Monday, June 22, 2009

The Pleasures of a Coca-Cola Glass

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to McDonald's in Valencia before heading out to Venice Beach and then Santa Monica. It was a visit that nearly followed a day trip to Disneyland with the graduated 8th graders at my dad's middle school, and not too long after Venice Beach and Santa Monica, we would go to Universal CityWalk to celebrate my sister's graduation from College of the Canyons, since the school snobbishly does not let people attend who are only earning certificates, as my sister was in culinary arts.

Walking to the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier, I told my sister that it felt like we were tourists again. Disneyland previously, Santa Monica then, and I suggested that all we needed to do was visit Hollywood, go on one of those guided, driven tours of the area, possibly go to Universal Studios Hollywood and then fly back home. It's one of the quirks of California: You can live in the state, in one of its many regions, but you're always a tourist somewhere in the state. It was true of San Francisco when we were there (or at least when I was there with the family, because there was one time I couldn't go due to working diligently and ultimately uselessly for The Signal), and it was also true when we went to Universal CityWalk because it had been four years since we were last there.

Anyway, the Coca-Cola glasses at McDonald's.

An extra-large Value Meal gets you a Coca-Cola Collectible glass. I go for the extra-large meal anyway because I like the fries and a bigger Coca-Cola is always good. So I got a Coca-Cola glass. My sister got the purple one and I got the green one, which looked like blue when the manager took it out from under the counter. My sister still claims that it looks blue, but a photo of the glasses in a row shows that I clearly did not get the blue one. Not a major meltdown type of event because I see enough variations of blue every day. The menu bar at the bottom of the screen on this computer is blue.

I like this glass anyway, regardless of the color. The contour of it makes it very friendly toward the type of bagged ice we buy. The ice, when it falls into the glass, makes a very satisfying, determined clink, and the ice doesn't always fill up the top completely, so I like to dig into the freezer, finding just those right pieces for that exact fit. It's also that time of year when I favor iced tea over hot tea, which means not only do I make the Lipton Cold Brew tea in the Arrowhead gallon jugs, I also brew my usual Bigelow Lemon Lift tea and Twining's Lady Grey tea, pouring them into an ice-filled glass. I haven't yet tried that in this Coca-Cola glass, but I know so far that I'm impatient waiting for the tea to cool down a bit. Once I pour it through the ice in the glass, about 60% of the ice melts right away. I need tea. I don't like to wait that long. At the same time, I should be a little more patient because so far, despite melting nearly all of the ice right away, those teas are also good iced. I'll try it again, when I'm sure I can take a few minutes for it.

I just looked at the photo of the Coca-Cola glasses again, and held my glass up to the computer monitor: That's definitely tinted green. But this is one of those instances where the item and its use is more important than the color.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

An Apple Carrot Fruit Sauce Crushers Packet Will Do It Every Time

Late yesterday afternoon, on the way home from what I think is the final day of work for the school year, Dad and Meridith stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up some things for dinner as well as some non-dinner-related items. My sister, with an everlasting unique soul, picked up a box of Apple Carrot Fruit Sauce Crushers. You twist the top off and squeeze into your mouth a combination of apples, carrot juice, pumpkin juice, and acerola juice. Novel packaging too; you squeeze it and the concoction easily comes out. No rolling it up from the bottom to try to get the rest because when you've finally squeezed it tight enough, that's it. That's all there is.

The back of the packaging has a small block of text framed within drawings of a carrot in front of apple:

"CAP WARNING: Not suitable for children under 3 years of age.

Always make sure a responsible person is present when your child is eating. Please unsure that the cap and seal are completely removed from the pouch before giving to your child."

Well, ok, pouch. I call it a packet because of it being significantly smaller than a Capri Sun pouch. I read the second set of words and I started thinking about a child. Not me when I was little, not any cousins when they were little, not any faces I might remember from La Petit Academy in Casselberry, Florida. Just a random kid eating at a table, plate, utensils, all of that. I thought about that first line in the second set and I wondered: Do I want kids? Do I want to have a little someone in my life who partially came from me? Do I want that life?

Years ago, I thought of what I'd want to name my kids if I had any. A boy would definitely be Rory Leighton Aronsky II. I'd want to continue my name. If a girl, Rachel. That's what my parents said they were going to name me if I had been a girl.

I've gotten older, though. If I want kids, then that means getting to know someone, forming a relationship, and all the little details that come with it that can't possibly be conveyed in this one sentence. I know about the messiness of it. Today my parents celebrate their 27th or 28th wedding anniversary. I don't have to know that, since I've been an innocent bystander in the whole thing. I'm impressed and also frustrated that they've made it to this many years. All the fights I heard, all the uncertainty in silence at the dinner table, all the worry, and the few times Mom threatened to walk out on Dad, twice and nearly three times with luggage packed. Oh, I've gone through it all and having turned 25 this year and working on my own future, I've come to terms that if the worst should ever happen, if they ever do split up, then it happens. I can't control it, I can't know what they know, feel what they feel, so be it. It was hard enough during the many, many times each year when the fights would get so bad verbally, I'd try to find something to do to ignore it, but knew that the fight would still hover over the household. When we lived in the apartment in Valencia, there were times when I'd take a walk outside, sometimes with one of my dogs, and try to relish the freedom from the fight for that moment, but I'd always also think about how even though I was outside, even though it was peaceful, I'd still have to go back inside and there they'd be, still sometimes viciously arguing.

I know that any relationship I may be in may not be that bad. But I think it's ok to just want a different future for myself. I've been witness to my parents' marriage for 22 years. I think that's my marriage limit. I want a life that includes a satisfying career that I can earn enough money from to pay bills and have a little extra for myself. I'm not sure I want the responsibilities of being a parent. The money you have to save, the money you have to use for necessities for them, the times you have to deny yourself something so you can give to them. I don't think I have it in me. For this book I'm co-writing, I have to order off Amazon a few books I can't find in the County of Los Angeles library system. I don't have a choice. I also have books I recently bookmarked in my personal "Favorites" folder in Internet Explorer, six of them, including "Ask the Pilot" by Patrick Smith, an airline pilot who has a column of the same name on

Last Sunday, I checked out "The Pajama Game" on DVD from the library, the 6th time I've done it, and that's my sign that it's time to buy it outright. I've got a few other DVDs on a wishlist, including "Frost/Nixon," and I know, I know, these are just things. I know that there is also the belief that people matter more than things. Well, of course! How the hell else could we arrive on the Earth? How else could the books I want have been written? How else could I want "The Pajama Game" if it hadn't been made? All people-powered.

So, then, the real question, the big question would be: What do I want in my life?

After many pep talks from my parents, steering me to understand that "What If They Lived?" is a major opportunity that I'll never see handed to me so easily for the rest of my life, I want to do my share for that book as co-writer. I was frustrated, almost to tears with how much research I have to do, but not so much the sheer amount as reading book after book and taking notes, and never getting through each book as swiftly as I thought I should. But after I sought advice from Phil and he told me that the bare facts were all that were needed for each biographical profile (before the pages of speculation on what each actor might have done in his or her career had death not ended the career for them), nothing too elaborate, I felt better. I haven't gotten back to reading any research-related books yet because I returned them all when I felt that I might give up the book. My mom said that with this book, I'll have something solid to my name, something that people can reference, something that may lead to bigger things. I agree with that, and as time stands now in relation to this project, I can also watch movies I've wanted to see or see again for a long time, such as "The Harvey Girls," starring Judy Garland.

I've got six months left to work on this book, and so I will. But after that, what do I want?

I've learned that because I intend to pursue of a bachelor of science degree in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, I could qualify for vocational education funds. Anything that substantially lowers the cost of an education that will likely be done entirely online. I'm looking forward to this venture even more, even though it looks like I'll have to take another math course, aviation math this time. I'm trying to get used to the inevitable. It's aviation math, it's related to what I want to do in my life (I don't know exactly what that is yet, but I do know I want to work at an airport), but the numbers again, the graphs. I really don't like sitting down for hours, thinking about numbers that will always be there, while a sunset appears only once a day.

Eventually, we're going to move to Las Vegas. I know I've mentioned this many times before, as well as my declaration that Vegas feels like my true home, but I want to also spend my years getting to know, and having a relationship with Las Vegas. For over a year now, I've been reading about the history of Las Vegas, as well as the current day. I visit the Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Las Vegas Weekly websites every day. I've even begun mapping out where a sense of home is in Las Vegas. It's not just the house we may one day have, wherever that'll be in nearby Henderson; it's also the Strip itself, certain areas, parts of Fremont Street, Smith's supermarket, and that huge Jewish aisle at the Albertson's on South Rainbow Blvd. I never expected to see that outside of South Florida, and though it's only canned and packaged goods, to me, it's still a sign of respect. So far, I know that home begins in the ornate hotel lobby at the MGM Grand. Then Caesar's Palace, with Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill for my sister (she wants to work there in the kitchen) and the most pleasing cocktail waitress outfits on the Strip. I could sit at a slot machine and watch them walk by for a solid week.

So there it is. I want to work at an airport, most likely McCarran International, I want to earn enough money to easily pay bills and have some for myself, and I want to continue the closeness I have to books and DVDs. Oh, and write more. I don't want "What If They Lived?" to be the only book that I've written, or co-written, as it is. I want to do more. I plan to try playwriting, and I've got some ideas for short stories. I don't know if I have the guts and mettle for a novel, but years ago, I thought I had no ideas for any artforms. It's a start.

A relationship? I don't know. I'd like to enjoy Vegas to the full when I get there, and I don't mind the transient culture there. People come, people go, and that's fine with me. I've moved so many times within Florida with my family, and twice in Southern California that I can understand the need to move, but this time, when that time may happen, I can stay put and observe it in others.

I know I can do more than just these things. But I'd rather just enjoy myself and the things I plan to do in the coming years. That may be enough for me.