Book vs. Movie

It’s no secret that nowadays, converting books to the big screen is a major money-grab. Some are ragingly successful, some flop flatter than that kid at the public pool trying to dive for the first time. But one thing is for sure: everyone will have an opinion about it.

I love books, and I love movies. But I will probably never get caught up in angrily comparing them, and here’s why.

1. I didn’t write the book or make the movie.

Audiences take books and movies so damn personally! And I don’t understand it. That director or script-writer cannot please everyone, even you. He/she doesn’t hate you, and he/she will probably never read that open letter you wrote to them, describing your hatred for them.

2. Editing is really, really necessary.

When a director/writer converts a beloved book, he has a lot of choices to make. Many developments of character/storyline in books are slow, or lacking dialogue, and that’s okay. We read books to take the time for escape. But for an average two-hour movie, not all of these details can be transferred in a way that’s compelling and interesting. (This is why I’ll always be impressed with the visionary world created in The Hunger Games. The books’ stories were told completely from Katniss’ point of view; she doesn’t describe or even know about many of the things we get to experience on the screen.)
Game of Thrones is literally the only thing I have currently seen that’s pretty much word-for-word from the book, plus boobs. (I’ve only read the first book so far, though, so I can’t speak for the accuracy of the rest yet.) And each book is equal to a 10 hour season of a very expensive mini-series. I’m sorry, but Hollywood can’t and won’t do that for every book you read, even if it makes you mad.

Ultimately, those changes that were made from book-to-movie HAVE to be approved by the author of the books themselves, if they’re still alive. When those authors penned those books, even they have to make a disclaimer at the beginning: “This is a work of fiction. Any relation to a person living or dead, or a situation, is purely coincidental.”  The chances of their original book actually imitating the life of someone, without permission, is very unlikely – but they don’t want to get sued, so they cover their butt, just in case. Movie-makers have to take the same care with the material they’re given. I refuse to shake my fist at a director who apparently “didn’t read the book!”

Believe me. They did. Legally, they had to. And they discussed everything with the author. They reached an agreement, they signed papers, and they covered their butts. Just because it’s not the world that you imagined when you read the book, doesn’t mean that it’s not a good movie version of the story, deserving of acclaim. That’s like hearing an epically beautiful and moving orchestral score, and saying, “Well, that’s not what I heard playing in my head when I read it! I hate it!”

So, if the author (or whoever is acting on their behalf) is cool with it, why aren’t you?

3. The Bible is not a novel.

I know, I know. I’m going there.

If converting books to movies has become a major money-grab, then converting Bible stories into movies has become the peak of money and controversy. But it’s not a new thing. Like, at all.

The Bible has been used for big-screen stories for the past 100 years, at least. And I highly doubt that any of them were completely “accurate.”

White Jesus, anyone?

Maybe because…

A.) None of us were alive when the Bible was happening.

B.) I believe that the Bible is the actual word of God, intended to teach and challenge us, to get us talking to (and hopefully loving) other people. But it is not always heavy on dialogue, infinitesimal details or even character development. Even with the big, well-known stories, there are still many aspects shrouded in mystery.

C.) Movie-goers and directors alike cannot exactly consult the many Authors of the written material to turn these stories into the movies they deserve to be.

That being said, I’m just happy that Hollywood is trying AT ALL, and a lot of them (not everyone) are doing the best they can. I have a list of based-on-Bible movies that I love. It’s not huge, but it exists, and all of them have details that are missing or added or changed. It’s my choice to not get offended by that. If the integrity of God’s character and his-story is still intact, I still feel blessed and encouraged every time I watch the stories of God and his people brought to life. It’s also up to me to keep reading the Bible, so that I remember the important details.

Wait, so you’re saying Moses’ future wife didn’t actually push him down a well and then become a gangster?

My point is: If you don’t want to spend your money on what you feel will be a piece of crap, that’s fine. Stick to the books…but you might miss out. (Personally, Steve and I like to watch the movies first and read the books afterwards. Then it becomes like an expansion pack of the world we were just introduced to!)

I just honestly don’t think that you can go into a theatre to watch a movie based on a book, novel or Bible, and expect it to be totally accurate or what you thought it would be. If you want that, you might have to make it yourself.

“Be the book-adapted movie you wish to see in the world.” — Darren Aronofsky *

But that’s just my opinion.

*He didn’t actually say that. I did. Or maybe Gandhi. I don’t know. Accuracy is hard.

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5 Things I Forgot About Having a Cat

Sometimes, the Internet provides you with Cats Who Forgot How To Cat.

This is a series of moves I could never quite master in my dance class.

And all the time, Real Life provides you with Things That You Forgot About Being A Cat OWNER.

Before last year, I had not owned a cat since I was a teenager, and even then, they were outdoor cats. The world was their litterbox, and if we didn’t see them for a few days, we accepted that they probably had met the natsy side of a cougar or a grizzly bear, and got another kitten the next day.

Welcome to the Circle of Life, everybody.

Now, I’m an adult. And for the past year + 4 months, my life has been graced with an indoor cat who thinks that the sole purpose of our existence is to serve him, Almighty God.

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“Hows can you says no to dis face?”

Doesn’t he know that the sole purpose of my existence is to experience things like him and then blog about it?

ALL THE THINGS WALTER HAS BROUGHT UPON ME.

1. Litter. Litter Everywhere.

We have tried at least 56 different kinds of litter since we brought him home. Have you ever stood in the cat litter aisle of the pet store, and felt overwhelmed by all of your choices?

Fear not. We are your guinea pigs. We have tried them all, and they’re all pretty much terrible.
If it says “easy clumping”, that just means that every time you scoop out his pee, you’ll be wrestling with something like that looks like a chunk of concrete and breaks your shovel in half. If you decide to go with the crystal beads that smell lovely, that just means that all the pee has sunk to the bottom of the litter box and you can’t smell it until you clean it out from top to bottom. And then it hits you like an effin’ freight train. (Stepping on these tiny little crystal granules in the middle of the night are 97% guaranteed to be a more terrible experience than stepping on a Lego.)

Also, I’m pretty sure Walter’s paws are agents in the CIA. When you look at them, they look normal. But really, he’s walking around the house, dispensing tiny little “packages” of litter glue all over the floor and your furniture, and you have no idea how they got there.
Do you like having a throw rug in your living room? Us too. Our first one was a huge mistake: long, shaggy brown fibers. Pretty soon, it was just a matted knot of diseases. Are you debating giving your kids vaccinations? Just bring them over and stick their faces in our rug for awhile; they’ll become immune to everything.

(I’m kidding. We have since gotten a new, SMALL fiber rug.)

2. Confusing Boundaries

A.) We don’t really have a kitchen table yet, so every evening, you’ll find us sitting on the couch, eating at either the coffee table, or from our laps. Having ignored us for the most of day, also known as “naptime”, Walter figures now is the best time for some cuddles. And if you ignore him to eat your food, or gently nudge him off the couch, you are the worst.

But God forbid that HE is eating fresh food from his bowl, and you dare to walk by. He will run away, as though his food has suddenly been contaminated by the worst-ness that you are. He will not return to it. It is dog shit to him now.
So, either learn to tiptoe at least a foot-wide berth around his food bubble, or waste a lot of money throwing away his first world problems.

B.) In relation, Walter has an emotional bond to food. It’s not about being hungry; it’s about being bored. Granted, I don’t blame him too much because he literally cannot go outside or he’ll die – there’s not much to entertain him inside. Sure, we have toys, but they are the equivalent of your life’s worth, and to be ignored. He has 3 effing beds to choose from, yet he will martyr himself upon a crumpled cardboard box.

So, if boredom strikes him at, say, 4am — you’re the 24 hour drive thru, as far as he’s concerned. Since we have no bedroom door (no bedroom door, no kitchen table, ahhh, the young married life), he has no qualms about sticking his shitty, cold nose in our possibly-open mouths to get our attention.

He has not learned that this will get him nothing but hatred. And yet, if HE is the one sleeping and you happen to wake him up, get ready for the stank-eye because he will be PISSED.

ImageBottom line: He is a hypocrite and you are wrong. Always.

3. Hair.

I HAD a lint roller that worked pretty well for catching hairs and bits of fluff. But that lint roller rolled right on outta town because it couldn’t take it anymore. So now I can’t have nice things OR a lint roller.

4. Attitude.

I’m pretty sure my cat has multiple personality disorder, in which he can alternate between being a whiny little boy, an “eff you, mom” teenage boy, and a persnickety old man boy. It’s exhausting trying to keep up. We are only two humans, who can only take so much. (Dear God, tell me actual children will be easier!)

He basically just doesn’t give a crap. About our feelings or our lives.

I’ve started learning what different “meows” mean, in true mothering fashion. These are ones I know so far:

mrow = i’m hungry
mroww = please i’m dying i’m so hungry
rowwwwwww = omg there is someone in the yard kill it
mRaoaoaoaowowoaoaoaoaoaw = help i’m pooping
*silent pounces* = spider on the floor i’mma kill that bits

And if I ever need to be reminded that he doesn’t give a flying frack about me, all I have to do is watch this. I was announcing to my loved ones that I had found my life’s passion, and he vomited on the floor.

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“Whadda ya lookin’ at? I do what I want, bits.”

5. Welllllll Okay. Lots Of Love Too.

He truly has come through as our practice baby, because — despite all of these things — we love him like crazy. At times, he surprises us with a mutual affection, even appreciation. Mostly when we are rubbing his happy spots. But we’ll take it.

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Thank you, Walter. Thank you for teaching me how to love something unconditionally, something that is pretty selfish most of the time. My future children (who you’re probably gonna despise also) now have a chance at a Nice Mommy.

Skyfall (Family Matters Part 4)

If you’re in need of some back story, staaaaart here: Part 1     Part 2    Part 3

So far, I’ve kept things fairly serious and dramatic. But really, I’m just getting started. And since I don’t want to feel like shit for the rest of the day, I’m going to incorporate as many gifs as I possibly can. Prepare for a lot of facepalms and WTF? Thank God for Google.

Back in the day, I was quite the housesitter, and I loved every minute. As an illegal immigrant who couldn’t get a job or live on her own, it was the best way to have a place to live, food to eat, AND make some extra cash on the side. Throw in some free wifi to help me locate my awkwardly obtained family members, with erasable browser histories – I was in, I was out, I was clean.

So, in the spring of 2010 (OMG that’s 4 years ago already), I had a big beautiful house on the river all to myself. I have fond memories of this place; I started watching How I Met Your Mother on DVD there…played strip poker for the first time with some girlfriends and then couldn’t sleep that night because I felt so guilty there…started feeling numb down my side and smelling burnt toast at the same time, so I ran to the ER with a stroke, but really it was just the unfortunate combination of a pinched nerve and a sinus infection there…had my first conversation with my dad ever and thought I would die of happiness there…

Damn, if those walls could talk.

It all started with a night of searching.

Matthew Winters. The State of California. Insurance. (I guess the whole pastor thing didn’t pan out very well.)

I had located an insurance website that looked promising, but to be able to send any of the employees an email, I had to click on their name and then click on what kind of insurance claim I wanted to file. Otherwise, everything was locked up tight.

I thought about jokingly filing for some kind of “my daddy never paid for my upbringing” claim,

but I could be in trouble if he wasn’t actually my dad.

Taking a break, I went on Facebook chat to see if any of my friends were around. A guy I knew from a Bible camp a few towns over was online, and I suddenly remembered that he was, shall we say, really good with computers.

MeHey dude, what’s up? (keep it cool, dayum, girl)
Him: Not much, you?
Me: Eh, ya know. Same. So hey, was wondering if I could ask you something?
Him: Shoot.
Me: How do I…find…someone online, like an email address, if all I have is their name and where they work?
Him: What’s your info?
Me: Uh, Matthew Winters, State of California, insurance. I think he’s my dad.
Him: Cool! Hold on.
[Less than 10 minutes later]
Him: All I could fish out was this email address. Will that work?
Me: Really??!!?!? I’ll try it! Thank you so much! What do I owe you?
Him: Don’t worry about it. Next time you see me, you can buy me a Coke or something.

To this day, I have not seen him. Dude probably needs a case of Coke by now.

Okay, so. Holy shit. I have my dad’s email address. I hope.

At the time, I was sharing an email address with my mom under a fake name out of her paranoia of the government finding us and drafting me into the WWIII that is the Middle East, or something. So I created an entirely separate email account that had only my dad’s apparent contact information on it.

I emailed him, keeping the same unruffled, nonchalant stance I had taken when I messaged my sister. And then I tried to sleep. Didn’t happen. Checked my email in the morning, and received the greatest surprise.

Oh! My darling daughter! We’ve found each other at long last! I have been searching and searching for you and your mother ever since you left, but your trail went cold in 1998. I thought you had perished. But God has answered my prayers! How are you? How is your mother? Tell me everything.

He was so well spoken, and clearly adored me. I fell in love. We spent 6 days emailing back and forth, spilling ourselves and lapping each other up, all the birthdays and Fathers Days and Christmases we’d lost being recaptured. I was delirious. One friend said, “You got your Hollywood moment!” and I knew it was blissfully true.

And then our first phone conversation happened. His voice was like melted honey; I couldn’t get enough of it. Sometimes, I would check my phone and find a voicemail from him, just because he wanted to say hi and I love you.

After a week, we knew we should probably tell our significant others – that being my mom and his wife. Mom was over the moon, the happiest I’d seen her in a long time. And Rachel, dad’s wife, was fine with our contact under 2 conditions: 1.) that she be able to read any messages between myself and him, and 2.) that there be absolutely no contact between my dad and my mom.

This seemed fair and understandable. I told dad to let her know that I would abide by this fully. This was about me and my dad getting to know each other; I had no ulterior motives.

Another week of bliss went by. We had reached a nice rhythm of emails and phone calls, but never got around to Skype unfortunately. It would have been nice to see his face in real time, at least once.

All was becoming normal. And then…

Dad: How’s your mother doing? Feel free to pass along my email address to her, so we can say hi.
Me: Dad, you know the conditions. I need to respect them. I’m sorry.
Dad: Don’t be sorry, you’re right. I’m the one who’s sorry.

A couple of days later…

Mom: “So how are things going with your dad? You know, you can pass my email onto him, if you want. It would be nice to catch up.”

More lovely weeks went by, and they didn’t mention each other to me again. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Late May/early June came around, and my mom wanted to go for lunch with me, so we went to our favourite pizza place. I could tell something was different about her, but I couldn’t place my finger on it.
After we ordered our food, she said, “I have a surprise for you.” Tears filled her eyes and she smiled. “I’m in love.”

THAT’S what it was! She looked lighter and happier, with a bit of make-up on. I had never seen her in love before. She’d never dated or brought any men home when I was growing up, and now she had transformed into a giddy teenager right before my eyes. It was foreign and strange, but I was genuinely happy for her.

Wait.

Oh no. No no no no….

“What did you do?”

I’m in love.

What did you do?

Great start to the lunch conversation.

Mom: “Now I know you said you wouldn’t talk to him for me, but I went ahead and tried to find him myself. Miracle of miracles, I did! And it turns out that…*tears*…your dad still loves me and wants to be with me! I still can’t believe it, I’m just so thankful. So he’s going to come to Canada and marry me. We’re going to be a family again! And…I was hoping…you could help me shop for some nice clothes?”

For a moment, in that pizza restaurant, I drifted into an alternate universe where I was thrilled that my mom was finally happy and cared for, and WANTED me to take her SHOPPING.

Double-edged euphoria.

“When did this happen?” I asked.

“About 6 weeks ago. Oh gosh, Carly, you know how terrible I am at keeping good secrets, so I’m quite proud of myself for keeping it THAT long! Ooh, here’s our pizza!”

6 weeks…6 weeks…doing math in my head…Dad and I had reached each other 8 weeks ago…which means that right after I had told them I was going to respect Rachel’s boundaries, they went behind my back and broke them anyway.

“So?” she said. “I know it’ll take some getting used to, but what do you think?”
“Uhmmm…well, what’s happening with Rachel? Does she know what’s going on?”
“Your daddy’s still trying to figure that out. She’s a bit of a bitch, keeps threatening to commit suicide whenever he asks for a divorce. His current idea is to fake his death, and then disappear up here. Of course that would be drastic, but it might be his only way out.”

This is the End…hold your breath and count to 10…feel the earth move and then…hear my heart burst again…for this is the End…I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment…

To be continued…

Lost & Found (Family Matters Part 5)

Liar, Liar. (Family Matters Part 3)

Part 1 and Part 2 are here for you.

“What have you been told about me?”

I had no idea how loaded of a question this was, coming from her side of the story. For a few more days, hours, I would be on Cloud 9, reveling in the joy that I had found my sister at last. I was a child at the county fair for the first time, wide-eyed and wondrous, having no idea that I was about to watch my balloon float aimlessly into the abyss while I retched on the pavement.

With sparkly eyes, I typed furiously : “I mean, not much, just that my dad and my mom were close friends, and mom really wanted a baby, so she asked dad to try to give her one. They knew it would be wrong, but they decided to try it one time, and luckily, it worked. And then we moved away when I was really little so I never actually got to meet any of you. I’m so happy I found you!”

There was silence on the other end for awhile. I waited anxiously where I was house-sitting…playing with the dog, coming back to the computer. Channeling nervous energy into Bugle consumption, back to the computer. Completely alone with 10,000 of my thoughts rushing through me at once.

Where is she? Did I say something wrong? She’s probably just eating lunch too. What if she hates me? She’s a mom of 3 girls, she’s busy, calm your shit. What if everything is about to change?

Finally! A message.

Cassie: I know a very different story, and I’m hesitant to tell you because I don’t want to hurt you or jeopardize our relationship so quickly.

Me: I want to know the truth. Please tell me whenever you can.

An hour later, the crushing pressure that had been building inside my chest all morning spilled out in sobs and muffled curses. I was glad to be alone, although the dog was concerned. As the pup licked my tears away, I felt like she was the only one I trusted in the world.

How could my mother have done this to me, to US? How could she have lied about this for nearly 20 years to my face?

An affair. Of course it was. Nobody just “has a married guy friend who decided to give the gift of a baby to a desperate single woman.”

You ignorant homeschooled hick.

It got worse. Oh, it got worse.

My dad had been a pastor, his wife the church office manager, his mistress the worship leader.

For three years. Before I was even thought of.

When mom got pregnant, she told everyone that she’d “finally” decided to go to the sperm bank cause, after all, she wasn’t gettin’ any younger! The church, friends and family rejoiced.

Cassie had been ecstatic. Mom was like an adopted aunt to her, and they would go on lunch-and-movie dates all the time. When I was born, Cassie babysat me multiple times. SHE F***ING BABYSAT ME, AND SHE HAD NO F***ING CLUE THAT I WAS HER BABY SISTER.

Oh, but our dad. He knew. He probably looked out into his congregation every Sunday and saw his dimply, brown-eyed bastard smiling right back at him.

A little over a year later, his wife finally figured it out.

Everything blew up, within his family, within his church – so my mom took off with me and little else. She’s been on the run ever since.

All those years I never knew why we couldn’t settle down, why we were always moving, why she never had time or desire to play with me as I grew bigger.

Now everything made sense. She had been in love with him, and every time she looked at me, she was reminded of the face she would probably never see again.

I will admit that, at first, most of my anger was self-righteous. I was already sick and tired of hearing about pastors’ infidelities, and now my parents were just another statistic, with seemingly no guilt – only owning up to their secret when they were caught. Yeah, they sound like real Christians to me. Hypocrites; nothing worse than a couple of those.

But then I realized something: nobody is perfect. Nobody is immune to loneliness or desperation or even rationalization when something feels so right it can’t be wrong. Sure, we hold Christians to a higher standard and can be eager to kick them when they fall off the pedestal. But maybe they were never meant to be put on a pedestal in the first place.

Once my high horse became more of a pony, I only felt sadness and hurt for everyone who experienced the ripple effect. My sister was 14 when she learned of the betrayal of those closest to her; it changed her, sent her down a path that would do more harm than good. I’m thankful that she was able to work through her (rightful) emotions and become the counselor for young people that she is today.
My dad’s wife endured the betrayal, the anger, the pain – and she stayed. She’s still with my dad to this day. I can’t speak specifically to the tenderness of their current relationship, but she keeps showing up. I know nothing of my brothers.

Little did I know, at that point, that this chapter of my life was not closed, even though I had made peace with everything – even to the point where I forgave my mom in the silence by never bringing up her past that was now known.

A year later, I would become driven by the need to find my dad and to speak to him for myself. And what do you do when all you have is his name, the field he works in, and a sister not willing to share more?

You hire a hacker, that’s what.

To be continued…

 Skyfall (Family Matters Part 4)

 

 

 

 

And God Said, “Let There Be Facebook.” (Family Matters Part 2)

If you’re just joining me, this is part 2 of a condensed mini-memoir I am conducting, and you can find part 1 right here.

** Some names will be changed to ensure that I don’t receive the Internet equivalent of being drawn and quartered **

In one of my very special Garfield the Cat binders, there contains one very special document, amongst others. It’s a Adult Graduation Dogwood Diploma with my name on it. Perhaps I fibbed a little bit to get accepted legally into the high school — wait, “international student” and “illegal immigrant” AREN’T the same thing?? — but every course I took, every achievement and award I walked away with, was earned honestly. The day of my graduation, I was asked to open our ceremonies with singing the Canadian National Anthem.

No one would ever know the irony of this.

For me, receiving that diploma was the ushering in of a new era. I was determined to make 2007 onwards about me and my life. It was not selfish — it was survival, independence, revolution. Do or die.

Or, at least, do or be deported.

I knew that once I started the paperwork, my life would be changed. I would have to tell the story of how I got into Canada (probably multiple times), pay money that I didn’t have (definitely multiple times), and at the end of it all, there was no guarantee that they would let me stay. I might have to go back to the country I hadn’t set foot on in 10 years.

But I had to try.

My mom wasn’t too happy. She’d spent so many years trying to keep us “safe”, and now I was undoing all of it just so that I could drive, work, travel, get married…I wasn’t trying to be ungrateful, but to her, it certainly felt that way.

Nevertheless, I had turned 21, gotten my nose pierced; why not take the rebellion all the way? So I asked for the names of my Dad, and anyone related to him. It fulfilled my lifelong curiosity, but also prepared me for the possibility of needing family to go to if Canada kicked me out. As far as I had heard, he had been my mom’s best friend-turned-baby-donor, and he was a good man (despite the fact that he was married with kids when I was born). He would take care of me if I needed him.

I sat on the information for awhile. All I had were names, and I didn’t necessarily know what to do with them. You can put a lot of fantastical expectation into a name, and my little-girl heart was picturing all kinds of heartwarming reunions…but what if all I actually got was the door slammed in my face?

I decided to start small, testing the familial waters with my toes. I would try to find my Dad’s other daughter, my half-sister Cassie Winters, on Facebook. I prepared for a million and one Cassie Winters’ to pop up.

Only one name appeared. One. And it wasn’t hers. Cassie Pope.

She was probably married by now, but still, it’s not like Winters was included in my results. This one name came completely out of left field.

And then I saw her profile picture. 3 small girls, mirror images of me when I was that age. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, beyond Facebook search technicalities, that I’d found my sister.

So I private-messaged her. “Hi, my name is Carly Butler, and I’m looking for relatives in the States. I’ve been told that my father’s name is Matthew Winters, and I wonder if you know him?” I kept it pretty nonchalant, just in case.

Less than 12 hours later, I had a response.

“Hi. My father is also Matthew Winters, and I believe you are my half-sister. I wondered when this day would come.”

To be continued…

 Liar, Liar. (Family Matters Part 3)

The Ties That Bind (Family Matters Part 1)

On April 1st, I crossed a line that I’ve never made before: I have now been in a relationship for 2 whole  years.

With the same person.

Who has the same feelings for me.

It’s kind of exhilarating.

 

More than anything, I want to create a family with him. And now that we know that we are capable of keeping an animal alive (plants are a whole different ballgame and should NOT count), I find myself thinking about babies more and more.

I mean, who am I kidding — I’ve been thinking about babies ever since I discovered that math had been invented purely to make my life miserable.

But now, it’s becoming so real.

A good 50% of me wants the typical things: the cute maternity clothes, the baby bump, feeling those little butterfly kicks for the first time, preparing a room full of clothes and toys and Pinterest-inspired decor that I’m most definitely going to rely on. Arguing Deciding on a name or four. Watching his eyes fill with tears as he holds his child for the first time.

I want it bad.
But the other 50% of is just plain curious. I’ve never been able to look at someone related to me, and realize, “Ah yes, those are my eyes,” or “Oh dear, THAT’S where that trait comes from.”

Will I experience that?

What if the Baby Buttons aren’t like us at all, but rather, a rogue leaf that falls from the high-high-high-up side of the family tree and lands on my kick-ass uterus?

It’s just so weird to me.

Maybe kids that are adopted feel the exact same way, especially after they’ve grown up and are ready to start families of their own. If their biological parents are completely closed to them, they might not have a single frame of reference other than themselves.

The thing is, I’m not adopted. I have a mom and a dad and siblings, and nieces that look like miniature versions of me.

Yet my mom is the only one I have seen face to face.

And this…is why.

 

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Part One

I was about 6 when I realized that my family unit was a little different. My friends at school and church had moms AND dads, grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and cousins. Even second cousins.

But for me, there was just Mom.

She never shared many details with me, but here is what I do know.

Her parents were Floridian Baptist Missionaries who served in Cuba and the Dominican Republic during the 1940’s. Their first child, my uncle Chuck, was born in Cuba in 1942, just before all missionaries were kicked out of the country. They fled to the Dominican Republic, which was only slightly less hostile. My mom claims that when she was born in 1948, the doctor almost “accidentally” let her roll off of the operating table.

Less than two years later, my grandpa Frank came down with a mysterious illness and died a few days after. I don’t suspect any foul play; I do have the feeling that this illness would not be so mysterious today, probably even preventable.

Mom doesn’t remember her dad at all, or the mission field. Grandma Dorothy-Elizabeth didn’t want to raise her 8 year old son and a toddler in a foreign country on her own, so she went back home to her sisters in Florida. Great-Aunt Lois and Great-Aunt Marj became the glue that held the family together…for awhile.

My uncle Chuck grew up angry and rebellious. He was old enough to remember his dad and the fact that he left far too early without an explanation. He would take my mom to school in a brand-new Corvette in the mornings, while resisting all laws of authority in the same vehicle late in the night.

Grandma’s quiet strength, the iron rod of Aunt Lois and the cheeky quirks of Aunt Marj were no match for Chuck’s thunderous ways; it wasn’t long before he set out on his own, determined to become a pilot.

This determination was cut tragically short by a drunken B & E at the hangar, followed by an illegal and fatal joy ride.

My mom was 18 when she donned a mourning shroud once again, this time fully aware of the loss she faced.

It would be nearly another 20 years before Dorothy-Jean would open her heart again.

In an attempt to close the holes, she traveled. Studied. Wrote music. Offered professional therapy to those in need. Made vinyl records. Failed in finding The Perfect Man. Lost her mom and her aunts to various forms of cancer.

Loneliness overtook her. As she approached 40 years of life, she realized that something was missing. Me.

And so she began a journey of lying, stealing and cheating to achieve me. A cycle that couldn’t be stopped even after she got me.

I would not know the truth until 2008.

The Truth will set you free.

And, quite possibly, destroy everything you’ve known.

To be continued…

And God Said, “Let There Be Facebook.” (Family Matters Part 2)

Van Halen’s Mascot is a House Sheep

At this point, if you’ve been with me for awhile, it’s probably no secret that I married a bit of a rock star. If you’re just joining the readership (which has grown exponentially in the past few days — THANK YOU!!!), then I’ll fill you in here and here.

Either way, the story I’m about to tell is wild.

After the fateful night at Bogey’s Pub (referenced above), Steve started attending band practices, with his co-worker/David Lee Roth counterpart, on Sunday afternoons. Because, as we all know, the Sabbath day was created to be kept holy and wholly rockin’.
He would usually leave the house around 3 and come back in time for dinner and relaxing with me before the busy work week started again. But two days ago, everything changed.

David Lee Roth threw BBQ ribs into the mix, inviting me to come along, to eat and be groupies with his girlfriend. I was so in.

We headed out around 6. I’d never been to David Lee Roth’s house before, but by the time we got there, I was truly lost. Langley City is crammed with houses, townhouses, apartments and the like, but outside of it, there’s just acreage after acreage with ranchers and mansions and grids of endless streets. If there is such a thing as the “middle of nowhere” in the city, this was it.

DL Roth lives on a farm with a fancy gate, and since he wasn’t home yet by the time we got there, we waited outside for awhile. This is where the legendary Keith Urban/Miranda Lambert/Don Henley/Anastasia soundtrack mash-up would come to be born.

Finally, everyone showed up and we were let inside the gate. My jaw dropped. There was a pond with ducks on it, while goats and sheep roamed freely in the yard. It was such a call-back to my childhood that I experienced rosy-eyed nostalgia for a brief moment.

And then I entered the house.

Soon, it became clear that I was in a den of porn and horror.

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Only a BB gun, I realize now, but it was HEAVY and had a SCOPE. We could still be murdered with it.

 

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The real David Lee Roth being sexual in the corner.

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Nice Victorian portrait, right?

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Tilt your head to the right and think again.

Of course, I don’t have pictures of the actual porn, but let’s just say that the phrase “graduating magna cum laude” is a punchline I don’t ever want to see again…

So yeah. This is where my husband goes on Sunday afternoons. Not weird at all.

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60% hardcore, 30% terrified, 10% I don’t even know.

Here’s the thing though: once I realized that I wasn’t going to die here, these people were really interesting, and I wouldn’t hesitate to hang out with them again. They’ve all taken way too many substances, but they have stories. In many cases, it was that they survived to tell the tale.

Like the bass player who was in Hyder, Alaska in 1991 (where my mom is hiding out from the Apocalypse, ya’ll) for his 23rd birthday, got drunk, stole a horse, got bucked off, and then had someone stop by in a truck and say, “If that was my horse, I’d shoot YOU too!” before peeling out.

Or David Lee Roth’s girlfriend, whose son died in a car accident 9 years ago, and she still feels like it happened yesterday.

Or David Lee Roth himself, being told “Hey man, love your voice!” by Gene Simmons, or doing a floor-laying job on Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver and having the floor cave in beneath him to reveal two skeletons. Not bodies, skeletons. And it’s still not known how they got there.

Steve and I laughed, gave each other weird looks, and ate an ungodly amount of BBQ ribs at 10pm like teenagers.

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Shit shit shit. Mushrooms on my blog, mushrooms on my blog. Must…cleanse…

 

And, of course, there was rock and roll.

 

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The only porn I need.

But WAIT. I am saving the best part for last.

After we ate the ribs and jammed and packed up the gear, I met someone.

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This…is Eve.

Eve is the house sheep.

I repeat: The Van Halen Porn Farm has a HOUSE SHEEP.

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She eats, in the house.

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She makes Steve feel uncomfortable, in the house.

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She baa’s majestically during selfies because she is precious and perfect, in the house.

So basically, from now on, my Sunday afternoons are booked. No shame in my Sabbath game, friends!

What’s the weirdest house you’ve ever been in? If you could have any house creature, what would it be? Did I write the word “porn” too much today?