Thumbing my nose at 2012

I do this thing every year. I almost didn’t this year, because it was such a bad one, but I’m going to do it anyway. Posterity, I guess.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

I choreographed the dancing and acted in a production of Twelve Dancing Princesses for Actor’s Theater for Children. I shot a starter pistol as a stagehand for Bullshot Crummond. I stage managed a production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. I became a real life, official aunt. I did a wedding for people I didn’t know at all and then I did several more. I got featured on A Practical Wedding. I spent seven months mostly alone. I drove up the West Coast. I worked a cash register and made aesthetically pleasing arrangements of lamps. I did most of the planning and a fair amount of the cooking for my sister’s baby shower and only cried once in the back yard alone.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No comment.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

MANY people. My sister-in-law had a baby in May and my sister had a baby two days ago. Several friends were successful with infertility treatments and one set of friends had delicious twins.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What places did you visit?

We drove to LA to see a friend’s short film at a film festival at the Chinese Theater and got to visit with some friends. We flew to Washington DC in October to meet our new niece. We took a road trip up to Vancouver, BC and back down the west coast. This added Oregon to my list of states I’ve visited.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?


7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Valentine’s Day was pretty traumatic. Dan was in a car accident, the car was totaled, and he was more than 100 miles away. I didn’t even get to see him for several days after that.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Stage managing the show was a HUGE achievement for me. Getting my floral crowns featured on APW was pretty big, too.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Even bigger LOL.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I started the year with a double ear infection that took forever to go away until I finally got some antibiotics. I fell into a blackberry bush and had a terrible bout of poison oak that took ages to clear up, and discovered that coconut oil was the only thing that helped.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I would not have preferred to do so, but I bought a new-to-me car. She now sports a mustache.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Uh. Survival?

13. What did you get really excited about?

All the theater I was involved with. Turns out putting on a show is still in my blood.

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?

The Lab Coat song.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:?

– happier or sadder? LOL

– thinner or fatter? Fatter, because I have a husband at home cooking for me again.

– richer or poorer? LOL Oh man, this is hilarious.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Earning income

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


18. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Eve was just us and a friend, working on projects and eating appetizers. Christmas day was at my mom’s house with my extended family. Boxing day was in Berkeley with Dan’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and baby.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

I worked my way through some terrible television when Dan was gone all the time. When he was around, I watched the good stuff. Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I listened to a ton of audiobooks while out walking or taking the bus to/from rehearsals. I read a ton of library books. Don’t know if I can pick favorites.

21. What was your favorite music this year?

I didn’t listen to a lot of music this year. Lots of instrumental stuff to fall asleep to while Dan was gone.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I liked the Hunger Games, Cabin in the Woods, and Looper best of what we saw this year.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 33 and didn’t feel like I had anything to celebrate.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having the rug pulled out from under us twice.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Braids. My hair is really long now and braids keep it out of my way.

26. What kept you sane?

Frankly, I’m surprised anything did. Going for days at a time with almost no human interaction is not good for my mental health.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Most of the time it’s just easier to do things yourself. Turns out when everyone is working for free, the free work becomes lowest priority.

Sloth Love Chunk

When I was a kid, we didn’t have a VCR until some time around 1986. Before that, if we wanted to watch a movie at our house, we’d rent one at the video store in the tiny town where I grew up. I still have many memories of renting a VCR, and I’d always ask to rent The Goonies because I loved it so much (Sean Astin as Mikey was probably my first celebrity crush). These days, I own a copy of the movie on DVD and watch it a couple of times a year, because it’s just that good. I know more trivia about the movie than is probably healthy (for example, the actor who played Chunk went to UC Berkeley just like I did, was president of the student body while he was there, and is now an entertainment lawyer), and I even have a “goof” published on the IMDB page for the movie (it’s the first one under Errors in Geography, about the sun being in the wrong direction for the time of day the end of the movie is supposedly portraying). I’m about the biggest Goonies nerd on the planet, is what I’m saying.

As we were planning our recent road trip, I realized we’d be not too terribly far from where the movie is set and where they did much of the filming: Astoria and Cannon Beach, OR. It was a couple hours out of our way, but I couldn’t drive through Oregon and NOT make the Goonies pilgrimage. When we drove through Astoria, we only got out of the car to make a stop in a Safeway, but when we went south on Highway 101 to Cannon Beach, we drove out to a state park area overlooking the beach with the three rocks and I put on my Goonies t-shirt over my sweater and two layers of shirt and Dan took a photo of me as the sun was setting. I’m such a nerd. But it was worth it.

Goonies never say die.

Goonies never say die.

The saddest present I ever got

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, my college boyfriend went to China for the summer on a study abroad program while I stayed in the house where he lived with his roommates and worked and was lonely because I only got to talk to him, like, twice. He had a pretty amazing trip, though, and he brough back some souvenirs for me from his travels to Beijing, Xi’an, Hangzhou, Souzhou, and Shanghai. I got a pearly silk tank top and a piece of purple silk shot with silver threads (some of which I later used to make a pillow for my sister) and, I’m sure was supposed to be the Big Present, a gorgeous rose-colored jade bangle bracelet. (It looked like this, only prettier.)

I loved the bangle bracelet, but sadly, the way my hands are constructed the bones in them are just too big/wide for me to be able to wear most bangles. I’m sure my boyfriend didn’t even think about that – he just saw a pretty bracelet that he thought I would like. And I did! I liked it very much! I tried really, really hard to mangle my hand bones in such a way to slip it over my hand and on to my wrist, but even with the aid of some sort of greasy substance like crisco or pomade or whatever it is that comes out of my nose pores, I doubt I’d ever manage to wear it. I never told him that I couldn’t wear it, and we broke up about a month after he came back from that trip, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about the bracelet. I had it wrapped in a scrap of fabric in a small jewelry container that was just the right size for it, and every year or two I’d take it out of the container, unwrap it, admire that beautiful rose color, comically shove it down my fingers to where it would sit, remove it, rewrap it, and put it back in the container. I decided that if College Boyfriend ever had a daughter I’d somehow figure out a way to give it to her.

Dan and I went to China in 2005, and while we were there I tried on endless jade bangle bracelets, only to be thwarted at every turn. The ones like mine were all way too small, and the ones that were big enough to fit over my hand were so big they’d fall right back off again. I decided that jade bangle bracelets and I were not meant to be, and found other pretty things to bring back from China for myself.

These days, I’m still friends with College Boyfriend’s older brother. His younger brother has three boys (two of them twins) and his older brother has two daughters, but College Boyfriend has no kids and it’s looking very much like he never will. Today, unexpectedly, College Boyfriend’s brother stopped by my house, and before he left I pulled out the rose jade bangle bracelet and told him the story about China and the present that I was not meant to wear. “I always meant to give it to you or one of your brothers, whichever one of you had a girl,” I told him. “Give it to whichever daughter you think will appreciate it more, whenever you think it’s appropriate for her to have it [his daughters are still very young, only five and three], and tell her that long before she was born her uncle Jason went to China and brought back this beautiful bracelet that now belongs to her.” I didn’t tell him to mention that it was originally purchased for a long-ago girlfriend who had hands too big to ever wear it.

Living in limbo

This evening, I was on the phone with a potential client who is planning a wedding for March. It’s at a beautiful venue in the area, one to which I’ve been to attend a friend’s wedding (nearly ten years ago), and her wedding coordinator suggested she contact me about the sorts of flower stuff she and her fiance are interested in for their upcoming event.

Partway through the conversation, she asked me about timing. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Oh, just how long in advance we need to be officially booked, send a deposit, that sort of thing.” I told her my policy on deposits and my usual timeline, and she told me, “I have to share something that I’m sharing with all of the vendors for our wedding so they know in advance. My fiance was diagnosed with cancer last week, and he’s starting chemo, and we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to have the wedding on the original schedule.”

My jaw dropped. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” I told her. “I’m sorry you guys are having to go through such a serious ordeal in the middle of a time that is supposed to be really happy.” I told her I’d be flexible with the timing, and would be completely understanding if they had to postpone or cancel their event. We continued our conversation about their event and my business and what kind of flowers they like, and all I could think about was how rough it all must be. I can’t even imagine trying to plan a wedding with that looming overhead, knowing how sick my fiance is and how sick he will get in order to get better. I’ve seen cancer in the movies, and I’ve sort of tangentially seen cancer in people I’ve known. Going through an illness like that is difficult on everyone, and I can see how one might decide to just put it all off. A good friend of mine in another state who has leukemia signed all the paperwork to be as married to her wife as she can be in a state that doesn’t allow for same-sex marriage, during a time when she was very ill, and they’ve indefinitely postponed their “wedding” celebration until my friend is well enough to enjoy it. But my potential client said she and her fiance agreed they’d go ahead with the planning as though he will be healthy and well enough to have their wedding in March, and they’ll continue to revisit that as time goes on.

“I thought you should know. I told all of our vendors this week,” she said. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to tell a total stranger, over the phone, that my significant other has an illness like that. This potential client has a lot of moxie. She and her fiance both do. He, for being game enough to continue the planning as though he’ll be through the chemotherapy wringer and out the other side far enough that he’ll be ready to celebrate their new family. She, for making those phone calls and for the optimism it takes to marry a person who may not be here in six months or a year. But I guess, really, anyone getting married takes that leap of faith. But not everyone lives in a state of will it or won’t it happen, will we or won’t we get married, will we or won’t we get to grow old together. I’m sending my good thoughts their way, not only because I want to see them get married but because I want them to have that new family; I want that leap in the midst of limbo to pay off.

Exquisite torture

We only spent a few hours in Portland, really, getting there on Saturday evening and leaving on Sunday morning, with trips to Gresham and Multnomah Falls in between, but the one thing I knew I must do in Portland was to go to Powell’s City of Books. It’s the Mecca of bookstores. It’s what every other amazing bookstore I’ve been to (the old Cherry Creek location of the Tattered Cover in Denver; The Strand in NYC) wants to be when it grows up. Given my bibliophilia, I absolutely had to see it in person. So we went, and I stepped in the door, and I wanted to cry.

They had everything. Yes, that. Yes, that too. Every room I went into, every section I looked at, every author (of adult books, anyhow) that I looked for, this store had most if not all of the books I could possibly think of. In some cases, in both used and new copies. I did try to find a couple of specific children’s books with no luck, but for the most part Powell’s had everything I could think of and many things I’d never heard of. They had entire rooms and an entire floor that I didn’t even get a chance to see, let alone poke through, because we were on a specific schedule to get to our friend’s house in Redding by dinnertime. I wanted to live in Powell’s. It was like getting 45 minutes in the Louvre. I’m not even sure an entire day would have been enough time. But that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part was that I wanted to buy books. I wanted to purchase a copy of every book I’d ever wanted, and every book I ever read but never owned, and I wanted to buy books for everyone I know. I can’t even tell you why I was so much more affected by Powell’s than I am by most bookstores, but just something about that store made me want to Buy All the Things. Alas, not being in a financial position to afford anything extraneous at this point, I couldn’t in good conscience buy most of the books that I wanted. I ended up buying nothing, and so really, spending 45 minutes in the best bookstore on the planet and being unable to buy anything was maybe the worst part of our trip. Even though being in there was amazing. I’ll have to make sure that next time we’re in Portland, I’ll have money to spend at Powell’s.


One of the best parts about coming home from a trip is that we have two kitties who, even though they detest one another, both love us very much. Or, at least, Loki loves us both. Princess Robin loves Dan and thinks I’m just OK. Anyhow, we got home this afternoon after being gone for six days and we’ve both been sat upon, used as bathing platforms, gotten kitty kisses and snuggles and head butts, and listened to them each tell us all about what we missed. Last night, where we stayed, there were two very friendly kitties, and being around them just made me that much happier that we’d get to see our kitties today.

Trip survey #1

A survey of the people we met up with during our trip, by how we know them, in order:

1. Went to preschool with me.

2. Message board.

3. Blogging

4. Twitter

5. Blogging

6. Another message board

7. The first message board

8. Went to preschool/elementary school with me

Hooray for the internet, without which we wouldn’t have had the means to meet most of these people in the first place, let alone reconnect/keep in touch with the more longer known ones.

Obscure Orb

Everywhere we’ve been since sometime last week it’s been overcast, foggy, raining or all three. That’s just what the weather does on the northern Pacific coast, and the farther north you go, the more likely it seems that the skies will be grey during the short daylight hours (which are also shorter the farther north you go, this time of year). Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, Dan told me that he had a little fantasy that we’d get up this morning and the sky would be blue and the sun would come out. We laughed.

This morning, we left the place we were staying rather early in order to drive down to (and onto) the ferry, and as I drove I realized I needed my sunglasses. We drove onto the Bainbridge Island ferry, parked and got out of the car, and climbed up to the observation deck. The sun shone brightly in the mostly blue sky for at least five minutes, and we turned our faces to it like morning glories or tulips. My skin said thank you and my mental health said thank you and then the sun went behind a dark cloud again. But for those few minutes, the sun was glorious.


Today, after a great lunch with an internet friend, we drove to the downtown Seattle area not terribly far from the Pike Place Market. Dan and I enjoyed window shopping in the Market but not so much the insane crowds, and so we left the Market proper and just walked around the streets for an hour or so. A big to-do was happening outside a big mall, where people were gathering in anticipation of the giant tree lighting. There were TV cameras and large choirs singing amplified Christmas carols. A group of nattily-dressed people held signs that said “Buy More Stuff!” We left the main crowds and continued up the street, where a group of Ghirardelli employees were also caroling and handing out $1 off chocolate coupons. “Happy holidays!” exclaimed one of them at me, which seemed like a truly genuine wish.

It brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. I’m not sure why, except that downtown Seattle is a good place to be the day after Thanksgiving, when the promise of the holiday season still holds shiny possibility and anticipation. Something wonderful might happen. Something magic. Happiness, even.

Doing something different

This was the first time I was not in the USA for Thanksgiving. I did not assist with any meal prep, possibly for the first time since I was too little to help. I did not spend the evening with anyone related by blood to me or my husband. Instead, I had a delicious pasta bake, soup, salad, and bread, with pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream for dessert cooked by my friend Hillary. We had a great day wandering around Vancouver and views of mountains and friendly police officers and sushi and rain and a great evening with friends and it was a lovely Thanksgiving.