Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Tis the Season

Well, we did it.

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for eight, and Friday morning, the tree went up. Not just the tree, but pine garlands, decorative candles, window stickies, and stockings. We stayed away from the malls on Black Friday, only venturing to our local Home Despot for some necessities (like a new garbage can), spending most of our time putting up the tree and decorating it. And of course, within 24 hours, Elvis had plucked down most of the plush ornaments we hang from the lower limbs and corralled them into the center of the tree skirt, which he then used to "tuck them in".

Saturday saw the kids at respective overnights, and Raechelle and I went up to Ballard for a nice quiet dinner, followed by Kyle Stevens at the Kiss Cafe. It's a cute little hole in the wall, serving 100 beers and a few different wines. Kyle put on his usual strong set, while Rae and I sat at the bar next to Kyle's sometimes writing partner and fellow singer-songwriter, TJ Sherrill. It was nice not to have to rush home.

Today was a leisurely day, culminating in Kayleigh, Raechelle and I joining Dan & Trish for Twilight at a quaint old theater in South Seattle. I won't go into what I thought about the movie, as I'm obviously not an 11 to 14yo girl and therefore had a lot of problems with the acting, story pacing, makeup, editing and direction that those in the target market wouldn't have had. We headed home and made dinner, watched some Family Guy, and headed to bed.

Except that I'm too restless and full of energy to sleep. So I decided maybe a weekend recap post was in order - blogging as a soporific.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Perspective

The following is mostly an internal musing typed out for the sharing - it is not intended to be a sociopolitical diatribe, so I hope it doesn't come off that way...

With a maternal family line that includes Oklahoma Cherokee, I often think about what Thanksgiving means to the indigenous people of North America. It must represent a moment of "oh crap, why did we let them stay??" Although historians will spin yarns of political alliances and arms-for-food treaties, one thing is for sure: Europeans only got a foothold on the continent because the natives allowed us to be here. And the descendants of those first Europeans have been breaking treaties and generally being asses to the folks who had been the custodians of the place for thousands of years.

I'm not an apologist about it. I'm pretty pragmatic about the whole thing. The European part of me is here and I'm not moving. But I have always believed that Thanksgiving should include more than just a passing mention of indigenous goodwill that was later repaid in smallpox-laced blankets, wholesale slaughter and forced relocation of entire populations. My great grandmother's people (perhaps only a generation or two prior to hers) were moved at gunpoint from their homes and villages in the Carolinas to the vastly different landscape of the Oklahoma Territory. And while I have no desire to darken this family holiday with tales of brutality, I would just urge everyone to spare a thought for those who were here before us, and who let our ancestors stay - regardless of the reason (strategic alliance, trade, guns, or just goodwill).

They came to our land
We did not understand
What they were here for

But soon we would see
To forget to be free
And to bow before a master

They came to our land
And what did we get?
A stab in the back
I will never forget
All my brothers who went
To die down at Bad Axe

Once we were so proud
A people of steel
Who knew what to live for

But it's hard to have pride
When you aren't even free
In a land that's your own

We gave up our land
And what did we get?
A stab in the back
I will never forget
All my brothers who went
To die down at Bear Paw

And the Earth here was ours
And we treated her well
Until the settlers arrived
To steal the precious land

They took us for slaves
But we would not give in
We would fight for what's ours
But we could never win
No, we could never win

Some say things have changed
That time heals all wounds
But this scar is just too deep to heal

I'm an American too
And I don't ask for much
I just want to be free

They gave up their land
And what did they get?
A stab in the back
I will never forget
All my brothers who went
To die on the Trail of Tears

- The Rise, Trail of Tears (1988)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful...

As we head into the long holiday weekend, and as my SIL-to-be sits with her mom while she lays dying in the hospital, I am once again reminded of what's important. And more importantly, what isn't.

For those of you who dread being around your family at this time of year, I urge you to remember that some people have no family. Or no partner. Or nothing to put on the table.

I've lost a lot in my time on Earth so far, and it's made me truly appreciate what matters. It's not about gorging oneself and passing out in front of the football game (as fun as that might be). It's not about what you give, what you get or what you wear. It's not about the stuff.

You are born alone, you die alone. Nobody makes those two journeys of experience with you. The space between those events is about the relationships you make, the memories you create, and hopefully the knowledge that you left the world a bit better off - in human terms - than when you got here.

I know what I'm thankful for.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Behind the Hilarity

And now, dear readers, you get a peek behind the curtain of TDRae humor. Some of you "in the know" probably recognized the "juggling geese" quote in TBGE's post this morning as originating from the character Wash in the TV show Firefly.

[Wash and Zoe discuss Saffron's oddities.]


WASH
Every planet has its own weird customs. About a year before we met, I spent six weeks on a moon where the principal form of recreation was juggling geese. My hand to God. Baby geese. Goslings. They were juggled.

So there's the context. And later...

ZOE
If she can fly this thing, why just take the shuttle?

WASH
Maybe she likes shuttles.

[Everyone stares at him.]

WASH (CONT'D)
Some people juggle geese!

I know there's nothing like explaining a joke to ruin the funny, but when your frame of reference is so obscure, sometimes a small primer is in order.

Enjoy the day!

P.S. Thanks to wikiquote.org for the lovely Firefly quotes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Update

For a relatively packed weekend, it felt really nice and relaxing. Friday was a comedy double feature, for which Raff joined us. Some really yummy import beer, pizza, and laughing, which fortunately set the tone for the weekend.

Saturday started out with a trip to Southcenter to find the girl a nice black dress to wear for the wedding that night. Afternoon was a lot of cleaning and organizing, and TBGE actually made a huge dent in Tyler's room. Watched a little college ball, then got all gussied for Nichole & Dan's wedding out in Maple Valley. So yeah, if you're from the big city and not used to driving around the sticks at night, and the directions don't list distances... let's just say there was some extra driving around. The sticks. At night.

Anyway, it was a lovely ceremony full of humor, followed by food and alcohol. What's not to love? And just being there with Raechelle seemed to have an effect on both of us, in the best way. It was a good night. We danced to Jason Mraz - I'm Yours for the couples' dance.

Sunday morning, Ron came by and shot some more pics of us, my favorite of which is proudly sported on TBGE's blog. Then we had some Taco Del Mar and watched the Hawks/Skins game (gah!), and actually slept through the entire third quarter cuddled up on the sofa.

Sunday night consisted of the weekly grocery shopping, checkbook balancing, cleaning and school/work prep. Throughout the entire weekend, there were fits of laughter which left our ribs aching and our cheeks paralyzed. I can't even remember the context, but it wouldn't matter if I did - so much of what we laugh at is "had to be there" stuff anyway. I don't remember laughing so much in a single 48-hour period. It was like all of our 2-hour phone calls from the early part of our courtship rolled into one weekend.

Which brings me to a special fact about today.

[mushy alert]

Six months ago, Raechelle met me at the Harvard Exit theater, walked right up to me, said "green light" and planted a big ol' kiss on my lips. We've been at this relationship thing ever since. And I think we got a lot of the angst and speedbumps out of the way early, because it sure feels a lot more relaxed and fun now - and it just keeps getting better.

So, happy six months, babe. Looking forward to many more.

[/mushy alert]

Friday, November 21, 2008

Angelic Inspiration

I admit it. I'm just a bit of a whore for mood music when I'm writing. It puts me in the right frame of mind, immerses me in the vibe I'm trying to convey in my descriptions of the visual at hand.

For instance, I just finished writing a scene where three rough-and-tumble Angel foot soldiers are responding to Fallen mischief, engage in an urban gun battle and unfortunately fall victim to a trap.

So I use a playlist very strategically designed to keep me in a dystopian urban action mood.

Like Cold. And Linkin Park. And Killing Joke.

And for a healthy dose of apocalyptic imagery along with the dark urban alternative music, a little Gary Numan.

TGI(F)F

That stands for Thank God It's (Finally) Friday.

It's been a long, busy, exhausting week. So far, I've been able to keep the tickle at the back of my throat at bay, but last night I got really congested around bedtime. It was nice to hole up with the girl and watch Thursday night TV in bed, regardless of my snottiness. I think I kept the disgusting-factor to a minimum. Neither one of us got much sleep, as we had middle-of-the-night kid issues. But we pushed through, and Rae managed to get off to work more or less on time, and I got both kids off to school. Well, to be fair, Tyler got himself on Metro and was out of the house shortly after 7AM.

I got a couple scenes written for the Ordinary Angels pilot, and we had Dan & Trish over for a script meeting last night. The concepts are quickly solidifying, and for the first time in the process, I'm really seeing the finished item. It's not writing-by-committee, but Dan, Trish and Raechelle all toss out ideas and we bat them around. Then I can take them or not. It's a huge help in getting me past all the little blocks that have held me up over the course of writing this thing.

I'm in full-on writing mode today, which will make movie night all the more rewarding. We've got a few things going on this weekend: the wedding, the Hawks/Skins game, and a photo reshoot with Ron. Other than that, just more cleaning and organizing. Thanks to Ryan for the 1x4 solution to my closet rod dilemma. It shall be done.

I'll leave you with the coolest little viral video I've seen in some time. Even if you've never played Guitar Hero, you've got to admire the creativity and painstaking prep work this had to take (and how many times did they have to do it to get it perfect?).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Quick and the Bullets

Just a brief mid-week update, bullet-style.

  • I'm doing well, but tired and fighting a respiratory bug.
  • Got a bunch done on the OA pilot script yesterday, plus some tidying up on it today.
  • I have an OA script meeting tonight, and am very happy to have something new to show Dan & Trish.
  • Rae has been living here for two weeks, and we haven't killed each other yet (although we did have a casualty in the form of one closet clothes rod).
  • What's more, things are feeling much more stable and balanced.
  • The kids are adjusting to her presence quite well (as I knew they would).
  • Friday movie night is back on this week, with some comedy on the bill.
  • Rae's friend's wedding is Saturday evening, so another opportunity to get gussied up.
  • The week has finally caught up to me. Time for a nap.
  • Zzzzzzz.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Awards and Tags

Thanks to Sandi at Pregnant With Cancer for hitting me with a spate of awards, along with a tag meme. Although I no longer do those, I do appreciate the acknowledgment. And a very Happy Birthday to her beautiful miracle of a daughter, Gabriella. Seriously, it's miraculous either of those gals are alive - a true testament to the survival of the human spirit. Well done, ladies!

And while we're on the subject, I also want to give a shout out to a blog with the best cancer-related title ever.

Weekend Update, a Day Late

Yeah yeah. I know. But we've been busy.

Friday, we postponed movie night so that we could go see Bullshot Crummond at Youngstown. As expected, it was a four-bucket-o-cheese production. What's nice about Bullshot is that it's surgically bad, intentionally slap-dash, and it gives the actors opportunities to really ham it up and chew scenery for an hour and a half. And if any technical gaffes occur, they are easily masked due to the inherently low production values.

Plus, seeing Travis Pavey with a shaved head and Heidelberg scar was totally worth the price of admission. Awesome.

We came home and crashed straightaway. It had been a long, tiring week.

Saturday we slept in! Finally got up and cleaned a bit in preparation for Ron to come and shoot some family photos in the media room. We've got the holidays upon us, and needed to show off the change that's occurred in the lives of four individuals. And a cat. I'm not one for posed photos, thus Ron's ability to capture some really cool candid moments was a nice asset.

After Ron left, we cleaned and organized some more, and we may have wandered down to the mall for some exercise and house supplies. I put up a secondary clothes rod in the closet for Raechelle, a giant wall-hanging coat rack in the hallway between the kids' rooms and two smaller ones in the corner by the carport door for Rae and me. Doug and Ann came over, partly to get their fondue pot from the Halloween party and partly so that Doug could get Rae's computer on the network. Kayleigh got invited to stay the night with a friend who had been having a rough emotional time, and Tyler was going to spend the night at Miles' house, but that plan was squashed at the last minute, much to Tyler's dismay.

Ron and I had talked about going to see Quantum of Solace that evening while Raechelle was at her friend's bachelorette party, but I'd been fighting a bug and ended up staying home and watching Dogma with Tyler. Then he decided to hole up in his room, and I put in Rollerball and Eraserhead, which is kind of like marinating ribs in dish soap. But I hadn't seen either in years, so it was kind of a fun refresher. It reminded me that David Lynch has always been a mad genius, and although I retain a love-hate relationship with his work, I have to admit Henry Spencer would be a really cool (and easily done) Halloween costume. And the award for Most Obscure Reference goes to...

Rae came home just as the tree was gushing blood and the guys were drilling core samples from Henry's severed head. I decided I'd had enough weirdness for one night and turned Eraserhead off, and we went straight to bed.

Sunday morning, Rae slept in while I went to coffee with Ron. He showed me the pics from Saturday and burned me a DVD of them right there in the cafe - gotta love technology. Came home and found the girl in a cleaning frenzy, desperate to organize the bedroom so that we could have a sanctuary while the rest of the house was being organized. We had the Hawks' game on, but there's only so much torment a fan can take. I want to root for them, but it is so very hard when they suck.

I removed part of the pantry area baseboard so that Rae's bookcase could slide in perfectly, and hung pictures. We printed out a few of the black & white family pics and, after a brief trip to Northwest Art & Frame, put them in frames to be put on the wall. Yes, the girl has made the wall. Only appropriate, since she's kinda living here and all.

Tyler and I were supposed to play City of Heroes, but his computer was possessed by demons, so we had to bag that plan. We were both very disappointed. But we had a soft taco assembly line dinner with the kids and Sunday night television before heading to bed to kick off a new week.

I think it was late Sunday night or early Monday morning when the secondary clothes rod in the master bedroom closet popped the wall anchor clean out and collapsed under the weight of many girl clothes. I kept hearing Scotty in my head: "She cannae take no more!" We're looking for alternative shelving for sweaters so she can fee up dresser space for pants, thus taking a lot of weight off the clothes rod. Meanwhile, I will try to repair the bracket and strengthen it, but there's only so much a drywall anchor can do.

Monday was back to work & school. I was a mad, errand-running fool. With a gift for rhyme, apparently. Raechelle mentioned wanting to go out to dinner for the Dine Around Seattle promotion, wherein participating restaurants offer a frou-frou three-course meal for $30. So I got Kayleigh to hang-out with another friend for the evening and we went to Etta's and had a lovely dinner date.

Today is more proactivity, with a Goodwill run and hopefully a lot of writing on the OA pilot. I have my goth playlist blasting in the office as I type this, trying to get me into Angels mode. We have a script meeting Thursday night. Then movie night on Friday, Rae's friend's wedding on Saturday, and the Hawks/Skins game on Sunday (aka Suckfest '08. Sigh).

And Monday, dear readers, will mark our six-month anniversary. Where does the time go?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Last Post for Friday

If you're in the greater Seattle area, make a point to come see Bullshot Crummond at Youngstown this weekend. Disregard the lame review that recently appeared in The Stranger. The reviewer was obviously ignorant of the show's history and unaware of how much the audiences have been enjoying the heck out of it (including the show he attended).

We'll be there tonight.

Why the President Elect is Cool

Far from being a political post, I just had to take the cue from Mark Bruno's polit-blog, Left of Center, for a wholly fun and non-partisan look at some interesting bits of Obama trivia. The Telegraph in London just published a list of 50 facts you might not know about Barack Obama.

The points that I found interesting (and relatable):
  • He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics
    [geek in the White House - sweet!]

  • He has read every Harry Potter book
    [see above]

  • He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager
    [so did I!]
  • He can speak Spanish
    [Se
    Habla EspaƱol - un poquito]
  • His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea
    [an iced tea man - like me!]

  • He can bench press an impressive 200lbs
    [an actually strong president!]

  • His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
    [well-read in classic American lit]

  • His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
    [nice legacy]

  • His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    [good taste in film]
  • He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee
    [who's laughing now, bitches?]

  • His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees
    [eclectic = good]

  • He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker
    [so do I!]

  • As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine
    [as do a lot of teens - better to acknowledge past mistakes and learn from them than to deny]

  • He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside
    [so do I!]

  • He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300
    [as SUVs go, not a bad example to set]

  • He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21
    [about what a lot of regular guys pay for a haircut]
  • His favourite fictional television programs are MASH and The Wire
    [again, good taste]

  • He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds
    [right ON!]

  • His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso
    [aesthetically open-minded]

I think this kind of stuff is pretty cool. I like being able to identify with the dude representing me. Okay, back to the regular post-election non-political blog...

Thought (on) Provoking

Dad Gone Mad had this post a couple days ago. It's funny 'cause it's true.

Out With the Old

My horoscope yesterday: "There's only one way to make room for new life: You've got to let go of the old stuff that's holding you back from getting there. This is your moment to shake free of whatever it is that happens to be weighing you down. Shake hard!"

No kidding?

Interesting that I should have chosen to go through a box of old photos yesterday (and purge quite a few). Unfortunately, that put me in an emotionally precarious position, and that led to misunderstandings and communication gaps. Which then led to self-loathing and approximately four metric assloads of "grr". Not my best day ever. For real.

For reasons unknown, I also chose yesterday to destroy all my old tabletop wargame terrain. Stuff I'd spent time and money creating, yet was sitting in a box, mocking me and my new life. I showed it. Broke it apart and stuffed it in the garbage to get picked up today. Who's laughing now, wargame terrain? Honestly, there's not much of my own work I've destroyed over the years, but sometimes as a creative type, one must exercise one's right to destroy one's own work which does not please. There may be some deep stuff that needs to be explored in a counseling office, but damn it felt good at the time. By the way, if anyone is in the market for a UNA army for the AT-43 game, I have one to sell. Cheap.

But Friday is a new day. I have a packed schedule. And I'm treating myself to a massage, damnit. And I get to have coffee with my sister. And we have the play at Youngstown tonight. And a fun weekend in the works. And the Seattle-Arizona game. And more unpacking. Unpacking is fun. The bedroom will get organized this weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dan Savage on Colbert

Know what I love more than Stephen Colbert? Our own Dan Savage on Stephen Colbert (mmm - hot Dan-on-Stephen action!). In this case, Dan talks about California's recent civil rights travesty, Prop 8, and actually makes the normally unflappable Colbert break character.

With the unpacking and organizing here at home, I've been behind in my Daily Show/Colbert Report viewing, so I must thank the lovely and talented Stephen Rader for putting this up.



And here's an old sketch from the oft-forgotten Dana Carvey Show, with Colbert and Steve Carell, just because it's one of the most brilliant premises ever written for variety television...

Thursday Morning Engrish

I first got hooked on Engrish when I was the Art Director at Hyperbole Studios in 2000. It was often a wonderfully bizarre break in the otherwise soul-sucking day that was life in the videogame industry (to be fair and financial issues aside, Hyperbole was probably the most fun I've ever had working for someone else). Anyway, being an amateur linguist, I've always been amused by the peculiarities of how languages work, and how they really don't work together sometimes.

And while it's probably bad form to make fun of non-English-speaking Asian cultures as they attempt to communicate in English, at least they're trying, which is more than we do over here most of the time. I think that's because we follow Homer Simpson's advice to his son Bart: "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is 'never try'."

Heh. Failure is funny.

It's all because of the monkeys. Damn monkeys.


I totally would have worn this three years ago.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bullet Salad

  • Some good news for the chocoholics in my life.
  • My horoscope today: You can't let your flirting skills get rusty -- they're some of the finest in the world! Just because you're in a committed relationship, you haven't been feeling confident, or you've just gotten lazy, it is not an excuse to deprive the world of your charm and sass! Remember, flirting is just good, clean fun. It doesn't have to be a commitment. So today, try to use more flattery in your conversations. You'll brighten up everyone's day -- including your own, of course. Sorry, honey - it said to flirt! [wink wink]
  • We're getting the house organized post-move-in. What's crazy is I've given up more than half of my closet and bathroom and I'm strangely okay with that. Probably a good thing she's cute.
  • Took R & K to Endolyne Joe's for dinner last night. Didn't feel like cooking for obvious reasons. Comfort food akimbo. I had chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes & collard greens. Yum. Rae liked the atmosphere, playlist and food. Not that I needed to sell her; I hadn't been to Joe's in months and had a hankerin'. Glad we went.
  • Got my errands run in record time today. Except I forgot the toilet paper. Sigh. So there's one more trip to the store on this afternoon's agenda. Then a Southcenter trip tonight.
  • Got Tyler's glasses fixed - they'll work in the interim. I'll take him to the eye clinic today when he gets home from school so they can measure him for some new frames and start the ball rolling on new glasses for him. The woman said they can sometimes take as many as eight weeks once ordered. Hence getting his old glasses fixed.
  • Big storm blew through last night. It's still blowing a bit right now. Supposed to be nice tomorrow, crappy on Friday and nice this weekend.
  • Trying to get an OA script meeting together soon. I need to get this pilot written.
  • Random Chuck Norris fact: If Chuck Norris had a dime for every man that didn't die from his roundhouse kick, he would have no dimes.
  • I love random Chuck Norris facts. In fact, I own the book.
  • Looking forward to writing up the performance of Bullshot Crummond we're going to on Friday night. It'll be Rae's first excursion to Youngstown. She's actually looking forward to it. And I've been seeing my poster up all over West Seattle. The attention-whore in me loves that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eleven Eleven

When we were at Jamie's cocktail party, Raechelle and I found ourselves tending bar and having a great conversation with several of Jamie's friends. And someone asked how Rae and I met, which led to that story, which led to other stories, and somehow the Fire Story came out. I'm used to the shocked and sympathetic looks when the Fire Story is told. It's a compelling story. But it usually comes as the footnote to my lost-my-wife-lost-my-dad-lost-my-home-all-in-one-year story, and by the time we get to the fire part, folks are shaking their heads in complete bewilderment in terms of how to relate to an experience that is fundamentally impossible to relate to.

But what both Rae and I noticed is that the very last story to be told on this occasion was the Widower's Tale. It had become the footnote, not the lead. She said the next day that something had changed, that I was no longer defined by the tragedy of my circumstances. I had known that for the past few months (and had felt it since before I stopped posting on Rhymes With Drowning), but it felt good to hear my girlfriend say it.

And it's true. Things are on the upswing. I'm more than the sum of my tragedy.

But there are still some days when you remember, and you feel sad, and that's okay. Today is one of those days. It's a day of remembering a moment 24 years ago when two kids kissed in a driveway and kicked off a life together. It's okay to look back on those memories and get a bit misty. It's okay to take a moment or three of reflection. It's okay to mourn what was lost.

Because the tragedy is not you. It's okay not to dwell in the dark places. It's okay to count blessings and be happy for all the things going right in your life. And it's okay to feel comfort when the woman who calls you her man wraps her arms around you and kisses you, because she understands difficult anniversaries.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Boxes and Football and Concerts, Oh My!

We tried to watch the Hawks game on Sunday. Really. It's just too depressing right now. Finally rolled out of bed and made biscuits for breakfast.

Unpacked and organized. Had a family meeting. You know, one of those "changes are afoot" family meetings that happen when Something Big (TM) is taking place. It was good; the kids contributed and we had a generally positive discussion. Wandered down to Bed Bath & Beyond and Target for some household stuff.

Came home and made some dinner. And all four of us sat down to eat together. Then Gavin & Michelle came out to watch the kids while we went to the Jason Mraz concert. I'd bought tickets months ago when Rae & I were first dating, and we'd almost forgotten that it was this weekend. As exhausted as we were, we went. And I'm glad we did.

I'm not a huge Jason Mraz fan. I like him, I like his music, I think he's a fantastic showman. But he has a caliber of fan that is much more like I was when I was 14 and-- oh. I think I just made my point AND realized I'm old, all at once.

Both Rae and I were blown away by opener Lisa Hannigan. She used to sing with Damien Rice, and apparently fronts her own act out of Dublin. Unbelievably talented band. Lisa herself is a great lyricist and her soft and smoky vocals are like finding an old, worn copy of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh in the family attic.



There was a bit of Trespassers William in there, a bit of Two Loons for Tea, a bit of Regina Spektor, a bit of Mazzy Star and maybe even some Cowboy Junkies. And yet all unique. All original. And all quite lovely.

Jason came on and rocked/folked/funked and adult contemporaried up the joint. The dude can play, and he can sing. And his horn section is, as the cool kids say, da bomb. We ducked out before the first encore to grab a copy of the Lisa Hannigan CD and a couple tour shirts for the kids. Home by 10:30 and into bed.

It's usually Monday morning when I find myself back in "single" mode, since ordinarily TBGE would be heading back to her old apartment after work. So I found myself doing a mental double-take when she asked what I was making for dinner tonight. I'm sure that won't be the last time I'll have those "hey, wait a minute" moments. But it sure does feel good when I go from "single" mode to "oh yeah - she lives here now."

Much on the plate today. More news as it happens.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Moved.

The nice thing about helping friends move is that it obligates them to help you when it's your turn. Since the dawn of time, friends have helped friends move, paid in pizza and beer. And the cycle continues.

It was great to have Dan, Trish and Raff show up to help with Rae's move. The weather was 31 flavors of suck, pelting down rain. I made sure to have a coffee in advance, and I brought a box of donuts to keep the quick carbs and sugar readily available.

We picked up the truck and headed up to Ballard to find the most organized, orderly apartment ready to go. TBGE had labeled everything with the area of the house it was intended for, and had stacked everything by zone, most of it in her living room, ready to go. What's more, she had printed out a load-up chart for the truck and posted it by the front door so we would know what got loaded in which order. The sun broke and the clouds parted for exactly the time it took to load up.

We loaded the contents of Rae's apartment and storage area in 45 minutes and headed back to West Seattle. Raechelle stayed behind to vacuum and drop off her keys.

The kids helped us with the unloading, so we had a few more hands. It had rained on the way back, and I was thinking it was probably silly to expect any more good luck than the sunbreak we'd just had.

Then we pulled up to the house, and it stopped raining.

We got to unloading the truck, and finished just as Raechelle got there. Total time to move my girlfirend from Ballard to West Seattle: two hours flat.

Dan and Raff came with me to drop the drasser and file cabinet off with Shandalla. She wasn't home, but left us a six pack of Red Hook ESB. It was a fair trade. Actually, she's buying the dresser from Rae - the beer was for delivering it.

We stopped by Taco Del Mar on the way home, and fed our worthy crew. Our helpers left, and Rae and I started unpacking the bedroom stuff (since you have to sleep there, it's arguably the most important room to do first).

We could have worked late into the night unpacking, but fortunately we had the distraction of Jamie's cocktail party at Theo's, a chocolate factory up in the Fremont. We got gussied up and went early to help set up.

All gussied.

The catered food was unbelievable, and Rae and I ended up behind the bar so that Jamie could mingle. Came home at about 10:30 and crashed out.

Now we have a house to reorganize, some football this morning, and the Jason Mraz concert tonight. Look at us being busy!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kayleigh Shorn

That's right - my daughter with the looooong (currently) red hair finally decided to lop off eight inches and donate it to Beautiful Lengths, for adult women undergoing chemo.

I'm more proud than I can put into words.

Way to go, Kayleigh. And it looks great!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why I Love Having Barnes & Noble in My Backyard...

James Caan, 1975. Went a bit stir crazy today, so I decided to take a walk in the rain with my daughter this afternoon. Walked into our local B&N DVD section and there it was, the original Rollerball. $14.99 list, 40% off, minus an additional 10% for my membership. Walked out with a 1970s sci-fi classic for eight bucks.

Stopped at the cafe for something to warm the walk home. Back into the rain for a couple blocks to Rite Aid for a nighttime mouth guard. Hooray. Then home to meet Tyler.

Talked to Gavin for a bit, then had a nice long vent with my mom. That always makes everything a lot better. Thanks, Ma.

Listening to Gossip in the Grain by Ray LaMontagne. I got the CD for the girl, but she let me rip it. Riiiip iiiit. Getting ready to make dinner. It's just hard to get motivated, and I have a tummy full of latte right now, so I'm not thinking about food at all.

My face feels weird since for Halloween I ended up shaving some intricate fuzzworks, then trimmed everything back to just the soul patch & chin. Not used to having a naked upper lip. Promised Rae I'd grow it all back out. She was happy to hear it.

Before.

After (and years younger, no?).

Anyway, I'm gonna be extra good to myself tonight. Gonna have a beer with dinner, catch some DVD action with the kids, and hopefully get a jet soak before bed. It's the simple pleasures I often overlook.

Back to Abnormal

While I offer no apologies for waxing political during this history-making past few days, I now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog.

The autumn rain is here. It's not hard rain. It's that Pacific Northwest dense veil of wet that's somewhere between thick fog and real rain. This is the wet we're famous for.

I've been a domestic Superman, clearing space for the imminent move-in, scheduling doctors' appointments and talking to school officials. It's a crazy, crazy time, and I'll be happy when this phase is over. Tyler has his sleep study consult scheduled. In January. Oh well, at least it's now on the books.

Been trying to distract myself from the mundane worries that usually end up as a knot in my stomach making me sick. Today that meant a carry-out lunch from Taco Del Mar and Eulogy. I'd not heard of this film before putting it on my Netflix queue, but man, what a cast and a fantastic script! Hank Azaria is great. And when do we really get to see Debra Winger anymore?

Tonight will be more soup for dinner, and more Buffy episodes. They're good time-wasters in the evening, and heck, I've done everything on my checklist today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Open Letter

Before I paste his text in this forum, I feel I must preface with a word or two about my stepfather, Bob.

Bob was a Reagan Republican. For as long as I've known him, he's been the lone voice of old-school fiscal conservatism in my large family of New Deal lefties. And this year, he contributed to, supported and voted for Obama. It was an event which sent a collective double-take through my family, but one that quickly made us all beam with pride. Because, far from drinking the liberal kool-aid, Bob had actually listened to his heart and his conscience, and supported the candidate he felt best suited to put us right with the world, and with our own people. The candidate best suited to unite us all with an even head and an even hand. Someone who would not just spend a term putting out fires, but who could re-engage us in the world community and challenge us to achieve great things again.

And that's the gist of the open letter he sent me, with a request to publish on this blog.

* * *

An Open Letter to the Next President,

I’m an ordinary person, capable of extraordinary things. I work with my hands, my brain, the strength of my back and the flat of my feet. I am strong in times of weakness and weep openly and unashamed in moments of great triumph. I am weary to my bones but I carry on with a strength that resides deep in my soul. I persevere in the face of despair. I exult in my neighbor’s blessings and help them carry their heaviest burdens.

I am vain, petty, cowardly, envious and pessimistic. And yet still, mostly hopeful. I am all these things and more: Resilient, moldable, ambitious, willing. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I am you, and you are me, joined as we.

Together as we, let us do great things. Find us the tools then get out of the way. We are the people that forged a tiny, fragile country by defeating the most powerful military force on the planet. We did it on the strength of an idea. We are the country that invented the light bulb and found a thousand uses for the humble peanut through the vision and persistence of brilliant individuals. We are the country that saved a world at war for democracy twice in a single century through the shared sacrifice of a nation. We went to the moon using nothing more sophisticated than a slide rule and vacuum tubes, and watched it on the TV we invented. We defeated Communism and we showed the world what the future of human relations looks like. It looks like you. It looks like me. It looks like us.

We have an uncanny ability to elevate great leaders at pivotal moments in our history and we believe we have done so once again. Make no mistake the challenges are great, as they always are. Save the planet, alleviate poverty, educate the illiterate, seek peace and justice and defend the defenseless. We are ready, as we have always been; to sacrifice tirelessly for our children’s and our grandchildren’s futures, to scrimp pennies and tackle intolerance. Watch the world be amazed and inspired by how we succeed. Please, give us impossible tasks.

Robert Pace
On behalf of the citizens of the U.S.A.

A Proud American

I don't know when I've felt this kind of pride (if ever) in my country. Not everybody likes it, and really, not everybody has to. History was made, and a lot of people's faith in the process was redeemed. This is a 232-year-old promise fulfilled.

As I sat watching the acceptance speech with misty eyes, Raechelle turned to me, equally misty, and said to me, "I'm so excited for Tyler and Kayleigh, to grow up having hope and pride in their country." As one who has traveled abroad in the last eight years, I had to agree.

I don't know if the enormity of the situation has really sunk in. It may be days yet. But I'm breathing a big sigh of relief that the election cycle is over, and it was enough of an electoral landslide that Obama's victory is not in doubt in any way.

Yes, things are still tough, and yes, the country has a long, hard slog out of a deep hole. I don't think anyone is delusional enough to believe that electing Obama will be a panacea. But it's one hell of a positive step. The people have spoken - let's do this.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Bro

I just took Gavin to lunch at the Swell for his birthday (which was last week, but apparently he was "too busy" to let his big brother take him out for pub food). Speaking of pub food, my friend Mark was working the kitchen today, and came out to recommend the special, a steak melt (using a new marinade). Fair enough. Two steak melts, please.

Yum.

We had a great conversation and caught up on a few things, which was really nice. The cool thing about a brother is that you may not see each other all that often, but when you do, you're back to wanting to yell at him to get out of your room... Er, I mean, you're back to hugs and chuckles.

Happy Birthday again, Gavin. And thanks for all you've done (and continue to do).

P.S. Can you tell who Gavin voted for from the pic above?

A New Hope

I'm stealing the subtitle from the original Star Wars movie to illustrate my current state of mind. And it's not just the election - everybody knows how this Jeffersonian liberal in a blue state casts his ballot. It's much, much more.

November 1st was my New Year, and it already feels like it. There's been a sort of pallet-cleansing of the soul recently, and although I'm not going into too much depth here, suffice to say it's really good, forward progress.

Some of it has to do with the dream I had last night, wherein my dad gave me a guided tour of my entire life, a la A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life. Some of it has to do with the fact that Gavin has helped hold Tyler's feet to the fire with his school work and attendance, and it appears to be working. He cheerfully and promptly left with us for school this morning. Some of it is the improvement in Tyler's and my relationship recently. Some of it is grownup relationship-related (and again, not going into detail - only that it's forward momentum).

Overall, there is a sense of optimism and hope for the future. My future. Our collective future. In every arena. And that is a feeling I wish everyone could have, at least once. That's all I have to say about that.

Tonight we'll be going to Dan & Trish's place for Election Day coverage, dinner and wine. We're bringing a bottle of champagne just in case, and Rae is staying here tonight. And on the topic of Election Day, why is this not a national holiday?? If we're going to pride ourselves on our democratic process, why not give people the day off to exercise their rights and do their civic duty? Let's revel in the process we helped invent, and reinvest in our national pride.

That's all I got.

Monday, November 3, 2008

BOO 2: Electric Boogaloo

As TBGE mentioned on her blog mere moments ago, Saturday was a lot of prep, a lot of cleaning, a lot of decorating, and a lot of fun! Special mad props go to Darlene for contributing to the bar and for set-up and tear-down. She's amazing (and Caleb gets a mention for the clean-up too).

Tyler was a ninja, but he shucked the costume after an hour or so, making the occasional appearance with Elvis. Kayleigh again donned her Willow costume, and was joined by Trish as Buffy. Dan came with a Bible, glasses and a neatly trimmed mustache, and a nametag that read "Hi-dely-ho, Neighborino!"

There was a nice mix of Raechelle's crowd and mine, and everyone got along splendidly. It was actually a really nice social experiment, and it seemed to work well. Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber were in attendance, as well as Grouche Marx.

We had cobwebs on the lights and pictures, we had spiders and bats everywhere... black lights, candles, strobes, colored light bulbs, a rock party playlist, ambient creepy sounds playing low on my "antique" radio, and silent horror films going on the projection screen (thanks to my projector getting repaired). Everyone had a great time, and at about 3AM the last of the guests trickled out. Pics are here.

The majority of Sunday was spent cuddled on the sofa, watching football and Buffy episodes, and doing light chores. It really was a nice, low-key day.

So, this week is mostly organization for me - prepping spaces for Rae's stuff, reserving the truck for the move, etc. Oddly enough, after last weekend (and my New Year upon me), I'm not stressing as much. We have an election night gathering at Dan & Trish's on Tuesday, but aside from that, I'm in move-in prep mode.