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June 2009

Celebrity Deaths

Ed McMahon was sick, Farrah was sick. These reports were sad to hear. Michael Jackson was a shocker, but on some level not entirely out of left field. That guy seemed to have faded from my radar for a long time. I felt very sorry for him and whatever his life had been, clearly there were major issues. And listening to all that amazing music made me sad that he couldn't ever recover from being so up and then so DOWN. 

But I wasn't really so touched or sad or disturbed. I think that there is so much immediate grieving still going on in my own life and family that a stranger's sudden death, albeit a famous stranger, doesn't have the impact it might have had before April 2008. But even then, Kurt and I were watching stories and remembrances for all three over the weekend and Kurt said he couldn't think of a celebrity who had died that made him really sad. Which made me think of the only time I got weepy when I heard of a celebrity who died.

Jim Henson.

I was working at my first real post-college job in 1990, feeling sort of finally kind of grown up, living on my own, making money, being very responsible at age 23, when I heard the news. It broke my heart because it was a significant part of my childhood -- Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. His work on these shows have given me sweet wonderful memories of perfect childhood days and nights. And now I was a grown up and his death was a hard reminder of how I could never really go back. (His death was too soon as well, he was only 53.) 

If you are of my age/generation, tell me you don't get a little misty watching Bid Bird sing "It's Not Easy Being Green" at Jim Henson's memorial. And if you don't then tell me what celebrity death has made you stop in your tracks and put your hand to your heart.

Punk Rock And Me

Yeah. I'm not really that punk rock. More of a poser really. But listening to Green Day (I know, I know, bear with me...) has really made me feel good. I think it's because I can sing/shout and pound my hands on my steering wheel to the music, which is "acceptable" in our society. Really what I want to do is scream and yell and break things and run and run and run until I can't run anymore, until I can barely breath. 

Most of it is my sister being dead. How could she leave me and my mom and her kids this way? How could she be so selfish? The preppie-square in me says: Stop it. You are the one being selfish. I say: Fuck you, square-preppie me, I'm pissed off, leave me alone.
I want to pound on the drums, which really means I want to break things. There is so much to get out. But in moments of mellow-ness, when the volume on 21st Century Breakdown is not rattling the windows in the car, I think: Okay, I can't suddenly be a rock and roll drummer and sit down at a drum kit and beat out some cathartic rhythms. What can I do? How can I express all this? Writing. How can I be a punk writer? Wait, do I have to be a punk writer? Doesn't that mean I just want to be HONEST? 

Yes, that's it. Honest. True. Harsh even, in some situations. My punk side says: Stop being such a pussy and write what you feel! My preppie-square side says: ooooh, scary!

Time to really get over it. Stop being so afraid. 

Time to bang out some truth.

Friday = Free Day!

Friday was my last day at work! 16 weeks are now complete and HOORAY! I'm very grateful for the job because it helped us get ALL of our credit cards paid off! (The last payment goes out next week!) Very Very grateful for that. It also helped us buy a new car, also a very good and needed thing.

Friday they had a party at work (no, not for me) and some of the story artists in the animation department were doing caricatures so I had mine done. See how happy I am on Friday? 

The guy got my crooked mouth just right!

I was also happy because my new good friend Suzanne had a going away party for me in her office:

It was just the two of us but it was a great party!

When I got home my sister Dor had sent me this LOLcat she had made for me:

That is just about how it felt!

I DO haz freedom!!

Good Dental Hygiene

Had my 6 month cleaning yesterday. Took a self portrait because I blog. I'm also a bit vain about my teeth. Physically, it's the only thing I'm vain about. Cue Carole King Carly Simon because I probably thought this blog was about me. 

Oh, it is.

Plus, it's a decent photo of me. Best photo of me having my teeth cleaned, that is for sure. 

I really recommend flossing. 


Weigh In Wednesday

KittyonscaleScale says 186 again this week. Maintenance and consistency are not bad things. I hit 185 during the week so I know things are still moving downward on the scale. 

Here's the amazing thing, it's been about eight weeks (or more?) since I started on the plant based program. Over that time, I have had some meat and a tiny bit of fish and a skosh of cheese and dairy. In fact I had ice cream this week and it was okay, but not super satisfying. I think I only had it out of habit as Kurt was having some (a special treat from Baskin and Robins). 

I don't miss the meat and I don't miss the dairy. At all. Maybe it's because I have had enough here and there to feel quite satisfied, not like I'm 100% denying myself. Maybe because all the different recipes I've tried are so yummy and satisfying that I don't even think about meat or dairy anymore. 

No matter what, I feel pretty good about it all and don't feel like I'm "on a diet" of any kind. I could probably eat a little bit less in general, but I'm still pleased with my progress!


I wrote the following to my mom this morning, and as I was writing about it, wanted to post it here as well.

Last night I dreamt I was in a HUGE craftsman style house -- 3 or 4 times bigger than G. Jane's Makawao house (which was a 3 story, 5 bedroom, huge old house). I was someone's guest and I knew they had a baby (maybe it was Jen's? or Cynthia's?) and I knew the baby hadn't been seen for a while. I was walking down an upstairs hallway, going down to the ground floor, there were friendly dogs hanging out with me and as I went down the stairs I heard very faint crying. I stopped and thought, hmmmm, it's not my baby, I shouldn't do anything. But then I knew that there was no one else so I paused and went closer to the doors and could tell the baby had been crying and neglected for a long time that day. So I went into the amazingly furnished room through the large glass french doors and the baby (I think boy) stood up in his very fashionable designer crib painted in period greens and browns with fancy pillows and trimmings. He was crying and crying and crying and my heart just melted. I went right over and reached out to him. He didn't reach back, just kept wiping his eyes and I picked him up and comforted him and hugged and hugged him and started to take him downstairs with me. 

I woke up feeling like -- uh oh, my creative babies are feeling very neglected and are crying out to me!

And no mistake that it was a "crafts" man house.

No surprise as yesterday on NPR they mentioned a short story contest they are having this summer and when I heard that I knew instantly what the story was that I would enter. It's been sitting in rough form in my inbox on my desk for months -- a year?  More? I then sorta half blew off the idea of working on it and sending it in. Until this morning, after that dream. So I got up and typed up the handwritten notes and will work on it and I will send it in.

Funny thing -- the story is based on a dream too!

Time to blow the cobwebs out of my imagination and get it sparked and running again.

Body Surfing As Metaphor

When I would go visit my dad and stepmom and sisters in the summer on the Big Island we would often go to the beach at Hapuna. Back then there was only the Mauna Kea Hotel at the Kawaihae side and those funky A-frame cabin things you could camp in near the parking lot. It was a great beach for body surfing though it was occasionally scary for me as I was only about nine or ten when we started going and when I felt like a strong enough swimmer to go out into the surf. 

Most of the time it was fine, but every once in a while you'd get pushed under in the middle of a set, tumbling and swirling in the foam. Then you'd come up gasping for breath only to see another wave pounding down at you and under you would go again, eyes wide open but seeing nothing but foam and feeling the wave go over. Up again to snatch more air and another wave was coming right at you, down again into the tumble. Once more up and sucking in air hoping the set was past so you could catch your breath and ride a few of the easy waves. Or depending on how you felt, get out of the water for a while and just lie on the steady, solid warm sand. 

2008 was like that for me and Kurt. Barely coming up for breath before the next wave hit. It was really scary at times. I didn't know if I could hold my breath that long or if I could find the surface again. Yet, just like at Hapuna, I always did. I don't know if having been pushed under so many times gives you confidence. Fear is still there when you are out of control in the turbulent waters, but knowing what it feels like helps you to know that you will come up for air again, more than likely. The survival instinct and that way nature is always trying to balance things are big helps.

2008 was a long bad set of nasty waves. There's been some easier, gentler waves in the last six months, but I can see that big set outside. There is turbulence ahead but I am better at diving under the waves and getting a breath before diving under the next one but you can never predict how a wave will be. I just hope this set is not as big as it looks. 

Never take your eyes off the ocean.


Fathers Day -- It's Complicated

3139327055_949f989cdaIt's complicated. Even when I look at friends who seem to have very normal relationships with their dads I'm sure there must be a story in there that makes it complicated. Or maybe not, maybe their relationships are picture postcard worthy and I'm a little jealous. 

My dad died three years ago this summer but it's been much longer than that since I've said Happy Fathers Day to him as he had Alzheimers for four or five years before that. In a way it was a relief to stop sending him cards and gifts because I was never quite sure what to say. It wouldn't be the truth to say "You've always been the greatest Dad!" No dad is. And my dad was complicated. 

Being older and wiser now and having worked hard to understand why my dad was the way he was, I knew he did the best he could with what he had. Right before he started his downhill slide into Alzheimers I got a chance to ask him about his father and mother and stepmother and about his real life growing up. It was not pretty for him and I finally saw him for what he really was deep down: a scared little boy. I'm sorry I couldn't know that or even understand it until it was just about too late to have a changed relationship with him. And even though he's gone, I am still working to have a good relationship with him in my heart. I'm human too and there is still lots of work to do there.

I learned lots of good things from my dad, directly and indirectly. I'm glad I learned to swim as young as I did and to be on a team for a long time. I'm glad I learned how to fly, for that short little while. I didn't get the benefit of his love for music, like Dor did. But that came from not living with him, which in the long run is just fine. It's funny, I can tell you with great certainty all the personality traits I've picked up from my mom, but with my dad it's not so easy. I know for sure I got his chin, his thumbs and the Rivas Big Toe. There are time when I'm being stubborn and a know-it-all and I think, "Oh, that's the part of dad that made me cringe, I have to stop that." And there are times when I'm trying to tell a good story and wish I could do it as well as Carlos did. I know he was a voracious reader and that is something I am as well and I'm so glad. 

Do I miss him? That's a tough one. I wish we had had more time to get to know each other with me as a grown up and having understood him better. But I am grateful we had a small window of understanding. I know he loved me very much. I know it because he told me often. I also know he was very proud of me because he told me directly and because he bragged about me to strangers on airplanes or at movie theaters and then told me about that. I have no doubt about those things. 

It's complicated.

Dad, I hope you are somewhere enjoying a good round of golf, a nice sail around a beautiful island and listening to your favorite music.

Friday Musings on Music and Grief

@traviskoplow tweeted:

When I'm stressed I listen to the same music over and over. This week, Gang of Four. Over and over. I think it's some mild autism thing.

I think it's perfectly normal. 

Though lately with grief, it's almost harder to listen to music because it opens up so many floodgates of memories and emotion. Sometimes you need some distance. But when I worked at Imagworks in the 90's and especially on the two big FX Producing jobs I did here, Contact and Godzilla, I listened to comfort music. 

On Contact I would come in really early, like at 5:30, to get three hours of uninterrupted work time in. (I shared a big office with three other people.) I might listen to classical or movie soundtracks -- soothing background sounds. But there were days when only "Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills and Nash would do. Not the album it's on. Just that one song. Over and over and over. It made me think of Hawaii and the ocean and night time. Specifically it reminded me of going on the trip to Kahoolawe my senior year of high school when we took a huge catamaran over at 3am and you could see the southern cross on the way over. That was a strange and great trip.

On Godzilla it was Madonna Ray of Light -- the whole album this time. I would just play the whole thing on repeat most afternoons. I love that album to this day. It's my favorite of Madge's.

Now, of course you know of my current obsession with Green Day. There are days when I most love the song with the first line "I'm Not Fucking Around!" If you are in a mood, that is a great one to sing along to. Anger issues much? Perhaps and I'm working my way around to expressing them better in writing. Just not today. Thanks Green Day. 

(We got our tickets to the concert, by the way. YAY!)

Whitelotus    Whitelotus  Whitelotus  Whitelotus  Whitelotus  

Speaking of grief, a blogger friend's mom died a few weeks ago, unexpectedly. I have been thinking about him and how he's doing almost every day. Then yesterday I heard here at work that Jesus, the maintenance guy who's been here since I was here in 1996, his father died. Someone was taking a collection of money to help him get back to Mexico so I ran down to throw a bunch of money in the pot.

Because it's been ten years since I've been here full time, I hardly know anyone in the building anymore and they don't know me, which is fine. What is pleasantly surprising is that the parking attendants, the maintenance crew and the recycle collectors are all the same and I know them and often chat with them, catching up about their families, etc. They are like the foundation here, the one constant that doesn't seem to change. It's comforting. Which is why when I heard about Jesus, my heart was in my throat thinking about him going home for his dad's funeral. 

Weigh In Wednesday

GiraffeonscaleGood morning! The scale read 186 today, good for me. Down another from last week, even with the hot dog a palooza and etc over the weekend. Last week was very busy with work and event planning and I didn't eat as well as I normally do, though I still didn't eat much outside of the plan (until Saturday and Sunday).  So Sunday night I made the veggie lasagna and will have it for lunch often this week. I also bought stuff for veggie sandwiches to take to work. It's also nice not to spend so much money on lunch.

Last night I dreamt I was running. I felt fast and fleet and fit. (though fast is something I've never been! I'm all about the long distance/slow and steady...) It was a nice reminder of where I can get back to.

I've lost 14 pounds since Christmas. Good for me. The hard part is, I start feeling like "I did it! My clothes are looser and I don't feel as squishy!" but then I see photos of me from last Saturday's event -- where I'm clearly having fun, which is what it is all about! -- and think, "Okay, we have much work to do yet." And I'll do it.

I didn't reach my goal of 183 by June 13. So I will reset the goal and say 182 (or less) by July 15. 

By the way, I just love this picture of the baby giraffe being weighed. He's all long and floppy and I love the parent's giraffe heads looking over the fence in back. I want to hug a baby giraffe.