Sunday, December 19, 2010
In the quiet womb
Of a cold white afternoon
Alone with a box of moving pictures
Of intensity, with people who never were
In a time that was
Lost in the quiet womb
Of a cold white afternoon
Alone with a dreamy melancholy,
The feeling of something missing
(December 19, 2010)
Lonely, at loose ends
Another day in winter's cold womb
Longest night, shortest day looming
Wake me when the sun blooms
And the earth is green and dewy
Friday, December 10, 2010
Now, I’d heard of the series before. I had friends in college who adored the classic series. I’d even watched a few episodes with them. In 1990, it was on late Saturday nights on the Detroit PBS affiliate, WTVS. We’d watch Doctor Who after a heady line-up of Twin Peaks, Star Trek: the Next Generation, and a couple episodes of Red Dwarf. (We were uptight, geeky college freshmen; the fact that we were spending our Saturday nights entirely sober, parked in front of a 14-inch TV didn’t disappoint or faze us one little bit.) Not being much of a night owl, by midnight, I was barely awake and had a hard time following the plot. To add to it, continuity didn’t seem to concern WTVS. There might be 30 minutes of a Fourth Doctor story followed by 30 minutes of the Seventh Doctor. Try as I might, I couldn’t see how this show was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Maybe I just wasn’t awake enough.
The night I woke up to see an alien whose body was clearly comprised of a shower curtain and a beach ball, I wrote the series off and fell back asleep- literally and metaphorically. Despite this, my friends liked me enough to continue to speak to me for the remainder of our college years.
My husband Michka, who I met years after college, is also a fan of the classic series. His collection of Doctor Who VHS tapes took up an entire rack and half the wall in the living room of our first house. I watched the first part of the Talons of Weng-Chiang at his request the year we were engaged, but I still couldn’t get into it. He loved me anyway. Then came the new series. The production values were better, the pace was quicker, and I was intrigued if not hooked the first time I watched Rose.
One weekend in August 2006, Michka went away to the Wizard World comic book convention in Chicago. I decided to have my own little new Who marathon and watched the last several episodes of Series 1 on my own. At the time, I worked for a small historic house museum. We were swamped that summer. The small paid staff was working six days a week because we had at least two bus groups booked nearly every weekend from June to October. We were also understaffed because a former staff member had recently left for a new position. It was the first full weekend I’d had off since she’d left. In short, I needed a little relaxation.
I wanted to escape, but not from the comfort of my own home, so Doctor Who it was. I was hooked that weekend. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen next. I had to know, so I watched one episode after another. I held my breath as Nine regenerated into Ten. And then…and then… and then I turned into a squealing 34-year old teenager. Who was that gorgeous man with the big brown eyes and brilliant smile? I had to know. I had to have more.
I searched the house. I even went in to the room where my husband stored his fandom. Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blake’s Seven books, toys and miniatures, Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games, Legos, long boxes full of comic book titles you’ve never even heard of…you name it, it was in there. But no more new Doctor Who? There had to be more.
Just as I was considering whether I was desperate enough to call my husband to find out where the hidden cache was, he called me. We exchanged pleasantries. He told me about all the things he’d done at the con and the fun he had with his friends. To hear him tell it, the rest of the conversation went like this:
“Yeah, yeah. That’s nice dear. Where’s more Doctor Who?”
“Well, there’s one more episode, but the disc won’t play on our DVD player. It might work on the computer.”
“Fantastic. I’ll watch it on the computer. Where’s the disc?”
He told me, I said thanks and the call ended soon after. He says he cracked up and immediately shared the story with his Doctor Who-loving friends that were with him. He still likes to tell that story.
I immediately found the disc and proceeded to watch The Christmas Invasion at least four times (on the computer) over the rest of the weekend. In fact, I was watching it when he got home from the con.
Over the next two years, my admiration reached such heights that we booked our trip to England based on when we could get tickets to see David Tennant as Hamlet. I joined the RSC as a member to book tickets earlier than most of the rest of the world. A year before our trip, I landed four tickets for October 12, 2008 in Row H of the Courtyard Theatre – 2 tickets for Michka and I and 2 as a belated wedding gift for our friends Dave & Dani. They’re friends from back home who lived in Bristol at the time. It seemed like they drove us all over England. Treating them to Hamlet was the least we could do.
Michka and Dani wanted to see a world-class production of their favorite Shakespeare play. I wanted to see David Tennant live in anything. Dave went along because, good man that he is, he does whatever makes his wife happy.
Before Hamlet, before we even decided to go on holiday in England at all, we had of course watched the finale story arc to series 3 of new Who. I liked Professor Yana in Utopia. I was crushed when he turned bad. It was my first introduction to the Master. How dare he bring the Toclafane into the present and enslave humanity! How dare he defile and hurt my beloved Tenth Doctor. How dare he die instead of regenerating to work alongside Ten to better redeem himself! Evil, selfish bastard. I hated the Master so much I literally hissed whenever he came on screen each time I watched those episodes.
John Simm, on the other hand, I thought was kind of interesting and nice to look at, so I rented a couple other things he was in that I found on Netflix. Twenty-four Hour Party People was good. I loved the music, liked the story. It was interesting to learn the story of some of the bands I listened to back in the day.
Enter the fall of 2010. I was 38 now I worked for a different company in a completely different field. I’d just started a new job within that company. I’d spent the previous year in social services – no place for a reserved introvert who hates confrontation, but that’s a different story. The new job supporting Fund Development was a much better fit and it showed. (Besides, I am one of those sick people who actually enjoys grant-writing.) I had a sense of humor again. I smiled more. I looked people in the eye. I was fun to be around. My husband said I was easier to live with. I was open to possibilities and creativity again. In short, I was more myself than I’d been in at least a year. It was good to be me.
In the midst of all this, I’d started watching Doc Martin on DVD. The first disc on the fourth series included a trailer for Life on Mars. I don’t remember seeing this trailer. I must have been out of the room. That’s the only excuse I have. How else would I not want to race out and at least get the song the series is named for? Michka, however, watched it every time we watched an episode of Doc Martin. It intrigued him enough he picked up both series on DVD one weekend. I thought I’d be kind and watch at least the first episode or two with him.
We watched one episode a night until we’d finished both series – 16 nights of possibly the best television ever. I told anyone who would listen to me they should watch Life on Mars, and I meant it. On a normal day, I don’t do anything like that. I’m quiet and reserved.
I watched a few episodes of the U.S. remake and was appalled. Abomination! How could they do that to the best thing since, I don’t know – driving like a madman with a sandwich stuffed in your mouth? That blonde wasn’t Annie Cartwright. That withered old man driving the streets of New York wasn’t Gene Hunt by a long shot, and that tall, beefy guy most definitely was not my beloved Sam Tyler. I didn’t want to see his Playstation scores.
Michka, bless him, puts up with all of this in stride. I don’t even try to hide my delight anymore when John Simm walks onto the screen. My pulse quickens, a big, dreamy grin cracks my face and I’ve only got eyes for him. If I ever have the fortune to see him live on stage, I am so completely sunk.
I am ashamed to say I am no longer capable of hissing at the Master. If the Tenth Doctor can find it in his hearts to forgive him, well then, so can I. Besides, he may be evil incarnate, but he looks so scrumptious in that black suit. Even diabolically insane Hoodie Master has his moments. What’s a girl to do?
So, here I am, nearly 39 going on 14, with John Simm as the Master on my desktop, writing fanfics about Sam Tyler, tossing paper into a waste bin that makes TARDIS sounds and wondering who and what I’ll be crazy about next (and when), and loving every minute of it.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I’ve since come to learn there are four basic steps to de-batting your belfry (and the rest of your house). The first is to call a reputable pest control company. You can’t kill the bats with poison; they’re protected species. You can’t just relocate them because they will find their way back.
Step 2 is what I like to call “shining for bats.” (Warning: this may make the neighbors wonder about you.) The de-batters can do this for you, but they’ll charge you a couple hundred dollars extra. Put your money back in your pocket and grab a couple of flashlights instead. Flashlights in hand, you’ll need at least two people to walk around your house at dusk. Shine your lights up under the eaves, up and down the gables and anywhere else you can’t reach. You are looking for holes…any holes of any size.
There are 14 different species of bats in my state. I’m told the two most common – and I am not making this up – are the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat. Smaller species can squeeze into a hole 3/8ths of an inch wide. Larger species, hulking critters that they are, may need a huge, gaping hole of an inch and a quarter.
Step 3, inserting cones into the holes, is done by your professional bat man. They make your house function as the opposite of a roach motel. Bats can check out, but they can’t check in. This step is done in the fall, late October or early November. Then you wait – about 6 months, all the while hoping the bats have all checked out, gone to their condo in Arizona, hibernated, or do whatever it is bats do in the winter.
Step 4 is sealing the holes. Your bat man also does this. After that, you can sleep easy and stop listening to the house creak in the middle of the night and sleeping with a light on.
So, Step 1 is what I should have done in June. But wait, there’s more. One dark early morning in August, I woke up to another strange noise. This one went “whump, whump, whump,” you know, kind of like the sound of something hitting a ceiling fan and then the wall. You know, something like a BAT?
I went through the same drill again, called my husband and everything. This time Mich was especially unsympathetic. He thought I was just hearing things. Try as I might, I couldn’t really blame him. Over the summer, I had become attuned to every creak and groan the house made, every scratch-scratching sound on the roof in the morning, be it squirrels or the tree outside our window. I’d taken to sleeping with a light on sometimes to ward off bats. And yes, a couple of times, I was hearing things.
Mich came home from work that Friday morning and checked for bats. Finding none, he called me at work to tell me I had been hearing things. I knew there was a bat and told him I hoped we found it over the weekend to prove it.
That night, we went out for dinner and came home around 8:45 PM. Sure enough, we found my friend flying laps in the living room. I decided I’d wait outside. (I’m pretty sure there were bats flying over my head that night, but they were high above me…and outside…where they belong.)
Mich again summoned his bat-nabbing skills and his power of negotiation. Through the screen door, I heard him having a perfectly reasonable conversation with the bat about how it needed to get into the laundry basket he was holding so he could take it back outside. The bat complied and was soon flying free outdoors where it belonged.
The following Monday morning, I called When Nature Calls Pest Control. (Seriously, that’s the name.) The first time I talked with Jared, the owner, he told me he does a lot of work in my neighborhood. How…comforting. But I’m happy to say, thanks to his work, my house is no longer a bat haven.