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Thursday, August 22, 2002

Sara: We're all science-y and stuff

So, slight change of plans on the San Francisco trip today because it was So Freaking Cold there. We had sweaters, but no arctic parkas, so going across the bridge was not appealing. We went to the Egyptian exhibit, which was quite interesting if a trifle crowded. The whole thing reminded me of being on the subway in New York, because we went in at the same time as a big group, most of whom were wearing headphones and listening to the audio tour. People act differently if they are cut off from audio stimulation from the environment - they go off into their own little world and stop noticing that they are sharing space with others. Sort of a good thing on the subway, since it makes being packed tightly next to people who are touching your ass remotely tolerable, but less good when you're trying to look at art and people keep darting in front of you because the tape is telling them to do it. There were some beautiful things on display. No mummies, though.

After that, we met up with our friends Marcella, and Maia the Wonder Toddler, age 2.5. Ryan realized that she had left her backpack at the coat check back at the museum. D'oh. We went back for it later. Have I mentioned that Ryan has been completely wonderful the whole time Sarah has been here? She's been helping me entertain her and making dinner for us and coming up with fun plans and I couldn't do this without her.

We had a yummy Mexican lunch at Gordo, then stood around for a while and tried to decide what to do next, since we didn't want to be outside anymore. We hung out in Starbucks (I know, I know...) for a while, then decided to go to the aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences, which is one of Maia's favorite places on this planet, and was also the site of the Excite@Home 1999 Christmas Party. Remember the dot-com boom when such things were possible? Sigh. I made a great outfit for that party - too bad it wasn't finished until around 9:30 that evening and I missed most of the festivities!

So, we got there and realized that Sarah had left her purse at Starbucks. Holding onto things seemed to be a problem today. Back in car. Return to Starbucks, get purse, return to California Academy of Sciences. We went in and drifted into the museum instead of the aquarium - they're having the coolest exhibit ever, called Skulls. See photo of me & Sarah next to the wall of skulls. They have skulls on display from just about any animal you can think of, plus an exhibit of skulls in art and popular culture (yes, there are some Dead concert posters, and some fabulous Day of the Dead stuff - I'm celebrating DotD this year, I think) and it's really fascinating. There was also a case with flesh-eating beetles cleaning off some bones. Ewwww. Yet oddly compelling.

We also learned about earthquakes, and saw the Gary Larson gallery, and eventually made it to the aquarium. We had seen a lot of fish skulls earlier, so it was fun to see the giant seabass and other fish that went with the skulls. Sarah wants to study Marine Biology in college, so she's always happy to go to aquariums. We went to Monterey Bay Aquarium on a previous visit.

ps - Megan, the Musee Mechanique did come up as a possible activity, and was our second choice if the aquarium didn't work out. Great minds thinking alike or something.
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Sara: It's my special siiiiiiiite for my special daaaaaaaay

...which means that I get to respond to comments. Heh.

From the comments on my rant re:weddings as fund-raisers and brides who are insulted by their gifts:

I think everyone has their own standard of what is an appropriate gift. She was not complaining about the cost of the gift but instead that the giftgivers lack of thoughtfulness since she registered for towels elsewhere and dislikes JCPenny. If the giver knew that - why would she give towels from the store the bride dislikes? If the giver did not know the bride well, then perhaps a 5 second look at her registry would at least give you an idea of her tastes/color preferences.

I don't think her stating her dislike of JCP makes her a money hungry pig bride. I hate Macys - but love Target. Gifts given to me from Macys only come from people who could care less what I want - and are only concerned about making it easy on them. I think it is reasonable to expect a modicum of forethought/effort for wedding gifts from close family.

When is okay to say that a gift is thoughtless? Or are thoughtless gifts okay too? Everyone here seems mighty judgemental - are you saying you jumped for joy everytime you receive some useless piece of junk?

Giving thoughtless gifts is just as tacky as asking for expensive ones.

I'm going to take this one apart a bit, and line it up against my own worldview. It doesn't have to be your worldview, but it's my freaking site and I get to spout off here.

>I think everyone has their own standard of what is an appropriate gift.

And I fully support everyone's right to have a standard of what is an appropriate gift...to give to someone else. You don't get to decide what is an appropriate gift to receive, and you certainly don't get to be 'highly insulted' (as the bride in the original rant was) if a gift you receive is not up to that standard.

I blame part of this on the whole registry concept. I have mixed feelings about registering in general, but I strongly object when not buying off the registry is treated as a criminal offense. Registries are suggestions, not mandates, and they shouldn't be expectations. I know the registry can be useful, but it's gotten twisted out of shape and I don't like what I see now.

>When is okay to say that a gift is thoughtless? Or are thoughtless gifts okay too? Everyone here seems mighty judgemental - are you saying you jumped for joy everytime you receive some useless piece of junk?

Gifts aren't thoughtless, people are thoughtless. People are especially thoughtless when they start attaching baggage to gifts they receive - if someone buys me a gift at Store X, it means (fill in the blank) but if they buy it at Store Y, it means (something else) and if they buy me something I think is a 'useless piece of junk' then they're being tacky. All of which magically goes away as soon as one remembers that gifts are GIFTS and not the Rosetta stone and not required tributes and not anything other than an expression of goodwill.

Yes, I'm judgmental when I see people acting like gifts - pre-approved gifts from specific stores - are their right. There is a specific kind of selfishness that is wrapped up in expectations about what the world owes us. It just happens to rear its tulle-covered little head especially often around weddings; it's not a weddings-only issue.

I've gotten odd gifts, I've gotten re-gifts, I've gotten gifts that make me scratch my head a bit, but I've received them gracefully, because they were given out of joy. It doesn't matter if they really were given out of joy - I can only control my reactions, and I choose to believe in only the best of intentions. Other people's motivations are their problem. If they want to give a gift out of spite, it's their rat poison latte to drink, not mine.

We deserve only the worst, and yet are given only the best, blessings upon blessings upon blessings, and yet all we can think to do is to look at them and say, 'this isn't my color.' I'm not just talking about the stuff that comes in Macy's wrapping paper here - if you believe that there is a minimum standard that you must be given before you can be happy, then the world sucks ten kinds of ass at least 99% of the time, because most of the time we don't get what we think we must have. If you accept everything that is given to you with love, nothing can touch you. You won't find offense in towels if you're not looking for it there.

I realize that this is not everyone's outlook, but it's what informs my opinion on the wedding gift issue, among other things. I've had it with expectations. They never made anyone happy.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Sara: Niece Spoilage Tour of Northern California 2002

Having a very fun time with my fabulous and beautiful niece, Sarah, age 12 (seen here with Large Bear).

She arrived last night (about half an hour early, without any notice on the airline's flight status page, or at the airport - I found out that she had arrived early by overhearing one of the agents at the ticket counter. Bite me, Spirit Airlines). Today, Kat and I introduced her to In-n-Out Burger for lunch, and we had dinner at Ryan and Jon's house, and then went to a Hookslide rehearsal. They sounded great and I'm sure they'll have a good show at the Palo Alto Art & Wine Festival on Sunday. We made brownies to take to the band, which went really well except that Ryan failed to work the oven properly and she was very embarrassed. The brownies were fabulous anyway.

Tomorrow, we're going to San Francisco. Ryan and I are both blowing off work, yay! We're going to the Eternal Egypt exhibit at the Legion of Honor, and then to Golden Gate Park. If we have the energy ('we' being Ryan and I - Sarah seems to have more than enough energy) we'll walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. There will be a Krispy Kreme stop on the way to the city, of course.

Friday night is a slumber party at Ryan's - Jon and Dennis are off to see Garaj Mahal in the city, and the chicks are going to give each other makeovers (Mauria is going to teach us about Big Texas Hair), play Dance Dance Revolution, watch The Breakfast Club, and eat sushi. Sarah has resisted the sushi on her two previous visits to the Left Coast, but says she's ready to try it this time. We will have enough beds for everyone, though; there comes a point where sleeping on the floor is too much to ask, especially considering that we're getting up to go to Santa Cruz on Saturday.

Friday afternoon, we're going back to Bridal Barn to see which Jr. Bridesmaid dresses Sarah likes. Photos will be posted.
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Sunday, August 18, 2002

Sara: Sewn invitations

How entirely fun...apparently, there is a trend involving sewing (presumably with a heavier thread, maybe silk?) on wedding invitations. I think this is a smashing idea. I'm going to play with some paper and my sewing machine and I'll let you know how it turns out.

There are 2 kinds of samples here - one has silk organza sewn to paper (oooh, shiny!) and the other is layers of paper, held together with thread. Both have really lovely stitched envelopes. Click on the photos to find out more about the invitations.

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