Friday, May 29, 2009

The Heart of Life
I had all these old t-shirts from high school: track meets, cross-country state championships, the pizza parlor where I worked during summers, grad night. The summer after my freshman year in college, my grandmother, Mimi (her real name was not Mimi, it was Ruth. I, being a natural blonde, did not realize that until I was in high school. Yes, I thought her real name was Mimi Carman until I was 16. I was quite the observant one, wasn’t I?) and I set to work sewing a T-shirt quilt. We worked together all summer, in between my long-training runs and summer internship, cutting up t-shirts, sewing tiny stitches, filling in the backing. Sometimes she’d tell me stories of her childhood growing up in Ohio, or stories about my Mom and Uncles as children, sometimes we cut and sew in silence, or listen to an old movie playing softly in the background.


The day was warm, the sun was shining, and it was a week past my actual birthday. I came down to YL for a birthday dinner, and picked Mimi up on the way. We had a glass of white wine together, and toasted to the upcoming year. She always loved a glass of Chardonnay. We laughed, ate yellow cake with chocolate syrup and celebrated being together.

My grandmother died shortly after that small birthday celebration. She was fine, and then she wasn’t. It was swift and quick, and exactly how she would have wanted it. I can’t talk to her on the phone; I can’t stop off at her tiny apartment in Brea on my way visiting my parents. We would always chuckle because Casey (my dog) would jump up on Mimi’s lap and smother her in licks before meticulously sniffing each square foot of her apartment scrounging for crumbs. I can’t listen to her stories of visiting Australia, or tales of her growing up through the Great Depression. I talk to her in other ways though, remembering things mostly – like how she’d say “yalla” instead of “yellow” or when I read a book I know she’d like. She was forever asking me for book recommendations, she read voraciously, and I was never able to keep up.


This morning, I pulled out the quilt we sewed together. There was a little chill in the air as I sat down for the morning’s work, and for a brief moment sat amazed at the tiny stitches and the worn look of the shirts. I stared at one corner, at the mistake I had made with the sewing machine which she fixed for me. She was forever teaching me how to sew or crochet a skill I still haven’t even begun to master. I remembered the shared laughs over funny stories, or our discussions of which shirt was our favorites. After a while, I got too warm and set the blanket aside. I thought of all the times I had used that blanket to comfort me, and the future uses of the blanket. Perhaps, it’ll be a favorite of my future children wanting to hear the stories of each shirt, or provide a bit of comfort to them on a cold night. I thought about the many memories of my Mimi stored away in the dark recesses of my brain. I thought about the last visit we had. How I walked her out to my brother’s truck, she walked steady on my arm, and she marveled at how beautiful a day it was.

I reached over to hug her, and tell her “I love you”, as was our custom after every visit. However, If I had known that was the last time I’d hug her, I would have held on just a little bit longer.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Weekend in Cabo San Lucas

Did I tell you I was going to Cabo San Lucas? I nearly forgot myself. Well, one doesn’t nearly forget a trip to Mexico, especially in light of the Swine Flu. But, it snuck up on me with graduations, crazy work schedules and final papers hogging center stage. I could go on and on about all the things we almost did like whale watching, snorkeling, or touring the glass-blowing factory. However, we opted to just lie on the beach, drink pina coladas (well, I drank fruity cocktails, J wouldn't dream being seen with such a girly drink), and read all the novels we had been meaning to read for the last six months. So, instead I’ll share with you the scene I stared at for three days as I marinated in a mixture of Banana Boat sunblock and saltwater:

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Trojan Horse
For the last three years, J has been in graduate school. The first year or two was a little fun. Football games, a chance to make new friends, a trip to China, but the last year has been endless. I wish I could tell you I was exaggerating, but I'm really not. He's been very good at school, of course, and has garnered all sorts of accolades, but the last semester (in particular) he's hated almost every second of it. I suppose that's just senioritis for you. (Do you remember how much you hated your last semester of high school or college, you had to literally drag yourself to class and choke down your readings and responsibilities, feeling every tortuous minute).

You know how sometimes something seems so far away -- too far away, even, to starting thinking about – and then suddenly, BAM, it's here? J started counting down the days until graduation months ago (only 16 classes International Finance left he'd grumble out the door on Monday mornings). And, last week, I am happy to report is finally here. I've had a bottle of champagne sitting in the fridge for anticipation; he's had a full-blown countdown – complete with bar graphs, pie charts -- of how to pay down the looming student loan debt.

So, last Friday night (a week ago today...I know how terribly slow I am at reporting news), there was celebrating and bratwursts and us saying "I can't BELIEVE this is finally happening!" over and over. And picture taking, did I mention the picture taking? Now, we are a couple that just works and eats dinner together before 10pm (granted, not much earlier then 10). Balancing between both full-time work (with much stress, and many changes) and a part-time class load with massive amounts of reading there was little time for anything else.

I'm terribly relieved that school is finally over, and that he can really starting working on some of his side projects, which is what he really likes doing best. But, whatever happens – and trust me, it's not like we don't have plans – I'm just glad that J won't be in school anymore that made him grumpy and frustrated and miserable. I'm so happy he's done and so very fiercely proud of all that he accomplished.

Jim with his parents (Hi Mary Jo!, Hi Larry!) after the nearly three hour ceremony. Did I mention that graduation was nearly three hours? I must have forgotten in all my excitement.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek Movie 2009

I'm not sure how, but on Thursday night, I was coerced into going to see Star Trek. J has been looking forward to it for months, and since I've dragged him along to such cinematic masterpieces as How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, I figured I probably owed him a favor or five. The deal was sweetened when three of my favorite people who share my same last name were added to the evening's plans, and the whole itinerary grew to also include beers and dinner at The Yard House, home to The World's Best Sweet Potato Fries. And that was that! I was in! Honestly, load me with enough of the finest Molson Canadian beer and I'd probably agree to go see Sex and the City with you, or a documentary about Slugs: Nature’s Little Scamps. Which would be more interesting, do you think? Wait – don’t answer that.

(By the way, a brief aside: The Yard House is a chain restaurant with a boatload of beers on tap, and a sports game on TV. I am not usually one for chain restaurants, but hey, I typically like any place with more than ten beers on tap. They have the typical domestic beers on tap, imports, microbrews, plus fun cocktails and martinis, for example: Purple Cow. I’m not sure what exactly is in a Purple Cow, but the mental image is fun).

So now is probably a good time to mention that I hadn't seen any of the previous Star Trek movies or any of the TV shows before this one, and I don't really know a whole lot about Star Trek at all, to be honest. I had heard the name “Spock” before, and knew that it took place in, well, space. But, not much more beyond that. Which means that yes; perhaps this was not the absolute best film for me to see. But seriously, this movie was great for the diehard sci-fi geeks (yes, you know who you are) and those with little enthusiasm about the epic saga.

It was endearing, suspenseful, and even garnered several laughs. From the high-intensity start, the movie sets the scene for those familiar and unfamiliar with the premise, without the use of flashbacks (have I even mention how much I hate flashback scenes? I do.) The tension and friendship that developed through Kirk & Spock’s relationship is truly a result in great acting and superb writing. It’s a movie that doesn’t take itself so seriously – it’s not a major work of art. It’s not trying to win an academy award. (For instance, Star Wars: 1, 2 & 3, those were movies that were just trying way too hard). It’s the perfect summer-blockbuster movie. Like Mission Impossible; only Chris Pine instead of Tom Cruise.

However, one that seriously irritated me was the space-time continuum. It’s not at all logical, and doesn’t make sense. How can the older Spock be talking to the younger Spock at the same time? If time is on another dimension, and our past is our past, how can the future Spock procreate for a species that has already existed?

See, I told you:


It might be because I don’t have the appreciation for Leonard Nimoy (who apparently is the original Spock, I gathered this by the cheering and whistling that erupted after his first on-screen appearance).

And also, why does everyone only wear spandex uniforms? Here’s a little tip: I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to see most people in spandex. In fact, if this were to depict the future, I would pay money to NOT see people in spandex. In the future, we probably won’t have money either. In which case, it seems that I’m screwed. But, I digress.

So, while I was completely expecting this to be a three hour snooze fest, I was thoroughly captivated through the majority of the movie. (So, the ending was a bit far-fetched, but eh what can I do?) But, still I was pleasantly surprised. But, please let’s leave it at that. I do not need to run out and see the other bazillion Star Trek movies.

And for now I leave you: live long and prosper.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Walk On By

I contemplated posting this picture because I am not normally the type of person who publically makes fun of someone. Sure, I'll do it behind their backs, in the privacy of my own home, laughing my evil "muahhaha" laugh (and don't pretend J that you are the nice one of the two of us!) Usually, I smile and nod my head; all the while thinking of comments I can later make when re-enacting the scene.

But, internet…this was too great of an opportunity to pass us. How awful would it be if I never got to share with you my picture of the Man Walking His Bird, which was in front of me on a hike in Cambria, and which I followed surreptitiously for several yards in order to record in all its glory.

Have you ever seen such a thing? I've seen cats, rabbits and even a hamster being walked. But, never a bird. I guess I should be thankful he wasn't on a leash.