Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Tattoo

After a lot of research last night, I decided I wanted a cherry blossom branch as my new tattoo.  I'm sure it's no coincidence that a cherry blossom branch happened to be the first real painting I did, too.  I guess I must be partial to that particular tree.  I also decided that I wasn't going to get some dainty little thing that was just going to be floating around in the middle of my ankle like my rose--uh uh; it was 'go big or go home' this time around.  Today, we went to the tattoo parlor, and I told my artist (who was absolutely awesome--same guy who did Clint's) what I had in mind, and he was able to sketch out a design on my foot/ankle pretty quickly.  Once I approved it, he got to work.  It took almost exactly an hour-and-a-half.  He had estimated two hours, so shaving that extra half hour off was sheer bliss. 

The pain of getting this tattoo was much more intense than I expected, but maybe I'm just wimpier than I used to be.  The top of my foot was the worst.  The skin is so thin there, and there was just no barricade against that needle.  Nonetheless, I held it together the entire time...I spent the entire time joking around with Clint and the tattoo artist, singing songs in my head, counting spots on the ceiling, etc.  When the pain got real bad, I would just focus on relaxing my hands and arms (both of which kept tensing up), and I would try to imagine that they felt like water.  For some reason, doing this temporarily took me away from the pain.  One positive thing is that, although the first ten minutes is the longest (endorphins still waiting to kick in, maybe?), the time flies after that.  Those ninety minutes felt more like thirty.

Okay, enough chatter.  Here's the new tattoo....

My tattoo artist had just finished the tattoo when we took these pics, so my skin was still pink and raw.  Now that it's nine hours later, the flowers have more white in them that makes them pop out more and look much prettier.  The two largest blossoms closer to the top are what's actually covering up my old tattoo.  Overall, I am SO happy with the final product!  It's simple but dramatic.  And other than some initial shock I'm receiving from the older relatives, I'm getting a ton of positive feedback on this one.

After leaving the tattoo parlor, Clint and I were both feeling pretty famished.  Apparently self-mutilation works up an appetite.  Steve was stuck at Starbucks all day waiting for his car to be fixed, so we decided to meet him for lunch.  Much to my delight, he chose sushi (it's ridiculous how much I love the stuff now).  Clint had never tried sushi before, and he and Steve both ordered the all-you-can-eat special and pretty much ate themselves into a coma.  I, on the otherhand, ordered sane proportions of food, but that's neither here nor there.  Overall, lunch was definitely my favorite part of the day. 

Tomorrow I will be decorating Rose Floats in Pasadena from 1:00 p.m until 1:00 a.m (yep, A.M.!) with 25 middle schoolers and about 15 high-schoolers.  Wish me luck!   

Singing Feliz Navidad on a Train with Elves

I almost forgot--before I can officially move past Christmas, I have to post about our trip on the Polar Express.  A few days before Christmas, we went on a train ride from Filmore, California, to the North Pole.  But as luck would have it, the North Pole was only a half hour away from our departure station.  Here are a few pics:

 Getting ready to board (we all wore PJs, in case that's not evident in the pic)

 Me boarding the train (Moo took this one)

The conductor punching our tickets

 An elf ("Sparky") reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas"

 Mike, Moo, Carey, Nettie, and Lucas

 Teri, Trin, and Elijah

 The boys looking all innocent (they were being rowdy seconds before)

 Santa surprising the kids with candy canes

We also ate cookies and drank chocolate milk during our train ride, and sang a ton of Christmas carols.  They actually gave us sheets of music so that we could make requests.  There were a few off-list carols requested, such as Feliz Navidad, which was just damn hilarious because most of the passengers fudged the lyrics through the Spanish parts of the song, not really knowing the words.  "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" was another funny one.  When we got to the figgy pudding part of the song, people started changing the lyrics to "We won't go until we get some because we're selfish bastards who have a strange obsession with figgy pudding"...or something like that. 

There was one part of the night where the thought occurred to me, "I'm singing Feliz Navidad on a train at night with a bunch of elves."  I resisted the urge to pinch myself, because the whole thing seemed a little dream-like.  Seriously, if you have even a little bah-humbugness around the holidays, this train would have been your worst nightmare. 

Okay, now I'm done talking about Christmas.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sushi, Tattoos, & Christmas

I HAVE to do a "How Christmas went" post like, NOW.  It's almost a sin to be the owner of a regularly updated blog and not have mentioned how the holidays went by now. 

Okay, so I'll get to Christmas in a minute (haha, still procrastinating), but first I want to talk about the two things that are on my mind this very second.  Be forewarned, they're both pretty shallow: #1. I tried sushi for the first time, and #2. Tomorrow I will probably be getting a tattoo.

So #1, the sushi thing...there's nothing exceptional about that except for the fact that I don't really have what I'd call sophisticated taste buds, so I was never sure if I would like it.  I mean, it is raw fish, after all.  But yesterday, Becky and I decided to go out to lunch, and she suggested a sushi bar.  When I walked into the restaurant (which was beyond adorable), she was sitting at the bar and had already ordered us a bottle of this delicious rice-wine-stuff whose name I can no longer remember.  You drink it with these cute miniature china cups, and I remember off-handedly trying to estimate how many thimble-sized glasses one would have to consume to get sloshed.  Anyway, since I was new to the whole sushi experience, Becky ordered everything for us, and she couldn't have done a better job.  Everything was so delicious.  I'm actually craving more today.  We stayed for over two hours, enjoying the different varieties of sushi, itty-bitty cups of wine, and good conversation.  I also ordered a delicious hot tea that I think I must've downed eight cups of (ughhh, ending in a preposition.  Might have to come back and fix that later).  The only downfall to our lunch was the fact that I am clumsy with chopsticks, and the fact that I locked my keys in my car.  I don't know how I managed that one, considering it has remote entry.  When I called Clint to tell him that I had locked my keys in the car, he said "That's impossible."  I was thinking, "Well, hmmmm....there's a set of keys sitting dead-center of the passenger seat that would beg to differ."  He was a good sport about it though, and we used it as an excuse to treat ourselves to smoothies. 

#2 is easy to explain.  I have a small rose tattoo on my left ankle that I got on my 18th birthday, and I've been wanting to cover it up for years, but keep putting it off.  I think I have a little commitment phobia when it comes to choosing a new tattoo to cover it up with (damn, another preposition-ending...that's a stupid grammar rule anyway).  As one of my Christmas gifts, Clint made an appointment for me to get the new tattoo.  I'm actually really excited about it (minus the whole needle-pounding-into-my-flesh-over-and-over-part), because this gives me the push I need to get it done.  But, as of tonight, I still have no idea what I'm going to get, and the appointment is for 11:00 tomorrow.  This should be interesting.   
Christmas was so nice!  Clint's family came over for Christmas Eve, and we had our usual pajama party and breakfast for dinner.  Christmas morning we did our own nuclear family thing, and as usual, I think I was more excited to watch Trin and Elijah open up their gifts than they themselves were to open them.  After presents and breakfast, we got ready and headed over to my parents house.  Overall, it was an awesome day.  I hate to define the day in terms of "what I got", but I really scored with the gifts this year.  Clint gave me: the new generation iPod Nano (in pink--it is so tiny!), an iPod docking station that is constantly changing colors and is about the size of a tissue box, a set of twelve professional grade paintbrushes, a giant goldfish bowl (that one has a back story), one of my own paintings customized into a laptop skin, and of course the appointment to get my rose tattoo covered up.  My grandpa sews, and he made me three "artist" aprons to wear when I'm painting.  He also made me a beautiful cabinet for my bathroom (my grandpa is truly a Jack of all trades).  In addition to all that, my grandma gave me my great-grandmother's old oil painting set, including an antique wooden carrying case.  I didn't even know that my great-grandma painted, so it was thrilling to go through her set and see some of the things she was working on before she passed away.  None of this includes the lovely gifts I received from the rest of my family, but it's going to get really boring if I just prattle on and on about gifts, so I'll stop here.  Although I do have to add really quick that I got Shannon some new jeans, a new shirt, and a new pair of heels for Christmas.  I only bring this up because when I opened my Christmas gift from her, it was new pants (really cute black dikis), a new shirt, and a new pair of shoes.  We got each other the same gift.  I swear, sometimes it's like we're twins or something.

The best part of Christmas was watching my grandma open up the willow tree that I painted for her.  Her reaction went beyond my wildest expectations and almost made me cry.  She was so thrilled, and it was just adorable.  The second best part was playing Apples to Apples with the family.  It's a pretty hysterical game.  That, and eating prime rib for Christmas dinner, and drinking this delicious white chocolate coffee that my dad made.  The whole day was just incredibly nice.

Okay, I did my obligatory post-Christmas entry, which means that I can actually start talking about other un-holiday-related things for my next post.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thoroughbred Street & Goodbye

Aside from the United Airlines dilemma (which we are actually starting to lose sleep over), the last couple of weeks have been crazy fun.  On Wednesday night we went to a hockey game, which was a blast.  Hockey games are awesome to watch in person, but added to the thrill was the fact that we went as part of a private party through Carey's work.  Not only did we have the preferred balcony seating, but our party had an attached suite with our very own bar, pool table, all-you-can-eat food/drinks, and so on.  Not to mention there were attendants all over the place taking care of our every whim.  It's going to be tough going to a regular hockey game in the future after experiencing the high life.  I'm going to be like, "Huh?  I actually have to pay for these nachos?!"

Last week we went to a Christmas party down the hill (again, through Carey's work).  It was awesome--the food was delicious and the people there were so friendly and upbeat.  I remember I couldn't stop laughing the whole night.  At around 8:00 p.m., everyone from the party walked down to Thoroughbred Street to check out the neighborhood's famous Christmas lights.  Here are a few pictures, but obviously they don't do these displays justice.

Okay, I have to stop now before I end up plastering all 36 of them on here.  It was cool, because a lot of the neighbors were actually on their lawns, selling coffee, hot chocolate, and other treats.  And all the spectators were so festive and so much in awe.  I'd love to do this again every year.

On Sunday night we met Alana at La Casita for dinner to say our final goodbyes.  It felt bittersweet, but I think I held it together pretty well.  I just kept reminding myself that I was trading a really great local friend for a really great long-distance friend.  Alana will probably kill me for posting this, but here is the Christmas card she gave us when she left:

I had to post this, because Alana's words on the card sum up everything I feel about her, Matt, and the boys.  But I have to say, as far as goodbyes go, the whole thing was a really positive experience.  I think it's because we have every confidence that distance isn't going to be a deal-breaker for our friendship. 

I'm still not caught up on everything I wanted to write, but this entry's getting on the lengthy side, so I'm going to go play Just Dance now and take a bath. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It Only Took a Decade...

I finished report cards a couple hours ago and can't wait to start my break!  I'm so behind on this blog that it's probably going to take me a few entries to catch up, but for now, I'm just going to write about some news we just received.

Yesterday a Fed Ex package was delivered to Clint's parents' house from United Airlines.  As I've mentioned in the past, Clint used to work for United Airlines at Chicago O'Hare eleven years ago, but was furloughed after 9/11.  We always knew that "someday" he could get recalled, but after ten years, we had written it off.  Until yesterday.  After an entire decade, Fed Ex arrived with something we never imagined: Clint's recall notice.  For Chicago.  He now has six whole days to make a decision.

That being said, there's no way we're moving to Chicago.  As much of an adventure as the Midwest was, I'll never go back.  My life is here.  But Clint talked to a union rep for United Airlines today, and was told that if he accepts the job in Chicago, he can put in a bid for LAX, which will soon be hiring as well.  The downfall to all of this is Clint would initially have to work out of Chicago, and we really don't know how long it will take to get the transfer to L.A.  I could be a single mom for a few weeks, or a few months, or...indefinitely, really.  That's a little nerve-wracking.  Another big downfall is that once he does get the bid for LAX, he will be dealing with a huge daily commute.  These pitfalls should be enough for us to just say "No thanks," but the pros to the job are pretty damn positive.  Even though he worked for UAL for only one year, he would be returning to the job with eleven years of seniority and at full pay scale.  In other words, he'd be making good money.  Another huge advantage are the flight benefits.  United Airlines employees and their immediate families can fly anywhere in the world for free.  Of course it's standby only, but this never posed a problem for Clint and I ten years ago.  There was always room for us, and 90% of the time we flew first class (they immediately upgrade employees to first class if there's extra seats available).

I honestly don't know what we should do.  I'm trying to figure out if the flight benefits and extra pay are worth the stress of an exorbitant commute and crummy hours (he'd be back on graveyards again, and most likely working 6 and 2s).  Even with the ability to travel anywhere we wanted a decade ago and the associated fond memories, I don't remember that period of my life being entirely happy.

I have a lot of other things I want to write about (such as the fact that Alana and I said our final goodbyes), but I'll save it for my next entry.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Card 2011

Still have no time to write, but I just finished making our annual Christmas card, so I wanted to post it real quick.  I'll try to pay better attention to my poor neglected blog soon!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wild Grapes

I have so much I want to share from the last few days, but just can't seem to find the time.  I'll try to come back on here tomorrow night and write a decent entry, but until then, I want to share a quick excerpt from Robert Frost's "Wild Grapes."  On Saturday night I went out with Becky and Alana, and Becky had saved this poem on her phone because she wanted to share it with me.  She said that the poem reminded her of me.  I felt so touched that a poem would make her think about me, but even more than that, I absolutely love this stanza that she shared. 
I had not taken the first step in knowledge;
I had not learned to let go with the hands,
As still I have not learned to with the heart,
And have no wish to with the heart--nor need,
That I can see. The mind--is not the heart.
I may yet live, as I know others live,
To wish in vain to let go with the mind--
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me
That I need learn to let go with the heart.
Okay, better entry to follow soon.  Or if not "better", at least more long-winded.