Pre-Flight Check

I just had to add this funny anecdote. So, you know what sucks most about a huge thunderstorm the night before you're going on a trip? Nope, it's not that the thunder kept you up so you didn't get much sleep--although that was interesting, too.

It's pretty darn hard to pack when the power's out.

Um, yeah. For hours. And all your decently-sized flashlights--those have been packed in boxes for two months. And you have no idea where your in-laws keep flashlights, but you're pretty sure it's somewhere downstairs... in the dark... probably three rooms away in some drawer that you can't find in the dark.

So--good thing you've got that tiny LED light in your purse. You know, the kind that is only really useful for finding the keyhole of your car door in the dark? That is so tiny, that if you set it on the counter, it doesn't shine light anywhere near what you're packing--but you're using your hands to pack--so you spend two hours holding the darned thing in your mouth while you ponder which pants you want to wear to Friday's Happy Hour at ALA.

Yeah, that was interesting.

Sunny (Kinda) Cali!

It was an early morning with a flight and time-change that made for a long day, but it was fun. Here are some highlights:
  • realizing that Dr. Totten from UNT's SLIS was in the TSA security line right behind me at DFW
  • riding in a convertible through Beverly Hills, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo Drive, and Santa Monica with Greg, Cari, & Emma
  • the resulting crispy shoulders (despite liberally applying 30 - 50 spf sunscreen four times)
  • seeing dolphins playing in the waves at Santa Monica
  • eating almond-chocolate-chunk ice cream on Santa Monica Pier
  • photographing my favorite part of the Pier: glimpses of the waves beneath the boardwalk
  • passing Kodak Theater and Groman's Theater
  • chatting with a librarian/vendor from Melbourne on the shuttle from LAX
  • getting a tremendously-upgraded room at Residence Inn... and finding three closets and two balconies in it!
  • finally staying in a hotel with free wifi
  • eating at In-N-Out Burger (nod to Tihleigh)
  • "talking" to Alex (still in Russia); he was IMing Robert, who called me, and we had an interesting three-way conversation
  • sitting in my hotel room, getting annoyed at the loud upstairs neighbors... realizing there *is* no upstairs... walking outside and realizing it's the enormously loud/huge fireworks at Disneyland... and laughing at myself
  • (did I mention my room has three closets and two balconies? yeah, dude.)
  • exchanging thunderstorm stories and befuddlement at the convention center entrance with a Library Journal exhibitor from NYC
  • walking around the Convention Center... the looooong way
  • being so tired from the long day and time change that I ate popcorn for dinner--thank goodness for Residence Inn's kitchenette!
This isn't even all of the selected photos from today.... but it's a start.


FYI: ALA in Anaheim

I'll be in Anaheim, CA at the American Library Association's Annual Conference starting tomorrow (June 26th) through Monday evening (June 30th). I may or may not find the time and divine combination of free time + laptop + outlet + internet connection + near beach (ha!) to post more updates, so I thought I'd let you guys know what I'm up to.

I will, however, be spending at least some of that possible free time posting on my professional blog. So if you're curious as to what lofty academic pursuits I'm up to (ha!), feel free to check there.


Overload and Russian Dumplings

You would think I can't complain about being busy any more than I already have... yeah. I will try to contain myself when conversing, but suffice to say that work + preparing to travel for work + prepping for construction loan + car repair + normal bills and stuff to take care of... = Overwhelmed (more than usual) Starr. Sigh.

It seems worse than usual, since my co-conspirator is out of the country and not immediately available for help or venting.

But he did teach me something during our brief IM today: pierogies are Russian dumplings. He had some filled (variously) with meat, cabbage, mushrooms, apricots, and cherries. (He missed out on the salmon, apparently not enough to go around.) He had an apparently amazing boat trip around St. Petersburg today (well tonight, for him) from 10pm to 2am--gotta love having all that day light during White Nights. He said he took many photos (yay!) and there was apparently much yelling while under bridges. Huh. Guess that's a story I'll just have to hear when he gets back.


Solo Weekend

So, Alex is now in St. Petersburg; he informs me that as he is nine hours ahead of us, he'll shortly look up the winning lotto numbers and give them to me. Heh.

In any case, I'm off to ALA in Anaheim early Thursday am, and he's back in Texas the day afterward... I'll be back late the following Monday. We do get around these days.

Yesterday, my department enjoyed a lovely party at Clarice's house. Four of us ladies actually stayed in the pool until 10pm. 'Twas quite nice; I haven't been night-swimming in quite a while, and I've sorely missed Clarice since her retirement a few weeks ago. I stayed to chat with the last stragglers until 11pm, and was back in McKinney at midnight, then groggily woken up at 6:30 by Alex's call to say he was at his layover in London. Then it was off to church with pals Amy and Jaime, who also treated me to a scrumptious lunch of breakfast tacos, and rushed home for my first IM-session with Alex, once he finally got to his St. Petersburg hotel. We talked about Russian traffic and vessel sinks, primarily. (Ah, the joys of house-building.)

I believe the only things on my weekend list that actually got accomplished were purchasing a vanity for the new house's downstairs guest bath, and looking at a lot of vessel sinks and faucets. Here it is nearly 10pm and I haven't ripped a single CD, or cleaned my desk, or packed for California, or written any in my novel. Ah, well.

I have discovered this, however: Vader and stormtroopers dancing to Thriller. Which pretty much glows with Pure Awesome, considering it combines two of my greatest delights. Actually, make that three--I was going to say Star Wars and Thriller, but also the concept of a Dance-Off itself. Yep, Pretty Stinkin' Awesome.


Stuff Happens

...So much of it, in fact, that I haven't been around here much, have I?

Well, here's the update:
  • Alex leaves Saturday to spend a week in St. Petersburg
  • I'll be at ALA in Anaheim June 26th - 30th
  • so much more travel planned that it makes me tired/excited to think about
  • been very social lately: dinner with Greg & Cari and then Amy & Jaime, art museum with my parents, day with Carolyn, and an afternoon of books and ice cream with Jayne & progeny
  • visited bookstores 5 times in the past 2.5 weeks (it's an addiction)
  • close to finalizing our houseplans (probably won't break ground until August--arg!)
  • still reading a lot of "fun" books
  • managing to write in my novel--major breakthrough last week
  • still lack the ability to tan
Um... that's at least a portion of my life, currently. I've been writing a lot of thoughts on paper, but haven't sat down to transcribe them here, yet. Maybe next week while I'm bored and husband-less.


More of the San Antone Weekend

Check out this bizarre patent.

Other fun stuff we did this weekend (that I left out of my previous post):
  • Sunday afternoon, I swam for a gloriously peaceful forty-five minutes while Alex read one of his business books (poolside). Swimming underwater is one of the most tranquil activities to me, and something I rarely get to do. It's somewhat wrecked when I have to share the pool with other people, particularly chatty ones. Thus, sharing silent pool-time with Alex was blissful.
  • Completely neglected to eat sweets for my Dad's birthday. He did manage to have some of the cheesecake Mom bought, but Alex and I were both so full and sooooo sleepy from our awesome TexMex meal that we fell asleep on the couch. Yes, sleep instead of cheesecake--it was a tough decision, and my brain won over my stomach (pretty rare occurrence, that).
  • Again, I have to mention the early-morning chats my with parents. Saturday's morning was in the art studio, sans Alex, but Sunday was our more-traditional on the porch, with Alex. We all looked over the book purchases we'd made the night before and chatted about them--heavenly. Family + coffee + books + trees/country = bliss.
  • On the five-hour drive back, Alex and I chatted about tons of stuff, as is our usual during that trek. We almost always bring music or audiobooks (this time we had a learning-Russian CD), but we rarely use them--we're having too much fun chatting together! That is just one of the hugest blessings of my life, that after more than seven years of marriage, Alex has even more become my best friend, so much so that we can't stop conversing through five hours of monotonous driving. This time, we discussed the new house plans, my book's plot, politics, work, travel, future dreams, finances... yeah, and I forget what else.
  • I took a bunch of photos, primarily at the McNay Art Museum... but due to this week's schedule, I think it might be awhile before I get them up on Flickr.

Am I the Only Goofy One...

...or when composing emails, do you also reflexively smile when you add an emoticon? I don't know if I'm smiling "back" at the little digital face, or if my subconscious believes that by physically reinforcing the expression, my tone will be more adequately conveyed in the email.

It's also possible that I'm just an insufferably cheerful person.

So, this weekend Alex and I jetted down to San Antone for my dad's birthday--his 58th, which just adds to my whole reinterpretation of age, as he looks and acts, at nearly 60, nothing like what I thought of that age as a kid. I think he's more of what I thought 40 was--then again, when you're 12, it's hard to believe the world will still exist when you're 30. Anyway.

We had a great time--Alex made the remark, echoing what I've often thought, that my parents' house is an amazing place where you can truly relax. We tried to assess the reasons why, when we got back. We both think that a lot of it has to do with all the trees around their house--which bodes well for our future home, as the lot has tons of big, old trees. But there's also the birdsong (also related to trees), the "nearness" of the outdoors due to their abundant garden spots and back deck, and the sheer quiet. Alex and I lived in a similarly country-ish area at our old house, but there was the lack of trees (and thus birdsong), and because of the placement of our electronics, the house was always loud, even if you didn't consciously notice it. Whenever the power would go out, we'd be reminded of how loud the house usually was--the constant barrage of white noise from UPS's and computers and theater equipment and fans and the fridge.

So after waking up in that relaxing place--and enjoying my traditional cup-of-coffee-with-the-parents while Alex caught another half hour or so of sleep (this usually occurs on the back deck, but due to rain this time was moved to my mom's art studio, which is in a small red shed near the house), we took off for San Antone itself. We enjoyed the re-opening weekend festivities at the McNay Art Museum, a small but wonderful jewel of a place that reminds me of the Kimbell in Fort Worth (only with gorgeous Spanish colonial architecture instead of gorgeous modern architecture). It has a similarly comfortable and human-scaled approach to art display, with one of the most beautiful inner courtyards I've ever seen. We were ferried to and from the museum in a school bus in which the bus driver decided to dramatically illustrate that the shocks were not made to hold a load of adults, much to our discomfort (and amusement).

Then we headed off to enjoy a Jazz and Arts Festival at Crockett Park... but were perplexed to find it nearly empty, few booths (with the exception of the excellent Starbucks booth that twice provided us with free caffeine), and most befuddling, no music at all. Most people, performers, and vendors had apparently been frightened off by some earlier drizzles. We pronounced it neither jazzy nor festive, and instead spent awhile browsing through Half-Price Books, a dangerous activity for four people addicted to print. This was the third bookstore Alex and I had been to in a week and a half, and we brought home our fifth (at least) sack of books. I think we're a bit flustered by all our books being packed in boxes, and desperately trying to fill that hole--and since we plan on using movers for our next move, we don't have the thought of hauling heavy boxes to deter us.

Then we enjoyed a yummy (if loud) dinner at Tomatilla's, and headed back to my parent's casa rather late. A good time was had by all.

I'm now reading a ton of material in preparation for an all-day meeting tomorrow. Alex is off to Vegas (yes, again!) tomorrow through Friday, my mom is in town Wednesday through Saturday, my pal Jayne will be here over the weekend and a tad longer, and we have plans for yardwork and socializing over the weekend. Ah yes, and there are still preparations to be made for Alex leaving for Russia the following weekend.

It's a busy life, but at least it's an interesting one.


Just To Say...

I have seen
the Indiana Jones movie
that was in
the box office

and which
you were probably
as a 1950's B-movie spoof.

Forgive me
the effects were so shiny
too CGI
and too much.

-- Starr Hoffman (with apologies to William Carlos Williams)

(Although I have to add an amended last stanza,
addressed to my fellow Indy fans...)

Forgive me
it was delicious
so appropriately corny
and so fun.
The original poem is here:

The idea for this spoof came from This American Life:

And to my cousin Victoria:
hope you enjoyed my crack at poetry spoofing.