Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing It Out

I don't know if I originally got this from Linda but she's the one who makes it easy to do. For some reason this is the meme that makes me take the new year assessment seriously.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Traveled further west in the US than I ever had before, visiting Mt. Hood, Portland and Seattle. Signed up for Twitter. Posted to the internet via my phone. Played Rock Band. Euthanized a beloved pet.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

It seems I didn't make any resolutions for 2009. A lot of this year was an experiment in flying by the seat of my pants, sans lists, sans plans, sans confirming phone calls. It...worked but, you know? I think I'll get more done if I get back to my lists.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No, no one super close. Someone I recently rediscovered via Facebook gave birth early in the year. And another one adopted. They're both half a world away (in slightly different places). I'm excited for them and their kids are gorgeous!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My dog, my dear girl. It was horrible. It still is.

5. What countries did you visit?

Still trapped in America. Have my birth certificate now (so much less impressive than I thought it would be) so I'm once step closer. At least I explored more of America. I checked out the wild west and I got more familiar with Wisconsin and Chicago.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

Here's what I said last year: "A passport, a job I love, an answer to my cat's health issues, sex." I think I'll stick with those and add a flash, a 50mm lens, an 18-200mm lens and a finished novel.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

October 3rd was the day I woke up and realized I'd have to let Emily go.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Gosh I don't feel like I accomplished much this year. Does the fact that I'm still standing here now count? I threw myself my dream birthday party when I turned 40, that was pretty awesome and I still cannot thank everyone who participated enough. It was exactly what I wanted!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not following through on my writing and performing projects enough is a huge failure and one I continually repeat. Time to break that cycle.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Got the swine flu but, frankly, it wasn't all that bad, at least the version I got.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The best thing I spent money on was having the vet come to my home to help Emily go. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have walked her to a place she hated in order to kill her. She got to go at home with just us. Worth every penny and cost much less than I thought it would.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

You know, there are a lot of people but, at the risk of playing favorites, I have to say that I've spent the year both envying and celebrating Zelda's ability to move forward, live in the moment and make things work. I don't think she's felt like it was her most successful year and yet I see someone who consistently pays attention to her priorities and works toward her dreams. I've got a lot to learn from her.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I've been exposed to some of the craziness of the internet this year. It was instructive and depressing to have a front row seat to the power of the squeaky wheel, the narrow mindedness that can prevail and the useless application of artificial drama. In honor of all those people I failed to kick in the gonads: CUNT!!!!!! Cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt. Cunt. Fucking cunt.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Health insurance. Have I mentioned that in September my monthly premium went up by $300 bringing it to $1530 for just me? I met a relatively famous doctor/author the other day. He had the grace to be appalled. It made me like him even more.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My birthday party. My trip out west.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

Oy, I always have trouble with this one, just not wired this way. For the last month it'd probably be the soundtrack to 1776 but for the whole year? No idea.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
 a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?

a. Sadder. Definitely sadder.

b. Little fatter. Thinking about how I want to handle that.

c. I think slightly richer which seems impossible. Don't think that's going to be a trend.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

In the immortal words of me last year: Work on my career.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

As I said last year: Worry about my job. Also, play computer games to soothe my mind.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With friends and family up north. Had beef stew for dinner which was unbelievably delicious!

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?


22. What was your favorite TV program?

Man I love TV. Glee, Mad Men, Saving Grace, Sons of Anarchy just to name a very few.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I probably do but since they only sign on to the site as "Anonymous" it's hard to tell.

24. What was the best book you read?

Not a book but a play. Sara Ruhl's Eurydice is fucking spectacular!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Chopin Ballad by Melanie Doane, maybe. Didn't make a lot of discoveries musically.

26. What did you want and get?

Clarity about when to let Emily go.

27. What did you want and not get?

Not to have to let her go.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

This sort of question makes January seem so very far away. Maybe a tie between Away We Go and A Single Man. I recommend both very highly.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Had dinner and fancy drinks with a close friend on the actual day then threw a huge, 2 venue party the next day. I turned 40.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

To have had one of my plays produced.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Mmmmm, comfy.

32. What kept you sane?

Am I sane? What I learned about my sanity is that walking my dog was my meditation time and, now that I don't have that, my coping skills are suffering. I'm still working on what to do about that. Writing keeps me sane and always has if I let it. Friends, friends, friends.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Without knocking any of my old celeb boyfriends off their pedestal I've greatly ramped up my admiration of Craig Ferguson. His combination of goof and intelligence is ridiculously alluring.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Health care. How could it not given where all my money went?

35. Who did you miss?

Emily. Todd.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Turns out I didn't meet a lot of new people this year. Fortunately I did meet Aaryn Belfer both online and in person and she is glorious.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

I've learned parts of the lessons around death but I learned some of the more wrenching ones in depth this year. Not excited I had to but can't downplay the value.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

How about a little Dylan (thanks to Sons of Anarchy for pointing it out):

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

and from the incomparable Kander & Ebb there's a snippet from Cabaret's Maybe This Time:

All the odds are in my favor
Something's bound to begin
It's got to happen, happen sometime
Maybe this time I'll win

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Couple of Things

First, I'm writing about aging over at The Women's Colony today. Frankly, I'm not in favor of it.

Second, I'm in full on NEW BEGINNINGS mode over the coming new year. As part of that I dug up some exercises shared with me by my Life Coach years ago. I'll paste in at the bottom of this post her list of "25 Powerful Questions." I don't know how many of my answers I'll share with you but there sure is a lot of food for thought in them so if you'd like to share some of your answers or thoughts on the questions please do!

Hope you're having a good second to last day of 2009!


1.     What do I really, really, really, REALLY want?
2.     What do I enjoy doing most?
3.     What does _______ look like, specifically for me?  (Fill in the blank with one of those vague terms we all use, like “fulfilled”, “happiness” or “success”.  Use this to get clarity on what this really looks like for YOU.)
4.     What is the quality I’d most like to develop in myself?
5.     What is the best that could happen?
6.     What is fueling me, where do I get my energy?
7.     If I do _______, am I doing it to make ME happy or just to make someone else happy?
8.     Who is the person I most admire as a role model, and what is it that I admire about him/her?
9.     What do I need to do to take better care of myself?
10.  What am I afraid of?
11.  What is the one thing about myself I am most afraid of admitting to anyone?
12.  What is missing?
13.  Is this a “should” for me or is it something I really want to do?
14.  What am I avoiding that I need to face or deal with?
15.  What is the worst that could happen? And if that happened, what’s the worst that could happen after that?  (Keep asking this until you have gotten to the absolute worst case scenario.)
16.  What is important enough to me that I am willing to change?
17.  What am I willing to change, give up, or do differently?
18.  What do I need to let go of that is draining my energy?
19.  Have I said yes to a commitment that I now regret?
20.  What things did I love doing as a child that I’m no longer doing?
21.  What if there were no limits?
22.  What have I achieved or accomplished in my life that I am most proud of?
23.  If my life were ending, what would I most regret NOT doing?
24.  If my life were ending, what would I be happiest about having done?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fare Thee Well My Good Girl

 Today, after a slow but irreversible decline, JRH's Beagle, Heidi, had her date with destiny.
 Fare thee well, pretty girl. You are sorely missed.
You all know the drill, extra treats for everyone, don't make them stretch their necks out reaching, either.

Compare & Contrast

A few years ago a friend turned me on to a historical fiction book series, The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. She loved it with abandon and hoped I would, too. I did, I loved it and continue to love it so much but it's really and truly not for everyone. We Lymond devotees may be few and far between but are rabid in our connection. You can actually see a slightly manic light go on in a fellow lover's eyes when you identify yourself. The series is hard to explain, though. My friend calls it "swashbuckling" and it is. It's written by a Scot about Scots but not nearly all of the action takes place in Scotland. There are mysteries and foreign languages and classical texts I've never encountered and minor historical characters mixed with major fictional ones. There's death and love and torture and adventure and jewels and far off lands and I'm getting a little moist just thinking about it. I could go on to the end of the internet telling you every last thing about it, tripping over my own tongue, but I don't want to spoil the experience for you. If you're going to love it, and you might, there's no way to tell, I don't want to tarnish that adventure for you in even the smallest way.

In the past year or so I've had three or four people who, when I mention Lymond, have said, "Have you read Outlander? It's the best historical fiction I've ever read. I love it!" So I've been wanting to read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon but haven't wanted to know too much about it, I don't like things spoiled for me. Over the last couple of weeks I read the first Outlander book and it made me realize one important thing: The people who are recommending Outlander have never read Lymond. Simple, right? How is this a revelation? I don't know, I just assumed (stupid, I know) it was an apples to apples comparison for some reason and it's not. It's like I said, "I've discovered I really like Asian pears!" and someone has replied, "You do? That sounds fantastic, you must try these heirloom tomatoes." They are both fruit and yet there is pretty much where the resemblance ends. Both series have Scottish characters and some of the action takes place in Scotland...yeah, that's about the size of it.

Yet, since the one was recommended to me, however inadvertently, because of the other I have been thoroughly unable to stop comparing them. (SPOILERS TO COME! But mostly for Outlander.) Outlander is science fiction with its time jumping aspect and is written in a modern language with a lot of the hallmarks of the modern novel. Lymond takes place solely in the 16th century and the language, customs and surroundings remain firmly within its confines. You aren't going to find anyone taking anyone else's throbbing hardness into any slick-as-waterweed caverns in Ms. Dunnett's work. It's just not how she rolls.

Outlander's Jamie is a wonderful character. I fell in love with him right off which is no surprise because he's designed exactly for that. He's no Lymond, though, mostly because he is designed to be adored. How can he not be? He's protective but he loves a strong woman, he's smart but not too smart, he wears a kilt well, he can fight his way out of pretty much any tight corner. He even gets ass raped and cries about it in a charming and deliciously manly way. Gabaldon leaves you no room for doubt, he is the man and you will squirm whenever he is near and in the best possible way. Lymond (Oh Lymond!) is not perfect. He is very nearly designed so that you will not love him. He is complex in a way that is almost 4 dimensional there's so much for one to learn. He is intimidatingly intelligent, protective but not obvious about it, ruthless, scheming, loving, gentle, and deeply, deeply damaged in more ways than a single much ballyhooed ass raping can damage a man. Yet, Dunnet does design him for you to love. She makes you work like a dog for it and when you do finally love him it is the more valuable for the sweat and tears that brought you there.

I should probably have said sooner but I really like Outlander. It's a compelling but not strenuous read and I ran through the first book of well over 600 tall pages in a little under a week, I'd say. I'm not trying to bash the work though I know that in the shadow of my adoration of the other series that it may come across that way. If I have one major quibble with Outlander thus far it's Claire. Good Christ on a hunk of authentic Scottish shortbread that woman can be a fucking idiot. She can set all the tiny bones of a hand, she can kill a young soldier in hand to hand combat, she screws like Venus herself and yet when her arch enemy lies lightly unconscious on the floor and her love of many a lifetime is battling for his health and well being, she can't keep a little eye out to prevent the aforementioned dastardly officer from popping up out of his daze and taking her hostage? Seriously? That's poor play is what that is. It's laziness on someone's part though I won't venture whether it's character or author. I've only just begun reading Dragonfly in Amber, the second Outlander, and I'm not surprised that Jamie doesn't appear thus far because from all the first book taught me he had about 2 more good weeks in him before her inconsistency landed him in a pot of hot tar with a feather pillow on which to rest his thoroughly dead head!

If I may be permitted another comparison the way the stories are told is entirely different as well. The Lymond Chronicles are intricately layered from the intent of each scene to the arc of the entire series. Even when a single interaction may seem off the beaten path you know that if you read it over enough you'll be able to tell how it is integral to the life purpose of the title character which leads him from the first page of Book One to the last 15 harrowing, tear jerking pages of Book Six. I'll be the first to admit that, having only one Outlander under my belt (so to speak) I can't rightly expound on the full arc of the series but going on what I've learned of the way the first book came together that's not how Gabaldon operates and she certainly doesn't need to. Her serial, almost Dickensian, approach to the adventures of her erstwhile time traveler charms and engages the reader with only a few places where you might be tempted to second guess or wander off. I mentioned Outlander over at the Colony a while ago and someone said she'd couldn't get through it because she wished the author would just get on with it already. I could see why she felt that way. I don't completely agree but I absolutely understand. Maybe because I was looking for that when I started out, who knows?

So for everyone who said they love this book like no other, would take it to a desert island and find something new in it every time they read it through I guess I have to say I disagree. Which is cool, there are plenty of favorite books to go around, thank goodness. Just because it's not on my short list, though, doesn't mean I'm not enjoying it and being pulled along by the proverbial plaid waiting on the edge of my seat for what happens next.

Don't spoil it for me, please!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Frag. Ment.

I've been writing in my head all day today.

That doesn't do us much good here, now does it?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

T. I. R. D.

Having returned I've had a lot of time to think about how I could have been better and how much better I was than I have been once upon a time. Not enough time, though, to sort it all out. Instead I sit here with cats close (the better to punish me for having left them) and a truly incomprehensible (to the unlearned on the subject of Mr. Dylan) movie on the tube. Yes, I'm excited to be talking to you again but yet the thoughts they do not follow along in a straight duck-like line. I am inexplicably tired, though I napped aplenty on the bus and spent a solid hour this evening in my bed reading my book (whole other post...entirely).

Let's instead, talk gifts. That's innocuous and frivolous and fun enough for me, I think. Tell me what you got! I'm sure my list is incomplete (and, honestly, as much as I loved some of these gifts they are far and away not the most important part) but here it is:

A metric tonne (yes with the ne) of chocolate
A bottle of bubbly (already happily consumed)
More than one pair of socks (my feet are grateful)
A neck warmer made of bamboo and silk
Formal wear for wine bottles
A cool candelabra sort of thing that balances in a wine bottle
Battery powered (someone knows my cats!) tea lights for the candelabra
A plushy kind of throw to warm me
Chopsticks brought directly from China with love
An iTunes gift card
Many lotions and potions all in chocolate flavors and smells
New bras
A purse
A vintage cookbook with a killer recipe for smothered chicken
Shoelaces for a cause
A final container for my beautiful girl (Thank you Kath & Kath's dad)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fave a Fave

My favorite part of yesterday was probably when Queen Bee went barreling into each kid's room with their stocking, jumped on each bed and cried, "Wake up, wake up, let's see what Santa brought you!" It was made even more delightful by the fact that the "kids" are 17 and 20 and that ritual hasn't lost any of its luster over time. Everyone was happy to get up and see what Santa brought.

And I was happy to take pictures of it. 

What was your favorite part of Christmas this year?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gettin' A Move On

I'm off and running today. Fingers crossed for smooth sailing. I will not be taking flight (hopefully) so there shouldn't be too many headaches.

Someone remind me that I've got luggage in the under bus compartment.

Hope you're having fun!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Hate Decisions

Remember when I took that cool photography class to learn about my camera and it was petrifying and I learned so much that my head exploded and then the teacher put it all back together and made me better, faster and stronger? Remember when I said that I could only see that he taught the one class and I wished he taught more because I'd take whatever class he was offering? He's offering a class on using flash with your digital SLR at the end of Jan. It's $290 and I'd need to, you know, BUY A FUCKING FLASH!

I hate decisions.

It's Tuesday And Yet...

It seems I don't have a list in me. It's all I can do to follow the one master list that's getting me safely into the next year. Pony Express did send me something, though. She's my official NY Times reader and if something comes up that I should see she sends it. She knows I'm terrible about checking in with it and will miss things. Today it was a piece in one of the Times' neighborhood centered blogs about the caroling event I participated in on Friday. She noticed because my picture was right there at the top.  If you click on the photo there's a slide show with audio of the singing and some of the interviews that reporter Daniel Tucker conducted throughout the evening. It's not long, maybe three minutes, but probably less and it gives you a nice little bite of what the 'hood is like.

So I'm in the NY Times...sort of. That's fun.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Quite honestly, I don't know what to tell you right now. A study in interjections, perhaps.

I got a bonus!

I don't know about the rest of my payment for 2010.

I ate delicious macaroni and cheese!

I did three things on the way home from work!

None of them were the three things I needed to get done!

I did not realize this at the time, I had to come home and read my list.

I woke up an hour early this morning to worry!

I am not that person, I do my worrying before I sleep. Seriously, how else do you let sleep help you escape?

I read instead!

I do not understand why, when told that I like The Lymond Chronicles, people immediately recommend Outlander. Granted I'm only about 150 pages into Outlander but so far the only thing they have in common is that some of the action takes place in Scotland.

So far I like Outlander. I figured I would.

Tomorrow will come anyway.

It always does.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowpocalypse Report

Wind: Fierce

Snowflakes: Tiny and multitudinous

Driving conditions: Dismal

Walking conditions: Perfectly fine (with 17 layers of clothes on and wind at back)

Accumulation: Minimal but increasing (hard to tell, see above re: wind)

People who are out without hats because they thought the hat would would ruin their hair: Thwarted

Children not wearing gloves and not putting their hands in their pockets: Killing me

Conclusions: Yep, it's a snowstorm all right and yet...I think we'll survive.

Completed For Your Perusal

In case you were holding your breath waiting for the final shots of the crazy light display they're all posted now.
It should be noted that I didn't do anything to these to make them creepy. I just document the facts.

So Close, So Very Close, And Yet...

You already know that I drove a long way to a funeral this week. What I've only alluded to is how frightfully banshee-mean Aunt Rena was during the memorial activities. It was demoralizing in ways I cannot yet express.

I got back, I got through a couple of days of work, I kept up with my responsibilities. Never quite got my head on straight but I was wandering in the right direction anyway. Christmas prep feels like a greased goldfish whose life I'm failing to save but I'm plugging along and figuring I'll be forgiven if it doesn't all come out even.

I fought to keep this evening free to go caroling. I got home from my day of things away from the internet to find a flaming bag of electronic poo on my digital doorstep that required extinguishing and disposing of and then disinfecting, which Jesus I did not want and I can't be any more specific but Dear Santa please send NO DRAMA UNTIL JANUARY 10th! No need to wrap. I got the extinguishing and the disposing done and then went caroling.

Caroling was delightful and just what I needed. If you don't have the back story, the experience of Christmas is to me like being repeatedly kicked in the 'nads while onstage at the Miss America pageant. (That is an exaggeration but I like the visual.) I have trouble with it and I find that if I participate in some sort of singing event during the "festive" season I am just generally better able to keep from sitting down in a snowbank and crying myself to sleep. (See Above re: Aunt Rena and boy howdy, I might need to attend a singing event every day between now and the time I see her in order to keep myself out of jail.) I used to go to D. Jay's Christmas Show but then he died so no fucking Christmas show anymore, he only appears on my iPod now. So I went caroling and it was all it was supposed to be and for that I am truly grateful.

It was also a learning experience, in that one of the long time organizers seemed to be having a tough time and needed to tell his story in depth. His story is one of having a beautiful and unbelievably talented daughter who loved to ski. While skiing near her college she ran into a sapling, was in a twilight coma sort of a situation and died a year later before they could even get her home. He has dedicated himself in a variety of ways to preserving her memory and doing good in the world in her honor. He needed to talk about it and, while sometimes it was a little uncomfortable, I was actually honored to hear it all.

Got home from that, did the disinfecting, tried to catch up on the less dramatic parts of the internet and, while checking my Flickr contacts, came across this sweet-as-the-10,000-cookies-I-ate-while-caroling photo of Sueb0b's dog, Goldie.

That was, apparently, the proverbial straw. You guys, I miss the hell out of my dog. I don't want to have to think about when or how or what kind of new dog to get. I don't want to save money on dog food and vet care. I don't want to be able to go anywhere after work and not pay for a dogwalker. Just bring my fucking dog back. Leave her out front, do a ring and run and nobody will get hurt. OK? No charges pressed, no hard feelings as long as she's back in one healthy piece before I have to get up and go to the godforsaken post office in the snow tomorrow.

Is that really too much to ask?

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Say This With Love

You know I love you. You know that I understand your need to keep everything in your purse and pockets in a very specific order. I know that you're afraid of misplacing things and there's a method to I don't think you're crazy. I really don't! I get you.

I want to make a loving suggestion, though. All out of love. All out of a desire to save you pain (and possibly a grisly holiday-themed death).

In this busy season you're going to find yourself in a lot of long lines. They'll be long when you get into them and they'll be long when you get out of them. It's simply the nature of the beast. I want to (lovingly!) suggest that you not, after you have finished your transaction, stand in front of the clerk to put all your things back in your bag and your pockets and tucked safely in your waistband. Especially, just for instance, if you're in the post office. The post office is full of other counters and tables and empty flat surfaces at which no one expects to transact any business.

I know, I know, it's scary to think of moving, even a few feet. I get that you feel as though you could lose something in even that short span of space and time. Let me explain what I do in cases like this. I don't put anything away, even temporarily, in front of the clerk. I hold it all out in front of me. Usually I grip my open bag with one hand and everything else with the other, holding it all about a foot out in front of me so I can see it. Often I don't even manage to stand all the way up so I wind up shuffling toward any available surface like an osteoporosis-suffering supplicant. No matter! This is not about image, it's about safety (and a little bit about courtesy, just sayin'). Keeping it all out in front of me keeps all the bits and pieces (purchases, receipts, money, debit card [I live in terror of misplacing my debit card]) clear not only in my sight but in my mind. When I get to the surface (at the most busy times I have been known to use the floor as a valid surface) I lay it all out just as obviously and there I stand (or sit in the case of those busiest times) putting it all away in the specific pockets and crevices and compartments. I can fold and file and re-package to my heart's content and lose nary a useless coupon for something I don't even want.

And the best part? No one in the line behind me wings the 17lb box of homemade divinity fudge they're sending to grandma at my head. (With love!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Missed It By That Much

I missed it again. I thought of it for weeks in advance and then, on the day, other bells rang but not this one.

Seven years ago...yesterday I left work in the early afternoon, took a bus to a random conference room full of people I'd never met before and signed my name a thousand cramped and frightened times. I left that conference room with a gifted bottle of cheap champagne and a set of keys and got back on the bus to finish my day at work. Yeah, I didn't somehow even manage to get a vacation day for the closing on my first home.

That night friends gathered and sat on the empty floor of my steamy little abode drinking champagne (not so cheap) and wondering what in the name of little red cranberries would make someone paint a wall the color of Cyndi Lauper's hair.

I think I'm probably part of this community now. I think the oldsters might believe I'm planning to stay. The guards know me. The ladies watch out for me. The porters forgive me my recycling transgressions.

When people ask if I rent or own I still can't say simply, "I own." I have to qualify. "Own. Well, me and Wells Fargo." It's mine and I love it but it remains hard to believe that something might not happen to snatch this particular rug out from under me. I am seven years closer, though, seven times 12 payments closer to taking Wells Fargo out of my sentence.

Drinking champagne on the floor in here continues to be a most sweet indulgence.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NWW: A Tiny Taste

 A tiny test of the festival of lights Kath took me to last weekend. (Thank you Kath!)
 More to come.

NWW: Imperfect

I don't think I got the perfect shot during our brief Christmas card shoot. I keep rethinking it. Next time I'll know how to do it better. I did, though, get more than one photo that, while imperfect, are so pointedly her, the person I've known for over 30 years. So, even if she maybe won't want to share these as representative of her family I'm really glad to have them around since I can't fit her in my wallet.

Some Reminders

After a long day on the road to think punctuated by some intense family time I have, of course, a lot to tell you. Today just a few things skimmed off the top.

First and most important if I ever become as crotchety, frightened and downright cruel as my Aunt Rena (must be seen to be believed, I know you think you know but you do not) you not only have my permission but my insistence to put me in the passenger seat, get the car up to a healthy speed and OPEN MY DOOR. If you must give me a bit of a nonchalant (but forceful) shove so be it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again but let's remember and let's have it cached on the internet that when I go you should donate whatever they'll take and burn the rest. It is my plan to make that wish legally known this year, which I know I've said before but I do honestly think I'll get done this time. Weirdly it feels as though it will be easier since I don't have to worry who to ask to take the dog.

After I go I would actually like it if you'd have some kind of ceremony and get together. I suggest you go if it happens. There are a zillion reasons why but you don't need me to tell you about them just know that I've had a little experience in this area and going to the shindig does good things for you. (Don't cancel a vacation or lose your job or anything but if you can make it without dire consequences.) Even when it's hard. At my particular hootenany please have music you can sing along to. In harmony when possible. Please tell stories, they don't have to be "appropriate." If you can work it out to have it someplace where you can have an adult beverage with you while you tell the stories so much the better. (Stock up on hip flasks now.) Please serve various salads (ham, egg, chicken, tuna, seafood) on those weird finger rolls with a slit in the top, slightly undercooked Duncan Heinz brownies and punch with ginger ale for fizz. On the off chance I wind up doing a fly by those things will help me to understand that I'm really gone.

Last but frankly not least please continue to spread my important word about the dangers of the Yankee Swap. I know I usually re-print my cautionary tale here at this time of year but in the interest of helping a wider array of people I've slightly tweaked it and posted it in the Salon over at The Colony (should be up later today). I did not, however, include the recent story I heard where someone went to a Yankee Swap for her husband's company and wound up with a McDonald's hamburger with a bite out of it. Everyone else avoided the package because they knew the guy who donated it but did they warn her? Remember, friends don't let friends Yankee Swap. (Edited to add: It didn't wind up in the Salon. I don't know why. It actually wound up in a no man's land. You have to go to the main page and scroll down to see it. I'm really sorry it's not easier for you guys from here to find my stuff over there.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Things Road Trip

1. I'll be road tripping for most of today. My cousin's memorial service is at 2:30pm in New Hampshire. Mapquest says 4 hours 44 minutes from the rental place in Manhattan to the church for the memorial service. The plan is to arrive at the rental place at 7:30, depart the city by 8 and be in Manchester around 1pm.

2. I have snacks. Dried, salted green peas I'm pretty excited about. I've got chocolate covered pretzels. Hoping I can engineer a stop for some good hot chocolate before I get to the highway. Otherwise I'm stuck.

3. I do not stop once I get going. Extreme need to pee (extreme!), lack of gas, starvation, falling asleep at the wheel, those are about the only reasons.

4. I might relax the above rules a teensy bit on the return since I'm not coming back to something time sensitive. Except, you know, sleep.

5. I'm a little tense about getting lost. I tend to get lost in Manchester. It makes me cranky. I have mapquested and printed and toyed briefly with the idea of renting a GPS.

6. I'm so not renting a GPS. I'd be too tense about learning to use it. Don't need more tension.

7. I don't have a smart phone and I'm not stopping anywhere but the church for the memorial so I'll be offline all day, which is probably not so bad a thing. I can Twitter from my phone. I may succumb but I probably won't have any time.

8. On a whim I priced plane flights to do this. It'd be over $600. My car rental is going to be just over $50 plus gas, food and the car service to the rental place at the crack of dawn. Won't even approach half the price of flying. The trains and buses don't even really go there. It'd probably take 1.5 - 2 times as long to get where I needed to go and there'd be all the extra tension of wondering whether the buses would conform to the schedule I needed. What did I just say about adding tension?

9. I hope the rental car has an aux input so I can hook my iPod right up. I'm thinking the only way to handle a trip like this is with a sing-along, so show tunes and Christmas music. Fortunately I'm well stocked on both.

10. This is going to be an exceedingly weird day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Like Snowflakes

I am not the world's biggest expert on death but I have made this trek for this purpose more times than...well, than is strictly decent. As I packed up my snacks and charged my music and laid out my clothes and printed my directions it all felt so...odd. Despite the fact I wasn't thick as thieves with my cousin and that I hadn't seen her for a years it feels surreal to be packing to go to her funeral.

This won't be my last trek but I'm continually reminded it will be the last one that's just like this.

This Ought To Help

There's very little dignity in being Santa these days. Have you noticed that?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Again and Again and Again, Please

Check out the girl's new glasses! She can see! Just picked them up on Friday, still getting used to them but she's stylin', I think.

Our trip was, predictably, a success. We had a good time, the Jolly Old Elf was as kind as can be and we had plenty of time to get to brunch. The rain was a bummer but we're OK with not having everything. We had all the important stuff.
All the important stuff except a brick for that girl's head. We need to weight her down somehow and keep her from growing right up to the sky! She's only 8 now and it won't be long, not long at all, before I get a crick in my neck looking up at her.

It's a sight I love to behold.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hold Here, I'll Be Right Back

Kids, I have to get up earlier tomorrow than I do on a regular work day. There are few people for whom I would do that. No, not Santa, my girl, Alita. I think it goes without saying that my internet presence will be minimal until the festivities of tomorrow are concluded.

Live for the moment, eh?

Call me selfish, I just wish those moments woke up later.


Not literally but, of course in times like this, I am struck by so many things. I mean, why do we bother with Christmas, it just doesn't matter. I could, honestly not care one whit less. We should be so lucky this year to be able to get through normal everyday things with some measure of grace, why do we need to do anything else?

I'm struck by the dichotomies. Tomorrow we see Santa and then there's brunch and then very soon after that is Alita's end of semester theatre class performance. My first instinct is that I've got to drive 10 hours and go to a memorial on Tuesday (turns out the most efficient and cheapest way to attend is to rent a car and drive up and back, anyone want to keep me company on a road trip?) and I need to get my ducks in a row for that so I'll skip this performance. On the other hand my cousin was sitting at a regular Tuesday night dinner, fell over and died (what were they having for dinner? did she like it? did she miss dessert? I'm having dessert first from now on!) so I'd better get my ass to the performance because I might not get another chance, you know?

The relentlessness of it is becoming pretty obvious. I set my things down in the grocery store yesterday, looked up and there was a poster of a the nephew of an employee all kitted out in his dress blues. Right below that, his dates of birth and death (whooo, 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan). Teddy's having a tough day today. I've been reading about Anissa Mayhew's recovery from her strokes. Nanny's kidneys are failing. One more thing and one more thing and one more thing as we go.

This last one you probably won't have guessed, though. The genius of Joss Whedon has become a little more clear. He wrote and directed The Body based on the death of his own mother. Buffy's mother, recovering from a possibly terminal illness, has an aneurysm and dies on the sofa. My favorite quote from that episode seemed like genius the moment I first heard it but at that point I'd not know anyone who'd died in such unpredictable and unpreventable circumstances. The quote seems even more pointedly brilliant now. So, I'll leave you with that:

Anya: But I don't understand.
[begins to cry]
I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's- There's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. And-and Xander's crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.

Friday, December 11, 2009

No Surprise

It will come as no surprise to you what today's assignment is. It's two-fold and it's easy.

1. Do something nice for yourself, doesn't have to be big, but give yourself a moment or a something and don't put it off.

2. Do something nice for someone you love. Again, this is actually a case where size doesn't matter. Could be as teensy as a surprise text but I can't say it enough, don't put it off.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thank You

You guys did well. A conclusion is coming. We've had word that Jen is brain dead and probably has been since the moment she collapsed at dinner last night. Wheels are being set in motion to remove her from the machinery and we'll see what happens next.

These pictures are from the last big family reunion I went to, which is probably the last time I saw Jen. Must have been 2005. The little one at the top is her daughter who is, surely, the one who needs us now. (On the bottom you can see my mom in the background taking one last pass at the buffet. Earlier that day while we perused the desserts I said, sotto voce, to the immediate family, "I wonder who brought the eclairs. I need to know if they're the good kind." Jen piped up, "I brought them and they've got the good stuff inside. They aren't the icky whipped cream kind!" We didn't have much in common but we had stuff like that.)

I hope that you're all well and safe tonight. Thank you for all your help.


I missed a call from my mother apparently. Fortunately she called back. Unfortunately she has news to tell me but of course never the news one expects.

My cousin, Jen, had a brain aneurysm that burst last night. She's in a coma on a ventilator and the prognosis is as bad as you might suspect. Strangely today is the anniversary of our grandmother's death.

On the bright side Mom and Aunt Rena went to Jen's house for Thanksgiving and had a glorious time. It was the best holiday they could have asked for.

If things go as we suspect Jen will leave behind, among others, a husband and a young daughter, a devoted father and my mom, an Aunt who she connected with in some ways far better than I do.

My mother and I wish for Jen the best possible outcome. If she's able to come back to her full life we would, of course, love that. If, as we suspect, the kinder thing is a conclusion we wish it to be swift and simple.

Mom asked me to put Jen in a prayer circle. I don't have one of those but I have you. If you could please hold Jen in the light I'd really appreciate it.


I went out and combined some work errands with some personal, seasonal kinds of errands. In my travels I discovered that Bide-a-wee, a local no kill animal shelter, has taken over a nearby storefront to sell paraphernalia, offer pet portraits and encourage pet adoption during the season of spending. There's a sign on the door saying "Come in!" and minimal supervision so in I went. At 40 years of age you'd think I'd know better. A very Lorry-esque cat lounged just out of reach in a big cage and 2 puppies frolicked in one of those enclosures that were used as playpens for human kids when I was young.

The puppies were a big draw, of course, with many a cell phone picture being taken. The smaller one was a labrawhatever and the other one was a houndeesomethingorother. I finally got a moment with them and I leaned over to pet. The houndee was a big buttinsky, didn't like the other dog getting more attention so I spoiled him a little while the labrawhatever got attention elsewhere. Houndee was so happy he reached around and nibbled my jacket sleeve. I stopped petting, said no and waited and he immediately got the message because he wanted more petting. I was happy to oblige. A few moments later a woman came in and stood beside me to join in the petting. When houndee nibbled her pin-neat houndstooth sleeve she said no, retracted her arm carefully and stood up. The petting was over. She said to me, "I once got a dog because I thought it was cute that he went after me biting like that. Didn't go well." I did not say, "You think?" I just kept petting.

A little while later I donated a couple of bucks and exited at a jog.

If you leave the shelter crying and wanting to punch that ignorant wench in the Burberry clad tit it's probably too soon to get a new dog.


I mean, I'm no expert but...


Girl, Removed

I was reading this post over at Shutter Sisters about how hard it is for a photographer to turn the camera on herself. That struck me as odd because I don't usually have a big problem with it. I mean, I'm not in a ton of photos, I'm usually the documentarian. I tell everyone to go ride the four wheelers or pose with the tree or hold the dog and I'm OK. It's more important to me that the moment be preserved. I hoard the moments. Sometimes I wish other people were documenting me but again, it's the moment that's far more valuable in my system.

Then I thought about the photos I do take of myself. There are the ones I snap quickly here at work, the ones of my head surgery, the occasional party photo. I wondered why they didn't bother me the way this woman was bothered. It's not that I'm completely unselfconscious. I mean, if that were true I wouldn't be taking photos at all I'd be out riding the four wheelers and going on the auditions and singing the karaoke instead of greedily grabbing each moment to lock up tight inside my camera.

I think at least a part of it is that if I classify each photo as documenting the event then it doesn't matter what I look like. It's just recording for posterity. Here's the new ring I got, here's what I look like at this weight, here we are with Santa, here's what I look like with 20 stitches in my head. I, in essence, remove myself from the photos in order to make it OK that they're taken.

Isn't that interesting?

Dare to link to a photo of yourself? Something you don't normally use on the internet?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tenny Ten Ten Ten Tennyson?

I thought I should theme and then I couldn't get behind it so no theme just 10 Things.

1. I think I'm going to buy my wreath today since I'll be around to enjoy it now. It's the only seriously festive thing I do this time of year but I like the way it smells.

2. I re-posted my pro-Choice piece at the Colony yesterday (please disregard the fact that I put one photo in twice, if it bugs you please know that it bugs me about 1000 times more I am livid with myself). The discussion is pretty good, slightly infuriating (for all sides, I'm sure) but polite. Also, for all you teachers out there Mrs. G is feeling your pain. Aaryn's all over race & childrens' books and NJ's opportunity to do the right thing.

3. ChemE sent me home with a tin of cookies for me to share with Pony Express, who had taken care of my delicate felines while I was away. I really need to get her share of cookies to her ASAP. They are in grave danger.

4. Why can I not start Outlander? I keep bringing it places and doing my best and then I'll just be overwhelmed and start something else instead. What is up with that?

5. One of the things I read instead was an anthology of Sarah Ruhl's plays. I like them all a lot but the final one, Eurydice, just exploded inside me. I want to do that play, I want to be that woman, I want want WANT!

6. There are a lot of open slots still on my Christmas giving spreadsheet but I feel less worried about them since I got everything I wanted to get for ChemE before I went to see her and I know what I'm getting most of the kids. I always assume the kids I know will have been given the classics (by my definition) by their other, cooler relatives. It's almost never the case. And thank goodness for that!

7. I feel I should be given some sort of medal for not turning into my mother and completely spoiling Poochie La Peste (pictured above) this weekend. When she came zipping into my room in the morning and stood on her hind legs to see if I was in the bed still I very much wanted to scoop her up under the covers and snuggle her until she submitted to the delights of the down comforter but that would have been way against the rules so I did not. I spent a lot of time talking to her and petting her and laying around on the floor to snuggle her (if you're on the floor you're in dog territory, it's within the rules). I just think that if she gets snuggled consistently it will help her nerves. (She's an Oscar-worthy drama queen, oh my heavens to Betsy Ross!) I am probably wrong but I still think it.

8. There's a hole in my shirt. It's a cheap ass shirt and I made the hole myself using it to shield my hands when I was opening a bottle cap but I forgot about it and am now wearing it to work. I feel like an ass.

9. I have listened to the high rise fire safety lecture every six months for approximately 7 years now. If I ever lose my job do you think I can get one going around to high rises and running the fire drills?

10. Today one of my tasks is to set up the holiday lunch for my "company." My company is me and the 2 people I work for. It's a holiday lunch not in the party sense but in the "we'd like to take you to lunch" sense. And the trouble with being the only wage-earning worker in the company is that I have to set it up. It's no trouble, I don't mind setting it up and it's really nice that they take me to lunch but it's slightly....awkward, you know? Now I need to decide where we should go. The place with the fabulous mac & cheese we went to last year? Some place new? The fish place from 2 years ago? Hmmmm, suggestions are welcomed.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

She's Not A King But She Returns

I'm back and I have much sugar to show for it.

Couple of pictures, too, but I'm too tired to elaborate so I thought I'd throw in a couple of photos as placeholders while I reorganize myself.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Apparently we did not clap quite hard enough. Not to worry, Tink's still alive and all but Santa did not swing by on his flatbed this morning. Oh well. I got a good shot of him waving to us as we entered Lights on the Lake so I don't feel at all gypped. Making a few dozen holiday cookies will put you in the spirit, no trouble at all.

Hope you're feeling the spirit tonight! (Dirty!)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Didn't See This One Coming

My aunt & cousin's younger boxer, Brindi, died today. She was only 5 years old, was seemingly in fine health, had a seizure and passed away. Please fill your pets to bursting with treats and love today, please.

On The Road Again

My trip to IN fell through. Did I tell you that? While I was in WI I got a call that a number of people involved in the evening had been forced to drop out due to circumstances beyond their control. They aren't my stories to tell but, quite seriously, there wasn't a bad excuse among them. So I am not right now panicking over learning lines and riding in a car with a friend and a near stranger for upwards of twelve hours. I have instead gone back to Plan A.

Plan A was devised and nearly executed mere hours before the offer to go to IN came in on the cell phone. I felt terrible asking if Plan A could take a back seat to the theatre trip even though it was a fabulous chance to do some work I've really been wanting to do. But here we are back to Plan A so terribleness can be dissolved.

Plan A involves being on the top deck of a double decker bus writing to you wireless while I trundle northward to Syracuse. I'm off to visit ChemE for the weekend. Apparently now that my dog is dead I'm a weekend trip sort of a person. (Next stop? ATLANTIC CITY!) Once I arrive in the frozen north we'll probably walk the pesty dog and then the cooking will begin. We're going to cook stuffed shells and chocolate cake and Christmas cookies and rum balls and who knows what else.

I'm really, really, really hoping that we'll also see Santa. Apparently he comes through the neighborhood accompanied by an entourage of local firefighters on a random Saturday in December. There's no warning until the fire trucks roll through and everyone grabs shoes and coats over their PJs and pelts after Santa on a flat bed truck. Oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please let it be tomorrow. My camera is charged and ready.

What are y'all doing this weekend?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Next Steps?

So I got the following comment on one of my Mermaid Parade pictures on Flickr:

"That butch dyke should be forced to undergo intensive daily psychiatric therapy and medication over the course of at least a year for her public display of sick and debauched perversion."

I blocked the person but should I report them? This seems way over the top wrong to me, it's super offensive and relatively violent so I should give Flickr a heads up, right? Unless someone thought it was sarcastic and funny...hell, it might even be the woman in the photo, I didn't click through to the person's stream. I should do that. But if it isn't do I report?

Opinions, please.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Me In Wheres That Are Else

Do you know that I Twitter? I don't know if I told you. If you follow me regularly on Facebook (I don't do that with many people. There's already kind of too much crossing of the streams for my liking.) then you're getting most everything I twit. Tweet. Twat. Whatever.

I did a post on book recommendations at the Colony yesterday. Five(ish) for adults and Five(ish) for young adults. I wonder if you agree...

And today I did a Cabana post over there which is basically a like a Hot People post here but they like you to have more words and fewer moans and grunts. If you've been here for any length of time you'll recognize the guy, not to worry.

NWW: Dignity

One of the numerous things I love about Bobby is his loose relationship with dignity and the importance thereof.

Yeah, there are bigger things brewing in the world but today, this is the only subject I can handle. Look at the hilariously cute dog. There's nothing else to see here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

WAD 10

1. Today is World AIDS Day.

2. When I moved to NYC the era of AIDS activism was just beginning. During my first weeks of college every class had an element of AIDS education from Freshman English to Stage Management. Would that it were still thus.

3. Some may not remember that the level of shunning and panic over AIDS in the US in the 80s is comparable to what's happening in Africa now. Contrary to some belief that doesn't make us better than them, it just makes us further along in the process. What would make us better (not than them, just better) would be if we made it a priority to help stop the shunning and increase the education both here and there.

4. I remember disparate facts from those early lessons. It would take 4 gallons of infected saliva injected directly to an open wound to transmit the virus from one to another. The fastest growing demographic of HIV+ patients was women aged 18-24. "This is your best friend" (holding up right hand) "This is your best friend. THIS is your BEST friend!"

5. The organization I volunteer with on Thanksgiving is God's Love We Deliver. They were started in the 80s to deliver meals to home bound HIV and AIDS patients. Since their creation they have grown enough, and HIV medications have improved enough, that they now deliver meals to people with a wide variety of ailments that keep them at home.

6. Dionysas once told me, in glorious detail, how to apply a condom with one's mouth. I really wish I had that lesson on video.

7. I enjoyed the TV series, Life Goes On, but I was hooked on it for the high teen angst Chad Lowe storyline where he played Becky's HIV+ boyfriend.

8. Rent was, I believe, the first major play to address "living with not dying from" AIDS. It has become, I suspect (have no proof), the most commonly known media touchstone for that kind of education. Rent's creator, Jonathan Larson, died the night before his show opened at New York Theater Workshop perhaps of complications from HIV.

9. No, it turns out that Tony Kushner's Angels in America which addresses HIV and AIDS even more directly was first (1991 premiere) but is less widely known, even after a star studded HBO miniseries treatment.

10. You are not immune. And neither am I.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where's Zero Mostel When You Need Him?

Here we are at the end of another successful NaBloPoMo. I had one close call that Zelda got me through. I'd set the post up to go automatically and for reasons that remain unclear it did not post. This is why community is important, folks.

The whole endeavor is enormous now. I don't feel I participated in the larger community as much as I might have. I could cite the busy or the holiday or the fact that I normally write all 30 days anyway. I would be remiss, though, if I didn't mention that my one attempt at venturing out was met with a frosty, frosty smackdown. No excuse, I could have tried harder. I would like, next time, to do so if for no other reason (and there are plenty) than to honor Eden Kennedy's successful creation of a beloved tradition.

I am a sucker for tradition. I love it. I like knowing exactly how things will go and what I should bring. Small tweaks (all hail veganizing!) are good, huge changes are bad (boo change!). I get that tradition can't last forever. I get that some people hate traditions, or hate their family's traditions, and I hear you. I just don't agree. Did I love driving miles in the snow late on Christmas Eve and having to take a no thank you helping of carnip (don't ask) at dinner the next day? No. But I hate that it's not an option anymore.

Creating traditions is hard. I've tried. Especially as an only child of divorced parents who has remained single and child free, trying to get other folks to jump on my bandwagon is sysiphean in scope. I have met with...varied success. It is success nonetheless.

On Thursday I met up with a Canadian-American friend and we walked around delivering meals and admiring architecture and searching for post-parade sights. It is, for me, the perfect way to spend that day. I had other places to go later in the day and I was grateful for that new experience, too, but when my friend told me (as she does every year) "I want to do this forever" I can't tell you how important that was for me to hear.

Friday brought my annual Open House. I cooked and cooked and cooked - which you've heard all about - and people came and ate and ate and ate. Some years are more successful than others here. I've had years when almost no one has come and then years like this one where we ran out of bubbly and had to send out for reinforcements. What I'm learning, though, is that I'm grateful for the fact of it no matter who shows up. Setting the time aside, having the food and spending time with my people, however many of them are available, is what makes it a tradition for me. And, not for nothing, more than one of this year's attendees made sure to tell me that they counted it as a tradition for them as well.

So today, as we say goodbye to another NaBloPoMo, I salute traditions, the large and the small. What's your favorite one?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

How Do You Spend Your Time Off?

I've given myself the treat of catching up on all my photo processing.
 I had a whole month of images waiting to see the light of internet.
I'd forgotten I'd taken a lot of them.
 I'd been eagerly awaiting others.
 As always you can see the rest on Flickr.
 There are plenty more where this came from.
 What have you been doing with your extra weekend hours?
 I can't wait to hear.