Tag Archives: Montana

Review of Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods

21 Feb

I like outdoorsy stuff.  I think Brandi Carlile’s Bear Creek album was a perfect representation of that outside feeling.  It wasn’t on the nose like this, but the vibe hit the right notes and was in the right sound and genre.

Not so with this one.  I think my biggest criticism is the name of the album.  You’ll see what I mean. . .

  1. “Filthy”

The first 30 seconds are how you open an album!  Does it fit with the purported theme of this particular album?  Absolutely not.  There is nothing woodsy or outdoorsy about this electric/dance track.  It’s grand, it’s loud, and it’s futuristic.  I also like the robotic background noise.  And the breakdown at 2:45 minutes in has a cool horror movie sound to it.  What I didn’t like was the video on YouTube that ended in major objectification of women.  Why are skimpy bondage outfits and simulated humping necessary, Justin?

I don’t like any part of the spoken verse from Jessica Biel.  I’m glad they are a happy couple, and I don’t mind if he sings about her, or to her.  But that’s the extent of it–I don’t want her voice IN the music.  I don’t care if it’s supposed to be a story that pulls the album together.  Jessica–stay in the movies where you belong!

2.  “Midnight Summer Jam”

It’s a little retro in the singing–like something the Bee Gees would do.  But the funk sounds, and harmonica-like layers in the music bring it to a more 2018 sound.  Again, is it anything to do with the wilderness or roughing it?  Nope.  But good song if you take those expectations away.

3. “Sauce”

The beat is fun.  The song starts out sounding like something I could be into.  But then the lyrics are gross.  “I love your pink, you like my purple” ???  Ewwww.  And it’s repeated, unfortunately.  I have to think about that visual a few times.  If not for that I like the vibe of this one.  It’s funky and fun, and at one point Justin almost reminds me of Karmin.  Maybe there’s a karaoke mix without the words.

I am glad that Justin went for more, shorter tracks.  His last album had obnoxiously long songs.  And the more tracks the better, I think.  Give me my money’s worth!

4.  “Man of the Woods”

Seeing Justin dance in this video actually made me like the song more.  Which rarely happens.  Except, I wasn’t impressed with the later ballroom dancing.  Firstly, doesn’t Jessica have people to do her hair?  It looked super-ratty.  And she’s not a strong dancer, you could totally see him leading her.  I say she sticks to what she’s good at–acting.  Leave the dancing to JT.  Prior to seeing the video I thought this new woodsy vibe was a put-on.  Phoniness to cater to a certain audience, but after seeing Justin rock his plaid and vests on logs and in cabins–I realized he’s being authentic.  He is Mr. Happy now that he’s married and has kids, and a stable, relatively quiet life.

To me, this is nothing reminiscent of Montana–where I was born and a lot of my extended family still live.  Montana is being rugged, and self-sufficient, and maybe even a little uncouth (and most people in Montana are poor).  None of which describes Justin or Jessica.  But if you think about it, compared to LA, or even TN where entourages, and their people, and fans are always about–they DO feel like they’re off the grid.  In their cabin-mansion.  No, it’s not what you or I consider outdoorsy.  But to Justin–it totally is.

The song is kind of cool and catchy.  I like the syncopation, the echoed vocals, and the beat.  The lyrics are cute, and tell a story.  I think it’s my favorite track on the album–even though it is decidedly nothing to do with the woods.

5.  “Higher Higher”

This song could have been on any one of Timberlake’s albums.  It’s very “him.”  It’s everything that he’s known for, the romance, the easy dance sound, right down to the higher vocal range.

6.  “Wave”

This one has an interesting time key.  It’s unique, but it goes into some nice singing by Justin.  The lyrics, as usual, are a little banal.  I’m not sure I ever particularly liked the writing on Justin’s albums.  His specialty is the music blends, his vocal stylings, and obviously–the performance.  Not necessarily the words.  The break at 2:30 minutes in is unexpected and playful, and I like the percussion that follows.  Also, what’s a song without some whistling?  You can always expect to hear something out of place made cool and hip with Justin’s songs.

7.  “Supplies”

I like the rolling sounds (vocal trills?).  I like the background, and how it’s kind of bare.  The way the music goes reminds me of the ticking of a clock.  A countdown to the end, if you will.  The chorus is catchy, too.  This is my 2nd favorite song on the album.  I also liked the Hunger Games themed video for this one.  It supplemented the song perfectly.  Does it say to me camping or living off the land in a cabin?  No.  It says zombie apocalypse or end of the world.

8. “Morning Light”

The singing is very soulful.  And it’s typical Justin.  The lyrics are lovely, if not overly-sentimental.  The thing is, though Timberlake tends to run into the super-saccharine in his writing, I do think he MEANS it.  I don’t think he’s just writing garbage on paper to prove it’s a love song.  I feel like he might actually be that sensitive.  Alicia Keys features on this one, and the pairing is just right.  It’s a quiet song, but groovy and smokey and loving too.  It is probably what an actual evening with Justin is like.

9. “Say Something”

There’s hand-clapping.  There’s guitar.  But that’s about the extent of how country it gets.  This sounds more like a Ben Harper song, than ANY of the Hanks.  Chris stapleton is credited on this track, and he brings an earthy feel, but more funk and hippy-groove stuff that foot-stamping or truck drivin’ fare.  What I don’t really get is the message of the song.  At first, I thought it was going to be political.  And I was happy that Justin was going to use his fame to educate or SAY something.  But I didn’t love the, “sometimes the greatest way of sayin’ something, is to say nothing at all.”  I think that’s the opposite sentiment that we should have in these tumultuous times of NRA/mass shootings, pussy-grabbing Trump/me too movement, etc. . .

One of my favorite things about all of Justin’s songs is the unpredictability.  I might be able to stop a track in the middle of another artist and still have the gist of the song.  But you never know what you might miss in a Timberlake.

10.  “Hers” interlude.

First, the interlude died in the 90’s.  Second, the talking of Jessica Biel is too much.  But if I had to pick one of the spoken verses to like, it’s this one.  I can appreciate the intimacy she’s talking about, and how that’s love.

11. “Flannel”

It’s a sweet-sounding song, with some Prince–or whatever he was calling himself at the end–sounding talking.  And some Boys II Men-inspired harmonies.  But it’s a random subject-matter that I just can’t quite buy into.  I wish the words to this one were completely different.  Anything else.  Well, except your pink and my purple-ick!

By this time, I was so fed up with the spoken verse!  And this one goes on and on.  Lame.

12. “Montana”

This song could also be on any of Justin’s other albums.  There is electronic, and a funk beat.  He sings in a laid back way, and oozes sex-appeal and R&B sentiment.  If it had a different title it would be better.  To me, Montana sounds more like John Denver.  Or Charlie Daniels.  Even pow wow music.  But not this.  That’s not to say I don’t like the song–I just think it needs a name change.

13. “Breeze Off the Pond”

The writing on this one is almost terrible.  It’s a little too simple, almost childish.  But I like the tune of the song just fine.  Probably the weakest track on the CD though.  Maybe cutting it or saving it for the next release wouldn’t have been the worst thing.

14.  “Livin’ Off the Land”

I don’t really like the random talking up front.  I can see this one will inspire some awesome dancing at the concert (or on Netflix, I hope!) that I always adore.  I like the beat-boxing in the background, as it’s subtle.  And I like the catchiness.  Also, the lyrics are good too–for once.  It’s my third favorite track on Man of the Woods.  I like how it closes with a lot of string instrumentals, mixing some “country” in.

15. “The Hard Stuff”

I like the sentiment of this song.  How relationships aren’t always easy, and Justin isn’t expecting a free ride of all fun and games.  It shows he’s serious and real.  I respect that.  I think in real life Justin Timberlake is a real good guy.  Solid and dependable.  I’m glad he hits some notes and actually sings in this one, also.

16. “Young Man”

And the culmination of the CD is (predictably) the product of Justin and Jessica, their son.  And fatherly advice given my Justin to his boy.  It’s trite.  It’s cliche.  But it does complete the family theme of the album nicely.  It’s a nice arc, even if it’s too much.

So I get how this whole album was a love song to his wife.  And they had their special moments in the state of Montana.  So he’s all sentimental, and lovey.  What they are NOT, is rustic or outdoorsy.  Part of being woodsy is going without–living a sparse lifestyle.  And you just can’t do that in a mansion.  I think I (and the critics) would have liked this electronic/funk/R&B/dance album just fine, if Justin kept his camping fantasy to himself.  I’m going to think of the album’s theme more like the comfortable feeling Justin is living having a family.  I think if you think of “the woods” as symbolic of peace and quiet in your head-space, this album (with it’s silly title) is easier to swallow.  Had he named the album and some of the tracks ANYthing else, all would have been forgiven.  As it is, the album’s tone just doesn’t match what is supposed to be the theme.

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When It Rains, It Pours: April [drive, err 2nd drive]

17 Jun

Yes, yes–another hiatus.  And there will be another (for a week) because my parents are visiting and I won’t have time to do the important things either.

PS-this is my WordPress anniversary, which is cool, but not my blogging one.  I started on Myspace–and yes, I liked it better.

anti-facebook

Anyway, let’s wrap up the moving story already.  I think the posting may be actually taking longer then the move itself. . .

So I had to drive Rusty (unknown vehicle status) a SECOND time from Spokane to Salt Lake City.  And I started out all tired.  Also, my house-sitting job wrapped up on a Saturday night, so it was awkward timing.  Because 2 days prior the lease on my apartment was up.  So I technically had no place to stay in Washington.

My boss (the owner of the house-sitting house) offered my an extra night at their place.  But I thought it would be awkward when her and her husband were home.  So I declined.  And my aunt offered me her house, but then I would be obligated to chat Saturday night, use her dirty bathroom/shower, and they would probably make me late (and CRAZY) in the morning with more obligatory chatting.

I would have to start the drive Saturday evening.  But I’ve learned trying to press on at all hours of the night, not only sucks, but is dangerous.  So I just broke down and shelled out money for a hotel.  But in Missoula–because I love that town!

pow wow and Missoula 031

So I’m driving up this steep, steep hill, pushing Rusty to do 65-70 MPH (normally 50 is my absolute max) not being sure how much Rusty could handle.  Everything is going ok–I’m in between that Idaho and Montana part that’s up, up, up, but fast speeds.  And suddenly, the hood of the car just catches my eye.  I saw it move!  While I was going 70mph!  I abruptly put on my flashers and pulled over in the “emergency stopping only” to check the scene.  Sure enough–the hood was OPEN!  I was so scared.  How long had it been open?  What if I hadn’t noticed?  What if it flew up while I was driving up hill with a lot of speedy traffic?  I could have been killed.  I imagine at that speed the hood would have broken the front window.  Not to mention obscured my vision.

So I closed that and resumed my trip, drama-free, but shaken.

I stayed at the hotel and it was lovely and uneventful as well.  Then the next morning I got an early (I am now a night person, remember) start at 5:38AM.

That drive between Montana-Idaho-Utah is boring.  Sure, the speeds are high, but there is really nothing out there.  And of course my phone doesn’t get reception.  Also making me nervous about potential car trouble.

Rusty is a 1992.  And back then, they apparently did not try to make it a quiet ride.  I could hear all the traffic loudly and the awful wind.  A random storm blackened the sky over me and caused severe wind that made it effortful to stay in my lane.  But it was so, so loud I kept thinking my doors must not be closed all the way.  So I was nervous one might open while I was driving and stuff (maybe me) would fall out in the highway.

The other thing that happened was while climbing a hill.  I was using cruise-control–that did make it a better ride then when I took the Penske.  Anyway, I’m going up hill at 75-80 MPH in a group of cars and suddenly Rusty just came out of cruise control.  Just decelerated at an alarming rate.  And because I was mid-hill I couldn’t get any speed manually either.  I had to quickly pull off.  And I didn’t know how alarmed to be.  Was Rusty done for?  Was this a sign of a bigger problem?  Would I be stuck in Idaho without a car or phone reception?  uh oh. . .

610

There was tons of wind and tons of bugs on the interstates of Montana and Idaho.  I was having to clean the windshield every time I filled the tank, then it would quickly become buggy again.  One time, about 5 hours into my journey, when I was tired, thirsty, had expired from car-slurr, I cleaned the windshield.  It wasn’t 5 minutes and this huge group of bugs crashed into my windshield, covering it with their rust-colored bodies.  It made me disproportionately upset and made the trip feel so loooooonnnnnnnggggg.

But I just used the bathroom, and cleaned off my windshield with vinegar–which boosted my morale substantially.  Vinegar worked better then the gas station cleaners and it was the first time I could see well!  And my car had no further issues.

The end of that trip sucks, because just when you’re the most greasy, tired, thirsty, and ready to arrive at the destination, the traffic becomes thick and the driving moronic.  You have to pay super-close attention and constantly defensively-drive!  So I’m worn out and crowded in speeding cars, having to pay acute attention.

Needless to say, when I pulled up at the apartment, I was DONE!  I was ready for a hug from Cool and a nap in a clean apartment.

But that’s not what happened.  Cool, still being manic, had bought a used futon while I was away.  Which was bigger then our living room.  I was thinking it didn’t fit.  That bed-bugs had probably been introduced.  And how did she pay for it.  Instead of the relaxation, nap, shower, and meal, I would have to fight with Cool, pack up a futon, clean the apartment (which of course she left a mess) and I might as well unpack Rusty while I was at it.

Not the best.

In the end, the futon got re-sold for a $5 profit, I cleaned the house, and Cool got a meds adjustment, and *knock on wood* has been a lot more stable.

captial-sky

And that’s the end of the moving story!!!  Finally.

When It Rains, It Pours: April [moving-drive-1st leg]

28 May

Let’s see, driving long stretches is mostly boring.  But a few key things are worth noting.

-Going on a Sunday was genius.  Traffic around cities was a lot less.  And bigger then that, the construction was on hold.  So we still lost time to slow speed limits, but we never had to stop in a line for workers or anything.  Any other day would have taken a LOT longer to get through those zones.

-Cool had fairly bad behavior for the entirety of the planning and execution of all of the move.  She was the bad kind of manic:  Unfocused, irritable, all over the place, no common sense or concentration.  So mostly she provided stress upon the stress.  BUT the one amazing thing that she thought of–and followed through to completeion–was walkie-talkies.  I wasn’t all about them–I figured they’d be fun if we had them, but not having them wasn’t a deal-breaker.  Let me tell you:  Walkie talkies and 2 vehicles are THE way to go if you have to drive a moving truck.  I drove the 16 foot Penske, and Cool (and the cats) followed along in her HHR.  This was great, because she could monitor my blind spots.  If I wanted to switch lanes, we could just beep each other quickly on the radios.  No cost of cell phone minutes (though using Boost, we both have unlimited talk, text, and data anyway) and no one-handed stuff.  We could also easily communicate which speed we wanted to go and when we had to stop for gas, bathroom, food, or rest.  The walkie-talkies made driving the Penske EASY!  Awesome job, Cool!!!

-We got started around 2PM, and drove 5.5(?) hours to Butte, which was about 2 hours past my point of fatigue.  Having long-hauled many road trips before this, 2 hours isn’t all that bad–relatively speaking.

Big Sky Country

-The cats rode in the car well (I’m told).  Usually Goose is good, quiet, and still during the car ride.  Choco-Luv likes to scream and yell the entire trip.  But sans drugs, they did pretty good–maybe Cool just tuned them out with loud music though.

-And the hotel seemed magical when we got to stop for a real shower and bed and TV.

-The cats fussed a little–they do the opposite thing at lodging that they do in the car:  Goose is usually a horrible, terrible noise-maker and pacer in hotels.  He kept us all awake the whole night in Boise, and when when my dad and I took him from Missouri to Nevada for the final time, Goose was so angry with me he peed on my hotel pillow.  He yowled a little, but not incessantly and we could still sleep.  I think it helped that we didn’t drug them at all this time.

-Splitting the trip into 2 days helped bunches, and the next day we just had to drive 7-ish(?) hours to Salt Lake City, instead of a whole 10.5 hours.  Which I think 10.5 is a low estimate from Google, it might have been more like 13 in real conditions.

-Montana and a nice high speed limit, and I always feel at home under it’s big-sky.  Idaho is full of nothingness, but at least they also have an extreme speed limit.  I just kept driving the Penske because it was going well.  And I think switching off would have made everyone more nervous.  Unlike Rusty, the Penske had cup holders, and you don’t realize how important and nice those are until you’ve lived without them.  It was also nice having a clock, which Rusty does not have.

-The only thing about the Penske that was bothersome, was my accelerator-foot got tired.  The speed tops out at 70 mph, but with a speed limit of 80 mph, I wanted to push it as fast as it was willing to go.  But it made the truck roar and shake, and I had to mash the pedal all the way to the floor.

-Utah drivers are awful, and it made it a little difficult that we had to finish the drive like that.  You’re at a point where you’re tired and just want to get there–it’s no time to have to employ a bunch of defensive-driving techniques.  But we did.  And all 4 of us made it in one piece and without very much fatigue or headache.  Also–this is of course relative to past trips.  We were all very tired of sitting in a car, sleepy, and wanting to be home.

-We got to the new apartment at 3:30PM.  I needed a shower.  I was fatigued.  I was SO done with moving!  I just wanted to shower and chill.  But alas, the parking situation was tight, so in order to unload the Penske in the vicinity of our unit, I had to park in 3 neighbor’s spots.  Needless to say, there would not be an afternoon/evening of rest.  Not even a meal break.  We had to immediately unload the Penske in order to move out out of the way before people got home from work and had no place to park.

welcome to utah- t-rex

Next episode:  Unpacking.

BAD Blogger!

7 May

I just moved.  Moving is crazy.  This is my excuse for such a long post-drought.  This is my timeline for past moves so I can tell the stories of this last month:

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And it’s not like I haven’t done it (moved) before, on the contrary I have moved so much it portrays a wanderlust or flakiness that doesn’t really fit my true personality.

Polson- enteranceWhen I was 4, my parents and I moved away from all of our extended family in Montana, to Nevada for job opportunities.  Montana is beautiful, but you “can’t eat the scenery.”

I grew up in small-town Nevada, going to the same Kidron's NV pics 050school for 13 years.  Which is good and bad.  I have well-established roots, and I always knew everyone and all my teachers, and everything.  BUT everyone always knows you and your business too, so good luck trying to live down embarrassing moments, changing/growing, or keeping anything on the D.L.

RenoI went to the same college everyone goes to my first year, which required a short move to Reno (an hour away) but tried to branch out instead of staying with my same ‘ol click as most of my small-town counterparts did.

I wanted more opportunities and was chasing my veterinary dreams so I took a HUGE leap and transferred to mid-Missouri, site-unseen, my sophomore year.  That move was big-time, but I was still somewhat protected by the insular world of college:Mizzou quad  I moved right into dorms and worked for campus dining services.  When housing, jobs, and school all line up–moves are substantially less stress.  And emotionally, I had already been away from loved ones before (moving from MT at 4) so I wasn’t lost or lonely.  Plus, school and work kept me so busy, who had time to miss anything?!  The move from Nevada to Missouri required a 30 hour drive.  I made that drive with my mom carrying a few dorm essentials.  I made that 30 hour drive with Douche, in a U-Haul.  I’ve made that 30 hour round trip by myself and a car-load of essentials and a dog.  I made the return trip by myself and 2 cats.  I HATE that drive.

265173_2208001644072_1368379309_32588356_2533618_nThen, my Saint George acceptance pulled me out of Missouri–which I really liked the 6 years I was there.  I had to make that 30 hour drive once more, with my dad, in a U-Haul.  Never again!  I’m not sure anything else aside from vet school would have compelled me to ever leave the midwest.  But veterinary school was calling, so I temporarily visited my parents and dropped off my cats that summer.  Nevada was just a brief visit.

Except Saint George fell through a week before matriculation.  Suddenly, I had nowhere to go, but obviously I wasn’t going to live with my parents–that was never the plan.  I had to choose where to go–and not being based on any acceptance, it could be anywhere that had a vet school.  I didn’t really know, and my parents dictated that I decide immediately.

I had been watching a lot of Frasier, wanted to try out a more liberal and city environment, and Frasier saturation increasedliked Washington’s veterinary program.  So to Seattle I (blindly) went.  Driving a car-load of essentials the 15 hours by myself.  I lived with my great aunt, which I always saw as a temporary transitional set-up while I looked for my own place.  I had previously gotten along famously with my college roommate, so I wasn’t discouraged Seattle housing prices negated living alone like I had in Missouri.

bedroom darkI moved to 12th Avenue, and soon saw what real-life roommates mean.  I needed out of that place ASAP because it was ridiculous!  Around this same time, I met Cool.  We hit it off, and sometimes I stayed at her shared housing situation, which was WORSE then my 12th Ave scene.  I don’t think I ever completed a full sleep cycle in Seattle.  I was always tired, always grumpy.  It made me HATE the city.  I needed my own space, without crazy roommate scenarios.  I needed a reasonable housing cost.

So we moved 6 hours across Washington to Spokane (with cats in Cool’s car and me driving a U-Haul).  And it was so much better!Fremont Fest 114  We could afford our own apartment without roommates!  Vet school didn’t happen for me, and the job market in Eastern Washington is horrible.  There was nothing there for us–Spokane wasn’t home.  We needed out, but Western Washington is out of our price range.

So I wanted to show you, I’ve moved.  I have left those emotional connections and everyone I know.  I’ve moved out of state.  I’ve had to find housing from a distance.  I’ve known the expenses.  Which brings us to 2015 and my latest move.

Best Moments of 2014!

30 Dec

It was a good year, though not in the way of travel and events.  It was just a nice, stable year (for me, Cool was swinging up and down rapidly) which is what I needed.  Here are the bigger moments that were important from 10-best:

#10:  Getting to snowboard again

EZ123 3rd snowboard 118

I love being good at things!  And the instructors said I was a fast learner, and I felt confident on the slopes.  It was good to be back in the bindings.  Cool’s accident and resulting ambulance ride, emergency room visit (and those bills) lower this 2014 moment to closer to the bottom of the list.

#9:  Bike Swap and Snowboard  Swap

bike swap 4-10-14 017

These were really exciting adventures!  The research, the shopping, the event.  And the dreams for our future sports endeavors–not to mention our purchases were super-fun.  And Cool and I got along famously at both–no bipolar issues these weekends-whew.

#8:  Finishing my post-bac at Riverpoint (and keeping my 4.0 GPA)

CN ref both flaps open

The anticipation had been killing me.  I looked forward to this for TWO years, so when it happened it felt pretty sweet.  This is low on the list because the huge accomplishment (in my mind) was a little underscored by others and didn’t receive the acclaim I felt it deserved.  Finishing 27 upper-level courses in an entirely new and unfamiliar field–WITH straight A’s is a big deal in my mind–even if it didn’t garner me an actual degree.

 #7:  Two DMB shows–with SEATS.  And Brandi Carlile to open both shows.

celebrate we will 3

Usually this would take the #1 spot–and having 2 shows with seats–it SHOULD.  But Cool and I had probably our worst fight ever the first Friday so it’s not the perfect memory I anticipated and desire.  Obviously, it still makes the list because, hello, the Gorge, Brandy opening (and acknowledging our sign), DMB, the setlist game, merch, and SEATS!

#6:  Being named a finalist in a noise-induced hearing loss prevention poster contest!

NIHL color pic

I enjoy showing my creativity, and who doesn’t like winning something?  My poster will be featured at the annual AudiologyNOW conference and may even win!  In which case I get all proceeds for the life of the poster.  It’s cool and it’s exciting.

#5:  The relief I felt when I quit veterinary assisting

retirement from vet med 013

Even though the financial consequences were scary, I instantly felt better.  Removing those toxic influences was difficult, but well worth it.  It was time to go, and I’m in such a better place since I did.  I just had enough, and it feels good to be away.

#4:  Going to MT over Independence Day and My birthday

Cool Grizz attack

This one’s slightly lower, because before we left home, Cool was an irritable turkey so that puts a bit of a damper on the memory.  Pow-Wow is always fun, but this item is down in the rank because I had a bad allergy attack.  Leaving pow-wow to stay at a hotel in Missoula was amazing.  One of the best showers of my LIFE!  The bathtub was full of dust, and my allergens (temporarily washed away).  It felt nice staying in an oversized room with a TV and sleeping in a cozy bed instead of car-camping at the pavillion.  It was partially so nice because it was an unplanned treat and everything fell into place nicely–which rarely happens to me.  Also seeing how adorable Missoula is over my birthday weekend, and dreaming of “summering” there was exciting.

#3:  Satisfaction of running 1 mile every day of the year

house-sitting post run

It’s a really big deal, because not only am I really busy most of the time–I’m lazy.  I’m very proud to remain in shape, counter my poor eating habits, and do something not that many other people are able to achieve.  I’m going to see how many days in a row I can keep this up.

#2:  My parents visited!

Dad's 70th B-day visit 020

We had a week full of family activities and my dad turned 70!  Everyone (except Aunt Linda) was on their best behavior and I felt like a real family unit.  I loved that everyone had fun and Cool was made to feel 100% part of the family.  And all the free food and fun activities didn’t hurt my feelings either 😉

 #1:  The Sky-Fest Air Show

loading docktraffic jam in the sky

Was a genuinely amazing time, not ruined by bipolar, sunburns, or lack of funds.  Cool and I were together and both of us happy and excited.  We got to spend the day outside, and tour the planes, and spectate at the shows.  We got burned and thirsty, but we were still in great spirits.

Merry Christmas, Grandpa George!

21 Dec

I always think of my Grandpa George during this time of year.  As a child, I always got just the right trinket from Grandpa George.  Unlike my Aunts, who gave me awkward, age-inappropriate gifts, and my maternal grandma who sometimes would remember, and sometimes even included a card and return address to tip us off who sent whatever it was–he always knew just what I wanted.  I had no idea until after he died that my parents were behind his gifts.  He always sent money, and if he didn’t (I still have no idea if he always remembered) my parents would buy something in his name.  Being so far away from family–that meant a lot to me, and sticks with me still today.

Hopefully, my writing will convey my true intent–I love my grandpa even though I knew there was something about him. . .  I don’t want to come across as spoiled, or hateful, or evil, but maybe this will.  That’s not my meaning at all though–just know that.

Laurel's pics 196

You probably remember every other summer we visited extended family in Montana, which included my only living Grandpa.  Instead of looking forward to this, I dreaded it, hated it, and feared it.  Then felt guilty for feeling those things.  There was something about my grandpa I found unsettling.  I’m not sure what it was exactly.  He was always kind, but sort of in his own world too.  Sometimes in the middle of a visit he would just resume his television show and be largely oblivious that we were still there.  He (and his various houses and apartments) smelled a little funny, and his hands shook.  I didn’t know what (if anything) was wrong, but even though there was family-love between us, I didn’t want to hang around him very long.  It still makes me feel terribly guilty.  But I was just a little kid, so cut me a little slack.

My grandpa never called me by my proper name.  I don’t think he had true dementia, but he always got my dad’s (his oldest son) identity wrong at first too.  Granted, he did not see us often.  When my Dad entered his house (room at the assisted-living in later years), Grandpa George would go through the list of his own brothers, then my uncle, before finally guessing my dad’s name.  Anyway, for whatever reason, Grandpa could never really get my name right either.  He would settle upon some L-name or other, usually Laurie, Laurel's pics 050never Laurel, my given name.  But despite this chronic mistake I never doubted his love or adoration.  My grandpa relished me, anyone could see that.  Despite getting my name wrong, I always knew he cared.  Still, to this day I do not get upset if people mis-label, mis-pronounce, or otherwise mistake my name.  I figure if my own grandpa couldn’t ever get it, and I couldn’t say it until I was three years old, it can’t be all that important to be a stickler over it.  It’s one of the few things I’m NOT a stickler about, funny enough.

A large part of the dread I felt was just not knowing.  I had heard snippets that my Grandpa had tried to enter the military, but was refused based on some or other mental issue.  The diagnosis was never made clear to me.  I also heard that he was made to cook for all the farm workers even as just a little guy, and his brothers (maybe his father too) beat him pretty badly on a regular basis.  The poor man had also been through the Laurel's pics 195horrors of shock therapy, which made him fearful for the rest of his life.  But back in those days you were just “crazy” so I don’t know what prompted this.

I heard that he was a big drinker, and my aunt tells stories of him taking her and her younger brother to the bar and making them sit outside on a bench (in cold Montana) while he would get wasted for hours.  And a few times my dad would go in with the intent of our family visiting my Grandpa, but he would be drinking, so we would leave, without me seeing him.  Also his hands shook.  He was incontinent for awhile, and later my grandpa was diagnosed with diabetes.  Again, I was never privy to his medical conditions, so instead of compassion, I felt weary towards him.  Today, I wish I had some diagnosis to attach to my Grandpa George.  I’m glad mental health has come so far from just “crazy” or “dirty secret” too.  I think with education comes understanding–and that unlocks many doors.  Not to mention gives a clearer picture of hereditary genetic conditions.  I find it very scary that some undiagnosed mental illness runs through my family, that I am susceptible to get.  But this post is not really about me–so that’s a topic for another day.

My memories, aside from the thoughtful gifts, are of visiting Grandpa in the summers.  He would immediately want a ride.  Usually we went to the store.  At that time, in that small Montana community, all the containers seemed to be made of glass.  I was always on edge while my grandpa’s trembling hands would reach out, knocking the glass ketchup bottles in proximity, to grasp one.  It made me very nervous and I worried he would topple all the bottles to the floor, spewing red ketchup everywhere.  Shopping with Grandpa was very nerve-wracking.

Once, my friend Crystal and I danced with Grandpa George at the home.  He was very happy when Laurel's pics 508he was dancing, and you could tell in his day he probably danced a lot.  Maybe my love of music comes from him, because I guess he was also very proficient at playing the accordion and was in a band for a time.

I also remember Grandpa telling my dad that he liked the retirement home, because “A women–she bathes me, Jim.”  Even old dudes still have testosterone I suppose.  Anyway, the comment still makes me laugh when I think of it.  I’m glad my Grandpa was well taken care of and happy at the end.

So Grandpa George, even though I didn’t know you well, and didn’t understand you–I love you.  I hope you’re having a happy holiday season in heaven 🙂

81 More Days

24 Apr

Until my birthday!  And it’s never too early to plan.

Yeah, I should totally be studying right now–instead of editing and posting this blog (I wrote it Sunday).  But I woke up felling really tired.  And I wanted to 1) avoid (just for a minute!) my school notes and 2) Wake up a little bit before trying to cram information in my head.

I don’t know how many birthdays I have celebrated in Montana.  birth-4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, almost 28–I guess almost half of them.  And the other half were probably at Lake Tahoe.  With a little Phoenix (3 years?) and Seattle in there.  And birthday in Montana is not really a THING.  We just visited extended family every other year when I was growing up.  And my mom got summers off, so that’s when we’d go.  And my birthday is in the middle of summer.  So there you have it.

THIS year, I used vacation days in addition to my day off and Independence Day holiday to get Tuesday July 3rd afternoon through Sunday July 8th off.  And Wanting to GO somewhere, but having limited funds, we are off to Montana for at least a part of that–depending on how much time off Cool can get.  Montana, because it’s cheaper then Seattle–and slightly closer.  Though we could have chosen The German, I suppose.  But that’s good for short trips since we would have to pay to stay the night there.

It’s too bad my parents can no longer come along to Montana.  That would have been perfect–stupid, expensive roof.  But maybe Uncle Howard and Aunt Linda can come.  Aunt Linda is a good-time girl.  Either way, Cool and I make our own fun.  And we will make sure to have directions and stuff ahead of time this year since cell phones apparently don’t work at all in the whole state.

I will stay with family (for free), go to pow wow (of course) and we want to go to Glacier National Park and a brewery–maybe the Tamarack?  It will be awesome.  I haven’t been to Glacier since I was little, and I don’t think Cool’s ever gone.  Bison Range was ah-mazing with Cool, and we got super pictures, so Glacier should be equally as awesome.  Maybe some of my Aunts and Uncles can even go. . .  And I’ve never been of-age to be able to go to a MT Brewery, and they looked really cute when we drove by last year.  And the Tamarack has an outdoor patio (which I love) with a fire pit and heaters–cause I’m always cold and bug-bit in MT.  And I always love pow wow–we’ll just go later in the day and earlier in the weekend this time.  Everyone was partied out and sold out by the time we got there last year.  So exciting birthday times WILL be had!

29–it sounds weird to say.  I feel like I’m still 27, because there is never a call to SAY aloud how old you are after about 24 years of age. . .  And because going to Elemental and eating like Frasier was the epitomy of all birthdays.  I guess in my mind I stopped growing older after that.  But this year is certain to me great in a different way.