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Monthly Archives: October 2013

In Memoriam

This week, my grandfather passed away after a long and fruitful life.  I just want to honor him by remembering some of the good times.

He always had a way with a good-natured ribbing.  Whenever I came to visit in the last decade or so, since I live in a different time zone, I tend to stay up way too late and sleep in to what would be my normal wake up time (west coast).  That would rarely go unnoticed by Grandpa.  I’ll always remember the cheerful, “Good afternoon,” I would be greeted with as I shuffled out of the bedroom and into the kitchen.

I’ll never forget the times when he and Grandma would tell stories from their life together and if one of them got the details a little wrong, there would be some amusing bickering going on over who remembered it better.  Seventy years might get a little jumbled up, I imagine.  That’s how long he and my grandmother were married. I’m just in awe of them.

grandma and grandpa

He was a no nonsense, hard-working man who rarely complained.  Even as his health and mobility deteriorated, he just took it all in stride and did what he had to do to get around.

I didn’t get to grow up around my grandparents like most of my other cousins.  We moved away to Texas when I was three.  But I did enjoy the summers we spent with them and the few years I lived nearby in my 20s.  They always made me feel instantly at home.

I know that I am one of the lucky ones to have had grandparents well into my adulthood.

grandma and grandpa 2

My heart goes out to my grandmother who will now have to navigate life without him.  I know she is strong and I know she is surrounded by people who love her.  And I hope those things are of some comfort to her.  It seems the price of admission for life and love is the possibility of loss.  There’s just no getting around that one.

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Movin’ on up?

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It has been over a decade since I’ve had to put everything I own in boxes and haul it somewhere else.  The prospect of moving both excites and paralyses me.  For one thing, I will be paying more in rent when I move regardless of how much nicer the place is.  I’ve grown accustomed to my budget and I’m not looking forward to having to be more frugal than I already have to be.  But that’s not the thing that causes me the most anxiety.  It’s my stuff.

When I was in college and shortly thereafter, I lived a more nomadic-type life.  I’d move every six months to a year once a living situation wore out its welcome or I moved away from that location altogether.  A move requires purging.  It’s part of the whole process.

I haven’t moved in 12 years.  Any purging I’ve done in that time has only been on a small scale.  A quick and easy donation to Goodwill.  A clothing swap or two.  But I will really have to get serious about offloading the chaff because I am not just living with a roommate now.  I’m sharing my space with my husband-to-be.  He needs some space for his stuff too.

We’ve just casually begun looking, to get an idea of what’s out there.  And what we’ve discovered is, you can’t just like a place.  Your stuff has to actually fit in it.

I thought I had a basic layout of an apartment but they really do come in way too many shapes and sizes.  What fits in my bedroom doesn’t necessarily slip into another one with ease.  It all depends on how much of the room is occupied by closet doors and windows, where the door is in relation to these.  And what the fuck is the point of a fireplace in Southern California?  I maybe turned my heat on twice last winter and that’s because my current apartment is a bit drafty.  It doesn’t get so cold here that a pair of socks and flannel pajamas can’t handle it.

This is going to be an adventure, to say the least.  We both have to be happy with the space, the amenities and the location.  Older buildings aren’t as accommodating to the new home entertainment set up regardless of how charming they look.  And what is up with only giving one parking spot with a 2-bedroom apartment?  This isn’t the 1950’s!

I know we’ll be successful because thankfully we agree on the basics.  And when we’re all settled in and ready, we’re going to get a couple of these cuties.

kitties-in-box

Now all I have to do is figure out how to get rid of a bunch of action figures that nobody seems to want these days.  Guess, I had a bit of a habit that finally ran its course.

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Fight or Flight?

Last night, I went to the Hollywood Horror Nights at Universal Studios.  I have to say that I am more amused by how people react than I am by what’s going on in a haunted house.

When confronted with something that scares/terrifies them, people react in many amusing ways.  Some scream.  Some cower.  Some flail around like there’s a bee.

I’m not generally scared by the people leaping out at me.  Occasionally I will be startled but not scared after the initial shock wears off.  I wonder if the people who get all worked up at haunted houses and also those riding not that terrifying (in my opinion) amusement park rides are just suspending their disbelief and actually think some harm can come to them.  Or maybe they are just using it as an excuse/opportunity for a little scream therapy.

In a haunted house or something like it, the actors are not allowed to touch you except maybe a tap on the shoulder.  And although accidents do occur, rollercoasters are designed with safety in mind.  There is no apparent danger so where does the fear come from?  Are we so far removed from actual life and death situations (like being eaten by a wild animal or a warring tribe) that we have to manufacture some in order to get something we need?  Do we need to be scared once in a while?

I don’t know the answer to any of this but it always comes to mind at Halloween time.  What actually scares you?

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Choose Your Heroes Wisely

Choose your heroes wisely.

Or better yet, avoid lionizing people in general.  And question everything.

It does humanity no service to whitewash history.  In fact, it can be quite detrimental.  We need to look at the events of our past with a clear, unflinching honesty and tell it like it is.  Especially to our children.

Many years ago I read a book called “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and it blew my mind.  I’ve always been fascinated by history because I took a lot of art history in college (being an art major of sorts) and the art came alive when it could be placed in its social, political and cultural environment.

Ever since then, I’ve always been a seeker of the most comprehensive and accurate information about history.  I’ve read other fun tomes such as “Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond and the “Don’t Know Much About” series by Kenneth C. Davis.  And one of the things I read over and over again is what an absolute bastard Christopher Columbus actually was.  The Oatmeal lays it out quite well here:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

All of the American history you learned in school is just one giant propaganda campaign to make us look like this was all supposed to happen and it was good.  Manifest Destiny, baby.  Try convincing all of the dead and displaced native populations or the Africans brought here as slaves that their lot in life was a good thing.  Even today, our society exists on the backs of almost slave labor and wars occurring all over the world.

Until we can own it, we can’t change it.  Until we can look at the behavior of our ancestors and get that we are a product of it, we will keep trying to pawn off the horrors and injustices on someone else.  The world is the way it is because of heroes and villains.  And sometimes the only difference between the two is perspective.

Seriously, The Oatmeal rocks!  Happy Bartolomé Day!

Bartolomedelascasas

The More Things Change

Plus ça change, plus c’est le même chose.  Or for those who didn’t take high school French – The more things change, the more they stay the same.  As I watch this over-the-top political battle in Washington, D.C. play itself out, I can’t help but think how little progress we’ve made as a species.  Mostly in regards to our ability to think and reason.

Humans are an emotionally driven lot.  Don’t let anybody tell you differently.  Even the most thoughtful, reason-loving person can be reduced to pure emotion in the right circumstances.  Put enough stress and fear-causing conditions on someone and they lose all ability to think clearly.  They can be manipulated to do all kinds of things that are not only against their better judgment but also against their best interests.  I knew this truth a long time ago.

I remember when I was in high school watching people on talk shows debate heated topics.  Regardless of position, I just couldn’t listen to the person screaming.  They just sounded crazy.  It didn’t matter if I was initially more on their side, by the end I could have been swayed by the Devil himself if he stayed calm and rational and made a better argument.

You cannot sway me with an emotional argument.  You cannot make me afraid so that I will agree with you.  I remember what the exact moment was that I chose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the primaries — her 3:00am commercial.

Don’t you dare try and use fear on me.  I will drop you like nobody’s business.  If they do that shit when they are trying to get elected, don’t doubt that’s how they will do it when they get the job.

I’m not holding out too much hope for change in the very near future but hopefully the behavior of our current elected officials might make people THINK a little more when going to the polls the next time.  I’m tired of being swayed to vote for someone out of fear that the other person might get the job.  It’d be really nice to get to choose a candidate because I think they will do a better job.

I’m bored with the circus.  I’m hoping more people are too.  Washington, D.C. has been jokingly called Hollywood for ugly people.  That’s not too far off the mark.

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This Too Shall Pass

It’s been said that the only constant in the universe is change.  Knowing this has helped me through many difficult times, the understanding that all things are temporary and transient.

It’s been a great comfort when I was in times of financial and emotional stress.  Just keep going and things will eventually work out somehow.  And in a way, it always has.  I’m still here and those things have passed.

But today I realized that this proverb can, and should, be used for the good times too.  And there’s no reason whatsoever to be sad about it.  Grasping at things is where suffering and sadness reside.

Awareness of the fact that nothing is permanent, nothing is guaranteed, and nothing belongs to you forever is what makes everything about life worth living.  It’s the show we’re all here to watch.  It’s the game we’re all here to play.  And we’re here to be in awe of all of it.

you are here

Rumi said it better than I ever could so I’ll just leave you with this to go into your weekend and live like there’s no tomorrow (because some day there won’t be, for you at least):

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks