Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Neighborhood war

I was dreaming that I was pregnant, but my belly was no bigger than it is now. My friends already had showered me with baby gifts, and I was in the middle of explaining to my parents that I couldn't possibly be pregnant and thinking of a way to return all the bottles, onesies and stuffed animals. Then, I heard this deep loud noise, and woke up. I turned over and shut my eyes, trying to salvage the ten minutes or so until my alarm went off.
There it was again. The sound of a horn. Not a horn from a regular car, but a low sound that kids on school buses beckon for when they pass a semi truck on the road. Five minutes later, the horn sounded again. Only this time it was longer, sending vibrations through our house. Then yelling. And although I couldn't make out the words being exchanged, I knew what it was about.
It was Brad, our neighbor two houses down the street. Our next-door neighbors, who include about 12 people in a two-bedroom house, have clashed with Brad ever since they moved in last winter. Especially the teenage boys and their friends, who start their games of two-on-two basketball no earlier than 11 p.m. on the weekdays. There are many nights when Brad can be seen outdoors in his bath robe, yelling at the kids to "shut the fuck up. Some people have to get up at 4 a.m."
Sometimes, he'll call over my brother for backup. There's something about him that scares those kids. Whether it's his motorcycle or hot temper, I can't be sure. But it works, and the boys usually retreat inside shortly after Jesse's had a word with them.
Last night's fight, however, must have been a doozy. Brad was a crazed man this morning, doing everything in his power to wake up the teens who've regularly disturbed his sleeping pattern. So there he was, at 7:30 a.m., sitting inside his massive RV (think "Meet the Fockers") laying on his horn for minutes at a time. Then, just after 8 a.m., so as not to violate the St. Clair Shores noise ordinance, he pulled out his weed wacker, revving its engine as loudly as possible.
I left for work before the matter was resolved. But my parents say it ended with a boom box, the police and a series of tickets.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

You mean I need a job?

Three weeks left in my internship and no job. That's where I find myself.
Although, to be honest, I haven't been trying very hard to find one. OK, hardly trying at all. I don't really know what's stopping me. For instance, why am I wasting my time writing this instead of searching or putting together some clips?
I think I just am really unsure about what I want to do. Or I know what I want to do and it doesn't look possible.
My goal always has been to be a medical or health writer, not necessarily for a newspaper, but for a magazine or journal, or better yet, for a medical organization that works to find a cure for AIDS or cancer. I didn't study structures of compounds or the bones of the body for nothing in school, and I really want to have a career that helps others in some way. Sometimes I feel like journalism is selfish. I write a story and I doubt anyone will really care about it, except for me, when my byline appears by it the next day.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a strong believer in the importance of the newspaper to its community. It's the watchdog, the record-keeper, the informer and entertainer. I'm just not sure that working for a daily paper is something I want to do for the rest of my life.
So that brings me back to my job search, or lack thereof. Do I apply for the entry-level reporting positions posted all over the Internet, that I know I have a decent chance of getting? A job is a job, isn't it? And it doesn't have to be forever.
But then again, I'm scared of getting stuck. Once I get settled in somewhere, I know it would be hard to leave. Happiness is really most important to me, even if it means being without income for a bit. So maybe there's no better time than now to find a job I'm really excited about, while my parents are still willing to foot the bill for room and board.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Random update

I don’t have much to say, but I feel the need to update this once in a while. Otherwise, I fear that no one will know what’s going on in my life. Or maybe just Abbey, since she’s probably the only one who consistently reads this like I constantly checks hers.
So here's the cliffs notes edition, if you will, of the last few days.
Friday: Drove to East Lansing to meet up with Amy, Chris and Kris to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you haven't seen it, you should. It fell flat in some areas, but Johnny Depp pulled off a great performance once again, with what I think was a little inspiration from Michael Jackson.
Saturday: Threw a "pool party" at my house, which because of an afternoon of flash floods and gray skies, turned out to be a "sit around and stare at the pool party." It was still a good time. Kris had a couple mojitos, six actually, and it was nice to talk with old friends.
Sunday: Went shopping with my mom, so she could destress from spending so much time lately with my grandma. Yes, sometimes staring at clothes and buying way more than you can afford is the best way to get your mind off of problems.
Monday: Spent my first day reporting downtown. I miss the Oakland bureau. Even though there are what seem like hundreds of people in the main office, it's much more lonely. People don't really talk to me there, besides the editors, who have that task in their job description.
Today: We had a family get together to celebrate my brother's birthday. Inspired by my mojito experiment this weekend, my mom decided to make the drink for the party, finished off quite a few glasses so she could handle talking with my aunt and ended up having to go to my grandma's apartment drunk because of problems she's having keeping in fluids (from the caudal end of the body). Yum.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Teen no more

Today is my brother's 20th birthday, and the time of the year when for less than a month, he can brag that he's just a year younger than me.
My mom, being the sentimental person she is, has his baby picture out on the kitchen table, propped up next to his presents. It makes me think, not just about what an ugly baby he was (well, not hideous, just not cute), but about if my brother is the person I thought he'd become years ago.
When I was younger, I used to wonder what he'd be like in middle school, in high school, as an adult. Would my kid brother, who harassed me and my friends like he was an older brother, be in the popular crowd at school? Would he get good grades? Would he continue to be obsessed with remote control cars, bicycles, Mickey Mouse and video games? What would he look like? Tall like me? Short like my mom? What would he be?
Twenty years down the road, there's really no clear answer. Although the brother I see now might be completely different from the brother I saw as a 2-year-old, 10-year-old or 18-year-old, I just see him as Jesse.
Yes, the Mickey Mouse dolls have been given to charity and his fixation with bicycles has transformed to motorcycles, but to me he's not much different than the day he was born.
Just maybe not as ugly.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Babies on the way

Two baby showers in one weekend.
The first was for Tara May. I hadn’t seen her since she graduated more than a year ago, so seeing her seven and a half months pregnant was quite a surprise. I can’t believe she’s having a baby. The party was a nice twist on the conventional baby shower. It was in the family’s backyard in Lowell, with hot dogs, beautiful (and illegal) fireworks and the biggest bonfire I’ve ever seen. The kind that makes you worry that the brush will catch fire and engulf the backyard in flames.
My cousin Nikki’s shower on the other hand was the traditional type, which means on the boring side. We played ever-so-exciting games such as baby bingo. And I won the Q-tip guessing contest. There were 818 of them in a glass bowl, which I estimated to be 500.
For that I won a pasta and green bean strainer.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Death wish

What makes people lose the will to live?
Sickness, depression, frustration, stress?
I don't know what it is, but I do know that once you've lost it, it's hard to get it back.
I've seen it happen to my grandpa, who after forgetting directions, how to cook, the day of the week, the pills he took, and even me, refused to eat anymore. We took turns, forcing one, maybe two spoonfuls of mushed-up food into his mouth before he'd shake his head and clamp his teeth shut. The doctors told us his body was shutting down, and he was only listening to what it told him.
He died soon after.
Now I'm afraid my grandma is doing the same thing.
When my parents went to visit Tuesday, they found her on the couch, ready to die.
"This is it," she told my mom.
Inside her bedroom, she had written a note to my dad with instructions about what to do with her body. And she refuses to eat.
But my grandma isn't sick. She doesn't have Alzheimer's like gramps did. Her back injury has progressively gotten worse during the years and she refuses to see a doctor for it. She's eating pain killers instead of food. But she's a relatively healthy 83-year-old.
She's not dying from any natural cause.
I'm just afraid that she'll make herself.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Blue Men

It was a really fun holiday weekend.
On Friday, I drove to East Lansing right after work to meet up with Amy. We hung out with her new boyfriend, at least I think I can safely call him that, and his friends and headed over to Rick's. The boys live in Treehouse apartments, only a block down the street from Evergreen Arms, so both to and from the bar Amy and I did our share of looking up at 11F's balcony and feeling sad.
Rick's was fun as usual, and we didn't even get the chance to play photo hunt this time. I don't clearly remember much more, except for what Amy and I were able to piece together the next day. People were running and wrestling and a toe nail was torn off. Chris, Amy's boyfriend, had one too many Sparks and was dancing, no bouncing, all over the walls, the ceiling and a small table in the living room. It was a good night.
The next day, Amy and I drove to Chicago. We did well navigating ourselves to the city, until we got close. When we reached downtown, we somehow headed south, instead of north, and ended up asking for directions from an assisted living security guard in not-the-best area of town. He tried to point us in the right direction and told us repeatedly to "look for the men in blue. Don't ask directions from just anybody. You look for the men in blue." We must have looked pretty helpless.
We didn't need to ask for further directions. We found our hotel, the Beldon Stratford, just fine from there. It was a pretty fancy place, chandeliers, extravagant carpet and valet-only parking (no other choice, we asked). Our room could have comfortably served as an apartment with its full-size fridge, stove and microwave. I definitely felt out of place there.
Amy went star-crazy, convinced that since some celebrities live/visit Chicago, we were destined to them all in our night there. As we ate dinner at a restaurant down the street from our hotel, she stared almost nonstop at a girl she swore was Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina, or better yet Clarissa for those not in the know.) I looked, and although I admit there was a resemblance, it definitely was not her. Amy continued to stare, was tempted to snap a picture with her camera phone and screamed "Melissa" as we left to see if she'd look our way. She didn't.
We also spotted, actually Amy spotted, Hugh Grant, Rubin Stoddard and Demi Moore, among others.
We walked to the theater, which was only about a mile from our hotel. Blue Man Group was amazing. We were front row, center, and they were right in our faces. We had to wear ponchos to fend off the chewed up Captin' Crunch cereal and Twinkie vomit propelled off the stage. Afterward, we took pictures with the blue men and stopped for a martini before heading to bed. We felt sophisticated sipping on our ritzy drinks, and tried hold back the shudders we had every time we took a sip of the Manhattan.
We got an early start Sunday and got back to East Lansing in good time. Then we drove to Chris' cottage in New Baltimore for a day on the lake. However, when we got there Chris was no where to be found. His family, on the other hand, was everywhere, and drunk. Parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, including one who called us whores. It was a little awkward, to say the least, until Chris finally arrived from his friend's boat an hour later. Then he felt bad, and drunk, and entertained us the rest of the evening with golf cart rides, his dad's dancing and a pool party at his friend's house.
Overall, it was a great weekend. Three nights in three cities and I still had Monday to relax.