Above photo: Breakfast of champions!
Below photo: Which one should I try first?
Above photo: Breakfast of champions!
Below photo: Which one should I try first?
“The Help” star Emma Stone and 2013 Oscar host Seth MacFarlane woke up bright and early today to read off this year’s Academy Award nominations. They were not the only ones at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, as hundreds of reporters were on the scene for the big scoop, hoping to make the evening papers. I was with them in spirit, of course, watching the live broadcast from my apartment. And although it was 7:30 out here and not 5:30, that was still damn early – for me at least.
As expected, there were a few surprises, but the actual list of nominees closely mirrored my own predictions from yesterday, with most categories predicted to 80% or 100% accuracy. (Best Director notwithstanding. Yikes!) “Lincoln” leads the race, with 12 nominations including Best Picture. “Life of Pi” is a close second, garnering 11 nods.
For now, I’ll try and hold off from commenting on who I think will actually win, though I make no promises. Here we go….
My blog entry for today is not about Mexico. Nor is it about the series of events that led to my moving to Mexico. Before I fell in love with travel, I fell in love with movies – since I was a child, actually – and although I don’t obsess about them to the degree that I once did, they still provide much enjoyment in my life – especially when I’m not traveling.
Oscar season is a particularly fun time of year for me. I always enjoy predicting the nominees before they are announced, reacting to them once they are announced (well, not at 5:30 a.m. when they’re read off, but later that same day), and watching the big show, typically the only night of television that – at least in the U.S. – rivals the Super Bowl as the year’s most-watched broadcast.
In years past, my conversations about the predicted nominees were limited to a few seconds of office water cooler chit-chat, and a couple hours’ worth of internet movie message board postings. I always made it a point to see as many of the nominated movies as possible, so most of my moving-going friends simply couldn’t keep up. Alas, I’m a bit behind this year, as some movies released in the last months of 2012 still haven’t opened here (“Les Misérables,” for example, doesn’t open until February 15th). Still, I’ve seen two-thirds of the contenders, and the amateur critic in me has come up with my own “wish list” of nominees.
Yesterday, I blogged about the 12 crazy months that had just passed. A roller coaster year of good SoCal hiking, great travels to Europe and Latin America, misleading job prospects, a relationship began and a friendship ended. You can read about it here. Today, I’m taking a moment to look forward.
The world is your oyster, Shakespeare once wrote (or something like that), and I couldn’t agree more. I have basically begun the year in a new city, in good health and in a steady relationship for 12 months and counting. I don’t always make New Year’s resolutions, but I did so this year, and thought I’d share them with you.
Happy New Year! I hope your Christmakwanzaakuh was special, and I likewise hope you spent New Year’s Eve with someone special. As you may know, Loyal Reader, I spent my Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays with family in Tennessee, and only just returned home to Mexico City yesterday evening.
The days between Christmas and New Year’s should be spent relaxing, of course, but should also include some reflection on the past 365 days, and on what you hope the next 365 will bring. Between hearty servings of zesty goulash, thin spaghetti, tender turkey, and light-as-a-feather mashed potatoes, (the turkey baked to perfection by my sister, who, as it turns out, is one helluva good cook) I did just that. I do just that every year, in fact, but I don’t always learn much. It’s time to pay closer attention.
2012 highlights and lowlights
I have been having a case of the blues lately. I love my new apartment and am still enamored with all that Mexico City has to offer. That said, it’s been hard finding work and making friends here. I miss those two-hour telephone gab-a-thons with friends living in the States. I only recently discovered Facebook video calling (very similar to Skype). It helps, but it is also dependent on friends being home in front of their webcams. My parents, who don’t have (and probably don’t need) internet access, are still over 2,000 miles away, and I haven’t spoken with them since the morning before my move from the U.S. to Mexico. My girlfriend and I love each other and see each other often, but she has her own life and I must remember to give her some space.
As someone who’s always marched to the beat of his own drummer, I must confess: for perhaps the first time in my life, I’m lonely.
Fortunately, the holidays are here and I’m leaving Sunday to visit family in both sides of Tennessee. Wee doggies! (Or however you spell that.) American Airlines offered me an Executive Platinum frequent flyer status match, and has upgraded me to First Class for my first flight. (My second, connecting flight is on one of those dreaded, single-class, 40-seater regional jets that, of late, have seemingly overtaken the fleets of both United and American. It seems that these boxy-ass, corrugated metal lightning rods are everywhere.)
Something terrible happened this morning in the small community of Newtown, Connecticut. I don’t need to recount the specific details; you know what went down. My initial Facebook comments were – like those of so many others – reactionary and vitriolic. Although I don’t have children myself, I was no less moved by the plight of the families in this unfortunate New England town. The fact that this happened to elementary school students by an apparent stranger, as opposed to the peer-on-peer violence that is, alas, more commonplace, makes this tragedy seem so much more heart-wrenching than Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or….
Enough. We don’t know all the facts yet, and when you consider that both the suspect and his own mother (who supposedly purchased the guns herself) are dead, we probably never will.
Although I managed to avoid most news websites for the majority of the day, I nevertheless needed to clear my head, so I met Pamela at the local multiplex for an opening night showing of “The Hobbit.” The movie was great, especially the second half, and was just what I needed. Any violence depicted in the film was done by sword, not by gun, and was in a hyper-stylized fantasy setting anyway. The movie ended, Pamela and I went our separate ways for the night, and that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
Have you ever been fired from a job? I have, and it’s humiliating. It really is like it happens in the movies – you have to pack all your workplace personal effects – eight years’ worth, in my case (including a plaque for “Most Valuable Player,” oh sweet irony) – into a cardboard box and make the long walk to your car. My boss was kind enough to fire me after hours, but there were still several people working late, and I know what they were thinking as I slowly shuffled past them, looking at the ground and trying to bite my tongue. Gives new meaning to the phrase “Walk of Shame.”
I kid you not, though – as soon as I pulled out of the parking garage, it was as if a weight had lifted. I could breathe clearly again! I was free! My more level-headed friends would almost certainly go home and immediately file for Unemployment Compensation and polish up their resumes. Me, I did those things as well, to be certain, but they weren’t my first order of business. No, my first task was to buy an airline ticket. Going somewhere. Anywhere. Get me – the fuck – out of here.
I have mentioned in previous blog entries that my first solo international trip – to Mexico City over Thanksgiving 2002 – raised the travel bar for me. With apologies to my parents (who always put together a great Thanksgiving Day spread), Turkey Day 2002 was probably the best Thanksgiving of my life. Others, since then, have come awfully close.
The other day I started thinking about all the places I’ve been to – not just over Thanksgiving, but at any time. I have been to 41 U.S. states and more countries than I can keep track of. I have set foot on six continents. I have completely filled two passports and had extra pages added to both. According to flightmemory.com, I have flown almost 740,000 miles. That said, holiday season travel gives me an extra lift, because travel over Christmas always reunites me with my parents, whom I wish I could visit more often, and because travel over Thanksgiving maintains my own tradition – 11 years running – of going someplace new, sometimes with friends but often by myself.
Seeing as it is mid-way between the two holidays as I write this, I thought I’d share, over these next few days, a few fond holiday season travel memories.