Sleeping Around Seattle

Hey now! I didn’t say sleeping around IN Seattle. Get your mind out of the gutter!

No, this is about our last trip before the world melted. It was a mini vaca of sorts to Seattle and a few surrounding areas, taken to witness and celebrate Sailor Boy’s re-enlistment in the US Navy.

He could pick any time, really, to do this, as long as it was done a certain amount of time before his contract was up. We chose the last weekend in February, because it was the beginning of Singer Girl’s spring break, and she was able to escape and meet us cross country. She’d never been to Washington, so we decided to add some touristing to the schedule.

Sailor Boy picked us up at SEA-TAC, and we took the long, meandering way around Puget Sound to get to Bremerton, where his aircraft barrier is docked. We had a lot planned for the next three days, and, as we were eager to get to sleep — but we were hungry. Thought a drive-through would be a good quick option, but evidently, Taco Bell is the place to be after 9pm in a Navy town. An hour later, our border run complete, we stuffed tacos u our faces and fell asleep.

The next day we had to meet Sailor Boy and his fellow sailors for the swearing-in. It’s always interesting being a civilian at these things, as you really don’t get all the procedures and, frankly, they speak another language.

First, he was honorably discharged from the Navy, which took me by surprise. I didn’t expect that step, and for a moment I thought “he is free — maybe he should walk away?” Evidently, I wasn’t the only one thinking that because a sailor piped up “Run!” But everyone laughed, and his lieutenant shifted gears to swear him back in. Last time I saw him sworn in he was freshly out of high school, and we were all a little terrified about what was coming next. It was easier this time, even if it meant not having him home for an even longer period.

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But we had him now — for the next 48 hours!

All were invited to a celebratory lunch at his favorite restaurant in town, The Curry. It was fun breaking bread with the sailors who were able to join us! Next, it was off to the ship. Singer Girl had never been on the aircraft carrier before, so a tour was a must-see.

 

The next stop on our agenda was checking into a new hotel, in a different town. My brother and sister in law live in Olympia, so we were meeting them for dinner. As always, we were fashionably late on our drive to the new digs. But we cleaned up quicky then feasted at one of their favorite places, Basilico Ristorante.

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After dinner we hung at their house, celebrating and going through my brother’s record collection. He let Singer Girl pick 10 of them as a birthday gift, and it was so fun listening to them — especially since so many of them had been our parents’. It was bittersweet in retrospect, as my parents had been huge Kenny Rogers fans back in the day, and he passed away so shortly after this. Gotta love The Gambler!

The next morning we checked out and hustled back to Bremerton to have brunch at Sailor Boy’s fave diner, the Big Apple Diner. I love this place, too! Super kitschy and great food (the potato pancakes are to die for!). After eating it was time to get on the ferry to Seattle.

 

I loved that someone had left a puzzle on one of the tables. Singer Girl and I tucked in and got to work. Who knew that would be the first in a series of puzzles in the coming months?

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Once in Seattle, we checked into our VRBO. I picked a place right downtown, minutes from the ferry and walking distance to everything. If you are looking for a place, check it out.

Before we left, I borrowed a date night trick and booked a scavenger hunt via Groupon. I love these as a way to get to know a city and to give you an idea of what you want to come back to. We started up by the Space Needle, wandered around by the museums and gardens there, then headed back down towards Pike’s Market and other downtown sites. Halfway through we met up with our niece/cousin Alyssa who lives and works in Seattle.

As always, whenever I get near a market, I am camera happy. The colors are always too tempting for me!

Scavenger hunt completed, we went back to the condo to chill and get ready to go out to dinner. Dinner was at an awesome place — in all ways.  The ambiance was terrific, the food was delicious, service outstanding! If you happen to be in Seattle, check out Toulouse Petit! 

HWSNBN had to fly back on Sunday, so it was just the three of us left to pal around.  At Sailor By’s suggestions, we breakfasted at a Seattle landmark, Biscuit Bitch.

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I had an orange latte, and the Cheesy Pork n’ Bitch,(middle picture), which was biscuits and gravy with bacon and cheddar cheese. Sailor Boy had the Smokin’ Hot Bitch — biscuits, gravy, andouille sausage, and jalapenos. Singer Girl had some sort of breakfast sandwich which looked awesome — until a hunk fell on the ground. Sadness.

We had some calories to burn so we headed north to where we started our scavenger hunt the day before. Our intended destination was MoPOP, the Museum of Popular Culture. This place is a must-see! It highlights everything from music to TV, Movies, books, art and more.

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Some of my fave exhibits:

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Next, it was off to the Chihuly Museum, another fantastic place. Yeah, it sounds kind of boring: a bunch of glass sculptures. But seriously amazing.

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Singer Girl is not a fan of museums, so she had grumbled at our itinerary when I revealed it that morning. But she loved both!

We did a bit more wandering (and a lot more photography for Singer Girl’s Insta page). The next day it was back home for us and back to the ship for the Boy. During the two days there we heard rumblings about the Coronavirus outbreak in Seattle and joked that we probably all had it. Thankfully, almost a month later, I can say we most likely did not. But unbeknownst to all of us, this was the last trip for a while.

I am glad we had the time together!

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Silver Linings in your COVID Mask?

We are lucky so far.

We don’t know anyone who is sick (yet). My husband is still employed. I really haven’t found any shortages on the shelves that has made my life difficult. But our lives are a wee bit different, just like everyone else’s — and sometimes, for the better.

This past weekend I was supposed to be sad, as I would not be attending mom’s weekend at my daughter’s sorority at the University of Michigan. Her a Capella group was set to travel to Boston for a workshop and competition. But obviously that all changed. Instead, on Saturday she attended the event online, and I get to hear her sing. A lot.

She has also convinced us to commit to a movie marathon of sorts: we are going to watch all 20-plus movies in the Marvel Universe series (except the Hulk, which she doesn’t like, or Deadpool, because it’s rated R and this not technically part of the saga. but I digress). I’ve never been one to go out of my way for superhero flicks, but it is fun to be committed to this much family time.

We have never had this much time with her since, well, probably since she started preschool, honestly. Day in, day out, we are together. We have learned to respectfully give each other space. I was getting overwhelmed and feeling like I didn’t have any me time, so I created a  schedule. Everyone writes down when they have to be online for a class or conference call, and we all try to stay quiet and out of the way for each other.  I am forced to be more productive at certain times when I know she will be hopping onto my laptop and I will have to get off.

I am working out more. We know when each other will or won’t be in the home gym, so I am scheduling my time better. On a normal day I would say to myself “at some point today I need to hop onto the treadmill.” Now, because others want to hop on, I schedule it and it gets done.

There are more walks, too, and not only by us. Our neighbors are out more, and we are talking with ten (at a distance, of course) more than perhaps we ever had. Everyone is friendlier. Everyone has the time to chat — and we crave it.

With the workouts, I realized I need new shoes. I can’t go to a mall, so I reached out on the socials and was flooded with suggestions of local businesses that are making it possible to shop.

I am adamant that we use local businesses when possible. Yesterday, the rules changed and they want us to wear masks. Amazon is, of course, sold out for a month, so I went back on Facebook and asked, “who is making masks?” I had five options within 15 minutes.

I am overtipping like crazy, and paying people for services I ma not receiving, simply because I can and I want to help directly, not just in am anonymous “donate here” kind of way. For example, we are still paying our housekeeper. I also reached out to her and asked if she had a family member who could use the clothes we had purged from closets. yes, I could give to Goodwill. But if I can give it directly to someone I know, I feel less helpless.

Speaking of helping however we can, HWSNBN and I gave blood yesterday. You should do that as well.

HWSNBN, as I mentioned, is still working. However, his commute is much shorter — just a walk down the hall to his office. In the first few days of this, I learned a lot about what was coming by overhearing his conference calls. I’ve also learned a lot more about what he does on a daily basis, which has been interesting.

Relationships are weird when you are housebound. I can tell when he is procrastinating: he cleans, does laundry, putters around — usually in my arena. Don’t get me wrong: I love him helping out. But it has been harder for me to know my place with the lines so blurry.

I’ve also learned a lot more about my daughter and her academics. I have proofread a few papers for her, and in some ways, I feel as lost as I did when the kids hot about 5th grade in math. Out of my depth for sure! I have always been impressed by her scholastic work ethic, and now is no different. I am grateful that she has school work to help keep her busy.  I do hope the restrictions ease up when her academics end, or we could we in trouble. In the meantime, she is growing her own kombucha for a botany class, speaking Spanish at a level that would be acceptable on a Madrid street, and watching all the pandemic ramifications from the POV of a student who hasn’t decide whether to major in psychology or sociology.

She has been so respectful of social distancing! Yesterday marked the end of her 14-day quarantine since coming back from school. So today, I grudgingly allowed her to visit a friend in a distant way: they kicked a soccer ball around in a park. No close contact, just back and forth passing. I worried she’d get dirty looks (some folks are calling the cops on kids), but thankfully that didn’t happen.

Tonight I was going to order takeout, as we are trying to support local restaurants a few times a week. But HWSNBN wanted to cook, so I let him. Tomorrow someone from The Lakes Running Store will drop off shoes for me to try (I could get used to this), and I will see if my mask supplier needs provisions.

And I will try not to dwell on the latest losses, or that my son is serving on a probably COVID infested aircraft carrier, and that my dad lives in a nursing home, the front line of this wretched viral war.

I will enjoy the fact that my husband and daughter are messing up the house and eating all the food.

It could be worse.

 

Would it Help if I Worried?

So there’s this bug going around…

No, I don’t have it — yet.

Am I the only one out there not freaked out, but still get that it is a real thing? I mean, I know I will likely get it, or at least be exposed to it if I haven’t been already. I also assume that, sadly, I will know someone who dies. That’s an awful thought, but the odds are likely.

In the meantime, I am not sitting around wringing my hands and obsessively watching press conferences or reading charts or graphs or statistics.

My life has changed, sure. Date nights are gone. So is any personal space. My activities at home have to be curtailed to accommodate our home being turned into an office and school space.

The first time it started feeling real for our family was on our trip to Seattle Feb 27-March 2nd. That was about the time it started breaking open in Washington. As we wandered through museums and tourist attractions, rode planes and Ubers and ferries and monorails, ate samples at food markets and didn’t wash our hands enough, the bug was out there, closing in.

On Wednesday the 10th, HWSNBN was sent home from work to self-quarantine. He hasn’t been back to work since. That was the first way the pandemic has affected the family. We are lucky that he is still working — but keeping puppies quiet during his conference calls has been challenging.

At my weekly marketing meeting for Secondhand Hounds, the animal rescue I work for, we discussed possibly changing our upcoming events. I reached out the next day, Thursday, to my upcoming puppy parties (that’s what I do: I run our puppy party division), assured them that animals can’t spread the virus, but if they wanted to reschedule, that’s fine. No one took me up on the offer.

The next day we sent another letter, informing that all events were canceled, whether we liked it or not.

About that time my daughter and son were starting to feel the ripple effects where they are.

Singer Girl goes to school in Michigan (Go Blue!). She loves it there. I told her to prepare for things to change. I told her that her A Cappella group’s trip to Boston would likely be canceled. She said no way (it was canceled). I told her folks would soon be leaving. She said no way. The local kids started heading home temporarily. The school canceled classes for two days to decide how to handle the situation. They went to online classes. She wanted to see what would happen with all the social stuff. When St Patrick’s Day and Aca prom and here sorority’s charity event were all canceled, she was stunned.

I told her she would be coming home soon. She said no. She was still working; in fact, she was working more than she ever had, to cover the shifts of all those who had left already.  She also worried about exposing us to anything she had come in contact with.

I told her she would be coming home. She said she didn’t want to leave her friends. I said just start emotionally planning for it. She rolled her eyes, and we hung up.

Two hours later she called and said, “Ok: come get me.”

So last Thursday I drove 10 hours to Michigan. We packed her up the next day and drove back on Saturday.

Now, we all have to juggle wifi and quiet time so she can do her studies, HWSNBN can do his work, and I can stay sane while they step all over my routine.

Sailor Boy is supposed to change duty stations this summer — to Italy. Not sure if that’s going to happen now. The military is taking some major steps to deal with the virus, and his day to day life has drastically changed. He calls every day, and we discuss the latest development. Will he go to Italy? Will he stay with his current ship? Will he deploy? Will the navy help him move? Will I have to go to Washington and help?

Weirdly it’s like wartime. It’s what he signed up for, I tell him. In a lot of ways, this whole gig reminds me of what I imagined WW2 was like. Folks are sacrificing and stockpiling. We are being told to use supplies wisely. Many common items are hard to come by. People are churning out homemade masks and hospital gowns to protect health care workers. Neighbors are checking in on one another. Again, we all are waiting for that shoe to drop: who will we know that will pay the ultimate price?

Rescue is all weird now too. We have been told to stop doing spay and neuter surgeries. We’ve already cut our office staff to a skeleton crew. On the plus side, more people than ever before want to foster.  Sadly, we are unable to take in as many animals as we usually do, as we have cut down on transports to minimize potential volunteer exposure. So we have fosters just waiting to help, and we can’t get needy animals to their waiting homes.

On a day to day level, my life isn’t radically different. I am not worried. My philosophy for most of my life has been to plan for the worst, hope for the best.

In 2015, I saw a movie that pretty much changed my life: Bridge of Spies. Tom Hanks stars as an attorney on cold war America, called upon to defend an accused Russian spy. He funds the situation distasteful, to say the least, but does his civic duty Upon meeting the spy in jail, Hanks’s character explains the gravity of the situation, while the accused spy calmly listens. hanks, exasperated, asks why he is so calm. Isn’t he worried?”

“Would it help?” the Russian replies.

Would it help? Does worrying help? No, of course not. It just stresses you out. So from that moment on, whenever I get that nagging feeling, I pause and take a breath. Rather than waste energy worrying, I take action. Do what I can to take control of the situation, then let it go.

That’s where I am now: I have done what I can to prepare. Now I breathe. And wait.

Stay safe.

Holding On to the Date Nights

So what did we do on date nights in February?

We did things on our own, as well as with groups. I do enjoy having “date nights” with other couples, as we find we are inspiring others to branch out and do new things. Any time we can encourage others to step outside of their box, it doubles the fun!

The first weekend we went to Vegas, so no one-on-one date nights, but lots of fun with two of our fave couples! We do Vegas every year with these guys and always have a blast.

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Highlights included seeing Santana at the House of Blues — I love a concert, and especially when I have room to dance!

We visited  Lisa Van derPump’s new place at Caesar’s for lunch beforehand, As expected: drinks were delish, ambiance was OTT, and the food yummy (of course we had the goat cheese balls!).

We happened to be in town for Super Bowl (never again), and we rented a cabana where our group got to enjoy drinks, food, and sun while watching the wrong team win.

img_1309That night was a great dinner at a new-for-us restaurant, Catch at Aria.

 

The next weekend was my turn to plan, and HWSNBN was left in the dark as long as possible That was a long time indeed, as we had to pack a suitcase and drive more than 2 hours into the frozen tundra. He could not figure out where we were going, which was really fun for me.

Can I just give you a suggestion?

If you ever get a chance to attend a concert by the guy who wrote the soundtrack to your early love life as a couple, do it!

Richard Marx was playing at a casino and we hoofed it up north to see. he was so fantastic! I knew he had a huge catalog of songs and had written and collaborated with many, many famous performers. Hearing him tell the stories and sing the songs was so cool! He is a very funny guy. After the show, we hit the casino floor. ‘Twas a mite bit different than the Vegas casinos of the previous weekend, but it was fun feeling like a high roller, lol! Chicken strips and fries for dinner were also a far cry from the Haute cuisine of seven days prior, but that’s ok. This was our date, and it even reminded me of when we would run away for a night in college to Lake Tahoe, stay up all night then drive back.

 

This was one of those dates that never would’ve happened if we had planned it together. HWSNBN hates car trips — 30 minutes to St Paul makes him lose his mind. And he would’ve rolled his eyes at the idea of this concert. But he was wowed, and we really had a blast.

We had another sort of date that weekend. I mean, not really, but it was such a fun thing to do I wanted to share it. That Sunday, there was a huge dog-sled race called the Klondike Dog Derby on frozen Lake Minnetonka. we didn’t make all the pre-game festivities, of the days before, but we grabbed our dog, piled on the clothing layers, and trudged through the snow out onto the lake. I am excited to see that they will be doing this race again next year, because it was a very fun experience. I hope it is as sunny and gorgeous as it was this year. I would love to make it a “block party” event!

The following weekend was a double-date night with our friends’ Beth and Cory. Beth had reached out to me a couple of months prior, having found a Groupon she wanted to try. The outing had been on my date-night list already, so I agreed, and we surprised the guys with an evening of glass blowing at Foci! We each made colorful paperweights, and the whole process was super interesting. I’d love to try it again!

Afterward, we went out to dinner, and I have to say it was an epic fail. I was in charge of the dinner reservations, and I picked a place I would NEVER go to again. That stinks. Beth and Cory were polite, but it was embarrassing on my end.

The next week we had a double date and a single date planned. I have learned that when you miss someone and want to hang out, you should do so. So often we run into people places and say “we should get together!” Then, you never do? So now I try to reach out the next day and schedule something. Like, hey, what are you guys free on these dates?” I never regret it — there is a reason you say that whole “let’s get together sometime” thing. You like those people!

So earlier in the week, I had reached out a couple we enjoy, Matt and Kristy, whom we hadn’t hung out with in a while. We were miraculously both free, so Friday night we met for dinner and an activity. First up was a fantastic meal at Borough (we had tried to go to Parlour, but it was a madhouse. Another time!). Dinner was great and inventive, and the cocktails were the same.

We hung out a really long time chatting, then hopped into the car and went to the next locale: Modist brewery. they were having an indoor golf event, which sounded like something new and fun to try. But I read it wrong: it wasn’t the whole putting green deal. It was frisbee golf from TC Putts and Pints!

We had a ball — even if we did suck. I mean, I definitely sucked more than the others. But none of us was gonna be in the Masters.

Our last date night of February was planned by HWSNBN. It was on the calendar as “awesome date night,” and he was very excited to share it with me. This was a Tuesday night, date, showing that fun can be had on even the most basic of days!

Off we went to Badger Hill Brewing Company in Shakopee, where we participated in a Paint Your Pet Night by Gray Duck Art. HWSNBN had sent pics of our dog Stevie Nicks and our foster pup, Weeble, and we had a fancy paint by numbers kit waiting for us! Throw in a great beer and a Heggie’s frozen pizza and we had a ball!

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The March date report will be abbreviated, I fear — and April’s will likely be so as well. Social distancing is tough on our adventures, but we get it. It just gives me time to map out new things in a healthier future!

Turning the Pages

I have a book addiction.

I read ALL THE TIME. My nightstand usually has a couple books waiting patiently for me. I journal about the books I read (I am on the second volume of said journal). It contains all the books I have read for about a decade, plus it is crammed with lists and slips of paper and articles of books waiting to be devoured.

Why journal about this, besides my compulsion to make lists? I have this weird self-important idea that someday a kid or grandkid of mine will want to see what I read and pick a few books out themselves., just to be closer to me. But honestly, the journaling is also about keeping track; I read so much that sometimes I forget I read something until several pages in. Time waste!

Besides the journal, the website Goodreads has made me even more obsessed with chronicling my reading habits. Now I write my reviews there, then print them out and paste in my journal.

Mind you, I don’t buy most of the books I read. I am a frequent flyer at the library (when I do need a book that I can’t get from the library, I visit my local independent bookseller, Excelsior Bay Books. They are awesome).

Recently I started looking for books about an upcoming trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Got on the library website, and looked for everything I could find about the area — essays, travel books, fiction, etc.

At the same time, Amazon started sending me book suggestions “based on my history/interest.” I frankly don’t remember ordering any books from them. So somehow the internet Gremlins cyber stalked me and realized I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially about British royalty.

Amazon’s suggestions sent me down a rabbit hole back on the library website, and I added a bunch of books to my reserve list from that realm.

I am not sure how many books I reserved, but I do know that at some point they told me I had to stop, having exceeded the number allowed to reserve.

And then I got the call: I had books waiting.

A lot of books.

My first trip home netted about 25 books.

A few days later: a dozen more.

I was in trouble. I quickly organized them in order of size, knowing that I would never get through all of thee in 3 weeks, but that I needed to get through as many as possible in that time. The library has a fantastic new auto-renewal system, but I needed to get these books going on my own.

So far this year I have returned 37 books (love that the library now tracks this!).

This is my current pile:

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Books, of course, allow you access to amazing stories. True ones, fictional ones, and everything in between.

In the piles of books I recently brought home, there were some quite old ones — published in the 1920s, 30s, etc.

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Frankly, I didn’t get through them, but just holding them made me feel something. When you open them up, they still have the cool old handwritten check-out slips in them, and I couldn’t help but wonder: who read these books back then? Why? Were these hot new publications back in the day, or did they just hear about them from friends? Did they stumble across them, fall in love, or hate them and not finish them.

These books made me feel a little better about my weird book journal because I am leaving a document of what I read, when, why and what I thought about it. Maybe no one cares, and that’s ok. But maybe someone will. Or maybe, 80 years from now, someone else will check out a book I read, and it will have the patina of age, with butter-soft pages worn silky from years of love. And the reader will go — man, this book is old!

I wonder who read it?

I did.

Follow me on Goodreads!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Loving Myself Today

I went to bed last night with a bad taste in my mouth, and it’s all my own fault.

I realized that I have been kind of a bitch lately, and have not been holding myself to a very high standard. I have been talking about someone behind their back (no it’s probably not you), and that’s not okay.

I have always thought of myself as a very open-minded person, but maybe I have been wrong. In the fall I took an intellectual Humility test, and I retook it a couple of weeks ago.  I was appalled by my results.2020-02-142020-02-14 (1)

Not only was I worse than others on average, but I was headed in the wrong direction.

Clearly, I need to reassess how I think and behave. How many times have I hurt people and not even realized it? How many times have I judged someone unknowingly? What have I closed my mind to inadvertently?

What have I missed out on? I mean, who wants to talk with me when I talk with them negatively about other people?

So yesterday I reached out to the person I felt I had wronged. I apologized, and she laughed it off with grace. Said she’s not unused to being talked at behind her back, and snarked at to her face.

And that brought up a whole new problem.

As women, should we be okay with this? Do women in positions of authority laugh it off, and say they are used to being treated so meanly? That it’s ok? That they have gotten over the hurt?

Do men tear each other down like women do (and when did I become one of those women I loathed so much?). Do men accept the rudeness and the hurt? Or do they not even notice.

Do women take everything personally?

Is that good?

Do we care more? Do we work harder because of that? Are women motivated by the desire to rise above it, or to get approval? Or do we just swallow the hurt (to what emotional, mental and physical effect?) and become more focussed on accomplishing our goals?

Why do I do the things I do?

I will be the first to admit I am a personality and emotional contradiction. On one hand, I don’t give a shit what people think about me — but I am simultaneously desperate to be everyone’s friend.

On the one hand, I am proud of my directness. I hate the idea of pussy-footing around something. If someone asks my opinion, I tell them. (and clearly, as I discussed above, I’m not always great at my delivery). I dye my hair bright colors. I like to have loud ringtones with rock music. I wear shoes that light up and post pictures of my crazy manicures. I am an over-sharer — social media was MADE for me.

And yet I am always wondering: do they like me? Why don’t they ask me to hang out? Are they having fun without me? One of my biggest social hurdles has always been that I assume I am not included unless I am explicitly asked to participate. I have had folks be absolutely baffled that I am hurt that something occurred and I didn’t get to participate. “You know you were invited!” they say. No, I don’t. Unless I am specifically asked, I don’t know. And I get jealous when I see people I know doing things without me. Mind you: we are insanely busy most of the time, so it’s not like we are hurting for things to do. But I have an insatiable, almost debilitating desire to be included.

Well. This blog took a turn into self-analysis.

But maybe that’s where it started as well.

So: back to the beginning: I need to be a better person. I need to shut my mouth when my when I don’t have something positive to contribute. If I have a problem, snarking about it to someone else will not solve it. Go to the source and see if there is a solution. Don’t let other people get to me.

Scroll past that post.

If I don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.

And listen more than I speak. Man, THAT one is hard. I am not sure exactly how I am going to correct half a century’s worth of experience that has led me to this point. But I do know that I don’t like feeling guilty, and I like it even less knowing that I may have hurt someone.

They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one.

Step one taken.

 

 

Lookin’ Good (most of ya, anyway)

 

Starting with the nominated actors, let’s put them in order of least favorite to favorite dressed in each category!

Best Actor:

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Best Actress

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Best Supporting Actor

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Best Supporting Actress

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I was amazed at all the black and white this year!

Speaking of black and white, a few of the men tried to break out of your standard penguin suit:

 

As for the dynamic duos…

 

As you probably know by now, I am a huge fan of color and not a fan of the lack of it…usually. There wasn’t much color last night, except for a strong showing of reds and oranges. Here are a few of the colorful standouts, with a few paler hues that stood out for me.

 

Before we do my favorites and least faves, perhaps my favorite category: the, “I can’t make up my minds” — or the ALMOST Faves

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And now, for my least favorite looks…

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The best looks of the night, IMO:

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Some faces I missed seeing on the red carpet, and would like to see next year: Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and Emma Stone! See ya then!

And That’s a Wrap

I LOVE THAT PARASITE WON BEST PICTURE!

That was such a highlight for me at last night’s Academy Awards. I feel like the movie’s dominance last night was the only surprise all night. And Boon Jung Ho deserved his oft-mentioned drink last night, lol! I have a feeling he and the cast had a lot of fun at the after-parties!

What else did I like from the event?

I loved Chrissy Metz (from This is Us TV fame) singing “I’m Standing with You.”

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She was amazing.

I laughed out loud at Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig and their bit. Why aren’t they hosting the Oscars? The show keeps wanting to be pro-women, but would rather go hostless — a huge mistake — than hire smart, talented women like these?

Utkarsh Ambukar’s rap about midway through was on fire! I mean, he probably planned some of it but had to have composed it pretty much as the show rolled. He was great, and slightly but not obsessively political, and I bet a lot of people are googling him today.

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I was wrong on my Billie Eilish prediction — but loved the way they used her talent. Great call having one of the hippest young music stars today sing during the In Memorium tribute. It was a way of drawing in the young viewers, showing her paying homage to those who came before her. The Awards has been struggling with declining viewership over the years, and I think they are trying to make the show more relevant to a younger audience. They are bringing in more music, which resonates. But Eminem? Why? What did his performance have to do with today’s movies? Don’t get me wrong: I love him, but he is 47 — he could be Eilish’s grandfather.

They also brought in some younger stars to do some face time. They were often relegated to introducing bigger stars, who were, in turn, introducing bits.  That’s kind of a weird thing, IMO. And I don’t think the names were big enough to really draw young viewers if that’s what they were trying to do.

Another fave moment was watching Rebel Wilson and James Cordon making fun of themselves and their turn in probably the biggest catastrophic flop of the year, CATS. Their 4 minutes or so on screen were probably better than the whole movie.

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I also wasn’t too keen on Elton John’s performance, but I really think it was because the sound quality wasn’t great. He’s awesome (and I can’t wait to see him live this summer!).

On the other hand, there were quite a few things I didn’t love. As I said before, I hate the no-host thing. After Janelle Monae’s very cool intro performance, they humiliated two former hosts, Steve Martin and Chris Rock, by making them poke fun at being non-hosts. The jokes fell pretty flat to me — I mean, poking fun at Jeff Bezos was amusing at first, but they took it too far (why was he there, anyway?). And frankly, I felt that Martin was there to be a foil for Rock — cue the white male privilege jokes.

HWSNBN and I had a huge issue with the Idina Menzel Frozen 2 song performance. Not with her — she’s a phenomenal singer, of course. But they had singers who had performed the Frozen songs in other languages on stage with her. Great idea, but where was the diversity there? No one from China? Or Africa? And basically, two singing in the same language (Spanish and Castilian are awfully close). We both were pretty irritated by that. If the Academy is striving to promote diversity, that would’ve been an easy way to show some.

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And you know a joke is tired when HWSNBN comments that he has seen it before. The Will Farrel Julia Louis-Dreyfus bit where they don’t know what a cinematographer does has been recycled enough. It’s rude and disrespectful to cinematographers.

And why were some things introduced twice (Anthony Ramos introduced Lin-Manuel Miranda, who then introduced a montage about the importance of music in movies.

And why were some performers not introduced at all? Chrissy Metz, Elton John, and Randy Newman all just sort of started performing. Very weird.

Some performers, like Randy Newman and Elton John, weren’t introduced at all.

And sometimes even presenters got presented: Lin-Manuel Miranda, for instance, got a full WWE-style introduction from Anthony Ramos, in order to to…introduce a montage.

All in all, I liked the show. I know that every year they have to work around the movies that are nominated to create the show. That makes sense. And I know that there were lots of things that didn’t happen this year (no women directors nominated, for example, And yes, having women in starring roles, like the first female conductor (even though she was only conducting for a segment and not the whole show), was a good call. But it does still feel like a desperate move in a scared town. There were some amazing movies this year, and I think that’s great. I guess the problem might be that as we raise the bar on movies, there will be more wonderful ones to pick from, so more will not be recognized. I mean, Meryl Streep wasn’t nominated for anything this year.

Clearly, it’s tough to be a woman in Hollywood!

(tomorrow I’ll post about the fashions. Don’t worry: I’m still as trite and superficial as ever!)

Predictions are a Production

The Academy Awards are tonight!

I managed to see all the best picture nominees and most of the acting ones. Here are my predictions for some of the awards — decorated by fashion splashes not yet discussed during this awards season!

Best Supporting Actor

(Haven’t seen Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, or Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes).

Who I liked best: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  I’ll be honest: this year has changed my opinion of Pitt. I never really paid attention to him before, although he stood out from the generically handsome slew of men in Hollywood in Inglourious Basterds. But this role seems, well, like who he is in real life. And after watching him in this, and in all the interviews and red carpet and award show appearances, he’s kinda hot. He’s sexy to me now, both as a hunka man and as an actor. Hoping for cool stuff from him in the future!

Who will win: Pitt. Easiest vote of the night. And he should have a cool, aw-shucks, ma’am, speech.

Fashions I liked from the BAFTA awards:

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Best Supporting Actress

(haven’t seen Kathy Bates in Ricard Jewell)

Who I liked best: Florence Pugh, Little Women. I have heard some folks say she shouldn’t win because she was so much older than her character in the book, and she was a British woman playing a thoroughly American role. I don’t really care about either of those things — and those were choices made by the casting director, not by her. From the minute we entered the theater, I realized this was a different, thoroughly modern Little Women, and she was perfect. She fleshed out Amy March in a way I’d never seen done before and made her a strong, complex woman, not just a spoiled brat.

Who will win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story. She was good, don’t get me wrong, but Best? Nah.

Fashions I didn’t like from the BAFTAs:

Best Actor:

(Haven’t seen Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory or Jonathon Pryce in The Two Popes)

Who I liked best: Joaquin Phoenix in The Joker. He completely embodied the character and made him sympathetic. His performance gave dimension to an almost comical villain, and the film is more of a treatise on the plight of the poor and those with mental illness, and how the haves don’t always get what the have nots need or want. Phoenix was sad, and sweet, and gruesome and powerful and beyond impressive.

Who will win: Phoenix. A given.

Fashions I liked at the SAG awards:

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Best Actress:

Who I liked best: So many great performances here! But I have to say Renee Zelwegger as Judy Garland was heart wrenching and lovely. My number two choice would be Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story. So nuanced! She was so good you could almost forget how stupid beautiful she is.

Who will win: Zellwegger

Fashions I didn’t like from the SAGs:

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Best Director: 

Who I liked best: All 5 deftly handled complex films with lots of different challenges. I wouldn’t be bothered by any of them winning, but I might have to say Bong Joon Ho for Parasite was the most impressive to me, followed by Sam Mendes for 1917.

Who will win: Most likely Mendes — although Hollywood does love itself enough to give it to Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Best Picture:

Which I liked best: I kind of feel like Parasite should win, with 1917 in second place.

Which will win: 1917 — or Once Upon a Time.

My biggest surprise prediction: Billie Eilish will debut her new James Bond song! And I can’t wait!

Time to go get cozy, and watch the show! See you soon!

 

Take your Fish on a Date

Whenever HWSNBN attend social events — company parties, dinner clubs, drinks with friends — people always have the same fascination. The same desire to know, to pick our brains.

“So…tell us about those date nights!”

We chuckle and look at each other. He sips his drink, and I start talking.

The three questions we get asked most:

  1. How does it work?
  2. How often do you do it?
  3. Where do you get the ideas?

So how do the date nights work?

Our date nights stemmed from a  conversation HWSNBN and I had in late August 2018. Singer Girl had just left for college, and the nest was empty. My husband of just weeks shy of 25 years looked at me and said: we are in a rut. He said he didn’t want us spending the rest of our days just going out to dinner and binge-watching Netflix shows. I agreed,. But I said I didn’t want this to be a one-sided thing, where I have to plan everything and then feel (whether rightly or wrongly) like the pressure is on me for us to have fun.

So we came up with a plan: we would take turns planning date nights. If it was my turn, I’d have it all planned out, with no input on the planning front from him — which meant he couldn’t veto what we were doing. The same goes for when it is his turn. That veto thing is the most important part of making these date nights work. How many of us come up with an idea for something to do on a Saturday night, but when we ask our significant other, they say “I don’t know, Nah. I’m not feeling it”?

If the other person doesn’t know what you are doing, they can’t kill the idea.

This also means that we get to do things we want to do — even if we know it wouldn’t be the other person’s first choice.

Our first planned date night was my choice, and we went mini-golfing at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis. that night, we also tried our first selfie. We are really bad at those and have pledged (well, one of us did) to do them every date night. We try to send them tt he kids, partly to let them know we still exist, partly to let them know we are doing ok (and partly to brag. Singer Girl has wistfully proclaimed she can’t wait to be 21 so she can hang out with us, as we seem to know where all the cool places are!).

How in the world do you find things to do?

We have done a lot:

Trapeze classes.

Plays.

Museums and galleries and art festivals

Countless amazing restaurants, bars, and breweries.

Scavenger hunts.

Pottery classes.

Inflatables courses. Pumpkin carving extravaganzas.

Lantern festivals.

And so much more!

It is super easy to find things to do. I have always been a list maker and a collector of information, so I have folders of ideas. I have a paper one, filled with articles I have cut out of papers and magazines. I also have a computer folder with things I have seen online. The internet is amazeballs for this sort of thing: once you start clicking on things, you get suggestions thrown at you left and right. I mean, all you have to do is think about something and you get targeted ads, right? Well, imagine what happens when you start actively looking for things to do.

If I can’t think of something new and timely, I search local calendars. My absolute fave Twin Cities one for kooky ideas is City Pages. I have signed up for their suggestions, as well as tons of others. Here are a few interesting ones:

Only in Your State

MSP Magazine

Eater Twin Cities

Thrillist

Sometimes you have to plan far in advance. I planned this Friday’s date about 3 months ago because I needed to buy tickets for something. I know he would’ve said no if I asked him, but afterward, he will say “I am glad we did this.”

How often do we manage to do date night?

Do we do it every weekend? No, but we try to. I have it on the calendar: Donni plans date night, HWSNBN plans date night, alternating weekends, so we know in advance who’s up to bat (yes, we’ve been to baseball games — and football, and soccer!).

Sometimes life gets in the way and conflicts inevitably arise. It is a lot harder to do when the kids are here, and, full disclosure, we are kind of glad when they go back from whence they came so we can get back to our adventures. We are also pretty busy socially in other ways, so sometimes we have to squeeze stuff in. The holidays are tough. His work travel can make it challenging.

But we can feel when it has been too long.

We start to go back to the boring, with not as much to talk about. Let’s face it: marriage is hard! We have been married 26 years this fall, and actually have known each other for 34 years. When you start out with someone, often the moments are somewhat stolen, and you fit the person into your life. They don’t know you, and you don’t know the, so every little factoid is fascinating (“you use toothpaste? I do too!”). Relationships are like fish: if you don’t keep swimming, they die.

HWSNBN sometimes says he feels like the date nights are a competition. I do not. I feel like they are a great way to learn more about ourselves and to do things that make each of us happy. Maybe I feel this way because I have always felt that pressure to make sure we had a good time, and now I feel it is shared equally.

One side benefit that we didn’t expect: all those people who ask us about date nights. I have people (often life-long Minnesotans who are younger than us) asking for suggestions. I think it’s so cool that we inspired folks to get off the couch and try new things.

Yes, it’s my turn this weekend. We will hit the road around 3pm and drive to an unknown destination (that’s another fun part: keeping it a secret as long as you can!). We have to be back by 930 the next morning, as we are booked solid: the Chilly Open for him in the morning, our Gourmet club Sat night, the Klondike Dog Derby Saturday and Sunday, and cramming as many movies in before we take the couch for the Oscars Sunday night.

And the couch will be okay then because we know that our next adventure is just a few days away! Happy dating to you all!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

 

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