Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sleepy Nonsense

Sunday night, I fell asleep on the couch with the TV on, as is my habit.
Sadly, no, it wasn't any form of the Olympics . . . I WISH it had been the Olympics. I LOVE the Olympics. Unfortunately, when I say "TV" I mean "the Netflix Instant account via the Wii hooked into what could be a TV if we had cable, satellite, or even a bloody antenna." Normally, this wouldn't bother us a bit, but . . . um . . . this is the Olympics. I'd kinda like to watch those . . . so . . . internet streaming? Yes, I think I might.

Anyways, so, here I am, unconscious. I mean, I'm out COLD. When I sleep, I sleep hard, and I sleep through anything. Bloody corpse, really.
So, the dear hubs see me curled up and, very likely snoring (have you ever woken yourself up due to the random, off-key, thundering SNORE?? It's a trend I'm beginning to notice, and I don't like it, no, not one bit). He decides it would be best to wake me so I can stumble into my real bed, sleep more soundly (if that's possible), and wake up cheery and on time (ha. ha. ha.). He pats me on the shoulder, whispers my name, squeezes my hand.
He says my name a little louder, pats more firmly.
My eyes pop open, and I glare at him, exclaiming in utmost urgency. "Ohmycatspopcornehnehehcats . . . ." and fall back asleep.
Chris is somewhere between shock and laughter.  He pokes me again.
"Gottamufflerscatssleepmorningehmehmehmeh . . ."
Now, he's dying.  Neither of us know what I was trying to communicate or why . . . but I THINK I was trying to say, quite clearly, "I beg your pardon, my good sir, but would you PLEASE leave me alone and let me sleep? Thank you."
Or maybe not.
"Sarah, babe, you need to go to bed," Chris says, trying to subdue the rising guffaws.
Somehow, I manage to get up off the couch, stomp/stumble into the bedroom, and collapse in bed. Might I add that I was muttering mumbo jumbo the entire way.

Lord only knows the dire message my subconscious was trying to send . . .

On another note:"The Woman in Black" is downright terrifying.
And, I'll have you know, I do not scare easily in "horror" films, but this scared the bejeezes out of me.

Well, Mr. Radcliffe, don't you look dapper? Too bad you're going to practically pee your pants with fright for the next couple of hours . . . geez louise . . .AND STOP FOLLOWING STRANGE NOISES! GOSH!
Mostly because it had dolls. God, dolls. Am I the only person royally weirded out by porcelain figures of overdressed young floozies and humanoid apes playing cymbals? AM I?!?! Because, really, my GOSH.
Now I have to sleep with all the lights on . . . and salt . . . lots and lots of salt . . .

Monday, July 30, 2012

Catching Up Pt 2

Continuing the long overdue tale of our trip to California, previewing the towns that will be our future home . . . or neighbors. Catch Part One here or click the "California" label to see the whole shebang.

On the fourth day, I woke up, and something was different.
Ok, I was different.
I’m a fairly mellow person. While I am defined by moments of unpredictable spastic explosions, I’m low key. It takes a great deal to vex me and even more to anger me. The downfall of this is that, once I’m in a mood, it usually requires a long, dreary, dramatic session of over-bottled-now-exploding emotions, a trip into isolation, and a nap.
It’s not pretty.
The third night, I had gone to bed almost angry. I had been dragged around relentlessly for three days. I had been told where to eat, when I would wake, and where I would stay. While these things weren't bad (Steve has great taste) and I had not thought to complaing (hadn't felt the need until this moment), I was tired of it. 
On top of that, my stomach was still churning from the night before.
So I planted myself in that hotel bathroom and firmly told Chris I would not be leaving that hotel room. Maybe not all day. But, most certainly, NOT that morning. My body and mind couldn’t take it anymore.
See, the thing with being an introvert is that you need an exorbitant amount of personal time to recharge . . . or function. Being around people 24/7 is exhausting, on top of the schedule: every day, we wake before the sunrise, pack up, check out, and drive, drive, drive. We meet, greet, eat, and do it all over again. While the scenery is lovely and the food is fabulous, it’s nonstop. I badly needed it to stop, even if just for a few hours.
So, yes, I had a hissy fit and refused to move. I was sick, after all, so I had an excuse.
Three days is the perfect amount of time for traveling with those you don’t live with, people you’re not used to being around every hour. Day four, I had reached my tolerance threshold and my control disintegrated. I needed alone time. Not wanted, NEEDED, for the safety of all those involved. So I was left to my own devices, ill and nibbling on crackers, while Chris called every hour to ask if the staff had changed our room yet (we were over the pool or something, so the wall vibrated, and Chris, with his spidey senses, was miserable). I amused myself by watching daytime television about "It ain't my baby, I know it ain't!" that made me realize my life wasn't bad at all, not even a little . . . also, that people are amazing . . . in all the not good kind of ways . . . Needless to say, come lunchtime, I was human again.
  • We spent the rest of the day driving around with a local who showed us some areas where we might want to live.
  • That evening, we had a barbecue with good friends of Steve’s. It was delightful—they’re intelligent, relaxed, and appreciative people. They knew all kinds of music, and their library consisted of every topic imagined. Loved it. Really, it was a beautiful ending to a morning that began so horrifically.
  • We also got to see what happened to Steve after several glasses of wine and shots of tequila. He’s happy and more relaxed, but still fiery for the typical human. It must be exhausting to be Steve.
  • Fields of "Spring Mix" (yeah, the salad) -- what's fun about driving through agricultural communities with Steve is that he can identify every kind of crop. I don't know how, but he does, and it's fun.
  • Day five witness another morning meltdown (I was STILL exhausted, peeps, still not significant amount of downtime) followed by a wonderfully relaxing day.
  • We had no agenda (I think Lisa talked Steve out of taking us to yet another of the company’s farms HOURS away . . . or maybe the hangover did that).
    I won’t deny it: hangovers are funny when they’re not yours (I imagine . . . I’ve never had the privilege of bring hungover myself—can’t swallow the taste of alcohol, it reminds me too much of cough syrup . . . yes, I’m bizarre). Watching Steve, an avid water consumer, downing a Sprite at 8:00 AM puzzled me, but, when he barely made it through half of his breakfast sandwich, I understood—Normally, Steve’s what his friends call “a garbage disposal”—he eats anything and everything in large amounts, which, never shows, I suppose because his metabolism has to be INSANE. I don’t know how you could be that intense and not have a metabolism on hyperdrive. You’d collapse. Repeatedly. Judging by his barely-touched plate and the mumbling, someone would be less than full throttle today.
    Which meant we might be able to relax a little.
    And, really, for all my complaints about our last two days, Steve had been “really, really good” in the words of his wife and son
. . . . I’ll let you interpret that however you may . . .

  •  If you are ever near Hollister, you simply MUST visit Casa de Fruta. It’s this delightful shop filled with every kind of dried fruit and candied nut you can imagine and then some. Plus, it’s across from the cutest little park which includes a children’s train and a carousel. LOVE.

These ducks totally begged like puppy dogs. So cute!

    You could pan for gold at this little spot right outside Casa de Fruta.

  • After all this, we headed to our hotel in San Jose. There, we had four hours to do NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Oh, it was heaven.
  • Then it was up by 3:00 AM to catch the 4:30 bus and get on our 7:20 AM flight. Oh, GOD, I hate early morning flights. And, really, how safe am I supposed to feel knowing that the pilot was up earlier than I am??? I don’t care if you work the graveyard shift so you’re used to it—the human body doesn’t function at its peak with those hours.
  • So we leave Cali at 7:20 AM, and, with a three hour layover and a three-hour time change, we arrive in Orlando at 7:05 PM. Despite the intensity of the trip, Chris and I weren’t really ready to come home. We had fallen in love with the West, and we were ready to run, run, away.
  • Still, we were ready to see our furballs and family. Chris’s first order of business was reuniting with his pup at his sister’s. Twas an adorable reunion filled with puppy wiggles.
  • The cats were less than thrilled with this prospect, as they were enjoying a lovely dog-free vacation. Pipkin, however, was thrilled that I had brought her what was OBVIOUSLY a new bed for her as she immediately commandeered my suitcase and refused to relinquish it for days. Crazy cat.

So, that’s our California preview in a nutshell.
Seven months is too long to wait to go back.

If you managed to read through ALL of that, you get a gold star. For reals.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Letters


Dear Brain (from Wednesday):
Get yourself in gear already. For reals. Creativity waits for no man, and you've got to start creating some decent words/writing/art SOMETHING. No one likes lazy gray matter. No one.

Dear Brain (from yesterday):
Well, dear, when I said get in gear I didn't mean overdrive. Creative juices are flowing again at deluge intensity . . . . Dandy. Now can we just pick a outlet for it? I mean, other than the dreams with six-foot-tall jellies battling dragons and dinosaures (yeah, that totally happened last night) . . . You have me writing stories, doodling, and dreaming of opening an Etsy shop (just to see) . . . and now I'm thinking of so many things at once, it's exhausting. Is there no middle ground with you? NONE????

Dear Hands:
These past few years have been rough. I've neglected you, not cared for you, but, to be fair, you've lacked the "itch." Once upon a time, I CRAVED using you to pick up pencils and paper and create a face, a world, a life . . . but you just haven't wanted it badly these past two years, have you? Nope, no a bit. So, yesterday, I slapped you into shape, and, once again, we were covered in graphite and eraser dust. It was a glorious thing. Sure, you haven't advanced since way back when, but how could you when I didn't push you? We've got to work together on this thing. We were never true masters of the sketchbook . . . but it feels nice to try again . . .

Dear Hubs:So, now we not only want a house, but we want to be falconers? You should know better than to taunt me with my lifelong dream. Seriously, working with birds of prey would be THE coolest . . . and stop sending me pictures, you're making it worse . . . .

A Boobook Owl . . . And I shall call him "Cumberbatch"

Dear Pipkin:
You're always in the way. Always. But I love you for it. You purr like nobody's business and you give my hand kisses as if you were a puppy.  Yes, sometimes you stink and you ever shut up and display a special kind of "non-brilliance," but you're my furball.

"OBVIOUSLY you laid this stuff out to be my new bed . . . because I'll sleep wherever I'm not supposed to and on anything BUT my cat bed . . . Be grateful I find your possessions worthy of housing my bum. Puny human."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Day I Could Have Been a Pirate

The weekend before my thirteenth birthday will always live in infamy.
I do not want to have my birthday.  Every film I’ve ever seen and ever book I’ve ever read gives testimony to the sudden change of character, the nasty switch of teenhood. I do not want to rebel. I do not want to find my life filled with drama or my parents angry with me. Twelve has been a good year for me, one I hate leaving behind—I am popular, as my status as “nerd” has neither been confirmed nor made me a social pariah, and I am friends with boys rather than terrified of them.  I am confident for the first time in years.  However, all searches for Neverland rpove fruitless, and I must grow up after all.
This weekend, I am camping with my youth group in the wilds of Hanna Park, Jacksonville.  I am one of two girls on the trip, and my father has come with me because my mother does not like sleeping on the ground.  There is also the undeniable fact that I am a daddy’s girl.  Some of my favorite memories are business trips with my dad where I am privileged to be his assistant. 

 After our first night in at the camp ground, we hike to the beach. My friend, Brennen, brings his boogie board. “I’m going to sled down the dunes,” he tells us.
Brennen always has new ideas. He is tall and skinny with dark hair and eyes, and, when he smiles, it is bright and gentle. All the girls have a crush on him, but he’s too shy to acknowledge it.  I am filled with butterflies every time he smiles at me. 
The beach here boasts no true dunes, but there is large bump--almost a hill-- of sand with vegetation clinging to its edges as if refusing to relinquish the land to the sea. It looks like a scene from The Swiss Family Robinson.  We slide down the slope, denying that it is a complete and utter failure. We only scoot a few feet before the board loses momentum and sticks, but we are Floridians, after all, and we have no idea what real sledding feels like. To us, this is an epic adventure.
One of our group does not participate in the sledding. He digs under the roots of a tree that grows on its own little lump of sand so that the roots, free of earth, form a little cave.  Chuck scoops sand with his hands feverishly, and yells,  “Guys! Come ‘ere!" Freckled and frantic, he gestures at the hollow. “I feel something! I think it’s a chest! A treasure chest!”
We go into a frenzy. Chuck is shoved out of the way as all of us begin digging and dream of fame and riches, of all that glitters. Chuck chants, “Anyone who helps gets fifty percent! All of you! We’ll split it fifty-fifty!”
True to my nerdhood, I am the only person who finds this funny as one cannot share anything fifty-fifty with five people.  At most, we will have 20% each, but that's enough for me. I'll have an adventure out of it, as well, like something out of my story books.
We finally loose a metal chest from earth and root. It is brown, rusted over the years, and is not large, roughly one foot wide and two feet long.  Brushing back the sand, we find an inscription: “1945. Rocket Model X235.” We hesitate only for a moment, worry that the box may explode, before losing all sensibilities and spring, but the lid is rusted shut and refuses to be pried open.  What we don't realize is that this is a merc,y that we should abandon it completely. We, however, are blinded by dreams and tug at the box relentlessly.

In our scrambling, we attract a trio of onlookers, older teenage boys, who have the bright idea to begin dropping the chest on the boardwalk to break it open. Perhaps they are homicidal, hoping it will explode.  More than likely, they are as naïve and stupid as we are. 
So we drop the chest on the wooden board walk.
A clatter of the lid and handles.

The lid flies free, and a stench fills the air.
It is wet, heavy, with all the essence of rot holed away for years, folding over and over on itself until it has multiplied a hundredfold, until it is tangible.  To this day, I have never smelled anything half as vile.
A tarp tumbles out of the chest, a parachute, we think, with a bulge on one end. It rolls limply onto the sand, curled like a lima bean, the size of my forearm. Brennen shuffles his feet next to me. “If that’s a baby, I’m going to throw up. Oh, I hope it’s not a baby,” he swallows.
Even in the midst of the stink, I find this touchingly tender of him.

Unable to bear the suspense, Brennen moves forward, one hand cupping his nose, though it does no good, and seizes a corner of the tarp. He jerks it, and the bundle rolls free.
It is not an infant or a rocket.
It is a pelt. A small, damp, dark piece of fur. A slab of flesh of hair.

Chuck no longer chants about splitting treasure or wears any pride. He has uncovered an abomination.
Unable to leave it for sheer horror, we exchange theories about the thing’s identity. I think it is a terrier that once played fetch with his owner on this beach, their favorite spot, and his name was Ticker, indicated by a silver watch also inside the chest. The broken timepiece may very well mark the tragic hour in which Ticker passed.  I also speculate that the owner was Egyptian, but had no way to practice mummification in the ways of his ancient people, so he wrapped his pet in the parachute that had saved his life fleeing Nazi fighter pilots. The other girl on the trip, Amanda, compliments me on my imagination but laughs incredulously. To this day, we don’t know what we found.
Back at camp, we shower, scrubbing desperately but futilely as the chest's stench clings to us like leeches.  That night, Amanda and I are stationed in her mother’s camper, and I tell her all about the book I am writing because I am too jittery to sleep. Amanda tells me that I had better publish it because it sounds wonderful.  It has been thirteen years, and I am still working on that same book. 
That night, there is a thunderstorm, and we wake to find my best friend, Ryan—whom I have known since diapers—huddling and dripping puddles in our camper.  He makes a sarcastic comment about the privilege of females, smirking, as is his nature.  Aparently, the boys’ tents have flooded in the deluge.  As we sit in the camper that night with our drenched companions, now protected from the elements, Ryan and I know we will be friends forever.  His parents have planned our wedding, which we are not keen on. One does not marry one’s sibling, be it siblings by love or by blood.  Still, there is some prophecy in it.  Despite a falling out that has rendered us unable to speak of the past, eight years later, Ryan and I are in a wedding where he is the groom, but I am not, by any means, his bride. He marries my best friend, Julie, and, within a year, I become his sister-in-law. We are bound since birth, siblings by law.
The next morning, the boys and supplies are still damp, and none of us have slept well.  The adults seem to think this weekend a moderate failure.  I, however, find it a roaring success and will have a very, very good story to tell when I get home.
I do love a good story.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Miscellany Monday (A Day at the Aquarium)

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

As previously stated (and the fact that Monday in a cubicle is less than thrilling), I am going to overload you with pictures from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Was this my favorite part of the trip? I'm pretty darn sure. I have a weakness for all things sea-related, and a beautiful, interactive aquarium is somewhere I could lose myself for days. I feel like I'm going to have to start taking more pictures more often because these past few (and probably next few) posts have been picture heavy . . . and I'm so not someone who just takes pics of daily existence. Look! A pile of dirty dishes! A cat has once again taken over a pile of laundry! Such thrilling subjects! But we'll see what happens. Anywho . . . here are some of the not-already-featured highlights of the aquarium :] If you want to see others, just click the "California" label, and they should pop up. Enjoy!


The outdoor section of the aquarium, which included a waterfall/tidepool connected to the wave tunnel indoors, and, of course, a stunning view of the bay (with the summer fo rolling in, LOVED that fog)

I'm a sucker for pictures of staircases . . . I don't know why . . . I think it's the bold lines . . .

The thirty-foot-tall Kelp Forest Aquarium filled with fish of all shapes and sizes and small sharks

These rescued birds were in an open display--there was no glass seperating the aquarium visitors from the birds, but they kept their distance. I love shore birds.

Some pidgeons at the outdoor tide pool . . .

Upside-down jellies. The 70s-themed Jelly Fish exhibit was our favorite. I LOVE jellies.

Abby the Otter takes a nap in a bowl of ice . . . Cute enough to induce squeals of joy? Maybe definitely.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Catching up . . .

You know my favorite thing about downtime?
Snuggling up on the couch, having a Netflix Instant marathon (Psych, anyone?), and looking to my left, seeing my orange tabby curled up and purring, then, looking to my right, seeing my dingo snuggled up, trying to push my laptop off my lap with her nose. I am surrounded by furries, and it's glorious.

That and I can finally sit back and think about our trip.
I'm not sure if hours and hours in the car can be summed up in an intriguing manner . . . Someone drives, you sit, you all suffer navigating the foreign waters of new radio stations, the world whirls by. 
And really, as much as I'd like to, I can't really give you any interesting descriptions of the plane ride over because, quite frankly, I was unconscious. While my subconscious can be intriguing, to say the least (Kermit the Frog vs. Zombie Gorillas? A group of blonde psychotic cultists bent on taking over the world . . . until I destroyed their leader with a toaster? Time travel?), you really don't want to travel there for extended periods of time.
So, I present you with a bullet-list of my observations
  • If you're traveling with Steve, you'd better hope he wears a brightly covered shirt because that makes him easier to target as he is literally ZOOMING through the airport. And to the bus. We didn't even know where we were heading after we landed because Steve just started running outdoors weaving between traffic and other pedestrians. Don't stop. Not at all. He's a bloody hurricane
  • Maybe the airport is just in a crummy part of town, but LA was less than pretty . . . it reminded me of Orlando . . . but with more palm trees (if that's even possible), and a little scary. There must be another LA that looks like the heaven they use in movies because it wasn't the one we drove through
  • Chris's new boss is AWESOME. Laid back, friendly, sensible . . . and former special forces . . . with awesome stories . . . that he can't tell you . . . because then he'd have to kill you.
  • The company's celery packaging plant is actually much cooler than you'd think. Diamond tipped super-high-pressure water spouts to cut celery? Yeah, we're high-tech. 
  • If the music choice sucks because we can't find a radio station everyone agrees on, be prepared for the hubs to suddenly, out of the blue, make a MAD DASH for the music section of any random store. I mean, there one minute, gone the next. The Flash by sheer artistic desperation. 
  • Carmel is the prettiest place EVER. And I mean EVER EVER EVER.  First off: coastline--gorgeous. Houses and cottages I can never even dream to own in every style imagined--fabulous (take THAT Winter Park! You're a lame mockery). And they have hotels like this:
No photo can possibly capture the awesome garden and quaintness of this little hotel. LOVE.

Yeah, our room had a fireplace. No air conditioning. So, we slept with the window open and the fire roaring. Happy and snug? As a bug in a rug. Heck. Yes.

  •   Due to leaving Oxnard a day early, we had an extra day to play around in Carmel and Monterey. Just FYI, you totally need to visit the aquarium there. I mean, if you're into stuff that's awesome.

I might need  to do an entire post JUST of photos from the aquarium. It was beyond fabulous. 

  • After the aquarium, Lisa, my MIL, had this idea . . . Dear Lisa, beautiful (seriously, it's not FAIR how gorgeous this woman is) and sweet Lisa, decided that, since we had a "late" breakfast (because, really 9:00 AM on a "lazy" day may be a little late, but it's not brunch . . .) and an "early" dinner, thought that, instead of grabbing lunch, we should go buy fresh cherries.
    In a way, this was a GREAT idea because, seriously, I don't even like cherries, and these were DELICIOUS.
    However, due to not eating lunch (not that I was really hungry), and eating maybe six cherries, my stomach hated me.
    I thought eating a little bread at dinner would help. Yeah, no. Maybe visit the bathroom? Yeah, no, it smelled like someone had crapped, barfed, and died after rolling in anchovies. All at once.
    I kept having flashbacks to the time I spent the night with a friend and woke up with a stomach ache. In her great eight-year-old wisdom, my friend told me to eat breakfast. Being terrified of puking, and seeing the only way to survive as starvation, I refused. Then she pulled the "Do NOT waste those Froot Loops and milk I just poured for you--DO NOT WASTE." Guess what made a sudden reappearance in her car. Yep.
    So, here I am, trying to eat some soup at what seemed to be the BEST seafood restaurant ever, and all I can think of are soggy Froot Loops.
    By the time I was back in bed, I was grouchy, near tears, and cramping so badly I thought I was going into labor . . . but without a pregnancy . . .
    I have never been in so much pain. Luckily, I woke up alive . . .and without any unexpected offspring . . . .

But this is long enough . . . maybe more another post :]

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dear Friday Letters


Dear Friday: Thank GOD you’re here! The hubs and I have so needed you. You’re glorious, did you know that?

Dear Monday: In thinking about Friday, I remember why I dislike you so much. Please don’t come this week. At all. You need a vacation, I think, and everyone would love you for it. I mean, really, if you take an extended vacation, YOU—Monday—would be everyone’s all-time favorite. Don’t you want that??? DON’T YOU?!?

Dear Odd Thomas: The hubs bought every one of your adventures last month, and he’s actually reading all of them. Thank you for reintroducing him to the joy of literature. Just finished rereading your first great tale, and it still makes my heart pound. You were, after all, the first book in YEARS to make me gasp aloud. I can’t wait to read more about my favorite seer. And, oh wait, more books on you out this year? So excited. See you soon, Oddie.

Dear Cat:  Your text messages make my day bright and make me laugh. I hope your blistering sunburn feels better. You'll have to let me know if the tea-soaked washcloth worked.

Dear California: I miss you. This seven month separation is so not cool. I need more of sights like these in my life again.

Jellyfish from the new exhibit in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Favorite? Just maybe MOST FAVORITE. Yes.

Rolling hills near Hollister, California, across the street from the best fresh cherries stand EVER

Outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium  . . . you know, on the bay . . .

Dear Armadillo: I am so sorry. Please believe me when I say that I PLEADED with the hubs to leave you alone, that you were so ugly you were cute and too stupid to be harmless. I’m sorry, but it’s true—you weren’t very bright. You did almost crawl onto my toes that night and you liked to bother our dingo by posing outside our fence.
To only affirm your lack of brilliance, you taunted the hubs, reappearing every morning, always just out of reach, before vanishing. You do NOT taunt my husband. It takes you from being a joke to a nemesis. The man wants to be a superhero, and they KILL nemeses. Just FYI.
You should not have returned to the palmetto bush, dear, after the hubs had already spotted you this morning. You should have changed your route instead of ambling towards the swamp, once again, like always. You should have tucked in your tail, under that bush, instead of leaving it out in the open like a bloody neon sign.
And now you’re dead. Shot stone-cold dead.
Please understand that I did not approve. I was most distraught.
Again, I apologize for a man being a man. He was ever so proud.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meet My F.I.L. aka "The Whirlwind"

As I look back on our five day trip to California, previewing our future home, I realize, in part, that story really isn’t about me.
It’s about a guy named Steve.
When I first meet Steve, I am fifteen, and he is taking his wife, his daughter—my best friend, Julie—and me to a Third Day concert (anyone remember them? Oh golly, that seems ages ago) for Julie's fifteenth birthday. We are running late and have to stop by their house for reasons I have forgotten.
Steve HATES running late.  It makes him antsy. Take it from me, you do NOT want Steve antsy.
The entire truck seems to snap with his energy, and the air seems to thicken as he growls.  Julie and I, usually twittering like over-enthusiast birds, are struck dumb in his presence, as if instinct told us that speaking would shatter something very precious. 
Thirty minutes after meeting Steve, I meet my future husband, asleep on the living room couch, but that’s a tale for another time.
This time, it’s about Steve.
Over the years, as I frequent Julie's house for sleepovers, Steve habitually sits silently in his recliner, posed midway between sleep and consciousness, watching a football game or live concert with a beer in hand. Even when he is relaxed, Steve emits a certain intensity. 
At this time he ignores me, but he still makes me incredibly nervous. You see, I’m already a sort of anxious person—I’m constantly tapping or twitching with my thoughts darting unceasingly like minnows in a pond. I do not sit still well, nor do I make eye contact when speaking.  In high school, I am notoriously terrified by the opposite sex.  Steven is the epitome of the things that send my nerves into a frenzy: loud, direct, and quick-tempered.
Over time, Steve—gruff, blunt, and living by his own rules—ceases to frighten me (as all males did) but instead merely becomes a presence. He is there, I am there, and we accept this fact quietly.
Then, at nineteen, I begin dating his only son, and it seems Steve and I realize our relationship must change. We must truly acknowledge each other, appreciate each other, even.
The strangest thing happens. 
The being who once reminded me of a grizzly now seems respectable, humorous, and, by golly, I even like his company.
Steve still sits in his recliner watching his giant television, but Chris and I sit and watch with him.  We talk about things—politics, cars, purchases, agriculture (Steve and Chris’s line of work), and food.
If Steve knows anything well, it’s good food.
If the man tells you to eat it, you eat it. You will not be disappointed.  The man’s a king of culinary fineries from sushi to barbecue.
What do I like most about Steve? He’s notoriously honest.  The man doesn’t sugarcoat a thing. If you’re acting the part of the village idiot, he will tell you, boldly without any hesitation, that you are “a nincompoop.”
Quite frankly, most times he’s right.  There’s wit and wisdom churning in there. Everyone who has spent time with him knows this and respects him for it. If you want advice, you go to Steve.
He talks about all taboo subjects fearlessly but not without reason. It never seems inappropriate when Steve brings up politics and religion, oddly enough, and he doesn’t do it to start a fight.   He just speaks his mind, and it reveals itself to be a sharp tool. 
And, cliché as it is, beneath all the prickles, he’s a big teddy bear inside.  He’s generous (grumbles about the bill as he might), and he loves his family and his Christ deeply. Everything about Steve is intense, even his affection. 
Also, he makes me laugh.  Sometimes, without meaning to, but, even then, I am laughing with him, and, may I add, I giggle with the utmost respect. 
When I learn that Steve and his wife, Lisa (oh, how opposites attract), will be chaperoning our trip to California, I find myself, again, nervous.
It is one thing to see someone weekly at church or family dinners. It is an entirely different thing to travel with them.  
Before I continue, let me assure you that my in-laws and I are still friends. We still enjoy each other’s company.  There were no shouting matches, gnashing of teeth, or drawing of weapons. In fact, we all escaped unscathed, though utterly and completely exhausted, because, you see, Steve stops for no man.
I just thought it was rather vital, before I begin tell you about our trip in any sort of detail, that you understand its key player. Steve, after all, ran the show in Cali. 
It only took stepping into the airport that first time to realize that Steve is a hurricane . . . or a tornado? A tornacane???
When Steve’s coworkers ask, “Hey, Chris! How was your trip?”
Chris replies, “It was really good, had a great time . . . but it was a bit exhausting with the Whirlwind in command.”
They always laugh. Why? Because they know EXACTLY what we mean.

In Cali, my FIL versus the peacock . . . guess who's winning . . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"I Have a Place Where Dreams Are Born . . ."

Some days, I have flashbacks.
Like suddenly I’m five-years-old, jumping on the bed, trying to fly away to Neverland.

I’m in my Oma and Papa’s apartment, which always smells like cigarette ashes, and I’m watching a movie in their bedroom with my little brother while the adults talk in the sitting room. 
Papa is in his recliner in the next room. He never seems to move out of that chair, and he’s always wearing black socks that seem horribly out of place with his pale blue pajamas.  When he talks it’s a guttural mumbling.
He’ll only live five more years, but we don’t know that yet.  I won’t cry at his funeral because all I can see is a recliner, blue pajamas, and black socks, a man I am too shy to hug when we said goodbye because I don’t really know him. The only time we really spend together (that I remember) is when he, my mom, Oma, Matthew and I watch a National Geographic special on leeches years later.  Random, yes, (and, I mean, really who wants to write, film, and produce a special on LEECHES? Gross). . . but I remember perching on the edge of the couch with Papa nearby in his recliner, saying little, those black socks an eyesore.  Don't think I don't understand the tragedy of that: that my grandfather's memory is reduced to socks.  Sometimes, I think about that, and I get twisted inside, but, most times, I feel very little.
In my childhood, I am closer to my Oma, who covers us in hugs and kisses and always has the best movies and lets us drink Coke straight out of the can—no cups, only the can.  Still, whenever I drink Coke out of the can, I’m back at my Oma’s.  Her memory tastes like soda pop.
My brother Matthew (he’s not “Matt” until he’s in high school) and I are watching Mary Martin’s Peter Pan.  It is one of our favorites, but we call it "Murphy Martin" because that's what Matthew thinks its title is.  Matthew used to steal my ballet shoes because they looked like the Lost Boys’ shoes, and we could spend hours acting out the story of Peter Pan, singing all of the songs and bravely fighting off the vicious pirates of our imagination.
 And, to my child’s mind, the filmed stage play looked so real. The first time Peter Pan flew into Wendy’s bedroom window, I was in awe.

Dude, he/she FLEW. Actually soared in, lightly as a leaf, and lands in the nursery as if a soap bubble--no effort, pure joy.
I mean, there it was, all of my dreams, RIGHT THERE.
People could fly.
They really, really could!
And if they could fly, I could fly! All I needed were happy thoughts . . .
So I jump on that floral-patterned bed, higher and higher, harder and harder, thinking the doggone happiest thoughts I can (mermaids and Barbies and tree forts and frogs and peanut butter!), until my mother opens the door.  
“Sarah! Matthew! What are you doing? STOP JUMPING ON THE BED.”
“But we’re trying to fly to Never Neverland!”
I give another good bounce, but stop, because Mom is giving me “the look” (you know the one).
“Honey, you can’t fly to Neverland.  People can’t fly."
My mother, a sweet and blessed woman, was always the realist.  And by “realist” I don’t mean a pessimist—I mean a staunch realist—if it can’t happen in real life, why bother with it?  This moment, this miniscule event, foreshadowed our biggest future difference – she liked movies and books within the realm of possibility . . . I like mutants, fairytales, and all things imaginary. I’m proud to say that, twenty years later, my mother has embraced things like Tolkien, and I have learned the value in realistic fiction.  But that’s not for many years.
This day, she looks at me with tender pity in her eyes, “Sarah, people can’t fly.”
I was indignant. Didn’t she see them? Was she BLIND? Adults are notoriously unable to see the simpliest things. This must be one of those moments. Surely, I can show her the error of her ways . . .
“Yes, they can! Look! They’re flying! All I need are happy thoughts! Happy thoughts!” and I bounce again with fervor.
“No, Sarah, sweetie, they’re not flying. Look, you can see the strings attached to their backs.”
“No, no, they’re flying!”
“Look? See the strings? They’re lifting the actors off the stage so they look like they’re flying.”
I stop bouncing, slip down from the bed, and walk to the television until my nose is nearly pressed against the screen.
I look.
And I see.
I see those thin, wavering lines that had once been invisible to me. Now, they are screaming at me, swelling through the screen.
“Yes, sweetheart.”
I am caught somewhere between scientific curiosity and denial.  Surely, Peter Pan could really fly. Surely, surely . . . but, no there are the strings. What did it feel like? To be hoisted by strings? Did it feel like flying?  I want to fly, I do, so very badly.  I’m not afraid of heights, yet, and I’m dreaming of flying away to Neverland, of living in tree houses and frolicking with mermaids, of pixies and pirates and crocodiles.  Still, there are the strings . . . and suddenly Wendy’s nursery is a stage, a little box in grey paint, and the dancing trees have little feet poking out from under their trunks, shuffling about.
And all the world’s a stage.
So I stop jumping on the bed, and I settle down, peering intensely at the screen, looking for the strings. It became a game, really—figure out how they made magic in movies, fall out of the story and dive into the technique.

And something in me stopped looking for Never, Neverland . . . mostly . . . not completely. Something still wished for it. Even now, I still want Neverland to exist, somewhere . . . and, maybe it does . . . 

Sometimes, I'm just too busy looking for the strings to find it . . .

Monday, July 16, 2012

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

The most shocking thing in California?
It wasn’t the price of gas (not nearly as bad as I had thought) or the weather (heaven) or my FIL's need to rise before the break of dawn every morning just because (which was shocking), but the windows. Why?
We went to a friend of the in-laws for a cookout, and I marveled at how clean their windows were. I mean, just sparkling you-could-run-into-them-because-they’re-so-doggone-clear clean windows.  The next day it hit me: there were no screens. There were no bug-carcass-encasing screens. None.
We stayed in a hotel with NO AIR CONDITIONING, we were COLD, and we slept with a fireplace on and the window cracked. WITH NO SCREENS.
When I told my mom this, she exclaimed, incredulously, “Nuh-huh! Sarah, there HAD to be screens!”
Nope, not a one. 
And no bugs.  I think I saw one harmless fly. ONE. That’s it. No spiders, no roaches, and not a single mosquito.
Oh, gosh and golly, this may be heaven.

Yesterday, I went to my folks’ to deliver souvenirs. 
As Mom and my middle sister, Davie, were leaving for gymnastics (Davie’s . . . not my mom’s . . . I probably just clarified that without any real need), my five-year-old baby sister, Ellie, crept up beside me and whispered, “Um, Sawah, can we pway?”
“Sure, honey. What do you want to play?”
“Um . . . can we pway Wii? I want to pway Wego Star Wars.”
And so we did.
We quickly discovered that Ellie and I play at about the same skill level . . .which probably means really good things for her and really bad things for me.
Considering that my character fell to its doom every time I had to cross a bridge, I don't see any real future career as a gamer . . . or, at least, as a good one.
I can’t help it. He falls, screams, breaks into a billion pieces, and then, magically reappears . . . only to have the situation repeated as I attempt two more steps.
And we’re not even a third of the way across the tiny bridge.

That’s skill, peeps.
And, yes, after one session of “Just Dance 3” I totally purchased it (which I may regreat when the hubs decides to watch and start mocking me . . . Glory, I won't hear the end of it).
So much fun  . . . such a dork (seriously . . . I can't bloody dance to save my life) . . . and such a workout  (hence the purchase . . . I love a workout disguised as totally not a workout).

The highlight: playing with my sixteen-year-old sister-Cat-and little Ellie, losing miserably, and Ellie exclaiming, “Sawah! I BEAT YOU!!! I’VE NEVER BEAT A BIG KID BEFOW!!! YAY!!!”
Yeah, she totally slaughtered me.
Three times.

Again, I gots skillz.

See? I have so much skill, I used improper grammar and spelled it with a “z.”
My coolness meter is growing.
P.S. As a testimony to said coolness meter growth, I apparently actually WON something.
I cannot begin to express my giddiness.
Because, seriously, we're talking a kid who's never won any sort of raffle and whose schools always lost their homecoming games (at least when I was in attendence). I kind of seem to be on the losing side . . . so much in fact, that when I burst out, "OH MY GOSH!!! CHRIS, I WON!!!"
He replied dryly, "Were you the only person who entered?"
"Is it a scam?"
See? Even my hubs doubts my luck-of-the-draw.
But, NO MORE!!!
Check it out! :]
Yeah, I'm a tiny bit excited XD

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The eagle has landed! The eagle has landed!

Peeps, we're back.

I highly regret not blogging during our trip, but I was prevented by two items as follows:
  1. The hard disk (or something along those disky lines), died, leaving my lappy incapacitated in the hands of my oh-so-talented father, who managed to nurse the sickly thing back to health, bless his heart. What a joyous reunion we two--lappy and blogger--shall have. 
  2. This was not a "vacation" as I was led to believe but more of an . . . excursion? A go-go-go-nonstop sort of thing? A I'm-too-tired-to-reflect-on-my-day-or-create-something-remotely-amusing sort of conquest? 
I took a few snaps on instagram  (link to your left), and a few more on my camera, but, honestly, we didn't have much time for photo ops.

You see, this entire expedition was led by my father-in-law, and the man doesn't bloody stop. Not for an instant. Energizer Bunny, you've met your match.  I'm not really complaining--the man knows how to get things done . . . but his definition of "vacation" and mine are slightly different . . . in the way that tornado differs from a pleasant breeze.
In that order.
And, actually, in that exact style.
No hard feelings. Had a blast . . . but, by golly, I have never done so much, so EARLY, during a "vacation."

HOWEVER!!! Despite the 6:30 and earlier wake-up calls every day save one (that day was 7:30, thank you very much . . . sleeping in . . . yep), we really loved our trip and are SO ready to jump on a plane to Cali and settle down permanently.
The place suits us.
No, really.
Cool weather, easy-going folks, and all kinds of artsy-fartsy going-ons in settings from golden hills to foggy seasides. 
Plus, the produce. MY GOSH. THE PRODUCE. I have never tasted berries so sweet and avocado so refreshing. I'm a guac addict now, thank you very much.

More tales to come. :]

I've missed you all in blogger-world! Can't wait to catch up and read all your lovely posts! Have a fabulous weekend, loves!