Sunday, December 16, 2007

The weekend

I had wanted to leave work early on Wednesday for a few hours with the family before boarding a plane for Peoria, but I had a late meeting with a client in the edit suite. The flight down was quick, the ride in the cold, clear night aboard a twin propeller puddle jumper smooth. I sat alone, my traveling companion a few seats ahead. He is a year older then me, an independent contractor, a middle-man who negotiated the details of this particular job.

The airport in Peoria is small - intimate. Deserted. We rent a car, find our camera equipment, search for our hotel in the darkness. A few wrong turns.

I am alone in my room, which has a small kitchen. It is unbearably hot. I lie in my boxers on the bed, only to realize I have left all my toiletries in the car. Rather than locating my co-worker, I fight with a vending machine for a bottle of shampoo.

I stay up late watching a movie that makes me so angry that I watch all the credits to determine who directed the film. Romeo is Bleeding is such a bleak and violent and numbing film that I vow to write a letter to the director when I get home. (I looked him up, but now just pity him, based on his track record.)

I wake often, as is the case when I know I must be somewhere early. We meet our contact at 7am in a Bob Evans restaurant, where the pancakes are so ridiculously big that I cannot finish them with a clear conscience. Our contact is about my age, thin, a company man. Wears a jacket, hat and belt buckle sporting the company logo.

We drive to the facility where we are supposed to get shots of large pieces of equipment in motion. Most of the day will be spent shooting in a large aircraft hanger-sized "shed" instead of out in the cold, which I have no problem with.

Our first task is to outfit the equipment with new logos. We find some scrapers to remove the existing logos and chip and scrub and paint. We prepare the shooting location by planting a huge tree stump in the dirt floor of the "shed." We film a piece of equipment demolish the tree stump in a flurry of wood chips and smoke and dust. We film another machine as it grinds up a huge concrete slab we have buried in the red dirt. I am sweating, yelling directions to the operator.

Lunch. Four hours until we fly back home. We pound down the food and rush back for the remaining hours, fixing broken machines, shooting outside, demoing some simulators, getting shots from up high in a cherry picker.

It is time to go. We say a quick goodbye and are back at the airport fifteen minutes later, where we quickly board the flight home. We have the same stewardess, who remembers me.

There were a few moments during the shoot where I stood alone in the enormous "shed", surrounded by noise and machines and shouting people when I wondered if God was in the moment, was present, cared. Did what I was doing matter?

I got home at 9pm and was greeted with "Daddy!" from Silvi's room. She was jumping up and down in her crib; what a wonderful greeting. Needless to say, she slept in our bed that night. She was entirely too excited go back to her room.

Friday morning and I was back in the edit suite early. I had an 11am deadline to get a 10-minute video up on our FTP site for the client to review with the powers that be. It was a race against the clock, and I finished with only minutes to spare, while have to cut a few corners.

I went to lunch with a few of the guys at work, only to receive a frantic call on the cell phone from my boss, saying they were having problems downloading the video on the client's end. I talked them through it over the phone; Friday's are Chinese buffet lunches and I wasn't about to interrupt that for a trip back to the office.

The client called at two and questioned the shortcuts I had taken. I explained that the final video would be polished and that I had already addressed the issue. A few other changes, and I put the final video back on the FTP site. I started another project, a dvd with a complicated menu that I must program. But I am exhausted from the shoot on Thursday and leave work early.

I stop on the way home for pizza and three movies from Blockbuster; Who is Camus, Anyway?, When Nietzsche Wept and Oceans 13. I watch the Nietzsche film first and end up fast forwarding most of it. It is based on a book by the same name that I really liked, and is a melodramatic mess and disappointing. I start the Camus film while Annie is feeding Ian and fall asleep halfway through.

Saturday is wall-to-wall activities. Annie and her sisters are decorating cookies at her parents, and so I take Silvi for one of our cultural outings. One of my greatest desires for her is that she will experience different cultures. I take her to a mixed neighborhood which is comprised largely of people from India and the Middle East. We eat in a wonderful deli that is part grocery store and is frequented by immigrants from the Middle East. Rice and curry and potatoes and passion fruit and yogurt with a soap opera in Arabic blaring in the background. A prayer room and call to prayer over the loudspeakers. Silvi seems to enjoy these outings. I hope they stay with her.

Nap time, and then a walk to the church up the street where Silvi is practicing for her part as a lamb in the Christmas pageant. Her costume is adorable. She is shy and does not want to participate at first. But after a few songs, she forgets about the larger kids with staffs that are being swung about like lightsabers.

The Christmas pageant is in the Episcopal Church where Annie works one day a week, taking care of the children and helping make ends meet. It is the perfect part-time job as it is only a block away and Silvi and Ian can accompany her and have fun playing with the other kids.

After rehearsal, we drive over to Annie's parents for supper and an early celebration for those who will be out of town over the holidays. The house is overrun with screaming kids, who love to run the loop from the dining room, through the kitchen and into the living room. Over and over and over. Each lap louder than the previous one.

We eat the decorated cookies and have leftovers from Thanksgiving. (surprisingly good for being frozen so long) Then home for the night, where I try to finish my Camus movie, to no avail. The title is very misleading, since it is a Japanese film about the youth culture, which would have been fine but I thought it was a documentary for some reason. I fell asleep around 8:30.

This morning was the rush to get to the church for the pageant, where we were met by my parents and Annie's brother and sister and her husband and kids. Silvi did great for most of her "performance" and I got some excellent video footage of her with her finger halfway up her nose. Numerous times. Annie finally went up and motioned for Silvi to come down off the stage as it was evident that she was DONE and the stage director(s) were having a hard time continuing to convince Silvi to stay.

She was definitely the cutest girl up there, nose picking and all.

Lunch down the street at Famous Dave's BBQ. Naps. We all slept in our bed this afternoon. Even George, our cat, slept at the foot of the bed.

Then another daddy-daughter date. I took Silvi to see The Golden Compass, which she seemed to really enjoy, "mean monkey" and all. I debated not taking her because I knew it would have some scary moments, but she seems to be taken with scary things. I was watching Jurassic Park one day and she wandered through and absolutely loved it. (I fast forwarded the more gory scenes.) Another one of my desires for Silvi is that she will develop a love of different viewpoints and perspectives. I had heard that The Golden Compass was kind of the anti-Narnia; the film is based on the best-selling books by an outspoken atheist who, according to the news article I read, has a strong aversion to C.S. Lewis' stories and perspective.

You might be surprised at the questions a two-and-a-half year old will ask. "Daddy, why was the monkey being mean?"
"Well, some people are just bad."
"That's a good question, babe. Some people are hurt inside, so they act bad to try to keep from being hurt anymore."
"Why are they hurt inside?"

You can see that her young mind was really stretching her dad's ability to answer some of life's most difficult questions. I need to read the books to understand what the author is asserting, but the representation of organized religion in the film were both accurate and caricatures in the same breath. I enjoyed the film, and will have to mull it over before commenting further.

I'm at the coffee shop around the corner from our place. Jazz is playing on the speakers. I just had a chai latte. It's 9pm on the dot, and I'm going home to watch Ocean's 13 for the first time.



amber said...

All that, and all I came away with was, "Tom! You took Silvi to see The Golden Compass!? We won't even let Seth see that movie! He's 10!!"...

Wish we could have seen the little lamb:)

Glad you had a safe trip.

The kids say hi Uncle Tom.

SunflowerMom said...

I love your daddy/daughter trips! I agree, you are making wonderful lasting memories for her and she will have a broader view of the world she lives in.

The lamb bit is priceless, though! I hope you share that clip!

Kim Ayres said...

I took Rogan to see The Golden Compass on Saturday. He's 12 and I read him the trilogy earlier this year. I thought it was visually stunning.

There are far more layers in the book than the film, of course, but it wasn't a bad representation.

Personally I absolutely loved the trilogy. I thought it was one of the best sets of books I've ever read. Whether you agree with him religiously of not, they are fantastically thought through, very well written, and are a brilliant adventure.

I don't think reading the books, or seeing the film is likely to change anyone's religious beliefs though, any more than the Narnia books would. If you like the story you like the story. If you already believe, you can find parallels to enjoy, and if you don't they will not convert you.

But without a doubt, a world of nose-picking lambs is definitely a great one to inhabit

Tom said...

Amber: Silvi also like Schindler's List. Just kidding.

I'm sure as Silvi gets older I'll be more selective but right now she's more interested in counting the remaining Scittles in her hand than the plot. She did like the monkey and the bear a lot. After watching Jurassic Park, I said, "So you know there are no dinosaurs outside that want to get you, right?"

"It's just pretend, Dad..."

Like, duh.

Sunflower: She seems to be enjoying our outings. And I'll post the video clip one of these days.. baa..rry funny. :)

Kim: I've been meaning to read at least one of the books, just to see what all the hub bub is about. I can usually enjoy any well written tale, despite disagreeing with the assertions or content. (Atlas Shrugged, for instance)

I hope Silvi will share my enthusiasums.

Kim Ayres said...

You do kind of need to read them in order, otherwise they won't make a great deal of sense, athough the more anti-authoritarian-religions aspect of it becomes clearer as the story progresses into the 3rd book. But if you just leapt into the 3rd book, you would lose the context.

Tom said...

Kim: I'll keep that in mind... thanks.

Anonymous said...

What you are doing matters. Joe is in the process of learning to do something that he loves so that he can leave something that he loathes. You both work so your families can eat and be clothed. There is a lot to respect in that, even as we all strive for better ways.

And my boys would totally be the shephards using staffs as lightsabers. :>