My mom's family used to name inanimate objects. All the cars had names and endearments. The van = Big Red, the Fiat = Little Red and stuff like that. They stopped doing it. Given their continued level of crazy I'm guessing it wasn't because they felt it made them look silly so I don't know why they left off.
I also don't know why I decided to name my iPod Tillie. But I did. Sort of like how I named my dog I guess, it just came to me.
She's all loaded up and ready to go to the new year a whole new woman, er, piece, er, Pod. I'm going to go walk the pooch and then take a shower, with the new Pod blaring on the newish speakers.
"It's after 7pm, why are you bothering to shower now?"
Two reasons. 1. I'm going out super briefly for the midnight thing but still it's with other humans and I don't want to offend them. 2. I have this weird thing about liking to go into the new year clean and groomed.
So take advantage of the comment feature in this old school version of Blogger and tell us all what weird rituals you like to observe heading into a new year.
Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 31, 2006
My mom's family used to name inanimate objects. All the cars had names and endearments. The van = Big Red, the Fiat = Little Red and stuff like that. They stopped doing it. Given their continued level of crazy I'm guessing it wasn't because they felt it made them look silly so I don't know why they left off.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
It's OK, he's sorry and really, he didn't miss much hockey. Missed one hell of a fight night, though!
The Rangers needed a win and they got it. I will admit, though, it was a bit of a cheapie. Nobody was there to play hockey and so they didn't. At least not much. Lundquist was his usual beautiful self and he played well even when being shoved and jostled and rammed through the net and into the back boards. There was a moment when he looked like he was headed out for at least a game.
The thing is, I had a great time. I have screamed until my barely healed throat is raw and I feel nauseated. I have jumped up and sat down so many times my quads and ass should be like iron. I've laughed and talked to a couple of strangers and high fived an enormous amount with the Matt Saracen-like teen in front of me. Yeah, it was more like going to see Bring it On than Out of Africa but I love both movies.
Brashear is a goon and a hack and I do not approve of him in any way but I do have him to thank for my evening of fun. I don't really know how it started but christ on a crutch all of a sudden nobody was wearing gloves and everyone was swinging. It then became a series of retaliatory strikes that made for brawl after brawl at each stoppage.
Brashear is also a coward. He was instigating fights left, right and center. At one point he wasn't even supposed to be on the ice and he started a fight. But he never started anything when Kasparaitis and Hollweg were on the ice, the two guys who I'd have expected to give him a run for his money. Shanahan ended up doing that...and getting named one of the three Players of the Game for it. Totally deserved it, too. When someone starts an all out fight with gloves and helmets off and proper punches thrown and then, when it's ended by the officials he skates a victory lap of sorts while slapping his hands together in a brushing motion indicitave of a job well done he deserves to be punched in his fat, bald head. Shanahan obliged.
I can hear you out there asking, "But Kizz, you always say you like the goons?" Eh, sort of. I like smart and evil, really. Or smart and crazy...and occasionally evil. Let's look at the stats:
Brashears: 19+ (I lost count around 15 and before he was ejected from the game)
Brashears: 0 (I'm not sure he even handled the puck this game)
National Anthems sung
Brashears: 0 (I'm assuming since I didn't see him sing and he showed no other inclination toward the verbal)
I'm not saying that Kaspar doesn't hit. I'm not saying he doesn't sometimes even hit dirty, but he rarely gets caught. He's not grandstanding and instigating for the sake of it, he's actually playing the game. I watched him closely enough this game to say that I would probably have to kick him in the groin frequently if we ever hung out but I still love him, I'd just need him to be quiet. He does not shut up. The only time he shuts his ever loving trap is when the play is in progress and he is on the ice. He talks on the bench, he talks in the time out, he talks while penalties are assessed, he talks while they set up for a face off, he talks to officials, to teammates, to coaches, to himself, blah blah blah blah blah! Good lord boy stop running your mouth already. He's like the class clown or something. Cute as a button, though. A very craggy and deformed button.
What I'm saying here is that I don't have use for the Berserkers. (Berserkers: Celtic warriors who, as the name suggests, went berserk on the battlefield. You didn't want to be on the field with them, even if they were on your side. They worked themselves up into some sort of all-encompassing rage and then just went in swinging with their pointy, pointy weapons without regard for who was shirts and who was skins on any given day.) If you're just wildly swinging your...sword around to swing it, without regard for who you're hitting or who you're helping that's not appealing. It takes no skill or finesse or thought, where's the sexy in that? Nowhere I tell you. I want you to be throwing a hip and breaking a jaw for the good of the team not just because you like the crunchy noise when the bone breaks. One is creepy and the other has a caveman-like charm.
I enjoy the caveman-like charm.
And, woof, there was a lot of it tonight. Kaspar, Hollweg, Shanahan, even poor Ward who got both a penalty and punched in the face for his well-timed unsportsmanlike conduct. It was awesome. Happy New Year to me!
Oh, and P.S. I also bought a new iPod with Apple Care and went to the post office at 10pm on a Saturday night. Ah the sexy things you can do in the big city. I was, however, not quite as styling as the young gentleman who was there at the same time on a Saturday night with his mommy...sending in his college application to Vassar.
You guys know that I do that whole fruity, nutty life coaching thing, right? Like I've said, it works for me. One of the things that the coach is always saying is that the first step is declaring one's intentions. This means out loud and usually repeatedly. It's not a process I find easy because if I say it and it doesn't happen then I'm a failure, right?
I can't deny the success rate, though. "I want to make a CD" and someone says, "I'll record it." "I need a part time job" and someone gets me an interview. "I want a date with Lee Tergesen"...OK, we're still waiting on that one but I've really only said it out loud and proud and direct this once.
Right here on this site I declared a need for tradition, for some sort of continuity. The only difference in this one is that the call got answered from a quarter that doesn't even know this site exists. Well, they do now, but they didn't until later on Christmas Eve.
The background is that all my life we spent Christmas Eve at my grandfather's house because it is also his birthday. There were a few notable exceptions but it was a serious committment on my part, the part of Christmas I liked best, how I felt Christmas should be. The legend goes that when my grandfather was 4 years old he stood on the counter of the library in Saginaw, MI and recited 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in its entirety.
So, this Christmas Eve we're at my aunt and uncle's house and I'm sitting on an ottoman by the fire when my cousin's wife, Root's Mama, sidles over and says, "Just a heads up, I promised Root that you would recite the Night Before Christmas for her before she went to bed." GAH! Remember that in the legend it was my grandfather that had the thing memorized. It was not me. Really so not. I have, on and off, been able to do 2 or 3 verses on my own but never the whole thing. The "crest of the new fallen snow" stuff and the "leaves like wild hurricane" hoopla trips me up. Plus I can't remember if the sugar plums or the kerchief and cap comes first. I say as much, even offering up the fact that my absent girl-cousin knows more of it by heart than I do. What does Mama Root do then? Which card does she pull? Thank god she's not a sharpshooter 'cause she hit me right between the eyes.
"I'm trying to start a tradition, here!"
I asked around for a copy of the book. No dice - which is weird for our family but we're not perfect. Thankfully we have the internet. Put Mike on it and in minutes I had a pristinely printed copy of the words.
Whole fam gathered around, Root on her daddy's lap in the middle of the couch, me next to them, Mike snapping photos like Peter Parker, people speaking along with the bits they knew and a huge rousing chorus of "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!" It was cooler than I like to admit. Root could have cared less, she is after all only about 19 months old, but the rest of us seemed to enjoy it and it means we've started the tradition before she knows it so when she's conscious of it it'll just seem to her like it's always been like this. And that is what I've been looking for.
Thank you Mama Root, you really know how to give a Christmas present.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
But still bad.
There was no internet access on my trip. Even where there was access there was no access for me. Troublesome. I got home a couple of days ago with a dozen half written entries in my head, ready to go but I was sick and I had to work yesterday so I had to rest instead. Besides I couldn't decide what to write first or how to finish any of the half-written entries.
So, right here there should be an entry about Christmas Eve and tradition or one about adult no-sex sleepovers or one about ham even but something has happened which has superceded all that information.
My iPod is dead. Officially dead as pronounced by a delightfully accented Genius Bar genius. It seems I have failed to register the Pod or get it Apple Care so it's on me to fix it. This is why insurance is important, people! I guess I'll get the 80 gig one. My brain is having trouble getting with the program, though. I can do the functions that tell me how much is in savings and how much my pay was increased and bonused. I can do the calculations for how much I spent on iPod speakers and Christmas presents and trips home. I don't seem to have the formula that compares the two and says, "You can/can't afford this."
That'd be a useful formula to have.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I've had some inquiries about the Old Man Friend's health. He's come through well. I talked to MamaKizz this evening and he was doing well. They're waking him up once per hour to be sure he isn't having a stroke so it's possible he'll be indicted for murder before she returns to pick him up in the morning but other than that it went well. He's also had some Heparin so please don't send your good wishes too very forcefully, he's going to bruise easily for a while. He's expected to be home tomorrow by lunch time.
I need to pack and then head to bed to prepare for the trip north tomorrow. Steph is joining me for the trip which will, no doubt, make it that much easier. My access to the internet is a little unsure up there. There's a cafe place I like that's just installed wireless for free so things may be a little easier but we'll have to see.
If you don't see me again this week Happy Holidays! Hope you're making the most of the end of Chanukah and are ready for Christmas and Kwanzaa and anything else you might feel like celebrating. I am...I...am...thinking I'll just about make it. As long as I post this and start packing Right. Now.
In just a...
Have a good time.
I'm going already!
MamaKizz's Old Man Friend is having an operation today. He's 87, he's had quintuple bypass surgery (many years ago) and some other heart surgery (a couple of months ago) and today he's getting one of the veins or arteries in his neck cleaned out. I think carotid is today and the other one (what is the other one) is in January. He's a hope for the best and prepare for the worst old school New England type so he finalized his will yesterday. Frankly I don't think it's a bad move. Anyway, send out a good thought today, a good thought that his family will have a nice Christmas all together, please.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I don't know if I've talked about this before. Probably.
Pony Express has this little conversation starter about what the inside of one's head is like. It all started at a store on Canal Street. I can't remember the name of it, Canal Plastics maybe? No that wasn't it. Anyway, it was this store with stuff in it, just bins and bins and shelves and buckets of things. Plastic jiggers, metal doohickeys and the occasional wooden thingamajig. These bits and bobs were not alphabetized, they were not organized by color, they had not been neatly arranged in size order. It was a big store full of stuff flung everywhere but full of magic and wonder with everything you need in there to save the world. Pony Express walked in there one day and realized all of a sudden that being in this store was what it would be like to be inside the brain of our friend, Garboil. And she's right. Scary, in the coolest of ways.
After that she started thinking about what the inside of her brain was like and asking people about the insides of theirs. She gives a great description of the harried little man who runs the desk full of scrap paper that is her brain. I don't want to ruin it for you, if you meet her ask her yourself.
When she first asked me my initial reaction was, "View Master." I do this thing, like when I'm trying to remember how to get some place where I can see certain photos, certain parts of the journey but I'm often missing crucial transitions. Even as I said it I knew that wasn't quite right. It was close but it wasn't everything. It accounted for the directions and it accounted for my love of lists (number the points, don't miss anything) and whatnot but it wasn't quite right.
Fast forward about three years and the answer came to me (like a click from the View Master) today. This may not make sense to anyone who doesn't know my mom but the very fact of the knowledge that it was wrong and the three year gap and the zap of information proves that I am my mother.
I was standing halfway between my desk and the fax machine holding a bunch of papers and trying to decide whether to wait for the fax or go ask the receptionist something and I remembered something that one of my bosses needed to know so I told him. This sort of thing happens sometimes. There's all this stuff that goes on in an office, people mention stuff and you start balls rolling and there are deadlines or other people that need to get back to you so you wait and then all of a sudden some piece of information will surface. I'll hear in my head, "Did you check the certified mail?" "Where is that lunch?" "Are we out of petty cash?" It's scary because I suck at writing everything down and I don't have a foolproof method of tracking information so nothing falls through the cracks. My brain, however, often saves me at the last possible moment. My brain has been known on occasion to pull a Superman and turn the earth backwards to turn back time so I can fix something before it goes wrong. I don't know how it does this, or I didn't until today, and that scares me a little. I mean, it's memory essentially and memory eventually loses its elasticity.
Today, though, as this important piece of information popped up just when it was needed and wanted without my trying to recall it, I got the picture in my head of what my brain looks like.
My brain is a personal assistant.
She's a late 20s - early 30s spinster type. She's very blonde, about 5 feet tall and she wears fashionable but extremely conservative suits. When I saw her at first she was wearing a sort of baby/cornflower blue tweedy sort of suit. Of course she has glasses, black rimmed, almost cat's eyes and they hang from a chain around her neck. She's always carrying things with her - steno pad, files, pen, pencil, car vouchers, phone messages - and she's standing at my elbow waiting for the exact moment when I need some piece of information. About 30 seconds before I need the information, and probably 40 seconds before I think to ask for it, she lifts whatever it is out of her armload of things and hands it to me. If it's serious, she taps me on the shoulder and looks disapprovingly over her glasses. Occasionally she screws up. You can see a couple of hairs escaping her tight chignon when that happens and she apologizes profusely but usually she knows what she's doing.
She thinks she's better than me. She's kind of a controlling bitch. Sometimes she holds on to shit that she's decided I don't need to know yet. Sometimes I think I might have used some of that information earlier. A lot earlier. But you know, then she saves my ass by reminding me to call a car service about 5 minutes before my boss asks me to and I know I can't fire her. It's a tough market, I'm not going to find anyone as good as her.
What's the inside of your brain like?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
"I don’t like change but I know it’s good for me and inevitable so I welcome it as best I can. There’s a poem by Johann Frank that says it better than I will, “Defy the old dragon, defy fear. The world may rage and quake but I shall remain, singing, in perfect peace.” Yeah, things happen, things you don’t expect or want or like. The world rages and you become someone you didn’t ever know you’d be. And there you are in your clothes, in your life, this is my future, this is me. This is me and I want things I never thought I would….and to be grateful for it, in perfect peace."
Ephraim Brown, Everwood
I wrote this entry a few days ago and the one thing I worried about was that Kristen would read it and be bothered. I've been trying to say something, to get something out of my body, to learn something, though, and I didn't know what it was but of all the times I tried this one came out of me so I hit the publish button and let it lie. I didn't think Kristen was reading here and I tried my best to make it unbothersome.
You can see where this is going, can't you? I got an e-mail from Kristen this morning which said, in essence, that she'd always liked hearing from me and was sorry to hear that I didn't like her. Gah! So after reading that we both feel shitty. I felt like I pretty much deserved to, though, so I was OK with that part but I felt awful that she felt bad. Fortunately Kristen had given me a gift by sending me the e-mail, the gift of letting me know that she'd read it and an opportunity to try to explain myself. I immediately sent a reply clumsily rewording and clarifying and sent if off even though I knew it wasn't quite right but that it was at least a start.
Then Kristen gave me a second gift. It was like opening a present and it's a pretty stained glass box which is a great gift in and of itself. Then you realize there's something rattling around in there and it's 4 perfect va1ium. She gave me a prompt to think about what I'd written and why.
I was late to go visit Santa with Alita so I hit send and bolted into the shower. I hadn't even gotten my hair lathered when I realized what I've been trying to get at with all these posts I keep telling you I'll write and don't. The one about music, the one about Jay's show, the one about Alita, the one about Christmas Eve, the one about my family, and this one that I did write about registrations and password protection were all about the same thing. Turns out I could identify the symptoms but not the disease, as it were.
I associate the holiday season with a deep feeling of loss. (I can hear some of you saying, "Duh." I know.) I have never been someone who likes change but, as it says above, I know it's good for me so I do my best. When the going gets rough, though, my comfort zone is in that which does not change - TV, movies, my home, certain friends, books, brunch, lobsterbake, Sunday conversations with ChemE and, it turns out, bloggers. I wrote a lot about my feelings when my grandparents passed away and how I felt like foundations in my life had been pulled from under me. September 11th wasn't too far behind their deaths and it brought some far-reaching changes of its own (in case you've been living under a rock and hadn't noticed. Not sure why I had to say that but it's relevant.). The holiday season holds a lot of the markers of the losses in my family. So when you're hearing Joy to the World or Fa la la la la or the Chipmunks and seeing Santa and Holly and Dreidels I'm hearing and seeing people and places and traditions that don't exist anymore.
If you have the urge right now to submit a comment that says something along the lines of "Be grateful for what you have." or "But you have this fabulous opportunity to create your own traditions." I want you to take just a moment to do one little thing before you hit the comment button. Bite me.
I know all that and I've been trying to create new traditions but a tradition of crying alone for 5 hours in the car while one drives towars one's family isn't exactly filling the void. I have tried other things but it's hard to break in on someone else's traditions and it's hard to convince other people to join in when you start something new like that. I don't have a family of my own so it's a delicate balance trying to bring people together on a holiday that's so family-centric. It's also a long way from quick. To be a tradition it has to happen more than once and the holidays being annual it's a bit of a long haul. Some things are going well, I'm finding some things are good. At the same time erosion continues. Traditions keep falling off or being changed beyond recognition. For years I've identified this struggle as a hatred of the season. I guess it's not that, it's more of a longing for it or a wish to be comfortable in it or something I haven't quite grasped yet.
I'm not taking all of these natural soil movements well this year. I'm keeping my head above water and I'm making a point of trying to say positive things and of doing things I know I like and with people I like but I'm simply not doing very well. I sat last week at Jay's show loving the music and the spectacle and that Carmencita and Alita were with me and that we were all singing together. But I was also hating that this was the last Christmas show Jay was going to do and that so many of the people that I invited hadn't come. And I cried. Alita sat on my lap with her head on my shoulder and I rested my arm around her waist and ran my fingers through her hair and I cried and cried and cried. I was so grateful for her being there and for the chance to listen to this music I love and to be at a table where we sang in harmony. I loved sharing this with her, it's something I enjoy and that I think is valuable and the sort of thing that was a tradition in my family a very long time ago and yet I was heartbroken. I was glad she was small enough to fit in my lap and young enough not to notice and turn around and whisper, "Stop snotting in my clean hair you freak!"
I wrote about Kristen because she changed something. Not because of what or how she changed something but just because she did. This season of most years and this year in particular on a scale of 1-10 my Sensitivity to Change meter is set at 11...thousand. So when Chili and Rick moved their blogs, when Kristen's site went under the cloak of invisibility I felt angry. Or at least I thought it was angry. It turns out that it was just one more change at a time when I couldn't deal with what I had already. I feel like if everyone would just stop jiggling the goddamned tram I could get my grip back but everyone else is having a fun and loving the feeling of swaying back and forth over the fucking abyss so they don't really notice that I'm about to hurl. And on the one hand why should they? But on the other dang, please give a girl a break!
Entirely not about anyone else. All about me, these feelings. Kristen just somehow hit the exact right spot and I snapped. It turned out to be a good thing because now, hopefully, I'm that much further along on my journey toward not being an ass monkey from November to January but not a very smooth step.
The worst thing, though, is that I hurt someone else. I am both enormously sorry that I made her feel bad and profoundly grateful for her generous seasonal giving. Something else she said in her e-mail was "this internet thing is weird." Amen, Sister. I know now that I both owe Kristen dinner and really want to have dinner with her but I've screwed it up before we even got to the cocktail hour.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Don't you hate when you're ready to go to bed (because you're exhausted from the napping on the couch you've been working so hard at all evening) and then something happens and if you don't write it down you'll lose it by morning so you have to stay up later?
Greg Behrendt is Uncool is on Comedy Central and it turns out he's funny. Seems he co-wrote "She's Just Not That Into You" and "It's Called a Break-up Because It's Broken" and knowing that alone I would not have watched him but I was laughing before I found that out so I'm a little hooked. He's doing a great bit about "creepy old guy" going to rock shows and stuff like that. I can't do him justice, go watch the DVD.
Also, it's been a long time since we had hot people so I figure he qualifies. Chili has asked for a Hot People entry of people who are not empirically hot but who are hot in action. The problem is it's tough to catch the hot in action in a photo since photos are not, you know actiony really. I've tried to catch some hot photos of Jason Dohring but you know he's a little doughy, a little plaintive in a photo. Somehow you add the fey gestures and the voice and he becomes hot but again, gestures not working quite so hard for you in the stop action. Matthew Perry is pretty hot, you know, when he's raising his eyebrow in admonition or striding purposefully down a darkened hallway to make an ass of himself or even shattering a window with a baseball bat. But in photos he comes across a little too smily, a little squinty, a little obscured by Sarah Paulson plastered across his face. I would send you all a flip book or something but most of you aren't commenting so I can't get your e-mail and write you all, "Hey, give me your addy so I can send you this flip book Hot People entry, mmmmk?" and then send you a flip book of Matthew Perry's eyebrow and Jason Dohring's lower lip and Kenny Johnson's gun show (you know what I mean by that, right?) and then we could all talk about it here but...too much, right? OK yeah, but.....anyway....
I'm working on it, though, I'll figure it out, I can do it without the flip book but it might have to be after Christmas.
Hey! Maybe that's what I'll do on New Year's Eve.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Look at the pretty, pretty girls that are still happy to see me. I capped off yesterday by going to the Holiday Party for my previous job. It was, really, the right thing to do.
Let's back up, though.
On Tuesday night somebody's pimp ride nosedived into a sink hole right outside my apartment building. I walked along that avenue late that night and saw every crack and fissure and clumsily patched divot in the block. Not so much the visions of sugarplums more the visions dying horribly crushed under the weight of my entire building.
Yesterday in the pre-noon I was at work, I was fairly well pulled together, organized for getting changed for the party and looking appropriate for both, I was getting some work done and my cell phone rang. It was Chili. She'd called to say that our friend, April, had been killed in a car accident.
Backing up further, Chili set up The Girlfriend Group a bunch of years ago. At the outset it was 10 women who talked via e-mail and got together occasionally, getting to know eachother, cracking jokes, getting advice, all the normal stuff. April and I bonded specifically on a couple of issues and were close for a while. For reasons that are, honestly, beyond my comprehension the Girlfriend Group dissolved. We still keep in touch once or twice a year for updates.
I was IMing with Mr. Chili later and he said, "It was just shocking." I feel slightly removed from the event but he's absolutely right, it was just shocking.
What Chili didn't tell me is where she was calling from. She was at her mom's house cleaning up after a dangerous, but thankfully not injurious, electrical fire.
If you believe that these things come in threes, and I do. I was really, really wishing for the days when I had a landline at home and my old answering machine. You could call in for your messages and press a button (5 I think) and listen in to your house, see if anything was awry. I don't know what I'd hear but I wanted to call and listen to nothing, hear the dog breathe and the cats beat the crap out of eachother maybe. Those days are gone and I managed, barely, to keep hold of myself and not call my neighbor, who was going to walk Emily, and ask her if the pets were alive and the building still standing.
This month B died, my cousin Sara's dog was diagnosed with cancer and will likely be euthanized tomorrow, Mrs. X is in a rapid decline and we may or may not see her at Christmas, another friend named April had surgery in connection with her months-long struggle with throat cancer, Audio Girl goes under the knife tomorrow for what we expect to be her last cancer and boob related surgery, my mother still has no job (it's been over a year, maybe more, I'm afraid to calculate), Auntie Blanche has had a couple of fairly serious falls, MKAEP and her dad's whole deal...none of it is on me, not really, but it's all just sad and bad and...and...I already really don't like Christmas...and...Aaron Sorkin did that thing with the musicians and I realized how much is still not fixed from the years before and...
I just went to the party. It was in Chinatown, about three blocks from my first New York apartment in the old Bowery Bank. The place was beautiful and I got a glass of champagne and ran into my old friends. It was the right place to be and it was fun and I toasted April and I drank the tiniest bit too much champagne.
I swear I wasn't as drunk as I look in that photo, though.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Some bad shit has gone down today. Really not good. It's the kind of day that's one lemon after another...thrown at your head. Fortunately Baldsug decided to send out his Chanukah e-card today and if anyone can make Vodka Lemonade out of lemons it's him.
Last week Baldsug turned 40.
This summer he had bypass surgery, one bypass for every decade he's lived.
He sent out one picture for the Chanukah celebrators and one for the Krazy Kristians.
I have a thing against free registration for stuff. I still poach Pony Express' login for the New York Times. It's the New York Times for cripes sake! Everyone with an e-mail has a login. I just don't like it in principal or something. I know it's a marketing tool and they're trying to figure out who is reading what and why and then beyond that they're trying to numb us to the login process and hook us with the free reads so we'll be willing to lay down the subscription price for the archives and whatever else is behind door number three. And I am above that!
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I paid for and drank a humongous hot chocolate because I forgot that Tall = Small and Venti = Swimming Pool in a Cup not the other way around?
I am not above anything.
I have a mental block. You have to sign in to comment on Dooce and Suburban Bliss these days. It's for good reasons, those ladies write very personally and they have gotten some comments and some repeat commenters who are hostile and potentially dangerous as well as being a total downer so they took action. They took control of their own respective corners of the internet. As well they should, blogs are personal opinion and part of the draw is that you get to do whatever you damn well please on them.
I don't comment on Dooce or Suburban Bliss anymore.
Every couple of months Kristen at Debaucherous and Dishevelled threatens to go anonymous or password protected or something. At some point in the process she changes her mind and goes back to public blogging. I'm never sure entirely why. I'm also not sure why I'm reacting to her most recent decision since part of me expects her to go public again but I am. Possibly because I wanted to say something very touching about toilet paper giving on Suburban Bliss last week but was too stubborn to sign in. Anyway, before I read anything about any incident Kristen made the page password protected and I got mad. She says she's gotten threatening phone calls, why would it make me mad that she protected herself from that? I don't know, I'm an idiot.
She's one of a number of bloggers with whom I disagree a lot, or think they're perfectly nice people but I'd probably better not have dinner with them in person at any point, but who I'm still drawn to read. I told Chili about being incensed by someone else, probably Manda or Katie, and she was all, "So don't read." I couldn't stop, I'm hooked, I'm invested in the story now and the story is someone's life. But I'm too stubborn to e-mail Kristen and get the password and keep reading the story.
All in all this seems like a win for Kristen, doesn't it? Maybe all these other people that I can't stop reading and disagreeing with should go protected too. (I do not, generally, use their comments sections to voice my disagreement. 90% of the time I keep it to myself and when I don't I only comment if I can phrase it nicely and ideally constructively. I hope that's how those comments come across, but it's a 2 way street so there are no guarantees about how they're received.)
I think that part of me thinks that she won't send me the password or that I'll register to comment on Suburban Bliss and get a nice note from Logan saying, "Please don't come around here anymore." I mean, after all, these blogs get tens to hundreds to thousands of commenters and readers. These blogs are the proverbial cool kids table and why would anyone want me at the '09er table? I can't afford my share of pizza every day. I don't have a Sidekick. I don't wear my little league jersey ironically. Who cares what I think?
Which brings me to another reason I don't sign up. The whole signing in process is to make people stop and think before they comment in anger or with malice. It's a teeny tiny version of the waiting period before you buy a gun. My brain already thinks before a comment. My brilliant toilet paper gift comment was about one line long and crafted to seem like the cleverest of throw away mentions about the topic (ha!). I worked on it for almost 10 minutes before I hit the comment button. (I know, how pathetic, huh?) Then I got the sign in page and I thought, "Oh god, so not worth it, nobody cares that you think toilet paper is the kindest of gifts. You don't think in the 700 comments on this post already someone else hasn't said that better and far earlier? Right. Move along." So I did.
I realize the rejection is all in my head. I get this. But visceral response, not getting past it, blah blah blah therapy cakes.
But....you know what I mean, right?
How do you stop an exploding phone bill?
I don't know why I looked at my minute balance last Thursday but I did. I had less than an hour of anytime minutes left and almost a week until my bill rolled over. I'm just not that chatty. But I guess with logistics and the trip and Thanksgiving and it all got away from me. I've been having conversations that all start with "I have five minutes." Or avoiding them all together with, "Can I call you back at nine?" Ridiculous. Let's hope this doesn't happen again next month. If it does it's going to be a little suspicious. I mean, most months I don't even clear 300 minutes.
It's all OK this morning, though, the counter has rolled over and I'm back to zero, ready to start again.
Monday, December 11, 2006
How many Christmas cards do you send out?
Do you send any at all?
Do you buy cards and maybe address them but then not send them out? And then maybe save them for next year - as long as the addresses don't change?
When I told Anna how many cards I sent out she said, "You have that many close friends?" And I thought, "Close friends? Is that the Christmas card rule?"
It's not my Christmas card rule, that's become clear. My list is just short of 150 cards. Given people's ever-present need to move house I usually end up sending out about 125. Last year I sent maybe 50 and just gave up because I got overwhelmed and I was making the cards plus making other cards for gifts and you can really only manipulate so many of those squares of pre-cut double sided tape before your brain stops short like my dog heading into the vet.
I send them to close friends, family, distant friends, distant family, colleagues, bosses, ex-colleagues and bosses, old roommates, industry contacts, neighbors, pretty much everybody in the world that I like and can dig up an address for. You're supposed to spread cheer, right? So I spread a lot of cheer. I like the conversations that get started and hearing back from people I haven't talked to in a while.
This year I had the cards made, with a photo I chose (taken by Miflohny) and they were in my possession a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. It was an unprecedented level of organization on my part. The experience was so blissful (thank you iPrint, and Audio Girl for introducing me to iPrint) I might just decide to be organized again next year. I've only got about 30 more cards to write and I've had fun doing it. The conversations may peter out by St. Patrick's day (or sooner) but at least I've had this much. Like I've said, I like to dwell in the past and digging up people from the past and finding out about their present is a treat for me.
What about you? Card sending philosophy anyone?
Sunday, December 10, 2006
It's just not a simple time of the year. I've composed a dozen entries in my head but can't get them out. Too many emotions, too many words and apparently too many glasses of wine.
On the sad side, in the wake of B's passing, it seems Miss Doxie lost one of her dogs this weekend. And I don't mean lost like the way she lost 7 dogs in a fencing mishap, I mean lost as in died unexpectedly from pneumonia.
Before I found that out I went out to see D. Jay's Christmas show. Hence the wine. Carmencita and Alita joined me. Alita is a seasoned audience member, sitting through all kinds of music and theatre and cinema since she was a tot. This evening she was quiet, sure she waved at Mrs. Claus (Dorothy to those in the know), but mostly she sat on my lap or leaned in the crook of my arm and stared. She'd already had an eventful day so I wondered if she was simply cashed and zoning out. I should know better. We have a number of things in common and sitting quietly sussing things out is one of our favorite pastimes. Once the event was over we asked what she'd enjoyed and she almost knocked out a tooth she talked so long and so fast. (She really does have her first loose tooth and I'm flabbergasted. While she's the right age for it I still can't believe the milestone is here already.)
Jay has, per usual, done a glorious job. The new venue is lovely, he's mixed together new tunes with old favorites and he's even added a new twist. Santa always calls during the show (he and Jay are tight) but this year we had a video conference call from Mrs. Claus, too. She's a glamorous old broad and very sweet. Jay told some delightfully personal stories and made us laugh and laugh and laugh. It's one of my favorite things in the season and it's his last one. If you're in the area I cannot recommend it enough. Not many people do this sort of show anymore and even fewer people do it well. Jay does it better than anyone I know. I honestly did laugh and cry and it was damn sure better than Cats (nothing against Cats, I like it, it just isn't as good as Jay's Christmas shows also Cats doesn't have Rue McClanahan guest starring and Jay does).
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
More than 5 years ago P's employers, chronic dog rescuers, brought a dog to the office. He'd visited before and they'd been trying to find a home for him but he had had a fear biting incident so the going was slow. On the day in question they let everyone know that they should say goodbye to Brandy because they needed to give up the search and put him down.
He was already 8 years old, probably wouldn't live very long, his legs weren't very good so, despite hers and dad's commitment to greyhounds and to minimal pet hair P brought Brandy home. They renamed him Brownie (I always just called him B in protest. I have a thing against renaming dogs. I know it doesn't matter to them but it weirds me out.) and he lived out his days with them.
Those days ended on Thursday. He'd been in a lot of pain, even chewing his back legs they hurt him so much, and was both incontinent and senile - a delightful combination. All the rest would not necessarily have been reason to let him go but the pain and his frequent falls were too much to continue to put him through.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Blogger is now offering me the opportunity to move to the Beta version (no longer being called Beta, I don't think). I know a lot of people have been doing Blogger problems and that the Beta version has been difficult. It's got some features that I'm interested in but I don't want to make blogging any harder on a day to day basis.
I know we've got some votes out there for a move to Wordpress.
The description of the Blogger "upgrade" sounds a lot like the appealing features of Wordpress:
"The new version of Blogger now has all the original features you're used to, plus new post labels, drag-and-drop template editing, and privacy controls. And, it's a lot more reliable.
After you switch you'll need to sign in with your Google Account, but your blogs will stay the same. Their content and layout will not change."
Anyone have advice? Recommendations? Points to ponder?
When Em was a pup we used to lament that we hadn't immediately thought to train her as a sled dog. She has the physique and the determination, she loves to pull and she's pure muscle. Later, when she and I moved in to our own apartment it became clear why the universe hadn't gotten us some skids and a big snowfall.
I give you my informed opinion about what would happen if Emily were hitched to a sled:
Human puts dog in harness
Dog chases own tail in circles, trying to catch and remove harness
Human wrestles with dog, falls, eventually hitches dog into traces
Human prompts dog forward
Dog pulls, feels weight, digs in and takes off
Dog is trying to get away from sled that is chasing her
Slight downward incline is reached
Sled gains momentum and taps dog on the foot
Dog tries simultaneously to run faster and curl own ass under self for safekeeping
Previous step causes dog to sit abruptly
Sled overtakes dog, flattening her
I won't be more specific but I did take my granny cart with me tonight as I walked the dog to the pet food store. Can you guess what my trip was like?
We don't do it every day. We haven't done it for months. Yesterday, though, the opportunity presented itself for a much beloved morning ritual and we jumped in with both feet.
1. Walk dog
2. See Pony Express walking up her street
3. Cross to join her
4. Watch dog have apoplexy and try to actually fuse to Pony Express' skin in her joy
5. Minimalist chat
6. Walk to coffee shop
7. Pony Express goes inside to get coffee and cocoa
8. Dog and I stand watch for the bus
9. See bus
10. Tap on glass for Pony Express
11. Finish last tags of conversation while bus is stuck at the light
12. Pony Express runs for the bus
13. Dog and I go home
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I remembered one of the things I was going to write about. It's no wonder I let the Happy Puppy Love push it out of my mind.
I was going to tell you to go read what Flea wrote about charitable giving for children in the holiday season. Here is the part that made me bawl:
"There is always a percentage of letters that do not get answered for various reasons. Please do not exceed the $25 limit!! It is unfair to the children, as some may not receive a gift while others get many."
I was already planning to donate to the Toys for Tots drive in my office building but, since there's no limit, I suspect I'll spend just a bit more than I originally planned.
Where are you going to donate? (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I fear my stats are going to plummet when Yankee Swap season ends. At least 75% of the searches that lead people here are for swap-related info. "Best Yankee Swap Gift" "Best $10 Yankee Swap Gift" "Yankee Swap Rules" "Yankee and White Elephant walk into a bar"
At least the rules people I'm helping. I may make fun of the practice but I'm clear on the rules.
The "Best Gift" people make me sad, though. They come in looking for a little inspiration so they can be the perfect Swapper and all they find is me telling them how scary this thing is going to be.
Be strong Swappers! You'll have fun. Just have a drink or two before the swapping begins. And don't be afraid to swap for your own gift if that's the only one worth having. All's fair in love and swap!
My evening was really fun. So fun that it made me forget the topics of the three or four blog posts I was planning to write back when I thought I'd be home at 6 as per usual.
I spent the evening with Alex as co-lifeguard for his own private Dogapalooza (Kath took pics and I really hope she posts some soon) and he fixed all of the road blocks I'd put up to completing one of my homemade Christmas presents. Since a bunch of people in the blogosphere will be receiving these unnamed presents any post I wrote about the evening would look like an elaborate Mad Lib; all [noun], [verb], [plural noun], [adjective], and not a lot else.
I'll hit some highlights. The first order of business this evening was a trip to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. I need to be honest here, Williamsburg feels like a different country to me. I was unnerved without my passport, felt like I was trying to conduct business under the table with just my tourist visa. Everyone is so busy being different that they all look like they're pictures from the same American Eagle catalogue. I was so not dressed or coiffed or shod right... no wait, I was wearing my clogs, I was totally shod right. Par example mes amis, in most areas of NYC there are stands with older working class guys of all colors selling Christmas trees and wreaths that they've driven down from upstate or VT or MI or wherever else people grow the evergreen for profit these days. In Williamsburg this evening I carped the diem and bought a wreath...from 2 twentysomething, camo sporting, dreadlocked white boys. It's just not like other places.
Alex was dogsitting an old Golden retriever and a young purebred German Shepherd. Charlie, the Golden, is the Omega Dog (as opposed to the Alpha) everywhere he goes. He gets pushed around and he stands for it. Tim, the GSD, is probably not as purebred as they think. I think he might be crossed with a gold fish. He's trainable, he's focused, as long as it's only in 8 second bursts. He's also just gorgeous. Both Emily and I harbor crushes on him. Emily was there and so was Bobby. All dogs I just adore and most of them I don't get to spend a bunch of time with. Of course when Alex and I holed up in his home office to do the Top Secret Project all the dogs either wanted to be in there with us milling around and sniffing and getting tangled in cords or to be barking at the front door incessantly until we went out and subdued them.
I love that part of dog ownership, though. I love the sleepover, the pack parties. I love watching one seething mass of dogmanity everywhere I look. Emily and Bobby actually played! Do you know how long it's been since Emily has played with anyone? Long time, friends, very long time. She played hard, she treed Bobbola on the couch, she poked him in the neck and cornered him by the window. She may even have induced the salvo of paint peeling farts that he then showered us with. It was super fun.
Kath came home and we watched...um, that Christmas Special, the one with Burgermeister Meisterburger and where Santa is young and redheaded and he's wanted Dead or Alive in Sombertown for distributing toys, I can't remember the name. I may have sung along and danced a little. Maybe.
Then Alex and I took all 4 dogs for a mid sized walk before he left Tim and Charlie home alone to wait for their people. Nothing will pare your dignity down to a manageable size like trying to wrangle 4 dogs with varying ages, intelligence levels and willingness to walk in a straight line. No, wait, their willingness to walk in a straight line was all exactly the same - nil, none, nada, zip, zilch, zero. It was like being a Maypole.
But again, fun! I love the pooches. I like it when they're around.
Anyway, I did a bunch of stuff tonight and I'm beat, but I can't tell you about it yet.
What have you been up to?
Monday, December 04, 2006
Chili and I were talking today (OK, IMing) about those "100 Things About Me" posts and pages people write. About how it'd be easier to write them for other people and about how her own personal list was going. It turned out to be a really juicy conversation! As a result I've been thinking about my own 100 Things. I don't have time for that tonight but I'll give you a few bites of food for thought.
1. I'm 37
2. I was born in the Live Free or Die state
3. I've broken my nose 3 or 4 times
4. The only other bone I've broken is my collar bone
5. I broke my collar bone watching Mr. Rogers
6. I'm addicted to TV, even the shitty stuff (but you knew that)
7. I have a dog, Emily
8. She's the first dog I've owned, no matter what my mother says
9. My middle name is Hungerford
10. 99.999% of all conversations I've had revealing #9 have gone like this: "What's your middle name?" "Hungerford." "What?"
11. Roses are my favorite flower
12. #11 makes me feel common
13. I have 2 cats, Anna & Elvis
14. They were born under my bed
15. When asked my birthday I used to say, "January Ninth Wednesday."
16. I went to drama school in London
17. I lived in Newcastle Upon Tyne when I was 7
18. My beloved childhood cat was named Blackie
19. The apartment I (and Wells Fargo) own is the first home I've owned
20. I have committed adultery
21. I don't share blood with the cousins I like
22. My favorite movie is Secretary, or maybe Fight Club, possibly Home for the Holidays, no wait, the Sure Thing...
23. Sometimes I eat ice cream for breakfast
24. I like kids
25. I don't want to have any of my own
26. I could adopt, though, you know, theoretically
27. I have a BFA
28. I wish I were a photographer sometimes
29. I am chronically dehydrated
30. When I was a kid I had chronic nosebleeds to the point of waking up with blood all over my face
31. Recently they started again (part of the dehydration thing)
32. When I was a kid I thought that the whole world was an elaborate play/film set and that when my parents drove us somewhere, like to my grandparents, it was basically driving around in circles to give everyone time to change costumes and switch the sets.
33. One summer at my grandparents cottage I tried to tell my mom I was really scared that #32 was true but I couldn't do it
34. Now I realize the part of my brain that bought into that fantasy was inherited from my mother
35. I wrote a possibly perfect character sketch in High School and I gave it away and I miss it terribly. What was wrong with me? I'd never heard of a damn copy machine?
OK, that's all my brain can take. I can never even get through someone else's 100 Things all in one sitting, why should I be able to get through my own.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I'm sitting in an airport reading blogs. Man, it's been a long time since I flew. They have internet! But they wanted to smell my shoes and my mascara. Weird.
Anyway, was reading Bitch, who linked to Shelley, who included a transcript of the first White House press conference to mention AIDS.
I didn't move to New York until 5 years after that conference. I knew about AIDS but wasn't very aware of the implications and the problems. However, I was studying a field that was being decimated by this disease about which we still know relatively little. I learned a lot, fast, and no one ever, ever laughed.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Quick bit of housekeeping. Chili just commented about doing partial loads of dishes and made it sound like the worst thing about that is the extra cost of dishwashing liquid. This writer spent almost $4 on a cup of cocoa this morning because I couldn't remember the Starfucks terminology and accidentally ordered a large instead of a small. So, cost like that not so much an issue for me. It's the environmental impact of all the water doing that washing. It's bad enough that I use a dishwasher at all but I'm not ready to give that up yet, however, consistently running partial loads is just way too much guilt for me. Doing it to keep BeBe at bay during a party, though, I can absolutely do.
Here's the funny. I just had a repeated belly laugh. Oh my god. Once Mabel arrived on the scene I basically stopped watching Mad About You. I'm catching all the reruns right now, though, (DVR!) and while I still don't love the episodes and probably wouldn't watch them over and over there's always something masterful in them. I just watched an ep where Paul buys a house without consulting Jamie. There's a running gag with a table and chairs owned by the house sellers, it's a limited edition set made of barrels with naugahide cushions on the seats that squeak when you stand or sit with a delightfully musical farty wheezing. They use the chairs beautifully in one scene where they punctuate an argument and add a laugh to some fairly dry dialogue. By the way, Rhea Perlman plays the wife part of the selling couple. The bumper out of the episode and over the credits is all 6 people from that one scene playing Joy to the World by standing up and sitting down on these cushions. In and of itself it's funny, really funny, but the kicker is, of course, Helen Hunt. Everyone else is stoic, staring straight ahead, concentrating on their bell choiresque job. From the get go you can tell Hunt is getting a kick out of it but as the song goes along she breaks Harvey Korman style. She has to cover her mouth to keep herself quiet and she's looking around for some sort of agreement from the other 5 people in this ridiculous situation and she's just broken. It's so beautiful I watched it 4 times in a row and couldn't bring myself to delete the episode from the DVR. Do not discount the importance of a belly laugh.
Now, on to the serious. It's World AIDS Day. The stats on AIDS in the world are shocking. When I was 18 women between the ages of 18 and 24 were the fastest growing contractors of HIV. That statistic has changed to people in that demographic but still. It's easy to see why. It's an STD and at that age it's hard to have the confidence to assert oneself in sexual situations but you can't deny how much you need to explore the territory. It's scary to think how easily it could be prevented and how hard it is to prevent it oneself.
But you know what's more scary? The stories that Steph is finding about women and lung cancer. Women who are not only non-smokers but also very healthy...you know aside from the whole lung cancer thing which makes you about the most unhealthy you can be since you're soon dead.
Dead. Which is, by the way, not yet curable.
I remain on the hunt for ways to increase our effectiveness when we are donating money or writing letters or generally screeching into the void about these problems. A few weeks ago I found myself alone at work with my boss' wife. She's a delightful woman, very open and approachable, active in a number of charities on a national level and extremely well-informed on all sorts of issues. While I was supposed to be working on a bunch of other things and getting out in time to meet Audio Girl for dinner we somehow ended up talking about a number of issues. Stem cell research, politics, cancer research, diabetes, donating and how to focus donations. I had the opportunity to ask her the questions I've laid out here over the last year and she was wonderfully open to the discussion. Her advice was that we should all take initiative in earmarking our donations. When we write a check or send in a donation we should let the charity know what specific programs we want to fund, whether it be patient care, research, specific types of research or gala fundraising, we need to say what it is. She stressed that we can't, of course, be certain that an organization will actually send our money in the earmarked direction but that it's a first step and we can then make strides toward accountability.
During this holiday season I suspect you may be donating at least a small amount here and there. I strongly suggest that you earmark it and that you check on the track record of your particular charity. Sometimes certain regional chapters of a national organization use their money more wisely than others.
This afternoon I did some randomizing and out of maybe 11 blogs I read at least 4 of them were by, for or about young women with cancers, usually something that was working quite hard to kill them. It sucks that guys get cancer, too, I'm not discounting that, but I'm focused on the women, I'm wondering why it's happening and I'm angry that solutions are not more forthcoming.
Thoughts, research, and comments gratefully accepted.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
During my post-turkey Open House last week BeBe decided that I should clean up a little, keep ahead of the mess before the next wave of guests. I was about to walk out of the kitchen (after following her instructions, of course) when she said, "Run the dishwasher!"
"But it's only half full." I replied, shocked.
"Oh who cares, get 'em clean!" she ordered.
Thinking about that today I realized why she (and, presumably other good housekeepers like her) clean the way they do. They're chasing the dragon, that elusive high of having "finished." Whereas I look at the fact that cleaning is never finished or if you do manage to "finish" it's only for like 2.3 seconds before you, or someone like you, messes it up again and simply give up. "Oh it's never going to be finished anyway, who cares if I do it today or tomorrow?" Seriously, even when I'm placing the last lovingly laundered pair of granny panties in the drawer I'm still wearing underwear (usually) so the laundry isn't technically "finished".
I far prefer things like NaBloPoMo, things that can clearly be completed. In my time zone there are 3 hours and 59 minutes left. As long as...as soon as I wrote that sentence a little "test connection" warning popped up from Blogger. This is not good. Going to just keep on trucking and hope for the best.
I wanted to do a wrap up post. I was looking for something to put a button on the whole experience of this, excuse my arrogance, First Annual NaBloPoMo. I'd like to do that by honoring the commenters. I loosely made a pact with Chili that I would both post and comment on one thing per day throughout the month. I kept half my pledge. But the thing is, I've loved the comments this month. I've met a lot of new people who have passed by and I've heard new things from people I've known forever that I didn't know were even still reading. It's been so cheerful and like a real honest to goodness conversation over here which is what I've wanted all along. So I feel guilty for not returning the favor by reading and commenting more this month. This post is my too little too late attempt to make up for my comment slacking by highlighting the people who didn't slack.
ProfDoc, I think, kept her promise to comment on something every day, and a lot of times she chose to comment here. Thanks for that! Always good to hear what you're thinking.
It turns out that I played some part in turning both Chili and Vanx to the Geek Side where they have started whole blog communities of their own. I knew I gave Chili some of the technical basics but I thought Vanx only came to me after he started out on his own. He tells me differently: "I got into blogging partly because of you, actually. I had started reading a blog called Darn Tootin'. You may remember engaging me in a slight difference of oppinon about the Gilmore Girls in that guy's enormous comment chain. That kind of stuff, which was happening there and elsewhere (I also got addicted to Astonished Head, which I found by Googling a song title--"I Got Drunk and I Fell Down" by Uncle Tupelo) was fun. I had just written a parody of Howl for the 50th anniversary of Ginsberg’s reading, so I started a Blogger account and put it up. Then I read something about Johnny Cash here, and did something on Johnny. We commented on each other's Johnny posts. Then I read your entry on your grandmother...etc."
When I wrote about refrigerating my garbage I got responses from the most unlikely sources. Chili, Chili, who's like an actual homemaker: "I go one step further - I sometimes throw stuff into the FREEZER, so it won't grow into a vicious beast that will harm my children when they open the door to get some milk." Christa who seems like such a nice, wholesome American girl: "Definitely I do this, especially on the weekends. Trash doesn't get picked up til Friday. Of course come Thursday, I've forgotten all about it." My favorite, though, is Sam totally ratting out her boyfriend: "My boyfriend does that because wasting food makes him cry. He also likes to drive empty wine bottles around in his car as though he were going to take them to the recycling center." Like he's a kid playing pretend recycling just the way dad does it. He sounds like my kind of guy.
The discussion about wish lists for gift giving occasions was classic. Almost everyone feels guilty having a list at the ready but almost everyone does and it's usually the right way to go. I agree with ProfDoc that I worry about asking for something and accidentally squelching a great surprise. I also want a peek at Miss Rebecca's annotated and illustrated letter to SantaMom.
Danielle on Home for the Holidays: "Oh, how I love this movie." Couldn't have said it better myself and so glad for a comrade in arms.
Then there's the Yankee Swap post. The original post is still driving all manner of traffic to my site and the re-visiting post has some delightful comments. Suzanne has, undoubtedly, the best Yankee Swap gift of all time: "This year, I am giving a card that says a donation was made to a charity (of MY choosing, but I'll keep it generic -- food pantry, probably) and a chocolate bar. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!" But Amieable makes it clear that she actually feels my pain on the family Yankee Swap issue: "Holy mother of God, you just described my maternal grandparent's Christmas horror. Complete with the politeness, but my aunt wants it to be a TRUE "White Elephant" (that's what we call it) so she forces people to swap. It's the worst thing in the world to shop for (how are you supposed to find a cool $20 gift for both an 18 year-old female and a 50 year-old uncle?). I dread it every year." Sister, let me see if I've got an old box of mints in a drawer from my family swap days. I'd be happy to lend them to you.
Finally, sort of a bookend, JippyJabber was the first of the NaBloPoMo people to stop by and say hello. Better than that, she keeps coming back. Thanks for breaking a path, it's been great to meet you and I hope we keep seeing a lot of each other.
This was fun! M. Kennedy is, as advertised, a brilliant, bold and beautiful woman.
Happy NaBloPomo everyone! (Don't worry, I'll be back tomorrow anyway.)
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I find that Christmas is like a purse.
You carry a cute little clutch and you pare down to essentials. House key, cash, ID, lipstick, acceptance speech, possibly cell phone and you're fine. You can get through anything you need. You upgrade to a nice Coach shoulder bag and you definitely take the cell phone, probably wallet, check book for sure, some face powder and mascara and your PDA, stick those letters you want to mail in the outside pocket. Those stylish hobo bags are just an accident waiting to happen. You can pretty much throw your clutch and the shoulder bag right in there still full of their items. Add a book to read, hairbrush, notebook, bottle of water, snack, just one small sweater to drop at the dry cleaner, some hand sanitizer and you're pretty much a chiropractor's wet dream.
With Christmas, though, it's emotion and you're not exactly the one carrying the bag. It's like some other bigger being is stuffing a purse and depending what sort of event they're attending you have to deal with what they decide to pack.
Last year it must have been some swanky evening event. My Christmas was like that clutch Renee Zellweger wore the year she won some award. I crammed a lot of tiny, shiny, important things into my celebrations. I had short but pleasant and meaningful visits with everyone that I wanted to see. We accidentally started a new tradition of an evening of kick off drinks with my generation of friends. The glitches were minor, the schedule ran like a German train time table and I felt that I'd done the very best possible job at the experience of Christmas for me and for the people I love.
Six years ago apparently someone decided to go on a hiking trip for the holidays. Two dead grandparents (one from each side of the family for that evenly spread feeling of crapitude), selling of the homestead, angry great aunt, broken car, adulterous affair going sour, frigid temperatures...after the snowstorm. I remember sitting at a TV tray in my Great Aunt's living room with my mother and practically shaking with anger as I showed her the 2 months of unpaid bills I'd been carrying in my backpack. She just paid them all even though neither of us had any actual money and I just sat there feeling equal parts relieved and like Princess Loseria of Loserdonia.
This year is shaping up to be a very large shoulder bag for me. For others it's going to be that goddamned hike. Shoulder bag and balancing act and a wait and see attitude. Nothing we Capricorns like better than a wait and see attitude. Oh yeah.
I hope you're getting the evening clutch. Or if you get the shoulder bag it's full of pretty, shiny, light things.
And...the dog just horked up everything she's eaten in the last 2 hours undigested and largely unchewed so I've got to go.
Today MarkyB turns thirty-ten. He's not the sort of guy you usually use euphamisms like that with but this year has been a little different. This is a guy who wrote "Grandma Gave Me the Finger Today", he wrote another song about a guy who actually gives a chick his left arm for a night in bed and both songs are hilarious. Not the sort of guy who, in a room of people, gestures to his son and says to his wife incredulously, "We make great babies!"
Normally I'd totally make fun of that but Mark tends not to do anything by half measures. There's a depth of feeling and an honesty of emotion that you'd have to be a real dick to rib him about. Me? Just a fake dick, so not to worry.
I wouldn't expect that he'd read this blog either but apparently he does. We're driving along the LIE earlier this month and he starts talking to me about some NYC Marathon contestant. I said I probably didn't see her. He's all, "You wrote about her on your blog!" Well, then.
Since we know he'll be swinging by at some point please leave him a birthday message in the comments section. Or, if you'd like to give him an even better birthday gift, go buy a couple of his CDs. Nothing says Happy Birthday like "I love your music!"
Mark, Happy 40th birthday! You know what this means? It means I've known you almost half your life. And I still love your music.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Since the beginning of the month I've been meaning to write about how I ended up in the midst of the blogosphere. I often find it really frustrating that my friends don't get the attraction. These days more of them are getting pulled into the Geekdom and even some who aren't are reading this blog. What better place to explain and what better time to do it than the homestretch of NaBloPoMo? (FYI every time I write that abbreviation - or say it for that matter - I have to slow down, screw up and back space a bunch of times.)
When I told Miflohny about this blog she said she'd read whatever I was mentioning but politely declined the invitation to the blogosphere since she felt it was an awfully impersonal way for people to keep up with friends and family. I had never realized people used blogs that way and this is the story of why.
Many, many, many years ago I was working for a specialized circulation magazine. The people there liked me so would often give me jobs for which I was entirely unqualified simply to keep me fed and clothed and because they felt that smart outranked experienced. (Love that attitude!) I showed my gratitude by surfing the internet a lot. It's so good they don't know what an awful person I am.
At the time Dawson's Creek was on. I was just getting obsessed with it and, somehow, I really don't know how, I ran across this site called Dawson's Wrap. Two extremely intelligent and well-educated hipster chicks wrote snarky, incisive recaps of Dawson's Creek every week. I loved the feeling of rehashing the show with someone since, at the time, no one I knew watched it. (Apparently I was not alone. That site became Mighty Big TV and then Television Without Pity. It's one of the biggest pop culture web sites on the web and employs way more than just 2 chicks now. It does not employ me, however. I didn't even get an interview. It's OK, I'm not bitter. Just crushed.) They published just that once a week and I lived for Thursdays.
As I poked around the site during the rest of the week I noticed some links. Each of the women had online journals. So did some of their friends. So occasionally I would go over to one of those journals and read. Sars had a specific publication schedule - every Tuesday, broke up the week nicely with the Thursday recaps - and I fell in love with her humor and began to read religiously. I clicked on every link since I had no grasp of the preview bar at the bottom of my window and since it was all so new and fresh that every link seemed a stroke of genius. It was years before I could pass by a linked word without clicking even though it didn't take me long to realize that if she was talking about a book that'd just be the book's Amazon page.
Some months later Sars was nominated for a Diarist Award. These awards were (Are? Pretty sure were is right. There was some controversy. Some ballot box stuffing. It was a popularity contest not a talent competition. It got ugly in only the way that anonymous commenters and flame wars can be ugly.) given out quarterly. The nominees are posted for a period of time so people can vote then winners are announced and they can put a shiny new award picture on their web site as long as they know the correct code. I toodled over there and read some of the nominees. I read the archives, sometimes all the archives of certain nominees, and I picked out a few favorites. It then became my routine at work each day to go to the Diarist page and click on my old nominated favorites for updates (Hello potential employers! I am efficient and trustworthy.). Many quarters later I was still confining myself to the elite group first nominated with Sars. Most of these people wrote anonymously and if their family or friends read there were strict disclaimers about what sort of meddling was allowed. Almost everyone who wrote about personal stuff had a horror story about someone being offended by a rant that was meant as a brain cleanser or about something that was meant as a joke and came off a little too true. A lot of those people had closed up shop on their known blogs and come to a new space with their anonymity and their stern disclaimer language intact.
Eventually I branched out into the nominees and winners from other quarters. From there, as I'm sure you all know, it was like a virus. Each blog just tells you who their friends are and links to interesting posts or people with riveting life stuff happening and you end up reading more and more almost without meaning to. I had 10 or 12 people I read weekly and I'd read about someone who had 100 or more daily reads and my mind boggled. Not so much anymore. It seems an easy thing to have happen. If people are prolific (Hello NaBloPoMo participants!) it can take me an hour or more to get through my daily reads. I have weekly reads too, and then there's the new people from NaBloPoMo who I'm getting to know. I don't have time to read someone's whole archives these days, that way madness lies. But god I'd like to with a lot of people. Miflohny, once she became pleasantly surprised that I wasn't just chronicling my commute for the information of my out of town relatives, made the supreme commitment and read all of my archives in order from the very shaky beginnings. Now she will occasionally e-mail me a comment and say, "I'm almost caught up." Which is how I know it's time to post a couple of new entries. Oddly enough I haven't had that e-mail this month.
I find myself overwhelmed with the sheer variety of people I'm seeing through the randomizer (please keep that baby running come December 1st and beyond, it's like yummy candy and I need candy). I want to read all day and all night but I am expected to work rather a lot at my job these days and at home there has been massive overhaul pre-party and now there is Christmas to be hog tied and beaten into submission with a tinsel covered stick. I'm not the sort of person who can read one entry and be all, "Not for me." I have to read everyone for a little while, check out some archives, look at the Flickr photos and then eventually trickle off with the reading if it's actually not for me. I'm stubborn like that, I don't like to let anyone go.
So what I'm really looking forward to is the awarding of NaBloPoMo prizes. I feel like that'll be a manageable (though still extensive) list that I can treat like the old Diarist Award nominees. I can cuddle with them over the next year and get to know them and decide with whom I gel before we embark on this delicious freakshow again next year.
In the event this whole prize list thing doesn't pan out for me, though, please stop by the comments section and tell me where to find your favorite blog.
Monday, November 27, 2006
A long while ago I wrote what is probably still my favorite blog post on this site. It sits there in the archives quietly. I thought it was sitting around doing nothing. Since I got the Sitemeter, though, it turns out that it's been driving traffic to the site almost every day. Partly it must be the season. So, go check it out, I think you'll laugh. Let me know if you need to know where to get a Dukes of Hazzard scarf.
How you doin' on those Christmas gifts? Ready to start wrapping yet?
I keep an Excel spreadsheet with the gifts I've given to people over the past few years. There's a column for ideas for the current year as well. I had grand designs about tracking expenditures, too, but so far that hasn't happened. Maybe next year.
Queen Bee and her sisters have been working on Christmas for a couple of weeks now. We did two or three rounds of e-mails discussing some big ticket gifts that we might all participate in, which was nice, it knocked a few things off my spreadsheet. Then they asked me what I wanted. I named a couple of things and showed them my Amazon Wish List (it's right there on the sidebar) and let it drop. I always feel weird telling people what I want for any occasion. Queen Bee said she was surprised I hadn't sent the info in a spreadsheet and I explained about the weirdness.
To me it's just a common sense organizational idea to spreadsheet one's giving but it feels greedy to spreadsheet the receiving. Yet, as a giver, it's always helpful to have a list and if someone handed me their spreadsheet I'd be grateful for it. OK, sort of grateful and sort of annoyed.
I feel like I ought to know what people I'm close to want, and that I ought to be magic enough to figure out the right gift for someone that they'll love and that will make me look smart. I have been lucky enough to hit that balance with a lot of people but, of course, not every time. For instance if I ever hit that balance even once with ChemE I will stab myself in the heart right there and die happy.
My biggest success rate is manipulating the wedding registry. I like to cobble together theme gifts with something from the registry and something off the registry to make it personal. When my cousin got married I got them a cake plate and a cookbook holder they wanted then a cake cookbook that they hadn't asked for but, you know, tying it all together. It was either that or I was going to get them a big bowl and a popcorn popper they registered for and then a selection of DVDs to funk it all up.
Anyway, so, blessing and a curse, right? What's your opinion? Do you have a wish list that you share, or would share, with people who asked or do you think it's a bit of the skank?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Just got home from an exciting but ultimately unfulfilling game between the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres. The Rangers showed up with their usual hard hitting*, delicate passing and the genius of Heinrik Lundqvist. Sadly they were outmatched by a combination of the Sabres dumb luck, their speed and some truly shitty refereesmanship. I mean, I am the first to admit that I often see a call and disagree with it vocally and vehemently only to watch the replay and have to sheepishly recant. However, when some simian puts his stick under Jagr, kneels on the old guy then rears back and thwacks him across the face I have to stick by what I'm seeing and wonder why you aren't calling that.
Anyway, none of that is important because it has no bearing on the best moment of the whole game. The Rangers heroically clambered over this shit-ass ref to get themselves into overtime with a 2-2 tie. As they skated out for the OT the legend that is Jaromir Jagr looked down at his stick, he flipped the blade up toward his face, ran his fingers along the blade then dipped his head and, wait for it, kissed it.
I am not making this up.
*My beloved Darius Kasparitis has been in neither of the games I've been to this year. I've looked on the internet and all I can come up with is some vagueness about a groin injury followed by a "conditioning" stint on the minor league team in Hartford. I miss him. But I have to admit that Hollweg is taking over nicely. During the second period, already sporting a black eye, he checked someone so hard and so sloppily that he knocked the guy's helmet off. The ref called it but play wasn't stopped so, knowing he was already going to the bad boy's box, he rolled up on someone else and just clocked him, didn't even try to disguise it. The student may be surpassing the master at this point.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Watching the clock as the minutes tick down toward midnight and the voice in my head nagging, "Don't forget, don't forget, don't forget. What are you going to write? Any idea yet? Any thoughts?"
A million thoughts actually. About drunkenness and the obligations of those who watch one drink. About presents both giving and receiving. About parties and popularity. About cooking and cleaning and other domestic pursuits. About my pretty, pretty new hair. About money. About pecan pie.
Can't get anything going, though.
Let this suffice as the clearest glimpse you'll get over the 30 days into my true weekend brain. Lots of ideas, little or no follow through.