Life in Bits

Janiel Miller - Mom. Writer. Distractifier.

Month: March 2012 (page 2 of 2)

Chick Flicks and the Man

Yeah. This picture really doesn't work, does it? It's supposed to represent a chick-flick. But I think it looks like "Stalker Approaches Innocent Woman." It's my huz. He stalks me all the time. Except I let him. Which could be chick-flick-ish, right? -ish?

Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick MEEEE!

I had a thought.

It emerged after this discussion on YA author Shannon Hale's blog, as well as this follow-up, about there not being enough female leads in movies, and why.

Now it's been a few days since I read the posts, and I don't have them memorized. But it seems to me that while there are some very good points in them–i.e., people should expose boys and girls to the same movies, not just push "girl" movies on daughters and "boy" movies on sons. And another i.e.: that Hollywood seems very willing to have fewer female leads in movies, and worse, fewer good roles for said female leads–I think something is being missed here. And that is this: After 26 years being married to a dude, and 21 of those years spent as the mother of 4 offspring, I think I'm qualified to make the following observation: Okay, wait. That wasn't the point being missed, this is:

Women are more instinctively able to enjoy adventure and thrills than men are instinctively thrilled to watch romance and princess-movies.

Yep. That's what I said. And I'm sticking to it. I think some of the problem in Hollywood is that, plain and simply, men are genuinely not as open to chick flicks as women are to dude-flicks. Not because women are better than men; but because we are built differently. 

Women are built to relate to both girls and boys, because we ultimately are the ones raising and nurturing both of them. Men are built to feed and clothe and hunt and slay the dragons for the family. They don't have to be able to relate to princesses to do that. Just dragons. And the occasional boar.

I don't think men not loving chick flicks is a social problem. I think it is literally how they are built. I mean, yeah, men should absolutely try to round themselves out a little bit. Get beyond the boar. Try to relate to their wives and daughters because we need them to. And honey, if we ain't happy, they ain't gonna be happy. Besides which, daughters need their fathers to care about them, protect them and respect them. So do their fathers' wives.

But I don't think we should try to force them into something they instinctively are not. Or worse, teach our sons that there is something wrong with them if they're not dying to see Nancy Drew as much as their sisters are dying to see Sherlock Holmes. No. I think instead we should teach them that they might learn a thing or two by watching the occasional chick-flick. That they'll score serious points with their wives, daughters, and significant others by going to these movies WITH them. And that girl movies/books/interests are not without value simply because they as men are less interested in them. 

In other words, I think we need to teach our boys/men to respect us. I don't think we need to teach them to become us. (and by the way, Ms. Hale wasn't saying quite what I've said here. I just used her posts as a jumping off point.)

All of that said–WAKE UP, HOLLYWOOD! There are a TON of women out there. How about a few more movies with good roles for women? With women as the lead? How about a few more adventures and thrillers with women front and center? There are a boatload of us who'd buy tickets to that. There's money to be had in them thar theaters! Get out there and do something about it!

(And while you're at it, the prince-dude from "Tangled"? Totally awesome. My boys totally got him and thought he was hilarious. Bring on a little more of that cross-over appeal too.)

Hollywood really should check with me on these things.

Btw, if you want to read part 2 of my funky Irish short story on Challenging the Gnomes, Click here. There's a link to part one at the top if you want the whole silly sheebang. Cheers!


We Be Loyal Scouts

Fish out of water, much?


I'm a Webelos Assistant Den Leader.

Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and laugh. Get it out of your system. I mean it is SO ME, right? The woman who played Mrs. Darbus. The woman who conceived of the Domestic Diva Blogger to cover the fact that she can't blog about gardening or homemaking (even though, in theory, that's what she does for a living), or sewing, or crafts, or how to build a house out of recycled tires, or how to crochet a mini-van cozy–BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T HAVE THE GENE FOR ANY OF IT.

Right. They picked me to be a Webelos leader. 

I say "picked" because that's how it's done around here. Our scouting program is affiliated with our church, and our church has a lay-ministry. Which means we get to volunteer to serve when our church leaders tell us to. Ask us to. That's what I meant. Because I could have said no. But then I'm pretty sure that when the Big One hits this region (which everyone says it will, and soon) my house would be the only one left not standing. Specifically my bedroom. More specifically my bed. Just my side.

So, I said yes.

Kill me now.

The Webelos (which does indeed stand for "We['ll] Be Loyal Scouts") program is the most astonishing example of Too Many Cooks I have ever seen in my life. And there's no real training on it. Oh yeah. The BSA has a video you can look at. But its main job is to tell you that YOU'D BETTER NOT PAT THOSE SCOUTS ON THE BACK TOO MANY TIMES OR STAND TOO CLOSE, AND THERE'D BETTER BE TWO OF YOU IN THEIR PRESENCE AT ALL TIMES OR YOU'RE GOING TO JAIL, MISSY! Other than that, no. It doesn't actually take you through the program and tell you how to run it.

Instead, you are given a Fat Manual, along with at least two other Fat Binders to help you out. These helpful handbooks are also known respectively as: Here's-the-List-Of-Every-Activity-Badge-That-Anyone-Who-Has-Ever-Been-Remotely-Connected-With-Webelos-Has-Come-Up-With-Plus-Some-More-Along-With-The-Actual-Requirements-Plus-Some-More, and Wait-There's-More, followed by Hey-I-Just-Thought-Of-More.

I would like to take these helpful scouting materials and introduce them to the side of Lord Baden Powell's scouty British head. Except the founder of Scouting, bless him, is no longer with us. For quite a while now. Clearly he took the coward's way out when he saw what his progeny of scouting enthusiasts was doing with his program.

People like me can't handle all of this information. Our right brains constitute the ENTIRETY of our brains, and there is no room for left-brained things like scouting. Not to mention, they expect us to wrangle a bunch of ten year-old vagrants boys out in nature. Keeping them from leaping off rock ledges, taking sips of waterfalls, making friends with mountain lions, and burying each other alive in never-before-seen Spanish Explorer caves.

I can't do that! I listen to classical music. I go out into nature only when it calls. Shopping for Shoes is my High Adventure, and the only knot I know how to tie is the one that resulted in my stretch marks. Four times.

I don't have much choice, though, do I? I guess I'll learn. I'm sure that very soon I shall be able to smile at the little . . . er . . .  nice young man who glared at me in our last meeting and yelled "I HATE Webelos!" I'll have our den of blue-shirts hi-ho-ing off on deep mountain hikes and pinewood Derby-ing and Blue and Gold Banquet-ing and Sportsman-Badge-ing faster than you can say—

Hey! Maybe we can paint their toenails! Indian warpaint, right?




Life Plans versus Reality. Dance Baby, Dance!

I was always going to dance.

Or sing.

Or star on Broadway.

That was my life.

Then I met a cute boy and married him. We began having kids.

And I loved my husband and my kids. But the thing was, I was ALWAYS going to dance. And sing. And act. And Oh yeah, write. And I was going to do it big. It was what I lived and breathed for. 

But, there was a husband. And there were kids.

Okay. I could focus on the children until they got on their feet, and then once they were old enough I could go back to it all–the stuff I loved and was actually pretty good at. I could do it, and still have the kids and the husband. Because I'd have everyone freshly packaged and ready to go. They wouldn't need me every day. Yeah. That's what I would do.

But . . . it didn't really work that way. My people were time consuming. All consuming. I loved them, but I wasn't as good at them as I was the other stuff. So they took all of my concentration.They were harder. And kind of 24/7. And there were no solid, fast answers. Every moment was something different. Every moment could tax me in some new way. Very little that worked with one child worked with another. Living with a guy when I was a girl was a whole new thing. Nothing was predictable.

Performing? Solid, safe, and free. You learned the choreography, or the song, or the lines. Learned your body and your strength. You practiced and practiced until you didn't just get it right, you infused it with your heart and it infused you. Then you threw it out there and embraced an audience and brought them with you on a journey of your hard work and creation, and you always knew you could spread joy. And you could get it right.

Family? Hurts and boo boo's, and lectures, and apologies, repetition of the mundane, sickness and stress, hormones and tears, dishes and diapers and dishes and dishes and folding and coughing and ear infections and Oh Look! One must deal witih one's fully matched set of excess baggage if one wants to have a harmonious marriage, and so must one's spouse! And omigosh-I-gave-up-what-I-was-good-at-to-do-something-I-am-only-sort-of-okay-at.

And always, always the possibility of getting it wrong. 


I remember dancing. Oh how I remember it. I still do it. I've still got moves. Not bad ones, either. I sing. I act. I write. That time has finally come again. But it's not like it would have been.

No. It's better. Now when I do it, there's something underneath it. There's depth that couldn't be there when I was twenty-one. There's strength. There's power. And above all, there's knowing.

I'm not going to be famous. But I have put my whole guts into what I am doing now–my family. Just like I used to do when I performed. And what I've got now . . . 

 . . . is still here. And will be here tomorrow. And the next day, and year and decade. Because there is no closing night on my children. As for my husband and me? No closing night there either. We're too stubborn. We might have wanted to murder each other a few times over the past twenty-six years, but we would never leave each other. There's just too much experience. And love. He still makes me laugh and feel pretty. I can still dance the snot out of the cha-cha and make him raise his eyebrows. And now, instead of smacking each other upside the head with the Idiot-Stick, we just pick it up, rattle it a few times, throw it in a corner, and go get frozen yogurt.


I guess I don't regret it.

But forgive me if I well-up a bit when we go to the theater. The memories are wonderful. All-in-all, though,  I wouldn't trade them for what I've done. And have. And earned. And built. And become. If nothing else, I'm too tired.



Technology Overload. And Overload Overload.

Dudes. My brain hurts. I need therapy. Will you therapize me?

I was hacked this week. Someone used my email to get into Amazon and buy MP3's of songs from someone named Chi Tai Vo Tinh. Who I've never heard of but who must be fer-reeking brill if people are hacking other people to buy her/his/its songs.  I've spent inordinate amounts of time trying to rectify everything, including 3 phone calls to Amazon, the result of which was that their Fraud Team reset my name and password back to the original HACKED versions. AFTER I told them that I'd already reset them. No touchie!

My email still isn't working right even though I've been at it for two days. Something about my cloud. Which I hope has a silver lining.

Because in addition to this I lost my follower widget from Google Friends Connect because this is a WordPress blog not a Google Blogger blog, and they want me to use Google Plus instead. They say they told me I would need to change it up. But you'd only know that if you stopped by GFC every day and happened to see the announcement. And, like, I didn't. So, my lovelies, I hope you'll come back and follow me on Networked Blogs. Or that I'll figure out a way to import you into Google+. Or maybe I'll just hide all my friend widgets so no one knows and life will be stress-free.

I think none of this would bother me except that I've been operating on quite literally no sleep for the past two months because we've been round-robin sick for that long around here. And my back has been out the whole time as well. Over and over again. (Have I reached my wanny-pants quota yet? Because I've got more.) Not to mention everyone in my household is apparently going through menopause. Except me. Mine is pre-menopause. No offense to my people, but our stress level has been out the wah-proverbial-zoo lately. I love ya, peeps. But we need a vacation.

And on what will seem like an entirely different note but really isn't, can I just say that delivering the placenta once you've had a baby is totally useless? You should deliver a manual specific to that child instead. THAT would be helpful. I could use a child-specific manual about now. Because I have NO idea what I am doing with some of these creative souls I've got in my house. They're amazing and cool and marvelous and utterly, wholly mind-boggling. I mean, I thought I was right-brained . . . 

And since I'm whining, you know what I need? Aside from a good movie and chocolate popcorn with my girlfriends, plus a trip to the Cumbrian Lake District in England with a week-long stop off in Edinburgh? Not to mention a long visit to a spa with head-to-toe massages every day? Plus a literary agent? And a finished manuscript? YOU KNOW WHAT I NEED? A big, giant, enormous plate-full of pasta shell lasagna. Mmmm. The best. Comfort food. Ever. Except for chocolate, which is better.

Here's the recipe (Yep. Here.)

(And in case you need something else to read while eating, here's part one of a short story I'm writing on Challenging the Gnome (Righ'cheer)

Maybe I'll just settle for resting my head in that little dent on my husband's shoulder that is perfectly built for snuggling, when he gets home from work today.


Whine over. Wine is over too, since I don't drink it. Thank you eversomuch for listening. You are a kind and patient soul. Plus, a lot better-looking than most. 

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