The Venessa Solution

I’d created Cheryl McCray as sort of placeholder Sim. I wanted her to occupy my favorite apartment. I wanted her to be a semi-NPC.

But Cheryl took off with a life of her own. She became an interesting character. She was occupying more of my game play than I’d planned. She became one of my main Sims. I envisioned her being an independent character, happy in her small apartment, with her Critic career, and maybe with a nice, casual boyfriend. I also wanted to give Cheryl free reign, and let the game play follow her whims.

Cheryl McCray

Then Venessa Jeong showed up.

Venessa Jeong

Somehow, Venessa found her way into Cheryl’s romantic life, just as Venessa had found her way into the romantic lives of Hope Downing and Kirsten Behr-Downing.

Cheryl and Venessa’s romance and friendship bars maxed out.

The happy couple being romantic at The Romance Festival

Soon, Venessa was practically living in Cheryl’s apartment.

“I need to go to work in an hour, Venessa. You can let yourself out.”

I’d given Cheryl free reign, and I’d said that game play would follow her whims. This was what Cheryl McCray obviously wanted, but I wasn’t happy with it. I was getting tired of Venessa Jeong showing up, first putting a strain on Hope’s marriage, and then dating Hope’s daughter, and now taking over Cheryl’s life. Venessa was an NPC, and she was not aging, and I knew she would continue moving into the lives of Sim after Sim. I needed to find a solution.

I considered having Cheryl revoke Venessa’s apartment key, telling her she wants to be just friends, and maybe even having mean interactions, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Besides, I knew Venessa would just show up in some other Sim’s life.

I moved Venessa out of her Del Sol Valley house, and into Cheryl’s apartment. Venessa Jeong is no longer an NPC.

Cheryl is a 3-star painter. Venessa is a 1-star actor.

Of course, now that Venessa Jeong is an active Sim, I now have a Sim in the Acting career. I’d never played the Acting career before, despite having the Get Famous expansion pack since it came out last November.

Venessa in a blond wig

I was back to following Cheryl’s whims. When it became obvious that Cheryl wanted to propose to Venessa, I set the proposal into action. Venessa said yes.

A proposal in the bathroom

Cheryl McCray and Venessa Jeong had a small wedding in their Spice Market apartment, with a few of their closest friends.

At the reception, immediately following the wedding, Cheryl caught Venessa flirting with Chanie Bauer. Cheryl stayed angry for 17 hours.

I hope you know what you’re doing, Cheryl.

A New Location, And A Way To Get There

Phillip and I went to a Combined Fund Drive award ceremony this evening. As usual, he drove there directly from work and helped set things up, and I met up with him.

As usual, the ceremony was in a new location (it changes every year), which gave me the challenge of figuring out how to get there – which I actually enjoy.

The event this evening was at The Mountaineers center in Magnuson Park. It turned out to be very easy to get there on public transit.

I stayed on Link light rail from Pioneer Square Station to University of Washington Station. Then I walked over the bridge, onto the UW campus, and had a 6-minute wait for a 75 bus at one of the prettiest bus stops in the city, near the Forestry Sciences building, and across from the Medicinal Herb Garden.

The 75 is a real workhorse of a route. It was standing room only the whole trip, despite the bus running every ten minutes. It made frequent stops, with people both exiting and boarding.

I exited at 74th Street, at the main gate of the former Navy base. I had a 5-minute walk to The Mountaineers. (It was only after the event that I discovered that there is a bus stop right in front of The Mountaineers. Oh, well. It was nice evening for a walk.)

It was a nice awards ceremony, starting with a presentation from The Mountaineers about its history and what it does. The ceremony had a Hawaiian theme this year, with a nice Hawaiian barbecue buffet. Our office had a well-stocked taco bar today, so I didn’t eat much at the CFD event.

We drove home together after the event.

It was a fun evening.

A Book That Takes Place In A Single Day

Saturday, by Ian McEwan, was published in 2005.

I downloaded it from the Seattle Public Library.

The first sentence is: “Some hours before dawn Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, wakes to find himself already in motion, pushing back the covers from a sitting position, and then rising to his feet.

This novel follows a Saturday in the life of a middle-aged surgeon named Henry Perowne. He wakes up too early. He looks at the details of the Central London neighborhood outside of his window.

He thinks about the surgeries he’d performed during the week. He thinks about his children. He thinks about Rosalind, his wife, still asleep in bed.

He sees a comet, and is about to wake his wife, so she can see it, too. Then he realizes it isn’t a comet. It’s an airplane, partially on fire, making an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport. He decides against waking his wife.

Henry goes into the kitchen, and finds Theo, his son. Henry tells Theo about the airplane. Theo turns on the news. There are large anti-war demonstrations planned today, in cities around the world, including London. There’s nothing about the airplane yet. Father and son wonder if it was an act of terrorism.

Henry goes back to bed and falls asleep, until Rosalind’s alarm clock wakes him up. She has to go to work today. Henry continues watching people in the square outside.

He thinks about a patient, a university professor, who had been tortured by Iraqi officials without knowing the crimes against him.

Henry Perowne goes about his day. He gets in a traffic accident. He gets mugged. He plays squash with a friend. He goes shopping. He calls his wife. He visits his mother. He watches Theo’s blues band’s rehearsal. The anti-war march is going on around him. He sees updated news reports about that emergency landing at Heathrow.

Henry is home alone, cooking dinner, when Daisy, his daughter, comes home after six months away. Daisy had stopped to join the demonstration in Hyde Park on her way home. Father and daughter debate the Iraqi war.

Something shocking happens after this, but I won’t spoil it.

Mister Henry Perowne is an interesting character. He’s an accomplished and respected surgeon. His wife and children love him, and he loves them. He has a good life. And yet, he feels that his life is not enough. He feels that he would have a greater sense of satisfaction if he was an artist, like his son, the musician, or his daughter, the poet, rather than merely a “craftsman”.

There’s a lot I should have loved about this novel. It’s character-driven. It has more inner monologues than action. It’s a rambling story that seems to be about nothing, or could be about something – if I analyzed it enough. It’s my favorite kind of novel, in other words. I enjoyed the descriptive writing and character development.

But I didn’t love it.

There are many extended flashbacks – Henry Perowne remembering how he met his wife, remembering his childhood, remembering the surgeries he’s performed. They last for so many pages, cover so much time, that I often lost the illusion that I was reading a story that takes place in a single day.

I don’t know (yet) if the author used to be a neurosurgeon, or if he did a lot of research, or if he’s just good at making things up, but the surgery scenes felt unnecessarily detailed. These scenes name every specific instrument used, explain the job function of every person in the operating room, and name every piece of anatomy encountered. These scenes cover every single step of the procedure, and every single technical term used in every procedure. It didn’t know whether there was a point to all of this detail, or whether the author was merely showing off.

Many of the synopses I read for Saturday, when I was looking for a book to fit this Reading Challenge prompt, said that the story takes place on Saturday, February 15, 2003 – the date of the London demonstration against the United States’ invasion of Iraq, one of the largest demonstrations in London history. For a while, I thought I would be clever and download the book on February 15. Ultimately, I decided the idea wasn’t all that clever, and dropped it. It didn’t matter, really, since there was no mention of the date at all in the story – just that it was a chilly Saturday in February. Maybe if I’d read this book in 2005, and knew more about London, the date would have been obvious. Maybe I would have been better off not knowing that there was supposed to be a specific Saturday. Maybe this bothered me more that it should have.

I liked this book. I just wish I liked it more than I did.

The Scene Of The Crime

A few years ago, Phillip wrote the words “Anthem Cherry” on our white board. Time went by, and either he couldn’t find Anthem Cherry cider or he forgot to look for it. The words remained on the white board.

Last Saturday night, he found a bottle of Anthem Cherry cider at Thomas Street Market. It was the bottle of cider that broke when I dropped the shopping bag.

The shopping bag was one that Phillip had acquired at a Combined Fund Drive event. Phillip insists that the bag was coming apart at the seams, and it was only a matter of time when it would have been thrown out.

On my way home from work today, I stopped into Thomas Street Market, bought a bottle of Anthem Cherry cider, and hid it in the kitchen. Phillip has found it.

Meanwhile, in The Sims 4, I was stuck in the Strangerville mystery. I knew, basically, what I had to do to return the town to normal, and turn it back into just another Sims neighborhood. But nothing was working.

I’d been searching the forums, and watching YouTube videos, to see what I was missing. I was also searching for a cheat code to just end the mystery.

This past Sunday, I showed Phillip what was happening with the game, and how it wasn’t cooperating. Phillip asked me what would happen if I returned to the lab. That turned out to be exactly what I needed to do.

The Strangerville mystery is over. The town is back to normal. I don’t want to replay the story.

Remember The Snow?

Our plan for today was a trip to the laundromat.

However, we woke up to a hot apartment. We don’t have air conditioning, and our fans weren’t helping much. We knew the laundromat would be even hotter.

Phillip suggested an air-conditioned movie theater instead.

We rode a 47 bus to Downtown, and saw Captive State at Pacific Place.

We both loved the movie – thrilling, thought-provoking, and well-written.

After the movie, we had dinner at Johnny Rockets. Then we rode Link light rail home.

We’ll try to get laundry done tonight, in the apartment building laundry room.

A Book About A Family

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir, by Thi Bui, was originally published in 2017. It is a graphic novel.

I borrowed it from the Seattle Public Library.

The first line of dialog is: “How do you get it to do that, Việt?

The book begins in July, 2017, with Thi Bui having a conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer. She’s hoping to “glean some wisdom” from him.

Next, the book presents a political history of Vietnam, from Chinese rule in 111 BC to the fall of Saigon in 1975, on two pages.

(The book uses traditional Vietnamese spellings throughout, such as Sài Gòn and Việt Nam. The current WordPress editor makes writing non-English characters difficult – more difficult than the previous editor – so I’m going to stick to English spellings, except for direct quotes.)

The story starts in Methodist Hospital, in New York, in 2005. Thi is giving birth to her first child, a boy. She has a “terrible” thought: “Family is now something I have created – And not just something I was born into.

The story then jumps around in time. Thi is living in Berkley, California, in 2015. In 1999, she’s leaving San Diego to live with her boyfriend in New York, and to be an artist, with her mother’s disapproval. In 1993, Thi’s sister Lan moves in with her boyfriend to attend medical school in Minnesota, with her mother’s disapproval. In San Diego, in 1987, Thi’s other sister Bich is secretly seeing her boyfriend – until her mother finds out.

Bich: “It’s pronounced BICK, okay?

Thi realizes that her family is falling apart. So, in 2006, she, her husband, and their son, move from New York to California, to be close to her family. She discovers that “proximity and closeness are not the same.

Thi Bui decides to write a memoir. She interviews her parents, now separated but remaining friends, and learns their life stories. “…if I could see Việt Nam as a real place, and not a symbol of something lost… I could see my parents as real people… and learn to love them better.

The Best We Could Do is that memoir.

This book is beautifully illustrated. It’s gorgeous, even when the subject matter is not. The style is understated, with just the right amount of detail, with a simple brown, black, and white palette.

The Best We Could Do is a story of a family. It’s the oral history of two people – Thi Bui’s parents – and how they once lead separate lives, how they met, and how they lead separate lives again.

It’s a personal history of Vietnam, under French rule, then during the communist revolution, and then as a divided country, ruled by the Việt Minh in the north, and occupied by the Americans in the south.

Thi Bui was born three months before South Vietnam lost the war. Her mother was eight months pregnant when her father bought passage for the family on a boat to Malaysia, in order to escape the North Vietnamese Communists. Through charity from The Red Cross and the Catholic Church, Thi Bui’s family was able to be flown to America. Then they became American citizens.

The Best We Could Do is a beautiful and emotional story. I loved it.

A Night Out

Yesterday, Phillip and I met up after work and had drinks at C.C. Attle’s. After drinks, we went to Carmelos for tacos to go.

I don’t remember much after that. I barely remember Carmelos.

We must have stopped into Thomas Street Market, because I do remember me dropping the bag containing two bottles of cider that Phillip bought. One bottle survived, but the other did not. Phillip’s shopping bag was probably tossed out with the broken bottle, since I didn’t see it the next morning. There was a half-empty can of Sprig on the coffee table the next morning. I remember that I drank the other half, but I don’t know if Phillip bought it or I did.

I must have eaten my tacos last night, because I found the empty plates in our kitchen the next morning.

This afternoon, we walked up to Broadway for lunch at Teriyaki & Wok. It has suddenly become light jacket weather on Capitol Hill.

We discovered that Teriyaki & Wok is now closed on Saturdays. That must have happened recently.

Phillip suggested that we go see what’s in The Alley. There, we found Kimchi Bistro, and had a nice lunch.

Yook Gae Udon

It’s been a lazy Saturday.

Welcome To Hartsdale and West Hartsdale

Hartsdale is an industry town.

Hartsdale is known for its profitable timber industry, and well as many manufacturing plants.

Hartsdale’s football team may not have the best record of wins, but its fans are loyal.

Across the highway from Hartsdale is the city of West Hartsdale.

Hartsdale has a football stadium, and a popular concert venue, but West Hartsdale has museums, an opera house, and an exhibition hall. It has world class hotels and an active nightlife.

West Hartsdale has the famous amusement park, Big Happy Town.

For those wishing a rest from the parties and thrill rides, West Hartsdale also features the natural landscaping of its four-star city park, Bedford Park.