Thursday, October 21, 2010

Call Me Katamari

I've decided, in all my recent purging of nostalgia, my nickname should be katamari - I'm a rolling, highly adhesive ball collecting junk as I tumble along hoping to become a star.

Check out: TomPreston (DeviantArt) Nintendo Katamari Cartoon

Recently I took a trip back to my stomping grounds in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where my parents and my husband's parents still live 5 minutes away from each other. My folks think they're edging closer to putting the house on the market, and all summer I had hoped to visit them but then I went and did that preschool thing, so the time finally seemed right to make the journey home and start sorting, throwing out, recycling, and donating my stuff that has stayed behind the last several years.

Which, of course, meant Man Week for my husband.

I planned the trip to overlap my good friend Cait's baby shower in Chicago and surprise her there, and I also had friends to see in Indianapolis area (including my friend Mark on Saturday, my other pregnant friend Jess with her son Liam and our friend Mike on Sunday, and my friend Jac Piette speak at Purdue on Tuesday about her experience in the animation film industry), and also friends to see in Fort Wayne (where my pregnant high school friend Julie lives with her husband), so I got my flight through Indy and rented a car for 10/2-10/10 to cover all my bases.

Liam providing "Duck Dinner" to all the little ducks behind our house.

Hanging out at Purdue with my family and Jac before her presentation

The PU Bell Tower, where Naveen and I decided to start dating

Other fun moments at home

I fully intended to fly home in time for a friend's wedding on Sunday afternoon in PA. But then on Friday, as I was out to lunch with Julie, my plans took twist number one: I found out that Launch didn't need me to come in the following week. Working there has been really cool, by the way. For two weeks I've really enjoyed the people and getting an awesome breakfast in the morning, and being in the city, learning new things, being part of a commercial pre-production team - but one of the things I like least about freelance is the unpredictability. I don't know from week to week whether I have work or not, and frankly that does bug me a little. Don't get me wrong, I like the flexibility that comes with it, but it's really hard to plan ahead. Like in this case, if I had known that, I would have simply booked a 2-week trip home. After talking with Julie about it, and realizing there was still so much to be done at the house, I decided I wanted to push my flight. I was glad to come to that decision because it meant that Julie and I could go to lunch together again the following week. After lunch we went to Target together and she gave me some tips on what to get my friend Cait off of her baby registry, speaking from personal experience with her sister's pregnancy advice and now being pregnant herself. We had a nice time catching up.

I got home and started dialing Expedia when the unthinkable twist number two happened. A call interrupted my dialing, and I saw it was my friend Jess. I answered very bubbly, excited from seeing her the past Sunday and meeting her two-year-old Liam for the first time. However, her voice did not answer me - it was Kevin, her husband who had just started his year in Korea with the air force last month. At first I was ecstatic to hear his voice, but it quickly fell to pieces as he told me that there had been a problem with the baby girl and she had been stillborn on Thursday morning. The air force (and the American Red Cross) got him home quickly enough that he got a chance to hold her that night. It was a shocking, devastating blow, especially since the baby was due December 1, just another month away. I pushed my flight and extended my car rental, but other than that I spent most of the rest of the day crying and wondering how that kind of thing could happen. I had an awfully hard time putting it out of my mind the very next day on my drive and visit to Chicago for my friend Cait's baby shower (also due in one month). I was fairly relieved there were so many other friends and family there (some who also surprised her like I did) so that I could hold it together and be happy for her as I have been these last several months. I also made a fairly impromptu visit with Kedari and her brother Harikiran (who was running the Chicago marathon the next day), and had a really good time unwinding with them for a couple hours before making the trek back to Fort Wayne. It was a tough ride home in the Indiana darkness, late into the wee hours, but I was so thankful to get to see them and talk about everything.

Cait's shower

Thankfully Jess and Kevin are incredibly strong people with amazing focus on their future, and with Liam they understand the importance of projecting constructive energy rather than allowing themselves to fall into complete despair (as I fear I would, at least for a while, had I been in their shoes). They definitely grieved for her, but they felt strongly that something wasn't right with her heart and that this just wasn't meant to be.

Dominique's memorial

They named her Dominique (after St. Dominic) and held a memorial for her on Monday in Fishers (near Indy), which I attended. It was comforting to see both of them doing so well, watching Liam steal the spotlight, seeing our friend Crystal who I hadn't seen in years. It was good to see Jess and Kevin together, since the last time had been at our Hindu wedding two years ago to the day (I got an awkwardly funny "Happy Anniversary" moment). Despite the tragedy, we had a wonderful visit, with laughs and memories, and Kevin's hilarious stories about hashing in a foreign country (meeting at a bar with a bunch of guys, some of whom are deemed hares and run off into the night, and the rest are deemed hounds who must follow the trails, or clues left in chalk on the ground, until they finally meet up at the final drinking destination). I was so thankful to be there with them and to swap good memories to help us move on again.

Staying the extra week also allowed me to be home in front of a live television broadcast of the historical overnight rescue of 33 miners in Copiapo, Chile.

So back to the at-home cleanup effort. Besides leaving behind useful furniture that belongs to my folks anyway, I have collected and saved all kinds of memorabilia from my childhood. I used to be REALLY bad about saving things - cocktail napkins from airplane trips I was excited about, wrappers of favorite special candy from faraway places, scraps of paper or leftover materials I believed I'd use for crafts, etc. Those kind of things I was able to get rid of when I was in college. However, I still kept hundreds of school papers, cg magazines, SIGGRAPH swag, and more. I came across a lot of forgotten things... In fact, here are some of the highlights:

  • $20 in a high school graduation card
  • A friend's college senior project (and yes he wants it sent to him!)
  • About 15 SNES game instruction booklets
  • Reply letter from Nintendo's Megan Faris (Gameplay Counselor) wishing me happy birthday and comparing our favorite games
  • Reminder note for my Indy eye appointment July 22, 2002 at 10am
  • Funny poem I scribbled on a piece of paper (probably something I heard and wanted to remember) - The limerick packs laughs anatomical / into space that is quite economical / but the good ones I've seen / so seldom are clean / and the clean ones so seldom are comical.

  • 3 carefully drafted 8th grade English papers riddled in Mrs. Applen's red pen, the toughest class of my childhood
  • My first flipbook animation of a stick figure turning into a flower vine then back to a smiley stick figure, on the back of Grandma's Rite Realty contact cards
  • Things I brought back from the month I spent teaching a cg workshop in Poland
  • About a dozen dried roses

  • 1 so-called "bookish" paper in which Mrs. Applen accused me of plagiarism when I had spent a week or more trying my best to use more adult and intelligent language
  • Another dozen or so dried flowers (used to be a "thing" for me)
  • About a gadgillion wedding magazines
  • Gateway 2000 Computer with Win98 OS
  • 1995 Calendar from my church growing up, St. Vincent de Paul
  • A Giant box of college/tech school admissions marketing books and dvds, mostly from schools like AAU, SCAD, USC, Cal Arts, Pratt, Art Center, and Full Sail (all great schools)
  • Countless progress report cards, assignment planner notebooks, and school newsletters
  • Century Pride fundraising brochure with cheese, sausage, and chocolate selections
  • Keyboarding class papers from 7th grade, showing 20-30 gwam
  • Claire's receipt from 6/23/2006 when I had to have my ears re-pierced
  • Class Royale memory book where my name wasn't published
  • Ferngully seed packet from a Pizza Hut promotion back in 1992
  • Receipts from sending demo reels by mail or other carriers through the years
  • Random assortment of colored or specialty envelopes that once held greeting cards
  • VHS tapes from college like Independence Day, MIB, Erin Brochovich, Elizabeth, Air Force One, 10 Things I Hate About You, Wedding Singer, A League of Their Own, Little Women, Rain Man, Patch Adams, Matrix (all), Apollo 13, Romeo & Juliet, Stuart Little, Schindler's List, Good Will Hunting, Hearts In Atlantis, Shrek, Jack, A PBS Vietnam Story, Volcano, Bowling for Columbine, "The Circus" with Charlie Chaplan, Man on the Moon, Cast Away, Twilight Zone Episodes, Bridget Jones Diary, My Dog Skip, Lilo & Stitch, Fantasia 2000, Walt Disney's Old Yeller, Paris When It Sizzles

And the absolutely laughable, gets-its-own-category:
  • Cassette tapes from back in the day: Club Cutz (Everything T-Empo's Key Lime Pie Mix, Don't Stop Me Now Extended Power Mix, Lookin Up West End Mix, Movin Up Extended Version, Can You Feel It Ultimate Club Edit, Wait For Our Love to Find Us Extended Version, Scatman, Basic Radio, Love Me The Right Way Real Rapino 12" Mix, Gotta Find Love 7" Radio Mix, Let Me In Your Heart Full Mix, Macarena Bayside Boys Remix, I Was Made For Loving You Club Mix), KWS Please Don't Go (The Album), 20 Greatest Hits of 1964 (Highland Records), Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams Are Made of This) from 1983, The Wallflowers - Bringing Down the Horse, Billy Joel - River of Dreams, Autographs - A collection of favorites by popular artists (Tony Bennet, Shawn Colvin, Gloria Estefan, Kenny G, Luther Vandross, Kenny Loggins, Celine Dion, Jon Secada, Taylor Dane, and Basia), Sheryl Crow (includes If It Makes You Happy, Every Day Is A Winding Road), Gloria Estefan - Destiny, Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Bruce Springsteen - Dancing in the Dark, Kenny G - Kenny G, Wayanay - Andes Cosmos, Wayanay - The Magic Music of the Andes - Tee Pee Encounters Catacoma, Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Premiere Collection Encore, Nature Quest - An Adventure in Nature and Music - The Power of Beethoven, Gene Autry - Everyone's a Child At Christmas, Random House's Story of the Nutcracker Ballet / Nutcracker Suite, Oasis - Definitely Maybe, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (with Donny Osmond), Highlights from The Phantom of the Opera (original cast recording with Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, Steve Barton), Tim Weisberg - Night Rider, Hootie & the Blowfish - Cracked Rear View; Soundtrack Music from the Motion Pictures - Top Gun, One Fine Day, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Don Juan DeMarco (Score & Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman)...

So you can see even just a tiny bit how necessary it was for me to go home and take care of these things. There is still more to do - yearbooks, figurines, and even some clothes that have come in handy when I'm visiting home - but those will have to wait for next time. :)

And so, with all that in mind, I will sign off as yours truly,

Oh. PS, Hubby picked me up in a suit when I returned home, in lieu of flowers, considering I may try to dry them and keep them in our apartment. Cute. :) He always makes me laugh.