Wednesday, February 02, 2011

2010 Recap: June-December

Part 2 of my "I didn't blog enough in 2010" post!

8. NHSI 2010: This one doesn't merit much explanation, especially since I did a pretty extensive post on it. Let's just say it was an excellent summer.

9. Mono Lake and Bodie with Mom and Dad: Family Camp is always great, of course, but taking this day trip to a weird lake on the eastern flank of the Sierras, and then an even weirder ghost town, made it completely awesome. See the above linked post for some pictures.

10. Deirdre's wedding: Another gorgeous drive across California, and then a two-day reunion with my suitemates from college. End of story.

11. Chicago and Kate's wedding in Indianapolis: Another wonderful friend reunion, this time with everyone you could ever want from our days of CRC and Ridge and Church living. Steve and I flew into Chicago in order to spend a day there before we drove down to Indianapolis with Tim and Sip, and got to go to the Art Institute and a play that Pat King was in. The wedding was great fun, but Indianapolis itself disappointed me- it may have been the most boring city I've ever been to. We had most of the day after the wedding to kill after our flight left, and we ran out of things to do after about two hours. Oh well. Small price to pay for a weekend chock full of my favorite people.

12. Kevin and Lauren's wedding: The final wedding of the year was the farthest away, but possibly the closest to the way I'd like my own wedding to be, someday. It was outside in rural western Connecticut, on a lake, in the fall, with changing leaves and beautiful blue skies and that perfect chill in the air. I drove up from New York with Erik, Pedro, Blake and Joey and (Blake and Joey's bickering aside) we had a splendid time on our little road trip. I don't know a ton about the Northeastern part of the US, and I am always kind of fascinated with how quaint it is. Anyway, there was a bonfire by the lake after the rehearsal dinner, with beer, hot chocolate, and s'mores- and one of the prettiest night skies I'd seen in a long time. The next morning Kevin and I happened to both be down by the lake fairly early- him checking out the conditions for the wedding later that day, and me just going for a walk (as my 4 roommates were all still asleep), so we ended up going canoeing. This is what I love about Kevin- it's his wedding day, but he has time to go canoeing with me. I don't know many people who would do that.

Other great parts of that trip included going to a pumpkin patch/farm with Erik and Pedro, stopping at a former insane asylum on the way back to the city, hanging out with my brother for two days in New York afterwards, including watching the Giants win their division against San Diego and going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and playing Celebrities with the likes of Kate, Stuart, Lyssa, Marc, Caroline, Will, and Pedro. Most excellent. Oh, and the wedding, of course, was beautiful. Kevin and Lauren have very classy taste... and the prosciutto/salami/toasted bread course at the dinner was delicious.

13. THE GIANTS WIN THE WORLD SERIES!!!!: This is it, folks. This is the absolute best thing that happened all year. The Giants were teetering at the top of the NL West for the last part of the regular season, constantly swapping places with the Padres... and then they BEAT the Padres to win the NLDS, they beat the BRAVES to win the NLCS, and then, miracle of miracles, they beat the Rangers to WIN THE WORLD SERIES. I could go on and on and on about the players and the minutiae of each game and how AWESOME it was to watch all this go down, but I'll spare you guys and won't...

The best part of the whole post season was my parents being generous and buying me a plane ticket back to San Francisco, at the last minute, to watch the Series, which was over Halloween weekend. I hadn't been in San Francisco for Halloween in 4 years, so that was exciting in and of itself, but throw in the World Seris and I practically had an aneurysm. My flight was at dawn, and from the attire of the other passengers I'd say it consisted exclusively of Giants fans. Mom and I watched Game 1, which Tim Lincecum pitched, with Aunt Kris, Uncle Owen, and Tobin at their house- my Dad actually went to the game, something he had never done before, and had a grand old time. The Giants won. My mom and dad and I all went to the Russell-Snyder's house for Game 2, which Matt Cain pitched. The Giants won. We watched Game 3, which Jonathan Sanchez pitched, at home. The Giants lost. Game 4 was on Halloween, and I watched mostly at home, but during the 6th inning I decided to go up to Upper Belvedere (a couple blocks away, and a street that the cops close off for trick or treaters every year... all the houses do fun things like haunted houses and spend thousands of dollars on candy) to see the scene. There were multiple houses that had projected the game onto screens set up in the street, or pushed their TVs into their front windows. Every time Madison Bumgarner struck someone out, there was a huge cheer. It was perhaps one of the most San Franciscan moments of my life, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. Bumgarner pitched 8 shut-out innings and only allowed 3 hits, and it ended 4-0 with Brian Wilson closing it out. Amazing.

This is one of his strikeouts as watched on a projected screen on Upper Belvedere:

I watched Game 5 at home too, because for monumental things like that you have to dance with the ones that brung you, right? Lincecum was pitching against Cliff Lee, and pitched 8 innings before Wilson came in. Edgar Renteria hit THE home run that would bring us home. I have to tell you- I've never heard my dad scream, ever, before the Giants won the World Series... but man, did he scream after that last out. He kept saying he didn't think he would live to see it, and here it was, happening right before his eyes. I think that was the best part of the whole thing- that my dad, a loyal if pessimistic Giants fan for his entire life, finally got to see them win. PLUS, they won in Texas, and while it would have been nice for them to be at home for the win, that last strikeout happened mere feet away from George W. Bush, sitting behind home plate. The most liberal city in the country triumphing over the most backwards, conservative president in recent memory- how sweet it is!

Dad and I went down to Haight Street to mingle with the revelers- some random dudes adopted him basically because he was the only old guy there:
Dad's new Giants fan friends

All over the city, the cops has closed off various streets, thrown up their hands, and let the revelers go to town. Later on the news they showed Muni buses stuck on Chestnut Street because crowds had swarmed around them. Tobin and I went back down to Haight later to get a drink at the Golden Cane, and we were both just... well, "giddy" is really the only word I have to describe it.

It was the absolute best thing about the entire year. As Brian Wilson would say, FACT.

14. Now, I always love Thanksgiving, but this Thanksgiving was particularly wonderful. Everyone came down this year, and even Taylor came home from New York- for the first time in 3 years! The day after Thanksgiving, we had a surprise party for David and Nicolai's 40th birthdays, which were in October. We took a new All Cousin I had taken some lighting and camera gear out from AFI- one of the perks of working there- and I spent the days surrounding Thanksgiving taking portraits of various family members. There wasn't enough time to get them all, unfortunately, but I'm pretty happy with what I did get. I started with Tobin, and quickly realized that family portraits should not be as artsy as I was trying to make his. We got a few funny ones of him though, in his soccer uniform,like an AYSO shot. Here are a few favorites:

My always classy family:

Tobin and Willa Marie's mid-90's family heist comedy:

Willa Marie and David:

Jessica, Tobin, David, and Willa Marie:

Kim and Simon:

Kim and Whitney:


Tobin (this one was in jest, but I love it):

Ellen and Beccy:

15. December and Christmas
Like Thanksgiving, I always like Christmas, but this year was nice because Taylor came home and brought Jessica, his girlfriend, with him for the first time. It made for a different sort of Christmas, but not drastically, and it was sort of a nice progression in the whole growing-up process (what do you mean, I'm already grown up? bother). We had a nice Christmas Eve at Aunt Kim and Uncle Simon's house, and a lovely lazy Christmas Day. December in general featured a bunch of friends from high school, including the now-yearly Holiday Dinner with the likes of Rachel, Alexis, Larkin, Diane, Martin, Matty P and Matt Levy, which is always fun. Jonny and I went to the Lick Alumni Party at a bar downtown, and saw lots of random people that we'll see again in December 2011 for our 10 year reunion (...eek!). New Year's was at Katie's house in Oakland, for the third year in a row, and possibly the last time, as who knows where half those people will be a year from now. All in all it was very warm and cozy and just what I wanted from December.

So that's about it for 2010 for me. At least, those were the highlights. Other good things happened, some bad things, and there was a whole lot of worrying about my career and unemployment and when (if?) I should decide to move back to San Francisco. But really... what else is new?

Here's to 2011 being even better!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

2010 recap: January-May

2010 turned out to be a pretty good year for me, a fact that I attribute solely to that day that Jon Hamm said he liked my shoes. You know, starting the year off right (ie with a handsome celebrity smiling at me and telling me he likes my old beat up Doc Martens) and all that. So, for the sake of commemorating a good year, I present you with

2010: The Good Stuff
(in chonological order)

1. Mom's Retirement Party: Aunt Kim, Aunt Kris and I put together my mom's retirement party in March, held at Aunt Kim's house in San Francisco, and it was a resounding success. All (or at least most of) her best friends came, and people made lovely toasts about how great my mom is, which was really nice because quite frankly she doesn't usually get much thanks or credit for all the things she does. We also had people bring her books to read, whether they were borrowed or new or just suggestions, because she loves to read and now, in retirement, has a lot more time to do so. It was a great gift idea because she ended up with not a bunch of crap, like you might expect at parties, but with things she would really enjoy.

Aunt Kris, Mom, and Aunt Kim
Aunt Kris, Mom, and Aunt Kim

Sherry, Jim, Mom, John, Marty, and Dad
Sherry Abrams, Jim McKerrow, Mom, John Lewis, Marty Hales, and Dad

2. Trip to Oregon: The day after the retirement party, I flew to Portland as a last-minute addition to my mom's trip to visit her sisters and my Great Aunt Solveig. We decided my being there would be a suprise for Aunt Kelsey, Aunt Karen, and Nicolai. Whitney picked me up at the airport and I spent the first night at her house, then the next day we spent at Powell's Books (which is basically the best bookstore in the world) and then went out to dinner for Aunt Karen's birthday- which is where we surprised them. Aunt Karen could barely believe that I was there, it was great. Mom and I spent a night or two at Aunt Karen and Uncle Bob's new condo, which is very cute. The next day we went to Great Aunt Solveig's house to visit her, which was nice because it was pretty clearly the last time I would get to see her- and sure enough, she died this August. She was pretty much the nicest person I have ever met, and an amazingly loving mother and aunt:

Whitney, me, Aunt Kennedy, Aunt Sol, Aunt Karen, and Mom

Afterwards, Aunt Karen, Whitney, Mom and I went up to Simon's house in Husum, Washington, which was unbelievably gorgeous. The Pacific Northwest is incredible... I haven't spent nearly enough time there. Simon's house is up on a mountain with a spectacular view of Mt. Hood:


So yeah. Oregon rocked. Family and nature- couldn't be better.

3. Death Valley With Steve I never wrote my fabled Death Valley post, but I'm pretty sure Death Valley was the 2nd best thing I did all year- we'll get to the first a little later. Steve and I basically just wanted to get out of LA for awhile, and we'd never been to Death Valley and heard a lot about it. Fortuitously, we decided to go early enough that we could time our trip for the best wildflower time- and I am incredibly glad we did. The wildflowers were beautiful, and confusing, as they would often grow seemingly out of pure rock. We went to all sorts of fun places, like Mosaic Canyon, and the Sand Dunes, Badwater (lowest spot in North America!), Rainbow Canyon, Salt Creek (where the incredibly awesome Death Valley Pupfish thrive, against all odds), Zabriskie Point, the Amargosa Opera House Hotel, and- possibly my favorite- Rhyolite, which is a ghost town just over the Nevada border that features a bizarre outdoor art museum and some totally badass ruins. I could post endless pictures, but I will just share with you a few of my favorite. The rest of them are here in my Flickr set. In particular, I enjoy the one of the the giant naked Lego-esque lady in Rhyolite and the miner and his penguin friend.

Steve and me in Mosaic Canyon
Me and Steve in Mosaic Canyon

whee! sand dunes!
Steve in the Sand Dunes

i will eat this tiny plant!
A Sphinx moth caterpillar, one of literally millions that we saw all over the place, particularly in Salt Creek

The Amargosa Opera House Hotel

sunset from Zabriskie Point
sunset from Zabriskie Point

Wildflowers on the Beatty Cutoff to Rhyolite

Rhyolite, Nevada

In summation, I could go back to Death Valley over and over and over again, particularly because we barely scratched the surface of amazing things to see.

4. Jennifer and Josh's wedding: AFI friends, Echo Park, open bar, cheese fountain. 'Nuff said.

5. New York in May: my brother, as a birthday present, bought me a plane ticket to New York for the same weekend my parents were going to be there, which was coincidentally the weekend of Mother's Day. It was a whirlwind- I was there for about 48 hours total- but it was worth it. We went to a Giants/Mets game (which the Giants sadly lost), to the Whitney museum, to the Museum of Natural History, to Central Park, and all sorts of things. I saw all my New York people, and went back to LA utterly exhausted- but in that good way that means you had a good weekend.

6. Blood Meridian shoot: This is kind of incorrect, as the actual Blood Meridian SHOOT was pretty rough- despite a fun camera crew and oh hey, did I mention? Luke Perry was in it!- it was three days of running up and down rocky mountainsides with EX-1s and Digizooms, and long hours, and holy hell my Osgood Schlatter's knee started to hurt for the first time since I was 11. Also, it was directed by James Franco- yes, that James Franco- who decided that he should hang out looking over my shoulder all weekend at the onboard monitor while I pulled focus on long lenses. So that was nervewracking... Still, the shoot was in Bishop, CA, which was both beautiful and somewhere I'd never been before (always a plus), we got to ride up and down hills in these rad ATVs called Rhinos, and the whole frickin' crew fell in love with Luke Perry and his many abilities. My friend Kris Carrillo, who was Key Gripping, has a great story of his truck getting stuck in a ditch and Luke Perry riding triumphantly over the ridge on a horse, dressed like a cowboy, and getting the truck out. Amazing. Luke Perry wins everything.

PLUS- I left Bishop at 4am after we wrapped around 1am, and despite running on about 3 hours of sleep in the past 36 hours, the drive to San Francisco was amazing. The pass through the Sierras was closed, so I had to drive to Bakersfield and then back north- which meant I got to go over Highway 178, a road I would not have known existed otherwise. I went past an amazing, tiny little cemetary, which of course I had to stop at despite racing the clock, and also past Lake Isabella and the accompanying river, which most definitely warrant a second visit. And all this segues beautifully into...

7. Jarrod and Amelia's wedding: I was running on fumes by the time Taylor and I made it to College Prep in Oakland for Jarrod's wedding, but I didn't care, because it was the largest gathering of people from my childhood in at least 10 years, and that was awesome. The wedding was put together completely by their friends, and was very focused on the communities surrounding them. It was a lovely little hippie wedding, and we took pictures of all us Family Camp kids, one of which is one of my favorite pictures of the year:

Camp Gold kids reunited =)
Leo, Jarrod, Jake, Taylor, Tim, me, Zach and Spenser- this one is my favorite because Zach has clearly just pushed Spense over. I think we probably have this same photo somewhere, from when we're all under 10.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I reveal June-December, including the Absolute #1 Best Thing To Happen All Year! I know, you're all on pins and needles.