And the Oscar goes to ...

This weekend the laptop reached a critical mass and threatened to go on strike. So I spent some time figuring out how many pictures of Helen to keep. I lamented how many worthless TV episodes I bought in iTunes. And I especially considered the various applications that we never use to see if there was a way to free up some hard drive space.

I discovered we had 2 very large moviemaking programs. We have some basic programs that we've used to cobble together some clips of Helen or various vacations, but we've never used the fancy applications, ever. This laptop was a hand-me-down from my mother, who used the movie stuff frequently as a teaching tool for her consulting work. So we got the programs for free, and at the time, I was pretty thrilled about it. 

I'm also the proud owner of a fancy video camera that connects to the laptop for easy downloading.  So, I'll go ahead and confess:  at one time, I had dreamed of becoming a short filmmaker.

No, I don't mean that as opposed to a tall filmmaker.  


I grew up knowing I would work in accounting. It was one of those things that few kids know with certainty - except me. I'm one of those people who prefer to have a small selection of good choices rather than an uncertain plethora of everything. It's easier to make up my mind. So when I met a woman at my church who seemed to be the ultimate professional role model, and I found out she was an accountant, that was the person I wanted to be. At the time, I was 12.

You're allowed to be scared of me. I would have been, if I weren't already me.

For some reason, I never wavered from that path. Maybe because I'm boring or predictable, or a giant freak. After college, I became an accountant and spent over a decade working in my chosen profession. Each year, I went through the stress of putting together information for the company tax return, which is no mean feat given the regular workload that has to get done, too. So each March, it became my habit to take a decent vacation on my own, to treat myself for all the hard work and long hours.

One particular year was harder than the others. In February, my grandmother died unexpectedly. Our family was devastated by the news, and as we spent the next day making a plan of how to take care of her and her things, our family dog of 12 years was in the vet's office being assessed for a serious illness that turned out to be kidney failure. She was suffering tremendously, and the vet called that day to tell us it was time to make the painful decision. I will never forget the sight of my father on the phone with the vet, sobbing. With everything going on, we couldn't make it to the vet to say goodbye. It was horrible to lose so much of our family in such a short time, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

In my mind the timing is a little hazy, but I think it was only a week or so later that my mother ended up in the hospital with an emergency appendectomy. When it rains, it pours, I hear, and that month was a gusher. 

Oh, and of course, there was some work to be done. So by the time I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I planned a pretty fantastic vacation to get away from the grief and stress. I headed out of state to visit with a couple of college friends and made reservations at a nearby B&B for the weekend in a small town with a film festival that weekend. I knew they filmed Dawson's Creek in that town, so I figured it would be a fun time for me to wander around and see famous people. Or Pacey. I was okay with either one.

But it wasn't that kind of film festival. I discovered it was a fledgling event, created in response to the movie industry's growing interest in their town, and it definitely encouraged local folks to get in the act, but famous people? Not so much.

I carefully perused the schedule and selected a variety of films to see. One of the sessions was a showing of short films at a very old, small theater downtown. One of the short films was a 12-minute documentary of a guy walking around a giant field in North Dakota, where one of those buried nuclear missiles from the Cold War used to reside. The missile silo was no longer occupied by either soldiers or nuclear material, and I think he interviewed some locals about living so close to something that threatening, and now it was just a field with a concrete slab in the middle. He created tension and humor in a short time, and I remember thinking, "I COULD TOTALLY DO THAT."

Suddenly, in my head, I had a career as a amateur filmmaker, creating a short film that I could shop around to various festivals, traveling the country until I had gained some notoriety. Eventually I'd be nominated for an Oscar. In my acceptance speech, I would carefully thank Pacey for guiding me to the film festival where I got my start.


So this weekend, as I found myself dragging those movie applications to the trash bin on my laptop to make room for more pictures of Helen, I realized that I have a long way to go before I'm up at that podium. I also have someone else to thank - my husband, who bought me my first video camera. Now, if I could just get some blank tapes, ones that don't get filled up with our vacation footage or clips of Helen doing goofy stuff, I could figure out what might be a good short film subject. Suggestions are welcome.


Happy New Year, a little late

This year we decided to put up our first Christmas tree together. I had always done a tree in my single days, but once I started dating Brian, we spent so much time traveling to see each other, it didn't make a lot of sense to have a tree in either of our places. When we combined homes, we didn't have room for a tree. And then in the new house - well, Helen would have field-stripped a tree in about 20 seconds. So this year was the first time we both looked at each other and said, "Yeah, we ought to do this."

I dragged out two big boxes of decorations that I'd kept for this moment, and Brian came home with a bargain tree & stand from Home Depot. (Folks, that place has giant, fresh trees for a steal compared to the average tree lot. Check it out next year if you get a chance.) Once Brian made it through the traditional light cursing ceremony, we started with the ornaments, and I soon learned how hard it would be to get Helen to stay on track with this project. I'd put up an ornament, and she'd take it down to look at it. She didn't quite have the hang of putting them back, so as soon as I could decorate, the tree was getting undecorated.

Finally I made some headway, and we spent a couple of weeks letting Helen plug in the lights at night. She really enjoyed having it and talked about it all the time. Brian & I both patted each other on the back for making the holiday so special for her this year.

But there's something about the day after Christmas makes a tree instantly obsolete. We came home from our nice holiday with family to see this rapidly drying tree in our living room, and the only thing I could think of was the work involved in taking it down. Let's leave it up a little longer, I pleaded, hoping to get to a weekend where I could take care of that giant chore. Thinking of the path of needles everywhere in the house as we dragged it out to the car and then cleaning out the car - it was just too exhausting to consider tackling on a weeknight.

Of course, the weekend arrived, and we just played lazy the whole time, so then it's another week with a tree in the house that just reminds me it's not Christmas anymore, and there's work ahead of us to make it all disappear.

So imagine my surprise when I got home the other night, and the living room was spotless. No tree, no needles, and the whole place looked like a million bucks. I was overjoyed to learn Brian had taken the afternoon to get it done. It was literally breathtaking to have all of that work mentally checked off as we moved into the New Year, and at that moment, I was so proud to be married to him.

Helen turned, looked at me, and said, "Santa take tree away?"