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John is not the sort of person who rereads a lot of books. Once he’s finished it, he’s finished. With some exceptions. Same for movies–if he’s seen it, unless it’s been quite awhile or it’s a movie he really likes, that’s that.

I, on the other hand, am a rereader/rewatcher. There are very few books in my bookcase I haven’t read multiple times. I read them completely the first time, and after that, skim them in a “good parts version” where I skip boring parts but read most of the book. It’s something I’ve always done. So long as I still enjoy the story. More for my money, I suppose.

Something in “real life” will remind me of a passage from a book, and I tend to go and reread the book. If it’s part of a series, I tend to get sucked in and reread the whole thing. If I’m rereading, I can get through about 300 pages in 2-3 hours. It helps when you skip parts, I suppose.

I’m the same with movies. Not necessarily all of them, by any means. There’s some movies I’ll only watch once. Castaway, for example, or American Beauty–for some reason, now that I know the ending, I’ll never view the rest the same, so there’s no reason to rewatch it. However, with a lot of movies, I’m all about rewatching.

My favorite movies are ones I can watch over and over and over again. Maybe not back-to-back, but within a fairly short span of time. Of course, with John around, this hardly ever happens. But when he works late or on the weekend, and I’m not working or doing something else, I tend to rewatch a movie that he has no interest in watching.

Often, these fall into one of two categories. The first is just my all-time favorites. I love many things about these movies, and can watch them just about any time. In no particular order, those that come to me are:

  • Ocean’s Eleven (new one–I keep meaning to watch the old)
  • The Italian Job (ditto)
  • Princess Bride (ahh, true wuv)
  • Whole Nine Yards
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one, though the other two are good)
  • A Town Like Alice (this is a ridiculously long movie, something like 5 hours, but it’s so good–it’s my sick day movie for when I’m home all day in bed feeling gross but unable to sleep)
  • Night at the Roxbury
  • The Thomas Crown Affair
  • Usual Suspects

On a side note, it occurs to me that a lot of the above movies are about, among other things, revenge. Not physical, beat-’em-up, but more mind-games-revenge. I think what appeals to me is trying to figure out how they did whatever trick they pulled in the movie. Maybe. But maybe it’s just the revenge? Naw. I don’t think of myself as a particularly vengeful person. Verbally, to John, I probably am fairly vindictive about things that annoy me, but I’d never, for the most part, do anything about it. Maybe I have secret fantasies to, though? Hrm.

The second category is more movies I do love, but they also serve a purpose to me at times:

  • Emma
  • 10 Things I Hate About You
  • The Wedding Date
  • Sleepless in Seattle/You’ve Got Mail
  • When Harry Met Sally

With these movies, I tend to watch them when I’m feeling in one of two particular moods. The first is if I feel like I just sort of need to cry, to be a bit emotional and let it all out. Not necessarily that something in my life is making me sad and teary, but it can be cleansing in many ways to just have a good cry. You girls out there know what I’m talking about, right? And most of these movies are guaranteed to make me cry at some point. (I should point out, I’m a cryer at movies. Always have been. Always will be. No apologies.) The second is if I’m feeling a bit low and just need to feel good about something, with the “something” generally just being a happy ending.

John will generally watch most of the movies in the first category with me, if it’s been awhile. The second category, though, is where he draws the line. Poor boy. I try not to torture him, though.

Anyways, we recently discovered we could pay for an Xbox Live subscription and instantly stream movies from Netflix. Wonderful technology, that! Especially as John uses our Netflix subscription to get/watch all sorts of TV shows when he’s holding down the fort at
work and staying late. Now I can add movies and instantly watch them instead of never getting anything I want to watch on our queue. Voila! Wonderful!

Anyways, last night I randomly watched You’ve Got Mail. Not because I needed particularly to feel better or to cry, but mostly because I hadn’t watched it in a long time, and he worked late so it was the perfect opportunity. It made for a lovely little evening of “me time”.

And now, today, we got a little red envelope with Night at the Roxbury in it. Fun times! Especially because it means he was nice enough to not get his movie so I could get mine. He’s good to me, you know? And for me, too.

It’s only January 22nd and I just received my second purse of the year.

The first came from a friend/co-worker who went to India and brought me back a beautiful little hand bag–black with brown and purple fabric designs.

The second one came from a friend/co-worker who went to Taiwan and brought me back a bag that’s more purse-sized and has some beautiful needlework on it. It actually looks a lot like some of the handcrafted stuff that comes out of Guatemala–she told me that the tribal area that the bag came from has a lot of art similar to that of the natives of Guatemala.

My mother-in-law used to give me purses for every occasion. Some were functional. Some had fringe. It was the thought that counted. John eventually dropped a word in her ear that I had a number of purses and probably didn’t need any more. Tactful, that boy. Truthful, too, although not quite the whole truth. I think it helped that the purse I used for years did come from her, so she constantly saw me carrying it around.

When I helped a local middle school girl with her science project a few years back, she brought me a purse (also from India, I realize) with some lovely beadwork on it. Black, and perfect for fancy occasions. Now I just need some fancy occasions…

I appreciate all these gifts, don’t get me wrong, but it leaves me wondering if I look like a person who needs to carry a lot of stuff around. Or just a person who needs a purse. I dunno. Maybe it’s just the ubiquitous gift to give a girl.

Regardless, I’m starting a lovely international collection.

Yesterday we celebrated the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Today we inaugurate our first black president. Any one else out there appreciate the alignment of these?

Out with the monkey, in with THE MAN!!

It takes 23 days for a post card to get from The End of The Earth to the Bay Area.

Merry Christmas to you, too, Mommy and Daddy!

Apparently I jinxed the Sharks by talking about how they were a good team and all.

They lost last night for the first time in regulation play at home. (They’d had 3[?] overtime losses at home already.) Had to (theoretically) happen sometime, and as James F put it, everybody’s seen them win at home but we’ve seen them lose at home!

Bah.

Now hopefully they can get back on track and stop coasting along. It takes work to stay at the top, and that’s where we all want them come play off time.

Aside from the loss, though, we had a lot of fun. We had two sets of three seats, two rows apart, so we sat girls and boys, and were still close enough that we could call out to one another. Shelly, Cara and I had a blast, and I’m sure the boys did, too, although they might have paid marginally more attention to the game than us.

Also, our seats were back and above the Flames’ goalie for the first and third period, so we had good views of one of the goals and a lot of the scrimmages. And I swear the third goal that the Sharks scored in the third period, but that no one counted.

Apparently the folks in Toronto who review these things didn’t agree with us. Clearly the 17,000+ of us in attendance were right, too! Majority rules, right?

Happy Friday!

Given how I’m not a fan of being cold, I’m planning on wearing 14 jackets to the ice rink tonight. You think that will be enough?

James F, Cara, Nate, Shelly, John and myself are all going to see the San Jose Sharks play tonight against the Calgary (maybe?) Flames. If I have my facts right, the Sharks pounded the Flames last time they were here, but the Flames pounded the Sharks last time they traveled there. Should be an interesting game. Beforehand, we’re all headed to a bar down south for some drinks and happy hour appetizers for dinner. Should make an interesting game even better!

I’ve actually really started to become a fan of hockey, surprisingly. I had nothing against it, but didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of interest in it either. Then last year, we watched a lot of the playoffs that the Sharks were in with James F, who’s a huge fan. We really got into it, and this year have been watching a lot of the games.

In some ways, it’s been nice to have a team that’s doing ridiculously well to root for to go along with rooting for the Arizona men’s basketball team, which is not so hot this year. They were 9-3 in pre-conference, and opened the season 2-2, including the loss against Stanford. Boo. Those numbers aren’t too bad, but they’re not up to what Arizona should be capable of doing. They play UCLA tonight–I’m not holding my breath, though I am hoping for wireless at the HP Pavilion so I can keep an eye on the score on my iPod. I’m definitely not giving up on Arizona, and all things considered when it comes to Lute Olson and various players fleeing, they’ve been doing pretty damn well. But it has been nice to have a team like the Sharks to cheer for as well.

It doesn’t hurt, either, that there’s a number of good looking guys on the team, and I’ll admit that the fights are pretty fun to watch, too. Go Sharks!

Each time I’ve talked to my parents lately, it’s been frigidly cold, possibly snowing. I don’t miss that about Iowa.

I am, to be sure, a cold-blooded person. I require external sources of warmth to maintain my body heat, since clearly my metabolism isn’t up to the job. Bah.

That said, when my sister Amy posts a pic of herself making a snow angel in beautiful new foot-deep snow on Faceb**k, and my mom sends me an email about how the sun dogs were out this morning, and I think of how nice it is to play in the snow for a bit before heading inside to sit by the fire and thaw, then I miss Iowa.

Just a teeny tiny bit, but enough.

However, it’s only worth it when you can play outside or stay wrapped up inside. The moment you actually have to go about your daily life, it’s not quite so fun. Alas.

I know some of you were or are getting pounded with blizzard conditions and beyond-freezing cold, and I don’t mean to brag, but we had lovely weather this past weekend.

Saturday in Monterey was sunny and beautiful and warmish (60’s, maybe?). It was a perfect day to be outside–not so hot that our students risked heat exhaustion in their wetsuits (and we in our drysuits) on land, and not so cold that they kept freezing when they got out of the water. Our winter classes are often very hit-or-miss: either beautiful or horrible. Luckily, this one was beautiful

Three years ago this class, John and I helped with our first class ever. It’s a class we kindly refer to as “Bowling for Students”. The waves were rolling in and crashing into the breakwater, causing reflection waves that kept rolling in, but from a different angle. Waves were crashing up onto the steps we normally seat our students on. We attempted an entry with our three students, but the waves came rolling in. You can guess what happened from how we refer to this class, I’m sure. Needless to say, we all changed into street clothes and went out to breakfast.

Upon arriving at the ocean Saturday (at 6am, I’m listening to John next time about when to leave–better to be a bit late than half an hour early!), we found the exact same conditions. Rolling waves paired with a predicted extra-high tide. We had 11 students, 3 instructors and 3 divemasters. Piece of cake, sort of.

James M, luckily, anticipated the needs of his instructor and DIDN’T show up. Ah, bliss. Especially since last weekend, he showed up at the pool several times but failed to do anything but stand there, despite the fact that Shelly and I were lugging around tanks and trying to help students and whatnot. I snapped at him at one point–“Nice of you to show up just in time to not help”–to which he replied–“I’ve got a cold.” I walked off without pointing out that Ben was so sick he wasn’t in the water, but was there nonetheless helping on the topside, or that I had a cold and couldn’t clear but was still in the water doing what I could. He just made me so angry. I think we’re all getting to the point where we just don’t want to interact with him at all in a scuba situation, and possibly just don’t want to be friends with him at all. Bah.

Anyways…

James F and I took four students–two little girls and two women, one of whom had to be done by noon in order to fly to Cancun the next day. John went with Greg and three other students, one of whom was our obligatory idiot. And that’s putting it nicely. John always seems to get stuck working with the idiots, no matter who he pairs up with. I tried to switch with him, but he was being all gentlemanly about it.

The entries into the water went fairly well–the girl I was holding had to be hauled to her feet at one point, but she muscled through, which was pretty much the theme of the day. (I think most of the students made it in and out okay–maybe a few went to their knees, but no one got bowled over.) Both little girls had problems on the first dive, which was fine with me as my ears were pretty uncomfortable once I got down. Instead of pushing it, I took the two of them into shore. Luckily, John had been “babysitting” students on the surface and was available to help me get the two of them into the beach. I spent my surface interval getting them warm and comfortable and sorting out all the students.

For the second dive, I did the obligatory “babysitting” on the surface, since I wasn’t going down again, and John got to go down and swim around with the girls and James F. Apparently there were lots of crabs out and about, but not much else. Good visibility, 20 feet or so, and beautiful weather made for good diving, and the waves calmed down after the high tide peaked around 8:30, but apparently no sea life was out and about.

After lunch with our staff and a lot of students, John and I headed home to wash gear and take a nap, then spend the evening doing nothing at all, which felt marvelous.

On Sunday, John had to work and I was off to help Cara shoot our friend’s wedding. She’d picked a super-small venue, and thus had a limited guest list, so she’d snuck in a few extra people by having them be “staff”. Now, Cara’s a pro photographer, so she makes sense, but I was there as her assistant purely to attend the wedding. We had another beautiful sunny day, and the view from the winery we were at was gorgeous. It was a bit windy, but Cara got some beautiful pics of our friend’s veil blowing out behind her.

I mostly did a lot of people herding to get them ready for group pics that Cara was taking, as well as a certain amount of small things–carrying extra cameras and film (backup to the digital, smart girl!) and taking a few group candids with Cara’s small camera. All in all, helpful, I hope, and it was so lovely to see our friend get married. She had a beautiful location and ceremony and reception, and we were both so happy for her.

There was a bit of sadness–this is the same friend who’s little brother was killed back in August, and I handed out tissues to various people for both happy tears and sad tears. I know it was hard on my friend to get married without her brother present, but I’m sure he was there with her in spirit. That may not have helped a whole lot, but she got through the though moments.

It was a long day, as we were there from 11:30 to 6 (not including the drive there and back!) to capture her getting ready all the way to getting in the car and driving away at the end. I can see why Cara says it’s such a good workout! Plus, Cara and I got in a nice amount of gossip time both on the drive there and back, and at the points in the day when we took small breaks.

So that was my weekend–long and full, but I got to be outside in the beautiful weather quite a bit. The weather is nice all this week, though I’ll be mostly enjoying it via the windows at work, but I’m hoping for a bike ride or something fun this coming weekend. Best of all, I may finally be kicking this cold’s butt. Cross your fingers for me, eh?

I know the last thing you all want to read about (or, you know, ignore and mark ‘read’) late on a Friday afternoon is how I’m tired of this cold. But I am. Two and a half weeks of it is quite enough. The cough and sore throat are mostly gone, but the congested sinuses and runny nose (how the hell is that combination possible?) are still here. I’m feeling more energetic and ‘alive’, so that may be a good sign, but the symptoms remain. Bah. I do not have high hopes for diving tomorrow–sinus pressure generally eliminates the ability to equalize ear air spaces–think the squeeze feeling you get on planes that are ascending or descending, but worse. This makes the 4am wake-up-call even less bearable. I’ll most likely spend the day standing in the surf hauling students in and out of the waves. Bah again.

So some fun thoughts…..

I may be completely out of those. Alas, alack.

Some crap went down over the holidays and I’m waiting to see how it’s going to sort itself out. It involves some people I care a great deal about, and some people I could and would cheerfully throttle were it not for laws against that sort of thing. It’s not my story to tell, though, so I’m sort of wondering how much of it to make public. That said, I’m here to unburden myself, so I’m guessing you’ll get an earful one of these days.

And this big elephant in the room, combined with a cold and being back at work after two weeks off, just sucks. I’ve been sleeping a lot, and reading a lot, and working a lot, and not much else.

However, there’s diving tomorrow, and then a wedding on Sunday! Happy day! I will smile through all this and take my victories where I can. Hope you all are off to have a great weekend!

I spent seven hours in the pool yesterday, as our staff was teaching the first scuba course of 2009. We had 12 students. Thirteen hours in the pool over two days, immediately after flying home, was not how I’d envisioned spending my weekend. Especially with a head cold that kept me from descending below about 3-5 feet–I mostly floated at that level, directing the flow of students to instructors and other staff in the deep end, and keeping an eye on all the students in the shallows.

But somewhere along the line, it occurred to me what the day was.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the date we found out my mom had breast cancer.

I was at home–the Bay Area was getting hit with a huge storm, and I was hoping that it would die down a bit so I could get to work without getting soaked. It was a Friday.

My mom had had appointments the day after Christmas and the day after New Years Day. We’d been home for the one after Christmas, and knew she’d had a biopsy scheduled. When she called, I asked how she was. She told me the doctor had told her she had breast cancer. I told her I was sorry. She said she was likely having surgery sometime that week. I said I’d fly home. We only talked for a minute or two. She was calling family to let them know, and said we’d talk again soon.

I immediately burst into tears and started looking for plane tickets. Within a week, I was flying home to see her. Everything else–work, teaching scuba, going to the Arizona-Stanford game–suddenly seemed so freaking insignificant next to the fact that my mom was sick. Seriously–I could have happily flown home even if the entire Arizona men’s basketball team was coming to dinner at my house. Who the hell would have cared at that point? (Perhaps somewhat fittingly, Arizona played here at Stanford last night. They lost. That sucks, but I’d take my mom’s health and still having her in my life over a win any day, so I just kind of went with the flow.)

I remember the suppressed panic of the week before I went home, and of the first two days I was home, thinking the cancer was likely metastatic. I remember calling John and telling him that if it was, and if she really did have only a 2-year life expectancy, then we were having a kid. I wanted her to meet her grandchild if at all possible. I think I scared the crap out of him. I was pretty scared myself, though for many different reasons.

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office, taking notes in my mom’s book where she was recording all the critical facts and information, as the doctor told us it wasn’t metastatic. Stage 3C–the last stage before that horrible diagnosis–never sounded so good. My dad was late to the appointment–he’d been having a meeting with someone in my mom’s place. He got there just as we were leaving. I remember hugging my mom and dad and crying right there in the hallway. I remember thinking that regardless of all else, we’d been given a chance.

Now here we are, a year later, and my mom is the poster child for herceptin, the new breast cancer wonder drug. Six months of a three-mix chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, 5 weeks of radiation, and a year of herceptin (she’ll be done on the 20th), and we’re about as home free as we could possibly be.

All of us have come out the other side of this as stronger people and a stronger family. You never really know how much you can endure until you’re asked. Then you either do, or you don’t. What happens is up to you. And I think the people we love are often far stronger than we give them credit for–as nice as it would be to shoulder all their burdens and protect them, that’s not always possible, but I’m glad to find out we’re all come through this as relatively unscathed as possible.

My mom looks good these days–her hair has grown out and is marginally longer than a buzz cut. She’s got energy again. She’s talking about reconstruction surgery. This scares the crap out of me–she’s considering the option that involves the most intensive and longest surgery, but may be easiest in the long run. I know it’s her decision, and I respect that, but I can tell you I may be a basketcase for the 12 hours she’ll be in surgery. Gotta get a plane ticket booked again.

My dad, too, looks better–less stressed and worried than he was a year ago. I know he took over a lot of my mom’s teaching duties for the past year, as well as shouldering all the stuff at home she couldn’t do, so it’s nice to see him looking like more of his normal self.

It was nice to be with them again this year, without the spectre of the doctor’s appointments overshadowing us as we all celebrated the holidays. Granted, I went to two different doctor’s appointments, but nothing out of the ordinary. We had such a short time with my parents that I was just glad to see them at all. And to know she’ll be with us for hopefully a long time to come, and my dad, too, is easily the best present ever. Here’s to 2009 and better health for all!

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