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Archive for the ‘Baby Howie’ Category

You See Dead People? I See Trains. No, I Really Do.

In Baby Howie, Celebrity Obsessions, Peanut, Tolkien on September 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Is it September already? Where has the time gone? What have I been doing? What is this strange device in front of me with little buttons and a screen? And what is the meaning of life?

I’m not sure how three months have passed since my last post, but I’ll quickly recap what we’ve been up to: recovering, working, being in the weddings of close friends, Peanut starting preschool, Peanut’s 3rd birthday party (during the planning of which Tolkien said “After this, I don’t know if I’m going to have the energy to plan her wedding”), traveling, and the next thing you know the summer had gotten away from us. But we are all doing well and are secretly looking forward to a calmer autumn.

So the Peanut has turned 3. She started school this year, a wrenching transition for Tolkien and I but not for her. We ended up enrolling her in the infamous school with the horses, mainly because I ran out of time to see many other schools before my surgery and treatment, but she seems to be having a really good time and always wants to go back. It’s hard for me to see her be out of the house so much, but I try to remind myself that a) we wanted her to have the socialization of being with a large group of kids, and b) nothing is set in stone. I have a lot of conflicting feelings about what the best schooling situation is in this day and age, which is a topic for another post, and I’m sure we’ll go back and forth in the coming years on where she should be educated.

In the meantime, though, it’s been an eventful year. And when we look back on 2012, do you know what we’ll remember? That it was the Year of Thomas.

Don’t look so smug, Tommy.

This was the year that the Peanut became obsessed with Thomas the Train. I never watched it or read the books myself, so I didn’t know anything about it, but Baby Howie showed her an episode once on a rainy day and something about it immediately captured her feverish little imagination. Here are the proofs of her devotion:

  • She is allowed to watch 30 minutes of television a day, and for the past 4 months she has always insisted that the only thing she wants is Thomas. She has actually committed toddler blasphemy and said, “I don’t like Elmo. I only like Thomas.” (I think she said that for the shock value. I can’t imagine she means it.)
  • She has memorized all of the trains’ names. They all look the same to me, but she knows the minute differences between each one. Sample conversation: Me: “Is that Emily?” Peanut: (looking at me with real concern, as if maybe someone should drug-test her mother) “No Mama. That’s Edward. Emily’s eyebrows are rounder.”
  • Every single morning when she wakes up, the very first thing she says is “Today we’re going to have a PICNIC PARTY for [insert name of random train here]!”
  • The owner of our local consignment store thinks I’m the “train lady” and, whenever she sees me, immediately tells me if they have a new batch in.
  • Tolkien and I find ourselves singing “They’re 2, they’re 4, they’re 6, they’re 8 …” under our breath all day at work. Peanut scolds us if we don’t sing it in a British accent, as she does. (And now it can be stuck in your head too. You’re welcome.)

  • Our house is overrun with Thomas paraphernalia because family and friends heard Peanut’s breathless chatter and got her Thomas items for her birthday.
  • The sheer awe Peanut felt each time she found out family members had the same first or middle names as various trains was truly astounding — you could just see her admiring the luck one must have in life to be named after a celebrity.

But here’s the thing … for the last several days, she has started requesting Elmo again during TV time. And here we are, surrounded by Thomas toys and books that we bought used or received as gifts, and not willing to let their time be over so soon. I mean, how wasteful is that? Really, this character toy thing is such a scam! And the people who own the Thomas trademark totally milk this. Do you know that not only is there a never-ending supply of different trains, buses, planes and more, but they make each one with different expressions and in different seasons? I have come up with a very scientific equation to calculate their profit margin:

x number of characters x y number of expressions x 4 seasons = a year’s income and a spoiled generation

Happy Summer Percy

Sad Winter Percy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We just can’t do this every few months with whatever new book or toy Peanut pulls into her relentless embrace!

So I now find myself in the position of trying to get her back into Thomas and His Innumerable Friends. “Let’s play with Thomas! Isn’t Thomas so cool? I love Thomas!” (As my inner self apologizes to God for these blatant lies.) Next I think I’ll start reading them to her in her sleep. Since I can already recite them in mine.

Dear heaven, I hope something in here will be on my medical boards.

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Merci … Gracias … Danke Schon … Thank You

In Baby Howie, Christianity, My thyroid, Peanut, Tolkien on April 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Whew … and here I am on the other side!

It’s probably getting old to hear, but I just can’t thank everyone enough for all your support and love. The calls, messages, gifts and most of all your prayers have been such a blessing and comfort to us all. Although I am weeks behind on thanking everyone personally, know that I will catch up and we are so grateful! Most of all, we are so thankful to God for having carried us this far, and for letting me be able to honestly say that if having cancer surgery can ever be a positive experience, this was a positive experience.

Tolkien and Baby Howie accompanied me to the hospital Monday morning while my mom and dad cared for Peanut at home. Man, what a relief that we were able to do this at our hospital of choice, where Tolkien is a resident. Like most urban academic hospitals, this one is huge, and just the simple fact that Tolkien knows his way around (I don’t work there, so I would have been lost) made everything easier. And then of course knowing people on staff is always a stress-reliever as well. The anesthesiology team told me I’d be one of their family, which doesn’t actually make any difference in the medical care I’d receive, but still is nice to hear in the minutes before you go under the knife.

From my perspective, the best thing to happen that day was when my surgeon came by to check in with me beforehand, heard about my endocrinologist’s plan to make me hypothyroid, and said he’d get me in for a second opinion with [prominent academic hospital]’s endocrinology department the next day. When I had tried to schedule a second opinion myself, there was an eight-week waiting list. This endocrinology thing has been a big pain; although my old endocrinologist was perfectly nice, he wasn’t necessarily someone I’d have chosen. My PCP got me an appointment with him. In general, my bias is to select doctors who are young, recently out of training, because a) I feel like you can talk to them more like a peer, and b) they may be more familiar with whatever the latest treatments and procedures are in their field. Obviously this is a total generalization and is not really fair to the many excellent older practitioners out there (and doesn’t take into account the benefit of years of experience.)  But in this one case, my bias was correct, because this endocrinologist’s treatment plan was different from what all our endocrinologist friends, as well as the two surgeons I saw, were recommending. Tolkien and I were well aware of that, and yet didn’t have much choice if I couldn’t get an appointment with anyone else for months. Additionally, I was already questioning whether I should stay with him because it took him 10 days to return my phone call/e-mail with an important question, and he wasn’t on vacation. Now, I understand perfectly how crazily busy a day in private practice can be, but 10 days is a little ridiculous. So in all, it was really incredible that my surgeon was able to do this for me. We didn’t end up seeing the new endocrinologist while I was in the hospital (insurance issues) but we did go back to see him a few days later. And I now do not have to be hypothyroid for weeks, which is great. They started me on thyroid replacement medication right away. When I have radioactive iodine treatment in a few weeks, they’ll use a newer injectable medication to prepare my body instead of the weeks of uncomfortable hypothyroidism you used to have to go through. My endocrinologist friends will be glad to hear I am actually going to be able to do what you all have recommended! Suffice to say, I’ve transferred my care to the new endocrinologist. And am very grateful to my surgeon.

But back to the day of surgery. So I remember everything up through walking down the hall to the operating room with the nurse anesthetist, lying down on the operating table while they hooked EKG leads up to me and started running the medications into my IV, and the anesthesiologist asking what my daughter’s name was. I noticed that the objects in the room were starting to get wavy. The very last thing I remember is me asking her what her kids’ names were. I never heard her answer. The next thing I remember is seeing a very hazy Tolkien next to my bed (it was 6 hours later) and saying “I’m so confused.” That, of course, is what remember. What Tolkien says I actually said was, “I’m so confused. I’m really very confused. Where’s Words With Friends?” Which is weird, because although most new interests of mine quickly become obsessions, that game has not. (Don’t tell Alec Baldwin.)

But I gradually woke up, ended up in my room, and had a nice evening with Tolkien and Baby Howie. The surgery went really well and the lymph nodes appear to be negative. Praise God! The pain was not that bad (having a C-section was much worse) and I had no nausea at all, which is really a miracle and probably the main reason I felt this was a positive experience. Personally, I think nausea is a worse sensation than pain; and according to the research on post-op surveys, apparently most patients agree with me. And it’s lucky I’d rather have pain than nausea (within reason), since this was the third time (wisdom teeth extraction, C-section, and now thyroidectomy) that pain medication didn’t affect my pain at all. For that reason, I don’t think I’m in much danger of ever becoming a prescription-drug addict, but I also hope I don’t ever really need pain management for some reason, because I’ll be reduced to chewing on oak bark or whatever we used to do in the pre-opioid age.

The next day my dad relieved Baby Howie at the hospital, I was discharged, and Peanut and I went with my parents to their house out-of-state. Since then I have been resting while my parents wrangle a very energetic, very strong-willed two-and-a-half-year-old who believes that it is totally inappropriate for her mother not to be waiting on her hand and foot, and has the media been notified of this? I’m on lifting restrictions for two weeks (no lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs.) so I can’t pick her up or do much of her care, and of course she can see my surgical incision, which makes her very interested in the nature, and projected duration, of these proceedings. “Mama,” she asked me, “when we go home will your boo-boo be better, and can you drive me, and feed me, and carry me, and give me baths, and take me to the library, and take me to the park …” Basically, she wanted to know, do I have any intention of fulfilling my duties, or does she need to place an ad for a replacement? Ah, the brains of toddlers!

But Peanut can rest easy because overall, I’m doing pretty well. The pain is minimal at this point. My scar is obvious but not too bad, and will take a year to fully mature, so may be significantly less noticeable by then. I am tired, but that’s to be expected as it may take a little while to adjust my dosage of thyroid medication. So I’m so thankful to have my parents and in-laws nearby to take care of me and the Peanut and to give me this recovery time; I can’t imagine doing this without them. Tolkien and Baby Howie were here for the weekend and we had several friends and family come to visit, which was much appreciated although I was probably not very enchanting company (next time I will endeavour to be witty and fully awake, I promise.)

This journey isn’t over yet, but everything up until now could hardly have gone better. And we know that is due to the grace of God and to the power of the multitude of prayers you have made for us, from e-mailed Bible verses to fasting for us to the prayer conference call on the day of surgery. Thank you so much, dear friends, and let us return the gift for you by giving us your prayer requests. And of course we’re remembering Psalm 107:1 at this time: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” It’s naptime for me … but soon hopefully I’ll be back to my multitasking self!

Oh, and that post-surgical milkshake? Oreo cookies and cream — and delicious 🙂

On the Morrow

In Baby Howie, Christianity, Medicine, My thyroid, Tolkien on April 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm

So this is it. The last night for the two of us, me and my thyroid.

I never gave my thyroid the slightest thought before ten weeks ago, but I must admit that now I feel a little twinge at the realization that tomorrow, this organ that has been with me since the day I was born, from the beginning to the end of every day I have ever had, that has traveled with me wherever in the world I have been, will be labeled “Human Waste” and discarded. Seems so ignominious, doesn’t it? Oh well. Obviously, I am really excited to be moving forward. After surgery, Peanut and I will be going to my parents’ house for two weeks with Tolkien visiting on any days off. After that, my in-laws will be coming for a week to stay with us. So we’re really grateful to have such supportive family and friends. And thanks to all of you for your love and prayers — I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I can’t say it enough.

Tolkien saw my name pop up on the hospital surgical schedule last week, which is kind of a weird feeling. You’re so used to patients’ names being the names of relative strangers, not loved ones. But he was allowed to select my anesthesiology team, which is one of the reasons we wanted to be at this particular hospital. When he talked to the anesthesiologist assigned to me, she promised to be generous with my anti-nausea meds, since I have every risk factor for post-op nausea. (Having had really terrible nausea during my pregnancy with Peanut, I’m not surprised.) So that’s one thing I’m not looking forward to. Things, however, that I AM looking forward to:

1) There’s a famous milkshake place that delivers to this hospital but is too far to deliver to our house. I never thought I’d get to partake of one of these much-lauded concoctions that Tolkien gets to enjoy on call. But post-op, since I’m going to be starving after having been NPO for a day, but will be on a liquid diet, Tolkien and Baby Howie have promised me we will order some.

2) A sort-of vacation! Is it sad that I’m looking at recovering from major surgery as a vacation? Well, Tolkien and I haven’t had a real vacation in 4 years, and won’t have one for at least another year, so I will take what I can get! I’m stocking up on reading materials and pajamas as we speak. My endocrinologist is now planning on starting radioactive iodine treatment right after surgery, so the two weeks of recovery will also be used to make me hypothyroid in preparation. This will make for a more uncomfortable two weeks, but will kill two birds with one stone (rather than having to have a separate two weeks of letting my thyroid hormone levels drop later.) I’m hoping I won’t be too miserable to concentrate on my Nook books and Seasons 1 and 2 of Downton Abbey (thanks to my dear friend Sandy!) And of course I have work I’m hoping to catch up on too.

3) Seeing how the Lord will use this to His glory. As Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them and you will have them.” And 1 Peter 2:24b: “… by His wounds you have been healed” — past tense!

Thank you again, all of you, for praying that God will be with us and the medical team, and hope to be blogging again soon!

Opinion-Sharing With the Woman Behind Kelly Kapoor

In Baby Howie, Books, Celebrity Obsessions, Christianity, Tolkien on December 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

My family has always had that stoic Indian thing going on wherein one generally remains responsible and thoughtful as much as possible and avoids unnecessary emotional outbursts. (Read: all emotional outbursts.) This translates into some very pragmatic Christmas traditions, such as not wrapping our gifts to each other because they’ll just be unwrapped anyway. We are Christians, so it’s not like the holiday isn’t important to us, it’s just that it’s always been a religious occasion first, a gift-giving occasion second. I believe in this philosophy 100% myself, so that’s totally cool. (Although I will admit that once Tolkien and I got married, my family and I did start trying to throw around some tissue paper every December so as not to totally horrify him, the child of a family that recreates a Norman Rockwell Christmas every year.) Anyway, my brother Baby Howie, who you will remember is not a baby and is not named Howie, went one step further and, when ordering my Christmas gift online on Black Friday, just had it delivered directly to my house. I opened it on Dec. 3. I am proud to be the latest, very late owner of an e-reader. We will see how and if this revamps my life. And the first e-book I purchased was Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

I was going to use a picture of me reading the book, but it's an e-book. It'd just be a picture of me and a 7-ounce electronic device sitting on the couch.

I know that to be cool I should pretend it makes no difference to me that we’re both Indian and around the same age, but dude, that’s totally why I like her. Plus she writes and acts on my favourite show. (As an aside, I just love that four of NBC’s current hit shows have major Indian characters whose Indianness is incidental, not pointed out at every opportunity for cheap laughs. Outsourced excepted.) Of course her book was great and made me laugh out loud, but the thing that really hit me was how much I agreed with one of her essays, entitled “Don’t Peak in High School.”

In the ongoing debate about why kids from some ethnic backgrounds tend to do much better in school than others, the basic American assumption that high school should be the best years of your life, filled with dating and sports and parties, has got to be given some blame. I always remember my great-uncle, the father of three Ivy League grads who are now well-adjusted professionals, telling a story about how his daughter’s high school guidance counselor balked at her challenging course schedule because it didn’t “leave room for her social life.” To my relatives, the very idea is preposterous. Academics need to be arranged around a social life? Are you in school to prepare for a lucrative career or to increase your chances of getting voted “Best Legs” in the yearbook? Teen books and TV shows programmed me to think I was deprived because high school was definitely not the best four years of my life (of course, moving to a new country in the twelfth grade didn’t help), but as Mindy points out, they were wrong and we were right. You know what the best four years of my academic life were? Not high school, not even college, but medical school. For the first time I was around hundreds of driven people who had the same goals I did and weren’t afraid of people seeing them working hard, but who also believed in playing hard too. It was brain-enhancing and socially stimulating at the same time. In all, it was so much fun, and it was made more so with the added knowledge that we were all headed for a life of public service and gainful employment. As Mindy says, where are the kids from that stupid “Jack and Diane” song now? Pumping gas? The day that: 1) crowds of spectators show up at Math League events instead of football games, 2) dating is seen as something you do in your twenties to find a good spouse, and 3) hanging out with your family is considered just as cool and important as hanging out with your friends, is the day this country’s educational standings will start rising. Mark my immigrant-child words.

I also really liked MK’s anecdotes about the kindness Amy Poehler showed to her. One of the things that having gone through a major move at a crucial time in my teenage life taught me was exactly what it feels like to be a new kid on the outside. It’s really nice to hear that some people remember that even after they’ve made it big. And I think I agree with MK that the single funniest moment on The Office was when Michael is driving along smugly talking about how much he cares for his employees and then promptly breaks Meredith’s pelvis with his car. That was hilarious. But I’d probably have to rewatch all 7 seasons to make my final determination. (I’ll use any excuse.)

For the record, though, I do not agree with MK that cap sleeves should be worn by no one. Are you telling me this is not cute?

Or this?

I didn’t think so.

Hunt for Fed October

In Baby Howie, Canada, Food, Peanut on October 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm

It’s my favourite month of the year, friends. (I know, and it’s the 27th day of that month, but let’s put those blinders on.) I’ve always loved October. It’s the month most closely associated with my favourite season, autumn, and I can never think of October without thinking of brilliantly-coloured leaves flaming forth from trees and blanketing the earth. The air is crisp and cool, with the muggy hair-ruining days of summer behind us and the snow-shoveling days of winter still a safe distance ahead of us. It’s the time of year when it’s not only acceptable to start thinking of ways to combine pumpkin and chocolate, it’s unacceptable not to. For some reason, October always makes me think of home.

I’m unreasonably nostalgic about everything. Because my family moved from Canada to the U.S. when I was 17, and I fought it the whole way, Canada and my entire childhood have taken on a utopian tinge in my feverish mind. Although we moved several times within Canada too, the house where I lived from the ages of 7 to 17 is unquestionably home for me. On nearly every trip back we have parked outside that house and sat in the car just looking, and no doubt attracting the suspicion of local authorities. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the nerve to knock on the door one day and ask to see the inside again; probably not. And maybe it’s better to remember it the way it was, and not see it filled with other people’s mismatched bedroom furniture. (I want my old mismatched furniture!) But anyway, back in the day, behind our house was a creek and a forest. The forest has long since been cut down and a townhouse development has been built in its place, but when I was a kid there was something so poetic about that view. It was something so romantic in the Anne of Green Gables-sense of the word, where romance doesn’t connote a relationship between lovers but a sense of being in the presence of something large and mystical. So often the weather in October would be cold, grey and rainy, and it was so cozy to come in from that weather to our warm house, an afterschool snack (ah, Jos Louis), a good book, and that view.

October is also home to my favourite holiday, Halloween. I was obsessed with Halloween when I was little. My Halloween costume-planning began sometime soon after Labour Day. I was able to come up with marginally original ideas, but alas I am no artistic genius, and thus the execution of said costumes usually left something to be desired. Among other things, I was a blob of paint, a bunch of grapes, the aforementioned-Anne of Green Gables, and a bag of trash. My cousin Ronnie, after moving to the area, often got roped into these shenanigans. Along with Baby Howie, the three of us would doll ourselves up, then go trick-or-treating for hours around the neighbourhood, occasionally making pit stops at home to empty our pillowcases and make room for more loot, and eventually come home to settle in for the next phase of the night: sorting through our bounty and trading with each other for the best stuff. We had a very elaborate value system assigned to each type of candy. I don’t remember much about it except that Coffee Crisps were at the top of the pyramid, with one of those babies being worth about 42 of anything else, and any item that could be even remotely construed as having some health value (raisins, I’m looking at you) being used as hamster cage lining. We did this until I was sixteen. That fact doesn’t even embarrass me.

An ACTUAL bag of trash may have been more appealing.

This year will be the first year that I am the parent of a trick-or-treater on Halloween. The Peanut is two, so still not really old enough to understand what’s going to happen next week, although she knows she’s going to be a lion and is taking every opportunity to practice her roar. Because, as previously mentioned, I am not all that crafty, I can’t rely on myself to make any halfway decent costume, so I have to go with what’s in the stores. But I am going to enjoy this time while I have it, these years when I am still bigger than P and can wrestle her into the ensemble of my choosing. And I’m probably not going to feel very guilty about it.

Exhibit A.

Through my extensive research, I have also learned that October is National Pork Month as well as 3D Ultrasound Awareness Month. So there you have it. 31 days is hardly long enough to cram in all these celebrations, especially if you’re getting a late start like me. Only 4 more days to find some bacon and an ultrasound technician. And to stuff myself with candy. I’ll keep you posted.

Don’t Tell Gloria Steinem

In Baby Howie, Peanut on May 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Those of you who knew Baby Howie when he was growing up may remember his frighteningly accurate, Rain Man-esque knack for car trivia.  As a small child he memorized the make, model and license plate of every family in our church, schools and neighbourhood.  If you ever wanted to know who was at a party before you walked in, you just asked a 3-year-old BH to identify the automobiles parked up and down the street.  His love of cars may have expanded and grown up, but it has never waned in intensity.  I don’t get this at all, but I was heretofore able to let him wallow in his own internal motor-vehicle-love nest to his heart’s content since it didn’t affect me.  Now, however … it’s personal.  There are signs that he may have passed this bizarre quality onto his niece.

The Peanut has recently been making comments (in her 20-month-old, chipmunk voice) that have stopped us in our tracks.  For example, our friend Y has a black Cadillac.  One day at church, in a parking lot filled with hundreds if not over a thousand cars, Peanut pointed to one and said loudly, “Y’s car!”  I looked, and at first had no idea what she was talking about.  Y would have no reason to be there, and I didn’t see his car.  But I soon realized that she was actually pointing at another Cadillac.  It wasn’t even the same colour as Y’s, and didn’t look much like his car at all to my untrained eye, yet she was insistently pointing at that specific car over and over again.

Another time, she pointed at a silver Jeep and said, “Baby Howie’s car!”  (She doesn’t actually call her uncle Baby Howie, but you get the picture.)  This was slightly less impressive, because that car really did look exactly the same as BH’s – same colour, model, and, uh, that’s all I know about what distinguishes cars from each other.  But then she said, “And Aunty’s car!”  Aunty (who is her little friend A’s mom) also has a Jeep, but it doesn’t look anything like BH’s or the car Peanut was pointing at.  For me, someone who has trouble telling a Hummer from a Prius, this was mystifying.

I know, I know, it’s really annoying when people babble about their kids as if they’re mini-geniuses because they manage to walk upright.  I’m not saying that here.  What I actually find interesting about the possibility that Peanut may grow up to have a thing for cars is that it has revealed to me my inner sexist.  I’m astounded!  I mean, I’m all for equality of the sexes and all that, but … I’m still shocked!  It’s not like I don’t know there are plenty of women out there who love cars.  But somehow, just because I’m a girl and I’ve never cared about them, I assumed that my daughter would be the same way.  And whether this turns out to be just a short-lived phase, or she grows up to be some sort of automobile expert, doesn’t matter to us — it’s just intriguing and amusing right now.

BH, however, is nothing short of thrilled with this development.  He has started putting together a strict vehicular curriculum for the Peanut (forget Sesame Street) that consists largely of carefully selected episodes of Top Gear.

I’m telling you right now, if we end up with a female Petrolhead, she is still going to wear pigtails.  I’m not budging on that one.

That’s What She Said

In Baby Howie, Celebrity Obsessions, Tolkien on March 13, 2011 at 1:21 am

Given my somewhat obsessive personality, it’s rather surprising that I am not a rabid follower of more TV shows.  This is mainly a function of time, in that I don’t have any.  When I was a carefree youth, I cultivated my lifelong love of Full House (and no matter what he tells you, Baby Howie was a very willing partner in crime in this endeavour.)  But though that admittedly slightly lame show will always hold a place in my heart, I eventually moved on to my current love: the American version of The Office

One John.

Two Johns.

More articulate writers than I have already noted that The Office‘s charm comes from its mastery of the awkward moment.  Personally, I also love its commitment to subtlety.  There’s something very respectable about having enough confidence in your audience that you don’t feel you need to hit them over the head with your humour.  As exemplified by the fact that the framed certificate hanging behind Michael’s desk reads “Congratulations!  You are the proud owner of a Seyko timepiece” — which is of course misspelled, and which to my knowledge has never actually been mentioned in the show.  I appreciate that they’re just counting on us to notice it.  And then there are some awesome lines, such as the following choice vignettes:

Phyllis: Does everyone know my boyfriend, Bob Vance?

Kevin: Kevin Malone.

Bob: Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration.

Stanley: Stanley Hudson.

Bob: Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration.

Ryan: Ryan Howard.

Bob: Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration.

[pause]

Ryan: What line of work you in, Bob?

… and:

Michael: You know what they say the best medicine is.

Kevin: Well the doctor said a combination of interferon and dacarbazine.

Michael: Well, and laughter, also.

… and:

Kevin: Hey Jan, you went to a sperm bank?

Jan: Uh, yes, I did.

Kevin: I donated sperm.

Jan:  Oh.

Kevin: Maybe I’m the father.

Jan: Well this is a highly exclusive establishment.

Kevin: The one behind the IHOP?

[Silence]

Jan: (to the camera) It’s not Kevin’s child. Can’t possibly be. I mean, I don’t know what I would do. Sue… icide?

… and:

Jim: This is parkour. Internet sensation of 2004. And it was in one of the Bond films. It’s pretty impressive. The goal is to get from point A to point B as creatively as possible, so technically, they are doing parkour, as long as point A is “delusion” and point B is “the hospital.”

But the thing I like most about this show, and I don’t think I am in the minority here, is Jim and Pam (or in diehard online-Office parlance, JAM.)  Their romance has been so sweet, so understated, and so funny throughout the arc of the show.  Who can forget Jim’s longing for Pam?  Or what was possibly their most defining on-screen moment?

(You can watch a much better-quality version of the full scene here: http://www.nbc.com/The_Office/video/casino-night-highlight-2/116171/)

The show has definitely not been the same over the past few seasons.  At this point, it’s looking like it peaked in Season 2.  (In fact, this used to be Tolkien’s and my favourite show, but T can hardly bear to watch it anymore.)  And the impending departure of Michael Scott (I heard Steve Carell taped his final scene last week) cannot be anything but bad news.  But it’s OK, because we’ll always have the old days on DVD.  And you know what else?  Bears.  Beets.  Battlestar Galactica.

Successfully Restored: Sanity. Also, Fear.

In Baby Howie, Politics, Tolkien on November 4, 2010 at 3:45 am

So Tolkien, my younger brother Baby Howie (although he is not a baby and his name is not Howie) and I took a little trip to attend the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear in Washington, D.C. this weekend.  Not because we are such huge fans of Stewart or Colbert (who has time to catch any show regularly these days) but because so many friends and people we knew were attending and because we try not to turn down opportunities to participate in ridiculous things.  While I, like most people, definitely think Stewart and Colbert are funny, I was a little worried that the whole thing would be too uber-liberal for my taste.  One of the problems with being a political moderate is that, instead of remaining able to see all viewpoints, you usually just end up being annoyed by (and probably annoying) both sides of the debate.  However, my fears were unfounded.  While there were of course a few extremists here and there, the overarching theme of the rally seemed to be a polite request for a return to civil discourse.  And that, I can totally get behind.  I hate the current tendency in our society to completely discount opposing opinions by tarring them as coming from people who must be stupid or inbred or the like.  There are plenty of intelligent Democrats and plenty of intelligent Republicans (and I think this can be extrapolated to any country’s political parties.)  I wish we could all assume that people who don’t vote the way we vote might have very good, well-thought-out reasons for doing so.  I’m not saying we have to agree with them, I’m just asking for the basic respect that that would entail.  (In my next blog post I’ll draw out the map to my hometown, Utopia.)

So anyway, the rally was satisfying in the sense that it seemed to be attended by others who were likeminded in their desire to see a return to civility and, well, sanity, and it didn’t matter at all that we weren’t likeminded in our politics.  The only disappointing thing was that Comedy Central seemed to have grossly underestimated the number of people who would be attending (I don’t see how that’s possible, given that the Washington Post was predicting numbers in the hundreds of thousands for days beforehand) or just didn’t care to prepare, because things just seemed to be vastly smaller than necessary.  Public transportation was totally overwhelmed — crowds were 6 people deep at the Metro stations and no one could squeeze onto the bursting trains.  Once we gave up on that and headed back above ground, not a single taxi was to be found or called for.  Once we got a ride from a benevolent friend, we could not get within ten blocks of the stage due to the crowds, and there were hardly any screens or speakers set up, so after all the effort it took to get there (including roping my generous parents into providing a day of childcare for the Peanut) we couldn’t hear or see a thing.  T, BH and I eventually gave up and decided to find a bar where we could watch the rally on TV, but getting there was no easier either, given that the National Mall was a veritable can of sardines.  As many of you know, I am the very opposite of claustrophobic (claustrophilic, if you will … I love dark enclosed spaces) but for the first time I can remember I was actually a bit afraid of the crowd.  We were nearly crushed by the teeming mass of people, and could not move anywhere of our own will — we were literally pushed along wherever the wave felt like taking us.  I had the frightening, and not inaccurate, thought that if anyone was unfortunate enough to fall, they would be trampled to death.  And being short in a massive crowd does not help the psyche.  Plus, the cell phone service providers were all ALSO totally overwhelmed, so no one’s cell phone worked, which only added to the fear of being lost in a sea of humanity forever.  I mean, what is this, people, the year 2001??

However, once we eventually did fight our way out into the streets where our ribcages could re-expand, and once we did find an available table and TV screen, the day got much better, particularly once we were able to meet up with good friends.  From what I could read of the closed-captioning, the rally had its funny moments, but the program left us with some head-scratching.  I mean, the O-Jays?  Tony Bennett?  Mavis Staples?  What, was Shirley Temple not available?

The generationally-incorrect performer lineup was excusable, though, because the best entertainment was reading the hilarious signs carried by various attendees.  Let me close with my top ten favourites, in no particular order:

1. (carried by a resigned-looking 8-year-old) My Mom Made Me Come

2. If Screaming Makes You Right, Then the 3-Year-Old Down the Street Is A Freaking Genius

3. You May Be Right, But I Can’t Hear You Over All the Shouting

4. This Sign Is Heavy.  My Arm Is Starting To Hurt.  Why Did I Bring It?  I Should Have Thought This Through More Thoroughly. Dammit!

5. You Disagree With Me.  Let’s Sit Down and Have Coffee.

6. I Like Pineapples

7. Americans For … Oh Look! A Puppy!

8. The Person Behind Me Can’t See

9. I Don’t Have A Dream So Much As A Mild Preference

10. And my personal fave … I Thought This Was the Line for Georgetown Cupcakes

(Addendum: I actually sat across from Stephen Colbert at Newark Airport once.  I was too afraid of seeming like a crazy person to approach him, but that didn’t stop me from staring down his every move.  He was with a woman I assume was his wife, and they were having a private conversation that ended with, no joke, a fist-bump.  They then got up when a flight to South Carolina — his home state — was announced and I was impressed to note that they waited at the very back of the line and boarded last.  Good job, Colberts!)