Saturday, January 18, 2014

Family courier

Every time I announce a visit to my parents, I will get one or more lists of "encargos" - basically a wish list of things they want to bring with me. I live in the US and they don't, so they always want me to bring things that are hard for them to find, or ridiculously expensive if available. Over the years, that list has included a hodgepodge of items - from QTips to foot powder, kitchen gadgets, foods, clothes, water filtration systems, and very memorably, a pair of men's size 14 camouflage rain boots (memorable both because they were huge and ultimately never worn, and because when customs officials took a look at them and a matching jacket in my bag, warily and suspiciously asked if I was in the military.)

Sometimes the list of items is so long I have to bring 2 suitcases where I would normally take one. My father is a tall guy, and I've often been tasked with taking him clothes to refresh his wardrobe, since finding clothes his size can be a challenge. Let me tell you, 2 pairs of shoes for my father is basically a full suitcase. Throw in a few shirts and pants, and I definitely have to put anything I plan on wearing during my visit in a separate bag.

This past weekend I had to go shopping for the last few things on the latest wish list, and I was struck by how random the things I had to take with me was: basket-style coffee filters, men's underwear, a specific multivitamin, poultry seasoning, a DVD of a TV show's latest season, and a stand mixer bowl. Thankfully, the list is relatively short this time because family was just in the US visiting about a month ago.

Anyone who has family who lives in a different country knows all about having to serve as a mule -  I'm sorry, let's say courier instead. (Although don't couriers get paid for their services?) It's a fact of life when you have family living in different countries - you long for items that are hard to get.

My favorite courier story was actually the time I naively offered to make the wedding cake for one of my cousins. She was basically having a destination wedding, and thought the expense of a cake was ridiculous, so I offered to make one - you can't not have cake at a wedding!  She took me up on my offer - so I basically had to pack a mixer, bowls, pans, various kitchen gadgets and quite a few of the ingredients in my suitcase, then start panicking about how the hell I was going to do it. Many of us were all staying in the same apartment, and I remember everyone laughed when I opened my suitcase, since it was basically a change of clothes, baking supplies, and makeup. (I ended up serving as the bride's makeup artist too. I loved that part.) Thankfully, my uncle served as the other courier for this cake, since he hand carried some beautiful sugar flowers that really made my simple cake look somewhat matrimonial. The bride and groom liked the cake, so the combined efforts of two couriers coming from two different countries was a success.

The courier stories I remember less fondly usually involve non family members. Anyone else get saddled with a duffel bag full of letters from a group of American nuns living abroad that they requested you transport and mail from the 'states? Have you had to go on wild goose chases to 2 different states to track down that one extra special cake mold someone just had to have, and would be heartbroken if you couldn't find it? (You're a good courier, so you did in fact eventually find it.) No? Just me?

I'm with my family now, and I know they always appreciate my efforts as a courier, so it makes it all worth it when they give me a hug and say thanks.

Unless they are late picking me up from the airport. ;-)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose

This is my first post of 2014, so let me wish everyone a happy new year!

The past two years I gave myself the goal of seeing 52 new movies over the course of the year, which is all well and dandy until you start getting towards the end of the year, and time is running out, so you end up watching crap you originally had zero interest in seeing. So this year, I have given myself a new goal. I will still watch movies, because I love them. I will try to get through the backlog of hundreds of movies currently in my Netflix queue. But for the once a week average yearly goal, I'm going to try to be better about posting on this blog. So I've given myself the goal of posting something at least once a week. I enjoy talking about and sharing things I love, so let me sit down and actually write about them.

For this first post of the year, I've decided to write about my love of the TV show, Friday Night Lights. Maybe it's because I keep seeing commercials for Devil's Due, starring FNL alumnus Zach Gilford (a movie I probably won't see, because horror is not in my wheelhouse), maybe it's because several of the movies I enjoyed last year starred or featured FNL alumni (Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, The To Do List), maybe it's just because I came across some FNL posts on Tumblr. Whatever the reason, I hope that if you're reading this, you end up giving the show a chance. Or sharing what you love about it.

Friday Night Lights is one of my favorite television shows of all time. I own every season on DVD, often decide to do mini marathon viewing sessions, and will probably continue to refer to the actors from that show as their character names for years to come. I want to marry a man like Coach Taylor. I aspire to be as awesome as Tami Taylor, what with the constant great hair days and the fabulous advice (we already have a love of wine in common.) And Matt Saracen still breaks my heart.

It is a great mystery to me why so few of my friends have listened to me when I have recommended/pleaded/insisted they watch the show because it is awesome. I have to admit I was a bit slow to warm up to the show myself - I didn't tune in from week one. I thought it was a show about football, and that did not sound appealing to me, at all. (I'm not much into sports.) But a lot of the TV writers I love kept going on and on about how great it was, and somewhere in season one, I caught a mini marathon of the first couple of episodes. And from the first episode I watched, Matt Saracen broke my heart, and the Taylors warmed it,, I had to IMDB Tim Riggins because he stirred up some possibly inappropriate feelings....and phew, Taylor Kitsch (the actor who portrays that character) is well within the +/-10 age window. I quickly grew to care for these characters - as well as Smash, Landry, Tyra, Jason, and the rest. The show was about various people living in a small town in Texas, it just so happened that football was what brought them together.

Perhaps what I love most about the show, and there is much about it I love, is that the relationships felt real. The Taylors seemed like a real couple who argued and made mistakes but also loved and supported each other. Actions had consequences. Yes, championships were won - but games were also lost. The relationships on the show, like in real life, had ups and downs - they were lovely and messy. Season two had a big miss with a plot that felt like it belonged on a daytime soap instead of this fabulous show, but it also had some gems. Like a the scene between Tami Taylor and her older daughter Julie, where they have a talk after Julie's parents have discovered that she is having sex with her boyfriend - Matt Saracen, the boy who breaks my heart. It's a lovely little scene in which Tami gives a speech I wish every teen girl heard from her mother.

Anyway - if you haven't watched the show, I recommend it. You can watch all five seasons (4 of which are shorter, cable-style seasons) on Netflix. They are also airing the show on some sport channel I came across one day on accident, but I don't know which one. One of the ESPNs? NBCSports? Not sure...I don't have that cluster of channels memorized. (As I mentioned, I'm not into sports.)  And if you do, let me know if Matt Saracen breaks your heart too.