Not my Birthday

Life sometimes takes us to strange places, ground we were sure we would never have to tread upon.

For the first time ever, I played Magic the Gathering outside of our home.

“How did this happen?” I asked myself several times during the tournament surrounded by men speaking a foreign language recognizable only to other serious players.

A few years ago, my husband and I decided that instead of gifts for birthdays to clutter our already cluttered home, we would give “experiences”. Usually this amounts to a trip somewhere with something we think the birthday kid will enjoy. This year’s offerings were a 1st concert, a day trip to NYC for the Empire State Building and a Broadway show culminating in dinner at Guy’s restaurant, and a trip to the Great Wolf Lodge.  After they complete a quest and put together a puzzle, the birthday boy gets to choose which parent he wants to accompany him. It’s a great opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the minions and get to introduce them to something we enjoy or we think they will or just experience something new together.

My husband’s birthday was last week. For his gift, the boys and I decided to pack him off to the TCG State Championship. Half-jokingly, my tallest (who also happens to play MTG competitively) asked my husband who he was taking. He quickly said, “Mom.”

I laughed.

I stopped as the boys excitedly turned to me.

I tried not to panic.

Early in our marriage, I decided that my husband and I needed to share some common ground outside of our children. Since he’s not down with the scrapbooking or cross-stitching, I picked up a controller and learned to hold my own in his favorite games. Now that the kids are older, they think it’s cool when I join them killing grunts or fight in epic Jedi vs Sith battles on Battlefront 2. I have my own Yugioh deck and now I have a modern MTG deck as well. But the problem is that I don’t play anything very often.

And I really don’t like situations where I don’t know what to expect and everyone else in the room does. I despise being ignorant and vulnerable in a big group of strangers. I’m funny that way.

But every spare moment in the two days between my husband’s birthday and the tournament was spent absorbing the rules and customs of MTG and telling myself that I was doing this because I love him. My understanding of the game is sparse, bare-minimum. My tutelage was like trying to catch fish with a hula hoop− information goes in, flops around frantically, and then swims away happily, leaving me staring in confusion, often certain I had something a second ago.

I knew it was going to be a slaughter.

I was right.

"What's that say?"

“What’s that say again?”

So there I was, sitting across from an opponent who really wants to win and is totally willing to go through me to get there. The only thing in his way was a borrowed deck that I didn’t know how to play, a very pretty (but hardly intimidating) playmat, and a sparkly dice. The most common phrases heard by my opponents: “Ummm, I’m gonna have to read that …” along with “Sorry, sorry, sorry!” I imagine that gets annoying for men who have these cards, their abilities memorized, and cash on the line.

Much to everyone’s surprise, I did win 2 hands−just not against the same opponent.

I’m also pretty sure the last guy who sat across from me cheated after I won the first round. I’d like to gird up some righteous anger (and I admit that I was very tempted to call the judge to count his side-deck), but I was there for fun. This is a big part of his life. I get that he didn’t want to lose to me of all people.

The end result was a kid-free, slightly stressful day of fun, sharing something else with my best friend, and a better understanding of all of the card talk that dominates my dinner table. So worth it!

And for those of you wondering, the hubs ranked 9th! I was … barely not last and I’m pretty sure that’s only because someone left after their first round loss. At some point, I’m afraid I might have to go again  in order to redeem myself.

Date Night

In the queue: Jimmy Eat World and All-American Rejects with a dash of Adele in the mix.

Words written: zero. (I thought it’d look better spelled out … I was wrong.) But I did make it through about 10K first draft edits, so that’s something.

Moving on!

I’ve been a wee bit stressed, and my hubby has been TDY more often than not the last few months. In fact, after being home a whole week, he’s deserting us again on Monday. So last night, after the twins were in bed and my mini-men returned from karate, I experienced first hand the rare and often elusive date night.

It does exist, and man, it was awesome.

Honestly, we just grabbed a quick bite and caught a late movie, but yeah … heaven! And since we were the only irresponsible adults out late on a weeknight at the beginning of the school year, we got a private screening.

The hubs has already seen The Guardians of the Galaxy three times, so we chose The Giver, which is the actual reason for this post for those of you wondering. I went into the theater, expecting nothing but a quiet, dark room with nobody “MOM!”ing me, and then discovered the flick is an adaptation of the 1994 book by Lois Lowry. I’ve never read the book –and now I won’t because I liked the movie– but I couldn’t help but notice similarities to a few other movies in the past twenty years. Actually, my hubby couldn’t help pointing out each and every similarity. (The downsides to being alone in the theater: I couldn’t shush him without being more rude, thus losing the courteous high ground, and if I gave into the temptation to strangle him,  there were no suspicious chaps about to blame or even create a little reasonable doubt.)

***Spoiler Alert***

The Giver: Matrix style, starring Meryl Strep as Agent Smith.  The giver-in-training is like a less flexible Neo: he does what no one else can do by getting info uploaded directly into his brain.  But  Jeff  Bridges as Morpheus is where this one falls apart.

What about The Village? I mean, you have the all-knowing, all-concealing council of elders, a town secluded from the rest of the world, and a hero who has to leave the boundaries of his world, which he thought was perfect mere days ago, in order to save a life. 

But Equilibrium was the most obvious comparison that came to mind. First of all, the citizens get meds that take away their emotions, everyone is the same, no artwork or music, no color to life. There’s one scene in particular when both main characters basically get their emotions back and start seeing color again. Maybe the scenes standout because they’re so touching–the restoration of something so vital and  essential to what makes us human–but I still got that deja vu  vibe.

And within the first ten minutes of the movie, I exclaimed, “Oh! This is like Matched!”

If imitation is the truest form of flattery, then surely Lois Lowry has been inundated  with Facebook pokes,  #Friday follows, and Be Mine, frilly pink hearts filled with chocolate caramel clusters for years. But accepting that there’s nothing new under the sun, (Yep, I just went all Biblical on y’all.) where is the line between inspiration and imitation?

This is the question I will be pondering when I should be doing something productive tomorrow.

Just what can I eat?!

Tonight’s forecast: Happiness!!! Beware of gratuitous exclamation points.

Playing on the dock: Pharrell. How apropos…

Since I’ve begun my gluten free journey, you won’t be the least bit surprised to know that I’ve whined. Like, a lot. A smidgeon of wailing and gnashing of pearly whites may have also been spotted… I couldn’t say for sure. And while searching my stockpile pantry, the most whined question has been, “Just what can I eat?!”

The short answer: Fruits, vegetables, and meat that has not been breaded or marinated. Unfortunately, none of these lovely items were what I’ve been mourning the loss of. My muse requires nothing less than sugary caloric deprivation to be at her best. Last time I tried to snack on celery and carrots while writing, she filibustered my writing time for an entire week with ridiculous plot bunnies, excessive adverbs, and a sudden desire to look at cat pictures.

But tonight — oh, tonight! — I’m doing a fancy, muscle-pulling jig on Cloud 11. My happy-vator paused at the 9th cloud when I discovered I can still indulge in my beloved Dr. Pepper without damaging my health (any more than usual), and just kept on going up, up, and away when my hubby produced a bag of Skittles!


SKITTLES!!! The chosen nectar of persnickety, sugar-craven muses everywhere! (Well, at least in the vicinity of my laptop…)

Now I’m off to write! Wish me luck.

Oh! I’m also compiling a list of links to articles, people, and places I find who do gluten-free way better than me. Yes, the list will be extensive as it’ll include anything remotely helpful and informative. If you have any resources to add, drop me a line!