Sunday, October 30, 2005

Yes, I went out in public like this...

Dana as Cheetara

Perhaps not surprisingly, only one person last night recognized immediately whom I was dressed up as. Can you tell?

I'll give you a hint.

"Thundercats, HO!"

If you were born between 1977 and 1983, you really have no excuse for not recognizing that battle cry. Well, unless you were unfortunate enough to have parents who forbid you from watching TV as a young child.

I must admit, when I started researching this costume idea, I could not recall the character's name. I vaguely remembered Liono, of course, but the name "Cheetara" was not a detail that managed to stick in my memory from the days when I used to watch the cartoon. Still, I couldn't resist being her for Halloween.

And let me tell you, dressing up like her was no easy feat. Several trips to costume and fabric stores were required. And if you're thinking, "Huh, I wouldn't think those places even sold orange leotards and boot covers," you're right. I dyed the leotard myself and brushed off my pathetic sewing skills (and a travel sewing kit) to make the boot covers.

But it was all worth it. Even if no one really knew who I was, I think people appreciated the effort. And once I said "Thundercats," most people's reaction was "Oh yeah, of course!"

Here, the day after, with (most of) the orange grease paint off my face and the Aqua Net out of my hair, I am a little saddened that Halloween is over. Of course, it isn't really, but tomorrow is more for the kids than for us creepy 20-somethings who enjoy impersonating obscure cartoon characters from their own long-lost childhoods. We only get the nearest Saturday night for living out our bizarre fantasies.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Heeeeeeeeeeeere's Jackie!

Jack-o-lantern close up

Say hello to the newest addition to our home (and to our extensive collection of Halloween decorations...)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blue flowers are best

Aug. 30 - Getty garden blue flower

.. picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.

(Robert Frost, "A Late Walk.")

Friday, October 14, 2005

Saying Goodbye


Yesterday a moving van pulled up in front of this house and loaded up a small fraction of my parents' possessions (the rest of which they have weeded through and thrown away over the past few weeks.) My parents climbed into my dad's car and drove away, looking over their shoulders for the last time at a house they had lived in for 26 and a half years.

It was the only home I knew growing up. The only move I ever made was in fourth grade, when we painted what had been my parents' room pink and I lugged my stuffed animals across the hall from the much smaller room my brother and I had shared for 7 years.

When I called this house yesterday, no one picked up, not an even an answering machine. I realized there probably wasn't even a phone left to ring through the empty rooms. So I hung up and deleted the number from my list of contacts.

I realized, though, that I'll never forget that number, just like I'll never forget the strange, overgrown second back patio with the stone fireplace in the corner on the edge of our property or the way we used to bounce helium balloons up the ceiling of our staircase or the various spots in the living room where we put our Christmas trees over the years. These things are pretty much burned into my memory.

What amazes me most is how extremely opposite my feelings are about this latest development in my parents' lives. Never before have I felt so amazingly excited and so profoundly sad about an individual event.

Most of all, however, I am in awe of my parents' strength, courage, and sense of adventure. So many people have shaken their heads in wonder when I have told them what my parents are doing: ditching most of their worldly possessions, shipping the rest across the country with no known destination, hopping in the car for a two-week road trip during which they'll visit me, see their old stomping grounds (Kansas City and Boulder, Colorado, to mention a few), all with the hopes of finding a new place to call home in the town where they met and fell in love. How many sixty-year-olds do you know who would do something like that?

So each time I find myself teary-eyed about the loss of my childhood home, I end up marveling at what exactly my parents have set out to do. There's no denying that the sadness won't just disappear any time soon, but I think my admiration for my mom and dad will last a lot longer.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Are we really talking about geography?

Yesterday in my Medieval Autobiographical Writing class I admitted I had no idea what "hagiography" was. The class had been tossing it around for the past hour or so and I was lost. I'm not a good actress, so I thought I had better fess up to my ignorance.

The professor threw me a funny look and explained that it was the genre of literature that told the stories of saints' lives. It made sense. We're reading "La Vie de Saint Louis." But sue me, I had a brain fart. The long, many-syllabled word sounded as foreign to me as the Spanish and Italian words I've been bombarded with in my Romance Philology class.

But the student next to me turned my way and whispered, "Tu ne dis pas ca au professeur!" She was giggling but I felt my face flush nonetheless. Had I committed a major faux pas?

I'm always torn between trying to hide my obliviousness and admitting to it up front. Often I try to conceal it, but I don't think I do such a good job of fooling anyone. I guess part of me is a little more at ease showing how much I don't know because I have proven to most of the professors here that at least I am capable of working tirelessly at attempting to fill the gaping hole that is my lack of knowledge.

Maybe you're not supposed to admit to the teacher that you don't know what's going on. But I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only clueless one in the room. And every student knows what it's like to send silent thank-yous across the room to that sacrificial lamb who finally asked the stupid question everyone was thinking. And I'll gladly accept that responsibility once or twice. I never claimed to be a genius.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

In France, pigs say "Groin! Groin!"

St. Tropez - charcuterie

I'm trying to remember why it was I said I wished summer would finish up already. Because now it's grey and "cold" (I put the word in quotes because, really, 54 degrees in Chicago can not be referred to as cold) and I am wondering what happened to the balmy summer days of... the first half of this week. Sure, it was hot and humid, but the skin on my hands and lips wasn't parched and flaking off, and my toes didn't go numb while riding along the lakeshore.

So I'm posting this picture of a butcher shop sign in St. Tropez as a reminder of the summer, the long hot days I spent lounging on glamorous beaches in southern France, snacking on real cheese and baguette. I fear my pangs of nostalgia will only grow sharper once the real winter sets in...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

On Not Running the Marathon

This year I am not running the Chicago Marathon. You might think I have mixed feelings about this situation, that maybe I wish I were tapering this week, preparing my body for the big race this weekend, that maybe part of me yearns to huddle into the great throng of runners at the start, to hear the throbbing sound system play the inspiring pre-race music, that I feel I might have robbed myself of that glorious moment when the gun goes off and a great cheer rises up from the crowd as the mass of runners begins to move.

Well, you'd be wrong.

I can say with absolute certainty that I am unequivocally, 100% happy about my decision (if I ever really consciously made one) not to do this marathon. (At one point, perhaps I did say, as Jerry Seinfeld did, "I choose not to run.")

Part of this smugness, of course, comes from the fact that I did the Chicago Half Marathon a week and a half ago. I feel very satisfied with my time, so therefore I know my running self is alive and well. I have nothing to prove.

But the bulk of my contentment with my decision not to do this year's marathon is a result of the still-fresh memory of the pain I experienced last year. The pain in my legs, my feet, my stomach, my back, my fingernails. The intense, searing pain that distorted my perception of time, making the last hour of the race seem more like 3 days. And then the clenching, debilitating pain I felt the next day as I attempted to resume normal daily activities. And then the enduring, unrelenting pain that clung to my leg muscles for nearly two weeks afterward. Just knowing that I will not be living through this spectrum of pain again makes me giddy with delight.

Of course another great reason I have for not running is that now I have the opportunity to watch. I get to see the elite runners go through before everyone else, to observe in awe the gazelle-like strides of Deena Kastor and Alan Culpepper and all the big names.

I'm not saying I won't get a pang of jealousy as I watch those joyful throngs surge up LaSalle at the three-mile point. And I'm not saying I won't be inspired to start thinking about my next marathon after spectating this year. But I'm pretty sure I'll be reminded why I'm so happy about my non-runner status as I imagine all those beaming faces hitting the wall at mile 18. And I'll cheer them on as hard as I can.