Trying Out: The Long Catnap (Week 25b)

Trying Out: Putting Mylar Down (Week Twenty-Five-b)

This was hardly something I wanted on my to-do list.  It was certainly on my, “I do not feel like doing this” list.  But darn it, she was ready to check out.

There were puddles of urine.  There was perpetual lethargy.  There was a cat so worn out by life , no matter how many fluids I gave her.  Mylar did not move a lot in her last few weeks.  The two photos here were taken on Tuesday.  I called out sick, told them that something had come up, had a family emergency, and could not get there.

IMG_2217 (893x1024)(Some higher-ups argue that a cat does not count as a death in the family.  Some higher-ups have not lived with a cat that was loyal to them for over seventeen years.  Some higher-ups do not need to know details and can, if they press further, bite me.)

Honestly, she could have called it quits before.  It was almost two years to the day when she had her last episode and spent four days in an emergency vet.  Mylar gave me two more years of friendship.  Two more years to say good-bye.  Two more years to relish in her companionship.

I spent thirty-six hours watching over her.  I kept wondering if that was going to be the day that I let her check out.  But she started to improve.  She would eat and hop up on the couch with me.  She lacked vim and vigor, yet she held up pretty well for an eighteen year old.  (With something like one hundred and twenty-six in people years?  She held up just fine.)

Wednesday she was eating some and I let her be.  Thursday she declined to eat.  I kept giving her fluids.  She never fully rebounded from our mutual day off.

Friday, when I came home from work, I knew.  She would flop into whatever position I put her in and lay there.  Her default spot was the litter box.  Granules stuck in her already-sunken eyes and around her nose.  We had paid the vet a visit on Tuesday.  It had been a wait-and-see visit.  Well, I waited.  And I saw.  And we went back to the vet on Friday.

I told myself, and her, that she was not going to die alone.  Mylar had been there for all the hard times in my life.  The least I could do was stay with her for as long as I could.

The vet was kind enough to help us out between patients.  They had a towel laid out on the counter.  It was a practical reminder that death can be hard and messy, in more ways than one.  I laid her down, and she slowly blinked.  The vet came in and injected a sedative.  He said it would take about three to five minutes, so I took her back and hugged her in my arms.

I sat down in the chair, letting her head rest against my chest.  I hugged her as my hand lightly petted her head.  At least a few times I told her the same thing I always did when she was stressed or sick or tired.  “It’s okay.  It’s okay.”

I wish her eyes would have fully closed when the sedative kicked in.  There would have been some permanence to it.  A notion of, “I am checked out”, would have helped.  Death is apparently not out to be convenient.  So I simply take comfort in knowing that whatever consciousness she had at the end was spent with me.  (No sidekick gets left behind.  Ever.)

IMG_2219 (800x630)The vet returned, injected the final drug, and he felt her vein for her pulse.  A minute or two later and she was gone.

I took her in my arms a last time.  How can you not hug your best friend good-bye?  Even then, I could feel how lightweight she had become.  There was no resistance.  As I set her down back on the counter, she felt more like a pelt than a pet.  I felt like a trapper, laying a furry product out for inspection.

They offered to cremate her privately.  I chose the public/ do-not-return option.  I had my cat.  I have photos of her.  I have memories that take up half a lifetime.  I do not need some fancy jar sitting around my apartment to remind me of that.

There were tears during the process.  There were tears in the car.  There were tears at home.  Weeks later, I still do not feel that I cried enough.  I guess that those two years we had at the end helped me.  I knew it was coming.  That softened the blow.  The little bleed-valve on my heart let out a little bit of grief each day.

Weeks later, I still miss Mylar.  I could not have loved her any more than I did.  We did not do everything perfect, but we did it our way.  I would not have traded any of it.

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Trying Out: Acupuncture (Week 25)

Trying Out: Getting Poked by Dozens of Tiny Needles (Week Twenty-Five)

I was raised in a rather meat and potatoes world.  You want to be healthy?  Go for a run.  Want muscles?  Do push-ups and sit-ups.  Brush your teeth.  That is it.  The end.  Health will follow.

In high school and college, the importance of deep breathing was introduced to me, mostly through theatre.  There was at least one year before all that where I was essentially popping Advil every day.  Oh, to be a teenager.

It was not until after college that I ever heard the word “holistic”.  “Herbal” was something I associated with marijuana and hippies.  I might go to my doctor for a check-up, but only when my work-provided insurance company required it.

Thus, I was one of the last people who would seek out acupuncture.  Whatever fear of needles I ever had was drained out of me after years of giving blood.  And an elderly man at church would sigh and tell how wonderful it felt after his last acupuncture appointment.  So, in the interest of doing something I had always thought was mysterious and possibly bloody, I gave it a shot.

Like most of my “Trying Out” activities, I approached in the wisest manner possible.  I typed a few words into a search engine and I looked at the top results.   One place offered me a twenty-one dollar initial appointment.  They had nice things said about them.  I was a bit leery because they were located right in the heart of downtown Seattle.  (See also:  Pricey.  They have to pay rent somehow.)  Still, it was close to my bus stop so I gave them a call.

Before I go any further, I should comment that the staff was remarkable.  Everyone I encountered was friendly, helpful, and pleasant.  When the boss encountered other patients, he would treat them as old friends; shaking their hands, meeting relatives, and examining scars from recent surgeries.  Highest marks were given to the staff.

But yeah.  There were some hippy/Eastern Medicine feelings going on.  They had clothes draped over each and every florescent light.  They were like little linens parachuting towards me, upside down.  There was bamboo leaning against the wall behind the chairs in the waiting room.  (One could tell that sometimes the bamboo acted out.  There were obvious scuffs and discoloration on the walls.)

The desk was surrounded by fake bamboo paneling.  Herbs and supplements were offered by the shelf-full.  There were posters and brochures explaining and proclaiming the virtues of Whole Body Vibration, Repetitive Cervical Correction, and Chinese Herbal Medicine.

Then there was the music.

It was exactly what I expected to be.  One would think there was someone, sitting out in the woods, near a quiet stream that was fed by a trickling waterfall, surrounded by smooth stones, with a bird perched on their knee, as they played quiet chords on their flute.  It drove me nuts.  I do not relax to breathy, wispy, ephemeral music.  I relax to silence.  Give me a quiet room and I am a fine.  I do not need faux-environments to transport me to my happy place.  However, I realize that some people do.  Perhaps others find the tunes to be healing.  I tend to feel that we all buy into the studio-produced woodsy music.  To each their own.

Oh, and the sweaters.  I cannot believe I almost forgot the sweaters.  Based entirely on my uninformed observations, it seemed like the frontline staff had a dress code.  That uniform was made up of loosely-fitting, light-density, wool sweaters.  The boss did not wear any, but the boss often put themselves above dress code.  (The perks of being boss.)  The acupuncturist did not wear any, but maybe they were too easy to get caught on needles?  Regardless, three women at work were wearing the same sweater-apparel.

The woman I spent the most time with had some rather nice features; including nice shoulders.  I could tell, because the sweater kept slipping down her arms and every five minutes she was absentmindedly have to pull up back up.  What it lacked in functionality and practicality it more than made up for in subtle humor and people watching.  Amusing work conditions aside, she was tremendous.  She spent about an hour going over all the paperwork.

deepworkAh yes, the paperwork.  Before I even saw a member on staff, I faced down the paperwork.  I figured, ancient medical technology; how much paperwork could there be just to be a few treatments.  Seven pages.  Seven, medical insurance, over-descriptive, symptom-questioning pages.  I almost gave up when they e-mailed the file to me.  However, it did save me half an hour of forms in their waiting room, so I did appreciate the advance homework.  It has to be said though.  Seven.  Pages.

Happily, my medical history is boring.  My knees hurt from years of jogging.  My neck has lots of muscles because when I have a difficult time, I clench my jaw.  Just like every other person in the workforce, I could probably use a back and shoulder massage.  That was it.  Despite their numerous questions on the forms, my poop, sexual performance, and breathing are all just fine.  Really?  Poop?

Despite my diligence with my assignment, the woman with the constantly sliding sweater went over all the questions with me.  She was thorough.  She was informative.  She knew all about the different procedures they had to offer but was content to start me off with acupuncture; that was her sole focus unless pressed for more information.  Despite my skepticism, at no point was I asked to stand on one leg, chant, and shove a root up my nose.

No needles were ever seen on the first appointment.  (Only after being there for an hour did they ask if I had any fear of needles.  Ah, timing.)  The woman suggested that I keep the first few appointments close together so that my body would not have time to forget what the needles were trying to do.  And that is an important point (unintentional pun) which I will go into later.

Next Monday I went in.  My insurance paid for twenty percent of the visit.  I paid for the rest.  I went into a room, took off my shoes and socks, and lay down on their bed.  The bed was electronically heated.  I dislike electric blankets.  I loathe heated-seats in cars.  But I could see how it would be helpful in winter months.  And they were the professionals, not me, so I kept quiet.

The acupuncturist came in and kindly informed me that I was laying the wrong side down.  Apparently massages and acupunctures are not the same thing.  Gads!  So I obligingly rolled over and faced up towards the ceiling.

My understanding is that I underwent distal acupuncture.  Apparently the knees are controlled by the elbows.  Picture everything as diagonal.  Legs equal wrists.  Do not quote me on your medical exams.  That is how I think it works.  More importantly for some, the needles were tiny.  As in, she had to pick them up in magazines of ten or twenty.  Those puppies were smaller than sewing needles (they were closer in width to thread).  And at no point did I see any blood.

She put about a half dozen needles in each limb, tapping them ever so gently.  Yeah, there was a sensation.  Someone was forcing a sharp implement into pristine skin.  Did it hurt?  Not really.  I compared it to getting stitches when the skin is numb.  You can feel them messing around, but you are never in agony.  Again, no blood.  (However she did dispose of the used needles in a biohazard box.  No human tissue lying around.)

Needles in place, she asked if I was okay, turned off the lights, and told me to, “Enjoy your nap”.  …  Really?  Lying there, pieces of metal protruding from much of my body; you think I will fall asleep?  Oh, and yes, let us not forget the omnipresent music.  I never actually heard a whale call, but I am sure it bellowed after I left.  When I take a nap, I curl up into the fetal position.  She just told me not to move.  Yet she also told me to enjoy.  Kind of a conflict; or so I would offer.  No moving around, but relax.  No getting up, but relax.  No way to turn off the music, but relax.

I get it.  It is part of the process.  Had there been no music, it would have been easier.  Us Quakers do well with being still and silent.  (We just need there to be silence.)  However I was not in pain.  Nobody was popping in and bothering me.  They simply let me lie there and be for thirty minutes.

When time was up, she pulled the needles out, asked how I was, and sent me on my way.

I came back two days later and went through the needle-fun again.  Once more the week after.  Before each session, the boss would check on me and see how I was doing.

I did, in fact, feel a difference.  My knees are less talkative than they once were.  Oh, my knees still crack and pop.  I still clench my jaw.  But running was much kinder the Sunday after.  I could feel an increase of blood flow to my cheeks and my knees.  So it really did work.

The conflict I had revolved around the time and financial commitment.  Remember when we talked about scheduling all the appointments close together?  The boss wanted to do three months of appointments.  And he wanted me to come in twice a week, every week, for those three months.  With, I am assuming, weekly or every-other-week appointments after that.

Now, my insurance is nice.  It allows me acupuncture, “as long as medically necessary”.  I can go as long as I please.  However, I do not have an extra six hundred dollars a month to invest.  I live a simple life and that is expensive enough.  Finding two thousand dollars to cover three months’ worth of poking that I do not technically need?  Nope.

Again, they were all quite nice and the treatments do seem to work.  I would like to undergo less pain.  However the finances do not line up for me.  It is like poor people that cannot afford to eat anything except cheap junk food.  You want to address the problem and be healthier, but there is no easy way to do so.

Perhaps my body will be in enough pain that I will have to revisit the process one day.  (It really did work.  I would make time to continue if I could afford it.)  However, I am not suffering terribly.  I rated my neck and shoulders as twos and my knees as fours.  They are pains that I can manage on my own.   When it comes to acupuncture, it is the cost that truly hits a nerve.

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Trying Out: TV Studio (Week 24)

Trying Out: Touring a TV Studio (Week Twenty-Four)

If I have learned anything from Brad Meltzer novels, it is that people like to talk about their lives.  If they have a job that allows them to share little behind-the-scenes moments, then so much the better.

I have a degree in Mass Media.  I know someone who works at a TV studio.  So you can see what I asked her to help me with.

IMG_20170613_124639_hdr (874x1024)I think what quickly hit me was how woefully unprepared I would be to work in such a field.  Even while I was in college, I knew that there with other universities with a much greater program than the one I was attending.  Whatever advanced training we were going to get would have to be through internships.  And I was far too timid (and lazy) to try for one of those.

Everything is computerized.  Everything.  Recently the TV channel was bought by a larger company (as are most channels these days), so it all gets shared by the head corporation.

They have a main control room.  That room keeps watch over the thirty-nine different channels that the companies sends out during the day.  This is in addition to a floor filled with cubicles.

IMG_20170613_125931_hdr (547x800)The main staff are split up into groups.  The place is littered with half-cubicles; walls reaching over three feet high are there for structural reasons only.  As I toured, I was well aware of the forty or so people that could watch my every move.  I want to believe that they were too busy fielding phone calls and working on the radio station that is housed in the same building.

What surprised me were the number of people with earbuds in.  Apparently there are people whose entire job is to listen to news broadcasts all day.  (I assume they would have to stay alert and listen for anything they thought was worth reporting.)  That would torture me.  I have a hard enough time keeping up with the news for five minutes a day.  To do that for eight hours, five days a week?  Can you imagine how many times they hear the same news story day after day?

Everything is automatic.  Except, apparently, the TV screens behind the anchors.  I watched as someone came into the studio before a broadcast and had to use the same remote to turn on a four by four (three by four?) TV grid one by one.  And, as we all know, there is always that one pesky piece of equipment that will not turn on the first time.  😉

IMG_20170613_124919_hdr (1024x772)An entirely automated world.  Digital this, rebroadcast that, pre-programmed.  It was interesting to check in on, but my old-fashioned dreams of being a radio broadcaster are much preferred to the reality of working in this world.  Though, sad to say, I think much of that is all electronic too.

What’s an analog guy to do?

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Trying Out: Psychologist Visit (Week 23)

Trying Out: Psychology/ Therapy (Week Twenty-Three)

I cannot visit parks and museums every week.  I have to do some things that scare me.

In my view of society, going to see a psychologist, psychiatrist, or just plain getting your head shrunk is met with a raised eyebrow.  “How screwed up are you that you need to talk to someone?  Don’t you have friends for that?  Can’t you handle your own problems?”

If you suffer a physical injury, it is expected that you go through several weeks of therapy afterwards.  But if you lose a loved one or go through a crisis?  I do not feel that the same level of help is allowed by those around us.  Why is the inside not given the TLC that the outside demands?

Sometimes that is the initial reaction that I have had.  Deal with your own problems.  Use the circle of friends.  Cowboy-up.  And yes, if I was I in a dire emergency, I would call upon my friends and they would rally to the cause.  However, nobody’s life is perfect.  Everyone can use a sounding board.  Hey, if the highly successful writer of Batman comics can come out as being depressed, surely there are more folks in need of help.

My friends, who have more on their plates than I do, have heard most of my venting before.  I know someone who works in the field.  She offered this test; suggesting that those that score a five or higher should seek help.  I did not score all that high, but I thought I would see what there was to see.

All I know of psychologists is second-hand.  I only know that psychologists go without prescribing drugs while psychiatrists can.  (Medical school is required for the latter.)  I know friends that have used it after losing a parent, being abused, or simply because they are in the field and find it helpful.

Then there is the third (Fourth? Fifth?)-hand knowledge.  You know, because everything portrayed on the television screen is filled with accuracy and nothing else.  I am from the northwest, so I have seen my fair share of Frasier episodes.  I had no illusions that my therapist would be cute and fall madly in love with me as in 50/50In Treatment seemed like it was more or less true to life; at least the setting and the process aspects.  I think sitting in a room and tapping your fingers for sixty-minutes would be a fun little power play, but unlike Good Will Hunting, I was the one footing the bill.

How does one find a therapist?  I suppose you could ask your friends.  Again, there is that social stigma.  So why not call upon the great and mighty internet?  I was a little skeptical about the discerning powers of a search engine.  However I soon came across a site call Psychology Today.  There, by entering my area, I was offered a list of psychologists, a photo of them, and a brief statement from them.

I chose the psychologist the way I choose an elected representative.  First I found one that served my area.  Then, I looked at their picture.  (I tend to spill my guts to females, so that part was easy.)  Anyone that looked serious or non-wacky moved to the top of my list.  (This is truer for the election method than the therapist method.  I eliminate half my voting options by crossing out crazy-eyed candidates.)  The one I chose was an older lady, seemed kind, and had a statement that focused on hope.  I made sure she was not solely devoted to a certain field (no life trauma here, and marriage counseling will not fit me), and sent her a little note.

Within the day, she had responded to me and asked when we could meet up. Within the week, I found myself inside her brick building.  It must be nice to only work two days…

The psychologist’s office was in a typical multi-use building.  I have passed it several times in the past and never really gave it much thought.  I let myself in the main door and took in the lobby.  Several minutes later, she walked down the hallway, called my name, and we walked back to her office.

I swear that the layout of the office is its own little brain-test.  Where does one sit?  Oh sure, if you are in couple’s therapy you should both sit on the couch that is a little inside and to the right.  It takes up most of the wall.  It is big enough that there is room for both participants and a little room in between.  However it was just me.  So I could sit in the little chair that was just around the corner, taking up the space between the door and the couch.  I could walk to the first chair I saw, a big red leather monstrosity that could hold someone twice my size.  Or I could try to make a joke and sit at the wood chair that was parked in the window-facing desk.  So many options; it had to be a test.

I’m not neurotic!  You’re neurotic!

😉

I took the “decisive” option.  I walked straight through the room and sat on the big red chair.  I was tempted to recline on the couch, but I am not that clichéd.  The room was pleasant, without being great.  There were fluorescent lights.  A bookshelf held a few tomes.  And, perhaps to ensure her down-to-earth nature, the ceiling tile above me had a water-stain.  No computer at the desk.  No human skulls labelling the different parts of the brain.  No tables where they strap you down and hammer nails into the “defective” areas of your skull.  So far, clear sailing.

She asked me what I wanted to get out of the session.  She offered me the option of having a meet and greet, or trying to have a first appointment.  We went more the meet and greet option and I listed off two areas of my life that I would like to change a bit.

If your life is absolutely perfect, congratulations.  I find myself without any major crises and am pretty thankful for that.  Yet I do have a thing or two that I would like to see go differently.  What areas?  Heh.  No.  Sorry.

I like for others to do most of the talking.  I study and critique as conversations progress.  Happily, she understood that and described her approach, her methods, and how she tended to proceed in situations such as mine.  I answered a few questions.  Expanded where I thought would be helpful.  Over the course of the forty-five minutes, I fed her a little more and a little more.

I can see where people feel this is helpful.  There was a point towards the end where I felt things coming to the surface.  If I had let them, I could have seen a floodgate or two opening.  As we wrapped up, I could tell that I was getting a little emotionally raw.  She suggested a book and an activity that I could look in to.  (The book seemed like a stretch and nothing something I am in a hurry to add to my mammoth reading-list.  The activity was a pretty reasonable idea.)

therapy-clipart-di7rjr5i9.jpegIn the end, I did not feel a need to schedule a weekly visit.  From my initial interaction, I felt like she was encouraging me to dig deep inside myself and try to discover things about me.  Now, realizing that this may be hubris, I happen to think that I know me pretty dang well.  I feel, most days, that I know who I am and what I am capable of.  I have been in my head long enough.  If I were to continue to see this psychologist, I would want more direction.  Less, “What are your thoughts on this” and more, “Do this.”  Try to direct me, not coax questions out of me.  I know what I want different.  I know why I want it different.

If I were to decide that I wanted a sounding board, that psychology therapy was for me, then I think the woman I chose would do just fine.  I had no complaints, she was nice enough not to charge for our introductory visit, and I felt she was rather capable.  It was nice to get a few things out of my system.  In the end though, I would rather spend time out in life, making the changes, then sit down talking about what steps I should make to see changes.  More actions, less committee meetings.

If you have not tried it, it does not hurt.  I get the impression that it is a good way to transition from where you are to where you want to be next.  For myself, I think I will be content with my current state of being.  And I have made the initial contact.  No Kelsey Grammer call-in shows for me.  Should my life go horribly awry in the future, I know who to talk to.

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Trying Out: Burke Museum (Week 22)

IMG_20170531_123734_hdr (514x800)Burke Museum (Week Twenty-Two)

Not that long ago I visited the Henry Art Gallery because it was about two blocks closer than the Burke.  Well, time to pay the piper.

I had heard of the Burke Museum but was never entirely sure what it contained.  It was a single building on campus filled with dozens of buildings.  In a place where libraries span several stories and this museum was made up of two, I was not expecting too much.

The first floor met those expectations.  Again, there seems to be a second-person narrative to local exhibits.  “Pacific Voices” tried to tell the story of all the people that had made their way to the area.  They started with the Native Americans and tried to encompass everyone that had moved to the region, and their culture.  It was quite the potpourri of people.

We are Peloponnese.  We are Chinese.  We are Europeans.  I get it.  We come from all over.  If it is adjacent to water, odds are folks traveled across and ended up here.  Native American artifacts were allotted the most room, but they tried to cram a dozen different worlds into one floor.  It was like a sampler’s platter.  A little from here, a display from there, with a dash of this place too.

My personal opinion is that I come to a museum for history.  To me, history means old.  So when the vast majority of artifacts are created within my lifetime, I remain underwhelmed.  It felt like the display was created in the early two-thousands and that is why so many “relics” were from nineteen ninety-seven or later.  There was an item here from eighteen hundred and an object there from early nineteen hundreds.  I could see all the cultures, but I did not get a sense of history.

The entrance is on the second floor, so I made my way back up there.  When I had entered, I did not see anything that blew my mind.  “Life and Times of Washington State” was waiting for me.  That sounded an awful lot like “Pacific Voices”.  I thought I was in for a second serving of the “eh” display I had seen downstairs.

However, as I turned the corner, I was met with a display case full of fossils.  They actually dug deep (pun intended) and retrieved these sea creatures from millennium ago.  Finally, something with some history to it.  I heard kids chattering and running around in the next room.  I did not give it too much weight until I turned the corner.  Then, my history-buff was rewarded.

Dinosaurs.

YES.

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Do you think this sea creature chased its own tail for hours on end? ’cause I do.

Now we were firing on all cylinders.  Displays of sabre-tooth tigers.  Mastodons and woolly mammoths  towering above me.  Sea creatures.  Ancient crystals.  Stegosaurus and Compies close enough to touch.  Aaaah.  Bliss.

I thought I was over dinosaurs.  I liked them as a kid.  I never got the encyclopedia or memorized all the names, but I did okay.  I had a few of those skeleton kits that you built after you sanded down each piece.

IMG_20170531_122457_hdr (800x456)

Giant beaver mates with giant squirrel?

Apparently I still like seeing things bigger than me.  I like being surrounded by a world that was wiped out before my ancestors came about.  History, animals, and worlds that I cannot visit; this was what I wanted a museum to be.  I may have even come to this exhibit with my elementary.  I do not know.  (Both floors are permanent exhibits.  A new Burke Museum is being constructed on campus.  I assume they will change/ add a few exhibits for that.  Hopefully they will not change the dinosaurs.  Unless “change” means, “feature lots more”.)

IMG_20170531_122341_hdr (456x800)

This guy scared the -crap- out of me. I turn the corner, and there he was, ready to smash down on me. Lurking above, towering, I almost jumped. Effective placement, or a potential lawsuit? And that’s just a pile of dead bones.

The kids ran around.  I stood and smiled.  That is my kind of museum experience.  Well played, dinosaurs.

IMG_20170531_122614_hdr (800x456)

Let’s all just accept that there is supposed to be a display here. No signs, but a bare open space? And every other pile of bones had a picture of an animal behind it? I see you, missing fossils! I see right through your non-existence!

Sometimes it is best to visit a place with no idea what is in store.  Then the things that do not speak to you can be a precursor to something that puts a smile on your face and makes the kid and you do a little dance.  Plus, an unexpected display might just scare the crap out of you.

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Trying Out: Trails and Taco Trucks (Week 21)

Blyth Park and a Taco Truck (Week Twenty-One)

I live right next door to a rather major trail.  There is what looks like a tiny park off to the side, but I always pass it as I am walking home from the comic shop.  Well, I finally popped in.

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Blyth Park is not meant to be big and fancy.  That field there?  The playground?  That is the heart of it.  However, it is rather close to the water.  There is a string of power lines towering through a valley.  So you can get yourself a pleasant little twenty minute stroll.  Maybe let the kids run crazy while you sit and rest for a bit.  But exciting?  Momentous?  Not hardly.  A nice enough corner park, and bigger than I expected.

My only real complaint for this humble setting was that the trail was a joke.  It was not maintained at all.  You feel like it is leading you somewhere, and you end up in a pile of bushes.  I do not know if there is an extensive trail network hiding out there, or only meager strips of dirt that dead-end with no reason.  Hiking is not happening here.  Meager strolls only.

 

The next day, I found myself at the opposite end of the same park.  I was dropped off about two miles from my place and I felt like a walk.  Low and behold, I walked past a taco truck.

food.truck.10

Now, I had this fear of food trucks.  I was convinced that they were going to give me food poisoning.  This was in no way based on any occurrences in my life or any statistics.  It was just what I thought would happen.

Eat from a food truck, throw up.  Simple, elegant, but without any truth.

I can say this because my coffee shop is under construction.  We are not allowed to operate from our store.  So where are we?  That’s right.  In a food truck.  (Technically, it is a trailer, but it has wheels, darnit.  Close enough.)

This food truck I visited by the trail was perfectly clean.  The guy inside seemed friendly enough for a person I only saw briefly.  He sold me two tacos for $4.  I can handle that kind of pricing.

The tacos were rather tasty.  Granted, they were both rather petit.  They easily fit in the palm of my hand.  They were, to put it gently, “precious” in size.  They never got me sick.  They went down easy.  I even sucked a little extra juice out of the limes.

Turns out, Jon Favreau was not leading me astray with his charming movie.  Phew.

A quaint park and a quality snack.  Not too shabby for one trail.  I won’t be rushing back to either of the two places, but I still enjoyed it.

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Filled with Wonderment

I like female characters in comics.  Probably because I like female characters in life.  There are plenty of males trotting, flying, and strutting around to keep the reader happy.  Bring on the ladies.

I think Invisible Woman is the strongest member of the Fantastic Four.  She keeps the kids grounded, her distant husband focused on what is really important, and her two teammates from killing each other.  I think the ability to keep a team from getting at each other’s throats for over fifty years is pretty remarkable.

I think some of the most interesting parts of Superman are the ones that he spends with Lois Lane.  Even back in the forties, this gal was no shrinking yes-woman.  She was raised on military bases, has been to warzones, and yet still manages to have a kind side to her.  Some fans have complained that the recent Superwoman comic suggested it would give Lois her own book again (she had one before, but even then she had Superman’s name over hers).  Personally, I like her as she is.  Would I support a book that was just her?  Sure.  But over in Action Comics you can see her be the strong reporter that she has always been.  In Superman you can see her as Clark’s anchor, the domestic champion, and the great mother to her son.  This is a woman who gets herself into trouble, not expecting Superman to save her.  They had a bump in their relationship when she thought he was hovering too much.  She can take care of herself.  More than many supporting females, Lois is not simply some foil to be rescued.

And Barbara Gordon?  Please.  She has the background of a police officer.  She has the research skills of a librarian.  No two ways about it, she is one of the smartest people in the DC Universe.  Why else would Nightwing, the most desirable bachelor in all of DC, keep coming back to her?  Sure she makes a quality crime-fighter in her Batgirl glory.  Yet I like her better as Oracle.  Her research skills were so legendary that heroes would go around looking for her information.  One of my favorite short stories is Showcase ’94 #12.  In it, we see how capable a woman in a wheelchair can be.  Babs may have been inspired by Batman.  Yet she certainly does not linger under his shadow as much as some think.

So yeah.  I like the heroines.  Especially on screen.  A scene I delighted in from the penultimate episode of Supergirl this season had Teri Hatcher (formerly Lois Lane), Melissa Benoist (currently Supergirl, and Linda Carter (formerly Wonder Woman), all in one scene together.  And then they had to muck it up by having Calista Flockhart save the day.  Sigh.  Really?  All those famous women and we depend on Ally McBeal?  Oh well, at least an amusing little television blurb came from it.

Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange; they are all, more or less, the same movie.  Come on folks, a little variety please.

Enter Wonder Woman.  Now, I am not a strong fan of Wonder Woman.  I have one t-shirt with her one it, and that is a group shot of the Justice League.  I do not understand her methodology.  She fights for peace?  She is a warrior who bring about love by killing people?  Much more so than Superman or Batman, Wonder Woman is a warrior.  A killer.  She has a sharp sword and she uses it.  She is no blood-thirsty Punisher.  She has more in common with Captain America.  Both had movies and origins based around world wars.  Both are soldiers, willing to sacrifice a bit of themselves if it means the conflict will end sooner.

Oddly enough, it is the DC movie set during World War I that is the most light-hearted.  The last two Superman flicks?  Bleh.  Filled me with dread.  Grey tones, brooding heroes, all is dark.  Even with the grey setting of a country ravaged by war, Wonder Woman offered more hope.  It showcased what a beacon of hope she was.  Mock the costume if you like.  She and her bright colors really stood out against the dismal setting.

Wonder Woman was not our typical superhero fanfare.  I maintain that it is a war story that happens to feature a super-fight towards the end.  It owes more to Saving Private Ryan than it does to The Avengers.  It takes a person from an outside setting, who happens to be female, and shows them trying to make sense of the things we do to each other during war.  I do not know if she ever really comes to terms with all the madness we inflict upon each other.  For a blockbuster film, that is a pretty admirable storyline to chase after.

As to the female-only screenings of Wonder Woman?  Guys getting upset that such gender-exclusion is biased?  Y’know what?  It probably was sexist.  In this instance, maybe that was okay.  A group of females want to celebrate a female standing strong in the world of men.  And they want to take a break from men while doing that.  If they started a whole civilization, moved to an island, called it Themyscira, then I might get my feelings a little hurt.  Going to a movie that some of these women have waited all their lives for?  I can live with that.  Comic shops and movie crowds have been male-dominated for long enough.  Let the ladies have their fun.  If it means the women can feel empowered while watching a quality movie (as opposed to, say, Catwoman), I can wait for the next screening.

I mean, the worst case scenario is that a well-made movie will stay in theaters longer, make more money, and encourage folks to make more movies that are high-quality and not male-centered.  What a tragedy that would be.

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