I officially have the "Best Wife In The World" prize wrapped up and in the bag. Yessiree. You see, on a whim Jon and I decided to cancel our television for the summer... to give us more time for the little things. So, TV is gone. Whatever shall we do?
"Well, sweetie, let's build a fort!"
No, I was the one who said that. We'd been remembering how much fun fort building had been when we were little. Not together, of course. But on opposite sides of the bay area we were in our own houses constructing fabulous forts out of blankets and chairs and couch cushions.
Jon jumped at the chance to recapture a part of his youth and enjoy it with me. First we gathered all our blankets and sheets together, brought chairs upstairs and out from the guest room, office and bedroom. Then... I got a glimpse into my engineer-husband's psyche. Apparently there are certain unalterable criteria when it comes to what makes a "good fort".
1. No part of the fort may include features of the actual room it's in. (That includes walls.)
2. If furniture from the actual room is utilized in construction process, the couch or chair must be completely covered with sheets, etc.
3. This includes the floor. A sheet must be put down to cover the floor entirely. (Don't even attempt to mess with this one!)
4. One staple in the fort-building world is couch cushions... (We don't have couch cushions. This is a problem.)
5. The resulting fort must be structurally sound. A ceiling that collapses under the weight of a bounding kitten is not acceptable.
6. No natural light is allowed in the fort. Instead we must craft some alternative light source involving a lightbulb/lamp surrounded by white sheets.
7. Did I mention that any "real" fort must include couch cushions?
8. There must be an actual entrance included in the building. (This means no removing of parts in order to step inside...)
There are probably more, but I think I blotted them out. He took forever figuring out his different steps and priorities! Finally I took matters into my own hands. While Jon took a little break, I stepped in and threw the rest of the fort together, ignoring some of the rules, too. Amazingly he was pleased with the results (I had left up the guest room mattress as the main ceiling... vaulted of course).
It remains to be a great fort! We'll keep it up until other people come over... our childish joy is something others may simply not understand. That, and we don't wanna share!
Anyway, I've been a little sick recently, so when Jon went climbing I had to stay home. But I thought that everything would be great as I hung out in my cool new fort! And it would have been great... until I thought of The Sixth Sense. I don't think I've ever left anywhere that fast!
Some have labeled me a "movie snob". That's accurate, I guess, considering I have my own unwavering definition of a "classic movie". As cult classics go, I have my opinions. And while I adore The Breakfast Club, Molly Ringwald leaves much to be desired in my opinion. The real movie stars are John Wayne, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford and, of course, Audrey Hepburn.
Breakfast at Tiffany's is probably considered a cult classic, too. But I love it. In fact, loving that movie makes me less than a snob because I can look past the acting, the dialog... and I find the beauty of the plot. It's eternal, the search for self. So where do I draw the line?
Puppets. My friend Chris has attempted for some time now to convince me to watch Dark Crystal. But I turn up my nose at muppets. Can you blame me? I'm sure some people can. My own husband finds puppet humor hysterical. Though he did stop me from seeing last year's Team America, knowing how much I hate what I term "stupid humor".
Falling head-over-heels into the stupid humor category are movies involving excessive bathroom or bodily function jokes, slapstick, jokes at the expense of a mentally disabled person, etc. As you can imagine this means I can't stand Dumb and Dumber, Something About Mary, the three stooges or Adam Sandler (in a big, stupid category all his own).
Poor Jon. I mean, the man loves the Simpsons (the yellow ones, not the singing sisters...) and I can't stand them. Once in a very great while I'll cave and watch an episode with him. It makes his day. Thus, he has developed an excellent knack for knowing what I won't like before I have to say so. Until yesterday I think we both believed that this stifled his own movie-watching capabilities. And then something amazing happened.
I wanted to watch a movie. Jon fully expected me to choose something black and white. He's grown to love some of my oldies and no longer anticipates new ones with absolute dread, but there is still a bit of resignation on his part when it's time for me to choose the flick of the evening. But I wasn't in the mood for Bob Hope or Maureen O'Hara. A little surprising but it happens sometimes. Anyway, I'd been craving something all day.
I popped in my old VHS copy of Liar, Liar. You should have seen the look on Jon's face! Priceless.
"You like this movie?"
"Yeah, don't you?"
Here I must admit that I am no die-hard Jim Carrey fan. If I didn't associate burning books and movies with Hitler, I would personally take great joy in exterminating all copies of Dumb and Dumber, The Cable Guy, Ace Ventura (all) and Earth Girls Are Easy (though that movie was much more Jeff Goldblum's fault than Jim Carrey's). But I respect Carrey's talent most of the time. The Mask couldn't have been done without that rubber face of his! The Truman Show remains to be a favorite of mine. I couldn't take The Majestic, unfortunately, but it was a valiant effort at serious drama.
Anyway, Jon and I watched Liar, Liar and laughed until our sides ached. Just a good time. And that wasn't the end of the surprises. This morning our Tivo picked of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day. When I asked Jon to save it so that I could watch it later, he was simply stunned. So, for all those people who have deemed me to be a "movie snob" I give you a list of
Unlikely Audrey Favorites
1. Liar, Liar
2. Groundhog Day
3. The Mask
4. Meet the Parents
5. Meet the Fockers
6. Young Frankenstein
9. Many hokey Sci-Fi classics from the '50s
10. Lion King 1 1/2
So that's the ten I can think of now. One of these days I'll list my own top 100 movies of all time. The American Film Institute has done a fairly good job... but it underestimates the value of some smaller movies over the years. I underestimate no one. And that's why Barefoot in the Park makes the top 25 in my world. Yay for Robert Redford and Jane Fonda!
Hated her previous politics, but she's turned herself around. That's a great example of someone whose personal beliefs I look past in order to enjoy her films. Certain friends (Cindy) occasionally complain that I can't do that, separate the actor from the character. I admit that happens sometimes. But for now I'll use my Jane Fonda example (pausing to note that her father, Henry Fonda, was a much better and more important actor...).
Okay okay, I am a snob.
I've been attempting to watch what I eat. And it was working. But working at the mall makes it hard. Junk is everywhere! Dancing hotdogs on sticks, plump pretzels, Cinnabon (no other word comes close to describing the euphoria that is Cinnabon)... what's a girl to do with only 15 minutes to gobble something down so that her growling stomach doesn't scare the customers away?
Well, today Jon met me for my half-hour dinner and we hit Baja Fresh. I figured... Mexican food had to be better than the carb-loaded, frosting-slathered, deep-fried goodness of the other options. How wrong was I?
Steak quesadilla. That's what I ordered. And it wasn't until I got home tonight, jumped onto the Baja Fresh website, that I discovered how deep that one quesadilla had plunged me into the hole of unhealthiness. One thousand four hundred forty calories. No joke. It's time to swath myself in black and mourn the day's worth of food I can't have because I ate it tonight at dinner. Go ahead, laugh and point, I deserve it.
I hadn't counted on the fact that I can never eat anything yummy ever again while watching my diet. An important fact if you ask me. But nobody did ask me. Not even me. From now on Baja Fresh is out, too. So are McDonald's, Burger King, California Pizza Kitchen... basically every place at the mall. And I'm being forced into vegetarianism! Incredible. I swore I'd never restrict my diet to things that spring green from the ground.
Okay, I've whined about this enough. After all, I've been exercising. I get enough sleep. And today I bought a beautiful dress that I've wanted for ages... it was finally on sale and at a discount. Fabulous day, really. Hmmmmmm... so now this blog has become a giver of perspective. How multifunctional. Time for bed.
Summer is so beautiful! Today I gazed out my window with Disney sitting on the sill. Birds took flight, catching the sunlight with their backs and wings. Everything was green with freedom and health. I love summer.
But, as a young woman I know that summer is finite, like life itself. I know that there is an end, just past August, to all this loveliness. My August hasn't quite begun yet. I think, on the grand scale, I must be at the beginning of my July. And that's a great place to be. Seeing days like this sends me back to a time when summer did seem eternal. I was legitimately surprised when school time came around again each September. Childlike oblivion. Bliss.
I've decided to include one of the most interesting and touching poems I've experienced in a long time. The Pomegranate is an insightful look at the mother-daughter relationship from the perspective of a mother who remembers what it was like to be a daughter. The legend she references in the beginning is found in both Greek and Roman mythology. Ceres, the mother, has made a literal deal with the devil to save her daughter, Persephone. By telling her tale from spherical and overlapping viewpoints, Boland rounds out a story brutal and gorgeous in its familiarity.
I love it. And it happens to be almost exactly what I've been feeling lately. Slightly burdened with new knowledge, new light that comes with age and marriage and experience. That burden is one that I know I can't give up, but it is also one from which I was spared for many years. My parents, loving me more deeply than I could begin to understand when I was a child, refused me some of the inevitable disenchantment that life offers later on. They'd felt it, coming to grips with death and anxiety, the stress of work and need for money, what true love really takes in order to succeed. In their success they could have prepared my brothers and me to face it all. Instead they chose, as good parents do, to give us "rifts in time"... the best gift of all. I don't feel betrayed. I feel loved.
I was lucky to be sheltered and cared for, lucky to br shielded from the weight of the world. Mom and Dad never explained to me just how the summer of my life would fade out into an autumn of age and ability. Instead they helped me to revel in the springtime of youth and eased me sweetly into the beginning of my summer. What a beautiful way to grow up! Anyway, this is a poem worthy of deep consideration. In the end it is hopeful... and that's like life, too.
The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere. And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
the story was told, a child can be
hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.
We should do it. Every one of us. No excuses. But I don't like it. Ugh! Yet, on Saturday morning I woke up and went for a jog voluntarily. Scary. Occasionally I will be motivated out of nowhere to care about what I eat or how much I exercise, but most of the time not so much.
You'd think it would help that I married the king of all things physically active. The man climbs mountains, lifts weights... and even when there isn't another second left in the day he's trying to find a reason to go outside and walk/jog/skip/jump/sommersault. It's endless.
I think it intimidates me a little. While I find all of his outdoor interests attractive, I know that I'll never be as good at them as he is. Motivation right out the window. I weigh more than him, too. That's a major faux pas for any husband to commit. Yet, it's my fault, not his. And it's always been true. (He's not any more thrilled about the situation than I am, by the way.) He eats like he's got a hollow leg (eh, Cin?), junk food by the ton when he's at work, but never gains an ounce. Then there's me, counting calories or ditching cheese (that lasted all of two days), following the mindless trend of the generally overweight American masses.
And I'm not even overweight! Why do I obsess about this stuff? When I weigh... er... okay, I'll be honest... 138 on a good day. At 5'7" tall I'm well in the midst of the healthy weight range. I've accepted the fact that I'll never be size zero. I appreciate the amount of muscle I was blessed with, actually. It's the jiggly places on my thighs and backside that I'm not exactly cool with. My insecurities about my "wobbly bits" come screaming to the forefront the second bikini season hits. That's probably true for all women, right? Please tell me I'm right. Our cellulitophobia sets in and sends us grabbing for sarongs and robes to conveniently cover anything that's not tight and toned.
But who wants to live like that? Summer happens to also include perfect weather for working out. Coincidence? Or did God in His infinite wisdom foresee the feminine fears and allow for some opportunity to better ourselves. Rather than whining, why not lace up the sneakers and take a walk in the sun? Well, because an hilarious rerun of "Mad About You" is on! Duh! I'm ashamed to admit that, even as a proud owner of Tivo, certain shows keep me indoors when I should be huffing and puffing myself around the block.
Thankfully I have friend suffering by my side. No, I'm not thankful they suffer, it's just that I'd rather not be alone. And I'm supportive of all their efforts to actually utilize the gyms or diets. Today, motivated by an email from my pal Cindy, I knew I needed to exercise. Why not? School is out and I have all the time in the world. Therefore I am proud to report that I accompanied Jon to our gym this evening and spent half and hour climbing and bouldering, and half an hour doing a fairly strenuous regimen on an exercise bike. Calories were blazing right off of me.
The best part is, of course, that afterwards I felt rejuvenated. All of those people who say that running makes them feel less tired... aren't lying! Yes, my legs felt like putty after my stint on the bike, but I walked out of the gym feeling a major sense of accomplishment. I bested myself. And I climbed well, too.
So will I continue in this vein? It's obvious that I understand the benefits. I've lived the fit lifestyle before. Unfortunately I have more than one Achilles heel. First I must force myself to workout two days in a row. Sounds easy, but it really isn't for me. Second I have to battle shin splints (something I've been tormented by since my days in volleyball) and sore muscles... both of which hinder my chances at exercising that second day. And then, even if I make it through that... if I take a day of rest... getting back into the groove is the hardest thing for me to do.
Jon is on my side, though, giving me encouragement and kisses. Tonight he told me I was beautiful even as I peddled furiously, sweat dripping down my red face. And he wasn't making it up either. Seeing me exert myslf, push my body to it's potential, bettering my health all make him very happy. He loves it. Hopefully I'll translate that love and encouragement into motivation, continuing to exercise regularly. If I can drop 8 pounds I'll be happy. Some kind of goal is always good to have and, as I learned repetitively from my father, it's best to write that goal down so that others can help to hold you accountable. This will work.
Tomorrow I have a day off of Banana, no homework, just some projects around the house. Perhaps I'll work out a bit in the morning. Wow, that makes me sound so put-together and in control of my life. We'll see. For now I have slightly aching hamstrings groaning at me. But if I listen really close I can hear them say, "Thank you, Audrey. It's about time."
'Ohhhhh, my leetle geeeeeel!"
No, you may not understand that comment. I do, though. It makes me laugh. You see, my father, the big, ominous "tough guy", always has been the best baby talker around. Let me translate. "Oh, my little girl!" By dropping certain consonants, elongating the vowel sounds, elevating his voice to a high, precious pitch... Daddy used to make me laugh!
Father's Day has come and, since I offered up my creativity to sing the praises of my Mother in early May, I really ought to do the same for my dad now. So let's see if I can sum up my love for my father in this short space.
Dad wanted a boy. Oh, he may deny it now, but as an extremely talented athlete in high school, he hoped desperately that he'd be able to share his love of sports and all things sweaty and grass-stained with a son. But Mom gave him me instead. The way they tell the story, the doctor handed me, all slimy and squirmy and female, to a 25-year-old Mark Pancoast... and the man fell in love.
I was his "leetle geel", his "jaybird", his "munchy minchin" and a thousand other equally and inanely sweet nicknames. At the age of three I beat him at Candy Land (now he swears he let me win, but we all know the truth... I am the master), and I received a trophy for my efforts. It was one of his old baseball trophies. We both beamed with pride. He bought a book that came highly recommended for teaching children to read, and he sat me down one afternoon to begin learning. By the end of the night, I could do it! Magic? Good parenting? Pure Audrey genius? A little bit of all.
On the playground I was living up to my potential, too. Daddy had hoped and prayed for an athlete, and God had granted him one. I picked up sports quickly, even as he drilled. He'd take us kids out to "play baseball" in the nearby field. That meant a little bit of batting for each of us, and then one monstrous "at bat" for Dad while his litter spread out to shag the balls he sent for miles in every direction. We all won.
And he took me on my first date. I don't remember it as vividly as I used to, but there is a picture of the night that helps me. I was five-years-old, I had on a little mint green dress and white tights and shoes, and I carried a little purse with a turtle on it. Dad put on a suit and tie for his "number one girl" and we were off to dinner. I think we went to the mall? Do you remember, Dad? We went on many special "dates" over the years. The best was to an old-fashioned ice cream counter for a malt. My friends were all very jealous of my time with my Dad. He worked nights and weekends, so he was the one driving me on field trips and spending time with my brothers and me after school. "Your dad is the coolest!" my friends used to rave. But I don't think I told him that; it might have gone to his head.
Things weren't always so perfect, though. Dad had forgotten, in his list of things for God to include in the design of his firstborn, to ask that I not turn out exactly like him. My temper and my stubbornness are all his, too. Fighting was interesting once I was old enough to know my own mind. Not only did I choose to believe and say the exact things that would make my dad the angriest living human, but I stuck to my guns just as hard as he stuck to his. Head butting over issues like my future career, capital punishment, communism, racism... every day occurrences.
Usually these episodes ended with the classic "go to your room!" We rarely reached a resolution peacefully the first time around. Sometimes I was called back downstairs and given a chance to change my mind, to repent. Hah! Now I wonder how much time I wasted arguing things I knew nothing about, how many times I was actually right, how many miles of stairs I walked after all the up and down and up agains.
Always, though, I thought my dad was probably one of the smartest people around. He was always reading, always talking about important things. He worked hard to put himself through college when we were little kids and he was still working full time. He treated my mother very well, always loving her aloud.
The best possible thing my dad did for us growing up was to take our family on great vacations! He was a teacher, so each summer he'd pack the boys and me and all our camping gear into the car. We'd drive all over, usually winding up in Yellowstone National Park. Along the way we developed a love for nature and her bounty. Dad kept us entertained with history and stories, everything he knew he shared. That made the trips twice as fun!
Now, here I have to stop and mention that the info he passed along wasn't always brand new. After a while he began repeating some things. The boys and I pretended not to notice. Maybe in the beginning we really didn't know. But then, as is the Pancoast way, we gave Daddy a hard time about it.
"Kids, do you know what formed that valley over there? Hundreds of years ag..."
And we'd overwhelm him with a chorused: "...ago huge glaciers carved out the valleys as they melted and froze over and over..." Poor dad, breeding such smart alecks.
I think I made him proud as an athlete in high school. I swam, played volleyball and basketball. After showing a lot of potential in all three sports I narrowed them down to my favorite, volleyball. Dad came to my basketball games during my freshman year. He cheered me on, up and down the court. Of course, it wasn't all cheering, per se. Some was criticism "Don't dribble so high, AJ!", some was advice "Keep your head up, babe!". Some was pure incredulity. "What are you doing??!!!" And my father, bless his heart, was born with a deep voice that resounds everywhere, especially in a gym. At the end of the game the big joke my coaches would pass along to me was, "I heard your dad was at the game tonight! Har har har har!"
As a deeply sensitive teenage girl, I desperately wanted the teasing to stop. And having to do the play-by-play with critique once I got home wasn't all that fun, either. So I asked my dad not to yell during my games. When he balked at this idea I, in a moment of what my dad would term "boneheadedness", gave my own father an ultimatum: If you have to scream at me, I don't want you at my games at all."
Well, I should have known how that would go. He didn't come to any more of my games. Finally, my senior year, he began showing up at my volleyball matches again. And boy, was he proud! Then, at the award ceremony at the end of the season, he was my date. I relished his booming cheers then, as I accepted my trophy for being the Most Valuable Player of 2001.
In high school I didn't make my parents worry much. I was a good kid who kept to her curfew, did most of my activities with the church and had nice friends. The night I graduated from high school, my dad gave me a charm for the charm bracelet he'd given me and had helped me build for years. It was a tiny silver acorn. I hadn't fallen far from the tree. Daddy was misty, but he let me go off to my parties and to the rest of my life.
Dad has been my compass, my teacher, my standard for men, my protector (I've always felt safe) and my friend. He's whetted my debating skills and helped to nurture my sense of humor. Giving me away in marriage was no easy task for Daddy. He always swore he wouldn't cry "if the day ever came". But he did, a little. And just as the song we danced to that night proclaimed, I find our relationship as father and daughter to be amazing and unforgettable.
A long time ago I was inspired by an Eavan Boland poem. I sat and wrote this about my father:
My father took my hand
and we soared up the steps
of a place of words and wisdom
bound into books,
row upon row of the written thoughts
of those much wiser than me.
Oh, how I thirsted for that wisdom.
I would leave the hold of my father
in his sage green coat,
and find my corner.
I would huddle there and search for
the meaning of life, the solutions to
so many mysteries.
I sought counsel.
And then I turned around
and turned around...
He was gone.
It took me a second to realize
I was old enough to make it
home on my own.
When I was young I studied words
and their definitions.
These led me to understand
much of what life is made of,
but something else brought to light
the meaning of irony.
I will always be reminded that I was
in those hallowed rooms of learning
with my father,
with my back turned towards him,
searching- oh irony!-
for wise things.
-Audrey Pancoast, 2003
We get along. We make each other laugh. A few days ago I received an email from my dad in which he told me that he had been watching Anne of Green Gables with his class, and that it made him miss "his Anne". Me. Aren't I a lucky girl? To have a father who believes I am smart and beautiful and successful, a father who has told me that since I was very young. Indeed.
Happy Fathers Day!
Okay, this will be quick because I'm trying this new thing called "GOING TO BED AT A REASONABLE HOUR". Anyway, tonight Jon and I went out with some pals to see a new movie. Two words: Batman Begins. That's enough. Go see it. I'm not kidding; it's the best movie I've seen in a long while that can't be classifed as a chick flick. Even if Christian Bale all grown-up and not-a-newsie isn't enough for you, throw in Liam Neeson ("If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely."), Michael Caine ("I haven't seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park."), and Morgan Freeman ("I love being the wild card."). Yeah, that's right, good, solid acting. Even Katie Holmes did well. But I loved that the movie made this story as believable as possible.
This turned out to be a movie review.
But this was an altogether terrific day. Jon and I had a wonderful Saturday together. It's lovely to be in love. I actually started the day off with a run around my neighborhood. You can't be any more surprised than I was. And I guess I should own up to the fact that it wasn't so much "jogging" as it was "running intermitantly during a walk". Be that as it may, I think it really got the whole day off on the right foot.
We went out for breakfast, bagels from Noah's. Then a long, calm game of Go at Panama Bay Cafe (Amyless, unfortunately). Jon wore the shirt I bought him the other day, and boy, did he look handsome! I'm a lucky lady. And we were matching, both sporting Banana Republic clothes, mostly blue. We're disgustingly cute sometimes. After a stroll around downtown, popping in and out of antique stores and galleries, we hurried home so that I could get ready for work.
But I didn't have to work today, as it turned out! A nice surprise. Instead we hung out at home, did a little grocery shopping, ate Chinese for dinner. Jon wanted to watch "Backdraft", you know, the old firefighter movie. Kurt Russell is pretty cool, but I hate most movies that contain a Baldwin brother. Half way throught the movie we got the invitation to watch the beginning of Batman and we jumped at the chance.
Tomorrow I have an early morning meeting at work, but the day is free to celebrate my dad. He's a pretty darn cool guy, too. Also Jon's dad, grandpas, etc. Oh, and Jon himself. No, we're not giving out that kind of news. Check back with us in about ten years. But our kitties call him "Dad" so... that counts, right? Awwwwwww. My advice to all? Check out "Batman Begins", skip "Backdraft" completely, shop at Banana Republic and tell your dad how much you love him tomorrow!
So much for going to bed at a reasonable hour...
In fourth grade my mom took me to her hometown, Moline, Illinois, for a summertime visit. While visiting Mom's big sis, Aunt Kris, we did so many fun things! The Fourth of July parade was fantastic; my cousin Sam and I husked corn for dinner; we took a riverboat ride. Unfortunately one very un-fun thing happened to me. Dinner one night included a side of green beans. I ended up "unswallowing" that meal, something I blamed on the green beans specifically. But sadly I had also consumed A LOT of orange soda. Thus, I associated the soda with the grotesque incident. I haven't had orange soda in a LONG time.
That has not stopped Jon from buying it for himself, though. Tonight he had some with dinner. Why am I talking about what we had for dinner (pizza!)? Well, Jon didn't finish his soda before we left to run some errands. Our cat, Disney, who is "ours" when he screws up, loves pizza. On his quest to get the pizza, Disney knocked the glass over and sprayed orange soda all over our carpet upstairs. Thankfully it happened just before we returned home.
Interestingly Jon and I reacted very differently to the spill. Jon calmly reached for the paper towels and began soaking it up. I freaked out. Growing up I knew better than to spill things, to make messes at all. When it happened, the perpetrator had to clean it up fast and face consequences. All of us kids heard the dreaded phrase, "That's why we can't have nice things" several times each. And that's stuck with me.
I snatched up the paper towels tonight and went at the stain angrily. We don't own stain cleaner, probably because I'm so careful about spills the rest of the time, and I knew I HAD to go get it right away to solve this problem. Jon asked me to calm down. Now, I wasn't angry at Jon. In fact, I wasn't even taking out my anger on him really. I was mad at me for not having the foresight to buy stain cleaner... or, better yet, to pour the excess orange soda down the sink before we left it alone, teetering on cat-friendly edges.
How this became a fight between Jon and me... I don't know. Not a clue. But I wanted him to be upset with me, acknowledge what a travesty the event was, rush out to get stain cleaner or let me rush out without stopping me. He didn't do any of those things. And he shouldn't have. Eventually I'll learn to take a breath before panic sets in after a cat or, far in the future, a child drops a vat of grape juice or ink on our inevitably white carpet. I wish I'd learned before today. Even if we do spill every once in a while... we can still have nice things.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
How easy! Let's get right on it! No, seriously. This is probably my favorite poem. Kipling outlines everyhing so succinctly. Did I spell that even remotely right? I'm off to Ya-Ya a bit before I sleep. Oh sweet sleep!
I have been informed that the clerical workers' union at UC Davis has authorized a two-day strike beginning tomorrow. My sociology teacher is a grad student and the grad student union honors all other unions' strikes. Long story short... I don't have a final tomorrow. The good news is that I don't have to leave at 6am to get to my 8am final. The bad news is that I've been studying for this and now it's been a total waste of time. Whatever.
Jon left for DC this morning. Oh sadness setting in. I miss him. A lot. And I had an English final today that went really well. I miss Jon. Oh, apparently still thinking about that. Bummer. Amy is coming over in a few minutes to cheer me up. Hope it works. I think I'll watch a chick flick... eat some ice cream.
When I can think of something better to write about... I will.
Free time. It's something I have longed for, begged for, prayed for, wished for... something I'd forgotten. And yet, once school was out for the term, I found myself falling head over heels into a lot of it. Naturally I had studying to do. Naturally there was some catching up with friends. But in my free time I blogged here, wrote poetry, luxuriated in my pajamas in the middle of the day, didn't answer my phone and ate bon bons (Snackwells Devil's Food cookies... just this side of cardboard, but I'm learning to love 'em).
I also had a surge of creative energy that tested the boundaries of language. Rather than writing, I took a stab at a more visual art form. No paints or crayons required... I used the painting tool on my computer to see what came of my imagination when utilizing a whole new medium. What resulted surprised me. (No, the artwork shown is not mine. Norman Rockwell, my favorite artist, captured the ideal of youth so well in "Sunset"... it makes me think of Jon and me. Awwwwwww...) I found a niche and played with it, discovering all sorts of surprising ideas tucked away within me.
I'm a big fan of artists like Norman Rockwell and my mother-in-law, Debbie, who capture every suble detail, making everything look more than real... what I came up with during my stint as an artist didn't look anything like anything. Yet I was proud, and I am proud. Go me! Princeton University defines an artist as one whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination. I tried.
"Baby Talk" (oh, but 'baby fish mouth' is sweeping the nation!)
"Daisies" (my favorite)
So... this is what I looked like during my free time. Just kidding. I'm no Narcissus. And yet I keep this blog... like everyone else is sitting on the edge of their seat, holding their breath until I let them know what I think and feel and do. "Audrey said the funniest thing today!" *sigh* I know, I am funny. But I'll try not to flaunt it. Instead I will put up this gallery of my self-termed "art" and hope no one went tomato shopping today. Ugh. Just thought of a funny Bob Hope joke... I'm laughing aloud. But you had to be there. Alas, no one will ever understand what goes on inside my head. Perhaps it looks something like some of my artwork.
I am sitting next to four and a half empty diet Coke bottles. An addict? Yes. That's me. I really ought to stop. STOP THE MADNESS! Oops, the caffeine got through. My parents kept the soda to a minimum when we were children. Occasionally we were given "soda milk" (my mom's creation... now I cringe at the thought. But ohhhhhhh how my brothers and I begged for the soda milk... or, better yet, "rootbeer milk" in particular). Anyway, by the time we were in junior high and we had access to our own soda, my parents switched tactics and began offering us diet Coke. They hoped we'd choose the easy-to-get-at-home soda and, in the process, save our teeth countless tons of sugar. Little did they know that I had become hooked to the caffeinated beverage, never to be let loose from its sugarless grasp! And so... here I sit, on my couch in my house, just like every other normal person in America. But I am surrounded by the evil plastic remnants of my worst habit... bottles! Bottles everywhere! Saaaaaaaave meeeeee!
Bright, beautiful summer... we all love it. Over the years Life Magazine has covered some of those classic, happy summer moments. Here photographer Nat Farbman caught the wonder of children as they experience sparklers. Monroe, Washington 1954. I love the expressions, awe and intrigue. And that's a look I love seeing on adults, too, each Fourth of July. Looking through the pages of Life.com was so much fun. Summer images as only professional photographers in the forties and fifties could do 'em.
New Jersey, 1953. Photographer Margaret Bourke-White. The George Washington Bridge, one I've never crossed (but I will when I come to it... HAH!), is inspiring patriotism for every crossing car. A huge flag, big big big red, white and blue! Maybe it's the weather, or the influx of prominantly displayed American flags, but summer seems to bring a surge of national pride. Plus, summer vacation means travel! When I was a little girl my dad would take the three-month opportunity to show my brothers and me the wonders of America. We loved it! Driving along those interstates, cities and fields whipping past the windows, playing travel bingo and the license plate game! That's the stuff memories are made of. Thank goodness summer re-opens the open road.
Dallas, Texas, 1947. Photographer Cornell Capa. Our state fair is a great state fair! Don't miss it; don't even be late! Hmmmmm... the art exhibit, farm animal competition, 4-H Projects, funnel cakes and lemonade, creaky rides, twinkle lights, carnival games, gold fish in little plastic water-filled bags, walking with the one you love linked at the hands... state fairs are the best! Although here I am going to interject a slightly gross, but hysterical story.
Jon took me to a fair last year to see a Destruction Derby. While I will skip the exciting car on car action of that adventure, after we had a winner Jon and I took a stroll around the fairgrounds to enjoy all the cheesy fun. At the 4-H area we stopped to look at the cute l'il bunnies in their stacked cages. As I was petting an itty bitty one, I heard Jon give a yell. Instinctively I jumped back. And thank God! Because a gargantuan rabbit up top was letting out a big stream of pee! It got my shoe, but if I hadn't moved it would have been a shower! Oh, the fun of state fairs. Hah!
Santa Monica, California, 1950. Photographer Ralph Crane. This couple found a great way for some alone time at the popular California beach. Another great thing about summer is its reintroduction of beachtime fun! Now, being me, the beach isn't a place to tan. But it's a fabulous place to build sandcastles, go shell-seeking, read on a big, fluffy beach towel (while completely slathered with sunscreen, wearing a big hat, laying under an umbrella), watch Amy surf... I love the beach! Plus, I've never dug a hole this big. Impressive!
Anyway, I'm so loving summer! Ain't it grand how it happens to come around every year?! Just think of the Beach Boys and smile.
Thinking about how short life is doesn't make it last any longer. That's the ticket! So, instead, I decided to think about all the different, fantastic ways I can pack this lifetime full.
A while back I made a list. It started as 100 Things to Accomplish. But as I listed... I was amazed to find a thousand simple things, actions that probably couldn't be termed "accomplishments", coming out of nowhere. Those simple things were also the ones that made me (and Jon) smile and laugh. Silliness. That's what I found I truly want to accomplish for the rest of my life... between all the greatness and history-making of course. No, you needn't read them all. Unless you want to. Lots of cool stuff in there! Drumroll please... in no particular order...
100 Things To Do
1. Publish a novel
2. Publish a poem
3. Be published in Reader's Digest
4. Learn to dance
5. Publish a short story
6. Sing on stage
7. Have a baby
8. Take a painting class
9. Work for a newspaper
10. Coach volleyball again
11. Teach kids to love English
12. Attend the Oscars
13. Buy a fixer upper, fix it up
14. Move to a small town
15. Milk a cow
16. Learn and practice yoga
17. Go blonde
18. Get a daisy tattoo
19. Feed the hungry
20. Create a scholarship fund
21. Graduate from UC Davis
22. Learn ASL
23. Watch our children grow
24. Read the entire bible
25. Pray with my brother
26. Own a horse
27. Take our children to Disneyland
28. Be a Creative Memories consultant
29. Make donuts
30. Learn to juggle pins with Jon
31. Keep a veggie garden
32. Make a Thanksgiving turkey
33. Complete a bouldering competition
34. Play volleyball again
35. Go to a fancy costume party
36. Enter a poetry contest
37. Go to the ballet
38. Begin running
39. Write daily
40. Teach a Sunday School class
41. Remember everyone's birthday
42. Continue fitting into my wedding dress each year
43. Volunteer at a womens' shelter
44. Help with a youth group
45. Learn to golf
46. Keep close friends
47. Have Irish setters
48. Love my husband every day
49. Knit/crochet a sweater
50. Visit Grandpa's grave
51. Ride in a helicopter
52. Every once in a while, do a cartwheel
53. Learn archery
54. Be heroic
55. Ride on a motorcycle
56. Go to the Olympics (watch volleyball)
57. Visit all 50 states
58. See a Broadway play
59. Eat at 21
60. Own an original work of art
61. Run a race to raise money for a worthy cause
62. Give generously
63. Take nothing for granted
64. Wear turquoise
65. Enjoy my work
66. Attend an NBA game
67. Attend an NFL game
68. Visit all the National Parks
69. Keep roses
70. Smile at strangers
71. Try photography
72. Build a snowman
73. Climb mountains with Jon
74. Visit ivy league campuses
75. Read the New York Times
76. Wear perfume
77. Buy leather pants (and wear them)
78. Do AND Teach
79. Take quiet time every day
80. Grow my hair out long
81. Walk barefoot in the park
82. Go to a Jessica Simpson concert
83. Support Jon in everything he does
84. Build a sandcastle
85. Fly my kite
86. Dance in the snow
87. Wear pretty lingerie
88. Make cider
89. Bird watch
90. Let other people live their lives
91. Learn to cook
92. Eat a croissant while window shopping at Tiffany's
93. Be able to touch my toes (w/o bending my knees)
94. Catch fireflies
95. Grow strawberries
96. Sew a dress
97. Fly an airplane
98. Enjoy bathing suit shopping
99. Work at Disneyland
100. Paint a mural
101. Remember to breathe
102. Attend the Kentucky Derby
103. Adopt a greyhound
104. Write a play
105. Take a trip on a train
106. Make real lemonade
107. Wallpaper with my mom
108. Go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
109. Learn a martial art
110. Work in a library
111. Canoe in Minnesota
112. See Kodiak Island (from a boat)
113. Ride in a hot air balloon
114. Eat fried green tomatoes
115. Visit colonial Williamsburg
116. Eat real gelato
117. Stay at the Hotel Del Coronado
118. Have a white Christmas
Okay, so there are 118 items, accomplishments, things to do... and that's not all. I'm sure there will be more sometime very soon. And I hope this inspires lists in the hearts of all my friends. Just remember that nothing is too silly. The other day when visiting Cindy I managed to do number 52 right in the middle of her boyfriend's empty apartment! Impressive, huh? When I add more you'll all be the first to know.
Today I am bouncing with happy energy. *singing* No more teachers, no more books! *done singing* Yes, I finished my last class tonight at 5pm and promptly drove home to have dinner, pizza naturally, with Jonathan. And when we saw each other there was this sigh of relief in unison... apparently the poor boy had been going through sympathy stress for me.
But now it's over (with the exception of my finals... next week... three days in a row...), but if I think about those things this rosy feeling might leave. So, instead, I'm going to take my cue from Julie Andrews and share, with you dear friend, a few of my *singing once again* faaaaaaavorite things!
I promise, no more singing.
Let's start with cute kittens. Mine, l'il Disneyface, is the cutest of all. To me. And to Jon. And to everyone else who has ever seen his squishy face! We decided to put him up against the judgment of the world. Kittenwar is exactly what it sounds like. May the cutest kitten win! Well, so far at least, Disney is about 50/50. But what does the rest of the world know? One of the "winningest kittens" is this one... SQUEE!
How cute was that? Awwwwwww. Just be careful when you do visit the site. It's addicting. If you're really geeky (or you really love me) you may want to update yourself as to the current battle standing of Disney, Crypto and/or Disney and Crypto (our tag team attempt at knocking out all competition using both Crypto's weight and Disney's adorableness).
Continuing with my list... last week I got the chance to visit San Jose with the Ya-Yas! Our mission? To see the newly released Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. A girl flick to be sure, but a terrific one. I kid you not, though I entered the theater expecting it to be cheesy... when the end credits scrolled I was overcome with happiness. What a wonderful movie, full of everything that a good story needs. I won't give it away. Everyone should see it.
That same night Jon entered a bouldering competition at a nearby rock gym. He took first place in his division. I am sooooo proud of my climbing hubby!
And then the other night I invited my mom over for some dinner and girl time. I prepared Mexican food and margaritas, used my most colorful dishes, and played oldies. Casa del Camps! Mom and I had a great time just talking about everything under the sun. It's a little rough not living with her anymore, but we still get the chance to catch up every once in a while.
On Monday I received a card from my grandma! During my battle with the insane Human Development project that wreaked havoc on my life over the last few weeks, I felt compelled to reach out to her and let her know how much I appreciate everything she's ever done for me. I wanted her to know that she is a successful woman and a loved grandmother. (And what a grandmother! Here she is with all her grandkids except Ted... impressive. We're cute!) Her card expressed the same feelings to me and to Jon. She gave me wifely advice, told me some stories about her family history, enclosed a few black and white photos I'd never seen (very cool! I am such a sucker for old pictures!). It's neat to be penpals with my grandmother. She's got so much to share.
And on Monday we received a gift. Jon's mom, my mother-in-law, Debbie, is a very talented artist. As a wedding present she painted a portrait of Jon and me. It's a very unique painting, gorgeous! Jon and I are in our wedding attire, dancing and gazing at each other lovingly, but in the background is a nighttime setting of deep green hills and dark blue sky. Atop the highest hill is a fairy tale castle. Debbie included a bible verse in antique-style lettering, roses around the rim, so many very personal touches. She gave us an heirloom we're proud to possess, and will be proud to pass on someday. If possible I'll show it on here at some point.
At some point in the last week or so I've spoken to many of my close friends. Dan Burkhart is graduating from UCLA this coming weekend. Ryan Densberger is still hard at work. David Giusti is working and coaching basketball, too (I'm jealous! What an amazing experience it is to coach young people!). Erica Woehrle will be working at summer camp again this year. Jen Fraser is going to have a baby in just a couple more months! We're all in these very special, important places in our lives, and still we make time for one another. I'm amazed sometimes how close we've all remained. The Ya-Yas, to be sure, are the closest to me. But all of them have a special place in my heart. They help to make my little world a better, happier place.
These are a few of my favorite things. I feel wonderful. The summer is here, bringing sunshine and free time to Livermore and me. Over the next few weeks I have so much planned! Rodeo parades, work, Jon's travel, Vegas, camping, baseball games... OH SO MUCH! Thank God that school is out. I can breathe again! Hope my happiness has rubbed off on you, too.
After work on Sunday night, Amy and I drove down to San Jose to be with Cindy. "We can't be afraid to do what we know we have to do. Ya-ya!" Her boyfriend, Jason, had just left for Japan. Now, he won't be gone long, but she was hurting. Loneliness is something none of us do well with. Anyway, together we watched Pretty Woman and ate the chocolate I supplied from See's. Girl time, though, wasn't over.
Cindy came home with me that night. On Monday I wrote my paper while Cin read her book. We went downtown for coffee (er... diet Coke) and we completed a crossword puzzle! (Amy very kindly informed us that Monday's puzzle is always the easiest for the week... thank you so very much, Amy Lynn!) Fun, though, was still to come!
Jon took us all to the A's game! Terrific match. A's won after 11 innings and some hair-raising plays. Fireworks show was fabulous at the end, too. On Tuesday we went shopping! Oh, how we shopped. Nobody does it better. Because of the papers I've been working on recently I've developed an urge to wear hats. Not making sense? Sometime I'll explain more.
We're crazy, we Ya-Yas, at least sometimes. I've included a few pictures. The one at the top is, of course, of us wearing our own creations. Yay for hats! Below are pictures from the "Lingerie Shower" Cindy threw for me at her apartment in San Jose last summer. It's fun being girls, which, I suppose is my point.
The real purpose of this entry, though, is to offer my latest poem up to the universe. Inspired by the essence of the Ya-Yas... read on.
Funny Girls Wearing Hats
funny girls wearing hats
giggling 'till the break of dawn
this is what you see in us
not our fathom-deep hearts
not our grappling with life
not the times we dip tentative toes
we are moonbeams dancing
where no dancing is allowed
self-assuring as three
and scared of nothing but ourselves
and of loneliness
you gaze on our girlish times
but if you blink you might miss it
our deep red laughter like tomatoes
or a summer dawn
on a day so long
we can fill it double-full
with all our antics and adventures
a silver triangle, entwined with daring
spins 'till it looks like a circle of light
for even as you shake your head
a-wonderin' at our childish play
you're dazzled, inspired
waste not, want not, we say as we run
flying fleetly 'round our little town
singing only slightly off key
a song that rings a little bell
somewhere deep inside
and you begin to sing along
but we're gone again
a trail of pink and happy in our wake
that's what you see
we're women on our own, though
living hard and long
just like everybody else and you
but sometimes we're enchanted
by the presence of the other two
angelic demons prancing on the ridgepole of life
blowin' kisses and dandelions
beckoning to ourselves, our big selves
come and play!
that's when we don our hats
and suddenly we're youth
we're rootbeer popcicles and cotton candy
grass between your toes
if you can't beat 'em, join 'em
there's simply nothing else to do!
-Audrey Camp, 2005
And, because I just re-discovered this picture, and because Cindy doesn't read my blog nearly as often as she should and therefore must be punished... When Amy's wonderful sister, Heather, was getting married last July, she allowed Ames to bring "a date" to her wedding. Seeing as how choosing between the two of us would have been just awful, Amy persuaded Heather to let us both come. Never in the history of weddings has anyone made such a blunder. Cindy and I didn't want to be overwhelming. Maybe no one would notice Amy's two dates if they looked exactly alike. Uh-huh. You see where I'm going here. As twins we entered the church, the reception hall, the dance floor. What happened that night became legend. Think... ummmm... whirling dervish... times two... in short pink dresses and high heels! That was us. Oh, but that was exciting. Yes, Ames, we know you were proud.
The fresh spring wind tosses the tree branches playfully at the corner of College and Arroyo. There, barricaded behind rows of palm and cedar trees, is my church, the place where my faith was forged by God.
I am chilled by the breeze as I sit in the crooked arm of a low hanging branch. This is a wonderful place to think. Many great decisions have been made after an hour in this tree. I pondered the meaning of life, the importance of friends, the inevitability of death, where to have lunch...
Every Fourth of July my church holds a picnic for everyone under these trees. (The picture is of Jon on July 4, 2003. He IS juggling flamingos; your eyes are not playing tricks on you.) The cedars shelter us from the blistering Livermore heat while we enjoy our fair country and her birth. We shower the ground with countless watermelon seeds and scraps of busted water balloons, all beneath the natural canopy of green.
One summer a boy from our church was killed in a car accident. A man and his liquor were the perpetrators. The boy's memorial service was held at the church, and we welcomed hundreds through the doors to sit, think and remember. To grieve. When the air inside became too thick with loss for me to stand, I escaped back outside to the tree, seeking again answers I already knew. I sat in this tree next to a friend whose faith was stronger than mine. He comforted me.
Growing up brings revelations, but it remains full of questions that cannot be answered. A man I knew for years as a strong, good, honest man, committed suicide. I'll never know why, and neither will his wife. And that man's best friend, another whom I considered to be the best, most faithful Christian and husband, left his own wife and child for a reason I simply cannot find. Not even with the help of the tree.
Why does God allow us the choice to leave life behind? I've known a few who have taken advantage of that choice, leaving grief and confusion behind for their families and friends. Maybe that was their point? Oh, I wish I knew.
In the shade of this tree I stood in my senior ball gown, linking arms with my closest friends, as we celebrated our graduation. We smiled so brightly! Let's make this a memory, we all thought, not knowing that later on the quickness with which we left behind our own youth would be painful to recall. Not knowing we'd want our childhoods back.
At this church I was married. On my way through the doors before the ceremony, with my dress and veil streaming behind me, I tossed a glance over my shoulder towards the tree. It was there, sturdy and still on the lawn. For a moment I really wanted to stop, blink and pause the swirling world around me, walk between the people frozen in time on that happiest of days, and walk humbly to the tree. I longed for it all to be that simple. But in mere seconds I was up the aisle and handed over and vowing and married and kissed and gone. Done! No time for the tree that day.
Once I was kissed here. A nice boy who is now a good man got up the courage to take a kiss from me. Or perhaps he gave it to me, his first kiss. Either way, the memory is pleasant. My, I was young. My youth group played games here, frisbee and capture the flag in careless loops in the dark amongst the grove we took for granted. When our church raises its new building on a plot of ground not far from this place, leaving this property forever, these trees, this particular tree, will be what is missing even in the midst of all the modernity and hope for perfection.
I believe this tree is where God sits each day, watching the people drive right by and into their own lives. He waits for me and you and everyone. The children climb on him, shimmying up the trunk, bare up to twelve feet from the ground except for that one swooping branch, and they drop to the ground in gales of laughter during a game of tag. God loves to let them play. He loves to let us think and pray.
When I do stop to allow the tree to work its magic, my faith is energized. I am pushed to remember all my blessings, to count them and care about them. I sit and think about the questions, big and small, answered and unanswered, important and impossible. And then I walk back to my life and spend my soul dry with worry and anxiety in the same old groove. But the tree will always be there, beckoning to me from the corner of College and Arroyo. There it will be in front of the church where God pulled me through everything that has happened in my short lifetime; and there He'll wait for me to return and remember it with Him.