Tales of a wandering lesbian


I know I’ve already written about how much I love Rock Band, but every time I play with other people, I love it even more.

I brought home the Beatles version for my sister’s birthday in September.  We spent hours playing.  And, by we, I mean my sister, my mom, my dad, my brother-in-law, and my aunt.  There were nights where we all gathered in front of the tv to play together.  With one guitar and one set of drums, the rest of the players took turns (or sang together) belting into the mic.

My family laughs a lot, but with the wii we laugh even more together.  My family usually humors my requests (which are incessant) to play board games whenever we are together, begrudgingly coming together to play “SORRY!” or “Taboo”.  But with the wii, there are times when I have to convince my father that we should wait to play.  The wii is great, in general.  Whether we’re playing tennis or wii fit, or Rock Band, it brings us together almost magically.  My parents gently encourage each other, my sister helps my aunt, running the drum foot-pedal while my aunt slaps at the electronic drum heads.  My bro-in-law, Matt, and I talk a significant amount of trash while playing tennis, but aside from the one time my sister inadvertently hit him upside the head with the controller, we all keep it super-civil.

Back in Portland, I had an October Rock Band party in the backyard.  We rented a projector, and played Rock Band on the neighbor’s garage wall.

Backyard Rockband

It was a clear but freezing night.  After 6 hours, there were still women sitting in chairs around the little fire pit, trying to keep warm while they played “one more song, one more song…”  When we finally shut it down at midnight, there were hugs and lots of “I love you, man”s exchanged.

This Christmas, when I got to my parent’s house, the wii and Rock Band equipment was already there, brought over from my sister’s house (where it lives) to the larger living room that serves as our communal gathering place.  Lunchtimes were filled with jam sessions, and evenings with competitions.  My dad picked up Rock Band 2 on a shopping trip to Twin Falls (the closest mall 90 minutes away), and we spent that night forming our band (nuthouse) and making our characters (big mama, rikitan, flickster and forno – my pregnant sister’s name is Italian for “oven”).

For the next week, visitors to the house were treated to a turn on the wii.  Perched on the piano bench, one visitor, who used to be a drummer, hammered away, totally enjoying himself.  We turned on the “freestyle mode” and let him go to town.  After a dinner with friends from elementary school, our two families piled into the living room for some fun.  We warmed up with tennis, pairing up mom against mom and brother against brother.  Watching the two dads go at it was perhaps the most entertaining.  We shouted instructions as they waved their arms wildly and swore loudly, battling each other.

And then it was time for singing.  We loaded the Beatles in and assigned instruments.  The nine of us played and sang and laughed.

Rock it!

“I think this might be addictive,” my mom declared with a wary grin.  I wasn’t sure if she was warning me or herself.  But when I suggested that she and my dad get a wii, she waved her hand in a dismissive way, “No no, we have Cathy and Matt’s.”  Then she chuckled and smiled mischievously.

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January 11, 2010   1 Comment

A very good day

Today was a good day. First of all, it was Friday. Fridays are good usually, but for my office, during the summer if we work extra during the week, we can take off at noon on Friday. This makes Fridays extra good.

This Friday, there were only three of us in the office. The summer is quickly winding down, and we’re anxious to take advantage of all possible fun, so, when I suggested heading to my place for some Rock Band, the three of us wrapped up work and headed out.

I’m not sure about you, but the last time I had an honest to goodness “play date” was a long time ago.

Armed only with hard cider and cookies, we fired up the wii and started playing. For two hours we pounded on the drums, clicked the buttons of the guitar and sang our lungs out. By the end, Celia’s eyes were watering from staring at the screen, Michele’s hands were cramping, and I had nearly lost my voice.

Rock Stars!

We rocked. Hard.

When we emerged from the back of the house, Leigh, who had actually been working (state workers don’t get “half-day Fridays”), said “you play the drums loudly.” It’s true. I do. And Celia has a wicked rock star scream on vocals.

After Celia and Michele headed back into the adult world, Leigh and I tried to figure out what to do for dinner. After a couple of half-hearted tries, Leigh suggested that it might be a nice night for ice cream. We decided to venture out in search of the Girl Scout Tagalong Blizzard at Dairy Queen. We’d tried a couple of weeks ago, but they were only carrying Thin Mint. Peanut butter being the critical element, we were determined to experience this triumph of modern flavor engineering. Tonight’s adventure featured a couple of different DQs (the first one was out of peanut sauce), Friday commuter traffic (as we foolishly thought we could pop into Vancouver to visit the closest DQ there), and a walk around a park (Mt. Tabor is a beautiful park, but the people running there make someone with a Dairy Queen cup feel a little slothful).

Given the lack of refined sugar in our lives, Leigh and I ended up a little jacked up. Here is a photo montage to help illustrate:

Leigh pondering the beauty of the Blizzard

Leigh pondering the beauty of the Blizzard

Kristin pre-sugar

Kristin pre-sugar

Kristin mid-sugar

Kristin mid-sugar

Kristin post-sugar

Kristin post-sugar

It was a good adventure.

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August 28, 2009   2 Comments

I am a Rock Star – Peter Pan Style

I feel like I’m 12 again, sneaking upstairs to unplug the NES to bring it to my room and play into the wee hours of the night. I think most anyone who grew up with a computer gaming system will know what I’m talking about. There have been certain games in my gaming career that have been more apt to draw me in and keep me playing for hours and hours.

When I was a kid, Super Mario Bros and Zelda did the trick. Before that, I had a Texas Instruments keyboard console that plugged directly into the tv and acted like a computer. My game of choice on that system was Parsec.

In college, I hoarded the community Super Nintendo in my dorm room for a two week stint playing Donkey Kong Country non-stop, and in law school, I ended up at the eye doctor complaining of flashing lights that were caused from the hours and hours in front of a tv playing Jak and Daxter, and Ratchet and Clank on my classmate’s Playstation2.

As you may have noticed, I’ve never actually purchased a gaming unit. Sometimes, I know my limitations. Other times I ignore them.

Take the wii, for example. It wasn’t until a little over a year ago that Leigh and I decided we could handle one. She called from Fred Meyer “I might have a wii under my arm. I might bring it home. What do you think?”

“Hell yeah! That’s what I think!”

We were responsible for a good long while. We set rules:
1. No wii in the morning.
2. No wii before dark.
3. No solo wii.

That was all good for a while. We played Mario Cart together for an hour every so often. We observed the rules. That is, until we got the wii fit. That was when the real addict came out. It didn’t seem that bad, though, because, although I was spending a couple of hours a day on it, I was doing yoga and strength training. I was even getting up early to ride my bike so I could record it in the wii fit fitness log. Frankly, I was in the best shape of my life. I was, however often violating the wii rules. I’d come home from work and wii alone, and before dark.

But, this week, things really took a turn. A friend was in from out of town, and she called to see if I wanted to come play Rock Band. Yes, yes I did want to play Rock Band. I’d once played Guitar Hero in the Fred Meyer electronics department, and was instantly hooked. Since then I had been trying to convince Leigh that a plastic replica guitar controller would be a good “investment.”

After about 10 minutes playing Rock Band, I was completely enthralled with the game. This is a brilliant game. It combines great music with really fun, interactive game play that can involve your whole family and any skill level. It’s seriously genius. We played for a couple of hours, trading off between guitar, bass, singing and playing the drums. (I’m fairly certain I frightened folks a little when I started banging away on the drums. I’ve never been a percussion person, but this is incredibly fun and therapeutic.)

I spent the next day researching the game, and settled on the Rock Band 2 special edition package. I called around to about 6 Fred Meyer stores and found one unit. (Apparently, these things are popular.) It was even on sale! After a 20 mile detour, I had my very own Rock Band set.

Rock Band

That night, I spent 4 hours playing, but it was mostly after dark, and Leigh played too. (We named our band members after our animals and called it “Menagerie.” We’re pretty proud of ourselves.) Added to the few hours spent researching, the hour calling around and the hour picking it up and setting it up, I spent more time with Rock Band than I did sleeping. Perhaps this should have been a clue that Rock Band would need its own special set of rules.

The next night I only spent three hours playing, but this time I was alone. (At least I haven’t started playing in the morning yet.) After I finally went to bed – because I could no longer hold the guitar – I thought about the things I hadn’t done for a couple of days because of my total consumption by this video game. I realized something: I’m not sure I can be responsible for my actions. No, seriously. When I was 12 and I wanted to play Nintendo all the time, I had someone telling me that I had to do my homework, or that it was time for bed, or that I should go play outside. That is no longer the case.

What’s more, I now have the financial ability to purchase any gaming system I want, and any games that I want, and any controllers that I want. At the same time, I don’t have anyone to regulate my usage of those games – except for me, who would rather play. I’m not so sure this is a good combination for me. I’m not working out, Libby hasn’t had a good walk all week, and I haven’t started packing. I can totally rock the bass on the “hard” level, though, so that’s good.

Last week, someone referred to me as “Peter Pan.” I wasn’t sure if it was a criticism or a compliment. Either way, I wonder, what would Peter Pan do? And, would he sing lead for his band the “Lost Boys” or would Tinkerbell?

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August 27, 2009   7 Comments

Damn those Elves and their Magical Cookies!

Have you read “The Secret”? I have. All that stuff about creating your reality and manifesting your thoughts – I pretty much believe that. Not because of some fabulous riches that I’ve created in my life, no, because of the random-ass stuff that pops up when I’m not paying attention to my thoughts.

Today, on the way home from work, I stopped to by toilet paper and tea – you know, the staples. I considered whether I had all the ingredients at home to make my no-sugar super-yummy cookies, as there are currently none in the house. As I was leaving the store, I walked past what I think was a lesbian family in a Volvo station wagon. Coming from the car was a song cranked up loud on the stereo. I was mildly annoyed until I realized what I was hearing: “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me!” It was Cookie Monster! I love him! “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me. C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me! Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C.”

Awesome! It totally put a smile on my face as I climbed into my car singing, “cookie, cookie, cookie…”

I got home, greeted the animals and put up the toilet paper. I changed into shorts and a bikini top and headed out to level the backyard with the dirt we’d dug up this weekend at our work party. It was an awesome day – 90 degrees, and in the shade at 5PM, it was glorious! Shovel in hand, I was still singing about cookies.

Then I smelled it…

Not a mile from the house there’s a Kraft/Nabisco plant. They make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Keebler cookies. That assessment is based on the smells that come wafting by every time they fire up the plant. Sometimes, there’s cheesy goodness on the air. Other times, it’s the Elves and their cookies that you can smell. Today, as I shoveled, the Elves taunted me.

I was good this morning. There were brownie samples at the bagel place, AND I DIDN’T HAVE ANY. For a recovering sugar addict, that’s a big thing.

Smelling what I imagined to be vanilla sandwich cookies, you know, the rectangular ones, I cursed the Keebler Elves. Usually I’m a fan of elves, but these bastards were just being cruel. It was like I was Charlie Buckett living in the shadow of Mr. Wonka’s factory, ONLY THERE’S NO GOLDEN TICKET.

After about 30 minutes the Elves were done, or the wind shifted, or I became immune to the sugary smell. I finished the yard work and headed inside to cook dinner. The Elves could taunt me, but they couldn’t break me. I have my cookies, my beautiful, wonderful cookies – and they don’t have uber-processed sugar or preservatives. I considered making a batch tonight. Sadly, however, I spent three hours playing Rock Band instead. I bet elves make that game, too.

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August 26, 2009   Comments Off on Damn those Elves and their Magical Cookies!