Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is there such a thing as too many movies?

Is it possible to see too many movies? I guess there are people out there that think that the number of movies I watch is a waste of time. But... I like movies. I like the stories, the cinematography, the sets, the costumes, and sometimes the actors. The more movies I watch, the more I appreciate the effort that goes into a good movie.

It's not like I watch every movie that is released. In fact, I don't watch all that many mainstream movies because I find them formulaic. I tend to stay away from most comedies - unless they're mockumentaries, dark comedies, or star Jack Black - because I find that they're not all that funny, as a rule. I don't watch romantic comedies because I find them formulaic and stupid most of the time. I also stay away from movies with bad acting because I like to immerse myself in movies and I can't do that if the acting is bad.

There are movies that I love, of course. My favourite movies are the ones that require me to think about what I'm watching; movies where I have to pay attention, and that I'll think about afterward because they raise interestng ideas and questions. These tend to be quirky movies; the ones that are subtle and non-mainstream (maybe even foreign movies) that might be played at the local independent theatre.

When I'm not in the mood to think too hard, I like to watch science-fiction-type movies, comic-book movies, and some action movies because they're fun. These movies generally don't require too much effort on my part but they're entertaining.

I also love to watch movies that are groundbreaking for one reason or another: animated movies showcasing new techniques; brilliant costume or set design; amazing CGI techniques; unusual sequencing; and things like that. If a movie includes something completely new, I want to see it to evaluate the new thing.

And of course, no matter what, I'm always in the mood for horror movies. Even the bad ones, because when they're bad they're usually unintentionally funny. But for the most part, the buildup of tension and final release in a good horror movie is cathartic; it can be a way for me to deal with more negative emotions.

So you see.... I love movies, and I love watching them. So I watch a *lot* of them :)

With all that said, I'm sure it'll be no surprise to you that we watched a movie today. We saw Drag Me to Hell, and we saw it in the theatre! It's not often that I get to see a horror movie in the theatre but I must say that a horror movie is much, much better in the theatre because you're totally immersed in the movie with the sound and the picture completely surrounding you.

Even a bad horror movie is better seen in a movie theatre but I'm pleased to tell you that Drag Me to Hell is actually a *good* horror movie. The story, cinematography, and music work together to create the tension and fear that a good horror movie needs. There are plenty of startles and jumps and a fine twist at the end. This is a movie that's definitely worth seeing if you like horror movies.

And as an aside, I loved the clothes that the protagonist wore. They were so smart and pretty and cute and stylish and gorgeous; I wish I was tiny like her so that I could wear clothes like that. And I loved the shoes she wore, too, but I know that there's no way that I get to wear shoes with a significant heel while I'm walking around with my cane. :( The clothes were still awesome.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday is movie day

It's practically summertime so there are lots and lots of movies opening soon. One of these is The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 which opens on June 12. It's about guys who hijack New York subway train Pelham 123, hold people hostage, demand money, and escape - but how?. One regular transit dispatcher guy ends up involved. The movie stars famous people (Denzel Washington and John Travolta) and the trailers make it look really exciting and action-y. I'd sort of thought of trying to see it when it comes out, if it got good reviews.

What I didn't know was that this is a (second) remake of a 1974 film: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, starring Walter Matthau, which was showing tonight on the public tv station. It's a heist movie! Who doesn't love a good heist move? :)

And this is a good heist movie - actually, it's a good movie, period. It's suspenseful and engrossing, with some comic moments thrown to ease the tension. It was interesting to see how the hijackers used their knowledge of the New York subway system and its trains to pull off the job. If you're going to do any kind of heist, it's important to know just how everything works, yes?

The main question throughout is how the hijackers are going to escape and get away with the job. I'm not going to tell you whether they succeed or how it ends - even though the movie has been remade, I don't know whether they'll use the exact same story. They've already changed the title (words representing numbers are so old-fashioned; why not just the numbers instead?) and I hope that they don't change the actual story too much. Being the age that it is, I expect that they'll not only modernize the story to reflect the updated technology, but also add some new twists and turns and stunts. Maybe even an explosion or two.

As long the remake stays a heist movie, it'll probably be ok.

Friday, May 29, 2009

We just saw the *best* movie

First things first: my CT scan came back clear (or unremarkable) with no new mets and no changes in the existing spots, which means that I'm still stable. Yay!

We watched the most amazing, thought-provoking movie tonight: Synecdoche, New York. The story is about a theatre producer's life and his life's work, where he builds a replica of New York in an abandoned warehouse.

The movie is funny, poignant, and surreal... by the end, it's hard to know who is who and what is what. Everything hinges on the title, specifically, synecdoche, which can mean either something that refers to a part of that thing, or a part of a thing that refers to the whole of the thing. So there are layers upon layers upon layers in the movie (even for the characters!).

This isn't the kind of movie you can start and then walk away from; almost *everything* has meaning, one way or another. If you're going to watch this movie, then commit to watching it all the way through, pausing it if you have to leave the room or are otherwise distracted. It is a masterpiece of a movie, but it is also a movie that requires a lot of attention and can be difficult to watch. This is part of this movie's greatness.

We watched the movie with a few other people and we spent some time afterward trying to figure out what the whole movie was about and also some of the imagery. It's a wonderful film and one that I'll definitely see again (in part to see if I can understand the motifs and metaphors this time... I think this is a movie that needs to be seen twice). I highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sleep, sleep, sleep all day

Once a week or so, I sleep all day. I don't exactly know why it happens, but when it does I just give in and sleep and sleep and sleep.

And that's what I did today. I was tired and it was raining and thunderstorming and so I slept all day. Well, all day until 4pm when Ian called, but if he hadn't called I expect I'd still be sleeping. It's not like I didn't try to get up, because I did, but I just couldn't make myself get up out of bed.

Because I was asleep all day, I wasn't able to call my oncologist to get my CT scan results. I'll call tomorrow and hopefully I'll get them then. If she's not in I guess I'll wait until Monday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Listening to an author speak

Robert J. Sawyer, a well-known, fiercely Canadian, award-winning science-fiction author, gave a talk at Google today. He's just published a new book: Wake, first of the WWW trilogy, which is about the world wide web gaining consciousness, and so he was talking about consciousness.

Sawyer is a very skilled speaker - he has done CBC radio lectures, so I expected him to have a good voice, and he was also very enthusiastic and engaging. He was obviously very interested in what he was saying about consciousness and had researched it thoroughly, until he knew it inside and out. It was a very interesting talk, and so interesting and engaging that time flew by; I was shocked when I looked up and saw that he'd been talking for 40 minutes!

He talked about what it means to be conscious and how a consciousness could rise out of the web. He also discussed how difficult it was to write about this; as a conscious human being, how can we possibly conceive of an alien consciousness, and how would it develop, without turning that consciousness into an anthopomorphic being?

Ian and I both very enjoyed the talk; Ian actually got to talk to him in a small group before and after and got to know him a little bit. He seems like a really interesting person :)

A side-effect of listening to the talk was that I can "hear" his voice when reading his books. I've read a few of his books (including Wake) and while I've loved the concepts - they're extremely thought-provoking - I've had trouble with the voice that they're written in; some parts have seemed a bit stilted when I think he's been trying to convey an emotion. I don't read emotion in books very well, which goes along with not being able to "see" emotions very well on people's faces. For a long, long time, I couldn't figure out what people on movies were doing to show emotion; their facial expressions didn't make sense to me. I'm getting better at that.

Anyways, if Robert J. Sawyer stops by your city on this promotional tour, I'd recommend that you go and listen to him speak; it's interesting and well worth the time, even if you aren't a science fiction fan.

Tomorrow I call to get my CT scan results: I expect that the results are good, but of course I'm nervous about  getting them. I'll post the results here on my blog when I get them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer TV

I'd been worried that there wouldn't be anything to watch in the summer what with all of the regular shows finished. Fortunately, there are new things to watch.

Like Canada's Worst Handyman 4, which is both funny and sad to watch. I yell at the tv a LOT when that show is on, both because the people on the show seem not to even be able to read basic instructions or think through the most basic design. One contestant was kicked off this week for saying something awful to the other contestants - I don't know what it was but it was bad.

One of the new shows is Mental which we watched for the first time tonight. It's about an unconventional psychiatric department head, in a House-like tradition. The first episode was ok but we'll probably wait and see how it is over the next few weeks.

Tonight also marked the start of Canada's Next Top Model cycle 3, only two weeks after America's Next Top Model cycle 12 finished. The drama and cattiness has already started! I'm pretty sure that the models get younger every year :) The challenge prize winners on this episode got to go off the coast of PEI to look at the baby seals. I was so jealous... I'd love to go there.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Getting some grading done

Believe it or not, I actually managed to grade the vintage pattern I'm working with today. Yep. Well, except for the small pieces like the facings and collar, as well as the gusset piece. The gusset piece actually acts as the undersleeve; the yoke and sleeve design doesn't leave enough room for the entire half-sleeve on each of the front and back. As well, the gusset gives the arm better range of motion.

Even though I finished the grading, I'm not finished working with the pieces yet. I'm not used to grading some of these pieces and I wanted to look at my work tomorrow with fresh eyes. Heck, even the pieces that I think I graded correctly could use a once-over. :) Still, I'm pleased with the work that I've done so far. Up until now, it's been taking me longer than this to get this far with my pattern. Who'd have thought that I could work this quickly? :) Now I hope that the work I've done is correct.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It's so nice outside... welcome to spring!

It's been a gorgeous weekend! The sun has been shining, the air is clear, the flowers are out, and it's been warm. Really, it's been a perfect spring weekend, and I wish that we had this weekend off instead of last weekend. Not that it matters to me, of course, because I don't work, but then Ian and I could spend more time outside together in such great weather. Hopefully it'll be just as warm next weekend.

We didn't spend the whole day outside, of course. I can't work on the pattern outside, after all :) I got some work done on the pattern although I'd have liked to do more. It turns out that some of the pieces are hard to grade and shorten and so I've had to do some thinking to figure out exactly what to do. At least most of the other pieces should be straightforward to grade and shorten.

We also watched Sukiyaki Western Django today. It's like a prequel for the Django, I guess. I don't really know anything about Django or other spaghetti westerns, but I still enjoyed this movie. Basically, a solitary warrior enters a town with a huge treasure and two warring factions and pits one against the other. Almost all of the actors - except Quentin Tarantino - are Japanese and the dialogue is English. It's a pretty funny movie with some gore and over-the-top action.

Even if I hadn't liked this movie - which I did - seeing a spaghetti western and reading about them might help understand Quentin Tarantino's next movie: Inglourious Basterds.

This evening we watched Futurama: Bender's Game because it was the only thing on tv tonight. It's funny in a Futurama sort of way - it doesn't always make sense, there's lots of cultural and movie references, and it's silly. Yep, it's an awesome as it sounds!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday fun

I was able to trace out a pattern today. I had three vintage patterns on the shortlist and Ian picked one, so I'm working on that one first. This first pattern is for a knee-length A-line dress with the yoke and sleeve in one piece, and with center front and back seams and bust and hip shaping darts. The pattern also includes the cutest little short jacket with elbow- or three-quarter-length sleeves to go with the dress. It's the jacket that makes the outfit; the wedding will be outdoors and some kind of cover-up is needed.

The person who had the pattern before me had cut out only the jacket and it looks like that person didn't line it (it's supposed to be lined, and if this pattern works out, I'll definitely be lining the jacket)... and it looks like the person cut off the extension for the lining on the back jacket piece. After reading the instructions and checking the pieces, I was able to correct this problem on my traced piece. I'll put a note in with the pattern noting that this piece has been cut off.

I'm hoping that the whole ensemble looks good, but if it doesn't, I have other patterns to try out.

This evening we watched S. Darko. It's sort of a sequel to Donnie Darko, which is a favourite movie of ours (and which has a huge cult following). S. Darko hasn't lived up to the expectations of the Donnie Darko fans, for whatever reason; I'm not sure what those expectations were, but it's clear that they're not being met because many of the reviews for S. Darko by Donnie Darko fans are bad.

S. Darko is the story of Sam, Donnie's youngest sister, who is traveling across the country with her friend. The two are stranded in a small town on their journey. Sam has been sleepwalking and while in this town, she sleep-visits the local outcast. Time travel stuff happens, too, as in Donnie Darko.

While there are connections to the first movie via some of the characters and the time travel idea, but the movies are not the same. At the end of Donnie Darko, the universe is reset and the bad things that happened are undone... but that's not exactly what happens at the end of S. Darko. It's implied that some of the bad things are still happening or going to happen, but maybe not in the exact same way. One of the other crucial differences between the two movies is that Donnie Darko starts off weird and gets scary and intense as time goes on, whereas S. Darko has a lighter feel. It isn't as creepy or scary - it's more interesting, as though it was a drama with time travel stuff. I do wish that some of the events had been explored more fully... like the meteor's effects, the fireworks show, and what happened to the kids. I'd love to see a sequel explaining all of that.

So we actually liked S. Darko because it wasn't exactly like Donnie Darko and because it had an interesting story with interesting characters and good acting. I don't know that you have to have seen Donnie Darko to get S. Darko, because there isn't that much crossover, but it probably helps in getting some of the subtext or background pictures. The only thing that might not make sense if you haven't seen Donnie Darko is the tube-y thing that shows where people will be walking.

Whether or not you've seen Donnie Darko, S. Darko is well worth renting. It's an interesting, quirky movie that we liked very much.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sleep, sleep, and more sleep

I wouldn't have thought that having a CT scan followed by a walk in the afternoon would have made me soooo tired. But it did.

All I did yesterday was the scan and the walk, and today I ended up sleeping until 2pm. Plus I was exhausted all day; every time I turned around I was ready for a nap. Of course this means that I didn't do all that much today, and that's ok.

What I did do was put away the patterns I've received lately. That doesn't sound like much, but I've bought more than a few vintage patterns lately and they need a home. My four comic book boxes are now filled to bursting with patterns; I'm going to need to get more boxes.

I also spent some time looking at my patterns and my fabric. I've got a wedding to attend in a couple of months and I'd hoped to make a dress for it. I have several patterns that I love for an event like that so I've puled them out and am trying to figure out which fabrics might work with which patterns. I do have some lovely fabrics - both new and vintage. Several of my 50s fabrics are quite similar: a light-coloured background with flowers and squares sprinkled all over. I hadn't realized how similar those fabrics were until I took a good look at them.

Over the weekend I hope to trace out the pattern I'm going to use - or, if I still can't decide between the three I'm currently considering, trace out all three patterns - and hopefully get the pattern(s) graded up so that I can make some test garments this week. Since I don't have much to do each day (and honestly, I get bored of surfing the interweb), I *should* be able to actually get somewhere with this dress.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CT scan and diversions

Who doesn't love a CT scan with contrast? Me. The CT scan itself isn't so bad these days because I don't have to drink the yucky weirdly sweet orange drink..Instead, I have to drink 500mL an hour before the scan and then another 500mL half an hour before the scan. That's not so bad.

The scan itself takes less than 10 minutes - 5 minutes or so for each scan before and after the contrast is injected. That's not so bad, either. What I I don't like is the contrast, because it makes me feel hot and like I've peed myself, so I end up frantically trying NOT to pee.... while also holding my breath and lying completely still. It's as awesome as it sounds.

The scan covered my chest, abdomen, and pelvis. The last CT scan of my pelvis showed that there were two tiny spots in there; we'll see if those are still there and what size they are. This scan will also be checking my lungs and liver. Because my tumour markers were low, I don't expect that my cancer has taken up residence anywhere new but until I get the results I expect to be a little anxious. I'll call my oncologist for the results next Thursday.

To take my mind off of the scan, I spent the last two days watching Apocalypse Now and Apocalypse Now: Redux and comparing the two. Redux was a 2001 re-edit of the original 1979 film. The plot of both is loosely based on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, where a man goes up upriver - into the heart of darkness, as it were - to retrieve Kurtz, an insane man with a reputation.

I love the movie. It's creepy and surreal and honest and just draws me in. I'm the first to admit that it can be slow in parts but the pace is part of the buildup towards the end. Both versions are good movies but I think that Redux (minus the French plantation scene) is overall the better movie. The scenes that were added and the edits that were made definitely improved the movie. These changes improved the flow of the movie and also explained some of the events that happened: for example, how Lance got the surf shorts and later, the makeup.

About the French plantation scene - I didn't like it. Sure, it explains where Clean is buried, but it goes on.... and on... and on... and in doing so interrupts the buildup of tension in the movie. As Captain Willard and the boat crew go up the river, they change. They become less civilized; they also become more introspective and in touch with themselves. So all of that is happening ... and then everything pauses for the French plantation scene with Willard only... and then it kind of starts up again. Sure, we find out that Willard belongs in the jungle, but we should know that by now anyway. And Willard isn't the only one changing; everyone on the boat is changing as they travel up-river, one way or another.

Apparently there are even longer bootleg versions of the movie out there... I'd love to see those, too. I was doing a bit of research and apparently filming the original movie was a kind of rite of passage, or descent into hell, for the director Francis Ford Coppola. There were set problems, actor problems, breakdowns... everything. There's a documentary out there about the making of the movie and I think that I'd love to see that, too.

If you've seen Apocalypse Now but not the Apocalypse Now: Redux, then you should see the Redux version. It makes more sense and it's a much better movie (even though it is longer). If you haven't seen either, then you it's about time you saw Redux. It's too good of a classic movie to miss.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pain and meditation

My left hip has been aching and hurting for the last few days. It also seems to be a bit swollen in comparison with the right hip which is something I hadn't noticed before.

I'm not quite sure why the pain has been so bad over the weekend but I suspect that the seats in the movie theatre had something to do with it. The seats we sat in for each movie aren't in very good shape because they've had a lot of use over the years. We like to sit in the center up high enough so we're a couple of levels below the top of the screen and so that the screen completely fills our vision. These seats are very popular and get a lot of use, so the seats themselves are kind of broken.

Even though the pain was very, very bad through last night, it's gone now and I think I have meditation to thank for that.

This meditation session, we're working on ways to be aware of what our brains are thinking. I don't know if you've tried meditation before, but if you have, then you probably know that while you're trying to focus on your breathing or whatever your brain has a tendency to go off on other tangents.

It isn't just the brain that does its own thing, of course. Sitting (or lying) in one place can cause some discomfort as well, which is distracting. So today in meditation class, we *looked* for discomfort or pain in our bodies (instead of waiting for it to distract us) and sort of breathed through the pain, trying to soften the muscles around it. We repeated this process several times over the course of five or ten minutes.

And surprise! The pain lessened! By this afternoon, it was way better!! Yay :) This is something that I will keep in mind next time the pain is bad.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Happy Victoria Day (a.k.a. May 2-4)

We saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine today. It hasn't been getting great reviews, but I thought it was a good, entertaining movie. Yeah, it's not deep, and the supporting characters aren't that well developed, and I suppose it's a bit formulaic - but it's a comic book movie, and I have different (lower) expectations for comic book movies.

I expect comic book movies to be entertaining and to add knowledge to the comic book universe. I also like there to be some action and an interesting story. Personally, I thought that this movie delivered; it was fun to watch, exciting, and interesting for a comic book movie.

The only thing I didn't like was the guy explaining the entire Wolverine history (comics, tv, and movies) to his girlfriend who knew little to nothing of the franchise. He talked and talked and talked and talked and talked through the entire movie.

As an aside: people, please don't do this. I don't *care* how much you know about the movie or its history. Your knowledge isn't going to disappear by the end of the movie. Really, it won't. So wait until after you've both left the theatre to natter at your companion. Anything else is annoying and disrespectful to the people around you.

I asked the guy to be quiet once and I thought about sliding over and kicking the back of his seat every time he opened his annoying mouth. I didn't do that because I thought Ian wouldn't like it .. but afterwards he said he thought I should've used my cane on him. I'll remember that for the future.

The fact that I don't know much about the whole Marvel universe or Wolverine's history didn't stop me from enjoying the movie. I may have enjoyed it more than someone who knows that history because the movie changed some details. So there, man who annoyed me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Still using my cane

While shopping at the grocery store today, we found a new use for my cane. We buy 4L pouches of milk because I go through so much each week but we couldn't see any of our brand out. The milk is stored in crates that roll on rollers to the front, but there were no full crates at the front. There was a crate further back on the roller track, but it was too far to reach by hand. Fortunately, Ian was able to use my cane to bring the milk crate forward. Problem solved!

I'm much less self-conscious about walking with the cane than I was before. I only wish that I didn't have to use it all the time. Experiments have shown that if I walk around - even just at the grocery store - without a cane, my hip hurts a LOT the next day. So I use the cane.

I have to admit that I'm still a bit clumsy with the cane when I'm not walking with it. It's like not knowing what to do with your hands; I don't know what to do with my cane when I'm sitting down somewhere, or looking at stuff, or really doing anything other than walking with it.

At least the cane helps my back not hurt... if it can be used to get things, that's ok.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rainy saturday movie day

We finally got to see the new Star Trek movie today. The story was great! The best thing about it is that it really does allow them to restart the franchise, if they want (oh, the beauty of playing with time). Zachary Quinto, who you might know as Sylar from Heroes, plays a spectacular Spock. His character seemed to bring the rest of the cast together which in turn made the other characters more believable.

While the movie is good, it isn't perfect. The cinematography was weird because there seemed to be only two shots: the extreme closeup and the quick-moving pan-action shot that was hard to follow. I also felt that the guy who played Bones was WAY over the top. Every time he said something, I felt jolted out of the story ... maybe he was too intense? I can't quite put my finger on how he was over the top, but I thought he was definitely the weakest actor of the bunch. For the record, Ian disagrees with me, but I stand by my assessment.

The other major flaw I felt this movie had was that the external and internal design of the enemy ship didn't make sense. It was supposed to be a mining vessel and it looked more like a tentacled monster. Personally, I like my movie industrial design to at least make sense; that the form of an object will be related in some recognizable way to its function. That definitely wasn't the case here. It seemed like someone was drawing a ship and said, "I'm going to make this SO COOL and SO SCARY! Yeah!" Hmph.

And as for the inside of the ship.... what's wrong with a guard rail or two along the sides of slippery platforms suspended in space? Sigh. This movie cost a lot of money to make; making the enemy ship believable with good industrial design while also making it seem scary wouldn't have cost them any more than it did to design the ship bady. Sheesh.

Flaws aside, the movie is good. You don't have to like or know anything about Star Trek to like this movie, and if you are a Star Trek fan, you'll probably also like it.

Later on we watched Reeker. We'd watched No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker a while back and found out it was a sequel and a prequel, kind of, so we wanted to watch the first movie. Well, I did, anyways; Ian watched it with me because it was there. The movie was pretty good for what it was, which is one of those horror movies where the protagonists get picked off one-by-one. The acting wasn't too bad (although the female lead did have some trouble hanging on to her accent) and the story was interesting. There were tense moments and some gory bits. Overall, it wasn't too gory or bloody. And the twist at the end made the movie interesting.

So if you like this kind of horror movie, this one's for you.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rediscovering old favourites

I've always read a lot of books, and since I've been reading in the bath as well as before bed, I've been going through books faster than before. I've bought a few books but it's silly to buy a lot of them, especially since I have so many and it's been years and years since I've read some of them.

So I've been going back and reading some of the books I've held onto for the last ten or fifteen years or so. One set I've been looking at and shying away from are my Tim Sandlin books; I have five of them and I remember them as being really funny ... but I've changed since I read them last and I was worried that I wouldn't find them as hugely entertaining as they were before.

I'm pleased to say that my anxiety on this subject was totally unfounded. I picked up Skipped Parts last night and it's hilarious - so funny that at 2am I was laughing out loud while reading it. It's the first in Sandlin's Grovont trilogy, which apparently will have a fourth book added to it. As an aside, one of those books in the trilogy is called Sorrow Floats, which I liked because the title reminds me of an phrase in John Irving's The Hotel New HampshireThe Hotel New Hampshire is also an awesome, quirky book written by an awesome, quirky author (who unfortunately seems to have a bear and wrestling fixation). As a bigger aside, A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my favourite of Irving's.

Anyways... back to Skipped Parts. It's told from the perspective of Sam, a 13-year-old boy who along with his 28-year-old mother has been banished to Grovont, Wyoming by Sam's grandfather. Sam befriends another 13-year-old girl and they start trying to figure out what the skipped sexy parts in books are.. .by practicing. Realism, sadness, and hilarity ensues.

Not only am I finding this book funny, I think it's funnier than ever because I understand and "get" so much more of it than I did before. I think this is partly because the situations in the books were and are so much worse than my life ever was, and the story is so funny that it helps me see that my own story - the most unfunny bits - could possibly be funny, too. If looked at in the right way, which I hope to someday be able to do.

Not that it matters what kind of past you have. This book (and the others by Sandlin) are well worth reading for the plot and the writing. The writing style is much like that of both J.D. Salinger and Tom Robbins - it's quirky, funny, achingly honest, and hilariously funny, all due to a lot of understatement and the juxtaposition of Sam's fantasy stories of being a hero with the realities of what happens around him. This gives the book a poignancy that feels very realistic... but also very gentle.

As well, this book, first published in 1991, uses the word "meatatarian". What's not to love?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spring, glorious spring

I think spring may be my favourite time of year. The trees and flowers are blooming, the air is crisp and fresh, and everything feels and smells new. The sunlight seems to be a different colour. Even the clouds and rain seem softer and less harsh than in other seasons.

Not that I've been out that much as I've been sleeping a lot. I think this is because I've been feeling melancholy due to my recent thoughts about my life and the choices I've made as I said in my last post. I don't think I'm completely past all that, and I don't think I'll be past it for a while... there were choices within choices. Even though I've examined a few of them, there are many, many more events and choices that need to be considered... and forgiven.

I guess it sort of seems like I'm harping on this lately... which should tell you how profoundly affected I am by this process. It's the first time that I've really looked at those three years - 1994 to 1996. I'd thought I wanted to look at my childhood, and I do, but for some reason my inner self has chosen otherwise and given me this time period instead.

I think there's no finer time to do undertake this journey than in spring, when everything is new and I can be reborn. Plus I can go outside and walk and think and just be amidst all of the new growth.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about choices lately. I think that my life, like anyone's, can be viewed as a series of choices. Some choices have a huge impact; some have a small impact; and some have a snowball effect, where the effect starts small and through further choices is huge.

I've also always wished that I could go back and re-do some things. You know, un-choose this choice, or choose that action instead of this... and therefore not have to deal with any of the profound choices I've made. If I'm being realistic, I know that I spent quite a lot of my life just letting my life happen... letting things just sort of happen to me instead of actively making my own choices and decisions.

I made choices in my mid-twenties that I wish I'd never made; choices I'd made without really knowing how I'd feel later... choices that have had a profound effect on my life. They were big choices that kind of came after some smaller choices. Right now, I'm coming to terms with those big choices.... and it's hard. I know that accepting and living with those choices and their impacts is the right thing to do but the process calls up a lot of emotions (most of them negative) and leaves me sad and melancholy and more sad.

I know that when the process is finished I expect that I'll be happier overall, and it's very important to do this because I haven't before... but it's so hard. I wish I could go back and do those things differently instead of dealing with this stuff. I'd be happy if I could just unmake one of the decisions that led to these big ones, so that they could have been avoided.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just call me sleepy

Sleep sleep sleep ... over the last few days, that's all I've done. I didn't get up until almost 4pm today. I guess it's the Pamidronate, because I've been so tired.

I've also felt sort of melancholy lately; I hear things on the radio or see something on tv and I feel all ... well, sort of sad, I guess. I end up wishing I could go back to before and re-live the event or change its outcome.. or just be younger.

That's the thing, I think - I really just want to be younger than I am. I don't know if it's because I don't think I remember those times, or if it's because I don't want to get older. I understand better now why people and civilizations value youth so much.

I expect that when I'm feeling less tired I'll feel less melancholy - when I'm tired, emotions (especially negative ones) are magnified and it's easier to wish I could go back and change my history. So I think I'll get some more sleep - I must still need some - and see how I feel in the morning.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is Mother's Day here in North America, a day where we celebrate, cherish, and honour our mothers. Our mothers are the women who brought us life, who gave us knowledge, wisdom, and a safe haven. They helped us find ourselves and to become the people that we were meant to be. The people who have done these things have given us a great gift and deserve thanks for it.

This isn't to say that each of our own mothers gave us every one of these gifts. If we are very lucky, our biological mother was the one who also gave us life, knowledge, wisdom, and safety. But the biological mother need not be the one who gives these gifts; a friend, a relative, or someone else who happens to be in the right place at the right time can fill the role of "mother". If you are very lucky, you may be gifted with several people who you can call a mother.

So today, on Mother's Day, take a minute to think of and thank all of those people who have helped you grow, who have helped you find yourself, who have taught you about life - all those people who have acted as a mother to you - and thank them. You wouldn't be who you are without them.

Thank you, PatC and LisaP, for helping me find myself and being a kind of mother to me here. No one can replace my actual mother - Mom - or everything she's done for me. Thank you. I love you.

Friday, May 08, 2009


We saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tonight. In case you didn't know or don't follow movies, it's the story of a man born as an old man who dies as a baby, aging backwards through his life. Throughout is the love of his life, Daisy, and we hear about Benjamin's life as her daughter reads his diary as Daisy is on her deathbed.

The movie is a brilliant technical achievement; the fact that the viewer can see and recognize Brad Pitt (who plays Benjamin, the title character) as an old baby and as a young old man is amazing. The movie covers about fifty years in detail and does a fantastic job of representing the technologies, clothes, and hairstyles of each era.

I found the movie sort of sad, with its missed connections and moments to remember. None of the characters, except for Benjamin and Daisy, are all that well developed, and in some ways the movie feels a bit rushed - which I didn't think was possible at a running time of 166 minutes! Much of the movie is focused on his childhood, but I think it might have been more interesting had it spent more time in later eras. For example, I'd like to have seen more of the time when Benjamin's physical body aged backwards from 20 to 12, or to a point where he could no longer function in society.

It's an interesting movie and probably worth watching if you like period movies. It can feel a bit slow but it's quite compelling, for the most part. And of course the story is interesting :)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

What a gorgeous morning!

After driving Ian to work this morning, I still had over an hour before I had to leave for the hospital. It was so beautiful outside: the sun was shining there were no clouds in the sky and it was warm. So I went for a walk around my neighbourhood. I'd thought about going in the afternoon and I'm glad that I went for my walk this morning because it cooled down, got cloudy, and even rained a bit. My walk was wonderful... the birds were singing, the grass was green, and there were flowers all over the place in the clear spring morning light. I didn't even listen to music while walking because I wanted to really experience the sights and sounds of my walk.

It sounds silly to rave about a walk, doesn't it? But that's ok. I love to walk and getting to go for a walk on a perfect spring morning is something I don't get to experience all that often. I find there's something both soothing and uplifting about being outside when the weather is perfect, like it was this morning.

Now, if only I could get up early on every gorgeous day, I suspect I'd be quite relaxed and happy most of the time. I'll get to work on that. :)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Meditation starting again

After what seems like forever, my meditation class has started up again. I love that class; we have a six week on, two (or three) week off schedule. When the class is on and I'm able to get to it, I feel so much more even and emotionally stable.

This time we're going to be looking at listening to our own inner voices... and to figure out who we are, in a way. I'm looking forward to that, because lately I've been feeling off.

I don't remember much of my childhood; I have some flashes of memory but for the most part, my childhood is just not there. I don't think anything horrific happened - I'm quite sure I wasn't sexually abused, for example - but for whatever reason, it seems that the memories have been tucked away. And I also think that some of those memories are starting to come back. This is rather a difficult experience, emotionally, and so I'm very glad that I'll have new meditation tools to help me. At least I'll be able to stay grounded during the process... although I don't expect that this process will take a while.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Visiting the oncologist

Today was my regular three-month visit with my oncologist. My CA 15-3 tumour marker has gone down to 29! That's *half* of what it was when I first found out I had mets, and is definitely within normal range. This is fantastic news!!! It means that the cancer is staying put (maybe even having a bit of a sleep) instead of running around looking for new places to hang out.

I'll be having an abdominal CT scan in the next two weeks just to confirm that there's nothing going on in my liver. We'll also scan my pelvis at the same time because the last time I had a CT scan, there were two teensy-tiny sclerotic lesions in my left hemi-pelvis. That's the side of my hip and back that hurts... so it's possible that the pain isn't just from my back. I'm pretty sure that we're not going to find anything important in the scan but it's important to do them. I think my oncologist might switch me to CT scans every six months instead of once a year, which I'd like.

Speaking of pain, we talked about my lower back and hip as well. She said that I have a *very* bad back, especially for someone of my age... and that there's nothing much that can be done for it. There's degeneration around two discs just above my sacrum. I don't see how this is going to get better

My theory about the pain is this: much of the pain from there is caused by bone against bone; plus I think that there's a nerve being pinched sometimes - not the sciatic nerve, but one of the ones in that bundle of nerves - that's causing pain in my left leg and hip, and in my effort to not be in pain there, I may or may not have given myself bursitis in that hip.

I talked to my oncologist about tis theory and she agrees that this might make sense. She also said that she wouldn't have the first clue how to treat any of this - which isn't a surprise, since she's an oncologist :) This is definitely something that I'll be wanting to talk to my family doctor about.

We also talked about a PET scan. She said that if I really, really wanted one that I could go ahead and do it. But she also said that the PET scan is sort of like a bone scan in that it shows areas of increased tracer takeup, but those areas are fuzzy and aren't necessarily diagnostic. As well, the scan doesn't show things under 1cm and she won't be able to treat anything that shows up unless it also showed up and was measurable on a CT (or MRI) scan.

She did say that some people will do a PET scan if they want to surgically remove (resect) cancer from an organ like the liver and they want to be sure that there's no cancer anywhere else.

I guess if she did PET scans all the time she might feel differently - many people in the US have PET/CT scans instead of just bone scans, CTs or MRIs - but this is the way things are here.

So based on all of that, plus the fact that my tumour markers are so low, and because I'm having a CT scan within two weeks, I'm not going to do a PET scan right now. I'm ok with this because I get other scans and I don't feel like I'm not being scanned or that the cancer won't be caught early enough. I'll keep the PET in the back of my mind, though, in case anything changes.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ian's home!

Ian arrived home sometime this morning and we've spent the day sleeping and catching up on tv. I haven't been sleeping well over the last few days and I'm very tired; it'll take a few days to get back to normal, I think.

You know how it is when you get so tired that your head hurts and you're not really able to think? I'm so there. I feel like I'm in dreamland, with everything sort of floating by.

It's going to be an early night for us tonight... and maybe tomorrow... and the next day... until I feel human again.

Oh - it seems that blogger was having a hard time publishing my blog for the last few days. I think that's been sorted out now.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Thinking about sewing... again

I've made a new decision about what I want to sew next. I'd been thinking that I wanted something that was easy to wear, comfortable, and that didn't look or feel fussy. So many of the dresses I love are more dressy and I just wouldn't wear them every day. Sure, I might wear them when I go out somewhere - like if I leave the house and do something other than walk to the nearby grocery store or walk around the block - but I don't do much these days. It would be different if I was working, of course, but I'm not.

So anyways, I wanted to make something that I would just throw on if I was bumming around at home or going to the store or whatever. And I wanted something that would look nice on me and maybe even be a little flattering, The pattern I've chosen is this simple wrap dress from the 1960s:

As you can see, it has an a-line skirt, and is quite simple. I'm going to try to make it with short sleeves to start. There are actually two front panels, one on top of the other, so I won't need to worry about wind or anything like that. I've traced out the pieces and need to grade them up. I was going to do that this evening but I ended up watching the original The Picture of Dorian Gray (a fantastic movie, by the way, and definitely worth seeing).

If the dress works out, I might make it in different fabrics. I've been buying vintage pattern/fabric combos and I now have a large collection of fabric from the 50s... it's so pretty, and most of it is still current and pretty.

There are so, so, so many dresses I want to make.... so many, in fact, that the choice can be overwhelming sometimes. For example, I'd still like to make a couple of good-quality slips to wear underneath many of the dresses I still want to make as much of the fabric I have is sheer. I have a few slip patterns that I've collected and put away, and I need to check them and see which (if any) will make slips that will work.

But one step at a time: for now, I'll try this dress, and see if it works. If it doesn't, then I'll try something else.

There are better ways to live than this

Over the last couple of days I've been spending too much time on the internet, especially on one of the cancer support boards. I care deeply about many women there and normally check in on a regular basis to see how they're doing. Once in a while I also like to read and shake my head at the drama - it can be compelling in a train-crash kind of way, you know? - but lately I've actually allowed myself to become *part* of the drama. As a result, I'm giving too much of myself into this manufactured drama. This isn't a good thing, because it takes so much energy, distorts my perspective, and isn't really *living*.

Once I realized that this was happening I went out. I felt that I just get out of the house and reconnect with the world around me a little. I went to Chapters and bought some Stephen King books to fill in my collection and then I went to the mall to wander around. I'd have gone for a walk outside to enjoy the signs of spring but it was pouring rain. I'll do that another day.

I felt so much better just getting away from the computer that I spent most of the evening lying on the couch and reading. It was so relaxing and invigorating all at the same time.

I think I'm going to try to back away a bit from the support board and to spend less time on the computer for a while. There's more to life and living than immersing myself in an online support board... and I don't need to immerse myself to give or receive support.