Tuesday, November 30, 2010

big day

My grandma's surgery is today at 1pm CT. Keep a place for her in your thoughts today.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving was spent on a miserable 14 hour bus ride (that should have only been 9 hours) back to New York from Toronto with no one to talk to and no meals. So the next day I went to Whole Foods to quell my craving for turkey day foods. Vegetarian stuffing, roasted cauliflower, tofurky, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, a pumpkin parfait and cranberry soda. Close enough. I was also asked out on a date and told I was "cute" while stuffing my face with mashed potatoes in the Whole Foods cafe so... that's new. 

After my little solo dinner of thanks I met up with a friend and had a perfect New York night: bought a scarf at the Union Square holiday market, saw The Social Network (excellent writing and Rooney Mara's character was the best, saved it from being totally misogynistic), went to a bro bar ironically which kind of makes me hate myself but it was so fun, ended the night at a diner to split a piece of pie and cup of joe.

This holiday was a bit unconventional, as is my life in general right now. I'm thankful for that. I had a little "what I'm thankful for" time in my head while eating that lovely meal and just kept thinking how much I appreciate these experiences that will let me look back on my life and remember how full it was. I'm thankful for the moments and relationships and little things like good food and dancing that creep up on you at the least likely times and remind you how good life is. You know that feeling when you want to feel sorry for yourself and dwell in your bad mood but something happens and suddenly you can't force the smile off of your face no matter how hard you try? That's what I'm thankful for.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Toronto with Love

The look on my face in this picture pretty much sums up my whole experience in Toronto.
That would be me having my first poutine. The original vegetarian poutine at Smokes in Toronto. Best thing I've ever put in my mouth (that's what she said). Tell your friends.

The drive into Toronto is beautiful. I was immediately struck by how lovely and welcoming the city is. I could go on and on about Charlotte's perfect basement apartment, her kitty Hoshi, the beautiful neighborhood she lives in, how clean and calm and beautiful the city is, all of the friendly, awesome people I met, etc... but I've been pretty gushy lately so I'll just stick to my favorite pictures from the couple days I was there.
My only request (besides poutine) was that I get to see some of the important Scott Pilgrim locations. It turns out those books (and movie) are basically a map around Toronto and just about everything was in walking distance. I think I saw literally every location in the books but these were some of my favorites:
(I did my best Julie Powers impression and Laura did her best Kim Pine at Second Cup.)
(This is possibly funny if you've seen the movie.)

Before going out we met up with some of Charlotte's friends who were adorable and super friendly. I had to share this picture out of its sheer ridiculousness.
Sneaky Dee's was so fun. Upstairs was 90s hip hop night where Charlotte and I danced for hours with a super fun, super dancy, super attractive hipsterish crowd to some of my favorite music. She's such a good dancer and everyone there was so fun! It reminded me of my sweet friends in Austin, only straighter. We went downstairs after last call for nachos because that's one of Charlotte's (who doesn't read SP) favorite pastimes. It's a total coincidence that it's also one of Scott Pilgrim's favorite pastimes. I swear. They are, for the record, insanely good nachos.

The coolest thing was seeing Casa Loma and the Baldwin Steps.

Charlotte took this sweet picture of me that reminded me of a scene from the movie.
There was a moment walking through a little row of flats across from Casa Loma where I completely fell in love with the city. They were gorgeous row houses, like the beautiful people in movies set in London live in, with white marble and little steps leading up to huge, navy doors, bay windows and cobbled, tree-lined streets. They were perfect and I thought if I could afford it I would buy one right there on the spot and never leave. 

Yep, this trip was short but one of my favorites. Charlotte and Laura are amazing women that I feel I was meant to meet. Toronto is nearly perfect, cold weather and all, and I felt aligned and at home in it. This trip was good for my soul and my disposition. I needed late night girl talk, booty dancing, calories, Hanson, etc. Laura predicted I would fall in love on/as a result of this trip and I think she may have been right.

last stop on the Shout It Out tour!

I got on a bus late Monday night to head to Toronto. Ten hours on the Megabus was worth it the second I got into the beautiful city that is Toronto Tuesday morning, where I met up with my sweet Canadians Charlotte and Laura. We grabbed some Tim Hortons and made our way out to the Guvernment for a full day of Hanson. It's been a long time since I did the whole Hanson fan "thing" (yes, there's a thing) where you camp out all day for a spot close to the stage and join the guys on their charity walk (it's awesome, learn more here: http://www.takethewalk.net/), but I thought the experience of traveling to Toronto and being with my friends called for it. So we waited outside in the FREEZING cold all day (truth be told, I barely made it and had to make several trips to Loblaws to keep the hypothermia at bay) and took the barefoot walk with Hanson. This is Charlotte and if you look between the blonde head and the fuzzy hat you will see Zac Hanson's messy hair, which is funny because I didn't even realize he was in the picture.
After what felt like an eternity, we finally made it inside and I finally stopped complaining. We ended up three rows back in the middle, a nearly perfect spot, and made it through another wait and a typical "meh" opening act that at least involved some serious eye candy. Aren't Charlotte and Laura the cutest, even in low club light?
Isaac, Taylor and Zac finally graced us with their presence somewhere around 10 and played a super long, super worth-the-wait set. They covered most of the new album, Shout It Out, which is definitely their best album to date, the old staples and some great covers, including The Beatles' Oh, Darling (I took a short video: http://vimeo.com/17245427 it gets great around the 1:00 mark and then cuts off because I wanted to enjoy the moment).
They ended the night with two songs from their 1998 Christmas album. It is, in my opinion, the best Christmas album ever. As soon as it gets cold enough, I start playing it on repeat and am instantly super happy and excited for the holidays. I highly recommend it if you want to get into the Christmas spirit, especially this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xMnGGu-Tw4 (Taylor's piano intro on that one just warms my heart.) I took a video of them doing Run, Run Rudolph at the end of the show for my Hanson loving bff Wendy, but you should watch it too because it's really fun. Taylor bangs on the piano for a few seconds in the beginning of the video and that is literally one of my favorite things of all time.
It was a perfect night and a perfect show. I've lost count of how many I've been to over the last 13 years but it's somewhere in the 20s and I have no plans of stopping. I just love them. Hanson means so much to me because of what they represent. The happiness, the perseverance, the generosity. They taught me to not listen to the haters and to be proud of who I am, to stand up for myself and what's right. For me they are about growing up and always trying to be better, do better, give more and seek out happiness. They're also about finding a place that you belong when you spent most of your life never fitting in. Their songs have always resonated with me on a really personal level and I love them for it. It was great to be there with Charlotte and Laura who feel the same way.

More about the rest of my wonderful Toronto trip soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gotham

31st St. and 9th Ave., Manhattan
November 22, 2010 10pm

Monday, November 22, 2010

Living with Ladies

Means an entire cupboard dedicated to tea and two tea kettles (one of them hidden under a handmade Cylon tea cozy because they are awesome ladies). It means weekends spent in pajamas watching old movies, working on school stuff, ordering in and laughing. It means Golden Girls and The Nanny marathons, impromptu dance parties and someone to hug you or cuddle with you when you need it. I'm sorry to be super cheesy right now, but I never thought I would get a chance to live with female roommates and I'm really glad that I'm having this experience. I'm just so grateful to get to be around smart, ballsy, funny, interesting women and that I have two more people to love. This is probably something most of you got to do a long time ago, in college or whatever, but it's a novel thing for me. From what I understand, Swinny and Sam are pretty ideal as roommates go, and they're super supportive as friends and classmates. I love the sound of the tea kettle and the creek of the floor as one of us comes down our long hallway. I love our mismatched couches, big cozy rug and soft lighting. I just feel lucky, is all.

B's latest research project

(B made his own P-51 Mustang to go along with his paper. Impressive, no? Splinter was impressed.)

An excerpt (that I will not edit, despite every editorial instinct): 
P-51 Mustangs were the best propeller planes during World War II.  They could dog-fight very well and looked much like the British Spitfire.  In fact, they had some of the parts used to make the Spitfire, such as the water-cooled 1,500 horsepower engine.  They both had 3 machine guns on both wings and had the same shape.  The P-51, however, had the best accuracy, speed, and range.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Washington Square walk to work

Coming out of the W. 4th Subway on the opposite side than I usually come out of allowed for this stroll through Washington Square Park on my way to work. Autumn is my most favorite. It always makes me feel excited, like good things are just around the corner. Also, wearing a scarf and crunching leaves with your boots is an insta-cure for any mood ailment. I think I'm out of my funk. I've decided to be happy and look for the good around me again. Soak in the turning trees and relish every moment. Whether it's allowing yourself to continue to love or just enjoying the weather, life is too short and too hard to not seek out the good things and be happy in those moments. I really believe that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

HARRY POTTER

midnight IMAX screening at kips bay with MIAP ladies.

omg.

let's please discuss in the comments section (so as not to spoil for anyone).
(i love you, severus!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

onward

Thank you for all the kindness and love. I kind of feel like a tool. No one forced me into any of the decisions I've made and I'm responsible for how I feel. Also I have it really good and I need to stop forgetting that. Though I don't deserve it, I do so appreciate your kindness. I will pass the same on to my grandma who will, I'm sure, take comfort in it as we wait to hear about treatment options.

I started the Master Cleanse today. I'm doing an abbreviated version because I'm going to Toronto next week (!!!) to see Hanson with my friends Charlotte and Laura and don't want to be the non-eating downer. Also, poutine. Omg. Still, I need this little time out to cleanse, rid myself of all the negative feelings and energy. I need to feel lighter. I'm not concerned with losing weight or anything, just clearing out my mind and body.

Harry Potter is sort of tomorrow! I have a ticket to the midnight screening and a Gryffindor tie. I'm pumped. I wish B was here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"all helpful urges should be circumvented" or, Selfishness.

My grandma has cancer. It has returned after a full mastectomy 20 years ago. I love my mom very much, but (let's be honest) my grandma raised me. It was grandma who took me in as a kid and tried to understand me, who wrapped my bloody feet after ballet every night, who stayed up with me when I had insomnia, who signed my report cards, who helped me when I got pregnant, who is taking care of B right now. She has been through more than I will probably ever comprehend, and she's sacrificed so much for me, my family, total strangers, anyone in need. I have never met anyone more willing to give selflessly of themselves without asking questions, and more quick to downplay her own needs. She is fearless. But I am not. I'm scared. And right now, when she should be allowed to take what support and concern is offered to her, she is trying to protect me (of all people!) from being worried or upset by this.

I can hardly stand how self absorbed all of this is, but here's the truth:

When I got back from AMIA I had a humiliating, crushing incident. I will never be affected by him like I used to be but I admit I did get involved again. He moved to the city, came to my school, took my job. I was still in love, fresh off of his visit to Hawaii... and after three years, avoiding it was all but impossible. But like every breakup we've had, this one was sudden, cold and unforgiving. Not only had I not healed from it yet that night, but I thought we had reconnected. I misunderstood? So I ran up to him when I saw him on the street -- my old friend, my love. What happened next was the inevitable heartbreak I should have seen coming. I don't remember ever feeling so betrayed and disrespected. The reality of the situation set in slowly as I saw his face, realized who he was with, his words echoed through the crowd at Astor Place. I wanted to melt into the ground, disappear. I walked away feeling as though I had been punched in the stomach. Had I not had a shoulder to cry on that night, I don't know how I would have made it home. I felt paralyzed. And so has been the rest of my week.

The grad school workload crushing me, the headaches, the sleep not coming, my B being so far away... and him. In memories, in songs, in absence, in disbelief. It's different than before. I am very much alive, surging with feelings that I can't process. Anger pulsing through my veins, interrupted by waves of calm, introspective thought and occasional moments of relentless pain. Friday was a painful day. The question nagged of how someone who loved me could say those things, care so little, be so cold... and on and on. I had a brutal migraine. I was standing on the street near Washington Square Park when a (clearly crazy) man walked past me, grabbed my hair in his fist and pulled it as hard as he could. That was it. I sat and cried, assuming I had finally put so many bad vibes into the universe with my stupid decisions and melancholy that I had driven it to outwardly attacking me.

ME. There's that word.

The news of my grandma has settled heavy on my heart. I don't know what's going to happen next, except that I am going to get to Texas as soon as I can to help her. What I do know is that I need to reevaluate my priorities. I am acutely aware of how self absorbed I am. I dwell on someone who has zero concern for me or my family. I dwell on how that relationship reflects on me, on all of these irrelevant feelings and useless anger. I spend a lot of time sitting lately, procrastinating, moping. I waste time and misdirect my love and attention. I let disconnected events ruin my day to the point of public tears. I blog and blog. I've thought that one over quite a bit and I think it's important. I want to have this record of the good, the bad and the everything. But if I'm doing the right things, focusing on what's really important, maybe in retrospect this 3am post will mean something.

Please keep my grandma in your thoughts and prayers.

Her name is Cindy and she is one in a million.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Philly LOVE

I needed to find love in wet streets, cobbled driveways, French architecture and deliberate turns. I needed long walks, Chai lattes, analog dance parties and solitude in a crowded bar. I needed something deeply personal to overwrite the memories on my heart. 

AMIA

Whew. This week kicked me in the face. I don't even want to talk about it yet, so let's just get caught up on pictures, shall we?

I spent last week in Philly at the Association of Moving Image Archivists conference. I finally felt like I fit in this year, and quickly realized that is because I am fully embracing what a rare breed of nerd I actually am. I fear I might never be cool again... and maybe I'm okay with that? Either way, Philly was really cool. Tuesday night, before the conference began, we stayed with Sam L's (not roommate Sam) family who live in a beautiful town outside of Philadelphia. We sang show tunes, made a Trader Joes run, her mom fed us until we were all in food comas and then we laid around looking at her old pictures and watching Beauty and the Beast till we fell asleep. Somehow sleepovers are even better when you're a grown up.

Getting into the city on Wednesday was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me because my personal life is stupid, and I now have memories infecting just about every city in the country, but I eventually got over it and it ended up being a pretty incredible experience. Day 1 was spent doing "activist archiving." My class helped Scribe, a non-profit video center, catalog some of their collection for archiving. Our Video Preservation professor, Mona Jimenez, is all about lending our skills to people who need it, which is really cool. It was a long day of looking at spreadsheets (and I am NOT and never plan to be a cataloger - no thank you) but a good experience with good people.
(thanks to Erwin for that picture of me being an activist archivist!)

We went out that night and did karaoke with the first year students. I love that MIAP is such a tight group. There are so few of us and we spend so much time together that it's hard not to be. My class got really lucky that all seven of us have a lot in common and the same general outlook on the program and field. It keeps things in perspective, I think. This is June, our resident Korean film world celebrity, serenading us.

I'll spare you all my preservation-related notes and stories (I'll save those for the AMIA student chapter blog that's launching soon), but I made a point of attending anything related to my thesis, like the meetings and panels on projection and presentation, access to films and fundraising. I also LOVED watching Carson Davidson's incredible short films and hearing him talk about them and the restoration that was done on them. If you're a film loving type, click that link and enjoy some beautiful Oscar nominated shorts from a really interesting dude. Archival screening night is always the best part of AMIA. Representatives from archives all over the world bring their latest discoveries and treasures and get six minutes to screen them (or part of them) tell us about them. We end up seeing 30 or so brilliant, funny, weird, beautiful pieces of film that are often never (or rarely) seen anywhere else. This was one of my favorites from this year:

(read the caption about it, so awesome.)

Other highlights included classmate Erik's poster presentation on the work he's doing for his thesis. It's all about edge codes printed on film and it's brilliant, if you were curious.

Delicious Mexican dinner (oh, the guac bowl!) with my classmates, full of laughter and my ever-intrusive camera. I seriously love these people.
(Those are the roommates, Swinny and Sam, being hilarious.)

I died over the Reading Terminal Market. It's been on my travel list of places to visit for a long time and it definitely lived up to the anticipation. I had a vegetarian cheesesteak and walked around till my senses couldn't handle the excitement anymore.

Closing night of the conference was delightful. We had a mixer on the top floor of the gorgeous Loews Hotel where the conference was held. I sat in the window before everyone else got there and daydreamed, as I sometimes do, that I was Spiderman and could soar through the buildings.

But I eventually had to be a grown up and climb out of the window, listen to toasts and talk to people... network, solidify friendships and express satisfaction with the week.
 

Swinny and I decided to make a night of it at the "unofficial AMIA after party" at the Latvian Society. It was just a bunch of archivists standing around a bar in this weird, awesome house drinking Lativian beer... until the Europeans got there. The adorable Johan and Erwin -- or "Metadata Moguls" (nerdy and hilarious) -- got the dance party started and it didn't stop for hours. 

Kitschy archival films of ladies dancing and 1950s naked dudes were projected on the wall and the room was decorated with strips of film instead of streamers. I danced all night with Swinny, Ben (my internship supervisor and super buddy) and other lovely, fun, crazy archivist-types from all over the world. 

Overall, it was an inspiring and challenging week professionally and a chance to party with people I have a lot in common with. Next year's AMIA will be in Austin, which is already the most exciting news ever, and I have a lot of work to do to get ready for it.