Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday November 26, 2010

It's the end of the second day of a four day weekend, the best holiday of the year. The holiday that really isn't about much more than cooking a big meal, eating it with friends or family, and relaxing; maybe watching football if you're into that sort of thing, or watching holiday movies, playing games, reading. That is, if you're lucky enough to have the time off, of course, which many are not.

It's a really cold weekend here in Reno. It snowed on Tuesday and then got cold, temperatures going into the single digits over night, so things were frozen for the commute to school the next day. Still, when the sun came out and the temperature warmed up to 25˚ or so, the ice melted. I went out to buy snow boots for the kids, then shoveled the snow to give the sun a fighting chance. It was very light and powdery, and frozen on the sidewalks from when it had been warmer and slushy. Thankfully there wasn't much of it.

Today I went to Absolute Music and rented a violin. I have this secret fantasy that somehow I'll manage to be a better at playing the violin than I am at playing the viola. I love to have fantasies where I accomplish things like this; hope springing eternal making life worth living, I guess. Yesterday we had a friend over for Thanksgiving dinner. I drank a glass of wine, then became extremely sleepy, so I went to take a catnap while waiting on the oven buzzer. I lay down on the bed with an arm overhead, but instead of falling asleep, I fell into sleepy reminiscing. At first about Thanksgiving Days of Long Past, then onto China, as the more times passes, the less I remember of our trip. I was thinking of how memories are so intangible and what you have of them sort of becomes hardened into your brain circuits like plaque, but it's just a residue of something that was real. In fact, most of my early life feels that way. I guess like the majority of people, I feel more connected to the childhood memories that I've known as memories for so much longer. It seems like my 20s happened to another person almost.

When I was in China this past summer, I was so excited and yet disappointed at things; it was a heartwarming feeling when things were familiar, yet a letdown that things had changed so greatly. The overwhelming feeling I had was to realize how fortunate I was to get to experience 8 weeks of China in the 80's. I'm not sure I was convinced at the time, when I was so homesick and just plain hot, but I don't think I could have those experiences now--just get on a bus and go where I wanted? It was impossible on this trip. One of the things I knew about China was that I loved, loved, loved Hangzhou. But when I tried to compare it to my new experiences in Hangzhou, I couldn't actually recall more than a few images, some of which were me seeing myself as I appeared in my photo album.

Hangzhou seemed refreshing after the heat of Shanghai. It was green and cooler, as I recall. It didn't rain while we were there, but it was humid, of course. I remember walking out of our hotel in the afternoon with some women from my unit. We walked down a street that had an air of familiarity around it. Lots of trees growing near the street, which looked like a fairly recent development. The road looked fairly recently cut into the earth, the way some of the housing developments my father built homes in looked to me, but there were sidewalks, shops and lamposts along the way we walked, and we could look into the bakery window and see the goods displayed. It seemed quaint and almost European, except set out the woods. And we rode a boat on the lake, it was lovely. Yet, this was all I remember. I don't remember what food we ate, I can't remember the hotel at all, or even eating a single meal there.

I didn't realize I remembered so little about Hangzhou until I returned, and was trying to compare experiences. I didn't realize I remembered so few of my Thanksgivings as a child. Inevitably, I return to the Thanksgiving when I was 7, almost 8, and lived out in Catlett, Virginia. Or I think of one of the Thanksgiving dinners in the condo in Summertree, although those all blend together into one representative days. I can't discern the differences. I suppose this is why we are always exhorted to exist in the moment, to enjoy the present, to live for today since we don't know what the future will bring. Of course our experiences always affect who we are in the moment, but really, it feels like we are different people when we consider our pasts.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday November 5, 2010

I've been thinking about my neighbors as I make my way around the block with my dog everyday. Specifically their political stance they choose to represent with various signs and bumper stickers. This past election there seemed to be a lot fewer signs, but I remember them from years past. On one side of me is an older couple who drives old model Cadillacs--I mean pretty darn old, I'm thinking at least two of the sedans come from the 80's or earlier. They are the kind of cars my father liked and would choose to drive. They have bumper stickers on them which say Stop Socialism, Vote Conservative. At some point the Stop Socialism half got covered up with a God Bless the USA type of flag sticker.

They are nice people, generous with the Halloween candy, bought a poinsettia from my daughter when she was selling them for her choir, gave us plastic bags when we went collecting for a recycling fundraiser. The people on the other side of us have changed through the years, I don't really know much about their politics. I assume the original owners were Republicans and the woman who lived there for awhile afterwards was a Democrat. The only sign in their yard now, different owners again, is for a local justice of the peace race. This was the first year in 8 Halloweens that someone in that house handed out candy, as far as I know.

Next to them is another older couple--well, an older woman and a younger woman, her daughter. I don't know if there is a man there now. The grandchildren used to live there, but they have moved. They driver older model German cars, at least one fairly old Mercede- Benz, could be from the 80's, and a BMW. Nice looking cars, I like those older models. They have had political signage in the past in support of Kerry, H. Clinton, Obama. Veterans for Kerry signs. They are also generous with the Halloween candy, giving out full sized bars and one they gave out glow bracelets as well. They also bought a poinsettia.

To the side of them is an older couple with no visible political affiliations, but they do love Scottie dogs and have a beautiful, well decorated yard. Next to them what I think of as somewhat problematic neighbors, mostly because of some hostilities that arose with the HOA. There was some negativity around all of that, but I personally didn't have a problem with them when I was the secretary of the HOA. I did have the guy come to my house and call me when my daughter, unbeknowns to me, ran after me as I rode my bike out of the driveway. They refused to pay their HOA fees, but also refused to sign a document that would legally disband the HOA. They pulled out their lawn over a year ago and it's still dirt. Their teen/young adult kids have bike and skateboarding ramps in the driveway, and ride out into the street. They have a chainlink fence segment covered with a brightly colored plastic tarp to help keep their dogs in the backyard, and their dogs bark all the time. They also are very anti-Obama. I noticed a giant McCain sign in their house. They were dark for Halloween this year.

Next to them, a beautifully landscaped home by another very anti-Obama family. They have stickers on their car about how Obama is scary, the window sticker of the little kid peeing on the name of Obama. The only contact I have with them is when the man called to complain about his neighbors lack of landscaping in the back yard. He's a professional landscaper. I'd bet the dirt yard in the front is causing some hard feelings, but maybe they've bonded over their Obama & Reid hating commonality. They were also dark for Halloween. My dog pooped in their yard that night. I went back and cleaned it up early the next morning.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3, 2010

Yesterday was election day, and today not that much has been shaken up in Nevada's political structure. We still have Harry Reid as one of our US Senators, and a bunch of Republicans to fill all those other offices, including the other senatorial spot.

The calls and paper mailings were incessant. The door-to-door canvassing not as much, although we got two different groups coming for Reid, and a couple for the local candidates. I did some voter registration Harry Reid campaigning out in front of the DMV back in March, and I did a shift at the Democratic HQ, but that was the extent of it.

Yesterday was kind of a charged day, however. The kids were out of school, the husband was home from work, and the weather was mild and beautiful. I went to vote at the school, then stayed to canvass on behalf of the school. In fact, I spent a lot of time passing out fliers, trying to encourage people to create a bing account, or to log on to bing through facebook, to vote for our school's video. But it is a losing battle at this point, unless many many more people log onto vote.