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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When Plans Change


Our family was planning on joining a big family gathering until our four year old began exploding out two ends of her body.  All kinds of nasty. 

After contacting her preschool to let them know she will be out for the next class I was informed this particular illness is likely to last 6 days!  Joy.

Canceled plans to expose relatives to this illness proving parents have unconditional love for their children.  When you can lovingly reassure another human being while they are in the process of pooping all over your leg and puking toward your agape mouth (agape in shock and horror but you're trying your best to sound okay about it) you truly love that little person.

We were hoping to get a chance to watch the movie "Catching Fire" the second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy with family.  We now devised a method to watch individually so as not to expose any babysitters to the plague affecting our children off and on. 

My husband had to watch the first night, because we both know if I watch it first I will tell him what happens.  Even though we've both read the books we don't want to movie changes to be spoiled. 

He came home eager to discuss what we could and couldn't remember from the books.  It's been over a year since we read them- maybe two years?  Somehow he managed to not give anything away.  I don't have that talent of being exited about something and not spilling the beans.  Watch out kids I can only hold my tongue so long about who Santa really is- ME!!!  And dad too, I guess.

Day two- I hit the matinee, yes I'm frugal.  I specify frugal because 'cheap' sounds cheap.
It's weird to walk into a theater and pay for a single ticket- then walk into a semi-packed theater and still try to scope out the best seat all by yourself. 
Perk- no one wants to sit by the weird-o-loner so you might get two seats all to yourself!

I am a jumper.  It doesn't even have to be an action packed thriller.  I have jumped in romances and comedies.  Luckily I was sitting fairly apart from anyone who have noticed the scenes that made me jump- before and after the 'scary' or 'intense' scenes. 

For some reason I tend to laugh out loud in theaters in places where no one else is laughing.  Either my sense of humor is the 'unintended' kind or these fellow viewers are really misusing out on the full depth of humorous possibility. 

The show wraps up and just like the book I think, "well that's a lame place to end it.". And all I can think about is how many takes they made Jenifer Lawrence make faces at the camera for the closing shot.  It would be awkward to have to thrash your eyeballs around and slowly pretend to draw them into some kind of determined anger and purpose that she supposedly didn't have until that point.  I would have thought she would have wised up and gotten focused the second she was back on the train. 

I take my sweet time mulling over how many takes the closing scene required.  My guess is after two she would have really wanted to get it right and be done with the oddity of the camera so close to her nose. 

Also I like to watch the credits- all of the credits.  Not just to see if there is a sneaky little scene tagged onto the end of the credits to excite you and last a year and a half until the next movie comes out.

My favorite thing is identify as many odd, humorous, or just plain awesome names I can see as they race up the screen.  It's like trying to read the opening of the original and best Star Wars episodes IV-VI.  I mentally tagged Joost for a first name and In Uh Hui, which sounds like a sound you might make while getting punched in the gut so it got most awesome.

People kept walking past me as I sat.  I took the walking aisle to sit in because, why not?  Stretching out my legs a little during the movie sounded great.  I admit hanging around to watch credits while passers by tried not to make eye contact with the lone-mom was a bit uncomfortable. 

But, I LOVE the credits.  I could watch a full movie worth of awesomely monikered talents who do bland behind the scenes crap and hopefully get paid well.  Seriously, if you're ever job hunting in LA or other movie production towns take a pad of paper and start writing down job possibilities from credits-there are a zillion people working behind the scenes.  Including female names under the credit of 'best boy'.  So don't feel like the job title is sexist- it's just a title.  Submit your resume.

I finally leave the room. It's just me and the usher/bouncer.  I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm scoping out the layout for some sort of Holiday breakdown plot.  He's giving me the 'get out of here and stop creeping me out' stare combines with the "are you okay?  It's the day before Thanksgiving and you're all alone...". pity look.  The combination is worth lingering a second to ensure my vertigo/lightheadedness doesn't send me flying into the row of seats one stadium level down from me.

I'm pretty sure he checked under my seat for a ticking purse after I finally left.

Got home to the smell of my husband baking strawberry-rhubarb pie from berries and rhubarb we froze out of our own garden.  Impromptu home Thanksgiving is going to be delicious thanks to my Food Network inspired husband who can both follow recipe directions and include the kids without freaking out at their help. 

So plans changed, some of it is a huge bummer- sickness is literally crappy- and watching movies all by yourself can feel like putting a huge spotlight on yourself before and after the movie actually starts.  If I'm paying to view a show in the theater though then I will not miss my beloved credit name search, even if there is no one to whom I can point out my name finding excitement. 

We'll figure out how to make the best of it, and don't the unexpected things always end up being the most well remembered?  Not that you should sabotage your big life events in order to remember them more clearly...

I even managed to do some minor editing over the last week!  That means my story is progressing along with my life, although the story is more neglected.  My story mimics this week filled with all kinds of unexpected changes and set backs.  I'll choose to make the best of whatever comes along for my goals or expectations in hobby, work, and especially family because any other option isn't worth the energy to express it sufficiently.

And I will always watch the credits.  Sorry, usher guy, all weirded out by my lagging behind all by my lonesome.  The credits are worth it- Go, Paige, you own that job title of 'best boy'.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Things I learned in Chicago


Someone from a town with a population under 200 can get lost within two blocks of downtown Chicago.

You don't get change if you put a $20 into a public transit ticket machine.

What you thought was an underground redline can suddenly turn into the L train.

Stores are open after 8pm.

Hotels double as night clubs.

People really do wear high heels everywhere- and walk miles in them every day as far as I can tell.

There is a trend for women to wear knee-high high-heeled brown toned boots on the outside of jeans. 

You can get deep dish pizza at any hour- don't make the mistake of ordering a big pizza if it's for two people. 

Pizzeria Uno is the coolest place to eat deep dish pizza, as long as John Diaz is your server- he's awesome!  And you can purchase their deep dish pans to take home and attempt your own pizza.  We bought two sizes- yes we were that impressed with their pizza and service!

Giordano's pizza has more cheese than Uno on their deep dish pie, but they call it 'stuffed' even though technically there is no second crust layer (I looked up what a stuffed deep dish should be and it should have a second crust with cheese or something 'stuffed' in it).

Most of the people are friendly.  But I didn't talk to everyone so I can't vouch for the entire population, and was told by a questionably attired man blocking an intersection that he was 'not a hood-e-lem' even though I didn't ask him if he was or not.  I just assumed he was telling the truth on that impromptu information and continued on my way.

Protests are difficult to hear.  We walked right past a protest in front of the Chicago Tribune and it took us ten minutes to try to figure out what the group was chanting before we decided to move on- still only figured out the first half of the chant and context helped 'tell the truth.......(something something)" is what we think they were shouting at the building.

The local news is worth watching when you visit a different town.  We learned of crazed nude demonstrations on the trains, a family who conducted an impromptu dance on top of their SUV in an intersection downtown, and the cast of Chicago Fire came to honor the real fire department of Chicago. 

Al's Italian Beef is way better than Portillo's.  I've heard there is a debate regarding the two sandwich shops, but based on flavor, atmosphere, homemade ingredients, and quality of product- Al's has Portillo's beat by a landslide.  Not to mention Portillo's is like eating at a circus while being herded like cattle and listening to a girl holler out order numbers. 

Gloves are not a suggestion in November- even if there's no snow wear gloves.

The wind is serious.

Staying on the 35th floor of a hotel is amazing.  I swear I could feel the building swaying in the wind.

Rain does not ruin an Architecture River Tour. 

I was too distracted with city sights to actually work on editing anything. 




Thursday, November 7, 2013

At a Crossroads or Mental Training:


They say there is a benefit in practicing things out in your mind.  If that is a true fact then my mind has been hard at work despite the fact my fingers have been taking a hiatus. 

The last week has been filled with Halloween candy.
To begin with I purchased a lot of candy two weeks ago with the lofty goal of keeping it stored in the house to pass out on Halloween night.

I am now at least three stable pounds heavier...  There was a little wavering up and down in that weight with five extra pounds topping me out.  Mind you this is only the first of a series of snowed in Holidays whose celebration is often based around food.  Snow equals less naturally occurring physical activity- and I struggle forcing myself to increase physical activity when I'm aware of the act of forcing myself. And since the snow started falling mid October and won't fully melt until mid May beginning June I can anticipate severe repercussions if this pattern continues.

I bought additional bags of candy two days before Halloween.  Since I have been training myself to expect a sugar spike midafternoon every day those bags were opened pre-event as well. 
So the candy coma has been a bit of a distraction.    

In order to mentally train my brain for the moment I might be out of my sugar haze and thus able to focus on some writing goals I decided to nap frequently- allowing my brain to ponder the areas of my stories in progress (I now have three in progress, not helping myself.  If I'm being honest at least two of those are NOT going to survive). 
I did much pondering.  All the way through three Winnie the Pooh episodes in a row.  There was a SpongeBob Squarepants marathon ponder as well...

I feel like my mental training is off to a good start.  I have thought about the same fact of which I am already aware.  I suck at including detail in scene set-up and physical descriptions- including character descriptions. 
It's a brutal fact.  I'd go as far as saying this fact alone distinguishes me from talented writers as a genuine hack-of-the-art writer-wanna-be.  I'm coming to terms with that fact and still have high hopes of improving at some point. 
I admit that I am astonished at my ability to be aware of this fatal flaw and my inability to remedy the problem with a well-intentioned session at the keyboard.   

So, I thought about that flaw...  I thought about it a lot.  There were dreams with no identifiable physical settings and characters in the dreams with no distinguishable facial features or hair colors.  It is a little known fact that I have a slight case of Facial Recognition Blindness.  So the indistinct faces in my dreams didn't freak me out too badly- that's pretty much how I go through the grocery store.  I literally wave at anybody I think is looking my way.  I've confused many people into thinking we're good friends when it turns out we've never met before.  I don't think this brain-glitch can be blamed for my lack of descriptive skills though.
My dreams have been vague, yet useful.  My brain realized I was in problem solve mode with my physical writing activity downtime and came up with a great solution to date nights with my husband. 
I dream solved the babysitter cost issue by swapping every other Friday with a family who had children too young to tend themselves and also had no family in the Valley to help watch kids when they went on a date.  That way each family had two babysitter cost free dates a month!  It was genius considering the last date I had with my husband was at the county fair in late July- four months ago.  Great idea, but I don't actually know anyone who matches the parameters.  Everyone has family to call on, or they have a child over the age of 12 (and they also have family nearby).

Miracle of finding yourself with substantially less savings- I did purchase a flight to accompany my husband on his work related business trip this coming week.  So, that's like having five days of dates all crammed between seminars and layovers.  It's going to be awesome!  Not to mention his conference is in one of our pizza lover's dream destinations- Chicago!  (not included in this account is the agony of Mother's guilt I've been struggling with at the prospect of leaving our three young kids for multiple days.  I'm trying to focus on the excitement of the alone time with my man of choice because he trip is shockingly present).
Do they sale deep dish pizza pans to tourists?  I mean the authentic nice ones?  I'm going to find out.

Hopefully I will employ some of my downtime working on writing goals...  Or I might just have to continue the mental pondering. I think I have a real talent for pondering.  I'm still working to develop/improve my talent for writing.

Also, the night before we leave I get to feel like a celebrity and do a book signing for my children's book- it being my one finished project.  Maybe I'll update how that highly intimidating yet thrilling experience turns out before I go dark for at least a week.  I need time to unpack, clean house, and most importantly reassure my babies that I will never leave them again- even when they get married I'll move in and creep out their spouses with extra loud toots or something.