Category Archives: Beginnings

Throwback Thursday: Memoir

I pulled this gem off my old LiveJournal. I’m actually surprised (but very grateful) that I still remember the password.

This is from August 5, 2005. I’m really working hard to restrain from editing. (Oh, and as far as I can tell, the title means nothing but was probably the angstiest word in the song I was listening to at that exact moment.) Enjoy!

==

COLLAPSE

I have been at UC Davis for three years, and the number of things that I have exclaimed “Yes, let’s do that!” and then never done is astounding. Here is a brief list of examples:

1. Run through the maize maze (Woodland?) in the fall.
2. Gone, with any sort of regularity, to the Farmer’s Market. (And “But it’s SATURDAY MORNING” is no longer an excuse, as they have Wednesday evening FMs for which I know I am awake.)
3. Mini-golfing…Scandia…Sacramento…wherever.
4. The Davis Public Library: If I’m missin The Babysitters Club, they’re only a couple blocks away.
5. The MU Games Area.

Until tonight.

A bunch of us went to go bowling. It’s cheap, it’s accessible, it’s fun, it’s not too athletic (heaven forbid we do something cardio), and we all claimed to be bad at it. (Which was a huge lie, be careful of Drew, he will try to hustle you, but he’s bad at hustling.)

As far as I can see, bowling is bowling (*unless it’s $1.35/game and $.85/shoes*) and I thought it was all going to be very…familiar. Bowling. Ugly shoes and socks with shorts (what else could possibly be hotter?), and people watching your back, golf clapping for you whenever you turn back around but secretly chanting “gutter ball!” to themselves.

HOWEVER, UC Davis, well-known for several things, cows and a ginormous library being not the least of them, also features a “Rockin’ Bowl” to put all other “Rockin’ Bowl”s to shame.*

*Note: Writer has never actually been to any Rockin’ Bowls, nor does she know whether the term is “Rockin’ Bowl” or “Rock & Bowl,” but frankly, neither does she particularly care, and if you are still reading this, maybe you should just marry editing if you love it so much.*

So it seems to me that “Rockin’ Bowl” is made up of 4 main components. I will go through these for anyone who is unlucky enough to have never experienced the majesty.

#1. The music. Already loud when you walk in, and louder when you descend into the bowling pit, I mean area, it is turned up by a kid who can’t be older than 18 who tight-rope-walks down someone’s gutter to crank up the volume on the speakers sitting mid-lane. The number of times this exchange occurred is more than I want to remember:

*something unimportant*
“What?”
*repeat something unimportant*
“What?”
*repeat something unimportant, again, and louder, and also in a slightly embarrassed tone*
“What?”
“Never mind, it wasn’t that funny.”
“WHAT?”
“NEVER MIND!”

Then both parties would pretend to have heard the other, and that bit of conversation would be over.

Oh the glory.

#2. The music videos. Four large projection screens plummet from the heavens, and for the next…I don’t know how long it lasts. From then on, music videos are played on these screens. Music videos for songs whose names I only vaguely recognize. Music videos that are not nearly as clever as Britney Spears’ “Lucky” or Blues Traveler’s “Run-Around.” Music videos with angsty-looking men whose voices remind me sort of Phish, except I’m not thinking of these men as fondly as I think of Phish.

If I wanted to watch music videos, I would have been sitting at home whining about not having MTV. Or I would be going to Erin’s gym to “work out” and watch TV. It would not have occurred to me to go to Rockin’ Bowl at the UCDMU Games Area.

#3. The lights. Strobe and disco, namely. As soon as the fluorescents dimmed and the colored lights began to spin and I began to think about maybe getting a headache, I was also transferred immediately back in time to high school dances. (Probably more middle school, honestly, because in high school I went to 1 dance that was not a prom or formal (neither of which seemed to feature strobe lights to the degree of your everyday school dance), and I left that 1 dance pretty early.) So, middle school dances. So why was my impulse, on the strobe lights, to make out with someone? I was definitely not doing that in middle school.

Hold up, I wasn’t doing that in high school, either.

#4 and finally. The fog. I didn’t notice it for awhile (or maybe it didn’t get going until a little bit after the lights, etc., made their appearance on the scene), but once I did, I was transported to the backstage area of the Mondavi Center, kneeling on the ground, with my head in the Coke machine, filling it with fog so that the guy who played Eddie could trip over me to get in it before all the fog drifted out and we missed his entrance.

It’s funny that I “hated” Rocky Horror so much while it was going on, but now I can totally look back fondly and think “Awwww. Backstage at Mondavi, dressed up with Katie and Tyler and Eric. How cute. And foggy.”

So while, for a minute or two, I was thinking to myself, “Man, I suck at bowling…good thing I’m good at mini-golf,” I spent some time post-our-game checking out the other people playing, and I realized that most people are not that good. Except for this one girl who got three strikes in a row, I saw on her screen. There was a little cartoon of bowling-pin Caesar in a chariot. But I digress. I don’t think that the UC Davis Memorial Union Games Area is the place to be super-concerned about your bowling skillz. (I am, frankly, more worried about my inability to write “skills” instead of “skillz.”)

So all in all, I guess I learned a good lesson tonight.

And that lesson is, remember to bring socks so I don’t have to wear socks that I find in the backseat of the car, socks that dump sand everywhere when I turn them right-side-out.

Oh, and I also learned not to stress about my bowling abilities.

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Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Being a girl, Drew, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment

Back in my day

In high school, I sucked at sports but my friends didn’t. So in order to hang out with them, I kept stats for the softball and girls’ basketball teams. Kind of dorky, but it was fun, and I was good at it, and I have a lot of good memories of away games (and home games too, for that matter).

But things would be very different if I were doing this in 2013. For example, two vanfuls of girls used to drive back from an away game in Ukiah or Willits or Fort Bragg or Colusa or wherever. When we got back to the high school parking lot, the one coach (a father of one of the girls) who had a portable phone would unpack this briefcase so we could all call our parents to come get us. The reception was terrible (likely the fault of the isolated county, and not the briefcase phone).

GCScover

 

Oh, the good old days.

An even better example – but one that it’s possible I’m slightly misremembering – is the time we were headed up to Hoopa for a big annual softball tournament. (I think it was softball.)

hoopamap

This was a very exciting event for us, not least because it was so far away, and we would have to spend the night, and we could probably also fit in a trip to the big mall in Eureka. (No mall in our hometown!)

(I loved the Bayshore Mall growing up, but now Yelp gives it 2.5 stars and calls it a “small town mall.” Ouch.)

The way I remember it, we drove all night long, but now that I’m looking at the the driving time and everything…we probably just left early in the morning. I was in a car with our chemistry/physics teacher, beloved by everyone, his wife, and his daughter, who was on the team. Side note: I love everyone in their family. They were and still are awesome all around.

I remember sitting in the backseat in a pile of blanket and pillows, and driving through the dark. Marilyn was asleep in the far backseat. (Like I said, it was like 2am…right?) There was some weird station on the radio and they were playing Dr. Demento and some other similar song, and the only part of it I remember is an increasingly insane “Poppies poppies poppies poppies!”

When the internet first became the thing that it is today, I searched for that song a little bit, but now I think I prefer not to ever find it and know what it is.

It was pouring rain and I guess it eventually got light outside but I don’t really remember that part. I do remember arriving in Hoopa to find out that the fields had been completely flooded and the tournament was canceled.

I guess there was just someone hanging out at the school, telling everyone that it was canceled. And probably, they made some phone calls in the morning when they had to cancel the tourney. But if the only number they had was the school, and no one was at the school…and none of us had cell phones that the calls could have been relayed to anyway. So we made the entire probably 5-hour drive for no reason.

Well…not NO reason. We did go to the mall and go shopping and get lunch or whatever.

And then…we drove back home. I guess.

We were in Lakeport this weekend and so I’m being sweetly sentimental about a lot of late-90s/early-2000s things. But, I’m also very happy to have internet and a smartphone and all the improvements technology has brought into our lives. I’ll even take the complications.

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Filed under Beginnings, Being a girl, cars, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Sentiment, Technology, Travel

Throwback Thursday: Prose

Okay, here’s something from one of my creative writing: fiction classes at Davis. I have zero recollection of writing this, but it’s got my name on it (and it sure sounds like me). The prompt for this little homework blurb was:

A Stranger Comes to Town (April 2004)

“Guess where I am,” he said, and then, without waiting, “I’m coming to see you.”  She went through a quick spray of shock, excitement, happiness, and then suddenly shock again.  He lived an hour and a half away from her – two hours in heavy traffic – and while they had been talking over the phone for the entire summer, she didn’t feel the need to meet him in person.  He had offered to drive down to visit her several times, and each time she had mumbled stories of previous engagements and sworn vague promises.  “I got tired of waiting for you to make up your mind.  I’ll be there in an hour.”  The call ended and she was left holding the phone to her ear.  She was still holding it there when it rang again, no more than a minute later.  “I know what you’re thinking.”  He began talking before she could even say “hello.”  “You’re thinking that I don’t know where you live and so how can I find you?  You’re thinking you’re going to hide in a city of twenty thousand people.  I know you’re working tonight and there can’t be many Blockbusters in town.  I’ll see you soon.”  He hung up again without waiting for her to say anything.  She couldn’t help feeling that, despite their telephone relationship, he was really just a stranger coming to town.

I’m intrigued by this…and also by the reference to Blockbuster. LOL.

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Make Me

One of the best things about being an adult is ice cream for dinner. Not literally (well, okay, sometimes), but I mean that sense that you can do whatever you want and there’s no one checking up on you.

On the other hand, one of the worst things about being an adult is that you can do whatever you want and there’s no one checking up on you.

There are a lot of things that I want to accomplish this year. (See: New Year’s Resolutions, 2013). Unfortunately there’s also a lot of internet to explore, friends to chat with, articles to read, and thin air to stare into.

I think the missing piece of the puzzle that turns staring (whether it’s into thin air or at Facebook) into actual productivity is accountability. If I don’t have anyone to answer to except myself, then what’s driving me to complete anything?

Here are some things I’ve tried to accomplish in the past: Bicoastal book club. Writing club. Dieting. Here are some things I’ve failed at: Bicoastal book club. Writing club. Dieting.

The problem with a bicoastal book club is that, without the regular meet-ups to talk about what you’ve read, what is forcing you to finish it? And if your book club happens to be made up of other people who aren’t determined to finish – then you might as well quit before you’ve even begun. A good way to assess the commitment of the others in your potential book club is by how long you’re given to finish the book. More than a couple months and I say your club is going to fall apart after two books, tops.

Ditto writing club. It’s all well and good to pick a prompt and off you go, but if you don’t have at least one other person emailing you something at the end of the month and expecting something from you, then you’re doomed. I’ve tried this in the past, and we made it exactly one month.

All I’ll say about dieting is that, without a good plan, someone to support you in it, and some kind of goal, it’s basically impossible.

But there’s hope! I am now in a book club, made up of real-life friends, and we meet up about every 6 weeks and discuss the book that, for the most part, all of us finished. When we started, I didn’t know how long we would last, but we’ve been going strong for over a year.

A couple months ago I started a new writing club. There are four of us, and while I’m not sure of everyone’s commitment, there is at least one other person who seems totally into it. So I’m clinging to that connection and hoping that she motivates me to write something every month.

Which brings me to dieting…which also brings me to Lent. I’m no stranger to Lent – I’ve been giving things up (off and on) since I was a kid. At some point I decided that Lent shouldn’t be about using the church to diet, so I started giving up things to make myself a better person. One year I tried to give up saying bad things about people behind their backs. A few years ago I gave up fighting with Drew. Last year I gave up Facebook.

This year I was thinking about giving up judging people, but when I suggested that, Drew shut it down. Remember, I need support in whatever I do. We finally decided to go with giving up most carbs. I figured this year I’ll be a happier person if I can stick to a diet, so I’m still technically improving myself.

I know it’s only been a couple days, but I already feel more committed, more confident, and pretty good about myself. In an “I can do it!” way, and not in an “Ice cream for dinner!” way, which is a refreshing change.

Lake County Record-Bee, 2/19/13

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Filed under Beginnings, Being a girl, Drew, Food, Humor, Nonfiction, Self improvement, Writing

How To Make New Year’s Resolutions

To no one’s surprise, the world did not end this year – meaning 2013 is nearly upon us. That means it’s time to start making all kinds of promises that are meant to make ourselves “better” people: thinner, smarter, cleaner, neater, richer, more interesting, more well-rounded people.

I have made New Year’s resolutions every year for the past 5 years, to varying success. Sometimes they have taken different forms, depending on how ambitious I am. Also how tired I am of failing at my standard resolutions: save money. Go the gym. Write more. Eat better.

In 2009, when I was still living in New York City, I made a list of 100 things I wanted to accomplish during the year. Some things were easy: watch a sunrise. Send valentines to my family. Go on rollercoasters. Some things were more of a challenge (and thus, didn’t happen): Buy a MacBook. See a Cirque du Soleil show. Some things were private, some things were silly. Some things were foresightful: Move back to California (by driving). At the end of December 2008, how could I have known for sure we’d move back? I guess some things work out. Ultimately I crossed 59 things off that list. In terms of grading, I believe that’s an F. But in terms of New Year’s resolutions I’d say it’s pretty darn good.

In 2010 and 2011, I just made categories of promises to myself: some resolutions about my health, some about writing, some about money, some about relationships. There are usually two or three things under each category, and I try to be as specific as possible. So not just “save money” but specific amounts. Not just “write more” but certain monthly goals to meet. It doesn’t always work but it makes it a lot easier to say how it went at the end of the year.

I’m coming to the time that I review how I did in 2012. I will say that my two biggest goals – “Get pregnant” and “Have a baby” – will make up for any goals on which I fell short this year. (And yes, I made those two resolutions separately as my way of making it clear to the universe what I wanted. Like I said, I believe in clarity.)

I’m also coming to the time that I will form my new resolutions for 2013. I predict they will be much the same at my 2012 resolutions. But as always, I have high hopes for the new year.

Here are my tips for writing successful New Year’s resolutions:

1. Be specific. Don’t say “be healthier,” say “Drink 32 oz of water a day.” Instead of “Be a better person,” try “Volunteer at a soup kitchen once a month.” Specificity keeps you on track and gives you a way to assess how it’s going.

2. Categorize. I find it really helpful to group things together. Then I can have one from each category that I’m working on at once. I like the categories of “health,” “finances,” “relationship,” and “writing.” But that’s just me.

3. Don’t go overboard. I usually have around 12 resolutions, but they are all baby steps and lots of them are season-specific. Many of them are monthly goals. So it’s not like I’m ever actually juggling 12 things. It’s just things to think about throughout the year.

4. Keep them somewhere you’ll see them occasionally, so you remember that they exist. I’m not a print-them-out-and-stick-them-on-the-fridge kind of girl, but I keep them somewhere that I can glance at them now and again, and see how far behind I am.

Happy New Year and happy resolving! May you accomplish enough in 2013 to feel proud…but still leave plenty of room for improvement in 2014!

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Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Dreams, Endings, Holidays, Humor, Nonfiction, Self improvement, Sentiment, Writing

First Sunday in Advent

We did it! We went to church!

For weeks months years now I’ve spent the whole week gearing myself up to go for it, only to talk myself out of it Sunday morning for one or another reason. There is always an excuse.

On Saturday night I went to the opening night of Big River, and didn’t get home until nearly midnight. On Sunday morning I managed to get the baby to sleep until 9. And it was drizzly and cold. All great excuses to stay home in pajamas. But I bribed us with the promise of post-church Starbucks, got dressed, and we headed out the door to check out the Lutheran church with the great view that’s only 5 minutes away.

Church is just one of the things I’ve decided to put on my last-ditch 2012 resolutions list. I figured that even though it’s intimidating, it’s never going to take more than an hour. And what’s the worst that can happen? It seems worth the benefits.

On our (short) drive there, I told Drew that I think the thing I would want to avoid the most would be having to talk to a bunch of new people. I just wanted to sneak in, sit in the back, and get out. But when we got there, people were immediately friendly, and the large, high-ceilinged sanctuary was far from full…and I realized how silly it was that I thought that we could sneak in with a baby and not attract a ton of attention.

B did okay at his first church service, but he was fussy and Drew was really working hard to keep him quiet. He finally lost that battle around the beginning of the sermon, and they went out to the nursery. We ended up leaving a little early, but still considered it a total victory. I’m looking forward to trying again next week.

I don’t actually think that B was bothering anyone. They seemed really welcoming, and we were in the same pew as some little girls who were coloring loudly (I remember doing that). In the pew in front of us a guy fell asleep during the sermon and snored for a few minutes. So I think it would have been okay even if he had gotten a little noisy.

On the other hand, I was super distracted by being nervous about it (and I bet Drew was even more distracted, what with actually holding him and all), so I’m not sure how much I got out of the whole thing. But still, when it was all over and we were heading to Starbucks, I felt accomplished and productive and virtuous. Like the feeling you get after going to the gym, or volunteering, or cleaning the whole house. Addictive…I hope.

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Filed under Awesome, Baby, Beginnings, Drew, Nonfiction, Religion, Self improvement

Thanksgiving 2012

Baby B’s first thanksgiving! He’s thankful for his Lion King mobile. And so are we, because he loves it and will watch it happily and smile and dance. This allows me to brush my teeth and put in my contacts on the days when Drew is at work.

My brother and his wife weren’t able to fly out from Denver, so I’m thankful that my parents came down and we had dinner with Drew’s family, and it was really fun.

B was super fussy all day (growth spurt?) (they’re all growth spurts) so I’m thankful that everyone was easygoing about all the crying, and eager to try to hold him and calm him down, but understanding when I just had to go in other room and feed him. I’m also thankful that he’s strong and healthy and altogether a normal little boy. (I’m even thankful for the crying.)

Drew held him throughout dinner, and we were both kind of up and down with him, so neither of us gorged in that traditional, Thanksgiving dinner way. I’m thankful for that, in itself. But I’m also thankful that we got lots of leftovers to bring home, so we can eventually get our fill of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and all the rest.

I’m thankful that B has two sets of awesome grandparents who love him and are excited to watch him grow up. I’m thankful that those two sets of grandparents get along with each other.

Last year I was being deliberately optimistic about not being pregnant yet, and I was counting my blessings, and all that. I’m really thankful that this year I don’t have to twist the situation to shed it in a positive light.

Most of all this year I’m thankful for my two boys – for the one I chose and for the one who then (finally!) chose us.

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Is it already almost November AGAIN?

It’s October 11, which means we’re into the middle of October, which means it’s almost November, and November, as you know, is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Dangit. It just kind of snuck up on me this year. If I’m going to even attempt to do it again this year, now’s the time to think about it, so that we don’t get to November 1st and I just panic and start writing and then end up with 12 pages of third-person narration where the main character is obviously just a thinly-veiled version of myself.

I want to put some thought into it, and come up with a storyline ahead of time. Even though all of the Nanowrimo propaganda is about how fun it is when you hit a wall and you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and then your characters do something crazy that you weren’t expecting, I don’t work well like that. (See above, re: 12 pages, thinly-veiled version of myself.) I need to have a storyline to follow, and some idea of where things are going. The details that crop up on my way to the already-envisioned end can surprise me. And the ending can surprise me too, ultimately. But I have to at least think I know where it’s going.

I’ve been getting the year-round emails from the crew at the Office of Letters and Lights (they are in charge of Nanowrimo, as much as you can be in charge of a concept), and I haven’t unsubscribed from them, although I have to admit I haven’t opened and read them either. I guess I’m just walking a middle line, refusing to commit to either participating this year, or to making a decision to not participate. (I have 20 more days to decide before November 1st – technically I could still join in after that, but I’ve never been successful at starting late.)

I would love to make this work this year, especially since I’m not going to work and so you would think that I would have more time at home to write. We’ll see how this unfolds. If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave in the comments. In the meantime, a Google “I feel lucky” search for “plot generator” suggests this: “The story starts when your protagonist buys a new car. Another character is a gypsy who put a curse on your protagonist.” I don’t know…

Ooh, but refreshing the plot generator gives me this: “The story starts when your protagonist shoplifts. Another character is a thief who is the most attractive person your protagonist has ever met.” I kind of like that.

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Making excuses, and making babies

I’ve been absent, but I have a good reason.

This little guy arrived early last Saturday morning, just after midnight. He’s become the center of our universes and we’re determined to spoil him (at least until he gets old enough that it becomes a problem). He’s a good sleeper, a good eater, a good cuddler. He has some of the cutest facial expressions and mannerisms I’ve ever seen.

There are things I miss about being pregnant, but actually not as much as I thought I would. It’s really nice to be able to do a lot of the things that I used to do – and to eat things I couldn’t eat for awhile. He’s barely 6 days old and I’ve already eaten like 4 turkey sandwiches. And the things I thought I’d miss were all kind of sentimental things about the bond I had with this unborn baby…but now we have this whole new aspect to our relationship, which brings all kinds of new challenges and victories. (I guess that should have been obvious.)

I’m trying really hard not to completely forget my “old” life, and to transition smoothly into my “new” life. I’ll try to keep updating you with how that’s going. And I’ll also try not to go all “stfu parents” on you. But you’ll have to allow me occasional slips. Like this one!

AWWWWWWWWWWWW

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Filed under Awesome, Beginnings, Children, Dreams, Drew, Family, Home improvements, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Parents, Pregnancy, Self improvement, Sentiment

Baby brain is a very real thing

Last weekend, my two good friends Sam and Erin threw me a baby shower. It was rubber duckie themed and adorable! One of the activities was decorating bibs. Some people were very creative and talented, and some people made up for any lack of talent with their enthusiasm. (I kid.)

I went with a Game of Thrones theme for mine – I was going to do “The stallion that mounts the world,” but horses are difficult to draw, and then we got into a conversation about how I should draw “mounting,” so I went with “My sun and stars” instead.

Then there was also a store-bought bib – but I also really like this picture because you can see my pink and blue nails (which are now a wreck).

The big surprise at this shower was that the dessert was cupcakes from Torino Baking, who did our wedding cake (and consequently, our first and second anniversary cakes!). She is AWESOME and her banana cake is amazing. The cupcakes (some banana and some chocolate) fully lived up to their reputation!

This weekend, Liz had her baby shower in Stockton. Everything was Peter Pan-themed, and super cute. After the shower, we went back to Liz’s house and Erin took some maternity shots for her while I watched and provided the soundtrack/inner monologue.

I am obsessed with our second bedroom. Yes, it’s a lot of bookshelves and it’s still partly storage for stuff we weren’t sure what to do with, but Drew has made great strides in getting the closet cleaned out, and with all the new baby stuff we’ve acquired over the last few weeks, it’s starting to real feel more like a nursery than a library. I keep wandering in there and just standing around. I just like looking at all the baby stuff. Everything is so little and cute…and I’m hard pressed to walk by without sticking my head in and admiring the stroller, or feeling how soft things are, or going through the onesies and making sure they’re still hanging in order from newborn to 12 months.

I try to keep it under control with other people, but I have to admit, my mind is 24/7 thinking about the baby, and about what we need to do, and what we’ve done already, and what the future’s going to be like…it just doesn’t stop. If it’s like this now…what’s it going to be like 7 weeks from now?

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