Monthly Archives: May 2010

Tales From St. Joe, Part I

Jessica and I flew back today from Kansas City, tired and full of meat. We ate a lot of meat on the trip. We had barbecue twice, burgers, chicken parmesan, breakfast sausages, and salads with meat on them. Even the beer has meat in it in Missouri. At least, I think it does. The barbecue was so good that even though I probably shouldn’t eat any more meat for the next month, I kind of want some right now. Like maybe some pulled pork and some ribs with some garlic bread on the side. And a few slices of the sausage from Jessica’s plate, because she always shares with me. She’s just so nice to me all the time.

There are so many delightful stories from the wedding that I thought I’d split them up into little “vignettes” instead of writing up one long, cumbersome, unwieldy, incommodious blog post. You know, out of respect for you, the reader, knowing full well you likely have the attention span that I have when “surfing the ‘net.” Which is to say, a short one. My e-attention span is so short that every time Drew asks me if I watched the video he posted on his blog, I redden in the face and admit that no, it appeared to be over 90 seconds long, and who has that kind of time?

I also took a lot of photos on the trip. I was snapping them left and right, up and down, for a lot of the trip. Sometimes – like a lot of folks who take photos – I tend to cross that line between enjoying what I’m doing and simply documenting it with photos. But once we got to the reception, I “shut it down” camera-style and didn’t take another shot the whole time. I took so many photos that one of Sam’s groomsmen Vicente, who looks EXACTLY LIKE GREG (more on that later) asked me during dinner just how many photos I’d logged. I told him, “as we say in California, hella photos.”

I thought I’d begin with Tom Walker, Jessica’s youngest brother, a man of kindly smiles and 3:00 am trips to Denny’s. He’s in my phone as “Tommy Walker Red.”

Here he is:

If I didn't know Tom and I saw this photo I might be a little bit creeped out.

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A Missoura Kinda Weekend

Jessica has two brothers. One of them is named Sam. He lives in Texas but he used to live in Missouri, where he went to school on a baseball scholarship. He’s a pretty great guy. On Saturday, he’s getting married to a pretty great gal named Emily. Here they are, looking smashingly good in an engagement photo:

Aren’t they awesome?

Yes, they are. And now they will cement their awesomeness by tying the knot.

I’ll be in St. Joseph, Missouri, until Monday, and I may post once or twice through the magic of “post scheduling.” Then again, I may not. The mysteries of life!

But I’ll be sure to have lots of weddingery to report on when I come back, especially as Jessica and I have decided to steal our favorite aspects of all the weddings we’re going to between now and our own. Which is something like 4 or 5 of them.

Ciao,

Bret

The Fine Art Of Shutting It Down

Of all the legacies Steve Walker will one day leave here on Earth – which include his three fantastic children, The Walker name and history, his vast mental catalogue of stories, and his love of the Holy Trinity of Baseball, Film, and Television – perhaps none will leave a greater impact that his strict adherence to Shutting It Down.

When Jessica and I were in the early stages of wooing one another with a variety of jokes and winks, Jessica casually mentioned that her father liked to Shut It Down. Drew, who we were hanging out with, asked: “How often does your dad shut it down?”

“Every night,” Jessica replied.

“Every night?” Drew asked.

“Every night,” Jessica confirmed.

Steve Walker, shown here contemplating when might be the best time to Shut It Down, is responsible for teaching an entire generation how to chill out and relax.

Shutting It Down essentially entails a systematic dial-down of all emotional and physical dials, and it can mean a different set of actions depending on the person. The sweat pants (or pajamas) may go on. The TV might be turned on. The chair may get reclined. Beverages might be set to “open” mode. Phones may be switched to “vibrate.” And when you shut it down, you’re not simply going to turn it back on again.

In fact, not long ago, Jessica DID have to turn it back again, for some reason that I cannot rightly recall – and it was a pretty big deal. Monumental, even. She had to change back into her jeans, fix her hair, put her shoes back on, and get ready to face the world after she’d already Shut It Down. It’s a wonder she survived, and it’s not something I ever recommend attempting. I think we wound up in the emergency room.*

*Not really, but we probably should have, for all the psychological damage it inflicted.

As you can see, the proud tradition of Shutting It Down has become a fixture in our little two-person family. Jessica, who has begun her emotionally fulfilling but physically draining career as a teacher this year, has fully adopted the ritual and now shuts it down 5 or 6 days out of 7. She relies on it for emotional calm, and looks forward to it. She’ll often come home from a long day of teaching and evening classes, drop her bag down, and declare:

“OK – that’s it. I’m shutting it down.”

I have now begun to do it as well. There’s something really comforting about the finality of it, about embracing the fact that you are Done For The Day, putting on the comfy clothes, and essentially checking out until the next morning. It’s a small reward to yourself for a day well spent, the psychological treat of shifting into low gear as you coast down the gentle grade of the evening’s downhill slope.*

*Was that too clunky? It’s almost right. I’ll work on that one a little and get back to you

When Steve is a grandpa to our kids, he and Terri – and my parents – will have a lot to teach them and share with them. They can secretly let them have cookies when Jessica and I say no, and tell them tales of a simpler time when MP3 were called ‘records’ and Blu-Rays were called ‘going to the movies.’ Among many other things, my dad can teach them how to make Donald Duck noises and how to identify plants and trees; my mom can teach them animal sounds in French and how to paint; Terri can teach them how to make giant chocolate cakes and about nature through gardening; Steve will tell them fantastic stories, and (as Jessica tells me) put them on his lap and pretend they’re riding a horse.

And, I hope, he’ll help us instill in our children the value of shutting it down. Because that’s as much a family heirloom as any jewelry or quilt.

In Fond Remembrance Of Two Cats Named Bog & Fen

Ernest Hemingway said this about cats: “A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”

Louis Camuti, the first vet in the US to devote his entire practice to treating cats, said this: “There is something about the presence of a cat…that seems to take the bite out of being alone.”

Fen, Bog, & me, many years ago

Martine, a very dear friend of my mom’s, believes that a home without a cat is not a home. I know a lot of people who’ll agree with her, including my sister Katy, who is one cat away from being a certifiable Crazy Cat Lady.* I made the fairly recent and somewhat depressing discovery that I am a little allergic to cats, though I’m hopeful that one day I can have a cat who spends a lot of time outdoors. But for the time being, I’m catless, and probably poorer of soul because of it.

*To be fair, if she ever does cross the line, she will be an excellent Crazy Cat Lady. Exemplary, even.

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I’m Really Glo-ssary To Do This To You

Here at All Things ‘Zilla Headquarters (henceforth known as ATZ HQ), a certain vocabulary has developed that I felt we should keep track of. I therefore present to you the Glossary, a work-in-progress page devoted to cataloging the various expressions and words that populate this corner of the Internets.

You can get there by:

– Clicking this link.

– Clicking the “Glossary” tab at the top of the page.

– Clicking your heels together two feet off the ground. This is very hard to do.

– Wishing it so.

Jessica: Because She’s Hella Funny

I’m from the Bay Area, so I say “hella.” It’s a reality of my life. I’ll admit I don’t say it much anymore, but I used to. A term that originated in Northern California, I used it regularly until I moved to Southern California in 1999 to begin my college career at Pomona. It gradually slipped out of my vocabulary, and then at a certain point I decided to reclaim it, and made a concerted effort to reintegrate it back into my parlance as a symbol of my heritage. Now I drop it into my speech from time to time, mostly as a marker of my heritage. I also use the term “bootsy” on occasion, for the same purpose.

Anyway – I was driving over to dinner at our pals’ Holly and Joel’s place, and Jessica was commenting on how regularly I was posting on this blog.

“You’re posting almost every day!” she exclaimed.

“Yeah,” I said, “but it sure is hard. I don’t know how bloggers do it.”

“You’re like… the postmaster general,” she said. There was a brief silence as the hilarity of what she said sank in. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed, and started clapping her hands together. “That was goooood.”

As a punster, I had to admit it.

“Good one baby,” I said.

She crossed her arms and smiled cockily.

It was a good one.

She's trying to be serious but she's too funny for that.

Anonymous Wedding Stories, Vol. I

I keep trying to start “features” on this blog, like Bridezilla Watch and Awesome Friend Watch and such, that I vainfully hope will become regular or at least semi-regular. I feel like people who read blogs enjoy features. I read blogs and I love recurringly similar posts on a certain theme, which I suppose is why I feel the need to keep creating them.

So only time will tell if Volume I of this particular category will be the only entry, or if this will become the first of many, but at least I can never be accused of having too few features. And now with no more uses of the word “feature” I will launch right into it.

A friend was recently telling me about her wedding, many years ago, which took Place in Reno. They drove out from the Bay Area, had a very small ceremony, and were happily wed in Vegas Junior.

Following the wedding, she and her newly behusbanded were strolling through a casino. They didn’t have much money, which meant that for one, they weren’t going to have a honeymoon, and second, they weren’t going to gamble.

As they walked the casino floor her husband noticed an unplayed Keno card on the ground, turned to his wife, and suggested they play it.

“I mocked him,” she remembers, “and I told him it was ridiculous to play a card he’d found on the ground.”

That didn’t stop him, though. He played it.

“I’m glad he did. We won $1,500,” she says. “We immediately bought tickets to Mexico and had ourselves a honeymoon after all.”

I tend to not believe in fate, and little tales like these are part of why I don’t – fate makes this story banal, because it suggests that it was meant to happen, designed by a higher power or by the invisible hand of destiny. But what’s the fun in that?

Luck & happenstance make it just a little bit special. And I hope Jessica and I run into a little luck on our adventure. Heck – we already have.