Sunday, March 22, 2015

How did it get so late so soon?

At the World Center for Birds of Prey, 2007 


His nickname for me was "Spug" or "Little Spug."

When he answered the phone, he'd always say "Hey there, kid!"

When I was born, he had just turned 22 years old. That 22 year age difference always felt like less.

As we got older, I'd always joke that I'd be getting him a cane for his birthday. As I hit 18 and 21 and finally 30, he made the same jokes. He always sent me hilariously mean birthday cards, in his horrible handwriting. I'll never get to actually get him that cane now.

I used to read all of his 1960s-era science fiction books from when he was a kid. They were ridiculous Jetsons-type picture books for the most part. He would tell me the story of the year my grandma, who hadn't yet quit vodka, wrapped up these books (which he already owned) and gave them to him for Christmas.

For Christmas in 1994, I actually got him a lump of coal for Christmas.

I remember sitting on the couch and watching Star Trek: TNG while we ate salads of iceberg lettuce in 1950s-era bowls, which my grandma had pre-salted for us. I remember Whorf. It was my first exposure to Star Trek. I couldn't have been older than 7.

We used to spend hours going through Stephen Biesty's Incredible Cross-Sections (the 747 Jumbo Jet was my all-time favorite) and Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Man-Of-War.

We used to study maps together. He always had them around.

Once we took a drive north of Boise, to nowhere in particular. On the way, we saw a bald eagle flying along a river. It was a moment I'll never forget.

He's the one who got me into genealogy, and showed me how I could trace our family back to the Mayflower, the Plantagenets, Charlemagne. He also taught me about our Mormon ancestors, and the Butterfields, including the one who wrote Taps. He taught me the joy of my ancestors.

Some of my favorite memories involve the times he let me watch him play The Red Baron on his computer, and taught me to fly the plane using the joystick. He also helped buy me my first computer in 1991, a 286 that ran DOS, and taught me to play games like Cannons, Arachnophobia, Star Trek, Othello, Monopoly ... I can't thank him enough for this, because soon enough I moved on to SimCity, SimFarm, Carmen Sandiego, and eventually, to writing my first novel in WordPerfect at age 11.

When he and my grandparents came to live on "the farm" in Hillsboro, Oregon, in the early 90s, being closer to him was a huge and awesome benefit. When I was in 8th grade, he would take me to his office and let me use The Internet, which at the time was a brave new world. I would look up X-Files related stuff and print it all on his work printer. I'd print out hundreds of pages.

We'd spend ages and ages in bookstores together. After the age of the book had faded, he bought me my first Kindle, and he and I would make up for being Christmas Slackers by sending each other tons of books after Christmas had passed. I'll never send him a book again.

Once, we went to Powell's City of Books in Portland, and we lost each other. He had me paged over the intercom. I was so endlessly embarrassed. My name! On the speakers!

We always had a lot of things in common. Along with my grandma we formed "the Gemini trifecta," which led me to joke that when we spent time together, "everyone was talking at once and no one listened to each other." The truth was -- we were a really easygoing bunch when we all got together, we told a lot of jokes, we had a lot of wit, and we made sure never to get too serious or emotional. In hindsight, we should have gotten more serious and emotional. 

He introduced me to Jimmy Buffett, who I always gave him a great deal of shit about. He is the reason I went to the Caribbean in February; he loved the Caribbean. His days diving in the Caribbean were in the past, but I always wondered who he was on vacation. Our last conversations happened via text while I was in Mexico; I told him it made me feel closer to him, to be there, knowing it meant so much to him, hoping it would mean something to me, too. And we joked about Margaritaville. I said I would call him to tell him all about the trip. I was supposed to call last week, but I have really bad laryngitis, so I told him I'd call him when I got my voice back. I'll never be able to tell him about my trip. I'll never know who he was on vacation.

When my dad died, he was there for all of us on the awful journey from California to Utah. He was the one who held us all together, even though he'd lost his brother, his best friend. And afterward, we banded together, the young people left behind. He stopped smoking cigarettes, only smoked the occasional cigar, and started trying to take care of himself better. He made his own jerky and his own iced tea.

He showed me Close Encounters of the Third Kind on LaserDisc.

At my LDS baptism, when I was 11, I was so nervous before the ceremony. He was the only one there who was able to calm me down, even making me laugh, by joking that my grandfather resembled the Good Humor ice cream man.

Our status as the night owls of the family was pretty legendary. We'd be up until 2am, and we'd both sleep in until 11 -- that is, until they got the dogs. Then he would get up early with the dogs, and often he'd stop for doughnuts before I got up.

He loved doughnuts. We'd always go to the store together and pick some up. Shhhhhh, it's a secret.

When I was in high school, my parents went on a cruise, and he came to stay with me for a week. He ended up dressing me up in all of his Zulu War items. I can still remember how heavy the helmet was. He let me hold a bayonet that night. Don't tell your mom! 

He and my dad went to see Das Boot: the directors cut in the theater together. I think it was a million hours long, but they were so damn excited. They loved that movie.

He was a lefty, and before a certain age, we'd always sit in the wrong places at the dinner table and spend the meal slamming our elbows into each other.

The last time I visited, he brought me into his local gun shop, and I'm pretty sure he did it just to make me uncomfortable. He thought it was hilarious that I was such a crunchy, granola-eating hippie, and though we'd debate politics regularly, he never made me feel bad about my positions.

When I was a small child, he would baby-sit me, and famously showed me Jaws as a toddler and taught me that we call people we don't like "dildos." Not sure he baby-sat much after that.

He was complicit in the scenario that led to me watching Twin Peaks with my dad when I was 7 years old (only child problems, haha). After that, we'd always talk to each other in Twin Peaks references: "Where pies go when they die"; "The owls are not what they seem"; he used a Twin Peaks mug for the rest of his life. He loved it when I told him that "Every time I see a cookie wrapped in plastic, all I can think of is Laura Palmer!"

He was really good at finding good Chinese restaurants in the middle of suburbia.

A long time ago, he was given a pretty priceless Star Trek item at a convention -- basically, a hand-typed document written before TNG began airing, documenting the scope of the series, who all of the characters were, the style guides, things like that. He gave it to me in 2012.

He never, ever judged me. Ever. Even when the rest of the family felt like they were.

Every time I visited, we'd take the dogs on long walks. We'd talk about Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica and I could trust him with information I could never tell my grandparents. He kept my secrets 100% of the time, even when I was living in sin in San Francisco with various boyfriends. He helped me keep them after the web of lies my father constructed about me began to unravel.

He grew up with my father. They were brothers. He was 8 years younger. They had so many stories that only the two of them knew, and they could make each other laugh so hard they couldn't talk. They had wonderful childhoods together. Now they're both gone. How are they both gone?

.
.
.

And yet. They are both gone. And I think that's all I can say, for now. My heart is broken.



Monday, March 16, 2015

Project 365 | 061-75

Well, another two weeks has passed, and I haven't been able to get it together enough to write any other blog posts. My ongoing failure in this regard is pretty silly, but I've definitely been busy. I think what's holding me up has been the idea that I need to write about my trip. What I need is to stop putting myself to write about it, and for the writeup to be perfect. I just want to share some of my thoughts. After that, I have many things I'd like to share on here, like how I haven't had a drink in nearly three weeks (!), and how I need to get running again, and how I've started doing yoga again, and some of the great things about spring in San Francisco, and books I've been reading. I also have a huge backlog of food posts, which is really exciting. I've been cooking a ton! And then there are things like the cat cafe I'm going to be volunteering at ... I mean, seriously.

I'm trying really hard these days to change the things in my life that make me unhappy, and find ways to ground myself and be happier. 2015 is the year I really listen to myself, figure out where I want to be, and figure out how to get there, in so many ways. We're never done growing. I'm in better shape this year than I was last year. Spring is here and it's light later and yay.

Here are my shots from the last couple of weeks:

March 2nd: I got made fun of taking this photo by a dumb high school student. Who cares, whatever, get off my lawn

March 3rd: Look up, Berkeley (Spenger's Fish Grotto really looks like a boat at the top, who knew?!)

March 4th: I got a free afternoon off to run a work errand, so here's my bike at North Berkeley BART at 1:45pm. Empty.

March 5th: Sunset over Linden Alley, Hayes Valley. Beautiful. 

March 6th: An amazing, local blood orange from Twin Girls Farm. IT WAS SO GOOD. I've eaten 4 in the last 24 hours. 

March 7th: Playing with pigeons, capturing a beautiful pigeon in flight this morning at the farmers market. <3 <3 

March 8th: The roof from my old home in SoMa. I spent most of the day there on Sunday. 

March 9th: I went to a sunny yoga studio in Berkeley at lunchtime, and enjoyed a wonderful class. I am sore, you guys!

March 10th: It was such a grey day out today, but I found some gorgeous trees in full bloom outside the BART station. 

March 11th: I left work early, sick with a nasty cold -- but caught some gorgeous 11am light against the blooming trees. 

March 12th: on a sick day, I  actually went many places, trying to pick up healthy foods, do yoga, treat myself right. 

March 13th: this was the worst day of my illness. I could hardly breathe. It was hot and humid out. So: some flowers. 

March 14th: a warm, but less humid, Saturday evening in Hayes Valley. SO many people out. It was lovely--magical even.

March 15th: Sunday, early afternoon, on a walk to lunch. One of my favorite phrases written on the side of a paper box.

March 16th: a grey day in Berkeley; I walked around trying to find some inspiration. I love the color & geometry here.





Saturday, March 7, 2015

Project 365 | 046-60

GAH! I have meant to write so many blog posts between the last post and now, but I've been really busy shooting a music festival and all the other stuff that I do all the time (work, etc) -- plus, I've really been thinking deeply about creating meaningful content on the internet, and not just adding to the noise and junk out there. I don't want to post because I feel obligated to put up content. I want to post because I have something real to say or convey. Lately, that has meant I have nothing worth posting.

This week I've finally thought of things I'd like to post about -- self improvement type stuff, and a post about Isla Mujeres. I just figured out how to Airdrop photos from my phone to my computer, so that's a revelation that will hopefully make it easier for me to post phone photos. I really hate creating blog posts on my phone, and prefer to use my laptop, but most of my images are on my phone, so...yes. Anyway, I'm sure it's all about prioritizing stuff better, as usual.

Here are more of my photo a day shots. From the end of my Mexican adventure, to last Sunday.

Feb. 15th: My favorite day on the island. I rented a bike and biked around the entire thing. It was freeing & gorgeous.

Feb. 16th: my last look at Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres before heading to the airport and back to San Francisco. 

Feb. 17th: Home again in SF. I managed to find blossoms to inspire me on a cold, grey, foggy day. Welcome home, right?

Feb. 18th: More blossoms, this time in Berkeley, above a field of clover.  Still looking for my mojo after returning to work.

Feb. 19th: The most SPRINGY house ever, covered in gorgeous flowers of every type, Virginia Street in North Berkeley.

Feb. 20th: I found some crocuses blooming in Berkeley, which makes me very happy because they aren't that common here.

Feb. 21st: ASPARAGUS SEASON BEGINS at the farmers market! 

Feb. 22nd: Look up, Hayes Valley (note: I'm getting really into "look up" type photos, be forewarned)

Feb. 23rd: It was so windy on this day, I had a lot of trouble getting a photo that wasn't blurry. But FINALLY it happened!

Feb. 24th: One of my favorite trees in West Berkeley. I absolutely love photos like this, too. Working on composition.

Feb. 25th: The BART tracks in Oakland, on my commute home. 

Feb. 26th: a quote on the wall at Haas Pavilion at UC Berkeley. I went for a meeting. Reading this made me tear up <3

Feb. 27th: Fourth Street, Berkeley, in the full throes of spring now. So beautiful. 

Feb. 28th: San Francisco Bay from the ferry building

March 1st: Two Smart Cars parked next to each other in an amusing manner, as seen from my kitchen window. 



 
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