Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

Archive for July, 2004

The exciting life of Shannon

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

It’s been a few days since I have written anything. Inevitably, in this situation, my mind swims. What should I write about? I can’t just write, well, whatever. It has to be at least sort of interesting. Here is what my blog would look like if I wrote about WHATEVER.

Today I got up at 8:00. I was tired since my asshole neighbor came home at 1:45 A.M. and woke me up, AGAIN. Must that bitch laugh like a hyena? Someone should teach her how to laugh in a way that she won’t chase people off within five minutes of talking to her, especially guys, which are rare in her realm. To get even for the sleep interruption, I blast the Avalanches “Frontier Psychiatry” on my stereo. Take that bass, you fat hyena. It’s the most insane bass, one note, the kind of sound that makes you feel either really happy, or sick to your stomach. It makes me happy. I turn the bass level up. A good way to wake up, I must say. Like being in a cavernous club full of sweaty bodies, instead of in my little bungalow about to go to work. Yeah, right. Like I really hang out in clubs anymore! Shit. I turn up the volume all the way to infinity just to pretend I still hang out in sweaty dance clubs, and to really make my point to my neighbor, the hyena.

After deliberately trying to make my neighbor’s hangover much, much worse, I go for my morning walk. I walk and walk. I walk up the hill, which is always hard, and then back down which is really great because I can look at the ocean then, plus, of course, it is downhill. My neighborhood is full of cool and interesting houses. Sometimes they are for sale, and I stop and grab a brochure out of the box attached to the For Sale sign. Then I choke and keep walking. I’ll never be able to buy a house here. It’s pretty frightening. Cottages with no foundations for 450K. Sheesh, I’ll move to, I don’t know, Malta? Romania? These thoughts accompany me down the hill.

After my walk I come home and make my coffee and get to work, if I am at home for the day, which, is most of the time, unless I am on the road, (which happens occasionally) run on sentences suck, don’t they?

I sit at my computer and do my thing until about 1:00 when it is time to go walk again, mostly to stretch. Then I come home and take a shower and eat a tortilla with lettuce and cheese in it. (Oh, also, during the day there is always music. Today it was P.J. Harvey, the Beta Band, and some burned CDs that someone gave me of bands that sound just like the Strokes, which makes me want to kill somebody. WHY, oh WHY, does everything good have to be copied and run into the ground? It makes me want to weep.)

As the afternoon goes on, it gets hotter, at least right now, since it is Summer, dummy. I might walk to the post office. Yesterday when I walked to the post office, some guy in an old VW asked me out! Just pulled up, and asked me out. I told him I had a boyfriend, of course. Then I saw a guy getting a ticket for skateboarding! It was one weird day, let me tell you.

Finally it is 5:00. Since I work at home, it might seem odd that I would make note of this, since at headquarters they really know fuck-all about what is going on down here. But, these people (my employers) have been very good to me, and since I am a hard worker and also Good at Guilt, I make sure to spend my allotted time in the spot they are paying me to be in.

Many, many things can happen at 5:00. Going to the cliffs and watching the sunset? spending too much time in front of my computer? but today I go and play Bocce Ball with my boyfriend. I play badly, and I know the reason why. On Sunday we have to go to his Family Reunion/Bocce Tournament. I am not a bad Bocce player, in fact I am pretty good. But the fact that I have to go to the Reunion is freaking me out. I’m always fine once I get there, it’s the thinking about going that bugs. At any rate I have a couple of moments of brilliance but mostly, I suck. Thank gosh I bring a bottle of Albarino. Let’s face it, it’s the wine that makes life liveable. The sun goes down, and I come home to face my blog.


The escalating price of butter

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

I am going to cook for a friend’s party in Venice in September. We’ve been emailing back and forth about things to eat, what to do, etc. etc. It’s like jumping into a black hole, cooking for a party in Italy, especially since I have not been there in eighteen months. Mostly, because of Euro-inflation. What little surprises have I to look forward to? Chicken wings at 8 Euro a pound? A pound of pasta twice the price of what I remember?

It used to be cheaper, buying groceries in Italy. I think those days may be over. But even here in the States, where prices were never super low (unless you buy in mega-lots meant for restaurants or families of 10, or buy and throw half of what you bought in the garbage because there is no way you could consume all that, which sort of defeats the purpose of buying more to save money) food prices are rising even higher.

This is pretty frightening. Gas is going up, up, up. It’s easy to say, well fuck you big Escalade or Esplanade (or whatever that mammoth vehicle is) driver, you are well up it without a paddle now! It’s easy to see how the mammoth vehicle drivers have it REALLY bad. But the simple fact is, they probably are as “who gives a shit” to the fact that they are paying $158 more a week in gas as the rest of us are that butter costs a buck a pound more these days. Even worse, the grocery chains are training people to eat their own cheap label crap, squishy English muffins and poison injected yogurts, by offering it at a lower price.

It is 2004 and I am 39 years old. Somehow, this all sounds like 1974 when my mom was 29 years old. She went all health foody and co-opy. Me and my brothers grew up on dry wheat bread and peanut butter sandwiches that would glue your mouth shut. (Perhaps this was intentional?) I think it is time for another revolution, but this time a price revolution too. Everyone has got to make money, but also, childen need to eat, and something besides a four dollar peach on the one end, or a lifeless cheap bagel, on the other. There has got to be a middle ground, and one for everybody to stand on.

Another heavy sigh and Hallmark moment

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

The other day, I bought a French cookbook at a yard sale, one of those Dorling-Kindersley glossy, colorful and hard-to-follow “you can do it” books popular with British yuppies. Now that I’ve perused such recipes as Artichoke and Sweetbread Salad and Salmon Sausage with Red Wine Sauce (I’ll spare you my typing of French) I think this book is probably going to end up on Ebay with that Jane’s Addiction “Strays” CD I’ve been trying to sell for a few months.

Anyhow, while perusing this previously owned book, a couple of Hallmark cards fell out into my lap. Lucky me, entertainment, for the low low price of one dollar! One was a Christmas card from some guy named Michael to his wife, Theresa, who I suppose sold me the book. Pretty boring…. “You make me happy in a thousand different ways” (Hallmark’s writing) and “I love you, and I am grateful to have such a wonderful little girl. Thank you!” (Michael’s writing. In other words, you are pretty cool, but more importantly, thanks for popping out a brat that looks like me and jumps on me when I come home from work.)

The other card is from Daddy Michael to his Little Girl, Rory, aged one. Looking at this card makes me wonder, once again, what came first, the chicken or the egg? Hmmmm. Or, was Michael this stupid before he had a kid? Did he ever see himself in RiteAid, in a fit of nostalgia, with no creativity whatsoever, buying a card shaped like a mouse with a Santa hat on that says (Hallmark writing:)

Merry 1st Christmas to a Sweet Little Girl! A baby girl’s first Christmas should be nice in every way, and when she’s sweet as you are, it’s a doubly special day!

Oh my god, please, I am going to vomit. She’s ONE. She won’t understand your card, your intent, or the reasoning behind a mouse with a red hat. She also won’t understand (Michael’s writing:)

Rory! YOU are MY Christmas! Thank You! Daddy.

These cards were meaningful enough that Mom stuck them into an unused cookbook and eventually, sold them at a garage sale. Those Hallmark moments. Only $2.50, yet priceless.

Where are you today, Pink Martini?

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

I am fairly sure I was one of the first people to discover Pink Martini. Pink Martini the band from Portland, Oregon. I’ve had my share of martinis colored with drops of blood, too. But that is another story.

Pink Martini are so unbelievably great. They’ve only got one record, Sympathique. But that record is played all over the world, and has been since it came out in 1998ish. Just last month, when I was in New York, it was being played in a trendy restaurant. “Hey!” I told my friends. “Pink Martini! Have I ever told you about my Pink Martini Where Have You Heard Them Played Around the World Website Idea?” Of course they looked at me like I was totally insane.

Seriously, I think this is an idea right up there with Bookcrossing.com. Because you are probably as likely to hear Pink Martini in a cafe in Budapest, Santa Monica, Rome or Copenhagen, as you are to find a book at a pre-destined location. It’s true! When I was in New York, I swear, we heard Pink Martini AGAIN at another place the very next day. And this is six years after the record came out!

The reason Pink Martini is still being played, and at cool and trendy places, not to mention at my house right now, is because they are a band of hot percussionists and horn players (well, you wouldn’t know they are hot, but I do because I have seen them five times and I am telling you, they are) and a beautiful, sensuous singer named China Forbes. Well actually these are not the reasons they are being played, but they are good reasons to go and see the band. The REAL reasons they are being played after all these years, is that the record is beautiful, and rhythmic, both familiar and foreign, and besides being easy on the mind, makes your ears perk up and your legs tense, because you might want to dance soon. Only heard Doris Day sing “Che Sera Sera?” Check Pink Martini’s and China’s “Sera” out. Do you get off on “Bolero?” Well, you have to get this record. And it doesn’t get much better than “Song of the Black Lizard,” where China’s voice seems to morph into a trumpet solo that can only be called one thing – killer. As in so beautiful it will kill you.

I’ve seen them in the Great American Music Hall, when I could lick China’s shoe. I’ve seen them at the Hollywood Bowl, where I had to look through binoculars. But I’ve heard them all over the place. Someday I will start that website, and I’ll get more hits than this thing does.

The mega-carb diet

Friday, July 16th, 2004

Once, about a year ago, I tried a no-carb diet. I made it about five days, but then I started to feel really awful. My body was doing something funky. It’s hard to explain, but it was sort of like wanting to jump out of your skin. An uncomfortable pressure. I think it might be sort of like coming off heroin, which I’ve never done but I’ve seen it happen in the movies. It was a horrible feeling and the next day I ate a sandwich and some rolled tacos.

Yesterday, I was feeling very depressed because, once again, my horrible luck proved to be, well, horrible. Even the promise of the upcoming meet at Del Mar Racetrack next week couldn’t ease my sadness. I was just totally glum.

The day picked up a bit when I played Bocce Ball with friends and went out for a pizza after. We ate a bunch of pizza and drank a bunch of wine. Walking home, since the weather was hot and balmy, I decided to nurse my broken spirit with an ice cream.

Got home, and that feeling came back again. The no-carb feeling. But, I had eaten mega-carbs. The only thing that was missing was a Big-Gulp. I couldn?t sleep in bed, I couldn’t sleep on the couch. Some weird chemicals were going off in my bloodstream.

I finally slept, but I want to know what causes this. Am I just getting to the point age-wise where pizza and ice cream will cause me great pain and anxiety? Because if it is, I might as well hang it up.

Gradual Anal Psychosis 101

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

A few years ago, I worked for a time at the Williams Sonoma/Pottery Barn Call Center. I took orders for expensive cookware and rugs and sconces and things like that. The job didn’t pay much, but I got a 40% discount at Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn. At first I worked there because I needed money. Later I worked there because of the discount. I learned how to work the system, and after the cash crunch was over, worked one day a week or less. Really, the 40% discount didn’t do much for me, since I had little money to spend on hundred dollar salad bowls, even if they were almost half off. The discount came in very handy for my friends, however. It was always fun to go shopping with friends who wanted to buy full sets of All-Clad pans and Wustoff Knives. After they saved a few hundred dollars they were always ready to take me out to a Martini and Oyster lunch. There was one guy, not really a friend but one of those 90’s chubby tech guys who had a million dollars all of a sudden. I was sort of interested for a second until I took him to Williams Sonoma to outfit his new loft in South of Market. He bought thousands of dollars worth of stuff, from a $750 orange espresso maker to some green egg-cups with gold flecks. The guy was a buying machine. And after, he took me to a taco shop for lunch. Bitch! Needless to say that was the end of my interest. A taco shop? Dude, how about lunch at the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus? I just saved you Two Thousand Dollars! He ended up getting busted by the IRS for not sending in his payroll taxes and split town, but that was a few months after the burrito incident.

But I am way off track here. This is not what I meant to write about, at all. What I meant to write was, one day when I was working at the Call Center, I got a call from some dude who had all kinds of questions about furniture in the Pottery Barn catalog. He quizzed me down good, and I gave him all the info off the computer screens as best I could. He eventually thanked me and told me that he was actually the manufacturer of the furniture he was asking about. To me it seemed he was maybe a little anal, possibly psychotic, but mostly just wanted to sell some furniture. Whatever.

A few weeks later I got called into my supervisor’s office. SHE then proceeded to quiz me down (I was getting sick of being quizzed) and told me that one of their vendors had called in and talked to someone who was totally inefficient and lame and stupid, also worthless. That someone, according to the vendor, was ME.

Now, I was generally golden at Williams Sonoma – they loved me, and that is how I got away with hardly ever working and still getting a discount for so long. When they had reviews, I had the #1 review of anyone in the call center, and was told I could have a “big future” at Williams Sonoma. (“Does that mean I’ll get Seven Fifty an hour?” I said. “Eventually” they said.) So I was pretty shocked when I was interrogated about my dealings with the furniture freak.

It didn’t take me long in the interrogation before I sort of figured out what was going on. I remembered about the furniture, I remembered telling the guy my name. He had actually placed an order with whoever had pissed him off so bad, Supervisor told me. He hadn’t placed an order with me, he’d only quizzed me down.

“Well then.” I said. “Why don’t you look at the order and see who took it?”

This hadn’t occurred to the head honchos at Williams Sonoma before they called me in to the interrogation. And they looked at the order, on the computer, right there in front of me. Their faces got frownier than before.

“Well, uh, Shannon.” My supervisor said. “I guess it wasn?t you, because it says right here that Tatiana took his order.”

What a bunch of dumbshits. Even worse, was the guy who called and mixed me up with Tatiana. Furniture guy. Anal freak furniture guy.

What I’m really trying to get at here is, I have turned into anal freak furniture guy. My book is not selling very well right now, and I can’t figure out why. It was selling, before, but all of a sudden it stopped. I don?t know if it’s a normally slow time for travel books to be selling or what. But I am spending way too much time calling bookstores and looking at travel websites and trying to figure out ways to grovel.

I call a bookstore and ask whoever answers the phone if they have my book, and they either don’t care, or they don’t want to look, but mostly they say no. I have been known to go into bookstores and put my book on the shelf, for free. I can’t understand why Borders orders once, and sells the book, and doesn’t reorder. Don’t they want to have everything, all the time? I thought that was Borders thang. What person is insane enough to go to Venice without The Book? How come bookstores don?t know this? How did I become the anal furniture guy? Gradually, then suddenly. Just like the story ends.

It’s the little things that count

Sunday, July 11th, 2004

Today, a day of complete freedom – boyfriend gone for the day and night, nowhere to be, nothing to do. So what did I do? Clean out my closet, and mop my floors, in the early part of the day, while it was still foggy. Somehow, even with two huge garbage bags of clothes and shoes ready for the Goodwill, my closet is still full. I can’t figure it out. I’m not really a clothes buyer. How come I have all these evening dresses? It’s fairly bizarre.

Getting back to the cleaning, though, to help me on my way, I popped a bootleg of Radiohead’s South Park concert into my CD player, and this was the soundtrack of my Sunday journey. Even if I am cleaning, I am listening, at the same time, to a truly stellar show. Life in 2004 = pretty damn good.

The Radiohead South Park show was on July 7, 2001. South Park is in Oxford, England, Radiohead’s hometown. The band had taken a long break from touring, and this was their first show in Oxford in a long time, and the show was a huge deal to the local fans who had followed Radiohead since the beginning. And about 45,000 of those local fans turned up. 45,000!

I’d already seen Radiohead twice in the months before the Oxford show – once in L.A. when they played only three concerts in the Fall of 2000 (Toronto, New York & L.A.) and again in Verona, at the Verona Arena in May 2001. So I knew how fantastic it was all going to be before I heard this bootleg of the Oxford show. Radiohead in the studio makes music that you listen to lying on your couch, stoned, entranced. Radiohead on stage reaches out, grabs your spinal cord, and makes you jump around like a deranged puppet.

But this Oxford show is beyond fantastic. It is more like orgasm. Radiohead comes home, plays a hometown gig, before 45,000 screaming, ecstatic people. It is heart crushing for someone like me, who is just way too into it to begin with.

The South Park bootleg is two CDs, an hour long each. Two hours of bliss, but at the end, the final song, something happens that always makes me cry. No, not cry but totally break down. That is how powerful this moment is.

In 1993, Radiohead got their big break with the single “Creep.” People who don’t know who Radiohead is (like many of the people reading this right now) would probably recognize this song. It made Radiohead into the radio star, but the band got sick of drunken frat boys screaming “play ‘Creep!'” at shows and after a while, refused to play it anymore. (Even though it is a really GREAT song.)

Fast forward to the South Park show, when after the two hours of bliss, the band were about to depart with a song called “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” a mellow, sweet love song. After ten seconds, they stop and Thom Yorke, the lead singer, yells “Fuck It!” After a minute, they launch into “Creep.” After years of not playing it.

Those 45,000 people go Totally Insane. The noise is like the roar of a thousand lions on Ecstasy. It is an incredibly beautiful sound – 45,000 people, all so totally happy. At that point, it was raining on them, but they could not have cared less.

And they were singing. They sing along all the way through the show, but they are louder here than ever – it’s as though Thom Yorke doesn’t even need to bother. They – the mass of people and the band – sing together:

I wish I were special
You’re so fucking special

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

But they all DO belong where they are at that moment. Sharing an evening of bliss with a LOT of other people, with a band who really cares. I had to sit down on the floor once again at the end of the CD and cry.

The house clean, and my tears dried, I went down to the beach and watched the ocean in silence for awhile. Thinking about the noise of the crowd, the whole time.

The Luck of the Draw

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004

I am not one of those people whose name or number is always drawn out of the hat. I mean, raffles, bingo, the California State Lottery. I am OK at games of skill like video poker and betting on the ponies, but if it has anything to do with randomness, my number won’t be pulled.

On the first Wednesday of every month, there is a raffle at my local farmers market, with giveaways of gourmet salsa and smoked fish, and every time I say “why do I want to stand there and be cheated, once again, out of that bag of blood oranges.” Still, every time, I go. I never win. There is one woman there every week, who drives around the neighborhood in a pink dune buggy thing with her bouffant white hair-do blowing in the wind. She always wins. Always! She is one of those people whose number always gets picked out of the hat.

OK, I did win once, on a rainy day when no one else was there. I won a bratwurst on the very day I had started a diet.

Sometimes the not winning is a big fat plus. Like today. My number did not get pulled out of the hat. But today, I had jury duty, and walked away from that lottery with a big smile on my face.

Jury duty is weird. You are stuck with all these people in a big room for most of the day, and once in a while someone gets on the loudspeaker and calls off names and you can see everyone get nervous. After the third or so calling-of-the-names, all the people left waiting look at each other uncomfortably, because the chance of getting selected out of the sixty remaining people is a lot higher than it was in the morning when there were 200 people there.

It’s also so trippy to watch people, hour after hour. For instance, the cell phone people. These are the people who really can’t stop talking, ever. Why is it that people who talk constantly on cell phones are more obnoxious than most? Is it because they talk louder, or what they talk about (nothing?) When I talk on my cell phone, I hide my face and lower my voice and am furtive, if not slightly embarrassed. To me, talking on a cell phone is right up there with getting caught with a Rick Steves book somewhere.

Anyway, today at jury duty, there was a woman who, I swear, called eighty people while in the Juror’s Lounge, one after the other. Occasionally she’d get through. Mostly, she left a lot of messages. I was trying to read my “Story of Spain” book. So this is the scenario. I am reading:

After about 40,000 BC or so something profound was happening to human culture, not only in things like tool-making but the probable invention of language, which allowed cultural transmission on an unprecedented scale. INTERRUPTION. “HELLO. Gail? This is JOANIE! I’m at JURY DUTY! Can you BELIEVE? I’m REALLY bored! Oh? You’re at WORK? You can’t TALK? OK then, BYE!”

I take a breath, read some more:

In contrast to the painfully slow development of the Old Stone Age- INTERRUPTION. “Hi Brandi! This is JOANIE! I’m at JURY DUTY! Where are YOU? I’m SO BORED!” the innovations of the new era arrived at breakneck speed “COURTNEEEYYY! This is JOAAANNIIEEE! I’m at JURY DUTTEEE!!!!” within the span of three millennia, the blink of “AMY!” an “DEBBIE!” eye in prehistoric “LINDIE!!!” time.

Thankfully, my number did not get called and then at 11:30 they let us out for a two hour lunch. Upon returning, we sat for one half hour and then were let go. Joanie did not get on her phone again (perhaps the battery was dead, or she was out of time). As much as I say I’d be willing to sit on a jury, I am always glad for the escape, and it is at these times I am happy not to be a winner of the lottery.

Super Sleepy Blog

Monday, July 5th, 2004

It’s not even 5:00 P.M. and I am already exhausted. The good times are killing me – again. I am cooking a chicken and I am going to make a pot-pie, then I am going to pass out.

Yesterday there were something like five million people here. On the beach, you couldn’t even take a step without kicking someone in the head. It was a weird day. I was in a weird mood, my boyfriend was in a weird mood. It’s a holiday thing I think. We went to his sisters house, and hung out by the pool with sister, sister’s girlfriend, brother, brother’s wife and rugrats, and Shelly & Missy, happeners upon happenstance. I was feeling beyond pissy, but managed to cope, and then we all decided to walk down to the beach.

The next event was significant in many ways. What was the event? It’s sort of freaky, sort of embarrassing, and sort of totally pissed me off. Basically, I got hassled by the cops. And this is the second time in Two Weeks that this has happened to me. Three, if you count getting pulled over for doing 31 MPH in a 25 MPH zone, but that was a few months ago.

We were walking, and it is true, I had a cocktail in my hand. But this is freaking Ocean Beach, where I have seen guys carrying signs that say “I have pot for sale.” The cops saw us, all carrying drinks, and walked right up to me. Me! Why not someone else? I used to be a geek-magnet – now I am a cop-magnet. There was a tall, skinny guy cop and a short, slender, blond chick cop.

Man, thinking back now I am so lucky nothing truly bad happened, because I immediately had a chip on my shoulder and so did Mizz Blond Thing. I am so lucky, because they have the power to take me down, and in other parts of the country they would have done it.

But I am sorry – I have total respect for our police force but they pissed me off. For one thing, carrying a drink on the street seems to me to be a bit of an awkward offense. Who cares? Also, MBT starting shouting “got ID? got ID?” at everybody, but then when we said, uh, sure, she didn’t look at it. Furthermore, after I looked her straight in the eye, told her I lived here, and what the fuck??? she told me one of our party was drunk (doy – like the other 8.99999 million people in OB) and was I going to take care of the drunk one? Then, after I stupidly Touched Her Shoulder, assuring her no more wrong would be done, both of the cops went into Fucking Starbucks. Starbucks! No more donuts, only maple scones.

The cool thing about this incident was I was so annoyed about the intrusion that I forgot about what a bad mood I was in, and the rest of the day was great. Fireworks over the ocean, a bottle of incredible wine (because it is legal to drink it on the beach – just not on the street)…

Today was a rough day and I was very careful not to get into any potentially hazardous situations. Some pot-pie should cure my physical ills, but I’m not sure I’ll recover from Getting Busted so rapidly.

The Great Divide

Sunday, July 4th, 2004

Once, after I had been living in Venice for some months, I ran into a Venetian friend on a cold winter day. I was wearing a beanie, and I guess some other items that made me stand out, because my friend said “Shannon, you look so American today.”

I said to him, “I AM an American.” Which I was then, and I am now. And I’ll forever be. Because you can’t change what you are, and even if I could I wouldn’t want to.

I feel so lucky sometimes, to have been born and brought up in California, because it is beautiful here, and I grew up loving the land. I know I have been blessed, to be born in America, if only because there is opportunity here, and if you work hard, you can make a good life for yourself. I know this is not the only country where this is possible, but it is all I have known. It is a lot easier for an Italian to come here, and to work and to live and even to own a business, than it is for me to even get a visa to live in Italy for a few months.

Lots of things about America frighten me. Our power, the way we toss it around. The right wing, and sometimes the left wing. The fact that we are not One Nation any more, but a nation of those who believe vs. those who don’t. The cost of health care and education. The fact that there are a gazillion Americans who don’t have enough to eat. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and in fact have gone hungry before, and I can tell you, it really sucks.

But what do I do about any of it? I was donating money to some homeless shelter here until I found out they made people read the Bible in order to eat. Now I do nothing. NOTHING. And I always tell myself, pretty soon I am going to start doing something.

So, on this day of celebration, I’ll tell myself again, and maybe this time, I actually will do something to give back to the place that has given me so much.