Best Show You Don't Know About

Best Show You Don't Know About
Leverage

Friday, January 7, 2011

Movie Review- Black Swan

Before I even start, let me just say that Natalie Portman deserves the Best Actress Oscar this year- hands down. She is absolutely fabulous in this film! However-
Black Swan is the perfect film with which to restart my reviews because it is, in many ways, a flawless film, however, one that also makes a couple of serious mistakes early on and ends up not being all that interesting.
It is the story of a young (though very quickly aging in the world of ballet) ballet dancer (Portman) who is expecting the next “season” to be her time to shine. She lives with her controlling, ex-ballet star mother (Barbara Hershey). The aging diva (Winona Ryder) is being forced into retirement which gives all of the other ballerinas in the troupe the opportunity to show their stuff . Another ballerina, on loan from Chicago (Mila Kunis) comes to rehearsals on the first day, shows up late and does not seem to have the discipline necessary, but is naturally talented.
When it is decided that their first show will be Swan Lake and the same dancer will play both the white and the black swan, Portman obsesses over winning the role. Portman is the controlled, precision dancer and Kunis is, she feels, her main competition. When Portman wins the role with an unexpected trip to see the choreographer, she must then learn the role and keep the possibly backstabbing Kunis away from the role which she has earned. As the opening night gets closer, Portman’s obsessive and paranoid side takes over. Is her mom jealous of her and sabotaging her? Is Kunis trying to befriend her or take away her part? Will she be able to learn both roles and pull them off successfully? And what is up with her possible hallucinations?
As stated above, Portman pulls off an amazingly complicated role with seeming ease. She starts out as the “cute” Portman that we have grown to love over the years. Then, she slowly starts taking her character to darker and darker places. It is so subtle that, by the end of the film, you have to actually take a look back and notice how far she has taken the character over the length of the film. It is a stunningly beautiful performance that seems so simple, yet is one of the most difficult female roles I have ever seen.
The rest of the cast is also wonderful. They play their parts to the hilt. While Kunis is second-billed, she does not have much screen time, but makes the most of it. She plays it both very perky with a slight edge to it which hides her motivations to keep you wondering, along with Portman, what her angle is. Barbara Hershey plays a controlling, manipulative stage mother who plays against Portman very well. Winona Ryder only has a few scenes but is nicely and angrily out of control.
While many columns have been devoted to the females of the cast, the film’s main male cast member, Vincent Cassel, plays a terrifically misogynistic, power hungry, controlling director. Without his sleaziness, the film would never be able to take its dark turns.
Much has been made of the sex scene between the two lead actresses. In reality, it is much ado about nothing. Much is implied but not explicitly shown. While there are many kisses between the two, there is absolutely no more nudity involved than in a GQ photo shoot. It also may be part of Portman’s hallucinations so several strange things happen during the course of this sequence.
The main actresses also do their own dancing which is very impressive. While there are a few close-ups of the feet doing extremely difficult things which could have been doubles- for the most part, the actresses dance from one side of the frame to the other showing that it is truly them at work.
The ballet work and the dancing sequences are marvelous as well with majestic costumes near the end when large portions of Swan Lake play out. It is a large, sumptuous field of vision and is punctuated with bits of black in seas of white.
This is what I mean by technically this film is amazing. I cannot truthfully attack the film on many fronts. The one major issue is the story and plot. While I will not give anything away, there is a major foreshadowing that happens near the very beginning of the film. Even though I was not looking for it, it leapt right out at me as “Pay attention! We are going to foreshadow the events of the film!” So, while I did not know how the story was going to go from A-Z, I knew the general throughline, the major points of the film and how it would end.
While in many types of films (like the big budget action and generic romantic comedies), it is about the journey and not the destination, I would have liked to not know where I was being taken. I wanted to go on a ride and enjoy the twists that were given to me. Instead, it dumped almost all of its surprises near the beginning with only a few jump scares and Natalie Portman’s amazing and career best performance to truly entrance me.
I didn’t find it anywhere near as amazing as the film’s champions are claiming it to be and I found a lot more to like in it than the film’s detractors have. I would recommend this for people who enjoy their dancing and ballet dark, for those who want to see a terrific looking film, and for those who want to see the best female performance on film this year. However, if you are not in these groups, I would stay far away.

Movie rating- 4
Film rating- 8

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Again, Movie Ratings System

Again, to remind everyone, I will be giving two ratings to each film that I review. One rating will be a “movie rating”, the other will be a “film rating”.
I do not feel that Schindler’s List should be graded on the same scale as “The Expendables”. It would not be fair to either film. Sometimes, there are films that are just to sit back and enjoy- to turn your brain off for a while and be entertained. Sometimes there are times when you want to see a very well-crafted film which is geared to a slightly different audience than the lowest common denominator which may not be made just for enjoyment.
So, the movie rating is based on how fun was it, how much could it be enjoyed at the level and which it was seeking to entertain?
The film rating is based on how well made it is and the technical achievements of it.
Just because I give a film a high movie rating and a low film rating or vice versa, does not mean that I did not enjoy it or find pieces of it enjoyable. I will point out my reasonings for the rating in the review.
To show how this works, I will start with three very different films: Resident Evil: Afterlife, Black Swan, and True Grit. Watch for these reviews very soon.

My cousin Greg

For those interested in knowing more about my cousin who died in the plane crash in November, here is an article that was just published in October 2010:

http://www.superlawyers.com/texas/article/The-Minimalist/138f6360-ab30-494d-95dd-c4fb2e024bcb.html

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Not just facts- now feelings

I just realized that I mainly posted details of the last year without a ton of anything else. Well, here’s a bit more of the “everything else”.
I have a lot of good friends and family. There were many great emails, face to face chats, facebook messages and comments, phone conversations, cards, and other communications from many friends and family whom I did not mention in my last post. Thank you all. There are no words to describe how much that meant. It did help buoy me up throughout this past year- even in my darkest times at 3:30 in the morning.
Death is hard for me and always has been- ever since my Grandpa Pay died when I was 9- almost 10. But, it’s not because of the thought of I will never see them again or they are gone forever. No, it is much different than that.
For me, my problem with death is separation anxiety. I will see my loved ones again after they, or I, die. It may just be a very long time- a veeeerrrryyy long time. My dad is still around and he still lives, just not in a way that I can see him and talk to him in a face to face manner. He wont read my facebook posts, I wont get a letter from him, but I know he lives.
He lives just as Jesus Christ lives. He will see his brother again, and I am sure that he was there to greet my dad with open arms, along with his brother Georgie who died at a young age. His parents were there to see him again. His in-laws were there, I am sure- my Grandma and Grandpa pay. All of our past pets rubbed against him. Our friend Rod, who committed suicide, was there and welcomed him to the other side.
All of our friends and loved ones who have passed away are still by us in spirit and still visit us often- of that I am sure. We just can’t see them.
Losing my dad to death has been very difficult, but at the same time, I will see him again and talk with him and laugh and joke as we always have- it will just be a great many years (I hope).
Another major thing that I forgot to mention is a dream that I had in November. In my dreams, I interact with people, but I can never actually feel or touch them. If I shake hands or hug people in my dreams, it is just as if I am watching myself on a video- one step away from reality.
In June, July, and August, I was having nightmares- as I mentioned in my last post. Watching my dad deteriorate again was the worst thing imaginable. Eventually these dreams switched to where my dad was in them, I would see him, but wouldn’t interact really with him.
In November, at the beginning of the month, I had a dream where I actually talked with my dad. I don’t remember much of it anymore, but I do remember a few details. He told me that he loved me, that I will always be his son, that he will continue to watch out for me, and that he was proud of me. He then gave me a hug- and I felt it! It was as real as anything I have ever felt in my life. He was in my dream that night to let me know that he was okay and that he lived.
I woke up in heaping sobs. It was about 3 AM. Without saying a word, Aleisha just rolled over, hugged me, and held me until I could talk to her about it. These are the ways that we have been helping each other the last months.
Near the beginning of December, I had another dream that my mom, dad, Aleisha, and I were eating dinner at the Nevada Dinner Club in Elko, Nevada, one of our favorite restaurants. He told us that he was sorry but that he had to go. We followed him outside and we were in the Four Queens casino in Las Vegas. I sat next to him for a few minutes and gambled, and then I woke up. It was nowhere near the same intensity, and it was much more dreamlike, but it still felt like my dad was there and apologizing for the turmoil he caused, even though he didn’t need to apologize, but it was something he would do.
After losing a very close loved one, I can truly say that it gets better over time. I still miss my dad a lot. Right now, that is my major feeling. I haven’t talked to him for almost 7 months and it seems like it is way overdue. But, on a daily basis, it continues to get better. I would not wish this on anyone, yet it is something that all of us must deal with at sometime.
For those who might have been concerned after reading the last post, there is no need to be concerned. I am doing as well as can be expected. If you asked me right now how my life is, I would say that it is in progress. It is getting better every day. Just by writing these posts the last couple of days, my heart is lifted and I am starting to feel a weight that I didn’t even know was there lifted. There are still bad days- days when I have no desire to do anything, but there are days when I feel strong and ready to take on the world.
Losing a loved one is a roller coaster ride of emotions- that is for sure.But it is what can brings us closer together as friends and family. It can bond us in ways impossible to imagine. It can take you down to the depths and bring you back better than you have ever been in some ways in the same few seconds.
I am getting better.
My life is in progress.
I believe in the afterlife- I know it exists.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why have I been gone for so long?

Where do I even begin? I started telling the story of what was happening back in April when I got home from San Antonio. The story was so long- I needed to break it up into sections. I only got to long story long part 1. Then things went downhill fast.
So, here I am, 9 months later, trying to go back and tell a very emotional roller coaster ride of a story, and I’m not sure I can do it accurately. It’s almost now become too emotional and I have no way to take the emotion out of it.
In a nutshell for my trip- I got a call from my mom on March 27th saying that my dad had thrown up blood in San Antonio, TX. They took him to the University Hospital and it took him almost 18 hours to get into a room. I called my brother in law, Steve, to get info on flights and he connected us to his travel agent. She got me on a flight on Sunday morning, March 28th that took me straight to San Antone.
I got to see my dad, who was looking amazingly weak- so much so that it really scared me. They had done several tests, but they would not be back for several days, so they wanted to make sure that he was not going to bleed anymore right off the bat. He stayed in the hospital while my mom and I were at a nearby motel.
When he was finally released from the hospital, we stayed in San Antonio one more night so my dad could get a good night’s rest. In the morning, we woke up and headed up to Oklahoma City- staying on major roads so that if my dad started bleeding again, we would have a quick way to a major hospital. While driving through Dallas, we got a phone call which stated that he had esophageal cancer.
In Norman, Oklahoma, (just outside of Oklahoma City), we found a steakhouse (called Saltgrass Steakhouse, or something close to that), a motel, and a movie theater in the same complex. We went and saw ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and we all loved it! It was the last film I saw with my dad.
The next day, we shot straight from Norman, Oklahoma to Flagstaff, AZ in one day. It was a huge travel day, but fun. This was my last normal travel day with my dad and as a family. We stopped and ate lunch and dinner along the way. When we got to Flagstaff, it was snowing hard and it was almost impossible to see.
The next day, we went from Flagstaff into Hurricane, UT. My dad made it back with very few problems, but he had some doctor’s appointments the next week to find out more about his situation.
My dad has been having tests done since the late 80’s every few months to ensure that he would not get cancer, and that, if he did, they could catch it early. His last test was done end of August 2009 and he was not showing any signs of cancer at all. Normally, cancer goes from no signs, low possibility, high possibility and then, finally, cancer. Usually this process takes several years. My dad went from no cancer to having cancer in just 7 months- this is unheard of!
The next rounds of tests showed that the cancer had not spread and, besides having cancer and being tired from the blood loss, my dad was doing fine. He came to Salt Lake to speak with a Huntsman Cancer specialist doctor, Dr. Collins. Dr Collins ran more tests and said that there seemed to be a spot on his kidney from one test, but that it could be overlay and he was not concerned about it.
Dr Collins set up a surgery date for April 19th in which they would basically cut out a large chunk of my dad’s esophagus, and connect my dad’s stomach to his throat. Obviously, more would happen, but that’s the Reader’s Digest version. He was expected to be recovering from that for several months, and, if anything else was caught, it could be dealt with through chemotherapy afterwards.
My dad went in on April 18th and all of his blood work was looking great! On April 19th, they took him into surgery. It was supposed to last about 6-8 hours. Three hours into the surgery, a nurse would be sent out to tell my mom and I how the surgery was going. At the 3 hour mark, Dr. Collins walks out and comes and talks to us. When the doctor who should be performing surgery comes out to talk to you, you know there is trouble.
Dr Collins told us that my dad was terminal. When they opened him up, his kidney and liver were full of cancer and they were surprised at how far it had spread and how few symptoms there were. It was impossible to save him, so they decided to give him quality of life over quantity.
Once we were told that, I went and got Aleisha from school. We then called Casey and Randy and told them and then slowly started telling the Pay and Coleman relatives. Dennis and Garry came and gave my mom and I blessings. Kelly came up as well and Garry and Jeana came back that night and brought my mom a birthday cake.
That night, my mom and I went in and saw my dad. I decided that I wanted to tell him the bad news of being terminal. It was very hard and probably the hardest thing I have ever done to that point in my life (another hard thing came a few months later), but we were able to be there as a family, together, holding hands. My dad hugged me and told me that it was going to be okay and that we would deal with it as it came.
During the next week, I was at the hospital almost all day every day. I ate every meal at IMC and got used to the really good cafeteria food. Tons of family and friends came by and hung out. Randy and Marci Mcgregor were there a lot. We played Trivial Pursuit and card games in between the visits. Connor Pay came and enjoyed seeing Uncle Bob.
He was released from the hospital on April 24th. Randy and I each drove a car down to Hurricane with them and we drove back together.
There were 2 weeks when we let him heal. On May 7th, I caught the opening night Midnight showing of Iron Man 2 for a friend’s birthday party. I left the theater at about 2:30 AM, drove to Pleasant Grove, picked up my cousin Kelly, and drove to Hurricane. We got there at about 7 am. I slept for 2 hours and then we headed down to Phoenix to see my cousin Andrea graduate from the University of Phoenix.
Steve and his family were there. We played Wii that night and had a lot of laughs. I was willing to play any game and, even though I had no idea how to do any of it, made everyone laugh as I played anything that Steve’s girls and Andrea wanted me to play.
The next day, we went to Andrea’s graduation at the University of Phoenix Stadium. One endzone was open and they even had the snack bars open. I bought nachos and a Coke (when have you ever been able to sit through a long ceremony with nachos and a Coke?) and my dad ate the nachos with the jalapenos- every last one of the peppers was gone when he was finished. At that time, there was a bit of hope.
That night, we went and saw Casey and her family. We went to dinner and were planning on playing a night of games, but my mom had accidentally left her medicine back at the Pay’s so we went back to get her the medicine. We stayed up late talking.
The next day, we headed back home. We dropped my parents off in Hurricane and we got back to Kelly’s home about 2 am. I drove back home and slept well that night.
For the next few weeks, I worked remotely and did the best that I could in keeping my mind focused and working as hard as possible. I also visited a grief counselor for the first time. Her name was Jenny Vazquez and she worked at IMC in their Cancer department. She gave me paperwork that talks about the loss of a close loved one and I talked to her about the quick diagnosis and sharp decline.
The Friday before Memorial Day, Aleisha’s grandmother in Great Falls, MT died. She and her mom flew to Great Falls to resolve some family issues on Friday. I drove up on Tuesday along with tons of flowers as Aleisha was doing the flowers for the funeral. The hotel we stayed at in Great Falls was fabulous with a great view of the lake.
I had a very hard time being up there as I was projecting my feelings for my dad into that funeral. For the viewing, I stayed in the foyer most of the time with the kids. I was only able to be in the chapel for about half of the actual funeral. We got lost on the way to the cemetery, but found it relatively quickly. It was a pretty cemetery.
We drove straight through from Great Falls to Hurricane, UT. When we got there, my dad had deteriorated a great deal in the week we were in Montana. He was now no longer really eating meals. He was mostly drinking milk, eating sno-cones from the shack a few miles away, and popsicles. On Monday, he was able to walk around with relative ease.
Each day after, it was a new adventure every 12 hours. He went downhill very quickly. On Tuesday, members of the Highway Patrol came to visit him and he enjoyed their visit. By Wednesday, he was in the wheelchair most of the time and was the last time he watched a tv show. On Thursday, he was barely able to stay awake and stay focused. We went to his first visit with his hospice doctor who thought that we had maybe given him too much morphine that day, but he seemed to be doing as well as could be expected.
On Thursday night, I got to do the wonderful “switching of roles” with my dad. He was insisting on staying standing to urinate, but he didn’t have the strength to stay in the standing position without help. So, I got to tell him that I needed him to do as I asked because I was there to take care of him, but I couldn’t do that if he refused to do things to make the process easier on both of us. As I talked to him, I looked in his eyes. He nodded his understanding.
By Friday, we had a nurse come in and give him a shower. That took all morning. By the time the shower was done, we had ordered a hospital bed and it arrived. While the bed was set up, my dad sat in his wheelchair and took a nap. We moved him into the bed about 5pm. My in-laws and some long time family friends were there with my dad on Friday. They talked to him, held his hand, and just hung out with him. My cousin, Garry, and his son Connor, came to see him that night as they were in town for one of Connor’s sporting events. He was very happy to see them. They brought him chocolate milk.
My dad was worried that he would not see his brother Gary, who died 6 years ago, when my dad died. He was worried that because Gary did not have the same belief system that he could not be there for my dad. Friday night, at about 9 pm, I talked to him and told him that he would be able to see his brother.
We went to bed and went to sleep at about 11pm. Aleisha woke up about 1 and went to check on him. She woke up my mom and me. My mom saw a flash of light right before Aleisha entered the room. I got into my dad’s side to hear his last breath. My mom feels that the flash of light was my dad saying goodbye to her.
My dad died at 1:12 am Saturday, June 12th. I held his hand for about a half hour after he died. The three of us were in the room with him for that time, mostly not talking, soaking in the moment, and realizing what had just happened.
We called the hospice nurse who came over and helped us dress him for the mortuary to come and take him. When we turned him over, blood gushed from his mouth. I got some of it on my hand and it splashed on the carpet. It was at this time that we found out that he had been bleeding internally for the past 3 days and, although related to his esophageal cancer, was what officially killed him.
Garry came back over, as did my in-laws to be with us after his body had been taken away. It helped a lot that even Garry said that he would not have expected Uncle Bob to die within hours of when he left.
Scott Lane and his wife had come into town to see my dad on Friday night, but they came in very late and ended up not coming over until Saturday morning. He helped out immensely by being the secretary and commandeering all that happens in the first 24 hours after death.
I don’t think that anyone is truly ready to lose a parent. The support that has been there your entire life is no longer there. You can no longer tell that funny story, get advice, just talk to them or spend time with them any more. Even though that seems obvious, it really isn’t. The paradigm shift is so major that you can’t grasp it all at once.
Many calls were made to let people know and to arrange those who could to come into town. My mom and I went to the funeral home that afternoon and set up many of the details. After coming back from that, we pulled into a parking lot and just talked for an hour, preparing ourselves for the next few days.
The people in my parent’s ward were amazing. Food was brought for lunch and dinner for the next few days. Even just in support and mourning for the loss of my dad. Much of the next few days are now a blur. Dennis Burback, Casey’s husband took me to ‘Get Him to the Greek’ on Monday night and “A-Team’ on Tuesday night. They were a welcome reprieve. It helped me just get my mind off of the situation for those few hours and was greatly appreciated. His son, Chance, wanted to play Boules in my parent’s yard a lot. The heat of the summer was already upon us, so we didn’t play as much as we would have liked, but it was a welcome distraction.
Aleisha did the flowers for his funeral as well. She also helped put on the party that she was asked to do by my dad on the previous Wednesday. With help from the ward members, it came off beautifully.
Randy put together a great picture slideshow that was played at the luncheon. Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler” was the music behind it which made some laugh, and a offended a few.
My dad’s funeral was held on Wednesday and he was buried in Nephi on Thursday. I gave about a 15 minute talk at his funeral. At his burial, the Highway Patrol gave him aa 21 gun salute. My mom received the flag, a patch, and shell casings. We received some shell casings.
Aleisha and I went back home for the weekend as it was the weekend of our 20th high school reunion. Eric Taylor was the leader of it and he did a fabulous job of it. It was very strange to me because I was in a bit of shock anyway, and then to flash back 20 years made the whole thing very surreal.
I went back down to Hurricane for the next 2 weeks to help my mom with all of the necessary paperwork that comes with the death of a husband. We switched over bills, cancelled credit cards, applied for insurance, and much more.
This is when my sleeping problems started. I am a night owl anyway and am usually awake until 1 am. I started having nightmares about my dad not being able to go to the bathroom or going to dinner with him and he was fine when the meal started and by the time we were done, he had lost a ton of weight and was close to death. I was unable to sleep and would often be awake until 7 or 8 in the morning, sleep for 3-5 hours and then start the cycle again.
I was still working remotely, but my work performance started to go downhill. The quality of my work was not the normal high standard I like to achieve. I was getting into a sleep deprivation mode. I was in mourning. I was crying every time I would take a shower.
Aleisha came down for the 4th of July and we got our own fireworks show when we sat at a remote area to see the fireworks and ended up being front row because of where they were being shot from. It was awesome.
After that, I went back home and tried to reassimilate into life. It was extremely difficult. I was still working remotely, but then my work quality dropped sharply, so I was asked to step back for a while.
I started to see Jenny Vasquez again as my grief counselor, and I took a month long break from Pinnacle. I got sleeping pills to get me back into a regular sleeping schedule. I made an appointment to get a new doctor in Salt Lake and got a physical which came out well.
One of my assignments from jenny was to see at least one movie in a theater each week. I saw many of the major summer movies in the theater- Toy Story 3, jonah Hex, Last Airbender, Predators, Knight & Day, Prince of Persia, Other Guys, Salt, Inception, and many others.
On July 29th, my dad’s birthday, we went to bear Lake for a Nelson (my mother in law’s maternal family). I was a mess. We were car camping, spent a lot of time outdoors (two of my not-favorite things), and I was still mourning my dad. In all honesty, it was a great time, but I was not ready for it.
We left there and went to Vegas the next day for my 2 year early 40th birthday party that we were hoping my dad would be alive for. I took my dad’s ticket and went with my mom to Terry Fator who is a singing ventriloquist. It was a fabulous show, but it was hard to know that I had my dad’s ticket. I stayed out extremely late at night, not taking my sleeping pills, just wandering Fremont Street and portions of the Strip, watching people, gambling, eating, and trying to take back the city- as it was my dad’s favorite city. Casey and her family came, along with Randy and Shannon. We played games, saw Inception, ate well, and had a good time together, but we were still all in a daze.
I went to the dentist the day before I returned to work. We planned to do much work. By the end of the year, I had made 7 more dentist’s visits and have many more planned for 2011.
I returned to work and was welcomed back with open arms. My peers and my superiors were asking how I was doing and I could tell that they meant it. It was a big help to have that support from a work environment.
On September 6th, my birthday, I went to 2 movies- Sorcerer’s Apprentice and The American. I enjoyed them both, even though they were very different. When I went home, Aleisha had planned a surprise party and had several couples come over and we ate and talked and had a good time.
For the next couple of months, I started feeling better and stronger emotionally and mentally. I had a hard time focusing and not zoning out, but as the fall progressed, I kept my focus. My work started improving again. I kept visiting with Jenny Vazquez. It was every week, went to every other week, and then every third week. I kept seeing movies in a theater, at least one a week. On October 1st, I did both Let Me In and Social Network, with Social Network becoming my favorite film of the year.
One of my cousin Greg’s sons returned to BYU after his mission and we saw he and his mom several times through August and October. We went to an Italian restaurant in August, Rodizio Grill at the end of August, and Iceberg Drive In in October. We had a blast being with them.
I went back to Blockbuster for 2 nights a week to help us with our financial situation and to get the free rental benefits, which also help on the financial situation. I am working at a store whose manager is a guy that I trained when I worked full time at Blockbuster. He and I have stayed good friends throughout the years and it is a pleasure to be working with him again.
Aleisha and I stayed pretty holed up as we recuperated from the summer. We only communicated with those very close to us and had a very difficult time wanting to go to large group gatherings.
The holidays approached and we were still feeling pretty cautious about our outer interactions with people. We still weren’t feeling festive, but as Thanksgiving approached, we planned for decorating the house and doing those holiday parties. I started getting sick the week before Thanksgiving, as is my custom, to get sick in October or November.
Then, 2 days before Thanksgiving, my cousin Greg, who was a lawyer in Texas, died in a plane crash. After the events of the year, this hit both Aleisha and I very hard in different ways.
We spent Thanksgiving with Aleisha’s family and headed out the next day and drove to Austin Texas to be there with his family. We took a day of travelling to ourselves and went to a Bar & Grill that had an excellent burger which I remembered from my teenage years, saw the place where the first atomic bomb was exploded, and visited Roswell, NM.
When we got there, we stayed at their friend’s house, saw Stephanie and the kids each day for at least a moment. I took Austin and Reid to Unstoppable, just as Dennis had done for me a few months prior.
The funeral was very difficult for me, emotionally, but it was great to get to know my cousin from more of a work standpoint. Most of the speakers were work colleagues. He was so humble that he never talked much about work, even though Aleisha and I both found it fascinating. I was asked to give the family prayer and was very glad to do so, even though I felt nowhere near up to the task.
We returned and the holidays just did not feel like the holidays. We went to our jobs, but again, did the bare minimum of holiday activities. It was really difficult to want to leave our cozy apartment and be in a madhouse of parties and activities and try to pretend that we were just fine and happy to be there.
My mom, Aleisha, and I spent Christmas in Phoenix with Casey and her family- again playing games, eating, and seeing movies. We had a blast, but it still didn’t feel like Christmas.
New Year’s has now come and gone and besides watching a bunch of movies, it, again, didn’t feel like New Year’s. On New Year’s Eve, we cleaned out our storage area and I now have a place where I have a writing desk.
My New Year’s resolution is to update this blog much more often. I know that I have said that in the past. This past 9 months, though, I really have had the urge to do so, but, I knew that before I did, I would have to write this. I didn’t want to pretend that everything was fine, but I also wasn’t ready to write this all down yet. Now, with my working area all set, I think this will be a much easier time to keep my blog updated and to finally finish my novel.
Here’s looking forward to a much better 2011!