Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back in the saddle again

Well, I'm home again, in San Francisco. I won't lie, I love this city, but I was not looking forward to my return to it. I had a good, solid time in Whittier, and I felt rested and more centered and, if not happier, just... more level, I guess.

Highlights include:

I finally, finally watched "O Lucky Man," a movie that my dad has been referencing for as long as I can remember, and which only recently was released on DVD. Watching it had the same climactic import as when I first saw "Diner," Dad's actual favorite movie, which I had previously seen only in selectively edited segments. I had probably seen about half the movie multiple times before I ever saw the movie. By climactic import though, I actual mean that it was climactic, not a letdown like things that are built up that much normally are. It was a funny and bizarre movie, and Malcolm McDowell was really fantastic in it, and I gained new appreciation for him. "You have eyes like Steve McQueen." Also, young Helen Mirren is a fox.

Also on the movie front, I watched "Ghost World," which I'd actually seen before, with my sister, and hated. Here's the weird part: I think we hated it because we thought we were supposed to like and/or identify with the main characters. But the reality is they aren't that likable, so once you give up that sort of audience want, you can just relax and enjoy the movie, which is actually pretty damn good and funny. Steve Buscemi has the kind of pathos that Bill Murray normally is lauded for, only in perhaps a more surprising way. And as my dad and I noted, it has Bob Balaban in it, and who doesn't love Bob Balaban? (Once we thought we saw him in a London airport, but the man in question was on a trans-terminal hotel bus and got off at the Holiday Inn, so, you make your own conclusions.)

I have to admit that several times during my stay I thought to myself, maybe those Victorians had it right -- perhaps a young woman staying at her parents' house until marriage isn't a half bad plan. Just because I got more sleep and ate better, and never had more than 2 drinks a night. Health! A novel concept.

I also managed to get two books read, which was less than I would have liked but still a pretty good total, especially since the second book I read in about 24 hours. (It was "The God of Small Things," and yes, Casey, you were so right, I hate myself for not reading this years ago, it was fantastic. Although that doesn't feel like the right word... I think I summed it up best on my review: "beautiful and sad.") So that's 2 "From the Stacks" books down! And I gained some new appreciation for the whole "From the Stacks" concept. I felt like the books I read were so good because I was being rewarded for paying attention to them at last (like children who patiently wait for a cookie and get the whole thing, instead of getting half of it faster, which is actually some famous psychology study that I don't remember any more details of, even whether or not the study was connected to intelligence or aggression or blah blah blah). I really did feel a smug sense of moral satisfaction upon finishing each one, like I was being a good reader at last. Now, at home, I am looking at my bookshelf and it's kind of daunting and tempting all at the same time. I tend to look at it grumpily, because it doesn't have exactly what I want at whatever time, but comparing it to my bookshelf (my own bookshelf) at home I really do feel like I have a great collection here. (My bookshelf at home is surprisingly full of YA books I've read already, or books I read -- actually read -- for class, whereas this shelf is primarily new acquisitions and guilty leftovers from classes I somehow winged my way through.)

A surprising highlight? Going through all of the papers and souvenirs and toys and stuff that have collected for my entire life in our garage. I found so many little hilarities. I only wish I'd had the time to get them together and scan them or something and send them to people who would appreciate them. I don't think Bethany reads this, but damn, were we hilarious girls. And I re-discovered my whole academic history, too, from first grade to parts of college, and that experience was sort of horrifying and comforting at the same time. Because! I was looking at papers or notes from just a few years ago -- junior year -- and I realized that I had learned more since then and therefore understood them better. That is a very comforting thought, that whole lifelong learning thing that is so easily mockable.

So now I am home. I made myself a BLT for a very late lunch, and then spent my afternoon and early evening watching "The Lives of Others," which was pretty heartbreaking, and also made me realize that I really have terrible understanding of what it was to live in the USSR during the Cold War. I sort of always think that the real atrocities of communism happened like, prior to 1970, and anything afterwards I think of as falling into one of these categories: China, air strike drills, the fall of the Berlin wall (which is a nebulous non-Communism Communism), and Russia itself (somehow this is different in my head from East Germany, hence my terrible ignorance). So basically I just had no idea how bad it was to be part of the Eastern Bloc. This was a good eye-opener. My "dinner" was some of this leek-potato soup Dan made and a bit of a scallop (also made by Dan). It was supplemented by a bit of wine, though, so I'm not starving myself or anything. Plus, Rayna (a certain someone's ladyfriend; I am reluctant to categorize her in print since it's really not my deal) was here and I feel like I actually got to talk to her for the first time sort of. Usually I feel like I'm babbling at her, but tonight I felt that there was mutual babble, which was good, and I like her, so that's also good.

I am, however, of course, rethinking my life (when am I not?). I hereby vow to do more things "for myself," as they say, and I am sticking to my ban on coffee and soda (except on special occasions, and I still have to figure out what the hell I'm going to order in bars if not a coke-and-something), and I'm going to finally exercise again. That will be a big step, and I think I'm actually ready for it. At least, I say that now.

Anyway, at the moment I still kind of feel like I'm on vacation. I lounged all evening, and it's a little hard to realize that I'm going to be at work in 12 hours. (Yikes!) So with that, I retire. I've got a plan: either my annual "Love Actually" viewing, or a few episodes of Arrested Development, recently rescued from my parents' house (I had loaned them like a year before) and now back in their rightful home. Hurrah! All is well.


el super said...

ok so i was forced to give up coke when i lived in the co-op of no soda machine. And i didint' drink juice cuz i didn't want to get sugar fat. And i have to say that giving up coke, even if it was just diet was like one of the best things i ever did. I mean, when i went home last week i did have coke all the time at liek 10am, but my point is...i think it's a good idea.

Anonymous said...

ordering in bars is easy, just don't order anything mixed. wine, martini ( ok kinda mixed ) beer, scotch rocks or anything rocks w/twist. Mixing anything with coke makes me wretch,is that how you spell wretch, it don't look right?
the only occasional exception is a good Marguerita (again, not sure of the spelling)