Tag Archives: getting old

Musings on the Olympics

* Damn, the conditions have been bad for a lot of events. Ice for the speedskaters, snow for the downhill skiiers. Even the snowboard halfpipe looked pretty treacherous. I understand wanting American athletes to do well, but I hate seeing anyone spend years or decades of their lives training for one chance to compete and it’s all lost on a fall that happened because the conditions were bad.

* Interesting sartorial choices, from Ireland’s neon Opening Ceremonies pants to the Team USA snowboarding uniform of an ugly plaid shirt and faux jeans to the Norwegian Curling team’s pants. Fancy!

* And speaking of the Opening Ceremonies, how awesome was that! I was totally blown away by most of it, not only the spectacle of it (which was amazing) but also little things. For example, the flag bearer for the Iran team was a WOMAN.

* I’m not at all pleased with the coverage on NBC and am very frustrated by the tape delay, frustrated by the cuts between events, and uber-frustrated that there is still Bob Costas. Seriously, who likes that guy? So much of the coverage is skating-based and American athlete-centric, even when the front-runners for other events are not Americans. I don’t care about the American guy who placed 12th or his heartwarming story. Show me the good stuff!

* I am officially old. TWO of the olympics-themed/related commercials have made me teary over the past week, this one (discussed here by my pal Jive Turkey) and this one. WAH.

Twenty years

20 years ago today, the Berlin Wall came down.

The interesting thing about this is that it simultaneously feels like it wasn’t that long ago, and at the same time, culture in Germany and in Europe (and in the world, I guess) has changed so much since that happened that it feels like a lifetime ago. It’s a weird thing to think about, that 20 years ago, Germany was two different countries, one free, one under Communist rule, and Berlin was two cities, one with the Western ethos, surrounded by Communism. Kind of like Austin, Texas, I guess, being blue in a sea of red. These days it kind of feels like Communism was a blip on the radar, though I’m sure that perspective is one I have from never having lived in a Communist country.

I can’t imagine what it was like to grow up on the other side of the iron curtain, but people who are my age now were there and lived it. Someday, our kids are going to study Communism and the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall and all that stuff in school, and they’re going to ask us about it, just like we asked our parents about things like the Vietnam War. 20 years ago, Dan’s brother (hi, Matt, if you read this!) would never have been stationed in Latvia with the US Foreign Service. 20 years ago, things were very, very different for people living in East Germany and in all those Eastern Bloc countries.

It’s hard to believe, since that was what it was like when I was a kid, but the Cold War and Communism as a Western ethos was a 20th century construct, both in the making and in the unmaking. Someday, of course, our kids will ask where we were on 9/11 when the towers fell, just as people in my parents’ generation remember where they were when Kennedy was shot. But someday, our kids will want to know about what it was like living with the prospect of nuclear war, knowing that there were so many people in the world living in a completely different sort of society. I was ten when the Berlin Wall fell, but I knew then, even as a kid, that it was a Really Big Deal.

One of my favorite songs comes from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which takes the story of the fall of Communism and, in particular, the fall of the Berlin Wall, to a whole new level. It’s a song about changing your mood by changing your outer persona, becoming on the outside who you want to be on the inside. The entire show revolves around a character who wants to leave East Germany, and in order to do so, has a (botched) sex change operation in order to marry an American soldier he’s in love with. Then the wall comes down, and everything s/he’s done to change his/her life gets put in a different perspective. See the show, or the movie, if you get a chance, because it is awesome.

Hey Jealousy

Internet, I have some confessions to make. I know there have been hints along the way the past several months, but it’s time for me to come clean. These are things that are difficult for me to write about, but they are what’s truly on my mind, so I think I should write about them.

I want a baby.

I want a house.

I want to go to graduate school.

People I know and love have or are doing all of these things. I’m jealous.

I know they say that there’s never a good time to have a baby and that you should just go for it. Well, we’ve got some plans in the works and needed to wait for some things to happen (Dan graduating, for example). I’m just so tired of waiting. Yet I’m not comfortable bringing a new person into the world without a few specific steps of preparation (primarily, two incomes and some significant savings). It’s hard, because every month when I start a new pack of pills a good chunk of me just wants to say Nope, not going to take them. But every month I do. Having only been on the WANT BABY train for a couple of years now, I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who feel that way for a decade or more before they get to be parents.

It’s going to be a while before we can buy a house. We need two incomes for a while. We need a decent-sized down payment. We need conditions to stay as they are for a while so housing prices don’t go back up. And we need a lot of luck.

Graduate school is something I have wanted to do since I finished college. Well, maybe the first year after I graduated I wasn’t interested. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of different ideas and even made some steps toward applying to one program or another, but nothing ever felt quite right. Then Dan got back into school to finish his bachelor’s degree, and my educational aspirations were put on hold (there’s no way we could have afforded for both of us to be in school at the same time). I’ve had nearly ten years to decide what I want to go to school for, and I think I’ve finally figured it out. But what I want to do will take a serious amount of preparation (taking refresher courses, some volunteer work, and some excellent references) that will take a lot of time before I’m even ready to apply. In the meantime, there’s that whole want a baby-want a house thing. I don’t know if grad school will happen (though I hope it does) and I think the idea I have is a good direction that uses my skills, interests and talents.

But I’m scared of all of these things. I’ve always had a reluctance to grow up, and a baby, a house, a master’s degree will all mean significant changes – in my identity, in my finances, in my career potential. This is frightening stuff. Am I ready to be a parent? Am I ready for homeownership? Am I ready to finally get my butt back into academia where it belongs?

I feel so lucky that the dude I married feels the same way I do about things – that the reason we’re waiting for a baby isn’t because one or the other of us is unsure, but that we want to be in the best situation possible. That we’d rather be smart about buying a house, especially after seeing what some of our homeowner friends have gone through. Dan worked his tail off to finish school, to do well, to learn marketable skills so he can have a career he enjoys and not a job he just does for a paycheck (and so, for once, he can be the primary earner while I finally get the schooling I’ve wanted since we’ve been togther). He is supportive, he listens, we talk about our hopes and fears for the future. He’s going to make a great father to our children, and we’re going to have so much fun fixing up a house together, and I know that he will support me every step of the way if and when I do end up getting that master’s degree. These things are scary, but we’re facing them together, eyes wide open, hands clasped.

On becoming a grown-up: The Hotel Room

We go to California several times a year. We’ve gone 7 times since August of 07 which I think has to be some sort of record (granted, one of those times was to SoCal, but it was still California). When we go, we always stay with friends or family members because it helps cut down on the cost of the trip – and we’ve been fortunate enough to have enough people who like us that it hasn’t been difficult to find places to stay.

This time, we plan to spend most of the trip staying at my mom’s house up in the ‘dale. But we fly in on a Monday and we’d like to at least have Tuesday in the Bay Area to do stuff (I have an H&M gift card I’m itching to spend). And we’d like to spend Monday evening with Leah and Simon (Wombat permitting). So, what to do? Leah and Simon have a baby imminent. My sister and her husband have my other sister in their spare oom. My cousin will be just getting back from a big trip around the world. Maybe the Irish German has space? or maybe one of Dan’s relatives wouldn’t mind putting us up for the night?

It suddenly occurred to me when I was at the gym this afternoon that we could get a hotel room in the city. That way, since we fly into SFO we only have to drive up to the city. We could meet Leah and Simon somewhere in the city. And we could already be there on Tuesday morning (no need to drive all over the bay area or take BART) for the shopping excursion I’d like to do. It solves our issues, nobody has to be put out, and we get to sleep in a bed.

This is the first time I’ve ever thought of doing this. It’s the first time since we’ve been together, and traveling to CA together, that I even considered the possibility of shelling out a little bit of cash for a lot of convenience and privacy. I guess we’re at the point (old, married, gainfully employed) where we can actually do that, instead of having to rely on the kindness of our friends and relatives. It’s not worth saving a few bucks and putting other people out.

I think this means I’m officially heading toward adulthood. It’s a little bit weird, but not entirely a bad place to be.

Saturday Potpourri: A brief history of wine

Today, we received our first ever piece of mail addressed to our new married name that both of us will be taking as of March 29, 2008. Though we won’t be able to attend the Old Fashioned Holiday Party (seeing as how we arrive in California five days later), it was still lovely to get an invitation. Thanks, Sara!

I’m coming up a little short today when it comes to posting topics or themes. Dan suggested I write about wine, so here goes.

As most of you know, I grew up in the part of northern California that is considered to be “wine country.” The first time I remember really being conscious that all the grapes grown in the area got turned into wine was one fall after the harvest when flocks of starlings kept flying in front of our car, and some of them would land on the road and not really move. One parent or another mentioned how the birds were eating the leftover grapes that had fermented on the vines and were drunk.

Neither of my parents are big drinkers, and the most I ever had to drink before college was a few sips of kahlua. I drank a little bit of wine in college, mostly cheap stuff from boxes or really sweet wine (I believe my first was a white zinfandel, which is the girly punch of wine). I figured I just must not like wine, and would never like it. I do have a memory of a party at the Big House (the house where my college boyfriend, several friends, and I (briefly) lived during the late 90s and early 2000s) wherin we had this big bottle of some sort of white wine and I had two glasses and got really tipsy right before Sara and our friend Christi got there. I didn’t like it much then, but I liked it better than the other available options (beer, probably).

It wasn’t really until I went to Europe the summer after I graduated college that I really started to like wine. Everyone told me that spending time in Germany would ensure I developed a taste for beer (it didn’t, but that’s another story entirely), but I did somehow grow a fondness for wine in France and Italy. In fact, it’s about all I drank in Europe (other than the aforementioned beer in Munich). That’s also when I really started paying attention to varietal, which kinds I liked, which weren’t so good for me, etc. When I returned home, I started to really get into wine, going tasting at some of the wineries in the area where I grew up and figuring out which ones were my favorites.

Since then, I’ve really developed a taste for wine. I know which wines are my favorites (sauvignon blanc,viognier, shiraz/syrah), which ones I shouldn’t drink lest I develop an instant headache (merlot), which wineries have the wines I like more than others. I have a deep fondness for Bonny Doon winery, among others in California, but if possible I like to try local wines from various places when I travel. My sister and her fiance brought us back a bottle of white wine from Greece that was awesome; QIR brought a bottle of red from Tuscany in 2002 and we drank it last year. It was fantastic. I’m going to look for the same wine when we’re in Italy in January, because I would like to drink more of it.

I started to think about wine and the development of my fondness for it when I was talking to my little sister last week. She’s about to turn 21 and doesn’t really like wine, though somehow in the last couple of months that has started to change a bit. I told her about how I didn’t really like wine until I was about 21, either, and I’m looking forward to going wine tasting with her sometime, maybe when we’re out there at Christmas. There’s only going to be wine and beer at both our wedding and my middle sister’s, so if Laurel wants to get her drink on she’s gotta put up with wine. Or beer.

In related news, when we were at the cabin last month I voluntarily drank quite a bit of beer from the Estes Park brewery (called Stinger). I can’t explain it, but it didn’t have the soapy taste that beer normally puts in my mouth. And when we were in Louisville this past summer, I tried some of Dan’s bourbon and didn’t get disgusted. I even have a tot or two from time to time of the Old Forester he’s keeping around these days. I can’t explain why, only that maybe my taste buds are finally maturing. I can’t expect that I’ll develop a fondness for beer, but I did find one that wasn’t completely gross. And bourbon’s not so bad. Nor was the scotch Dan drank with his dad the other night (I had a couple of sips). And the 12-year Jameson’s Irish whisky I got him a couple of years ago? Yum. I refuse to attempt to like gin, though, so don’t even try.