Ode to Zia

I went to the record store today for the first time since college, maybe even since high school. I’ve been to other record stores since then—not often, but it’s happened—but I haven’t been to my record store.

Zia Records was a regular Friday night stop when I was in high school, where hours were passed and hours of income were quickly spent. It’s where I bought a used Dead Milkmen album for under $5 purely for the song “Bitchin’ Camaro,” which led to my appreciation for 80s punk. It’s where I lost my friends (or did they lose me?) as I walked slowly, slowly down the aisles, my eyes scanning every last CD for the gem I was sure was hidden in Zia’s racks. It’s where I felt surrounded by long-lost friends and friends yet to be made in tracks familiar and unknown.

In recent years, the few albums I’ve purchased have come directly from the artists, either by pre-order or from the merch table at the occasional concert I attend. Today, I went for the new Foo Fighters album, wanting my support of mega rock stars to also support a local business. While Zia’s still in the same location and still cluttered with music and merch, it’s changed a bit. Vinyls are on the west wall now, not the east, and DVDs and games support what I assume are lagging music sales. To get to the staff picks rack, you have to pass an aisle crammed with Breaking Bad and Marvel memorabilia. They always had merch, but back when I was a regular at Zia’s, before Napster and iTunes and mp3s, music was what paid the bills. I guess that’s changed, too.

Record StoreI finally found my Foo Fighters album in the new releases section along the back wall. The endcaps facing the new releases taunted me with “2 for $5” and “$0.99 CDs” signs. I paused for a few minutes, doing a quick scan for the gems I knew were still there. For once, forgetting my glasses did me a service: it was frustrating being unable to see well, and that frustration nudged me to move on after little more than a quick glance. The sleepy toddler on my hip, my injured knee, and the whispering voice of budgeting finally had my brain on board and moved me towards the register. I slowed down for a few quick scans in the soundtrack section, but I found myself at the end of the aisle and in front of a register all too soon.

How I miss the days of music shopping after football games, with financial limits being whatever I earned and time limits being curfew, not naptime or joint pain.

By the time I got home, my munchkin was asleep. Wanting to put off the moment I’d have to pull him from his carseat, I pulled my purchase out of my purse. I sat in the driver’s seat, lovingly gazing at the album cover. I soon found seven 8’s hidden in the album art, an homage to this being the Foo Fighters’ eighth album. I slid the plastic wrap around with my thumb, wanting to peek behind the price sticker for the final 8 but not wanting to forever end the pristine nature of my new album.

Maybe it was nostalgia for physical copies of music. Maybe it was wanting to savor the album slowly, discovering each piece of it a little at a time. Maybe it was wanting to pretend that the music was all that mattered, like when I was a volunteer street rep for record labels and had a plan to move to New York and become a record executive and spend my entire life surrounded by music. Maybe it was simply letting myself get carried away by a small pleasure. Whatever it is, I liked it. And I’ll be back for more.

Thanks, Zia. I missed you.

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First Birthday

Today, I woke up the mother of a baby. Tomorrow, I’ll wake up the mother of a toddler.

Munchkin hasn’t acted much like a baby in a while. Sure, much of his speech is still unintelligible, but he’s able to communicate clearly. Hungry. Tired. Sleepy. Want Cheerios, not chicken noodle soup. Want breast milk, not water. Give me the phone, I hear Grandma. He’s walking, if wobbly, and he’s feeding himself (and his hair) with a spoon.

There are just two things left that make him a baby: his age and being in the infant room at daycare. Tomorrow, one will change, and as a result, so will the other. Even though I see him every single day, I have no idea how this happened. I catch glimpses of myself in the mirror as I hold him, and there are times it still catches me off guard. Me, a mother? Responsible for a child? That I grew in my own body? Absurd.

And yet, the proof is in front of me. It’s all happened so fast, and sometimes it seems I can only tell by making comparisons. Photos of baby Munchkin a few months ago compared to the small boy in front of me. How I used to take an hour to fall asleep, and how now I’m so exhausted it takes minutes, if that.

So naturally today, Munchkin’s birthday eve, I’ve been checking in with the clock and making comparisons.

7:45 am

Today, I woke up and went to work.

A year ago today, I woke up and worked from home. I half-jokingly say my managers banished me from the office the week before—rightly so, as I’d reached my due date and a round of false labor, and though there were offers, nobody really wanted to wheel me to the hospital next door in our department’s shopping cart.

4:00 pm

Today, I discussed visuals for an eLearning with a colleague.

A year ago today, I sat in my midwife’s office getting my weekly check-up. I told her I’d just been to my chiropractor, where he’d given me an adjustment that he promised would have baby out within 24 hours. “I want baby to take all the time he needs to grow,” I said by way of explanation, “but I’m getting anxious to meet him.”

9:15 pm

Today, I walked through the grocery store holding a hungry 19-pounder who kept pulling my shirt down to nurse.

A year ago today, I had a feeling that the contractions I’d had for half an hour were different from false labor. Not wanting to get my hopes up, all I told my husband and sister was that I was having contractions again. “Just in case it is real this time, I’m going to bed. If it’s real, I’ll need the rest.” They stayed up and watched TV.

10:15 pm

Today, I read a story to my son as he stood in his crib. When he got tired of the story, he pivoted to face the side of his crib and pushed the button on his mobile for Mozart, his favorite track.

A year ago today, my baby scooted down, down, down in my belly. I slept, not knowing the contractions were getting closer and stronger, or that in just two short hours, they’d be 5 minutes apart and strong enough to wake me up.

A year ago today, I woke up a pregnant woman, wondering when she’d meet her baby.

Today, I woke up a mother of an infant, listening over the monitor for fusses and coughs.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up the mother of a toddler and wonder how it all happened so fast.

Skills

Life with a newborn requires a whole different set of skills from life without a newborn. Or life without children, for that matter. In the last 7 weeks, I’ve developed many but am still somewhat lacking. For the sake of sanity, this list-maker is taking an assessment. You’re welcome to come along and laugh because let’s be honest. Some of this is ridiculous.

What I Can Do Now:

  • Eat with one hand while the baby nurses.
  • …While dropping a minimum of crumbs on my child’s head. This one took practice. Sorry, Mac.
  • Fall asleep quickly in the middle of the night.
  • Do laundry multiple times a week without complaint. Cloth diapers, here we come!
  • Handle bodily fluid without batting an eye. Cuddle time in the morning turns into spit-up clean-up? No problem.
  • Take a shower in less time than the baby needs for his morning nap. This might be my biggest accomplishment, guys.

What I Haven’t Figured Out How To Do:

  • Brush my teeth with one hand while putting on lotion with the other. (I can do the whole pat-your-leg-with-one-hand-and-rub-it-with-the-other thing, but this? Not happening.) (Is that a real thing or was it just my family?)
  • Write a coherent text free of errors with one hand. Thank goodness my best text buddy knows what I really mean.
  • Send out thank-you notes in any reasonable amount of time.
  • Summon the willpower and energy to brush my teeth at night more than once or twice a week. Guess I’m signing up for dental insurance.
  • Find a daycare whose inspection reports aren’t scary. Parent forgot to sign out their kid? Fine. Not enough food for children? Employees without proof of background check? So not fine.
  • Snapchat something other than the baby or the dog. They’re so damn cute.

Any other parents have similar stories? Suggestions on skills I should be developing or tips for the ones I haven’t managed yet?

37

Photo credit: Tom Magliery

Photo credit: Tom Magliery

37. That’s how many weeks pregnant you have to be to be considered full-term. That’s how many weeks pregnant I am.

HOLY. CRAP. I am a full-term pregnant woman. That means:

  • If I were to go into labor today, it would not be automatic cause for concern. It’s cool, yo.
  • If my baby were born today, chances are very slim he’d need the NICU or any special care. He’d basically be fully cooked.
  • Between now and the day he does show up, all that’s really happening is he’s accumulating more baby chub and his lungs are getting stronger. Break out the earplugs, folks.
  • This is the last milestone before his actual birth.

Whoa.

People keep asking how I’m doing and if I’m ready. Can you ever truly be ready for the birth of a child? There are plenty of items to check off a list – supplements to take, classes to attend, a bazillion items to choose from – but that’s all a bit misleading. You can do everything but I doubt it will prepare me for the pure awesomeness of the moment. How are you supposed to feel ready to see your child for the first time? To give yourself over to a being of your own creation who is utterly dependent on you? To count the fingers and toes and know that your body incredibly, amazingly, created every cell from scratch as you were grocery shopping, checking Facebook, going about the mundane tasks of life?

That’s why my answer is always simply, “As ready as I can be.”

Non-parents typically get a flash of terror in their eyes, like they can’t believe someone would make this choice when they don’t feel ready. Experienced parents usually laugh and say that’s all you can do.

Time is slipping away to finish off the checklists and see friends without arranging for a sitter. Technically, pregnancy is 40 weeks, so I have a few more weeks until my estimated due date. But discovering this morning that baby is now medically full-term (thanks, Zero to Forty) has put things in a whole new perspective.

37. The countdown is on.

Negative “Arrested Development” Season 4 Reviews Are Wrong

After watching all 15 episodes of Arrested Development Season 4 yesterday, I woke up this morning to read reactions. How did so many people miss the beauty of it?

Many critics’ reviews laid into the show for not being enough like the first three seasons. Reviews complained about too much exposition, the binge-ability of the Netflix distribution model, and more.

Here’s why I think the common complaints are all wrong.

“It’s too much at once.”

Seriously? If you want to watch one episode a week every Tuesday night at 7:30 pm, go right ahead. No one (except maybe critics’ editors) is forcing anyone to watch the show in a way you don’t want to. Want to savor it? Go for it. I had guests at my marathon viewing party that left early for just that reason. That’s your choice.

The thing is, many Arrested Development fans never watched the show episode by episode. If we did, it would have had better ratings and stayed on the air longer. But that’s not the truth of AD’s history. The truth is, the show’s DVD sales were going up even as ratings were going down, suggesting that even when it was on air, fans wanted the freedom to binge. It found many more fans once it was available on Hulu and other online sources. For those of us who found AD AC (after cancellation), binge viewing is how we’ve always watched the show. To insist that our viewing model somehow takes away from the viewing pleasure of those who want to savor the show is nonsensical.

The show is intensely layered, with joke upon joke that you won’t even understand until you’ve seen episodes that come much later. Season 4 is no different. Though I’ve seen all of Season 4 already, this is but the first of many viewings. And I have no doubt that I’ll savor each new joke I discover upon repeated viewings, the same way I  savored the first three seasons time after time.

Yes I am.

Yes I am.

“It’s not like the first three seasons.”

It’s not supposed to be.

This season was never intended to be considered as a stand-alone entity. It’s a bridge between the original three seasons and the movie we hope to see someday. Mitch Hurwitz started work on the movie long before this he intended this season to exist at all; it came into existence as a way to catch the viewer up on what the Bluths have been doing. It’s Act 1, with the movie encompassing Acts 2 and 3. With that in mind, you really have to expect that season 4 would be a different kind of beast from the first three seasons.

Much of the first three seasons relied on the interplay between the various Bluths. This season was limited in that aspect because they’ve been separated. With a format that focused on one character at a time, each character had to stand on his/her own. We saw them question who they were, over and over, without the expectations of their families defining the character for them. It’s a clever character development device for characters in arrested development, lower-case a, lower-case d. Given that Hurwitz already knows how the movie will go, I expect we’ll get good payoff in Acts 2 and 3 for the lack of interplay in Act 1.

As this season is meant as a backdrop, the first few episodes are naturally exposition-heavy. There is a lot to set up, as we’d expect from a show that has consistently been so complex and intertwined that even the actors weren’t sure what was happening. But stick with it. It gets better.

I can’t tell you how many times we stopped to rewind the show yesterday. We laughed through jokes and had to replay the last few seconds so we wouldn’t miss anything. Eagle eyes spotted old props that demanded a second watch after someone shouted “Did you see that?” And that’s just on the first viewing. I’m sure there are many, many more gags that will be easier to catch once you know what comes later.

“Michael is pathetic.”

For the first few episodes, this thought made me very skeptical for the season. Michael had gone from being the family’s moral compass to arguably being its saddest member. The higher the pedestal the further the fall, I suppose. I hardly laughed in the first few episodes, more mortified than amused by how our favorite Bluth had tarnished.

The more I thought about it, the less I disliked where Michael was. Michael has always been the family’s moral compass. He has tried and tried and tried to bring them back to center. He has often threatened to leave but was always dragged back in. When he finally leaves – really, who could blame him? – we see that perhaps the family does as much for Michael as he does for them. Without the family, he loses his own sense of center – something I never expected, and Michael obviously didn’t expect either. “Family is the most important thing,” indeed, and when Michael loses that core belief, he loses himself as well. I’m anxious to see how the rest of this arc plays out in the movie.

“There are too many cameos.”

Let’s reexamine the first three seasons of cameos:

Liza Minnelli, Henry Winkler, Scott Baio, Charlize Theron, Ed Begley Jr., Amy Poehler, James Lipton, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Zach Braff, Richard Belzer… the list goes on. Inserting famous actors here and there has always been part of the joy of the show. The same thing happens in season 4, so I’m a bit lost as to why this is a complaint.

The one issue I have with season 4’s cameos is Seth Rogan as Young George Senior. On its own, it’s fine. The only problem is continuity, as in the previous seasons Young George Senior was played by Jeffrey Tambor. They were aware of this, carefully editing a throwback so as not to show the original Young George Senior.

This was mitigated by Kristen Wiig wonderfully capturing a plotting Young Lucille. I’m not a Wiig fan at all, so I was surprised how much I enjoyed her here. With someone other than Jessica Walter playing Young Lucille, the show was virtually forced to cast a new Young George Senior. It’s understandable but a bit irksome on a show that takes normally continuity to new heights.

“I’m judging you for not being a fan like me.”

Don’t want to watch it all at once? Fine. Didn’t like that it was not exactly the same? Fine. I think you’re missing out, but that’s your call. But my hand to Gob, leave the judgment of other fans at the door. “…if you truly loved them, it’s hard to imagine being anything but disappointed with this new rendition.” This, coming from someone who hasn’t watched the entire new rendition.

We can disagree. Just don’t discount my love for the Bluths. I’m already anxious to rewatch season 4 and hear movie rumors.

Shifting Perspective

It’s odd how things you hated as a kid are now absolute treasures.

ImageOne day, when my child starts complaining about taking a nap, I swear I’m going to tell him that one day, he’ll wish he could nap. He’ll roll his eyes at me and I’ll do everything I can to refrain from saying “You’ll understand when you’re older.” (I’ll skip that for spankings, though.)

That shift in perspective goes double for gifts. Remember how as a kid, getting clothes for your birthday or Christmas was the worst? I remember unwrapping a gift under the tree one year and seeing the dreaded white cardboard clothes box peek out from a tear in the wrapping paper. I just knew there would be a sweater inside it. No such luck – it was socks. In that moment, I thought any purchase that was normal during back-to-school shopping should be off-limits under the tree.

Fast forward many years. Every December, my husband asks me what I want for Christmas. This year, I was ready with an answer.

Socks.

In my defense, they weren’t just any socks. Not white cotton multi-packs that I got decades ago, no thank you. I wanted Thorlos, the granddaddy of all socks. Thick, soft, with extra padding right where the laces on your hiking boots are tied extra tight. They’re amazing. And all I wanted was another pair of Thorlos for the weekly hiking we were doing that winter. (We live in the desert, where winter is the time to enjoy the outdoors and summer is when we hibernate.)

My husband came through like a champ. He got me not one but two pairs of Thorlos, one extra-thick for winter and one lighter for summer. (The one exception to hibernation is heading up north. I happily trade 2 hours in the car for summertime hiking and 40 degree temperature drops.) On top of that, he got me a few Mario games, which admittedly I would have loved at any age. But the Thorlos are what I’ve used, while Mario has sat lonely on the shelf.

That never would have happened twenty years ago.

Socks aren’t the only gift I got excited about and later questioned. A few years ago, my mother got me a full luggage set for my birthday. She may have been suggesting it was time to stop borrowing hers every time I traveled, but no matter. I was ridiculously excited, especially since the bags were a bright red for easy visibility on a luggage carousel.

It didn’t hit me until that night that I was happy to receive a practical gift. Once upon a time, the only time a good gift was called practical was if it was a practical joke. Not anymore.

Then there was the Mother’s Day gift of maternity clothes (yay! clothes that fit!) and a supportive belly band (yay! pain relief!). Extra practical, extra dose of reality. With an actual child growing inside me, I was solidly, undeniably, an adult. Also, I got excited to unwrap clothes. Yep, things have changed.

Next week, I turn 30. I don’t know which I’m dreading more: officially being out of my 20s or the hey-thanks-awesome-gift-oh-wait-I-like-that? hangover.

5 Ideas For A Great “Arrested Development” Party

The Bluths are back! Want to celebrate with an Arrested Development party? Here are 5 ideas for a party the Bluths would be proud of.

1) Décor.

Set the mood with AD-style decor. Try a platter of wax fruit, HomeFill books and records, and rickety furniture from Goodwill that will fall apart the moment someone leans back.

Don’t forget a banner that is either awkwardly affectionate….

Arrested Development family love michael

Source: Tumblr

or hilariously brutal.

Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

Naturally, a giant yellow banana stand would not be out of place.

2) Have plenty of food and drinks.

Must have: Frozen bananas (try this recipe). Must not have: Hot ham water and a dead dove (do not eat). Also consider fried cornbread a la the Cornballer, a Skip’s Scramble breakfast skillet, mayoneggs, and juice. Lots and lots of juice.

Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

3) Throw an AD party, costume-style.

Suggest these costumes to your guests:

– A magician who enters to Europe’s “Final Countdown”
– Someone with a hook. “I’m a monster!”
– A bald man in a bad wig and straw hat.
– Cut-offs. “There are literally dozens of us.”
– A leather daddy.
– An age-inappropriate mother-son duo in matching sailor suits.
– Inside-out clothes, crazy headwear, and a stuffed animal backpack.

4)    Have plenty to do.

15 episodes aren’t enough entertainment for you? Hire an incredibly inept magician or a politically-incorrect puppeteer. Reenact light saber fights from Star Wars. Karaoke (with or without “Afternoon Delight”). Have a chicken dance-off with prizes for accuracy.

Or simply play an AD drinking game. Suggested rules:

One drink
– “Come on!”
– “Marry me!”
– Anytime Tobias says something only Tobias would say.

Two drinks
– “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
– Any mention of hop-ons.
– “Her?”

Three drinks
– “No touching!”
– Hot Cops appear
– Chickens are imitated, however badly

Source: IndieWire

Source: IndieWire

Feel free to add to the rules. Just be aware that more than 10 rules for 15 episodes is a LOT of drinking. Not that that’s always a bad thing. Bring on the dizzies!

5) Skip Bluth family party fouls.

Though there are many, a few stand out as big no-nos.

Do not:
– Invite your cousin’s entire address book and get her fired from her movie studio job.
– Yell “Surprise!” at your own party.
– Act like a Milford man. Be a good host; be social.
– Give a terrible speech.

It’s been seven years since we’ve gotten new episodes of Arrested Development. Make the most of it. “Say goodbye to these, because it’s the last time you’re gonna see them!”

Ah, who are we kidding. We’re going to watch them over and over and still not catch every joke.

 

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