Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Boy am I in trouble

I just broke the shit out of Dave's camera...

But before I tell you about that, let's talk about what led up to it:

After we ate dinner and opened our presents, we decided to go look at tacky Christmas lights. I tried to map out our course using a tacky lights tour address list, but couldn't figure out how to see them all in the least amount of time, and in the most efficient way, so we decided to just drive around and see what we happened to see.

We first went to the West End to Kayhoe Rd., off Springfield, to see a pair of houses Dave saw last night after a bridal consultation. Both were good, but one had the lights timed out to blink to the beat of Christmas music on 102.9FM. Not sure how they did it, but it was AWESOME!

Then we decided to go see how the rich people decorate for Christmas, so we headed over to River Road. We drove around a few neighborhoods, and based on what I was seeing, I decided that I wanted to start documenting a tacky tree tour, instead of a tacky light tour. Those rich people sure do know how to tackily decorate a tree! Some pictures are attached, along with a photo of one family's set of 3 porch monkeys (sorry, they are literally porch monkeys), designed after "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil" and dressed up for Christmas. I can't believe they got that past the HOA.

Enjoy the pics...

Ok, so then we drove further down River Road towards Parham and 8220 River Road is so overly decorated we had to turn around to get pictures. We couldn't just slow down in front because there were too many cars. So we pulled into the driveway and I got out to take some pics, but I tripped over my pantleg and put out my hands to brace myself to fall, not remembering that the camera's neck strap was not around my neck! You guessed it, the camera smashed into several pieces in 8220 River Road's driveway. As I collected the pieces without saying a word and put them in the front seat, Dave looked at them in horror. I asked hopefully if the camera was alright and I could tell by his face that it was not. The lens is broken, the body is broken, and the piece that holds them together that is normally attached to the body was stuck to the lens. Not ideal. I even cracked the UV filter in half. This driveway must have been made of some serious bricks!

I feel really bad and now I need to go shopping online for the cheapest D80 or D90 I can find! And if anyone has a 18-200 Nikon lens sitting around collecting dust, I need it!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Glad for a new week...

Wow...last week ranks up there as one of the worst weeks ever. I felt numb, and was going through the motions, but I didn't accomplish anything, at work or otherwise.

Dwayne's service Friday was fitting. Even though the officiant had never met Dwayne, I could tell he made a great effort to learn about him, his family, and his life. He told some second-hand stories about Dwayne's early school days, practical jokes that he played on people or were played on him, and listed some of Dwayne's many accomplishments.

Some of Dwayne's friends told funny stories about him, and his best friend relayed details of a conversation he and Dwayne had about death and how they wanted people to grieve for them. Not surprisingly, Dwayne said he wanted people to grieve for him for a week. Robert convinced him that was a long time to grieve, and Dwayne lowered it to 5 days. Robert persisted that people have lives, and have other stuff to do, so Dwayne said "OK, 4 days, but that's as low as I'll go!" So Robert said he was satisfied. If he only knew how soon he'd have to be holding up his end of the bargain. So sad.

Then the officiant referenced a book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which analyzes Joseph Campbell's theory about the formula of the hero story and illustrates his theory by analyzing stories from mythology on that incorporate that formula. In a nutshell, the hero is always born in a remote place, cut off from society. The hero receives a call to leave this remote place, and move to a more bustling, dangerous, "armpit" of a place to pursue his calling for adventure. Then he meets people he should or should not trust, chooses between good and evil, goes through trials to prepare him for his ultimate battle, often finding a mentor to guide him through those trials, and then the climax of the story is the battle for which he has been preparing. Almost always, the hero survives the trial, and then comes the denoument, where all the characters who have interacted with the hero along his journey come together to help bring the story to a close. Tragically, sometimes the hero has to die, and as untimely as his death may be, the world is changed for the better as are the people who knew him. His friends as companions are made better people, motivated to continue the struggle, cause, or journey.

I must read this book...and you should too!

Then he made some observations about Dwayne's life and related them to this hero formula theory. Dwayne was born and raised in Deltaville, VA, which is the epitome of a remote, cut off place. According to Wikipedia, it is home to 500-800 full-time residents, most of which are retirees. I'm not sure what Dwayne's call to adventure was, but he moved from his home to Richmond, certainly an armpit compared to Middlesex County, to pursue a career. He recently received another call to adventure when he was offered the opportunity to move to Plano, TX, to further pursue his career. I'd like to think this was not going to be his ultimate battle; that his funeral was not the denoument of Dwayne's journey, but I'm sad that I won't get to see the hero of this story face his ultimate battle and survive.

Sometimes movies are so good, they end leaving the fans wanting more, and I wish this story had a sequel.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cecily and I talked today about stuff that she and Dwayne's friends wanted to do for his services. We brainstormed a bit and came up with some things. Cecily brought over 3 display boards tonight and we put 2 of them together. One has work accomplishments and recognition and the other is pictures of him, his family, and his best friend, Jager! Tomorrow we'll make the 3rd, which will have pictures of him with his friends and pictures he took while traveling - he was a great photographer, who knew?

I hope these make visitors at his memorial and funeral remember him as the fun, friendly guy he was in life, and not think about him in death.

The blank spot at the top of the first one is for a blown-up picture of him that we need to print.

I'll be making a slide show of these and other pictures of him and his family/friends with his favorite songs playing in the background. His going away party was planned for this weekend, so the party is still on, but unfortunately I fear that the mood will be much different. Hopefully the slide show will prompt some laughs and conversation about his goofy self.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

T-shirt quilt

In March, when we were unpacking some boxes at the Millers', we came across all of Nate's high school t-shirts. We all have them - we'll never wear them again, but we don't want to get rid of them - ring a bell? So I asked him if I could take them home with me to make something out of them, he humored me and I assume forgot all about it.

This is the kind of project that you know will take 1 or 2 days to complete, but it takes you much more time to gear up to buckle down and just do it! This is mostly because if you mess something up, you can't just go buy more fabric. You have potentially flubbed up this awesome thing that is full of memories!

I decided early this fall that I was going to put together this quilt and give it to him as a birthday gift, so that gave me a hard deadline to finish it - I figured if I handled this the way I handle things at work, that was the only way I'd get it done.

The final push I needed was the sale at Hancock Fabrics on Black Friday - the fleece I needed for the backing and the quilter's cotton I needed for the sashing and corner pieces were all on sale, and I had a coupon and a gift card! Perfect motivation :)

So I picked up all the supplies I needed and spent all Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend stitching this quilt together. I think it turned out really nice, and now I feel obligated to finish the one I told Dave I'd make him years ago :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'll miss you sunshine...

To say Dwayne Collins was a "great" guy sounds so cliche right now and doesn't even come close to doing him the justice he deserves. He was the kind of person people want to be: free-spirited, but responsible when it counts; smart, but not cocky or condescending. He could command an audience without being an ass. He could make you feel like shit, just so he could be the person to build you back up. That last one might sound like a bad thing, but it was a way for him to challenge you to test your reaction.

He was my teacher, my co-worker, my friend. He was my older brother when I needed him to be, and he was my mortal enemy when I wanted him to be. I will miss him everyday. The last thing I said to him at a work lunch on Friday was "FUCK OFF," and I know that he knows I meant "I love you and I'll see you soon, buddy." That's how our relationship was. I love him and will cherish memories of him always.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The worst thing about turning 30 so far...

is going to the DMV to renew your license!

I used some vacation time this afternoon to go renew my license, heeding the warning in the paper that, in simple terms, if I let it expire I'd regret it. Not sure what the consequences would be, but I didn't want to find out.

As I left my house, I was already in a bad mood after flashing back to last Friday - a day that was perfect to complete this task - when I turned the corner and was amazed at how empty the parking lot was, until the guy in the car in front of me informed me that they were closed until Monday. Of course they were.

When I turned the corner, I saw that the main and overflow parking lots were both full, and people were waiting idly for a parking space to open up. This was going to be fun. I finally found a space, and walked in to find about 5 of the ~100 chairs unoccupied, but for one reason or another, none of those 5 appealed to me, so I got my number (another annoyance) and sat in the back, leaning on a counter.

My number was A007, and as I scanned the 9 (out of 20) open windows, I noticed that they were only on A090, not to mention the B's, C's, D's, E's, and F's that were in front of me. They called a couple of A's but then nothing. 30 minutes later, still no progress for the A's. Other letters were progressing nicely.

So, you're thinking "Didn't you take anything with you to occupy your time and keep you sane?" Well, yes I did. I brought New Moon with me, but didn't feel like reading, because I didn't want to miss my chance for people-watching. In hindsight, good decision.

The 5 open seats must have been just as unappealing to the people behind me, as they remained open while I was standing there. However, as people were called to their windows, their seats were almost instantly taken by someone else. One time, a guy got up and immediately turned around (not sure why he got up, maybe he thought he heard his number) to find his seat taken. He was not happy about it! He said nothing to the man who took his seat, just stood over him for a few seconds, looking at him like your dad looks at you when you've disappointed him - you know the one! There may have been a hand gesture but no words. Eventually he just walked away and leaned up against the wall - he also found that better than those 5 empty seats.

I spent most of the 84 minutes of waiting observing the family next to me. The mom had 2 daughters with her - Madison and Brooke (I know the names from her scolding the older one because she had to pee and there were too many people there for her to go by herself and the name written on the sippy cup of the younger one, who repeatedly dropped mom's keys on the ground to get a laugh out of her older sister) - and her other 2 children, Elizabeth and Ethan, were with her in spirit. Elizabeth was at home working on a maze project that mom thought wasn't due until March, but apparently it's due soon because mom wasn't happy that the wood in the garage wasn't good enough, and that she wanted new wood. Not sure what Ethan's deal was. I'm not a stalker, this is just what I gathered from my perch.

Once my number was finally called, I was out of there within minutes. Then I went to Target to get some stocking stuffers for Dave, and came home to watch "John Adams." Awesome if you have 7+ hours of free time and like semi-accurate historical drama.