Archive for June 5th, 2008

Lessons from ALF

[Originally started on 5/20/08]
Where I talk about “the purge” and “sharing things” – specifically stuffed animals, etc.

I have purchased a house. A townhouse, actually, but a residence nonetheless. MC & I have purchased this together, and started moving at the beginning of May. We have since cleared her from her place, had four rooms painted and (as I am writing this) had some Ikea bookcases delivered (that just need to be assembled and placed).

Our garage now has a lot of “stuff” in it, and is currently more storage than “a place to keep a car”. And there is still a bit more stuff to come. At least, initially. I have been in the “old” house for almost nine years. Add into my stuff everything that I acquired with Jenn, and that is a LOT of stuff to go through. And my sister-in-law is moving into the house behind me (moving into the “old” house), so I have gotten to the point of just “get stuff out” without really going through it all.

But here is where the post finds its name. I have a LOT of stuff, which I both do not and can not keep all of. And it is the “sharing” of stuff that is the hard part. As silly/weird as it may sound, there is an existing emotional tie to a lot of things in the house. It’s something as simple as “it was Jenn’s”, to the more elaborate issue of remembering the back story of the item, when it was given, why it was given and any similar significant story associated with it.

Which is where ALF comes in, all the way from Melmac. For those that do not recall, there was a 1980’s series (called ALF), about a fuzzy alien crashes on Earth, and secretly lives with a family in the suburbs. In spun off a comic series, Saturday morning cartoon, and various other merchandising – including a line of stuffed ALF dolls.

Jenn had wanted one when she was a kid. She never got one while the show was on, but her grandmother remembered. One day, she found a doll that someone had discarded, and saved it. She took ALF home, cleaned it up, and gave it to Jenn. And Jenn was happy. And Jenn loved ALF.

Some time later, we were hit with Hurricane Floyd. Check the history reports, and see how much of Eastern NC was flooded. We were not (directly) affected, other than loss of power. No flood damage. But there were several around us that did. And one of those families, somewhat connected to Jenn’s family (a student of her mom’s, I think), was one of those families. They had a child that had lost all of his stuffed animals, and other toys. One night, they were brought over for a chance to take a shower (there were several members from this students extended family now staying ina small house) and clean up, and my future mother-in-law was putting together some food and other items for them to take back with them.

And Jenn heard about the boy. And she offered to let him pick from her small collection of animals, to let him start over. And he chose ALF. And he clung to ALF. And Jenn, despite the history of the doll, and the slight pain that she felt giving it up, was fine with it, and happy to let ALF go.

And that is the lesson I am trying to put into play, now. Some of the “stuff” is easy to let go of – the dishes, the furniture, the things that haven’t been used in years. But letting go of some things, even with the emotional attachments and recall, and letting it bring joy to someone else… that is the valley I am going through now. I still have a lot to go through, but thanks to a lesson from ALF, the journey is a little bit easier.

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Las Vegas, pt. 3 (The Trip Concludes)

[Originally started on 2/28/08. Photo added on 6/6/08.]

When last we left our weary travellers, here, they had returned to their hotel room after a windy walk back from the Venitian, where they had just seen Blue Man Group.

So, yes, it was a very windy walk back, and Blue Man was cool. And we were tired. And we went to bed.

And we slept late. Thursday, being what it was (birthday & Valentine’s Day), we happily slept in. We got up, went for a late breakfast, wandered around a little, and then returned to the room for an afternoon nap. We had dinner reservations for shortly after 6pm, so we got up around 4 to start getting ready (two showers, taxi in traffic… and allowing a little “fluff” time). We made it to Paris around 5:30-5:45, and killed a little time with some slot machines until presenting ourselves for the reservation.

The Eifel Tower was great. There was a “special” (limited) menu, and we sampled each others meals. Despite the smaller-sized portions (especially compared to the other Vegas meals we had experienced), it was easily enough to fill us up. We were positioned so we could face Bellagio, able to see the tops of the fountains when they would spray high enough. It was in this setting that I “officially” proposed.

After dinner, we were whisked away from France, back to Italy (via cab, from Paris back to the Venitian), where we had other, grander, festivities planned. As I have mentioned before, the trip planning started back in November. In looking at shows that were available, I decided to go on a limb and do something really cool as the icing for the birthday trip. Comedy is fun. Wayne Brady is funny. Put them together, and we had a ball. I got front row tickets (special VIP seating) for the show that night (which, it turns out, included a meet-and-greet after the show). We ended up sitting almost center stage (about two seats off center).

The show itself was awesome. It was set up in two distinct segments. After the initial “welcome to the show” montage, there were a few “Whose Line” style games that were played. After a brief intermission, it was all music – an homage sequence (song & dance) to his various R&B/Soul influences, including James Brown (among others). This is my one true regret about not writing these when I actually wanted to (right after the trip), because the details that were fresh then, are fuzzy now – like Wayne & the male dancers in the show all dressed like Tina Turner for a number, and MC’s comment that the female dancers were “real dancers” (changing styles as easily as the music could change), and how funny & stupid drunk (audience) people can be – especially when associated with improv comedy!

During the “Meet & Greet”, though, as we were near the end of the line waiting for the photo op and autograph, was one ofthe cooler experiences of the show, for me. MC went first, and they were chatting a little about it being her birthday, and that the trip and show were for her. Wayne looked at me, and extended his hand. Now, the specific words are lost, but it was something to the effect of “You are the man.”

[edit: 6/6/08 – click on the picture to get a bigger version.]

We (MC & I) walked back to the hotel, laughing and reliving moments from the show, and prepared to call it a night.

Friday was our “open” day – we had nothing planned, short of using some of the day to shop and pack. We had been debating for most of the week about trying to take in one more show – George Carlin (in town for a couple of nights doing a work through, preparing to film an HBO special). We seriously considered it, but were just too tired to try and go to the show (way off of the strip), and still get ready to fly back the next day.

So we just spent all day shopping, wandering around another mall that was across another street from our hotel. It was in this other mall that we secured a couple of items. MC wanted to get me something, and we wandered into a Cross (pen) store. I had been reading Neil Gaiman’s site (he states that he does a lot of his writing with fountain pens), and I had been thinking about trying one out. So I have a nice, lightly used (now) pen, crying to be put to the page… but that’s for another story…

The other (much more significant) find in the roaming of that “other” mall were the rings. We had been looking all over, here, trying to find just the right rings, and kept coming up short. While walking around the shops in Vegas we were looking, just to see what was around, and came up big in one of the last shops we decided to look into – and we got all of the rings at the same time! We stopped of for a snack before trekking back to the hotel (a stuffed pastry wrap and a “bubble tea” – interesting). We packed some, but still had a few more people “unaccounted for” in the gift area.

We went back to the shops around the Venitian for dinner, and poked around for ideas for the remaining people on our list, finishing off the shopping before it was too late. Back to the hotel to begin the packing adventure, which we eventually finished, and called it a night.

Our shuttle to the airport was scheduled for around 8, so we were up around 6:30, getting dressed and finished packing the “incidentals” that couldn’t be packed away the night before. We ate breakfast at the hotel buffett, and strolled out into the brisk desert morning to wait for the transport to arrive. The ride back to the airport, like the one to the hotel, was cool for the exposure of stuff “behind” the strip.

And it was annoying, because of the nagging old lady that was sitting behind us for the entire ride. She had been out there with a goup of folks, and has been several times before, but she didn’t really seem to have anything nice to say – and her friends really didn’t have a chance to say anything else once they got her started. MC & I looked at each other, and exchanged our comments after they had left the bus.

The flight back was long (direct, so no chance to stretch legs) and full. I did manage to get quite a bit of Grapes read by the end of the week – mostly on the plane (I was down to the last hundred or so pages by the time we landed). We drove home, after calling the hotel shuttle to collect our plane-weary bodies from the airport.

And that was Vegas. With no Elvis. Go, us!

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Ahh… Finally!

Back from a brief hiatus – mostly work induced, although things at the house have been a bit interesting as well.

Saw Indiana Jones on opening night. Like Harrison Ford said, “It’s a good yarn.” It was okay, as a story goes, but proably the weakest of the series.

In other movies, I am looking forward to Iron Man (if it’s still out?), Hulk, Caspian (if it’s still out, too? – but I need to watch Wardrobe, first)… and there are several others that look like they may be interesting to see… but I also have a full Netflix queue to work through (and more stuff that I want to add to it… aargh!)

I finally finished Brief History of the Dead. Moving and finishing up classes had been sapping a lot of my “reading time”. Very cool premise, initally. It was very well written, but the ending was a little bit of a bummer (read: sad ending). I have now switched gears back to Gaiman, and Neverwhere. and the first half of the year is almost over.

As I mentioned “classes”, I got an “A” and a “B”, which I may have mentioned before… if not, there you go.

A spin-off of the Script class I had been taking, though, is that I have started a writing group (read: I asked if anyone was interested in still getting together after the semester ended). The initial premise is as a script writing “support group”, but we also do other forms as well (mostly fiction, but to each their own). The initial membership is drawn from the Script class, and are some of the folks that thought still getting together would be good. But, it is a start, and starting is the important part!

I am planning on taking a “Fiction Writing” course in the fall (re-taking is a more accurate phrasing, since I have, technically, taken the course before – but with a different instructor, and as an undergrad), and I am nervous, but looking forward to it.

But, I have a lot of things kicking around, ideas that are in various stages. I actually wrote a short story yesterday – the first one I had tried writing in years (everything else has been leaning towards much longer).

Something I am wanting to add to my list if “things” is a collection of works by the end of the summer. Short stories, novels-in-progress, and scripts-in-progress – screen, maybe a graphic novel (or two), and I want to try some stage plays and skits. Completed works would be better, but I would rather splinter some of my efforts a little, and have several things going at one time. I just need to refocus on keeping a “calendar” to help keep me on task.

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