Feeling kind of basic today

I thought the beautiful weather would cheer me up today, but I’m just feeling kind of blah, kind of yuck. So, in hopes of making myself feel better I’m going to use a very basic template for my blog post today and hopefully turn it into something interesting to read. A little challenge on this Thursday evening, if you will.

Remember early in the Facebook days when everyone was doing those “top five things” lists? Top five albums from the 90s, top five actors they want to make-out with, top five things I can reach from where I sit? Well, I’m going to tell you a little story about my home office and five things in it that I absolutely love.

The Office:

1) Move posters: There are several hanging in my house, but there are two in my office that I’m a huge fan of (both the posters and the movies themselves): You Can Count on Me and Requiem For a Dream. Two very different movies, sure, but both lovely and beautifully sad. Both were given to me by Swoosh (my brother) as we saw both of these movies together in the theatre and I instantly loved them both. He’s a good man, that brother of mine.

2) The yellow chair: The chair is now dubbed the “mad men” chair as it is from that era. This chair sat in the basement of my grandma’s house for years and oh how I pined for it. It came to live in my office last year and has finally given up its basementy smell. I love that my cats tend to sleep on it during the day while I’m working.

3) The drafting desk: I’ve always had huge, wooden, clunky office desks made for desktop computers. I knew the second I got a laptop that I was going to streamline. Now I have a drafting table that I use as a desk that I can also use when I’m sketching or crafting in general which happens way less than I would like. It’s nice to know that I’ve got the space available, though.

4) The bed: If you know me, you know I’m a bad sleeper, and the bed comes in handy when the guy is sleeping and I’m up late working on something because I can’t sleep. I doubly love the bed because it’s a twin with just enough room for me and it’s dressed in the same bed clothes I had during my college dorm days. They’re definitely immature but worth the sacrifice for a daily bit of nostalgia.

5) The bulletin boards: Again very immature but I could care less. I cover these with different things depending on my mood to inspire me, to make me laugh, or to make me feel thoughtful. It’s nice to look up when I’m working and see things I love: a bumper sticker that says, “Impeach Bush”; a Penny Arcade comic; tickets to an upcoming concert; a picture of two roads diverged in a yellow wood.

There are many other things I love about this room of my own, but I’ll leave you with five. I’m off to do some work.

I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday.

Every day I get an automated e-mail from one of the coolest sites on the internet. Well, it’s cool if you’re a total nerd like me. The website is www.visualthesaurus.com/, and the e-mail sends me a word-of-the-day, every day. Something freakishly dorky I can count on. The word a couple of weeks ago was “nostalgia,” and ever since then I’ve been thinking about nostalgia, what it means to moi, and how much I love it.

Merriam-Webster defines nostalgia as, “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.” It can also mean “the state of being homesick,” but for the purpose of this post, I’d like to focus on the first definition. Because the second definition is stupid. Also, let me backtrack for a second. I love nostalgia and I hate the negative connotation of the first definition. Excessive? Sentimental? Whatever. As long as the yearning doesn’t interfere with the memories you’re making now which, let’s face it, are just going to induce more fits of nostalgia in the next decade, then nostalgia is a good, fun, beautiful thing. Looking to the past fondly and yearning to live those good moments over is a positive way to remember what you love about your life thus far.

But it can cause problems. Inevitably. You can spend too much time living in the past and quit looking to the future. Or you can be like me and create nostalgia for things that never even happened to you. You can become nostalgic by proxy because of film, books, music, etc. And damn it if I don’t do this in a major way. There are some movies that no matter how many times I watch and tell myself, “These aren’t your memories! That isn’t your life!” I empathize nostalgia with the characters and long for the feelings they feel. I equate those feelings with my life and search for my own memories. Or I create my own nostalgic moments in time based on watching these films and feeling nostalgic. It’s confusing, right?

It’s also quite interesting and I love the way watching nostalgic films makes me feel. Just another idiosyncratic thing about me. Number 17 of about 2,500. In order to celebrate my weirdness, here are five of my favorite films that make me feel an excess of nostalgia.

1) The Big Chill: I know that these characters come together because of a funeral, but it looks like so much fun. They’re hanging out, reminiscing about the past, trying to get pregnant or trying just to get laid. The whole time I watch this movie (and I’ve seen it at least a dozen times) about a group of best friends from college spending the weekend together in this old, Southern house, all I can think is, “Man, how much fun that must have been.”

2) Almost Famous: I want to be a fifteen-year-old reporter for Rolling Stone. I want to learn lessons about life and love on the road with a working band that’s making good. I want to make out with Penny Lane. Okay, that last one was just to make sure you’re still reading. But this movie drips with nostalgia (as most memoirs do), and I can’t help but covet young William Miller’s memories while watching this movie. Because being a teenager in California in the early 70s must have rocked.

3) Labyrinth: Um, who doesn’t want to run around a huge maze filled with crazy characters while looking for fine-as-hell David Bowie? Also, I saw this movie when I was eight-years-old at my grandfather’s house while eating garbanzo beans… Which is a weird memory, but this film will always remind me of that.

4) Kicking and Screaming: (The Baumbach movie, not that piece of shit with Will Ferrel and Mike Ditka.) Grover is a writer who has no idea what to do now that he’s graduated but he does know that he loves a woman and that he’s getting kind of sick of his friends. Um, did someone write a movie about me right after undergrad? My brother and I love to watch this movie at the end of a night of drinking. So whenever I watch it I think of that, too.

5) Five Easy Pieces: Robert Dupea is one of the most fascinating characters ever to appear on screen, and watching him drift through life on his own terms is both inspiring and heartbreaking. I’ll never forget the way I felt the first time I saw this movie, especially the final scene which I’m always debating the meaning of to myself. This movie makes me feel nostalgic for the times in life when I’ve been both sublimely happy and completely depressed.

Anyway, folks, there’s something for you to chew on. I’d love to hear about your favorite nostalgia-inspiring movies and why you find them so. Have a lovely Wednesday:)

Travelling Riverside Blues

Hey y’all, I’ve got a yuppie problem, or a “first-world” problem, or a good-problem-to-have problem or whatever you want to call it. I’ve got a problem.

The guy and I are planning a vacation and we have no idea where to go. Feel bad for me, right? I know I’m whining about privilege, but maybe you can put that aside and help a girl out? Aww, thanks, people.

Okay, so the guy and I were supposed to take a little trip to Providence and Boston to see his not-so-little brother (he’s 21 now and very much the adult) and some of my friends in Boston (who I miss terribly), but that trip has been postponed to next Spring. We were thinking about taking a cruise to Alaska (and staying a few days beforehand in Seattle), but it’s too late to do that this year (they stop cruising in September because of the glaciers). That will be a next-year trip as well. Oh, and I may be on my way to Ann Arbor, MI next summer on a road trip with my BFF. Regardless, we’re left wondering where to go next. Warm? Cold? Beach? City? Historical? Cultural? Leisurely?

We took a trip earlier this year to Hong Kong, so I think we’re going to stay in the states for this next one, but where to go? Because I love me some top-five lists more than just about anything else, I’ve made one about where we’re thinking about going. If you wouldn’t mind putting in your two cents, I’d really appreciate it. This list, however, is in no particular order.

1) The Smokey Mountains:

I think that a nice cabin in the woods for a shorter vacation (maybe four or five days) this Fall would be really nice. Amazing views, beautiful leaves, intimate cabin. We could be alone all we wanted but we could also head to the Jack Daniel’s distillery or take a day trip or two. On the drive down we could also stop for a day or two in Nashville or Memphis.

2) Charleston, SC/Savannah, GA

Visiting these two cities would be a great vacation as they both have a good mix of leisure and attractions. We could do three or four days in each city, look at museums, plantations, houses, and gardens galore but still have time to go to the beach, grab a cocktail or two, and sleep late in an old-timey bed and breakfast. We’d probably fly for this vacation, but if we did drive we could also see some interesting things on the way down.

 

3) San Francisco, CA

I’ve always wanted to go to, but have never been to, San Francisco. There are tons of things to do and see, great places to eat (many of which are vegan-friendly), and I can visit the places where Pedro and the rest of the cast of the Real World visited. I’m just kidding about the last one, although I did love that season and still have some serious love for Pedro, may he rest in peace. I can also finally see Alcatraz, so there you go.

4) Portland, OR

Talk about a vacation that’s perfect for a crunchy like me (and a crunchy-in-progress like the guy- okay that’s kind of wishful thinking). Tons of cruelty-free restaurants and shopping, beautiful places to hike, and the drearyish weather the guy loves so much.

5) New York City, NY

The guy and I have been talking about going to New York together for a long time, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. This trip would definitely be more about seeing things than leisure, but there would also be a ton of great food to try so that kind of makes up for it. There would be a lot of walking, a lot of museums, and a lot of general picture-taking and sightseeing. It would be a ton of fun, though, too.

Anyway, so that’s the list for now. I have a whole ADD way of going, “Ooo, shiny, I want to go to there,” so there may be some new places on the table sooner rather than later, but please, help me out. Feel free to suggest something new, too!

If she gets wooly

Like most everyone else in the United States, I watched a large portion of the All-Star Game last night. I cried at the stuff before the game where they talk about all the real-life heroes, I suffered through the scoreless boring innings, and I rejoiced when the NL finally pulled out a win.

I’m not the biggest fan of baseball. I think I like the idea of it more than I actually like it. I’ll watch games, I’ll go to games, I’ve downloaded the MLB app to my iphone, and I keep up with the standings. I’m never going to be one of those people who sits down and watches every single game. And I’m okay with that. Although, I do blame my lack of interest on the fact that as a child I was dragged to every one of my brother’s four million baseball games. And I was forced to play both t-ball and softball. And I was the girl who hit the base of the t about twelve times before she actually hit the ball. I’m definitely a non-contact sport type of girl.

One thing I do love about baseball, however, are the movies about it. I love a good batting/pitching/fielding montage, especially if it is set to “Put Me in Coach,” or “The Walk of Life.” I love how baseball movies make a season feel epic, how they usually feature a journey of the team going from bad to better, and how the best ones focus on characters that stick with the watcher for a long time afterward. In celebration of the All Star game last night, here is a list of my top five favorite baseball movies.

1) Bull Durham: This is one of the few movies where the first time I saw it I immediately had a crush on the stupid guy. I normally prefer the more thoughtful guy in the love triangle, but I’ll admit it, Tim Robbins in his manties at the beginning of the film made my young heart skip a few beats. I’m not into this movie just for the man-candy, though, it’s also just an all-around funny, sweet, thoughtful picture.

2) Cobb: Ty Cobb was a mean, drunk son-of-a-bitch, but Tommy Lee Jones is excellent at making him seem sad and vulnerable at the same time. This may be the only film where I actually like Tommy Lee Jones, too.

3) Eight Men Out: If you’re at all interested in the White Sox controversy surrounding the 1919 World Series, this film is for you. It’s slow-paced, character-driven and sheds some light on who these players were and why they did what they did.

4) Field of Dreams: It’s impossible not to have two Costner movies on this list; he’s in every baseball movie! This picture drips with nostalgia but it never dips into the sentimental (at least not too much). I love that Ray’s quest to learn more about his father’s hero brings him a greater understanding of who he is, and how more than he ever realized of his father’s life has overlapped into his own.

5) The Bad News Bears (1976): I know there are “better” movies about baseball, but this one holds a special place in my heart. I love Walter Matthau and his alcohol-soaked style of coaching, and as a young girl I loved that the player with the most screen-time was a chick.

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Destiny, Mr. Baseball, Fever Pitch, The Natural, Major League

Happy Birthdays!

Man-oh-man! We’ve been doing a lot of celebrating over here lately! There have been several birthdays, including the country’s birthday on the 4th. It’s been a crazy couple of days. Here’s a little summary of what’s been going on in my world.

Friday was my BFF’s husband’s birthday, which we celebrated on Saturday with picnic food galore, washers, and three hours of fireworks! Now, I grew up in a household where fireworks were definitely not okay. I’m very clumsy; I would have lost a hand. It was really fun to watch other people set up an explosion, light it, and then run like hell. The birthday boy did suffer a mediumish injury, but he rallied like a champ. I did light up a couple of sparklers and do a fire dance, which was just about my speed. We partied into the wee hours of the morning, and I woke up a few hours later to head to my parents’ house.

My dad’s dad and his wife were visiting for the holiday, so I spent a couple of hours with them. More grill food but no fireworks of course! My family is very political so we spent the afternoon solving the world’s problems. If only we had any real pull with the powers that be…

Monday, the guy and I spent the day together, chilling. More grill food, though!

Tuesday was the guy’s birthday, which we celebrated in traditional T-eve fashion. Bar, booze, home, booze, presents, booze, FIFA, booze, grill food (yes, more grill food), booze, lemon cake, booze. Yep, that pretty much sums it up! The guys almost took the World Cup but lost to France in the final match. We were all very sad; a World Cup win would have made it one hell of a special birthday.

You’d think after all that I’d be completely spent, but I’m dying for another big bash. So, can I come to your birthday party? Please?

Phew… I owe you one. Okay, a couple.

So I’ve been crazy busy and I have no excuses (besides that one). Work exploded all over the place, there was a little bit of travel, the house needed some improvements, fiction writing has been calling me, and well, it has just been too darn hot to do much else. Luckily, it’s cooling down here in the STL and life is cooling down with it. Here are some highlights from the last month:

1) Had a lovely weekend in Champaign with one of my oldest friends, Zephyr. He threw a wonderful Memorial Day bbq where the guy and I tried not to digress into political/religious conversation with total strangers. We were unsuccessful, as per usual. I chalk it up to being in a college town.

2) Extended weekend in Chicago. The guy had some conference to go to, so we headed to Chicago early in June for a Friday-Tuesday stint. We stayed downtown, we ate good food, we saw a Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union football match, we met some friends at the Shedd Aquarium where we also met their new son (super cute), and I worked from a hotel room in a non-hooker way.

3) The Charlie scare of 2010: I took Charlemagne to the vet earlier this month and the doctor noticed that his gums were bleeding from the slightest touch. The vet then informed me that this could be a sign of a multitude of badness worst of which being feline leukemia and medium of which being an auto-immune disease which causes Charlie’s wee, fuzzy body to eat his teeth from the inside out. It turned out that Charlie’s gums are growing (instead of receding) with age and he’s just fine. It was touch-and-go there for a week, though. So much crying. Damn, I’m a baby!

4) Safety Town. I volunteered with children this month. For an entire week. And it wasn’t that bad. Aside from one of the darlings drowning my phone in the toilet (no worries thanks to the iphone 4 release!), it was actually fun. And the kids were cute even. Don’t worry, though, I’m not going to start breeding any time soon.

5) Visit to see the Gpa. Spent the weekend after hanging with young people hanging with slightly older ones. Lots of card playing. Good times.

6) I took my mom to see The Eagles (which was awesome), I bought a pair of those Reebok Easy Tones (which are super comfortable, though I’m not sure they work yet), we re-tiled the bathroom and had our air conditioner fixed, and the guy and I refinanced our mortgage.

Anyway, it’s been a crazy, packed month. And I just got done running and watching Soylent Green… It’s made from people, you know.

Traditional Anniversary?

So not our style.

The guy and I celebrated our fourth anniversary last Thursday (the fruit and flowers anniversary) with very little fanfare and TONS of coughing, sneezing, and blowing of noses. We didn’t have a romantic dinner, we didn’t give each other expensive gifts, and we didn’t swoon and shower each other with romantic compliments. Okay, maybe a little of the last one but we kept it to a minimum. In short, we did a whole lot of nothing because we were both crazy sick. It hasn’t been that bad in a long time.

It is so my fault. Since I work from home (and we don’t have any children) my exposure to germs is minimal. But on Tuesday night we went to the baseball game and I’m pretty sure that being around all those people may have caused the damage. You see, we do have one anniversary tradition; my parents, the brother, his lady, the guy and I all go to one Cardinal game all together once a year, as close to the 20th or the 21st of May as possible. Why? Because my parents set an amazing example of what a marriage should be, that’s why! Explanation: I wanted my anniversary to be close to the same day as my mom and dad in order to bank on some of their good marriage joo-joo. (They’ve been married for over thirty years.) So, to celebrate the anniversaries, Dad gets tickets to some private box and we all hang out (and drink and eat free food and booze). It’s a pretty good time; you should try it.

So, it was probably at this blessed event that I picked up the death sickness and passed it to the guy. But we did manage to have some fun while feeling completely disgusting.

1) Edible Arrangement: The guy got one of these for me (duh, fruit and flowers) and we snacked on it all week. Yum!

2) Nyquil: I have a deep love for this stuff and am disappointed I can only take it when I’m sick. It did make for some weird dreamy hallucinations, though.

3) Panera: When one of us felt up to driving we revived our tired bodies and sore throats with delicious soup. Amazingly enough, I could still go for a bowl of Black Bean right about now.

4) Flower: I bought this game (for PS3) for the guy and it’s lovely images reminded us that sometimes there is so much beauty in the world we can’t stand it.

5) Soap: This sitcom from the late 1970s may be the only reason we’re both up and back to work today. Laughter is the best medicine afterall, right? Anyway, you can stream the first three seasons on Netflix; we’re halfway through Season 2. We were quite feverish, so I’m wondering if it will still be as funny now that we’re all better.

Anyway, that was my lost, romantic, anniversary weekend. Soup, sniffles, and Soap. And the company of the best dude I’ve ever met. Not too shabby.

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