Almost there...

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I can't imagine what Ellen's going through right now. My heart aches for her loss.

My cousin lost a baby just a few weeks short of term. He was a perfect little angel at the funeral, with gorgeous curly red hair, and a face that never took a breath. It was her second child. The placenta just disintegrated unexpectedly and he died. But at least it was her second child. She had one to hold and comfort her. And she knew that she could carry to term. She now has another little girl.

But for Ellen, to lose her first child so close to the end. We talked last week about how the baby had dropped into position and it wouldn't be long now, about how the baby was doing cartwheels on the inside. She's wanted children for so long. The anguish of going through labor and delivery, knowing that the only thing at the end of that would be more tears. The questions and anxiety about whether there would be a next time. And then if there is a next time, it will be nine months of pure torture and anxiety, knowing at any moment it could end.

I can't imagine. When I do, it makes me cry big wet tears on my sweater. I wish there was more I could do. I wish that the pain I feel over this loss was somehow subtracting pain from how she feels about it. I wish things were different.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Good weekend.

Friday night, Kev and Rachel and Rick and I went out to dinner at Fiesta del Mar and had the too tempting Enchiladas Enjococados. Yummers. We followed that up with a trip to the Golfland in Sunnyvale, which seems to have recently renovated one of their courses to add a polynesian theme. What used to be a clown faced hole is now a sort of tiki god that had us all chanting "Ooo ga cha ka, ooo ga cha ka!". Kevin scored a masterful hole in one on the loop. Even though I landed one ball in the pond, and knocked a couple of others clean off the course, I still had the best score in the end due in large part to a couple of lucky shots at the volcano holes. After that, Kev and Rick both proceeded to kick my butt at air hockey.

Saturday morning, Rick headed out to Dionysia while I lounged in bed a bit longer and got up for the Fezziwigs cast party. It was a nice party. Plenty of food, plenty of good friends, and a bit of dancing. Greg and Barbara have a lovely home, and Byron is 6 months old now and has the biggest smile on earth. It's exceptionally kind of them to host the party.

Since Rick went to Dionysia instead of Tempest, I had a spare ticket. I had offered it to Paul, but he decided to stay home with Karen since he'd seen the band just 8 days prior. At the cast party, I was thinking of offering the ticket to several folks, but when Rachel arrived, I realized she was the one who should go. I asked if she had plans for the evening. She didn't, so I tempted her with the ticket. At 5:30 we headed out for the show, only to run into traffic in the city. We called Dawn and Bates who'd left 20 minutes earlier and asked them to pick up our tickets at the box office. Between that and Nicole and Dougie saving seats and Janice and Bates both giving us directions, we arrived and felt loved and taken care of by our community. The dance floor was packed most of the night, but we got a couple of good sets in and a lot of head banging in between. (And oh my neck is sore!) The highlight of the night was the band's rendition of Stonehenge, complete with miniature Stonehenge descending from the ceiling and dancing midgets. Well, dancing girls who are small anyway. It was bloody hilarious. Beyond that, it was fantastic to see John Berger performing with the band again. He's such an amazing fiddle player. Hearing a bunch of the old favorites was also a major bonus.

We drove back to Emeryville to drop Rachel at her car and stop at Lyon's for munchies and lounging with Dougie, Nicole, Bates, Dawn, Jennifer, and Rachel. Then on home for a few hours sleep with Nym on my head.

The next day I woke up lazy. I managed to do laundry and clean my room, but spent a lot of time culling Tivo. Tivo is so smart. It recorded a Judy Garland/Gene Kelly flick from 1942 I'd never seen before. This was a treat. Those two are my two favorite performers of that era, and together they are song and dance magic. The movie - For Me and My Gal - was a predictable tale of two Vaudeville performers who took an instant dislike to one another, then fell in love. The twist was that it was set in World War 1, and was made during World War 2, and seemed to be a sort of morality play on how good people behave during the war. Good people enlist. When a loved one dies in the war, it's your job to do your part in the war for the sake of their memory. If you try to dodge the draft by injuring yourself, people will find out and hate you and you'll be crippled for life. Good people who can't fight buy war bonds. Good men who can't fight go to war with the YMCA as volunteers. Heroism can redeem even cowards. Anyway, suffice to say that it was a bit preachy. It even had an item on the end credits saying "America needs your money. Buy war bonds and stamps at this theatre." But there were some fantastic numbers with Gene and Judy. My Tivo loves me. It just knew that'd be the perfect thing I wanted to see on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

In the evening, we tried to go see School of Rock, but failed, and ended up having a nice evening of Golden Globes and Hoopla with Kevin and Rachel. All around, a mighty fine weekend. Rick had fun at Dionysia. I had a great time at Tempest. And the highlights were just extra highs added to an already great weekend.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Wog. I always said there was no way I'd ever have kids unless I could guarantee I'd have a girl, and then, and only then, I'd consider having one. So, it looks like my last official barrier to procreation is gone. Of course, I'm still not interested in raising a child. Still, it's interesting to say the least. Didn't figure that would happen so quickly.

(Monday Edit) Since a couple of folks asked about this this weekend, I thought I'd mention that the element of it costing $18k is still an awfully big barrier. Beyond that, when I say happening so quickly, I don't mean within my lifetime as much as within my years of fertility. I've got maybe 10 years of official fertility left. Kinda figured this would be my standing excuse to family in the intervening years. Guess not. Ultimately, I'm just a really good crazy aunt. I loved nothing better than to entertain Ella and Camryn during the Christmas break while mom and dad did wild and wacky things like decorated the house and ate hot food. Five days of kids is great. A lifetime is more than I'm setting out to acheive. If it were to turn out that one of the children I care about needed a home for some deranged reason, I would step up in a heartbeat. But barring that, I'd rather contribute to the world in other ways.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

So I was reading Miceland, and thought it'd be cool to see what Mice wants to know about Ammy. Here goes:

Here are the rules for this meme.
1 - Send an email saying you want to be interviewed. (modified slightly from the original leave a comment version)
2 - I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.
3 - You'll update your journal with my five questions, and your five answers.
4 - You'll include this explanation.
5 - You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

So these are the questions I was asked and my answers. If you would like me to
ask you 5 (different ) I will do so.

Here are your 5 questions.

1. Describe one family tradition you enjoy throughly.

It's funny, but I saved this one until the end. I can't think of a single family tradition that is particularly special. We just do the basic holidays. My mom's side of the family gathers on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas, and we always have my grandma's country gravy over the turkey and cornbread dressing. Oh, and there's the ginger snaps. My grandma makes the best ginger snaps ever.

I think I have to broaden the definition of family here. The group in Sac has a lot of traditions that I thoroughly enjoy - the Christmas night gathering at Ian & Sara's house, the Easter Egg promises exchange, the fourth of July Bring Your Own Bomb party, Krazy Khabib's, the Greek events. I think my favorite is Lenaea. It never ceases to amaze me how fantastically talented my friends are. At Lenaea, people stretch and challenge themselves in totally unexpected ways. It's a beautiful thing, and it always makes me aspire to do more.

2. If you made a a movie about your life so far, how would you pitch it (sell
it) to a prospective financer?

Well, I'd have to choose a focus. I'd probably pick my two years in LA. The two minute elevator pitch? A northern California girl comes to a foreign country - Los Angeles - to teach high school. Torn between two worlds linked only by the road, she redefines what is important to her. She struggles with duality in every area of her life - the desire to do morally fulfilling work while her friends make piles of cash in the dotcom boom, finding love and finding new definitions for love, being a teacher while still feeling like the student in so many ways, and ultimately, having only the road as her constant companion. Five and I.

3. The character of Jean Luc Picard said once, "Regrets, I'm full of them." Do
you have any?

Oh heavens yes. Too many. You'd think I were Catholic. I still regret being rude and unkind to a neighbor after their dog had troubled my dog. After my mom pointed out how rude that was, I regretted it ever since. I think I was 9 at the time. Still, it can bring a cringe to my face just thinking about it. Such is life. It seems nearly every choice comes with some regret for not taking the other path, be that going to Berkeley instead of Davis, finishing my education quickly, choosing to be an English major over something that better warmed my soul, not doing more theater, not doing more to keep certain friendships alive... oh heck I've got a million of them. The trouble with being an analytical sort is that I always wish I could take all the paths to see which one works out best. I used to read all the possible endings in those Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid.

But I guess, top of the list right now is getting drawn into that argument with my grandfather over religion on Christmas Eve. I used to get sucked in when I was a teenager. I know better now than to let him suck me in. But darn it, I just can't abide by the idea that every Arab on Earth is out to murder us all. Anyway, shouldn't have done it. Certainly shouldn't have said to my southern baptist grandparents that organized religion was the problem at that the world would be better off without. Especially not on Christmas. That was just stupid.

Oh, and I really regret not accepting the collect call from love.

4. If you could only eat one flavor of pie for the rest of your life, what would
it be and why?

Oooh. That's tricky. It's either French Apple or Chocolate Satin, both from Marie Calendars. Probably the French Apple, because there's other alternatives to scratch the chocolate satin itch. Mmm.... pie. Pie sounds really good now.

5. If you could get 1000$ to be insulted to your face but then hypnotized to
forget it immediately afterwards, would you do it?

Heck yeah! I already know what I'd spend it on! I wouldn't even care if I didn't get to forget it immediately.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I've started a new Dance Fitness class with Joan Walton on Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunch. I've taken the Dance Fitness class in the past with a different instructor, who was entirely ballet-centric. Joan's class has been much better because although it deals a lot with ballet and jazz technique, if you know just the basics, you can get along alright. The one arena where I'm consistently challenged is on the floor work where we travel across the floor doing lots of crazy jazz walks while your arms are doing something entirely unrelated. All the dance forms I do either involve having your hands held by others or having your arms at your sides. This whole arms and legs being coordinated thing is way out of my depth. Other people in the class, people with more ballet experience, do really well with this stuff. In fact, it's fun to just watch some of them as they glide across with more grace and beauty than I can ever muster. Truly amazing. Well, that was until today. Today our travelling step started out as a polka/gallop step, which meant I had plenty of mental resources left to work on coordinating my arms. I looked almost as graceful as everyone else, which was super cool. Then she switched it to a heel click from the Hungroise. I already knew the Hungroise. I can even merrily do the air pivots in it with a good partner. The heel clicks are a straight legged version of a jig step turned sideways. I glided across the floor feeling confident, only to notice everyone else in the class was suddenly struggling. Really really struggling. So much so that they waited and asked her for more info after class. I've never ever seen this before. Usually, Joan demonstrates, and they do it without hesitation. It was a rather odd turn of the tables, and kind a relief. It's nice to know that at least part of why most of it is harder for me than them is just because our repertoire is different.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Last week, I didn't get into the Anatomy class I wanted to take. I was 21 on the waiting list. Three people got in. Such is life. I'll try again next quarter.

The upside is that this is the kick in the shorts required to get me to start shopping for a way to make a weekly ceili in the south bay possible. So far, I've looked into two different pubs - Fibbar Mcgees and Molly Mcgees. Molly's had great space, plenty of room for dancing and such and still lots of room for the regular customers, but they don't serve food and their non-alcoholic drink selection is thin. Dancers aren't heavy drinkers. It's hard to do Irish dance well while you're drunk. Generally it's one pint of Guiness or pear cider, and dancing the rest of the time. So this isn't necessarily the best fit. Last night, Rachel and I went to Fibbar McGees, which does serve food, and has the full range of sodas and juice in addition to the full range of alcohol. Rachel had an "unusually good" Midori Sour. Unfortunately, the space isn't as well suited to dancing. Still, they're both still on the list of possibilities. We'll see how it turns out. More pubs to come. I've been to the King's Head in the past, and expect we'll have breakfast at St. Stephen's Green sometime this weekend. If anyone knows about other pubs I should look into, let me know. I've got some other ideas if all the pubs turn up cold, but it would be the ideal location.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Oh! Before I go...

Tempest is having their 15th Anniversary show in Davis on January 24th at 8pm. I'm going, and I need at least 3 others to dance with. Who wants to come out and play? Irish dancing and gleeful waltzes will both be done. I can't believe how long I've been going to see this band. I remember the 5th anniversary show clearly, and that was after a couple years of liking them already. If Leif can keep rocking, so can I.

Work is going to be busy for a while. Especially January. I think it's good though. It's nice to feel like I'm earning my pay.

Everyone loves our office decor. I found a lovely poster of a Paris cafe. It even has yellow walls like the walls of our office. I have one more light bulb to buy, and some green fabric for curtains around the poster. Otherwise, it's all done.

Now, at 8:15, I'm trying to decide - stick around for 45 minutes until the start of Jammix, or go home. Nah - I'm going home. G'night all.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Lemons

I had to move out of my old office because rather than simply having Jo-Ann move into Ally's old desk and leaving well enough alone, someone with bigger stones wanted my window, so I moved to an ugly windowless hole, including moving Ally's old desk so that Jo-Ann could sit at it. It must have made sense to someone.

Lemonade

We painted the new office on Saturday with a yellow base coat and a rusty brown glaze sponged over the top. It's warm and sunny feeling in here now, and we don't even have the faux-windows done yet. Everyone in the office is impressed with how nice it looks, especially compared to every other space in the building. Now I just need to find a Paris streetscape poster or Irish hills poster to have as my window on the world. Jo-Ann is going to have a beach scene faux-window on her wall since she's the tropical girl. Then we'll happily inhabit the dreary little windowless hovel, because it's just not dreary anymore.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Ten days. Vacation is good. Back home now. To catch up, here's the summary version...

The holidays were good. It started with a pseudo family reunion for the Wreyford side of the gang, with a trip to my Cousin Debbie's house in Novato. Her husband Ken is a space nut and touring his in-home museum was fantastic. He's working on a museum exhibit at the tech museum in October. More information will follow, but suffice to say, it's a neat collection, and it must be nice to be wealthy.

Christmas Eve, the Sacramento Bee printed an article about Urban Tribes. I wrote to the person creating the article after hearing about it on the Barbarians list thinking, "Hey, that describes the group in Sac perfectly." With the best of intentions, I talked to the writer. Her agenda focused more on how tribes are replacing blood families more than being a second family. For me, the group is just that. They are my chosen family. We get together on Christmas night after all the other Christmas activities to spend some time winding down and share gifts and food with one another after our compulsory family events. We also get together lots of other times during the year - for an Easter Egg hunt with promises in the eggs, for Krazy Khabib's food festival, for various neo-Hellenic pagan events like Pyanepsia, Lenea, and Dionysia, for the 4th of July Bring Your Own Bomb party, for poker nights, for Anne and Mario's annual reading of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. My blood family gets together for the compulsory holidays, but our religious and political differences make us less close than I am to my friends. Anyway, I went to my grandparents' place for Christmas Eve, and things seemed more or less fine, and I'll never know whether they read the article or not, but likely they did. My grandparents are highly skilled at avoiding topics which may cause discord. Usually. At the end of the night, my grandpa started railing against "Arabs" and "Islamic people" saying that they were raised from birth to hate us and that they're all out to get us. I countered that the problem isn't Islam itself, but religious extremism. I cited Northern Ireland and later the Ku Klux Klan as causing untold bloodshed in the name of Christ. He kept trying to impress on my how the Islamic world was going to rise up and kill us all. I countered that the world would be better off without organized religion of any kind, since it causes so much death and misery in this world and since we need only live by one simple rule - treat others as you would wish to be treated. It's that simple. Anyway, we went several rounds, and nobody won. It's been at least six or seven years since I've had one of these nights with my grandparents. I suspect that maybe the 112 words in the paper didn't help matters.

The next day at my Aunt Debbie's house for dinner with the Hill family, my uncle Howard handed me the paper and asked if that was me. I said yes with a heavy sigh. He handed the article to my dad on his way out. Joy. We hung out with my dad at his place for a few hours before heading over to the Wilson's place to wind down. By the time we arrived, I was so relieved to be there.

On the plus side, I got just about everything I wanted from my wishlist that was $100 or less. Quite a haul. Personal favorites include the Battlestar Galactica boxed set and a Trogdor the Burninator babydoll t-shirt. Lots of other stuff too.

So then we went to Seattle for five days. Dirk and Tracey and Camryn were all sick when we arrived, but we seem to have escaped unscathed. Camryn is as adorable as ever, having recently turned three. We got her her first games ever for Christmas - CandyLand and Chutes and Ladders. She really liked Candyland. We also got to meet Ella, who's just 3 months old and snuggly. She liked falling asleep with me. After a day or so, I could get her to fall asleep like magic. Just add warm blanket and rocking chair and get one snoozy baby. Reading a book with a sleeping baby on your chest is quite a treat. Ella is more fussy than Camryn ever was, but still a pretty mellow baby. Tracey has gotten totally hooked on Buffy and is watching them in reruns now since Ella is a night-owl. Camryn is hooked on Dora the Explorer. Thank goodness for Tivo. I don't know how parents could do without one.

On our way out of town, we stopped in at the Utilikilts store where they recognized Rick immediately. They were just finishing up on the judging for the mock-u-mercial. They assured him that "You're going to have a very happy new year." Turns out his commercial won first prize!

We flew home on the 30th. Well, we flew out of Seattle, then came back due to a leaky oxygen tank in the cockpit, then flew home. In the meantime, it had started snowing. Snow falling is pretty.

On the 31st, I pulled myself out of bed and headed to Tate's to cook like a maniac. I peeled shrimp for curry and cut cucumber and tomatoes for a Thai cucumber salad. I made yummy spanakopita. But the big news was baklava. Now I know how to make it, and the really bad news is that it's easy. Time consuming, but easy. Lots of nuts. Lots of layers of buttered filo. A simple sugar sauce. The recipe called for walnuts. I've often had it with pistachios. But as walnuts in a recipe can almost always be replaced with pecans to make a better treat, I tried it, and boy oh boy was it good. Now when I want baklava, I'll make it myself, my way. Yummy yummy yummy. Krazy Khabib's was a success. We toasted in the new year and kissed and hugged and it was good.

On New Year's Day, we dutifully ate our black-eyed peas to ensure prosperity in the new year (but really to ensure avoiding a haranguing by my grandma). We spent the day lounging around with my mom, eating quiche and watching Queer Eye, Faking It, and Seabiscuit. It was the laziest day I've had in recent memory, and it was nice. We packed up and headed home to sleep in my own bed. Nym was VERY happy to see us. She spent last night wrapped around my head on my pillow. She's decided that's the best place to sleep. Good thing I'm not allergic to her. We spent another lazy day here, going to see Big Fish at the Mercado, followed by supper at Tomatina. Big Fish is a good film. Go see it. Tonight I'm off to Friday Night Waltz and Rick is going to go play with Cyrus. Tomorrow is the PEERS Twelfth Night Ball. Then it's back to work on Monday. The last two weeks have whizzed by. I hope I'm ready for work on Monday. Right now it seems entirely too soon.