Sunday, June 22, 2014

Garage Sale Haul

I’ve lived in my city for three summers now, and this year was the first time I realized there were neighborhood garage sales nearby.

The weather was beautiful, one of those Michigan summer days where it was in the high 70s and mercifully the humidity was relatively low too, so it felt somewhere around low 80s. A blessing for early June. It made walking the five-block circuit of sales enjoyable instead of a sweat soaked struggle. And they were those awesome kind of garage sales filled with old antique sewing machines and fine china. Even if I have no use for such things, they were cool to look at.

One particular house was selling a host of wingback chairs, seemingly a yard designed to lure me in (I’ve been looking for that type of chair for my office since forever). At first, I fell in love with a white, jacquard patterned set with matching footstool, but they were obviously new, and the seller wanted $150 for them. I was working with $20, so I had to walk away. But I circled the yard hopeful, and hidden off to the side next to the books table was this beauty:

It’s old and stained and not my style in the least, but it was … wait for it … $3. My first thought was that someone must’ve died in it. There was nothing wrong with it aside from the stains, the bottom held, and the wooden legs were in tact. Why so cheap? Me and my worst-case-scenario mind were thinking I was going to be lured in by its cheapness and bring a haunted chair into my home.

Luckily, it’s been in my house for two weeks now, and there’s been no uptick in the supernatural. My fears seemed to be unfounded. Now, my only concern is how successful my first attempt at upholstery is going to be. I want the chair to be my statement piece in my office. Right now my room is of the black and white variety with my inspiration wall and book spines the only bits of color. I was thinking this fabric, maybe: 

Click pic for Amazon link

Speaking of books, I found these for $1.25. 

Yes, I picked up a Norton Anthology as a throwback to my academic days. The other two are a gift for my grandma—who doesn’t love Agatha Christie?

Bonus pic of Punkin on her throne. 
Anyone hit any garage sales or have any valuable re-upholstery tips?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Birthday Catharsis

I’ve spent the last year of my life trying to lose weight, dealing with ramped up anxiety and panic attacks, feeling nauseous on a day-to-day basis, worrying about womb health considering my female processes went out of whack right when I decided I wanted a baby, dieting all kinds of different ways, visiting doctors once a month, adjusting medication, trying to find a job, trying to find time for the job I have, balancing the budget with a partner who’s job is only temporary …

If reading that paragraph exhausted you, try living it.

I didn’t unload all of this on the blog because a lot of it was shrouded in negativity and fear, and I just didn’t want to create some kind of space for that. Dedicating post after post to my problems seemed somehow counterproductive to solving them.

But I’m human and I have issues and sometimes I need to vent those issues. Besides, how can I really celebrate my successes if I can’t look at what I’ve overcome to achieve them.

I turned 27 last week. 27’s not my favorite number, but it could be worse. I’m not going to sit here and write about how I’m not where I thought I’d be. At age 5, I thought I’d grow up to be some kind of modern day Picasso; I failed that mission awhile ago (I’m ok with it). So I thought my 27th birthday could be more cathartic. Sort of a farewell to the shitty 26.

It was also my second week without gluten, so I had to substitute the real joy of a cupcake with a gluten free one worth double my weight in calories—I ate it with no shame and no stomach ache after, win win!

I ate the fattening fake cupcake with its pound of icing; I accepted that I’m not 21 anymore and this whole weight loss thing is going to take a lot more work this go; I realized that in the grand scheme of my anxiety, I’m managing the best I have in the past four years; I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.

And this year is already starting with a win, because finally, after a year and a half, I’ve lost 6 pounds in the past week.

Here’s to being 27 and things actually changing.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Monthly Visits

A certain complacency comes about mid cancer treatment when it is going well. My dad had just completed his third round of chemo, and his was going extremely well the last time I visited home. So well that I’d almost forgotten he was sick at all.

            The gruesome picture of a cancer patient didn’t, and still doesn’t, fit my dad. He had all his hair. He still worked sixty hours a week. He still went golfing and mowed the lawn on Saturdays. He looked healthy, healthy enough to spend the morning out on the boat enjoying the sun and catching fish. Chemo, at least outwardly, hadn’t had much of a lasting effect on him.

            Seeing him was comforting. I could almost pretend he didn’t have cancer. My mom had tried to reassure me over the phone every week that he was doing fine, but being two hours away and unable to see him for myself, the only thing I had to go off was that other picture of a cancer patient. Spending the weekend with him and watching him do things in a distinctively non-cancer way was reassuring and solidified the fact that everything was going to be fine.

            When I went home, I felt safe in the memory of that weekend with him. I think it was the first time I’d visited post diagnosis that my eyes didn’t tear up on the way home. My dad was going to be ok.

            Scrolling through my Facebook feed later that week, my sense of security was erased when I saw that a good friend’s father had passed away from Lymphoma.

            I remembered going to the bar the weekend I came home after finding out about my dad’s diagnosis. I’d gone to meet up with some old friends and told them why I’d come home at such an odd time of year. As soon as I told them about his Lymphoma, my friend told me about his father battling the same cancer for the third time.

            All I could think at the time was great, another part of the cancer process to fear: its reoccurrence. I wanted to pick my friend’s brain then, find out all the inns and outs of his father’s cancer battles, but I also didn’t want to know. I wasn’t ready to know. I still lived in the world of denial where this whole cancer thing was a joke or a mistake. The doctor’s were going to retest and find out it was really just swelling or that his results got mixed up with someone else’s (not that I’d wish the diagnosis on anyone). In the end, I didn’t ask him anything. I told him I hoped his father won his fight just as desperately as I hoped my father won his.

It’s hard, now, to place the two men side by side. My dad sitting outside on a sunny Saturday night shooting the shit with a few beers while another dad sits dying in a hospital bed, both with the same killer running through their veins. I feel selfish that I’m the one sitting in a lawn chair instead of a hospital one. But also eternally grateful.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Charlie Countryman Movie Review

LJ over at A Journey East started a movie club, and Charlie Countryman was June’s film pick (Watch her YouTube review here). I’ve been wanting to watch that one, so I thought I’d give it a go, too.

Charlie Countryman stars Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, and Mads Mikkelsen. Rupert Grint also makes a side appearance. The film, directed by Fredrik Bond, follows Charlie after the death of his mother whose spirit tells him to go to Bucharest. On the plane there, he connects with a man sitting next to him who dies before landing. His spirit tells Charlie to deliver a message to his daughter. From there, Charlie is set on a journey of finding himself and love and what he’s willing to go through for those things.  

This one checked a lot of boxes for me as I am a sucker for indie-films and an even bigger sucker for character studies.

Visually, there was a concentration on close ups and what was happening in the characters faces, which the actors delivered; Shia LaBeouf really shines in this role, I think. His and Wood’s emotions were all right there, playing on the surface. I also like the homage to Romania. When the camera did pan out, it definitely showed off the gritty beauty of the area. I also loved some of the subtleties. Charlie does a lot of running, and there was one part where he looks over as he’s running to see graffiti of a running stick figure next to him and he kind of gives it a nod; a great visual touch.

Plot wise, I can say I wasn’t completely on board with the intensity of the love story. The amount of time they knew each other didn’t really justify the lengths he went to for me (vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything as I still feel it is worth the watch). I did like the action/Nigel plot line. I think it would’ve been equally interesting, if not maybe more, to have the film center on Wood’s character instead of LaBeouf’s. Mikkelsen is terrifying as he is in most his roles, and that plot line would’ve showcased him more (Does anyone else feel like there’s something creepy about Mikkelsen in general? He’s probably the nicest guy in real life, but something about him would scare me if I ran into him in any dark setting.).

Although, I wouldn’t discount Charlie’s role, either. I’m about to layout some SPOILERS here, so if you don’t want to know, skip to the bottom.

I liked the imagery the ending represented, at least my interpretation of it. I felt like he went to Romania as a lost guy who was searching for a way to fill the hole his mother’s death left behind. He’s broken and confused and he meets this girl who’s kind of equally messed up, if not more. And, by the end, through loving this girl and also discovering his own bravery through her, he risks his life for her and his belief in them, popping up out of the water all clean and happy and renewed. Anyone else feeling a baptismal vibe there? If you think about it, he was literally shattered and bleeding as he went in, and he emerged blood free and smiling.


All and all, I give it a 7 out of 10. Even if I wasn’t fully on board with the love story, I think the visual beauty is worth a watch, the acting is great, there are some heartbreaking moments as well as some funny ones—thank you Rupert Grint and James Buckley—but I didn’t feel like I got enough of all the characters to really flesh it all out and make me care about them and understand the depth of the situation.