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April 2009

March 2009

Everybody's Working For ON The Weekend

Wow, that was a busy week, even coming to work at 10 and leaving at 5 ish every day. Wednesday we had dinner at good friends' house. Thursday we went to the Writers Guild to hear the creators and writers of LOST talk about what they do and how they do it. Last night was a fun at Sarah's seeing her family who were in from points east and north. Much laughing and pizza was had by all. Tonight we are invited to another BBQ but I think I'm going to cancel and just hang. Too much to do today. Tax prep and also finish a bid (for pay) that is due on Monday. Tomorrow is Dot's birthday so we are taking her to Santa Anita to watch the races and have a lovely luncheon. In between all that I want to blog a bit more and update Safety Graphic Fun. There are many people who have sent me images. I need to thank them and then organize the pictures. I'm already tired.

As Xeni Jardin said on Twitter this morning: COFFEE IS A FOOD GROUP. 

(She didn't shout it; uppercase mine)

"You Know You From Hawaii When" List Makes Me Laugh

The list goes around every few months in email, and now it's on facebook. I always read it and the three things that really hit home for me are:

-Nobody is completely sure where "north" is...
This is hard to explain to the mainlanders. Kurt still doesn't understand why I can't tell him directions in NSEW when we are anywhere in Hawaii. He'll say "are we going North?" and I'm all "Uuuuuhhhh, I dunno, we are going upcountry (or toward Kehei or into town)." I've gotten good at it here on the mainland but when I'm home if Kurt asks, I have to literally picture a map of Hawaii in my head, visualize where I'm standing and where we are heading and then my answer is still not quite right.

-You drive barefoot
If I'm wearing shoes with heels, they have to come off. If I'm wearing slippers, totally off. If I'm wearing covered shoes and it's cold, well, they stay on.

-You spent half your life barefoot
Well, as I get older on the mainland, this is less true. But the barefoot instincts will never leave me. When I lived in Seattle for a year, it was really frustrating to come home from work during winter and not be able to walk around barefoot! It was COLD! LA is better for kicking the shoes off. In fact the other night I got home and was so busy doing stuff around the house that by the time Kurt got home, I still had my shoes on. He even commented on it and then I suddenly had to rip them off! It was shocking. Normally, the minute I walk in the door, shoes come OFF. When I'm at work, if I have slip-on shoes, half the time they are off when I'm there. I do put them on to go to meetings and to the bathroom.

The other thing about that is that my feet are totally haole feet, not so tough anymore. But, my instinct is still climb over rocks or whatever at the beach without worrying about having shoes on. In fact, in most cases if I do have shoes on, it's harder to scrabble over the rocks. 

There is plenty of stuff on the list that I can relate to but is not part of daily life anymore. (And quite honestly, we never really ate spam.) I do have fond memories of huli huli chicken sales and chow fun in cone cups and zippy's chili and real, true, shave ice. But that's what makes going home all the more fun.

Repeat, This Is Only A Test

While I was in an elevator at work on Monday, my mom called and left voice mail. She said that Jack had collapsed, might have had a minor stroke, and they were on their way to the hospital. I immediately called her back, but only got her voice mail. I pictured here in the ER section of Maui Memorial and knew it might be a bit before she got back to me. I waited. I had plenty of work to distract me but my mind started going into emergency mode, just in case.

I didn't actually do anything, I just kept working, but I thought of all the things I would need to do, depending on the phone call that was coming. The immediate things were: book a flight, call Kurt, talk to my boss, take care of anything that needed taking care of here at home, then be on Maui. I started to imagine being on Maui, potentially planning another funeral, helping mom with whatever she needed help with. It was all fairly vague in some areas and crystal clear in others. 

One thing was obvious and made the whole exercise even more painful: there would be a gaping hole where Jen should be. 

Then mom called, Jack was doing just fine. They were going to do more tests, but the CT scan came back fine, he was talking and relaxed. He spent the night in the hospital just in case and got home yesterday afternoon. He had been on the golf course, and leaned down to pick up his golf clubs which had fallen over in the wind. He then fell and couldn't get up, couldn't talk, though conscious the whole time. The doctors said probably minor stroke. Very minor.

So I stood down. But I knew it was a rehearsal for some time in the future. And a good rehearsal to start feeling what it will be like to stand with my mom at a funeral, just the two of us. 

Search Engine Referrals

I was just checking my blog stats -- how many visits and the all important referrals. (It's always cool to see where people found my blogs.) I check the stats for Safety Graphic Fun quite a bit to see if I'm linked on other people's blogs. But today I checked this blog for referrals and found a doozy!! The link was for a google search and this blog (Julia's Mexico City) came up #1. The search term?


How frakking awesome is that?

The link provided was to my post about bra shopping.

That just made my night.

Time Flies When You Work All The Time (Suddenly)

This one goes out to the Bond Sisters...

Sony Pictures Imageworks is where I spent many happy years in the 90's. I left in December of 99. A new millennium was coming, I needed a new life and took my chances in the freelance life. I love the freelance life! I don't regret leaving at all. In fact the only thing I ever missed (aside from fun people) were two things: unlimited office supplies and simply picking up the phone, calling IT and saying "My computer broke, come fix it" and someone would. I really miss those two things. Though I have PLENTY of office supplies in our house and learning how to fix 75% of my own computer problems has been quite empowering.

I got a job back at Imageworks a few weeks ago, originally just for a few weeks to help them with some extra bidding work. Clients come to a place like Imageworks and say "how much for us to do visual effects in this movie?" and hand over a script and someone like me (VFX Producer) reads it, breaks out the list of FX shots and puts a grand total on it. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes a week or more, depending. I was happy to jump in and make a few bucks. 

An aside: sometimes the producer of a movie will get in contact with a freelance FX producer like me and ask for a shot breakdown and budget as well. So I can get work from many sources. In fact, I was doing a shot breakdown last weekend for a separate producer who had called. Extra work and cash? You bet, I'll take it.

Then Imageworks asked if I could stay to produce a test for 12 weeks at a reduced rate (not a huge reduction) and reduced hours. Ummmm. YES. My hours are 10-5 (flexible as need be) and the pay is still great. I'm quite pleased. Imageworks is 5 minutes from my house (okay okay, 8) and I'm working with one of the creative supervisors I worked with at Imageworks in the 90s. Very fun. It's a good deal and I'm pleased. Plus I'm getting paid as a contractor (1099) so my whole salaray comes to me every week, no taxes removed. Yes, I have to save to pay them next year, but having that much cash is great for now. Helps to pay off the rest of the debt we have left over from last year.

But it's been busy, adjusting to the new schedule and also making my own schedule work. I've been really good about getting up early 5 or 6 to make sure I have time to write on my script and to exercise, even if it's only a 30 minute walk. Now that I have a regular schedule for the next 12 weeks, I feel really good about getting lots of writing done. 

Yes, yes, writing includes blogging, but it seems to fall by the wayside when I really want to get my script done!

So. That's what's been happening work-wise.  More to come...

Grief And Sleep

I've always been a great sleeper. There have been a few periods where my sleep was troubled, but I worked my way out of them, by getting older and by talking myself into sleep.

It's amazing though, how even in the darkest, hardest parts of my sister dying, I still could sleep. Even sleeping alone in the very room she died in (she died at home) on the day she died and for the week following. I'm so grateful for that. I needed the rest to then wake up to deal with all the unrest.

When I was really little, just after my parents got divorced, I remember having fire dreams for a while. I would dream our stove was on fire. I would dream the playground at my school was on fire. Scary stuff for a 1st/2nd grader. Mom always soothed me and I would go back to sleep. Later, after we moved to Maui and I was about nine or ten, I remember waking up and sort of half sleep walking around, convinced that my mom was gone. I would knock on Jen's door, asking her where mom was. I don't know if I actually knocked or spoke loud enough to wake Jen. Maybe she said "Shut up, go back to sleep!" as most older sisters would do, and I would. That lasted for a few days (or was it week?) I don't even know if I told Mom about it after. (Hmmm, I should email her today...)

In college I was on the crew team and we had to be up early. Some years it was 5am that the alarm went off. One year it was 4:45. When sleep is that precious, you learn to go to bed as early as you can and to fall asleep as fast as you can. And as we said at parties, while (always) talking about crew: best feeling in the world (besides sex)? Waking up at 2am and realizing you could go back to sleep for another few hours. I slept well in college. (Plus I was a film major so I never had to be up all night studying.)

When I had my first serious job (Alien 3) I was stressed out. Not only was it a big job, but it was the first time I was working as a production coordinator. So every day was something new. I found myself lying awake at night, fretting, stressing about all there was to do. I don't know how I got so mature but finally after a few nights or weeks of this, I started talking to myself. I would say "Look, there is a lot to do, yes, but you can't do a thing about it until tomorrow when you get to work. Unless you are going to get dressed and go into the office and do all the things you are concerned about, stop thinking about it and go to sleep."  And after a few nights of that, I realized it was true and went to sleep easily from then on.

I'm so glad I figured that out. That little mantra has come in handy so often.

Yesterday I talked a lot about Jen and last year and all that stress and pain and grief. I spoke with one work-colleague who I hadn't seen in a while, but who knew about what had happened, so we caught up. And I was fine, no tears, just talking. Then while waiting for another meeting, I saw another work colleague who I hadn't see in about two years. We sat and chatted, he showed me baby pictures of his new girls and he asked about what was going on with me, asking "Weren't you living in Mexico City or something?" I said "Man, that was like two lifetimes ago!" and he was startled and said, "Why? You're still married aren't you?!?!" and we laughed and I said yes, then said how last year was so bad. And I wasn't going to launch into the whole thing, but he looked at me, kind and friendly, this was a guy I worked really well with and we always had a great laugh together. Suddenly, the tears had to come and I just laughed a bit and said "My sister died last year." And then apologized for crying (which seems so right at the moment, but then later I wonder, why apologize? Wacky.) 

It's so amazing how you can keep your shit together in some situations then not long after, with just the right person who you know cares about you, even if you haven't seen them in two years, there's no holding back. 

The day was long and lots of emotions were stirred up. Mostly about Jen, but also I had to take the cats to the vet to take care of a few minor problems. They are both fine, but both getting a bit older. Bunny is 16 now and while she's in great shape, has fewer years to go. If I were an actress and needed one thing to trigger tears, thinking about Bunny not being around would do it every time. 

So I got home, had some dinner, then Kurt got home and I got into bed around 9:30 and was asleep by a bit after ten. Normally I might wake up around 2:00 and look at the clock and go "YES!" and go back to sleep. Once I fell asleep, I don't remember a thing until my alarm was going off. I was genuinely surprised to have slept so hard. 

I forgot that grief is exhausting, even for a great sleeper like me.

Home Lunch at Lihikai

When I went to Lihikai Public Elementary School on Maui (Go Surfers!), lunch was typical cafeteria style food, not bad, not great and all served on a hard plastic tray. (Like this one but pale blue.) Lunch cost a quarter (unless you were on the special program and got help from the state and lunch was free). You lined up, paid your quarter and got your tray already filled with lunch and a carton of milk.

Every once in a while, just for fun, I would ask mom to help me make a lunch to take with me. This was referred to as "homelunch" and often I would get a little teasing from people. "Eh, you goin' on picnic?" It seemed strange that the other students thought it was strange. Seemed like at Kahala Elementary School on Oahu people brought homelunch all the time and it was no big deal. I was at Kahala El from 1st to half-way through 3rd grade when we moved to Maui. And as I've probably mentioned, I was only one of about five blonde kids in the whole school, K-8. So I stood out. Then I would bring homelunch and stand out even more. Glutton for punishment I guess. Or maybe, (not so) secretly, I liked to stand out.


I thought of this today because Kurt and I are making concerted efforts to save money so we are homelunching it to work. Alas, I don't have a cool lunch box to bring my food in, just some extra handle bags lying around. I don't think I had a cool lunch box back at Lihikai either, just a small soft sided cooler of some kind. 

I would love to have something like this:

But then I'd have to figure out how to make something really good to go inside of it, instead of just throwing lettuce, tuna salad and fork into a bag.

Or maybe, if I did have something like that bento kit above, I would make better things to eat for lunch...but I sometimes say that about exercising: if I had better work-out clothes, I would exercise more.

Actually, what I know for sure is, I never have a problem eating, no matter what kind of container my lunch comes in.

Can You Tell When I'm Working Full Time?

Yes, that's when four days go by and not a peep from me here! I'm SUPER grateful for the job as it will help fill the coffers for a good while. It also means I'm swamped. And, in the When It Rains It Pours category, on top of the job I'm working this week and next, I got another script to read/breakdown over the weekend. If I'm busy, might as well be BUSY.

More soon!

If you need a Julia fix, you can always see something new every day at Safety Graphic Fun

Road Trip!

Kurt and I are planning our first getaway, a true, just for fun, just for us, getaway in over two years. For someone who likes to travel as much as I do, this is a huge deal. Our plan is to take a week and drive to the Grand Canyon, be there for a day or so, then see the meteor crater, then go to four corners and Monument Valley. There are many places in between as well. We considered Carlsbad Caverns, but opted for Monument Valley instead as both of us have never been to Monument Valley. 

(photo by Marc Averette and used under Creative Commons license.)

And I LOVE a good road trip. I love driving and seeing stuff along the way. I've already been making myself cross-eyed by looking at a road atlas close up most of yesterday afternoon. Then I went to one of the many route 66 websites to find turn by turn description of where to find the old 66 since it is no longer called that. Historic 66 was very helpful in this manner. I can't wait! It's seriously going to be tough to come back to LA after a week. I would prefer to just keep on trucking.

One of my many dream road trips would be to drive Route 66, finding all the bits that are still left. I mostly want to drive around the country, avoiding freeways as much as possible. Alton Brown did a great series called "Feasting on Asphalt" recently and I loved every minute of both series. He and his crew rode on motorcycles (plus a back up RV) first from the east to the west coast. Their second series was called the River Run and they followed the Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico to the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota. That is a trip I would do in a minute!

There are many places to see in the world and half the time all I want to do is go back to Italy. But seeing parts of this continent is near the top of my list as well. So our little southwest road trip will be a great start.

Ah Venice (Italy, not California)

This morning, someone on Twitter or maybe it was on Boing Boing or Neatorama or something [mumble mumble] -- anyway, somehow, I found this set of photos. Hey, it was before 6am and I had only 1/2 caff coffee, forgive moi.

The photos are gorgeous images from the air of Venice, Italy taken by Dan Kitwood last fall. Makes me drool with lust and desire to be back there. Full set is here.


How awesome would it be to stay here: