Last Days

(Somewhat fictional, somewhat factual.)   The ICU was on the ninth floor of the hospital, at the very top. On the bad days, Lisa wouldn’t wait for the elevator, but would take the nine floors without stopping, and arrive in the waiting room certain that she might need to have the bed next to her brother. Steve had been here for the past two weeks, brought from the rehab hospital with a 103-degree fever. Two days after the move, she answered the phone to a nurse’s voice saying, “Steve has gone code blue, and we need your authorization to resuscitate him.” They were able to start his heart, but he never woke up after that.   So Lisa was sitting in a hard chair, staring at a photo of a stone caught in a stream, poised on the edge of a river, and ready to go over into the unknown water. Yep, one never knew when college would come in handy; she got metaphor and simile when she was 14, and finding a deeper meaning soon became second nature. This was both a light and darkness in her life; as an english literature major, everything had to mean something, whether she wanted it to or not.

“Lisa Solozzo?” Lisa made it to the window in a second and a half; the ICU nurse motioned to the door, and she walked over, opened the entrance, and walked in.   The darkened halls were painted white, and there was a light at the end. Just like heaven…or hell, Lisa thought, as she walked down the hall towards the nurses’ station. She knew where Steve’s room was, so she passed by the nurses, and glanced to her left, where he lay in the half-light of the various machines that were attached to his body.

She walked into his room, and looked at him. Steve had lost most of his weight that he had maintained over the years through alcohol, fast food, and dedicated couch surfing. As Lisa stood and watched her brother, she could swear that his hand moved. Nights of not sleeping, crying, and drinking enough gin to numb the pain had scrambled Lisa’s brain to the point that she knew she was seeing things. Steve’s hand hadn’t moved, and it wasn’t going to move. Lisa understood the first part of her thought, but not the second half. Steve would get up, and talk again, and get better, and everything would be all right.

But it wouldn’t be all right. As Lisa left the hospital room, and walked back to the waiting area, she felt as if she was the stone at the edge of the river, with no way to hold on to what she knew; soon she would lose her secure place and fall, and keep falling….and without Steve, she had no safe place to land.

Good intentions 2013

Just some things I was thinking of doing in 2013:

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1.  Read one book a month (except in the case of Les Miserables by Hugo, which may take two; it’s on my list, and in my stack)

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2.  Jazzercise (shopping for this outfit, by the way)

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3.  Yoga

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3.  Regular meditation

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4.  Crockpot Sunday!

5.  And this:

Philippians 4.8

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And one more quote to end 2012 for me: “Be excellent to each another.”  Party on…and happy New Year to us all.

2012 in review – Julie Wrote What?

If you like numbers, check out mine for 2012 – thanks to the kind peeps at Word Press!

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas list

Hanging out with the LBD (Paco, my ten pounds of terrier/chi terror), and seeing what the day brings. Jamal and I had a very nice time last night with the family, and today I just had a great visit with a long-time friend who stopped by with her husband.  We hadn’t talked in about five years, not because of any drama, mostly because life just kinda kept happening, and we didn’t keep up with each other.  I’m not the most Christmas-ey of people, but seeing Laury and Steve gave me a great gift of good cheer when I wasn’t looking for one today.

Can we look at the list now?

1.  It just seems to me that the Christmas crush was a bit more…pulpy this year.  Granted, it was a broad spectrum of behavior out there, and I’m certain that I allowed some of the bad behavior to affect me more than usual, but… it’s the holiday season, and so many horrible events have taken place recently, that it wouldn’t have killed you grinches (and you know who you are) to be a little nicer, to the retail staff, to other people in the parking lot, even to your own family.  Maybe you didn’t feel like it, but sometimes acting “as if” can put a person into a better sprit – never fear, crabby folk, we’ll give you a chance next year; just hope that everyone in your family is still here for you next year.  For the rest of you, who held places in line for strangers, who wished cashiers happy holidays, and who were aware that there were other people in your sphere of existence besides yourselves – your halos are showing; thank you.

2.  Seeing the Christmas lights is always my favorite part of the season; I love when they start appearing, and I get a little blue when they come down. What I find interesting (and a little bit scary) is the appearance of the enormous balloon figures on the lawns in our neighborhood:

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I gauged this Santa at ten feet tall, but he was taller than the house, so he was maybe more like fifteen.  And what’s a little odd about these decorations (maybe it’s just me) is that they are deflated during the day, then are inflated to monster size at night.  Seems like a Santa (or a giant penguin, like the one on my block) that could suffocate Mom and Dad and take the kids away to his evil workshop at the North Pole where Oogie Boogie lives; wait, I could be mixing up my movies….anyhow, it could be scary, dunno.

3.  I found a cool website: completely-coastal.com.  If you enjoy all things seaside, you will want to take a look; our Christmas tree is covered with seashells and mermaids, and my vision for the master bath (once the guest bath is finished) is that it will feel like the song “Under the Sea.”  (My husband Jamal is on board with my design taste, which is cool.)  And my taste is all over the place, so I have to be careful, because I like this:

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And I like this:

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My coastal living has a little bit of the apocalypse mixed in – works for me (and thankfully, for Jamal).

So I think that’s it for today; I missed writing here, so coming back is my shameless, self-promoting, self-centered gift to you.  And one size fits all! I wish you all good things today – let your heart be light, and I’ll see if I can do the same. Deal? Deal!

Au revoir mes amies!

Beginning today, “Julie Wrote What?” is going underground – I will be starting a new blog about the movies, of which the title has yet to be determined. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read “Julie Wrote What?”  I hope you will enjoy what I have  to say about the movies, and tell me what you think.  Bye for now, campers!

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New blog is “After The Picture Show,” and it’s up and running; hope to see you soon –

8 1/2 things

1.  I watched “Hanging Up” for the bajillionth time today; it’s with Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, and Lisa Kudrow, and Walter Matthau.  I cried at the end, like I always do, and the thing that keeps me coming back to this movie (aside from Meg Ryan’s floor-length camel coat, which I WANT in an unnatural way, and can’t even find anything remotely similar to) is that Walter Matthau reminds me of my father.  To be specific, Walter Matthau’s arms remind me of my dad’s arms – his relationship with Meg Ryan also hits a nerve.  I miss my dad every time I watch this movie.  I miss my dad, period.

2.  It’s summer in southern California, never mind the calendar. It’s warm, and dry, and breezy – no giant fires yet, but October isn’t over.  Our seasons should be renamed – Three Days of Rain, June Gloom, Hot like the Surface of the Sun, Still Hot, Fire Season, and Cold and Dry. (We’d go from four to six seasons, but at least they’d be more accurate.)

3.  Go see “Seven Psychopaths.” Don’t question me, just read about how good it is, and go.  This movie deserves attention; it’s well-written, funny, and has Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Colin Farrell (and Tom Waits with a bunny). Who else do you need for entertainment?

4.  I loved how the SF Giants ended their playoffs, 9-0, in the pouring rain.  I also love how they’re playing like bosses in the World Series.  I read a great line once, that baseball is a game of moments, and that’s how I appreciate the sport. And the last game in the NL playoffs was a moment; congratulations, guys.

5.  I have recently been listening to a huge amount of country music.  (When I say “huge,” I mean that before two weeks ago, I would be able to listen for about three songs of any country artist and have to tap out.) I will be back later to expand on this development, as I’m finding it very interesting, but have no way to account for it.  I believe that Joe Walsh may have something to do with it, as I watched him on an episode of “Crossroads,” playing alongside Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, and other country stars. I’m convinced  some  strange sort of transference occurred, because I will now listen all day. I will also take suggestions, as I’m all over the place right now…y’all. Uh-oh.

6.  The bathroom remodel is a go for Tuesday; our guy Mark estimates between three and four weeks.  To have a bathroom with walls, and a pretty shower and tub, after three years, hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Once it happens, I may continue writing from the bathtub, as I plan to take many long bubble baths after being deprived of them for so long.

7.  Please vote.  I won’t ask you to think the same way as I do, but I will ask you to go vote on November 6th (or sooner, if that’s what you do). If you are a woman, remember that we didn’t always have the right to vote, and that women fought, were jailed, and died, so that we could. Vote – vote – vote – vote – vote! It makes a difference.

8.  Knots of Love is a wonderful organization that accepts hand-knitted  and hand-crocheted caps and donates them to cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, so that they might feel better.  One of my caps was accepted by the organization, and sent to someone in Laguna Beach, so that they could wear it and feel better. I share this because it was important to me to do something that I love to do, and be able to help someone who needed comfort.  Also, I share it in case any of you are interested in knitting or crocheting caps for Knots of Love; their website is https://www.knotsoflove.org/.

Phew! Time for Italian food –  Ciao!

I am Julie’s nose

When I was about 19, I fractured my nose in a three-car accident.  On the way to the hospital, one of the paramedics said, “Oh, you broke your nose.” He could tell just from looking at me that it was broken, but apparently the doctor didn’t agree.  At 22, I decided to have my nose fixed – I’m not sure how it works today, but I had to meet with the doctor for a consultation before the surgery.  He asked me why I wanted to have the procedure, and I said that I had been in an accident, and that I wanted to look better.  We decided that it would be best not to change my nose too much, since my eyes were so large; he would just straighten it, and thin it out (I bounced off the steering wheel and dashboard in the accident).  After the surgery, the doctor said that when he started to sand down my nose, it basically broke, so apparently I had had a hairline fracture for three years.  I walked around with a bandage on my face for about a week, and when it was removed, I could see the difference.  Here’s a visual timeline of the state of my rhinoplasty (great word, right? Really boosted my confidence):

1.  Senior high school photo, before the accident – I was never as Greek as I was here, and the nose knows

1.  At 19; this could have been the year of the accident, but I think this was taken before it happened

2.  Post-accident, post-surgery; I think I was about 25, and a student at CSULB

3.  High school reunion, 37 or 38 – hard to see it, but the face seems to be holding up under the pressure of 40 looming on the horizon

4.  Took this one today

I have considered going back under the knife recently to smooth out the bump on my nose that seems to be more prominent than I would like; after some thought, I have decided against it, mostly because I just don’t want to go through that again. My mother used to tell me that my face had a lot of character; “beautiful” wasn’t part of her vocabulary when it came to anything, so I gave up waiting for that term to be applied.  I have learned to appreciate what I look like, and be grateful for things like good DNA (Mom never looked as old as she was, even at 87).

I am fond of saying that my forehead is going to look like Clint Eastwood’s pretty soon, and I am constantly trying to smooth out the frown lines with my fingers (I must have done a LOT of frowning in the last ten years, because it’s not just my skin that has frown lines – my bones feel wrinkled, so weird.)

I know that we all do things to make ourselves look younger; when I was at the doctor, having my consultation for my nose, he asked me if I would want to have implants in my jaw, since my chin was short, and the implants would give me a stronger jaw. I turned him down.  I knew even then that I didn’t want to put anything fake in my body (at least, anything that wasn’t necessary to be there for my health).

It’s a personal choice, and if you have surgery to look better, it’s your decision; I did it because I wanted to look better, so I get it. We color our hair, exercise, deny ourselves the food we really want, and do whatever else we think will make us look younger and better.  But so many women who have plastic surgery don’t look good – they keep going back to tweak their faces, and eventually, all of the emotion and spark is taken out, and they look….unreal. I think I’ll stick with my real-time appearance, for now. Now if someone figures out a way to reverse the gravitational pull on the rest of me, you know where to contact me…!

Hot enough for ya? Knit something!

We are experiencing a heat wave in southern California, and I sort of think that a lot of us can’t handle it; actually, we tend to go right off the rails when it comes to any type of weather that is outside of the range of 68-74 degrees.  I include myself in this focus group – I was born and grew up in California, and if the weather goes above 80 degrees, I whine; same if the weather goes below 60, although I prefer warmer weather to cold.

It’s not just the crabbiness, though; Californians have never been patient drivers, and when the heat gets to us, we get even worse.  I watched cars speed around other cars in the parking structure at Bella Terra this afternoon (the temperature was 91 at around 3:30) to rush to get a place to park.  We do the same thing when it’s raining – we behave with entitled arrogance here, as if no one else exists, much less matters.  Even though the sheen is officially off the Golden State, we still behave as if we live in the land of eternal sunshine and riches, in which we are all the stars of our own reality shows, rather than in a broke and broken state in which manners and courtesy don’t seem to be evident, having been replaced by the celebration of street level stupidity.

Maybe the heat is getting to me, too.

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I had a nice afternoon, in spite of the wicked weather. I went to Happy Nails at Bella Terra for a lovely pedicure done by Kayla, and my toes are remarkably cheered up, and so pretty! I also started working on a hat for Knots of Love, a charity that creates and donates knitted and crocheted hats to chemotherapy patients.  I’m grateful to do something with my knitting for a good cause, and also remember my father and sister-in-law, both of whom were lost to cancer. If you are interested in finding out more about Knots of Love, visit http://www.knotsoflove.org for information.

One-day Olympics clearance sale – everything must go!

Pick up one of these little goodies for yourself, but hurry, they’re going fast!

I loved the Olympic opening ceremonies.  I thought they were dark and strange  – and really cool:

The nurses and the poppies reminded me of the movie “Tommy,” and some of it reminded me of a Pink Floyd show, before the fans started crawling around on the floor and up the stairs during the concert (a story for another time).  And a segment on health care in an Olympics ceremony? Danny Boyle must be daft! God save the Queen! And speaking of the Sex Pistols, I noticed that during the music medley, NBC chose to cut away when “Pretty Vacant” started playing (excerpt below is from the  website http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/us-news-blog):

Punk goes pop

The Sex Pistols have long passed away from being subversive and instead become quintessentially British. But perhaps not as far as NBCwas concerned. Their song Pretty Vacant only made snatches of the broadcast either side of a break and was largely cut.

NBC did have to cut away for commercials; I just find their timing to be very interesting. I wonder if John Lydon had to give permission for the song to be used, or if he even owns the song any more, or if he even cares about it at all:

John Lydon – the man always has an opinion, even if it’s that he doesn’t give a rip.  Good thing he’s calmed down and become more dignified:

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I decided to stop worrying 24/7 a couple of days ago, and it’s going pretty well. I am a gold-medal worrier; I will worry about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, stuff that is going to happen, and if you ask me, I will worry for stuff that is happening or is going to happen to you, for no charge!  A couple of days ago, I surprised myself with a couple of non-worrisome hours (not in a row; baby steps!), and I felt great in a way that I hadn’t felt for years; being able to admit that I worry ALL the time actually makes me cry; it’s exhausting, and I finally figured out that I don’t want to do it anymore.  One of the side effects of not worrying is that my concentration has returned, so I’m not all over the place, and I am able to focus on what I’m doing, without wondering if I should be doing something else. For me, practicing not worrying involves a little self-talk and relaxation, as well as my understanding what needs to be worried about, and what doesn’t; it’s going to take some conscious effort, but I’m already feeling better, and I’m encouraged that in a few weeks, I will feel even better.

*****

This is kind of a neat little list, and I’m lucky in that I have all three:

Happiness is not a word that I throw around lightly – I like that this list makes happiness into something real and recognizable, for me, anyway.  Happiness doesn’t always wear a name tag, does it?  But this song might help you pick it out of the crowd of emotions in your day (sang it in sixth grade Glee Club, and never forgot it):

Dark Knight – the rising and the aftermath

I went to see “Dark Knight Rises” on Saturday with my husband, and although I know this  probably isn’t going to win me any friends, I didn’t think it was that good. Too much exposition, no grand cinematography, and exactly two scenes near the end that were close enough to what I was expecting from the movie to make me think that the last half hour had been directed by someone different than the first two hours, but I was wrong. The movie settled right back into its half-way long shots that didn’t astound me, and so much dialogue to build the story, instead of action to illustrate the story, that I got up and left twice, just to get a break from the endless stream of yammer – (not like Tarantino yammer, which I eat up like jellybeans; this was more like, oh, you need to know all of these details or you won’t know what’s happening, which makes me squirm).

I have seen every Batman movie from the first one with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and liked them in varying degrees.  I wonder about myself so often, and even now I wonder if what happened in Colorado affected what I thought of the movie.  I don’t think that it did, but I still wonder. And I wonder what was going on in James Holmes’ mind that night, and what had been going on his mind for so long that led him to the theatre that night. I think helplessness and rage are just two of the emotions that I’m feeling about what happened, along with being terribly sad.  My heart goes out to the victims and their families – there are no easy answers here,  just pain. I won’t stop going to the movies, and from the looks of the packed houses on Saturday night, most other people won’t stop, either.  The irony (for me, anyway) is that now one of the places that we could go to escape the pain of life has become another reminder of that pain.