#tbt: Moving back to California

Five years ago, Drew and I packed up most of our New York stuff, and drove back to California.

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Thank God Jared was staying in the apartment, so there was a lot of stuff we could just leave – like our bed, couches, rugs, etc.

We basically packed all night while watching Roseanne. In the morning, Joe came over to help us load up the van.

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Also thank God we casually said, “Yeah, let’s upgrade to the largest size van you have.” We needed every square inch of space.

It took us three nights to get home, driving pretty much all the time. We were also doing Atkins at the time, so we weren’t even really stopping to eat very much…I’m not sure how we passed the time. I remember at some point we started playing Lingo out loud, and for awhile we listened to Rent…

I also took a lot of pictures out the passenger side window, so there’s a lot of semi-blurry landscape with window reflections. This was pre-smartphone.

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(I’m pretty sure Drew took that picture.)

When we got to Nevada, we wanted to drive through to Reno so we could crash with Molly. But Nevada is insanely wide, and neither of us could keep our eyes open. So our final night on the road was spent in Elko, Nevada.

The next day, I drove us across the state line into California, and later Drew and I realized that whenever we’re in a car together, he may say “Do you want to drive?” to be nice, but I generally never do, and he generally always wants to. So now we don’t worry about taking turns to be nice to each other. A good lesson for our impending marriage.

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It’s been FIVE YEARS since we came back. New York is drifting further and further away from us. But it’s still an indisputable part of our lives and of our relationship. I think a reunion may be in order.

 

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Baptized B

B’s second birthday is coming up, so this baptism thing has been a long time in coming. We procrastinated for various reasons, but finally this spring we made the decision to go for it. This last weekend, my family and Drew’s family gathered at my childhood church and saved B from purgatory. (Just kidding.)

I will tell you, I had A LOT of anxiety leading up to this weekend. I worried about getting the three of us plus the godparents all the way up to Lake County in our car with all our stuff. I worried that B would freak at getting water on his head. I worried that it would be awkward. I worried that no one really wanted to be doing this. I worried that no one would have a good time.

But it turns out, everyone was into it, and we had a great time. We went up to my parents’ house on Saturday night, and Drew’s parents and my aunt and uncle (who was performing the baptism) were there already. We hung out that night, keeping B up 2 hours past his bedtime. Then everyone dispersed, and we took godparents Erin and Allen to the hotel casino where they were staying.

There, we ran into Drew’s parents, and found out that his dad had just hit it big on video keno. So that was a nice bonus.

The next morning, we picked up Erin and Allen, and headed to the church, about 20 minutes away. The service was outdoors (#summertime!) and so B spent most of the service running all around, up some stairs and around the church building, up some other stairs and around the community center, basically just going everywhere possible. But luckily we were keeping an eye on the time, so we could get him back down in the vicinity of the service by the time the baptism began.

I held him during the ceremony, and he was mostly good. He complained a little bit, but mostly drank milk and pointed at things. I remembered the Creed. He didn’t love the water on his head, but he didn’t freak out. My uncle gave him a candle (unlit), and a medallion. We recessed and sang songs. We did it!

There was cake afterwards, and Erin and I tried to wrangle all the family members into place to take pictures. We managed to take some really cute pictures, including one of my new favorite pictures:

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Charming, buddy. Charming.

After pictures, we packed everyone up and we all went to go eat. Well, most of them went to brunch – our car, followed by Drew’s family’s cars, went in the wrong direction. I just was mistaken about where I was going. Oops!

We found the correct place, and settled in for complimentary mimosas and brunch. Although they didn’t really seem able to handle our party of 15 – it took like an hour between ordering and getting our food – the food was good, the company was lovely, and B was awesome. He even ate the food we ordered him! Crazy!

By the time we were done, it was already after 1:30, so we just stopped by my parents’ house to get all our stuff, and then we headed out of Lake County. (Well, we stopped for milkshakes at Renee’s first.) We got home that night in time for dinner and bedtime, and then Drew and I basically crashed, ignoring the pile of stuff we’d brought home.

A long weekend and we’re both ever more tired, but I’m still so happy with how everything went. It honestly went better than I could have hoped, and far better than I expected. A total win. B is so lucky to have this loving family, and two brand-new godparents! (Not pictured: my bff Kirsten, who came out from Davis, and her mom – I was so honored to have them come support us!)

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Disney Project 2014: Oliver & Company

Movie: Oliver & Company

Release year: 1988

My reaction: This is the second time I’ve ever seen this movie. And I’ll be honest with you, I watched maybe 10 minutes of it. I mean, it was playing and everything but we spent a lot of time chasing B around the house.

I think I got the gist though. It’s based on Dickens’ Oliver Twist, with music by Billy Joel. Very 1988. I’m not sure where Jenny’s parents are – maybe they went into that backstory but I missed it. It’s a decent Disney movie, but I get why this is the second time I’ve seen it.

We missed a couple weeks, due to some travel. But we’re ready to jump back into the second half of the year and watch some of the best Disney movies there are.

Seriously though, B was in time out like five times during this one. I guess he just wasn’t in a movie mood.

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Willy Wonka and the Alarming Ultimatum

I was thinking about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, with Gene Wilder). It’s scary, right? There’s lots of stuff in there that used to give me nightmares. Like for instance:

A bunch of kids and their parents are invited into a creepy factory, led through a maze from which they presumably couldn’t find their way out if they wanted to, and then the kids are picked off one by one. This is like the epitome of the weird, not-really-for-children movies that our generation grew up on.

I was particularly struck by Augustus Gloop. I think I might have a touch of claustrophobia sometimes. Sometimes I (still) have nightmares about being stuck in a small hole or trying to crawl out of a tight space. And I blame that chocolate tube.

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But the other day it struck me for the first time. That would be the worst experience to go through as a parent. And these parents are relatively casual about their kids’ disappearances. Why wouldn’t Mrs. Gloop have jumped into the chocolate river to save her son? I guess Mr. Salt jumped down the bad egg chute after Veruca, and Mrs. Tee Vee fainted when her son had become a tiny television version of himself. But these are really horrible things happening to these kids, and it seems like that would be almost more of a punishment for the parents than for their offspring.

I guess that could be the point. The kids are growing into unlikable and flawed human beings, but they’re still just children. It’s really their parents’ fault for letting these things happen.

I’m not saying every person’s problem is invariably their parents’ fault. But in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we are shown four different cases of bad parenting that ultimately result in the family being punished. It’s an allegory to warn parents (and those who may become parents) to keep on their toes and raise good, well-behaved, considerate children.

(Conversely, Charlie Bucket is frequently called a “good kid,” and he’s parented hard-core by a mother and four grandparents. He makes the “right” choice, and is rewarded handsomely for it. Parents, take heed.)

This movie came out 43 years ago. I wonder whether it’s working. It’s definitely given me something to think about.

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Disney Project 2014: The Great Mouse Detective

Movie: The Great Mouse Detective

Release year: 1986

My reaction: I don’t think of this as being one of my standard Disney favorite movies, but I really like it. Maybe partly because I love Sherlock Holmes, so I enjoy all the little references. But this is just a great movie.

It does have some of the scariest moments of all the later Disney movies – Fidget is responsible for most of them, from being illuminated by a flash of lightning in the window, to bursting out of a doll’s cradle, to dressing up as Olivia. He’s terrifying. BUT, he’s also goofy.

So is Ratigan, the villain, played by Vincent Price. I mean, he’s scary, and he has a giant pet cat to whom he feeds everyone who irritates him. But he also has plenty of little moments where he’s flawed, fickle, and funny. If The Black Cauldron felt like Disney starting to figure out what the next couple decades was going to look like, then The Great Mouse Detective is Disney feeling confidently along that path.

Drew theorizes that the reason that this movie didn’t become a huge hit is that it came out the same year as An American Tail. Which EVERYONE saw. Right? Can you sing me at least three songs from An American Tail? I bet you can. Can you name a single song from The Great Mouse Detective? Oh well.

The awesome thing about today is that it’s June 30 – halfway through 2014. And with The Great Mouse Detective, we have officially watched half of the Disney movie list!

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Disney Project 2014: The Black Cauldron

Movie: The Black Cauldron

Release year: 1985

My reaction: Have you seen this movie? Chances are good you haven’t. I don’t know why no one has seen it. The Black Cauldron is starting to feel like the Disney movies of my childhood (which I would say start with The Little Mermaid). The animation looks familiar and the story arcs feel familiar. It’s all there.

This one is kind of a weird mishmash, though. They are constantly introducing new characters, but I’m not sure to what end. To be fair, it’s not like we’re sitting down and quietly watching these movies from start to finish. We miss big chunks of them, when B needs to drag us into another room and show us something, etc. He seems to especially need things during the ends of the movies. Mostly that’s okay, because we are super familiar with the movies. But with The Black Cauldron, there was a lot of “Wait, who are those fairies?” “Wait, why is that sword magical?” “Wait, what happened to Hen Wen?”

Also, this one is surprisingly scary. The villain – the Horned King – is purely evil, there’s nothing funny about him. He has no snarky sidekicks or charming one-liners, like most Disney villains have. There’s  moment early on when the main character, a young man named Taran, is knocked to the ground by some dragons. When he gets up, his mouth is bleeding. You wouldn’t see that in Tangled, just saying.

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The best part about watching The Black Cauldron was the series of selfies I took of the two of us, as I tried to get a good picture for this post. He was in a really smiley mood yesterday.

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Throwback Thursday: Short Fiction

March 2003

Andrew’s father was learning to be a squirrel.

“What is your dad doing?” the other kids would ask.

“He’s practicing—” was Andrew’s reply.

Andrew was almost eight years old.  He lived in a yellow two-story house.  The staircase had a banister he could slide down, when his mom wasn’t watching.  The upstairs bathtub had been leaking for almost a year, so Andrew showered downstairs.  They had a cat, Adelaide, who brought the family gifts of small rodents from the acres around the house.  The backyard was big and sloping, enclosed by a fence that came up to Andrew’s chest.  Flakes of blue paint were chipping off the fence, and you could see Andrew’s footholds that he used to vault over it.

“Andrew, use the gate!” his mother would cry from the kitchen bay window where she sat to do crossword puzzles.  Andrew’s hands would grasp the top of the fence, and in two steps he’d be over and running down the slightly sloping land, into the trees that grew on the acres behind his house and yard.

This is where he first saw his father talking with the squirrels.

 

Andrew timed his breathing with his footsteps, in, out, left, right, in, out, left, right.  Leaves crunched under his feet like the screams of tiny elves.  He grabbed hold of a branch to slow himself, and swung his body around, feeling the sharp bite of the bark in his palm, smelling the moss and the fungus that lived in the trees.  His breathing slowed and he ran his hand down the tree before walking on.

He heard a voice to his left, and he walked toward it as quietly as possible—a difficult feat over dry late-September oak leaves.

It was his father, on the ground on hands and knees.  There were leaves in his brown-gray hair and a little twig on his shirt sleeve.  He was peering up intently at an oak tree, and didn’t see Andrew approach.

“What?”  His father cocked his head toward the tree.  There was a squirrel, bushy tail spread out behind him, clinging to the bark on the tree.  “Ah, I see.”  Andrew’s father rose to a crouching position, and Andrew could see he held something in his left hand.  His father raised it to his mouth, and holding it in both hands, began to nibble at it–it’s a walnut, Andrew realized—as he would at a piece of pound cake, or a chunk of smoked Gouda cheese.

Andrew watched, fascinated, as his father finished the nut and wiped his lips with his thumb.  He then moved, still in a crouch, toward the tree.  The squirrel, who had watched Andrew’s father the whole time, suddenly looked at Andrew.  His father turned too, just as suddenly, and almost fell over when he saw his son standing there.

“Andrew!  What are you doing?  Don’t you have chores to do?”  He had stood and was brushing off the jeans he wore on weekends, and shaking leaves out of his hair.

“Finished ‘em.  What are you doing, Dad?” Andrew asked.  He pointed to his father’s sleeve, and his father brushed the tiny twig away.

“Oh, just chatting with the squirrels.  They’re great company.  You can learn a lot,” his father said cheerfully.  “You ought to try it some time.”  He patted Andrew’s head and hugged his shoulders.  “What do you say we get some lunch?”

“I already ate,” Andrew said.  The squirrel had run up the tree into the high branches, and he scanned for it, but it had blended in and disappeared.

“Oh, did you?  Well, I’m going to go get a sandwich.  Are you going to stay down here awhile?”

“Yeah.”  It was the perfect time of day to play in the woods.  The sun was beginning to fall, and it was slitting through the trees in places, creating glitter out of the dust in the air.  There were places Andrew could see the actual shafts of light, and he liked to stand still and watch them shift and then disintegrate as the sun moved out of place.  He liked the way tree trunks went fire orange right before the sun finally set.  The woods could never be the same because leaves fell and trees grew and squirrels ran madly like small senile old ladies and the sun never stopped crawling across the sky.

“Well, you know to be back in the yard by dark—”

“Yup,” Andrew said.

“I’ll see you later then.  Remember, the squirrels are very interesting.  They can teach you anything.”  His father winked solemnly.  “Just listen to them.  Bye, Andrew!” He began to make his way back up the hill.

“Bye, Dad!” Andrew called, then turned and surveyed the trees around him.

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