Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Away From Her

The problem, you see, is one of geography. I don't think any middle-aged son or daughter actively wants to put his/her ailing parent in a nursing home INSTEAD of helping out with said ailing parent, but we have created a world in which we now live far, far from our families. If it were different, when an elderly parent became too ill to care for him/herself many a family member living down the street would be able to help out in shifts/move in/have the parent move in with him. If we all lived together in big clan households, it would be different. But it's not different.

Of course, caring for, say, an Alzheimer's patient can be far too much to ask of one person alone.

What brought on these thoughts? Well, today I saw the movie Away From Her, in which Julie Christie plays a woman losing herself to Alzheimer's. Her devoted (but really more like once he strayed but these days he's devoted again) husband kind of loses her, too, once she enters a long-term care facility. There's so much more to it than that. Parts of it are exquisitely rendered, and though it meanders a bit slowly at one point, it gets REALLY good again at the end. I recommend it. Also, it's Canadian. That's fun. (A year later, am I still an honorary Canadian? I'll have to check on that one with my Korea ESL teacher friends who designated me as such.) Plus, one of the most beautiful songs ever plays during the end credits, kd lang's cover of "Helpless." That is simply an amazing piece of music. I had to catch my breath when I heard it start playing after the touching, swirling ending.

But here's what I was thinking, really, as I thought about taking care of or not being able to take care of ailing parents in the home. I was thinking all these fools who bitch about kids in daycare should shut their traps. I mean, I've always thought that they should shut their traps anyway, because who are you to tell someone else whether they need to work while raising their children and such. But now I think they should shut their traps even more. Little kids, they are learning and growing and need to interact with other people and play and make friends and I really don't know that day care is all that bad. (and yes, i remember, i shouldn't call it "day care, "you are taking care of people, not taking care of days, but i forgot what i'm supposed to call it) And they get to go home at the end of the day, at any rate. Whereas no one is coming at the end of the day for some of the ailing grandparents, you know? Sometimes family members don't even visit at all.

Maybe all these sanctimonious "Oh, you down there beneath me, you work outside the home, do you?" people should go spend some time visiting people in a nursing home and get over themselves.

I'd probably be more articulate about this if I weren't distracted watching the Red Sox lose while anticipating how I'm going to watch the Jazz lose next. Then again, maybe not.

Furthermore, I would just like to state for the record that Julie Christie is hot. Still. I can only hope that when I am 66 years old that I have as amazing a body as she still does.

To our health!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

So that's Law School 3, Leisure Pursuits 0.

First it was The Name of the Rose thrusting law school back in my face, as chronicled on my literary supplement, even though it's supposedly my long-awaited leisure reading novel now that the casebooks have been stowed away for the summer. Then it was the fact that at the first social gathering I attended back here in Boston I found myself talking to other law students inside thirty seconds.

And now, here I am watching a little M*A*S*H Season 4 on DVD (courtesy of Netflix, of course) and whom should BJ quote in a letter home but Justice Oliver Wendell Homes: "War is an organized bore." (Which, BJ adds, just might explain Frank Burns.) Good ol' Holmes. Thought I'd have a reprieve from his endless quotes (chock full of wisdom as they may be), but no.

Later in the same episode, though, we get the goods: Frank and then Hawkeye "teaching English" to some Koreans hired to be wards in the hospital. "Do-you-have-a-fever?" dictation quickly morphs into Frank's: "Bet-ter-dead-than-red" and "Get-us-out-of-the-U.N." Good times.

Maybe Leisure Pursuits does score one after all.

Monday, May 28, 2007

"I'm alive, and doing fine..."

Happy Memorial Day! Here are some of the things I did today:
  • Went swimming at my trusty ol' Porter Square gym (Bally) in Cambridge!
  • Saw the movie Once (LOVED. IT.) at Harvard Square!
  • Went to a Memorial Day cook-out held on the patio of an apartment in the North End!
  • Rode the T!
  • Rode in a car on I-93 that took the Mystic Valley Parkway exit!
  • Sat in glorious sunshine on a bench while I beheld the sparkling Charles River!
  • Traveled with an extra sweatshirt layer despite aforementioned glorious sunshine, because who knew what the weather would do?
And what do all of those things add up to? Taken separately or together, they can mean only one thing: I'M BACK IN BOSTON!


Saturday, May 19, 2007

And then a hush fell over Hofstra

It's eerily quiet here now that finals have ended. People certainly did not delay in getting the hell out of Dodgestra! Of course, a bunch of my 1L friends and I are still lurking about, ostensibly working on our writing competition papers. Uh-huh. The greatest thing is now I can watch my Netflix DVDs with reckless abandon and not feel guilty that I should be studying. Also, I rather enjoy the challenge of packing. I used to hate it, back when I moved every five seconds during my late teen/early twenties/California years. These days I really get into it. Perhaps because I've revolutionized my thinking about earthly possessions? That must have something to do with it. Man, Asia was life-altering. But I've mentioned that before.

I am sitting in the law school and I think I was the only person in this building until just a few minutes ago. It was a little unnerving but then again kind of cool. (I'm not exaggerating, either. I can swipe my law student i.d. to access this computer lab 24/7. There was NO ONE else.) I kind of like the Hofstra campus in all its spring blooming greenery glory. Also I like mornings. Part of the reason for this abject solitude is clearly that I was here so early. The past two days I have woken up at 6 a.m. Well, if you count snoozing then at 6:10. This meant that I accomplished quite a lot yesterday, especially when compared to my friends who woke up around 1 p.m. I only hope today is as productive. It's all about the packing, and the Throwing. Things. Out. I remember in L.A. when people used to make fun of my clinging inability to toss things. Jodi actually came over and was all about holding the trash bag for me and repeating like a mantra "You don't need it. You don't need it. You don't need it." That was funny. Life is funny.

Yesterday was also full of news, some good and some bad. Among other things, my cat is dying. Well, she's really my mom's cat, now, but we're still good friends. My former roommate and I acquired her at USC even though we were forbidden to have pets in that apartment. Such rebels. But she was never really the roommate's cat from day one, and we kind of knew it would go that way. We took her in shortly before my life-altering spring break. When I returned from that trip I stepped into my walk-in closet and saw out of the corner of my eye two little fuzzy masses moving in the corner. Kittens. Tiny, newborn, curled up baby kittens. After graduation the kittens ended up going to a friend and her family in California, and the cat went to Arizona for the summer while I set out for more life altering. And she's lived in Arizona ever since, mostly with my mom although she did a stint chez my dad, too. I've always felt guilty about separating her from her children, and slightly less guilty about "foisting her on" my mom. I think my mom really did want her, and I did get resistance about reclaiming her upon my return to the U.S. Anyway, she and my mom have had a nice little companionship. And as I said, whenever I go to visit, the cat and I hang as if we've never been apart. But now she is super sickly, and not long for this world.

Speaking of Cuba (I was, you know) and being sick, have you heard the latest Michael Moore trouble? His new film, Sicko, which lambastes among other things HMOs and the sorry state of the health care industry in the U.S., premieres at Cannes this weekend. (And in the U.S. at the end of June. Yay! Hardly can I wait.) Well, apparently the Bush Administration is investigating him for possibly acquiring some of the content of that film in violation of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. In other words, he went there. Moore and his people have had to spirit a master negative out of the U.S. for fear our government is going to confiscate it! This just makes my head spin. Hey all you insipid, flag-waving, warmongering, God-told-me-to-be-a-Republican-and-write-country-songs-about-it folks--is this the "best" "why do they hate us?" "at least I know I'm free" nation you've been praising?

Because frankly it reminds me of the stories I used to hear as a wee little tyke about the Big Bad Soviet Union, where bibles and other "western literature" were smuggled in and out, maybe second only to blue jeans, and as we heard it told no one was free to write/read/hear/watch anything but every last Russian was salivating at the very thought of the freedom of 'MERRika. I shake my head now at the way the Big Bad Soviet Union was portrayed in the eighties. I need a giant retroactive grain of salt. Not to be confused with a radioactive grain of salt that makes giant bugs, like you see in bad Cold War era movies.

For more wacky childhood reminiscence in need of salt, see today's Literary Supplement.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This was the week that was, sure was

Well. Huh. Yeah. I am past the 14-hour mark. What that means is that slightly more than 13 hours from now I will be done with my first year of law school!!!!!!! Oh, that sentence is worthy of even more exclamation marks than that. The only question is, am I worthy? I am currently mired in the mud of procrastination and the situation is dire. I think I've maxed out. This entire week has been one giant roller coaster of finals, death, exam-administering issues, funeral, family, train rides, car rides, doctors, pills, injuries, work, slogging through...and pray tell, what does it mean to have a birthday in the middle of all of that? Seriously? I think it means I certainly didn't have a philosophical Reflective Birthday Life Moment this year. Who had time to ponder the meaning of life?

I swear to god, I think what I'm most looking forward to is picking up the novel I had to set aside a couple weeks ago, even though I was only a third of the way through it. (As noted today on the literary supplement.) Well, that and the karaoke.

Oh, and getting the !@#* off of Long Island! On Sunday as my uncle drove me back from the family/funeral in western Massachusetts, and as I guided him from parkway to parkway to parkway to parkway (yes, there are four, FOUR! after the Throgs Neck Bridge here in this, the land of strip malls and parkways), I looked at the glow of the setting sun falling upon Long Island and thought, "Good god I hate this place! I'm so happy I get to leave in nine days!" And now, my friends, it's a mere seven more days here. Seven days and a wake-up, as they say.

And as for the final, for which I am decidedly not preparing at the moment? ONE. DAY. MORE.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ovilina and the blessed sky

And now, halfway through my finals, I am off to Massachusetts for the funeral of my grandmother. I got the news Tuesday morning that she had died overnight. I am scrambling to get everything sorted out, attend to things here, get up there for the weekend, and then return for my next final Monday morning.

Grandma's name: Ovilina Napikoski. (last mentioned on this blog here) Ovilina is not the most common name, and she's definitely the only Ovilina I've ever known. Well, there is an Indigo Girls song called "Ozilline" that Amy Ray (one half of the duo) wrote about her grandmother. I've often thought about my grandmother, Ovilina, when I listen to Amy sing about her grandmother, Ozilline. Especially lately, since my own grandmother has been sick over the last few years.

On the studio version, Ozilline herself is heard at the beginning, speaking with Amy, in a recorded conversation. Since the recording of the album, Ozilline has died. Amy sometimes does not feel emotionally up to playing it in concert, but other time she does, in tribute. The song, which I already loved since its 1999 release on the album Come On Now Social, has had a profound effect on me recently when I hear them perform it live, which I was lucky enough to do again at the latest Indigo Girls concert I attended, here in NYC in March.

I also love the last line of the song, and I often sing it to myself in the mornings when I pause to gaze out the 4th floor window of my building on my way to start my day. It's such a nice reflection on life. The circle of life, even. And seeing as my brother-in-law and I will both experience our birthdays while in Massachusetts over the next few days for the funeral, the circle of life is an interesting reflection.

And so, even though you won't get the full banjo- and emotion-laden experience of hearing it, I will put the lyrics here, as I fondly remember my grandmother Ovilina.

words and music by Amy Ray

Oh, Ozilline
The moon is almost full
And you don't need a torchlight
To see into these woods
Now sister, bring the medicine
To keep you from decline
And it's the waxing and the waning
That's always on your mind

Oh, Ozilline, I feel for you
Oh, Ozilline, I feel for you

As soon as the corn's in
The deer will come to feed
Yeah, when the berry ripens
The bird will come to eat
You build by the river
It's pretty but you'll pay
'Cause the springtime brings the flood plain
Your cut bank washes away

Oh, Ozilline, I feel for you
Oh, Ozilline, I feel for you

I had to put the dog down
Before I hit the road
Yeah I watched that sweet old life
Become a bag of bones
So when your body's broken
And your heart wants to give in
And you hear that hoot owl callin'
Just like she was a friend
I said, oh, Ozilline, I feel for you
I said, oh, Ozilline, I feel for you

I said Ozilline, she don't let you cry
If you ask her where it hurts
I said Ozilline, she don't let you cry
If you ask her where it hurts
She said, What a blessed sky.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Finals Eve

Because, as I realized the other day, all the best holidays have an Eve, or they are an Eve. At the time I was contemplating celebrating Cinco de Mayo on May 4th, and it just kind of went from there. And now, I officially declare today Finals Eve. Finals, finals, finals. First up, Civ Pro. That's tomorrow. I'm so sick of studying for/not studying for/anticipating/dreading it that I just want to take it and get it over with. T-minus 13 hours and counting! Some of my procrastination time today has yielded:
  • Musings on my Literary Supplement
  • Quiz results posted to my rarely updated LiveJournal
  • Watched the episode of M*A*S*H where they get Colonel Potter the bust and the horse for his anniversary. That guy who sells Majors Burns and Houlihan the bust is awesome. Such a Korean moment!
  • I've learned things, too. No, really! Like about appeals...and judgment as a matter of law...and about how happy I will be when finals are over...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

No man is an island, but some men have islands named after them

Today I did some fun things and some less fun things. I suppose that's what finals studying time is all about. Actually, for many people, that is not at all what it is about, from what I hear. It is all about the less fun for them. Not me. I like finals studying time; I find it oddly fascinating in some perhaps masochistic? way and I also don't believe it is helpful to be an oozing ball of 24-hour-a-day studying stress. One should have diversions. Such as...

Playing softball! And even better is playing softball in a fun park on Roosevelt Island with people whom I've never met before tonight (except Brian) (and he hit a home run! yay him) and also with a cat who liked to slink through the overgrown grass in the outfield. That cat is awesome. It appeared to live in a little pile of who-knows-what waaaay back in what would be the nether regions of centerfield. But it emerged and slunk through right field, too. And it would look up when we would move around fielding a ball and it would pay a little attention and then it would resume its slinking. It so knew what was going on. It was totally The Cat Who Loved Baseball. Someone tell Lillian Jackson Braun.

I had never got off the F train on Roosevelt Island before. I've always ignored that stop. But tonight, that's where we went to play. And now I have a total crush on Roosevelt Island. Don't even act like you don't know what I mean. It is completely and totally possible to develop a crush on a place. Instantly, apparently. It was crush at first footsteps. It was so cool! It was right there, just hanging out in the river between Queens and Manhattan, and yet you didn't feel like you were in either place. In fact, it felt more like being on Catalina Island, when you're in L.A. County and you know that but also you are just so not in L.A. So, Roosevelt Island, in addition to its baseball field complete with cat, has many amenities, such as one street (seriously) and a tram to take you up and down said street, and a run/bike/walk type path along the water, and tennis courts and other athletic fields, and also a bar, luxury condos, a market or two, AND...wait for it...a Starbucks. Now, seriously, people. Have I found the place in New York where I need to live or what! I would never need to leave the island!

I am aware that Manhattan is an island also, of course. But you don't really think about that when you're on Manhattan. It really doesn't envelop you with that island feel, the way a Catalina (or a ROOSEVELT!) does. Neither does Long Island, which is the land of god-awful strip malls. Its god-awful strip mall-dom definitely trumps its island-dom.

Before and after playing softball I learned many things about Civ(il) Pro(cedure), and I also did appellate brief edits. Tomorrow the appellate briefs and Appellate Advocacy will take their places on the "done and done and so very done forever" shelf. That delights.

My other delight today was seeing that there is a new movie out, Diggers, which, weird! is about Long Island. But that's not the delightful part. The delightful part is Maura Tierney is in it! I like her! And not just because I think she might play me in the movie of my life. I think she is way underrated. I like it when she's in movies.

Also, Offside? Hello? Why didn't I get around to seeing that? Oh well. That's what Netflix is for, I suppose.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spring CAN really hang you up the most

Remember last May 1st? I do. And part of why I do is that with the dawning of the new month (a merry merry month! and one of my favorites!) I became extraordinarily happy, leaving nasty miserable April (the cruelest month) behind.

That happened in Korea. I'd kind of forgotten about it, until yesterday, here in New York. I was delighted yesterday. I woke up to a lovely morning, I was happy it was May, it was the last day of classes, I don't know...lots of things...I just like May. And as it struck me how much better May tends to be than April (in my world, at least) I suddenly remembered last May 1st in Korea. Man, it was a mood shift of immense proportions. I think I scared my friends there. Last April had wrought such havoc. Last May was destined to bring great things. And indeed it did.

Will this May be just as glorious? MAYbe! Is it a birthday thing? A weather thing? A T.S. Eliot thing? I don't know. But damn, I like May!

I'm moving into finals studying now. Yesterday saw the completion of my attendance of first-year-classes. They fed us ice cream to celebrate. A little law school ice cream social. Or, sociable, if you're in The Music Man. I was highly entertained sitting around outside the law school with some third-year friends. They were DONE done. No more law school classes for them, ever. It was fascinating. I just wanted to watch them freak out and contemplate things like being done, taking the bar exam, facing reality. This mainly took the form of them reciting their personal numbers. As in, their total of student loan debt. One would say, "$98,000." Another would say, "98? That's nothing. My number's over 200. " "I've got 175," a third would chime in. And so it went.

Have I mentioned that I came to Hofstra for the sole purpose of taking advantage of a big scholarship and attempting to avoid such a number if/when I complete law school? Wow. I so don't want that much debt. Seriously. Ever.

But that means I have to do well on my finals. So, I am studying. Today I reviewed Property. A lot. And I realized something awesome. Lately I've been watching Season 2 of Lost on DVD (from Netflix, of course!) After initially being a devoted follower of Season 1, I basically dropped out after the first year because I missed Season 2 entirely while I was in Korea. (Hmmm, weird how that sentence could be a description of some other things too...oh, never mind.) So lately I've been remembering that it really is quite the good show. But today I realized it's also a fabulous case study for Property.

I'm at the part now where they're interrogating my-balloon-crashed-or-is-he-an-other in the hatch, and thinking of raising an army after scary bearded dude told them, "This is OUR island" while threatening to kill Kate. And Sawyer's got the guns and medical supplies now, and Hurley's got more of the food than he's letting on, and Sun is cultivating the land with her garden, and Locke just called it "MY hatch." It's all about acquisition by discovery, conquest, capture, and so forth. Which is exactly what I'm reviewing for Property! And my very philosophical Property text poses questions about how humans relate to things, and what it means to own things, and how private ownership of things changes? benefits? people rather than communal ownership. And so on.

So yeah. My DVD viewing is totally helping me to review for finals. Does life get any better than that? I told you May is awesome.