Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Post of 2010

Ah, 2010. I'm a little sad to see you go. Unlike some of your relatives, who DEFINITELY overstayed their welcome (I'm talking to you, 2006 and 2007 -- don't give me that look! Y'all KNOW what I'm talking about), you were a delight.

We've had some good times, you and I. That trip to Busch Gardens with my mom? Stellar. I think she really appreciated that I think Guiness and a cupcake are the lunch of champions at amusement parks-- especially since I then went on to ride several roller coasters. My mom is the BEST.

Speaking of my mom, thanks for the excellent weather we had when we went to Maine this summer. It's not every day that a girl gets to go to her aunt's wedding AND hang out with a nephew from Japan. (Okay, technically he's my cousin ... but since they're teaching him to call me Auntie Yellie, we'll just all run with it.) Travelling with my mom is really one of the best things ever... even 22 hour road trips, in the Rabbit, with the cat in the car. Wouldn't trade ANY of them. So, again, thanks for that, 2010.

Oh, and I should thank you for making my sister happy -- she had great weather for her wedding, and we're anxiously expecting the birth of baby J. So excited. You were good to my family.

I owe you one for being around while I got it together to move back to New Hampshire. Oh sure, I had my rocky moments, it's true (such as not quiiiiite knowing where I was going to live, and then taking an apartment sight unseen) but it all worked out incredibly well -- I've come to realize that if you leave it alone, things actually WILL work themselves out. Who knew?

I can't get over the gifts you gave me:  The Army of Dorkness. Delta Kappa, the world's smallest sorority. Holidays with the VanScoy clan. The Dan check-ins. The return of Albert (seriously? Best Christmas gift ever). Reconnecting with Mr Corey (you sneaked that one in at the last minute! You're so good!). TJ's runs with Flinkie and Neeecole. The work crew. You know, those tiny, insignificant blessings of love and friendship that make life bearable.

Oh, and the other thing you gave me: peace. I know, I know, I was kind of carrying the possibility of it around all the time, but I wasn't ready until this year. Silly, to be sure, but there it is now. So -- thanks.

So long, 2010. I hope the next year is as awesome as you were.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday Doesn't Even Start

The trouble with daily blogging is that some days, it's very difficult to think of anything to write about. I've taken to making notes during the course of my day, in case I think "Oooh, I'll want to write about THAT later" but, like many of the things I scribble down during the course of the day, they later make zero sense.

However, in an effort to honour my own efforts to make the daily blog happen, I am going to take some of my more obscure jottings and try to say something about them. This some of what is written in my notebook:
*shoe things?
*Not deciding is a decision
*Rubber duckies!
*calculus
*bedroom tv

1. Shoe Things?

I don't know what this means, to be honest. A few weeks ago I was on a mission to find purple shoes. Why did I need purple shoes, you may be asking.

BECAUSE.

That's why.

I have a hard time finding shoes that fit properly because my feet -- well, they're large-ish. They're like air craft carriers sitting there, attached to my ankles. I have big feet for a girl, it's true. So buying ANY shoes can be a challenge (except for flip flips; I have a zillion pairs of flip flops because they're easy to buy), but purple shoes? Total pain the the tushie.

I did eventually find a pair -- score -- of lovely, eggplant coloured suede 3 inch stillettos. ON SALE. They're glorious. They hurt my toes, but they look GREAT.

Maybe that's what I meant by "shoe things?" -- but I don't really know.

2. Not deciding is a decision



This is followed on the page by a giant, all caps and heavily underlined ARGH!!!!! Apparently, I was frustrated, though not frustrated enough to remember what it was that I am referring to here.
 
I can struggle with indecision, it's true. Sometimes, I struggle with knowing if I even have to MAKE a decision -- is decisive action required here? Or can things just go on for a little bit longer before decisions have to be made? And, of course, at some point, not deciding really does become a decision ...
 
That IS irritating; I must have gotten over it, though.
 
3. Rubber Duckies!
 
I love rubber ducks. I don't know why. I don't HAVE any, either, because I already am a minor collector of a few odd things: gargoyles. Jellyfish. I don't need to add rubber bathtub duckies to my assortment of stuff that is accumulating, I don't think. The exclamation point indicates that I was REALLY excited about the duckies for a minute there -- and as cute as I think they are, I can't imagine getting THAT happy about them. (Unless maybe it was a disco duckie dressed in a gold lame leisure suit. That would be awesome. I would totally need that... but then, who wouldn't?)
 
4. Calculus
 
I took calc, and I clearly recall being quite traumatized by the experience, but I've mostly blocked it out. So unless I was meaning to write about the horror that was this class --which I will spare you, but know this: TERRIFYING. And also, tedious -- I don't know. (Though I will say that the fact that calculus isn't really even fodder for a blog is additional proof that it cannot ever be used in a real-life setting. So there.
 
5. Bedroom TV
 
This one I DO recall. I was conversing with friends about tvs, and many of them were discussing having televisions in their bedrooms.
 
I don't have a tv in my bedroom. I actually hope NEVER to have a tv in my bedroom. I don't want to watch tv in there. Ever. You know what I think bedrooms should have? BOOKSHELVES. Which makes me think -- I don't have any of those in there, either, but that would be awesome. I should get on that. Maybe later... and maybe when I do, I'll have something to actually write about.
 
Unlike today.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pretty

My sister is really beautiful.

It's kind of annoying, mostly because I've never witnessed her NOT looking completely lovely. In sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt? Pretty. All dressed up, ready to hit the town? Ravishing.  Two hours after having her tonsils out? Sleepy, but again, lovely. Wheat coloured hair, brilliant blue eyes, peachy complexion -- did I mention it's annoying? It's totally annoying.

I'm mentioning this today because I'm sick, and I just caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. Unlike my sister, who is at all times super cute, I am ... not. For one thing, I'm kind of pale on a good day (and when I say "kind of pale" what I actually mean is "Casper white") but when I'm sick? Vampires would look at me and wonder if I'm one of them. Zombies might actually quake in terror. CHALK looks ruddy in comparison.

The dark circles under my eyes are a really nice contrast, by the way. At least purple is a colour, right? Red is too, which is good because -- that's the shade my nose is sporting.

My sister is pretty when she's sick. I'm pretty -- scary, actually.

However, all of this not so pretty did get me thinking: WHO was the genius that invented makeup? Who was it?

Some of it I totally get. For example, foundation makes complete sense -- it evens out your skin tone. That's cool. I can see why you'd think that might make one look better. A little blush -- especially in my case -- might make you look like you have blood coursing through your veins (and less like I might sparkle when exposed to the sunlight, a la Twilight). You know, healthy. Healthy is attractive, right?

Eyeshadow, though? Lipstick? Who THINKS of these things? (Hmmm ... you know what would be awesome? If my eyelids were, um ... blue! Blue eyelids would make me look SO much better! Yes, that's working! And now that my eyelids are blue, my lips should be ... peachy pink. I mean, I know they're already kind of pinkish, but if they were PEACHY pink, that would be super fabulous. Woo hooo! I'm GAWJUS!)

Don't get me wrong -- I love playing with makeup. I have a lot of it. I know how to use it. (When you have an annoyingly beautiful sister, you do what you can to look less average.)  I just find the whole thing mystifying, somehow. (Like -- stillettos. Someone had to come to the realization that forcing herself to walk on her toes all day would make her legs look better -- but who arrives at that? How?)

Not that it makes any difference today. Siiiigh. Today is just not pretty.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Belief, Undefined

People are interested in what I believe, lately. I'm not sure why that should be, and it's not something I often discuss, since one of the few things that I DO firmly believe is that there are topics I don't voluntarily bring up in casual conversation, and religion tends to be one of them. Not because I'm not interested in belief systems -- yours or mine or that guy over there -- but because people feel so strongly about those belief systems that conversation becomes debate becomes argument, and I am conflict avoidant (mostly).


However.


This has come up enough recently that I feel like I need to say something about it.  But before I do, a disclaimer:


***What you're about to read? That's just me and my perspective. It is NOT representative of any group, any particular blend of religion, or anything else. JUST ME AND MY TAKE. Got it?***


Moving on.


I was raised as a Baptist. It was a bad fit. I kept trying to make it a good fit.


I was, shall we say, wildly unsuccessful at playing the role of nice Baptist girl. Here's why: Mouthy. Sarcastic. Inquisitive. These things make me fun at parties, but not necessarily a good church-goer. It was, I think, a relief to everyone when I was finally -- politely, but firmly -- invited not to come back.


The message was clear: Jesus still loves you, but we are kind of tired of you.

The experience was liberating but also incredibly destabilizing; if I had loosely defined myself as Baptist for all those years, it was at least a definition ... and I HAD tried. I volunteered. I went to Bible camp. I sang whenever and wherever they asked. I taught Sunday School for a brief and spectacularly unsuccessful time.
The best way I can describe it is this -- Paul Simon sings: "The poor boy changes clothes and puts on aftershave to compensate for his ordinary shoes." I tried to compensate for my inability to assimilate into organized religion through dedicated participation. It didn't work so well, but it was SOMETHING. Now what did I have?


Not very much.


Okay, then.

People kept telling me I'd find another church -- look for another church! -- but it wasn't my thing. It works for some people, I know -- that's what they need to do to feel closer to their version and vision of God -- they feel his presence there. I'm happy for them if that works. It didn't work for me -- I think that, often, people use church to re-enact the most vicious portions of high school and do it claiming to be sanctioned by the God that they are worshipping.

(Having said that, I know that there are people who love their church families, who feel very welcomed and comforted by them, who have been able to lean heavily on them in times of complete crisis. I'm happy for those people and the fact that it works for them. Again, this is just me talking.)


I went about my churchless business. Things happened. Some were good. Some were terrible and painful. I also watched the way people treat each other. Sometimes, well. Sometimes, terribly and painfully.
 
Here's what I noticed: Some of the most compassionate and wonderful people I know have no clearly defined beliefs. Some of the kindest, most open hearted people I have had the pleasure of being friends with are people who would not be welcomed in the church that I knew.
 
That bothers me.
 
So if you want to know what I believe, here it is. I believe that there is a power MUCH bigger than myself. I think of it as God because that's what I'm used to.  You don't have to... you don't have to think of it at all, if you don't want. (Though I have noted that the people who claim not to think of it are the ones who have thought about it the most.) I wouldn't say I'm religious. But I wouldn't say I'm without religious beliefs, as sketchy and unformed as they currently ... except that I am a firm believer in the fact that love heals what's broken ... and that is the central force and factor of the God I believe in. 
 
Elizabeth Gilbert writes in Eat, Pray, Love that, when people ask her what kind of God she believes in, she says she believes in a magnificent God. I like that. A magnificent God.

That's what I've got.


Thanks for asking.

Monday, December 27, 2010

You Say It's Your Birthday!

Which is CRAZY. Because it's MY birthday!

I act like my birthday is New Year's (well, they're very close together, so I can get away with it). Not in the "Drunken brawl and smooching at midnight aspect" (although ... heehee ... there have been times ...) but in the "making resolutions" way. Instead of thinking, "Well, in 2011 I'd like to do the following" I think of it more as "In my 35th year, I would like to do these things."

I've always done this, but a few years ago, an excellent doctor told me that she wanted me to make a bucket list -- she wanted me to SEE that I had things I was still excited about and wanted to do (I was in bad shape. She's a genius... it was a really brilliant move on her part, because first? I'm so OCD that I was excited about making a list, period. I love lists... yes, I have issues).

I made the list... and then I went through it twice, adding, changing, colour-coding. It took the better part of a Saturday, but it was a thing of beauty. Cross referenced. Annotated. Neatly organized.

Achievable.

That's the thing about making a birthday resolution rather than a New Year's resolution, I think. NO ONE sticks with a New Year's resolution... it's chic to make them and equally as chic to break them. A birthday resolution is more -- serious, perhaps? It's as though I'm making a plan to DO something to set this year apart, to make it remarkable... and I'm making the promise to myself, rather than just a general resolution.

It's a present. From me to me.

So what are my resolutions for the big 35?

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The blogging. Every day.

2. I've been talking new tattoo for ... like, three years. This year. THIS IS THE YEAR! (What do I want? I need to decide by ... erm. March)

3. In my 35th year, I will THINK before I speak. Who knows? Maybe it will catch on :)

4. I'm going to try for healthier living in all ways... which means I'm going to have to let go of some things and take on some new things. I didn't say I would succeed ... just that I'd try.

... and that's it. I'm not going to change the world, per say. I'm just going to change mine, just a little bit. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Grace In Small Things -- Sunday, December 26

1. The knowledge that some people will always love you. Period. Even if you are sometimes a little obnoxious.

2. The realization that you TRULY have nothing to regret.

3. The laughter of children on Christmas morning.

4. Macaroni and cheese. (So cheesy. So macaroni-y. So tasty)

5. Birthday cards that have glitter on them.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Saturday Photos (oh, but in VIDEO form!)

In October of 2009, I went to Boston on vacation. That trip made me decide to move home, which I did exactly one year later.

I have never been happier.

Merry Christmas.


video

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

I love Christmas Eve. In some ways, I actually like it more than Christmas. I feel like Christmas morning is always gone so quickly, passing by in a blur of wrapping paper and tape, followed by a overwhelming desire to take a nap.

Christmas Eve is special to me for the memories I have of going to church and having candlelight service; singing "Silent Night" in the flickering light and watching for Santa on the car ride home. It's dinner with family. It's feeling the love without feeling the stress of trying to figure out if people like their gifts, will they be offended if I take that back, how does this gadget even work?

There could -- and often would -- be family arguments and drama on Christmas. There was never any on Christmas Eve.

I often feel like Christmas Eve is more pure than Christmas. Like Christmas is the pretty sister, the one everyone wants to take to the prom, but Christmas Eve is her big sister, the one everyone wants to hang out with -- less showy, thoughtful, and actually more beautiful, but in a quieter way. Christmas may get all of the attention -- the bells! The sleigh! The reindeer! -- but Christmas Eve is where it's at.

It's where the magic is. Scrooge changed his mind and saw his ghosts on Christmas Eve. The Grinch decided to bring everything back on Christmas Eve (of course, his heart didn't grow until Christmas, but that's okay). Santa does his best work on Christmas Eve, I'm told.

See?

Magic.

I hope your Christmas Eve -- and your Christmas, too -- are completely magical.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I remember when a friend of mine, someone I loved very much, came out to me. It was a bit of a surprise -- I hadn't really wondered about his sexuality, because of the eight thousand, one hundred and seventy-seven things I loved about him, who he was or was not attracted to was not on the list. Didn't care. Not concerned.


To make this story more interesting, we'll give him a name. Not his own, because he's not out to everyone he knows, I don't think. We'll call him: Albert.


But when he came out -- which he did in a very funny, very typical, very Albert-y way, at the wedding of a mutual friend, I DO remember thinking, "Why is he looking at me like that?" And when he called me the next day, which he rarely did (talking on the phone wasn't something we did often, as we saw each other every day), he suddenly asked, "Are we cool?"


What? I thought. "What?" I said.


"I was just worried ..." his voice trailed off. There was a moment of silence on the phone. I remember that his breath sounded a little ragged, and then he said, "I wasn't sure how you'd react." Silence. "To me being gay."


"Oh honey, " I said, "I don't care, unless someone is being horrible to you and I have to beat them up and ruin my manicure. Then I'll be pissed."


He laughed and we were fine. Just like that. Two weird kids on the same side of the playground, like nothing had changed.


But to be honest, something had changed... and that something was me. Not because I didn't still love Albert and want to have dumb, wonderful adventures with him ("Wanna go to the park, jump onto the stage, and sing songs?" "Isn't there a chance we'll get arrested for tresspassing?" "Well ... yeah." "What time?") because I did. I always would. Nothing would ever change that.


The problem was that he was afraid that there would BE a problem. That he was afraid my love was conditional. That I would look at him and not see Albert anymore ... that instead, I would look at him and see something else, something that might be bigger than all of the Albert-ness that I loved, instead of just being a component of the puzzle that made up Albert.


It broke my heart a little.

That's what I think about when I think about Don't Ask, Don't Tell, or laws banning gay marriage, or any sort of act of discrimination, really. It's Albert, and the fact that he knew that people -- even the people who loved him -- would stop seeing all of who he was and just see ONE thing about him, as though that one thing defined the totality of him, and would base their treatment of who he is, and what he deserves as a human being, based on that one thing.

I don't think anyone deserves that. I know Albert didn't. The thought that he thought that might be what I DID think, or how I would react, made me worry that I was a bad friend, as though I seemed unaccepting or judgemental. It still bothers me.


Albert and I have long since lost touch with each other, which makes me sad. I know that life is like that -- that some of our travelling companions are not meant to be by our sides forever, but only get to share a little bit of the journey before seeking alternate routes. I do know this: he taught me to make sure that my heart, and my mind, and my arms are always open to my friends, and not to fail them or let them down. Through watching Albert negotiate through other friendships and relationships as he came out to more people, I learned when to fight and when to shut up... and I learned that someone who will not stand up for a friend is no friend at all. I learned strength and grace, and they were incredibly valuable lessons.


The repeal of don't ask, don't tell was long overdue. The fact that we still have so far to go in this country when it comes to equality and compassion is, frankly, shameful. But tonight, I'll take this victory... and I hope that, wherever Albert is, whatever he's doing, he sees it too, and is hopeful for change. I hope he knows that I'm still his friend... and I hope that he knows that I'm still rooting for him.

Rock on, Albert. I miss you.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (... and I am SO Jealous)

I have periodic bouts of insomnia.


Here's the thing with insomnia -- I never know when it's going to strike. There's no way to predict it. I was told that I should have a standard, pre-going to bed ritual, so I have a kind of routine for getting ready for bed. I was told I shouldn't drink coffee after 2 PM, so I don't. I was told I should cut back on the Diet Coke, so I did.


I did everything.


And every night, I go to bed and fall asleep. Insomnia (for me, at least) has nothing to do with being able to FALL asleep.


It's about being able to STAY asleep.


Some nights, I sleep for two hours... and then it's all over. I'm awake for the rest of the night. If this happens for a few nights in a row, I become a little bit -- off. (Hey, you would too if you went three or four days with only two or three hours of sleep per day.)


The good thing about insomnia -- if indeed there IS a good thing -- is that I have a lot of time to think. I decided to make a narrative of some of the things that bopped into my noggin during my most recent sleepless night. (The things I do for you people).

10:30 PM"... finished the whole Twilight series. The last book was a little confusing to me for two reasons: First, biologically? I don't think male vampires can have sex because they don't have a working heart OR circulation, per say. The second? The author made such a big deal about the fact that vampires lack standard body fluids (sweat, tears) that I'm thinking pregnancy after the impossibility of sex seems VERY unlikely. But for all of that -- yeah, those books were kind of bad, but in the best possible way. They weren't the worst thing I've ever read, that's for sure ... what IS the worst thing I've ever read? Are there any books I've really hated? There was that Maggie's Diary thing that I read in grad school. That was BAD, REALLY bad ... I wonder if that lady is still writing? How come she has published a novel and I haven't? Oh, well, I've never actually finished a novel. That would probably help... how do people find the time to write? Or do anything? I guess I could be writing right now, I'm just laying here. Awake. I wish I could fall asleep. I'm going to be cranky tomorrow. I should just get up. I mean, if I'm going to be awake, there are things I could be doing. Like writing. Except I'd have to put my glasses on and I don't feel like that. Plus my bed is really warm and cozy. I love flannel sheets. I should buy some more flannel sheets. God, I spend a lot of time at Target. How many times a week do I go there? Seriously. That's ridiculous. I must go there two or three times a week. I need to stop shopping. After the holidays, I'm going on a budget. I'm going to sit down and write myself a budget, that's what I'm going to do. After the holidays. Yep. Oh Lord, Christmas is this weekend. I need to finish wrapping presents. I am such a bad present wrapper. All of my presents look like they've been handled by Fezzik in The Princess Bride. I bet he's a bad Christmas present wrapper. I love that movie. I should have picked it up when I was at Target, actually. I haven't watched it in a while. Although, I have seen it and there are so many movies that I've never seen ... I should buy a movie I HAVEN'T seen... no! I should join Netflix, that's what I should do. Then I could watch whatever I feel like watching. Except that I would have to do that AFTER the budget. Right. Riiiiight ... I keep thinking I want to get a tattoo on my right wrist. I need to just make an appointment. Wait, not 'to just' ... should be 'just to make'. Stupid split infinitives. Why do I correct my grammar in my own thoughts? And how come I haven't internalized the split infinitive issue? That's just weird. I'm just weird, I guess... You know what's weird? Those car commercials that had the toys -- sock monkeys and stuff -- driving cars. I thought that was funny, but I didn't get it. Car commercials are weird to me. There are a LOT of perfume commercials on at Christmastime... do perfume sales spike at Christmas? Who buys perfume based on an ad? I don't think anyone is watching tv thinking, 'Wish I smelled like that hot sweaty naked chick' ... wait, I TOTALLY bet people are thinking that. I SO wish I was asleep. I wonder what time it is now?"

10:32 PM

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Times, They Are A-Channnnngin'

Some days, I just feel really old.



I just re-read the above statement and think that, actually, it's not precise. I don't feel old. I know I'm not old. However, some days, I am keenly aware of the passage of time. James Taylor sings that the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time, and perhaps that is true, but there are days when I feel like tracking Time down and kicking his sneaky ass.


Here's what brought this on. I was at Target the other day with Flinkie and we were standing in the middle of the Big Christmas Extravaganza when I had a flash to my younger self at Christmas time. Every year, my mom's friend Leona would give my sister and I Lifesavers StoryBooks.

They were AWESOME.

First, they were shaped like a book! Second, TEN ROLLS OF LifeSavers! Third, the flavours! Cherry. The original Five Flavours. Wintergreen. Peppermint. And Butter Rum.



(if you have no idea what I'm talking about right now? Go here: www.candywarehouse.com/lifesavers-christmas-storybook.html )


It was a book of JOY. My sister and I loved them.


Right then in Target I thought: I have to have one. I've had the Christmas Blues, I've been a little Grinchie, and I need me some Lifesavers.


Thus the quest began. Because, like everything else I decide I must have ... they were nowhere to be found.


Apparently, the StoryBook idea has taken off, and there's a whole line of Wonka candies available in a book. Laffy Taffy. Sweet Tarts. Lik-em-aid (which, seriously, how that works in the fun book box, I have no idea). Then I stumbled across LifeSavers GUMMIES in a Storybook, but my childhood self stared at my adult self and said, sternly, If you buy that, I will harm you. Gummies? Get serious.


I was thinking about giving up (or going to Walmart, because it's across the street) when I spied them. The familiar red box with Santa on the front, eyes twinkling, delicious, glorious, hard candy Life Savers inside. The StoryBook! It was mine! For a mere $2.99! My Christmas memories were restored!


Well, they were SORT of restored.


There used to be 10 rolls of Lifesavers in the book -- five rolls on each side. Now there are six rolls, total. Which seemed weird to me, but then I thought, my sad slow adult metabolism doesn't need ten rolls of LifeSavers. So not a big deal.


There used to be five different kinds of flavour options. Now there are three.


This was when I felt sort of like an old person describing her youth to a young whippersnapper "You see, sonny boy, in MY day we had all sorts of flavours! None of this original, cherry, and tropical nonsense! We had two kinds of MINT! WE HAD BUTTER RUM! You kids ... you have no idea what you're missing ..."


Because I do miss them. I miss the minty goodness (and the spark in the dark!) of the wintergreen. I miss the icy, frozen mouth sensation of the pepp-0-mint. I miss the warm, almost toffee gloriousness of the butter rum.


But it's more than that, isn't it?

Of course it is.


We miss things -- like the LifeSavers StoryBook, a beloved stuffed animal, a favorite swimming hole -- not because we loved the thing so much, though I suppose that sometimes we do. It's because we love what we associate with the things, isn't it? It's because we adored the person who gave us the book, who we were when we received that stuffed animal, who we were holding hands with when we jumped into the water. We invest the thing with the meaning, so it's more than simply a silly box of candy... and when we go back as an adult, in a different time of life, isn't it always disappointing? The lake where you had your adventures is revealed as a tiny pond. The stuffed animal that featured in your stories is a sad, one-eyed bear. The box of candy that seemed like such a treasure is just a cardboard shell filled with the wrong flavours and missing the secret ingredient which made all of those things magical.


As my friend Annie told me one day, in a near-whisper: "The secret ingredient is LOVE."


Without the secret ingredient, it's just a box of candies that some marketing guru has reworked until it little resembles my childhood memories, making me feel ... keenly aware of the passage of time.


However, I did have a happier thought. When my nephew is old enough to have candy, I'm getting him one of these. Every year ... and I will make sure that it is full of the secret ingredient. Some childhood memories are too sweet not to pass on.





Sparkling Vampires, Unite! (WARNING: This is about Twilight)

I read the first two books in the Twilight series yesterday (please note my refusal to refer to it as the Twilight "saga". SAGA? Really, people).

They exceeded my expectations in that they were actually ... readable. However, I should probably note that my expectations were very low. How low? An analogy, if you will: I was thinking that Stephanie Meyer is to literature as Miley Cyrus is to music.

Low, people. They were low.

My new analogy: Stephanie Meyer is to literature as ... um, let me think ... KE$HA is to music. Oh sure, she's not very good, but her songs are SO damn catchy that you can't stop humming them. "Woke up in the morning feeling like P Diddy -- oh DAMMIT! KE$HA, GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" Like that.

However, I do have some questions/comments/general observations and I'm just going to throw them out there:

1. Bella is the first character I've ever read about who's as clumsy as I am AND gets the guy. Of course, her guy is the undead. But whatever.

2. Here's how everyone in Forks should be able to determine who is a vampire/ werewolf: They're the ones with the interesting or old fashioned names. Mike = not a vampire. Jasper? Totally a vampire. It makes sense, really -- who ever heard of a vampire named Mike?

3. Finally, the mystery of Jacob's shirtlessness resolved for me. Every time I saw a commercial for those movies I felt sad for the exploitation of Taylor Lautner's youthful abs, and now -- it's all clear because according to Meyer: Werewolves are HOT. Literally. (also, you know, they don't like to carry their clothes with them when they transform, and it's hard to put a backpack on when you no longer have opposible thumbs. Obviously.)

4. I don't get the Team Jacob/ Team Edward goofiness. Bella CLEARLY prefers the dead guy and ONLY considers hooking up with Jacob as what she admits is an inferior and self serving way. Bella, actually, is a bit of a bitch. "I don't want a birthday party! Rescue me! Don't protect me! OMG, save me from Victoria! Now go away! Make me a vampire!" Blah blah blah. Annoying.

5. It occurs to me that the fact that Bella faints/gets exceptionally ill at the sight and smell of blood means that becoming a vampire is probably a poor lifestyle choice. No?

6. The fact that Bella is in love with a vampire, best friends with a werewolf, and goes to see a zombie movie in an effort to avoid a "romantic film" is hysterical to me ... because ... wouldn't another class of undead/ monster types actually BE a romantic film for her? ("The zombies interested me, because they were so strangely beautiful ... and I realized I didn't know any zombies ... but in Forks, anything could happen...")

7. From a cultural perspective, I don't know how I feel about the fact that the Native American tribesmen are the werewolves. That's sort of taking the "savages" moniker to new and very uncomfortable levels.

8. Charlie Swan may be the most clueless person ever. Book one: Bella tells him she hates it there and takes off to Arizona with vampires, is almost crushed by a car (but Edward saved her!), is almost killed and ends up in the hospital, and has multiple other incidents and near misses. Also, her boyfriend is there EVERY NIGHT. Book Two: Bella nearly drowns, gets lost in the woods, and takes off to Italy (but she leaves her dad a NOTE), again with vampires, but only after becoming best friends with a werewolf. Also, she gets a motorcycle. NONE of these things does Charlie see coming. I don't really see Sherrif Swan as an effective crime solver -- anyone?

9. I like how Meyer throws out the Romeo and Juliet references heavily. REALLY? You want us to compare your book to SHAKESPEARE? (Trust me. You don't want me to do that, Miss Meyer.)

10. I am distracted by the awfulness of Edward's dialogue. (and enough of the "you smell like a wet dog" comments, Meyer! We get it! They're wolves! ENOUGH!)

Halfway through book three. Will keep y'all posted.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, December 19th

1. The cardinal that decided to grace my balcony with its presence this morning. It was lovely, though I don't believe my cat agreed that it should be there.

2. Good movies with good friends.

3. Flannel sheets (though they do make it difficult to get out of bed on a chilly morning) and petal soft socks.

4. French onion soup.

5. A new Schooner Fare album with which to sing along while I work.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Saturday Photos

Last weekend, I discovered that there's a nature trail behind my apartment building, so I went to check it out.





It was early, and the sun was just beginning to peek through the trees.











Like being inside a Robert Frost poem.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

And So This Is Christmas

I don't have a Christmas tree this year. There are many reasons for this. One is that I'm allergic to real trees, so I can't have one in the house. (Well, that's not exactly true. I could have one in the house, but I couldn't touch it, so it would be a weirdly undecorated tree. I also couldn't water it, so it would be a weirdly undecorated, bone-dry tree that sheds pine needles the way angora sweaters shed fuzzies, which is to say everywhere, at all opportunities.) I can hear you thinking, but one doesn't need to get a real tree. There are all manners of artificial tree -- buy one.

Well, yes.

But.

I live in an apartment. I love my apartment. However, there's not a lot of storage. As in, I have made maximum use of every cabinet and closet and have been quite clever with the "watch as I cram 8 tons of stuff into this 6 ton space whooooo hoooo" department. Good for me. The beauty of the real tree, aside from the real tree being actually lovely and delicious smelling, is that they're ... um ... biodegradable. At the end of the season? Bye bye tree!

Artifical, hypoallergenic trees? They stay with you. Forever.

I have no place to put a tree. That doesn't stop me from thinking Christmas tree thoughts. I keep ALMOST buying one. Go to Target, wind up in the tree section, put smallish, tasteful, pre-lit tree in cart ... and then the reality fairy smacks me in the forehead and asks, in a quiet (yet determined) voice, "And where will this tree live after Christmas?"

Tree goes back on shelf and I slink away, defeated... and it is a definite slinking, because what's more Christmas-y than a tree? Not very much. So off I go without a tree, and with, frankly, not a lot of holiday spirit.

I'm struggling with Christmas this year. Usually, I am a holly jolly jingle bell elf. I like Christmas music. I love my decorations and have been collecting them for years. I wrap the gifts and I watch other people make cookies and I then eat the cookies and I melt Christmas scented candles and I am SUPER FESTIVE DAMMIT.

But without a tree ... and without my family ...

And maybe, at the end of the day, that's the deal. Without my family. I have never spent Christmas so far away from everyone. It's ... quiet. It doesn't bother me very much -- except, of course, for when it does. And when it does, I run to the store, thinking, TREE. As if the tree will be the thing that binds all of my broken holiday bits back together, as if I can depend on some wire and fake pine needles to create a sense of warmth and sentiment in my shabby, patched-up heart. It won't, of course. I don't need a tree to make me feel the holiday. I need my sister, sitting on the floor, passing out gifts. I need my dad, watching us go through our Christmas stockings while he smokes a cigarette in the doorway, drinking coffee and trying desperately to wake up. I need my mom, decorating the mantle while we sing along to the Carpenter's Christmas album.

But as we used to sing: "We greet you a friend and welcome a stranger/Let him sing and cheer him on his way"; there's been a good deal of that, too. People are welcoming and lovely. My friends -- the family I've made, the people I love -- have gone well out of their way to make me part of their families, so I won't be lonely or sad. If there's anything that makes me realize how alive and vibrant the holidays are, it is that: people are so giving this time of year. Not just with gifts and things, but giving of themselves. Their time. Their caring.

It's true, I don't have a Christmas tree, and I'm not being terribly festive this year. But for all of that, I also have to say that I have never seen the spirit of Christmas move so freely and joyfully through others. Maybe I needed to be a little apart to see and appreciate it -- and to take it in and try to incorporate that into my daily life. After all, it's more easily stored -- and more easily shared -- than any kind of Christmas tree I could buy.

(As a side note: if you are in the market for a real tree, and you live in Southern Maine/Southern New Hampshire, there's no better place for a tree than Riverside Farm. Check them out here: www.riversidefarmstand.com )

Guess Who's Back ... Back Again

Yes, it's me. (Though, in an older SNL reference, am forced to say: "I'm neither slim NOR shady. Discuss...)

I'm getting a jump start on a New Year's resolution, which is to blog every day. EVERY DAY WITH THE BLOGGING. (This makes my brain go: Whoa, that's a LOT of blogging...)

Here's what I see as the potential issues with the concept of daily blogging:

A. You might get bored. ("Is she seriously blathering on AGAIN? She needs to get a grip! Does she think we care about this nonsense?")

B. I might run out of things to write about. As such, you are STRONGLY encouraged to post blog ideas here or on Facebook. Got a question? Think something would be super amusing? Bring it, people!

At any rate, today is the first day of a big bunch o' blogs. As such, I am going to make 15 random statements, some of which may (or may not ... you're all subject to my whims! Bwah hah haaaaaaah!) make it into expanded posts later, but all of which should probably be giving you a little window into the mess that is my noggin:

1. Why is the toilet cleaner I use scented like mint? What's the deal with minty toilet water? I get the lemon scented cleaners -- because Lemon/Citrus is clearly the smell of clean -- but Mint? REALLY? Who thought of that? (Personally, I don't think mouthwash and toilets should smell the same. I'm just saying)

2. Tofu. Love it. Except ... it's squeaky. Mildly disturbing.

3. Announcing that you have no Christmas tree opens one up to a plethora of reactions. Am I Jewish? Is it a political statement? Do I hate Christmas? Weirdness.

4. I'm turning 35 in 11 days. I have big plans for this year. Biiiiiiig plans. Stay tuned.

5. I fully recognize that I need to plan a vacation ... but I also recognize that I'm bad at vacationing, because I'm very ... er, what's the word ... overscheduled. As in: I will so overschedule a vacation that it becomes like work 2.0. It's a problem. (Although, as it's currently all of 15 degrees outside, work 2.0 on a beach in Mexico? I could TOTALLY be okay with that)

6. How come the holidays make so many people act like jackasses? Merry freaking Christmas to you too. Which leads me to ...

7. ... my history of working in retail makes me boycott Black Friday shopping. While you were eating your turkey and thinking about getting up early on Friday and enjoying the sales? I was already at work, prepping for the madness. Making someone work a mandatory 13 hour shift, beginning at 10 PM ON THANKSGIVING so I could get a sweater for 20% off? I don't think so.

8. Am I the only vegetarian who feels like imitation meat products are like cheating? I love fake bacon ... but I feel like if I was a "real" vegetarian, I wouldn't even eat that. (Ah, guilt, it's how I roll...)

9. Smartcars look like roller skates.

10. Who gets to be the person who invents candle smells for, say, Yankee Candle? How do I get in on that gig? "Let's make a candle that smells exactly like the air after it rains in, like, August... you know, that smell like the earth is breathing? THAT SMELL. Let's make that." (By the way ... I would buy that. I LOVE that smell.)

11. Tipping at restaurants is not optional ... it should be 20%, and you should round up when in doubt. I'm just saying.

12. I don't understand Bluetooth or why people use it. I don't care that you can talk to anyone, anytime -- you look like a doofus.

13. I have mocked Twilight like it's my job, but I still haven't read it. Again with the guilt... I don't think I should continue to make fun of it without reading it ... so I might have to cave. (But I would like to say it again: Vampires don't sparkle in the sunlight. They burst into flame. It's not so sexy.)

14. Some people have kids. Some people have pets. (Some people have both, but that's another matter). If I tell you I have a cat and you immediately say "I hate cats"? It's sort of like I said I have a child and you've announced "I HATE children." Why would you do that?

15. Who invented nail polish? Who decided that having coloured fingernails would be such a great idea? (My mother doesn't believe a woman is fully dressed for public viewing without nail polish on.)

Let the daily blogging commence!