Sunday, September 20, 2009

#13 The Beatles Sing-a-long at the Drafthouse

One of my favorite things to do in Austin is go to the Alamo Drafthouse. It isn't just a movie theater. It's an experience. It's food, drinks, midnight showings of Harry Potter and Twilight, singalongs, quote-alongs, dance-alongs. It is some of the best nights of my college life--spent singing at the top of my lungs to the Spice Girls at the Pop Princess Singalong or dancing on stage to Thriller at the Michael Jackson memorial singalong. It's sharing a pitcher of their famous sangria with best friends.

I've been going back to Austin a lot this summer, which I have jokingly referred to as my endless summer of unemployment. I plan to go back to Austin yet again in just a few days, so I've obviously been stalking the Drafthouse calendar for sometime now. Today I noticed that they are having a Beatles singalong, and I know that I must attend. Mom loved the Beatles (which I'm sure you've noticed by now with the Across the Universe and Abbey Road posts). I remember her telling me stories about her listening to the White Album and to "Why Don't We Do it in the Road" in her room as at 16 years old (and how much my grandma disapproved of the song).

Mom loved movies, too. I know she would love the Drafthouse. I never really thought about "going downtown" or anything like that with my mom, and maybe it wouldn't have been any fun at all, but when someone dies, you tend to imagine everything much more positively than realistically, and although I can't actually imagine dancing and singing with my mom in a drafthouse setting, I would like to think that maybe it would have been possible.

I hope it's a good singalong. I'm excited for it!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Unsolicited Advice.

Death is hard to talk about. It's scary, awkward and uncomfortable. I know. But, if someone close to you is dealing with losing someone, please, get over yourself. They will never remember how awkward it was. They will only remember that you were there.

I will never forget how appallingly I was treated by my friends after my mom died. I know we were only 16, but even teenagers should know common human decency. My sister, who was 22 at the time, had friends driving and flying in from all over the country, and I couldn't even get anyone in the same zip code to return my phone calls.

Thank you to the two friends who did attend my mom's funeral. It was too hard for me to talk to you, but I still remember it, and it meant a lot to me.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

For Ben.

Nine years later.

Note: this picture was taken my Freshman year in college for a Photography class I was taking. I don't exactly remember the assignment, but it was somehow appropriate. I also later used this picture, along with some other things, to gain entrance into the Texas Creative sequence. I know it's kind of dramatic, but I really love this picture.

#12 This...

I don't even know how to describe this. It is something so personal, so completely irreplaceable. My sister is the only person I've ever shared it's existence with, and I'm not even sure if she's seen it with her own eyes.

This was written in my day planner from 2003. I don't remember if I found it quickly after her death, or if years had passed, but regardless...

For as long as I can remember, my mom, sister and I have written each other little secret notes in the other's planner or notebook. We would snatch it up while the other was in a different room, flip to a random page, and write something, some little token of affection, or just a simple "so-and-so was here." Written in the space for July 11, 2003, the day she died, is a simple "I love you! Mom" in her gorgeous, unmistakable, familiar handwriting.

It freaked me out beyond words the first time I found it. I mean, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? I actually threw the book across the room and refused to go near it for a while. It still sort of creeps me out, but my sister insists that it is beautiful. I have to agree that it is so remarkable, and because I feel as though I must save every thing she ever touched, I will never get rid of this little token.

Monday, July 20, 2009

#11 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son

Maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on online things, but blogging has changed so much since 2003, and my mom loved being online, so I tend to focus on that subject a lot. 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son gives me hope for future generations of men, and it makes me wonder if she would've had a conversation with me about characteristics that make a good man, how to tell the difference, and how I deserve to be treated.

#10 SKYplay

Because. why not?

SKYplay photostream

#9 The Way I Spent My Inheritence

In January 2008, very impulsively, I applied for an internship at Paramount Pictures in London. I had never been abroad. I had never thought about working in the Entertainment industry. It just seemed right. After months of trying, pestering and interviewing, I got it, and in June 2008, I was off to London. I got on the plane by myself, and 14 hours later, I met up with strangers in Amsterdam. (They were in my program, but we hadn't met before then, so it just sounds cooler if I say it the other way..)

I spent the summer working at the most exciting job I could ever imagine, going to movie premieres, traveling to different countries, making new friends, trying new things, and taking on new adventures at every turn. I even met up with one of her online friends in Ireland that she was never able to meet. I know she would've loved that, too. I was so overwhelmed with beauty everywhere I went. I appreciated everything, and being alone a lot of the time was such a soul-searching and amazing experience.

On the 5 year anniversary of her death, I walked to St. Paul's Cathedral. I walked up the 900 stairs to the very top of the Cathedral dome and stared at all of London. I watched the Thames. I admired the Millennium Bridge and the Tate Modern. I soaked in the moment and captured every detail. When I finally went back downstairs, I went into the gift shop and they had the Desiderata and the 23rd Pslam on little wallet-sized notecards. I had done really well all day, but I almost lost it right then and there. I bought two of each and a card. I sat right smack down in the middle of the Cathedral, directly under it's magnificent dome, put in my earphones and set my iPod to play "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison as I wrote my sister a note on the notecard, and included the Desiderata for her.

As I was leaving, I remember that I wanted to stop and light a candle for her and say a prayer. The prayer area was closing, but the attendant let me in anyway. I sat silently for a few moments, lit my candle, wiped away a few silent tears and left. As I was standing outside, admiring the Cathedral a few minutes later, an older man came up to me and said something very profound and comforting. I don't remember exactly what. He had seen me in the prayer room a few minutes earlier. As I walked away, I was filled with such remorse for not telling him what the day was. I felt like I should've told somebody. Like it would've matter more. But I didn't. Because I never tell anyone.

I have so many amazing memories, and I know she would've loved to hear about every single one, but this in particular--it is just so, her. Me being there also would not have been possible without her (or without my dad and stepmom, who also helped more than I could ever thank them for!). I wasn't getting paid much at my internship, but I was able to make the summer happen by spending a good chunk of my inheritence and I don't regret it one bit, not even for a second, and she wouldn't either.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why this, Why now?

I am constantly inspired by my mom and my memories of her. Although I may not be strong enough, still, to paint a portrait of her (which I am determined to do one day), I have written, collaged, photographed, and expressed myself through every other creative outlet I could think of... None of it has ever been public, which is just the kind of person I am, and I'm not sure why it feels different now or why I feel like doing this.

This idea came to me when I was driving fast down a backroad in Austin a few weeks ago--windows down, music blaring, the scent of my new pina colada air freshener catching the wind just right. It was such a moment. Maybe it's just a quirk, but I always stop to notice perfect moments. I have a long list of the perfect moments in my life (see #7), and sometimes they are so simple, like the one that day. I thought of how much I would love it if she were there experiencing it with me, and then my mind started to wander... and this is what came of that.

Maybe this is a social experiment. Maybe this is my attempt at telling my story, letting people in, come out of hiding--whatever you want to call it. Or maybe I just need a new outlet to think. Whatever this is, I think that blogging about it is very appropriate, and is yet another thing my Mom would've loved.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

#8 the iPhone

Oh. my. god. My mom would have gone CRAZY over this phone/technology. In fact, I honestly believe that if Apple had come up with this brilliant device just 5 years earlier, my Mom might still be here today. But that's another story.

Let me start at the beginning.. We had a computer in our house for as long as I can remember. I played with DOS and the blue screen in between bouts of trying to beat Aladdin on our Super Nintendo. The first time I actually remember getting on the Internet was in 1997, when we still lived in Sherman. I think I was 10, 11? I chatted in Yahoo chat, using completely inappropriate screen names (of which I had no idea were inappropriate at the time). I made my first webpages with Angelfire. And it was my mom who introduced me to all of it. I remember it so vividly you'd think it was a turning point in my life, but then again, maybe it was.

Over the years, she became completely addicted to the Internet. She would spend hours in chat rooms and playing online games. My sister had already moved out, so this was something that only I witnessed. I've never really talked about how bad it got, and definitely don't plan to do that here, but I realize now that, because she was so mesmerized by the Internet, I became so, too. It was an outlet, and I was online as much as possible. Not only would I have killed for an iPhone when I was 15, I think my mom would've loved it, too. The idea of checking your email and being in contact with people CONSTANTLY is something she never even fathomed, I'm sure.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

#7 My List of Perfect Moments

Prepare yourself, this one is lengthy..

Besides being a brilliant writer, my mom was huge advocate of being grateful for the things we have in life. She encouraged us to keep a "gratitude journal" and to write two things down every day or every week of something in our life we were grateful for. Although I don't keep up with this very often, I'm pretty sure my sister does..

Over the past several years, I've developed my own sort of version of this. I have an on-going list of the most perfect moments in my life. Although time changes viewpoints and feelings on things, I try to keep the mindset I was in whenever it happened.. And here it is--something I've never shared with anyone else before:

1a) July 4 2008: Spending the 4th of July in London was amazing. I was working for Paramount Pictures and had the day off to do as I pleased. A friend and I went to the Texas Embassy for lunch to drink margaritas and eat the most God-awful queso I've ever had in my life. After lunch, we laid in Regents Park for hours--reading, talking, listening to music, and just enjoying the moment. Then we met up with a big group of people to go to TGIFridays (in London, mind you). Then it was off to Walkabout, an Australian dance club, for an American-themed foam party. We screamed the National Anthem at the top of our lungs and danced all night. To date, it is the best day of my life.

1b) July 13 2008: Sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower with my best friend from high school, staring at it in amazement. I took French for four years, and had been obsessed with the language, culture, art, country--everything, and it was so magnificent to FINALLY be there. It was Bastille Day and the Tower was sparkling blue and white. It was the most beautiful, perfect, content moment.

1c) March 2005: I am embarassed to admit this one, but even though times are so drastically different and feelings are non-existent now, I have to remember my 18 year old self and the passionate, all-consuming feelings I once had. I have to remember how beyond perfectly happy I was for that moment to finally happen after thinking about it for 6 years. The whole story is way too long and complicated to tell here, and even though every day it gets harder to remember feeling what I felt, I think back on it and it seems like a scene from a movie because it was so perfect. Although I will admit that I do tend to remember only the good parts. I think my mom would've loved to know that we finally met, even though she never knew about him, but she, above anyone else, would understand.

2) Two words: Spice. Girls.
My childhood was complete when I saw them in concert in December 2007. I cried. No, I'm not kidding.

3) June 2006: Seeing Cinderella's castle at Disney World for the first time.

4) Laying in front of the University of Texas Tower, underneath the Texas flag specifically on countless, gorgeous, cloudless Austin days.

5) Driving fast down backroads in Denison, Dallas, Austin, Sherman, etc--windows down, music blaring, shifting from 4th to 5th gear, sipping a big Diet Coke from Sonic. Add a gorgeous Texas day, a pina colada air freshener and a newly washed car and this is my HEAVEN, and yes, it is very specific.

This is mostly a mental list, and I'm sure there are many more, but it reminds me of what a fabulous life I've had. I've had so many adventures--most of which people will never know about. I have seen so many things and experienced even more.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

#6 My Sister and I's Relationship

First of all, I'm currently addicted to this blog, which had a link to this article about family phone quirks, and it got me thinking about how fabulous the quirks are between my sister and I. We have become so unbelievably close in the last few years--in fact, I don't think we really started to like each other until she left for college (and Mom and I moved to Alabama) in 1999. I guess not living together helps. ;)

To the best of my knowledge, our quirky relationship started to define during my freshman year in college in 2005. We started communicating in what is now a very elaborate language that we call "non-verbal," which is pretty much standard in every email and thank you card sent. (After Christmas last year, in lieu of a thank you note detailing why I liked everything I got from her, I'm pretty sure I just wrote "MAAROEW" really big in the middle and mailed it to her...) We also haven't addressed each other by our actual names in at least 4 years, instead we just call each other "Sister," even to people outside our family. We're going to have the creepy, cat-lady sister thing DOWN by the time we're 70.

Because I moved around so much growing up, I don't really have any friends that I've known longer than 6 years or so (that I'm still close to), which is probably why I cling to my sister so much. She's the only one who has any idea what I could be going through, and I don't know if I could have survived the past 6 years without her. Mom used to call Sister her "rock," and I know that she is mine, and I hope that I am her's.

My mom had two sisters, both of whom she was very close to growing up, and I know she would be so happy to know how close we are now, even though it was a rocky 18 years filled with clothes-stealing, Chucky-scaring, trunk-locking, devastating clown make-overs, and countless tantrums.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

#5 The Result of Harry Potter

This picture was taken on June 21, 2003--almost exactly three weeks before...well, you know.. This was my first midnight release party for the HP books. I had just moved to Dallas to live with my dad, so I went with my dad and stepmom to get the book at midnight. I won that hat for kicking ass and taking names in HP trivia. I was so excited.

My mom read the first four books, leaving off with Goblet of Fire. It's my 2nd favorite of all the series, so I'm glad she got to read it. However, she missed Harry's first kiss (..and mine, for that matter), the rise and fall of Voldemort, and my favorite of the books--Deathly Hallows.

I know it's silly, but Harry Potter is one of my favorite things, and I'm glad she got to read at least part of his story.

P.S. Please forgive the awkward picture.. I was 16. And I swear my teeth weren't as yellow as they appear.

#4 To be in this picture

And to have seen me become a 3rd generation Texas graduate!
(L to R: myself '09, my sister '03, my dad '74, and my grandmother (mom's mom) '44)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

#3 Postsecret

I don't know if it's the anonymity of the project, the creativity, the voyeuristic nature of spying into the private lives of others, or the sheer genius of this, but I know she would've loved it. And I bet she would've submitted a few secrets of her own.

Monday, June 29, 2009

#2 Across the Universe

This is my all-time favorite movie, and I can't help but wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that my mom would have LOVED this movie. A beautiful story set to Beatles music? Plus Jim Sturgess is adorable. And British.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

#1 iTunes

My mom was impulsive in almost everything she did. She knew what she wanted, and she wanted it then and there. Music was one of her favorite things, and it was absolutely no exception to this rule. If she couldn't find that particular Eagles CD she was craving to hear, we would buy another copy immediately. This habit eventually led to her owning at least 3 copies of every CD she ever purchased. And DVDs. And books.

iTunes would have blown her mind, and probably her bank account, too. I can imagine how amazing her iPod playlists would be. It would span decades of fabulous music, to which she would sing loudly and openly.