Sure, the song talks about the holiday spirit, the thrill of meeting up with family and friends, of enjoying a bit of Christmas Cheer as we celebrate a season of giving.
But, see, this also is a most wonderful time of year for the professorial types. It's the end of fall term.
Most of my grading for the semester is done...everything but the final exams and some wayward homework assignments that seem to find my mailbox on campus. And then...judgment day, or days, in my case; Monday night and Tuesday mid-morning, my students will be int he computer lab, banging away their final essay in Spanish, as I finalize the gradebooks in everything but the final exam. And this time, I don't have much time to get the grading done, as one of my closest friends comes in on Wednesday night for a few days of visiting and sight-seeing. So, basically, the finality of the semester, followed by fun tour-guide
Actually, the reason I love this time of year is simple: normally grumpy, cranky, and generally unpleasant people are actually nice to one another. People help others out, there are more people smiling and generally happy. Even those who have seemingly outgrown the concept of Santa Claus still display the spirit. I love it!
Some people read the daily comics in the morning to start their day. I read the horoscopes. 4 of them, mind you...the fact that 4 different 'readers of the stars' have 4 wildly different 'interpretations' of the same stars is hilarious to me. Not to mention what they mention will happen to me today.
The last 4 days one in particular has been predicting that a 'windfall of money' is coming my way. Um, it's been 4 days now, and I haven't exactly seen an extra red cent come my way. Sure, on Friday I got money back from the store, but that's because I returned something. And I hardly think $20 is a windfall. With the exception of the income that I normally receive on the last working day of the month, I don't expect anything else to come in the next couple of days, either.
Now, if I do end up getting some money in the mail, beautiful. I certainly will not look that gift horse in the mouth.
Another one today said that I will face a series of decisions, and that all I need to do is choose the correct one, and not plan any contingencies. Well, I do have to finish my lineup for Fantasy Football...but there really aren't any contingencies to be made. Either I leave my lineup as is, or I switch a player for one on the bench. And I came to my decision a couple of days ago.
Speaking of decisions...do I want to make soup today, or something else? Hmmmmmm...cold weather, the last of the turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving...eh, I'll go sit on the couch and watch some football. I'll leave the deciding to my cat later. She's good at that.
Wow, didn't realize how lax I had become in my blogging duties. But times have become quite busy in the morning lately, what with work and new routines. I do wish I could be of a mind to do this in the evening, when I'm relaxing, but sadly it escapes my mind. How odd, as I'm usually doing so many other things at night which are equally as taxing. Oh well, I promise to myself that I'll check in more frequently.
At any rate, this by far is my favorite holiday, and not just because of the dinner. No, it's one that actually still means something, one that doesn't require a religion, rather it is obligatory to have a sense of being grateful for what you have, no matter how much or how little it may be.
In fact, that's how I started my day...cuddling Bella, watching the sunrise, and singing along. Of course, I've now moved on to an alternative mix on my iTunes, but that's neither here nor there.
I'm cooking this year, which is a first in a way. Oh, it's not the first time I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner, as I used to do it--by myself or shared with another friend--when I lived in Texas. But it is the first time I'm cooking this grand dinner for my family, something that has caused me quite a bit of excitement. I know I can cook this one well--honestly, the only 'holiday dinner' that's easier is to cook a ham. But it almost makes me feel like a grown up, the fact that my mom doesn't 'have' to cook it anymore, that we kids (who range from almost 36 to 28) can do this, that the torch has officially been passed. (Of course, my mom has already made the announcement that she and Dad are doing Christmas day...but that's another story.)
And the best part of this day is the actual giving of thanks...of recognizing that there really is something great about life, and that we appreciate it. Many of my European friends who come from cultures without such an official holiday find it a refreshing concept, and one that they have included into their lives because of it. I know my Canadian friends already had theirs last month, but to me it doesn't matter when you celebrate this day, it's the act of celebration and gratefulness that is important.
What am I thankful for? Well, if you must know...in no particular order...
My family and friends--both those that I see/talk to on a regular basis and those who I don't. And Bella the Kitty is part of this, natch.
My job...although it's not as full-time as I would like, at least it's income.
My new apartment...seriously. Compared to the dump I lived in the 3 years prior, especially.
My students, who teach me something everyday, seemingly.
The fact that I am alive, that I walk, talk, breathe, move, think, see, hear, touch, taste and all that--FREELY.
There's something else, something which may seem odd at first, but it is important. I'm thankful that, in this past year, I have loved and lost, that I have healed and moved on, and that I can tell the story. It seems weird to thank my former love for tearing my heart out and stomping on it, but then again I've never been a normal kind of girl. See, I'm thankful that I had the chance...that I had the opportunity and experience to love again, something that I hadn't had for quite some time before that. Also, the fact that I'm thankful that I can tell the story, even the funny bits--especially the funny bits. It's certainly helped my writing a lot
So, to you and yours, regardless of your culture, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. May we all continue to be blessed.
I've paid my dues -
Time after time -
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime -
And bad mistakes
I've made a few
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face -
But I've come through
We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world -
I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls -
You brought me fame and fortuen and everything that goes with it
I thank you all -
But it's been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise -
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race -
And I ain't gonna lose -
We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world
The last time it happened was 1954. The boys were still living in New York, playing at the Polo Grounds. This kid Mays was patrolling centerfield, The Say Hey Kid made a catch in the first game that is still considered one of, if not the, greatest defensive play of all time. In that series, the boys from New York swept the boys from Lake Erie, and there was so much hope for the team. Surely they would win more championships. Alas, they didn't.
In 1957 the ownership decided to be part of the expansion of baseball to the West Coast, along with their biggest rivals, Dem Bums. Dem Owners of Dem Bums at least bothered to tell the fan base at the beginning of the season, so their fans had a chance to say their goodbyes, albeit unwillingly. But the Boys from the 'Grounds, well, the owners sprung it on the fans very late...and were in such a rush to get out, they left the plaque honoring their Captain Eddie, who died fighting in the Great War. A curse was placed on the Boys, that they would never win as long as they were in California.
1962...one of the greatest teams ever. Los Hermanos Alou patrolled the outfield, the only pair of brothers to do so in the World Series in the history of the sport, before or since. The Dominican Dandy could not be beat...or so we thought. Stretch hit the ball so hard and so far...but came up just shy. Peanut at third sucked in everything that came his way and threw out anyone who tried to run on him. Yet the Bronx Bombers knocked us down in 7. Maris, Mantle...yikes.
1989...A team that was easy to like. Kruk, Big Daddy and the rest of the pitching staff was one of the best in baseball. Mitch, Will The Thrill...they hit the ball a country mile, reminding us of Stretch. An infield of Matty, OOOO-RIIIIBAY, Rockin Robbie and Will The Thrill made twin killings look like eating a slab of sourdough. Even our opponents were fortuitous...the Athletics from just across the Bay. But Mother Nature had other ideas, and on the 17th, just before the first World Series game at Candlestick since 1962, she decided to give us a great big shake. Some say she was in cahoots with Captain Eddie and the Boys already up at the Big 'Grounds in the Sky.
2002...one of the greatest players of all time, the son of a great Giant and the godson of one of the Say Hey Kid, was on our side. Of course, we found out later that he was a bit more amped than usual...but oh well. He had a partner at second base that wasn't anyone to sneeze at. Great hitters...but they couldn't content with the Halos, who were managed by a former Bum. Of course, they lost...and in heartbreaking fashion.
And now...with a pitching staff that is young, virile, and heart-breakingly good...with a collection of hitters and fielders who most everyone easily overlooked...against a bunch of Rangers who were considered the huge favorites...in 5 games we stomped them into the ground. Once again, the old adage is true: great pitching defeats great hitting. We beat the Bravos, we beat the Phighting Phils, and now we've beaten the Rangers.
Not that it's noteworthy, but this year there were a series of plaques installed around AT&T Park, celebrating the great Giants of yore. Captain Eddies was one of the first installed.
If you need me, I'll be on Market Street, celebrating with my boys.
Ordinarily I hate that song. Both on general principals--I dislike Journey passionately--and the fact that it's way overused for sports teams. The concept is...well...to keep the faithful believing that the Home Team (whoever they may be) will in fact to all the way to become the next champions.
Of course, my Giants, or rather fellow Giants fans, chose this song.
SOOOOOOOOOO many others could have been chosen. Instead, we have this bit of insipid guitar chords and wailing.
And yet...the Giants are going on to the next round! I told you they would. Well, I always knew they would. And now we have Philly...and I think we'll beat them, too. Yeah, I said it. So there.
On the flip side, my brother, the Oakland A's fan, is openly rooting against the Giants as he's wont to do. The boy loves disturbing the manure pile. And since his parents and older sister openly root for the Giants, he has to go the opposite way. There's always one in every family.
I remember as a child I would ask, nay, demand of my mom that we see a game at Candlestick Park when the Dodgers came into town. You see, the Giants and the Dodgers have been bitter rivals since their days in New York and Brooklyn, respectively. They carried that out to the West Coast in 1958, with the Giants coming to San Francisco--Baghdad By The Bay--and 'Dem Bums' going down south to Los Angeles--that cesspool of smog and superficiality. In the 1980s, the manager for the Dodgers was one Tommy Lasorda, a man who pitched for the Dodgers (and who was average by all accounts) but who perhaps was their most legendary manager. He would rant and rave to make sure his players got what was right...in all honesty, if he was your manager, you loved him. We Giants fans, well, we hated him...his blood ran Dodger Blue.
I had to go every summer to a game when the Good Guys would beat up on the Dodgers, just so I could boo Lasorda. Of course, we'll ignore the fact that the Dodgers always seemed to play well against the Giants, especially in Candlestick Park--a fact that seems counterintuitive, seeing as how the 'Stick was a hellhole of a baseball stadium, both as a player and as a fan. No matter, I wanted to go and root the Giants on and revile the Dodgers...and my mother loved that. So she would take us...she and I (and my dad, on the rarities that he could come with us) decked out in Orange And Black...and there was Matt, sitting next to us, sometimes in his A's Green and Gold, sometimes not...rooting for the Dodgers. Dammit.
No matter...my prediction for the NLCS: Giants over Phillies in 7 games. Mark it.
After the intros for all the other Giants, you hear the sound of
In the bullpen, warming up...number 55...TIM!!!!! LINCECUM!!!!!!
Yes, it's the post season for Major League Baseball, and my Giants are in, and looking strong. While I don't have tickets to any of the games, at least I can watch at home. Also, I won't be freezing at AT&T Park, whic his very and entirely possible to do during night games.
Oh, I had some gripes on what manager Bruce Bochy concocted for the 25-man roster...like why the hell did he let Pablo Sandoval onto the roster? Mr. I Swing At Everything And Am Too Pudgy To Play Defense? On the other hand, 'Boch' left Barry Zito off, which pleased everyone in the Bay Area. But overall, hey, the dude knows what he's doing, right? Hope so.
Everyone here is worked up in a frenzy over this; even Oakland A's fans are happy for us, sorta. It's the first time in 7 years that the Giants have been in the playoffs. The last time they went in as National League West champs, same as this year. But not much came of it, as they lost in the first round. It won't happen again this year! No, I tells ya!
In my family, there is a bit of a tradition. We never would watch tv while eating dinner--a practice that I hope to continue in life once I live in a place where the dining and living areas aren't connected together. There, however, were two exceptions: the MLB All-Star Game, and the first game of the World Series. Oh, not like the Giants were in there often--1989 and 2002 are the only times in my lifetime--but if they were playing in the playoffs, my mom would re-arrange dinner time so that we would miss the least amount of time from the tv as possible. We even listened to the radio broadcast during dinner, as an appeasement--mostly to me, as I probably was the biggest baseball fan in the family. As we got older, we would set up tv trays in the living room and eat there...a HUGE event, to be sure, as eating in the living room was taboo.
So, forgive me, all, if I seem a bit more daft than usual, but my mind's on baseball. I promise, it'll be all back to normal in November
Life has been busy lately, but somehow I've managed. I've had to get creative in order to make ends meet...it doesn't involve a street corner, but it does involve applying my talents in new ways. I have decided that I need to be called a 'consultant.'
Why, you ask? Because for one, I live not in the city, but in the suburbs, and evidently all those minimally-employed or unemployed professionals who are looking to rectify their economic situation call themselves as such. I've been told that 'consultant' sounds more dignified and represents the level of education and experience possessed by people like me. Also, because a consultant can charge more for services rendered than the average Joe or Jane.
Eh, whatever works. As long as I can earn enough to keep the roof over my head, the lights on, and the fridge with some food, then things will be ok.
Very interesting discussion on BBC World News America tonight. Katty Kay did a report on economic troubles in Rhode Island, being representative of much of the rest of the country, but it was followed by an exchange between her and Matt Frei, the anchor. They made an interesting comparison between Europeans and Americans when it comes to these tough economic times. Both the Englishwoman and the German gentleman noted that Europeans have expected certain services by their governments--services for which they have been paying much higher taxes for a very long time--and now that the governments have to cut back some 20% on these services, the sense of entitlement that the government isn't helping the people is growing. By contrast, they noticed that most Americans aren't big on government help...we have never really expected the government to give us everything, but that probably is because we have a culture of wanting lower, not higher, taxes, along with a culture of do-it-yourself; we want to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, not have the government do it for us. On the other hand, they both figured that if things get much worse here, Americans will start striking and protesting just like in France, Spain, Italy and other European countries. (Of course, our first protest will come on the first Tuesday of November, with the elections.)
Are they right? Very probably. It seems like it's always been a land of independence--it's not that we don't want help, but we have a pride in taking care of ourselves that seems to run counter to socialism in the strictest sense. Even though polls are suggesting that more and more Americans are warming up to nationalized health care plans, we also don't want the government to interfere all the time with our lives. Perhaps that's as a consequence of our history--pioneers fending for themselves, and all that. And as for the comment on Europeans feeling entitled to certain services but paying higher taxes, that probably has truth in it, too, but my knowledge and impressions aren't that strong. I will say that being in Italy this summer, people were highly disgruntled with the government telling them to expect less for more, even though the austerity measures would still result in more coverage and services than the average American had. Pushing the age of retirement from 60 to 62 seems to be unheard of and unacceptable for most Europeans...but my parents' generation saw retirement somewhere between 62 and 65, and for my generation it probably will be 68, or maybe even later.
I guess the bottom line is that we humans are creatures of comfort and habit. We really aren't that fond of change, particularly if it disrupts our lives so much. Yet we always seem to manage through, all the same.
In watching the news today, one couldn't help but notice that the Holy See visited Scotland, met with Her Royal Highness, and held mass in a park in Glasgow, all before heading off to Londontown. The head of the Catholic Church made stronger remarks on the molestation scandal than he has in the past, he made a reference to the strength of the British will in the face of the Nazis, and in general played diplomat.
And somehow, I couldn't care less.
I mean nothing. Dude, the Vatican has not been a seat of real political power since the Reunification of Italy, and maybe one could argue even before that. The fact that this guy is the Pope, the head on one of the major religions in the world, gives him the right to high respect. No one would begrudge him that. But the way that it was covered on local, national, and international news tonight, one would have thought that God literally made an appearance, instead of his (her?) human representative on earth.
When I went to the Vatican, and in particular once I stepped into St. Peter's Basilica, I was indeed awed. And let's face it, you are meant to be awed when you walk in. Sumptuous colors, huge statues paying homage to past Church leaders. And while it was an unforgettable experience, going into Santa Maria Maggiore, and hearing Mass there, was even more gripping for me. Oh, it was full of riches itself--it's evidently thought of as the Second Vatican, and I believe it's the oldest cathedral in Rome. It is full of relics, of gilding, and of beauty. But it was a feeling, an intangible force that I sensed that made it a much more pleasant, rewarding, and indeed humbling (in a positive way) experience. Certainly it cannot be said that I'm a faithful Catholic; I go to Mass when I want, and that's not very often, and there are some elements of dogma that I disagree with. But I was more at peace at Santa Maria Maggiore than I was at St. Peter's; one could even say that I was almost nervous at St. Peter's.
Maybe the novelty of the Papacy has worn off. I'll still always be a Catholic--I don't plan on changing religions--but I just don't see myself being endeared to the current leader. Maybe that has to do with his past, or his current (and historic) stances on various issues to which I am diametrically opposed. But I just don't see how this is all a big deal.
Folks, if you don't like baseball, then you don't need to be around the Bay Area right about now. The Giants are really in the thick of it...half a game out for the lead in the National League West, about that for the Wild Card...lots of games at home, and Dem Dodger Bums from LA are in town. Sadly, we have their best pitchers going against us right now, and the Boys in Orange and Black are having a tough go of it. But we have our best pitchers going for us, too, so it's been a tight, well-played series thus far. Last night the Giants lost 1-0; the one run came in via an error. Tonight, there's no score, and right now it's the bottom of the 6th.
For those that have zero knowledge of America's Pasttime, it's like watching a nil-nil soccer match, but there cannot be a tie game. You go until someone wins. And it's the end of the season.
Truly, I love sports, but baseball has always been closest to my heart. I used to listen to the radio broadcasts as a child: while doing homework, while in my room, even when I was at the game itself. I would live for the games to be on the tv, so that I could watch my favorite team. I played summer co-ed leagues as a kid, and always played catch with my parents. We would go to several games each summer, cheering the boys on.
Of course, if you're a Giants fan, you know that the team has been cursed since they came out to California from New York City in 1958. The story goes that the Dodgers and the Giants decided to move out to California at the same time. The Dodger owners told the fan base early on, and gave the fans time to say goodbye--they didn't want to see their team go 3000 miles west, but at least they could see the team off. The Giants owners supposedly didn't announce the decision until right at the very end of the season...and the New York Giants fans put a curse on the team, that for as long as they would make their home in California, the team would never win another World Series. So what's happened? 1989, an earthquake erupts *in the middle of the series*...see? Even Mother Nature is against us. 2002 was the other recent chance...it still hurts. I don't want to talk about it.
Anyway, the awesome part is that now in the new place, I have my couch in front of the tv, my footrest nearby...my kitchen is stocked, and I'm ready to sit and watch the game. My boys are going to go all the way...I can feel it. Unless, of course, the Fates decide that it's not meant to be. But c'mon...the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, the White Sox broke their curse in 2005...time to break this one, too. Just as long as it's before the Cubs break their curse...and that ain't happening any time soon.
In case your local or national news hasn't picked it up, there was a massive explosion of a gas main in San Bruno, which is just south of San Francisco. The explosion was so gigantic that people at first thought that it was a plane crash; people inside their houses still felt the heat. Pacific Gas and Electric, the power company here, just confirmed that the gas main was a huge transfer pipeline, a 24-inch pipe that probably carried 300-pounds of pressure, that blew. A producer for ABC News said that a 20-foot section of pipe was split in two, and the explosion also blew a water main, so putting out the main fire took longer than expected. Really, no one knows at this time (10:30pm PDT) how many homes have been disintegrated, how many people are dead, nor how many more have been injured. Definitely, an entire neighborhood is gone.
And I can't stop watching the news.
I live about 15-20 miles away, and while I don't think I know anyone who lives in that specific neighborhood, I can't pull myself away. Less than 1/2 mile away is Skyline College--I worked there for a year, and it is a sister college to the one I work at. I know that some Skyline students come down to my college for courses, and I can only imagine that some of my former colleagues are directly affected.
The organizer in me wants to do something--anything--in order to help. I want organize drives, or reach out to people...something. But sitting on my couch, I feel like I'm here with my thumb up my arse, completely helpless. So far there haven't been any notices from work on how we can help, but I know that by the time I wake up in the morning my email inbox will be filled. My Facebook connections will provide other information. Most likely there will be a blood drive--our campus nurses are in tight with the blood banks.
I guess the good side of this is how people are connecting to help others, whether they know the person or not. On the news reporters are interviewing people, both to get information as well as to show that John Smith and Jane Brown are fine, and are looking for family and friends. A couple of shopping centers are places where emergency services are having people go to register and get services--and the businesses are opening and helping in any way that they can. It's not about earning money or gaining notoriety; it's about helping your community. What a beautiful thing.
Somehow I have to go to sleep tonight. No idea how that's going to work.
Yes, folks, I am now reunited with the virtual world and the television world, and damn does it feel good. Even better, I got my couches today. So in all honesty, I can actually start having people over. What a concept!
In all seriousness, I haven't had a place that I could entertain in since I left Austin in 2005. Living with my parents didn't exactly espouse positive feelings in that aspect. In theory the last apartment could have been wonderful, what with the unit leading to the backyard. The problem, however, was that the place needed so much work that I was too embarrassed to show it to many people. And even then, it was a quick "So, here it is, small and quaint. Thanks for stopping by!"
But now, I have room for many to sit and relax. And next weekend I should get my dinette table in, which will help even more. Pretty soon it'll all be right as rain.
I know, I know, I haven't been very active on the blogs lately. No, I haven't fallen off into the deep end. Just that I moved to a new apartment, one right on campus to my main employer. This brand-new construction has had some glitches, including the fact that the powers that be forgot to hook it up to the internet and cable grid. So, it might be another week yet before I have internet at home, or tv for that matter. Mildly annoying, and it doesn't fit in with my plans, but what are you going to do?
Therefore, I am relegated to having to walk across the street with my laptop and hook up to the wifi several times a day. Like I said, mildly annoying. And to be honest, I've been bitching about it to a select group of people, who are like minded. Then it dawned on me yesterday...I need to really let this go. I can't do a thing about it. Patience is a virtue, one that I possess at times. I'll just have to take it for now.
Because, in all truthfulness, there is nothing about this place I don't like. It is damned near perfect. I have a view that I haven't had in years, of the Coastal Range; I see the fog pouring over the hills every night, and retreating back every morning. I walk to work, or have a very short drive for the private groups, so I use less than half of the gas as before. The apartment is twice the size, plus a garage, with brand-new everything, and high-efficiency appliances. It's no joke to say that my living situation has improved 100 fold.
Now it's time for me to run along to class. I'll fill you in later with more, and include some pictures in the gallery.
First, an apology to all 'true' Clapton fans...I know that isn't one of his best songs, and unlike when I usually type out this blog, I'm not even listening to the song on iTunes or in my head. In fact, I don't really like the song. But the title is just so appropriate.
Yesterday I went to sign the lease for the new apartment. Oh how the cherubs in heaven sang! I keep telling myself, 8 more days and I'll be on my way to the apartment that I've wanted for quite some time. Not just new, but around professionals who won't stand outside your window yapping at dark during the week, where I don't have to worry about walking home at night for fear of random intoxicated street folk. A place that is finally big enough to have people come over, and its maintenance will be up to professionals who take such concepts as 'repair' and 'appearance' seriously. A place to truly call home.
I used to have such a place once...from 2003-2005 the apartment in the northwest corner of Austin. That was a gorgeous place...magical, almost, especially given the place I had lived prior. I went from a place that went from ok-acceptable to ghetto in the span of 6 months; in one year we had 40 car break-ins, 10 robberies and 3 attempted rapes in our 150 unit complex. Then I moved northwest, to a gated complex away from any ruffians. Sure, it was a commute to get to campus, but at least I could work in quiet, and I didn't have to worry about much. In fact, the most fearful experience I had was trying to walk to the park-and-ride, which was half a mile. No problem, you say? Well, yeah, but there were no sidewalks, and I had to cross two majorly congested roadways. I decided to drive it instead...felt sheepish and ashamed about it, but figured my safety was a wee bit more important.
The place I'm moving to now is very similar, minus the gate. And I can walk across the parking lots (2 of them) to get to work...easy enough. My biggest worry, I suspect, is students walking over, thinking they can knock on my door and come in for impromptu office hours. Um, no. There will be none of that.
As for now, I have a full weekend with family. The bridal shower for my soon-to-be sister-in-law is Saturday, and then the rest of the weekend with my parents. I'm really looking forward to seeing how incredibly girly this party's gonna get...ok, no I'm not. I'm dreading it. I have a strong suspicion that it'll be all girly games, brainless activities in the name of goofery and supposed fun...and I'll be miserable. But I can put on a brave face for a couple of hours, right?
Well now, this weekend has so far been full of frivolity. Ok, that's getting carried away a bit. But I actually have had a weekend thus far where I could just simply relax. Of course, there was a reason behind it...always is.
Friday night my upstairs neighbor Hank wanted someone to drink with, so I obliged. We each consumed quite a bit of wine...in fact, it led to a very rough night. So yesterday, while I wasn't hungover, I definitely didn't have the normal unbounded energy that is typical of me. Methinks my major drinking days are over...eh, whatever. A night of ill tummy feelings followed by a day of lounging around isn't all that bad, is it?
Yeah, it is...or it could be. Eh, we shall see.
I got recently accused of never going out...at which point I scoffed in that person's general direction. Define going out, I quipped. I mean, I go to the park regularly to watch the birds, gaze upon a idyllic scene, and read a book. Sometimes I go off for a drive to the coast or to the valley, just to get away from everyone here and be around people there. Just yesterday I spent the day out...ok, it was outside, working on my plants, but still. I'm not dark and tanned, but I do have color on my skin...doesn't that prove that I've been going out?
(This mini semantics lesson brought to you by George Carlin...may you rest in peace, wherever you are...and thank you for explaining the airline safety talk so eloquently.) (By the way, if you aren't knowledgeable of the Good Mr. Carlin and his lectures, there are cuss words...may not be safe for public viewing...then again...)
I have now less than 2 weeks left in the old apartment, and I'm feeling very anxious. Yes, I have some wonderful memories here, but at the same time I cannot wait to get out of here into a place that's twice as big, in an area that I love, and right next to work. There is a forecast for 100% chance of change in my life, and I'm liking those odds. Of course, my horoscope for the week isn't quite as rosy:
So does that mean that I'm going to have to get my hands dirty, so to speak, to get things done? How is this different than any other week? Eh, just as long as I don't get harassed by my landlord or anyone else, I'll be fine. Hmmm, maybe the crankiness has already set in. Ok, time to go run away.
In three weeks time, I'll be waking up after my first night in my new apartment. And I mean really new...they're putting the finishing touches on the construction now. The anticipation is nearly killing me, but the next 3 weeks will be full of organization, happiness, and logistics. I've already booked my upstairs neighbor to help me move--he's got a big truck, a fairly large trailer, and does this for one of his side jobs--and given notice to my landlord. Of course, it's been sitting here, and he hasn't bothered to pick it up. But he knows that I'm moving out, knows that the date is set, and even when the date is. He's just never knocked on my door to pick up the notice. Nice.
I'm kinda dreading him, though, too. He's got a band--well, they say they're a band, but I say they're a bunch of garage band kids that are now middle aged--that comes over every Wednesday night to make noise in the music studio in the back. He's mentioned that they want to throw me a party...ugh. I used to have a great excuse, that I had a private group on Wednesday nights so, aw shucks, darn and drat, I don't think it'll work out. Sadly I just had to disband the group for lack of participants, so that excuse is out. Ugh. Now I need another excuse. Eh, knowing me, there will be some...I'm sure I have meet-ups with friends and such. Yeah, that's the ticket.
The big chore for the day is to go to one of the better used book stores and sell off some books, DVDs, and perhaps some CDs. There aren't many, but since they haven't been selling on Amazon Marketplace for me, well, time to get them gone. I don't want to pack them to the new apartment; in fact, this is one of the things I'm very good at, getting rid of clutter on a periodic basis. Let's face it, I've lived in small spaces or I have been moving every year or two my entire adult life, and I've learned the hard way that if you don't give stuff to the Salvation Army and sell stuff off regularly, it just grows and grows and grows. I'm definitely good with clothes--if I haven't worn it in a year, it's gone--and constantly put stuff on Amazon to sell. Hey, if it's just sitting here collecting dust, and I have zero use for it, why not sell it? I'm not saying that I'll recoup my costs, but at least that's a few bucks in my pocket.
Well, it's nearly 8am, time to get moving with my day. Lots to do today...big bucks to be had! hehe
Well, it took 3 weeks, but I finished the Italy album. Every picture I took (which is over 900) has been worked on, identified, named, uploaded and then re-organized and labeled. A lot of work...but the end result is a wonderful collection of memories. I still need to get a few pictures from my parents, which I'll get in a couple of weeks. If you wish to check it out, click here, and use the side bar on the left to go to the various sub-albums. Hope you enjoy them.
Part of what took so long is that I've been a might bit busy. One has to be when one is on the dole...I don't sit idlely easily or nicely, and usually have to be involved in a few projects. Plus some of my friends have wanted to meet up to talk about the trip, and I have obliged willingly and eagerly. It's always good to know who your friends really are.
One such friend made a profound statement: she and I are in the the golden years of our lives, that they won't get better than what they are now. That the 30s and early 40s are the best years, ever.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware that I can work now harder and longer than I will be able to in the future, that I live in a part of the world that people flock to, that my health is good and so is that of my family, and that life is generally good. But if you took a snapshot of my life at this very instant and said it'll be like this for the next few years, and then said that it's the best it's going to ever get, I'd find a nice padded cell for you.
Nope, my life is not bad, but it will always be better in the future. How do I know? Because that's the way it is. I am one of those people who is always trying to improve, always looking forward to something in my life to be better. I don't really like to be complacent, as it tends to lead to boredom. And as I've said, I don't do well with such elements. Besides, there are so many goals yet to accomplish: finding a mate, having a family, being gainfully employed for some entity that I enjoy, watching said family grow and advance in life, traveling even more, enjoying my life for as long as I have it. And I'm only 35...I have at least half of my life left to live, if not more.
Life's going downhill from here? Steer manure. Life's only going up from here
Another local headline, another news item about education, but yet this one strikes me as almost humorous. It has been reported that parents in the East Bay are suing the state. Why, you may ask? Because the state has not addressed the "broken" way that the education system is funded in the state, and these parents (as well as several school districts in the state, who filed a prior lawsuit in May) want to force the Governor and the Legislature to change and amend this.
So our society is so litigious that we now have to sue the state in order to initiate change? Quite comical, really.
As I was growing up, I was instructed by my parents that the three areas of government that must be funded and given priority were: education, infrastructure, and the penal system. We must make sure that everyone is educated through high school (and, in my view, at least a bit beyond), we must make sure that the roads and canals and such all are in best working order, and we must make sure that the baddies are locked up and can't get out. Once those areas are addressed, then you go on to the other items. And I would argue that most people wouldn't mind a rise in taxes for any of those purposes *if* the money was well spent and done in an effective manner. I think that's still true. And while technically there are laws in place protecting the spending (or preventing of major cuts) with regard to education in this state, they are often either ignored--at least, it seems to me to be that way. Meanwhile, the Legislature hasn't passed a budget on-time and in-balance in so long, I don't honestly know when the last time was...I'm not being facitious, I really don't think it's been in my adult life. It's not a pretty site in Sacramento right now, nor anywhere else for that matter. And the people are fed up. Weak leadership plus a Legislature that feels like they can stall all they want (to hell with the people), well, it leads to this.
Somehow I still expect the lawsuits will have no effect, that things will continue. Not that I'm a cynic...well, I am, but that's not the case here. I very much doubt that the Courts will find that they have jurisdiction to tell the Governor and the Legislature to get their heads out of their asses and fix anything. That would be legislating from the bench, something that the Courts are not allowed to do, and dare I say are not usually prone to doing. But will it lead to change regardless...I truly hope so.
What is the latest issue to boil under the skin of educators and universities in this country? This week the focus seems to be on the use of technology in the university. This morning I read in my paper online (of course) that a major research university wishes to fully explore online education. Then I go to my mailbox and in the alumni association's magazine there is an article on e-textbooks.
I originally started writing this blog entry, and got really, really, really detailed in the argumentation. Let's face it, both issues are at the core not just of my job, but at who I am as a person. I have benefited from both 'traditional' and online elements of both issues. There is no question that face-to-face education is almost a requirement in foreign language education
Well, one massive undertaking has been finished. I just went through all of the pictures I took in Rome. 3 days (well, 2 1/2 really), and over 500 pictures. Yikes. Ya think I was camera happy?
In all honesty, I did a lot in those 3 days. And, yes, I do wish I had more time to truly explore the museums, the hidden gems and the real essence of the Eternal City, I know that I made the most of my time there. (And, yes, I'm jealous of my parents, who tomorrow return home after a full week in Rome. Hah!) And I think part of what was behind the taking of so many pictures was that I was amazed, awe struck, and floored by what I saw. As I wrote earlier, Rome holds a very soft spot in my heart. Actually, Rome isn't just a place for me; it's an archive of learning, pondering, and wonderment. My father instilled a love of history in me, and this love has been nurtured for my entire 35 years. While he enjoys more of the Renaissance historical aspect of Italy, for me it's the entire palate--if you don't understand and enjoy the ancient cultures and peoples, then you cannot hope to understand the importance and significance of both the Medieval and Renaissance histories of Italy, and by extension all of Europe.
There is no question that walking through the Palantine and the Forum were breathtaking...literally. I caught myself sucking in air a couple of times, usually as I walked upon some place or a monument that I had only seen in books and on film...but here it was, right in front of me. There's a picture of me sitting on a brick element in Septimus Severus' baths--maybe it was originally a bench, but my gut tells me it was a wall--where I'm seen writing in my journal. I wanted that picture taken on purpose...yes I was writing in my journal, and I sat there for a good 10 minutes, trying to soak in what I could. I was sitting in an ancient palace, overlooking the Circus Maximus, on a glorious June morning, trying to get a sense of what life would have been like right there. What would one hear? What could one smell? Where would this corridor really take me? It was difficult, and yet it wasn't.
Here's the link to the pictures; it's on PhotoBucket, which should be easy for everyone to see. Some of the pictures are pretty good--comments from my dad, not me--and others are more mundane. I wanted to capture what I could, so that I could remember what caught my eye. Sometimes it was just the brickwork on a building, or the cobblestones forming the street, which explains some of the pictures. Anyway, check them out at your leisure:
Click here--Note that the sub-folders are on the left sidebar: Santa Maria Maggiore, Pantheon, Palantine Forum and Capitoline, and Vatican.
Next up is the Tuscany pictures, which will take a considerable amount of time to do, as there are quite a bit more of those. I somewhat want to wait to get my tourbook back from my parents, since there were notes in there that I took to help me with the pictures. On the other hand, I can get started now I suppose. Or tomorrow. Whichever works.
Well, a week (almost) being home, and I'm about halfway done with the pictures. This is taking a while...mostly because I have things to do this week and don't have as much time as I thought to go through them. But it's getting done, bit by bit.
World Cup has been incredibly interesting to me, now that I can finally watch it. I think the winner of Germany/Argentina has the tournament, but that's just my 2 cents. I can't wait to see that match! Should be amazing, if nothing else than to see Diego Maradona on the sidelines. I still can't get used to seeing him in a suit.
So now that I'm home, what have I taken away from the trip? What has changed, and what is still the same? Well, for one, I can't wait to get out of this apartment and into the new one; definitely my allergies (as well as my cat's) are reactivated, and the daily minutiae that goes on here are getting on my nerves. I'm so ready to move onto the next phase of my life, and yet there has been a minor setback, a month delay. Ugh. I was so ready to start packing and moving, but patience, grasshopper.
But despite that, there was so much good that came from the trip, and while I needed to get back home for economic reasons, I really could have stayed in Italy for a long, long time. It's the only place that I've been to outside of the Bay Area where I felt at home, amongst people who felt familiar to me. And not only with the cousins I met, but also with the locals that I met, the people that were at the piazze and other places. Very helpful, friendly, and accepting. Or to my eye, at least. In some ways it was like Spain, with the Mediterranean culture, but so very different in vibe. Spain can be cold if you don't seem like you can fit in; Italy didn't give off that feeling at all. Let's put it this way: with my dad's dark complexion and dark eyes, he wouldn't be readily accepted in Spain, but in Italy he was just fine. Weird how long-embedded feelings just don't seem to go away.
Hopefully soon I'll have the Rome pictures finished, and then I'll post the link. Pictures to capture a lifetime of emotions. More to come
Heh here I am, at the airport in Rome. It's 10pm local. I couldn't get a hotel room near the aiport for the night, and since my flight out is bright and early, I'll just sleep here. Oh, I've done it before, with more luggage than what I have now. And while I had talked people into thinking that I was very comfortable with this, the truth is that I'm only relatively comfortable with this. In some way, I hope that a repeat of 2003 doesn't happen.
**flashing back to 31 July 2003**
I had taken the train from Alicante to Madrid the night before my flight--same situation as now--and camped out in the Madrid airport near the Delta international desk. This woman was sitting next to me, and we started what I then thought would be a short conversation. She said she was from a very small town outside of Grenada, on the coast, and was on a trip to the US. How nice, you say. But there's more, of course. This woman had never been to Seville, let alone Madrid...and she's on her way, alone, to Los Angeles. Um. Yeah. Turns out her husband of 22 years gave her a trip to LA for her 40th birthday, so that she could visit a gentleman friend she made online...who lives in the San Fernando Valley and worked as an actor. Alone.
(For those of who you do not know the area, when someone (especially under the age of 25) says they live in the San Fernando Valley and is an actor, you can pretty much bet that they are in the type of films that require very little clothing and a whole lot of lubrication.)
At any rate, this woman kept me up *all night long* talking about herself, her life, her trip, etc. I did impart wisdom on her--mostly about how while there are Spanish-speakers in the area, don't count on everyone speaking the language, and other important information that one should have when visiting SoCal. But by the time I finally got on the plane the next morning, I was so exhausted that I passed out in my chair, despite sitting in the middle seat of the row. I don't remember much from that flight home.
**returning to the present**
Anyway, hopefully I'll be writing next from my apartment. It's a long day tomorrow: 1 hour flight from Rome to Zurich, 2 hour layover, then a 10 hour flight from Zurich to San Francisco, followed by a 2 hour public transit ride home. But I will be home. And with so very many stories to tell and pictures to show.
Ci vediamo pronto!
Yes, it's time to say...seeyas later. Yes, of course, I'm flying out here on the 24th, but I won't be back for sightseeing purposes for a while. The extremely small taste of this Eternal City has forever changed me...I'm in awe of the mix of modern, slightly modern, kinda old, really old, and ancient.
Yesterday's giratina saw me start at the Pantheon. When outside, I marvelled at how it has stood up over time, especially compared to the Area Sacra--where my bus dropped me off. The Area Sacra, incidently, didn't feel very sacra...no tingle of amazement, no feeling that this was somehow an important place. But the Pantheon...well, that was impressive. Then I went inside...and it's been taken over by the Church, complete with frescoes and the burrials of two Italian kings and Rafaele himself. It's impressive, despite it's lack of Roman artifacts inside. The walls are definintively ancient, and you can sense that.
Then onto the Vatican. I really only had time to enter St. Peter's and climb to the cuppola. Holy sh*t. I mean that in every way possible. The climb to the top is kinda harsh...the elevator only takes you half way up, and the rest of the way you have a very closed in, very windy staircase. But when you get to the top, you can see half of Rome...a-fricking-mazing. The way down...let's admit it, I have a fear of going down stairs, particularly windy, steep and small stairs. So, slowly, and with much praying and breathing reminders, I made it down, and into...St. Peter's. What an entry! I was truly in awe...yes, yes, it's the seat of not just a major religion, but the one I technically belong to, but this cynic couldn't help but be in awe. If you only have time for one, go to the Church. This is what I was told, and I gladly pass that advice along.
Today, it's so-long to Rome, and onto Tuscany. No idea when I'll have a chance to log in again, but I'll find a way. Ciao!
Well, I'm here, it's really day 2 for me in the Eternal City. Yesterday was spent at the heart of Ancient Rome, so to speak: the Palantine Hill ruins, including the Forum and Trajan's Market, the Capolitine, and all that I could get. I took almost 200 pictures yesterday...not bad. I'm definitely doing this on the cheap, so sadly no museums...I have to save most of my money for Tuscany, which starts tomorrow.
Today I'm off to the Vatican and the Pantheon...must really get my religious aspect in
I will write more later, when I'm not on a time limit, but I really wanted to mention here...I'm in awe. I was writing in my journal whilst sitting in the area of the Palantine of Severus' baths, and couldn't get over the fact that I was finally seeing what I had been literally studying all my life. I can't wait for my dad to get here--my parents are here after their time in Tuscany--so that later he and I can swap thoughts on the magic that is Rome.
Ok, just a quickie...like I said, I'll write more probably when I get back to the States. I should be able to check in either tomorrow or the day after. Ci vediamo, tutti!
12 hours from now. 12 hours from right now, the plane'll be taxing the runway at San Francisco International Airport, on its way to Zurich. Then a 90 minute layover, and onto Roma.
Holy crap. I'm finally going 'home'.
Ok, let's be clear...I've never been to Italy. Not only is this my first trip there, my mother's family hasn't been back there since we left 100 years ago--with the sole exception of my great-uncle and his wife going back in the mid-80s. My parents are there for a month, and I'll be there for 2 weeks. I am completely and totally geeked.
I told myself yesterday that there was no need to be nervous. I even blogged it here. And yet...after writing that, my stomach's been in a bit of a twist, and I've been a bit jumpier compared to usual. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday (all's well, thanks), but they noted that my usual and steady 120/70 had jumped to 140/93...I know it's the trip and this combination of anxiety, excitement, and thrills. Actually, my neighbor said I was restrained...not in the positive way, but the 'I have to hold back, or else I'll explode with a ball of energy' kind of way.
The cable has been out since Friday--the landlord forgot to pay the bill, and for whatever reason it's still out--so I've been listening to a lot of music and watching DVDs at night. Lots of calming music...Brazilian samba for the most part, but I did end up switching to a little Afro-Cuban in the afternoon. Last night's movie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) ended a bit late, but I figured that would be a good thing. Stay up a bit later, maybe get more tired, and then I'll for sure sleep well.
Nope...I was still tossing and turning all night, a bundle of nerves just ready to go run across the Atlantic Ocean for the motherland. I was up by 6am (instead of the planned 7am), and I've been slow-moving. Purposely, by the way. I've got an extremely long day today. 14 hours of flying, 9 hours time change, and, well, I lose 24 hours total. Ma vado a Italia!!!!
So, with luck, I'll be blogging from Italy over the next couple of weeks. Tons of pictures; I plan on hitting the Forum (the one in ruins, not just the one online) on Friday or Saturday, and will take pictures from Tuscany, as well. Hopefully we get to go to Lombardy and find some cousins...we shall see. Either way, Lady Fortuna hopefully will be by my side, the gods will be favoring me. Mercury, please bestow luck on me during my travels. And dear Juno, I have no quarrel with you, so please don't treat me like you did Aeneas and his crew.