A Year of Movies

One year ago, December 2013, my mom and I went to see “Saving Mr. Banks” the story of Mary Poppins. It was terrific. We were both off of work and were talking about how much we love going to movies together. Then we came up with a plan. What if we go to a movie together every single month of the year. I loved this idea. And so we began.

January: “American Hustle” This was probably the worst movie we saw. It was a big deal when it came out and it was terrible. We both wanted to leave before it was over.

February: “Monuments Men” This was in honor of her birthday, she picked the movie. I wasn’t that in to it, but it wasn’t too bad. She really liked it.

March: “Divergent” I got to pick in honor of my birthday. I had read this book series and really liked it. Mom had never read it, but she enjoyed the movie as well. I thought it was great, a strong retelling of a great book.

April: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” No doubt in my mind we were seeing this. I’d been looking forward to this movie for two years. (For the record I’m already looking forward to the next installment, due out in April of 2016) Of the Marvel movies, Captain America is my favorite character and my favorite movies. This did not disappoint. It was phenomenal. Best movie of the year, IMO. But mom also wanted to see “Draft Day” and I did, too, so we broke the rules and doubled up in April. Draft Day was pretty good, but it’s hard to go wrong with Kevin Costner, especially in a sports movie.

May: “Maleficent” We both wanted to see this and were glad we did. Much better than anticipated. Arionna’s pick for best movie of the year.

June: “The Fault in Our Stars” Another movie we both wanted to see because the movie looked good. I’d been avoiding the book for a while, but decreed we both had to read it before we went. We both did and we both liked the book. In a rare surprise, I thought the movie was better. Terrific movie.

July: “Jersey Boys” I had zero interest in seeing this, but with no better options, I agreed to go, since Mom really wanted to see it. We brought my sister as she seemed excited to see it. It was better than I expected. Quite enjoyable, really.

Then August hit and we were preparing for family vacation. We didn’t get to a movie. We talked about sneaking out on vacation to see something in Brainerd…but then Mom got sick and that pretty much took care of that. Our year ended in July, which was disappointing, because we were both enjoying it so much. It’s nice to do with someone else, because then you see movies you might not have, otherwise. We have decided, even though she is having her next surgery in February, we are going to do this again this year. Well, attempt it again, I suppose. We’ll just have to get our February movie in before the 17th, and hope she’s feeling well enough to go before the end of March.

I’ll be back next December to report how we did, let’s hope we did better than 9 movies in 7 months. Here’s to another year of movies!

A Christmas Eve Tale

In the wee dawning hours of Christmas Eve (really, it was 1 am) I was leaving Kelly’s house after a lovely evening celebrating the holiday with her and her sweet family. I was just starting my drive and wanted to hear some Christmas music, being as it was finally Christmas Eve. I put on KOOL 108 (the local oldies station that plays holiday music from Thanksgiving to Xmas) and it was on commercial. None of the other local stations play Christmas music until about 6pm on Christmas Eve. Now, there’s always my iPod, but I was having trouble finding it in the bottom of my bag. (Turns out, it was in my coat pocket the whole time, which is why I couldn’t find it in my bag, derf.)

So, with no other options, I began scanning channels to see what I could find. I could not have been less in the mood to listen to pop music or country or anything. I wanted Christmas songs. With one final preset station left, I was feeling hopeless. No way was KQRS (the local classic rock station) going to be giving me what I need. Or so I thought.

I depressed the button and there was silence for a brief moment. Then, the opening piano chords. A Christmas song? No, not even close. Turns out, something much better. Somehow, in that moment, I was hearing the opening strains to my favorite song of all time. I couldn’t believe it. It is incredibly rare to hear that song on the radio. I mean, other than IN 1992, I can’t imagine I’ve ever heard it on the radio. And suddenly, here it is. We’ll leave the fact that a song from 1992 is now suddenly considered classic rock for another day, but it was my song. And it was exactly from the beginning. I got to hear every single note. I was driving home in the wee hours of Christmas Eve, belting out the lyrics, singing along with Axl Rose and thinking to myself that this was a Christmas present to me. From the universe, I guess. They played the full version, so it lasted the full 8 minutes and 57 seconds. Nearly nine minutes. That is half the time it takes me to drive home, and since I’d already been in the car for several minutes searching for a song, it drove me nearly to my front door.

When the final notes faded out and I was turning onto my street, I had a goofy smile on my face and I just felt so good. It is amazing how a song can do that, can make you feel so strongly. I rarely listen to KQRS, but this night, taking a chance became a wonderful story and a moment to remember. November Rain on Christmas Eve. Thanks, Universe, that was a magical Christmas gift.

About A Dog

I seem to have a lot of stories about dogs, (see here and here and here) considering the fact that I don’t have any pets. Not anymore. I used to have a bird, but that was a long time ago. Her name was Sloopy, but she is a story for another time.

Last night I was driving home. As I turned onto my street, there was a pickup truck pulled over on the side of the road, with his flashers on. It was strange. I have never seen anyone stopped on my street, it’s just not that kind of street, poor visibility, et cetera. I swung wide to pass him and turn into my upper street, and I glanced over as I passed, just to make sure no help was needed. Well, there was a guy, out of the truck, crouching down to pet a dog. Lily. Her I know. She belongs to George, who lives a few houses down from me, and she is the world’s friendliest Yellow Lab. I didn’t see George, but it was dark out and I wasn’t really looking.

I pulled in to my garage, got out, grabbed the packages outside and carried them in the house. I then went back out and walked to the mailbox. As I was grabbing my mail, I heard George yelling for Lily. Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach and I headed in George’s direction. I called out to him to ask if Lily was missing. Sure enough, he couldn’t find her. They came out to do something and she took off chasing something. He called for her but she didn’t come back. He then went inside to put on his warm coat and grab her leash to hunt for her.

In the minute or so that he was inside I came in and saw the truck and Lily. I kid you not, from the time I saw the truck to my conversation with George, was under two minutes. In that time, someone actually picked up his dog. I explained what I saw but I didn’t have much detail. Pickup truck. Dark color. Where he pulled over and that it was a guy and definitely Lily. That’s it. But I may have seen this dog get kidnapped.

It happened to me once, long ago. I had a dog in college. Thunder. A beautiful Husky mix, pure white with blue eyes. Someone stole him right from my parents yard. I know that feeling. It makes you sick. George was visibly upset. I didn’t know what to say, certainly there was nothing I could do. I asked if she had tags and she does. She is also microchipped, which is good. But as George said, if he wanted her, he could just keep her and no one would ever know.

I fell back on all I could offer him. I said “George, it’s the holiday season and it is raining and about to turn cold tonight, perhaps we are dealing with a Good Samaritan who saw a loose dog and picked her up to keep her safe. Maybe he will get home, read her tag, and call”. There was nothing else to say or do. I apologized for not being able to do more and headed for home.

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number, but it was local and I just had a feeling. I picked up and it was George. He was calling to tell me I was right. That guy saw Lily running in the road. He pulled over and she was friendly so he picked her up and drove home. At home, he checked her tag and called George. Then he drove her home, safe and sound. He really was trying to be a Good Samaritan even though he kind of made it worse as he picked Lily up right in front of her own house. But, she is safe in her happy home.

George just wanted me to know and thank me for letting him know what I saw. I was glad to know that she was safe and that there are still kind strangers out there in the world. It’s a good reminder any time, but I love it even more this time of year.

And, yes, Mom, this is cranky George from the pool. He must have mellowed since retiring from pool duty. And he seems to love me. He talked my ear off for ten minutes during that call! He also told me he loves my bells-Christmas decor for those who haven’t been to my house this time of year. They are motion activated and musical. He said he heard them one night and wandered around to find the source and loves them so much he makes a point to walk by and set them off each evening on his walk with Lily.

Who knew? There is my holiday tale of Good Samaritanism and Christmas bells. All starring Lily the lab.

The Door – Part III

(If you haven’t read Part I and Part II, you should do so first, so this makes sense.)

As Malcolm held open the door, Olivia once again stepped inside the house. It delivered the same sense as when she walked through a few moments earlier. Wrong. It was her house, the bones of it were familiar, but everything else was wrong. The colors, the sounds, the scents, it was as though someone had overlaid a different house over her brain’s knowledge. Everything felt familiar and strange, all at once.

The step forward brought her foot down on the paper bag. The mess. She glanced down and then flushed with something, shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, it was hard to tell. Her emotions were all jumbled from the bizarre circumstances, but her inherent manners wouldn’t allow her to let it pass.

“I’m sorry-” she began, still looking at the mess, rather than at his face.

Before she could formulate the words to complete the apology, and offer to clean up, he cut in.

“Don’t be. Something is happening, I can’t explain. If you feel as odd about this as I do, well, let’s just agree to call it strange. The mess is the least of our concerns at the moment.” His forehead wrinkled as though he was trying hard to determine something. For just a moment, Olivia felt a tug of familiarity, again, as though she’d seen that expression on him before. The urge was there, slight though it was, to comfort or assist him in some way. It bothered her, more than the overt strangeness of her surroundings, these people, the supposed time jump. It bothered her that inside, in the place where she trusted herself most, she felt as though she knew him. There was no doubt in her mind she’d never met him before, but somehow, she knew him.

Silently, they stepped over the mess on the floor and turned toward the stairs. Olivia took a deep breath. She wanted to see what else was different about her home, the home she worked so hard to create and build, by herself, but she was also apprehensive. These next moments seemed staggeringly frightening, for what amounted to a walk up a flight of stairs. Squaring her shoulders, she took the next step.

She could feel him at her back, his presence, his size. It no longer intimidated her; realizing that, she wondered at what point she stopped being afraid of him. The situation was deeply unsettling, and strange did not begin to encompass what was happening here, but at that moment, she wasn’t afraid. It was hard to be afraid when you were, by any reasonable standards, in your own home.

Accompanied by the chatter of small children, Olivia made her way up the stairs. Ascending to the top, she paused, trying hard to take it all in. The walls were the color of sand, decorated with large framed photos of people. She caught sight of the little boy, Oliver, in several and presumed that they were family portraits gracing the walls. The arrangement came across as haphazard, but a keen eye showed they were gracefully and systematically placed to look that jumbled. The sofa was a sectional in navy blue, large and overstuffed. A flat screen tv was hung over the mantel, tuned to the evening news. There were toys on the floor and a large toy bin in the corner. A stack of books was slightly off-kilter on the corner of the coffee table, next to an oversized red mug that demanded Cheers!.

It was clearly a well-used, and much-loved home. A family home. Seeing it, taking it all in, gave Olivia a pang of nostalgia. This was how it was meant to look. Overrun with the detritus of daily life, and ready to be used, to be lived in, to embrace the users in the sights and scents of home. Breathing slowly through her nose, fighting to maintain her outward display of calm, Olivia tipped back her head. She caught sight of the crack on the vaulted ceiling. It was larger than ever before, but in the exact same spot she knew. To the left, she searched for the missing chunk of sheetrock, an accident born of moving furniture by ones self, but it was gone, probably patched before someone painted over her beloved purple stripes.

Malcolm gently cleared his throat and Olivia became aware of how long she’d been standing still at the top of the stairs, just taking it all in. Stuttering back into motion, she moved forward into the living area, refusing to glance into the kitchen where the sounds and smells indicated the woman was making dinner, as she’d said. In that moment, the changes were just too much. Seeing more might have tipped the scales from unafraid to—well, Olivia was very much afraid that ‘heap on the floor’ might be her next destination.

Unsure of what should be happening, she reached the center of the room and did a one eighty, ending up face-to-face with Malcolm.

Neither spoke.

For a long moment, they just stood there, staring at one another. She took in his height, his dark hair, oddly similar in color and texture to her own, and his overly familiar green eyes. He was handsome, this stranger, with a kindness to his face that she would bet induced strangers to strike up a conversation with him. He looked…friendly. He did not, in fact, look like a lunatic. *mental snort* As if they had a specific look. In her experience, lunatics tended to look like everyone else, that was what made them so dangerous, but they did not look like this man.

Malcolm was staring at this woman in his home. He couldn’t understand what was happening, but there wasn’t a single doubt in his mind he was talking to his long dead mother. Her always slightly-disheveled hair, was worn down, long and curly, as he remembered it. Her eyes had the same slight crinkles at the corners that gave her the appearance that she was always on the verge of laughter. In his memory, she always was on the verge of laughter, so it was fitting. As he watched her, silently, he noted her fingers worrying the hem of her sweater and his heart skipped at the familiar motion. His mom was always playing with something, as though her fingers were incapable of stillness. He remembered in a flash of montages in his mind, her tapping, picking, petting, plucking in any given situation.

This was his mom. His mom.

He cleared his throat again and decided that no matter how strange, this was his home and his family and it was up to him to speak.

“Olivia, would you like to sit down?” he managed, proud of himself for broadcasting normalcy.

She shook her head, still saying nothing, just looking at him.

A deep breath, and he spoke again, “look, I know this situation is…difficult, but I think we need to have a conversation, to maybe try and figure out what is happening here.” Mac paused. “So, um, won’t you please have a seat?”

Olivia stared at him. It was exceedingly uncomfortable to be offered a seat in your own home, compounded further by the fact that this was not her furniture and she didn’t really know where to sit. Rooms have a hierarchy, a geography, to them. Certain people will sit in certain places, the couch is more casual, do you take the armchair or the recliner? There are unwritten rules to someone else’s home, and since she was standing in her own living room, the rules were about as clear as mud. She didn’t know what to do, but he was right. She couldn’t just continue standing there, in the center of the room. She canted her head to the left, seeking the nearest chair when her eyes caught the next door.

It was the french doors leading to the four-season porch.

The left door was slightly ajar and from her angle, Olivia could just barely see inside. Something, something caught her eye. Without a word, without a glance, she moved toward that just-opened door and reached for the handle.

“Where are you going?” She was dimly aware of Malcolm calling after her as she moved toward that door, but she could not stop. Her eyes had alit upon something of hers. A piece of her life. Something that proved that this was, in fact, her home, no matter the situation. Her fingers closed around the handle and she started to open that door.

The doorbell rang.

Olivia jumped and whirled around, forgetting for a moment, what lay beyond that door.

Downstairs, outside, someone was standing at her door. Her eyes collided with Malcolm’s and frustration was stamped on his features. Once again, she felt that pang that she should comfort him in some way, and once again, it unsettled her.

A heartbeat of time as they stared at each other, then Malcolm broke first.

“I’ll get the door” he said as he started to turn.

She wanted to protest, to run to the door and answer it, to see one of her neighbors or a friend or even a salesperson who was looking for her. Anything to prove it was her house…

and then she remembered. Just on the other side of the door behind her lay that very proof.

And in that moment, Olivia and Malcolm walked in opposite directions, both headed for a new door.

***To Be Continued…***

 

(And that, my fine friends, is the end of the third installment. I never intended this to be an ongoing story, but it has turned out to be more fun than I anticipated. But mostly, I keep writing it, every November, because Kelly really likes it and it is a wonderful way to give her an annual gift. I have to take a moment and wonder how old she’ll be when I finally finish this story….)

Happy Birthday, Kelly! Hope you liked this year’s chapter.

The Chase

I don’t think at this point it is a surprise to anyone that I love Christian Kane. I think it’s been covered quite handily on this blog-seriously, search his name, it’s almost embarrassing, except I love him, so it’s not.

Therefore, imagine my utter happiness to receive this brand new photo of him, as a text messaging gift via my mother at 6:48pm last night.

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I know what you’re thinking. My God, he’s hot. Oh, wait, that’s what *I* was thinking. YOU were probably thinking, “why do I care what time her mom text her?”

Well, because, as it turns out, and I am assuming a bit here, my mom was on Facebook a few minutes prior, saw that photo, thought of me, and text me the photo to brighten my Tuesday night. It did, by the way.

Here’s the cool thing. At that exact same time, way across town, Kelly was getting a pedicure. She was playing online and saw a brand new photo of Christian Kane and, naturally, thought of me. She text me that photo.

Which is how, literally, within seconds of each other, they both text me a photo of Christian Kane. Here is THE VERY BEST PART.

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They aren’t the same photo!!!!!!!!

True story. At 6:48 pm last night I received two text messages. Both contained photos of Christian Kane, but they weren’t the same photo. They are obviously from the same photo shoot (I assume a promo for his new show, The Librarians,) but two different, equally awesome pics of my main man, Christian Kane.

How is this possible? I have no idea. I couldn’t believe it when they came in during the same minute. It makes it easy to love technology when things like that happen. Oh, and for the record, I do NOT hate text messaging when it contains photos of Christian Kane. Those are always welcome. Day or night. Even the same minute.

And that is the story of how my mother and Kelly were racing to be the first to send me a picture of my favorite singer….and tied. And I won. Thanks to you both! I lovelovelove them.

P.S. And while it was a fun little coincidence, this is mostly just an excuse to post pictures of Christian Kane and endlessly type Christian Kane. Remember in junior high when you had a crush on a boy and you’d write his name all over your notebook? This is kind of like that, only in the modern technology world. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. See?

P.P.S Also, the title of this post, The Chase, is also a song title by, you guessed it…Christian Kane.

The Book Slump

I probably would never have though of calling it this, even though it is a phenomenon I know well. If you’re any kind of regular reader, you’ve lived through this.

You all know me, I love to read. LOVE to read. I read more than pretty much anyone you know (I’m assuming a bit there) but there are simply times when I do not read. There are many reasons for it, life, busy, movie, television, no good books, tired, you name it. However, sometimes there is no reason at all. For no fathomable reason, I will just stop reading and have no desire to do so. It’s that last part that scares me some. I LOVE reading.

With everything happening with my mom, August/September, typically prime reading months for me, have been remarkably low. The thing is, I’ve carved out time, but I haven’t wanted to read. It was just one more thing and I was not remotely in the mood.

Then, about a week ago, I was looking for something online and read an article called, “The Reasons I Don’t Read: Causes of the Dreaded Book Slump” and I was blown away. Before I got to the end of the article I started to wonder if I’d been sleep posting again, because I thought I actually wrote this. It was like this author reached inside my head and wrote down what I’d been thinking without ever realizing I’d been thinking about it. (Seriously, read the article, it’s not long, and it sounds like I wrote it. But I didn’t. Turns out, a GUY wrote it. Go figure that one.)

My favorite line, very apropos for life lately, is this, “Life, on the whole, is infinitely preferable to the alternative…but despite that, I swear life spends fully half its time wearing big boots, trying to kick you squarely in the side of the head.” Amen.

I have lived, felt and dealt with every single one of these at various times. Sometimes all in the same month. Reading isn’t a science. It’s an art. And with most art, it is creative and beautiful and vexing and tempermental and refreshing and unique; and sometimes I don’t understand it at all. That’s how reading is to me. To readers. I love it wholly, but I don’t always like it and I don’t always understand it, and sometimes I want no part of it. But most of the time, I just want to immerse myself in it and never surface again.

That’s how I am as a reader. And I am a reader. There’s no doubt about that.

I’ve even got the photographic evidence to prove it.

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Yes, I am a reader, but I don’t always want to read, and that surprises people, including me. But there can be just as many reasons to start again as there are to stop. For instance, in the 90s and early 2000s, I was an historical romance reader. I basically read every historical romance written during this period. After a while, I grew bored with the genre. For the past…..10 years?….I haven’t read hardly any books in that genre. On occasion, an author I adore (I’m looking at you Julia Quinn) will publish a book and I will read it even if it is historical romance. But I haven’t actively sought out books in this genre in a decade or more. Then, last weekend, I watched the movie Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, from 1996. I saw this movie in the theater with Elena, when we were in high school. We loved it because it was like the books we loved come to life. And last weekend, after I watched it, I was suddenly in the mood to read historical romance again.

Out of the blue. After more than a decade.

So I did. I’ve actually read several of them over the past week, remembered why I liked them, and why I stopped reading them all at once. But it broke my slump. Watching a movie broke my reading slump…there may be some irony creeping in there.

And why am I telling you this? Because sometimes I have these thoughts and I don’t know what to do with them. So I blog. You may not care, but I promise you, a year or more from now, I’ll want to remember I felt this way, I’ll want to reread that article, I’ll find this fascinating. I will find myself agreeing, all over again, with what I’ve written here.

Book slumps happen, even to the best of us. It may be it’s just part of the process, part of what I go through, as a reader. A lover of books and stories and words and language.

Inconceivable!

Not the quote from the Princess Bride, but just the mind blowingly large numbers I stumbled across today. I’m not sure how this happened, I was reading one thing, clicked a link, followed a trail, meandered down a path and before you know it, I’m reading some strange stuff from who knows where? 

Anyway, it led me to the study of large numbers. A quadrillion. Something I read made me think, “will there be a quadrillionaire in my lifetime?” And so the Google search began. 

The thing is, it’s hard to understand these numbers. We all know millionaire. A thousand thousands. So, 1,000 piles of 1,000 dollars. That’s 1 million. A billion is a thousand millions. So take the pile you conjured in the first example and create a thousand of those piles….that’s one billion dollars. It’s a staggering amount of money. 

The thing is, a TRILLION dollars? That is then 1,000 billions. 

1,000,000,000,000

That is one trillion. 1 with 12 zeros. But an article I read from The Independent explains it by saying that if you spent a million dollars every single day, it would take you 2,739 years to spend your trillion dollars. Obviously you won’t live that long. So, if you are born with exactly 1 trillion dollars, and you live exactly 80 years, by my calculations, you would need to spend 34,246,575 million dollars each day to spend it all. I really don’t think that’s even possible. I mean, are there enough things? Enough land? Enough houses? How could a person spend over 34 million dollars every single day for eighty years. I don’t think they could. So it is probably impossible, certainly inconceivable, for a person to have that much money. 

Here’s another one. If you had exactly 1 trillion dollars, you could give $140 to every person on the planet, this, again, according to the article above. When I saw that I was fairly underwhelmed. I mean, sure, there are more than 7 billion people on the planet, but still, to give out a measly $140 bucks? Yeah, okay, it’s a nice gesture to give money to everyone, and for third worlders, this could literally be life changing. But, my mind went elsewhere. I assumed, correctly, that it did not divide evenly. Assuming a population of 7,254,897,321 (which is what it was on the World Population Clock at 3:21 pm when I looked it up and if you’ve never seen the WPC, click that link. It’s cool.) that means to give out money to everyone, you can equally give $137.80 to each person. (Population has gone up since the article, which was based on 2012 figures).  Even that doesn’t divide evenly, coming out to 137.83792599, which I rounded to $137.80. Because when you’re giving out a trillion, you don’t want to be the one counting pennies. Here’s the amazing thing. 

Those trailing numbers? They are less than a few cents per person. Negligible. Almost non-existent. Yet, when doing the math, If you gave 137.80 to each person on earth, out of your 1 trillion dollars, you would be left with….

$275,149,166

That’s right. If you gave out 137.80 to every person on earth, you’d still be LEFT WITH over 275 million dollars. 

Mind blown. 

For additional fun facts, remember how I was originally searching a quadrillion? Well, a quadrillion is 1,000 trillions. We’ve amply covered how much money a trillion is…this is one thousand times that amount. So, if you spent your million dollars a day? It would take you 3 million years to spend a quadrillion. 

I found an article from Wired magazine that predicted that Bill Gates would be the world’s first trillionaire and the world’s first quadrillionaire, and says both would happen in my lifetime. The article was written in 1999 and said that Gates would hit trillionaire in March of 2005. And would then become a quadrillionaire by 2020 (assuming the same rate of return). Well, the first date has passed and BG is not yet a trillionaire. So the second, six years from now, is looking like a long shot. There were other scenarios, if Microsoft went in other financial directions, that led to different dates, many of which have not yet come to pass. Honestly, I don’t think it’s likely to happen in my lifetime. BG is estimated to be worth about $80 Billion. Unfortunately, that’s still 920 Billion short of the trillionaire mark. Yes, I know money grows exponentially, but still – seems to me that we’re a long way off from seeing someone calling themselves a trillionaire. 

I’m just still agog over the numbers themselves. It is nearly inconceivable that one person should have that much money. And I may have scoffed, but I wouldn’t turn down my $137.80. Just sayin’