April 30, 2008
In high school we had sleepovers, we ate Ben & Jerry's out of the containers and would walk from her Mom's house downtown to Cosmic Comics to peruse the newest arrivals. We played Magic the Gathering with each other, with her brother and his friends, and at some point during high school I of course developed the requisite crush-on-best-friends-brother. With X, I tried my first sip of alcohol (we snuck some of her father's Port and I promptly spit it out) and smoked pot for the first time. She's cute, she's beautiful, in high school with her pixie cut and red lipstick she looked like a young and pretty Liza Minelli. She died her hair with henna and wrote stories and drew amazing cartoons and pictures. Somewhere, there's a tape made at her 16th birthday party, and I'm pretty sure I was wearing some sort of tie dye.
In 2003 Xotchil helped me celebrate my marriage by being in my wedding, and the next year I did the same for her. She is an artist, always impressive and creative, and designed her own wedding dress. We both had calla lillies. For my birthday one year, she painted a painting for me that now hangs in my bedroom.
Another bit of happiness was added to the happiest day of my life when Xotchil found out she was pregnant the day I gave birth to my son. A couple of months later, I thought she was joking when she called after her big ultrasound and told me it was a boy.... AND a girl! A year and a half ago I cried as I drove 45 minutes to the hospital where Xotchil was in premature labor with her twins. By the time I got there, she'd been in the hospital for less than 1/2 a day and the twins had been born - 10 weeks early. She found out she was pregnant with them on my son's first birthday. I sat with her in the hospital. Today her twins are totally adorable, and you'd never even know they were preemies. Amazingly strong, she visited them in the hospital daily even when they couldn't be picked up. I admire her and her husband greatly for the strength they displayed, despite the fact that their hearts must have been healing from the brokenness that comes with seeing your tiny baby inside a plastic box with tubes and wires and very, very tiny hats and diapers.
I've actually been thinking about Xotchil a lot recently because I found out a couple of weeks ago that this weekend she and her family are moving to another state, and will be over six hours away. We don't see each other enough as it is, and suddenly the idea of her being so far away broke my heart a little bit. I will miss her, but hopefully I'll find the time and funds to be able to make the drive and visit at least a couple of times a year. Luckily, like me, Xotchil is a writer, and we have been able to successfully keep up with each other through our blogs, letter writing, and e-mails. I love being able to look back at the things we've written and what has been important in our lives since we met, and I am looking forward to many more years of laughs, leaning on each other, and watching our kids grow up together.
April 29, 2008
She is another friend who has given me great perspective on how easy I've had it and how lucky I got with my parents. Sati didn't always have an easy life. Although she was in contact with her father, she doesn't see or talk to him on a very regular basis. I watched her struggle with her relationship with him and it helped me to realize how good my relationship with my own father was, even though I didn't always feel that way. Her mother was, for much of the time I knew her, raising her 4 kids primarily on her own, and it wasn't always easy, and she wasn't always the nicest person. She never realized how lucky she'd gotten with Sati until her two younger daughters grew up and started getting into trouble. For much of the time when Sati still lived at home, she was one of the primary caregivers for her younger sisters (8-10 years younger than her).
S didn't always have great self image. For 5 years starting with our junior year in high school, she was unhappy. She didn't know her own worth, and she started gaining weight - a lot of weight. With the weight just came more unhappiness, bitterness, and not liking herself. Throughout that time, the amount of time we spent together grew and shrunk. In high school, and right after, we spent a lot of time together. In 1999 I met my now-husband, and the next year we moved. A while after that, Sati moved to the same area and I got to see her more. In December of 2002, Sati had gastric bypass surgery. Now, I have issues with my weight as well, and according to BMI charts and the internet, I am obese. Sometimes my self image is up, sometimes it's down. At the time that Sati made the decision to go through with the surgery, I felt weird about it. I didn't necessarily agree with her decision. I always thought that this was 'the easy way out', that people should try harder etc. Because of this, I didn't talk to her a ton between then and my wedding in July of the next year. She lost a lot of weight very quickly. I'm sure there was a part of me that was jealous. I wished that I could take that way out too. Unfortunately, because of my biased behavior, I missed out on having her more involved in planning my wedding. Luckily, she was still part of the ceremony. Within a year of the surgery I had no doubt in my mind that it was the right decision for her, and that it had completely changed her life. Sati became one of the happiest, most caring, compassionate and generous people I know. It's like through her physical transformation she was able to be her true self, and become the person that she's meant to be, and I love her all the more for it.
The first time I drove a car, I was 15 and it was in Sati's car. We were in the parking lot at school and I was so freaked out I didn't even want to press down on the gas pedal. We walked together in our high school graduation ceremony. We got our first apartment together the year after we graduated. She was there when I started dating my now-husband, and became close friends with him as well. We've spent birthdays and holidays together. She visited me in the hospital the day I had my son, and then told me later that she always knew I was meant to be a Mother and that above everything that's what I wanted to do - something I didn't always see myself.
In high school, we had sleepovers on the weekends for weeks and months in a row, we ran outside and danced under streetlights in the snow in the middle of the night, we took shots of Captain Morgan's and Black Velvet at parties we were invited to. Sati and I loved watching Remington Steele and decided if we weren't married by the time we were 30 we would kidnap Pierce Brosnan and live out our days in a secluded cabin with him. In our senior year, we skipped prom and the senior trip and instead saved up our money to travel on our first trip all by ourselves to California and did a whirlwind tour of Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo. It was amazing.
I've worked with Sati at two different jobs - one of which was my first job. We worked together in the kitchen/cafeteria in a Bingo hall in the town where we went to high school. It was definitely an odd job, and you would go home every night smelling like gravy. We had some really great times there and learned together how to use the espresso machine, how much it sucks to clean a hot dog machine, and how much it hurts when you spill hot nacho cheese on your hand (sticky!). Later, we worked at a call center together, and I remember her teasing me when I met now-husband and telling me that he liked me.
No matter how much time goes by in between our visits, we pick up where we left off. Now Sati has a wonderful boyfriend, and it's amazing to see her going into the kind of love that you have with someone that you're really going to be with. We've both matured at our own rates, but we go back and forth in who is 'ahead' and always catch up with each other. I can't wait to see where her future takes her, and I think that one day she'll be a great mother to a child of her own. I love it that I can call her after months and that she'll still be one of my best friends, we'll always have that connection. I picture us sitting around chatting as old ladies, and I can't wait.
April 28, 2008
Today's friend is Violet. I have known Violet for almost 7 years, we met in June of 2001 when I started work at Borders Books as a lowly cashier, and she was the supervisor of the music section. I remember that I was intimidated by her with her burgundy hair and white bangs, she seemed so much cooler and wordly than me. Only 2 years after we met, she was part of my wedding party with her awesome bright purple hair and Celtic tattoos. V was pregnant with her first child only a couple of months after we met. She didn't have any friends with children, and I remember how tiny her daughter was when she was first born and how I was afraid to hold her until she was almost six months old. Now, I cry with pride when I see her as a six year old singing in front of the church.
I call Violet my soulmate. My husband is my heart-mate, but I share so much in common with V that it can't just be a coincidence. We both have a strong East Coast connection - she grew up in PA and went to college in Philly, I was born in State College, PA and lived there off and on as well as visiting a plethora of relatives in that area on an annual or bi-annual basis for most of my life. We both understand how cool South Street is and why Tasty Cakes are so much better than Twinkies. We both love books, movies, everything Vampire and Lycanthrope, shows that entertain us and rip out our hearts (Buffy, Grey's, Battlestar). We both got married young and believe that marriage is forever, but also know just how much work it really is.
Working at Borders with V on the special process team was probably the best work experience I've ever had. Along with J, our 3rd team member, we had some of the best times I've ever had at work and our team ran like a well oiled machine. Violet introduced me to Rhett Miller, Fallout Boy, OK Go, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K Hamilton, Battlestar Galactica, Sportsnight, Grey's Anatomy... If she likes a musician or author, chances are I will like it too. She led me into the world of small concert venues in an arena-concert world and we've enjoyed many nights at the Showbox and other local venues. We've gotten 3 tattoos together.
When I had trouble getting pregnant, Violet was totally there for me and not afraid to admit that she felt bad going through her own pregnancy and being around me so much when I longed for a baby of my own. But I was so close to her family that instead of hurting me, cuddling her 2 year old and her new baby always made me feel better. When I finally got pregnant, I had learned so much from V that my transition into being a first time parent was probably about 10 times easier than when she'd done it, alone and without the advice of a well seasoned Mom for a friend. We've shared great times, and some really, really hard ones. We've cried together and laughed a lot. When I had my big pre-wedding cold feet freakout, it was Violet who was there for me. When I got pregnant, she was the first person other than my husband who I told about it. I was too scared to even be excited and waiting for my blood test results. We can talk candidly about any subject.
Violet is one of the first friends I've had in my life who is a practicing Christian. Over the years, she's listened to me talk about faith and my lack thereof for countless hours. We've had great conversations and she's always supported me and invited me to church with her for Easter and whenever there were fun special events. She never judged me, and never acted as though my questions or feeling on the subject were stupid or wrong. If I hadn't met her, I would never have been introduced to the amazing environment and congregation at Lake Forest Park Presbyterian Church, and I would not have attended the new members class that changed my life forever. The first time I prayed, it was for the tiny baby growing inside Violet right next to the IUD that didn't work quite so well.
Today, Violet has three beautiful children who are 5 months, 4 years and 6 years old. I love them too much to describe. Since V and her husband are both only children, I have the pleasure of being a sort of 'Aunt' to the kids, and I am honored to be that. Since I recently moved back to Bellingham, which is 1.5 hours north of the Seattle area, but I still work in Seattle on Mondays, I get the pleasure of having a sleepover with my best friend EVERY WEEKEND for one or two nights. She and her husband open their home to me, my home away from home, weekly so I can keep my job and have a break from being with my son 24/7. I enjoy holding the baby so that V can cook dinner (which never fails to be completely delicious), listening to 4 talk about Pokemon, and watching 6 do her homework on Sunday nights.
Violet is incredibly intelligent, an amazing mother and person, and so, so real. She is an amazing cook - I could probably live on her guacamole and the bread she makes. She is crafty as all getout - she sews, she knits, last year she made her 3 year old son the sweetest costume for halloween - a hammerhead shark made of silver vinyl. She reads and has intelligent opinions, and like me, doesn't watch the news because it's too depressing and sensationalistic. We can laugh together, vent about our husbands and children, and talk about nothing in the dark for hours, and I love her.
April 27, 2008
I tend to do this thing where I am in the middle of several books at once. I'm doing it now, and making better progress on some than others.
I just finished "Invasive Procedures", which I picked out because Orson Scott Card co-wrote it. It was interesting, although it definitely read like a movie script - I could see it only taking up 2 hours and it was rather open ended.
I checked out "The Time Travellers Wife" by Audrey Nifenegger on CD from the library to listen to during my long drives to Seattle. I am only about 1/6 of the way through it and I am already IN LOVE with it. It's amazingly written, and from the very beginning it pulls on your heartstrings in a way that not many books do. I can't wait for the rest of the story.
I'm also currently in the middle of "The Yanti" by Christopher Pike, third in his 'Alosha' series. I like reading Young Adult Sci-Fi because it tends to be more fantasy based, more character driven, and not so heavy and hard core sciency. I just started this series a couple of weeks ago, I think this is the last book in the series, and it's quite good.
Last but not least... the current book club book. For May's meeting we are reading "Personal History" by Katherine Graham. It's freaking long. Like, 600 pages I think. I've gotten 100 pages into it and I'm having trouble going on. It's soooo dry, and so far I just don't find it compellnig. I like biographies, but I guess I prefer more offbeat or unusual stories. So far Katherine has grown up in a very wealthy home, never wanted for much, and is getting a job at the newspaper her father owns. I'm fairly certain I'm not going to be able to finish this one before the meeting.
I'm also about halfway through "Rockabye" by Rebecca Woolf of the blog Girl's Gone Child. I went and saw Rebecca do a reading yesterday at Elliot Bay Books in Seattle. It was great. She read a few chapters from the book and then signed our books and chatted and answered questions. She also had a fabulously cute outfit that I wished I could pull off.
Next on my plate... FINALLY reading "The Harlequin" by Laurell K. Hamilton, getting to some of the books over on my "to read in 2008" list, and looking forward to the releases of "Breaking Dawn" (8/2/08) and "The Host" (5/6/08) by Stephanie Meyer and "Swallowing Darkness" (11/4/08) and "Blood Noir" (5/27/08) by Laurell K. Hamilton. I also need to get caught up on the Charlaine Harris books, and there are a couple of new Joanne Harris books I'd like to read.
Also, I went to the mall today and I LOVE my new shoes:
April 24, 2008
April 23, 2008
Syesha was freaking awesome.
Dreadlock guy sucked (I don't remember his name for some reason... ooh I remember, Jason!). He should have done something fun and more upbeat.
Brooke White, not the best performance ever.
David Archuleta - I'm not usually a big fan, but he was great. I tend to think he's a little boring, but last night he put his own spin on it and made a song from a musical sound like it could be a top of the charts pop song. Kudos.
And they saved my 2 favs for last!
Carly - did a good job, I'm glad he told her to switch songs, because the first one was definitely not right. She did have a little trouble w/the lyrics, but I still love her.
David Cook - Eh. Great vocal performance but I was really excited for him to take one of the songs and do it his own way, and he didn't.
Bottom 3.... I think it will be Jason, Brooke, and maybe David because he just wasn't extraordinary last night. We'll see...
April 22, 2008
Little things of late...
- If Sam has a waffle or a granola bar or any other food, and decides he doesn't want it, he will generally bring it over and hand it to me instead of leaving it in some random place to rot.
- Looking up and seeing Sam walking around in his giant black glasses.
- What could be more awesome than Sam doing things that we didn't even know he could do? Holding an elephant toy and making an elephant sound! Climbing up the plastic 'rocks' on the playground and going down the big slide all by himself! Doing the movements to the Itsy Bitsy Spider when you sing it to him!
- If you get hurt, Sam will come and give you a kiss.
- Sam likes to sit still and have entire books read to him now (his FAVORITE book is Go Dog Go).
- The way Sam turns in a circle right in front of me before settling in to cuddle with me.
- Mischevious, sideways glancing smiles.
Also yesterday, we went to a playground and Sam went down the tube slide and ran around and had fun. I'm trying to figure out how to upload pictures from my cell phone.
PS This makes me laugh.
April 21, 2008
April 19, 2008
So, we have been hanging out this week. Here is one of the reasons I love Sam. I will be looking up something on the computer or cleaning up his toys, and look up and be faced with this:
Sam has these glasses, they're 3-D glasses from when I went and saw Beowulf and I popped the little plastic lenses out so he could play with them. Sometimes he puts them on and just walks around like that and plays for a half hour at a time... awesome.
Thursday we went to a fun playdate with our new Bellingham Mom's group and had fun. Sam was a little crabby and sleepy, but he did pretty well. He didn't nap that day or on Friday, which kind of sucks because he gets crabby in the evening. The upside is that then he goes to bed at 8:20 or so, and I get a little more time to myself. Which I need if he didn't take a nap!
On Friday we spent the day with Grandma and took Sam to Great Clips to get his first REAL haircut not done by Mommy. He did great, he pulled away some and didn't always want to keep his head up, and he wouldn't keep the cape on, but hey, that's what the washing machine is for. Sam is obsessed with buckles right now, so we bought him a little dog collar with a buckle (the kind that are on backpacks and shopping cart seatbelts) and he played with that for part of the time, then when all else was lost started feeding him M&Ms, which worked nicely.
And then Sam got his first sucker.
So, we had a fun day yesterday. Somehow even when Justin's out of town, I still manage to get things done around the house. So far this week I have cleaned Sam's room, cleaned up the living room every night before bed, vaccuumed the area rug, went through all the mail, cleaned off the dining room table (aka junk gathering surface), done 3 loads of laundry, washed all of the dishes in the sink (dishwasher is broken, so my next round is to wash all the dishes that were in the dishwasher when it broke), cleaned out the refridgerator... Ahhh...
Did I mention that we taught Sam to fly?I also managed to post LOTS of new pictures on Flickr from Lorelai's party and random shots from April. Check them out. I leave you with cuteness:
April 15, 2008
- Clean the cat litter
- Open all the mail and sort it out
- Clear off the dining room table (aka dumping ground when we get home from anywhere)
- Put away load of clean babysized laundry
- Got 2nd load of laundry in dryer
- Got 3rd (final) load of laundry in washer
- Dust buster the living room area rug
- Clean Sam's room
- Unpack Justin, Sam and my bags from being in Seattle this weekend
Now I'm about to go make Sam lunch and lie on the couch until I cool down because for some reason I'm sweating right now. Ugh... viruses.
I'm happy to report that although my muscles are still sore, I am not having awful debilitating cramps. I probably won't go back today unless they start up again. I am sooooo glad that it seems like yesterday was the bad part and I'm on my way back to normal now. Also, kudos to the nurse there for doing the easiest blood draw that I've had in years, although it made me feel a little dumb for saying 'i have difficult veins'.
April 14, 2008
5. Everyone else
The movie is about a week long Rock & Roll music camp that takes place every summer in Oregon for girls of all ages. If you have a daughter, you should probably bring tissues, and if you're just a freak who likes to cry a lot (like me) you should also bring tissues. It's a really wonderful look into the lives of some normal girls and what they deal with in our society as they're growing up. The stories of the individual girls are filled out by their parents, the teachers at the camp, and a few nicely put together segments presenting statistics about girls today.
The next documentary I'm really looking forward to: Young at Heart.
April 13, 2008
B's Kids (especially when one of them somehow picks up the ring tone when my hubby calls and starts singing "we're not gonna pay" from Rent even though she doesn't know what Rent is)
The Swell Season tickets sitting in my purse right now
It was 70 degrees yesterday (forget about the fact that today it's raining)
My favorite song being part of the service at my once or twice monthly visits to old church in Seattle
My new haircut
Trees with blossoms blooming
April 10, 2008
On Tuesday Brooke called me as I was on my way home from my "office hours" at a cafe downtown. She asked what I was doing, I said that I had just had a playdate that morning with the Moms playdate group I joined up here and then Mom came over to watch Sam so I could work. She said 'You've only been up there for four weeks and you already have this whole routine'. For some reason, it's stuck with me. I really do feel like I've been able to slide right back into this comfortable life here. Despite all the stresses happening in my life right now, I feel more peaceful than I have in a long time, and it really reinforces in my mind that moving back here was the right thing.
On the Sam front, things are well! Justin has been putting him to bed every night for several weeks, he seemed to have a touch I didn't and could get Sam to lie down with his head on the pillow and let him leave the room without crying even if he didn't go to sleep right away. Tonight Justin was lying down and I decided to try and put Sam to bed myself since I was getting a little worried about Justin being gone next week and bedtime. I talked to him for a few minutes, we looked at a book, and then he laid down and put the blanket on himself! It was great.
Sam is definitely turning into a little boy and not a baby anymore. The other day I looked at him and he just looked so OLD - I can't believe he's going to be 2 in less than a month. How do I suddenly have a two year old?? He's adorable when he's happy. There is definitely a level of frustration now with the fact that he wants things and has opinions, but he can't talk and tell us what he wants. He points at things, but he still isn't using words. Usually about once a day something comes out of his mouth and it sounds like a word - the other day I swear he said 'hole' referring to one of those toys that has different shaped holes and things to put inside them. But then it passes and I'm never sure if he really said it or not. I think he probably did, and I think that he's right on the verge of really starting to talk - so exciting! Other things we've heard have been cheese, yogurt, and Diego among others.
Sam is also starting to get more interested in books. He's finally to the age where he'll bring me a book and want to sit or stand with me and actually let me read the book to him. It's so great to sit there with him and actually read the words and watch him point at things and look at the pictures. Wonderful. He really impressed me yesterday - we were reading a 'Dora the Explorer' book and at the end, he was able to identify Dora and Boots, but also Benny the Bull, Isa the Iguana, and Tico the Squirrel by pointing at them! He repeated it later for Justin to see as well.
One of the things I've been enjoying about being back in Bellingham is the time that Sam's been spending with Kira and my Mom. Kira comes over from 8:30-5 on Mondays to watch Sam while Justin and I are at work, and Mom comes over to watch Sam on Tuesday and Thursday from 3-5 as well as at other random times and visits during the weekend. He loves them so much and they love him too. He's such a lucky little kid, it brings tears to my eyes to think about all the love that surrounds him.
He's getting older and more able to deal with some things too, last week we went to a new church in Bellingham to try it out and he went right into the nursery and starting playing with toys without fussing or whining at all. We went to the Children's Museum today and he played with the other kids and I didn't have to keep my eye on him every second.
Okay... I'll stop gushing about how great my kid is for a bit. We are VERY excited because Helene and Lianna are coming to Washington and will be here for Sam's birthday party! We can't wait to see them.
What got it started? Probably the section with Reese Witherspoon where they showed empoverished children saying awful statistics. One in particular stuck with me. Every 6 hours, a child in the U.S. dies from abuse or neglect. Every six hours??? Frak. How can that even be possible?? And how come we are in some freaking war that is taking 42% of our tax money... shouldn't we be concentrating on our own problems before we go try to 'fix' someone else's? How can we let this happen?
I don't think about how lucky I am often enough. I look at Sam, and I think how lucky he is. I think about our money "problems" and think how lucky we are. Who cares if we can't pay our credit card bills? We live in a really nice house and we are surrounded by loving, supportive, friends and family. We have food in our cupboards, we have clean water to do our laundry, we have hot water to take showers, we have a comfortable bed to sleep in. We have been blessed beyond our understanding, and I hope that as I raise my children I can instill this in them and teach them how important it is to give back and help other people - every little bit helps.
So, you may think that American Idol is stupid (yeah, I think that some too), but anything that exposes American's to the stories they tell (even if it's only once a season) and raises $76 million dollars (last year's results) in one night to help people who desperately need it can't be all that bad.
Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love my little boy and I wouldn't give up any of the minutes that I've had with him, but sometimes when I think about going home after having already spent all day with him, the idea of just sitting around my house in the evening and playing or watching Yo Gabba Gabba AGAIN makes me want to scream.
I have this desire to just wander aimlessly around the streets of Bellingham, go into little shops, go to Village Books and browse for hours, eat at the Bagelry and Ciccitti's and Stanello's, ice cream at Mallards and movies at the Pickford. It's weird how much things change when you have a kid and no moolah. It's what I wanted, it's still what I want. I don't enjoy many things more than being a Mom. But sometimes I go through periods where I want to be just me a little more often...
April 9, 2008
April 8, 2008
Cut to today, and my new favorite comfy and local coffee shop:
This is The Black Drop Coffeehouse located in downtown Bellingham. Many thanks to Paul and Kira for recommending it. I'm sitting in it right now on a couch that is so oversized that I sink into it and feel like a kid, and drinking a kick-ass white chocolate mocha. I just spent several minutes overhearing one of the baristas talk to a customer about the new Ironman movie and a cameo by Robert Downey Jr as the Ironman character in the new Hulk movie. I heart this place.
Added bonus: I can come here to do my "office hours" on Tue & Thu because they have FREE wireless internet.
April 7, 2008
So, I found out a couple months ago about the Swell Season coming to Seattle. That's Glen Hansard and Markita Irglova from the movie "Once", which was my favorite movie last year and I love it to pieces.
Like an idiot, I did not take advantage of the pre-sale in the e-mail I got, and I missed out because I didn't expect it to sell out within like 2 days of going on sale. So, I've been looking for tickets. They're going on E-bay for over $100 per ticket, and I just can't afford that. I've been on Craig's List but mostly finding posts of people WANTING tickets. I had kind of resigned myself to not going, which made me want to cry a little bit.
Then this morning, I checked Craig's list and found an AD from someone who had 2 sets of tickets and was selling them FOR TICKET VALUE plus the Ticketmaster fees he paid. I just talked to him and I AM GETTING 2 TICKETS. For $92.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! I am so excited that I ran around for a second like a headless chicken. The thing is that he lives in Seattle and I don't, so I called my friend B and she and her husband agreed that they could go meet him tomorrow morning to get the tickets (which is a good deal for her too because she likes it too and will be accompanying me). WOO!
I am silently dancing and waving my hands around yelling.
April 6, 2008
I saw "The Ruins". It was not bad. I find it funny that I can watch a movie about killer plants and somehow that is WAY less unsettling to me than creepy crawlies, worms or spiders!
I ate falaffel for dinner made by my awesome friend Violet, who whips up things that I wouldn't even think to cook and then they are delicious, and who I admire for having three kids and still reading to the two older ones (the other one is only 4 months old and would rather chew on a book) every night at bedtime even thought it's not always convenient.
April 5, 2008
The hubby and I went out tonight and saw "Stop-Loss". I'm glad that I saw it with him, because if I'd been alone or with one of my girlfriends I fear that when the movie ended, I would have been crippled with grief and just sat in the theater crying until they kicked me out. As it was I had a hard time pulling it together.
Stop-loss, in the United States military, is the involuntary extension of a service member's enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond the normal end term of service (ETS) or the ceasing of a permanent change of station (PCS) move for a member still in military service.
From the director of the film, Kimberly Peirce:
"Everybody signed up because they wanted to, because they believed in defending their country," Peirce said. "If they wanted to go back to war they would have re-enlisted. People who are stop-lossed don't want to be stop-lossed or they would have re-enlisted. "»
Military families are appreciative (of the film) because they're the ones being affected as well. More than 81,000 soldiers have been stop-lossed, but think about how many family members that means."
Although the film was designed to shed light on America's stop-loss policy, Peirce said it is also meant as a commentary on the brotherhood and camaraderie between soldiers, and she gained insight into the military experience when her brother joined the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"We were IMing (instant messaging) when he was in combat, and he was explaining to me what his daily life was like," she said. "It was really helpful. But it was interesting. There was a limit to what he wanted to talk about because as we would delve into things, he would say, 'Hey, look. I'm a professional soldier. I'm not paid to think. And if I think too much about what you're asking me, I could get killed tonight.' And, given that that was my baby brother, I didn't want to talk about it."
So, she travelled the country talking to other veterans who could help her paint a better portrait of the military experience, and she said the research seems to be paying off.
"They're just so proud of it, the soldiers who participated," Peirce said. "So many soldiers have just come up to me and thanked me and said, 'Oh my God. It's so authentic. It's so moving. It's so important.'"
How the fuck can anybody think that what is going on right now in our military is okay? In the movie, the main character referrs to stop-lossing as a 'back-door draft' and that's exactly what it is. Mandating that people who are contractually finished with their military service go back into combat because at this point, people don't want to sign up for the military.
There are several reason that I found this movie particularly unsettling. We go through our everyday lives, and we may meet people who have served in Iraq, but do we really think about the consequences of the service they are performing to fight this "war on terror"? We may think, well, they did enlist. What about the things that happen AFTER they return? What about being stop-lossed and being sent back, and the consequences they experience from that service? What about not having the right to change your mind about what is right and wrong, not being able to make your own decision about what you think is worth fighting for? What about the families of these soldiers, hanging on by a thread, just pushing through and waiting for their loved one to return, only to find out that they're shipping out again in a month? What about soldiers that lose their brothers in combat and are totally lost, then end up killing themselves, leaving behind families who only days earlier were excited they were back home? What about people who are blind, mutated, lost limbs, scars, loss of function? It's almost too much to even think about or comprehend without completely losing my mind, which is part of the reason that maybe people DON'T think about it.
It's not just soldiers who are affected. Countless families, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters and children have to deal with the way their loved ones return home. What are we even fighting for anymore? Does anyone know? How do we "win" this war? What is the outcome we're looking for? I don't even know. We're in another country, we're occupying them and we're fighting, but for what? How is this possibly any kind of solution??
There is a scene in the movie where one of the main characters, who is just back from Iraq, gets drunk and is delusional and digging a hole in his fiance's front yard and laying in it with a gun as if he's still in combat. The whole horrible thing can be summed up by the ending of this movie. Ryan Philippe's character spends most of the film AWOL after being told he's been stop-lossed. He's losing it, he doesn't know what to do. He thinks of running to Canada or Mexico. But ultimately he makes the decision to turn himself in. Why? Because, his time in combat and what he's been through has affected him so much that he realizes he's never going to get past it, so he may as well go back so that at least if he survives it, he will be able to see his family again.
How's that for a 'Thank you'?
April 3, 2008
Me: I should get the cats medical records from the old vet.
Hubby: Do they have to sign a HIPPO form? (this might only be funny to me because I know what a HIPAA form is).
From a popsicle stick: What do you call a lazy bison? A Buffaloafer! I impresed the hubby by guessing this answer before it was revealed.