Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Memory lane - a new series?

"Post a photo of you when you were 20," it said.

I didn't have any online. So I went home and I looked through some of my photo albums, particularly the one I put together from when I was in college, trying to find a photo of just me at age 20.

I didn't have any. The only photos of me at 20 (and there were only a few) had other people in them.

But in looking through the album, I found a few photos that tell a story of my college experience, something I don't think I've written much about before. It's amazing what sorts of memories come back when you look a a photo for a little while.

I also found it interesting how few photos I had at all. The first digital cameras were just barely out while I was in college, remember, the ones that used floppy disks? And then for a while you could get your film developed into photos and also put on a floppy? I didn't get a digital camera until - 2004? Before that, I never took a lot of photos unless I was on a big trip, because of the cost of film and the cost of film development. Consequently, I don't have a lot of photos from the pre-digital age. When I did take photos, they were normally photos of my friends, my college boyfriend, pretty stuff I saw - rarely did someone offer to take a photo of me.

Dan was kind enough to scan the photos of me last night (and alter one of them). Here they are, for your viewing pleasure.

This photo was taken on a camping trip. My college boyfriend and our friends and I went on a lot of camping trips to a campground at the Sonoma County coast when we were in college. I had thought that this was taken when I was 19, but in looking at the date on the back, I was actually 18. This means that we went on this trip either at the end of my freshman or beginning of my sophomore year.

That summer in between those years was the only summer I moved home. I worked at the Boys and Girls club in the art room for part of the day, helping kids do art projects and supervising field trips and catching all kinds of germs (including some crazy infection in my mouth that brought me to a doctor, a dentist, and an oral surgeon, one of whom eventually concluded that it was an adult-version of some kind of illness that almost everybody gets when they're a little kid, and is hardly noticable then, but when you get it as an adult it sucks ass. I couldn't eat anything, hardly, for a few weeks.) The other part of the day I was teaching swimming lessons, life guarding, and working the cash register (taking admission and selling concessions) at the community pool.

I was really lonely that summer, because College Boyfriend and his brother got it in their heads that they'd go up to Alaska and work on a fishing boat. They didn't find any work on a boat, but camped out all summer and worked in some fish processing plant. Most of my friends were either still in Berkeley for the summer or (the ones from my hometown that weren't Berkeley students) working their own summer jobs. College Boyfriend and I wrote a lot of letters back and forth and talked on the phone a couple of times, when he could scrounge up enough change to call me.

It was also hard coming home, having been independent for nearly a year, to the same family dynamic of being considered a kid. I didn't even have a room anymore, since Lissa had moved into my old room, so I had a lofted bed and one drawer in Laurel's room, with the rest of my stuff in the garage. Mostly I felt inconvenient and in the way.

College Boyfriend came home earlier than he'd anticipated, so the summer got a little bit better toward the end. Maybe that's when this photo was taken. In it, I'm holding a book I read the entire trip, and probably feeling gross and unwashed. And fat. However, as you can see, I was really, really skinny, so I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

I was 20 in this photo, one of the few photos I have of me at age 20. The other person in the photo, obscured by a Guy Fawkes mask thanks to Dan, was my friend and coworker from what is still probably my favorite job I have ever had. For about half of college, I worked for the on-campus notetaking service as a notetaker and an editor (meaning I fixed mistakes in other people's notes as well). The hourly pay was really good for a campus job and the hours were really flexible; I could come in for an hour at a time in between classes if I wanted. I was good at the work, both at the notetaking part and the editing part, and the other people who were editors were all really cool. We became pretty good friends. The particular friend in this photo went on to have a semi-successful career as a singer-songwriter.

I think this is one of my favorite photos ever taken of me. I look happy, and somehow, miraculously, my skin looks pretty good. And damn, I was still really skinny. I still have (and wear) that tank top, a gift College Boyfriend brought me back from China, but there's no way I could squeeze myself into those pants these days, even if I still had them.

I was in a good place in my life, in this photo. It was my senior year of college, and College Boyfriend and I had broken up (for the better, in the long run, though the breakup itself was horrible). I was happy in my job, happy in my classes, working on my senior thesis. I was planning my trip to Europe. No wonder I look so happy!

As happy (and damn, talk about skinny!) as I look in this photo, I really wasn't. This was taken in Santa Barbara when I visited College (now-ex)Boyfriend during my spring break my senior year. He'd transferred there to finish his degree in religious studies and while I missed him, I was finally getting to the point where I was moving on, though we still had a lot of mutual friends and stayed pretty close. Scarlett and her boyfriend at the time were going to Santa Barbara that weekend for a wedding, so I hitched a ride with them to go down and visit him. It was a mistake. He was really pushy, wanted to do things that I didn't want to do, and seeing him really confused me. It took us nearly a year after we broke up, all told, before we finally muddled our way through the other side and became Just Friends, and me going to see him for this particular visit made things worse. It was late March or early April of 2000, and I had just turned 21.

I look at this photo and can't believe that person was me. She doesn't look much like me now, at least body-wise (I've got about 20 pounds of muscle, 10 pounds of other stuff, and 2 cup sizes on her), and she was really unhappy when that photo was taken. We were headed toward the beach (hence the bathing suit under my top) and College Ex caught me at a silly moment. It was never as easy being silly around him as I wanted it to be. When we were together, I never felt good enough or secure in our relationship; he always wanted me to be skinnier and made me feel bad when I disagreed about a particular opinion or point of philosophy. Probably the best part of that trip was when I got to Santa Barbara but while he was still in class, when I sat in the Student Center and worked on my thesis, gazing out on the ocean, smelling the southern California coast. I enjoyed the stroll on the beach that happened right after this photo was taken, but as usual I was really self-conscious of my body and doubly so because I was with my ex.

Huh, this was pretty interesting. Maybe I'll scan some more photos and turn this into an ongoing series.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cheers/Jeers: The weekend

I'm totally stealing this from my pal JT

Cheers: I got to bake a birthday cake and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
Cheers: The baking was for two different parties we were invited to over the weekend. Parties! I love parties. Steve's birthday was nice and low-key on Friday, and Deb's baby shower was fun. I freestyle-painted a onesie (a green dinosaur with purple spikes. Alas, I forgot to bring my camera, so no photos exist).
Cheers: People that I don't actually know about read my blog. The proof was when we walked up to the house where the baby shower was yesterday and one of the hosts greeted me with, "Hey, I read your blog!" It was the first time anything like that had remotely happened to me. In the Swim, if you're reading this, post a comment, lady! What a small world, that the friend of the person who teaches the classes I take at the gym is a blogger, reads my blog, and recognized us because sometimes I put up photos of us here. (She found me initally through the lovely Leah.)
Cheers: After a cold and crappy week, weather-wise, Colorado paid us back by a couple of exemplary fall days. They were warm and gorgeous. The one regret I have about the weekend is that we didn't get up into the mountains to see any foliage at all, but we had a lot of other things going on. Like parties!
Cheers: Chu's wax works just as well when I do it myself. Plus, we got an excuse to buy a new pot.
* * * * * * *
Jeers: The baby shower was for the person who teaches the classes I take at the gym, and today is her last class for at least 8 weeks, and I am trepidatious about who might be taking over for her! I generally only take classes from instructors I like.
Jeers: Target, while normally a place that has everything I need, did not have several things we were looking for on Saturday. Including canned pumpkin, which the grocery store did not have either. I guess there was a run on canned pumpkin all over Denver. Luckily, I still had some frozen processed pie pumpkin mush from last year in the freezer.
Jeers: Fame, the recently released version. I was so looking forward to this, even despite the presence of SYTYCD-alum Kherington Payne, who I disliked when she was on the show but was willing to keep an open mind about. I love movies that have dancing and singing and all manner of talented kids in them, but I think the movie tried too hard to straddle the balance between performance and plot, and didn't have enough of either. It didn't help that some of the actors cast as the main character kids were terrible, and what little plot there was about them didn't give me any reason to care when bad things happened or whatever. If the movie had done more performance, it might have come close to awesome. If it had focused on one year rather than trying to get in all four, that might have helped. If they'd scrapped some of the performance and gone in for a really interesting plot, that would have been good as well. But as it was, the movie was just really disappointing. And a note to Kherington Payne: Stick with dancing. You can't act your way out of a paper bag, even when you're essentially playing yourself.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thank you Mr. Farnsworth

Somehow, over the course of 2009 (or at least, since we got cable back in February), I have become a fan of television.

Now, don't get me wrong. I didn't have anything AGAINST TV per se, and have always enjoyed some shows, but most of the tv we watched for years was on DVD via netflix, because we didn't have cable and it's rare to find a network show that's really good. I've had my guilty pleasures, of course, like the few reality shows I'll watch (ANTM, Amazing Race, Hell's Kitchen, and, of course, SYTYCD), but for the most part we watched most of our TV after everyone else had already seen it. For instance, we finally just finished watching the last bit of Battlestar Galactica. (We have yet to catch up to Lost, so that will remain a DVD show.)

But somehow this season, TV has captured my interest. I need more than the fingers on one hand to count the shows I enjoy watching right now, and that's saying something. A few of this year's highlights:

Warehouse 13

A SciFi channel X-files lite-type, I love the interaction between the main characters. They seem to be a family, and the writing is far better than I would have expected for a summer filler-type show. I find the premise to be interesting and the way in which the artifacts (various famous things that are generally Dangerous To The Public) are portrayed, some as having sentience of their own, the way the artifacts and their legacies interact with the characters, and the unabashed nerdy humour drew me in. I like that the two mains aren't being played for will-they-or-won't-they sexual tension, and I like that it seems the cast has a lot of fun together. I'll be watching for this show to come back next summer.


I was totally sucked into this show last year and was so excited it was coming back. The same guy who made Lost made this show, and so far I've been really interested in the different plot points and twists, seeing how everything fits together, and it doesn't hurt that Pacey Witter grew up to be very easy on the eyes. I'm not thrilled about the main female lead but I think the actress is finally growing into her role. Plus, what's not to like about Denethor being a mad scientist and keeping a cow in his laboratory?

Gossip Girl

This is, by far, the best-written and -casted, the most juicy, and the prettiest-to-look-at trash on TV, in my opinion. I'm out and proud as a Gossip Girl fan, even though I'm not in love with any of the characters. They're all quite flawed and at times the storylines can get ridiculous, but one could say that about just about any trashy melodrama. It doesn't hurt that the show is a love letter to NYC and shots of the city are the glue that hold the show together.


Oh my god. What is not to like about this show? It's funny, it's irreverant, it's about the drama of high school, both for students and teachers, and I just love it more every episode.

Mad Men

I saved the best for last. We started watching Mad Men on DVD, and, because each season only has 13 episodes, we were able to catch up on the show before season 3 started a few weeks ago. I don't think I can do the show justice in writing about it, but I highly suggest that anyone who likes TV that makes them THINK, that likes strong, well-written characters, that has any interest in (or lived through) the 1960s, should watch it. Each episode has so many layers, so many interesting aspects, it's hard to pull out just one or two things about the show in general to write about.

Anybody have favorites that I should be watching?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Because it had to be said

Current commercials I have a problem with:

Bud light with lime. So everyone is playing in the water, right? Except the water is yellow (I assume it's supposed to be beer?). Mostly it just looks like everyone is playing in a bunch of pee, and I don't dig on urine.

Cialis: Someone please tell me what outdoor bathtubs have to do with dysfunctional penes. I don't understand what a four-hour boner has to do with bathing outside. For that matter, why the hell would anyone put a bathtub outside anyway? This is similar to the problem I have with a mattress commercial, in which the bed is outside. This strikes me as a spectacularly bad idea, unless you live someplace where it never precipitates.

Prius: The ones that have people dressed as plants or whatever and they all move when the car drives by freak me the eff out. I think it's the creepy stepford music that plays during the commercial that really sends this one over the edge.

Just about every commercial for any sort of prescription drug. It's bad enough that they all have to list all of the possible negative side effects you might experience while taking them, but some of them strike me as infinitely worse than the problem you're trying to get rid of in the first place. Lyrica for fibromyalgia, for example. Now, I understand fibromyalgia can be debilitating, constant chronic pain as I understand it, but "may increase likelihood of sucicde" !?!?! Hm, do I stay in pain, or do I take pills that make me want to kill myself? And I am always amused at the ones that are "not for women who are pregant or may become pregnant" because most of them are things that I can't imagine a woman who is still young enough to be pregnant would end up needing to take, anyway. "I had a heart attack at 57," one commercial goes, and I think it's for some medicine that keeps plaques from building up in your arteries. Thing is, how many women in their childbearing years are going to be taking heart attack prevention meds? I understand that they're just saying what's required by law or to keep from being sued or whatever, but still. Really? It's my understanding that if you're pregnant just about any prescription drug is going to have to be OK'd by your doctor, so most of the time this just seems ridiculous.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heat makes knitting less than fun

Just for posterity's sake: the finished blanket I made for the soon-to-be-appearing baby of the person who teaches some classes I take at the gym. I've been taking classes from her for nearly two years and we're pretty friendly, so I thought I'd put together a simple blanket. She told me the nursery for her son was going to be bright colors, so I took that and ran with it.

The yarn is big and fat and soft, machine washable and dryable of course. Loki kindly provided some scale for me.

It would have been finished weeks ago, except it's not especially fun to knit when it's hot outside (and inside, since we don't have A/C).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mas sopaipillas, por favor!

Casa Bonita.

For those who are fans of the TV show South Park, you may have seen the episode about this Denver-area institution. Despite having lived in Denver nearly seven years, I had yet to set foot inside this unique establishment until this past weekend, when we took Scarlett and Jason to celebrate her move to Denver.

I don't think, even given the breadth of the English language, that I am capable of fully describing the Casa Bonita experience. Here are some things you may not know about it:

*It seats over 900 people
*If you are over the age of two, you must purchase a "meal." I use that term only in the most official sense, as I wouldn't say what I ordered truly was food. My "taco salad" consisted of half a head of shredded iceburg topped with five kidney beans, two slices of barely-pink flavorless tomato, tasteless cheese shreds, a plop of sour cream, a plop of something greenish that was supposed to be guacamole, all inside a fried flour tortilla shell. A small amount of seasoned shredded chicken came on the side. When I asked for some salad dressing, it took half an hour for the guy to bring it to me. The cost? $12.


*When you get inside, you go through a veritable maze to get to where you can look at a menu. Then you order. Then you go through some more maze and you grab a tray and a napkin roll. Then some lady hands you what you ordered, which just came out of the kitchen. Then you walk through some more maze until you get to the second hostess, who shows you to your table.
*It features a variety of live entertainment, including cliff divers, people dressed as gorillas, sound effects, mariachi bands, Black Bart's Cave, and puppet shows.
*A little flag sits on your table, and when you raise the flag they bring you fresh sopaipillas.
*People come around to your table and try to sell you plastic glow-in-the-dark crap.

The area in which we were seated was set up to look like the inside of a mine. They had a recording of a snoring sound effect playing, which must have been near where I sat because I was the only one who could hear it. I guess there must have been a "miner" someplace nearby but I didn't see it.

Photo courtesy Dan, who managed to get my camera to do a manual 5-second exposure.

After we ate, we watched some of the live entertainment. We saw some people dressed in costumes (including one in a gorilla suit, who of course ended up in the water). We saw a cliff diver. Then we explored the place a bit and found Black Bart's cave, which was probably the highlight of the whole deal for me. We watched a "gunfight" and then decided we'd had enough.

Sign outside Black Bart's cave. Obviously they care very much for their attractions.

When we got home, we spooled up that episode of South Park and watched as the visions of Casa Bonita dancing through Cartman's head echoed our evening's experience. "Food and fun and festive atmosphere!" Cartman sings.

Well, there was "food." The sopaipillas are pretty good, anyway. Jason, at least, had a lot of fun (as did Dan, who hadn't been to the Casa since he was in middle school). And it is nothing if not a festive atmosphere.

Casa Bonita: the ultimate cheeze factory; an experience I only needed to have once.

Plus, this winner was parked next to us in the parking lot.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The week of stuff

Big stuff and little stuff happened this week.

Big stuff:

Scarlett moved to town! She and her boyfriend arrived with the u-haul on Tuesday, just in time for a seriously spectacular smoky sunset, courtesy the fires in LA and Utah and western Colorado. Her new apartment is wicked awesome and only a half block away from us.

We went on a hike on Saturday and reached the summit, though it was only 11,700 feet and not 14K+. I keep forgetting to upload the photos.

Little stuff:

We got amazing pears and peaches at the farmer's market, and I baked some peach cupcakes (adapted from this recipe). I frosted them with browned butter icing, which is super-tasty but also very, very rich. I gave half the cupcakes to Scarlett.

Our contribution to dinner with friends on Wednesday (game night!) was chocolate chip cookies, which means I baked twice in one week.

I gave blood yesterday and got my 1-gallon pin! I know I've donated more than that over the years but have officially given blood 8 times with this particular blood bank.

We watched Milk last night on DVD and it was fantastically good. It made me wonder: had it been released in October last year instead of December, would it have had any effect on the passage of prop H8 in California?

I finished a baby blanket for the person who teaches my classes at the gym, who is now 8 months along. I'll take some photos before I give it to her next week.