner table). They take Lars to the Dr. on the premise that Bianca ‘looks a bit pale’ (ha!) and should get checked out. The Dr. is, of course, checking Lars out instead. Her recommendation: play along with Lars and ride it out. The Dr. is convinced that Lars has created Bianca for a reason and in order for that reason to resolve itself, they have to let Lars resolve things with Bianca. Eventually, the issue does get resolved, as we can see in Lars’ resolution with Bianca and his increasing interactions with the rest of the world. However, to me this is not the amazing part. To me, the amazing part is this:

Lars’ entire community goes along with his altered reality and welcomes Bianca with open arms. Bianca brings a bottle of wine to a party; the host thanks Bianca profusely. Bianca goes to church, where she is welcomed. Bianca goes through a whole slew of interactions with the townspeople; the local hairdresser gives her a haircut (joking that she’d better get it right because it wasn’t growing back!), a girl at the mall helps Lars pick out clothes for Bianca by taking Bianca into the fitting room and helping her ‘try on’ the clothes, an older woman picks Bianca up from Lars’ home and takes her to a banquet. The list goes on. The entire community embraces Bianca as one of their own for this simple reason: they love Lars.

Think about that for a moment, and ask yourself: What would you do if someone showed up with an anatomically correct sex doll at Sunday service and introduced her to you as a real person?

Or think about this: What reaction do you think you would get if you showed up with a sex doll to one of your normal social functions and introduced her to all your friends?

I honestly don’t know the answer to either question.

I adore this film for a variety of reasons. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it has that small-town charm you can only find in rural areas I never frequent. But mostly, it’s full of love. I’ve been thinking about the film for the last couple of weeks and the thing that stands out to me the most is this: the way it makes me wish that everyone could know what it’s like to be loved the way that Lars is loved. I wish I could assume that if I walked into church with a life-sized doll, no one would do anything but love me. I wish I could assume that if I took a life-sized doll shopping, someone would help me without giving me a funny look.

I wish I could assume that if my best friend showed up with a life-sized sex doll, I would do nothing but love her.

I know, I know, carrying around a life-sized sex doll is weird. But in a lot of places, a lot of things are considered weird. Where I used to go to church, going to a gay bar was weird. In my college theatre department, practicing religion was weird. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that Lars is nothing more than another kind of weird. Lars is nothing more than Jesus’ tax collectors and prostitutes. He’s just as weird to his community as I was to my church and to the theatre department. Life-sized sex dolls are just one more thing with the power to marginalize (did I seriously just write that?). But instead of being rejected by the majority and accepted by one man and his disciples – instead of being accepted by 6 people and hearing the rest of the church’s rather unsavory opinion on his nightlife/evangelism habits – Lars was accepted, embraced, and wholly loved by his entire community – his ENTIRE community. I think that is beautiful. And I hope, one day, we all know what it is to be loved like that.