This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Omaha: The Highlights

With holiday trips as they are, and my visits back to Omaha being more infrequent than I'd like them to be, I had to think of priorities, must-sees, must-dos, and must eats.
Here's the quick run-down of some of my faves:

*Pear's Coffee --
locally-owned and available at every Omaha grocery store. (Cozy Caramel...hint, hint.)

*The Greek Islands -- Go! Drop everything and go! I'm not kidding...I have dreams of The Greek Island's dinners with fresh Feta and kalamata olives. My family's been going there since I was a kid, so a meal there is an ultimate priority, any and every time I'm in Omaha!
The Greek Islands Restaurant- 3821 Center Street, Omaha NE 68105 - 402-346-1528

*The Old Market -- The best place to traipse around with no particular purpose, buy awesome postcards depicting the undiscovered beauties of I-80 (??) and expose your inner geek for awesome architecture. I took way too many photos of cool buildings than I'd like to admit. Had it not been frigid, I would've indulged my love of ice cream at the nearby Ted & Wally's or Maggie Moo's, but that's for another time.

*The Keystone Walking Trail -- My trip wouldn't be complete without a walk down this trail where you can see Canadian geese congregating and the occasional deer searching for the remainders of undeveloped South Omaha land (thanks to a new Wal-mart and its nationally-recognized, strip mall followers...) Keystone Trail - Bellevue Loop.
*Ice-Skating At the Old Hitchcock Park -- (now called Motto McLean Ice Arena.) I spent 2 hours indulging my inner Olympian on the very ice where I originally learned to ice-skate. The entire rink, the virgin ice, was all mine and I mean all mine since I was the only one who showed up for that morning's public-skate session.

*Dollar General Store -- Now, I wouldn't necessarily call this a highlight especially considering how spoiled I am with So. Cal's 99 Cents Stores but for my grandmother, it was a definite highlight. Her excitement for plastic products never ceases to amaze me. Rubbermaid or Glade? If only my daily life choices were that easy...Even after 2 sleep-inducing hours amongst the Dollar's aisles and a nearly constant need to bang my head against the wall, I suppose I'd have to agree that it was indeed a highlight of sorts-- if for no other reason than I got to spend the time with my grandmother.

Photo by Kendra Liedle "Bridge To Bellevue" -- taken along the Keystone Trail in Southern Omaha.
Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

The Holiday Run-Down: A Visit To Omaha

The only way to truly remember every day of your life is to write it down. That's exactly what I've done every single day for the past 3 years now. My trip to Omaha was no exception.

Sure, everything else was off-kilter: I stayed up all hours of the night going through old yearbooks and autograph collections (Barbara Mandrell?? must've been a phase), ate out nearly every day, and in-between times, made full meals of almond bark and pumpkin-pecan pie swished down with sips of yummy shiraz or Omaha's own, Pear's coffee, depending on the time of day. (My nutritional status has never been more festive!)

But throughout all that mish-mash, my routine for daily writing never wavered and my Omaha writings are even highlighted with random photos of moments along the way. My snapshot of this woman in the window, taken in the Downtown Old Market area of Omaha during a particularly FRIGID afternoon last week is a clear example of that.

Photo by Kendra Liedle - "Woman In The Window" - Omaha's Downtown Old Market
Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Nearly White Christmas

I arrived back in L.A. close to midnight, with one foot still on Christmas Eve time and one foot gingerly touching the early morning hours of Christmas Day. After I stumbled inside my place, I crashed and slept (uninterrupted) for an amazing 12 hours! I didn't wake up to Christmas again until just about 1:00 p.m. Pacific unlike me. (It was a torturous and exhausting trip back, which I'll detail later.)

With nine full days of winter weather in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska and temps in the 20s (F), I believe I got a hefty helping of mitten-worthy weather and perfectly-powdery snowball-making snow. I even got my photo taken with Santa...sure I'm an adult... but why the hell not? I was in the local Mangelson's craft store and Santa looked bored. ( I apologize to my friend, Angela, for coercing her into joining me for the Santa photo-op.)

It wouldn't be the last time for a photo-op. I admit, I went full-out, camera-happy in the town I used to call home. It's amazing how after even the briefest time away, all that was old is new again...the ordinary becomes extraordinary...

A look down a snow-covered walking trail in South Omaha suddenly becomes irresistibly alluring, despite the cold...

More to come...Happy Holidays To Everyone!!!

Panoramic Photo by Kendra Liedle
*Southern section of Omaha's Keystone Trail along Harrison Street ~ just a short walk from the neighborhood where I grew up.
Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sliding In My Socks Through LAX...and hoping for a miracle

I've never flown home so close to the holidays. Somehow, I thought the true insanity of holiday travel was exaggerated for effect--like a Christmas fable handed down from generation to generation. It's probably inconvenient, but it can't be that bad...but I believed the fable enough to avoid holiday travel until now. I "thought" that ten days before Christmas, I'd be okay getting up at 3:30 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. flight, since I wasn't checking baggage.
Not so.

The holiday travel insanity is no joke! Especially at places like Los Angeles International Airport (aka LAX) ~ particularly at 5 a.m. on a Saturday--ten days before Chrismas. The self-service check-in line was at least 150 people thick... !!!! The airline personnel was not exactly helpful (nor friendly) and I was irrated to see about 10 "self-service" computers down. Grr..

By the time I got through the stupid check-in line, my flight was already boarding. I began seriously contemplating the possibility of missing my flight, and therefore my connection in Dallas...etc, etc...but I remained hopeful. It wasn't last call on my flight--the cabin was still open--

I fumbled my way through security and just starting f****ing running--in my socks--not bothering to put my shoes back on after security. I slid right into my gate and made it! Miracles do happen!

I'm here. Made it to Omaha...and the weather's not really all that awful. Cold? You betcha, but it's alright. Plus, it's been three years since I've seen snow--the soft, powdery kind--and I have to admit, it's visit...

Friday, December 14, 2007

"You picked the wrong time to come to Omaha," my brother says...

One way in which you can manipulate time and space is by re-visiting the place in which you grew up.

In a way, it's like entering another dimension. For me, that place is Omaha.

Though I spent the majority of my life there, it feels like a world away. Warm in a familiar, deja vu way, but cold in a way that whispers in your ear that you don't really fit--not so much--anymore.

Tomorrow, I'll fly there. I'll pack up as little as humanly possible, yet enough to get by, and hope to hell that there are lots and lots of heavy winter coats and sweaters and mittens to get me through. My own brother says, "You picked the wrong time to come to Omaha," as though I needed such positive encouragement.

After six years of L.A. winters, I'm not looking forward to freezing, nor am I really prepared. My Omaha treks usually occur in September~ for a reason. The current Omaha weather forecast alone is enough to make me cry, and the idea of existing in that climate for several days is enough to make me wear the ugliest, embroidered, hand-me-down, thrift shop Christmas sweater there is. (I don't care what I look like; I just want to be warm.)

And that's the beauty of it. When you go back to your hometown, nobody really cares what you look like--they're just glad to see you. And that warmth and familiarity will melt just about anything, except for maybe my holiday spirit.

Home may be where the heartland is... but it's certainly not where the sun is. This is what I'm flying into. Yup, the holidays will make you do crazy things.

OMAHA, NEBRASKA WEATHER FORECAST (12/15/07 and onward...)


Intermittent Clouds Intermittent Clouds Mostly Sunny Mostly Sunny Intermittent Clouds Cloudy

Sat. Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu.
HI 24° F 32° F 34° F 38° F 38° F 36° F
LO 9° F 15° F 20° F 21° F 20° F 21° F

Photo credit: "Lightcicles" by Jim (the CG)/flickr
Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Time To Bottle Me Up; I'm Starting To Ferment...

There’s nothing
that makes you take stock of your life more than the passing of another birthday. That annual event crept up on me, once again, this past weekend. The excitement and anticipation of birthdays seemed to end for me after a rollicking 13th birthday slumber party at the Howard Johnson in Omaha. Life was simpler then…
I’ve been aging ever since.

Not that I’m old…quite yet, but I can no longer fudge the "young adult / adulthood" line anymore ~ as much as I’ve enjoyed it in years past.

No. Now my growth has reached its crest, and I can almost feel the calcium beginning to leach from my bones.

Time To Bottle Me Up; I’m starting to ferment.
But I plan to age well. I’m now at an age that I very much embrace the fact that most people guesstimate that I’m younger than I actually am. I hate to break it to them, and most times I don’t. Revealing the truth, would, in a way, spoil the enigma.

For years, I’ve been the reluctant birthday girl. There were times when I stayed home and ignored the incoming voicemails and well-wishes-- purely because I didn’t want to acknowledge the coming of another year (and the subsequent pressure of finding a way to celebrate, as one is supposed to do on occasions such as these.)

Most of the time, my birthday qualms have been totally irrational. At sixteen, I spent the afternoon crying. Having discovered my first ‘smile wrinkle,’ I flipped out.

“I’m getting wrinkles!”

I vowed never to smile again. Luckily that didn’t last…or else, three rounds of braces would’ve been for naught. At 23, I had a major birthday breakdown because by that age, it occurred to me that I’d lived longer than two of my very good friends who passed away before me. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I would continue to move forward in life while their lives had ended prematurely.

Today, however, I see possibility. I’ve learned something from the ones I’ve lost just as much as all the other people who have touched me in my lifetime so far. Today, I realize that no matter what I accomplish from here on out, I’ll know that the purpose of life, its meaning for me, will only be revealed to me if I’m open to the journey ahead. Adventures await…
A Toast To Another Year Of Me!

*Perfect grapes photo by me*
Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Sad Day For Omaha

I am choosing not to comment much on the shootings today in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. It's an emerging story.... both CNN and The New York Times currently report that nine people (including the shooter) have died, with others injured. Some reports have said that the shooter, who left a suicide note, wanted to "go out in style."

I find this horrifying, especially during a season of peace, joy, family and friends.

Fame at all costs, even notoriety, is never worth the bloodshed of fellow human-beings.

The shooter wanted fame...he wanted Breaking News...the headlines of CNN and The New York Times... and the front page of The World Herald and every other major metropolitan newspaper ~ his name in *lights* ( or at least in the media .)

Therefore, I will comment no further except to say that I'm saddened and...

It's certainly a sad day for Omaha...

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Missing Maternal Link

Somehow, somewhere along the line, I realized that I just didn’t get it--the maternal instinct-- women are supposed to just have.

Between making mud pies in the backyard, climbing trees, writing silly plays and baking cookies (a girly talent I do have), I didn’t have time (or the inclination) to imagine my ‘fairy-tale wedding’ or ‘the beautiful babies I’d make.’

That isn’t to say that I’m a total ‘marriage and mommy’ cynic or that I’d never become a mom, but...I'll be honest, I’m certainly not jumping for joy for baby showers or wedding showers or really any showers that don’t involve…water.

On the rare occasions when a movie about women is made, it’s refreshing when that movie isn’t all baby-cooing, wedding planning, and so super-sappy it makes my whole body hurt.

That’s why I love Adrienne Shelly’s film, Waitress. Yes, it’s about women AND yes, it involves a pregnancy, but it has none of the fluff you might expect and it’s much more humorous than you might imagine…and it involves baking – pies, that is-- something I can appreciate as a creative and visual art.

With a sprinkling of Citizen Ruth and The Good Girl and a dash of Steel Magnolias and other sweet ingredients all its own--including former Felicity herself, Keri Russell, Waitress is a must-see!

Its wry humor gives it an unexpected edge as it portrays Jenna, a girl trapped in her life and not so fond about discovering the fact that she's pregnant.

“I’m having the baby and that’s that,” says Jenna, “It’s not a party though.”

Just as Jenna has a passion for pie-making, it doesn't take much to find your passion for Waitress. I waited so long to see it that I thought, for sure, I’d be disappointed. Instead, I was deliciously satisfied. This flick just made it to my Amazon Wish List... [hint, hint] and for those of you who haven't yet seen it, it just came out on DVD so ya'll got no excuses. And if you're looking for a flick to watch while you bake all those holiday cookies, your Waitress has arrived.

Distributor: Fox Searchlight, a studio that’s not afraid to take chances by releasing movies like Waitress and investing the time and energy in marketing them. Check out Fox’s luscious and colorful Waitress website.

Fox’s current slate includes Juno and The Savages, both non-traditional film fare getting critical acclaim [that surely has studios who passed on the projects biting their lips raw with envy. Remember, this is the studio that brought us Little Miss Sunshine.]

Cast: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Jeremy Sisto & Andy Griffith
Director/Screenwriter: Adrienne Shelly
Producer: Michael Roiff
Genre: Drama / Romance / Comedy
Rating: PG13
Running time: 104 min.

Copyright © 2007 Kendra Liedle

This entry is also available for viewing at:
Waitress The Movie: Serving Up A Wry Slice Of Pie

Note: Tragically, Writer/Director Adrienne Shelly, who also appears in the film, was murdered just prior to the film's acceptance into Sundance, something that surely would have made her proud. (Heck, it makes me proud for her!)